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Mad skillz

By Heather Oman

Music is one of those talents that sort of play well in the church. If you can play the piano, or sing in the choir, it’s a easy thing to point to that you can do well. It’s a visible talent, and one that is easily applauded.

But what about talents that aren’t so visible? What about the stuff that nobody talks about in feel good self esteem seminars?

And while I actually can play the piano (not very well, and it’s always painful when I do) I have some OTHER mad skillz that aren’t as visible. they may not be as obvious as playing the piano, but I would assert that they are just as laudable.

Talent #1

I make a mean PBJ.

Okay, this might sound obvious, but hear me out. I spread the peanut butter ALL the way to the edge, and the jelly the same way, so EVERY BITE you get a combination of jelly/peanuty goodness. If I don’t make my own bread (which I am very good at too, by the way, compliments of my awesome bread maker, which demonstrates another talent—excellence at expressing my needs at Christmastime), I use a soft wheat bread, which is still healthy, but soft, so the jelly and peanut butter can sort of be squeezed out a little while you eat it. PLUS, I always use my homemade strawberry jam, made with fresh, handpicked strawberries (and yes, when I say handpicked, I mean by ME, at our local strawberry patch). This, my friends, translates into the PERFECT PBJ. My kids do appreciate it.

Talent #2

I have perfect hearing.

I’m not making this up. In graduate school, to get practice administering hearing tests, my classmates and I had to test each other’s hearing. My hearing was so good, I got a perfect test, which means that the machine can’t produce a sound I can’t hear. One time, I woke up my husband with the complaint that a cockroach was scurrying across the cardboard moving boxes we had stored under our bed. He rolled over and told me I was dreaming. The next night, when he was out of town, and I heard the same noise, I turned on the lights, kicked the cardboard, and one of the biggest cockroaches I had ever seen came scurrying out. I killed it. MAD SKILLZ, Y’ALL.

Talent #3

I have awesome parking karma.

When we lived in Washington D.C., which is notorious for its terrible parking, I could always find an awesome parking spot. It became a joke the first couple of times, but then even my mom would say “C’mon Heather, work your magic.” And it worked. Every time. It’s a gift. Don’t be jealous.

So while parking, hearing, and perfect PBJs don’t sell well in a self-esteem seminar, my skillz make me happy. And while they don’t make for a peaceful Sacrament meeting, they are, most definitely, life talents.

The other day, a friend of mine opted to sit on the floor rather than at my dining room table.

“I’m good at sitting on floors”, she said.

Now there’s a woman who knows what she’s good at, and is not afraid to show it.

What mad skillz do YOU have? The madder, the better :).

About Heather Oman

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

61 thoughts on “Mad skillz”

  1. I can pick things up with my toes CRAZY good. I'm a talented chocolate chip cookie maker (not too puffy, not too flat). I'm kinda funny, but I think I'm a better sidekick, e.g., I'm a good laugher, appreciative of others' jokes and able to chime in when necessary. Oh, and I have a freakishly good memory for celebrity baby names, but that rarely comes in handy (dang!).

  2. the PB&J sounds awesome!
    me, on the other hand–i can touch my tongue to my nose, always good for entertaining children in line at the post office. i love to send out christmas cards, and i keep extended family information straight so people call me for birthday and address information.

  3. I can tell time, without use of watches, clocks, or cell phones, to the minute, at will. I have a great internal clock. Now if only I could put an alarm function on that clock. . .

  4. You are too funny Heather! I needed this today.

    I'm good at predicting the weather. I go by this rule: When you are planning an occasion, the weather will be exactly opposite from the day you are making your plans. Works every time.

  5. My husband can't tell time, but he has your alarm function, Maralise! He thinks really hard about what time he wants to wake in the morning, and then goes to sleep, and wakes up on the minute.

    My mad skillz include: I can make cinnamon rolls that garner marriage proposals, even when it's my husband taking them to work.

    I can tell North, South, East, West quite reliably. (Right and Left mess me up, though.)

    I can work out what flat shapes you'd need to cover a 3-D object.

    And, I can make just about any baby in the world pass out… I've done that since I was little!

  6. I can eyeball container volume so that I always pick the perfect-sized bowl for something, or the perfect tupperware for leftovers.

