Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Potty Training Was a Little Rough This Time Around

My 2-year-old has been ready to potty train for a while.

He can tell when he has to pee.

He knows the whole sequence of pants down, go, pants up, dump, flush, and wash hands from watching his older brother.

He even occasionally uses the potty himself when the mood strikes him.

I thought since he was so close already, plus I'd already been through it with his 5 older siblings, potty training my 2-year-old was going to be one of the easiest things I'd ever done.

This just in: I'm an idiot.

We swear by a one-day potty bootcamp method, so we circled last Tuesday on the calendar and planned on having one more member of the Evans family enjoying complete control over his bodily functions by that evening.

What actually happened that evening is that he squatted over his dad's work shoes and peed in them.

'Badly' does not even begin to cover how boot camp went.

At one point I was actually thrilled when he peed on the hardwood floor instead of the carpet, so I guess you could say things weren't going well.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I had even made plans for Thursday thinking he'd be trained. I was so naive.

I didn't realize this when he was in diapers, but the kid has a bladder that would make Fort Knox jealous.

When your potty training strategy depends on pumping him full of liquids so he gets to practice going to the bathroom all morning, that's a problem.

"Time to sit on the potty!" I'd say after he'd had almost a full quart (!) of juice, and he would but nothing happened.

After discussing how awesome the potty was over a mid-morning snack and then again over a floor puzzle of ocean creatures, I'd ask "Do you have to pee now?"

"No," he'd reply, casually flipping the page in a Sandra Boynton book with one ankle crossed over his other leg, giving off a faint GQ model vibe — if GQ models sat around in Lightning McQueen undies and had ridiculously large bellies from chugging 32 fluid ounces of white grape juice.

After two hours, he sneaked upstairs and peed on his sisters' carpet.

By the end of our one-day potty training boot camp, we only had a 50% success rate, and even then he wasn't initiating trips to the potty on his own.

Wednesday was even worse. Our success rate collapsed to 0%. At one point I realized I was actually thrilled when he peed on the hardwood floor instead of the carpet, A.K.A. things were not going well.

During his waking hours I sprayed 409 Pet Stain Remover on the rug and dreamed about running away to join the circus, and while he was napping I Googled "potty training hell" hoping that reading the misfortunes of those worse off would prevent me from actually running away to join the circus.

(The stories here and here helped, but I still felt pretty sorry for myself.)

I was so close to giving up that I didn't even mention potty training in my 7 Quick Takes Friday recap, even though I'd spent the better part of my week grossly exaggerating how cool mommy and daddy think the potty is (and watching my toddler urinate on the carpet regardless.)

Believe me, I'm not a quitter. But I seriously considered quitting this so-called potty training, which was beginning to look a lot like just me doing extra laundry.

At one point I was actually thrilled when he peed on the hardwood floor instead of the carpet, so I guess you could say things weren't going well.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Yay for removing and washing all the couch cushions! Hip hip hooray!

What if we just went back to diapers? Pretended this whole thing never happened? Tom Cruise did it with the couch-jumping incident on Oprah and his career recovered. It was an option.

But no, I decided after WAY too much deliberation that the 2-year-old was ready and this thing was going to happen. He just didn't get a chance to really nail it during boot camp so we were going to start over and do it one more time.

And it went better.

A little.

On Friday, we took a successfully dry trip to the grocery store. We ran into an acquaintance there and during our conversation I gestured to my son and mentioned that "this was our first trip out of the house in underwear," not realizing until afterward I should've clarified that I did NOT actually mean for both of us.

On Saturday, we went to the library and didn't even need the three extra outfits I'd packed in my purse in a fit of paranoia beforehand.

Even though the lack of accidents was mostly due to his iron bladder rather than any particular commitment to depositing anything in a toilet, I rejoiced.

On Sunday he made it through two hours of nursery at church, and by Monday he was actually getting himself to the potty on his own when nature called, more often than not.

And on Tuesday, one week after beginning this adventure, he had his first accident-free day.

I'm not sure where I'm going with all this. 

Maybe I want you to know I can be stubborn, even more stubborn than a stubborn 2-year-old.

Maybe I want to encourage you not to give up when the crap is figuratively or literally hitting the fan, the floor, and your husband's work shoes.

