Monday, January 23, 2017

It Was An Accident (Or, Why Parenting Sometimes Looks Like a Slapstick Comedy)

You know how kids are always saying, "I didn't mean to! It was an accident!"

Well, sometimes it is.

As a parent you accidentally do all kinds of things. Things that make parenting look like a scene lifted from a Three Stooges movie. Things like these.

As a parent you accidentally do all kinds of things. Things that make parenting look like a scene lifted from a Three Stooges movie. Things like these.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

  • Pressed the "door close" button on the van. While a child was still climbing out of it.

  • Opened the fridge into the head of a hapless child standing in the kitchen.

  • Whacked your toddler in the chin while adjusting the chest clip of his car seat.

  • Flung open the mudroom door, which connected with a child's behind and knocked her headfirst into the shoe basket.

  • Pinched a chubby little thigh in a seat belt.

  • Swung the microwave open into the cranium of a child sitting on the counter helping you make brownies.

  • Bonked your toddler in the head with the baby carrier in the crook of your arm.

  • Clotheslined your daughter with a cupboard door when she turned the corner and walked into the kitchen.

  • Smacked a child's head on the ceiling of the car when getting him out.

  • Paused to bend over and pick up a stray sock, causing the kid behind you to quite literally bounce off your butt and fall onto his. (To be fair you had no idea the little ninja was following you...)

  • Hit the baby in the forehead when pulling up your shirt to nurse.

  • Turned a corner too sharply with a kid on your hip and bumped her head on the doorframe.

  • Playfully tossed your son in a tall snowbank. And watched him disappear under the snow and start screaming.

Of course you'll feel terrible about all of these, but you're not doing it intentionally! And look on the bight side: maybe you can take your Larry, Moe, and Curly act on the road.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

7 Quick Takes about Sights for Sore Eyes, Side Hustles for Dentists, and Acts of Subterfuge from an Overactive Brain

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


Forget snow-capped mountain vistas, this aisle at CVS is the most breathtaking landscape you'll ever see.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Seriously, look at those stickers.

After-Christmas clearance has arrived. If anyone needs wrapping paper, I think I'm stocked until about 2025. I only spent $4 though, so I'll share.


While I was drooling in the clearance aisle, I also decided to pick up a 40-cent Santa hat because I realized I'd forgotten to take any Christmasey pictures of the baby for his baby book (yes, I'm still pretending that I'm totally going to make a baby book for the 6th kid in my spare time.)

The photo shoot after we got home went about as well as you can imagine.

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

The one where he was screaming and trying to literally crawl out of the Santa hat was probably the best one of the whole bunch.


School started 2 hours late on Wednesday because it snowed a little, but we didn't find out about it until after we'd already gotten everybody up and basically ready for the day.

With two extra hours suddenly on our hands, it was really interesting to see how the different personalities in our house chose to spend them.

One child just goofed off and asked to play computer games.

One decided to work on projects there aren't regularly time for after school.

Another used it to get ahead on all their chores, instrument practice, and everything else they'd normally do after school.

And they say siblings are genetically similar. Pfft.

By the way, how in the world do snow days happen when both parents in the house have jobs? You'd be practically ready to walk out the door to go to work when that robocall from the school comes in: "Mwahahaha! You have 2 and a half minutes to rearrange your entire day. Good luck with that."


We have this old Rubik's cube sitting around and for some reason, my 8-year-old picked it up and got really into it this week. He Googled "how to solve a Rubik's cube" and tried really hard to follow the steps, but he could never get the colors to match the diagram on the screen.

Phillip and I even stayed up late with the Internet trying to figure it out before realizing that our son had messed it up by illegally twisting the corners, making it unsolvable.

He ordered a new Rubik's cube with his own money and is so excited for it to arrive. Now he just owes us a few hours of lost sleep.


I was a little nervous to switch my kids to a new dentist, especially since I picked the office blindly off a list from our new insurance.

But it turned out to be the best. I loved every single member of the staff from the pediatric dentist down to the receptionist at the front desk, and the waiting room was gorgeous.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The 2-year-old loved the train table but was highly suspicious of the seats because they "looked like spaghetti."

My daughter got to watch Sofia the First during her cleaning and came out with a bag of goodies and a balloon animal, you guys.

I figured they had some underling come in to make the balloon animals at the end, but I asked her about it and nope, the dentist personally made her a flower and a blue poodle for her brother.

