How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I used a paper Bullet Journal, affectionately known as My Brain, for well over a year, but, then, a few months ago, I decided to go digital. I switched to OneNote (which I have on my laptop, phone, and iPad). In addition to everything I had in my paper Bullet Journal, I also use OneNote for school planning (which I’ll explain in part 2).

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I use it the most to tell me what to do each day. Our planned meals and snacks, schedule, and my to do list are all on one page so I can see what I need to do when. I have the My Brain notebook shared with Jamie so he can see what we are doing and what’s on our schedule and add to it as needed.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

My to do list is color coded so if I have a few minutes I can just look at the colored section with tasks that are most convenient at that time. Red is in the physical world, blue is on my phone, green is on my computer, iPad, or phone, and purple is on my iPad. If I don’t get something done, I just move it to the next day (like on today’s list, I moved fold clothes and put away clothes from yesterday).

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I have three notebooks that make up my digital Bullet Journal: My Brain, Recipes, and Journal. In My Brain, the My Day tab has several pages under it. Several of them are my calendar. They allow me to easily add things to my Today and Tomorrow pages. The Every Day, specific day of the week, and First of the Month pages are my to do lists for those days. I just copy and paste to add them to my Tomorrow page (which gets copy and pasted to today each morning). The RS Lesson Schedule page helps me keep track of what to read (in the Gordon B. Hinckley manual and Conference talks) each week to prepare for Relief Society.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I keep track of what I’m reading and what I’ve read in my Reading tab. The 2016 Books and 2017 Books pages are just running lists split by month of what books I read on what date and what rating I gave them (out of 5 stars). The Reading Challenges page is where I plan the books I’m reading each month this year to spell out the birthstones, what our book club books are, bedtime stories for the boys, school books, 52 Books Bingo, etc. My favorite page is Sentences That Made Me Laugh. That page has a bunch of quotes from books I’ve read that I found funny.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

The rest of the tabs in My Brain are Health which has pages for keeping track of Ani’s symptoms, what we are still owed from overpaying for some procedures she’s had, and the kids’ vaccine records. Blog Ideas is just one page of ideas for blog posts. Scouts which has pages for Fritz and Adrian with a list of things they need to complete for rank advancement. Sports has pages for our taekwondo schedule, a record of dates for earning belts and mid-terming, and Fritz’s times at swim meets. Church has pages for planning family home evening, my notes for General Conference (one page per Conference), my Personal Progress answers split by value, and a poem Ani wrote when she was around 12. Finances has pages with spreadsheets for our checking account, the kids’ money, our budget, and a list of 2017 pay days.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I really love my Recipes notebook. Most of the time we use it just like a cookbook, reading the recipes off the iPad as we cook. The notebook is extremely useful every Wednesday. That’s the day I make our menus for the week. I go through the sections of recipes and pick the breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners that sound good to me at the time. As I write down what we’ll be eating, I make our grocery list and note how the chicken will need to be cut. The grocery list is the used to order groceries from HEB (which Jamie picks up on his way home from work). I cut chicken once a week, on Wednesday night, so the gross bits can go out in the trash on Thursday morning (living in Texas, we definitely don’t want chicken sitting around very long).

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

My Journal notebook is mostly exactly what it sounds like. I copied my journals from 1999 on and divided them into years. Under the year sections, the journal entries are divided into months. I copy and paste all my Facebook posts including pictures into my journal. The AB Letters tab is where I wrote my letter to my aunt each week (it also gets sent to my mother-in-law). I keep her up to day on what’s going on in our lives. I’ve been keeping those letters since December. The Fun Stuff tab had a page for funny things people in the family have said. It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Adrian’s is the longest. I also have Adrian’s birth story, a page of things that happen that I am grateful for, and a page of things that blew my mind (like the fact Queen Victoria had a granddaughter who was still alive when I was born). The Christmas Letters tab has a copy of all of our annual Christmas letters (and one Valentine’s Day letter that year I was super late…) since 2007.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

So that’s how I use OneNote to be my brain. It totally keeps me organized. In a couple days I’ll post part 2 on how I use OneNote in our homeschool.

Magical Magic Birthday

Today Fritz turned 11 on the 11th making it his magic birthday. We always try to make the magic birthday extra special for our kids and it looks like we totally succeeded with this one. Fritz said no day can be perfect, but today was almost perfect.

Magical Magic Birthday

The 11th birthday is extra magical because, as JK Rowling taught us, that’s when kids learn they are a witch or wizard. Ever since Fritz read the Harry Potter series, he’s been hoping the magic world is real. For a while, there was an owl hanging around our house and he was pretty sure it was scouting out where we live for his upcoming birthday. Just like we did with Cameron almost 5 years ago, Fritz’s owl and letter were waiting for him when he woke up this morning.

Magical Magic Birthday

He was so excited about his owl and letter. I was a little concerned beforehand that he might think it was real just because he wants magic to exist so badly. I needn’t have worried. He loves his owl. I hope when he’s about to turn 16, he’s still got it in a place of honor in his room just like his big brother and his owl.

Magical Magic Birthday

Fritz got his big present a few weeks ago when he went to Houston for the Markiplier tour. Today we gave him his other present, a Harry Potter Pop Figure. He got a Dobby last year so his collection is growing.

Magical Magic Birthday

We played a bit of Pokemon Go. Jamie, Fritz, and I joined together in a raid battle and all defeated, and then caught, a Muk (none of had one before today). We defeated a gym and hit a bunch of PokeStops, too.

Magical Magic Birthday

We spent the day at The DoSeum. I was a little hesitant to go there, but Ani was bringing the girls she’s been nannying there today and convinced us to join them. I wasn’t sure there would be enough stuff to entertain kids as old as Fritz and Adrian. As it turned out, there was plenty for them to do. We visited every exhibit, but, honestly, we could’ve spent the entire time doing just one or two. The boys loved it and want to go back. In fact, we’re considering an annual pass because they loved it so much.

Magical Magic Birthday

The first thing we did when we walked in was customize some fish using our phones and then added them to the virtual fish tank on the wall. Then we played in the wind tunnel and with some pulleys.

Magical Magic Birthday

We spent a couple hours in the spy room. There were lots of activities to do. The first thing they had to do was complete specific activities in order to get an access code. Once they got the access code, they could make their spy badge and then do more activities in order to become a master spy. One section was set up like a room in a house with clues hidden all over the place. It was a lot like an escape room. Adrian thinks we ought to build a room like that in our house. He spent a really long time working on the clues in there.

Magical Magic Birthday

The other exhibits inside included light, sound, color, and building activities. The kids really enjoyed playing with the green screen. Adrian was wearing a green shirt which made the green screen a little more fun. Fritz played with a green sheet to make himself disappear like he was under an invisibility cloak.

Magical Magic Birthday

We went outside on one side and played in some water activities and climbed on a huge climbing set. It was hot today (in the very high 90s), but the humidity was low (less than 30%) so it wasn’t so bad out, especially in the shade.

Magical Magic Birthday

Outside on the other side, we discovered a bamboo forest, and eco-pond, a treehouse with a fairy village underneath, and a fun little river to play in. The pond had quite a few red eared sliders in it so now we know just how big Ani’s hatchling, Venus, will get when she’s full grown (huge!).

Magical Magic Birthday

After we left The DoSeum, we went to Big’z Burger Joint for dinner. They have some of the best burgers and we can get amazing gluten free buns there. Fritz was pretty much in heaven eating his burger.

Magical Magic Birthday

We went to PetSmart partly because the boys love to watch the fish and partly because we needed to get a basking platform to go in Venus’s tank. We also got some ghost shrimp to help clean the tank/be food for the turtle (we also have minnows in there both to be fun to watch and also to be turtle food).

Magical Magic Birthday

When we got home, we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I’d been meaning to buy it since it came out on video (we saw it in the movie theater), but hadn’t gotten around to it. My procrastination came in handy because the digital version (we only buy movies/TV shows in digital) was on a great sale today for Prime Day.

Magical Magic Birthday

So that was Fritz’s truly magical magic birthday. Adrian said Fritz’s birthday was way better than his own last month and I told him it’s because this was Fritz’s extra special 11 on the 11th birthday. So now Adrian is expecting a truly epic 19th birthday. Guess we better start planning!

I Made a Thing

We have a new instructor at taekwondo. It’s been a little traumatic losing the only instructor we’ve ever had because he’s just amazing and seen four of us to first degree black belt and one to second degree black belt. He was instrumental in changing our lives. He moved to a school 5 miles away so we could have followed him there, but we decided to give the new guy a chance and I’m glad we did.

Our new instructor is amazing with Adrian. The kid is rather difficult and we know this. But, somehow, things that used to turn into a battle of wills just don’t anymore. We’ve discovered that things Adrian has been taught, he has not learned. I don’t know if it’s from not paying attention or just not wanting to be there so ignoring the instructions. Whatever it is, he has actually been telling our new instructor he doesn’t know how to do things and asking for help. Our instructor then shows him and Adrian can do them. He also ignores certain behavior from Adrian that our previous instructor would engage in a battle of wills over. The interesting thing about that is Adrian will see that our new instructor is obviously and purposefully ignoring whatever Adrian is doing and the kid stops and does what he is supposed to do.

Anyway, our new instructor is very talented and seems to really enjoy working with kids. But he’s so awkward when he’s not doing taekwondo. It’s funny because he’ll retreat to the corner in between classes like he’s trying to hide, but then when class starts or you talk to him about taekwondo he’s animated and not awkward at all. That reminded me of James Roday who played Shawn on Psych. He was so gregarious as Shawn, but any time they had a panel or interview or whatever he was pretty quiet and if they were sitting on a couch, he would always pick up a pillow and hug and rub it through the interview. So I jokingly said I needed to make our instructor a pillow. My friend kind of egged me on a little bit and that led to me making a thing. We’ll give it to him tonight at beginner belt graduation (Adrian’s finally, after 3 1/2 years, made it to the high ranks!).

Ani had physical therapy yesterday morning so on the way home we went to Michaels and got fabric, a pillow form, and a pineapple applique.

I printed two copies of the Victory logo and cut it up to use as a pattern.

Then I started sewing. My mom does applique stuff all the time. I think I have once before ever. I was pretty happy with how the Victory logo came out.

I made an envelope pillow case to fit the pillow form. I googled for instructions because I literally had no idea how to do it.

I sewed the Victory logo onto the center of the front of the pillowcase.

I sewed the pineapple applique onto the back of the pillowcase as a nod to Psych and the whole reason I even thought of making him a pillow. I stuffed in the pillow form and it was almost perfect.

I added a few more stitches to fix the corners better and I am very happy with it. I just may have to make one for us to keep!

A Day of Ramadan

A local mosque invited non-Muslims to fast any day of Ramadan and join them that night to eat with them. For each person doing this, they would donate $100 to the Center for Refugee Services.

We fasted on Friday and headed to the mosque Friday night. They answered all of our questions, let us observe their prayers twice, took us on a tour of the mosque, and fed us a delicious dinner.

It was a great experience and hopefully will make things more clear in the boys’ minds when we study Islam and the Arabian peninsula the fifth week of school next year.

Getting to know others who are “different” is what will change the future. So often those who look different on the surface are really more like us than we ever imagined.

The Boss Baby

On Saturday the little guys, Jamie, and I got to go see an advance screening of The Boss Baby. Because there is no guarantee of getting into an advance screening (they overbook the theater), I didn’t tell the boys ahead of time where we were going. I assured them they’d enjoy it and if we didn’t get in, we’d find something else to do.

As we were getting out of the car at the movie theater, Adrian asked if we were going to see Boss Baby. He was so excited when I said we hopefully would be. He has seen the ads and had said more than once he wanted to see it. Luckily, we got in (with some parents volunteering to hold their very little ones on their laps, they were able to squeeze everyone who showed up into the theater).

The movie is very cute. The premise is when babies are made (by BabyCorp), each one is tickled and if they giggle like most of them do, they are sent to a family. If they don’t giggle, they are sent to management. They stay adorable baby-sized adult humans by drinking a special formula. Sometimes they need to go to a family in order to carry out a mission as directed by the big bosses at BabyCorp.

Boss Baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin) joins a family with parents who work for PuppyCo and a seven-year-old brother named Tim. Tim absolutely does not want a baby brother and feels like his parents don’t love him anymore since all their attention is focused on the baby. Eventually Tim and Boss Baby must team up with the end goal of Boss Baby leaving their family forever. Tim just wants to be an only child again while Boss Baby wants a promotion, a corner office, and his picture on the wall at BabyCorp.

The story is told by Tim as an adult (voiced by Tobey Maguire) and while he admits he had a very active imagination as a child, he is telling it just the way he remembers it happened.

There were a lot of children in the theater from toddlers on up to pre-teens and, yet, for the entire nearly 1 hour and 40 minutes, the kids were so quiet. They really paid complete attention to the movie. Everyone laughed a lot. In fact, I think the adults laughed more than the kids. The moral was lovely and the end was perfect. The animation was amazing with Boss Baby’s mannerisms being totally adult, yet totally baby-like at the same time.

I highly recommend seeing The Boss Baby. It’s a great family movie. You won’t be sorry.

Note: It is rated PG for some mild rude humor. Usually, it is funny, but there is one point where Tim and Boss Baby are in a dog-shaped bouncy house and they escape through an interestingly placed air hole and so look like they are being pooped out of the dog. That crossed the line from funny to gross and judging by the reaction of a lot of the people in the theater, I am not the only one who thought that.

My Cleaning Plan

The other day I was talking to my best friend on the phone and mentioned that the room I was in was echoing because I had taken all the furniture out of it. She asked why and I explained that I do that every month so I can sweep and mop under everything. She said I have it way more together than she does. This is not true, however. She’s a single working mom and still somehow manages to feed her kids and get them to school on time and everything. I, however, am slightly neurotic and inherited a love of marking things off lists from my mother and so I have, over time, developed a cleaning plan that works really well for me.

I took the ideas I use from FlyLady, Side-Tracked Home Executives, and some other random cleaning gurus. For a long time I wrote my to do’s out on paper (and even tried the SHE index card system – which did not work for me at all). Now I use some apps on my phone. I use the calendar that came with my iPhone for scheduling, Wunderlist for my to do list, and MealBoard for menu planning, grocery list, and pantry inventory.

I have things I do every day, every week, and recurring on some other schedule. They are all entered into Wunderlist so they show up each day for me automatically. Some things are somewhat silly to be listed as a to do, but, as I said, I really like checking things off my list so I leave them. As things come up (like if a kid is doing a multi-day thing for Scouts), I’ll add it to my to do list temporarily. If I come up with something extra to do (for example, reviewing a book I have finished), I add it as needed. Below are my regularly scheduled chores.

*Pray (I’m great with bedtime prayers, not so much with morning so this reminds me)
*Upstairs Toilet (either wipe it down with a Clorox wipe or use the brush inside the bowl)
*Downstairs Toilet
*Vitamins (I put them out on a shelf so people can pick theirs up and take them any time)
*Read Scriptures (currently reading the Doctrine and Covenants and using a verse by verse book to help with studying)
*Add to Letter (I write to my aunt every Wednesday, but if I write it all at once I forget a lot of things so I add things daily)
*Spot Clean Cage (guinea pigs – pick up their poop)
*Family Scriptures
*Picture of the Day (I’ve taken a picture each day since 2011, plus in 2009)
*P365 Page (add the picture of the day to a digital scrapbook page)
*Finances (yes, I update our finances every day – I actually enjoy it)
*Indexing (I do one batch a day)
*PokeWalk (with Fritz)
*Wash Critter Kitchen (sugar gliders are horribly messy when they eat so we have a plastic container with their food dish in their cage)
*Critter Food 1/2/3 (we always have three mixes of food cubes for the gliders in the freezer and each morning I take one out, put it in a dish, and stick it in the refrigerator so it’s thawed by evening when they get fed)
*Brush Lola (she is such a shedder!)
*Notebook (I check the next day’s meals and schedule and add them to the to do list, noting if I will need to take any meat out to thaw or make bread or whatever in the morning)
*Pinterest (I’m always looking for gluten and dairy free recipes)

*Cut chicken (I have chicken issues so I get all the gross stuff cut off at one time and freeze single breasts in ziploc baggies so they are ready to be used as needed; I cut the chicken on Sundays because I grocery shop Friday and Monday is trash day and if the nasty bits sit in the garage in the Texas heat longer than a day it is really gross)
*Sacrament (because of the Celiac we have to bring crackers for taking the Sacrament at church)
*Write to Steven (he’s a friend of Ani’s serving a mission right now)
*FHE (because of the big kids’ work schedule and Jamie taking taekwondo on Monday evenings, we do Family Home Evening on Sundays)
*Skype Jamie’s Mum

*Sweep Living Room
*Trash (Cam) (taking out the trash is Cameron’s assigned job)
*Cans (once they pick the trash up, we have to bring the cans back in)

*Sweep Kitchen
*Taekwondo (I only add taekwondo to the list when I’ll be going there – otherwise it would be on there almost daily)

*Bathe Lola (Cam) (another of his assigned jobs)
*Refrigerator (clean out the leftovers we didn’t eat)
*Sweep Stairs
*Print Letter to Aunt Betty
*Take Cameron to Work (he works Wednesdays, but Ani doesn’t)

*Catalog Food (I go through our cabinets and make sure my food inventory in MealBoard is correct)
*Menus (I plan a week at a time and grocery shop on Friday morning)
*Trash (Cam)
*Mail Aunt Betty Letter
*Sweep Dining Room

*Guinea Pig Cage (I put the girls in their pen on the floor and wash their bedding and clean the coroplast)
*Plan FHE
*Prepare for Sunday School
*Sweep Craft Room

*Prepare for Relief Society (if Sunday will be from the Gordon B. Hinckley manual or Teachings for Our Times)
*Pills (refill the pill containers to make it easy to put them out each morning)

