Friday, March 30, 2018

Spring break - part III

So we left Case without the official tour - we were going to rebook for Friday on the way home from Maryland, but everyone wanted to head straight home.  One can stand only so much family time - we all shared a single hotel room every night and Vince was listening to youtube channels and laughing with his Maryland friends late into the night, Edda would wake up with loud announcement at 6 am.  I will say this about the 4-5 hours we were in Cleveland, everyone was super nice.  If there was ever an award for being nice to strangers, Cleveland would win.  We got asked if we were lost and needed help with directions, we got a personal tour of the gym because though I think most college campuses are very accessible, you have to know where all the accessibility is - the elevators and corridors might run from different buildings to different levels - we needed help getting Edda and her wheelchair from an upper grassy level down to street level and I couldn't figure out how to go through the building without backtracking a quarter of a mile and someone personally escorted us through the building.  Everyone held the door open for us. 

We drove to Ann Arbor and got there by lunchtime.  We tried to book a hotel on campus, but by the time we decided, it was full so we stayed at a suburban Hyatt.  The boys ubered (lyft-ed) into campus to start the engineering tour.  We didn't quite realize it would be a two hour tour with safety glasses.

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I know that UM is enormous, but I didn't quite realize how enormous is enormous.  The engineering campus is not even on the main campus - it's on something called the North Campus which is a 10 minute shuttle ride from the main campus.  The shuttle crosses a river, a highway & various wooded areas.

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It is not on the main campus because they have enormous stuff like in the photo below which is a room to build a bridge/building/railway/whatever and shake it like it is in an indoor earthquake.

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The solar car (below) has come in 2nd in the world solar car competition for three years running.  They always come in 2nd to the Netherlands?  Jeremy told me that they said if you are on the main team and travel with it, you take a term off and do it full time.  The UM tour guide was a MechE from California and Jeremy asked why he didn't go to a UC school.  The guide said that the thought the UC schools were had a more competitive atmosphere and had less money for support - he had a lot of friends from home go past the regular 4 years because there wasn't enough space for them to take required classes and that that never happened at UM.

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While the boys were engineering, Edda and I stayed in the suburbs where the parking is easy.  We went to an independent bookstore.

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And a quilting store.

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Vince & Jeremy played pinball.

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I will say Wed evening was the low point of the trip, the part of the trip where we started getting on each other's nerves.  I think it was because Thursday we were still going to be in Ann Arbor another night, our tentative arrangements with friends fell through and it was going to be cold and rainy and we had no plans.  We needed some alone time.  So Thursday morning, Vince went to the mall, Jeremy took a spin class and Edda and I stayed in the hotel room quilting.  We were all better by the afternoon where we went to the Ford museum of American innovation which was a nice, warm, dry indoor space for Edda to walk around in and for us to separate and reconvene for a few hours as we wanted each other's company.  It was a nice, but odd museum.  There was the Rosa Parks bus, the Kennedy presidential car, and lots of sewing machines & steam engines. 

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Now we are home.  The house is still in pancake breakfast configuration with all the furniture pushed out of the way.  Jeremy drove 8 hours and we have a few more days of spring break before we go back to the regular regular.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spring break 2018 - part 2.

Remember I said all the tours were full when we were planning this trip?  Well it was really only full at Michigan, not at the other two - but I had put us on the waiting list for the engineering tour at Michigan (and promptly forgotten about it) and I found out while waiting for one of the CMU tours (Tuesday morning) that we had gotten a space at the UM tour on Wed afternoon.  We were planning on touring CWR on Wed during the day and not get to UM until Thursday. So I was texting Jeremy to flip the hotel/driving arrangement and go to Ann Arbor first and then CWR on the way home, but Jeremy said it was too late to cancel the hotel, so we drove to Cleveland and stayed the night only to head to AA in the morning. 

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Vince was not super excited about Case - especially after he bumped into Vickey at the pancake breakfast who was not very enthusiastic about her time there and kind of made that clear - but I promised Vickey to go to the polymer chemistry building aka the Emerald City.  So we did that and made our enthusiasm for polymer chemistry known.

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We had a very nice dinner at the student center at a place called the Jolly Scholar and our server was a nursing student from Chicago.  We also were entertained by trivia night.

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Travelling with Edda is always challenging - mostly from a hygiene standpoint - showering is always tricky.  Edda got her first shower of the trip in Cleveland.  At home, we've converted our master bath shower with ramps and we have a shower chair and a shower head with the extend-o leash.  In hotels, I have to get naked with Edda and I'm terrified of her slipping and falling.  I put a towel on the floor of the shower to make it not slippery, then I often press her up against a wall so I don't have to balance her and I have a hand free to actually clean her.  Then I have to use a nalgene water bottle to collect shower water to pour over her because I can't quite position her to have the water run in all the right places. 

