What’s Your Name, Sweet One?

When you’re pregnant, you’re a planner, and you’re OCD like me, you want to name that baby. Specifically, you’d like to name that baby so you can speak about it without saying “it” all the time. Hubby rarely wants to talk names until we know the gender around 20 weeks, which I guess I understand, but still… isn’t it fun to think of names?! Even really silly ones you know you’d never use?!

Naming a child is serious business. They keep it forever… they can truly become the name. It helps mold them into themselves. The pressure is on, in other words, to choose wisely.

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When naming EK, I knew immediately the route I wanted to take. I’d had a dream about four months before I got pregnant with her that I had a baby girl named Ella Katharine. I specifically remember in my dream that Katharine was spelled like Katharine Hepburn (and yes, that was the association in my mind). However, when we got pregnant and started talking names, we wanted to use family names. So I started looking for something approximating Ella and Katharine in our families. And of course, nada for both. However, I came up with a way to honor two wonderful women, and mostly keep with the name for my daughter that I had dreamed of. EK’s full name is Elena Kathleen, and we call her Ella Kate. Elena is my mom’s first name (who goes by her middle name, by the way) and Kathleen is my ,om’s mom’s mom’s name – my maternal great-grandmother, Mamaw, whom I knew and loved for my first 18 years. I was so pleased with the full name, the nickname, and the whole idea of it that I knew it couldn’t be topped.

When naming our son, we had a different thought – no dream this time to help us out. We still wanted to use family names though, and when we found out it was a boy, we had it narrowed down to two options. We knew his middle name would be Stevens (Hubby’s mom’s maiden name, and middle name of Hubby’s middle brother) but we had two first names we’d tied with. Both were family names, and both had been used a few times within the family. We ended up choosing Joseph, Hubby’s dad’s name, and also Hubby’s eldest brother’s first name (which he doesn’t go by). We literally covered all Hubby’s immediate family with his full name, Joseph Stevens. It worked out really well!

Now that we’ve used two names from my family and two names from Hubby’s, we haven’t decided whether we want to use more family names (we have several more we’d love to incorporate) or whether we want to go completely out of the box. Obviously we don’t know gender yet, so Hubby hasn’t made too many contributions to the conversation, but my mind is spinning with possibilities, options for pleasant-sounding double names if it’s a girl (I do love a good, southern, double name.) or strong, handsome boy names.

image from birth.com.au

The main problem I have thinking about baby names is the same problem I had picking tile for the bathroom floor, and paint color for the walls: I like everything. I literally like so many different things that it’s difficult for me to choose. I love Biblical names and their accompanying history. I love Celtic names and the way they sound when you speak them. I love strong, traditional, common names, that everyone will know how to pronounce and spell. I love family names and the honor we can give to people we love. I love non-traditional, unique names – to an extent. But let’s be honest: I shan’t be using “Apple” or “Blue”.

I came across this app (now I can’t even remember where I read about it) called Baby Name Genius, and it took over my life for a little bit. A name pops up, you give it the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”, and it generates a name you might like, based on your previous opinions. I wasted several minutes (read: hours) throughout a couple of days giving my approval or disapproval of names, until I felt like it was giving me the same names over and over again (including ones I had thumbs-downed!). Bummer. It says the app has tens of thousands of names. I didn’t see that many. Anyway, I’ve been doing random research reading lists of celebrity baby names, names for girls based on adventurous women, names for boys based on sensitive men, you get the idea. Reading short lists is better than starting at “A” on nameberry.com.

All this is to say that I’m going to post a few fun or funky lists of names that have caught my eye for one reason or another. But you’ll have to wait. I don’t want to give it all away in one post! How dare I? Make you come back?! I know. I’m stringing you along, aren’t I? Hopefully these baby-naming posts will culminate in an actual decision about what Hsu Baby #3 will be called! If you’d like to weigh in with a suggestion, leave it in the comments!

