Saturday, December 31, 2011

First Paying Gig

I live with a houseful of musicians that rock and roll at all hours.
My heart loves it...but my ears could use a break once in a while.

Don't get me wrong, I don't cringe at the sound of missed notes or flat singing.
Instead, my pain comes from the crash of cymbols, the cranked-up amplifiers...and a mother's concern over hearing loss.
*If they go deaf, the music will only get louder!*

Our good friends got wind that our boys were saving up money to buy a PlayStation 3 - and that Dad was trying to convince them to earn money by playing concerts. (He's sneaky like that, motivating them musically through economics). So, the dear neighbors arranged for my boys to be the LIVE BAND at a New Year's Eve Eve party they held last night.

*WARNING: Proud Mama Alert*

My little musicians practiced all week and convince their main groupie (Dad) to join them on stage for moral support...and to add a funky bass-line.
It's amazing how much more tolerable the LOUD can be when Mama is beaming across a crowded room rather than trying to steal a quiet moment on the couch at home.

With bass guitar joining in, the group turned to Flea, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers for inspiration.
(Caution: do NOT Google Red Hot Chili Peppers unless you want an earful of lyrics requiring a Parental Advisory Sticker. This School of Rock does not allow such language, but Dad knew of a song that is rated G.)

With hat on the ground to collect tips for their wages, and their #1 fan in the front row (*ahem* that's me) -here is a little highlight from their very first PAYING GIG.
 *Walk About by Red Hot Chili Peppers...a song about a journey thru Australia  - but performed as an instrumental by Rassis

I think they need to write their OWN funky bass-line with some lyrics that can be sung to the glory of God. Hmm, sounds like a perfect school project.
Maybe next time they perform, they will get up the nerve to SING it as well...but I'm not holding my breath just yet.

If you want to see the video in a larger format (or other old videos), go visit them here

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jesus was a Smelly Little Boy

I've spent the last few days contemplating the whole idea of God becoming Man.
Infinite Creator of the Universe...itty bitty living space.

God took a part of Himself and sent it to Earth.
Whatever the human, touchable Jesus part felt...the all-powerful, uncomprehensible part ALSO experienced.
God came as a fragile baby, stumbled as an unstable toddler, played as a sweaty, dirt-covered 9-year-old... THAT. blows. my. mind.

I look at my boys and wonder what Jesus was like.
He giggled. He sneezed. He yawned. He submitted to the authority of parents. He loved others.
I often see the image of God in my little boys, but I don't often think of God sharing the image of them. At one time, GOD was a smelly little boy...*thoughtful smile*
I love that.

It helps me love Him in a whole, NEW WAY.
It makes Him REAL - with an added dimension.
Still perfect, but not untouchable. Still experiencing life...but innocently.
Still getting dirty...but not sinning. Still showing us how to LIVING.
THAT's how much we matter to Him.

I love days like today.
Time off, time together...for the sake of celebrating our GOD.
Let's not forget Him.
Let's not limit Him.
Let's explore the depth of Him - so we can be more like Him.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Lost on Christmas Morn...

Our little noisemakers have learned the power of mood music, so Silent Night was streaming softly from the Ipod. Coffee was brewing, the lights were dim...and we all watched Daddy stumble into the kitchen to pour himself a cup of hazelnut and caffeine.
Did I mention the coffee was STILL brewing? Luckily, I'm married to a saint - so he chuckled quietly while cleaning coffee off the counter (even though his wife was cackling at his sleepy mistake from across the room). THAT is how Christmas should start.

Big brother came racing toward me, pen and gift in hand.
"Mom! You have to sign Dad's gift! We forgot!"
The pointing and snorting were soon directed MY way as I distractedly signed my youngest SON'S name...oops.
Little Shnook felt special with his name on the package there was no sense in scribbling it out. We all knew what I MEANT to write...

There were not many gifts to open this morning at Christmas number ONE (gift palooza with all the grandparents would happen soon enough), but we made sure each precious unwrapping was memorable in it's own special way.
My little actor put on quite the production when he opened this gift from his brother.
Who would expect a 9-year-old to get THAT expression over socks? (especially a child who often revolts against being fully clothed - notice the unbuttoned shirt.)

Next we giggled as Dad opened a Star Wars t-shirt where Darth Vadar "sometimes makes a face like this"...

And the comical anecdotes shared while explaining just WHY a pogo stick really ISN'T safe for ages 9 to NINETY-NINE would have made even the Grinch crack a smile.

