Friday, December 6, 2019

7 Quick Takes about Snow Days, Something to Think about Next Time You See the Nutcracker, and Alternatives to Getting Dentures

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


Congratulations to Amanda, the winner of the Stella Nova game giveaway!

In case you missed it, Stella Nova is a fun family board game focused on the birth of Christ and it's perfect for playing during the month of December. You can see my family's review or go to the Stella Nova website to learn more.

If you're not Amanda and didn't win a free copy of Stella Nova, all is not lost! You can use the button below to get 20% off Stella Nova (regular price $39.95) in plenty of time for Christmas.


We got a foot and a half of snow earlier this week, totaling two school cancellations on Monday and Tuesday. This was directly after they'd already had several days off for Thanksgiving, so we were living it up.

The kids were joking about how we'd had Saturday about 5 days in a row, and we had no idea what day it actually was or where we were supposed to be. We mostly just sat around playing and watching Christmas movies in our jammies. It was pretty awesome.


As is our Christmas tradition, I took the kids to see The Nutcracker.

Just before the ushers came down the aisles with gigantic protester-style signs with a 'no pictures' sign that I really wanted to take a picture of but didn't.

It was my 5-year-old's first time. He was so intently focused, way more than certain 8-year-olds who were melting out of their seats with boredom by the end (to be fair, I've always felt like the second act dragged a little.)

He looked confused when the Nutcracker removed the bulky mask over his head, so I leaned over and whispered, "Look at the Nutcracker! He's a prince now!"

The 8-year-old heard us, looked the dancer up and down with a grimace, and added: "And I can see his buttcrack."

Those white tights just don't leave much to the imagination, I guess. (And dang it if I'm not going to think "The Buttcracker" every single time I see the ballet now.)


The 3-year-old is suddenly calling everyone "stupid" when he's mad. (That's actually a step up because he used to hit everybody instead. Baby steps, people.)

Phillip put the kids to bed when I was at church youth activities this week, and he said the 3-year-old was not happy about it. Their conversation went like this:

"I want Mommy."

"Sorry, Bud. She's not here."

"I want Mommy."

"She's not here."

"I want Mommy."

"She's not here."

He paused to consider this, then said, "I want Mommy."

Not knowing what else to do, Phillip put him down and said, "Fine. Go find Mommy."

With all his 3-year-old bravado falling away, he wailed "She's not here!" and collapsed, grief-stricken, into Phillip's lap. "You're stupid!"

I laughed and told Phillip not to feel bad. That very morning the 3-year-old called me stupid for not making him waffles from scratch for second breakfast.


I need some input or advice here. Backstory: I grind my teeth in my sleep (I clench them, actually) and need a mouthguard so I don't wake up with headaches.

I had a legit one made for me by a dentist a long time ago that I really liked, but a few years ago it got stepped on and broke in half.

I just about choked on my own tongue when my current dentist said a new one would cost $776, of which $0 was covered by insurance.

So I explored other options.

I bought a cheap over-the-counter boil-and-bite mouthguard, which was okay at first but it was so big and bulky that after a while it started to feel like I was sleeping with a tire in my mouth.

I did a more expensive ($100) Internet thing where they mail you a kit, you make a mold of your teeth and send it back, and they mail you a mouthguard made of flexible, soft plastic. It only lasted a year before I wore it out.

So then I tried another over-the-counter brand made of hard plastic, but I can't get the fit right.

I even considered just paying for the expensive dentist-made guard, but mine says he only makes soft guards which are the ones that wear out and need to be replaced every year or so, so that's out.

I'm about to give up and just get dentures. Any other suggestions?


Over the long (long, long) weekend, the kids and I watched The Muppet Christmas Carol, and even though we watch it every few years, I forget every time how much I like it.

When my 8-year-old asked what 'humbug' meant, my 13-year-old told her, "It means 'whatever.'"

I love how she can translate 1800s Dickensian English into modern-day talk.


Speaking of Christmas movies, I'm in the market for good suggestions. I want to watch at least a few more good ones this month, but in a family of 8 everyone's got opinions and someone's always vetoing every choice.

We tried A Christmas Story and the kids thought it was boring.

It's a Wonderful Life puts me in a stupor of existential despair.

I love Elf but the kids refuse to watch it, claiming that his social awkwardness brings them physical pain.

