School update.

We had a zoom meeting with Edda’s teacher yesterday to go over her new medical protocols re her newly onset seizures that they (and we) were just beginning to see when school shut down last year. Most of Edda’s seizures happen outside of school hours, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that that will continue to be the case. They do have experience with other kiddos who have seizures, so hopefully it won’t be too freaky. Mainly, we are trying to avoid calling 911 and having an ambulance take her to the hospital unnecessarily. Usually, there is a strict protocol that the school has to follow for calling 911. Though if it happens, it happens.

Everyone is excited and freaked out at the same time. I think it’s leaning more to freaked out now, but I’m hoping that in a few weeks, it’ll lean more towards excited. But the March 1st date seems to be sticking. I saw the bus driver this morning testing out the route and we chatted and confirmed the time and date of the first pickup. I keep getting weird conflicting messages about the bus, but again, it should be OK.

We also had a group zoom tour for returning families of the classroom with blue tape marking out each of the kids’ bubble. Only a handful of kids are coming back in Edda’s program and there are (I think) only 2 special needs programs at her school. So for the first month, there will be fewer than 20 kids in the building. The rest of the school is phasing in over the next two months. About 50% of the kids (student population approx: 2400) said they wanted to go back in person and the typical kids are doing a hybrid model where only half of the half who wanted to go back are in school on a particular day. So the school should never be at more than 25% of capacity. Also they cordoned off Edda’s special needs program so none of the general population of kids will go through that hallway.

Fingers crossed. xoxo

Self-comforts.

There is a moment right before we go to sleep when we try to shrug off all the pandemic worries of the day and attempt to figure out something to talk about besides all the things we are actually thinking about. It’s a weird race between us to find the funniest videos that we’d seen during the day. Usually, it’s animal videos. Jeremy shows me videos of italian greyhounds doing fashion commentary. I show him guinea pigs playing tug of war.

Spanish.

I’m happy with my improvement in Spanish – yesterday I had a patient who spoke only Spanish and I had the time and was able to practice on and off all day. All the important medical stuff I needed to convey or clarify, I used the translator phone, but we went through the day talking to each other with good results even though I know I sounded like a very large 18 month old. The floor’s housekeeper, who is a native Spanish speaker and tends to befriend all the Spanish speaking patients on the unit to help make sure that all their needs are met, and I and the patient were all together having a good time at one point during the day – me mostly having my Spanish gently corrected, lol. My patient and I talked all about food (lunch and dinner), bathroom, needing to walk in the hallway, asking for a new mask, whether I knew if she was going to go home that day, if I had talked to the doctor or if the doctor was coming later that day, about needing a certain piece of equipment, if she felt dizzy, hungry, thirsty. I was pleased. It’s motivation to keep going.

There are so many tips and tricks that are out there for learning a 2nd language, I keep stumbling on different approaches and trying them out. It’s fun. For example, there are people out there who take a movie in Spanish, download the entire thing to an audio/video file, cut out all the non-speaking, silent parts thereby halving the watching time, and then convert the individual sentences they don’t know to digital flashcards with words, audio and photos. Then they put out a youtube video saying – hey! this is super easy and you can do it too. I made an app/add-on/extension that you can use. (I don’t do this, this sounds like entirely too much work.)

I realized that I want to keep the vocab level low, but try pretty hard to understand the verb conjugations for the simplest and most common verbs. But they really carry so much of the meaning in the sentence. I have this problem in Chinese, I can’t properly tense my sentences and I run into obstacles all the time.

From easiest to hardest for example:

“Vamos a salir esta noche?” (let’s go out tonight?), then “iba a ir al parque pero tenía que quedarme en casa” (I was going to go to the park but I had to stay home), then fancy complicated stuff like “si estuvieras conmigo iríamos a cenar” (if you were with me, we’d go have dinner) or “si hubiera sabido lo que iban a hacer, no hubiera ido” (if I’d known what they were going to do, I wouldn’t have gone).

Biking, Lowe’s, tattoo.

