Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TSA and all that jazz...

All the recent media hype about the TSA's nekkid-scanners and invasive full-hand pat-downs leaves the average news viewer envisioning every airport security employee as a sick pervert.  So as you can imagine I was not looking forward to the process of flying to South Carolina for Thanksgiving.  Sorry, I'm not driving from OKC to Greenville with a 7 month old.  So I took great pains to not have any metal on my body, no liquids, I even wore some rather shabby yoga pants to avoid zippers.

But the OKC airport hasn't instigated the new security measures.  Less than 70 airports have.  I was treated kindly and thoughtfully by the TSA lady inspecting my driver's license - she asked if I had any questions.  As I took off my shoes & baby sling to put in the little bins, I chatted with the TSA agent who asked Brandt's age and even babbled at him a bit to make him smile.  The lady motioning me through the detector smiled and thanked the servicemen ahead of me for their service.  Even the agent that took my bins smiled and said to have a nice flight. 

Most looked like a retired grandma that perhaps took the job just to have something to do.

So I just have to say this: with "opt-out day" tomorrow, by all means opt out of the scanner if you want.  Request someone of your gender to do the pat-down.  But for goodness sake - be nice to the employees!!

Because they are someone's loved one.  They wish they could be going home for Thanksgiving. 

And the chances are, they are as thrilled about the new security measures as you are - which is not at all.

Sisterly Love & Leaves

I am in South Carolina visiting my sister Marie, her husband and my brother-in-law Michael, nephew Tobias and sister Heidi.  Heidi is here helping out as Michael recovers from Guillian-Barre Syndrome.  In between everything else, we're getting in some good sister time, which is vitally important.

I'm the eldest of thirteen kids.  Thirteen - 13 - a baker's dozen.  Being from a big family has many perks, one of them being you have a wide selection of live-in friends to choose from.  I choose all of them.  We laugh, we talk, and we occasionally throw leaves at each other. 

And on this particular occasion, I had to take a lot of pictures of Marie
because I haven't seen her act like this for a long, long time.

She's had a lot happen lately.

And I like pictures of her.  She's beautiful. 

Of course, I have to take pictures of Heidi, too,
because she is fun while also remaining normal. 

She is the only normal Zeller.

We make fun of her sometimes,
but only in love and because she takes it so, so well.

And she's beautiful, too.

Tomorrow, we will be baking together.  We grew up baking together and its certainly one of our most treasured memories.  Marie's making the pecan pie, I'm making the pumpkin pie and Heidi is making some kind of Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip Mocha Biscotti (she's kind of an over-achiever...). 

The three of us haven't been together for Thanksgiving in five years.  I'm pretty thankful to call these two ladies my sisters.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

News Flash

"I would like to announce..."

"That I now crawl..."


And he has a pretty impressive swinging-arm action to go with it, too :-)


Sibling Love

The day before I left, I was back and forth packing while Charissa and Brandt played in their room.  They were exceptionally quiet so I peeked in the room and saw this:

Feel free to say "so precious" or something like that...

"Awww, sissy stuff."

I've heard it said,

that the greatest gift you can give your child is a sibling...

but I think the parents are pretty blessed, too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

That Sideways Look

There are many faces of Charissa.  They often involve some type of food smeared on her face.  But today, I believe it is watercolor paint...or maybe chalk.  Not quite certain.  She was in her art corner this morning.  They are all non-toxic so I'm not to worried.  I don't think she was eating whatever it was because it looks to have been applied as lipstick and then went a bit south.  

Charissa is a rather private person so when I bring out the camera it is only on rare occasions that she starts posing and smiling.  So I usually have to get right in front of her and start clicking.  Because I'm not a private person.  And I like pictures of my daughter.  And I'm going to take pictures of her whether she likes it or not.  Tough life, kiddo.

I start out asking her to smile,

  but usually after a couple cheesy grins,

it becomes a game of eye contact evasion,

 which then results in "The Sideways Look",

 which I can capture front-on if my camera is fast enough,

 but it really is better in all it's sideways glory.

You can tell she actually enjoys it, can't you?

I'm headed to South Carolina tomorrow with Brandt so Charissa is staying with Daddy.  Since Daddy is her sun, moon and stars, I know she's going to have a blast with him all to herself.  But I'm going to miss the little turkey.  Because I kind of like her if you haven't noticed already.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Books Anyone?

