A Day in the Life | Winter 2017

01.15.2017 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

During this season of life, Saturdays are for French press coffee, big breakfasts, sports practices, birthday parties, board games by the fire, and a bottle of wine after the kiddos go to bed.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Emily: 34 | Nick: 34 | Sam: 5 yrs | Nora: 3 yrs | Evelyn: 7 mos | Lucy: 4 yrs

3:18 am | Evelyn is whimpering in her crib on the other side of our bedroom. And so I scoop her up to nurse her and feel thankful that this is the first time I’ve been out of bed since I laid down at 10:30 last night. A vast improvement from the 4+ times I’d been waking for the past month. Our very lenient “sleep training” seems to be working. I lay her back down, and she immediately rolls onto her belly. I use the bathroom, gulp some water, and climb back into bed beside Nick.

5:46 am | Evelyn is moaning and groaning and grunting. I bet she has a dirty diaper. I am right. Her little digestive system is still adjusting to solids, and she usually has a very stinky diaper between 5 and 7 am. I change her and lay her back down and cross my fingers that she’ll give me at least another hour of sleep.

6:00 am | No such luck. She’s restless, so I bring her to bed with me to snuggle. She nurses for about two minutes, then falls right to sleep. I do, too.

7:08 am | I hear Nora’s bedroom door open. I nudge Nick to intercept before she bounds upstairs and wakes Evie. He begrudgingly gets out of bed and closes our door behind him. I let out an audible sigh of relief and snuggle back in with the littlest.

7:45 am | I hear Sam talking to Nora through his walkie-talkie, and Nora is yelling back in response. I’m ready to get up, but I still have a little sleeping beauty in my arms, so I lay still and enjoy the semi-quiet dark room. Soon I hear Nora crying, and Sam declares, “But she almost cracked open my head.” (I later learn that Nora lifted her blinds to look outside, and let the wooden slats fall onto Sam’s head. Then he hit her in retaliation.)

8:05 am | The big kids are still fighting, and I decide it’s time to get up and rescue Nick. I gently slide my arm out from under Evie, surprised that she has slept so soundly through all of the commotion. She stretches, slowly opens her eyes, and smiles at me. Oh, what a wonderful way to start my day.

8:15 am | I change Evie’s diaper and go downstairs to find that Sam and Nora have each cashed in three tokens for 30 minutes of screen time. We set up a new token reward system last week. The kids earn tokens for good behavior (picking up their toys, finishing their fruits and vegetables, remaining in their chairs during meal time), lose tokens for bad behavior (hitting, yelling, slamming doors, using potty words), and can use their tokens for rewards (an extra book at bedtime, screen time, a date with Mommy or Daddy). Nora immediately says, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do it,” as soon as she does something that warrants losing a token. And Sam definitely understands the concept, though he’s still struggling to earn and save tokens for rewards more significant than screen time.

8:30 am | I nurse Evie while Nick makes coffee. Then we discuss the logistics of our busy day: basketball practice, a birthday party, and a necessary trip to the grocery store because our refrigerator is nearly empty. How does that always happen??

8:35 am | I put Evie on the floor to crawl around. Yes, she is officially crawling! She immediately goes for the play kitchen in the corner of the living room. Nora turns off the iPad and joins her. Sam asks for a bowl of cereal, even though I promise eggs and bacon.

8:45 am | I cook hash browns on the stove top, put bacon in the oven, poach eggs, and wash some blueberries. Sam asks for a pair of socks. Then a second bowl of cereal. Nick gets his socks, but I say “no” to his request for more cereal.

9:00 am | We all sit down to eat. And I appreciate that everyone eats what I put onto their plates. This is Evie’s second time eating eggs, and she is chowing down. Lucy is ready to pounce on any crumb that falls onto the floor.

9:10 am | The kids are finished and start playing with the beach balls that our friends brought over yesterday. Of course, this leads to kicking the balls across the room and throwing them at each other. And, after multiple requests to stop, the balls are confiscated.

9:15 am | I ask Nick to referee while I shower. I check the weather report. Chance of snow this afternoon, so I opt for jeans (pre-pregnancy jeans that officially fit again, woohoo!) and a flannel. I dry my hair and put on a little bit of make-up. Then go back downstairs to give Nick a chance to clean up.

10:00 am | I ask Sam, for the fifth time, to please put on his clothes for basketball practice. Change Evie, nurse her, lay her down to nap. Choose Nora’s clothes for the day while she rolls around on her bedroom floor. And pack my purse. It’s nice to travel without a diaper bag!

10:30 am | I give Nick instructions to dress Nora and help her to color a birthday card for her little friend. Then Sam and I are out the door. We stop by the toy store downtown to pick out a gift for Nora’s birthday party (talk about last minute … at least they wrap it for me!). Then I focus on conversation with Sam for the remainder of the drive. It’s so rare that it’s just the two of us in the car, and I know I need to take advantage of it. He asks, “How big will the basketball net be?” and “How many trophies do you have at Nini’s and Poppy’s house? Do you think I’ll get a basketball trophy?” And when he won’t stop coughing, I say I think he’s getting a cold. He says, “No, my head is hot. I’m not getting a cold.” Uh-oh.

11:00 am | We arrive at Sam’s first basketball practice. And I’m excited for him to try a new sport. He runs onto the court to warm up with a few of his buddies, and I enjoy conversation with the parents. While the coach sets up drills for dribbling and shooting, I talk to my friends about a spring carnival at the elementary school, open skating practice at the local ice arena, our new token reward system, and baby boy #4 that is due any day for the S family. Nick texts a picture of Nora playing with her doll house, and I send him a video of Sam. Sam occasionally looks to me for approval and gives a big thumbs up when he gets the ball through the hoop. My favorite part is the relay they run at the end of practice. Presbyterian Church Nursery School boys win it for their team!

12:00 pm | We rush home. And I’m grateful to find that Evelyn is awake so I can nurse her before I have to leave again. Nora is dressed, but still needs to brush her teeth and brush her hair. Sam is excited to tell Nick about practice. I suggest lunch options for Nick, Sam, and Evie. Then I use the bathroom, refill my water bottle, and grab an apple and a fig bar for the car.

12:20 pm | Back out the door. This time with Nora. As soon as I strap her in, she asks for my fig bar. But only one. Because she’s holding onto a token with her other hand. Apparently, she was a good listener and a big helper with Daddy, so she got a token. A red one, of course.

12:35 pm | A little late to the party. But we only had one minor meltdown in the car when Nora realized that she forgot to bring Rexy. She thought she needed to bring her beloved dinosaur because we’re going to a museum. But I assured her that there are no dinosaurs at this museum.

12:40 pm | We join the fun at Imagine That: bead mazes, a gigantic lite brite, a grocery store, a doctor’s office, a dance studio, and a pirate ship with a slide. While Nora plays, I chat with other moms about preschool registration, kindergarten orientation, and what life is like with three kids under age five.

1:00 pm | Kids are asked to join the birthday girl in the party room for lunch and ice cream sundaes. Nora eats two bites of her chicken nuggets, a big pile of grapes, and two servings of potato chips. I eat a piece of the party sub and a cup of fruit while continuing to chat with friends. Nick sends a picture of Evie crawling through the tunnel. And I’m immediately reminded of the exact same photo of Sam at her age. Though her looks are starting to change, she still really favors her big brother.

1:45 pm | Kids are back to playing/running around like monkeys until they’re invited into the puppet theatre for a short show. It’s really cute, and Nora is captivated … until she has to go potty. Unfortunately, we miss the end of the show, but we return to the party room just in time for goodie bag distribution. And she’s pretty pumped about her pink balloon.

2:30 pm | It’s snowing! We race to the car, crank up the heat, and drive to Trader Joe’s. Nora really wants to bring her balloon into the store, but I convince her that it will be safe locked in our car.

2:44 pm | Nora is a big helper. Until she’s not. Then she starts crying. She doesn’t want to ride in the cart, and she doesn’t want to walk. It’s so crowded, and I just want to get through my list and get out of there. I bribe her with her favorite “letter cookies” and allow her to have a lollipop at check-out. $187 later … why is it so easy to spend money on groceries for the week? The clerk asks if I need help to my car. Because it never fails, I pile way too many things in my cart and almost always require a second one once everything is bagged. But I manage to balance the bags in the cart and push/slide it across the snow-covered parking lot.

