Thursday, October 19, 2017

High school, orthotics, Chinese.

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Someone posted this photo on Facebook today.  This was almost exactly 30 years ago!  Being a teenager was tough for me, but I seemed to have been having some fun.  I'm wearing my favorite Chem-a-thon shirt (our team was 2nd in the state!) and what's the deal with the red-stripy shorts?  I don't remember them.  I'm also trying to figure out what watch I'm wearing.  I've worn a timex ironman watch most of my life, but I think in high school, I had a classic Mickey Mouse watch with a red strap and the watch I'm wearing in this photo seems to be neither.

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I took Edda to an orthotics appointment for her foot/ankle orthotics.  The ones we have seem fine, we could get a new pair (based on the insurance schedule), but I need to see a physical medicine doc to get a fitting for a new wheelchair and the orthosist thought that as long as I was going to see a physical med guy, that we should get his opinion on what type of foot orthotic to get.  So I left with nothing except to instructions to go see someone else.  Sometimes appointments like that make me feel like I've accomplished nothing.  Leah, the orthosist, kind of agreed with Ogeten (Edda's back surgeon) and thought that the ankle will be stable as long as we brace it well.  But she mentioned we could go see Sponseller at Hopkins for another opinion.  Well, Sponseller will probably want us to operate, which I don't want to do right now since we just did our major operation this year.  One major surgery enough for us this year.  And if we did get her foot operated on, she'd need to be off her feet for months.  That would be a terrible & hard recovery.

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Vince is messing up Chinese.  It's hard, requires lots of memorization and a lot of the class is failing.   Even though Vince & my dad are practicing every day for 45 min or so, it's still hard for Vince because he's not really drilling the vocab or the grammar patterns.  (Vince still thinks going over something a couple of times is "knowing" it, but it's not really true.  He thinks it's true though.)  My dad is headed out of town tomorrow, so it's going to be me drilling Vince on Chinese.  Remember, I'm illiterate, so it's not very efficient for me to teach Vince Chinese.  I know Vince should make all his flash cards, but it's taken me two hours to make this week's flash cards, so it would probably take Vince 5 hours to make them, so it's just not going to happen if I make him do it.  I got my dad to translate a bunch of phrases, my dad only knows complicated characters.  I have to take the complicated characters and then look them up to get the phonetic spelling and the possible simplified character version and then make the flash cards.  My dad makes this a more, ahem, challenging by making simple "spelling" errors in his Chinese characters which sends me off in odd directions in my Chinese dictionary translations. 

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Quilt, dinner, doing the reading.

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Loves, I made a quilt square today  (these are test fabrics.  my real fabrics are waaaayyyy cooler.)

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My parents arrived last week and will go off again in a couple of days on a cruise.  Mom was nice enough to make dinner for us tonight at our house.

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They met Arietni.  Someone who hasn't heard all their jokes before.  Fun times.  Edda couldn't be bothered to turn around, silly girl.

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Maxi was super excited to see my mom cooking again.  It can only mean one thing, a whole plate of meat for her (I don't think she got it this time though...)

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Vince is struggling in Chinese & in US history.  I'm trying to teach him to study.  Today he came home and said (sounding surprised), I actually knew the answers to the questions she asked in class today.  Because you did the reading?  Or I dragged you through the reading?  I would have preferred if he read the whole packet on interest groups, PACs and collective goods, but there wasn't enough time (I certainly would have read the whole thing - less than 20 pages) (actually, I think there was enough time, but I couldn't imagine him making himself read the entire packet), so I taught him how to study without reading the whole thing - getting the general overview, looking at the highlighted terms and then using the review sheet to backwards indicate the important passages. 

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Philmont planning, Words with Friends, fried chicken.

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Jeremy was out tonight - went to Bethesda to the area coordination meeting for the Boy Scouts for the Philmont (New Mexico) hiking trip he's leading summer of 2019.  Yes, you have to plan 2 years in advance.  Jeremy'll be collecting names and deposits within the month.  (Vince's take on letting girls become scouts is a resounding thumbs down.  We'll see if his opinion changes in the next few years.)

