A Texas Cousins Adventure: Being Brave

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

A loud squeal of fear rang through Grammie and Grandpa’s house. All the adults came running. A big green monster growled and stalked up the hallway. Seven cousins huddled together. The monster growled and waved its claws.

“I’ll defend you,” Grandpa said jumping in front of the scary monster.

“Me too,” said Grammie drawing an invisible sword. She tossed it to Grandpa and drew another one.

The monster giggled.

“That’s not a monster,” Aunt Abby said.

“It’s not??” the seven cousins said in unison.

“I think it’s Uncle Jason.”

“Daddy!” said Ellie breaking from the huddle of frightened children to hug the green monster around the knees.

“Are you all okay?” Aunt Abby asked kneeling down in front of the kids.

“I was very scared,” said Bruce.

“Me too!” said Jules.

“I wasn’t,” said Joshua.

“Yes you were,” Constance said poking him in the shoulder. A few minutes of bickering ensued.

“Aunt Abby,” Bruce said once Grammie straightened out Joshua and Constance, “I’m not brave. I was scared.”

“Oh Bruce, you being scared doesn’t mean you aren’t brave.”

Uncle Jason pulled off the monster’s scary head. “They’re not mutually exclusive,” he said.

All seven cousins looked up at him and blinked slowly.

Ellie tried out the two big words without coming any closer to understanding them.

“What does that mean?” Jules asked wrinkling her nose.

“It means what Aunt Abby said. Being afraid doesn’t mean you’re not brave.”

“How about I tell you a story about it,” Aunt Abby said.

“Can I be brave in the story?” Bruce said.

“Is it a Once Upon A Time story?” Imogene asked taking Aunt Abby’s hand and leading her to the couch.

“A fairy tale western,” said Jude plopping down beside them.

“No Jude,” Jules said. “It’s just a western.”

“Actually,” Aunt Abby said. “This time it is a fairy tale western. Ready?”

Seven heads nodded.


Once upon a time, a chill wind blew over the Texas flatland. It blew through the fingers of the pecan trees and the oaks chasing squirrels. It whistled around noses and ears until they were red and cold. Behind the wind came a white, dense fog. Hobbes, the golden lab, stayed close to the house. Patrolling the property was complicated when it was so windy. Clyde, the donkey, kept his back to the wind. Three pairs of brown cowboy boots sat on the front porch while four pairs of pink, purple, blue, and red cowboy boots covered little painted toes down by the pond.

“Bruce, Joshua, Jude,” Grammie called.

The three boys came tramping through the house with growls, snaps, and stamping feet.

“Ohhh,” Grammie said. “Did a bunch of dinosaurs replace my grandsons?”

The boys roared and showed off their sharp teeth and sharp claws.

“Well, I need my three grand-dinosaur-sons to go outside and find their cousins. The girls went to play at the pond and it’s getting late and dark.”

Bruce, Joshua, and Jude stared out the window at the gray sky, the fog, and the cold wind dashing through the fog.

“Grammie?” Bruce said. “Can we stay inside? It looks scary out there.”

“No,” Grammie said. “It’s just the weather. Besides you wouldn’t want to leave Jules, Ellie, Constance, and Imogene out there all on their own.”

“Yes we would,” Bruce said.

“That’s not good,” Grammie said.

“But we’re scared,” Joshua said.

“Well, you’ll have to be brave,” Grammie said.

“But we’re scared,” said Jude.

“Do you know what being brave means?” asked Grammie.

“It means not being scared,” Bruce said.

“Are we in this story?” Jules said from beside Constance.

“Is this a boy story?” Constance said.

“No, you’ll come in later,” said Aunt Abby. “And besides, sometimes girls have to be even braver than boys.”

“We do?” said Ellie.

“Why?” said Imogene.

“Because we’re usually afraid of more stuff,” Aunt Abby said with a smile. “The more stuff you’re afraid of the braver you have to be.”

“No Bruce,” Grammie said. “It means doing what you have to do even though you’re scared.”

Three sets of blue eyes looked up at her.

“So, even though you’re scared, the brave thing to do is go out and call the girls in for dinner.”

