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

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. 

Super Bowl For Super Dummies!

sports basix logo

There are two things that lots of women fake.  One is the “big O” and the other is understanding what’s actually happening on the field during the Super Bowl or any Bowl for that matter.  What I am about to confess may surprise many of you.  Since this is not a Valentine’s Day post, you may assume I’m not going to talk about the “big O” today.  Although it will probably spike my blog stats for February!

I can honestly say that I love all things football!  Well, maybe not all things.  I love everything about football except the actual game.

I love the tailgating when done well.  (Shout out to Dr. Dan and Jennifer Levi who know how to throw down a proper Stanford tailgate!)  I love to watch the cheerleaders, mascots (the Stanford Tree is my all time favorite with Hey Reb a close 2nd), bands, crazy fans, jerseys (not the pants – let’s face it nobody looks good in white spandex), cute jackets, warm hats and cozy scarves.  The food and bottomless diet coke are my icing on the cake!

I “came out” to my sister last week confessing my football illiteracy.  She could not believe it!  She and I have probably sat through hundreds of football games either live or on tv and she had no clue that my choice to win the game was based purely on the uniform design.

I know about twenty other people who read this blog who have known me and my sports crazed family for decades who are going to be floored.

When everyone else begins to get excited I look at the field and cheer or boo about whatever is going on at the moment.

I’ve sat in the stands for several Rose Bowls, dozens of USC, UCLA and Stanford games and feigned my disgust for the officials, enthusiasm about the players ability, and concurrence with the coach’s’ calls.

So, when my friend Stacie Deberry told me about her latest venture, I was delighted!  Stacie is CEO of Sports Basix.  A company which offers digital tutorials for the football illiterate like me!!!  In fact her company covers various sports, but football is the one I know  knew nothing about.

I must admit I was a little intimidated but one minute into the tutorial I was relaxed and learning.  Stacie’s soothing yet commanding voice reassured me that I was going to have no problem learning this game.  Twenty something minutes later, the video was over and I knew the basics of football.

Now when I say basics I mean basics.  She begins Video One by saying “this is a football.”  She goes on to teach about the basic player positions and their roles.  Stacie is positioned in the foreground, while videos, graphics and illustrations appear behind her in the background to visually reinforce what she is teaching.

Video two begins with a pop quiz as a refresher of Video One and then moves on to teach about the officials and penalties that they may call.  Did you know that “offsides” can only be called on the defense and a “false start” is the same call but for the offense?  Or that “pass interference” can be called on either offensive or defensive players?  I did not, but now I’m in the know! 

Stacie concludes Football Basix Video Two by encouraging her students.  She tells us now that we know the basics of football we may experience the following

  • “Bond with co-workers”
  • “Establish report with clients”
  • “Significant other will enjoy cuddling on the couch with you while watching the game”
  • “Your kids will be excited that you really understand what’s going on in the game”

Who knew that learning more about football could bring so much more joy to my life!  I’ve always admired the chicks who can talk like a dude when it comes to football and with Sports Basix, I’m well on my way!  In fact, 43% of the NFL’s audience is now female and 1/3 of the “core fans” whom the NFL classifies as “avid” are women.  I may just become one of their growing legion!

You still have time to beef up on your football knowledge right before the big game!  Check Stacie out over at Sports Basix.  Impress your hubby and friends. Heck impress and amaze yourself, you’ll finally understand what’s on the big screen!

You’ll be glad you did, your cooler cred is on the way up already!

Perhaps next week we will tackle that other thing many women fake, just in time for Valentines Day!

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 “please reserve a ringside seat for me” in the upper right hand corner of the post. 

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

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. 

Grandmas Gone Wild!

“This is EPIC!”  The frenzied proclamation came from one of the 13 children who had just been crushed in back-to-back arm wrestling contests with very a competitive and surprisingly strong seventy-year-old woman.  As Aunt Barbie rolled up her sleeves one of the children yelled “Kick His Butt Grandma!”   These great kids don’t just tolerate their elders, they honor them by enjoying their company, and by rightly declaring Grandma is ‘Legit’ in arm wrestling!