Jeremy bought himself this bike “rocker plate”. It’s suppose to add a bit of real-life tilting motion to a trainer ride. Jeremy and I both try to “train” as exercise. In other words, we both try to get faster at our respective exercise choice – biking for him, running for me. In reality (at least for me), I try and I usually can put together a good six week block of training, but I often get hurt (hamstrings usually, but the toes and knees and ankles have also contributed), busy, or exhausted and don’t forget also older and menopausal, and then it stops for a bit and I have to regroup and try again. This cycle has gone on for years, so really, in trying to get faster, I’m usually pleased that even if I’ll never be as fast as I once was, I have not lost too much ground. (Note: fast is a relative term. I’m slow, lol. but it’s still way faster than I thought I’d ever be able to run.) Jeremy still wants his best performances ahead of him. I think he’s overthinking things. He collects all this data – not only the exercise data, but now all this weird recovery data – mostly heart rate variability which supposedly measures the quality of one’s recovery and I think it psyches him out. Like you wake up, you think you had a great night of sleep and the body battery says – nope, you are really not well rested. Or it says the other way around, you had a lousy night of sleep and the body battery says – you are 100%, it’s a great day to do a hard workout. Then it messes with him. Honestly, for years, I’d marvel at Jeremy’s ability to do weeks/years/seasons of hard workouts. But now it’s more uneven and he can’t quite decide then what workout to do that day. Paul is still coaching me and one of the best parts of having workouts sent to you is that I never waver on what workout I’m doing that day. It almost doesn’t matter how I feel, I just keep trying to hit the workout. Many times, I fail at the workout – I’ve had whole blocks of training where I can’t do the prescribed workout. But sometimes (many times), I surprise myself and do something I thought I couldn’t do – and it doesn’t really seem to correlate to how rested/ready/recovered I am or feel.

Jeremy made dinner for my parents and us and neighbors and caregivers. We had dinner with my parents via zoom last night. They picked up their baked ziti that Jeremy made. Usually, Lee family dinner is Friday night, but my parents asked Jeremy to make a meal so in order to have time to cook, we moved it to a non-work day. My dad will be fully vaccinated on Friday and then his gig at Lowe’s will start two weeks after that. I asked him about the interview process if he first had to submit an application online and he said that he tried to but the place where you entered your birthday stopped in the 1950s so he couldn’t apply online! He just went to the store and asked for a job. On his phone, he showed the interviewer all the renovations he’s done to numerous houses and that he knows the store like the back of his hand. He also mentioned that in the past year, he’s spent tens of thousands of dollars on materials at the shop. (It literally is his favorite store). The person who did the drug screening looked at him and said – you must be really bored at home. My dad really likes meeting people and talking to them. I have the same itch which is why I like being a nurse. We both like the initial meeting, though I think my dad is better at parties and likes telling stories about himself and I like “forced” encounters – like both volunteering for the same boy scout camping trip or I’m your nurse today (I’m not very good at parties) – and I prefer listening to your stories rather than telling you mine. I’m curious to see how they will schedule him, he said he could work anytime, anydays. Is the 6am slot most popular for workers? Or the least popular? Will he work weekends only?

We’ve spoken to a happy Vince. Things are picking up in college. Birthday parties, outings to In ‘n Out, people sleeping in each others’ beds (?!), talk about getting tattoos. (I don’t need to know about the group tattoo trip, please don’t tell me about it until much, much later. Just spend $ and get a nice tattoo if you are going to get a tattoo.) I don’t want Vince to retract from telling me these things so I refrain from asking every three minutes – so you masking? outside? distancing? Fingers crossed he doesn’t get sick. I think he’s got to make it until May or June for his vaccine. I’m not entirely sure he’s going to make it without getting sick, apparently the entire 2nd floor of his dorm rented at house at Lake Tahoe for President’s day weekend and decamped from campus for presumably a weekend of college-age debauchery which somehow doesn’t conjure up images of keeping one’s own body fluids (all of them, every last aerosolized or non-aerosolized bit) to oneself. Also, he some questions about whether he can change his engineering major to a philosophy major (don’t ask, though I think the philosophy dept (and perhaps his grandfather) would be thrilled).

We were going to take Edda to Philly for an appointment Thursday, but that didn’t happen because of the snow. Today we got the notification of her bus schedule (which is wrong, but we’ll fix it) which starts March 1st. School is starting to feel real. The teacher’s union says it has “no confidence” in the reopening of schools. Edda is in the first group of 700 students coming back – less than 1%. We’ll see.

Lowe’s

My dad, 79.5 years old and almost fully vaccinated, got a part-time job at the Lowe’s near his house. Twenty hours a week in the paint department. $17.62 an hour with 10% employee discount. I said to my friend, I guess if someone his age can be president then my dad can work in the paint department at Lowe’s. She replied, he can be president of the paint department! Lowe’s is literally my dad’s favorite store. He knows a lot about paint. I’m happy about this. I think my dad is itching to be out of the house with purpose and mom needs some alone time. And my dad is good at helping people with paint/diy/home projects. Start date is in two weeks. (Do you think Biden takes naps? I hope so. I’m only halfway there and I feel like I need to take naps now.)

Birds in the office.

Jeremy wanted a window bird feeder for Valentine’s Day. I warned him that I thought the birds would poop on the cars and seed would be all over the driveway, but his desire for cute birdies to accompany him though his long days filled with semi-stressful zoom calls outweighed my concerns and he ordered the bird feeder himself. He put it up last weekend and for days we did not see a single bird. But then I saw that all the sunflower seeds had been sheared open and thought that the birds had indeed found the feeder and that they had eaten all the “chocolate M&Ms out of the trail mix” in approximately 45 minutes and now they were down to the “hard raisin portion of the trail mix” and that he’d better refill it. He countered that they were scared to come to the window while anyone was there.

