Friday, May 7, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Fast Food Toys, Flying Cross-Country without Breathing, and a Wedding Worth the Trip

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

1


For our church young women's activity on Tuesday, I volunteered to teach knitting. 

Then I remembered that the last time I picked up a knitting needle was 7 years ago, and I know because my last project was a shawl I made during pregnancy bedrest with my 1st grader.

In a moment of panic, I actually had to Google "how to cast on" because I couldn't remember how to start. Luckily, it's sort of like riding a bike.

I get really stressed about planning activities of any kind (what if no one has fun? what if I don't have enough supplies for everyone? what if everybody needs help at the same time?) but my new mantra seems to be helping.

A few weeks ago at a young men's activity which was supposed to be a game of ultimate frisbee, my son reported that no one brought a frisbee so they had to make do with what they found... so now when I get worried about activity planning I take a deep breath and tell myself, "At least we won't be playing with a bucket lid in a field." (Which is exactly what the boys did that day and everything still turned out fine.)

2


If you have kids you're surely familiar with the lame plastic toys that come with children's fast food meals. 

I can't decide if this video is (1) a spoof or (2) an actual documentary about where they came from: 


This guy usually makes joke videos, but since this seems like exactly what must've gone down in the boardroom at McDonalds' headquarters one day, I don't really know.

3


Well, the hoped-for date of completion for the basement stairs came and went. And although we did make good progress, the stairs still aren't finished.

Then Phillip and I went out of town, leaving Grandma and the kids at home without stairs which they aren't happy about. 

The kids let us know mostly through passive-aggressive vandalism of the sign we put on the basement door for safety before we left.


4


My mom flew out to stay with the kids while Phillip and I are gone. I worked hard for several days before she got here, fine tuning our schedule and drawing up a Master List of All the Activities with All the Pertinent Addresses and Contact Information that she could possibly need during her stay with them.

I was so frazzled over it that when it was time to pick her up from the airport I did my math wrong and arrived an hour early.

It was too far away to go back home and too rainy to take a walk, so my 4-year-old and I hung out in the car playing with the map and two random Beanie Babies we found in the backseat for 60 minutes.

Good times.

5


Phillip and I left town for his sister's wedding in Utah. It was the first time we've flown anywhere since we went to Florida pre-pandemic, and about an hour into the first leg of our flight I'd solemnly sworn never to leave my house again.

We wanted to be extra-cautious not to bring Coronavirus back home with us, so we wore N-95 masks all day. I was dehydrated and honestly thought I was going to pass right out about halfway through, but I gave myself the old "if you've had six babies then you can certainly do this" pep talk and somehow made it.

Barely.

On arrival in Salt Lake City, with mask lines on my face and hair as crazy as I felt inside.

The one time I would've actually welcomed a long layover (to find a spot to remove my mask and breathe between flights), we had exactly 14 minutes to run from one gate to the other as they were already boarding.

6


Our consolation prize is the hotel we're staying at, which is new and really nice. 

I think the funniest part is that our room comes with $15 worth of snacks daily, so every evening we walk down to the front desk and pick out our drinks and candy like 14-year-olds whose moms dropped them off at the movie theater with twenty bucks.

7


Phillip's sister's reception venue was amazing. It was in this beautiful indoor garden venue with vines criss-crossing the ceiling and lights everywhere. 

Wow.

Phillip, who works in research and development for building materials, was most impressed by the swamp cooling system in the back, but we'll agree to disagree on that one.

Managing to show up looking slightly better than after the plane ride.

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Friday, April 30, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Adventures in Salem, Fun Uses for Domestic Oil Spills, and Watching Deodorant Commercials for Fun

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

1


At the tail end of my mom's visit with us, we decided to visit Salem, Massachusetts. Phillip has never been very excited when I bring up the idea of going there, so I figured that while the kids were home for spring break and my mom was here it was the perfect time.

Our first stop was the Salem Witch Museum, which dramatized the story of the 1692 Salem witch trials  with a voiceover and slightly creepy vignettes with life-size wax figures. 

