Bucket List Item #6: Go Tent Camping
We live in such a naturally diverse and beautiful part of the country, I am a little embarrassed that this is only my third time camping since living in Idaho for the past 6 years. Idaho has so much beautiful mountain land, we could easily find new camping spots here for the rest of our lives, depending on how adventurous we are! For this trip, we chose a camping site that was a little less remote because we would be tenting it with a four-month old baby and I still appreciate the modern convenience of an actual toilet 😁
Two weeks before Father’s Day, we confirmed with my parents that we would do a tent camping trip to celebrate Father’s Day weekend. It would be my husband’s first Father’s Day since becoming a dad, and he and my dad both enjoy fishing and the mountains. My mom and I wanted to reserve an actual campsite, as opposed to driving through the Idaho wilderness looking for a remote spot to call home. Idaho is getting so crowded with new residents since the pandemic started, so hidden gems aren’t so hidden anymore and it seems like a competition to snag a great camping spot without a reservation.
I scored the last remaining camp site along Lake Cascade, a fifteen mile-long lake two hours north of Boise. We assumed since it was the single remaining spot, it must be the least desirable….right next to a dumpster or something. But we were determined to make the most of our three day/two night excursion no matter what! You can imagine how pleasantly surprised we were when we pulled up to the waterfront corner lot gorgeous space with plenty of room for Zeb to dock his fishing boat on. We learned that our fellow campers reserved their sites 9 months in advanced because that’s how fast this campsite books up. It turned out that I had make the luckiest timing, booking someone else’s last minute cancellation of this prized spot!
I reviewed my camping packing list the entire week before we left. You would be surprised how much gear you need to pack along to care for an infant in the outdoors! We woke up at 7am on Friday morning and spent all of Brynnley’s nap time packing the truck. While I packed the last minute perishables into the cooler, Zeb made one last run for ice, firewood, and sandwiches for us for the road. His truck was packed to the brim with all of our supplies, so as soon as Brynnley was fed and changed around 11am we hit the road. We stopped for gas for the truck and boat – $120 gone in 5 minutes!
Brynnley slept the majority of the 2 hour drive; we had to stop about 15 miles from camp so that I could feed and change her in the truck. When we arrived at our campsite, it was a little tricky to juggle occupying a four month old baby while trying to help Zeb set up the tarp, tent, shade cover, and cooking station. Brynnley needs lots of attention, feeding, and help getting to sleep which took up most of my afternoon while Zeb put his boat in the water and started fishing.
For dinner the first night, we kept it easy with campfire hot dogs, cherries and storebought potato salad. We also used the Dutch oven to cook popcorn kernels over the fire pit, and it actually worked! The sun doesn’t set here until about 10pm this time of year, so I let Brynnley stay up past her actual bedtime to enjoy some camping cuddles next to the fire while I read a little bit of my book and enjoyed a couple of White Claws. I primarily breastfeed her, but I brought my battery-powered breast pump to supply her some extra bottles while we enjoyed a few evening beverages :)
Our tent is super spacious, roomie enough for 6 people. There was plenty of space inside for our full air mattress, plus the pack n’ play and all of our bags. I bought a blackout cover for the pack n’ play since I knew Brynnley would have a hard time sleeping in the full sunlight. It was fantastic! She slept even better than she does at home. I laid her down when we went to bed around 10pm, and she slept straight through to 7am. I woke up many times throughout the night to check on her and make sure she was warm enough, but she was just fine. My mom had also bought us some baby-friendly mosquito repellent stickers that we used to combat any potential bug bites and they seemed to work great.
We woke up around 7am Saturday morning FREEZING because we didn’t have a sleeping bag, just a couple of blankets on our air mattress. I immediately texted my parents who were getting ready to head up and meet us from Boise, and asked them to bring us a couple more blankets for the next night. Thankfully with her fleece jammies and sleep sack, Brynnley was plenty snug and warm. I fed her in our tent while Zeb made us a morning fire and brewed coffee in the percolator. DELICIOUS! Coffee tastes better out of a cute tin mug in the mountains next to lake water at sunrise :)
We also experimented with another Dutch oven concoction that will now become a STAPLE in our camp cooking repertoire. Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake! The texture was unbelievably perfect for whipping up without a kitchen and cooking over a fire. My parents had gotten my husband Zeb a campfire Dutch oven and corresponding cookbook for Christmas a couple of years ago, so the recipe came from that cookbook. I put together the dry base at home before we left our house – some flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and dried milk powder. Once we got to the campground, we diced a green apple and butter, which was mixed with brown sugar and some of the flour mixture for a crumb topping.
