Author Archives: texasnorth

About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark.

I am forever sorry.

I.
trail ride

She was almost but not quite to the point of no emotional return. Her horse, Juliet, knew a lightweight when she felt one and took full advantage… stopping to graze whenever she wanted, veering off the beaten path. For 30 minutes, all 48 pounds of Rylie dug deep and pressed on. But then, it was too much. From 2 horses back, I could hear the anxiety in her voice as she commanded Juliet to, “WALK ON. NO GRASS.” I could hear the tears behind the effort, and I knew we were near the end.

Our leader, Jess, encouraged Ry to keep going. I kept Rylie talking about cows and Colorado, cousins and swimming for as long as I could. But after another 15 minutes of stopping and starting, Ry’s eyes had started to leak and her body was slumped in defeat.

Jess grabbed Juliet by the pony-lead and kept the line moving, instructing Ry to hold on to the saddle horn and keep her eyes forward. She wasn’t upset in the least, but I found myself biting my tongue.

I wanted to yell, “I’m sorry!”

“I’m sorry. Some things are really hard for Ry. It’s amazing that she’s doing this! It’s such a huge big amazing thing!”

I wasn’t worried about Rylie. I knew we’d bring her around, that she’d muscle through… I knew she’d do this. But I desperately wanted to explain to our leader and the other two guests.

To the grocery check-out clerk.

To the lifeguard at the pool.

To the other moms on the play ground.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry she’s standing so close. She’s trying to memorize you.

I’m sorry we’re interrupting your lunch.

I’m sorry we’re making your job harder.

I’m sorry.

But the trail didn’t give me the chance that day to lay out the full scene that day. It did give me plenty of time to think, though.

Sometimes ‘I’m sorry’ is really, really important.

And, other times, it cuts life short. ‘I’m sorry’ robs people of their chance to be amazing, to do their job, to show grace, to walk with me.

I think I would rather be thankful than sorry. If we can make it through to the end of the melt down, the ceremony, the trail ride, the dinner… what I’d like to say is, “Thank you.”

Thank you for handling an awkward situation with grace.

Thank you for loving on my family and my child.

Thank you for doing your job well, whether easy or difficult.

Thank you for stepping up to the plate.

Thank you for lending a hand back there.

Thank you for being a great example.

It’s not my job to apologize for every instance of awkward or hard or annoying. Not every time. That’s just life, and we’ve come to expect too little of others… and of ourselves.

But I will, I absolutely will, go out of my way to encourage decency and beauty and simple effort. Because we’ve gotten a little low on that end, too, amen? So, call it when you see it. ‘Thank you’ doesn’t have to be anything but sincere. No flowers or extra tips or hand-lettered gift tags. The simplest effort with the greatest impact is your voice, your brave and shaky voice, stopping for two seconds, making eye-contact, and saying, “thank you,” out loud.

I’m on it.

P.S. Rylie? That girl finished a 2-hour trail ride on her own horse in the mountains of Colorado. We did not have to turn around. We did not have to get off the trail. We just had to make a few adjustments. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing.

II.

summer 2014

For years and years, kind friends and family and even strangers have asked if there’s any kind of donation collection for Miss Rylie Joy. The answer has always been no. We use state-provided therapy for speech and occupational/physical and what the state doesn’t cover, we pay out-of-pocket. Out of pocket expenses have been specialist evaluations, equine therapy, music therapy, and other doctors that insurance just hasn’t come on board with as of this century. Rylie walks unassisted and was blessed with an iPad for school-use… so there aren’t really any big, huge, amazing things that we’d love to have to make life easier.

BUT.

There is one thing that would make life super fun: a bike. And, not just any bike… a cool tricycle with a basket and brakes that are easy to use. A tricycle that doesn’t scream ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT! CHILD WITH IMPAIRED MOTOR DEVELOPMENT ON BOARD! A tricycle that would allow Rylie Joy to ride with her friends and be the super-cool seven-year-old that she is… .while giving her a little more time to work on the balance aspect of two wheels. A tricycle would let her body practice the braking and starting and stopping without mastering balance at the same time (a perfect storm of overwhelmed-ness for most kids… Ry especially).

