Friday, May 20, 2022

7 Quick Takes about DIY Projects, Recovering from Your Mistakes, and a Surprise Graduation for Me

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


Phillip has been thinking about our driveway drainage lately, and one morning I was making breakfast while an instructional video about it on YouTube played in the background.

I was only halfway paying attention, but then I heard the words "Installing a French drain is an easy DIY project that only takes a couple of days" and I panicked.

I threw down my spatula yelling "Lies! LIES!!" and ran in there to cover Phillip's ears and drown out that man's alluring siren song as fast as I could, because no DIY project is ever done in a couple of days.

I may have some lingering issues from the fact that we've been finishing the basement for  the last 10 years.


The problem with DIY projects like finishing the basement is that it ends up taking a backseat to whatever emergency is happening at the moment: the dishwasher is broken, the refrigerator is broken, the washing machine is broken... unfortunately, these are all real examples from our house.

This week, the water heater started leaking all over the place, but thanks to YouTube, Phillip fixed it himself and saved us a week of waiting on parts and about $1,000 in labor. 

So our basement may still be unfinished, but at least it's not underwater.


We've been sitting behind this one family at church lately and their kids crack me up every week. I always overhear some funny whispered comment from one of them during the service.

Last Sunday, two of the boys were playing Hangman with each other to pass the time. When I looked closer at the paper and figured out the phrase they were trying to guess, I had to get a tissue out of my purse and pretend to blow my nose so no one could see me laughing.

The phrase was "I can't wait to go home."


My 10-year-old had her very first voice recital. Well, she did have a few recitals earlier in the year on Zoom, but singing to a laptop in your living room isn't nearly the same as being on stage in front of a live audience.

She was pretty nervous, and when it was her turn she took the stage and promptly forgot how her song started. She sang the wrong words, realized what she'd done, then stopped and buried her face in her hands. 

My favorite part was what happened next. She put her hands down, took a deep breath, started over, and sang the rest of the song beautifully. And her recovery made me prouder than if she'd done the whole thing flawlessly from the beginning. 

Life is full of unpleasant mess-ups, but if you can pick yourself up and keep going, in the end no one (including you) will really care, and it will all turn out just fine. And the sooner you realize that, the happier you are.


I don't think my two high school daughters look very much alike, but other people do. When they were toddlers I used to get asked every time we went out if they were twins, and they tell me people at school say still say things like, "Are you so-and-so's sister? I thought so, you look like her."

Well, they decided to put that to the test and switch places for one of their classes. They wore each other's clothes and sat down at each other's desks first period, trying to see how long it would take for everyone to figure it out. They did have masks on, so that helped (thanks, COVID!)

Before class started, my 16-year-old was approached by the teacher, who stood two feet away from her and asked her a question as if she was her sister! My daughter avoided direct eye contact and nodded, and the teacher went away. 

It took about 15 minutes, but the teacher finally called her out, saying, "No wonder you wouldn't look at me! I thought you were just having a bad day!" 

My 16-year-old texted her sister and told her the jig was up. "Try to get my teacher to notice, and then we'll switch back."

"I'm trying!" the 18-year-old texted back. "I keep raising my hand and making comments but it's not working!"

Finally, the teacher did notice. In the middle of answering my daughter's fourth or fifth question of the day, she did a double-take and said, "Wait, have you been in here the whole time?!"

They'd purposely picked teachers who would be cool with the switcheroo, and for the most part they were. But after my daughters met in the bathroom, swapped back into their own clothes, and headed back to their classrooms, one teacher did say, "I hope you know you're not getting credit for your sister's participation in our class discussion."


I've been eyeing the calendar for a while and realizing that my 18-year-old is about to graduate. But I brought her to an appointment this week and while we sat in the waiting room I realized that I  had already graduated. FROM DOING HER PAPERWORK!

That's right, I got to sit there playing on my phone while she filled out multiple pages of HIPAA forms and updated her medical history and did whatever else was in the stack of papers handed to her by the receptionist.

Next time I won't even need to go, although this time I had to because I had a question for the doctor.


My 8-year-old has been experimenting with clever comebacks lately such as "Your face!" and "I know you are but what am I?"

Apparently my 6-year-old has gotten sick of it, and since asking his brother to stop hasn't helped he decided to try a different tactic.