The Jim Carrey Grinch movie is weirdly sexual. I don't get it.

Home Alone was the biggest failure of all: the kids were begging with actual tears in their eyes to turn it off, which I guess is understandable because most of the "funny" parts are things that would actually kill someone in real life.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. What are your favorites?

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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Motivational Posters for Toddlers

The next time you walk into the office of a high-achieving professional or maybe a school principal, take a look at the walls. 

You're likely to see at least one motivational poster, the kind with an inspiring nature photo on a black background to illustrate a concept like "teamwork" or "success."

But what if you're not a corporate shark? What if you're, say, a toddler?

If toddlers had offices, these are the motivational posters they'd hang in them.

A toddler's motivational poster would encourage problem-solving:

And dressing for success:

And maintaining a curious mind:

Truly successful toddlers know how to play their target demographic:

And aren't afraid to be assertive:

And they know how to seize the moment when it really counts:

With a little determination, toddlers can reach the stars (or at least the scissors on the counter:)

Even if they are sometimes hard to work with:

And they don't always have it together:

But even so, we parents enjoy having our toddlers as co-workers (or is it 'bosses?') just the way they are.

Feel free to email me for high-resolution images of these motivational posters for toddlers: it just occurred to me that they'd make lovely nursery decor to inspire your baby.

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Friday, November 29, 2019

7 Quick Takes about Reasons to Get Excited, Someone Other Than Me Changing a Toilet Paper Roll, and a Thanksgiving to Remember

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


Amazing news! Phillip and I are taking a spur-of-the-moment trip and I'm so excited about it. The night we bought the tickets I was like a kid on Christmas Eve. I couldn't even sleep.

In December, he's going to a conference for work in Florida and asked if I wanted to tag along. At first I was like, "Oh, I don't think so. We'd have to find someone to stay with the kids and reschedule some appointments and it's so much prep work for a short trip I'm not even sure it would be worth it..."

A few days later the weather got cold, and I was like HECK YES I AM GOING TO FLORIDA.

Even better than the 72-degree weather forecast is the fact that Phillip's ticket and the fancy resort is already paid for by his work, and we used airline miles to buy my plane ticket so our total out-of-pocket cost was $11.50.

We'll be paying someone to stay with the kids for 3 days which will be pricey, but even so, the cheapskate within me is jumping for joy.


While we're gone, a friend's young adult daughter and her husband are going to stay here with the kids, drive everyone to their activities, and make sure everyone stays fed and alive.

I'm only slightly worried that spending 3 days immersed the chaos of our daily life will make them never want to have kids.

When I mentioned my concern to Phillip, he shrugged and said "They'll be fine, they just have to take care of the kids. They don't have to register for soccer."

That's true. Outlining the realities of soccer season would do WAY more to deter teen pregnancy than that high school project where you have to carry around a baby doll for a week, no contest.


Sometimes I feel like I'm running a little too behind on everything, but every now and then I'll be too far ahead, and that messes things up, too.

A while ago, I applied online for a credit card. I hadn't received the cards in the mail yet, but I'd been getting emails with titles like "Don't forget to activate your card!" and "Activate! Shop! Earn 2% cash back!" and "Have you activated your card yet?"

After several weeks of the emails I called customer service to tell them I'd never received the card, figuring it had probably gotten thrown out with the junk mail by mistake. So they cancelled the account and sent out a new card with a different number.

The original card arrived in the mail the next day. Of course it'd been cancelled, so that did me no good.


Our family was talking to the bishop at our end-of-year tithing settlement at church, and when my 8-year-old mentioned buying a bunch of sweets with her birthday money, the conversation turned to candy.

She went on an on about how she loved candy, so the bishop asked, "If a carnivore eats only meat and a vegetarian eats only plants, what is someone called who only eats candy?"

"Diabetic," my 13-year-old piped up.

It's not like she's wrong.


This week's Twilight Zone moment is brought to you by my 3-year-old:

When my 5-year-old called from the bathroom that we were out of toilet paper, I asked the 3-year-old to bring him some, which he did.

A few minutes later I went up to the bathroom to make sure everything was okay, and was really puzzled to see the new roll of toilet paper installed on the holder.

"How did that get there?" I asked my 3-year-old.

"I brought it here."

"But who put it on the holder?"

"I did."

