OK, only 8 more shifts until I go part time. This weekend was particularly bad. Don’t ever, ever, never get sick on a beautiful spring/summer weekend. The patient load remains the same, but all the workers call out and everyone is working short. Pharmacy runs behind and no one answers your call. ICU calls for a transfer and pleads for you to take the patient because they are overflowing and short-staff as well. At least on my unit, if we are short, you might have to sit in your own poop for a long time before someone comes to help you out, but if the ICU is short, it means that your ventilator isn’t being a carefully monitored as you might need/want it to be. I pride myself on being a good, fast worker, efficient, friendly, easy to get along with and I’m completely gobsmacked and flattened at 7:45pm when I’ve finally transferred my patients to the night shift nurse and I can gather my wits about myself. This was the week of nursing skills – sometime I can go a long time without doing the following things, but this week I did it all – NG tubes, wound vacs, dressing changes, Foleys, hanging blood, heparin drips, enemas, argh. Before I became a nurse, you have this feeling – huh? nurses just give out a bunch of pills and follow orders, how hard can it possibly be? OK. I need to stop complaining.

Jeremy went backpacking with the scouts this weekend gone from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. I missed him terribly because I was at the hospital all day on Saturday and came home to a house with a sleeping Edda and Eliana to say hello to and which is fine, everything is fine. But I realized that I can only take care of people all day and then I need to be taken care of for at least a little bit of time before I can do it all again. When I come home – usually Jeremy is there waiting with a plate of warmed dinner and a hug.

Jeremy said the camping went relatively well. Everyone should be able to handle the hiking at Philmont. There was a downpour on Saturday night and the boys kinda forgot to pack enough tents (long story) and a bunch of them got soaking wet.

Spray can cheese, bike to work day, backpacking.

F you self-hosted WordPress. I do not want to own my own website. I do not want to think about updating my WordPress to prevent malware attacks on my website.

I took Max to the vet today. She is not fat. I’m glad she isn’t fat, but the vet spent five minutes explaining how she isn’t fat which I thought was a little too much time explaining that – yes, everything is normal. After the vet told me she wasn’t fat, he proceeded to give her some spray can cheese which Max (to my knowledge) has never had and she was completely fascinated by it. There is a little scale that has visual cues about how thin/fat your pet is that the vet gave me printed out on a nice sheet of paper. She’s just like me – a little high on the normal weight scale. Always kind of wishing to lose 3-5 pounds. She does not have heartworms. I hope to not see the vet for another year.

Maxi loves the vet. Mostly. Unless she’s completely terrified.

Jeremy worked from home today, but today was bike to work day. So he biked to the Rockville Bike to Work Day celebration by the Rockville Metro. He added one more t-shirt to the pile of Bike to Work Day t-shirts we have.

A picture of Jeremy and Mark (they sometimes get mixed up with each other because they both ride their bicycles extensively around Rockville) and other cheerful bike people that I don’t know.

Jeremy and Vince are going backpacking this weekend (in Pennsylvania) to train for Philmont and I’m at the hospital this weekend. Which makes it extra tricky regarding Edda. Eliana is going to stay the weekend and look after Edda, I have to (after this) set up the guest bedroom before I go to bed. Because Jeremy was working from home today and we aren’t going to see each other all weekend, we took a mid-day date to each at A&Js and then to Giant to buy supplies for the campout. The kids all plan and cook for themselves and then the adults usually appoint a person to plan the grown-up meal. But the last time turned out terribly because the person in charge of bringing the meals is just accustomed to eating about 50% of the calories of a normal person. So the grown ups on that trip might have ended up eating something like a rice cake with a slather of peanut butter and a slice of cheddar cheese for dinner. Everyone was unhappy (except perhaps the food bringer). Anyways, Jeremy needed to pick up some essentials to fuel his journey.

Picking out chicken in a pouch. Who knew there was such a thing?

Bike, Hershey and Bard.

Sorry, long time no post. I’m still working at reclaiming my time – to be its master and not the other way around. I have about 10 shifts to go and I’m counting each of them down.

On Friday, Jeremy left to head up to Bard. Bob and Katherine are leaving Bard in a few months and as the school year ends the farewell festivities and moving logistics are keeping us occupied for a few long weekends. This past weekend, the Bard Conservatory orchestra held its final grand performance of the year and there was a party in Bob’s honor afterwards. This was on Sunday night which meant that we wouldn’t return until late Monday afternoon.

I worked on Friday and the kids went to school as well while Jeremy drove up to Bard with his bicycle and Maxi who was thrilled to be included on this trip. On Saturday morning, Jeremy raced the same race he did last year the Tour of the Battenkill and he performed exactly the same as he did last year. I think over the course of a 4 hour race, he was faster by 30 seconds. This was disappointing to him as he believes he’s in better shape than he was last year, but the kicker is that last year, he was on a course of steroids for a recurrence of Bell’s Palsy. Oh well, what can you do?