No wonder dental school is so expensive.


My brain does this cute thing where if I get woken up at night, it's like "Wow, you're really tired! Let's get you back to sleep. But first, it's time to think about something disturbing."

Last night I woke up because the 5-year-old had a bad dream, and then my overactive brain started going through all the logistics of what the kids and I would do if Phillip died. Seriously, ALL the logistics. We'd most likely have to move, and at one point I was mentally listing which of his belongings I'd give away versus which ones I'd pack to take with me to our new home for sentimental reasons.

Meanwhile, Phillip's brain was doing a similar trick, giving him a really long nightmare about going on a backpacking trip and trying to survive after he forgot to bring any food or extra clothes.

Apparently we both need to start doing yoga or something before bed to quiet our minds.


Parents always laugh and say "this is why we can't have nice things," but in our house we can't even have regular things without them getting broken.

Somehow the kids snapped the head off of the broom, and for now I have the broomstick propped up by the door until I can drop it off at the dump. In the meantime, I tell the kids to stop playing with it a billion times a day.

The other day I stopped mid-sentence and decided to set a timer and just watch for 10 minutes. In that time, the broom was picked up by various persons in the house and used as:
  • a hobby horse
  • a walking stick
  • a pole vault
  • a twirling baton
  • a light saber
  • a milkmaid's yoke

It was also used to touch the ceiling and turn on a light switch. Twice.

After that eye-opening 10 minutes, I'm starting to rethink throwing the broomstick away as it's currently the most-used toy in our entire house.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

6 Things I'm Doing Right With My 6 Kids

About the same time kids enter those pubescent middle school years, they start to exaggerate their faults and don't give themselves enough credit for all the amazing things they do. The other day I sat down with one of my kids and listed all the good things about them we could think of!

Today I'm going to take my own advice. Even though I've got a lot to work on as a parent, I'm taking a minute to acknowledge my strengths. Here are 6 ways I'm glad we're raising our kids.

If someone asked you what you'd done right as a parent, what would you say? {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

1. We limit media.

We ditched our TV by accident when our oldest was 5, and it turned out to be a great thing for us. We have family movie night and the kids play some computer games, but the media doesn't have a huge presence in our house.

Besides being a potential time-waster, TV often makes it seem normal for siblings to be enemies, or for parents to be clueless, or for sarcastic insults to be funny. It's not just TV, either. Recently I came across an article in the online version of Seventeen and was really sad how the subtext of it was basically: "Your parents are always getting on your case about something, but we TOOOOO-TALLY get it (so buy our magazine!)"

There's some great stuff out there, but as a general rule the media doesn't care about us or our family's welfare  so we use it sparingly.

2. We mean what we say.

There are plenty of times I say something like "stop bouncing that ball" and immediately wish I hadn't. Because if the kids ignore me then I have to go over there and enforce it, even though I literally just sat down.

But I drag my tired self over there and do it anyway because if I don't, I'll be paying for it forever. I just don't have the energy to spend a half-hour trying to convince kids who are resolutely ignoring me to leave the playground every time for the rest of eternity.

The opposite is also true. If I don't really care if they climb up the slide or run in the hallways, I won't tell them not to. We choose our battles and when we ask them to do or not do something, we mean it.

3. We eat together.

We eat dinner as a family practically every night, and there's one rule: the only things allowed at the table are eating and conversation. No books for our bookworms (in the future we'll probably have a no-device rule, too.)

My favorite way to get the kids talking about their day is to play Two Truths and a Lie: each kid likes trying to trick everyone, the other kids all like trying to guess the lie, and at the end of it I know two things about their day and use them to start a conversation. If we can hear each other over the low level roar of the other kids, that is.

4. We have a family mentality.

Even though we never did get around to creating that family motto, our kids have a strong sense of belonging to the Evans family.

We go on family hikes. We play family dodgeball and have the somewhat regrettably-named family gun time (Nerf guns, people!) If the kids complain about doing chores around the house, our standard answer is "we all have to work together to help the family."

Also, we don't feel the need to fill up every weekend and school vacation day with playdates. Of course we get to know their friends and invite them over occasionally, but we focus most of our energies on spending time together as a family and having the kids play with their siblings.

5. We expect the best of them.

An 18th century German writer named Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said "The way you see people is how you treat them, and how you treat them is what they become." Parental expectations are huge.

