Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our Christmas Letter

Hi Friends -
I sent out Christmas cards to some of you, and some got this little letter. Since it was expensive to print two cards, not everyone got this letter - so here it is digitally. Enjoy :) - Emily

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 New Year's Resolutions Recap

I know this is a little early, folks, but I had the time tonight to write it up so here it is - I'll still wait to post my new ones, mostly because I'm still thinking about them :)

1) Build my own computer
I did this! Ryan and I did it in June. Could not have done it without his help researching the parts. I'm very happy with it, and hope to build more and learn more about it as time goes along.

2) Cook 12 dishes from non-US countries
Here is what I made: 1) Bahn Mis 2)Russian Kulebyaka 3) Hungarian Kiffles 4) Swiss Rosti 5) English Pea Salad 6) Morroccan Shakshuka 7) Beouf Borgionon 8) Etagere Dagenueu 9) Eggplant Curry 10) Morroccan Chicken Peanut Stew 11) Pad Thai 12) Spaghetti Carbonara

I technically accomplished this one. It wasn't quite as adventurous by the end, but I DID get some new staples in my regular rotation of dinners, and I learned that the trick to good cooking is mixing and matching ingredients and spices. Many of the dishes had the same core pantry staples - it just depended on how I paired/spiced them to make them taste "international".

3) Reduce my running time to a 12 minute mile, sustained for 3 miles
Yes, I've done this one, a few times now. Still feels like a stretch, but I can do it without feeling like I'm dying. I also ran a 10K, and I am now able to go 20 on our exercise bike in 70 minutes. I set a lot of intermediary exercise goals, and while I'm still slow, I'm pleased that this has been a persistent thing over the past few years.

4) Read one non-fiction book every month (on average)
I added that bit in parenthesis because this was quite hard at the start of the year. And I mostly read fictionalized non-fiction (aka memoirs). But I enjoyed it and I did it and I can do better as I go. Here's the list: Fresh Off the Boat and Double Cup Love (both by Eddie Huang), Cinderella Ate My Daughter (Peggy Orenstein), Pretty Good Number One (Matthew Burton), Why Not Me? (Mindy Kaling), Mastering the Art of French Eating (Ann Mah), You're never weird on the internet - almost (Felicia Day), My Grape Year, My Grape Wedding, My Grape Escape and My Grape Village (Laura Bradbury, and I'm counting those as one because they were so fun and easy to read), A Zany Slice of Italy and A Zany Slice of Tuscany ( Ivanka De Felice), The Magnolia Story (Chip and Joanna Gaines), Wild (Cheryl Strayed) and Food: A Love Story (Jim Gaffigan, which I am technically still finishing). 

5) Grow My Own Veggies
Technically, I did this. I grew tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. They were little baby plants, but I was able to make Ryan an omelette with them, so I am pretty happy with that. 

6) Make a Project Linus Blanket (subtext - learn to knit)
I did this!! I was SO proud of myself and have knit a few other things this year, including a baby hat for my cousin's newborn, a scarf for Ryan, and a kindle case for myself. 

7) Learn about car maintenance - specifically how to do my own oil changes
8) Listen to more podcasts while running
9) Make pasta from scratch
I didn't do these three. But the director of APL says that you shouldn't be able to attain all your goals - it means you weren't reaching far enough to begin with. SO, let's go with that and reach farther next year! =)

My Letter to my Future Bro-In-Law

One of my little sisters got engaged this week, and I wrote her fiancee this letter. With his and her permission, I am sharing it here. Yes, it's a little silly and sentimental. But I'm a little silly and sentimental, so just bear with me. You don't have to read it. It's not for you anyways - it's for my new little brother in law. if you do still want to read it, here it is:

Dear Derek -
In another life, you and I would never be friends. Putting aside the fact that you lived in PA and went to school in Ohio, while I have always been (and probably always will be) a Maryland native, if we had somehow been in high school or college together, we would have butted heads. I’m fully aware that my overt feminism is sometimes over the top, an effort to overcompensate for the isolation that so many female engineers feel. I’m also aware that I have a tendency to state my opinions on this fact rather loudly, and that my own love for school often makes me judgmental about apathy in other people. Which means that, from what I know about you, we would have fought in classes. Because I know other guys like you, and I fought with them. I fought about their general disdain for required classes, about their offhand jokes about women in the kitchen, about basically everything, because that’s what I did. It’s how I acted. Ask any of my guy friends (and I do still have some) - I was and still am a little sensitive about being a woman engineer.

