Monday, October 16, 2017

Google Auto-Fills for Life's Most Pressing Parenting Questions

I love being able to turn to Google when I have a sudden need to know how old Tom Cruise actually is or what hot dogs are made of, and most importantly, let's not forget it has the answers to every parenting question you could ever think to ask.

And Google's auto-fill feature? It's the best.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search... but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.


Life after baby might not be exactly what you expected.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Parenthood requires a very specific skill set.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Just give me the top ten, please.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Things are slightly different after having children.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

There's nothing worse than a baby who's teething.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Parents spend a lot of time cleaning up messes.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Kids are mysterious little creatures.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

But not as much as babies.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Once you realize you can get away with the bare minimum, the second half of your life begins.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

It's helpful to know the reason.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Just give me a ballpark average.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

It might be easier to figure out if they talked better.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Factual things parents need to know.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Making it easier for the kids when you commit yourself.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


All the things that go through your head when you have a 2-year-old.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Parents are always thinking about their kids.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Seriously, I'm concerned about the noise level in this house.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Packing school lunches gets old really fast.

You probably won't see these auto-fills on your next actual parenting search, but it would be a lot more accurate if you did.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


Parents, how much more could you love a search engine that delivers answers to your questions and also predicts what those questions are before you even finish typing? These may not be real Google  auto-fills, but they certainly are realistic.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

7 Quick Takes about Doing Dumb Things for Free Apples, Photo Surprises from the Kids, and Mismatched Vehicles and Drivers

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

1


A few years ago, our family went hiking and came across two wild apple trees. We gathered the most delicious apples and made a pie out of them, and we've been trying to recreate the experience ever since.

We're never very successful.

Hoping this would be our lucky year, we trekked back to the same trail and it felt like an unusual amount of work to even get to the trees.

Phillip was jetlagged from a business trip, the 3-year-old decided he was scared of moss and wanted to be carried if he saw it anywhere within a 5-foot-radius, and one of the kids somehow got a wasp in their shirt and was stung three times.

However, we came home with a bag of free organic apples so it was worth it.

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

Actually, I'm not sure it was. The apples were tiny and fairly tasteless and didn't even make that great of a pie.

But if past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, we will absolutely not learn our lesson and go back again next fall.

2


We have an iPad but I don't personally use it much. It's mostly the kids' device to play games, watch annoying YouTube videos, and read up on current events with this app called News-o-Matic.

But when I picked it up to make my second-ever video Snappy Answers for Why You Have So Many Kids (which is currently doing great on Facebook, thanks for sharing, guys!) I found that the kids had been busy with the camera and editing features, too.

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}

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

Honestly, I can't decide which one I like best: the Snidely Whiplash mustache on my daughter, my son with fairy wings, or my toddler as a decorated war general (I love the juxtaposition of the sippy cup with the katana blades crossed over his back.)

Oh, and there was also a picture of this memo from my 5-year-old who has clearly been listening to my ideas about gender equality when I go on a rant about, say, boys getting flak for wearing pink soccer cleats:

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

Yes, people are special, whether they're a boy or girl.

3


Taking my toddler pants shopping with me last week was not a recipe for a wildly fruitful trip.

Most of it was just desperately trying to stave off a Category 5 meltdown because oh my gosh I want to get out of here and I'm going to throw myself screaming on the floor if we have to look at one more pair of pants!

And that was only me.

Seriously, though, I hate pants shopping, especially now that super skinny jeans are a thing so you're basically just buying pairs of skin in different colors.

Phillip took the kids and sent me off on my own to find some pants, and on the advice of my wonderful Facebook crew, I headed to Old Navy and Kohl's.

And I kid you not, I TEARED UP when I saw this beautiful row nestled inbetween the rock star skinny and the micro skinny jeans:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Bootcut as far as the eye can see. Bootcut for days.

Between the two stores, I came home with seven new pairs of pants. I couldn't even believe it myself.

When I got home, I noticed the tag on this pair and Phillip and I had a good laugh over it.

