Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Weekend Reading

It's always a fun day when this arrives in the mailbox:
Vist their website here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I made it!

The first week of school is under my belt and I feel pretty good about it. Granted, it was only a 3-day week, but hey...
Weekly report coming soon. For now, I've just got to say that I'm so happy to be organized this year!!!! With new babies and toddlers in the house, we spent a couple years being more relaxed in our daily routine. It worked for a time, but now we're all ready more structure.
The new schedule and clear lesson plans for the Big 3 made for a really smooth week. Not once did we make it through the whole thing on time, but that's okay. We still got all our lessons done and I even had time for a nap 2 of the 3 days! Yay!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm Still Here!

Hello, Internets! I've missed you! I've been absent from the blog world for a while: we've had a couple of birthdays, a trip to Tennessee to visit family, and I've been working like a madwoman getting ready for school. But I'm still here!

Now that school's beginning, I look forward to a more structured routine. I'll be around on a limited basis posting and visiting. I'm going to experiment with a new way of weekly reporting, so come back to see that if you're interested. Meanwhile, check out the fruits of all my hard work last night getting ready for today - our first day... (Notice there are no pics of M's desk - we moved it up to her room and she was still asleep when I took the pictures. I'll add it later, maybe.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Not Martha Stewart? Read this!

I wasn't going to post anything today, but I ran across this fabulous article by Nancy Wilson. Made me think of my favorite song by Caedmon's Call, "Sacred," that opens with the line: "This house is a good mess; it's the proof of life."

Here's a tease:
Where do we get this notion that being organized is next to godliness? I’m
pretty sure we get it from magazines and ads in those magazines. And though they
really may be great magazines full of super recipes and ideas that inspire us,
they can also set us up to start laying guilt trips on ourselves. Something like
this: “If I was really together, my closets would look like those featured in
Martha’s Living, where stacks of sheets are tied with color-coded ribbons.” Just
a little reminder here: Martha has fleets of housekeepers who wash and iron
those sheets and keep them tied up with ribbons. You, on the other hand, do

Thanks, Nancy! Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Six Random Facts About Me

A new bloggy friend, Happy Mommy, tagged me for this one.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you (i.e. me)
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write 6 random things about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger (me) know when your entry is posted

Six Random Facts About Me:
1. I used to wear contacts. My old friends in TN remember this and have had to adjust to seeing me in glasses; my new GA friends don't know me any other way. After 17 years of contact lenses invading my corneal space, my eyes rebelled!
2. I'm addicted to chap stick. Must have access to it at all times. There's a tube in the "key bowl" on my kitchen counter; a tube in the car; one in my purse; and one on my bedside table.
3. I hate wet paper. Wait. Let me rephrase that: I'm deathly afraid of wet paper. No clue. Weird, I know. I hate the beverage napkins they put under your water glass at restaurants. Soggy tissues from the laundry make me gag. That trick where you crinkle a straw wrapper and watch it expand with a drop of water - horrifying!
4. Not much on sandwich wraps either. Think it has something to do with fact #3 above - the "fillings" get the wrap all icky.
5. I love snakes. Wish I could have one as a pet, but My Sweetie says no way Bummer. Afraid of wet paper. Enchanted by snakes. Told ya I was weird.
6. I was voted "Most Likely to Make My Kids Eat Broccoli" at my high school banquet. No comment.

So, St. Theophan Academy, Confessing Me, Reluc Tant, Tate School, Mostly I'm Tired, and Heritage Academy... you're IT!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The One About the Mer*ry Mai*ds

Ok, so here's the thing - someone had given me a gift card for Mer*ry Mai*ds (henceforth known as MM) two Christmases ago. After the summer craziness and a laid back attitude toward housework, I decided to redeem the gift card in the hopes of at least getting part of my house grime-free and ready for the start of school.

So I called the local chapter and explained what I wanted. I knew that MM was expensive, so I told the lady I wanted whatever cleaning my $100 could buy me, starting with kitchen and bathrooms. She said that I could make an appointment for a consultant to come out and give me a free estimate. I reminded her I just wanted to redeem a gift card. Nevertheless, it seems to be MM policy that their "consultant" come out first. Fine. So I made the appointment for a Thursday afternoon. Day 1 of my schedule being cleared or adjusted for MM.

Of course the kids and I spent Thursday morning frantically tidying up the entire house, so the house cleaning consultant (!) wouldn't think we were overly messy and round up our estimate. That done, I put a new tablecloth on in the kitchen and waited. The lady showed up an hour late, full of apologies. Fine. Let's move on. I gave her a tour of the house and she made a few very stoic remarks about what would be cleaned in each room. We returned to my newly-draped table to write up the estimate.

First she showed me what weekly and bi-weekly cleanings would cost, should I decide to become a regular client. The MM fee schedule is designed to punish their customers for not having them come more often. The less often they clean; the more you pay for a cleaning. The prices she quoted me for merely cleaning the main areas of my house, excluding all bedrooms, basement, and laundry room bordered on ridiculous. But that was never my intention anyway. Now about that gift card....

