Friday, June 15, 2018

7 Quick Takes about My Favorite Things, Inappropriate Things You See at JC Penney, and Where All the Missing Socks Really Go

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


I'm not the kind of person who's really into "stuff." I don't want very much, making it hard to buy gifts for me. But I acquired two new possessions this week that might be my favorite things ever.

The first is a late Mother's Day gift, because that's just how we roll in our house and can't nobody judge us:

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

My 14-year-old is an artist and made this mug for me, which is my all-time favorite mug and now I make ALL of my single-serve cookies and brownies in it. I just love how simple and sweet it is.

I swear she should open up an Etsy store to sell this stuff.


Also, my mat arrived! I mentioned it on the blog a few months ago, and my mom got it for my birthday, but it was on backorder. I had no idea when it would come and kind of forgot about it, but I'm so excited that it came!

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

The day it came, we had not only our 6 kids but also 11 of my teenager's friends over for a party so it couldn't have been more appropriate, timing-wise.

When parents arrived to pick up their kids I'm sure they assumed the mat was referring to all the party guests, but little do they know it's a party around here all the time.

Why, just yesterday there was someone playing butt-naked in the sandbox in the backyard and a party can't get much crazier that that.


Speaking of butt-naked (how's that for an intro?) I went to JC Penney this week and happened to catch a glimpse of this pantsless mannequin hiding shadily behind a promotional banner in the boys' section...

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

I don't know if the person in charge of the mannequins just went on break and forgot to come back to this one or what. But I can tell you that I must be super-mature because the longer I looked at it, the funnier it got.

And I know right now some of you are wondering, "Yes, but was it as funny from the back??"

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
When I grew up in the 80's, flashers at least covered up with trenchcoats.

The answer is yes. Yes, it was.


I also have a question about this "fashion accessory" hat I saw there. I dig the pattern and the colors, but for the life of me I am so confused by the pom-poms.

Is this a joke? Did someone break in with a glue gun on a dare and this is actually some bizarre form of vandalism? Please help me understand what's going on.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This mannequin is either totally insane or her 6-year-old made her a hat at camp.

My apologies if you've already bought this hat. I don't mean to insult you, I just don't get fashion. The junior's section is full of mom jeans with belt loops that go up to your sternum and things with gaudy plastic jewels (and now fuzzy pom-poms, I guess) glued haphazardly all over them.

From here, it's just a slippery slope to bric a brac trim making a comeback and quite frankly, I'm not sure the world can survive that a second time.


I was carrying my 2-year-old around in the kitchen when suddenly he was seized with love for me and exclaimed "Cah-doh!"

"You want to cuddle?" I asked, giving him a big hug. "Why yes, my sweet little man! Mommy loves you so! Let's cuddle!"

But then he started pushing me away and yelling, "No, cah-doh! CAH-DOH!"

I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong, so I kept rubbing his back and asking, "What's the matter? Do you want to go cuddle on the couch? In the rocking chair?" until the light bulb finally went on.

He was asking for an avocado.

Turns out that we didn't even have avocados so both of us were a little grumpy for the next few minutes.


My 4-year-old was a little nervous and awfully quiet when he visited the dentist, but he sat in the chair like a pro, wore some sweet leopard print sunglasses, and chose birthday cake-flavored fluoride.

As the dentist started cleaning my son's teeth, he said he was seeing some build-up so I should make sure to help him brush and floss regularly. That's when my son, who had up to this moment been basically mute, proudly announced "I never floss!"

Which wasn't really necessary to say because a few seconds later the dentist pulled out a fingernail he found wedged between my son's teeth.


I'm thoroughly terrible at yardwork, mostly because I don't like it at all, but one way I've found to at least sort of keep up with it is to make it a family thing.

The kids set a timer for 30 minutes and we go outside to weed, sweep porches, pick up sticks, or whatever needs to be done. Everybody who works hard gets a popsicle at the end (I can tell you it only takes one time of goofing off and missing out on your popsicle privileges to make a kid into a really hard worker for the rest of the summer.)

This week we were weeding and found a ragged pair of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle socks that had obviously been victims of the elements since last summer. (Lucky me, my kids don't just leave their socks scattered inside the house, they do it all over our property, too!)