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

"Luscious" and "curvy" are just about the last two words in the English language to describe me, since I have the body type of a 10-year old boy. (Phillip wants me to say here that he prefers to think of me as 'sporty.')

4


This is possibly the most I've ever been on top of Halloween before, because we've already got 50% of the kids' costumes finished and it's not even mid-October yet.

It helps that some of the kids are older and making their costumes can (theoretically) be a fun thing we do together instead of something I have a mid-life crisis over after they're in bed.

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

My daughter wants to be a dementor from Harry Potter, so on Saturday I used this tutorial for a DIY Jedi robe but modified it to add tattered strips on the arms and hem.

I also bought a banana costume off of Ebay that afternoon, so it's safe to say the Evans family will have a full range of costumes going on here this Halloween.

5


Overall, I think our family is a loving, happy one but we definitely have our moments. Specifically, I  have my moments.

Which was made clear when my 5-year-old earnestly presented me with this handmade chart "to help me." The two sides are labeled "happy" and "mad and stressed out," spelled phonetically.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This simultaneously hurts my heart and is stinking cute.

Patience is something I'm working on, and obviously I'm not finished yet.

I'm pleased to report, though, that I currently have two checkmarks in the "hapee" column and none in other. So I must be improving.

6


I took my oldest three kids clothes shopping (between that and pants shopping for myself all in the same week, I needed to lie down for a while afterward) and on the way out I saw the strangest thing.

There was a lime green sports car leaving the parking lot in front of us and I was like, "Hey, cool car."

The personalized license plate said 'MONST3R' and I was like, "Wow, you appear to be rebellious and hip."

Then I looked at the driver and his passenger, and it was this couple in their 70s. Which is still making me rethink everything I thought I knew about retirement.

7


This week's horrifying scene is brought to you by the 1-year-old, who figured out he can drag the bathroom stool anywhere in the house and access any drawer that interests him.

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

I heard him pushing this stool across the kitchen floor and caught him rummaging through the junk drawer (which is located directly below the junk counter for random crap that won't fit in the drawer.) 

It's like he thinks he owns the place.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Snappy Answers for Why You Have So Many Kids {VIDEO}

If you're the parent of more than a couple of children, you've probably been asked at least a few times why you have so many kids.

I've written at length about the complex question that really is, but let's face it: there's not time to say all that when you're passing a nosy stranger in the cereal aisle. What if you only have time to shoot a quick zinger over your shoulder before they're out of earshot?

Well, you try one of these.


Let me know how it goes, and don't forget to share this video with the big family moms and dads in your life!

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I've been asked way too many times why I have so many kids. You asked for it, people.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
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Monday, October 9, 2017

Staying Up Late Is My Kryptonite

I've been a night owl all my life. Everyone who's ever shared a living space with me, from my college roommates to my husband, have all marveled at how little sleep I need to function.

Sure, it comes in handy when I'm writing to a deadline or a baby is teething, but on ordinary days I still want to stay up late doing something, anything besides sleeping.

Quitting whatever I'm doing and heading to bed feels like walking The Green Mile. I might as well brush my teeth to a funeral dirge.

According to this Business Insider article, that makes me a sleep procrastinator.

I think normal people actually want to snuggle up in the covers at the end of a long day and spend the next 6-8 hours comatose in bed. To them, it sounds luxurious and delightfully cozy.

To me it sounds like something for which science should be desperately seeking a cure. Like polio, or smallpox. Why are we not organizing 5k's for this?

Quitting whatever I'm doing and heading to bed feels like walking The Green Mile. I might as well brush my teeth to a funeral dirge.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Whether I like it or not, though, humans currently need to sleep every night, and I'm trying to work with it. All my adult life I've been trying to get to bed on time.

I've tried recording in a notebook what time I went to bed every night.

I've tried setting a bedtime alarm on my phone.

I've even tried to create some accountability for myself by doing a nightly check-in on the blog's Facebook page.

And nothing has worked.

I abandoned the notebook when it quickly became more depressing than helpful. When my phone goes off every night, I say rude things to it and then ignore it until it silences itself. Facebook doesn't care if I stay up until 2 AM.

