Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Garden Updates

Although I haven't really been taking care of my garden these couple of years, most plants are doing just fine. My purple cone flowers stopped blooming way earlier than normal, now they are just whole bunch of seedheads on dried stems. I normally keep them till spring, so the hungry birds will have some food in the cold snow covered winter.

Some other of my summer flowers are still doing great, I am pretty sure they will continue giving me bundle of colors till first frost. Here are my Balsam and Four O'clock Flower.

My little Chinese dogwood "Wolf's Eye" grew a lot this year, well, compared to the previous 4 years, not comparing to other type of trees. I finally decided to help it out a little bit by tying it to a couple of stakes. It was leaning to one side just a little bit, but after hurricane Irene, it was at a 45 degree angle. NOT GOOD! Now look at it, so proudly standing straight, and showing off the curvy leaves and just a hint of that pink edges. Oh BTW, it is not that tall, only about 4 ft, I took this picture from the ground.

Most of the mums in my yard are blooming. Haven't seen the purple ones yet. But don't you just love that warm autumn color? Even my little girl knows to stop once a while to smell the flowers. When was the last time you enjoyed your garden?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Farm Pictures Comparison

Just processed some pictures from our apple picking trip, so here are some comparison of same activities from last year and this year. Sorry I still cannot show you her face. But you get the idea, how much she has grown during this past year. Oh, the weather this time is much warmer than last year, but they are taken around the same time, I promise.

Here is my baby sitting on a big pumpkin. Yeah, she totally faked that smile for mommy!

She got mobbed by the goats again and again.

She loved feeding the big animals with daddy, especially the llama and cow.

She enjoyed picking apples, especially this year she is old enough to enjoy eatting it.

This is how she looked on daddy's shoulder. Still so sweet!

There are so many cute pictures, they will be posted on my flickr soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hayride Accident

Some of you in MA or NH area might already seen this on the news, there was a hayride accident at Applecrest Farm, Hampton Falls, NH. When Stubborn called me yesterday about it, I was totally shocked. We were there that day, and Stubborn and little caterpillar took that ride just 2 hours before the accident. I couldn't get the horrible question out of my mind, "What if they were on that ride?" We were both in denial, those horses looked so nice and calm, what on earth spooked them? You can read more about the accident here on the news. They say the woman who got seriously injuryed saved lots of people. I kept thinking I might talked to her while waiting for Stubborn and little caterpillar's wagon to come back. There were two ladies there, and they were both very nice. So sad. I truely wish she can get well soon.

We have been to that farm twice so far, and we love it. Last year, little caterpillar was just one, and didn't know any fear, so she enjoyed feeding the animals with daddy. This year though, she got so scared and cried so hard every time daddy put her down. Oh, they were in the fence with the animals, not outside. Those goats were bigger than her! Some of them were very aggressive! One of them was so aggressive, in order to get to the little cup of food in Stubborn's hand, he/she used my baby as stepping stone! He put his hoof on my baby's shoulder or head, then climbed up on my husband's chest! Totally stood up! I was in shock and outside the fence, didn't notice where it hit my girl, but she was crying so hard, telling us the goat poked her left eye! I checked closely, there was no damage, but she must got so traumatized. Even the next day, whenever we mentioned goat, she would poke her own left eye and cry. So, it's safe to say that she won't get anywhere near those goats anytime soon. We never thought goats or sheep can be this dangerous! Next time, we have to protect her more, maybe just feeding them from outside of the fence.

We really enjoyed apple picking this time. Last year, she did pick some apples, but she didn't even know what they were. Now she's old enough to pick her own apple, and enjoyed eatting them in the orchard. She accidentally dropped her apple on the tractor ride back, almost cried. Overall, our applepicking experience was great. The weather was great, much warmer than last year. Once I processed the pictures, I will show you some comparisons.

