Monday, March 24, 2014

Maine Maple Weekend

Being a huge Maine lover and a huge maple lover, I have always wanted to participate in Maine Maple Weekend.  For whatever reason, we've never made it happen until this year.  What a super time!

I did a lot of research (typical for me, I OVER-research everything) before we went, looking for the perfect farm to visit.  My goal was to balance visiting an authentic sugar shack with finding some fun things to keep the girls happy.  Chase Farms was the perfect place for our family to visit!

Chase Farms is an easy ride from the Boston area, and near everything we love on Maine's beautiful southern coast.  The farm stand itself and sugar shack are pristine and very visually pleasing.  I felt good about eating food from their operation.

Given the super cold winter, we were very excited to see that they were boiling sap for maple syrup.  We each had a "shot" of warm maple syrup right from the evaporator.  Well, actually, Emmie ended up with 4 shots of warm maple syrup right from the evaporator.  She LOVES her maple syrup!  We also had samples of maple cream which was delectable, and free servings of freshly popped popcorn.

Warm maple syrup.
The website indicated that there would be hay rides, although we did not see any happening during our visit.  Which was actually fine with us because we felt that there were plenty of other interesting things going on for the girls.  Both girls participated in the free face painting, but the place where we actually spent most of our time was in the barn.

Being the "city folk" that we are, of course the girls walked into the barn and yelled, "PEEE-YOU!" about 10 times, embarrassingly loud.  In their defense, it didn't exactly melt my mascara, but it was rather stinky.  You get used to it, especially as you see the super cool animals and adorable baby pigs living in the barn.  There were workhorses, cows, and pigs.  I kept saying to Patrick, "Is it me, or are these animals HUGE!?!??!"  They were really quite impressive and kept the girls interested for a very long time.  Of course the baby pigs were the favorite of everyone.  All of the workers were friendly and patient, especially when Emmie was DYING to pet the horse, Bill, but was still a little shy about it.

Their "PEEEE-YOUS" turned to smiles once they saw all of the animals.

Rosie checking out the baby pigs.  She kept saying, "Oink, oink!"

Emmie petting Bill the horse.  She said next time she wants to ride him.
We told her it might be better if she started off on a slightly smaller horse...
They look like little ranch hands.

After all of the barn fun we warmed up in the sugar house and had some amazing maple syrup cotton candy.  It was being freshly made and was a HUGE serving.  Turns out, Emmie loves cotton candy.  Rosie, not so much.

We bought some delicious maple goods to remind us of our great visit to this super cool farm and were on our way.  We left smiling and super happy that the sun had come out (it was snowing at the beginning of our visit) and that we visited this great family farm.  All in all, we would highly recommend visiting this farm, whether it be for Maine Maple Weekend or any weekend.  The people were nice, their treats were delicious, and it was a beautifully kept place.

As we headed to Ogunquit, we noticed that Chase Farms actually has a farm stand right on Route 1.  We've probably driven by it about 1,000 times and never stopped...this summer, we definitely will be sure to support this local business.

After our great time "down on the farm" (yes, we love country music), we headed to one of our favorite places on the coast of Maine, Ogunquit and Perkins Cove.  It was so lovely out (ie, 45 degrees...I guess we are true New Englanders) that we were able to get some delicious coffee at one of our favorite spots, Breaking New Grounds Coffee, and sit outside on their adirondack chairs.  The house blend was perfect, and the view of the cold Atlantic waves crashing on the rocky Maine coast was beautiful.

Perkins Cove coffee shop.

Perkins Cove.

Perkins Cove footbridge.

Our final stop on our perfect Maine daytrip was to Bread and Roses Bakery on Maine street in Ogunquit.  We had a huge, warm chocolate chip cookie and a whoopie pie.  While the whoopie pie might not have been quite as fresh as during the busier summer months, the cookie was soft and gooey and sweet.  You can just tell they used great ingredients.  Now, even though I didn't think the whoopie pie was as good as they are in July, that's not to say that we didn't eat every last morsel of it.

We sat outside and enjoyed the last of the "warm" weather for I guess another week, chatting up some locals and eating our treats.  It was a perfect end to a sugary, smelly, happy, and amazingly memorable day with the girls.  Well, isn't every day a sugary, smelly, happy, and amazingly memorable day with the girls?  Yes, I think so.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rosie's Adoption Video

Here it is!  Long, long, long overdue.  Ten months of our amazing daughter.  From the first second we saw her sweet face in China until today.  We are so lucky to have these two amazing daughters in our lives!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bringing in the New Year!

