Friday, January 27, 2023

7 Quick Takes about Hobbies that Don't Make Sense, Consultations in the Loosest Possible Sense of the Word, and Discovering that Kleptomania Runs in the Family

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

1


For family home evening this week, we held an informal "Ask Mom and Dad What It Was Like in the 1900s" night.

We've decided to stop being offended that our kids think we're ancient repositories of wisdom from another century and start embracing it as a cool and unique thing we have to offer.

After Phillip telling a story involving falling a good distance off of a homemade zipline in the woods when he was a kid, our children started making plans to build something similar in our backyard this summer.

"Maybe you can fall off that one, too!" one of them suggested helpfully.

"No way," Phillip answered. "I'd probably die. Back then I was young and squishy, now I'm brittle and crumbly."

It's nice that the kids want to recreate his Huckleberry Finn childhood, though.

2


One night at dinner, Phillip kept offering vegetables to the 16-year-old, who is probably our pickiest eater. She repeatedly refused and he tried one last time, saying "Come on, they're good for you!"

The 14-year-old, who was standing nearby watching, piped up. In the gravelly voice of the grandpa from The Princess Bride, he intoned "And as he kept giving her celery sticks, she realized what he was really saying was: I love you."


3


Writing about how I was going to procrastinate a sewing project last week made me actually get started on it. 

And you know, sewing is totally backwards. If you like to sew, it actually doesn't take you that long to finish a project because you're good at it. But if you don't like sewing, you do everything wrong the first time and have to re-do it several times, so you end up spending all day on it.

A hobby where the amount you enjoy it is inversely proportional to the amount of time it takes doesn't make sense.

4


As I had my sewing stuff out on the table for a few days, I noticed that my 8-year-old had been playing with my pincushion.

This is how you know a child is going to grow up to become a serial killer.

What the heck? Who does this to a pincushion? He just boobytrapped it for me and left for school like everything was totally normal. 

5


At her last dental appointment, my 16-year-old's dentist said her wisdom teeth were coming in and referred us to an oral surgeon for a consultation. It didn't end up being much of a consultation.

They did take X-rays of her mouth, but I'm not sure if the oral surgeon looked at them before he breezed into the room and started explaining to us how long the extraction would take, what kind of anesthesia they would use, and how she shouldn't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the surgery.

"Ummm... does she need her wisdom teeth out?" I asked, feeling like it was odd that this wasn't the first thing addressed at the consultation.

The doctor quickly said yes and then continued with his pre-op spiel, which cemented my decision to book another consultation (hopefully a real one) with a different oral surgeon at a different clinic. I know most people do get their wisdom teeth out, but the surgical conveyor belt they were throwing us on felt way too weird for me.

6


I've been reading a book lately called The Power of Fun. The basic idea is that we're too serious and the way to flourish instead of just survive is to prioritize times when we can experience "playfulness, connection, and flow." 

I'm ⅔ of the way through the book and I'm still not sure if I need to add more fun in my life, or if doing that would even be a worthy goal. I would agree in a heartbeat that it's worth adding more meaningful moments into your life, but fun ones? Undecided. It's always been my thought that happiness finds you when you're actively engaged in something meaningful, so the idea of creating fun moments as a way to find fulfillment is kind of a foreign concept to me.

So maybe I'm not reading it right, but the one thing I have been doing differently since reading the book is giving myself permission to take it easier lately. This week I've taken a nap because I needed it and one day I even wrote down a list of things I was NOT allowed to do, because I probably would've out of obligation but didn't want to run myself ragged.

7


I keep a pair of mittens in the car from October to April, they're my cold weather driving mittens. They date back to the late 90s, when I did the thing teenagers do where they "borrow" something that belongs to their mom and sort of just never give it back until it becomes theirs. I always wondered if my mom knew I took her mittens, but last time she visited she saw them in the car and didn't seem surprised, so I guess that answers my question.


Now that I have teenage daughters myself, I know from experience that your mom absolutely does notice when her thing goes missing, but she doesn't say anything because she (1) loves her daughter more than anything and (2) is secretly a little flattered that she had something her daughter thought was cool enough to take.

Anyway.

My 16-year-old needed to go somewhere, and she has her permit so she was going to drive. I sat in the passenger seat and slipped on my mittens, but after a few moments she said, "This steering wheel is really cold on my hands."

