Monday, October 24, 2016

Struggling to Balance It All

Today, I quit. I was working out on the living room floor, when mid-leg lift, I just quit. I was done.

Done with not getting enough sleep.

Done with tackling the never-ending pile of laundry and dishes every day.

Done with listening to the kids argue over who has more dominoes.

I was just done.

I go to bed too late and wake up too early every morning. I stumble out into a kitchen that's somehow already a mess, even though we cleaned it after dinner last night.

It's 6 AM, and I already feel behind.

There's the morning rush of getting everybody up and fed and dressed and off to school, and then I still have littles at home with me, begging for snacks before I've even cleared the breakfast dishes.

There are a zillion things on my to-do list today, all of which were swirling around in my head last night when I was supposed to be sleeping.

I clear the table. I change some diapers. I kiss a boo-boo. I make my breakfast and forget about it. I nurse a baby. I start to work out. Check, check, check.

But my mind keeps reeling off new items, faster than I can even remember them. My daughter needs a new soccer ball. I have to call our health insurance company about a strange bill. Yearbook order forms are due soon. It's getting chilly and all the kids' winter clothes are still up in the attic.

I get up off the floor in a huff and stomp into the bathroom. My to-do list won't leave me alone, even when I'm doing something (like working out) that's on it.

I lock the door, get in the shower, and just stand there letting the hot the water spill over my face, trying not to think of anything that needs to get done.

No matter how hard or how smart I work, there's no way to work long enough to get it all done. How am I supposed to find a balance?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Over the last year, I've read at least a hundred articles on productivity. I should know better by now, but every time I get suckered in by the headline that promises to contain the magic bullet I need to finally be everywhere, do everything, and accomplish all the things.

But the fact is that it's not a matter of working hard enough or smart enough. The problem is that I can't possibly work long enough to do it all.

And therein lies the problem: how do I divide the important from the unimportant when everything feels like a must-do item and there aren't enough hours in the day?

What do you do when every single thing you accomplish only makes you more anxious about the 100 other things you're not doing?

I ponder this question until I notice that the shower curtain's getting scummy and needs to be cleaned. So much for escaping my to-do list in here.

I turn off the water, I towel off my face.

Scientifically speaking, a living thing is alive because inside, there's a constant struggle to maintain balance. One chemical reaction after another, all aimed at achieving homeostasis, and that's life. The only time our bodies are truly at equilibrium is when they're dead.

Maybe I'm struggling to find a balance that doesn't even exist. Maybe everyone I know feels this way at least some of the time.

One day I might learn how to keep the plates all spinning more seamlessly, or maybe I'll just get better at figuring out which ones can fall without bringing down the whole act. 

For now I'll have to settle with a resolution to sleep more and pray more, and try to be patient with myself. 

And the next time someone stops me in the grocery store, gesturing to my kids and asking "How do you do it?" I'll just be honest and answer "I have no idea. But I'm open to suggestions."

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Friday, October 21, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Butchers Who Also Cut Hair, Ruining the Class Picture, and Cooking Biscuits with Wild Abandon

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


My son's cub scout den had a visit from a veteran who came to tell them about his service in the Navy.

This guy spent a month or so on a submarine, and that was really exciting for my son to hear about. I know because they were asked to write thank-you cards afterward and this was the front of his:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
KA-BLAM!!! I mean, thank you.

I can almost keep myself from laughing because I shouldn't really laugh, but then I see the stick figure sailing headfirst into the smokestack and totally lose it every time.


We haven't played Pictionary for years but we pulled it out one night this week. Having older kids who can play games other than Candyland is fun.

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

Even the 4-year-old joined in, and truthfully her drawings were better than mine. I've already mentioned the infamous pig-car story, so let's just say my right brain must be sort of busted.

For example, when I drew a hairdresser the kids guessed "butcher."

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Drawn with my dominant hand, people. Let that sink in for a minute.

Close enough.


Speaking of having older kids, I'm absolutely loving it. I could do a 3-hour infomercial about how awesome it is having older kids.

