Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Winning

Not only was she surprised but also thrilled.
So, in Johnsonville, we win quite a few awards. It's because we play so many sports and participate in so many activities. Like BETA and NHS and basketball, football, volleyball, cheer, softball...you're bound to win something eventually just based on participation. The Number One Son even has a trophy for winning a fishing contest and we don't really fish.

Well, Big E hasn't won anything. Ever. It's really odd. Every kid in Johnsonville has a shelf of trophies, but E's is empty. So for her 14th birthday, we rectified that. We had a very special awards ceremony with only one winner: Elise.





No. 1 Interpretive Dancer
Most of us have a hidden talent. Elise's is comedic performance under the subheading "Interpretive Dance". See, the child doesn't move her head and shoulders when she dances. It's spectacular. And hilarious. When she gets really going, people have been known to snort soft drinks out of their noses and pee their pants. It's something you should see before you die. Really. That certainly deserves an award.


Cheerleading: The Bigger the Base the Better
Being the base in cheer is sort of anticlimactic. You just don't get the same recognition as the fliers. (And having a flying sibling doesn't help your self esteem when she's pixie-sized and you look like a normal human being. And E is sort of tiny in her own right. She's only 5'2 for goodness sake. She's a shortcake in her own right.) So, we awarded her the trophy for being Bigger. (We don't call her Big E because of her size. We call her Big E for her personality.) No one puts Elise in a corner. No one.

First in France
Here's a little known factoid. In England, the monarchy heir is determined by birth order, so if twins are born, the first one out of the chute wins the golden crown. But in France, they go with gestation. And that means that the twin who is highest in the womb gestated first--so the second one out is Queen. This means that in England Naynuh is in charge, but in France, it's all Big E. They are only separated by two minutes, but Naynuh has the title of "First Born". Being first born (even if it's in France) is worthy of an award.


Mom's Favorite
Each of my children knows who the favorite is. Seriously.

Superstar
This should be self explanatory. She's a superstar. Don't be dense.


The only thing missing was Biggest Hair, but that trophy is elusive. It's hard to find a plastic sculpture with an afro. As you can see by the blurry photos, the one winner awards show was quite a success. Everyone needs to feel special now and again. And if it only cost a handful of plastic trophies to accomplish special, well, so be it. 

The moral? The world is going to beat you down. Your family should always be the safe place that lifts you up. No one else won an award today in Johnsonville, but we all participated. Because that is what family does--one body with many parts.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Laissez-Faire Parenting Manual Johnson Style

Mother's Day 2014
Sometimes it's difficult being a Johnson.

Laissez-Faire is probably the closest to our parenting method in Johnsonville. Literally defined it means "live and let live". It's really dismissed as an effective parenting style, because I think that folks don't fully understand what it means. It's setting boundaries and letting children self-fulfill in the confines of those boundaries. It begins with expectations and consequences.

Let me illustrate...



As a Johnson, you are expected to:

Pick up after yourselves. (Consequence: if you don't, I will throw your things away or sell them on Ebay.)

Put the group needs before the individual wants. (Consequence: if you don't work it out together, I will stomp in and solve it where I am the only winner. Example: no one can choose one common ice cream flavor. I buy what I want that no one else eats like coffee flavored. Hence, you are all screwed and I am pleased as punch with my own personal ice cream container. Result: next grocery store visit, everyone suddenly agrees on one flavor unanimously without a single whimper.)

Wait your turn. (If not, I will stop whatever the activity is and the person who has been cheated out of playing time/watching time will simply get the entire device uninterrupted for the rest of the day.)

Participate in everything that the church is doing, even if you don't like it. (If you don't get ready on time and with a happy face, I will not take you anywhere fun for days and weeks into the future.)

Go as a family to family events. (If you are given an option to stay or go, it's all good, but if we are going on a family thing see the previous statement.)

Being a student is your number one job. We expect your very best every single day in every single subject. (If you do your best, there's nothing to discuss. If you don't do your best, then don't expect sports, instruments, television, computer, games, outings, friends to spend the night, etc. I am the only judge of "what your best" looks like and it's arbitrary, so I'd really put some thought into What Mom Expects under this category.)

Support your siblings in sporting events that you don't play or enjoy watching. (Or you can play all of your games without us watching you.)

Don't touch other people's things without permission.(Or I will let them touch ALL of your things any time without permission, because you don't actually own anything in this house. Your father and I own it all and it's ours --we just let you borrow it.)

Share the Netflix account time. (Or your user account will be deleted immediately.)

Expect that your parental units are investigating your texts/emails/Instagram/Facebook/Twitter account like we are Angela Lansbury in a Murder She Wrote episode. (If I don't like what I find, I will print it and post the offending material all over the refrigerator for everyone to read. Second offense and you won't have those things anymore.)

The Laissez-Faire Bonuses to the Child: 

There is no bedtime. (You will however, get up and be ready to go on time every time otherwise I will help you with a bedtime, because you are clearly too irresponsible to handle this like a Big Person.)

No one nags you about chores. (But if that garbage isn't taken out on time, it will be deposited in your bed.)

You don't have to eat what we're serving in the kitchen.  (If you don't like it, cereal isn't going to kill you and you can make it yourself or go hungry. I don't care which you choose.)

You can watch and listen to just about whatever you'd like. (But if I join you, you can't change the channel or apologize for the content. I'll sit through the whole show/song with you. And then you'll have to listen to the lecture and Bible lesson that might follow with as much attention as you gave the show, or I can pull the TV out of your room or sell the IPod or phone, because they are mine.)

You have no set curfew. (It depends on who, when, where, how many, what time, and the activity. Seriously. If I say 10:00, it's 10:00. If I say midnight, it's midnight. I can change my mind as often as I'd like. That's why I get to be called Mom.)

Laissez-faire: Live and let live. :-) It's working so far.  




Sister Sunshine Charlotte Needs to Blow Off Some Steam

I clearly haven't been on my game lately. Sister Sunshine Charlotte hasn't made nearly enough appearances in the recent past. People have forgotten that sometimes I am the person in the room to be feared.

It's about to be the season of No More Mrs. Nice Guy.

Various Ramblings of a Quasi-Insane Mother of Five:

If you wanted a different color, perhaps you should have been on the committee or like come to a business meeting or something. Otherwise, just say, "Thank you for all of your hard work." (And the fact that you complain makes it difficult for me to like you.) This counts on voting and choosing ANYTHING in the church. If you don't come and participate regularly, why should anyone care what you think? Seriously. 

We are rural. I'm 45 minutes away from a Wal-Mart. One way. And 15 minutes from fast food. One way. We still have phone line Internet. We only have one flat-screened tv--the rest are 'fat' televisions. We use the DVD option on Netflix because the Internet isn't reliable enough to watch a movie from the Internet on the television and the fat tv in the living room doesn't have that capability. It doesn't make us backward--it makes us quaint. (And if you make fun of us for that, I know where your heart lies--it's in your possessions and status which makes you a pauper.) 

I buy literally everything my kids wear from consignment shops. I think handing a child a $200+ purse makes you a complete moron. If I had that kind of money lying around, my kids still won't be receiving $200.00 purses. It's asinine. In fact, the only new non-consumables we buy are undergarments, shoes, bathing suits, sports gear, bedding, and mattresses. The rest of it is fine used. It doesn't make us poor--it makes us frugal and resourceful. (And if you look down on that, I know that you are only concerned with appearance and not with inner man, which makes you a poseur.) 

We only eat out maximum once a week. And then I'm paying to feed eight-to-twelve people at every sit down, so it's rare. That's why we never go anywhere, not because we aren't adventurous enough. It's because we can't afford it. It doesn't make us uncultured--it means more family meals at home with the people I love the most in the world. (We've stayed in some of the nicest homes in the world, eaten with the finest people, served in the most humble manner. You are showing yourself to be a snob.) 

What happened to being content with what we have and living within our means? It's exhausting trying to make everyone happy, so I quit that futile quest ages ago. Now if God's good with it, I'm good with it. 

Mother of the Year Award



So, today I was in my classroom after school with my baby girl. She was trying to get me to fork over some gum. I kept saying no and she kept saying yes. There were a few students still milling around watching the show. I cupped The Little Flower's face in my hand and said, "Go on and tell them what your favorite thing in the world is."

I then said for her, moving her mouth with my hand like I was the ventriloquist and she was the dummy, "Gum."

She turned to me and said, "I wasn't going to say that."

I said, "Oh, I see..." turning her face back to the crowd, "So, your really favorite thing in the world is paper and pen."

She turned her little face back to me and said, "I wasn't going to say that either."

Still playing the game, I turned her face back to the crowd and moving her mouth I said, "So, go on and tell them; what is your favorite thing in the world?"

She whipped her head back so that she was facing me again and said, "You." And then she flung her arms around me.

That's right. I'm Mom of the Year again.

Dusting off the Disappointment

Writing is a funny thing. I got a little depressed about something and nothing would come out for the longest time. There was nothing pleasant or happy or funny to write about. I just felt disheartened in my spirit and couldn't get the ball rolling. See, I wrote something really nice about someone...like an ode...and it turned out that person was behaving like a great, big, fat disappointment and trying to steal something important from me. Disappointment is a strange feeling--like the air being let out of a balloon--sometimes it's slow and steady, but sometimes it's just a great big popping noise and then nothing but a shred of rubber bits lying on the floor. I had that pop/shred/bits thing going on.

Here's the nutshell: people will always disappoint you.

It's just a fact. They can't live up to your expectations all of the time. No one can.

But God will never fail you. He promised, and He cannot lie.

So, perhaps I'll dust off the writing medium and give it another go.

But I probably won't be praising anyone anytime soon.

And all of my thankful posts will go directly to God via prayer. :-)


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Putting the FUN Back in Sports

The Number One Son is Lucky Number 13 on the far left-hand side.
Random observations from the beginning of sports season at Casa de Johnson.

We play small sports. What I mean is that our school is small. As in we have 67 kids in the high school from 7th to 12th grades. From that pool, we populate all of our sports. All of them.  Small.

Coaching: 

Yeah, okay, so we are losing across the board in every sport this season, but when the coaches and support staff are paid for the quantity of hours they expend (like at Hoover) then we can complain. Until then, remember that the coaches and support staff mostly volunteer to coach and lead and line the field and cut the grass and drive hours and hours to games and practices with little or no help. They cannot be rewarded adequately for the amount of effort expended, so it must be motivated by something else, like, oh, I don't know, love of the kids/love of the game. In fact, we don't have a "real" coach in the group--it's parents and teachers volunteering.

Soak in that for a second.

David by Michelangelo
So, we don't win all of the time. Big whoop. I'm not sure that's the main point in the first place of small Christian school athletics. Sure, it would be nice to win more than we lose, but I'm not sure that even Michelangelo could have sculpted David without the proper tools. I'm just staying that maybe it's just what it is.

Notes to Our Opponents: 

If your team is ahead 49 to 0 I think it's safe to pull your starters and let the second string play awhile. No really. I think it's okay. Especially since I can see from this rickety bleacher where I am balancing precariously, afraid that it might give way any second, that your second string is still bigger than our starting line up. Why not let 'em have a chance to at least get those uniforms dirty, Coach.

Also, if you are ahead by that much, you should probably stop screaming like The Incredible Hulk from the sidelines trying to pump up the team--there's clearly already enough testosterone in the air. We get it. You won.

Giving your opponents rickety bleachers or making them stand seems to contradict that whole 'esteem others as more than yourself' thing that the Bible had rolling. (I'd have been embarrassed to death to offer those seats to company in my house.) The Bible is a book of literal interpretation. I know exactly how you feel about God by looking at your spending habits and how you treat your visitors.

