Friday, April 20, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Birthday Cakes, Not-So-Quiet Places, and Comedians With a Mission I can Totally Support

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


For some reason, Phillip bought an Echo a while back. I think it's because there was a Black Friday sale, and maybe also because the kids were looking for someone new to pester besides Siri.

Anyway, it currently sits on a counter it our kitchen and doesn't do much except field their constant requests to hear "There's a Cat Licking Your Birthday Cake."

Even the 1-year-old caught on, and now he goes into the kitchen and randomly yells, "'Lexa! Birfday cake!"

Luckily, it can't understand his voice. If it starts obeying him, one of us is going to have to move out: it's either Alexa or me. I can only listen to that song so many times.


My mom came from out-of-state to stay with us this week, but it hasn't exactly been the fun-filled spring break we planned, for two reasons.

One, because this visit is straight out of a 4th grade history lesson on the European settlers bringing disease to the New World. The whole family has been sick with fevers and stuffy head colds, but luckily it passes quickly and moves on to its next victim within 24-48 hours.

Second, because it's ridiculously cold for April and I've got no ideas of what to do. Everything indoors here is too expensive and crowded, so basically my version of cold-weather fun is to just hide inside until spring. Turns out that's kind of boring.


We took a short walk through the woods and down a seldom-used dirt road the other day. My kids were screaming and whooping joyfully as always, and I didn't give it a second thought until a police car came driving slowly through.

The officer was very nice. He said hello, asked how we were doing, and then made a U-turn and drove away. It dawned on me then that he'd probably been investigating a noise complaint.

Which means my children were (a) being so annoying someone called the cops or (b) yelling so loud people thought there was a murder going on.

Either way, I'm kind of excited to check the paper this afternoon to see if we made the local police beat. If so, I'll clip it out and attach it to our Christmas card this year.


In an unrelated story of really bad behavior, my 1-year-old cold-cocked me with a building block on Monday, drawing blood and leaving a half-inch long cut on my forehead.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
If this leaves a scar he will hear about it every day until he's 45.

Please don't misunderstand: my kids aren't juvenile delinquents. They're actually incredibly well-behaved most of the time, and they're really sweet kids.

On the other hand, the block-thrower is also the same kid who scratched my cornea when he was a baby so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about and he's a complete sociopath. Time will tell, I guess.


We're pet sitting for a friend's guinea pig, and not being Pet People we're finding it quite an educational experience.

Did you know that guinea pigs make this sound?

Watching this video, you have to agree with Phillip when he calls the guinea pig a "vibrating yam with legs."


With my mom here, Phillip and I took the opportunity to go out on a date. Before we left, the kids were asking us questions about it, like, "Can I come?" and "What are you going to do?"

The answers were "no" and "have dinner and see a movie."

"What movie?"

"It's called A Quiet Place."

"What's it about?"

Practically shouting over the sound of the piano playing, the dishwasher running, a couple of children chasing each other through the house, and the crashing of who knows what from the other room, we answered: "Definitely not about here!"

I was a little disappointed that the movie wasn't a documentary on good spots for napping, but it was still nice being out on a date.


My daughter showed me this hilarious video of an English comedian who's made a career out of responding to scam artists.

This actually reminded me to take a look at my email's spam folder, since real stuff sometimes ends up there.

I thought it was pretty funny to find about 50 copies of the same email. On Alzheimer's.

You know, in case I forgot the first time I saw it.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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Friday, April 13, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Captcha Codes Invented by the Devil, Slightly Eccentric Beauty Parlors, and One Hundred Dresses

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


For us, keeping the house  clean  tidy  relatively neat  livable is a cyclical thing: for a while we'll be good about purging our belongings and enforcing the clean-up-after-yourself rule, but eventually excess stuff comes in (or maybe it multiplies overnight, I'll never know) and the kids somehow develop the habit of leaving a trail of dirty dishes and craft supplies in their wake.

We know then that it's time to lay down the law.

This week, we've noticed we're on the downswing of this cycle and we've been cracking down on the mess, which means that Phillip may or may not have told a child they were fired from the family for leaving dirty socks on the floor.


What's with the Captcha codes where I have to review a grid of 9 different pictures and click all the ones with cars (or road signs, or something else of the sort?)

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Seriously. It's too early in the morning for this.

