A Texas Cousins Adventure Story: Shannon the Stinker

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Once upon a time, when dinosaurs walked the earth, Shannon was last. She wasn’t the last last, but she was the Latest Last. And she hated it.

To her siblings and cousins, being last meant she was the baby, the favored one. Spoiled. To Shannon, it meant she was always too-slow, too-young, and left-behind.

Being a bit stiff-necked and slightly strong in the backbone, Shannon, the Latest Last, became a Stinker who Startled. She had to put her littleness to good use after all.

In the morning, she would jump out at Mommy from under her covers:

Rawwww!

In the afternoon, she would pounce out at Daddy from behind a big rock:

Booooo!

In the evening, she would wait so still and then:

AAAAGUH!

grab Constance or Joshua’s leg from under the bed.

When her cousins came it only got worse.

From behind doors, out from under big leaves, off the backs of triceratops, Shannon sprang with a wild shout, frightening Imogene, surprising Jude, and making Remi cry. Jules, Constance, Bruce, Joshua, and Ellie—the older kids—chased Shannon away for causing such an annoying ruckus.

Shannon frowned as she plopped down beside the brachiosaurus herd. No one wanted her around. They didn’t let her play and they didn’t want to be startled. She crossed her arms with a grunt.

A large, long-necked brachiosaur lowered its mighty head to look at the little pouting girl. Shannon stared into its soft brown eyes. She smiled slowly to herself.

WOOOOOOOOWOOOO!

She sprang up, waved her arms, and shouted as loud as she could.

The brachiosaur leapt straight up in the air.

Thud!

Then thud again!

Its tail fell off and flopped to the ground. Away the brachiosaur ran, leaving it behind.

Shannon’s mouth gaped open as she stared at the giant, writhing tail and the disappearing brachiosaur.

Laughter erupted from the bushes behind her.

Out spilled her siblings and cousins.

“Did you see that?” Joshua shouted.

“It lost its tail, it was so frightened.” Bruce held his sides and doubled over with giggles.

Jules pointed at the rest of the herd in the field. “Let’s do it again!”

Ellie and Constance gave Shannon a big hug.

Shannon smiled.

“You’re ridiculous.” Imogene declared and even Remi laughed.

Jude put his arm around Shannon. “Show us how to do it.”

“Like this.”

Shannon, the Latest Last, led the way out into the field. Every child sat so quiet not even a mouse noticed them, then:

BANGERANG!!!!

They all shouted at once.

THUD! THUD! THUD!

Tails dropped and giant dinosaurs raced away from the scary things in the grass.

Shannon had found where she fit and felt much less left-behind, too-young, or too-slow. Maybe being the Latest Last wasn’t so bad when she could be a Stinker with everyone.

That night, Mommy made a wonderful dinner of dinosaur tail, and everyone reenacted—over and over again—how Shannon had startled the first brachiosaur.

 —

Next time you chase down a lizard and it loses its tail, remember Shannon the Stinker who Startled.

The End

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“Why’d you write such a silly story about me???”

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A Texas Brothers Adventure Story

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Courtesy of Grandpa.

 

Grammie straightened up from her garden, stretching her back.

“I’m getting too old for this and miss my helpers,” she said to the sky.

Grandpa hefted out a load of old cardboard boxes to use as mulch. “It’s a lot quieter without the kids, for sure, but maybe it’s time to work with the new generation.” Before Grammie could decide if that was a good idea or not, Grandpa whipped out his phone and summoned two of his grandsons: Bruce and Jude.

In a few minutes, their mommy dropped them off.

The clear spring sun shone down on the early rising flowers. The cold wind nodded their yellow and pink heads. Bruce and Jude looked at the fresh dirt, the compost, and the garden hoes, rakes, and shovels.

“What are we doing?” Bruce hurried up and pulled a shovel out of the pile.

Grammie rested  her hands on her rake’s handle. “We’re going to lay all that cardboard out, soak it, and cover it with compost. Wanna help?”

“Sure!” Bruce said.

Jude took his thumb out of his mouth, smiled, and babbled excitedly.

Gardening is an adventure when you’re five and almost two!

Following Grandpa’s instructions, Bruce carted out a big cardboard box while Jude dragged one behind him. Grammie took it and placed it just right.

Back and forth, back and forth, Bruce and Jude tromped with the boxes.

“Enough!” Grammie shouted.

Grandpa uncoiled the house and sprayed.

Water, water, water everywhere! Bruce and Jude splashed. They skipped through the puddles. They hopped from one to one to one as the cardboard wilted. Grandpa held the hose up like a fountain. Squealing, Jude ran through the sprinkles.

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Courtesy of Grandpa.

 

“Compost!” Grammie grabbed up a shovel and handed it to Bruce. Grandpa got a rake for Jude.

Working up a sweat, Grammie, Grandpa, Bruce, and Jude scooped, scraped, hoed, harrowed, dug, and threw fresh new dirt still littered with egg shells, vegetable ends, and rotting leaves over the cardboard.

“Look!” Bruce pointed. A small tan gecko raced up out of Grammie’s compost pile. Bruce dropped his shovel and jumped after the swift lizard. Jude watched, wide-eyed, dirty finger in his mouth.

“I caught it!”

Bruce held out his hand to Grandpa. The gecko leapt off into the bushes.

“Oh…” On Bruce’s palm rested a small, wiggling brown tail.

Bruce flinched, dropping it.