Also, if your players are pushing off of other people to stand up and not checking on players they have just turned into creamed corn, same. We aren't in the Iron Bowl. It's a six-man football game. You aren't Bo Jackson, dude. You are a 155-lb kid who wouldn't have made the team in 11-man ball. Seriously.

Notes to Our Teams:

Big E (background player) and Naynuh (foreground player)
If you realize that it's David and Goliath (for example when we play Kingwood in volleyball), perhaps the goal should shift a little--maybe we ought to be known as the Team That Has the Most Fun EVER--All of the Time.  As in, "Did you see those girls? They had matching socks and hugged each other when the ball when flying out of bounds and ended with a sweet spirit even if the score was 6 to 25 and why didn't we have Swedish meatballs and Chick-fil-a at our snack table? What a joyful and Christlike group of young ladies! I can't wait to play them again."

Like last night on the football field--the team we played were just competing as an 8-man team and have gone down to 6-man. They were physically bigger. There were more of them. They had an entirely separate offensive and defensive line. They weren't playing iron man ball like we were. They even came down to our jamboree game and videotaped us to prepare (who has time for that?). It would have been a total Hoosiers moment if we had kept that game even close. David and Goliath.

So, while focusing on basics and trying our very best to prepare and win, why don't we make up some insane new crazy fun plays that don't follow the rules of normal football and practice them in the dead of night? It couldn't hurt any and it might just be FUN.

Why don't we get shirts made that say: 

We might not be #1,
but our cheerleaders 
are all 10's.

or
 
Our football season: 4-5.
Volleyball: 6-18.
Our average ACT score: 28. 
Winning.
 

(Gosh, I love smack talk.)

Maybe we ought to laugh and encourage one another and just get over it--it can't be that serious since we haven't had a winning season in volleyball in the four years I've been at the school. Maybe it ought to be a FUN season. If we love it, and we listen to coaching and apply what we've been taught, maybe it will be fun and the natural consequence will be wins. Maybe. If not, well, them's the breaks, Baby.

Why don't we strive to be the most Christ-like teams instead of the most winning teams? Then I can get a shirt that says:

You only won because God
ordained it. That's why we took
it easy on you; we always seek to 
do God's Will at CCA.
Just sayin'.

And in other news, The Little Flower just rushed in here to proclaim that she finally beat the final level in Plants Vs. Zombies. Put that on a T-Shirt and wear it.



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pray Anyway

We had a hard day in Johnsonville a couple of weeks ago. Carter's yard dog was struck by a car. She was crossing to greet a family friend who was exercising, walking down the road.

My son was devastated. What made it truly awful is that the dog went into the woods and we didn't find out until after dark when we were unable to see or do anything about it. So, Lexi lay in the woods hurt, alone, and afraid.

This was Carter's dog. Not the family dog, but his friend. His buddy. His walking/riding companion. He'd spent countless hours teaching her tricks and throwing the ball and playing keep-a-way. We went to the park and ball games. She buried a million milk bones in the yard and chased off anything that would run away. She was gentle and kind and the Church Dog, walking car to car waiting to greet everyone who pulled into park.

So, after walking the property for almost two hours, we did the only thing that we could: we prayed. We prayed for comfort for Carter. We prayed for Lexi to be okay and to come home on her own. We prayed that her injuries were repairable. We prayed for God to do what was beyond our ability.

And in the morning...we were greeted with a minor miracle. Lexi, on the back porch, sitting on the sofa, tail wagging. She was obviously hurt, but not fatally. The Husband and the Number One Son took her to the vet and she's just fine.

Sometimes we assume we know the outcome and don't pray because we just "know" what the answer is going to be. We think that there is no hope. When I ran out on our porch and wiped the cobwebs off of that stupid dog where she'd crawled under someone's house also thinking herself that she was dead, I was reminded that there is hope still even when we can't see it. And God is listening, even to the small prayers, because to me it was small, but to Carter it was enormous. I care for Carter and want to meet his needs and wants, but how much more does our Heavenly Father desire our good? Infinitely. So, remember to pray even when you "know" the outcome. Maybe God has a different plan!