Our basket of unmatched socks on top of the washing machine is getting quite full and I've been wondering where they all go, and I guess the answer is "sprinkled among the tulips next to the garage."

At least there was a complete pair out there. Somehow that makes me feel better than just a single one going missing who knows where.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

5 Bathtime Rules for Kids That Were Meant to Be Broken

At our house, we have a lot of rules.

There are rules about chores and food and screen time. I'd consider myself a strict-ish parent, and I'm sure my kids would agree. But there is one area where our family seems to break almost all the rules, and that is bathtime.

From daily baths to tub toys, I've got news for you: you don't have to do any of it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

You see, I think many of the "rules" of bathtime make absolutely no sense, and never have. And therefore we disregard just about all of them.

Rule #1: Bathe Your Kids Every Day

Setting aside the fact that if we gave daily baths to all 6 of our kids we'd have a water bill that rivals  the national debt and single-handedly be responsible for killing the whales, I just don't see the point. Little kids are spot-cleaned as necessary all day long, meaning that unless they're smelly or covered in actual dirt I won't bother filling up the bathtub.

That means until puberty at least, baths in our house work out to once or twice a week (more frequently in the summer when kids are outside getting truly filthy.) Maybe it's my aversion to cleaning schedules in general, but I don't believe in The Daily Bath just because.

Rule #2: Calming Baths as Part of the Bedtime Routine

For my kids, bathtime = playtime. There's nothing even remotely calming about any activity they perform in the tub. I've seen three stooges who are more chill than my three youngest in the bath, who egg each other on until the whole thing resembles either a demonic possession or a stampede at Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

Many times I've wondered as I sat in the bathroom supervising my kids' bath, completely drenched and cowering behind a towel, how in the world anyone has the mental fortitude to add the shenanigans of bathtime to the already long and exhausting process that is getting kids to bed. I certainly don't.

Rule #3: Fun Tub Toys for Everyone!

Um, no. We used to have bath toys and a special bag suction cupped to the wall of the shower to theoretically let them drip-dry. In actuality, it was a glorified mesh mold factory that made me gag so hard I think I saw my own intestines once.

I'm one of the least germophobic people I know, but the thought of those grody toys climbing aboard the Toddler Hands Express and embarking on a non-stop trip to Mouthville was more than I could handle. I threw everything out and now their baths toys are limited to: bubble bath, colored bath drops, and whatever kitchen utensils I can put in the dishwasher afterward.

Rule #4: Baths are for Bathtubs

I know some parents are super-eager to get their kid in the real tub as soon as they can sit up but I ask you: WHY.

I never enjoyed kneeling on the tile floor and to be honest, it always felt like a gigantic waste of water to fill a tub for someone barely bigger than a hubbard squash. I figure if I wash my produce in the sink, I might as well put my babies and toddlers in there until they're no longer vegetable-sized.

Rule #5: Invest in Special Kid Everything

There are specialty baby washcloths, hooded towels, baby body wash, no-tears shampoo, kid bath visors, and foam faucet covers shaped like humpback whales. To which I say, huh?

I admit we once had some of those things from my first baby shower, back when we actually thought you needed half of Babies 'R Us to raise an infant, and sure, we use up the travel-sized bottle of Johnson's that comes home in the maternity ward swag bag. But for the most part we just use products from our shower and bathroom cupboards, and the kids seem to be surviving.

If you love giving your kids nightly baths or if you're a traveling rubber ducky salesman, that's totally fine! Your house, your rules. But for those of you who secretly hate these bathtime rules but follow them anyway because you think you're supposed to, I'm giving you permission right now to stop. You'll be in good company.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Toddler Reviews of a New Restaurant That Caters Exactly to Them

This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The Picky Toddler
1,624 reviews - 4 star average

