Keeping the House Clean

As I mentioned in my post about my morning routine, I really like to have the house clean all the time in order to make my days go smoother and for me to be a better mother. I also mentioned that keeping the house clean and organized does not come naturally to me. It is something I have worked on for years, tweaking what I do and incorporating new routines as needed.

For the last few years, I’ve used my bullet journal to help keep me on track and reach my goals for cleaning. Each month I make a page for my daily/weekly/monthly to do’s with squares for the dates to complete each task. As I complete each thing, I color it in. I love coloring in those squares. Having all the day’s boxes colored in is such a great feeling, almost better than the feeling of having a clean house.

I of course have all the things in my morning routine on that page. Then I have some things on the computer that I do every day (daily thread on a Facebook group, adding to my letter to my aunt, updating our finances, a batch of indexing, taking a picture each day, and scrapbooking that picture for Project 365). Fritz does the 7 Minute Workout each day as well.

Once a month, on the first, I clean the dishwasher, the garbage disposal, and the washing machine. I deep clean the stove using the special cleaner and razor blade. I change my sponge and switch the little picture on the welcome sign my sister made me years ago. I rearrange our Lego calendar for the new month. I rub the vinyl letters on the living room wall to make sure they don’t fall off (vinyl letters and super textured walls don’t mix super well). And I clean the couch using leather wipes. Also once a month, on the 11th, Lola gets her heartworm preventative medication. Once a month, on the third Saturday I wash our sheets (twice a year I also wash the mattress covers and twice a year I wash the blankets and quilts).

I have several things I do once a week. Sundays I send an email to my oldest niece who is serving a mission for the Church in St. George Utah, Fritz cleans Rae’s cage, and we put the Sacrament in a baggie to take to church (those of us with Celiac eat Nut Thins instead of bread; for some reason when church switched from 9 to 10:30 we kept forgetting to take our special sacrament so I added it to my to do page). Mondays and Thursday I have a box for bringing in the trash cans (we can get fined by the HOA if they are still out the next morning). On Mondays, I clean the filter in our dishwasher with a toothbrush. Wednesdays I print the letter to my aunt and also send a copy of it by email to my mother-in-law in Ireland. Thursdays I mail the letter to my aunt. Also on Thursdays I make menus for the next week, order groceries (which we usually pick up Friday evening or Saturday morning), and make a list of what I’ll need to do to prep our food for the week once the groceries have been picked up. Saturdays I refill Ani’s pill containers for the week.

Not something I put on my to do page, but that helps with keeping the house nice, I often walk around the house while I read. It kind of kills two birds with one stone. I get exercise and I get some reading done, too. Sometimes I’ll grab one thing that is out of place as I make my circuit (which goes around most of the bottom floor). I put it where it belongs (or on the stairs to go up) as I continue around the circle. It’s a really painless way of straightening up.

It’s amazing how much these things, none of which take very long, contributes to the beauty and mood of our house. I encourage everyone to come up with simple things you can do each day in your home. I guarantee you will not be sorry!

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A Bit of My Bullet Journal

After doing my planning digitally for a while, a few months ago I went back to my paper bullet journal. I love it. It allows me to be creative and also helps me make sure I get everything I need to get done done.

Every month I start out with a spread that gives an overview of appointments and things and also a tracker for doing my daily/weekly/monthly chores. Since Jamie and I are going to Ireland this month, I decided to do a bit of a passport stamp/Irish theme.

Each month is split into weekly spreads where I put what we are eating, places we need to go, and random stuff I need to do. I also add in quite bits of things we did that I want to remember. I kind of went Washi tape crazy with August’s weekly spreads.

I have some fun spreads to keep track of ongoing things I do. For example, I colored in pictures as I planned our next school year, giving me a visual tracker of how much more I needed to do.

I’ve got a spread to keep track of my scripture reading (currently going through the New Testament). I came up with a picture to go with each book. Some make more sense than others. When I finish a book, I color the picture in. I discovered I am not too bad at drawing if I am looking an an outline example to copy. I’ve always thought I was really bad at art, so that was a fun discovery to make.