Reading Challenge 2015

So I’m an avid reader of Daily Geekette and have finally decided to join them in doing POPSUGAR’s Reading Challenge in 2015. The reason that I love this challenge more than other book lists is the free-will option they’ve added in. Instead of giving me a list of 20 must-reads, they’ve given a list for which thousands of books can apply to each category. I LOVE the freedom in it, and am excited to see if I can finish during this year! Hubby and I have been reading more than watching TV recently (a big accomplishment for two parents who like to zone wayyyyy out after the kids are in bed).

I will give you the disclaimer that I’m not going to read 50 different (well, 52, since one requirement is a trilogy) books… I’m going to let a few fill several categories at once. For instance, a book that made you cry could be almost anything for me – especially right now while I’m pregnant!

Reading Challenge 2015


I’ll tell you a few of the books that I’ve already read this year that are going to qualify for different categories:

I just finished the Divergent Trilogy (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant) about a week ago. It could be my trilogy, a book that became a movie, a book with a one-word title, a book that a friend recommended, a book set in the future, and a book that made me cry. I don’t need it to fill all those categories, because I can easily fill several of those. But I’m going to let the series be my trilogy, and Divergent will be my book that became a movie. If I need to switch it to the book set in the future instead of the movie one, I can. I’m flexible!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? could be my mystery, although I wouldn’t be sad to read more mysteries. What Alice Forgot made me cry, and was written by a woman. I’m going to read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, to fulfill my book I haven’t read by an author that I love. When I pick back up the Outlander series (I got through the third book and took a break from Jamie and Claire), those are over 500 pages and also turned into a TV series!

How many of y’all would like to join me on my book quest?! I know there are several of you who enjoyed my reviews of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? and What Alice Forgot and gave me some suggestions of what to read next! So now, I’ll have a million recommendations from friends! If you give me a suggestion, tell me which category it might fulfill!

Can’t wait to make 2015 a year of reading. Join me!

Being Intentional vs. Relinquishing Control


I’m about to be brutally honest, y’all.

I’m struggling to find a balance in my life right now.

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I want to live intentionally. I want to be intentional. An intentional Christian. An intentional wife. An intentional mother. An intentional friend. This leaves me floundering in things I want to do and “need” to do to keep relationships up and chores, etc done. I’m finding that I want control in so many areas so that my intentionality shows through. Basically, my OCD is going nuts over making sure every single thing I do has a reason and a good result.

The real result? I’m being so controlling that there is no grace and no room for error. You know who errors a lot? Kids. Husbands. Wives. Friends. People. EVERY SINGLE PERSON. I’m turning into an angry monster when things don’t go my way. (Hormones, much?) I’m realizing that being intentional isn’t the only thing that matters. And if I fail a little at being intentional, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve achieved the opposite – some sort of willy-nilly disregard for results or consequences.

I need to reign myself in, and let Jesus increase in my life. I’m not leaning on Him enough. I know this to be true, because doing things on my own, I will fail every time. I’m not bringing Him glory by trying to control everything in the name of being intentional. But I could bring Him glory by letting myself decrease, and letting Him increase.


I’m not saying this is easy for me. Actually, it’s one of the more difficult things I’ll ever do. Relinquish control over situations, over life in general? Yeah right. I’m good at organizing and managing. I can handle it, right? Well, I can’t. I’m realizing it more and more every day that I try. I can’t be  a graceful parent without receiving the grace the Father has for me. I can’t be a wife who loves her husband unconditionally unless I receive the unconditional love from my heavenly Bridegroom. I can’t be a friend who listens and loves well, unless I am loved and renewed by my Savior and Friend.

Remember my New Year’s Resolution that wasn’t a resolution? To embrace it: life, my situation, whatever “it” was? Well, this is all going to be part of that – make it easier, even. Embrace my situation by relinquishing my control over it, and choosing to see myself, others, and my life the way God does. Seeing the world through His eyes instead of my judgmental, small-minded view could change everything for the better! I’m just taking the very first step in making that change… admitting that I need one.

