Funny Fridays: Taking 6 Kids to an Art Museum & Other Stories

At the Smithsonian National Museum of Art

When we went to D.C. this summer, I insisted we go and visit my favorite painting in the world, which happens to be at the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall. While we were there, we perused the collections, along with our friend Amy and her children.

I thought the day was going amazingly well. We took 6 kids through a museum where you are supposed to be quiet, and I felt like we did a heroic job. The kids even sat on these nice sofas they had in many of the galleries.

After about an hour, Alan whispered emphatically, with the big eyes,  “Are you ready to go now? Please.”

“Sure…. C’mon kids, let’s go.”

Once outside, Alan looked like he’d just escaped prison.

Alan had a much different experience in the Smithsonian than I had.

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When Your Oxen (I Mean Kids) Are Messing Up Your House

My coffee table is covered in children’s books, a box of Legos, my Bibles, a box of crayons, a sippy cup, and ALL the little Lego men that I swept out from under the couch this morning.

There’s also a few preschool crafts and the remote control to the t.v.

Then there’s the center piece, all buried in there. It’s supposed to be an ornate pedestal bowl of THREE ornamental balls, but of course someone broke one…..when they were using it as a bowling ball, I believe.

Most of my house is as cluttered as that little table. I won’t even bother lying and saying it’s just because we’ve been busy lately.

Busy lately? Ha! It’s been pretty high tempo since about 2011.

We, like most American parents, live a little overwhelmed, stressed, sleepy, tired, and yes, we’re busy lately.

I rushed home from volunteering in the library this morning (BEST job ever– I love it so much I have trouble making myself leave it). As soon as I pulled in the driveway, the LOWE’s people were here with our new dryer.

Only I was being thrifty and purchased a dented dryer, so I have to send it right back because the drum is rubbing the dent in the side, making quite a loud racket. Problem not solved…

I unloaded the dishes and made myself lunch, but I needed some words of comfort.

Words of encouragement go a great distance when life is an uphill climb.

Kindness I read from a blogger a few years ago came back to me as I sat in my favorite chair, staring at that cluttered up coffee table.

She’s a mom of five boys, but she doesn’t blog anymore. Still what she said is with me though, and her words were so wise…

4Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.     

 Proverbs 14:4

Julie (the blogger) said that this verse reminded her of her life. Her house is full of oxen, and so her stable is never clean, but look at all the glorious benefits of having a house full of children, 5 boys in her case.

Yes, people without……oxen……have tidier spaces. People with more OCD may also be better at it.

People with the tidy mangers even occasionally say hurtful things to us.

In the past four years, several folks have (surely unintentionally) hurt my feelings about my house. They didn’t get it.

 

 

Normal, right? No, it gets worse than this. I do have enough pride to not show you those pictures

 

But what is that to us?

Our life is richer thanks to these oxen. There’s not a parent worth having who would not agree that their children are their greatest blessing.

Sometimes I’m actually embarrassed to tell people about all my children because it feels like bragging, which we try not to do!! This glorious blessing is not something any of us take lightly.

Empty stalls are for retirement. No thanks. I’d rather have my coffee table full of toys and my arms full of hugs. An empty nest will be something to embrace later, and I’m sure by then I will be ready for it.

 

For today, It’s better to have…..

coloring books in my dining room than empty place settings

Clean school shirts to fold on my couch than tidy rooms with no inhabitants

Video games in front of the t.v. than knick-knacks collecting dust

baseball hats on my hall tree than empty hooks serving no purpose

dried toothpaste in the boys’ sink than a guest bathroom that’s rarely used.

 

We can only clean so many areas at once, ya know? You do your best.

These little souls, made in the image of God, are put in our care for a season. It is our most precious duty. There is none like it, the charge to guard and bring up your children, both flesh and blood and adopted.

Your house is the stable, and your kids are the oxen.

And yes, it’s a messy job, but what a privilege!! What a privilege to have a house cluttered with preschool art and marked with chubby handprints. Be still my heart.

Eventually we will all be older and in a newer, cleaner phase of life. We will think we are still so busy because it will be hard to remember all this that we are doing now.