Jude bent down. Bruce bent down. They studied the tail.

It wiggled.

They both stepped back.

“Did it lose its tail?” Grandpa asked.

“Yes! Why did it lose its tail?”

Jude grunted and pointed. Gingerly, Bruce picked the tail back up.

“Lizards drop their tails so they can distract you and make their escapes,” Grammie explained.

“And it worked.” Grandpa smiled. “Now back to work.”

Many hours later, Grammie, Grandpa, Bruce, and Jude sat on the porch enjoying a cold cup of water while they waited for the boys’ mommy.

“Bruce?” Grandpa asked. “You didn’t put that lizard tail in your pocket did you?”

“No, I left it in the dirt. I’ll go get it. Then I can show Mommy.”

“How about you just tell her about it,” Grandpa suggested. “She’ll like to hear about it better.”

Bruce nodded. “I can tell her the story, for sure. Mommy doesn’t like bugs and lizards in the house.”

Jude smiled, reached in his pocket and said, “TAIL!” Out came the brown stump.

“Mommy won’t be happy with gardening day,” Bruce said.

The End

Happy Birthday Bruce!

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Silly Boy! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

My nephew Bruce is often a main character in my Texas Cousins Adventure stories. Today, he turns 5! I can’t imagine life without him. He is smart, funny, extra fast, loves anything with wheels, loves movies and stories, has an over active imagination, and is very tall.

I love our movie dates together and I love that he loves Chronicles of Narnia.

I love you Bruce! Happy Birthday!

 

Thanksgiving 8: A Texas Cousins Adventure

Courtesy of Google.

Courtesy of Google.

Today, I’m thankful for all my wonderful, super intelligent, cute-as-can-be nieces and nephews: Jules, Constance, Bruce, Joshua, Ellie, Imogene, Jude, Remi, and soon to be Shannon. My brothers and sisters have some really great kids and I love them so much. This story and all the others are for all y’all!

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

Once upon a time, three nephews and six nieces, hurried over to Grammie and Grandpa’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving. They gathered into the warm home with many trampings, stampings, and hollerings. Boots, sweaters, and scarves piled around the front door while aunts and uncles, and mommies and daddies carried in many dishes of sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries, and pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin pie!

Soon everyone settled in with mugs of coffee to wait for the turkey to finish cooking. Toys filled the living room, laughter and sarcasm rang through the rafters, and a roaring fire warmed several backsides.

Suddenly, a loud voice broke through the holiday cheer: “I don’t like these toys.”

Then someone else said: “I’m tired of waiting to eat.”

Two little complaints opened the flood gates.

“Go away, I don’t want you to play with me.”

“I want to watch a movie. I hate playing with trains.”

“Why do the girls have to be here?”

“Why won’t the boys go away?”

“I don’t want turkey for dinner.”

“I don’t want pumpkin pie.”

“I’m hot!”

Complaining, complaining, complaining. Nothing was right. Everything was wrong. No one was getting what they wanted.

Grammie gasped and stormed into the living room, her eyes blazing.

“Stop this right now!”

Nine cousins cowered. Grammie frowned hands on hips. “It’s Thanksgiving Day! Today we’re supposed to be thankful, not complaining.”

“What is being thankful?” Remi asked tears in her eyes.

“Everyone up on the couch.” Grammie sat down in the middle and the cousins climbed up around her.

All the mommies and daddies, and aunties and uncles gathered around the edges of the room smiling to each other. They remembered when Grammie had frowned at them as children.

“Did you know complaining is wrong?” Grammie asked.

“Wrong?” Bruce crossed his arms. “Why is it wrong?”

“Because it is saying in your heart that God is not good and the Bible says He is good. Instead of complaining, we’re supposed to be thankful. Let’s try it.”

Silence. Not one cousin had one reason to be thankful.

“I’ll start.” Grammie smiled. “I’m thankful for all of you and all of you being here today. Not everyone gets to be with their family on Thanksgiving, but I do. I’m very thankful.”

“I’m thankful for you Grammie!” Jules hopped up and gave Grammie a hug.

Now, everyone wanted to join in in being thankful.

“I’m thankful for horses, and books, and my baby Shannon,” Constance said.

“I’m thankful for movies and tractors.” Bruce uncrossed his arms and smiled.

Joshua jumped off the couch and grabbed up a dinosaur. “I’m thankful for dragons and swords!”

Ellie looked from Jules to the dinosaur and back. “I love Jules!” she shouted joining in the Grammie and Jules’ hug.

“Remi! Mommy! Daddy!” Imogene chanted excited by all her cousins yelling.

“I think Imogene is thankful for her family,” Aunt Abby said.

Jude growled and held up a fireman’s axe.

“And I think Jude is thankful for Vikings,” said Uncle Jason.

Everyone looked expectantly at Remi and Shannon. The two little girls stared back at their large, loud family. They grinned and gurgled.

“That means they’re thankful for pumpkin pie.” Aunt Emily translated.

“Now do you understand being thankful?” Grammie asked. “Instead of seeing what you don’t have, you need to see what you do have. You need to see all the ways God has been good to you. They far out-weigh all the things you don’t like.”

“Thanksgiving Day.” Bruce spread his arms wide. “The day we’re thankful for all God has given us!”

‘And God bless us, every one!’” Grammie said.

“Silly Grammie.” Jules kissed her cheek. “That’s Christmas.”