I understand Captcha codes are designed to prove I'm a human and prevent robots or whatever from using the site, but what the heck? This is like doing an activity page from Highlights magazine.

I guess that's what I get for complaining about the Captchas where you have to figure out what 9+7 equals.


Our ward, which is what Mormons call a congregation, had another potluck after church on Sunday. The theme this time was El Ocho de Abril (like Cinco de Mayo, aren't we clever?)

I looked for some Mexican cereal, but unfortunately I was out of luck. Fortunately, for some reason we had a bunch of ripe avocados that weren't earmarked for any other purpose, so Phillip whipped up some guacamole.

Believe me when I say the kids loved all my mom jokes about bringing 'holy guacamole' to church. They think I'm hilarious and absolutely not a total dork.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
As you can see, the bowl was scraped clean, so the holy guacamole must have been better than they gave it credit for.


One thing I love about being a mom is finding odd toy set-ups around the house. When the kids involved are older, like 4 or 5, I enjoy asking them about it afterward to earn what was going on behind the scenes (ie.: "So, why is your stuffed puppy hanging from the railing with a Hawaiian lei tied around his foot?")

But kids under 2 don't have the verbal skills to answer, so I just have to content myself with wondering and their true objective remains a mystery.

For example, I'll always be curious about this bizarre hair salon I caught my 1-year-old setting up on the sofa:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Right to left: a round brush, a can opener, a turkey baster, and a bottle of hair mousse. Oh, and he's shoving a salad tongs between the cushions.

Sometimes I really wish I knew what he's thinking. Or at least whether he's playing barber, chef, or sadistic dentist.


On Thursday night, there was an activity for our church women's organization. I happen to be the person responsible for planning them, which is pretty ironic since I'm a terrible event planner. Specifically, I'm terrible at making things look pretty.

The morning of the activity, I was wracked with anxiety about the whole thing (another reason I'm a horrible event planner,) and I was especially concerned about the lack of decorations.

In fact, I was literally asking myself whether I should go buy something (wherever it is that people buy pretty things for parties) when the phone rang.

Someone was setting up the church building for a wedding reception the following night, and she knew we were using the gym tonight but she wanted to know: would it be okay if they came and decorated the ceiling this afternoon?

Yes. Yes, it would.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I tried to take credit for having done this ceiling but no one would believe me.

So it ended up being the prettiest activity ever, without me doing a single thing. For all future activities, my strategy will be to piggyback on major events with large decorating budgets and a committed crew of DIYers.


Even aside from the fancy surprise ceiling, the activity was amazing. It was called The Hundred Dresses, and although the concept was a little hard to explain, it was a great time.

The slightly odd-sounding name was based on a children's book called The Hundred Dresses. It's a great read-aloud with your kids on compassion, tolerance, and standing up for others  here's my affiliate link for The Hundred Dresses if you're interested in buying it on Amazon (it costs 7 bucks.)

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

After a short discussion on the book and its general themes, we broke into groups and, since we also invited the girls and teens to this activity, made toilet paper dresses.

Sometimes you see this game done at bridal showers, but I thought it was okay to do at a non-wedding related activity because the dress models always look more like mummies than brides, anyway. Plus, we did have the wedding reception ceiling.

And then, my favorite part of the night. We'd made a goal to donate 100 dresses to Dress for Success, an organization that provides professional clothes to homeless and low-income women to wear to job interviews. The woman who runs our local chapter came to speak to us about what they do and the women they serve. It was an amazing night.

When all was said and done, we collected over 156 dresses, skirts, pant/skirt suits, blouses, and slacks. Plus a table of dress shoes and accessories that filled 5 garbage bags at the end of the night.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Dress for Success wanted all items to be wrinkle-free and ready to wear, which meant that I did more ironing that night than I have done in my whole life up to this point.

I've earned my homemaker merit badge and now I think I'm done, thanks.


Most of the time my kids show me random videos from YouTube like this Spanish class singing about needing to use the bathroom and I wonder, what even IS the Internet?

But sometimes you find a montage of old movie stars dancing to "Uptown Funk" and it's just what you need to start your day off right. Happy Friday, guys.

