Family and Food – Hsus Do New York

More New York City fun… Here’s what we did Sunday and Monday!

On Sunday (our second day), my mom and I woke up with the kids, packed them up, left Hubby in bed, and went to search for bagels. Thankfully, we found a DELICIOUS bagel place  less than a block away. It was inexpensive and had more than just bagels (fresh fruit, good coffee, juice, pasta salad, etc).   I think it was called “Bagel Express II” but I’m not sure. When we had eaten and collected Hubby, we visited FAO Schwartz and hung out on the east side of Central Park. It was great weather to just peruse the area, eat some street food, and think of some things to do during the week.

Enjoying some street meat - lamb gyro to be exact.
Enjoying some street meat – lamb gyro to be exact.
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EK in her princess crown with her beloved cockatoo (cah-ah-too)
J deciding if he wants a new tiger.
J deciding if he wants a new tiger.

For dinner, we decided on the Italian restaurant on the corner near our hotel, Tony’s di Napoli. It was delicious, however very crowded and slow. We didn’t anticipate having a two hour dinner that began at almost 7:30. We ended up giving J a bottle to put him to sleep and sending EK back to the room with my mom for a bath while we waited for the check and boxes for our food. It was a little hectic, but their food was truly delicious.

On Monday, lots more things were open again, and we could really get in to some fun things! First, we visited the Natural History Museum with Hubby’s cousin Becca. She’s an awesome lady – a jazz singer in NYC who always makes time to hang out with our littles. (Her website, by the way, is here. Check her out because her music is ridiculously amazing.) We looked at tons of animals, and watched the show in their planetarium (totally amazing) and both the babes even loved it!

Cousin love.
Cousin love.

We followed that up with an delicious Vegan lunch at Peacefood Cafe, coffee at Irving Farm, and then Mom, the kids and I went back to the hotel for naps. (I won’t lie… an afternoon nap schedule suited me JUST FINE because I was pooped by then also.) Hubby went with Becca to a famous guitar store and played zillion-dollar guitars all afternoon (he came back a very happy camper). Miranda (another of Hubby’s cousins, who had lunch with us) came over to the hotel for dinner (take out) and brought us some teeny-tiny cupcakes, which we ate on all week!

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Miranda snuggling big J, the hippie.

That night, Mom kept the kids so Hubby and I could go out on the town. We went to the East Village to a favorite spot of yet another of Hubby’s cousins (Katie – sister of Becca) who used to live in the city. Drop Off Service used to be a laundromat, and kept the name when the space converted to a bar. Small, intimate and homey, lots of good beers on draft, and in a trendy neighborhood for the piece de la resistance.

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This is the pic stitch we sent to Katie to guess where we were!

We walked from Drop Off Service to a little Irish pub, O’Hanlon’s Bar, where we played some darts. I won both games, of course. It’s worth bragging about because it’s the only thing I’ve ever beaten Hubby at. Just give it to me, okay?

Stay tuned for one more NYC post in the series… I’m having a blast writing about it! Check out some of those links, and leave some comments about places we should try next time!

 

 

Keep Calm and Mother On

*This post appeared on MyBigJesus.com*

I have a two year old. They’re clumsy. They haven’t been walking all that long, and they don’t pay much attention to anything. Those two simple things make me wonder why EK isn’t more banged up than she already is. She’s got probably ten little bruises on her knees and shins alone. Like today, leaving the house, she bounded across the front porch and completely ignored the one step down to the sidewalk… and fell. (Cue face palm.)

But the other night, she got her second (you read correctly) black eye in her short little life. The worst part about it is that Hubby, one of my girlfriends and I were all sitting right there, hanging out and playing in the floor with her. Then one wrong move, and boom. Into the brick hearth my baby’s face went. It was so fast I wasn’t even sure it happened. But you know what came next: that crying-without-making-noise thing they do. Their face is screwed up, their mouth is wide open, air is moving through there, but no sound is coming out. Then just as you think they will possibly pass out soon, in goes a huge gulp of air and out comes a wail.

EK, my friend Katelyn and me, all sad about the big booboo.
EK, my friend Katelyn and me, all sad about the big booboo.

As the mama, you set the tone for what comes next. There are two ways you can play this. #1: Give in to the panic that blood will obviously be coming out of a gaping hole, your daughter most certainly lost at least one eye, and you should prepare to head to the ER. #2: Try to keep calm. Scoop her into your arms, comfort her till the worst of the crying subsides (or at least till her breathing gets a little more normal), softly ask Hubby to get some ice, and assess the damage without any frightened screams or dramatic gasps or word vomit about how nervous you are that she will have a scar the size of Texas.