I just stood there, thinking about the Berenstain Bear book where Brother and Sister Bear broke a vase and concocted an elaborate lie blaming it on a colorful bird that flew in through the window, and wondering if something similar was going on here.

Honestly, I think I'd have been quicker to accept a story about a colorful bird coming in and changing the TP roll, but whatever happened, I suppose I should just be thankful that it did.


Speaking of thankful, we still haven't put away all our Halloween decorations and may have pumpkins frozen to our front porch, but our Thanksgiving was still fantastic.

Not having family nearby, we've done our own Thanksgiving dinners for 10 years and let me tell you, cooking an entire Thanksgiving dinner from scratch is quite an ordeal. But now that the older kids are getting old enough to be really helpful (both with the cooking and the cleanup,) it was really enjoyable.

We usually go around the table and say what we're thankful for. I wanted to start with the youngest so he wouldn't just repeat whatever the other kids said, so I asked my 3-year-old "What are you thankful for?" As expected, I got a blank stare so I rephrased the question: "What makes you happy?"

He thought for a minute and answered, "If I go up to Jesus, he'll be happy."

My 11-year-old, on the other hand, is thankful for mashed potatoes. So we had it all at our table, folks.


After dinner, we got a fire going in our pellet stove and, since the couch cushions spend more time on the floor than they do on the couch, we just arranged them in front of the fire and took a nap.

It started out just Phillip and I, but then the younger three kids all zoomed in like heat-seeking missiles.

There wasn't much sleeping going on after that, but I enjoyed cuddling with my little people by the fire more, anyway.

Enjoy some Friday laughs with this week's 7 Quick Takes! The 8-person Unremarkable Files family usually has at least some chaos you can relate to (but hopefully not all of it!) #7qt #7quicktakes #unremarkablefiles #lifewithkids #real #relatable #funny
Picture taken by Phillip.

After this, I got up and ate homemade pie that I didn't even have to make myself, so it was pretty much the best day ever.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and don't forget to enter my Christmas giveaway if you haven't already! (It ends tomorrow.)

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Friday, November 22, 2019

7 Quick Takes about Odd Things to Hear on the Radio, Improved Names for Exercise Moves, and a Giveaway

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


My 8-year-old's baptism on Sunday was very nice. Twice as many people as we expected came, including two of her friends from school who are not members of our church, just to support her.

Also, the police showed up.

They didn't bust down the door or anything (which would have made a great story,) but they did walk into the building politely asking if any of us had called 911 on a cell phone and said they were checking it out.


After the baptism, someone told us to take anything we wanted from the church's lost and found because they were just about to get rid of all the contents.

We perused it and ended up taking home this timely reminder:

In case you're confused by the cover illustration, this boy is taking the sacrament (what we call the communion or Eucharist,) which we regard as a weekly way to recommit to the promises we make with God when we're baptized.

We thought it was quite serendipitous and plan to review the book at home often, since if you ask my daughter about the most memorable part of her baptism I'm 95% sure she'll tell you about the space heater someone put in the bathroom to keep her warm while she was drying off after going under the water.


I have a complicated relationship with exercise. I guess it's not that complicated, I just don't really like it.

I've been on hiatus lately, but when I started feeling some instability in the joints in my back I was like, "Okay fine, I'll exercise!"

It's been a couple of weeks and I've been working out almost every day. My back feels better and my boys no longer ask what I'm doing when I start flailing around to a YouTube video.

In fact, they're really interested. The 5-year-old likes to invent new moves, and the 3-year-old likes to watch me closely to make sure I'm doing the same thing as the people on the screen.

One day he was watching me follow along, doing squats while holding weights in my hands, and asked, "What's that?"

"My weights?"

Pointing at me, he said, "No, THAT."

I looked down. "The drawstring on my pants?"

"No, THAT!" he said, jabbing his finger at the screen. "The squashing!"

"Oh, the exercise?"


"It's called a squat."

But I'm totally calling it "The Squashing" from now on.


The kids had a piano recital this week. We didn't start preparing as early as we should have, but I'm toooootally trying to be fine with that and accept that we were doing our best to keep up with the rest of life and not obsess about it.

This duet of "Merrily We Roll Along" was pretty epic.

Anyway, it was a time crunch getting their songs performance-ready. Each child was playing two pieces, one classical and one fun song of their choice.