At the start and not yet knowing he was going to have the exact same race as last year.

Saturday night, the concerts began:

I wasn’t at this concert, so I don’t know what to write about it.

So why didn’t all of us head up on Friday? Well we could have pulled the kids out of school on Friday and do the whole trip together, but Vince really wanted to go to Hershey Park with his scout troop. It’s just as well because the kids didn’t miss too much of school and I got a full work day in on Friday. Vince headed to Hershey Park early Sat am and Edda and I followed about 5 hours later. We had lunch at the Wegman’s in Frederick and browsed for an hour at a used book store.

At Wonder books. Edda’s wheelchair didn’t fit in the narrow aisles, so I had her hang out at the end of the rows where she alternately laughed and napped.

I booked a Days Inn hotel in Hershey which was convenient and Vince got dropped off there at about 8 pm. The hotel did smell mildly like chocolate, but that’s fine.

I don’t know what happened, but I slept like a rock at the Days Inn. Maybe I should sleep with Edda more often.
Vince got his own bed.

On Sunday, Mother’s Day, we got up early and headed to Bard. I was slightly miffed at spending Mother’s Day morning in the car driving because driving is one of my least favorite activities, but it was not bad having my children trapped in the car with me. Vince and I interleaved songs on spotify which was fun. I did get Mother’s Day brunch when I arrived at Bard which was delicious.

Edda and I decided to not go to the concert – the one at the Fisher Center with two harps, timani and a children’s choir. But everyone else went, including Vince (I was surprised!)

Vince with Jasper and Seth.
The orchestra in it’s full glory. 94 minutes of music with no intermission!

And finally, the after party at Leon’s house.

It was cold. I was wearing jeans under my spring dress.
Speeches in Bob’s honor.

And finally we said goodbye. Jeremy will be up again Memorial Day weekend and then a full week in June to help with moving. I don’t think I’ll see Bob and Katherine until summer of 2020 when we are trying to plan a trip to Europe before Vince heads to college.

We are saying goodbye to the house at Bard!
Goodbye Rives Cottage – it’s been great!

Bike, Max, Emy, Pip & Kiki

Max, Jeremy, bike & minivan.

Jeremy left this morning to head up to Bard. He’s planning to do a bike race tomorrow morning. He took Maxi with him which is a good thing because we got the carpets shampooed for the first time in a decade and it means that it’ll be at least 48 hours before someone (or somedog) pees on the upstairs carpet.

Hanging out with Emy.
Kiki, Pip & Max

Hat trick

I almost did a “hat trick” or “grand slam” or whatever sports analogy I can’t come up with right on Tuesday which was to flip my whole team. My “team” is my group of 4-6 patients. It’s an easier day when no one is discharged or admitted, it’s harder when people come and go because there is a lot more paperwork/explaining etc. Usually only one or two leave and then one comes in on a shift. But halfway on Tuesday I realized I could have everyone leave and then have the beds fill again, it was kind of like a game of endurance and stamina and grit. I discharged 4 patients and got three in, and I could have done the 4th who rolled in at 6:50 pm- ten minutes before my shift ended but for some meddling by my charge nurse who thought he was being helpful by holding back the admission for night shift, but really was messing up my plan of pulling off this feat. Anyways, it was fun in a totally Type II kind of way. I usually average 5-6 miles a day at the hospital, but that day was 9 miles. And I did not feel like crying at any moment during that day.

Most of my patients are very nice and a breeze to work with. Some of my patients are annoying and know that they are annoying or are annoyed because they are sick/in pain or whatever – those people are fine too. The people that are the hardest to deal with are the annoying ones who think that they nice. OMG, they think they are totally being a reasonable person, but they are not. Whenever I work with them, I think – you must be a very difficult person to live with. I’m glad I’m not living with you.

Nurses’ Week, Junior Year, Biking to Singapore.

