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Identity Theft Again

December 16th, 2018 at 07:55 pm

The last several days have been pretty awful and not just because of my cold, although that was bad, too. My ears blocked up on the 12th and only cleared this morning. If I thought I was dizzy and the world was spinning before, every time I tried to pop my ears it also felt like I was on a sail boat in rough water. I have had spinning before, but never up and down dizziness. I had to just close my eyes and sit still for several minutes and wait for it to stop. It is nice to be able to hear properly again. I'm still not over this thing, but it is down to a runny nose now and tiredness now, which is a huge improvement.

The bad part, financially is two-fold. One, someone used DH's Best Buy account to order a laptop. They swamped his email with Russian subscriptions to try to hide the message from Best Buy, but DH has it set up so that certain emails always go to the top. It was ordered by some guy named Todd Peterson in Oregon. DH was able to cancel it and changed the password on his Best Buy account. They had charged it to a credit card number that looked familiar, but wasn't one of our current credit card numbers. I think it might have been one of our numbers before we were issued new cards with new numbers due to identity theft six months ago. If so, I'm not sure how he managed to even order it. Anyway, it got taken care of it, but it was worrying.

Then we found out DH's Paypal account had been hacked. Someone changed the main email on it to a different one, but left his as a secondary. They also changed the language to Spanish. They had also withdrawn $1000 from our checking account, which I normally would have caught much sooner, but I've been sick and doing the bare minimum with finances. Fortunately the money was still sitting there in his account and once he was able to get into it and change it back into English he deleted that foreign e-mail and changed his password, set it so his phone had to be texted for anything on the account could be changed again, and deleted all cards or checking accounts from Paypal.

I went on to Paypal for myself and everything looked fine for me. As with all instances of identity theft so far, they have had to do with DH's info. I changed my password just to be on the safe side and set it up with my phone to be texted if anyone tried to change anything and then DH transferred the $1000 to me and I transferred it back to our checking account. Hopefully it will be there on Monday. Fortunately we had enough money in the account to cover everything we had paid out. I will be making it a priority to be checking our checking accounts every few days now, even when I feel like death.

So while it was a major hassle, at least no money was permanently stolen from us. The third thing that happened is the new computer DH bought is not working after a week. He bought it directly from HP and it quit functioning a week in. He decided to do a reset to factory settings and it erased the drive. So he's been trying to get HP support, but they have very limited hours and no one is there on weekends. Seems like a poor way to run a business in this day and age. He is going to send it back and either get his money back or get a new one.

I am hoping they will just give him a new one. I was worried about him buying it from them direct instead of through Best Buy, where we at least have Geek Squad protection. Of course, that was before the Best Buy hack. He did it because he could get a better computer that way for the same money. Not better if it doesn't work.

I hope this is the last we see of this nonsense, but I realize we may very well be dealing with this for some time. Stupid companies that can't protect our information. That $1000 could have caused a world of hurt if we'd lost it.

Found Out About the Bonus

December 11th, 2018 at 04:34 pm

So DH's end of year bonus will be $1600 in cash, but that is before taxes, so not sure what it will be afterwards. Bonuses get taxed weirdly, I believe at 25%, so we'll only see $1200 of that, though some of it will come back in our tax refund. He will also get 1 percent of all wages earned put into his 401K with 100% matching, since we haven't hit 5% of income on our own yet. That will only be based on his earned wages since becoming a permanent employee, and he became one in July, I think.

His last paycheck says he has earned $37,192.50 since becoming a permanent employee, and it is probably going to be calculated after Friday's paycheck. So we should end up with something over $800 extra into the 401K. Nice little chunk of change. It's been a few years since DH has worked with a company that did bonuses. If it is calculated after the last paycheck of the month than it will be closer to $1000.

