Friday, May 24, 2024

7 Quick Takes about Nice Notes, Unintentionally Insulting the Flute Repair Lady, and Causing Chaos in Traffic

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


My 18-year-old is preparing hard for her senior violin recital, and recently had her first rehearsal with the pianist who will be accompanying her.

Overall it went well, and my daughter left rehearsal with a list of things to work on before the next rehearsal, including setting the tempo. 

"Up until now I've been practicing with a recording, so I'm used to keeping up with the accompaniment instead of the accompaniment keeping up with me," she explained in the car on the way home.

Summarizing, I said, "So don't follow the pianist. Just do whatever you want and she'll follow you."

"Right," she said. "Because I'm a strong, independent woman who don't need no pianist."

That probably would've worked better if the pianist had been a man, but I know what she meant.


Our youth activity at church this week was a temple field trip. We walked around the grounds of the temple looking at the various flowers, and then spent a little time on the lawn in front of the temple, making encouraging notes for people.

Then we attached small baggies of candy to the notes and stuck them on the windshields of cars in the parking lot.

We were a small but mighty group, and while we were quietly creating these nice notes for strangers outside the temple, I felt the same spirit that I feel when inside the temple of love and peace and calm. 


My 12-year-old missed the bus, so I had to make an unscheduled trip to drive her to school in the morning. 

Before I'd even gotten home, she called to say she forgot her flute, which she needed because this was their last rehearsal before their band concert tomorrow. 

So I brought it to her and then got another call a few hours later saying "Mom, my flute doesn't work!" 

After that, I disconnected the phone. (Not really, but I wanted to.)


We examined my daughter's flute but couldn't see anything wrong with it, so the next afternoon we brought it in to a repair shop. Luckily the woman was able to fix it right then and there, but she was visibly disappointed in the quality of the instrument.

Let me explain that my daughter breaks or loses about 80% of her belongings almost immediately. We love her but it's just the way she is. So instead of buying her a nice flute, we'd gotten her one that matched her current level of responsibility (and, I hate to say it, the quality of our school's music program). Maybe if she keeps playing we'll get her an upgrade, but for now, the super-crappy flute is an intentional choice on our part.

The flute fix only took about 10 minutes, which the woman at the repair shop said wasn't going to cost anything. When I insisted that we pay her, she waved her hand and said "Oh, I'm not going to charge you for that poor thing!"

Which seems like the polite way to say "You can pay me by getting that thing out of here, it's stinking up my shop!"


On the way home, we stopped at a red light and as it turned green and we were pulling into the intersection, the van's parking brake inexplicably engaged. I disengaged it, and it immediately turned back on. I turned off the ignition and started the car, tried to go through the intersection, and the parking brake ground us to a halt again.

I was stuck in an intersection, with a malfunctioning parking brake that wouldn't turn off, and I was blocking traffic. 

People behind me were getting frustrated and restless. To my left, there was a big semi truck that couldn't make the turn while I was in the way, but I couldn't move. Cars started piling up behind the semi, as well.

The semi driver got out and came over to see what was going on, and instead of being really mad he was actually the nicest guy I have ever met. He kept laughing and joking, and he even offered to push the car to the curb (unfortunately the malfunctioning parking brake wouldn't allow that). Seriously, he was so nice, and for someone to be that nice when I'm interrupting his work day in the most annoying way possible is really saying something.

It wasn't long before the police showed up, and an officer helped the semi back up and take an alternate route and then directed traffic around my car until a tow truck came. Since I was only 5 minutes from home, he offered to give me a ride home. I was like "Sweet, a free ride in a police car on my birthday!" Did I mention it was my birthday?


I never did get that free ride, though, because when the tow truck driver came, he was able to get the parking brake disengaged. I'm aware that to the cop, I looked like a dumb woman who doesn't know how to work her car, but I guess you really do stop caring after 40 because I was just glad that someone got it running again.

