Friday, September 17, 2021

7 Quick Takes about Family Journals for Posterity, Saturday Success, and DIY Disclaimers

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


I feel very fortunate to have our laundry area on the main floor of the house, but it's shoved in a tiny utility closet that for the last 10 years has looked... pretty utilitarian. 

It wasn't even that utilitarian, though, because the ugly wire shelf above the washer and dryer was too high and deep, so it was basically crammed with a ton of junk we couldn't access.

After I went nuts decluttering the house this spring thanks to The Minimal Mom, I saw that our laundry closet was looking better already and decided take it a level further. My new goal was to turn it into a space I wasn't embarrassed of if the closet doors were open (which they always are, because kids.)

I love how it turned out.

Hard to get a good picture because of the tight space, so this weird fish-eye lens will have to do.

What we did (aside from throwing away 80% of the stuff we had in there):
  • fixed an unslightly hole in the wall from an emergency plumbing repair
  • painted the closet walls to match the surrounding room
  • polyurethaned boards and installed floating shelves
  • bought all the pretty containers and decor you see on the shelves
  • affixed the ironing board to the wall
  • replaced the plastic "unclaimed clothing" laundry basket on the dryer with a nicer-looking one
I was really proud of myself, going shopping and finding the right decor, even repurposing some things with a vision of how they could look: the rug under the laundry basket to prevent scratches is a bath mat, the white containers for our cleaning supplies are dorm room trash cans, and the flower planter is a coffee creamer pitcher from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. 

I can't believe it all came together.

I feel like the least qualified person on earth to be "making over" any living space by myself, so the fact that I LOVE how our new laundry area turned out is nothing short of shocking to me. 

Not only am I not embarrassed now when the closet doors are open, I'm actually considering taking them off altogether.


I have a journal that I've badly neglected for years, but when COVID hit and I realized it was actually going to be a big deal that one day someone might actually care about reading, I started to write in it again.

No one else in the family recorded anything about their experiences, though, so when I saw a list of COVID-19 journal prompts it gave me an idea. Every Sunday, the whole family is going to sit down and answer one prompt, and when we're done we'll make a book about our collective experience.

This week's prompt was "The basics of COVID-19, from your perspective." So, an objective explanation of what the virus is.

Some of the kids are too young to write an entry, so they drew a picture. And others don't really like writing, so we told them it's okay to write a poem instead of multiple paragraphs. 

The 5-year-old drew a Coronavirus, with no prompting from us whatsoever.

The 7-year-old has the "surgical mask blue" color down perfectly!

The 15-year-old is obviously going to become a poet.

This is going to be an interesting book, I can already tell.


Something else I've unexpectedly been enjoying is genealogy. 

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which really encourages family history, one reason being that we can bring our late ancestors' names to the temple to perform baptisms and marriages on their behalf (click here or send me an email if you're like "What. In. The world. I need to know more about this.")

So I've always dabbled at my family history, but more out of a sense of obligation than a particular enjoyment of the process. Maybe I just have more time now that the kids are in school, but I'm really getting into it.

Filling in your family tree is like unraveling a mystery, combing through old census and marriage records and trying to do sneaky math to figure out when it's likely someone might have been born or died based on other events you know already.

One day I was researching a very distant relative on my great-grandma's side of the family and found someone new. "Hey, look!" I called out to Phillip. "I've got an ancestor from Utah in 1880. I wonder if they were Latter-day Saints?"

With Phillip watching, I entered Utah guy's name on the family tree software I use and clicked "Show How They're Related to Me." And watched as the program traced the relationship through Phillip's family line, not mine.

Don't worry, it had to go back like 10 generations to find a common ancestor between us so it's not like we're secretly cousins or anything. It was just funny and confusing for a minute.


My 15-year-old who plays the violin had her first practice with her new orchestra on Saturday. Yes, the exclusive one she worked her butt off to get in.  Yes, the one we thought she wouldn't even be able to do because she hurt her wrist right after the audition.

All summer, we've been doing physical therapy and worrying about whether she'd have to withdraw from the orchestra after all that work. We agonized over it with her doctor, her violin teacher, and each other. We almost emailed her conductor to back out several times. Even in the week leading up to the first rehearsal, we were unsure if her wrist would be able to handle it. 

In the end, she went to rehearsal on Saturday and her wrist did okay. It was funny how I just dropped her off with all the other musicians filing into the concert hall, and nobody had a clue it had been such a long, uncertain struggle for her just to be there that day. 

