Monday, October 15, 2018

To bed early.

Jeremy is in California now, he texted me when he boarded the plane at BWI and just now texted me again when he touched ground in Oakland.  He's off doing his work thing.   He's doing me a favor by compressing his travel schedule these days, turning down trips that he feels are not necessary, timing them so he can leave after the morning school routine or coming home in time for dinner.  I appreciate all of this.  I came home today and Vince asked - so Dad is gone?  Where did he go?  I said he's in California.  Vince was like - did he drive to California?  The van is gone.  I laughed - no Dad did not drive to California, he only drove to BWI.  I'm on the edge of exhaustion - you know, when you can't quite tell if you are tired or sick, I'm hoping to go to bed by 8:30 tonight.  I think I wear myself out more with my emotions than with any actual physical work.  Though sometimes I think it's good to be emotional (for me at least) because oftentimes, I think I can be a little bit unfeeling & unsympathetic.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Game of life, stitches, physics.

It's been an emotional weekend for me.  I can't shake the feeling from my last two shifts.  And not only that, I'm getting unusually stuck on the national news and some of Edda's issues, just perseverating on the same crappy thing over and over again in my head.  Usually, I'm only a forward anxious person.  I get anxious for things that might happen in the future.  I'm very rarely a backwards anxious person - I usually get over things that happen in the past, quickly shrugging off bad experiences.  But somehow not today.  I can't quite figure out why. I've certainly had patients yell at me before and I've always have known I would have difficult patients, but this one stuck.  Jeremy thinks it's because he's leaving on a business trip in the morning for 4 days and certainly that might be it, but it doesn't mean that I can rationalize myself out of a gloomy mood. 

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I played two games of Life with my friend Rory.  The game of Life has changed a lot over the last time I've played it.  We made up a lot of new rules.  It was fun.

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Christine tried to take out Gene's stitches at Sunday night dinner.

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Vince & Jeremy working on physics homework.  Projectile motion problems with sin and cosine.  Thank goodness for youtube, you can basically find a person doing any problem that you have on youtube!

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

tough week.

Hello loves!  It's been a long week. Jeremy & I both had challenges this week at work.  For Jeremy, it was annual review time , which as a both an employee and manager Jeremy never, ever finds enjoyable.  Does anyone love annual review time?  I'm not sure it is possible for anyone to love it. 

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On Thursday, after a week of being pretty sick, Vince rallied to go to school to justify attending the Denzel Curry concert at the Filmore in Silver Spring.  He went with a pal and it was decided among three of the four parents that we couldn't get the kids to Silver Spring in the late afternoon/early evening (all us working at work), so we agreed that the kids would take the crosstown bus which went straight from the Rockville metro to downtown Silver Spring and that would be totally fine and that Jeremy would pick them up late after the concert ended.  It was raining that day and the fourth parent came home unexpectedly early from a business trip (and thus missed out on the public transit discussion) and found the boys after school trying to figure out the bus schedule and called them a Lyft.  I was like - oh no! What is more of a teenage experience than waiting in the rain for a bus to go to the other side of town to go see a concert?   Vince loved the concert.  There was a lot of moshing.  There was the feeling of being 16 and out on school night and surrounded by everyone else at the concert seemed to be in their 20s.  So exciting!  Remember when you used to think someone who was 23 was old?  Hahaha.

******

On Friday, I was at the hospital and just losing it.  I will now say that I lose it everyday at 5:15 pm.  I never work three shifts in a row, but most of the time, I work two days in a row and that 2nd day just kills me.  The first day of two-in-a-row, at least I come in fresh from a day off and feel well rested, but that 2nd day, whatever reserves I had to manage whatever crap I am dealing with is just depleted.  It is really, really hard to have a difficult patient.  On Thursday and Friday both, I had a patient (the same both days) who yelled at me the entire 12 hours.  A very complicated patient who needed many, many, many medications, so I needed to be in his room a lot.  He tried to fire me on Friday, though no one took him seriously.  It was bad enough that the patient in the next room was concerned for me because they could hear him yelling my name down the hall.  OK, so that's going on for 12 hours or 24 hours if you count the two shifts, but besides that, it is like death by 10,000 papercuts.  I will give you only a small, small, percentage of what I'm working with.  I try to print out a label for a stool sample, the printer doesn't work from my computer station when I complete the task.  I call the lab to force print a new label to the printer.  The force print works, but the ink is misaligned so that only half the bar code prints out.  I have no idea how to realign the ink and I'm like - do I send the sample with half the bar code - is there enough information for them to accept the sample?  Do I call the lab again and force print on the printer all the way on the other side of the unit?  Or will I send it and then they'll reject it and then I'll have to figure out how to get another sample?  I'm trying to infuse albumin through an IV line.  Albumin is a thick substance (think egg white) and the IV line is a small bore.  The night nurse had to hang a bag at night and she said that it was constantly clogging and that she needed to flush it every 15 minutes.  I walk into the room to see that the old bag of albumin is still struggling to be infused.  So of course, it does the same for me and I'm like - how the (*&$ am I supposed to get 100 mL of this into this poor patient.  I had to rejigger the IV lines in a weird way to dilute the albumin, so that something that was suppose to be done at 9:30 am is finally complete at 1 pm.  The pharmacy never answers the phone promptly.  I had two patients on Friday that needed, I swear, 8 medications every 2-4 hours.  Without fail, 2 of medications would be missing from the medication machine and I'd have to call the pharmacy to replace the medications, but they won't pick up the phone, or else they will transfer me to someone "covering my unit" and then accidentally hang up on me.  Someone needs IV dilaudid because they are in severe pain, I go to med dispenser to get the dilaudid and because it's a narcotic, you have to count how many are in the drawer to keep the count accurate.  The top of the compartment flips open and, I swear, there are 37 loose syringes in the drawer that you have to count before you can pull one - a special kind of torture because if you do the count wrong too many times, it guess it locks you out?  It is like this all day, every minute.  I'm assured, by many people, that this feeling will go away, but it doesn't mean that it isn't extremely painful right now.  While I was being yelled at by my patient, my male nursing assistant was standing right outside the door making sure that I was alright and wouldn't get hurt.  My charge nurse checked in on me all day and helped me out when I needed it.  I've given up on not crying anymore, so I cry and someone usually gives me a hug in the medication room (not a patient! yet.).  On the floor yesterday, there were 5 nurses covering 30 patients (usually there are 6, but one of the nurses puked in front of the elevators and went home early) and 3 of us (3!) had fewer than two months experience.  Honestly, the thing that usually sends me over the edge is someone asking me - do you think they have more lime jello/freezer popsicle icees in the cafeteria? or I think I left my phone charger in the ICU, could you get it back for me? or can you change this medication from a pill to liquid? or the ever popular - when do you think the doctor will come see me?  these simple questions drive me batty.  You think I could answer all these questions/solve these problems in 30 seconds, but really, they are extremely complicated to execute. 