The tow truck driver followed me home in case it happened again while driving, but I got it home uneventfully and I'm taking it in to the dealer on Tuesday. We have a third car so I think I can avoid using it again until then. Wish me luck at making it to the dealer.


Though my birthday was a really long day, it was still a good day. The truck driver, the cop, and the tow truck driver were all unbelievably nice and made the situation as good as it could've been. 

I'd worked in the temple earlier that day (which I fully credit for the increased patience and tranquility I felt throughout the whole disaster with the car) where an older lady saw me and asked, "Is it a burden being so lovely?" What a nice compliment, she didn't even know it was my birthday. 

My daughter got her flute fixed in time for the concert and got there on time, even with the unexpected car trouble. My 18-year-old made dinner while I went to the concert and her dad worked on the car (he thinks he knows at least partially what caused the malfunction), and I repaid her by removing a gigantic neon pink thinking putty stain from her favorite sweater after I got home.

I was very struck and humbled by how we can all help each other out and make each other's lives better in a lot of little ways during our stay on this earth, and thankful for the people who did that for me today.

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Friday, May 17, 2024

7 Quick Takes about Opening the Mail, Discovering Compliments Inside the Criticism, and What It's (Probably) Like to Raise Edgar Allen Poe

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


Is there a chromosomal reason for why males open envelopes like this?

Looks like it was decimated by a gorilla in a display of dominance.

Whenever mail comes for my husband or any of our three boys, this is what I see on the counter afterward. (Yes, I realize this means I need to teach them how to clean up after themselves as well as how to open an envelope like they have opposable thumbs.)

I suppose I have to pay attention to make sure my girls aren't doing this, too, but I'm pretty sure this is a gender-specific problem and not a parenting issue.


This week I've been making way too many unscheduled car trips for my children.

I've been driving them to school in the morning when they miss the bus. I've been bringing them forgotten items/lunches/instruments. (I normally say no to that kind of thing if it happens too often, but they're spacing it out among them so it's a different kid every time.)

One day my 12-year-old called to ask for rides home for her and her three friends, and yesterday I found myself taking a 30-minute round trip to a bagel shop in the next town where my high school senior locked herself out of the car while skipping class. (It's okay, she actually has permission to leave the building and go wherever she wants during her study periods.)

I've been giving them a pass because they're a little burnt out by this point in the school year, but come on.


While I was practicing with one of my Spanish language exchange partners, I butchered an irregular verb and he told me that's an error that a 5-year-old would make. 

In his defense, (1) it didn't sound as mean as it looks in writing and (2) he only said that because he knows I can do better.

Nevertheless, my immediate reaction was to be really annoyed. Like, "Look, I'm well aware that I talk like a kindergartner but thank you so much for pointing it out."

Then, I recognized the factual accuracy of his statement and just laughed and said, "Lo sé, lo sé" (I know it, I know it). It's true.

Then, I realized something. Did he just say 5-year-old?! Because I used to speak Spanish like a 2-year-old... that means I'm improving!!

Learning a second language is a rollercoaster of emotions.


After a long hiatus, I've started working out again this week. I decided to do Pilates, mostly because I think I need the core strength.

Pilates is weird. It doesn't look hard at all, until you get on your mat and attempt to do it. You're not sweating like in an aerobic workout, but it is SO HARD. I felt like crying the first day, but it gets better every day.

I've also started stretching every morning and night, which I think is really good for me. I'm very inflexible and I've actually noticed it getting worse with age, and I worry about becoming a brittle old twig person where things just start snapping off if I don't start doing something about it.


My 2nd grader brought home an original poem from school that he'd composed, typed up on the computer, printed out, and then illustrated.

It starts out great. In the first few lines he appears to be setting the scene for a serene contemplation of the twilight hours, and after that... I have no idea what is happening.

Starts out like a Frog and Toad  story, ends like Saw III.

The phrase "Well, that escalated quickly" comes to mind.


It's the week before my 12-year-old's school play, when things really ramp up and they double the amount of time they spend in rehearsals. I know because of the frequent emails from her drama director saying BRING DEODORANT IT IS VERY HOT BACKSTAGE  in all caps, italicized, in neon flashing lights.

