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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Katrina!

While everyone else is thinking about the big election today, I've got my daughter on my mind because today is her 22nd birthday.  The year she turned 18 election day was on November 4th and she was devastated to be so close but unable to vote.  At the polling place this morning I held open the door for a young mother pushing a stroller and I was also reminded of the day I first voted in 1992 because I was pushing Katrina in a stroller myself.  Today Katrina is driving to St. Cloud, Minnesota to look into a grad school program...she's come a long way!

First sheep encounter....
..but not her last sheep encounter!
I've talked about Katrina and her adventures at college a few times on my blog, and the funny thing is while she is still the same girl in a lot of ways, in other ways she's the complete opposite of her childhood self.   As a baby she was usually content and eager to laugh to and play.  As she grew older she was unfailingly sweet and kind, especially to her little brother but also to the other children I took care of and her friends.

For the most part she enjoyed quiet activities like reading and playing dress-up, and when she went to school she was eager to make new friends, but also very shy. She was also a little nervous about trying new things that seemed a little scary, but we supported her and encouraged her to keep spreading her wings and facing her fears.

Meeting Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea at Irishfest in Milwaukee was a big deal!
 Joining 4-H was a turning point for Katrina.  4-H helped develop her confidence, and it wasn't long before she discovered she had a knack for helping and leading others.  At the age of 12 she was elected president of her club, and she learned a lot from the responsibilities that the club leader gave her.  4-H isn't all agendas and Robert's Rules of Order, and she made friends and had a lot of fun both at the club and at the county level.  I'm so grateful that we found 4-H because it helped her blossom into the confident young women that she is today.

goofy fashion for the Looking Good project
rainy County Fair day
The Cat Project was her favorite, she was a Youth leader at the county level and helped the judges one year, too.
Music wasn't her strongest area but she enjoyed participating in MusicFest.  When it doesn't come easy that gives us strength to keep trying new things! Learning dance steps along with singing carried over to her figure skating, which she also worked hard at during her early teen years.

The other skill that she took away from 4-H was acting through their annual Dramafest competition.  She participated a couple of times, and after leaving 4-H she eventually auditioned for local community theater through The Haylofters in Burlington.  Whether working backstage, acting onstage, or directing the children's production of Wizard of Oz one year, she enjoyed it all.

Katrina as Emma Duckworth in The Haylofters' production of Bus Stop
All these early experiences, along with homeschooling, gave her a strong sense of purpose and of who she wanted to become.  She chose Women's Studies as a major and Sociology as her minor in college, and along with her classes she participates in UWEC College Democrats and has acted as president for Advocates for Choice and the College Freethought Society.  Social issues are very important to her, and she has also interned at Planned Parenthood and a local women's shelter.  She's a senior this year and is eager to embark on a career helping others through employment in a non-profit organization.

It's the sense of enthusiasm, caring for others and big heart that has remained unchanged all these years.  She's had her share of obstacles: schoolyard bullies and adult figures who disappointed her with their lack of good judgment and leadership, but through it all she's retained her optimism and her determination.  Anyone who knows her is lucky to have the opportunity to see the world through her eyes, the world she is determined to help make a better place for others.

Today is my Katrina's birthday, and while I sometimes miss my little girl who danced around singing PBS songs in her nightgown I'm also happy to have such an inspiring adult daughter.  There's a possibility that I might be working less hours soon, and as I left the polling place this morning and watched that mother loading her kids into the car I contemplated how I might help others in my community if I have more time on my hands.  On her birthday she's given me a gift: I want to be like Katrina when I grow up!


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your daughter! She sounds like an outstanding young lady. I have a 22-year old daughter too (her B-day was in March) and I'm so very proud of her.

  2. Yes, I must agree with Linda W. that was a beautiful tribute to your daughter. She is also very lucky to have you as her mom, one that helps her to continue to grow and be the best lady she can. ~Deb