Even in real life (instead of the hypothetical one) I had a hard time liking you. And here’s why. First of all, you were the first sister boyfriend I had to deal with. I hadn't had the chance to grow accustomed to a new guy in my sister’s life as the rest of the family did with Ryan. You were it, and you did not seem like the kind of guy I’d be drawn towards (see above). But my sister adored you. It was so obvious in every part how happy she was with you, how much she wanted this to work. When Jessica left for Case, I was slightly terrified about what might happen. High school was not her favorite time or place, and I (again, who loved school and couldn’t understand those who didn’t) worried about what college would do to her. When she met you, I was hesitant about being nice to you, because you (someone I didn’t know and didn’t trust) had the potential to crush my sister. I didn’t know you, but I knew if you broke up with her, she’d be sad in a way I couldn’t fix. And I hated you because of that. Emotionally, someone I loved and cared about was now loving and caring about someone else, in a way that they could not love or care about me. And the instinct in much of my large, loud, tightly knit family is to tease what you don’t understand or don’t like. So, I teased you mercilessly. And for the most part, you held up under it (even though I know I wasn’t your favorite Scheerer sister).

Anyways, I don’t need to go over the history of all the times you and I have interacted in person. The point is, you proved me wrong. Over time, you proved you weren’t just interested in Jessica for the status symbol of having a girlfriend. You were able to make an OH/TN relationship work when you finally left Cleveland. You were more OK with my teasing you - do you like it? Of course not, and no one does. But you put up with it, you didn’t shut me out. So slowly, I began to think that maybe you’d be OK, maybe you’d be in her life for good, and that would be OK. That’s around the time that I switched from calling you “Muff Man” and “The Muffler” (which, for the record, I still think is a fun nickname and I wish you didn’t hate it) to actually calling you Derek.

And now you’re almost ready to marry my sister. I’ve learned over the past couple of years that you all have been dating that, while I wouldn’t have selected you, Jessica did, and she knows what she wants and needs better than I do. It would appear that means you. While dating you, my sister’s confidence level has grown, and you have become an immovable fixture in her heart. So, Derek, because I love my sister, and who she loves, I will love - let’s be friends.
Let’s both appreciate how stunningly beautiful Jessica is - I mean, really, she was called beauty and girlfriend her whole life. Growing up, we all knew she was the sexy sister.  Let’s appreciate together how she was born to be a teacher - besides you, the only way her face lights up is when she’s helping kids with something. And she’s particularly talented for being a middle/high school math teacher, because those were the years that she was so apathetic about school herself, so she gets it, and gets how to make it inspiring. Let’s appreciate how crafty she is, and how she saves every scrap of fabric for a future project...oh wait, that part might not be so fun for you, since it means you have to store all that stuff. I’ll appreciate that, and you can complain about it, I give you permission.

This is as much a letter to open a space in my heart for you as a little brother as it is a love letter of sorts from me to my baby sister, the one love that despite all our apparent differences, you and I will share for the rest of our lives. It's on you now to love and honor her, to protect her the way my big sister heart wants her to be protected. When her heart aches, ours will ache for her. When she smiles, our hearts will be happy knowing she is happy. She will forever tie us together in a new sibling in law relationship.

Besides Jessica, I look forward to finding other stuff that you and I have in common over the rest of our lives (I hear you’re a fan of board games? Maybe that would be a good start). I want to welcome you into our crazy large and loud family, to show you just how much we care about one another. I want to believe that this is “the start of a beautiful friendship” between us (that’s a very famous movie line from Casablanca). I’m excited for y’all’s wedding day.
  • Emily

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Poem About Dad's Treatments

Hi folks! I wrote this poem about Dad's cancer treatments back when he started his most recent trial. I didn't post it at the time, but I'm sharing it now since we know (kinda) how the trial treatment is going. - Emily

In Hamilton they sing “Helpless”
But it’s helpless with happiness
Not this frustration
This weird anticipation

When you want to be realistic
But not quite pessimistic
To plan for a future and be hopeful
But not disappointed or ungrateful

Look around, it’s been a year
We can cheer that Dad’s still here
But I want to know what time we have got
I forget I have privileges that others have not

I don’t want to sound depressing
This is my attempt at expressing
And processing for you
What I’m going through

“It is well with my soul” was my favorite song
But now when I sing, I question if it’s wrong
Is it well with my soul? Can I say that in truth?
It’s harder to sing now then it was as a youth

What I know in my head and what I feel in my heart
Those two are often worlds apart
I know that God cares and loves us a lot
But it still seems unfair, this straw that we’ve got

A lot of folks say this will be cured one day
Maybe soon, as many hope and pray
But for now, it is not, and we pay the price
As Dad rolls experimental treatment dice