“We just bought an Airstream last year, so we are going to be taking a lot of trips in that. We love to go camping on the weekends.”
Can you introduce me to your family?
Angie: My name is Angie, and I am the mom. I love photography. My husband’s name is Keith, and he also really enjoys photography. Our oldest daughter is Payton and she is thirteen. We have another daughter, Reese, and she is six. Our son Crew is five, and our youngest is Ireland, and she is three.
How did you and your husband meet?
Angie: We actually met online. Before I had a lot of kids, I would do a lot more photography, and I would also go fishing pretty often as well. The first message Keith ever sent to me said, “You like to fish, and you’re a photographer. If you tell me that you play golf, we might as well get married right now.” So I told him that I actually did play golf — I don’t golf anymore, because I have four kids, but I did golf back then.
So did you get married right away?
Angie (laughs): Actually we didn’t go on our first date for a little while, but when we finally did go on our first date, everything went well and we were married six months after.
What are the joys of being a parent?
Angie: Oh gosh, are there any? (laughs) No, no, I’m just kidding. When I was growing up, my parents didn’t do a lot with my siblings and me, so trying to be a mom that does things with her children brings me a lot of joy because I get to be around them so often. I get so much joy just being with them, and I feel like there isn’t any real purpose to life without them.
Keith: I enjoy watching the different personalities of each of my children. Being involved in what they are doing, learning what they are learning, and caring about what they care about makes my life so much more enjoyable.
Is that hard because each of your kids has a different personality?
Keith: I think that it is fun that they are all different. Angie and I have different ways to interact with each of our children, and we try to bring out their individual personalities as best we can.
Why is it important for children to have parents that interact with them?
Angie: I think that children need the closeness of their parents. Like I said, my parents weren’t involved in very many things that we did, and I felt like I had no connection with them. Interacting with my children, I hope, will give them a feeling of connection to us, letting them know that we are there for them when they need us.
Payton, how does having your parents involved in your life make you a better person?
Payton: I don’t think I would learn what I need to learn without my parents. They teach me the lessons I need for my future. Like one day I am going to have to raise my own kids, and I couldn’t do that without my parents’ help now.
What family traditions do you have that you can tell me about?
Angie: We just bought an Airstream last year, so we are going to be taking a lot of trips in that. We love to go camping on the weekends, and so we got the Airstream, gutted it out, cleaned it up, and we are excited to take it on some adventures.
What do you enjoy about camping?
Keith: Well, when we are up camping, our family just doesn’t have anything else to get in the way of bonding together. Everything that we do, whether it’s fishing, cooking, or just sitting around the fire, is with our family, and we really enjoy those moments together.
What is one lesson that you hope your children learn from you?
Angie: I would love for my children to be really close to each other. Even when they get older and leave the house, I hope they know how important family is, and that they can still hang out with each other and be friends.
Payton, do you and your sisters get along?
Payton: Well, yeah, for the most part. I mean we have our disagreements (a slight smile forms on Payton’s mouth as she looks at her sister, Reese).
Angie: Payton likes to beat them up.
Payton: Well, sometimes they just need to learn some lessons!
I’m the oldest in my family as well, so I give my brother a hard time. I think it’s a right of being the oldest.
Payton: Exactly! And, you know, it’s not like I’m really beating them up, it’s more like play-fighting where we laugh and have fun.
Angie: But Ireland rules the house. She really does.
Payton: Yeah, that is true.
Angie: I mean, if anyone is in her spot on the couch, she will kick that person right off. And we all know that it’s her spot, so we don’t even mess with her. She is also super specific about the way her blanket has to cover her. The blanket has to be absolutely flat, and if there is one wrinkle in it, someone better go and fix it or she won’t sleep. And she sleeps on the couch, so it is so hard to get her blanket the right way. Just this morning she was crying to me, “Crew’s on my bed!” And I had to tell her, “Ireland, that’s not your bed. That’s a couch.” But she runs the house, so she thinks it’s her bed and everyone else better stay off it (laughs).
“Our youngest is Ireland, and she is three. She runs the house.”
What do you think is the biggest challenge to having a happy family?
Angie: The outside world really influences what children think they need, like the amount of technological things that children “need,” or how many toys children “need,” or how much TV a child “needs” to watch. Those “needs” can really interrupt with the family time that I think children really do need. Ask Payton what she got for her birthday last year.
Payton, what did you get for your birthday last year?
Payton: An iPhone.
Angie: And what do you want for your birthday this year?
Payton: An iPhone 5S (laughs).
Angie: It’s just never-ending (laughs)! There will always be some technological advancement every month or every year that a kid thinks they just have to have. Kids have iPads, iPhones, iPods, and every time a new one of those things come out, kids feel like they need them in order to survive. And I think that keeping up with all of these distractions just takes kids away from being with family.
“Our kids love to paint in the garage.”
So what do you do to keep your family away from those things that can take you away from each other?
Angie: I try to be open with my children. I try to discuss things with them so they know what dangers or distractions are out in the world. I’m a little bit more open with Payton because she is a teenager now…
Keith: No boys yet.
Okay, now I just want to go around the room and ask what all of you kids like about your parents. Reese, let’s start with you.
Reese: I love that they take care of me. And that they make me food.
And Payton, what do you like about your parents?
Payton: I like that they are good examples to me. I can trust them and look up to them, and they are always there to help me through hard times.
Ireland, what do you like about your parents?
Ireland: I don’t know!
Angie: Oh, come on, what do you like about your dad?
Ireland: I don’t know!
Angie: What do you like about your mom?
Ireland: I don’t know again! Umm… Chocolate milk. And noodles.
Angie: She likes when we give her chocolate milk and noodles (laughs).
And Crew, what do you like about your parents?
Crew: I like that they give me kisses… I love you, mom!