The narrative was a little graphic and I'm sure people were totally giving us the side-eye for bringing a 4-year-old in there, but you know, that's just what happens when you've got 6 kids. (If you're concerned, don't lose sleep over it because the content went 100% over his head and the only thing he recognized was the Harry Potter wands in the gift shop.)

2


After the Witch Museum, we had lunch at a park, saw the sights, and ended up at a candy store where Grandma bought the kids lollipops bigger than their heads.

When I went to help my 7-year-old unwrap his, I noticed on the label that this thing contained TWENTY SERVINGS.

Ingredients: Diabetes, yellow #5. 

As we walked past a marina, my 9-year-old spied a good place to sit down for a moment and look at the water. I thought this was the funniest picture:


Who puts a 'No loitering' sign in front of a bench? Isn't that the express purpose of a bench? I am so confused. 

We walked on and then we saw this ship: 


"Oh, no!" My 15-year-old groaned. "It's a bad pun and it's in Comic Sans!!!" (It physically pains my older two girls to see Comic Sans, and yet they see it everywhere we go. I had no idea there was so much Comic Sans in the world until they began pointing it out to me every single time.)

3


I started reading this relationships book called For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men

While I was walking around with it, my 9-year-old daughter took one look at the cover and said "I need to read that book, because I don't understand boys at all." 

She told me about some game they were playing at school and the boys were being all crazy, and she wanted to know why that was fun for them. I just looked at her blankly and said, "I don't know, go ask your dad."

So I'm learning a lot from the book, apparently.

4


I've been a mom for 16 years now, but the cool thing about motherhood is that there's always something new about kids to learn.

For example, this week I learned that if your van leaks oil on the floor of the garage, it won't occur to them to come and tell you about it. Instead, they'll just have a grand old time riding their bikes through it and let you discover it on your own later on.

At least they made a pretty starburst pattern out of it.

5


I got the first dose of my COVID-19 vaccine. It's been a long time since the I was last vaccinated for anything (which means I'm probably overdue for a tetanus booster) and I have to say, it kind of hurt! 

I guess I'm used to blood draws, where you feel the prick of the needle and then nothing. But when you get a vaccine it feels heavy going in, sort of like they're slowly injecting lead into you, and it was then that I thought "Ohhhhh... so this is why kids cry when they do this!"

6


In other news, Phillip demolished the basement stairs. He finished framing and now he's on to the staircase, which needs to be completely redesigned and replaced. 

While we temporarily have an 8-foot drop instead of stairs at the basement door, we're using a high-tech system to keep everyone safe: pushing the couch in front of the basement door for the little kids, and putting a sign that says DO NOT ENTER - STAIRS OUT OF ORDER for the big kids who can move the couch.

There's been discussion among the kids about lobbying Phillip to install a fireman's pole instead, but he's already started work on a new staircase that hopefully will be fully operational by Saturday. 

Until then, every time we need to get something out of the basement we have to literally leave the house, go around the backyard, and through the walk-out basement door. It's like we have a second house now.

7


I've never done this before, but YouTube showed me a deodorant ad that was so funny I specifically searched it up and showed it to my teenager later. (Mostly because it features one of the original Studio C cast members, whose videos she loved when she was younger. )

To my disappointment, she was kind of neutral on the ad and described it as "equal parts funny and awkward." Which is interesting because that basically sums up everything I find amusing in life.


What do you think?

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Friday, April 23, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Cheap Thrills, Secret Pants, and Aggressively De-Junking the House

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

1


This week the kids are on spring break and my mom is here!

The other evening everybody was hanging out in the living room, and my mom burst out laughing when she looked at Phillip and I. "Boy, are you guys an old married couple!" she said, and took a picture.

At least we're sitting on the same couch.

You know it's bad when even your mom is roasting you.

2


It's been ridiculously cold here, but on the decent days we've been trying to have fun outside. 

First we went on a pretty hike but the highlight for my kids seemed to be the snake they found on a log:


And then we went to a field where they had the time of their lives playing with a dollar store boomerang:


On the way home we passed a really thick vine hanging from a tree branch and of course, they spent a half hour taking turns swinging from it like Tarzan.

Like they say, the best things in life are free.

3


My 15-year-old had a craving for oatmeal cookies at 8 PM, which I learned when she presented me with a list of the pros and cons of potentially making a batch of them.


