Friday, October 12, 2018

The 7 Quick Takes that Wasn't

He, guys. I'm still on my blog break (before you get all judgy, I'll have you know I wrote and scheduled this post way last week.)

It's come to my attention that some of you faithfully read 7 Quick Takes every Friday morning and because I don't want you to be devastated (or more accurately, slightly bummed for a few minutes before forgetting all about it when you see a video of a baby riding a Roomba) I wanted to hook you up with some vintage 7 Quick Takes.

Remember that time I went to a fancy dinner and found a bug in my food?

Or when my son broke a hole in the ceiling with a bouncy ball?

Or when I found my portrait drawn on the toilet seat?

Those were good times. 

Check out some of the #tbt links above and don't worry: I'll be back with a new 7 Quick Takes next week.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Taking a Blog Break: Or, The Only Post You'll Read This Week That Talks Extensively About God and the Macarena

I went into General Conference this past weekend hoping for some peace and spiritual clarity.

Be careful what you wish for.

The phase of life I'm in right now resembles a tsunami more closely than anything I've ever lived through before. My oldest child is entering high school and my youngest just graduated from diapers and frankly, I was not ready for either thing to happen.

I feel pulled in a million different directions, dealing with the great things and the challenging things each of my 6 kids brings into our family, trying to juggle home and family and the blog and church and I'm sort of exhausted.

So when it came General Conference time, which is the semi-annual broadcast from leaders of the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints giving spiritual instruction, encouragement, and inspiration, I was all ears.

I was hoping for re-calibration, which I understood to mean feeling warm fuzzies and then resuming my chaotic life exactly as before and finding that it had magically become more manageable.

Then our prophet President Nelson stood at the podium and directly called for a 10-day social media fast and I was like YOU KNOW THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT.

In preparation for this Conference I'd done a little object lesson with the kids. I took two identical-looking paper lunch bags, one empty and one filled with fruit snacks. I set them on the table and asked the kids to pick one.

Some picked A, some picked B, and some refused to choose because they didn't know what was inside either. Then I called my 4-year-old up to peek in the bags and tell the other kids which one to choose.

The prophet is like that. I don't know why a social media fast is needed at this time, but I trust that sometimes he can see things I can't. Even if there aren't literal fruit snacks at the end of this, I will listen to the prophet.

So I'm taking a 10-day breather, not only from Unremarkable Files' social media channels but also from the blog itself. If I hit the ground running (or more accurately, blogging) right now, I will likely be the exact same person 6 months from now when General Conference rolls around again.

If I take this break, I'll have space to implement some of the improvements in my life I was inspired to make this weekend.

Still, I'll have you know I'm terrified to do this. Ten days feels like a long time to be away.

I've never done it before, at least not without scheduling posts to publish while I'm gone, and I worry that the audience I've worked so hard to build will forget about me and move on.

It's quite possible that's what happened to the guys who wrote "Macarena." We'll never know for sure.

I'm being melodramatic, of course. People go on vacation all the time for 10 days, and I'm not exactly a Spanish dance sensation over here.

The bottom line is that I love my Heavenly Father and I have a strong testimony that President Nelson is God's prophet, every bit as much as Noah or Moses was. I must, or else I would never, ever do this.

See you all in 10 days. And until I come back, please feel free to brush up your Macarena with this instructional YouTube video.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Not Knowing What Is Going On as Usual, Hand Soap that Must Be Special, and Speculation About How Many Reese's My Daughter Can Eat

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


Usually my dreams have zero relationship to my actual life, such as when I'm fighting ghosts in an abandoned museum with some guy I haven't spoken to since college.

(Before you ask, yes, that is a real example.)

But this week I woke up from a dream that overlapped with life enough that I was actually confused about whether it had really happened.

I was taking my kids on The Funnest Outing Ever (bear with me, that's not the super-realistic part.) While we were waiting in line for something I asked one in turn, "Did you get ice cream? What about you, did you get ice cream?"

