Friday, November 17, 2017

7 Quick Takes about Unrealistic Time Frames, Slowly Allowing Amazon to Control Every Aspect of my Life, and the Problem with Bouncy Balls

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


A friend gave me three big buckets full of apples and I thought, "Great! Let's can some applesauce! I'll crank this out in the morning and still have time to go to the grocery store before lunch."

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

It's like I've never even been to my life.

I guess I forgot that not only do I have to cut up and core all the apples (Pampered Chef peeler for life,) I also have to cook the apples, mash them up, sterilize the jars, fill the jars, process them 5 at a time in a boiling water bath, mop the floor, and bathe the kids who've been rolling around in the sticky apple pulp all morning and touching everything like it's their job.

It took all day.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
It really seems like I did more work than this...

The kids are expressly forbidden to eat any of the applesauce now because it took me so long. We will just look at the jars and appreciate them.


Our kitchen counters are a lovely forest green formica courtesy of 1995 (we are legally required to start singing TLC's "Waterfalls" every time we look at them.) Anyway, the strip on the side fell off and has been sitting in our when-I-get-around-to-it pile for a while.

The other night Phillip finally got around to it while I was finishing something up on the computer. I was vaguely aware that there was a lot of noise and goings-on in the background but not really paying attention, and then I turned around and saw this:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Modern art installation right in the middle of my kitchen.

I guess I hadn't thought about how you were supposed to put a clamp on the side of the counter after gluing it... but not to worry, Phillip's an engineer and he had it covered.


Check out this fear-mongering piece of propaganda advertisement that came in the mail:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Logo of sneaky summer camp blacked out because I don't want to give them free advertising.

So if I'm reading this right, and I think I am, the only way to combat my kids' inevitable mental self-destruction is to send them to summer camp. And not just any camp  it has to be this specific one because it's THE LAST SAFE PLACE. Seriously. They would for sure be kidnapped and murdered at literally any other place.

What a relief to know! Where is my wallet?!

Also, who is put together enough to be making plans for summer vacation right now? I don't even know what we're having for dinner tonight.


Speaking of being totally on top of things, I dug out our fall decorations and realized once I went outside to put them up that the front porch area needs a little TLC.

Our spring wreath of fake forsythia blooms was still hanging on the door. Sitting on the porch was a decorative gourd covered entirely in blue paint, for purposes still unknown to me. And our door is full of dents and dings because a few weeks ago the 3-year-old whacked it senseless with a tennis racket for no discernible reason.

We don't even play tennis.


I'm a die-hard Amazon shopper, but I always hesitated to buy clothes online. It just seemed like it would never work.

My daughter needed some clothes for her orchestra concert, and instead of driving around to a couple of different department stores I decided to give Amazon a shot and only buy things with free returns, just in case.

And now I'm a believer.

Online shopping is infinitely faster, and if you have to return something you can print off the return label and have your kids run it out to the mailbox for the mailman to pick up. I think the second half of my life has begun.

Once I embrace online grocery shopping, (which may take a while because I'm still fighting it,) I may never leave the house again.


As we finished dinner, Phillip and I were leaning back in our chairs and talking about what we should do with our evening now that soccer practice is over and we have our weeknights back again.

Luckily, my son answered that question for us a few minutes later when he put his bouncy ball through the living room ceiling.

You kind of have to fix a gaping hole in your ceiling ASAP in the cold of November in New England.

(As I lay down to get a picture, my little boys tackled me because hey, Mom's on the floor and it must mean she wants to play.)

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

The really annoying thing is that our living room ceiling happens to be two stories tall. I have bad balance (like, really bad) so that rules me out on the ladder, and Phillip is afraid of heights so it's not exactly an ideal situation.

He patched up the hole, but now we need to do texturize and repaint so it matches the rest of the ceiling.

Given our to-do list and how much Phillip enjoys the ladder, I figure we'll probably be pointing out the ugly patch to our grandchildren thirty years from now and saying, "Your dad did this when he was your age, way back before we had flying cars you could control with your mind!"


We're having a problem with the 1-year-old right now. He sneaks off to quietly poop in his diaper and tries not to let us find out. Then he gets a diaper rash, and by the time we discover he needs a change it hurts him, which reinforces his desire to hide it from us next time.

It's a vicious cycle.

