November 25, 2015

I don’t usually do lists, but I just kept noticing these things and thought, I can’t be the only one. I know life is about 100x more convenient for the modern parent today than it was for our parents back in the day, but still! Parenting is no easy gig. Parents, read on and see if you can relate to any of these daily occurrences that you probably didn’t think twice about before having kids!

9 Things You Only Notice When You Become a Parent

9. Sidewalks that don’t have ramps.

no ramp

8.Where every drive-thru Starbucks is. Because as precious as that cup of coffee is, it’s just not worth lugging the baby out of the car for. Or maybe it is. Or not. Or is.


7. Where all the elevators are in the mall. I park at Nordstrom because it comes with an elevator which makes life with a stroller so nice! I also know exactly where all of the other TWO of the elevators in our expansive mall are located. And the nursing area. And the children’s play area. And Starbucks. And about 10 other kid-friendly places that, five years ago, I didn’t even know existed.

6. Uncovered electric outlets. You bring your toddler to a friend’s place and realize the world is truly a dangerous, dangerous place. What kind of crazy people don’t cover their electric outlets and cushion their coffee table corners?!

5. The absence of a gate is a wonderful, wonderful thing. We’ve gone through several configurations with gating off areas of the house in the last year or so, but we are now nearing the best one: NO GATES AT ALL. I can’t even count the number of bruises and bumps I’ve received from turning the corner too fast through a gate or tripping over a gate.

Every time we’ve removed one of the gates, I feel a new freedom as though we’ve renovated a section of our house. I love it.

4. Where all the automatic door opening button entrances are.

push to open

And all the nice people in the world who hold doors open for you so you can push that stroller through the doors without looking like a clumsy noob of a mom.

3. How impressive a piece of poop is. Especially when it ends up in a potty. *cue applause* I shall spare you photos. (Not all parents are that considerate, as I’m sure you’ve seen on FB…).

2. Motorcycles and loud cars. This is one of the few things that used to make bad words involuntarily run through my head. I’d be paused at a stop light and my baby would finally be quietly napping… and then some obnoxiously loud motorcycle would pull up next to us and start making sounds loud enough to wake a herd of cows!


AhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HOW IS THIS LEGAL.

1. Daylight savings. Just why. I mean, we’ve always noticed it, but trust me… you notice it in a whole new way when you have kids.


November 22, 2015


Anyone who has had a baby girl has had someone, at some point, compliment her on her cute baby boy. Unless your darling is decked out in frills, lace, pink and/or hearts, it can be hard for people to immediately tell what gender your child is. But I didn’t always feel like dressing my daughter in everything girly, so sometimes I used a simple bow to give others a hint. Also, they’re so CUTE! :)


It can actually fit quite a number of clips!

I bought most of these clips off Amazon and had just piled them into a little box, but soon it got hard finding the exact color or design I wanted, so I decided to make a display of them using an IKEA frame and some ribbon! Not only does it look much nicer displayed like this, but it makes it a lot more convenient to pick out a color or style that works well for the day.

I’m not really that girly, and I don’t expect my daughter to be, but this was a super simple project that was both practical and looked nice. Why not? Also a fun way to display clips if you’re hosting a baby shower and hair clips are part of the baby shower crafting fun :). 

November 18, 2015

Pear and Almond Tart! So delicious!! (1)

Day 1: A package arrives at the door. It is a lovely congratulatory gift set including lush and sweet Harry and David pears from Ben’s boss!

Ben: OOH you can make your pear tart! Remember last time we had these pears and you made that pear tart? It was so good!

Jo: Yeah! (secretly wonders when she will find time to bake)

Day 2: 

Ben: So are you going to make a pear tart?

Jo: Yup. But the pears are not ripe yet.

Day 3:

Ben: Are the pears ripe yet?

Jo: Not yet.

Ben: Mmm. Pear tart…

Day 5: 

I have slowly been making our way through the pears, usually as a post-dinner dessert for the family. So lush and juicy– really, they’re something else.

Ben, with concern: Are you going to have enough pears for the pear tart??

Jo: Yup. Just need two.

Day 6: 

Ben is short on sleep, and planning to hit the sack early. But then he realizes I am now making the pear tart. 

Ben: Oh, I guess I’ll stay up for it, then!