Have you gone apple picking this year? What's you experience with petting zoo? Do you think hayride is safe in general?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thrifting Scores

Well, technically, these are not really thrifted, but bought brand new. The reason I think they should be in the thrifting section is because I paid less than thrift store price for them. You don't believe it? I paid $1.90! Not each, but total! Total $1.90 for 6 pieces of new clothing for my girl! 4 shorts and 2 tshirts for next summer. Can you believe that? Stubborn actually felt embrassed and waited for me in the car. Ha!

Here is how I got this deal, in case you are interested. I get those $10 gift card from Kohl's sometimes in the mail, and it's a real $10 card, not $10 off $50 kind of deal. Even though I don't shop at Kohl's normally, I cannot just throw $10 away. My original plan was to find something for myself, but well, if you have kids you will understand, sometimes you just cannot resist those cute kids stuffs. So, I ended up digging through the clearance racks for little caterpillar. Not that she needs anything, just thought I couldn't pass on a sale. We got her this year's Halloween custome for about $5, which is selling for $38 right now! I was disappointed first, didn't find anything that I liked or her size (next summer). Then I saw some short on a shelf nearby. They were originally $13 each, on clearance for just $1.30 (90% off). I all of sudden got excited. I found 4 shorts (3T and 4T).I also found a couple of shirts which surprisingly Stubborn liked them too. So, the total plus tax minus $10 gift card was $1.90!!! How great is that!

I think now we are all set with her next summer's wardrobe. No, not just these 6 pieces, I also got her some tshirts and shorts from Target on clearance recently, and Stubborn's friend gave us a bag full of cute little dresses too. All I need to do is to add some embelishments to the dresses to make them unique for my girl! I love hand-me-downs, saves me tons of money (I didn't need to buy a thing for the first year!), but I don't want my baby to be just a copy of other kids. So, I have to put my touches on them. And since some of them has a little bit of stains here and there, if I cannot get them out, I will just have to cover them up. What's better than cover them up with some flowers or appliques or ruffles. I am sensing lots of before and after simple sewing projects coming up.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bento, Anyone?

I have seen those super cute japanese bento boxes in magazines when I was just a little girl, and always wondered who makes them and how hard it is to make. A couple years ago, I found lots of amazing bento pictures on flickr, so I started reading some of the bento blogs. (Source: Happy Little Bento)

(Source: Happy Little Bento)

(Source: Lunch In A Box)

These moms are AMAZING! I don't know where they got the energy and time to make these every morning. When we looked for daycare center for little caterpillar, we went for the one that provides breakfast and lunch, so I don't have to stress too much in the morning. I know my homemade food will always be more nutritious than theirs, but I just don't think I can handle it. We had nanny for almost two years, she cooks and cleans and takes care of our baby. I always complained (to my family, not to the nanny) her cooking is not so good (I help her with dinner every day), and sometimes she misplaces stuffs. But once she was gone, I struggled very hard the first month, just to keep with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. I didn't even have time to sanitize the floor every day, like I required her to do. But I work full time and have a two and half hour commute! I have my excuses. OK, where was I? Back to bento box. I just admire those moms who have the talent and skills to pack super cute and nutritious bento boxes for their kids. One day I will have to try it out. Once we get a bigger kitchen (the next house), I will buy a cabinet full of cute bento boxes and accessories. Then I will try out every single recipe from sherimiya and Biggie. Where can I find a nice Japanese market here in Boston area?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Birthday Tea Party

Happy 2nd birthday, my beautiful girl!

I have to process the pictures faster now. Now fall is here, there will be tons of new pictures oppotunity coming up soon, apple picking, hay rides, petting zoo, trick or treating, and of course christmas. Anyway, I will show you more pictures from my baby's birthday tea party photoshoot later.

BTW, that cute table and chair set was a curb find from several months ago. They were really disgustingly dirty and original paints were falling apart. It took me a lot of work to sand them and repaint. Well, you might notice some of the area are not done (missing those lavender plum purple rings), but I just ran out of time before the photoshoot. They look pretty cute to me anyway. If I can find the original pictures, I will show you a better before and after.