3:30 pm | Finally home. And I am exhausted. I’m not used to so much adult socialization! Nick brings the grocery bags inside. I immediately change into sweatpants, make a cup of tea, and crash on the couch by the fire. Not surprisingly, the kids beg to go outside in the snow. They just do not understand the concept of relaxation. Despite Sam’s cough that seems to have gotten worse since I left him at lunchtime, I oblige. Lucy happily follows. They spend 20 minutes in the backyard, shoveling snow off the deck, making snow angels, and sledding down the hill.

4:00 pm | Nora is banging on the back door. “I’m freezing!” She has snowflakes in her hair, and her pants are wet. I change her, wrap her in a blanket, and cuddle with her on the couch. Nick and Sam sit beside us with hand warmers. And we enjoy just a tiny bit of down time until Evie wakes up from her nap.

4:30 pm | We get a picture text from my brother-in-law, who had lunch today with Nick’s brother’s family while in Phoenix for work. I say, “Sam, this is going to blow your mind.” And he says, “It’s not fair. Why does Uncle Steepie get to see Sean and Jackson?” (his cousins) Then he says, “This is breaking my mind!”

4:45 pm | I suggest to Nick that we make dinner for the kids, try to get them to bed early, then enjoy our dinner while watching a movie. And finishing the bottle of red wine that we opened the night before. “Yes!”

5:15 pm | The big kids are racing around like maniacs and fighting over the pink balloon from the birthday party. Evie is playing with her B. blocks on the floor. Nick is making dinner. And I sneak upstairs to get the rooms ready for bedtime: pull up the bed sheets, fluff the pillows, drop lavender oil into the diffusers, get towels and washcloths from the closet, lay out pajamas.

5:25 pm | Back downstairs to sit with the kids while they eat spaghetti and Italian chicken sausage. Evie is having roasted sweet potato, strawberries, and strips of red pepper. They eat enough of their dinners to warrant “letter cookies,” and I take advantage of some ABCs practice. Before long, they are chasing each other around the kitchen island, and Evie is screaming at the top of her little lungs.

6:15 pm | I ask which kid is ready for a bath, and they both refuse. Until I whisper to Nora that she can take a bath with Evie. I know she will happily agree to her first dual bath with her baby sister. I fill the tub for Nora, quickly wash her, then put the baby tub inside for Evie. Sam joins us (outside the tub because I’m not that crazy!), and they all play with the tea kettle and tea cups until they start to shiver and shrivel up.

6:30 pm | Nick dresses Nora while I dress Evie. Then he starts the shower for Sam. Nora asks for a bagel and cream cheese. And, as expected, when Sam is finished in the shower, he asks for one, too. So we all head back downstairs for a snack. But not before Sam spends a few minutes styling his hair. This is a new thing because, apparently, he turned into a teenager overnight.

6:50 pm | Evie is yawning and rubbing her eyes. So I take her back upstairs. Put her in her sleep sack, turn on the sound machine, nurse her for less than five minutes before she pulls off and just wants to lay her head on my shoulder. One of my very favorite parts of the day. I rock her for a few minutes, then lay her down, and she doesn’t make a peep as I close the door behind me.

7:10 pm | Big kids are back upstairs, and Nick is helping them to brush their teeth. Then he suggests he start our dinner while I finish bedtime. I agree because I know I’ll be more successful with getting the kids to sleep. He gives hugs and kisses goodnight and heads downstairs while the kids follow me into Nora’s room. I don’t even have to ask what book Nora wants to read — we’re on day 5 of Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow. I actually don’t mind the Ladybug Girl series. I appreciate the more mature language. And Nora doesn’t miss a thing. If I try to rush through (which I don’t tonight), she says, “Mommy, you didn’t say ‘the trees were creaking in the wind’ or ‘the sun glistening off the snow.'”

7:15 pm | We finish the book. And I ask Sam to go to his room to wait for me. Nora asks for her butterfly buddy light and flashlight. Then says, “Goodnight. Happy dreams. I love you.” Gosh, I am so grateful that bedtime has gotten easier with this one.

7:20 pm | I join Sam in his room, and he asks for one more book. I offer to do two pages from his Bedtime Math book. He chooses one about spaghetti and one about elephants. He’s still coughing a lot, but I don’t have any medicine to give him, so I cross my fingers that he’ll sleep through the night.

7:27 pm | I close Sam’s door and head down to the kitchen. Our goal was 7:00, but this is still really impressive for us. Dinner is ready: gnocci (thank you, Trader Joe’s freezer section) and Italian chicken sausage. We should probably add spinach or broccoli. But we don’t. We pour big glasses of wine instead.

7:30 pm | We decide to eat in the basement while watching a movie and agree on Bad Mom because we’re both in the mood for a comedy. We are laughing hysterically between bites and sips of wine.

8:30 pm | We pause the movie for ice cream sundaes. Because it’s Saturday night.

8:45 pm | We pause it again so I can run upstairs for a glass of water. But before I can fill my glass, I hear Sam screaming. I race up to his room to find him and his bed covered in vomit. Just. Great. I call for Nick for assistance. Nick puts him in the tub while I remove his sheets. Fortunately, nothing got onto the floor. But Sam is really, really upset. He says his belly doesn’t hurt, and I suspect he was just coughing so hard that he made himself sick. Nick takes care of the laundry while I lay with Sam for a few minutes. Never a dull moment.

9:05 pm | Finally ready to finish our movie. Definitely recommend it if you’re a mom, don’t mind some vulgarity, and want a few good laughs!

10:00 pm | Nick is ready for bed, but I decide to do a bit of bullet journaling before I call it a night. I’m a newbie to this trend, but am really enjoying it so far. I love the opportunity to get creative, to let go of my perfectionist tendencies, to write and draw and make lists. Hopefully I can keep up with it!

10:45 pm | Upstairs to brush my teeth and wash my face. I check on Sam, and he looks peaceful. Then I tip-toe into the bedroom where Evie and Nick and Lucy are already fast asleep. I follow suit as soon as my head hits the pillow.

12:30 am | Evie is crying. I get up to rub her back and make sure that her pacifiers are within reach. She settles back down and sleeps until just before 4am. And, fortunately, no more surprises from Sam.

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Letter to Evelyn: Seven Months

01.13.2017 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Dear Evie,

Every stage has its fun moments, but seven months is full of so many favorites! You are mobile and vocal. You are curious and content and gaining confidence every day. You can entertain yourself for long periods of time, but you still want to snuggle. You are capable of communicating what you want: when you want to eat, when you want to play, when you want to be held, when you don’t want to sleep.


At the beginning of December, you could not sit for more than a few seconds without toppling over. But you strengthened your little ab muscles and figured out how to stay upright just in time to open Christmas presents! Soon after you mastered sitting, you learned how to push yourself onto all fours, rock back and forth, scoot, and squirm across the floor. The house has officially been baby-proofed. (Well, except for Sam’s room, but that is never going to happen.)


You pick up toys and shake them and bang them and put them into your mouth. You try to pull over boxes and bins, try to open doors on toys and flaps inside books, try to turn knobs and push buttons. Basically, you are into exploring everything that you can get your little hands on! This includes Sam’s light sabers and Nora’s princess dolls. The big kids are usually good sports about sharing. And one afternoon, I caught the three of you playing with the Klip-Klop castle. Sam and Nora would take turns pushing the horses down the ramp, and everyone would giggle when you grabbed them.

Favorite toys this month include the dancing Bright Beats, B blocks and balls, the Poppity Pop Hippo, and the Leap Frog house. You still enjoy the jumperoo, though you much prefer to roll around on the floor. I suspect (hope!) we will be able to pack it away next month. You’ve also outgrown the beloved bouncy seat that has occupied (and contained!) all three kiddos, the K’tan wrap, and the reclining high chair. We lowered your crib mattress, raised the straps on your car seat, and moved you to the toddler side of the bathtub. Stop growing so fast, sweetheart!

Two itty bitty bottom teeth poked through at the beginning of the month, and I expect the top two are not far behind. You are wearing size 3 diapers and mostly size 6-9 month clothing. Diaper changes are nearly impossible if I don’t give you a toy to occupy your attention. You’ve had more blow-outs than I can count, and I’ve had to do full wardrobe changes on the passenger seat of the car and in the restrooms at Macy’s and Barnes and Noble.