Which is exactly what I would do if I was crammed into a humid cafetorium every day this week with dozens of sweaty middle schoolers, and I'm pretty sure that teacher is not getting paid enough.


A video came up on my YouTube feed called "Clean or Be Slapped," and you can't not click on something like that, I don't care who you are.

I loved the intro, which really did make me want to clean. (Luckily, the feeling passed.)

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Saturday, May 11, 2024

7 Quick Takes about Last Baptisms, the Problem with Cakes Shaped Like Cute Animals, and Decorating the Mantel

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday Saturday! Obviously I am not on top of life here. How was your week?


Great news! My college-bound daughter, who was previously waitlisted for the music school of her first-choice college, got a place in the music school after all! 

The way she found out was a little anticlimactic, though. One day out of the blue, she received the standard form letter for someone getting into the music school, which instructed her to accept her acceptance by a date that had already passed. 

We were about 90% sure it meant she'd been un-waitlisted, but there was a chance that maybe there was some clerical error, and we didn't want to jump around screaming until we were sure. So we were quietly like "yay" until she was able to call and verify it with someone in admissions several days later. 


My 8-year-old's baptism was on Sunday.  In our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) we see baptism as a two-way promise between a person and God, so we wait until a child is old enough to know what they're doing and what that means.

This baptism was extra-special for me for two reasons. One, the 8-year-old is my baby so this is my last time planning a baptismal program for my own kids. Two, my oldest son was recently ordained as a priest so he could baptize his brother. 

The two of them in their white clothes looked so sweet. Of course when I called them over to take some pictures, the older one immediately sat on the younger one and started wrestling with him, and that basically sums up what it's like to have boys.


At the baptismal program, we planned to show a slideshow of my son growing up like I have done for my other children's baptisms. Normally, I would've started a month beforehand because it's a lot of work, but this time I tried to be less of a control freak and delegate it to my older children.

Long story short, they didn't do it so I ended up taking over and going through 8 years of photos in the night beforehand and it was not enjoyable.

I think it was God's way of making sure I didn't get too sad that this was my last baptism... I was too happy that this was also my last slideshow.


My son's birthday cake was shaped like a duck, his favorite animal of the moment. We found it in a book of cut-up cake recipes that belonged to my grandma.

The cake turned out great and was so cute, although a little disturbing to cut up and serve.


I was having a video chat with a friend from my language exchange app, who pointed out that I had a giant bruise on my hand. I have no idea where it came from, but that's not the point of the story.

The point is that he thought "b-r-u-i-s-e" was a ridiculous spelling for how the word is pronounced.

Later in that same conversation we talked about history, specifically knights and castles. I promised to text him the spelling of the word "Medieval" later and it was going to blow his mind.

Then I had to explain what "blow your mind" meant.


Once upon a time, there were things on our mantel. Decorative things. Then we thought it would be a good idea to get our boys one of those over-the-door basketball hoops and everything on the mantel got broken.

I decided the other day that it's time to re-decorate the mantel area (and probably take down the basketball hoop for a little while) and found a pretty lantern and vase at Home Goods that I am in love with. 

But I wasn't sure what to put in the vase. So I asked whoever was around, which happened to be my 17-year-old and her friend. Her friend suggested "something with white" so I found these amazing faux jasmine blossoms on Amazon and I love the way they look together.

It's a start.

I told my daughter that I took her friend's advice and she told me, "We're each other's mom's interior decorators. Her mom is redoing the kitchen and asked me for advice, too."

This is a use for teenagers I didn't think of before.


I know I just said I was done with slideshows, but I actually need to go through our pictures again to find photos of my 18-year-old playing violin. I'm going to print them out and display them at her senior violin recital.

And this time I will definitely not wait until the last possible minute to do all of it.

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Friday, May 3, 2024

7 Quick Takes about Being Uptight, Historical Fiction, and Cake Decorating Tutorials I Didn't Expect to See

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


My 17-year-old daughter came up to me with a smile on her face and said "Look, it's you!" and showed me this video.