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My parents were in town for a hot second.  I saw them Friday night.

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Here's my dad trying to buy Vince's friends some late night pizza.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Vince home sick.

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Picked up V from school early because he's still pretty sick.  I'm glad I was home today to be able to do this. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

IEP, I'm from Baltimore, Vince is sick.

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We went to Edda's IEP meeting this morning.  This was the first meeting with her new team at the high school.  These folks have been working with Edda for about 5-6 weeks now, so they are learning about Edda's strengths and quirks.  (She hates art.) We signed a piece of paper which said that Edda was not going to get a high school diploma, rather she was going to get a certificate of completion, the form also said that she would get modified standard assessments.  Both of those were fine, I'm at peace with not getting a high school diploma.  They crossed out the two other options on the form, one was consenting to the use of restraints and the other was the use of isolation.  You know, Rett Syndrome sucks and everything would be so much better if Edda didn't have Rett Syndrome, but it's also kind of like - oh, thank goodness we are not in the restraint/isolation-procedures-at-school territory.  They tried to cut some services, we (meaning Jeremy) gently held our ground.  At the end of the meeting, the transition specialist came to talk to us about adult services.  Edda's going to be able to go to high school until she's 21.  And then we enter the world of adult services - something that is daunting, but will happen as sure as time marches on.  They are trying to help us along, even though I don't want to think about it at all.  The transition person said that our goal for the next couple of years should be to just go to various community meetings that discuss DDA services and financial planning and other things (demystifying Medicaid! exciting.) offered by various organizations and not really do anything else, so by the time you've heard it 3-4 times, one will be over the denial and ready to do something.

******

Ever since I lived in Austin, I have a soft spot in my heart for country music.  I've been liking this song recently.



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Do you know how many times a day I'm asked at the hospital where I'm from?  Like 17,000.  Hey Doris - where are you from?  Usually it's a patient, but sometimes it's staff.  I know lots of Asian people hate this question, but really, I don't mind if it's asked with the right tone and usually it is.  Though I do like messing with them.  I first tell them "I was born in Baltimore." which is true but entirely unsatisfying to the question asker.  Then they look at me, head tilted trying to figure out how to rephrase the question (but I like to stop them before they ask, no, I mean where are you really from? To which the true answer would be - "I'm really from Rockville", which probably is even more unsatisfying than the Baltimore line) and then I say, "you know, I'm consider myself American, but my parents were born in China.  And then they say, ahh, China!  I hope I represent all of China well.

******

Vince stayed home sick today.  He's congested and everything.  Booo.  Tomorrow is the PSATs.  He will have to go into it at less than 100%.   I've been trying to get Vince to read more NYT articles out loud to me to bring his youtube dominated youth experience up to SAT level reading (with spotty success).  He gets to pick the article.  So we skip over all the political articles and head on over to the articles about the pot-smoking dad or animals freed from animal cracker jail.  The other day, he read an article about the Instant Pot and came across this line: "After the rice and shrimp had cooked for a mere three minutes, Ms. Ram twisted the vent, which sent forth a rush of spicy vapor with a companionable whoosh."  Vince totally stopped at that line (after stumbling over "mere" and "companionable") and declared it was too pretentious to continue.   It's about the Instant Pot, a completely non-pretentious thing and turned it into something it's not.  I'm like- the NYTimes is nothing if not pretentious, keep going!   By the way, we did get an Instant Pot the other day after our slow cooker died, and I took it on it's maiden voyage where I managed to not only cook the frozen block of chicken, but accidentally managed to pressure cook the weird absorbent pad is often stuck to the bottom of a package of frozen chicken thighs.  Whoops, hopefully not too much polymer ingested.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

C & O.

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The boys hiked an unexpected 14 miles on Saturday.  The day involved: impassable roads from a landslide, a blocked parking lot, a weird encounter with a couple who provided parking at their house, mosquitos, a marathon, chafing and then, finally, no water at the Saturday night campsite which meant that they aborted the mission and all came home Saturday night.

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It was nice to have them all home on Saturday night.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Popeye's

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One of the reasons I took on the nursing job (there are many) now is because I sensed that my marriage needed a rebalancing.  It's hard to explain, but I think that marriage is all about power, who is basically "more important".  It doesn't really matter what the outside world thinks - it's not really about status outside the marriage, it's how power is managed within the relationship.  Maybe I shouldn't generalize.  Maybe I should just say this about my own marriage.  It's not at all that we were ever in a rocky place or even slightly unhappy place, it's just nice to take turns who is generally accommodating and who needs the accommodation.  We've done this back and forth - let's see a bunch of times already:

Moving to San Jose 1996: Doris
Moving to Austin 1999: Jeremy
Moving to Taiwan/NY/Singapore/NY 2002: Jeremy
Moving to MD 2007/getting jobs in DC: Doris
Working from home for Doris 2010: Jeremy
Getting the nursing job 2018: Doris
(maybe Jeremy would disagree with this list.  lol.)