All the kids said yes except for the last one, who answered "No, but it's okay, I had some at Arby's."

"When did you go to Arby's?" I asked, starting to get embarrassed because she was young enough that I should know her whereabouts most of the time.

"With the Tibbs'," she answered.

"Who are the Tibbs'?!?" I yelled, just before realizing that the child in question wasn't mine and in fact, I had no idea who she was.

The fact that even in my dreams I don't know what's going on speaks volumes for my parenting.


I thought the directions on the back of this soap were a little funny.

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

"Use to wash hands as you would any hand soap?" Isn't that cheating? Like using a word to define itself?

Also, is there a reason I'd think this product would be used differently than any other soap? Since it goes out of its way to clarify that this is just ordinary soap with nothing special about it so just move along thankyouverymuch, I feel like I'm missing something here.

I never thought I'd be confused by directions for hand soap, but here we are.


My kids are always trolling for pets, since I categorically refuse to bring one more (non-human) thing into this house whose poop I have to clean up. 

Their latest pet substitute is Tenty, a caterpillar my 6-year-old found outside. The weird name is because he's a tent caterpillar.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Tenty pictured at top left trying desperately to escape from his Sterilite prison.

The kids made him a nice habitat and Googled what tent caterpillars eat and everything. It took two full days of Tenty's life for him to figure out how to climb out, which is basically the caterpillar equivalent of digging the tunnel for 19 years in Shawshank Redemption.


I'm really loving working with the toddlers in nursery at church on Sundays. My last calling involved a lot of activity planning for the adults which is pretty much the worst-suited thing for my personality that I can imagine. 

Not that it wasn't good for me in a lot of ways, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like this breath of fresh air. Playing with and teaching toddlers for two hours is my happy place.

We've got some voracious readers in nursery so I've gotten pretty familiar with the picture books, and I have to laugh every time someone requests this one:

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

On every page you spin the wheel in the middle to see which animal noise you're going to make, and on the very last page  I'm not sure if this is because the writer couldn't think of any more animal noises or because he knew that by the last page parents would be over it and dying to just get the kids in bed already  the last square says "Be quiet like a fish!"


I thought about finding a babysitter for my 2- and 4-year-olds during my daughter's allergist appointment this week. It was after all a food challenge, which meant a whole morning of sitting in the office trying bites of peanut butter and waiting to see if she developed hives.

But since my strategy to life lately has been "Put off making decisions until it's too late and doing nothing has become your decision," I didn't find a babysitter and they came with us.

Needless to say they were pretty bored. By the end of the 3-hour appointment, they were trying to launch themselves off the exam table and were literally dismantling the room (or at least the furniture inside it.)

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Removing the rubber stoppers on the exam room stools because what fun is a toy that still has all its parts?

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Taking a mayhem break under the exam table with snacks.


However, I was too excited to even care about how loudly they were shrieking as they played with the swivel stool: my 6-year-old has outgrown her peanut allergy!

She tolerated ¼ tsp and  ½ tsp and finally 2 Tbsp of peanut butter, at which point they cleared her of her allergy and declared her Not Allergic Anymore.

It's weird. We've been cautious about it for practically her whole existence, and now...?

Sure, she could tolerate two tablespoons, but what if she had more? I kept asking the allergist if we still needed to worry, if there was any possibility of a reaction sometime in the future."What if she goes crazy on Halloween and eats, I don't know, a whole bunch of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?" I asked.

The allergist reassured me a future reaction to any amount of peanut butter was extremely unlikely, and "besides, two tablespoons is an entire adult serving and I don't think she could eat much more than that."

Good to know I guess, but obviously she does not know my children because they absolutely could and would.


I must be getting old because I feel like this just happened a couple of weeks ago, but it's that time of year again for the semi-annual broadcast from my church called general conference. (Or 'General Conference' if you're Mormon, because I noticed we're kind of a capitalization-happy people.)

