The Flying Circus Takes the Show on the Road!

Four of our lil' road trippers!

Four of our lil’ road trippers!

Who in their right mind would pack three boys, their spouse, plus one rotating cousin in a Honda mini van and travel approximately 5,000 miles through the burning deserts to humid swamps and back to Cali?  Perhaps the words “in their right mind” explains  we are not because we did!

Loud noises, foul smells, unhealthy food, and a thrill a minute entertainment are all essential elements in every circus and they were all present and accounted for on our recent road trip from California to Mississippi and Louisiana.

Less than one hour after the trip was initiated, our Breakfast Zombie, ate three Cheerios and got car sick.  (Note, foul smell number one.) Four boys 13 and under in an already pungent mini van – foul smells two thru six! Now that you understand the “ripeness” of the situation here’s an earful.

Just when I thought the decibel level had reached its max, my eight year old niece switched cars with my 13-year-old nephew (we were caravaning with my sister, brother and mother.)  There is nothing like a budding fashionista/singer-songwriter/creative story-teller talking her way through Texas!  Apparently the words “Aunt Tracey would like to take a nap” sound exactly like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “whaa, whaa, wha, wha, wha, whaaa.”

Don’t get me started with the food on this epic journey.  We ate at one restaurant in Mississippi that had two vegetables on the menu, fried pickles and collard greens.  Our meal consisted of both of the vegetable selections, fried catfish, fried hush puppies and french fries.  San Antonio, is home of the now infamous Chocho’s Mexican Restaurant.  Let’s just say the results of that meal were with us for days!  (Foul smells seven thru infinity)  The long reach of Chocho is something we will joke about forever!

King Kong Nachos from Chacho's...

King Kong Nachos from Chacho’s…

By day two of our return trip one of us worn out parents said, “let’s just give them their devices.”  “See ya Newberry Prize Winning audio books, and classic road trip spelling games, hello earphones, ipods, Kindle Fires, iphones, ipads and Samsung Tablets!”  Ahhh, sanity and silence restored!

We absolutely love road tripping!  We love the laughter, the closeness, and the ability to enjoy the diversity and beauty of our amazing country while on the road.  I have so many friends who cringe at the mention of a road trip and would never think to endeavor one with kids in tow.  I can truly say that some of our most fond family moments were forged on these cross-country journeys.  I highly recommend you try it at least once.  When your circus hits the road remember, relax, go with the flow, and repeat your mantra, “this is how we roll!”

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~The Ringmaster

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Zombie at our Breakfast Table!


I’ve never done this before, but I’ve been asked by several friends to re-run my very first blog post and I’ve decided to share it with my new friends over at Pending Perfection. Here’s my daily experience with the undead………………….

If there is one thing I can’t understand it is the resurgence of zombie popularity.  Don’t get me wrong I love a throw back to the old school, but this zombie thing is one that really creeps me out.  When I say I’m creeped out it’s not for the reasons one might think.

As a kid growing up I was never afraid of zombies.  In fact, I thought they were hilarious.  The thought of a creature that dragged one gimpy leg, didn’t have the sense to put his arm down, moved at a snail’s pace and could not articulate a threat never intimidated me.  I was always a stellar…

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My Son Taught Me How To Treat My Man!

Boy kissing girl

photo credit:
Liebe Bluhm

Welcome to the 3 Bros Flying Circus!  It’s a good thing that our big top is super big because we have room for all 700,000 members of the Happy Wives Club.  Ok, I know that not all 700,000 of you will have clicked over to this page from my 3 Tips for Playing on His Turf for Super Bowl Sunday but, a girl’s gotta dream!

If you are a regular visitor to this circus, hop on over to and bask in the glow of women who adore their husbands.  While you’re there check out my post in the date night section!

Today in the Center Ring, we have middle son Caleb.  Caleb and his brothers had an epiphany this year. Girls are cute and they smell good!   At the beginning of the school year Caleb was head over heels with the “new girl” in his 5th grade class.  Just four short months later, “new girl” has fallen out of favor and the “newer girl” has won his heart.

What made his heart flee from one and cling to the other?

Caleb very succinctly rattled off a list:  “newer girl” is funny, smart, cute, laughs at my jokes, thinks about people other than herself and actually pays attention to me.  Unlike, the other – who never pays attention to me.”

