The Gift of the Magi…Revisited

The Gift of the Magi…Revisited

Four tickets to a college basketball tournament fell into our laps at the last minute. Hubby and I thought about it for a moment, trying to reason through who would go. Both he and I love college ball, so ✔️️ and ✔️️ . Then we thought, “Who else has college in the blood?” Crusader,✔️️ , and Songbird,✔️️. We knew the girls would rather have movie night at home and whither they goeth, TD followeth. So, we were all set. But not so fast…What about Think Tank? He’s not a basketball fan, and college isn’t on his radar, but spending time with Crusader is always within his sights. There was no storybook ending here. The best option for this mom? Giving up my ticket and sending Think Tank in my place. But Songbird couldn’t bear the thought of crashing my “date night” with Hubby, especially since she’s not really a basketball fan and she didn’t like either of the colleges represented. So, Songbird opted to stay and send me in her place. But the love story doesn’t end there. Think Tank hated to unseat someone, and so he refused to go. We stood there looking at each other, at an impasse, until Songbird and I prayed about it. And after much hemming and hawing and sacrifice we worked it out, and we four Cinderellas—Hubby, Crusader, Think Tank, and I—laced up our glass slippers, hopped into our coach, and headed to the ball…game. Now, if this really was a Disney story, it would have ended with Hubby finding a fifth ticket and my best friend stopping by on a whim to invite the younger ones over for a...
Eyes on His Prize

Eyes on His Prize

Yesterday, TD stood there sobbing, looking out the back door. “They’re already swinging!” Sure enough, Brown Sugar and Lone Ranger were churning away. We’ve dismantled part of the playset, so at the moment, we have just two working seats. TD was late to the party and had missed the opportunity to nab a swing. “Why don’t you go out anyway? I’m sure you’ll get a turn.” As I encouraged him, I prayed that that would be the case. While God might extend goodness and mercy, it’s not guaranteed to flow from the little people. But out he went, and I watched from the window as he stood there in the yard in all his hopeless misery while Brown Sugar and Lone Ranger pumped harder and higher. Please, Lord, touch their hearts. A minute later, Lone Ranger leaped to the ground in mid-swing and skipped over. She wrapped her arm around TD and guided him over to one of the now-empty swings—with only one glance at the window where I happened to stand. For good measure, Brown Sugar hopped from hers, too. All was right with the world, at least for a minute. Now, the jaded among us would say Lone Ranger only sacrificed her seat because she knew I was watching. Maybe so. But don’t we choose certain paths because we know God our Father has His eyes and hands on us? I mean…really. It’s not out of my inner sainthood that I once gave up my Prince concert tickets because of missing choir rehearsal. It’s not out of the goodness of my heart that I walk farther to return...
The Comfort Zone

The Comfort Zone

Maven and I can hang. We’re comfy sitting in the same room, with her lounging on one end of the sofa and me on the other, reading, writing, drawing. We share the same space, if not the same orbit, without saying a word to each other. All alone…together. The Earth and Mars. Sadly, there hasn’t been much tent pitching around here this week. She’s had to go out a lot for classes, field trips, museum visits, Bible study, and play dates, and I’ve been spinning crazily right there alongside her. It’s all good stuff, and it satisfies the needs of the extroverted among us. Maven and I, on the other hand are done, physically and emotionally. The sofa is surely calling our name. But God has been calling us by our full name, like what my mama uses when she really wants my attention. He knows how I like my comfort zone. I’m productive there. And my voice and index finger work quite well from there—there’s even wi-fi. But if He’d left me in my comfort zone I never would’ve had seven children, I wouldn’t be homeschooling, I wouldn’t have some of the wonderful—and not-so-wonderful—people in my life, I wouldn’t be counseling other homeschool moms, I would never have tried hummus, I wouldn’t have ridden a horse up a mountain while holding an infant, I wouldn’t have been inspired to work on another book. I wouldn’t have had the courage or the means to tell you all about any of this. Perhaps God is calling you to step out of that safe place, to start traveling in different circles,...
A Balanced Meal

A Balanced Meal

While we’re on food… We’ve been changing our way of eating. Normally, that would be a good thing, but in our family’s case we’re all going in different directions. Brown Sugar is learning that there are other food groups besides “sweets.” Today she added omelets to her breakfast fare. Last week she ate her first sandwich. But then she cried over her roasted cauliflower and she tried to hide her grilled chicken under her plate last night. This child will help cut and chop, stir and measure all day long, and she can cook the dickens out of her Play-Doh and felt food, but actually eat what she makes? Perish the thought and the plate it’s served on. On the other end of the dining spectrum munches Think Tank, who’ll devour everything that sits still long enough, and at least two helpings of it. He eats a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich as an appetizer and another as his dessert. In between he’ll inhale two or three bowls of spaghetti with meat sauce. I’m trying to figure out where it all goes. Chunky toes, maybe? Maven, Songbird, TD, and Lone Ranger reside somewhere in the middle of the table, depending on the menu and time of day. Maven, reigning Carbohydrate Queen, can swallow a whole Italian loaf in one sitting, TD discovers his appetite at bedtime, and Songbird takes her name to heart, only eating bits of this and that. Lone Ranger would make my Grandma happy because she loves her leafy veggies. Watch out, collard greens! Hubby and I want our food to be “less filling” and “taste great” instead of one...
Coming Hat in Hand

Coming Hat in Hand

Crusader made the mistake of leaving one of his Christmas gifts behind when he returned to school, and I think he can truly kiss it goodbye. It’s one of those Bluetooth beanies, and from the moment Think Tank tried it on…let’s just say the two connected. At first I think he loved it because of the technology, but now, that hat is his forever friend. It’s hard to picture what pre-beanie Think Tank looked like. And he’s not alone. I love my hats. They’ve become an all-purpose security blanket, like Linus’s from the Peanuts Gang. I wear hats to protect my pin curls from the rain, to keep my head warm in the cold, to complete an outfit, or to hide a bad hair day. They make me feel comfortable and safe, and it’s rare that I leave home, or even my bedroom, without one. Crusader added to my collection at Christmas, so I have lots of coordinating colors, and thanks to Hubby, I, too, can slide on my Bluetooth-connected cap and tune out the world while turning up Kirk Franklin. But nobody wears a hat like my mama. My hats covered a multitude of sins, but not my mama’s. She believed that when you went to church, you looked your best—and she didn’t save her best bonnet for Easter. On Sundays around 11:50 a.m., almost an hour after the opening prayer, she’d strut through one of the front doors that faced the whole congregation and sit in the far-left corner of the very first pew. We girls always wanted to just slip in unnoticed through a side door,...
Love the One You’re With

Love the One You’re With

When Lone Ranger has one of her besties over I don’t hear a peep. They run up to her room and hang out there for hours, coloring, playing with her Calico Critters, writing stories together—basically any activity that involves giggling and chit chat. They only emerge to munch on popcorn or bake cookies or gather their shoes and coats to head home. I don’t have to referee, moderate, redirect, or correct. It’s just love, butterflies, and sunshine. Now, on the other hand…subtract her BFFs and add a dash of Brown Sugar or TD. What you get doesn’t always equal a day of wine and roses. It’s more like whine and ruckus. Just what is it with family? They know you best, and they sometimes hurt you the most. Think Tank knows TD hates enclosed, dark spaces—which is exactly why he traps him under a blanket. Lone Ranger knows which swing is Brown Sugar’s favorite, so that’s the one she hops in. Crusader knows how much Songbird hates the nickname he gave her, so that’s the way he greets her when he comes home. But then Maven toasts Brown Sugar’s jelly sandwiches just the way she likes them: crispy and light brown. Only Lone Ranger can make TD laugh when she washes (and conditions) his hair. When Crusader visits, he and Think Tank talk and horse around until the wee hours. Songbird will spend an entire Saturday afternoon playing doctor’s office with the whole crew. Brown Sugar will help anybody with…anything. And TD loves to let loose with…everybody. My little people love deeply, play rough, and fight to the death. This love/hate...