Friday, May 25, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Tiny Terrorists at the Orchestra, Questionable Energy Savings, and a True Story That Tells You All You Need to Know About Parenthood

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


My older kids invented this game where they all call the youngest "Sir" and frantically scramble to serve him. It's actually quite hilarious.

The youngest (who is 2) naturally has no idea what's going on, but right now he's sitting in the cushion fort they built around him with a snack and a huge smile as four other kids trip over each other offering him things and going "Yes, Sir! Right away, Sir! Whatever you need, Sir! Would this make Sir more comfortable?"

People think kids in a big family don't get enough attention, but in reality, most of the time it's like this. There's a lot of love to go around, and bonus points if you managed to be the youngest sibling — the benefits of having a very large universe revolving around you go to the baby of a big family. I mean, to Sir.


I turned 36 on Tuesday so happy birthday to me! My two oldest kids were out of town on a school trip and my son was at soccer tryouts, though, so we decided to postpone it until the weekend.

Meaning my birthday was a totally normal day, the highlight of which was fishing shards of glass out of the garbage disposal from a Pyrex container falling in the sink.

However, Phillip has been clandestinely working on a cake and dropping cryptic hints about a present I'm going to love, so I'm looking forward to celebrating properly this weekend.


During my daughter's orchestra concerts, Phillip and I either tag team it or leave the younger kids at home with the 14-year-old. But since the 14-year-old was on the school trip and we both wanted to see the last concert of the year, we decided to just take everybody.

After sitting quietly for about 10 minutes, the novelty wore off for the 2-year-old and things quickly devolved into a terrorist situation.

The fear of having him erupt into screams in the middle of Vivaldi's Concerto in G Major was so high we did things we never thought we'd do as parents, including kicking his brother out of his own seat because the 2-year-old decided he wanted to sit there and encouraging him to draw on my money and scatter my credit cards all over the aisle as long as he did it quietly.

We caved to every unreasonable demand he made faster than you can say "taking you here was a huge mistake."


During a pit stop at the orchestra concert (in addition to being terrorists, little kids also have bladders the size of walnuts) I noticed this drinking fountain outside the restroom:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The LED display at the top right says: "Helped eliminate waste from _____ disposable plastic bottles."

Initially I thought keeping track of the waste you prevented was pretty cool, but then I realized the energy used to operate the LED display 24/7 was in itself wasteful.

Also, was I the only one seized with an immature urge to run the water just to see the numbers on the display go up? Tell me I'm not the only one.


We've been running a humidifier in my son's room all night because somehow the whole family caught a cold, and then the 2-year-old's cough turned into croup. Again.

I've been exhausted, between feeling sick myself and also being up all night with him because he can't sleep, but the silver lining is that my 6-year-old mispronounces 'humidifier' and keeps asking if we are going to turn on "The Humilitator."


My friend's husband went out of town, leaving her with two little boys who are bursting with superhuman amounts of energy all day long, so I watched them at my house to give her a break.

She was going to see a play and have a nice, relaxing time, but just after dropping the kids off she got a phone call about a plumbing emergency at her house and long story short, missed the play and spent her 3 hours of kid-free time at Home Depot picking out a new toilet.

Which is basically a perfect anecdote to share when people ask, "What's it like to have kids?"


I let myself get talked into signing up for a combination TurboKick/PiYo class (yes, I had to look up all those words, too.)

I was terribly scared because I've never taken a formal exercise class that costs real money, and I was afraid it might be too intense for me. I'm not exactly a hardcore fitness enthusiast; I still have sports bras in excellent condition that were purchased in high school.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I can handle it, even if I could barely walk the next day.

I also learned that paying for an 8 AM class doesn't give you the motivation to get up and out the door on time, which I'd kind of been banking on when I signed up in the first place.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

36 Things to Be Proud Of

It's my 36th birthday today, and if I was going to tell a socially appropriate joke I would say I'm turning 24... for the 12th year in a row, haha!

