Friday, July 22, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Breaking Up with Tom Cruise, How We Might All Die from Bird Flu, and Why Environmentally-Friendly Disposable Diapers Never Caught On

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

1


Well, it's official: I have watched my last action movie ever. And it's not you, Edge of Tomorrow, it's me. I've just reached an age where I can comfortably say that I've given you and your genre a fair shot, and I legitimately don't like you.

The plot was actually pretty good. If Edge of Tomorrow was a book, I'd be all over that. It's just that I hate noisy battle scenes, which always drag on for infinity.

After 3 explosions my eyes glaze over, and after more than 15 consecutive seconds of gunfire I go into a catatonic stupor. Somehow it's both sensory overload, and incredibly boring at the same time.

2


My oldest daughter went to church camp for the 12-17 year old girls in our area, and had a great week. Her two favorite activities were making things in the craft barn and the archery range. Oh yeah, and all that spiritual stuff.

She also brought home this hawk feather she found, which I have to admit looks pretty cool, but I unfortunately inherited a visceral revulsion to bird feathers from my mother.

7 Quick Takes about Breaking Up with Tom Cruise, How We Might All Die from Bird Flu, and Why Environmentally-Friendly Disposable Diapers Never Caught On  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Makes a fantastic quill pen AND can give you bird mites!

My kids can get dirty, catch frogs (that sometimes pee on them), have ticks hitch a ride on their scalps and I won't bat an eye. But for some reason I can't stand the thought of carrying around a bird feather. In my mind, those things are just crawling with disease.

Like, I am 99% sure they will catch the plague if they touch their face with it. And they always seem to touch their face with it.

Anyway, I'm trying not to overthink the bird feather and just be cool about it.

I remember finding a peacock feather as a child on the ground at a petting zoo and bringing it home, where I kept it in my room for several years. And I'm not dead yet.

Although my mom was probably in the other room having heart palpitations until the day I finally threw it out.

3


The day after my daughter came home, I had to pester her a few times to get her to unpack her duffle bag, hoping the whole while that she wouldn't notice the mostly-unpacked suitcase in my room from our Utah vacation two weeks ago.

In the last few years I've learned that's what parenting is all about: training your kids lovingly to do the right thing, while quietly ignoring your own good advice at least half the time.

4


The pack of disposable diapers I'm currently using up on my son may be good (or at least less bad) for the environment, but they sure do look gross.

They're unbleached diapers, meaning that they basically look like sheets of mottled off-white recycled paper versus crisp new sheets of white typing paper you'd buy at Staples.

Or, as Phillip said when he pulled the first diaper out of the package, "You bought the pre-pooped kind!"

Yes, it looks like the diapers are full of poop before you've even put them on the baby. (I debated including a picture in this post, but I thought that was kind of weird and decided against it.)

The thing is, I bought them because I found them in the clearance aisle at CVS for dirt-cheap, so maybe they really are pre-pooped. I guess that would explain the steep discount.

5


I've seen a lot of variations of the vinyl stick family you see on the backs of minivans, including zombies and Mickey Mouse, but this is probably the best one I've seen:

7 Quick Takes about Breaking Up with Tom Cruise, How We Might All Die from Bird Flu, and Why Environmentally-Friendly Disposable Diapers Never Caught On  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I'm still laughing over the little hooded Jawa that is their child. Every time my toddler walks around wearing a towel after his bath, that's what I'm going to see now.

6


Saw this sign sitting outside of our local lawn, garden, and pet supply store and wasn't sure it came across the way they wanted it to:

7 Quick Takes about Breaking Up with Tom Cruise, How We Might All Die from Bird Flu, and Why Environmentally-Friendly Disposable Diapers Never Caught On  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I'm assuming they're advertising to sweet old ladies with a chicken coop in the backyard, so hopefully their sign didn't attract any unsavory customers.

7


Finally, Phillip tore out our porch railing. This is something we've been talking about doing forever. The railings were only there for aesthetics, but since they were supremely ugly it  kind of defeated the purpose. We were okay with ugly, though, it was just that they'd also started falling apart.

One minute they were holding up okay except for one loose part, and the next minute entire sections of the railing were sagging and buckling until it looked like we lived in a haunted house.

I'm not even exaggerating, it was seriously unsafe. My mother-in-law leaned against one of the railings when she was here visiting after the baby was born and almost fell through.

And while we were at it (that's a lie, only Phillip was at it,) we decided to pry up the faded floor boards and replace them, which was hard, hot, sweaty, time-consuming work.

