July 9, 2013: Dear Adelade

Hey there my sweet little Lady.

 

I was so excited Sunday night to get to see and not just feel you move for the first time! Too bad your Daddy missed it. But not to worry, with another four months of you being stuck in there, no doubt your activities will be increasingly noticeable.

 

So, I was telling you about our journey together so far.

 

Like I explained last week, we first found out back in early March that you were coming, and excited doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt. Ecstatic, overjoyed, thrilled, delighted, over-the-moon… any of those descriptions would be a bit more accurate. And the excitement and eager anticipation still hasn’t worn off – in fact, it’s getting more intense the closer we get to your arrival!

 

We decided we wanted to tell your Grammy and Papa Sirkel and your Gram and Gramps Robinson in person rather than via phone, so even with all that eager delight pent up inside of us, we somehow managed to keep your existence a secret from everyone for two full weeks.

 

We got a chance to tell Grammy and Papa first. I made a little card that looked like this:

 

Baby Announcement Card (front)

 

Your Daddy handed it to his dad, your Papa, who started to read it out loud while Grammy listened from the other side of the room. I think Papa was confused at first, (mostly because he had just gotten new contacts and was having trouble reading it) but Grammy immediately started getting excited as she recognized the familiar singsong verse.

 

When Papa finally opened the card, he saw this:

 

Baby Announcement Card (inside)

 

 

And immediately said, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME????!!!!” with a big grin splitting his face.

 

Meanwhile Grammy was almost in tears she was so happy, and your Aunt Kalli was mostly just confused (but excited as soon as she figured out what was going on!)

 

Grammy wasted no time cluing your Aunt Stephanie and Great Aunts Heidi and Leslie in on the news – swearing them to Facebook secrecy first, of course. Your Daddy told Uncle Sam (yes, you really do have an Uncle Sam), and pretty soon the whole Sirkel clan was sharing our excitement!

 

It was another two and a half weeks before we finally got to tell Gram and Gramps. We flew out to West Texas to visit them the weekend of Gram’s birthday and their 31st wedding anniversary. They picked us up from the airport and took us to breakfast. Once we were settled into our booth and coffee was on the way (decaf for me, of course), I handed them a wrapped gift. They opened it together, and saw this:

 

Rocks in my socks

 

 

“Ohhh, There Are Rocks In My Socks!” They exclaimed, immediately recognizing my favorite book that they used to read to me when I was a little girl.

 

Then they opened the book and saw this inscription I’d written on the first page:

 

To read to your first grandbaby,

arriving in November 2013

 

with more love

than words can say,

– Teek

 

Needless to say, they were thrilled!

 

Later that day, when we got to Alpine, we went to visit your Uncle Jake at work. As soon as I saw him and was close enough that he could hear me, I said, “Hi Uncle Jake!”

 

He stopped, cocked his head to one side, and looked at me with a “I-think-I-know-what-you’re-hinting-at…” kind of half smile.

 

I grinned and confirmed his hopeful suspicions, letting him know he was going to become an Uncle in November.

 

 

 

And that’s the story of how we told the family.

June 29, 2013: Dear Adelade…

A

Wow.

 

I have so many things to tell you, I don’t know where to start. I still can hardly believe that I get to meet you and hold you in just a few months! You are already so precious to me, and every poke and prod and fluttery kick brings a smile to my face.

 

That smile may change to a grimace once you’ve gained a few pounds and aim those kicks at my already-harassed bladder, but for now, your tiny flailing still makes me grin.

 

Twenty-one weeks have already passed and we have about nineteen left to go before we get to hold you in our arms and look into your sweet face. In the meantime, let me tell you a little bit about our journey together so far…

 

March 2nd, 2013

I suspect something – in a hopeful, wishful, just maybe, maybe, maybe kind of way. I convince myself to wait a week before I check.

 

…the next day

I realize that a week is a ridiculously long time. What was I thinking? A single day is a much more palatable length of time for this kind of eager and anxious waiting – don’t you agree? It’s a Sunday morning, and I’m getting ready to go to church. Your daddy (already ready for church of course, since he’s a man) is relaxing on the bed – oblivious to the chaos of thoughts inside my head. I make a split-second decision just to do it – I need to know now before the suspense kills me!