Maybe acting embarrassed about your age is merely a way of being self-depricating, sort of like how someone compliments your shirt and you feel compelled to confess that it came from a clearance rack at Kmart.

But really, ladies. We should be proud of our age. We earned it.

In honor of my birthday, here are 36 things from my life that I'm proud of:

1. Teaching myself to knit. Knitting is hard, and more than once did I throw down my needles in despair and wail, "I'M TOO DUMB TO KNIT!" But I kept going and so far I've made 3 scarves, a hat, a shawl, socks, a pair of fingerless gloves, some tree ornaments, and an entire man-sized sweater that I completed in secret for Phillip one Christmas. Too dumb to knit, indeed.

2. Raising six kids who love each other. I can't take all the credit, but I like to think the fact that my kids are each other's best friends has at least something to do with the way Phillip and I parented them.

3. Building a blog. When I decided to start a blog three years ago I had no idea what that would entail. I've poured hundreds of hours not just into writing, but into designing my site, learning HTML, networking with other bloggers, and promoting with social media.

4. Learning how to cook. My culinary skills when I became an adult all involved turning on the microwave. I could barely make Kraft mac and cheese. Now I cook dinner from scratch, send my kids to school with healthy homemade treats, and bake all our bread. I still don't like cooking, but I'm proud of having learned it.

5. Finishing college with an 11-month-old. It took me a semester or two longer to finish, and I may or may not have regularly nursed in the bathroom between British Literature and Philosophy, but I earned that bachelor's degree in English. That's true even if all I've read currently this month is Goodnight, Moon.

Growing older is something to be celebrated, not embarrassed by. What 36 things would be on your list?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

6. Being able to do 20 consecutive push-ups. That may not be a lot for some people, but it's a major accomplishment for me since I'm built like Popeye's girlfriend Olive Oyl.

7. Taking my family to church every Sunday. It's a habit in our house and part of what we do on Sundays; I'm glad we've made it something we automatically do, even on vacation.

8. Re-learning everything after a childhood surgery. After brain surgery when I was 10 I couldn't walk on my own, speech was difficult, and my penmanship looked like a 3-year-old's. I still have the notebook where I wrote "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" over and over in occupational therapy.

9. Buying a minivan in cash. I hate debt, and we've worked hard to avoid it. We saved up to buy our first minivan when I was pregnant with #3, and it was the biggest check I'd ever written.

10. Being the Mormonism writer for an online magazine. I once wrote for a now-defunct site called Suite 101 that was sort of the Canadian equivalent of In its heyday I made good money writing about Mormonism and whatever else I wanted, and they even sent me complimentary business cards with my name on them once.

11. Making money buying body wash. I'm big on couponing. Regularly, I enjoy free toothpaste/shampoo and the shocked silence of the cashiers at CVS when I walk away with ExtraCare Bucks worth more than what I spent. Occasionally our house contains things like vitamin supplements for post-menopausal women that we have no use for but were money-makers.

12. Not killing the class pet. Or any of the numerous animals we've pet sat over the years, actually. I can kill a plant just by looking at it, though, so don't even think about asking me to take care of your ferns while you're out of town.

13. Painting the front door red. I was scared to paint our plain white door for years. I finally did and loved how it looked  until our 4-year-old dented the crapola out of it with a tennis racket a few months later for no reason whatsoever.

14. Recording little things the kids said and did. I may be a failure at scrapbooking (according to my scrapbooks I have 3 children who are barely a year old, when in reality I have 6 kids and the oldest is a teenager) but I have more or less faithfully written down cute stories and funny mispronunciations from each one's childhood to look at when I'm old and gray.

15. Buying a bedding set I loved for $40. We just replaced it, but for 10+ years we had the most beautiful comforter, made even more beautiful by the fact it cost so little. (Hint: If you know someone who loves a bargain as much as I do, when they hold up a shopping bag and squeal "Guess how much all this cost???" do not respond by shrugging and guessing a ridiculous amount like $1. It will ruin their day.)