I've improved over time, but only because I'm getting older, and I feel as tired now after 6 hours of sleep as I once did after 4. On paper it might look like I'm mending my ways as time goes on, but I'm the same level of tired as ever.

It sounds like a simple self-control problem, but I don't think that's the whole story. I've overcome bad habits before.

As a kid, I regularly bit my nails so far down I used to wrap my fingertips in band-aids to ease the throbbing. You'd never know it today though, because I haven't chewed a fingernail in years.

Over the summer I noticed I was eating too much junk food and decided to just stop for a month. I turned down dessert, walked by the refreshment table without a second thought, and didn't have so much as an M&M for 30 days. It wasn't even that hard.

I'm no stranger to self-control in almost every other area of my life, except for this one.

This post probably makes no sense to most people, who love going to bed. What are you complaining about? They're saying to their computers right now in exasperation. If you hate sleeping so much, then just stay up!

But let me ask you something: Do you enjoy cleaning your toilet? Then why do you do it?

Sleeping isn't something I get to do, it's something I have to do, and to me it's every bit as unpleasant a chore as scrubbing the commode in the kids' bathroom. Actually, I would gladly stay up to do it if it meant putting off bedtime for another 15 minutes.

Staying up late is no doubt my worst habit. But how do you break a habit when doing the right thing is less appealing than the toilet bowl brush?

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Friday, October 6, 2017

7 Quick Takes about the Other Letter, Things You Find in Your Hair that Aren't Snakes, and a Very Anti-Climactic Mattress Reveal Party

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

1


My kindergartner came home from school and informed me that her class finished reviewing the alphabet.

"That's great," I replied. "So now everyone knows all the letters."

"Sort of," she answered. "But we didn't learn that other letter I see in books."

"What 'other letter?' You mean like this?" I was drawing ampersands and all other kinds of symbols, but none of them were it. Finally I asked if she could draw it for me.

"I think so..." she said, and proceeded to draw me a Roman lowercase 'g,'

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

When I think about it, this looks nothing like the lowercase 'g' we've all been teaching her to print so no wonder she was confused.

The moral of the story: if your kid can't read, typography might be to blame.

2


One afternoon the kids and I went outside to play Messy Backyard. If you don't know this game, the rules are very simple: you divide the driveway/yard in half with a line of cones and get out all the frisbees and balls, and on the count of three each team tries to get them ALL on the other side at the same time.

It's a pretty crazy 45 seconds before mom has to sit down or suffer a massive heart attack.

After we finished playing and went inside to eat lunch, my 5-year-old looked at me in horror and screamed, "There's something green on your head! SNAKE!!"

Now, I was reasonably sure there wasn't actually a snake on my head. But she's normally a pretty level-headed girl so there was obviously something there, and in that split-second I did recall seeing two gardener snakes in the yard when we were playing Messy Backyard, and I started to get a little freaked out. I ran to the bathroom mirror and found...

...an inchworm in my hair.

The kids played with it for close to 30 minutes and had a grand old time watching it inch around. The 3-year-old kept asking, "Can I hold the worm-squinch?"

I seriously love how that kid mostly remembers a phrase but gets it hilariously wrong. He does this all the time. In fact, when we were playing Messy Backyard he kept calling it Nasty Garden. Which I absolutely will not correct him about because that is adorable.

3


For the last 13 years, we've had our cars insured through GEICO and I love them. Every couple of years I call around just to see if anyone else can give us a better price and no one ever can.

Also, their customer service is amazing. When I backed into a car in a parking lot, I left a note with my phone number, called GEICO to set up a claim, and they handled everything. I hardly had to talk to the guy whose car I hit, which was good because it was a nice car and he was mad. (The lady at GEICO thanked me for being honest; he certainly did not.)

Recently, GEICO reviewed our policy and lowered our premiums (I'm coming up on the 10-year mark of not backing into any more cars so it makes sense) and mailed us a check for $180. As if they didn't have my heart already.

(This isn't a sponsored post, by the way, I just love GEICO.)

4


I already mentioned General Conference this past weekend, and I had no idea how many of you would remember our snack tradition. Even those of you who aren't Mormon were asking about it.

