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.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy Birthday Rosie!

To our tiny little second daughter, who continues to blossom and become more grafted into our family each day, Happy Birthday!  You are funny, smart, playful, adorable, giggly, warm, and everything we could have ever dreamed about times a million.

Rosie, it was hard for me to imagine how it could ever be possible to love someone as much as I love Emmie.  But I do.  I love you with every fiber of my being, and then some.  I know you are still learning to love us like a family, and I thank you for opening your heart to all of us.  Thank you, thank you for the day you walked into our lives.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Emmie!

To the little girl who first made us a Mama and Baba and who has brought more joy into our lives than we could have ever imagined, Happy Birthday!  You are smart, loving, funny, feisty, inquisitive, beautiful, and everything we could have ever hoped for times a million.

Emmie, I thought I knew what love was until I met you.  That feeling of holding your daughter in your arms, laughing with her, hurting for her, cuddling her, being disappointed in her, loving her, and being proud of her is like absolutely nothing else in this world.  Thank you, thank you for the day you walked into our lives.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Having Fun

Parenting is absolutely fraught with situations that make you feel like shit.  At least for me.  It's often a result of completely underestimating my girls, which, I'll be honest, happens more frequently than I'd like because they are amazing.

It's like when you come to check in after you've asked them to clean up their mess, loaded for bear, expecting the same if not worse mess, and the place is spotless.  Or, after playgroup, you are braced to hear, "Rosie didn't share" and what you get instead is, "For a child who doesn't have a huge vocabulary yet, she is the most polite little girl I have ever met.  'Please, Thank You, and You're Welcome' for everything!"  Or the way I lost sleep worrying about their first dentist appointments, thinking they'd scream their heads off and not even make it through the teeth counting part.  Instead, they had their teeth counted, scraped, brushed, examined, and flouride.  The WHOLE exam.  The hygenist said she'd never seen such cooperative kids on their first visit.  I underestimated them.

Today was a gorgeous day in the town where I live.  There's a new coffee shop that opened, and a couple of boutiquey style stores that I've been wanting to visit.  It sounded like a great idea to get out with the girls.  First stop, Kickstand Cafe for a cup of coffee.  You'd think I fed both girls a double shot of espresso given the way they were behaving.  Ripping up napkins, climbing on the chairs.  Since the place just opened today, they just have masking tape with the artists' names on the walls under the artwork.  I turned away for one second and Rosie decided she could re-arrange things, crediting the wrong artist to the wrong picture.  We had to leave.

Silly me, I decided that we could still try going into those two stores I've only walked by 500 times.  They are less than a block apart, so when Emmie said, "Double stroller?" I cringed at the thought of lugging out the cumbersome thing and said, "No, let's walk!"  Mistake, mistake, mistake.  In store #1 they were not corralled and couldn't keep their hands off of any of the lovely and breakable items.  We had to leave.  On the short walk to the next store (I know, I dumb can I be?), Emmie lost her shoe, Rosie did a faceplant, they both fought about having to hold hands.  We got to store #2 and turned around, just to repeat the miserable walk again, this time crying.  That's when I thought to myself, "This is the opposite of fun.  One coffee shop and two stores and a 100 ft walk and all of this drama!  I'm not having fun."  And, I figured that neither were they.  They had been reprimanded, counted, removed from places, and were now in tears.

We got in the car, my head pounding.  Emmie asked if we could listen to music to which I responded, "No, I need quiet time" and we silently drove towards home.  That's when Emmie said, "Mama, I had so much fun going out today!"  After righting the car from practically going off the road, I asked why.  Emmie said, "Because I love being with you and Roe-rie."

I underestimated them.  Even when they can't rearrange an art display or play with glass baubles, even when they get scolded and removed and put into a silent car with a stressed out Mama, they have fun.  Just being together.  And, so for the millionth time this week, the girls made me feel like shit.  Not because of how difficult they are, but because of how wonderful they are.

So, now it's off to the playground.  Nothing to break or spill.  Just to have fun being together.  Because two years ago, I would have given anything to have fun with these girls.

The girls rockin' their first dentist appointment...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Well, fall is definitely here.  Since the minute we stepped off the plane from our trip to Florida (photos still to be downloaded), the days are much shorter and there's a chill in the air.  Everyone knows that I would be happy with just one season: summer.  But even I have to admit to really enjoying the early fall activities with P and the girls.  For the past week, our days have been filled with catching falling leaves, apple picking, soup making, and watching October baseball.

