Wednesday, July 29, 2015



Today was pirate day at camp today.  Look at this amazing costume that Keyla put together!  Arrrrrrr....


Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Last week, I was in Montana for training. Missoula first, which is where one of our partners are located. They are a fun bunch, very talented considering their location. Of course, they were pretty hospitable too and had planned activities for us after training was over. Here, we all are on a pedal pub crawl. We all get on this wagon that has like 8 bike pedals attached to it and go drinking from bar to bar.  It is a good thing downtown Missoula is dead flat. :)

After training was over, Marissa and I had planned to go to Glacier National Park afterwards.  We figured we had very few chances to go to Montana, and Glacier was only 2.5 hours away. Also, Marissa's roommate, Kristy, had work up in Montana, so she joined us in the adventure. 

Little did we know, however, that a roaring fire would happen in the park, and basically close down on of the main attractions to the park: The Going to the Sun road, which apparently, is an engineering marvel. The fire was furiously burning thru 4000 acres of land, and we were frantically trying to figure out if we were going to be smoked out or not. 

Good thing as that it seemed fine in the areas we want to go, so we went. :)

Saturday We made it up to Grinnell Glacier. About 30 minutes after this photo was taken, we saw a grizzly with two cubs on the road. They had come from above the trail, across it, and down into the valley.  Apparently it was close enough that people from the other side of the trail were motioning us to stay where we were while the bears crossed down. 

Sunday, we booked a two hour horseback ride. Marissa is a seasoned horseback rider while Kristy and I were totally newbies. Kristy promptly turned into a twelve year old girl and squealed at the sight of the horses. I, however, was completely cocky and told Marissa that I had never fallen from a horse before.  Of course, ten minutes after this horse photo was taken, Ike - my steed - tripped on a log and sent me tumbling off the saddle.  Good thing I was A) wearing a helmet B) in a grassy field, and C) kinda used to crashing from mtn biking so much. Now, I have a perfect record for falling every time I have ridden a horse. 

Monday, July 27, 2015


donald on a horse

Since Mom and Dad aren't on Facebook, I feel compelled to (every once in a while) download photos that I think they would enjoy seeing.  So here's Donald (in orange) on a horse in front of some mountains.  Looks like fun!


I dropped Vince off at camp in the late afternoon.  This is the only photo he let me take of him, he shoo-ed me out as soon as the bags hit the ground on the dorm floor.  I offered to put the sheets on the mattress (I'm worried that he's going to spend the whole week sleeping directly on the mattress).  He wouldn't let me do it.  He did give me a hug on the way out.



To wrap up the day, I had dinner with my usual suspects.  It's hard to get all five of us together at once.  We had to do it in two shifts.  Someday we'll all be together in both time and space.  None of this virtual stuff.   xoxo.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Back home and then out again.


Vince came home from a week at Chincoteague with Bryson's family.  It was a week of glorious weather (it was even glorious back home in Rockville), they went to the beach everyday.  I got these photos from Bryson's mom - crabbing and mini-golfing.  Vince said that they went oyster picking?diving? harvesting? or maybe it's just oystering?, anyways, they went to pluck oysters from the bay and opened them right where they were standing and ate them raw.  Vince is an adventurous eater. Today, he's packing for a week of computer camp at Georgetown University.  He's home for just about 48 hours before he heads back out.

I think these photos were taken on Wed - he came home wearing the same clothes on Friday night.  He said that he took a shower everyday and changed back into the dirty clothes.  Sigh.  I asked him on the next overnight came to shower and then try to change into clean clothes.   He said he would try, but no promises.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

U Street Shower & Its Built-in Stool

I finished the frame work of our shower place with built-in stool after receiving the shower base several days ago.  The stool is slight slope toward the shower base for easy water draining.

The toiler also has its place and it is in that corner of picture 2.  When tub arrives, I will work on the other side but it is much easier.

