Dear Wise Readers,

Just pretend that you’re Dear Abby (except with the kind of morals that you don’t tell people that they should be proud of the life they’ve chosen for themselves even though it’s riddled with sin and selfishness), and hit me with your best advice.  These are real questions, some dumber than others, that would greatly benefit from your insights.  Pick and choose, or if you’re infinitely smarter than I am, go ahead and answer them all.  (I made up little pseudonyms to sign off each question because maybe that will make you forget that there’s ONE person out there with all these issues.)


  1. Will my laundry situation improve or get worse if I buy more towels and sheets?  We seem to always be running out.  —MAYBE MORE IS BETTER
  2. I’ve been asked to give a talk in church on a big ol’ topic that could take hours to discuss, but I’ve been given 13 minutes.  How do you narrow it down without feeling like you’ve left out some really important stuff?  —CAN’T SHUT UP
  3. When I walk from room to room in my house and see huge projects that need to be done in each one, I get a little panicky and shut down.  I know you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time, but how can I get my brain to just think about the one bite instead of the whole blasted elephant?  —I THINK I’M GOING BACK TO BED NOW
  4. Another laundry question.  I have serious doubts about whether or not the clothes that come through the laundry are dirty or not.  I wonder if many of them have even been worn or if maybe they just fell off a hanger.  Is there any way to minimize this problem without being a 24-hour monitor that has to question and sniff each item of laundry as it is placed in the dirty-clothes pile?  —HAMPER GOALIE
  5. Does anyone have good ideas for cold-weather after-school snacks?  I keep trying to think of a warm snack, but everything I think of is cookies or desserts.  Any ideas for healthy, cozy after-school snacks I can use during the Winter months?— BECAUSE A BAGEL IS GETTING OLD
  6. I have a lot of dried beans in food storage and I really need to learn how to use them this year.  I love soups and stuff, but I never remember to use my beans in time.  They’re supposed to soak overnight, right?  How can I work them into my regular meal schedule?  —OVERWHELMED BY BUCKETS OF BEANS
  7. This one’s a little heavy, but how does one apply the Atonement to all the “little stuff”? It’s easier to identify the application when there are big issues, major sins, or heavy burdens.  I wish I understood better how to hand over all my small struggles (the recurring shortcomings or undeveloped attributes) and tap into the Savior’s ability to “fix” it.  Any thoughts?  —TRYING TO GET IT RIGHT

33 thoughts on “Dear Wise Readers,

  1. Dear Maybe (aka #1): More is not necessarily better. The Universal Rule of Laundry states that no matter what you do and how many sets of towels (sheets, socks, underwear, shirts, etc) you have, none of it will EVER be clean when you need them to be.

    Dear Don’t Say Shut Up (aka #2): Plan a talk for 20 minutes but stop it when your time on the clock is up, simply say there is so much more you could say, but in the interest of time, you’ll leave it for another time. I guarantee that whatever you say in 13 minutes, you will have given the congregation something meaningful. It’s up to them to ponder and discover the importance. Even if you only cover one point of a thousand, it’s beneficial. PS if you see me with my eyes closed or looking zoned out on Sunday during the meeting, it is NOT because I am not listening. I pay attention better without visual input. Really.

    As for the rest, I’m anxious to hear others’ advice because I suffer similar issues, (escpecially #3). Except for the afterschool snack thing. My children are locusts and will eat whatever they can scrounge.

  2. Sheets: I keep two sets of sheets for every bed. Since we have three twin size beds then I have six sets. If one kid is sick and needs to use more than the two sets I have for his/her bed, I will “borrow” a set from another kid if the original sets are not clean. Works for my house…

    Talk: Pick one aspect of the topic you have had a personal experience with. Share the relevant scripture and quote and then tell your story and how it built your testimony of that principle. Most gospel topics could yield hours of sermons, but the short/simply/sweet/original stories are always the best.

    Clean laundry: Happens a lot at my house too. In fact, i kept seeing a doll’s dress go through the laundry–I KNOW no one wore that. I finally pulled it out and buried it in the toy box. Haven’t seen it for a while. I have not figured out yet how to prevent kids from doing it with their own clothes.

