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Charlie’s Birth Story

It sure is nice to get to write another one of these.

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Charles (Charlie) Michael Miller (or Charmeachealle, for short). Born at 10:03 a.m. on Friday, January 6th, 2017. 6 lbs 7 oz, 20 inches long.

There’s really nothing more exciting than labor. I know that sounds weird, since TV and movies condition us to think of the process as grueling and terrifying and disturbing and filled with lots of anger and yelling. But really, it’s the culmination of months (and sometimes years) of anticipation and excitement and waiting. I really love the whole process (especially under the influence of an epidural) and I feel nostalgic for it as soon as we leave the cocoon of the hospital and head back into the reality of diapers and laundry and facebook politics.

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Bonnie and Mama and Charlie 1 week before he was born.

That’s why I write these birth stories, and spend inordinate amounts of time reading other women’s birth stories. I’ve been working on Charlie’s since he was a week old, but it turns out that life is busier with 2 kids, so I’m just now getting around to finishing it. I’m sure I’m missing things, considering that Charlie is now a month old, but something is better than nothing, right? Right. Here we go.

charlie-prep
Charlie baby prep consisted of one trip to Target followed by one nap time of unpacking and sorting baby clothes while watching the movie Sully. I was so convinced that we were having a boy that I packed one drawer of boy clothes and put all the girl clothes back in the bottom of the tub.

As we got closer to Charlie’s due date, I started to realize that there was no guarantee that this labor would be the same as Bonnie’s. Bonnie’s was long (30 hours) and mostly in my back (ouch) but after having done it once, I figured I could handle it. Then I started reading other birth stories and realized that it could actually be very different. Duh, right? My denial knows no bounds.

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Bonnie doing her own Charlie prep.

Everything looked good at my 38 week appointment, so I went back to work on January 3rd. I had been feeling some Braxton Hicks contractions off and on for a month or so, but they weren’t anything like the contractions with Bonnie. After my lunch break on Thursday the 5th, I started to notice some stomach pains that felt stronger than normal. Once I took a minute to pay attention to them, I realized they were probably contractions. I also realized that I had been having them on and off all day, so I figured I should probably start writing them down, just in case. I was surprised to find that they were coming regularly, about 8-10 minutes apart.

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First round of timed contractions. I remember casually checking the clock and writing down the time while talking to coworkers that afternoon. It’s less awkward to not tell them, right?

 

With Bonnie, I had a full day of contractions on the 4th of July that petered out that evening. I figured this was the same, but I was excited that something was finally happening.  It had been snowing for most of the day, and was supposed to get colder that night, so I decided to stay at work a little late and finish up some projects just in case the snow kept me home on Friday. Even though the contractions were coming regularly, I was convinced I wasn’t in labor. I had my 39 week appointment the next day, so obviously, I couldn’t be in labor yet. Denial is my superpower.

I finished up at work and waddled out to my car, still surprised that the contractions were keeping up with me. I had tried to get them to go away by sorting the mail, drinking a ton of water, eating, putting my feet up, etc. When I got to my car, I realized I’d have to scrape it before I could drive home, so I contracted and cleaned off the windshield before finally heading home.

Steven’s Dad was in town that night, so we made plans to meet up with him for dinner. I told Steven that afternoon that I had started having contractions, but he didn’t seem too concerned about them either. I guess my denial is rubbing off on him. He seemed a little alarmed when I showed him how long I had been having them and how close together they were, but I assured him it was nothing and so off to dinner we went.

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Round two of timed contractions. I really didn’t want to keep track of them, because then even I would have to admit that I was in labor, but luckily Steven stays sane when I’m not.

I had a few more contractions during dinner, but I decided to ignore them and chase Bonnie around the restaurant. When we got home from dinner, the contractions started to get longer and more painful, but I figured I just ate too much at dinner. I had been having terrible heartburn the last 2 months of this pregnancy, so feeling bad after eating was normal. Steven went out to shovel our sidewalk and then drove over to Dad’s to shovel his as well. I told him to give Dad a heads up about the contractions, just in case. If we had to go to the hospital that night, he would need to come over and watch Bonnie until Betsy could pick her up the next day. By the time Steven got back from Dad’s house, I was starting to panic. The contractions were getting closer together and longer and I just wanted them to stop. It was too early. There was laundry to do and dishes in the sink and a bassinet to set up and the weather was complicated and I just. wasn’t. ready.