While we're talking about having a good Friday, I should mention you can infuse the day with 2-3 times the Unremarkable Files power by checking me out on Facebook: I'll of course be on my own page as always, but I'm also taking over the page of The Mom TruthBomb for the day. So I'm pretty much everywhere and there's no hope of escape.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

30 Things Parents Can't Believe They Need to Say Out Loud

Parenthood is a bizarre place, where common sense isn't so common and parents find themselves saying things to their kids they never dreamed they'd have to say... and yet, they do have to.


Sometimes you just won't believe the things you hear coming out of your mouth after you have children, things like:

1. No lying down in the grocery store.

2. [calling into the backseat] Is somebody moping back there?

3. We don't use salad tongs as a weapon.

4. Why are you naked?

5. Yes, you have to wear pants to church. We've always worn pants to church. When have we not worn pants to church?

6. Can you stop coughing in my face, please?

7. Take that out of your mouth and put it back in the trash. Right now.

8. Let's not jump on the trampoline naked, guys.


10. Well then, who did put the poop in your pants? I'd really like to know.

11.  We don't play the piano with our feet.

Parenthood is a bizarre place, where common sense isn't so common and parents find themselves saying things to their kids they never dreamed they'd have to say... and yet, they DO have to.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

12. If you're going to be a zombie you have to go be one outside.

13. Don't play spanking games when he's got a poopy diaper. That's a terrible idea.

14. Is that real crying or fake crying?

15. Do not sweep the floor with my pastry brush!

16. Did you learn nothing from the last time you tried to do that?

17. How did the plunger get in my closet?!

18. If you can't stop pulling down my pants, we're leaving.

19. Okay, but why would you pick that up if you thought it was poop?

20. Do NOT let the baby suck on your feet. I don't care if he likes it.

21. Stop sticking Spiderman in my eye, I can see him just fine from over there.

22. Get the dog food out of your nose.

23. Forks are for eating, not for stabbing.

24. Stop arguing over who's the tallest! You are ALL the tallest, okay??

25. Why are all the vacuum attachments in the bathtub?

26. Please tell me that's chocolate all over your hands.

27. If you aren't being nice with the sword, I'm taking it away.

28. I don't understand how you even picked that up to dump it all out.

29. Why are you smacking the front door with a tennis racket?

30. Stop laughing! Now he thinks it's funny to pee on the laundry.

Before having kids, you probably couldn't have envisioned a scenario where it was necessary to say any of these things. But now you know that most of parenting is just unbelievable  including how much you love those little people who think it's a good idea to hold a Hot Wheels car wash in the toilet.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Working from Home, Things You May or May Not Find in Phillip's Trunk, and How Ships are Different from Boats

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


I'm writing this while the 4- and 6-year-old are sequestered in their "office," which means that they used a toddler mattress to barricade themselves in the mudroom and are furiously scribbling on stacks of paper on top of a makeshift desk (a.k.a: a diaper box.)

I'm pretty sure they're violating the "only use scratch paper and not new paper from the printer" rule, but they're happy and I get 20 minutes to blog so I guess we both have something to gain from this deal.


We've always tried to delay our kids' transition from crib to bed for as long as possible, because I like the security of knowing that at naptime they're securely behind bars instead of in the bathroom methodically dropping all the tampons into the toilet.

But that's all over now, because recently I was woken up at 5AM by my 1-year-old leaning close to my ear and whispering, "Poopy."

While I appreciated the heads-up on the diaper situation before he decided to take matters (literally) into his own hands, I also died a little inside because he's learned to crawl out of his crib.

If anyone needs me for the next 9-12 months, I'll be sitting beside a toddler bed trying to enforce naptime and sobbing into the folds of my black mourning dress.


I already mentioned it in my weekend recap, but this past Saturday and Sunday was General Conference.

I always enjoy listening to inspiring sermons from the leaders of our church, ranging from dealing with perfectionism to parenting to getting answers to prayers to doing the small things that actually turn out to be the big things, after all.

But this was also a more historic Conference than usual. You see, I'm a Mormon and we believe in a prophet and apostles leading our church today. Our previous prophet, President Monson, passed away in January, and at this General Conference we sustained Russell M. Nelson to be the new prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One talk I really enjoyed comes from an apostle who took the opportunity to tell us not only about President Nelson as a person, but also to talk more broadly about what a prophet is and what it means to have a prophet today:

The main audience of General Conference is Mormon so I apologize if it uses some Mormon jargon or assumes you have prior knowledge of Mormonism. You can always leave a question in the comments below or email me.


