Utilities in Flower Mound

When my husband and I decided to move to the Dallas area, we searched high and low for information that would help us budget.  We didn’t know how much house we could afford, how much taxes would be, or what we should allow for utilities.  We could only find brief, vague, and ultimately unhelpful references to utility budgets, so our estimates were totally wrong.  Here, in the spirit of making your transplantation to Flower Mound easier, I will give you our utility totals since we’ve been here.

Circumstances: We’ve got a 2300 square foot house on one level (two levels require increased energy to cool, so plan for that if it applies).  We moved in during the second week of June, so that month’s bill was lower.  We ran the sprinklers June-September, so the water bill (Town of Flower Mound) was higher.  We’ve got two adults and two toddlers taking baths/showers and we cloth diaper, so that’s an extra four loads of laundry per week.  There are multiple power options here—we chose Green Mountain because you can opt for wind and hydroelectric sources.  There are cheaper options, though.  Now, without further ado, the nitty-gritty details:

June 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy (power)—$97.52
  • Town of Flower Mound (water/sewer/trash)—$85.73
  • ATMOS Energy (gas)—$36.26

July 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy—$270.12
  • Town of Flower Mound—$113.01
  • ATMOS Energy—$41.14

August 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy—$289.96
  • Town of Flower Mound—$153.13
  • ATMOS Energy—$42.68

September 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy—$247.18
  • Town of Flower Mound—$145.37
  • ATMOS Energy—$40.96

October 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy—$178.30
  • Town of Flower Mound—$101.06
  • ATMOS Energy—$50.11

November 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy—$90.29
  • Town of Flower Mound—$96.25
  • ATMOS Energy—$62.03

December 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy—$104.94
  • Town of Flower Mound—$96.25
  • ATMOS Energy—$116.43

January 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy—$95.97
  • Town of Flower Mound—$87.54
  • ATMOS Energy—$128.90

February 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy—$89.69
  • Town of Flower Mound—$91.22
  • ATMOS Energy—$129.16

March 2010

  • Green Mountain Energy—$75.86
  • Town of Flower Mound—$91.94
  • ATMOS Energy—$76.97

I hope that helps some of you.  Good luck with your budget!

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Finding a Babysitter in Flower Mound

I was having a bad day.  We were living out of a duffel bag while the mortgage company dragged their feet and everything we owned sat inside a shipping container in front of the new house.  We had no clean clothes.  We had two kids.  We had two dogs.  We had nothing to do while we waited to close on the house.  We left the dogs in the yard of a new acquaintance and went to see Shrek Forever After at the AMC theater in Grapevine.  There were 6 other people in the entire theater of this KIDS’ MOVIE.  My baby was cooing/laughing happily (and only occasionally).  After a major debate with a vigilant usher, she escorted me and my baby to the hall.  I complained to the manager, who had actually been in the theater, unbeknownst to me, and who hadn’t heard the baby whatsoever.  He agreed that his usher had been out of line and gave me two passes to return another night.  “Get a babysitter and just enjoy a movie with your husband on us,” he said.  I burst into tears.  We had just moved to a state where we knew NO ONE.  We had no family around and THEY were the ones who used to watch our kids for date night.  Was I ever going to have a date night again?  (Yeah, it had been a long week. )

It didn’t take too much time in Flower Mound to realize there is a GREAT babysitting resource here: Mormon teenagers.  I don’t know why there seem to be more Mormons in Flower Mound than other Dallas cities, but there are–about 6 congregations throughout the town.  So, what makes Mormon babysitters so great?  Realize that I’m about to speak in major generalities and read on:

  • Experience: Mormons tend to have larger families than average, so your Mormon babysitter may have four younger siblings at home that they’ve babysat since they were 10.  They know how to change a diaper, make a bottle, and not to leave kids unattended in the tub.  It is likely that they’ve babysat for several families in their congregation as well.  Another plus: Mormon girls between the ages of 12 and 18 attend a weeknight program that promotes goal-setting and personal development.  Oftentimes, they have activities on CPR, first aid, and even babysitting.
  • Quality of Care: Most of the Mormon babysitters I have used have not turned on the TV the entire time I’ve been gone.  A couple have played the Wii with the kids.  About half of them have brought “babysitting bags” with games for the kids to play, crafts for them to do, books, toys, etc., knowing that kids always prefer new stuff to their own stuff.
  • Busy Bees: It seems like most of these girls have been trained to leave the house as clean or cleaner than they found it.  Once the kids are in bed, they set to work.  It is not unusual for me to come home and find that my babysitter has done the dishes or cleaned the playroom.  I always pay a little extra for that.
  • Economy: This week, I heard a Dallas radio DJ (I think it was Valentine in the morning) talking about trying to find a babysitter and asking callers for their advice.  One caller said she charges $18 per hour.  Factor that in your date night budget and you’re talking about a small fortune.  The flyer I received from a CPR-certified, 13-year-old Mormon girl down the street said $5/hour for up to three kids including cleanup, simple meal preparation, getting the kids ready for bed, and “fun alternative activities to TV.”  Sign me up.  Pay a little more for an older girl who can drive herself to your house and handle a really young baby.  My kids are 18 months and 4 years old, so the 13-year-old babysitters work great for us when we’re not going to be out past 10:00 or so.  Just make sure their parents know when to expect them.
  • No shenanigans: Here come the generalities.  Mormons don’t drink, smoke, have premarital sex, dress immodestly, swear, watch R-rated movies, or bend easily in the face of peer pressure.  The odds of teenage shenanigans happening while you’re gone (e.g. parties, raided liquor cabinet, boys coming over to make out) are extremely low.
  • Availability: Mormons aren’t supposed to date until they are 16, so they probably don’t have anything better to do on a weekend, unless there’s a church dance.  They will likely be available at least one weekend night, if not both.  Plus, here in Flower Mound, there are probably at least 20 Mormon babysitters who live within 2 miles of your house.

So, you may ask, “How do I find one of these super sitters?”  Good question.  Luckily, it has an easy answer.  The Mormons are nothing if not organized.  Remember how I said that the teenagers are involved in a weeknight program?  Each age group (12/13, 14/15, 16/17) has two leaders.  Those two leaders spend every Tuesday or Wednesday night with these girls, so they know them pretty well.  Plug your address into the Mormon meetinghouse finder.  It will pop up the address of the nearest Mormon church along with the bishop’s name and phone number.  If you call him, he will be able to direct you to the leaders for the young women, who can recommend the most responsible babysitters in their group.  You could also just drop by the church and meet some of them.  The service time will be listed on the meetinghouse pop-up.  (That could work well, since the babysitter’s parents will probably want to meet you before letting their daughter come over.)

So, how do you find a babysitter when you move to Flower Mound?  As the South Park writers would say, “The Mormons.”

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Choosing a Flower Mound Dentist

Let’s say you’re in the mood for spaghetti.  One restaurant uses a jar of pre-made sauce, some store-bought, boxed noodles, and artificial Parmesan sprinkles.  Another restaurant crushes tomatoes grown in a garden behind the restaurant, uses fresh basil leaves, makes their pasta on site, and imports their Parmesan from Parma, Italy.  Both charge exactly the same for a bowl of spaghetti.  Which one would you like?

Sometimes it can be tough to choose a dentist or know if they are doing a good job because, well, what does the average person know about dentistry?  A whole lotta nothin’.  So, we base our decisions on how nice the staff is, how short the wait time is, and whether our similarly clueless neighbor recommends them.  No offense to the neighbor.  And I’m not saying chair side manner isn’t an important consideration.  It’s just not the ONLY consideration.

So, instead, I choose to base my choice in dental professionals on their philosophy.  I figure, if a dentist eagerly reads research or attends continuing education events to find the best products, but they still charge the same as other dentists, then they must take pride in their work.

But how do you know if a dentist falls into that camp?  Well, I happen to have a unique insight on that front.  I work for a dental manufacturer who makes a lot of products.  Some are on a level playing field with the competitors’ products.  Some are quite a bit better.  One product in particular is undeniably the best in the market and ALL the research confirms it.  You heard me: 100% unanimity.  The product happens to be the adhesive used to stick tooth-colored fillings to your teeth–one that determines how long your filling will last and whether it causes you sensitivity.  So, I would say that’s a pretty important product in the scheme of a dental treatment.  Now, the product is pretty new (released in the last five years or so), which means that most practicing dentists didn’t learn about it in school.  That means that if they are using this product, they either read the research or learned about it at a continuing education event.  You may wonder if advertising or sales reps could have had an impact.  Well, adhesives are kind of a comfort zone product for dentists, so they don’t tend to change their system of choice very often.  It’s actually a pretty tough sale that probably involved presenting the research, anyway.  As for the advertising, I don’t think any dentist would change their adhesive because of an ad.

So, based on the whole story I just gave you, my recommendation for a Flower Mound dentist is actually a dentist in Argyle.  He works the best for us because he also has an office in Bedford, meaning my husband has easier access from work in Dallas, while I can easily go to Argyle from Flower Mound.

