February 2007

We came home last week to find that we didn’t have any water available from any of the taps. Susan spotted a water district truck in font of our house and found out that there was a water main break down the street and they wouldn’t have the water on until the next morning. At first we freaked out because 4 potty trained people and one bathroom is hard enough when you can actually flush the toilets. But then we remembered all that water I’ve been storing for the big earthquake. Problem averted (assuming the water came back on, which it did).

water storage in juice containtersHere’s my setup. After a juice container is finished I wash it out really well and let it dry (microorganisms generally can’t survive on dry surfaces). Then I fill it with water and store it in this cabinet above the refrigerator. It’s insanely deep, so the back part is useless except for stuff you never want to use. I’ve heard that behind your coach is also a good spot but ours isn’t against the wall.

The only trick is to remember to change out the water every so often. I have been marking mine with a number 1-12 corresponding to the month I filled it, but of course, I forget every other month to dump/refill them. I think I’m going to switch to all summer months since the garden needs more water then and it will give me less times I need to remember to do it.

Storing water for a (potty) emergency works for me.


I’ve always wondered what I would answer if I were ever became a famous actor, made it onto Inside the Actors Studio, and had to answer the question, “What is the one profession you would not want to do?” After this weekend, I think I know my answer: tile layer.

The first layer of stick on linoleum came up no problem (15 minutes work, tops). I didn’t think to take a picture until it was already in the trash (easy tasks don’t make good blog entries):

first layer of tiles in the trash

Unfortunately, there was a second layer underneath the first. I should have figured this wasn’t going to be easy; the second layer didn’t come up as easy as the first. I fact each 1ft square broke into about 144 pieces as I scraped it up. Here’s what it looked like towards the end after a few hours of scraping.

2nd layer of tiles broken up

Finally I was able to go rent the tile saw and cut all the pieces.  I’ve never been so happy to have such a small bathroom.  I’m not a total perfectionist, but it seems like there’s always a little more you can cut (especially on the curved parts). Finally at 10 minutes to midnight I laid the last tile. Here it is with the blue spacers still in their spots:

tiles layed no grout

Yordie seems pleased (the next morning when she saw it, don’t worry we don’t keep them up till midnight):

yordie likes it

When I woke up on Sunday, boy was I sore. But the grout still had to be done, so another few hours on my hands and knees. The final product looks pretty good (new baseboard needs to be put down, but that will have to wait for another weekend):

tiles finished with grout

But man am I sore. I could barely walk when I woke up on Monday. All day at work I was walking around like I just got off a horse.  Today is a little better, but getting up and down out of chairs is a real problem still.

I’m not sure the couple hundred dollars we saved was worth giving up a weekend of playing with the kids. Of course, we don’t have the money to pay someone right now, so if I hadn’t done it, it wouldn’t have been done for a few months.  But I don’t know, I think the wait might have been worth it unless my legs get back to full functioning in a day or two.

The thing I like most about doing the girls hair is how the learning curve is so steep. Your first attempt at a new style is usually so poor that you can’t even take them out in public, by the 3rd or 4th attempt you’re usually at tolerable state, and by the 6th or 7th, you’re usually pretty proud of your work. I don’t know, maybe it’s all my superfluous schooling, but I really like something that you can master in such a short time.

Here’s my first attempt at flat twists:

right side flat twists hairfront flat twists hairleft side flat twists hair

You can actually see the learning curve with the different twists. Can you figure out which was my first one and which was my last? The answer and a few tips under the fold.

This is my weekly column where I tell you what I thought was interesting on the internet this week and you fail to actually click on any of them (OK some of you click on them, but I think I’m not selling them well enough since the click through rate is rather low. That, or maybe you all just read the same websites that I do). Anyway here it is, in no particular order:

  • Instacalc has a whole bunch of built in calculators. From sallery to BMI, if you’re trying to find a formula, this one will not only give it to you, but just fill in your numbers and it will give you the answers. Of course you can always make your own formulas. It even understads words (ie 1 billion works as well as 1,000,000,000 (hat tip lifehacker).
  • Assuming all my ramblings about firefox haven’t convince you to switch, here’s yet another reason to love firefox. If you love the auto suggestion when you type in a web page or in a text box, but there’s one (or 5) in there that you never use (perhaps they were typos), you can get rid of them by hitting shift-delete after selecting it. Now go delete ontheflt.wordpress.com from your suggestions window.
  • Here’s a video of Melisa Fay Greene talking about the Ethiopian orphan crisis (hat tip Ethiopian Adoption Blog).
  • Apparently denture cleaning tablets are great for cleaning all kids of stuff. And they’re cheap. Who knew?

