March madness!

Combine Memory Master crunch time, the homestretch of CC community, socializing galore, planning for a late March vacation to Florida, and dealing with day-to-day routine, obligations, and shenanigans; and then throw primary politics on top of it all, well, that is some pure madness for sure!

Gabriel & Bella show off for the camera, while Zeke, Houston, & Bret weigh down the other side of the spinny thing to ensure the fastest whirls & rotations as possible. Spur-of-the-moment park dates w/ Miss Tricia are the best!

So, CC community wraps up this coming Tuesday. Even though we zany Dillinghams school year round, this is always a huge reason to celebrate more spare time and six months of hard work under our collective belts, plus, Houston tackling Memory Master.

That child has been super-motivated achieving this academic feat (24 weeks of material for seven subjects) and, thus, has become truly proficient with the information. There were times over the course of these two semesters that I wanted to slack, but Houston always remained focused.

It has been a team effort, though. Gabriel and Zeke helped quiz Houston a ton, which, in turn, helped them with their weekly CC memory work. I think I succeeded at coming up with clever ways to review, as to keep things interesting and fresh and keeping him on target. And even Daddy got into the mix when he could.

The 3 Amigos get silly with their buddy, Josh, during Dress Like a Friend Day @ CC. We love our homeschool community!

Houston is two proofs down: one with me and the other with my pal, Adair. And then tomorrow, he does his final full proof of all 24 week’s worth of memory work (400-plus pieces of information) with his CC tutor, Mrs. Bach.

Then Houston will have his final proof with the CC director on March 31, but this test is only a quickie review of the material, aimed at illustrating that the student has true mastery of the knowledge and isn’t simply regurgitating soundbites. He’s got it made in the shade!

“Moms, don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.” — Lysa Terkeurst

All this studiousness is the reason why we’re treating ourselves to two fun-filled days at Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte with some of our favorite CC families, as well as Granny. However, there was actually some doubt for a while as to whether or not we would go due to some aforementioned and intermittent misbehavior by the boys.

After a trip to Build-A-Bear, backyard silly-string battles were the perfect way to round out the festivities @ Tyrnan’s 8th birthday party.

Stephen and I went back and forth about it, until Adair finally convinced me that this parental crossroads could prove to be a valuable lesson in radical grace. “None of us deserves Great Wolf Lodge,” she said with a matter-of-fact smile.

“We all deserve Hell, and ‘our righteous acts are like filthy rags,'” she continued, calmly invoking the prophet Isaiah. “But let’s go have some fun instead!”

There is such a strength and peace to this Biblical truth, so that’s exactly what Stephen and I opted to do: give grace big because that’s what God did for us through Jesus! I’m so thankful to have incredible friends like Adair keeping me accountable to the Word while also encouraging me to lighten up when necessary. Appreciate it, sister!

While most other kids are sitting still in their school desks, the CC boys rock it out @ the park.  Homeschool homies from L to R: Zeke, Josh, Matthew, Tanner, Tyrnan, Gabriel, & Will.

I admit that I need to be a glass-half-full kinda gal more regularly, although I think I have a pretty optimistic temperament generally. Yet sometimes in the thick of it all, it’s so easy to get down. I suppose the appropriate Christian-ese diagnosis would be that I dabble in a bit of “back-sliding” every now and again.

“Backsliding, also known as falling away, is … a process by which an individual who has converted to Christianity reverts to pre-conversion habits &/or lapses or falls into sin, when a person turns from God to pursue their own desire.” — Wikipedia

Parenting is grueling but godly work, true. We are, after all, in a battle with Satan for the hearts, minds, and souls of our kids. But consistent obedience to God is ephemeral at best because of our sin nature. And woe-as-me selfishness inflicts even the most authentic and mature of Christ followers.

Still, pity parties do no one any good. So, I’m praying that I focus way more on all that is right and a lot less on the insignificant annoyances that sometimes go so overwhelmingly wrong, which I’ve dubbed “the freight train.” With Jesus as my conductor, I’m sure to get back on track.

I do believe a week of Florida sunshine just relaxing with and relishing in my peeps will also help ground me and give me perspective on this truly blessed life I lead: from those filthy rags to such unending riches of being clothed in God’s love and grace. Profoundly awesome indeed. Thank you, Lord, for so many second chances!

Here’s Aunt Lisa *literally* picking on the 3 Amigos during our quickie visit to Danville for dinner & giggles. It’s always a good thing to catch up with my big sis!

Another thing that has been lending itself to my occasional gloominess is primary politics. After all, if you’re reading this, you know for yourself how divisive, illogical, and insane this presidential campaign season has been. Sheesh.

It’s frankly appalling that so many Americans are actively trying to silence people’s right to expression simply because they disagree. Blocking traffic to rallies. Punching supporters. Attacking cops. Slandering citizens and spewing lies in the name of fighting supposed “hate speech.”

If you didn’t already realize that we live under a totalitarian system run by politically correct zealots, I guess that’s obvious now. Anti-liberty mobs are running amok, while the apparatchik media blames the violence on its victims and the desperate oligarchs gleefully foster the hate. Sick.

