Thank you



I found Abbey reading to Helen while James was fixing dinner several nights ago. This book was given to us by a special person.


The book, called “The Quiltmaker’s Gift” was sent to us with an actual quilt soon after Lucy died. The Gift-giver had sent us many things during Lucy’s life, mostly words of encouragement and prayers for help; upholding us by being a person willing to bear somebody else’s burdens. I am ashamed to say I still, almost a year later, have not sent this special person a thank-you.


Part of it is that it’s hard to find words to tell someone how big the thing is that they’ve done for you. When you pass through fire it’s hard to get your mind around how it all happened. The strong arms and mighty help the Lord sent you in the form of a special person become entwined with your experience. How do you paint a picture of how much they helped you? How do you separate the things you did, unbelievable and baffling in hindsight, and the things THEY did, marvelous and life-giving? Those struts and supports that gave you courage to go on.

Lucy and all of us were very lucky to have a person like the Gift-giver to help us. And a friend like you, kind Reader. Grief clouds how you think about things, and makes it hard to remember to be thankful. But our family…I…am so thankful for your friendship and your help. I remember this seeing the girls read, and I want to tell it to you again. Thank you.

And I still hope to write that Thank-you note. It will come at the right time. – Katie

In the sunny spot


Winter gives you an excuse for more snuggling. You have to stay close in cold weather to keep your bearings.


I read a good poem the other day about Texas winters. This is from the blog:

Hallelujah, Texas. by johnnywalkthewind

Snow falls and smooths over
What’s left of last winter;
Sun spikes and I’m daydreaming

In a flash it’s all fresh and
We’re too hot by half.

The brimstone bits shimmer, their
Steam falls away,
Behind them comes mist,
More than a man was

First sparks I’ve seen since
I took torch to
All weak enough to tinder.

My word, then, if this
Blaze keep bright I’ll
Merely tend it.

Me again. We are tending the blaze together. (Or maybe Helen just likes to sit in the kitchen chair.) – Katie





We now have fish. Amos came home from a visit to beloved friends with fishbowl in hand. “I EARNED these”, he told me solemnly. Amos takes fish ownership very seriously. He counts the flakes he feeds the fish, he flushes the unfortunates that go belly-up, and he chose SpongeBob houses for their communal tank.


They started out in the bowl that the friend gave us. I tried to put shells into it that we had collected from the beach during our trip to Rockport, but some very basic internet searches revealed that: 1) fish owners can be very passionate people, and 2) you can’t put shells formed in salt water into a freshwater tank.(Lots of all caps in fish forum threads. Whodathunkit.)IMG_0167

Another thing learned is that only fish abusers keep goldfish in little, tiny spaces. (Like we were keeping ours in.) Fish need space! say fish lovers.

Another problem is that our little tank was open at the top, and remember those other animals that hang about? They expressed STRONG interest in fish.


So we tried covering it with a case of beer. This seemed too dangerous for the constantly moving ones who live here.


And we tried a volume of Shakespeare’s collected works, until James complained that the one book he was planning on taking to the desert island with him (besides the Bible) was getting water damaged. We also tried the American Heritage dictionary.



So we bought a big tank. Lid and all. Over the course of the tank saga we purchased 11 Walmart goldfish and 8 of them expired. Nobody seemed too teary. I guess you get what you pay for at $.28 a pop.


But since getting this giant lovely fish home (with SpongeBob accessories, no less!), only 1 has died! And Amos got two fantail goldfish for his birthday, and our kind fish-expert friend gave us a filter, so things are hopefully moving to the longer-term. – Katie

To ride my horse and be free!


Corrie and Helen like to play complicated games with each other that no one else really gets. They call each other Dordie and Hanin.IMG_0211

Corrie often plays with her Merida doll while Helen goes through a succession of plastic female embodiments with fuzzy hair. The dolls gallop from room to room, sometimes assisted by horses, and the girls plop down in various places to let the action unfold.


Corrie’s Merida and horse have been one of her favorite Christmas presents, and when the girls talk about which Disney princess is their favorite she goes right for Merida.

The other day she curled up where I was answering emails and said: “My siblings” (yes, she calls them siblings) ” say that I’m not like Merida AT ALL!”

Wistfully: “Do you think that I’m like Merida? My hair isn’t very curly…”

And sometimes as a parent you veer between answering what they say and answering what you think they really mean. So I tell this sparkly third-born, with straight, silky, mousy blonde hair and watchful eyes, “Of COURSE you’re like Merida! You’re brave and funny, and imaginative, and you’ve even ridden a horse before! You don’t have to have curly hair, sweetie.”

You have to be brave, don’t you, to trust that your sister who died is with Jesus, and to be best friends with another one. To make up stories and write notes to about things that are important to you. To fight for the last blackberries at dinner and yell at your siblings and follow the readings on Wednesday evening Lenten services by tracing your fingers underneath the words. Brave like Merida. And that’s DEFINITELY Corrie. Dordie. – Katie




You are never too big…



to ride the merry-go-round. The outlet mall in Terrell gives you 1.5 minutes of circular enjoyment for 4 quarters.


Lions and zebras and unicorns, oh my! Look at their choices: Abbey went right away for the lion, Corrie put both hands over the saddle of the unicorn and nearly pushed Helen off, and then they both put an intense spurt of energy into persuading Helen that she REALLY actually wanted was the zebra.


We don’t go the outlet mall that often, even though it’s pretty close, so a $1 treat seems a worthy celebration of the occasion.


Faster, boys, faster! Ride like the wind, Bullseye! – Katie





We have the flu. Yuck.

Various people have it shorter and longer times, but it just takes a while for an illness featuring a 4-day fever to grind through a whole family. And there is always SOMEONE who mysteriously avoids it. Gets off scott-free.

James keeps telling me that regular whiskey consumption is the time-honored Irish method of germ annihilation. I greet this statement with a thin smile and a scoffing laugh, but frown inwardly over the fact that he does, actually, get sick less than the rest of us. Huh. I don’t LIKE whiskey and it is a medicine legally forbidden to the rest of those living in this house, so I can’t say it’s a stand-out cure.

But, you know? If you put on blinders and work VERY HARD to not see the accumulation of grime, laundry, dishes, and paper (another reason to stay in bed – you can’t see as much),  it is not the worst thing in the world to lay in bed for three days! I’ve read two and a half books! I can’t remember the last time I’ve done that within a week. This probably ranks right up there with my other flu accomplishment: extreme sweating. (I try hard not to do it ON the books.)

And people around here can be quite sweet when Mom is sick: they pack their own lunches  (Amos: “I hated my lunch today! Why’d you pack that stuff?”, Me: “I didn’t. You did.” Amos: “Oh, yeah.”); they shove enormous quantities of grime, laundry, and paper under their own beds (also known as “picking up”) so Mom won’t see it as she totters back and forth from the bathroom; they bring tea and only slosh a little bit on the floor; they helpfully wear the same clothes more than once (“Look! I found a nearly clean shirt under my bed!”); and they bring you your book if you leave it in the bathroom.

That’s real love. It’s worth a little illness to see it in action. – Katie