Category Archives: funnies


We leave tomorrow morning for our annual trip to Platte River in the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

My parents are picking up Gus and Ry halfway through the trip and whisking them off to the magical world of Pennsylvania. There are exactly two-hundred-forty-seven things I need to do before our van hits the highway. What does one do when there are 5 people and a kitchen to pack up not to mention bills to pay, emails to send, and a wayward chicken to corral and return to the coop before the house-sitter arrives?

One writes.

I found this post again last night and laughed so hard. Laughing alone at something you wrote is awkward but worth it. I hadn’t thought about that particular trip in a long time and reading about it again made me excited to get on the road. Then I laughed even harder when I couldn’t find last year’s letter to my parents and had to search ‘apache in august’ to get to it. I don’t care who you are, that’s funny. I read the letter to see how things have changed over the past year and I laughed some more.  Oh, my children. So cute. So incredibly high-maintenance.

It was a good night.

gus and ry

Mom and Dad,

I’m sure we won’t have much time when you arrive at the campground to debrief/prep for your trip with Rylie and Gideon. The kids will tackle you and Rylie will launch into the story about the birds (ask me later) and we’ll never be able to get a word in again until someone hurts themselves and or requires discipline… neither of which are great times to talk about  specifics of our child-rearing and safety philosophies. Let me just mention a few things that may save a life:

1. Ry naps. Gus can take it or leave it. I’m so, so sorry. My best advice to you both is take turns. Divide and conquer. Never let them see you cry.

2. I’m keeping Abby with me. This act alone should absolve me from any debt or disturbance I ever caused or will cause you in the future. You’re welcome.

3. Ry’s hair is now short and curly and so is Gus Man’s. The 4-year age difference makes it pretty easy to tell them apart, but just in case: Gus wears a hat 24-7 and Ry still has terrible breath. Also, Gus is usually missing or at the top of something very high.

4. Both Gideon and Ry are potty-trained… all day, all night, all the time. Please remind and encourage both of them to wear undies. At all times. At all times they should be wearing undies and at all times you should be reminding them of this.

5. Beware the phrase ‘Me Got It.’ This translates to ‘I got it.’ or ‘I can do that myself.’ and comes out of Gus’ mouth approximately 18 times per minute. When you hear it, drop what you are doing- immediately– and find him. I said immediately. Do not delay or attempt to talk him down. Get up and find him. It is never a test and it never ends well.

6. Both children will ask for ‘2 minutes’ at bedtime. As in, 2 more minutes, please? Except, 2 minutes is a completely fake number to them. Neither can tell time or count well. It’s a sham, a distraction, a way to break you down. Stand firm.

7. Prayers are said or echoed at bedtime. Meal-time grace prayers are generally discouraged at bedtime, but sometimes make their way in there anyway. It’s ok. Work with what you have.

8. Ry still hates jelly. Gus Man still loves peanut butter. Bagels are called ‘O’s’ and are acceptable at any meal.

9. Ry is now missing 1 more bottom tooth and 2 more top teeth. Still best not to bring up the whole tooth fairy sneaking in to your room at night and stealing things from you, though she digs the money-exchange idea. We’re getting there.

10. I will not be mad NOR ask any questions if you tell me you had to throw some of their clothes away. I will only nod knowingly.

I’ll meet you in Ohio in two weeks. I don’t think my phone rings here in the woods, so if you get stuck or need a translation… in the words of my father,

Good luck with that.

Also, thank you. We love you. We trust you. Have a fabulous time.


your favorite first-born,

Mary Kathryn


fresh air

It will not surprise you, if you’ve known me for any length of time, to hear that I once received 2 different shoes in the mail… in the same box. AND- I didn’t realize they were slightly different until after I’d put them on (on the porch… straight out of the box and fresh from the UPS man’s hands) and looked up to see a baby calf loose in the yard.  With no time to lose, I jumped off the porch and chased that rascal all through the yard and through several pastures and piles of poo.  It was not until Baby was safe and secure that I sat down again and realized… LAWD, Kate. They sent you 2 different shoes. And now they’ve been worn outside AND are covered in mess. SO. RAD. Apple pie, anyone?

Y’all are nodding right now because that’s just something that happens in my world. I know.

What’s surprising is that I emailed customer service and explained myself. I explained myself, I apologized for the ridiculous situation, and I asked for a discount. I figured a request for an exchange was going a bit far considering, and I just thought I’d take the long shot and ask for a discount credit.