So I took off my mittens and gave them to her. The circle of intergenerational thievery was complete. If she's lucky, someday her own daughters might be stealing those very mittens.

"I took those from my mom when I was your age, you know," I told my daughter.

She looked at her mitten-clad hands, looked at my bare hands, and said, "We're horrible people."

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Friday, January 20, 2023

7 Quick Takes about Vintage Music, Sad Snowmen, and a Lot of Stuff Getting Run Over

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

1


For the last week and a half, we've had people in the house doing some kind of work or other (installing minisplits, drywall hanging and mudding in the basement). The introverts in our house are breaking out in hives and developing tics.

But all the contractors are gone now. We have air and heat from the minisplits. Our basement is looking more and more like a real room every day. Life is good.

2


When the minisplit guys drove away, they accidentally left a tool in the driveway. I kid you not, but in the time it took for Phillip to notice it in the driveway, put his shoes on, and open the door to retrieve it, another car pulled into the driveway and ran it over.

"That lady from the 90s would say that was ironic," my 16-year-old said, referring to Alanis Morisette. "Because it's not ironic, just unfortunate."

But I don't know. Maybe it is ironic, because the person who ran it over was her driver's ed instructor coming to pick her up for a road lesson. That seems at least a little bit ironic.

3


While the drywallers were working in the basement, all day we were listening to the muted sounds of their music wafting up through the floors. And I must say, they had excellent taste. It was all music I knew and personally owned in the 90s, including the entire Counting Crows album August and Everything After.

At the end of the day, we mentioned to the guy that we liked his music and commented that we must be around the same age. He laughed and said, "No, I grew up drywalling with my dad, and this was the music he listened to." 

So here I was, thinking we were still young, hip, and relevant, when actually the guy was just rocking out to the oldies.

4


Not only is drywalling a long process, it's also an extremely messy one. In other parts of the country they just mud the seams, but here in New England they spread a thin layer of plaster over the entire wall, and it gets everywhere.

I know because I was cleaning it up for hours after they left. 

Had we known, I could've covered the doorway into our workshop/food storage area with plastic so that every single thing inside didn't get coated with a thin layer of plaster dust and the flooring got permanently stained with plaster blobs. Had. We. Known.

5


My kids have suffered from the saddest lack of snow so far this winter. We had a brown Christmas, an even browner New Years, and the kids were starting to get depressed the longer it was dragging on. 

We got a tiny accumulation of about an inch and a half earlier this week, and the kids promptly headed out to make a snowman. It was a tiny snowman, full of leaves and dirt because the snow was so shallow, but it was a snowman nonetheless.

By the next day, everything had melted away and this is what was left:

Pictured in foreground: his ex-nose.

Isn't that the saddest little Frosty the Dirtman you ever did see?

6


Luckily we got some actual appreciable snow last night, and the kids had a snow day from school today, which is why this 7 Quick Takes is about 12 hours later than usual. 

We got some good sledding in, shoveled a neighbor's driveway, and now our weekend project is going to be reconstructing our mailbox after a car slid on the ice and mowed it down.

7


Who still has little piles of stuff left over from Christmas littered around the house? We do. Actually, I consolidated it into one pile this week, which is at least an attempt at organization and that's progress.

The pile contains:
  • one sweatshirt that my 18-year-old forgot to take back to college with her
  • two glass ornaments my 16- and 18-year-olds made at a glassblowing class but I didn't pick up until after we put away the other Christmas stuff
  • one set of handheld Christmas chimes and music
The chimes are still out because I bought fabric to make a carrying case for them. I'm really busy and probably don't have time to do it, and even if I did I'd still put it off because I hate sewing, so this was naturally a great idea.


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Friday, January 13, 2023

7 Quick Takes about Google Tasks, Haphazard Painting, and Reasons Not to Have Identical Twins

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

1


Well, our college kid went back to school last Friday afternoon. And because Phillip and I are terrible at planning ahead, we forgot to tell the other kids that by the time they got home from school, she'd be gone.

I didn't want them to just come home in the afternoon to find their sister had fled the state without even saying goodbye, so I ended up driving around for 45 minutes that afternoon picking everybody up early so they could see her off.

Next time, I should plan ahead better. But I probably won't.