 

…5 minutes later

I slap my hands over my mouth and stare at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I’m pretty sure my heart stops. My brain starts silently spitting out joyful gratitude in the direction of heaven while my eyes begin to well up with tears.

I. Can’t. Believe. It!

 

…5 minutes later

I snuggle up to your daddy (still lying on the bed, still oblivious) and ask him what he’s doing. I receive a grunt in reply. After another question or two, with progressively better responses than the first one, he is informed that I would like to talk.

 

“What do you want to talk about?” He asks.

“This,” I say, and – without further ado – reveal what he has since unromantically dubbed ‘the pee stick.’

His eyes get wide and a grin spreads across his face as he says, “Oh yeah?”

“Yep,” I nod and grin as tears slip down my cheeks. I lean in and kiss him and whisper, “We’re having a baby…”

 

…to be continued

And Then There Were Three

Copyright Ben Larzabal
Copyright Ben Larzabal
Photo Credit: Ben Larzabal

 

Excitement doesn’t even begin to cover the emotions threatening to burst out of Geoff and me.

 

There just aren’t words to describe the fullness of joy and eager anticipation and lying awake at night smiling at the ceiling.

 

We’re going to be parents…

 

There also aren’t words to quite describe the nervous jitters and worries and fears and what if’s all packed into that statement. “We’re going to be parents.” Wow.

 

But mostly, there’s a feeling of overwhelming love.

 

It’s amazing the strength of love already binding us to that little lime-sized baby hiding in my belly. We haven’t even met the little tike yet, but already love him or her with everything in us.

 

I can’t even wrap my mind around what it will feel like to hold our child in my arms for the very first time.

 

We’re having a baby!

 

It’s all I can think about.

 

My mind is hopped up on baby like a coffee-junkie on caffeine.

 

I’m either swooning over thoughts of rocking my sweet child to sleep, or wondering about maternity clothes, labor pains, car seats, and beyond. One minute I’m wondering if my baby bump will ever start showing, and the next minute I’m stressing about how we’ll handle parenting in our increasingly hooked-on-the-internet world.

 

My thoughts range from the ridiculously superficial “I hope my face doesn’t get really fat during my pregnancy” to the more profound “what habits do I have now that I wouldn’t want my kids to learn from me?”

 

No joke. My mind goes there. And everywhere in between!

 

I am still absolutely blown away by the tiny miracle growing inside me. There’s a baby in there!

 

And so the adventure begins…

The Yin to My Yang

“Gardening is stupid.”

 

Yes, that is a direct quote. From my husband. On a cold Saturday morning while shivering in a mercilessly shaded front yard with muddy knees, frozen fingers, and a sore back.

 

My cheery grin, chipper attitude, and frequent wisecracks did nothing to alleviate his stubborn suffering.

 

So I grinned and just kept pulling weeds.

 

By mid-morning and after a cup of coffee, a thirty-minute break, and a little more sunshine spilling over the house, he had cheered up a bit. But he was still adamant that if I ever want to take up gardening, I can teach our future kids, but leave him out of it!

 

As part of our fundraising efforts for our upcoming mission trip to Honduras (May 18-25, super excited!) we toiled on hands and knees in muddy flowerbeds, rescued ungrateful rosebushes that were being smothered by dead leaves, cleaned and organized cluttered garages, Craig’s-listed old appliances, hand-painted and sold unique gift items, and tackled a variety of other household tasks and craft projects.

 

Through our hard work and the generosity of friends, family and strangers (which all just adds up to God’s providence) we met our goal well in advance of our deadline! Whew!

 

During the process, Geoff and I were vividly reminded of the differences in our personalities. As he likes to say, I’m the yin to his yang.

 

Yin-Yang

 

You see, when the going gets tough, Geoff gets grumpy, and I get chipper.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is one of the toughest people I know, and he can persevere through any degree of pain, discomfort or adversity to reach the goal. But he might not be very happy about it.

