Tag Archives: conversations

Please, to remember.

gus man

You shuffled up to me with your head hanging down.

It was only yesterday, but I will remember it forever. You don’t shuffle. Usually, you fly. Or bounce. Or slide or crawl or leap. This time, you shuffled up to me… almost quietly. I was sitting on the floor, reading. Abby was napping and you were playing cars. I only wish I could spell this conversation out phonetically so others could “hear” you. Your language and voice have a raspy magic that transform ordinary moments into memories.

Mom, you said with a bit of sad in your voice, Me growing down.

You’re growing DOWN, Bud? Whaddya mean?

Me growing down.

[I set my book down.]

Say it again, Bud. I don’t understand.


Oh, but you are, Gus Man! You ARE getting big! I can tell by your shoes and your chair at the table and your seat in the car. You ARE getting big! It’s slow, but you’re changing… you’re growing UP every day.

[You panicked.]

ME NOT WANT GET BIG! Me want to grow down!

[And you leaned into me, wrapped your arms around my neck, and buried your head in my shoulder.]

Oooooh. I see. I see. You know, growing UP is not really something we can change OR stop. Mom’s still growing up, too. It’s just how God made us. We grow up not down. We get bigger, stronger, taller. We learn more and play more and visit fun places. Do you like being little? Don’tcha WANNA get big?


Why, Bud?

Me want to stay here with mom. Me growing down.

[Here is where my heart nearly broke in half… honey, you were so serious.]

Oh, Buddy. You will always be my best guy. Even if you grow up, even if you go to school, even if you get in trouble, even if you get mad at me, even if you move away… you will always be my best guy. So don’t be afraid to grow up. Think of all the things you’ll be able to do when you get BIG! What do you want to do when you get BIG?

[And you waited. You were not completely sold. But you were thinking.]

[And you leaned back without letting go and looked me in the eyes. Slowly, a grin spread across your face.]

Me get big, ME DRIVE!

[Heaven help us all.]



inducing the crazy

Amanda over at The Habit of Being wrote earlier this week about things she does that drives her Mister a little batty. I knew as soon as I read her post that I would have to ask Curt… not because I didn’t already know some of his answers, but because I wanted to see his reaction.

It was awesome.

So I say, “Curt. You wanna help me with tomorrow’s essay?”

And he says, “Absolutely.”

And I say, “Ok. I need you to think of a couple of things I do that annoy you.”

And he put up his hands and said calmly but firmly, “I AM NOT DOING THAT. I WILL NOT DO THAT.”

And he ran down the hall to our bedroom and slammed the door behind him.

I followed, of course. 

“Curt,” I said. “It’s ok. It will be fun. I promise I won’t get mad.”

“It’s risky.” he whispered, hiding under our quilt.

“I know. I know it is. But it will be worth it.”

He felt it was safer to write his list down rather than speak it out loud.

I love that man with all my broken heart.

notes[His handwriting. Whoa. I mean… is English his second language? Does he write upside-down? It’s a mystery to me.]

  1. toothpaste cap 1/2 on and it builds up with crusty toothpaste and then the cap will hardly go on at all
  2. shoes stay exactly where they are taken off until all her shoes are out of the closet
  3. packs for vacation on the very last day
  4. drives fast on the gravel road even the day after the van has been washed
  5. weeds the garden and beds and throws the weeds in my nice lawn and lets them lay for 3 days

I’m in a public library right now, and I am laughing (silently) so hard I am crying.

It’s awkward.

I so so so very much want to comment on the list. I want to explain and clarify and say that a couple of things are flat-out lies. But I will not. I WILL NOT. I will let it stand as written. It says so very much about so very much, right?

What’s on your husband’s or wife’s or roommate’s list?

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 Zappos.com 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 Zappos.com 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!

up, up, and away

[skipped out on you Monday without warning… sorry about that… all will be told Monday]

I am running late.  My flight leaves in an hour and I’m carrying an infant, so I can’t self-check even though 3 helpful folks in uniforms have escorted me over to the self-check-in I CANNOT SELF CHECK IN IT WON’T LET ME thank you so much.

I now have 30 minutes.  Not until BOARDING, but until RUNWAY.

I am in the security line, in socks, holding a baby and trying to fold a stroller.  A large Samoan man is wrestling with a laptop briefcase.  The briefcase appears to be winning.  I am going to miss my flight.

Abby and I are waived through in a fit of TSA generosity and I yell to my gate, “I’m here! We’re here! I’VE BEEN HERE!” The man in the red blazer looks at me through his bifocals.  “We’re about to give your seat away, Mrs. Mulder.  Where have you and your infant-in-arms been?”

“Behind a large Samoan man with a briefcase that wouldn’t open.”

He looks down to conceal a smile.  “I see.  Hurry now.  They’re waiting for you.”

Abby and I rush the plane and take our seat.  Everyone forgives me for holding things up when they see Miss Abby on my arm.  She is the darling of the airplane.  As soon as we sit down, she grabs the our neighbor’s button-down sleeve and brings his whole arm to her mouth, kissing it… him… everything. “I’m so sorry.”

“I don’t mind,” he says quietly.

We are in the air, God bless America, and they are coming with the complimentary beverages and un-child-friendly snacks.  “No thank you,” I say as Abby stretches and sleeps in my arms.  The tall attendant looks at me.  He is in his late 50s and at least 6 foot 3.  An airline veteran, to be sure, and the head of this team. He smiles politely and continues on.

Ten minutes later, with Abby still asleep, I look up to see him crouched beside me in the aisle.

“I miss this,” he says.

He points at Abby.  “This.  I miss this.  I missed it. Physically missed it.  I’m always up in the air.  My wife has to call me and remind me when the kids’ birthdays are and where everyone is.  I was always gone. I was in wars and in planes.  I missed holding my kids when they were asleep.”

I realize, at 10,000 feet, that I am on holy ground.

“You’re a military veteran?”

“I am.  I’ve served in a few conflicts. Now I’m a grandpa and I work up here.”

“My dad is a veteran.  He lives far away, too.  When my brother and I were little, my mom held down the fort a lot while he trained and served. I’m sure he missed a few of our baths, as well.”

He smiles a sad smile.  “I just don’t know what to do to make it up to them.”

“Sometimes being sad about it is enough.  What more can you do now?  Be a grandpa, and be a great one. You’re no use to anyone if you spend all your time thinking about 30 years ago.”

He smiles a different smile. “Well, I agree with you there.”

Abby stirs, yawns dramatically, and opens her hazel eyes to the stranger now seated in the aisle next to her.  She grins mischievously.

“She’s gorgeous.”

“Well, I agree with you there.”

And with that, he unfolded himself from the floor and headed back to the front of the cabin.  As we de-planed, he waved and told me to have a nice day.  Abby blew him a raspberry, and everyone went their own way.

Regret is a terrible travelling companion. She’s heavy and manipulative… and she has a terrible, hazy memory.  I need to remember to leave her out of my suitcase from now on. There’s just not enough time in the day anymore to deal with her rambling and tricks. 

And here’s to Abby, who can break through walls with a single smile.