The cons included "it's kinda late" and "sugar," and the pros included "doing stuff with family" (her grandma is here so I'll let her have that one) and also: "sugar."

She made the cookies.

4


I took my oldest two girls clothes shopping because they desperately need shorts for the upcoming summer. 

At the first place we visited, I noticed this sign advertising "secretly slender capris:" 

Hmmm.

Exactly what is a "secretly" slender capri? Like, you look fat in them but you're just fooling everyone because you're actually thin underneath? I'm not following.

Then at the next store, I noticed this label on some pants: 


I want to know what's the deal with everything being "secret" nowadays. Can't pants just have regular features? Not everything has to be a surprise, you know.

5


I've been continuing with my whole house declutter. I'm talking, like, majorly decluttering. I'm getting rid of entire pieces of furniture and everything in them. 

For example, we have this dresser that we repurposed as a cabinet for all of our kids' craft supplies. It was popular for a time, but when I honestly assess it now, the cabinet is mostly just taking up space in our already small dining room. 

So I filled a 12" x 12" container from the dollar store with things from it that the kids actually use and then took the entire cabinet to the end of the driveway with a 'free' sign. It's beaten up and could definitely use a new coat of paint, but I hope someone takes it.

(Phillip says not a chance, but I believe in miracles. A few years ago I did the same thing with a hand-me-down play kitchen the kids had completely trashed over many, many years of use, and someone took it. So I think anything can happen at the top of the driveway, I really do.)

6

Looking at the growing pile of donations in the corner of our bedroom, I'm actually pretty shocked. I think we have less stuff than the average family, but I just had no idea how much was actually in our house. Phillip came home from work yesterday, took one look around and asked, "Are we moving?"

He was joking. Sort of. But it kind of does look like we're staging the house. 

I'm just getting rid of so much clutter, including decorative stuff like things hanging on every wall and furniture lining the whole perimeter of every room.

I credit Dawn from The Minimal Mom for starting me down this road, and I really can't recommend her enough. I'm only about a fifth of the way through the house and I'm already thrilled with how much better we all feel already.

7


On a completely unrelated note, I think you'll probably enjoy this little news clip from The Onion.

In fact, I know you will.


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Friday, April 16, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Clean Kitchens, Pee-Wee Soccer, and the Place to Go to Buy Free Stuff

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

1


Early in the morning, my preschooler woke me up by standing at the bedside whispering "Can I have breakfast?"

Still half-asleep, I pulled aside the blanket and said, "Let's cuddle first. Cuddling is my favorite."

Unmoved, he answered, "I think eating is my favorite so I don't die."

Wow, this kid really knows how to give a hint.

2


Since my minimalism rampage last week, I've been enjoying my super-clean kitchen. I'm actually not sure why it's staying so clean.

It could be because of all the stuff I got rid of that we didn't need.

Headed for the donation center.

It could be because four of the six kids are back at school instead of in the kitchen spilling jelly and leaving cabinet doors open 24/7.

It could be because I feel more motivated to keep on top of the dishes when they're not already buried underneath a huge mess. 

It could be that the rest of the family is scared of the crazed look in my eye and knows I mean business about putting their dishes in the dishwasher this time.

I don't really care. All I know is that I was able to turn around and snap this picture with no prep work or tidying up beforehand. IT JUST LOOKS LIKE THIS NOW.

Forget the open drawer on the right. For us, this is amazing.

The kids are home for spring break starting tomorrow, so it's quite possible the kitchen will be a landfill again in 12 hours. Only time will tell.

3


The 4-year-old started pee-wee soccer on Saturday and it's everything I hoped it would be.

Kids stopping to arrange the ball with their hands to get it positioned right for kicking? Check.

Kids stomping off the field in tears yelling "I never get it!" in the middle of the game? Check.

And don't forget The Clump:

Pee-wee soccer: standing in a circle kicking each other since forever.

This is the 4-year-old's first time playing soccer, and he loves it. He keeps running off the field to give me updates on how the game is going.