Many of my readers know and love our conference snacks tradition, where the kids put pictures of church leaders on different snack foods and get to eat that one when that person speaks. But even more than the snacks I'm looking forward to the peace and recalibration that always comes at conference time, without fail.

Whether you're Mormon or not, I'd love for you to tune in for some or all of it this weekend using any of the bajillion methods listed here. Maybe I'm biased, but I really do believe that God often speaks through the prophet and apostles who lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And if you're curious about general conference or why Mormons have a prophet or what that even means, this short article is a good place to start.

Have a good weekend, everybody!

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Teenager Registry for Parents During the 55th Trimester

Congratulations! You've reached the 55th trimester and you know what that means: your baby just turned 13 years old.

This trimester, your baby is the size of a prize-winning gourd at the county fair and is developing body hair, mood swings, and rampant acne. Super-fun!

At this time you should be thinking about creating a teenager registry. Just like when they were newborns, having the right gear will help you muddle through the rewarding and somewhat challenging trimesters ahead.

Bulk Package of Paper Lunch Bags for Hyperventilating Into

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Sometimes you need help remaining calm when your teenager mentions his plans to skip college and focus on growing his YouTube channel following. That's normal. I advise registering for the largest package available in the event that your teen comes home from school and shares what his/her lunch table friends are saying about sex.

Toothpicks in a Decorative Travel Container

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Keep these handy in the car for propping your eyes open as you drive around picking your teenager up from late-night parties! Since this will be your first time venturing outdoors after 8 P.M. in 10 years, expect some disorientation and/or vertigo.

Copious Amounts of Bubble Wrap

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

In the coming years your child will suffer from social disasters, fail tests for which they studied hard, be picked on for their appearance and other things they can't control, and probably date at least one person who is not a very good human being. From one mother to another, packing your teen in bubble wrap is a completely valid option.

Crash Helmet In Your Size

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Arguing with your teenager is shockingly similar to bashing your head against a brick wall, so it makes sense to equip yourself with a certified safety helmet. Bonus: when your teen insists on rehashing non-negotiable issues, leaving the room and reappearing wearing your crash helmet effectively shuts down any further conversation.

Hazmat Suit

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Personally, I wouldn't recommend entering your teen's room without the full-body protection of a hazmat suit. If you didn't hang on to yours from your diaper-changing days, you will definitely want to add one to your teenager registry. They're pricey, but well worth it when you're wading through piles of rumpled clothing and crusty plates and bowls that are busily growing the entire cast of Fraggle Rock.

A Nice, Thick Memory Foam Pillow

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I'll bet you thought this was for sleeping  it's not (see #2.) What's important here is the sound-dampening qualities of the pillow, as you'll be shutting yourself in the closet and screaming into it after a polite request to unload the dishwasher escalates into your teen threatening to seek legal emancipation.

A Set of Blinders (The Kind for Horses)

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

When your teen is doing the end-of-term history project in a way that doesn't make any sense, it's natural to want to dispense your expert advice. Warning: it's a trap. Your teen doesn't want your input unless specifically asked. Literally the only thing you can do is look away. (Incidentally, the blinders also come in handy shielding you from your teen's eye rolls if you do offer unsolicited opinions on said project.)

Illuminated "TAXI" Sign for the Roof of Your Vehicle

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

All parents of teenagers need this attractive and durable car-mounted sign! Consider investing in a fare meter and giving rides to paying passengers as well, bringing in much-needed funds to cover the wear and tear to your vehicle. (You should replace your timing belt every 60k miles, which you'll easily put on in a week when your teen has track, play practice, band, church youth activities, study group, and an after-school job she cannot drive herself to.)

Magic 8 Ball to Give Incredibly Vague Responses to All Your Questions

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
photo courtesy of bark via Flickr Creative Commons

Pepper the Magic 8 Ball with questions like "How was your day? Did you have fun? Who was there? What time will you be home?" and receive monosyllabic answers or noncommittal responses ("Reply hazy, try again!") This retro novelty toy is a great substitute for grilling your teen when he isn't available, probably because he's at one of his 127 extra-curricular activities.

