Saturday, June 23, 2018

SIM card, voting, ice cream...

Vince got the sim card!  I got a simple message this morning from him.

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And I can see where he is!

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The house was very quiet today.  Just me, Jeremy, Edda and Maxi all day.  I worked a bunch and tried to re-right myself.  With all the action the past few weeks, I'm chronically under-slept and all out of my regular routine.  This makes it difficult to for me to self-regulate throughout the day - I can alternate between weepy  and annoyed and happy all within the span of an afternoon.  I thought last night I'd get a good night's sleep, but at 4:30 am I woke with a start and realized that Jeremy was not in bed.  I found him downstairs with the lights on working on planning a bike ride from Pittsburg.  He had woken up and couldn't go back to sleep, so he decided to go do some work.  We spent some time working on our absentee ballot which is due on Tuesday.  This took quite some time (and is still ongoing).  We look up endorsements, call friends and try to suss out the local political landscape.  It's not entirely straightforward.  For county council, there are 33 people running for 4 spots.  We both wished that we could use rank choice voting.

To celebrate that it's Saturday night, we went out for ice cream.

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And looked forward to folding laundry.

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Missing, African American museum, companionship with Adriana.

I miss Vince more than I thought I would.  Every few minutes, I want to knock on his room door and tell him something, but then I remember that he's not home.  I'm ashamed to admit that it is because he's out of cell phone range, so I haven't been in touch with him since I dropped him off on Wed.  When he was in China last summer, he texted/called daily with updates and fun stories.  It's funny how Virginia can feel farther than China. Jeremy went out on Thursday morning and bought a Verizon sim card and FexExed it to him (even paid a few dollars more to have it delivered on Friday am), but we haven't heard anything from him yet.  We don't even know if the package got to the camp because Jeremy promptly lost the tracking number.  We spent a few minutes last night looking for the receipt, but it was nowhere to be found.  I did email the main counselor person (who has cell service) to keep an eye out for the envelope, but all I got in response was a quick "will do!" and nothing else.  We can see on Google maps that Vince was in the nearest town last night with cell service, but he didn't text us!  Oh well.  I'm sure he's trying to rescue his Snapchat streaks or whatever kids do these days...

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While I was dropping Vince off at camp, the boys went to Mt Vernon and spent an incredible 5 hours there.  Then they looped to National where they picked up Johanna in the early evening.

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Thursday was the only full day with the whole Westeson family.  Johanna really wanted to go to the African American museum, but because it's so new, it still has timed ticketed entries.  We still haven't gone yet.  If you go on the website right now, they are ticketing for October, 2018.  But every morning at 6:30 am, they have a limited number of same-day tickets available online.  Jeremy managed to get 4 tickets for 3:30 pm.  Jeremy drove them downtown and went paddle-boating with them in the early afternoon before the entry time.  Though they could see all the monuments, it was very hot and they were there mid-day, so it was a challenging outing. 

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Thursday night we had takeout Chinese and Friday morning, everyone packed up and Jeremy drove them to Baltimore to catch a flight to Phoenix to see Kiki and Kappa in New Mexico.  I always wish (as with everyone I love to spend time with) that they were closer and we could seem them more often.  I think there is much to be said about daily/weekly low-key interactions for becoming close to a person.  I have only sisters by marriage and I wish I could spend more time with all of them!  We are planning on seeing them in Sweden summer of 2020.  There is a big world orienteering meet then and Ruben just took up orienteering and Sweden is the center of the orienteering world, so that's the plan.  I hope to come in respectably last and not embarrassingly last as I've been doing the past few big meets I've done.  That is my goal. 

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I wanted to thank Adriana who was Edda's companion this whole week.  She worked more than 40 hours and allowed us to be incredibly flexible with each day's plans.  Edda came to the climbing gym (to watch) and to the conveyor belt sushi lunch (to eat), but to almost nothing else.  It was very hot this week and having Adriana work meant that I didn't have to take her on my 12 hour odyssey to non-cell-phone camp, nor did Edda have to brave hot weather and long museum tours.  Edda got to go shopping for summer shorts in an air-conditioned mall, Adriana studied a lot for her nursing boards.  Ning also stepped in to cover the baseball game on Tuesday night because Adriana had an unmovable commitment.  It meant that Jeremy and I could squeeze in the tiniest bit of work & exercise that needed to be done during bits of found time during the week.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Outlet shopping, Dave & Busters, Baseball game, Lenhoksin.

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On Tuesday, Jeremy showed the boys his biking closet and his virtual biking world.  After breakfast, I took the boys to the Clarksburg Outlets a little north of us to shop for running shoes and flip flops.

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I hung out a bit at the Disney store where I seriously thought about buying these pants.

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After the outlet stores, we sent Ben downtown on his own to have some solitary museum time.  We took the kids to Dave & Buster's for an afternoon of arcading.  This was the only game that I played - a skiiing one.