“I’m thankful for Christmas,” Aunt Liz and Aunt Abby and Uncle Matt said in unison.

Several family members groaned.

The End.

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Texas Cousins Adventure Story: Happy Endings (Part 2): The Story

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

(Part 1)

Curled up together while the autumn storm raged outside, nine cousins listened to Aunt Abby’s story:

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Once upon a time, a ghost named Bruce haunted an old abandoned barn out in a cow pasture. He liked the barn with its old tin roof and gray pine-board walls worn down by wind and rain. He liked the old field with its tuffs of grass and wild flowers in the spring. But, Bruce was lonely. Haunting an old barn and scaring away kids was all good and fun, but sometimes he wished the kids would stay. He wished they’d run and scream with him instead of away from him.

One day, a brown and white puppy dog came sniffing around the barn.

“Hello!” Bruce called, floating up.

The puppy raised its nose from where he’d been sniffing a pile of trash and growled at the ghost.

Bruce darted back in the window of the barn. After waiting a moment, he peeked out. The puppy barked again. Bruce flew up through the floor to the dangerous second story. He counted to five: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Peek.

Bark! Bark!

Hide.

After several more attempts to not be barked at involving the gutters, the empty trough, and a blue glass bottle, Bruce realized they were playing hide and seek. He thought and thought for the best place to hide from the puppy. The old watering can? The fox hole in the barnyard? The chicken coop?

He tried each one and every time, bark! bark! the puppy found him.

Around and around the barn the ghost and the puppy raced. Here! There! Under! Over! In! and Out!

“Jude! Oh Jude!” a Princess shouted.

Bruce and the puppy came to a sudden halt.

“Jude? Where are you?”

The puppy gave a cheerful yip and raced out of the barn and into the Princesses arms. She cuddled him up and he licked and licked her face.

“Where have you been, silly dog?”

With a giant wiggle, the puppy escaped her hug. He tugged on her beautiful pink dress leading her back to the barn yard.

Bruce wisped through a wall. Playing with the puppy had been fun, but if this Princess swy him it’d be all back to screaming and running away. Bruce decided to hide for real and wafted all the way up to the very tip top of the barn.

“What is it Jude?” the Princess asked.

Jude barked at the ghost. Nothing. He barked again. No ghost.

Suddenly, an orange and brown owl, hooting indignantly, darted from the top of the barn. She spread her wings and gracefully swooped around and around the princess until she lighted on the ground.

“He’s hiding up there?” She pointed with her wing.

“What?” the Princess said unsurprised by the owl’s ability to talk. She was, after all, a very wise and round owl why shouldn’t she speak. “Who are you?”

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“I’m Imogene the Owl. Jude wants you to meet his new friend, Bruce the ghost, but Bruce is hiding at the top of the barn.”

“Why?”

“He’s sure you’ll be afraid of him.”

“I’m not afraid! My fairy god-mother, Ellie, made me unafraid of everything.”

The owl blinked her two large eyes at the Princess. She never ceased to be amazed at the silly gifts fairies gave their charges. “Very well, I’ll go tell him.”

“I’ll come too,” the Princess said.

She hiked up her very full skirt and tromped into the barn with Jude at her heels.

Imogene shook her head at the silly, unafraid Princess, beat her wings, and flew back up to the roof to speak with Bruce before the something bad happened.

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The floor creaked and groaned under the Princess’s every step as she made her way to the stairs leading up into the gloom. Several boards were missing, but being brave, she climbed over these with Jude under one arm until she reached the dangerous second floor. A shaft of weak light fell across a ladder on the other side of the room.

“We must climb that ladder!” The Princess exclaimed.

Jude sniffed the floor. He didn’t trust it one bit, but the Princess hurried across.

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Up in his hiding spot, Bruce listened to Imogene as she told him about the Princess’s fairy curse. Maybe, just maybe this girl could be his friend if she wasn’t afraid of anything.

A scream sounded from below.

Jude barked: hurry hurry!

Oh no! Bruce flew down from the top of the barn passing through walls, floors, hay, dust, nests, and droppings.

“Princess!?” he shouted.

Then he saw her feet dangling through the dangerous second floor. Dirt covered her perfect glass slippers and a cut bled on her knee. The boards had given way under her as she tried to reach the ladder. Worse yet, her scream had woken Joshua the Dragon who slept under the barn. He loved Princesses most of all for dinner and he was very hungry when her yells woke him from his long autumn nap.

Bruce charged through the floor and stopped in front of the Princess.

“Hush! Hush.” Bruce pressed his finger to his lips. “You’ve woken Joshua up.”

“Who’s Joshua?” The Princess asked between gasps as she tried to keep from falling through the hole.

“He’s the dragon that lives under the barn.” Bruce tried to grab her hand but he kept floating right through her.

“What’s a dragon doing here?”

“Waiting to eat people.”

“Oh dear.” The Princess wasn’t afraid of Joshua the Dragon, she was far more worried about trying to explain to her parents how she ripped her dress and then got eaten. They wouldn’t be happy with her. “You have to find a way to help me up.”

Bruce zipped around and around thinking who could help. Think. Zip. Think. Zip.

The Princess slid further down into the whole.

Joshua the Dragon growled and climbed towards her.

Jude barked and barked chasing after the zipping, thinking ghost only to run back and bark at the dragon, and then tug on the Princess’s sleeve.

“I’ve got it!” Bruce flew like the wind out of the barn.