 

I, on the other hand, tend to become strangely and ridiculously optimistic and lighthearted when circumstances aren’t particularly pleasant. Downright chipper. Annoyingly so.

 

Like that one time, when we were towing a borrowed boat with a borrowed truck back to the rightful owners and our three-hour drive became seven. Pieces of the boat kept blowing off in the wind and cartwheeling down the middle of the highway to be retrieved – nice and scuffed up – and tied down for a second try.

 

Then there was the blowout on the boat trailer. No spare. Wrong-sized tire wrench in the truck. No one would stop to help us. Nearby farms welcomed us with padlocked gates and dark windows.

 

Finally, hours later, after a Good Samaritan with the right-sized tire wrench finally took pity on us, a 140-mile round-trip to Wal-Mart, purchasing what happened to be the most expensive tire they had for sale, and finally getting the jack to work, we were on our way again. Tired. Sunburned. Ready to be home.

 

And Geoff was grumpy (for some reason). And I was chipper.

 

Why so different?

 

Well, yin and yang I guess. But mostly, God knew what he was doing when He put us together 🙂

Two of My Favorite People

Ahem.

 

Excuse me, but I have to tell you something important.

 

Are you ready?

 

Okay.

 

I get to see my parents tomorrow!!!

 

 

mom&dad

 

Do you understand how excited I am about that?!

 

I don’t care how “grown-up” I am or ever will be – I still love my parents with all of my heart and yearn to see them every day, and I always will. And tomorrow just happens to be my mom’s birthday, and Saturday is their thirty-first wedding anniversary. I am so glad I get to spend this weekend with them!

 

Five hundred miles separate me from my parents, and while that’s not exactly the other side of the world – or even the country – it’s still too far.

 

Yes, I know that no matter the distance they are only a phone call away, and I am so thankful for that. But nothing can replace the hugs and the smiles, the games played and the meals shared.

 

About four months ago I had the chance to spend a week with them, but I haven’t seen them since, and I am experiencing major withdrawals.

 

It’s a strange kind of homesickness.

 

I no longer consider my parents’ house my home – not exactly anyway; but my parents themselves, no matter where they might be, are “home” to me. They represent love and laughter and a million shared memories that I never want to lose.

 

My “home” has grown in the years since I moved out of my parents’ house. My husband is home to me now – and so are all the fun and crazy people that came with him. More love and laughter and memories are being enjoyed every day.

 

But my own parents will forever be a special kind of “home” to me. And I want to take just a moment to say thank you to them, two of my favorite people.

 

In no particular order…

 

  • Thank you for loving God out loud and every day and for raising me to love Him too.
  • Thank you for bedtime prayers, family devotions, and driving two hours to church every Sunday morning.
  • Thank you for unashamed discipline and unshakeable principles.
  • Thank you for teaching me to work hard and to appreciate the value of something earned.
  • Thank you for mac-n-mush, goulash, tuna casserole, meat-willie, and homemade pizza.
  • Thank you for never letting me go to bed without a kiss, an “I love you,” and a prayer.
  • Thank you for being comfortable with saying “no.”
  • Thank you for snowball fights, hay forts, tire-swings, and toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
  • Thank you for crying with me when Keet died.
  • Thank you for all-day “field trips” to work horseback and getting to lean on mom in the truck because she was softest.
  • Thank you for praying for me every day.
  • Thank you for family vacations, camping trips, and getting to trudge through the snow and over the barbed wire fence to pick out our own Christmas tree every year.
  • Thank you for showing us the joy of sand rocks, tree forts, and imagination.
  • Thank you for inside jokes, nicknames, and made-up songs about squirrels and cereal.
  • Thank you for never giving up on me as a rebellious teen.
  • Thank you for holding hands and unabashedly kissing each other in public.
  • Thank you for embarrassing me every-now-and-then to keep me humble.
  • Thank you for setting a beautiful example for me in life and in love.
  • Thank you for long drives, buffalo distractions, and singing in the car.
  • Thank you for loving each other through thick and thin for the past thirty-one years. Happy anniversary mom and dad. I love you.