You love riding in the stroller and don’t mind the car seat. You prefer to face forward in the Bjorn vs. towards me in the Ergo. One of my very favorite things is when I come home from running errands to find you strapped to Daddy. You kick your arms and legs and squeal with delight when you see me.

You are definitely noisier than either of your siblings were at this age. (Which leaves me quite nervous for how much louder you will be when you are the age that they are now.) You yell at the dinner table, screech in the bathtub, and protest if I put you down and leave the room. And your nighttime screams are persistent and ear piercing.

Let’s talk about nighttime. That was, by far, our biggest struggle this month. I got into the habit of nursing you back to sleep at least four times every night. Because it was a lot easier than listening to you scream, especially when your bed is just a few feet from mine. Then, before I knew it, I was bringing you to bed to nurse because I was too tired to sit upright in the chair. And, inevitably, you would nurse for two minutes, then fall asleep in my arms, and I would doze off beside you. I know. Auntie Laura already lectured me about a dozen times on the potential dangers of co-sleeping. So as soon as we returned from Christmas in Dover (because neither of us were able to make any drastic changes while traveling), I started a very loose adaptation of sleep training. Things are slowly improving — I’ll give a full progress report next month!

You may not be sleeping through the night. But your naps are solid and predictable. You sleep for 1 1/2 – 2 hours in the morning and another 1 1/2 – 2 hours in the afternoon.

Baby-led weaning is going strong. At the beginning of the month, you would gag and spit out almost everything that went into your mouth. But now you have figured out how to gum bites of food and work them around in your mouth until they’re manageable to swallow. You will eat everything that I put onto your plate: apples, pears, blueberries, mandarin oranges, cucumbers, peppers, steamed carrots and broccoli, roasted sweet potatoes, ground turkey, shredded chicken, cheese. You’ve even tried blueberry pancakes and taco meat.

What I love most about BLW is that it gives you the opportunity to set the pace. I’m amazed by how much you more efficient you’ve become in just one month. And our breastfeeding schedule has become more predictable — roughly six times per day vs. on demand.


I love how you hook your arm around mine when I’m carrying you on my hip and how your face lights up when I walk into the room and how you rest your head on my shoulder when you’re sleepy. You bring us so much joy, sweet girl!

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Letter to Nora: Three Years

01.09.2017 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Dear Nora Kathryn,

You are three! How can it be? You are sweet, silly, smart, sassy, spunky, stubborn. Affectionate, emotional. Creative, talkative, habitual. Demanding, dramatic, persistent. You challenge me. You exhaust me. You make me laugh. You make me thankful. You make me proud.

The two biggest changes in your little world this year? Becoming a big sister and going to preschool! And you are excelling at both.

You adore Baby Evie, and it’s been so fun to watch your relationship with her evolve. When she was born, you wanted to hold her and snuggle her and sing to her. You wanted to help with diaper changes and bath time. You constantly rubbed her cheeks and patted the top of her head, and you giggled when she wrapped her fingers around yours.

Now that she is sitting and (almost) crawling, you think it’s your job to monitor her playtime. This involves selecting which toys she’s allowed to play with and removing things from her hands if you don’t approve. If she topples over, you pull her back up. And I’ve caught you, more than once, trying to roll her over or re-position her. I suppose you’re just toughening her up like Sam has done for you!

You and Sam are capable of playing so well together — if you’re both in the mood. You set up dollhouses and bat caves for your little families of super heroes, princesses, Paw Patrol pups, and characters from Daniel Tiger and Peppa Pig. They fly in rocket ships and drive cars from your room to his. Sometimes they sleep, sometimes they battle, sometimes they go to school or to the grocery store. The scenarios are limitless. And it’s my favorite thing to watch.

You imitate everything that Sam does — from crawling under fences and hanging from bike racks to climbing rock walls and snow piles to scaling the railing of our stairs to slithering like a snake across the wood floors.

Sometimes I send the two of you (and Lucy) into the backyard to burn off energy. You dig holes in the dirt with tiny shovels, collect rocks, hunt for treasures, build sandcastles, play basketball, push each other in the Little Tikes car, and sled down the hill when it snows.

I can only imagine what kind of trouble the three of you will get into when Evie is big enough to join the fun!

You have adjusted incredibly well to preschool. It was an easy transition for you because you spent last year watching Sam and couldn’t wait to join him. You held big brother’s hand on the first day and didn’t shed a single tear, and you never complain about going. You are in the 2 1/2-year-old class (most of the kids are now 3) which meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am – 1pm. (Lunch bunch is well worth the extra few dollars every week!)

I love that you have made little friends of your own, and you have already attended at least five birthday parties. Tabitha is your “best friend,” and we often walk home from school with her. She’s come to our house for play dates, and the two of you are so sweet together. I almost don’t know that you’re here! So unlike when Sam has friends over to play, and they run around the house like little wild men.

Your teacher says that you are quiet in class, prefer not to be the center of attention, and follow directions well. She also says that are developing more confidence and independence as the school year progresses. I love to see your smiling face at pick-up and hear stories from your day — which often include how many times you got to play outside, what you ate for snack, and the artwork that you created.

You love books, stickers, puzzles, LEGOs, wooden blocks, play-dough, paint, flashlights, and anything from Sam’s collections of coins and rocks and seashells. You wear tutus and princess crowns, dress like a firefighter or a doctor, carry swords and light sabers, rock baby dolls, and tuck dinosaurs into the cradle. You sing songs, do somersaults, and spin in circles until you get dizzy and fall to the ground. You can flip your jacket over your head to put it on and insist on wearing your “pink Crocs” (Native brand shoes) almost every day.

You can sing the ABCs and count to 28 (sometimes higher, though you forget a few numbers). You recognize the letters in your name (and Sam’s name) and can write “N” and “O.” You can now draw recognizable figures like the members of our family, Rexy, and our house. One evening while watching The Jungle Book, you drew several scenes on your easel and recited them back to us when the movie ended. You have an answer to every question and a very detailed explanation to accompany it. Yes, you are our little storyteller — just like your momma.

You are also a little actress, when you want to be. You have such expression in your face and have perfected the pout. You can cry on demand and quickly turn it into a laugh. During our trip to Disney World, you were chosen from the audience during the Lion King show, and you surprised all of us and marched and danced around the theatre. You wouldn’t stop singing “I just can’t wait to be king” the rest of the night. You also worked up quite a sweat square dancing with Minnie Mouse at the BBQ dinner on our final night of vacation.

You steal my phone when we’re FaceTiming with Nini and walk around the house talking to her. And when friends or family come to visit, you give them a tour of our house and tell them stories about everything like Evie’s jumperoo, your “big girl bed,” Ricky, and the closet where we put our shoes.


Current favorite foods are “square pizza” (frozen Freschetta), jelly sandwiches (“no peanut butter”), pretzels and hummus, “pock-corn,” cantaloupe, apples, “nanas,” cucumbers, bagels with cream cheese, marshmallows, raisins, “circle crackers like Nini has,” bacon, sausage, and pistachios (“stash-i-os”). You and Daddy could eat an entire bag of pistachios, if I let you! Sam doesn’t like to eat them, but he’ll happily crack them open for you. You sometimes drink milk, but I think you only do it because Sam does. You get really upset if Lucy bothers you while you’re eating, especially if she tries to lick your chair. And you often end up in my lap, or on top of the table during mealtime.

We had a few rough weeks of sleep before the holidays. It was a huge struggle to settle you down for bedtime, and we both often ended up in tears. You got so upset if I messed up a tiny detail of your very strict routine — like if there wasn’t enough toothpaste on your toothbrush, or if I sang the wrong tune to my made-up “butterfly song,” or if your pink Minnie blanket wasn’t perfectly tucked under your chin (“that’s not right, throw it higher”).

Daddy and I both had to be in the room for hugs and kisses, and we had to count to 5 before blowing out the lights. Except 5 wasn’t 5, it was 8. And so I just let you say 8, even though I know you also knew it was wrong. Talk about testing your limits … and my patience.

You would finally fall asleep around 9pm. And then wake up around 2am to go potty. But then you would be awake for an hour or two! Of course this meant that you were an absolute disaster at 7am when you would still, inevitably, get up to start your day. Whew.