What could I lose? 

Paul emailed me back the same day.

And he restored my faith in people.

I wish I could buy him dinner.

Wherever you are, Paul, thank you. Thank you for playing along, for making me laugh, for fixing the problem, and for having a good time.  High-five and power to the creativity, Man. There’s an apple pie here on the farm with your name on it.

Here’s his email to me:

Hello Kate!

Thank you for contacting the Customer Loyalty Team. My name is Paul, er, I mean… Captain Anomaly! I will be happy to use my super powers to aid you today!

I am very sorry that you received defective shoes (and for the pesky cows thinking they can just hang out in your yard. Darn teenagers! Er, cows!). Neither of those are a normal occurrence, nor is it indicative of the high quality of service and products we strive to provide our customers. Luckily for you, I was recently in an experimental lab explosion involving a lamp, a giraffe, and an expired pack of Bazooka bubble gum. Now, I have some totally awesome WOWing powers that I can use to take care of this for you!


Whoa! What was that?! Look closely, do you see it? If I use my super vision, it appears to say… 126478842. What does it mean? That, my friend, is the reference number for your new order. Those are the New Balance Classics W574 in Blue/White, size 7.5 Medium. Just like when I am flying, this package is moving with super speed, and should be arriving to you on 5/1! Using one of the plethora of powers in my arsenal, I have transferred the funds over from your original order to this new one, so that you were not charged at all.


Oh gosh! Did you witness what just took place? Quickly, look to the inbox of your e-mail. You should see a few e-mails from us, but one of those will contain a link to your prepaid UPS return label! Just put that first item back into the original packaging and tape that new label on the outside with clear tape. Please be sure to remove the old shipping label, or cover it up entirely with the new one. Then just drop that package off at any UPS store within the next two weeks.


Holy smokes! What could have occurred just now?! I have used my laser vision to vaporize that poor customer service experience and created a coupon for you to help mend your online experience wounds in this troubling time.

That coupon is for $15 and is a one time use, non-refundable coupon that can be used on your next order within 90 days. Please accept this as a further apology for what has happened. The code to use that coupon is below for your convenience.

Hopefully this will help you with your unfortunate shoe situation. I have added some notes to have our warehouse double check that new pair for quality before sending them out to you, and to warn them of the potential cow remnants upon the returning pair, so those will definitely not be sent out to any other customers. Alas, I do not have any immediate solution for the cow predicament, but I will try to think of something and head back down there pronto! Now where did I put my knee pads and cattle prod…

If you need anything else, I would be glad to fly down there and assist you. Permitted that I am not busy fighting the evil Doctor Normality, my bitter adversary. Captain Anomaly, awaaaay!

The inconspicuously clad “Captain Anomaly”,


Customer Loyalty TeamZappos, Inc.

After reading this, Trace said, “We need more of this in the world – lightheartedness – laughter – imagination – giddiness – and superhuman problem solving skills.”

Amen, Sister.


he said


Curt and I have a general rule that we don’t buy big stuff without talking to the other person first… not for permission, but out of respect.  Now, I don’t call when the grocery bill is off the wall and I’ve got a cart full of diapers, laundry detergent, and dog food in there.  But I would call if a jacket went on sale… or maybe if I desperately wanted to go see Brandi at Meijer Garden. Likewise, Curt lets me know when box (AN ENTIRE BOX- like, twelve pair) of work gloves is headed to the house because he found a deal online, and he buys work clothes without a consult.

But sometimes, sometimes, there is a kink in the line.

When the box arrived with Gus’ new little swimmie trunks, I put them in his drawer with a smile. The dress I *ahem* hid immediately in the closet. It was an impulse buy… a celebration of a great week and a complete and total out-of-bounds purchase. He would love it, and would have said yes had I mentioned it… but I didn’t and now it was too late and the Irish guilt in me was in overdrive.

Yesterday I put it on with my magic boots and walked out ready for church… and confession.


I clicked around the hardwood floors, adding snacks to the bag and refilling Abby’s water bottle.


Finally, I could stand the guilt no longer. I placed myself directly in front of him and raised my eyebrows.

“Your boots look nice. Do you still like your boots?” he asked automatically.

“I love my boots.”

“Good. Me, too.”



“Aren’t you going to ask me where this dress came from?”