16. My natural VBAC. My fifth baby was born by C-section and I was devastated. Not really out of principle but because recovery was AWFUL in comparison. So I was thrilled when Baby #6 came via a drug-free VBAC that was the hardest, most intense thing I've ever done.

17. Learning a vector graphics software program. I got tired of asking Phillip to design stuff on the computer for me so I figured it out myself. I'm not exactly an expert now, but my knowledge is passable and Inkscape is my go-to for designing the memes I make for Facebook.

18. That time my biceps were enormous. Ordinarily I'm shaped exactly like a living stick figure, but there was one period of my life where I was doing this amazing aerobics/pilates/yoga class with weights and I was ripped.

Growing older is something to be celebrated, not embarrassed by. What 36 things would be on your list?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

19. Becoming Mormon. I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2000 and every good thing in my life either directly or indirectly comes from my faith in Jesus Christ and willingness to listen to his living prophet. Sorry to sound like an infomercial but I can't not do that when things are awesome.

20. Buying a house that will be paid off by the time I'm 45. If it were up to me, we'd have spent the last 10 years wearing rags and eating canned beans over a trash fire in order to have it paid off today, but Phillip said no.

21.  Learning how to drive a stick shift. In high school Phillip's sister taught me to drive their manual transmission car in the church parking lot, and it's a good thing because we inherited it when his family moved to Japan.

22. Using things up and wearing them out. About that car we inherited... we drove it for the next 10 years and when it gave up its last breath, sold it to a junkyard for $40. By the time our family is through with something, from clothes to baby gear to furniture, we've definitely squeezed every last drop of usefulness out of it.

23. Marrying the hottest guy I know. Obviously.

24. Showing up to Zumba for the first time. When a friend of mine announced she was running a free Zumba class every week, I almost didn't go. I know full well I dance like Rick Astley on a good day, but I put on my big girl pants and made myself go anyway. It took courage and I still look like Rick Astley.

25. Maintaining empty space. I consistently and ruthlessly get rid of things at home. De-junking early and often makes me feel good.

26. My research skills. Whether it's kid ailments or some random topic I'm supposed to write a freelance article on, I can find out all about it. Give me Google, and I can learn anything.

27. Fake trips around the world every summer. During summer vacation, we learn about a different country every week, which I simultaneously love and hate doing at the same time.

Growing older is something to be celebrated, not embarrassed by. What 36 things would be on your list?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

28. Learning to use a video editing program. I wanted to make some videos for my blog, so I downloaded some software and taught myself the basics. Phillip can't figure it out, which is my measuring stick for whether something is super-complicated or not.

29. Never making impulse purchases. When I shop, I only buy what's on my list  except for today, when mint Oreos jumped in my cart at the grocery store. But I planned to buy those ahead of time as a birthday gift to myself, so they don't count.

30. Breaking 20k Facebook followers. And as Phillip likes to point out, if 20,000 readers like my blog, just think of how many more there must be when you include the ones who don't like it!

31. Making $100 an hour. Once. For a single freelance article. But still.

32. My parenting style. I admittedly have no idea what I'm doing, but the kids feel loved and are being raised with what I think is a pretty good balance of high expectations and freedom.

33. Sewing all the curtains in my house. I'm especially proud of the Roman shades in the dining room, which would have cost 10 times what I spent to make them myself.

34. My organization. I did forget my daughter's soccer practice today, but on the whole we do what we need and get where we're supposed to. You name it, I have a chart to keep it organized.

35. Cooking spaghetti for 200 people. My current calling at church involves pulling off activities for the members, which is beyond intimidating to me because event planning of any sort is my worst nightmare. Though I still don't like it, I survived the spaghetti dinner and even went on to do other similar events without dying.

36. Making a viral video. "Answering the Question 'Why Do You Have So Many Kids?'" was viewed over 42k times on Facebook. My one regret is that my hair was kind of weird that day, but oh well. It happens.

I know it sounds corny, but one of my favorite things about my husband's appearance now that we're getting older is the lines that appear at the corner of his eyes when he smiles. When I see them, I'm reminded of what a good life we've had.

