China Town

Today mom wanted to treat us to lunch. What better place to take your family, whose lineage gets less Chinese each generation, than China town?

DSC_0841We headed out early and hit Ping Tom Memorial Park. We were the only people there. It’s actually a really nice park. I’m always blown away how many great parks and green spaces are practically empty in this city.

DSC_0851We got a tip from some people in the park on a new Dim Sum place and decided to try a new adventure.

Cai Restaurant

Cai Restaurant

Jack at 6 Chai Sui Bao (BBQ Pork Bun), Ben ate an entire plate of Spring Rolls and 2 more Chai Sui Bao. The twins gobbled up everything in front of them, including one of my favorites, Xiao Long Bao (Steamed Pork Dumpling with soup inside).

After the meal mom and I had a miscommunication and we separated. I looked around and she was gone from the restaurant. I wandered around for a while with the four kids in a state of panic. No, she doe not have a cell phone. I know you all were thinking, why didn’t you just call her? I finally found her outside of the restaurant, thank god!

On the way home, as we drove through this city of 3 million people, we happen to drive right by Adam. It was a coincidence so remote it had Mom and I in a fit of giggles.

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Mom Arrives

Mom arrived this afternoon.

I leaned on Anjelica for one more full day, and once again she complied. I am the luckiest mom alive. She is so incredibly helpful. I left her with a messy house and when I walked Mom in this afternoon it was all clean.

Part of the reason I wanted Anjelica so early was so I could take another class at Sweet Mandy Bs. This time they were making Volcano cakes. And this time Jack joined us.

DSC_0801The cake didn’t explode, but I think it will make your gut explode later. It was a triple layer cake, stuck together with icing, then covered in chocolate icing, then topped with orange, red, and green icing, and red jelly. Then we iced dinosaur cookies, dipped them in sprinkles and added them to the cake too. I think if you go to Sweet Mandy B’s and order a cake this size and 2 cookies it would cost more than the fee for the class. Amazing.

After a trip to MacDonalds (Damn MacDonalds for giving our Despicable Me 2 minions. We have to keep going to get them all!), we headed over to the airport to get Japo.

She got a good haul from her mango tree this year. The twins found them right away.

DSC_0803These are no ordinary mangos. They are Bombay Mangos. They taste like mango custard. They don’t have strings in them. I am getting hungry just thinking about them, even though I just stuffed my face with volcano cake.

Here is the pickings she brought up…

DSC_0804My kitchen smells like heaven. Like a fragrant tropical honey.

The boys were all very excited to see her. And she was even more excited to see them. They all wasted no time reconnecting.

DSC_0810 DSC_0812

And Adam and I also wasted no time using the free babysitting to reconnect as well…

At J Parker, Roof top Bar

At J Parker, Roof top Bar

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Japo Arrives


I drove Adam to the airport and picked Japo up on Thursday morning.

And thank goodness she was free to help me cover the kids while Adam was on a company retreat.

Because what I realized is that there is absolutely no way I could have covered all these kids and taken them outside of the house safely.

And yes, that is her, age 75, sliding down the slide at the playground.

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Japo is happy to see the kids

My mother’s Christmas tradition is to spend the day at Uncle Tony and Aunt Nenoy’s. If we are in town, we join her there.

It’s always an interesting mix. My mother is full Chinese, born and raised in Jamaica. People always find it an odd combination when I tell them this. But it’s actually not that odd to Jamaicans. In fact, Chinese in Jamaica are so prevalent that taxi drivers have nicknamed them. When you get out of the airport, they will yell, “Mrs. Chin, Mrs. Chin, you want a ride?”


Uncle Tony is Chinese from Jamaica and Aunt Nenoy is Chinese from Asia. I love to see the dichotomy it brings.  They will serve sorrel, a Jamaican Christmas drink of rum, sorrel leaves, sugar, ginger and cinnamon. It tastes kind of like mulled wine without the tart taste that the wine adds. Next to the table with sorrel is the majong table.

Dinner includes the Jamaican rice and peas dish, which is really rice and kidney beans cooked in coconut milk. A Jamaican staple. Right next to it the Chinese staple at every meal, white rice. Jerk Chicken sidles up next to Singpore noodles in a harmonious blend.

The White Elephant Game

Every year they play the white elephant game. You know the game, where everyone brings a gift, you pick a number, then you get to open a gift or steal from someone who already has a gift. Mom brought three gifts, one for her, one for Jack and one for Ben. Ben fell asleep in the car over and missed the fun, but Jack took his number and surprisingly opened a perfect gift for him. Avengers puzzle, glow stick, and disguistingly sticky superman gummy. He opened a back and neck massager for his Japo and pencils, puzzles, dominos and coloring book for himself.