Isn’t that what most men want?  Someone who is smart, cute, laughs at their jokes, thinks about people other than herself and most importantly pays attention to her man!

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~ The Ringmaster

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Your Capacity to Love is Greater than You Think…Mr. Fluffy’s Great Escape!

Mr. Fluffy

Mr. Fluffy

Just when we think our hearts are filled to capacity with our loved ones, something happens to show us these hearts were created with some type of Divine elasticity to love ad infinitum. How could a creature that sleeps all day and runs all night, shut down the 3 Bros Flying Circus?

Hysterical tears, catatonia, and against all odds frantic closet cleaning – just one day after meeting this little pin eyed, overweight ball of fluff.  Love, regardless of the object or how long experienced, is a powerful thing.  One of my Pastors once told us not to disparage puppy love because puppy love is true love to the puppy.

This year my eight year old son wanted one main gift for Christmas, a hamster.  If I had known that he was going to ask for a pet before hand, I would not have tricked him into giving us his Santa list.  (If you don’t know this story of intrigue and deceit you must read one of my previous posts: Code Word “Selfie”: The Ringmaster, Santa and the Great Deception.)

The day after receiving the new member of our family, Micah asked our entire Church congregation to pray that Mr. Fluffy would not get lost or hurt.  That same night, after playing with Mr. Fluffy, Micah returned him to his cage and joined us in the family room for a rowdy game of Slamwich.  (A super fun card game that involves quick reflexes and a lot of luck).

Family game night over, we retreated to our bedrooms where we heard these dreaded words.  “WHERE IS MR. FLUFFY?!?!?” Handsome hubby and I ran into our son’s room and peppered him with questions.  Isn’t he in his cage?  Did you close the cage door?  What do you mean you didn’t lock it?  Micah crying inconsolably shouted “I DIDN’T KNOW HE WAS SO SMART!”

All five of us, now struck by cupids arrow for the super smart, super cute Mr. Fluffy – were now all on the verge of tears frantically searching everywhere.  We cleaned closets, shoveled nerf weapons and dirty pajamas from under the boys beds all to no avail.  Just as we were about to call off the search for the night we heard, “Here he is!”  Mr. Fluffy had walked right up to middle son Caleb and was ready for his adventure to end.

That night we realized that our hearts had been expanded and Mr. Fluffy was already a much loved member of our flying circus!  That night I also realized that just as Micah cares for Mr. Fluffy, our Heavenly Father also cares for his little creatures and more importantly, the Heavenly Father cares for Micah.  Our capacity to love greatly reflects the deep love of the Father who even answers the prayers of an eight year old about his beloved Mr. Fluffy.

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~ The Ringmaster

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:29-31

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Who Am I? If I don’t know by now it’s time to make something up!

I’ve just accepted a “Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog” challenge.  Those of you who know me well know that I don’t back down from challenges, particularly if they don’t involve eating something gross, wearing something gross, or looking at something gross.  So just as you thought I would, I’ve accepted the challenge and hope to complete all of the tasks associated with it.

Day one involves telling you about me.  Since this blog has been visited by folks from all around the world as opposed to just the grandparents, aunts and uncles of my kids (as I originally planned) – I’ve decided instead to introduce you to The Ringmaster of The 3 Bros Flying Circus.  She’s my avatar, a rock star in her own mind.  She is super comfortable with being a mediocre mom to three funny, active prepubescent boys, and an adoring wife to one hot handsome hubby.

I blog because I like the spin the Ringmaster puts on all our flaws and shortcomings.  She sees everything through the lens of grace and sees me for who I am, an ever-evolving being created in the image of a Perfect God who happens to have a fabulous sense of humor.  She reminds me to lighten up and enjoy the moments as the gifts which we call “now”.

Since beginning my blog in late August, I’ve written mostly about my three sons, handsome hubby and the circus we call home.  As we fly high into the new year, I’d like to hear from you.  Are there other topics that you might enjoy exploring with the Ringmaster? (no crafts or recipes please, not that I don’t enjoy cooking but let’s leave those to the well-organized supermom bloggers among us)  When was the last time someone asked you to run away to join the circus? If you blog, what will you write about this year? If you haven’t done so already, I hope that you will take a moment to reserve a Ringside Seat by clicking “follow subscribe by email”.  Until next time, fly high and dazzle ’em!

