Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Introducing, Lillian!

A little over a month ago, my cousin Leslie gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. At the time of my post, Leslie and her husband, Scott, hadn't settled on a name. However, it didn't take long before they decided on the name Lillian Leigh. Lillian is a family name (Lillian was our grandmother's mother's name). Leigh is a name Leslie liked and also happens to be my middle name.

Leslie says she calls the baby Lillian, Lill, and Lilly---whatever works, right? Bret and I think it's funny since our little one will be named Gillian, a name we've liked and had set since first learning we were having a girl. Imagine, girl cousins born only months apart with rhyming names! I can't wait until we will able to introduce the two. Hey Lillian, meet your cousin Gillian! Forget Dr. Seuss, I'm thinking Gillian and Lillian should be the main characters in a children's book of their very own...my mind is already spinning. Lord knows I need a creative outlet to occupy myself until our little one decides to make her appearance. After all there's only so much laundry, organizing, and blogging one can do! These final remaining weeks have me going stir crazy, but I know without a doubt Gillian will be worth the wait!

Okay since not everything is about me (I know hard to believe, right?) I should get back to the subject at hand---Leslie, Scott, and Lillian!

Congratulations once again! We are all thrilled and couldn't be happier for Leslie and Scott. I just received a few pictures of Lillian this morning and couldn't wait to get them posted.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Better Late than Never

After all the painting, building, decorating, and fine tuning, Gillian's nursery is finally finished! Sorry not to have had the pictures posted last weekend as originally promised. I'd say I had the best intentions at heart, but we all know what they say about good intentions.
Bret and I couldn't be more pleased with the way that Gillian's nursery turned out. Of course I'm a little biased, but I don't think we could have put together a room for our little one that better represents our taste and style. The saying made famous by Hillary Clinton, "It takes a village to raise a child..." may not exactly fit this situation, but it certainly has taken the help and monetary contributions of quite a few villagers to get this nursery done! Between Bret's countless hours painting, my Mom and Dad's generous gift of the nursery furniture and bedding, and Aunt Helen's creative artwork the room truly reflects the abundance of love that is already felt for our Little Girl.

Now there's just one thing missing from the room---Gillian! Hopefully she will love her new digs as much as we do.

Gillian's room from the hallway. Bret spent hours painting the stripes on the walls. We chose to do horizontal instead of vertical stripes after receiving some advice from our local paint guy who'd just recently painted stripes in his daughter's bathroom. As everyone knows, Bret is painstakingly meticulous. He measured and remeasured numerous times before, while, and after painting. The stripes are one of my favorite touches in the room!

You wouldn't believe how comfy the rocker recliner is! I'm sure I'll be even more thankful for this splurge with all the late night feedings to come.

I'm sure many dirty diapers will be changed here on Gillian's changing table and hutch. Once she's potty trained, we can add a shelf to the hutch. After all, I'm sure we'll need the extra room for displaying all the awards and accolades she'll have already acquired by the age of 2. No pressure, Gillian! Mommy is only kidding!

I have many favorites in the nursery and Gillian's bedding ranks right up there at the top! We had her bedding custom-made and it's appropriately called PINK PAISLEY. Fingers crossed that she'll have nothing but peaceful sweet dreams in this cozy crib.

Of course we had to have more shelves to display pictures of family, friends, and perhaps the most important stuffed animal of them all---a GATOR!

Here are the pictures of Bret and me as babies in black and white. Still waiting on the star's baby photo that will go in the center.

The bench is another one of Bret's projects. The bench itself was something mom gave me and I had Bret paint it white. I then got the idea to stencil flip flops and bathing suits on the bench to tie in our subtle theme---the beach.

My Aunt Helen is truly talented. After searching for pictures for the nursery and discovering that my choices were not only limited but also very pricey, she volunteered to paint canvas pictures for us. All I had to do was show her examples of what I wanted. Not only did she follow through and create absolutely beautiful and whimsical paintings for Gillian, she far exceeded my expectations (which we all know are high). Having paintings done by a family member makes Gillian's room even more special!