So I started rubbing your feet with coconut oil and lavender each night (and called it “magic lavender”) and slowly eliminated things from our routine and replaced them with shorter steps. I’m happy to report that (knock on wood!) you are now sleeping much better, from about 8pm until 7:15am with no middle-of-the-night wake-ups. We even recently switched your room with Sam’s (in preparation for room sharing with your little sister), and you handled it like a champ. Though you can now open your bedroom door and often sneak up to my bedside before I’m awake.

You are full potty trained, even at night. Though you’ve had a few random accidents. Like in your closet on top of a pile of stuffed animals. And while sitting on the couch and reading books while I was upstairs with Evie. That particular time, I found you sitting on the couch with one hand under your very wet bottom, and you said, “I catched it with my hand so you wouldn’t see it, Mommy.”

All of your babies are named “Nor-nah Kaf-rin Wi-yee.” You are still “Daddy’s baby” and his “Nora bear.” You love to ride on his shoulders and honk his nose. You call Sam “Dam” and “Bubba” and call Evie “cutie pie” in a high-pitched baby voice.

For quite awhile, Sam teased you because you said “funny” like “bunny.” Now you both say “funny bunny” and laugh hysterically.

More memorable things that you have said:
I heart you means I love you a lot.
Evie so much loves me.
Sam is my best friend.
Poop is not a nice word, Sam.
Don’t eat too many or you’ll get a belly ache.
My legs are too tired to walk.
I sleeping. Don’t wake me up. (You often pretend to fall asleep in the car or on the couch.)
It’s soon going to be nighttime. You better come inside and go to bed. (To all of us sitting on the deck at Nini’s and Poppy’s house.)
We have a big problem. I got bacon grease on my baby.
That’s not right. Why this not working. (With a very frustrated voice.)
I do nothing, Mommy. (With a very guilty face.)
I can find it, Mommy. I’m really good at finding things. (While sniffing your nose.)
Don’t worry, Daddy. I got it. It’s not too much water. (While carrying a full cup of water from the bathroom to your bedroom.)
Don’t yell at me. It’s not nice to yell.
I sorry I cried.
I didn’t meant to do it.
I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to play with Evie. I just want to sit here and be mad.
That’s impossible.
That’s easy peasy.
I have to go poopy. You have to wait a minute. It takes a really long time.
(When I say “good job,” you say … ) You’re welcome.
(While opening Christmas presents and birthday presents …) This is just what I wanted!

We celebrated your birthday early with family in Dover. Because we were all passing around a stomach bug, we had to cut the guest list. But we still had fun! And lots of chocolate cake with pink frosting.

On your actual birthday, you woke up to balloons outside your door and more downstairs surrounding your new scooter (just like Sam’s!) and Minnie Mouse helmet. Of course, you rode the scooter around the house all morning and insisted that we take it outside to the back deck as soon as you got home from school.

Oh, sweet Nora, you fill our days with love, light and laughter. We adore you, big girl!

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Rewind before the New Year

01.03.2017 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

One of my goals for 2017 is to blog more. Not to increase readership (because, let’s face it, Instagram is the place people go to read short commentary and scan through pretty pictures). I want to do it for memory keeping sake. Because life is moving fast, and these three kids that I’m raising are growing and changing right before my eyes.

Before I jump into the New Year, a little rewind is in order. Because, aside from monthly letters to Evelyn, gift guides, and a day in the life post, I haven’t really blogged since August (!!).

Jersey Shore

We took our first family trip to the Jersey Shore while Nick was off on paternity leave. There was wave battling, boogie boarding, beach tossing, army crawling. And Evelyn dipped her toes in the ocean for the very first time.

  

Purple Playground

We couldn’t go to LBI without visiting Lauren’s playground. And I’m convinced that she was watching the kids play from above.


Kirby Visit

Always entertaining when we get this crew together! Pool time, superhero costumes, ice cream cones, adventures at the park. Even if the older two boys decided to celebrate 25 years of friendship by drinking tequila until 4am, and Carrie and I had to solo parent the following day. It’s always worth it.


Anniversaries

37 Years for Mom and Dad: A lot has changed since my parents said “I do” on that hot August day. They have raised 3 children, loved 4 dogs, and spoiled 3 grandkids. They have watched golf at Pebble Beach and soccer in Liverpool. They have been to both coasts, the mountains, and the city. They have built a beautiful home that everyone loves to visit. They have hosted countless parties and picnics, celebrated birthdays, graduations, weddings, and babies. And they have weathered many storms — those that have tested their health, their patience, their endurance. But one thing has not changed in 37 years: their commitment to one another. There are likely more obstacles ahead. But there are also more adventures.


7 Years for Us: We got dressed up to celebrate the wedding of one of our best friends on the day before our own anniversary. I even convinced Nick to dance to our wedding song when the band played it during dinner. I love our noisy, crazy, busy, beautiful life together!

Evelyn + Eveyln

Evelyn finally got to meet her namesake!

Nora’s First Haircut

Back to school haircuts for the big kids … and Nora’s first! (Assuming we don’t count that time I tried to trim her bangs and regretted it immediately.)

First Day of Preschool

Sent the big kids to preschool with pennies in their shoes and kisses in their hands. On our walk, I asked what they want to be when they grow up. Sam said a police officer because they have walkie-talkies and guns and hand-cuffs to catch the bad guys and stop the robbers. And because they’re like Batman — except real. Nora said a princess. Then she changed her mind and said she wants to drive an airplane.

 

Lucy’s Birthday

We celebrated Lucy’s 4th birthday with homemade party hats and peanut butter cookies.

Disney World

We did Disney! But that deserves a post all of its own.

Sam’s Birthday

We spent Sam’s actual birthday in Disney World. But when we got home, he invited a few friends over to celebrate again. They took off their shirts as soon as they arrived. They jumped and wrestled in the bounce house. They battled with light sabers and sat still for less than 5 minutes to work on a new LEGO set. They barely touched their pizza, but came running when I said it was time for cupcakes. And the whoopie cushion was a huge hit. Pretty standard evening with four 5-year-old boys.

Fall Days

We took advantage of some warm fall days. And Nick took Sam geocaching. Treasure hunting for kids! They both loved it.


Second Cousins

Second cousins, born exactly one month apart! We were excited to finally get these two together.

Halloween

Holidays are always more fun when you can put your kiddos in matching jammies.

 
Sam was very specific in his Halloween costume request this year: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fortunately, we found a Jedi costume that fit his requirements. Also, I had no idea who Obi-Wan was last year at this time. And now I am versed in all things Star Wars.


And then he said, “I’ve been Obi-Wan like five times. I’m going to be Captain America now.” And Nora decided that she wanted to wear a different princess dress and add butterfly wings. Our baby girl giraffe fell asleep while trick-or-treating downtown. We made it down one side of South Street before the kids got bored, so we headed home to eat candy and watch Halloween movies.

Baby Shower

The group is growing by one in January. Congratulations to Mike and Kayley! We can’t wait to meet little Cerney!

Election Day

I wanted to take the big kids to vote, too, but I couldn’t figure out the logistics. Instead we talked about it during breakfast. Nora said she’s voting “for the girl.” And Sam said, “I’m going to vote for George Washington.” Good choices, kids. Unfortunately, neither of our candidates won. And I struggled with what to tell the kids. This. This is what we tell our children. To honor the outcome of this election. But to continue to fight. To be responsible members of a civic society. And to treat all people with love and respect.

Date Night

We hired a legit babysitter and enjoyed a date night with friends. Only our third night out since we moved to NJ. Believe it or not, I actually remembered how to converse with adults.

American Museum of Natural History

We spent an afternoon at the museum. Sam was most interested in the Indian weapons. Evie squealed at the sight of the elephants. And Nora tried to give big bear hugs to the bears.

 

Thanksgiving

Sam enjoyed a Thanksgiving Feast at school, and he was incredibly proud to share his homemade pumpkin bread.


We traveled to Bethlehem for our own Thanksgiving Feast. Love this yearly tradition. And these three little turkeys. The big one, too. Even on our craziest days, I know how blessed we are. 

Big Ten Champions

The kids were asleep before kick-off, and the adults took advantage of the grandparents visiting and sneaked out to watch the game with friends. It was a good day to be a Penn Stater.