My recommendations:

General Practice: Dr. Mark Studer (Argyle and Bedford)
Pediatrics: Dr. Jon Schaack (Lewisville)

Now, to my experience at Dr. Studer’s office.

The office is located in an unassuming little commercial strip in an area of town that can only be described as “Texas.”  It seems a little bit rural and it’s sure pretty out there.  The waiting room is small; I think there were only two or three chairs.  That’s a good thing, because it means they don’t expect you to wait long.  In fact, I sat down and pulled out my phone to check email, but I didn’t even get to read one message before I was called back.  The other patients there were not hoity-toity Dallas types, but real Texas folks with dirt on their boots.  The receptionist calls everyone “Darlin'” and “Sweetie.”  It’s charming.

I was led to the first operatory in the office, where the hygienist asked me a bunch of questions about my teeth, my health, my family, my job, etc.  This all happened while I was seated upright, looking at her eye-to-eye.  It was time for a full series of x-rays, which they took using a digital gadget, the results of which I could instantly see on a monitor on the wall.  After they captured all angles of every tooth, Dr. Studer came in and introduced himself.  Again, I was sitting up.  The hygienist told him everything she had learned about me, including details about my life and job, without looking at any notes.  He asked a couple questions of his own, then tilted me back and began a very thorough exam.  He performed an oral cancer screening, checked for clicking in my jaw (TMJ screening), asked about my tonsils, and looked at every single tooth, giving the hygienist instructions of what to chart about each one.

After all that, Dr. Studer looked at the x-rays and explored potential issues with a dental instrument while he explained things to me.  “Do you see that gray area there? It looks like a void, but when we transluminate it, you can see that it’s uniform.  That means it’s probably adhesive under your composite filling–nothing to be concerned about.”  I made some comment about how my last dentist didn’t use my company’s adhesive (which shows up on x-rays instead of looking like a void).  Dr. Studer said, “Yeah, I really like your adhesive.  You know which product I can’t live without, though?  The caries indicator.”

Our caries indicator was originally invented to assist inexperienced dentists in finding and removing all the decay in a tooth.  The inventor never intended to use it himself, thinking he was experienced enough to do it unaided.  After one of his colleagues nagged him enough, though, he started using it himself and was surprised at how much decay he was leaving inside the tooth.  He was a believer from that point forward.  I told this story to Dr. Studer.  He said that he’d had a similar experience.  His assistant had learned about the product and recommended it to him, but he had been dismissive.  Then she said, “Dr. Studer, you’re always telling me to ‘be scientific,’ so why don’t you just try this sample?”  So, he did.  After he was completely finished excavating and 100% positive he had removed all the infected tooth structure, he would paint on the caries indicator.  He was shocked.  He had been so certain that he had removed everything, and yet, there would be some green stain, indicating remaining decay.  Since that day, he has not put in a filling without the use of a caries indicator.  He even went so far as to say, “If I’m out of caries indicator, I will reschedule appointments. I am absolutely not going to bond a restoration unless I’m positive the surface is completely clean.”  Wow.  Talk about no ego.  For me, this was such an impressive view of Dr. Studer’s character.

Following the exam, the hygienist, Kristen, cleaned my teeth using an ultrasonic scaler.  (That’s like the regular scraping instrument hygienists always use, but it has a vibrating effect like an ultrasonic toothbrush.)  She fine tuned the cleaning with the regular instrument afterward and then painted a fluoride varnish on my teeth.  Before sending me to the front, she gave me a hygiene kit with the usual stuff, plus some plastic tooth picks, small brushes on a stick to strengthen my gums, and the lip balm she had used on me prior to cleaning my teeth.  The receptionist printed out a treatment plan for me that included the full amount of the work I needed performed, the amount my insurance would likely pay, and what my responsibility would likely be.  She said they would be happy to file a pre-determination with my insurance company to get the exact numbers.

So, by the end of the appointment, I can honestly tell you that I have never felt like someone cared as much about my teeth as the professionals working at this office.  I can enthusiastically recommend this office without hesitation.

Now, if a drive to Argyle doesn’t work for you, I did find a few dentists in Flower Mound who also use really good products . . . just not the adhesive, which I’ll admit is kind of a soap box product for me.

Dr. Brad Revering (for patient reviews, click here)
Dr. Jonathan Golab (for patient reviews, click here)
Dr. Hal Stewart (for patient reviews, click here)
Dr. Kellie Cleveland

I actually price checked Drs. Studer, Revering, and Cleveland.  All charged roughly the same for every procedure, though Dr. Cleveland was slightly higher.

Any questions?  Just let me know.

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