Maybe we’ll even shout to the neighbor kids to keep off the grass. Oh, I hope that’s never me.

But for today, the manger is full, and from the strength of the oxen comes the abundance of the harvest, and I am thankful. I hope you are too.

 

 

 

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How we got banned from the library and my plan

I love to study. Sometimes it baffles me when children in this house do not share my desire to pour over books and take notes. I love it. This is what I do. It’s what I have done my whole life.

When JD, at 2 years old, would wake up in the morning, pull up a kitchen bar stool, and say, “Let’s study shapes, Mom!!” my heart would swell with pride. This is my boy.

When Joshua memorized all the species of whales at 3 years old, and checked out every single library book on badgers at 5, I knew that this apple was not falling far from the tree. (These days he memorizes sports statistics instead.)

By the end of my own kindergarten year, the library was my favorite place. It’s sad that all these years later we are banned from the library.

I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking it’s my kids’ fault, or my fault for not controlling my boys. But that wasn’t it at all. My boys love to go to the library, and while they are sometimes a little rambunctious, they have never actually caused any problems there.

It was me. I’m the reason.

In 2015, I paid $250 in library late fees, which included some fees left over from 2014.

In 2016, I paid ~$80 in library late fees, because I was trying harder and being more careful.

In Monterey, I could keep it under the radar. The librarians there were cool with us. Who doesn’t want the lady who donates $250 to the library?

But here in the South, I made the mistake, hefty mistake, of signing up for text alerts for when my books were due. I think the texts also went to the email account that I share with Alan, the same Alan who is very sensible with his money, maybe a little more sensible and organized than his wife…

Alan soon realized that I don’t bat an eye at returning a book a week overdue and continuing to use my library account.

I figure if the library lets me, I’ll just put it off until later, and they do always let me carry a balance. The library here is kind of far away, and I have trouble remembering where it is exactly and how to get there….

Poor Alan. The stress was too much. He was all calling the library to make sure we’d returned them all, going by there and paying all the late fees, and then he said it. He did.

“Can you please stop checking books out from the library?”

At least I think he said it. If he didn’t say it out loud, he was surely thinking it.

So I said it: “Okay. I know. I was wrong. I’m sorry. We will never check books out from the library again.”

I can be dramatic like that.

Alan was all, “Phew!!! Yes, I mean yes, obviously, you should not.”

Sigh.

And that was how we got banned from the library, and how I started shopping more at Book Fairs, Scholastic store online, and Amazon, so I’m not altogether sure we’re saving any money, but we do get to keep the books now…..which is actually sort of a storage problem.

And that is why the library is part of my New Year’s Resolution for 2017.

Yes, I’m aware that I didn’t actually make any New Year’s resolutions back in January, but I’m making one now. Right here, in the month of April, or as you might say MY MONTH.

I am getting my organizational act together!

I have actually been writing in and checking that planner that I bought. This is a BIG DEAL for me.

Every 2 to 3 years, we get completely uprooted, and I have to basically start life all over again, so maybe that helps you understand why I do not have the deeply engrained schedules that you may have. For a military wife, life changes drastically constantly. In 1 more year, we will probably move yet again.

Sometimes I’m guilty of feeling like why bother.

But you know what? I’ve got a lot of kids’ schedules to figure out now, and the older they get the more activities they have, and I’m going to have to get used to writing all this stuff down.

To be fair, it’s a lot of people to keep up with. 😉

So here’s my plan to lift the library ban.

  1. Look at my planner every single day.  I’m going to do that as soon as I finish this article.
  2. Take my planner with me, and write down each upcoming responsibility down on the calendar so I won’t forget.
  3. Check out 1 library book, write down the due date in the planner, and see if I can get it back to the library on time.
  4. If that works, I’m going to check out 2 books the next time!!!

 

So what about you guys? Have any of you ever paid $200 in library fees? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve also lost books and had to buy the library new ones. I didn’t feel like this made me a bad customer. I felt like it just made me a frequent flyer, and these things were inevitable. Right? I say yes.

Have a FUN weekend, y’all. Life’s too short to not.

“Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. ” Ecclesiastes 5:7

 

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests.   Psalm 20: 4-5

 

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