Somehow, I was able to stick with #2. I was calm on the outside, no matter how fast my heart was beating, and EK calmed down fairly quickly, too. I have learned that my reaction is everything. Even more than how she initially feels, my reaction directly affects what she will do. In this case, she milked it a little for a few extra kisses, carried around her ice for 20 minutes, but was back to normal shortly with the promise of yummy dessert after dinner. It’s amazing how a parent’s body language and words are mimicked by a little teeny girl. If I make a huge deal, so does she. If I grunt when I bend down to pick something up (like when I’m pregnant), she does the same. Seriously, it’s been six months, EK. You can stop.

My Big Jesus

I am really excited to share about a new opportunity I’ve been given. I’ve been asked (and I accepted!) to be a contributor for the My Big Jesus project – a blog about our big Jesus, who is reconciling us to himself, and blowing our minds with his forgiveness and blessing. I will be writing a few times a month, and releasing the content here on We’re Only Hsuman and on My Big Jesus as well. There are several more contributors, and also features from other blogs. All around, it’s going to be a large-scale story of redemption for people and all parts of culture. It’s gonna be… big. So like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter (@MyBigJesus) and sign up for the newsletter on the blog!

Stay tuned for posts that say “This post appeared on http://www.MyBigJesus.com” to know which ones are featured!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Hsus Do New York

Traveling with kids is no joke, friends. They require a lot of… stuff. Entertainment, food, drink, clothes, loveys, and more. Think you can pack your family into one suitcase? Think again. Think you can pack your family into two suitcases? Think again.

We took one GIANT suitcase – I’m talking L.L.Bean rolling duffel in the largest size that Hubby took skiing as a kid – and one regular large suitcase full of our stuff, two backpacks, and a regular diaper bag. Oh yeah, and an umbrella stroller. All of that didn’t include my mom, it was just Hubby, the kids, and me.

I posted on Facebook that I needed some travel tips from friends with kids… mostly about the airplane segment of the trip. You guys really came through with your tips! Everything from stroller vs. babywearing and how to keep their ears from popping to keeping EK occupied and myself sane (not to mention a few hilarious responses of valium and xanax!) Here are a few of things things you suggested that we found success with:

1. Flying out early in the morning. My kids were packed into their car seats at 6:00am, still in their pjs. This was the best ever, because EK ate a little breakfast on the way, J nursed right before we left, and no one was really awake until we were on the plane. That time frame suited us perfectly.

2. Starburst candy during take off/landing. Someone suggested to me that if EK couldn’t chew gum (We’ve never tried, but didn’t want to.) she should have Starburst in her mouth during take off and landing. Because it’s so chewy, it lasts a while, and it creates a lot of saliva and causes you to swallow often. And also, she loved it. Total win.

3. Dollar Store treasures. As I’m writing this, I realize most of this seems to be for EK, but she’s the one who needed the most entertainment. This ended up being Target $1 Spot treasures, but they worked the same. Her favorite ended up being mainly stickers. But kept her occupied waiting for dinners, on plane rides, etc.

4. Extra changes of clothes. This was obviously a necessity because I have a drooly teething 7 month old and a messy mischievous toddler. They each wore more than one outfit a day, not counting pjs, and J went through about 17 bibs. Luckily someone had gifted a pack of 6 disposable bibs to me at some point, and I had never used them, so I took them along during the day (we used them all). They were great, because when they were drenched or covered in pear puree, I tossed them.

Here are a few things that we found out through trial and error:

1. Babywearing is the best and easiest way to lug babies/young kids around. We took a ring sling, a Boba, and an umbrella stroller as means of getting the babies around. J spent 85% of his time on the trip in the Boba, simply because he can’t yet sit in a restaurant high chair, we were on the go during his morning nap time, and he is “mommyfied” right now, at best. EK was usually either in the stroller or walking with us, but whenever she got restless, or J got hot, we just swapped them. Best plan ever, because neither had a chance to tire of their location too much, I didn’t have a bulky double stroller to deal with, and J could nap while I wore him, so he didn’t tire out too quickly.
One side note: Subways are tricky. Lots of stairs (elevators were present, but often farther away), and strollers don’t often fit through turnstiles. Just plan a few extra minutes if you’re traveling that way.