Custom Emojis for Communicating with Your Teen

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Text will become your primary method of communicating with your teen, which is why it's critical to download the right emojis. Specifically, you're looking for ones that can convey complicated emotions such as "I trust you but am somewhat doubtful of your ability to make good decisions in this specific scenario, especially if Jessica is going to be there."

Happy Face Mask to Disguise Your Sentimental Ugly Cry

Parenting teens is super-easy with these must-have products!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

What teen wants the mortifying experience of having his/her mom come down with feelings at inopportune moments (such as ever)? This all-purpose happy face mask provides full coverage for your quavering chin and tear-filled eyes, allowing you to be overcome with emotion without letting everyone know you're this close to completely losing it at high school graduation.

Again, congratulations on your teenage bundle of joy, and when things get tough just remember: the first 75 trimesters are the hardest!

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Monday, October 1, 2018

How to Do Laundry for a Family of 8 Without Completely Losing Your Mind

Everyone hates laundry.

They hate it because it never ends, because there's always a mountain of it, because they're always behind, and because it's so utterly tedious.

While I could and would say all those things about dishes or sweeping, laundry is honestly one of the household chores I feel I've managed to make... manageable.

While I'll probably never love laundry, I don't think I'll ever really mind it, either.

All the laundry hacks for big families you could hope for, from start to finish.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Add a toddler in rain boots playing a kazoo jumping on top of this pile and you have our house.

There are 8 people in my family, including a toddler and preschooler, so make no mistake, we do a lot of laundry.

It averages out to 1-2 loads per day in our house, and for those wondering how I maintain sanity amidst all that, here are my best large family laundry hacks.

Location, Location, Location

I'd be lying if I said having our washer and dryer in a closet right off the kitchen didn't make all the difference.

I can easily throw in a load, hear when it's finished, and switch it to the dryer while I'm making lunch and it doesn't seem like a big deal.

If I had to go down do the dark recesses of the basement, or even upstairs near the bedrooms, I would probably hate laundry for all the above mentioned reasons.

I know you can't exactly choose where your washer and dryer hook-ups are, but if you're remodeling or buying a new house you should definitely pay attention to it. A central location matters.

Utilize Slave Labor (i.e.: Your Children)

In our house, the kids have to pitch in and we're not at all apologetic about it. If you still wear diapers you get a pass, but everyone older than that has to do their part.

Two-year-olds can match socks and put their underwear in a pile. Four-year-olds can crudely fold shirts and pants with a little help. Six-year-olds can fold everything and put it all away in their drawers.

When you're eight, you learn how to use the washer/dryer and receive your own laundry hamper (we use laundry bags on a hook because they're easier for the kids to carry down the stairs.) From that point on, you're completely responsible for doing your own clothes from start to finish.

We give kids who do their own laundry an assigned day of the week until they're 11 or so, and after that we just tell them to wash their clothes as needed. They'll learn.

Sort by Room, Not by Color

Each kid has their own laundry bag/hamper in their room, with the exception of the 4- and 6-year-olds who share a hamper since I still wash both of their clothes.

With every kid's laundry in its own hamper, it's easy to put away. When a load comes out of the dryer, it can be brought straight to the room where it's supposed to go.

In the master bedroom I do separate mine and Phillip's whites from our colors  but that's as fancy as I get, sorting-wise. I've never had a problem washing our mediums and darks together, or, for that matter, mixing the kids' whites with their colors.

All the laundry hacks for big families you could hope for, from start to finish.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Just kidding, I never iron.

Get Out of Laundry Basket Purgatory

Some people don't mind folding 10 loads all at once over the weekend, but to me that sounds only slightly more appealing than Chinese water torture. I avoid letting clean laundry pile up at all costs, which is why I don't own any laundry baskets.

Our only laundry basket lives on top of the dryer to collect unmatched socks and random pieces that somehow got in the wrong load.

Over the course of the week it fills up and on the weekend, I call the kids to go through it and put away anything that belongs to them (it takes 5 minutes and I supervise to make sure everything gets claimed.)

When a child's laundry comes out of the dryer, anything that doesn't belong to him goes in the basket on top, and the rest of it goes back into the hamper to be returned to his room where he's supposed to fold and put it away that same day.

Does that really happen? Well, the kids aren't allowed screen time until it's done, so yeah, they're pretty motivated.

As for me, I timed myself and it takes less than 10 minutes to fold a load of laundry. I can handle 10 minutes once or twice a day, but I would curl up and die if I had to fold two hours of laundry over the weekend. So I guess you could say I'm pretty motivated, too.

Random Odds and Ends

Of course, there are always things that just need to be thrown in the wash to be done ASAP instead of languishing for a week in a hamper somewhere: stinky pee clothes, sweaty soccer socks, wet kitchen washcloths, and the like. So we have a signal.

If the lid of the washer is open, it means you can throw in dirty laundry. I just keep an eye on it (again, our washer is centrally located, so I walk past it 50 times a day) and run the machine whenever it gets full.

A closed lid means the washer's full of clean clothes, so whenever I see it closed that's my reminder to move the load into the dryer.

Because everyone in the house knows the lid up/lid down signal, dirty clothes don't accumulate in piles on or around the washer waiting to go in, or even worse, get thrown in on top of clean clothes and then put in the dryer. *retching noises*

I've spilled secrets of doing laundry for my 8-person family in hopes that it helps you. I see you, you know, wondering how to conquer the mountain of linens and clothes piling up beside your washing machine.

Comment below with any questions, or feel free to share what works in your family. If having many children has taught me anything, it's that very few things in life are one-size-fits-all.

All the laundry hacks for big families you could hope for, from start to finish.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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Friday, September 28, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Full-Service Gas Stations, Raising a Future Magazine Editor, and Port-a-Potty Slogans That Probably Won't Catch On

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


I used to hate full service gas stations. I could hardly think of anything that felt more awkward than sitting there on my royal behind like Meghan Markle waiting for the commoners to pump my gasoline.

That was obviously before I had kids and had to do everything for everybody. Now I LOVE self-serve gas stations. There's one a few towns over and I don't visit often, but every time I do it feels like a trip to the freaking spa.

After the guy pumped my gas, he looked at my 2- and 4-year-olds in the backseat and asked if they'd like suckers. He grabbed two and as he handed them to me, I asked "So how many kids do you have?"

"Two girls," he answered. "How did you know I had kids?"

Because this:

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

Automatically grabbing two of the same color so the kids won't fight? That's what you learn on the first day of Parenting 101.


I found a copy of The Friend, the kids' magazine published by our church, lying on the coffee table. It was open to a story about sharing and getting along called "A Real Hero."

Someone had grabbed a pen and taken the liberty of "fixing" the story illustration:

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

Instead of "Super Jake says no fighting," the main character is now shaking his money-maker on the couch yelling, "Hey everyone, look at my dance!" and the other kids are saying, "Hey, that's awesome!" and "Super-cool."

So I'd say we're getting our money's worth out of our yearly subscription.


I was reading the weekly soccer email from my 1st grader's coach, barely skimming over the reminders at the end because they said exactly what you'd expect reminders in an email from the soccer coach to say:

  • Don't forget to bring a water bottle
  • No jewelry allowed during games
  • Please ask your child not to eat grass during practice
Wait, what?

That one made me go back and read more carefully. Apparently, there are some "grazers" on our team and their snacking habits were bothering the coaches (I assume because of pesticides and stuff on the field, not just because it's weird.)

I'm almost afraid to ask my daughter if it was her. I don't think I want to know.


Every time we're at a soccer field or park lately, my toddler has been dragging me to the port-a-potty.

He's newly potty trained so I'm willing to cut the kid some slack, but come on — half the time he doesn't even go! I don't understand the appeal of locking yourself in a tiny, stinky plastic prison cell when you could be playing at the playground, but I guess you have to be 2 to get it.

Just yesterday, we went to a row of port-a-potties with the slogan "A Potty to Rent for Every Event!" stamped across the doors. My 12-year-old thought it was hilarious.

"It must be hard to write port-a-potty slogans," she thought out loud. "I mean, what do you say about port-a-potties? 'Come sit in a box full of poop!'"

I think we can rule out a career in marketing for one of our children, though I won't say which one.


I'm not going to lie, I'm having a hard transition with this school year. Now that we've got a high schooler it seems like there are so many after-school activities, the older kids stay up as late as we do, and every day starts at 5 AM getting people up and out the door.

I feel exhausted and on-call 24 hours a day, way more than when the kids were all little, and I'm really struggling trying to figure out how to fit in things like sleep and talking to my husband.

The other day I said "Hi, how are you doing?" to someone and she randomly started talking about how she needs to be patient with herself during transitions, and I think that was probably God telling me I need to be patient with myself during this transition, too.

It may take a little while to find our groove during this season of life, and that's okay. If not, I suppose it will at least get better in a few years when my oldest gets her license and can drive herself to her 5,042 extra-curriculars.


Twice a week, Phillip plays basketball with a group of guys but when he limped through the door a half-hour earlier than usual on Saturday I knew something was wrong.

He'd jumped and come down on someone else's foot, rolled his ankle and sprained it. After a few hours of pain killers and ice it was looking swollen and blue in strange places, so he agreed to go in and have it looked at to make sure nothing was broken.

Someone had to stay home to shuttle the kids to and from soccer and work, so he drove himself to urgent care on his bad foot for X-rays, where they told him that everything was fine and he was just being a giant baby (his words, not theirs.)

His foot is getting a little better every day, but you should see the gigantic bruise he's rocking right now. I was going to post a picture but then I realized that a closeup of a hairy, size 10.5 man's foot is actually pretty gross all on its own and this isn't really that kind of blog, so you'll just have to take my word for it.


"I hate the food chain," my daughter told me the other day.

"Okay," I said. "Why?"

She explained that she feels bad when she sees bugs stuck in a spiderweb and wants to free them, but then the spider would go hungry and she would feel bad for the spider.

Funny, because I have a visceral "kill it!!!!" reaction whenever I see a spider but I usually don't because they get rid of annoying bugs which are the only things worse than spiders.

So pretty much the same sentiment there. Clearly the children get their empathy for other living creatures from me.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

30 Ideas of Things To Do Besides Scrub Urine Out of the Carpet

Potty training my toddler was rough, and by "rough" I mean by Day 3 I'd fashioned a carpet cleaner holster on my belt and depleted every retailer in a 10-mile radius of paper towels like I was stocking up for the Apocalypse.

He eventually figured things out.

Of course I'm thrilled that both my toddler and my floors are staying dry, but it's triggered an unexpected existential crisis: I've been effectively fired from my full-time job scrubbing urine out of the carpet, and now I have no idea what to do with myself.

A post-potty training guide for parents who suddenly have a lot of time on their hands.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Now that I'm no longer the household CEO (Chief Excreta Officer) I'm just an idiot standing there with a spray bottle of Spot Shot wondering what to do with all my free time. I suppose I could:

Alphabetize my high school CD collection. You never know when the time will be right to throw on the soundtrack for 10 Things I Hate About You.

Do some detailed yardwork, like trimming the grass with scissors. Actually, I've spent so many years scrubbing Number One out of the carpet I'm not sure we even have grass anymore. Let me check on that and get back to you.

Sort the kids' Lego bin by size, color, shape, and frequency of use. To be clear, the kids still prefer to find Legos using the "dump it out" method, but that's not the point. The point is that it's time-consuming and I can.