I, for many years, had done most of the accommodating.  Since I worked from home, I did all the appointments, the house repairs, the kids shuttling/scheduling and Jeremy knew that I would take care of it.  Not that, at moments, I didn't yell at him for not doing his "share", but it was so much easier for me to take care of this than for him.  (I would, about once a year, get resentful for going to all the dr. appointments and make him promise take off a whole morning to do a dental appointment or something and then in the morning tell him to forget about it and I would go ahead and take the kid/kids).  When the 2016 election rolled around, I could see that Jeremy was prepping to try to get a job within the (Clinton) administration and that would require hours and hours of time away from us, but when it turned out that wasn't going to happen - I basically decided it was time for me to be accommodated in the marriage - at least until it is possible to get an pro-environmentalist in the WH (soon, right?  fingers crossed).  So Jeremy is doing the dental appointments, the early half-day pick ups, the IEP meeting, the emails to Edda's new team at school and this weekend, he's taking Vince and various Boy Scouts on a 2-day hike/backpacking trip.

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Everyone was grumpy today when I came home at 5 pm.  Jeremy had picked up Edda early from aftercare - so he left work at 3pm to make the 4pm pickup time.  Jeremy hadn't eaten and was starved.  This weekend backpacking trip was haphazardly organized because Jeremy didn't know he was leading it until Tuesday night and then he was mad that he was going to have to give up not only a good biking weekend, but also a weekend with me where I wasn't going to be working at the hospital.  Vince was mad because it's mid-terms now and he's worried about some grade and because he's worried, he broke our cardinal "no-work-on-Friday" rule and did homework on Friday afternoon instead of going out with friends or taking a nap.  At 5pm, the boy scouts still needed some rations for the trip and we needed dinner.

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Jeremy seemed frazzled and I asked if I should take Vince grocery shopping and he said - yeah, and can you pick up dinner too?  Maybe Popeye's?  So Vince went and bought some Hungry Man soups while I waited in line for fried chicken.  When Vince and I pulled into the driveway, Vince was like - I see Dad in the doorway waiting for the chicken.  I said - dad?  you mean max, right?  Vince said - nope, Dad is totally waiting in the doorway for the chicken.  We had fried chicken for dinner (Jeremy said, I feel much better now), I gave the boys a quick hug and kisses and now it's just me and Edda at home.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Staycation.

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I'm strangely "on vacation" this week.  It's strange because I'm still working and the house is still running on its regular schedule, but I'm completely and totally relaxed in a way I haven't been since about mid July.  I closed out the fiscal year at one job, the other job is a week of boring but kind of necessary classroom training with a regular business schedule. I've already done my first two weeks on the unit on my own and I'm still OK and I know if I did the first two weeks, I can keep going.  I'm sleeping like a rock (now that I've written it down, I know it will disappear), I'm going to sleep early, I'm sleeping in, I'm coming home and having dinner with the family.  I backed off on everything, exercising less, I'm eating luxuriously,  ignoring email, and generally having a good time.  Ha ha ha, this is how I like my vacations.  I'm trying to catch up on book club. Vickey already finished Watership Down.  I'm on page 15.  I was going to give up on this, but Vickey said that she wanted to talk about the ending with me, so maybe?  I'm not sure.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Nob*l prize. Holy cow.

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Wowza.  Fr*nces won the Nob*l Prize.  Not only did she win the Nob*l Prize, but I was a grad student in the lab at the time when she was first developing the idea/technique that would win her the award.  Many, many group meetings where I listened to directed evol*tion mini-lectures.  I often was unhappy at those meetings, I knew then that I wasn't supposed to be in graduate school, but I was not sure where I should be instead.  I often wished Franc*s would serve cookies at the group meetings (which I think were scheduled every Friday afternoons).  I guess I would have liked to have known then that this would happen now because maybe I would have been more, uh, attentive? grateful? aggressive with my pipetting? or ambitious and less depressed, angry and lonely.  I was only depressed, angry and lonely at the science.  I was falling in love with Jeremy which was fabulous, so it was a dichotomous experience.  (I did not work on the Nob*l Prize winning research, I worked with Vidya on another project, which ultimately failed, but sealed my friendship with Vidya, which, in my opinion overall was a good trade).

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Tied with this news about Franc*s is a backwards look at the trajectory of my scientific career.  Each time there is an news article about how women are not represented in science or in the boardrooms, how to encourage confidence in young girls regarding STEM, how to make science interesting, blah, blah, blah, I feel often, that I've failed in my life's mission.  That I was given such a strong push and encouragement - my mother, the only female engineering student in her class in college, my college senior thesis advisor, the first female tenured in our department, and now my graduate advisor who won the Nob*l Prize (5th women in Chemistry!) and I married into a family who knows all the ins/outs of academic life and finally, Jeremy, who, if I had told him early on I wanted to make a go of it at an R1 university or run a large company, would have said, yeah - go for it, I will support you 100%.  There was really nothing stopping me except whatever limitations I had placed upon myself.  Why didn't I do it?  Why am I doing what I'm doing?  Often I think what I'm doing is lame, that I didn't live up to my potential and all the opportunities that were offered to me.

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I still struggle with helping Vince with his physics homework.  At least it's motion, once you get into e & m, I'm toast.

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Pizza box fridge.