This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Love love love this place.
Delicious cuisine like your mom makes, but with a twist: everything caters to the 12-36 months crowd. Nice ambiance, especially the acoustics (screeching and silverware banging really resonates.) I come here to carbo-load before a long night of waking my mom up every 45 minutes. Highly recommend it.
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
My favorite place for snacks!
If you haven't tried toddler dining then you must go to The Picky Toddler! They serve ketchup on everything, let you color on the tables, and every menu item is called a "snack." I never eat meals but if you serve the exact same food and call it a snack I'll devour it. Their lunch snack menu is fabulous, by the way.
Most Authentic Toddler Food in the Area
I came here for a MOPS playgroup and will definitely be back on my own! Well, my mom has to drive, obviously. Our server was phenomenal: he blew on my food when I complained it was too hot even though we both knew it wasn't, and he also peeled my chicken nuggets for me when I laid on the floor and screamed about it. You can send anything back to the kitchen at any time and for any reason, even if you've already eaten half of it. This place is amazing.
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Way too spicy for me
I couldn't even eat the scrambled eggs due to a flake of pepper in it. I had the applesauce and that was also very spicy. The dry Cheerios were okay. But unless you like really spicy food, I'd skip The Picky Toddler.
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
RE: Way too spicy for me
At The Picky Toddler we strive to provide the blandest possible eating experience for our customers. We are deeply sorry to hear about your experience.
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
butter heaven
let me say that the butter was to die for!! literally... the best butter I've ever eaten... at home i have to wait until my mom is in the bathroom so i can crawl up on the counter and take bites out of the stick - but at this place u can just order straight butter off the menu!! if u also love butter - then u will LOVE this place!!!!!!!!!!
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Didn't Meet My Expectations
I really wanted to give this restaurant more stars but was not happy with the wait for my food. Instead of appearing instantly the second I requested it, I actually had to follow the waitstaff into the kitchen and cling wailing to their pant legs as they made it for me! It was good once it arrived, but by then I was no longer interested in eating and had to pitch another fit so we could go outside and blow bubbles.
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Exceptional Place
This was my first foray into toddler dining, and I was not disappointed. The plain toast was so good I ate it in under an hour(!), and our server courteously waited to bring the check until I finished mushing up my leftovers into my drink and rubbing it in my hair. Even the undersides of the tables are padded so you can crawl around on the floor without hitting your head and getting a boo-boo. They thought of everything!
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Don't go here!
My nana took me here for my birthday and it was a disaster. First, there was no place at the door to strip off all my clothes and run around butt-naked. Second, auto-flush toilets in the restrooms? Please. Those things are the devil. Third, the restaurant windows tasted disgusting. The kicker was when I found a tiny piece of onion in my food! Needless to say I sent it back and ordered a banana, which arrived with not one, not two, but THREE strings on it! Bad food, bad atmosphere, bad service - stay away!
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Fun and Tasty Neighborhood Restaurant
Very surprised to see a 1-star review for this restaurant. We went here for lunch on a Wednesday, just after Sesame Street and before naptime. When we walked in, the Daddy Finger Song was playing on the loudspeaker. Once we were seated we ordered a round of granola bars for appetizers and then I had the apple sampler: they bring you a bunch of apples and you  take one bite out of all of them. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and are already planning our next trip here.
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Yum, yum!
Ordered delivery because there's no food in the house and mom just had my brother so she's been wearing the same pants for 5 days. Also, she couldn't find the car keys because I put them in the freezer. Food was delivered with complimentary fruit snacks.
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Better Than Mickey D's... And That's Saying Something
I was a little skeptical about The Picky Toddler based on some of the poor reviews and the fact that I'm technically a big girl now. But I'm so glad I tried it anyway. Delicious food, I didn't think this place could top McDonald's on my restaurant top ten but it did!
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Unimpressed. The food was the same old boring children's menu fare: hot dogs, grilled cheese, chicken tenders. And all the TVs were turned to Calliou, ugh!
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
RE: Meh.
Are you even a toddler? This site has gotten so bad about screening for fake reviews. Can somebody remove this comment? It was obviously left by an 8- or 9-year-old troll.
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Overall, I'd Give It an A
Ambiance - appreciated the "no shirt, no shoes, no problem" policy, A+
Food - soup was a little wet, but other than that, A
Drinks - very easy to dump out on the floor, A+
Service - waitress cut sandwiches into rectangles instead of triangles, C-
Parking - someone keyed my Cozy Coupe in the parking lot and management offered a 20% off coupon for my next visit, B
Overall Grade: A. Will definitely go back.
This is what eating out would be like if they all catered to toddlers.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Go for the Yogurt!
Some of the negative reviews on here almost made us go elsewhere. But we were looking for a new kid-friendly establishment after I accidentally flooded the restrooms at Chick Fil-A, so we decided to eat here. I ordered the yogurt and it was easily the best I've ever had. The silky texture and the smooth consistency as it squelched through my hands was the Nirvana of sensory experiences. Trust me, you haven't played with yogurt until you've gone to The Picky Toddler.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Creative Ways to Make Ghosts, Speaking in Fourth Person, and Living in the Coolest Orphanage on the Block

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


This 7 Quick Takes is brought to you by my 4- and 6-year-old, who collaborated to create this portrait of me:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The wispy purple hair makes me look about 40 years older than I actually am, but other than that it's pretty accurate.