I put Bonnie to bed and cried as I rocked with her. I explained to her that we might not be there in the morning, but that Poppa would get her up if we weren’t there. She gave me extra snuggles and went right to sleep without crying. I’ve heard that the best thing you can give a child is a sibling, but in that moment, I wasn’t so sure. One night she went to bed and life was normal, and the next morning she would wake up to a totally new reality. A new reality that I suddenly felt completely unprepared for.

Steven started working on some edits that were due and I paced around the house trying to slow/stop the contractions and figure out what all I still needed to do, just in case we actually did need to go to the hospital that night. In the end, I settled on starting a load of laundry, brushing my teeth and clipping my fingernails. I figured the laundry would give us a good end point. If the contractions had gotten worse by the time the load was done, we would go to the hospital. Even if it was too early, we would just go check. We had all the people alerted, it was snowy out, and if we waited too long, Dad would be asleep and then we’d have to take Bonnie with us. Plus, I had tested positive for the Group B Strep this time around, so we didn’t want to wait too long and not have time to do a couple rounds of antibiotics before delivery. Charlie’s whole life had started earlier than we anticipated. Why would his delivery be any different?

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Last time, I didn’t let Steven take any pictures of me before we left for the hospital because I was convinced that they wouldn’t let us stay. This time, I was praying they would send us home, so I made Steven take pictures just to jinx us. Alas, foiled again.

The first time around, I thought that the worst parts of labor were the contractions and the pushing. Having done it twice now, I’ve decided that the actual worst part of labor is trying to figure out when to go to the hospital. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for me to decide when I’m in labor and then when I’m in labor enough to actually go to the hospital and do something about it, but there you go. If only there was a pregnancy test that could tell you exactly when to go to the hospital. You hear that, Shark Tank? Get on it.

Finally, around 10, I decided we needed to go to the hospital, so I made Steven stop editing and pack a bag. I could tell things were getting serious because I was willing to leave the house without making Steven wash the dishes in the sink. Steven packed a bag and packed the car and I paced around, too afraid to keep timing the contractions. We got all packed up and Steven called Dad to come over and… no answer. Of course. Steven decided to drive over to Dad’s to talk to him in person and I crept into Bonnie’s room to spend a few more minutes with her, trying to calm myself and soak up these last few minutes of life at home with one baby.

I had been texting with Betsy for most of the evening and she told me that Abby’s due date was also Friday, January 13th. They had scheduled an induction for that day, but apparently Mom was determined not to have a baby at her age on Friday the 13th, and Abby ended up being born the Friday before, on January 6th. So at least if Charlie was going to come early, he would have birthday buddies. I focused on that story through the worst of the contractions and prayed for Mama strength. I’m still convinced she was tougher than me. With Abby’s labor, she had contractions all through her workday and then came home and made us dinner. Probably. I really can’t remember. The only thing I remember was waking up early Friday morning before school and walking with Betsy through the snow to the hospital to meet Abby.

Dad got to the house and we gave him a frantic list of instructions for Bonnie and then rushed out into the cold. On the short drive to the hospital (God bless Garden City), I remembered that we had never decided on a girl name. We ran through a few and I still didn’t like any of them. I also remembered that I had never finished crocheting the girl blanket. I still wasn’t sure I was really in labor, but I was about 100% convinced that we were having a boy. We had decided on the name Charlie months earlier, and I had felt from the very beginning of the pregnancy that he was a boy, so once we got to the hospital, I just started calling the baby Charlie.

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Pre-epidural Susan gets 2 hospital bracelets and the dreaded blood pressure cuff.