When they're little and all you do is refill sippy cups and buckle five-point harnesses and wipe butts all day, you can't possibly fathom that one day in the future you'll be watching your 12-year-old making tacos for dinner completely on her own.

And let me tell you, hearing your 12-year-old not only cooking dinner for the whole family but teaching your 10-year-old how to chop an onion is pretty much the sweetest sound in all the land.


I went to the dentist for a cleaning and was informed that my gums are receding. Naturally, I was concerned because this sounds appalling.

My conversation with the dental hygienist went like this:

"Is it reversible?"


"So what should I be doing about it?"

"Well, you don't want brush too aggressively. But you also don't want to brush too soft or you'll be leaving plaque behind."


"But even then, it might continue. So it's just something to be aware of."

Oh good, because lying awake at night worrying about getting a skin graft in my mouth  is, like, one of my favorite things.


I opened my email to find a sign-up list for items needed for the upcoming Halloween party in my kid's class at school.

Volunteering is tricky because it means I have to put on real pants and find someone to watch two kids and a baby  but sending in items, I can do! I'm the best at sending in items! Bring on the spreadsheet.

I scanned down the list to see what I could donate.

Package of plastic spoons? Drat. Taken.

Napkins? Someone already signed up for that, too.

Bananas? It's open. I guess I could send bananas, although I'd have to make a special trip to the store and  waaaaait a minute: "Please make the bananas look like mummies"??

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

Now I think I know why 'bananas' is still open. It's all coming together now.


I've never once ordered or even thought about ordering school pictures, but my kids' school sends home a complementary print of their class picture every year, anyway.

My son handed me his class picture the other day and I removed it from the envelope, letting my eyes meander around to admire it. Everyone looked so dressed-up and nice. Some were wearing new clothes that looked like they were specially purchased just for that occasion. Lots of the girls had their hair done so prettily.

And then I noticed my son.

Since I never buy school photos I don't typically pay attention to when picture day even is, which is pretty obvious since my son was the one with bedhead and a neon T-shirt that says "MONSTER" in all caps.

Yes, I am that mom who ruins the class picture for everyone. Feel free to Photoshop away, Other Parents. It won't even hurt my feelings.


Phillip was on a trip for work earlier this week, so the kids and I did what we always do when he goes out of town: pig out on gluten.

Gluten, if you don't know, is the protein in wheat. Ever since we found out about 5 years ago that Phillip's chronic exhaustion and a whole lot of other things bothering him was a gluten problem, all of our dinners have been gluten-free.

We do this happily because it makes him feel better. But we really miss pizza.

(Yes, I know there's gluten-free pizza, but if you're even going to suggest that to me it means you haven't tried it because it's terrible.)

On the last day before he came home, we had the best biscuits and gravy imaginable. Made from scratch because we wanted to feel the flour running through our fingers. We were singing songs of praise and slinging handfuls of it across the room just for the joy of cooking with wheat.

Maybe I exaggerate. But my point is, if there were a way to extract only  the gluten and just serve a bucket of it for dinner and suck it all down with a straw when Phillip's out of town, we would 100% do that.

He's home now, though, so we'll try to reign ourselves in until his next trip.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Realistic Virtue Names for Your Baby

The practice of naming babies after cherished virtues dates back to the Puritans, who were famous for saddling their kids with labels like Temperance and Constance. Charity and Grace are still common names today, and from time to time you might even meet a Serenity or a Verity.

Giving your child a virtue name vocalizes the hopes and dreams for the goodness you'll one day see in your child.

However, you might not even realize the irony in what you've done until 2-year-old Patience is screaming face-down on the floor of the cereal aisle because you took 3.5 seconds to unwrap her granola bar.

So might I suggest some more realistic virtue names to give your bundle of joy? Because why kid ourselves.

Charity and Grace are nice, but let's do ourselves a favor and call a spade and spade, okay?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


The soft vowel sounds in this word meaning 'rudely intrusive and presumptuous' make it a lovely name that rolls off the tongue. It'll also describe your child perfectly when you tell him not to touch your iPhone again and he looks you straight in the eye while deliberately poking it in slow-motion with one finger. Other names you might like: Insubordination, Mutiny, and Delinquency.