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Our new fridge can fit an entire large pizza box in it - no problem.  So if you want some leftover pizza in the morning, c'mon over, we are ready for you. I mean, before we owned this fridge, we'd leave it out on the counter overnight and it was 50/50 whether Max would get to it before you could.  Now we are 100% sure (or maybe 99%) sure it will end up in my tummy and not the doggie's tummy.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Alpine Gran Fondo.

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Since my schedule at the hospital is still unpredictable - I didn't know I wasn't working this weekend until 4 days ago and by then we had arranged for Eliana to work today because Jeremy wanted to do a bike race in Virginia.  And then I didn't want to cancel Eliana's hours, so she was by most of today to hang out with Edda.  Because she was here, I got to go for a run, grocery shop and really declutter the house.   Thank goodness.  The house was really getting to be embarrassingly disgusting. 

Jeremy actually left Saturday night to a hotel about 2 hours away.  The race started at 8 am today Sunday - the Alpine Gran Fondo.  He was excited.  He was optimistic.  Trying to get into the top 10% overall, which he thought was doable.  He had a fast friend that he had kind of arranged to ride with, the weather was going to be great.

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He rode almost 7 hours.  In this type of race, they count only the uphill parts of the course.  At the very start of the race, his bike computer suddenly died (and then tried to come back to life, but got stuck in an unending reboot loop) which was unfortunate, because although he managed to turn on Strava on his phone to record the race, his bike computer is connected to a power meter on his bike, but the phone is not - so he lost all the power information that he usually has and he didn't find his fast friend and he did the whole 110 miles by feel which is not something he usually does.  So, he feels like it was a good ride under the circumstances.  He thought he could have done better, but it's hard for him to day because he has no data to compare to his other rides. 

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Molly (and her mom Lauren) came over in the afternoon for a bit.

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Rory too.  He knows more Chinese than I do. 

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Magic, consent, biking.

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I came home Friday night to find the house filled with boys playing Magic the Gathering.  It's homecoming weekend, but I think none of these boys are planning on going.  We had a few parents stop by to check out the "party" - I'm actually pretty flattered because I know some of these parents run strict households, but they let their children hang out at our house and even sleep over. 

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I spent a few minutes tonight talking (again) about sex and consent to Vince like a dutiful, modern, feminist mother as the NYTimes tells me I should.  (We teach our girls, but not our boys! Various articles lament.) He went through the whole thing before I could really even start: neither of us can be drunk, I have to ask it it's OK, if at any point she seems unsure or says no - everything has to stop.  I know about consent, mom!  We didn't talk about sex in conjunction with love.  Sex is so much better with love than without love.  I'll get to that next time, though I feel like I'm losing time for these lessons with Vince, not that I couldn't tell him years from now, but that it's almost time that is he's got to figure out this complicated stuff now on his own. 

Speaking of love, Jeremy's off tonight for a big bike race tomorrow morning. He spent the day with his other love, his bicycle - repairing it in various ways that he explained to me, but I could not quite understand because I do not love bicycles.  He wanted to add more gears before this race and he almost did the whole thing himself with specialized biking tools that he ordered online, but he made it like 95% through the repair and then he got stuck and sped off to a bike store to have them do the final few steps.  They complimented him on his attempt (you almost got it!) and did the last bit and didn't charge him and sent him back home, happy as a clam.  I always send Jeremy off to bike rides (or races) with a little prayer that will protect him and send him back home to me in one piece.  I know he's riding hard and pretty fast on roads (though quiet) will have traffic on them.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

HS calendar.

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I found my high school junior year calendar.  (When I work in the hospital, I lose track of all things that go on outside - then I come home and Jeremy asks, did you hear what happened today?  And I'm like - of course I haven't heard and then we launch into the upsetting twilight zone that is the United States which now somehow involves handwritten high school calendars).  It's interesting to flip through my own calendar and seeing my old handwriting knowing that Vince is in his junior year now 30 years later.  The most interesting thing I found was this:

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On Valentine's Day in 1989, I was supposed to read for English class "Why I Want a Wife" which must be referencing - the "I Want A Wife" essay that appeared in the inaugural issue of Ms. magazine.  I'm pretty sure I think I didn't think anything of it at the time, but now I want to remember who the English teacher was who taught the class.  I found her name, but I can't recall anything about the class.  I think it's an appropriate juxtaposition - the essay was written in 1971, I read it in 1989, now it's 2018 and we are all still, unbelievably, at it.  I've been very lucky as a woman.  Somehow I've been free of harassment and mistreatment by men.  My old boyfriends?  All good guys.  I have had almost no trouble with my relationships with men, but with women, especially in groups of women when I was younger, I have had trouble figuring out how I was suppose to act or what I was suppose to do.  Which is why this go around at the hospital has been extremely reassuring from a female group dynamic kind of way.  Of course, most of the nurses on the floor are female and as I transitioned to the floor on my own, I was worried that I'd be on my own that my old, expected patterns of awkward female group interactions would still hold true for me, but it's not the case.  I found a gem of a unit.  All the nurses go about their day, passing each other all day and everyone asks - are you OK?  did you eat?  did you take a break?  In my youth, I'd be embarrassed to ask so many questions.  But now, it's no joke, I need to ask the questions to know how to take care of people - I ask questions all the time and I'm not embarrassed.   There is a saying in nursing that "nurses eat their young" referring to a tradition of hazing of new nurses, but I'm not experiencing it.  I did cry in the middle of my shift on Tues.  I have often felt like crying at the hospital, but I've never actually cried, but I did on Tues.  Nothing terrible was happening, but I was just overwhelmed.  My charge nurse took one look at me and said - go take a break, I'll get your new patient settled in and it'll be fine.  Come back in 30 minutes.  So I did and it was fine.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Date, busted fridge, happy birthday Ben!