Friday, July 24, 2015



This week, I went to the office for the first time in a long time.  I met my friend Andy for lunch and I gave him my copy of "The Martian" that I read earlier this summer where a guy gets stuck on the Martian surface and has to figure out a way to get home - he ends up doing a lot of chemisty and botany and navigational calculations.  He was reading a book about the history of the number e.   We are such dorks.


Today I had lunch with Eliana and Keyla.  Eliana spoke with Keyla during the au pair selection process 6 months ago to tell her about Edda and Vince and to tell her what living with us was like, but they hadn't yet met in real life.  I wanted to take them to have Indian food - but both of them said it was going to be too spicy and they preferred to have regular American food.  The au pair program has been wonderful for us, I feel very motherly to these young ladies and, in return, they have cared for and loved my kids.  We make a very odd set of girlfriends though, each one of us in a different phase of adult life, all from different countries - I could see that the waitress was trying to figure out exactly how we were all friends.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Things that I'm doing.


I bought Edda a few bras last week.  It was time, she's starting middle school in a few weeks.  Can I figure out a way to freeze time?  I want neither my children nor my parents to get any older.  I don't really care about myself, I'm perfectly fine with getting older.  I know that would be weird.  But really, everyone is the perfect age right now!  OK, maybe if you asked my mom and dad, they might think ten years ago would have been the perfect age.


Edda's pediatrician called to follow up with her Lyme disease.  There are certain things with which the Internet is of no use and Lyme disease is one of them.  I can not sort out the crazy from the not-crazy.  All I have is the CDC.  I'm clinging to the CDC - hopefully they are not filled with crazies, but they were a little behind with the protective gear with Ebola, but whatever.  And I also feel this acute resistance to checking anything about it online because I just want to stick my fingers in my ears and go "la-la-la, I can't hear you".  Of course, the first question that the pediatrician asks is if she is symptomatic.  Is she fatigued, do her joints hurt?  These simple questions, for me, are essentially unanswerable and I could just put them in the same catagory as questions like, "what is the meaning of life?".  I've been getting texts from Edda's camp counselor every couple of days saying that she's tired and sleepy in the afternoon.   I get these kind of texts all the time.  For years.  From all the people.  Now I get these texts and think, crappy, she's got Lyme.  It's going to invade her brain and then she's going to have two crappy things happening to her brain.  Anyways, the pediatrician and I came up with a plan!  We have a plan!  I'm going with the plan and it will be OK.  Or it will just be.

(update: Edda's counselor just texted me - she had a fantastic day today!  Relief. Now maybe she doesn't have Lyme.)


I'm buying myself a brand-new water heater today.  I feel very lucky to have hot water.  Jeremy will be pleased - we got a brand-new super-duper-efficient power-vent 75-gallon water heater.  The plumber apologized and said that we could have gotten the job done for 20% less about three months ago before the new EPA efficiency rules kicked in.  I laughed and said, oh I'm sure my husband helped put those rules in place, we are happy to pay the extra 20%.  Well, Jeremy is 100% pleased, but me?  I'm half pleased - the more virtuous half of me is happy, the more stingy half of me is not really pleased.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A big day!


Edda had "tacky tourist" day today at camp.  Keyla made an amazing camera out of cardboard and duct tape.  She just needed her own selfie stick.

We went outside for a walk after dinner tonight.  All the way to the Great Falls overlook.  Even though I run within a quarter mile of the overlook almost every weekend, I haven't been to see the falls in a long, long time.


A bit of sunset watching for everyone.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015



Edda has decided that her bed time is no longer 8:30pm.  Instead, she prefers to go to sleep at 9:45pm.  This has thown a wrench into our regular evening routine because I enjoy being in bed and asleep at 10 pm.  It has taken me a few weeks to understand that this is what Edda has been trying to tell me - a few painful weeks were I've been in bed with Edda from 8:30pm to 9:45pm getting more and more frustrated about how she was not going the *&^&!! to sleep.  Now I've conceeded this fight to my daughter, I will be the one to move around when I do certain important things like writing this blog post.