I found this on the counter:

"If you say 'I know you are' or 'I know you are but what am I?' that means 'I'm dumb' in French." That should show him.

My favorite part of this is how you can see a crossed-out "stuped" where he must have tried to write 'stupid,' realized it was wrong but couldn't figure out how to spell it, then just crossed it out and went with the word 'dumb' instead.

We'll see if the 6-year-old's psychological trick actually works. If so, I'm not opposed to using it when difficult parenting scenarios arise in the future.

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Friday, May 13, 2022

7 Quick Takes about the Neverending Driving Lesson, Water Bottle Purchases, and Helping My Daughter Make Friends

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


Quick covid update and then on to other things: Within the last week, everyone in the family tested positive, suffered from varying degrees of crumminess, recovered, finished their isolation as per CDC guidelines, and went back to school.

Since they all started having symptoms on different days, though, I have a literal chart on the wall that I refer to so I know when each child goes back to school and how long they're supposed to mask in public.

I feel a lingering sense of general low energy. It's nothing I can really pinpoint, but if you ask me to do anything it's a good bet I'm not going to feel like it.


I enjoyed the Mother's Day cards from my kids on Sunday (in my case, they were also get well cards) and think my 18-year-old should pitch this idea to Hallmark:

You can't copyright the likeness of Freddie Mercury, can you?


When my oldest son was a toddler, I remember being shocked at the difference between boys and girls. When girls are excited, girls will scream and run around but boys will straight-up yell "HULK SMASH!!!" and put a hole in the wall. 

It's nuts.

And I guess they don't stop being destructive when they're older. Specifically, my 13-year-old son is destroying his braces. His older sister had braces from the same orthodontist for two years with nary a problem, but he's had his braces for less than a month and has already lost a wire and broken a bracket.


My 16-year-old passed her learner's permit test on Wednesday! After dropping off her little brothers at gymnastics that evening, I found an empty parking lot nearby and gave her her first driving lesson.

Since the car she'll be using is a manual transmission, the first few lessons don't exceed 5 MPH and mostly involve killing the engine repeatedly while remaining in one spot. But she's a fast learner and got the hang of it quickly. 

It feels like I was just doing this with her older sister, so I guess this means I've officially moved to a new phase of life. Instead of permanently potty-training somebody, I'm going to be eternally teaching someone to drive.


Why are good water bottles so hard to find? By "good," I mean:
  • Reusable
  • Not breakable if dropped
  • Mostly spill-proof, within reason
  • No straw so I can clean it
  • Fits in the side pocket of a backpack
  • Inexpensive to replace when lost
  • Not too huge, not too tiny (20 oz. is perfect)
Okay, I guess that's a lot of specifications. But still. We had some Rubbermaid bottles that fit this description exactly, but when I recently went to order some replacements Amazon had stopped carrying them. WHY WOULD THEY EVER STOP MAKING THESE???

Phillip and I have an ongoing debate about whether it's better to pay for quality items that will last forever (his position) or inexpensive items that won't be upsetting to replace when the kids inevitably break and/or lose them (my position.)

After looking at water bottles online for a long time, I started wondering if maybe I should start investing in the reusable stainless steel kind, where each bottle costs $20-$30. But in the end I went with my gut and bought a cheap 3-pack, which I knew was the right choice two days later when two of them were already missing.


My 16-year-old likes to sew (my theory is that it's hereditary and skipped a generation) and wants a dress form. 

But teen-sized dress forms are hard to find, and the ones that exist aren't great. If you don't have a business where you need an adjustable dress form to make clothes in a variety of sizes, you're better off making your own custom one by wrapping yourself in duct tape, cutting it off, and stuffing it.

Guess who got to help my daughter make one?

It was fun, but after we made it and she was just carrying around a bust of herself it was a little creepy. It looked like something you'd do after you'd gone crazy in solitary confinement and decided to (literally) make a friend.


New this week, I joined a language exchange site on the Internet. The basic idea is that it takes a native speaker of whatever language you're trying to learn (Spanish in my case,) and hooks you up so you can practicar.

I didn't tell Phillip I was signing up for this, so he had no idea about it when he breezed through the room between Zoom meetings, saw me on my phone, and asked "What are you doing?"

"Texting Javier from Colombia," I responded, and Phillip just nodded and kept walking as if he's used to one sort of crazy shenanigans or another in this house.

