The Philips Wake-Up Light is so, so, so wonderful. I have never been a morning person, but the kids' school schedule means a pre-dawn alarm in the winter that is pretty miserable. We got a Wake-Up Light a few years ago, and it's completely changed winter mornings for me. I wake up awake and refreshed and ready to get out of bed, instead of being jolted awake by a jarring alarm and spending 20 minutes trying to climb out of a deep sleep-hole. Seriously, it's the BEST. THE BEST.
I'm glad you made your goal! But... you didn't get paid enough for the housecleaning, IMO. Not sure what it's like in other parts of the country, but in my city cleaners charge $25/hour per cleaner, minimum. If you and your husband TOGETHER spend 6 hours cleaning (and it sounds like not only surface cleaning, but decluttering and deep cleaning also) that should pay in the $300 range - $10/hour per person is really, really low. Especially with pee smell.
"We should buy things where they’re cheapest. That frees up more of our resources to buy other things, and other Americans get jobs producing those things." This is where that argument falls apart for me - if we buy EVERYTHING at the cheapest possible price, that's largely going to be things made in China. Those additional purchases that we've free-ed up capital to buy by purchasing the first thing at a low price aren't going to be made in the US - they're also going to be made overseas. The argument being made isn't, "buy one cheap thing, and then things made in America at a higher price point" it's, "pay the lowest price for your purchases so you can purchase more things."
I usually get up to "use the bathroom" toward the end of the meal, find the waiter, and give them my card before the check ever hits the table. It feels so much more graceful - there's no arguing when the check hits the table, or the "are you sure?" "but I insist" dance.
On Lost Luggage
Ooooh! Lost luggage! When I was in high school, my family was traveling from the PNW to Kentucky for a family reunion in July or August. We had packed several whole salmon on dry ice or with frozen gel packs or something, and the airline lost that bag. They seemed *completely* unconcerned and told us they'd have it delivered when/if they found it, which was likely to be 5-7 days from then. My dad kind of shrugged, and said nonchalantly, "I'm pretty sure you'll be able to find it sooner than that, because it's full of raw fish that's going to start stinking up whatever warehouse the bag is sitting in. But hey - it's *your* problem now!" ... The bag was delivered to our resort 90 minutes later. Another good one: my husband and I traveled to London a few years ago. We flew through Amsterdam, and then took a (really lovely) puddle-jumper from Schiphol to London City Airport that arrived at about 9:00 am. When we deplaned, our luggage wasn't there. We went back and forth with the desk staff, who told us that our bags hadn't made the plane and were still in Amsterdam and FURTHERMORE, there was no possible way for them to bring the bags in before the next day because there weren't anymore flights in from Amsterdam. I was incredulous - it's 9:00, and there are NO flights the entire rest of the day between Amsterdam and London? Well, no - turns our there are no flights between Schiphol and LCA, but there are plenty of flights to Gatwick or Heathrow. They steadfastly refused to put our bags on one of THOSE flights, though, until I said the magic words, "I have prescription medicine in that bag that I need to take." "Prescription medicine, you say? We'll put your bag on the next flight to Heathrow and have is messenger-delivered to your flat ASAP!" Oddly enough, it turned out to be fantastic. We took the DLR to our flat and were unencumbered by our luggage, showered, took a nap, and the luggage was delivered by about 2:00 pm. It was easier than if we hadn't lost it in the first place!
I am so confused about the combination of condoms, Plan B, blood stains, and pregnancy test.
@MissMushkila My daughter is in Kindergarten, but we did the same thing for three years at her preschool and no one seemed to think it was inappropriate. Maybe the situation is different when the kids are older? My dad was an elementary school teacher, and he got lots of Starbucks cards, B&N cards, mugs, and a shocking number of ugly ornaments.
My daughter has contact with her two classroom teachers, four specialist teachers, and six rotating "extended day" staffers. We usually buy a case of nice liquor (this year it was Bailey's, with one bottle of Grey Goose for the vegan) and distribute the bottles with a bow and a brief note of thanks. It's always been a huge hit, though I do have to do some pre-gifting recon to see if anybody doesn't drink for whatever reason.
I'm skiing with my daughter, husband, and father on Thanksgiving day. My mom will stay in the lodge with my infant son (she doesn't ski) while the rest of us play in the snow. So... well, it's a fuck-ton of money. We all got new skis this year, and this is our first time out this season. We're doing Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday - I'm picking up the turkey on Friday ($65), and I've already bought the giant pot ($40) and propane burner ($40). I also have more groceries to buy for the dinner - maybe another $100? My mother is intent on making WeightWatchers pumpkin "cheesecake" (...yuck) so we'll be getting or making a real dessert, and also sweet potato casserole, stuffing with apples and sausage, buttermilk mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans, giblet gravy, fresh cranberry/orange/ginger sauce, wine, and apple cider for the kids.
@RiffRandell Google treats their employees phenomenally well. They cover 90% of health insurance premiums, offer generous vacation, unlimited sick leave, 7 weeks parental leave (more for women who give birth - 4-5 months at least), and of course the pay is quite high.