Not really on vacation it's not, but in everyday life? Absolutely. How else would anything get done in a family of 8 without a mother like this?

And I only wish I was competent enough to work out a minute-by-minute schedule as tight as hers. I get that this video is supposed to be satire, but I think it's inspirational.


At church, I'm the Young Women president, leading a group of about 20ish girls ages 11-17. It's actually a little hard to explain what a Young Women president is, because it's more than a teacher or an activity planner — although I also do both of those things. It's really a calling to pray for, mentor, and get to know and love each girl as much as she'll let you, in all areas of her life and regardless of whether she actively attends church.

I've had a lot of different callings (church volunteer jobs that you don't exactly volunteer for) and this is definitely the one that resembles motherhood the most to me. 

It's one where you feel like you're never doing enough, and sometimes you wonder if you're even making a difference. 

But sometimes there are little moments that are so encouraging.

This week one of our 17-year-olds was initiated into her school's chapter of the National Honor Society. She was given a rose to give to someone who inspires them to have their core values of leadership, service, character, and scholarship, and she gave the rose to me.

To tell you the truth, I don't usually care for flowers, minimalist that I am. But this flower makes me smile every time I walk by it.


Speaking of my Young Women's group, before class last week I overheard them discussing a book that one of them is reading, which she described as "historical fiction." Someone asked what time period it was set in, and the answer was: "the 1990s."

I was DYING trying not to laugh.

Just imagine, there I was, a relic in the room who'd actually been alive to see such an epoch of history, and they didn't even realize it!


It was school shirt day at my daughter's high school, where the college-bound seniors were invited to wear something with the logos of the schools they were headed to in the fall.

My daughter didn't have any BYU shirts just yet, but she pulled a Jim Halpert and taped a piece of paper to her shirt that said "BYU  YAY."

My 7-year-old asked her on her way out the door in the morning, "Why does your shirt say 'boo-yah' on it?"


I can't decide if this is better or worse than when the kids take off every couch cushion to make a fort. Both mean that no one can sit anywhere else in the living room and that I get to clean them all up afterward.

Probably reading "The Princess and the Pea."

But maybe I'm just jealous because that actually looks like a super-comfortable spot to read.


Sometimes I wonder if I should be doing more to foster my 12-year-old's passion for baking and encourage her culinary skills, other than just shrugging and letting her do what she wants in the kitchen. 

This week, she decided while doing a school project on Somalia to deep fry some Somali donuts to bring to class (she did have to ask how to deep fry and I had to bring her to the store to buy oil.)

And then the next day she asked to make the Family Home Evening treat, and practically before I could say yes she was in the kitchen with the blender going making strawberry cupcakes from scratch and piping on homemade buttercream frosting. (Sorry, no pictures, we ate them all immediately.)

Lately she's been using the piping set I have in the kitchen for some reason and just trying to figure it out herself, but I thought it might help her to see a video on some basic cake decorating techniques. 

The first video that came up was from The Topless Baker; at first I guessed the name was a play on words having to do with the upper part of a muffin (anyone who watched Seinfeld in the 90s knows what I'm talking about) but nope, it's literally a guy who makes instructional videos on baking while shirtless. I guess you have to make a name for yourself somehow on the Internet, and he found his niche.


I've been using Inkscape, my favorite vector graphics program, to design things a lot in the last few weeks. I've made flyers for our church youth fundraiser, invitations for my son's baptism, and invitations for my daughter's senior recital and also programs for that same recital. 

I'm completely self-taught, so maybe I should search YouTube for the Topless Graphic Designer (on second thought, that sounds like a horrible idea for a web search) for a solid understanding of the basics. But I don't know, my skill level fits my current needs so it's probably fine.

When I got home from taking pictures of my daughter and her friends going to senior prom this past weekend, I realized the kids had put a weird setting on my phone and everyone was stretched until they looked like normal-colored Avatar people. But luckily, I could easily fix that in Inkscape.