His one problem is that in this age group, they don't have goalies. My 4-year-old keeps looking incredulously from the unguarded goal to his coaches like, "Seriously?? No one else sees a problem with this?? This is a HUGE liability for the team!" 

Sometimes he just goes over and stands in the goal until the coach tells him to get out because... well, someone's got to. 

4


My 6-year-old drew a sidewalk chalk city on our driveway and I was admiring his work. 

He drew and labeled a gas station, a grocery store, a police station, and all other kinds of buildings you'd need in a city. Including this store:

I love shopping at the "free things" store.

5


I've noticed that our yard is beginning to show a literal trail where the kids run and ride their bikes around and around the house. 

At first Phillip thought it was going to make me grumpy because I like things to look nice, but it actually makes me happy because it means the yard is being used. I love that the kids are outside, running around so much they're wearing paths in the grass.

I'm all too aware of how fast 10 years go by, and that's about how long we've got left before the bikes stop going around the yard and the grass starts to fill in again. For now, it makes me happy.

6


I mentioned most of the kids are back in school full-time. Phillip has also been going back in to work every day this week, so it's been really weird after a year of having a full house.

This week they had a half-day and were all home for lunch, just like old times! On that day, the weather was beautiful so we had a picnic. It felt pretty amazing enjoying the sunshine and a special treat (strawberries, which I rarely buy because they're gone in two seconds and the kids just fight over who ate more) and playing the yard afterward.

At dinner that night, I asked the kids to tell Phillip about our awesome picnic and my 12-year-old, in characteristic 12-year-old fashion, replied flatly: "We ate sandwiches outside."

Sounds like he's having a very magical childhood so far.

7


And then, it inexplicably got cold here and as I type this it's snowing outside.


Which is perfect, because we're supposed to be throwing an outdoor birthday party tomorrow. So.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Really, Really Domesticated Animals, Cackling Over Hand Towels, and Almost Catching Spiderman on Camera

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

1


When my 4-year-old wandered into the room, I made the mistake of saying hello. He looked annoyed and said, "I was counting to 1,000 and you just messed me up."

"Oh, sorry," I apologized.

"I'll just start over and 100," he sighed, and went back out.

I heard him playing with some toys in the other room for a few moments, then there was a pause and he reappeared in the doorway. "Actually, I'm going to start at 150."

I nodded seriously and said "Okay, sounds good," and out he went again.

I didn't think it was a good time to remind him that he doesn't know any  of the numbers he'd been talking about for our entire conversation.

2


This weekend was pretty crazy. In 48 hours, our family observed Easter, watched general conference, and celebrated a family birthday. 

Frankly, it was too much. Each of those events included 756 tiny things for me to buy, make, or do ahead of time, and I crashed. 

Instead of cooking the special birthday dinner I'd planned for Saturday, I fell asleep and Phillip ordered pizza. We ran out of time to dye Easter eggs, not that we could have done it anyway because I'd remembered dye but forgotten to buy eggs.

Oh, well. I tried.

3


After all those special events and their attendant treats, we're all roving wild-eyed through the house with no idea what to do with ourselves now that it's all gone. 

Not only was there Easter candy and birthday cheesecake, but alllll the General Conference Snacks.

The best part of this was learning that my 7-year-old thinks Sour Patch Kids are called "Sour Pouch Kids."

General Conference Snacks is an Evans family tradition. Before this biannual religious broadcast, we print out pictures of the church leaders who will be speaking and tape them to different snack foods. When someone speaks, the kids get to eat the snack their picture is on. 

Elder Christofferson is speaking, who I believe was chocolate-covered almonds this year.

My absolute favorite talk of conference was this one given by Russell M. Nelson, who is the prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

If you have 15 minutes waiting in the school pick-up line or for a bus or something, listening to this would be an excellent use of that time:


4


The 12-year-old taught our pet rat Scout to eat vegetables in his arms lying on her back like a baby.

This is even cuter in person.

It's stinking adorable, but sometimes I just watch her doing it and say, "Look at you! You're a disgrace to your wild ancestors!"


She doesn't really seem to mind as long as we keep the fresh veggies coming.

5


Someone called The Minimal Mom showed up in my YouTube feed one day, and aside from the fact that I pegged her Minnesota accent exactly 10 seconds into this video (can you hear it if you're not from there??) I really loved her perspective on minimalism.