Our 8-year-old's classical selection needed a lot more work than her fun song (which was actually pretty solid,) so we told her to spend her practice time on the classical piece.

Ironically, when the recital came around she completely bombed the fun song because she straight-up forgot how it went.

Phillip tried to make her feel better by telling her about his recent voice recital where he forgot the words to "Unforgettable."

It's not her: irony just follows our family wherever we go.


Phillip likes to do this annoying thing where he steals my thunder when I ask him to "guess."

For example, when I come home from a couponing trip to CVS loaded down with what is obviously hundreds of dollars of merchandise and gush, "Guess how much I paid for this??" Phillip guesses something ridiculous like 50¢. When I tell him it actually cost $5.49, it doesn't seem that impressive anymore.

But this takes the cake.

On the way to pick up the 15-year-old from school, a song came on the classical radio station that sounded weirdly familiar, but... not. When I asked my phone to identify the song, I learned it was "She's Leaving Home" by the Beatles, but redone in a Baroque style.

Forgetting how Phillip outdoes me every single time, I said that night, "I heard the weirdest thing on the radio today  you'll never guess what it was."

"Ummm... an American eagle farting the national anthem?"

I can't make this up, ladies and gentlemen. There's no way to top that.

(If you're not too preoccupied thinking about farting eagles, I'll have you know there's an entire collection out there called Beatles Baroque. So if you've ever listened to "Penny Lane" and thought, "Eh, it's okay but it could really use a harpsichord. Maybe some pan pipes," I know just the album for you.)


We got our family photos for our Christmas card taken at JC Penney.

Usually I have the appointment on my radar way ahead of time and spend days going through the kids' closets finding coordinating outfits for everyone to wear. But this time I didn't remember until 9 PM the night before.

I don't think Phillip knew what he was getting into when he offered to help me out. Cobbling together matching outfits for 8 people using only what we have on hand (especially when we're all kind of minimalists when it comes to clothes) is a Herculean task.

But in the end, did we do it? Yes!

And did we get everyone there on time the next day? Yes!

And if you're wondering, "Yeah, but did anyone in your family pee their pants in the middle of your photo shoot while the studio was running an hour behind schedule and 3 irate families were rage-waiting in their Christmas PJs for you to finish blotting urine off the photo background with a paper towel?" the answer is also yes!


The last thing you need to know this week is that I'm hosting a product giveaway and I want you all to go enter to win.

I'm giving away a copy of a fun new board game that's perfect for families as the holiday season starts ramping up.

It's called Stella Nova, which means "new star" in Latin, and it's all about the Nativity as we know it from the Bible. If your goal is to celebrate a Christmas that's more about Jesus than it is about presents or Jingle Bells, you should definitely enter to win a copy.

You can visit the Stella Nova website to learn more, then read my family's review and enter the giveaway here.

And if you have friends or family or people from your church who might be into winning, I'd consider it a personal favor if you'd tell them about the giveaway. Thanks a lot, guys!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Review of Stella Nova: A Christian Family Board Game

Raise your hand if you love Jesus and like free stuff!

I'm glad I have your attention because I'm super-excited for this giveaway of Stella Nova, a family board game that is fun and celebrates the true meaning of Christmas.

Enter to win a free copy of Stella Nova: the Christian family board game that keeps Christ in your family’s Christmas! Learn about Jesus, have family fun, and create new Christmas traditions. Giveaway ends November 30th! #giveaway #christmas #christian #nativity #jesus #kids #family

As a Christian I look forward to celebrating the birth of my Savior every year, but by mid-November I'm drowning in a glossy full-color avalanche of hot holiday toy catalogs and... it's easy to lose sight of why we're buying all those gifts in the first place.

That's why I was thrilled when Christian Haven offered to send me a copy of Stella Nova.

Stella Nova is a Christian family board game  the name means "New Star" in Latin.

With a combination of strategy, luck, and knowledge about Bible trivia, players race their game pieces across a historically accurate map of the Holy Land to be the first Wise Man to reach the Christ child in Bethlehem.

Along the way, players face obstacles like thieves and sandstorms, and everyone has to use their supplies wisely to make it from one city to the next without running out.

Our family has played and enjoyed many board games that follow a similar strategy/luck formula, but the most unique and meaningful part of Stella Nova, in my opinion, was the trivia cards that get you through the game.