I want to buy Rylie a bike.

And I want to know if you’ll help me?

They aren’t cheap. And then you have to ship them. And then you need a helmet and OF COURSE a bell and streamers. But beyond the price of the thing… there’s the magic of simply coming together as a community of friends and pitching in $10 or $20 or $300 or $2.50 and making a sum larger than the parts… of doing it together because we can. You have cheered this girl on since before she took her first steps. What a joy it would be to give her a brand-new, shiny, YOU CAN ACTUALLY RIDE THIS bike- not on her birthday, not on Christmas, but on a random, ordinary, perfect day.

It’s a risk, I know. It’s not absolutely necessary and it’s not saving the world. It’s just something beautiful and fun and helpful for our girl. Honestly, that’s not something I want to do alone. It’s kind of too big for me… and I’m not talking about price. I’m talking about holding happiness. It’s meant to spill over and be shared.

So, do it with me.

If you’re in, head here:

Or share this link: http://www.gofundme.com/hotwheelsforrylie

I’m not sorry for asking.

I am so incredibly excited to say THANK YOU. Thank you for loving on my girl in this remarkable, tangible, memory-making way.


It is finished.

The 2014 calving season, that is. Presenting…

TXN’s Oso Special

TXN Oso Special

We are in Colorado right now, staying at a place called Oso… which we thought was pretty appropriate for a name.

When your family is out of town, make sure you bring in an extra-special farm-sitter that is not afraid to take stealth photos of new baby calves. Safari had her first calf sometime last night, and we’re all pretty sure it’s a girl. Renae mentioned that Safari didn’t seemed bothered at all that she was taking photos of her rear for identification purposes. I, personally, would be completely offended.

For those of you counting, that makes 7 boys and 2 girls this season.

If you remember from this post, we took a poll as to what we thought the last three calves would be.

We finished with 2 girls and 1 boy.

There were 9 correct guesses (of those who left their name in a comment on the poll or in the blog comments). My niece grabbed AMBER’S name out of those winners… so you get a free shirt, Love! Just let me know what size.

Hope y’all have a fabulous weekend! We leave out of here Saturday morning and will drive through the night back to Michigan. Prayers for safety and sanity always appreciated.

 


in a blink

Each child attending the High County Stampede Rodeo Saturday night received a little horse on a key chain. Abby June thinks it’s magic. She holds it so carefully, and talks to it while she eats her lunch. She sets in down gently before she eats and she tucks it in bedside her at night. A girl and her horse.

I managed to capture some of the magic in the photo below… and, once I transferred it and saw it on the computer monitor, it made me immediately think of another time someone held something so dear in just the same way with just the same sweet voice.

horse

In September of 2002, I drove from San Diego, California to Grand Rapids, Michigan in my little red truck pulling a heavy-laden u-haul. My co-pilot from Cali to Denver was my boss, idol, and dear friend Heidi. We stopped the first night in Vegas, after overheating somewhere near Bakersfield (but that is another story for another day). The second night we slept to somewhere near the Grand Canyon. I lost a tennis shoe out of the back of the truck on the way there… I do still believe there is a deer in those woods with a Saucony trainer on his antlers.

I can see all these photos in my head as I remember the trip… they’re all on real film in boxes I haven’t transferred to cds yet. 

The third day we drove through Zion, by far my favorite of our stops. Someday, we’ll do that trip again and spend all our time there instead of tourist-trap hopping. We took the shuttle to the trailhead and then hiked our way down the river, stopping to pose on various mid-stream rocks and admire the view along the way. We had only a day. One beautiful, warm, sunny day.

