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

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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

3 Things Your Pastor’s Wife May be Too Sweet To Tell You

Reserved for the Pastor's Wife

She probably doesn’t need this, she parked 45 minutes ago…

This post may just end my career as a Pastor’s Wife. Oh wait, it’s a Calling, not a career so…

1)  When you call her on Sunday mornings to ask if your kids can come over (while you go grocery shopping), the silence you hear before she speaks, is her attempt to maintain her composure and not say ‘ARE YOU CRAZY!’

She loves you and your children and will gladly offer a helping hand in times of need.  She left her cozy bed and her family to come to your aid at 1:00am when your daughter threatened to run away.  She prayed and cried with you when you were considering throwing in the towel on your marriage.  She even allowed you to live in her modest home for six weeks rent free while you saved enough money to move into your own place.  Know that she loves you, cares for you and would go to great lengths to exemplify the love that Jesus has for you.  She carries your burdens to the heart of Christ in her prayers, but she is not your babysitter and she is definitely busier than you are on a Sunday morning!

2)  When you hear someone sharply and loudly whispering the following, “Don’t ask me again! It’ll be over when he’s finished preaching!” – It’s probably your Pastor’s wife addressing her own children.

Of course it was her idea to have the children stay in “big” Church and not go to children’s small groups. Just remember, when she has this type of lapse in judgement, it’s your opportunity to see that her children are just as crazy as yours. Her three boys piled into their stinky minivan packed with bulletins, food for the homeless, children’s church stuff and two extra boys from the neighborhood. She also had to go through the same litany of commands you did before leaving the house.

“Leave all nerf weaponry at home, go back inside and change your shirt because you have worn that shirt three days in a row.  No you cannot wear your soccer cleats, go and find your shoes.  Do not do “parkour” on the Church! Lastly, remember why we gather, we are going there to worship God and enjoy each other.”

3)  When your Pastor’s wife is setting up to serve the weekly meal that she and other women spent their morning preparing for their homeless friends in the park, do not curse her out because she may go all ghetto on you!

She may seem mild mannered and saintly but she is no whimp!  Where she was raised disrespect is not tolerated even if the perpetrator forgot to take his meds!  As they said in her hood, don’t start non, won’t be non!  (for those of you who were not raised in her hood, the word that’s missing in the aforementioned phrase,  is “trouble”)  She will patiently bear with all of your quirks and is very forgiving and non judgmental, knowing that she has many quirks and many sins of her own.  But curse her out when her hormones are out of wack and it’s 1991 all over again!  (Those were the days before she was your Pastor’s wife and having a ‘come to Jesus moment’ meant something entirely different.)

Keep her on your heart and in your prayers.  She may need you to ask how you may help her or pray for her even though she seems well able to handle everything that comes her way.  Understand when she does not answer your emails nor return your phone calls right away, she may be counseling the teenager she has taken into her home to keep the young lady from going into “the system”.  When she says no to you and your family she is saying yes to someone elses family or imagine this, to her own family.

Know that you may not be privy to why she makes certain decisions for her family and when there are no good reasons to be found, please extend grace because she too is made of clay.  Before you criticize her, confront her or walk away from her company remember, she is in great need of your love, patience, acceptance and assistance. says that Pastor’s Wives are the most vulnerable people in your Church.  Remember you are on this journey together.

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. 

Live creatively, friends.  If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. ~ Galatians 6:1-3 The Message Translation

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. 

“Let’s Move!, but not so quickly”: Crazy School Bans & Lapses of Common Sense

A friend recently forwarded an article to me that really left me baffled.  The headline read, “School District Bans Running At Recess.”  My first thought was, this must be an urban legend.  So, I did what any responsible journalist, blogger, mom-with-a-mac would do; I researched and found that the ban on running at recess was just the tip of the iceberg!

Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, will have to change the name of her “Let’s Move!” initiative to “Let’s Move!, but not so quickly”.  Recently, a Collection of postage stamps commissioned by the White House to encourage kids to play sports and lead active lifestyles was recalled.  The stamps, “deemed unsafe by federal officials included illustrations of kids skateboarding without kneepads, doing a cannonball dive into a swimming pool, and doing a handstand without wearing a helmet…” according to a recent ABC News Post

I shared this story with the 3 Bros. in my Flying Circus (my sons) and they laughed hysterically.  One of them said, “who ever heard of wearing a helmet to do a handstand.”  Apparently White House Officials have!

