Thursday, December 27, 2012

Maternity Pictures

I was blessed years 11 ago to meet Kate Robertson (now Gavos) as a Pi Phi at Texas A&M.  (Has it been that long, y'all?!)  She and I have kept up through the years via our blogs, and I've had the joy of seeing her little girl, Caroline, grow up in pictures.  Kate is an EXTREMELY talented photographer, and she recently started her own business.  When I was thinking about maternity photos, I knew just who I wanted to ask.  Kate has been beyond kind and generous to us, and she is serving the Lord with her talents.  These are truly the maternity photos of my Pinterest dreams!  THANK YOU, Kate!  She managed to get all these great pics on a day with 40 mph winds!  If you've within walking, driving, or flying distance to Dallas, I highly recommend Kate as a photographer!  Check her out on Facebook here or on her website!!

Hope you like the pics as much as I do.  P.S. Doesn't Ava have the cutest dad ever?  Just sayin'!

Friday, December 21, 2012

She Has a Name!

After 36 weeks of deliberation, we are ready to announce the name of our baby girl!  We love it!!  We wanted a name that is classic but not tired, chic but not trendy, short, easy to spell, no nicknames, and sounds good with Norwood.  We've always wanted Grace to be the middle name because it will remind us (and her) of the grace given to her by Jesus.  We will just call her Ava, but I love the sound of Ava Grace, so we may also call her that sometimes :-)  Although she's still Baby N, she now has a name.  Phew!  I feel better, don't you?!  Name picked.  Monogram ordered.  We're ready for you, Ava!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Felt Flower Tutorial

If you've been on Pinterest for any length of time, you have no doubt pinned at least one felt flower tutorial to your "DIY" board.  Am I right?  Last weekend, I decided to ACTUALLY make something from my Pinterest DIY board (I know... impressive).  I have been wanting to spice up a lamp for the nursery, so it was the perfect time to try my hand at felt flowers.  All of the tutorials I found instructed me to use a hot glue gun to put the flowers together.  FAIL.  I don't know if my felt sucks or my glue gun sucks or both, but the hot glue method did NOT work for me.  I burned my fingers and the flowers still wouldn't stay together.  I scrapped the glue method all together and went old school with a needle and thread.  Don't worry:  I am NOT a seamstress.  I'm still using the mini sewing kit my mom gave me when I graduated from high school.  If you can thread a needle and make a lopsided stitch or two, you can do this.  Promise.

You'll need:
Felt (I used cheap craft felt from Michael's)
Needle & Thread

Felt Bloom Tutorial
Cut out a bunch of flower-ish shapes from your felt.  I say flower-ish because mine were lopsided and uneven and you know what.... they turned out perfectly!  They just have to sort of, kind of resemble flowers.  I am lazy, so I folded my felt and cut three at a time.  Pile 'em up.  You'll need about 6 flat flowers to make one bloom.  You might also want to cut a few small circles from the scraps.  More about how to use those later.

Take a flower.  Fold it in half once.  Then fold it in half again.  Hold it at the bottom like so.
Place your folded flower on a flat flower.  Put it in one corner, knowing you're going to put four folded flowers on the flat flower.  Hold the folded flower with one hand and stitch it to the flat flower with two or three stitches at the tip near the center.  Your stitches don't have to be pretty or straight.  Believe me, mine weren't.  Repeat with 3 more folded flowers, sewing them on to the flat flower. Then, stitch all four folded pieces together with one stitch connecting each folded flower to the next in a little circle (a total of 4 stitches).  Believe me, this is not difficult.
Now you need to fill in the middle.  You can either use circles folded in half twice or smaller flowers folded in half twice.  Repeat the folding and stitching procedures, stitching the smaller flowers in the center.  Ta da!!
Now, take a break and cuddle with your curious puppy.
{Whatcha makin' mama?  Something for Blazer, perhaps?}
Felt Rosette Tutorial
First, you're going to need to cut some strips of felt.  Mine were about 2 inches wide.  Use whatever color your heart desires.  I used a taupe that kind of looked like burlap when finished, which I enjoyed.

Fold your long strip in half, hot-dog style.  You're going to stitch down the open (non-folded) side.  Start at the top and just stitch on down to the bottom.  Your stitches need not be even, straight, or lovely looking AT ALL.  They need only be there.  As you stitch, pull the thread taut each time.  This will begin to slowly gather the felt so that it puckers and begins to spiral.  It's magical!  When you get to the bottom of your strip, pull the thread tight one last time, tie off your stitches, and cut the thread.
As you see above, the felt will have already formed itself into a lovely spiral shape.  Now you just need 3-4 stitches to hold it in that shape.  You made a rosette!  Lovely!

