Saturday, June 22, 2019

This Summer I Plan To Travel the Globe With My Kids (Sort Of)

Summertime, and the livin' is easy. Sort of. In our house, summer vacation is also a lot of work.

For the last 8 summers (not including the one where I had a baby and took a break) the kids and I have "visited" a different country every week of summer vacation. Not literally, but figuratively, in an educational sense of the word.

We use the Internet and especially the public library to talk about the geography, culture, and people of our country of the week. We listen to the music, learn a little of the language, and attempt to replicate a national dish or two.

Suit up for our annual around-the-world summer learning! Recaps at Unremarkable Files every Saturday. #aroundtheworld #educational #summer #kids

By the end of the summer, I'm exhausted. It's less expensive than actually planning a trip around the world but probably the same amount of work.

We've baked melomakarona in Greece:

Suit up for our annual around-the-world summer learning! Recaps at Unremarkable Files every Saturday. #aroundtheworld #educational #summer #kids

Made koi hangers in Japan:

Suit up for our annual around-the-world summer learning! Recaps at Unremarkable Files every Saturday. #aroundtheworld #educational #summer #kids

And attempted a baking soda volcano in Chile:

Suit up for our annual around-the-world summer learning! Recaps at Unremarkable Files every Saturday. #aroundtheworld #educational #summer #kids
This did not go well, by the way.

This summer we're back at it again.

Do I sometimes question whether it's worth it? YES.

But when we put up the big wall map and all the flags we've made during all the previous summers and the kids start saying things like "remember when...?" I know we all secretly love it.

Even me.

Suit up for our annual around-the-world summer learning! Recaps at Unremarkable Files every Saturday. #aroundtheworld #educational #summer #kids
There are other flags posted on the rest of the walls, but I'm not showing pictures because the kids put them up crooked and it makes my eye twitch.

Every Saturday this summer, I'll post a recap of our week on the blog. Of course you're free to use our resources to do the same thing at home with your own kids, but more likely what you'll want to do is just laugh along at our Pinterest fails, and that's okay.

We're visiting five countries this summer, each one chosen by one of my older five kids (the youngest still just points at everything on the map and says "This is Russia!") and plugged it into a summer schedule that works for us this year:

Suit up for our annual around-the-world summer learning! Recaps at Unremarkable Files every Saturday. #aroundtheworld #educational #summer #kids
Graphic design by my 13-year-old. Did I mention how much easier it is now that the kids are old enough to help plan all this?

June 24-29   New Zealand
July 1-5   Poland
August 5-10   Vietnam
August 12-15   Panama
August 27-31   Rwanda

Library, get ready for us to single-handedly double your circulation numbers. Here we come.

See you next Saturday for our first around-the-world recap of 2019!

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Friday, June 21, 2019

7 Quick Takes about Questionable Ways to Name Something, Night Hikes, and Children That May or May Not Be Related to You

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

1


Our traditional Father's Day gift was a hit yet again this year: we told Phillip to go take a Father's Day nap while we cleaned out his car.

To understand this, you need to know that (1) Phillip doesn't get enough sleep and (2) his car is like a black hole. Nothing escapes it.

So he really appreciates that once a year, we remove all the flatware, loose change, odds and ends from the hardware store, random trash, and items Phillip means to return to the store that have accumulated over the last 12 months while he was busy dealing with other things.

We detail the whole car inside and out, leaving a new container of gum in the cupholder and a new air freshener on the dashboard. This year's scent was called "new car smell," which sadly Phillip's car will likely never be mistaken for no matter how it smells. But it's the thought that counts.

2


A few years ago, the Natural Environment Research Council in Britain held a contest to name a new $300 million research ship.

Notwithstanding that the NERC is a serious environmental science organization, the Internet banded together and overwhelmingly voted to name the vessel Boaty McBoatface.

I'll give you a minute to compose yourself.

I tell you this because right now at Phillip's workplace, they're building two new conference rooms and running a similar contest for the employees to give them names.

