Nora’s Birth Story

01.16.2014 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

January 5th, 2014. Three days before our due date, and nearly two weeks after I felt my first false contraction, I woke up at 4:30am (not unusual). But this time was definitely different. How could I have possibly forgotten the feeling of a true contraction?

I got up to use the bathroom and turned on my phone to start timing the contractions. I woke up Nick after 30 minutes of contractions that consistently came just 5 minutes apart. I didn’t want to overreact, but I also suspected (and hoped!) that baby girl would come much faster than Sam did. So I jumped in the shower and, by the time I had finished, Nick had made the bed, packed his bag, took out the trash, started the car, and turned on the Keurig. Daddy was ready!

I called the doctor at 6:30am and said I was pretty certain that today was the day! He said to come right in. So we called our friend to stay with Sam and made the much anticipated calls to our parents and were on our way!

Contractions were bearable, but I was so ready to get out of the car and walk. In fact, I didn’t even want to sit while registering at the hospital, and so I paced while providing my information. Before we knew it, two nurses had arrived with a wheelchair, and we were whisked up to the fifth floor.

I was just 4cm dilated upon arrival, but my doctor did not hesitate to admit me. She said she would prepare the paperwork for my epidural and be back to break my water. Wait! I said. That wasn’t my birth plan. My (very attentive) nurse explained that I wanted to do this naturally — as long as possible. And after the doc left, she apologized on her behalf, and said that was just typical routine. But not for me.

So the nurse hooked me up to an IV and the fetal monitor and said I had to lay in bed for 30 minutes. But as soon as they recorded the necessary readings, we were up and ready to walk the halls!


We walked and walked and walked some more and returned every 30 minutes for 15 minutes of monitoring. Surprisingly, the next two hours passed pretty quickly. Of course, the contractions steadily intensified, and by 10:30am, I had reached 7cm. I was breathing deeply and groaning through the peak of each contraction while Nick rubbed my lower back and listened to my demands for “higher” and “lower” and “harder.” And then my water broke (which it never did naturally with Sam), and I felt some sense of accomplishment.

The nurse reminded me that my window for getting an epidural was quickly closing, and I decided without hesitation that I would get one. I felt I had labored naturally as long as I could and was ready for a bit of relief before meeting our baby girl.

I endured about 15 more minutes of painful contractions before the needle was inserted and began to work its magic. Though, because I was only given one initial “test” dose, I still felt each contraction. But I rolled onto my side and was able to relax and felt grateful to still feel so present in the moment.

Within about 45 minutes, I began to feel the urge to push. It seemed fast, but I called the nurse anyway. Sure enough, baby girl was ready! However, my sister and my parents were still about 15 minutes away, and Laura really wanted to be in the delivery room with me. She’s in her final year of nursing school and had not yet had the opportunity to see a childbirth. I mentioned this to the nurse, and she said we could wait, if we wanted to. Baby girl was fine, and I was comfortable. And so we decided to wait. Which felt very strange. But also very exciting as Nick and I counted down the final minutes before our daughter joined us.

Soon we heard footsteps running down the hallway, and Laura burst into our room, breathless and thankful she had arrived in time! The doctor and nurses were right behind her. The lights dropped from the ceiling. And it was go time!

Unlike Sam, this baby girl was anxious to enter the world! Her head full of dark hair was visible before I even began to push. And after just 5 minutes and 3 really big pushes, we heard the sweet, sweet sound of her cry for the very first time. Welcome, Nora Kathryn!


The nurse placed her slippery, pink, perfect body on my chest while a very proud Nick cut her umbilical cord. She snuggled right up to me, her heartbeat fast and the rhythm of her breath quick and steady. And it was a moment we will never, ever forget.


We were quite surprised by Nora’s hair … and her size! She had slender feet and long fingers like her big brother. But those cheeks! And that belly!


A whopping 8 pounds 5 ounces! Nearly 2 pounds bigger than Sam was at birth. I had felt during my entire pregnancy that I was carrying more baby this time, but I never expected to birth an 8 pounder!