I didn't agree with everything in this video, but it inspired me to rid my kitchen of a bunch of stuff I've owned since George W. Bush was president and never used. And it gave me permission to pare down the 20 coffee mugs crammed into the cupboard.

HELLO WE DON'T EVEN DRINK COFFEE.

6


As I was looking around the kitchen trying to decide what to tackle next, my eyes settled on the hand towels hanging on the oven handle. 

And by that I mean the hand towels lying in a crumpled heap on the floor in front of the oven, because that's where they always are. 

They're always slipping off, which drives us all crazy. My kids have tried to get around the problem by simply grabbing a new towel out of the drawer every time they need to dry their hands. When they're done they shove the wet towel back in the drawer, because kids apparently love drawers full of damp, smelly towels.

After a little Internet sleuthing, I did two things:
  1. Followed this amazing DIY hand towel hack to secure the towels to the oven handle so they'll never fall off again, and
  2. Hide everything inside the drawer so the kids will have no choice but to use the designated towels in Step 1.
All day, I was cackling like Tom Hanks in The Money Pit every time I saw the kids open the drawer to grab a new towel and it was EMPTY. They just stood there, slack-jawed and confused, until they reluctantly went over to the oven and used the hand towels. 

If all goes well, I'll be able to put the drawer towels back in a week once they're properly trained. 

7


My 9th grader needed to take
some perspective shots for her photography class, so she enlisted her her 4-year-old brother to help. 

She dressed him up in a Spiderman costume and had him crouch on the ground, then arranged some other things in the picture so she could rotate the photo 90 degrees and make it look like he was climbing on the wall.

After they were done, he went inside and started playing with a Minion stuffed animal on the couch, and it was so cute. I tried to sneak in and take a picture, but apparently he heard me coming and these were the two shots I got:


Behind the sofa is an excellent place to hide from the paparazzi.

I guess superheroes can only stand being photographed so many times in one day.

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Friday, April 2, 2021

7 Quick Takes about How Androids Do Leisure Activities, the Great Backpack Cleanout, and Things I'm Looking Forward to About This Easter

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

1


There are many suboptimal things about Zoom church, but one thing that's kind of cool is how you can join in from anywhere, even if you live nowhere nearby. 

When my kids have played musical numbers or when I gave a talk in church, my out-of-state parents have loved being able to watch. And conversely, we can do something similar.

On Sunday, I learned through the grapevine that Brandon Flowers from The Killers was doing a devotional in his home congregation in Utah and, thanks to a Zoom link courtesy of my daughter's seminary teacher's cousin who lives there, we were able to "be there," too (because I really like The Killers.) How cool is that?

2


I've been with Phillip for 23 years, and I've never seen him do a puzzle. Well, maybe once. But I can't recall if he actually participated in putting it together or he just hovered nearby while the rest of us did it.

So I was pretty surprised when he sat down and joined us working on the 1,000-piece monster I brought home from the library exchange last week. 

It turns out that Phillip's approach to doing puzzles would best be described as "computer algorithm." 

I was so fascinated watching him fill in the puzzle from left to right, organizing the loose pieces in rows according to shape so he could quickly eliminate the rows that wouldn't fit.

Was it efficient? Yes? Did it look enjoyable? Not really.

"Are you having fun?" I kept asking skeptically. "It just doesn't really look like you're having fun."

"Well, how do you do puzzles?" he finally asked me.

I shrugged. "I don't know, I look for one about the right color and try it if it looks like it might fit."

After a few moments of silence Phillip said, "That sounds horrible."

On a related note, when I was a kid watching Star Trek with my dad, I had a crush on Data. I'm not sure if that's relevant here but I have a feeling that it is.

3


My kids went back to full-time, in-person school this week. Up until now they've been doing hybrid (two days at school, three days at home) so they had quite a few materials to bring in that they've been keeping at home or carrying back and forth with them.

Last weekend I asked everyone to clean out their backpacks and get them ready, but the 9-year-old told me "there's not really anything in there."

Girl, please. I've been hearing lies like that longer than you've been alive. You can't fool me.