    After school snacks: It is too hot in Arizona for hot snacks. In the summer we get sick of popsicles. What about cheese and crackers–you could melt the cheese on the crackers (my brother used to do that). Cup of soup? Hot chocolate with graham crackers? That’s about all the ideas I’ve got.

  3. I have no idea with the laundry stuff. I don’t mind laundry because it gives me a chance to watch TV guilt-free. I also have no idea on the projects throughout the house. I currently have 3 bedrooms screaming to be cleaned and I sit here, blogging. (BTW, when will the put blogging in the dictionary and get rid of the red squiggles under the word?!)

    Something that my kids and I are enjoying right now are grilled cheese sandwiches with delicious Velveeta. They aren’t in school, so it’s usually our lunch, but could possibly be a good, warm, snack.

    As for the talk, pick what YOU think is most important. Or the two or three things you think are most important, and talk about them. Mention the other aspects briefly and that you don’t have time to go into them. Also, you might prepare a little bit on those things in case you end up with 30 minutes instead of 13. (Lots of sickies right now. And short-winded youth speakers.)

    My thoughts on the Atonement: have you read “The Peacegiver”? That book helped me gain of testimony of the Atonement not just being for sinners. One small thought about it: I think it’s easy to think that our small problems aren’t important enough for us to ask Christ for help. But that’s kind of like saying, “I know you covered the big stuff, but not the little stuff.” It’s like saying His sacrifice wasn’t *quite* enough.

    As parents, we want our children to do all the big things, and we want to help them get there. i.e. We want them to go to college, and earn scholarships. But we realize that those things aren’t singular events. They are the culmination of years and years of hard work. As parents we recognize that good study habits, developed in elementary school, will lead to good study habits in high school. Good grades are earned one assignment at a time. Over time, those assignments become B’s and A’s, and eventually (hopefully!) acceptance to college. Maybe even scholarships. And if we keep the big picture in mind and help our kids to do the same, we will be willing to help them with the small stuff, which leads to the big stuff.

    If we can’t turn to Christ in the moments where we’re locked in the bathroom trying not to yell at our kids, how are we going to turn to Him when the big stuff comes? If we aren’t letting him ease our “small” burdens, how are we even going to recognize when they become big burdens that could break us?

    Wow. Didn’t know I had all that in me today.

  4. #1: less is more. I’m all for the two sets per bed idea, but that just works for my personal routine. And towels – make towel holders with their name over the peg so they know where to put their towel. Or have a towel with their name embroidered on it. It worked for my aunt and uncle and their seven kids. And if they don’t hang it up I guess they’ll just have to run around cold and naked until they find it. 🙂 And then you only have five towels to wash every week (or two, or three, I mean honestly. Who really washes their towels weekly because they want to? 🙂 ). Oh, enforce the rule of not getting a new towel every day. Pointless.

    #3: Totally do that. I went to a therapist and this was a topic that was brought up. Have a family/spouse project day that gets you caught up and then make yourself not hit that thresh-hold that makes you need to get in the car and drive to Target and look at pretty things. Also: take really deep breaths that relax your diaphragm and belly. Use your belly to breathe. What you are doing is panicking and giving in to the flight and not the fight. So: don’t hit your threshold, but if you do, just breathe and relax so you can fight and conquer. (Yay for therapists! lol)

    #4: Have about 7-9 outfits per child. Do not let this number increase. This way you will know what clothes they have and have a vague idea of which ones they’ve worn. Don’t be like my SIL #1 where they have *literal* mountains of laundry. Be like SIL #2 and keep a finger on what’s going on. Make sure you get rid of too-small clothes that you won’t need soon.

    That’s all I’ve got. I don’t have beans or snacks in general (except crackers and cheese and fruit). The little stuff and the Atonement are a little beyond my understanding. And my talks are generally between 5 and 12 minutes long. Well, I guess I could help with that.

    #2: Drop the details. Don’t sweat it, SQUET it. Scripture QUote Example Testimony. Repeat the first three, end with the last. Right? I just make an outline of what’s the most important to me and fill up the time with the whys and what fors and examples that make it personal. More general examples than specific so that it’s applicable in most situations. I hope this helps rather than hinders.