Just another satisfied customer: Stephen does his “civic duty” on NC primary day, but only after deciding who to vote for via impersonal Facebook survey. Luckily, Trump won out over Sanders, but just by a single vote. Whew.

I had to take a Facebook break for a while because people’s sheer ignorance of politics, history, and our republican form of government was making me want to say very un-Christian things to people I like. I mean, one shouldn’t consume mainstream campaign news for a month and then act like a political guru. That’s silliness.

And just because I love Jesus doesn’t mean that I’m willing to suspend all reality or ignore facts or check truth at the door, for goodness sake. Sometimes a calm, but persistent rabble rouser is just what the world needs.

Moreover, news junkies like me can’t be fooled by Megan Kelly or David Brooks or social-media memes or neocon henchmen or academic elites. It’s even worse when Christians who typically don’t dirty their hands with the worldliness of politics (except for gay marriage and abortion, of course) start the finger-wagging and lecturing. Ugh.

This ultra-cool neighborhood posse (clockwise from top left: Matthew, Crystal, Gavin, Nick 2, Gabriel, Zeke, Nick 1, Jacob, & Houston) has more maturity & commonsense than does most of the American electorate. Seriously.

Trump = Bad, even kinda anti-Christ. But guy who quotes the Bible in support of never-ending taxation = Just fine and dandy. Or guy who claims he wants to save unborn white and black babies here has no qualms about killing brown babies by drone and/or illegal war abroad = No problems there. For real? Just stick to the Gospel, y’all.

Puh-leez! Where were all you people when Ron Paul was running for president in 2012? You “for the sake of the party” stooges would rather support yet another socialism-lite establishment candidate than really strike at the heart of the shadow government and the leviathan that oversees its proliferation.

Paul’s platform was freedom, family, live and let live, non-interventionism, putting abortion back in the hands of the States where it should be (just like murder is not federal law), getting government out of the marriage biz altogether, and slashing regulation and auditing the fed, so that folks could have greater control over their income and savings.

CC buddy, Joel, & Houston soak in the afternoon sunshine after a hard day’s work @ homeschool community. You give me hope for the future, fellas!

And I sure won’t be bullied into voting for a turncoat big-government Republican, a warfare-worshipping chick, or an outright socialist simply by being pegged a sexist, racist, or xenophobe. Words have meanings, and just because some people throw them about willy nilly for political purposes doesn’t denote a change in definition.

Funny thing is that I’m a person who has come to think that the electoral process is a sham, so I wasn’t even going to vote, that is, till the hateful social-justice warriors and their minions in the media told me who I’d better damn well not support.

Yeah, it’s like how all the anti-smoking fanatics make me wanna buy a carton of Marlboros and blaze up. Same thing with the coercive thought-controllers and speech-police authoritarians. I hope my Trump vote triggered the hell out of them. Grrrrr.

A little blurry, but maybe that’s a good thing since the dude’s in a weenie bikini. Still, Houston, Gabe, & Matthew are psyched to hang w/ one of the wrestling heroes of the night.

Now that I got all that off my chest, let’s end on a positive note: The 3 Amigos had another piano party in February, but Gabriel and Zeke are just itching to have their first recital. Hopefully, that’ll happen in the spring for my proud piano-playing dudes.

Stephen took the boys and Matthew to AML pro wrestling for a testosterone-filled good time sans the mamas. Many punches, kicks, drops, and stomps have been attempted since then.

Houston is playing competitive baseball, with tryouts and everything. (The twins weren’t interested this year.) There haven’t been any games yet, but Stephen says his skills are advancing quickly. Plus, we’re all ready for some daggone scorekeeping and trophies for the winners only!

Gavin, Houston, & Zeke refill their “ammo” in preparation for battle w/ the enemy (Gabriel, Nick 2, & Jacob) during the first backyard water war of 2016.

My cool neighbor, Jessica, had a Sunday evening party in early March. It was a total blast! Not only did the kids get to hang with some of their best buds, but Stephen and I were able to get much better acquainted with some of our closest neighbors. That’s just the power of margaritas, wine, beer, and cigars!

Jessica and I have become fast friends, having had a couple “mom/booze dates” to celebrate the hard work of rearing dudes. All of our neighbors are cool, but the two of us have hit it off. Probably doesn’t hurt that we’re both writers, slight potty mouths, boy moms, with have twisted senses of humor.

Also, we finally had our friends Tricia and Jeremy (and their sweet kids, Bret and Bella) over to our house for a much-overdue occasion of chilling out and getting to know each other better. Interestingly, this fine night also included wine, beer, and cigars, as well as bourbon, brisket, and riveting political conversation.

Tricia and Jeremy are spiritually mature and very knowledgeable in their faith, informed citizens, open-minded debaters, and interesting individuals all around. So glad we’re growing our relationship with such fine folks as them, as well as many other wonderful people that we’re blessed to now call “friends.” Yay!