Remembering Sandy Hook

The 4th anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. I found myself feeling extra grateful as we went through the motions of our morning routine. Sam requested spaghetti and meatballs for breakfast, and I obliged. I let the kids play dinosaur hunt longer than usual — because they are so lucky to have each other — even if it meant being a few minutes late to school. I kissed the top of Sam’s head, under his Spider Man hat, as he took his teacher’s hand and walked into the building. And I was overwhelmed by the trust we put into those teachers to provide a safe environment for our children. Our cousin, Lauren, will always be a true symbol of a compassionate teacher who embraced her students until the end. Thinking of her and all of the families who still long to hug their children.

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Holiday Gift Guide: Three-Year-Old Girl

12.15.2016 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

For our imaginative, artistic, active preschooler who will be three in just a few weeks!

(1) Dollhouse: Nora (and Sam!) play with her Fisher Price dollhouse and princess castles almost every day. So I’ve been considering this upgrade for quite awhile. Then Sam saw an advertisement for one on his Kindle and encouraged Nora to ask for it for Christmas. That sealed the deal! She’s also getting the doll family and professional dolls and SUV to drive them all around.

(2) My Little Sandbox Fairy Garden: Because she loves sand and tiny fairies. (Sam is getting the Builder Box.)

(3) Scooter and Helmet: This is actually Nora’s third birthday gift (which she’ll get just over a week after Christmas.) She’s been trying to ride Sam’s scooter since last summer, and so she will be thrilled to have one of her own to take to the park. (And, yes, we are very, very happy with this model!) I opted for the mini version, best suited for children under 5. And I hope that baby sister will enjoy it as a hand-me-down in a few years when we upgrade Nora to the big kid version.

(4) Roll and Play Game: We love charades and the magic moves wand and any game that gets us up and moving. Looking forward to trying this one out for family game night.

(5) Doctor Dress-Up: No such thing as too many dress-up costumes. Both kids are constantly changing characters.

(6) Jumbo Safari Animals: Sam received the jumbo dinosaurs a few years ago, but they have migrated to Nora’s room (and, surprisingly, Sam doesn’t mind). In fact, Nora often chooses one (usually Rexy or Baby Dinosaur) to sleep with at night. The quality is amazing, and so I know this set will not disappoint. I foresee many safari hunts in our future.

(7) Play Dough Tools: Stocking stuffer!

(8) The Day the Crayons Quit: I can’t believe that we don’t already own this book. A definite necessity for our art-obsessed girl. Also on her wish list: Ladybug Girl several books from the Elephant and Piggy series.

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Holiday Gift Guide: Five-Year-Old Boy

12.13.2016 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

For our inquisitive and adventurous 5-year-old boy who loves building and exploring and all things Star Wars.

(1) Bow and Arrow: What boy doesn’t want his own bow and arrow? This thing soars over 125 feet, so we may have to reserve archery practice for trips to Nini’s and Poppy’s house. But Sam will be thrilled to find this under the tree on Christmas morning. Also on his list? Nerf guns. And I am so thankful that Santa Claus, himself, reminded Sam that he’s not supposed to point Nerf guns at his sister. Way more effective than if the words had come out of my mouth.

(2) Magna-tiles: We love, love, love our magna-tiles. So we obviously had to add to our set this year. This is really a gift for both big kids.

(3) Bedtime Math: To accompany Math Monday nights with Daddy.

(4) Zingo: The kids get at least one new game every year. And this one got great reviews. He’s also getting Pie Face, purely for its entertainment factor! I expect to play several rounds over the holidays.

(5) Kylo Ren Mask and Lightsaber: Because our boy is still very Star Wars obsessed. We’ll see how Kylo Ren’s light saber holds up in battle against Obi Wan’s.

(6) Safari Vest: Sam is constantly imagining adventures around our house and yard. I can just picture him wearing this vest while hunting for stuffed giraffes, tagging insects for the zoo, and cutting ice blocks.

(7) Metal Detector: Another tool for Sam’s backyard adventures. He is going to love this.

(8) Story Cubes: Grabbed these to go in Sam’s stocking, and I can’t wait to create stories with him. I got sets for a few of Sam’s friends, too.

(All links are Amazon affiliate links.)

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Letter to Evelyn: Six Months

12.10.2016 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Dear Evelyn,

Happy half birthday, sweet pea! Every day you feel a little bit bigger, you squeal a little bit louder, and you squeeze our necks a little bit tighter. You light up our days (and our nights), and I’m trying my best to hold on to every moment with you because you are growing far too fast.

You communicate with gggggs and kkkkks and bbbbs. You giggle when I kiss the sweet spot between your ear and your shoulder. You grunt and grab my shirt if you’re hungry. You yell at the big kids if they upset you. Yes, you have learned that you need to scream loudly to be heard in this house. You have quite the set of vocal chords, little one!

I suspect this will be the last month to enjoy your gummy grin. I expect two tiny teeth to poke through any day! Your fingers are constantly in your mouth, the collar of every shirt is covered in drool within minutes of putting it on, and your cheeks are a permanent shade of rosy red. Teething may also be the reason that you are still not a stellar sleep.

On a good day, you take a two-hour morning nap and a two-hour afternoon nap. Bedtime is at 7pm. But you almost always wake up screaming around 10pm. And again at 1am and 4am. And you are typically ready to start your day by 6:30am. I admit that I have not been very good at sleep training — it’s hard when you are still in our room! In fact, on more than one occasion, I have committed the big “no-no” and brought you into bed with me. But now that we have officially switched the big kids’ rooms — making room for your crib in the new purple girls’ room — I have more motivation to train you to sleep through the night.

This month, Mommy and Daddy planned a date night with our first real babysitter … ever! Needless to say, I was nervous. But I put you to bed before we left, the big kids had a blast, and we were home before your first wake-up. Another night, we took advantage of Oma and Opa visiting and went out with friends to watch the Penn State championship game. (I know, two nights out in one month! Insane!) As expected, you woke up at 10pm, but Opa didn’t mind rocking you … until the game got really, really good. Then he took you to the basement to watch the second half. You were wide awake and content when we got home at midnight. Little stinker!

Despite multiple nighttime wake-ups, you are so pleasant during the day. You are now capable of rolling and scooting all over the floor, dumping over buckets of toys, pulling ornaments off the Christmas tree, locating every tag and every buckle on every thing, chewing on books, spinning in your jumperoo, grabbing rattles and shaking them, banging a drum, sitting with minimal assistance. And, of course, picking up everything and putting it directly into your mouth.

Marbles and coin collections and tiny crystal rocks have been packed away. And the kids have been instructed to keep all LEGOs in Sam’s room. Baby proofing is a whole lot harder this time around! Fortunately, you don’t mind the pack ‘n’ play and are content to safely play with your toys in it while Sam and Nora play beside you.

But not to worry. We give you lots of pincer grasp practice at the dining room table. That’s right. You are now eating solids! One week of shy of your half birthday, I put a banana spear on your plate, and we haven’t stopped since. You’ve had sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, apples, and pears. But I forgot how baby-led weaning is a little bit intimidating in the beginning. I watch you like a hawk and take away pieces that I think are too big for you to handle. And then you scream at me. Girl likes her food! Just like her parents.

You have really started to interact with your big brother and big sister. You will sit beside Nora in her armchair while she reads books to you (and you try to take them and eat them). And Sam loves when you grab his fingers or his face. They amuse you to no end. You are constantly turning your head towards their voices and giving them big, genuine smiles. I love having a front row seat as I watch your relationship with them grow.

You are curious: constantly tugging at the strings of my sweatshirt and trying to pull tags off your toys. You are cautious: backing away from unfamiliar faces. You are observant: watching every detail with those big blue eyes. And you are oh so sugary sweet.

Let’s hope the next six months don’t fly by as fast the previous six months. Love you, Evie!

 

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Letter to Evelyn: Five Months

11.08.2016 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Dear Evelyn,

You are five months old and sweet as can be. You have so much expression in those big blue eyes, and your gummy smile lights up your entire face. We are all just so in love with you!

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I believe you are going to be a storyteller like your big sister. You are constantly cooing and gurgling and blowing bubbles. You giggle when I kiss the soft spot just below your ears. You squeal with delight when I fly you around the house like an airplane. You grunt and grab my shirt if I try to stop feeding you too soon. And you immediately scream if I leave your sight. You have certainly learned to make your voice heard in this loud house of ours.