The same is true about me, and about you, too. Do I really care if I have to pull my eyelids taut to apply eyeliner now? Not really. Because the fact that I've lived on this earth for 36 years is something to be proud of.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Friday, May 18, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Cool Mom Tattoos, When Eating Looks Like Working Out, and an Imaginary Fight about Diapers That Lasted 14 Years

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


At dinner on Mother's Day, we went around the table and each of the kids said one thing they liked about me. (Beforehand I heard Phillip instructing the kids to give "real answers that are nice things, nothing funny.")

The kids' initial answers were that I play with them and I don't fart too much.

After more probing from dad, they agreed that they also appreciate my cooking. Which is nice to hear, because I try to feed them a lot of healthy stuff and make better-for-you versions of processed foods, and I sometimes wonder if it's worth the time and effort.

The 9-year-old piped up, "Yeah! You don't load us up with junk food, candy, and video games!"

"Wait, is that something you like or don't like?" I asked.

He hesitated and after a pause answered truthfully, "Both."


Overall, it was a nice Mother's Day. Phillip made me breakfast in bed (buckwheat crêpes are all he's been talking about since he went on a business trip to France last month) and the kids made me cards.

Then the 6-year-old took it a step further and penned the words "Love Mom" on her ankle. She draws on herself all the time, but this particular instance made me laugh because it reminds of a big, burly biker who gets "MOM" in a heart tattooed on his left bicep.


I have a confession to make: I hate Comic Sans. I don't know if I'm just a typography snob or what, but when someone hands me a document written in Comic Sans, it's all I can do to smile politely and wait until they're out of sight to hurl in a trash can.

As far as I know, I've never talked to my family about my feelings, so you can imagine my shock and delighted surprise when the topic of fonts came up over dinner and BOTH of my older girls went nuts over how much they loathed Comic Sans.

So as far as I can tell, it's genetic.

If you use Comic Sans for everything, I'm sorry. I really am. But mostly for me, because I'm the one who has to look at it.


I don't remember how I got possession of it since I've never belonged to this (or any) gym, but I own a T-shirt from America's Racquet and Fitness Center, which I mostly wear as pajamas.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I've never been particularly interested in racquets OR fitness.

I wore it to bed one night and was lazing around the house in it the next morning (which is totally okay because I just learned that "athleisure" is a thing now,) when my toddler came up, pointed at me and said "spoon."

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This guy right here, holding the world's most gigantic spoon in the en garde position.

So just in case you were wondering how raquety-y and fitness-y I am, my 2-year-old looks at a picture of someone who is clearly working out and sees a guy ready to go to town on a giant bowl of Rocky Road instead.


I rarely play pretend with my kids; it's just not my thing. I'm not good at it and I don't particularly enjoy it. But my 4-year-old is going through an obsession with pirates right now, so we played pirates and he had a great time.

It was a pretty busy morning. In the sandbox we sped away from sharks, found a deserted island, and dug up buried treasure. Then we had lunch (complete with clementines so we didn't get scurvy) and went to the pediatrician's for an annual checkup because that's what responsible pirates do.

We also slathered his wrists and legs with coconut oil, because pirate captains get really bad eczema flareups when the seasons change.

My son took the whole thing very seriously and talked in a gravelly pirate voice for hours, not even breaking character when he was asked to say the prayer before lunch. I may not enjoy playing pretend, but I did have to admire his commitment to his art.


Speaking of eczema, my friend Casey just told me about something for super-irritated skin that sounds horrifying but is actually awesome: bleach baths.

Now that you've fainted and regained consciousness, let me say I did not throw my children into 40 gallons of bleach and hand them some bath toys.

I poured two tablespoons into a tub of warm water and let them soak for 10 minutes. It was basically like going to a swimming pool, if the swimming pool was only 5 feet long and allowed naked people.