After a quick wipe down, Nora was placed back in my arms, and we spent the next hour staring into her perfectly round face.


It is true that childbirth is no less of a miracle the second time. My heart instantly expanded to make room for her, and I felt the immense joy of becoming a mother all over again.


And Daddy? Well, let’s just say it was love at first sight.


Laura was thrilled to share this special moment with us and declared it was “the coolest thing” she had ever seen. We welcomed my mom back to the delivery room to meet her first granddaughter and witness her first bath.



And then it was back into Momma’s arms. Her body felt so warm and full of life. I studied her face and her features and felt so thankful for another beautiful, healthy child.


Our Daughter

01.10.2014 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of our daughter, Nora Kathryn!


She has a full head of silky soft hair and kissable cheeks and is content despite the chaos that is currently our life. Much more to come!


Letter to Samuel: 27 Months

01.03.2014 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Whew. Between facing the final weeks of pregnancy, prepping for a house full of holiday guests, and disciplining an increasingly opinionated toddler, December was an exhausting month! But it was also magical and memorable. Let’s find out what our Mr. Samuel has been up to this month.


{Photo Credit Mudpies N Butterflies}

Likes: Curious George. The Goldbug book (yes, still obsessed). Your first movie in the theatre! You especially loved the popcorn and Pepsi in a dinosaur cup. Baking, decorating, and eating Christmas cookies. Searching for Bobby the Elf every morning, and then enjoying the advent treat he left for you. Your new airplane and, especially, the drill that came with it. Shoveling snow with Daddy. Wearing your jammies all day. Climbing on furniture. Running laps around the house. Crashing cars. And challenging rules.

Dislikes: Nap time. Bedtime. And any attempt at quiet time.

Communication: You added so many Christmas words to your vocabulary this month: Santa, elf, reindeer, snowman, jingle bells. You almost always speak in complete thoughts and full sentences. And you have started to talk to baby sister on the phone, which is beyond adorable. You tell her all about your toys and how she will sit beside you in the car and that she gets the airplane and you get the digger truck. I do believe you think a little playmate is going to pop out of Mommy’s belly.

Milestones: We said bye-bye to the binky this month! It was a big deal and happened about three days earlier than we had planned. We had intended to coordinate its departure with the arrival of Sankt Nikoloaus on December 6th, but you chewed through your very last one earlier that week. And so instead of rushing to the store to restock, we asked you to put your “bees” in a box. You understood that the “bees broke,” and it was time to get rid of them. You fussed for less than 15 minutes that night before drifting off to sleep … and haven’t asked for them again since! You were rewarded the next morning with a new fire truck.

However, I do believe this is the reason that sleep has been incredibly challenging this month. It now takes up to an hour to get you down (not including bath time), and some nights you are awake until after 11pm. Naps now start anytime between noon and 3pm and last 20 minutes to 3 hours. Oh, how I miss your predictable routine! You have also mastered the art of stalling. You ask for “more books,” “more talk,” the “blue car,” the “race car,” “water,” “pretzels,” and sometimes even “mac and cheese.” You stand at the gate and yell for us and request that we “lay down in Sam’s bed.” It’s very exhausting for all of us!

The holidays didn’t help. And with baby sister due to arrive any day, I hesitate to implement any new “training” tactics until we adjust to life with a newborn. I know this is just another phase that will eventually pass, but that recognition never makes it feel any easier when you’re in the middle of it!

Behavior: While we’re on the topic of new challenges, let’s talk about your behavior. I don’t care for the term “terrible twos,” but I do believe we’ve entered them. You have become more opinionated and demanding and use a “mean voice” if we deny your ridiculous requests. You sometimes hit and kick and throw things if you don’t get what you want. You think spitting and slamming doors is funny. Basically, you break rules and test our patience on a daily basis.