Charity and Grace are nice, but let's do ourselves a favor and call a spade and spade, okay?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


This sophisticated way to say 'riotous uproar' or 'utter chaos' is a fantastic choice for parents who want everyone who meets their child to know what they're up against. But if you have a longer last name you may want to go with something that's less of a mouthful, like Bedlam or Anarchy. Other names you might like: Cacophony and Entropy.

Charity and Grace are nice, but let's do ourselves a favor and call a spade and spade, okay?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


Meaning 'enslavement,' this word comes from the Latin phrase for 'bringing under a yoke.' While it might seem like an awfully grown-up name for your little peanut, you'll quickly see how appropriate it is when you've been holding her and swaying for 4 hours straight in the dead of night because you aren't allowed to sit down. Other names you might like: Dominance and Sovereignty.

Charity and Grace are nice, but let's do ourselves a favor and call a spade and spade, okay?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


The offbeat, edgy sound of this underused name guarantees that it will go mainstream someday, but for now it's still relatively unheard of. It's a highly versatile word that can mean either 'violent upheaval' or 'extensive flooding,' both of which will appear to have happened recently in your living room from the time your child begins crawling to approximately the day he moves out. Other names you might like: Recklessness, Demolition, and Detonation.

Charity and Grace are nice, but let's do ourselves a favor and call a spade and spade, okay?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Inconsistency and Aversion

What better way to dub your dynamic duo than with the names of the twin hallmarks of childhood? Inconsistency, or 'the arbitrary and illogical changing of viewpoints,' leads a child who formally loved something as innocuous as bananas or socks to suddenly develop an aversion (or 'intense hatred') to the same objects overnight. Other twin names you might like: Vexation and Intensity.

Charity and Grace are nice, but let's do ourselves a favor and call a spade and spade, okay?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


Equally darling on either a boy or a girl, this moniker ensures that your child will stop at literally nothing to get answers: How do planes stay up? Can I have another drink? What happened to all the leftover brownies? Forward-thinking yet classic at the same time, this name will always stand up to just one more round of questioning. Other names you might like: Petition, Insistence, and Relentlessness.

It's true that the sky's the limit for virtue names, but the wise parent will choose something a little more down to earth.

Since this is the name you'll be calling after your child as they run away from you in department stores for years to come, let's do ourselves a favor and just call a spade a spade.

What's your favorite realistic virtue name for baby?

Charity and Grace are nice, but let's do ourselves a favor and call a spade and spade, okay?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Monday, October 17, 2016

How Not to Have a Successful Spiritual Pilgrimage with Kids in 10 Simple Steps

Earlier this week, our family took the opportunity to tour the Hartford, Connecticut temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Our family took a trip to the open house of the Hartford, Connecticut Mormon (LDS) temple. For some reason I seemed to think this was a good idea at the time.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

To us, the Mormon temple is an extremely special part of our theology. Usually only certain adults can go inside temples, but when a new one is built there's initially a 3-4 week open house where anyone can come in and take a tour.

Here's what we learned about how NOT to take a successful spiritual pilgrimage with your children, in 10 simple steps.

Step #1: Wake Them Up Super-Early

We decided to go on Wednesday, when the kids had a day off school for Yom Kippur. Of course, we waited to reserve a tour time until the only tours left were, as my 12-year-old self would've said, "at the buttcrack of dawn." This should have been a sign to us to abort the whole plan and turn back. It wasn't.

Step #2: Change Plans at the Last Minute

A friend who was going with us got sick in the night and cancelled, and then Phillip found out about something happening at work that he really should be there for, and since he was no longer needed as an extra driver we decided he'd go into work while I took the 6 kids to the open house. By myself.

Step #3: Be Extremely Overconfident

When Phillip expressed his concern about me doing all the driving and kid-wrangling alone, I waved him away with an arrogant, "Please. I do this all the time. It'll be fine." Thus setting the stage for the perfect storm.

Step #4: Don't Bring Enough for Them to Do in the Car

We were on the road by 7:01 AM. I was going to take a picture of the clock but I didn't want to set a bad example for my tween who I've told never ever EVER to use your phone while you're driving. But apparently I didn't do everything right, because I heard "I'm bored" a bazillion times, except from the child who amused themself by quietly drawing all over the car speakers with a dry erase marker.