You reach for toys, shake rattles, hit and kick the big buttons on your music box, stick the tags of stuffed animals into your mouth, and try to eat my phone when we’re FaceTiming.

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Girl, you are on the move! I lay you on a blanket, and less than one minute later, you are stuck under the jumperoo, or you are trying to roll inside Nora’s dollhouse, or you are on your way into the dining room to grab the Matchbox cars that are scattered under the table. Yes, the time has come to baby proof the house. I think I’m just going to put a gate at Sam’s bedroom door because it is impossible to keep all of those tiny LEGO pieces off of his floor.

You don’t like to sit still in my lap, either. You are constantly trying to arch your back and turn and climb up to my shoulder.

You flap your arms and legs, and I ask, where are you trying to fly off too, Miss Evie?

During diaper changes, I have to make silly sounds and click my tongue to keep your attention on me and not on the wall that you’re trying to roll towards.

You have outgrown the bouncy seat, though I still sometimes strap you into it while I take a quick shower. You love to sit in the high chair while we eat, and in the Bumbo while the kids play.

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You now prefer the big kid stroller to the rolling car seat base. And you always look forward to our afternoon walks to pick up Sam and Nora from school. You love to people watch as much as your momma! So some days we will leave early and sit outside of the bakery, drinking coffee and chatting with strangers that can’t help but smile as they walk by you.

You would also much rather face forward in the Bjorn than face me in the Ergo. (Oh, if only that option had existed when I purchased the Ergo three years ago.) So, I put you in the Bjorn while I’m cooking dinner or picking up the house. And you try so hard to grab the wooden spoons and rubber spatulas and paper towels.

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You not only look just like your brother, but you also act a lot like him at this age. We are still in the midst of a sleep regression, and I keep reminding myself that I survived with Sam, and I know that I will survive with you. We’ve eased into a 7pm bedtime, and I always lay you down awake and without a pacifier. You typically fuss for a few minutes before falling asleep. But you always, always wake up screaming about three hours later. Sometimes you settle down within 5-10 minutes, and other times, I rub your back or sing songs or, eventually, give you the binky. I nurse you when you wake up at 1am and 4am. And you are usually pretty restless at that point, and so I lay awake with you for about 20 minutes while you grunt and groan and grab my face. It’s getting better, but we could all benefit from longer stretches of sleep.

Despite my sleep deprivation, I am absolutely soaking up the snuggles with you. I love when you lay your head on my shoulder and wrap your arm around mine. I often rock you longer than I need to. And I promise it’s not only to avoid bathing the big kids.

Fortunately, you have really improved in the nap department. When we’re home (which isn’t always, thanks to the kids’ schedules and errands that need to be run), you will sleep for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. It’s really amazing what I can accomplish during that time! Especially when Sam and Nora are at school.

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I still nurse you between 6-8 times per day. And I’ve been a little bit lazy with introducing solids into your diet. You’ve tried applesauce and avocado and pears in the mesh feeder. I look forward to moving right into BLW when you turn six months old.

I suspect you weigh about 14 pounds now. You wear 6-month clothing and size 2 diapers. Your thighs are growing bigger and stronger, your belly is a little bit rounder, and you have developed tiny creases at your wrists.

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Lucy is your new best friend. As soon as I put you on your play mat, she lays down right beside you. You smile and reach for her and try to grab her hair. I think you’ll be climbing onto her back in no time.

Sam and Nora are still both obsessed with you. They pull up stools beside your jumperoo and fight over who can sit closest to you. Sam is incapable of climbing into his seat in the back of the car before he kisses your hands and your forehead at least five times. And Nora is immediately at your side if she hears you cry.

Daddy says he misses your smile when he’s at work. He looks forward to singing with you and bouncing you on your belly every evening.

And I can’t imagine my days without you. We love you to the moon and back, sweet girl!

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Letter to Evelyn: Four Months

10.23.2016 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Dear Evelyn,

I took your photos on the day that you turned four months old. But it has taken me almost three weeks to write your letter. Such is this season of life.

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You surprise me daily with new tricks. You have discovered your hands and your feet and your tongue. You are constantly sucking on your fingers and your toes and blowing bubbles and raspberries. Sometimes during dinnertime, Sam and Nora will imitate you and try to put their feet in their mouths or blow saliva bubbles across the table.

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You can roll from back to belly and back again. One night, while we were all watching a movie in the basement, you rolled right off the blanket and ended up under the train table. The big kids thought it was hilarious.

This newfound skill means that diaper changes have become pretty challenging. And bedtime is even more difficult. As soon as I lay you down on your back in bed, you flip over. This means that I can no longer swaddle you at night. Along with natural changes in sleep patterns that occur at this age, you are waking every 2-3 hours, and are not able to fall back asleep unless I rock you and nurse you. I know this is a bad habit that we will eventually need to break. But I can’t stand to hear you cry for more than a few minutes. Especially because your crib is just a few feet from my bed! Oh, sometimes I miss the newborn days when you would sleep soundly for 5 hours.

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Naps are hit or miss right now, too. If you can get past the 30-minute mark, than you will typically sleep for a glorious two hours. Otherwise, it’s cat naps throughout the day. I know it doesn’t help when I’m constantly interrupting you to run errands or pick up the kids from school or meet friends at the playground.

Even though I really don’t think you’re sleeping enough, you are still a pleasant baby.

You love to kick in the bathtub and sit at the dinner table. You bounce in your jumperoo and reach for the animals that hang above your activity mat. You love the o-ball and toys that make crunchy sounds. You are fascinated by anything that lights up and plays music. You will sit in your bumbo and what the big kids play, and you especially love when they include you. Nora reads books to you and piles stuffed animals around you. Sam flies his Star Wars ships in front of your face and examines you with his doctor’s kit.

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At your 4-month check-up, you weighed 12 lbs 12 oz and measured 24 inches long. I scheduled your visit at the same time as Sam’s 5-year check-up and, of course, Nora was along, too. That made for an interesting hour sitting in the exam room. Between the three of you, you had five shots. Yikes!

I moved you into size 2 diapers this month, and mostly 6-month clothing. You’ve gotten lots and lots of new clothes since Nora was wearing summer clothes at this age. We sure didn’t plan that right!

I still mostly nurse you on demand because it’s what works with our schedule. This turns out to be between 6-8 times during the day and 3 times during the night. You have also recently showed interested in the food that we eat. When I hold you in my lap during meals, you follow the fork from my plate to my mouth and often try to yank my place mat off the table.

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We took our first big family vacation with you this month … to Disney World! The drive down and back was not easy. I spent most of it sitting in the middle seat between you and Nora: entertaining you with books and toys, soothing you with the light from your pink giraffe, shhhhing and singing you to sleep. And I even figured out how to nurse you while we were driving. Let’s not even talk about how confusing it was for you and how uncomfortable it was for me!

But our week in Disney World was really magical. You were completely fascinated by the rides (It’s a Small World and The Voyage of the Little Mermaid) and the shows (Beauty and the Beast, Frozen Sing-a-Long, and The Lion King). You especially loved Minnie Mouse and Doc McStuffins. You spent a lot of time sleeping in the Ergo — through fireworks and live music and meals. And you were carried all over the parks by Oma and Opa. I promise we will take you back again in a few years when you can enjoy all of the rides with Sam and Nora!

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Evie, I love to cradle you and cuddle you. I love the sound of your voice and your little laugh. I love to watch you interact with Sam and Nora and Lucy. Little one, you complete our family in a way that I didn’t even know was possible. Love you!

A Day in the Life | Fall 2016

10.21.2016 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

One day I will miss the morning hustle to comb hair and brush teeth, little lunch boxes with jelly sandwiches and goldfish. I will miss light saber battles, ABC books, LEGO pieces in every room in the house, and a refrigerator covered in magnets. I will miss the multiple requests for hugs and kisses long after the lights go out, midnight snuggles, and the soft snores of sleeping babies. My hands are so full these days. But so is my heart.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Emily: 34 | Nick: 34 | Sam: 5 yrs | Nora: 2 1/2 yrs | Evelyn: 4 months | Lucy: 4 yrs

12:51 am | Evelyn is stirring. Then she is whimpering. And, as expected, she is screaming in less than a minute. Ugh. Four-month sleep regression is hitting us hard. For the past two weeks, she has been waking every 1-3 hours during the night, and is not able to fall back asleep unless I nurse her. I was prepared to start “sleep training” this week. Then she caught her first cold, and so I delayed the inevitable. I scoop her up from the crib that is set up in the corner of our bedroom (because … small rental house with only three bedrooms), and I nurse her back to sleep. I climb back into bed about 15 minutes later.