Charissa loves books.  Even when she was really young, she would sit quietly while I read her books and she learned to "turn the page" at 6 months (with board books, yes I know she's a genius!).  She still sits with books in her lap while quietly whispering stories to herself.  I am bracing myself for when this quiet play isn't Brandt's brand of play...

Today, I was puttering about the house, occasionally prying bits of cookie off a baking sheet with a knife to stuff into my mouth.  I had another epic cookie disaster yesterday and I don't know why.  But they are dandy crumbled and mixed with ice cream...or pried off with a knife and eaten alone.

Now what was I saying?  Oh, this morning...puttering...yes...

And Charissa asked if we could read books together.  I told her we could and to go get some books.  Then I got sidetracked with some chores.  I was vaguely aware of her walking back and forth from her room to the living room.  I finally came and saw this:

Books to the left, right and center all carried by a busy, little book-loving bee.

"So are you going to reeeeaaad to me, Mama?"
How can I resist?  

We didn't get through all of them...but we made a nice dent.

Monday, November 15, 2010


- I want to say the word "sometimes" like "sawmtwimes"

- At one time, I didn't understand what people meant when they said they wanted to "eat a baby with a spoon".  Then I had babies and I now fully understand.  They are just so munchable.  If you aren't a mother, please ignore me.

-  In my kitchen there are currently 7 dirty mixing bowls, 3 dirty pots, a dirty crockpot, 4 dirty baking pans & 3 dirty cookie sheets.  This all happened today.  After surveying my kitchen in stunned silence, I am now blogging about it.  I'll wash them...tomorrow.

- My goal is to get a bunch of December freezer meals and all my Christmas shopping finished before I go visit my sisters, brother-in-law and nephew.  When I return, I hope to relax a bit more and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  With the materialism of the season, I usually tend to spend more time on the decorations, gifts, and coordinating wrapping paper than I do reflecting on the coming of Christ.  I want to change that forever.  You should join me!

- Since he has started army crawling, Brandt has beaten his sweet little head on all kinds of things and looks like he's been through a war.  He also has some pen marks on his face but I think that is a display of toddler sisterly affection.

- Tomorrow, I am going to an actual hair appointment for a hair cut.  I have never had a hair appointment before in my life.  I have only paid for one haircut as a walk-in and I got really nervous sitting in the chair.  Maybe it reminded me of the dentist...or something.

- Tomorrow, I am going to have a pedicure thanks to a dear friend's thoughtfulness.  Another thing I have never done in my life.  I'm just all about firsts tomorrow!

- Charissa likes to scribble on paper then strategically place stickers to cover all the scribbles.  I'm not sure what that is about.

- Last Friday, I went clothes shopping sans children thanks to my dear husband.  Everyone should buy second hand clothes.  The selection and prices are so much better - plus you're recycling and (usually) giving money to a good cause.  Like new skirt from the Gap - $3?  Red, wool sweater - $3?  Adorable black shoes - $3?  What could be better? 

- In my baking today, I used 10 sticks of butter. 

- Oh, and I just have to share... Doug and I got Chinese food on Friday night and my fortune cookie said: "You have a charming way with words and should write a book."  I got teary-eyed.  I hung it in the car with a Sonic sticker.  Because I'm classy like that.

- James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you," was the text on Sunday.  That verse has had a huge impact on my life.  God does give wisdom when asked for it.  It's not just about making decisions, it's about how we live our life.  I love the book of James :-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brandt's Birth Story

I know a few people have asked to hear Brandt's story, so I thought I'd go ahead and type it out.  Men: be forewarned this might get a little TMI ;-)

I wanted to have Charissa at home, but being 1.5 hours from a hospital and being my "test run" we weren't sure what to expect and so we went with a doctor.  Since then, to give birth at home has been my dream.  I had a horrible hospital experience which left me downright embittered, spiraling down into postnatal depression and lack of bonding.  I know not all experiences are like mine, but I felt completely disrespected as a person & mother.  I never want to repeat that experience again.

And so when I saw the plus sign on my pregnancy test one fine late-summer day in 2009, I knew: Lord willing, this one would be born at home.