I told Phillip to suggest the "Phillip G. Evans Center for Really Good Ideas" and lobby his co-workers to vote for it. We'll see what happens, but I for one cannot wait for him to have his own named conference room.

If you're still laughing about Boaty McBoatface, here's a funny article about it that will make you laugh harder (slight language warning.)

3


Here at home, I've been hard at work passing my neuroses on to my children as mothers have done since the beginning of time (anyone else afraid of bird feathers because your mom freaked out when you touched one?)

After a particularly nasty bout with a poison ivy rash last month, I've been teaching the kids to identify and steer clear of the devil plant like it's a part-time job.

My 5-year-old is constantly pointing out poison ivy now, and I've subsequently realized how much of it is around the edges of the yard. A lot of it is near where they play or wait for the school bus, so I decided to suit up and remove as much of it as I could in those areas.

I was as careful as one can possibly be. I wore all long sleeves. I wore disposable gloves which I duct taped to my wrists. I tied plastic bag around my shoes to avoid getting the oil on anything I can't throw in the washing machine.

I made sure none of the oil on the plant could possibly touch me, and just to be sure I scrubbed my hands three times after I was done and then got in the shower to scrub down the rest of me three more times.

I still got a reaction.

This time it's not a rash or even localized. It's just a vague itchiness with random itchy bumps that appear and disappear within a few hours or days, which seems to be my histamines' way of running around in circles screaming "AAAAAAAHHHH!" while alarms go off.

Of course, while I was shuffling around my yard in long sleeves in 70-degree weather with English muffin bags tied to my feet, someone had to pull in our driveway and ask for directions. To the driver's credit, he acted like there was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about my appearance.

4


In the kitchen the other day, Phillip and I were talking and I can't remember the particular reason why, but he finished his story by saying "I'm an old man."

"You're a sexy old man, though," I pointed out.

"Shh! Our daughter is right there," he whispered, pointing to our 15-year-old perched on the other side of the room reading a book.

Because one of the prerogatives of being a teenager's mom is being annoying on purpose, I said loudly to my daughter, "Hey, did you know that your dad is a sexy old man?"

Unrattled by my attempt to gross her out, she quickly answered "Good for him." Then, looking up from her book, she added, "And good for you, I suppose."

Then she went back to reading.

5


Living in New England for the last ten years, we've actually been lucky not to deal with any tick-borne illnesses.

Look at any Lyme disease map of the U.S. and all of New England is basically outlined in red while the rest of the country looks on in horror.

Laugh and cry at this week's installment of 7 Quick Takes, the diary of the misadventures of the Unremarkable Files family of 8. This is the funniest blog about big families you'll read all week. #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #funny
Figure 1: Places you shouldn't live.
courtesy Wikimedia Commons

So it was unfortunate but not a total surprise when on Tuesday, we realized we were dealing with our first case of Lyme disease.

Our 5-year-old had been feverish and lethargic since Sunday, and when he started complaining that his neck hurt I checked him for a rash and found a golf ball-sized one on his arm. It didn't look like a typical bullseye rash yet, but I think that's because we caught it so early.

The pediatrician put us on antibiotics right away and he's feeling better already, and since we treated it so quickly he should fully recover without any of the long-term effects you hear about when people aren't diagnosed for weeks, months, or years.

There should also be an antibiotic for the guilt of not finding the tick on your child in the first place, which can be as small as a grain of pepper so it's really easy to miss even if you try your hardest to be vigilant about it.


6


At this very moment, my 15-year-old is eating breakfast after having gone with a church group on a "night hike."

When she first mentioned a night hike I said something like "sounds like fun!" but I didn't realize what it meant until she actually started packing.

"Wait. So you're getting up at 1 AM and hiking up to the top of a mountain?"

"Yes."

"In the dark?"

"I told you it was a night hike, right?"

"Well... I thought you meant, like, a figurative night hike. Like at sunrise or something. Or that you were camping at night and hiking in the morning."

The fact that she still wanted to go, even though the point of the entire activity was climbing a 3,000 foot mountain at 1 in the morning and even though it was raining, conclusively proves she was switched at birth and cannot possibly be mine.

