Friday, October 30, 2020

7 Quick Takes about Growing In to Adulthood, Massive Surprise Cakes, and Doing Arithmetic with Spiderman

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


Well, we finally did it. For the first time, we put Christmas lights on the outside of the house, just like real grownups.

I'm 38 years old, and I don't know why but I've always felt like there was some association between competent adulthood and having it together enough to string some LEDs from your roofline.

And we have arrived.


A child in our house requested a "surprise cake" for their birthday this week, and I knew that this child had in mind the time we surprised their brother with one of those pinata cakes where M&Ms spill out when you cut into it.

So I did some thinking about what similar (but not quite the same) thing we could do, and I settled on this 6-layer rainbow cake

I was right, this was such a surprise.

It required two cakes' worth of batter and 2.5 canisters of frosting (I wanted it to be thick enough so the birthday child couldn't see the colored layers before cutting into it.) 

The finished product was so heavy we needed a wheelbarrow to bring it to the dining room table and now we all have diabetes.


Phillip and I started making the cake after the kids went to bed for the night and it took forever

We made it from scratch instead of using a boxed mix because it had to be gluten-free (storebought GF vanilla cake mix is ridiculously expensive and tastes like cardboard.) Then we had to divide the batter into separate bowls and get all the colors just right, and after that we had to bake it in installments because we only had 3 pans.

By the time we'd taken the last pan out of the oven, Phillip was exhausted and so was I. We got ready for bed, and just as we were lying down I said, "You go to sleep, I'm just going to take the cakes out of the pan and I'll be right back."

Then I stayed up until 1:45 putting the whole thing together and frosting it.  

I knew if I hadn't tricked him into going to sleep, he would've tried to convince me to finish it in the morning. But when I envisioned trying to assemble this behemoth cake with little fingers sneaking frosting and little voices asking "can I help?" while being on-call to solve problems with the kids' online schoolwork and trying not to spoil the surprise for the birthday child... well, I wanted to avoid that even more than I wanted sleep.


The other kids all made "happy birthday" cards and the one from my 4-year-old was so cute. 

Apparently he's been listening to me talk to the 1st grader about punctuation because when he showed me the card he'd made, the whole front was filled with exclamation marks.

"Wow, that's a lot of exclamation points!" I said, and he answered, "Well, yeah. Because it's exciting!"


My kids, still on a quest for the best dubstep remixes on the Internet, stumbled across this gem on YouTube. 

This Harry Potter remix didn't sound like much to write home about at first, but the beat drop caught us all by surprise and was hilariously perfect.


Our elementary school usually holds a costume parade during the week of Halloween, which isn't happening this year due to COVID. In lieu of the parade, kids were told they could wear their costumes to virtual school.

Which turned out to be pretty amusing and probably more enjoyable for me to watch in the end.

Spiderman, Spiderman, learning whatever a spider can.


The nonexistent school parade and the lack of our church's annual trunk-or-treat activity didn't bother me, but after all the kids' hard work making their costumes, it really ticked me off when the town voted at the last minute (really, it happened on Monday) to cancel trick-or-treating this year.

How the town can tell my family we aren't allowed to go for a walk around the neighborhood tomorrow night (which we totally are) or tell residents they can't leave bowls of candy on their front porches if they're so inclined (which some undoubtedly will anyway,) I don't know.

But whatever. We're blowing up a pumpkin instead.

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Friday, October 23, 2020

7 Quick Takes about My New Favorite Stickers, the Internet Spying on Me Again, and What Not to Buy For Anyone's 40th Birthday

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


I was at the store this week and saw my new favorite product:

"Didn't cry" is my favorite.

Seriously, as a society we have this "everybody gets a trophy" mentality all backwards. Kids don't need participation awards for just showing up. Being a kid is so easy that someone else washes your underwear. Adults are the ones who need the encouragement just for doing the bare minimum some days.


My four younger kids are enjoying hybrid school. I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but they're enjoying going to school in person and on the days when they're on the computer learning from home, it's turning out to be great.

On remote days, the 8-year-old likes having long lunches if she finishes her work early, and the 6-year-old enjoys simple pleasures like being able to slip into a Spiderman costume and run around the house on his 15-minute break in the morning.  