We slept in Cleveland, got up and headed to AA.

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Spring break 2018 - college tour edition.

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To anchor our spring break we decided to take Vince on a low-key college tour. We wanted to show him a bunch of different types of school - a big state school, a tech school, maybe a liberal arts college, small towns, medium towns, big towns.  We really just needed a good reason to get out of the house and a route to take and we decided on the following schools: Carnegie Mellon, Case Western, & U Michigan.  No small liberal arts colleges, but I thought three was a fine number.  The planning of this trip was kind of a mess, we were all distracted with other, non spring break crap - the tours were full and we kept changing the order of cities.  We did not travel lightly - Jeremy packed his bike in hopes of getting some riding time in (he did not).  Poor Max practically threw herself into the van begging to come along, but sorry girl, not this time.  Other people go to Disneyland for spring break.  We go to Cleveland.

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We immediately fell into our regular road trip roles, with Jeremy declaring that the trip was 225 miles to Pittsburg and we had 240 miles worth of gas in the tank - plenty of gas!  we won't need to stop at all to which I groaned and tried to not think about sitting on the side of the road stranded just because Jeremy refused to stop for gas.

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I *love* college tours.  It's no secret that I would love to spend my time going to college all the time to all the different schools doing all the different majors and joining all the crazy clubs, so I spent the entire trip trying to not screw this up for Vince.  Basically, trying to keep my big mouth shut.  It's already stressful enough, he doesn't need a crazy, overinvested, overzealous mother to add to it all.  This was hard for me.  I think Vince knows it's hard for me.  We arrived in Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon.  It was beautiful.  We found a glorious parking spot.  It was the last day that we would be able to see the sun.

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We managed three tours at CMU on Tuesday morning: a general campus tour, a residence tour, and an EE tour.  It was pouring rain.  Interesting things to note:  they have a Quidditch team, a Lego-building club and an inner tube water polo team, the residence tour made no mention of the Greek system (until I asked explicitly) which about 20% of the students are part of (including our residence tour guide - who looked at me and told me that my stereotypical idea of Greek life should be disregarded because everyone is still very academically driven.  I did not mention my own experience with Greek life with very academically driven students still involved weekly drunken parties and setting couches on fire) and the EE freshmen lab was in the basement and did not smell very good despite all the excellent lab equipment.

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We met Shuang for lunch - we went to an Asian noodle place.  For whatever reason, Vince is on an Asian food kick even though the best Asian food is in Rockville.  Not Pittsburg, Cleveland or Ann Arbor.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Edda's pancake breakfast - 14 years old.

I'm in Ann Arbor, MI in a Hyatt about three miles from campus & my view out of my window is a lovely Burger King.  Edda is watching cartoon network, the boys are out to find the closest Whole Foods to pick up some fruit & other fixings for lunch.  It's always a challenge to get enough fiber on a road trip.  God, we are so old - worried about fiber intake.  lol.  Anyways, I have a few minutes and a good strong hotel wifi (some hotel wifi just suck, not even worth hopping on), so here's the blog post.

Sunday, we had Edda's birthday pancake breakfast.  It's always exhausting in a happy way, very much like your own wedding where I have to be intensely social for 4-6 hours and all your social circles converge in one setting.  Some friends we see only once a year at this party, some people are in our regular weekly social scene so it's all mixed.  Jeremy & I have been through this whole thing together many times so that the responsibility roles are already pre-determined and we don't have to fuss too much about the planning, we just focus solely on execution.

Lauren made this beautiful cake for the party, a gift for Edda & us - I swear, her cakes get more and more beautiful every year.

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I thank Soojung for taking photos during the whole party -  I've not been in a photo mood for a little while.

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Jeremy's pancake/bacon routine has been refined over the years.  The bacon gets made the night before so we don't have a smoky house the day of.  The pancake recipe is from the Joy of Cooking and is made overnight so that the buttermilk gets to do it's own magic and they are thin.  Jeremy has the semi-automatic pancake batter dispenser so all the pancakes are round and equal sized.  And he has a blueberry compote recipe that everyone seems to like more than the maple syrup.