Step #5: Make an Unscheduled Pit Stop

One child claimed they were about to sustain serious kidney damage if we didn't pull over right that second, so we stopped at a rest stop with the world's grossest port-a-potties. I mean, all port-a-potties are the world's grossest, but these were even grosser. They were full practically up to the top, and you know how when one kid goes to the bathroom the rest suddenly realize they have to go, too?

Step #6: Count on Your Toddler Not to Freak Out about Something Ridiculous

We finally arrived and joined our tour group, but the fun was just beginning. Before going in to the temple, the open house people ask everyone to help protect the carpets inside by putting these little shower cap-looking things over their shoes. If this doesn't sound like it's a rough equivalent to Chinese water torture, you're obviously not my 2-year-old.

Step #7: Wait Until the Last Moment to Check the Baby's Diaper

Our family took a trip to the open house of the Hartford, Connecticut Mormon (LDS) temple. For some reason I seemed to think this was a good idea at the time.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}Once we had our shoe booties on and were literally walking into the temple with our tour group, I picked the baby up out of the stroller to carry him inside  and Houston, we had a problem. He hadn't pooped for a few days, and had chosen this as a great time and place to let it all out. Note to self: babies just love a good explosive diaper blowout at the holiest edifice on earth.

Step #8: Get Poop on Everything

We were already a public spectacle, with so many kids crowded around and the toddler alternately whining and raging about his shoe covers. Now we were also blocking traffic with a poopy baby. We high-tailed it over to the side to change his diaper in the stroller, which was neither easy nor neat. A sweet volunteer came over to dispose of the soiled diaper which was covered with poop both inside and out. I repeat: this nice man was touching poop that wasn't even his own kid's, and everyone knows that's the grossest kind of poop.

Step #9: Miss Your Tour

Our group went on without us, not wanting to stick around to see the rest of the show, and who could blame them? But the open house chairman took pity on us and offered, in his own words, "to give your sweet family a private tour." He snuck us in between two tours so we could still see everything (but first we all had to get new shoe booties; I'll let you just imagine how that went over with the toddler.)

Our family took a trip to the open house of the Hartford, Connecticut Mormon (LDS) temple. For some reason I seemed to think this was a good idea at the time.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files} Step #10: Attempt to Juggle Two Crying Children

At this point, a smarter woman may have just retreated to the car and driven home never to leave the house again, but we soldiered on. Throughout the temple tour the baby was fussy and required a whole lot of bouncing and shushing, which would've been fine if the 2-year-old wasn't growling and refusing to walk. In the end, the tour guide ended up carrying the baby while I carried the toddler, calmly showing us the rooms, asking my older kids questions, and never once letting on that we were just one bearded lady short of a circus side show.

Before we left home so very early that morning, we'd all said a prayer that visiting the inside of the temple that is so sacred to us would be a spiritual experience.

By "spiritual experience," I had NOT meant rushing through the temple squeezed between scheduled tours, feeling self-conscious and anxious about how much inconvenience we were causing everyone.

But surprisingly, I did have a spiritual experience that day after all. The reactions of everyone around me was a sweet reminder that God loves families.

No one made me feel like a spectacle or a bother (even though we were totally both,) not even the poop-touching volunteer. The open house chairman who offered us a special tour kept calling us a "sweet family," even as my toddler was giving him the stink-eye the entire time.

It meant a lot to me to see Christ-loving people embrace not just the abstract idea of "the family," but my  family and all the mess, noise, and chaos that goes along with it.

I guess to paraphrase a verse from Galatians, sometimes the fruit of the spirit is love, gentleness, meekness, goodness, and acting like it's totally no big deal to handle someone else's kid's poop.

Our family took a trip to the open house of the Hartford, Connecticut Mormon (LDS) temple. For some reason I seemed to think this was a good idea at the time.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Friday, October 14, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Bringing in the New, Voodoo Math, and a Dire Prediction for the Future of Arts and Crafts

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


A local park in our town was recently renovated, and I have to say that version 2.0 is pretty cool. After our first time visiting since the rebuild, I asked my kids what they thought and was confused about how unenthusiastic they were.