 

When Funny Isn’t Funny

Copyright Emily Sirkel

Copyright Emily Sirkel

 

I like decorative signs. You know, those vintage looking painted wooden signs with sweet or funny sayings on them?

 

Sometimes they’re cute:

 

“All guests must be approved by the dog.”

 

“We may not have it all together but together we have it all.”

 

 

Or sweet:

 

“Together is a wonderful place to be.”

 

“Family: a journey to forever.”

 

 

Funny:

 

“I love you more than bacon.”

 

“Grandchildren are God’s reward for not killing your kids.”

 

Sassy:

 

“I’m not bossy, I just know what you should be doing.”

 

“I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow doesn’t look good either.”

 

A little ridiculous:

 

“Friends are like snowflakes, if you pee on them they disappear.”

 

“Live, love, bark… roll in a dead squirrel.”

 

And often these signs poke fun at the relationship between husband and wife:

 

“An old nag and her stud live here.”

 

 “The smartest thing a man ever said: ‘Yes dear!’”

 

But sometimes, “funny” isn’t funny. Sometimes, the line is crossed. Last Friday I was in a store and saw a sign that said this:

 

All men are idiots and I married their king.”

 

Wow.

 

Wives, did you chuckle when you read that sign? I didn’t. I winced. Visibly. As I stood there and looked at that sign, it made me very sad. I thought about taking a picture of it, but chose not to because I didn’t even want that photo to be on my phone. I later Googled this phrase, and found not only signs, but t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, buttons, and even light switch covers all bearing this awful sentiment.

 

Husbands, wouldn’t you just love it if your wife bought that sign and brought it home to hang on the wall? Wouldn’t you laugh, hahaha, at the funny little joke? No. You wouldn’t. And you shouldn’t. Nobody should laugh when a wife feels like it’s okay to say that about her husband.

 

For some reason in our American culture it has become okay to poke fun at men. It’s okay to knock their ego down a notch. Little girls are growing up to be women who still believe that “Girls rule, boys drool!” But it’s not true and it’s not okay.

 

Just as women desperately need to feel loved and wanted, men need to know they are trusted and respected. They need to be built up and encouraged, not “knocked down a notch.”

 

Just as us girls need to hear “I love you” and need to feel “I want you,” our guys need to hear in our words “I’m proud of you” and recognize in our actions “I trust you.”

 

Girls, don’t talk bad about your men. Show them respect – privately and especially publically. Be mindful of what you say; what you think is just playful teasing in front of his friends might be a lot more painful than you realize. And don’t ever badmouth your man when he’s not around. You may think it’s “venting,” but really it’s just reinforcing a negative perspective that’s a lot more dangerous than you know.

 

His wife should be the one person a man can be most vulnerable with. Don’t take that for granted. Don’t abuse that privilege. Always be careful what you say, because sometimes “funny” really is anything but funny.

20 Random Things You Didn’t Know That You Didn’t Know About Me

Copyright Emily Sirkel

Copyright Emily Sirkel

 

Full disclosure: this is a “cheat” blog post.

 

Translation: I’ve had a stomach bug already this week and now have a cold (first time I’ve been sick in over a year, guess it was time for a double-whammy) so this is my no-effort post because I don’t really have any effort in me right now.

 

  1. My all-time favorite food is Kraft blue-box macaroni and cheese. Forever and always baby. Not ashamed.
  2. I once had a pet baby prairie chicken named Little Rascal. He was leash trained and very cute.
  3. The longest I’ve lived in once place is 10 years. Check it out – GPS coordinates: 46.384311,-107.641597 = middle-of-nowhere-Montana
  4. My most embarrassing moment: having the story of my most embarrassing moment told by my parents to a room full of friends during our going-away-party before we moved to Texas. Maybe there’s a reason I’ve only been back to Montana twice in the last twelve years…
  5. My first job was pulling wild rye out of the neighboring farm’s wheat fields. I was about 8 years old and got paid $6/hour to yank the stuff out by its roots, stuff it in a gunnysack and haul it to the edge of the field.
  6. I have college credits from three different universities and a medical school. Does it matter? Nope.
  7. I once lived in Canada for 2 and ½ months. My landlady was Taiwanese and an excellent cook! She once brought my roommates and me a 5-gallon bucket full of freshly picked blueberries. Yes, I still like blueberries.
  8. I made a snow-angel on top of the Great Wall of China bordering North Korea. I have a picture to prove it… somewhere.
  9. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a missionary doctor when I grew up.