As the coffee cake sat on our morning campfire, my parents arrived! They set up their tent and air mattress for their FIRST camping trip in Idaho since moving here six years ago. My mom was pleasantly surprised by not only our great campsite but also the proximity to actual restrooms. We aren’t pee-in-the-bushes type of people ;)
After we all enjoyed our breakfast cake and coffee, Zeb took my dad out onto Lake Cascade for some fishing. My mom hung at camp with Brynnley and I. We put her in her stroller and walked the campground with only one minor hiccup when we got her stroller tire stuck in a cattle guard, prompting a concerned passerby to hop out of his truck to offer help lifting her out of the grate :D
The boys returned sans fish, but ready for lunches. My mom had premade us all meat and cheese sandwiches which we ate with some fruit and sun chips. Right next to our campground is a beautiful ski resort called Tamarack Resort that has been under construction since we moved here. We decided to pop over to explore the new grounds and grab a drink. It’s a popular spot for mountain bikers this time of year!
When we returned to camp, Brynnley hung out with my mom and dad while Zeb took me out on the boat. We both fished the entire time but also came up empty handed. There were hardly any other boaters on the water though, and with the 360 degree view of pine tree forest and water, it was a gorgeous and relaxing ride.
Our family campfire dinner was “hobo packs” – foil packs with delicious potatoes, yams, bell peppers, zucchini, onions and mushrooms with chicken sausages and delicious seasoning. We set them on hot coals and it smelled HEAVENLY. We played a game of Uno on the picnic table while munching on some pretzels and sipping white claws.
Zeb wanted to impress my parents with his popcorn popping skills, but that didn’t stop us from also indulging in smores. You can’t NOT make smores when we go on our very first family camping trip!
Brynnley fell asleep in my arms at the campfire, so we kept her up with us until about 10pm when we all headed to bed. The second night in our tent was considerably warmer than the first, and we all slept straight through to 7am – baby included. We nursed in our tent again while Zeb started the morning fire and brewed coffee. I think this morning time with coffee and morning sunlight is my favorite part of camping. I really enjoy that taste of coffee in a fun camping mug right next to the lake water while everyone is still in their comfy clothes, baby is still in her fleece jammies, and the whole campgroung is quiet with that hint of bacon in the air. :)
This Sunday morning was also Father’s Day! So while we all needed to tear down our tents and pack back up – it seemed like we JUST got here! – we also got to celebrate my dad and Zeb with a brunch and some gifts and cards.
Overall, tent camping at Lake Cascade was such a great experience and confidence-builder for more future camping trips with our baby! All of the things I was so worried about, like her getting a mosquito bite, being too cold, crying at night and waking up fellow campers……none of them came true! I am looking forward to more family camping trips in the future, though I don’t know we’ll get quite so lucky with the perfect camping site on such last minute notice again. :)
Bucket List Item #4: Play 18 Holes of Disc Golf
The first rule of disc golf: do NOT call them “frisbees.”
I added this item to my “30 Things To Do Before Turning 30” bucket list because we have tons of disc golf courses around us in Idaho and it’s such an easy sport to pick up and play with a group at a park. We have a course right next to our house that I’ve never been to, and I wanted to motivate myself to go!
Last Saturday morning, we loaded up the baby in her stroller and poured two commuter mugs of coffee. We met my parents at a local park, and it was gray and dreary out. My dad let us borrow sets of discs from him: if you aren’t familiar, there are specific driver, mid-range, and putter discs just like golf clubs.
There is a concrete slab to “tee off” on each hole. They also have pars just like regular golf. We used a disc golf score-keeping app to keep track as we went. I didn’t have high hopes for myself, since my athletic abilities don’t go far beyond long-distance running.
Since the course was only 9 holes and my bucket list specifically called for 18, we played the whole course twice. It took us two hours and Brynnley was so cooperative, sleeping in her covered stroller the entire time.