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We all reconvened at Nationals Park to see part of the Beltway series (Nationals vs Orioles).  It's a little confusing to me, I guess I'm a Nationals fan now.  When I was growing up, there was no DC team so we rooted for the Orioles.  It was an exciting game - Nationals won 9-7.  The weather was perfect.  It just felt like summer.  Cousins came also! 

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Hats were bought.

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On Wed, I spent the whole day (!) driving Vince to his summertime gig.  He's a counselor at Lenhoksin, a camp at Goshen Boy Scout Camp.  He has his very own tent with a cot and mattress.  It took me all day even though the campsite is only 3.25 hours away because 1. we needed to stop at Dick's to buy fishing line and a fishing license 2. we needed to stop at Target to buy gum and bic lighters (I told him I did not want any late night calls about non-good-judgement use of said lighters) and 3. I got very few instructions on how to find people at camp and our cell service doesn't work at the campsite so it took some time finding and asking people to make calls, to figure out the phone numbers, etc. and 4. there was an hour's worth of delay on the way home because of accidents and it was raining heavily and I'm a nervous driver.   Vince was a little nervous, I could see it ramp up as we got closer to the campsite.  I was nervous because they seem very disorganized, but I was less nervous as I left because the two other counselors I met had been there 8 summers and 5 summers respectively.  I feel like anyplace that has people coming back summer after summer is fine.  Regarding cell service, we have T-mobile because we are cheap.  It works well in urban areas, but does drop out in the forests.  I think Vince is a little disappointed to be out of cell range.  It's especially hard because the Verizon people all have service.  Hmmm, I think we might try to get him a new sim card for the summer.  He'll be gone until the end of July.  5.5 weeks.  I'm practicing letting him go.  He practicing being on his own. 

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Ben, Felix & Ruben.

Jeremy came home Friday night, in time for all of us to have dinner together (spaghetti).  Then Saturday morning, we went our separate ways.  Edda & I went to see the Incredibles II and the boys went downtown to see the Museum of American History. 

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Edda's caregiver, Arietni, arrived at noon and I headed downtown to meet the boys at Shake Shack. 

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Then we went to the spy museum where Ruben worked with the enigma machine to crack some codes.

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Then we headed to Silver Spring to join Colleen's 50th birthday party.

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Sunday morning, we went to the climbing gym and had lunch at the bubble tea place.  Then the boys went to town center where they got soaking wet on the splash pad.

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We hosted Sunday night dinner, which was unusually hilarious with discussion about conjoined twins, pooping etiquette and fish pedicures.

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Monday morning, our crooked tree got cut down.  We were going to leave it where it was because it had fallen in such a way that it had wedged itself between the forked trunk of an adjacent tree.  It didn't seem like it was going to go anywhere.  But a neighbor complained (don't know who it was), and we got cited by the city.  So we took it down.

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It fell because it was infested with termites and was pretty hollow at the base of the trunk. 

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Monday, the boys went to the Air & Space museum in Virginia.  The boys are really great museum goers, especially Felix.

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We went to Tyson's for conveyor belt sushi.

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And looked at the Lego store.

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I'm now hanging out with Molly at the PICU at Children's.  In some cosmic clusterf*ck, 2/5th of the Usual Suspect's daughters are in PICUs.  Send good vibes our way.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Last day of school, zip-lining.

Last day of school for my kids.  One child went to school, one child played hooky.   I said goodbye to Edda's middle school bus driver, Susan & her aide, Miriam in the early morning.  Thank you for getting Edda to school safely all these years.

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Once Edda was in school, we (me, Ben, Vince, Felix and Ruben) went to Sandy Spring Adventure Park which is a aerial obstacle course/zip lining adventure.  It was an absolutely beautiful day, I didn't want to spend it inside at the mall or Dave & Busters (Vince's suggestions).  I love the adventure park but I so rarely get a chance to do it.  I'm always, always looking for a reason to go.  It's a splurge, so I feel like I have to have a special occasion, I never want to do it by myself and it's hard to schedule because Edda can't participate.  I loved the outing today, the boys are just the right age for it, they have the right fearlessness for it and it was fun all around.  We started at 10 am and I thought we'd last only until noon, but we kept going until our passes expired at 2 pm.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ice cream, wheelchair, swedes.

Vince got free ice cream today.

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Edda got new orthotics and kicks.

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She also got a new wheelchair.

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And we picked up some Swedes from Dulles.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Lobbying, Edda's 8th grade graduation.

We dropped Kiki off at the Metro early in the morning so she could make her way to her 11 am flight.  She had a nice day lobbying in DC, I told her I was glad someone was lobbying because I have no time to lobby and that she was welcome to come lobby as much as she wants to.

