Friday, July 23, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Cute Snacks that Don't Work, a Foray into Foraging, and Discovering New Playlists (Each One Weirder Than the Last)

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

1


While I was out doing errands, Phillip took the kids on a short hike in the woods. All except my 15-year-old, who decided not to go with them and instead take her own walk near the house.

When Phillip and the other kids got home, the 9-year-old was saying, "Poor you. I would hate to go on a walk all alone."

The 15-year-old shrugged and answered, "I like to think."

"Ugh," the 9-year-old grunted and shivered. I'm pretty sure she meant walking alone, but then again, I can't be sure it wasn't the thinking part that she found so distasteful. It was kind of ambiguous.

2


My teenagers have been such good sports this week. First they accompanied me and the little kids to a playground out of the goodness of their hearts, and later we went to a new spray park/pool I heard about that turned out to be a wading  pool, not a swimming pool (oops.)

In each case, they made the best of it, had fun playing with the little kids, and hung out with each other talking about whatever teenagers talk about.

There really is something great about having your youngest be 5 and your oldest be 17, though. The teens get to be kids for a little while longer and honestly, I'd have no idea what to do if we could only do big kid stuff all the time! 

3


I'm not a mom who does crafts or anything cute, but my underweight 7-year-old would always rather play than eat and I thought I'd try my hand at making some whimsical kid snacks for him.

You know the kind of stuff I'm talking about:

By the way, my kids would refuse all of this because the different types of foods are "touching."

So here's what I slapped together. What do you think?

Follow me on Pinterest.

I'll have you know it went just as well as I thought it would: he turned the banana into a frowny face and wouldn't eat it.

At least I didn't lose 20 minutes of my life sculpting an owl out of a rice cake.

4


Remember that hike in the woods Phillip took the kids on? Well, it's been really rainy lately and the mushrooms in the woods on that walk were crazy. They saw every size, shape, and color imaginable, and that got him interested in edible mushrooms. 

After a lot of research, he brought home some chantarelles to fry up with some butter and onion. (I agreed to go along with it after I texted pictures to a friend who knows all about mushroom foraging and got the green light, and after he promised to only eat one and if he wasn't dead by morning he could have the rest.)


I still haven't tried the mushrooms yet. I'm going to wait a week to see if he dies, just to be safe.

5


We're learning about Iceland this week for The Educational Summer Vacation. One of the reasons I really like doing this is because it's a way to discover new foods and activities we like that we never would've discovered otherwise.

We regularly eat food at home that I never would have known about, like al kabsa from Saudi Arabia or pastel de choclo from Chile. We also learned about batik egg dying while learning about Ukraine, and now that the kids are older we do the real thing every Easter. 

This week I learned about an Icelandic rock band called Sigur Rós, and I'm actually listening to them right now while writing this. It's really different from other music I've ever heard.


Is ethereal the right word to describe this? It sounds to me like the approved soundtrack for watching the Northern Lights or some equally breathtaking natural phenomenon. 

6


Speaking of music, the other night we invited some friends over for a bonfire and were looking for some music to listen to. I searched playlists on Spotify and found ones with the funniest and most specific names. 

Eventually I clicked on one called "Songs That Will Make You Feel Like the Main Character," although just out of curiosity I may have to go back and check out the one above it called "Foreign Relations Playlist."

It reminds me of a few days ago when my 15-year-old was helping peel potatoes for dinner. I said we needed some background music so she went on YouTube and found a playlist called, no joke, "Music to Peel Potatoes To." 

The moral of the story is that there's some weird stuff on the Internet.

7


If you get email notifications that Unremarkable Files has a new post, did you notice today's email looking any different? 

Recently I had to switch to a new service, because the old one changed their business model. (Rude.) I spent last night putting new 'subscribe' bars on the blog's sidebar and footer. How does it look? Does it work? 

And if you're like "You can get email notifications?!" then go ahead and sign up! No spam, you'll just get an email when there's a new post on Unremarkable Files.

.

Have a good Friday, everybody. You've earned it.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Extreme Decluttering 101: Everything I Learned From Tackling My Messy House

Confession: I've always liked throwing stuff away, and I've always been quick to get rid of stuff that served no purpose. At least I thought I was.

But this spring I discovered a YouTuber called The Minimal Mom and long story short, ended up getting rid of 50% of our belongings. 

During an intense two months of attic-to-basement decluttering, here are some invaluable lessons I learned about figuring out how to live with less.