We got checked in to St. Catherine’s and the contractions just kept on going. They checked me for what felt like FOR-E-VER and decided I was probably dilated to a 4, maybe a little more. I was a 6 when we checked in with Bonnie. A 4 is in the maybe range, so they said I could hang out for an hour and then they’d check me again to see if I made any progress. Now I was really freaking out. Now that we were there, I wanted to stay. But I was also terrified that I’d get to a 5 and then stop, and then they’d have to induce, or do something to make Charlie come early, or I’d get an epidural too early and that would cause complications, etc, etc, etc. Then again, I thought if they sent me home, I’d have to come back at 2 in the morning and then who would watch Bonnie and I’d have to go on my own and then Steven would come later and he’d miss the birth and I wouldn’t get the antibiotics and then Charlie would get meningitis, etc etc etc. Y’know. Your basic super pregnant freak out. So I stayed for the world’s longest hour, having contractions every 5-7 minutes of varying degrees of awfulness. It was comforting to be hooked up to the machines so that we could watch Charlie’s heartbeat and my heartbeat and my blood pressure and the peaks and valleys of the contractions, though I’m still not sure we’re reading that machine correctly. After an hour, the nurse came back and checked me again and said I was maybe to a 4.75 or a 5 now? But definitely more effaced? They decided to call the doctor and let him decide if I could stay, but also asked me about an epidural, so I started to feel slightly more hopeful that they would let me stay. Blessed Dr. Stucky gave me the green light to stay, but they told me that the anesthesiologist was on another case, so it would be awhile before I got the epidural. No problem. As long as I could stay and it was coming eventually, I’d be just fine.

I got moved to my permanent room a little after 1 in the morning. Steven went to get all our bags and started texting everyone that we were staying. It was official! Baby time was almost here! The other case was at 1:30, so they got the IV in (my least favorite part), took the blood work, started the antibiotic and got all the necessary information from me. Walking from the temporary room to my delivery room, I could tell that things were definitely progressing, because it was MUCH harder to walk than it had been the hour before. Even still, I asked Steven if I thought it would hurt the baby to get an epidural before I was at a 6. Should I wait a few hours? Should we go home? Do you think they’ll send us home? Are the contractions still coming regularly? On and on and on. We had to wait until a little after 3 to get the epidural, and, of course, finally found a comfortable position about 2:45. Steven turned off most of the lights and rubbed my back and helped me lay on my side and remembered to turn on the playlist I had made for the hospital. I had just fallen asleep when the nurse came back in and said they were ready for the epidural. I was grateful, but scared. The contractions had definitely slowed down. What if labor had stopped? Could I still get the epidural? Should I tell them? What if I said no to the epidural and then they came back and it was another 3 hours? In the end I said nothing (of course) and they came in to set up the epidural.

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Loving that epidural life.

The epidural is both my favorite and least favorite part. I feel like it’s the scariest part of the whole experience because it’s ultimately voluntary, and so I feel like it has the most potential to go wrong and then cause complications. Luckily, it took on the first try, though the anesthesiologist did scare me by saying after, “wow. That’s the easiest one I’ve had in a long time.” Um, thanks? She left and I settled into that nice, warm, numb, sleepy relief. Steven finally got to set up his chair bed and we had a good 4-5 hours of sleep. With Bonnie I was too wired or too tired from the previous 22 hours of contractions to really sleep, so it was kind of shocking to wake up at 7 and meet the new nurse. I woke up in a panic though, because I was convinced that my contractions had stopped and that’s why I was able to sleep. The nurse checked me and sure enough – I had stalled out at a 5.5. Again, I was convinced that they were going to send me home. Even though I was admitted and hooked up to the epidural, I was sure that Dr. Stucky was on his way in and was going to scold me for coming in too early and wasting everyone’s time. In labor Susan is not the sanest Susan. Also, I was using the story about Mom and Abby to make me feel better about having a baby a week early, so if I was stuck in the hospital all day and missed having a baby on the 6th I was going to need a new silver lining. Luckily the nice morning nurse started some pitocin, and Stucky came in and broke my water, though again, it took a super long time, which again, made me think that I wasn’t actually in labor. Those two things did the trick and I jumped from a 5.5 to a 10 in the next couple of hours.

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I swear they brought me a new bracelet every hour.

Our nice nurse got me all set up and called Dr. Stucky back to the hospital and then said that we could start pushing. Um, really? Before the doctor got there? I told her it took about an hour of pushing with Bonnie and she assured me that it wouldn’t take anywhere near that long with this one. And with that, we started pushing. I was confused about why we were starting before he got there, especially because she kept saying things like “not long now” and, “just a few more pushes,” and, “oh look, there’s the head. And a full head of hair!” Still no doctor through all these comments and yet I didn’t say anything, just thought loud things in my head and kept on pushing when she told me to. Maybe I’ll be more assertive with the next one. After the third push, Dr. Stucky came flying in the room, took one look at the birth in progress and quickly traded his coat for a gown. Three more pushes, and there was a head, one push after that and Charlie was born. Steven said that the cord was wrapped around his neck and his shoulder, and I was grateful, yet again, that I couldn’t actually see what was happening. The nurse kept trying to get me to sit up enough so that I could see him down there, but I was content to wait the extra 30 seconds until they put him on my chest.