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Today was Edda's 8th grade graduation.  I invited Ning (Edda's morning caregiver) and Adriana (Edda's M & T night caregiver) to come celebrate because Jeremy's out of town and I needed support.  Adriana also brought her beau to the celebration.  I was quite touched that these folks came, though I still missed having Jeremy with me.  Vince initially resisted coming today, but he proposed a deal.  He wanted a boxed sushi lunch he could take to school in exchange for attending.  I said - sold!  He also, after some cajoling, agreed to accompany Edda onto the stage to help her get her awards and diploma.  It was a mixed morning regarding my feelings.  I didn't realize that this was a special needs graduation, I thought it was the entire 8th grade graduation (the school must have hundreds of typical 8th graders).  On the one hand, the special needs graduation was kind of lovely, they spent five minutes talking about each student and giving awards and everyone cheered for each kid.  This would have not been possible at a typical graduation with hundreds of students.  On the other hand, I was fully expecting a total 8th grade graduation with the special needs kids tucked into the procession.  Would that have been better?  I dunno.  I'm also trying to decide if the wording of the speeches at the beginning and the end of the ceremony changed ever so slightly from a typical graduation or if the words aren't really different but they take on different shades of meaning when presented in this situation.  What does it mean that they are now ready to have a "successful high school experience"?

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Edda was quite charming on stage, though she was skeptical of the photographing afterwards.  I'm forever grateful for Mr. Twigg who taught Edda all three years at Cabin John.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Monday, June 11, 2018

Interview, morning routine, Kiki.

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I had yet another job interview this morning from 7 - noon.  I no longer understand my ability or, I guess, lack of ability to get hired.  I think I give a good interview and I make people feel comfortable and I know all the answers to all the general interview questions to where I have a manager (usually) sitting in front of me at the end of the interview asking when I can start and telling me that I'll hear from HR (actually, these days it's talent acquisition) and then never hearing from them again.  Honestly, the general consensus that turnover is high in hospitals and nurses are in short supply just makes me feel bad.  Getting a nursing job will complicate my life in 10,000 ways, maybe this is the world telling me that this is not the right path.  Unlike most other job interviews, nursing interviews always start at shift change which means I have to be on the floor at 6:45 am.  This presented a logistical problem for me as Jeremy is out of town and the kids are not at school yet.  Christine perceptively asked at Sunday dinner last night - so who's going to look after Edda?  Here was the plan that we executed:  I wanted to leave the house at 6 am, I woke Vince up as I was leaving, he sprung up out of bed (We wished each other good luck.  He had a big day at school today - a lot of final presentations.) and was awake when our morning caregiver arrived at 6:30 am.  I told Vince that, if for whatever reason, the morning caregiver couldn't come or was late or whatever, to do his best to get Edda onto her bus at 7:30 am and be a little late for school.  Vince gave me a thumbs up.  Everything went smoothly, I thought.  I got no texts, I got no calls.  Then when Vince and I reconnected later in the afternoon, he said that he woke up and made sure that Ning had gotten Edda downstairs and prepped for school. And then he accidentally fell asleep and woke up at 8 am and then was 45 minutes late for school himself.

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Look who is in town!  Kiki.  I picked her up from the Rockville Metro at 8:45pm.  She has been up since 3 am, we made her do our evening ritual of watching a couple of youtube videos - corgis and cooking. 

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Weeds, chemistry, woods.

Edda's morning plait:

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Vince and I tackled my parents' weed patch.  Got cited by the HOA this past week.

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I'm not sure it looks better.