My cold seems to have moved up into my head now. After driving yesterday I decided I don't want to drive today in the storm we are having. I thought I was ready to drive yesterday, but I had trouble focusing and ended up running a red light. Thankfully it was at an empty intersection and no cops were around. That is the first time in my life I have run a red light. So clearly I am not clear-headed enough to drive yet. I will wait until Thursday before I try again assuming the cold continues to vacate the premises and I am not a dizzy-headed mess.

Tonight for dinner I am making beef pot roast in the Instant Pot, steamed potatoes in the Power Cooker XL, and broccoli in the microwave. No baby-sitting, no fuss, very little mess. It is nice having two electric pressure cookers when I don't have a stove. It makes things much easier for me.

I hope I am with it enough by Friday to do the banking and the grocery shopping. We are getting low on some items and with DH heading out to MIL's after work to work on cleaning out her attic and garage, he isn't able to do the shopping either. I'm making due, but it would be nice to have fresh greens again. I have enough potatoes, carrots, and plenty of onions to last the rest of the week, and I have canned green beans, and there are oranges and apples, so we won't go without. But it isn't salad. I might have cabbage, though. I could do cole slaw instead if I do.

I have a ton of canned, frozen, and freeze dried foods, but sometimes you just want that fresh produce factor in the middle of winter. We are getting low on bread and milk, though I think it will just make it to Friday. I am meal planning carefully, but I think we will pull it off okay.

Turned the Corner

December 10th, 2018 at 03:39 pm

This is one of the worst winter colds I have ever had, but I think I have finally turned the corner. I got up and got dressed for the first time since December 2nd. My cough is up in my throat now instead of my lungs or bronchials. I still definitely have a lot of mucus and am pretty tired, but I think I could drive today without being a risk to others. I haven't even been in a car since the 1st, let alone driven.

I even started a load of laundry, there is a huge backlog, though DH did his work clothes, but I have to take it slow. I am still a little dizzy when I bend over, so I reckon DS will have to take the clothes out of the dryer and bring them to my bed so I can fold them. But I am not dizzy when I am upright. It was so bad there for a while that being upright was too much.

There is talk of a Christmas or year end bonus at DH's work. I know when he filled out paperwork to become a permanent employee there was a sheet about a company bonus that goes into the 401K. I don't know if it all goes in or if some can be gotten as cash. We could use cash for medical bills. I don't even know if he will qualify, because while he has worked for them for a year, it has only been 6 months direct, so I'm not counting any chickens. It would be nice, though.

Considering the job he is doing, he should get one, but I don't know how these things work. They are pretty eager to hang on to him. His boss has put in for a raise for him, so keep your fingers crossed that he gets one.

He has been getting rumblings about slope work. One company even asked if they could put him in on their bid. DH said no for now because he really doesn't want to go back to Alaska. He likes where he is at. But it would be a possibility. I don't really want him to go away again. We spent the first twenty years of our marriage with him gone so much for work, now that he is home I have gotten used to it.

I know I could get used to him leaving again, but there is so much I can't keep up on anymore. That's why we don't have chickens, or turkeys, or ducks anymore. And why we've cut back significantly on the number of rabbits. I am even debating on whether or not I want to plant a garden this year. If I do, I will probably only plant a few beds.

Mom and DS want to put up Christmas lights, so DH went and dug out some of our standees (stand alone lights). We have our polar bears, our train, our seal with a present on his nose, our Season's Greetings, two presents, and our giant snowflake. We need to get a cable to secure the seal to the porch. Everything else will be zip-tied to the deck rail or up to high for someone to get without a ladder, but I am not losing that seal to theft. It was too expensive.

I have no idea why Mom wants to put up lights this year, except that there are tons of houses on our block who have put them up and our house looks pretty dark and naked without them. One of our next door neighbors doesn't have anything either, but that is pretty much it. She isn't the type to keep up with the Jones's normally.

