Monday, August 22, 2016

20 Things Motherhood Has Forced Me to Say

As a mom, you find things coming out of your mouth that you never dreamed would be necessary to say out loud.

You will tell someone not to lick the wheels of the grocery cart and to stop shutting their brother's head in the dryer. You'll answer questions about why we don't touch poop and point out that laptops aren't meant to be stepped on. None of these things will seem obvious to anyone but you.

Here's a short list of some things I've needed to actually say out loud during my tenure as mom:

20 Things Motherhood Has Forced Me to Say -- As a mom, you find things coming out of your mouth that you never dreamed would be necessary to say out loud.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

1) Honey, don't rub your cantaloupe on your forehead.

2) So you SWEAR that this is not your poop? Would you swear it in court?

3) I told you I don't like it when people lick my arm hair.

4) No baseball bats in bed, guys.

5) Don't eat things off the counter when you don't know what they are.

6) Excuse me, is milk now a finger food?

7) Will you put that in the trash? ...Or eat it, I guess. Okay, then. Well, that was gross.

8) Buddy, you need to tell me when there's poop in your pants.

9) Bananas are for eating, not for drawing with.

10) That's how people get cholera, you know.

11) Stop barking. Every time you bark from now on, you're doing 20 push-ups.

12) Please take those noodles off of your face.

13) Didn't you hear her? She said she doesn't like it when you lick yourself and then touch her!

14) Great. Now there's blood on your brother.

15) Now your finger hurts? I thought you said you were bored. Those are not the same thing. Not even close.

16) Stop hitting your brother's car seat with a spatula.

17) Why do you think it might not be a good idea to lick that?

18) You don't need to decide right now who you're going to marry. Now buckle your seat belt, we're late for preschool.

19) I don't want to watch you picking your boogers and I definitely don't want to watch you eating them.

20) Everybody just keep your spit to yourself for the next 5 minutes.


What's the most bizarre thing YOU'VE ever had to say as a parent?

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Friday, August 19, 2016

7 Quick Takes about the Breakfast of Champions, Getting All Philosophical, and What Happens When an Old Person Takes a Young Person School Supply Shopping

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

1


This is what my son had for breakfast yesterday morning.

7 Quick Takes about the Breakfast of Champions, Getting All Philosophical, and What Happens When an Old Person Takes a Young Person School Supply Shopping

At first glance, you might assume those are sausages beside the eggs. But they're actually pickles.

Because my kids are still on summer vacation and that's how we roll.

2


Our wall phone (do people even have those anymore?) kicked the bucket, so we got a new one. As I was looking it over, I noticed this button at the bottom marked "Noise Reduction."

7 Quick Takes about the Breakfast of Champions, Getting All Philosophical, and What Happens When an Old Person Takes a Young Person School Supply Shopping
So... any ideas on what this does??

Not sure exactly what this means, but I don't think the tiny circuit board inside this phone can handle that task for our family. We'd need something more like the size of one of those government-owned supercomputers that take up an entire room.

I'm tempted to try the noise reduction feature on the phone, but I'm afraid the collective uproar of our 6 children might make it burst into flames. And we did just buy it, after all.

3


Earlier this week I pulled up Google to look up something random and saw this:

7 Quick Takes about the Breakfast of Champions, Getting All Philosophical, and What Happens When an Old Person Takes a Young Person School Supply Shopping

I had to look at it for seriously 30 seconds before I realized there was not a diagram of a scowling uterus and fallopian tubes embedded in the Google logo.

Truthfully I'm still not sure what it is. It might be an angry piece of pizza doing pull-ups, but I'm not sure that's any less odd than the uterus.

By the way, I was looking up the Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings because I heard there was some controversy over a comment she made. As it turns out, the Internet was just trying to make a a big deal out of nothing. Again.

4


This week I've been thinking about life, and right now it feels like I'm standing on a subway platform with a train rocketing past so fast it blows my hair back and knocks my hat off.

On Sunday my 12-year-old was asked to give her first talk in church (in our church we have no paid minister to give sermons, members of the congregation take turns instead), followed by two of my friends' boys (ack, they're not boys, they're men) who are leaving to serve two-year religious missions to Brazil and Hungary.

Then we came home and my daughter started talking about how she's going to be out of the house by the time the baby is in first grade and she "won't get to see him grow up."

It's all too weird. Contemplating the passage of time is giving me bouts of disorientation and/or vertigo.