Maybe I just want you to suffer through each painful detail as I had to do. I'm not above that.

Whatever it is, though, I think we're on the road to a fully-trained child.

And because the 2-year-old is our youngest, I'm left with a package of diapers that will probably never get used up (though he still wears them at night) and, ironically, really missing that ridiculously poofy diaper bum I used to see waddling through the house.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

From the Self-Help Section of My Toddler's Bookshelf

I was in my kids' room, straightening bed linens and surreptitiously sniffing for pee accidents no one told me about when I noticed something different about my toddler's bookshelf.

Little Blue Truck and Green Eggs and Ham were there, just like always, but there were also a bunch of new books I'd never seen before.

It wasn't until I leaned in for a closer look at the dust jackets that I realized I'd stumbled across my toddler's self-help collection.

Toddlers have to learn how to throw epic tantrums somewhere, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Anger Management for Dummies

Does a broken graham cracker make fire shoot out of your eyes? Ever caused property damage over a suggestion to put on pants? Do you often find yourself carried to bed doing bicycle kicks while your parents mutter bad words under their breath? There's hope. In these pages, find help and healing for your explosive rage triggered by basically everything.

The 7 Habits of Highly Destructive People

Increase your demolition power by up to 80% with tips on prioritizing your time out of your caregiver's eyesight and throwing food for maximum splatter. Includes a handy pocket identification guide for expensive and/or irreplaceable things. Wreak more havoc before 9 AM than most people do all day!

A Step-By-Step Illustrated Guide to DIY Diaper Removal

"It's empowering knowing I can streak through the house butt-naked at any time!"
-Maddisyn DeSilva, Instagram star, 18 months

"Not only do I have limited motor skills and parents trying to outsmart me, I also can't see past my own distended belly. I almost gave up trying to take off my own diaper, but this guide was a total game-changer."
-Trevon Finley, spokesperson, Baby Civil Liberties Union

"Informative and straightforward, Diaper Removal is pure gold."
-Camden Savage, columnist and book reviewer at Esquire, Jr.

Natural Eating: A Guide to Foraging for Food in Your Own Bodily Orifices

Do you really know where your food comes from? Why settle for pureed mystery meat from Beech-Nut or the unfamiliar ingredients in organic fruit pouches when there's home-grown food just a nostril away? It's time to reclaim the term 'picky eater' and join the revolution.

You, Too, Can Make a Masterpiece 

Move over, Bob Ross! World-renowned art instructor Cedric Schmidt teaches you how to create full-size wall murals using whatever is on hand: your sister's crayons, a Sharpie you found under the fridge, or even fecal material!

The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook: Escaping from Cribs, Baby Gates, Playpens, and More

So you found yourself stuck in baby jail  now what? This definitive resource for junior escape artists will show you how to stay calm, evaluate your surroundings, and devise an exit strategy from any type of baby containment device... or your money back.

The Power of Public Meltdowns

Stop whining in Target like an amateur and start making demands and getting results with these never-before-shared insider secrets for leveraging:
  • Your Parents' Crushing Self-Doubt 
  • Judgment from Strangers 
  • Social Humiliation 
  • And More!
Want an outrageously-priced package of organic cookies or a cheaply-made toy you'll never look at again after you get home? Using the techniques in this book, whatever you want is yours in as little as 3-5 minutes.

As We Change the Diaper, the Diaper Also Changes Us: Zen Meditations From Pre-K

With this beautiful anthology from the world's youngest spiritual teachers and philosophers, discover a peace that reaches deeper than the white noise app on your moms' phone. Varied and insightful, these words of wisdom all converge on one universal truth: diaper changes come and go, but lasting change comes from within.

She Who Bites Hardest Gets the Toys: The New and Updated Playdate Guide for the 21st Century

WARNING: THIS IS NOT YOUR MAMA'S PLAYBOOK. Throw out yesterday's rules and pick up this modern girl's guide to playdating in the 21st century! Written for social butterflies and wallflowers alike, this book includes sections on posing for social media photos of your playdate, the best self-defense moves to avoid sharing, and epic meltdowns when it's time to go home.

