Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Shed

If you think we've just been sitting around on our haunches, think again.  No, no, we have been scheming.  We've mainly been doing our fair share of traveling and hosting family and friends because it's like having a baby is a big deal, or something.  But amidst travels and visits, we've done some scheming, which as of last week, has turned into building a shed.  We have a roof to fix, and a house to paint, not to mention a yard to landscape, but we felt like a shed was the first step so that we could get everything off our back patio, thus making way for the other projects.  Oh, yeah, and we are in hot pursuit of the Money Tree I've heard so much about for many years.  Where, oh, where is it???  Once we find it our house will be completely finished.

Here are a few pics of the shed that is in progress.

While Brett and Chip were hammering away, Scouty was inside doing what she does best: being absolutely adorable.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Arnold and Danny

Hadley and Scout are twin cousins, as they share the same birthday.  That's pretty much where the similarities stop.  Nana Lo snapped this pic of the girls the other night.  It's not a particularly cute pic, but it sure struck a funny bone.  Hadley makes a great mob boss, and for sure would be cast as Danny DeVito.  Scout just has the look of, "I'm with her."  While she doesn't necessarily seem to be an obvious Arnold Schwarzenegger role, that's who I liken her to anyway...especially because of the apparent height difference (thanks to her hair) between her and "Danny."

Something about this pic begged for a little photoshop action.  See if you can tell what manipulations were made.

Scouty Smiles

Scout is now going on 3 months old.  She's getting a lot more tricks up her sleeve.  Smiling is one she's had for several weeks now, but it is still oh-so-heart-melting.  She's very communicative with her sweet little coos, and has begun experimenting with her laugh.  I want to bottle up the sweetness of those sounds.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Scout Meets the Family

Here are some pics of Scout's first introductions:

Grammy T

Nana Lo

Papa Chip (waiting room shot)

Grampy and Grandma Laurie

Scout got to meet her cousin, Hadley, for the first time. Both girls were born on June 3rd, at the same hospital!  She also met her Auntie Kougar and Uncle Al (I don't have a pic of Al!)


And this is Scout's first time in her car seat. Don't be fooled. She has never since looked so comfortable or content when buckled up.

S is for Scout

Scout Ashland Zundel
Born June 3rd, 2011
5:32 pm
9 lbs. 20 1/2" long

May 21st came and went. So did May 28th, the one-week-late-marker. My dear friend, and planned doula, Deanna, came and went. As each of these days came and went, so, too, did my patience. I was content and happy, not to mention quite comfortable, but once I got beyond one week late, I got some serious ants in my pants. Emotions came and went with the wind, as I began to fear that I would be pregnant forever, and that I would be forced to give birth to a behemoth of a child. I was having a May baby! That was all I had considered. June hadn’t even entered my brain as a possibility. As I walked around town, people would inevitably ask, “When are you due?” I would smile and quickly reply, “11 days ago,” or, “12 days ago.” Discouraged, I would cry in the shower as I stared down at my ever-growing belly. A good old-fashioned pity party is what it was. Brett was absolutely wonderful through all of my emotions, serving as my calming and comforting presence. He let me cry when I needed, feeding me gentle and sweet reminders and encouragements all along the way. He was unwaveringly supportive and present, as he has always been. But the final days of my pregnancy, through every aspect of my delivery and post-partum are days that I will always remember, for my husband was, in the words of Feist, my moon, my man.

By my 42-week appointment, which was on Wednesday, June 1st, I was more than ready. The day prior was my meltdown day, and the day I embraced the fact that I was having a June Baby. From Wednesday on was my “let’s get down to business” attitude, which was certainly aided by the fact that my doctor and I decided that Friday would be the grand finale. If I didn’t go into labor by Friday morning, then we would take matters into our own hands and induce. Knowing that there was an end in sight helped my attitude. I was proactive in home-induction remedies, as I really, really wanted to go into labor without the help of Pitocin, but was also okay if my body never kicked it into laboring gear. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. I would meet my baby girl on Friday.

In all the ways that I was exceptionally excited to finally meet my little girl, I was also dealing with underlying fears and anxieties. I can control my body in everyday life, but the birth process is about letting go, getting out of the way and allowing the body to take over and do its thing. There’s no slowing labor down once it starts, and no real speeding it up when I deem it necessary, which are both terrifying thoughts for a semi-control freak like me. Brett gently reminded that I had been out of control throughout my entire pregnancy. This was so true! Why would I think that God would allow me, or TRUST me, to be in control of the crescendo of the whole life-giving process? In the weeks and days leading up to my delivery all I could do was pray, and ask God to protect me from debilitating fears. I know that when fear rules over me, I am worthless. I wanted no part of fear, no part of anxiety, for that communicates a complete lack of trust in my ever-faithful God. I repeatedly begged for the strength to stay rooted in my God’s truths and promises, to bask in his calming presence and comfort. As always, my God proved faithful and gracious.

