I realized the other day that this is my first full summer in Garden City since 2004. I never came home for the summer when I was in college, and then I was working, so I’ve been stuck in Manhattan humidity for the last 12 years. So far, I am loving the change. It’s hot, but not humid, and I am really enjoying the fact that it gets cooler in the evening so that you can actually spend some time outside, or open the windows and get some fresh air, or just go outside without sweating to death. Steven, on the other hand, thinks that the desert summer is just the worst thing ever. Having spent half the summers of his life in Florida and Louisiana, he feels most at home when it’s suffocatingly humid. He’ll get used to the beauty of SWKS eventually. Y’know, once his allergies adjust to the wild wild west.
GCCC has awesome summer hours for employees. 8-4, Monday through Thursday and 8-12 on Fridays. I’m obsessed. We’ve been taking advantage of the early hours and heading to the pool every day. Which also means that this is the first summer I haven’t been sickly office pale since I graduated and got a big kid job. Garden City is so good for my health. Bonnie was a little wary of the pool at first, but once she learned to splash, she’s been having a great time. She’s also really loving dancing right now, and spends all her time in the water splashing or dancing or taking a rest on my shoulder. It’s the best. We usually wrap up our pool time in the baby pool, and she enjoys crawling around – though she’s careful not to get her knees on the scratchy concrete, of course.
Pool time also means cousin time, and Bonnie is loving all the extra play time with her Lobmeyer cousins. We see them on Friday nights for Municipal Band concerts too, and Bonnie shows off how nicely she will sit and stay on a blanket while the other kids run all over the park. Steven is also enjoying the extra workout of chasing Teddy when he gets outside of approved range. You can tell when he gets there, because he’ll look back and giggle. Smart little stinker.
A few weeks ago, we finally bought a window air conditioner and then Steven finally put it in the window. We originally thought we’d put it in the kitchen, but thanks be to God – we had the wrong outlet and ended up having to put it in the living room. It took way longer to install then we planned on and was a very hot and frustrating evening, but now it’s done and it’s in the room that we spend the most time in and it makes it cool and lovely and I am oh so grateful for it. I knew that I was spoiled by our utility bills in our little basement apartment, but I had no idea how spoiled I was by the central air conditioning in the little basement apartment. It was always freezing in there, and my body temperature adjusted to always being freezing. So moving above ground, into a house without air conditioning has been a bit of a shock to my system. Luckily, with the air conditioner and daily trips to the pool, it’s gotten a lot better. I’m currently petitioning Steven to put another unit in our bedroom. How many window units is too many, do you think?
Steven’s first Father’s Day was Sunday and we had a great day. Bonnie made him a tie and picture frame at daycare, which thrilled me, because I am the worst at remembering to do that kind of thing. Probably because I grew up in daycare. It’s adorable and perfect and I didn’t have to do a thing. My favorite. I got Steven a Papa Bear shirt and a very Catholic gift and consented to eat at Rib Crib, because I’m soooo self-sacrificing. He got to take a nap after lunch (his very favorite Sunday activity) and then we finished the day at Dad’s house, grilling lots and lots of meat and watching game 7 of the NBA finals. Perfection.
A year ago on Father’s Day weekend we went to Kansas City to see Jurassic World in 3D IMAX, ate in a very hot and sweaty (but amazing) BBQ restaurant, came home, and Steven assembled the baby swing while I got overtaken by the dreaded PUPP rash. It’s amazing how much has changed in a year. Our whole life feels different. Garden City has allowed us to live the life we always fantasized about and I still can’t quite believe it.
“I can pinpoint that as the single happiest moment of my life, because I realized then that Mom would always have my back. It made me feel giant. I raced back down the concrete ramp, faster than I ever had before, so fast I should have fallen, but I didn’t fall, because Mom was in the world.” ― Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette
8 years without Mom, and this was one of the hardest. First, with the pregnancy, and the baby shower, and the labor and all the firsts. I would’ve loved to talk to mom about all the weird little aches and pains and see what she remembered about her own pregnancies. She would’ve made something for Bonnie – a blanket or a onesie, or a hat, or all three. She would’ve stressed through the whole process and then we both would’ve cried when she gave it to me. She would’ve been there at the hospital. I think she would’ve liked Bonnie’s name. I know Bonnie would’ve liked her. She would’ve stayed for awhile and helped me figure things out. She would’ve looked at me like I was crazy when I acted crazy. She would’ve snuggled and laughed with her. She would’ve given her bits of treats when we weren’t looking. She would’ve napped with her and gardened with her and sat on the deck at the cabin with her and they would’ve been great friends. I hope that I would’ve grown in appreciation of her as I became a mama to my own little girl, growing in gratitude and understanding of her as a whole person, and not just my mom.
Now that we’re back in Garden, I wish for her help and advice even more. I wish I had her guidance when I searched for jobs and interviewed and eventually chose one. I wish she could help me fix the house, and work on the yard, and pick plants to hang on the front porch. Finally! I would’ve appreciated those weekly trips to the Garden Center. I wish that I could ask for her opinion about roofers, carpet, electricians, plumbers, contractors, zoning, etc. She would’ve had all the answers. Our projects would’ve stressed her out, but maybe seeing Bonnie every day would make up for it.
I wish that we could’ve gone to church together each Sunday. I wish that I could hear her sing the hymns with us and watch her watch Bonnie during the homily. I wish that she could’ve been there at the pool each day, feeding Bonnie club crackers, and fretting over her. I wish that she could go on walks with us, pushing Bonnie in the stroller around the hospital, to the park, to Tumbleweed and Municipal Band and the library. I wish that we could visit her at the office instead of her bench. I wish that Bonnie knew her as part of this place, so she could fully understand what makes it so special. There have been so many unexpected things – both good and bad – about moving home. But the biggest surprise was how often I encounter her around town. Her presence is everywhere, in everyone, and it’s such a comfort to be around people who knew her.
