Tumbleweed Festival

One of the many advantages of maternity leave is stress free weekend adventures.  It’s so nice to have all day Friday to pack and all day Monday to rest and do laundry and clean up.  I am getting seriously spoiled. We may never go anywhere after I start back to work.

The headband bag made the trip with us.
The headband bag made the trip with us.

Last weekend we went back to Garden City for the Tumbleweed Festival. I’ve been attending Tumbleweed since I was 6 years old, so it was a little surreal to bring my own daughter this year. I have such strong memories of playing for hours in the arts and crafts tent, and watching puppet shows on the children’s stage, and getting my face painted, and pleading with Mom to let me eat 5 funnel cakes a day.

This picture of Katie perfectly captures my childhood memories of Tumbleweed. Freedom, paint, sugar, and sno-cones.
This picture of Katie perfectly captures my childhood memories of Tumbleweed. Freedom, paint, sugar, and sno-cones.

This year we took it easy, hung out in the shade by the main stage, and passed Bonnie around to her many admirers. Bonnie got to meet several members of her Garden City family and spend some quality time with Poppa and her Lobmeyer cousins. The weather was gorgeous and Bonnie and I were so happy to spend several hours outside. We spend far too much of our days in our little basement apartment, I’m afraid. It’s just too easy to lounge around in our jammies all day, but Bonnie is much happier (and sleeps better) when we can get outside for an hour or two.

Right at home at Tumbleweed.
Right at home at Tumbleweed.

Though I think I might be willing to invest in a nursing cover now. This was the first time I needed to nurse outdoors, in a public place, and putting a blanket over my head while I got her situated was… not ideal. Poor Bonnie was covered in sweat by the time she finished eating. Whoops.

Katrina got the good smiles.
Katrina got the good smiles.

She continues to be an amazing traveler and slept happily in the car all the way to Garden City and back. Steven took the night shift with me on our first night in Garden City, just in case Bonnie had trouble adjusting to the new environment, so Bonnie decided to take advantage of the extra time with Dad and stayed up from 3 until 8. When it was back to just me on Saturday night, she woke up to eat and then went right back to sleep. We were both grateful.

Bonnie and Aunt Linda!
Bonnie and Aunt Linda!
Everyone loves Linda.
Everyone loves Linda.

Speaking of sleep, Bonnie slept for 7 hours last night for the very first time! I had started to wonder what the phrase “sleeping through the night” actually meant, because we’ve been stuck on a 4-5 hour sleep maximum for the past month.  Turns out, Bonnie’s just not the night owl that her parents are.  I’ve been feeding her pretty regularly at 8 and 11 and then putting her down for bed. In the last week, we noticed that she would be extra fussy and flustered after her 8 p.m. snack. So last night, we fed her at 9, gave her a bath, swaddled her and she was asleep before Steven even finished her story.  Of course, we still didn’t go to sleep until midnight, so when she woke up at 5 to eat, it didn’t feel that different, but eventually I realized that she went 8 hours without eating and slept for a solid 7.  Way to go, Bonnie!  Now if I can just train myself to get in bed by 10, maybe we’ll all start to feel a little more human again.

Bonnie meets one of her prayer warriors, Grammy Joan.
Bonnie meets one of her prayer warriors, Grammy Joan.

Bonnie has been enjoying floor time more and more these days and has started to notice the toys on her swing and rocker.  So last week, I got out her activity gym and so far it’s been a big hit.  She can bat at the center toy with her hands, and can hit the others with her feet.  On Friday, I put her down on her tummy and she grunted and grumbled for several minutes until she was able to roll over to her side.  After that, she took a 2 hour nap (it’s hard work to half roll), pulled off a mitten and grabbed on to the edge of the gym to help get her moved from her side to her tummy. I’m calling it her first full roll, even if it did take 3 hours from beginning to end.

Activity gymmin'.
Activity gymmin’.
Gym rat.
Gym rat.

She’s getting really good at tummy time now too, and is starting to hold her head up for longer periods when you sit her up on your lap.  The other morning I noticed that she had pulled off her mitten again and found her thumb and was happily sucking away.  I know they’re not supposed to suck their thumbs, but my goodness it’s cute.

I think Anna might be Bonnie's #1 fan.
I think Anna might be Bonnie’s #1 fan.
Serious love between these two.
Serious love between these two.