It seems to me that there is something quite sinister going on here.  I believe this movement to bubble wrap our children and protect them from life’s bumps and bruises goes far beyond attempts to keep them safe.  I believe that there is a breed of people that excel in Politics and Educational Administration, who skipped prepuberty all together.  These freaks of nature were toddlers and then suddenly teens with nary a hop, skip or jump between developmental phases.  Perhaps they’ve forgotten how fun it was to climb a tree, turn cartwheels, jump rope and play a game that was not initiated or supervised by an adult, even if a scraped knee or competitive loss may have ensued!

My handsome hubbie is the chair of a local track and field event for children.  The name of the event includes the words Youth Races.  A parent asked why we gave children ribbons for placing 1st-3rd in their events.  He felt that this was not fair to the children who were less athletically inclined.  I wanted to remind him that the definition of the word “races” infers competition between runners.

I did however, point out that all of the children were given participation ribbons.  I told him that in our opinion, the Youth Races helped teach children valuable life lessons that should not be avoided because they may be uncomfortable at first. All of the children were winners for participating but not all could win the race.  It is important for children to learn to gracefully celebrate the achievements of others even when the results of the efforts of others surpass their own.  (It’s a lesson my son rehearses each year as the aforementioned dad’s son takes the coveted spot in the district spelling bee – EVERY year!)

Lest you think the madness stops with running at recess, cannon ball dives and handstands without helmets.  Here is a partial list of activities and traditions that have been banned by a school near you.

  1. New York Department of Education banned the words dinosaur, poverty, birthdays, divorce, Halloween and dancing, which “might elicit ‘unpleasant emotions’ in students.”
  2. BFFs now BANd.  That’s right, in an attempt to “save others’ feelings”, best friends are not allowed in some schools in the UK.
  3. Hand holding at school banned in Tennessee
  4. Red Ink banned because of it’s “confrontational” nature at schools in Australia and the UK.
  5. Because of its “aggressive” nature, dodge ball has been banned in schools in New Hampshire.  Adult dodge ball leagues conversely continue to grow by leaps and bounds (no pun intended).
  6. A school in New York has banned all non-motorized modes of transportation to and from school.  Again the Let’s Move generation is being asked not to move.
  7. Traditional sports balls banned in a Long Island Middle School.  Kids are given nerf balls to play with instead.
  8. Tag, touch football, and even soccer banned in schools across North America.
  9. Superheros no longer welcome in preschools.

Allowing our kids to have an active childhood, both physically and creatively does not come without its share of risks.  The 3 Bros in my flying circus have all been taken to the emergency room at a local hospital (one more than once) with various fractures and dislocations.  That being said, they also know what it is like to survey their pretend kingdom for hours in an ancient tree.  They’ve swam in streams and pretended to be Pioneer-Survivor-Warriors with fifteen other boys in our neighborhood.  They have childhood stories that will inspire their children to play and dream.

There is a Bible verse that I believe sums up a parenting perspective that may be lost on our generation of parents.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7).

I’d love to hear some of your favorite childhood memories involving play.  Please share in the comments below!

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. 

The Cougar Roars!

Truth be told, I was tired.  Very tired! I hate to admit that I was tired because I am old.  Really old!  Becoming an Amazonian warrior princess at 50 has been no small feat.  Against all odds, I am fighting the good fight against cellulite, catastrophic gastronomic disasters, a withering brain, hot flashes, dry eyes and gravity.  The decision to declare war on aging was not made lightly.   Now that I have troops on the ground,  I am committed to fight until the day I die! As committed as I am now, you need to know I did not start out that way.

My initial plan was to sit back, relax and let nature run her course.  I should have known that marrying a man six years younger than I would complicate my decision to become a new type of model.  The African-American, plus-sized senior girl is definitely under represented in the Metamucil and Cialis ads.  It was a perfectly logical plan which was quite desirable as well. I could eat whatever I fancied, let my hair go grey and make some money for the family.  Sweet!

When handsome hubby met me, I was a smoking-hot, 35-year-old, six-foot one half-inch – head turner.  People would come up to me and ask “hey, are you a model?”  I’d smile sweetly and answer “oh no – not anymore, that ship sailed long ago.”  My astonished admirer would then say, “wow, no way, you could totally be a model today.”  “You should get back into it.  Why did you quit?”