If we overcompensate because we think a child will resent the new baby, or roll our eyes at sibling squabbles like we expect brothers and sisters not to get along, or allow our teenagers to be rude to us because we believe parent-hating is a normal teen rite of passage, we're setting expectations  and kids are pretty good at living up to them.

We've always tried to expect our kids to be forces for good in our family and in the world, and so far, they are.

6. We're raising them Mormon.

Not everyone is going to agree with me here, but I'd be making a huge omission if I didn't include this in a list of things I'm glad we're doing as we raise our kids. I can't think of any better way to boost their self-esteem than teaching them they're children of God who can always access Jesus' enabling and forgiving power.

At church they're surrounded by a community of people who love them and reinforce the morals we try to teach at home. There's a ready peer group of nice, welcoming kids who are (for the most part) also trying to be good Christians. Church programs encourage them to actively participate in their faith, to improve themselves, be productive, practice leadership and public speaking, show love to their family members, and serve others during a really formative time of their lives. The list goes on.

One thing I can say for sure is that raising kids is hard. It's easy to get sucked into the day-to-day work of making sure everyone is fed and has clean clothes and rides to basketball practice, but these are 6 of the big-picture things we've more or less successfully done and been glad of it.

If someone asked you what you've done right as a parent, what would you tell them?

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Never Have I Ever...

Disclaimer: This is not the drinking game. This is literally a list of things that I have never in my life done. I got the idea from Amanda over at The Lady Okie and thought it sounded like fun.

While I was brainstorming for this post, I told Phillip, "I'm writing a blog post about things I've never done. Can you think of any?"

Amazingly quickly, he started rattling off suggestions: "Left a restaurant without paying. Purposely ran a red light. Snuck into a movie. Lied to a customs officer.... Wow, we are so boring. We just haven't lived, Jenny."

Well, the red light thing is a lie for me so at least one of us has lived.

Not the drinking game. Things I've literally never done in my life, like getting my eyebrows threaded... whatever that means.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Never Have I Ever...

...tasted coffee. "But you're Mormon!" you say, "and Mormons don't drink coffee, so that's cheating!" True. But I wasn't always Mormon, and even before my conversion I never consumed so much as a drop. I always thought coffee smelled like burnt driftwood. Yuck.

...had an earring ripped out. This would hardly be noteworthy except that between 6 kids, I've spent a cumulative total of A DOZEN years with a baby or toddler on my hip, within arm's reach of my earrings. I've had some close calls, but so far both earlobes are still in tact.

...dealt with lice. Also impressive because of the 6 kids. If we ever did have a child come home from school or church with lice, my natural reaction would be to shave everyone's head and burn the house down. From what I hear, this would be roughly the same amount of work as all the washing and combing and bagging and vacuuming you have to do to get rid of lice the traditional way.

...owned a pair of skinny jeans. See this post for why.

...entered an eating contest. However, I once watched my daughter compete in a Fear Factor-type race to eat an entire can of uncooked Spam when she was 9. And she won. And there were adults in the contest.

...seen an episode of Breaking Bad, Orange Is The New Black, The Walking Dead, or Game of Thrones. Or basically any other TV show you can't go 5 minutes without hearing about. This isn't out of principle, though, it's really just because we don't have a TV. It would probably be easier to tell you the shows I've seen than the ones I haven't.

...gotten in a car accident.* I have, however, opened my door into a post, clipped the garage door with the roof of the car, sideswiped the house while pulling into the garage, and backed into a parked car in a parking lot because I was distracted by a temper tantrum over a plastic dinosaur that cost 5 cents. (*with another moving vehicle.)

...done yoga. But this tweet pretty much sums it up.

...had my eyebrows threaded. Every so often I pass a hair salon in the mall with a sign outside advertising "eyebrow threading." I have no idea what that even means but it sounds terrifying. I don't have to worry about that, though, because I get my hair cut at the kind of place where you don't need an appointment and you pay extra if you want a shampoo first.

Now that I've unloaded some of my "nevers," what about you? Can you say all of these about yourself? What have you never done?

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Friday, January 13, 2017

7 Quick Takes about Detailed Medical Updates, Linguistic Issues We Need to Solve Right Now, and Putting Expensive Textbooks to Work

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


Well, the cold I had over Christmas has turned into a full-blown sinus infection. 

According to Google, sinus infection sufferers can expect to feel 'moderate to severe sinus pain.' Which seems pretty played-down considering that by Monday I was crying and begging my husband to hold a pillow over my face until I stopped struggling.

By Tuesday, I'd taken up snorting salt water in an effort to get some relief. (It works, by the way, but only if you don't accidentally snort too hard and it goes into your lungs. It still clears out your sinuses, but you'll also cough for 10 minutes and then worry about dying from secondary drowning in your bed that night.)

The good news is, my sinus infection is less painful now. The bad news is it's turned into post-nasal drip, which is every bit as disgusting as it sounds.

I can't believe you are still reading this.


Yesterday it was 55 degrees out and we went to the park with no jackets, but earlier in the week it snowed 4" and everyone went nuts as always.

The parking lot at the grocery store near our house was 100% full of people preparing for the apocalypse. I don't understand. Seriously, how much toilet paper do you need to get through 6 hours of snowfall??


Confession: I become completely disoriented by the "sign up" and "log in" buttons on websites.

Because there are also sites that say "sign in" which is a mashup of the two and I CANNOT DEAL. I can never remember if I'm signing up or logging in or signing in, and the longer I think about which is which, it's like that scene in Tommy Boy where the words just lose any meaning at all. Road. Ro-aaad.

I have a Bachelor's degree in English and this shouldn't be so hard. The world needs to come to a consensus on a standard wording ASAP.


Phillip used to keep his grad school textbooks on a shelf in his office to make him look smart (and occasionally look things up, I guess) but at his new job he has no room for them. So they've been sitting in our bedroom for months.

Finally he decided to start paring them down. In the meantime, I'm finding inventive new uses around the house for the ones he wants to keep.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I can't remember where this humidifier came from, but judging by the looks of it I'd say the 1800s.

For instance, I like Applied Linear Statistical Models for keeping the humidifier from rattling at night. Suggestions on what to do with the others are welcome.


I used my fingernail to slit the sticker sealing the opening of a new canister of baby formula and Phillip, who was watching nearby, said "Wow, you're like Wolverine."

Yes, I'm expecting a recruitment letter from Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters any day now.


My least favorite parenting mind phenomenon has got to be the one where you're doing something and even though you're vaguely aware of some repetitive noise going on in the background, it takes several more minutes for it to register that (1) the noise shouldn't be happening, and (2) it sounds destructive.

And of course by then it's too late, but you turn around to see the toddler using the detached handle of his wagon to whack a dozen Swiss cheese-like holes into the wall.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
There was no logic or discernible motive behind this, just a 2-year-old.

Please tell me this is a thing that happens to other parents.

When his older brother was the same age, I was painting his room and kept hearing an out-of-place noise behind me. When it finally hit me that I'd been hearing it for some time, I turned around and sure enough, there he was, sitting on his bed happily stabbing his mattress with a screwdriver.

Maybe it's just genetic.


Out of the blue, my 5-year-old told me "We're rich because we have lots of kids!"

Why yes, dear, children are treasures and what a deep philosophical statement for a preschooler to make!

Actually, though, when I asked a few follow-up questions I found out she meant that rich people have a lot of stuff and since we, too, have a lot of something (children) we must also be rich.

So she didn't mean it the same way, but yes, I think having a big family makes us very rich indeed. It was still a good reminder to count my blessings.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Things Every Mom Has Done At Least A Million Times

Motherhood is many things, but one thing it is NOT is an exercise in moderation. No, as a mom you often find yourself doing the same things over, and over, and over...

If you've been a mom for any appreciable amount of time, you've probably done all of these at least a million times:

1. Picked up the hand towel from the bathroom floor.

2. Discovered someone else's bodily fluid somewhere on your clothes.

3. Carefully arranged trash over something you didn't want the kids to know you threw away.

4. Told the kids "one cookie is enough" and then ate 6 after they left the room.

5. Burned food while multitasking.

6. Replaced a toilet paper roll... using the new roll someone left sitting on top of the empty holder.

7. Had a mental breakdown triggered by the sight of a random sock lying on the floor.

8. Told someone that poop jokes aren't funny (even if that particular one actually was a little funny.)

9. Washed the same load of laundry twice because you forgot to move it to the dryer.

10. Secretly cackled inside your head when you vacuumed up a Lego.

11. Put something in a special place so you wouldn't lose it and then forgot where that place was.

12. Did something your pre-kid self would have found disgusting.

13. Picked up dirty clothes from the floor right next to the hamper.

14. Ignored the voice in your head saying "This is such a cliché" as you ate a candy bar while hiding in the bathroom.

15. Discovered a new system that was going to streamline your family, organize your life, and probably create world peace (it didn't.)