“You’re dress? Is new? Ok. Well…”

[takes a good look as I back up and twirl]



Not from Goodwill,Love. Not from Goodwill. But it is the most perfect dress ever. Vintage vibe. Heavy jersey. Looks great with boots, looks fabulous with flip-flops. Certainly out of character for me to buy on a whim AND for it to fit, no less… but a winner. The world’s most perfect dress… for me.

And the world’s most perfect husband… for me.

God bless you, Curt, for your innocence and trust in me. Hurray for happy endings.

This post is rated R for language.

Hang on to your hats. 

Language is a fickle, changing, growing, living thing in this family. We have studied words and meanings and mechanics since Rylie was 2, trying to coax the giant out of its sleep… trying to welcome it in.

It is tentative, language. But it comes. In its own time.

Gideon James, nearly four years younger, is up to his sister’s level in word-count and certainly beyond in expression. He has voices and inflections and a cadence that slays me. I could talk to him all day.

We have the same conversation every day.

Mom? Me? Outside?

You may absolutely go outside… but, you need to put your coat on. And socks. And shoes. And a shirt.

Me no coat on.

Yep, bud. It’s 20 degrees out. You hafta wear a coat.

NO. COAT. (Familiar, no?)

You may get ready, and you may take your time, but you will be dressed. If you go outside without socks, shoes, a shirt, and a coat you will get a spankin’.

Me no spankin’.

No spankin’… but get dressed.


Get dressed.

Me outside.


So it goes, and he obeys.  Mostly.

The second he comes in, we have another conversation- every day.

Shirt off?

You can take your shirt off.

Pant off?

Let’s leave your pants on.

Tay. Sock off?

You may take your socks off.

One sock off, Mom. Two sock off.

And he does, and he is happy.  He’s just the sweetest thing, really. Ornery as all get-out, but so sweet.

The problem is not in the conversation or even the expression… it’s in the pronunciation.  The boy switches his r’s for w’s (Wylie! Wylie? Pway? Outside?), which is super cute. And, of course, his s’s for f’s (No fankin’, Mom! No fankin!). So, let’s revisit the above conversation… but, this time I’ll write what I HEAR.

Firt off?

You can take your shirt off.

Pant off?

Let’s leave your pants on.

Tay. Fock off?


You may take your socks off.

One fock off, Mom. Two fock off.

I won’t lie. It’s hilarious.

Until you go to the bank.

At the drive-through, I always roll the back windows down so the kids can watch the tube go up the shoot.  They think it’s magic. It is, really.  The money goes up and a receipt- often with candy for cute children- comes back down.  God bless America.

Except for this one particular day, when the kind lady forgot to put the candy in the tube. I tried to ignore it. Make quick conversation in the car, roll up the windows, be gone before the short people in the back noticed the violation of goodwill and started wailing…

but my son was on to all of us.

As I rolled up our windows but before it was even half-way, he let out  a piercing yell directly into the microphone.



Mom, pwease.

Focker, pwease.


The volume you’re hearing in your head? Double it. This child is LOUD. Loud.  It’s possible God stopped time at that moment. That’s what it felt like. There was no wind. No radio. No nothing. Just my son… and his sweet little mouth of fire.

The boy wanted his SUCKER and he would not be silenced.

I took a deep breath and rolled the windows back down.

The teller was shaking with laughter as I squeaked,

“I suppose there IS something else you can do for me today. If you have a candy, a sucker, anywhere in that building… if you have one, I have a little boy who desperately wants one. Please. And, thank you.”

And so she did.

And we left.

And I have never been back.

Language is a fickle, changing, growing, living thing in this family.

Gus Man

out of the mouth of babes

Once a week, Rylie rides at a local barn dedicated to serving children and adults with special needs.  We’ve been on a break since summer because they’ve been swinging hammers and putting up new walls. Oh, how we have missed our horses!

Thursday, we returned… but on a new night at a new time with familiar but new volunteers. As L came to grab Ry and take her down to the mounting block, I took a moment ramble on and on… and on… about some new things Ry’s been working on.

Hi, L! Super excited to be back. Hey- Ry and her SLP have been working on a new word… a word she can say when she wants to say something nice but can’t think of how to respond or doesn’t have the words to respond (you know, she gets stuck… and this give her a chance to participate more than she can now). But, you’ll prolly have to remind her at first. We’re still working on it. What’s your word, Rylie-O?

I turned to Ry, prompting her.