    • I was also going to suggest the fly lady! I didn’t grow up in a clean home and when I became a mom I literally didn’t know HOW to keep a house clean, laundry done, etc. Her system is very doable. Stephanie, you are what she would define as a SHE- a Sidetracked Home Executive. (aren’t we all?) Her book is called Sink Reflections. It really helped me out.

  5. #3–Don’t worry about everything–who can do it all???? Rejoice in all the great things you are doing, and from what I read, my dear, you do a WHOLE LOT.

    #4–Through the years I think lots of my laundry was not dirty but kids who were “too lazy to hang it up–much easier to throw it in the hamper”. The solution–let them wash and hang it up or put it away. Magically the load gets lighter.

    #7–Those little issues can make the burden get very heavy.

    Hang in there.

  6. #3-Dear Back to Bed, Force yourself to tackle those first few little bites, and maybe by going through the motions of it, your brain will follow.

    #4-Dear Goalie, I have a husband who puts a lot of clean clothes in the laundry and I reached the end of my rope with washing clothes that I suspected were clean. His clean freak germophobe mom told me she used to hang his clothes back up that she thought were clean. I figured if she did it, so can I! So if the laundry piles seem unusually huge, I know to be on the lookout for clean looking clothes. If it looks goober-free and/or has fold creases in it, I put it right into the clean clothes basket. If I got it wrong, and one was dirty, he’ll figure it out, and put it back in the dirty clothes basket. Your kids may not, but would it really be the end of the world if they wore an unwashed but clean looking shirt one time?

    #5 Dear Old Bagel, Would your kids eat baked apples or baked pears? Yum. You’ve inspired me to care about after school snacks!

  7. 1. I agree with the other commenters. More just means more laundry. One set of sheets/one towel per person and wash once a week. (Sickness obviously necessitates more washing.)
    2. I agree with the 2-3 main points to focus on. Pray about what they people in your ward need to hear & what you need to learn.
    3. My husband is like this. Pick one thing and when your mind starts to wander to all the other things, catch yourself and re-focus on the thing you’re doing. Maybe make a do-able list of the 1 or 2 things you are going to do that day, and then goals for the week, so that you know things will get done, just not all at once.
    4. My husband is the biggest offender of this one at my house. I think Tay had a good suggestion on this one.
    5. Toast with peanut butter or cheese toast?
    6. I’m not good at this one. Try That Girl at Pensivity. She seems to be the Bean Queen.
    7. I liked Wonder Woman’s comment. Nothing is too little for the Lord. Would you want your child to be privately struggling and frustrated about something you could help them with? The Lord feels the same way. I know since being a mom I’ve gotten better about asking the Lord for help on things that I never would have thought I would pray about–very mundane issues but things that were causing me stress. I’ve been surprised by the simple promptings I’ve gotten about what to do.

    (I don’t think you’ve got any more issues than any of the rest of us. You’re just brave enough to put them out there and let us all put our heads together about them. I think it’s a genius idea, actually.)

  8. #3 – I love me a list. Very specific, and long. All the better I feel when I cross each little thing off it (empty forks from the dishwasher. Empty knives. Empty glasses…)

    #6 – did you know you can do beans in the crock pot? Like for burritos? Just don’t salt until they’re done.

    #7 – The adorable Brad Wilcox just came to talk to my kids at a fireside last night. He had some great atonement counsel – mainly that the idea of the atonement is not to get us to Heaven, but to *change* us so that when we get home, we’ll be comfortable enough to stay there. It was a precious thought to me.

  9. I am going to agree with what has been said in the previous comments and go directly to the last question. The first thing that popped into my head, we (you and I) have to be looking for the “tender mercies of the Lord” in order to recognize the small and simple things of life in order to fully use the Atonement. Elder Bednar’s gave a talk in April 2005 he states: “. . .as you and I face challenges and tests in our lives, . . . that reach beyond our own capacity. . .” he shares with us “two examples of the tender mercies of the Lord. Repentance and forgiveness. . .”

    As I have struggled over the years to find the tender mercies of the Lord, I have been able to recognize my weakness and strengths which have led me on personal journeys. These journeys have helped me to recognize when I need the atonement the most and have helped me make “weak things become strong.” The sad thing is. . .it takes time and patience and most of the time when I recognize the “small stuff” it usually hits me so much harder emotionally than the “big things”. The reason I think that is because usually I am more “attached” to “small things” than I am the “big things” and the Lord is providing me a way to become more like him.