Then I remembered: these are the same children who, when we got new couches to replace our 1980s brown floral monstrosities (just kidding Mom and Dad, thanks for the hand-me-downs) would go down into the basement on a regular basis just to sit on them quietly because they weren't ready to embrace the new ones yet.

In time, I'm sure they'll accept the new park. Maybe.


My daughter's science class is starting dissection. Specifically, chicken wings. I thought it was hilarious how the email from the school was so emphatic about not having to touch them if you don't want to.
It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

When I was her age, my science class had to dissect rats. And not cute rats, they were like bloated mutant sewer rats the size of housecats.

I don't remember much from that unit other than a kid named John getting sent to the principal's office for scalping his, putting the ears on his head, and singing the Mickey Mouse theme song. So she's in for a wild time.


My son came to me after finishing his homework one night saying "Mom, I can add any two numbers in the hundreds. Wanna see?"

"Okay," I said, "228 plus 167."

And then he wrote down this sorcery:

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

What. The. What.

He got the right answer but I had no idea how he did it.

I had to have him explain it to me twice, do a second problem while I watched, and then explain it to me one more time. Later I tried to teach it to Phillip but got confused again.

It was devilry. Witchcraft. But I liked it. 

It was (and is) hard to wrap my 34-year-old brain around a new way of adding, but once I got it I could see that it helped him conceptualize place value and what he's actually doing, as opposed to my signature "guess and check" method of just moving digits around like I did when I learned to carry numbers in elementary school.

Having kids keeps your brain young.


For movie night, we watched We Bought a Zoo starring either Matt Damon or Ben Affleck (years ago they did a couple of movies together and now in my mind they're the same person.)

I thought it was pretty good, but Phillip was sensitive to the age gap in the romantic interest. I said that I guessed it was because there are no old women in Hollywood, and even if there are, they aren't allowed to look like it.

That turned to a conversation on aging in general and Phillip kissed me and said, "I'm glad you don't look like you're 20. I like a seasoned woman."

I guess that means we're getting older, because one of my favorite things about his appearance is the laugh lines that appear around his eyes when he smiles. Every time I see them, it makes me think of what a good life we've had. We built those laugh lines together.

When I told him so, he smiled (purposely exploiting my weakness for the laugh lines) and said "So you like a weathered old beast like me, too?"


My aunt and uncle stopped by on their way through New England on a 3-week tour of the U.S. in their camper (sounds rough, right?)

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
My 4-year-old set up a folding chair in the driveway to watch them unload.

They stayed with us for a few days and parked in our driveway, which basically turned it into Disneyworld for my kids. Had I known, I would've bought a camper years ago and saved myself the trouble of ever purchasing toys.

The whole 48 hours they were here, my kids were obsessed. They woke up at 6 AM begging to go out to the camper. The older kids got to sleep in it, which was probably the actualization of all their childhood hopes and dreams.

All they did in there was color or read, and I think there may have been popcorn involved, but the novelty of doing it in a camper (kind of a glorified tree fort, I'm thinking) made it the funnest activity in the world.

And then after they left, I found my kids playing with this:

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

Like I said, they're obsessed.


Nifty purchase of the week:

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

I'm excited about the zero waste factor of tubeless TP, but to be honest, I'm extremely concerned about what this is going to mean for the future of preschool crafts.

In the last decade I've seen toilet paper tube pilgrims, owls, pencil holders, mermaids, octopi, and, I kid you not, Martin Luther King, Jr. What in the world are they going to do when toilet paper goes tubeless??

And then I came across this Etsy link selling bulk lots of toilet paper tubes for crafts.

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

It seems like 12.5¢ a tube is pretty pricey considering that they're literally selling garbage, but then again, these are going to be hot commodities someday.

I think I'm going to start saving mine now and once I sell out at age 75 I'll have a fantastic retirement cushion. Who needs a 401k?