Finally, what could make a Mother's moment sweeter than opening her gift to find out that she "lost the game."
Confused? Let me explain... We've been playing the game where one player tries to get others to look at a hand making the OK sign.
For instance:

You lose.
You looked at the photo.
I don't care if you weren't still lost.
According to the rules, I should be able to punch you now. Maybe someone nearby can do it for me. Or maybe you can play by Rassi rules just this once. You see, after many a harsh lesson learned while playing "Slug Bug", we decided that family unity requires less bruising. (Plus, the kids want Mom to play...and Mom needs to be treated like a lady - at least when it comes to fists.)

So, this morning I opened a beautiful pair of leather gloves from my adoring children...
Do you see it coming? Yes, the forefinger of the glove was taped securely to the thumb.

So I got my "boring ol' Mom gift" and the men in my life got to have some fun.
We all hooted with laughter as they shouted in unison, "YOU LOSE."

Merry Christmas All!
Hope you laugh a bit yourselves while you celebrate the ONE who blessed us with the ability to giggle. Feel free to come back and share what makes YOU chortle on Christmas morn as well.
God Bless!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where's Your Brother?

We have two VERY different kinds of school days in this house.
One kind is spent being focused, disciplined...and generally happy.
The other is spent with me saying, "For crying out loud, where's your brother?"

Lately we've been having an awful lot of days which require me to find my children between subjects. I'd like to blame them. Ooooh, sometimes I really TRY to blame them...but that kind of argument just doesn't hold water. Unfortunately, the distraction of my students is almost always due to the actions (or inaction) of their unfocused teacher. *grimace*

I've told you of the distractive addiction this silly blog has brought to the surface...but that is only the tip of the iceburg.
I can hardly ask my boys to put down the wrapping paper tubes they are sword-fighting with when I was the one who used up said wrapping paper in the middle of social studies class. (No, it wasn't for a history project; but doesn't Grandma's Christmas present look pretty?)

It's definitely time for a break. It's time to reorganize, re-evalute and recharge. It's time to get all the laughing and playing and poking and bouncing out of our systems over the holidays. (Well, maybe I'LL get enough out of MY system that I can behave -and be focused- when school starts again.)

I've already given up on school productivity until 2012.
Today we've been blaring Christmas music. (They put Reliant K's song, I Celebrate the Day, on repeat, but I didn't realize it until I developed a twitch.)
We made sugar cookies. (I made them double the at least fractions WERE encountered.) And we threw a pounding party in the kitchen (when we BEAT the powdered sugar and flour off of each other's clothes) before the boys disappeared into the public school and left me home to be distracted on my own.

Tis the season...
time for some fun...
Now where was that wrapping paper tube?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, SUNDAY, Sunday

I LOVE Sundays.
It doesn't matter if the family worships at home or with 500 of our closest friends, Sunday tends to be a good day.

Yesterday did have a rough start. (A sleepover with friends caused my boys to slumber past their usual crack of dawn, and rushing out the door was a bit of a shock to their little homeschooled systems.)...But a few cranky altercations do not a Sunday ruin.

Rocky moments were easily forgotten as I saw light bouncing off my diamond ring in the quiet church sanctuary.  (For some reason, it sparkles more there than ANYWHERE ELSE ON EARTH. I think it's God's way of reminding me how beautiful marriage is meant to be.)
Tense mornings can't compete with the peace produced from voices that sing out praises, from truth that is preached, or from hearing my my husband share something meaningful in Sunday School. (He doesn't teach a class; but all kinds of good stuff is locked up inside his head, and Sunday worship lets some of it out.)

So, church ends and I'm filled with love for my man, renewed energy to serve God, and a stronger connection to fellow believers (ADULT CONTACT for a stay-at-home mama - woo hoo!)...then, we drive off the lot and join back into "real life".

I generally don't relax well. I'm always thinking of things I "should" be doing.
My brain runs at high speed, connecting things that have NO business being connected. Most days, I have an overactive sense of responsibility...but Sunday tends to be different.
No, I can't shut off my brain *taking a moment to daydream about THAT luxury*,
but something inside my head makes a subtle shift.
God COMMANDED me to take a day to rest each week.
Rest. Because God said. *Big, happy sigh*

I still tend to accomplish a lot on Sunday (rest is relative when you are "Mom" - and a social butterfly like myself), but my ATTITUDE changes. I see anything I do as a "bonus" rather than an expectation. I let myself stop jumping through hoops and actually ENJOY the moments that fill the day.