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Jeremy and I had a rare Saturday night date - we did our traditional: a dinner at A&Js, then REI, then Whole Foods and finally Ben & Jerry's (out at 5:30 pm, back to the house by 9 pm).  I'm liking the cherry garcia flavor these days.  At A&J's we looked at the following week's calendar and realized that the next time we'd probably have dinner together would be the following Saturday, so it was just as well that we were out on Sat. night.

We had bags of groceries walking into the house, and we come home to realize that the fridge is finally, completely broken.  The fridge was at 68 degrees, the freezer was at 49 degrees.  I hate the weeks when you have to spend vast amounts of unpredictable amounts of money.  This is going to be a $3000 week.  A new fridge and Vince's Mac laptop also finally broke after 6 years.  So a new laptop and a new fridge this week.  I told Vince that he was lucky that we have enough $ to cover both the laptop and the fridge this week because if we only had half the money, the fridge would have priority over his new laptop and he say, yes, I understand that the fridge would take priority over my laptop.

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We put all the dairy stuff in our wine fridge.  Jeremy is looking to buy a fridge from Home Depot right now, the earliest delivery date is in 10 days?  Hmmm...can we go 10 days without a fridge?  Also, Jeremy called Ben in Sweden to wish him a happy birthday, but went through the regular T-mobile line and apparently we just got charged $80 for the 15 min call.  I was like - you didn't Skype him?  Argh.  Please send heartfelt thoughts to my patients this week - that I'll be able to give them good care, I'm starting again tomorrow.

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

IKEA.

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A few weekends ago (while I was working), the rest of the family went to IKEA and bought this dresser for Vince.  The assembly was trying - the first go at it was at 9:30pm on a weeknight when Vince was full of energy and us parents were not full of energy.  I do believe some things are easier with one person instead of three people and assembling complicated IKEA furniture at 9:30 pm on a Wed night might be one of them.

I started KonMari-ing it this week and I implored to Vince to please, please not just fling clean things to the ground as he was picking out just the right shirt.  That I was going with some crazy lady folding technique just for him so that he could see all of his shirts so I wanted to see more shirts in his drawer and not on the floor.

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

OK google, housekeepers, dentist.

A few more items that I'm dropping: Jeremy texted me yesterday, letting me know that our water was going to be turned off soon because I've failed to pay the utility bill.  Whoops.  I'm behind.  I did not mean for that to happen. Also, the other day, Vince turned to me and instead of saying, "hey mom", he called me, "ok google" which is what he says all day to his google home device.  Hmmmm.  "Mom" has been replaced by "Google".  Interesting.  Also, you know the upper middle class biweekly (or weekly if you are super lucky) tradition of cleaning up before the housekeepers come? I had to apologize today to our long-term (suffering?) housekeepers as I was pulling into the driveway as they were pulling out that I'm sorry, the house is a complete disaster that no picking up was done and I wasn't sure I'd be able to manage it for about 10 more months and he laughed and said, don't worry, the house is clean now.  I remember when we first hired them years ago and they said - the house will become cleaner and cleaner as we come on a regular basis and I laughed then and I still laugh now.  Our housekeepers just keep us at a bare baseline of cleanliness.  We are mostly slobs.

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I took Edda to the dentist today, Ning went with me to help out.  Ning brushes Edda's teeth in the morning, so the dentist gave her a few tips (I'm the worst at brushing Edda's teeth - I'm a bad tooth brusher myself).  Ning said - she makes it look so easy!  I said, well, there were 4 people in the room brushing Edda's teeth.  I held Edda's arms, Ning held Edda's head, and there was the dentist and the hygienist.  Edda's teeth look good!

I dropped Edda off at school by 10.  Here is Mr. Pat, her teacher.  I couldn't get Edda to look at the camera.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

First two days of nursing. Update.

No photos from the hospital!  Imagine a landscape printed page with the list of 30 patients listed - they have their room numbers, what they are in the hospital for, how many days they've been there and a bunch more information that I can't remember right now and then they usually assign nurses to a block of 5 rooms.  So my name is listed next to five rooms.  My name with my cell extension number that I carry throughout the day.  This assignment sheet also tells you who: is on telemetry, has bed sores, is on a bed alarm, has a foley, has a central lines, has a patient control analgesia pump, is on isolation precautions, and needs total care.  It also lists the charge nurse and the two technicians who are working the floor.  The unit on a sheet of paper.

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So I'm on the other side of my first two days on the unit on my own.  Though I think I now have a slight cold (probably a rebound immune response - I think one often gets sick after a stressful time is over, your body can hold it together and fight off germs while you are doing the stressful thing, but once you relax into a regular thing, the germs take over.  This is not based in science.  It's only based my own experience), I made it through and I'm still standing.  I spent the weekend before in a state of controlled anticipatory anxiety which I was trying to suppress and hide (because I've come to the conclusion that anxiety over uncontrollable things should not ruin a good time and Sat and Sun were both good times and I was trying to relax and have fun), but both Vince and Jeremy could tell that I was anxious and were extra nice and supportive through the weekend.  Vince especially, who I dragged to orienteering on Sunday morning, did not protest the relatively early weekend wake up at 9 am and he played fun music and seat danced in the car on the way there and back making me laugh.

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It was the right time to go off orientation - there are things that are not learnable unless you are forced to do it by yourself and figure it out.   I had no truly demanding patients my first two shifts - even so, I didn't stop moving the entire time I was working.  I'm happy I get to form my own relationships with my patients which was harder to do when I'm deferring to my mentor.  I'm trying to figure out when to take breaks to make it all more manageable.  No matter what is happening, everyday around 5 pm I feel an incredible urge to cry.  Sometimes it's because I'm happy that I've almost made it another day, sometimes it's because I'm incredibly overwhelmed.  I wonder if it's some hormonal shift that happens in the early evening.  Old people with dementia have sun-downing where they get irritable at about 5 pm.  Maybe I have my own version.

