Wednesday, April 25, 2018

50 Perfectly Legitimate Reasons to Freak Out When You're a Toddler

Sometimes my toddler will be having a Phase 4 Meltdown over the fact that my shoes won't stay on his feet and my 12-year-old will sigh and say, "It must be hard being a toddler."

And boy, is she ever right, because here's a list of all the completely legitimate reasons toddlers have to straight-up lose it over the course of a normal few days:

#34: You can't pick up a spoon because you're already holding one.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

1. The socks you put on your hands didn't have spaces for your thumbs like real mittens.

2. There was nothing in your cup after you dumped it out.

3. Your mom cut up your food and now it's broken.

4. Someone offered you a slice of cheese.

5. The laws of gravity applied to the block tower you're building.

6. Your dad failed to give you the right-colored cup.

7. You got a haircut.

8. Your stuffed animal wouldn't sit up by itself.

9. Your mom threw away the food you refused to eat.

10. Your hand got stuck in the printer.

11. Your mom stopped picking up your spoon after the 14th time.

12. You couldn't fit through the cat door.

13. Someone will not let you climb in the oven.

14. Your mom put overalls on you.

15. Somebody offered you a Hot Wheels car you didn't particularly want.

16. Your parent buckled your seat belt.

17. Someone ate the Goldfish cracker you specifically offered to them.

18. Your dad showed you how your new pull-back toy works.

19. You put on a bike helmet for fun and couldn't get it off.

20. Your mom turned the books on your bookshelf right side out.

21. Your dinosaur shirt was in the laundry.

22. Your mom wouldn't let you eat a rock.

23. A large object couldn't fit inside a smaller one.

24. Feeding yourself was messy.

25. Your parents won't let you hit your brother with a perfectly good piece of cardboard you found.

26. Your mom said your dad is at work.

27. Two puzzle pieces you grabbed completely at random and placed in an equally random orientation wouldn't fit together.

28. Your mom made dinner.

29. You were asked not to trample through the neatly folded laundry.

30. Someone picked you up.

31. Someone put you down.

32. The bird you were looking at flew away.

33. Your dad keeps catching you when you jump into the pool.

#34: You can't pick up a spoon because you're already holding one.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

34. You couldn't pick up a spoon because you're already holding one.

35. Your mom wouldn't let you scrub the shower with her toothbrush.

36. There are no more bananas in the house.

37. Things fell out of your bucket when you tipped it over.

38. You drew on yourself and now there's drawing all over you.

39. Your mom sat down.

40. Your parent wouldn't let you eat out of the trash.

41. The toilet flush made a noise.

42. The tape was sticky.

43. The dirt was dirty.

44. The water was wet.

45. Your dad wouldn't let you wear snow boots to bed.

46. The iPad was dead.

47. You closed the door and now it's shut.

48. The Barbie shoe would not fit on your foot.

49. Your mom made eye contact with you.

50. The wheeled, swiveling desk chair had wheels. And it swiveled.

See? Being a toddler is hard. Just imagine having this list of problems that's longer than you are tall  if you did, you'd have some serious anger management issues, too.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

This Is What Happened When I Let My Daughter Ride the Subway Alone

This post contains my affiliate link. Translation: if you buy something using a link here, I'll receive a commission for referring you.

Recently I saw a video called "Things We Still Ask Our Moms." It was supposed to be funny, but I can't say for sure because I passed out at the sight of grown women calling home to ask their mothers how to do laundry, make a dentist appointment, and even soften a stick of butter. (I was feeling physical pain by the 20-second mark, so be careful and watch at your own risk.)

Hopefully that video isn't representative of all young adults today, but it's a fact that more and more kids are growing up and leaving the house without the basic skills grown-ups need.

Some mothers do their teenagers' laundry and clean their rooms for them; one mom I knew always cut up her 16-year-old daughter's pancakes. (When she asked "What are you going to do when you go to a restaurant on a date?" her daughter answered, "I'll order something I don't need to cut.")

I can't make this stuff up, people.

Raising my kids to become independent, self-sufficient, hard-working adults is kind of an obsession for me. When I consider the sheer volume of things I want my kids to be able to do for themselves by age 18 and how fast their time at home really goes, I feel the pressure. (My favorite book on the subject is The Parenting Breakthrough, which details the value of kids who work and lists age-appropriate tasks so that, you know, your 20-year-old doesn't call home one day asking how to boil an egg.)