Back to Work – I have one more week of full maternity leave and then I’m back at work part-time from home. To prepare for the transition back to working, I’ve started getting up a couple of mornings and showering to try and get a feel for our new routine.  It’s been good to see how different it will be, and I really like having the whole morning to get some more things done. It’s nice to start to feel productive again! I took Bonnie to visit my office this week and she was happy to nap with my boss for over an hour while we caught up on what had been happening. It felt oddly good to talk about things like invoicing and programs of study and course scheduling again. It made me feel much better about this whole going back to work business.

Aunt Betsy teaching Bonnie to play guitar.
Aunt Betsy teaching Bonnie to play guitar.

Back to School – Our schedule is starting to fill up again as Steven started his last Graduate class this week. I can’t believe he’ll graduate in December, and we’re both so thrilled that the end is in sight. Since he works full-time during the day, he’s been taking evening classes for the last couple of years. It’s always made his class days feel extra long, but now that he’s missing out on even more Bonnie time, it’s especially cruel. To make up for it, I started a Yoga class at the Douglass Community Center on Mondays and Wednesdays so that they can have special Daddy/Daughter time and I can get a full hour to myself twice a week. We’re only one week in, but so far I think it’s helping everyone feel less stir crazy.

Betsy's outdoor skin vs. Bonnie's indoor skin. I fear Bonnie might be a city mouse compared to her farm cousins.
Betsy’s outdoor skin vs. Bonnie’s indoor skin. I fear Bonnie might be a city mouse compared to her farm cousins.

Pump Update – Bonnie clearly reads this blog, because she decided to help me out with my pumping troubles and went through a 2-3 day stint where she only ate half as much as she normally does. By the time I got back to my pump on Monday, the whole process was much simpler. Many thanks to the Mamas I talked to as well for encouraging me and giving me tips about when to pump and how much to expect in the early days. This time last week, I was convinced it was impossible and now I have 12 oz. in my freezer. Next week – Bonnie’s first bottle!

Bonnie and Uncle Matthew!
Bonnie and Uncle Matthew!
Can you tell Matthew has taken a lot of pictures of tiny babies? He clearly knows what it takes to make the blog header.
Can you tell Matthew has taken a lot of pictures of tiny babies? He clearly knows what it takes to make the blog header.

Want a Cute Picture for your Fridge? – Now that Bonnie is 7 weeks old, I finally ordered, addressed and mailed out the first round of Bonnie’s birth announcements!  Only 4 weeks later than I planned! So impressive. If you’d like an announcement for your fridge, and you don’t think I have your address (chances are I don’t have your address), send me a message/comment/text/email and I’ll put one in the mail for you.

6 Weeks!

Our sweet Bonnie turned 6 weeks old yesterday!  Impossible.

DSC_1842 DSC_1897 DSC_1893 - Edited DSC_1891

Bonnie celebrated her one month birthday at the cabin, so we tried to do a little photo shoot out on the deck. Steven has been learning how to take pictures with his fancy camera which excites him and really stresses me out. I think I still prefer my grainy iPod pictures.

Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes

Bonnie had some suspiciously chill tummy time during the photo shoot.  Then about 10 minutes later we gave her to Poppa Ted and she proceeded to have the biggest blowout diaper of her young life. Poor Poppa. Poor Bonnie. Now we know if she’s acting oddly serene to watch out.

I told Steven I wanted a picture of Bonnie with the mountains in the background but I didn't want to be in it. Simple, right? Not so much. This is a reflection of the mountains through the front door.
I told Steven I wanted a picture of Bonnie with the mountains in the background but I didn’t want to be in it. Simple, right? Not so much. This is a reflection of the mountains through the front door.
But we figured it out eventually.
But we figured it out eventually.

1 Month

We had her 1 month doctor’s appointment on Friday and Dr. Duff confirmed that Bonnie was perfect in every way.  She weighed in at 9 lbs 8 oz and 21.5 inches tall, which is a growth of almost 3 lbs and 2 inches. Phew! I guess we’re doing okay feeding her after all.

The proof is in the baby thighs.
The proof is in the baby thighs.

She’s been struggling with a bad case of baby acne for the last month, but it seemed to bother us more than her.  We asked the doctor about it and it turned out we’d been washing her face instead of moisturizing it – thus making the problem worse instead of better.  Whoops.  Sorry, Bonnie. 😦

3 week old Bonnie. First time in the stroller, first trip to the park.
3 week old Bonnie. First time in the stroller, first trip to the park.