Happy Nurses Week! I could get all snarky here about how they are rewarding us at work with carts of M&Ms & pringles (take only one please!) while having us worked understaffed, but I will set that aside. Actually, the president of the hospital walked around our unit on Sunday morning at 9:30 am and I think he went around generally unrecognized (a coworker was wondering why is this unfamiliar doctor walking around wishing everyone Happy Nurses Week!?) but since I’d been to orientation recently, I recognized him and gave a hearty hello and he thanked me for my work and he asked if there was anything he could do for me and I made some quip about having him take care of my patients today and he said he’d be ready to do that if I take over the admin of the hospital and we laughed. I told this story to Jeremy when I got home and he said – you didn’t say something about being paid more or working understaffed or having predictable schedules or any labor issues? I sighed and I said I was not ready to take that on at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. I’m lame, I know. The main thing I want to say about Happy Nurses Week is that I’m going part time at the end of the month and will essentially control my schedule from here on out – I made it 10 months full time with a huge logistical strain to the family and my own other interests – though nursing is a big interest of mine, so it was front and center for the whole family for 10 months. I’m still learning so much every day at the hospital, I find it challenging in all the ways I expected to to challenge me and I do find it rewarding even though it involves a lot of poop. I also often feel like I should quit because it overwhelming all the time. I thought when I started and knew I wanted to go part time, I’d drop to a day a week, but now I’m loyal to my unit (I have a good, kind boss and very good charge nurses) and I know that I’d need to practice more than that to keep it up and anyways, you need to kind of work two days a week to see how patient care is resolved or not resolved. We’ll see how it meshes with the family’s schedule. I am always baseline tired, I feel like I’m never fully recovered from work, but I’m happy (generally).

There was this article in the NYTimes about how husbands think that they are stepping up to do half the family work, but they really aren’t doing half of the work, but I want to say that Jeremy did so much work to make this whole thing possible for me. Almost all the logistics with child care and coordination for the kids, so much cooking and packing lunches and switching out pee stained clothes from Edda’s backpack and making sure school had diapers and all the things. Jeremy packs my lunch for me so when I need to leave the house at 6 am, it is possible for me to sleep until 5:45 am. And he usually cooks dinner and cleans up the whole kitchen afterwards. He did this all while managing his own tough situations at his work which at times were bad enough that he wasn’t sleeping well at night. I also am grateful to myself to care less about things. They mention in the article about women caring more about things like laundry or homework or whatever and I gave up caring a long time ago. First of all, Jeremy cares about laundry as much as I do. I will tell you I’ve left Vince’s laundry unwashed for six months when I thought he was old enough to do it himself. I stopped caring (it’s not actually that I stopped caring) so much about Vince’s homework. I did not sign up to access his grades. I do not know how he is doing moment by moment in his classes. I actually thought long and hard about his homework and college stuff and various other things like getting permission slips done in time or whatever and I decided that it was his job to do all that and if he needed anything that he’d have to find me. He’s old enough, it’s his job to figure that stuff out. And I forced myself to do that by being away from the house more. I thought it was more important to show him how I was pursuing the things I wanted to do and how the family (mostly Jeremy) accommodated that pursuit and less important for him to be forced to master all the details of AP physics which is what I would have made him to do if I had even one moment of spare time his whole junior year. No SAT boot camps, no college counselors which are rampant in the neighborhood. I want to say, I was only willing to do this because I know in the depths of my heart that Vince is a good kid and will be fine. I can’t say I would have parented a different child the same way. I can’t say I did it the best way, because who knows how it all will turn out. And it’s not to say I don’t get periodically anxious about it and fret about imaginged lost opportunities. He’s not doing school the way I would do school, but he also knows that I’m not parenting the way lots of other parents are parenting. He has friends that run the whole gamut from the ones gunning for Stanford/Harvard to the ones that are failing out and their parents are threatening them with boarding school. He can see how much they work and he can see how much their parents are or are not pushing them. Ah Vince! You are making it through your junior year, I’m so happy for you. Just a few AP tests and finals to go. And I’m also at peace with Edda and her own school situation. Could I be more involved? Insist on more things? Take on more of her care? I suppose so. I did very, very little of the hands-on-care for Edda this past year. I’m ok with that for now. I like the school and mainly I know what I wish for the most I can’t have.

Last Friday night at the Shake Shack.

May brings not only May Day (International Worker’s Day) and May 4th (Star Wars Day) but also Bike to Work Month. OMG it’s like May 6th and Jeremy’s already ridden something like 185 miles to work. I asked if it was included in the rules that you could take the “long way” to work and he said that the rules explicitly states that you can take the long way as long as you start from the house and end at work and then start your work day. This has resulted in a 75 mile ride to work last week. He has figured out that he has ridden about 18,000 miles on his bikes and this means that he has ridden a bike from here to Singapore and back. My husband is crazy.

The damage on his poor carbon fiber bike. He saved years of birthday money and Christmas money for this. It got damaged on our LA trip, not from the flights, but from falling over to the ground after leaning it up against a chair.
I’ve figured out how to get photos from both Jeremy’s phone and my phone onto my google photos account. This results in a lot of bike photos.

Peloton, Rory and ice cream.