When mom was in the world, she was always organizing and giving structure and order to my life. In the past 8 years, there have been so many big life events that we’ve had to handle on our own. It’s exhausting, living this life without her. I wish that I would’ve recognized and thanked her for all the time and effort it took to take care of all of us all the time. There are so many things that I wish I had noticed.
It hurts so much because it was so good for so long. So today, may I focus on the good.
For Bonnie’s first Memorial Day weekend, we headed to Atlanta to meet up with some of Steven’s family. The last time we saw them was October 2014, just before I found out that I was pregnant with Bonnie. Since then, Jeny adopted a little girl, Halla, had a little girl, Ivy, and we had Bonnie. Crazy to go from 2 kids to 5 kids in just 18 months! God is good.
Steven and I were a little nervous about Bonnie’s first flight, but she handled it like a pro. I had lots of helpful tips from my friend Amanda (thank you!) so the packing went as smoothly as possible. It’s actually really nice to fly with an infant, because you get to board first, and go through a special, shorter security line, and everyone is friendly and pays more attention to you. I highly recommend it. I do not, however, recommend flying out first thing in the morning. Steven and I are used to getting the earliest flight, because it means you maximize your time in the city and the airport is less crowded. However, we did not think about the lack of sleep the night before, the extra time needed to get up and going in the morning, and then the added exhaustion of keeping Bonnie on a normal sleep schedule. Oops. Plus, we had bad weather driving from GC to Wichita, so what should’ve been a 3.5 hour drive turned into a very stressful 6 hour drive. We checked into the hotel at midnight, woke up at 3, and were out of there by 3:30. Not exactly the most efficient use of our funds. Bonnie, of course, slept in the car, so when we arrived at the hotel, she was ready to play. Steven stayed up with her until about 2, and then she was blissfully zonked out for all of security and breakfast and boarding and the first hour of the flight. Sweet little stinker. On the way back, we had an afternoon flight, and I was hoping she’d take a nap with me after our full weekend, but she fell asleep in the airport instead of the plane and wanted to play for the entire 2 hour flight. Of course. Luckily, she was fascinated by opening and shutting the window shade, the button on the arm rest, the reading material in the back of the seat, and Steven’s sunglasses, so we got through it with only a little bit of screaming. Naturally, after all that excitement, she fell asleep as soon as we got to the car.
Despite the lack of sleep, we had a great time in Atlanta. Steven’s friend Nathan picked us up from the airport on Friday and took us to the World of Coke museum and the Aquarium and out for delicious Southern food. We stayed in a very cool old house near Grant Park that was huge and remodeled and had the bookshelf of Steven’s dreams. The other kiddos arrived on Saturday morning and they had a great time playing with blocks and toys and dancing and getting to know each other. On Saturday afternoon, we went to a Braves game at Turner Field. It was my first ever Major League Baseball game (and Bonnie’s too!). Steven’s first game was also a Braves game, back when he lived in Georgia. We had great seats (in the shade!) and Bonnie had a wonderful time. She’s started to get a little scared of loud noises recently, so when the Braves took the lead and there was a lot of cheering, she freaked out, much to the glee of the Marlins fans behind us. Luckily she calmed down quickly. I don’t know how we’re supposed to train her out of that. She likes being startled most of the time, but the past few times we’ve been around cheering, she has really disliked it. The Braves won (yay!) and we took lots of pictures and walked all around the stadium. After the game, we went down to The Varsity for dinner – a giant diner that looks like it used to be an old bus depot. On Sunday we drove out to Peachtree, Georgia to listen to one of Jeny and DJ’s friends preach at their church. We got Steven some sushi (a travel staple) and headed back for naps and walks and a relaxing Sunday afternoon at the house. On Monday morning we walked down to a coffee shop and had our first celebrity sighting! It was very exciting, but not as exciting as the coffee and croissants. YUM. My favorite thing to do when I travel is go to coffee shops and bakeries, so I’m glad we got to do a little bit of everything on this vacation.
We were advised to get to the Atlanta airport 3 hours early, which made our morning a little hectic, but our time in the airport much less stressful. We had time to get lunch and Jamba Juice, play with Bonnie and generally slow down as we headed home. It always feels nice to be back in Kansas after spending some time in the city. We had clear skies the whole way home, and Bonnie seemed more relaxed as soon as we got back into the wide open spaces. City vacations are definitely out of my comfort zone, but I’m so grateful for the opportunity to spend some more time with Steven’s family and get to know my nieces. The kids had a great time playing with each other and were constantly vying for Bonnie’s attention. Bonnie proved yet again that she is an amazing traveler – so content to just hang out with us and go along for the ride. We are hopelessly spoiled by her.
It turns out that traveling, like everything else, is more fun with Bonnie. Sure, there’s a little more planning involved, and a lot less sleep, but it’s also a great opportunity to spend more time with her. I didn’t watch anything on my iPad, or read a book, or listen to a podcast. We didn’t even bring a laptop with us. Instead, we made silly faces at each other and snuggled and head butted and read stories and sang songs. On the drive home, Steven read her Mr. Brown Can Moo and she laughed harder than I’ve ever heard her laugh. Traveling forced us to slow down and give her more undivided attention and I’m so thankful for that because she is really great company. Babies! They’re the greatest.