We've been battling my 4-year-old's scaly, painful eczema for weeks, and I kid you not it looked better after 10 minutes in the bleach bath. It was like magic. It ranked right up there with the trick I learned for getting poop stains out of onesies a few years ago. I can't believe I'm just now learning this stuff with my SIXTH child.


Being the stay-at-home parent, I'm naturally the one who changes more of the diapers and therefore opens more diaper packages. And when I do, I open them neatly along the perforated line on the side. The times when Phillip opens a new pack, it looks like he does it blindfolded with a weed whacker.

I know I've said something about it before, but decided about 5 years ago that if he was so insistent on opening them his way, I needed to just let it go and enjoy our marriage for what it was.

But recently I said off-handedly when he mutilated yet another pack, "You know, when you tear along the perforations, the diapers stay inside the bag better and they're easier to take out."

He just gave me a blank stare and said "Perforations?"

We've been opening packages of diapers for 14 years straight and Phillip insists I've never said anything about it until this very moment. This is exactly the reason I'm crazy.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

It's Almost Magical When You Think About It

I love hearing the stories of people who converted to Mormonism later in life.

Maybe it's because I'm a convert myself, but I think it's fascinating how no two people have the same story of where they were before. Some were active in another religion, some were seeking a spiritual home in a lot of different places, and others were completely uninterested in anything with the word "church" in it.

Some were introduced to Mormonism by a friend, or answered the door when two missionaries knocked on it, or had a spiritual awakening when they found a Book of Mormon in a trash can (okay, I don't know anybody who that happened to but I'll bet it's happened to someone.)

No two stories are alike, but they all involve one thing: change.

What I love about the gospel is that it makes change possible, even in the least likely circumstances.

I just finished reading Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon, a chapter that compares the House of Israel to an olive tree and the Lord to the master of the vineyard.

The master decides to take some of the main olive tree's branches and graft them all over the vineyard (i.e: scatter the tribes of Israel.) He also grafts wild branches into the original tree (i.e: adopt Gentiles.)

After a while he takes a servant around to see how the grafted branches are doing. They come to a tree in a far-flung corner that's doing great and the servant can't believe it. He asks the master why he even planted there in the first place because "it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard."

I like to picture the master kind of rolling his eyes as he points over to the left and answers, "Look hither, behold I have planted another branch of the tree also; and thou knowest that this spot of ground was poorer than the first. But, behold the tree." (Jacob 5: 21, 23; emphasis mine.) Which is, of course, bursting with fruit.

Sociology tells us that a whole lot in life is determined by the ground in which we're planted. We live out patterns experienced in childhood, which is why abused kids often grow up to be abusers and kids of alcoholic parents often struggle with substance abuse. We rarely leave the socioeconomic status we're born into. Mental illness, physical disease, and even character traits are products of both genetics and environment.

Statistically speaking, the ground where we're planted is important, but I'm not convinced it matters all that much to God.

In fact, sometimes He purposely takes an olive branch to the most barren, rocky, unfriendly place in the whole vineyard just to prove that when He's the gardener, miracles can happen.

Thank God for the miracle that change is possible, even in the most unlikely of circumstances.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The Bible is full of unlikely events: younger brothers supplant older brothers for the birthright (Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau.) Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt but somehow becomes one of the most powerful men in Egypt. Virgins and post-menopausal women have babies and people rise from the dead. That stuff just doesn't happen.

As a more contemporary example, I've seen firsthand the transformative power of the gospel. It can take someone who's been broken by life and give them hope. It can take someone who's been hardened by life and make them kind.

I'm continually amazed at how we all walk into church with different strengths and weaknesses, yet the same gospel somehow works like sandpaper on our souls, smoothing out the rough edges that on no two people are in the exact same places. How can something humble the rich and, at the very same time, lift up the poor?

When I joined the church at age 18, changes to my life followed. I cleaned up my language and the way I dressed and the music I listened to. My priorities shifted. Some of the changes I made in my life felt major, but at the same time I felt like I was closer than ever to the person I'd always been on the inside.

I can hardly explain what I mean by that, so maybe it's just easier to say that the gospel is like magic.