And so we have had many discussions about how to best discipline you. Time-out is sometimes successful, and we use it to discuss your behavior and ask that you apologize. We constantly talk about “nice Sam” versus “mean Sam” or “crazy Sam.” And I do think you understand the difference. We also continuously remind ourselves that this is a common stage in development and as you become a more effective communicator, your behavior will improve.


Two isn’t always so terrible, though. The “I sorry”s and “I yuv you”s and “I miss you”s make all the crazies more tolerable. When you greet Daddy at the door with open arms and climb into my lap on the couch and tuck us both under your blanket, we are reminded that you are still our sweet and loving and innocent little man.

And so I try to keep things in perspective. I try to keep you active and stimulated and make sure you get enough sleep. And I try to appreciate your determination and independence. Mostly, I try to be completely present in these final days with you, little buddy, before baby sister is born.

Bumpdate: Weeks 36-39

01.01.2014 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

The holidays have come and gone. The Christmas decorations have been put away until next year. Our suitcase is packed. And your room is ready! I’ve been feeling Braxton Hicks for about a week now (which I never had with Sam), and I was convinced at least three times that I was going into labor. Daddy and Sammy have been running around the house chanting: “Baby sister, time to come out and play!” Though I suspect your big brother thinks a playmate is going to pop out of Mommy’s belly.

Yes, we are all very excited to meet you, sweet girl.


Fortunately, the past three weeks have been much more comfortable than the previous three weeks. Perhaps it was the excitement of the holidays, or maybe it’s just Momma’s nesting instinct in full swing, but I’ve had so much energy. I’ve prepared freezer meals, baked dozens of cookies, washed and folded five loads of itty bitty pink clothing, cleaned every corner of the house, and sanitized all of Sam’s toys. My feet hurt and my lower back aches at the end of every day, but it’s tolerable. And worth it.

And now we wait. I almost forgot what it felt like to wait. To have no control over when you choose to arrive. So. Much. Anticipation.


But we want you to come when you’re ready. So keep on enjoying that cozy, quiet space. Because when you get here, we will party!

Favorite Moments of 2013

01.01.2014 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

2013 brought so much good fortune to our family. And we look forward to all that awaits us in 2014! We thank you for your friendship and wish you love and happiness in the new year.













A Very Merry Christmas

12.30.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

‘Twas a very merry Christmas — just the right amount of quiet and chaotic.

We hosted my parents, my siblings, and their significant others for five days. And Sam was completely spoiled by their love and attention.


We baked cookies for Santa.



And Santa bread, too!


And we woke up to a living room full of gifts on Christmas Day.


We heard a lot of “oh wow” and “super cool” and, fortunately, “thank you” that morning.






Of course, every gift that Sam unwrapped, he wanted to immediately open and play with — including a marble maze, Lego blocks, and his airplane (the hit of the holiday, I do believe!).


The big kids were spoiled, too, with fun gifts from Mom and Dad: dance lessons for Laura and Stephen; a couples massage for Andrew and Emma; and amusement park passes plus a night out for me and Nick.



I just love our family traditions: new pajamas from the elves, stocking gifts, and mimosas on Christmas morning.


And this year we added cinnamon rolls to our breakfast menu. Definitely a repeat!


We stayed in our PJs all day — and at least two full days after that one. We did lots of cooking and baking and indulging. We played games, watched movies, and just enjoyed being together.

17    22



We hope your holiday was as lovely as ours!

Our “Modest” Christmas Tree

12.17.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

We agreed this year to get a “modest” Christmas tree. And yet, somehow, we still ended up with a 7-footer.





And did I mention that we braved snow and 20-degree temperatures to find the perfect one? It took at least twice as long to drive to the tree farm, and we had to enlist help from a stranger when the minivan got stuck in the parking lot. Speaking of the minivan (that, yes, I do love so much), it couldn’t get up our very steep and unsalted driveway. And so Nick had to hoist the tree onto his back and carry it up to the house.

Oh, the things we do in the name of Christmas.