Jeremy did make it home on Sunday morning from Chicago at about 9:15 am, snow be damned (there ended up being no snow in Chicago – but all flights out on Sat night were canceled). It meant that he could stay for entire 50th anniversary party of UCS in Chicago on Saturday night instead of just showing up for an hour and then high-tailing it to the Chicago airport. And it also meant that he could try out the Peloton bike at the fancy hotel gym. I don’t know exactly how this is happening, but even though I’m working a crap ton and he’s taking on so much of the house logistics, he is managing to get into great biking shape. My workouts are basic and I have set low, low bar expectations (my bar is slow low that it’s laying? lying? lieing? (where is Vickey – my grammar guru?) on the floor) and I’m watching my fitness ebb away out of my perimenopausal body as I knew it would when I started working so much, Jeremy is like – I set at PR on Strava! I’m going to bike 70 miles today! I’m going to climb up this enormous mountain! Twice! We’ve tried various in-person cycle classes, but he’d never tried Peloton. The verdict was that it was just a fine workout, but not his thing. This particular instructor squeezed in-between intervals his struggles with alcoholism which isn’t really Jeremy’s thing. Jeremy just wants to ride fast – he’s not into the personal narrative. He’ll stick with Zwift.

Buff Peloton instructor – whhaaa?

Vince came home from an orienteering campout this weekend and we went to the final meeting for the kids that went on the China trip. As Vince grows up, I get so much pleasure from small things that surprise me! I love that he lets us sit with his friends and that Edda joins in at the table and we get to participate in the conversation. Everyone had Chinese food and bubble tea and we saw a slide show. The slide show was set to the song Africa from Toto and I was like – I think my own high school slideshow was set to the same song. Jeremy confirmed that the song was released in 1982.

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do

Lauren, Molly and Rory came by to try out Edda’s old wheelchair. Molly fits into it pretty well, she’s a bit smaller than Edda and this is a few inches narrower than Edda’s present wheelchair as Edda has outgrown it. They have a big wheelchair that’s perfect for school/bus, but they need a smaller one that can fit into the car when they run errands. Rory played the game of Life! with me and he beat me, yet again.

Rory pumping up Molly’s new wheels.

Our ice cream desires where thwarted when the ice cream line was too long.

Line is too long at Carmen’s

China, Denise, Chicago

My parents with Vince and our exchange student Irving in the library of my mother’s high school on Chong Ming island near Shanghai.

Miss a few blogging days and life just keeps tumbling forward. I’m going to try out this new blogging platform (WordPress.org) and see how it works. I’m paying for hosting and I’m going to start having the photos directly imported into the website. So much trouble. I was in such a despair over this (and other things) yesterday that I actually went to the gym and started my workout and then I gave up on it and went to McDonald’s. I think it’s been years since I’ve done that.

Vince giving the class speech at Chongming High School.

Vince’s trip to China was amazing and fun. Unlike his summer trip to language camp a few years ago, this trip was pure American tourism. At summer camp, he was expected to explore the city and talk to the residents and manage more things on his own. This school-arranged trip was run in the standard tour group way – a lot of things to do, regimented to the half-hour and relatively isolated from the non-tourist population. He did not need to access from the dusty recesses of his brain various Chinese phrases, he did not need to tone down his American-ness. He emphasised to me when he got home, I did all the proper tourist behaviors and it was so much fun!

Dancing on the Great Wall.
Freaking out at the Oriental Pearl Tower – Shanghai.
Group photo at the Great Wall.

After we came home from LA and Vince came home from China, we welcomed Denise for a few days. Denise was our au pair from 2011. It was really wonderful to see her. I forget how much has changed since she’s left. Of course, Ruby is gone and the kids are grown. She said she would not have recognized Vince if he was walking past her in a store.

Denise and Edda at the Woodley Gardens park.

I worked at the hospital on Tues and Wed – a tough shift on Tues, a better one on Wed. Often – so often – at 4pm on a tough shift day, I’m like what the hell am I actually doing? I am stupid, stupid, stupid. I could be home eating a bag of Doritos and watching some excellent Netflix. I can not possibly keep doing this. But I inexplicably keep going. Last week, I had a shift where none of my patients spoke English. It was Spanish, Vietnamese and French Creole. Chinese is surprisingly unhelpful at my job. Almost all the other Asian languages seem to be ahead.

On Thursday, Jeremy and I had a date night. A date night meaning a day that we would have dinner together at home. Actually, for our date night, we had the kids and Edda’s caregiver, Kitachi, and then I invited Brian and Ning and baby Noah over for dinner as well – so I’m not sure how much of a date night it was. But actually, after dinner, Jeremy and I cleaned the kitchen together and talked for an hour! A whole hour! By ourselves. That was so nice – hardly happens that much these days. I need to change that.

And then on Friday, Jeremy flew to Chicago. He was suppose to fly home tonight. Until I got this text from him this morning:

All flights home tonight are cancelled, I hope to see him Sunday.