Friday, November 26, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Unusual Ways to Carry Your Stuff to School, Family Pictures, and Fun Times on the Freeway

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


How was your Thanksgiving? If you haven't yet, I hope you go to the Unremarkable Files Facebook page and share a picture of your dinner table

I didn't even get a photo of our whole table this year, only my favorite dish (THE HOMEMADE STUFFING) and even that was taken after we'd already starting eating it. And as for the pie... there are no pictures of that at all because we were so excited to get it in our faces.

I suggested we go around the table and go through the alphabet, naming something we're thankful for starting with each letter. Somewhere around 'r' it devolved into a conversation between my 15- and 17-year-old about which Avenger they'd be friends with in real life.

"But she'd only be your friend if you were also an Avenger," my 15-year-old argued. (I can't remember who they were talking about because I don't know the movies.)

"So I'd join the Avengers," the other replied.

"What would your superpower be?"

"Puns," the 17-year-old said decisively.

And it's true: she's amazing at cracking puns on any subject, at any time. It practically is her superpower. The caliber of her dad jokes puts her actual dad to shame. 

So I asked what her superhero name would be and I kid you not, she thought about it for less than two seconds and answered, "Quipsilver."

There's a national pun-off in Texas every year, and this girl would slay if she entered it.


Before they went on break for Thanksgiving, my kids had spirit week at school. There were the obligatory "pajama day" and "crazy hair day," but there was also "anything but a backpack day" which was a new one I'd never heard of before.

At pickup that afternoon, I saw a girl waiting at the curb with belongings strapped to her back in a garbage bag. My son reported that two kids in his grade transported their things through the school in a shopping cart and a microwave.

My high schoolers were really jealous that they didn't have the option of "anything but a backpack day." Maybe they're just afraid to give that much power to high schoolers, but I know they'd be into it.


My 10-year-old has been complaining about her vision for a while, but our eye office is really backed up. She waited for months (wailing the whole time about how she can't see,) and then a few days before the appointment we had to cancel it because she was in quarantine for a possible COVID exposure

After she tested negative, we gave up on our office and made an appointment at a new one that could get her in sooner:

She's so excited to join the ranks of glasses-wearers who know that trees actually have distinct, individual leaves.

The strange thing is that her 17-year-old sister already has glasses, and her 13-year-old brother probably will at some point (he says his vision isn't bad enough yet), but Phillip and I are 40 and neither one of us wears glasses. Isn't there supposed to be some genetic component?


Every few years, we take family pictures for Christmas cards. I can't believe how far in advance I used to get things together.

In 2017, I not only assembled a color palette of 8 different coordinating outfits for our entire family the week before, but I picked out two different ones, took photos of each, and asked my readers to vote on which one we should wear.

This time, an hour before we were supposed to leave I was yelling instructions at the older kids to go through everyone's closet and find stuff while I was busy cutting the 13-year-old's hair wiry hair (when it gets long, he looks like an anime character in real life.)


After pictures, Phillip took the kids home and I stayed to order cards. It wasn't until I got in his car afterward that I remembered his spare tire was on (we both got flat tires in our cars this week, what are the odds?)

You're not supposed to drive fast on the spare, and I didn't have my phone on me for back roads directions, so my only choice was driving fifteen miles home on the freeway going 45 MPH.

To the credit of humankind, I only got one honk. But at least honkers, I understand. What I really don't get is the people who pull up behind you, slow way down, and patiently drive behind you going twenty miles under the speed limit for a really long time. 

"I'm sorry I'm going so slow!" I kept trying to mentally tell them. "I have a reason, but it has nothing to do with you! Just go around me!"


We've accumulated an impressive collection of construction debris after ten years of various home improvement projects, and I finally got Phillip to agree to a dumpster bag.

So I bought the bag, but now the trick is to find the right Saturday when we've got time to fill it up. Until then, the dumpster bag is neatly folded but sitting in our garage on top of a heap of some old plywood, looking suspiciously like the junk I wanted to get rid of in the first place.

The irony that our dumpster bag has itself become clutter is not lost on me.


I wish everyone the best Thanksgiving weekend! I hope you spend it doing whatever the heck you want to do.

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Friday, November 19, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Dunkin' Donuts, New Counter Bliss, and a Life Hack from a Very Wise 14-Year-Old

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


We've been trying to eat healthier at our house, and recently switched to a brand of spaghetti sauce that doesn't have preservatives or added sugar.