At least we managed to keep the decorations simple: gold shatter-proof balls; a few significant, but not fragile, ornaments; and, usually, a safety gate to keep Lucy from drinking the water.


I just love the warm glow of a Christmas tree, don’t you?

Purple for Lauren

12.14.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

I can’t let today come to an end without sharing a tribute to our cousin, Lauren Rousseau. One year ago, so many of you wore purple to show your support to our family and the other lives lost at Sandy Hook. My sister-in-law and I compiled the photos you shared with us into an album for Lauren’s parents. It is a beautiful way to remember sweet Lauren, and I thank you for your continued love and support.

Click here to view this photo book larger

The new way to make a photo album: photo books by Shutterfly.

Gift Guide for Toddler Boys

12.10.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

‘Tis the season for gift guides! If you find yourself in my position this year — preparing for a baby while simultaneously decking the house and getting ready for holiday guests — you haven’t yet finished your Christmas shopping. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime! I love looking to other mommas for gift ideas, and I hope you will find our guide just as helpful.

First up: a few items from Sam’s wish list


(1) Lego Duplo Creative Cars: We already have the construction site and farm sets, which we love.

(2) Steam Train, Dream Train: I assume this will be as big of a hit as Goodnight, Construction Site.

(3) Melissa and Doug Shopping Cart: We’re adding to Sam’s kitchen corner this year, since he currently loves to “cook” for us. I just hope I don’t regret getting this cart that he will likely try to race around the living room.

(4) Brio Boxcar Train: Also adding trains and accessories to his hand-me-down Brio train table.

(5) Hape Hamburgers and Hot Dogs: More food items for pretend play.

(6) Hape Mighty Mixer: As much as Sam loves to help me bake, I know he will find a mini version of my stand mixer to be “wow, super cool.”

(7) Battat Take Apart Plane: Comes with a power drill! Sam will go nuts over this.

(8) Crocodile Creek Vehicles Floor Puzzle: Ready for some more difficult puzzles. And this one comes highly recommended by Oh! Apostrophe.

Next up: Tried and true favorites in our house.


(1) Green Toys Recycling Truck: Sam loves to fill this with matchbox cars and drive it around the house. The other vehicles in the series: the Dump Truck and the Fire Truck are just as much fun.

(2) Do a Dot Markers: We’re currently really into arts and crafts, and these paint markers are great for practicing the lines of letters and numbers.

(3) Melissa and Doug Puzzles: You really can’t go wrong with Melissa and Doug puzzles, in my opinion. We have a few stacks, but this set is a favorite.

(4) Melissa and Doug Corner Kitchen: Santa brought this for Sam last year, and he plays with it even more now than he did then. Can’t wait to add to his kitchen collection this year!

(5) Play-Doh Barnyard Pals: Nini brought this for Sam during her recent visit, and he is obsessed. It will keep him occupied for a good 30 minutes at a time.

(6) B. Parum Pum Pum Drum: We have had this drum set forever, and it’s still a favorite. We’ve added quite a few instruments from Kindermusik class, and we love to play “marching band.”

(7) B. Dr. Doctor: Another great find from the B. series. Sam especially likes to check the baby’s heart in momma’s belly.

(8) Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker Pads: There’s a big variety of these available, just make sure to get the “reusable” version. It’s a favorite!

(9) Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go: Sam has become very, very good at finding the goldbug on each page. I never tire of hearing him say “goldbug, where are you?” and “there he is!”

(10) Lift-the-Tab: Trucks: This was a birthday gift from Sam’s little buddy, and it became a fast favorite. Sam has even memorized the names of the drivers of all the trucks!

And, finally, past gift guides:

Favorite Toys at Ten Months
For the One-Year-Old (part 1)
For the One-Year-Old (part 2)

Links are to Amazon Affiliate, but everything here was purchased or will be purchased by us.