Siblings Will Be Siblings

Sometimes, my kids argue. They may argue without words, but they argue. Over toys, over who gets to sit in Mom’s lap, over eating each other’s food, and being in each other’s space. There are some thoughts that I’m sure are going through their heads:

That toy is mine, so you can’t play with it. That toy is yours, so you can play with it, and so can I when I want to.

If he gets to eat spaghetti for lunch, then I don’t want the PBJ I asked for.

I woke up my brother so we could play together, but after five minutes I’m tired of him.

Why does she get to take things from me, but she yells “NO!” if I take something from her?

But sometimes, they’ll have fun together. EK crawls around chasing J to pretend like she’s a baby, too. J laughs whenever EK laughs. J does something silly, and EK automatically copies him. They sit across from each other at the table at breakfast and sing songs. I can’t even describe how much it warms my heart to hear giggles and squealing throughout the house as they play together.

The other night after dinner was one of those times. We’ve got a sofa in our kitchen (something we saw when we visited when looking to buy the house, and then wrote into the contract because we loved it) and it’s a place of hang time before or after dinner most nights. On this particular night, we postponed the usual clean up to watch the kids squeal and throw pillows. Here’s a glimpse:

These are the times that give me hope in their friendship throughout life, and the times that I’m glad their ages are close, even though sometimes I’m swamped in their messes and laundry and tears. I remember why they’re my favorite people to be with and how much I adore them.

10 Reasons I Want to Throw a Toddler Tantrum

This post also appeared on MyBigJesus.com!


Does anyone else wish they could hit the floor, scream at the top of their lungs, and cry it out?

1. I use wrinkle cream around my eyes, and acne-prevention face wash. At the same time.

2. The snack I made was for me, not the tiny pairs of hands that keep stealing it.

3. My coffee doesn’t reheat itself.

4. I want to take a nap, so why don’t my kids?!

5. I am angry that I don’t know the sound a rabbit makes, too.

6. I’m swimming in laundry. Seriously.

7. I just put those puzzles together, for crying out loud.

8. I can’t drink wine while pregnant.

9.  I was using the laptop! And no, I didn’t want to watch Frozen!

10. I want to go to sleep at 9:00pm, but I can’t, because my toddler doesn’t want to.

Smoothie with a Punch

I’ve been really enjoying smoothies during my pregnancy. My heartburn sometimes gets pretty bad, so cold things are my favorite to eat right now.

Today’s smoothie was an everything-I-had-in-the-freezer smoothie.

I also sometimes put in peanut butter, but I only had Jif (with sugar in it) and no natural pb so I left it out. I don’t always have so many ingredients, but I just didn’t say no to anything.

I try to make most of the fruit be frozen. I just like the consistency better that way. Some of it is obviously store-bought, and some is fresh frozen. (If berries are on sale, or if my bananas get too ripe, I freeze them.)

I put the dry grains in first. Today it was oatmeal and flaxseed meal. That way they grind down finer and don’t clump as much as if you just dump them in with the wet stuff. Then I added some almond milk, then the fruit (all frozen except the blueberries) and the plain Greek yogurt. Then I keep adding almond milk till it was smooth and blending well. I never seem to add the right amount from the get go, and have to keep adding it in later.

What do you like in your smoothie? What’s a healthy thing you toss in so you get the benefit without the taste?



How I Got Us Through the Grocery Store

IMG_9194The other day, the kids and I needed to get out of the house, and I needed a few things from Costco. So naturally, I called a friend who I knew would be free, and said “Meet me there!”

I packed what I thought were adequate snacks, bundled the kids into their winter gear (it was 30 degrees MAYBE) and braved the store.