Faster and faster he floated. Bruce passed through trees, houses, and even a cow until he came to the creek where the water nymph, Constance, lived.

“Constance!” he called. “Help! Help!”

Out of the creek, rose a silvery girl with long locks of hair that flowed behind her when she swam. In her arms, a little nymph boy with big eyes sucked on the empty shell of a snail.

“What is it Bruce?”

“The Unafraid Princess fell through the floor and woke Joshua up and now he’s going to eat her!”

“That silly dragon always forgets he swore to stop eating princesses years ago.” Constance set the little nymph boy down. “Stay here Rook, until I get back. And no teasing the fish!”

Together, Bruce and Constance hurried back to the barn, passing back through trees and houses, though Constance made him go around the cow, instead of through it, much to the joy of the cow. Back in the barn, Constance, with the help of Jude, pulled the Princess up through the hole and onto boards that were safer.

“Just because you aren’t afraid,” Constance said. “Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make wise decisions. Didn’t Ellie the Fairy explain that?”

POP!

As Constance said her name, Ellie appeared.

“You called?” she said.

Joshua roared. The whole barn shook.

“My goodness. What is that?” Ellie peered down into the whole.

“That is Joshua the Dragon, which your Princess woke up because she’s not afraid of anything.”

“Well, not exactly—” the Princess started to explain, but Ellie loudly interrupted.

“Why would you go and do something like that?”

“I didn’t mean to wake him up.”

Joshua spread his wings and flew up into the room breaking the dangerous second floor to bits. Ellie fluttered out of the barn with the Princess who was still not scared. Constance grabbed up Jude and hurried out of the dragon’s way with Bruce behind them. Interrupted from her afternoon sleep by all the racket, Imogene came to see what had happened.

“I smell a tasty Princess!” Joshua snapped lashing his tail. “And I’m HUNGRY!”

Everyone stared at the big green dragon.

“No.” Bruce said. “No. You can’t eat her.”

“Why not?” Joshua growled. Smoke drifted up out of his large nose.

“Cause she’s my friend. And her dog is my friend.”

“Isn’t Imogene the Owl your friend, and Constance the water nymph, and Ellie the Fairy?”

Bruce looked around at not just the Princess and Jude, but also at the others gathered to help him.

“Don’t forget me!” a small voice said. “I’m your friend too.” Out of the barn fluttered a small moth with wild hair.

“Hello Remi,” Joshua said. He blew a soft puff of air at her to help her over to Bruce.

“Thank you, Joshua,” she huffed quite out of breath.

“All of you are my friends?” Bruce said.

“Of course!” Ellie shouted.

“But I’ve felt so lonely.”

“Maybe it took the unafraid Princess to remind you that you have lots of friends,” Constance said.

“Are you really going to eat me?” The Princess reminded them of why they were all here.

Joshua opened his big great mouth. Rows and rows of teeth gleamed in the sunshine. Smoke billowed up out of his throat.

“No.” He clamped his mouth shut. “No. I just remembered I promised not to eat any more Princesses.”

The unafraid Princess ran over and gave him a great big hug.

“I knew there was nothing to be scared of.”

Jude barked.

“He thinks that since we’re all here, we may as well play a game of hide-and-go-seek.” Bruce translated.

“We should!” Ellie yelled.

The dragon, nymph, fairy, princess, moth, owl, and puppy darted back into the old barn while Bruce closed his eyes and started to count.

The End

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A Texas Cousins Adventure: Happy Endings

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

Once upon a time the sun didn’t rise. Dark clouds blew in over the flat Texas plains with booming thunder and bright flashes of lightning. The wind shook Grammie and Grandpa’s little house. Hobbes, the Lab, laid his head on his paws inside his dog-house waiting for the storm to pass. Clyde, the donkey, stuck his nose deep in his trough of hay thankful for a place to escape the rain.

Aunt Abby sat in the living room next to the fireplace with four rowdy nephews and five pretty nieces gathered around her. Cups of juice and mugs of hot chocolate and coffee filled everyone’s hands.

A loud clap of thunder made the cousins jump. Remi and Rook screwed up their faces ready to cry.

“Aunt Abby,” Constance said. “Can you tell us a story?”

“I think a story is a great idea.” Aunt Abby sipped from her mug. “Stormy days are perfect for stories.”

“Will it be a scary one?” Bruce asked.

All the cousins turned to Aunt Abby to see what she would say. She pondered for a minute.

“You know Bruce, all good stories have scary parts, but the best of stories have happy endings. The very best story of all time had very scary parts: Jesus had to die to save his people. But! He rose again from the dead. See, it has to be scary before it can be happy.”

Joshua frowned. “Why?”

“Because than the happy ending means more. If it’s just happy all the time we would all take it for granted. Aren’t cookies better after you’ve had to eat all your veggies? Wouldn’t you get tired of cookies if that’s all you ate all the time?”

“No,” all the cousins chorused together.

Aunt Abby giggled. “I think it’s just the way the world is. Christmas is more special once a year in winter than all the time. Jesus could only defeat death if he first died. Aslan could only save Edmond by dying. Nemo only appreciated his dad after he lost him. It’s just the way the world works. Happy endings are best after scary parts.”

“I don’t like the scary parts and Mommy says I have to fast-forward when Aslan dies,” Bruce said.

“Yes.” Aunt Abby nodded. “There are different levels of scary and I promise this story won’t be too scary. Just a little scary.”