Vince got invited to a friend's beach house for the week.  He left yesterday and won't be back until Saturday morning when then he gets to turn around and go to sleep-away computer camp for a week. Lucky boy.  All I can say is that Vince really knows how to have a good time.  This was suppose to be another unscheduled week for Vince, staying up late, watching movies and playing video games.  Now he gets to do all that, but closer to the beach and without me bugging him to brush his teeth or take a shower.



I took some head shots for my friend Abaneh last Friday.  I'm happy how these turned out, the background could have been smoothed out a bit more, but I like the lighting.  This was outside in the backyard with her holding a white posterboard in her hands to reflect light back up into her face.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dad week wrap up...


On Thursday, the boys had chartered a boat to go fishing on the Chesapeake.  Everyone dreamed of catching rockfish and eating it at the BBQ we were going to host the next night.  By now, the group of 5 boys expanded to 7 and they all headed out of Rockville at 4 am to make the 6:30 am launch time.  By 8:30 am, I got a text from Jeremy telling me that the trip was a bust.  The day was beautiful, but the swells were really high and that meant that there were a lot of queasy people on the boat.  And to make matters even worse, they could see all the fish on the radar, but no fish were biting!  They didn't catch a single fish.  They decided to cut their losses and head back to shore early empty handed.



When Jeremy got home, he lamented to me that he thought it had all been his fault.  He told me that after the boat launched from dock, one of the boys saw a sign that indicated that bananas were not allowed on the boat.  They boy asked the captain what the deal was with bananas and the captain said it was really, really bad luck for any bananas to be on board.  Jeremy then realized there was a single banana hidden in the bags of snacks/lunches/etc.  What was he going to do?  Was he going to own up to having a banana?  Do you throw it overboard?  He decided to keep quiet about it.  But that banana did work its bad luck into the trip...  At the closing dinner with all the families, he told the banana story and we did some research that indicated if the banana had been thrown overboard, their luck would have turned around.  Oh well.

Here's the infamous banana:


Jeremy is relieved to be going back to work.  Wrangling boys as a camp counselor is hard work.  We use a texting program that will not only give you texts on your phone, but it'll also send the texts to your computer.  Here's what Jeremy's evening texting looked like during the camp week:


U Street Duct Work

In order to concentrate on my drain vent work, I decided to finish our duct work first.  Basically, the original air intake now is inside the addition (circle inside the square, picture 1) which needs to be plugged in and sealed.  The other side of this intake was also plugged and sealed (white circle, picture 2).  The duct was extended to the new location (elbow, picture 3) and out (triangle, picture 3).  The original garage opening just below the new air-intake (rectangle patch) was also sealed and moved far away from the new air-intake (one of the building code requirements).  The new garage opening is now one of those rectangle glass window on the far right (not in the picture) by removing the glass and replacing with screen wires (Mom's Idea of the Year).  This way, no new opening on any wall is needed and there is no noticeable changes.  Pretty neat!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Peter Pan


Dearest loves -

We are all recuperating from a week of dad camp, it concluded last night with a barbecue dinner for all of the families who trusted Jeremy to haul their sons all over the wilderness of Maryland.  I have more photos to share from Jeremy and Vince's Excellent Adventure, but I wanted to first highlight Edda's performance in Peter Pan on Thursday night.  Edda was fabulous as a member of Peter Pan's Indian tribe.  Kara did a great job as Edda's inclusion counselor.  Keyla plaited Edda's hair into two tight French braids.  We are very lucky to have such a great program so close to the house which means that Edda can have a summer full of swimming, theatre and friends.  Towards the end of the performance, the kids were kind of forgetting their lines and laughing at each other trying to prompt the next lines from each other.  Then Cpt. Hook, in one of the big fight scenes, sent his hook skittering across the stage which sent the whole cast into uncontrollable giggles which then made all of us in the audience laugh.  Very sweet.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Day #1 - dad camp.