Not having a nail gun, Phillip pounded each individual nail with a hammer. Even though the porch isn't big, it was a lot of nails. So many that this happened halfway through:

7 Quick Takes about Breaking Up with Tom Cruise, How We Might All Die from Bird Flu, and Why Environmentally-Friendly Disposable Diapers Never Caught On  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
At this particular point in the project, Phillip is contemplating blowtorching the entire porch.

Phillip was less than thrilled, as you can see from this picture. At least it's (almost) done.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

All the Highs and Lows of Motherhood

Yesterday was errand day. Three hours' worth of errands (including a pit stop at the mall play place) with my 4-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son, and a newborn in tow.

In case you're wondering how it went, I got an invitation to cut in the register line in front of two (two!) people.

Because my children were driving everyone CRAZY and they wanted to get us out of there.

At the post office, my daughter grabbed the bell on the door and shook it until it sounded like Rudolph was having a seizure in the lobby. Once everyone in the post office was deaf, she showed her brother how much fun it was to play with the retractable line dividers.

(Eventually I was able to coax them away from there, but I kind of wish I hadn't because they just went back to the bell.)

At CVS, my daughter stretched out both of her arms for maximum contact with ALL the merchandise on the way to the baby care aisle, where the 2-year-old knocked over every single bottle of baby wash on the shelf behind me while I looked for the right size of diapers.

In Target, my son ran behind the automatic door while I was talking to the customer service lady and it opened on him when a shopper came in. He wasn't hurt, but I think the shopper had a heart attack from squashing a child.

In the grocery store I corralled my son in the basket of the cart where he gnawed on a block of cheese through the plastic wrapper until it was mush, and his sister asked for marshmallows 47 times.

It was supposed to be a short trip for just a few essentials, but I forgot to factor in the time it would take to find a store employee to clean up the egg my son cracked open in the middle of the cereal aisle.

All the Highs and Lows of Motherhood -- Three hours of errands with three little kids can be both awesome and terrible. Much like parenting itself.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I could stop right there and it would be a pretty amusing story about a hectic day. But that wouldn't be telling all of it. There were also plenty of moments when I was practically moved to tears by their sweetness.

  • In the car my 2-year-old pointed out every motorcycle he saw  and kept pointing it out until I acknowledged it. This is how it feels to be the most important person in someone's life. I'm lucky to have someone who loves me so much he wants me to be part of everything he sees.

  • At the same time, I was nodding and smiling as his 4-year-old sister talked nonstop planning every detail of her birthday parties for the next four years. I doubt she'll still want a pink and purple ballerina party when she's 8, but I love her enthusiasm all the same.

  • When I hoisted the baby's car seat out of the car at the post office, I told my 2-year-old "Hold hands in the parking lot!" I held out my hand, but he grabbed his sister's instead and I was so grateful that my kids were friends.

  • Walking through the mall, I couldn't help but laugh at my 4-year-old swinging her arms as she tried to speed-walk in front of all of us to lead the way to Target and the 2-year-old clomp-clomp-clomping after her like a refrigerator.

  • As they were both swinging from the sides of the cart like a merry band of pirates, I noticed a fellow shopper with her two teenage boys look wistfully after us. Her eyes crinkled and her expression almost audibly sighed, "Oh, I miss those days." Someday I'll remember this as the good old days, when everyone I loved was under one roof.

Yesterday, I spent three hours bouncing between two extremes: one minute I wanted to kiss my kids' downy little heads for pure joy and the next I wanted to leave them in the cart return for someone else to bring home. Repeat cycle.

Motherhood is both exasperating and wonderful. It's as fulfilling as it is draining.

That's why it can be so hard to answer the question, "How was your day?"

That's why Phillip never knows whether he's going to come home to find me weeping in despair as the kids demolish the house around me or whistling happily as they color to Mozart while a perfectly-cooked dinner is being put out on the table.

That's why we're all a little bit crazy sometimes.

Yesterday was errand day, but it was also a case study in all the highs and lows of motherhood.

When someone wants to know what it's like to be a mom, a thousand different things fly through my mind that all parents know but none of us can put into words.

Parenthood defies a simple answer, because each day is a jumble of everything the human heart could possibly hold.


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Monday, July 18, 2016

6 Things You Should Never Say to Anyone Ever

If you've got an Internet connection, you've probably already seen dozens of articles instructing you on the 7 Things Not to Say to Stay-at-Home Moms and the 5 Things Mothers of All Boys are Sick of Hearing. Also, you can't tell little girls they're pretty or say that a baby is chubby.