Little Bikini Girl---A glimpse into Gillian's future?

Hello...flip flops! Need I say more?

She sells seashells by the seashore!

Gillian's initials and another favorite---a pink and white gingham chandelier.

So, what do you think? Let us know!

A Star is Born!

On Monday, Bret was shooting on location for a series of three television shows that are being produced by the local CBS affiliate WKRG. The segments were filmed near Cedar Point Pier along the Dauphin Island Causeway, and were focused on informing the public, in non-scientific terms, about the benefits of our coastal wetlands as well as practices and actions that harm them.

Filming for the shows is happening all week long at various locations in Alabama and Mississippi. The three thirty-minute shows are united by a common theme: Gambling with Mother Nature along the Gulf Coast. These shows, funded through a grant by NOAA's Sea Grant extension, will use plain language, humor, and creativity to describe the processes and effects of coastal flooding, inland flooding, and flood mapping/insurance along the Mississippi/Alabama Gulf Coast for the benefit of the general public.

The camera's are coming to our backyard on Friday to shoot a brief segment on a french drain system that Bret has been working on for three months. This segment will focus on simple things that homeowner's can do, without sophisticated equipment or expensive materials, to reduce their impact on the environment. This particular segment will describe how channeling rainwater from your roof to an underground "soaker hose" not only reduces runoff from your property, but also recharges the groundwater while preventing localized flooding and ponding around your home.

Just what I needed---a new baby AND daily battles with the paparazzi! Only kidding, but we are all very proud of Bret. In the short time we've been in Mobile he's made quite a name for himself! Kudos, babe!

Family Time

Sunday was just one of those couldn't have been better days! With several occasions to celebrate---two anniversaries and Father's Day---we invited my parents over to spend the day.

The day was filled with good times and even better food. Mom and I ran a few quick errands, including a trip to Target where she spoiled us by picking up a few more items from our registry list. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Bret was in the zone channeling various Food Network chefs as he cooked up a fantastic menu for us to enjoy. He first whipped up Paula Deen's recipe for hot crab dip as an early afternoon appetizer. It was delicious! Later that evening, Bret (channeling Giaddy--that's Giada DeLaurentis and Bobby Flay combined) grilled up lobster tail with clarified butter while Dad manned the filets on the grill. The dinner menu rivaled that of any restaurant---lobster tail, filet mignon, salad, and baked potatoes. Yummy!

Both figuratively and literally, it warmed me from head to toe to watch my two favorite men working so well together. Forgive me for being repetitive but, life is good!

Mom opening an anniversary gift.

Dad with his Father's Day gift---a Stihl trimmer. Dad just loves toys for the yard! The trimmer was a bit too large to wrap, which bummed me out, but I was able to give it our signature touch, a big fancy bow!

Bret goofing with Dad.


Giada's Lobster Tails with Clarified Butter


* 4 (each 1/2 to 3/4-pound) lobster tails, thawed if frozen
* 1/4 cup Clarified Lemon Butter

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut through the top shell lengthwise. Cut a slit through the meat lengthwise taking care not to cut through the bottom shell. Gently pull the shells apart. Thread a skewer, starting at the underside base of the tail, along the inside of the bottom shell. Brush the meat with 1/4 cup of the clarified butter. Wrap the lobster tails in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the lobster meat is opaque.

Place the remaining clarified butter in a butter warmer or dipping bowl. Remove the meat from the lobster shells and dip in the Clarified Butter.
Clarified Lemon Butter:

* 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 3 lemons, zested

In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat. Pour the mixture into a 2-cup glass measuring jug. Let the melted butter stand for 5 minutes. Using a spoon, remove the foam from the top of the butter. Place the lemon zest in small bowl. Pour the clarified butter over the lemon zest and discard the milk solids left in the bottom of the jug.

