Toddlerese and Forgiveness

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I don’t know what qualifies as a “late talker” but I’m guessing my daughter falls on that spectrum somewhere. Recently, as in the past two months or so, her vocabulary has really catapulted into the “most sounds are actual words” range. For a while, it was still mostly gibberish while she pointed her chubby finger at something, with the occasional real word in there. Now, she’s stringing three or four or even five words together in a row, and sometimes making sentences! Hubby and I are so proud! I’m especially disappointed proud to say that her first full sentence was, “I wove fry fries!” As you can imagine, that means she really loves french fries.

Recently, she’s been using “thank you” (sounds like “kick you”) and “I’m sorry” a lot. For us, teaching manners to our kids also meant teaching a few polite phrases. When she receives something, she always says thank you. When she does something like take her brother’s toy or pull my hair (yeah, I don’t know where that came from but it’s a thing), we tell her to say “I’m sorry.” I know she doesn’t fully understand, but I always respond with “I forgive you” because I want forgiveness to be a familiar idea in our home. I want to extend forgiveness for small things and big things. I have a perfect model of forgiveness to follow; Jesus’ death on the cross for my sins (and yours!) is the ultimate act of forgiveness. If I have been forgiven for every single sin I have committed and will commit, it seems a simple thing to forgive my kids for their innocent transgressions. I consider forgiveness a particular blessing I can bestow on my family, and it mends my heart as well.

Do You Know a Robin Williams?

I read an article by Jeff Gissing this morning on that was my favorite thing I’ve read since we heard that Robin Williams took his own life. It’s short, so no excuses not to read it.  The idea is simple – depression sucks, and it isn’t our job to judge people who deal with it different ways. The last line, “let’s ask God to soften our hearts toward those who suffer.” really spoke to me. How often are we quick to make a judgment or an assumption about someone? How often to we make a generalization without knowing the facts?

I’m sure I know people who struggle with depression and don’t tell me. I’m sure there are people in my life who have battled it and battled it some more. In ignorance I’ve probably made a judgment I shouldn’t have; I am also to blame. Yes, there are meds for depression. No, they don’t work for every person in every situation. Yes, there are other ways to deal with it. No, those don’t always work either. But I also know that there are people willing to help. There are places you can go, people you can call, and One who always desires to help and be there for His children.

I will not say that there is a perfect cure, or that a solution can always be found. I know that isn’t the case. But I also know that if you aren’t looking for help, you will rarely find it. So take the first step. If you know someone who struggles with depression, or other mental illness, help them take the first step. I know that if someone I loved was struggling, I would want to help them. I would reach out and take the step for them, if possible.

So throw no stones, pass no judgment. It’s unfortunate that celebrities get the worst of our scrutiny simply because their lives are all over the media for us to see. But we don’t know the details, the length of the struggle, the depth of the depression. We can only offer to help fight the battle, and honor the lives of those whose battle is over.

Things That Make My Life Easier: Volume I

I think that this may lead to another post or two of similar content, hence the open ended “Volume I” title. But as of today, here are four things that I’m ever-so-grateful for, because they make my life easier.

The dishwasher. I can’t believe Hubby doesn’t use ours half the time! I think he finds some weird gratification from hand washing things. But I say anything that is allowed in there gets stuffed in every chance I get. Sometimes we run more than one load of dishes a day (so many bottles and sippy cups and utensils).

Anyone else feel this way?
Anyone else feel this way?

My breast pump (I have a Medela In-Style). This is a double-edged sword. In a way, it helps me keep up my milk production and makes me feel better (J is a lazy nurser, and EK stopped nursing at 5 weeks but breastfed till 6 months), but on the other hand, it’s a pain in the butt sometimes, I’m stuck in one chair for 25 minutes, I have to be careful how I move, and I can’t really take care of two kids while I’m doing it. But then again, I love that J gets more of that nutrition because I’ve pumped it.

