Friday, December 14, 2012


Hello Friends.

Um, excuse me?  Have you seen the October and November?  I seem to have missed them.  No actually, I think I was there, just hanging on for dear life!  :)   Somehow we have made it to December (and after having started this a week ago, its now almost mid-December).

We had a wonderful late fall with family and close friends.  We started early Oct with a trip to MN to see Husbands grandmother who turned 99 in late Oct.  99 people!  That is amazing, she is amazing.  She needs a walker and some repeating of things, otherwise she is sharp as a tack.  We make this trip once a year and have a lovely time doing it.  I am certain we will be planning a 100th party for next Oct and frankly, I cannot wait!

We ended the month with several dinners with friends and Halloween celebrations.  J was a magician.  He wanted to be a ninja with a huge sword.  But the costume was $35 at Tar.get and I hated it.  Took him to Good.will as I discovered they have a huge Halloween selection to choose from.  We ended up finding a top hat, white gloves, and a cape.  He bought it, hook line and sinker.  We added a tuxedo shirt and bowtie from a dance recital past.  Then he and Husband made his wand (family bonding anyone?)  We found a small rabbit and put it in the hat for a trick - HE LOVED IT!   Hard part is we live in WI and it was cold.  So the whole look has to be pulled off with a winter coat.  It worked.   Z was Elmo and he was cute.

November flew by.  Thanksgiving was early and it totally threw me off. My sister works for the corporate office of  large department store chain.  Every year they hire coach buses and take a group to Chicago for a day of shopping.  My mom, sister and I went last year and decided to make it a tradition. We had soooo much fun and it was 70 degrees.  People, it was 70 degrees on November 10 in Chicago!  Unheard of!  But it made for a super pleasant day walking around!  Found a few things, had a great lunch, visited a bunch.

The next weekend we went to a waterpark resort in the Wisconsin Dells with 3 other families. We had a wonderful time.  7 adults, 9 kids ranging in age from 11 to 1!  The other families have done it before and we got included this year.  So much fun!  Already planning for next year!  A little hard with Z, he wasn't so sure about all the noise and the water....I didn't get to go on many waterslides, but I had fun splashing with him.  J and Husband even did an indoor ropes course!

Days later, Thanksgiving was upon us.  We drove to Sturgeon Bay, WI (Door County) to spend it with my aunt who was widowed just over a year ago and had to work the day after.  We didn't want her to be alone so we (mom, dad, sister, mother in law, and us) descended upon her and had a lovely meal. I thought that on Saturday of that weekend, we were headed to my girlfriends house for a couples only dinner.  The 3 girls go out a lot and leave the boys home with the kiddos so that sounded fun. wasn't a cozy dinner for 6.  It was a surprise party for my upcoming (gulp) 40th birthday!  I had a wonderful time and was truly surprised with many more friends.  My husbands gift was: the next morning, my parents, sister, his mom and Jackson drove to Chicago to have brunch at Table 54.  Art Smith is one of the chefs on our bucket list.   HOLY COW PEOPLE the food was amazing. My dad kept saying he didn't understand why Husband wanted to to all the way to Chicago for food....until he had pancakes he is still talking about! Seriously!  We did a little city wandering, and stopped by Millennium Park - many of our family had not seen " the Bean."  It was another mild day in the city and again we had a wonderful time.

Now we are just hanging on for the holiday.  Christmas pics taken, cards picked up, not mailed yet.  Most of the shopping is done, Christmas cookies baked (fun baking day with mom and sister), Sugar cookies decorated with J, trees mostly up. I have officially turned 40....(Husband and I took day off of work and we went to another fancy restaurant, french food, way too much of it.)  and I survived.  I just don't feel 40.  I distinctly remember my dad turning 40 and the party we threw with all the black over the hill stuff.  I remember thinking, wow is he old!  Now I'm 40 and I am not old!   I cant be, I have an almost 2 year old.  I cannot be old.

OK  - this post has become a novel - I'm sorry.  You can see that we have been super busy.  I hope all is well with all of you.  If I don't get to post again before the holidays, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Catchup

Hello Friends,

So where did I leave off with our life?  I think we were mid- August.   (How in the heck is it Oct 16th????sigh.........)

