A Tale Of Two Stuffed Turkeys.

For the first time in eight years, Dean and I opted out of throwing the "Annual Surette-Nelson Thanksgiving Orphan Dinner Party"--a dinner we usually host for other L.A. orphans just like us. We usually end up with an eclectic bi-coastal and international mix of great friends and fun times preceded by cleaning and cooking and proceeded by more cleaning.

This year after much convincing, Dean talked me into throwing in the upside-down turkey towel and letting someone else take over basting duty . . . and I'm so glad he did! Our great friends and neighbors, Justin and Shea, invited us to join them for a beautiful dinner abound with many friends and both of their parents who flew in from Boston and Mississippi.

While we still managed to spend much of the day in our kitchen preparing dishes we promised to bring--Potato Gratin, Citrus Cranberry Relish, Rosemary & Garlic Buttermilk Biscuits and a Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with
Crème fraîche Mousse--we had an incredible evening with minimal dish duty when we got home.

But, the turkey wasn't the only stuffed bird at this holiday dinner . . . take a look at my 37 week belly. YIKES . . . gobble, gobble!

Just think, this time next year, Noah Finn will be nearly a year old!


Hypnobirthing, In A Nutshell.

"When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change." -Marie Mongan

Many friends and family have asked us about Hypnobirthing, the birthing method that we have decided to use for the birth of Noah Finn. Whenever we explain the calm and confidence that we feel when we think of our impending birthing experience, we inevitably get asked what exactly Hypnobirthing is. So, we thought we'd explain for whoever might be interested in this old idea being put to new use.
The following is pieced together from both our own understanding and the explanation provided on the Hypnobirthing website found at: www.hypnobirthing.com.

Hypnobirthing, the Mongan Method, is as much a philosophy as it is a technique. The concept of HypnoBirthing is not new, but rather a "rebirth" of the philosophy of birthing as it existed thousands of years ago and as it was recaptured in the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, an English obstetrician, who, in the 1920s, was one of the first to forward the concept of natural birthing. The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor.

Understanding how the birthing muscles work in perfect harmony--as they were designed to--when your body is sufficiently relaxed and you trust birth, helps you to achieve relaxation free of the resistance that fear creates. The birthing mother is then able to use natural birthing instincts for a calm, serene and comfortable birth.

When the birthing mother has her baby with HypnoBirthing, she will not be in a trance or a sleep. What she will experience is similar to the daydreaming, or focusing, that occurs when one is engrossed in a book or a movie or staring into a fire.

She will be conversant and in good spirits--totally relaxed, but fully in control. Awake throughout, she will be aware of her body's surges and her baby's progress; but because she will have trained herself to reach complete relaxation, she will be able to determine the degree and the manner in which she will feel the surges. She will experience birthing in an atmosphere of calm relaxation, free of the fear that prevents the muscles of her body from functioning as nature intended them to. In this calm state, her body's natural relaxant, endorphins, replaces the stress hormones that constrict and cause pain.

However, regardless of our expectations and planning we are prepared to be flexible and adapt to any circumstance that may arrive during delivery. Whatever the final method may be that delivers Noah Finn safely into this world, we look forward to sharing it with all of you! Wish us luck!


Belly Haute Couture.

Noah's oven was in the spotlight, literally, this past Saturday afternoon during a photoshoot with a friend, former student from my Language School, and Professional Photographer, Marta Petrucci!

She had been wanting to add pregnancy photographs to her photography portfolio. When she approached me about the idea, I jumped at the chance--and I am so glad I did. She is an incredibly amazing talent and it shows in the beautiful photographs that she shot.

Trust me, as far as models go, I am fumbling, awkward and spastic--the beauty in these photos speak truly to none other than her great skill and keen photographer's eye!

She took more than 160 photos in all, so the images below are just highlights from the shoot. To see a few more, click here.

Please stop by Marta's website for a glance at some of her other work:


Showered With Surprise.

My dear friend and colleague, Mary Jo, organized a oh-so-sweet 2nd shower at work for Dean and I on Friday (having Dean there was as much of a surprise as the shower itself!). Complete with tons of delicious food, a beautiful cake, music, decorations and all of my fellow teaching colleagues, both male and female, the shower was a blast! Mary Jo encouraged everyone to chip in for a gift card--everyone was so generous! We promptly used it that same evening to purchase the remaining cloth diapers, cloth wipes and diaper covers from our registry on Babyworks.com (until then, we only had five diapers--yikes, that wouldn't get us through even one day!).