Which seems like a pretty awesome break if you ask me.


My 16-year-old recently told me about Sabaton, a Swedish heavy metal band that sings about historical battles. 

Okay, first of all, I love the idea. Do I love heavy metal? No. But I am so in favor of things that are so unique, other people couldn't come up with an idea like that if they tried.

I also love that my daughter sometimes looks up the lyrics and researches the battles they're singing about. (I just hope she's not counting that as her homeschool history work.)


Lately I've been experiencing a series of serendipitous coincidences, and it's kind of freaking me out.

Recently we realized that our daughter needed a better chair if she's going to be homeschooling full-time, so I was on the hunt for a good deal on an office chair. And then when I was driving to drop her off at cross-country practice, I happened to drive right by one on the curb with a "FREE" sign that seemed like it was placed there especially for us.

Less than a week later, our vacuum went on the fritz and I started shopping online for a new vacuum (just looking, not buying quite yet.) The very next day, I was taking someone to soccer practice and drove right past a free vacuum on the curb outside a different house. It was the exact brand I'd been looking at online and there was even a package of vacuum bags propped up next to it.

You know how sometimes you mention something random, like tea cozies, to someone in conversation and then all of a sudden you're eerily seeing ads for tea cozies all over Facebook? It's been like that, but in real life.


Phillip is turning 40 soon, and I've been doing a little research just to give me ideas.

After doing a Google search, I clicked on an article in The Strategist. I haven't heard of The Strategist before, but it appears to be a very sophisticated, black-and-white shopping website that even says "New York" on it, so you know it's classy. The article promised to contain "the best 40th birthday gifts, according to people who've turned 40 or are about to turn 40." 

It turned out to be the most unhelpful thing I've ever read on the Internet.

It started out okay. There were some luxury kitchen gadgets, which actually could be something the right 40-year-old could indeed appreciate.

But by the time I got to the $91 scrunchie, I was dying. At the $198 tie dyed T-shirt, I was laughing so hard I couldn't even keep reading.

I was so thoroughly amused that maybe I'll just send Phillip a link to the article for his birthday. Laughter is, after all, a gift.


While we were eating dinner, I mentioned that I was tired and my 6-year-old randomly looked at me and said, "You're like a queen."

Then he added, "But you're kind of like an old woman, too."

"How am I like a queen and an old woman?" I pressed.

"Because you're tired."

"Okay, so I'm tired like an old woman?" I said. He nodded so I asked, "And how am I like a queen?"

"Well, I guess you're not, really." He picked up his fork. clearly ready to be done with this conversation. "You're just like an old woman."


I used to be an avid journaler. Over the last decade, I've written in my journal less and less frequently until it was basically just a token entry every few years when I had a baby. 

But I figured quarantine was a good opportunity to start again, both because I had more time and it might be more interesting for posterity to look back on one day than the usual "today I drove to the high school four times and used half a tank of gas shuttling kids to soccer practice."

Anyway, now my journal is getting full and I've been shopping online for a new one. I was hoping to find a nice one, maybe leather bound with a nice design on the front or something, but so far I've been disappointed. 

It's all compasses and script admonitions to "Let the Adventure Begin," and all I want is something a bit more representative of me. Like a cover with a picture of a hamster on a wheel, or maybe the words "At Least She Tried" hastily scrawled across the front.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

New Words We Need to Describe the Ridiculousness That Is Parenting

Soon after you give birth, adopt, or find a wicker basket on your doorstep containing a baby, you'll see that the English language is woefully inadequate to describe your life as a parent.

Parenting requires a bunch of new words to describe the ridiculousness that is raising a tiny human, and here are just a few of them that should be added to the dictionary immediately.