There are two kinds of trivia questions: geography or Bible. The ancient history and geography ones were really hard, but my teenagers enjoyed the challenge (and apparently know more about what's where in the Middle East than I do.)

I stuck to the Bible trivia questions, which were all about the Nativity story. I loved that the Bible verse with the answer was on each card, and when I saw that we pulled out our scriptures and made them part of the game.

We made the rule that the younger kids were allowed to look up the answer if they didn't know it, and as a result, my 8-year-old was legit reading from the Bible while we played and having fun doing it, which makes this game well worth it, in my eyes.

The game was rated for ages 8 and up, which seemed pretty appropriate to me since reading and a little bit of strategy is required.

The 5-year-old couldn't play by himself, but he wanted to be on my team and enjoyed rolling the die. The 8-year-old caught on quickly and actually ended up winning the game.

Game play lasted about an hour and 45 minutes with 5 players  of course, we would have finished sooner were it not for the genetic condition all my children seem to have inherited where they need to be reminded every single time it's their turn. (We've been struggling with this problem for years and I'm convinced there is no cure.)

My advice when playing Stella Nova for the first time is to read the directions ahead of time and be prepared to summarize. Even though the rules aren't complicated, the directions take a long time to read and people will get antsy if you try to do it when everyone is already sitting at the table.

Unless you bring snacks, which in retrospect is also a good idea.

Picture a bowl of M&Ms here and you've got a decent game night.

Stella Nova was easy enough for my 8-year-old to understand, challenging enough for my teenagers to enjoy, and focused on Jesus Christ and the story of His birth.

What's more, we had a good time together and I only threatened to duct tape the kids' mouths shut once! (Just kidding. It was twice.)

I consider that a rollicking success, and I'm looking forward to playing Stella Nova again this holiday season with my kids.

Phillip and I are always looking for ways for our family to remember and celebrate the real reason for the Christmas season, and we're happy to add Stella Nova to our toolbox!

If you're looking for family fun and a new way to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas this year, I highly recommend checking out Stella Nova's website.

The giveaway may be over, but you can still get a copy of Stella Nova in time for Christmas and you can get a 20% discount (regular price is $39.95) by purchasing with the "buy now" button below:


The prize: one Stella Nova game

How to enter: follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. (U.S. residents only, for this one.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by Stella Nova and I was compensated for this review. But all opinions are 100% my own, as always!
Enter to win a free copy of Stella Nova: the Christian family board game that keeps Christ in your family’s Christmas! Learn about Jesus, have family fun, and create new Christmas traditions. Giveaway ends November 30th! #giveaway #christmas #christian #nativity #jesus #kids #family
Enter to win a free copy of Stella Nova: the Christian family board game that keeps Christ in your family’s Christmas! Learn about Jesus, have family fun, and create new Christmas traditions. Giveaway ends November 30th! #giveaway #christmas #christian #nativity #jesus #kids #family

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Friday, November 15, 2019

7 Quick Takes about Staying Up Late, Finding Emojis in Unexpected Places, and Music for People Who Definitely Aren't Otters

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


Phillip's parents are here for a visit, and did they ever come at a good time.

Over their 8-day stay they get to see the 13-year-old's orchestra concert, the 15-year-old's school play, the 13-year-old's concerto competition at her music school, the 8-year-old's baptism, and a piano recital for all the kids except the 3-year-old, who's only in it for the refreshments, anyway.

The best part is that my mother-in-law's flight came in at 11:59 PM on Monday, and guess who got to pick her up from the airport? Maybe that doesn't seem like fun, but allow me to explain.

I really hate sleeping. Shutting down a completely good day for 7 boring hours of nothing feels depressing to me. And because Phillip needs/wants more sleep than I do, I end up either sulkily putting on my pajamas hours before I'm ready or, more commonly, staying up late feeling bad that Phillip is waiting up for me (or gave up on me and went to bed by himself.)

But Phillip's mom coming in on an 11:59 PM flight was my ticket to a completely guilt-free late night. I had to stay up so I could get her from the airport! It couldn't be helped!

All I'm saying is that someone had to volunteer to do it, and I was willing to make the sacrifice.


My 3-year-old didn't remember Grandma at first. We saw her in July, which seems pretty recent to me, but considering that's 10% of his short little life I guess it's understandable.