Bonnie’s first 6 weeks have been so much fun. She’s a really good sleeper and has adapted pretty well to napping in her swing or bed during the day. The first couple of weeks she really enjoyed peeing all over her changing table whenever we changed her, but finally stopped that when we went to Colorado.  One particular diaper change she managed to pee into the open drawer of her dresser while I was getting a new diaper out and got all of her clean towels and washcloths soaked. Clever girl.  We had her first scream-free bath at week 5 which was a relief for everyone (including our upstairs neighbors). We’re still not great about clipping her fingernails, and she really likes to have her hands around her face, so we try to keep her mittens on as much as possible.  She loves her car seat and goes to sleep in it immediately. We’ve only taken the stroller out twice, the second time with disastrous results. We took her out last Saturday to get donuts and coffee and wander around the bookstore, but we took too long and she got hungry and hot and then screamed the whole walk back.  Poor thing.  I’m not a huge fan of the stroller because it’s big and bulky and hard to get in and out of the house by myself. If I had my way, I’d just wear her anytime we have to leave the house. In the past couple of weeks she’s stopped screaming during tummy time, so we spend a lot more time on the floor these days.  Just today, I realized that she’s started practicing scooting, because in the time I’ve written this she scooted all the way off the blanket and on to the carpet. Such an athlete.

Bedtime Bonnie.
Bedtime Bonnie.

Goal #10: Never Give Up: Feeding is going pretty well, though she’s wildly erratic about when and how much she wants to eat.  I think we’ve been through two growth spurts when she demanded to eat every 2 hours. Other than that, she’s pretty content to eat every 3-4 hours and we’ve gotten much better at the process. It’s comforting to look back on that, because I remember very clearly trying to nurse her for the first time in the hospital and feeling like it was completely hopeless. Nursing was not as instinctual for me or Bonnie as I had anticipated, but luckily, you get to practice every 2-3 hours for the first week, so you improve pretty quickly. Coach Snyder’s motto about getting a little bit better each day is definitely our parenting mantra these days.

5 weeks.
5 weeks.

Bottle Baby: We’re going to start the slow transition to bottles in the next couple of weeks to get her ready for day care in October. I’m a little worried about trying to figure out how to pump while I’m home with her, but surely if we keep after it, we’ll figure it out. Steven is very excited to help out with feeding, but I’m a little overwhelmed by the process. Not to mention the dishes! So many bottles and parts and thingamajigs to keep track of and wash and sanitize and find places for. I’ve been leaning on Betsy for all of my Bonnie questions, but this is one area that she’s never had to worry about, so it seems even more daunting.  Any Mamas out there have any tips for me about simplifying the process? Things that require lots of equipment and time really drive me crazy.

We found the headband bag last week. I hope the world is ready for this cuteness.
We found the headband bag last week. I hope the world is ready for this cuteness.

Smile Milestone: In the past couple of weeks we’ve started getting smiles! She smiles at me with this big, crazy, muppety, open-mouthed grin, but has a totally different one for Steven. She smiles at him every day when he comes home for lunch and basically just gazes up at him for the whole hour. Her Daddy smiles start in her eyes and are just the sweetest things in the world. Such love already. They’re my favorite pair.

Perfect pair.
Perfect pair.

Fear (not comparison) is the Thief of Joy: Slowly but surely, the fog of fear and doubt and panic about being a Mom is starting to lift. The first couple of weeks were really hard – way harder than I had anticipated. For one, I thought the crazy hormones of pregnancy would be worse than the crazy postpartum hormones.  Wrong, wrong, wrong. I felt like the postpartum hormones were a million times worse, especially at night. Even though I was tired, it was so hard to fall asleep at night because I was convinced that as soon as I fell asleep, Bonnie would stop breathing. I never had this fear during the day when we would nap together.  There’s just something about the night. I blame SIDS. Luckily, the fear and weepies only lasted the first couple of weeks, though we still sleep with the lights on. And I still wake up periodically to check her breathing. I know that she’ll have to move to her crib eventually, but that transition seems impossible right now. Betsy says that fear is there with each and every baby and it’s the worst part of the whole process. I believe her, but it’s also the only thing that has made me question whether I can do this, or do it again someday. Bah. Get out of here, fear! Quit robbing my joy.

First shoes. Thanks, Aunt Jeny!
First shoes. Thanks, Aunt Jeny!

Day Care Update: On Bonnie’s 3 week birthday we finally got a spot in a day care, so now I’m trying to mentally prepare for the idea of spending my days apart from her. We’ve had such a good time on maternity leave napping and blogging and watching Downton Abbey.  It breaks my heart to think about how fast time is going and how quickly I’ll return to my normal days. There are days when I think I’m ready and nights when it makes me cry, but I’m comforted by my own happy day care memories. It seems like this parenting gig is just an endless exercise in letting go, so I know that we can both handle it. Unfortunately knowing and wanting are two very different concepts for me right now. Luckily we have 6 more weeks together before we have to take that next step.

