So, does life ever throw curves at you that could have been avoided if FATE had not nudged things?

- A week or two ago I was on my way to work and felt the pull to stop for a cuppa joe.  I was running late, but...  ok, I have time.  Pulled into my favorite coffee shop and got my cuppa.  Back on the road and a few minutes later I see a certain, very recognizable, car.  My girlfriend!  She had changed lanes in front of me, but she didn't know it was me.  I flashed my high beams, saw her glance in her mirror, I waved & she waved back!  She turned on her signal to pull into a gas station.  I followed suit - always time in life for this! Peg hopped out of her car, came running over and gave me a big Merry Christmas hug.  What a way to start the day.  We chatted a bit and headed our separate ways.  Hope Peg had a great day!  If I had not stopped for coffee, would not have seen her.

- Yesterday I was not going to stop for coffee.  I drove past the exit for my usual coffee.  Something told me to go back and get coffee. Why?? (does anyone else talk to themselves like that?) I can survive without....  I turned around and went back.  There, in the coffee shop getting her morning cup of tea so that she could face a big day ahead was a friend and lady I had been thinking of that very morning.  We chatted for a bit and went our separate ways.  Hope Barb had a great day!  If I had not stopped, would not have seen her.

- This morning I was bound and determined to get that Chuck Roast that I had been intending to fix for dinner the last 4 days!!  So, I stayed home, sauteed the vege's, seared the meat, scraped up the goodness and set it up to simmer all day in the dutch oven.  I am leaving an hour later than usual.  
Then I WAS going to stop for coffee.  I DID stop for coffee, however the coffee I wanted was not brewed.  It would be 4 min, could I wait?  or did I want my old standby?  I would WAIT.  Why did I do that??  I left the coffee shop and drove on my merry way.
At a traffic signal in town I was directly behind a Subaru (we had the green) that was t'd by an oncoming car turning left.  I saw it unfolding, saw the Subaru swerve to the right to give the car more time to "see" her & avoid, no such luck.  Struck and pushed into another car sitting at the cross-road red light.  I stopped traffic behind me with my hazard lights.  Waited for things to settle down then parked my car out of the way & walked over to the driver of the Subaru.  She was upset, her eyes were wide, there was a little of that "what just happened".  She said "I tried to avoid him, I tried".  I held her hand, we talked a bit, it was just an accident, she soon calmed down and gave me a big hug and thank you! Then was ready to start the paperwork when the police arrived.  I gave her my business card as a witness to the accident.  She was NOT going to give it up to the officer.  So I gave a second one to him, & gave him my take on what happened.  Her Subaru is in bad shape, it did not drive away from that hit.  I did not get her name, but I hope her day got better from this morning!  If I had not stopped for coffee, would not have been there for her.

I hit a solid plateau.  Sept, Oct, & Nov hung at the same weight.  Am so frustrated and tired that I stopped tracking what I was eating.  Got busy with work, however still made time every day to walk at lunch.  Not gaining weight, just not tracking and not loosing. 

Time to rededicate.  Sweetie got me a FITBIT One for (early) Christmas.  I LIKE IT.  Have been using for 1 week now and it does a great job of tracking my activity level.  Steps, stairs, miles, sleep, all of it!

Have to MAKE time to be good to myself and track those calories.  

- These DDD's don't run.  OK, then what can I do?  
- 2 friends have now had some sort of bariatric procedure done and are loosing weight with it.  That is not for me, seems too drastic.
- Thanksgiving at families and ate a TON.  I did not skimp on the bacon for breakfast nor the potatoes and stuffing with dinner.  Sweetie and I took a nice long walk - almost 3 miles before dinner.  I was so stuffed after that I could not move an inch.    Didn't gain.  hmmmm.
 - Christmas time and I have made two batch's of cookies so far.  Enjoying baking, enjoying eating what I bake, still loosing weight.  This ain't so bad!  I ate ONE cookie, not SIX - that is the difference,
- A girlfriend paid me a compliment on FB.  She mentioned that she drove by the house today and only saw 1/2 of me!!  :-)  Am not that far along, but I will accept that she saw 3/4 of me!!  HAH
I have suffered with exhaustion for a few years now.  Visited the doc, because that is what you are supposed to do, right??  Took a history and had a blood work up, nothing wrong there....