2


Assigning chores on a chore chart was great when my kids were little, but as they've gotten older I've wanted them to take more ownership over the process and figure out for themselves what needs to be done. I took down the chore chart and the kids tried to take the initiative, they really did, but in reality what happened was that the toilet just never EVER got cleaned.

Then I discovered Google Tasks. Listen up and I will give you instructions that will change your life.
  1. Open up Google Tasks. It's the blue checkmark icon on the sidebar when you go into your Gmail or Google Calendar.
  2. Type in your household chores. For each one, set a date when you'd like it to be done next. Then mark it as a recurring task, setting the frequency to ___ days depending on how often it needs to be done.
  3. Sort the list by due date. 
  4. Install the Google Tasks app on your family tablet/device so the kids can check it easily.
Now you have a list of household chores, featured in order of urgency. When something gets checked off, it disappears from the list and reappears again in 7 days (or whatever frequency you have that specific chore set to.)

My kids are already pretty good about doing a chore every day, but now they can direct themselves but still all the chores that need to be done are getting accomplished. And the list repopulates itself, so it's not like it falls apart if I'm not directly managing it every second of the day. It's amazing!

3


This week we had a minisplit system installed, which is a ductless heating and cooling system for the house. Phillip is so happy to be done with lugging out the old behemoth window A/C units every summer, he doesn't even know what to do with himself.

Unfortunately, our inability to get on top of life and plan ahead came back to bite us again. 

When you install minisplits there have to be refrigerant lines running down the outside of your house, and to make that less ugly they have plastic covers that go over the lines that can be painted the same color as your house so they aren't so obvious.

Long story short, what ended up happening is that we only had time to hastily apply one coat of paint that was barely dry in time for the installation guys to put them up on the house. (I was literally painting frantically as the guys were coming in saying, "Are any of these dry yet? Can I have them?")

So in the spring I'll have to get up on a ladder and add a second coat, but I guess this is fine until then.

4


As our last Christmas experience gift, my family went to see a family-friendly improv comedy show on Saturday. I wish we could've done it before our oldest daughter had to go back to school, but that's just how the schedule worked out.

It was a fun show, and the kids enjoyed it more than I thought they would. It was so silly, and there was plenty of audience participation. 

They did lots of improv skits, and when I asked my 11-year-old which one she liked best she named one that involved the actors pretending they were playing with a dog named Taco. "Why was that your favorite?" I asked.

"Because at the end of the skit, she carried Taco over and gave him to me to bring home," she said. I must have missed that part, but I guess we have a dog now.

5


I volunteer twice a month at the temple for my church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and I love it. People of our faith come to the temple to participate in various ordinances all day and I help them when they arrive. It's pretty much the best job.

However, I was just TRICKED into becoming a shift coordinator! That's like the supervisor: the person who makes the schedule of who's doing what, and also the one responsible for handling anything unexpected that comes up. 

First they asked if I'd do it after shadowing the current coordinator for a few months. Being the one in charge and running around putting out fires isn't my favorite thing, but someone needs to do it and that's basically what I do all day long as a mom, so I said yes.

"I'll put you in the computer system now as a shift coordinator so you can access the system," I was told. And then I got a call from the current coordinator saying "Now that you're listed as the coordinator, I actually can't get in the system to make the schedule. Can I walk you through it?"

So I was basically tricked into doing it on Wednesday. But actually, it went great. I learned a lot, and guess what? When someone came to the temple who only spoke Spanish and last-minute accommodations needed to be made, I was like, "No hay problema."

6


My 6-year-old was telling me about a classmate's mom, who visited his first grade class and happened to mention that she has a twin. Here was the conversation we had about that:

6: Mom, I don't want to have a twin.

Me: [laughing] Well, don't worry because you don't have one!

6: I mean when I'm older.

Me: ... twins are two siblings born at the same time. If you don't have one now then you never will.

6: No, I mean when I'm a grown-up. I don't want to have a kid that's a twin.

Me: Ohhhhh. Why not?

6: Because I won't be able to tell them apart!

When I related the conversation to Phillip, his eyes widened and he asked, "What if you actually did mix them up as babies, and you just never found out? Worse yet, what if you knew there'd been a moment of uncertainty about which one was which? What would you do? Do identical twins have the same fingerprints? Can you go back to the hospital and find out for sure??"

And now I'm stressed about a hypothetical situation involving newborn twins I don't have. Does anyone know what would happen in a situation like this?