I made a nice little bookcase to write in the book I’ve read along with the date and my rating. I filled it up just with the books I read March to July. On the next page I am keeping track of the subjects I’ve completed planning for (just have literature left for all of them – it takes a while to pre-read all the books!).

Starting with this month, I decided to do a monthly bookshelf instead of an ongoing one. I also made the books a little bit fatter to make it easier to write in the titles. I attempted to draw raindrops on the blessings/gratitude page. Maybe I’ll get better at them over time… or come up with something I can draw better next month!

This is just the stuff from one shopping trip. When I checked out the conversation went like this:

Her: Did you find everything you were looking for?
Me: Well, I only came in for the pens, so…
Her: Yeah. That happens.

I might have a bit of a Washi tape problem. I have so much of it. But it’s so pretty! And useful! I have all my bullet journaling stuff – tons of pens, stickers, a pair of scissors, tons and tons of Washi tape, stamps, and ink pads – in a nice craft basket with lots of pockets of open areas to hold everything.

Sometimes, even on a boring page like this one where I was planning meals, I decide I need to be a bit creative and add a little picture to make it more fun.

I had quite a bit of extra space on the page where I listed the last bits of school stuff I was still waiting on from what I had ordered so I drew a cute little picture to go with it. Stuff like that just makes me happy and also makes my bullet journal extra pretty.

Sometimes a little one line note about something isn’t enough. For those times, I go to my next blank page and write whatever I want about it. My parents, the little guys, and I saw Christopher Robin on Saturday and it was just so cute. We all loved it. So for this page I decided to use some stamps (I just happened to have a couple Pooh ones) and used my pretty pens to write some quotes I like from the movie.

I Love Indie Authors

The other day I discovered that one of my favorite indie authors follows me on Twitter. It’s pretty awesome. Most of what I tweet are links to my book reviews on my other blog, including reviews I’ve done of her books.

This discovery started me thinking about just why I love indie authors so much.

1.) I get to be the gatekeeper for what I want to read. Traditionally, with books published via publishing companies, it’s those publishing companies that decide what is good and what isn’t. Make no mistake: There is a whole lot of independently published junk out there. December and January always sees a bit of an uptick of terrible books completed during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month which happens every November). But there is also a whole lot of amazing independently published books. Many of these authors give away the first in a series on Kindle. After reading that first book I am the one who gets to decide if I want to keep reading the series, find other books by the author, or never download anything by them again. Let’s just say some indie authors have been paid well for that freebie I downloaded!

2.) The cost is usually a whole lot lower. Rick Riordan is a traditionally published author and I enjoy his books. But I refuse to buy his new ones as they come out because I don’t enjoy his books enough to justify the $14.99 Kindle price. That is nuts. Indie authors generally run $4.99 or less per book. Often much less. A couple days ago I got a box set of 5 of one indie author I like’s books for 99 cents. (These are Kindle prices… I pretty much exclusively read on my Kindle because I just prefer it.)

3.) Probably because indie authors are not as well known, interaction with them is a bit more personal. They often tweet a lot. I’m on a Facebook group run by one indie author I like. She’s always having conversations with fans on there. Last fall another indie author I like was making his way across the US and stayed at our house for a couple days.

Some Indie Authors I Really, Really Like: Andrea Pearson, Tony James Slater, Heather Sunseri, Karen McQuestion, Beth Labonte, Susan Kaye Quinn, and Julie Oleszek

I Read a Lot

I ran across an old journal entry from several years ago where I wrote about how happy I was to have read 5 whole books in a single month and how I wanted to spend more time reading. Old me really amused current me.

And I have definitely increased the amount of time I spend reading.

So far this year I’ve read 51 books. That’s 11 in January, 12 in February, 20 in March, and 8 so far in April. I think old me would faint to know current me reads that much (granted, old me had much littler children and so had a lot less time to read!).

The Birth of a Reader

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Fritz finished read the Harry Potter series a week ago yesterday. The next day he started the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. He’s quite a ways through the third book now. He read the second book in two days. He read until very late last not and couldn’t put it down until he was done. There’s always a book or a series that grabs a kid, one they just can’t put down, and that’s when you know a reader has been born.

