Managing the Manor

First World Problems, I Haz Them

Our housekeeper quit a few days after I left for Thailand. Bill reports that the house is currently drowning in pet hair. 

I'm in the process of screening a new housekeeper, but it's tough trying to do so from halfway around the world. So far, Craigslist has gotten us a shortlist and I'll do interviews beginning the day after I get back. 

In the meantime, I'm working on modifications to the cleaning schedule. (Our housekeeper comes in every day, Monday through Friday, for 2-3 hours.) We have a series of spreadsheets that outline daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, and it's  seemed to work pretty well. Here's the latest version.

I'm always curious to see if there is a better system out there. What are we missing? (After using this schedule for the last year, I feel pretty confident that we've got the basics covered, but you never know, right?) Anyone have suggestions or sample ideas to share? I've already scoured Pinterest and don't see anything obviously better than ours.

PS: I just want to note that I am 100% appreciative of the luxury of having a housekeeper, let alone a daily housekeeper. Just like living in The Manor, it's a privilege I am grateful for every day. I am so very, very extraordinarily lucky.

PPS: We discovered that a daily housekeeper that we hired directly was about the same cost as hiring a cleaning company to send their team once a week. Best discovery EVER. Might be worth checking out, if you're interested in whether it would work for your home.

PPPS: I have much to say about raising kids in this kind of atmosphere -- it's something that I really wrestle with. How do I teach them to be responsible, to be grateful, to be humble -- and above all to appreciate that very, VERY few people have the economic privileges that we do? Tackling that subject is probably too much for today, so I'll save my reflections for another time.

Summer Lovin'

The spring is the busy time of year for me at work, and things won't slow down until the beginning of July. I'm out of town for about half of the time, and that leaves Bill in charge. He's actually very good at it (although we part ways when it comes to preferred style of folding clothes), but I know he's happy when I get back -- if only because he can sleep in while I get up with the kids in the morning.

Anyway, I'm here for a week before taking back off for Toronto. And it's my turn for an update on the house. Here's 5 things that have happened.

We're moving forward with the electric heat pump water heater.

That's right, option #3. Yawn. This does not interest me in the least, except that in a couple of weeks we will no longer have water leaking all over the basement. I'm sure Bill will jump in with photos and all of the details once the parts arrive (it is a special order). 

The stovetop is broken.

Sigh, the front right burner is non-functional. Yes, there are three additional burners, but come on! 

The dishwasher is leaking.

Yep, the fun just doesn't stop. And not a little leak -- imagine buckets of water pouring out all over the floor. I think it's just a loose seal (I jammed the rubber strip back into place and that seemed to solve the problem for the rest of the cycle, but I'm not holding my breath.)

The internet won't reach our bedroom, and is only working intermittently in my office and craft room.

We have what seems like dozens of signal boosters and modems and internet paraphernalia positioned around the house, but it's not enough. Bill has to go downstairs and camp out in the breakfast room when he has internet-intensive tasks to complete. Nothing says "I successfully work from home" like a card table set up in an empty corner of the house. 

I finally got new office space.

When we moved, I had to give up my very lovely, very functional office. Beginning three days ago, I have new office space -- just two miles from home. It's perfectly located, right downtown near the water and only a block from the main drag with restaurants, the farmer's market, and a cute coffee shop. Internet is being installed this week and I hope by Friday to be permanently installed there.

Of course, it does come with some drawbacks. 

 Yes, those are two baby opossums. And yes, they appear to live in the window well next to my desk. 

Yes, those are two baby opossums. And yes, they appear to live in the window well next to my desk. 

What will the next few weeks hold? Will I call animal control to have the vermin removed, or will I learn to love my marsupial friends? Will Bill have to take a night shift position at the local gas station to pay for our new water heater? Do the stove top and dishwasher malfunctions mean that I win the contest for most-prioritized major renovation project?

The Honeymoon Is Over

We had a leak in the attic, which the special oh-so-highly-recommended roofer evaluated. He gave us a $4,000 quote to fix the roof. And then we realized that there was no leak at all (just a stain from where something had been spilled a long time ago), and that the proposed solution was for a non-existent problem.

Cue Jennifer's angry glare.

Late last week I discovered that the garbage disposal is leaking. At first I thought it was only when I let it get overloaded, or when water pooled up into the sink, but further inspection showed that it's basically dripping whenever we run the faucet.


Then I noticed that the hot water heater in The Basement of Doom was leaking all over the basement floor. We had planned to upgrade to a tank-less hot water heater, but that process can be expensive (like, thousands of dollars expensive) so we were hoping to wait a bit before implementing it. 

Geez, this is getting ridiculous.

The plumber comes on Monday morning, and I'm gritting my teeth in preparation for the price estimates. Suddenly, the big renovation plans seem very far away. Instead, the realities of owning a gigantic old house are looming up and I see our careful nest egg for home improvements going in drips and drabs and all-too-often large checks towards stupid maintenance stuff. 

Good-bye, grandiose plans. Sniffle.

Bill wonders why I've proclaimed that we will not be using the air conditioner until after July 4th. 


Cleaning a Manor

When we quadrupled the size of our home, we also quadrupled the amount of cleaning that had to be done. 

No thank you.

Fortunately, the lower cost of living here means that we have the budget to get some professional help. It's still so bizarre to me that we can get things at a fraction of the cost of the "usual" price -- but I will definitely take what I can get.

 That's a lot of spindles to dust.

That's a lot of spindles to dust.

The cleaning team came yesterday and it was marvelous. At least until today, when we tracked snow and mud all over the hardwood floors.

I fear this is a losing battle.

At least the tumbleweeds of dog hair have been vanquished, the bathrooms are shiny, and new sheets are on the bed. Tonight I will enjoy a spotless kitchen and spend some time looking for the perfect mat to sit just inside the front door.