I have a real love-hate relationship with cleaning ladies. On one hand I love them because who wants to clean their own house? (Hint: not me.)  On the other hand, it’s expensive and what kind of lazy bones can’t clean her own house? What am I so busy doing that I can’t scrub it myself? Or make my minions do it? (Oh yes, I’m being a mom to six kids and a Relief Society President). Sometimes we’re too broke to have a cleaning lady. Sometimes we’re desperate enough to pony up the money. Lately it’s been the latter.  Also, I’m the only person in my neighborhood who cleans her own house. Seriously!  But then I watch Downton Abbey and they don’t even do their own hair, let alone scrub their own toilets. So then I feel totally cool with it.

Mister is not a big fan of my lackadaisical housekeeping skills. I’ll scrub toilets til the cows come home–there is nothing grosser to me than a stinky, dirty toilet. Even if I’m about to throw up I’ll be madly scrubbing the toilet first. But my floor mopping schedule is a little more–how shall I put it–elastic. So Mister finally insisted that I find someone to come in every week or two to do the dirty work.

In the past we’ve always managed to have really sexy cleaning ladies. They always come in sweats, though, not in French Maid outfits. Although one time our Russian maid, Tanya, came dressed in teeny tiny hot pants and high heels. It looked like she was going to go dancing afterwards, but those Russians–they can dress oddly at times.  On that particular day I walked into the bathroom while Tanya was bent over scrubbing the tub and wow! Did I ever get an eyeful.  I can now say with absolute assurity that that woman did not have an ounce of cellulite anywhere. It’s probably a good thing that Mister wasn’t working from home.

We had Flavia after that. She was a Brazilian girl with a rocking bod. She’d wear skin tight cropped tank tops and sweatpants rolled down to just under her pelvic bone. Flavia always wore her thick wavy hair cascading down her golden brown shoulders. It was almost waist-length and she never wore it in a ponytail. I can’t imagine that it was very convenient but it looked really pretty while she was wiping off my appliances.  She was a real butter-face, though. You know, everything is fantastic but her face. She was as sweet as sugar and loved babies which I had about a million of at the time.

This week I finally got around to finding a new cleaning lady. Carmen came highly recommended by one of my friends. And she also sounded pretty cheap. Definitely a bonus. Carmen speaks Spanish and that’s all. She didn’t even know the English word for broom or mop–definitely a handicap in her profession, I would think.

The way our cleaning ladies have always worked is that they charge by the house, not by the hour. So cleaning my house is always X dollars, whether it takes them two hours or five hours. Their first visit always lasts a little bit longer since they have to do everything. They won’t be dusting the blinds and cleaning the baseboards every time, but they start out the first visit by getting everything done.

So Carmen (who is not even slightly sexy) came over on Wednesday morning right after my kids left for school. After pantomiming a list of what supplies she needed I scurried off to fill her order. It took three tries of bringing back the wrong item before I figured out she needed a step ladder.  All those years of French have really come in handy. Not.

I let Carmen get to business while I spent most of the day planning my trip to Europe in a couple of months. Hmmm, I guess I’m more of a spoiled American than I thought.  After three hours Carmen was still in my room. Slightly humiliating, I guess. My room was apparently dirtier than I thought.

It got worse. I told Carmen only to vacuum the kids’ rooms. Their dressers are piled with all sorts of random kid crap and some of their beds weren’t made. But of course she made everyone’s beds, straightened everything up, dusted and vacuumed. I half expected her to leave their towels folded into origami animals like when you go on a cruise.  The lady didn’t even take a break and was still at it when Mister got home from work.

All in all Carmen was there for eight hours. Eight hours. She did a great job but compared to our regular cleaning lady (me and/or my slovenly children), it didn’t matter much. I’m not that picky. As long as I’m not the one doing the cleaning, I’m happy. I got over my shame of hiring a cleaning lady right quick.  Now I just need to figure out how to say “mildew” in Spanish.

Screen shot maid

I’ll be buying this outfit for Carmen, of course.


This is what I’m looking at right now. It’s a hard core, prescription laxative that’s getting my intestines sparkling clean for my colonoscopy tomorrow. Don’t let the name of the stuff fool you; it is not prepping you to watch a movie. I wish. There are movements involved; I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination. (I can actually feel your jealous vibes coming through my computer right now.)

I also am on a clear liquid diet all of today and tomorrow until my procedure around noon. I am thoroughly  starving and peevish and the only reason I haven’t killed someone is because I can drink pop. It’s considered a clear liquid, thank goodness. Since it’s a special occasion I’ve broken out a six pack of Mt. Dew.

The only thing getting me excited is that I plan to have a ginormous pile of BBQ brisket after my colonoscopy. I’m not expecting the doctor to find anything while he’s all up in my business. I’m merely going because my family history puts me at a higher risk. And, hey, sometimes moms have to resort to complete anesthesia in order to get an uninterrupted nap.