MamaDaughter

Second-Shift Parenting

Your mom’s favorite joke right now is how enamored I am with the chair the nurse brought me, the one that converted into a bed. Apparently, it’s all I can talk about when people ask about your birth. But really what can I say? If I say the birth was easy, the person I’m talking to would say, “Maybe for you!” If I say it was difficult, they’d add, “Oh yeah?  You did a lot of the pushing then?” No, they probably wouldn’t say any of this, but these are the sort of low-hanging-fruit jokes I would make. So I limit my commentary to the chair the nurse brought me. Have I already mentioned that it converted into a bed?

After you were born, I started getting to chip in with the whole raising you business. Your mom went through twenty-two hours of unmedicated contractions, then seven hours of Pitocin, and then finally an hour of pushing. She carried you, our most precious cargo, for nine months—through nausea and sleepless nights and a rash that covered the majority of her body—before pushing you miraculously into the world, but I supervised your first bath, so really we’re even. Actually, I just sort of stood there while the nurse sponged you off and shot more instructions at me than I could ever possibly remember.

It’s hard being a dad. I feel so late to the game. Your mom has been raising you for nine months; I’ve been at it for nine minutes. And even now I’m left out of a lot. Because I have to work and, you know, can’t feed you, I miss all that night parenting everyone raves about.

Okay, so maybe that’s not so bad, but I also miss all the day stuff too. I’m a second-shift parent, which is just as expendable as it sounds. Really, I’m an assistant second-shift parent, assistant to the parent, in charge of all those “can’t screw it up” tasks like taking your temperature or changing your diaper. Wishing I could do more. And yet I love you with a force that keeps me working more at work so that I can play, guilt-free, at home. And it is an all together new love. It is the sort of love that comes with new set of instructions for living. And a new definition of what it is to live—and to love.

For instance, I’ve always taken for granted that agape, “The Love of God,” was a mystery of the faith that I’d never comprehend. Or worse, I have taken it to mean only the love I feel towards God. But then this morning your mom handed me you, because it was my shift. I held you in my arms while you cried until we both fell back to sleep. And in that short hour nap as the sun rose, I dreamt terrible things: Committing accidental crimes and being imprisoned for them. During the day I visited the cells of my fellows, converting their hearts as best I could and trying to remain hopeful and useful. Then, as so often follows the day, even in dreams, the night came and I remembered you at home, crying in your mother’s arms, and at this I let out a wail, not a mature crying spell but an infant’s bellow—so absolute was my sorrow.

When I woke up to find you in my arms, still fast asleep, it was not the relief of an innocent man set free by the morning, as I have felt many times before. No, it was the relief of the shepherd, the woman who had lost her coin, the father whose son had returned—as if from the dead. And I started to see then, if only briefly and imperfectly, what “The Love of God” really means, because the worst part of my dream wasn’t being in dream prison. No, the worst part was not being there to rock you back to sleep when you cried.

Bonnie’s First Vacation

Phew! Life with Bonnie is great, but busy! Did anyone warn me about that? I’ve had a gigantic draft post started since her first week of life, but somehow I never get around to finishing it. Baby maintenance is a full-time gig.  I think I heard or read about that somewhere…

Love bum.
Love bum.

Anywho, last week we took Bonnie on her first big road trip for our annual family vacation to Colorado. I was a teensy bit nervous and stressed about the long car trip, sleeping in the pack and play, altitude sickness, and trying to remember to pack all of her essentials + mine + Steven’s.  Aunt Abby came over on Friday to help me pack and clean the house so we were able to leave right on time Friday evening.  This was my first time nursing in the car, and changing Bonnie in a McDonald’s bathroom, but everything went well.  It’s still astonishing to me how much attention Bonnie generates in public. We get stopped everywhere. At the Burger King on the way home, a whole group of elderly ladies coming back from a bible study swarmed the car when they saw Steven with Bonnie and asked if she needed any additional grandparents. At the King Sooper’s in Pueblo, every single person who passed us stopped to ooh and ahh and ask how old she was.  In a culture that sometimes feels like it’s filled with baby-haters, it’s comforting to see complete strangers light up when we walk by.

Aunt Abby, Jimmy and Cheesy.
Aunt Abby, Jimmy and Cheesy.