We unfortunately didn't get any pictures of the good stuff--food, decorations or colleagues (with the exception of Mary Jo!)--but there are a few of Dean and I opening our "gift box"!



A Pea In The Pod.

We ventured to the Hollywood Farmer's market on Sunday morning to grab goodies for our dinner with friends from Canada, Shawn and Zoe. Though the smoke from the nearby fires gave the market an eerie feel, Dean managed to grab just what he needed for an incredible roasted salmon with yams, swiss chard, cabbage and red wine reduction dish! It was a delectable fall treat.


Why Wood Does A Baby Good.

We are asked the question, "Paper or plastic?" every time we go to the grocery store. And while paper may be the clear environmentally-sound option in this situation, foregoing plastic products in other aspects of your life may not be as obvious a choice.

One of the many reasons that we have not had a microwave for nearly eight years now, for example, is partly due to the way in which plastic breaks down during the heating process. Overtime, the chemical compounds used in the manufacturing of most all plastic products are released into the food you eat.

Now, think of the world of baby. Plastic rules the day--most highchairs, bottles, car seats, teethers, strollers and toys are constructed out of some form of plastic. While these products may be the more convenient and affordable option over "greener" choices, are the risks worth it? We considered the following information when choosing products for little Noah and thought we'd take this time to share what we've learned about the way most modern toys are made today, the materials that are commonly used, and the dangers that they impose upon the little growing bodies that use them.

What a child learns from a toy, though essential, is far from the only thing parents must consider when choosing toys for their children. Many toys on the market are manufactured with environmentally unsafe materials.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a highly toxic plastic used in many cheaply manufactured infant and children’s toys.

  • From the time it is produced, PVC never stops releasing toxins, including dioxin, which studies have linked to learning disabilities and cancer.
  • PVC also releases phthalates—chemical compounds that make PVC plastic softer and more pliable.
These toxic chemicals leach out of the plastic when children suck or chew on the toys that contain them. Health authorities express grave concern that exposure to PVC plastic may put children at risk for serious and irreparable damage.

What other toxic chemicals might be lurking in little Noah’s toybox? VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are commonly found in the paint used on children’s toys, but these days you can find a wide variety of manufacturers that use water-based and low-VOC or no-VOC paints.

We can also avoid exposing him to the residues of pesticides and fertilizers sprayed onto the fibers many toys (and clothes) are made of–or stuffed with–by choosing products made with:
  • organic unbleached cotton
  • bamboo
  • tencel (an eco-friendly man-made fiber)
  • wool
So, if you're pondering a welcome home gift for our, or any other little bundle of dimpled joy, please keep these facts in mind as you peruse the store shelves stocked with those brightly beckoning plastic puppy dogs and robots!


Bunking With Baby Is Not So Bad.

We've been busily preparing our new little roommate's living space--gently and tastefully trying to blend together mommy, daddy, baby and kitty areas.

Thanks to Oma, for the beautiful crib, mom, the stunning changing table and friends and family, for all of the other goodies that we will use to provide tender, loving care.

Typically, I'm not a huge fan of bannering out baby's name with big chunky nursery letters--but the ones hanging over the changing table were an exception the moment I saw them. They were made from beautifully and authentically distressed wood taken from disassembled and then recycled railroad ties in India!

The only thing missing now is little Noah Finn! Until then, Miles and Linus are doing an aggravatingly good job of keeping all of the new snugly baby stuff warm while they nap.


And So The Blog Begins...Blogging At 35 Weeks.

My mom suggested (*gently demanded*) during a phone call this evening that we might want to begin a website soon (*now*) to update family and friends (*just her*) to replace the monthly update e-mails that we have been sending out to friends and family up until now. Though I was trying to avoid any further time spent in front of a buzzing computer monitor, I must agree that I had tossed around the idea a time or two myself.

And, so it is born (no, not Noah!--not yet) . . . our family blog, complete with the endless detailing of everything baby for those we love. I suppose it's our fault for living so blasted far away from doting grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles, but nevertheless, we are excited to bring to you all of the latest snapshots and going-ons of both our pregnancy and soon-to-be bundle of love!

So thanks, mom, for the urging to get this blog rolling! Everyone else, keep your eyes peeled as we'll be updating regularly, with love.

Our Growing Noah!

11 Weeks

15.5 Weeks

22 Weeks

24 Weeks

26 Weeks

30 Weeks

30.5 Weeks

32.5 Weeks

35 weeks

38 Weeks

40 Weeks


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