“Wild and Free”


This is one of my favorite all-time photos of my two kids together. We were driving from California to visit our family in Wisconsin, and we decided to do some camping along the way.

Our first stop was in Utah, where we camped in this nice little state park by a river. The next morning, I went to get gas while Mark packed up the tent, and they had these huge green beetles all over the gas stations. It was horrible. I finally found a gas station where they were hosing them off the pumps at least. But how do people live there?

One of our next stops was in Nebraska. There was a hill behind this little lake separating it from a bigger lake, I believe, with railroad tracks at the top. It was hot and humid, and we decided instead of sitting around our tent all evening, we would drive into town to get Dairy Queen. I took this photo of the kids playing together outside, while we were setting up camp. I loved how the sun was shining in their blond hair, how they’re off by themselves, exploring, doing something imaginative together, the water next to them calm and reflective.

My parents camped a lot when we were kids. I loved it, loved hiking and exploring. I spent a lot of my childhood outdoors, playing outside, riding my bike with friends, sledding and making forts in the snow, taking long walks. Sometimes in middle school, we would take off in the morning and not come back until dinner. It was a free, unplanned childhood that’s now so rare.

I always hoped my kids would grow up to love the outdoors. I tried to take them camping almost every year, on cool hikes, and to beautiful national parks with rivers and mountains. I wished that they could have that free, unplanned childhood that I had, but it doesn’t seem to exist out here. It’s not the same world as it was when I grew up. Nate has enjoyed being in Boy Scouts and has done a lot of camping, hiking, and backpacking. Rachel would probably rather do anything else but camp! Oh well, I tried. Maybe someday when she’s in charge of where she goes, she’ll come to enjoy being outdoors more. We realize as parents we can only guide them as we know how, but it’s most important to give them the freedom to be their own people, wonderful and unique in their own ways. My prayer always is that God will help me to be the mom I need to be to my kids.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. – Psalm 19:1