I saw a lone fox dancing

It is late afternoon on a cold, cloudy day. The ice storm is moving in, and the entire region here in southwest Illinois and southeast Missouri has essentially shut down in response. As the kids play (after a full day off from school – lucky Myles, my 7 year old son!), I finish up prepping my courses for the semester beginning next week.

But I continue to look out the bedroom window to the woods that stretch from our property and beyond — back into the ravine winding beyond sight.

Just last week, my husband and I spotted a pair of fox quietly roaming the woods — completely oblivious to the gawking humans. In hushed tones, John, the girls, and I watched as these wispy, majestic creatures carried on, sniffing for berries, scurrying across a fallen tree that bridged the creek below. Leaving nothing but quiet tracks in the recently fallen snow.

And as if that wasn’t enough, not 2 hours later, a pair of coyotes soon followed in the foxes’ tracks, probably still warm with their crimson scent.



I can’t tell you how much this still excites me. I took pictures so that I could show my son Myles (who WAS at school that day!), and while they certainly won’t make it into an issue of National Geographic, the images capture just how close the fox and coyote were to the house. (The two lower right pictures show the coyote. The large and two upper right pictures show the fox.)

And because I was so inspired by the visit, I used my cross stitch pattern maker (Pattern Maker) to create these three cute and easy cross stitch patterns. I’m still learning how to create patterns — as in how to draw/compose compelling visuals — but I have to say I’m pretty happy with how they turned out (see below (-: ).



Funny how things work out in the end. I am slowly discovering how capable I am — at parenting, teaching, designing, writing, life.

Some days, I doubt myself, but then something unexpected happens to gently remind me: It’s ok. Everything is going to be alright.

As I walked home last night,

I saw a lone fox dancing

In the bright moonlight.


I stood and watched,

Then took the road, knowing,

The night was his by right.


Sometimes, when words ring true,

I’m like a lone fox dancing,

In the morning dew.

  • A Highlights Kids Poem


[And for those of you who don’t know, Highlights is a children’s publication with various off-shoots. YES! I really did just quote a poem from Highlights! 🙂 I read these to my children and thought this one was particularly tender. 🙂  ]



a hidden language of the soul

Yesterday evening, for the first time, my 4 & 1/2 year old daughter Cora and I attended the ballet. She has taken just one ballet class at the local YMCA, but Cora seems hardwired to favor all things dance, fashion, and singing.


Gerald Pereia, “Ballerina,” 3/19, 2011, Flickr.


[Aside from the  warbling singing I regularly do around the house, Cora and I have little in common when it comes to dance and fashion. My “dancing” experiences are strictly limited to the dance clubs/bars I visited during college, and one could hardly call it anything more than inebriated gyrations.]


At any rate, I don’t get out much anymore … to anywhere. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. No. I was somewhere in between panicked and lock-myself-in-my-bedroom-and-hide-in-the-corner kind of freaked out. These days I manage the depression and anxiety far better than back in August last year, but I am also not magically cured just because I am in therapy and taking medication. Leaving the safety of our home and then sitting in a large theatre was daunting, to say the least.

But this evening wasn’t about me. No – this night was all about Cora. And I wasn’t going to let the depression or panic attacks hold either of us back.

I wanted to take my sweet girl to a live performance – just the two of us – and experience something magical with her.  Perhaps watching real ballerinas perform on a real stage would plant a seed. I suspect the seed is already there … maybe this was like watering the little thing… coaxing it to grow.


Malt Jurlado, “Ballerina,” 11/8/2010, Flickr.

Last night, for the first time, I think I truly saw my daughter and I witnessed her blossoming as a creative and eternal soul. We spent the time before, during intermission, and after the performance connecting – talking about the theatre itself, the dancers, the lights under the steps. Drawing ballerinas. Hugging as she sat on my lap during the performance. Her eyes twinkled and sparkled. And she was at ease – comfortable in her skin and not contending with two other siblings to be seen and heard.

I don’t know what heaven is like, but if it feels the way last night did, then I would live for even just a second of that paradise.

Afterward, we picked up some ice cream – Neapolitan (Cora’s ecstatic choice!) – and, once home safe and sound, we scooped some in glass ramekins. We even embellished the little scoops with whipped cream and sprinkles. Mind you, it was already 10pm – well past Cora’s bed time – but curfews be damned. This was a special occasion.

When she looks back on the evening, what will Cora remember? She’s already retold the story line from each ballet featurette to John, Myles, and Grace. She continues to gush


Don, “Ballerina,” 11/19/2013, Flickr.

about the costumes.

I hope she remembers there can be magical moments.

I hope she remembers how loved she truly is … exactly as she is. Just for being Cora. Shine on my sweet little lady. Shine on.