Friday morning, June 3rd, came quite quickly once my attitude had shifted. I didn’t care that I was 13 days late, for I would finally be meeting my baby girl that day…hopefully. I awoke at 3 am, which was not uncommon for the latter stages of my pregnancy, and was accompanied by my good friends, Michael, Jim, Pam, Dwight, Kevin, and the whole gang. They were so good to me in the final days. During my wakeful hours I was definitely having contractions, which made me wonder if the Blue Cohosh or the Castor Oil had finally begun to work their magic. Then I fell asleep, and that was that. I awoke again at 6 am, slightly disappointed when I realized I hadn’t gone into labor, but would, in fact, be relying upon the previously scheduled induction to finally meet our Tiny One. At least I would be meeting her, though, which is the realization that quickly washed away any ounce of discouragement. Discouragement was quickly replaced with the nervous shakes, for I had no real grasp on what I was about to face—delivery, baby and otherwise.

Brett and I arrived at the hospital a little before 8 am, toting with us enough items to trick people into thinking that we were moving in. From the time we set foot in the hospital until we met our daughter, Brett never left my side. We checked into our room, and our doctor met us there at 8:30. Dr. Delgado checked to see what my progress was, and determined that I was about 70-80% effaced and 3-4 cm dilated. He decided that it would be best to start me on a very mild dose of Pitocin, though he predicted I probably wouldn’t need much before my body took over. Around 10 am, the same time that my nerves peaked in the form of uncontrollable shakes, the nurse administered the IV and began the Pitocin. At that point I was able to calm myself and embrace the fact that it was most certainly game time; there was no turning back, and no point in wasting energy shaking! I needed all the energy I could get.

My mom and Brett’s mom, Laura, were in the room off and on the rest of the day. My dad and step-mom, Laurie, dropped in for a quick visit shortly after I began the Pitocin, which is a good thing because had they shown up much later I doubt I would have remembered much of their visit. Contractions started getting longer, stronger, and closer together around 11 or 11:30 am, at which point I immediately understood the difference between labor contractions and Braxton Hicks. For the time being, however, I was able to really relax and breathe through my contractions. Mom and Laura were very encouraging and supportive as I started the laboring journey, and with a little help from Xanax later down road my mom was able to hang in there…just barely. In these early stages of labor we were allowed the necessary time to work out the kinks, explore laboring positions, and practice deep breathing, as well as give my body the opportunity to gear up. Brett was able to practice counter-pressure on my lower back, and I was able to use full sentences to tell him what felt good and what didn’t. This is a luxury we did not have later in the day.

Around 2 pm Brett, Laura, Mom and I went outside to the courtyard to walk, at which point I began to really FEEL my contractions. The four of us were making laps, and when the contraction would begin I’d wrap my arms around Brett’s shoulders and Mom would put counter-pressure on my back. After about 15 minutes I decided that I really wanted that time with Brett alone (I was still able to form complete sentences, mind you). I have no idea how long Brett and I stayed outside, for from that point forward begins the blurring process. Suddenly practice was over, and my contractions were the real deal. My animal instincts kicked in immediately. I didn’t care that I sounded like an injured cow moaning for a minute straight every 70 seconds, and I only slightly cared that the back of my gown kept gaping open, giving any onlookers a show. I was very present through my contractions, exceptionally focused, and the only place I wanted to be was resting my head on Brett’s chest, arms wrapped around his neck. It was the safest, most comforting place I could imagine. I didn’t care that I felt discomfort, for I truly loved being held by him in that moment.

We eventually made our way back into our room, though I honestly don’t remember walking back. I was most certainly in the zone. Prior to going into labor I feared that my eyes would be focused on the clock, and how long I had been in pain. In reality, I had no concept of time; I couldn’t care less what time it was. Time as I knew it was one minute long. It consisted of me climbing to the peak of thirty seconds, then descending the next thirty seconds back to a blurry existence. Many of the voices I heard became similar to the adults in Charlie Brown, but Brett’s voice came in loud and clear, as he counted out every single contraction. I feared, prior to going into labor, that I’d get to the point of giving up, wanting to quit, doubting that I could handle any more. Not once did I feel this. God was so faithful to keep me grounded, focused, and centered.