She did a lot of tapping on her Black*erry calculator (how hard can it be?) Then she gave me a total for getting my kitchen and three bathrooms cleaned, just once: $104. A strange figure, I thought - probably meant to make MM look more professional. No even, round numbers here, that's so amateur! My gift card was for $100, so she said I could just give the cleaners $4 cash when they come. Fine. We set up the appointment for the following Tuesday "afternoon." Meaning literally any time after noon. Day 2 of my schedule being cleared for MM.

So the day of the cleaning arrives and again we go through a ritual of tidying up. Funny how that is, huh? Cleaning for the cleaning ladies? I cleared the kitchen counter of all mail, broken crayons, Pol*y P*cket shoes, and Lego creations. I moved on to the master bath and was working on putting away all the things that make me beautiful when the doorbell rang ... at 11:30 am. Now understand, MM has a "lockout policy" that says you pay $25 or 25% of your bill, whichever is more, should the cleaners arrive and you're not home. What if I had decided to run to the store, planning to return at noon? ugh.

The ladies came in and the actual cleaning part was rather uneventful. My Sweetie, who was working from home that day, took the kiddos to the local bounce house so I wouldn't have to constantly shoo them away from the MMs hard at work. New people in our house, especially those that come with equipment, are like a kid-magnet. A (almost 4) and K (2) follow them around staring and asking questions. Even the Big 3 have trouble containing their curiosity, finding all sorts of reasons to walk through whatever portion of the house someone is working in. Funny.

The ladies come. The ladies clean. The ladies leave about two hours later, with a call from the foyer, "We're leaving!" "okay," I say, caught a little off-guard. After they're gone, I walk around to inspect and find several obvious things they overlooked: the top of the fridge wasn't even dusted, let alone "deep cleaned" like the consultant promised all areas of my kitchen would be. Wooden blinds on the windows - not touched. Ceiling fan - gross. Chair rail - still sporting dried spaghetti sauce in several places. Stove - full of crumbs under the drip pans. Trash - not emptied, but rather full of MM cleaning trash. Kitchen chairs - randomly piled in the hallway. Tabletop - obviously wiped with a wet cloth, but not scrubbed for goo. Trust me, in this house, we have lots of goo. I suddenly remembered they were supposed to let me do a walk-through before they leave. Hello!

Frustrated, I tried to call the number to answer a survey and leave a voicemail. (Found a nice letter on my table after the MMs left telling me to share my experiences. Boy, did I want to share!) But the automated survey line wasn't working so I called the local chapter.

The "quality control" supervisor answered the phone and told me how sorry she was I wasn't satisfied with the experience. And yes, those things should have been done. And absolutely they should have walked me through to inspect their work. When can we come out and make this right? Tomorrow at 8:30? I said that was a bit early and we settled on 9 am. Day 3 of my schedule being adjusted to fit MM and redeem a simple gift card.

The next day arrived. Nine o'clock came and went. Ten o'clock came and went. At 10:15 I called back and the quality control lady said, "oh, I thought you meant anytime after 9am." I think a little steam escaped from my ears at this point while I tried to maintain self-control.
"No," I replied, "I was expecting you here at 9. Are the ladies close by where they can come now?" "no ma'am, I'm sorry, they're not." "I've got company coming in a while and I can't wait anymore."

After going on this way for a couple of minutes, we settled on 9am sharp the next morning for the original two MMs plus the quality control supervisor to come finish the job. Fine. Day 4 of my life put on hold to redeem a simple gift card.

Day 4 dawns and I don't even lift a finger to tidy up before their arrival. When they come to the door, 2 kids are in PJs, 3 kids still asleep, and I'm in the middle of making my breakfast in the kitchen. I make no effort to stay out of the way and respond as politely as I can manage to the supervisor's apologies and remarks. They make it through the list of forgotten items and leave.

I breathe a sigh of relief and remember now why I clean my own house! With the help of the kids, of course. I think about FlyLady and decide that a little housework, poorly done, still blesses my family. Enough of the professionals for me, though it does smell good, and I'm glad to have clean floors. Relieved to have the whole experience behind me, I head upstairs to get the Littles dressed. As I walk past the dining room I see....

...they left their step stool!!!!!!


Ok, so you know from my previous post how we are all trying to be frugal, right? (Thanks for your comments and ideas, by the way!) Check out my savings today:

Clothes for the kids: retail price total with tax: $358.17
My out-of-pocket: $89.46
Stretching the family dollar as far as it can go: Priceless!

Made possible by: 1. sales tax holiday; 2. awesome in-store sales; 3. VISA gift card donated by sweet brother-in-law; and 4. returns and store credit at Chil*ren's Pl*ce.

Not bad for an afternoon!