Sleep study done and they said that I was waking up from REM (sleep hypopnea) but does not appear to be related to interrupted breathing (apnea).  However they prescribed me a breathing machine anyway because that was probably it....  You know, because you are fat and that's usually the problem.  Huh??  OK....  I suppose...

I bought the machine.  Tried it - didn't help.   A friend told me "oh yea, you will notice immediately".  Nope, not getting anything from this.  Changed mask - didn't help.  Changed the style of the mask, changed the size, changed the fit - nope.  Changed settings on the  machine, increased the pressure, decreased the pressure - didn't help.  Changed, changed, changed.  2 years, ya know what??  
Apparently it's not a FLIPPING breathing problem!!

Visited more docs, consulted specialists, was poked and prodded, had tests done, scopes, and scans.  Nope, nothing wrong we can find.

So, I sat myself down with my best doctor - myself.  I did some research online.  I read and reviewed the notes that I keep about therapies that were tried.  Read and thought about how I felt, when, and why.  

And something occurred to me.  I have aches and pains.  yup - don't most folks as they age and have USED their body??  
 - I have an old injury to my shoulder that surgery made 90% better, but it's not 100%.  It hurts, it pangs, and when I lean or lay on it??  It really hurts.  
 - I have bursitis in my hip.  yup, a repetition problem that pains me sometimes.  The doc recommends that I sleep with a pillow between my knees.
(btw - YES my primary doc knows about these & more)

Wonder, perhaps, just maybe, these aches and pains are waking me up at night?  Perhaps, just as I fall into my most relaxed REM, something decides that it's a good time to PANG, waking me up?  hmmmm, maybe.

So what can I do to check this theory?  An ache's & pain killer would seem to be appropriate??  Not just any pain killer though - one that won't keep you awake as some can (ya that would help), or become "used" to so the effectiveness wears off.  That night I took one, low dose, acetaminophen.  


That night I slept, dreamed and remembered that I dreamed   I NEVER remember my dreams except when I am sleeping hard and feel really rested in the morning.  Rested is not the word for how I felt in the morning.  

I felt AWAKE.  

Now, maybe this was a fluke.  Have had the occasional night of rest...  Tried it again the next night with similar results.  and again.  Hmmph.  I think I need to visit my doc and have a chat....

The basement improvement project that I started 3 years ago while unemployed.  Framed a couple walls - like below the stairs to make a closet then another around the laundry equipment to make a closet. The end of the room with all the utilities, yup, built a wall and added shelving!!  Made it 90% then was re-employed.  Over time have completed some of the other items. Now, JUST need to paint!!!  

Seriously, how hard is it to PAINT THESE WALLS? Oh, I need supplies.  No, everything you need is already here including primer. Well, because stuff is in the way, I would have to move stuff out of the way to paint. How hard is it to MOVE THE STUFF?  Well, you know, rather than moving it from place to place I should just get rid of it!  It's just stuff after all & I don't really need most of it. How hard is it to GET RID OF STUFF??  Oh, ya, that is hard. Well, I could Freecycle some and some is bound to be trash..  Noticing a trend here??  Yup, it's still not done.

Then there are the hooks bought for the wall of the pantry. Grout Sealer for the shower. The motion sensor light for the hall closet to hang. Replacement ceiling fan for the bedroom. The Condensate Pump replacement for the furnace. The list is so long that I can't even write it down.  I can't, it's just... so... hard....  

{{Sigh}} - I have to get busy on these projects. tata for now!

I have lost 35 pounds, it has taken me 35 weeks.  I have a long way to go but it took me years to get here so I am dedicated to taking years to correct it.  I am in this for the LONG haul.  Be aware - it has AVERAGED out to 1 pound a week, but it has not BEEN 1 pound a week.  Not by a long shot.

My first big idea were to just plain TRACK what I ate. 
Notebook, but wouldn't carry it with me and would forget the details when I sat down to write.
Apps on the pocket computer and liked what they did, but didn't want to be pulling out the phone all the time.  They didn't always have the food I was eating in their log.  
Stopped tracking, started again, stopped again, started again.... After this sputter and restart of tracking (and I LOST WEIGHT while tracking) I decided that I would make an App work, and I would take it out at the breakfast table and at lunch, and in the evening, and log what I ate.  And I did, for a few weeks.  Then I looked closely at what I was actually eating. I settled on LOSEIT for the app - it has Android, Ipod, & Internet access synced.