Day 1 (Monday) the boys went and did a five mile hike to visit Wolf Rock/Chimney Rock  up at Catoctin.  As this was the first day, Jeremy was nervous.  He planned this week off of work to host dad camp about a year ago when we realized that he was accruing vacation at a faster rate than I was.

But because this was planned so far in advance, he couldn't have predicted that he would be swamped with work the days/weeks leading up to this week-long adventure.  Last week, he was frantically trying to tie up loose ends at work and plan all the details of this trip.  On Sunday night it looked like it was going to be steady rain on Mon/Tues, the big camping days of the week, he was thinking that it might just be kind of a miserable experience for the boys - but what can you do?

But Monday was fabulous, the day was overcast but not raining, so it wasn't too hot.  The boys were rested and eager to hang out with each other.  The dad who volunteered this day had never been hiking before, so it was nice to introduce him and his son to the great outdoors.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mulch & Moisture-Resistance Wall

Mom got more mulch for the backyard.  I have already hauled away those on the driveway, about 1/3. Today before playing Mahjon with Mom's friends by draft (I guess one short of two tables), I installed the moisture-resistance plastic sheets on the wall without any penetration, even for the nails.  It will prevent an unlikely situation that water in the shower place with two faucets going into the electrical stuffs inside the wall.  The sheet is about 8 feet high, higher than the water lines.  Should be okay.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


OK, I was going to post a long post about Jeremy and Vince's Excellent Adventure (which continues for the rest of the week), but I'm too tired to download photos.  Jeremy is taking the whole week off work and taking Vince and 4 pals on a crazy week-long "dad" camp.  The other dads are each all taking a day off and volunteering one day.  So far there has been hiking, rock climbing, chili making, cabin occupying, s'more making, fire lighting, class-3 rapid water rafting (and being dumped into the Potomac) and it's been only 48 hours.  Jeremy is red-lining his logistics capability with ten-thousand emails, texts, keeping track of costs, planning meals, and personalities.  It is crazy.  And according to the boys and the parents, it has been crazy fun for all involved.  Boys have been on their best behavior, weather has been coorperating, etc.


Lest you think that I have had a quiet few days here while the boys were gone, things don't stay still here either.  Edda had her teeth checked on Monday, the dentist is recommending that we pull a misplaced molar that ended up in her palate and all her wisdom teeth and put sealants on her molars. This involves coordinating with an oral surgeon, an operating room, and our own pediatric dentist and insurance.  The estimated date of this surgery is Sept/Oct, it's going to take that long to pull it (ha ha - dental joke there...) together.

Also, today I had a plumber come and declare that our rediculously expensive water heater is kaput. I don't even want to write down the quote I got from the plumber.  Our house is filled with very expensive appliances that look really great and have many great features that, when they break (which is often), I can't believe they even make appliances that expensive.  The plumber today actually said to me - you might want to sit down when I hand you this quote.  I sat down.


I have no photo today.  So you have Ruby.


All Wiring of U Street Addition Completed

Today, I finished landline telephone wiring (3) and two cable outlets.  In order to do that, I needed to open up the "wire panel" (did that two years ago when I moved all communication gears ~eight feet to the front to make room for addition) in the garage right against the electric boxed.

I guess all wiring is completed and will move on to drain vent and plumbing rough-in.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Safe + twenty years.

Safe 3

Twenty years ago today, Jeremy took me to see the movie Safe and then after being dropped off at the front steps of my grad student housing, through some convoluted communication not involving texting, he ended up kissing me on the steps of the Chemical Engineering department.