Ellie leapt to her feet. “I’ll be brave.”

“Me too!” Imogene jumped up.

“Too!” shouted Remi grabbing Imogene’s hand as she stood up.

Jude growled and joined the girls. Not to be outdone, Bruce, Julie, Constance, Joshua, and Rook all came to their feet.

“Shall we all be brave together?” Aunt Abby asked.

“Yes!”

A loud clap of thunder startled everyone. They looked out at the storm raging around Grammie and Grandpa’s house. Lightning brightened up the dark day for a second. Another crash of thunder shook the windows.

“Shall we all be brave together?” Aunt Abby asked again.

“YES!” Nine cousins screamed jumping up and down, up and down.

“What is going on here?” Grandpa yelled appearing suddenly in the room.

Nine cousins and Aunt Abby screamed in fright and hugged each other.

“You scared us Grandpa!” Jules said.

“I scared you??” Grandpa smiled.

“It is a scary sort of morning.” Grammie came up behind him. “Is Aunt Abby going to tell you a story?”

“Yes,” Constance said, “with only a little bit of a scary part so we can have a happy ending.”

“And I’m going to be brave.” Ellie pointed at herself and grinned.

“Me too,” everyone else said.

“Good.” Grandpa sat down. “I’ll listen to the story too.”

“I’ll hold your hand in case you get scared.” Remi took Grandpa’s hand.

“Do you know what Grammie says about stories with scary parts and happy endings?” Aunt Abby said. “You know, ‘those best of stories’?”

“No, what do you say Grammie?” Jules pranced over to Grammie and took her hand. Her eight other cousins gathered around Grammie.

Grammie sat down taking Jude into her lap. Imogene snuggled down on one side of her and Ellie on the other. The older cousins arrange themselves cross-legged in front of her, and Constance pulled Rook close.

“Stories, good ones, let us practice being brave before we have to be.”

The nine cousins looked questioningly at one another and then back at Grammie.

“What does that mean?” Joshua said what they were all wondering.

Grandpa explained. “There will be things in your life that might be hard, or scary, or sad. But if you’ve read the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe you can remember that Aslan beat the witch, ended winter, and Christmas came back. You can remember brave King Peter and brave Lucy and that can help you be brave.”

“And,” Aunt Abby said. “You can remember how even after being so mean and selfish, Edmond was forgiven. That will help you have courage when you need to ask someone to forgive you when you’ve been mean.”

“I want to be High King Peter,” Bruce said.

“I want to be Lucy,” Ellie said louder.

“Yes!” Grammie clapped. “We can practice being brave with them when they go through the wardrobe, and when they have to fight the White Witch, so that when it’s our turn to be brave we’re prepared.”

Bruce stared into the fire for a minute. “Aunt Abby? I don’t mind if the story you tell has a scary part.”

“I promise it will have a happy ending afterwards.”

“Well, tell the story!” Jude exclaimed.

Grammie and Grandpa moved closer to the fire. Jules, Constance, Bruce, Joshua, Ellie, Imogene, Jude, Rook and Remi filled laps and gathered close up on different sides. Outside the thunder boomed, boomed, boomed. The lightning flashed. The wind howled around the eaves. No one gave it a second thought because inside they were warm and comfy. The fire burned brightly. The hot chocolate warmed them, and Aunt Abby began her story:

“Once upon a time . . .”

(To be continued)

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

My newest and most beautiful little niece is here! Love you Remit! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

My newest and most beautiful little niece is here! Love you Remi! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Being Bored, or Home School Bad Words

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

Once upon a time, the plague struck and everyone got sick. Jules and Ellie, Constance and Joshua, Bruce and Jude, Imogene and Remi, and even Rook and Aunt Abby. Everyone got sick.

Grammie strapped on her apron, put all the pillows and blankets on the couch, and made all the cousins lay down. Nine children and one grown-up had their temperature taken, water refreshed, essential oils applied, and hot tea drunk.

“I’m bored,” Bruce announced once everyone was settled in.

“Me too!” Ellie agreed.

“No!” gasped Aunt Abby. “Don’t say the B-word!”

Jules propped her head up on her elbow. “The b-word? What’s that?”

“It’s a bad word,” Aunt Abby explained. “Like the s-word.”

“What’s the s-word?” Bruce said.

“Stupid.”

Imogene and Jude’s mouths dropped open.

Constance rolled over on her tummy. “I thought the s-word was Shut Up.”

“Sometimes it is.” Aunt Abby coughed and closed her eyes.

“Are you sick?” Bruce asked.

“Yes. Aren’t you?”

“Yes. So is Jude.”

Joshua frowned. “Aunt Abby, why is bored a bad word?”

“Cause when you say you’re bored, Mommy gives you chores to do.”

All the cousins grimaced.

“That is bad,” Constance said.

“What are we supposed to do, then?” Rook asked.

Remi nodded in agreement pulling her stuffed dolly closer.

Aunt Abby sipped her hot tea. “Well, Uncle Price always says, ’boredom sets into the boring mind’.”

“What does THAT mean?” Jules said.

Ellie took a sip of her tea and so did Imogene watching Aunt Abby closely.

“It means that if you’re bored it’s cause your brain is boring.”

Bruce flopped back on his pillow. “My brains not boring.”

“Mine either,” Imogene and Ellie both said at the same time while flopping back on their pillows too.

“Then think of something to do.”