Lauren met me a few minutes later than we got there. She didn’t even need anything – just wanted to tag along. It was only my second time at Costco (We just got our membership. It is awesome!) so I was doing a lot of wandering. After a few rows of “boring” things like Swiffers and canned tomatoes (read: fantastically priced things that convinced us to get a membership in the first place), we finally got to the fun part: the grocery section. This is where there are yummy samples, as far as the eye can see. Everything from quiche to little fruit-and-nut-bites, covered in chocolate. Lauren, the kids, and I had a bite of everything under the sun. This seemed to appease them. Then I tried again to look at boring things. We ate the snacks from the diaper bag. This seemed to appease them…

THEN IT WAS ALL OVER. They were done. Just like that. So what did I do? Well, food is everything to my kids, so naturally I opened up the package of blueberries. Yeah, I did. I fed them to my kids, unwashed, in the middle of the store, (GASP!) before I had paid for them. They weren’t sold by weight, so I didn’t cheat anyone. But here’s hoping my kids don’t have some crazy disease from the unwashed California blueberries.

Has anyone else had a similar time of need in a store? Opened some food before you bought it? Let your kids do something… they shouldn’t have..?

13 Week Bump Date, Ultrasound, and Renovation Update!

I can’t promise I’m going to do these updates every week, what with renovations and kiddos and all, but I can give it a shot!

I’m happy to say I have some energy back I’m still accidentally taking naps here and there, but at least not so exhausted that I have to nap every day. I’m glad to be able to do my thing without headaches and everything. I haven’t gained much weight – only about three pounds – but I’ve definitely got a little more belly than usual. Too bad it doesn’t look like a cute little bump yet. It’s mostly just a “did you eat a large dinner?” sort of belly. Yikes.

Yesterday, we went for our first ultrasound, and it was so awesome. That never gets less incredible, no matter how many times you see your unborn baby on that screen. It’s amazing to see hands and feet and a button nose, that looks just like Sister’s. Another thing that was totally adorable was EK, pointing at the screen, saying, “My baby! That’s my baby!” I pretty much cried, seeing the ownership she’s already taking of that little soul. What a good sister.

Our little jellybean, with the cutest button nose, waving hello!
Our little jellybean, with the cutest button nose, waving hello!

The one thing we did find out at the ultrasound is that our screening for chromosomal abnormalities came back positive. They took some blood, and I will get those test results back in two weeks. So pray that the blood test comes back totally normal, and that we won’t have any chromosomal disorders to worry about. My doctor didn’t seem worried to see the first screening positive, so we are trying (as hard as we can) not to worry either.

Our basement renovations are going well! There are lots of things happening, and more than just demo now! Temporary walls are going up, plumbing is being moved and updated, wiring is being secured, and we are seeing lots of progress! Here are a few pictures so you can see some of the craziness:

This one long room used to be Hubby's music studio (on the far side of the stairwell) and will now be two bedrooms!
This one long room used to be Hubby’s music studio (on the far side of the stairwell) and will now be two bedrooms! The perspective is from the family room (former and future).
This is today's project: Jackammering through the floor to lay a new pipe for the laundry room. The fireplace there looked like that after they removed the veneer. Disturbingly messy brick laying, but the contractor says it's strong and sound, so they're leaving it.
This was today’s project: Jackhammering through the floor to lay a new pipe for the laundry room. The fireplace there looked like that after they removed the veneer. Disturbingly messy brick laying, but the contractor says it’s strong and sound, so they’re leaving it.

We’ve been spending every other day or so at Hubby’s parents’ house, which serves a double purpose… our kids can nap, and we can also get some laundry done while we’re here. It’s a nice way to be away from a loud and dusty home!

So there’s a little life update for you. What’s going on in your life?!

Pregnant With My Third! (Volume 7)

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Written at 11 weeks.

I. Am. So. Hormonal. It’s pitiful. I cry often, I yell often. It’s almost like pregnancy bi-polar. Who am I? A tired mommy who gets frustrated at little things and cries about it. Yep.

Have you ever seen the movie Juno? Do you know the song that’s in the movie, a duet by a guy and girl who are only okay singers, and there are some weird lyrics, but “I don’t see what anyone could see in anyone else buuuuuuuut you.”? Yeah. There’s a line about “shiny, happy fits of rage”. I can’t get it out of my head, because sometimes that’s what it feels like. What can I say? I’m a weirdo right now.