I guess the moral is: never assume someone doesn't have a complicated backstory. Also, thank you to everyone who offered prayers or asked about how she was doing over the summer. I really do think it helped, because four months ago she could barely bend her wrist.


With some amount of trepidation, I watched the new movie adaptation of Little Women with my kids. The original story is pretty progressive already, but with today's political climate I was fairly certain I was in for two hours of the director screaming into a megaphone "Marriage, bad! Strong, independent woman, good!" 

But I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it actually did a fantastic job staying true to the original story and weaving in bits about the author since Little Women was based on her life.

One of my daughters thinks I look like Emma Watson, especially when our hair is up, so when Emma first came on screen complaining about the price of fabric for a dress my daughter said to the other kids, "See? Doesn't that give you mom vibes?"

"Because of her looks or because she's being a cheapskate?" I asked. Because it could've gone either way.


I came across this video on YouTube while I was, um, NOT mindlessly scrolling. Except that I was.

It's on the longer side, but Phillip and I sat down with the teenagers to watch it and it led to a really good discussion. 

I loved the video's definition of "boredom" and its explanation why aimlessly looking for entertainment doesn't actually alleviate boredom like you think it does!


Another exciting new development around here is our new archery storage area in the garage. We have an unfinished garage so it's definitely not as pretty as our laundry room, but still exciting nonetheless.

Our archery supplies used to be stacked up high on a shelf, because the kids were young and we didn't want them to be able to get into it. But now that they're teenagers and don't need constant adult supervision, not having it accessible was really annoying. Here's our new system:

It made me really happy when my 13-year-old had a friend over to do archery and they didn't need any help getting anything down.

After hearing me go on and on bragging about all these newly organized and beautified spaces in our house, I don't want any of you to feel bad so I will give you three reasons why you shouldn't:
  1. If my kids weren't all in school and I wasn't a stay-at-home mom, I'd never be able to do it.
  2. Our house looked like a dump for 10 years while we were busy with babies and toddlers and I don't regret a minute of it.
  3. We're not on top of everything, just the stuff we show pictures of. (We need a new roof so badly that water started coming through the living room ceiling last time it rained, so don't forget that.)

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Ellen said...

I love your last take. I've been decluttering/ watching minimal mom and thinking about decluttering all year, and we still have so much stuff i can't deal with! Also, i have 3 small kids and am due in 3 weeks with #4, so maybe that's a reason for my lack of progress.

I'm curious about the practice of your church in baptizing backwords. I wonder if it's like a form of healing prayer i learned as a catholic that is interceding for healing in the family tree. Based on the understanding that we on earth are connected through Jesus and our baptism with those in heaven and so are able to pray for eachother.

Diana Dye said...

Your laundry room looks fantastic! I cleaned up mine after watching Dawn's laundry room makeover too. I have cabinets so it doesn't look as pretty but the insides are tidy and half full so it feels nice.

My husband and I are 8th cousins. My parents are 8th or 12th or 15th cousins multiple times over (they are really into family history and find connections all the time). My family tree is more of a web than a tree.

Unknown said...

Kudos on the laundry room! I feel ya on the dumpy house, but we have a new roof and it's pretty spectacular to listen to it rain and know everything is snug.

Ann-Marie said...

Take the doors off - it looks great!! Our laundry room is super tight as well; you're inspiring me to maybe tackle it. It is crazy how much of a difference it can make to just refresh a small space. Way to go!

Jenny Evans said...

Diana: Everyone in the human family is related somehow!

Ellen: I wish you the best of luck with Baby #4 and you're doing great.

There's absolutely a special bond between family, but the real power in temple baptisms comes from the priesthood power used to officiate the baptism. (The policy about doing baptisms for people on your own family tree is probably more about avoiding causing offense to living people who never gave you permission to baptize their grandma!)

But funny you should mention Catholicism: I once had a long conversation with a Catholic friend about how her practice of praying for the dead on All Saints/All Souls Day is definitely in a similar vein to baptisms for the dead in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So interesting!

Chaun said...

Oh my goodness, your laundry closet is so dreamy! I also really enjoy The Minimal Mom. She's helped us massively declutter our home, but I haven't figured out the decorating part yet. I also have a laundry closet, and I love what you did with yours. Definitely taking note!

PurpleSlob said...

Congrats to violin girl!!
Laundry even looks inviting!
That pandemic book sounds like it needs to be published!!
Kudos on the archery organization!