When I got pulled over by the police on the way to my daughter's violin lesson, I was really confused because I wasn't even speeding.

The officer came up to the car window and greeted me with "So what's going on?" And not in a friendly 'hey, what's up' kind of way. It was like how I say it when I walk in on my kids sneaking popsicles out of the freezer. I know perfectly well what's going on. I just want them to admit their guilt.

Judging by the policeman's tone, I was supposed to confess to having a body in the trunk. I mean, it was Phillip's car so I don't know what actually is in the trunk, but still. I'M INNOCENT, I TELL YOU.

So I did what I always do when put on the spot: made a weird choking noise and sat there with my mouth hanging open like an idiot. (Trust me, you'd never want me as your legal counsel.)

Finally he got tired of waiting for an answer and asked for my license and registration. At which point I remembered how to talk and said, "I have no idea why I'm being pulled over. Did I do something wrong?"

He just said curtly, "Give me your license and registration and I'll tell you in a minute."

After he went to his patrol car for a million hours to run my plate and make sure I'm not a serial killer, he came back to inform me that Phillip's inspection sticker was expired and gave me a warning.

So it wasn't my favorite encounter with law enforcement, but at least he didn't check for bodies in the trunk. It's not my car so for all I know there actually is one in there and the joke's on him.


If you will, please picture a ship in your mind. You see a big metal vessel floating on the water, right?

Apparently you're not in middle school, then, because 'ship' is a verb now and I am so confused. Here's what I know so far:
  1. If you 'ship' two people you think they should be a couple.
  2. You 'ship' others, not yourself and whoever you like.
  3. But 'shipping' real people is weird, you ship fictional characters from books and TV instead. 
  4. 'Ship names' are when you mash up the names of a couple into a single word (the next time I order return address labels I'm going to use mine and my husband's, which is Phillifer.)
After 20 minutes of exhaustively questioning my kids, I was more confused about 'shipping' than when I started.

So I gave up and made them listen to "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred on repeat. Two can play at the "your generation will never understand mine" game.


One thing bloggers struggle with is the feeling that there's nothing new to write about. Every idea, every emotion, every thought, has already been voiced by somebody else. And that's a writer's existential crisis: does anyone even have anything original to say anymore??

Maybe not, but I'll bet this is the only place on the Internet where you can watch a video from General Conference and "I'm Too Sexy" all in the same blog post.

(I haven't Googled to fact-check that yet, but I'm pretty sure it's the case.)


FYI, these are the finished documents from my kids' hard work at the office (Take #1.)

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The 6-year-old says she taught the 4-year-old how to do "fake writing" so he can sign things.

They of course left it all for the janitor to clean up at the end of the day.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

An Evans Weekend Recap in 8, 7, 6, 5...

This weekend the Evans house was hit with the triple whammy of Easter, a big church broadcast, and April Fool's Day. Although let's be honest, every day feels like April Fool's Day around here (Ha ha, you just mopped and now there's pee on the floor! Gotcha!) so I guess that part wasn't too different.

In any case, here's a by the numbers recap of the weekend, if you find yourself wondering what it would've been like to hang out with the Evanses.


...of us watching 8 hours of General Conference together. Phillip and I plus our 6 kids have been looking forward to it for the last 6 months, albeit for different reasons (see the next point, #7.)

General Conference is a twice-a-year broadcast where the leadership of my church give sermons on various spiritual topics. It takes up the whole weekend, stretching over four sessions of 2 hours each. But we Mormons are hearty stock. We have church for 3 hours every Sunday, so we're kind of used to it.

From Ukranian eggs to spiritual broadcasts and unholy messes, what a weekend it was.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Us watching Conference on the computer in the corner. The kids on the floor aren't dead from boredom; they're trying to get a marker that rolled under the stove.

I love Conference because I always come away with a clearer perspective on my life, more hope for the future, and a motivation to follow the Savior better. The kids, on the other hand, love the snacks.


...times per minute I was asked about snacks. We've tried various Conference traditions over the years, but my kids' favorite by far is Conference Snacks.

We tape pictures of our church leaders on different munchies, and when each one speaks we get to eat that snack. And it's funny, the regular readers of my blog, even the ones who aren't Mormon, also love this tradition and ask me every time if we're going to do it again.