1. Invest in a "Maybe" Bin


When I first embarked on my decluttering journey, I kept the things I couldn't live without and put everything else in a temporary "maybe" bin. I was really aggressive about putting things in the "maybe" bin because nothing was permanent: if I regretted not having something, I could always take it back out and forget it ever happened.

I planned to keep things in the bin for 6 months as a test run of minimalism, but I was surprised to find that most of the time it only took about 10 minutes. The act of physically separating an item from the collection of "my stuff," then stepping back to look at my decluttered closet/shelf/cupboard and seeing that I still felt good about it, made letting go of things shockingly easy. 

After decluttering the entire house and garage from top to bottom, I think I ultimately took about five things back out of the "maybe" bin.

2. Consider a Tattoo that Says "Do I Use This?"


I'd done my fair share of decluttering before, but now that I was serious about it I approached each item we owned with the question "Do we use this?" instead of "Could we use this?" (It's super-important to note that these are two completely different questions.)

Honestly answering the question "Do we use this?" helped me part with items I've kept for years but could've been stolen by a burglar in the night and I most likely never would've known the difference.

If I got stuck on any item, I'd ask a follow-up question: "Would my life be any different without this?" It helped to acknowledge that getting rid of many things wouldn't negatively impact my life, it would only make the house less cluttered and easier to clean.

3. If You Won't Regret It, Get Rid of It


I encountered plenty of items that passed the "do we use this?" test, but I still got rid of them because they weren't adding very much value to my life. These two questions helped me identify those items:
  • "Will I miss this?" 
  • "What would happen if this item was gone?"


"Will I miss this?" helped me part with clothes I still wore but didn't particularly like. If I had other clothes I liked better, was I ever going to regret getting rid of that cream-colored sweater that shrunk a little in the dryer?

"What would happen if this was gone?" helped when I came across a cache of thermoses in my kitchen. If I didn't have the large size, I'd feel annoyed for less than a second and make do with the medium one, so I decided to donate it. 

Everything is a trade-off, and I decided that for me, the convenience of keeping an item has to justify the inconvenience of having to clean, maintain, organize, and store it.

4. We Become Immune to Our Stuff


Everything in our home multiplies, including furniture, decor on the walls and tabletops, and the contents of every cupboard, closet, and drawer. I think this is because we keep adding stuff, only "seeing" the new pieces and not the ones that were already there. 

Less than two years ago, I bought a storage cabinet because our family's scriptures and church books were scattered all over the house and we desperately needed a place for them. But once I purged the bookshelf we already had, it turned out there was plenty of room for them in there. 

I moved our church stuff into the bookshelf, sold the cabinet we'd apparently never needed, and learned a valuable lesson: don't add anything new to your house until you look around at what's already there. 

5. We Don't Have Time for All the Things... and That's Okay


For me, the kids' stuff was the hardest to declutter. We had a large craft cabinet, game cupboard, activity shelf, and a bunch of toys that rotated in and out of the attic. They were all perfectly good things that the kids played with. 

Well, when they remembered those things were there, anyway.


Eventually, I came to the realization that my kids don't have time to play with every good toy in existence (just like I don't have time to read every good book or visit every exciting place in the world) ...and that's okay. 

Decluttering is, at the heart of it, acknowledging that we have limitations on our time. In the end, I made peace with the fact that the kids will play with whatever we have, and they won't play with whatever we don't have, and either way they'll be just fine. (And, by the way, I didn't get rid of anything without their knowledge.)

6. Get Rid of Duplicate Items


We are a family of eight people who eat virtually every meal at home, so I honestly thought we needed two cheese graters, six spatulas, two sets of measuring cups, and eight mixing bowls... because we used all of them!

But I realized the duplicates were actually part of the problem with my messy kitchen. If something was dirty, we'd just grab the second (or third) duplicate instead of washing it, and so it would go, and by the end of every day the dirty dishes were stacked sky-high.


Once we got rid of the duplicates, we could no longer make that enormous stack if we tried. With fewer dishes, we end up washing the same number of things in a 24-hour period  but now the counter stays clean in between loads. 

I've known for a long time that a perpetually messy kid's room is a sign of having too many toys, but I guess the same principles also applies to kitchens, too.

7. You'll Feel Relieved


Did you know our stuff can make us feel bad? Me, neither. But as I decluttered, some very strange things happened.

For example, I got rid of a dress I love and a wave of relief washed over me. Why? Because years ago, the undershirt that goes with it went missing, and I'd been hanging onto the dress ever since in the hopes of finding a new shirt that could work. It wasn't until I finally decided to donate the dress that I realized I'd been feeling bad every time I saw it hanging in the closet, unable to be worn.