(Please keep this glossary in a safe place for your reference, which for most parents is a place they'll never again be able to find even though they sincerely believed they'd remember at the time.)

sass·tery  noun  What children mutter under their breath when a parent is done disciplining them.  I was almost out of the room when my son's sasstery reached my ears.

pe·dal·li·ance  noun  A delay caused by your child waiting until you're going out the door to inform you that his shoes are too small and/or have been lost for three days.  My son's pedalliance was upsetting, but unfortunately, not entirely out of character.

tween·o·ci·dal  adjective  How you feel when your 11-year-old rolls their eyes and says "I KNOW!" before you've even finished your sentence.  Rage-eating, rage-cleaning, or getting a puppy who can't talk back are a few ways parents deal with their tweenocidal feelings.

son de la mère  noun  When something comes out of your mouth your own mom would say. Origin: French; literally 'sound of the mother.'  The second I said "Just wait until your father gets home" I felt an overwhelming sense of son de la mère.

mac·ro·bib·li·o·pho·bi·a  noun  The deep-seated fear that your kid will pull out the long bedtime story to read.  My husband's severe macrobibliophobia was the reason for removing all the Dr. Seuss books from our toddler's bedroom.

re·fer·rupt  verb  When one of your kids butts in and attempts to correct or otherwise parent his/her siblings.  I'm the parent here, please stop referrupting your sister!

mi·si·o·logue  noun  Mentally cataloging your shortcomings as a mother, usually when you're supposed to be sleeping.  All the yelling I did today is sure to feature prominently in tonight's misiologue!

drudg·e·mo·ny  noun  The feeling you get when you're washing dishes and people keep walking by and putting dirty plates in the sink.  The drudgemony of it all is so strong, I could rinse these dishes with my tears.

gi·ga·sec  noun  The period of time, inversely proportional to how late you are, that it takes a small child to leave the house.  Macy is just zipping up her own jacket, be there in a gigasec!

dis·tro·per·i·ty  noun  Realizing you can't do fourth grade math.  Nothing increases your distroperity more than homeschooling your kid through a fractions unit.

kid·ver·sa·tion  noun  Conversation that keeps coming back to the children despite your best efforts to talk about literally anything else.  When you're married, date nights are mostly one long kidversation.

hy·per·spec·u·lance  noun  A grossly exaggerated watching behavior.  My daughter said "watch this" and I averted my eyes for .02 seconds, which fell short of her demand for hyperspeculance. 

pseu·do·com·pe·tence  noun  The appearance of having it all together, which is a complete and total lie.  From one mother to another, I'm as impressed at your pseudocompetence as you probably are at mine!

fil·tra·ture  noun  The belief that your funny-looking newborn is the most beautiful creature that ever existed.  Looking back at his baby pictures, our filtrature as new parents was pretty obvious.

gram·biv·il·a·tude  noun  When you're thankful for your parents' help babysitting but also frustrated that you'll have to retrain the kids because they're feral now.  When the kids came back from Grandma's overtired and high on sugar, a wave of grambivilatude washed over me.

trund·logged  adjective  Haggard from late-night trips to the store to buy supplies for school projects due the next day.  I always feel so trundlogged by the end of science fair season, I'm more over it than my kids are.

do·tir·a·cy  noun  Exhaustion-induced act of stupidity.  In my latest dotiracy, I emailed the principal about Mrs. Miller disciplining Maddie for saying "penis" in class and accidentally CC'd the entire school.

glit·ter·ine  adjective  Excessively sweet and over-the-top; describes the voice used by moms who are this close to losing it but desperately trying not to.  When my kids hear my glitterine voice, they have 5 minutes to start behaving before I drop them all off at the fire station.

o·le·cap·ti·phi·li·a  noun  The compulsion to sniff a baby's head.  Visiting my newborn niece, I suffered an intense bout of olecaptiphilia that didn't go away for hours.

pro·sol·i·fac·tion  noun  Looking forward to being alone after the kids' bedtime.  By 5 P.M., it's only sneaking chocolate chips from the pantry and prosolifaction keeping me going.  See also: parensomnia.

par·en·som·ni·a  noun  Being unwilling to go to sleep and forfeit your kid-free time, but also too tired to do anything particularly productive or enjoyable.  I've had parensomnia for so long, I look like a backup dancer from 'Thriller.'

dis·sum·bled  adjective  Disorientation caused by the first day of school after the kids have been crawling on your head every day of summer vacation.  With no one barging in on me in the bathroom for the first time in three months, September had me feeling pretty dissumbled.

eu·phor·i·fused  adjective  Puzzled and overjoyed at seeing a freshly replaced toilet paper roll in the bathroom that you had nothing to do with.  She was so euphorifused she thought she'd accidentally walked into the neighbor's bathroom instead of her own!