From Ukranian eggs to spiritual broadcasts and unholy messes, what a weekend it was.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
There's some serious debate going on over whose picture goes on which snack. I usually try to keep my distance to avoid catching a stray punch.

I joke about the kids only being in it for the food, but in reality they're pretty good at paying attention. I encourage them to listen and take at least a one-sentence note on each sermon, and they all tried their best, even the 6-year-old:

From Ukranian eggs to spiritual broadcasts and unholy messes, what a weekend it was.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The black writing is mine, obviously. Sometimes 6-year-olds get tired before a sentence is over.

Six... looking for Easter eggs in the snow. We also participated in an Easter egg hunt through our local playgroup.

The younger three hunted for eggs, the older three helped them, and I sat in a beach chair sipping a hot chocolate and planning my vacation to Tahiti because I'm obviously not even necessary around here anymore.

From Ukranian eggs to spiritual broadcasts and unholy messes, what a weekend it was.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Since two of the kids have food allergies, the egg hunt was immediately followed by The Great Candy Swap, where you take what I'm allergic to and I take what you're allergic to, and everyone is happy. Good thing we have so many kids.

From Ukranian eggs to spiritual broadcasts and unholy messes, what a weekend it was.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I'll see your two peanut butters and raise you three glutens and an Almond Joy.


...Pysanky eggs created. Several years ago when we were learning about different countries over the summer, we learned about a Ukranian egg-dying technique called Pysanky. Somehow it became an Easter tradition for us, even though we have 0% Ukranian ancestry that I know of.

Making Pysanky eggs is a pretty complicated process involving drawing your designs with hot wax and then dying and re-dying the egg in different colors after each new layer of wax.

From Ukranian eggs to spiritual broadcasts and unholy messes, what a weekend it was.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
It takes a long time, but if we get through Easter without anyone lighting their hair on fire I consider it a success.

We each have our own styles that would probably make traditional Pysanky masters roll in their graves, but I'm really pleased at what we created this year!

These were two of my favorites:

From Ukranian eggs to spiritual broadcasts and unholy messes, what a weekend it was.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Via the 11-year-old.

From Ukranian eggs to spiritual broadcasts and unholy messes, what a weekend it was.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Via the 13-year-old.


...cups of dye NOT spilled. If you'll notice in the picture above, there are five mugs full of Pysanky dye, meaning that one of our dining room chairs is covered in bright blue splatters now.

Pysanky uses a special kind of extra-potent dye, and unlike the boxes of pastel powder I can buy at CVS for $1.49, this stuff is permanent forever and ever, amen. (If you eat an egg dyed with Pysanky dye, I think you grow a tail.)

So if you ever come over to our house for dinner, please don't be alarmed by the chair that looks like it was a witness to genocide on a blueberry farm: we're just making memories.


...General Conference talks answering my question. Mormons believe that if we prayerfully think about questions we have  a doctrinal subject we don't understand, a need for guidance in a certain area of our lives, or whatever  those questions will be answered during Conference. And as always, Conference did not disappoint.

Lately I've been feeling overwhelmed by life and all its assorted responsibilities, to the point where it's affecting my happiness. I keep thinking about the idea from this article that if you're feeling perpetually burnt-out you don't need more breaks from your life, you need to re-structure it so you don't feel the need to constantly escape. Okay, sounds super-good in theory, but how do I do that?!?

So that was my question, and there was not one, not two, but three Conference talks on Sunday morning telling me to seek answers from God. I can't explain how each one felt like an incredibly personal answer specifically directed at me, but they did.

If you have an extra 11 minutes in your day, this was my favorite. (It also has a story about Navy ships and a typhoon, which is exactly the kind of thing my boys are highly invested in emotionally.)

On one hand, it was a little frustrating to ask what I need to change about my life and instead of a bulleted list I was told 'Girl, you need to go ask God about this.' But on the other hand, at least I understand now I need to be specifically asking God how to rearrange my days instead of just begging Him to help me get through them.


...big pans of Easter rolls brought to a friend's. I ended up doubling the recipe and bringing a billion of these rolls to Sunday dinner. Being a family of 8, we don't get dinner party invitations much, but we went and had a good time and our oldest sat at the table discussing politics and current events with the adults which was equal parts neat and bizarre.