But I also feel so lucky. I feel so stinking blessed when nobody is screaming and we're all sitting together in the living room watching the baby sitting in his brother's lap. Because this is the best it gets.

5


After church a woman who'd taught my daughter's Sunday School class years ago approached me and told me she loved my daughter's talk and was watching it thinking, "That's my girl up there!"

It made me think of how grateful I am for the "village" we've found at church. Because we all take turns teaching the classes and leading youth groups, each kid has so many "moms" (and "dads") watching them grow up and rooting for them and caring about what happens to them. It's just cool.

In fact, just this Sunday my toddler wandered over to someone else's pew and started showing his toy cars to the nearest adult. We'll just pretend I was thrilled to be part of the village instead of mad that Phillip zoned out while he was on toddler duty and didn't stop him from escaping our pew.

6


Since waiting until the last minute to go school supply shopping last year turned out not to be a good idea, I decided to get it done earlier this year. I went to Staples and only took one child instead of three. Also a good idea.

My son was incredibly helpful in managing the list and getting everything we needed, including a basic calculator for his sister.

7 Quick Takes about the Breakfast of Champions, Getting All Philosophical, and What Happens When an Old Person Takes a Young Person School Supply Shopping
Way cooler than anything I owned as a kid. Except my Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. That was awesome.

I was saying how cool that it could go in a 3-ring binder and my son asked, "Did they even have calculators when you were a kid?"

Yes, for your information, and sadly they were the most high-tech device I had access to until I was 16.

7


Do you ever run out of steam when it's time to get the kids in bed? Bedtime here is 8 PM, but Phillip and I were having one of those nights, and finally at 8:15 or so as the kids were playing in the yard and the sun was starting to set he asked, "So what's the next step here? The kids are running around in the dark screaming..."

And all I could do was look at him and say, "Well, do you want them running around screaming in HERE?"

Maybe not Mom of the Year material, but I thought it was a good question.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Unexpected Benefit of Helping

I've been thinking about service lately. Call it charity, reaching out, or helping others, but serving people has been on my mind.

Years ago, an older man at my church addressed our congregation about service and his sister Joy, and his talk comes to mind whenever I think about the topic.

Joy was born when he was 4 years old and at first, everything was uneventful. It wasn't until Joy was two that his parents realized something was wrong.

Through a series of doctors appointments and medical procedures, they learned that Joy was never going to develop normally.

Eventually she learned to get around from place to place on her own, but she was never able to talk and it wasn't clear how much she understood. For her whole life, she would be spoon-fed every meal and have every one of her diapers changed by her mother.

Joy lived to be 34.

To put that in perspective, her brother (the guy giving the talk in church that day) grew up, had children of his own, toilet-trained them and sent them off to elementary school  all while his mother continued changing Joy's diapers, day in and day out.

People would sometimes watch his mother feeding and changing her adult daughter and say, "You don't have to do this, you know. You could turn Joy over to the state. She doesn't even know you're doing it."

His mother would respond the same way every time: "But I  do."

The funny thing about helping others is that even if it doesn't change their lives, it usually changes ours.

The Unexpected Benefit of Helping -- If God wanted to send angels to help people in response to their every prayer He could, but I think He usually leaves it to us for a reason.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Sometimes, the things we do to help others may not seem to make much of a difference, and that's hard.

We lend a hand to a struggling friend but it doesn't take away her problems. We volunteer at a soup kitchen but we know there'll be more hungry people the very next night.

I don't know about you, but when I put my effort into something I want it to make a difference. It stinks to spend a day sweating over cleaning the house only to wake up the next day to see it's even dirtier and messier than before.

But often, it's not about the net effect of our service.

It's kind of weird, but we really do come to love those we help. And when we love others, we begin to see them as God sees them. We get out of our own heads, stop worrying about ourselves, and become more compassionate.

My oldest daughter gave her first talk in church on Sunday, on this same topic of kindness. She quoted the president of our church, Thomas S. Monson, who said:

Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish   and in effect save their lives.

If God wanted to send angels to help people in response to their every prayer He could, but I think He usually leaves it to us because helping other people gives us the opportunity to become a little better ourselves.

Just something to think about as you go about your day.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Nobody Knows That I...

From reading a person's blog, you learn a lot of interesting little tidbits about them.

You probably know that I'm a Mormon with a traveling circus 6 children.

I like being a cheapskate and writing things that make people laugh; I dislike sleeping (I think it's boring) and pretending to know how to make crafts.