I’m starting to show a little bit, so I guess it’s good that it’s winter and I can wear chunky sweaters and leggings. That’s about all I feel good in anyway. I had my first nurse visit today, where we talked about genetics, previous pregnancies, symptoms and future testing, and they took about a gallon of blood. I’ve been feeling really well though, so it was nice to answer “no” to a bunch of questions she asked me. The ultrasound is on the calendar, which is exciting, because who doesn’t love to see their tiny jellybean, squirming around!?

I’ve been craving smoothies, which is good. I pack them full of apple juice and spinach, so that they taste good while being healthy. The fruit that goes in almost doesn’t matter… usually there’s some blueberries and strawberries, a banana, some peaches maybe, or some other berries I’ve got around. At least half the fruit I put in is frozen, so that the finished product’s got a good consistency. I also put some oatmeal and some almond milk in so that there’s a punch to keep me full. Yay smoothies!

Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Just being hormonal and drinking smoothies. It’s been a little while since I’ve written a pregnancy update, so I felt like I needed to do it!

The Unintentional Pampers Challenge, Part Deux

All size 4: Pampers (crushed in the diaper bag), Huggies, Kirkland/Costco, and Babies R Us. Which do you use?

When I asked you about diapers, you – the readers! – had a lot to say! I’ve broken down the info to help myself and help you, if you’re like me, and you want an expensive but reliable way to keep all the bottoms (and the clothes, and the sheets) dry.

The most common answer for the diapers you love is Pampers. I’m pretty much there with you. They’re basically the most expensive, but the cost seems to be worth it for most of us.

The next best thing sounds like Luvs. I’ve never even bought/used those at all, so I’m taking your advice. Next time I buy diapers, I’m going with a box of Luvs to try them out on the kiddos. From what you said, they’re less expensive than Pampers, but just as good!

I also heard great things about Honest Company and 7th Generation, mostly about how they’re great for the baby and great for the environment. Well, I’m convicted. I’ve heard great things about 7th Gen for a long time, and have wanted to try their diapers in the past, and I feel the same way about Honest Company, except that their expensive. I don’t really need my diapers to be adorable (I’m looking at you, Honest Company, and your delightful cupcakes and colorful hot air balloons) but I do need them to be affordable. I mean, I’m diapering two kiddos right now (EK still won’t be consistent about pottying. More on than later.) and while hopefully it’ll be only two when the next baby is born, I’m thinking that EK might still be in a nighttime diaper then anyway.

Lots of you say you use Huggies Overnights during the night and something cheaper during the day. I totally feel you on this. Especially if you’re potty training one, and it’s staying dry most of the day (or even some of the day) it seems like “Who cares what sort of diaper it is?!” I’ve never bought the Huggies Overnights, but maybe I need to! How much more expensive are they, someone?

The last awesome thing I heard was that Up&Up (Target) and Amazon Elements (Amazon.com) were possibly gonna be just as useful for daytime. That’s great, because who isn’t at Target all the time? And who doesn’t love diapers delivered to your door?!

Things you didn’t like: Wal-Mart brand, Sam’s brand (coincidence? Probably not.) and regular Huggies (with a couple exceptions).

Oh, by the way. Another hilarious side note from all my reader responses… Several of you mentioned having “super pee-ers” and almost all of you who said that said it in the same way. Well, I think I’m among you. Super pee-ers, unite!

So now I’ve got a to do list. I’m going to try Luvs. I’m going to try Huggies Overnights. I’m going to try Up&Up. I’m gonna try Amazon Elements. I’m also (gasp!) going to borrow some gdiapers from a friend, and try those, now that my kids are out of the new-diaper-every-two-hours stage. Because that’s a lot of laundry, am I right?

I’ll keep you posted on the diaper challenge front. I will be your diaper champion, and we will celebrate having the least-leaky, most affordable option! (Oh my. What a mom thing to say.)