The weekend began with a family reunion which my husband’s annoyingly fit, very organized, and equally fabulous family planned surrounding the local half-marathon.   Family members from 8 to 71 clocked some very impressive times.  Why were they all running so fast you ask?

The night before the big race, the family held an incredibly rowdy Calcutta at the local Country Club (from which we are probably now banned).  The runners, including children, were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The 1st thru 3rd place owners split 90% of the pot.  The remaining 10% of the money wagered was donated to the church of which my husband is Pastor.  I’ll admit, everything about what I’ve just written is probably “all-kind-of-wrong” but, for our family – it works!

Following the post-race awards ceremony, taco truck feast and arm wrestling competition, we hopped into our car and drove down to LA to spend two days with my family.   When mom opened the door we were hit with the fragrance of BBQ chicken, yams, collard greens and green beans. Here lies the difference between my family and my husband’s family.  My family’s gatherings are loosely organized and are anchored by Epic Sunday meals.  We know how to pace ourselves, savor the food and the conversation, embrace the calories, sugar and butter and have a good time together – sedentary and gluttonous with gluten.  The only marathons we enjoy involve third helpings and the television (in which my brother is the master of the remote)!

Two of my mother’s best friends joined us for the feast.  The conversation we were privy to could only come from three African American women in their late 70s who spent their formative years in rural Mississippi and Louisiana.  Mom’s friend Mrs. P lived so far back into the Louisiana woods that it was technically Texas.

The ladies began their conversation espousing the virtues of Blue Bell Ice Cream and freshly gathered Pecans.  They all agreed upon the fact that Black Walnuts freshly fallen from the trees were the hardest nuts to crack but were well worth the effort.

After a few minutes of conversational pleasantries, the country-time smack talk reached its full hyperbolic force.  My mom and Barbara said that their grandmothers burned rags to create smoke to drive away the mosquitoes.  Barbara had fond memories of frolicking in the smoke by jumping thru it.  My mom remembered her grandmother taking a smoking rag and waving it around her head to keep the mosquitoes at bay.  Mrs. P snarled, “Burn rags?! Are you kidding me?”  “We didn’t burn no rags, we had to use our rags to make rag quilts to keep us warm at night.”

Mom, while reflecting upon her favorite country breakfast of smoked ham and grits mentioned the mule which was used to grind the meal.  Mrs. P shot back, “Hummph! What you talking about? Ham for meat?! We didn’t have ham! We were so hungry during the winter, we didn’t use the mule, we ate the mule!”

Mom mused, “what about chickens?  Did your family order chickens from a catalog?”  Barbara said smiling, “Yes, I think they ordered them from the Sears Catalog.”  Mom agreed, “mine too” then added “they had to order at least 100 because some of the chickens wouldn’t survive the bus ride.”  Mrs. P, “what bus ride?” Mom insisting, “You know, they used to put those chickens in boxes with holes in them and load them with the luggage on the Greyhound.”  Barbara nodding, “or the Trailways.”  Mrs. P, “our chickens didn’t get delivered we had to walk to pick them up!”  Mom continued, “after we got the chickens from the Greyhound Bus, we would keep them in the chicken coop so they would stay nice and warm during the winter.”  Barbara, “we did too, until they made a law that made it illegal for us to have chickens.”  Mrs. P: “Chicken coop keeping chickens warm?!  Shoot, we had to tear the chicken coop down and burn the coop to keep the family warm during the winter!  Ain’t no chickens made it through the winter at our house!”

As we left the house, Mrs. P and Barbara chimed with warm smiles, “you guys take care of those handsome boys.” Granny gave the boys big hugs while they loaded the loot she had purchased for them from her local toy store. Breaking the silence within the car as we entered the freeway on ramp, one of the boys remarked, “this was a super fun weekend!”

This comment sincerely spoken from the heart may not be what one would expect to hear from a ten year old boy who has just spent four days filled with multi-generational encounters.  After this weekend, I am convinced that God intended us to live our lives in this manner.  Surrounded by villagers of every age who add joy and value to our lives and whose lives are brighter because we have touched them.

I realize that not everyone has family members who can come together as our families do, but everyone can choose to spend time with those of another generation – family or not.  Who knows, you just might get your butt kicked by a grandma or learn about chickens who ride on Greyhound buses.