2. Never underestimate the power of cell phone games/videos. I have several educational games/videos on my phone that EK can play or watch, even without internet. That was super helpful all the way around, everywhere we were. I typically don’t let her indulge in too much screen time, but there were a few times that she was fussy (read: tired) or we needed her to stick in the stroller a bit longer (because we were almost to our destination) that the cell phone did the trick for a few minutes. Because she doesn’t play on there all the time, she didn’t get bored when we needed to occupy her for a few minutes. (Favorite apps: Grandma’s Garden, Pitch Painter, Peekaboo Barn, The Wheels on the Bus and ABCMouse.com A-Z Music Videos)

3. Make time for nap time. I know it seems like a pain when the kids get sleepy and you’re in the middle of something – believe me, that was pretty much our whole week. But I really do think our week was better because we stuck to a little bit of a routine with the naps. Every afternoon, we’d go back to the hotel for EK’s nap time. Sometimes it took extra effort to get her down, but it was always a nice respite for all of us. Some of you seasoned mamas are clucking at me, saying “Of course you should’ve known that!” and you’re right. But when EK didn’t seem tired, and she loved the boat ride, we needn’t have tarried, because the brick wall of exhaustion was hovering, waiting to crash down.

4. Snacks upon snacks upon snacks. This was the key to our happiness. Fruit purees for both kids, bottles of milk or juice, pretzels from the street carts, all were life savers. My kids get it from me… hangry is their worst mood.

5. Always bring the lovey, no matter what. My kids love swaddles. Neither of them were actually swaddled for that long, but they love having one while they sleep (mostly to stuff in their mouths. Weird, right?) We don’t let EK have hers unless it’s naptime or bedtime, because she would just walk around with it in her mouth and dragging behind her. We’re a little more lenient with J right now since he’s younger, but still he doesn’t get it all the time or EK would just take it. We always had one in the diaper bag when we left the hotel because if one got really upset, I knew that would be a way to help calm them down, or help them fall asleep while I was wearing them if they got really tired and we near the hotel.

Do you have some stellar travel tips I didn’t hear before my trip? I need to know them for the next one!

Hsus Do New York!

This past week, we Hsus took NYC by storm. Hubby had a college friend who got married on Saturday night, so we packed up our fam (and my super flexible mama) and flew up to make a week of it. This week will be a series of posts about the trip – traveling, things we did, places we ate, etc. for your enjoyment and future trip planning!

We arrived in NYC Saturday morning, so we had most of the day to bum around and settle in before the wedding. Our first stop was our amazing hotel, Affinia Gardens. On East 64th between 2nd and 3rd avenues, it’s situated in the upper east side (of midtown – right on the cusp), convenient to the subway and several delicious restaurants and cute shops, and filled with the nicest folks you’ll meet. Every single employee of the hotel, concierge to maid, were incredibly helpful and nice. Our suite was huge, clean, and well-kept all week. It also had a mini kitchen with some dishes, a full-size fridge, a microwave and a DISHWASHER! Crazy talk for a NYC hotel. I forgot to take a photo of the room, but check out their website here.

We spent that afternoon before naps in Chinatown for some dim sum. Hubby’s brother Hartley said the best dim sum in NYC was at Golden Unicorn. I’m convinced he was right. Dim sum is definitely an experience, and however fast-paced and crazy it may feel, it was delicious and actually not too expensive (at least at this location). Servers with carts stop by your table with the little bamboo containers full of steaming food on them, and you just say what you want or don’t want. It’s right there on the cart, so you just eat and get more and eat more. It’s the best fast food ever! Visit Golden Unicorn’s website here.

The wedding itself was incredible- at the Yale Club in Manhattan. Easily the most glamorous and delicious wedding I’ll attend… for a long time anyway. A beautiful bride and handsome groom who love each other and their friends/family very well made for a gorgeous ceremony and fun evening.

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Hubby (right) and his oldest brother, Hartley, classing it up big time.
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Sunset from the Yale Club’s rooftop (22 floors up) during cocktail hour.
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A little hard to see us, but the only (non-wedding-photographer) picture of Hubby and me from that night.
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Yes, I took a picture of the ceiling. Isn’t it gorgeous?!
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Can someone tell me what this building is? Because it was gorgeous from a block away.

I wish I had some pictures of the band that played the reception. They were a party band for sure, about ten of them, amazing singers and fabulous instrumentalists. They played R&B and pop and blew it out of the water. Hubby and I danced all night. ALL NIGHT.

Whelp, that’s our first day in NYC in a nutshell. Stay tuned for the next installment of “Hsus Do New York” tomorrow!