I know, I know (and have always known) that soda is not helping any but I just could not give it up.  It's only one after all!!  After tracking for awhile and I realized just how many calories and therefor pounds that ONE SODA a day was adding?  Well, there is an open bottle of soda in the fridge that has not been touched in a week or two.  I hope it is bad - but I am just leaving it there!  I don't feel like I have "willpower" - but I open the fridge door and there is Iced Tea, Iced coffee, Milk, Cold & filtered water, 100% Grape Juice, 100% Grapefruit Juice, and that soda.  Which will I pick.  Not that soda, not today, I will save it for tomorrow!  :-)  I just placed a whole bunch of better options in front of it.

I switched to a smaller plate.  That is - I allowed myself to load it up & pile it high, but one plate and the smaller one, not the DINNER plate.

Weekly I will have about 1 pound of salad.  Spinach, carrots, radishes, onions, broccoli, oh my!  I gave up dressing a long time ago.  If I really want some dressing??  I get one true tablespoon of sour cream or guacamole!  If I eat this around 2 or 3 PM, with all that fiber I am good until bed time!

Primarily walking.  When I started - I could feel the endorphin rush from just a 1 mile/30 min walk.  That's how bad I was.  Now, 35 weeks later, it is disappointing when I don't feel anything! Not just endorphin's, but no aches, or tingle, or tired.  PLUS I don't see a budge of the scale the next morning.  Recently walked with the Husky over 4 miles.  We maintained a solid 3mph pace, per MapMyFitness app. I did not feel anything in the legs or arms, not tired nor out of breath (at the end, was walking with friends and holding a conversation) AND the weight didn't budge until 2 days later.  So, I have reached a plateau with exercise - the walking is not enough anymore.  Running is not an option with 48DDD's.  So, gotta look at something else to kick it up a notch.

Oh and do I ever!!  One weekend, Saturday we had company here, sampled while cooking and laid out a feast.  Sunday went to a friends for a gathering, the dinner was lovely and perfect, it was the dessert and the aperitif that did me in.  Monday was a holiday, ya gotta celebrate with food, right??  The scale told me the truth and was up by 5 pounds Tuesday morning.  BUT, I don't want to give up social gatherings!!  I like cooking and I like hanging out with friends darn it.  On Tuesday, what are you going to do, say to HECK with it and give up??  I'm never going to loose it for the long term? It's too hard??
Nope.  If I blow it, I restart at the top of the hour.  One day I had a big candy bar and soda for "lunch"!!  AHHHHH  Instead of saying - puck it - I will restart on... Monday.  I logged that snickers bar and soda and  I reset at the top of the hour and had grilled vege's & steak for dinner.  I was over calories for the day, but it was behind me and not to be repeated, for at least a week.   

That has been hard to get used to and not get frustrated by.  I may have a really good week, but not see a drop for a few days.  Last week I had 4 days in a row where my calories were GOOD.  My exercise was maintained, but the scale didn't budge until 3 days later when it dropped by 3. 
I weigh every morning at the same time.  EVERY MORNING.  I know some say to only do it once a week or periodically, nope for me EVERY MORNING.  It's helps me to not forget that I am working on this.  It helps to set my attitude for the day that this Weight Correction concept is a good one, it is important to me, I will keep at it, and I will succeed.

I have one girlfriend using the same app and we are linked through it.  I know she is eating and exercising but is not always logging (hmm sounds familiar)  I have a group of friends in a FB group and we are all working it and posting occasionally.  On one of the apps I tried, had folks reach out to me to form a network and I was agreeable.  Then one lady sent me this really obnoxious message about "you never post" and "how would you ever expect to get anywhere if you won't contribute daily to the group"...  ya, OK, disconnected from that one and left that app in the dust!  LOL  Just recently have reached out to a few people on the app that I am using.  Would prefer to hook up with folks that are in a similar weight category but even if not, that's fine too.  So far, so good.  One comment prompted me to write this post - so good has come from it already.

Improve on the app!  I know that apps are a work in process.  Apps as a whole are just getting their sea legs under them.  There are three or four food items in the house that I use, but they are not in the database.  I have the packages sitting next to me and I am going to add them!!  So that I am not using a "close enough" anymore but the real thing.  I am also going to draft a review to let the developers know what works and does not work for me.