Next, get something good on the DVR.  Repeat all these steps.  And repeat again.  
Congratulations!  Now you have a whole mess of THESE beauties!

Now's the really fun part.  Get out your glue gun and go to town!  What needs a rosette in your house?  A lamp?  A pillow?  A picture frame?  A headband?  All of the above?  Go for it.  I used mine on a lamp for Baby N's room.



Friday, December 14, 2012

35 Weeks

I can't believe I'm already at 35 weeks!! That is crazy!! I am definitely feeling like things are getting real. Yesterday, we had the car seat installed and inspected. Driving around with an empty car seat is kind of surreal!! At multiple times throughout the day, I find myself praying. Awaiting this baby is definitely causing me to rely on God! I am growing daily. I just looked at pictures from the beginning of my pregnancy, and I can't fathom being that skinny. Sigh. Sometimes at the end of the day, Brent claims that my belly is bigger and harder than it was in the morning! Yep, true.

Fun Stuff:
  • I feel her moving ALL the time.  I'm supposed to do kick counts for my doctor each day.  I'm supposed to feel at least 4 kicks in an hour.  Every time I lie down to do my counts, I get 4 within five or ten minutes!
  • I like being pregnant.  There is really nothing I have to complain about at all!
  • I am loving the nursery so much.  Sometimes I just go in there and sit in the glider and look around.  Sometimes Brent stands there and looks at it while brushing his teeth.  Blazer seems to think we made the whole room just for him, and the rug is his new favorite play spot.  Ooops... sorry, buddy.
  • I'm trying to walk 45 minutes a day every other day, sometimes every day.  This does not sound like a lot (and it's not), but it feels like an accomplishment for me.  I'm feeling good on my walks, but I can not go longer than 45 minutes without having to rush back to the bathroom (bummer), and if I walk longer, I will pay the price with sore pelvic bones for the next 24 hours.
  • It just plain hurts to get off the couch and turn over in bed.  I make some sort of groaning noise every time like an old lady.  It's necessary.  
  • I'm having a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions - at least 5-10 a day.  They are very noticeable.  
  • I'm pretty sure I have pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome.  I wake up multiple times each night due to the fact that my entire right arm from bicep to fingertips is completely numb.  Plus, my wrists and hands are sore all day.  
  • I'm feeling some fatigue and shortness of breath.  Sometimes just sitting in a chair is too much and I feel the urge to lay down on my side.  I feel the return of first trimester fatigue and spend some quality time each day lying down reading or playing with my phone.  But truly, these things are not a big deal, and I continue to be grateful for an easy pregnancy!
  • My newest craving is biscuits.  It's so random, but I could eat a biscuit (or two or three) every day.  I don't discriminate - biscuits out, biscuits from Whole Foods... I even made homemade buttermilk biscuits the other Saturday, and they were SO GOOD.  (And pretty easy, too!)  
  • I'm still loving sweets, so my Christmas cookie tin gets a few visits each day.  
  • I'm also still on the Italian food kick I've had since early pregnancy.  If it has red sauce and cheese, I'm in.  
  • Finally, I am drinking a ton of water and Gatorade.  I am so thirsty all the time.  When I wake up in the morning, I have to drink Gatorade.  Then I'm always drinking something all day.  I am definitely eating less because I'm drinking more and my stomach fills up faster - so thirsty!!
Getting Ready:  
  • The nursery is coming together nicely and only needs final touches.  I will post the finished product semi-soon, but the last piece we ordered won't be in for about 4 weeks, so you'll have to be patient.
  • We are oh-so-close to deciding on a name.  For reals.  I thought I would have a name when I was like 2 weeks pregnant.  I had no idea it would be so hard to commit!
  • We took two classes at the hospital - "Baby Care" and "Prepared Childbirth".  Both were good but not amazingly informative.  I feel like we learned a few things, though, and are more prepared in general.
  • Life has been crazy, so we are both looking forward to slowing down over the Christmas break.  We plan to get some final things off our registry, finish a few baby books, clean the house, pack the hospital bag, possibly make some freezer meals, go to our favorite restaurants, and hang out waiting for little miss!  We are staying in Durham for the duration of the holidays since I can't really travel at this point.
  • I have a lot of emotions about having a baby.  Some days I'm totally freaked out and cry and feel very anxious.  Some days I am really excited and think about what fun it will be to have an actual baby that is mine!  When I see my friends' babies, that's what gets me excited!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Durham Shower