re·nume  verb  Calculating how much sleep you'll get if you fall asleep right now... or now... or now.  My math has really improved from all the renuming I do every night.

zy·go·cly·sm  noun  The result of siblings who join forces to create a super-mess.  No baby book warns you about the zygoclysm three kids can produce during a 20-minute shower.

ger·i·a·tray·al  noun  Realizing your teen heartthrobs look like grandpas now.  Seeing Luke Perry on the cover of AARP magazine was the ultimate geriatrayal.

suf·flight  noun  Something your child says or does that abruptly melts your heart when they've spent all day being exasperating.  Earlier today I was looking into the rules about selling children on Facebook Marketplace, but that sufflight changed my mind.

leth·id·ness  noun  The special dread reserved for parents visiting a port-a-potty with a young child who touches everything with wild abandon.  Preschooler in hand, I approached the biffy at the park with lethidness.

sen·si·bi·ate  verb  To envy another parent's practical items.  I once swore I'd never drive a minivan, and now I'm sensibiating over ones with more cargo space than mine.

night·ghast  noun  When you wake up at 2 A.M. and your kid is standing at your bedside staring at you.  A nightghast from my kindergartner has everything from the 'Halloween' franchise except a hockey mask.

con·flear  verb  To make accidental eye contact with a child.  The baby was almost asleep and then I confleared and broke the spell.

quest·il·it·y  noun  Infinite love for someone coupled with the need to hide from them in the moment.  No one's questility is greater than the parent of a 3-year-old who won't stop asking 'why.'

re·cip·ro·quence  noun  A punishment that is more painful for the parent than for the child.  Reciproquences like revoked screen time privileges are often given out by the parent who won't be around to deal with the fallout the next day.

sup·peal  verb  When your kid calls a sibling to dinner by standing right where they are and yelling the sibling's name right next to your ear.  I can suppeal as well as you can, so that's not what I meant by "go get your brother for dinner!"

so·lode  noun  A solo bathroom trip. As a stay-at-home mom, a solode every once in a while is like a vacation in the freaking Bahamas.

cog·ni·pe·di·a  noun  The feeling that you left a kid behind. We left in such a hurry no one noticed Claire wasn't with us, but we didn't get far before my cognipedia kicked in.

dis·rup·tar·ious  adjective  Causing concealed laughter; of or pertaining to child behavior that is bad but also hilarious.  It was disruptarious when Jackson looked at his elephant coloring page and told the preschool teacher he "didn't have time for this *%&#."

tra·vail  noun  Not a made-up word, but a repurposed collective noun for a group of moms.  A travail of mothers arrived at book club, so excited to be out of the house without kids it hardly mattered that none of them had read the book.  See also: laundering (of mothers.) Colloquial: hot mess (of moms.)

Just like the Eskimo have 42 words for snow, parents need their own specialized vocabulary to describe their unique experience. I hope this glossary gives us a place to start that conversation. 

As your children grow, your patience dwindles, and you slowly become a mix of your parents and a more tired, broke version of yourself, I sincerely hope these new words come in handy.

Feel free to comment below with the parenting phenomenon you think needs its own word!

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Friday, October 16, 2020

7 Quick Takes about Bad Places to Be When You Have to Use the Bathroom, Halloween Collaborations, and Ankle Boots

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


If you've had a tough week, relax and take a break with this picture my 4-year-old drew for you of cats riding on Segways.

I don't think he knows what Segways are and he may or may not have gotten them confused with 'subways,' but he was very confident about it when he handed this picture to me so I'm going to go with that.


On Columbus Day we went apple picking. We haven't done it in a few years, partly because it seems a little weird to me to pay extra for the "experience" of picking our own food, but I'm glad we went.

This particular orchard didn't prune their trees to stay short, instead they provided ladders (and a 10-page waiver so they don't get sued if you happen to fall off) which was a lot of fun, especially for the older kids who might not be over the moon about picking apples.

We picked a bunch of apples of a variety called 'Mutsu,' and I totally love them. My little kids think they're called "Mushu apples" and we can add that to the list of mispronunciations that I will never correct.