If you're Mormon, and especially if you're Mormon in New England, you know that a new temple was recently built in Connecticut. There are only 150-ish of them in the entire world, and temples are a really important part of our religious worship, so it's kind of a big deal.

When they build a new temple they have an open house so that any members of the public, including children, can see the inside. After the open house it's only open to adult Mormons who've met certain religious standards, so my kids were really excited to go see it.

A few days before we went, our Family Home Evening (kind of like a family devotional) was about temples. We watched this video:

We had a little Q&A session about the temple and what it's for, and then challenged the kids to have a temple drawing contest. But they had to do it with their eyes closed.

Winner of the 'Biggest Temple' award:

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

'Most Angelic' (the angel on top was nicely drawn):

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

'Most Concentric Temple':

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

And lastly, 'Loudest Temple' (get a load of that huge trumpet the angel on top is holding:)

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

The award, of course, was strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream and brown sugar sprinkled on top. Phillip came up with the presentation.

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

(I wish I'd gotten a picture of the finished product, because they were almost too pretty to eat. I say 'almost' because we devoured them immediately and without regret.)

I plan to post about our trip to the temple open house next week, in case you're wondering how it went. Spoiler alert: I'm thinking about the title "How NOT to Take Your Family on a Spiritual Pilgrimage" and it involves an epic diaper blowout.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Tooth Fairy Manifesto

So your child lost their first tooth! Congratulations.

Beyond having a vague notion that the Tooth Fairy will come and exchange the tooth for money, chances are you haven't given much thought to how s/he will actually operate in your house.

I understand, because for the last 6 years you've probably been busy trying not to die from exhaustion and buying stock in chicken nuggets. I get it.

That's why I'm here to help!

The thing I've learned about children is that they really respond to a firm set of expectations and rules. Especially in the form of a legally binding document. So here we go.

You're welcome.

*  *  *  *

Dear delightful youngster:

I'm your Tooth Fairy! I look forward to servicing you for the next 6-ish years.

In order to facilitate the creation of a memorable and magical childhood, I'd like to get on the same page about what we each bring to this working relationship.

Basic Terms and Conditions

First, this letter does not constitute an employer-employee relationship. I, the undersigned, remain an independent contractor.

As per our prior understanding, I will:
  1. Remove any baby teeth from beneath your pillow
  2. Replace the aforementioned teeth with money
  3. That is all
I will not leave glitter footprints, sugar-free lollipops, signed "I Lost a Tooth!" certificates, rhyming treasure hunt clues, stuffed animals, little toys from Oriental Trading Company, or photoshopped pictures of me hovering over your sleeping body.

I will, on occasion, leave behind a computer-generated note in tiny script font explaining why I forgot to come for the previous 1-3 nights. My apologies in advance.


I will not pay exorbitant sums of money like your friend Aidan at the bus stop says he gets. It's a tooth, not the Hope Diamond.

Should you be dissatisfied with the amount of money you find under your pillow in the morning, I'm sure your parents would be more than happy to allow you to earn more by doing extra chores.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property law forbids your parents from divulging trade secrets, so please don't ask them.

If you have inquiries, please refer to the next section of this agreement.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

In the spirit of transparency and childlike wonder, I've compiled some frequently asked questions from kids like you about my job.

Q: What do you do with the teeth?

A: I certainly am NOT responsible for creepy jewelry made from baby teeth.

I hate to be too technical about this, but once they're no longer in your mouth your teeth are medical waste. I promise to dispose of them in a manner that is completely in accordance with all applicable state and federal laws.

Q: Do you know Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

A: Why would you even ask that? There is nothing similar about us, except that we are all 100% real and in no way a well-intentioned mass deception perpetrated by those you trust to tell the truth.

Q: Are you really just my mom and dad?

A: Preposterous. Why in the world would your parents want all of your baby teeth? (Note to self: Find out why kids' parents would want all their baby teeth.)


I realize that before you're done losing your last molar, you'll probably start to question the validity of my existence.

Please note that your compliance, whether genuine or fabricated, is essential to your continuance in the Tooth Fairy program. In layman's terms: if you want to keep getting free money for doing nothing, keep doubts to yourself.