10. Yes, I have been skinny-dipping. Yes, that’s all I’m going to say.

11. After we got married Geoff wanted to get a dog and I wanted to get a cat. We compromised and got a baby miniature potbelly pig. We named her Steve. A grown-up Steve is pictured above. Sadly, she is no longer with us, but she was great fun during the 3 years that we had her!

12. I made a 100 average in one college class. Greek. No kidding. Can I read or speak Greek now, 6 years later? Not even a little.

13. I think garbanzo beans are of the devil. As are lima beans. Devil food I tell you.

14. One of my most prized possessions is a lamp. That’s right, a lamp. My dad gave it to me when I was a little girl, and my husband fixed it for me years later. It’s special because my two favorite men made it special.

15. One thing I can’t stand is people with little work ethic and a big sense of entitlement.

16. I’ve never seen Gone With The Wind. Or Moulin Rouge. I’m okay with that.

17. I’m not afraid to admit that I like cats. My first pet was a kitten named Jax. I got him when I was about 3, and he lived until my first semester in college. He was awesome.

18. My favorite beverage is water. Not kidding. Love that stuff.

19. I like the smell of copy machines. And normal things too, like coffee, rain, freshly cut grass, and clean sheets. My favorite smell is Geoff. Yes that’s cheesy, but it’s okay, it’s Valentine’s Day.

20. Last but not least, one of my favorite childhood memories: sledding with dad and big brother, then going inside to warm up with hot cocoa and toasted PB&J sandwiches made by mom. Good times.

 

 

Tell me one random thing about yourself in the comments below. Ready, go:

Say It In Words

Copyright Emily Sirkel Photography

Copyright Emily Sirkel Photography

 

Why is it important to say, “I love you” to your kids every day?

 

Why do we need to hear those words from our spouse on a daily basis?

 

Do we forget if they don’t tell us often? Do we stop believing it if we don’t hear it enough?

 

I don’t know.

 

I don’t know why that constant affirmation is so necessary or important, but it is.

 

I grew up in a family where “I love you’s” were frequently heard and freely bestowed, along with hugs and kisses and bedtime prayers. I never doubted my parents’ love and concern for me – they proved it daily through their words and actions. I know that I was blessed in a powerful way that sadly, many children are not.

 

Now in my marriage, “I love you’s” are also plentiful and frequent. Anytime we part ways, end a phone conversation, send a text message, or just hang out, “I love you” is always part of the dialogue. I have no doubt the trend will continue when we welcome children into our family someday.

 

There’s no doubt that saying and hearing “I love you” regularly is incredibly important. But I think sometimes we need to take it a step further.

 

I was reminded of this last Friday when I came home from work. I knew that Geoff wouldn’t be home when I got there – he was at the studio late editing tracks from his latest recording session. All day I had been plotting to get off early, go home, bake cookies, and then drive to the studio to surprise him (yes, I get wife points for that).

 

Well, the getting off early didn’t happen, and Friday evening traffic sucks, even with my measly four-mile commute. By the time I got home, I wasn’t sure about the plan anymore. I walked in our bedroom, plopped my bags down in defeat, and then noticed a note on my pillow. A folded up piece of notebook paper with the words “Beautiful Babe” scrawled on the front.