Paula Deen's Hot Crab Dip


* 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, free of shells
* 1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
* 3/4 cup mayonnaise
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
* 1/4 cup green onions, minced, optional
* 5 to 6 roasted garlic cloves or 2 cloves minced
* 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
* 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
* Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine all of the ingredients in a casserole and gently stir until thoroughly mixed. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve hot with crackers or toast points.


If you've ever been pregnant you know that the last month can be tough. Add to it 100+ degree temperatures and it becomes even more uncomfortable!

Although Bret and I are both accustomed to hot summers having both grown up in Florida, we can't recall a summer that's been quite as sweltering as the summer we're currently experiencing here in the Deep South. Yesterday Mobile broke a record with a scorching temperature of 101 degrees. With the heat index it felt more like 110!

Even the tigers think it's hot! Cyncyn, a 3-month-old snow white Bengal tiger cub cools off in a swimming pool with another golden tab Bengal tiger cub named Ohmar at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores on Tuesday, June 23. The Alabama coast continued to bake Tuesday as the temperature reached 101 in Mobile, topping the previous record for that date.

Despite the heat, Bret and I are still getting in our daily walks (well for me it's more of a waddle) each morning before the temperatures become too unbearable; and Bret has continued to work hard outside in the yard. Just the other weekend Bret planted over thirty plants to get our landscaping started. I was the project supervisor and drink lady---I made myself comfy on a folding chair and provided Bret with all the Gatorade he could handle until I lost my shade and had to retreat indoors to the air conditioning. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until next spring to plant the crape myrtles, pear trees, and other plants---the weather is just not conducive for planting now!

I had to beg to get this shot of Bret busy in the yard. It took him nearly all day to get these plants in the ground. Needless to say that after the job was done, Bret was beyond worn out. I think he fell asleep before eight thirty that night!

As a surprise, my Mom and Dad purchased us four black rockers that we've been coveting for a while. We finished off the outdoor decorating with a monogrammed flag and ferns, which we've hung from the upstairs balcony. After having nothing but dirt in our front yard for nearly two months, Bret and I love pulling into the driveway and seeing all the improvements we've made to our home. Now, we just can't wait until there's a reprieve from the heat so we can enjoy rocking on our front porch while sipping some ice tea---southern living at its finest!

Our house from the cul-de-sac.

A close-up of our home.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

And the Celebrations Continue...

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today, Bret and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary! We were married six years ago in Pensacola, Florida. We always knew we wanted a June wedding but the stars aligned in 2003 and made choosing a date easier and more meaningful. In the year we were married, my parents' anniversary (June 20th) fell on a Friday. We chose to get married the next day---a Saturday. Bret and I felt that we couldn't get the weekend off to a better or more appropriate start, than beginning by recognizing and celebrating the successful marriage of my parents.

I would say that I'm lucky to be married to a man like Bret, but I know that luck has nothing to do with it. Luck is winning the lottery or being able to catch yourself after tripping before falling to the ground. Meeting and marrying a man like Bret is a blessing!

I always knew that the man I'd spend the rest of my life with had big shoes to fill---my dad's. He reminds me of my dad in so many ways...

I am thankful for each day that I get to spend with Bret, my best friend. XOXO!

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads everywhere. Here's hoping your day is full of joy and that you are surrounded by those you love.

Dad, you are the best dad any child could ever ask for. No matter how old I get, I will always think of myself as Daddy's Little Girl . I can not recall a time when you have not been there for me. Thanks for giving me a lifetime full of fond memories. I love you!

Happy Anniversary!

Today my parents celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary!

Thank you for the wonderful memories that have come from years watching a mother and father that truly love each other.

Your marriage is a constant inspiration to both Bret and me. If we only achieve a portion of the happiness you have experienced in your years of marriage, we will consider ourselves blessed.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! We love you!

Happy Anniversary, Gammie and Grandad---from Gillian!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nursery Pics

Coming soon to a computer near you...nursery pictures! I'm putting the finishing touches on Gillian's nursery as we speak. I'll post pictures this weekend---I promise!