The other reason we chose this orchard was that they had a large hedge maze. I've actually never done a giant maze before and thought we should check it out.

Occasionally you stumbled on a platform that gave you a better vantage point to be able to look out and survey the maze from a bird's eye view. 

My favorite part was standing on the center platform and watching my kids running in the maze below. My least favorite part was my 8-year-old finding me on that platform and informing me she had to go to the bathroom. 

After 15 minutes of wandering around looking for the exit, we still had no idea where we were. I was just about to tell her to pee in the corner of the maze somewhere when she spied a hole in the hedge she could crawl under to get to the port-a-potty outside.


We haven't ever done a themed family Halloween costume, but this year the 6 kids decided to team up and be famous duos.

My 14- and 4-year-olds are dressing up as the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda; my 12- and 8-year-olds as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia; my 16- and 6-year-olds as Iron Man and Spider-Man.

I'm helping the younger kids put their costumes together, but the older kids presumably have it under control. I've seen them ferreting cardboard, duct tape, and spraypaint into the basement so it looks like they're going homemade.

Although I did notice "Real Life Size Iron Man Suit by Toys Asia for $365,000" in our Internet search history so I guess I actually have no clue what's going on down there.


I just got back from the UPS store, returning some ankle boots I attempted to buy from Amazon. I just don't think I'm that kind of person.

Are they cute? Yes. 

Do I own a wardrobe fashionable enough to wear with ankle boots? I'm pretty sure the answer is no. 

I think you have to be the kind of person who wears "outfits" instead of a shirt and pants, and who has unironically used the word "style" as a verb. 

Plus, I think you can only wear ankle boots with skinny jeans, and you all know how I feel about skinny jeans.


On the side of our garage,
there's a door leading to the backyard. It's a convenient shortcut, but the annoying part is that the door swings inward into the garage, so I can't pull in the car whenever the kids leave it open (which is always.)

The other day I got home and, annoyed, hopped out to close the door so I could park in my own garage. When I grabbed the doorknob, I looked out the open doorway to see our black bear friend from last month standing 10 feet in front of me.

My brain didn't panic, freeze in fear, or start yelling "OH MY GOSH!!!" It just went "Bear" and slammed the door shut. Even I was a little amused by the non-reaction.


Do you guys know Adrienne Hedger? If you don't, you should. 

She's a hilarious comic who I swear sometimes must be drawing things directly from my life. In fact, a few years ago she literally drew a scene from my life when we did a collaboration on the two seasons of parenting (idea mine, drawing hers.)

Anyway, my kids' elementary school held a back-to-school night and as part of the presentation, they included a Hedger Humor comic on remote learning. Can anyone relate? Of course you can.

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Friday, October 9, 2020

7 Quick Takes about Under Armour, Decorating with Inspirational Quotes, and How Our Pets Are Like Toddlers Only Smaller

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


Well, general conference this past weekend was fantastic. Even my 8-year-old said "I liked it this time, and not just because of the snacks! Does that mean I'm getting older?"

Conference snacks are famous in our family. Every time, we tape pictures of the speakers to different treats, and when people speak the kids get to eat the snack they're on. (We also write down notes from their talk on a piece of paper and save them in a baggie to talk about later.)

I think it's a net positive because it does get the kids excited for conference and I think they actually are paying more attention, but sometimes I wonder.

When Elder Stevenson got up to speak, one of my kids squealed "It's Mr. Cheese Balls!" and thundered up the stairs to retrieve the bag.

Not knowing what else to do, I yelled after them, "Be respectful! It's Elder Cheese Balls!"


I particularly liked our prophet President Nelson's talk (when he stood at the podium, my 8-year-old whispered "He was mozzarella sticks last time...") who said:
"Today we often hear about 'a new normal.' If you really want to embrace a new normal, I invite you to turn your heart, mind, and soul increasingly to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let that be your new normal."
Bad things have come out of this pandemic. Some of us have lost loved ones and economic stability, and even those who haven't are completely sick of our lives being so disrupted for so long. 

But there have also been good things coming out of it, and I hope you've seen them. If not, I'd seriously suggest looking at this page. It's by suddenly having our schedules cleared out to focus more on them that virtually all the good changes to my family's life over the past 7 months have come.