So we've asked the other kids to be on high alert and report back to us if they suspect a dirty diaper. We like to remind them about their new responsibility by quoting a variant of the Department of Homeland Security's motto: "If you smell something, say something."

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why Moms Are Crazy

Heaven forbid that your husband or anyone else you know ever points it out, but did you ever notice that since you had children you're a little... crazy?

Of course we moms are crazy. The billion tiny socks on the floor have driven us there.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

It's not your fault, though! Here are just a few of the reasons moms have one foot practically in the loony bin.

Tiny socks. They're everywhere. The kids could be barefoot 98% of the time but your house would still be coated in a thin film of child-size socks.

Remembering everyone's likes and dislikes. Child 1 will only eat ham sandwiches with the crusts cut off while Child 2 hates ham and doesn't like bread with seeds in it. Or is it the other way around? Oh, and every couple of weeks they randomly change their minds just to mess with you. Good luck packing lunches.

Washing clean dishes. My kids do this cute thing where they get a new cup, take a single sip of water, and dump it in the sink for me to wash about 12 times a day. #blessed

Toys that sing annoying songs. Even though the song makes you want to poke your eardrums out with a chopstick, somehow you'll still catch yourself singing it in the shower. And it will make you question every life decision you've made up to this point.

Re-folding clothes. I live for that glorious 5 seconds between finishing a huge pile of laundry and watching a child come barreling through it like a linebacker.

YouTube videos of people playing video games. Or "unboxing" anything. Or singing annoying songs about ducks and lemonade stands that you're going to find yourself humming in the shower later.

Murphy's law. You mop, the kids spill milk all over the floor. You wash your hair, someone pukes in it. You stop carrying around a change of clothes after your kid is potty trained... I think you get it.

Hand towels. By 10 AM you're ready to nail all of the hand towels to the wall. You're pretty sure your kids don't even wash their hands when you're not there, so it's a real mystery how they get pulled off the rod in the first place.

Blankets everywhere. My kids come downstairs every morning wrapped in their blankets from bed, and then they shed them on the floor wherever and whenever feels right to them. And then they leave for school and I can't even see the carpet.

Listening to kids describe their dreams. I'm all ears when it comes to their dreams and aspirations for the future. But I'm talking about when they come downstairs saying, "Mom, I dreamed I was at Grandma's house, but it wasn't Grandma's, but it kind of was like Grandma's house except the stairs were different and for some reason my teacher was there, too, but then she turned into someone else but I still knew it was my teacher and..."

Finding things in your shoes. Kids play with everything. Everything. They enter your closet and take out pairs of your shoes and fill them up with travel-sized lotions from your bathroom. Because that is a completely logical thing to do.

Port-a-potties. It's gross enough to use one yourself. Try maneuvering around in there with a kid or two, especially one with no qualms about touching everything or making 100 disgusting observations about the potty's contents while you're trapped in there with them.

"Hand wash only" items. You have got to be kidding me.

Plot summaries of kids' movies that are longer than the actual run time of the film. Well, there went two days of your life you can never get back again.

Pinterest. Are you telling me that in addition to getting the kids up on the first day of school, feeding them breakfast, packing lunches, and getting them to the bus on time, I'm also supposed to hand-paint a chalkboard sign with their autobiography on it and take a picture every year? No wonder we're all basketcases.

Throw pillows. If Target wanted to showcase how they'd actually look in your house, they'd be scattered all over the floor of the home decor aisle, along with all the couch cushions from home furnishings.

Kids waste everything. Entire rolls of floss unrolled for no reason. Boxes of Band-Aids used to cover invisible wounds. Food dumped on the floor. Doors and windows left open to heat the neighborhood. Welcome to parenthood: hope you like throwing money down the toilet.

Of course we moms are crazy. The billion tiny socks on the floor have driven us there.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Mom guilt. Let the kids sort out their own problems, or you're the helicopter parent of a dependent slug who's going to live at home until they're 45. But also don't do that, unless you want your neglected youth to seek love and acceptance leading a gang in prison.

Nothing stays where we put it. Parenthood is a magical realm where scissors, phones, wallets, and any other object we put down can (and will) just grow legs and wander away. Logic is useless in figuring out where the missing object could be. It could be literally anywhere. If I were you, I'd start by looking in your shoe.

Clothes on the floor beside the hamper. No matter what kind of receptacle for dirty laundry you have in your kids' rooms or where you place it, there will always be piles of dirty clothes sitting 2" from it.