To introduce the change, we made homemade soft pretzels (one of the kids' favorite lunches) and used the new marinara sauce as a dip. The 5-year-old ate a few bites, pointed at the new sauce, and exclaimed "This tastes like Dunkin' Donuts!"

Thinking that he loved it, I was about to reply when he added, "But not like the donuts. Like the building."

I don't even know what that means. But I don't think he liked the no added sugar.


Our kitchen counters are finished! For reference, here's the old counters:

RIP, forest green laminate.

And the new:

I still need to touch up the walls and find new curtains to match, but I love our new kitchen so much. The counters look amazing and hide crumbs amazingly well.

And I don't know what kind of Jedi mind trick this is, but it's like we have more counter space now. I mean, I know there's actually a half inch more overhang on the edges, but I swear it feels like way more.


After being "close contacts" over the weekend, my daughter's and my COVID tests came back negative. She was so thrilled to go back to school after having to stay home for a week.

I also learned that the era of free drive-through testing is over. Our pediatrician's office now requires a mandatory "provider visit" with every COVID test. (That's a fancy way to say "pointless 2-minute phone call from the doctor beforehand.")

I'm pretty upset about it, because any time any one of my kids gets a runny nose, they aren't allowed back to school without a negative test. And we can't get a test without a "provider visit." And the "provider visit" isn't covered by our insurance, so we pay $125 out of pocket every time.

Do you see how this is a problem?? There are 8 people living in this house. Someone always has a runny nose. When runny nose = $125, that is not cool.


Our living room ceiling is in dire straits. One area is a slightly different shade of white from a patch job we did back in 2017 when my son threw a ball through it, and more recently we had a leak in the roof. Luckily the water damage was only cosmetic, but it left a discolored stain in the shape of a giant letter T.

Ordinarily, I would just repaint the ceiling myself, but this particular one is 16 feet high and that's above my pay grade. So I'm getting quotes from a professional.

I've never had a painter come inside and do any work for us, but I knew it would be ridiculously expensive. So I tried to be prepared for the first guy's estimate, but I still made an involuntary noise like I'd been tasered when he showed me the final price. 

Also, I realized during the process of emailing companies that I can't spell "ceiling" to save my life. Every time, I write "celining" and have to go back and correct it.


Usually I'm freaking out by October trying to organize who's getting what for Christmas, but this year we decided to simplify things.

I'm writing a post next week about exactly what we're doing and why, but the short version is that we had a family pow-wow about it and concluded that we're going to focus on giving experiences rather than giving stuff.

Just making that decision has been so freeing. I'm so looking forward to spending the holidays having fun with the kids instead of waving them away so we can assemble and run tech support for all their new gadgets.

In fact, I've felt so relaxed and unpressured (not at all typical for this time of year for me,) I actually realized with a start the other day that it was mid-November and I had to get a move on it if I wanted to do things like find a place to go see The Nutcracker, which is a holiday tradition we do every year.


On Sunday, it was our congregation's primary program. "Primary" is the children's organization, and one Sunday a year the kids run the service, singing the songs they've learned over the last year and talking about what they've learned.

Unfortunately, our 5-year-old had a cold so he stayed home with me. The two of us watched the program on Zoom, and since I wanted him to stay engaged (and I actually like the songs they sing in Primary,) we sang with the kids on the screen.

Halfway through the program, he looked up at me and asked, "Can they hear us?"

"No," I said. "We're muted."

"Then why are we singing?" 

I didn't have a satisfactory answer to give him, but I think it was still a good idea.


You know that awkward moment when you think someone is looking a little pregnant but you don't want to say anything in case you're wrong and then you've just called them fat? 

One of the teenage girls I teach at church offhandedly mentioned the most brilliant way around it.

"If you're not sure if somebody's pregnant," she said, "Just ask how many kids they have."

My mind was blown. This kid is 14 years old and already apparently smarter than me. Why did I not think of this?

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Friday, November 12, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Mandatory Movie Binges, Considering Giving Up on Foodmaking, and the Perils of Getting Old and Farsighted

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


Over the weekend, my 10-year-old and I were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID a few days later, so you know what that means...