My view during my planning period every day after I came back from maternity leave: work laptop, breakfast, breast pump.
My view during my planning period every day after I came back from maternity leave: work laptop, breakfast, breast pump. This website (and its sister sites,, etc) can send you anything you can possibly need. Two-day delivery is free if you order $49+ (and let’s face it, you almost always need that much, or you can stock up on whatever it is by ordering 2 of them to bump over $49 easily). They always have the brands I need and the prices aren’t more than they are in the stores. Also, they sometimes have e-coupons you can apply to things like diapers and wipes, or on, toilet paper and toothpaste. Most days (okay fine, every day) it’s easier for me to get on the computer and order diapers than pack up both kids for a trip to the store.

Best catchphrase ever.
Best catchphrase ever.

The Boba. I have a magical baby carrier called the Boba 4G (in Tweet, because it’s cute and gender friendly). It holds my toddler, and she loves it. It holds my 7 month old (and has for almost 7 months) and he loves it. It fits me, and it fits Hubby. It goes on the front or the back. It’s extremely user-friendly. IT IS A LIFE SAVER IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE. (See my posts from NYC and you will learn more about just how useful it is.) Babywearing is my favorite.

EK loves riding on my back. "Back, ma! Back, ma!"
EK loves riding on my back. “Back, ma! Back, ma!”

What are some things that make your life easier? Do you have a suggestion for me?  I’m always looking for “life hacks”!

Garden Loot and Caprese Salad

Our garden has had a fantastic harvest so far this summer. We’ve had about as much food as we’ve ever harvested from our two long beds. Squirrels and chipmunks have often bested us, but this year we must’ve convinced them to stay away, because they’ve only gotten a couple of tomatoes (*knocks on wood*). We planted tomatoes (four different kinds), okra, yellow squash, jalapenos, cayennes, bell peppers, oregano, Italian basil and Thai basil. Our herbs are flourishing, we have more peppers than our tongues could stand, and lots of tomatoes are given away so they don’t rot on our counter. Squash we have sliced and frozen, and okra we eat straight off the plant because it’s better raw than any other way. Today, when we got a huge bag of tomatoes when the counter was already full, I decided Caprese salad was the only thing to do! Slice some tomatoes, toss on some fresh basil, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and top with mozzarella! Hubby likes to also sprinkle a little salt on top – not too much though, or it can easily overpower the whole salad.







As you can see, the biggest sad point of this recipe is the lack of “real” mozzarella. The shredded mozzarella from a bag is “real” I guess, but it isn’t freshly sliced like my preferred mozzarella would be. However, it did in a pinch.

Now that I’ve whet you appetite for Caprese salad (with these amazing photos Hubby took with his fancy-schmancy camera), what are your favorite ways to eat fresh tomatoes?


Unconventional Tips For Beginning Runners

I love this blogger for many reasons, but this is a great post… everything about it I totally agree with!

A Morning Grouch

1. Run way slower than you think you should.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re going to run as fast as you did in high school (if you even ran in high school – that’s certainly not a prerequisite).  The point is, you’re old and out of shape now, and you just need to work with what you have.  When you’re first starting out, you should probably feel like you could walk as fast as you are running.  It should feel like it’s too slow, and you’ll never get a workout this way.  Trust me, you will.  See how that pace goes for an extended period of time and then gauge whether or not you think it’s too slow, for realsie.  Too many runners start out fast and quickly crash and burn, end up feeling like ass, and then never want to run again.  Start by being a…

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Parenting Fail #38174: the Toilet Again?!

We’ve had another Parenting Fail at the Hsu House. This time, no one is sure who to blame. No one is even sure when it happened. There was no real damage done to child or property, but the lingering effect, now completely fixed, was found after the fact.

IMG_7167.JPGyes, that is a toilet bowl. Yes, it is chock full of toilet paper. The basement bathroom we rarely use isn’t a typical place for my daughter to hang out, but she managed to sneak in, unroll half a roll of toilet paper, and fill up the toilet. Most surprising thing? It flushed right down with no problem. Thankfully.

I’m having a hard time with the irony that we are potty training right now, and when I want her to get ON the potty, she acts like she’d rather eat chicken livers, but when left to her own devices, it seems she’d play in it all day. Sheesh.

Here’s the culprit, clearly doing hard time.

Anyone else’s kid keep trying to get to the toilet?!

Thank you, New York!

Here’s the last bit of our Hsus Do New York experience. It’s long. Enjoy!