Research exercise!  Something I can do at home with no equipment and little time and yet improve on what I have been doing.  Or maybe I can add it to our walks.  It's hard to stop and change speed or direction with a herd of 4 dogs - they want to go!!!  A girlfriend has 2 recumbent bikes and she has asked if I would be interested in riding with her.  I said yes, but there has been no follow up.  I think I will follow up!
Spring was a wild ride.  It stopped with the cold weather back in March.  April, Mother Nature threw in JUST ENOUGH nights in the mid 30's to prevent me from planting my seedlings.  So, they continue to go out onto the porch every day that they can. End of April and only the really cold weather hardy plants are in the ground.  Could have had all of them in!

Summer wow - that was HUMID!!  Late June storm (Derecho) that caused power outages across the entire mid-Atlantic region.  Then the month of July was unbearably humid. I have only lived here a few years but the neighbors tell me that yes, this is an unusually humid summer.

Fall, already??  It is mid August and the heat is gone (knock on wood!)  Today is 75 and beautiful, the house is open and the dogs are outside to enjoy the day.  The temp has not gone below 60 over night yet, however my trees have already coated the yard in yellow leaves and I am seeing tinges of red in the canopy.

What do you think of Climate Change?
I have been working to be prepared.  What does that mean?  To me?  See my post last month!

We were subject to a 5 day power outage along with a million other people in the DC / Baltimore area due to a Derecho storm on June 29, 2012.  I love a good storm and this was up there with the best I have ever experienced.  I was watching out the window in a quiet room in order to enjoy the storm's strength.  Heard the "crash" out front of the house but was not going out to check on it until things calmed down.

The power went out, not unexpected up here. Turned off a few breakers to a few key components and we went to bed with the storm still in full swing.   It was beautiful.

The next morning checked things out.  A large tree of ours was across our fence & the road but did not damage the power lines.  With our chain saw and a neighbor's help, got the road cleared pretty quick.  Went to his house next and helped him clear his driveway of large branches.  The power is still out, so walked the street to check on the neighbors.  The elderly folks with medical issues have their generator running.  A few neighbors are headed to friends/family with power or to a hotel.  Most are staying put.  A block away, up toward the main power line, found a break.  Going down the hill, a neighbor had a large cherry tree uprooted in their yard and across their power lines.  More damages to the main line as you walked down the street.  OK, it may be a bit before they get to us w/ power.

This is not the first time we have lost power, so lets get to work and get set up.  Rather like when you are going camping, you first arrive and you assess the situation, find the facilities, then get to work and set up camp!

Best to start with making breakfast.  It's easier to work on a full stomach!  Fired up the grill and broke out the "outside" equipment. Put on a percolator of coffee.  Used the cast iron for bacon, eggs & hashbrowns on the grill.  

Setting up:

1) We are on a well, so no power means no water.  I have a few gallons set aside for times like this but will need to make arrangements for more in a day or two.  Start pulling out the gallon jugs for flushing toilets and distributing them to key locations.  Set up the jug of potable water (Amazon) next to the kitchen sink for refilling water bottles as they were consumed.  Each person keeps a reusable water bottle with them and fills it from the potable water jug.  I really hate wasting "disposable water bottles".  This way we don't have trash AND we don't have dishes.

2) The fridge and freezer are the only things we use the small generator for - it's not even big enough to run the well. Set up the generator and it starts easy because we keep it serviced. Our appliances hold their temps pretty well, so we just run the generator every couple of hours to cycle things and keep them cold.  Save on gas!

3) For lighting after dark we keep a stash of Solar Yard Lights like these (Amazon).  We bought ours at Target in the fall, when they were on clearance.  Put them in the sun to charge and place them around the home after dark and the corners will be lit up!! These will keep you and your kids from stumbling around. My favorite place is 2 or 3 to light up the stairs. If you have just one box of these (pack of 8 or 10) everyone will be so much happier.  Our daughter was very upset by not having light, just one of these calmed her greatly (and she is not normally afraid of the dark).

4) Have a few other solar charger type items, like this for the Cell Phones (Amazon).  You can't put this in the sun for an hour and then expect to get a full charge on your cell phone, but it works in a pinch. The phones & computers were charged from the generator when it is running, otherwise, have this for back up.