We don't have any symptoms, but my daughter can't go to school until next week and she is not happy about it. I keep asking her if she feels okay and she keeps answering, "I feel the same except for really annoyed!"

Our test results should be back today or tomorrow, but until then I guess we'll pass the time watching Hocus Pocus in our pajamas at 11AM while eating cake on the couch (ordinarily not allowed.) We've really got no other choice.


Monday was a rough day. We hadn't yet learned about the COVID exposure (that was part of a separate stress-induced breakdown the next day) but the kitchen was all ripped apart so the service guys could come install new counters.

Dealing with these guys up to this point had been a nightmare, and one of the miscommunications along the way was that we didn't know we'd be responsible for removing the old sink and counters ourselves before they arrived!

So Phillip and I were scrambling to do it on Monday morning between his work meetings, which of course took twice as long as we thought it would and had all sorts of problems.

And then I waited for the counter guys to come. Have you ever tried to work in an office that was actively under construction? That's what it felt like trying to function in a kitchen with no sink or counter with the contents of the lower cabinets relocated all over the house. 

Which is probably why I was so distracted I accidentally used regular flour instead of gluten-free flour to make Phillip's birthday cake for that night so he couldn't even eat it. 

I felt SO BAD when I realized what I'd done (which was not until after we'd already brought out the cake and sung "Happy Birthday," by the way.)


The next day was about the same, but with different details. It started with trying to make some hard-boiled eggs and forgetting them on the stove until all the water boiled out and I ruined the pot:

Between that and the cake, I think the universe is trying to tell me to stop cooking, baking, or really doing anything that involves heating food in any manner.


The good news is, we have our new kitchen counters! Sort of.

They installed the countertops, but have to come back to do the backsplash in a few weeks. So we have like 85% of a new kitchen counter.

But they're absolutely beautiful. They brighten up the kitchen, hide dirtiness like it's a superpower, and even give us more counter space because they hang further over the edge of the cabinets than the old ones did.

Also, I've been alive for 39 years, but I never really lived until I cleared off a counter with a flush-mount sink.

Pictures are forthcoming once we get a backsplash.


We also had a visit from a pest control service. Try not to stop reading this and throw your phone/computer into a burning bucket of bleach and run away screaming, but they were treating for mice. Our house is in the woods and that's just the way it is, sorry.

I had a laugh when checking out the pest control company's website. Under "Services" one of the bullet points was "unmarked vehicle upon request."

I didn't select the unmarked vehicle option because I'm not particularly embarrassed to have pest control here, but I was a little embarrassed when the guy was asking safety questions about what kids and pets were in the house and I had to answer that we had two pet rats. 

But please, by all means go kill the ones in the garage, and do it quickly.


When your teenager comes up to you with her phone and says, "I found a video that reminded me of you," you never know what you're going to get.

If you were me this week, it would have been this:

I was slightly offended, but the fact I actually did this when she handed me the phone sort of proved her point.


I've never seen the movie Jaws. It's kind of iconic, so I mentioned one day that I wanted to see it and maybe we should get it at the library sometime.

My 15-year-old looked up and "I don't get scary movies. Something happens, and either the characters die or they don't. So?"

That's big talk for someone who's never watched a horror movie before (I'm not counting A Quiet Place, which I think of as suspense more than horror.) I think it might be my duty as a parent to introduce her. The trick is that we don't watch R-rated movies, so does anyone have some scary PG-13 movies to recommend? 

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Friday, November 5, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Unintelligent Robots, Running in the Rain, and Your Friendly Neighborhood Piano Man

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


My daughter's orchestra concert was on Saturday night. It was the first time I've sat in an auditorium with other people watching a live group perform since 2019.

(It was also the first time I've ever seen the conductor give the concertmaster an elbow bump instead of a handshake, so it's not like things are totally back to normal.)


I don't think anyone even works at Facebook. The company is entirely staffed by dumb bots.

When I joined Facebook so I could start a page for Unremarkable Files, my account was flagged and disabled three times on the grounds of me "not being a real person." I have no idea why.

It's been pretty normal since then, but this week I was notified of a spam comment I made that violated Facebook guidelines. Are you read to see what it was?

That's right. I dared to say it was "pretty delicious" when in fact it MAY NOT HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN DELICIOUS. 

I don't even remember what "it" was in that particular comment.

But with everything that's going on in the world right now, thank goodness Facebook is keeping us all safe from misinformation like this.


