Having children 15 months apart is so close, was it hard? Our family thinks we are crazy for wanting to try having kids again when our first is only 4 months – but my biological clock is a ticking and we want a family of 5 or 6 kids!! Did you guys plan the time between each?

When Max was five months old I had been feeling nauseous and weird. I was convinced there was something wrong with me. It wasn’t the normal just tired-from-having-a-baby-on-my-hip-and-being-up-all-night kind of stuff, it was more than that.

So I decided I better make an appointment with the OB/GYN to figure out what the deal was. He took me in for an ultrasound to see if I may have some cysts or something wrong in there.

But there was nothing “wrong” at all.

In fact, there was something great: a nine-week-old baby swimming around.

To say we were shocked would be a serious understatement.

No, we certainly did not plan to have Max and Elle that close (they were actually only 14 months apart) and yes it was hard. Like, really, really hard at times. Having two babies that need completely different things was tricky. But man alive I’m so incredibly grateful they are so close! They are such good friends and I love love love that they are only one grade apart in school. I would have loved to do it again AFTER we took a three-year break in between Elle and Grace, but it just didn’t work that way (much to Dave’s delight:).

I think you just have to do what you feel best about. Prayer and lots and lots of discussions helped in our case after that initial surprise when we didn’t really realize that nursing was not, in fact, birth control.

My question for you is related to some of the travel you mention on this post and also in your book (I think?). I would love to go on a trip with my kids to help do something for those who are less fortunate. Can you suggest some organizations? We are not Mormon, or really religious, so hopefully that isn’t a requirement. 🙂

I think that anyone who starts a service organization is purely inspired by Heaven to do so, but religion is definitely not a prerequisite for being involved in any of these organizations. Except if you count the “religion” of having a good heart that wants to reach out to others 🙂 The organization Dave and I worked with to go to Africa was “Ascend Alliance.” The one my family helps out in India (and through which we have adopted our “brother”) is “Rising Star.” Another one my brother has gone to Africa with a couple times is “Hope Arising.” Watch a video for that one here. (Click on any of those names for more info. about them.)

There are so many great organizations out there that help people reach outside of themselves. There was an interesting comment on this post the other day when I mentioned I want to take our kids to a different country to just purely serve on Christmas one year: I just wonder if flight cost donated to an already on the ground organization where they can hire local people to work at the tasks more economical? Not to mention nice for the local economy. The people hired to teach and fix up the school can buy milk and eggs and the persons owning the goat and chickens can have money for school supplies for their kids. Trickle down.

My answer to that is that YES, it is good, very good to hire local people to do those things…it gives a sense of pride and it is more economical and all that jazz. But that wouldn’t change the hearts of my children, and that’s what I’m aiming for. Of course I want to help others, but I’m convinced that service like this helps the giver more than the person being served.

Often people need to be trained and given the means and power to do it on their own, and these organizations do just that. And yes, someone local could help as much or more as our family could going there to work, but that’s not why I want us to go. Along with helping and serving others I’d love for my children to have their hearts melt into the sweet, curious eyes of a child who lives in a grass hut like mine has. I’d love for them to visit a tiny apartment housing multiple families and get the gears going in their minds of how they could help. I’d love for them to be exposed to how so many people in the world live and to have their minds opened to what people can do to serve and make a difference. I want them to have compassion.

Sure, we can gain much of that right here in our own back yard, but I do love what these humanitarian organizations are doing. They find long-term strategies to help those in need, but I think they know as well as I do that the people who go on these “service expeditions” often gain more from their experience than they give.

My daughter gets together with her friends on some weekend nights, and lately has wanted to stay out later. We usually go get her by 10 or 10:30, but she has started texting me saying things like “I’m 13 now! Just another 30 minutes!” Just curious how late you let Elle stay out.

We live in an area where we feel pretty safe to let our kids stay out until 10:30 and sometimes (on special occasions) until 11 on weekends (just Max and Elle of course). But the stipulation is that we need to know where they are all the time. They are good at checking in with us.

So HOW do you get your kids to be friends?? (on the good days!) What do you teach/do/say? I am NOT really friends with my siblings…I’m not sure why, so I don’t have a model. Is it the spending time together, or the parental interference during the petty, silly, rivalry arguments? I am desperate for a more cohesive family unit that my nuclear family. My kids are little still…help me start out right!!