Later that same week, my daughter told me she was glad we pared down the craft supplies. She'd grown into other interests, but the presence of those unused craft supplies made her feel guilty about not using them. Meanwhile, I had no idea she even remembered they were even there.

It's kind of hard to describe the contented feeling of looking around a room and knowing that everything in it is something you use and love, but that's what I love most about decluttering. I'm more likely to fix broken things or deal with paperwork now instead of putting it off, and more motivated to clean up because it doesn't take all day to make a difference. 

And that's really saying something, because I hate cleaning.

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Friday, July 16, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Trips Down Memory Lane, Toy Dog Confusion, and a Lot of Flat Tires

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

1


The 3-day road trip back home from visiting my family in Minnesota went well. We did a lot of driving on the first and third days so we could spend a good chunk of of time on the second day stopping at our old home in Columbus, Ohio.

We lived there until our oldest was 5½, so it was interesting to see what the kids remembered. We saw my daughter's elementary school (nothing) and our apartment (the girls said they recalled the building being taller.) 

The main attraction was the science museum, which we visited all the time and they seemed to have the most memories of. Mostly sounds, which was interesting. 

My kids said they remembered the ocean exhibit as being "scary." I wonder why??

The thing that surprised me most was when we walked in my second daughter, was was 3 when we moved away from Columbus, knew how to get to a specific exhibit from the front door. (Unfortunately it had since been replaced by another exhibit. Sad face emoji.)

The thing I was most excited for was to have the 17- and 15-year-olds peek in at the little kids' free play area to tell me what they remembered. We visited that area more than the rest of the exhibits in the whole museum combined, and I have such fond memories of them playing there. They walked around looking at everything, shrugged, and were like, "Yeah, no, I don't remember this at all."

And that's childhood for you.

2


After the museum, we stopped at a park to eat some dinner. While we were sitting on a bench, a lady walked by with her two fluffy Pomeranians.

My 5-year-old pointed and said quite loudly, "What even are those?"

Confused and maybe a little defensive, the lady answered, "They're little dogs!" 

I think he offended her. But to be fair, they did look like tribbles on strings.

3


We got to our hotel late that night, so it was immediate teeth-brushing and bedtime once we checked in. 

After everyone had brushed their teeth I went into the bathroom and burst out laughing We'd been there for literally 10 minutes and the number they'd done on the mirror impressed even me.


This incidence came to my mind again a few days later when we arrived home. We'd gotten the floors refinished while we were gone, and less than 12 hours after we got home the kids had succeeded in flooding the toilet all over it.

They just don't waste any time breaking things in.

4


We arrived home late Sunday night and the older kids had to wake up early for church youth camp at 8 AM the next morning, so we're all a little disoriented. 

It's different again this year because of COVID. Instead of a weeklong overnight camp for the girls and a week for the boys, they're doing 12-hour day camps (two days for the girls, two days for the boys, and one day for both combined.) But still fun, I think?

I don't know, I'm just trying my hardest to get everyone to the carpool location in time every day. This is a way more significant struggle for me than it probably should be.

5



Speaking of struggles, Phillip got a flat tire yesterday on his way home from work. Luckily he was in the parking lot of his workplace, because the lug nuts were on so tight he had to go back in for a hammer to hit the tire iron with to get them off. 

By the time he drove home on his spare, patched his original tire, replaced it, and put everything away again, it was pretty late at night.

To wake up a little before work this morning, he went on a quick trail ride with his mountain bike... and got a flat tire.

The fact that he didn't just give up, lay down on the trail, and wait to be struck by lightning really says something about his indomitable spirit. That's what I would've done.

6


Earlier this spring, my 15-year-old auditioned for a more selective youth orchestra in the city. The good news is, she just got word she was accepted! The bad news is, she was putting in such long hours practicing for the audition that she hurt her wrist. 

She took a whole month off (during which she had an existential crisis because she's been practicing violin for an hour a day every day since she was 5,) and we were disappointed to find that it still isn't back to normal.

This week she went in for an X-ray and now we're off to a physical therapist, so hopefully she can play in this orchestra, after all. I don't usually ask for personal favors but if any of you have prayer lists I'd love for her to make it on yours. She's planned for music school and violin performance to be part of her life, so this feels like a really disappointing setback.

7


As it does every year around this time, our world map and all our flags went back up on the wall. If you're new to the blog or just can't remember what the heck I'm talking about, every summer vacation I have the kids pick a few different countries and we spend a week learning about each one

I try to make it fun. 