Changing the toilet paper roll. I cannot count the number of times I've walked into a bathroom to see a new toilet paper roll on top of the empty one still on the holder. It's like I'm the only one who can see it.

Automatic flush toilets. If your child has ever suffered from PTSD after an auto-flush toilet went off while she was still sitting on it, you know exactly what I mean. Other things that drive us crazy are the deafening super-sonic hand dryers and the feminine hygiene boxes in the stalls... pretty much everything about public restrooms is the worst.

Having things shoved in your eyeball. I'd love to look at the thing you're so excited to show me, kids. Which I will, as soon as I dislodge it from my cornea.

How we literally can't have anything nice. My kids have broken full-length mirrors, drawn on computer monitors, dented walls, stabbed the table repeatedly with a fork, peed on mattresses, run through screen doors, pulled down the living room curtains, and broken a hole in the ceiling with a bouncy ball. And these are generally well-behaved kids we're talking about.

People hurting themselves doing the exact thing we told them to stop doing. It's not even gratifying to say "I told you so." Okay, sometimes it kind of is.

Glitter. I think scattering glitter all over the house when doing craft projects is a kindergartner's way of establishing dominance. I really do.

Bedtime. Why does bedtime come at the end of the day, when you're already frazzled, fried, and exhausted? Under those circumstances, you can't really expect a person not to totally lose it when someone pops out of their room for the 15th time after lights out to ask if there are boy ladybugs, too.

Being the finder. Not only are you expected to know where everyone's belongings are at all times (usually, you do), but when you suggest places to look, those same people will argue with you as to why their things couldn't possibly be in any of those places (and usually, they are.)

Accommodating requests while driving. Kids could really care less if you're a tad occupied with, say, merging onto the freeway in a snowstorm. They want some water and a new radio station, and they want it now.

We love our kids and wouldn't give them up for all the brain cells in the world which is a good thing, because motherhood is making you lose your mind.

One unmatched sock at a time.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

7 Quick Takes about Good Reasons to Pause a Soccer Game, Raising a Courteous Young Man, and Being Sick of Making Cake

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


Well, we're on Day 6 of finding clocks around the house that still are an hour off and I'm never sure what time it is. How is post-Daylight Savings time going for you?

I'm pleased to say we were actually on time for church last Sunday, although we needed every second of that extra hour to pull it off.


Saturday morning was the kids' last soccer game of the season! I feel like I should've brought some sparkling cider or firecrackers or something to celebrate the occasion with the other parents freezing their butts off of the sidelines.

As we strapped on her shinguards to get ready, my kindergartner asked, "Who's coming to my game?"

I knew what she was thinking. Phillip's mom has been staying with us this week and my daughter was hoping she'd come to her game. Unfortunately, my son was also playing across town at the same time and Grandma already promised him she'd be there.

"Me!" I said.

She sighed. "Only you?"

"Well, don't sound so disappointed about it!"

Obediently, she immediately adopted the cheeriest inflection in the world and asked "Only you?!?"

That's more like it.


The soccer game was a good end to the season and a fairly typical representation of every pee-wee soccer game everywhere.

When the coach knelt down to tie someone's cleat, a bunch of other kids with undone laces came over and the poor guy was stuck in the middle of a bona fide mass shoe tying emergency for several minutes.

At one point, they had to stop the game because the kids all stopped to look at a worm someone spotted on the field. The coach had to come over and move it off to the sidelines because the kids were worried it was going to get hurt.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Game? What game? Can't you see THERE'S A WORM HERE???

In the middle of all that I think there was at least some soccer being played, but I can't say for sure.


My 1-year-old went to the pediatrician for a checkup, but I had to wake him up from a nap so he was pretty crabby. Worse yet, he had to get an immunization after the visit.

He didn't cry, but he was highly suspicious of the nurse who vaccinated him and practically jumped out of my arms when she came close to put on the Band-Aid.

Right up until she walked out of the door he was giving her the stink-eye. I'm not sure what exactly was responsible for the change of heart, but at the last minute before the door closed behind her he called out clear as a bell: "Thank you!"

She came back in and gushed about how cute and polite he was. (In retrospect I realize he may have been thanking her for leaving. Either way, it seemed like it made her day.)


Usually when people consolidate and celebrate multiple birthdays at the same time, they do it to make things less work.