Turns out there's very little you can say to anyone without mortally offending their delicate eardrums!

I know you want to be sensitive, but finding an article outlining what you can't say to every conceivable type of person you might meet throughout the day... well, that's a lot of reading.

So I've simplified it for you, with this list of 6 things you should never say to anyone ever. You're welcome.
6 Things You Should Never Say to Anyone Ever -- The Internet has gone overboard with lists of "Things Not to Say to ________." If you think it's getting ridiculous, this post is for you.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

#1: What do you do for a living?


This seemingly innocent get-to-know-you question could potentially be offensive on so many levels. Besides the obvious fact that you may hit a sore spot with people who are looking for work or hate their current job, let's pretend you've just said this to a mom you met at your kids' 4th grade recorder concert.

If she's a stay-at-home mom, then you've basically just insinuated that being home with your kids full-time isn't real work and that's a real pig-headed thing to say. But if she also has a career outside the home, then how dare you imply that her life's most important work is something other than raising her children, you insensitive toad.

#2: Are you reading any good books right now?


How many enemies are you looking to make today, with a question like that? You, with your smug expression and your Kindle under your arm. Did it ever occur to you that maybe some people just don't have time to read and feel badly about that? How could it ever be a good idea to bring that up and reopen the wound?

And the fact is, not everyone enjoys reading, and who are you to say that everyone else needs to like a certain activity just because you say so? (Don't even get me started on the companion question, "Seen any good movies lately?" It's worse.)

#3: I'm so exhausted!


Really? Is this a contest? People never get tired of trying to one-up each other, and it's a surefire way to end up with hundreds of angry articles on the Internet called "An Open Letter to the Jerk in Line at Wal-Mart Who Said He Was Tired" directed right at you. And you'll have no one to blame but yourself when they go viral.

Even if you're not outright insinuating the other person isn't tired because they don't work as hard or they have a more frivolous life than you, it will absolutely come across that way. Definitely. Did they even ask if you're tired, anyway? Why is it always about you? Saying anything about yourself invites comparison and is just deliberately going out of your way to alienate people.

#4: How was your day?


Maybe they've had a bad day, and they don't want to talk about it. Shouldn't they be the ones to decide if they want to share personal details about their life with you, anyway? No one owes you a run-down of their day, so stop interrogating them already. This question shows zero respect for other people's personal boundaries, and quite frankly, casts your unwarranted judgment on all their life choices up to this point.

However, the alternative to asking about someone's day is not asking about their day, which clearly proves that you're a self-centered egotist who probably runs over fuzzy baby chipmunks on the road on purpose. Proceed with caution.

#5: I like your shirt/scarf/hat. Where did you get it?


You've got some nerve, if you practically come out and ask someone how much money they make like that. Either they'll say they bought it at Goodwill (in which case they'll feel inadequate) or they'll say they got it at Saks Fifth Avenue (and feel ashamed because there are kids starving in Africa.)

Or maybe they'll be embarrassed that they even bought it at all because they're trying to save the planet and only own upcycled things they found on the curb on garbage day! Any way you slice it, you simply cannot say this to someone or civilization as we know it will crumble to the ground.


#6: Wow, it's really hot/cold/cloudy/rainy today. 


If you talk about the weather with someone, you may as well be wearing a flashing neon sign that says, "I don't care to get to know the real you so I'll just make banal small talk until you go away." How offensive and presumptuous of you, and really, it's just displaying your own ignorance because every person is worth getting to know.

There's hardly another topic I can even think of that could be as inflammatory as the weather.


If the Internet has taught me anything, it's that you can't say anything to anyone without offending them. So it's probably best to just avoid leaving the house  the last thing I want to do is meet a human and then be forced to say something to them.

(If you liked this, you might want to see my popular post, "Favorite Responses to Comments on My Family Size." I'm not actually going to tell you what not to say to me  but this is probably what I'll say back if you're kind of rude!)


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Friday, July 15, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Superhero Confusion, Food That Could've Been Worse, and Bargain Prices for Top-Notch Mental Health Care

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

1


Before my 4-year-old randomly grabbed this easy reader at the library, I have to admit that I didn't know Wonder Woman's backstory. It's... interesting.

7 Quick Takes about Superhero Confusion, Food That Could've Been Worse, and Bargain Prices for Top-Notch Mental Health Care  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

You know, she's just your regular old Amazonian warrior princess turned top-secret government worker who fights crime with her magical lasso of truth. And talks to animals. And flies.