Welcome to my first video how-to! (Do I have to tell you how much I hate my voice?) This is a tutorial on one of the most common problems in everybody’s house: a leaky toilet that’s constantly running. This is such a super easy problem to fix. Anybody can do it!

I got out a giant jar of jelly beans this morning which can mean only one thing:  it’s potty-training time.  I usually wait until the hapless victim is three, but Jasper seems very savvy.  Or rather, he seemed very savvy. When I was potty-training Ada last year he was into wearing underwear and sitting on the toilet just like her.  But the newness has worn off and I can’t even get a pair of panties on that boy (all underwear is called panties at our house.  Regardless of the size of wearer or his/her gender, they are panties. Even for Mister.)   Now Jasper swats the panties away and won’t go to the bathroom in the toilet unless he’s naked and happens to be standing near one.

I missed my window of opportunity, didn’t I? [wailing] I couldn’t try to potty train two children at once.  I just couldn’t! That’s the whole point of not having twins.  If you have had a child for more than three years I don’t have to tell you how crappy potty-training is (pun intended).  It is gross and frustrating and makes me want to bang my head against the wall.  

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Jasper is my youngest.  The last time I will be potty training anyone.  

If I have to put the jelly beans away for a while, so be it.  But it will happen.  Oh yes, it will.  As much as I dread it.

What "emergency" means

December 28, 2008 · 6 comments

in Bathroom

I was going to the bathroom, fan turned on to drown out the world (or at least my children), when I heard a furious pounding on my bedroom door.  I waited and the pounding continued.  Thinking somebody would be standing outside my door covered in blood or awaiting the Heimlich manoeuvre, I stumbled off the toilet as quickly as possible only to find Arabella standing there with a cup of hot cocoa. “I just wanted to know if I could put whipped cream in it.”

Even though I couldn’t care less, I just yelled, “no!” and slammed my door.  Hasn’t she learned that a locked door and a bathroom fan turned on mean “leave Mommy all alone for a very long time”? Apparently she thinks it means “ask Mommy the most pointless thing you can think of”. And she did.

The girls’ room is a mess.  Do you think I cleaned it up today? If you do, you must have never read my blog before.

Of course I didn’t clean it up! I installed my new bathroom light fixture instead ($27.67 on ebay, thank you very much). Remember the old one from last week? 

Here it is BEFORE (heinous):

DURING (somewhat scary looking):


Lest you think I’m completely incompetent, here’s a picture of the actual light turned on:

Don’t you like the way it echoes the form of the new faucet? And don’t you especially like the price I paid?  This is what happens when you have both electrical AND shopping skills.

(Thanks to my brother Ben for teaching me how to change a light fixture!)

Jennie the plumber

October 22, 2008 · 7 comments

in Bathroom, Fix-it

Do you know what this blog is turning into?  A narration of all the things I do when I’m supposed to be cleaning my house.  I hate cleaning my house.  How many times can I put the same dish in the dishwasher?  Or put the throw pillows back on the sofa?  Or pick up discarded underwear off of the bathroom floor? (answer: infinity!) I really wish I were one of those people who is ultra-uptight about keeping their house clean; who wished they could just let a mess go for a while.  I aim for an air of tidyness, but it’s never all clean at once.

So yesterday’s excuse for not cleaning my house was that I had to install new bathroom faucets.  Our house has a wonderful, fabulous floor plan and I dearly love it (Mister picked it out all by himself.  The first time I ever saw it was the day we closed on it.  Good thing he knows me well), but it was finished as cheaply as possible.  The carpet, paint, fixtures are all incredibly low-quality.  And ugly too.  (The people who built this house did splurge on granite counters, though.)  I mean our house has such cheap options that none of the bathroom cupboards even have drawers.  Because you know what a silly splurge those are!  Who needs drawers when you can just pile all your toiletries into a heap under the sink? 

Anyway, the lovely bathroom faucets I’ve been living with are these gems, straight out of 1990 (Brass and chrome together? Classy):

 I found some faucets a couple of months ago that I fell madly in love with.  They were $165 each. (Cough! choke!)  I heaved a sad sigh and put them out of my mind.   But last week I happened to find four of them for sale on ebay for $39 each.  The same exact ones!  And I was the only bidder!

Yesterday was Mister’s first day at his new job and I took advantage of his being gone all day to install the new faucets.  I hate when he’s around and walks in on one of my halfway done projects.  Frankly, I’d rather get forgiveness than permission.  

I happen to have mad, hot plumbing skills (not really) and these were pretty easy to install.  I will tell you this, though, they come with a whole new under-sink apparatus that is a total pain to install.  The faucet part took me half an hour to put in; the other part took two hours.  All because I thought it would be nice to have the drain stopper look “new and shiny”.  Dumb idea.

So now I have new faucets in the guest bath and the master bath.  From gross to gorgeous!

Sadly Mister doesn’t like the new faucets. He thinks they look “too Chinese”. Remember what I said about forgiveness vs. permission?  This is what I was talking about.

Now I just have to get rid of this nasty thing: (good thing I have mad, hot electrical skills too!)

I’m bidding for a new one on ebay right now.