Edda was having a bit of trouble settling down tonight, so I crawled into bed with her and started playing Words with Friends. Then Vince joined in and wanted to show me youtube videos about taste testing fried chicken.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sewing book, angry birds, parents.

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While I was putting on my running shoes this morning, I noticed in the bookshelf the Singer Sewing Book!  It goes with Jeremy's Grandma Edda's sewing machine.  With such gems like - "Never place a machine where it is hard to reach.  Let it be a part of your household equipment as much as your electric iron or mixer."  or "Prepare yourself mentally for sewing.  Think about what you are going to do."  and "When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible.  Go through a beauty ritual of orderliness.  Have on a clean dress." and "Again sewing must be approached with the idea that you are going to enjoy it, and if you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband come home and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing as you should."

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Maybe I should not let my husband see me like this:

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I came home from a run just in time to high five Jeremy on his way out on a bike ride.  No child care days means a more tightly run ship.  I wanted to have lunch with my parents at noon with Jeremy.  Jeremy wanted to go on a 3.5-4 hour ride, which meant that I needed to be back from my run at 7:30 ideally, which means I should be out the door by 6:15.  That did not quite happen, I ended up reading the sewing book and procrastinating getting out the door, so I didn't get home until almost 8 am, which resulted in a quicker turnaround than would have been ideal.

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While Jeremy was out, I scooted Edda into a chair with a safety belt and put her in front of the TV so I could see her from the garage and then my neighbor Mike came by with his miter saw to help me with my Angry Birds catapult.  I am scared of this saw.

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So I needed Mike to help me with the bracing 45 degree angles.

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And we got it put together.  Don't get too excited.  It broke after this.

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And look!  my parents are back on the East Coast.  They came over for chinese food for lunch.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pumpkin cookies, grumpy hike, Singer featherweight.

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A quiet Friday night, it was just us - it's not often we have dinner only the four of us.  Jeremy was a little late coming home, he needed to pick up replacement glasses from Warby Parker (they disappoint him still, but they fit better now.  I think we will no longer go to WP).  I made a quick dinner which turned out nicely, that always surprises me because I'm the worst cook in the house.   Vince made some pumpkin cookies after dinner.

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Today we went hiking in Frederick.  There might have been some teenage grumpiness during this trip.  I will curate that part out of my retelling.  The woods were beautiful.

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We ended up at a hipster bike/coffee shop.  Vince spent a lot of time on his phone.

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Then we dropped the still-slightly grumpy teenager off at home and then we went to Home Depot to grab a sander and caulk.  We need to do some work on the basement before the new tenants moved in.  While I was in Philadelphia, Jeremy fixed a mysterious electrical problem which spanned the basement apartment and the hallway in the entrance of the house.  It is mysterious because Jeremy took out the broken switch, replaced it with a seemingly new switch which made everything more broken (garage doors would not open) and it freaked him out (we can not survive very well without access to the garage (Edda's ramp is in there, it's the way she egresses)) and then re-replaced it with the original broken switch hoping to make it less (but still) broken, but everything fixed itself when he did that.  Hooray for Jeremy!  I don't do well with electricity.  I can handle water and carpentry, but once I can't see it, I don't understand it.

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I spent this evening working on Jeremy's grandmother's sewing machine.  At my quilting class, half the class has really expensive computerized sewing machines, the other half have old Singer Featherweights.  I remembered that we had Jeremy's grandmother's sewing machine in the basement.  It did not run when I first plugged it in, but I've spent a bunch of time on youtube trying to learn to fix it.  It's working mostly properly now, but I still have a few screws to put back in.  They are tricky, I tried about a dozen times, but I think I need to take a break before trying again tomorrow.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Track, Lego, Sara.