Spend all day taking Buzzfeed quizzes. Sooo excited to find out what my patronus is based on my favorite salad dressing.

Comb the Internet for news articles with comment sections. Ruthlessly correct everyone's grammar and spelling.

Go through all the PTA handouts my older kids bring home. I've been too busy cleaning up human waste to read them, and even if I had read them I couldn't have donated or come in to volunteer because my wallet and car keys were buried under a pile of sopping wet underpants.

Finally finish my kids' baby books and read them out loud to telemarketers in excruciating detail. Being done with diapers makes me 12 shades of emotional so look out, timeshare guys.

Read all the emails in my spam folder. While I was hunting down suspicious puddles throughout the house, I've missed out on numerous inheritances from wealthy Nigerians to whom I'm somehow distantly related.

Train the fruit flies that have invaded the house. Next, I will Google how it's possible that fruit flies have a life span of 5 minutes but I'm dealing with them for a month after letting a banana go soft.

Become a devout follower of Pinterest cleaning schedules. This probably won't happen. (See the fruit flies.)

Lovingly stroke the washing machine and talk about all the things we used to do together. So many pairs of soiled underwear. So many memories.

Take up decorative glass blowing. I hear it's an insanely involved hobby. Plus, a house with a toddler can never have too many swirly-colored breakable things that serve no practical purpose.

Read the unabridged 1,500-page version of Les Misérables, carefully looking for personal messages from Victor Hugo.

Write, produce, and direct an original animated short about a woman who has finished potty training her kid and literally does not know what to do with herself now.

Start ironing everything. Even socks.

Master the art of Chinese calligraphy. Once I've put in the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell recommends, I can hand-letter invites to an ironing party.

Start obsessively buying and hoarding school fundraiser items. Become known as "crazy candle lady" amongst the neighborhood children and quickly amass a lifetime supply of wrapping paper.

Memorize the produce codes at Safeway and on weekends, hang around customer service quizzing the employees. And no, I don't have anything better to do.

Take night classes on taxidermy. Seriously, I have time for the entire continuing education course catalog now. Sign me up for everything.

Carve miniature donkeys out of soap. Why donkeys? Why not!? I'm done potty training!!!

Memorize all 7,000 entries on the list of government-approved baby names in Denmark. This could be an interesting conversation-starter. It's been a while since I talked to anyone but the Walgreen's cashier while he rings up my carpet cleaner and Advil.

Make up an imaginary political office and run for it. I'm talking campaign signs, door-to-door visits, meet and greets, kissing babies... the whole nine yards. I'm really not very busy at the moment.

Open an Etsy store to sell floor rugs woven with hair I collected from my hairbrush. After a week of talking and thinking about nothing but scat, my nerves are a little frazzled. I could use the meditative repetition of hand-weaving a 10' by 12' tapestry.

Embroider inspirational sayings on all my dishtowels. Because sometimes we all need a reminder to live, laugh, love.

Make mixed tapes of popular boy band music from the 1990s and hand them out on the subway like religious tracts. Today's teenagers don't know what they're missing.

Sew tiny Halloween costumes for neighborhood squirrels. Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Also no. But it will probably be pretty dang cute, and it's not like I'm doing anything else.

Buy a traffic guard vest and stand at random intersections to help people cross. It's called citizenship. Look it up.

Use shadow puppets to act out the 1941 cinematic classic Citizen Kane. My son may not appreciate it, but up until just recently he didn't appreciate dry underwear, either, so what does he know?

Sculpt my likeness in butter and use it as a holiday centerpiece. Thanks to all the time I have on my hands now, I will win Thanksgiving this year.

Translate the entire works of Shakespeare into Pig Latin. It's tedious work, but someone has to do it. More accurately,  have to do something  and this is the best I could come up with. It's hard thinking up 30 activities that have nothing to do with cleaning up pee accidents after the life I've led.

Life feels different without 18 loads of laundry and a sofa to clean every day, but I think these suggestions could help me pass the time. Or some of it, at least.

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