So many questions were raised by the reading of this book. Why does she need an invisible jet if she can fly by herself? How does spinning turn her into Wonder Woman? And does it get annoying constantly hitching up her costume so it doesn't fall down when she's saving the world?

I was procrastinating doing any real work researching for this post and found out that there's a Wonder Woman movie coming out next year. I also found the intro theme for the '70s TV show, and there's pretty much no way it can be better than that.

(Spoiler: I just about spit my drink out of my nose at "In your satin tights/Fighting for your rights." Plan your beverage intake accordingly.)


2


Since we're like quasi-vegetarians now (I still don't know how that happened, it's probably a phase,) I decided to just go off the deep end entirely and make veggie burgers.

I've never eaten one in my life but there's a first time for everything. And the recipe was called "Best-Ever Veggie Burgers." So. Can't argue with that.

I started prepping things a day early, because they were so much work. I was in my kitchen roasting beets and running them over a box grater, you guys. But by then I was in too deep to listen to reason and quit.

I convinced Phillip to help me finish the prep work after the kids went to bed, and here are some things you would've heard in our kitchen if you'd been there:

  • "This is SO gross." (roasted grated beets look like bloody entrails, FYI)
  • "It says 'salt to taste' but I don't want to put this in my mouth."
  • "There is no way this is going to taste good."
  • *gagging noises*

Despite our lack of faith in the process, the finished product was... okay.

7 Quick Takes about Superhero Confusion, Food That Could've Been Worse, and Bargain Prices for Top-Notch Mental Health Care  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


It didn't really taste like anything, actually. It was the texture we didn't like. They just sort of fell apart when you bit into them.

When you take into account how long they took to make, I'd say they were the least worth it thing I've ever done.

3


But that's not all the weird stuff I've been doing in the kitchen. I just made a batch of lactation cookies.

I've never made enough milk for my babies, even though I've tried drinking boatloads of water and even taking fenugreek supplements that came in giant horse pills that tasted like hay and made me smell like maple syrup. (It was delightful.)

But I've never tried lactation cookies, so I figured what could the harm be? Even if they don't work, I've still got cookies.

Besides, they're medicinal cookies so that means I don't have to share them with anyone.

4


We were looking over our health insurance statements and noticed that my 6-week postpartum checkup with my OB-GYN included a charge for "psychiatric."

I had to think hard about what that could mean until I remembered that in the lobby before my appointment I filled out a 10-question true/false survey to screen me for postpartum depression. It took maybe 20 seconds to fill out.

And that's what $7.50 of psychiatric services looks like.

5



With it being summer vacation and everyone home all day long, the kids are getting a little too familiar with each other and using not-so-nice voices to speak with each other.

So, problem-solvers that we are, we decided that we were going to put out a bar of soap in the entryway. Every time someone speaks unkindly, they have to go lick the soap.

(And yes, I am the mean mom who slips it in a Ziploc bag in her purse before we go to the park because hey, mean words can happen there, too.)

Our kids run the gamut in their reactions, from one who is so sure she never wants the soap that she turned into a saccharine-tongued princess overnight, to one who actually likes licking the soap and couldn't care less. I think overall, it's working though.

6


Phillip's new cell phone through work is legit fancy. It's even got high-tech fingerprint recognition to unlock it, which we thought was so cool until Phillip got a cut on his thumb and couldn't get in.

Eventually he racked his brain and was able to remember his backup password, but until he did I took great pleasure in using my phone in front of him unnecessarily just because I could. (He's always crowing about how his phone is better than mine.)

7


Here's a handy chart from our can of black olives that you might want to screenshot and keep handy for your reference:

7 Quick Takes about Superhero Confusion, Food That Could've Been Worse, and Bargain Prices for Top-Notch Mental Health Care  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Chips, you're a loser snack for loser-y losers.

What I want to know is, why are they comparing olives and chips? I get that they're both snack foods... kiiiind of. But a direct comparison is a little bit of a stretch.

But that reminds me, I need to go check the bag of baby carrots in the fridge to see whether they're healthier than Oreos; be right back.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

One a Day from Utah, Week 2

Our recent vacation to see our family in Utah was non-stop fun, especially for the kids.

In retrospect it may not have been a good idea to pack in so much fun stuff every day, because now the rest of their lives are going to be an incredible disappointment.

However, here's how Week 2 went. (If you missed Week 1, click here to read about it!)

One a Day from Utah, Week 2 -- Week 2 of our family's Utah adventure... and my best tip for navigating the airport with a half-dozen kids in tow.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

This was probably the most uneventful day of our entire two-week trip, partly because our regular plans were interrupted.

