Category Archives: Abby June

holding hands


Let’s take a walk to the creek, I said…

and all three said yes.

So, we played in the magic of a late afternoon- in mud and in sunshine and in peace. We played until the breeze turned cold and the sun threatened to disappear… and then we turned toward the Blue House again.

The littlest called out to me from way behind,

Wait! Wait. I want to hold your hand! I just like to hold your hand.

And so I waited while her little barefoot feet inched their way over rocks and sticker-weed, finally making their way to me. And, I held her hand.

I love you, she said. I love you because you hold my hand even when it is dirty… even when I am dirty and muddy and messy, you hold my hand.

And that, dear ones, that is as close to the Gospel story as you will ever find here in this broken world.

Oh, what grace to have played a part in it.



AJM and the bunny

She is yelling at me.

She is always yelling, in her way… our Little General. It is how she can be heard above her brother (who has never met a sound effect he didn’t like at full-volume), her sister (who has trouble with syntax but not chatter), and every other large and small distraction on this farm. She is loud and succinct.


“ABBY,” I say, calmly but with the aggravation of a mother who has nothing left to give. “ABBY. WHAT DO YOU NEED?”


Now, Abby is short. SHORT. And, we are all constantly reaching and lifting and leaning her in the direction she wants to go… to get wherever she is certain she needs to be. She bellowing from the bathroom, so I assume she cannot reach the sink (again). Or cannot get off the counter. Or the potty.

“COME GET YOU WHAT, dearest? WHAT do you need? Can you ASK me instead of yelling at me?” I lecture as I make my way down the hall.

I turn and stand in the threshold. She is sitting on the side of the tub- fully clothed, unharmed, and unfazed.

“Why have you been yelling for 5 minutes? You’re fine. What do you want?”

I jus’ wanted you.

“You wanted me to what?”

I jus’ wanted YOU- to come get me.

I want you to hold me.

And so, I did.

Habit has convinced me that I am no more than a longer pair of arms or the one who knows how to zip the coats. That I am the cook and the driver and the finder of lost things. The go-between. The chaperone and mediator for this little girl and this great big world.

The link… to everything else.

But, sometimes… SOMETIMES… I am the very thing she wants.

And, that is sunshine on the grayest of days.


Dearest Abby June,

Today, you have completed 3 cycles around the sun. If you aren’t the best thing to ever happen to this little family, I’ll eat my hat.IMG_5655

You are 34 and a half inches tall… not yet to where Gideon and Ry were when they turned 2. TWO! Our little Half Pint. You’d be lucky to break 25 pounds, but you carry a quick right jab to make up for anything. You are painfully shy with strangers but fearless with frogs, 4-wheelers, trampolines, hills, tractors, busses, candy, chickens, ornery yearling calves, and wood stoves. Brave. You are brave. You are potty trained (again). You know your colors and your numbers and most of the make and models of our neighbors’ cars. You eat only pancakes and noodles and cereal (nothing has changed since last year… your word is CONSISTENT). You will not wear dresses and have to be in a good mood to wear shirts without pockets. You can dress yourself, including zipping your coat. You are, we have always said, the Little General. You are the child I worry the least about. You have largely raised yourself… I cannot take credit for the awesomeness we see on a daily basis.


Thursday last, I left a choir concert early with your sister (You won’t remember this, but she puked. SHE PUKED AT HER CONCERT). We were sad to miss the live nativity, and I asked you to sneak the miniature donkey into Dad’s car on the way home. The next morning we had this conversation (keep in mind that I, your 37-year-old mother, am in red and you, still clinging to 2, are in black):

Did you bring me my donkey?

No, I did not.

Why not?!

You haft have money and buy one.

I don’t have any money!

Then you needa ask your dad.

But my dad is not here!

Well, he will be on Sunday.

Child, you have the craziest handle on language this family has ever seen. You’ve been talking for a year, and are fluent in humor, sarcasm, and passive-aggressive suggestions. Our conversations have become the stuff of legends online and certainly brighten the Michigan gray around here. I am constantly forgetting that I am speaking to a minor.