Your Granny may not be from the country club or the country, but I’d love to hear about her here.  Leave a comment and share about a story or two about the Grandma in your life!

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. 

“Honor Your Father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”                                                                                                          

~Exodus 20-12

“Why It’s Good to Beat Your Man Every Now and Then”

I know what you’re thinking.  “Why in the world would anyone blog about beating her man?  Has Tracey Goss lost her mind?  Is she taking this ‘Ring Master’ thing a little too far?”  If you are thinking that I am encouraging spousal abuse you are way off, the beat(ing) that handsome hubby just received adds spice to our marriage.  (Stay with me it’s not what you think.  Minds out of the gutter please!)  

When I was growing up, young ladies who wanted to win the hearts of young men were taught to always let the object of their crushes win.  One could keep the game competitive, but in the end she should slightly lift her bow before launching that last arrow, keep the triple letter-word score to herself in Scrabble, or in my case – slow the car down and allow handsome hubby to pass me and cross the finish line first.  If you’ve been following this blog, you should know The Ringmaster doesn’t roll like that!

Growing up in my neighborhood was pretty idyllic if you were a girly-girl who happened to be very athletic.  My neighborhood was filled with boys who did not mind playing with girls who could play.  They loved girls who looked-like-girls but played-like-boys and that was me!  Whipping up on boys was just a natural everyday occasion.

Fast forward to today.  Many of you know about the race challenge written about in “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble”.  Today was the day that my smack talking husband ate my dust! My carefully chosen, sensible route was proven much faster than his susceptible to too many variables – man-route!  After the race, he immediately demanded a rematch – to which I replied NO!!!!  (Don’t worry, no traffic violations occurred and my husband loves it when I show my sassy side!)

I anticipate a very long and very fun life with handsome hubby.  As we grow old together, I am certain we will hobble along in our walkers racing to see who will be first to enter the doors of the “early-bird” dinner.  I will be a serious competitor with feisty flair until the day I die.  That’s how the Lord made me and those are two of the traits that handsome hubby loves about me.  He is very much like those boys in my neighborhood!  He loves a girly-girl who can play, and when he plays with me every now and then it’s a handsome hubby beat down.

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. 

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.”                                                                                              ~Psalm 139:14

Let’s celebrate the quirks and embrace the fact that beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, it is in the intent of the Creator!

“Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!”

The banter between handsome hubby and I is at an all time high!  The infamous race (referenced below) is scheduled for this Saturday.  Our boys tried to parlay with Goss Bucks but we all know that would not be appropriate.  Perhaps growing up in a family where their parents have planned a “street race” makes them think that it might be acceptable for prepubescent boys to wager their wages.  I will post the results of the race next week!

Until then, stop on over to Happy Wives Club and check out my guest blog post about the “4 Ways to Find the Sweet Spot in Your Marriage.”

(The Infamous Race Post)

There it was, hanging out there in all it’s brazen glory.  The gauntlet had been thrown.  Before I knew it, I’d (figuratively)  taken off my glove, turned and faced my husband and slapped him right across the face as he drove his chosen route to our beach date with another family.

As often happens, right in the middle of an otherwise very pleasant conversation, I suddenly blurted out, “why are you driving this way to the freeway?  You know, the other way is much faster.” (Unfiltered and overly dramatic tends to be my preferred communication style)

Continuing our l-o-n-g-e-r than necessary drive to the beach with the line perfectly fitted with the appropriate bait, handsome hubby gobbled it hook, line and sinker.  He shot back, “what are you talking about?!?”  “I have timed both routes and I know that this way is definitely faster!”

The previously rockin’ van loaded with our three excited boisterous boys was suddenly silenced after I  shouted these words, “OH YEAH,  LET’S RACE!”   Two seconds later, after a collective gasp, the silence was pierced by escalating chants of RACE, RACE, RACE, RACE spurring us on from the bench in the way back (that’s what we mini vanners call our third row).

