Tag Archives: texas

a letter to my parents

Hey, party people!

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

I know. 


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

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

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

You’re welcome.

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

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

It’s ridiculous. 


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

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

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

Drive safe.


your favorite daughter

Past CAMP SEBECK trips for our kiddos:

Ry in 2011

Ry and Gideon in 2012

Ry and Gideon in 2013


face to face

I ran out of postcards last week and missed Friday. Sorry about that. Today will make up for it!

We are home safe and sound after another drive-through-the-night extravaganza Saturday to Sunday. We spent all of last week in the loving arms of my parents in Central Texas. I was incredibly blessed to catch up with some of my anchors in life while we were in the Mother Land. I forget. I forget how very much I miss my people until I am sitting across a table from them and laughing through tears. This hermit is desperate for her personal space, but she loves deeply.


Christan… my best friend since 7th grade. Rockstar NICU nurse, actress, and Resident Director for UMHB… but truly the most loyal friend a girl could have. Her father married Curt and I nearly 9 years ago. One week ago, she wore a turquoise t-shirt with a zipper pocket in public to play a joke on my father. We are good friends. Please do not ever ask us for directions. We cannot help you.


Sweet Lisa… fellow (in)courage community leader and- according to the manager at the Temple Chick-fil-A where we had lunch Wednesday- one “good looking lady.” Ahem. Yes. what’s even better is her heart for women and her joy in walking with them through life.


Anna, Dearest… my favorite Democrat and closest “neighbor” out in the boonies of Belton. She is the smartest girl you’ll ever meet with the best taste in music. Anna once dyed my hair red. We’ve been to New York and France together, as well as the greater Temple-Belton-Waco area (since our parents wouldn’t let their honor student children LEAVE THE COUNTY).


Mandi… Belton High alum, Aggie roommate, apartment roommate, and first friend I ever wore a bridesmaid’s dress for. It was maroon. Mandi and her husband, Jeff, are the two most intentional, God-fearing parents I know. I take notes every time we talk. They also make the world’s best pork tacos and have a loud middle child. We get along.


Janna. My LBO, my conscience, and the person Curt calls when he has no idea what I’m talking about. I’ve never heard her raise her voice and I’ve never been in an argument with her. Like, actually never(I’ll give you a second to pick yourself up off the floor.) Janna is one of maybe 3 people I can be on the phone with longer than 2 minutes. She is the best of those among us. The best. Though, I hear, her guacamole has a bit too much lime in it.


Stephanie. My maid of honor and the only person besides Anna and my family to travel through Europe with me. She is a ballerina, Christmas-music-all-year, gourmet coffee kind of girl. Obviously, we are exactly the same person. Or, not at all. Steph and I met when Janna had a date for Valentine’s Day and we didn’t, so we went to Sbisa dining hall to wait her out. We’ve been friends ever since. She’s also the infamous Pat‘s daughter. We know how to do room service and pj pants VERY WELL together.


Margie. The kind of writer I aspire to be. It was such a joy to finally sit at a table together this past week and talk in person after years of emails, texts, and sharing stories. It should have been a cafe in Paris, not a kitchen booth at Chili’s, but I am so glad to have finally laughed out loud with you.

Kimberly and Vic

Kimberly and Vic… and the WHOLE ENTIRE GANG. The three adults in this picture went to college together, climbed rocks together, and ate at chain restaurants together. The kids in the picture came later, but are SUCH a great cross-section of said parents. [Note: Kimberly has a wee babe on her back- Miss Fiona. She was Rylie’s favorite and not to be forgotten.] We took the front lawn of the stock yards by storm. Kimberly, you are officially the only person I’ve ever seen a baby camel walking through a parking lot with. Saturday was ridiculous.


Texas, my Texas. You were so good to me this trip! Brilliant weather. Zero snakes. And time. THERE WAS TIME to rest and visit. So wild to actually meet up with folks for the first time in YEARS and hug and dance and eat ice cream. Thank you- all of you- for driving in dumb traffic and hauling children and leaving county lines to come say hi- even for just an hour. It means the absolute world to me.