7


On the other hand, I know for sure my 1st grader and I are related.

School is finally over and among the truckload of papers and smooshed crafts she brought home was her writing journal for this year.

It was fun to page through it and look at the stories she wrote about "what I did this weekend" or "my favorite __________."

I particularly liked this one:

Laugh and cry at this week's installment of 7 Quick Takes, the diary of the misadventures of the Unremarkable Files family of 8. This is the funniest blog about big families you'll read all week. #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #funny
Awwww.

But I digress: the reason her writing journal proves to me we're related is that regardless of the prompt, she managed to make half of it about how much she loved ice cream. She's definitely mine.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Friday, June 14, 2019

7 Quick Takes about Important Map Reading Skills, Things Only Slightly Less Scary Than Major Surgery, and the False Advertising on a Butter Dish

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

1


I put up our giant wall map of the world in the dining room to drum up enthusiasm for the educational around-the-world trip we do every summer. We start with New Zealand on the 24th!

My 5-year-old was looking at the map one day and asked, pointing at the bottom, "What's that?"

"It's a compass rose," I told him. "It tells you which way is north, south, east, and west."

Pointing in each direction in turn, he replied "I only know left and right and backwards and straight."

Which is pretty good for a 5-year-old, I think. I'm 37 and still mix up my right and left.

2


Phillip has been taking voice lessons for a year and has recitals all the time, but this time he roped me into it, too.

A few months ago he approached me all excited saying, "I found a nice duet of Abide With Me [a church song.] Want to sing it with me?" Falling prey to his enthusiasm, I said yes before realizing that would also mean performing it in front of live people.

I suppose I've got a decent voice, but it's totally untrained. I've only sung in high school and church choirs (where the bar is admittedly not very high, they literally have to let everyone in.) And never having done anything like this before, this was completely terrifying.

The two events I've most dreaded in my life have been my impending C-section with #5 and this duet, I'm not even joking.

But once we got up there it was actually fun, and I don't think we sounded half bad.

(It also helped that our daughters were accompanying us on the violin and piano, so the Von Trapp cuteness factor canceled out a lot of our mistakes in the eyes of the audience.)

3


On top of being scared out of my mind for the voice recital, I'd also been in the end-of-the-school-year crunch all day (no, we're still not done with school... almost, though.) I'd just finished giving my millionth ride of the day to a short person needing to be dropped off at an extra-curricular, and I was a little high-strung.

"Pretty stressed, huh?" Phillip asked.

I nodded.

"But it's going to better after today is over with, right?"

"I think so," I said. "Then again, I've been saying that for about ten years."

Not complaining, I realize I chose this busy life. I'm just making an observation about how I cope with adulthood.

4


The person who owned our house before us must have liked to garden, which is both good and bad.

It's good because without the tons of perennials she planted, our yard would be mostly dirt and crabgrass.

It's bad because I personally don't like gardening, and even if I did, I've been too busy having babies for the last 10 years to keep up the flowerbeds around our house. They've been completely neglected for a decade as a matter of survival.

But last year I decided to concentrate on restoring one bed per summer, without spending too much money or hiring anyone, and so far I'm pretty pleased with the results.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week? This 7-day recap of the 8-person Unremarkable Files family will make you laugh, cry, and probably feel a whole lot more normal. #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #lifewithkids
This is AFTER I'd already pulled out 10 years' worth of weeds and relocated a bunch of perennials from elsewhere in the yard.

The other day I dropped my kids off with a friend and went to the house of someone I know from church who offered me some plant starts. I went home and spent the rest of the morning working in the flowerbed until I had to go pick my kids up again.

THIS IS NOT NORMAL FOR ME. I have written an entire blog post about how the last thing I'd ever do with my free time is go outside and garden.

I suppose the moral of the story is to never say never, especially when that "never" involves moving two cubic yards of mulch by yourself.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week? This 7-day recap of the 8-person Unremarkable Files family will make you laugh, cry, and probably feel a whole lot more normal. #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #lifewithkids
Feel free to imagine me spreading this huge pile of mulch to a dramatic rendition of Celine Dion singing "All By Myself." I know I did.