I had a generally uneventful pregnancy aside from a suspicion of gestational diabetes (I was fine) and some rather intense gallbladder attacks.  I didn't gain much weight - I've decided that girls make me fat and boys make me old - I started noticing crow's feet half-way through with Brandt - hehe!

My due date was April 12th.  That day came and went - but no baby.  I was feeling very "maternal" on a April 15th.  It was just a feeling that something was going to happen.  So I called my Mom in Colorado and she started driving with my little sister, Laurel (7 months older than Charissa).  Then the waiting really began.

There was a lot of stuff going on with the family currently, specifically with my brother-in-law who had become completely paralyzed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome on the 7th.  At the time, it was unsure if he would live.  Mom had just returned from South Carolina to help and I felt horrible that she could not still be with them.  But waiting for babies the old fashioned way takes patience and a willingness to let God make the plans!  We had a good visit, with lots of walks and some spicy food.

On Saturday (the 17th) I took a Tablespoon of castor oil in hopes that it would throw me into labor.  Oh yummy.  If you are familiar with what castor oil does, you know that wasn't a fun day.  But alas, no baby.  And we were back in church on Sunday, something I had hoped not to happen without a baby in my arms! 

On Tuesday (the 20th) I saw Ruth, my midwife.  She said my body was very ready and she was surprised I hadn't kicked into labor yet! I asked her to strip my membranes.  She did a little - much nicer than the involuntary stripping I had undergone with Charissa.  And then I asked her about castor oil.  Apparently, I hadn't been taking enough.  When you want castor oil to throw you into labor you have to take about 1/3 a cup.  So the next morning (Wednesday, the 21st), I downed 1/3 a cup "mixed" with orange juice.  I say "mixed" because oil doesn't combine with orange juice.  It was, uh, quite an experience.  Glug, glug, glug...  (Hey: only do this after talking to your midwife and if your body is really ready to go!  Before that, it isn't good for your baby.  No medical advice here, just telling you how it happened!)

Honestly, the larger dose was much nicer to deal with than the previous.  And it did throw me into labor.  I don't know if it was the oil, or the membrane stripping, but I started having regular contractions that morning.  I went for a walk with Mom, Laurel & Charissa.  We played near the pond.  I planted tomatoes and peppers in my garden.  I was fully expecting to not have a baby until early the next morning.  Around 4 pm, I was starting to feel the pain in my back and lower abdomen regularly.  I lay down with Charissa, who wasn't feeling well, and tried to get a nap but something about snuggling with my sweet baby girl intensified my labor.  At about 5 pm, I walked outside where Doug was working on a storage shed next to our home and told him I thought it was time to call the midwife.

I had kept Ruth up to date on all the happenings, so she was expecting a call from me.  But another client was in labor and she couldn't leave.  So she called a colleague of her's and asked her to come attend my birth.

Everyone else ate pizza while I took a shower and blew through contractions.  The midwife, Charlee, arrived around 7pm.  By that time I was blowing hard and it was hurting.  She checked my dilation and I was already dilated to a 5.  We discussed the best way for me to deliver.  She said lying on my back would give her the best chance to keep me from tearing up, something I did NOT want to repeat!  Of course, I wouldn't have the stirrups or restraining hands from my past experience and I could writhe and move to my heart's content.

I mostly stood and rocked, blowing and occasionally grunting towards the end of each contraction.  I tried hands and knees for a while but my arms got tired.  I don't think anyone suspected that I was as far along as I actually was, least of all me.  Little did I know, I was going through a quick transition (the last, very intense, dilation before birthing) during the half hour right after Charlee arrived.  Charlee suggested our going for a walk.  I decided to use the restroom before we went and I was PUSHING!  With Charissa I had never felt the urge to push, the doc just told me to push.  But this instinct was powerful!!!  I held Doug's hand and blew hard through each one.  I moved to the bed and lay down.  No walking outside for me!  Charlee checked me and I was at a +2 already!  Brandt was in the birth canal - good thing I hadn't gone outside - he might have been born in the grass!

Charlee asked where my Mom was for fear she'd miss the birth.  She came in right then, just having tucked Charissa and Laurel into bed.  My friend Angie came in, too.  I had asked her to take pictures.

