family, nature, photography, Uncategorized

Beauty and the Beast

Emily and the Toad.jpg

Is toad lovin’ carried in DNA somewhere?  I think Wyokiddo is as big a fan as I am!


family, photography, Uncategorized

Still Learning

When it comes to photography, I think Michelangelo summed it up best for me.

“I am still learning,” he said at the ripe old age of 87.

Last week, I did a family photo shoot with my nephews and former sister-in-law.  I am more than pleased with how they turned out, but looking at them in post-processing, there are things I know I could do differently next time.  I can definitely improve my posing, I need to watch my background (hello, ugly fuse box!) and a dozen other things need tweaked during the shoot.

But I can also see how much my skills have grown in just the last year, and that is heartening.  Books, websites, other photographers, photography forums and simply picking up my camera and shooting every day have all helped me grow as a photographer. No doubt a year from now, I’ll be saying the same thing…I’ve gotten better, but I am still learning.  And that, after all, is a pretty good metaphor for life.


P.S.  Lock up your daughters, folks.  These boys killed it in their session!  Of course, I might be a little biased, but I think they are pretty dang handsome!  Love these kids!



family, Uncategorized, writing

For Wyokiddo, on her 4th birthday

Family -21eDear Emily,

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  How can you be turning 4?  It doesn’t seem like 4 years have passed since we welcomed you into our lives.  But here you are, growing in size and sass each and every day.

This year, you finally understood the concept of a birthday.  You knew you would turn 4, that we’d have a party and that you’d get presents.  You were so excited for this birthday, you told everyone you met about it, including that Mama is going to make you a Paw Patrol cake.

This is just one of many things you’ve learned since the last birthday.  You are like a little sponge, soaking up anything and everything about the world around you.  You are fascinated with animals, domestic and wild.  Your favorite activity the last few weeks has been to go visit the chicks in their brooder houses.  You will sit down in the sawdust with them and let them climb all over you.  You giggle when they try to crawl in your boot.  You scold them when they peck at one another.  You cheer when they begin learning to fly and mourn the loss of the ones that don’t make it.  You would sit with your chicks for hours in those sweltering barns if I would let you.

You’re also learning about wildlife and wild birds.  You can spot deer and antelope hiding on the side of the road before I can.  I love that you can identify the birds that come visit our feeder, or that you can identify a killdeer just by hearing its call.  It tells me that you are paying attention to the little details in life, and that you understand there is a world beyond a television or iPod.

You’ve also become a great fishing buddy.  As the weekend approaches, you will ask if we can go fishing on Daddy’s day off.  You trudge behind us, eagerly carrying your Mickey Mouse fishing pole or the worm box.  It doesn’t matter that you haven’t caught a fish – you just like seeing anything come out of the water.  After I caught some crappie on our second trip out, you must have given me a million high fives.  “Way to go catching that fish Mama!”  When you get bored, we pass the time letting the water splash on our feet, watch the silly grebes or make us stories about the fish we’ll see in faraway places.  I love these moments as much as I love actually fishing, because it’s just the three of us, our little family sharing something we love without distraction.

The last year has been full of big changes.  Moving to a new place, a new room, giving up the binky, starting preschool, getting a big girl bed.  You have handled each with grace and courage.  I continue to be amazed at your fearlessness and confidence.  You aren’t reckless, but you aren’t timid either.  When you started preschool last fall, you weren’t scared.  You threw open the door, marched right down the hall and said “Schoool, here I come!”  In the pool, you are teaching all the boys how to jump in without having someone there to catch you.  And you are not afraid to start a conversation with a grownup, whether it’s the bagger at the grocery store or the lady checking out our books in the library.

You aren’t a baby anymore.  You tell me this all the time, but it is evident in your appearance and demeanor.  You are a preschooler who is ready to take life by the horns and wrestle it to the ground.  You are developing a wonderful sense of humor and a sense of compassion.

I would be remiss if I didn’t log some of your favorites at this particular moment in time, so here goes.  Your favorite TV shows right now are Shimmer and Shine, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West and Wild Kratts.  You requested a Paw Patrol cake for your birthday and still love all the pups.  You ask me to make homemade pizza at least once a week.  You love to eat frozen mangoes with breakfast.  You are packing around Baby, your first doll, with you wherever you go.  In fact, you plan to use some of the birthday money GG gave you to buy a stroller and bottle for Baby so that she’s never hungry.  You want to be in the water constantly, and can even swim on your own for a few seconds.  I am still your best friend, and Roxy dog is one of your favorite playmates.  Each day when you get up from your nap, you still squeal and run to him when you see Daddy.

I hope every birthday makes you as happy as this one had.  We celebrated with Grammie and Papa, Nana, Uncle Bill, Aunt Debbie and Ellen.  You were enamored with Ellen and had a great conversation about her nail polish, much to Daddy’s chagrin.  (She’s a great role model, by the way.  Please look up to her as you grow up!)  It didn’t matter that the cake I made was a little lopsided or that we had no decorations.  You were surrounded by your family and we celebrated with love.  You finally got that rainbow lights Barbie mermaid you’ve been coveting since Christmas, so I think that part was pretty cool, too.

While your boundless energy sometimes exhausts me, I am forever grateful to have such a sunny free-spirited daughter.  You make me take myself less seriously and keep us laughing with your silliness and exuberance.  May you always be so ebulient and joyful and pure of heart.

Never doubt how much Daddy and I love you at this stage and all the stages beyond.  We will forever be your biggest champions.

Happy birthday, Emmers.  I love you.


P.S.  Thanks to my dear friend of the Bronco Babies blog for giving me the idea of writing a letter to my daughter each year on her birthday.

country life, humor, Uncategorized, writing

Oh Lord, It’s (Not) Hard to be Humble

My dad used to sing me an old Mac Davis tune every now and again.

Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble
When you’re perfect in every way
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
‘Cause I get better lookin’ each day

To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble
But I’m doin’ the best that I can

Mac Davis never had a four-year old.

Last night, Wyokiddo and I were in the pheasant pens with Outdoor Guy.  We were helping him run the birds into their barns for the night.  Despite the blazing hot temperatures we’ve got going on here in southeastern Wyoming, it is still too cold for the youngest chicks to be left outside at night.  Our family’s after-dinner activity from May to early July is to “shoo the birds,” as Wyokiddo calls it.

Last night, I was paying more attention to someone coming down our drive than I was where I was putting my feet.  As I walked backward, I caught my foot on the edge of a covered drip pit and fell ass over teakettle, as Dad used to say.

I wasn’t hurt.  Much.  It was one of those times when I felt myself flailing, then falling, but couldn’t do much about it other than windmill my arms in the air uselessly.  I landed mostly on my ass, but my teakettle took a decent lick, too.  Wyokiddo saw the whole thing go down.

Her first question was about my health.  “Mama, are you okay?”

After assuring her I was, her next statement really took the wind out of my sails.

“You sure do fall slow.”

It is quite easy to be humble when you are a klutz and have a brutally honest preschooler around.


agriculture, country life, photography, Uncategorized

Leaving a Mark


Last month, Wyokiddo and I were invited to attend another branding, this time at the Smith Ranch.  The Smiths were some of the first friends we made here in our new home.  We were quickly invited for summer barbecues and holiday dinners.  They’ve become great friends and are definitely part of our Goshen County family.

This is my favorite photo from the branding.  I love the textures and the leading lines of the fence.  I’m working to download all the images I shot that day to a disc to give to their family.  I hope they love this photo of Mr. Waldon leaving a mark on his corral fence, because their family has certainly left a mark on my family’s heart.



agriculture, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife

Pure Heart

Hatch 4-45-2

In Response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure.

One of my daughter’s favorite activities in the spring is to visit the pheasant chicks her daddy raises.  She would sit in the barns with them for hours, despite the sweltering conditions, if only I would let her.

I love seeing the chicks, but I was more mesmerized by her interactions with them.  As soon as she sat down, the day-old chicks were checking out their new friend.  They would  hop on her and try to crawl in her boots.  They would even climb in her outstretched hand when she offered it.  Very gently, Wyokiddo would scoop up a tiny chick, hold it in her hands and whisper “I’m glad you made it!  Grow big little chick!” before releasing it back to the floor.  The innocence and pure love of those moments made my heart swell.

Soon the chicks will grow into adult pheasants and lose their cuteness.  And before I know it, my little girl will grow up as well.  My hope is that despite the toughness of this world, she will always keep her pure, sweet, beautiful heart.


nature, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife

Who Are You? Who? Who?

Debs Owls 2Yesterday, my neighbor messaged me about some young owls she spied hiding in the trees on her property.  As soon as Wyokiddo and I finished lunch, we headed down to the beautiful Delaney Bend Farm.  We were delighted to see the three juvenile owls perched around the tree, just as cute as can be.

One of the things I love about birding is that there are always new species to observe.  At first, I assumed this guy was a great-horned owl, because those are the most abundant owls around here.  But when I pulled up the photos on my computer, I realized he was lacking some distinct great-horned traits, like the colored facial disk.  Armed with my ever trusty National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America and Google, I began my investigation.

My best guess is that this is an Eastern Screech Owl.  I’ve never seen a screech owl before, so being able to cross this species off my bird list is pretty satisfying.  And while I’ve never seen a screech owl, I’ve definitely heard some before.  Their call is a distinct trill, almost like a melodic horse whinny.  On nights when I am having a hard time sleeping, I’ll come out to the couch and open the living room window to just enjoy the night sounds.  I’ve often heard their vibrating trills, but never knew which critter belonged to the noise.

There’s always something new to see if we just look up once in a while!


nature, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife

Ready to Launch

The Robin Brothers

Wyokiddo and I have been keeping an eye on a nest of robins near our house. I captured these photos just yesterday, and today the nest is empty. Gotta let them spread their wings and fly sometime!  We have had a great deal of fun watching them grow. My little one especially loved watching Mama and Daddy Robin arrive with worms.  Well done, Mrs. and Mr. Robin.  Well done.