We make each country's flag and keep it from year to year, and the two youngest kids like to sit at the dinner table and quiz each other. (The fact that a 5-year-old from the U.S. can identify the national flag of Mauritania is a constant source of amusement to me.)

Note: by "sit at the table and quiz each other" I meant "run around shrieking and pointing at the flags while Phillip and I yell at them to sit down and finish eating."

At the end of each week, I write up a recap and post it on Saturday night, so you can look forward to hearing about our educational "trip" to Iceland next weekend! 


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Friday, July 9, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Road Trips, Eagerly Anticipating Spinsterhood, and a Recipe Hack I Wish I'd Discovered Years Ago

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

1


Please excuse my absence from last week's 7 Quick Takes. I kind of failed to plan ahead for the fact that we'd be on the road, driving cross-country, and it slipped my mind.

We drove to Minnesota to visit my family, and let me tell you, family road trips are way easier when everybody is old enough to have full control of their bladders. Making an emergency detour to a rest stop in Illinois to clean up a diaper explosion is no joke.

Because a 21+ hour road trip has the potential to be pretty miserable, we tried to keep it fun and make lots of stops along the way. 

One stop was the original Colt revolver factory, (thanks, Atlas Obscura) and on the way there we watched a documentary on Samuel Colt. Days later in Minnesota, my 7-year-old asked my brother Dan how old he was, and when Dan jokingly answered 47 (he's actually 36) my son looked at him seriously and said, "If you were Samuel Colt, you'd be dead."

It's true: Samuel Colt died of syphilis at age 47.

2


We also made a lot of other stops. My personal favorite was a short hike we took in New York to stretch our legs. It was a beautiful forest with a trail along the water.


The only part I wasn't sure about was this sketchy footbridge, which appeared to have been through something before we got there.

Trying to concentrate on the scenery and not on the wood debris and probably human bones below.

My kids loved Chicago, which was probably the biggest city they'd seen and definitely the busiest place they've been since the start of the pandemic. As we drove into the city my 5-year-old took a look around and exclaimed, "How much dollars did it take to build Chicago?!?"


I loved our hotel, which was right downtown on the Chicago River. I also loved that this sign in the elevator was a little broken so it looked like a danger warning specifically for Puritan women.

Hie thee to safety!

3


My mom took us to a local fireworks show on the 4th of July, and the culture around the whole thing is totally different than it is in New England. I never would've thought to bring my own personal fireworks to a fireworks show and lighting them off beforehand as we waited, but's just how Minnesota does Independence Day.

We got there to claim our spot about an hour before the show started, and even though there were several amateur pre-game shows to watch and a playground to play at, my 5-year-old was getting antsy.

He was still whining "I can't waaaait anymore!" when the show finally began.

"You don't have to. This is it! This is the show," I told him.

"No, I can't wait for it to end."

As you can tell, he was a little tired from the drive.

4


During our time in Minnesota we had tons of fun, both at my mom's and at my dad's. We played on the lake:


And fed deer at the wildlife refuge:


I also got the last of my stuff out of my mom's house, where my wedding dress and high school yearbooks (and even some of Phillip's yearbooks from middle school for some reason) have been for the last few decades. I haven't met a mom yet who hasn't had to store boxes of her kids' crap until they're 40.

5


Just before the road trip, Phillip and I managed to squeeze in a short trip to Newport, Rhode Island for our anniversary at the end of June.


Back in 1900, anybody who was anybody was building hoity-toity summer homes in Newport, and some of them are open for tours. I mean, they're just like quaint, modest cottages, but I guess they were okay.

The Breakers gave me some serious Downton Abbey vibes.

FYI: if you're old enough to reserve a hotel room, you're also old enough to self-regulate your behavior to the point that other people don't have to get out of bed at 12:30 AM on Friday night/Saturday morning to tell you to close your door for your LOUD YELLING PARTY. 

I can tell I'm approaching 40 (which everyone tells me is the age of caring 0% what other people think) because not only did I mind looking like a crochety old spinster shuffling out to yell at some unruly young adults, I kind of enjoyed it.

6


I've been struggling with some pain and stiffness in my neck for a while now, but since Facebook and Google spy on us shamelessly I should've known the answer would show up in my feed eventually.

I've only watched a few of his videos, but Taro Iwamoto's exercises on tension and body movement seem helpful so far. The techniques have been good for my neck, and Phillip says the way he takes 10 minutes to convey 1 minute of information is a good exercise for my patience.

7


My teenage daughters and I have long joked about starting a recipe blog. Phillip could invent the recipes, I could handle the bloggy side of things, and they could write the text. 