Visiting a cranberry bog is on my list of must-do fall things in New England, so with my mom visiting this past week I figured it was a good time to take a tour.

I planned to go to the ATM the night beforehand because they only accepted cash, but I couldn't remember my PIN. So I begged my 15-year-old to loan me some money.

She really enjoyed counting out the bills while I promised, "I don't have the money now, but I'll get it to you, I swear!"

I also asked if she could spot me some tooth fairy money for her brother who lost a tooth that afternoon, but she cut me off.

We drove two hours to get to the farm and it was probably not worth the drive, especially since we had to hurry back right afterward to get to kids' activities instead of staying in the area and making a day out of it. But the kids enjoyed the farmer's dog that came on the tour with us and I learned that actual cranberry farming is not like the Ocean Spray commercials.


I'm currently trying to pick a paint for our bedroom. With the existing bedding and decor colors in the room, I think the walls need to be some shade of white, which is probably the hardest to choose.

It's just hard to look at an off-white and be like YES, I LOVE THIS!! so right now, the dresser is covered in a million off-white paint swatches that all look the same to me and I'm more confused than when I started. 

When I hold them up to the wall they all look identical but they look nothing like each other when I compare them. I'm thinking about arranging the swatches on a dartboard and picking one that way, honestly.


My 17-year-old is wrapping up her cross-country season and just ran in the rainiest, muddiest meet we've ever been to.

Cross-country is no joke: they've canceled practice like twice in the four years my daughter has been on the team, and it's not because fall weather in New England is always pleasant.

The younger kids, however, much preferred it to any other meet because they got to play in puddles and made a big castle out of mulch with a moat around it while they were waiting. 


How was Halloween at your house? 

The last time we went trick-or-treating the youngest was 3 (trick-or-treating was canceled in our town last year,) and 3-year-olds tire out so it put a natural limit on how much candy the kids got. This year, he's 5 with a lot more stamina, and I couldn't believe the haul they brought home.

Superpowers versus sword and shield pre-game show in the driveway.

The 5-year-old was an owl, the 7-year-old was Spiderman, and the 10-year-old was a knight. The 13-year-old was a stop sign, the 15-year old was Sylvie from a show called Loki, and the 17-year-old was a teenager who had to stay home and work on her college essays due the next day. 

The good news is that she finished, and her siblings got so much candy trick-or-treating that they all pitched in to make a pile for her and didn't even miss it.


Phillip and I don't care if the kids all become accomplished pianists, but we do want them to all learn how to play well enough that they could jump in and accompany a simple hymn at church if needed, so Phillip teaches them all lessons.

The 5-year-old started learning this week and here's a picture of him at his first lesson:

Really getting his mileage out of that costume.

As you can see, he's taking it very seriously so far.

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Friday, October 29, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Couple Tattoos, First World Problems, and Good Old-Fashioned Procrastination

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


Have you seen cutesy matching couple tattoos? I'm talking about something like this:

Well, I realized this week that Phillip and I have them. We've got identical flesh wounds on our outer wrists, although mine is lighter because it's healing faster.

Well, that's sweet.

We got them in equally dumb ways, too! He got stabbed with a plastic fork sticking out of the garbage bag while taking out the trash, and I slipped and cut myself with a cheese slicer making a ham sandwich.

Say what you will, but it was a really economical way to get 'his and hers' tattoos.


Somehow I knew it was going to be a long time until we saw new kitchen counters, and I was right. After re-ordering the counters and playing phone tag with the installation company, we finally got a date scheduled for them to come take some measurements!

Only they didn't show up. I called to see what was going on, and they said the appointment had been rescheduled for the end of November.

So I'm on the phone, torn between not wanting to sound like a complete first-world whiner who can't deal with waiting four more weeks for a new countertop, but also really annoyed at whatever is going on here.

Especially since we'd already ripped off the backsplash so they could measure, so now our kitchen looks like this and it's stressing me out:

Even if the kitchen is clean, it still looks dirty because of the mess where the backsplash used to be.


It's an Evans tradition for the kids to choose what kind of cake they want for their birthday. They can pick anything, and we'll make it.

Recently, our kids have been requesting a "surprise cake," but we're running out of surprises. We've already done a piƱata cake where M&Ms spill out when you cut it, and a 6-layer rainbow cake that took all day and every dish in the house to make.