Quick New York City Update!

To stray from the norm… I’m going to share a quick list of things I’ve loved about this trip so far…

1. Weddings at the Yale Club are stupid amazing. It’s gorgeous, the food was fantastic, and the weather just so happened to be perfect.

2. Museums, museums, museums. That is all.

3. So many restaurants, so little time.

4. Public transportation is the best people watching.

5. “Street Meat” is what Hubby calls anything from a street vendor. Our favorite so far have been the most amazing gyros we’ve ever had. We might never get all tzatziki sauce off our shoes, but it was worth it.

6. I don’t know who said New Yorkers weren’t friendly, but they were lying. I love this place! Everyone is kind, thinks my kid are cute, and doesn’t mind when I chat them up. I call that a win.

More to come later!

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How It Looks From Here

I got an interesting comment the other morning. The person said, “I’ve just been reading your blog. Final verdict: parenthood sounds hard.” It was in the middle of a good-natured comment from an old friend, but still took me a little off guard. My first reaction is “Duh! An hour at my house is the only birth control you’ll ever need!” But then, I wondered if I hadn’t been portraying my life the right way. Am I posting too many things that are frustrating or annoying or hard or sad? Should I be glossing over those difficult parts and highlighting only the good? I don’t want anyone to think I have an unusually difficult time with my kids. But I don’t want you to think I have an unusually easy time, either. I just want to be real. Encouraging, but real. (My thoughts on that a little more in depth here.)

Parenthood can look like all sorts of things at different times, different seasons, and to different people. Motherhood can look wonderful. It can look hectic. It can look easy. It can look good, bad, crazy, scary, or sad, depending on the moment. There are times full of snuggles and smiles and eating all the food on their plate and going to bed on time. There are times of skipping naps, toddler tantrums, picky eating, snotty noses, poop-splosions (read about those here) and breaking down to cry. It’s ridiculous how quickly you can go from thinking, “Awesome! I’m doing it! This is great!” to “I can’t wait for Hubby to get home so I can sit down.” or “When does school start back, again?”

In the moments when my toddler has finally fallen asleep, and I’m still laying in her bed, spooning her, for fear she’ll wake up if I move, I drink in the snuggles. I thank God for the moments like this, when she turns back into a baby again, blanket in her mouth (gross, I know) and face softened to chubby cheeks and eyelashes. And maybe I cry a little bit, because I yelled when I shouldn’t have, or I had to harp on her too many times to share with her brother, or I simply was so busy with work and errands that I barely saw her until bedtime. Finding the grace to forgive yourself isn’t easy when you feel like you didn’t do the best you could possibly do. But you know what? I always make time for smooches and snuggles and she’s always fed and rested and clean. If those things are true, my day wasn’t a complete fail.

Sometimes, when one or both of the babes has gotten up in the night, I’m a zombie, and several cups of coffee don’t seem to be giving me the boost I need, we park it in front of the tv for longer than I’d like to admit. We eat whatever is the easiest thing to scrounge up for our meals and snacks, or we pile in the car and get drive-thru burgers and fries. I do no laundry, no dishes, and the only thing I clean is baby bottoms. Talk about the mom version of an under achiever, right? But those days aren’t the norm. They aren’t even common. But sometimes they are necessary to a tired family. When we all take naps on the couch watching some awful Netflix movie like Turtle Tale, it’s not likely I’ll complain that much. Sometimes those are the days that bedtimes come a little easier and less crying jags happen. On days when I “accomplish a lot”, I’ve been vacuuming instead of playing, and there are groceries in the fridge because I lugged my kids through the grocery store… Those are sometimes the ones that there are more frustrating than rewarding.

But what’s the formula here? Is there a way to ensure that my kids have a great day every day, and sleep well every night? I bet not. I bet there isn’t even a formula to ensure that they don’t have a good day and don’t sleep well. I just do the best I can; I love on them, try to teach them right from wrong, feed them (as healthily as I can), help them get rest (even if it means napping with them), foster learning and love of learning (whenever possible), bathe them (sometimes more than once a day), and pray for them. I don’t know how it looks from the outside. Maybe it looks hard to you, or maybe it looks fun! Maybe it looks rewarding, or like something you aren’t ready for right now. All those answers can be the right one.  It’s looked like all of those things from the inside, too. But from where I sit, the mama of two adorable (however crazy) kiddos, I have a blessed life, and I try to bless those kids in return. It’s looking pretty sweet to me.

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