When he woke up in the morning, they spent some time playing and getting reacquainted. After about 10 minutes, he followed me into the kitchen but when we went back into the living room, Grandma had gone to the bathroom and wasn't there.

Confused, my 3-year-old looked around and asked, "Where is that person who was in our house?"


Recently my 5-year-old was talking about illegal animal poachers for some reason (I guess when you're the fifth kid you just learn about these things earlier,) and with a jolt I suddenly remembered the movie The Rescuers Down Under.

Do you remember The Rescuers Down Under? I loved it as a kid and watched it several times on good old VHS.

I suggested we watch it and everyone, even my 15-year-old, said it was funny.

As a child watching it in 1990, I didn't know that poachers don't really live in evil underground caves or have easy access to missile launchers, but even knowing that now didn't make me enjoy the movie any less. I thought it was hilarious.


We have so many downed leaves right now, and we're waiting for the last of them to fall before leafblowing the yard. (It's always a gamble that it won't snow first, and some years we've lost that gamble.)

Laugh along as the Unremarkable Files family gets real in this week's edition of 7 Quick Takes! #7quicktakes #7qt #friday #unremarkablefiles #funny #relatable

But for now, the kids are having so much fun raking up gigantic piles and jumping in them. We brought out a stepladder so they could get a little more height and took slow-motion videos of each of them launching off.

After a while I had to put my phone back in the house because it became all about the technology, and I started to wonder, "Is this ruining my kids' childhood? Should I be concerned that they can't even enjoy the simple, wholesome pleasures of jumping in freshly fallen leaves without a device being the center of it?"


Well, I'm not sure about the answer to those questions, but I can say that we definitely live in a tech-saturated world.

We were reading a passage in the Bible the other day and my 11-year-old started laughing. I was a little confused until he pointed out the smiley face emoji at the end of verse 4.

The King James Version: still relevant and "with it" in 2019.


If you would like to fall down dead from deliciousness, may I recommend this recipe?

Over the weekend we made this strawberry brownie cheesecake and it was everything you could ask for in a dessert. I don't even like brownies but with the strawberries and cheesecake, I could not get enough of it.

Laugh along as the Unremarkable Files family gets real in this week's edition of 7 Quick Takes! #7quicktakes #7qt #friday #unremarkablefiles #funny #relatable

We have closer-up pictures that are actually in focus, but to be honest, our cake turned out looking a little wonky so trust me, it looks better from farther away. 

Parenthetically, it just now occurred to me that Trust Me, It Looks Better From Farther Away is a great title for my autobiography.


I've heard this song on the radio a few times in the last couple of weeks. It's jazzy and easy and I like it... but I can only understand like three words.

In fact, until I went to post it here and looked up the lyrics to make sure it wasn't about anything terrible, I was 100% sure he ended the song with "I shan't be like an otter."

The lyrics were totally clean, but in retrospect I wish I hadn't looked them up because I liked the song better when it was about otters.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

7 Quick Takes about Seeing Beavers and Rich People, Reclaiming Saturday, and Cute Baby Overload

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


I was patting myself on the back for remembering to put out some Halloween decorations this year.

Only a few days ago did I remember that when you put up seasonal decorations, you also have to take them back down at some point.

So I went to take down the festive blocks spelling out "Happy Halloween" in our front entryway and realized how perfectly appropriate it is that not only is it November, but my sign is also missing a letter and was at some point rearranged by a child to say "__ HPY P  HALLOWEEN."

Click to read the funniest summary of the week from your favorite family of 8 on the block! This week's 7 Quick Takes will make you laugh, cry, and feel better about your family chaos.  #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #funny #real #bigfamily


My kids had Tuesday off from school because the school gym is used for elections, so we had a full day on our hands.

I pulled up a map of conservation land for the town next to us and chose a trail we'd never been on, and it turned out to be awesome. Not only were all 6 of the kids together (kind of a rarity now that the 15-year-old has so many after-school activities,) but part of the trail went along a beautiful pond with an apparently vibrant beaver community.

We saw several trees that had been chewed (or were in the process of being chewed) by beavers, and two beaver dams. My 2nd grader just read about beavers in school so she immediately flipped into tour guide mode and was telling us all about them.