I don't know when they will actually get put up though. DH and DS have been helping MIL to clean out her attic and garage to get ready for the exterminator to come, new insulation to be laid, a new breaker box put in, and a new furnace and AC to be installed. She's getting $40K of work done. FIL was a pack rat and there is a lot to get rid of. So far they have hauled away 1013 pounds of garbage. DH is finding tax files and paperwork from the 70's. We have a roving shredder business that you can get to come by and shred all your old paperwork and MIL is thinking of hiring them.

I haven't been able to help at all, although considering how much dust and rat droppings and loose insulation there is, that is a good thing. With my asthma it is just not a good idea, even with a mask on.

They are going out again tonight after DH gets off work and hopefully that will be the end of it until the weekend. DH didn't get any rest this weekend at all because he was out there. I am worried he is going to come down with my cold, because he has started coughing, but that might just be in reaction to all the dust. I don't like it when he burns the candle at both ends. He is getting some help from his sister and her boyfriend, so it isn't just my guys.

I just don't want him to get sick and have to stay home from work. And I need him to be well to drive us down to Virginia Mason on the 19th. I hate driving in Seattle traffic. I've done it a couple of times because in the past DH was in Alaska, but it is something that scares me because they drive worse in Seattle than they do in Orange County. In Seattle, no one knows what a blinker is, people zip back and forth between lanes even when there is no space to do so safely, assuming the lanes aren't at a standstill. Pedestrians jaywalk constantly despite having plenty of cross walks. And don't get me started on the bicyclists, who apparently don't like to use bike lanes, but would rather take their lives and yours into their hands and act like they are immortal. Even the bus drivers are a little nuts.

Almost all the streets are one way and half the time you can't go around the block for several blocks. People block intersections so badly that I've sat through five or six light cycles before it has been clear to go. The drivers are so aggressive, too. So yeah, DH needs to be well for that, because I am currently not up to that challenge.

Update Complete with Nasty Cold

December 6th, 2018 at 06:04 pm

On Sunday I woke up with a cough that progressively moved lower and lower this week until I sounded like a deep bass male. For the record I'm a contralto on a normal day. I no longer sound like a man, but my voice is in the tenor range. I am still coughing like crazy. I did write a chapter on Saturday, but haven't touched the book since. I find it better not to write when I'm taking this much cold medicine.

I have managed, barely, to make dinner the past 2 nights, thanks to the Instant Pot and a supply of beef and pork roasts. I am managing to eat one meal a day and the rest of the day I am just drinking bone broth, which thank goodness I had made on Saturday. I need to make more but the idea of it is a little overwhelming.

I've been sleeping a lot, and binge watching Say Yes to the Dress on Hulu. I don't generally like reality TV shows. Dancing with the Stars is the only one, really. I'm not terribly into fashion either. But this show is like candy. No substance, but some really beautiful creations. It's like art with fabric as the medium. Better yet it is completely mindless so I didn't have to focus on a plot at all, because honestly, I couldn't right now if I tried.

I did manage to take a shower and that's all I'm going to manage today. It wiped me out, but it was worth it. I'll have DH pick up take out tonight. Probably Polynesian so there will be some vegetables in it. All I want to do is crawl back into bed, but I'm trying to stay upright for a couple of hours until DH gets home and can change the sheets. The idea of doing it by myself is exhausting.

I hope this starts to go away soon. It hurts and I was just starting to feel really good after a week on the diet. Well, I'm still on the diet and I've lost a lot, but once my appetite comes back, I'm not sure what will happen. Currently I am .9 lbs from my dietbet goal weight and it hasn't been quite two weeks yet. I have been off the Pepsi for a week as well.

I can already see a huge difference in our grocery budget. Pepsi was starting to take a huge chunk out of it. DH is off it, too, so we aren't buying it at all. I can't believe I let myself get addicted to it again, but at least that is over.

DH's office Christmas Party is Saturday. I won't be able to go and I feel really bad about it, because we had to RSVP. It's a catered buffet. Although they are serving alcohol which usually means someone will make an idiot of themselves. I'm going to tell him to ask his mother to go. I think that she would enjoy having an evening out with her son. I was really looking forward to it, too. We haven't gone out for a night away from the kids in ages.