    I hope this makes sense. Thank you for asking this question, today I have been struggling with an issue and I needed to reminded that the Atonement is the only way possible to fix it. Thank you.

  10. I need some bean advice too. I’ll offer my one bit of info: Cook the beans and puree them. Then put in them in freezer and use the bean puree in place of oil in your cakes, cookies and brownies. No fat and lots of fiber. I’ve done it with brownies and honestly, you couldn’t taste them. I got that from Everyday Food Storage. Good luck with the rest of it!

  11. You have gotten a ton of great ideas from people, as usual. The only one i can really contribute on is grilled cheese (or tuna) sandwiches, homemade crackers (they are surprisingly easy and delicious). Hot cider is always good, too.

  12. #1 The only way more helps is that you don’t have to clean them as often. I have a lot of towels, and this way, I can do a load or two of towels every Saturday instead of having to wash them every couple of days. More is probably better. I also have two sets of sheets for each bed, so when I strip the beds, I don’t feel like I have to immediately wash them. That might not be helpful, actually.

    #2 Just pick an aspect of the topic and focus on that. That’s what I’d do. But then, I always hope that I can get away with a 5 minute talk.

    #3 I have this same problem. There is a reason I named my blog Overstuffed. I really struggle with not seeing the huge picture and I always freak out and many times actually do go back to bed. Empathy here, but not a lot of solution.

    #4 I just wash them unless I KNOW that it is clean. However, I probably remind my kids ten times a day to not put clean clothes in the hamper for heaven’s sake! I did notice moving the hamper to the bathroom instead of their bedroom has made a slight difference.

    #5 I often make rolls. But those aren’t necessarily healthy, unless you do whole wheat. But I like the Pillsbury in a can. Not healthy. Yeah, that’s a hard one.

    #6 No advice or comment.

    #7 I just got the BEST book called Weakness is not Sin. Order it a deseret book. It’s amazing, and it addresses this very subject.

  13. Heres my run-down. I dont have all the answers – but I’m feeling snarky.

    1.More is not better. When I have more- it gives me an excuse to put off the aundry I shoudl be doing.

    2.I dont want you to shut-up, and becuase I am the boss of the universe. I WIN. Your Welcome.

    3.You can make an organized LIST of the projects that need to be done, and start checking it off. Just making the list will make you feel better.

    4. I say, if it looks clean. It is. Then after an hour when the child starts to stink – you can determine that was dirty and they can change. Or not. You can just make them play outside to air it out. In the meantime, tape, or block off a section of your laundry room to put the tings you definitely know are clean, and are wating to be put away. Or move their dressers into the laundry room, and things are super easy to put away.

    5. I have no snack ideas, I am lame at that stuff. Granola with warmed up milk???

    6. Beans, Beans the muscial fruit. I was in a play once about magic beans. Who knows????? Maybe they are MAGIC.

    7. Knowledge. Joseph Smith siad that our salvation is gained through knowledge. Knowledge about who you are, and what your intimate relationship with the Savior feels like. His character. His goodness. Knowledge that allows you to have an eternal perspective on what is going on. Or what Elder Bednar says. “WHat is really happening” As you progess in knowledge, the “little things” that hold us back, slip away. The power of the Atonement is activated by the knowledge we gain.
    There you go.

  14. 1. Buy more. You’ll do more laundry, but less often. It’s worth the trade off.

    2. It would help to know what the topic is. Email me? Also, pick an audience. Do you want to talk to the primary? the youth? the recent converts? scripture gurus who understand Isaiah? Pick one and cater your talk to them. Don’t try to cover all of them.

    3. If you ever figure this out, let me know. I have the same problem.

    4. The only real solution is to have everyone do their own laundry. Until that become feasible, I’m afraid we’re stuck with sniffing.

    5. Snack ideas: muffins! We make fresh muffins at least twice a week. Pumpkin muffins, cheese muffins, banana muffins, blueberry muffins, bran muffins … It never gets old because you can always change the flavor. Use whole wheat and applesauce instead of all-purpose flour and butter, and they become super healthy. Also, tuna melts (tuna salad with cheese broiled on top – just a half), quick breads (like banana, etc.), and hard boiled eggs (HOT!) Don’t laugh at the egg idea – it’s a great protein and perfect to hold you til dinner!