**Note: I'm not sure why this is in my toddler's bookshelf, as he is a boy.

The Joy of Snacks

From the best-selling author of Joy of Sex comes a new just-for-toddlers compendium devoted to the world's greatest pleasure: snacks. This thoughtful reference delves into the pros and cons of incorporating food groups other than grains, the ethics of making your parents individually peel your grapes like Grecian slaves, and how to cope when you granola bar gets broken and is therefore completely inedible.

Frommer's Guide to Public Restrooms

With inviting full-color photos, Frommer's Guide to Public Restrooms covers must-see attractions like the feminine hygiene box, the filthy floor, and more! Learn to touch everything in sight and open the door while your mom's pants are down with this travel guide to every toddler's favorite destination.

After browsing for a few minutes I was interrupted by a crash downstairs, which turned out to be my toddler trying out the parkour techniques from the sidebar on page 56 of Emergency Room Visits for Beginners.

I don't mean to brag, but he's so well-read.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Filling a Bucket, Trying Not To Get Over-Excited, and Polite Fender-Benders at the Grocery Store

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


Since the start of school 8 days ago I feel like my kids have been bringing home an inordinate number of forms for me to sign.

I don't mind when they're in elementary school because at that age they're more like little UPS packages than people and signatures must be had.

But my high schooler  I repeat, my high schooler  has brought home forms from almost every one of her classes requiring my signature saying that I read the classroom policies.

Look guys, I don't even read the iTunes terms and conditions, and that's something that might actually be beneficial for me to know.

I don't need to know her classroom policies. I don't want to know her classroom policies. I already did 9th grade. It's my daughter's job now.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Checking the second option so hard I almost tore through the paper.

One of the forms did ask me to mark either "I've read the rules" or "I trust my kid" before signing. I'm not sure if this makes me feel better or worse.


There's this book called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? It's about how everyone has an invisible bucket of good feelings inside, and our elementary school uses it to talk about kindness and encourage the kids to be "bucket fillers."

The day they introduced the concept, my 6-year-old came home and told her 4-year-old brother, "You're a bucket filler!"

Not knowing what she was talking about and deciding to fire back with something he figured was equally random, he retorted, "You're a pants filler!"

I could not stop laughing long enough to explain to either one what was so funny.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I will never hear this phrase the same way again.


Time is weird. I've written about the motherhood time warp before, and I'll never be able to understand how one day you're dressing your baby in adorable hoodies with animal ears and then somehow you find yourself buying that same kid a 3-pack of Sexy Basics shorts on Amazon.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I promise you these were not sexy at all. For starters, as you can see in this picture, the shorts were the color of a rotting butternut squash.

Luckily, the sexy factor is not why I bought the shorts. I intended them to be for running.

My daughter said they were too ugly for that but an acceptable level of ugly for pajamas. So I guess it turned out okay in the end.


This is a little premature so I'm trying not to be too excited but I AM SO EXCITED that my 6-year-old may have grown out of her peanut allergy.

Her skin test at the allergist came out negative, so she went to the lab for blood work which also came back negative. The next step is to take her back to the allergist for a food challenge, where she'll eat increasing amounts of peanut butter until she either reacts or gets the all-clear to eat ALL THE SNICKERS.

I'm cautiously optimistic; she had promising lab work a few years ago and still miserably failed the food challenge so it's not a sure thing yet. Wish us luck.


I watched the 1995 Jumanji with my kids at one of their friends' houses. It was actually the friend's 4th birthday and that, out of all possible movies, was his viewing request. I don't understand children.

Fast-forward to several hours later, when Phillip and I were trying to get to sleep. I'm famous for thinking of things to talk about after lights-out, and Phillip is famous for being tired, so it's kind of a bad combination.

"I don't get Jumanji," I said after maybe 10 minutes of lying there in the dark. "Why did someone make that game in the first place? What's the point?"

"It's not important," Phillip mumbled sleepily from underneath a pillow.

"Well, obviously it wasn't, based on the fact that the movie never addressed it at all  "

"No, I mean it's not important that you don't understand Jumanji right now."

Phillip can be such a killjoy after 11 PM.


I saw the wold's politest car accident in the parking lot at Market Basket. A gray car backed into another car a few yards away from me, leaving no dents but it did leave a streak of paint on the door.