  7. These are awesome! I was thinking how hilarious it would be if they were part of the ". . . .and I'm a Mormon," slogan the Church is using in commercials in certain parts of the country. Can't you just see it?

    My skill–synesthesia (actually kinda common), but I see colors and patterns w/ all music, and experience some letter/color and music/color relationships.

    I'm also fairly decent w/ parallel parking. Go figure.

  8. Ha, Amy! I love that idea, because the "I'm a Mormon" commercials are about Mormons who do cool things that I don't, and while I think that's great, it would also be fun to have "I can shuffle cards like a Vegas dealer… and I'm a Mormon" be one of the commercials.

    Um. I don't know. I just made a Rapunzel wig and am about to embark on a wizard costume. Mad costume skillz? Also I am very good at teaching my youngest to read using fruit snack letters.

  9. I can crochet Darth Vader, popcorn, a beaded necklace, or just about anything I feel like. I just learned how to knit with a crochet hook, though I have yet to get enough practice to be able to make anything useful with that.

    I'm very good at trying new recipes. We have a new recipe almost every single night that I cook, and most of them turn out quite tasty, since I am also very good at picking recipes that my family will like. Not that it's terribly hard to find recipes my family will like, since my toddler loves weird things like salsa and pickles.

    And I can make a picture out of any scribble you give me.

  10. Liz C, I have the same talent as your husband: I can decide what time I want to wake up (even if it's at 3:00 in the morning to administer medicine) and then I wake up at that time. I'm pretty proud of that one.

    I also have a secret tracking device that allows me to find items in our house that my husband and children can't find—missing keys, important papers, cheese in the back of the fridge ("I swear I looked for it, Mom, and it wasn't there"). I think this tracking device has something to do with my uterus, since it seems to be a talent that comes with motherhood.

    Also, Sharlee, I'd like to see you stand on your head, yodel, and shuffle cards at the same time. Now that would be a talent, indeed.

  11. I'm not very good at drawing, but I can copy cartoon characters pretty well. I can't make a picture out of my head, but I can reproduce a simple character from a picture.

  12. Yesterday I solved a mystery. My friend got an empty, ripped envelope with no return address and somehow I managed to figure out who it was from.
    And I felt waaaaaaay awesome.

  13. Oh my gosh, this is so great Heather. I love it. Your PB&J reminds me of my cinnamon toast. I spread the butter around every inch, put tons of cinnamon sugar on it, and then use a pizza cutter to cut it into strips. My girls love it. I also love packing lunches complete with a waxed paper wrapped sandwich and folded napkin. 😀

  14. I have an awesome memory for things that my husband needs, but for some reason I can't find what I'm looking for.

    I'm also really good at remembering people's faces. I recognized someone I e to grade school with, of course they thought I was crazy and now I have a tendency to not acknowledge that I know someone unless they show it first.

    I'm also awesome at sleeping in and letting my kids watch PBS. My friends know that I don't wake up till 9, and don't call me till then.

  15. LOL…I knew this was an amazing bunch of women, but I had NO idea!!
    I too have the tupperware-sizing mojo going. Hubby will often say "that won't fit in there"…HA- you just watch!

    I can whistle a tune through clenched teeth.
    I can back a car/truck/van into the tiniest space using only the side mirrors (none of that turning around to see nonsense). We used to have a big ol' conversion van and folks would watch me in parking lots and marvel at my mad skillz.
    I wrap a mean gift with homemade bows.
    I've thrilled many children with my squirt cheese artwork on crackers.
    Oh yeah, I'm just that awesome!

  16. Need the name of an aging, retired football player? I'm your girl…
    Doug English, played Offensive Lineman for the Detroit Lions in the 70s
    Bob Lilly, Defensive tackle for the Cowboys, 70s
    Golden Richards, Wide Receiver, Cowboys, 70s
    Ken Anderson, Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals, 70s
    Test me, really!

  17. I'm good at flying. Lots of people can't stand it, but I love flying on jets. It is always a good time.

    And I was so happy to hear about your parking karma…because I HAVE IT TOO! In fact, just last week I was telling someone how i have parking karma, and then I decided I would like to have "win contests" karma…you know, random drawings etc. Deciding to have the parking karma was all it took to get it, so I'm thinking I will start winning a lot more of the contests I enter.