I had heard some great, kid-friendly things about the Battery Park area (which is funny, since it’s mostly financial district) so we headed there on Wednesday. It was actually great, because EK had been talking about getting on a boat all week, so we figured getting down there next to the water was the way to make it happen. We took the subway (most of the way down) to Battery Park,  and without really planning it, happened to be right next to the 9/11 Memorial. It is incredible to think that the event was almost 13 years ago. And it’s even crazier to think that yes, we have created a memorial for it, and survivors are all back to work and trying to go about their lives, but it’s still not all the way back to normal in that area. There were roses left on names, people gathered in corners of the park, and the new Freedom Tower isn’t even finished yet. We rose up, of course, but there is still work to be done.

Freedom Tower
Freedom Tower
Memorial Fountain
Memorial Fountain
Handsome Babywearing Hubby
Handsome Babywearing Hubby

After we left there, we walked a few blocks to the water, where the actual park is. It was full of families, runners, artists, and community groups of kids from summer camps and day cares. It was truly a gorgeous day, the park was beautiful, and seeing the sights across the water was awesome.

EK gazing out on the water
EK gazing out on the water
Chilling in the park
Chilling in the park

The pier was closed, so we walked a few more blocks to Castle Clinton, where the boats all dock to go to the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island. When we saw the line for the Statue of Liberty cruise, we knew our babies would never stand for it, no matter how badly EK wanted to get on a boat. So we opted for the NY Water Taxi, and we loved it! The ticket lasts the whole day (you can get on and off till they stop running), there were several stops, there was a bar/snack bar, and the tour guides were great! They don’t have a script, so they literally tell you lots of facts, but also their favorite places to eat or shop or hang out. It was an appreciated, air-conditioned, sightseeing break in the middle of our day.

J and my mom hanging out on the boat!
J and my mom hanging out on the boat!
Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
(Obvious) Statue of Liberty!
(Obvious) Statue of Liberty!

We took the boat from Battery Park up to Times Square, rode the Ferris wheel at Toys R Us, visited the Disney Store (where there was a lack of Elsa-related merchandise that EK was asking for, but we still got her some “princess shoes” and a Buzz Lightyear for J), and let EK stare at the hundreds of screens, lights, and posters. We had a blast.

J crushing Buzz Lightyear with love.
J crushing Buzz Lightyear with love.
I just had to post this picture - I've always loved Barbie even though she's gotten some flack. This makes up for it, just a little bit.
I just had to post this picture – I’ve always loved Barbie even though she’s gotten some flack. This makes up for it, just a little bit.
So excited that she couldn't even wake up.
So excited that she couldn’t even wake up.

For our last dinner in NYC, we ate at a really expensive delicious steak house called Smith and Wollensky. It was, in a word, incredible. Our concierge told it would be fine to take the kids with us, and truly it was (EVERYONE was really great about them) but they were the only kids in there, and if I had stuck my head in the door first, I never would’ve brought them in. But they were troopers; it was late in the evening, but J took a little nap and EK played with a lot of stickers. Hubby and I drank a lot of wine, haha. It was an all-around great experience, and I wish we’d been around to eat the copious amounts of leftover steak we couldn’t manage to finish before we left.

Good-looking crew, right?
Good-looking crew, right?

Thursday morning, we had a few hours of precious time before we needed to go to the airport, so Mom and I took EK to a little tea house we had been walking by all week. I knew from experience they’re probably have great breakfast, and EK loves tea parties. We all put on cute dresses and headed two blocks down to Alice’s Tea Cup for a pot of tea and breakfast. Let me tell you – it was a total win. A whimsical interior combined with delicious food, a huge tea selection and several little cute things for EK (like sprinkling her with glitter “fairy dust” and telling her to make a wish) made for a delightful morning. The scones, in particular, were perfect – chocolate orange and white chocolate blackberry. ARE YOU SERIOUS!?

Mom (Necie, to EK) snuggling Princess EK
Mom (Necie, to EK) snuggling Princess EK

So there’s the last bit of it. Our first family trip to NYC. I hope there are many more to come, and hopefully not too long from now! It definitely boosted my confidence for what we might be able to handle in the future! What are some things we missed that my kids might enjoy next time we go?

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