1:44 am | Nora is crying and calling for me. Is there such thing as a 2 1/2-year-old sleep regression? Because big sister has also been waking up almost every night for the past two weeks. Sleep deprived does not even begin to describe my current state. Since Nick has been sleeping in the basement (yes, I gave him permission), I roll out of bed and stumble down the stairs to Nora’s bedroom. She wants a hug and a kiss and needs to be re-tucked under her Minnie blanket.

1:46 am | Nora is calling for me again. This time she has to go potty. Because, of course, we couldn’t take care of that the first time I got up. She insists on turning on the light, setting up her seat on the potty, wiping herself, and flushing. Then we have to go through the entire “goodnight, happy dreams, I love you” routine again.

1:50 am | “Mommy, I have to go poopy!” OMG. So it’s going to be one of those nights. I sit her on the potty again. She does her business and asks if she can have two gummies in the morning (her reward for going poop on the potty that we really need to phase out since she’s been potty trained for about four months now). Then hugs and kisses and goodnights.

1:55 am – 2:37 am | I’ll skip over the details of the next 40 minutes. And just say that there was a lot more “Mommy, I need you” and “Mommy, please come down here right now” until I lost my patience, picked her up, and took her downstairs to sleep on the air mattress with Daddy. She was grinning, and he looked very confused, as I practically ran back upstairs and dove into bed.

4:07 am | Evie is crying again. I should be thrilled that she just slept for four hours, but of course, I had basically just closed my eyes. Quick diaper change, nurse, rock, back to bed.

4:58 am | I’m not sure that she ever fell back asleep. I just heard a lot of sniffling and snorting. So we try the bouncy seat, hoping it will help with the congestion. No luck. She’s in bed with me 15 minutes later.

7:02 am | We both sleep soundly until Sam comes into the room. He’s ready to start his day, I definitely am not. So I guiltily suggest that he get his Kindle and watch a show for 30 minutes.

7:36 am | Evie is awake, kicking her feet, trying to grab my face. I nurse her in bed, my eyes barely open. Then we head downstairs to find Sam sprawled on the couch, wearing only his underwear because that’s how he insists on sleeping now.

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8:00 am | I chat with Nick while he drinks his coffee, and I wait for my own to brew. He says he had to rub Nora’s back for about 15 minutes until she fell asleep. I apologize for dropping her on him in the middle of the night. But, really, I’m not sorry. Sam joins us at the table with a bowl of Rice Krispies and bananas with honey drizzled on top.

8:20 am | Nick is in the shower. Lunches are packed. Sam is still watching the Kindle (I know, mother of the year), Evie is content in her high chair, and Nora starts to cry in the basement. She says, “Daddy left me here all by myself.” It takes a solid five minutes to calm her down, followed by another five minutes of crying because … she can’t find Mickey Mouse, her place mat is not right, she doesn’t want the bagel and cream cheese that I made for her, she wants to watch a show with Sam. She finally pulls herself together and eats a blueberry waffle while I get Sam ready for school.

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8:45 am | Both big kids are dressed, teeth brushed, hair styled, shoes on. It’s picture day, so they’re looking extra fancy. I, on the other hand, change out of pajama pants and into sweatpants and pull my hair into a messy ponytail. And Evie just stays in jammies. We rush through a quick photo shoot on the front porch. Kiss Daddy goodbye. Load all three kiddos into the car. And drive about 1/2 mile down the road for school drop-off. Because some mornings I just don’t have the time or patience for all of the hopping, skipping, running, and brick wall climbing that occurs during our walk to school.

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9:10 am | Back home. I make a second cup of coffee since I only had a few sips of my first. Evie plays in her jumperoo for about 10 minutes while I clean breakfast plates and wash the crock pot from last night’s dinner. Lucy barely moves from her spot at the front door.

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9:30 am | Evie is getting fussy, so I take her upstairs to change her, which is an incredibly difficult task these days. Then I put her in the crib with some toys while I make the bed. But that doesn’t last very long. So I nurse her, and she is sleeping shortly after.

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9:50 am | Back downstairs to finally get some breakfast for myself: eggs and toast. Nick and I have fallen off the paleo wagon since our trip to Disney. I really just don’t have the motivation right now for all of the meal planning and prepping that is involved.

10:00 am | My sister FaceTimes, and I can’t remember the last time I talked to her without interruption from children. We talk for a solid 20 minutes and promise to make it a weekly date when the big kids are at school. I finish cleaning the kitchen and straighten the dining room table.

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10:45 am | Evie is still sleeping. Woo-hoo! We are passed the 45-minute mark, which means she should sleep for at least two hours. I take advantage of the quiet and get a quick shower. Use the two products I cannot live without: R+F eye cream and dry shampoo to conceal my tired eyes and postpartum hair loss. Then get dressed for the day.

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11:10 am | Littlest is still sleeping! I debate another cup of coffee, but chug a big glass of water instead. I consider cleaning up Nora’s and Sam’s rooms, but I decide to wait for their help. Sam has recently expressed interest in earning an allowance, and he was thrilled when I gave him a dollar for picking up his toys earlier this week.

11:30 am | I sit down on the couch with my laptop and start to type notes from my day thus far. Sitting on the couch is a luxury I rarely get to enjoy these days. Oh, wow, is it nice! It’s so quiet that I can hear the clock ticking across the room.

12:20 pm | I get lost in writing, and when I look up at the clock, I cannot believe that Evelyn has been asleep for 2 1/2 hours. I give her 10 more minutes then wake her up to go get the big kids. This is Nora’s second week in “lunch bunch,” which means that she stays until 1pm, rather than the previous 11:30am pick-up. Obviously, I am loving the extra time. It means that Evie usually takes a longer nap, and I only have to do one pick-up rather than two.

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12:45 pm | We walk the few blocks to school, and I’m glad that we got out since the clouds are rolling in, and the forecast in calling for rain. We’ve been so spoiled with 80 degree days in October.

1:00 pm | Nora comes out of her classroom first. Her bow is on top of her head, like a unicorn, and her teacher informs me that she’s been fussing with it all day. I just hope that it was in the right position for photos! Sam is next — looking almost as tired as Nora. In fact, neither of them run through the building like they typically do. And, when we get outside, Nora says, “I’m tired.” To which I reply, “That’s because you didn’t sleep in your bed last night.” And she says, “No, I’m tired because we took so many pictures today.” Sam chimes in and says, “I’m tired, too.” Followed by, “I’m tired of waiting for my Jedi costume to arrive.” Which we just ordered last night, by the way.

1:10 pm | This is seriously the most quiet walk home from school that we’ve ever had. Nora is sitting at the foot of the stroller, and Sam hasn’t let go of the handlebar since we left the building. Seriously, what has happened to my children?

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1:12 pm | One of Sam’s classmates catches up with us, and Sam immediately morphs back into the spunky kid that I know and love. Nora follows suit. And the three race the rest of the way home while my mom friend and I push strollers and chat.

1:30 pm | Back home. Shoes in the closet, backpacks on the hook, and I’m impressed with how much both kids ate for lunch. And so I allow them to have ice cream cookie sandwiches for a treat. Evie snacks on her toes. Then Nora plays cars and Sam battles Spider-Man and Hulk Smash while Evie rolls around on her play mat. I realize that I haven’t had lunch, so I take the opportunity to eat leftover quinoa and carrots plus a chunk of Harvarti dill cheese.

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2:00 pm | Lucy alerts us that a package has been delivered to the door. It’s a big box from Gap/Old Navy with clothes for the whole family! All three children needed new wardrobes for the fall/winter. And why didn’t we consider that our second and third would be complete opposite seasons?? Sam is excited to try some cozy clothes on little sister.

