Tag 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.

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.

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.

mirror, mirror

abby's eyes

She crawls to the hallway mirror every day, every hour… to peek.

It’s stunning, really.  She giggles at that Little looking back at her.  She jabbers away to herself… kissin’ and high-fivin’ and smilin’ at the pretty, toothless, chubby girl looking back. I see you, Sweet Girl, and you are gorgeous.

I don’t know when exactly it all changes. Maybe junior high. Maybe earlier, now. But that sweet joy of seeing your reflection? It disappears somewhere in between high chairs and bus stops. We notice our friend’s clothes, we feel awkward in our skin, we want what others have. It is as certain as the sun rising… we women will struggle.  We will be discontent and disillusioned, and over time the reflection becomes something to fix. Something that is not funny.  Our eyes, they have changed.

Then maybe we make some amazing friends who make us feel normal, awesome, beautiful again.  We remember that everyone’s different for a reason, that the internet and magazines are impossible, that we look like our grandmother… and we like it.  We begin a new journey of acceptance and repair.

Then maybe we have children… you actually grow life within you… and our body changes to make it work- everything from the tips of our hair to the shape of our hips. We grow children and we find ourselves, again, confused with the reflection and the wardrobe and the image staring back. Our eyes, they are fickle.

For now, for such a sweet little time… her reflection is pure joy.

Let me remember this time… this sweet, sweet time… when that reflection was right and perfect and the best part of every day. And let me remind her, when the image fades and feelings get cloudy, that she is beautiful and eyes are tricky.  People are tricky.  Sight is tricky.

Best to look with the heart, as He does, and remember that all is as it should be. And, it is good.

1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

Abby is 1

[update, for posterity’s sake: doctor’s visit at 1 year = 27.5″ tall (6%) and 17.5 pounds (14%)… you’re still a little bird!]


Oh, Abby June.

If you just aren’t a peach of a thing!  Lawd, Child… who knew kid number 3 would be so normal?  Saturday, you turned 1… which seems impossible, but it’s true. We call you Muppet and Abby-O.  While you’re a happy little girl, you are not easy to impress… possibly because there is a constant 3-ring circus surrounding you. We have to WORK to get you to giggle, and we do- because it’s worth it.  You have some serious hair, hazel eyes, and an extremely kissable mouth. My favorite thing that you do is this “Oooooooo” thing, where you’re half singing, half excited.


See what I mean? Those lips.  I love them.

You are extremely quick. Rylie learns things over time and repetition. Gus Man tries and tries until he succeeds by brute force. You, on the other hand, you study something and then move forward with quiet confidence.  Wanna climb stairs? Sure. How ’bout we just do all 20 the first time and without a problem? Hear us talking at dinner? Why not just repeat what we’re saying? No big deal. Only have 2 teeth? Whatever. Bring on the solid food. I’ve no doubt you’ll be walking soon.  (All three kiddos crawled at 9 months.  Ry walked at 23 months; Gideon walked at 15 months. Care to make a guess for Abby? Pick a date.  Curt said February 2.)

You fill in all our gaps.

I have traveled with you twice alone… just me and you on planes, checking out the world and visiting family.  You can handle skipping naps, altitude changes, multiple time zones, and extremely attentive puppies.  You are not afraid to cry and be heard, though the noise of the rest of the family often drowns you out. It was so fun, both trips, to just BE with you. Only you. You are hilarious and easy.Abby is 1

That last picture… you holding the giraffe?  Makes me laugh so. hard.  You are 100% personality.

You’re still only giving us 6 hours of consecutive sleep overnight, which- what’s up with that? You’re a great morning and afternoon napper.  I think at night you get into some serious routines because you wake at the same time every night and demand an audience.  We’d just let you figure out life, but, Child, you are our angriest crier.  By far.  AND, you’re directly under our bedroom, which makes you impossible to ignore at 4:22 am.  Let’s work on that, ok?

You sleep in the laundry room. Yes in the unfinished half of the basement with Abe and the washer and dryer and boxes of hand-me-down clothing. We’ve pushed this little shoe-box of a house to its very limits of space.  There is just no more room. Anywhere.  And, since all of you kids have completely different sleep schedules, sharing a bedroom with Gideon (mister night owl and world’s lightest sleeper) or Ry (asleep by 7pm, up before God) is just not an option.  The reality is, you couldn’t care less.  The bunk-beds are waiting for you, though… as soon as you’re ready.

You’re the littlest and our last.  I could watch you for hours… just growing and making faces and living life.  I love you, Abby June.



