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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We baked cookies for Santa.

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And Santa bread, too!

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

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

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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!).

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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(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.

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(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!

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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.

Sprinkles for Baby Girl

12.09.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

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!

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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.

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Each day is one day closer to meeting our sweet daughter!

Bumpdate: Weeks 31-35

12.07.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

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!

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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.”

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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.

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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!

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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!