You are an unapologetic fibber. A liar. A student of the untruth. Abby! I say, Do you have chocolate in your mouth? Is that brown candy dripping out of your face at 7am in the morning? And without hesitation, you will answer NO every time. Every time, Child.

IMG_6263I just cannot get enough of you.

I do love you. What’s more, I like you. I would hang out with you even if you weren’t my child. A hundred times a day, Girl, you save me.



Abby is 2. (my favorite)

Abby is 1.

Abby is born.

tiny kingdoms

What do you think your gifts are? Your spiritual gifts? she asked with a broad smile. How are you specially equipped to further the Kingdom? Fill out these forms and we’ll help you find your place, your comfort zone.

I look at her and wonder if my skills can even be measured. If there is a chart for my particular brand of talents.

Every day I am out of my comfort zone.

My place is here.

I am building tiny kingdoms.

Dressing little bodies.

Monitoring little bodies dressing themselves.

Protecting little bodies who undress themselves.

I am the chief Completor of Forms. The holder of medical records. The one with the key to the birth certificates.

I am the builder of bridges, ramps, garages, and rockets. I make houses and barns and tents. I divide supplies equally over tyrannical consumers, and I supervise the demolition of a day’s hard work.

I dress American Girl dolls with speed and efficiency.

I am the monitor of snacks and the keeper of sugar. I pour the milk that is too full for little hands. I open the Ft. Knox wrappers of granola bars and cheese sticks and juice box straws.

I remember where I last saw the beloved bear or baby. I know all the secret hiding places for the one missing shoe. Why is it always the same one?

I am the only one who can be trusted to buckle and unbuckle bicycle helmets.

My kiss magically heals wounds and quiets tears.

I am a master of fitting thumbs into mittens, tiny toes into boots, and hats on frantically moving heads.

I know who wants honey on a bagel, nutella on a sandwich, and jelly-no-peanut-butter on half a slice folded over. I know these things.

These… THESE are my spiritual gifts.


My gifts don’t transfer especially well to the Real World, but they hold my little people- my tiny kingdoms- together.

Is it not spiritual to be able to decipher a cry for help from a scream for joy? Am I not equipped for battle with grace and laughter and discipline… and more than a few tears along the way?

I am not always a grateful bearer of Truth, a kind giver of gifts, a silent hand of encouragement. I am usually looking for instead of handing out. I am simply not ready to be more things to people beyond my own gates. The tiny kingdoms are still stretching my time and my talents.

Someday, I will graduate or expand to sharpening the more traditional spiritual gifts, and I will be useful in different ways. But for now,

Every day, I am out of my comfort zone.

And yet, my place is here.

Building tiny kingdoms.

And to you, too crazy to make a meal from scratch right now, too overwhelmed to take a walk at night, too behind on laundry to fold AND put away… too tired to write blogs, too unscheduled to bring a meal to an acquaintance, too walking-a-fine-line to reach out- to you: You are not alone. Do the next thing. Just, the very next thing. That’s all you have to do. Eventually, you will be given more. More time, more sleep, more capacity. But for now, just do the next thing in your tiny kingdom. It is enough.

the baby

Rylie Joy (7) taught me to be a mom. She redefined normal and changed all the filters on our life. Gideon James (4) is the toughest, sweetest, most ridiculous child I’ve ever met. His name is generally spoken and spelled in ALL CAPS for a reason.

Then there’s Abby.

She is her own whole book of awesome.

Abby June Mulder is our third and final (biological– hey, who knows?) child. She turned 2 just before Christmas.

summer 2014

Shortly after the New Year, Abby decided she wanted to potty train. Within a couple days, we were home-free and she wore a diaper only while sleeping. There weren’t even undies small enough to fit her tiny little chubby buns. But, she was all about it. She would stop herself while playing and run to the bathroom. She would tell the nursery worker at church she needed a potty break. She would hold it all through grocery shopping and errands. Curt and I high-fived each other- we were almost finished with diapers.