They presented this drawing to me so earnestly I almost hurt myself trying not to laugh. I'm not sure what's better: my serial killer smile, my unevenly dilated pupils, or my mile-high forehead.

When my kids draw something that's my favorite (which this clearly is) I save it and mark their name and age in the corner, but when I went to save this one I wrote BOTH of their ages down wrong on the first try so maybe I actually am as crazy as this lady looks.


The middle school play was this past weekend and we needed to send in treats for intermission refreshments.

Last year I outdid myself by buying packages of Oreos at the grocery store on the way to the performance and re-wrapping them in Saran wrap in the parking lot. This year, the director mentioned that "specialty treats" sell better, and the idea popped into my head that since the play was about ghosts we could make little ghost cookies.

The only problem was that we didn't have a ghost cookie cutter. It's not exactly the right season to find them at the store. I texted the craftiest person I know to see if she had one; she didn't. What to do?

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

After some serious Winnie the Pooh-style thinking, I found some leftover wire fencing in the basement, bent it into the shape of a ghost (which my 14-year-old drew,) and MADE a cookie cutter.

They actually worked and we only burned half of the cookies, so I'm going to be riding this high for a while.


My 10-year-old is in the cub scout pack sponsored by our church, and this week they had their Blue and Gold banquet. (I think it's technically supposed to be in February, but usually how things work in our church is if you speak up and complain about something then you get asked to plan it next time, so that's all I have to say about that.)

Every cub scout was supposed to bring a cake representing an assigned part of the Scout Law, and his was "kind." After some preliminary Googling we settled on a heart-shaped cake. My son had some serious vision about how it should be decorated, and it looked amazing after he'd frosted it and topped it with whipped cream and strawberries.

Then the whipped cream started to melt.

We put it in the fridge to stop the hemorrhaging, but it kept melting until most of it slid clean off the cake and all that was left was a puddle of whipped cream on the plate. We were able to wipe it up and make it look presentable for the banquet, but it truly was only a shadow of what it had been before.

At least it still tasted good.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
If you look closely, you can still see the residue of the whipped cream around the strawberries.

Also, at the banquet a little girl ran up to me, handed me a wadded-up tissue, and asked, "Can you take this?" I apparently look so much like a mom that I'm now sending off signals to other people's children that my purse is a receptacle for their trash.

I mean, I totally did put her tissue in there until I could throw it away later. But still.


I'm not sure how it started, but my middle-schoolers made up a new point of view called 4th person. It's a little hard to understand but highly entertaining to listen to once you get it.

Basically, if I wanted to speak in 4th person then I'm identifying as you. And therefore, I identify you as 'me.' So instead of "You can't possibly know how I feel," in the 4th person you'd say "I can't possibly know how you feel."

Once you've wrapped your brain around that, plural pronouns become singular ('we' turns into 'he,' she,' or 'it') and vice versa. So if someone is annoying you and your group of friends and you find that highly annoying, using 4th person you could comment that "We are bothering her and you don't like it at all."

Fourth person probably wouldn't fly in a creative writing class, but it's an interesting storytelling mechanism nonetheless.


There's a children's farm about a half-hour from us that everyone raves about, but it costs a million dollars to get in so we've never been. But we found out about a field trip there at a discounted price through a local moms' group so we finally went this week!

Everyone was right, it was awesome. Here the kids are, petting the world's cutest sheep:

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

Seriously, LOOK AT THIS SHEEP'S FACE. It's like a little anime creature.
It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

My kindergartner skipped school so she could come, too, but I didn't remember to call the school and tell them she would be absent until we already arrived at the farm. So my message on the attendance line had sheep bleating in the background, which was not suspicious at all.


This week was also the elementary school art show, and though I of course enjoyed the fine art created by my own children, I was transfixed by these beautiful lilies made by another class of kids.