Also, my 4-year-old may not have gleaned much from General Conference since he was doing couch parkour throughout most of it, but making the rolls definitely left an impression on him.

He was telling Jesus' resurrection story to everyone who would listen whenever we had a roll for the next several days.


...huge mess made while everything else was going on. While we were otherwise occupied with General Conference, the 1-year-old seized the chance to make sure every other room of the house looked like this:

From Ukranian eggs to spiritual broadcasts and unholy messes, what a weekend it was.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The work of a tiny opportunist.

Now that the weekend's over, we definitely have some cleaning up to do.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Things That Don't Go Without Saying to Kids

One thing you learn by having kids is that things you think are obvious... well, aren't.

For example, I assumed that when I asked one of my kids to put jelly on his sibling's toast and he happily replied "Okay!" that we were on the same page about what that meant.

Until a few hours later I walked by the counter to see he'd made the toast  and left the jar of jelly open on the counter, right beside the dirty knife and open bag of bread.

Wasn't putting everything away implied in my request to "please put jelly on the toast?" Apparently not.

Like using soap in the shower. Unfortunately.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Surely this is not what I meant.

Now that I'm a mom I know some things just don't go without saying to kids, no matter how obvious they seem. Things like:

Using soap in the shower. Strange but true fact, kids: simply being naked near a bar of soap does not magically make you clean. You must actually apply it to your body while you're in there. The strange little terrycloth squares I keep putting in the bathroom can help with that. Also, the bottles labeled "shampoo" and "conditioner" aren't just decorative.

Putting your Band-aid strips in the trash. After applying a Band-aid, you'll notice you've created a large pile of trash: one wrapper and two little peels, plus the box of Band-aids that's now sitting out on the counter. For the love of Tina Turner, do not leave it all lying there and walk away.

Shutting the door when exiting the house. Again, this shouldn't be a huge revelatory idea, but perhaps it does need to be said that if you open a door to go outside, you should close it behind you. (I don't want to blow any minds tonight, so I'll wait for another time to talk about turning off the lights when leaving a room.)

Observing good hygiene in the bathroom. Wash your hands after using the toilet. Flush the toilet after using the toilet. Use TOILET PAPER after using the toilet, for goodness' sake. It's called toilet paper for a reason.

Turning off the sink when it's full. I honestly have no problem with the kids playing with the faucet, because who am I to stand in the way of a Montessori-style exploration that happens to buy me 10 minutes of quiet time?  If it starts overflowing, though, you don't need to be a member of Mensa to conclude it's time to shut it off. Come on, people.

Like using soap in the shower. Unfortunately.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Moving things on the floor before sweeping. We are big on giving our kids responsibilities at home, but the way they try to get away with sweeping around the 472 toys on the floor without moving them, you'd think they'd never done a chore in their lives before.

Not running around screaming at bedtime. After we read stories and dim the lights and sing songs and give kisses and all the other 1,001 things parents are supposed to do as part of a soothing bedtime routine, you chase your brother down the hallway with a blanket over your head brandishing a plastic light saber. THIS IS NOT HOW CALMING DOWN WORKS.

Changing your underwear. When I do a week's worth of laundry and only see one pair of underwear in the basket, I have so many regrets. I assumed you knew that when I said "get dressed" I meant put on a new pair of underwear, too. I was wrong, and I'm sorry. So very sorry.

Not stepping on things that will break when stepped on. Just because something is on the floor doesn't mean you have to step on it. You could just walk around it, or even pick it up! Okay, I guess that last thing was ridiculous. But seriously, I've watched you walk across the living room as if on stepping stones, except that instead of river rocks it's library books out of which you're ripping the pages and board game boxes that are splitting apart under your weight. Can you honestly not see this, too?

Just because you can hang from something doesn't mean you should. The average roll of toilet paper weighs 8 ounces. The average toilet roll holder isn't designed for all 40 pounds of you swinging from it like Tarzan on a jungle vine. At least it wasn't. Back when we had a toilet paper roll holder instead of a gaping hole in the wall.