God is good, loving, kind, and a provider of abundant life.  I know this to be true because of how sweetly He has taken care of me here in Durham.  For you to understand how much this shower meant to me, I have to start with a story.  Back in Houston, we lived in the suburbs.  We loved our house, but it was a good 30 minutes from anything.  We had a few friends in our neighborhood, but not many.  We were 30 minutes away from our church, so we weren't very involved.  We both worked insane hours, so we didn't get out much.  We were not living in community.  Then, we moved to Durham.  On the way to Durham, I had plenty of time to think.  (20 hours in the car alone staring at the back of a yellow Penske truck gives one a lot of think time!)  Partially to keep myself awake, I began praying out loud while driving.  I prayed for God to go ahead of us to Durham and to prepare the way for us.  I prayed that we would get plugged in very quickly, find friends, and become a part of a community that we could contribute to and rely on.  Even though I was totally freaked out about moving to a new place where we did not know ONE person, I felt a sense of excitement that we had a chance to start over and learn how to live in community.  

Last Sunday as I was getting ready for my Durham baby shower, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I realized (yet again) how faithful God had been and how he has answered EVERY prayer I prayed on the way to Durham... even more than I could have imagined.  The friendships I have built here are some of the strongest I've ever had, and we've only been here a year and a half.  Not only do I have very close friends like Lindsay, Kristi, and Maggie who hosted the shower for me (pictured above), but I also have great friends at church (my whole small group came to the shower) and a fabulous group of friends who are also wives or fiances of business school students.  The women I have met here are AMAZING.  They have reminded me how wonderful friendship is, and they have been used by the Lord to teach me how He intends for all believers to live.  All in all, there were about 20 people at the shower, all of whom I met a year and a half ago or less.  The Lord is amazing!!  The fact that these girls were willing to host a shower for me and buy gifts for our baby completely humbles me.

Adorable invitation

Precious details of the shower
The hostesses hard at work and the beautiful food table

Sweet ladies from my small group:  Lori, Joana, and Mary Elizabeth
Top:  Lauren, Amanda, Jennifer, and her new little guy!
Bottom:  Me with Laura and Bobbi
Sweet banner made by Kristi and all of the generous gifts I received
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who made me feel so special and loved!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mama Date

While we were in Dallas over Thanksgiving, I got to spend a whole day with my mom on a little date, which was wonderful!  My dad, sister, and brother-in-law went out to Lake Texoma for the day, and Brent went to Plano to see a high school friend.  That left mom & I to go to an amazing lunch at Campisi's (LOVE that place) and then out to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum.  Bless her heart... she had already seen it five times (they have a membership), but she was willing to go one more time with me.  The weather was beautiful (although a tad warm for my taste), and the arboretum was beautiful with all of the fall decorations and the Chihuly glass.  It was truly breathtaking how amazing these art pieces were.  They were way more impressive than I thought they would be, and there were way more of them then I thought there would be.  They were everywhere!  Next time we visit the Arboretum, we'll have a cute baby girl in tow!
(Mom insisted I get a picture in front of this door because this is where I took my bridal portraits 8 years ago!  I'm a little bigger these days...)
Love you, mom!  Thanks for the date!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Maternity Must-Haves

I can't believe that in less than two months, this baby girl will be out of my belly and in my arms!  I have been so blessed in this pregnancy that I can't thank God enough.  It has been smooth, sweet, and (for the most part), comfortable.  As I near the end, I thought I'd share a few key things that have made my pregnancy easier and more enjoyable.  I'm one of the last of my friends to have a baby and most of my readers are expert mamas, so thanks to the moms who have gone before me and given me advice on all of these "must haves"!

::Target Body Pillow::
Everyone says a pregnancy pillow is a must, but I was horrified to discover that pregnancy pillows cost between $55 and $75.  Wha??  I went to Target and found this extra long body pillow for $9.99.  It is AWESOME.  It's from the college and dorm room line, but I'm not picky. Around here we lovingly call it "The Great Wall".  It does the trick - I sleep like a baby on my side.

::Target BeMaternity Seamless Maternity Tanks::
These camisoles are worth their weight in gold, yet they cost only $16.99.  I have a white one and a black one, and I wear them EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, no exceptions.  If one is dirty, I will literally do the laundry right then so I can wear it.  It's that important.  These tanks are super lightweight, completely seamless, very long, and tight enough to hold everything in but soft enough to be luxuriously comfy.