Well, you'll be pleased to know we did it again.

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

Before conference the kids taped pictures of church leaders to different packages of snacks, and when that person gave a talk during conference, the kids got the treat.

I tried to offer some healthier options alongside the junk food this year but the kids outsmarted me. When it was announced over the pulpit that President Monson wasn't at this conference because of his health (he is 90, after all) and therefore wouldn't be speaking, I saw the kids stealthily move his picture to the canister of dates so they wouldn't have to eat them.

We hunkered down and made ourselves comfortable in the living room, watching all four sessions of conference over Saturday and Sunday, each of them 2 hours long.

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}
Entertainment during conference to keep the kids' hands occupied as they listened.
Between the cleanliness of the house and the attentiveness of the children, you can assume the photo below was taken during the first 5 minutes of the first session. 

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

Just like at church, I usually found myself sitting there with someone (or several someones) leaning, lying, or sitting on me. I don't know if it's because the Holy Spirit is making them feel all lovey or just because I'm a captive audience and they know I'm not going to run away to do 100 loads of laundry or what. It just happens every time.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Left: My notes. Right: The 5-year-old's notes.

All in all, it was a pretty great weekend. I had fun hanging out with the family and the talks made me feel encouraged and hopeful, giving me ideas of how I can be a better mom, wife, Christian, and person.

But before I put on my rose-colored glasses and tell you how amazing it all was, I should also warn you that my children are human and prone to get bored and/or make messes.

The 1-year-old noticed we were all occupied in the living room and seized the opportunity to do some reorganization in the kitchen:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The towel and swipe marks lead me to believe he was at least trying to clean up and cover his tracks, bless his heart.
At one point during the last session, I looked over to see my 9-year-old watching like this. I have no idea how long this was going on.

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

It was at least a few minutes until he finally noticed me watching him.

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

Feel free to compare what our house looked like at the beginning of conference versus the end of conference. Please note the blurry child catapulting over the sofa at the corner of the second shot who is clearly done with all the talking.

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

5


I mentioned a few weeks ago how we needed to replace a mattress for one of my children, and it took us a while to get around to ordering it.

Since then the mattress-less child been sleeping on the floor (don't call CPS, they actually sleep on the floor voluntarily all the time  I'm not even sure why we bought them a bed now that I think about it.)

The mattress came rolled up in a box and I'd heard it was pretty cool watching it unfurl so I called all the kids to come and watch. I think I may have oversold it because it was actually very boring.

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

The kids were much more interested in playing in the box that it came in, anyway.

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

6


It's fun having kids old enough to give you a hard time about stuff.

I probably do this 20 times a day, but when I walked into the kitchen as my son was getting himself a snack, I completely blanked on why I was even in that room.

"Why did I come in here?" I asked, more to myself than anything.

"I don't know, I can't read your mind." My son quickly responded, not even looking up from shelling his pistachios. "And even if I could, it wouldn't help."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because you don't know, either."

Oh. Right. I knew that.

7


Phillip just came home from a business trip to Europe, so for most of this week we were on our own.

I expected it to be a pretty tough week, especially doing all the after-school activity drop-offs and pick-ups during homework and meal prep time single-handedly, but then 3 of our 9 after-school activities ended up being randomly canceled and I found a bag of snickerdoodles in the freezer that we made and forgot about last week.

So don't tell me that miracles don't happen.


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Monday, October 2, 2017

What's the Big Deal About the Book of Mormon?

All of you know I'm a Mormon.

But when you think about it, that's weird. It's weird because the actual name of my church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which you'll notice   if you're shrewdly observant   doesn't even contain the word "Mormon" or anything like it.

It's worse than Charles being called Chuck or Margaret being called Peggy. (Sorry, Chucks and Peggys. You're still lovely people.)

However, there is at least a little logic to it, unlike Jack as a nickname for 'John.'

"Mormon" is a nickname for people who believe in a book of scriptures alongside the Bible called the Book of Mormon.