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On of the reasons that I want to cry at 5 pm is because I've been nice since 6:45 am.  I mean, I'm almost always nice, but I mean, I'm nice in a particular customer service kind of way. There are many technical aspects to being a nurse which are important, but if you do your job right, no one notices and you can prevent problems before they happen.  Watching for a blood pressure that trends lower throughout the shift, watching for changes in mental status - you can figure out what you need to do before it all gets worse.  But this isn't what people care about. A lot of what people remember is how nice you were to them.  Did you listen to them?  Did you hear their complaints?  Did you get them a warm blanket when they asked?  So I'm nice to patients and try to listen.  They actually don't care that you were two hours late with the IV antibiotics because pharmacy didn't stock it in the floor medication machine and you had to call the pharmacist to verify the med and then they wouldn't send it in the tube system, or if they sent it, they sent it to the wrong floor - so you have to call again and then they said it would take another hour to have it delivered because the tech isn't scheduled to deliver until 6 pm, but you could come down to pharmacy to pick it up yourself.  So I'm also nice in the same way to all the pharmacists, techs, doctors, transporters, housekeepers, and various other staff throughout the day.  This level of sustained niceness is a kind of performance (and in a way it is a performance because cameras are everywhere and people are able to take video anytime they want to) that does take a lot of energy from me.  I pride myself in deescalation of tense situations, of making people feel calmer and more reassured and to feel like they are valued, but man, it makes me feel like crying at 5pm.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Mr. Kent.

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Mr. Kent! I went to see my 7th grade science teacher this afternoon.  Mr. Kent is one of my favorite teachers - I have a handful of special teachers that I lug around in my heart and Mr. Kent is one of them.  I learned so much science when I was 12.  We learned about cells and used microscopes and made our own slides of onion cells, water plants, cheek cells.  We dissected chicken wings.  We typed our own blood (!).   He took us on field trips to Assateague Island and Calvert Cliffs to find fossils.  He was the person, besides my parents, who laid the first brick in the foundation for my science career.  He's turning 80 this month.  I just happened to see the invitation go out on Facebook a few weeks ago in Rockville Town Center, I'm glad to have had the weekend off to say hello again to him.  So good to see him.  Honestly, I just wanted to know if he remembered me and he said that he did.  I think towards the end of his 40-year old career with MCPS, he chafed at various changes in the county.  I know now the county has a standardized curriculum for each class in every school in the county, I'm not sure how much variation the teachers get in teaching the subject matter - I suspect that it isn't much.  I know Mr. Kent would have hated it.  He wanted to teach science in his own way.  And I loved it so much!  He basically went through the whole cheek cell lesson again with me this afternoon and when I close my eyes, I can see the younger him in the front of the classroom scraping the spoon against the inside of his cheek showing us how he wanted us to get our own cells and I can remember where I was sitting in his classroom and I see the fish tanks and snake tanks all around me and it makes me so happy.  I don't like telling people where I went to school, but here I made an exception and told him I ended up going to MIT & Caltech and to thank him for being there at the beginning and for showing me how much fun science can be. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

46!

I am 46 today!  I feel lucky and fortunate and happy.  My hospital gig celebrated all September birthdays in a unit meeting on Thursday and I fully claimed my birthday day and my birthday age in the group meeting.  None of this - I'm turning 29. I'm 46.  I also fully claimed my birthday day by insisting on having this weekend off, I've worked at least one day every weekend for the past 4-5 weeks and I'm not happy about it.  You know what a nurse needs?  A union.  But that's another story for another day.  On this, my 46th birthday, I think of my senior thesis advisor Anne who died when she was this age - she was just 7 years older than I was.  She was the first woman tenured in my department and I was one of her very first students and I joined when her lab was just an empty room and I saw her in her office late at night many times and I'd see her again in the morning after having slept on a bunch of chairs that she had shoved together to make a makeshift bed. 

I missed Vince's back to school night on Thursday.  Jeremy went and made a pinch pot in ceramics class.  He met all the other teachers, including the physics teacher named Ms. Vincent who went to MIT in Course 16 (an actual rocket scientist) and then Berkeley.  It'll be a good year.

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I had ramen twice today.  I went to lunch with Adriana (ramen #1) where we talked about our parallel nursing experiences.  She's on a neuro ICU unit and I asked about her assessments, she says that the hallmark of a neuro ICU nurse is waking everyone up every hour and asking - WHAT IS YOUR NAME?  DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE? and then if they can't answer those questions, then pinching them to see if they flinch from pain.  There is a lot of pinching.  And she's watched a bunch of med students/residents use a hand drill to drill holes into people's head. OMG.  Can you imagine some 23 year old try to drill a hole in your head?  I guess everyone has their first day.  My first day will be Monday - the day that I'm going to "fly" on my own and have my own load of patients.  I would be scared shitless if not for the fact that I can see ahead of me the two people who went on the floor by themselves a few weeks/months ago and seem to still be alive and I can see behind me the two other people who started a few weeks after me.  And I lean into the 10,000 times that people have assured me that I'll be fine (including my preceptor who has taught many, many new nurses) - that the first month or so will be overwhelming and then I'll fall into a rhythm.  The unit is very nice, everyone is open to teaching me, it's where I'm supposed to be right now.  Some days I feel like a veritable drug dealer: dilaudid, morphine, percocet, vicodin, tramadol.  Any opioid you want, I've given it away.  At least I don't do fentanyl.  I'm working out my feelings about it all.

I had ramen #2 with the family.  We just had a quiet dinner together tonight. Fun at the asian market and asian dessert store.  Now i'm going to give Edda a shower and go to bed early.  Fingers crossed for a good 46th year.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

updating.