In general, it seems like most people who claimed to be "learning English" were pretty close to fluent already, so being an actual beginner on one of those sites was terrifying and humiliating. But also strangely fun, and the people I spoke with were so encouraging it actually made me want to keep trying.

I also figured out how to filter by age so I'm not talking to a bunch of 24-year-olds. Nothing against 24-year-olds, but I have more in common with their mothers and I have the language skills of their toddler children, so it's maybe not the best fit. Now I'm off to look for some nice grandmas to talk to, wish me luck!

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Friday, May 6, 2022

7 Covid Takes

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


Well, it finally happened. On Monday, my 13-year-old went to the school nurse not feeling well and tested positive for COVID.

So they called me to pick him up, and by that time I wasn't feeling so hot, either.


Progressively my son got better and was playing Minecraft with his friends by that evening, but I felt worse and worse. 

I was absolutely exhausted and laid in bed for about 20 out of the next 24 hours. I know COVID has some bizarre symptoms but I mainly felt like I'd been trampled by a horse and my organs were all tender. It was like nothing I've ever felt before.

After three or four days, the soreness went away and the congestion, sore throat, and muscle achiness set in.

As it is, I've got about one hour a day where I can be up and productive, and I'm using it to write this Quick Takes so you'd better appreciate it.


Despite that, I kept testing negative all the way up until Thursday. Everyone in our household (except for the 13-year-old) did, actually, despite the fact that they'd been dropping like flies. 

Our trash is 50% COVID tests right now.

We actually made our 13-year-old take one of our tests to see if they were defective or something, but they weren't. It showed up positive for him right away.


So it's kind of a full house this week. Each of the kids have had a day or two of feeling crappy, but there's always a few that feel fine at any given moment. 

Normally I would enjoy having them home, but unfortunately I'm too exhausted to do much besides lay on the couch while they destroy the house around me.

But they have been doing some good and productive things, like covering our driveway with sea creatures in sidewalk chalk in between bouts of rain:


When I have time to kill (or when I'm laid out on the couch for the 15th hour in a row feeling terrible and need something mindless to do, as the case may be) I usually play a game called Drop 7 on my phone. That's pretty much it; I have one game on my phone.

I started playing it while I was on bedrest in the hospital while I was pregnant with my 8-year-old, and it's been there for me ever since. 

Recently, Drop 7 kept freezing on me, so I uninstalled it and when I went to the app store to reinstall it... it was gone. It's no longer in the app store. My teenagers looked it up and told me it's now just for the iPhone. I feel so betrayed. And now I'm in the market for a new game. Any suggestions?


Before the nurse's COVID phone call on Monday, we were unsuspectingly living our normal lives and I should probably mention a few of those things.

There's a yearly fundraiser at our elementary school that's a family event where we all come and buy tickets for the kids to play games and enter raffles, and our littles were really looking forward to it. Especially since they couldn't do it last year due to COVID.

This year, they tried to adapt it to be more COVID-friendly. Instead of holding it in the school they held it outdoors, which would've been fine if it hadn't been freezing outside that day. They didn't have as many games as usual so things could be spaced out, and by the time we got there about 30 minutes before closing, the poor volunteers with icicles hanging off their noses were already breaking down the games and just trying to get the heck out of there.

It was really lame, and my kids were beyond disappointed.


My 17-year-old also went to prom! 

Her shoes and jewelry were saved from the prom that got canceled 2 years ago at the start of the pandemic, and she found the most beautiful dress on Amazon. 

Finding a formal dress with sleeves is a gigantic accomplishment, and this one is elegant but also casual enough to wear other times, too. 

Once I'm a functioning member of society again, I'm going to hem it up so she can wear it to church.

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Friday, April 29, 2022

7 Quick Takes about Spring Break, Political Bumper Stickers, and the Intersection of Mathematics and Poetry

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


We just got back from the best spring break vacation ever. Our family of 8  that's six kids ages 5 through 17  plus my mom spent the week in Miami!

As you can imagine, we fit in perfectly with all the college spring breakers.


Our trip was amazing, but also full of "did that just happen?" moments. It began with a dead rat in the backyard of our VRBO and ended with my son breaking a window on the plane. I can't make these things up, you guys.

The kids were the first ones to discover the dead rat, and luckily my mom is fearless and disposed of it by double-bagging her hand and throwing it in the outside garbage.

Things at the VRBO were fine after this.