This is what "not really anything" looks like.

4


The kids are starting spring soccer soon, so this week's project was to inventory their soccer gear and order anything they don't have. 

My 4-year-old is going to be playing soccer for the first time, so finding him some shin guards was my first task. I know from the review that the ones I ordered will be perfect because this is exactly how pee-wee soccer works:


Next, I bought some more water bottles because my kids keep losing/breaking theirs, and found a kindred mom of 4 in the reviews with the same problem. She planned on buying a second round of water bottles, but wisely noted this at the end so I knew she was a seasoned parent who could be trusted:


5


I'm really looking forward to this weekend, because it's general conference! Twice a year, the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do a worldwide broadcast where they share inspiring messages that help me be a better mom, friend, and Christian.

Want to watch with me? You don't have to be a member of my church or any church, and you don't even have to put on real pants because it's all online. 

This special invitation from the president and prophet of the church gives you a preview of what you can expect, and it explains why I love it when general conference coincides with Easter:


A list of viewing times and ways you can watch general conference are here if you're interested. I hope you join in!

6


Because we'll all be watching general conference instead of regular church this weekend, my local congregation had its Easter-themed service last Sunday.

During the service I was leaned over, whispering explanations into the 4-year-old's ear to help him understand what we were talking about.

"But why did He have to die for us?" he asked.

In a whisper, I tried to explain that Heaven is a special place where there's no sin allowed. Heavenly Father really wants us to live there with Him, but it's impossible because we all have sins and make mistakes! So Heavenly Father sent Jesus to suffer and die for us, and take away our mistakes  then we can be resurrected and go live with Him and God again after we die.

That must have been kind of heavy for a 4-year-old to absorb, because he just sighed and said loudly, "Okay, but that still doesn't give me a clue."

7


Having finished the puzzle from Take #2 with the kids, I decided to pick up another one from the puzzle exchange table at the library. 

Being Easter this weekend, I thought The Last Supper would be appropriate.

Another 1,000 piecer. Somebody help me.

The kids are off school today for Good Friday and it's going to be kind of chilly, so this will be a good thing to do indoors all day. 

Happy Easter!

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Alphabetical Advice for Surviving the Teen Years

It's alarming when your child wakes up one morning 6 inches taller, capable of eating his/her own body weight in cereal and speaking a new language composed mainly of monosyllabic grunts. But don't worry, this condition is known as 'adolescence' and is completely temporary. 

You've cruised through many ages and stages before, but this one... well, take these ABCs of parenting teenagers, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. 

As much as you can, anyway, while you're sitting in the passenger seat stomping on an imaginary brake pedal. (Unfortunately, that image is both literal and metaphorical.)


A is for Asking. Giving orders is the adolescent equivalent of waving a red flag at a bull, so instead of saying "Go do your homework" you should play dumb and ask "So what's your plan for finishing your history project?" Even though it's 10:55 PM the night before it's due and there's clearly zero plan.

B is for Be available. But not, like, too available. Provide structure and direction, but also allow your teenager to experience failure at the same time. It's hard to say whether your teenager needs you to step back or step in at any given moment, but at least you can be reasonably sure you're doing it wrong.

C is for Cry. For goodness' sake, your baby is going to be leaving you in just a few years and IF I EVER AGAIN HEAR THAT SAD SONG FROM TOY STORY 2 IT WILL BE TOO SOON.

D is for Date nights. Say, do you remember that person you made your teenager with? You're about to be spending a lot more time alone together so this is probably a good time to check in and see how they've been doing for the last 10-15 years. 

E is for Eyerolls. Fifteen-year-old me had no idea that every time I rolled my eyes at my mother, she was dislocating her sockets right back at me after I turned around.


F is for Food. Teenagers love food. A great way to build goodwill with your teen is to show up, give them food for no reason, and back away without saying anything. Try to avoid doing anything embarrassing on the way out.

G is for God. You'll need to pray a lot at this time in your life. Trust me.

H is for Humor. If you have to remind/threaten/cajole teens to do something, do it with humor (i.e: "Come quick! It looks like there's been a struggle in the mudroom! Someone broke in and threw your shoes and school stuff all over the place!") If you do it right, they'll clean up while thinking you're a dork instead of a nag.

