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Because Twins: Changes

7 May

So things have already started to change around here because we’re expecting twins.

#1- I’m not babysitting anymore.  I was too tired and too pregnant to chase those high energy, high maintenance extra kids around.  When I first found out I was pregnant in February, I told the mom that I would have to take a month or so off from daycare.  Then I found out in March that the the baby was actually twins, and I realized I couldn’t keep babysitting after they were born, so I told her she would have to find someone new by the end of June.  Then I had that week of terrible tension headaches.  Also, I realized I wouldn’t be able to lift her heavy 2-year old much longer.  Also, Baby Bean suddenly decided that the 2 year old was a threat to her territory, and she would just jump on him and bite him/pull his hair several times a day.  It was getting hard for me to move fast enough to keep him safe from her. I told the mom she had to find someone else as soon as possible.  I had to watch her kids for 2 more weeks.

I went from this:


to THIS:


I gave her the phone number of an acquaintance friend who was interested in babysitting.  I was a little worried that this friend would hate me forever, but I was desperate to get out of a situation that I couldn’t handle any more. I ran into this friend at a mom’s night out on Tuesday this week and timidly asked her how it was going.

“Oh, I only watched them for one day and I told the mom I couldn’t do it,” she said.  Then she turned to the other moms at the table and proceeded to tell them all how terrible these kids were.  They WERE really difficult to care for.  I babysat them for them for 6 months, half of which I was pregnant and sick and tired, but it wasn’t until the headaches that I had to cry “UNCLE!”  Apparently, their grandmother (who is a relatively young grandma) is watching them now, because the mom can’t find anyone else who is willing to put up with her kids.  Lucky for her, the 2 oldest will be in all-day school beginning August 12th.  The 2 year old is a piece of cake, as long as you keep anything breakable away from him (and also keep Baby Bean away from him.) So grandma has hope on her horizon.

#2- Switched Baby Bean to cloth diapers.  This will be less diapers I have to buy when the twins are born.  I don’t like putting newborns in cloth diapers.  They go through, like, 10 diapers a day (x2).  Thats a lot of laundry.  Also their legs are too scrawny for cloth diapers to seal around to keep in the explosive projectile poo.  However, Baby Bean has enormous fatso legs and only goes through about 6 diapers a day.  The DH rigged me a clothes line on the balcony.

Aren’t diapers on the line so cute?  I love not having trash cans full of stinky disposable diaper trash.  I love not buying diapers.  (Actually I am stockpiling diapers for the twins now, since I’m not having to buy them for Baby Bean and Banana Cream Pie.  I don’t expect the stockpile will last long, but it should help.)  Also I’m hoping that cloth diapers encourage Baby Bean to potty train much earlier than Banana Cream Pie.  My other babies that wore cloth diapers potty trained before they were 2 1/2.  My babies who wore disposable diapers didn’t potty train until after their 3rd (or 4th) birthdays.  It would be super cool if Baby Bean was totally out of diapers by Christmas.

#3 – Banana Cream Pie is pretty nearly potty trained.  As soon as I was done babysitting, the potty training began.  We’ve been working on it for 2 1/2 weeks, and she is more trustworthy every day.  I’m not totally confident that she won’t have accidents when we are away from home, but at home, she is pretty good.  By August she should be an expert toilet user.

#4 – I’m slowly fighting my hoarder tendencies and trying to get rid of things we don’t use.  It’s difficult for me, because I can always think of possible scenarios when we might use those things.  However, one thing I’ve learned in the last few years is, you can’t clean clutter.  All you can do is move it around.  Reducing the “stuff” in the house will make the house easier to keep clean and make room for the twins and all their stuff (diaper stockpile).  When we designed our house plan, we were planning on having 6 kiddie pies.  Now we will have 9 (+1– I’ll have to tell you all about him later) and so using our space efficiently is important.  Luckily, the bedrooms are big enough to hold 2 sets of bunk beds each, and the closets are roomy.  I have planned out organizing systems to put in the closets (instead of just the couple rods we have installed now) to maximize the space for clothing storage.  If my dreams come true, those closets and maybe even some built-in bookshelves will happen before D-Day.