Right. So, the word is NEAT. So, if you guys are walking tonight and you are telling stories, maybe use the word NEAT, you know? Back and forth… so you can practice having a conversation and taking turns. Maybe when she’s posting or makes a basket in the little hoop out there.  You know? Great. How was your Christmas?

Um, it was great, thanks! You know, actually, I’m just in the barn… not in the ring. I’m just walking Ry down tonight.

Right. So all that stuff I said before? Completely unnecessary for you to know. Too much information.

Well, sort of, yeah.

We stared at each other for an awkward second… until the silence was broken by a 6-year old’s voice from beside me:


Say what you will about her voice; that child has impeccable timing.

in which I consider cancelling Christmas

If we’re friends on facebook, you know that Jesus of the Nativity and his two Ceramic Parents met an untimely and Earthly end earlier this fall when Gideon James freed them from their basement storage manger. This left me with a strong desire to start some Mulder traditions but with nothing to anchor the effort.  When this advent calendar went on sale, I pounced. It would be the perfect backdrop for a lifetime of December memories. Yes.  When it arrived in Thursday’s mail, Gus Man helped me carefully unwrap the ark (Boat! Mom! Boat!), all 24 little animals, and sweet Noah.

I was feeling good.


The children were in love.  After a brief course in the Ethics of an Advent Calendar (which basically boils down to one rule: No Peeking), the boat was placed on the hutch and Noah was set out in anticipation of his flock joining him throughout the month.  There was much ooohing and ahhing and touching.  I have no delusions of this sitting high on shelf and never being maimed by my children. The Good News is a hands-on story here, Folks. But, MY LANTA, if I didn’t expect for Noah to go missing after 30 minutes.



By the time Curt got home from work, Noah was no where to be found. I had rescued him myself twice… once from driving a (toy) bulldozer, and once from shepherding in the confines of (toy) barn with a monkey, a giraffe, and a moose.  Gideon James.  Clearly, we had a good idea of who was responsible for Noah’s disappearance, but repeated questioning only resulted in a (very cute but maddening) shrug.

So, Mamma took a walk.  Mamma needed to breathe some fresh air. MAMMA JUST WANTED IT TO BE SPECIAL, PEOPLE. We didn’t even make it to DAY ONE.  I walked out to the garden where the children had been playing tackle. No Noah. I walked to the pole barn, where the shorter child had unrolled the air compressor hose to fix his wagon. No Noah. I looked under the van, on the porch swing, in the dog’s water bowl.

No Noah.

I briefly considered cancelling Christmas. Obviously, my family cannot handle the pressure. But, I rallied.

I gathered the troops… the 2 troops… and squished them together on the leather wing-back chair  next to the boat.

I closed my eyes and put a gentle, non-scary smile on my face.

“Children, whom I love and adore,” I started, “Where is Noah? Think. Think hard. He is here somewhere. I’m not mad. I’m not even surprised. I just want Noah back. WHERE IS NOAH TELLMENOW.”

And, without pause or rehearsal,

Rylie pointed up and said, “Heaven.

while Gus pointed at me and said, “No peeking.


Noah was found

later that evening

 deep under the hutch

with chocolate chip remnants on him


Noah is now permanently attached to his craft

with gorilla glue.

Christmas is still on.

I am in it to win it,

come hell or 40 days of high water.


work it out

So the Boy is looking at a women’s clothing magazine (the Girl’s favorite), and the Girl… well, she kind of laughs.

What are you doing?

Actually, I’m just wondering what you might like in here.

Oooooooh, interesting!  Like, gift-potential?  


Alright.  Well, I need to finish something real quick.  How ’bout you go through and mark what you THINK I’d like and I’ll tell you if you’re right.  It’ll be like a Get to Know Your Spouse exercise.

And the Boy agrees.

Fifteen minutes later, the Girl joins the Boy again and does a little gleeful clap in anticipation.

the boy opens the magazine to the middle and proceeds to the end

he is remarkably on-target


Now why, the Girl asks, why did you start in the middle?  Is that just where I caught you? Should we do the beginning now? 

and the Boy looks a little puzzled and says

Naw.  The beginning is all work-out gear.    

*the Girl tilts her head ever so slightly*

Work-out gear… like, running and stuff.  I guess I just thought you… wouldn’t… be… interested? But you are.  Let’s start over.

Apple Pie, Anyone? I’m serving up double-portions today.

Marriage, Folks.

