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.
‘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
(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.
Next up: Tried and true favorites in our house.
(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!
(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:
Links are to Amazon Affiliate, but everything here was purchased or will be purchased by us.
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.
I love the idea of a “sprinkle” — a celebration of a second (or third or fourth) baby. But I was not expecting one at all. Well, I should have known that my mom and sister would not miss an opportunity to spoil momma and baby girl!
This gathering was more informal and more intimate than the last, and it was perfect. I walked in the door of my parents’ house after our maternity photo shoot and was so surprised to see grandmothers and aunts and cousins gathered in the family room. I really had no clue why they were all there until I saw the stack of pink packages. I am grateful to have such a wonderful and thoughtful family, and I can’t wait to welcome our daughter into it in just a few short weeks!
I also have very generous friends and was thankful for the opportunity to gather with them (sans kiddos!) for an evening out last Friday. I didn’t know most of these moms just one year ago, and now I can’t imagine not having them in my life.
They gifted diapers for baby girl and helped to stock our freezer with everything from breakfast sandwiches to pulled pork and chicken parmesan.
Each day is one day closer to meeting our sweet daughter!
A big thank you to our friend, Mandy, for capturing our family of three before we become four! All photos credit to Mudpies N Butterflies.
Ho, ho, ho! Hello, December! This could be your birth month, baby girl. Unless you follow in big brother’s foot steps and choose to arrive fashionably late. But please know that Momma won’t mind one bit if you decide to make an early appearance.
We still need to assemble the crib and wash your clothes, and I have about a dozen nursery craft projects to complete. But I would still welcome an early arrival!
I have said this about a billion times already, but this pregnancy has felt so different than my last. I have no time to kick up my feet during the day — or at the end of it. I’m not able to walk every evening due to a toddler who refuses to sit in his stroller and a pup who constantly pulls at her leash. I’m typically in charge of all meals since Nick has such a busy work/school schedule. And all day, every day, I have to respond to requests to “play choo choo” and “drive that car” and “polar bear down slide.”
But also? It totally melts my heart to watch Sam “play” with you and call you by name and tell everyone that he helped to paint your nursery “pur-kle.”
Mostly, I just feel bigger this time. I’m up about 30 pounds at 35 weeks, according to the scale at the doctor’s office. (And this is after removing my heavy boots at my 32-week appointment — to which I’m pretty certain the nurse snickered). I gained a total of 36 pounds with Sam, so I suppose I’m on track. But I feel rounder and wider and, recently, much lower.
Symptoms include heartburn, pain in my lower back, shortness of breath, and a bloody nose. All common, but all uncomfortable, nonetheless. Sleeping has become more challenging, and I’m up at least three times to use the bathroom. During our recent Thanksgiving trip, Sam caught a cold and insisted he sleep in bed with us rather than on his toddler-size air mattress. Did I mention that we were in a double bed? And that both Sam and Nick chose to sleep on their backs? This left very little room for Momma and her big belly. It was a rough couple of nights. But I was rewarded with a trip to the Hershey Spa. Needless to say, that massage was the best I’ve ever had!
And then, just days later, we saw this sweet cherub face, and all felt right in the world!
You cooperated for our little third trimester “photo shoot,” and we were thrilled to see those chubby cheeks and the same pudgy nose that your brother has. You smiled and waved and showed off those fierce gymnastics moves that I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks. Also, you are measuring one week ahead of schedule! Head down, fluid levels are in check, and you weigh 6ish pounds (give or take 15 ounces). My Momma instinct says you will be in our arms before January 8th, but we shall see!
Love you so much already, baby girl. We can’t wait to meet you!
Well, we sufficiently stuffed ourselves with turkey and pecan pie. We bid farewell to the last of autumn’s leaves. We packed up the pumpkin decor and have started to deck our house with nutcrackers and snowmen and garland climbing the banister. Yes, December has arrived.
Welcome! It’s going to be a busy one, but let’s not forget to enjoy the quiet, magical moments.
Not a day goes by that I don’t wish we lived closer to family. For spontaneous weeknight dinners, to help with appointments and errands, for conversations that don’t involve cellphones and computers. Maybe one day we will be so lucky. But for now, we will cherish the time we do have together.
Last week we were fortunate to have my mom, Sam’s Nini, spend almost a full week with us. Perfect timing, too, because Nick was gone three of the four weeknights, plus the entire weekend.
Nini came with us to Barnes and Noble story time, Kindermusik, and swim class. We shared bagels at Panera and take-out pizza, and we enjoyed a popcorn and movie night. And it probably goes without saying that Sam was one spoiled little grandson!
Nini brought a “fun bag” filled with craft projects, books, puzzles, and a few new toys. I swear that the two of them ran upstairs every other hour to pull something new from the bag.
I also got to spend an entire day by myself! I sipped a peppermint mocha in the car while listening to real adult music; I got my haircut and my eyebrows waxed; and I tried on clothing without having to wrangle a toddler into the dressing room with me. Also? Sam barely noticed when I left, or when I returned.
Thank you, Mom, for choosing to spend your vacation with us. We miss you already!
This pasta dish is a favorite weeknight meal of ours. It’s hearty and tasty and comes together in less than 30 minutes. I’ve had four requests for the recipe since I posted it on Instgram, so I figure that makes it blogworthy. Enjoy!
Orecchiette with Sausage Sauce
- 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
- 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage (or just use 1 lb sweet)
- olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup beef broth (or red wine)
- salt and pepper
- 1 lb orecchiette
- 1 big bunch spinach
- Parmesan cheese for topping
- Remove sausage from casing, crumble, and cook over medium heat until brown, about 5 minutes. Remove cooked sausage from pan and place on a separate plate lined with a paper towel.
- Add olive oil, chopped onion, and chopped garlic to pan. Saute for about 5 minutes.
- Add sausage back to pan, plus tomatoes and broth/wine. Season with salt and pepper. Set heat to low and simmer sauce.
- Meanwhile, cook orecchiette according to package directions, about 11 minutes. Add spinach to sauce when you have about 4 minutes left on the pasta.
- Toss pasta with sauce and serve with cheese.
I realize that Santa arrived at the mall two weeks ago and at least half of you have already set your Pandora station to holiday tunes, but I must recap our Halloween for posterity sake. So here we go.
We chose a simple costume for Sam this year — one that required no additional purchases except for a new white shirt, which he needed anyway. The pants came from last year’s local consignment sale; we got the hat when we met Thomas; and I found the red handkerchief at the bottom of a dresser drawer. Easy-peasy!
Allow me to introduce our mini train conductor.
Sam learned to ask for “treats, pease” followed by “dank doo” just in time for Halloween. We enjoyed several festive playdates, and we spent a Friday evening at the mall with at least 1,500 other kiddos where Sam ate no less than five lollipops. The weather on October 31st was cold and rainy, but we managed to make it around the cul de sac and fill his felt pumpkin bag with lots of goodies.
Holidays are so much more fun with kids!