We did that this week but somehow made it more work. I need to figure out what we're doing wrong.

First, my 6-year-old had a party with her friends and chose a dog theme. (I don't know why she picked that theme. We've never owned a dog or even talked about owning a dog.)

We made little dog bone-shaped Rice Krispies and guess who helped open the box:

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

I had to eat the leftover cereal myself just so I could throw away the box, it was driving me that crazy.

At the party, the girls enjoyed having a scavenger hunt in the house to find the Rice Krispie bones...

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

...aaaaand then they decided to eat them off the table with their mouths like dogs.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Looking at this picture, I realize I could have at least gotten them napkins or something.

As you can see, they really got into character at this party.


The 1-year-old loved, and I mean LOVED, the party balloons. Whenever he saw one, he would squeal and throw himself on it like he was actually trying to pop it.

And then I realized that he was.

He was copying a party game the girls played that involved popping balloons to get the pieces of paper inside, and now he thinks the object of balloons is to just pop them as quickly as possible.


The next day was Phillip's actual birthday, which for me meant that I'd be making two cakes in two days.

That wouldn't have been a big deal if they'd both been as simple as my daughter's dog cake:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Cute but not complicated.

But I wanted to make something a little more special than a boxed cake mix with Duncan Hines frosting for Phillip.

And let me tell you, I have birthed entire humans in less time than it took me to make this triple chocolate layer cake from scratch. Not even exaggerating.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Strategically positioned so as not to show how lopsided it actually looked.

I found two recipes online and let my daughter choose between them. Of course, she picked the fancier one. It didn't even use cups as a form of measurement like a normal person. It measured everything in grams (read this in a snobby British accent with your pinky in the air.)

I dirtied every bowl in the house and stress-ate cake batter the whole time. I used a kitchen scale and a flour sifter for the first (and hopefully last) time ever.

I take that back, I used the kitchen scale once to calculate postage for a letter.

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

Fancy baking is stressful for me in the first place, because my spirit animal is less Julia Child and more prison cafeteria lady.

But what makes it even worse is that Phillip is a very good cook, so baking for him feels like performing a solo for Pavarotti. Even if he's gracious and genuinely enjoys your song, he's still freaking Pavarotti.

However, Phillip said the cake was the best thing he's tasted since our wedding cake, and he's been talking about that thing for 13 years.

And I sincerely hope he enjoyed it, because I'm not doing it again.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Accurate Hot Toy List for 2017

It's that time of year, when Toys R Us and every other retailer in the universe releases their "Hot Holiday Toy List" and we are all supposed to stampede each other in the aisles for them (or pay quadruple on Ebay later.)

But here's the thing. Most of the toys on the list look like more expensive versions of stuff my kids already don't play with. So I've compiled an actual Hot Toy List that will clue other parents like myself in to what your young one might like this holiday season.

Along with these nominations for Best Toy of the Year, here are 10 items that have been played with practically non-stop at our house since I started having babies over a decade ago.

10. Toilet Plunger

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

My youngest is a ninja when it comes to sneaking in the bathroom to grab this curious piece of equipment. If I leave the door open for even a second, he's walking around somewhere with the toilet plunger giddy with excitement. I read a blog post by a mom who decided to stop fighting it and just bought her son a brand-new plunger at the hardware store... I'm not sure if the article was serious or joking, but either way it's the most brilliant thing I've ever read.

9. Light Switch

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Best case scenario: you can pull a chair up to the wall and let your child stand there flicking the switch and giggling for 20 minutes while you eat a sleeve of Oreos in the other room. Worst case scenario: they're not old enough to reliably stand there without falling so you have to hover within arms' length without blinking the whole time, or skip the chair altogether and stand there holding them like you don't have anything else to do today.

8. My Earrings

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Another fun cause-and-effect toy! Pull the dangly loops and get a gasp, scream, or expletive from mom every time! It's basically a newer version of those dolls from the '80s where you'd pull a string to make them talk. Talk about a classic.

7. Junk Drawer

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

When a child gets tall enough to reach the junk drawer, the second half of his life begins. Rubber bands, tape dispensers, random writing utensils, a pad of Post-It notes, a fingernail clippers... the funnest substances known to man, hitherto off-limits, are all jumbled up in one drawer of wonders. Some kids pick through it cautiously, others dig in like a starving man at a Golden Corral; either way, the household junk drawer will entertain them for hours.