I know really, really great people.

postcards from Texas • Wednesday


Our family’s time overseas has filled my parent’s home with Russian fairytale plates, Hummel figurines, English bone china, German linens, and- of course- cuckoo clocks. The kid’s favorite thing INSIDE the house is the cuckoo clocks.

postcard from Texas • Tuesday

This kid and this tractor (a John Deere 110, for those of you who need to know)… this kid and this tractor are inseparable.

He drives it- alone- all day, every day. He hooks up the wagon, hauls hay, unhooks the wagon, starts it up, circles the house, shuts it off, starts it up again… this boy is on fire.

postcards from Texas • Monday


About 45 minutes into our 19 hours from Michigan to Texas, Abby announced, “ALL DONE.”

She was quickly appeased with a new movie (thank you, Nemo).

About 47 minutes into our 19 hours fro Michigan to Texas, my husband started a conversation about the family budget and I unbuckled my seatbelt and began to open my passenger door.

Maybe that’s extreme.

But I was in a funk for the next hour, to be sure.

Which is why a conversation shift to political nuances and voting priorities was a little better but not making my life awesome. In fact, I think there were hives.

When I suggested we talk about something else, that I needed to be rescued from the funk, that maybe we tackle the SEX topic (to be funny… I was trying to be funny) and he replied,

“What do you want to know about it?”

Well, that’s when I put my earplugs in and started listening to my book.

It was a great book (Someday Someday Maybe). I highly recommend it, for pleasure or conversation avoidance. Either way.

Rylie is 6, almost 7. Please stop growing.

  1. Curt and I are still married.
  2. I still like him very, very much.
  3. I hate talking about hard, serious, possibly conflicting stuff. In confined spaces. With a boy who’s both smarter than me and more logical and more… calm.

Gideon has been running a 100+ fever since we loaded the car on Friday. Rylie is overwhelmed but so very happy, so grown up, so funny here. Abby and my dad danced yesterday and she smiled- laughed, even.

We’re in a good place.

It’s good to be home.


buckle up

We are headed south to the Mother Country for the next week.

Texas, I’m comin’ for ya.


Someone please get me this shirt for Christmas.

I’m a medium. 

The last time we were in a vehicle for 20 hours (which, ridiculously, was only two months ago) each way, Curt and I were deciding what we’d like to do over the next few days of “vacation” (P.S. “vacation” is a dumb word when you have 3 young kids… it’s a TRIP, not a vacation). He asked what I wanted MOST and I answered, “Read. By myself. Read by myself alone.”

It was quiet for a moment until he looked over at me and said,

“You are so unpredictably boring!”

Coming from a man who calculates odometer accuracy for a good time, this stung a little.

On the other hand, I certainly never claimed to be the poster child for excitement. I used to be cool. I climbed big rocks with little ropes and I sang on big stages and I travelled the world with a backpack. Now I’m completely content to catch a re-run of M*A*S*H on tv and make homemade popcorn. I know things have changed.

On the OTHER HAND (Fiddler reference there),  I took a naked child to a doctor’s appointment AND recess duty because she puked all over the van, her clothes, and her carseat on the way INTO town, I watched Lazarus the Calf come back from the dead, and I taught Gus Man how to crack eggs for pancakes.

I’m all about adventure, People.

It just looks different now.

All that to say, I’m a little nervous for our upcoming travel conversations. Any question prompts for me? Can you make me more interesting?

And because my life always come back to books, I need to ask you:

Have you read True (…sort of) by Katherine Hannigan?



It is absolutely one of the top 10 books of my life. I would describe it as a modern-day Charlie Brown story: good kid with bad luck changes the/her/my world. It’s Young Adult fiction, but do not assume that means it’s simple or beneath you or childish. It’s amazing and funny and heartbreaking. She has broken characters that are stunning and true. The language and expression took me by complete surprise… I could see every thought and understand every emotion. Hope and Loyalty and Faith all play heavy here… you can see why I am a fan. Do yourself a favor and read it whilst I’m on the road, ok?

I have Someday Someday Maybe and The Eyre Affair on audiobook for my graveyard driving shifts. We have a tractor show on the calendar, a date night in San Antonio, and a cow show in Ft. Worth. There are also a handful of college roommate hugs and one ‘meet me at an exit on the highway as we pass through town’ in the works.

I cannot wait.

I’ll yell when we get there.

Please pray.


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