A Little Visit

There’s this author I like, Tony James Slater, and he and his wife, Roo, are currently on a trip around the US. Of course traveling in this country is rather expensive so they are couchsurfing along their way. I offered a place to stay (a little more than a couch… they got to stay in what we call my parents’ wing – their bedroom is gigantic and their bathroom is bigger than any I’ve ever seen before and then there’s a walk-in closet, too) and so San Antonio was added to their itinerary. They arrived on Sunday evening and went home yesterday morning. It was awesome!

Soon after they got here we had dinner and then we just sat and talked until 11. Tony is as funny in real life as he is in his book. He can seriously tell a good story. Roo is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. She’s just truly likable. Time just flies talking to them.

A Little Visit

Monday morning we went downtown. Only Adrian came with us. He loves museums and stuff like that. We went to the Alamo first. They had some living history stuff going on including a gun firing demonstration. We left there and headed down to the River Walk. I think it kind of blew Tony and Roo’s mind. We ate lunch at a really good barbecue place (bonus: they had a list of what was safe for Adrian and me). Then we went on the river boat tour. That’s the third time we’ve done it and it’s different every time. On the way home from downtown we stopped at SubZero and got ice cream made right in front of us with liquid nitrogen. Then Roo stayed at the house (she had a headache and needed to rest) while the rest of us went to our friends’ house for a Labor Day cookout.

A Little Visit

Last time we tested for new belts, the parking lot was pretty full when we got there so we parked in a place we don’t usually. Fritz looked across the road and saw a sign for Premier Escape Rooms. I’ve wanted to do an escape room ever since I heard Rider Strong talk about them on an episode of Literary Disco. So we decided doing one with Tony and Roo would be awesome (it was). We booked the Conspiracy Cure room. The storyline was a disease had been unleashed that was killing everyone and we were working on a cure. We walk into a lab and discover a tube of the disease open infecting us all. We had one hour to solve the puzzles, figure out which potential cure was the right one, and find the key to escape from the room. We found the escape key with 30 minutes to go, but we still needed to figure out which one was the cure. And so we spent the next 25 minutes trying and trying to figure out the final puzzle to get the answer. Once we found it, it was so obvious. I can’t believe we overlooked it all that time. But, we won with 5 minutes to spare. The last 5 or 10 minutes were pretty nerve-racking, though. We’ll definitely have to do another escape room in the future.

We stayed up until 11 again Monday night. Seriously, time flies talking to Tony and Roo. Ani and Cameron had to get up early for seminary on Tuesday. They were back in bed and the little guys were almost done with their on their own work by the time Tony and Roo were up and ready for the day so that worked out nicely. We had breakfast and chatted a bit more and then it was time for them to leave. Roo had fallen in love with our Little Ladies (aka our sugar gliders) and spent a lot of time just watching them play in their cage when the ladies got up for the night. It’s illegal to keep gliders as pets in Australia. So I asked her if she wanted to hold one. I pulled Filli out of the pouch and handed her to Roo (and gave Filli a yogurt drop which she loves – I picked Filli because she’s so much calmer than Kree and when you add in a yogurt drop, Filli’s not going to go anywhere). I think Roo was in heaven.

A Little Visit

I made sure to get Tony’s autograph before they left. I read almost exclusively on the Kindle and that’s how I read his books so it made sense to have him sign the back of it. I have a pretty old Kindle Keyboard and it’s in pretty rough shape (but it works and I love it so I haven’t felt the need to upgrade yet) so I know it’ll die before too long. I guess when it does, I’ll just have to pry the back off and keep it.

If you haven’t ever read any of Tony’s books, I highly suggest you do. As I read them, I’d laugh so hard and my family would say, “Tony again?” I’m so glad I gave that freebie (Kamikaze Kangaroos!) a chance last year. It’s not too often reading a freebie leads to buying a bunch of other books to read… and it’s never led to having the author come visit before. Here’s my reviews of his books (which include links to buy them on Amazon): That Bear Ate My Pants!, Don’t Need the Whole Dog!, Kamikaze Kangaroos!, Can I Kiss Her Yet?, and Shave My Spider!.