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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My Morning Routine

Recently on her blog, an author I like, Heather Sunseri, wrote about her morning routine and how it helps her day go smoother. That got me thinking about my own morning routine and how much it helps me as well.

Here’s how mine goes…

I usually wake up between 6:15 and 6:30. Sometimes that’s when Jamie’s alarm goes off, sometimes that’s because I just wake up. The night before, I spend a little time with my bullet journal and write down what I know I’ll have to do the next day and what we’re going to eat. This way, I know what I need to take out of the freezer or if I need to start bread baking and what my plan is for breakfast and how long that’s going to take before I ever get out of bed.

The first thing I do when I wake up is go pee. I don’t know how anyone can wake up and not immediately head to the bathroom. I know there are people who can, but I am not one of them. While I am doing that, I check my Apple watch to see what the weather will be like that day (when we had that bizarre cold snap the beginning of the month, I actually exclaimed “What the crap?!?!” out loud upon seeing our high that day would be 39*). Then I weigh myself and get back in bed. (Usually I shower at night, but sometimes I do in the morning. If it’s a morning I’m planning to shower, I don’t get back in bed, but instead jump in the shower right away and then once that’s done, I get back in bed.)

I spend the next 10-20 minutes reading scriptures. Currently I’m reading the Old Testament. I’ve made it through Exodus and most of the way through Leviticus. I’m reading all the notes I’ve put in there in the past and also all the footnotes this time around.

Once I’ve finished reading scriptures and saying my morning prayer, I get up and get dressed and head downstairs where I cut on the fish tank lights and then put on my shoes. Shoes are a necessity for me because I am a klutz. I’ve broken my little toes so many times. My shoes protect me.

Over the years I have found that if the house is clean, I’m a much calmer person and a better mother. So once I’ve got my shoes on, it’s time for me to do some cleaning. First I start bread in the breadmaker if we’re having sandwiches for lunch and get anything frozen out of the freezer that we’ll need for meals that day. Then I get out a cloth that I think my sister crocheted years ago (I love those cloths) and wash the kitchen counters, dining room table, and stove. If the dishes in the dishwasher are dry, sometimes I’ll put them away and reload the dishwasher. If they are wet or if I don’t feel like unloading at the time, I’ll wait for one of the boys to get up and have them deal with the dishes.

Some time in there I start breakfast. When depends on how long it’ll take to make it.

Then I head into the downstairs bathroom for the next step in my morning routine. I brush my hair and then brush and floss my teeth. At that point I’m ready for the day (I wear make-up almost never). I wipe down the toilet with a Clorox wipe before I leave the bathroom.

Each weekday I sweep a different room in my house. Monday it’s the living, Tuesday the kitchen, Wednesday the stairs, halls, and bathrooms, Thursday it’s the dining room, and Friday I sweep and also scrub the downstairs bathroom floor. The Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the month I mop those rooms/areas after sweeping them. On mopping days, I move everything reasonable off the floor (like I leave the filing cabinet in the dining room, but move the school carts and the table into the hall) so that it’s easier to get the floors really clean.

If Lola is around downstairs, I’ll brush her at some point in there. She sheds year round so brushing her every day helps keep down the number of hairs I sweep up every day. If she’s not downstairs, I’ll get around to brushing her later in the day.

By the time all that is done, it’s about time to eat breakfast and start school with the boys. Having the house clean and ready for the day is just super helpful for me and makes me happy. I was not born organized. Growing up, my room (and anywhere I played) was a mess. I’ve worked really hard and incorporated ideas from such cleaning gurus as Sidetracked Home Executives, FLYLady, Heloise, and Marie Kondo. I highly recommend finding a morning routine that works for you to get your day started off right, too!

November Spreads

I’m tired just looking at our calendar for November!

The meal calendar worked great last month so I’m using it again.

I like keeping track of the books I read each month and random thankful things I think of during the month.

The first and last weeks of the month are partial weeks, but I made them fit quite nicely.

10-Day Social Media Fast

At the Women’s Session of General Conference, President Nelson invited us to do four things:

1. Participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other negative or impure media
2. Read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year
3. Establish a pattern of regular temple attendance
4. Participate fully in Relief Society

So, to complete number one, the evening of Sunday, October 7th, I deleted all my links on my computer to social media and deleted the apps off my phone. The exception was Instagram. I have one account for pictures of Rae and I follow lots of conure and other bird accounts and those pictures make me very happy. On my personal account, which I mainly use to post pictures of what we did in school each day, I started following a whole bunch of church-related accounts that post things like a scripture or temple picture each day (I didn’t realize just how beautiful the Tucson AZ temple is!). As for number two, I was already up to 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon so that’s totally doable. Numbers three and four I’ll have to think a bit about.

Day 1

The first day was Columbus Day so Jamie was off work and we didn’t have school. That probably made it a lot easier. I had put off sweeping and mopping most of the rooms in the house the previous week (I sweep weekly and also mop monthly) so I did all of that over the course of the day. I caught up on some blog posts I’d half done. I did some laundry from putting it in the washer to putting it away all nice and folded. But, most importantly, for the first time in weeks I didn’t feel like my insides were vibrating. I felt comfortable. I already know a few of the more contentious and/or whiny people that I will unfriend or unfollow when I return to social media. By the way, I feel way better when my house is clean. So starting out with all the sweeping and mopping, while a lot of work, definitely helped contribute to the calm, peaceful feeling I had by the middle of the day.

Day 2

The second day actually went quite easily. I don’t miss Facebook or Twitter at all which is weird since the new iOS tells me I’m on them for hours every day. And that doesn’t count the time I spend on them on my computer. That’s a lot of hours a day I’m reclaiming. Also, I am mentally present for these amazing guys and that’s the most important thing of all. Usually I mindlessly check social media throughout the day and I realized that even though I’m there, I’m not there. Today I sat and watched some episodes of Mind Field (Vsauce on YouTube) with them. They were fascinating and we all learned some stuff. This morning, Cameron made a pancake creation. It was a stack of regular size pancakes surrounded with overlapping upright small pancakes with a giant pancake on top. He wouldn’t let us eat any pancakes until he finished his creation. I commented that I didn’t take a picture before we started eating it and Fritz said isn’t that the point of making stuff like that (as my best friend said, that was the most 2018 thing ever). Cameron told him he did it just for the personal satisfaction. But I started thinking. What are my actions teaching Fritz?

Day 3

I am fascinated by how much I am getting done. I’m getting all the school stuff graded and put away soon after the boys complete it. I sweep whichever floor is supposed to be swept that day pretty early in the day rather than putting it off until late when I just don’t feel like doing it and end up not getting it done at all. I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon every morning rather than scrolling through social media and that’s been a really nice start to my day. Today I was a little concerned about what I would do when I went to pick Cameron up from instructor training. I forgot to bring my Kindle and usually I sit and scroll through Facebook or Twitter while waiting for him to come out. I ended up spending the time adding today’s video clips and editing our weekly school video. It was such a great use of my time. It was something I needed to get done and I had nothing else to do while sitting in the car. So I guess this fast is teaching me to make better choices for what I am using my time for.

Day 4

A really weird thing has happened. I love to read, but recently I’ve found myself reading a little bit at a time, more avoiding reading than actually reading. Reading a book takes a lot more focus than just scrolling through social media where things are in little, tiny bits. Since I started the social media fast, I’ve discovered that focusing on reading is easy again. Maybe it’s because I can’t use social media right now. Maybe it’s because I’m getting unused to tiny bits here and there. I don’t know. But for whatever reason I’m enjoying reading for long periods of time again.

Day 5

Last night an indie author I like sent her most recent manuscript to me to Dragon Edit. I’ve been doing this for her for a while now. She dictates her books and as anyone who has used a dictating program knows, it doesn’t always understand her totally correctly. So she sends it to me and I go through it and fix it up into proper English and then send it back to her so she can edit it into a proper book. I really enjoy doing it (especially seeing how her books go from very rough draft to finished product). So, anyway, I spent the day Dragon Editing her next book, Forbidden Knowledge. Usually, I go back and forth doing a page or two and then checking Facebook or Twitter. This time I just did the editing. And it made it way easier, actually. Because I was actually focused on the job I was doing. That was nice.