The two drivers, both older men, slowly opened their doors and got out. Very slowly, they moseyed around the cars to assess the damage.

"It's okay, don't worry about it."

"You sure?"

"My brother's a body guy, if I want it fixed I'll ask him. It's not worth the hassle."

"Okay, then."

And then they both got in their cars and drove away.

Something tells me that from now on, whenever I read the comments on the Internet and start to think Earth is doomed, I'm going to remember those two guys and feel a lot better.


I wrote something I'm really proud of this week, a piece of feminist (or anti-feminist? I don't know) critique called It's the 21st Century and Women Can Be Anything. Almost.

Before Monday, it had been sitting in my drafts folder for at least 6 months. I worked hard on it and believed in my words, I just couldn't hit 'publish' because I thought it was too controversial.

Also, I have this thing about wanting everyone to like me and not call me a small-minded moron.

One night I just did it. I hit the orange 'publish' button and then ran away to bed so I couldn't change my mind. (And you know how I hate going to bed, so this must have been serious.)

When I checked my blog the next morning, I felt like I was picking up a cup under which I'd earlier trapped a really horrifying spider. BI saw that actually, it resonated with a lot of you, and that gave me confidence.

If you haven't already, I'd love for you to read, share, or leave a comment on this post. It's even okay if your friends read it and call me a small-minded moron. (Though, if I'm honest, I'd still prefer they didn't.)

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Monday, September 10, 2018

It's the 21st Century and Women Can Be Anything. Almost.

Welcome to the 21st century! We have great news, because now you, my sister, can be whatever you want to be!

Unless what you want to be is a traditional wife and mother.

Then don't be that. We were just kidding.

A few weeks ago, my kids and I watched Zootopia for the first time. (I know, I know, we're a few years behind on popular culture. You don't need to point it out.)

The movie was clever and entertaining, and in a sense I really did enjoy it. The DMV staffed entirely by sloths was hilarious and made total sense of the world after waiting in my local social security office for an hour and 45 minutes to sign a single form.

There's just one thing feminism tells our girls they should not, cannot, must not be.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
photo credit

But Zootopia also packed some serious feminist commentary, and the irony was not lost on me that I was sitting right next to my kids as Disney told them with a hint-hint, wink-wink that my life spent raising them was a waste.

Let me explain.

Zootopia's main character, a bunny named Judy, dreams of becoming the first female police officer in the metropolis of Zooptopia, where the city motto is 'Where Anyone Can Be Anything.'

Her risk-averse parents don't want her to go, though. It's too dangerous. They want her to stay in Bunnyburrow, where they run a carrot farm and raise their hundreds of baby bunnies (rabbits, you know.)

Trying to talk her into staying, Judy's mom says "Do you know why we're so happy, Judy? Because we settled!"

"We settled hard," Judy's dad agrees, nodding vigorously.

The scene was done with humor and wit, but you read that right: they really did say that staying home and having babies is "settling."

Just why, in order for Judy to go to Zooptopia and shatter glass ceilings, does the movie have to make ignorant fools of the stay-at-home carrot farmers of the world? What's so wrong with making a life out of raising your bunnies, anyway?

It's clear that in Zootopia (and by extension, in our pop feminist version of Utopia,) the motto is Where Anyone Can Be Anything  with an asterisk, of course, reading: "except a traditional wife and mother."

This fake narrative of women's liberation leaves women like me behind.

It tells our girls it's fantastic to be police officers (or lawyers or heart surgeons or whatever,) but being a stay-at-home mom makes you a backward country bumpkin who is settling for less.

I guess it's no longer politically correct to suggest that baby bunnies and carrot farms are still appealing to women in these liberated days, and yet my own experience and observation tells me it is.

Virtually every woman I know wants the bunny-and-carrot-farm experience, at least to some extent. Even the most professionally accomplished of them feel that their families, not their careers, are the most important achievements of their lives. Even BeyoncĂ© says so.

There's just one thing feminism tells our girls they should not, cannot, must not be.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Not Beyoncé. This is a slightly blurry photo of me holding my son while he tries to escape.