7


A friend from church gave us a bag of hand-me-down clothes from her young adult daughters. And it's too bad that in our faith we don't call ourselves Mormons anymore or I would totally wear this shirt:


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Friday, January 6, 2023

7 Quick Takes about Showering in a Timely Manner, Candlepin Bowling, and Joking Around with Artificial Intelligence

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

1


Every year, we swap meeting times with the other ward (congregation) that meets in our church building. We had the coveted 11:30 position in 2022, but this year we're meeting at 9AM time, and that started right on Sunday, January 1st.

Happy New Year.

It felt really early and I'm not going to say it wasn't a struggle, but we made it there. And as we sat there listening to the beginning of the service, my 6-year-old leaned over with a grin and whispered "I haven't taken a shower since last year."

2


Usually we don't check grades in any online portal too much, but my 14-year-old got a little behind in his seminary class (that is what our church calls the early-morning scripture study class for high schoolers) so he's been in there a lot monitoring his progress, with our oh-so-gentle reminders to do so.

Apparently the online system was having some issues between semesters, though, because I asked last weekend "How are you doing in seminary?"

He checked it online and came back to report: "It says I have a negative 20,000 percent."

I think there may have been some bugs to work out for the new year.

3


With New Year's Day it was time the moment the kids all looked forward to. We gathered the faux gingerbread houses my kids had made, rounded them up into a village, admired them... and then smashed them with a meat tenderizer.

Our best-looking village yet, I think.

Every year, the kids get older and the houses get a little better. The smashing part also gets a little less scaryif you can envision a preschooler wielding a meat tenderizer like a club I think you'll understand what I mean.


4


Before the week was up, we wanted to go candlepin bowling as one of our Christmas experience gifts. I included a picture for the non-New Englanders, who won't have a clue what that is.


The pins are a cylindrical shape, which actually makes it harder to get a strike (and totally explains why I bowled a 72), and you actually get three rolls per frame with a smaller ball that you just kind of cup in your hand.

5


My 11-year-old, who is a complete packrat, was decluttering some of her things. I thought a few of the things in her discard pile were possibly worth some money, so I handed her the phone and showed her how to list them on Facebook Marketplace.

With the listings posted, I went to go do something else and I guess she just started scrolling around. Just as I was leaving the room I heard her exclaim, "Oh my gosh, there's a free couch on here!"

And that's when I realized I may come to regret having introduced Facebook Marketplace to a hoarder.

6


We were talking about how people from different areas pronounce words and one of my kids asked, "Do you say pe-CAHN, PEH-cahn, or PEE-can?"

"Who says PEE-can?" my 18-year-old laughed.

"Mom found a pee can," was the answer.

It was true. Earlier that day we went on a walk and I picked up some litter that had blown up against the side of our yard, including a water bottle that definitely had frozen urine inside it. A pee can, if you will.

7


Phillip was playing with a new AI chatbot online. Some of the answers it gave were pretty good, but comedy was not its strong suit.


While it was mildly amusing, it wasn't really that funny (or logical) so Phillip asked it again:


This AI is sounding more and more like a 1st grader making up his own jokes

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Tuesday, January 3, 2023

2022 in 12 Photos


This year, I wrote the fewest number of posts that weren't 7 Quick Takes, and it looks like next year may be more of the same (my new calling at church is going to take up a lot of time.)

But with my hands around a mug of hot pumpkin drink, I say let's focus on the positives, including what a year it's been!


In January I tackled my biggest sewing challenge ever, witnessed first hand someone coming out of anesthesia, and answered awkward sex questions from my 5-year-old. 

While writing this post, I realized I'd made a typo in the URL of a post I wrote about when you're going through a really tough time, and even though I could go back and fix it retroactively I won't, because the whole point of that post is that it's okay if life is messy sometimes. Even if it makes my eye twitch.


With all the snow melting, the drainage situation in our driveway got so out of control we had to bail it out with snowshovels so the garage didn't flood. (And now you'll understand why the highlight of our November was redoing the driveway and installing a giant drain.) 

I made curtains for the home office area, convinced the kids to try a family dopamine fast that overall went better than I thought it would, and went to the aquarium (the real one, not the one in our driveway.)