At lunch, we stopped in the tall grass and began to pull out our food. Just then, absolutely then, Heidi found a tiny little tree frog. You who know Heidi will be able to picture what follows, but I will do my best for the rest of you. She was absolutely thrilled. She was enchanted. She was in love. She scooped him up and held him high and danced with him in the sunlight. She brought him close and whispered that he was beautiful and very precious to her heart. (She did.) And I laughed and cheered and twirled along.

Heidi set him in back in the grass and wished him well. Be well! Be happy! 

It was at the very second… that very millisecond… that very split-hair of time after the sweet frog prince got his footing in the grass again… that a large shadow swooped down from above, grabbed the frog, and took him up to the tree above.

Where he was eaten.

The hawk ate the frog. 

And we cried.

The End

 


progress

PikesPeak

Five years ago, I watched Rylie sit on the steps of the gym pool. I silently begged her to get in, to splash around, to jump in with improper form and her hand holding her nose. But, she only wanted to sit. After a few minutes, the echo of the room was too much and we left, but not before her hands were clamped tightly over her ears and her body was a wet noodle of distress.

Four years ago, I took Rylie to a junior high basketball game. We had just made it to the opposite side of the gym when the buzzer went off signaling a time-out and Ry turned ghost-white. We cheered from outside the double-doors, but not before 2 more buzzers and me carrying a terrified, sobbing child back through the crowd.

Three years ago, I took Rylie to the zoo. We saw as much as we could and then stopped for snacks and a potty break. Three years ago, those crazy Dyson hand dryers were a new and fabulous invention… but no one expected the jet-engine flow of air to be triggered every time someone opened the bathroom door to stand in line. Parents and children, typical and special needs, terrified and annoyed… we all left. Immediately.

Some of this sensory and speech life is so predictable. You prepare for it, you bring extra snacks, you board last, you use key words, and sometimes your day resembles typical. But there are always the surprises you can’t account for. The perfect storm of tired, hungry, and scared that elevates a tantrum into a breakdown. The highway of emotions that has no exit. The effect that has no cause. The constant battle for solid ground. You find yourself afraid of grocery stores and potential traffic jams, circuses and cracks in the sidewalk outside your door. What will break today? 

Last week, I watched Rylie splashing in water up to her shoulders. The pool was sloped and she lost her footing. As a friend and I sprinted to the edge ready to jump in, we watched as Rylie took a deep breath and started kicking furiously. She made it to the side without our help and without panicking. Once on dry land, she cried… because it was scary. But she cried for 5 minutes. We didn’t have to leave. We didn’t have to sit in a dark room. We just had to take a break and redefine the boundaries. Rylie went right back in.

Today, Rylie rode with us up a mountain for an hour and then back down again. The return trip was full of thunder and lightening and a road without a guard rail. Instead of hiding on the floor of our van and shaking with anxiety, she searched for light in the sky and scanned the hills for sheep. Her hands were still over her ears, but there were no tears, no wailing, no panic.

Tomorrow, I will take Rylie back to that same zoo and, no doubt, we will have to stop for a potty break.

I’m not afraid.

She’s not growing out of her challenges.

She’s growing into herself.

She still breaks down every day. She still choose physical over emotional strength. She still, at age 7, speaks at a 2-year old level. She still hates hand dryers and random buzzers. But she knows her limits a lot better now, and so do I. So much is still unknown,

but I am not afraid and she is not going to break.

And that is progress.


as long as she’s healthy

R&K

 

AS LONG AS SHE’S HEALTHY.

That’s all we want. It is the mantra of every parent-to-be. We don’t care whether it’s boy or girl, we just want him or her to be healthy.

Our entire vocabulary shifted when Rylie Joy turned 20-months. She was healthy, yes, but she was not typical. She was functional, yes, but she was not thriving. She was perfectly fine, but she wasn’t. Was she healthy?

My first concerns were school and independence and long-term capacity for speech and learning. Seven years into this journey, I find that my prayers have changed. I can do therapy drills and we can alter medications. We can drive to appointments and we can monitor food intake. There is actually so much that can be done to assist the health of our children.