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Friday, April 26, 2024

7 Quick Takes about Unflattering Photos, Vietnamese Food, and Animals I Don't Particularly Want to Resemble

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


My 12-year-old just discovered the .5 zoom wide angle lens on the cell phone that we use as our home phone, and she's been going around taking the most unflattering portraits possible of everyone in the family:

This is going to be my new profile picture for everything from now on.


One time in Young Women's (the teen girls' youth group I lead), we did a guessing game to get to know the newest members of our class. For the question "What is your dream job?" one of the girls answered answered "mom" and someone in the room exclaimed "That's not a job!"

Which we all know is 100% true. After all, if caring for kids was a real job, then wouldn't day care providers get paid? Hey, wait a minute...

Anyway, I think about these things a lot. So when I saw an email from the leaders of our children's church youth group asking for volunteers to come present for 3-5 minutes at career night, you'd better bet I jumped on that and went to talk about the work I do as a stay-at-home mom.

I loved having the chance to do that, because I really do love my job and think it's the most important thing I'll ever do.


Speaking of parents, I also think dads are pretty cool. The other day, I came across this short clip from Master Chef Jr. and watched it an embarrassing amount of times because it's just too sweet:

Knowing reality shows, the producers probably superglued the lid on for extra drama, but little did they know that dad love is stronger than superglue. 


The other night I tried to wind down before bed by grabbing the book I'm currently reading, a nonfiction book about sleep science called Dreamland, but it kind of backfired.

The chapter I was on was about sleepwalking, specifically people who commit crimes in their sleep. It wasn't extremely graphic, but there were enough disturbing details about men who abused or strangled their wives while they both slept that it was not exactly the relaxing experience I'd hoped for.

Luckily, though, Phillip was on a work trip so no need to worry about that. He doesn't sleepwalk anyway. Sometimes he talks in his sleep, but it's fairly harmless and nonsensical. A few weeks ago he sat up in bed in the middle of the night and told me, "There aren't any spiders."

Half-awake I asked, "Are you worried about spiders?

"No," he answered.

"Did you have a nightmare about spiders?"


Then we both went back to sleep.


Taking the entire family out to eat is expensive and complicated so we don't do it very often, but once a year or so, the kids beg us to take them out for pho. It's a Vietnamese soup and it's pronounced like "bruh," for those of you with elementary-schoolers.

I don't know why they love it so much. And actually I worry that they're going to build the experience up in their heads so much that one day they're going to get their long-awaited bowl of pho and be disappointed. But so far, that hasn't happened.

Skillwise, I'd say we're in the bottom 10% of chopstick users, but we try anyway.


Frequently we go over to our elderly neighbor's house to help her with random things, and this week she mentioned wanting to get rid of a massive CRT TV from the 90s. Not knowing how heavy it was, I volunteered to bring my 15-year-old son over so we could bring it to the dump and dispose of it for her.

Had I known better, I would have waited for Phillip to get home so he could do it instead of me. 

For one, he's stronger and that TV was an absolute behemoth. For another, he's an engineer and would've figured out that flipping it over and carrying it out face-down would've been way easier on our backs. That only crossed my mind after we'd already lugged it through her house, down the front stairs, and out to the car. 

But Phillip was out of town and one way or another, my son and I got the job done.


My kids informed me that "skin care" is a thing in middle and high school now. Twelve-year-olds shop at Sephora and have the 20-step nightly skin care routine of menopausal women. 

They also tell me that one of the hot (read: expensive) skin care brands right now is "Drunk Elephant." Keep in mind that elephants look like this:

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

I don't quite get it, so I think I'll stick with my usual skin care regime, which is wearing sunscreen, not smoking, and washing my face before bed with the same soap I use to wash my hands. 

Worst-case scenario, I end up looking like an elephant but I'll still have a lot more money in my bank account.

