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.





When My Last Baby Turned 4

Educational Games for 2-8 Year Olds

When My Last Baby Turned 4

John David, enjoying a birthday cupcake

This summer my baby, John David, turned FOUR. He was quite pleased with himself.

Was I sad that my last baby is not so much a baby anymore? Well, no, not really because I have babied the stew out of him. Basically, he still looks like a baby to me, so it hasn’t hit me yet.

It was completely different when my oldest child, 7 years ago, turned 4 years old.

I wasn’t the least bit sad. I was ecstatic!! For some reason, I saw 4 as this magical hump of parenting where Joshua was going to magically be a big kid.

The push was on. Joshua was constantly pushed towards independence and accomplishments. Soccer team started at age 3. T-ball started the minute he was old enough to participate. He was drilled on academics constantly, and we read him about 15 books/day, not even exaggerating.

I would say things to him like, “Joshua, watch Caleb for a minute while I go in yonder. You’re in charge.”

Even at the time, I knew Joshua wasn’t able to help me with Caleb much. That’s just what I said, and yet, he did seem to actually help with Caleb (who is only 20 months younger than Joshua).

When Joshua would want to be carried or babied, I didn’t understand at all. Wasn’t he supposed to be more grown up? He was my biggest, my oldest, and I had little patience for much shenanigans. Walk child, walk.

Well, you may be feeling sorry for that first-born 4-year-old, and I do too in hindsight, but don’t spend too much time on it.

He’s doing swell. He is now the kind of pre-teen who is confident enough to go into the gas station, escorting a little brother, and pick out a drink and pay for it. When we lived on base, he could even ride his bike to the mini-mart, buy bread for me, and bring it home.

He can make his own meals, so long as it just involves the microwave or an apple core-er, and he can fix his brothers’ meals too.

It is pretty awesome to have that (sometimes) responsible, independent oldest son. Plus, he looks about 13, so no one ever questions his competence level to do these things. It’s working out well so far– no permanent damage done, hopefully.

And John David is sort of the opposite…..

I don’t push at all. Nope not at all. I still put his socks and shoes on him, “wipe him up”, and he never has to “keep his brother out of trouble” because he has no little brother.

He is my little velcro to the side of my leg, and I eat it up. And he eats it up. No one seems to question the fact that this is my giant baby.

But you know what? He’s going to be fine too. I’m sure of it.

He can put his shoes on himself when he wants to, and he wipes before I wipe. Mostly, I’ve let him lead on these steps—except I did have to resort to bribery “rewards” for the wiping.


JD loved staying in hotels so much this summer. He keeps asking me when we get to go sleep in a hotel bed again.

Don’t despair. This 4-year-old has many talents too.

John David is a fast learner. He can color for hours without getting tired of it. JD knows all of his letters and the sounds they make. Oh! And he loves helping me with chores!! You gotta love that!!!

Yes, I’ve babied him, but I’m hoping all will turn out well. He does know about love, discipline, and consequences. He’s super sweet and is always doing kind things for his momma.

In fact, he often prays at night, “Thank you for Mom. Thank you for Mom. Thank you for Mom.”

I’m such a sucker for that.



John David still often cuddles up in my lap and sleeps. I love it. I’m holding on to that as long as I can.


A few weeks ago, John David started K4. He was hesitant, but he went. Then they started morning drop-off for the 4-year-olds.

I pulled up to the curb where 2 pre-school teachers, and thankfully JD knows both of them, were standing to assist the 4-year-olds in getting out of their car and into the building. John David didn’t fully grasp what was going on, so he got out. They walked him to the building, and he had to walk to his classroom by himself.

The next day I pulled back up to the curb, and John David quickly entered panic-mode.

“What! No, Mom, you walk me in. You walk me in. You walk me in.” John David repeated over and over as he backed away into a corner as far as could get from the teachers and the open van door.

Time to throw in the proverbial towel.

“Got it. Ok. I got it. I’ll walk him in. I’ll walk him in. JD, sit back down in your seat, and we’ll park, and I’ll walk you in.”

I asked John David later on if he had been scared walking to class by himself that day. He looked at me with the most pitiful face, and with a shaky little voice, nodded and whispered, “I almost cried.”

Well, that did it for me. I decided right then and there that this child will be personally escorted to his K-4 classroom every single day until he asks me himself to do otherwise!!

a brotherly hug at a cousin’s wedding

See how clingy he is? Bless.

Yes, we carried him around in Washington, D.C. too.

I promise we carried our other 4-year-olds around a little bit too.

When Joshua was 4, and Caleb was 2. Joshua didn’t get carried as much since we had to carry the 35 pound 2-year-old… (Washington, D.C., 2010)


But man! They were precious too!! (D.C. Smithsonian Native American Museum, 2010)

When Caleb was 4, and Daniel was around 6 months

When Daniel was 4, Caleb was 7, and we took them to the San Diego Zoo

Yes, we are more relaxed with our youngest child, but not more lenient. I think we might even be more strict, just less worried about him doing what he’s “supposed to do”. As long as he’s obeying and being respectful, we’re good, and that’s a work in progress for ALL of us.

Okay. Well, we do let him sit on the table to paint and build Lego creations, so maybe we are more lenient in all areas except the ones above, which we deem as most important.

And yes, we bought him 5 Batman t-shirts and let him wear only Batman shirts every single day for a YEAR……

Is that so bad? Nah. I’m going with no.

Four is an awesome age. We are so lucky to get to do it one more time!




P.S. The year of Batman is over. He has informed us that he wants no more Batman toys, books, or shirts. He only wants Ninjago stuff now, because all obsessive people occasionally need something NEW to obsess over…let’s move on to ninjas.



Educational Games for 2-8 Year Olds









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