Three months later, Abby June Mulder (as she calls herself) decided she’d had enough of the responsible life. It started slowly… a little leak whilst playing outside. Then a full-blown accident right in the living room. THEN a test for the babysitter who put her diaper on wrong. And then, THEN y’all… the poo. She started skipping the potty and “painting” instead.

I heard her downstairs, absolutely not taking a nap. I gave her 20 minutes and then went down to have a little chat. The smell met me before I even got through the door. Abby June Mulder was hiding behind the curtain in her window seat, completely naked and covered in gross.

“I don’t want a spankin’,” she said quietly.

“I’m not going to give you a spankin’,” I replied evenly. “You’re going to help me clean this up and then I’m going to give you a shower.”

“I am sorry,” she said, without a hint of remorse.

When I returned with a bucket and some water, I flipped on the light and surveyed the damage. She had painted the window. The window seat. The curtains. The wooden treasure chest. The door knob. And everything I hadn’t noticed the first time I walked in. Everything. Lawd, everything.

ABBY JUNE! I yelled. “What in the world, Child? This is the third time you’ve done this! You totally know how to go to the potty. I know you do. This is YUCKY and this is NOT FUN. I absolutely do not understand what is going on with you.”

She lifted her chin and squinted her beautiful, hazel eyes.

“I did say sorry.” 

And that, friends, in a nutshell is our Abby June. Twenty-five pounds of the most brilliant, dramatic, street-smart, guarded, gorgeous life to ever grace this farm. She is everything I would ever want my child to be- at 18 or older: confident, independent, daring, hilarious, tough as nails, and a really decent singer.

Lord, please help me be smarter than my children for just a little bit longer.

And Lord, I pray for the hearts and egos of the boys who will love- and likely lose- Abby in the future. She is in a league of her own.

Also? Thanks.

oh, sweet girl

This winter dern near killed us all.

Then spring came and it was 60 degrees and we put the trampoline up and frolicked in the green grass.

And then we went to bed and woke up to a surprise blanket of white.

It did not go over well.


Oh, sweet girl Abby June Mulder. Our lives would not be the same without you.


because you asked

For every time I’ve said no, there have been 10 tiny yeses. 

because you asked, I will stay just a little longer

because you asked, I will wash your feet in the kitchen sink

because you asked, you are allowed to ride your race car bike, your scooter, your tricycle through the house and around the island around the island around the island this ridiculous winter

because you asked, we will have pancakes for dinner

because you asked, you may say the grace at dinner and thank the Lord for pencils

because you asked, you can wear my heels with your elephant jammies

because you asked, we will find videos on helicopters (again)

because you asked, we will risk emotional armageddon at 4pm on a school day and head to the bookstore to buy your first Bible

because you asked, I will call Dad so you can hear his voice

because you asked, you may have cake for breakfast

because you asked

You will ask for millions of things in your lifetime. I won’t always have this magical power to make your whims and dreams come true… but for now,

ask me another.

Lent, the 40 days of observation and remembrance before Easter, begins on Wednesday. This year I’m going to actively search for meaning and promise instead of waiting for and expecting it to find me.

There will be no regular Monday & Thursday posting here throughout Lent. Instead, I’ll tell my own story of Lent through pictures, following these word-prompts beautifully curated by

Join me?



P.S. #26? Laetare? It means rejoice. REJOICE!

concerning Tuesday afternoon

abby june, 2


This girl.

Tuesday afternoon found all three children buckled in seat beats and the van headed toward downtown. Ry had a doctor’s appointment. It was after school, after lunch, and the complete witching hour. You hear me, yes? Ry’s hair looks like she’s been in a street fight, Gideon is wearing a fireman’s jacket that reads FIRE CHIEF in reflective lettering over his blue and yellow spiderman pants, and Abby is dressed like a dwarf eskimo complete with fur-lined hood. It’s approximately -42˚outside.