Jo: Hm. After baking it for another 50 minutes, it’s supposed to sit in the fridge for two more hours…

Ben: :(

Day 7:

Ben: THE PEAR TART WAS GOOD! Is there any way you can get more pear in there? I really like the pears.

Dad: Did you make this? Just following a recipe? It’s very good!

(Note that this is actually Chinese dad speak for JO YOU ARE THE MOST AMAZING BAKER IN THE WORLD!! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!” 😉)

Pear and Almond Tart! So delicious!! (4)

I think this story speaks for itself. You should need no further convincing. This pear tart is worthy of your time. It is something Ben requests and looks forward to and I can think of few better ways to celebrate a gift box of sweet, creamy, and delicious pears! Plus, this crust recipe is great– didn’t get soggy, and would work well for a fruit tart!

P.S. The original recipe is actually called a “Pear and Almond Flan” but for some reason, that name doesn’t ring with me the same way “Pear Tart” does. Isn’t flan like a wiggly, jiggly eggy thing? I’m convinced this should be called a tart. And this is my blog. So there.

Pear and Almond Tart
From The Essential Baking Cookbook
Makes one 9″ tart, serves 8





  1. Lightly grease a shallow 9.5″ round, loose-based, fluted tart tin. Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and mix together. Make a well in the center, add the egg yolks and mix with a flat-bladed knife (or pastry cutter), using a cutting action, until the mixture comes together in beads. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper until large enough to line the base and side of the tart tin. Line the tin with the pastry and trim off any excess. Sparsely prick the base with a fork. Line the base with baking paper, pour in some baking beads or uncooked rice and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beads and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool.
  3. For the filling, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with electric beaters for 30 seconds (don’t cream the mixture). Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in the ground almonds and flour and spread the filling smoothly over the cooled pastry base.
  4. Peel the pears, halve lengthways and remove the cores. Cut crossways into 1/8 inch slices. Separate the slices slightly, then place each half on top of the tart to form a cross. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the filling has set (the middle may still be a little soft). Cool in the tin, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Can be dusted with powdered sugar.
November 15, 2015

Display Kid's Art (5)

My quest for the perfect art display solution began about half a year ago, when my child glued this masterpiece together:

Abstract bear

I loved it. While other parents carefully guided their toddler’s hands to place everything in just the right place, I simply helped her rub glue onto the loose pre-cut pieces and then let her have at it. I call it her Abstract Bear, and I love it. I loved it so much I put it somewhere super special… and now I can’t find it. Thankfully, she has since produced more artwork, and I have been only too eager to find a special way to showcase her talents.

I scoured Pinterest for ideas, looking for a solution that would meet the following requirements:

November 10, 2015

The Father's Heart

I knew the arrival of a new baby would be tough on her. I knew she’d have some serious adjusting to do, going from being an only child to a big sister. I had devoted the last two years of my life to her (nearly three, if you count the pregnancy), and she knew nothing but my undivided attention and time.

I had expected that she would start showing favoritism toward her daddy. I had expected that she would show some resentment toward her little brother. I expected she would be jealous for my time and attention.

But still, it didn’t prepare me for her bubbly soft and sharp-edged words: I don’t like Mama.

Tears sprang in my eyes and I stood there, unmoving. I was nursing her brother but trying to be part of her bedtime routine to encourage our former connection, trying to invest more of myself and my time in her. I knew she missed me, and that her words probably came from a place of confusion, but it cut to my heart like nothing ever has before.

I don’t like Mama.

I wanted to grab her and hug her and pour myself into her and remind her of all the good times we’d had together. I wanted to ask her, “We had a date at the museum, remember? I took you to the zoo, remember? We played at the park and went to the library and went for walks and played at Gymboree… remember? Remember?? I carried you for nine months, vomiting the whole way through, singing to you and talking to you and loving you… remember? I went through the excruciating pain of nursing you, with tears, sweat, and blood. Mastitis. Sleeplessness. But I persevered. For you. Remember?? I held you through the night and came to you when you cried and played with you in your fort and made you a beautiful room- remember? Remember, little bear? Don’t you know how much I love you???”

Instead, I walked out of the room and cried. It had been a few weeks coming, and this finally broke me. I don’t cry very easily, but it only takes a few words from my darling to break open the floodgates.