Phillip and I were on an overnight trip to celebrate our anniversary, but had to cut it short because someone rear-ended his sister at a red light and his mom (who was watching the kids) needed to go drive her to work. Her car got towed, which also meant we were short a car (we'd been borrowing one of theirs) and we were homebound for the day.

Grandpa did take out this nifty race track for the kids and I had to laugh at how they looked like spectators at a tennis match with their heads all going left and right watching the cars go around the track.

And then one of the remotes started smoking. Apparently it has three settings: low, medium, and on fire. Use at your own risk.

One a Day from Utah, Week 2 -- Week 2 of our family's Utah adventure... and my best tip for navigating the airport with a half-dozen kids in tow.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

In the morning we took everyone to the Museum of Church History in Salt Lake City. We'd meant to do it when we visited Temple Square the week before, but my kids were too busy touring all the public restrooms and we ran out of time.

We spent a lot of time checking out the religious art and playing at the hands-on children's exhibit on the second floor. And then visited the restroom before leaving, just so we didn't miss any in the city.

That evening, the boys left for an overnight camping trip in the Uinta National Forest (and come to think of it, I haven't seen a single picture from that) and the girls learned to make cute tote bags with Grandma.

I made all the curtains in our house by measuring and sewing straight lines, but I don't think I could sew with a pattern to save my life. So I'm glad Grandma could help them check that life skill off their bucket list.

One a Day from Utah, Week 2 -- Week 2 of our family's Utah adventure... and my best tip for navigating the airport with a half-dozen kids in tow.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Phillip's dad raises rabbits, and the day after we arrived the mama rabbit started nesting. She literally rips out a bunch of her own fur with her teeth to make a nest for the babies, and a few days later there was a litter of three little baby rabbits. Unfortunately, the runt died today but thankfully one of my girls and their cousin were able to give it a decent burial.

We did have many happy moments holding and playing with the remaining two babies over the course of the week, though. My younger kids didn't give a thought in the world to what Grandpa Bob does with the rabbits when they're full-grown because yay! fluffy bunnies! But my older kids were under no illusions and named them Dinner and Roasty.

Other members of our extended family started to arrive today, and we went to Seven Peaks waterpark. I have no idea what any of the kids did, as I essentially just nursed the baby in our cabana and farmed each of the kids out to a different uncle or aunt to take them on the waterslides. They went home happy and sunburnt, though, so they must've had a good time.

One a Day from Utah, Week 2 -- Week 2 of our family's Utah adventure... and my best tip for navigating the airport with a half-dozen kids in tow.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Now that everybody was here for the family reunion, it was family picture time. And I mean family picture.There were 12 adults and 14 kids (including a newborn, a 1-year-old, and a 2-year-old.) You can imagine the impossibility of getting everyone to look and smile at the same time.

But look at us all trying, though! That photographer (the one running around in khakis and the green shirt) was really earning his living that day, I tell you.

I'd like to insert a note to photographers here: no matter what, my kids aren't going to smile at someone they don't know. And if you get all up in my 2-year-old's face making duck noises and trying to get him to give you a high-five...? Maybe that kind of thing works with some kids. But you know how people during a traumatic event sort of leave their bodies as a mental coping mechanism? That's what mine do when photographers try to be their buddies. Sorry.

After pictures I took the little ones home for a nap, but I'm told that everyone had a fantastic time cooling off with water games like Drip, Drip, Drop and then divided up into teams for a scavenger hunt on the campus of Brigham Young University, where their dad and I went to school about a billion years ago.

One a Day from Utah, Week 2 -- Week 2 of our family's Utah adventure... and my best tip for navigating the airport with a half-dozen kids in tow.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Another Sunday, and we even got to church on time this week. After we got home, Phillip's sister organized something for the kids to do.

The cousins rarely see each other because we all live in different states, so they first played a get-to-know-you game (I learned that my daughter isn't the only weirdo in the world whose most hated thing is cotton  she refuses to touch cottonballs because of the way they feel.)

Then we played Faith Factor, a game that presumably came from the Internet that involved looking up scriptures, talking about them, and then choosing one of these bags with Minute To Win It-type challenges that cracked up all the kids.

Note to self: having two high-energy kids who hate to lose facing off against each other trying to blow a ping pong ball off their opponent's side of the table with a straw is just asking for someone to pass out.

One a Day from Utah, Week 2 -- Week 2 of our family's Utah adventure... and my best tip for navigating the airport with a half-dozen kids in tow.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

On Monday morning Phillip's parents reserved a shelter at a park for a BBQ. We ate, took turns supervising the little kids wading in the river, and organized a marshmallow-gun shooting game of some kind or other.