What I cannot do is make another child love my child, and it is the ache of my heart for her to be safe outside the farm gates. Somewhere after the grief of diagnosis and the passion of therapy to increase quality of life, my priorities changed from wanting better test results to knowing her heart was safe.

As long as she is loved.

Please let her be known and be loved.

[This is not the end! I’m so blessed to be a guest over at Making Us Whole today. Please click over to read the rest of the story.]


game changers

These tips will be old news to many of you… but they’ve absolutely changed my life in the past month and I am mad at all of you who knew before and didn’t tell me. My whole world is different now.

1. Labelled Alarms on iPhone • So, a sweet friend taught me last summer that I could just yell to Siri to set my alarms and that has been fantastic. Siri, turn on my 6:30am alarm. Done. Fabulous. THEN, I learned I could change my alarms to SONGS to trigger specific duties. Abby is now programmed to yell, “TIME A-GET RYLIE!” when she hears the Indigo Girls’ Closer to Fine at 3:32pm on weekdays. But then I’d have a few regular alarms (set to Mumford’s I Will Wait- the intro to that song will make anyone stand at attention) and I’d have no idea for the first 30 seconds what I was supposed to be remembering or who I was supposed to be driving where. A song would just randomly start playing and if Abby didn’t yell, I was lost. Time to make this smart phone work for me.

Sure enough, you can label your alarms. SERIOUSLY. Now my alarm goes off, MY PHONE TELLS ME WHY, and I know if I’m supposed to head to the bus stop or simply sit a pray while listening to Patty. Genius.

Again, mad at all of you for not telling me.

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2. Guided Access on iPhone and iPad • Here’s an official tutorial link because I can’t take screen shots of this awesomeness.

Ok, THIS ONE. Yes. Our kiddos love to look at the photos and videos on our phones (though, I am told this works on iPads as well). Within seconds, their sweet lil’ fingers have pressed the wrong button and they’ve deleted a month’s worth of photos or exited out of the game or changed the language to Swedish. Unhelpful. Also, annoying.

Guided access TURNS OFF THE HOME BUTTON and disables any other part of the screen you choose. You triple-click the home button to activate guided access on any page. To exit, you have to triple-click again and enter a password.

Katie’s tip: make sure you lock your phone to portrait orientation. That’s the button on the far right with the padlock in the center. This makes your screen stay in portrait mode even when your kids tip it on the side (like, when they want to watch a video and hold the phone like a tv screen). This keeps all of your off-limits areas actually off limits. For example: when you’re looking at photos, the trash can is in the lower right-hand corner. I’ve cropped that area out on guided access. The kids cannot delete any of my photos. BUT, if the orientation is not locked and they can turn the phone on its side, the trash can becomes available again. Lock it.

orientation

So, this has lots of applications, obviously… but the main idea here is that it keeps your kids on one screen and makes certain areas (that you choose) off limits. Love.

And there you have it. favorite features from a new-ish (one year) smart phone user.

What else have I been missing?

 


stitch fix #5 & 6

ssff1

Ahem.

I did so very much think I was going to stop my Stitch Fixes for a wee bit… maybe until spring… but I forgot the first time and then the second time we were out of town when it arrived and I dunno what happened but I have 2 new bags and 7 new pieces of clothing. SERIOUSLY. It just keeps getting better and better, even with different stylists each time.

It’s clear they are checking my responses and looking at the pinterest board I keep updated for styles and specific pieces I like. They make note of it in the quick letter they send and they are matching items up with previous pieces I’ve kept. Slick.

How it works:

Stitch Fix is an online, at-home personal shopper. You fill out a detailed survey about styles and fit and preferences. You schedule a date. They mail you a beautifully wrapped box with 5 items, which can include jewelry, accessories like scarves and bags, shirts, pants, skirts, shorts, and jackets. You can also opt OUT of any of these items. I requested no jewelry and no outerwear, for example.  You have 3 business days to try on the items in your box, checkout online, and return anything you’re not geeked about. They provide a paid envelope and all you do it drop it in the mail. If you keep all 5 items in your box, there’s a 25% discount on your total. Each box costs you $20, but that $20 is credited towards anything you decide to keep. So, as long as there’s one thing in the box you love, you’re not out any money. Saavy?