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Vince's final grades care coming in for the spring term.  I will tell you what gave me an Asian mom heart attack this term, the thing that I had to step completely away from and enforce peace and tranquility upon myself.  The spring term is made up of two quarters, the general set up is that if you get two adjacent grades in either quarter, you get the higher grade.  Hence A going to B is an A for the semester and B going to A is also an A.    The quarter grades do not go to colleges, only the semester grades.  My personality would be to work hard the first half of the semester, ensure the A and then you don't have to worry about the 2nd half of the semester.  Vince does not have my personality.  He's a little more cowboy which just kills me.  He says he wants to be a chemical engineer (which I have kind of felt both pleased because he thinks what his parents do is kinda cool, and also kind of horrified because chemical engineers tend to live near big factories full of vats of chemicals that smell bad.  I think he has talent in creative writing (well, he needs some help with spelling and capitalization and grammar (as do I)), but am I going to push the writerly life? uhhh, no, I don't think so).  Anyways, this year he took his first chemistry course.  Cool!  Easy! is what I heard from him.  Fine, I love chemistry.  Avogadro's number, the beauty of the periodic table, acid/bases, etc.  All fun things.  So he heads into the final big exam of the first quarter in spring semester.  He tells me he has a solid A - like a 92 or something (I have long, long abandoned checking his grades electronically, I philosophically believe it's his own deal.  But really, it would just drive me crazy to check every day - I know myself.) and that he knows everything on the review packet.  He comes home from the exam - smiles and says it was easy peazy and I congratulate him and promptly forget about it.  I mean, it's chemistry.  It should be easy for him.  Two days later, he comes to me and tells me he failed the exam, thus plunging his grade into the mid 80s - a B. (Privately I'm baffled, at the height of my academic capabilities I could, to within +/- three points, predict how well I did on an exam as I was doing the exam.  Ask any earnest, diligent student and they will tell you how a 96 feels different than a 92 feels different than an 88 - (though I never knew what an 18 felt like until I took statistical mechanics at C*lt*ch with Jeremy as my TA.  awkward.  we were not yet in love then, I didn't even speak to him (although clearly evidenced from the 18, I should have gone to office hours) Regarding that era, Jeremy always fondly remembers how beautiful my handwriting was on the problem sets.  He never mentions the how well I did on the problem sets, lol.).  How can Vince possibly not differentiate the feeling between doing well on an exam and failing an exam?)  I'm like - dude, if a test is worth 20% of the grade, that's a lot!  A lot!  If you want to go to a good ChemE program, you can not possibly get a B in the intro to chemistry course.  It might not have been my finest parenting moment.  So, to get the A in the semester, he needed to get an A the 2nd half.  Fast forward to the 75% point in the semester, he gets a C on the mid-quarter exam, (also with the same attitude, super easy, I know all the stuff, I got the review packet, etc.)  I stand there like - OMG, he's going to get a B in chemistry.  The subject in which both parents have advanced degrees from very reputable colleges and have spent a lifetime studying and working on. The subject in which he says he wants to major in.   Everyday I look at things that talk chemical structures/formulas, hydrophobicity, catalysts, acid numbers.  Everyday I refer to the periodic table (well, in my head, I don't actually look at the periodic table very much anymore because it is almost like the fingerprints on my fingers). This is when I decide to let it go - I actually had to decide to physically leave the room if I was about to say anything about chemistry class.  I let him take care of it - no yelling, checking, freaking out or demands from me.  No frantic tutoring about how to do logs to find the pH of a solution. This was supremely not easy for me - I did freak out a lot to Jeremy who told me not to freak out (insert long discussions about how he got Cs in chemistry in high school and now he's like the super expert on biofuels with nice shiny degrees, to affirmative action (both gender and race), to white/asian privilege, to my own very mixed feelings about how hard I worked in high school/college and had 100% focus on grades, to discussions about what the most important things are to accomplish as a parent - what is our role exactly?, to honestly can we afford $70K a year anyways?)  What's the worst that can happen from getting a B in chemistry?  Really, not much, I guess.  (one would think that having a child like Edda would promptly relieve me of demanding any As from any of my other children, but somehow this isn't true (you know when babies are thought of in the ether as mystical, cute amorphous blobs of people and and one gets asked do you want a boy or a girl? and the right answer is it doesn't matter as long as it's healthy?  yeah, that and one that gets and A in chemistry, lol.) - maybe the exact opposite is true. So he rides into the big final exam yesterday, with, I swear, an 89 in the class.  I can not believe that this is going to have to come down to the last exam on the last day.   But to his credit, he pulled it off, got 100 on the final exam - pulled it up to an A.  He woke up this morning, a Saturday, and walked into my bedroom told me about it after seeing the grade posted online and I gave him a high five.  He walked back to his room.  I sighed a long sigh.

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This was the last woods orienteering of the season, Vince didn't go last week - he promised to go this week.  I know he doesn't want to do this, but he indulges me.  I had to arrange for Kitachi to come and care for Edda.  Initially, I was going to take Edda and have her do the beginner course with me, but the beginner course had some stairs in it and I didn't think Edda & I could manage that.  And, it was pouring, pouring rain which I can't subject Edda to.  Vince and I were going to do different courses - him an easier one, me a harder one.  But it was almost a mile of hiking to the start of both courses on a trail that had turned, in the downpour, into a minor river and he was flagging.  Complaining about not feeling well, of his back hurting, etc.  Saying that he just wanted to go back to the car and wait there for me.  I urged him to start his course, that I would help him find his first control.  We walked around for 20 minutes and couldn't find it.  It was slippery, still raining and his heart/head wasn't in it.  It was clear then to me that no one was going to complete any course and that we should just try to keep the mood light and the outing happy.  We had different maps, but we decided to stick together and use the maps in an overlapping manner to try and find a hodge-podge of controls, all out of order, but in the order that we might stumble on them.  We at many points asked each other - you're navigating, right?  I have no idea where we are and then the other person would say - no, I'm not navigating.  I thought you were navigating.  And then we'd stop and look at each other and then try to look at the map and figure out where we were.

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Jeremy, on the other coast, is enjoying absolutely perfect weather on a bike ride up Mt. Diablo.

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