March Science Experiments

We drew food webs for our backyard (including our dog and lizards… she really eats lizards).
March Science Experiments

We looked at a torn blade of grass under the microscope.
March Science Experiments

We looked at rhizobacteria under the microscope.
March Science Experiments

We made a terrarium in an empty pickle jar.
March Science Experiments

We picked two identical leaves off one tree. We put 1/2 cup of distilled water in one jar and 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar in another jar and added a leaf to each jar. We let them sit overnight. The next day, the leaf that had been in the water was bright green and still looked healthy while the leaf that had been in the vinegar was very dark green and a bit shriveled.
March Science Experiments

We planted four radish seedlings and watered one with pure water, one with pure vinegar, one with 4 parts water and 1 part vinegar, and one with 4 parts vinegar and 1 part water. The one with pure water kept growing, the one with pure vinegar died within a few hours. The one with mostly water tried to keep growing, but wasn’t healthy, and the one with mostly vinegar grew for a couple days and then died.
March Science Experiments


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.

Best Christmas Ever

We have five traditions surrounding Christmas. One is that the kids line up by age before coming into the room with the Christmas tree. This year Ani had to stand two steps above Cameron to be taller than him. (The others are watching Holiday in Handcuffs, Santa presents are not wrapped and they get nothing from Jamie and me, they get a book, a cross stitched ornament, and something else, and we always have pickles and olives with our holiday meals.)
Best Christmas Ever

Santa brought great presents for the kids. He also brought stuff for Lola (two toys, two bags of her favorite treats, and two cans of special meals), Filli and Kree (three bags of yogurt drops), and Hera and Demeter (wooden chewies, dried corn on the cob, and these crispy treats they love).
Best Christmas Ever

As I was setting out the gifts Christmas Eve night, Lola stole one of her toys. It’s got lots of ropes and ropes are her favorite. She was a bit miffed when I took it back from her. She got the idea that she wasn’t allowed to play with it and amazingly left it alone all night. When the kids went to their piles, she went to grab that toy. I laughed and told everyone to look at Lola. She must have thought I meant she couldn’t touch it because she ran away from it. She was so happy when we gave it to her.
Best Christmas Ever

I finished the kids’ ornaments on Christmas Eve. I always insist I will get them done early and I always don’t. This is the latest I’ve finished them, though.
Best Christmas Ever

Ani got a breadmaker and The Fever Code by James Dashner. She immediately sat down to read it and was quite surprised to discover it is signed by the author. We ordered it from Amazon and had no idea it was signed so that was a nice surprise.
Best Christmas Ever

Cameron got a Man Bag and an Audible book. He apparently really likes bags since last year he got a taekwondo bag for Christmas. He promptly put his new book on his phone. He’ll probably finish listening to it within a few days. He’s a voracious listener.
Best Christmas Ever

Fritz got a chess set and a book of Mysterious Benedict Society puzzles. He’s been playing the Fritz and Chesster games so now he can try out his Chess skills in real life.
Best Christmas Ever

Adrian got a science experiment kit and one of the worst case scenario for kids books. He hugged his science kit and then immediately sat down across the chess set from Fritz to play a game of Chess. They spent about 45 minutes playing right then and played another couple games later on (and did one of the science experiments from his kit).
Best Christmas Ever

I got some awesome gifts, too. Jamie gave me a Kindle Oasis. (I gave him part of a computer – the rest of his computer came from my parents and his mom.) My Kindle Keyboard served me well for almost 6 years, but it was time to upgrade. It wasn’t holding a charge very well anymore and the off/on slider button was sticking and becoming stubborn about turning the thing on. It was also just generally slowing down. I am amazed at the difference. It’s obviously so much smaller and lighter, but the font is also crisper and it responds so much faster. I love it. My parents gave me money and I chose to get an Instant Pot. I love that thing possibly more than my new Kindle and that’s saying something. It arrived about a week ago and I have used it at least once a day. Christmas dinner included three things cooked in it (ribs, potato salad, and corn on the cob). I also got purple slippers with the money from my parents. They won’t arrive until Friday. My mother-in-law also sent money and I chose to get a purse. The one I’ve been using is big and was wearing out. This one is small and fits my phone and new Kindle perfectly.
Best Christmas Ever

And then there was the gift that has made me laugh the most. It came from Cameron. He gave me Christmas in a Nutshell. It is a little baby Jesus inside a half walnut shell. It’s awesome. My son really gets me.
Best Christmas Ever

In addition to gifts and an amazing dinner, Christmas included apple cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast (made in the Instant Pot, of course), a bit of reading, and a PokeWalk with most of the family. Seriously the best Christmas ever.
Best Christmas Ever

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Week 2

We’ve completed another week of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. We got the idea from Coffee Cups and Crayons.