I was at a loss, until my teenager suggested that we create a real version of a made-up cake from a Mr. Demaio video the kids watch on YouTube: Mount Everest Apple Crumb Ganache Cake (2:27 below if you're interested.) 

We took her suggestion and ran with it. Phillip made the apple crumb cake and the ganache drizzle, and the 15-year-old and I cut it up and arranged the pieces into a vaguely mountain-like shape. 

I'm willing to bet this is the best-looking Mount Everest apple crumb ganache cake you've seen today.

I'm actually a little embarrassed to post this publicly on the Internet, because Mr. Demaio is a real person who could potentially be reading this and think we're crazy people stalking him. (This past summer, we even had a Mr. Demaio Day just for fun where we did dumb stuff from all his videos.) 

Let's just hope that if he ever read this blog, he'd feel flattered and smile instead of be alarmed and call the police.


My mom is here for a visit and picked the birthday girl up from school for a birthday surprise: taking her indoor skydiving. On the drive there she was giving her hints on where they were going (my favorite was, "It's going to be an uplifting experience.")

My daughter had a great time, but while she was in the high-velocity wind tunnel some wisps of her hair poked through the holes of her helmet and got all knotted up, and they had to cut it off with scissors so they could remove her helmet.

It wasn't enough hair to be noticeable, though. I wouldn't have even known if they hadn't told me, so it's not like she went back to school the next day looking like a shorn sheep.


It's been a crazy busy week, plus Grandma is here so the kids are even less motivated than usual to clean up or do their chores.

It was the 5-year-old's turn to clean the bathroom with me, and after some convincing I was able to get him in there.

"Eww, the toilet is really gross!" he said, wrinkling his nose as we started to clean. And then, after a brief silence, he added, "But this is still the cleanest room in the house."


In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we don't have a pastor who gives sermons every Sunday, but a series of lay people who are just asked to give talks. 

My 13-year-old was asked to speak this past Sunday, which was fine except that he must have forgotten or maybe he was waiting for me to tell him to get started (which I might have done, but I forgot, too.)

Church is at 9 AM and he chose 8:40 AM as the right time to ask, "Mom, was I supposed to be giving a talk or something today?"

Wow. Okay. Well, the youth talks are only supposed to be a few minutes long, so we can do this. He brainstormed in the car on the way to church, and then we ducked into a Sunday School classroom during the first 5 minutes so he could jot down some quick notes.

He delivered an awesome talk up at the podium and no one was the wiser, but the experience was so stressful for him I'm pretty sure he will never do that again!


Speaking of waiting until the last minute, the 17-year-old has been working overtime on her college application.

I thought she had a pretty good handle on things, but she appears to have spent too much time thinking about her essays rather than actually writing them. Now she's working her butt off, and probably will be until 11:59 PM on Monday because that's when it's all due.

On a scale of 1-10 ('1' being unaware she's even applying to college and '10' being doing the entire application for her,) I'd rate my involvement in the process at about a 3, and I'd like to keep it that way.

So I'll just have to take a deep breath and keep referring to the 'W' entry in this post. And my inner English major is going to just need to settle down because this essay deadline is hers, not mine.

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Friday, October 22, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Playdates with my 5-Year-Old, Strange Times in Whole Foods, and Table Manners Pep Talks I Give My Kids

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


On Wednesday my 5-year-old woke up with a croupy-sounding cough, so he stayed home for the day. He felt great and his cough had disappeared by 11 AM, so having him home with me was just like the good old days before kindergarten started.

We played, we read books, we did Play-do. I pretended to not know where he was and accidentally-on-purpose sit on him all day to make him laugh. It was great.

In any other time he would've gone back to school the next day, but they were requiring a negative COVID first and it took 24 hours to get the results, so I had to keep him home for an extra day to play with me some more.

Trying real hard to conceal how secretly thrilled I am about this.

It was fantastic, but by the third day we were both ready for him to go back. I had stuff I actually had to do that day, and he was sick of missing freeze tag at recess.


Overall, I think our family eats pretty healthily already, but I've been learning about some food additives I want to cut out of our diet and working on that. 

Most of the time, it's been no problem switching to a different brand if I don't like what I read on the ingredients label, but there are a few products I've been unable to find good alternatives for at my regular grocery store.