But did you know these 7 things about me?

I was an avid swing dancer in college.


This will come as a complete shock to anyone who's seen me try to move in a graceful manner from one place to another. But it's true. I was a member of the swing club in college and have the T-shirt to prove it.

Nobody Knows That I... -- 7 lesser-known facts about your favorite Unremarkable Files blogger. Did I surprise you with all 7?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Clearly, my dance partner is thrilled.

To be clear, I can not (and do not) just go out on the dance floor by myself and spontaneously bust a move, or whatever they started calling it after 1992. I can swing dance, and that is it.

I'm a closet Tiger Mother.


I try to be a relaxed mom and sometimes succeed, but I cannot contain the perfectionist/control freak within when it comes to my daughter's violin.

Have you ever read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother? I've never threatened to burn my daughter's stuffed animals if she didn't practice, but I got the feeling that while I was reading the book and jumping on the couch yelling, "Yes. YASSS! Preach it, sister!" I was actually supposed to be shaking my head and saying, "Thank goodness I'm not like that crazy lady!"

It may have something to do with all the money Phillip and I have ponied up for lessons over the years, but violin practice for an hour a day, 6 days a week is non-negotiable around here.

I talk to myself.


That's right, I talk to myself and I do it all the time. Complete with hand gestures. I think out loud so often that my older kids don't even give it a second glance, and my preschooler just asks, "Are you talking to yourself, Mama?"

To be honest I don't know if everybody does this. I just can't imagine not doing it. How do people organize their thoughts without hearing themselves say it out loud? I also read my own work aloud when I proofread it. Can't not do it.

I have two different-colored eyes.


If you look at my driver's license it will say "blue," but truthfully neither of my eyes are blue. The left one is a blue-ish green, the right one is the same with a brown starburst around my pupil. Or if you're my kids, you just think I look like this:

Nobody Knows That I... -- 7 lesser-known facts about your favorite Unremarkable Files blogger. Did I surprise you with all 7?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Circa 2005. I don't actually own a pair of red shoes.

I suppose that technically, I have blue eyes because Phillip and I have 6 blue-eyed kids. According to my middle school science teacher, only people with two little 'b's can do that. That's about the extent of what I know about Mendelian genetics.

I had brain surgery as a child.


This is something almost no one knows, not because I try to hide it but just because it never comes up.

But when I was 10, a blood vessel in my brain burst due to a birth defect we didn't know I had.

After a 9-hour neurosurgery and almost 2 weeks in the ICU, I came home and had to re-learn how to walk and write. My mom says I lost my sense of humor and didn't understand what was funny for a whole year (ironic, no?)

Also, I had a really funky haircut for a while since they'd shaved some of it off for the surgery.

Today, there's little evidence that it happened. The scar on my forehead where they put a drain to relieve the internal bleeding looks like I just picked a chicken pock. My other scars are under my hair and behind one ear (which does stick out more than the other.)

My balance is pretty poor when I'm hiking downhill on rocky terrain, but considering that in the months after the surgery I couldn't put a shirt over my head without falling over, I consider that progress.

I have a terrible memory.


This may be related to the brain surgery, or it might not be. But here's a very typical conversation between Phillip and I when choosing a day hike when we last visited family in Utah:

Me: I think we should hike this one!

Phillip: I've been there before. Actually, you and the kids came, too.

Me: We did?

Phillip: Uh-huh. It was 3 years ago.

Me: (narrowing eyes) Are you sure?

Phillip: Positive. Remember how there was the giant rock and it took us forever to get there?

Me: I have no recollection of any of this.

Phillip: ... Of course you don't.

In my defense, there have been plenty (okay, some) times that I remember things Phillip doesn't.

I had a baby in college. And actually took that baby to classes with me.


With permission from the professor, of course. He was awesome about it.

Funny story: when my article "Why I Make My Kids Go To Church" went viral last year, that professor happened to see it and emailed me. I was totally floored he could remember one student from 10 years ago, to which he responded, "Well, not all of them bring a baby."

Nobody Knows That I... -- 7 lesser-known facts about your favorite Unremarkable Files blogger. Did I surprise you with all 7?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Baby who couldn't care less about graduating from college.

Phillip and I got married just after I turned 21, had a baby just before I turned 22, and graduated together with an 11-month-old in 2005. It may not be the right path for everyone, but it certainly worked for me.

I love that being a mom has been part of (almost) my entire adult life, and that Phillip and I grew up together and have been a team forever. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Hopefully you learned something new about me today. Did I succeed in surprising you with all 7?