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Nothing better than that first hour of skin to skin.

As soon as I held him I could tell that he was smaller than Bonnie, and longer. He was such a long, skinny little thing, but so sweet and perfect and undeniably mine. Instead of trying to nurse him right away, I just let him lay there on my chest and warm up. We laid there for a little over an hour, calming each other down, getting good and warm and sleepy and ignoring the rest of the people in the room. Labor is such a weird experience in that respect – there are a lot of people paying a lot of attention to you, and then once the baby is here and they give him to you, you can just kind of tune them out. They still have work to do and they’re still in the room getting stuff done, but after all the contractions and pushing and monitoring, it is so nice to just lay back and relax and let everyone else work for awhile.

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Such a stud.
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Tiniest toes.
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My boys.

Since I had the Group B Strep, we got to stay in the hospital for 48 hours instead of 24, which I was initially really annoyed about. In Manhattan, I hated being in the hospital. The nurses were nosy, there were constantly people coming in and waking us up, and I had to wear the stupid blood pressure cuff the whole time. The Garden City maternity ward is heavenly. The nurses are great, the rooms are huge, you don’t have to try and change rooms when your legs are still all jelly from the epidural, you don’t have to watch any scary videos about purple crying, and they have special hospital movie channels! It really is the greatest. I highly recommend having your babies in Garden City.

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Another benefit of the hospital? Nurse swaddles.
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First night. Staying up late to watch House Hunters with Mama.
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Bonnie was our first visitor. She enjoyed Steven’s couch bed, but was mostly excited about getting to spend the day with Poppa and the weekend with her cousins.
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Anna was the first cousin to meet Charlie. They bonded quickly.
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First trip in the car seat. He hated it much less than Bonnie did.
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Abby met her birthday buddy (and Godson!) on Sunday. Not even an hour after we got home from the hospital, Steven got the stomach flu and started throwing up, so my first few hours of life at home with 2 kiddos was a little overwhelming. Luckily, Pat brought a lasagna and burp cloths, Abby brought Sonic drinks and cupcakes, and Bonnie watched Shaun the Sheep and snuggled with me on the couch. #surviveandadvance

The first couple of weeks after Charlie was born, I replayed the labor and our time in the hospital over and over. With Bonnie, I remember being nostalgic for pregnancy, and missing my big round belly. With Charlie, I definitely felt nostalgic for labor. I think it was because it happened so quickly, and I spent so much of it resisting, convinced that my body was failing me instead of doing this miraculous thing. Hopefully next time (if we’re blessed with a next time), I’ll do a better job of remembering that.

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Mr. Sweet Face

 

 

 

Our First Year in the Garden

Well, we did it. We survived our first year in Garden City.

This morning I was sitting in the living room, in our comfy red chair (thanks, Aunt Vernie and Uncle Dennis!), watching Bonnie fly around the living room and drinking coffee and enjoying the beautiful sunlight in the front room. And I thought, for about the thousandth time this month, I am so glad that it is this year and not last year. Last year at this time we were frantically, exhaustedly, packing up more boxes, struggling with Bonnie, and saying goodbye to everything we knew. We were leaving our cozy little apartment and our good jobs and heading west, to a house without running water, or a refrigerator, or even worse, cable and internet. On December 30th of 2015, we weren’t even sure if the heat had been turned on in the house, or if there was electricity, or if U-Haul would really have a truck for us when we showed up the next morning.

 

We were excited, sure. We had been praying and planning and opening our hearts to life in Garden City for close to 3 years. But when it came time to go, to actually turn the dreams into a reality, it was incredibly frightening and uncertain. I had a good job lined up, but at a new college, with new people, in a totally new system. I was terrified. Steven was taking his job with him, but anxious about how it would work via distance, without an office, in a house without heat/water/electricity/internet. Bonnie’s entire world was being put into boxes around her and she responded by refusing to sleep and clinging to us every second of every day. I couldn’t blame her. With every box we packed, I wondered if we were making a huge mistake. With every step toward Garden, I worried that it was a step in the wrong direction. We kept moving forward, and I thought the excitement would overtake the fear. But the fear had remarkable endurance.

 

In the end, we made it. We packed up the U-Haul, said goodbye to dear friends and our beloved apartment, and made it all the way to Garden City, late on December 31st. We rang in the new year in our new place, and wondered what on earth 2016 had in store for us.

