Why we have so many balls and books.

Two weeks ago I came to have  bit of a breakdown. The month of February was a busy and the tasks, roles, sickness of family members, volume of children noise, and pent up winter energy in our, “yes-it’s a bigger, but our kids are bigger too”, house, took me very literally, to my knees. In tears and through prayers, I picked myself and my life back up.

Adjustments needed to be made both in how I built my days and funneled my expectations and frustrations, as well as in how my kids channeled their energy and exercised their listening skills and obedience avenues.

We went back to the drawing board and chalked it up to progress. IMG_4933

With the Farmers insurance theme song in mind, we sought to define our values and actions:

“Dum, dum, dum dum dum- We are Osbornes!”

I started the list with intentional language about how we try, respect, and act. The kids had buy-in along the way and added their own ideas, some in their own handwriting.

To direct our hearts, heads and hands, we intend to: *denotes kid specific contribution

  • love lots
  • respect adults
  • respect kids
  • forgive
  • try our best
  • always do the right thing* (helpful to have this song in our heads often)
  • do jobs ALL the way
  • PLAY!
  • tell the truth*
  • DANCE and Jam
  • SING
  • try hard *
  • read
  • meet people*
  • share*
  • help*
  • Be nice*
  • be silly*
  • do adventures

The list is long but inherent- some are extra tasks but most are ways of being as we do any task. We listed human behaviors that good, kind, responsible, respectful people can do and be in all of their ways and days. I share it with you as accountability for where we’re headed, and as an invitation for what you might tweak in your own spirit as the season moves towards spring and starting over.

What are we about? What defines our direction in daily life and big decisions? 

With a direction in mind, we have a couple staples in our team tool box. Who you are mandates certain possessions.

Right now, and pretty much for the whole of our life since 2006 (Eli’s birth), we have possessed books and balls. 

We read to our kids early and often as babies.  By extension, our rocking chair and footstool, the reading seat, is our favorite piece of furniture.

For the past 4 years, we’ve taken to getting gobs of library books at a time.

I learned from my friend Jessica who used to work at the library, there is no limit and that the library will still have books for other kids, even if you take a bunch home to your kids. My mind was blown when I saw 34 books lined up on her fireplace. Blown both because the books were in a nice straight line, and because of the sheer number.

My library account currently reads: 55 checkouts, 5 holds ready for pick up, and $0.00 in fines.

Eli, Andi and Oaks love to read. They enjoy trips to the library to pick out new books, finding new installments of favorite series, or digging up a whole new non-fiction book based on current interests (right now, for Eli, it’s disasters and tragedies. Ask him about the molasses flood or children’s blizzard in 1818.) Andi made the shift to chapter books a few months ago so the whole right half of the library is now open for her reading pleasure! Oakley spends quality quiet time by himself flipping the pages of picture books or sitting on my lap and listening to stories read aloud. He has even memorized a whole board book so he can recite it now…reading “all on his own.”

When we come home after library days, reusable bag bursting at the seams, the house falls quiet for an hour and a half. They absorb the new books, sort through them, finish a whole one, and scatter them around the family room.

We read books before school, before bed, in the car, in the bathtub, while waiting somewhere, behind the couch, on the floor, on our own, or all together. Books give us information, entertainment, and time together. The library is our favorite use of government resources and a gift for which we are very thankful.


Current kid stash on “library shelf”- just organized so we can walk through the family room to the garage now.

Beyond books, we have lots and lots of balls! Our ball bucket boasts:

  • old and new balls
  • foam favorites each with a bite out of the end (infant Andi loved biting!)
  • lacrosse for Crossfit muscle rubbing
  • plastic golf balls
  • bouncy balls and super bouncy ones
  • tennis balls a-plenty
  • the “Hover ball” from a TV ad that doesn’t deliver
  • foam baseballs for indoor play
  • one small hand sized football
  • one small foot sized soccer ball
  • colorful balls that used to go to toys we no longer have
  • marbles (if you can classify these as balls- Oaks is into them currently)
  • one of those balls covered in bumps
  • a plush soccer ball from Aunt Nat
  • Nerf balls
  • rubber basketballs for shooting hoops- Oaks does daily practice
  • balloons that count as balls for indoor tennis (a genius GG invention!)
  • and more

We use balls in our family room, living room, down Hot Wheel tracks, for indoor ball games, for throwing with and at siblings, for whacking with a golf club, and for the sheer joy of having a bucket that’s best unloaded- scattered balls begged to be tossed back in!

Balls are key to our kid raising, and I wager they apply to your adult sanity as well. If you have a ball with you, you can make fun happen or stress alleviate. Throwing and catching a ball behind your desk, catch as a background for a deeper conversation, or to invite or share in a game or play with others, moves your body and mind in sync. I try to have one in the car and on every level of the house at all times. Where do you need a stash?

Regardless of our adherence to the list of intentions, as a family, we are making our mark on each other and the world. Hopefully, whenever we set out in our van, or stay in with our selves, we will be better for having read, tossed a shot in the hoop, and loved.

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