We got a new piano! Our high school senior (an amazing pianist) was leaving the house in less than a year, and it was the right time to replace our beloved antique upright. I can't say enough good things about pianos with a headphone feature so no one wakes up the whole house banging out Chopsticks at 6AM on Saturday morning anymore.

This month our 8-year-old was baptized, the tooth fairy fined my daughter for not brushing well enough, and Phillip and I briefly entertain the idea of doing yoga for just long enough to realize it was a terrible idea.


In April we took a family spring break trip to Miami, Florida, where my kids got out of the car and immediately said "Look, Mom, there's an alligator!" I rolled my eyes, thinking they were just being goofy. They were not. I didn't get around to finishing a post about this trip like I planned so even though there's no record of it, trust me, it was amazing.

On the blog, I posted some of my thoughts on how it felt to have all my kids in school for the first time. At home, we enjoyed watching general conference and had our first dinner party since COVID where we realized we couldn't remember how to people. At school, my daughter wrote the first and only haiku about logarithms I have ever read.


In May, COVID hit our house like a freight train. Rather than trying in vain to isolate within the family, we embraced it and tried to make the most of the unexpected break from school and work. Which I did enjoy, when I wasn't lying in bed feeling like I'd been trampled by a horse. 

I joined a language exchange site after deciding to learn Spanish, turned 40, and chatted unexpectedly with the police (I didn't know it, but this was actually only the first time of the year, lucky me!) Oh, and then my high school daughters successfully switched places with each other in class, even though they're not twins.


High school graduation time for my 18-year-old! Her graduation/birthday gift from us was a trip to Montreal, Canada.Top it all off with a lot of extended family visiting for graduation and June was an all-around insane month. But my 6-year-old still had time to make us all laugh by doing things like making this passive-agressive PB&J.


My kids spent so much time at the pool this summer. We took swim lessons at a friend's pool and two of my kids also tried the summer swim team in a neighboring town. We toured an alpaca farm, may have gotten COVID a second time, and took the kids to watch their first baseball game. We also began our annual Educational Summer Vacation, learning about the countries of Colombia, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Iran


The summer had been so packed with visitors, activities, trips, and getting our daughter ready for college that we almost didn't take a camping trip like we usually do every summer. But we decided last-minute to do it, and the site we found was unbelievable.

Then, in what was perhaps the most insane thing we've ever done, we took the family on trip across the country to drop our daughter off at college that involved planes, trains, a road trip, a visit to Grandma's, three different states, two VRBOs, and a partridge in a pear tree. I'm still exhausted.


Just in time for school to start, we returned home and the rhythm of the school year took over. My 16-year-old is homeschooling this year, and I really enjoyed taking her on a field trip to the war museum and learning her trick to writing a first draft of an essay. I also got a pixie cut (although I did trim it up a bit at home after taking this picture and liked it better.)


Seeing as how I've successfully raised a child to age 18, I figured a few posts on parenting this month might be appropriate, so I shared 30 things you learn in 18 years and 10 things you learn in a big family. Can any of you relate? 

Being the responsible 40-year-old I am now, I got my first mammogram. I also took the little kids to an open house at the fire station and received a hilarious picture of a letter my aunt found in her house that I'd written her when I was 7.


After having new driveway drainage installed, Phillip and I passed rainy afternoons by standing outside and watching the rain swirl directly into the drain. Look at how beautiful that is. LOOK AT IT. 

We also celebrated a quiet Thanksgiving. We were going to go to a friend's house, but decided it would be more fun to get sick instead. And then for some reason, I went to the mall on Black Friday which I'll never do again.


The 18-year-old came home for the holidays and we've been having a glorious time with her building gingerbread houses, doing fun things together as part of our second no-gift Christmas, and cleaning out the world's messiest closet. I also made some delicious orange cranberry muffins and brought our Nativity in to show my son's first grade class, just like I did when my college freshman was his age. Time really does fly.

This year was full of ups and downs (and I think it bears repeating that just because I can't share some of my kids' downs on this blog doesn't mean we don't have them) but overall, writing posts like this one makes me feel really grateful for the gloriously chaotic life we lead. Happy New Year!

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Friday, December 30, 2022

7 Quick Takes about Needing Elder Care, a One-of-a-Kind Gingerbread Village, and Why I Love Being the Heart of the Home

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! Happy New Year!