The three boys dropped their snarls and dinosaur growls. They glanced at the front door leading out into the foggy fall weather. Bruce swallowed. Jude took his hand. Joshua sighed.

“Go on boys,” Grammie said. “Go like dinosaurs. Maybe then you won’t be as scared.”

The boys tried to growl as they made their way to the front door. The wind almost whipped it out of their hands as they opened it to go outside. Hobbes greeted them with a wagging tail. The boys petted his head, scratched his ears, and Joshua gave him a big hug. They slipped on their boots and started out into the yard. The wind snatched at their hair and twisted their sweaters. The fog hid the other pasture on the other side of the road. It hid the neighbor’s house. It hid the pond.

Hobbes whined.

“Come on boy,” Joshua said patting his leg to encourage the lab to follow them.

Hobbes wigged his tail but didn’t come down.

“Maybe he’s scared,” Jude said.

“Hobbes,” Bruce said, “it’s okay to be scared. Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared.”

The golden dog cocked his head at the blond-haired boy. He barked in agreement and came down to them. They headed out towards the pond feeling less scared with Hobbes. As they trekked through the pasture, Clyde joined them with a swish of his tail. The pond seemed so far away. It was so far away they couldn’t see it through the fog. But Hobbes and Clyde made sure they didn’t get lost.

Out of the swirling, wet, whiteness they heard a scream.

The boys stopped in their tracks.

Hobbes hair stood on end.

Clyde stamped on small hoof.

“Ellie!” Jules screamed through the fog. “Don’t go in the pond.”

Another splash.

“Imogene!” Constance yelled.

Hobbes barked and trotted off into the white mist. Clyde followed him.

“Hurry!” hissed Bruce.

The three boys ran after the dog and the donkey afraid of being left in the fog and trying to be brave.

Jules stood on the edge of the pond staring down into it. Constance, her hands muddy and full of sticks and rocks was a little deeper down. The boys hurried up beside Jules. Deep down in the pond, Ellie and Imogene waded. The water sloshed over their boots kicked up by the chilly wind.

“It’s cold!” Imogene shrieked. Her red hair glowed in the foggy darkness of the fall evening.

“I’m gonna tell Grammie. You’re not supposed to get wet,” Jules said.

“You’re going to get too cold,” Constance said.

Ellie and Imogene started back towards the bank. They tried to pull their boots up out of the water.

“Help!” Imogene said. “I’m stuck.”

“Me too!” said Ellie

Everyone ran down to the edge of the water but couldn’t reach Ellie and Imogene.

“We need a big stick,” said Jules.

Constance held out the stick in her hand.

“No,” Joshua said. “That’s not big enough.”

Hobbes ran up with a log in his mouth.

“Good dog,” Joshua said patting him on the head.

The three boys and two girls held out the log to Imogene and Ellie. They caught hold of it and with a mighty tug were jerked free of the cold pond. After much splashing and a vain attempt to wash their hands, boots, and faces of mud, the seven cousins headed back to the house with Hobbes and Clyde.

Grammie jumped as the seven muddy and cold children stamped in the door.

“I should take you back outside and hose all y’all off,” Grandpa said.

“It’s too cold, Grandpa,” Jules said.

Grammie carried them all to the bathroom where she cleaned them up while Grandpa wiped up the mud. Dinner was a little later than usual.

“We did it, Grammie,” Bruce said as they ate.

“What?” Grammie said.

“We were very brave even though we were scared,” he said.

“We went all the way out to the pond,” Jude said.

“Hobbes helped us rescue Ellie and Imogene,” Joshua said.

“You’re all very brave little children,” Grammie said. “I love you very much.”

“Boo!” said Grandpa.

The seven cousins jumped.

“Got you!” said Grandpa.


“The end,” said Aunt Abby. “Now do you understand that being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared? It means you do what you have to do anyway?”

“I was very brave,” Bruce said.

“Me too!” shouted Joshua.

“I jumped in the pond!” Ellie said with delight.

“Me too!” said Imogene.

The End

Jules and her Daddy, Jason!

Jules and her Daddy, Jason!

Imogene testing out her first lemon.

Imogene testing out her first lemon.

Bruce showing off some muscles!

Bruce showing off some muscles!