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At the track this morning doing a set of 400s.  I procrastinated on this workout,  I'm usually on the track on Tues or at the latest Wed, but it's been so hot this week I put it off a couple of days. It's been over two years since I've done any racing which is fine, I like running workouts to run workouts, but I thought it was about time to try again. The plan this fall was to try to run a pr in the 10k at Thanksgiving - which I think would be at least 8:10 pace.  Yikes, that sound really ambitious to me, I'm certainly not that peppy right now. We'll see what happens, I still have a few weeks.

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While I was on the track, Vickey texted me a photo of her and her 9th wedding anniversary gift.  A true engineer - that she is.

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I went downtown to see the new parents again.  Baby Sara is almost 6 weeks old!  I had the joy of holding the sleepy baby for an hour?  90 min?  So nice, feeling a baby snuggle up next to you and sigh in contentment.  Tony kept saying she's so big!  So big!  I'm like - wait until they are 16.  Then they are really big :)

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IEP, PSAT, growing up.

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Hmmm,  the check engine light and the brake lights in the Civic came on at the same time today.  Lucky for us, we just fixed the change oil light on the van so we have at least one car without any warning lights on.  We went to Edda's school today for her annual IEP meeting.  We met with her whole team (ten staff people?) and heard many good things.  I'm sure what my goals are for Edda academically.  The main goal is that she likes going to school and that she has a variety of different experiences in the classroom and hopefully some pals! There are many other Rett girls who seem to be able to communicate more than Edda is able to - either through computer eye gaze systems or various other methods, but it seems to be hard for Edda to do.  I'm OK with that.  But Mr Twigg was very excited to see Edda's progress since last year, that she seems more comfortable after the spinal fusion surgery and is able to pay attention for longer without checking out.  They are reading Holes in class and then he's asking her questions about the book and giving her three pictures to choose from for the answers and she'll answer correctly a lot of the time.  He's determined to increase the choices to 4 and to increase Edda's accuracy. (There is actual data collected about the # of right answers, I just don't have it in front of me now. And, of course, "reading" is used loosely, they adapt everything for Edda's class.)  I was quite moved to hear of Edda's progress with this "reading".  It can be hard, year after year, listening to patient, earnest special ed staff tell you they are working on very simple things (Picking up a fork, walking in a straight line, following a voice command, making food choices, matching colors, recognizing letters in her name), so it's nice to hear of some progress.  She does seem happier after the surgery, her mood has improved.  Her spine is straighter, but at the same time, she seems a little bit stiffer to me.  Edda will go to Wootton next year, my own high school (Go Patriots!)  There will be a friendly rivalry between RM and Wootton in the house next year, split right along gender lines.  Athletically, there is no question, RM will kick our butts in all sports, though if you competed based on average SAT scores across the school population, Wootton will win hands down.  This was also the meeting where they first mentioned "transition" - the dreaded day when Edda turns 21 and we fall out of the school system into adult services.  That will be tough.

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Vince took the PSATs this morning.  In MoCo, they practice every year.  Well not in elementary school - lol.  They practice every year in high school.  He's doing pretty well in school, though we have to navigate things like working and paying attention to subjects that he doesn't care about.  How to feel about other kids doing better than him on seemingly less work.  How to think about SATs/college without going through a ton of anxiety.  And there is the general growing up - friendships, relationships, driving, drugs/alcohol/sex, responsibility vs sloth, discipline & habit vs disorganization, how to argue/disagree and come to resolution with people you love (or people you hate!  that is helpful too.), how to fail and try again or how to succeed and still try again, how to work through bad feelings - this takes a lot of time.  Not that I have all the answers, I struggle with a lot of these things too, but you gotta meander through it all.  He's been entertaining himself by eating the hottest ramen on the face of the earth.  This is a kid who thinks Sriracha is nothing - this ramen makes him cry and run around the house saying ow ow ow ow!  Yeah, I don't get it either.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Inferno, homecoming, Catoctin.

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The Friday before I left for Philly, we unusually had childcare that evening, so Jeremy took me out on a proper date night date.  We went to Inferno - right near Quince Orchard HS.  It's really good pizza place by a pretty famous chef, worth the drive.  I'll have to take my parents there, it's just two minutes from their house.  It's right around Thu's house, and she was the one who introduced me to the place, and we bumped into both Thu & Becky having their dessert at the bar.