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Soojung snapped this photo - which I'm grateful for even though Charlotte's eyes are fluttering closed - her smile is there.  Charlotte performed our wedding ceremony and just happened to be in town from LA for other reasons, so she could stop by!  She saw our wedding photo with her in it in the front hall of the house.  <3 <3

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Our girls:

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Every year, this party reminds me that I'm not alone with Edda's diagnosis.  It was so hard the first five years after Edda's diagnosis, I think not a single day passed without tears or feelings of anguish and sadness and I thought I would never recover from it, but now, I'm much more at peace with it all.  I think I'd even be ok celebrating Edda's birthday on our own now, which was so terrible for me when Edda was younger.  Edda has a cousin, Sarah, whose birthday is within a few weeks of Edda's and who we'd see most weeks at Sunday night dinner and I remember so much pegging her experiences with Edda's experience and saying, ah, Edda would/should be doing this or wearing that or meeting this person or learning this thing, especially around their birthdays.  But this birthday month, Sarah is off in Paris on her own & Edda is at home and I didn't even think of Edda possibly living this other Paris life until Jeremy mentioned it to me.  Not that I wouldn't love Edda to be in Paris on her own this spring break, but that I'm ok with Edda as her own person doing her own thing and living her own life.  She is happy, she is love, she is an extension of me and of us, our family.

The usual suspects (minus Laura who was off on spring break already!)

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

March for our lives.

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Even up until Friday night, we debated about taking Edda to the March for our Lives rally.  We were going back and forth - the weather early in the week looked like it was going to be on the cold side and because the crowds/Metro were going to be unpredictable, we were leaning towards not taking Edda.  The boys would go with Bob and Katherine and I would stay at home with Edda.  But Saturday (today) is Edda's actual birthday and so would it be weird if I stayed behind with Edda eating brunch at Founding Farmers just to two of us?  Would I be OK with that and not feel left out?  I wasn't quite sure.  The weather forecast then started to skew warmer and then on Friday night, Jeremy said - we're taking Edda, it'll be fine.  So we took Edda and it was fine.  (Well except for when we got trapped in the Rockville metro elevator on the way to DC for about 2 minutes and thought that maybe our adventure-y adventure would end at the Rockville Metro station even before we started.) We Metro-ed in with Kate and Sam - Vince and Sam were our student leaders - if you look at the first pic closely, you can see they are wearing 2020 stickers - the first election they can vote in. 

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We set forth an early entrance / early exit plan.  We left the house at 9 am, got downtown by 10:30 ish and left the rally at 11:30 am, 30 minutes before the speeches were planned to begin.  Bob, Katherine, Jeremy, Edda and I were part of the early leaving group headed to a Chinese restaurant in Rockville before seeing Kiki and Kappa off to the BWI shuttle.  Vince and Sam went wandering off by themselves at about 11 am trying to get to the front of the rally - they were home by 3 pm. 

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Happy Birthday Edda!

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Rise pizza, spring dresses, ready for protesting.

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Alright guys and dolls, we are officially on spring break.  The last bits of work got done, outgoing phone messages recorded and email out of the office settings are set.  This is the first spring break in many years (7?) where I'm not going to school so I don't have to shuffle around stuff to participate in only half of the kids' spring break.  And we are ready for a week of relaxation.   ha ha.  no not quite.  We have protesting tomorrow, a party for 40-50 people on Sunday and then maybe a bit of relaxation.  Kiki and Kappa are in town, they made their travel arrangements for the big party, but because of the national protests, their travel arrangements coincide with the march and not Edda's party.

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Vince needed to exchange some pants at the outlet mall, so he proposed that we go to Rise Pizza there and then wander around.  The dinner was pretty good, though I do get confused with these new fangled places that make you put together your own meal - but everyone is doing it - Chipotle, Cava, Rise Pizza.  I think I should pay the extra money for someone to figure out what tastes good together.  Edda and I stopped off at the Brooks Brothers store and tried on this cute spring dress.  I thought it might be good for Edda's birthday party, so I tried one on for size and it seemed cute, so then we convinced Edda to try the dress on too.  We had a lot of fun and looked really silly.  I felt like the Easter bunny needed to be right behind us hiding chocolate eggs.

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My signs!  We are ready for tomorrow. 

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Two hour delay...

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Two hour delay today.   Jeremy and I, in anticipation of extra two hours, pre-negotiated the night before the Edda-care split - he'd feed her breakfast before 7 am and I'd take over from there until the bus got to the house at 9:20.  Edda -sleepy girl - did not wake up at her usual time at 6:30 am.  Smartie pants, she slept in.  I got her up closer to 8 am and fed her breakfast, folded her laundry, got her dressed, woke up Vince and prepped her school bag and seated her into her wheelchair and waited for the bus.  Vince came down and looked at me plaintively and asked for a ride to school.  I kind of groaned.  He knows that if I'm waiting for Edda's bus, he needs to wait until after she's loaded before I can drive him - which pretty much ensures he's going to be a few minutes late to school and it delays my work day.  Sometimes I can get pissy about that 15/20 minutes.  And I had given Jeremy an all clear on childcare after 7 am today.  But Jeremy was just done with his morning routine as Edda's bus pulled away and the two boys took the car to school and the Metro - thus allowing me to start work 20 minutes earlier than I would have.  It's all regular snow day stuff, but it doesn't mean it doesn't throw me off kilter. 