So it may come as a surprise to when I tell you that we arrived at at the office on time and in decent spirits. I had to thwart an undercover mission to open the fake but absolutely enormous presents under the square’s 30-foot Christmas tree, but even still- no tears. As we entered the building, the kids immediately begged to ride the elevator up.

And why not? I thought. We’re the last appointment of the day. There’s no one else here. What could go wrong? Sure enough: we, the most beautiful in all the land of East Grand Rapids, arrive on the second floor in style and without incident.

We check in and 3 seconds before it’s our turn Abby announces she’d like to go potty. One family field trip down the hall and we return with a commando 2-year old in pink velour. She had successfully navigated the potty but threw her nap time diaper in the trash without warning because, “Me no need dis! I’s a big girl!”  Who am I to argue with a Half Pint that’s had only 2 accidents in 2 weeks of “training?” The big girl undies were in my purse in the waiting room, though, so naked buns was the only way to go.

Do you have a clear picture of what I’m dealing with here?

The appointment goes well. All the children make it through without breaking anything, and Abby organizes the office desk before we leave.

Y’all. This girl.

An hour after our initial arrival, we are certainly the last people in the building as the good doctor slips out the back door and we head to the elevator. We land on the first floor with a giggly bump and my children pour out of the silver doors. Abby has not gotten to push a button yet, though… she’s the littlest and other hands in our house are still much quicker. Not to worry, for on her way out of the shaft she nonchalantly hits the CALL/FIRE/PHONE button and leaves without looking back.


[I frantically hit the button again. Surely this will cancel it.]

[I can hear my children planning Phase 2 of the Christmas Tree Caper at the glass doors. We could just leave, I think. RUN. But no. Firetrucks will come and I’ll be on the evening news and Abby has no undies on. Ringing. There is a telephone ringing now through the elevator control panel.]

“Abby!” I yell in exasperation.

She is young and still comes when I call. Now Ry and Gideon debate the contents of the (fake) presents under the (enormous) Christmas tree while Abby and I stand in the elevator. I am holding my finger on the DOOR OPEN button.

Surefire Security. Hello?” I hear.

Abby’s eyes get huge as she presses her face up to the button console.

“I’m so sorry! False alarm! We’re ok!” I gasp.

Ma’am? Is there an emergency? Who am I speaking with?”

DIS ABBY!” [dear little tiny baby jesus in the manger]

“No! I’m so sorry. No. There is no emergency. There IS a 2-year old, though.”

Ma’am? Did your elevator arrive safely?”


And you are able to exit?”

DOORS OPEN!” Abby yells.

“Yes, ma’am. Everything is fine. Thank you.”

No problem. I’ll cancel the call. Have a nice evening.”


Y’all. This child.

I take a deep breath, gather my eskimo, my fire chief superhero, and my street fighter, and we leave. We leave and treat ourselves (no meltdowns! no potty accidents! no news crews!) to cake pops from Starbucks. I need my hands to stop shaking before I can drive, and that is the truth of the matter.

Abby, of course, serenades the small bistro with a raging rendition of HAPPY BIRD DAY TO YOU and I assume our time of Divine protection is rapidly coming to a close. Thirty-seconds later, we are all safely buckled and headed North to the farm- away from doctors and elevator and witnesses.

Upon pulling into the driveway, Abby announces:

Me Abby. I’m TWO!

Y’all. This girl.

Abby is two.

Dear Abby June,

You have completed 2 laps around the sun!

Gas is $3.09 a gallon, bread is a dollar-fifty. Mom is 36 nearly 37, Dad is 35, Ry is 7, Gideon James is a robust three and a half, and Abe (the best dog ever) is nearly 10 . You are 31 inches tall (6 inches shorter than Gus at this age), and you weigh 24 pounds. You are the tiniest, most self-assured girl I know.

We call you the Little General because you wear a poker face like it’s your job, and you march rather than walk, your arms swinging deliberately beside you. You have always, even since crawling, found your way into the cattle pen to stand among the young steers and hold court. Countless times, I have found you alone, leaning on the gate talking to giants in your raspy little voice, no different than if they were kittens. You go your own way.

