Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Sophie and Elise!

At 4:20 Mountain Time (6:20 Eastern Time), Sophie was born in Jackson Hole, Wyoming 10 years ago.

Amazing how time flies, isn’t it?

Last night, she was upset about a homework assignment and crying. I started singing her favorite Bob Marley song to her: don't worry about a thing cause every little thing's gonna be alright.... I thought back to when she was a colicky infant who wouldn't stop screaming. I used to sing Bob Marley songs to her to quell her colicky cries. The sound of the streams swelling full with mountain run-off seemed to lull her. She's always been my easy going nature girl.

Ten years ago yesterday, I was holding a newborn in my arms for the first time. Tiny and impatient from birth, Sophie came three weeks early while I was eating carrots and watching Star Wars II in Victor, Idaho. She’s always been gentle and easy going, a sensitive and compassionate child with a love for nature and animals. Her father and I spent the first part of my labor in Grand Teton National Park hiking between contractions, searching for coyote scat as a distraction. She was easy on me, coming quick in only six hours and weighing only six pounds. Conceived among 180 Alaska Huskies at Frank Teasley’s Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours, she was destined to be a dog person.

Sophie in 2006 rounding up puppies at Nature's Kennel, home of Tasha and Ed Stielstra and their 100 or so racing Alaskan huskies

She didn’t cry when she was born, but she sure made up for it later: she cried constantly during the first four months of her life. I walked endlessly through the tiny town of only 300, trying to quiet her. Being in nature, hiking through the forest with the sound of the streams and the sway of my walking with her strapped to me seemed to calm her. Though she was born during the tail end of May, it snowed the night she was born there in Jackson Hole, where snow lingers long. She was destined to love snow.

Sophie with Foxy (left) and Mandy (right), the original Lazy Huskies

Five years ago today, I held a much different newborn in my arms: Elise.

With the fiery spirit of her father and the tenacity of me, she is a rough and tumble kid who can dish it out and take it.

Even in the womb, when she kicked me, I knew she was going to be strong, a fighter. At eight pounds two ounces, she took her time emerging into this world and put me through a hellish 22 hour labor. And even today, no one can make Elise do anything before she wants to. She screamed and cried when she was born.

Curious, with a fierce determination and a proclivity for music, Elise is a natural entertainer. She is charismatic. Born to musicians and writers for parents, Elise was destined to be an entertainer.

Elise singing in the backyard

Sophie and Elise are typical sisters. Most of the time, they are in harmony.

At Dussel Farm, fall of 05

But sometimes they have their differences.

Watching my girls grow up has been one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given. And though our lives are hectic and probably a bit unorthodox, with eight dogs at home (and more on the way), sharing their lives with the dogs is all they've ever known. My girls are flexible and resiliant, and I am proud of them. And I love them so, so much. Happy Birthday, Girls!

Elise swimming at her pool birthday party

Elise on her 5th birthday celebration

Sophie takes a break from swimming to open some presents from friends


  1. i thought it was just sophie's birthday. is it elise's too? happy birthday girls! you're raising some strong young women Shan! that was so beautiful and inspiring!

  2. Thanks Steph. You're gonna be a strong mama too :-)

  3. Happy Birthday Sophie and Elise!!! Ana misses you both and hopes you had a great birthday!!

  4. Hmm... how time runs away... wish both the girls happy birthday ...


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