My other favorite talk was "Eyes to See" by Michelle D. Craig. It's a 10-minute listen and well worth it:


Because my kids need fall clothes, we've been doing some shopping. My daughter wanted to try Kohl's, and since they accept Amazon returns there I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and return some items while they shopped.

It turned out to be a ridiculously long process because the Wi-Fi was spotty, the QR codes on the return emails weren't scanning, and I had to keep getting back in line and waiting to try again after something didn't work.

The good thing was, while I was waiting for a million hours in front of this display of Under Armour water bottles, I realized something:

I've always vaguely wondered why Under Armour's logo was an 'H.' After staring at this for so long it finally dawned on me that the 'H' is actually a 'U' and an 'A,' you guys. Mind blown. #themoreyouknow


After finally returning my Amazon packages, which could not have taken longer if I'd walked the to the warehouse to put them back on the shelves myself, I went to find my daughters.

We explored the sizable clearance racks, and when I say 'sizable' I mean practically half the store. (I {heart} Kohl's now. Where has it been all my life??) There were a lot of nice things, but as is often the case with clearance racks, there were also some more... interesting items. 

Pulling something pretty heinous off one of the racks and trying to find something positive to say, I told my 14-year-old that it would "probably look good on the right person."

Raising her eyebrow and putting the offending item back on the rack, she said "It would just be really hard to find that person."

Even Phillip got in on the clearance action and found some pants. "It says here these pants are for Thanksgiving," he announced, pointing to the claim on the label.

Watch out, turkey dinner and pumpkin pie. Here we come.


My girls have also been hard at work painting their room. They came up with a color scheme and have mostly been doing it themselves. I only go up there once in a while to help or see what's going on.

They finally finished painting and touching up, and now they're working on putting the room back together. Last night I went upstairs to check out their progress, and they're in the furniture rearranging and redecorating phase.

Not exactly what we'd envisioned when buying my daughter a felt letter board last Christmas.

It's like HGTV over here, really.


We've been enjoying our pet rats, especially taking pictures of them eating. 

So cute. I don't have a picture of this, but I like giving them veggies cut into tiny triangles so it looks like they're munching on pieces of pizza.

Because they never stop moving, it's actually pretty hard to get a non-blurry close up of rats. They're a lot like toddlers that way.

Supposedly you can litterbox train rats, but ours are ignoring our best efforts and continuing to poop wherever and whenever they feel like it. Which is also a lot like toddlers.


If you're familiar with Unremarkable Files, you know it's not political. Like, ever. That's on purpose.

However, I will make this one and only exception by sharing a text my 16-year-old sent me this week:

The fact that I'm currently being Rickrolled by my own daughter means parenting has turned out to be everything I thought it would be and more.

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Friday, October 2, 2020

7 Quick Takes about Things That Are Only Funny if They Didn't Happen To You, Fall Colors, and The Magical Side of Parenting

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


The GPS on my phone wasn't working right, so I pulled over at a Shell station to figure it out. Completely oblivious, I parked right in front of the repair garage until one of the mechanics knocked on the window and asked me to move.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," I say, and in my haste to get out of their way I immediately drive over a curb. And get stuck.

At this point, I think I'm embarrassed, but I don't even know the meaning of the word yet.

The mechanic comes over and starts giving me step-by-step directions to extricate myself from the curb: "Turn your wheel all the way to the right... go forward a little... okay, stop! Now turn it all the way to the left... and back up..."

This takes approximately one hundred years, each one more excruciating than the last.

By now, the other two mechanics from the garage have wandered over to watch the show, and things aren't looking good. My rocker panel cover (the long plastic piece that runs the length of the vehicle at the bottom of the car) is hanging halfway off.

"I'll take that off so you can put it in the trunk," the second mechanic says, retrieving a tool from his truck and lying on the ground underneath the car to remove the remaining bolts.

My face is on fire and I'm ready to commit harikari to put an end to my shame, but I can't because someone needs to open the trunk. So I go to tilt down the bike rack on the back to access the trunk... and it won't budge.

Then the third mechanic  I repeat, THE THIRD mechanic  sees me struggling and comes over to ask if I need help.