Someday I'll get around to posting an 'after' picture of the finished flowerbed (maybe,) but I've never been a DIY blogger and this is one reason why. I never remember the photos.

5


Last week I accidentally knocked our butter dish off the counter and broke it, so I've been shopping for a new one.

When I ordered one, Amazon suggested Subscribe & Save, an option that delivers the item at set intervals like monthly or every 6 months. You laugh, but considering how often we break stuff around here that might not be such a bad idea.

To help me make my decision, I read several online reviews of various butter dishes and this one was probably the most helpful:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week? This 7-day recap of the 8-person Unremarkable Files family will make you laugh, cry, and probably feel a whole lot more normal. #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #lifewithkids
I mean, I kind of have to buy it now, right?

Imagine my surprise when the butter dish arrived a few days later and instead of opening up the box and achieving Nirvana, I actually saw this:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week? This 7-day recap of the 8-person Unremarkable Files family will make you laugh, cry, and probably feel a whole lot more normal. #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #lifewithkids
Probably my fault for buying the red one instead of the seafoam green one in the review.

I didn't remove anything for the picture, by the way. It seriously came like this. Not a scrap of packing material to be seen... just a ceramic butter dish rattling around in the box it was loosely thrown into. I really can't figure out who thought that would be a good idea.

6


Our 15-year-old wanted to go to a friend's graduation party, but the friend lives way out in the boonies so Phillip and I decided to drop her off and make a date of it while she was at the party.

Maybe because we're on a home improvement kick after redoing the garden and putting new blinds in our bedroom, or maybe it's because there's a broken spring in our couch so sitting on it is way more exciting than it needs to be (will I plummet straight through to the floor this time?) but we decided to go couch shopping.

We didn't buy anything, but the furniture store we visited was nice and we enjoyed the ambiance of the upscale water feature near the entrance.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week? This 7-day recap of the 8-person Unremarkable Files family will make you laugh, cry, and probably feel a whole lot more normal. #7quicktakes #7qt #unremarkablefiles #lifewithkids
Phillip trying to get us kicked out of the furniture store.

There were tags on several pieces of furniture advertising a "Goof Proof" guarantee, and it took me a little while to realize that they didn't actually say "Goat Proof." Apparently I've been reading too much Inspector Flytrap with my 1st grader.

7


Many of our plates, silverware, and glasses have broken or gone missing over the years, and we're perpetually short on tableware at every meal.

I was excited when Phillip found some amazing clearance dishes to replace our plates, but I really outdid myself on the silverware and glasses.

First of all, I realized I could save a lot of money by just finding some at JCPenney.com that matched our current patterns and not having to buy as much. And then I stacked a bunch more deals on top of that:
  1. I used a J.C. Penney Father's Day coupon code for 20% off.
  2. I went through my favorite online deal site Mr. Rebates, which gives me 8% cashback on all my J.C. Penney purchases (they'd just increased it from 4%, too.)
  3. I paid using a gift card I'd bought at a 10% discount during a Father's Day promotion at the grocery store last week.
  4. I'd bought the gift card with my cashback credit card, which normally pays 1% purchases but designates a 5% category of retailers every quarter and this quarter it was... wait for it... grocery stores. Where I bought the gift card.
So basically, I think I earned money from that purchase. And I totally cashed in on Father's Day discounts even though they had nothing to do with gifts for Phillip. #sorrynotsorry

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Letter to the Mom Who Finds Herself Parenting a Teenager and Is Totally Lost

Dear Bewildered New Mom of a Teenager,

Right about now, you're wondering why everyone told you for so many years that "it gets easier." You assumed you'd never again be as tired as you were during the newborn years, because that's what everyone said.

How were you supposed to know that parenting a teenager would be the most exhausting thing you've ever done?

In their own way, I suppose people tried to warn you. But when they eyed your family and said "Oh, just wait until they're teenagers!" you ignored them because you just knew: it would be different for you.