So I decided to try Whole Foods. 

I've actually never been in there. I've always assumed they'd kick me out because they'd know I was an imposter. My kids have never eaten an organic cheddar bunny, I don't even know what an acai bowl is, and I work out in a stained college T-shirt instead of $200 leggings from Lululemon. 

But I had to return an Amazon package and the only free option was the return hub at Whole Foods, so I decided it couldn't hurt to look around the aisles afterward to see what was there.

I didn't even know watermelon seed butter existed before this trip, but somehow it was exactly what I thought would be inside Whole Foods.


For months now, my teenager daughter has been hard at work on her cosplay-quality Halloween costume (Sylvie from the Disney+ show Loki) and is finally done. 

She's already going to miss a Halloween party on the 30th because of a scheduling conflict, so she really, really wanted to attend the one thrown by our church youth group at the stake level (a stake is a group of 6 or 7 different congregations in our church that do stuff together.) 

To make it to the party on time, my daughter had to go directly from orchestra rehearsal to the party, and unfortunately they were both 45-60 minutes from our house in completely opposite directions.  

I get why she wanted to go (what's the point of spending all that time on a costume if you don't get to wear it anywhere?) but it still translated into 3 hours of driving just to bring her to a party. #funsaturdaynightplansforparents


My 9-year-old decided she wanted to be a knight for Halloween, so we've been looking up DIY tutorials and fashioning cardboard armor together.

But try as I might, making a costume with my daughter is not the fun bonding experience it sounds like it could be. It's actually terrible, because I hate crafts. I really do.

I keep burning myself with the glue gun, freaking out about the mess we're making, and having small- to mid-size temper tantrums from attempting to recreate Pinterest while dinner burns and the other kids trash the house around us. 

But we're almost finished and ready to spraypaint, so there's that.

The other day, I realized we'd used a diaper box to make her helmet and a jumbo-sized toilet paper box for her armor, so I've started calling her King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Restroom. 

She thinks it's funny as long as her siblings don't all start doing it, too.


My 15-year-old is often told by her friends that she "talks like a mom." She's one of six children and often refers to her younger siblings as "the kids," or sometimes "the boys."

One day she came along as I was making the rounds, dropping one kid off at soccer practice and another kid off at play rehearsal, because she needed a ride to the ice cream parlor to meet a friend. But as we were driving there, her friend texted and said she'd be late.

"That's okay," my daughter texted back (I'm paraphrasing here because the kids these days use no capital letters or punctuation or actual English words,) "My mom has to drop some kids off so I'll just ride around with her until you're ready."

I remarked that it sounded kind of funny to say it that way, like I'm a city bus or something, and asked how her friend answered her text.

"She just said 'ok.' She's used to it."

After a little while, my daughter remarked, "Our family is kind of like a story with too many main characters so people can't keep track of them. I mean, we can. But other people can't."

It's true. I have friends I've known for years who I suspect still aren't 100% sure how many kids I have.


I may be able to tell my kids apart, but I sure can't tell apart their soccer practice times. The three youngest have weeknight practices, each with slightly different start and end times that I can't remember to save my life.

It doesn't help that the coaches also changed practice times once already since it started getting dark earlier.

All I know is that someone starts at 5:15 and two other someones start at 5 (or is it two kids at 5:15 and the other at 5? Or was that before the change and now everyone starts at 5?) and that pickup times are respectively at 6, 6:15, and 6:30, but I have no clue who.

This week I was really late to pick up my 9-year-old, really early to drop off my 5-year-old, and thought my 7-year-old was finished 15 minutes before he was so I was late to pick up another kid from work on my way home.

I was SO excited when the town announced they're closing the soccer fields for evening practice after this week, but then my 9-year-old's coach decided to just move practice to a new location. I'm not sure I'll do much better at remembering that, but whatever, we'll try to be there.


When the kids started to work their way into an argument about something over dinner, I wanted to change the topic of conversation and the first thing I thought of was an "all about my mom" page I saw on Pinterest.

It had fill-in-the-blank questions like "my mom's favorite color is ____________" and "my mom is really good at ___________," and I'd been curious about how they'd answer some of them.

"Hey, guys," I said. "What's something I say all the time?"

They thought quietly for a minute (which was great considering the reason I asked the question in the first place) and then my 7-year-old said, "'Use your re-tensil!'"