 

A grin spread across my face as I picked it up and unfolded it. By the time I finished reading the six simple sentences, there were tears in my eyes. It was more than “I love you.” That note communicated, “I cherish you,” “I adore you,” “I’m proud of you,” “I thank God for you,” and so much more. Geoff communicates these things to me every day through his actions, but for him to take a moment to write it down and leave it for me to find meant the world to me.

 

Needless to say, I baked those cookies and made that drive to the studio.

 

Don’t take it for granted that your loved ones know how much you love them. Say, “I love you” often. Say more than, “I love you” too. Say it with your actions, but also say it with your words. It might just mean the world to someone.

Childhood Part 2: What Are We Missing?

Copyright Emily Sirkel Photography

Last week I reminisced about my childhood. Growing up on a ranch in Montana meant daily chores, homeschool lessons, and playing outside. Before the days of internet and cell phones and without a TV or video games, my brother and I entertained ourselves with books, Legos, forts, and exploring.

 

Copyright Emily Sirkel Photography

 

While part of me wishes I could replicate my picturesque childhood for my own kids, I realize that’s neither possible nor ideal. Times have changed so much, and as much as I cherish my sixteen years of ranch life, ranching is not something that I have chosen to pursue as an adult. My kids’ ranch experience will most likely be visits to the grandparents instead of a way of life.

 

Even so, I never really expected to end up settling in a city. Sometimes I feel claustrophobic, with the buildings pressing in on me and concrete, brick and steel everywhere I look. I long for open spaces, clean air, and clear skies without the light pollution that hides the stars at night. But the city is where I call home now, and the city may very well be where I raise my kids.

 

As I mentioned last week, I am less concerned about where my kids will grow up as when. Times really have changed. Our American culture is evolving, and not entirely in ways I’m comfortable with.

 

The one thing that stands out to me the most is our dependence on and infatuation with technology. It feels like we can’t survive without it, yet just a couple decades ago we hadn’t even imagined life with it. Cell phones were rare, the internet was relatively unknown, and social media wasn’t even a dream yet.

 

Now, almost everyone I know has a “smart” phone that commands their attention every few minutes. Between the iPhones, iPads, Kindles, laptops, desktop monitors, and televisions in my household of six, we have enough screens to pave a driveway.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-technology. I have my own share of screens that command my attention, including my beloved iPhone with its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps. I enjoy the convenience, usefulness and entertainment. I like being able to check the weather with a quick tap of my finger before I get dressed in the morning. I enjoy snapping pictures and sharing them with my friends across the country in a matter of seconds. I appreciate the GPS that not only keeps me from getting lost in the city, but helps me search for and find local businesses without dragging out the Yellow Pages.

 

Technology is not a bad thing. But I worry about how addicted to it we’ve become. And I worry about the precedent we are setting for our children. No matter how hard we fight it, our kids will inevitably do what we do, not just what we say. Children very much learn from what they see. At a very early age they begin to mimic the things their parents do and say.

 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids to grow up believing they need to have a cell phone in their hand at all times. I don’t want my kids to grow up believing they need to be entertained by staring at a screen. I don’t want my kids to grow up believing everything should happen with the tap of a button in 2 seconds or less.

 

I want my kids to read books more than watch YouTube videos. I want my kids to create things with their imaginations and build things with their hands more than look at pictures on Pinterest. I want my kids to play board games with the family more than video games in front of the TV. I want my kids to enjoy real conversations face to face more than texting “LOLs” and “OMGs.” I want my kids to appreciate fresh air and sunshine more than the couch and an iPhone game.

 

I know there’s no going back to “before.” Before our lives became inundated with little bright screens that link us to each other, entertain us, and keep us organized. I am resigned to the fact that unless I choose to become Amish, modern technology will most likely be a big part of my life and my children’s lives.

 

But I am not resigned to letting modern technology control my life. I am not okay with those little bright screens commanding my attention for so many of my waking hours. I acknowledge their necessity in our modern world – I stare at the bright screen of my computer half the day as part of earning my paycheck. But so much that the bright screens offer us is really not a necessity.