On the 11th (Sunday), we held the door for people. Cameron has started making funny faces in pictures for some reason.

On the 12th (Monday), we went around our neighborhood and brought all our neighbors’ trash cans up to their garages. We hung candy canes on the cans. I must say I am glad we have such a small neighborhood. That was more work than I expected!

On the 13th (Tuesday), Jamie taped a baggie of change on a vending machine where he works. I hope whoever found it truly enjoyed their treat.

On the 14th (Wednesday), we did chore for or otherwise helped other people. For example, Cameron swept the stairs for me, Adrian put away some dishes for Fritz, and Fritz volunteered to help decorate for the Christmas party at church.

On the 15th (Thursday), we gave a scratch-off lottery ticket to a random stranger. Even if it wasn’t a winner, we hope they had fun doing the scratching!

On the 16th (Friday), we took cookies to the fire station. They gave us a tour! The little guys have taken a few tours there in the past, but every one is different. While we were there we got to watch several of the guys leave with the lights on and sirens blaring. A woman had gone into labor early and was in severe pain so they were off to get her to the hospital and hopefully not deliver a baby on the way.

On the 17th (Saturday), we took some dog and cat toys and treats to the Animal Defense League (where we got Lola). We almost came home with a another dog, but Lola is determined to stay an only.


On Black Friday, Fritz and I went to do our Christmas shopping for Lola at PetSmart. I, of course, let him look at the birds and small animals while we were there and I noticed the guinea pigs were half price. So after talking about it with the kids, Ani and I went back later and came home with two little girls.

Keeping with the Greek god/dess theme we started back when we had Apollo, we named them Hera and Demeter.

These girls have made us realize that Apollo really never was well, right from the moment we got him. He was super quiet and rarely moved much. No wonder he didn’t last very long.

When we first got them, they were pretty quiet like Apollo was.

That didn’t last long, though. Now they can be kind of crazy and make us laugh a lot.

Every day Ani gives them a selection of fresh vegetables (adding fruit a couple times a week). They’ve already learned that Ani’s the one who feeds them and so as soon as they see her they get excited. By the way, Hera likes bell peppers and oranges while Demeter prefers carrots.

Every couple days we add their play yard on to their cage, spread some hay (those girls go through hay like crazy!), toys, and vegetables on the floor, and move their hideout to the play yard and let them play for a few hours. They love it. It gives them some time to get some extra exercise (in a bigger space than crawling around on us) and still have things around to eat.

Lola is a bit terrified of the guinea pigs. She really isn’t sure what to think of them. Part of her seems to want to play with them and part of her seems to just want to run away and hide. The guinea pigs, however, are not scared of Lola at all, especially not Hera.

Hopefully these girls will stay healthy and we’ll get to love on them for a long time. Side note: All of our pets are girls. We now have 4 human males and 7 human and non-human females in our house. We didn’t plan it that way. It just happens the piggies PetSmart had on Black Friday were female.

Ani’s Room, Part 2

Several months ago I posted about starting to redo Ani’s room. It’s been slow going, but we’re almost done (much to Cameron’s delight since his room is next – thankfully his plan is way simpler than Ani’s!).

Once we had her room all painted white, I used Frog Tape to form randomly sized triangles all around her room.
Ani's Room, Part 2

Then we used the five colors Ani picked out (yellow, blue, purple, orange, and green) to randomly paint inside the triangles. (The exception to the triangles is behind the shelves where it is pink and behind the desk where it is deep pinkish red.)
Ani's Room, Part 2

When we pulled off the tape, the edges were rather fuzzy. The texture on our walls makes it so good lines take a lot of work. I spent about 40 or so hours listening to Literary Disco podcasts and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and making those lines nice and straight. (Side note: I usually can’t pay attention to audiobooks, but while doing something mindless apparently I can.)
Ani's Room, Part 2

Jamie, Cameron, and Fritz installed the floor. Once we got a good saw it went in so fast. It’s gorgeous.
Ani's Room, Part 2

We put in new baseboard trim. The old stuff looked white until we painting the room white. Then it looked like an ugly shade of yellowish beige.
Ani's Room, Part 2

I painted the shelves white (they were as ugly as the old baseboards).
Ani's Room, Part 2

We installed an outlet with USB ports. We painted the outlet and light switch covers random colors from the triangles and screwed them in place. The outlet covers on the shelves/desk wall are painted the pink/pinkish red opposite what the walls they are on.
Ani's Room, Part 2