I lay on the bed and Charlee suggested that I blow out and then continue to exhale as much as possible - usually ending in a deep moan.  I was amazed at the power this gave me and how natural the pushing seemed. This moved Brandt down quickly.  As Brandt began to crown, my water broke and splashed all over Charlee.  Poor lady!  I guess she's used to that kind of thing...
Brandt was crowning and I was pushing, but I was scared.  The "ring of fire" had ended in over 20 stitches the last time and I did not want to repeat that.  Charlee listened to the heartbeat and told me, "This baby is ready to come now."  Then she sensed my hesitation.  "Hannah?  Are you scared to push this baby out?" she asked.  I responded, "YES!"  Charlee assured me that I was stretching beautifully and I didn't need to be afraid.  Then she prayed, "Dear Jesus, help Hannah to push this baby out!"  I echoed her prayer, "Father!  Help me please!  Come on baby, I want to meet you!"  And in just a few more pushes, his head came!  Charlee showed me his face and said, "Push the shoulders out and you can hold your baby!"  I didn't feel the urge to push at all...but then it came and with my head in Doug's lap, and my hand gripping my mom's hand, Brandt Andrew came into the world and was placed on my chest. 

All I could do was stare at his face.  My beautiful, alert baby boy!  Everyone in the room had been at the right angle to tell he was a boy, but I somehow knew already (although I did check to make sure!).  I knew how much he would weigh, too - 8 pounds even.  We all sat and admired him for almost half an hour.  Then I nursed him - he was a good eater!  Afterward, Charlee did a physical exam - he was perfect :-)  I had a teensy tear but nothing needing stitches.  I was elated.

While Brandt had his physical, I got up, got dressed and started walking around.  I felt great!  After Charissa, I hadn't been able to walk without support for almost 24 hours afterward for fear I would faint of blood loss.  This time, I felt like hiking Everest in comparison.  Well, maybe not that ambitious :-)

Brandt was perfect at 8 lbs, 21 inches long.  He had a little trouble with his body temperature, but I kept him skin-to-skin and he was well regulated by morning.

Brandt was born at 8:46pm so we made phone calls to family, then I took a shower and we snuggled down into bed together for the night.  He only woke a few times and the next morning, Charissa came to mama and daddy's room as usual - but this time she got to meet her new baby brother :-)  My Mom brought us breakfast in bed, and I was able to relax all day in my own home just enjoying the new addition to our family.  Our midwife called to make sure all was well - and it really, really was :-)

Although not everything went as planned with a different midwife and no water birth (everything was so fast we didn't have time to fill the tub!), I wouldn't have changed a thing.  My home birth was everything I had prayed it would be - personal, quick, and healthy.  There was something else I had prayed it would be and God more than fulfilled that request...

..it was a redemption.

Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fer sale, ya'll

I say it like that because I have embraced my more recently-grown Oklahoman roots and I'm proud to say it.  After all, my sweet son was born here, some of my best friends live here and, shucks, its just a great place to live and raise children.  But we believe God is opening some doors in non-Oklahoma territory and so we are putting our home on the market with hopes that it will sell soon.  (Our Realtor has a great last name, by the way.)

Allow me to show you a close up of the facial expression here...

That is not a snarl.  Indeed, it is an "I am proud to have lived the majority of my life in Okie-land" face. 

I think.

The autumn is beautiful in Oklahoma, too.  

This is the maple tree in our backyard.

I'm going to miss it here.

Why, hellooooo there :-)

He's my favorite son.

Noah's Ark Charissa-style

On Sunday, I taught Charissa about Noah and the Ark.  She hasn't stopped talking about it since.  Today we built an ark out of blocks and Charissa kept telling me all about the boom-boom (thunder) during the storm and the different animals that came to the ark.  I tried to capture it on film but as you can see, she gets a little camera shy ;-)

(She looks a little surprised when she sticks her arm under her shirt 
and suddenly has a hand in her face - hehe.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Shocking Realization

Today, I came to a conclusion.  It has destroyed much of who I consider myself to be, who I am, what I am, and the type of people with whom I feel deeply connected.  I'm not even sure my family will continue to accept me. 

It has caused me to question everything I've ever claimed about myself.  I'm going through an extreme internal makeover.  Do I really like the color green?  Maybe I enjoy sweating?  Perhaps I actually love tofu and just haven't been honest with myself? 