I have no idea how they did it, but I would buy these for my living room wall. (Owen and Tate, if you're reading this, text me and we'll talk.)

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

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

I've been to many a school art show in the last decade, but I can honestly say this is the first time I was compelled to take pictures of a complete stranger's kid's artwork.


A while ago I mentioned to a friend of ours who happens to be a builder/contractor (and also sold us our house) that we had this strange dip in our yard, and he showed up with a mini-excavator to dig it up and figure out what was causing the problem.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
That's my finger in the upper corner. Because it's not like I blog and take pictures for a living or anything.

A few of our kids went out to watch him work, then they went back inside and a few other kids came out, and then the neighbor kids wandered over to see what was up... it looked like we were running an orphanage.

That's the fun part about having a big family. Not even your friends know how many kids you have, they just know there's a lot, so you can mess with them like that.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Eight-Layer Cakes, Budding Gardeners Who Also Do Photography, and Why My Kids Will Probably Never Know What a Hexagon Is

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


For my birthday (which was technically last Tuesday but we celebrated this weekend), Phillip got me a new keyboard for my computer. It's a special ergonomic low-resistance one, meaning the keys push down easily.

Now, if you're a normal person you're probably confused. Who has ever complained that their keys were just SO HARD to press? Well, if you type a lot, it actually does make things go faster and cuts down on repetitive stress injuries like tendonitis.

But not nerd-itis. That's forever.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Phillip was right when he presented this to me by saying, "This will probably change your life."

Phillip also made me a beautiful cake with about a bizillion layers of deliciousness. I think next time I'd like to try it with mint ice cream.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Clearly, I'm very serious about dessert appreciation.

If only there were a diagram to show you how wonderful it tasted.


My daughter also presented me with a birthday card that said "thank you for being patient with us."

Which was very sweet, but honestly doesn't sound like me at all. I get stressed-out to the point of yelling virtually every day. So I asked her, "Do you really think I'm a patient mom?"

"Well..." she said, and then she explained that if you take my patience as compared to other moms as a ratio to the number of kids I have as compared to the number of kids other people have, then yeah, I'm pretty patient.

It's all relative, I guess.


At Zumba the other day my friend next to me stopped, pointed in my direction, and asked "What is that? Is that chewed-up gum?" What I did next proved that motherhood changes you in profound ways.

My first reaction was to look down at my clothes and examine them for smashed gum.

My second reaction was to spot the offending ABC gum on the floor and before anyone could step on it, immediately pick it up with my bare hands and throw it away. Even though I had no idea whose mouth it had been in or how it got there.

What's that saying, "you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy?" Motherhood is like that, but with tolerance for things other people would find disgusting.


Spring weather was slow to come but it's here now, so I put up some hanging baskets of flowers and the 4-year-old helped me plant some colorful blooms in the planter outside the garage.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This is not a sponsored post for Miracle-Gro, although it kind of looks like it here.

We were only able to plant a few before some church ladies came over for a meeting so I told him we'd get to the rest of them later. He was really eager to do it, but one thing after another kept coming up and by the time I went to put the 2-year-old down for a nap, he'd had enough and just decided to do it himself.

I was pretty surprised when I came out to see the planter full of flowers, and he was very proud of his handiwork. I took his picture next to the planter, and then he said he wanted to take my picture next to the hanging basket.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Flowers not pictured. (They're just to the right of my head.)

At least he tried.


While my son was watching Ice Age: The Meltdown, I was looking at the back of the DVD case at the voice actors' names.

I saw that John Leguizamo was listed and his name sounded familiar but I couldn't place him, so I Googled it. But my phone wasn't getting reception and kept giving me an error message instead, which was just as well since it wasn't that pressing of a question.

I'd forgotten all about it until 10:30 that night, when my phone woke me up by dinging loudly and announcing that "one search result was ready for 'John Leguizamo.'"

What's that other saying, the one about curiosity killing the sleep-deprived mom?


On Wednesday there was a scheduled power outage while they worked on the electrical lines. Ordinarily this would have been an excuse to leave the house, but 5 preschoolers were coming over for our co-op pre-K that day so no such luck.