DH had to order a new cushion for his c-pap mask, so that was $67.95 out of the medical fund. I ordered two prescription refills today, too, but don't know the cost of that yet. Otherwise we haven't been spending. It's hard to spend when you can't leave your bed. Not impossible, Amazon exists after all, but harder.

DD has an appointment at Virginia Mason with a doctor that specializes in endometriosis on the 19th. My goal is for us to be well by then. DD has the cold, too. Although we are still going even if we aren't. I am going to get the name of the anesthesiologist who worked on her for her gall bladder surgery before we go to prove that there is one that is willing to do a laparoscopic surgery for her. Then it'll be a question of convincing the doctor.

DD doesn't care about the risks. She has no quality of life, so to her it is worth any risk to try to get this taken care of. She can't work, she can't go to school, she just exists in a pain-filled lump. I remember these symptoms well from my days with this disease. But I didn't have to fight for treatment because I was at a normal weight. Hopefully this doctor will be compassionate enough to try. None of the ones around here are, but then again, they don't specialize in this disease.

Productive Morning

November 28th, 2018 at 02:20 pm

I woke up very early this morning, at 4:30, and couldn't get back to sleep so from 5:30 to 7:30 I worked on editing. I rewrote a significant chunk of chapter twelve and added a scene to the end of chapter eight. Then I went through chapters 13, 14, and 15 and did a proofread, then a line edit, so at the moment the book is edited right up to the start of chapter sixteen, which I hope to finish writing today. If I get ambitious or into the right flow state, I will start chapter seventeen.

I paid a doctor's bill of $253. It was for the initial consult with DS's sleep doctor. He did spend an entire hour with us, but still, ouch, new patient visits are getting expensive. We won't know anything real about DS's sleep study until the techs have had a chance to read the results. That could be a couple of weeks yet.

At 8 a.m. I went back to bed and slept until 12:30. I have another doctor's bill to pay but have to wait until Friday to pay it. It is $125 and I only have $112 left in the medical fund after all the bills I have paid this week. But I'll be putting in the standard $400 deposit on Friday and then hopefully a little extra.

DH hasn't had a chance yet to straighten out the hospital bill. He probably won't until Friday when he only has to work a couple of hours. Since he can go in at any time on Friday, I recommended he use the morning to clear this up and then go into work.

I hope he gets more overtime soon. I would really like to fill up the medical account in preparation for the deductible starting over in January. I hate it when things are a struggle. I just want to get more than our heads above water. I'd much prefer waist deep or wading levels than this constant treading of water.

Maybe once I get this book done and self-published I might be able to earn a little something on it that will help with this situation. Here's hoping.

Not Much New Here

November 27th, 2018 at 07:57 pm

The diet is going well so far. Famous last words, though. It always goes well in the beginning. I've lost 5.6 pounds.

Yesterday I wrote 5664 words on the novel. That was two chapters, plus 882 words into the next chapter. The day before that I wrote one chapter of 2500 or so words. So after a 27 day stall I've put out 4 and 1/3 chapters.

I didn't spend any time on it today, mostly because my right wrist hurts, but I did spend a bunch of time watching writer videos on youtube. I am learning a lot. I've been writing for a long time, but I find there is always more to learn.

I think there are a few books I want to get on writing, too, but that will have to wait until I have more money. Or maybe that is what I can get from MIL. They are ebooks, though, so she'll have to give me cash. I'm not sure you can buy an ebook that is delivered to someone else. Maybe if we buy from my account and use her credit card? Anyone bought an ebook to be delivered to someone else?

I made a payment to the dentist yesterday for DH's crown. It was $473. I owe an additional $400, so will pay $200 this coming payday and another $200 the payday after that. Ugh. HR signed us up for the wrong dental plan, which is why the crown wasn't covered. We still don't know why the dental insurance said that it was covered at 50% during pre-approval, though.