We had so much fun with two little dollies to help bring in the Year of the Horse!  We really try our best to make a big deal out of Chinese New Year, treating it almost like Thanksgiving for our family.  During the week leading up to the holiday, we are out and about at the stores every day picking up ingredients for lots of Chinese dishes.  One day when we were on about our 3rd store to pick up fresh veggies, I asked Emmie if we could make one last stop at HMart for some fresh lo mein noodles. "This is RIDICULOUS," she said, using one of her new and favorite expressions to complain about the number of stores we visited.  But when we found her favorite noodles and grabbed a milk tea to go, she was very happy.  We made a trip to Chinatown for some baked goods from some of the very best bakeries in Boston, and we also found a new scroll to hang up reading, "GOOD HEALTH."  Perfect for our family.  We also did lots of arts and crafts to help decorate and celebrate.  It all culminated with a huge dinner with lots of Chinese dishes.  I told P, it was like the Super Bowl for me as a cook!  Lots of fun, family, food, and good times to celebrate the new year!

Here are some pics of the girls in their traditional qipao that we bought on Shamian during Rosie's adoption trip...

Displaying lots of oranges for abundance and good fortune.

Showing the girls how I fold dumplings.

Cutting out dough for Hong Kong style egg tarts.

Just one of our traditional dishes.  We had homemade egg rolls, char siu pork, rice noodles,
lo mein, fried rice, shrimp with snap peas, broccoli with oyster sauce, and chop suey.
Since I was a little busy cooking all of this and the egg tarts, we bought lots of desserts.

With Baba opening her Lai See full of Lindt chocolate coins (yum!) from Nana and Grampy.

The girls made paper lanterns and we tried our hand and traditional Chinese
papercutting for the first time!  The symbol with the hearts is our "fancy" version
of Double Happiness.

We hung lots and lots of traditional Chinese New Year decorations including
lanterns, firecrackers, and decorative scrolls.  The scroll on the door says, "GOOD HEALTH."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2 Years of Emmie

Today is 2 years since the day Emmie so bravely walked into our lives-what a happy day for us indeed!  I sort of want to stop doing these posts celebrating milestones for the girls because it makes me realize I have so much to say, that I can't possibly say it all in one silly blog post.  Most of all, I want to say thank you to Emmie for letting us love her and for being such an amazing daughter and now big sister.  Emmie is beautiful on the inside and out, and has taught us how to love in a way that we didn't even know was possible.  Being a mother--particularly being a mother to this resilient, emotional, smart, funny little girl--has changed my life in a million different ways.  A million different better ways.  And I can only hope that being our daughter has changed Emmie's life in many ways that are better, too.  Emmie lost something to gain something.  But for us, we gained everything.

Two years ago today...

...and now!

Here's one of our first family pictures...

..and two years later:

Here's Emmie's first "meal" with us.  She wouldn't leave her little perch by the windowsill where she could watch the lights outside...and cower away from us.

And here she is two years later, enjoying a LOT of food and smiles at the Chinese buffet (Emmie's choice!) to celebrate her day.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Lopsided Tree is the Most Beautiful Tree

Before the girls came into our lives, we totally prided ourselves on our beautifully decorated tree and house for Christmas.  Nearly every ornament on our tree is hand selected from a place that we have visited, is handmade, or is very unique.  We've collected them over the years and I still have fond memories of P and I sitting in our teeny tiny condo, drinking Bailey's, listening to Dean Martin sing carols, and admiring the perfectly decorated tree.

Flash forward to now...our house is a mish-mash of decorations we purchased long ago and all kinds of fun handmade things.  Snowmen with their hats on upside down, Santa Claus with one short leg and one long, gingerbread people with too many fingers.  And then there's our tree.  Our once-perfect tannenbaum has a cluttered, jumbled ring around the bottom.  Branches with six ornaments, some facing the wrong way.  Limbs with ornaments laying on them because the little string loop was too hard to use for tiny, impatient hands.  At first, as I sat there watching it all unfold, I had to stop myself from saying, "Girls...not so many on one branch".  But then as I watched, it got more and more beautiful.  Further and further away from the trees we used to have, but more perfect in every way.