For many years I didn't grasp the real value of the Book of Mormon. And it goes beyond just having a cool name.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The best-looking copy I could find in the house. At least it has all the pages.

Brief summary: the Book of Mormon is a record of God's interactions with the people in ancient North and South America. Things were written down on metal plates and passed down, until the last person in the line  a prophet named Mormon  abridged it all and buried it around 400 A.D.

Fast-forward a thousand years, and we believe that God called a new prophet to reorganize his church in the 1800s. This was going to restore religious truths that had been lost or misunderstood for centuries. So yeah, it was a big deal.

His name was Joseph Smith, and God instructed him to dig up and translate the buried plates into English. The result was (you guessed it) the Book of Mormon.

At first we called each other "saints" or "latter-day saints" like it says in the name of the church, but people who didn't like us called us "Mormons" to mock our belief in the Book of Mormon.

We showed them, though, by appropriating the slur and using it with pride.

For many years I didn't grasp the real value of the Book of Mormon. And it goes beyond just having a cool name.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Why, yes I am Mormon, thanks for asking!

But I digress.

The point is, the Book of Mormon has been a defining feature of my church from the very beginning.

Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on this Earth." Obviously not from a grammatical standpoint (when he translated the book, his scribes wrote down the entire thing without any punctuation and it was added at the printer's later,) but from a doctrinal one.

Early church leader Parley P. Pratt was a convert. He describes hearing talk about "a strange book" (his words, not mine.) When he got his hands on a copy of the Book of Mormon, he stayed up all night reading the entire thing in one sitting and was baptized the next day.

Today, leaders and prophets in my church continue to say the same thing: that a serious study of the Book of Mormon will transform your life, that it can answer your most important questions, and that nothing else can help you become closer to God than reading it every day. They go so far as to call the Book of Mormon "the keystone of our religion."

At General Conference over the weekend, I really liked this talk by Elder Nelson:


Elder Nelson says "when I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word, 'power.'"

However, I have to admit something to you: I didn't use to get all the fuss over the Book of Mormon.

Of course I believed it was the word of God, and I recognized that it was useful because it expanded and clarified concepts that were kind of murky in the Bible (like infant baptism.)

But the Book of Mormon seemed to be a simple collection of fairly straightforward stories, and to be perfectly honest I was more likely to turn to the words Jesus said in the New Testament for real inspiration than the Book of Mormon.

And then 2009 arrived.

In 2009, I had a 4-year-old who still desperately needed naps but wouldn't take them unless I was sitting in her bedroom.

People say when life hands you lemons you should make lemonade, and I needed to jump-start my scripture study habits anyway, so I guess you could say this was an opportunity in disguise. I would literally be a captive audience for the scriptures, sitting in my daughter's room waiting for her to go to sleep every afternoon.

I decided to re-read the Book of Mormon.

I've heard people say before to read it through twice from cover to cover. The first time, you read just to grasp the basic plot points of who, where, and when. The second time, you read while paying special attention to any references to Jesus Christ.

I figured I'd already gotten the plot since I'd read it many times before, so I decided to start at the beginning and take notes every time I saw a reference to Christ.

For many years I didn't grasp the real value of the Book of Mormon. And it goes beyond just having a cool name.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Frankly, it was like I was reading a different book. I guess I didn't notice until I paid special attention how the Book of Mormon shows so clearly how Jesus is woven in, around, and through the entire gospel narrative.

(I guess that should've been fairly obvious, given that the full title is The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, but sometimes I can be pretty dense.)

In short, Jesus is the gospel, and he is God's plan. Reading the Book of Mormon helps me see the whole picture more clearly, with Jesus Christ right in the center of it.

And that to me, is the value of the Book of Mormon.

If you're interested in getting a copy of the Book of Mormon (or watching a cute animated video that sums up what it's about in 60 seconds) you can click this link and Mormon missionaries will deliver one to you.

Or if that sounds totally scary and you don't want to talk to a real human (I get it) you can read it online in its entirety right here.

I love the Bible and I love the Book of Mormon. On the surface it doesn't make sense that the Book of Mormon could change my life, but I guess everything the prophets say about it is true. It does.

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