~  The Ringmaster

6 Small Things Bring More Joy to the World! My New Year’s Resolutions

Text: Resolutions

Low Bar with High Impact

This year I have made resolutions that I can actually keep.  I believe I came up with six small things that will make a huge difference in my life as well as the lives of those around me.

1) Laugh with my family daily:  I love hearing my family laugh.  I hate to admit there are days when laughter does not happen in my home and that, my friends, should not be the case.  Between handsome hubby’s corny jests, my ghetto talk and the 3 bros flying antics, we should be ROTFLOL at least once a day.  A merry heart is medicine for the soul and Lord knows we could all use some healing!  (Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.)

2)  Bow My Knee, Say Aman and Let it Ride! One of our friends without homes sang at our church for the first time on Sunday.  The concept of his original “hymn” has made it into my resolutions for 2014.  This year I resolve to be more loving, more patient, less reactive and argumentative.  After all, 99% of the things I argue about aren’t even worth discussing one week later.  When I feel one coming on I plan to say a little prayer and let it ride! (Romans 12:18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.)

3) Find 1 thing to celebrate everyday:  My three boys and I play a fun game during our drive to school.  We share one super small thing to celebrate.  I start us off with something like this, “I’m celebrating the fact that I remembered to bring my lunch this morning. We all burst into a chorus of “celebrate good times come on!” The course is followed by each boy finding something to celebrate. We exercise gratitude and celebration that leads to an appreciation of small things throughout our day. (1 Timothy 6:6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.)

4) Learn to pronounce the words hill and pin.  Apparently I say heal and pen.  I can’t hear the difference:  Enter ghetto Tracey.  Handsome hubby get’s a big kick out of this particularly since he minored in English at Stanford!  I plan to surprise him ala Eliza Doolittle after a few top secret elocution sessions with my mother-in-law.

5)  Greet everyone I meet with a smile:  I am amazed by the effect that a smile has on strangers.  I treated myself to a trip to the farmers market while on vacation.  I was in a super good mood because my kids were happily scootering around the resort property, handsome hubby and my mom were watching football and I was shopping.  I couldn’t help blasting everyone one I met with a gorgeous smile.  The most amazing thing happened.  They beamed right back and my heart was warmed!

6)  Put my make-up on in the house and not in the car:  There are four traffic lights between my home and my office.  If I miss them all, which I often do, my make-up is flawless.  If I fly thru even one of them, I have to complete my face in the parking lot which just isn’t quite the same for some reason.   After one year of trying to keep my clothes unstained by my makeup, I’ve realized I need to get up earlier, plan better and put my make-up on at home…Duh!!! (Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.)

Even if you have set the bar as low as I did, I recommend you read my brother-in-law, Byron Davis’ post about achieving any goal you want on his life your epic life site.

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~The Ringmaster

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Code Word “Selfie”: The Ringmaster, Santa and the Great Deception

I want to let you in on a secret, but you’ll have to promise not to share this blog post with my 8 year-old-son.  I’m feeling rather guilty this morning because I did one of the most manipulative things I have done in my 50 years of life and I did it to my little Micah.

I am ashamed to say that I stooped as low as a 6′ 1/2″ Amazonian Princess can stoop and I did it during the season of “peace and goodwill toward men”!  But then again, the little bugger wanted to put us and Santa thru a “trust test”, and this Ringmaster does not play that.

You either trust us or you don’t!

We were having a tough time gaining access to Micah’s Christmas list this year.  He actually refused to share it with us.  Inspired by one of his favorite television shows, Mythbusters, I believe he planned to stamp “busted” across Santa’s face and ours.

Had he asked us if Santa is real, as his brothers did in previous years when they were about his age, we would have simply told him the truth and moved on.  But, Micah is very smart and very stubborn and this sort of “experiment” is right up his ally.  Even if he had to wake up and find random gifts left by “Santa” under the tree.

I too have a favorite show and was inspired by the small box that far too often invades our lives.  I’ve been watching a lot of old episodes of Alias on Netflix, and I have learned that there are many ways to make a person talk!

I hatched a diabolical plan of my own and enlisted the help of a new friend.  I called in the big guns!   That’s right, big pappa – Santa himself!  Well not the real Santa, but it just so happens that our copier technician looks a lot like Santa.