We got a bedset that goes nicely with the room and white cordless blinds for the windows. Ani loves being back in her room again even though it’s not quite done yet (she was sleeping in the room my parents will be in once they move here).
Ani's Room, Part 2

We still need to finish painting her door white and put that up, get curtains for her windows, and do a few touch-ups on the triangles. Her closet is a different story. We removed the door and wire shelving and painted the walls and ceiling using the leftover paint from the shelves/desk wall. In there, she is planning to build chests to hold her clothes that double as reading benches. She’s planning to get a little chandelier and beads to go in the doorway making it a nice, cozy little nook. We’re going to move on to Cameron’s room before we finish her closet, though.

Meet Filli and Kree

We are Filli and Kree. We are very loving and happy sugar gliders who have very distinct personalities. We were born (came out of our mother’s pouch) on St. Patrick’s Day.
Meet Filli and Kree

*Kree must do everything first before Filli will. She has to eat the food, drink the water, play with the toys, climb the cage wall before Filli will follow her example because it’s safe.
Meet Filli and Kree
*Filli usually steps back and lets Kree do whatever she wants because Kree is a bit rougher and more energetic unless apples are involved… then Filli shoves Kree out of the way so the apple can be hers.
*Kree will stand on Filli’s head if things aren’t going her way. She has to be the dominant sister.
Meet Filli and Kree
*Filli will happily sit and watch everything Kree does and get the same enjoyment out of it that she would if she were doing it herself.
*Kree will lunge at Filli to play fight and then stop just before we collide and we start grooming each other and then we chase each other around our cage or the tent happily.
Meet Filli and Kree
*We are not good at sharing so the people we own must give us each our own apple slice when in the bonding pouch so we don’t fight over one. They even had to buy us a second food dish so we wouldn’t shove each other anymore.
*Kree is a little bit smaller than Filli which amuses the people we own because Kree acts younger, but also tries to glide more which is an “older glider” thing.
Meet Filli and Kree
*We don’t really know what to think about the dog yet… she just growls at us like we’re a danger.
*We love to play together, but we always play with separate toys because, again, we’re very bad at sharing.
Meet Filli and Kree

Meet Filli and Kree
Hello, my name is Kree. I’m one of two Sugar Gliders that adopted a family of Duks last weekend. I figured I should introduce myself to everyone.

*I am hyper, clumsy, outgoing, jumpy, brave, and trusting.
*I like climbing, toys, chewing on everything plastic or fleece, sleeping, standing on my sister, crabbing (my annoyed “LEAVE ME ALONE” sound), drinking, my ball pit, and my banana sleeping pouch.
Meet Filli and Kree
*I DON’T like when my sister gets too close, when my sister tries to eat my apples, when anyone tries to wake me up and I’m not ready to get up, and being picked up and not being allowed to run around that person’s back and shoulders.
*I love dangling toys and running in my wheel.
*I will crab at you if you attempt to wake me up before I’m ready.
*I will happily bury myself in my ball pit and sleep for hours.
Meet Filli and Kree
*I will chew on the bars of my cage loudly if I want to run around in my family’s tent.
*I will try to do things as fast as possible because I’m so excited and then get confused and fall down because I don’t know where I should go next.

Meet Filli and Kree
Hi, I’m Filli. I’m the other Sugar Glider… Kree is making me introduce myself.

*I am shy, nervous, sleepy, slow, happy, friendly, loving, cuddly, and curious.
*I like playing with my toys, cuddling my tail, cuddling any fleece blankie around, cuddling my plastic frog, sleeping in my toy bin, cuddling my sister, chattering, hanging upside down, watching my sister do everything, and chewing hair and fingernails.
Meet Filli and Kree
*I DON’T like when my sister crabs at me, when anyone looks at me, when I can’t climb, and when my sister is asleep and I’m awake.
*I love apples and watching Kree run in our wheel.
Meet Filli and Kree
*I will chew on everything in the toy bin. I especially love the frog, snake, and rings. The bracelet is okay, but it’s a little big for my mouth.
*I will find the smallest hiding place possible and hang out because it’s warm there.
*I will try and wake up my sister if I’m awake because I need entertainment.
Meet Filli and Kree

Filli running in the wheel.  Usually Filli is content to curl up behind the wheel in the x-mount or just hang out watching Kree run (and run and run) in the wheel, but sometimes she gets in the wheel, too.  This is a Stealth Wheel from AtticWorx.Com.

(This is a slightly modified form of three posts my daughter made on Facebook. She took all the pictures and I took the video.)