 

It was truly an adventure.

 

 

No running water is no excuse for not having freshly ground Bistro coffee on your first day of work in a new job. #priorities
No running water is no excuse for not having freshly ground Bistro coffee on your first day of work in a new job. #priorities
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God bless mini fridges.

We spent New Year’s Day unloading the U-Haul with Matthew and Anna’s help. We had heat and electricity and a mini-fridge for Bonnie’s milk. My sisters and Anna had come over the day before to wipe down everything they could with clorox wipes and vacuum carpets and closets. Eventually, we got running water. Until then, we stayed at Dad’s house, ate sandwiches, washed bottles at Betsy’s, lived out of suitcases and boxes, and brushed our teeth with bottled water. The upstairs got all new plumbing. The bathroom got new fixtures and a new toilet and a new floor. We unpacked. Slowly, but surely, we unpacked some more. We got cable and internet and it started to feel more like a home. We rearranged furniture, and had people over for dinner. In March, after several meals on the couch and, in some cases, the kitchen floor, we finally got a real table and chairs (thanks, Linda!) In April, after several floods and more than one plumber, we successfully completed our first load of laundry in the house. We washed bottles in the sink, in the bathtub, at Dad’s house, at Betsy’s house, at the office. With God’s grace, we adapted, and then adapted again, and finally adapted some more.

Thankfully, we had a mild winter. Steven washed windows and blinds and curtains. Spring came early and the house got HOT. I missed our basement apartment in a whole new way. We bought a window unit and Steven installed it and we settled in again. Finally – cool air. We sweat a lot, but again, adapted. By the time fall came, we were comfortable. I forgot all about the rough parts. I was amazed to look back and realize just how long it had taken us to get situated. There are still boxes in the kitchen that have never been unpacked. We work around them, never pausing to put them away. There are a few things on the walls, but it’s largely undecorated. Somehow, it doesn’t matter. This is home. Bonnie is cute. Toys are everywhere. We are content.

On Cinco De Mayo, we found out I was pregnant. Bonnie was so small. We were still so unsettled. It was unexpected sure, but a blessing. A beautiful gift. A reminder to be thankful, to refocus, to have a little perspective amidst the chaos. In June, I took a new job. In July, Steven took several new jobs. This fall we worked hard, harder, hardest. Bonnie went back to daycare full-time and flourished. We got more involved with the church and started to build a real community here. We had people over for football games, cooked food, made friends, got busy. Life now looks closer to what I had imagined a year ago. We are here. We are really here, building a life and a family and a home. We made it.

We have learned oh so much this year. We learned about plumbing, so much about plumbing. We learned that living without a dishwasher is not the biggest hardship – it’s living without central air. I learned to just buy curtains. There’s not always time to make them, and they make a world of difference. We learned that when you have wonky plumbing, you should always check the basement. Always, always, always check the basement. We learned just how expensive it is to not check the basement. Seriously, guys. Just go down there. Steven learned the joys of tree removal. So much tree removal. We learned that a wooden spoon is infinitely easier and more effective at keeping Bonnie out of the kitchen cabinets than any child proofing mechanism on the market. We learned to eat meals together with Bonnie and to pray together and to honor bedtime. We learned to sleep train. (God bless sleep training). We learned about Bonnie, about each other, about working hard and communicating and persevering in prayer. We learned to be patient. Patient with each other, with Bonnie, with ourselves, with God.

Bonnie learned so many things in this wonderful house. She learned to sit up, to eat solid food, to scoot, and then crawl, and then walk, and then run. She learned to dance and blow her nose and ask for milk and drink from a cup.  She learned the hokey pokey and the itsy bitsy spider and ring around the rosy. She learned to climb and blow kisses and wrap us around her finger even more.

Bonnie made the website after her second visit to daily mass. St. Dominic's is the best.
Bonnie made the website after her second visit to daily mass. St. Dominic’s is the best.
Helping Dad with the weeding. I have no idea how many hours Steven spent working on the Pinecrest yard this year, but I'm guessing it's somewhere in the triple digits.
Helping Dad with the weeding. I have no idea how many hours Steven spent working on the Pinecrest yard this year, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the triple digits.
The day we realized we needed to lower the crib mattress. STAT.
The day we realized we needed to lower the crib mattress. STAT.