My disc didn’t seem to travel too far each throw, so it took me closer to 6 or 7 throws compared to the par 3. I would try to get my disc as close to the basket as possible, only to have it cover 20 or so feet, walk over to it and throw it another 20 feet in front of myself until we made it to the basket. I told my dad, “I feel like I’m just playing fetch with myself!”
And only one of us got our disc stuck in a tree….
We tallied our scores after the first nine holes, and aimed to beat our own scores again on the second time around. My scores were less than impressive, to say the least. I scored 23 over par the first round and 26 over par the second round. We kept the sets of discs from my dad to take home and practice at the course next to our house when the weather is nice! Its such a nice easy sport to play casually any time, I want to keep practicing and hopefully getting my drives to cover a little more ground.
The rest of the afternoon was rainy and gloomy, so we came home and made soup for lunch while starting another bucket list item – watching the first Harry Potter movie. I feel like that series is just more enjoyable on a dark rainy day. :)
Bucket List Item #1: Give Birth
February 23, 2022
Can you believe I started with the absolute biggest and most life-changing task on this list? Since each subsequent blog post will be narrating the details of the specific tasks on the list in the order that I cross them off, here is my “birth story” and the first major event I accomplished before turning 30…
(P.S. If you are a bit confused, please go back and read this series’ introduction post: 30 Things To Do Before I Turn 30.)
Just 11 days after my 29th birthday and after finalizing the “30 Things To Do Before Turning 30” list, my water broke and kick-started labor of my first baby. To be fair, I was nine months pregnant when I made the list and this particular item had pretty good odds of being my inaugural check mark. ;)
We found out we were expecting our first child the week after we got home from our honeymoon. Our due date was March 4th, 2022. We opted for the early genetic testing to find out if we would be having a son or a daughter at just 12 weeks. It’s a girl! I immediately went shopping that day for something cute and girlie to hang in her closet. Over the next several months, we turned one of our guest rooms into a nursery, read up on pregnancy books, ordered all the baby gear and supplies, attended baby care and birth courses, and enjoyed our newlywed stage before becoming a family of three.
I could easily jot down every last pregnancy and birth detail, but this would quickly turn into a short novella so I’ll skip right to the action and try to be concise! Throughout the third trimester of my pregnancy, I of course speculated when our baby would actually make her debut. Statistically speaking, first babies often pass their due date. However the date 2-22-2022 just sounded like such a fun birthday, and I secretly did hope she would arrive 10 days early for this numerically-impressive birth date.
Leading up to my due date, I tried a handful of old wives’ tales to help progress labor – I ate 3 medjool dates every day, drank 2 glasses of red raspberry leaf tea, walked at least 10,000 steps, and enjoyed fresh pineapple for dessert. I’d say they all carried some validity because on the night of Tuesday, 2-22-2022, with absolutely no other signs of labor, my water broke while I was at home at 10:30pm! Zeb happened to be home (my husband is a pilot, and if you don’t already know about aviation crew schedules, this was a miracle. I will blog more about this lifestyle and schedule in the future.) I called the hospital, letting them know I suspected my water had broken and they told us to come in and get checked out.
We put my hospital bags in the car and arrived at our hospital at 11:00pm. We headed up to Labor and Delivery and they walked us into a triage room where they hooked my belly up to two monitors to measure any contractions (which I hadn’t felt at all) and the baby’s heartbeat. I WAS IN LABOR! Not very far along though. My cervical check revealed that I was only 1 centimeter dilated. We would be admitted and taken to our own room until the baby was born! OMG I cannot believe it’s here and happening, the moment I have obsessed over and dreamed about for 9 months!
Our birthing suite was so spacious. We weren’t able to do a hospital tour beforehand due to the Covid-19 guidelines, so we didn’t know what to expect. The room was large with a couch/bed for Zeb and recliner, a bathroom with a giant tub, and the empty little bassinet that our daughter would be lying in soon. I still didn’t feel any contractions, but the monitor was showing that they were happening, although sporadically. By this point, we still hadn’t told my parents or anyone where we were. We knew based on lack of pain and contractions that it would be hours before anything exciting started to happen. Once I finally got into my hospital gown around 3am, we decided to FaceTime my parents and let them know that their granddaughter was on her way.
