Sunday, December 28, 2008

Savannah's Nursery

Savannah's nursery is coming together! This weekend Tal and I added the mattress and bedding to Savannah's crib, as well as canvas storage containers on the changing table and book shelf.

Over the next couple weeks, we plan to add other details to Savannah's room (perhaps a wall border or Savannah's name above her crib). At least now, however, Savannah will have a place to sleep if she arrives early. :-)

It was very tempting to paint Savannah's room pink and add girly accents. However, given the time, energy, and cost that's involved in decorating a nursery, Tal and I selected a neutral decor for Savannah's room. That way, if the Lord blesses us with another baby in a few years, we might use the same decor.

I love the farm animal theme with adorable cows, horses, and sheep. The blue, green, yellow, and red in the bedding complement the nursery wall color and make it easy to shop (so far) for accessories.

Plus, as Savannah grows, she can point to the animals and practice her "moos," "baas," and "neighs." :-)

Mr. Car Wash

What does my sweet hubby do on a sunny 70-degree day at the end of December?

Tal cleans my car--inside and out!

Christmas Fence

Tal and I celebrated Christmas in Salter Path. During our stay, the guys pitched in to build a fence for Tal's mom. The fence surrounds Barbara's driveway.

In the picture below, Benny and Granddaddy (with some help from Barbara) are measuring where the fence posts should go.

Here the guys are pouring cement to secure the fence posts.

In the picture below, Tal, Benny, and Kenny are preparing to install the last fence section!

After the fence is installed, the guys cut down the fence posts and add the caps.

All done! Now a white picket fence defines Barbara's driveway and welcomes guests.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Belly Cast

Someday I think it will pretty neat to show Savannah how I looked when she was inside me. For that reason, on Saturday, Amanda helped me create a plaster cast of my pregnant belly. We used a kit that I purchased online for $25.

To make the cast, Amanda dipped each plaster strip in a pan of water.

Then, she applied several layers of the wet strips to my belly. (Please ignore my fat rolls below.) :-)

Within about 45 minutes, Amanda cast my torso with layers of wet plaster strips.

All done! After the strips set for about 10 minutes, I peeled the cast away from my body. Now I have a wonderful 3D memento of how I looked when I was 33 weeks pregnant with Savannah.

Over the next couple months, I need to decide how I want to paint, bronze, or decoupage my belly cast. Take a look here to see how others have decorated their belly casts. Right now I'm thinking that I'll just paint my cast and write Savannah's name with her due date, weight, and time. I might even hang the cast with a ribbon in Savannah's nursery.

Last Childbirth Class

On Sunday, Tal and I attended our third class for expectant parents. First, we learned about the reasons for and risks of c-sections. We also learned what to expect and how to prepare for the changes that come with being first-time parents and taking care of a newborn. For instance, we practiced holding, washing, and changing a baby. We also discussed various views on breastfeeding, vaccinations, and pacifiers.

All in all, Tal and I found the class helpful in confirming many things that we'd read in pregnancy books and discussed with our pediatrician.

Still 20/20

In January 2008, I had Lasik eye surgery to correct my near-sightedness. After wearing glasses since third grade, having Lasik was a dream come true. Since my surgery, I haven't had any complications, and I've really enjoyed wearing sunglasses and being able to see the time on the alarm clock.

Last week, I went for my annual eye exam. According to the eye doctor, my vision is still 20/20, and my eyes have healed nicely from the surgery. Yea!

Friday, December 19, 2008

33 Weeks

On Thursday, Tal and I went to the OB for my 33-week check-up. Savannah and I both received good reports.

My blood pressure, iron levels, and weight gain were all normal. From top to bottom, my belly measured 33 cm, which is right on schedule for 33 weeks. Savannah's heartbeat was healthy at 140 beats per minute.

At our next appointment on January 8, the doctor will check to see if Savannah has settled into the head-down, bottom-up position in preparation for delivery. After January 8, Tal and I go to the doctor weekly to check Savannah's progress and to see if I've dilated.