It changes us but transforms us into a truer version of ourselves than we ever were before. It's the same for everyone but somehow tempers each of us just a little in the way we need, even though no one's needs are the same! It assures us that even if we're planted in the very worst soil in all the vineyard, that doesn't preclude some very amazing growth.

Which is good because I still have a lot of growing to do. I keep opening up my scriptures and getting on my knees in prayer asking for help with old habits and character flaws that at times seem too deeply ingrained to change.

Honestly, if it weren't for the powerful nature of the gospel I'd be tempted to throw my hands in the air and say "I give up, it's too hard."

And it would be, if it weren't for God's lengthy track record of unlikely successes and beating the odds through His amazing love.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Friday, May 11, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Showing Off at the Dermatologist, Uses for 24 Fluid Ounces of Maple Syrup, and Being Insensitive to Airline Tragedies

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


As a couponer, I try not to do this too much because it's annoying, but check out my haul from CVS!

They had a random clearance on diapers and combined with some store coupons I happened to have, I got all this for $16. (Please note that the middle one is a super-sized 50-pack. Just saying.)

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
We are looking at potentially 6 months of defecation here.

As I took my forklift load of diapers to the car, a lady leaving at the same time as me scoffed and asked in a sort of nasty voice, "Why would you buy so many diapers at CVS?"

I considered telling her "I have octuplets at home" or maybe "I'm a hoarder," but in reality I can't not gush about saving money so I told her about the awesome diaper clearance and got in my car.

And then I watched her from the window as she hesitated on the sidewalk, turned around, and WENT BACK INSIDE. Presumably to get some for herself.

Looks like she decided I'm not such an idiot, after all.


Recently I realized that the 'return' key on the computer keyboard is short for "carriage return" and hearkens back to the days of typewriters, when you had to pull the lever at the end of every line.

I felt kind of like my kids when they ask why we say "hang up" the phone and someone has to explain to them, "Wellllllll, it's a reference to something mankind used to do long, long ago..."


There are four blemishes on my face by my jaw that I'd just been thinking of as bonus acne for 35-year-olds, but one morning I realized they've been there for a long time. Like, a really long time. Probably a year.

So I did what any reasonable person would do (which is freak out and assume I'm dying of skin cancer, FYI) and made an appointment with a dermatologist.

Good news, the dermatologist didn't think they were cancerous or harmful in any way. She also did an all-over skin check to look for any other anomalies and found a mole on the sole of my foot.

In an embarrassing turn of events for all, she'd already called in her assistant to take pictures before we realized the suspicious-looking mole was actually a piece of crap stuck to my foot from walking around my dirty house.

Womp, womp.


My least favorite morning this week was the one where I woke up to a 30-pound person covered in maple syrup scaling the side of my bed saying "hug-a-Mommy."

It was Sunday morning, and the older kids let Phillip and I sleep in while they made everyone pancakes. Then they left the table and the toddler used the syrup a weapon of mass destruction.

First, he dumped out the entire bottle and smeared it all over the table and himself. Then he tracked it all over the house with his feet. He visited every room on the first floor, sat on both couches, and finally did a snow angel on the living room rug before coming in to our room to cuddle.

We had to scrub and mop everything. And any little drop we missed inevitably got tracked through the house by one of the kids and we had to start all over. I thought we were going to have to throw out the dining room table; it was slightly sticky for 4 or 5 days before we finally scrubbed it enough times you couldn't tell Syrupgate had happened here.

Now the kids are forbidden to have pancakes until they're 40, and I'm considering buying a gun safe on Amazon in which to store our maple syrup.


Speaking of Amazon, my 14-year-old always complains about the sunlight even when wearing sunglasses, so I decided to look for some extra-dark ones.

I like shopping online, not just because it's convenient and I don't have to wear real pants, but because the customer reviews are always so helpful. For example, there was this one:

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

This guy was gracious enough to include a photo of himself, so if you're curious whether he really is that attractive you can take a look at the original review.

Of course, he's wearing the dark sunglasses in the picture so it's pretty hard to tell.