Your child was younger then, and you couldn't imagine that the fountain of his enthusiasm and affection would ever slow to a trickle (at least for you) or that one day there would be silence in the car.

Even at 9 or 10, the baby roundness hadn't completely left your son's face. At 11 or 12, your daughter still sometimes slipped her hand in yours while you were walking.

One day she was giving you sticky kisses and peppering you with a million questions about snakes, and then she wasn't anymore. It doesn't seem fair. You want to shake your fist at the sky and yell "I've been robbed!" because that's how it feels.

Sometimes you find yourself annoyed with this strange creature who's taken up residence in your child's body, eating your food and rolling its eyes at your four decades of wisdom.

Sometimes the only sound that escapes your child's lips all day is a sigh so exasperated it makes you understand why people anciently married off their children as soon as they hit puberty.

But more often, it just makes you sad.

It's not like you didn't know your child would grow up. You've been assigning chores and teaching life skills for a decade, all to get him ready to leave the nest.

The thing is, you weren't prepared for the leaving to start so soon. You thought you had more time.

You didn't know you'd start missing your child while he's still living under your roof.

You didn't know how many family dinners you'd have without him at the table, how many pieces of him would be scattered all over at school, at play practice, at cross-country and at work.

You didn't know how much you'd look forward to family vacations simply because you miss feeling like a family.

Sometimes you feel like you traded everything you loved about motherhood for... well, you're not sure yet. You don't really know what the parent of a teenager is supposed to do.

If only there was a playgroup for moms like us, only instead of trading potty training tips and outgrown onesies we could tell each other how we raise these almost-adults who wear bigger shoes than us but still need reminders about basic hygiene.

But we're too busy shuttling those almost-adults from one thing to another, not that we could really talk about their problems, anyway.

A teenager's struggles are too personal, both for them and for us, so we keep quiet. We bear their burdens alone, we pray, and we worry.

We worry about what they're thinking when they're quiet. 

We worry about the pressures they face. 

We worry about their safety in a car full of 16-year-olds. 

We doubt ourselves and whether we're raising our teenagers all wrong, whether we're providing too much structure or not enough, whether we're too late to correct our mistakes.

We nervously count down the years until they leave the house and wonder if they'll be ready.

And secretly, we wonder if we will.

New Mom of a Teenager, I don't have any wisdom to offer you. But know I'll be up late tonight just like you will.

I'll think of you as we get in our cars way past our bedtimes to pick up our not-so-little kids, practically propping our eyes open with toothpicks and navigating this heart-breaking foreign territory that is figuring out how to let go of our babies.

It didn't "get easier," but that was never why we signed on to be mothers in the first place, was it?

Sincerely,
Jenny from Unremarkable Files

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Monday, June 3, 2019

7 Quick Takes about Things That Don't Impress My 7-Year-Old, an Honest Mistake, and Basically a Lot of Cake

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

1


I have a thing for food photography. To me, there is something so pretty about the different colors and textures of foods, especially the raw ingredients in the pan or one the cutting board before cooking.

I was scrolling through my phone, hunting for some new recipes, and when I came to this picture I said out loud to my family, "I love looking at pictures of food. Look at this! Isn't it beautiful?"



Unimpressed, my 7-year-old glanced at it, shrugged her shoulders, and replied "I only like looking at pictures of cake."

2


Speaking of cake, one of our kids had a birthday party last Friday night. It was an evening party and by the time the last guest had gone home and our kids were all asleep, Phillip and I were so exhausted we cleaned up absolutely nothing and just went to bed.

When I got up on Saturday morning, I realized that the leftover cake was still sitting out on the dining room table, and all of the kids had eaten breakfast while staring at it. And the cake was still there.

(Full disclosure: it was about half the size it had been the night before. But it was there.)

3


At any given time, I'm usually working on at least a few read-aloud books with my older kids. Right now, I'm reading A Series of Unfortunate Events with my 13-year-old.