The unique thing about our blog would be that the recipes are at the top of the page. No one would have to scroll down while we blathered on about what the weather was like when we first made it, bragged about how it was the hit of the potluck, copy-and-pasted text from War and Peace, or pontificated on any number of random things completely unrelated to making food. 

"I have an idea," my 17-year-old told me this week. "We could call our blog Just the Recipe."

I told her to check if that domain name was already taken, and we found that not only does it exist, it's even better than we'd planned. Just the Recipe is actually a site where you can plug in the URL of any recipe blog and it will filter that stuff out. It literally gives you just the recipe. 

This could be life-changing.

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Friday, June 25, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Inventing New Punchlines, Facebook Marketplace Etiquette, and How to Fit Exercise Into a Busy Weekday Morning

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

1


My 9-year old has been coming home telling jokes she reads on the backs of the school milk cartons. Her latest was, "What starts with 'T,' ends with 'T,' and has 'T' in it?"

The answer, of course, is "teapot." Because it's full of tea. Get it?

The really hilarious part, though, was when she tried the joke on her 7-year-old brother: "What starts with 'T,' ends with 'T,' and has 'T' in it?" 

He thought about it for about two seconds and answered, "Tater tot."

2


The most exciting project I've completed this week was redoing the side of this nasty cabinet in our kitchen. 

It's MDF covered with adhesive wood grain patterned paper, which had been thoroughly decimated by years of hanging and removing various chore charts, behavior charts, and kid schedules for the last 10 years.


Wood grain paper this size is expensive, and I don't love the look of it anyway, so we decided to get creative. Also, our kitchen never had a very good place for our broom and dustpan, so we made one.


We'll see how it looks one this broom has been broken in, because real working brooms aren't pretty. But life is an experiment, and we'll see how this one goes.

3


PSA for people on Facebook Marketplace: if you see someone giving away a free outdoor porch swing, don't say you'll take it, come to the house and dismantle it, then change your mind and drive away leaving a pile of scrap metal in their yard. 

It's rude. 

Especially if you've borrowed the homeowner's wrench to do so.

4


How was your Father's Day? We've settled into a pretty comfortable routine.

At our house, Phillip always gets the same thing: after lunch he gets to take a nap while we go clean his car. We take out the trash, vacuum the interior, wash the windows, polish the dashboard, and leave him an air freshener and some gum.

Saving the small nooks and crannies for the 5-year-old who can fit in the trunk.

Phillip came out to admire our handiwork and that's when we revealed the real surprise: we opened the garage door and told him he could park inside the garage for the first time in two years because we'd cleaned that out, too. It was a pretty momentous day.

5


My kids' bathroom sink was clogged again (thanks to certain girls in our house with ridiculously thick two-foot-long hair who shan't be named) and instead of sending Phillip up there with a drain snake like I usually do, I decided to do it myself.

It was disgusting. I may have pulled a slimy black cat out of there, I'm not really sure. I was bewildered wondering why in the world Phillip ever agrees to doing this when I ask him. But a funny thing happened: by the time I'd finished the sink and moved on to the bathtub drain, I was almost used to it.

The other day, I had to deal with a household poop accident which I haven't had to do in years, and how I reacted showed me just how out of practice I was. So lesson learned: if you think something is really gross, you probably just don't do it enough.

6


The kids' last day of school was Monday, and it started off with a bang. While Phillip was getting ready for work, I took his car to drop the 7th grader off at school, not knowing it was on its last drop of gas. I made it to the school okay, but ran out of gas on the way to the gas station afterward.

Luckily, I was only a mile away from our house so I could walk home. (Unluckily, I was wearing PJ pants and dollar store flip-flops so both my pride and my feet hurt by the time I got there.)

When I walked in the door, Phillip was all ready for work and waiting for the car because I'd been gone so long. "Where were you?" he asked.

"Taking a brisk walk."

7


Now that things are starting to open up,
the kids are starting to get colds again. Up until recently, we hadn't been sick in over a year!

I was out late taking the 15-year-old clothes shopping one night and in the morning, the 9-year-old (who currently has a scratchy throat) told me indignantly, "Daddy didn't say goodnight to me last night!"

"He didn't?"

"No, he just gave a no-arm hug before bed 'cuz I'm sick!" Then in practically the same breath, she asked, "How come when we get sick, Daddy never gets sick?"

I don't know, it's a real mystery.

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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?

1


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.)

2


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.

3


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.

4


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."

5


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.

6


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.

7


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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