Just for Fun

It's been a lot of fun catching glimpses of Gillian through ultrasound screenings throughout my pregnancy. Everyone is excited to meet her and eager to see what she will actually look like.

After seeing an episode of one of TLC's gagillion baby story television shows, I got the idea for a project for Gillian's nursery. I scanned baby pictures of Bret and myself and changed them from the brownish-purplish coloring (typical of pictures that are roughly thirty years old) to black and white. I put one baby picture of each of us in a 5x7 frame and hung it on either side of a larger 8x10 frame. At this point, the 8x10 frame is empty, but it will (in the near future) hold Gillian's baby picture in color. The 8x10 color picture of Gillian will be surrounded by a white matte. I plan to have friends and family write messages to Gillian as they stop by to meet her in the days and weeks following her birth.

Thanks Mom and Stephanie for doing the hard work---going through albums, boxes, chests, and stacks of family photos.

Here are some of the photos from the project. I thought it would be fun to share!

Pictures of Me

Pictures of Bret

Too funny---I came across these two pictures and couldn't help but notice their similarities.



Another Look

Last Thursday we got another glimpse of Gillian through an ultrasound at our regular doctor's appointment. Bret and I were in awe of our little girl. She was positioned with her tiny hand right beside her face. At one point we saw her smile as she flashed a quick wave. As her fingers went up for the wave Bret and I quickly counted, "One, two, three, four, five..." and were able to see all five of her teeny fingers. As usual she was quite active; and as if on cue, Gillian performed several rolls, flips, and turns for us as we watched her on the monitor.

Gillian Grace was weighing in at nearly six pounds (5 lbs. 11 oz.)at this appointment! Babies gain (on average) about 1/2 pound a week from this point until delivery. Following this logic and with five weeks to go, Gillian will weigh roughly 8 lbs. 11 oz. at birth.

We're getting really excited!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday, Tracey!

Happy Belated B'day, T! Sorry I missed your actual birthday! I blame this forgetfulness on my pregnancy. Figure I better take advantage of that excuse while I still can.

I hope you and Mike enjoyed your birthday weekend in NYC.
We can't wait to hear all about your big "21st" birthday!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Gatewood! Bret and I hope you have a terrific day!

Can't wait to hear all the details once the newest Lil' Gatewood arrives. Keep us posted!

We've Graduated!

We thought this day would never come, but Bret and I finally graduated from our Birthing/Child Preparedness classes Wednesday. For four weeks, we begrudgingly went every Wednesday to the hospital for several hours of what we originally thought would be information packed sessions. Although we did get some very helpful information out of the course, most of our sessions simply provided a bit of much needed comic relief.

Our last class was the most helpful and perhaps, the most entertaining of all. We not only learned how to care for Gillian once she's home, but Bret got to wear the Empathy Belly---a garment that simulates what it feels like to be pregnant! It is a multi-component, weighted garment that will, through medically accurate simulation, enable anyone to experience over 20 symptoms and effects of pregnancy.

Bret was a true sport and was the first to try on the belly. In a matter of minutes he became 30 pounds heavier and got to experience, albeit briefly, what it's like to be pregnant. I was dying laughing as he tried to bend over, pick up items off the floor, and tie his shoes. The best laugh came when the nurse added the bladder weight. This is a weight of several pounds positioned to put pressure directly on the bladder. A short time later, Bret exclaimed, "Whoa, I feel it now...!" It wasn't long after stripping off the Empathy Belly that Bret had to make a visit to the restroom. Welcome to my world, baby!

I can't close out this post without first mentioning that Bret has been nothing short of wonderful throughout my entire pregnancy. He has been so helpful and extremely understanding. He has always pulled his weight around the house but since we learned that I was expecting, he has pulled double duty so to speak. Bret's gone out of his way to help me in any way possible---whether it's getting me something to drink, tying my shoes, picking up things for me---he's done anything and everything to make my life easier! He's terrific and I know that I am blessed. He's not only a great husband, but I know he'll be a terrific dad.