    I'm also able to make amazing toffee which has never failed. I've tried to impart my skills in this area to others, and don't understand what they're doing wrong because it ALWAYS works out when I make it. And I can't credit the climate, because I've been making it in Chicago, Vermont, Hawaii and Utah with great success.

    So if you ever need some toffee, bring me two sticks of butter and your favorite chocolate chips and we'll make some together (I'll supply the rest). Or you are welcome to try your hand at it, here's the link: Blue's Amazing Toffee

  18. I dare anybody to top this…

    I can do first position in ballet. BACKWARDS. Think of a "V" upside down, with my heels making the point and my toes the ends.

    This is no small feat considering how enormous I am.

    I can also touch my thumb all the way down to my forearm. And back.

    I also speak enough Spanish to make my kids think I'm a rockstar. Which is to say, one year of HS language class 17 years ago.

    And I have a bionic nose. I. smell. everything!!

  19. I'm a human phone book. If I've dialed it three times, it's memorized. My husband asks for a number, and I say, "No, I hardly know those people… wait, ya, here it is…"

  20. I can unerringly stand in the slowest line at the grocery store.

    I make awesome bread. Not in a breadmaker. The one that I had died from overuse.

    I can wiggle my ears and pick up stuff with my toes too.

    I WISH I had parking karma…or would that be CARma?

  21. I can contort my tongue so it looks like a 3-leaf clover.

    Like Amy, I can parallel park pretty darn well and I even have some synesthesia (not with music, but with letters, numbers, and a few other things).

    I have a weird knack of recognizing actors and actresses from other shows, even if they've just appeared on an episode of some random 80s sitcom and then I see them on Psyche.

    Hmm. Oh, and my homemade rolls rock the house. They're better than my MIL's (according to her sons, and it's her recipe).

    This is fun. 🙂

  22. I am doing awesome in my fantasy football league and I'm competing against some big time football fans. Although that doesn't take much skill, I'm still proud that I'm beating the guys. HA!

  23. You know, sometimes being able to play the piano and organ is a curse, because people (Relief Society presidents, bishops, desperate people organizing programs) assume that that means you can also lead. I do not lead. I could lead (but who couldn't?). But I do not lead. How many times do I have to make that clear?

    Oh, and I don't sing. That's why I play–so I don't have to sing.

  24. My biggest skill is being unable to think inside the box. I'm WAAAY outside the box, all the time.

    I can parallel park in front of and between Hells Angels and their Harleys without thinking about it.

    I give amazing hugz. I can totally fully appreciate a dawn or sunset!

  25. I can predict when something is going to happen. Anything. Phone calls, letters, someone coming over, long lost relatives come calling, when I don't have enough $$ in the bank. I can just sense it. Kinda creepy at times though.

    I am good at training Cub Scout Leaders. It is all second nature with me and I love training them.

  26. I remember phone numbers and never, ever forget them. I still know my phone number I had when I was 7. Really, I'm faster than looking in the phone book or on the internet.

  27. I can see an outfit or costume and see the shapes it breaks down into in order to remake it. I don't have time or energy to remake it, but I can see how…

    I have AWESOME pitch. It's not perfect, but it's trained to be perfect-like, and it's very useful, except when other people are singing solos in church, when it is sometimes painful. And then my husband thinks I'm being judgemental, and I'm not- it's like hearing cockroaches that other people think are imaginary.

    I can cook ANYTHING. And Bake ANYTHING.

    I have a magnificent and magical talent for reading aloud and making anyone who is listening happily want to listen for hours. Which is really useful on car trips.

    I can do a focused meditation and make all my pain disappear. briefly, until I move, but that's skillz.

    I can hear exactly waht my children are doing at any place in the house, making them think I have supernatural powers.

    The only truly supernatural power I have, though, is the ability to read "microexpressions" (think "Lie To Me")effectivley enough to get excellent reads on people even the first time I meet them. I can tell if someone is hiding something, if they are honorable, if they are nervous around others, or just shy, even figure out who is creepy long before others are clued into the same effect. It is a little bit spooky, though, so I try not to expect all my knowledge to come from a "reading" alone. So I've cultivated pretty mad listening skillz, too. (although I can obviously talk a wall into crumbling.) But I ahve learned to trust my instincts, and leave alone the ones who read as creepy or overbearing… that RUN AWAY instinct is truly a mad skill.

    And I can make people feel at home. That's one I try to use a lot.

  28. I'm in awe of all of your mad skillz– and Heather B., you seem to have gifted with more than your share. Can you come to my house today to help me make a flying monkey costume, read to my kids, create a mean clam chowder, listen to Xander's viola practicing, teach me meditation and analyze my angst?

    I am the baby whisperer. Babies love me and seek my out at church or in a crowded room; crying infants curl into the crook of my arm and coo. Even when I am grumpy or distracted they stare at me in crowded restaurants and wave their chubby arms at me as I walk past.

    Sadly, my charms diminish as toddlers reach preschool age but my children continue to frankly adore me– a truth that grants me grace and wonder every day of my life.

  29. Michele- YES!!! Yes I can…. especially the clam chowder. I make a mean clam chowder. And a incredible potato soup.

    But listening to a new viola practice? NOT ON YOUR LIFE.

    I have many talents (as do you!!!) , but energy I have none. Want to do a trade?

  30. I can make a couch slipcover with no pattern.

    I can pop my eyeballs out just like Don Knotts guaranting laughter to any observer.

    I can play most of the hymns on the piano even though I only had 1 year of lessons about 20 years ago.

    I can close my eyes and try not to spontaneously combust when I see that my boys have peed on the bathroom floor. again.

  31. I can balance a spoon on my nose for hours. I can walk around, do the dishes, and fold laundry without losing the spoon.

    My sister has the unusual talent to unearth incredible stuff at DI: never-worn Talbot sweaters,fabulous suede boots, even brand new Tahari suits. It's amazing to watch her.

  32. I can read a story to a group of kids and get them to calm down just like that. It must be my voice. I can still recite all my times tables through 12 in less than 3 minutes. I can keep our mini van somewhat clean. (I have no idea how that happens. My kids know they will be cleaning it by themselves if they leave a mess.) I can write both right and left handed but don't ask me to do cursive with both hands. It just doesn't happen.

  33. I can come up with the perfect gift to give someone. The one they'd never think to get for themselves, but once they have it they realize that their life was empty without it.

    I can also feel where a "lost item" is in the house. I stand still, send out my Spidey Sense and just feel what room it's in.

    I can pack a trailer/car like a jigsaw puzzle. Give me a mound of camping equipment bigger than the car, and I'll make it all fit with room left over for the kids. But I don't like playing Tetris. Too constricting.

  34. I'm good at inferencing (Heather O., you're an SLP, aren't you?).

    I can tell the truth, even when it's hard.

    I'm a good parallel parker.

    I can do my hair and makeup straight out of the shower in 4 minutes.

    I can problem-solve and make things happen.

    I can ace tests I really don't deserve an A on.

    I remember birthdays.

  35. I wrote a response last night that got lost in cyber space. Reading all the new ones since then made me think of some more of mine. Baby whisper but also toddler and preschool whisper. I got a lot of training with this one with my second to last child who needed and continues to need lots of soothing. I can load more things into a dishwasher than anyone and have it all come out clean. I can dry items of clothing in the microwave. I am an excellent cookie baker. Crazy efficent weeder, I love to pull weeds. I have a high tolerence for chaos. I am a good gift giver.

  36. i frequently know who is calling when the phone rings (i knew my husband was calling to ask me on a date the first time he called – also already knew i was going to marry him even though we had only had one brief conversation 2 months earlier.)

    i can whistle in tune inhaling and exhaling so never have to stop to breath.

    i sometimes buy things at a store without knowing why or for whom til i hear about a need a few hours or days later.

    i can drive to a place i've been once, years later, without looking up directions.

    i can load a car or truck like nobody's business. had a semicircle of men watching my 9-months-pregnant self at ikea once put 3 rooms full of furniture into my minivan with my mother, and a toddler in a carseat. they were shaking their heads and saying it couldn't be done. they applauded when i put the last thing in. also, once i watched 4 men try 4 or 5 different ways to put a tall upright piano in the back of a van, told them how to do it and it slid in on the first try. same story with a treadmill through an apartment doorway.

    i can back into any parking space.