My perspective changes...because God said.
I spend the morning focusing on God (often with my husband's arm around me), and we calmly live in that focus the rest of the day. Aaaaah, Sunday...

God also mentioned that I could trust in Him, not be anxious, and praise Him for my blessings ALWAYS...but I haven't managed to accomplish that one yet.
Maybe I'll start by pretending TODAY is Sunday too. *looking at my ring*
Time to "have church" and focus on God with my kids.
Crank up the worship music boys...I'll be teaching Sunday School. (And, yes, Math CAN be a religious experience.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Affirmation Addict

The little red notification square that pops up on facebook when someone "likes" my status (or comments on something I wrote) is like crack.
I'm hooked. Can't get enough.
It's so bad that I actually thought about titling this post "Affirmation Whore", but carnal sin is apparently where I draw the line. I guess crack addict seems softer in some way. *rolling eyes at myself because I'm THAT protective of my marriage that I won't even weaken it by analogy.*

Have I mentioned that I'm prone to tangents? This blog was supposed to help AVOID those moments, but I don't think it's working.

So, about this love of little red squares...
I've had people say, "Your ALWAYS on facebook." (Sometimes they pair a condescending tone or smirk with it to drive their point home.) My gut tightens (as much as is possible in its current muscle-free condition), and I start to make excuses:

"I guess I do POP ON quite a bit during the day - to get some adult interaction."
*sheepish grin*

"Well, funny things happen at my house...and I feel the world should enjoy it with us!" *confident, with a hopeful look that my accuser will agree...and perhaps THANK me*

"I bet I'm not online any more than most people...I just make myself known rather than quietly slinking in the shadows." *deflect, rationalize, avoid!*

The thing is, *big sigh*, it's true. I've been out of control at times.
I had to "reel it in". I had to buckle down. I had to pray.
Don't laugh. I honestly believe God cares about our internet usage.
Moderation and self-discipline is needed to be healthy in life, and God wants us healthy.
I gotta say, giving that temptation to God made such a difference!
I was becoming much more technologically healthy. It was progress. 

Enter: THE BLOG. *face buried in hands*
I have responsibilities, a family, projects calling my name...
But there are pageviews to track, good ideas to write down, comments to read...
The battle is raging.
I need limits. It's already getting out of hand.
This is a photo of my dining room table BEFORE the blog. Er, actually, it's more like my dining room when company is coming. Hold on...
OK, THIS is my normal dining room BEFORE the blog. 
AND THIS is my dining room SINCE the blog. (and in the picture, I managed to miss the piles on the chairs and on the floor nearby.)

I know I can pray for self-control and balance (and God will provide)...but the analytical side of me realizes that this is bigger than time management. Well, maybe the dining room issue IS about time management...but the root of this problem goes deeper. The war I'm fighting has to do with where I find my worth.

I desperately seek validation from others. If I can make you laugh, or smile, or keep reading...then I must be doing something right. Mmmm, validation...I have a real taste for it. (and Mommydom is not known for all the "pats on the back" that come with the I've gone prowling the internet to find them.)

YOU can acknowledge my value. YOU can build me up. YOU can give me coveted "verbal" affirmation (and your words can be read over and over and over again!)
Wow, those are some heavy expectations. Do you feel the pressure? (Yah, I do it to my husband too, poor man.) It's messed up.

I was made in the image of God. He gave me specialized gifts and talents to do His good work. He made me special. He loved me enough to send a part of Himself, His son, Jesus, to be a sacrifice for me. Yah, not everybody liked Him...not everybody affirmed Him...but it didn't change who He was or stop Him from doing what he was called to do.
That kind of love is bigger than any comment I could ever receive. I have intrinsic value from the imprint of God that I wear. I have unconditional love. And so do you. Wow. I can breathe better already as the need for approval is lifted.
We have each been made to bring a specific kind of beauty to this world. I know that I need to TRULY embrace that fact - even when the world doesn't acknowledge it...and only THEN I will know my worth.
No little red notifications necessary.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Charlie Brown Wasn't Homeschooled, so WHY do I?

"Why do I a homeschool?"
There go the sweatglands. Take a deep breath. STALL.
The question confuses me.
Is the asker just making small talk? Are they looking for a debate?
If they REALLY want to many answers can I give before...
WARNING: Asking me about homeschooling can be dangerous! If you don't want a 30 minute spastic flurry of excited words, DO NOT ACT INTERESTED - actually, don't even make eye-contact. It's rare that someone climbs into that world with me - so when they do, Manic Becky takes over and smothers them with information until their eyes glaze over and they are forced to find their "happy place" far, far away.