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This blog is becoming more and more Doris-centric as Jeremy & Vince go off on their adventures and don't give me any photos! Edda, of course, can't use her hands to take any photos so I can't really blame her. Vince had gone to Philly on a school trip last week, he went to the homecoming game last week (but not the dance), he started a new club at his high school called the Beyblades club, he's learning some Asian juggling tricks and he's gotten himself into some predictable trouble which he has to figure out how to extricate himself out of.  No photos of any of this.

Jeremy's adventures are generally about biking and he's more reliable about giving me photos.  While I was away, Jeremy got in a couple of bike rides.  He's riding a lot and collecting a lot of power data and graphing things and buying strange, small metal parts that come in the mail every day.  He's biking a lot, but told me he'd rather be excited about work and squeezing in a 30 min workout a day rather than training as hard as he is for some unidentified purpose.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Lana, Barnes Foundation, cheesesteak.

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Lana and I went on a quick trip to Philly this past weekend.  We celebrated my birthday & a new job beginning for Lana and we celebrated with art.  We first stopped by Swarthmore's exhibit of Fritz Dietel's work in wood and paper.  I especially liked the wooden mushroom below.  We walked around Swarthmore and it was incredibly enticing in the same way a Louis Vuitton purse is enticing.  I both loved it (the science library, hip & airy, was full of students on a Saturday afternoon - they give a BS in engineering!  who knew?) and loathed myself for loving it because you could feel how fancy it was.  The gardens!  I've never seen a school with such beautifully tended gardens.  Not using just standard, fancy landscaping plants, they had a whole botanical extravaganza throughout the campus.

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We found our way to downtown Philly where we had dinner at Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House.  This - I have to say - was the best meal of the weekend.  Great beef noodle soup, excellent dry noodle dish. 

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Dessert - red bean ice cream - a few doors down.

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I did not stay at the youth hostel (like I did on my own in NYC), we stayed at the Warwick downtown.  Extra fancy.  I (absolutely) can not subject my friends to my crazy frugal ways when I agree to a girl's weekend.  We randomly got upgraded to the club floor - free breakfast & happy hour.

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Sunday am - we went to the Eastern State Penitentiary.  This was (I think) the most interesting tourist thing we did.  Everyone asked if we did the nighttime Halloween tour.  We did not.  Apparently you can pay to have ghoulish people drag you into a cell and tie you up and scare the living shit out of you.  I think that is an experience that I do not need to have.

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Then we headed toward the art museum, where we (unexpectedly) participated in a more activist lunch than I was planning on.  This museum restaurant cycles through themes.  Sunday was the last day of the "survival" menu before they moved onto the "resistance" menu.

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The meal, was a bit on the modest side calorie-wise, but heavy on the pumpkin and turmeric.  A culinary artist was on hand to talk about her "survival" themed dish and performed with song and dance and we sang along as well.

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On the famous Rocky steps.

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The art museum is undergoing a huge expansion where they are going to dig underneath the Rocky steps and double (?) the space. 

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When I looked at this architectural model, all I could think about was how I would absolutely love having the job of making this model.  What did you do today, honey?  Oh, I spent 8 hours making a miniature Calder mobile for my miniature Philadelphia Art museum.  Lana treated me to dinner at High Street on Market, which was very nice.

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We went to the Barnes Foundation's new museum today.  No photos of the inside, they don't allow photography, but I really enjoyed it.  A rich scientist's OCD approach to art collection.  Of course, I (knowing nothing about the actual art) appreciate the art displayed in a cascading pyramid scheme based only on size/color and not on any historical or artistic concerns.  Who cares that a Pennsylvania Dutch child-like drawing is next to a Picasso?  Lana was a little bit like - eh. how many Renoir bathers can you have?  (a lot)  how many bowls of fruit can you have (a lot as well).   I loved it even though you could tell that Barnes would have been hellish to live/work with.

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And on our way out of town - Pat's cheesesteak!  The big winner!

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