It was on! The entire van erupted in animated discussion about the ground rules for the race.  The swagmobile, a 2006 Honda Odyssey (178,000 miles and counting), which sports an impressive 360 degree scratch made by middle son Caleb wielding a magnet, would be driven by yours truly.  The 2013 Honda Accord Sport – which in my eyes is no match for my Odyssey, would be driven by handsome hubby.  Everyone knows it’s not the year, make, nor model of the automobile, it’s the skill, intellect and fashion sense of the driver that wins the race!  Lastly, and most importantly, each driver would have at least one son in the car to insure he/she did not surpass the speed limit.

As is often the case,  I’ve had a few days to actually think about what we modeled in front of our children during our slow 3.5 mile drive to the beach.  These were my assessments, 1) Mom questions dad’s decision-making ability 2) Dad infers mom speaks off the cuff with no actual proof to back her claims.  3) Mom and Dad will go to great lengths to prove they are right.

Who wants to send those messages to their children?!  None of those would garner me a medal from Focus on the Family, so I decided I would back down.  I would pull out of the race and tell my children that I would not race their dad and that his way was the right way for him and my way was best for me.  Handsome hubby and I decided to meet for lunch (Costco Hotdogs) and I shared my plan.  I told him that I was going to pull out of the race and maturely tell the kids why.

My amazing and now even more handsome in my eyes hubby adamantly declared, “Oh, we’re going to race alright!  Are you kidding me?  You can’t back out – we’re racing!  It’s still on!

As I write this post, my eyes are beginning to water and I am thinking SEE, THAT’S WHY I LOVE THAT MAN and he, me.  We are so perfectly suited for one of another.  In the eyes of the “polite patrol”, or even some individual’s reading this post, we may be a disaster.  I mean, who would be that competitive or behave that way in front of their children.  But for us, these types of days are billows that fan the flame of our love for one another and our bonds as a family.

The race is scheduled for Saturday morning (pre-soccer game festivities).  What handsome  hubby doesn’t know is that I’ve been training this week while driving the kids to school.  If you run into him please keep it to yourself.  Everyone needs a little edge when they compete!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.”                                                                                                                                  ~ I Corinthians 9:24

(I know this is not the Biblical intent of this verse but I just couldn’t help myself!)

“I Take Advantage of My Resources”: Lesson Learned From A Sixth Grade Shark”

Noah (self-proclaimed “Mr. Wonderful”, ala the television show “Shark Tank”):  IF ANYONE IN THIS FAMILY IS LAZY, IT’S ME!” 

Me:  “Why do you call yourself lazy?”

Noah:  “Well, I guess I’m not l a z y.   I just take advantage of my resources!”

Me:  “What resources?”

Noah:  “Caleb & Micah of course!”. 

This is not necessarily something that any parent wants to hear being proudly announced by their twelve-year-old son.  But as usual, upon further reflection, I realized hey, I could learn a thing or two from this kid.  Particularly since, the dialogue above began just after Caleb (my Breakfast Zombie), had just blurted out “MOM, YOU’RE LAZY!”

Can you believe it? Called out by a ten-year old who can’t drive himself to nor from school, pay the tuition for said school, cook his own dinner, remember to bathe – nor do homework without my help.  

As he defended my honor, Noah proceeded to school me on resourcefulness. He continued, “I just say, hey Caleb, go to my room and get my back pack and he does it.  Then I say Micah, clean up the rec. room and I’ll let you play a game on my phone later.  He’s happy to do it.  That’s what younger brothers are for.  See mom, I take advantage of my resources!”  Younger brother’s now nodding in unison: “yup, that’s right!”

Noah, once proposed we sell his youngest brother Micah to bring in more income for the family.  He is also the same kid who lead a sibling revolt and demanded an adjusted valuation of Goss Bucks.  Noah is quite a resourceful young man.  He is currently planning an odd job business and asked his lazy mom to help him create business cards, on which he would like to see the phrase “No job is too small or TOO BIG.  Mr. Wonderful has decided to give Caleb a minority share in his company.  Guess which partner will be performing the TOO BIG jobs for their minority stake?

I’ve decided to take a page from Noah’s playbook.  I’ve realized that God has blessed me with these wonderful sons for many reasons.  Besides being the most loving, creative, hilarious, sincere, courteous and outstanding son’s any mother could ask for, they are valuable resources of which I should take full advantage!

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.