#5 This is just a little thing, but I feel like a genius for figuring it out:  I’m going to use a backpack for a diaper bag this time around. (Because my 2 hands will be full of 2 babies.)  Actually, for the last 4 years, I haven’t really used a diaper bag.  I just threw a few extra diapers and wipes in my purse.  I’m not one of those moms who feels like she needs 50 things to be prepared.  However, new babies do require a few extra supplies (like clothing changes and burp rags) and I’ll have to pack all that x2, plus Baby Bean is still in diapers.  So I for sure need a dedicated diaper bag, and it for sure needs to be as hands-free and easy to organize as possible.  I know I won’t actually use the organizing pockets as well as I could, but I plan on having a zipper pouch for each baby–or at least each size diaper.  That way I can say, “Cherry Pie, get the yellow pouch and change Twin A.”  Then the pouch can get tossed back in the backpack and yet it stays organized.

Yep, I feel like a genius for figuring that out.

I’m sure more changes are coming down the line, and I’ll roll with them as they come.  Life’s exciting and, yes I am busy.  But busy is ok.
#6. Oh yes, I got my hair cut even shorter. Easier is better, right?  I think I like it.


Saving Money on Groceries: Part 1

27 Apr

I just found out that I’m doing pretty well on saving money buying food.

For 2 years I’ve been a member of the local MOPS chapter.  (Moms Of PreSchoolers )  It has been a super fun way to meet other moms in my community.  I’ve made lots of new friends and had a rejuvenating and often inspiring morning at each of our meetings.  (Plus there is food.)  Last Friday I was asked to be one of the moms on a panel discussion  on how to save money and grocery shop on a budget.

Now I am always trying to save money on food, and I feel like I do pretty well sometimes, but I often feel like I can do much better.  In fact, I’m often very critical of myself and how much money I waste giving into impulse, poor planning, and convenience food.  I’ve always assumed that I spend about the same as my friends do on food, maybe more than some and a little less than others.

So I wrote down my ideas–things that have helped me.  When it was my turn to share my tips, I began by saying that I always like it when budget and money saving shows share real numbers so I would share mine.

For the past 3 months (because that’s what I have data for)  I fed my family of 10 for $615 each month.

Mouths fell open around the room as all the moms stared at me in shock.  They listened to my tips and had about a hundred questions.

I guess I have more to share on this subject than I thought.  So here are my tips–maybe they can help you as well.  Be sure to share your tips with me too!!

According to Angela Coffman, The Grocery Shrink, ( you should be able to feed your family a healthy variety of food according to the following formula:  $100 per male age 12+, $75 per female age 12+, $50 per child age 2-11, and $30 for infants 0-2 (if you are pregnant, count the baby as well). However, the Grocery Shrink regularly attempts to feed her family for $50 per person.    I like to just simplify that to $100 per adult and $50 per child.  You can decide whether your teenagers eat enough to count as adults yet or not.

In my house, I have 3 males (age 12 and up) 2 females (age 12 plus), 4 children (age 2-11) and 3 infants (age 0-2)

So by Angela’s formula, I should be able to feed my family on $740 per month.  It would be nice if I had that much money to spend on groceries.

By my simplified formula, I try to feed the family on $600 a month or less.  I include all fast food and restaurants, but I do not include any non-food items like plastic wrap, dishwasher soap, etc. I have a separate household budget for that stuff.

The last 3 months I’ve averaged $615 per month for food.  You may remember that we eat mostly vegan.  I had hoped that when I stopped buying meat that our grocery bill would go down, but now we eat lots more nuts and veggies and fruit than we used to, so it pretty much evened out.  Except that meat prices have gone up  significantly in the last 2 years and I haven’t felt that worry of how to buy meat that often costs twice as much than it did.

#1 TIP: 

I make as much food from basic ingredients as I can.  It costs less, tastes better, and eliminates all the preservatives and garbage that come in processed food.

I make my own whole wheat bread & rolls, yogurt, rice milk, crackers, granola, salad dressing

***my family eats about 1 ½-2 gallons of yogurt per week, and a gallon of milk costs much less than a gallon of yogurt, so it is much less expensive to make my own.

***my family eats 4-6 loaves of bread per week.   I try to bake bread twice a week, but sometimes I only get around to it once.  In that case, I often make biscuits to go with soup when we’ve run out of bread.

***I buy my brown rice for 50 cents/pound and ½ cup of rice = .12 cents for 2 quarts of rice milk.  At the grocery store, rice milk costs $3-4 per carton (I think a carton is close to 2 Quarts, but it may be less.)

***homemade wheat thins take less than 15 minutes to make and my kids love them.


Except when I have a baby that is just learning to eat solid food, I avoid buying crackers and other convenient “snack items.”  Instead I make my own.  The snacks my kids love:  Homemade crackers, mini-muffins, Peanut Butter Popcorn, smoothies, bread sticks, Spicy Potato Wedges, fruit or veggies & dip.

**homemade whole-wheat bread & rolls are very nutritious and filling. Bread makes the best snack/ alternate dinner for picky kids.

I will be sharing my recipes for these items in the weeks coming up, as well as sharing more tips for saving money at the grocery store.

Baby Bean is 8 months old

11 Sep

Lesue Family (153)

Baby Bean is 8 months old.

She is 30 inches long and weighs 21 pounds.  Most of my other babies were not that big even at a year old.

She has grown so fast, it’s like watching someone’s life on fast forward, it kind of takes my breath away.  Pardon me the Twilight reference, but it’s like I have a vampire-human hybrid baby.  She is crawling and pulling up to stand.  When she crawls, she stomps her hands and knees down like  “HERE COMES THE BABY!”  When she starts walking, I’m pretty sure the house will shake.  This week she climbed up our stairs all the way to the top.

She says “mama”  when she is crying and wants out of her crib, and when she sees a dog, she says “gog!”  She is my first baby to say mama before dada.

I feel like she is a super good baby because when I hold her she doesn’t cry.  (I had a little brother who cried all the time no matter what, so I know it can be worse.)  My sister says I should have a higher standard and that good babies are happy to lie in their swing or play on the floor for hours while mom gets housework done.

…yeah, I’ve never had a baby who would do that.  Baby Bean does play happily if she has just been fed and I stay in relatively one spot.  If I try to walk away, she starts crawling after me and howling.

She puts everything she can grab in her mouth. She finds every bit of candy wrapper/trash/dead bug and eats it as fast as possible.  We haven’t had candy in the house since Easters, but she finds foil wrappers almost daily it seems.

Getting her to sleep through the night has been kind of hard. She did very well for awhile and then suddenly had to be touching my skin to stay asleep.  Finally, I thought I had it figured out.  I was so tired and desperate for sleep that I left her in her crib to cry and before 5 minutes passed, she was asleep and slept through the night.  3 days in a row, she slept through the night.  Victory!  I thought.  I told my friend that I had figured it out.  Then she got her immunizations.  (Which I totally believe everyone should get.)  But she was miserable for 2-3 days, and she needed me.  Back to sleeping with me she was.

I tried the letting her cry thing again, but 5 minutes is the maximum amount of time I can stand to hear her cry without getting her, and either she’s figured that out, or she just still needs me.

I have figured out some things though:

#1  if she falls asleep nursing, 9 times out of 10 she will wake up as soon as I put her down in her crib.  So I feed her, but try to make sure she doesn’t fall asleep until after she is done eating.

#2  if she is still wide awake at 10:30  and I’m desperate (I have to get up at 4:45 a.m.), I can put her in her crib.  She will cry until I come get her again, but 5 minutes of crying wears her out enough that she will go to sleep by 11. Is that terrible of me?   I’d be delirious with happiness if I could get her to sleep by 9 p.m. but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen any time soon.  11 p.m. is my max

#3 Sometimes she will sleep through the night after all that, and sometimes I wake up in the morning and wonder how she ended up in bed with me, but that 1-2 hours of sleep that happen before midnight make all the difference for me.


I sure love her a lot.  I try to restrain myself from covering her fat cheeks with kisses and blowing raspberries on her neck when I’m in public places.  But lots of times I forget.

Happy Mother’s Day 2014

11 May


Today was Cherry Pie’s first time to give a talk for Sacrament Meeting, she being newly 12. I looked up several stories, scriptures, and quotes for her. She chose a story from our family history to share and the quote she wanted.


Today is Mother’s Day. Today we remember and honor our Mothers. Our mothers give us life. They teach us the gospel. They feed us. They keep us from eating too much candy. They help us feel better when we are sad.

President Monson said: May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.

I would like to share with you a story about my great great great grandmother, Lucy Ann Bingham. Lucy Ann had 13 children. In the spring of 1908, her youngest child, Florence, who was 6 years old, became very sick with scarlet fever. Lucy’s husband was away. Her neighbors were so afraid, they passed by the house on the far side of the street. With humble faith and patient work, Lucy Ann nursed Florence back to health. But before Florence was quite well, her 12 year old daughter, Bertha became sick. For 2 whole weeks, Bertha’s fever burned at 106*F every day. The doctor said there was no hope. He told others in town that he did not know why or how the child was still alive.
Lucy Ann worked and fasted and prayed. Bertha asked for a priesthood blessing, but the family was quarantined and no elders would come. After 2 weeks, suddenly Lucy Ann could tell that her daughter was dying. She gathered her children together around Bertha’s bed and prayed, “Heavenly Father give us wisdom to know what to do, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” Just then, she heard out in the street, one man call to another. She went out and called to them, “My daughter is dying, are you afraid to come in and administer to her?” The 2 men left their horses in the street, came in, washed their hands, knelt by Bertha’s bed and anointed her with oil. Before they had finished the blessing, Bertha’s eyes were closed in peaceful sleep and her fever was gone. Lucy Ann’s prayers and the prayers of her children had been answered.

Later, Lucy Ann’s daughter wrote:
Mother’s hopes were high; that we, her children, would always remember and do the things she taught us, by her life, her words, and especially her deeds.
“Are there any sick among you?” She was there.
“Are you burdened with sorrow or shame?” a touch of her toil worn hand or words of encouragement she gave with a smile. Honor the Lord’s anointed. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy! If you cannot say anything good of people, say nothing at all. But if you look you will find good. Remember a tenth of your earnings belong to the Lord. These are words of our Savior, but they came to us from our mother’s lips.

I think all of our mothers have the same hope that we will remember and do the things they teach us and that we will obey the Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Getting Ahead of the Housework

4 Jul
For almost 13 years, I have been on a quest to improve my house cleaning skills enough that I’m not ashamed when people come over.  Also I like to have the house clean because I am happier when things are neat and uncluttered. I feel so peaceful when things are neat and so out of control and cranky when things are messy. 
Myths/Lies I told myself:
  • If I can just get more organized, the house will be clean.
  • If I weren’t so lazy, the house would be clean.
  • If I would get up at 5 a.m. every morning, the house would be clean.
I’ve read many books on the subject.  These are some of them:
Organizing from the Inside Out- Julie Morgenstern
Time Management from the Inside Out- Julie Morgenstern
The Art of Homemaking- Daryl Hoole
Make Your House do the Housework- Don Aslett
Is there Life After Housework?- Don Aslett
No time to Clean- Don Aslett
How to have a 48 hour day- Don Aslett
Sink Reflections- Marla Cilley
The Ultimate Career- Daryl Hoole
It’s all too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff – Peter Walsh
The Sisterhood of Wonderful Wacky Women- Suzy Toronto
I’ve been to many time management classes.  I’ve made schedules, weekly plan sheets, lists, color coded spread sheets, chore charts, chore binders.
Only one thing has worked.  Achieving this one thing has brought not just success, but lasting success. 
Want to know the secret?  
Here it is:
Reduce the amount of Cleaning.
That’s right, the only way to keep up on the sisyphean task of keeping a house clean is to make it so there is less cleaning that has to be done. I still have more reducing to achieve.  But I’ve had some success. Here is my short list for how I have managed it (and how you can too!):
  1. Get rid of stuff.  De-Junk, De-clutter, De-treasure.  Re-shuffling piles of stuff around isn’t cleaning.  I gave away half of the family’s clothing and saved myself hours of laundry time every week.  None of the kids has had to go naked yet.  (Though one of them goes nekkid by choice quite often. And I think we can all agree that there is a difference between naked–as in “Naked came I into the world”–and nekkid–as in “plum stark nekkid.”)
  2.  Get traffic mats.   Good mats at every door will stop so much dirt from entering your house.  Dirt that you don’t have to clean up if it isn’t there.
  3. Put things away right the first time.  If it is in your hand, put it away right- it will take less time than if you drop it any old place and then have to go back later to put it away.  Unless a child is in mortal peril, you have time to put things where they go.
  4. Clean as you go. Example: Fold clothes as you pull them out of the dryer.  It hardly takes more time than pulling them out and mashing them into a laundry basket.
  5. Set a timer.  When you are cleaning, set a timer for 15 minutes and race it.  See what you can get done.  We’ve all performed cleaning miracles in the 2 minutes from when we saw an unexpected car pull into our driveway and when the doorbell rang.  Have a miracle every day and then have more time for what you really want do do. (Like read a good book!)
  6. Wait for your toddlers to grow up.
If you need more help with #1, especially if you are really emotionally attached to all your stuff, I recommend  It’s all too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff – Peter Walsh.
For more ideas like #2, I recommend one of Don Aslett’s books;  Make Your House do the Housework is my favorite.
For more help with #3 & #4 the best one is  Sink Reflections- Marla Cilley
To remind yourself that being a mom is so much more than keeping a house clean, read one of Daryl Hoole’s books.  

If you are still waiting on #6, sit down with your toddler and read him a book.  You’ll both feel better.
D&C 42:41 And let all things be done in cleanliness before me.
Psalms 51:10  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Being a Mom is kind of like being Bipolar

13 Jun

Some days I feel like this:

My children are smart and amazing and I am so blessed.

Some days I feel like this:

Trophy Days

8 Jun

Twelve years ago, I was a brand new mother, sitting at church, with my new baby boy in my arms. Somebody said gloomily from the pulpit, “They don’t give out trophies for being a mother.”

I think the gist of what they meant was that being a mom and raising children right is important, even though the world doesn’t recognize it as a prestigious job/occupation/career.

But as I sat there, I thought to myself, Maybe they don’t hand out trophies, but there will be some “trophy days.” The day my child turns 8 and is baptized a member of the church, that will be a trophy day. The day my son turns 12 and helps to pass the sacrament for the first time, that will be a trophy day.

I don’t mean trophy in the sense that everyone would recognize my “achievements” and heap praise on me as the winner of something. But trophy in the sense that the happiness I would feel on those days would be like the happiness you feel when you finish a race and you feel that all that hard work and sweat and days of running in the rain and running in the heat were all worth it. Or when you receive highest marks on your piano solo at Music Festival and all those hours of practicing until your back ached and your fingers were too stiff to move are *nearly* forgotten/forgiven in the glow of those highest marks.

As I decided what days my trophy days would be, I admitted to myself that they would be few and far between–an allowance for that person who thought there weren’t any trophies at all.

Now 12 years have passed. I am mother of not 1 but 6 children. I have a new baby. My little baby that was is now a 12 year old boy and will be ordained a deacon on Sunday. In another month a daughter will turn 8 and be baptized.

Those trophy days aren’t few and far between at all.

And there have been many more trophy days that I never dreamed of twelve years ago.

Days of finding little scraps of wrinkled paper love notes on my pillow.

Days when a child comes home from school with a poem they had to write about the color brown, and they wrote about brown hair waving in the wind.

Days when I ask the kids to clean up and they actually do it without complaining or fighting.

Days when I’m sick and my 3 year old curls up in the bed next to me and pats my neck with her little hand because that is the best kind of comfort she knows how to give.

Days like last Sunday, when the DH was gone to guard drill and I had an early morning church meeting. I set breakfast on the table, woke up the children, and asked them to eat and dress themselves for church, promising to be back in one hour. When I returned home, they were dressed with shoes on and even hair brushed, ready to get in the van. (p.s. I did take the baby with me)

On Sunday, when I shared these thoughts, I said at the end, “Every day is a trophy day when you are a mom.” That was just nerves, realizing I’d said what I’d thought and didn’t know quite how to end and get away from the microphone… and maybe a bit of the emotion of the moment making me feel like that if I were a perfect human, I would find those trophy moments every day. I know that every day isn’t a trophy day.
But they are there, generously sprinkled in, and they are what remind me to be happy when the struggle of life has made me forget.