When even Disney movies are telling my kids that being a judge or a scientist isn't simply another path for intelligent women to choose, but the only path worth taking, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little worried. There is so much more I want my kids, and particularly my daughters, to know.

I hope they know that paychecks and credentials don't define their worth.

I hope they know that choosing to raise a family is one of the most rewarding things they could ever do.

I hope they know they can truly be anything, without explanation or apology  and that includes, most especially, being the mothers of their children.

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Friday, September 7, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Confusing the Campground Staff, What We Mean When We Say "Behave," and a Finding a New Pocket in Your Pants

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


We are officially back in school and everyone is exhausted. Next week my teenager starts a before-school scripture study class so starting Monday, we'll have to get up even earlier. I don't want to think about it.

But on to the good news.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I get a "first day of school" picture like this almost every year and love it.

If you've been following this blog for long you know that social expectations to helicopter over my kids drive me crazy, so I hated the rule last year that kindergartners had to be accompanied by a parent at the bus stop.

As if my 5-year-old would become so disoriented without me 6 inches from her at all times that she'd wander off into the woods and be lost forever.

Anyway, she starts 1st grade this year and the first thing the bus driver said when he pulled up was, "You don't have to wait with her, you can just drop her off."

Thanks, and I fully intend to.


Just days before school started, we squeezed in our annual summer camping trip with friends.

Our friends have 6 kids like we do and it's so much fun, but I wasn't sure they'd be able to make it this year because their 8-month-old has special needs and a lot of health concerns.

Our friends are troopers, though, and came anyway.

The forecast called for rain and they were worried about keeping the baby dry, so they called the campground ahead of time to see if there were some kind of indoor accommodations for him.

After looking up our reservation, the people on the phone were like, "Wait a minute, this can't be right. You have a family reservation for... sixteen people??"


Luckily, it all worked out beautifully. They let us use a campsite next to an administrative building that had electricity, A/C, and even a mini-fridge for the baby's milk. So everyone except the baby had a quintessential tent-camping experience, which was exactly the goal.

We had a great time but somehow, between our families we had a total of two non-working camping stoves. We had to improvise, cooking all our meals over the fire.

We made it work.

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

After packing up the tents and all our gear we headed to a beach on the ocean before going home.

Despite Phillip freaking out about sharks, thus freaking me out, we made it the whole afternoon without anyone getting eaten so we can relax until we do this again next year.

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

And then on the way back to the parking lot my flip flop broke, which seemed like a very appropriate (and slightly sad) symbol for the end of our vacation and for summer in general.

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

Bring on the pumpkin-flavored everything.


My 14-year-old has been the "only" one not to have a cell phone in her school for the last three years (although I do know of at least one other girl who also doesn't have one.)

She's always gotten along just fine without a phone in the past, but in the last few months she's been starting to need one.

Her friends are all allergic to picking up a landline phone and speaking on it, and most of her after-school activities use text updates about games and practices. Plus I do a lot of taxiing and it's helpful for her to be able to tell me about schedule changes when they happen.

Over the summer we gave her some projects and her reward for successfully completing them was having access to a phone (it's "hers" for all intents and purposes, but since we pay the bill we own it and can taketh or giveth away if necessary.)

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I was going to engrave these on stone tablets but I ran out of time.

I kind of miss the old times, but it's fun to watch her texting and I guess joining the rest of the 21st century.


My preschooler has been mishearing us when we tell him to "behave."

He hears it as "be have," like you would say "be good" or "be nice." So in his mind, we are telling him to be "have."

So when his little brother is acting up, we sometimes hear him indignantly shout, "Mom! He's not being have!"


My three youngest kids sequestered themselves in my room playing house the other day. When I came in with a load of clean laundry, the 2-year-old was sucking on a baby doll's bottle and being tucked in to my bed by my 4- and 6-year-old, who were apparently the mommy and the daddy.

"Get out! Get out!" shrieked the 4-year-old, not happy I was ruining their game by flicking the lights on to put away my socks.

"No, it's okay!" the 6-year-old reassured him. "That's just the maid."

Not sure if I should be happy she's adaptable and creative enough to incorporate me into her pretend play on the fly, or whether I should go on strike until someone starts paying the housekeeper.


I recently got a new calling at church teaching a room full of 2-year-olds in a nursery class after the service.

We play toys, have snacks, and try our best to teach a 3-minute lesson on Jesus while one of the kids tries to turn off the lights and run around screaming.

It's a lot like home, actually.

On Sunday one of the kids had a toy he brought from home, so I suggested he put it in his pocket so he didn't lose it.

He started searching his pants, which only had decorative "pockets" that weren't really pockets. Then he noticed his fly was open and happily announced "I found one!" and stuck the toy inside.

I love little kids.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Spending One-On-One Time With Every Kid in a Big Family

Having 6 kids, one of the things I'm asked a lot is "How do you have time for each of the children in a large family?"

It's culturally accepted that spending time alone with each child is the holy grail of parenting.

We assume it's necessary for healthy parent-child relationships and happy children, forgetting that "one-on-one time" is a new concept that's only been around for 40 years or so.

One-on-one time is the holy grail of parenting... or is it?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Some things invented 40 years ago turned out to be pretty good ideas, like cell phones and car seat laws. And some are more like... new Coke.

So I think it needs to be examined to see whether individual time with each child actually is as important as we think it is.

Personally, I think it's overrated. 

My husband and I spend most of our time and energy on whole-family activities like hikes, games, or movie nights. Sometimes we do stuff in smaller groups with 3 or 4 of the kids, depending on their ages and interests.

The way I see it, it's family time that really makes a difference in how happy and stable and secure each kid feels, and I don't think family time gets the credit it deserves.

All kids need to feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves. Building a strong family identity makes each kid feel like they're a part of something special.

Spending time en masse, no matter what the size of your family, gives you time to bond with your child and it also gives siblings time to have fun together.

(Secretly, I suspect that the modern emphasis on one-on-one time can actually encourage sibling rivalry, unintentionally sending the message that time with mom or dad only counts if your siblings aren't there to "ruin" it!)

Needless to say, there are not a lot of daddy-daughter dates happening in this house on a regular basis.

One-on-one time is the holy grail of parenting... or is it?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

That said, if I were to make a time log for my entire day, I'd see plenty of time spent with each child individually. It's just in increments of minutes, hundreds of times a day, instead of a solid two-hour outing once a week.

I smile at each child when she comes home from school, make eye contact while he's telling me a story, ask her opinion about something in the news, read her a story, or ruffle his hair as I go by. Don't discount the cumulative effect of these everyday interactions, repeated over and over, to make an impact.

Also, we work together.

When I recall the times I've felt closest to my husband, most of them are when we're teammates working toward a common goal. In the same way, bonding time with your kids can happen just as easily on a trip to the grocery store or pulling weeds in the yard as it can happen in a bowling alley or a mani-pedi place.

Helping my kid outline an overwhelming school project might not be as fun as going out for pizza, but if the end result is a strong connection and a kid who knows I care, what really is the difference?

My one caveat is that older kids, around the time they hit puberty, do need some regular alone time with a parent. They're going through murkier feelings that can't exactly be discussed over a family round of Uno with the 4-year-old listening on.

Luckily, teenagers are night owls who need to be taxied to the orthodontist and soccer practice, providing plenty of opportunities to talk after the little kids have gone to bed or while you're alone together in the car. (Incidentally, eliminating the pressure of eye contact makes the car the absolute best place for difficult parent-teen conversations.)

One-on-one time is the holy grail of parenting... or is it?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

So in answer to the question "How do you make time for all of those kids?" I suppose I'd say I've never kept a mental spreadsheet of how many parent-child dates we've been on with which kid and when.

Instead, I've focused on having frequent relationship-building moments with every one of them, no matter how ordinary the moments or how many other people are in the room.

If my husband and I are worried about one child in particular, we have no problems giving that kid a hug and taking him out for ice cream.

But in general, I think they're just fine knowing mom and dad love them. With or without a special date to the putt-putt place.

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Friday, August 31, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Feeling Pressured, Scaring Away the Menfolk, and Guessing the Identity of the Ringmaster

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


I got a new phone! Well, new to me, anyway. It's a refurbished phone 3 generations newer than my previous phone and I love love love that the camera is so much better.

I'll tell you what is stressful, though: shopping for a phone case. I don't know why, but I feel so much pressure to pick The Right One that is totally representative of my personality. Which is dumb because a case is $10 (not exactly a once-in-a-lifetime purchase if I change my mind) and I'm literally wearing hand-me-downs from my 14-year-old so it's not like I care about customizing all other aspects of my appearance.

(I ended up going with this one. It's not flashy but it looks really nice with the rose gold color of my phone.)


Speaking of my appearance, I can honestly say I've had better weeks.

Right now I've got a swollen lump on my eyelid (no pictures, sorry/you're welcome.) It's about the size of a pea, which doesn't sound that big but when compared to the size of your eye it really is.

I've also got a nasty poison ivy rash all over my ankles from pulling weeds in the yard. This was kind of a shock because I'd never before gotten a rash and there's so much poison ivy around here I'd kind of assumed I was immune. The oozing blisters on my calves, however, say otherwise.

The family was playing Taboo (a word guessing game,) and when the clue-giver said "It's gross," the first and second responses were "Mom's eye" and "Mom's leg."

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, forgetting to put on my wedding ring before I leave the house now isn't that big a deal. The gentlemen are keeping their distance, regardless.


While my oldest three were visiting their grandparents for a week and a half, Phillip and I took the littles to a children's theme park geared toward the 8-and-under crowd.

I've been ridiculously excited about this trip all summer, and the kids loved it just like I knew they would. At 2, 4, and 6, they are the perfect ages for this.

We all had such a good time. We rode the teacups. We went on the carousel. We took the train around the park and I saw a 7-year-old wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt. (Must listen to a lot of Dark Side of the Moon under the slide at recess or something.)

I also spied this freak-out room at the park and decided I really need one of these installed in my house.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
A dark, quiet place for overstimulated children to decompress.

Just to be clear, in my house the room would be for me.


When my older kids came home, I arrived at the airport to pick them up with plenty of time to spare.

But when I got to ticketing, the agent looked at me and said "You know this flight arrives in 20 minutes, don't you?" They were over an hour early. How does that even happen on a 3-hour flight??

So I got my special ticket, booked it through security, grabbed my stuff as it came through the X-ray machine and ran through the terminal (luckily, I was wearing my cross-training flip flops.)

I got to their gate at 4:10, five minutes after the agent told me they were supposed to land, and there was no one there. No plane. No boarding agent. Nothing. Confused, I looked up the flight status on my phone and they were only going to be 15 minutes early, not an hour like the guy had told me.

FYI, the first thing my daughter said when I hugged them hello was, "What's wrong with your eye??" It's good to have them home.


My 14-year-old is really bad at hearing song lyrics correctly. When she knows she's heard way wrong she sometimes tells us about it and we have a good laugh.

Most recently, the Spice Girls came on the radio and she shared that for a long time she thought they were singing, "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get rid of my friends."

I was trying to remember the names of the Spice Girls as I watched this video, using my memories of '90s pop culture and what they were wearing for context clues.

The one in athletic pants must be Sporty Spice, and I know Victoria Beckham was Posh Spice, and I remembered there was a Baby Spice who was probably the one in pigtails... but what about the girl wearing the sequined leotard? Circus Spice? I had no idea. I had to look it up.


We listed a small assortment of ceramic floor tiles on our local Freecycle group, and I was thrilled when someone wanted them since there weren't enough of them to actually tile anything.

The time we arranged for her to come over and pick them up, though, happened to be the exact time my 2-year-old was outside scraping dirt off the driveway with a garden hoe while wearing a bike helmet. She looked a little suspicious as she pulled in.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Probably not what she expected to see when picking up the tiles.

But her surprise was probably just because I'm such a good mom. By leaving full-size gardening tools lying around and letting the kids roam, we provide so many enrichment opportunities for imaginative play, sometimes I even surprise myself.


Next week the kids head back to school, and it's always a little sad to say goodbye to summer.

All the school supplies have been bought and put in backpacks. We went to the classroom meet-and-greet for my 1st grader's teacher. My 12- and 14-year-old went to an end-of-summer party at the beach with our church's youth group.

However, my 10-year-old did point out that it's only a party if you do it at the beginning of summer. At the end, it's called a funeral.

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