::GAP Supersoft Maternity Leggings::
My daily uniform includes these GAP leggings + the seamless camisole + a long sweater or tunic of some sort + flats.  It's a winner every time.  I love these leggings from GAP because they sit below the belly (very comfortable) and are longer instead of cropped.   They are nice and opaque and have survived many, many washings.   Love them!!

::Club Soda::
I have not missed alcohol, but sometimes, I am a bit jealous of Brent's wine or margarita.  Club soda has been my mocktail of choice.  A few times a week, I have a "drink" with some sort of fruit juice (my faves are cranberry, cherry, grapefruit, and pomegranate), a splash of lime juice, and club soda.  I'm not gonna lie - it doesn't taste like a margarita, but at least it gives me something fun to sip while others are enjoying a drink at home or out in a restaurant.  Plus, this club soda is calorie and sodium free, so it's better than a regular soda!

::Online Shopping::
I have always loved online shopping, but as a pregnant lady, it's beyond awesome.  I designed my entire nursery and registry online, and I can order things in my pjs at my kitchen table without driving around all day.  We ordered just about everything for the nursery online.  It's pretty fun when giant gliders, ginormous rugs, and everything in between just show up on our front doorstep each day.  All we have to do is bring them inside!  (Don't mind if I do!!)  I'm also doing most of my Christmas shopping online.  You can call me lazy, but I'm calling me pregnant.

I decided early in my pregnancy that I didn't really want to or need to read about pregnancy.  I mean - there's a baby in there.  It's going to grow.  There's not a whole lot I can control about it.  It's going to come out.  And then... I'm going to have a real, live baby.  And what will I do at that point, pray tell?  Explain to her everything I learned about being pregnant?  I think not.  I decided instead to read some actual baby books.  Babywise has been great and has helped me feel a lot more prepared.  I like to have a plan.  Even if it doesn't work out perfectly (it won't), I feel good about the plan.

::Old Navy Maternity Skinny Jeans::  
I am in love with these jeans.  They are so stretchy and comfortable, yet form-fitting.  They are skinny enough to fit into boots for fall but not too tight.  They have a full panel, but I like to fold it down to make them more low-rise.  I wear these pretty much every day, so I've gotten my $34 worth.

::Burts Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter::  
Maggie gave me this lotion for my birthday, and I use it religiously every night.  It smells great and is not greasy.  Who knows if it prevents stretch marks or not, but I don't have any yet!  Plus, there is really no downside to lotion, right, so why not?

::Happiest Baby on the Block::
This was my other pick for a pre-baby read, recommended by many moms and my obgyn.  I have heard great things about these techniques, and I think they sound awesome!  I'm ready to try them!

My friend suggested I stock up on Tums, so I purchased a value pack, and good thing I did!  These things work wonders, and I'm thankful that just one or two will fix my issues!

What were (or are) your pregnancy must-haves?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dallas Shower

Last week, Brent and I did the full "Texas Tour" seeing all of our immediate and extended family members in Houston and Dallas.  It was quite a whirlwind, but it was good to see everyone since this is our last trip before Baby N arrives!  While we were in Dallas, my mom and sister threw me the most adorable shower for family and a few close friends.  They worked so hard on the details, and it was PERFECT!  Here I am in all my glory at 32 weeks.

The invitation was adorable.  My mom made it to match my nursery colors.

My mom put up the cutest decorations!  Pink overload, of course!
It was wonderful to spend some time with my family.  Here's my sweet mom and Grammy.  I also got to hang out with my cousin, Melissa, who is expecting a boy in February!!  As kids, she and I dreamed of doing everything together as adults. Two years ago in Houston, we lived on the same street, and now we are expecting our first children within one month of each other!  Crazy, right?  

Grammy, Mom, Aunt Robyn, and Aunt Susan

Our good family friend, Marianne, came to the shower.  She has lived two doors down from us for almost 28 years!   Julia and I used to play with her kids when we were little.  I also got to see my sweet friend Marisa from junior high and high school!  She came with her precious daughter, Lucy.

The food was delicious.  I was so impressed with my mom for making this three layer lemon coconut cake with homemade icing!!  Isn't it beautiful?  The table set-up was so pretty, too.

Me with my mama and sweet Grammy serving fruit salad

Aunt Robyn was the punch master.

All of the presents were sweet and thoughtful.  One of my faves was this one.  My mom found the dress that both my sister and I came home from the hospital in!  It's a hand embroidered rosebud dress, and it's so precious!  It will be pretty cool for my daughter to come home from the hospital in the same dress that I did!

Baby N has so many loving aunts, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and great aunts.  She will be one spoiled little girl!  Thanks, mom and Julia for the shower!  Love you!
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