    6. I actually blogged about how to make beans in a pressure cooker (the fastest way). Email me if you want recipes. I have a TON.

    7. For me, this goes hand in hand with #3. Breaking down a big problem into small, manageable problems. Again, this is a work in progress for me, and I don’t feel worthy or capable of advising this particular one.

    Pssst. Abby’s readers were “gentle,” weren’t they? “Wise” puts on the pressure!

  15. #1: I’ll send you some ofours. We obviously have way too many!

    #2: Make it personal. The personal slant is always best, most interesting and allows the spirit to testify most readily because it’s a personal witness.

    #3-5 This is my life. I have no advice for you here.

    #6. Just decide the night before you’re having soup tomorrow, and soak your troubles away!

    #7. Sounds like THIS should be the topic for your talk. THIS is excellent!

  16. the beans- we soak black beans and then put them in the crock pot and make black bean & chicken burritos. A family favorite. And pretty healthy! My friend used to pressure cook hers and put them in chilis and made pinto beans into refried beans. Good for quick burrito dinner or a chip dip.

    about the Atonement question- I know the Lord hears my prayers when I petition for help with little things. Ex: I said a prayer today for help to begin cleaning our home and use my time wisely with the children. I was feeling very overwhelmed and grumpy. I felt better and I got some things done. It’s as if the Lord just helped me calm down so I could do the things I needed to. Perhaps you could ask to see and notice when He helps you. I think we all get better at the little things so gradually that it is difficult to see your own progress. Remember the scripture in 3 Nephi 9:20 about the Lamanites who at the time of their conversion were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost *and they knew it not.* We’re getting there. We are. Line upon line. Precept upon precept. Here a little and there a little. “…Continue in patience until ye are perfected.” I think that each time we repent, we’re a little better than we used to be. I’m noticing that as I’ve tried hard to be more patient and get angry less.

    With your talk- seek out the Spirit. Choose 1 or 2 principles and expand on them. Simple is best. The Spirit is the real teacher.

  17. #1 Sheets & towels: Laundry improves in that it takes longer to get to the point where you’re drying off with Kleenex. Storage, however, becomes an issue. When all our towels are clean at the same time, they fill a small storage unit.

    #2 Choose one aspect of the subject and talk for 13 minutes on that aspect.

    #3 Take certain elements of the project that are universal, like trash. Go to all the rooms with a garbage bag and collect all the trash. Then do the same with anything laundry related. Then collect “stuff” that isn’t necessary & put it in a box for goodwill. That will cull out a lot of the hard parts of your project areas.

    #4 I have never regretted re-washing. Sniffing, on the other hand…

    #5 Warm bread, warm rolls, flavored oatmeals, grilled cheese sandwiches, Alpine spiced cider, cream of chicken soup made w/ milk.

    #6 Donate the beans to a pre-school for purposes of gluing to construction paper, and get on with your life.

    #7 Marisa’s answer is perfect.

  18. My solution for #6 …. an electric pressure cooker. Cooked to perfection … no soaking … about 35 minutes once to pressure. It’s my life, er I mean, dinner saver.

  19. 1. More is not always better. I have 1 set of sheets for each bed in our house. Our house is small and that works for us.
    6. Ditch the beans. No guilt. Or you can always use them to make 1,001 bean bags and then sell them on Etsy. Then you get rid of the beans in truly guilt-free way.
    7. Heavenly Father’s grace and love is all around us, from the big things to the details. it is up to us to quiet ourselves enough to feel it. He is there.

  20. Here’s a “to all the questions in general” answer.

    Step 1 Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to get it all right. That your life has become unmanageable.

    Step 2 Recognize that there is a Power greater than yourself who can restore you to sanity.

    Step 3 Become willing to submit your life and your will to God.

    Step 4 Make a fearless and complete written moral inventory of yourself.

    Step 5 Talk over your inventory over with the Lord and one other person. (probably best not to use your husband on this one.)