Stitch Fix #5

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After Fix #4, I asked for them to lean more bohemian and they listened. This was the first time I received a bag in one of my boxes. It was a nice change and I kept the purse since I was due for something smaller than a diaper bag. If you’ve seen me in the last month, you’ve seen me wearing this Mystree Thea Chevron shirt and carrying this Street Level Rooney bag. The cross body strap for the bag was immediately confiscated by my four-year-old, and I’ve not seen it since.

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I also kept this navy Pomelo Shana dress. SUCH A GREAT PHOTO. Sorry. The embroidery has pops of baby pink in it and the length was just right. Fabulous for summer church.

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Stitch Fix #6

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Fix #6 sent me another bag, this time HUGE as opposed to “day-sized.” It will be a great carry on option or beach bag or Meijer Garden purse when I need to carry 400 snacks. I love it. The Gilli Alenna dress is identical to a Garnett Hill dress I pinned a couple weeks ago. It’s super soft and double lined on the top… very nice quality and made in the USA.

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Abby and Rylie wanted in on these photo ops… I will not apologize for them. This is neither a fashion nor photo blog and their subject tends to talk a lot.

Here’s the Promesa Maxi paired with the gray Market & Spruce Hi-Lo tee. The shirt has a lower hemline in the back and the fabric is to die for… otherwise, a completely normal shirt. BUT. This box ended up being a home run- 5 for 5, and it would have been more expensive to return the shirt and pay full price for the other items than to keep it. Not a difficult choice on my end.

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Finally, I loved and kept the Under Skies Sweater Tank. The current space-dyed trend is not really my thing, but the tank is a dark navy and white and completely different than anything else in my closet without scaring me. It was a nice change. It’s also has a boho, crocheted feel to it… stretchy. Again, different and good.

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And now you’re all caught up.

Have you tried it? Do you love it?

[Stitch Fix did not pay me for this review. I signed up because a friend referred me, and I paid for the clothing myself. That friend who referred me received a $25 credit to her stitch fix account when I received my first box. If you use this link and follow-through with your own first box, I will receive a credit as well AND I’ll be your best friend.] 

stitch fix 1 review

stitch fix #2, 3, & 4 review


uncommon grace

grow

The garden is beginning to bloom. The rain has soaked the ground and pushed life out of the dry seeds I planted a month ago.

Once again, I find myself amazed. Granted, all I did was sow the seed… but He took even that small act and made a miracle of it.

How is it that these hands- these hands that bruise and wring and flail- how can these be the same hands that sow life? That bring sound to celebration and wipe sorrow away?

And this mouth? How can this mouth wail and cut short and boom like thunder… how can that same mouth sing requiems and breath life and build spirits?

My ears can hear hidden daggers, decipher sarcasm, and harbor memories of tone. But these ears make sentences out of a child’s few words, these ears hear history in a voice on a record, and these ears search out the smallest hint of mirth.

These feet? They stomp in anger and run in fear or even stand idle and cemented… but yet dance and run like lightening to rescue or wander bare through tall grass.

These eyes can kill or they can literally overflow with joy and grief.

How can one body, one soul, be capable of so much? And how do we balance the tension of being imperfect made by perfection? I know I was made for more, by More, and yet I choose less almost every time.

By Grace and grace alone. We are both fearfully and wonderfully made.

Every time I have the option, let me choose to do good. By faith and by grace, let me use what I have for Good.


elliot

I found this quote yesterday and had to write it down. Not just pin it or screenshot it, but actually find my pen and a piece of paper and write it down. That, in itself, was its own kind of therapy. That my phone’s camera ombre-d the paper was a happy accident. All-in-all, an excellent 10 seconds in my life.