1


This week between Christmas and New Year's is the happiest week of the year, in my opinion. It would be a little better if Phillip had any vacation time left, but he used it all on our transcontinental spectacular

(Phillip claims that he still feels like he's on vacation, though, because when he comes home after work we're just laughing and decorating gingerbread houses instead of running around with our hair on fire trying to get everyone fed and off to their after-school activities.)

2


How was your Christmas? This year we continued our no-gift Christmas and only gave experience gifts to the kids. 

Last year we printed out certificates for each one and thought of a creative way to package it; this year, we decided to print out a picture describing each one, cut it up, and hide the pieces around the house like a puzzle they needed to put together. (Everyone's was mounted on a different color construction paper so they could tell whose was whose.)

Now we're busy fitting as many experience gifts in as we can to the next two weeks. Monday was an escape room for the older kids, and today is indoor skydiving for the younger ones.  Tomorrow the teenagers are going with Phillip to Avatar in Imax 3D, Monday is pizza and candlepin bowling (New Englanders will know what this means), and on Tuesday the two oldest girls are taking a glassblowing class. 

The only thing we won't be able to do with the 18-year-old before she goes back to college is a family-friendly improv comedy show, which didn't have any showtimes available until later in January.

3


I was the one who got to go with my teenagers to the escape room. It's a fun place, with multiple hallways lined with mini-escape rooms. You can pick which ones you want to do, and you can do as many as you want before your time is up. 

In the car on the way home, my 16-year-old asked me "When does that switch happen where instead of the parent taking care of the kids, the kids take care of the parents?"

Thinking about people I know who are caregivers for their parents, I answered, "I guess it all depends on their health, but I'd say in their 70s or 80s?" Then I looked down and realized I was still wearing her sweatshirt, which she'd given me earlier at the escape room when I said I was cold. "Or maybe right now," I amended.

4


We committed to Christmas dinner at a friend's house, and even though it was a rush to get over there and it meant we didn't have time to clean up our own trashed house until the next day, I'm glad we went.

They invited a few other people, including an acquaintance one of their sons knew from work who only spoke Spanish. (I overhead heard Matías telling someone else in English that he was trying to learn and he sounded good to me, but based on my experience with my language exchange app, most non-English speakers who claim to be "beginners" actually speak English that is easily 5-10 times better than my Spanish. But I digress and am certainly not jealous.) Anyway, it was a lot of fun to speak with Matías and understand a solid 50% of what he said.

We had dinner, played some games, and enjoyed Christmas music. Our family brought over a set of handheld chimes we got that morning from my brother (the set we have is here, although there are free instructions online to make your own, too.) You pass out the chimes to different people in the group and try to follow along playing a Christmas carol from the attached songbookit's harder than it sounds. 

The only problem was that our set only came with two mallets. Luckily, the dad of the family is a drummer and brought in over a dozen drumsticks for us to use as makeshift ones. I'm pretty sure I saw him exchange a look with his wife that said, "See? I told you I need this many drumsticks."

I know because I've seen that exact look from Phillip, but about tools.

—5


The Christmas tradition my kids look forward to most is building gingerbread houses. It's evolved over the years, from pre-made kits into designing our own out of graham crackers (I realize you can bake your own gingerbread for houses, but I'm not that kind of mom. I impress myself enough by making the icing.)

The 11-year-old.

The 8-year-old.

The 18-year-old.

The 6-year-old.

The 14-year-old decided to model his house after Gru's house from Despicable Me, although with Santa on top (I love the hat.)

The 14-year-old.

The 16-year-old.

The kids always enjoy the building portion, but their real favorite part comes on New Year's Day, when we go around the table and smash them with a meat tenderizer.

6



My 11-year-old has been doing a lot of baking during the break. After watching her, I came up with a great idea for a YouTube channel: it's called "ADHD Cooking" and every episode starts with a recipe but ends up in a completely unrelated random project. 

I think it could be pretty funny.

7


I saw this meme online and immediately loved it:



People sometimes (read: all the time) ask me if I'm going to go get a job now that my kids are all in school. The answer is no, I'm perfectly content doing what I'm doing, but I've never been able to sum it up this perfectly. 

Unless earning a paycheck was a matter of financial necessity, I just wouldn't consider it an investment of my time or energy that makes sense.

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Friday, December 23, 2022

7 Quick Takes about Clean Bathrooms, Replacing the Nutcracker, and How to Save a Closet from Disaster

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

1


Our 18-year-old is home for Christmas!