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The kids are home today, causing a slight bump in the tight logistical ship we are running here in Maryland.  It is the Jewish new year, but MCPS marks it on the calendar as simply a non-instructional day for teachers and students.  When I was a kid, they just straight up called it Rosh Hashanah leading me to be confused as to what exactly was happening that day, but I'm sure I was happy with a day off from school.

I'm feeling behind on a lot of things including this blog, but I'm trying to not let it bother me, we just keep on going.  Everyone is well, we are all doing our things. 

Jeremy's weekends have been transformed.  I'm not home a lot of weekends now, so he's managing the family and errand running.  And a lot of alone-ish time, that's new for him.   It's a complicated thing we had going on the weekends even before this nursing thing, we usually alternated going out of the house so at least one of us could mind Edda, we are very rarely out of the house together without Edda. We have some Edda-care on the weekends, but Vince helps out a bunch so Jeremy can go grocery shopping without having to take Edda and her wheelchair.  Jeremy booked his first business trip in October, hopefully we'll be able to swing that without too much trouble.

Vince hosted parties on both Friday night and Saturday night in the house.  It was lively both nights when I was trying to go to sleep early.  He's gearing up for a busy year.  I still haven't figured out how to log into the grade-checking system.  He says his dream school is Carnegie Mellon, he told me his whole plan of what he needs to do to get in, and I think if he pulls it off, it would be a pretty good application.  He has a good friend who also wants to go, they are going to go to the information session in Bethesda together later in the month.  I'm such a pessimist, I can tell I'm not doing this parenting part right.  There is going to be probably one kid from RM from his class going to Carnegie Mellon that, to me, is a long shot.  Jeremy asks me why it can't be Vince, and I shrug. 

As for Edda, it took me until today to think about her high school situation and back to school night when I was telling Vickey about it on the phone.  Emotionally, it's a bummer for me that she's in high school.  She's in a school community based program which means that they are prepping them, not a high school diploma, rather for work in the community.  I just can't imagine Edda ever working anywhere, but I'm getting this idea that Edda has to have a job from various sources and it's upsetting to me.  The jobs that the kids are doing are things like collecting recycling in the school or going to a job site to shred paper or sort items.  I think some of the kids in Edda's program can do this and when I first understood that Edda was delayed in some major way but I didn't know yet that it was Rett Syndrome, I remember thinking of her being a housekeeper somewhere and thinking that that was a terrible thing, but now I wish she could use her body well enough to be a housekeeper or to stock shelves or to mow a lawn.  How nice would that be?  To be able to go to work and do a useful thing.  Anyways, I'm sure this is coming out all garbled, but it's hard for me to think of Edda as an adult, but now that she's in high school, we all are focused on her adult-ness when on the day she turns 21 and ages out of the school system into adult programs.  Also, the program expanded from two classrooms with two teachers to three classrooms and three teachers.  Edda rotates throughout the day among the three classrooms.  But to accommodate the expansion, one of the classrooms (the one manned by our main point of contact and Edda's teacher/case manager) was a storage room last year with no windows.  Vickey was like - Edda's classroom is an old storage room?!  I was like - huh, I didn't really think about it that way.  I was just telling Vickey about it because they had to empty the storage room just last week and it's not yet decorated or equipped with a Promethean board.  So that is hard, to move from a newly built middle school where there was a whole special needs wing in the front of the school with kitchen and laundry and bathroom facilities to, um, a repurposed storage room?  I know not everything is in the fanciness of the building, for example, the teachers made it a point to let us know that, at lunch, instead of grouping the kids at the edge of the room to have their lunch, they are all seated in the center of the cafeteria with the typical kids bustling around them.  There was a plan to demolish the school and rebuild it, but the funds got re-allocated at the last minute to building a new high school not far from here where there is a huge expansion of housing.  So that is that.  Edda, of course, is fine with it all. 

As for me, I'm still slightly drowning with my new schedule.  I'm almost on my own with my own patients, I think that'll be next week.  It's become clear to me that I will not know everything I need to know when I go off orientation, but I'm OK with that.  So many things I don't know: how to change a wound vac, how to take blood from a medi-port, how to compensate for fluid overload when you are transfusing blood, how to follow up on a delayed midline insertion, how to speak Spanish.  There is never a dull moment at work, the hours pass extremely quickly.  On Saturday, I had a nursing student following me around for 3 hours which seemed incredibly ridiculous to me because it implied that I was capable of teaching her something.  I actually had to apologize to her and tell her I wasn't ignoring her and I wanted to talk small talk with her about her big nursing dreams, but at that moment, I was using all of my brain cells to manage the 9 am morning shift report / vitals / assessments / morning medications and I couldn't spare any extra for diversion for small talk.  Once I start doing small talk, I can't fully concentrate on the task at hand.  I'm getting used to having many "Sunday" nights.  You know, the night before you have to go to work for the first time after having a day off.  I used to always insist on having a quiet Sunday night, but I can't have that anymore.  I'm also trying pretty hard to protect some "down" days.  I'm working a lot and I could work everyday if I wanted to, but I'm trying to insist on myself having some protected time off - which, to me, means no socializing past the family members, no catching up on housekeeping or bills or various errands and no working (obvs.).  Just watching tv or reading, blogging, or crafting.  I think if I threw a load of laundry in there somewhere, it would be OK.

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Friday, September 7, 2018

Fifty!

Jeremy is 50 today!  A big day.  I went downtown to meet him at his office where he hosted a happy hour-type birthday party.  Cookies and beer.

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It was very lively.  I spoke to his coworkers about: Michigan, summer camp for kids, universal basic income, moving into a condo, grocery meal services, rowing.  That's a pretty good showing for me.