Jules sighed dramatically. “I can’t and it’s making us all say the b-word over and over.”

Constance straightened Remi’s blanket. “She’s right.”

Aunt Abby closed her eyes in thought.

“You could tell a story,” suggested Imogene.

Aunt Abby shook her head and pointed at her throat.

“We could play chase?” Bruce threw out next.

Aunt Abby groaned.

“We could eat a snack?” Ellie smiled.

“My tummy hurts,” Joshua said.

“Me too,” everyone else said.

“I know!” Aunt Abby sat right up.

“What!!??” Jules, Ellie, Constance, Joshua, Bruce, Jude, Imogene, Remi, and Rook all said at once.

“The best way to avoid the bad word and get well as quickly as possible is to build a fort.”

Everyone completely agreed.

With Aunt Abby directing, books were gathered to hold the ends of blankets and pillows were stacked to make walls.

Grammie came into her rearranged living room with everyone hidden under the fort and said, “What happened in here?!”

“We’re getting better!” Remi declared.

“I see that.”

“And we’re not saying any bad words and we don’t need any chores,” Jules clarified.

Aunt Abby snorted.

Grammie hesitated. “I’m glad you’re not saying any bad words and I wasn’t coming in with chores, but to see who might want to watch a movie or color?”

The nine cousins glared at Aunt Abby.

“I though you said she’d give us chores,” Jules said.

“No. I said your Mommies would. Grammies always bring good things.”

“That’s true,” said Joshua.

THE END

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

 

Swings and Lawn Mowers

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

Jules

Once upon a time, a little girl with flowing hair and a bright smile held a baby bunny in her hands. Her Daddy had found the bunny lost in their yard. The little girl stroked his extra soft fur. She cuddle him close to make sure he wasn’t scared.

With help from her Mommy, the little girl made the bunny a soft home and fed him lots of carrots. But, her Mommy said they could only keep him for a short time. See, the bunny was wild and wild bunnies have to live in the wild. The little girl was sad but she understood. She knew the bunny had to go home. So one bright morning, the little girl let the bunny go back into the deep grass. She let him go.

“Don’t forget me,” she called to the bunny as he hopped away. And the bunny never did.

Constance

Once upon a time there was a girl who kept a bookmark in a special place in her special book. She kept her most favorite picture marked so she could look at it anytime she pleased. And this special place, you ask?

This special place was a picture of a golden horse who could fly. The horse could bound over buildings. The horse could soar through the clouds and follow rainbows. Two best friends loved the golden horse, and the girl with the bookmark hoped that one day she could find her own magical horse and her own best friend

One day, one perfect day, she did.

Bruce

Once upon a time, a little boy with blond hair and blue eyes had a birthday. On his very special day, the day the whole family celebrated his birth, his Grandpa and Grammie made him a swing.

Now, this swing was hung in a great oak tree. His Grandpa and Grammie came over on a special trip just for him, just to hang it.

The little boy was so pleased. He loved his swing. Almost every day he climbed up on the flat board, took hold of the ropes on either side and pushed up off the earth. Higher and higher he swung, pumping his long legs and laughing for joy. Back and forth, back and forth the swing swung make believing the boy could fly.

Joshua

Once upon a time, a boy with a wonderful smile got a new pair of shoes. They weren’t like his other sneakers. They weren’t like his boots. They weren’t like his Sunday shoes or his sandals. They were magical shoes. Magical? Yes. With every step the boy took, his shoes lit up. Lights flashed across the back and sides.

Hop. Hop. Hop.

The boy bounced through the house watching his shoes flash.

With these new sneakers the boy could run faster, jump higher, and do great deeds of daring much to his mother’s great delight, for they were magical shoes.

Ellie

Once upon a time, there was a little girl with blonde curls who delighted in everything. She loved the old hole in the parking lot. She loved her Sunday School teacher. She loved her Mommy. She loved her Daddy. She loved her Sister. She even loved the bathroom.

There was nothing in the world that the little girl didn’t find amazing. Bugs, rain, mud, coloring, singing, duck-duck-goose, Simon says, running, Grammie, Grandpa, everyone and everything was worth seeing and doing and that’s just what she did.

Imogene

Once upon a time, there was a little ginger girl who lived out in the country far away from busy city streets and hustle and bustle. She lived with a tangled mess of a dog and a cat, tall weeds, trees and other neighbors’ pets. She lived where the bugs grew big in the summer and the old barn always needed to be explored again.

Every few weeks, her Daddy would drive the big old mower out and cut the grass back to a manageable height. The ginger girl was fascinated by the big old mower. She ran from window to window on her little legs watching her Daddy mow, watching the bugs fly out of the path, watching the grass blow away.

When, oh when, would she be old enough to mow, too?

Jude

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who loved to smile. He smiled at his cousins. He smiled at his mommy and daddy. He smiled at Grandpas, Grammie, aunties and uncles. He smiled at everyone. But, most of all, he smiled at his big brother. He also growled and hollered with his big brother. He thought everything his big brother did was awesome and to be immediately copied to the best of his ability. And who wouldn’t with a cool big brother like his? Who wouldn’t smile?

Rook

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who tasted food for the first time. Now, this little boy’s Momma was a wonderful cook and she’d been waiting and waiting for the day he could try food for the first time. One day, he did. And oh how magical the world seemed them. Not just a world of color and light, night and dark, nor just a world of hard and soft, warm and cold, but a world of sweet, bitter, sour, salty, savory, lumpy goodness…and peaches were his favorite…though chocolate wasn’t bad either.