5) Because this was July it was hot and humid.  Fans like these (Amazon) helped us to keep cool! Sweetie found ours at K-Mart and thought it would work well.  Plugged in when we have electricity and battery when we are camping or otherwise out of power.  When the heat was at it's worst, we placed this to blow over a ice chest with some ice in it.  An old fashioned but effective form of Air Conditioning!  That and we stayed in the basement where it's always cooler.

For entertainment, there was always work to do, otherwise, we caught up on our reading and had some great conversations. Visited with the neighbors and had them over for meals.  Checked in that folks were doing OK. The elderly folks had their generator give out for a bit, so we helped them out until it could be serviced.

The local gas station was on generator to run their gas pumps. They didn't run out of gas, but then not everyone was out of power and living on generators. The grocery stores were tapped for food and were cleared out of several items - bottled water and soda. Ice was not available anywhere in the county.

A few blocks away still had power, so when the water jugs were getting low I headed over to a neighbor to refill. It was hit or miss as to who was out of power, our few streets just happened to take a hard hit and we were without power for 5 days almost to the hour.

Once power came back on there was a celebratory mood in the neighborhood. As folks were driving past my house on their way home, I called out to them that the power was back on!! Sweetie went down the street to let the elderly neighbors know that power had been restored and they could cut out the generator.

Over the next few days Sweetie and I reviewed what had worked and what did not. We cleaned up, put away equipment, serviced the generator and made ready for the next storm. Also made a shopping list for a few items that were needed/wanted and we did not have.  Mostly comfort items. So far, only one (a major purchase) has not been acquired.

What is this "preparedness"?  
What are "preppers"?  
Why would anyone need to "prepare"?  
Is it religious? Is it hype?  
There are TV shows about everything - Doomsday Preppers to Hoarders that could all be clumped under this category of NUTS!

Preparedness is for me, personally, to take responsibility for myself and my family.  To do and have whatever I can imagine I would need should something go wrong.  

My idea of realistic scenarios to be prepared for are:  Car Trouble, Hurricane, Storm damage, power outage, and long term unemployment.

Start with the every day, basic car trouble.  My trunk has a few things I consider essential.  We have two kids.  There are bottles of water that are rotated into the house regularly, favorite munchies, & toys - all to keep everyone occupied if I need to....  change a tire, or patch a radiator hose, or...  Oh & yes, I can do these things and more to keep my car on the road.

RL (Real Life) Example:  Driving home to LA from Vegas with kids in the car.  Have a serious blow out on a tire from metal on the road.  I can not get clear of the road by more then a foot and the trucks are flying by on I-15.  The flat is on the highway side of the car.  I am not getting out there to change it myself and I would rather not destroy the rim by driving on it.  When you are North of Barstow and South of Vegas - it takes awhile to get a truck or officer out there to provide traffic control.  
Had a good tank of gas to run the AC.  Water on board, games to distract the kids.  Orange triangle and the like to mark the car so that other vehicles would (hopefully) not hit it.  If a tow truck or officer had not been an option, I would have driven on the rim until I could get someplace clear and then changed the tire. 

RL (Real Life) Example: I struck a deer at high speed on a deserted 4-lane highway late at night. (no kids were with me)  The damage to my car was so bad that even the car battery was damaged and the hazard flashers were not going to last very long.  
Used the cell phone to call Sweetie, but reached his voicemail and left a message.  I knew he was home, just a matter of when he checked his phone.  
Then I called AAA.  Well, my phone battery died while I was on the phone with AAA - they had not yet figured out where I was located (no handy address was visible).  I can plug in the phone charger, but the car battery is fading fast.  This is not good....  wait, I have my Amateur Radio radio in the car (and my license).  If I can get someone else to make the phone calls with one contact - my hazard lights may just make it until help arrives.
There happened to be a few people having a conversation on the local area Repeater.  I interrupted them and explained my plight. They were glad to help!  One called Highway Patrol and got them on the way.  Sweetie also is an amateur radio operator & he was monitoring the local repeater, he told me he had heard my message and was on his way.
Sweetie arrived first & used his cell phone to contact AAA. Highway Patrol arrived five minutes later, first time this officer had been dispatched by HAM radio!  Then the tow truck.

Are you prepared?
Doing it yourself:

We are a family of four with many pets.  The kids are teens now and involved in a lot of activities and even jobs, so are seldom home these days.  They are responsible for their world.  Their room, their laundry, their (shared) bathroom.

I am currently laid off, out of work, pounding the pavement.  So, because I have the most time at the house, keeping it clean falls to me.  Here is how I do it.

Every day, without fail, I clean something.  That's it.  Sometimes it will be 15 minutes, sometimes it will be an hour or even 2.  Every single day, I clean something.  

Every day I clean something different than the day before.  The mood strikes, the area calls, the dust is pouring off, whatever inspires me to clean that area or item, that day.  

I do follow a general outline that works for me:
 - Daily dishes
 - Clean sink area after every load of dishes
 - Daily dirty clothes into the hamper
 - Daily make bed
 - Daily wipe up spills/clean up messes as they happen
 - Daily mail is handled and trash disposed of
 - Bathroom fixtures, rinse sink after use 

 - Once a week sweep / vacuum all floors
 - Once a week laundry
 - Once a week mowing
 - Once a week scrub the bathrooms
 - Trash is taken out on an as needed basis. A little more than once a week as I work to avoid generating trash!

 - Once a month maintenance / fix it item
 - Once a month wipe down door frames & light switches

Scattered in among the other days are things like:
 - Living room, straighten and dust
 - Dining room, straighten and dust
 - Kitchen, spot clean cupboards and appliances
 - Bedroom, straighten and dust

Once a year I look at:
 - cleaning window coverings
 - cleaning windows
 - swapping seasonal clothing
 - thinning books & donating
 - clear clutter out of the house & donate

How do you keep the house presentable?  Or do you??  
I have hired residential house clean­ers before. Generally I will do this as a present to myself around the hol­i­days.  Have hired spec­tac­u­lar and not so great.  An acquaintance recently had a poor experience with her first time with a house cleaner.  So, I thought I would share my advice to help you have a better one.

First, Finding:  Ask friends, family, neighbors for references on a RESIDENTIAL cleaner.  There is a difference.  Not that they can't also do a good business cleaning, but make sure they have experience and are providing a reference based upon residential work.

Second, Scope of Work:  The cleaner should visit your home to see the honest condition (and no, don't clean your house first) that they will be cleaning.  You should agree upon the scope of work as well as the price.  The cleaner should provide you with a list of things they will / will not do.  Dust, yes - Windows, no.  It does not have to be written, verbal is fine.  Make sure you agree with the work listed and please don't hold back from asking questions.  This is not the time to be meek, mild, or shy.

Third, The Job:  Yes, always pick up your clut­ter before they arrive. They don't know where you gen­er­ally keep your __X__ so don't expect them to put it away. This includes shoes, books, dishes, and laun­dry unless specif­i­cally agreed upon in advance.  No, do not clean before they arrive.  Seriously?

A few things that your cleaner should do:
- Cleaning of all bathroom surfaces & mirrors
- Cleaning of all kitchen surfaces w/ spot cleaning the outside of cabinets and appliances.  Nothing inside of cabinets or appliances unless discussed in advance.
- Dusting of every surface, vertical and horizontal (cobwebs, window ledges, baseboard, etc)
- Cleaning of all floor surfaces - Vacuum, sweep & mop

A few things that your cleaner will NOT do:
- Scrub 5 years of cigarette smoke off the wood paneling in one afternoon visit
- Wash all your windows inside and out in one afternoon visit
- Elec­tron­ics should not be plugged, unplugged, or replugged if bumped out. Only shifted so that it can be dusted. 
Now if the wires fell off:
- Anything knocked, fell, or dis­con­nected, you should be noti­fied imme­di­ately whether it looks dam­aged or not.

ALWAYS do a walk-through once they tell you they are DONE and don't be shy about asking for touch-ups before pay­ing and they leave. 
 - One time a cleaner was height challenged — and she didn't clean the top of the fridge. OH, I have a step stool!
 - One time a cleaner was distracted by an "urgent" phone call from her daughter and she missed one entire room - she was interrupted in her rhythm.
 - One time a cleaner smoked and spent more time outside my front door smoking than inside my house.  What she does on her time is her business, but I have 4 hours of cleaning coming and you will be inside the house, cleaning, for 4 hours.

I encourage everyone to treat themselves occasionally to a professional house cleaner. But remember - ask for a RESIDENTIAL cleaner and check the ref­er­ences.  Be prepared to speak up.  You can not get the job you want if you can not say what it is you want. 

One final note: Do not leave your pets or children, not even teens, running loose.  Cleaners are not pet/babysitter.

Do you have any other suggestions?