family, Uncategorized, writing

To My Daughter on her Fifth Birthday

5th Birthday-1Dear Emily,

You turned five this week, as you happily told everyone we encountered the last few days.  You think turning five means you can run faster and reach taller things like your other five-year old friends.

We celebrated with a party with your Wee Pals friends, lunch with Daddy on the actual day, and a party with family a day late because of some crazy thunderstorms that hit Wyoming on your actual birthday.  What a lucky little girl you are to have so many people who love you and want to celebrate with you.  I made an Elena of Avalor cake, and the hit presents were an Elena of Avalor guitar and a Minnie Mouse watch.

You have grown so much in the last year.  You are definitely a big kid now, ready to tackle kindergarten in the fall and anything else that life might throw at you.  I love your sense of adventure and willingness to try new things.  School, soccer, ballet…you tried all of them with a zest and confidence I admire.  Today, you went off the diving board at swimming lessons and swam to the side.  You didn’t hesitate once.  Your fearlessness inspires me to step out of my own comfort zone and try new things with you.

Your friends are becoming more important to you.  At school, I was told you usually preferred to play with the boys.  You love to play chase and tag and monsters and bad guys.  You attended your first birthday parties this year.  You teachers described you as the kind of girl who is friends with and plays with everyone.  When your new friend Colby told you his horse died and he was sad, you came home and drew him a picture to help cheer him up.  I love that you are social and genuinely kind to everyone.

Our relationship is changing, too.  No longer do you accept everything I tell you as gospel.  You question me and test me.  Sometimes it infuriates me, but I also know that it means you are developing your own sense of self and independent thinking skills.  You are also developing your own opinion on everything.  It is hard to accept because I still want you to want and need me.  But you are growing up and that means sometimes we will disagree.

You are looking forward to kindergarten and being with your friends.  You’re sad that Colby, Brady and your other Wee Pals friends won’t be there with you.  You cried when we had to say goodbye to Mrs. Mareta, Mrs. Molly and Mr. Lance at the end of the school year.  But I know you will enjoy the coming years too.  You are very much like Daddy and I in that you love to learn and understand how things work.  You are reading simple books by yourself, adding small numbers and counting higher and higher each day.  This spring, you accurately explained to me what an eclipse was, even demonstrating it with your yogurt, cereal bowl and water glass at breakfast one morning.

You continue to be an animal lover and nature explorer.  We spent hours in the barns so you could see and hold the pheasant chicks.  You love to watch nature shows like Wild Kratts and Nature Cat and learn about animals.  At night, when we give you kisses and cuddles, you most often want to play the “Animal Game,”  where you describe an animal and we have to guess it.  You know where an animal lives, what it eats, what it looks like and other weird facts about it.  Lemurs, giraffes, turtles, panda bears, whale sharks, you love them all.  You are Ziggy’s best friend and Roxy’s best girl.  I love watching you play “dog trainer” and putting Ziggy through his paces.  You were so upset when Roxy got bit by a rattlesnake.  I don’t think you slept at all that night we had to leave her at the vet.  Thankfully, she recovered and the two of you were back to playing dress up in a few days.

It is no surprise that you want to be a veterinarian when you grow up.  But I can also envision you as a scientist, teacher or a wildlife biologist like Daddy.  With your sense of adventure, I can picture you tracking down snow leopards in the Himayalas for your own Youtube channel.  Or maybe you’ll be an artist.  We spend hours drawing, painting and doing crafts.  My office is rapidly filling up with all your artwork!

Your favorite song right now is “Dirt on My Boots.”  You love it when Daddy and I turn on the music after dinner and we dance in the kitchen.  Some of your other favorites are “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” and “Happy.”

You are one of the only 5-year olds I know with a summer job.  After dinner, you, me, Daddy and Ziggy head out to the bird pens to run the chicks into their houses.  Sometimes you like it, other times you’d prefer to stay inside where it’s cool.  But we’re it as an opportunity to teach you about chores and responsibility.  You’re learning that life isn’t all fun and games and that we can’t quit just because a job gets hard.  I hope that seeing him in action and being around him will help you develop a work ethic like Daddy’s.  And I hope that little glimpse into how hard he works for our family will stick with you for life, and you’ll appreciate the sacrifices he makes for our family.  Chance are good you’ll like this chore less and less as time passes.  Until the day, that is, that you realize it wasn’t about working but about family.

There are times I look forward to the fall when you will be in school and I will have more free time.  But most of the time, I just get sad thinking about it.  You’ve been my constant companion and partner in crime for the last five years.  Not having you with me all day will be a big change for both of us.  No more impromptu trips to Cheyenne for lunch with Nana or afternoon runs to AJs for a soda.  I will miss this time with you more than you’ll ever know.

We argue and get frustrated with each other.  We get mad.  You get sad.  But nothing is ever too bad that we can’t fix it with an “I’m sorry” and a good, long hug.  May that always be the case for our relationship.  We love you to pieces my dear, sweet, kind, beautiful girl.  Happy 5th birthday.

Love,

Mama

(This is the fifth in a series of letters I’ve written to my daughter each year on her birthday.  When she’s 18th, I’m going to give them to her and let her see herself through our eyes over the years.)

photography, sports, Uncategorized, Wyoming

Getting My Kicks

Emily

Last fall, Wyokiddo asked to play soccer.  Quite frankly, I was a bit stunned.  She isn’t a huge fan of sports and hasn’t really expressed an interest in them before.  But we signed her up.  She loved it so much, she’s playing again this spring.

I take photos at her games for a few reasons.  One, it’s good practice at some action photography shots.  And two, it keeps me from getting too intense.

Yes, I’m one of those parents.  Or I would be if I didn’t make a conscious effort to keep my nose out of her on-field business.  Every once in a while, I’ll slip and try to coach instead of encourage.  But if I put a camera in my hands, I’m paying more attention to it than worrying about the performance of my kid.  Which for this competitive mama, is a good thing.

Here’s hoping this technique lasts me for quite a while.  Lord help me if the kid is ever good enough to play varsity.

These action shots are also a great way to practice some graphic design skills.  I’m getting more experienced with Photoshop and the powers of digital design.  If only parenting were as easy as turning on or off the layers of ourselves we don’t really want.

Teresa

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.

Teresa

family, Kids, Uncategorized

Gifts from Little People

emily-flowers-drw

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mama. Sorry they’re dead. But uh, it’s winter, so…”

Wyokiddo @ 4  years old.  If I’m being honest, I’ve received far less thoughtful gifts from far less cuter humans.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Show the world how big your heart is today, and every day.

Teresa

family, Kids, photography, Uncategorized

First Loves

rocky-fish-final-drwMeet Rocky. He’s Wyokiddo’s fish, bought to replace the gold fish she won at a 4-H carnival that died approximately 15 hours after we brought it home. Rocky is much more hearty, and photogenic. Thankfully.

Someday, we’ll tell Wyokiddo stories about her first pet. Stories like how for the first three weeks after his arrival, she’d wake up in the morning, run to his bowl and breathlessly exclaim “Oh thank goodness! Mama, Mama, Rocky didn’t die last night!”

Her enthusiasm for Rocky has waned a little bit with the arrival of Ziggy the puppy.  But I will still catch Wyokiddo standing at Rocky’s bowl, her finger tracing a path for Rocky to follow.  She chatters at him, telling the fish stories of her day, her friends and her life.

It warms my heart.  Somewhere in the heavens, there’s a chestnut mare with spots and an attitude that has all my childhood secrets woven through her thin, black mane.

Now Rocky will have Wyokiddo’s secrets, and she’ll always have a photo of this beautiful little guy.

Teresa

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.

Teresa

 

 

country life, family, photography, Uncategorized

Chickens are the New Chihuahuas

Emily and Chicken-5

This week in micro-fashion…

Looking for the latest in back-to-school accessories for your preschooler? Might I suggest a pocket chicken! Boas are out, bantys are in! Pink, turquoise, t-shirts, leggings, they really do go with any outfit…

Meet Erica the Bantam rooster.  Erica-the-girl named Erica-the-rooster before anyone knew he was a she (the rooster, not the girl). The rooster belongs to Wyokiddo’s papa.  The erstwhile clucker-turned-crower quickly fell under the spell of the curly-haired dynamo.  Wyokiddo would pick up Erica and pack him around under her arm while she helped her papa do chores.  If she put him down, it wasn’t long before he was back at her feet, lobbying for loves and meal worms.

My daughter, the chicken-whisperer.

Teresa

 

family, Uncategorized, writing

Fearless: Life Lessons from a 4-Year Old

Today was the last trip Wyokiddo and I will make to the city pool for the summer.  It’s closing this weekend and we have a full schedule the next few days.  We made the most of our time, including Wyokiddo’s first trip off the diving board.

This summer, with very little help from me, she learned to actually swim, float and dive to the bottom of the pool to retrieve an object.  Her big cousin just taught her how to do a flip underwater and she was even on the cusp of handstands.  She is positively fearless.

I can swim but I’m not truly comfortable in the water.  So I am in absolute awe of her in the pool.  As I swam to the middle of the deep end to catch her coming off the board, her confidence took my break away.  Without a moment’s hesitation, she climbed the ladder, marched out the end of the plank, gave one little wiggle of her butt and leaped into the water with the biggest smile on her face.  No second guessing, no worrying.  She just closed her eyes and jumped.

And to think I could have missed it.

There are times I get self-conscious, lumbering around in my bathing suit.  I feel a bit like a moose clambering to get out of a mud bog.  I could have let my own fear and body image get in the way of enjoying a summer at the pool with my kid.  Do I look good in a swimsuit?  Well, no.  I’m carrying 3o extra pounds.  I have dimples on my ass and my bangs are thinning.  And thanks to breastfeeding, my chest isn’t what it used to be.  But I get in the pool anyway.

Because here’s the thing…my daughter doesn’t care.  She doesn’t see those imperfections.  She just sees her mama in the pool, ready to catch her as she leaps off the diving board for the first time.  She will remember having fun in the water and laughing when she soaks me, not my cellulite or my flabby arms.

This summer, we ran into friends of Wyokiddos at the pool, but only one was with his mom.  Wyokiddo asked me why her friends’ moms didn’t come to the pool, why some only came with a babysitter.  I explained that some moms had to work, that some moms couldn’t swim, and that some moms didn’t like to get in the pool.

Today, as we were walking to our car to go home, she squeezed my hand and said “Thanks for being a mom that gets in the pool.”

I know there will be moments in the future when I don’t feel good about my body.  I’ll compare it to someone else and feel ashamed that I don’t look like I did when I was 16.  I just hope when those moments hit me, I can remember my fearless four-year old and channel her enthusiasm and confidence.  Because I never want to be anything less than the mom that gets in the pool.

Teresa