1. iPhones iBreak when they fall out of your pocket and under the blade of a brush hog.

2. Ry’s IEP is this week, and I am nervous.  I want it to be easy. I don’t want to cry. I am so tired of crying in front of people I don’t know.  It’s hard to convince people you’re a stable person when all you do is cry.

3. Last week the Mulders had 3 flat tires in 4 days on 2 different vehicles. Gus and secret pocket full of nails was responsible for 2 of them. He is alive because he is cute.

4. Saturday night, TexasNorth had 80 Young Life kids and leaders camp out under the stars in the back pasture.  They ate on our porch, loved on my kids, and rode the hay wagon like pros.  It is in those fine, fine moments that I know we are in the right place at the right time.

6. This week we have a hayride on Friday and a black-tie gala on Saturday.

7. I would rather just have the hayride.

8. In the 15 minutes I’ve been writing this post, the toilet has flushed 6 times.  Gus and I are the only ones home, and Gus is not potty trained. He is alive because he is cute.

9. Rylie said ‘pizza’ this weekend… and it wasn’t hard.  Thankful for strange and wonderful surprises like that after months of nothing.

10.  Abby rocks a pompom hat like nobody’s business.

time keeps on ticking

Abby June,

You are 9 months of awesome, Little Girl.

You’re crawling, sitting up, and chomping pretzel sticks and graham crackers like it’s your calling in life.  Not that you have teeth, because you don’t- not one, but you eat all the same.

You’ve got grey-green–sometimes-blue eyes and straight, fine, red-blonde hair.  (No idea.) Your hair has been the cause of quite a few giggles around town… it only started laying down this past week.  Before that, it was all up all the time– like a muppet.  Related: we call you ‘Muppet.’

You have this incredible ability to trill your tongue to sound like a motorcycle? a Mariachi band leader? It’s pretty awesome.  You are not quick to laugh, but I don’t mind working for it.  It’s deep and real, and that’s all that counts.  While Gideon and Rylie rock some serious Disney-esque eyes, you are all about the cheeks and mouth.  It’s hard not to kiss and squeeze you all the time.

You will never want for a companion in this home.  We are all ready and willing- and sometimes even desperate- to show you everything.  You have survived 9 months of Gus Man sitting on you, feeding you inappropriately, squeezing you like a barn cat, and throwing match box cars at you to ‘share.’  You have weathered Ry’s bottle-holding, Ry’s spoon-feeding, Ry’s carrying/hoisting, and Ry’s burping/beating.  You, of all three children, are the toughest without question.   Abby, I pray you would continue to let your brother and sister love on you without hesitation.  Your unconditional acceptance has made you a bridge over often troubled water.

Child, what a gift.

When you yawn, it’s loud and dramatic… like your Mamma. I feel like you are 9 months going on 30.  Truth be told, I whisper a lot of secrets to you at that 11pm feeding that nobody else hears.  You’re my quiet buddy.  The one ready for anything.  The one who goes anywhere without question or fuss.  You are #3, probably the last, and the sweetest way to end a good run of genetics.

You are the smallest in our family but certainly the most stable.   Thanks for taking it all in stride… the endless car rides and buckles, the skipping of naps, the older siblings and animals who steal your spotlight every chance they get.  You are a champion.  A God-send. A-mazing.

We love you so much, Abby-O!

always, Mom


Is she not just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?  I mean, seriously.  Seriously, People.  Who knew miracles like her were possible?

She’s sitting on a trio of folding wooden theater seats I scored on Craig’s List last week.  They’ll live in the mudroom… when we have a mudroom.  For now, they live in the hallway downstairs.  It seemed like Fate had found me: 3 wooden chairs, 3 lockers, 3 children.

Perhaps we are stopping at 3 kids?  Can you know for sure? Is it appropriate to decide based on vintage furniture finds?  We’re struggling.  Not that a decision has to be made… but, yeah.  Kinda.  My brain needs a decision so I can process life a little better.  I’ve heard a mother never stops thinking “maybe one more” or “what if?”  No getting away from that… it’s just IN you.  I’ll certainly always have that.  Is it possible to know- really know– when you’re at your limit?

I say NO MORE because parenting is hard.  And, I’m tired.

I say I WANT MORE because I’m just tired and parenting is hard.  (And LOOK AT THAT CHILD.)

How can it be the same reason for both?


We’re at high-maintenance ages with some special needs thrown in there for good measure.  This complicates life in general, especially What’s the Plan? conversations.  My brain (and our family) needs a little closure… or, at least sound and loving advice… one way or the other.

So, if you knew, how did you know?