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Friday, August 12, 2016

7 Quick Takes about Make-Believe Sports, One Kid Per Flag, and a Freebie for the People Who Write for TLC

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

1


The other day I took my kids to the playground and saw the world's smartest mom on the baseball diamond across the park playing with her son, who looked like he was about 3.

She would wind up, pitch an invisible ball to him, and (surprise!) he would hit it every time (so no tantrums, unlike trying to play actual baseball with little kids.) Then she would cheer him on as he ran around all the bases for a home run.

They were having the time of their lives together, he was running off all of his 3-year-old boy energy, and she didn't even have to move.

I've been momming for a decade and have six kids, and watching this lady made me feel like a total amateur.

2


Phillip's work had a special family day at Six Flags, where we all got in with a sweet discount and got to cross a secret bridge to the corporate pavilion area for a catered lunch.

Okay, so the bridge wasn't very secret (but there were bouncers checking for our wristbands) and the lunch was just hot dogs and hamburgers, but we still had an awesome day.

I can't really believe that we took 6 kids to Six Flags including a newborn and a toddler and stayed all day, but between Phillip and me and my mom who was visiting us, somehow we made it work.

As we entered the park, I snapped a picture of this "Lost Parents" station because I thought it was funny.

7 Quick Takes about Make-Believe Sports, One Kid Per Flag, and a Freebie for the People Who Write for TLC   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Irony captured on film.

Little did I know that I was actually going to end up here later in the day to collect a rogue child myself. Hardy har har.

3


The day of Six Flags, I came down with an ear infection. I was slightly concerned about the motion of the rides causing my ear drum to explode, but thankfully everything went okay.

But seriously, who gets an ear infection after they turn 5? I haven't had an ear infection in 30 years!

4


Lately I've been thinking that I'm not grossed out by a lot of things like I used to be, and then we went to the beach and practically had to hold in my vomit when the kids started making "wigs" out of the seaweed.

Then we were digging in the garden and exposed this enormous beetle the size of a grape tomato in the dirt, laying on his back with his creepy little legs flailing around in the air and I almost lost my lunch again.

The kids were like, "Aww, poor thing! Let's gingerly help it flip back over with this garden spade" and I was busy screaming in my head, "KILL IT AND NEVER RETURN TO THIS AREA AGAIN!!"

So I guess I don't have nerves of steel like I thought I did.

5


I was plenty amused when I came across this doll:

7 Quick Takes about Make-Believe Sports, One Kid Per Flag, and a Freebie for the People Who Write for TLC   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

She's made so that her thumbs fit into her mouth, but somebody figured out that her toes do, too. I wonder if she was designed that way on purpose? Or was it just a happy accident?

6


Finally, finally, FINALLY, the stepping stones are done. They are 100% finished and resting in our garden. I have no idea what my family is going to do now that they can't give me a hard time about the project that never ends.

7 Quick Takes about Make-Believe Sports, One Kid Per Flag, and a Freebie for the People Who Write for TLC   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I realize that the actual garden around the stones needs a lot of work. Baby steps, people.

They've been sitting in different locations in the house in varying states of done-ness for 3 years.

Three. Years.

Honestly, I was so sick of them I would've been equally delighted to chuck all 7 of them in a dumpster somewhere. But I suppose I'm glad I finished them.

In all fairness, I had to follow a boatload of steps: mix cement and pour each of the 7 stones (I was using the same bucket so that in itself took a while,) scrounge up some random porcelain, smash it with a hammer, divide the pieces by color, have each family member make a mosaic design, mix some mortar, affix the design to the stone, spread grout on the tiles, and then seal the grout.

7 Quick Takes about Make-Believe Sports, One Kid Per Flag, and a Freebie for the People Who Write for TLC   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Warning: do not think "Oh, that's cute" and start making your own. You will rue the day.

7


But when I get one monkey off my back then I just pile another one (or two or ten) back on, so behold my newest ill-fated project:

7 Quick Takes about Make-Believe Sports, One Kid Per Flag, and a Freebie for the People Who Write for TLC   {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Too bright, but it catches your eye, no?

I want to paint the front door red and I figured if I slapped a paint sample up there I'd have to follow it through.

Of course, that's the same logic that got me into the stepping stone debacle, so it's quite possible that it'll still look like this in 2019.