The next night, I debated on whether or not to join in on her bedtime routine again. It was asking for hurt. I knew she was going to ask for it, shining her sweet smile at me and asking, “Together? Do it together?” Every night since her brother was born, she asked that we put her down together, reading her book, praying, and swaying in a group hug as we sang her bedtime song. She would wrap one arm around Ben as he held her, and wrap her other arm around my neck, pulling me close to her and holding me tightly. I could hear her soft breath in my ear, and I sang gently and sweetly in her ear. I loved it. Though I am not usually a huge fan of physical affection, I could cuddle and snuggle with my children all. day. long. So I basked in that unusual display of affection and treasured the moments she wanted me close.

But one night, after pulling me in close, she suddenly pushed me away and said, “Just Papa.” I stood there, stunned, and tried to finish the song with Ben, but she pushed me away again and said, “Bye, Mama.”

I had never felt such cold, solid rejection.

I quietly walked out of the room and tried to tell myself it was all part of her transition and adjustment. She was dealing with a lot, after all, and a toddler only has so many ways to process such emotions, right?

The next night, she did it again.

And again.

And again.

Each night, my husband would come out and give me a comforting pat on the arm, offering a sympathetic look. I tried not to be jealous. We were a team. He was, after all, spending most of her waking hours with her, so this was only natural, right? And if she was going to prefer someone over me, it had better be him.

But after a while, you just don’t want to go in and get pushed away again. She was playing with my heart, and I was tired of getting stepped on. Each night, I would resolve to let Ben put her down himself, but when she looked up at me with shining eyes and asked, “Together? Do it together?” I melted each time and thought, “Maybe tonight, just maybe, she’ll keep me.”

And each time, it would end with her pushing me away, shattering my heart in a way only this 1-year old could do.

I knew I was asking for it, yet I kept going back, hoping she’d change.

She hasn’t, yet. Tonight, I walked out quietly again, wondering how many more times I was going to take this.

Why do I do it? I don’t know. Because she’s my daughter. Because some day, she will realize she’s not upset with me, and that I still do love her as much as before, even if I can’t spend as much time with her.

But mostly, I do it because I want her to know that I love her unconditionally, even if she keeps rejecting me. I want her to know that no matter how many times she pushes me away, I will always be there for her when she asks. Because that’s what Jesus would do. Because that’s what Jesus continues to do for us. No matter how many times we push him away, forget him, ignore him, put others before him, He still chooses to love us unconditionally. He is always there, and he will always be there when we reach for him- no matter how many times we’ve broken his heart.

He delights in nothing more than having us pull him close, enjoying the soft gentle song in his voice and feeling him close. He loves to be there for us, and loves to be loved by us. He loves to love us. And he will keep loving us no matter how many times we push him away.

I’ve never known heartache like the way I’m experiencing now. I never thought you could give so much of yourself to a little person, offer yourself so vulnerably to this immature and capricious creature, only to have your heart thrown around like a ping-pong ball.

I now know a little bit more of our Father’s heart- his devotion and affection for us, his delight in us. I also know a little more of the pain and heartache he chooses to endure for the sake of loving us. I don’t know why he does it, but I know I appreciate it a little bit more today than I did yesterday.

November 8, 2015

Wendy is not only one of my best friends, but she is one of the most passionate and hard-working educators I know. I’ve known her for nearly two decades, and I can’t believe I didn’t pick her brain on one of the topics closest to her heart until now! Now, you all get to hear her perspective and learn from her experience as a special education teacher. Whether you are a teacher or a parent, there’s a lot we can learn about this population and how to love and serve them better!

We decided to go with a question-and-answer style for this post, where I posed the questions. I know she put a lot of thought and time into sharing this information with you and I believe you will benefit SO MUCH from reading it! Please leave your encouraging comments below and share what you learned! ~JoEllen


Inclusive Education
A guest post by Wendy L-C

Please tell us about why you decided to go into special education
I knew I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was in high school. Back, then, I thought I would be an elementary school classroom teacher. During my senior year of high school, I volunteered at a class geared towards kids with Down syndrome. I fell in love with those kids! It was my first experience interacting with children with disabilities and it helped me to see that in so many ways, people with disabilities are just like the rest of us. They, too, need love, respect, meaningful relationships, and a good education. Then, in my time at Cal, I took some classes on Disability Studies. I started to learn more about the social justice aspects of inclusive education and how, as recently as the early 1970s, people with disabilities were often stuck in institutions and denied enrollment in public schools. Since the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with disabilities are now educated in our public school system. I felt called to be the best teacher I could be for students with disabilities. I wanted to help find ways to facilitate students with disabilities participating in their general education classes, help them reach their academic and social potential, and be full members of a school community. I have stayed in this field because I feel that it has really allowed me to think about and teach each of my students as individuals.