I took myself out to lunch today.  Yummy!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Late winter snow day.

After school activities were cancelled on Tuesday afternoon because of the incoming snow, which meant that Edda's aftercare was cancelled.  I texted her school to hold her (buses can't be rerouted) and that I'd come pick her up.  I got her home and settled into her room and tried to finish up some work.  We are on vacation next week which coincides with the end of the quarter, so I need to finish up some things so that they don't go overdue while I'm gone.

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The night before a school cancellation is a wonderful thing (though I did work about an hour or so after dinner which I normally never do because I knew the rest of the week was going to be all screwed up with regard to when I can get my work done - our morning caregiver is out of town for a couple of weeks, so Jeremy and I are splitting morning duties - so I lose an hour or so there every work day), we all settled into sleepy Edda's room trying to decide on a movie to watch.  It was impossible to agree on anything, so we watched some cooking videos on youtube instead.

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We awoke to less accumulation than was expected, but it did snow most of the day and we got about 4 inches of wet, heavy snow.  I stomped around the house irritated today for no apparent reason, I think mostly that because of the snow day, I lose my alone time in the house.  I still had to work (which I don't resent - I don't get a snow day even if the feds close - because it's so worth it for me to work from home all the other days) and Jeremy still worked - a couple of conference calls for him.  Jeremy went inter (intra?) conference call and dropped off my parents at an airport hotel in Baltimore for their early am flight tomorrow for China.  You think I should hire someone to chop down that tree that goes diagonally across?  Hmmm.

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We alternated keeping tabs on Edda.  During my Edda time (around lunch), I learned to bind my quilt and for a moment thought my $100 sewing machine had gone kaput (the presser foot lever seemed to be failing to lift the presser foot) and went to find Jeremy to complain that my sewing machine had died after only 18 months of use and that I probably needed to upgrade to a $600 machine and I didn't quite want to do that and but I also didn't want to rebuy the $100 super beginner machine.  I caught him in the middle of an imaginary hill bike race on Zwift and promptly caused him to lose concentration and fail to catch his virtual nemesis.  And then after removing all the back screws off the sewing machine, the thing started working again and I realized I can put off spending $600 on my next sewing machine which delights me to no end.  While I was sewing, Vince came in and chatted to me about how he's been offered various illicit substances by friends from school, but he's turned them down and we went back and forth chatting about it - he did not give me specific instances or anyone's name - but at some point, I said - so if you have any questions, you can always come to me and he laughed and said - mom, I know more about this stuff than you do and I said, uh, yeah I guess that is true.  I am a total square. 

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Maxi has been tricking all of us, each time a person comes home in the afternoon, she acts as if she is starving and gets fed "lunch" again.  I swear she gets fed four lunches and I told Jeremy this and he said it wasn't possible she had four lunches because Edda is physically unable to feed her lunch, so it must be only three lunches.  And then he went downstairs to feed her lunch telling both me and Vince that he was doing it and please not feed her again even if she asks and acts as if she is starving to death.  Two hour delay tomorrow!  And then it's April.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Elongated & round toilets, Matzoh.

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Happy Monday!  I feel like so much of what happens is unphotographable these days.  Not in a skeezy, pornographic way.  More like that there is so much talking, and more talking and then even more talking.  We get upset at each other and make up with each other.  We debate things like do you want the green one or do you want the blue one?  There are long conversations about things that are so so boring to listen to the first time, let alone to even recount to a third party (various topics: scheduling, hotel reservations, annual reviews, home repair).  For example, I texted Jeremy from Home Depot this weekend asking him to please measure the toilet bowl in the guest room because the seat is broken and our poor 2-night guest this week must have fallen off the toilet because he was unaware that it was broken and we heard the minor crash through the walls and, of course, he did not mention this to us the next morning because he might have thought he himself had broken the toilet and was too mortified to tell us. 

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On Sunday night we had dinner at Eric's house where he had gotten five boxes of Kosher for Passover Matzoh. Plain.  Apparently, plain=tasteless. Eric was trying to give it away to us, but none of us took any boxes (except for Gene - Gene said to put some ham & cheese on the matzo and Seth said that you might as well put the ham & cheese on cardboard).  Then we discussed that the egg and onion matzoh flavor was, apparently, delicious, but not kosher for Passover.  I did not realize that there was kosher and then kosher for Passover.  Also note the St. Patrick's Day cupcakes.  Yum.

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