After the holidays, it won't be long until Savannah joins our family!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Second Childbirth Class

Yesterday Tal and I attended our second childbirth class to help us prepare for Savannah's arrival (in around 7 weeks!).

Our class focused on labor rehearsal. Tal and I learned where to park, where to check-in, and where family members will wait when I'm in labor. We also toured the hospital's birthing center--where we saw the nursery, labor and delivery rooms, and the postpartum rooms.

In addition, our class reviewed the stages of labor, so Tal and I will know when to head to the hospital based on the intensity of my contractions. Since Tal will be serving as my labor coach, we also practiced more breathing, relaxation, and pain coping techniques.

Tal and I left our class feeling more informed about what to expect during labor and delivery and more equipped to make informed decisions (especially since Tal will act as my advocate).

The Beginning of a Tradition?

Tal and I have talked a lot recently about the importance of having our own family traditions, especially as we look forward to the arrival of Savannah within the next couple months.

Last weekend, Tal's mom and brother helped us establish (what we hope will be) an annual family tradition that includes Lake Myra, Christmas shopping, and the Angus Barn.

On Friday night, the four of us had the best time at the Lake Myra Christmas show, which is a FREE 30-minute light show that a couple of local families operate in their front yards. The light display includes 182,000 lights that take 7 weeks to set-up and 3 weeks to take down.

After Christmas shopping on Saturday, we had dinner at The Angus Barn, which is an expensive steak restaurant that is beautifully decorated for the holidays. The restaurant is aptly named because it resembles a big red barn on the outside. The inside is rustic with wood plank floors, high beam ceilings, and checkered tablecloths.

Take a look at the huge Christmas tree in the lobby...

...and the antler chandeliers throughout the restaurant.

For appetizers, the four of us were served plates of complimentary cheese, crackers, relish, and oysters. Ironically, we each ordered a different kind of steak: prime rib (me), Chateaubriand (Tal), NY Strip (Barbara), and filet mignon (Benny).

For dessert, we indulged in the Angus Barn's renowned chocoate chess pie. In fact, the recipe has been requested so many times that the recipe is available to all their guests.

The four of us had such a lovely time that we hope to make an annual pilgrimage to Lake Myra and The Angus Barn. What better way to celebrate the Christmas season?!

Monday, December 8, 2008

First Childbirth Class

Last Saturday, Tal and I attended our first childbirth class at the hospital where Savannah will be born. In our class, there were 12 other couples who are expecting babies in January, February, or March 2009.

The class gave us some good ideas on how Tal can support me during labor. We learned some techniques (such as using massages, warm showers, and a birthing ball) that we can use to help me relax and cope with the pain. (Tal's afraid I'm going to squeeze the life out of his hands during my contractions.)

Tal and I also learned about the stages of labor, so we'll know when to head to the hospital. We learned about our pain options (natural vs. an epidural or a narcotic), so we can make informed decisions.

Of course, when I'm in labor, it's entirely possible that nothing will go as expected, but Tal and I feel better knowing our options and being informed of how things might go.

Let There Be Light (Christmas Lights)

Last Saturday morning, Tal and I put up some Christmas decorations outside our house. When it comes to Christmas decorations, we're not the Griswold family, but Tal and I try to have some holiday spirit and spread some Christmas cheer. :-) We simply put lighted garland on the railings, a deer in our front yard, and some candy canes connected with strings of white lights along our sidewalk and driveway.

During the holidays, Tal and I are suckers for cheap date nights. On Friday nights, we love to drive around and look at the Christmas lights in our area. We love the folks who go "all out" with the synchonized music and light displays, inflatable snowmen and Santa Claus, etc.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tal's Christmas List

Recently, I've overheard several people ask Tal what he wants for Christmas.

Tal always replies with a smile on his face, "...For February 5 to hurry up and get here. I'm usually not one to hurry through the holidays, but I'm ready for Savannah to get here."

A couple days ago, I asked Tal if he was looking forward to anything in the coming weeks.

Tal: "...Checking off the days until February 5."

By now, I guess I shouldn't be surprised by Tal's response.

I think it's positively adorable that Tal can't wait for Savannah's arrival. :-)

Deck the Halls

During Mom's visit, we did some Christmas decorating at Renee and Amanda's house.