Luckily it was a sunny day and they actually played outside most of the time, so it was fine. We reviewed colors, shapes, and counting by making this shape pizza:

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

It wasn't until we were all sitting around the table making our pizza that I realized I'd cut out big yellow octagons but wrote 'hexagons' on their worksheets. I thought briefly about fixing the worksheets and reprinting them, but then I realized: It's May, screw it.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Submitted as an attachment with my application for "Educator of the Year."


To be honest, at this point in the school year I'm less interested in making shape pizzas with construction paper and paper plates and more interested in doing this:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Cute shot of my two boys who may or may not be peeing in the water.

Our first beach day of the season was this week, and the water was cold but I am so ready. Have you been to the beach yet?

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Friday, May 25, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Tiny Terrorists at the Orchestra, Questionable Energy Savings, and a True Story That Tells You All You Need to Know About Parenthood

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


My older kids invented this game where they all call the youngest "Sir" and frantically scramble to serve him. It's actually quite hilarious.

The youngest (who is 2) naturally has no idea what's going on, but right now he's sitting in the cushion fort they built around him with a snack and a huge smile as four other kids trip over each other offering him things and going "Yes, Sir! Right away, Sir! Whatever you need, Sir! Would this make Sir more comfortable?"

People think kids in a big family don't get enough attention, but in reality, most of the time it's like this. There's a lot of love to go around, and bonus points if you managed to be the youngest sibling — the benefits of having a very large universe revolving around you go to the baby of a big family. I mean, to Sir.


I turned 36 on Tuesday so happy birthday to me! My two oldest kids were out of town on a school trip and my son was at soccer tryouts, though, so we decided to postpone it until the weekend.

Meaning my birthday was a totally normal day, the highlight of which was fishing shards of glass out of the garbage disposal from a Pyrex container falling in the sink.

However, Phillip has been clandestinely working on a cake and dropping cryptic hints about a present I'm going to love, so I'm looking forward to celebrating properly this weekend.


During my daughter's orchestra concerts, Phillip and I either tag team it or leave the younger kids at home with the 14-year-old. But since the 14-year-old was on the school trip and we both wanted to see the last concert of the year, we decided to just take everybody.

After sitting quietly for about 10 minutes, the novelty wore off for the 2-year-old and things quickly devolved into a terrorist situation.

The fear of having him erupt into screams in the middle of Vivaldi's Concerto in G Major was so high we did things we never thought we'd do as parents, including kicking his brother out of his own seat because the 2-year-old decided he wanted to sit there and encouraging him to draw on my money and scatter my credit cards all over the aisle as long as he did it quietly.

We caved to every unreasonable demand he made faster than you can say "taking you here was a huge mistake."


During a pit stop at the orchestra concert (in addition to being terrorists, little kids also have bladders the size of walnuts) I noticed this drinking fountain outside the restroom:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The LED display at the top right says: "Helped eliminate waste from _____ disposable plastic bottles."

Initially I thought keeping track of the waste you prevented was pretty cool, but then I realized the energy used to operate the LED display 24/7 was in itself wasteful.

Also, was I the only one seized with an immature urge to run the water just to see the numbers on the display go up? Tell me I'm not the only one.


We've been running a humidifier in my son's room all night because somehow the whole family caught a cold, and then the 2-year-old's cough turned into croup. Again.

I've been exhausted, between feeling sick myself and also being up all night with him because he can't sleep, but the silver lining is that my 6-year-old mispronounces 'humidifier' and keeps asking if we are going to turn on "The Humilitator."


My friend's husband went out of town, leaving her with two little boys who are bursting with superhuman amounts of energy all day long, so I watched them at my house to give her a break.

She was going to see a play and have a nice, relaxing time, but just after dropping the kids off she got a phone call about a plumbing emergency at her house and long story short, missed the play and spent her 3 hours of kid-free time at Home Depot picking out a new toilet.

Which is basically a perfect anecdote to share when people ask, "What's it like to have kids?"


I let myself get talked into signing up for a combination TurboKick/PiYo class (yes, I had to look up all those words, too.)

I was terribly scared because I've never taken a formal exercise class that costs real money, and I was afraid it might be too intense for me. I'm not exactly a hardcore fitness enthusiast; I still have sports bras in excellent condition that were purchased in high school.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I can handle it, even if I could barely walk the next day.