When I asked for clarification on the rules I was told that it was just like the Revolutionary War, but with marshmallows and everyone was having fun. So, there's our history lesson for the day.

Back at home, we all pulled out our camping chairs to watch a home fireworks show. Nothing too huge, but the kids were all impressed with the ones that shot up in the air and came down with a little parachute (everyone got a turn catching one.)

I'm mostly glad that we kept all toes intact and had no trips to the emergency room, since the uncle setting off the fireworks was barefoot.

One a Day from Utah, Week 2 -- Week 2 of our family's Utah adventure... and my best tip for navigating the airport with a half-dozen kids in tow.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

In researching before our trip, I found this Cascade Springs on a list of kid-friendly hikes in Utah and really wanted to go. It turned out to be more of a walk than a hike and a much longer drive than I anticipated, but I'm grateful to my family and my mother-in-law for humoring me and going along with it.

This was almost our last day here, so true to mom form I spent it doing laundry and other boring things in preparation to leave. Try not to be jealous of my glamorous life.

One a Day from Utah, Week 2 -- Week 2 of our family's Utah adventure... and my best tip for navigating the airport with a half-dozen kids in tow.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Somehow Delta removed our 4-year-old from our flight reservation and we were unable to check her in online, since she suddenly looked like an unaccompanied minor. I was pretty annoyed about that, but it didn't take too long to sort it out at the airport.

We'd learned a lot from our first flight and did everything a little smarter on the return trip. Even I was impressed with the well-oiled machine that was us getting through security. 

I can't speak for poor Phillip who was in charge of the very unhappy 2-year-old on the plane, but I actually enjoyed our flight because I was in charge of the baby who slept the entire time. My 12-year-old even taught me how to play backgammon on the touchscreens embedded in the backs of the seats ahead of us.

After landing, taking the shuttle to the place we'd parked our cars (and me freaking out because I momentarily couldn't find my keys) and the drive home, we dragged ourselves across the doorstep well after midnight. I think we're still adjusting to the time difference and catching up on sleep, but it's summer so who cares?


Also, a few people have requested advice for traveling with kids. My number one tip: never let them get in front of you. They have no idea where you're going. They have zero awareness that you're even going anywhere. They'll just stand there for infinity causing a massive traffic blockage and the airport version of road rage for everyone around you. Just keep moving and promise them snacks if they follow you.

You may not arrive at your destination with as many kids as you started out with, but on the plus side: more snacks for you.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

One a Day from Utah, Week 1

I mentioned on Friday that we just got back from a trip.

Phillip's parents plus 5 of his siblings and their families were all getting together for a family reunion over 4th of July weekend, and since we were flying out to Utah for the thing we were going to get our money's worth and stay for a good long while.

And now my kids and I have had more fun over the last two weeks than we will for the rest of 2016 combined.

I can prove it, using only one picture a day.

One a Day from Utah, Week 1 -- What happens when you fly 8 people across the country to see their family? Things get pretty crazy, that's what.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Behold, our mountain of crap at the airport! (And this was after we checked the car seats and one suitcase.)

We did our best to look inconspicuous while trailing through the airport with 6 rolling carry-ons, 5 backpacks, 2 duffel bags, a stroller, and a bazillion kids but somehow I think we still drew some amount of attention to ourselves. Go figure.

The flight was unfortunately at a hideous time of night. We'd hoped the kids would fall asleep on the plane. They did eventually, but the toddler moaned for 2 hours first and the baby cried unless he was eating (so he'd probably gained 5 pounds by the time we landed.)

We'd already reserved and paid for a rental car at an off-site place, but when we landed at 11:30 (which felt like 1:30 to us with the time difference) the shuttle had already made its last run for the day and the rental place was closed. (Thumbs up to us for reading the fine print on our rental agreement!)

Luckily, Phillip's mom came to our rescue and picked us up so we could just go to bed and sort it out in the morning.

One a Day from Utah, Week 1 -- What happens when you fly 8 people across the country to see their family? Things get pretty crazy, that's what.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The next day we headed to the swanky pool at Phillip's grandma's apartment complex, where my kids tried their best to drown their aunts and tired themselves out thoroughly.

That was after we'd already worn them out at a gigantic park nearby with a playground and a splash pad. There are splash pads everywhere in Utah, probably because it's 95 degrees every day and you'll burst into flames without them.

And don't give me that nonsense line about it being "a dry heat." That just means the sun's faster at bleaching the bones of people who drop dead in the desert sands.