It was an isolated incident, but we were all relieved when the friend taking care of our pet rats Scout and Piper at home texted us the next day to let us know they were doing okay.

When we flew home, the landing was not smooth and when the wheels hit the runway with a big lurch, my 13-year-old's elbow smashed into the window.


I'm assuming there's at least one or more heavy-duty panes behind the cracked plexiglass, standing between us and being sucked out into the wild blue yonder. But perhaps I'll feel better if I don't ask too many questions.


Driving around when I got back to New England was a sad and disappointing experience after views out my windshield like this one became a regular thing:

The traffic in Miami was horrendous and the pedestrians had no sense of self-preservation, but the roads were impeccably well-maintained and I couldn't get enough of all the palm trees lining the streets. 


Speaking of driving in Miami, I saw this sticker on the back of a tank truck that vacuums out port-a-potties.

"Caution: This vehicle is full of political promises."

Just think about it for a minute. It'll come to you.


Something else I loved about our trip was being surrounded by so much Spanish. We were staying in Little Havana, so it was everywhere. 

I took Spanish classes all through high school and just the sound of it makes me terribly happy, but unfortunately the saying "if you don't use it you lose it" is true. 

Lately I've been trying to brush up on the Internet, and it's so weird how I can barely construct simple sentences but I can still translate a fair amount. Most of what I learned 20 years ago is still in there, I just can't remember how to access it. Brains are so weird!

I'm already salivating over the idea of a vacation to somewhere Spanish-speaking next year, so please comment below with your favorite language learning or practicing apps and resources; I'm going to need them.


At the end of our last day on the beach, we took a late night flight home to New England. The 48-degree weather that felt a lot colder because it was also windy and drizzly, and when we walked in the door just after 1:30 AM the house was freezing because we'd set the thermostat to 59 degrees while we were gone. 

I immediately put on my warmest and fuzziest sweatshirt which happens to say "I'm So Freaking Cold" on it, and it never felt so appropriate as it did at that moment.


Now we're back into the rhythm of school, and my 16-year-old told me one of her assignments was to "write a haiku about a logarithm."

I asked if she'd recite it to me, and I liked it so much I think I'll reprint it here for your reading pleasure.
Running out of room
Quickly with such a long word.
Logarithms are

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Friday, April 22, 2022

7 Quick Takes about Baby Yoda, What To Do When You See a Crime Scene, and Brave Mannequins at the Mall

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


As I filled up the kids' Easter baskets last Friday night and set them side-by-side (we save Sunday for Jesus and do Easter baskets on Saturday in our house), it occured to me this will be the last time we ever line up all 6 in a row. My oldest is going to college in the fall, and this time next year she'll be away at college.

I didn't get too misty about it, however, because she was out of town for the weekend anyway so we'd already had our last Easter physically all together. Whoops.


Have you ever seen the movie Prince of Egypt. It's an animated musical retelling of the story of Moses and the Israelites, and since we just read it in our study of the Old Testament and it coincides with Passover which is depicted in the movie, watching it over Easter weekend was pretty much a given. 

(It's a great movie but if you've read the actual Biblical account with your kids be prepared to have a discussion with them about what the phrase "artistic liberties" means.)

I was planning to watch the movie for free on Disney+ but the kids searched and said it wasn't available, so they asked me what we should do instead. I said "I think it's on Amazon Prime for, like, three bucks."

"Three bucks?!?" The 5-year-old exclaimed. "I'm not payin' for any of that!"


My mom sent the kids a giant Baby Yoda gummy (with a little frog!) for Easter and it was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.

But very disturbing when your 10-year-old severs its head and slices it into pieces so all the siblings can share.


I follow a scripture study for kids manual with the 5- and 7-year-olds, and the Easter portion was a little heavy. It asked us to read Isaiah 53: 5, then asked the esoteric question, "How do you feel knowing that 'with his stripes we are healed'?"

Well, first we had to talk about what that means because blank stares. But when I rephrased the question and asked, "How do you feel about Jesus getting in trouble for something we did so we don't have to?" I got some insightful answers.

The 7-year-old thoughtfully said, "Sad... but also happy."

The 5-year-old narrowed his eyes and said, "On a scale of 1 to 10: not fair."


I don't often venture into the kids' bathroom, but I did the other day and was instantly sorry.