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Friday, April 19, 2024

7 Quick Takes about Heading Into Obscurity, Throwing Rocks, and Adventures in Engineering

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


This week my dad and stepmom are here visiting. We've lived here long enough that we've already taken them to all the usual tourist destinations, so we've been digging into some slightly more obscure ones for this visit. 


One of them was a museum of religious iconography specific to the Eastern Orthodox Church, which has actually been on my list of paces to visit for a while because (1) I like looking at art and (2) I love learning about other religions. 

At the museum, I learned several apocryphal stories I'd never heard of before. I also did a lot of Googling to understand what I was looking at, including (but not limited to) the time I encountered an icon entitled "The Three-Handed Mother of God." 

Toward the end, the 7- and 10-year-olds were getting bored out of their minds, but we took them to a park afterward to let them burn off some energy so a good time was had by all.


About once or twice a year, Phillip gets the urge to go to the ocean for a polar bear swim, so we decided to do that this week. 

I didn't go in the water because I'm already cold all the time anyway (my daily life from October to mid-April feels like one long polar bear swim) but Phillip and all the kids at least waded in the water and walked around on the various sandbars at low tide.

It was pretty shallow at the beach with all the sandbars, however, so for the sake of our insane family members we drove to another nearby beach for a proper dip in the ocean. 

The water was so cold it made one of the kids cry, and even Phillip only stayed in for about five seconds. But it sure was pretty.


We hosted the three sons of one of my church friends for the afternoon while she finished a paper for college. It was nice outside so they played in the yard most of the day, and then we took a walk and stopped to throw rocks in the creek behind our house.

Boys and rocks, man. I just don't get it.

With all the millennia of history of boys existing, how are there still free-flowing bodies of water on the earth? Why are they not all filled up with rocks? 

In all my years of parenting I've never been able to pass by a river, lake, or stream without my boys stopping to throw rocks in (yes, girls do it too but they get bored and move on in a more timely fashion). 


My own taste in reading non-fiction was recently described to me this way: "You don't like general histories, you like specific histories." That is, of course, the polite way to say "You read history books about really niche stuff that normal people don't know or really care about."

It's true. I get bored with history at the macro level, but if you look at one specific thing and how it's evolved through the years, now that is interesting to me. Off the top of my head, I can recall enjoying "specific histories" of saltchildhoodswear words (language warning on this one, obviously), marriagehuman cadavers, the Hope Diamond, and most recently, hair removal.

Yes, hair removal.

I just finished Plucked: A History of Hair Removal and it was actually fascinating. Where else would I have learned that X-ray hair removal salons were actually big business in the 1920s or that women used "liquid stockings" (i.e: leg makeup with a fake seam drawn up the back in eyeliner pencil) during the nylon shortages of WWII?

The problem is, I'm a little embarrassed to answer honestly when someone asks me "What have you been reading recently?" so unless they're a really good friend, I usually give them the title of the second book I've been reading.


I'm also reading the book Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep. Ironically, this is the book I pick up when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep.

Which, by the way, I learned is completely normal. In the absence of artificial light, people will naturally have a "first sleep" after sundown, wake up for an hour or two after midnight, and then have a "second sleep" until the sun comes up. Without interference from electricity, the Internet, and Netflix, normal sleep is broken up into two roughly equal blocks.

I don't have an insomnia problem, I'm just really in touch with the hardwired rhythms of my interior clock handed down to me by my earliest human ancestors.


Phillip works in research and development for building materials, and he recently went on a work trip to see the manufacturing facilities at one of the plants that makes his company's products.

As they were inspecting the facilities, they had a question about the large walk-in oven that was used to dry the paint on the product. But due to safety regulations, they were unable to go inside for a closer look without a special "confined space" permit that would cost both time and money to obtain. 

So they did what any group of PhD engineers would do, and got around it by duct taping a webcam to the end of a broom handle and sticking it through the doorway. The solution is a lot like Phillip himself, actually, as brilliant as it is ridiculous.

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Friday, April 12, 2024

7 Quick Takes about Watching the Eclipse, an Exciting Development in the Search for a Dentist, and Couch Cushion Forts

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


The biggest news around here this week was the eclipse on Monday.