(Yup, I’m not just a mom with a Mac, The Ringmaster and a Pastor’s Wife, I work 30+ hours outside of my home doing some super top secret stuff that you don’t want to know about because you would “disappear” if  you did.) 🙂

I snapped a “selfie” with Anthony (pronounced Antny) and initiated Operation North Pole.  After dinner, I had everyone come and take a seat in our family room.  I announced that I had a top secret meeting with a very important person at my office today.

I said, “oh wait, I took a picture of the VIP, would you like to see it.”  I pulled out my phone and showed them the “selfie” of me and “Santa”.  I continued, “Santa is very concerned because he has not yet received a Christmas letter from Micah and it is getting really close to his deadline.”

Operation North Pole

Operation North Pole

Micah’s eyes, now as large as Frisbees met mine as he asked for a piece of paper and a pen. It worked!  Just like all of those episodes of Alias.  He coughed up the information.

Mission accomplished!

The only thing that would have made this a bit more satisfying is if I had printed out the picture of Santa and me, placed it in a manila folder, slid it across the table, asked Micah to open it and watched him sweat.  But I think I’ll save that tactic for teenaged Micah.

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~The Ringmaster

If you have not yet subscribed to the 3 Bros Flying Circus we’d love to reserve a special seat for you!  Just click the upper right hand corner of the post. 

We Must Apologize in Advance To Our New Neighbors

We're Not This Bad!

We’re Not This Bad!

We have lived in our home for six years and we have had six sets of next door neighbors (yes, that’s six sets of people who moved in and out of the home to the right of us within six years). While we were between neighbors number five and six, handsome hubby and I chatted about how lame unfriendly our last neighbors were.  In the middle of our snarkfest, we had an epiphany.  The common denominator of this complicated moving equation is, well – us.  They always move in because we live in a great neighborhood, they probably move out because we are the 3 Bros Flying Circus.

Have you ever been to a circus?  Do you remember the smells, the freak shows and daredevil stunts?  Alright –  freeze the sights, sounds and smells and you’ve got a “smell-o-vision” version of our home. My three boys and the rest of their wolf pack transformed a boycave (for which we paid darn good money) into a stinky, nerf artillery strewn animal cave.  And yes, they opt to leave the garage door up so that everyone who chooses not to look away, has a ringside view of the mess!

While driving up to my house a couple of days ago I was accosted by two boys running towards my minivan in the middle of our street along with three boys and one awesome girl standing on the sidewalk in front of my drive way.  Apparently they had been staking out the joint for quite a while waiting for my three sons to arrive.  Right after I shared the tragic news that my boys were not with me and would not be coming home for another hour, two boys, previously unseen by me performed a tandem death drop out of the tree in my front yard.

There is usually a trail of scooters, helmets, homemade tomahawks, swords, daggers, basketballs, lacrosse poles, footballs, bikes, skate boards and one pogo stick that begins at our front door and meanders down both sides of the street. They remain there until we call the boys in for the day.  Our backyard trampoline with the basketball hoop positioned perfectly for slam dunking inspires high flying preteen machismo antics (which of course, is witnessed by whomever lives next door as the top half of the youngsters bodies appear over the fence that divides our property.)  Each dunk is followed by the emphatic  “DUDE THAT’S SICK!” and “Ohhhhh, WHAT  NOW!

Thinking of the mayhem that would inevitably ensue, handsome hubby decided to be proactive and go over to introduce himself to our newest neighbors.  He humbly led with, “I just want to apologize in advance for the noise and the nerf bullets, tomahawks and frisbees you are going to find in your front yard and for the overall level of noise that emanates from our household.”  Imagine his surprise when when our new neighbor replied, “oh no, THIS IS AWESOME!  We have three boys and this is exactly what we’ve been looking for!

One person’s nightmare on Elm Street is another person’s Dream Street! (get it Dream Street is the American boy band formed in 1999).  Ok, I am very corny but what do you expect from a nightmare neighbor.

I would love to hear some of your nightmare neighbor stories in the comments below (especially if you are “that neighbor”…

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~The Ringmaster

If you have not yet subscribed to the 3 Bros Flying Circus we’d love to reserve a special seat for you!  Just click the upper right hand corner of the post. 

Christmas Confession – All Hearts Clear

This week I have the honor of being the guest blogger on the wonderful website Grace For Moms.  The site is decked out for Advent and Christmas with beautiful visuals, my guest post (Christmas Confession) and a wonderful interview with actress, mom and wife Candace Cameron Bure.

As we celebrate Advent and prepare for the coming of the Christ of Christmas, I pray that your family will enjoy many special moments filled with peace and joy!  Grab a cup of spiced cider and savor this moment as you read (Christmas Confession).

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite Advent memories.

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~The Ringmaster

If you have not yet subscribed to the 3 Bros Flying Circus we’d love to reserve a special seat for you!  Just click the upper right hand corner of the post. 

Four Candles, Black Men, and Basketball in Heaven

“words are like nets – we hope they’ll cover what we mean, but we know they can’t possibly hold that much joy, grief, or wonder.”  – Jodi Picoult

There are words and phrases that seem to grab hold of our consciousness, entertain us, disturb us, tickle our fancy or just plain confound us.  Sometimes, the mere mention of a few otherwise neutral words can summon memories that have lived dormant in our psyche for decades.  This past week I was profoundly affected by certain words and phrases.  I realize that context combines with definition to trigger some very surprising physiological responses.   For instance the words…

“Black Men” ~  (written by Adelle, my husband’s effervescent 9-year-old cousin, as a phrase to be used during our family game of charades). 

I can’t tell you how much mental juggling took place in my mind after reading the submission Adelle proudly handed me, (the only African-American in the room).  Her aunt and I looked at the words “Black Men” and glanced at one another and carefully asked, “what is this?  Is it a book, a movie, a song?”  The budding charades pro enthusiastically replied, “it’s a movie my dad and I watched.”  “Oh…Hmmm..ok” we replied.     While I envisioned the minefield that the opposing team would have to navigate to act this one out, one of the women on our team whispered, “‘Men In Black’, is it the movie ‘Men In Black?!'”  The little one nodded, with a twinkle in her eyes, “yes that’s it!”  I laughed until I cried and then laughed some more….

“When I get to heaven, I’m going to play basketball all day!” ~ (mused my 10-year-old son)

I heard these words and immediately began to tear up without understanding why.  I knew the thought of my little guy loving something so much that he would want to do it all day in heaven was probably not enough to make this “tough momma” cry.  As Caleb continued to talk about his love for basketball, a picture began to form.  The words basketball and heaven brought back memories of my father who had passed away when Caleb was three.  My father played professional basketball and was a basketball coach after his playing career ended.  My mind jumped to Caleb, playing basketball in heaven with my dad – an image that warmed my soul.

“Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving, tonight we celebrate Chanukah” (spoken by Uncle Ilan Levi – surrounded by ten surprisingly attentive children)

This past week was a very rare convergence of two special holidays and one big event.  Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlapped and I had the pleasure of being in the company of my husband’s family for the extended weekend. Our assemblage of twenty-two swarmed the Thanksgiving buffet, played charades and wobbled to our perspective villas where we succumbed to food comas.  The next night, the third night of Chanukah, was kicked off by a kid initiated dance party.  (That’s what happens when you add Protestants and Agnostics to the mix).  It took a while to get the kids settled down for the lighting of the menorah, but we managed. The blessing was recited and the third candle was lit.  Uncle Ilan told the children about the miracle of the oil and the perpetual light.  My children had never celebrated Chanukah and we were all honored to be included in the celebration.  The image of Uncle Ilan and Aunt Barbie surrounded by ten young children listening to him share the story of Chanukah by the glow of candle light is one that will not be forgotten.

“Today we light the HOPE Candle” ~ (spoken by my Handsome Hubby who is Pastor of our church)

I have celebrated Advent for most of my life.  I have to admit until just recently, Advent was sort of the “previews” before the “big blockbuster”, Christmas.  This past Sunday, when my husband declared, “today we will light the Hope Candle”, something within me stirred.  When we light the Hope Candle we acknowledge that we can hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. Our hope comes from God.  Our hope is in God.  As little Selah, Caleb and Jo-Jo Jensen stood with their mom and dad to light the candle it dawned on me that families can actually light a “candle of hope” any time and any place.

May you wield your words wisely.  Remember they can be an elixir that has the power to inspire, strengthen, and comfort.  They are the raw ingredients used to create masterful memories.  May your words be harbingers of hope.

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~The Ringmaster

If you have not yet subscribed to the 3 Bros Flying Circus we’d love to reserve a special seat for you!  Just click the upper right hand corner of the post. 

Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.   ~ Proverbs 18:21   The Message Version