The drawers were all hanging open, everything they'd ever used to get ready in the morning was scattered all over the counter, and wet towels were strewn around the room. The trash was literally overflowing with bloody tissues, since my 16-year-old has been having daily nosebleeds all week (could be caused by allergies, possibly to taking out the trash.)

I decided I had three options:
  1. Clean it all up myself
  2. Close the door and pretend I never saw anything
  3. Grab some chalk and draw the outline of a body on the floor because it looked like a murder scene in there
I was severely tempted to go with option 3, but knowing that kids tend to one-up their parents instead of taking the hint, I settled for option 2 and hoped for the best.


I flipped over a copy of Reader's Digest the other day and was slapped in the face with this ad:

Apparently comfortable arch support is the main draw of these shoes now.

I know things change a lot, but I remember when Skechers was so cool. In middle school, their ads were in Seventeen magazine as the thing you had to have if you wanted to be remotely cool, good-looking, and popular.

Now they're the footwear equivalent of the granny sweatpants advertised in the Sunday coupon circulars.

Not that I was under any illusion that I understood anything about fashion now. This week I took my teenagers clothes shopping and was having trouble even identifying which articles of clothing in the junior's department I was looking at. Everything is so flowy now, it could be anything: skirt, top, tablecloth, poncho, tarp... who knows. Just don't wear it with Skechers if you want to be cool, apparently.


Also while we were shopping, I saw this bathing suit on a mannequin and the first thing I thought was: with those cutouts in the side and shoulder, it looks like she's been in a shark attack.

When I looked closer, I realized the mannequin was also missing a hand on that side and had probably been in a shark attack FOR REAL, and then I felt really bad for making fun of her.

She's a survivor, not the butt of a joke. 

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Becoming a Part-Time Empty Nester

"So you're a part-time empty nester now!" my friend Bridget joked on my youngest child's first day of kindergarten.

I laughed and told her I was surprised with how uneventful the transition was. When my son climbed on the bus on that first morning, I waved goodbye and skipped back into the house to work on my million mile long to-do list and didn't have any qualms about it. 

Everything seemed strangely fine. I seemed fine.

A few weeks later another friend asked how I was handling having all my babies in school, and when my eyes started leaking in the middle of my answer (weird!) I realized I wasn't as fine as I thought.

It's not that I don't love the morning quiet. Cleaning up the house in the morning and knowing it will stay that way for six hours is nothing short of amazing. And it isn't like my little boy has even left me yet: he still cuddles with me and laughs at my corny jokes after school like he did before. 

But still, I felt a profound loss I couldn't quite name. I finally figured it out weeks later, in line at the grocery store watching an exhausted young mom with a cart full of Gerber puffs playing peek-a-boo with her 9-month-old.

I'd been standing there staring off into space, but not her. She could fill every spare second  in fact, she had to fill every spare second  connecting with the little person who mattered most in the world. 

When you have little ones at your side all the time, you don't have to go looking for moments like that one in line at the grocery store, they find you. They're relentless at finding you. They find you in the middle of the night, they paw at you while you make dinner, they pound on the bathroom door shrieking until you let them in. It's overwhelming, because that's what motherhood is: too much of a good thing.

And for the first time in my career as a mom, I don't have access to those moments 24/7. It was once inconceivable to me that meaningful connection with my kids would require effort and planning. But here we are, squeezing it in between school and their various sports and activities.

When my kids were still little, I thought women who raved about their kids growing older were lying to themselves. They'd say how great it was not to mop up spilled milk at the dinner table and finally decorate the bottom third of the Christmas tree (with breakable ornaments, even!) and I'd think, So what? That's a sad consolation prize.

Now that I'm in their place, doing the same thing, I realize I was only half-right. Given the choice between a solo trip to the bathroom and the unconditional love and affection of a toddler, I'd choose the toddler every time. It's no contest.

But I don't get to make that choice, and it's not a contest anyway. Those older moms were just choosing to find the good in their current stage of life, whatever it was.

If I'm going to thrive in, and maybe even enjoy, my new life as a part-time empty nester, I'm going to need to celebrate the good things about where I am right now.

It doesn't come naturally to me, delighting in a life that isn't filled from sunup to sundown with hugs and kisses from a sticky 3-year-old. The joys, as well as the hard parts, of raising big kids are different.