As I was typing this I had a great idea for a reality show. What if a team went to someone's house and just finished ALL their unfinished projects? If anyone from TLC is reading this, I'd be happy to star in the pilot episode and you could even use my title idea, Address My Mess. What do you think?

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

His Perspective Is Better

His Perspective Is Better -- Becoming a mom has taught me some very interesting lessons about God. Including how sometimes he can just see better than we can.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
photo credit Partha S. Sahana

My baby was not a fan of his last pediatrician's visit.

Not. A fan.

He was fine with being weighed and measured. He was okay about being dressed down to his diaper and prodded and turned this way and that.

But he was violently opposed to the immunizations at the end.

Since he's my sixth baby I've definitely done this before, but it was still the worst to watch his innocent face crumple when the nurse plunged the needle in his leg.

He didn't know what was going on or why, he only knew that this was the worst possible thing that could be happening to him. And he reacted accordingly.

It was in that very unlikely place, comforting my screaming baby on a tissue paper-covered exam table, that I realized something about God.

He knows exactly what it's like to watch one of His children suffer through what they're sure is the worst thing ever, even if they can't possibly understand right then that it's for the best.

One of the things I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons for short) is that God is my father, and I'm His child. So even though I didn't realize it when I started having babies, I was about to learn a whole lot about Him just by becoming a parent myself.

God knows that all the trials and hardships I suffer through are ultimately for my good. Even the serious ones that seem catastrophic at the time (and maybe for years afterward) are like sandpaper smoothing away my rough edges.

I'll be the first to admit that when tragedy strikes, I lose all semblance of perspective. I get anxious and scared, assuming it's going to be terrible now and forevermore. But God's not worried. He knows that it's not going to be this hard forever, and that it's going to turn out alright.

His Perspective Is Better -- Becoming a mom has taught me some very interesting lessons about God. Including how sometimes he can just see better than we can.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Taking my son in for immunizations wasn't my favorite day, but if I could go back and do it again I wouldn't have changed a thing. He certainly couldn't see it, but we weren't just making him needlessly suffer there in that office. We were trying to protect him from some truly awful infectious diseases.

Hopefully the next time some disaster rocks my world, I'll remember this moment with my son in the pediatrician's office and ask my father God, "Is this suffering, or is it medicine?"


For more posts in the "What Motherhood Taught Me About God" series, check out:
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Monday, August 8, 2016

No Such Thing as a Stupid Question

As a blogger, I love Google Analytics. Yeah, yeah, it gives me great statistical information I can use to better my blog and blah blah blah, but I'm talking about the entertainment value.

You see, I can see the search terms that led people to my blog, and you have no idea what strange questions and weird topics people have Googled and somehow ended up on Unremarkable Files.

No Such Thing as a Stupid Question -- 12 strange questions, bizarre topics, and weird search terms that had led people to my blog.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


why cant i be at the beach
Because you're at your computer Googling? I would suggest maybe putting on a suit and getting in your car and seeing what happens.

what is an unremarkable uterus
Sounds like your OB-GYN is kind of heavy with the put-downs. Like you can help it if there's nothing special about your uterus. Anyway, it's what's on the inside that counts (I mean that metaphorically, because apparently your literal insides are just kind of meh.)

about to pee myself
Yeah, me too. It's not your fault, it's just what happens after you have kids.

are skinny jeans comfortable
HAHAHA. No.

funny reasons for being late
My life is a funny reason for being late. You've come to the right place.

big families have a lot of this to do
Okay, I get it. This is like Jeopardy.

What is, "compulsively counting heads when you go out in public"?
What is, "eating birthday cake"?
What is, "sorting through giant mounds of shoes in the mudroom to find a match"?

This is fun.

i can't find my baby i don't know where i don't know why
I'm really hoping these are song lyrics or something. Because otherwise I'm thinking I should call the police.

i'm a different mess than i was yesterday
What a positive way to look at it! I'm going to start saying this to myself in the mirror every morning.

i'm not in charge
Actually, this is what I say to myself in the morning. Sometimes it really freaks me out that this house, my van, and no less than 6 small people are all in my marginally capable hands. Surely this isn't the best idea.

flying squirrel skeleton
Not sure which is more horrifying, that someone searched for this or that I have a post on it.

funny uterus memes
What's with all the 'uterus' searches, anyway?

sick of cleaning up after everyone


So thank you, people of the Internet, for following your bizarre search queries to Unremarkable Files. Even if I couldn't tell you exactly why you aren't at the beach, aren't you glad you came?


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