Oh, another reason this post is in the DIY section too, is because I also made the little tablecloth, those cupcakes and the cute cake toppers. Those cupcakes are delicious, but I have to confess, this is my first time making cupcakes, so I bought the cake mix and icing. Look closer, you might be able to tell how bad my icing looks. But it didn't matter to little caterpillar at all, she just simply couldn't resist them. Almost in all pictures, she has a cupcake in her hands or in her mouth. I have to show you those pictures soon, too funny.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What's Your Comfort Food?

I have been sick lately, some baby germ my girl brought back from daycare. She was fine within 3 days, but she gave it to us. You know, she is at the age that's so cute and cuddly, always climbs up you lap and kisses you and coughes right in your face. Oh yeah, sometimes, even licks your nose! Very sweet, but super germy! Stubborn got it first, but he took some pills and got over it quite quick. I don't like drugs, so I normally try to avoid them as much as I could. Plus my immune system seems stronger than his, so normally I don't get sick at all. Well, guess I was not so lucky this time. I have been sick for a week now, stuffy and runny nose, and crazy coughing. I am a big girl, I can handle coughing during the day, but when it bothers me too much at night, makes me sit up and cough violently night after night, I gave in. Some Robitussin later, I finally got a good night sleep. Funny how a good night sleep can make you feel so good!

OK, back to toady's topic. When I am sick, I normally lose my appetite. And somehow even with my stuffed nose, I could still smell a nice hot bowel of soup! My all time favorite comfort food is New England style clam chowder! A nice bowel of it, with some warm fresh bread! I can feel the energy pumping back into my body. Well, I am kind of picky when it comes to taste. My hospital cafe does have clam chowder everyday, but somehow it just doesn't taste right. I love the one from Souper Salad! There is a Souper Salad in a nearby building, so that's where I have to go when I crave for it.

If for some reason I cannot go, I will settle for a nice bowel of chicken noodle soup in our cafe, it's a bit salty, but pretty good in general. When I was reading one of my favorite blogs, The Cottage Home yesterday, I saw this mouth watering picture above. I just have to read it, and write down her recipe, Tortellini Chicken Soup. Why haven't I try cooking these soup at home when I am sick? I am pretty good at cooking. Guess it has something to do with I only cook Chinese food! I have been living in this country for almost 12 years, yet I never learned to cook American style, never even tried. Don't laugh, I don't even know how to make macaroni and cheese! Maybe because we Chinese people don't eat cheese?! The only time I will have some cheese is in cheeseburger or on a pizza. With little caterpillar growing up quickly, I will have to learn to cook some typical American kids meals. Lots of learning ahead of me. But for now, I would love to try making some chicken noodle soup or clam chowder first. Comfort first, right?

PS, found a recipe for New England style Clam Chowder on Looks simpler than I thought. It will be really nice to curl up in the sofa with a soft blanket and a big bowel of my favorite soup. Oh, how I wish we have a fireplace!

What's your favorite comfort food? Is it soup, or chocolate?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

There Is Always A First Time

Yeah, it finally happened. I TOOK THE WRONG TRAIN! Ta-dah!

I take commuter rail trains everyday, for almost 6 years, I only missed trains (due to traffic), never got on a wrong train. Once a while you hear someone sitting next to you say "Darn it!", you know they got on the wrong train. I always felt sorry for those people. Well it happens! Especially when they have two trains boarding next to each other at the same time, or you have less than 1 minute to run to your train.

But yesterday, it was different for me. I had to take a later train because of a late doctor appointment. So, I didn't know the conductors or other passengers. Well, I noticed the Rockport train was sitting on Track 6, didn't leave on time. There were several other trains at the station, so I soon forgot about it. I was talking to a lady, while they announced "Lowell train" on track 6. Without any doubt, lots of people walked to that track and we all got on. I remember thinking for a second, "Wow, so many people already on this train, they must saw the conductor earlier". Well, experienced commuter always do that, follow their conductor onto the train, before the announcement. So, I quickly found a seat and closed my eyes. Within a minute, the conductor on the train announced that the train is not working, so we all need to switch to track 7! OK, I thought "how nice of them letting us know the problem immediately". So, I followed the crowd and got on the next train. Got myself a good seat, started sorting my receipts and writing to-do lists. They didn't announce anything on this train, no destination or all the stops. But that happens. The train left station 3 minutes later than my schedule, I actually thought it was not too bad, I would be home in 40 minutes. 10 minutes later, I heard "Chelsea"! I was shocked! "What!?" I looked out of the windows, oops, I didn't know the surroundings. Asked the guy next to me what train is this, hoping he will say Lowell train, but instead he said Rockport! "OMG! I am on the wrong train!"