We recently finished book 7, which was a good story but unfortunately the copy we checked out from the library stank. Not an ordinary "musty old book from the library" smell, either. It was a kind of metallic, sour smell... kind of like if a robot had thrown up in it.

I laughed so hard at this week's 7 Quick Takes from Unremarkable Files. 7QT is the weekly recap of her crazy 8-person family, and there's always something hilarious going on at her house. #7qt #7quicktakes #funny #bigfamily
A Series of Unfortunate Smells.

What was worse, I couldn't pinpoint the source of the smell right away. In fact, for the first three-quarters of the book I thought it was my daughter, since she was always sitting right next to me whenever I smelled it!

I've since apologized for unjustly accusing her of stinking, and promised I won't do it again. I even did a thorough sniff test of book 8 before checking it out from the library, just in case.

4


Now that I've reached a certain age, it's time for the "random complaints about my health" portion of 7 Quick Takes.

I'm still recovering from the poison ivy from Hades. Steroids took the edge off, but a few times a day I still want to climb in a full-body scratching machine (and if that is a real thing, my family missed a birthday gift opportunity, big time.)

I've still got some unexplained pigmented spots near my jaw after a year of going around in circles with the dermatologist, and then for about four days a rash that looked like rosacea spread across my face, too.

My 7-year-old peered closely at me one morning before leaving for school and asked, "What's been going wrong with you? Lately you've never been perfectly fine."

Funny, because her dad was just asking me the same thing.

5


My 11-year-old came home and all he could talk about was a song called "Old Town Road." I didn't think much of it but then I saw some memes about it on Facebook and realized this was a widespread phenomenon.

I don't really get it, though.

Usually those viral kid songs are super-annoying, like "Daddy Finger" or "Baby Shark." But this just sounds like... a regular song. I wouldn't mind listening to it on repeat. I mean, it's not my favorite, but it's not really something that would drive me crazy, either. Am I missing something?


But not to worry, my son must have instinctively known "Old Town Road" wasn't annoying enough, so he used the computer to speed up the song to Alvin-and-the-Chipmunks levels and plays that version on repeat all day long.

Good times.

6


Along with the perfectly neutral-smelling Series of Unfortunate Events book, I randomly grabbed some picture books off the shelf and ended up with one called The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

It's the epic story of three warriors who finally meet an equal in each other, and it is completely hilarious.

I laughed so hard at this week's 7 Quick Takes from Unremarkable Files. 7QT is the weekly recap of her crazy 8-person family, and there's always something hilarious going on at her house. #7qt #7quicktakes #funny #bigfamily
So absurd...

I laughed so hard at this week's 7 Quick Takes from Unremarkable Files. 7QT is the weekly recap of her crazy 8-person family, and there's always something hilarious going on at her house. #7qt #7quicktakes #funny #bigfamily
...and yet so hilarious.

When I read it to my 3- and 5-year-old they instantly loved it (probably because it said "underwear") but I was the one who was laughing out loud. I think I liked it more than they did, actually.

If the idea of this book intrigues you, you should probably (1) check out my post about 10 kids' bedtime stories I have loved, and (2) consider buying a copy through my affiliate link here. You won't be sorry.

7


Okay, one more Quick Take about cake.

For my son's Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet, each boy was asked to bring a cake representing a word from the Scout Law.

His word was "helpful," so he decided to make a regular round cake and put a rope and pulley on the top. Because simple machines are helpful, get it?

I didn't buy a boxed mix at the store ahead of time, so I told him to find a cake recipe online. I needed to put someone down for a nap, so I told him to gather the ingredients and read all the instructions while I was gone to make sure he understood what to do.

When I came back downstairs, I clapped my hands together and said, "Okay, let's get started! What's first?"

"Sift the flour into a bowl"

"Skip that part. We don't need a flour sifter. We're not that fancy."

"...The recipe says 'yes, you have to sift.'"

I laughed so hard at this week's 7 Quick Takes from Unremarkable Files. 7QT is the weekly recap of her crazy 8-person family, and there's always something hilarious going on at her house. #7qt #7quicktakes #funny #bigfamily

FINE.