I also learned that paying for an 8 AM class doesn't give you the motivation to get up and out the door on time, which I'd kind of been banking on when I signed up in the first place.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

36 Things to Be Proud Of

It's my 36th birthday today, and if I was going to tell a socially appropriate joke I would say I'm turning 24... for the 12th year in a row, haha!

Maybe acting embarrassed about your age is merely a way of being self-depricating, sort of like how someone compliments your shirt and you feel compelled to confess that it came from a clearance rack at Kmart.

But really, ladies. We should be proud of our age. We earned it.

In honor of my birthday, here are 36 things from my life that I'm proud of:

1. Teaching myself to knit. Knitting is hard, and more than once did I throw down my needles in despair and wail, "I'M TOO DUMB TO KNIT!" But I kept going and so far I've made 3 scarves, a hat, a shawl, socks, a pair of fingerless gloves, some tree ornaments, and an entire man-sized sweater that I completed in secret for Phillip one Christmas. Too dumb to knit, indeed.

2. Raising six kids who love each other. I can't take all the credit, but I like to think the fact that my kids are each other's best friends has at least something to do with the way Phillip and I parented them.

3. Building a blog. When I decided to start a blog three years ago I had no idea what that would entail. I've poured hundreds of hours not just into writing, but into designing my site, learning HTML, networking with other bloggers, and promoting with social media.

4. Learning how to cook. My culinary skills when I became an adult all involved turning on the microwave. I could barely make Kraft mac and cheese. Now I cook dinner from scratch, send my kids to school with healthy homemade treats, and bake all our bread. I still don't like cooking, but I'm proud of having learned it.

5. Finishing college with an 11-month-old. It took me a semester or two longer to finish, and I may or may not have regularly nursed in the bathroom between British Literature and Philosophy, but I earned that bachelor's degree in English. That's true even if all I've read currently this month is Goodnight, Moon.

Growing older is something to be celebrated, not embarrassed by. What 36 things would be on your list?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

6. Being able to do 20 consecutive push-ups. That may not be a lot for some people, but it's a major accomplishment for me since I'm built like Popeye's girlfriend Olive Oyl.

7. Taking my family to church every Sunday. It's a habit in our house and part of what we do on Sundays; I'm glad we've made it something we automatically do, even on vacation.

8. Re-learning everything after a childhood surgery. After brain surgery when I was 10 I couldn't walk on my own, speech was difficult, and my penmanship looked like a 3-year-old's. I still have the notebook where I wrote "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" over and over in occupational therapy.

9. Buying a minivan in cash. I hate debt, and we've worked hard to avoid it. We saved up to buy our first minivan when I was pregnant with #3, and it was the biggest check I'd ever written.

10. Being the Mormonism writer for an online magazine. I once wrote for a now-defunct site called Suite 101 that was sort of the Canadian equivalent of In its heyday I made good money writing about Mormonism and whatever else I wanted, and they even sent me complimentary business cards with my name on them once.

11. Making money buying body wash. I'm big on couponing. Regularly, I enjoy free toothpaste/shampoo and the shocked silence of the cashiers at CVS when I walk away with ExtraCare Bucks worth more than what I spent. Occasionally our house contains things like vitamin supplements for post-menopausal women that we have no use for but were money-makers.

12. Not killing the class pet. Or any of the numerous animals we've pet sat over the years, actually. I can kill a plant just by looking at it, though, so don't even think about asking me to take care of your ferns while you're out of town.

13. Painting the front door red. I was scared to paint our plain white door for years. I finally did and loved how it looked  until our 4-year-old dented the crapola out of it with a tennis racket a few months later for no reason whatsoever.

14. Recording little things the kids said and did. I may be a failure at scrapbooking (according to my scrapbooks I have 3 children who are barely a year old, when in reality I have 6 kids and the oldest is a teenager) but I have more or less faithfully written down cute stories and funny mispronunciations from each one's childhood to look at when I'm old and gray.

15. Buying a bedding set I loved for $40. We just replaced it, but for 10+ years we had the most beautiful comforter, made even more beautiful by the fact it cost so little. (Hint: If you know someone who loves a bargain as much as I do, when they hold up a shopping bag and squeal "Guess how much all this cost???" do not respond by shrugging and guessing a ridiculous amount like $1. It will ruin their day.)