Bonnie was an excellent traveler and handled it all like a champ.  We waited a little too long to feed her on the way to Garden City, so had to make a pit stop in Hanston to soothe the savage beast.  Then, on the way home, I woke her up to try and avoid the screaming in the middle of the Interstate and thoroughly confused her, so she screamed for a few miles before we could pull over and I could soothe her.  Other than that, she was perfectly happy and didn’t seem bothered at all about the 20 some hours (all together) in the car seat.  Steven suffers from terrible altitude sickness, so we were on high alert for any symptoms of that, but she slept right on through it.

Sweet Anna Bear
Sweet Anna Bear

We stopped in Garden City on the way down to pick up Dad and break up the trip.  It was the first night in the pack and play, and I was curious to see how she’d like it.  The new bassinet feature is super handy, so she was right at the level of the bed for easy binky maintenance.  We were worried about her being too hot, so we let her flail about without her sleep sack for most of the night before we gave in and swaddled her and voila – she slept soundly. Unluckily, her stubborn parents didn’t give in to the swaddle until 6 in the morning, so it was a long night for everyone before then.  Somehow she didn’t wake up Dad or Abby with her steady screaming, but Steven and I were a bit frazzled by the morning.  She slept beautifully the rest of the week at the cabin, and didn’t seem to mind the new bed one bit.  I actually think she’s having more trouble adjusting back to the bassinet now, since she had so much more room to stretch out in the pack and play. Ah well.  Better for her to learn about life’s constant adjustments now, right?

Katie Bug, in her favorite Wild shirt and strawberry pants. Style icon, first and always.
Katie Bug, in her favorite Wild shirt and strawberry pants. Style icon, first and always.

The cabin is one of my favorite places in the entire world, and we have been spending a week there every year since I was 6 years old.  When we first started going to the cabin there were just 4 of us – Mom, Dad, Susan and Betsy.  This year, with the addition of Bonnie and Teddy we are up to 11 occupants. We are incredibly blessed and more than a little crowded.  Betsy and Matthew have already started scoping out neighboring cabins that Steven can buy when he writes his first bestseller.  Unless I beat him to it.  The race is on!

The hike crew!
The hike crew!
The hike crew again, minus Steven, but with photo proof of Jimmy stealing Teddy's bub.  Perfection.
The hike crew again, minus Steven, but with photo proof of Jimmy stealing Teddy’s bub. Perfection.

With 5 kids under 10, several hikes a day were needed to keep the peace.  We were so excited to use the carrier for the first time and Bonnie loved being carried around by her parents. When we started packing up the cabin on Sunday, Bonnie must have sensed that we were ignoring her and trying to get things done, because she was fussier than normal. Steven put her in the carrier and she went around with him all morning, washing dishes, vacuuming, shaking out rugs, etc. and had a great time. It’s so nice to know that if we need to get something done around the house, we can always put her in the carrier and she’ll be content to go right along with us.

Mama with the carrier.
Mama with the carrier.
Daddy and Bonnie
Daddy and Bonnie

The week at the cabin was lovely.  Betsy and the kiddos got to stay for the full week for the first time – ever?  Maybe ever.  Matthew got to come up at the end of the week too and we all had a great time hiking, reading, eating, playing, taking lots and lots of pictures, and giggling.  I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to go to the cabin every year, even as we get older and get jobs and our schedules get more and more complex. Everyone in the family has held that week sacred, and every year I’m amazed and thankful for the opportunity to spend so much time together.

Pine cone baseball!
Pine cone baseball!
Kiddos at the stream.
Kiddos at the stream.
Cooking hot dogs at Fire Rock, just like Mama taught us.
Cooking hot dogs at Fire Rock, just like Mama taught us.
Teddy chowing down on some stream snacks.
Teddy chowing down on some stream snacks.
Hiking with Aunt Abby.
Hiking with Aunt Abby.
Sisters at the stream.
Stream sisters.
Adding Bonnie to the Miller family tree.

As I was reading with Bonnie in the sky chair on the deck, I remembered how sad I was last summer, thinking about the baby that we lost in June 2014.  Betsy was pregnant with Grazie and I had been so excited to be pregnant with her.  I remember cautiously thinking about Cabin 2015, and wondering if maybe we would be bringing a baby of our own, or if it would be my turn to be pregnant at the cabin.  I don’t think I ever truly believed that it would happen so quickly, or that it would be beautiful Bonnie in my lap just one short year later.  So much of pregnancy and babies is about waiting and planning and schedules and worry.  Then one day you look up and realize that God has given you everything you wanted, and all that worrying was for nothing.  It was a beautiful reminder that His timing is perfect and that I am as impatient as ever.