We are home from 9 nights of tent-camping in Sleeping Bear Dunes. In the past 10 years, I think we’ve missed one year of camping over the 4th of July there. It’s a well-beaten path for this family. Before that, the 3 kiddos were with my folks in Texas. And before that, we were all in Cleveland for my grandmother’s funeral. Including last night, the kids have slept in their own beds twice in the past month. They clapped when we pulled into the driveway last night. Abby yelled, “This is mine’s house?!”

Yes, love. We are home.

I have struggled more than usual lately with my summer writer’s block. Once I get off-track, I get really off-track. My voice and my heart seem to be… wandering. I started keeping this online journal 9 years ago this month (July 2005. OH MY LANTA). I do so very much still need to write. And the structure of a self-imposed twice-a week “schedule” keeps me somewhat focused. It makes me show up. I am continually trying to remember to leave the seeds in the soil and quit worrying about how they’ll grow.

I just… well, I just need to catch my breath.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

While we’re catching up, let me give you a quick update on our calf situation:

We’ve had 2 of the 3 babies since June 2nd. Abigail had a (gorgeous) boy and Lindy (dear, sweet, Lindy) had a GIRL! We’re just waiting on Safari wt have her calf and then I’ll draw for the winner of the free t-shirt. If you’ve already ordered your t-shirts but haven’t received them yet, they’ll be in the mail this week. I’ll be putting in an order for a second batch of shirts early next week, so let me know if you want to jump on that bandwagon.

See you Thursday, rain or shine.


a letter to my parents

Hey, party people!

Well, it’s been a week. How are you doing? You sound tired when I call you, but that’s probably what I sound like when you call me ALL THE TIME. I understand. Zone-parenting is hard. Three kids is a lot of kids. Three Mulder kids is maybe too many, but who would you trade? It changes by the minute.

I know. 

g&a

You’ve probably noticed by now that Gideon hates to change his clothes, Rylie needs to know what’s for dinner as soon as she wakes up, and absolutely NOTHING Abby says is true. Nothing.

If there is a map of the zoo, the grocery store, the park, Rylie would like two copies. If Ry wants a copy, then Gus does, too. If Gideon wants or says anything, Abby does twice as much or twice as loud.

I realized halfway home from Cleveland that I forgot to put the Frozen dvd in your van.

You’re welcome.

Have you bee productive? I mean, have you gotten the mail each day? Taken a shower? Fed the animals? I have. It’s insane, the amount of productivity possible without 87 questions and sticky hands at every turn. I’m finished with all my chores by 8:17 every morning and sometimes just go back to bed.

On the other hand, Curt and I are simply not as cute without our kids. People don’t smile at us as often. They CERTAINLY allow Gus to steal more candy from the bulk aisle in the grocery store than they allow me. My camera roll is empty because nobody cute is doing anything dangerous or messy or funny. Abe is sleeping out in the wide open living room- unafraid of nerf bullets, couch-jump-landings, or doggie-dentist imaginary play. Things are clearly out of control here.

It’s ridiculous. 

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In other words, our kids are amazing. They make us come alive. We are so incredibly thankful or the rest these kids-only visits provide. LORD KNOWS, we needed the rest. Also, it rained and thundered and lightening-ed like Armageddon here whilst you were away- so thank you for saving our sanity from 2am children wanting to build an ark. But, we’re ready to see our punks again, to hear them laugh, and to have someone to blame for the dirt and confusion.

Please pack them up as best you can and head to St. Louis tomorrow. I’ll meet you there and send you on your way. I’m sure it will take most of the trip back to Texas to stop the ringing in your ears.

You are amazing, brave, loving, and perfect grandparents.

Drive safe.

Love,

your favorite daughter

Past CAMP SEBECK trips for our kiddos:

Ry in 2011

Ry and Gideon in 2012

Ry and Gideon in 2013