Remi

Once upon a time, there was a little unborn girl. Safely growing inside her Mommy, she listened to her sister, her parents, her dog and cat, her loud cousins (there seemed so many of them), her aunts and uncles, and her grandparents. She listened to them sing. She listened to them pray. She listened to the words of love they spoke to each other every day.

One day soon she would meet them all face to face. She would see them all and she would touch them all. One day she would feel and know the love she only now could hear.

…and they all lived happily ever after…

Bruce swinging with Grandpa Ronnie!

Bruce swinging with Grandpa Ronnie!

 

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Real Love

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Aunt Abby?” Joshua asked. “Can you tell us a story? A story about Dusty?”

“Well, I think Dusty might have more than enough of his own stories,” Aunt Abby said. “How about a story about love.”

“Ewww,” Bruce said wrinkling his knows. “That’s gross.”

“Love is NOT gross,” Jules exclaimed bopping Bruce on the back of the head.

“Yes it is!” he yelled bopping her back.

“Hey now, hey now,” Aunt Abby said separating them. “We’ll have none of that, thank you very much.”

“He’s wrong though,” Jules exclaimed. “Isn’t he?”

“Yes, Jules, love is one of the most wonderful things in the world. The Bible teaches us that. But Bruce may be confusing real love and eewwy-gooey love.”

“What do you mean?” Bruce asked.


Once upon a time, eight cousins—four boys and four girls in cowboy boots—bounded onto Grammie and Grandpa’s Texas Ranch. Hobbes, the golden lab, greeted them with a wag of his tail and licked every face. Clyde, the gray donkey, pointed his big ears at them and let out a loud, “Hee-Haw, Hee-Haw”. The cousins hugged Hobbes, hugged each other and hugged Grammie. They dog-piled Grandpa laughing as he tickled them left and right.

“Shouldn’t there be nine of us?” Constance whispered.

Yes, what about Imogene’s baby?” Ellie asked.

“Yes, what about my baby that’s in Mommy’s tummy?” Imogene asked.

“We don’t know what you’re Mommy is having yet, so we have to wait. It’s like the best present ever! It’s the present of a new person!”

They arrived on a fine spring day from all over the place. They came with the first of the flowers and the first buds on the trees. They came with the dancing wind and the still cool breeze. Joy filled there air as the cousins came together at the Ranch, the magic of all that they would do, all that they could do when they were together.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” Jules said handing Grammie a pink card when they got inside.

“Is it Valentine’s Day?” Jules exclaimed.

“Yes, in this story it is.”

“Oh good, Valentine’s is my most favorite day ever.”

“Yes, I know.”

Everyone passed out little pink and red Valentine’s. Some had stickers, some had fake tattoos, some had funny sayings, but all of them were covered in hearts, hearts, hearts.

“Hearts for love,” Jules sang dancing around the room. “And I love everyone.”

“No you don’t,” Bruce said.

Jude smiled at Bruce having played the ‘no you don’t’ game many times.

“Well, everyone who is good. Everyone who isn’t bad.”

“You don’t know everyone,” Joshua pointed out as he dumped out the car bucket.

“I know everyone,” Bruce said.

“No one knows everyone.” Constance agreed with Joshua.

“God does,” Imogene said. “God knows all things.”

“See,” Jules smiled. “If God’s knows everyone so can I.”

“Know you can’t,” Bruce disagreed.

“Only God knows all things,” Ellie explained.

“Well,” broke in Grandpa. “We know at least two of you are learning your catechism. Jules, if you love someone what does that mean?”

Jules stopped dancing around the room and frowned at her Grandpa pondering.

“It means you kiss them!” exclaimed Imogene kissing Grandpa on his near-by knee.

“And hug them!” added Ellie.

“And don’t bite them,” said Rook who had heard this from his momma a lot lately.

“It means you make sure they have food to eat, like Mommy and Daddy do. They love us!” explained Constance.

“Right,” agreed Bruce. “And you don’t hit them.”

“Nope,” Joshua said. “We’re not allowed to hit.”

“And you ask their forgiveness when you do something bad?” Jules ventured.

“Yes, but what are all those things?” Grandpa asked.

The eight cousins stared at Grandpa and slowly blinked. Grandpa sighed.

“Love is action. When you love someone you make the choice to love them every day, all the time, no matter what.”

“Wait!” Jules gasped. “It’s like Valentine’s day. We don’t just say we love each other, we give each other cards.”

“Yes, like that. It’s doing. It’s action. I don’t just tell your Grammie I love her. I get to know her. I talk with her. I spend time with her. I sacrifice for her.”

“Grandpa loves Grammie very much,” Jude stated.

“Yes I do. You know who else I love?”

“Who?” gasped Ellie, her blue eyes opening wide.

“You!” Grandpa bellowed. “All of you!”

“Us?” Bruce wasn’t so sure.

“Yes! Do you know how you know I love you?”

The eight cousins glanced around the room for clues.

“You let us play with your cars,” Joshua pointed out.

“Yes.”

“You give us raisins and animal crackers,” Imogene smiled.

“Yes!”

“You chase us,” Bruce said.

“You throw the ball for us,” added Jude.

“And you have movies we like.” Constance patted the TV.

“Yes, yes, yes.”

“You have us over,” Rook said, “a lot.”

“You let us dress up and play Pirates!” shouted Ellie.

“You let us play with Grammies doll house and polly pockets and you have a room with pictures of us so we can spend the night,” Jules said all in one breath. “Guys!” she turned to all her cousins. “Grandpa really loves us. You know how we can tell?”

“HOW???” the other seven cousins gasped in unison.

“Look at all he’s done for us! That’s how we know he loves us!”

“I bet,” Grammie said, “that even if Grandpa was gone today slaying dragons, you would still know he loves you.”

“Grandpa slays dragons?” Joshua asked.

“Yes,” Grammie said. “He’s one of the best dragon slayers ever.”

“You know what?” Grandpa asked. “This is how believers know God loves them. God gave Christ to die for sinners and then shows us every day, even when we can’t see Him, that He loves us. Love is not a feeling. Love is an action. And because this is what God does, we do the same. That’s how Grammies and Grandpas, Mommys and Daddys, Brothers and Sisters, and Cousins show love. By our actions.”

“Let’s all be loved,” Grammie said.

The eight cousins dropped their toys and gathered around Grandpa and Grammie. They hugged and squeezed.

“Let’s all be loved!!!


“So Bruce, what do you think? Is that a gross love?” Aunt Abby asked.

“No,” Bruce hesitated, “I don’t think so.”

“You don’t think so,” Jules gasped. “I know so. I also know I love you and so I’m sorry I bopped you on the head. Will you forgive me?”

Bruce looked from Jules to Aunt Abby and back.

“Yes!” He gave Jules a big hug. “Will you forgive me for bopping you back?”

“Yes!” Jules gave Bruce a big hug.

“Look!” Imogene declared. “We love each other!”

The eight cousins smiled big smiles.

“Yes, we do,” Aunt Abby said.

The End10801629_10205412873871223_4584408967729332710_n

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

 

The Holly Berry Battle

by Elizabeth Groves

Bruce by Elizabeth Groves

Aunt Abby got sick right after Christmas. She lay on the couch bundled in all sorts of blankets and surrounded by mugs of tea and water. One day, Bruce came to see her with his Mommy and some groceries.

“Are you sick?” he asked.

“Yes, I am sick,” Aunt Abby said.

“Are you going to write another story soon?”

Aunt Abby smiled for there is no better question to ask a writer.

“I will, as soon as I’m well.”

“Can it be about holly berries?”

“Holly berries?”

“Yes.”

“I guess so.”


 

For Bruce: Once upon a time, a little Auntie lived in a little house, on a little bit of land with several large oak trees. Across the street, make sure you look both ways, lived her two blond-haired, blue eyed-nephews. One was still quite little though he had a smile that could charm the world. The other, Bruce, was quite tall and not little at all. He was so not little that he was often mistaken for a four or a five year old, even sometimes by his little Auntie.

One day, when the smiling nephew wasn’t smiling so much Auntie offered to take Bruce on a walk to the park. Bruce’s mom bundled him in a coat and off they went. First, they had to make their way past the super dangerous traffic. Auntie tightly held Bruce’s hand until they were safe. Then, they had to cross the big open lawn filled with squirrels hunting for pecans. Auntie and Bruce chased several squirrels, but the squirrels were always faster.

“Look at all the puppies!” Bruce exclaimed pointing.

So, next they let kind old dogs sniff their fingers and patted many heads.

“Look up there!” Auntie said.

They turned their faces to the sky and Auntie pointed out the bird’s nests in the bare branches left over from the summer and the squirrel nests being prepared for the winter. Finished looking up, the chased leaves, collected rocks, and had a sword fight with two sticks. When both their stick swords broke, they poked their noses behind two trees and found a little path.

“Should we see where the path goes?” Auntie asked.

“Yes!” hollered Bruce.

Going with great care, watching for huffalumps and woozles, listening for dragons and giant spiders, Auntie and Bruce crept down the path. The path twisted between trees. It climbed up a small hill and slid down the other side. It snaked around a small creek and then stopped.

It stopped right beside a holly tree covered with holly berries. Dark green leaves with pointy ends covered the tree and little red berries brightened the day.

“Look Bruce! It looks like Christmas all in one tree!” Auntie said.

She started to sing an old song called the Holly and the Ivy quiet off key.

“No it doesn’t and don’t sing,” Bruce ordered with a twinkle in his eye.

This only made Auntie sing louder, “The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown . . .

Bruce grabbed a handful of bright red holly berries and threw them at his Auntie. She stopped singing with a gasp!

“Bruce!”

Without warning, Auntie gathered up some berries and dumped them on Bruce’s head. He squealed as they rolled down under his shirt. With that, the battle of the berries began. Back and forth, dancing around and around the holly tree, giggling for all they were worth, Auntie and Bruce pelted each other with holly berries.

Soon, all the berries they could reach were gone. Their hands were scratched from the sharp leaves. Their cheeks were red from the battle and their eyes sparkled.

“Good battle,” Auntie said holding out her hand.

Bruce shook it seriously. “Good battle.”

“Now, let’s go home and get something warm to drink.”

Hand in hand, Auntie and Bruce, followed the trail back through the trees, noticed nests, patted dogs, and chased away the squirrels. Hand in hand, they braved the sidewalk beside the dangerous traffic until they got back to their street.

Bruce couldn’t wait to tell his Mommy about all their adventures and the holly berry battle.


 

“How’s that for a holly berry story, Bruce?”

The End

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves