Friday, June 18, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Yard Sales that Probably Weren't Worth It, The Purpose of Men's Formal Wear, and Saving the World One Paycheck at a Time

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


Remember the huge pile of decluttered items that's been sitting in the garage for months waiting for a good Saturday to hold a yard sale?

Well, we finally did it. The forecast called for some rain the night before, which apparently meant pouring all night and only stopping an hour before the sale was supposed to start. 

So with not much in the way of setup time, we were frantically pulling things out of boxes and throwing them out on the driveway as people were showing up. It was so stressful.

Come buy our crap! And it's not even our good crap, we keep that in the house!

As people bought stuff and carted it away, we kept unpacking more to put in its place. I lost count of the number of times people showed up and asked "Are you moving?" 

(The second comment I got a lot was "This is the most organized yard sale I've ever been to!" which was funny because I was so rushed tossing it out there I felt like my hair was on fire.)


We got rid of a ton, but by the time we closed down the sale and surveyed what was left, my 15-year-old remarked, "It looks like the yard sale hasn't even started yet." 

She was right: we had two yard sales' worth of stuff. I wish we would've had one more day, but we didn't and by my estimate we got rid of at least half of it.

We sold everything for $1, plus I gave away things for free and took any counteroffers I got, and we still made $670. 

When I take into account how much work and stress it involved, that was totally not worth it. But at least we got rid of things and there were a lot of happy people leaving with some pretty awesome deals.


The high point of the yard sale was how my 9-year-old set up a table and made a killing selling chocolate chip cookies. I love that entrepreneurial spirit.

They were really delicious cookies, and besides, who can say no to a cute little girl advertising her own homemade wares with a colorful sign covered in words like "Tasty!" "Yum!" and "Top-notch!"

And the low point of the yard sale? As one woman shopped and shopped and shopped, it became apparent we weren't dealing with an ordinary bargain hunter but with a genuine hoarding situation, and I could not get her to leave. 

After hours of trying to politely get her to move along, she did  but then she got more money from the bank and came back. She built up a giant pile of merchandise and tried to bargain with me for it, which I would've gladly parted with had it not felt too icky to enable her mental illness any longer. At this point, I just wanted to limit the amount of stuff she brought home and get her out of there.

I asked how much money she had and sat with her to count out that number of items (I first asked her to count by herself but she was cheating) and then told her she had to go home. I walked her to her car and was literally having to say "No" as she tried to stop and look at more stuff on her way up the driveway. It was really sad.


Phillip was getting ready for church the next day and asked, "Do you know why I wear a suit? To trick people into thinking I'm legitimate."

"To be honest, I think that's why most people wear suits," I said. Not just to church, but in pretty much any situation where a suit is worn.

"Yep," he nodded, looking in the mirror to tie his tie. "That's what a suit is: an illusion of competence."


My teenager is a cashier at the grocery store, and has told me before that she hates it when people make a big deal out of how amazing essential workers are. It makes her feel guilty because it's not like she's forgoing her paycheck out of a pure desire to serve her fellow man in times of crisis.

So when I was driving her to work and a commercial came on the radio thanking essential workers for their sacrifices over the last year, I jabbed her in the ribs and said, "Do you hear that? You're a hero."

"I know," she said with mock solemnity in her voice. "I just do what's right."

She's like Captain America over here.


Early one morning, my 7-year-old barged into the bedroom and woke me up. Apparently he'd been reading a book he got at the library called Timelines of Everything, because he announced "There was a president named" and started laughing too hard to talk.

I rubbed my eyes and wondered what was going on as he tried again: "There was a president named" again, doubled over in hysterical laughter.

With great difficulty, he finally got it out: "There was a president named" uncontrollable giggling "Herbert Hoover!"

I have no idea why that was funny, but I'm awake now.


Other than spending an inordinate amount of time and effort getting our junk out of this house (and a blog post about that is coming), we've also been helping our neighbors get ready to move. 

This week we've lent yard work manpower and and had their kids over while they dealt with movers and brought over assorted odds and ends as needed, and they drive away tonight! 

I'm going to miss them. It's been so nice to have someone so close who you can call when you're short an ingredient for baking or want to take a walk around the block: let's hope our next neighbors are good ones, too.

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Friday, June 11, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Apparently Being Married to Paul Rudd, Cooking New Foods, and Weaning Kids off of Screens with Mixed Results

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


My teenagers are huge fans of the Marvel movies. I don't do action movies, but my daughter was playing the Ant-Man soundtrack on the computer the other night and I said, "I kind of like this music. Do you think I'd like the movie?"

"I don't know, it's kind of dumb," she answered, and then paused. "Actually, Ant-Man reminds me a little bit of Dad... so maybe?"

When I watched the Ant-Man trailer on YouTube, they had me at the miniature fight scene on top of Thomas the Train. (Fun fact: I actually like action movies as long as they don't take themselves seriously.)

And my daughter was 100% right that it had a very Phillip vibe to it. There was one scene where Ant-Man seems to be especially channeling Phillip's overall demeanor, and then he made such a classic Phillip face that the kids and I simultaneously burst out laughing (5:55 here if you want to see what I'm talking about.)

"What?" Phillip asked us all.

"That face! You make that face!" we said, shaking with laughter.

"What face?"

So we watched it again and he was like, "I don't make that face! I wouldn't even know how to make that face."

He totally makes that face.


If you like regular criticism better than constructive criticism, you should probably be cooking dinner for my 7-year-old.

I made a new recipe for dinner this week, and he took one look at the deliciously crispy golden brown baked potato wedges and said in a disgusted-beyond-belief voice, "Are those destroyed potatoes??"


Since my kids' reaction to new foods is obviously so positive, I was hunting for other new recipes to try. 

Specifically, I was looking for ways to incorporate more fish in our diets. Upon Googling "tilapia recipes," these related searches came up:

So let me get this straight: you search the Internet for "tilapia recipes" and Google recommends questions like "is tilapia nasty?" and "why does tilapia taste so bad?" Who picked these related queries? My children?


In our family scripture study we read a verse said "gird up your loins," which I know means something like get to work, but I didn't really know why so I decided to look it up.

I thoroughly enjoyed this illustrated guide to girding up your loins on a website called Art of Manliness. I was laughing at the funny accompanying text, but then I noticed that the last sentence came verbatim from a very familiar LDS hymn and was like "waaaaiiit a minute..."

After a few minutes of detective work, I found that the owner of Art of Manliness was indeed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hooray for me and my detective skills.

I actually liked Art of Manliness long ago, and highly recommend it both for its entertainment value and its practical application. About 4 years ago, one of our kids locked a door at my mom's house from the inside and Phillip used an Art of Manliness article to figure out how to open it with some fishing line and a vacuum cord.


One thing no one ever tells you about raising a 17-year-old is that you'll be receiving a letter or email from each and every institution of higher education ever founded.

A lot of the colleges that try to recruit my daughter aren't local, aren't in her area of interest, and have no reason as far as I can see for us to even consider them other than the fact they sent us a shiny brochure... I have no idea why these places think it would be worth the price of postage to send us anything.

Some emails try to get creative with their subject lines so you maybe at least open them:

Screenshot from my daughter's email.

Nice try, Wellesley. But if you want my daughter, you're going to have to lower your tuition, and that likely means stopping your practice of sending mail to every high school junior on the face of the planet. That's got to be expensive.


I keep hearing so much about how kids need boredom and space to go out and use their creativity, but honestly two of my children have just been gravitating toward screens like zombies whenever they're bored and I'm over it.

Talking to them about it hasn't done much good, so we're trying the "cold turkey" approach. During "screen-free June," as I'm calling it, I'm hoping they'll figure out how to entertain themselves again.

It's sort of working.

When we had some curtain rods delivered, the 13-year-old cut the long box in half, spraypainted it, and made a tiny Among Us costume for his little brother.

My 5-year-old has obviously never played Among Us, but his older brother must have taught him a thing or two because I spied him in the yard, doing that cute bouncy walk the Among Us characters do with his brother behind him giving him tasks to do ("Water plants! Fill bird feeder!")

"See?" Phillip said, watching them out the window. "They can use their own creativity... to exactly duplicate something they saw on a screen."



Since the pandemic started I've been going through the drive-through at the bank, but this week I needed to go in to open a savings account for my 13-year-old.

They're still oddly strict about COVID protocol, and had a sign posted on the door that said "masks required at all times while in the branch."

I don't know, it's been a year and I still find it hilarious that they won't let you in the bank unless you're dressed up like a bank robber.

Okay, NOW we're ready to do some banking.

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Friday, June 4, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Hometown Heroes, Legitimate Reasons to Be Feel Melancholy, and Two Scheming 9-Year-Olds

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


So why does the Tesla logo look like a T-shirt?

My 13-year-old has become a Tesla detector and I'm not convinced about the logo.


To put this take in context, you need to know that 
  1. I come from a small town in Minnesota, and 
  2. I currently live in an even smaller town in New England.
My son started playing with another kid at the local playground, so I started chatting with his mom who said they are just traveling through the area. 

Over the course of small talk, we learned that we were both from Minnesota. (It actually wasn't hard to guess that part because accents.) But on further questioning, we realized we were both from the same small town in Minnesota.

I guess it would've been a slightly better story if she'd removed her sunglasses and suddenly revealed herself as my best friend from junior high. But even though that didn't happen, it was still such a bizarre coincidence.

In reality, I had graduated one year ahead of her so our paths never really crossed. "Your grade was SO cool," she told me, laughing.

Actually, I can tell you for a fact that we were not. But thanks.


A website called sounds creepy, but it's actually a non-creepy site for researching your genealogy. Volunteers take pictures of headstones and transcribe them, and you can search for your ancestors by just typing their names and whatever other information you might know about them.

As a service project, I headed out to a local cemetery this week with the group of teenage girls I lead at church to offer some volunteer power.

As we took pictures, it was reinforced to me how COOL it is to live in New England. The cemetery was so old... there's an entire plaque at the entrance dedicated to the American Revolution veterans buried there. I'll say it again for those in the back: the American Revolution.

I pass this place every day on my way to the library.

I'm not the biggest history buff in the world, but even I know that I'm incredibly lucky to live here.


My 9-year-old and 7-year-old lost teeth on the same day. It was really efficient, especially since I have two teenagers with much better memories than me who I asked to play tooth fairy that night.

Fun fact: if you ask a teenager to be the tooth fairy they'll fashion a pair of wings out of paper and wear it while they tiptoe into the room to sneak some money under the pillow. It's actually pretty fun to watch.


Often when he's bored, my 5-year-old will sit down at the computer desk and draw something. You never know what it's going to be.

I saw him working on this picture, and not having a clue what was going on I asked him to tell me about it.

"This guy is sad because he's in a tornado," he explained.

I guess that's understandable. He does look awfully put out while he's flying off the paper sideways.


I once heard that when you buy a pineapple, the sugar goes up the fruit and you can get it to ripen more evenly by turning it upside down. I'm pretty sure there's no scientific truth behind that, but when I buy pineapple I still put it upside down on the counter to ripen, anyway.

"Why's that pineapple upside down?" Phillip asked when he came home from work.

I waved my hand dismissively and said, "It would take too long to explain. It's an old wive's tale."

There was a silence, then Phillip pointed out the obvious. "Well... you are  an old wife."


My 9-year-old and her friend from school have been saving up for a set of BFF necklaces. You know the kind: each one has half of a heart and you can fit them together if you're standing right next to each other.

My daughter scrubbed down the inside of the fridge and vacuumed the van, and her friend did 20 smaller chores for a quarter each. 

It was so cute picturing them each working away at home to earn their half, and also cute when my daughter brought home her friend's $5 in quarters. Right away after school, she opened up Amazon (with my permission) and bought the necklace; it should be here on Thursday.

This is the necklace they chose, and honestly I couldn't imagine one more appropriate:

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Friday, May 28, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Tractor-Grade Spraypaint, Nature Sightings, and the Rising Generation of Scriptwriters for Feminine Hygiene Product Ads

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


As my son likes to remind me every 5 minutes, I'm 39 now!

We postponed celebrating my birthday because the actual day of my birthday (Saturday) was nuts because of a hundred soccer games plus some other stuff, but Sunday got off to a rocky start.

Phillip told me to sleep in and went to make my birthday breakfast in bed, when our youngest came in and asked for cereal. 

I told him that his dad was literally in the kitchen and would be happy to accommodate his request. He countered with the fact that he wanted me specifically to make it. 

I countered with something along the lines of "life's hard, get a helmet" to which he responded by throwing a fit and making us miss church.

Fun times, guys. Fun times.


Luckily, the day got better. The breakfast was tasty, and Phillip fulfilled both of my birthday requests. 

When he'd asked "What do you want for a birthday present?" I'd told him "To not have to think about it." And when he'd asked "What do you want for a birthday cake?" I'd answered "To not have to think about it."

(Seriously, husbands: your wife does so much planning for everything and everyone all the time, the greatest gift you can possibly give her is the ability to just show up and enjoy something  anything  that she had no part in putting together.)

And like I asked, I didn't have to think about either. 

Phillip's gift to me was spraypainting our Kitchen Aid, which we got back when we had a blue kitchen and... now it's a red kitchen and new Kitchen Aids aren't expensive. I've looked at online tutorials of painting your Kitchen Aid, but the ones I saw involved taping over all the metal and I never really liked the way those turned out.

Phillip of course saw his chance to take something apart, and the rest is history.

Picture of the old color for reference.

He disassembled everything, applied several coats of spraypaint, and then put all the metal parts back on. It looks AMAZING.

Now I may be actually motivated to change our 1995 forest green laminate countertops... at some point.

Phillip says the spraypaint he used is the kind they put on tractors, so maybe it will even hold up to being in this household.


The kids also made me birthday cards. They were all very nice but I wanted to highlight a few.

My 15-year-old's card congratulated me for having a birthday. As a reward, it suggested I look at this picture of a very clean room:

Next year, I'll ask for a VR version of this "clean room."

Then there was this card from my 17-year-old:

I may not have a clue about 70% of the things teenagers talk about nowadays, but I'm totally down with a 1980s nod to Freddie Mercury.


My 7-year-old came in and said, "Mo-ooooom, there's a big bug on the door outside..."

If this had been one of my other children I might've gone to see it, but to my 7-year-old what qualifies as a "big "bug" is anything large enough to be seen by the naked eye. He has a thing about bugs, and won't even go in a room where there is one. 

At the time I brushed it off, saying something like "Yes, there are lots of interesting bugs on God's green earth and you don't have to go by that door if you don't want to." 

Only later did I realize that we had a truly interesting visitor, indeed.

Luckily, it stayed around all day, sleeping. Even though one of my kids literally started poking it with a stick to get it to move.

The only place I've ever seen a luna moth is pinned in a natural history exhibit. It was so cool to see a real live one in nature! I didn't even know they lived in New England. When I Googled it I learned that they do, it's just rare to see them because they're nocturnal and their adult lives are only 5-7 days long. #themoreyouknow


It's been vaccination city here. I got my second dose, which was not fun at all. That night I had chills and nausea while I was trying to sleep, and in the morning I woke up with a splitting headache. 

I'm apparently also an idiot, because after I laid around dying for several hours I took some painkillers so I could run a necessary errand and quickly felt almost back to normal.

The older three kids are also eligible for the vaccines now and their appointments have all been this week or last week.

In fact, when my daughter stayed home from school the other day saying she felt sick I couldn't remember who'd gotten their shot when to judge whether it was vaccine side effects or she was actually ill.

That was the day I was on my deathbed from my second dose, though, so my difficulty doing the math was understandable.


I saw this notebook at Dollar Tree that made me chuckle "Ha ha, that's so me!" In fact I almost bought it, and then I realized I'd read the title wrong:

At first glance, I'd thought it said "Too Tired to Be Inspired," which is the opposite of what it actually says and a 100% Freudian slip (but with reading) on my part.


I lead the teenage girls at church, and the youth activity this week was an easy walk at a local hiking trail.

Part of the trail is a meadow where the grass right now is about waist-high, so just for kicks the other leader and I had them line up and we recorded a slow-motion video of them running/frolicking through the meadow.

When we gathered around to watch the video I commented that it looked like something from Little House on the Prairie and one of the girls corrected me: "No, it looks like a tampon commercial!"

Then they all started brainstorming the script out loud with each other, and let me tell you: teenagers are hilarious.

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Friday, May 21, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Helpful Signage, Bathroom Breaks, and How to Drive Your Mother Insane Using Only a Kickball

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


I've been decluttering like mad this week, methodically working through every room of the house. 

This week we made the decision to finally clear the attic of the outgrown kids' clothes we'd been saving just in case, and added them to the pile of yard sale merchandise in the garage.

I was fine when we moved all the boxes downstairs, but after it was finished I took one look at the rows of labeled baby and toddler things all lined up and burst into tears.

I'm sure she didn't understand what was going on (because I didn't, really,) but my 9-year-old came up and hugged me, explaining, "My job is to hug people when they're sad and make them feel better."

"Me, too!" yelled my 7-year-old, and joined in the group hug.

My 5-year-old, watching from his seat nearby, shook his head and said "I have no idea what my job is."


In the interest of working quickly, I've been doing most of the decluttering on my own while my kids reenact Lord of the Flies elsewhere in the house, but I did enlist their help when it was time to go through the toys in their rooms.

It went way better than I thought it would. 

I wanted to consolidate their two bins of Legos into one, so I dumped everything out and told them to fill one bin with their favorites. They happily cooperated, but then I realized I should probably start emphasizing that we weren't just throwing their stuff away: we were passing them on to other kids and they should feel good about that.

When we were done I said, "Wow! Now we can give these extra Legos to a kid who will be really happy to play with them! And we feel good when we make other people happy, right?"

With no coaching whatsoever, my 5-year-old said, "And I feel good when our room's not a dump!"

I don't know how he picked up on it, but that's actually the way I feel about decluttering the house, too. No matter what I say, the joy of giving is purely secondary to the joy of not living in a landfill.


In the last take I might have made the kids seem like they get along really well, which they do... except when they don't.

We continue to work on the "talk nice, be nice" rule, and in a moment of exasperation, my 7-year-old came up with the solution of taping this cautionary sign to his bedroom door:

"No entering unless you will be nice okay?"

A few days later, I noticed that someone else (I later learned it was the 5-year-old) had amended it:

Apparently the sign did not work.


Our soccer association changed the rules about mask-wearing. For the last two seasons, they've had to play while wearing face masks, and now the word is that they can take them off on the field (but still have to wear them on the sidelines.)

Whatever the logic behind this rule or the old rules or really anything since the beginning of the pandemic, the kids are thrilled.

I honestly don't know how they ever managed to do it. I was once in a setting where we were singing a song while masked, and the first time I took a deep breath I inhaled my mask and completely panicked. I have no idea how they've been running and panting while wearing face masks all this time.


We went on a family walk, but about 7 minutes in my first grader needed to go to the bathroom.

I told everyone else to go on without us and headed back home with him, stopping to say hi to someone I knew who was in her yard. When I excused us explaining that we were on a potty mission, she asked "Do you want to come in and use our bathroom?"

It was an attractive offer, much better than walking 7 minutes with a kid who might or might not make it in time, so we took her up on it.

Phillip was surprised when we caught up with him and the rest of the kids after just a few minutes. "How did you make it back here so fast?"

"I've got friends everywhere," I said. "We used someone's bathroom." 

Phillip raised an eyebrow and didn't ask any more questions; I think he assumed that was code for "I took him to pee discretely behind a tree."


Well, my 5-year-old is definitely not afraid of snakes. He was following me around the other day as I was pulling weeds in the yard and we saw a snake. It was a tiny one, must have been a baby, and he had a grand old time poking at it, following it as it slithered through the grass, and generally harassing it.

I continued pulling up weeds while he was enthralled by the snake, until he came over to me a minute later calmly reporting that it had bitten him on the finger.

"Is there a mark?" I checked him over but didn't see one, so I told him "I think the snake is getting annoyed and that was its way of telling you it wants to be left alone. Let's give it a break."

He ran off to play but I guess the pull of the snake was too strong, because he came back a minute later saying, "The snake bit my finger and this time I had to shake it off."

I tell you, this kid has zero sense of self-preservation.


We have this narrow garden bed beside our driveway that hasn't had plants in it for a few years, and the kids have gotten used to walking through it, sort of how normal people would use a sidewalk. 

Which was fine at the time, but I finally put some perennials in there and now the kids are trampling them. I hammered some tall wooden stakes around the bed to remind them to stay out, but it was pretty ugly and only minimally successful, so for an early birthday present I asked for one of those short decorative garden fences.

After I put it in (which took 40 minutes because New England soil is really rocky,) I was pretty happy. It's thin and unobtrusive, metal so we can bend it back into shape when someone runs into it, and it's about 15" high to keep the kids out. This was going to work great.

My 7-year-old, who'd been playing with a ball in the driveway, came over to inspect my handiwork but he had a concern.

