Nothing beats a little getaway weekend with the family. A few hours away is the beautiful Western part of Maryland where it touches Virginia and West Virginia. The scenery was gorgeous and the vibe, very chill. A little antique shopping, a few Civil sites, great ice cream…we were all happy. It was a good trip but I’m always glad to return to my cozy house in Annapolis. A few more weeks until school starts. You can almost feel the change in the air, or maybe just the cooler temperatures after 90 degrees + we have had lately. Either way , I’m relaxing on the porch!
It is time to put away the bright, patriotic decor of early summer and embrace the muted colors of August. I love faded hydrangeas and summer roses against a white background. I love the sight and sound of the birds outside my window and I love the fresh produce so readily available. Simple and beautiful is the world in August…and a little humid. It was a great day to spend inside adding some touches to my home while the temperatures were blazing outside. How is your summer going? Are you loving it or looking forward to the crisp fall temperatures?
July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month
Sometime, in the early stages of our adoption journey, my husband and I had to make the difficult decision as to what special need child files we would be open to review. With the average wait of 6 years and climbing for “healthy” girls from China, the special needs program offered a shorter wait and often included very minor or correctable needs.
After much prayer we listed the needs we felt we could manage and waited for God to put his plan into action. Flash forward about 6 months and we received that highly anticipated phone call and email file! As I gazed at that beautiful face I noticed her big brown eyes and smooth skin, her adorable ears and her gentle hands…I did not even notice her unrepaired unilateral complete cleft…it just did not matter, she was our baby.
Our Princess was 20 months old and living in the remote mountains of Northern China.
There are many risk factors that can increase the likelihood of birth defects. While some causes are still unknown, genetics and family history, pre-existing medical conditions, poor nutrition and exposure to harmful environmental substances can affect the healthy development of a baby. As a result, these factors could also be the cause of a baby born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. We will never know why it happened, but we will never know where her outstanding fine motor skills and dimples came from either…and that’s OK.
But what is a cleft palate/lip? A cleft is a gap in the mouth that didn’t close during the early stages of pregnancy, and this kind of birth defect happens more often than you may realize. It is estimated that, worldwide, a child is born every 3 minutes with a cleft — about one in 500-750 births. Sometimes a cleft condition can be easy to see because it’s an opening in the lip. Sometimes it’s harder to tell if someone has a cleft because it’s an opening in the roof of their mouth (called the palate.)
Our Princess after we met her in China, already charming her Mama and Baba
Cleft lip and cleft palate can be repaired through a series of surgeries and orthondontics. While it can be corrected, it really is not an “easy fix”…despite what you may see in Operation Smile advertising. Our brave girl has had 3 major surgeries and some pretty extensive speech therapy with quite a few more surgeries in her future and orthodontic procedures continuing into her young adulthood.
Her first surgery at Johns Hopkins
Our Princess is spunky and sweet. She is tremendously brave and the joy of our home. We can’t imagine life without her.
Peanut butter cookies are a definite comfort food for me. We needed a little comfort this week…maybe a lot of comfort. Anyway, peanut butter cookies for my people were the first order of business today. The Princess and I even tested out a cookie press I found in my drawer for the first HUGE cookies. They smell divine and are already half gone!
The Usual Cast of Characters
1 1/3 cup (188g) all-purpose flour (scoop and level to measure)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (105g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup (185g) creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 18 by 13-inch cookie sheets with silicone baking liners or parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined.
Mix in peanut butter then blend in egg and vanilla. With mixer set on low speed slowly add in flour mixture and mix just until combined.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Scoop dough out and shape into balls (30 grams each or nearly 2 Tbsp) then place on baking sheets spacing them 2-inches apart.
Using a long pronged fork flatten cookies slightly then turn fork going opposite direction and flatten just slightly again (it should create that criss cross pattern) or use a cookie press!
Bake cookies in preheated oven, one sheet at a time, for about 9 minutes (cookies will appear pale and slightly under-baked, they’ll continue to cook slightly as they cool).
Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies and an airtight container