    Step 6 Become entirely ready to have all these defects of character removed.
    (seems easy but do you really want to give up your comfort zone to be

    Step 7 Humbly pray to have all these weaknesses removed.

    Step 8 make a written list of all people you have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.
    (this says “become willing” not that you have to do it yet, When you are ready [ may take a few days, weeks or months to get there] you will want to do this one)

    Step 9 Make amends to them all except when to do so would injure them or others. (just clean up your side of the street with no expectations of them. Don’t worry if they are partly at fault or if they don’t accept your apology. You have done what you could)

    Step 10 Continue to take personal inventory of yourself and when you are wrong promptly admit it.

    Step 11 Sought through prayer and meditation to establish conscious contact with God.

    Step 12 Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps continue to practice these principles in all you do and share them with others.

    (a badly rendered edition of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that the Church has adapted for use in it’s Family Services Program.)

  21. Can’t help with the laundry… it’s the bane of my existence and is never, ever done at my house. We are always out of towels. I will say though, that making sure all clothes that no longer fit or are no longer in season completely out of reach has helped cut down on the washing clean clothes problem. I figured out that the kids would get up in the morning, put on an outfit, and then, when notified by their siblings that it wasn’t actually July anymore, would take the clothes off and throw them in the dirty clothes. Heh. So helpful.

    Warm snacks… toasted pita bread and hummus. Apple slices and warm caramel dip. Hot apple cider and cinnamon toast sticks. (just toast cut into little slivers… makes it more fun to eat.)

    As for the atonement…. have you read Virginia Hinckley Pearce’s book, A Heart Like His? It isn’t specifically about the atonement, but just the same, it taught me about truly feeling my Heavenly Father’s love, and identifying it in the little things. It encouraged me to truly ask, when I pray, to feel that love. I ask all the time now, but it’s never less miraculous, to feel that instant warmth… the reminder that He is always there, always ready. All I need to is ask. To feel that love is humbling and gratifying all at the same time. Because it reminds that he does love me, and me specifically, and helps me remember that the Atonement was an individual act of mercy for each one of us specifically. Big sin, small sin, little annoying sin that we can’t seem to shake, the love is still there. His forgiveness is constant, his love not conditional on whether or not we yelled at our children, or harbored ill will toward a neighbor. God gave us an example of perfection in His Son so that we would always have a goal, a benchmark, if you will… but He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. That’s WHY there was an atonement in the first place… because he knew we couldn’t be perfect. It’s so lovely, and so humbling, and so completely overwhelming all at the same time. I am so very grateful for that love. I think, for me, that’s what the Atonement is… the most perfect expression of God’s love. So when I ask to feel of God’s love, and He so readily responds… I know it’s working.

  22. I am with you on the beans. I’ve been following food storage made easy (not sure of the address, google it) and they have helped a lot. I really like using them now, and someimtes I cook 3 bags and freeze the others.
    And good luck with the rest. We’re all right there with you. 🙂
    P.S. Sometimes I think the atonement makes us in to a person who doesn’t WANT to scream bloody murder at their kids. I’m apparently only making baby steps towards that one.

  23. 1. This depends on if you have room for a little more laundry pile up in the laundry room. If so, then more definitely is better. The laundry pile gets a little higher, but the inconvenience of running out won’t be a factor. Personally, I have about three times as many towels as we actually need, but then, I have a BIG laundry room.
    2. This is a good time to turn to the example of those who have gone before. How have General Authorities handled the topic? What can you learn from what they chose to include and what to leave out?
    3. This is a huge problem for me too. I try to adopt a One-Room-at-a-Time mentality but even though I have some small successes, it’s hard for me to carry off in the long term. I do love the feeling of getting a whole room truly “done”…even if it doesn’t last very long.
    4. I keep a laundry hamper at the bottom of the stairs and chuck things down into it when and as I decide they’re dirty. One hamper makes for easier monitoring and forces me to deal with the laundry more often as it fills up.
    5. Mini-muffins (I confess, I make mine from a mix)? That’s all I’ve got…I need help on this one too.
    6. I mostly just make chilli, but half the time I forget about soaking the beans and just grab canned ones anyway.
    7. No idea. Sounds like a good topic for someone to write a book about when they do figure it out though.