I is for Insurance premiums going up. And you thought driver's ed was expensive. You had no idea.

J is for Job. Not only is it good for teenagers to learn to earn, save, and manage their own money, it's also good for them to have an adult who isn't you telling them what to do for once. Seriously, let their manager at Burger King teach the life lessons and absorb the eyerolls for a few hours a week. It takes a village.

K is for Knock before entering their room.

L is for Lower your expectations. Your child doesn't have to be running a Fortune 500 company by age 35. In fact, if they're not in jail or still living at home when they're 35, you should be thrilled. It means you did a good job.

M is for Magnitude. Teenagers can be (and often are) delightful, but their problems are of a completely different order of magnitude from when they were little. You'll feel crushing self-doubt you never knew existed, and that's saying something because you were once in a new mom group on Facebook.

From 4BoysMother Melissa Fenton.

N is for Noticing the good stuff. It might not seem like it, but your teen needs positive reinforcement now just as much as they did when they were potty-training. Give lots of compliments, but always make your praise specific and sincere ("Your essay thesis was really insightful" vs. "You're so smart!") Even if you can't think of anything, at least they're not still peeing on the couch.

O is for Opinions. Teenagers love being sought out for their opinion on anything from current events to what shoes you should wear with your outfit. Ask what they think about a topic, any topic. It's even okay to disagree, as long as you're as polite about it as you would be to a friend with different views than you.

P is for Perfection. Don't expect it. Teenagers will fool you into thinking they're almost adults with their giant shoes and driver's licenses and mature stances on foreign policy, but it's a lie. They'll get the entire house sopping wet giving the dog a bath like they were 6 years old.

Q is for Quiet. When your gut reaction is to freak out, err on the side of silence. Toddlers and pets need immediate correction for bad behavior, but teenagers will be okay if a few hours or days go by while you think about how to respond.

R is for Respect. Talk to your teen like an adult you'd meet in polite society, and expect them to do the same for you. That means you can't scream "When are you going to get your #%$^ together?!" and if they criticize you in a mean way you should absolutely say "I don't like to be talked to like that" and leave. It goes both ways.

S is for Screaming into a pillow from time to time. Some things are best left unsaid, or at least muffled behind a closed door.

T is for Try not to take it personally when they come home from school grumpy, ask you for help and then get mad at you for trying to help, then turn around and come alive with a million-watt smile for their friends. Although it feels pretty personal when someone you love more than life itself is twisting a dagger in your heart, it's weirdly not.


U is for Unconditional love. Don't forget to enjoy spending time with the marvelous person that towers over you but still calls you "Mom." Your teenager is pretty awesome  not because of their accomplishments or talents, but just because they're yours.

V is for Very scary. I once read it's actually a good thing if your teenager tells you scary things. I used to think that only meant confessing terrible misdeeds, but now I know it can mean anything from being honest about things kids their age are doing to confiding in you about a mental health issue you never saw coming. Hard to see that as a positive when what you really want to do is peel yourself out of your skin and run away, but you can try.

W is for Well, it's their life. Repeat that over and over to yourself: Well, it's their life. With a few important exceptions, you shouldn't be more invested in any given aspect of your teenager's life than s/he is.

X is for the Xtremes you'll go through. You can be actually sobbing with pride over some amazing accomplishment of your child, and not even 5 minutes later they'll do something so dumb you can only shake your head and think, "They're never going to make it."

Y is for yelling. Yelling, like name-calling, is a good idea precisely never. (See 'R.')

Z is for Zillions. When the time finally comes for your teen to move out of the house, you'll realize with horror the zillions of things you're not sure you taught them. Do they know how to register to vote? Will they remember not to wash their red clothes with their whites? Have they got enough confidence to stand up for themselves when they need to? You'll panic over all these things and more, but luckily you've had a lot of practice biting your tongue over the last several years. Even if your child didn't have Google for all that, and even if you weren't permanently available on a consulting basis, things would still turn out okay. Hug your grown child tight and relax: you raised a young adult who's capable enough to figure it out. 

Probably.

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