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2:15 pm | Evie is getting tired again, and the other two are requesting the iPad/Kindle. They start with games (Ninjago and Daniel Tiger) and switch to shows (Power Rangers and Paw Patrol) by the time I get back downstairs.

2:44 pm | Clean up the kitchen, fold a stack of dish towels, pick up a few toys, fluff the pillows on the couch, then decide that I need a break of my own. I set the alarm on my phone for 3:30 and snuggle up beside Sam and Nora. I know it’s dangerous to take a nap in the middle of the day, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary.

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3:29 pm | Evie wakes up one minute before my alarm goes off. She is screaming by the time I get upstairs and definitely not done sleeping. So I rock her for about 10 minutes and attempt to lay her down. But she wakes up immediately. So much for that nap. At least she got a good one in this morning.

3:40 pm | Back downstairs, and I tell the kids that screen time is over. They both ask for Goldfish, and Evie has some playtime.

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3:50 pm | We head upstairs to Sam’s room. I pick up a bunch of LEGOs from Sam’s floor (how am I ever going to baby-proof this house??) before I lay Evie down on a blanket. Nora puts on a fireman hat and starts to read books to a pile of stuffed animals. And Sam changes into his karate uniform. But he has to stop halfway through his wardrobe change because he gets a bloody nose. This is the second one in the past week. Nick says he used to get them as a kid, too. I make a mental note to order a new humidifier for his bedroom.

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4:15 pm | Sam has quickly recovered and hands me a light saber for our first battle of the evening. He says something about “fulfilling our destiny.” Nora is still very much wrapped up in story time. Evie watches us from the Bumbo. And Lucy lays right smack in the middle of everything. We battle, we play, we read, we sing, we blow bubbles. I sneak upstairs to change the sheets on Evie’s crib because they’re spotted with snot and drool. Then I text Nick to find out what time he will be home from work and eventually decide that I need to start dinner.

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5:15 pm | I warm up leftover sausage and peppers, bake two small loaves of bread for sandwiches, and boil water to make tortellini for the kids. I slice some strawberries and steal a bag of M&Ms from the stash we still have leftover from Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I do all of this while bouncing Evie around in the Bjorn.

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5:30 pm | Sam is now dragging Nora around the living room on Evie’s play mat. Lucy is barking at cars. And Evie is over the Bjorn. I convince the kids to join me at the dining room table for some art activities while I count down the minutes until Nick gets home.

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5:45 pm | Daddy is home! He’s greeted at the door with hugs from the big kids and lots of sloppy kisses from Lucy. He says this is his favorite time of day. He immediately shows the kids the box of Kinder Eggs that his boss brought back from Canada. And Sam exclaims, “Daddy went to Canada today!” Because he used to bring back the chocolate treats when he traveled there every week during the fall.

5:50 pm | I’m trying to wrap up dinner and fix plates. Sam and Nora are fighting over the Eggs, and Nick is trying to get a “thank-you” photo to send to his boss. I tell him that the kids are fast approaching “hangry” status and are likely not going to cooperate until after dinner.

5:55 pm | We sit down to eat dinner and talk about the best parts of our days. Sam: “Playing cars at school. And Colton is my new best friend.” Nora: “Playing outside at school.” Nick: “Getting a good score on my performance review.” Emily: “Defeating Sam in our light saber battle.” (Which Sam informs me that I did not.) We all agree that Evie is most excited to eat applesauce for dinner, and Lucy is happy that Daddy is home.

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6:10 pm | Finish dinner and open our Kinder Eggs. (Right after Nick gets his cute kid picture.) Each Egg has a little character toy from Finding Dory. Nick makes the mistake of telling Sam that his is a water squirting toy, which prompts Sam to fill a little bowl with water and squirt it all over the dining room.

6:30 pm | Time to take Evie upstairs for her bath. Sam and Nora had theirs last night, so I only have one kid to clean tonight. While my hands are on the baby in the tub, the big kids fill the sink with water and continue to play with their new Finding Dory toys. I call for Nick’s help because I have a feeling that the sink is going to overflow any second. Yes, I’m right, and Nick drains the sink and redirects the kids’ attention to toys in Sam’s room.

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6:45 pm | I ask Nick to get Sam and Nora into jammies while I do the same with Evie. He attempts to wash their hands and faces and brushes their teeth, even though Nora says, “I want Mommy” about a dozen times. Both go potty and get a drink of water. Check, check, and check. Nora comes upstairs to jump on the bed while I rock Evie. I quietly sing, “no more monkeys jumping on the bed,” which she thinks is hilarious.

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7:05 pm | Evie falls asleep while nursing. Of course. I carefully lay her into bed, and even though she’s sleeping, she immediately rolls onto her belly. I start the white noise and tip-toe out of the room. She’s crying about two minutes later. So I go back up to give her the binky, and she quiets down again. Come back down to find Daddy giving horsey rides back and forth between Sam’s and Nora’s rooms.

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7:15 pm | We start family story time in Sam’s bed. But the kids are fighting over who gets to open the flaps in their new Mickey Mouse Halloween book. Nora decides that she wants to take the book and go to her room with Daddy, which has not happened in weeks. This means that I get to spend some rare quiet time with my big boy. We read Star Wars ABCs, which he has almost entirely memorized, and two more Halloween books. One prompts a discussion about bats because he’s been learning about bats in school this week. He informs me that they’re nocturnal, they sleep hanging upside down with their wings wrapped around their babies, and they are blind so they use echolocation to fly through the sky.

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7:30 pm | I sneak over to Nora’s room to grab the Mickey Mouse book for Sam to read. Nick is singing “Rock-a-Bye, butterflies.” He tucks her in and says “goodnight until your green light comes on.” But she insists that he leave the door open for Mommy.

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7:35 pm | Nora appears at Sam’s door at least five times while I’m reading his last book. I kiss him goodnight, turn off his light, and turn on his turtle stars, then put Nora back into bed. No sooner is she under the covers that she decides she needs “one more teeny tiny sip of water.” And, of course, she has to get it herself. She turns on the faucet as slow as it can possibly drip and takes an eternity to fill her water cup all the way to the top, only to take a teeny tiny sip of water and dump the rest back into the sink. Every. Single. Time.

7:45 pm | Hugs and kisses and multiple goodnights for Nora, some of which happen after I already close the door. Nick is doing work on his laptop, and I come downstairs to put the dinner plates in the dishwasher. I hear Nora screaming upstairs, and Sam appears in the kitchen, declaring that he’s “starving.” He believes that he is “starving” multiple times every day. I get him a banana with peanut butter and ask Nick to check on Nora. I hear her yelling, “I want Mommy!” But I decide to finish cleaning before I go up.

7:55 pm | Sam finishes his banana, brushes his teeth again, and climbs back into bed. Nora is still screaming and sweating by the time I get into her room. I pick her up and change her shirt. Then I take her to the bathroom for yet another teeny tiny sip of water. And I lift her up to the mirror to see how sad she looks. We talk about having a nice and happy bedtime, which we’ve been talking about every night for the past two weeks. We go through the motions yet again. “Goodnight. Happy dreams. I love you.” Fortunately, this time it sticks.

8:00 pm | Whew. We’ve been trying so hard to move up the kids’ bedtimes. But, it never fails, 7:15 so quickly becomes 8:00. I fall onto the couch beside Nick and zone out for a good ten minutes before he suggests that he make popcorn and we watch an episode of Suits, our latest Amazon obsession.

8:25 pm | We’re downstairs on the couch with Lucy, big bowls of popcorn, and cups of tea. Less than 10 minutes into the show, I hear Evie crying. I wait a few minutes before going up to check on her. Binky back in, and she’s good.

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9:15 pm | Episode is over. We should probably call it a night, but we decide to watch another one. But first I rinse our popcorn bowls, run the dishwasher, and move some laundry to the dryer.

10:15 pm | Now it’s really time for bed. We chat about the upcoming day and our plans to have friends over for brunch on Sunday while Nick fixes the sheets on the air mattress and promises that he’ll move back into our bed this weekend. Lucy has definitely been enjoying this temporary sleeping arrangement because it means she gets the couch all to herself.

10:45 pm | Lights out and prayers that everyone sleeps well tonight.

12:30 am | Evelyn is stirring, whimpering, screaming. Lather, rinse, and repeat. (But at least big sister sleeps through the night!)

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