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New RG Record and Slugs and Bugs Blog

July 23rd, 2010

For those who have inquired, I’m definitely still doing Randall Goodgame shows. In fact, I’m recording a new project with all new material in a few weeks. However, I have been truly inspired over the past year as I have begun to develop the Slugs and Bugs brand with a tour, new songs, and an active presence on facebook and twitter. Creatively, delving deep into the head space required to consistently create art for kids has been richly rewarding, and consistently hilarious. And I while I have not been here, I have been over at www.slugsandbugs.com writing about that and other kid-related stuff… (a lot of parenting stuff). Click here and it will electronically transport you there.

I’ve now written enough Slugs and Bugs songs to fill up the Christmas record (coming soon) and a follow-up to Slugs and Bugs and Lullabies, but because of the greatness that is the brite revolution, my very next project will be a live recording of all my newest RG material, (including the song I sang at the Ryman last Christmas, With Jesus). I have been collaborating significantly with the great Jason Eskridge, and I can’t wait for you to hear him on these tunes.

So, shoot me an email (click on that big box in the top left corner) if you want to find out about booking a show, either RG or S&B. I’m having a ton of fun either way.

Ben at 3 months

March 1st, 2010

Yesterday, February 28th, marks three months in Tennessee with our son, Ben. My dad and I brought him home from Ethiopia on November 28th, 2009.

Yesterday also turned out to be a milestone day in a few other ways as well. I planned to take the three kids to church while Amy stayed home and worked on the taxes (so much for sabbath rest). The day began when our friend Jamie Peterson called and offered to take all 3 kids to hang at their place after church.

Now, we have a pretty great back yard, with a creek and bamboo everywhere, but the Petersons have a stinking outdoor extravaganza, with an enormous hill that falls into a forest with a zipline tucked away down one of the trails. My kids LOVE hanging with their kids, and oh yeah, inside they’ve got this newfangled electronic contraption they call “Wii.”

The snow in Nashville has melted, Sunday was indeed sunny, and needless to say, our two oldest, Livi and Jonah, were jumping at the chance to escape the “laundry party” we had planned for after church. But Ben? He’s only 2. Surely he can’t go. That’d be too much for Jamie, and besides, he takes a nap every day at 1:00! But I saw Jamie at church and she was completely unafraid of no-nap Ben, and again suggested that she take all 3 kids. I called Amy.

Meanwhile, Ben was also having his first solo-Sunday school experience. I lifted him over the guard-fence thing and he slipped right into the lap of one of the (very sweet) volunteers. It probably helped that it was snack time. Ben really likes to eat.

For at least 20 minutes, I hung back away from view and Ben played with blocks and cars alongside the other kids, and it wasn’t until he heard my voice around the corner (talking to Amy on the phone) that he started to get upset. I went and got him and after a few minutes he actually wanted to go back and finish playing! It was the greatest.

In the end, Amy and I were so intoxicated by the idea of a quiet Sunday afternoon, and Jamie had offered the perfect scenario for us to see how Ben would do away from mom and dad. He’s had grandparent babysitters before, but he’d never gone to “a friend’s house…” and he did GREAT! We showed up 5 hours later and the kids had all had a great time together between the forest, the clubhouse, legos and the Wii. Oh, and Jamie said she wasn’t sure how many apples Ben ate, but it was a lot. And he had a full plate of spaghetti, and he decided that the bowl of pretzels Jamie left out for everyone was just for him.

But I digress. After 3 months, all in all, I’d say our our two biggest questions have faded into irrelevance. The first was, “How is Ben going to do?” And he is doing amazing. He is fun and happy and snuggly and so pleased to be Ben, he is a joy to be around. The other question was, “How will Livi and Jonah do?” And we are humbled by their unquestioned acceptance and love for him. Now, he is 2, and he drives Jonah nuts when he keeps messing with the buttons on the tape player as they’re listening to Harry Potter. And he stole some chocolates out of the heart-shaped box a boy gave Livi for Valentines day (I told her not to leave her door open). But that all seems pretty normal, and they seem to get that too. We are so thankful.

The picture below is from a recent trip to Krispy Kreme. Sometimes everybody just needs a doughnut. I think Ben would say, all times everybody needs a doughnut.


My hands are so tasty!

Code Words

February 23rd, 2010

I don’t know about your kids, but from time to time mine will play too rough with one another. I suggested to my 2 older kids, Livi and Jonah, that they come up with a code word that they could say when someone had crossed the line. Upon the uttering of the code word, all play had to stop immediately until everything was deemed cool.

They immediately started thinking of words that were silly and made them laugh, like “sticky bottom” or “booger brains,” but after a few trial runs, those code words proved ineffective due to their silliness. So I told them to try and think of a word that was boring so they wouldn’t be distracted from the point of the word. The code word they chose… the most boring thing they could think of… “white paper.”