Well, he didn't exactly take just me to see the movie Safe.  We had a regular thing going with our grad school friends where on Thursday nights, we'd all meet (all 8 or 10 of us) to go to a movie.  The movie the week prior to Safe was Apollo 13.  Jeremy did not go to see Apollo 13 (even though it was known that he was free) and therefore, I concluded, was not interested in dating me even though I was very interested in dating him.  The simplest explaination is at that time Jeremy was kind of an art-house movie snob.  This story is such a part of our history that whenever I want to see a summer blockbuster movie, I never even think of inviting Jeremy to see it with me.  Which results in questions like, "You saw Skyfall without me?  I totally wanted to see that!" which still makes me a confused wife.

But, our engineering friends, being ever so clever, arranged for the regular meeting time to go to Safe, but then behind our backs, called each other and made sure that no one showed up except me and Jeremy.  Well, except Dave who had failed to get the message not to show up.  So Jeremy and I went on our first date without knowing that it was our first date and we went on it with Dave, who also didn't know that he was the fifth (third?) wheel on our first date.

Every year, July rolls around and we think about watching Safe together again.  We never do.  It's not a very good movie, even though I'm a huge Julianne Moore fan.  This year, we can't even think about watching it together tonight because Jeremy is out camping in some cabin with Vince and a bunch of Vince's buddies.  More on that tomorrow.

One of the Two Master Bedroom Closets inside the Bath

In order to figure out exact layout of toilet, shower, tub and vanity in the bath, I erected more possible framing inside its rectangular boundary.  Today, I finished a closet framing (front face came with the framing work done by the contractor) of the Master Bedroom.  Tub will be at the corner of that opaque window against this closet.  I will finish other opposite closet once the shower base arrives with exact type and dimensions.

Next job is for landline telephone and cable connection.  Of course, I have to remove a truck load of mulch from the front to the back.  Will keep me busy for a while.  I might install a conversation plastic tube between this addition and upstairs Master Bedroom for safety reason.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

This old house.


We have reached some critical age in the life of our house.  Everything is starting to break all at once - which is fine.  I understand that things need to be repaired and maintained, but, you know, I don't really need to go to Home Depot six times over the same number of days.  I'm trying to be all zen about it, trying not to get frustrated, trying not to get annoyed.  Today, (on my first trip to Home Depot) I bought a power washer to power wash the deck ($159).  Vince put it together, I got all the safety equipment: rubber boots, sound ear muffs and eye protection and then - it didn't work (but I managed to get soaked and I did cut myself again (thumb)).  So back to Home Depot to return the thing.  I didn't exchange it, I just returned it because I had used up all my enthusiasm and momentum for the day.  No way was I going to try again to wash the deck anymore today.  Maybe another day, maybe never.   I'm going to change the name of this blog from Just Regular Folks to Just Going to Home Depot.  We are just going to spend the rest of my life on this blog talking about home repair.


Sunday night dinner at our house, hosted by Bob.  Takeout Chinese food from the Great Wall and Taste of Shanghai.



During dinner, the hot water heater failed.  We went downstairs, noticed water (!) coming out the bottom and the gas locked out.  We fixed the heater by wiping the gas burners (again learning from the internets that sometimes soot falls on the burners and trips a circuit or detector and shuts the water heater down) and I wiped up the water and hopefully tomorrow (after it leaks some more) I can figure out where it's coming from.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday -

The original weekend plan was for Jeremy, Vince and Bob to leave last night (Friday after a full day of work for Jeremy, a full day of travel for Bob and a sleepover video game extravaganza for Vince)  with backpacks and go hiking on the Appalachian trail for two nights.  That didn't happen (they ended up doing a morning day hike on the Billy Goat trail), but because Edda and I were planning on having a whole free Saturday, she and I went to see one of our  favorite toddlers, Bert.

Edda and I hung out with Bert, Karuna and Vickey.  We had a great lentil/sweet potato soup/curry.  We talked about politics (well, mainly Hillary) and allergies.



I came home around five pm and decided to fix (another) dripping faucet.  This time it took only one trip to Home Depot.  And I managed not to hurt myself and bleed all over the sink.