One a Day from Utah, Week 1 -- What happens when you fly 8 people across the country to see their family? Things get pretty crazy, that's what.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Another day, another water park. We had lunch and played at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City that has not one, but two water areas. The second, pictured above, was my favorite. It was like a giant maze of running water, with some small waterfalls up at the top and an intricate system of concrete canals and bridges down to a little pool that was maybe a foot deep.

My kids discovered they could float their sandals down the canalways and probably would've done it all day if it we hadn't forced them to leave.

Grandpa then took everybody ages 8 and up to the shooting range for target practice with pistols and rifles. I'm not entirely sure how that's all legal since my 2nd-grader certainly doesn't have his firearm permit, but I wasn't there so it wasn't exactly my problem.

One a Day from Utah, Week 1 -- What happens when you fly 8 people across the country to see their family? Things get pretty crazy, that's what.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

After Phillip went out for dim sum with his siblings for lunch, we took the kids and hiked up to Cascade Springs.

It started out as the flattest, brownest, boringest hike you ever imagined, but once we started hearing the water things got more interesting.

At the top there was a group of young adults taking turns rappelling down the waterfall. They were clearly mentally unstable individuals. I was cringing just watching these guys get pummeled repeatedly in the face with freezing water on their way down.

"Well, it's something new, I guess," my mother-in-law said, reading my mind.

"So's waterboarding," I replied.

One a Day from Utah, Week 1 -- What happens when you fly 8 people across the country to see their family? Things get pretty crazy, that's what.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Church at my in-law's congregation starts at 8:30. In the morning. 

Considering we have a hard time getting anywhere before 10:30, I was pretty thrilled to be only 15 minutes late.

Anyway, we had a nice Sunday and it ended with the best surprise in the world for my two Harry Potter-obsessed girls.

About a year ago, we hatched a plan to send them to Harry Potter World with Phillip's similarly-obsessed sisters Megan and Jenny. (And yes, historically it's been very confusing to have two Jenny Evanses in the same family, which is why I was known for many years as Big Jenny because I'm older.)

Jenny and Megan showed the girls a Harry Potter World commercial, and after the last frame they inserted a picture of themselves saying, "Want to come to Harry Potter World with us?"

Spontaneous joy ensued.

One a Day from Utah, Week 1 -- What happens when you fly 8 people across the country to see their family? Things get pretty crazy, that's what.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

We spent the day on Temple Square. We ate lunch in front of the Salt Lake City temple while the big kids used my phone to look up the symbolism of the temple exterior and the little kids tried to dive headfirst into the reflecting pond.

After visiting every restroom within the entire 35-acre complex (I'm not even joking about this,) we went across the street to the Conference Center, where a big worldwide broadcast from our church leaders happens twice a year. The kids thought it was cool to actually be in the auditorium they've seen on television every 6 months since they were born. Kind of like visiting the set of your favorite TV show.

Before going back, the kids cooled off at (another) splash pad inside the City Creek shopping mall, where we got politely rebuked by the world's nicest security guard because the kids were playing in the fountain they weren't supposed to play with (which, for some reason, was located right next to the fountain they were supposed to play with.)

One a Day from Utah, Week 1 -- What happens when you fly 8 people across the country to see their family? Things get pretty crazy, that's what.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Phillip took the older three kids on a day hike to the top of Grandeur Peak. It was face-meltingly hot, as per usual, and a the climb was long and hard. But Phillip bribed the kids with ice cream and somehow they found it within themselves to make it to the top.

Before I saw pictures I asked, "Was it worth it?" The kids furrowed their brows and considered carefully, clearly thinking back to the ice cream. Then I saw pictures and just about fell over dead at the beautiful view. Ice cream was the highlight for them, really?!?

That afternoon Phillip and I left the kids with his parents and went on a belated overnight trip (we did bring the baby, and that's as close to alone as we get these days.) We try to do one every year around our anniversary.

One a Day from Utah, Week 1 -- What happens when you fly 8 people across the country to see their family? Things get pretty crazy, that's what.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The mango lassi was to die for.
We used hotel points (I guess something good comes out of him traveling for work, after all) and ordered some yummy Indian takeout which deserves its own picture even though I already gave one for today, relaxed in the hot tub overlooking the mountains, and watched a movie on the biggest TV I've ever seen.

It was a pretty awesome end to the week... and our trip was only half-over!

To be continued...  (Click here for Week 2.)