That is brilliant, and hilarious.

Now, from time to time, I’ll hear the two older kids arguing,

Stop it! I said “white paper!”

I didn’t hear you!


And it makes me giggle.

Ben at 6 weeks home

January 10th, 2010

The last 4 nights, Ben has slept through the night. Let’s start there.

For the first month, he needed to be on top of Amy or me in the bed in order to fall asleep. If he caught us trying to escape he would rocket into a panic attack, and if we got out undetected, he still woke up 2 or three times a night and one of us would have to run get in the bed and calm him down and get him to sleep again. Then, two weeks ago we changed it up. I still read and snuggle with him for a bit, but then I get out of Ben’s bed and into Jonah’s (yet unoccupied) bed and stay there till he falls asleep. So far, so good. We can now begin to imagine a day when we can kiss both boys goodnight and leave the room without incident.

Also, Ben saw his first snow last week. A few inches of snow fell and stuck on Nashville, schools were closed for 2 days, and we hunkered down, built fires and took short excursions out into the powdery white stuff. Ben wanted to get down in the frozen creek with Livi and Jonah, but it’s pretty treacherous down there, and the temperature lingered between 10 and 15 degrees, so I never had to do much convincing to get him back inside. MAN that’s cold.

Sibling-hood fits Ben like a glove. He absolutely loves his brother and sister, and gets super excited when they play with him – usually some form of chase or peek-a-boo or tickle. If either Jonah or Livi gets upset about anything, Ben will find random toys around the house and bring them over in an attempt to console them. They are all quite capable of annoying one another, but it is far more common for them to enjoy each other. I should also add that, amazingly, Ben does not mess with Jonah’s Legos – even if they are all spread out in front of him. He has figured out that Jonah is quite protective about them and pretty much stays clear of them. Now, the light-up light saber, on the other hand… Jonah has pretty much ceded authority over the light saber to Ben. And Ben just walks slowly around the house with it pointing up and glowing blue, or red.

Whenever we are in town but don’t go to church, we do home church. It usually consists of some songs and prayers at the beginning and end, and a chapter from the Jesus Storybook Bible in the middle. Ben has done very well staying on the couch and hanging with Amy and the kids while I lead us through it (though last week Amy led the singing on her little parlor guitar). Ben’s current favorite song is “This is the Day That the Lord Has Made.” He sings it with his stilted 2 year old English, and it’s like he’s a walking devotional. I don’t care what is frustrating your day, if you heard this little guy spontaneously break out into “Dis iss sa day,” and “ah will rejos” It would lighten your burdens, if only for a moment.

And speaking of English, I couldn’t possibly recount all he has learned. He soaks up everything we say and repeats it like a parrot. Amy is great about getting him to learn a word instead of grunt or whine for something, and he learns the stuff as fast as we can teach it. Mama, Daddy, Livi, Jonah, doggy, car, all the parts of the face, blanket, star, giraffe, elephant, turtle, some more, please, thank you, eggs, apple, orange, banana, cookie, come, hat, snow, ice, water, milk, cup, diaper, wipes, socks, shoes, shirt, pants, sunglasses, jacket, and he has been connecting words for a couple of weeks, like… Ben’s neck, or Mama’s cup, or bye-bye eggs, when breakfast is over. That’s probably a tenth of what he says… but those are some prominent words that come to mind.

Just this evening, we were marveling at how much has happened over the last 6 weeks, and just like the older two, before long, we won’t remember what it was like without him.

Milestones – The Car Seat

December 30th, 2009

So we’ve had Benjamin here for a little over a month. He’s almost two and a half. There are so many people that I want to share his stories with, but there’s not enough time in the day!  For now, blogs will have to do.  The first milestone I’d like to share is regarding the car seat. Specifically, the 5 point harness we’ve all come to loathe and love.

On the long flight home from Addis Ababa, the mandatory seatbelts repeatedly traumatized my son.  We are talking Defcon 9, Code Magma, duck and cover meltdowns every time an attendant insisted that we make it click. Many times my dad and I covered Benjamin’s lap with a blanket – but some crafty airline veterans were wise to our wily ways.  During our final flight from Charlotte to Nashville, the first attendant said that USAir didn’t care about the screaming, only that we comply with FAA regulations.  Mercifully, a second attendant stepped over about 5 minutes into the flight and told me I could hold him in my lap.  Either she was an angel, or her ears were bleeding from the ring-wraith style screams reverberating through the tiny plane.  I really can’t overstate how much the little guy did not like seatbelts.