6. Flashlight

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

These are great for carrying around the house and wedging beneath the couch. Left on, of course. I have replaced the batteries in our flashlight a dozen times and I don't think I've ever used it. The underside of our couch, however, has been well-illuminated for most of the time we've lived here.

5. Remote

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Next to an airliner cockpit, you really can't find more buttons in one place than a remote control. (The one with LOTS of buttons in our house isn't pictured here because, ironically, it went missing after the kids played with it.) When you walk around with a remote in your hand, you walk around holding power. Until they reach a certain age and realize there's a difference, remotes can also double as pretend phones.

4. My Keys

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I'm starting to suspect the nurses in the maternity ward of teaching babies to tell real keys from fake ones. We have a pair of baby toy plastic keys that look just like real ones, they're not those fake chunky ones, and none of our kids has even feigned interest in it . My keys, on the other hand, are a hot commodity. It probably helps that there's a red button specifically designed to send the car into a delightful panic mode.

3. My Shoes

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I have no nice shoes anymore. The backs have all been smashed flat by small people who help themselves to my closet and wear my shoes around whenever the mood strikes. The fact that I may not want them to clomp around in my footwear for fun never seems to occur to them. I know because I just found my only pair of dressy flats on the counter in the kids' bathroom filled with Shopkins.

2. Pots and Pans

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

What makes a fantastic noise and is super-fun to drag out of the kitchen cabinets 42 times a day? Why, pots and pans, of course! You can use them to booby trap the kitchen in the dark, cook up some fake food in your room, or just do gross things like put your dirty bare feet in them for absolutely no reason at all so mom has to wash them again. Those are all popular options around here.

1. Empty Cardboard Box

Who needs hot holiday toy lists when every toddler's deepest desire is to play with the toilet plunger?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

One of the biggest surprises I've had in motherhood is how old kids can be and still have fun with a cardboard box. The fun can be anything from hiding inside it to jumping around with it on your head to simply ripping it apart with your bare hands (yes, that has actually happened and I still don't get it.) The best boxes, according to my kids, are the ones I'm saving for a specific purpose and would like to use in the future. Those are destroyed pretty much immediately.

Armed with this knowledge, I wish you the very best of luck holiday shopping for your children this season. Of course every child has their individual likes and preferences, but if you stick to time-tested favorites like these you really can't go wrong. If all else fails, just tell them it's yours and they're not allowed to touch it.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Please, Don't Give Us More Stuff This Christmas

The air is getting chillier. Halloween has come and gone. As we inevitably head toward Christmas, I have one thing to say to my dear friends and extended family members: PLEASE don't buy my kids any more crap.

Seriously, I'm begging you. I'm waving a white flag. No more.

Every piece of crap we acquire means hours of tripping over it, reorganizing it, and cleaning it up. I want those hours back.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

My kids don't need new crap. They can't even take care of the crap they have. There are books on the floor 6 inches from the bookshelf. Sandbox toys have migrated inside the house. Tennis rackets and baseball bats sit abandoned in the yard. Stuffed animals multiply in every corner of every room, and the living room carpet is a sea of building blocks and plastic food.

Honestly, I'm not even sure how this happens. Some people would describe us as minimalists.

Our house contains a third of the toys most houses have, even though we have three times the kids. I'm constantly going through our toys, books, craft supplies, and clothes, and I'm ruthless about chucking anything we don't actually need.

I do this because I know each new piece of crap we acquire represents hours of tripping on it, picking it up, cleaning it, maintaining it, moving it to vacuum, changing its batteries, figuring out what's wrong when it stops working, arbitrating fights over it, searching for it under beds and couch cushions, and going back into the post office to look for it when someone accidentally leaves it behind.

It represents hours of figuring out where to put it, sorting our old crap into keep/donate/toss piles and carting boxes and bags to the donation center. It represents hours of wandering the aisles of Home Depot looking for appropriately-sized receptacles and furniture to contain it.

And then I'll have to do it all over again when next year's crap comes in.

Every piece of crap we acquire means hours of tripping over it, reorganizing it, and cleaning it up. I want those hours back.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

It's not that I want to move us all to a cave in the mountains and live like ascetic monks (not most of the time, anyway.) It's just that sometimes, I dread the pile of presents beneath the Christmas tree.