So to recap, I've commandeered the complete attention of three mechanics, one of whom is on the ground working on my car because I'm a total idiot and WHY is there not a sinkhole opening up in the earth to swallow me alive this very second so I can escape further mortification?!?

That day, I learned three things: one, it's impossible to actually die of embarrassment. If it was, you definitely wouldn't be reading this 7 Quick Takes. 

Two, the curbs at Shell stations are really high so be careful. 

Three, those mechanics are amazing human beings. I don't even care that they probably laughed themselves breathless after I left. They were saints.


New England is famous for having spectacular fall colors, and I enjoy them but rarely get excited to the extent that I plan dedicated leaf appreciation road trips (yes, that's a thing.) But this year, I just might.

The colors seem way more vivid to me than any other year, and I've had multiple stop-in-my-tracks moments this week.

Take this picture. I was just jogging along and looked over and there it was. This scene is so picturesque it hurts. 

Please note the tractor carrying a crate of pumpkins across the freaking field. I can't. I just can't.


Another family from church invited us over to grill and have dinner in the backyard, and I think it was the first social engagement the whole family has attended since the pandemic began. The kids have done individual outdoor playdates and I've taken socially distanced walks with friends while they stay home, but that's about it. 

We ate outside and the kids played with our friend's puppy, and I realized that even though I'm an introvert this kind of thing was really nice when we used to do it more often.

Meanwhile, my 12-year-old was peppering our friends with questions about all the vents and doodads on the exterior of the house. 

Like you or I would be, they were scratching their heads guessing "Umm... for the laundry, maybe? And that's probably over the stove, and... I guess that's the bathroom...?" It's funny how none of us really know how our houses work. We're like "I don't know, I just live here."

Anyway, it was a really nice evening and our 6-year-old asked to go to their house again about 50 times on the way home.


While reading a book, the 4-year-old saw a picture of Jesus and here was the following conversation: 

4yo: [pointing to the picture] Where is Jesus’s long hair? 

Me: Well, he probably had longer hair than that but we don’t really know what he looked like. 

4yo: But Jesus has long hair. 

Me: How do you know? 

4yo: He told me. 

Me: [long pause in which he stared at me, unblinking] Jesus told you he has long hair. 

4yo: Mm-hmm. 

Me: [raising eyebrow] How? 

4yo: He came down from heaven. 

Me: Jesus came down from heaven to tell you he has long hair?

4yo: [looking me straight in the eye and being totally matter-of-fact about the whole thing] Yep. 

And that is why you should never believe anything a 4-year-old says.


The other day, a house down the street hired a tree removal company to cut down a massive oak, so I walked over with my 4- and 6-year-olds and we just sat across the street watching for a while. 

It was pretty cool how they hauled a guy with a chainsaw up 40 feet in the air with a crane (not in a bucket, he was just dangling there in a harness) and lowered him into the tree. He fastened the crane to a branch and made his cut, then rappelled down the tree trunk while the crane lifted the branch out of the way.

It was probably my favorite part of the whole week. Not because I have a thing for tree removal, but because to me, sitting there watching is the perfect example of a really special time in parenting.

After kids can walk and talk but before school and activities dictate your schedule, there's nothing quite like it. You take meandering walks and stop for 15 minutes to look at a bug or a storm drain if that's what they want to do, and the two of you are just in your own little universe, totally in the present. It's magical.

(Not that I don't like yelling at people to get their cleats on and get in the car because we're already late while a feisty pre-teen rolls their eyes and yells back "I know!" I do, it's just not as magical.)


We were sitting down to Family Home Evening, trying to get everyone listening, and then Phillip distracted everyone with an irrelevant comment. It was probably something funny, but still.

I shot him a dirty look so he said, "Okay, guys. Listen to your mother and not to me."

"We always do," my 14-year-old joked. Then she added, "Except for the listening part because we don't really do that very well, either."

And that's basically what it's like to live at my house.


My family is looking forward to this weekend. It's General Conference weekend! 

General Conference is a live broadcast from our church leaders with messages about Jesus Christ. I always come away inspired and encouraged. 

And in the current climate of worldwide affairs, I think that's something we all need. 