Around 3:30 pm my contractions became really intense. My modesty had gone flying out the window, and I was working through my contractions with a new intensity. I began to feel the overwhelming urge to push. Our nurse came in to check on me, and when I somehow managed to communicate (I’m not sure if I formulated a complete sentence or not) that I needed to push, she decided that it was time to check my dilation again. I had progressed from 4 cm to 7 cm in an hour and a half. Because of my progress it was finally time to move over to the tub, for I wanted to labor in the tub, and intended to have a water birth. My pre-labor modest self packed a bathing suit top, thinking that I’d want to cover my breasts while in the water. When in the throes of labor, however, there was no way I was about to waste any energy tying my bathing suit on just to cover up. I would’ve jetted across the hospital lobby buck naked at that moment if I had to.

Somehow I managed to walk (sprint) across the birth center hall to my new room, the room in which I’d deliver my baby. I hopped in the tub just in time to begin my new, more intense contractions. I don’t remember opening my eyes much from this point on, and my memories are all quite fragmented. I was hot…so, so hot. The ice water soaked rags that Brett faithfully covered my head with are in the archives of my brain. Heaven.

At 9 cm I began to feel the unbearable urge to push. My doctor, I was told, was on his way, and I needed to stop pushing since I wasn’t fully dilated. “Blow out candles on a birthday cake,” is what my nurse kept telling me. I dare to say that may have been the most intense part of my labor, resisting the insanely strong urge to push like a maniac. It was at this moment that I began to wish that time would speed. I momentarily had a lapse in thinking, and considered my options. Could I get an epidural, or could they just knock me out completely and surgically remove my baby? Then another contraction came whisking away said thoughts, and soon thereafter my doctor came into the room. I remember making eye contact with him, and imagine myself to have looked utterly helpless, silently communicating, “Help.” He promptly checked my dilation, and declared that I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing. Praise God! I began pushing with my next contraction, and realized I had no idea how to push. I began questioning if it was truly possible for me to push a whole baby out of my body. Was I honestly moving my baby?

After goodness knows how long of pushing in the tub, and not a lot of progress later, my doctor thought it would be best if I moved to the bed. Though I originally wanted a water birth, at that point my main objective was to get my baby out, and since my doctor thought I’d be more effective on the bed, I swiftly (and without modesty) hopped out of the tub and onto the bed (Well, I’m not sure how much hopping I was truly doing. It was more mental hopping.). Once on the bed I proceeded to push, still a bit unsure as to how to effectively push. I think what really helped properly communicate how to do so was when my doctor repeatedly said, “Push like you are taking the biggest poop of your life.” Ding, ding, ding! I got it. Finally, it made sense. And so I did. I pushed with understanding and conviction. I didn’t care what horrific noises escaped my mouth because I was on the home stretch. My baby was making her final descent, and it was up to me to get her out.

At 5:32 pm our sweet baby Scout Ashland came into the world. She was immediately placed on my chest, and all the intensity I had just experienced vanished, making way, instead, for the sweetest moment I’ve ever known. I looked up at Brett, who was completely glistening with sweat and tears and overcome with such joy, love, and adoration. He thanked me, declared his love, communicated how proud he was, and thanked me again and again between sobs. And there we marveled together at the sweet baby that we created, whom God perfectly knit together in my womb. Suddenly our world got a lot smaller.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

S is For...

I am nearly in my 36th week of pregnancy, and the whole "nesting" phase I heard so much about is no myth! It's real, and I'm in the thick of it. Last week I organized and reorganized every cabinet and storage space in our house, cleaned the refrigerator, and de-dusted everything possible...oh, and I even folded and color coordinated tissue paper and ribbons (what?). This week has been the week of getting the sweet babe's nursery ready. We're getting close to being done, and ready to welcome our baby girl home.

Brett has been so wonderful. Though I keep him awake at night by all my tossing and turning, multiple trips to the bathroom, my new-found sound effects that accompany any new movement or roll, he is very gracious and understanding. Despite our sleepless nights, he has somehow found my pregnant tendencies endearing, including my nesting phase. He has been so helpful and accommodating, and quickly recognizes when I'm on a mission. He has been amazing at coming alongside me, helping to get sheet done! I am so grateful. The nursery is no exception. He has been my incredible furniture mover and re-mover, picture hanger, picture/art holder, among other things that a pregnant lady simply can't do.