I'll always remember fondly the years of playing peek-a-boo in line at the grocery store, and my next challenge as a mom is to move from living those days to smiling at the photographs of them as the kids and I plan our next adventure together.

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Friday, April 15, 2022

7 Quick Takes about Being a Pariah, Well-Done Tortillas, and the Real First Day of Spring

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


The 17-year-old's school play was this weekend. It went great, but unfortunately, she'd caught my cold. 

She'd been trying so hard to avoid it, too, wearing a mask around me and refusing to touch anything after I did. (It's very flattering when your teenagers refuse to have anything to do with you including breathing your air.)

But by throwing everything she had at it  prayer, chugging water, breathing steam, drinking honey tea, consuming an entire bag of cough drops during each performance  she somehow made it through her solo and was overall pretty pleased with how the whole thing went.


The other night I was trying to finish up a few things but it meant that the younger kids' bedtime was pushing later and later. At one point I glanced at the clock and reflexively groaned, "It's so late! I need to get you guys in bed, I'm the worst mom!"

I didn't think anyone was listening but the 8-year-old told me, "Well, you're not the wooorst mom."

Which would've been sweet if his inflection hadn't suggested that I might be the second-worst mom, or perhaps the third.


If you'd dropped by our house last Saturday you'd probably have been greeted by these charred tortillas. 

Tried to get a picture when they were actually on fire, but I didn't know where my camera was.

I shouldn't be allowed to use the broiler on the oven. It takes just long enough to get bored standing there, but not long enough to complete a task before they burst into actual flames and you have to run outside and fling them into the puddle in the driveway to put them out.

Embarrassingly enough, I had to go somewhere right after this happened and these testaments to my scatterbrained nature stayed in the driveway for the rest of the day. 

So it's quite possible that someone did come by and get greeted by these tortillas at some point.


The other day, the weather got warm enough that I threw open all the windows and aired out the whole house. I love doing that. It's a ritual that's come to me to mean "Spring is here!"

As I was driving around later that day, I saw the older man who lives on the corner chilling in his lawn chair in the yard like he does for most of the spring/summer, so that's two signs of spring in one week.

I don't care what the vernal equinox says, the first day of spring is when I see those two things happen.


I wanted to go out with my friend Bridget, but figuring out the rides situation for the kids was going to require some juggling. 

It was finally decided that after I dropped my 10-year-old at soccer practice, Bridget would pick me up in her car, leaving my van free for the 17-year-old to drive herself and her siblings to a church youth activity.

But through a series of unfortunate events, I ended up being so late to drop my daughter off that Bridget got there before we even left the house. "Would it be okay if we just dropped her off on the way?" I asked, and we both piled into Bridget's car.

As if I didn't feel like enough of a hot mess, I realized halfway to the soccer field I'd accidentally taken the van keys with me, and we had to go back home to give them to my 17-year-old.

So after 30 minutes of chauffeuring me all over town doing my errands, Bridget was finally able to go out and have a good time with me. I'm telling you, being my friend is a lot of work sometimes.


My teenager has a hard time finding clothes, so she has very few warm weather things to wear. We're going shopping on Monday, but she was worried she wasn't going to be able to find anything.

After talking about the situation, we decided to physically go through her dresser drawers and as usually happens, things aren't as bad as you think. She at least has a few things to wear, so it lessened her stress to know that even if our shopping trip isn't that fruitful, she probably won't be just rotating between two potato sacks all summer.

Later that afternoon, I took my own advice and went to go look at a container in the garage that I assumed was too full to hold what I needed it to. Turns out there was plenty of room inside, and if I'd just gotten up and looked at it first, I wouldn't have wasted time pricing new containers (too expensive) and brainstorming other solutions. 

So my motherly advice to you is, if you're stressed about a situation then take an objective look at it. Odds are, it's not as bad as you think.


My 15-year-old played violin in a spring recital, and I didn't realize until she told me that it was the first time she's performed a solo in public two years because of COVID. 

The cookies afterward were fantastic.

It made me think about seeing if we can get a few families together to perform for the residents at a local nursing home. I was thinking out loud, wondering if that's allowed again with the pandemic and whether we could set something up for the summer.

"I think I'll have the Chaconne ready by then," my 15-year-old said, referring to a beautiful piece she's learning that J.S. Bach wrote as a memorial for his first wife after her death. "But maybe if it's at a nursing home, I won't share the backstory."

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