Our Peru friends left, with great sadness from all of us and 4 days later we headed north to hang out by the lake for a few days.  It was wonderful, very cool for August in WI but we managed to swim/play in water a bit for both days.  Z sat in the stones and dug, waded in the water and climbed all over that paddle boat when it was beached.  He did great.  The campfire made me a little nervous but we managed.
 J- he loves it up there.  For the most part there were no electronics, computers, or cable TV (except in the morning when it was 42 degrees out!  brrrrrrr).  This grin and hairstyle are compliments of driving the jetski with his daddy.
 This was our playground for the weekend.  I took this pic from the deck.  Its about 10 steps to the fire and 15 more to the lake; perfect for just hanging out.  It was good.

The weekend after the cabin, Z started a round of the stomach flu in our house.  He threw up several times on Saturday (I was out with girlfriends when it started so Husband go the brunt of it).  We were a little worried that he had hit his head earlier in the day but by Tuesday night J had it and by Wed the sitter had it.  Thurs took down the sitters husband and Thursday night Husband was down.  It was a fast and furious ailment, in 2 hours you could go from being fine, to tossing your cookies for about 4 hours.  Then you were just wiped out for another day.  We are supposed to leave for my mother-in-laws property on Fri night to spend the weekend with family and cousins.  At that point, I was the only one who hadn't gotten it.  I did the math - if I got it, I was gonna be sick in a camper with 10 other people and not able to get home on Sunday.    That did not sound fun and we didn't want to share our yukkiness, so we cancelled and stayed home.  To soften the blow for J, who adores time with his cousins, I took the boys to the zoo on Saturday to see the dinosaur exhibit (super cool) and walk around a bit.  On Sunday, I went to church and had a normal day, felt a little bad that we missed the weekend away and I was fine but.....on Monday I awoke to stomach issues.  I never threw up, but at one point I asked Husband if I would feel better if I did.  He said no, so I didn't.  I watched sooooo much TV on Monday and Tuesday I totally caught up on my DVR.  Pathetic, but I had no energy for anything else.

Tuesday was also the first day of 2nd Grade for J!  Holy Cow, I have a 2nd grader!  They have assignment notebooks and even change classrooms once a day to go to reading and literacy.  I don't remember changing classrooms for that stuff till maybe 3rd grade, definitely 4th.  Its crazy and he is doing great.  The transition to 2nd has been so much easier than into 1st.  Something has clicked with his reading and he is going to town!   Math is easy as ever for him and he loves Art and gym class. I am so happy for him.

J has also started back to tap class and tae kwon do and is doing very well at both.  We have been trying to teach him to ride his bike with out training wheels, but its hard and we don't have available time to be consistent with it.  My parents have even dangled a new bike in front of him if he learns to ride his old one......not sure he cares....

Little Z, my sweet little Z.  What can we say about him.  He is a fun, frustrating, amazing, trying little person! He is slowly gaining words.  If you listen and know what hes saying he says Brother (for J), Sponge Bob (eye roll - I hate it and I guess its on at the sitters), More, Ball, and babbles incessantly.  He has also taken to making noises like EH!and angry faces at you when he is angry or displeased.  That seems to be all the time lately.  I have implemented corner time, to calm him down and let him know that mommy is displeased too.  I  put him in the corner and gently hold his head there and count to 10.  I need to get a pic though because he holds both hand up over his head on either wall and his head is tucked into the corner. Its hilarious.  Frustrating and hilarious.  The Birth to Three social worker called and sent over an evaluation form to see if we need to evaluate him further for speech delay.  I had to have him accomplish many things and note it on this 4 page questionnaire.  He was at the top for Gross and Fine Motor skills, following directions and pointing to body parts and just in the gray area for his communication.  I am awaiting a call back from her, but I expect that we will have some exercises to do with him for a bit and then reevaluate.   But I am feeling better about the speech thing overall.