They were so surprised to wake up to a call from me in a hospital room. I told my mom that she could go back to sleep afterwards, we wouldn’t need her there for many more hours. Of course she couldn’t go back to sleep so she got up a showered and got herself ready but she didn’t come join us until 9am. Zeb tried to sleep some on the couch but I was much too excited for the day to come. It was past midnight so it was no longer 2-22-2022 but it was going to be my DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY <3
The monitors showed that I was having contractions, though they were virtually painless. I honestly don’t even remember what those early contractions felt like. At 6am, the nurse checked my dilation and said I had progressed to 4 centimeters which was great news considering everything had been painless up until this point. The nursing staff said I could continue eating up until I decided to get an epidural. Since it had been over 12 hours since my dinner, we ordered room service breakfast. I ate pineapple and blueberries and some coffee but was too anxious to eat anything else.
At 10:30am, I had officially been in labor for 12 hours. Because my amniotic sac was ruptured, it was important that the baby be delivered by 10:30pm because of the risk of infection. My doctor visited and said she was not seeing my body progress like she wanted to and I would need to do some proactive measures to kick start more intense contractions, otherwise we would need to use my IV to administer Pitocin. I wanted to try to avoid the medicine so I requested to do some position changes and squats/step-ups for 3 hours and then reevaluate. We did the “Miles Circuit” twice. It includes a hands and elbows position for 30 minutes which is tough because the blood rushes to my head. Then I move into a side lying position for 30 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of activity which I did squats and stair step ups. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then repeated the whole thing again.
Honestly at this point, my contractions had nearly stopped. I had stopped feeling them and agreed that we needed to do something that would keep labor going because I wanted to avoid going into a c-section if we ran out of time. To kill time, my mom and Zeb grabbed lunch together in the hospital cafeteria and played some cards together. We couldn’t find anything on TV to watch and no one felt like reading their books. We just wanted to get this delivery going and meet our baby girl!
At 3:15pm, the nurse hooked my IV up to the synthetic oxytocin and said she would start out at the lowest possible dose and continue to increase it every 15 minutes. She said to get ready; contractions with Pitocin were 10-20 times stronger than natural contractions. I felt ready because so far it hadn’t been a struggle at all. The baby’s heart rate had looked strong the whole day and my amniotic fluid was still clear which were all great signs that the baby was not in distress.
The contractions were definitely noticeable by 3:45. I felt them in my hip/groin area and I described them like Charlie horses in your hips. At 4pm, I asked Zeb to use my contraction tracker app to time them and figure out when I should request my epidural. I wanted to get through some contractions without the epidural because I was told it could slow things down again. But I also was told that it could be a full hour between the time I requested the epidural and the time it started to take effect so I shouldn’t wait until I was in excruciating pain. At 4:00pm, the contractions were occurring every 2 minutes and 30 seconds, lasting for 45 seconds each. They were like clockwork. They hurt so bad and I tried to find the best position to get through them. I tried first laying in bed and gripping the side rails and that worked a while. I tried standing over the bed and that was not comfortable. The position that worked the best was kneeling on the ground over a birthing ball while my mom and the nurse stroked my back and Zeb counted down the timer for me. At 4:30, it was too much and I was moaning loudly in pain through each one, trying to blow out and focus on my inhales and exhales to get through each 45 second interval. I tried to come up with something positive each time to think about and distract me from the painful feeling. I tried thinking of shopping in Target with a Starbucks coffee. I tried thinking about being at the Sandals Grenada beach and pool. I tried thinking about feeling athletic again after I gave birth and was working out again. I tried thinking about a spring day at the Sunny Slope wineries. I thought about what it would be like to meet and hold my baby girl. None of these thoughts brought me relief.
I asked for the epidural at 4:30, but was told I needed to finish a full saline bag through my IV first which took another 30 minutes. I was moaning in intense pain, gripping Zeb and squeezing my eyes shut. I knew this was getting me closer to my daughter. I was a little nervous about the epidural and hated having to sit through the potential side effects and complications because I already made my mind up to get it. I could not imagine going through the entire pushing process with even more pain than I was experiencing already.
The anesthesiologist came into my room at 5pm and had me sit up on the side of the bed. My mom had to leave the room. Zeb stood in front of me, and I draped my arms up over his shoulders. When I contraction came, I squeezed him like I was giving him a shoulder massage. It was difficult to sit up and sit still in that position for the anesthesiologist when I was having contractions every 2 minutes. The first pokes were the numbing medication and they made me jolt upright. It felt strange when the epidural process started because it mostly felt like deep pressure in my low back but it wasn’t super painful. The contractions were way worse. I felt him tape up the catheter to my back, and he said that it would take about 20 minutes for the medication to start to work. I laid back down in bed and waited but I honestly felt like the relief came much sooner. My next few contractions were painful but not as bad as they had been. Within 20 minutes, I was laying on my back without pain. My mom came back in the room and we waited for progress. I spent another 30 minutes lying on my left side without any pain or feeling of contractions at all. This was a very sweet break. The nurse had me turn over to my right side. Soon, I started to feel some pain with each contraction again. I could definitely tell when I was having a contraction by a building pressure. I let the nurse know, and she checked my dilation. I was at 7 centimeters.
The pressure which each contraction increased and before long I was moaning through each one again. Zeb stood next to my bed and I gripped him through each one. I told the nurse I was feeling extreme pressure and wanted to be checked by the doctor. But Dr. Kasper was rounding on all the patients at 7:30 and would come to see me after. I was sure I was ready to push because I was moaning and breathing heavily through every contraction and the intense amount of pressure never eased up.
The doctor didn’t come in until 8:45, but confirmed I was at 10 centimeters dilated and we could get ready to push. The nurses came in and got the room ready for delivery. Then we started some practice pushes around 9:20. Zeb stood next to me and my mom stood behind me. Zeb was my counter. In the beginning with the nurse, the pushes were hard but not terrible. At 9:50, Dr. Kasper came in and I asked for an increase in my epidural dose because I was feeling everything. Dr. Kasper used hot compresses, oil and massage. The pushes were still much harder than I expected with an epidural. Even after I finished a set of pushes and was waiting for the next contraction, my whole pelvis felt insane pressure and I was moaning and yelling “Ow” throughout the whole delivery process. My mom and Zeb had found a spotify playlist that was ‘Labor and Delivery’ themed, so Zeb was in charge of changing songs and bringing sips of water and putting a cool wet wash cloth on my head and neck. He was a great and present support partner through the whole day. He was attentive and cheered me on. I was also glad to have my mom there, telling me how great I was doing and making me feel soothed through the pain, nausea and nervousness. She had my camera and got what shots she could since we were told we were not allowed to film during the actual birth.
At 10:35, the doctor told me not to stop pushing, to keep going until she was out. I didn’t stop yelling “ow ow ow oh my god ow” the whole time. Then she was coming towards me and being placed on my chest. I continued to moan in pain, shake, and also cry happy tears that my tiny baby was here and breathing on my chest. They rubbed her down and she didn’t seem in any hurry to cry or clear her lungs. She let out some coughs and seemed generally content while the doctors scrubbed her down.
I was so relieved to have a healthy baby girl here with us. We got great skin-to-skin time immediately, delaying her weight check for about an hour. Zeb also got skin-to-skin time while her eyes were open and she actively looked around. We couldn’t believe how much hair she had and that it was brown. We thought she would either be bald or have blonde peach fuzz. Where did this little head of hair come from?!
Her name is Brynnley :) She was 7lb 11oz.
My mom got to hold her as well, before she headed home around midnight. Even though I was so excited to meet and hold her, I was also extremely tired from being awake 36 hours and so much labor. I wanted sleep but Brynnley was wide awake. Not fussy, just alert. We finally got her swaddled in her own bassinet between Zeb and I around 2am. She woke to feed and get some vitals from the nurses around 3:30am. I changed her diaper for the first time, just pee. We got woken up for more vital signs at 5:30am. She wasn’t hungry but she did sleep on my chest for an hour while Zeb was fast asleep. At 6:30am, I felt to tired to continue holding her so I woke Zeb up and passed her off.
It has been 19 days now since we brought our sweet little babe home and our worlds have been changed forever. I can’t wait to continue chronicling our new life as a family of three throughout this “30 Before 30” series. :)