Every day, kids demonstrate anew that nothing  I repeat, NOTHING   goes without saying. I guarantee no matter how obvious you think something is, there's a child out there somewhere who can prove you wrong.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Keeping Things Clean, Destroying All the Music I Like, and Truth in Advertising on My Front Doorstep

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


Happy Good Friday! I am really looking forward to this weekend, and not just because Phillip was out of town this week and is finally home to fix everything the kids broke while he was gone.

Later today I plan to make these Easter rolls with the kids. You put a marshmallow in the middle and bake, then the marshmallow disintegrates in the oven so the roll is empty like Christ's tomb on Easter morning. Plus, it tastes really yummy because marshmallows.

Do you have any traditional Easter foods or special Easter traditions that help your family focus on Jesus (even if they are eating Reese's Eggs while they're doing it?)


In spite of what I said about spring cleaning, we did, in fact, do some deep cleaning. I put the little kids down for a nap, wrangled the older ones into helping me with the promise of a movie and a treat afterward, and together we tackled a list of chores that needed to be done in the kitchen.

They organized cabinets, washed walls, and wiped down all the appliances while I worked on scrubbing what was probably 15 years of dust cemented to the tops of the cabinets with grease. Super-fun.

My arms were sore for days afterward, but I look forward to not stirring up allergies when we put the Christmas garlands up there this December.

When we finished the kitchen was sparkling, and my kids got to experience first-hand the feeling of utter rage that consumes you when you bust your butt cleaning and then somebody wanders in to get a snack, leaves fingerprints all over the fridge, scatters dirty utensils everywhere, and spills a tub of yogurt on the floor. 

I think that's the best way to prepare them for life in the real world, honestly.


As a reward for spring cleaning well done, we watched Coco. It was a visually beautiful movie and I enjoyed the family-positive theme. I'd recommend it to anyone, but probably especially if you're Mormon since Mormons will love the tie-in with family history and knowing your ancestors.

We were planning to have a treat with the movie but it was the end of the grocery-shopping week and there wasn't much in the fridge, so we had to work with what we had. Which, in this case, meant gluten-free brownies with a flaxseed egg substitute.

I genuinely hesitate to hit "publish" on that for fear that questions will be raised about how humanely we're treating our kids.


My toddler moved into a front-facing car seat. Like everything he's ever had, the seat belonged to his older siblings before him and was a little dusty from being in the attic, so I took the whole thing apart, washed the seat cover, and mused about how good he had it because his mom was literally scrubbing the belt buckles of his "new" car seat with a toothbrush for him.

Once everything was washed and put back together, I couldn't believe how nice it looked!

For about 20 seconds, until he instantly spilled his snack all over it. Just in case I was harboring any illusions about having nice things.


My kids were messing around after dinner one night and put on one of my swing dance CDs from college. 

(It's a little-known fact that I was an avid swing dancer in college, and I think I was actually pretty good. Which you would never in a million years guess, based on the fact that when I go to my friend's Zumba class I look like I'm trying to get a spider out of my shirt.)

The cover of "Jump, Jive, an' Wail" by The Brian Setzer Orchestra came on, and after a while one of my kids asked, "Is this song really about drunk driving?"

I was so confused until I actually listened to the chorus, and lo and behold, she was right: when they sing "jump, jive and" it does sound remarkably like "drunk driving." Now I can't unhear it.


I saw the best welcome mat on the Facebook page of my friend So-So Mom (okay, her real name is Crystal). She's got 7 kids and knows exactly where I'm coming from.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Awesome doormat product image from Hi, I'm Mat

Our welcome mat is getting a little threadbare and I've already requested this for my birthday.

Maybe then I'll get fewer shocked comments from the random utility guy who can't fix our furnace without saying, "Woah! Another one!" every time a child rounds the corner.


In addition to Easter being this weekend, we're also going to be spending most of Saturday and Sunday camped out in our living room watching General Conference on the Internet.

That's our twice-a-year opportunity to hear directly from the prophet and apostles of my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a.k.a. Mormons.) You are all officially welcome to join me if you'd like.

Conference only occasionally falls on Easter weekend, but I love when it does. I generally find it harder to focus on Jesus at Eastertime than I do at, say, Christmas, so I appreciate the help of General Conference. After all, we are literally listening to 8 hours of one person after another talking about the Savior and aspects of His gospel.

Yes, the kids will get a little antsy and trash the house, but there will also be snacks and spiritual uplift  and I can't wait.

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