Jude, our littlest man!

Jude, our littlest man!

One of my favorite faces!

One of my favorite faces!

Constance and Joshua!

Constance and Joshua!

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Obey

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Once upon a time,” Aunt Abby started.

“Is this a fairy tale, or a western,” Jules asked. She squealed as a giant, Texas sized, grasshopper landed on the quilt.

“It’s a western,” Aunt Abby said watching Bruce and Joshua stalk the grasshopper. “Chase that away from the quilt, please.”

“Are there fairy tale westerns?” Constance asked chewing on the end of her braid while she looked up at the wide-open sky filled with puffy white clouds.

“Of course there are,” Aunt Abby said. “But their stories are darker and you’ll have to wait until you’re older to hear those.”

“Darker?” Ellie said. “Is it night there?”

“Well, sometimes,” Aunt Abby said. “But there’s also lots of bad men, war, suffering, and death.”

“Is there blood?” Joshua asked with a gasp.

Imogene wrinkled her nose.

“Yes, sometimes. That’s why we have to wait till you’re older.

“I’m old,” said Bruce.

“Me too,” said Jules.

“Not old enough, and don’t rush growing up. Now, everyone settle in for a story.”

The seven cousins splayed this way and that on the quilt, closed their eyes, and listened.

Once upon a time, seven cousins, three cowboys and four cowgirls, spent several happy days at Grammie and Grandpa’s little ranch with Clyde the Donkey and Hobbes the golden Labrador. They arrived every October from all over the country just as the pumpkins started turning orange and Texas cooled down. Grammie sent them to play outside and rid themselves of excess energy with the instruction to stay in the field or yard and not leave the property.

Bruce, Joshua, and Jude set about exploring the wide-open field for bugs and the old racecar track they built last fall. Julie searched for wild flowers to give to Grammie. Ellie took Imogene’s hand and ran with her through the tall, dry grass. They giggled as they chased an early autumn monarch. Constance followed the little path down to the pond searching under the willow for signs of fairies and little folk.

“I thought this was a western,” Constance hissed.

“Maybe it’s a fairy tale western,” Ellie said.

“Ohhh,” Bruce said. “It might get scary.”

“It’s not scary, is it Aunt Abby?” Jules said.

“No it’s not,” Aunt Abby said.

“I’m scared,” Joshua said with a grin.

“Me too, ” chimed in Jude.

“I’m not,” said Imogene.

Aunt Abby hushed everyone and continued the story.

Hobbes watched the children from the wide back porch with his ears perked for trouble. Clyde moseyed further out with a swish of his tail. He cocked his ears back to listen to the gales of screaming laughter coming from the happy cousins.

Suddenly out of the grass popped a boy with dark eyes, dark hair, and a dark smile.

“Is he bad?” Jules whispered.

“Wait and see,” Aunt Abby said.

“I bet he’s bad,” Constance said.

Ellie held Imogene’s hand harder. The red-headed child crowded in close to her. Constance looked up from the willow. She hadn’t found any fairies but she had found a perfect rock. Jude growled making Bruce and Joshua look up from the horned lizard they hunted in the tall grass. Hobbes trotted off the porch. He didn’t recognize the boy and decided he better check him out. Clyde tossed his head and decided the same thing. They were on the case.

“Who are you?” Jules asked.

“I’m Jethro Cagen,” the boy said with a small bow.

Jules giggled. “I’m Jules,” she said with a bow back.

The others gathered in around her.

“Are all y’all brothers and sisters?” Jethro said mocking them.

“No,” Bruce said. “We’re cousins.”

“But some of us are brothers and sisters,” Constance said fingering the perfect rock in her pocket.

Hobbes arrived and gave the boy a good sniff.

“Get your dog away from me,” Jethro said. “I don’t like dogs.”

“You don’t like dogs?” Joshua could believe his ears. Who didn’t like dogs?

“That’s rude,” Ellie said. “Hobbes is a good dog.”

Hobbes wagged his tail and licked Ellie and Joshua right across the cheek. Imogene laughed at them and Hobbes licked her too until she squealed.

“That’s gross,” the boy said.

The seven cousins looked at him unsure of why he was so mean.