16. Thrown away a carton containing 4 drops of juice from the fridge.

17. Googled "how to clean _________ out of _________."

18. Arbitrated disputes by yelling through the bathroom door.

19. Tried a new parenting technique from the Internet and had no clue what to do when the kids didn't respond like they are supposed to.

20. Put off going to the bathroom while doing child-related stuff for so long you worried about peeing your pants (and possibly did, I'm not judging.)

All of these are things you'll do many times as a mother, sometimes even in the same day. Oh, and you should probably spread trash over that candy bar wrapper in the bathroom garbage. The kids will see.

As a mom there are certain things you do over, and over, and over...  {posted @Unremarkable Files}

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Monday, January 9, 2017

If Newborns Were Named What They Look Like, We'd All Be Called 'Alien'

When I was pregnant for the first time, an older and wiser parent told me to wait until after the baby was born to make the final decision on her name because "sometimes, the baby just doesn't look like a [insert your favorite name here]!"

Being clueless first-time parents, we dutifully obeyed. When the big day arrived, we excitedly examined all 7 lbs. of her to find that she looked like... a cross between my grandpa and a raisin.

Lesson learned. If you, too, want to call your newborn what s/he really looks like, here are a few names I recommend:


Even though they're obviously adorable, newborns look more like 90-year-old men or extra-terrestrials than the Gerber Baby.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

From their papery skin to their huge near-black eyes to their freakishly large heads in proportion to their bodies, newborns obviously look like aliens. Notable extraterrestrials you might recognize in your child shortly after birth include the Coneheads from Saturday Night Live, and E.T. when the delivery room nurse holds up his head and you see his scrawny neck stretching out.


Even though they're obviously adorable, newborns look more like 90-year-old men or extra-terrestrials than the Gerber Baby.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Covered in body fluids and vernix, the smooshy newborn at a few minutes old also closely resembles a garden slug. Don't tell me these shapeless invertebrate blobs don't look just a little bit like newborn babies to you, too. Put them both in cute sleepers and you'd hardly be able tell them apart.

Mr. Magoo

Even though they're obviously adorable, newborns look more like 90-year-old men or extra-terrestrials than the Gerber Baby.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Most newborns, let's face it, look exactly like short, sweet, toothless Mr. Magoo. Both sport the same huge bags under their eyes and eyelids so swollen they can hardly open them. Also, when you try to prop newborns up in the hospital bed to take a picture they schlump down like tiny geriatric patients.


Even though they're obviously adorable, newborns look more like 90-year-old men or extra-terrestrials than the Gerber Baby.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

With their flatted, puffy facial features and no neck, most babies are shaped more like potatoes than people at first. At birth your baby will be the purplish-red color of a French Fingerling; after a few hours she'll turn the healthy pink of a Jewel Yam (unless she develops jaundice, in which case you can expect to see the yellowish hue of a delicious Yukon Gold.)


qEven though they're obviously adorable, newborns look more like 90-year-old men or extra-terrestrials than the Gerber Baby.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

While it's not a particularly flattering comparison, some newborns are just so long and skinny you can't help but make it. If you look objectively at their round eyes, spindly arms, skinny bowed legs, and distended bellies, it's hard not to see Gollum just a little. Sorry.

Shar Pei

Even though they're obviously adorable, newborns look more like 90-year-old men or extra-terrestrials than the Gerber Baby.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

With their wrinkly foreheads, haggard expressions, and downy hair covering their backs and shoulders, newborns can also remind you of another lovable household creature: the Shar Pei. Also, both make wonderful companions and attract tons of attention when you take them out for walks.

Winston Churchill

Even though they're obviously adorable, newborns look more like 90-year-old men or extra-terrestrials than the Gerber Baby.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

It's no surprise if you give birth to a miniature Winston Churchill. Most newborns share a number of prominent characteristics with the former prime minister, including invisible eyebrows, a pudgy face, and a head full of peach fuzz. If your baby is especially skinny, though, s/he might look more like the "Inconceivable!" guy from The Princess Bride.

Even though they're obviously adorable, newborns look more like 90-year-old men or extra-terrestrials than the Gerber Baby.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

And despite all of these completely accurate descriptions of what newborns look like, they really are the cutest things on the planet, anyway. What did you think YOUR babies looked like when they were born?

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