About a year and a half ago, a stranger stopped me in Trader Joe’s and said “Excuse me ma’am, you’re very tall.  Did you model when you were younger?”  Ok, that did it!  When did grown folks start calling me ma’am? When did people begin to agree that my ship had not only sailed, it was docked at another port?

This was the moment I remembered who I am.  A strong-willed, cougar with some resources!  I declared war on aging and began collecting and using heavy artillery.

  1. BB and CC creams:  Who says my youthful glow and dewy days are behind me?
  2. Semi Permanent Hair Color With Grey Coverage Capabilities:  Or as we half centenarians like to say “shade enhancing highlights.”
  3. Beachbody DVDs:  This is serious boot camp, or should I say booty camp, except that it never ends 4-6 days a week, every week, 25-60 minutes per day for as many years as my body will allow.
  4. ReStore Eye Drops:  I won’t even mention what other areas of my body are much drier than they used to be.
  5. Ice Water and Our Freezer:  Drink a glass of ice water with my head in the freezer to combat hot flashes.
  6. Spanx:  Need I say more

Since embarking upon this regimen with military precision, I have won some major battles.  I’ve lost over twenty-five pounds, reversed gravity in some very important areas, have fabulous highlights, and only jiggle when my seven-year old smacks my butt (to watch it jiggle – ugh!). Our sons even say that mom now looks younger than dad. 🙂

Micah (the butt jiggler) recently proclaimed, “mom has guns!”  The other day at Trader Joe’s a man did a double take as I walked by!  (full disclosure, it could have been because I was wearing three-inch heels which made me almost 6’4″).  Handsome hubby is a happy hubby!  I’m healthy, and I have the stamina to play beach volleyball, hike and go bike riding with my family.   I know that one day, old age will win the war, but sharing life with my active young family makes fighting these daily battles worthwhile!  By the grace of God and with an arsenal of age defying weapons this Cougar will be roaring for decades to come.

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~The Ringmaster

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The Confession

It was Christmas Eve and all was right with my world.  The 3 bros flying circus was experiencing a rare moment of tranquility and brotherly love.  It was like a scene from the 50’s Christmas classic, White Christmas, except there was no snow (we live in Southern California).  Our weathered minivan was transformed into a Cathedral as six of the most important people in my life (including me) were singing Christmas carols in three-part harmony.  My mother, my three boys, handsome hubby and I sounded like angels (and surprisingly behaved like them too) as we joyfully transitioned from one carol to the next.

Influenced by the Christmas Eve message we had heard in church, followed by our annual trek to view some over-the-top Christmas lights and decorations, we were giddy with Christmas cheer.  With the last notes “sle-ep in heaaaa-venly peace” still lingering in the air, Caleb (breakfast zombie) asked – with tears in his eyes- “Does Santa really know who is naughty and who is nice?”  My handsome husband replied, “Yes Caleb, he does.”  Caleb, now sobbing, blurted out, “I have something to confess!”

My heart stopped.  The formerly festive van now seemed to be moving in slow motion.  What could my eight year old son possibly have to confess that would be troubling his soul so profoundly?  I wasn’t sure if I could handle hearing his confession.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear his confession.  I definitely wasn’t sure I wanted his confession to occur out loud in front of his entire family, including his granny.

We sat silently as he continued.  “You know how every night you ask me to brush my teeth?”  Handsome hubby and I replied slowly in unison, “Yes.”  Caleb continued sobbing even more “Well, I don’t do it.  I just go into the bathroom and turn on the water and stare in the mirror.  I don’t brush my teeth at night when you tell me to, but I say I do!!! Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo!!!!”

Granny, handsome hubby, and I, now relieved of our anxiety, had to fight back tears of joy and laughter.  Fully recovered,  handsome hubby, who is a pastor who weekly proclaims forgiveness to repentant sinners said, “Caleb, thank you for that confession.  We forgive you son. God forgives you and, yes, Santa forgives you too.”

With all hearts cleared and Caleb now relieved of his burden we continued our drive home in cozy silence.  As we drove off into the starry night I reflected upon the power of confession, forgiveness and our acceptance of the amazing gift that we would celebrate the following morning.  The Christ child of whom we sang about in our van was the very same one who provides us with the ability to sleep in heavenly peace, knowing that whatever we do, we can be forgiven, accepted, and loved.