As I watch my kids tear the wrapping paper off a new Lego set  a creative and wonderful toy by any measure  I know that two months from now it will have become just another piece of crap to step on in the middle of the night.

I will come to hate the sound of my own voice yelling at the kids to clean it up. I'll run over the pieces on purpose as I vacuum the carpet just to get them out of my sight.

The truth is, we don't need more stuff for Christmas. And I personally don't want anything except for time.

I can now count the number of years until my oldest leaves for college on one hand. I don't want to spend those years managing an excess of stuff we don't even need. We're starved for time, but every piece of crap we own means we have less of it.

Please understand it's not the gifts and toys themselves that are making me crazy: it's what we're trading away in order to have them.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

7 Quick Takes about Waffles That Probably Weren't Worth the Effort, Channeling My Inner Miss Hannigan, and Rendering Toys Unusable as Quickly as Possible

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


I hope everybody had a good time taking their kids trick-or-treating! Is it just me, or was there a distinct lack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups this year?

We ended up trick-or-treating with another family and it worked out great. Their older kids and our older kids took off together at their own pace, while the adults took the little kids door to door at a mind-numbingly slow one.

At one house they held out the bowl of candy out to my 1-year-old and like any good parent, I kept trying to encourage him to pick the full-size Almond Snickers in a semi-discrete manner: "Do you want this one? Does this one look good?"

But no, he ignored me and chose the bag of Halloween pretzels instead. Foiled again.


Since the success of my last video, I've been getting a lot of interesting offers via email. I was pretty excited when I got one encouraging me to apply to be on a reality show!

The producers were looking for large-ish traditional families where mom stays home with the kids, dad works, and there are at least 4 children at home... check, check, check. That's us, I'm listening. The premise of the show is that mom goes away for a week and dad takes over, and you get $20,000 to participate.

Um, I would do this FOR FREE. Sign. Me. Up.

Then I realized we'd never be picked because it would make the most boring show ever. Phillip is actually extremely competent at taking care of the house and kids when I'm gone, and actually he does it with a lot less drama, disaster, and whining than I do.

This is the only time I've been sad about that.


For a Saturday morning treat, I decided to make waffles for the kids for breakfast.

I was using a recipe from the Internet and doubling it, which was okay until I got to "1¾ cup of milk." For crying out loud, how is a person supposed to double 1¾ first thing in the morning?

In the end, I'm embarrassed to say it took two people and this paper to figure it out:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Apparently early morning is not the right time for this.

It wasn't until I grabbed a pen with my daughter looking up at me expectantly that I realized I have no idea how to multiply fractions anymore.


Pleased to announce that my baby goes into nursery this Sunday! For those of you who aren't Mormon, allow me to explain: after church there are 2 hours of Sunday School for kids and adults, but until they are 18 months old and start going to nursery during those hours, babies stay with their parents.

The last 4 months waiting for him to be old enough for nursery have been a nightmare. Literally two hours of counting down the seconds, every week. He is SO BORED. He rejects any snack or toy I offer. Sometimes I have to leave the building and walk around outside because he's generally going nuts. Phillip and I joke that he must not like organized religion.

Sometimes he likes to join Phillip at the piano in the children's room for singing time, but I have to take him back outside when he starts whacking the keys with too much gusto.

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

This past Sunday, however, he was actually very calm and sweet and I found myself thinking to myself how sad I was he wasn't going to be with me anymore!

How quickly we forget.


My daughter's school theater is doing Annie this year, so I watched the movie with the kids this week to refresh their memories.

A few days after that, our house had gotten super messy and I was doing a lot of yelling at everyone to clean up. One of my children subtly reminded me to talk nicer by chanting back to me in a sing-song voice, "We love you, Miss Hannigan!"

I admit I've always kind of empathized with Miss Hannigan when she sings "Little Girls," but I guess it wouldn't hurt to use a nicer tone of voice when enforcing clean-up time.


When I'm not freaking out about the messy house (see the take above,) I try to be tolerant and understanding of the mess. I try to remember that growing up is a very complex project, and we've got 6 of these very complex projects going on at the same time, so it's bound to get a little disorganized around here sometimes.

One thing I sometimes tell Phillip is, "It's not a museum, it's a laboratory."

"I don't know," he said, looking around doubtfully. "My lab at work looks a lot cleaner than this."