  37. i like to smell nice. i realize that this isn't actually a skill, but i figure it still makes the world a little better place, you know?…

  38. After I left my comment, I thought, "Well aren't I the little black rain cloud?" I guess I should have posted some mad skillz of mine.

    -I can eat a lot of chocolate, even substituting it for meals.

    -My tae-bo kick is getting higher and higher.

    -I can quill something fabulous (if you don't know what it is, look it up–and watch my blog, I've got a Christmas project going on).

    -After years of showing up at church without having practiced my assigned hymns, I can sightread well enough that I never write down future hymns anymore.

    -I'm good at finding interesting, but worthless things on the internet.

    So there you go. 🙂 Oh, and Paula, I'm glad we could work together. Are you in a good word or do you want to come to mine? 😉

  39. I can sense a spider in any room, I just walk in and feel the presence annd know exactly where it is.

    When the phone rings I know who it is without checking caller i.d.

    I am good at surprise presents. I love to surprise friends with gifts for no reason. I am much better at these than actual birthday presents which always seema bit lame even though I have thought for ages what to get.

  40. Just wanted to say that I have loved this!!

    One of my best mad skillz is that I can throw things away. It's the reason I'm under strict order to not touch any of my husband's stuff in the basement.

  41. Thanks for this fun post with all the great comments.

    I too am monkey-toed. I can also touch my toes with my elbows, my tongue to my nose and other odd things.

    I have phone number and birthday memory skills. My favorite story of my mad memory happened in NYC. We had taken a cab earlier in the day and when we were at Grand Central getting ready to go home (we live an hour north) my husband realized he had left his book bag on the taxi. I thought back and remembered the taxi driver's name! It was Chan Bosco We got the bag back.

    But I also have the nice ability of forgetting what happened in a book or even a movie so I can go back and enjoy them again.

    I can also find my tweezers wherever they are.

  42. I'm sort of a baby whisperer, but only if I'm holding said baby. I was sort of a lazy babysitter(a good one, but lazy) in high school, and so I would usually get the baby to sleep in the first half-hour, and then I could focus on taking care of the bigger kids. I'm definitely a Sunbeam whisperer. I can make any three- or four-year-old love me in less than 30 seconds. I never knew it was a skill until I actually became a Sunbeam teacher, and I was suddenly aware of the fact that some people are just not good with little kids(it sounds harsh, but it really means that I'm a lot more sympathetic to the new Primary music leader who has to ask me to translate the frequently muddled and tangential sentences of some of the kids). But once kids hit six years old, I'm just terrible, until they get past middle school.

    I am a Ramen Noodle genius(I'm 19 and in college… it comes with the territory). I can grab a random mix of spices and ingredients and make those noodles taste fantastic. (forget the powder packet. just throw in butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. or try lime juice and hot sauce. you're welcome.)

    Speeches, poems, stories, songs, talks, anything written- I can memorize them word-for-word. My dad kicked me out of the room when he started reading Harry Potter to my little brother because I would mouth the next word before he said it. This also makes me an awesome teammate to have for any trivia game.

    Mario Kart? Eat my dust. This is especially good for impressing the 9-year-old boys I frequently babysat, along with my little brothers' friends.

  43. Lol, just saw this on Mormon Mommy Wars and wanted to chime in:

    I can imitate a monkey noise so perfectly it makes my daughter laugh till she hiccups.

    I can also pick things up with my toes…handy while you're huge and pregnant!

    I cook pretty well, even if it's something I've never made before.

    Turns out I'm pretty handy with around the house maintenance – I've repaired the back door knob that kept getting stuck and locking me out, unclogged the garbage disposal, patched holes in the drywall and installed numerous things such as towel racks and toilet paper dispensers. All of these things were put on hubbys honey-do list, but with school and work bogging him down, he hardly has time to get to anything on it these days. I've had to suck it up and figure out a great many thing lately.

    I make awesome mashed potatoes. And the most fabulous pumpkin pie you've ever tasted.

    Lol, it's weird to brag about talents… thanks for the awesome post and all the laughs!

  44. Can I play? I'm late to the game, but I too have some mad skillz! I'm pretty dang good at Genealogy research. I have a knack for coming up with names for things, my friends kids, new businesses, books, or school papers. I've managed to give birth to 5 children whose blues eyes seem other-worldly at times. Oh yeah, and I can sneeze like Donald Duck.


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