Long story short, I had to get off that train, wait for the inbound train, and get back to North Station (Boston). To my surprise, I was the only one got off that train (well, for this reason). "Where are the other Lowell people? Was I the only one took this wrong train? Or they just haven't noticed yet?" Well, maybe I heard the announcer wrong at North Station. We all knew he pronounce "Rockport" and "Lowell" almost identical for whatever reason. Stubborn did offer to pick me up, but that station was too far away from our home, and it was raining, I didn't want him to drag little caterpillar out so late in this condition. So I took the train. Anyway, base on the information I got from Stubborn (he was telling me train schedules over the phone. Yeah, I don't have iPhone), if the inbound train arrives ontime, I will have less than 2 minutes to get on the next Lowell train. Unfortunately, the engineer was in no hurry. The train was sooooo slow, even made a couple of stops in the middle of nowhere. Before we even reached North Station, I watched my train left. "OK, still not too bad. At least this gives me some time to grab some dinner". So, finally I got on the 7:30 train, and got home after 8pm. I was exhausted. Well, I planned to go for a little shopping, but I have to save my precious energy to deal with little caterpillar. And there was an armed rubbery in the area I planned to go, police basically locked down the entire neighborhood, everyone had to go inside and lock their doors and windows. No car can get in or out of that area. Police officers were doing door to door search. Guess I was lucky to miss my train!

Well, that's my advanture last night! Do you take buses or trains? Have you ever got on the wrong one before? Did you get off immediately or went all the way without noticing?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's Fun To Be Sick

for our lucky little girl. That's because daddy loves her so much and took several days off staying home with her, and took her to lots of fun places! Well, Stubborn always tries his best to entertain our girl with different kind of activities. Sometimes I joke it's because he doesn't know how to entertain her at home, with some simple toys and games. Nonetheless, I am glad he always pushes us, especially me, to go out and find some new place to explore. If it's up to me, I rather stay home with little caterpillar, play her favorite games, read some books, while I multitask and get all the chores done. Maybe I am just too lazy, or maybe men never worry about how and when the laundry is done. Anyway, since Stubborn has more vacation days than I do (I always ran out for whatever reason), he normally is the one taking our girl to doctor appointments, staying home when she was sick, and he is also the one dropping her off and picking her up everyday! I know, I am a lucky woman, that my hubby is a terrific daddy. Even though I don't say it out loud often, I do appreciate his love and effort.

So during last week, when little caterpillar had just a little bit coughing and runny nose, they had so much fun together, besides swimming at YMCA every afternoon. He took her to nearby Stone Zoo last Wed. They didn't see many large animals, but she still had fun touching the skulls,
riding whatever it was,
and spent some wiggly time in a big net.

Then they went to Boston harbor on Friday.

Visited New England Aquarium. We have a membership, and it has been very convenient. She got to watch the giant fish and sea turtle at the big tank,
touch the baby ray and shark,
and had so much fun watching the seals.