16. My natural VBAC. My fifth baby was born by C-section and I was devastated. Not really out of principle but because recovery was AWFUL in comparison. So I was thrilled when Baby #6 came via a drug-free VBAC that was the hardest, most intense thing I've ever done.

17. Learning a vector graphics software program. I got tired of asking Phillip to design stuff on the computer for me so I figured it out myself. I'm not exactly an expert now, but my knowledge is passable and Inkscape is my go-to for designing the memes I make for Facebook.

18. That time my biceps were enormous. Ordinarily I'm shaped exactly like a living stick figure, but there was one period of my life where I was doing this amazing aerobics/pilates/yoga class with weights and I was ripped.

Growing older is something to be celebrated, not embarrassed by. What 36 things would be on your list?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

19. Becoming Mormon. I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2000 and every good thing in my life either directly or indirectly comes from my faith in Jesus Christ and willingness to listen to his living prophet. Sorry to sound like an infomercial but I can't not do that when things are awesome.

20. Buying a house that will be paid off by the time I'm 45. If it were up to me, we'd have spent the last 10 years wearing rags and eating canned beans over a trash fire in order to have it paid off today, but Phillip said no.

21.  Learning how to drive a stick shift. In high school Phillip's sister taught me to drive their manual transmission car in the church parking lot, and it's a good thing because we inherited it when his family moved to Japan.

22. Using things up and wearing them out. About that car we inherited... we drove it for the next 10 years and when it gave up its last breath, sold it to a junkyard for $40. By the time our family is through with something, from clothes to baby gear to furniture, we've definitely squeezed every last drop of usefulness out of it.

23. Marrying the hottest guy I know. Obviously.

24. Showing up to Zumba for the first time. When a friend of mine announced she was running a free Zumba class every week, I almost didn't go. I know full well I dance like Rick Astley on a good day, but I put on my big girl pants and made myself go anyway. It took courage and I still look like Rick Astley.

25. Maintaining empty space. I consistently and ruthlessly get rid of things at home. De-junking early and often makes me feel good.

26. My research skills. Whether it's kid ailments or some random topic I'm supposed to write a freelance article on, I can find out all about it. Give me Google, and I can learn anything.

27. Fake trips around the world every summer. During summer vacation, we learn about a different country every week, which I simultaneously love and hate doing at the same time.

Growing older is something to be celebrated, not embarrassed by. What 36 things would be on your list?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

28. Learning to use a video editing program. I wanted to make some videos for my blog, so I downloaded some software and taught myself the basics. Phillip can't figure it out, which is my measuring stick for whether something is super-complicated or not.

29. Never making impulse purchases. When I shop, I only buy what's on my list  except for today, when mint Oreos jumped in my cart at the grocery store. But I planned to buy those ahead of time as a birthday gift to myself, so they don't count.

30. Breaking 20k Facebook followers. And as Phillip likes to point out, if 20,000 readers like my blog, just think of how many more there must be when you include the ones who don't like it!

31. Making $100 an hour. Once. For a single freelance article. But still.

32. My parenting style. I admittedly have no idea what I'm doing, but the kids feel loved and are being raised with what I think is a pretty good balance of high expectations and freedom.

33. Sewing all the curtains in my house. I'm especially proud of the Roman shades in the dining room, which would have cost 10 times what I spent to make them myself.

34. My organization. I did forget my daughter's soccer practice today, but on the whole we do what we need and get where we're supposed to. You name it, I have a chart to keep it organized.

35. Cooking spaghetti for 200 people. My current calling at church involves pulling off activities for the members, which is beyond intimidating to me because event planning of any sort is my worst nightmare. Though I still don't like it, I survived the spaghetti dinner and even went on to do other similar events without dying.

36. Making a viral video. "Answering the Question 'Why Do You Have So Many Kids?'" was viewed over 42k times on Facebook. My one regret is that my hair was kind of weird that day, but oh well. It happens.

I know it sounds corny, but one of my favorite things about my husband's appearance now that we're getting older is the lines that appear at the corner of his eyes when he smiles. When I see them, I'm reminded of what a good life we've had.

The same is true about me, and about you, too. Do I really care if I have to pull my eyelids taut to apply eyeliner now? Not really. Because the fact that I've lived on this earth for 36 years is something to be proud of.

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