“Well,” Jules said. “We’re going to go see our Grammie and Grandpa.”

The cousins and Hobbes turned away from the rude little boy.

“Hey, do you want to come play in my yard?” he said.

“Which is your yard?” Jules asked

“We can’t,” whispered Imogene.

“Grammie said stay on her property,” Bruce said.

“That’s my yard,” the boy said.


Across the street, a green yard perfect for picnics rolled up to a two-story house. No itchy grass grew up taller than Jude. No giant bugs jumped on little girls’ shoulders. A bright yellow slide rose up into a pecan where a tree house waited for adventure. Blue swings rocked gently in the cool Texas breeze.

“I have every Hot Wheel ever made up in my tree house and cap guns,” he said. “Are you sure you don’t want to come play?”

Bruce, Joshua, and Jude started forward.

“Grammie said to stay here,” Jules said.

“Yeah,” Ellie said.

“I also have a box of dress up clothes. You can play pirates.”

The girls hurried after the boys.

Hobbes barked. All seven cousins stopped. Hobbes barked again.

“Cars and pirates,” the boy said with a smile.

The cousins looked back at the golden dog sitting beside the gray donkey in the itchy field filled with bugs. They looked at the pretty green lawn, bright slide, and tree house. Field or tree house? Field or tree house?

“We have to go home,” Constance said.

“He has cars,” Bruce said.

“Grammie said to stay on her property,” Ellie said moving up beside Constance.

“Yep,” Jude said. He took Imogene’s hand and they moved closer to Ellie and Constance.

Bruce, Jules and Joshua stood between the boy with the tree house filled with cars and their cousins. They gazed at the house, longing to feel the soft green grass, to slide down the slide, and play pirates in the tree house.

Clyde hee-hawed. Hobbes barked.

Bruce glanced at Jules. She sighed.

“We can’t, can we?” Joshua said.

“No, we need to obey Grammie,” Bruce said.

“Yep,” Joshua said.

“Come on, Jules,” Bruce said.

Jules nodded. “We need to obey.”

The cousins linked hands.

“Thanks for inviting us. Maybe we can play later,” Jules said.

Ellie dropped Constance and Imogene’s hands, rushed to the boy, and gave him a big hug.

“Thank you,” she said.

“Thank you,” all the cousins yelled. They tramped through the tall grass back to Hobbes and Clyde leaving Jethro behind.

The dog danced around them barking, licking, and wagging his tail. Clyde followed them back to the house nudging the slower ones in the shoulder with his nose to hurry them along.

“Kids,” Grammie called from the front porch. “Cookies!”


She held out a plate piled high with cookies. The seven cousins shared a glance and then raced to the front porch. Grammie made sure that the cousins with shorter legs still had cookies to eat when they reached her.

“Boy am I glad we didn’t disobey,” Bruce said.

“Yeah, we wouldn’t have gotten cookies,” Ellie said.

Hobbes barked in agreement.


“The end,” Aunt Abby said.

“Aunt Abby was he rude?” Bruce asked sitting up.

“Yes. He wasn’t very nice. You should never encourage someone to disobey what Grammie says.”

“Do we always have to obey Grammie?” Jules asked.

“Yes. Even if there’s a tree house, you should obey Grammie. And you should obey her even if they’re aren’t cookies when you do.”

“What about Grandpa?” Joshua said.

Aunt Abby laughed. “Grandpa even more.”

“Why?” said Imogene.

“Cause he’s scary!” Aunt Abby said making her voice quiver.


All the cousins giggled.

“Scary Grandpa,” they yelled.


Everyone screamed!

Grandpa laughed and laughed as he came out from behind the house.

“Grandpa’s scary!” Imogene said with a grin.

The End


This is Jules and her Jaguar. Behind her is the picture of a dragon that I drew for her sparking this story.

This is Jules and her Jaguar. Behind her is the picture of a dragon that I drew for her sparking this story.

Constance and Joshua!

Constance and Joshua!

One of my favorite faces!

One of my favorite faces!

Jude, our littlest man!

Jude, our littlest man!

Bruce showing off some muscles!

Bruce showing off some muscles!

Imogene testing out her first lemon.

Imogene testing out her first lemon.