Day 6

This morning we had to get up and pretty much right away go over to the church to help clean the building. This threw off my new routine. Before this social media fast, when I woke up in the morning I’d lay in bed and scroll through Facebook and Twitter before getting up. Since I started it, I’ve been reading at least one chapter in the Book of Mormon instead. I didn’t have time to do that this morning and I really, really missed it. It’s such an amazing way to start my day. I still read my three chapters at some point during the day, but it was different from reading first thing in the morning. That’s definitely a habit I want to keep after this 10-day fast is over! (By the way, my arm hurts. We got our flu shots this afternoon. I spent the time waiting for them to call us in reading in the Book of Mormon. I always feel calm reading it, so I’d say I made a very good choice in reading it before getting a shot.)

Day 7

The new iOS tells you every week how much you’ve been using your phone. It’s pretty crazy to see all the hours added up by category at the end of the week. No surprise that my usage went down a lot over the previous week since my social media fast started on Monday. The majority of my time on my phone this week was actually reading scriptures. Kindle + Gospel Library app was almost 7 hours. I read scriptures on the Gospel Library app and the guidebook I’m using to study the Book of Mormon is in the Kindle app. The next highest app use was messages. The majority of that time was texting back and forth with my daughter. The previous seven days the majority of my phone time was on Facebook and Twitter. I’m actually considering not putting those apps back on my phone later this week at the end of the 10 day fast.

Day 8

I thought this social media fast would be hard. I really did. But it hasn’t been. In fact, it’s been fantastic. I don’t want it to end. I’ve wondered how a few people who post on Facebook regularly were doing (so I know they will definitely stay on my friends list), but I haven’t missed the contention on there at all. I really haven’t missed the contention on Twitter. Whenever I leave the Temple, I feel totally calm, almost like my insides are vibrating in harmony with… something. Anyway, it’s a wonderful, peaceful feeling that lasts a few hours. Since I started this social media fast, that’s how I’ve felt most of the time. It’s been nice and is a feeling I definitely want to hold on to. (PS I finished reading 2 Nephi this morning.)

Day 9

Last night I was thinking that I need to get to work figuring out how to implement numbers 3 and 4 on the list of things President Nelson asked us to do. I’m obviously almost done with number 1 and number 2 is going great. But I haven’t even started on the other two things yet. I’m thinking since we still have a few weeks until the temple reopens that I’ll do a search on LDS.org about the temple or read a book or something. Then after it reopens, I was thinking because we live so close to the temple, we can run up there for a little while on the Tuesdays that Adrian has Scouts after we drop the boys off at church (that’s twice a month). Participating fully in Relief Society is a little more complicated since I currently serve in Nursery. President Nelson said something about reading the Relief Society declaration, so I’ll do that. Our ward sends out an email saying what the next lesson will be, so I’ll read along. I figure I can know what they are talking about in class even if I can’t be in there with them on Sundays.

Day 10

Check it out. I finished through Jacob this morning! Today is the last day of the social media fast. Tomorrow I can go back to using social media however I want. It’s funny, but I don’t really want to. In his talk where he invited the women to go on this 10-day social media fast, President Nelson said the following:

What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit? Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy? Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little?

I’ve noticed that I am calmer. I feel better. I’m more in tune with the Spirit. I’m a better mother. I’ve read more and enjoyed that reading more. My house is cleaner. I’m happier. School even has been going better. My little boys have been asking more Gospel questions and I’ve found that easy answers for them have just popped into my head. There is a definite change in where I now want to spend my time and energy. I’m not going to bother putting the Facebook and Twitter apps back on my phone. I’m going to dramatically cut down my membership in groups on Facebook and unfollow or unfriend many people on Facebook and Twitter. I might keep right on reading three chapters in the Book of Mormon every day because I’m really enjoying it. I’ve discovered I’m happiest when my time and energy are on my family and the Lord. Have my priorities shifted? Yeah. And maybe not just a little.

All my life I have found that when I follow the Prophet, I never go wrong. These four invitations by our dear President Nelson are no exception. They were the right things for me at the right time and I am grateful for his prophetic counsel. I am thankful that I immediately made a plan to follow what he asked. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but it kind of changed my life.

I Tried Trim and Burn: A Diary, Month One

Straight off, I want to say that Jamberry/M Network did not pay me to do this nor did I receive the stuff for free. In fact, I spent $100 of my own money in order to try Trim and Burn. Which is kind of insane. My daughter is a Jamberry consultant (the links go to her page, by the way, so go buy stuff from her) and she kind of cajoled me into asked me to buy it. Apparently I’m willing to spend a hundred bucks for my daughter. No one asked me to write about my experience.

I started trying to lose weight on May 1st. It seemed like a good thing to do. I weighed 282 pounds at that point. See, I want to have a breast reduction and I have to get below 200 to have it done. My goal is 175 pounds. By the time I tried the Trim and Burn, I was down to 250. Or something like that. My scale likes to give random numbers. (Side note: Do accurate home scales even exist?)

September 6th
My Trim and Burn arrived the evening of the 6th. Less than a week to get to me. Apparently the thought of taking the stuff really caused some subconscious anxiety. I had the weirdest dreams all night. Including a dream where I had to swallow a whole cockroach.

September 7th
250. I am sick. I have a cold and all week I have had no energy and have done the least amount necessary. So I took the Burn at breakfast and lunch and drank the Trim at 3. Even if I lose nothing, I’m already sold because it gave me so much energy. I am happy to report Trim and Burn do not actually contain cockroaches. Though they do contain pep. So much pep!

September 8th
249.6. Still sick. How can one body produce so much mucous and require so much sneezing?!?! I’ve had the energy to do several things I didn’t get around to avoided because I felt like I was dying during the week. Energy is a good thing! Yay, energy!

September 9th
249. Trim is a water additive. It tastes like kool-aid. I’m not a fan of kool-aid. But it’s not horrible. It’s just not that good either. I take the Trim at 3pm because I’m usually starving and have no energy about 4 every day. For the whole three days I’ve had that 3 o’clock 16 ounces of water with the Trim powder mixed in I have not been hungry and my energy level has been stable (or higher). It could be a fluke. Or it could be the Trim.

September 10th
248.6. I’ve lost a half pound a day since I started taking the Trim and Burn. Over the course of just over four months, I had lost 32 pounds. Now, I did go on 3 1/2 weeks worth of vacations during those four months where I mostly watched didn’t pay attention at all to what I was eating. So, if I do the math, taking out the days I was on vacation completely, I have averaged a loss of 1/3 of a pound per day. So I am seeing some acceleration on this stuff. But will it continue?

September 11th
248.6. For the first time since I started Trim and Burn, I didn’t lose anything day to day. I’ve been wearing size XL for a long, long time. Today I wore a large. And it fit quite nicely. So that was kind of amazing.

September 12th
248. The taste of the Trim is really not the greatest. I have been experimenting with when to add the powder. Before the water means the last bit will be gross super-sweet. Adding after the water means the first bit will be nasty overly sweet. I think adding it halfway through works best. I am considering splitting it between two cups of water. I just don’t like how sweet it is (but I might be a little unusual because if I add flavoring to water I don’t like it to be sweet at all).

September 13th
247.2. I guess today makes up for Tuesday since I lost almost a whole pound since yesterday morning. My average since starting the Trim and Burn is still 1/2 pound per day. By the way, I’m still sick. And this stuff is still giving me energy.

September 14th
247. Mid-afternoon I started feeling run down and munchy. I looked at the clock and it was 3:30. I quickly made my cup of Trim and within minutes I felt much better. I was no longer hungry and I had energy again. So I’m thinking it’s not a fluke, it really does help with the mid-afternoon blahs. PS I lost 3 pounds this week.

September 15th
255. Yes, you read that right. I ate sushi last night and “gained” 8 pounds. I might have eaten am quite sure I did not actually eat 8 pounds of sushi. I retain water way too easily. And then it takes pretty much forever for it to go away.

September 16th
251. Half of that water weight went away. I only took one Burn and drank the Trim today. I managed to get another virus so mostly I stayed in bed yesterday and today.

September 17th
250. I’m kind of thinking thank goodness for the Trim and Burn because I’ve been sick for over two weeks now and I’m convinced I’m dying functioning pretty well mostly because of that stuff.

September 18th
250.4. I’m a little annoyed that the rest of the water weight isn’t coming off, but I am smaller anyway, so whatever. I can feel that my waist and hips have shrunk and this makes me happy. I realized I should’ve measured myself before I started, but I didn’t think of that until today.

September 19th
250.2. It hit me this morning that I’m probably retaining water longer than normal because of the week it is. I had a hysterectomy almost 3 years ago. But I still have fully functioning ovaries and because of that, I’ve noticed that my weight loss stalls for about a week every month. I just made it worse this month by eating sushi which always bloats me up. Of course I never realize what week it is until my weight loss stalls because without a uterus I have no other signs of the time of the month (which is awesome, by the way).

September 20th
248. Almost back to where I was before the sushi. Weight is weird. Yesterday I wore the outfit I wear when I take my progress picture every week or so. The different between how I looked May 1st and now is incredible. There is a slight visible different from before I started the Trim and Burn, too. So, yay me!

September 21st
249. Sigh. After seeing my weight inexplicably go up, I knew I had completely failed reminded myself that my scale isn’t very accurate and the number on the scale is kind of meaningless. I usually wear leggings and dresses, but today I need to do laundry decided to wear jeans and a t-shirt. I rarely wear jeans. The ones I have are size 18 and are actually a bit loose. Considering I wore a size 22 five months ago, I really am succeeding kicking butt with this weight loss thing. Even if the scale is evil doesn’t always tell me what I want to see.

September 22nd
249. I.

September 23rd
248.2. Give.

September 24th
247.8. Up.

September 25th
247. Just kidding. Weight is the most important thing just a number.

September 26th
248.6. It would be nice if my weight was anywhere near stable. I’m not sure whether to blame the scale or if I really do fluctuate all crazy-like so much.

September 27th
247.6. So I really, really don’t like the taste of the Trim. But with the exception of when I avoid drinking it I’m so busy it’s suddenly 4pm and I haven’t drunk it and weekends when my schedule is so off of normal, I’ve been good and have had it almost every day. I really do see a difference in how I feel and my energy level so it is worth it. I also eat less at dinner.

September 28th
247. Back to my low of the month! I’m so much smaller. It’s kind of weird fabulous honestly.

September 29th
246. Imagine my surprise delight when I saw the number on the scale this morning. I know it’s just a number, but it’s also proof to my brain that I’m not a failure heading in the right direction.

September 30th
246.2. I’ve ordered another set of Trim and Burn. I’m definitely giving this at least another month. My energy level is up, I’m smaller around, and I just plain feel better even if the scale hates me isn’t quite showing the results I’d like.

October 1st
247. Ugh.

October 2nd
247.8. Well, that was fun while it lasted. I know it’s all partly my scale. For this reason, I’ve decided to step on it only one time each morning and whatever it tells me I’m going with. It’s not uncommon for it to vary 1 1/2 pounds within 20 or 30 minutes and even go up after I pee, which makes no sense.

October 3rd
247.2. I’m amazing at how much energy the Burn pills give me. It’s very nice, especially on days after I underestimate how much Creon I need because I’m guaranteed to feel worse those days (and that’s how I always used to feel which is crazy).

October 4th
246.2. Ahem. I like today’s weight.

October 5th
248.2. But I do not like today’s. What the heck???

October 6th
246.8. That’s more like it. And so here ends my first month on Trim and Burn. I’d say it was a great success. Not necessarily for pounds lost because my scale and/or body suck, but for the way I feel and inches lost. Taking my starting weight of 250 pounds and subtracting my lowest weight of the month, 246.2, I only lost 3.8 pounds this month. I blame the sushi. But I can wear clothes that I’d outgrown again! And I need to get some smaller sizes, too. So, yes, definitely a success. Yay, me!

October’s Bullet Journal Spreads

For my October monthly spread I decided to go with orange and black. I really like the color-in squares for chores and such. It’s working well for me.

For my books read section I was going for a book with the pages fanned out. I failed. I decided on ghosts for recording things I’m thankful for this month. The 7 Minute Workout color-in boxes are for Fritz. I’m also tracking whether underestimating how much Creon I need leads to being tired and/or having low energy the next day (results so far: most definitely).

Instead of just making lists for our meal plan like I usually do, I decided to make a calendar. The circles on the side of each meal are to record if we ate it as planned or not. This makes it way easier to shift around stuff as needed because I know what I still have ingredients for.

I reused some weekly spread styles I’ve done in the past that worked well for me.