On her first day here, she noticed that the bathroom was quite dirty and without comment or fanfare, she emptied the trash and cleaned the sink without anyone even suggesting that it needed to be done.

Have I died? Is this heaven? Is this what having adult children is like?? 

2


Having a kid go to college isn't at all like I thought it would be. Day to day, it's honestly not all that different: during their last few years of high school they're so busy you just don't see them a ton. But at the same time, when they actually leave it causes a pervasive shift in the household dynamic. Everything seems a little less fun.

So we are loving having her home for the next few weeks. She's been practicing a Christmas violin-piano duet to play at church on Sunday with the 16-year-old, reading bedtime stories for the 6- and 8-year-old, and giving pointers to the 11-year-old on how to play the flute.

Our first order of business when she arrived, though, was to decorate the Christmas tree:

Second consecutive year that I've forgotten we need to get a new tree topper.

The only bad part is that my younger kids have school all this week, and it's physically painful to send them every day when we all just want to stay home and bake cookies and watch Christmas movies and be on vacaaaaaationnnnnn!

3


The kids are growing out of The Nutcracker, which we've seen every year since forever, so this year we did something different and went to see a stage play of A Christmas Carol.


The night before, we watched A Muppet Christmas Carol so the little kids would understand what was going on. 

And it worked, because the whole time the 6-year-old was leaning over and asking me while pointing at an actor, "Is that the frog? Are they the pigs? Is that the guy with the long nose?" So to him, the original story has muppets, and this was just a nice adaptation.

4


Speaking of Christmas, we are a little behind. And by a little, I mean a lot.

The cookie plates we deliver to the neighbors still aren't finished and the Christmas cards are definitely going to get there on New Years, but for some reason it's not bothering me. I feel like it'll get done when it gets done and there's no point in stressing about it. 

I think it's because I'm 40 this year. I've heard this about being 40. I'm excited.

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Another reason I'm not stressed about Christmas prep is probably that I'm absorbed in something new I'm doing at church. I was asked to be the Young Women president, which means I'm going to be leading the teenage girls' organization for the next few years.

It's a time-consuming endeavor, and even more importantly it requires a lot of empathy and prayer. Anyone who's ever been between the ages of 12 and 17 knows what a critical time of your life that is, and I want to facilitate these girls developing a relationship with God that will carry them through the best and the worst of it. That feels like a really tall order.

6


One of my first duties was cleaning out the closet in the Young Women's room at church, which was no joke. Think about how messy the closets in your home get: now imagine how much worse it would be if multiple families were using them, and every few years a new person took over but the old one left all their stuff behind, and anything leftover always got stashed in there "just in case," and no one ever wanted to throw anything out because they weren't sure if it was being used by someone else. 

That's the Young Women closet.

To make matters worse, the previous president told me she just found out after 4 years that the right half of the closet didn't belong to another organization like she'd assumed. So there was some old, old stuff in there. (When I cleaned it out, I found a poster from 2015.)

My 18-year-old, bless her heart, volunteered to come and help me. When we looked inside the stuffed closet, she turned to me and murmured, "Mom, I think this is why God called you to be the Young Women president."

Which might be true. As horrible as this looks, I actually love tackling stuff like this, and I think I'm pretty good at it.

Me, in the middle of a two-hour archaeological dig through the contents.

"I can't believe this all fit in one closet," my daughter mused once we had everything out where we could see it. "It barely fits in one room."

Several days and a few trips to the dump later, it looked like this:
All I have to do now is label the bins so everyone knows what goes where.

Is an organized closet the most important part of being Young Women president? No. But I can't concentrate in the middle of chaos, and I want to devote my full attention to the girls and to Jesus Christ. This is just what I need to do first.

7


My 6-year-old competed in his first gymnastics meet. I don't stay and watch his practices too often because I usually have to be home for the other kids, so it was pretty cool to see everything he's been learning. He's really starting to move like a gymnast, with a degree of control over his body that is weird to see in a little kid. 

It makes sense, though, because his practices are intense. Case in point: their coach is giving them a "break" for the week between Christmas and New Years, which means only 5½  hours of practice instead of 7½. It's a good thing (1) my son loves gymnastics and (2) I love his coach Mr. Chris, who is the best role model a little boy could have.

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