What is my name?

It happened this morning.  I boiled some water, I placed a tea bag into a mug, I poured in the water and watched it steep.  Then it came to me - like a lightening bolt, a wrecking ball, a slap in the face...

I don't like tea!

I drink it because of its medicinal purposes.  I drink it because it helps me talk in the morning.  I drink it because its offered to me.  I drink it because it's something rather than coffee - something I am embarrassed to drink in public because I have to add a disgusting amount of sugar and creamer before I can enjoy it.  And with tea, it's almost the same thing.  Only, it just doesn't do it for me unless its Southern sweet...and ice cold.  And I know all that sugar is so, so bad for me - so what's a girl to do?

Usually, I make tea, take a couple sips then just leave it and it gets tepid and to strong.  Then I will gulp it down out of guilt because I made it and now it's wasting - and I like tea, right?

Occasionally, I like a cup of tea for health, for the heat, for the conversation.  But in all honesty, I'd rather have a mug of revoltingly thick hot cocoa topped with marshmallows and maybe some whipped cream, too. 

It's just who I am. 

Mother?  Will you still claim me?

Your Twenty-Something Life Crisis Daughter

Friday, November 5, 2010


I try to post every day.  But this week was not made of days - it was a crazy smashed together grouping of sunrises and sunsets that somehow flashed before my eyes and I now sit before you saying I have no idea what happened and please forgive me. 

Because I know you are deeply bitter about my not blogging all week.  Because I know your day doesn't feel complete without reading a blog post from me. 

Yes, I know.

But anyway, here are a few random tidbits of our life this week...

- My home is cleaner and more organized than it ever has been in our life together as household and housekeeper.  Today a Realtor came and took notes to write up a listing contract.  I now must keep my home clean and organized so he can come take pictures on Monday.  This will be interesting.

- The frost came last night and since I'm not some freaky gardener that goes outside and throws her body over the tomatoes to sustain them with her own body heat, I now have a dead garden with mushy, frozen vegetables in my backyard.  Whats that?  You say there are cheap thingies called cold frames that you can place over your plants to protect them?  What do I look like, someone to go the easy route on things?  It's the personal body heat or death around here.  I guess.  That or I'm just not paying attention to frost forecasts.  Moving on...

- I had a fever of 103.7* a week ago yesterday.  I rarely get fevers.  I was one sick little puppy dog.  Charissa and Brandt have both had it as well.  Now we all have a cough.  Hello winter :-P

- This past Monday we had a bunch of friends over for our little preschool time.  We gathered leaves and pressed them between waxed paper.  Then I gave them a cookie with three colors of frosting and leaf sprinkles to decorate.  We had fun!

Behind our pond on a leaf hunt!

- Last Sunday, Doug and I listened to the entire book of Acts on CD.  What an incredible book.  Seriously, read it straight through - it will change the way you think.

- I am reading "Radical" by David Platt and "Tortured for Christ" by Richard Wurmbrand.  If you think the stories of Acts are stuck in the 1st century, you'll be shocked. 

- Did you know there are more Christian martyrs now than during the Roman Empire?  People are tortured and murdered for their faith daily in many corners of the earth.  That is something I just hadn't considered much, honestly.  The "right of religious freedom" bubble in the U.S. makes me take to much for granted.  I must remember that it is not a "right" but a privilege and I shouldn't be surprised when it is challenged.  We are strangers in this world, after all.

- Brandt wore a little plaid shirt today.  It was to cute for words so I have to post a picture.

(I'm sorry I routinely cut the tip off my subject's head.  
I'm working on this character flaw...along with a couple other ones.)

- There is a man up the road that processes game (like, cuts up critters and puts them in those nice and neat packages most people see).  Let's just say he has been busy with hunting season.  And let's also say he is not very particular about where the unusable parts land.  And let's further say our dogs are very fat and happy while our front yard looks like a Midevil battle ground.  We have had some interesting, toddler-level discussions on death lately.  

- Did you really want to know that?  Sorry.  It's part of my life.  I'm just sharing it with you.

- I could go on with about 1,000 more bullet points but I will stop for now.  

- Because I want you to keep coming back.

- And I don't want to bore you further.

- And it's past my bedtime.

- Good-night.