Every 4 Weeks
*Mop in addition to sweep (when I do that I remove all furniture possible from the room; when I do the counters that week I remove everything as well; when I do the dining room I also wash the table)
*Wash Sheets, Dry Sheets, Make Beds

Every 24 Weeks
*Wash and Dry Mattress Pads (when I do the sheets)

First of the Month
*Cabinets (wash their doors and also the center island)
*Change Welcome Sign (my sister gave me a felt sign years ago and each month has a different little picture to go on it)
*Lego Calendar (I have a perpetual Lego calendar that I happily rearrange every month)
*Clean Dishwasher
*Clean Disposal
*Clean Washing Machine (I get little tablets for cleaning those three things each month)
*Lola’s Heartworm Medicine

If I don’t get around to something that is not a daily recurring chore, I just let it go to the next day. For example, I really hate washing the cabinets every month. It’s probably my least favorite chore (well, other than sweeping and mopping the stairs – I HATE that one). I finally got that one done on the 4th even though it was originally assigned on the 1st. Wunderlist puts overdue tasks at the top of my daily list in red so it annoys me until I do it. I never let things go way too long, mainly because I absolutely love ending a day with the entire “Today” list empty. That’s another thing my best friend recently noted about me. I feel the most productive when I’ve got a clean house and have marked things off my to do list. (But I’ll be honest… some days I don’t do much other than school, walk, and read because sometimes you just need a day off.)

Currently, I have an added recurring daily chore of plan school. As long as I do a little each day I get the next year’s plan done before the end of the current school year.

I check our laundry basket daily to see if laundry needs to be done. Usually that happens twice a week (and I add Wash Clothes, Dry Clothes, Fold Clothes, and Put Away Clothes to the list those days because marking off four things is way more awesome than just one). Towels get washed as needed, usually every week and a half or so. Ani and Cameron do their own laundry.

Dishes get washed a minimum of once a day, generally at night (so they get put away, generally by Fritz and Adrian, in the morning). Often the dishwasher needs to be run twice or even three times during the day and that gets done as needed.

I walk 10,000 steps at a minimum each day. Regular movement around the house is about 3500 steps. The PokeWalk adds a couple thousand. Taekwondo days also add a couple thousand. I have a path I walk around the main floor of our house. It’s an open floor plan so I make a convoluted circle of just over 100 steps over and over. It would be boring to just walk around and around like that so I read while I walk. It is one reason why I read so much. I read while I exercise. I also do a little picking up as I walk. Each time around I grab something in a place that doesn’t belong and as I make the circle I put it where it goes (or on the stairs if it belongs upstairs). That kills two (really three) birds with one stone.

I don’t put school on the to do list, but of course that gets done every morning. We try our best not to run into the afternoon, but on taekwondo days sometimes that is unavoidable.

My kids are big enough that on occasion I assign a random chore to one of them. Fritz is getting really good at sweeping the craft room (it’s the easiest to sweep since it’s small and pretty much empty). I am more likely to assign stuff to them when I’ve been busy doing other stuff and running out of time in the day.

Deeper cleaning projects I do as the urge strikes. Like right now I really want to clean the shelves in the craft room (again), but I haven’t quite gotten around to it. A while back I decided to use a toothbrush to clean the dirt-catching crevices in the cabinet doors. I did one door per day. When I get the urge to do a deep cleaning project, I add it to my daily to do list temporarily. I almost never do any major cleaning on the weekends (unless I feel like it). Weekends are for relaxation and church for me.

It really doesn’t take long to complete all the things I’ve assigned myself. Some of them literally take seconds, but need to be done every day to keep our house running smoothly. I am much more calm and am a much better wife and mother when my house is straight. I hate clutter. Because of that, it is imperative for me to have a “company-ready” house and my cleaning plan helps make that happen.

I’ve found that getting as much done as possible early is best for me. I am a morning person naturally. I have also found that if I do not get on the computer before a good number of my daily to do’s are done things also go better. It’s Newton’s Law about objects in motion staying in motion. As soon as I end up at rest (on the computer) I’m somehow stuck and have trouble getting moving again (the 250 step per hour reminder on my FitBit helps with that, though). Really, if things aren’t done by about 4, they probably aren’t getting done since I’m really tired by then.

The most important thing I have learned through tweaking and adjusting my plan is it will only work if it is customized to me. It’s why I had to take ideas from others, but still make it mine because me and my house are unique. So that is my advice to others who want to make a cleaning plan: Don’t just copy someone else. Make it your own. And, most importantly, make it something that you will do, is realistic for you, and meets your goals or you will not succeed.