Amanda putting up lighted garland in the kitchen

Renee and Amanda's Christmas tree
A couple days later, Mom helped me put up and decorate the Christmas tree in our living room. During the Christmas season, Tal and I love to sit in the living room with Christmas lights on.

Preparing Savannah's Nursery

Over Thanksgiving, Tal and I added another piece to Savannah's nursery: a La-Z-y Boy rocker recliner.

The recliner is a generous baby gift from my mom (a.k.a. Grandma Judy). When my sister, brother, and I were babies, my mom remembers spending many nights sleeping in a La-Z-y Boy recliner. For that reason, Mom wanted Tal and me to have a comfortable chair for rocking and feeding Savannah.

When Mom and I went shopping, we sat in nearly 50 recliners before we narrowed it down to our favorite two chairs. A couple days later, Tal tried out our "top two" recliners and made the final decision. Then, Tal loaded the recliner into his truck and assembled it in Savannah's room.

The recliner's burgundy leather complements the cherry crib and changing table that Tal's mom gave us.

In a few years, when we no longer need the recliner in Savannah's room, I promised Tal that we could move it into our living room.
Tal's already coined the recliner as "Daddy's chair" during all future football games and movie nights. :-)

30 Weeks

This week Tal pointed out that I'm 75% of the way through my pregnancy. After the holidays, it won't be long before Savannah joins our family. In fact, as of today, we only have 65 days until February 5.

Last weekend Tal told me that Savannah needs to hurry up and get here so I'll stop snoring (apparently I've been snoring loudly while I've been pregnant) and so I can eat sausage pizza (without getting heartburn).

Awww...the joys of being pregnant (seriously, it's all worth it) and having a funny husband. :-)

Thanksgiving at the Beach

Okay, prepare for picture overload, but who can resist taking pictures of family in such a lovely setting? (Not me, apparently.)

When Tal and I are in Salter Path, we often walk across the yard and sit on Grandma and Granddaddy Smith's porch--where we "shoot the breeze" and tell stories. That's exactly what we're doing in the pictures below.

Amanda and Me
(That's Tal's mom's house in the background.)

Renee, Me, and Mom

Renee and Mom (again)

Tal and his mom Barbara
On Thanksgiving, we took a walk on Salter Path Beach. The ocean was calm, and the weather was sunny with temps in the 60's.
As most of you know, Tal grew up 100 yards from the ocean. The picture below shows us on the boardwalk behind Barbara's house that leads you to the beach.

On the beach, we encountered a dead sand shark that was 3-4 feet long. It was the closest I've ever come to seeing a shark outdoors (thankfully).

The day after Thanksgiving, we had lunch at El's Drive-In, which is a local favorite restaurant. If Tal can help it, he rarely leaves Salter Path without eating a shrimp burger and super cheeseburger from El's.

Tal knows how much I enjoy looking at the beautiful houses along the coast. Therefore, whenever possible, he takes me on a driving tour of some of the beachfront homes. Below is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Atlantic Beach. I love the colorful houses!

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Tal and I were blessed to have my mom visit us for a whole week. During Mom's visit, we spent several days celebrating Thanksgiving with Tal's family in Salter Path, NC.

On the night before Thanksgiving, we ate an authentic Down East dinner with steamed oysters and a low country boil. The low country boil included white potatoes, sweet potatoes, shrimp, corn on the cob, and sausage. Yummy!

In Tal's family, eating oysters at Thanksgiving is an annual tradition--one that Tal always looks forward to and never wants to miss!

As the picture below shows, dinner was kind of a "first-come-first-serve-free-for-all" (in the best sense).

Watching Tal's family eat oysters is a fun experience. First, you fill an 8-inch pie plate with oysters. Then, you use a special tool to shuck the oysters (like Tal is doing in the picture below). Then, you dump the empty oyster shells in one of the five-gallon buckets around the table.
We were proud of Mom for eating oysters for the first time. Mom and I agree that oysters are salty and chewy. Tal's family admits that oysters are an acquired taste, but they love 'em! :-)