No matter what religion you belong to, you're invited to watch conference with my family on Saturday and Sunday. It's a live broadcast so your time zone matters, but here in New England it's from 12-2 and 4-6 both days, with a women's session on Saturday night from 8-9:30.

Our family usually watches conference on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' website or YouTube channel. We also like to watch while eating snacks, but you do you.

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Friday, September 25, 2020

7 Quick Takes about Baking Dish Fails, the Future of Flying Cars, and Business Names that Will Definitely Get You Sued

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


What happened? It was summer and when I blinked it turned into winter. In the same week, I put away the beach towels and took out the kids' gloves and hats.

Freezing my rear end off at my son's soccer game on Saturday morning, though, I realized something: masks in the winter are going to keep my face SO WARM. 

Silver linings, people.


Four of my kids are doing hybrid learning at the public school. Last week, they started online learning and this week they had their first few days of in-person school.

They claim it's not that different. According to my 12-year-old, "School is basically the same, we just stay apart and wear masks. You kind of forget you're wearing them after a while."

All I can say is that I'm glad it's not in-person every day. Getting everyone up, fed, dressed, giving the two big kids rides to school and getting the two younger ones on the bus is EXHAUSTING. Doing it 5 days a week is just excessive.


One hard thing about having a big family is answering the same question over and over. On Thursday a glass baking dish shattered in our oven while I was making dinner, which meant I had to hold a press conference about it afterward for every single person in the house.

By the time the last few stragglers came in asking what happened, all I could manage was an irritated, "It's broken glass, don't look at it and don't talk to me about it, let's eat what's left of our dinner."

And then there was cleanup. All of the sauce had splashed to the bottom of the oven when the dish broke, and then it cooled to a nice hard cement crust with shards of broken glass embedded in it. Cleaning it up was by far the least enjoyable way I've spent an evening this week.

Although if I'm being honest, who knows when the oven would've gotten cleaned otherwise?


I'm still learning how to use our minivan. I'm not used to the touchscreens and backup cameras and new-fangled gadgetry cars come with nowadays. 

My gearshift is actually a knob that you turn (FYI, car manufacturers: not a good idea because in the two months we've owned the car I've already had a passenger mistake it for the volume knob and switch gears while I'm driving.

The knob has five positions: 'park,' 'reverse,' 'neutral,' 'drive,' and 'L.'

Sometimes the kids will ask me what 'L' stands for. I'm not 100% sure, so I just tell them it stands for 'liftoff.' 

Someday when we're really late for something important, we'll try it out.


My mom sent us an Edible Arrangements, just because. It was such a nice surprise! We had it for a treat after Family Home Evening, which is like a weekly family devotional we do in our religion.

We talked about the second Article of Faith, and then we dug in:

The amount of stickiness my kids got on the floor and table after this impressed even me, and I've seen some things.

We were admiring how the different shapes were cut and one daughter commented, "We could make these, you know."

"What would we call our business?" I asked.

"Arranged Edibles," my 16-year-old suggested.

"Edible Rearrangements," my 14-year-old chimed in.

I think we might have some sort of copyright infringement lawsuit in our future.


Three of the kids are doing soccer this season, but with restrictions. They wear masks, play intra-town instead of against other schools, and they have to bring a "COVID card" to every practice and game.

The COVID card is a little index card with a checkbox of Coronavirus symptoms, and a parent must sign and date it to certify that their child is symptom-free. Theoretically, this should help limit the spread of the virus.

We keep a stack of them in a Ziploc bag near the door, and whenever I reach into it my first instinct is to lick my finger to get just one instead of a few stuck together. 

I'm trying. I promise I am.


The kids have been listening to a lot of "trap remixes" on YouTube (which sound to me like what I'd call "techno remixes," but I'm old so what do I know?)

They've started kind of an informal contest to see who can find the most bizarre one, the song you'd never, ever in a million years think "I definitely need to add a beat drop to this!" 

So far, it's a tie between Baby Shark and Scott Joplin's The Entertainer. The Internet is a weird, weird place.

My teenager also downloaded a remix app on her phone and is having fun ruining all my songs on the radio in the car by putting random techno sounds to them. Honestly, it reminds me a little of this:

Have a good weekend, guys!

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