After the incredibly awesome uniting-family moment that Sunday night (which I’ll try to write about later), we made it to the mini-van and did not attempt a car seat.  Ben rode contentedly in my lap. On Tuesday, we took him to the doctor and he sat in my lap, but I slipped one bit of the belt over one of his feet – just to get him thinking about it. He knew what I was up to and hollered most of the way there, though a lollipop seemed to curb his enthusiasm for volume.  I did the same thing on the drive home, but the hollering only lasted for a few minutes.  Sooner than we expected, he was distracted by the traffic and trees zooming by and Amy and I rejoiced in pantomime over his progress.

The next day I brought the car seat into the house, and with it introduced the mind-melding elixir know as the DVD player. Baby Einstein brought the mojo, and by Thursday he was asking to be strapped in the car seat so he could get his 30 minute fix for the day! In the interest of full disclosure we do have a 60 inch wide-screen TV (it was a gift). Smaller screens may not have the same rate of hypnosis. Side effects very.

Drum roll please… by Friday, in less than one week, Ben rode to the doctor in the mini-van, happily strapped in to the 5 point harness!! It really did seem like a miracle.  And I would be remiss if I did not brag about our recent trip to visit Amy’s mom in Tuscaloosa (roll tide).  That’s 4 hours of harness each way, and with only one meltdown to speak of, I’d say Benjamin has already come a long way in more ways than one.

Thanks for scrolling by.  I think for the next milestone I’ll try to list all the English words he’s learned in the first 5 weeks.  It’s incredible!  See ya later.

It’s A Boy!

December 16th, 2009

Well, we knew it would be, but it’s still fun to say.

On November 21st, 2009 I flew to Ethiopia with my father, Tom Goodgame.  He slept or watched Julie and Julia with the new ear buds I got him while I wrote in my journal and read What is the What by Dave Eggers or listened to Don Miller’s new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Days.  After 20 hours of travel, we landed in Addis Ababa, found our guide (it was like a scavenger hunt) and wound our way through dusty streets to The Guest House.

Just inside, were greeted by other adopting families, most of whom had been there for a few days already.   Our bags were heavy laden with the maximum allowable weight of baby wipes (for the orphanage), so we were thankful for the porters who carried them up the four flights of stairs to our suite.

The next day was Monday.  Adopting parents call it “meetcha day” because it’s the day we first meet our new kids.  The following day is “gotcha day,” because then we’ve got them for good.  Wednesday we made everything official at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Thursday we hung out, played with ballons, and and got to know the kids a little more (for us, that was Thanksgiving day, made more potent than usual), and then Friday we left Addis for a gas-up in Rome and then it was on to D.C. and the good old U.S. of A.  That return trip with my dad and Ben was maybe the most difficult 30 hours of my life so far, but I’ll be telling the stories for as long as I live.

My son is Benjamin Tesfahun Goodgame.  He is about 2 and a half, and he is adjusting incredibly well.  That is to say, it has been really, really hard – but not near as hard as it could be. Ben is an amazing kid, but what kid isn’t, really? We are just so thankful to have him.

The last time I took a trip to Africa, I chronicled the events in a blog as I remembered them happening.  This time around, I’m just going to try to write something new every few days or so – either about what is happening now or stories I remember from the trip.  The daily happenings are plentiful enough, with one toddler getting used to a whole new planet, two older kids getting used to a new little brother, and a married couple steering blindly through the night on a song and a prayer.

Why I Play in Churches

November 18th, 2009

When I moved to Nashville, I played clubs and bars.  I didn’t have any songs about Jesus, and I opened for bands like Sister Hazel and Lisa Loeb.  When I met Mitch Dane (the producer of Arkadelphia, and now a dear friend), he suggested I play in churches.  Honestly, I was 23, and the thought had never occurred to me.  I didn’t know anyone who played music in churches, and images of the Gaither Vocal Band danced in my head and I thought he was crazy.  But I got one church gig, and then another, and soon I found myself touring the country opening for Andrew Peterson (now a dear friend and creative cohort) and then Caedmon’s Call, who then invited  me into their creative process as a songwriter.

Along the way I wrote some Jesus songs of my own, and I developed a deep love and passion for for the church.  I saw how God was using my gifts for his glory in a unique way, and that has helped shape my mission.   Now I play  mostly in churches with a mix of songs that hope to reflect a broad and true picture of life. Folk and roots music has always revealed truth through singing stories.  And these days I think of myself as a folk singer for the church.  Even the kids music that I write has a folky flare, but they don’t seem to mind… everybody knows that kids love stories.

If God were not invisible, I might play anywhere.  But I almost always
sing at least a few songs about Jesus in my set, and that can make un-churched (or over-churched) people nervous, with his personal claim on truth, and with God being invisible and all.  Then again, if we could see him,  it might
make us all jump in our jammies and hide under the covers.