You speak better than anyone in our house. When you caught me absentmindedly trying to scoop spaghetti noodles onto my spoon one night, you looked at me with a gentle smile and said, “Look, Mom! A circle!” and proceeded to demonstrate how one twirls the fork for perfect noodle containment. You can count to five-teen, you love the colors pink and blue, and you demand your ‘(s)parkly’ shoes each day. You are subtly brilliant. 

You’re our little blondie. We are not exactly sure where you came from. When I was pregnant with you I remember wondering what happens with the third kid? We had a girl. We had a boy. How different, how unique, really, could one more of one or the other be? And then we had you. You screamed not out of hunger or boredom or fear but pure rage. You walked at 19 months because you simply wanted to wait. It has only been a few short months since you decided to look your father in the eye. It’s been less time since you’ve been sleeping through the night.

You are, in a word, tough. 

But, child. You are the cuddler. You are the one who stands at my feet and begs quietly, “Carry you.” You are the silent observer through countless therapy trips, drop offs, grocery lines, and doctor’s visits. Your strength of character is balanced sweetly by your simplicity of youth. When you want help, you ask. When you are hurt, you seek comfort. When you are happy, you make the room light up. You carry such an incredible OLD spirit with you, as more than one person has observed.

You arrived and it was as if you had already been. Only louder.

photo by Trace DiCocco

There are only a select few who have seen your million-watt smile in person. Its something you save, something we earn. You prefer “pan-pakes” over any food, though noodles and then cereal follow close behind. You love to show me – “Mom! Watch ‘dis!” is a regular refrain. I watch, every time, because you are so incredibly sure that what you are about to show me will change my life.

I think you’re on to something.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all have your confidence to be. To feel like everything we’re about to do is going to change someone’s life for the better. To guard our hearts. To be confident enough to just go along for the ride and not be in the front seat. To hold a secret deep within… for not every thing is meant to be known by every one. To play well with others, but to fight for your own space. So much truth in such a little body. 

You are my littlest, and I beg you to go slow. It is such a joy to be with you, to be around you. I cannot wait to get to know you better.

Love, Mom

Abby is born.

Abby is one.

home on the range

1185973_10100361327668312_475637321_nFor a year now, I have been on the Dayspring (in)courager volunteer team as a co-leader of an online community group for moms with kids of special needs. For three months now, I have been a (volunteer) mentor for the leaders of 13 other Special Care groups in the (in)courage community.  There are almost 70 groups with almost 140 total leaders out there right now, getting ready for registration to start today.

If you find yourself hesitant to join a small group in real life because of time commitments or hermit tendencies (ahem, Katie Mulder), this faith-based community may be exactly what you’re looking for. This session runs from Sept 23 to November 8, and registration starts today. Each group is limited to 30 women (sorry, Dad) and each group marches to their own beat. Maybe it’s a Bible study, maybe it’s a life-stage, maybe it’s a profession that is the common link- but there is something for almost everyone. You’ll find a complete list HERE.



First of all, look at this child. Is she not stunning? Even with the scar of having a brother on her face? She is the toughest kid I’ve ever met and can stare me down in a contest, which is something. I love her.

We have spent a lot of sweet time with our herd this summer. The boys of summer, the steers who will feed family and friends come January, are a year old now and so, so fun. Wooster (say that out loud) has a white patch on his forehead that looks like a chicken. He begs to be scratched every day. I have lost count of how many time Abby has made her way into the boys’ pen and held them captive with a monologue or two. She always starts with, “HOLA, COW.” I think that’s wise. Always start with ‘hello.’


Here is proof-positive that these are gentle giants if treated well and given the respect any large animal deserves. No doubt, they are still wild and unpredictable… and very, very strong. But, they are so fun. And so pretty 🙂 We love ’em.

I’ll show you this year’s babies later this week.

Have a good one, Folks.

We love you here at TexasNorth!