The past week has also unfortunately been filled with colds and coughs and stomach bugs...those crummy things that also come with summer's end.  The only silver lining to that is that I've also been spending lots of time in the kitchen with the girls.  They are great helpers and love to cook, just like their mama.  They especially love making soups when there are lots of things to throw in a big pot.  We've made chicken soup, turkey soup, minestrone, and ribolitta.  The girls taste every veggie and bean, add the spices, open cans, and stir everything up.  And forget about one of those silly rubber tubes to peel your garlic or using the side of your chef's knife...the girls are the BEST garlic peelers I have ever seen.

So, besides the fact that we are all sick, I can't complain too much that the temps are falling.  We're having a great time making the most of the season.

Here are some pics of our trip this weekend to Applecrest Farms in Hampton Falls, NH.  It was absolutely delightful to watch the girls having so much fun doing such a low-tech activity.  Just riding tractors and picking apples and running around a pumpkin patch.  A perfect fall day in New England.

Little girl or big apple?

Let's see who can take the biggest CHOMP . . .

. . . I think it was a tie!

OUR pumpkins!

Adding her pin to the map.  The closest one was on Nanning.

And R's first pin to the map!  No others on Guangzhou.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Summer, Summer, Summer

Being the summer people we are, everyone in this house is a little sad to see it unofficially (or officially?) end.  Not to mention, a glimmer of sun over the long Labor Day weekend wouldn't have hurt, would it?  Every day E got up and said, "Mama, it's not boooo-tiful outside, is it?"  Which translates to:  "We aren't going to the beach, are we?"

But, we can't complain too much.  We had an awesome summer of beach days and day trips to fun places, lots of feasts and festivals, and plenty of good times.  We kept it all within driving distance, though, since we didn't feel R was ready for sleeping away from her still-new bed yet.

Speaking of our newest addition...R's really doing great.  Settling in and just becoming one of the gang. The girls are definitely becoming friends more and more every day.  Warms this Mama's (and Baba's!) heart.

So, a little wrap-up of August in pictures...

Boston Common carousel.

Funny face picture at a cafe.  We did it once, and now we have to do it

St. Agrippina feast.  Protecting all of us from thunderstorms
and bacterial infections.  How perfect is that?

Swing, batter batter!

Loving the water she used to be afraid of!
Wingaersheek Beach

Mama took the girls blueberry picking.  It was a HUGE hit!
Honeypot Orchards

We have the two most beautiful little berry pickers around!

So proud!
Look at R's belly!  Smooch!!

Emmie driving the tractor.
(Rosie would NOT get on the tractor, no surprise there...)

A rare day indoors--baking cookies for Baba.

Look at the diva poses!

Rosie tearing into a whoopie pie from Bread and Roses bakery in
Ogunquit, ME.  We'll fatten her up yet!

Along the Marginal Way with Baba.

All dolled up in traditional outfits for the Boston Chinatown August
Moon Festival.

Beautiful dragon at the festival.

Emmie's reaction to the aforementioned dragon.
I guess not all Chinese people like dragons.

On to the North End.  Here comes the parade!
Much happier!  No dragons!

Enjoying an arancini at the Madonna Della Cava feast in the North End.
It was quite a multicultural day!  Started with rice noodles, ended with tiramisu.

Transfusion day.
(You knew they had to get tanked up SOMETIME in between all this fun...)

The shirts say it all!  We were so excited to get one to
match the shirt Emmie got last year at the same exact feast!

Our favorite, the Fisherman's Feast.

Getting a little temporary Hello Kitty tat at the Quincy
August Moon Festival.

Outside of Crema Cafe in Harvard Square.  No, we did not give them espresso.

Or, did we?

One day Emmie woke up and said, "Mama, today I want to go on a boat."
So, we did!  (Just the MBTA ferry from Boston to Charlestown--not a Carnival Cruise or anything.)

Salem, MA.  The girls got Chinese Yo-Yos.
When the sales clerk took them from us to ring in, he said, "OK, you have two Chinese yo-yos."
To which I responded, "Are you calling my kids yo-yos?!"
We all had a good laugh.

Salem, MA.
Enjoying the ocean breeze on a super humid day.

Our last feast of the summer, St. Anthony.
Emmie was SO SO SO excited to pin her dollar on the saint.

With Baba strolling the streets of the North End.

Rosie destroying a piece of Umberto's delicious pizza.  These kids know good food!
Again, we'll fatten her up yet!

Every time we were in Boston this summer, Emmie asked when the carousel would be ready.
We went in especially for the grand opening on Labor Day weekend!

Emmie was very excited to get to ride the lobster!

Just as excited to get to eat lobster, too!
(Yes, the girls LOVE lobster.)