Of course, Phillip's labmates don't dump out all the contents of his desk and spread feces on the wall when he's in the other room for a few minutes, so I guess it's not a perfect comparison. But I still think it works.


Grandma sent some toys for the kids, including one of these cool coloring books for my 3-year-old. You paint the pages using a special pen filled with water, and the colors appear on the pages. When it dries out, the color disappears and you can use it again and again.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}Of course, he didn't know what it was and ruined it immediately by coloring every page with an orange marker.

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

It's like he saw a no-mess toy and was like, "Lemme take care of that real quick."

This is why I do deep breathing exercises while repeating to myself, "It's not a museum, it's a laboratory. It's not a museum, It's a laboratory."

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Monday, October 30, 2017

10 Parenting Myths, Busted

There are certain pieces of commonly accepted parenting "truths" that are about as fact-based as the tooth fairy.

Maybe it's wishful thinking. Maybe it's just that these things sound like they should be true. Maybe in our sleep-deprived state, we parents are willing to believe just about anything.

In our vulnerable, sleep-deprived state, we parents are willing to believe just about anything.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Whatever the reason, we all get fooled by these 10 brazen lies about parenting, at least some of the time.

1. If you want your kids to sleep in tomorrow, put them to bed later. It seems like simple logic and math, but somehow the reverse is actually closer to the truth. In fact, kids who go to bed late have a good chance of actually waking up earlier and acting like manic hobgoblins for the rest for the day. Have fun with that.

2. Just ignore the whining. Generally, any parenting truism that starts with the word "just" is a load of crap. There is no "just" doing anything when you're a parent. Kids don't just whine because it's effective at getting them what they want (although that's an added plus for them.) They whine because they enjoy hearing the sound issue forth from their lips. You really can't do a thing about it.

3. A consistent bedtime routine eliminates bedtime battles. You can do an hour song-and-dance routine of bath and stories, but the fact is they're still going to come out of their room 300 times after you say good night. There aren't enough drinks of water or bedtime songs in the world to prevent it. Sorry.

4. If they're worried about monsters, fix it with some "monster spray." Maybe this is redundant after busted myth #3, but kids at bedtime aren't actually scared of monsters. They're just stalling, and by wasting your time decorating a bottle of "monster spray" (a.k.a: water) you've played right into their sticky little hands. Next thing you know you'll be handing over your credit card and moving into the spare room so they can have yours.

5. You can sleep when the baby sleeps. People like to tell this to new parents because it makes them sound wise. Like Confucius. But when the haze of sleep-deprivation clears, you'll realize it makes no sense. By extension, you should also be cooking when the baby cooks and cleaning when the baby cleans, and that leaves just a few holes in this sage advice.

6. Validating your child's feelings calms them instantly. Don't get me wrong: if your kids throws a fit because she doesn't want to stop playing when it's time for preschool, saying empathetic things like "It's fun to play, isn't it? You don't want to leave your toys" isn't going to hurt. Just don't expect it to help, either.

7. Don't referee your children's arguments. For every time I've seen a disagreement where kids work it out by themselves, I've seen 9 more that end with the biggest one sitting on the other, a screaming match, or one kid running away with hands over ears yelling "I can't hear you!" and the second running behind them screeching like a banshee.

8. Don't buy toys and you won't be surrounded by clutter. The answer to an overstuffed playroom is just to stop buying toys, right? False. Kids are hoarders. They will fill your house with scraps of paper with random pieces of tape on them. They will pile identical-looking collections of acorns, rocks, and dead withered-up wildflowers everywhere. And let's not forget the flimsy plastic party favors that barely even work, nevertheless the kids bond with them as if they were long-lost blood relatives.

9. Keep a clean car by not allowing food inside. This is not a battle you can win. Until the last kid moves out, you're going to be driving a landfill on wheels. Science has yet to discover how they do it, but children are capable of converting the oxygen they breathe into crumbs and granola bar wrappers.

10. Sippy cups will prevent spills. The search for an actually spill-proof cup is the parenting quest for the Holy Grail. Does it even exist? No one knows. Just when you think you've found one, your kid proves you wrong by turning it upside-down and shaking out the entire contents into your purse.

And even after busting all those parenting myths we'd love to believe, the annoyances and the messes of family life are still oddly worth it. Nothing destroys your sleep, your house, and your sanity like having kids  and we wouldn't have it any other way.

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