So, since tiny baby on, Z did not like to cuddle or snuggle, he just needed to be put in bed and he would cry it out for a few min or just roll over and go to sleep.  If you tried to snuggle him, he would tolerate for a min or so and would actually reach for his crib.  I was always proud about how easy I could put him down....until Sunday night.  He cried and wailed himself into the hiccups and just wanted to be snuggled.   Now I love the snuggles, I am happy to give them and rocked him to sleep on Sunday night, but was afraid that we were starting something bad at bedtime.  We changed nothing as far as routine and again, last night it took until 10 to get him to sleep and it was only with major snuggles and staying with him.    Husband didn't help at all in that I tried to just let him cry himself out (I hate it but ....) and he went in there and rocked him and then when he couldn't get him to go down, brought him out to me in the family room, TWICE.  At which point the little schiester, grins at me from around his two fingers and reaches for a snuggle with me!  Arrrrgh, back to frickin square one.  So today, I am tired, frustrated with everyone and tired.....He EH'd at me all morning, fought me when I got him dressed and fussed in the car seat.  Today, I was thankful for our sitter and that I had to get to work.

Last but not least, I have been called on for an emergency long term/part time sub at the dance studio.  They had hired a new tap teacher who failed to show up on the first day of classes without calling, answering phone or text or email (classy hey?) so they called to see if I could help.  I could.  I went.  It was fun!   Lots of fun!  So I did 2 weeks, then I couldn't for 2 weeks because of prior commitments.  I taught last week and will again tonight, but cannot next week. I think they are close to hiring a new  permanent teacher but I can continue like this for a bit.  Its like dipping my toe in the pool, enjoying it a bit, but I don't actually have to jump in!  I sorta suspect that I will teach again next year......

I have to run now.  Besides this is almost an obnoxiously long post.  I need to remember that posting makes me feel good.  I love reading other peoples posts and seeing that I am not the only one out there with "stuff," that life is not always magical with children and that I'm not the only other one who is tired!

Have a great day friends.  May life be good to you all.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer 2012

Oh my friends, I actually thought out loud that I was doing so well posting at least once a month....I said that in April....its now, gulp, August.  No posts from me.  Faithfully reading, occasionally commenting, but not writing.

Things are our house are crazy busy as usual.  Summer is fun.  I love all the activities, I even like the heat (as long as I have AC to retreat to). Summer is tiring, this is a tired mama posting today.

Since last update whats new?  Well, we rode our gerbil wheel of life out till the end of school.  J finished 1st grade, lost a tooth on the last day of school and another a week later.  We have had a toothless wonder this summer - fun to watch him eat corn on the cob!  J immediately plunged into summer activities.  He does 2 field trips a week with his daycare and the other days are spent at the sitter where Z goes.  She has a pool and an Xbox and other kids he has known since he was a baby.  In July, he also got to spend 5 days with his cousins in IL, 4 kids aged 15-9.  He is 7.5 and they love him and he them; he had a blast.  So in short, J is tan, blonder than ever and having a great time this summer.

We have swimming lessons once a week at the local Y (we are not members but their lessons are great and its only a few extra $)- the rest of us swim in the family pool, it has zero entry and a baby slide for Z, during his lesson and stay for a bit after.  It makes for a late night but its fun and swimming lessons at our house are non-negotiable.  We skip other activities in the summer for swimming lessons as it is a skill that my children, all children NEED to have.  I cant wait to put Z in next summer, he has no fear in the water and its frightening.  He walks into that zero entry pool right up to his lips and wont hold hands without throwing a fit (see screeching below).

Speaking of my little Z, he is independent and getting into everything.  He is following simple instructions and is just generally a fun little guy.  HOWEVER, according to Dr S (pediatrician), he is slightly delayed in his speech.  He will look at you and babble with intensity and facial expression, so he is saying something in his head that makes perfect sense - just not to us.  This is so weird for me because J was talking right on track maybe even a little early and then zoomed ahead with huge words like "actually" and small sentences.  Z, at 18 months, has about 4 words (Dr Goo-gle says 50 is average). Holy crud, when you hear it like that, he is really behind right?  Then I remember he was an early walker - he was very concentrated on the mobility thing since he was 5 months old.  So maybe he isn't behind, he just did it in the wrong order.  I also have lots of people saying "my daughter didn't talk till she was 3 and she is just fine"  - seriously, I cant do this for another 18 mos. He needs to learn to talk.  This lack of communication is compounded by his frustration at not being able to tell us what he wants has led to an escalation of screeching - sometimes for attention and most times in utter frustration.  In church and in public are the most fun displays of screeching - Dr advice, ignore it and it will stop.  So don't I look awesome in the middle of the grocery store with a screeching Z in the cart and Im not supposed to look.  My gut is to leave the store but we need things there like milk and dinner.....  Dr S gave us 4 weeks for him to show us 2 new words, if he doesn't then we go for hearing test, and start down the road to a speech therapist.  So, now we are paying close attention, and he has figured out how to nod yes and shake his head for no, but has now stopped some of his other sounds.  I used to say "would you like more?" and he would smile and say "mohr" soft on the r sound but it was there.  Now he smiles and nods.....its not a word, but it is communicating so I think I will take it.  Sigh.