Thats it. Maybe it was the “vacation” day on Monday. Or maybe I just forgot to tag something worth reading, but all I’ve got is 4 this week. Now you’ve got extra time to go install Firefox (or just hang out with your kids).

Oh I nearly forgot. I got blamed for an entire post on be a good dad and have a guest post about San Diego Traffic on The San Diego Beat almost doubling the number of blogs that link here. I can just see the google search traffic heading my way.

Sorry I did not post last week that thing called work got in the way. This  past Monday was President’s Day, which meant that the kids and I were off from school and work.  A few weeks ago I had called our dentist, who has been my dentist since I was a child, to schedule dental appointments for the two older kids, Brian and myself.  He told me to come on President’s Day, and we will do a dental marathon of teeth cleaning.  

When Monday came it was pouring rain.  The whole back yard was flooded, and the poor dogs did not want to have to stay in the cold garage, while we went to the dentist appointment.  I felt bad for them.  I was also already tired at lunch time from the rainy weather, and the three kids were stir crazy having to be in the house all day.    We live in San Diego, so they are not used to this weather.  After lunch I had to give Estifanos 4 teaspoons of antibiotics, so he could get his teeth cleaned due to his heart condition.  I was a little worried because it looked like alot of medication.  He thought the pink medicine tasted good thankfully.

I was going to drive our minivan for only the second time ever.  I normally drive my jeep beecause that van just seems so big, but Brian had taken the jeep to work since I had all three kids.   I piled the three kids, rain soaked by this point on the trip from the house to the car into the van.  The kids were making fun of me because I would try to turn on the windshield wipers and the windows would go down.  I hate driving a newish car in the rain.  I had to teach myself where the defroster and lights and other gadgets were located.

 I drove slowly the few miles to my parents’ house to drop off the baby.  She was asleep when we go to my parents, so I had to move her in the rain.  That is never a fun task.  We  then slowly drove the 25 minute trip to the dentist.  The kids kept wanting to talk, and I kept saying “Mommy needs to pay attention to her driving.  Can this wait until we get to the dentist?”

We finally got to the dentist, and met Brian there.  I thought finally relief.  The fun then just started as we tried to keep a 4 and 5 year old entertained at the dentist office for 2 1/2 hours.  Estifanos kept trying to go back in the medical area with toy cars, and Meron kept rolling around on the floor. 

Meron wanted to go in and see Dave, our dentist completely on her own.  She was excited because he took xrays of her mouth, and determined that she should start losing her baby teeth in about a year.  She wiggles them every night, so hopefully that will speed up the process.    As the dental assistant took xrays of her teeth the machine was not working properly.  Meron told her,  “My Daddy can fix it. He makes everything work.”  She also tried to keep the glasses that they give you to wear during the teeth cleaning.  We had to explain to her that they have to be recycled. 

Estifanos on the other hand had been extremely excited to see the denist in the morning, but once we were there he reported, “I am not going back there by myself.”  He wanted his dad to accompany him for protection.

At the end of the day the three kids had new tooth brushes that they were proud of,  and all four of us had clean teeth.  The receptionist at the dentist office had asked me if I had been able to relax at all on my day off.  I simply said, “Just another day with my three kiddos, but I love being home with them.” 