My son got this sticker at school.

We were not exactly in the path of totality, but it was enough that my kids got special eclipse glasses and we stood out in the driveway to watch. 

I think my 12-year-old best described it when she said: "It's kind of cool... but kind of not." What she meant was, it's a pretty unique experience to see the path of the moon moving across the sun over 45 minutes, and it's neat to tell yourself afterward that you saw it, but it's not super-duper exciting in the moment because you're just standing in the driveway looking at it periodically through cardboard glasses. I get it.

Looks like the moon but it's actually the sun.

There was a lot of fuss about the eclipse here ahead of time. I know several people who drove two or three hours to go see it in totality and even one person who owns a plane and flew across the shadow during the eclipse. 

After hearing them talk about how awesome totality was, maybe I'll consider making a little more effort to see the next U.S. one in 2044.


This past weekend was general conference, a broadcast with inspired talks prepared and given by leaders of my church. 

There were insights from a lot of the talks that were personally applicable and helpful to me, but one talk I particularly wanted to share here was this one which so beautifully laid out some of the poignant symbolism in our faith:

I also liked the following talk, which was addressed directly to the children watching and focused on three simple phrases: pray to know, pray to grow, and pray to show (she explains what each one means in her talk.) 

Afterward, my 7-year-old exclaimed unprompted, "Well, that  was my favorite talk!" When I asked why, he said "Because I knew what she was saying!" 

The next day, I asked if the 7-year-old remembered the 3 things Sister Porter said. He squinted his eyes, twisted up his face, and tried to remember. "Uhhhh... pray to show, pray to grow, and pray to... throw??"

So  close.


One of my kids' schools has standardized testing this week, and the principal sent out a precursory email outlining the high standards our students will be held to. Here's an excerpt:

Things like this immediately makes me think of our Spanish exchange student Paula, who was blown away by the casual way people dress in American school. Wearing jeans to her school in Spain would get her sent home to change, but here, we bribe our students with free snacks so they don't bring their entire beds to class with them.


My 12-year-old went to a birthday party... at an aerial yoga studio. From the pictures, it looks like Cirque du Soleil was going on, but with children.

This is nothing like birthday parties when I was a kid.

In the late 80s and early 90s, you celebrated at the picnic table in your backyard and MAYBE if you were lucky, your parents rented out Hardee's where some employee led you and your closest friends in rousing party games like "drop the clothespin in the bucket" (yes, that is an actual memory and yes, it was an awesome birthday.)


I finally found a dentist I think I love! I don't want to bore you with all the backstory but I always have trouble finding a good dentist, and in January we switched insurance providers and needed to find a new dentist. 

Since then I've taken various children to two different offices, both of which were slightly scary in their own ways. 

I just had a dentist appointment with a third office and actually felt like the dentist took her time and gave me plenty of information to make informed decisions about my teeth. She seemed like she knew what she was talking about and I trusted her, and I have trust issues with dentists. 

I'm cautiously optimistic and plan to book appointments there for my next two kids who are due for a cleaning and see if I continue to feel good about her. Because like I said, trust issues.


This week I was talking to a language exchange friend and he, in English, referred to something as B.S. Then he stopped and said, "You know, I say that all the time but now I am talking to you and I don't know what is the more... polite way to say it?"

I don't know what it is about me, but I must give off serious baby fawn vibes. I just met this guy a month ago, and I've never even hinted to him that swearing bothers me (although he's right that I don't do it.)

One time in my senior year of high school when I was working at Pizza Hut, I was taking my break with a few other employees. This was back when you could smoke in restaurants so the manager lit a cigarette, then looked at me and said "It feels wrong to do this — like smoking around a baby."


If I needed proof that my 10-year-old is an introvert, this is it. 

He came down one morning, built himself a sofa fort, hung a sheet up over the front, and wedged a flashlight in between the two cushions forming the roof so that he could read undisturbed in there.

Not going to lie, I kind of want one of those forts.

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