Letter to Samuel: 26 Months

12.10.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Likes: Puzzles, play-doh, sticker books, and craft projects. You still amaze me with your coloring skills — you switch hands to get the best angle and fill in tiny circles with your favorite colors (purkle, boo, red). You spend extended periods of time every day playing with your matchbox cars. You drive them along the couch cushions and race them around the carpet and load them in your truck — along with pepperoni and mushroom pieces from your pizza set. You have also started to “crash” your cars, which typically leads to quite a mess and, inevitably, mama or dada stepping on at least one pile of cars every night.

Dislikes: Sitting at the table for dinner. Let’s blame it on an easily distracted and increasingly picky toddler. You typically do very well during breakfast (cereal with bananas, pancakes with syrup, scrambled eggs with ketchup) and lunch (macaroni and cheese, sliced ham, cucumbers, grapes), but dinner is a struggle. I ask you to take “three more bites” before you’re allowed to get down, and we count them together. I sometimes even bribe you with dessert if you finish your turkey burger or slice of meatloaf or piece of lasagna. Yes, I have become that mom.

Favorite Foods: Speaking of food, you do have a few favorites: all things pasta, grilled cheese (which you now like to dip in tomato soup just like mama and dada), pizza, raisins (ria), bananas (bina), strawberries, and treats. Between leftover Halloween candy, chocolates from your Advent calendar, and Christmas cookies, we certainly eat our fair share of “treats.”

Favorite Books: Uncle Andrew recently gifted you his favorite childhood book: Richard Scary’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, which we affectionately call the Goldbug book. And you love it as much as he did! It didn’t take long for you to memorize where the Goldbug is hiding on most pages, and you often point him out before we can find him. You say “Goldbug, ere awr you?” and “ere he is!” Another new favorite this month: The Potty Train, which you call “choo choo poop.” (Thanks, Nini.)

Favorite Activities: Family movie night! Almost every Friday night, we make pizza, choose a movie (Planes, Despicable Me, Toy Story) and snuggle together on the couch. You last about 45 minutes before you get antsy, and so we take an intermission for bath and jammies and a big bowl of popcorn. It’s such a fun new tradition. Another favorite activity: you love to help feed the dog (who you finally call “Lucy!”). You give her three scoops of dry food and stir in the yogurt. Then you pick up her bowl when she’s finished and say “good girl, dog.” It’s pretty darn cute — and helpful!

Communication: You’re still surprising us with new words every day: lap, table, polar bear, dinner, alligator, buckle. And you now often speak in sentences. Some of my current favorite phrases: I stuck. Yes, I did (in your deep man voice). Where (fill in the blank) go? There it is. And the very best one: I wuv you. Every night, we say “I wuv Mama. I wuv Dada. I wuv baby. I wuv Sam. And, always, I wuv Ricky.” Yes, you are still very fond of your stuffed frog. You give him hugs and kisses and clean his face and take such good care of him. I am so amazed by your innocent and unconditional love. You have also become very sensitive to the emotional state of others. You act sad when Dusty is sad in the Planes movie, and then say “hooray, all done sad!” when he’s all better. And you love to point out the “appy” truck in Goodnight, Construction Site, and say “cheese!” You can also quickly identify the “bad guys” in the movies we watch. Other favorite expressions: oh wow, whoa, cool, super cool.

Behavior: One milestone I regret to report this month is that you have started to hit and kick and throw tantrums when you don’t get what you want. It’s not as terrible as it sounds, and it only lasts about 20 seconds before you say “I sorry.” But it’s frustrating, nevertheless. We talk about “crazy Sam” and how he’s not nice, and sometimes we resort to timeout, which consists of sitting with you in the corner of the office and counting to ten. I know this is common behavior for a two-year-old and that you are just trying to express your opinions and demonstrate your independence, but I really hope this stage doesn’t last much longer!


Sam, sometimes you test my patience, but you are still such a love bug. I am trying my very best to soak up these last few weeks before we welcome baby sister into our lives! Love you to the moon and back, kiddo.