family, Uncategorized, writing

When Yes Isn’t Enough


This weekend, the woman that introduced me to Outdoor Guy asked me “So do you feel like you have a strong marriage?  Everything is good?”

Without hesitation, I answered “Yes.”

While this friend and I were once quite close, life and jobs have moved us in different directions.  The weekend was a great opportunity to touch base with one another, and I think she just really wanted to know in her heart I was doing well.

“Yes,” I answered again with a bit more urgency.  “We’re great.”

Today, as I sit here on our eighth wedding anniversary, my “yes” just doesn’t seem adequate enough of an answer.  It doesn’t capture the depth of my feelings for and about the amazing man I married.  The man that keeps me grounded and lets me soar.  The man that wipes my tears and kicks me in the butt.  The man that lifts me up and brings my head out of the clouds.

In many ways, it feels like we’ve been married longer than just eight years.  We’ve endured the birth of our child, the death of my father, the loss of two pregnancies and the death of two beloved dogs.  We’ve survived three moves and two career changes.

Some of the ladies were ribbing me about sneaking out of camp to call Outdoor Guy and check in.  But that’s what makes us who we are.  I don’t call him out of any sense of obligation or because we need to keep tabs on each other.  I genuinely want to talk to him, to hear his voice, to know how his day went.  And he wants to know how things are going for me, too.

We love each other.  We respect each other.  We value the strengths and support the weaknesses of each other.  We are a team.

I’ve over-thought and second-guessed many decisions in my life.  But never him.  Never us.  I didn’t hesitate to say yes eight years ago in our vows and I won’t hesitate to say yes when someone asks me if my marriage is still going strong.  Yes.  Yes.  A thousand times, yes.


family, wildlife, Wyoming

It’s Not About the Catch

Burrowing Owl-1DRW

Wyokiddo, Outdoor Guy and I got up a little early this morning to head down to our local reservoir for some fishing.  We got skunked.

On our walk back to the car, we saw some tiny little lizards darting across the path on the dam.  They were about the size of Outdoor Guy’s index finger and lightning fast.  We were also treated to the antics of some fat, lazy prairie dogs and a burrowing owl sighting on our way home.

“Sorry we didn’t catch any fish,” I told Wyokiddo as we put our stuff away in the house.

“Are you kidding?”  She asked me.  “We saw lizzards and owls.  this was the best fishing trip ever!”

I love that even at five, she’s starting to realize our mornings on the water isn’t about how many fish we catch, but about what we experience along the way together as a family.


family, Uncategorized, writing

What’s In a Name

Zoo Trip-1-2.JPG

To all the little kids in Wyokiddo’s preschool, my name is Emily’s Mom.

“Hi Emily’s mom!”

“Emily’s Mom, come sit by me!”

“Mrs. Emily’s Mom, can you help me with  my juice box?”

It’s music to my ears.

When I resigned from my professional position to marry Outdoor Guy, several of my colleagues didn’t hold back in criticizing my decision.  They said I was wasting my education.  I was crazy to walk away from such a successful career.  I could have it all.

They couldn’t understand that their goals for me weren’t my goals for me.

As much as I loved my job and was good at it, I knew in my heart I wanted a different future.  One where my title wasn’t assistant division chief but wife and mom.

One amazingly supportive husband, two miscarriages, four solid months of throwing up and 8 years later, I’m both.

So call me Mrs. Milner, call me Emily’s Mom, either way, I am blessed.


nature, Uncategorized, Wyoming

Girls Who Fish

First Fishing Trip.jpg

It’s spring break and Wyokiddo and I are out playing while Outdoor Guy tends to the birds.  Today, she requested we go fishing, so mid-morning we loaded up her Mickey Mouse fishing pole and some worms and we headed out.

The fishing was slow, so Wyokiddo had time to ponder the esoteric.

“Mama, why are there only boys out here?”

I set down my rod and contemplated how to answer her question.  Occasionally we’d see a woman fishing in a boat with her husband.  But by and large, anytime we were out in the field, it was men, or boys with their dads.  Very few little girls, and never just a mom and her daughter.

“Well, some girls haven’t ever had anyone take them fishing,” I tried to explain.  “They might live in a city where there isn’t any place to fish, or no one has ever shown them how.   And some girls don’t want to fish.  They think it’s boring or dirty or gross, or that it’s something only boys should do.  They don’t know how much fun it can be!”

Wyokiddo was quiet after that, dividing her attention between her bobber in the water and the ladybug crawling up her arm.

Several minutes later, she looked up at me and squinted against the late morning sun.

“Mama, let’s always be the kind of girls who fish.”

From her lips to God’s ears.  No matter where life takes this beautiful little soul, may she always be one of the girls who fish.


family, Uncategorized, writing, Wyoming

The Mother of Invention

We’ve got a house full of new toys Wyokiddo received for Christmas.  But for almost two hours tonight, she entertained herself with a box, straws, tape, beads, feathers and pipe cleaners.  Lots and lots of pipe cleaners.

She was creating an “invention.”  I’m not clear on what the invention will do once it is finished.  I don’t know that she cares.  Wyokiddo was all about the process, attacking the placement of each hole, each bit of straw, with a great deal of concentration and seriousness.

Wyokiddo is too young for New Year’s Resolutions.  But I think I’ll take my cue from her and work to find joy and purpose in the little things that surround me.




photography, rural life, writing

Writing Down My Soul

The following is my first post as a participant of Blogging 101.  My assignment was to “Introduce Yourself to the World,” and share why I’m here in the blogosphere.  So why do I blog?

Sunset Landscape

Wyoming is both a friendly and incredibly lonely place.  Her towns and cities are filled with kind, caring, wonderful people who will give you the shirts off their backs.  But those places are widespread and far flung.  In between are some remote places, lonely stretches and beautiful sites.

That’s a pretty good analogy to my life.  My husband is a wildlife biologist by trade, raising wildlife for a living.   His career has taken us to some beautiful, if remote, places.  I have amazing days filled with friends, family and laughter.  But sometimes, those days are spread out and I’m left with a lot of quiet, lonely afternoons with nothing to do but laundry while my little one sleeps.  So I blog.

I blog to share funny stories, ideas and experiences with family and friends.  I blog as a way to showcase my developing interest in photography.  And I blog to educate and advocate about the things I am most passionate about – Wyoming, wildlife, agriculture and life in rural America.

But mostly I blog because writing is, and always has been, part of what makes my soul whole.  I wrote my first published story in first grade (Three Cheetahs and a Tiger won a local Young Authors Award :-)).  In 3rd grade, I started journaling.  In college, I found a major that let me write about my passion for agriculture.  I have never really NOT been a writer.  Journals, fiction, non-fiction, essays, technical pieces, news releases, ghost writing, news articles…it doesn’t matter what format, I’m at my best, my happiest,  when I’m writing.

By contrast, photography is something I just recently fell in love with.  I love the challenge of capturing photos that speak to me while being technically correct.  And sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words, and a good photo tells a story in ways that my writing never could.

These days, my time is precious.  I am a stay-at-home  mom to my dynamic daughter, Wyokiddo; a full-time wife to the ever-supportive Outdoor Guy; caretaker of our home at the Downar Bird Farm; unofficial photographer of 18,000 pheasants;  and part-time public relations and social media coordinator for the Wyoming FFA.  The time may not be there to write, but the need never goes away.

So for me, blogging is a way to satisfy my urge to write and provides a creative outlet.  I still journal privately when I need to sort through emotions.  But I blog to record, in written word and amateur photo, all the small moments that make up my rich and blessed life.

If someone reads what I write on this blog and laughs, or cries, or is inspired, that would be wonderful.  If they see my photo and fall in love with Wyoming, that’s great.  If I can persuade people to look at wildlife management or American agriculture differently, that would make me happy.  But at heart, I blog for entirely selfish reasons.

Photography makes my heart happy and writing sets my soul free.