  24. Laundry: no your laundry situation will not get better if you buy more towels or sheets, but you will have more towels and sheets which is helpful when guests come.

    Can’t Shut Up: My mission president often said, we can tell when the spirit is there when we have learned something. Share what you have learned on the subject, and then the Holy Ghost will teach the concept each specific person needs to learn.

    Back to bed: I read Fly Lady’s manual, and I felt she was a bit bossy, and her lists of chores to do every morning and each night were overwhelming and unrealistic. I did, however, like some of her basic concepts. Divide your house up into zones, and work on each zone for a week, rotating through the zones. Spend 15 minutes on a project, then move on to the next one. (This sometimes helps me not to spend all day cleaning the kitchen, I will spend 15 minutes on each room.) I also liked how she organized meals: Monday Pasta, Tuesday Mexican, Wednesday Comfort Food. Something that helped me as well, was try to have the house cleaner at night then it was when I woke up in the morning. That could just mean make my bed, and keep up with the mess, but hey at least I accomplished something. Going back to bed isn’t always bad. You may need a 20 minute nap to help you conquer a project.

    Clean things twice: not as bad as having your kids wear dirty clothes.

    Bagel is getting old: one of my favorite memories is eating popcorn, hot chocolate, apples, and cheese down in our family by the fire. It was cozy, warm, and somewhat healthy. Especially since we didn’t put any butter on the popcorn.

    Beans: my mom used to can beans, but if that is too much work there are many chocolate cake recipes with beans in them. It might also be a warm, healthy, afternoon snack.

    Trying to get it right: I love the Bible Dictionary reference to prayer. Elder Bednar used this recently in two conference talks on prayer. I decided to take another look at the dictionary. I always remember the definition that prayer is to align our will with God’s and not the other way around, but I noticed for the first time the very last segments of the reference: “We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ – when his words abide in us (John 15: 7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent his mind, but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.” As I pondered and started to think of this, I thought I should be praying in a manner that Christ would pray for others. So as I thought about my friends and my family, and thought about what Christ would say in a prayer for them–it was amazing: the inspiration, strength, and enabling power from the atonement I received. Then try thinking about what Christ would say if he was praying for you. The little things will fade, and his love will give you the strength you need to get it right: big and little.

    Now that I complained that Fly Lady was too bossy, I hope I didn’t come off bossy. You do get it right most of the time, it just doesn’t always feel like you do.

  25. Dear MAYBE MORE IS BETTER, Too much of a good thing, is wonderful. Consider getting color coded towels–each person gets one color, and they get one or two per week? Get yourself fluffy, beautiful ones and hog them all to yourself.

    Dear CAN’T SHUT UP, Narrow it down by thinking of your own personal experiences with this topic. By limiting it to personal experiences and testimonies, you will give a more powerful sermon, and it will narrow itself down.

    Dear I THINK I’M GOING BACK TO BED NOW, Um. I would go back to bed. That sounds like a lovely idea. Besides–look at how beautiful and clean your ceilings are!!

    Dear BECAUSE A BAGEL IS GETTING OLD, How about air-popped popcorn with fat free spray butter? Yummy. Hot orange juice or apple juice is delicious. Potato logs spritzed with olive oil and baked in the oven. After you get some of those beans soaked, put them in the blender–hot–and spice to taste. They make a terrific dip for baked chips.

    Dear OVERWHELMED BY BUCKETS OF BEANS, See above, or go find some yummy yummy recipes for Brazilian beans and rice. Tasty.

    In all seriousness–this was a prompting that came to me on my mission and has changed my life profoundly since then. Every morning when I say my prayers, I simply add this sentence: “Please, help me to apply the atonement in my life today.” And all of a sudden–it’s everywhere. It’s covering my mistakes and lost tempers. It’s covering my bad parenting moments, and helping me to have charity to those around me. Every night, I try to report back on the ways that I felt the atonement work, for me, that day. And I am filled with gratitude and absolute awe. It seems like a small thing, but it has made the atonement live and breathe in me. I hope maybe it will help you, too.