In addition to "hard skills" like washing dishes and sweeping floors, I also think a lot about how I can help my kids develop "soft skills." Specifically, I want them to have the confidence to face difficult situations instead of avoiding them, and the resourcefulness to solve problems instead of running away from them.

Which is why I did something that made other parents raise an eyebrow: every day last week, I dropped my 13-year-old daughter off at the subway station with my phone, $20, a bottle of water, and a wave good-bye.

You see, she'd enrolled in a painting class at an art museum in the city about an hour from here. She's a fantastic artist and would of course gain some useful art skills in class, but truthfully I was way more excited for the life skills she was going to learn from getting there on her own.

Questions people asked ranged from "She's how old?" to "She can do that?" to "Are you comfortable with that?"  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

When I told other parents that my daughter was riding the subway to the class herself, their reactions varied from "Really? How old is did you say she was?" to "Wow, she can do that?"

One person even offered to go with her, but I had to explain that it wasn't a schedule conflict that prevented me from depositing her at the front door of the museum every day  I just wanted her to do it herself.

Another question I got asked was: "Are you comfortable with that?"

Of the dozen or so times I've ridden the subway here, I've never felt unsafe. Our subway system doesn't have a reputation for excessive crime. Realistically speaking, the worst-case scenario was that she'd miss her stop or get on the wrong train when she transferred lines, and be late for class.

Since we're not avid subway-riders, I did go on the train with my daughter the first day. I told her I was just going along to show her how to read the subway maps and the next day, I'd just drop her off at the station and pick her back up in 5 hours.

So what happened when I let her ride the subway on her own?

Absolutely nothing.

Well, let me rephrase that. Absolutely nothing bad happened. She wasn't hurt, taken advantage of, kidnapped, or mugged.

But plenty of good things happened.

The first good thing that happened was that she gained confidence in herself. By the end of the week she was hopping out of the car knowing she could get wherever she needed to go. Her world was bigger than it had been at the beginning.

The second good thing was that she learned to problem-solve. When she tried to buy her ticket on her first solo day, the ticket machine wouldn't accept her money, and there was no attendant at the information booth to help her.

I was already halfway home when she called with her predicament and I told her, "Well, read the instructions on the machine and good luck figuring it out. If there's no attendant and you still can't get it to work, you'll have to ask some random person walking by for help."

So she did ask a random person for help, and a third good thing happened: she saw for herself that "stranger danger" is a dumb concept. Most strangers are not dangerous, evil, or psychotic. The majority of them aren't skulking around looking for opportunities to steal children. They're just nice people trying to catch their train. Be smart and obviously don't go down a dark alleyway with someone you don't know, but there's no reason to avoid interacting with a stranger at all costs.

It turned out that the ticket machine was broken, so the helpful stranger used his own ticket to pay my daughter's fare and let her into the subway. (She felt bad that he wouldn't let her pay him back, so I suggested she could pay it forward and be someone else's helpful subway stranger someday.)

And then a fourth good thing happened. There aren't ticket machines at every stop, meaning that she had to figure out how she was going to get a ticket for her return trip. She used the phone to look up which locations sold tickets, found one, and made an unscheduled stop to go up to street level and figure out how to buy one at the ticket kiosk before transferring lines and continuing on her way to art class. Then she called me to let me know she solved the problem.

Questions people asked ranged from "She's how old?" to "She can do that?" to "Are you comfortable with that?"  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
A pastel drawing by my daughter, circa 2017. Like I said, she's an amazing artist.

The most valuable thing my 13-year-old learned at art class last week had less to do with color and composition and everything to do with self-confidence. Unlike color theory, confidence isn't just a piece of information that can be taught. In order for her to internalize how capable she is, she's got to have opportunities to see that it's true.

So I loved sending my daughter off on the subway alone, and I would do it again. Because now the next time things go wrong and she doesn't know what to do, I think she'll be able to reach back to this moment and grab on to it, reminding herself, "It's okay. I don't need to feel scared, intimidated, inadequate, or defeated. I can figure this out."

And then she will.

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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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