 

How many cumulative hours have escaped us just by flicking our fingers across a screen, “throwing” a make-believe crumpled ball of paper into a make-believe trashcan? Whether it’s Paper Toss or Angry Gran or Draw Something or your Facebook newsfeed, the minutes slip into hours, which slip into days that we don’t get back.

 

I don’t know about you, but I never feel good after spending an extended amount of time playing a mindless iPhone game or even “liking” my friends’ Facebook statuses or “retweeting” pithy quotes. I don’t feel refreshed or rested. I don’t feel content or fulfilled. I don’t feel happy about time well spent. I just feel tired.

 

So, all that to say… as I contemplate what childhood will be like for my future children, I am realizing that the precedent I set now will have a huge impact. If I want my kids to realize the value of the world not contained within a bright little screen, I need to demonstrate it myself. I need to rediscover life. I need to seek out fresh air and sunshine, face-to-face conversations, board games and hobbies.

 

Because I want my kids to not miss the world that’s right in front of their eyes.

 

Question: What do you think – is evolving technology both a blessing and a curse? How do you handle it in your family? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Childhood

I loved my childhood. While nothing in this world is ever perfect, I feel as though my childhood was as close as it could be. I grew up in the rolling hills of southeastern Montana. I learned to ride not long after I learned to walk, and in addition to my parents and older brother, my family included horses, cows, dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, and a mean rabbit named Tanya.

 

Copyright Emily Sirkel Photography
Photo credit really should go to my mom, Rachel Robinson. And yes, I’m the featured cutie, along with my brother, Jake. Cameos by Rosebud the milk cow, Keet the cat, and a puppy named Blaze.

 

My brother was my best friend, and together we had incredible adventures. From Cowboys and Indians to Lewis and Clark to Princess Leia and Han Solo, our imaginations took us to far away places. We built forts. We dug tunnels. We climbed trees. We caught tadpoles. We built igloos. We had snowball fights. We constructed elaborate obstacle courses and we rode our bikes over ridiculous jumps. We went sledding down hills that were too steep and we went swimming in water that was too cold.

 

We didn’t have TV for most of my childhood, and we never had video games. Instead, we played outside or read books. We loved the “bookmobile” that came to the closest middle-of-nowhere small town and let us stock up on library books every other Wednesday afternoon. We eagerly looked forward to Sundays – our “going to church and the grocery store” days. As my parents navigated our thirty-mile dirt and gravel driveway, we would all sing along to a tape of Christian music or listen to an audiobook. Once we made it to the highway, we’d start the alphabet game, claiming letters off of the scarce billboards and road signs between our mailbox and the city sixty miles away. My parents never complained about the four-hour round trip, and so neither did we.

 

My childhood wasn’t perfect, but it was wonderful, and I will cherish it forever.

 

Lately I’ve found myself thinking a lot about what my kids’ childhoods will be like. While I don’t have any children yet, I eagerly look forward to the day that I do, and I’ve begun to wonder about what our world will look like through their eyes.

 

Geoff and I are at that age where the bulk of our friends either have small children already or are about to produce some. So as conversations about children inevitably pop up, my thoughts turn to what life will be like for my own kids someday.

 

It only recently occurred to me that we may raise our kids in the city. I hadn’t ever thought about that before. Having grown up on a ranch and then living mostly in small towns up until the last year, I never considered the possibility of my kids growing up in a large city.

 

Because my own childhood was so good, it’s hard for me to think about my kids not getting that kind of experience. I struggle with the idea of raising them in the city. But I’m slowly getting to the point of wrapping my mind around the truth that my kids can have incredible childhoods wherever we end up.

 

Even as I come to terms with the idea of maybe raising my kids within the brick, steel and cement world of the city instead of the wide open spaces I fell in love with as a child, I still wonder about the rest of it. I wonder about the evolving American culture our kids will grow up in.

 

While I believe my children will be able to thrive no matter the where, I wonder about the when. Times have changed so much since I was a child. My generation of new parents has a whole new crop of worries to deal with.

 

Since this post is getting long, I’ll wait until Monday to continue. But stay tuned. I want to talk about this.

[Click here to read the second part of this post!]