What is inclusion all about? Why do it?
Inclusion in a very general sense is when children and people with disabilities are full members of our society. In the education context, inclusion means that all students with and without disabilities are full, valued members of the class and larger school community. Students with disabilities participate in the general curriculum and in class/school-wide activities alongside their non-disabled peers. Services and supports are given to students with disabilities in the general education setting so that these students can access the general curriculum and make progress towards their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals.

November 5, 2015

How to be an awesome parent to new parents

So in case you missed my Monday post, BABY BOY IS HERE! :) He’s doing well! I’m doing well! The family is doing better than I expected… and overall, it’s been GREAT!

It’s been challenging, of course, but really, we’re doing much better than I had dared to hope for. A huge part of this is all the help we’re getting. Not only are our friends super wonderful and bringing us delicious meals all the time, but our parents have been awesome about coming over to help us out.

Having your first newborn to care for is challenging, especially since you’re figuring out everything for the first time. And, if you’re anything like us, you stress over every detail like crazy. I still remember freaking out a couple years ago when my husband opened up the car seat canopy to show off our sleeping baby girl in her car seat, when she was just a week old. I was sure she was going to catch someone’s flu or cold or something and almost had a meltdown right then and there. I know, ridiculous. I knew it was unreasonable back then, too, but… that’s the kind of stress I lived with the first time around.

This time, we had a group of friends over about a week after he was born and at one point, I literally did not know where my newborn son was. And I was totally okay with it. All this to say, having your first newborn to care for is stressful in its own unique way.

But having a newborn when you’ve also got a toddler running amok and requiring lots of your time and attention? That’s a whole ‘nother ballgame. Not harder, necessarily, but a different kind of challenge. The main drawback so far is that we cannot just “nap whenever the baby naps,” because unless my toddler is also napping, somebody’s gotta be up to watch her. This requires so much time and energy– two things parents of a newborn are generally short on.

Which is why I am SO GRATEFUL for the help we’ve gotten from our parents during these last couple weeks! So much so that I composed a list of ways to be awesome just like them. Partly as a reminder to future me, and also in case you are about to have a newborn and want to think of some ways your parents can help. Or in case you’re about to become a grandparent and want to know how you can be helpful to your grown children! Without further ado, my list (in no particular order) of Ways our parents have been super helpful with our newborn:

November 2, 2015


HE’S HERE! And he’s a delight! And we are doing well!! =D

And I totally should have gone to bed a couple hours ago, but, well… online shopping and me-time. Poor choices, I know.

And then I realized that I have no posts ready for this week. So I wanted to share with you something I made a couple months ago: a carseat canopy!


I could have gotten it for a reasonable price at www.carseatcanopy.com (they have these free deals every so often where you only pay for shipping, which makes it a good deal :)), but I wanted a unique design for my son’s canopy, and I also wanted to make something for him. I made a ton of things for his older sister before she was born, but hardly did any prep for baby boy’s arrival, so this was one of my small projects to say, “BABY BOY! I AM EXCITED ABOUT YOU, TOO!!”

October 29, 2015

It’s officially autumn and even though it’s still hitting the 90’s here, I’ve decided it is definitely soup-making time again! Who am I kidding, I make soup all summer, too. It’s just such a delicious way to get in those veggies! Here are three of my all-time favorite soup recipes. I can’t say I like any one more than the other– it’s really just what you feel like. I WILL say that these are all pretty simple to spin together, and have always been a highlight with any meal I serve it with!

#1: Butternut Squash Soup.

easy peasy butternut squash soup! so delicious!!!

This recipe should be a staple in your soup arsenal simply because it is SO easy to make and SO satisfyingly delicious. Everyone’s tried it, most people like it, and after you make your own version, your family is sure to love it! I personally like to brown my squash and onions a little longer for a roasted flavor and keep mine on the thin side with a little more broth, but you can adjust it however you like! TRY IT IF YOU HAVEN’T! You won’t regret it! (And if you can, go for the Costco or Trader Joe’s pre-cut squash. Saves a lot of work and time!)