One year ago today we got our referral. I actually posted this in multiple places on the internet before I had this blog, but in case you haven’t seen it (or want to relive it with me), here’s what happened a year ago today:

I’m at home for the morning scraping grout in the bathroom, babysitting the carpet installers (can you tell we’re getting ready for kids), when then phone rings. I walk down to the other end of the house to get the phone. The caller ID has some number I don’t recognize and I contemplate letting
the answering machine get it since I didn’t really feel like talking to a telemarketer. I’m expecting WHFC to call on my cell phone, so I don’t think it is them (I guess it would have been helpful to know their area code), but for some reason I pick it up.

Sarah-“Hello is Brian or Susan there?”
Me thinking-Ahh, it must be WHFC, what telemarketer knows both our first names.

S-“This is Sarah from WHFC calling on behalf of MaryAnn”
M-Ahh, that’s why they called the house; our normal inter-agency social worker is traveling this week.

S-“Do you have time to talk”
M-Are you kidding? My house could be on fire right now and I’d still talk to you.

S-“I have some good news”
M-Well get on with it. I swear I felt like these four interactions took like 5 minutes.

S-“Do you have a pen?”
M-Ummm yeah…I had a pen out when you said WHFC!!!

Then she told us their names and birth dates. My hand was shaking so much that I messed up one of their names (didn’t quite get the hook on a “f”) so I thought it was a “t”). Then she said they’d be sending a FedEx package, which should get here today, with the rest of the information.

Then I realize that Susan’s is 1 hour into her 4 hour social work licensing exam. (Ironically, Susan said that morning that we were going to get a referral since it’s probably one of the only times she would be unavailable.) I contemplate going and telling the installation guys, but I just don’t think they will be very excited. So I call my mom, who’s not in her office. Call Susan’s mom who isn’t home. Call my Dad, who is home. Mom calls me back. Finish with the carpet guys. Realize where my MIL is
(on campus where I work). Stop by to see her before going into the lab. Susan calls hours later.

Susan passed her test. I still had the better news for the day. The carpet looks great BTW. I didn’t finish the grout removal needless to say.

As is tradition, here’s 100 things about me.  I tried to make it meaty, thus the lack of posts yesterday when I realized that I was up to 99 already since I didn’t have time to finish it. Anyway, enjoy:

  1. I was born in Richmond, CA.
  2. The hospital isn’t there anymore.
  3. I was delivered C-section.
  4. My head was too big to fit through the exit.
  5. I came out with a full head of hair.
  6. I had to have my first haircut before my 1st birthday.
  7. The only person my parents could find that was willing to cut my hair was the family barber near my grandmother’s house.
  8. People thought I was retarded (this was before it was PC to say developmentally delayed) because my hair made me look much older than I was.
  9. I went to El Sobrante Elementary. (yes, El Sobrante means the leftovers; it was(is?) an unincorporated part of the county.
  10. I went to Juan Crespi Junior High (JC was a Spanish missionary and explorer in the Southwest)
  11. I went to De Anza Hight School (I think it was named after the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza since our mascot was the “Don”).
  12. My high school was in Richmond.
  13. I lived in Richmond at the time.
  14. There was no way to drive from my house to my school without going through El Sobrante (sans off roading through people’s back yards).
  15. I love how California politicians drew the boundaries solely for their benefit.
  16. Our school district declared bankruptcy when I was in high school.
  17. My senior year I was the student representative to the school board.
  18. I got quoted in the newspaper, “This is like putting a band-aid on cancer,” regarding them not allowing students off campus during lunch.
  19. I was one of the speakers at my high school graduation.
  20. I went to UC Davis for my undergraduate.
  21. I majored in Genetics.
  22. I rowed on the crew all 4 years.
  23. I was in the lightweight boat meaning I had to weigh less than 160 lbs.
  24. That wasn’t a problem until my senior year.
  25. One race I had to loose 8 lbs before weigh-ins.
  26. It was surprisingly easy.
  27. I gained it back within minutes of stepping off the scale since it was all water/food weight.
  28. I met my wife, Susan, while we were at UC Davis.
  29. We went on a housebuilding trip to Tijuana, Mexico.
  30. We became good friends.
  31. We didn’t start dating till the following year.
  32. We first kissed on the last night of the 2nd trip to build houses.
  33. I believe it was New Year’s Eve.
  34. It’s possible I just imagined the fireworks after kissing her.
  35. I’m terrified I’m getting the details wrong.
  36. I think Susan will be very upset if I didn’t remember it right even though it was 10 years ago.
  37. We dated for 8 months until I had to leave for grad school.
  38. I went to Chicago by myself since she’s a year younger than me.
  39. I lived in a studio apartment 3 blocks from the edge of campus.
  40. I learned that 3 blocks is still a really long ways in the freezing cold.
  41. During the 7 years I lived there, I was always the first one in my lab to break out the winter coat and the last one to put it away.
  42. I am a Californian at heart.
  43. But I would love to live in Chicago; I think it’s a great town.
  44. I wish it was in California.
  45. And that at least one set of grandparents lived there.
  46. If those were true, we’d probably live there now.
  47. Susan moved to Chicago after my first year of grad school.
  48. I don’t think she really knew what she was getting into.
  49. We wouldn’t be able to move back for another 6 years.
  50. But she did get a husband half way through the stay, so I think the sacrifice was worth it.
  51. Grad school was great.
  52. Grad school sucked.
  53. Grad school made me love science.
  54. Grad school made me hate doing science.
  55. I have trouble rectifying #51-54.
  56. My dissertation was on the role of the breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA1, in the repair of DNA damage.
  57. I sometimes have a hard time explaining what I do in the lab to non-scientist.
  58. I find it difficult to give people enough information to keep them interested, but not enough to bore them.
  59. My mother addresses mail to me as Dr. Brian.
  60. She’s one of the only people who address me that way.
  61. The others are usually junk mail from biotech companies trying to get me to buy stuff for the lab.
  62. They usually address everyone that way so as to not offend anyone.
  63. I think it’s hilarious when an undergrad/graduate student gets their first junk mail addressing them as Dr. XXXX from one of these companies; they act like they hit the lottery.
  64. I probably acted the same way.
  65. I didn’t go to my PhD graduation.
  66. I defended my thesis and we got on a plane the next day for California.
  67. Susan was already living here.
  68. Our lease was running out and we didn’t want to sign another year lease since it wasn’t going to take that long to finish my research.
  69. So we bought a house and we moved to San Diego.
  70. I flew back and lived in a friend’s spare bedroom while I finished my research.
  71. We lived apart for about 2 months (can you see why #52 is true).
  72. I started my post-doc the Monday after we got back from Chicago.
  73. We stated the adoption process a few months later.
  74. We picked the wrong country/agency.
  75. It seemed like a good choice at the time.
  76. Our I-600A expired we waited so long.
  77. While it sucked at the time, I wouldn’t change a thing since we wouldn’t have ended up with our kids if we had picked Ethiopia in the first place.
  78. Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of getting the referral of our kids.
  79. I’m kind of surprised my whole life can be summed up in 78 statements.
  80. I guess I skipped the last year, but most of it is in the archives of this blog if you’d like to read.
  81. I love being a dad.
  82. It’s an insane amount of work, but worth every minute of the effort.
  83. My favorite colors are green and blue.
  84. I really like spicy foods.
  85. I once went to this creole restaurant and ordered a dish called “Hot as a mutha”.
  86. It was actually hotter than a mutha ‘cuz I couldn’t eat it.
  87. I like being able to wear jeans and a t-shirt to work.
  88. <<I left this spot intentionally blank for no good reason>>
  89. I am obsessed with my blog stats.
  90. I check them 5 times a day.
  91. I wouldn’t write this blog if no one read it.
  92. Writing isn’t therapeutic for me.
  93. But I enjoy entertaining/enlightening people immensely.
  94. I wish there were a feedback mechanisms so that I could hear you all laugh at my witty jokes.
  95. I really hope you laugh at at least some of my jokes.
  96. I started this post after my 10th post, figuring it would take a while to come up with 100.
  97. My first hit to this blog from a search engine was for “Ethiopian adoptions”
  98. The weirdest hit was from “spells to make you fly for kids.”
  99. I get a lot of elder abuse search engine traffic too for my post about wrestling with my kids.
  100. This is actually the 109th post on this blog, but it’s my 100th.

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