    Thanks, Steph. 🙂


  26. I have trouble enough keeping up with my own laundry. I’m not sure how someone with little kids survives. I’m one of those people that has to use a clean towel every day. (Yes, I know I have issues). One thing that I do is I don’t put all the clean towels in the linen closet. I have a few emergency ones stashed in the cedar chest. Just don’t tell anyone about your secret stash. And yes, I do own more towels than most large families.

    Another thing I learned from my mom is to put a load in the wash at night and dry it first thing in the morning. That’s 7 loads a week that aren’t sucking up your precious time.

  27. I loved all your commenters’ wisdom so far.

    #1 I have heard people say that if you have more clothes (or linens) you’ll have more laundry, but I don’t really understand that–everything that gets dirty has to be washed, right? So it’s just a question of whether you’re washing the same things more often. I do get what some are saying about storage issues, but I’m also a stock-upper personality, so my opinion would be to have more if you can find a place to put them. It’s just one less thing to stress about when you go through a spell of dirty-sheets and all the exhaustion that usually accompanies that. (Also, if you don’t have a front-loading washer, you might want to start saving up for one. I love mine.)

    #3: I wish I had hope to offer; I feel like I’ve gotten to where I’m a mouse trying to eat that elephant and I will NEVER succeed until my kids leave home (if then.) Also, I prefer to work on one project until it’s done but for a mom that’s often not possible so I’m always struggling with pacing and lost momentum. However, I do try to do things like setting a timer for a small finite time to work on something, or setting aside some time for something fun (setting it in concrete) that I will get to do as soon after I’ve tackled less pleasant tasks, so I have something to look forward to.

    #4 One of these days I am going to write a blog post about my laundry system, which is excruciatingly complex, but does work well enough that I don’t get very deeply buried under laundry very often. Here are two aspects of my system that might apply to your problem. 1) The dirty laundry baskets are in my bathroom (because that’s where they fit.) This means it’s hard to get kids to walk down the hall to put stuff in the laundry, but at least they are not throwing everything in without my knowing it. (Also, I’m reminded of what laundry needs doing every morning and night–not so fun, but effective.) 2) I don’t think clothes always need washing each time they’re worn (although some of my kids could go through several truly-dirty outfits a day.) My oldest will actually wear the same clothes for a few days in a row and only change when I tell him to, which I suppose I should be embarrassed about, but I’m just glad for the lighter laundry load. SO, each kid has one dresser drawer that’s for previously-worn clothes that aren’t yet dirty enough to need laundering. We call it their “worn clothes drawer.” (We used to call it the dirty-clothes drawer, but that gave the wrong idea.) Once a week I go through those drawers and pull out everything that does need laundering. (Before I had kids I’d already gotten in the habit of something similar with my own clothes–whenever I wear something, I hang it back up on the right side of my closet, so when I go looking to see if anything needs washing, I’m not looking through my whole wardrobe.)

    My system does entail a lot of nagging, though, so maybe it’s not what you’re looking for.

    #5 To be honest I’m not one who really cares whether my kids’ snacks are warm, (I liked what someone said about locusts,) but since you asked, how ’bout quesadillas or microwave nachos (we skip the toppings and just make them with cheese and chips)?

    #6 Like some others have mentioned, I make a crock-pot full and and freeze the extras in recipe-sized quantities. You DO need to presoak them and *discard the soak water.* I sounds like a lot of people skip this step, but rinsing off the soak water will help prevent excess gas and tummy-aches. I have a cookbook with a quick-soak method, but I’m lazy to go look it up so I’ll let you do an internet search. Mostly it involves heating them up and then turning off the heat while they soak.

    #7 I don’t have too much wisdom to offer here other than my testimony that (although I always forget it) small things and big things are all the same to the Lord. I absolutely loved what Becca said about praying to apply the atonement in her life that day–what a beautiful idea.

  28. I know I’m a little late commenting here, but this week I realized that I have problem #4 when I found my oldest son’s T-shirt in the dirty laundry basket WITH THE TAG STILL ON IT. Ugh.

    By the way, I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now and have three things to say:

    1. I LOVE your writing. I find myself nodding a lot, laughing out loud, and occasionally tearing up at an insight I needed to read that day. Thanks for telling it like it is.

    2. I really like the General Conference Book Club concept, and will get my act together one of these days, read the talk, AND comment all in the same week. 🙂

    3. We have the exact same wedding anniversary.

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