Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Babies Don't Care

When you first had a baby, you were probably surprised at how deeply indifferent babies are to whatever is going on around them. In a word, babies just don't care.

Sometimes the very hardest part about having a baby is also the very best part.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Babies don't care that you've had to pee for the last fifty-two minutes. You'll just have to keep holding it until they're down for a nap, even though for every half-hour you spend shushing and soothing, you put them down for two seconds and they cry so hard you have to start all over again.

Babies don't care that your breakfast is sitting on the kitchen counter getting cold. After all, it doesn't make a difference to them if you keep reheating the same thing over and over, forgetting to eat it  because something more pressing comes up every time.

Babies don't care that the middle of the baking goods aisle at the grocery store is not a good place to poop so much it explodes up their back and into their hair. They really couldn't care less that the thought of lugging them and the entire cart to the bathroom for an epic diaper change and improvised sponge bath makes you want to cry.

Babies don't care that their older siblings need you, too. When they come home from school there are permission slips to be signed and friend drama to work out and homework to help with (although you have to Google how to do it yourself first.) But your baby wants your full attention and will wail so loudly you can't hear each other even if you're standing two feet apart and yelling.

Babies don't care when you're trying to make dinner. You take turns either speed-cooking with a screaming baby at your feet or trying to do everything one-handed while pudgy fingers grab for every spatula, plate, and measuring cup in sight.

Babies don't care that you've just collapsed into bed ten minutes ago, feeling crushed by an exhaustion so intense it's killed your short-term memory and your vocabulary. They will wake up crying anyway, and you'll somehow find the strength to heave yourself up out of bed and stumble over to the crib.

The baby will stop crying when you shuffle into view - because babies don't care that the purple circles beneath your eyes are as dark as eggplants. You may look like a hot mess, but they think you are beautiful.

You'll automatically run through the checklist: change the diaper, feed the tummy, find the pacifier, redo the swaddle. You'll sing an off-key song from the radio with lyrics you don't even know half of, and it will work because babies don't care if you can sing.

That's the thing about babies: they just don't care. Not that you permanently smell like sour milk. Not that you miss appointments and never return phone calls. Not that you haven't mopped the floor since they were born and may potentially never do it again.

You'll screw up practically every day and find that babies still (shockingly, inexplicably) don't care. You'll pinch a chubby thigh in the car seat. You'll forget the diapers, the bottle, and the blanket at home. You'll go for days before realizing their fussiness isn't just moodiness, it's an awful ear infection. You'll be slow to forgive yourself, but your baby won't be.

You really don't have a clue what you're doing, but they will just continue to love you anyway. Because babies don't care.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Herbal Lies, Why Phillip Needs a Hazmat Suit for Christmas, and Choosing Vegetables Over Ice Cream

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


The grocery store was out of fresh cut basil in packages but they did have little basil plants, so I decided to get one. After all, they weren't much more expensive and I'd heard that herbs were easy to grow and impossible to kill.

Challenge accepted.

Elapsed time: 3 days. It's like I'm a wizard or something.


Like we do every Christmastime, I took the four older kids to go see The Nutcracker. I wish it had been later in the season but Thanksgiving weekend was our only choice for the ballet company we wanted to see.

And let me tell you that explaining to a preschooler when the mouse king dies that yes, he really dies in the story but no, the story is not really happening and yes, there is a person in that mouse costume but no, the person doesn't actually die in real life is harder than it sounds.


Just to wrap up a magical evening, we had a motion sickness situation in the backseat on the way home from The Nutcracker.

It happened only 7 minutes from home (7 very long, very smelly minutes) so we just kept driving. Partly because it was freezing outside and I'd rather ask Phillip to clean it up than do it myself.

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

I wish this was a staged picture we took just to be funny, but Phillip seriously wore this out to the car. And he STILL came in dry heaving before going back out to finish the job.

As I watched this happen I was reminded of several occasions listening to him loudly retching in the next room as he changed the diapers of our first few children.

All I can say is that the man has a sensitive stomach and he really, really loves our kids.


My daughter's home preschool co-op was at our house on Monday, and since the lesson of the day was on the letter i, we all made ice cream.

(No pictures because 5 preschoolers jumping around with gallon Ziploc bags full of ice dripping water everywhere is kind of a Code Red situation that commanded all of my attention.)

"Do you want some?" I asked my 2-year-old as I dished out the finished ice cream.

"No," he said. "Want an avocado."

So we all sat around the table, us with heaping bowls of ice cream and him with a spoon and half of an avocado.

This wasn't very surprising because he doesn't care for sweets and never has. Over Thanksgiving weekend we made 4 pies, and he consumed a total of 0 bites. I'm fairly convinced that an alien race planted him in our family to observe Earth life.


In exciting blog news, the Unremarkable Files Facebook page hit 2k likes! I was hoping to break 2,000 by Christmas so thanks to everyone who helped me get there early.

That's 2,000 people I'm apparently making feel better with posts like this:

Or this:

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

Or this:

Or this:

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

When I told Phillip 2,000 people had liked the page he said, "Wow! And just think, for all those fans there are probably 2,000 more people who know you and don't like you!"

I think he was trying to express admiration for how famous I'm getting. I think.


I've had my new phone for a while now, but I just noticed something about it this week. The GPS is so congratulatory when I arrive at my destination!

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
You made it! Stellar work, you go-getter, you.

If possible, I would also like it to celebrate when I mop the floor and/or remember to put the laundry in the dryer. I'll be in touch with the Samsung people about this.


Lastly, congratulations to Crystal and Melinda for winning last week's Advent giveaway

Every day of December they'll be reading new a Bible verse with discussion points about Christ and coloring a pretty ornament for the tree.

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

If you missed or didn't win the giveaway, you can also buy the Names of Christ Advent Devotional through my affiliate link by clicking here: Buy Now

Yes, I know it's already the 2nd but is there really anybody who does every day of an Advent devotional without missing a day or two or ten? Or is that just us?

Anyway, you could be a glass half-full person and think of ordering now as being super ahead of the game for next year.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The 5 Stages of Having a Carsick Child

Few things in life are more anxiety-inducing than being trapped behind the wheel of a moving vehicle with a child who's about to lose her lunch.

Who knows why some parents suffer while others go unpunished, but if you're one of the unlucky ones with motion sick kids you know perfectly the dread that hits when a little voice in the backseat says, "Mom, I don't feel so good..."

Your stomach drops into your shoes. Your pupils dilate. And you begin to work your way through the 5 stages of having a carsick child.

From denial to acceptance, here's everything that goes on inside your head when a little voice in the backseat say, "Mom, I don't feel so good..."  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

1. Denial

It's fine. Hardly worth acknowledging, really. After all, you're a mom, and your little people are always complaining about some minor ailment every 5 and a half seconds. Wasn't this particular child just moaning about a bump on her lip, and a few minutes before that it was a week-old cut on her finger? Whatever. It's nothing.

2. Anger

She's said it two more times now, and your knuckles are turning white from anxiously clutching the steering wheel. Why does this always happen when it's you driving and not your husband? Why were you so stupid to let her read a book in the car? Why didn't you bring some wipes or plastic bags or something to clean up? And more importantly, WHY ARE THERE NO EXITS ON THIS FREEWAY?! You curse yourself, your husband, your dog, the state highway department, and every single character in that miserable book in your child's lap.

3. Bargaining

Don't panic. Maybe you can still fix this before it's too late. Your voice climbs one, two octaves as you beg your child to focus on anything other than how queasy she feels. What if you roll down the windows and get some fresh air? Want to play the alphabet game? The license plate game? Is it too late for Dramamine? You start yelling at the other kids in the car. Quiet down and fan your sister's face! You'll buy a pony for whoever can stop her from puking all over the upholstery.

4. Depression

The fresh air isn't working. In fact, it's made her feel worse. Your shoulders have begun to droop as hope has slowly and steadily leaked from your soul. Despondently, you look in the rearview mirror to see your child slumped in the backseat with her head lolling back. She is literally turning green. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

5. Acceptance

You realize now you've been simply postponing the inevitable. A strange resolve creeps back into your posture. It's going to be okay. You've cleaned this up before and you can do it again. You are strong. You are a warrior. And best of all, you see an exit up ahead. "Sweetie," you say, your voice brightening, "We're getting off the freeway. Can you hang on until we pull ov-"

Never mind, she's already completing the second leg of her round-trip meal ticket. Pandemonium ensues as the other kids try to heave themselves through the windows of the still-moving vehicle to get away.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

6 Perfect Gifts for Practical People

Do you have someone on your gift list who is so practical it's almost impossible to buy anything for them?

I feel your pain, because I'm that person. I know how hard it is for my friends and family. I don't ask for much and I hate it when anybody "wastes" money, even if it's on a nice gesture like buying me flowers (hello, they just die!)

But there are certain gifts that are just so darn useful that I have absolutely loved them. If you know someone who's as practical to a fault as I am, you should definitely give them one of these 6 perfectly practical gifts. And then maybe get them some professional help.

What can you get someone who never asks for anything and only wants "useful" gifts at holidays?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I own and love each of these products personally, and I've linked to each one with my affiliate link. When you buy through these links, I get a small commission but it doesn't affect the cost for you.

What can you get someone who never asks for anything and only wants "useful" gifts at holidays?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Silicone Baking Cups

I asked for silicone muffin cups for my birthday for years, and no one thought I was serious. I was. Finally someone took the hint and these things are my all-time favorite gift, ever.

Practical people hate waste, and buying silly paper liners to throw away always killed me. Now the muffins pop right out of the silicone cups once they've cooled (my kids love doing that part.) As a perfectionist it always bothered me when my recipe didn't make a perfect dozen and left empty cups in the muffin pan, but now I can put the exact number of cups I need on a baking sheet.

There couldn't be anything more efficient or perfect, really. Silicone cups are also easier to wash and take up less space in the cupboard than the big metal pan.

What can you get someone who never asks for anything and only wants "useful" gifts at holidays?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Fels Naptha Laundry Bars

I can hear you rolling your eyes right now. Soap? I am not giving anybody soap for Christmas, you say. But this isn't just any soap. This soap is magical in its stain-fighting properties. Your friend will think you're a wizard.

You know how some people swear by coconut oil and use it in place of toothpaste, deodorant, and gasoline? That's me with Fels Naptha, almost. I grate it up and use it to make my own laundry detergent, but I also keep a bar by the washing machine to pre-treat stains.

It can take out almost any stain, even set-in ones. If my family has to listen to me regale them with the story of how I used Fels Naptha to remove a pitcher of red Crystal Light from our beige rug one more time, they're probably going to scream.

What can you get someone who never asks for anything and only wants "useful" gifts at holidays?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Oreck XL Vacuum Cleaner

My Oreck, how I love thee. Let me count the ways: one, you weigh 9 lbs and that's less than some newborns. That means my kids can even haul you upstairs and vacuum their own rooms. Theoretically, anyway.

Two, you are simple and therefore easy to fix. I don't need every type of feature, attachment, and indicator light known to man; I just want to be able to suck up dirt and the occasional Lego. My friends' huge, clunky deluxe machines need replacing every few years, but if you stop working I know that the bag is full or a belt is broken, and that's about all that can go wrong.

As a result, the Oreck vacuum we bought 12 years ago (I'll let that sink in a little) is still going strong.

What can you get someone who never asks for anything and only wants "useful" gifts at holidays?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Heated Mattress Pad

We've had electric blankets before, but the trouble is (aside from them dying on us quickly) that heat rises. If we wanted a warm bed we had to first make the bed (sorry, I don't do it in the morning) and turn the blanket on for 15 minutes to heat up the mattress. And who has that kind of foresight? Not me.

Getting a mattress pad warmer is skipping the middle man. Now instead of lying on a cold mattress with a warm blanket on top of us, we get a warm mattress AND a warm blanket. How could I not love this model of efficiency?

Also, you control the temperature separately for each side, which is great because I like to blast it up to inferno and then turn it to low once I get in bed and Phillip likes to keep it at medium all night.

What can you get someone who never asks for anything and only wants "useful" gifts at holidays?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

USB Heated Fingerless Gloves

I can hardly think of a more practical gift than this, since my hands tend to get cold when I type and I'm almost always working at my computer doing practical things. (Watching funny videos on YouTube qualifies as research for a humor blogger, so technically speaking, it's practical.)

I've tried a lot of different solutions. Space heaters don't directly warm my hands, but these plug right into my computer and warm up a heated pad inside each glove itself. The fingerless-ness is awesome because it doesn't interfere with my typing, and I don't know what the material is (Amazon just says "soft plush") but it feels like the downy fuzz of the softest baby chinchilla in all the world.

What can you get someone who never asks for anything and only wants "useful" gifts at holidays?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer

We've had our Kitchen Aid for 10 years and I use it at least 3 or 4 times a week. Practical people are always making food because we can do it better, cheaper, and healthier at home.

This thing is as sturdy as a tank but so pretty you can just leave it out on your counter 24/7. It mixes flawlessly and enables my incorrigible multitasking in the kitchen since I can let it do its thing while I prep another part of the meal.

Kitchen Aid makes this thing in a bazillion colors, and even get me started on the number of attachments you can buy.

Every time I use one of these practical gifts, even after years and years, I can't help but think to myself, "I love this thing." And that, for a practical person, really does make the best holiday gift of all.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Seating Arrangements to Get Excited About, Being Mocked by Wild Turkeys, and What My Baby Has In Common With Crumbly Pastries

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


You know you're a tired old adult when you get excited about a chair. 

Over the weekend a friend organized a trip to see a movie at a theater I'd never been to, and I was probably way too excited at seeing the gigantic leather recliners we got to sit in once we got there.

I will definitely be going there again. Even if there's not a movie playing, I'd be willing to pay $12.50 to sit in one of those again for a few hours.


Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful... for the long weekend that is such a good time to throw away all the crap in your house. Week Two of becoming a minimalist and it went really well.

While Phillip cooked an entire Thanksgiving feast downstairs from scratch, I sequestered myself in the kids' rooms upstairs and spent an entire morning gleefully throwing away broken Transformers, full coloring books, plastic birthday party favors, and Pokemon cards the kids haven't touched in a year.

Every now and then I'd skip downstairs with a trash bag headed to the garbage or Goodwill and tell Phillip, "I'm having such a good time!"

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

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This photo might lead you to believe I wasn't in my pajamas until 5 minutes before dinner.

Dinner was wonderful, we had pumpkin pie for dessert, and the kids finished off the night by playing tag outside in the dark with some glow sticks left over from Halloween. They loved that part so much I think we just might make it a yearly thing.


On the way home from the grocery store:

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

This was the end of a line of 16 turkeys crossing the road.

I think they did it just to taunt me because I'd literally just gotten back from buying a Thanksgiving turkey.

Had I but known, I could've just gone easy on the brakes and had myself a few free turkeys! They'd have been fresher than the one in the trunk that had probably been sitting frozen in the Jennie-O warehouse since March, too.


I realize this is a little late, but keep in mind for next year, vegetarians:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Apple, candy corn, raisins, toothpicks, and a ton of marshmallows equals turkey.

Because tofurkys are weird.


In other food-related news, I'm now putting Crisco on my baby.

I've had other kids with eczema before, but as the weather turned colder a few weeks ago his previously smooth skin exploded into the worst flare-up I've ever seen. We've tried lots of things (up to and including processed vegetable shortening) but so far, he's still red and itchy.

Any suggestions? Slathering him in Crisco seems like it's at least keeping it from getting worse, but it also makes me feel like I'm getting him ready to pop in the oven.


My kids were pretty excited to watch Sound of Music for the first time. In fact, they were getting so excited I was worried it wasn't going to live up to their hype. Trying to tamp down their enthusiasm I said, "Now remember, this is an old movie and-"

"We know, they didn't have action back then," one of the kids finished for me.

Well, sort of.

Other notable moments from our viewing:

  • 10-year-old asking, "Why isn't anybody on the bus looking at her? Did people just randomly burst into song a lot more back then?"
  • The kids guessing why the Von Trapp family needed a governess: "The guy hates people and the kids are really bad. Well, bad for back then. Now they'd probably seem pretty good."
  • When Maria went back to the abbey and asked Revered Mother for advice, which she gave by turning to the window and singing; the kids thought it would be hilarious if on Sunday, we went in to get some spiritual guidance from our bishop and he did the same thing.
Also, when the Von Trapp family finished singing at the concert, my daughter gave them a slow clap.


Looking ahead, December is coming! I hope that in all the busyness of the month we never get too busy to help another person out.

Here's a short video about this year's #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign, and mark your calendar so you can do something (big or small) for someone on December 1st:

You can find a few easy ideas in this free download (created by yours truly for a church activity last week). What are your favorite small and simple ways to help somebody else out?

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Most Long-Lasting and Played-With Toys (From a Mom of 6)

Even a modest Christmas for our 6-kid family means a huge proliferation of STUFF. And I can't stand when half of it breaks or gets forgotten about a few days later.

We don't have room for 6 separate sets of half-broken toys that don't get played with very often. Any toy we have must be:

  1. durable enough to be passed down from one kid to the next
  2. interesting enough to be used for years
  3. versatile enough to be played with by multiple age groups

Gathered from my decade of mothering, here are some of the very best ones, test-driven by all 6 of my kids.
Test-driven by all 6 of my kids, here is a list of toys that have lasted a long time, appealed to multiple ages of kids, and I've never regretted buying.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy anything the cost stays the same to you but I get a small commission.

Test-driven by all 6 of my kids, here is a list of toys that have lasted a long time, appealed to multiple ages of kids, and I've never regretted buying.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

KEVA Structures

We almost didn't buy this 200-plank set of construction blocks because hello, they're just rectangular planks. But because of their size and precision cut, the kids use them to make the coolest and most intricate things long after they've outgrown other sets of building blocks.

We regularly see everyone from the 12-year-old down to the 2-year-old building with these on the floor. We bought a second set (Keva Contraptions, comes with 200 planks and a few ping pong balls to make ball runs) so everyone could have enough.

They are, hands down, the one block set I'd keep if I was told I could only have one. I like them even better than Legos because I don't have to worry about the baby choking if he gets his hands on one.

Test-driven by all 6 of my kids, here is a list of toys that have lasted a long time, appealed to multiple ages of kids, and I've never regretted buying.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

38" Trampoline

This was technically a gift for our son when he was 6 as a way to burn off energy during the winter months in his room. The compact size is good for one person to jump at a time and doesn't take up too much floor space.

It's been in his room for 2 years now and I constantly hear kids upstairs jumping on it, even the older kids relieving stress during homework breaks. It's an adult exercise trampoline with  a 200-lb weight limit so theoretically even I could use it although any woman who's birthed 6 children knows better than to ever get on a trampoline.

Test-driven by all 6 of my kids, here is a list of toys that have lasted a long time, appealed to multiple ages of kids, and I've never regretted buying.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Magic Moves Wand

Generally I'm not a fan of toys with batteries, but this one isn't loud or annoying so I guess it can stay. And the kids love it. The voice tells them to "swim like a fish" or "jump like a kangaroo" and then plays music to match the action while they do it.

This wand is obviously most popular with the 2- to 4-year-old set. But honestly, all the kids get on the bandwagon being silly with it if they're in the right mood. I find it all over the house (even in the bathroom,) which means that it gets a lot of mileage.

Test-driven by all 6 of my kids, here is a list of toys that have lasted a long time, appealed to multiple ages of kids, and I've never regretted buying.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


I first saw this at the children's play area in the library and knew our 6-, 8-, and 10-year olds would love it.

Kids have to tilt the ball every which way to get a marble through a really complex obstacle course. The obstacles are numbered so they can keep track of where they are and compare with each other ("I'm on 42, where have you gotten to?")

They also liked Perplexus Epic, which their grandpa got them the following year. There's also a Rookie version for younger kids but we haven't tried that one yet.

Test-driven by all 6 of my kids, here is a list of toys that have lasted a long time, appealed to multiple ages of kids, and I've never regretted buying.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Wee Waffle Blocks

We got a huge garbage bag of these at a yard sale for $2 once and it was the best $2 we ever spent. I'd say these are used the most by our kids in the 4-10 age range, but even the preteens build these with their preschool siblings. It's a simple idea that can make an awful lot (scroll down for a picture in this post if you don't believe me.)

When I sat down to write this post, I was shocked to find that Little Tikes isn't making these anymore: no wonder the world is going to you-know-where in a handbasket. But you can still find them through private sellers or on eBay! 

Test-driven by all 6 of my kids, here is a list of toys that have lasted a long time, appealed to multiple ages of kids, and I've never regretted buying.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Busy Ball Popper

Again, batteries. Changing them is annoying. But I'm willing to do it because our 1- to 4-year-olds love this ball popper. Even the kids who are way too old will still jump in if they see their little sibling playing with it.

The Christmas morning we gave this to our toddler, we had to keep shooing the big kids out of the way so he could play with his own present. In fact, after watching my kids use it over the years I'm convinced it's way funner in a group than one kid alone because they're all laughing at each other and running after the balls.

These are just a few of the toys we own that have lasted a long time and appealed to multiple ages of kids in our house. Purchases that I've never, ever regretted making.

What's on your list of best value for your money toys?

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Friday, November 18, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Breakfast Pie, Not Taking Pictures of Your Swordfish, and Good Names for Internet Villians

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


Who's gearing up for Thanksgiving? We are, and at the Evans household that means testing out new kinds of pie so we can pick The Ones for the big day.

I personally don't care about getting the pies exactly right, but Phillip does. Actually, he just likes to eat (and therefore bake) pies and is using "testing for Thanksgiving" as an excuse.

And I have to admit that "doing research for Thanksgiving" sounds a lot more respectable than "eating pie for breakfast two days this week."


At the recommendation of several friends, I've started reading Simplicity Parenting and it turns out you can't read it without wanting to throw away every piece of junk you own. At least I can't.

I started with our gigantic game cupboard: it was crammed to overflowing, with many games we don't play or games missing pieces that were eaten by the baby long ago.

My 12-year-old must've seen the frenzied look in my eyes as I ripped everything out and started piling up boxes, because she asked "Mom, you really like to throw stuff away, don't you?"

Well, after tossing or donating half the contents of the game cupboard my new favorite thing to do in my free time is throw open the doors and fawn over the beautifully organized inside. So yes. Yes, I do.


When my sweet friend Bridget got me out of the house to go out for dinner, the presentation of my food was so gorgeous I really wanted to take a picture. But whenever I think about photographing my food in public my next thought is always this guy:

So anyway, no picture. But really, the food was beautiful and  delicious. Ordinarily I don't even like seafood, and I ate every bite.

It's possible that my glowing review was partly influenced by the fact that:
  1. I haven't been anywhere without kids since my 6-month-old was born,
  2. I haven't eaten out in longer than that unless you count room service in the maternity ward, and
  3. At home we've been known to eat meals that look like this:
It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @Unremarkable Files}
I don't mean to brag, but I'm sort of an accomplished food arsonist.

I'm not saying we eat like this all the time, but it happens.


This week my oldest daughter's church youth group put on a special program. Each girl put together a display and showcased a 10-hour project she completed in Personal Progress, which is like a church version of the girl scout merit badge program.

As I watched the different girls talk about their projects I was struck by how much I love the Personal Progress program. At a time when teens left to their own devices might just hide in solitude behind their earbuds, Personal Progress gives them productive things to do with their families.

One girl composed a piano duet and played it with her mom. Another did a family hike up a mountain. Someone else made her prom dress with her aunt.

My daughter learned how to cook and then taught her younger sister, so her display was easy: just bring in some kitchen paraphernalia. However, finding presentable-looking kitchen tools in our house is easier said than done.

Let's see, should we send it the cheese grater with the broken top? The handle-less serving spoon? The pot with the lid I burned so badly it's permanently discolored? The spatula with the giant gouge melted off from when it fell onto the heating element in the dishwasher?

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @Unremarkable Files}
Still in active daily use. You don't get to go on disability if you're an Evans kitchen tool. You work for us until the day you drop dead.

So many ways to say mediocrity in the kitchen, each one more impressive than the last.


Is anyone having trouble posting comments to my blog? I got an email from a reader saying that their comments weren't posting, even when they used a different device.

As I write this, it occurs to me that if you're having a similar problem you can't comment to answer this question. But maybe you could email me? Send me a Facebook message?

If this is happening to other people too, I'm going to install a new commenting widget so I can hear from all of you.


According to what I read on the Internet and the merchandise I'm seeing in CVS, I should've started my Christmas shopping in August. By now I'm probably supposed to be finished with that and shopping for next year.

Buuuuut I haven't done a blessed thing yet except for setting up an Advent giveaway for you guys.

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

Don't make me feel like the lady who slaves over a hot stove making a dinner no one eats. Go here to read a review and enter to win a digital copy of the Names of Christ Advent Devotional created by my artist friend Heidi using Bible verses and some sweet Zentangle action. Your kids will love it.


My cub scout is learning about Internet safety for his Cyber Chip, and I've been dying laughing listening to him work through the videos and games he's required to watch and do.

In the "netiquette" section, he played a video game with different bad guys exemplifying bad netiquette. My favorite was Pottymouth Pete, who grumbled unintelligible curses whenever he was onscreen just like Joe Pesci in Home Alone. 

Just to see how you'd do if you were earning your Cyber Chip, try to answer this quiz question I overheard:

If you see something online that makes you sad, scared, or confused, what should you do?

A) scream real loud
B) tell a trusted adult
C) do a little dance

I thought that one was a trick question, though, because I don't think A is supposed to be the answer but aren't kids always screaming real loud?

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