"What if my ball goes in there like this?" he asked with his voice full of innocence, then threw his ball over the fence and looked expectantly at me.

I know my children like to test me, but wow.

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Friday, May 14, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Being the Old Couple on Campus, Finding the Meaning of Life (Or Not), and Making New Friends

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


Phillip and I are back from Utah. His sister's wedding was beautiful. They were married in the Provo City Center temple, which has an interesting story. 

It used to be a regular old meetinghouse called the Provo Tabernacle, where Phillip and I sometimes attended church conferences and devotionals 15 years ago, but after a fire in 2010 they built it back as a temple. 

It was fun to see it in person after the transformation, and having not been in any temple for over a year due to Coronavirus it felt like a very special privilege to go inside and see our sister and new brother-in-law's sealing.

The Provo City Center temple is near where we used to live as college students, so after the sealing we took a stroll around town and the campus of Brigham Young University to see how things had changed.

Getting old is weird. In a lot of ways, it doesn't feel like it's been a long time since I was a college student. But walking around the BYU campus, I was very aware of two things:
  1. All the students were oddly closer to my kids' age than mine
  2. When the college kids looked up, they saw "an old couple walking around campus" even though I totally did not feel like the old couple walking around campus
It's a beautiful campus, though, and we had a nice time. The whole trip to Utah, while slightly anxiety-provoking because of COVID and wanting to be extra-cautious not to bring it home with us, was a wonderful time to see family.


Soon afterward it was back home to regular life, where my 5-year-old had apparently been asking himself the big questions.

I was getting something out of the garage before running some errands when he appeared in the doorway eating a granola bar and asked, "What even is the point of life?"

"That's a good question," I said. "What do you think the point of life is?"

"I don't know."

"Some people think different things, but I think the point of life is to help people and try to be like Jesus."

He looked unconvinced, and said, "I don't think there is one."

"Well," I said, realizing that this philosophical discussion was not going anywhere, "Right now the point of life is to get to the UPS store to return this Amazon package before the code expires, so get in the car."

Actually, I didn't say the last part out loud, but it was kind of nonverbally implied.


My son has a new toy courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa. It's a set of 5 trucks you can assemble into a giant robot. 

The funniest part is, the box calls it the "PEACE DEFENDER ROBOT." I'm guessing the awkward-sounding name is probably to justify the weaponry.

Be right there, guys, I'm just attaching my peace bazooka.

As you know, I've been super-interested in minimalism lately and am not a fan of any object that takes up physical space at the moment, but I'm actually okay with this toy{affiliate link.} It's just the right level of challenge to keep my 5-year-old occupied for hours, poring over the instructions and disassembling and reassembling everything with his little screwdriver.


Speaking of defending the peace (or maybe not,) I'm finding these all over the house.

Just in case you wondered what a machine gun made out of tinker toys would look like.

Yesterday when I went to go put someone's laptop in its charging spot, I opened the drawer and found it full of colorful plastic handguns.


Since everything shut down for Coronavirus over a year ago, my youngest child has played A LOT with his siblings but hasn't had much chance to meet kids his age or make friends outside the family. 

I haven't been too worried, but it's been so adorable watching him have his first few real social experiences.

A few weeks ago we got together with my 9-year-old's friend who has a brother about his age, and they hit it off immediately. This week we met them at the playground.

On the way there, my son said with characteristic optimism, "I think me and Alexander are probably going to be best friends."

"You certainly did get have fun together when we went to their house," I agreed.

"Yeah, we didn't even have any  rude with each other! We just played the whole time!" 

Which I guess must be kind of a mind-blowing experience after only playing with siblings for a year. They love each other, but there's often a fair amount of "rude" mixed in.


Our basement is still stairless, and Phillip is working on the new ones. Unfortunately, he spends a lot of his time being employed and that really slows down all the fantastic home improvements we've got planned.

Eventually we'll have stairs again, but for now we've gotten mostly used to physically leaving the house to re-enter the basement through the walkout stairs in back to watch a movie. 

I've taken to calling those doors 'our private theater entrance,' which sounds very sophisticated when I mention it to other people at the country club. 


Lastly, for a bonus can anyone guess what's inside this package? Zero points if you just Google the company name. That doesn't count.

Most oddly-shaped package delivered to our house in a while.

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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?


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.)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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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