So he set up the camera which is generally used to track Edda at night to record her sleeping antics and placed it on top of a stack of children’s board books to monitor any avian activity. Now, he gets a text every time a car goes past our house. Or a neighbor walking a dog.

After a few? maybe dozens? of notifications of dogs pooping or Amazon deliveries arriving or cars trundling down the road, finally, today we got our first triumphant office bird sighting.

School.

Edda is going back to school soon. This is a big deal. I’m sure the teachers are working hard and are anxious and perhaps unhappy to be going back. Some, not all! It’s hard to distance from Edda. Actually, it’s impossible to distance from Edda. She’ll have to be fed and cleaned. She’s a max assist kiddo. I’m eternally grateful for her teachers who, this year, have carried an exponential load bringing all the kids their virtual experience and now face the going back uncertainty and tumult. It’s scary, but I hope also hopeful? Anyways, I feel like we are entering a new phase of the pandemic. I’m trying to think of ways to support them, I really like Edda’s educational team. I have since the very beginning.

Valentine’s

Happy day after Valentine’s Day, otherwise known as President’s Day. I worked at the hospital yesterday. I try to work every other Sunday (people don’t like working Sundays and that day can be short-staffed more than usual and Sunday’s can be quieter than the weekdays because people are kind of just waiting for Monday – try to not get sick on Sunday) and I mentioned to Jeremy as I was putting together this particular work schedule block that my usual Sunday would fall on Valentine’s Day and if that was OK (because I generally have full control of my nursing schedule) and he laughed and said I guess it is fair enough. Early in our marriage, Jeremy missed a number of Valentine’s Days. I think some were due to business travel, but one memorable one was when he wasn’t traveling and some head guy flew in from somewhere else and arranged a business dinner to happen on Valentine’s Day with three other guys – all of whom were husbands – and then complained that it was hard to make a dinner reservation at fancy restaurants. Yipes. I’m a poor holiday celebrator and usually scoff at holiday shenanigans, but this pandemic has made me crazy and I made valentines for my co-workers.

I bought bags of candy and grocery store chocolates and made goodie bags (I also included my favorite fancy-ish pens which I bought in bulk because no one loves a good pen more than nurses who still use pens every single day and they are surprisingly hard to find when the one you are using goes missing). I just willy-nilly started filling bags knowing that I needed to make about twenty even ones and I failed miserably and just left the detritus on the kitchen island in frustration with intentions to come back later.

But when I came back later, Jeremy had sorted all the candy in piles and determined how many of each one I could include in each goodie bag. That is true love. (He said I was driving him crazy with my method).

So this is our 25th valentine’s together and I bought this Valentine’s Day card for Jeremy. Normally, I don’t buy cards, but I wanted to buy a card for Vince and then I was standing in the Valentine’s Day card aisle feeling silly buying a card for my son and not my husband. So I picked out this one:

And I was only after I had given it to Jeremy, and he had read it and then I re-read it that I realized that it was supposed to be a card for a husband to give a wife. I swear, I swear it was tucked into the section listed as “For Husband”. Of course the better half is usually understood to be the wife and the lucky half is the husband. But I totally feel like the better half is Jeremy and the lucky half is me. OK, if you asked our friends or acquaintances, who is nicer? Jeremy or Doris? Jeremy insists that almost everyone would say that I’m nicer. And I acknowledge this: I come across as friendlier, more approachable, I probably smile way more. Jeremy can come across as more serious, aloof and probably (who am I kidding? absolutely) more pretentious. But I will tell you, Jeremy is the nicer, more generous, optimistic and kinder one. With me, it is only with Jeremy’s example that I’ve learned all my skills with kindness, generosity, openness. He’s allowed me to grow into my own true self. With him, it is all there – the goodness is inherent in his person. With me, I am a more insecure person and therefore, I had to learn to overcome my feelings of insecurity which include pessimism, shame, envy, jealousy, selfishness and competitiveness. I’m the lucky half because without Jeremy I could not have become the person I am today and I’m happy with myself. He encourages me in all my endeavors. When I was learning to be a nurse full time and my schedule was unpredictable and he was traveling for his work at least once or twice a month, he cancelled all but his most necessary travel for almost a full year to accommodate this endeavor to be there for both me and for the kids. Did I have to nurse full time? No, but I wanted to and Jeremy was there to help me out. Jeremy feeds me everyday, he makes sure I’m OK everyday, heck, he wakes up with me before every nursing shift (5:30 am) to make me a lunch – even on the every other Sunday. A shout out to both sets of parents who, between them, have over a century of married life and who set fine examples of affectionate and collaborative marriages.

And we both went to the grocery store (separately) and picked out the exact same gift for each other from the seasonal candy aisle. Aisle is a hard word to spell.