When he called me at work around lunch time telling me that he was going to take her on a whale watch, I panicked. Well, she was still sick, if Stubbron sat on deck with her the whole trip, she might get pneumonia. So, I quickly finished lunch, took the rest of the day off, ran out of office, hoping I could get to the harbor in time. Lucky for me, I didn't wait too long for the bus, then subway, and got there 30 minutes before the departure time.
Once we left the harbor, we both really glad that I made it. At beginning, everyone was having fun,
especially the kids, running around the deck in the strong wind. Even little caterpillar loved it. But as you can see, she cannot really stand still without daddy's strong support.
It was so windy, the boat ride was very very uncomfortable. Even though I don't have motion sickness, the wind, speed and 3ft waves made me very nauseated. I had to focus my eyes on the horizon, so I wouldn't end up like the half of the passengers, throwing up in bags and collapsed in their seats. Stubborn has motion sickness, he had to stay in the back, and threw up a couple of times. Even though little caterpillar kept telling me she was not afraid, her legs were shaking everytime the boat bounced. And as I expected she fell asleep pretty soon, just like the five times she was on a airplane, she fell asleep before the plane approaching the destination and landing. I guess this is her defense machanism. Lucky she woke up when we arrived the whale feeding area. And got to see the two young humpback whales. First we spotted the spout, just a burst of water in the air. Then one of them flipped his tail! Amazing!Too bad they were feeding, not playing, so we didn't get to see any jump. But still, that was quite amazing to see them in their natural environment. And besides, where else can you see a big whale in person? They don't have the big ones in aquariums, not even Sea World. The ride back was way more comfortable because the wind died down. We also got to see a couple of lighthouses out in the ocean.

So far, little caterpillar is still coughing, no fever or pneumonia. Kids are so different than us adults. When we get sick, we just rest and hope it will over soon. But kids, as long as they still have some energy left, they will keep running and playing. Guess they don't have to worry about going back to work soon. Hope she will remember these fun sick days when she grows up.

Friday, September 2, 2011

It Never Ends

Little caterpillar has been sick a lot lately. First, she had 3 weeks diarrhea! Weekends and Mondays fine, diarrhea from Tues to Fri. Makes you think what they feed her at daycare, or how clean they keep the place. But then, she still put everything into her mouth, even the woodchips in the backyard! And she just started daycare this June, her little body is still getting use to the germs at daycare.

After about 2 weeks quiet time, the poor thing got the hand foot mouth disease! Saw some small rash on her palm on Monday, and by Tuesday night, blisters popped up everywhere. Well, even though she got the mild case, didn't have any fever, and only some blisters on her palms and heels, she got 4 big blisters on her tongue, which became ulcers the next day, and she had some big blisters on both her thrumbs. The poor thing was in so much pain, couldn't eat or drink, rejected her bottle, and couldn't sleep! She still sucks her thrumbs when sleeping, imagine the pain when you have ulcers in your mouth and blisters on your thrumb! She woke up every 30 minutes and cried like mad. Thank goodness she got it not too bad, not as those horrifing pictures online when you google HMFD. We took turn to stay home with her since she couldn't go to school. Well, even though she was in so much pain, she was still very happy and energetic! Kids are weird! She recovered faster than doctor predicted, and went back to school this monday.

Then comes Tuesday. Teacher called Stubborn to pick her up at lunch time, said she was having diarrhea! WHAT? She was fine in the morning. It turned out she pooped once, and then short after, she felt the urge again. She pulled down her pants, and took off her diaper, pooped right on the playground! The teacher said if they poop twice in one hour, they are having diarrhea, and have to go home! That's rediculous! I just think she didn't finish the first time, and had to continue. Maybe the teacher was angry at the fact she pooped on the playground. Com'on! She is not even two! I think she is ready for potty training now. She use potty in the morning at home and on the weekends, and took off her diapers and pooped on the floor a couple of times. OK, if you are telling me to take my kid home just because she pooped twice, I am going to ask you to potty training my kid with us. Then you have to take her to the bathroom every hour! Ok, slow down. Just got carried away a little bit. We were so lucky Stubborn took the week off (his company's policy, he had to use it or lose it, the rest of his vacation days), so he picked her up within 10 minutes. Well, she just pooped one more time that day, not too bad. But she started cough a little bit that night. Stubborn decided he wants to spend some quality time with his girl, so kept her home the day after. Lucky he did that. Little caterpillar is really sick now, runny nose and coughing! The poor thing! She lost her appetite since she had that HFMD, so she hasn't been eating much. Now this!? She already lost almost 2lbs! Everytime I pick her up now, she felt so light! My poor baby! When is this going to end?

How long were your kids sick after they started daycare? This is really frustrating!