Here it is, our Tiny One's very own room!

I have loved anticipating the arrival of our baby, and have excitedly and lovingly worked on many different sewing projects. I made these bumpers, dust ruffle, pillows and quilt for her crib (not that she'll know, or care...but I care!), which were all really enjoyable projects.

This is the "S" that Brett made for Tiny One's room. I love, love it. Swim, Swami, Slippy, Slappy, Slim, Slimmon, Ssswanson...Samsonite!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Forgotten Fence

I realized that I never posted a picture of the fence that Brett & Chip built this fall after the massive retaining wall was conquered. It turned out great!

Now that the inside of our house is pretty well completed (huge, huge sigh) we can begin focusing our attention on the outside. This is very exciting. Brett has been preparing our garden beds (the two lower terraces), which may be the only thing we can focus much attention on this year. We are so looking forward to getting outside and playing in the dirt this spring/summer! I think that once the little babe is born, however, I will be able to contribute more. Maybe post-baby I'll be able to bend over to participate in garden activities without making excessive noises indicating discomfort. But then again, perhaps this is a permanent trait that has developed? Poor Brett.

Since the upcoming arrival of our Tiny One will most likely steal Gideon's spotlight, it only makes sense that he'd get a little shout out. Gideon, though not totally in his element when we lived in Encinitas, is most definitely solar powered. We call him our little TJ (Tijuana) dog because when the sun is out he can always be found basking in the most exposed part of our yard, staring directly into the sun, plopped down on a nice solid patch of dirt, or atop our compost pile even though grass may be a very nearby option. Is it terrible that I'm blogging about our dog? Don't answer that. Thank you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More Fireplace Pics

Just so you can get a little more up close and personal view of the handiwork.


Here it is, what we've (I've) all been waiting for: a honeycombless, brand spankin' new fireplace!! Brett and Chip did such a wonderful job demo-ing and rebuilding. The brick work turned out beautifully, and we can hardly wait to install our new wood-burning stove. Our house is going to be a little oven in no time. Just in time for summer. In addition to a new fireplace we have some sweet new built-in bookcases on each side of the fireplace. Hello, storage, how I love thee. We will soon have glass cabinet doors for the bookshelf sections, and drawers on the bottom for wood storage (Brett & Chip will be making those). It's funny how changing that one wall has changed the whole look and feel of our house. I'm just thrilled to have our house back in order, and be rid of perma-dust. Halle-freaking-lujah. Believe it or not, ripping out a brick fireplace creates quite the mess. Avoid if possible...just sayin'. Unless, of course, you have a 15-year old colony of bees residing within, then by all means, go hog wild.
And now onto the nursery...sigh.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The bricking has begun, which I might be so bold to say goes considerably slower than tiling. Sigh. We are, nonetheless, taking steps toward completion, and perhaps toward getting our little house back in order. Saturday wasn't the best day, as it resulted in two frustrated guys, but Sunday proved to be more promising. Here's to more days of promise!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Yesterday's progress was great, but at the end of the day I feared this project would be a never-ending one. I was wrong. Brett & Chip made great progress today! We're well on our way to having our little home back in working order...I think. Next comes the brick work. Stay tuned for next weekend's adventures.

Honey, I Ripped Out the Fireplace

The dreaded project of all projects began this weekend, thanks to Brett & Chip. What wonderful (and brave) men! The bees that I've posted about in the past have been exterminated, as of several months ago; however, the comb and many dead bees remained behind our brick fireplace. We had no idea what to expect. It was an adventure, to say the least. We are very hopeful that the extraction of the comb will prevent any future bee return visits. Fingers are crossed...tightly.

Here's how we began. A lovely white brick fireplace.

The lovely brick fireplace quickly became a not-so-lovely mess.

Within a couple hours all the brick was down and all the remaining comb was exposed. It was gross, if I may add my two cents, but it wasn't as bad as we were anticipating. I'll provide you with some more detailed shots to try and give you a better idea of what we were dealing with.

We had at least a wheelbarrow full of old comb. Honey, anyone?

Then came the removal of the firebox. This was much harder to remove than anticipated.

After a few hours, finally a breakthrough happened, and they successfully removed that beast.

This is what we were left with yesterday evening. It felt like we had taken 50 gigantic leaps backwards, being that we're well versed in the demolition zone. Our home that finally felt so cozy and complete is back to being a disaster zone. Oh, well. At least we got rid of the bees, right??