It ain’t for the faint of heart.

this one, not that one

There was a store in college next to the Christian bookstore where we bought all our VeggieTale VHS tapes… a consignment shop that would let you make a few bucks when you were ready to sell your Guess jeans.

When it was time to study, two of the ladies in our apartment would hit the books.  The other 2 of us would turn on ESPN, When Harry Met Sally, or start cleaning out closets.  Occasionally my ‘giving’ pile would get large enough for me to make a stop at the consignment shop and fund a little more Thursday night two-stepping.

“I love taking things to the consignment shop! It’s like donating BUT BETTER.”

“I know!”

“I love coming back the next month and picking up an extra twenty bucks!”

“I know!”

“But, I do hate that feeling of condescension I get when she goes through my pile of offerings and hands me back the items that don’t make the cut.  That’s a little embarrassing, but worth the $20.”



“You know… when you have brands that she doesn’t think will sell or something is just a little too worn out?  I hate that moment. You know? You know, right?”


“That’s never happened to me.”

Never fear, Friends. I will ALWAYS bring up the rear 🙂 Best friends are not for the faint of heart.

Have a fabulous weekend, Friends.

We love you here at TexasNorth!

when a man loves a woman

It’s been a roller coaster of a week, Friends.  I don’t think my feet are quite on solid ground yet, and I still have some processing to do.  As ever, my faithful Boy was right by my side:

It’s late.  He’s getting ready for bed, clearing the chair off so it can be filled again tomorrow.  She’s coming upstairs after feeding the baby.  She’s in a funk.  He’s… well, he doesn’t know she’s in a funk.

Mid-thought but first sentence, she says, “I have to tell you… I’m a little upset about how that went.”

And he stops.


“Yeah.  I’m sad.”

“Aw.  I can tell your sad.  Why are you sad?  It’s been a weird week, I know. But you bought new jeans!”

“I did buy new jeans.” *Kermit arms* “But, still.  I’m sad.”

Boy waits for it.

“I’m sad because of the way Rookie Blue ended tonight.”

Boy is rightfully unsure of his next move.  Girl continues.

“I thought they’d end up together.”

Boy is trying, really trying, to piece reality and emotion and story together… but, honestly.  Girl is the master here.  There is no use.  With practiced caution, Boy continues.

“You know we ended up together, right?”

“Yes.  Yes, we did.” *Kermit arms* “It’s been a weird couple of weeks. Can you tell me a story?  A nice story? I need a nice story before I go to sleep.”

“Sure.  How ’bout one about when the kids are all grown up and fine.  Everyone’s FINE.”

“Ooh, that’s a good story.”

“Yeah.  I can’t wait to be able to date again.”


“Not other people, Kate.  Each other.  EACH OTHER.  Some day we’ll be able to go out again, just the two of us.  Whenever we want.  Without a babysitter.  Without plans.  Without anything.  Until then, one day at a time and one foot in front of the other…

…and maybe less drama tv for you, ok?”


My brain, people.  My brain does not work any more.

That Boy sure does into and out of an argument 🙂

this is how we met

You remember the story about my first kiss?  Surely.  SHIRLEY, you do.  I’m laughing and crying into my keyboard as I type this.  Dear Lord, what an awkward time for me.

Leigh, beautiful blog-friend Leigh, has been doing a series called This Is How We Met.  It has been such a blast reading other folks’ stories about chance or not-so-chance first encounters with their significant other.  Today it’s my turn!  Head over there and catch up.  Start with mine, of course… because you and I are family.  FAMLEE.  And then read the rest of them.  And then come back and tell me how You met Yours.

I’ll get you started:

Curt and I met, like most couples in the Free World, at a women’s retreat.  A large, overnight ministry women’s retreat.

That is absolutely true. That February 2002 weekend was the Young Life Women’s retreat near San Diego, and I was the host… which is a fancy way of saying I collected the money and made sure everyone had towels. Kevin and Curt came down to volunteer and help me get some side-work done in-between me racing to find toilet paper for the front bathrooms. Women’s Retreats are serious about their toilet paper and paper towels. Men’s Retreats, not so much.

So, I was busy and single and 25.  Of course, I was meeting quality men left and right… youth ministry and YoungLife in particular are GREAT for that, but they all came on Friday and left on Sunday.  I lived on a virtual island of awesome… solitude.

…and the rest is right HERE.

More of our story can be found in the Our Story posts.

Thursday, the timeline series continues with junior high and high school.  I figure I might as well just put all my embarrassment out there in one single week and get it over with.