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Thanks Nat for picking Edda up from aftercare and hanging out with her until we got home at around 7:15 ish.  Thank you Vince for making spaghetti dinner.

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Vince is downstairs hosting a Magic card evening with a bunch of friends.

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Jeremy had made some biking goals this year.  He wanted to do fifty 50-mile rides during this birthday year and he did do that - he did 53.

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He also hit 10,000 miles on this bike (2.5 years old).  Here are the stats:  since his last birthday, he's ridden 5,220 outdoors and 3,211 miles indoors.  So how many hours is that?  Hold on...he's doing the math...ok.  We aren't doing the math.  Maybe next time.

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

No school supplies, bus routing, back to school night.

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I might have gone a little too far in the letting go of paying attention to Vince & Edda's schooling because I was at the hospital on Sunday thinking - oh crap!  I've been so busy, I'd not bought a single school supply for either child.  And I knew at the rate I was going, I wasn't going to be able to get any shopping done (either virtually or in the real world).  And then I got home late Sunday night and Vince comes and finds me and says, hey mom!  can you log into myMCPS? All of my friends' parents have logged in and they all know their schedules and I want to know if I'm in their classes.  I looked around the website and tried to sign up for the account and realized that they physically mailed a password to the house mid-summer and I must have thrown the notice away.  Then I apologized to Vince that I couldn't do it, and he says - no worries, it's actually kind of nice that you aren't super concerned about checking up on my grades like the other parents.

Edda's bus came on time the first day of school, but in the afternoon, the bus routed her back home and not to her aftercare.  Luckily I was home that day.  Our street is being repaved and there was a bunch of construction going on and it was incredibly hot and the bus coming home was going the wrong direction on our street so I scampered across the street to get her off the wheelchair lift and then I put her in the car and drove her to aftercare.  Which is just as well, because I forgot to tell them that Edda was in high school now and no longer on the middle school bus.

Tonight was Edda's back to school night.  We met the special ed team that'll be working with Edda - it's going to be a good year!  The school is showing her age.  Edda's middle school was a brand new school with beautiful natural light, a rock climbing wall, and wide hallways.  My old high school, on the other hand, is a little rough around the edges.  It's had a couple renovations since I've gone, so it's not entirely familiar, but I enjoy walking through the hallways. 

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Monday, September 3, 2018

School starts!

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Jeremy, me and Edda went to see Crazy Rich Asians to end the summer.  I wanted Vince to go, but he wanted to stay home and enjoy the empty house to himself.  I cried again!  Even the 2nd time.  Jeremy liked the movie too.  Edda was a little bit noisy, but Jeremy managed her and fed her popcorn the whole time, hopefully we didn't bother too many people.

Tomorrow school starts.  Jeremy went last Thursday to see Edda's teachers at Wootton.  I had gotten an email saying that there would be a freshman half day orientation that day, including the whole bus schedule and I emailed the special ed teachers and asked if that general freshman announcement included Edda - if her bus would run and if teachers would be expecting her.  They didn't quite know if the bus would run for Edda, but they extended a personal invitation to visit the classroom.  I was at the hospital, so Jeremy and Kitachi went on their own.  A bunch of her friends are there - from elementary school and middle school, it'll be nice to see them again.  We have a full roster of childcare providers - Ning in the mornings, Kitachi in the afternoons/evenings and Eliana on the weekends.  We have Vince for backup and even better backup when he is able to drive in the late fall so he'll be able to pick up or drop off Edda as needed.  It's going to be challenging as the summer lull comes to an end and Jeremy starts travelling again for work.  It remains unclear how the scheduling will work for me at the hospital over the next few months. Theoretically, we should be able to swing any weekday travel and I think our caregivers + Vince would be able to throw together something for weekend work travel, but it's not a relaxing thing to think about. This nursing gig is pretty crappy for anyone who is trying to arrange childcare.   A lot of my coworkers have their mothers taking care of their babies.

Vince is going to be a junior, a big year for him.  After a particularly angst ridden spring sophomore year (for me, not for Vince) where I fretted constantly about where Vince was going to get into college, how he was going to get into college, what we could possibly do to improve his chances to go to particular colleges, I decided that instead of fretting, I would let it go.  I'm forcing myself to pay less attention to Vince's college application process by paying attention to other things.  He'll be fine, he's making good choices, learning what I think he needs to learn to grow up and be on his own.  It's easy for me to be caught up in all the hubbub, I've had people tell me I need (right now! right now!) to hire not only SAT prep tutors, but also Vince's own personal college application coach.  I've had people tell me that even with a heavy load of AP classes, a 4.0 average and 1550 on the SATs, their kid got rejected from every "desirable" school.  The absolute worst case in our situation would be if I pushed and pushed Vince to attain whatever level of performance I thought was necessary to get into a name-brand school and he got rejected from all of them and then I would have ruined the very fond and happy relationship that I have with him (which I'm super grateful for, I love my teenagers, they are both a joy to hang out with.  Right now they are both sleeping right next to me in Edda's twin-sized crib squished together like two peas in a pod while sponge bob square pants plays on TV.  They might both be snoring a little).  So I'm doing my favorite parenting thing which is nothing.  No SAT prep, no college coaches, no crafting experiences and/or extracurricular activities.  There is only living a full and interesting life - which I believe Vince is doing fine on his own.  We'll see how long that philosophy lasts, I'm sure I'll eat my words and hire someone to write his college essays.  I guess why hire anyone?  I'll just write them myself.  In the female middle-age voice?  That would be weird.   Who am I kidding, I just want to go to college myself again. 

And finally it means that I will have a few hours tomorrow during the day when no one is home at the house and I can finally do all the things that I want to do when no one is home like listen to how quiet the house is and also to put something down on the counter and find it in the same place three hours later.  I'm very excited!