Lots of ideas for this here.

I am tall like you and have the hardest time finding pants that are long enough/stylish/inexpensive. I’ve begun to think I need to fork out a bit of money for my pants. Where do you shop?

I do have to spend more money for jeans to get the fit right, but I tell you, I bought two pair of more expensive jeans at Dillard’s last year and I think I have worn them so much that it may equal out to be like 25 cents each time I’ve worn them 🙂 To me it is worth it to have jeans that last a long time. I do NOT like to shop so I don’t do it much. I recently found Ann Taylor Loft on line (when looking for something to wear for Time Out for Women) that has 50% off sales like every other day. That’s been a nice find.

I notice that in all the pictures of your friends, your kids’ friends, your church, any events – there are no African American people. Do you or your family associate with people of color as peers at all? Your kids are not really getting exposed to the real world if not. Would you allow your kids to be BFFs with African American children, and welcome them into your home, take them to your church, etc? Just wondering.

I love where we live for so many reasons but one thing that makes me sad (and that I tend to lament a lot about on here…sorry!) is that we really, really lack diversity. I wish we had more cultures for our children to be exposed to and more diverse nationalities of kids for our kids to be friends with. Maybe one day…

You talk about the cookies that you have been teaching your children to make and that you love to eat and I was hoping you would be willing to share some of the wonderful recipes you have and your secret to amazing cookies.

Some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies are the ones Max makes. His recipe is at the end of this post.

Then there are the Christmas “jar cookies” that we gave out to neighbors a few years ago:Mmmmm, those ones are good.

Here’s the recipe:

Layer in jar:
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1/3 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 c. white chocolate chips
1/3 c. milk chocolate chips

Instructions for making from jar:
mix jar ingredients with 1/2 c. butter (softened), 1 egg and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
bake at 375 degrees until browned on edges

I have a favorite oatmeal one too:

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
(I always take off a couple tablespoons of these three ingredients…I know, kinda weird but I think it’s a little too much of each of them)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/4 c. flour
2 c. old-fashioned oats
chocolate chips to taste.

Adding a few red and green milk chocolate m&m’s = extra yummy and good Christmas treat.

Ok seriously, I have to stay on task today: print Christmas card envelopes, order Christmas gifts, try my own little Joy School with Lucy because I miss Joy School SOOOOO much at Christmas.

Oh, and try not to stress out about Christmas being barely a week away.

Love, Shawni

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  1. BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe…EVER!!! I had a good one, but this one is even better. Thanks for letting me know that things will get easier with my two boys who are 12 months and 1 day apart!!:)

  2. I just had to comment as far as Jeans go…I'm 6'0" tall and finding cute inexpensive jeans is near impossible! Check out Alloy.com, very cute and super affordable, not to mention long enough for me to wear my cute high heals! I'm just glad they have pants for tall girls now, I had to wear boy jeans all through high school and I hated it!

  3. love the first question! next year I'll have 5 kids under 7! that freaks some people out but not me (well too much). I always wanted a large family so I feel blessed to be getting it!

    thanks for the cookie recipe! my friend bought me a huge cookie jar for my new kitchen and I now I know just what to fill it with:)


  4. I think it's getting a lot easier to find long jeans. I have a 37" inseam, and can always find several lengths at Gap online; there's http://www.delias.com, and in the mall, I can find long slacks at New York & Co (they used to be Lerners.) I also love Gap and Old Navy's long sizes in shirts, because long sleeve shirts sleeves are always short on me.

  5. I have 5 kids with one on the way and 4 of them will be either 18 months or 15 months apart! So glad to hear that yours like each other…gives me hope. Mine just fight over the same toys since they are all under 4.

  6. For anyone looking for a great Humanitarian opportunity to go on with your teenager, I highly recommend Humanitarian Experience for Youth. It is LDS based and takes teenagers between the ages of 16 to 19 on humanitarian expeditions. It is very similar to the EFY program, but it involves doing service in another country. Parents can even go with their youth and serve too. I've gone before and it really was a life changing experience. If you're interested, their website is http://www.hefy.org.

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