Whatever you do, don't ruin it for your younger siblings.


Placing teeth under your pillow constitutes acceptance of the terms and conditions set forth in this agreement. 

I look forward to our new partnership, and don't forget to floss.


A Tooth Fairy Manifesto -- Looking for a written terms and conditions agreement from the Tooth Fairy for your child? Look no further, moms and dads.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Friday, October 7, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Disrupting a Seasonal Friendship, a New Psychiatric Diagnosis, and Not Taking Any Chances in the Restroom

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


I wrote earlier about the highlights of our weekend, but I neglected to mention having our friends over for Sunday brunch. Yeah, we're fancy like that.

These are the same friends we go camping with every August, but during the rest of the year we're so busy we hardly talk to each other. We call them our "summer friends." Kind of like how some people have summer homes. Again, because we're fancy like that.

Anyway, even though it was a very busy weekend already we decided to try to make brunch on Sunday morning work. But I forgot that there is no way we're competent enough to be awake, dressed, ready, and  have a presentable meal on the table by 9:30.

So the morning started with a lot of banging pots around on the stove and general muttering on my part, but it turned out just fine.

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

I mean, we had little fruit tarts for dessert so it couldn't be that bad, right?


One reason our weekend was so busy was General Conference, a Mormon broadcast from our church leaders. Speakers are assigned topics but there's usually a feeling of order and cohesiveness throughout the talks, anyway.

The main themes I picked up were:

  1. Patience with ourselves, our faith, and God's timing (my favorite talk on this was "Fourth Floor, Last Door" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
  2. Joy comes from letting the gospel transform you; if you are just going through the motions you're missing out
  3. Repentance as a gift from God (in the words of Dale G. Renlund, "repentance is not only possible but also joyful because of our Savior.")

The text and video transcripts of all the talks are here, or you can see video of my favorites in this post. I highly recommend watching them with a toddler climbing on your head screeching like a fisher cat. I mean, I've never really watched them any other way, but it's worked for me so far.


Keeping a basket at the foot of the stairs has been life-changing for us. When junk from the kids' rooms migrates downstairs throughout the day, I throw it into the basket and they will theoretically take care of it later.

But after almost 5 years, our once-serviceable basket was looking pretty sad.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week? {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Technically we can't even call this a basket anymore, since it's just a pile of rubble.

The 2-year-old enjoyed helping me shop for a new one.

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

Much like when I go bathing suit shopping, he tried on every one in the store and finally settled for the first one he put on.


My housekeeping style over the last few days, according to Phillip, can best be described as "on the rampage."

Is there such a thing as Bipolar Cleaning Disorder (BCD)? Because I think I may have it.

I will walk straight past the jelly handprints on the dining room wall 10 times a day for a week, but when I finally decide to wipe it up a strange compulsion to scrub the entire room from top to bottom overtakes me. Resistance is futile.

So I do, but the problem is that I must be living in a house full of magicians or wizards because as soon as I blink, the room looks exactly as messy and dirty as it did before I spent 3 hours on it.

I need to get a stack of those little cards that hotel maids leave behind to let you know that the room was serviced while you were out, except mine will say, "I just cleaned this house. DON'T TOUCH IT."


We're looking forward to a visit from some relatives we haven't seen for a long time, long enough that my 4-year-old doesn't remember who they are.

She was asking me all kinds of questions to jog her memory: What do they look like? Do they have glasses? What color is their hair?

"Well, your great-uncle has gray hair," I said.

"Is he really old? Is he this small?" she said, crouching down on the floor to demonstrate a really shrunken old person who is only a foot and a half tall.


My 7th grader's school just had Eat Lunch with Your Child Day. I asked my daughter if she wanted me to come and her answer was a noncommittal shrug and an "If you want to."

And then I mentioned I could bring the baby and she was suddenly thrilled with the idea of showing him off to her friends having her dear mother joining her for lunch.

He wasn't sure what he thought of being passed around a noisy middle school cafeteria but he was the star of the 23-minute lunch period.


Meanwhile, in the bathroom:

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

Not sure why there is a bike helmet in here. All I can say is that my kids must take safety very seriously.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »