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

 

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.

Mama

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, parenting, Uncategorized, writing

The Tough Stuff

Wyokiddo and I were exploring in a nearby tree belt when I heard the scream.  If you’ve ever heard it, it’s not a pleasant sound, or one that you ever forget.  It was a rabbit screaming, and it meant trouble.  My dog had found a bunny hiding under a tree and had it in her mouth, ready to shake it.

“Roxy, NO!” I yelled.  She immediately dropped the bunny, but the damage had been done.  A quick look told me the bunny had a broken hind leg.

We built a yard for our dogs for this very reason.  To keep them safe and keep other animals safe from them.  But I like to let the dogs run around with us when we are playing outside.  I’d kept the dogs away from the areas I knew had rabbit nests, but we’d inadvertently found another.  I scolded the dog, but was really scolding myself for letting it happen.  Damn.

“What happened, Mama?”  Wyokiddo was immediately at my side, crouching in the grass beside me.  “Awwww, a baby bunny.  It’s so little.  Is it hurt?”

Ugh.  Moment of truth with the almost 4-year old.  Should I gloss it over or be honest?  I chose honesty.

“Yes.  Roxy hurt this bunny.  She broke its leg, and there is nothing we can do to help it get better.”

“It won’t get better?”  Wyokiddo asked with big eyes and grave concern in her voice.

And thus began one of those conversations I hate having with my daughter.  We talked about how the bunny was hurt too much to help, and that the kindest thing we could do was to have Daddy euthanize it.  I told her it is our jobs as people to make sure we are responsible enough not to let an animal suffer, even if it makes us sad to kill the animal.  I told her killing the bunny was much kinder than leaving it to slowly starve to death or be found by another predator and suffer more.  So we found a box for the bunny and some shade and texted Daddy for help.

On our way back to the house, Wyokiddo and I talked about what happens to an animal or person when they die.  It is a talk we’ve had entirely too often at our house lately, after my father passed away last fall and we had to have one of our dogs euthanized.

“Is the bunny in heaven, like Papa and Archie?  It went to be with God?” she asked.

“I like to think so, kiddo.”

It would have been so easy to lie to Wyokiddo.  I could have left the bunny under the tree and told her all would be well.  No questions about death or heaven or why dogs kill bunnies.  But that’s not reality.  As much as I want to protect my kid from the ugly side of life, I know she needs to feel sadness.  Loss.  Confusion.

She needs to feel those emotions because they are part of life.  Animals will die.  Girls will be mean to her.  Someone will lie to her or hurt her feelings or try to take advantage of her.  And she will need to know what to do with those big emotions – how to process them, how to deal with them.

Outdoor Guy and I use these moments to teach her how to deal with the tough stuff as a 3-year old so that she has the grit and emotional intelligence to deal with the tougher stuff as a 13 year-old or 39-year old.  We talk about the tough stuff now to build trust and honesty among our family.  We want Wyokiddo to know we will be open and honest with her and that she can ask tough questions.  Yesterday it was a a hurt bunny.  Someday it will be mean girls, cute boys, drugs, school shootings or worse.  So we tell her the truth, in terms she can understand.  Always.

“Is it okay to be a little mad at Roxy because she hurt the bunny?”

“Yes.”

“Is it okay to be sad that the bunny died?”

“Yes.”

“Is it okay to be excited that Grammie and Papa are coming to visit even though the bunny died?”

“Yes.”

“Can I pet the bunny and tell it good bye and that I’m sorry?”

“I think that’s a great idea.”

I wish everything could be lollipops and sunshine in Wyokiddo’s life, but I know it won’t.  My hope is that by dealing with the tough stuff now she’ll be better prepared to chase away the rain and spread her own sunshine in life down the road.

Teresa