This was my favorite shot from yesterday. Before Sacrament, the couple in front of us turned around to visit, and invited us to come up to their place to spend the afternoon, and we were happy to take them up on it. They live in the hills outsides of town, and have three beautiful Tennessee Walker mares, chickens running about, a friendly dog and lots of cats, and lots of space to run and explore. Sort of a perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. All the kids got to take turns riding Gypsy and Raven (except for Kylie, who prefers petting and brushing to riding).
Keira was pretty incensed that she didn't get to go first, and, usually a very good turn-taker, got annoyed every time she had to wait for someone else to go for a ride. We popped her in the saddle, she grabbed the horn, and off she went. No one holding on to her, no nerves or skittishness with the bouncing around that was unavoidable with her small body and the Walkers' long stride. She was happy and confident and wanted more, more, more.
This sort of thing is what often comes to mind when I think about the sort of dad Doug is to our kids: confidence. He is such a great dad to his three little girls, they are all so confident and self-assured. Each of them has her own unique type of shyness, but they are personally confident, and it has a lot to do with him: they know well that they are loved, important, protected and cherished. Its hard to overstate how important that is in a girl's life, to have the security of a father's attention and affection.
And Dylan. Dylan sometimes laments that he has no brothers, but he also relishes being his dad's only boy. They go out to boy movies or run errands while jamming to their favorite bands in the car. Dylan came with a healthy dose of innate confidence, but he is also very sensitive, and his dad's approval (or disapproval) affects him greatly. He loves to have conversations with his dad about all the things that fascinate him, and he especially loves when his dad teaches him new skills, whether its using his little hand saw or figuring out how to shoot his bow.
They all know that things are expected of them, too. Work needs to get done, and it needs to get done right, schoolwork is to be taken seriously, and bad behavior will not be tolerated--it always comes with consequences. But the love is still there. Quite often, when correcting the kids, Doug will say, "I love you, but you still need to. . ." and address the inappropriate behavior. I've told him that I think the reason he struggles to be patient and consistent with adults is because he saves all of it for his kids. He has occasional moments of impatience (and, let's be honest, those usually revolve around hunger or a lack of sleep), but for the most part he's quite good at correcting firmly but with control, and always showing a lot of affection, in both word and deed.
We often receive compliments on how happy and well-behaved our kids are, and both have quite a lot to do with him; I'm grateful that he's my kids' dad.