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Friday, July 8, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Coming Back to Work, Places You Can't Skateboard, and Celebrating American Independence by Shooting Marshmallows at Each Other

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

1


We just got back from visiting Phillip's family in Utah for two weeks, and it was the first time in a long time that I was actually on vacation while on vacation: no blogging. Or at least very little.

7 Quick Takes about Coming Back to Work, Places You Can't Skateboard, and Celebrating American Independence by Shooting Marshmallows at Each Other  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Playing our favorite vacation game at the airport: how many Evanses can you fit in an elevator?

My family would be quick to point out that I was still working a little most days, but I still maintain that it was a restful break, and I'll be back to blogging full-time in my usual form on Monday!

2


With the time difference and the late-night flight (it was 1:30 AM by the time we got home,) I think the kids are going to take a while to adjust to a normal people schedule.

7 Quick Takes about Coming Back to Work, Places You Can't Skateboard, and Celebrating American Independence by Shooting Marshmallows at Each Other  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Yesterday morning they woke up at 10:45, with the exception of my one early bird who was awake at 10.

This morning I rolled them all out of bed at 9, so progress, right?

3


I'll share more highlights from our Utah trip next week, but I wanted to brag about a particularly proud moment right here.

Allow me to set up the scene: Phillip's extended family is all meeting up to get family photos taken. At Phillip's parents' house, there are 18 of us rushing to get ready and out the door by 9:45 in the morning. Actually, just picture that scene from Home Alone and you'll be fine.

Half an hour before we're supposed to leave, the baby poops all up the back of his white onesie. His picture outfit. This is literally a crappy situation.

So I asked myself what I always ask myself: What would MacGyver do? (Just kidding, I don't really ask myself that. But in this case, I did exactly what he would have done.)

I quickly handwashed the onesie and used my magical lay-it-out-in-the-sun trick for 20 minutes to disappear the stain, then dried it by sticking it out the car window driving on the freeway to our photo shoot. When we arrived on location, it was like nothing ever happened.

4


On Tuesday we went on a really pretty walk to see some mountain springs, and noticed this sign.

7 Quick Takes about Coming Back to Work, Places You Can't Skateboard, and Celebrating American Independence by Shooting Marshmallows at Each Other  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This is why humans stopped using a pictorial language system: too ambiguous.

I think it's telling us we're not supposed to go wading here, but the two little circles underneath made me wonder if it actually means 'no skateboarding in the water.'

So we didn't do either, just to be on the safe side.

5


On the 4th of July we had a big BBQ with the whole family, minus one of Phillip's brothers and his family who live in Arizona and couldn't make it this year: 12 adults, 14 kids, and a dog.

Phillip's dad made the coolest marshmallow guns out of PVC pipe for the kids.

7 Quick Takes about Coming Back to Work, Places You Can't Skateboard, and Celebrating American Independence by Shooting Marshmallows at Each Other  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Load mini marshmallows at the top, aim, and blow.

We divided the kids into teams to play a capture-the-flag type game, but I wasn't sure about all the particular rules. Possibly they weren't either, but they knew they got to run around blowing mini marshmallows at each other and that was enough for them.

My 4-year-old participated by following everyone around, picking the marshmallows up off the ground and eating them. Safe to say she had an excellent 4th of July.

6


Between the MacGyver move with the onesie and this brilliant 4th of July hack courtesy of my brother-in-law, I'm starting to think we have a family full of super-geniuses.

Before he handed out sparklers, he slid the little kids' through a little hole at the bottom of a plastic cup to protect their hands. 

7 Quick Takes about Coming Back to Work, Places You Can't Skateboard, and Celebrating American Independence by Shooting Marshmallows at Each Other  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Proof that my family is a genetically-modified breed of masterminds. Or somebody just uses Pinterest.

Not saying they absolutely couldn't burn their hands this way (because toddlers can always find a way to hurt themselves,) but it would certainly be harder.

7


I used to clean the house (or at least stress out about trying to clean the house) before going on a trip because the thought of coming back to a dirty house depressed me.

Phillip never used to get it when we were trying to pack suitcases and I'm running around yelling, "BUT I HAVE TO MOP THE KITCHEN!!!"

Anyway, that was then and this is now. I think I gave up on that dream around Baby #4. I just didn't have time or energy to pretend anymore that I was going to sweep, mop, and vacuum every surface in addition to packing.

So the house was pretty dirty, just the way we'd left it, when we came home on Thursday morning.

On the plus side, there wasn't much in our fridge when we returned so I took the opportunity to scrub it out. Because, as someone in our family pointed out, it looked "like someone had been murdered in it."

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