While I was gone doing jury duty on Wednesday, Phillip stayed home and took the 9-year-old to an eye appointment. When I got home, the 4-year-old couldn't stop talking about a book he saw in the waiting room.

It was a book about shipwrecks, complete with pictures of "really dirty ships with holes in them" (his words) at the bottom of the ocean.

"Cool!" I said.

"And there was a guy swimming around and lookin' at them!"

"Wow!" I exclaimed.

"And there was even a AIRPLANE that sanked and it was cracked in half!"

"Woah! That's awesome!" I gushed.

"No," he said, turning suddenly serious. "That's really bad."

I guess, having watched all 6 seasons of Lost, I should have known that.


Our trash can really needed to be taken outside and hosed down, but it was a job so revolting I put it on the list of allowance chores and crossed my fingers, hoping one of the kids was broke enough to want to do it so I wouldn't have to.

My oldest daughter took the bait, occasionally pausing to come in and tell me how gross it was.

Thinking back to my days working at Pizza Hut in high school, I shrugged and said, "That's basically what work is: doing disgusting things and getting paid for it."

"I'll be a stay-at-home mom, then."

Oh, sweet, naive child. Being a stay-at-home mom is doing disgusting things and not getting paid for it.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Not to Brag or Anything, But I'm Kind of a Civic Hero

I've been called for jury duty twice in my life.

The first time, I'd just barely come home from my freshman year of college. I remember opening my mail in the guest bedroom at my dad's house, examining the jury summons and thinking, "Being an adult is the worst, waaaaahhhh!"

The case ended up settling out of court. Or something. I don't remember any particulars except for the fact that I didn't have to go.

I'd forgotten all about it, until 2 months ago when I received an official-looking postcard with lots of highlighting and ALL CAPS WRITING informing me that I was the lucky winner... of the opportunity to serve as a juror and advance the cause of justice!

For the next few months I kept hoping I wouldn't have to go, but the day arrived and no such luck. Phillip rearranged his schedule to stay home with the kids and I pulled up to the courthouse at 8 AM, which is probably the earliest I've ever been anywhere with real pants on.

The courthouse was a majestic piece of Roman architecture lined with columns. A flight of stone steps led up to a grand entrance with a paper sign that said "not an entrance."

(I've been in a few other courthouses and incidentally, they never let people use the fancy entrance. They're the legal equivalent of the shell-shaped hand soaps in your nana's bathroom.)

It took a while to get through security (via the shady side door off the alley around the corner, of course) and find out where I was supposed to go, mostly because there were about 100 years' worth of paper signs taped to the walls and it took a while to find the ones relevant to me.

Handing over my juror survey at the check-in area, a uniformed officer reminded me that I left something out.

Of course I had. I'd intentionally left the "current or most recent employment" field blank, because surely they wouldn't want to know that I last worked as a telemarketer in Utah 15 years ago. But yes, actually, they did. The U.S. government is weird.

Now that they had my impressive employment history, they assigned me to be Juror 28 and directed me to a yellow-painted room full of 21 other people and wooden armchairs stolen from a dentist's waiting room in 1974.

I pulled up to the courthouse at 8 AM, which is probably the earliest I've ever been anywhere with real pants on.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

After sitting for about an hour, we watched a juror orientation video during which I really had to pee. It started by outlining the history of criminal justice, and I think I lost consciousness somewhere between the Magna Carta and the difference between criminal and civil suits.

The video ended with testimonials from people who all agreed over an inspirational trumpet swell that serving as a juror was amazing and they would definitely do it again. (They didn't say whether the $2,000 fine for failing to appear was a factor.)

After another hour of waiting, a super-nice court officer told us not to feel bad if we ended up being disqualified as a juror and then a not-as-nice officer directed us to a courtroom.

Being both lazy and completely Type A, there was an interesting internal battle going on in my mind. Part of me was totally hoping to be elected jury foreman on a lengthy double homicide trial of national importance; the rest of me was planning my escape by telling the judge I was prejudiced against all groups of people including anyone who drives a PT Cruiser, reads primarily e-books, buys organic produce, or subscribes to Vogue.

After taking an oath, we were given an overview of the case (car hits car, someone sues) and asked questions to find whether we had any biases that would prevent us from making an impartial decision. I decided to keep my opinions on timeshare owners and Costco members to myself.

It wasn't until we'd answered the questions and they started to fill up the chairs with jurors that I realized: they were going in numerical order and I was Juror 28.

Oh, happy day! A robed gospel choir burst into song and clapped me back to the juror room after all the chairs were filled. I wasn't being impaneled after all, which I guess wouldn't have been so terrible but the word sounds like a hybrid of 'imprisoned' and 'disemboweled.'

We waited for another hour in the juror room just in case we were needed for another case, but they asked for a bench trial instead, and we were free to go.

The nice court officer stood in the doorway and thanked me for my service on my way out, even though my service mostly consisted of playing on my phone for 4 hours and paying $6 in parking.

I wouldn't exactly say it was "one of the most empowering, fascinating, and rewarding experiences of my life" as promised by the weirdo in the orientation video, but at least I was home in time for lunch.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Monday, May 7, 2018

Things I Don't Want to Hear, See, or Smell on Mother's Day This Year

Motherhood means indescribable love.

It means transcendent joy.

And it means complete and utter sensory overload.

When you're a mom, every morning is like being dumped out of bed into the middle of the running of the bulls in Spain, except there's a lot more crying and you're supposed to make pancakes at the same time.

Motherhood can be described in two words: sensory overload.   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Do you know what the touched-out, overwhelmed masses of mamas want for Mother's Day?

We don't want to hear anything. We don't want to hear crying. Or FAKE crying. No long, rambling tattles about something a sibling did 4 and a half years ago. We don't want to hear the word "snack." We don't want to hear the sound of a gallon of milk exploding on contact with the floor, a bin of Legos being dumped out after we just cleaned house, or anything crashing or breaking in the next room.

We don't want to smell anything. We don't want to smell poop, sweaty feet, poop, stinky burps in our faces, poop, or things burning. Or poop. No thank you to the rancid sports equipment and cleats so pungent they could take down a full-grown bull moose. We don't want to smell lunch boxes on Monday morning with Friday's leftovers still inside. Forgive us, but we don't like smelling the breath of someone who swore they brushed their teeth but obviously hasn't touched a tube of toothpaste since April.

We don't want to touch anything.  We don't want to handle soiled clothing or carry it around in our purses like some kind of demented currency. We don't want to feel smashed raisins from the kitchen floor sticking to our feet. We don't need to find out with our thighs that the toilet seat is wet, and then step in a puddle of maple syrup a few minutes later. Basically, we don't want to feel anything sticky or wet that isn't supposed to be, including ourselves. Especially ourselves.

We don't want to see anything. We don't want to see the sock factory explosion formerly known as our house. There are socks on the stairs. Socks in the bathroom. Tiny socks in the toybox and on top of the piano and inside the potted plant. We just can't take the sight of any more socks. We don't want to see our decorative throw pillows on the floor, every outdoor toy we own scattered on the lawn like sprinkles on a cake, or Nerf gun darts in every conceivable crevice of our property. And please shield our eyes from the crumb buffet on the floor of the minivan.

We don't want to taste anything. We are tired of tasting leftover chicken nuggets and chubby fingers of questionable cleanliness that were shoved in our mouths. We don't want eat taste soggy Goldfish crackers just because our toddlers offered them to us and said "So dee-wicious," and yet we do. (Why must they be so cute?)

The point is that motherhood wears out our senses and then it wears them out again. Flowers or breakfast in bed are nice gestures, but what we really want for Mother's Day is 90 minutes in a sensory deprivation tank.

After that, we promise to come back to the sticky kisses and is-it-chocolate-or-is-it-poop predicaments that no doubt await us  and we will love (almost) every minute of it. We swear.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »