Bumpdate: Weeks 23-26

10.07.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

This bumpdate marks the end of the second trimester. Whew! What happened to the last 13 weeks? Seriously. And I believe that life is going to get even busier. Fall festivals, family visits, Thanksgiving, holiday parties, Christmas, New Years, and then … baby girl, you will be here!

You are growing bigger by the day. In fact, you now weigh about 2 pounds. And your movement has become much more significant and noticeable. I can feel kicks and punches and your head and your rump. Along with these new movements has also come aches and pains and cramps in my lower abdomen.  But I will take any amount of discomfort to know that you are thriving.


I got a nasty cold this month that turned into a sinus infection. And so I must apologize for the constant coughing and sneezing. Every night I used the netty pot, at least 25 tissues, vapor rub, and aquafor on my sore nose and lips. Thank goodness that is behind us. Although, we did get to enjoy quite a few chocolate peanut butter milkshakes. Thank you, Daddy.

Speaking of my sweet tooth, I have my glucose test next week. Hopefully those milkshakes + Sam’s birthday cupcakes don’t skew the results. I will also start the see the doctor every two weeks after next week’s appointment. Hard to believe we’re here already!


I know that you and my belly still have a lot of growing to do. But, wow, simple tasks are already becoming difficult. Like painting my toenails and tying my shoes. My back hurts if I sit on the floor for too long, and I’m constantly bumping my belly against the kitchen sink and Sam’s changing table. Of course, we have so much to look forward to! A nursery to paint and decorate. Pretty pink clothes to wash. Baby gear to pull out of storage. 26 weeks down, and only 13 more to go!

Transitioning our Toddler to a Big Boy Bed: Part 1

10.03.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

For the past year, life with our little guy been fairly predictable. Yes, we’ve had the occasional 2am wake-up call, the sidewalk face-plant that takes your breath away, the days he wants to consume nothing but cheese sticks and sweet tea, the temper tantrums in Target that cause you to abandon your cart in the pharmacy aisle. But we’ve had a routine, and we’ve mostly stuck to it.

Well, all of this changed just before his second birthday.

I put Sam down for his regular nap time of 1pm, which he rarely resists. Then I went to lay down because I had had a particularly rough night of sleep. Sam tossed and turned for about 15 minutes — typical. But then he proceeded to throw all six stuffed animals out of his crib — not typical. After he emptied his crib, he very, very easily pulled himself over the railing and gracefully slid down to the floor. I watched and recorded the whole event, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

Once his feet hit the floor, he looked around in amazement as if to say, “Wow! I’ve never done that before. Now what?” He pulled out some books and toys and played for about 5 minutes before he realized he could also … open the door. So, of course, he did. Then I heard the pitter-patter of his little bare feet as he made his way over to my bedroom. I have never seen a more proud expression on my toddler’s face as he declared, “All done!”

I tried to contain my giggles as I explained to him that he was not “all done,” and that he had to go back to his room for a “rest.” I’m sure you can guess where this story is headed.

I put him back in his crib, and he promptly climbed out about eight more times. Finally, I grabbed a safety gate from downstairs and put it at his door. He was surprisingly okay with the fact that he couldn’t leave his room and, instead, he pulled every single item out of his dresser. This occupied him for about 20 minutes.


Of course, he did not nap that afternoon. Or the one after.

We had been planning to transition Sam to a big boy bed before baby sister arrives in January, but little mister had his own timeline in mind. Read more about the big move at WhatToExpect.com. And check back for details about what’s working for us a month later.

Weekend at Penn State

10.02.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

As a college student, I remember walking to Beaver Stadium after a morning of Miller Lites and hamburgers on the propane grill and smiling at the sight of little boys dressed in blue and white jerseys, throwing the football with their fathers. It’s a moment I’ve been anxious to share with my own family. And we finally made it happen!

We kicked off our weekend at Penn State with a visit to the iconic Lion Shrine. He’s looking better than ever these days, I must say.


Penn State Class of 2032 right here!


Friday’s weather was perfect, but Saturday’s was wet and dreary. We made the most of it, though. And Sam was such a trooper.


He was SO excited about “football!” And his new jersey. And hanging out with the big kids.


Sam had a few shots of Gatorade, and my brother brought him a bowl of Jell-O. And I made my son promise not to play frisbeer or drinko again until he’s 21.



Surprisingly, the little kiddo climbed into his car seat for an afternoon nap before we headed into the game. Which gave me just enough time to catch up with my old college pals.


Then we put on our rain gear and walked through the puddles to Beaver Stadium. Fortunately, our seats were under rooftop. Otherwise, I doubt we would have made it more than two minutes into the first quarter.

Sam was completely mesmerized by the pregame festivities. He kept clapping and shouting “go, football!” and “yay, football!” And then he spotted the Nittany Lion, and he didn’t take his eyes off of him for the remainder of the game. In fact, he cried if he lost sight of him.

We ate concession stand snacks and danced to the Blue Band and walked to the opposite side of the stadium to get closer to the Lion. We made it to halftime before heading back to our friends’ place for hot showers and sweatpants. It may not have been the sunny September game day I had hoped for, but it was still pretty perfect.


The grand finale of our trip was meeting the Nittany Lion on Sunday morning. Sam roared and gave him a high five, and it was awesome.


When I tucked him into his own bed later than night, Sam said, “Momma, thank you, football.” And then I cried. I love, love, love sharing these memories with our son!

Little Mr. Fix It Second Birthday Party

10.01.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

We celebrated our Little Mr. Fix It last Saturday with a very happy birthday party!


I incorporated Sam’s favorite things into the party decor: tools, hard hats, balloons, and cupcakes. Or, as he calls them, “happy cakes.”



Each little party guest received a tool belt filled with plastic tools and crayons, as well as a personalized hard hat. I had so much fun assembling these favors!


I created a few banners and decorated with crepe paper streamers and construction cones.


And I couldn’t resist displaying a few of our favorite photos from the past two years.



I kept the snacks simple this year, too — fruits and veggies, chips and pretzels, and Goldfish. And a dessert table, of course.


I baked yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. So easy and so good!



And a few of them were adorned with tiny tools to fit the theme.


I also baked a batch of sugar cookies and decorated them to look like tools. I was quite nervous about how they would look and taste. But they were a hit!

mr-fix-it-birthday9   mr-fix-it-birthday12

Fortunately, we had perfect weather that day and set up most of the activities outdoors: cardboard boxes to color and construct.


And a sand table filled with trucks and shovels.


We also set out a few of Sam’s bikes and balls, and the kids were perfectly entertained.


Just look at this cute crew! I would have loved to get a group photo with the tool belts and hard hats, but I’ll consider this a great success.


No surprise that our little ham posed for the camera and yelled “cheese!”


We sang “happy birthday” and watched our excited Sammy blow out his candle. (And did the same thing three more times later that night.)


We were also lucky to celebrate with Sam’s grandparents …


… and aunties!


Gosh, we love this kid so much.


Happy party day, little buddy!



Party Details:

Letter to Samuel: TWO

09.25.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Dear Samuel Woodford,

Today you are TWO! How is that possible? Seems like just yesterday we welcomed our blue-eyed boy into this big world.



But it’s also impossible to remember life without you.


Two means adventurous and spirited, smart and inquisitive, sweet and considerate, independent, observant and focused, and absolutely hysterical. It is most definitely our favorite age yet.

Your vocabulary has grown immensely this month, and you surprise us with new words every day. Here are a few current favorites: Donald (as in Duck), football, pedal, buckle, park, slide, airplane, purple, boots. You almost always say “please” and “thank you,” and sometimes you even correct us if we forget. You still call Lucy “dog,” and you have renamed Mr. Ribbit “Ricky.” You call all berries “boo boos,” including grapes. You have just started to speak in sentences. You say “I want cheese, please.” “Momma, tie shoes.” “Push car.” “All aboard, choo choo.” “I want Dada home.” You know the names of all of your family members and some of your little buddies. And you just amaze us with the things you remember. You know Minnie rides a pink bike in your favorite episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. You associate Nini with flowers and Pop with work. When we mention football, you roar and say “I want the lion” (the Nittany Lion, of course). You talk about ducks in the water and airplanes in the sky. It is just incredible to carry on conversations with you and watch your little mind work.

You are quite artistic, too. Coloring is one of your current favorite activities, and you will sometimes sit for 20 minutes and work on one page in your book. You also enjoy crafts that involve stickers and glue. You can draw circles and identify blue, purple, and orange when asked. When we say “how much” or “how many” you often say “one, two” and sometimes “three.”


You still love to run and play outside, of course. You have become very good at kicking the soccer ball and throwing the football. And you have conquered nearly every local playground. You received an early birthday present about two weeks ago — your bike! And you are obsessed. You wear your helmet and ride around the cul de sac, and you have almost figured out how to pedal.

You are also still very interested in your tools. While working on the wall between our kitchen and living room, you helped Poppy to hammer and drill and take measurements. You would pull out the tape measure, hold it both horizontally and vertically, then record the numbers on your notepad. Such a big helper and a hard worker!

We all caught colds this month, though Mommy’s has lasted longest of all. You point to my nose and say “boo boo” and “achoo.” You take such good care of me.

Lucy is still your best bud, and we are very grateful that she is so tolerant of your rough toddler play. You play tug-of-war and try to take the ball right out of her mouth. And you love to wrestle with her! When we dropped her off for her first weekend at the kennel, you cried huge crocodile tears and said “No, my dog, home.” But the reunion after two days apart was incredibly sweet! You both ran loops around the house, screaming and barking with excitement.


I believe I can now say that you are fully adjusted to your big boy bed. You sleep from about 9pm until 7:30am with an afternoon nap that sometimes lasts three hours. You no longer stand at your gate and scream, and you very rarely climb out of bed after we say goodnight. You have started to sleep with your head on a pillow and your body tucked under a comforter. Which makes you seem so grown up! Your current favorite bedtime books are Thomas the Train, Dora, and (still) Chugga Chugga Choo Choo. We also spend at least 10 minutes every night talking about our day. You request to “talk,” and it may be one of my favorite new habits. Then you ask for the “baby” song (Hush Little Baby) and the “ducks” song (Five Little Ducks Went Out One Day), and we say “night night” and blow about a dozen kisses before I slip out the door.

You seem a little bit more mature every day. You now sit in the big chair while having your hair cut, and you wear the cape, too. You are content to sit beside me during my doctor’s visits and no longer whine. In fact, you get very excited to hear baby sister’s heartbeat. And during our recent trip to Penn State, you acted like such a big kid. But you are also still very attached to your Momma. Sometimes only my hugs and kisses can soothe your tears, and I don’t mind at all.


I have written a letter to you every month since the day you were born. And we have both changed so much over these past two years. I am so proud of the big boy you are becoming, and I am thankful for you every day. You bring immense joy into our lives, and we couldn’t love you more. Happy 2nd birthday, Sammy!

Enter to Win $100 Credit to Minted

09.19.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

‘Tis the season to start shopping for holiday cards! Or, in our case, birth announcements. Yes, I know that we’ve barely had time to hang our fall wreaths and most of us have not yet finalized our jack-o-lantern designs, but I also know that once October hits, our weekends are booked. Which means that Thanksgiving and Christmas are basically right around the corner, and baby girl will be here before we know it!

I’ve already decided that this year I will forgo our annual Christmas cards in lieu of something sweet and pretty to announce the arrival of our daughter. And, fortunately for us, Minted has just released a stunning line of foil pressed birth announcements. Here are a few of my favorite designs:




They also have a similar line of foil pressed holiday cards. I just love the beauty and simplicity of this one:


Whether you’re in the market for birth announcements or holiday cards, Minted has graciously offered to give one lucky reader a $100 credit to your order! Click here to enter the giveaway. The contest closes on Thursday, 9/26. Good luck to you, and happy shopping!

I am an affiliate of Minted and will receive a small commission on all customer sales. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Shutterfly Special: Up to 50% off Hard Cover Photo Books

09.17.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

I finally finished Sam’s first year photo album … book 1. Yes, I had to break it into two books because, apparently, I take too many pictures. (No such thing!)

I used the Custom Path feature on Shutterfly to create the book. It was easy to use and easy to customize, and I was pretty impressed with the selection of layouts, stickers, and embellishments. I’m not going to lie, though — it took me about three months to complete. I spent a lot of time on the design and the text (including his monthly letters), but I know it will be worth it.

I took advantage of Shutterfly’s current sale — 50% off hard cover photo books! — and placed my order yesterday. I can’t wait to receive it!

You, too, can take advantage of the sale through this Thursday, 9/19. The discount is good on all hard cover photo books + pages, including books purchases from the new iPad app. (Some exclusions apply. See below for details.) Just use code BOOK50. Order your book now!

And take a look at a few of my favorite layouts from Sam’s book.


BOOK50 – Offer expires 9/19/2013 (11:59 P.M. PT). Offer is good for 50% off a 12×12, 8×8, 10×10, 11×14, or 8×11 photo book + pages at shutterfly.com. 7×9, 5×7, premium/layflat, matte, padded, leather, cloth, croc books are excluded. Offer valid for one-time redemption per billing address. Customer must choose only one of the five offers. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply.

I am an affiliate of Shutterfly and will receive a small commission on all customer sales. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Our Day Out With Thomas

09.16.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Nana and Poppy (or Nini and Pop as Sam has so fondly named them) treated the September birthday boy to an early celebration last weekend. We spent our Saturday with Thomas the Train! (And a couple hundred other excited toddlers.)


The Strasburg Railroad in Lancaster County hosted Thomas and Friends. (You can find more tour dates and locations here.) And it was a perfectly brisk fall day for the event.



Thomas huffed and puffed his way into the station, and Sam could not have been more thrilled.


We got to ride in a beautiful train car pulled by the the blue tank engine.



Sam proudly handed his ticket stub to the conductor and held onto our stack tightly for the remainder of the ride.



He must have said “choo choo” about 60 times. (Caught mid “choo” here.)


Sam and Pop looked out the window for trucks and tractors and Amish buggies.




After our train ride, we checked out the numerous other activities set up at the station: cranky car rides, pufferbelly rides, wooden train tables, storytelling, and an entire tent full of all things Thomas. Oh, pumpkin whoopie pies, too, because we couldn’t resist.






It was train heaven! Every little boy’s dream.


Thank you to Laura and Stephen for joining us. And to Nini and Pop for such a perfect birthday treat!


Belated Birthday Celebration

09.16.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

September is birthday month in this house. Lucy turned one on the 13th. Sam will be two on the 25th. And Nick is celebrating 31 on the 26th. That’s a lot of cake and ice cream and presents!


In Lucy’s case, that meant a new frisbee and a beef stock popsicle.


Happy belated birthday to our favorite Golden Girl!