Maybe I'll just blog a few of the reasons we homeschool and point people to this post in the future when my antiperspirant starts to fail...

THIS is why we homeschool.
 (The picture is worth 1000 words, yet I wrote 1000 more words for the sake of "clarity".) 

*sidenote* The following list is written in bullet-point format so you can "get the gist" without reading all the details. My husband has informed me that this is necessary if I desire men to read (and/or comprehend) anything I write - ever. (I now bullet-point all emails to him, including love letters.)
Part of the "WHY":
  1. My husband is in sales.  No, we're not trying to produce little salesmen educated in the fine art of storytelling and winning smiles (although it IS happening, see photo at end of blog). Sales just means traveling, and "My Man" promised not to be an absent father - so he hauls his crew along whenever possible (not an easy task if the kiddos are in "normal" school).
  2. I am a control freak. Once my oldest son turned 5 and started UNDERSTANDING the "wisdom" I was pouring into him...I wasn't willing to send him away. I had YEARS worth of good stuff to tell him (and since I'd go toe to toe with my PASTOR on occasion, I doubted that any unsuspecting kindergarten teacher was going to warp my kids in EXACTLY the perfect way to suit my tastes.) I've often said: "If someone's gonna mess 'em up, I want no one to blame but myself." (This has come back to bite me often when I've looked at my offspring and cried, "What have I done?")
  3. Jesus made me do it. I'm sure this is what some people expect to hear, so here ya go. I do feel like I was "meant" to I didn't want to homeschool at first ("The house will NEVER be empty, or quiet...or clean."), but my husband encouraged me to give it a try. We did a trial year for kindergarten - and I was blessed with all-day-long-conversations which started with "Why Mama?" and ended with, "Because God..." Whether it's Math or Science or English, I get to point my boys to Christ and show them how God's plan has purpose: their struggles have purpose, their questions have purpose, Cottonwood trees have purpose (although I'm REALLY not sure what their purpose is - except to teach me how to be thankful for life even while I'm sneezing or have sticky seeds adhered to my carpet.)
  4. I get to sleep with the superintendent. Okay, this isn't an actual reason I homeschool, but it IS a perk. I get major input on snow days, holidays, field trips, curriculum and even school lunches (and I don't have to break any Biblical laws to do it). Oh, I could list a WHOLE LOAD of perks that come along with homeschooling...wait a second, are your eyes starting to glaze?
I hope you noticed that I did NOT mention negatives about the public school. My kids actually take music and gym classes at our local elementary school, and we LOVE the way they allow us to be involved in talent shows, holiday parties, and state testing.
I do not look down upon, judge or criticize those who send their kids to the public school. I used to teach in the public school, and on particularly hard days, I have been known to daydream about my children being taught...far somebody else...while I put my feet up and read a book for ENJOYMENT rather than research. *shaking head* I'm sorry, wandered a bit there.
Seriously, I really enjoy our current schooling situation - and when it comes to
education, I'm ALWAYS open to friendly discussions. I enjoy a dialogue where we can love, respect and encourage each other on this journey - even if we do things "differently". All parents have a daunting chore ahead of them, and we need all the support we can get. So remember, I got your back.

Now, I'd better get going. I'm pretty sure my boys have started reading Calvin and Hobbes rather than doing math. Or maybe they are done with math, but their teacher was a bit distracted...
Salesmen? Spies? Jake and Elwood?
My boys (with their winning smiles).

*This blog was picked for the  Homeschool Showcase at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"You Should Start a Blog."

Yep, that's JUST what I need - a blog.
Another distraction.
Another place to "perform" (and critique myself).
Another way to get myself into trouble with words.
Another place to be authentic and show the world that Christians can laugh, and struggle, and laugh, and be empowered, and laugh...and truly love Jesus.
Wait a second - that last one didn't sound half bad.

So, here I am.
I would love to make you laugh everytime you visit this site, but that kind of pressure stresses me out. Instead, I'll just share whatever happens to be "life" in each moment. I'm a mom (who is warping her children through homeschool), a recovering perfectionist, a decent sidekick for my (much funnier) husband, and a hot mess.

If you'd like to come along with me on this journey, I'd appreciate the company...and maybe a witness or two.