2017 will bring even more change. We’ll meet this new baby (boy or girl? I still say boy). We’re house shopping. Maybe we’ll be house buying and moving again and starting all over, with (fingers crossed!) fewer plumbing problems. There might be more job changes, because, with us, there always seem to be job changes. Bonnie will turn 2, become a big sister, change more in every minute than we do all year. She will give us sweet hugs and sloppy kisses and wipe her nose on my shirt and fill my heart with more peace and joy than I could ever have imagined. And there will be another one! A brand new human to love immeasurably, to be changed and saved by. We will be sleep deprived. We will be overwhelmed. Just when we feel like we’re surely drowning in diapers and spit-up and fear and worry and sticky, needy, jam hands, we will be buoyed by love, so much love.

Bonnie has always soothed herself in the same way - one thumb in her mouth, one hand in my shirt.
Bonnie has always soothed herself in the same way – one thumb in her mouth, one hand in my shirt.

May God bless you in your own unpredictable life in 2017. However you can, fill it with babies. They save us in so many ways.

 

PS – You might have noticed that I’m not regularly updating this blog. I switched to a weekly email format in September that has been working MUCH better. If you’d like to get weekly updates on the Miller family and pictures of Bonnie and Fievel, send me your email and I’ll add you to the list!

 

 

OKC Kids

Last weekend we took advantage of the sweet GCCC summer hours and went to OKC for some best friend baby time. So hard to believe these cuties are already a year old!

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Eli!
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Sweet Wade

It’s been so fun to watch them grow and change and learn to play with each other. This time around, Eli and Bonnie would fight over toys together and try to push each other over and just generally try to out-alpha the other one. Meanwhile, Wade would hang back and watch the fighting, perfectly content to play with all the other abandoned toys.

Bonnie grows so much after spending a weekend with the boys. When we saw them last, they were all learning how to crawl. Bonnie went from rolling around occasionally to scooting all over the place. This time the kiddos were working on walking, and as soon as we came home, Bonnie stood up on her own for the first time and has turned everything in the house into a walker.

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Bonnie is obsessed with doors right now and the kids spent all weekend ignoring the other 99 toys and fighting over this gate instead. You crazy, babies.
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Bonnie loved playing (stealing) the boys’ walker toys.

The boys got a water table for their birthday, so we decided to let the kiddos splash around in the front yard instead of braving the pool crowds. Luckily, they didn’t seem to mind.

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Water table kids
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Action shot

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Wade getting watered
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Eli didn’t like it as much
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Bonnie was a fan

We finished up Saturday with dinner at Pops, which is just the most perfect restaurant for us in the world. Steven’s off caffeine and neither of us drink, so we’re always looking for fun new sodas or juices to try when we travel. Weird but true. We used to always stock up on our favorites at Trader Joe’s when Beau and Hailey lived in St. Louis, and we’ve definitely been missing that since they moved to OKC. So when we walked into Pops and realized that they had an entire section devoted to Fizzy Fruit, we knew we had found our place. Oh, and the food was good too.

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Dinner at Pops!

 

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Fun with Dad

For the most part, the kiddos were well behaved and didn’t punish their parents too much for staying up late chatting and giggling. It’s so much fun to reach all these parenting milestones right alongside Hailey. It’s even better to realize that somehow, we’ve already both survived the first year. It just gets easier from here, right? 🙂

Summer in the Garden

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.

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She’s getting so expressive now. Lately when she finds something funny, she’ll throw her head back and cackle. Do we do that? Where did she learn that?!?

 

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She’s also super into climbing. Climbing in and out of the Bumbo, on the folded up stroller, under the exersaucer, in and out of the rocker – whatever she can find.

 

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Demonstrating the ladylike way to sit in a car seat.
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Playgroup in the park!
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.
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Learning to splash.
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Cautiously crawling.
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Taking a quick break with mom.

 

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.
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These two give each other really sweet hugs – in between hitting/clawing/kicking/taking toys from each other. Cousin love.
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Sweet Katie bug.
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Jimmy requested a picture of his cat instead of his face.
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?
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My precious.
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Even with the AC, there are a lot of sweaty heads around here. This was after the 3 minute drive from Poppa’s to our house. Luckily she doesn’t seem to mind, and it brings out her natural curl beautifully.
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.
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Father’s Day photo with the besties.
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.

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“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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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It hurts so much because it was so good for so long. So today, may I focus on the good.