Click to read the funniest summary of the week from your favorite family of 8 on the block! This week's 7 Quick Takes will make you laugh, cry, and feel better about your family chaos.  #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #funny #real #bigfamily
Skipping rocks.

We took the wrong fork in the trail on the way back, which at first seemed like a disappointment but turned out to be great. Instead of going through the woods to get back to the car, we walked through a really hoity-toity neighborhood and gawked at all the fancy houses.

I enjoyed myself when I wasn't hissing at the kids, "Stay off the rich peoples' grass!!"


Soccer is over for the season! 

I'm not sure why I continue to pay the activity fees when most of the time I'm desperately doing rain dances in the backyard to get every practice and game cancelled.

All I know is that when the ref blows the whistle at the end of the last game of the season, it makes me involuntarily do this:

Click to read the funniest summary of the week from your favorite family of 8 on the block! This week's 7 Quick Takes will make you laugh, cry, and feel better about your family chaos.  #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #funny #real #bigfamily

And this:

Click to read the funniest summary of the week from your favorite family of 8 on the block! This week's 7 Quick Takes will make you laugh, cry, and feel better about your family chaos.  #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #funny #real #bigfamily

And I think I even do this:

Click to read the funniest summary of the week from your favorite family of 8 on the block! This week's 7 Quick Takes will make you laugh, cry, and feel better about your family chaos.  #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #funny #real #bigfamily

BECAUSE WE HAVE OUR SATURDAYS BACK AGAIN! I know soccer is great exercise and the kids get to learn the reward of hard work and practice and they enjoy running around on a team with their friends... but do you know what's better than that?


Click to read the funniest summary of the week from your favorite family of 8 on the block! This week's 7 Quick Takes will make you laugh, cry, and feel better about your family chaos.  #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #funny #real #bigfamily

Really looking forward to this Saturday.


My 5-year-old is really into dinosaurs right now. I admit to engineering his newfound passion, because we may or may not have recently acquired a big box of plastic dinosaur toys that will make a great Christmas gift for someone who's very interested in dinosaurs by December.

I'm sort of a gift opportunist.

We check out a big stack of dinosaur books from the library every week, and he loves them. In fact, I read them to him while he's eating to trick him into staying at the table. I don't know why, but that kid eats like a bird and wanders away after two bites, even if he's actually hungry.


While we were stocking up on dinosaur books at the library, I also checked out Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to introduce it to my 3-year-old. He calls it Chicken Chicken Boom Boom and I'm sorry, but I'm just not correcting that.

Coincidentally, this week my 8th grader came home incensed over a "new" version of the alphabet song (it's actually 7 years old from an ESL learning site but apparently it just went viral, the Internet is weird.)

As a side note, I'm writing this with my 3-year-old sitting on my lap who is now laughing hysterically because "they're doing it wrong!"


I've been going through our old pictures and making a slideshow for our 8-year-old's upcoming baptism.

In our church, we don't baptize babies. We wait until they're older because (1) we want them to understand what they're doing, and (2) we believe in baptism by immersion (a.k.a: the full-body dunk.)

Anyway, we need to fill the time when she's getting dried off and changed after going under the water, so I'm making a slideshow of her from birth to present day to play in the interim.

Going through 8 years of pictures might be torture for some people, but it means I get to go look at cute pictures like this, so I really can't say I mind.

Click to read the funniest summary of the week from your favorite family of 8 on the block! This week's 7 Quick Takes will make you laugh, cry, and feel better about your family chaos.  #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #funny #real #bigfamily
I'm so tired in this picture I probably don't even know my own name.

I started by scrolling chronologically through our entire photo library, but learned halfway through that Amazon photo storage has amazing facial recognition capabilities that made the process a million times easier.

It could identify my daughter's face from the time she was a few weeks old, which boggles my mind, considering I usually can't tell which newborn I'm holding without looking at the date stamp.


Speaking of babies in the house, we watched a friend's kids for a few hours on Wednesday. My  middle schoolers happened to have an early release day so they had fun holding and playing with her 6-month-old, who is probably the happiest baby I've ever met.

As he grinned wide-eyed and drooling at my 13-year-old, she commented, "He kind of looks like a crazy person who is also really adorable."

Yep, that's a baby. Insane, super-cute, and with a disproportionately huge head. Is it any wonder we love them?

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