So we did, and the cake turned out great. My son did a really nice job, with minimal help from me, and he made homemade frosting, too.

Still not convinced that the sifting was absolutely necessary (as I'm not sure that any sifting is absolutely necessary,) but all's well that ends well.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Friday, May 31, 2019

7 Quick Takes about Birthday Gifts, a Bunch of Theater Performances, and the Key to Happiness (Apparently)

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

1


Well, we had just about the nicest Memorial Day you could ever hope for. Everyone was home, which doesn't happen very often when you've got school-aged children in May, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

In the morning, Phillip went to play basketball and I took the kids to the playground right across the street. When he was done, we sat in the shade by the curb and waited for the Memorial Day parade to go past so we could wave at our 9th-grader, who was marching with the band.

After lunch, we spent a few hours at the beach with some friends and it felt so nice to be outside I never wanted to leave.

Ten years ago I used to feel sorry for people who had "nothing" to do on holidays, but now that I'm the parent of a family who is busy all the time, I know it's actually the best thing in the world.

2


We also celebrated my birthday on Memorial Day. My actual birthday was last Wednesday, but when you have a bunch of school-aged kids in May you can only get the entire family in the same room about once a week if you're lucky.

I loved Phillip's gift, mostly because Phillip knows me well enough to realize that telling me he got a great deal on my gift is like a gift in itself.

I get super-excited about saving money on stuff, and this means I get all the exultation of scoring a great deal without any of the work involved in tracking one down.

Anyway, I've had my eye on some new dishes for a while and Phillip found them on clearance at Kohl's for $11.

Eleven dollars, people.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! This is the place to catch up on the week's funny quotes from my kids, relatable parenting moments, and the spring chaos in the Unremarkable Files household.  #7qt #7quicktakes #unremarakblefiles #funny #relatable

Then we had brownies and my favorite mint ice cream in my brand-new dishes.

Bonus: our old dishes were too deep to lick the last dregs of ice cream out of the bowl, but these are much shallower profile so I was able to enjoy every last drop of my birthday ice cream.

3


From the kids, I received some sweet DIY birthday coupons (not these, but almost as good) and a few other handmade gifts.

My 11-year-old made me a personalized, moving e-card using computer programming, which was pretty cool.

My 7-year-old made and illustrated this book for me:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! This is the place to catch up on the week's funny quotes from my kids, relatable parenting moments, and the spring chaos in the Unremarkable Files household.  #7qt #7quicktakes #unremarakblefiles #funny #relatable
The cover.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! This is the place to catch up on the week's funny quotes from my kids, relatable parenting moments, and the spring chaos in the Unremarkable Files household.  #7qt #7quicktakes #unremarakblefiles #funny #relatable
I love that she is thanking me for doing the vacuuming.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! This is the place to catch up on the week's funny quotes from my kids, relatable parenting moments, and the spring chaos in the Unremarkable Files household.  #7qt #7quicktakes #unremarakblefiles #funny #relatable
The time I sewed her doll that was coming apart at the seams — see Take #6 here for the full story.

She even had her older brother help her write up a table of contents to put at the beginning. It was legit.

4


Phillip and I really enjoyed going to see our 15-year-old in her school play.

We left the 13-year-old in charge at home and it was sort of like a date, if on a date you also swing by the town dump first to drop something off. #marriedlife

Later I wished we'd attended the following night's performance, because my daughter told us that when the female lead Caitlyn kissed the male lead, Caitlyn's 7-year-old sister could clearly be heard in the audience exclaiming "EEEEEEWWW!"

5


We also watched a friend from church perform in a kids' community theater production of Les Mis, and though Les Mis sounds like a pretty ambitious musical to pull off using only cast members under the age of 19, they did a phenomenal job.

I've never seen a collection of teenagers with such incredible voices, in particular the kid who played Enjolras, the leader of the French revolution. He was only a junior in high school but had the kind of voice that was so big it wasn't that much of a stretch to picture him as an opera singer.

