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?

Hsus “ZOO” Sush-York, and Eat(a lot)aly!

Forgive the cheesy title; at least it isn’t misleading! Too much? Okay, you’re right. I’ll think about it…

Last Tuesday, we headed on a long subway ride to the Bronx, because we had heard that the Bronx Zoo was way better than the Central Park one. It was indeed a long trip, but the zoo was great! J was a trooper (he didn’t care much about the animals) and EK loved it. 20140801-220814-79694223.jpgBy the way, babywearing at the zoo was the way to go. We rented a double stroller, but that thing was NOT user-friendly. EK couldn’t see from that low, and J wasn’t comfortable in there. A waste of $15 when both kids either wanted to be carried or worn, or in EK’s case, run around a bit. We just lugged it around the whole time, full of the diaper bag and our water bottles. But other than that, the zoo was great. We saw peacocks, monkeys, red pandas, camels, water birds of all sorts, and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The kids expired rather quickly, though, so after we had seen about half the zoo, we headed back for a snack and a nap.

That evening, we met our dear friend Hope for some sushi (at Mizu, a restaurant of the same name as our favorite sushi place in Winston) and then traveled to Eataly for some gelato. Unfortunately, because it was getting late, we didn’t have much time in Eataly… that’s possibly my biggest sad note from the whole trip. That place was amazing. It took up about a city block, contained gelato, coffee, pasta, and wine (four of my greatest loves) and other wonderful and delicious Italian goodies. It should have been a whole day affair, and we crammed it into an hour or so. Ah well, there’s always next trip…

Hope snapped this one of EK enjoying her gelato.
Hope snapped this one of EK enjoying her gelato.
Hope getting some J snuggles, and Hubby photobombing like a champ. I honestly didn't notice him till after I took the picture!
Hope getting some J snuggles, and Hubby photobombing like a champ. I honestly didn’t notice him till after I took the picture!
Hubby and me, one of our only good shots from the trip!
Hubby and me, one of our only good shots from the trip!

Be on the lookout for the last installment of Hsus Do New York! I’ll really be sad to wrap this series up, but maybe that means we will have another cool trip soon!

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.
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!

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.

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*

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” 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 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.

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

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