#2: Creamy Zucchini and Garlic Soup

Zucchini garlic soup

This stuff is so addictive. You won’t even believe you drank the equivalent of a whole zucchini when you down a bowl of this soup- it’s SO TASTY, creamy, and delicious! I can’t even describe to you what it tastes like– you really just have to try making this yourself to believe how good it is. The process for making this is pretty much the same as the butternut squash soup (i.e. saute, simmer, blend), except whole zucchini is easier to work with and you use a lot more garlic. If you serve this to guests, they’ll swear you added a cup of cream to it, and you can proudly tell them that no, this creamy concoction is indeed cream-less. (Okay, there’s a little bit of butter in there, but not enough to make it feel unhealthy!). This one is a staple because zucchini seems to be pretty plump and available year-round, so I can throw this soup together any time I feel like fancying up our dinner menu!

#3: Roasted Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup

This is a combination I would never have dreamed up, and I have the Internet and probably Pinterest to thank for one of my favorite new flavor combinations. If you’re like me, cauliflower soup just doesn’t sound all that appealing, but I BEG YOU– give this a try and let me know what you think!! IT’S SO SPECTACULAR. I know I just said this about the zucchini soup, but I think I mean it doubly for this one: you just can’t really imagine how amazing these flavors taste together until you try it! I mean, I think roasted cauliflower is pretty good. And who doesn’t like some cheddar? But when these flavors are roasted and melded together, it’s heavenly. Seriously. For a shortcut, get some pre-cut cauliflower from Costco, whirl this together and just try and tell me with a straight face that you didn’t love it. Mmm so cozy comfy heart-warmingly good…

If you have an easy and go-to soup recipe you love, please send it my way! I’m pretty happy with my top 3, but always happy to try others! :)

October 25, 2015

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Hello Readers! It is my pleasure to introduce my friend Rosalie Yu, a good friend and fellow educator! Rosalie worked at a childcare center for multiple years, then taught 4th-6th grade before moving on to her Project Specialist role that has turned into her current Curriculum Support Specialist position, where she spends a lot of time coaching teachers. She absolutely loves organizing closets/styling wardrobes, photography​, and cooking, and also tries to host a meal for a friend at least once a week in her home! You can see more of her work here at www.blushingroseinc.com​.

I have always appreciated and admired Rosalie’s heart to love, serve, and mentor others. It’s been wonderful to see her grow as a wife and mother, and to see how she is applying her skills as an educator to her parenting. She has an amazing eye for beauty, which shows in her photography, home design, fashion, and most of all her appreciation for people. I’ve learned a lot from her over the years, and I am so glad she can share some of her wisdom with us today! 


Celebrating Every Win
A guest post by Rosalie Yu

Processed with VSCOcam with x3 presetI’ve known JoEllen since we met at church camp back in high school, but little did we know how our paths would cross time and time again after that. Years later, we found ourselves in the same teaching program when we were pursuing our teaching credential; with her being one cohort ahead of me she always provided sound advice and encouragement. She made things sound less daunting and always gave practical tips. Clearly, her blog has extended her helpful reach to many others. In fact, one of the most memorable things JoEllen did for me was send me a care package during my first week as a teacher. I have never forgotten that gesture of kindness and how meaningful it was. We both ended up marrying gentlemen from the camp we met years ago and went from teaching to becoming wives and mothers. It’s an honor to have been asked to write a guest piece for her blog. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing an important lesson I’ve learned over the years that has worked for my 20-month-old son.

I started working with kids in middle school. I knew I wanted to become a teacher since I was five and in all my years of working with children, I have learned many important lessons, with one that stands out the most. When asked by others what piece of advice I could give to a new teacher or a new mom, I would say it’s to celebrate every win.

We all encounter students, people we’re coaching, teammates, and children who haven’t mastered their craft. It could really be anything, even as simple as learning to cook scrambled eggs for the first time. There are many techniques to everything we’ve learned to do in life, but the thing that I’ve seen over and over as a determining factor in achieving success is the importance of building self-efficacy. We all know that “practice makes perfect” yet the journey to perfection is just as influential in the end result. Teaching children to root for themselves begins with us rooting for them.