I asked him after the show how long he'd been singing, and he said he'd never taken a voice lesson in his life. Some people are just born amazing, I guess.

6


I received this in the mail from a bank that wants me to apply for their credit card.

For the first 6 months they will only charge me a low, low rate of 3.99% on my purchases, and if that alone isn't enough to convince me, just look at this happy gal chillaxing in a canoe! I could be her!

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! This is the place to catch up on the week's funny quotes from my kids, relatable parenting moments, and the spring chaos in the Unremarkable Files household.  #7qt #7quicktakes #unremarakblefiles #funny #relatable
Clearly thrilled to be in debt.

I didn't know paying an extra 4% on all your monthly purchases could be so liberating. Apparently, I'm doing life all wrong. SIGN ME UP.

7

I went clothes shopping, which is something I only do once every couple of years because I don't like doing it.

But I tried to enjoy the process as much as I could. I went to my favorite thrift store in the whole world and found a handful of things, my favorite being this T-shirt.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! This is the place to catch up on the week's funny quotes from my kids, relatable parenting moments, and the spring chaos in the Unremarkable Files household.  #7qt #7quicktakes #unremarakblefiles #funny #relatable
Didn't realize until posting that there was a funny shadow on my shirt in this picture. I'm not a fashion blogger. Sorry not sorry.

My family members all say they don't get it, but that must be because they're not moms of 6 kids who feel most of the time like they have an actual hamster running on a wheel for a brain.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Menu of a Restaurant Owned and Operated by My 3-Year-old

Welcome to Bizarre Combinations, the only restaurant in the world owned and operated by a 3-year-old.

Prior to opening this establishment, my 3-year-old spent countless hours serving me toy food from the play kitchen in the children's room at the public library.

I'm honored to present to you the menu of Bizarre Combinations, which was prepared using photographs of all the actual dishes he served to me during our most recent library visit.

MENU



Septuple Scoop of Ice Cream and Pot of Coffee

$12.50

Screw moderation and start your day off right with this entire pot of coffee and a 7-decker rainbow ice cream cone. No cup, no nonsense  just two week's worth of caffeine and sugar.


Slice of Pepperoni Pizza and Green Pepper

$15.50

Why put the pepper on the pizza when you can eat it whole as a side dish instead? This crunchy bell pepper nestled in a blue bowl is the perfect accompaniment to buttery deep dish pepperoni pizza.


Purple Teacup Surprise

$7

Muffins are anything but ordinary when served in a whimsically-colored teacup! When you see how perfectly our whole wheat muffins fit inside this dainty cup, you won't be able to resist shouting "Bottoms up!"


Fried Chicken 'n Muffins

$17.50

In this finger-lickin' fusion of baked and fried, everyone's favorite generic brown muffin is back! This powerhouse combination of nondescript muffin and crispy breaded chicken drumstick is served on a colorful repurposed dollhouse rug.


Red Spatula Special

$10

Nothing can beat the earthy aroma of this locally-sourced red plastic spatula being gently percolated to perfection. This decadent treat is gluten-free, calorie-free, and guilt-free. You just might want to order two!


Healthy Vegan Sampler

$17.50

This tasty, 100% animal-friendly sampler features a hand-tossed salad of seedless California grapes and a plain sugar cone, served with a raw potato in a colander. 
Randomly add rice for $1.50.



Seasonal Grilled Platter

$25

Enjoy all the tastes of summer with our own delightful blend of fresh-off-the-grill favorites including ice cream, fresh cinnamon roll, and slightly underripe banana  all expertly char-grilled to produce the boldest flavors of the season.


Corn on the Cob with a Pot O' Tea

$13.50

An ear of juicy, farm-fresh corn on the cob served with piping hot herbal tea.
Teacups available on request.* 

*teacups are all filled with muffins.


Pizza with Ketchup and a Drink

$14.50

There's only one way to improve our classic "everything" pizza: top it with thick, rich tomato ketchup! Your server will then proceed to pour you a glass of juice from the ketchup bottle, but just go along with it like it makes sense.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files
Read More »