This last 4 weeks of summer is going to go super fast.  This week a family my dad met and befriended while working in Peru, South America are here to visit.  They have an 8 yr old boy and  7 yr old girl.  We are doing tons of WI type, kid friendly activities.  J gets to go along for the daytime stuff while Z stays at the sitter and Husband and I work.  Until Friday, my mom is staying with Z and the rest of us are boarding an Am.trak train to Chicago for the day.  Cant wait! This is such a great experience for us all, we all have a slight language barrier; they speak broken English, their kids speak some English, my dad speaks some Spanish, and my sister understands some Spanish....the rest of us, not so much.  We got to meet them on Skype before they came and now I hope we can keep that up.

The Peru family leaves on Sunday and on Thursday, we leave for a long weekend at a friends cabin.  A short, HA, 6+ hour drive away.  I'm not sure I will be ready to go, oh well.  There is a in town, if I forget anything right?  It will be nice to sit by the lake and the campfire and just chill.  Well as much as I can with 4 kids 7.5yr-18 mos near the water, fishing, playing etc.... :)  But we can get away as a family with close friends.  Its an annual trip that we look forward to very much.

The following weekend is open so far, the next is Labor day already and we are headed out to Husbands moms property for 2 nights with the cousins etc, then we come home for the Monday off and J starts 2nd grade on Tues.  2nd grade?  Holy Crud!

Ok, I really have to go now.  I think I hit all the main points.  I'm sure there is more and I'm hoping to post more on the rest of our summer adventures.

I hope all is well with you and summer is treating you well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Hello Friends.  I am going to apologize in advance.  This may not be the funnest of posts to read. It may not even be well organized thoughts, I just have to get it out there. 

I'm overweight. 

I am.  I don't consider myself fat.  I don't look like those scary people waddling down the street. I don't have to wear a tent or a mu-mu, as a matter of fact, I wear around a 14-16 depending on the style and the fabric.  I don't think that's atrocious. My norm used to be about a 12..... I do have a bit of a tummy pouch flap where my 9lb and almost 9lb babies grew.  I'm obese on the BMI chart,  have been for a few years.  Really, obese?  hmmmmm.  I don't think so...most people don't think so. But something has to change.  

We need a plan at our house.  A plan to eat better.  Because I am in a funk.  The thought of this is mind numbing.  I'm not sure I can take on one more thing.  It might push me right over the edge.  But by not doing anything, I'm in a funk and it sucks.  Not necessarily gaining just not losing.  Just hanging out at this weight creeping up a pound here dropping a pound there.  Nothing fits quite know the drill.  Husband says it doesn't matter.  I don't think it does, he has never shown a decreased interest.  But then again, how could it not?  I care....and then I get tired and then I just don't......and then I eat an Oreo, or 4.  Ugh!  

I need to start somewhere.  I'm contemplating Weight Watchers online but it costs $......I'd rather hire a cleaning lady to alleviate some other stress....

I like food.  I like good food.  Husband cooks good food.   I love chocolate.  A lot. I eat it every day.  Probably not  the main reason for all this but a contributing factor of course. I wish I didn't enjoy it all soo much.

I have written before about our time management struggles.  We are hanging in there.  I quit teaching dance because it was not fitting into our current life and I knew my daytime job was going to intensify.  And it has.  I come home at night with enough energy to play with, feed, bathe, and put my boys to bed. But that's about it.    I leave the cooking to Husband or we wouldn't eat until 10 every night.   He likes to cook good food, serves it up in huge portions and by 8:30 at night, I'm hungry and tired and I just eat it. Yes I am a proud member of the clean plate club...UGH

Not sure how to wrap this up.  Its not pretty. Its not fun.  Its just...... UGH!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Early Spring

Hello Friends,

I cannot believe how long it has been since I posted.  We have been super busy and and yet status quo all at the same time.  The weather in Wisconsin has been unbelievably, unseasonably warm -around 80 for several days now.  We have been playing outside- a lot.  Husband has been grilling out just about anything he can think of and its yummy.  This is March in Wisconsin people!  This is weird!  And I love it. I am a bit afraid that it will snow again, because this is just too good to be true, but in the meantime I am happily going out of the house in the morning with only a light jacket and coming home with out one.

Here are a few pics from the first evening we were able to play outside - about a week ago now.  It seemed so nice that day but it was only about 65. (hahaha that sounds so funny.)

As many of you know, my dad has horses and is very generous with sharing them.  One of them is much older and in the last two years had some knee issues so we stopped asking him to support adult weight but he is perfect for a small boy eager to learn, so he became J's horse.  J was introduced to Bear when he was very young, 18 months I think. Here is my favorite pic from one of their first meetings.  

J's first ride - 2006.
One of J's last rides - Sept 2011

On St Patrick's day Bear was not eating and seemed lethargic on Saturday so the vet was called.  It was determined that the 29 year old, former champion roping horse was in heart failure.  My dad has always said he animals will never suffer so Bear was euthanized.  And then, on Sunday morning, I had to tell J that his beautiful, amazing, horse had to go to Heaven.  He cried immediately, then settled down and I explained a bit more about his heart and that we didn't want him to suffer.  He had more tears, with beautiful innocent statements like, "he was so special, I want my Bear back.  I know I can ride Cinnamon mom, but there won't ever be another horse as good as him"   I think my heart broke a bit.  Because he is right, and his sadness is so pure.   

To give you an idea of how great he was, a friend of my dads wrote this in an email: "I've worked with lots of horses over the years but there will only be one Bear.  He surely was a wonderful animal and gently introduced lots of people to the world of horsemanship.  How could you ask more from a good horse who always did his job?  He became a family treasure and I know you will all miss him."  My dad put on Facebook, "Bear had many good qualities like patience, obedience, and gentleness. That is what distinguished him and made him so special. He was the one horse that I could confidently put my 5 year old grandson on and be reasonably sure that everything would go well. That is saying a lot!"

Enjoy the ride in the sky, Bear.  You are already missed!

Now, anyone want to take bets on how fast my dad buys a new kid friendly horse?    He really enjoyed riding with J and sharing that love of horsemanship with him.  I would be shocked if we get to winter and the horse count is not back up to 3! Fine with me! Its time to introduce Z to the sport.

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Growing - Turning One!

Baby Z turned 1 on January 20th!  (I guess I cant call him Baby Z any more......sad.)  And just like his big brother, he had an ear infection on his first birthday.  (insert sad face) He had come down  with pink eye on the week previous to his birthday and the cold that started that, ended up gifting him with an ear infection diagnosed on the 19th.  Thankfully, he didnt seem in pain, and was still a happy busy little guy.  He was just super stuffy and started refusing to eat.

J didn't have school on the 20th so Husband and I also took the day off.  We have always taken J's birthday off as it is so close to the New Year Holiday so we will see how it works out to take Z's day too. We spent the morning being lazy and then did a whole lot of food shopping for a birthday party for our close friends to celebrate with both the boys.  My mom and dad met us for dinner at Fam.ous D.aves (Z didn't pick, I did!)  and we went back to the house where we gave him a mini cupcake. I saved the big cake for the party the next day.

Last but not least, Z had his 12 month appointment last night.   Poor baby, he got immunizations in both arms and one leg, then I had to take him to the lab and they took 2 vials of blood!  He didn't like it very much but was a trooper.  Slept through the night didn't need any Tylenol last night.  This morning however, I laid him on the floor outside the bathroom with a bottle when I was getting ready and when he rolled over and pushed up to sitting, he burst out crying.  I think his arms really hurt.  He looked at me like "What the hell mom?"  with a big sad face.  I scooped him up and gave the meds right away. I hope his day gets better at the sitters.  Its not easy being 1!

Growing - Turning Seven!

J has turned 7!  He had his birthday on January 2.   I cannot believe how grown up he can be one moment and then need a snuggle and mommy time the next.  I am proud of his sensitivity and how much he loves his brother. I cannot believe he has been on this earth 7 whole years!  We spent a lovely lazy day at home as it was a holiday from work.  We periodically gave him a present and he played with it or used it for awhile, sometimes for several hours and then we would give him another. it was fun to spread it out not just give gifts at dinner and send him to bed. He asked to go to's for his dinner and they put the largest ice cream sunday I have seen in awhile in front of him! He was in heaven and it was a nice finish to the day.

About J and school:  I have written before about J and his struggling a bit in school.  I have late diagnosed (not till college) learning challenges myself.  Thankfully I made it through schooling but I do have some self esteem issues that stem directly from that.  My sister has a form of dyslexia and struggled with things.  She too made it through schooling but it was not easy.  I am super afraid J will have this.  I don't want school to be hard or him to struggle. I also do not want to put ideas into teachers heads so I am careful about bringing my concerns to the table.  So. They are starting a new math program in the 1st grade and he came home SUPER disappointed when he didn't pass into the program because he couldn't write 25 randomly given numbers in 1 minute. For Gods sake the boy can do multiplication in his head in first grade!  There must be something wrong that he can't pass that test, right?  So I spent most of that night in tears.  Worried about him, worried about how to help him, worried about labeling him, feeling mommy guilt for a myriad of things.    So after a long email to the teacher and a heartfelt telephone conference, she does not see any of my fears. It's too early for dyslexia diagnosis as he is not a confidant reader yet and his errors could just be new reader errors.  The math program, I got the feeling she doesnt agree with it for first graders butshe is doing her job.  She is going to try to find him a 5th grade study buddy who can come and read with him and practice math facts at the end of every day.  We have resolved to try and do math and reading drills every night as well.  Sometimes this parenting thing is hard on the heart.

I have mentioned before we are blessed with many close friends who adore our boys and want to celebratewith them.  This group totals about 12 adults and 11 kids, add that to our 2 adults and 2 kiddos and we have a seriously full house.  Our house is not that big and in the past we were in an even tinier apartment, so we have always separated the groups and did 2 gathering but that's a lot of work and J is of the age now that he wanted to do a party at a place for some school friends too.  So, he invited 6 kids from school and daycare to join the oldest children of that group of friends for some indoor rock climbing.  Then the school friends went home and the other friends and the rest of the families descended upon our home to celebrate Z and J together.  We served a taco/nacho bar and plenty of cake. It was close quarters and we have to come up with a better eating place for the kids but it wasn't as bad as Husband had feared. It was great fun and it was over in one long day.

It also spurred us to get our house cleaned/tidied up.  I actually had some dedicated time and got J's room tidied up. Its been a disaster since September and I just haven't gotten to it. It was one of the things weighing on my mind. It looks so nice to be able to walk into his room and it feels good not worry about Z getting something unsafe to chew on!  My parents had given J a new comforter set for his bed to graduate from Thomas the Train.  He is so loving it and his room looks much older now.  We are also going to repaint his room in some cool bold colors, we need to pick a weekend to do this and we need my parents help but we are looking forward to that too. I will keep you posted on this progress I promise.

Catch up - personally

Hello Friends,

Well, I have come to the conclusion that I am a terrible blogger.  I am an avid reader and keep up fairly regularly with all whom I follow.  I just don't always know what to say on my own blog.  I am sort of on the gerbil wheel of life; running from one day into the next.  Sometimes, totally prepared and on top of it, more often hanging on by a thread. I don't want to be a complainer, and often it is the same old same old.  I am just sometimes overwhelmed (see previous posts for reference) so I default to not writing.

So lets try to catch up shall we?  So much has been going on at our house and in our hearts, I will do this over a few posts because it became a novel.

There has been major upheaval at work. Some of it has been brewing since my review in June but I was not allowed to say anything to anyone.  I couldn't even tell my best friend E because her brother works here.  Some of it was way beyond what I expected.  This has all resulted in Husbands job feeling kind of precarious, several people losing their jobs and at the same time I was promoted to General Manager.  Talk about conflicted feelings.  We are only 26 days into this new stuff and it seems to be settling down but I am t-i-r-e-d when we get home. Its a relief for it to be out in the open, its stressful that its has come about this way, and its a huge culture change for me and the whole company.

I also think I am going to take some sage advice and hire a cleaning lady once or twice a month.  I don't want to worry about the cleaning and I can handle the tidying up.  The time is now because there is some extra salary coming my way and its not spoken for in the budget yet.  So I am going to speak for it and send it to someone.  Now to find a free moment to find and hire one........