Disgustingly Sticky Superman Gummy

Everyone was super helpful watching our brood of kids. With my hands free I ended up eating three platefuls of dinner and grazing the dessert table even more. So good, so good.

Is that purple or fuchsia?

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On Becoming Your Mother

There are many ways the phrase “you’ve become your mother” can be flattering to me. Her joy de vivre for food and travel, how much energy she has for her age, and how young she’s managed to look. However, not everything about that statement is always flattering.

This morning Mom and I were talking about the wash. She mentioned she is missing a pair of underwear. The underwear probably got mixed up in my drawer. Did I have it? She wanted to know.

What did it look like? White? Hanes?

Well that’s what I’m wearing these days, due to my c-section. I need granny underwear that doesn’t cut into my scar.

And that’s when Adam turned to me and said, “I just want to go on record here that you are wearing the same underwear as your mother.”

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Zoo Lights

Zoo Lights, Lincoln Park Zoo

Last night we decided to visit the Lincoln Park Zoo for their annual Zoo Lights.

It was unusually warm which made it very pleasant to be outside. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea as us. Or maybe it was because it was opening night. Either way it was packed. A big open space with lots of exits, huge crowds and darkness are a lethal combo for a mom of young kids. I spend a lot of time screaming at them to stay close. I didn’t care if I looked like the crazy mom who yells. I wanted to see my kids at all times!!!

Roya and Ben riding the Train

The kids didn’t seem to mind. As long as they all had each other (we trolled around with 7 boys, ages 1 – 6 for most of the evening) they were happy. Mom tip: I finally told them to form a train. They held onto each other’s shoulders and shouted ‘choo-choo’ and ‘all-aboard’. It kept them all together which was a great relief to me.

The actual zoo lights are free but if you park in the lot it will cost you $17 for the first 3 hours. It’s pretty amazing what they’ve done and I highly suggest going down for a look. They run November 25–27, then again from December 2–4 and 9–11. Finally they open nightly starting December 16–January 1 (Closed Dec. 24 & 25).

Besides walking around to see the lights, you can also see ice carvings, do holiday crafts, see Santa and also see some animals. Lots of the indoor exhibits are open, as well as the train and carousel. The food kiosks like popcorn truck are open too.

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Thanksgiving 2011

This year we celebrated a little differently than in previous years. We added 15 more people! You would think this would add a lot of stress to the preparations, but actually it made everything much easier.

Pam's Pumpkin Pies

We decided to do pot-luck. Not only did this drastically reduce the amount of hours my mom and I slaved in front of the stove, but it added another great surprise. People all have their special dishes that they do really well. We got the best of the best. My mother’s cranberry chutney and sweet potato casserole. Cindy’s stuffing and famous cookies. Pam’s white chocolate pumpkin pie. Bubbie’s apple pie.

I’m hoping it was more fun for the adults. I know the kids had a blast. At one point Adam decided it was time to use the piñata that his mother’s gave us for Halloween. All the kids left with another bag full of candy. In fact, I don’t think Ben ate anything last night besides candy and cookies!

Kiddie Table

Adam also gave a touching speech about how it’s all about friends and family in life. I was amazed how coherent it was considering he once again woke up that morning at 3am to go to the office and worked a 12 hour day before coming home to a house full of screaming, running, laughing kids.

I know lots of you reading aren’t living in America, but for those who are American or living here, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

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School Mates

Summer is ending. You can feel the chill in the air. It’s the perfect weather but unlike the beginning of summer, this gorgeous weather comes with a sense of foreboding. Freezing winter is lurking somewhere out there.

Once again change brings mixed emotions. On the one hand I’m starting to make lists of all the things I will accomplish when Jack returns to school. On the other hand, I’ll miss him terribly when he first goes back.

Playing with their matching Transformers

For now all I can do is try to squeeze as much fun and enjoyment out of what little time I have left of good weather and days with no place to be.

Yesterday was Japo’s last day in Chicago. I took full advantage by having another play date for Jack with Kaden. At this age, having another kid to look after actually makes my life easier. Especially when the kid is an angel.

I’m hoping all these school mate play dates will help Jack get more excited about going back to school. He’s already asking when it’s time to go back so maybe it’s working. Or maybe he’s just sick of me!

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Japo Visit the Morton Arboretum

Today we took Japo out of the hustle and bustle of city living and into nature.

I know I keep saying how much I love this place, but each time I go we have yet another new and completely different experience. The crazy part is that we’ve seen less than 10% of what it has to offer.

Japo and Jack in the Children's Garden

Japo loved the perfect temperature. She also enjoyed seeing the Arboretum because it satifisied one of her favorite hobbies – exploring new places. Jack and Ben’s favorite part of the day was spending time with Papa.

Do it Again, Papa!

Adam takes Jack for Soccer Practice

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