He meant utensil, because we talk a lot about table manners and I find myself reminding my elementary schoolers to utilize a spoon or fork way more often than I ever thought I'd have to.

Watching him pick a chickpea off his plate with his fingers and pop it into his mouth, my 15-year-old said to me, "I still feel like you don't say it enough, though."

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Friday, October 15, 2021

7 Quick Takes about How to Own a Job Interview, the Best Rabbit Picture You'll See Today, and Temple Walks

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


My 17-year-old is working on her college applications and told me one of her essay prompts is: "Write about a failure you've experienced and how you overcame it."

"Ooh, that's a tough one," I said. "It's kind of like the job interview question everyone hates: 'What is your biggest weakness?'"

Well, she had a ready answer for that one.

"I'd say 'I'm a serial killer.' And the when the interviewer looks at me surprised I'd go, 'Just kidding; it's actually my terrible sense of humor.'"

If I was doing that interview, I would hire her on the spot.


In a big family, cooking is exhausting. Not so much because you have to make a lot of food, but because it's impossible to please everyone. No matter what you make, at least one person is guaranteed to not like it. 

Our pickiest eater is actually our 15-year-old. Half the time, she either eats three bites of dinner or completely opts out of even coming to the table and, I don't know, goes to survive on dewdrops foraged from the woods or something.

Last night I was excited to finally be making one of her favorite meals, but when it was time to eat, she said she didn't want any. Apparently the last time we had it, she ate too much and felt sick afterward and now she's got a bad association with it.

For reference, this is me:


Over the weekend, we took the kids to the county fair. It's a fun thing to do every 6 or 7 years. 

The most anxiety-provoking part was going through the flower barn, where everything was breakable and there were DO NOT TOUCH signs everywhere. 

Taken just before the "hands in your pockets until we get out of here" rule was instituted.

At one point I looked over to see the 5-year-old picking up one of the DO NOT TOUCH signs and playing with it, and that tells you everything you need to know about 5-year-olds.


The kids all liked watching the baby chicks under the incubators in the poultry barn at the fair, but my personal favorite was going to the rabbit barn and seeing this fine specimen:

Somehow it reminded me of Marlene Dietrich (photo for reference.)

Picture of Marlene courtesy of Isabel Santos Pilot.

Seriously. That is one chunky ball of fur.

At this angle, I'm reminded of how a leaf of kale becomes infinitely more wavy at the edges.


At the CVS checkout the cover of a celebrity magazine caught my eye, purely because it was so mean. 

It had a picture of a male celebrity (I won't say his name, because someone here has to be a decent human being) with the headline: Why He Can't Find Love: Turning 60... ALONE!

Remember: he's a real person. Can you imagine someone saying that about you? And then writing an entire article about it to be displayed at eye level in every grocery store, drugstore, and convenience store in America?

I'm pretty sure that 20 years ago, the writer of that article was doing the exact same thing with a Sharpie on the walls of their junior high bathroom stalls. What a bully.


Our roof is finished! The end product looks great, and the roofers were incredibly fast. In 12 hours, they'd completely torn down the old roof, tacked up the underlayment and new shingles, cleaned up all of their trash, and were out of there.

"They're finished already??" the kids kept repeating that evening in shock. 

It's understandable. They're so used to Phillip and I doing home improvements at our typical glacial pace that they probably assumed the roof was going to take five years.

Case in point, they've been unable to use the main floor bathroom for a week because I've been "getting ready to paint" and removed the light fixture but hadn't actually started yet.


We often talk about Christian discipleship in metaphors such as "following Christ" or "walking in the covenant path." But I'm a youth leader for the teenage girls in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and on Monday, we decided to make it literal by physically trekking 12.5 miles to the nearest temple. 

(You can read more about the function of temples here, but for this take it's enough to say that temples represent the holiest place on earth to us.)

Was it a meaningful youth activity? I think so. The way we sacrificed our day off to make this walk happen, how we all did it by encouraging each other, and the way we made it to our eventual goal by simply continuing to put one foot in front of the other was a powerful object lesson to us and to the youth.

When we finally saw the temple come into view around Mile 12, everyone cheered and some of the girls even started running to get there. (It may have had something to do with the fact that we'd promised them donuts at the end, but still. It was a great youth activity that none of us will soon forget.)

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