This is the first Christmas in two years when we are not aching for a tiny little girl on the other side of the world.  The season hasn't been perfect for us with Mama recovering from surgery.  Cards are going out late, decorations are going up at the last minute, and every single item on Santa's list will not have a check next to it.  But the most important things are right here, running through our house singing Rudolph and Jingle Bells and hanging up their drawings of blue Christmas trees and pink reindeer.  This is what Christmas is all about, and it's beautiful, in every way.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Good Report

One week post-op and I got a clean pathology report from the thyroglossal duct cyst.  I look like Frankenstein with a crummy, swollen incision across the front of my neck (that people can't RESIST staring at!!!!), but the important thing is that it was totally benign.  (It's rare, but occasionally thyroglossal duct cysts can be carcinoma.)  I'm trying to keep it all in perspective as I continue to try to get movement back in my neck and get used to the ugly scar.  (I'm working on a post with the pics and details for any thyroglossal duct cyst enthusiasts out there.)

Despite my fears, the household  kept moving along during my time on the couch.  There were a few (OK, more than a few) moments that I just had to close my eyes and roll with things, but that's probably a good idea for me to practice, anyways.

A couple of moments made me chuckle:

Patrick:  "Rosie asked me for her usual egg for breakfast but I had no idea how to get them they way you do, so I just lied and told her we didn't have any eggs."  She still ate.

Patrick, after serving the wrong Exjade to the wrong kid:  "Emmie, since you just took a bite of Rosie's Exjade, we'll let Rosie take a bite of your Exjade, and we'll call it even."  It was a miniscule amount, no one OD'd.

Funny moments aside, he kept this crazy house running and took care of me like a pro.

My parents are most certainly in the running for both Parents and Grandparents of the Year after everything they did for us.  Every single day they ran errands, brought food, took the girls so Patrick could work and I could rest.  They chauffeured them everywhere, and even this week continued to chauffeur me around since I had to go out but couldn't drive.  The dance instructor, speech therapist, and neighbors all commented on how lucky we are to have so much help.  Even the staff at the infusion clinic thanked my Dad yesterday for stepping up and helping with the driving and care of the girls while I've been recouperating.  Little did they know that he's NOT a fan of blood/needles/etc. yet he still sat there with me and watched his little "imp" get her new blood.

I'm definitely on the road to recovery now and just so happy this is slowly getting behind me and I'm getting on with normal life.  Still, it's definitely going to take awhile to be 100%.  Given what I had done, I can see why this last part of the recovery can take months.

So, it's been a process, for sure.  Not great timing for anyone.  No one could put any effort into getting ready for the holiday, because everyone was putting their effort into helping me.  But I guess that makes me a very lucky gal.  A great husband and family, that's Christmas present enough.

Rosie delighted to be getting new blood.  Emmie delighted NOT
to be getting new blood, but still getting to play with the ipad.

Keeping it fun.

Man, I've had a few transfusions and they never made me smile
quite THIS much!

This kid loves her eggs.  Even hospital eggs.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


No, not the girls.  It's me, recovering from neck surgery.  On Monday, I had neck surgery for a thyroglossal duct cyst.  "Huh?" you say?  Well, yeah, I said the same thing.  The surgery is called the Sistrunk procedure, where they remove the cyst or cysts, the thyroglossal duct tract, and a piece of a bone in your neck called the hyoid.  Why you don't need this bone is beyond me.  To get out the duct, they cut up from the cyst in your neck to the base of your tongue.  (Sounds gross, huh?)  I'm left with about a 4 inch incision across the front of my neck.

So, why did I have this?  It's a congenital abnormality that arises from the area of your neck where your thyroid grows from.  The duct should completely close off after the thyroid moves to it's final position in the neck (in utero) and if it doesn't, it can give rise to this ridiculous problem I've been dealing with since August.

I'll keep the gory details and pictures out of this post and dedicate a new one to my experience with the cyst, procedure, and recovery, so I can spare those of you who are just here to see my usual cute Emmie and Rosie updates.  But I will share my experience with this, because there's a lack of real-life adult patient experience about thyroglossal duct cysts on the internet.

In the meantime, I'm convalescing.  How am I doing that?  Being waited on by my husband who has become expert at measuring out liquid medications and fluffing pillows just right to hold my sore neck.  Laying on the couch. Receiving deliveries of homemade food and groceries from my parents.  Endless babysitting of the girls by Nana and Grampy (not that any of the involved parties mind).  Sipping broth, sucking on popsicles, and if I'm feeling crazy, eating some pudding (although I just referred to the rice pudding as, "a real challenge").  Whispering because I have no voice.  Looking straight ahead because it hurts to turn my swollen neck.  Explaining to the girls over and over why I can't pick them up.  Figuring out the magical balance of painkillers and visits from my sister that keep my spirits high.  It's not exactly how I wanted to be spending the weeks before Christmas, but just having the surgery behind me is such a relief that even though I feel physically worse now, I actually feel so much better emotionally.

Just what the doctor ordered.