We also have to resubmit a hospital bill to the insurance company because something went wrong somewhere. Another ugh. I wish people could just do their jobs correctly. We should only owe half of what it says. DH is working on sorting it.

All of the OT money is going to be eaten up, though. It's annoying. Just when we finally feel like we are pulling ahead we fall back again. And who knows how much DS's sleep study is going to cost. At least $1000, possibly much more. They kept him for a second day for further study so I am pretty sure that means they found something. His dad will be picking him up in about five minutes to bring him home, so hopefully they will be able to convey things properly. I am just too wiped out today to go pick him up and talk to them myself.

On the plus side, after getting further info from the doctor, the insurance company decided to authorize the enbrel. Now I have to find the paperwork she gave me about it, because it has the phone number of the pharmacy that mails the drug out and the info for the discount card. I kept track of it until it was denied the first time. I know I didn't throw it away, though, so after a bit of serious looking it should turn up.

DH and I got the HBO add on package for Hulu and have been working our way through Game of Thrones. He's watched it before, but I resisted due to the language, violence, and nudity. I finally gave in a while ago and now we are down to the last episode which we will watch tonight. Then nothing more until April. It is very good. There is more violence on The Walking Dead and I think there was actually more graphic nudity in True Blood.

I have also been watching Westworld on my own because I really enjoy the actors Ben Barnes and Evan Rachel Wood. But the amount of nudity in it is astonishing. I mean I know the robots aren't humans, but you'd think some of the human techs would be uncomfortable with people that look like humans just walking around like that all the time. I don't care whether you are human or a robot, if you have your stuff hanging out casually, it is going to embarrass me and make me uncomfortable. But the story is so good. I think it would be better without the gratuitous nudity, though.

I think HBO, Netflix, and a lot of show makers today could do with leaving just a little bit more to the imagination. The stories they are telling are intricate and could easily stand on their own and the majority of the language and nudity just don't further the plot. A good story-teller can convey it all without these crutches. They simply choose not to because they think shock value is more important in drawing viewers than the story. They are wrong. I am watching the story in spite of all that stuff, not because of it.

Household Purchases and Building a Desk

November 24th, 2018 at 06:05 pm

DH has made a couple of household purchases this week. He spent $20 on a cast iron heating duct cover for the bathroom floor. The heating duct in the bathroom is really close to the toilet and sometimes gets stepped on. It is really poorly placed and it should have been moved when the remodel was done a few years ago, but they didn't do it.

We have broken the last two plastic covers in a relatively short amount of time. This one is solid. You can literally stand on top of it with no issue whatsoever. Not that we will on purpose, but the fact that we can without it breaking is wonderful.

Then today he picked up a box of screws and spent $12. He needed it to assemble the desk he and DS are building. DH got two gorgeous desk top pieces about a year ago free from a store that was at the end of a close out sale and just wanted to get rid of them. They had been trying to sell them for $5 the week before, but there had been no takers.

So they built legs for it and DS sanded them and stained them a really pretty dark blue that will match the curtains and bed spread in the room. They will finish the assembly today and put it in his room. The only thing it won't have yet is a pull out keyboard drawer. DS will be purchasing that and attaching it once he has saved up the money for it. We paid for the wood to make the legs, the stain, and the screws. I told DS that if he wanted the drawer he had to pony up the money himself.

The great thing about this is they were able to cut the legs to the exact right height for DS to work comfortably at it. Sometimes when you are tall the desks are way too short. As for the other desk top, DH put it on top of an old high sewing table he'd inherited years ago for his own desk. It looks great and gives him much more surface area. He didn't even need to attach it so many out on that one at all. Not bad for free.

Food Holidays

November 23rd, 2018 at 07:37 pm

Well, I've successfully made it 2/3 of the way through the food holiday gamut. I did not indulge in Halloween at all and I had a very balanced plate of food on Thanksgiving (no desserts, my carbs went to stuffing and potatoes, which I'd always rather eat).

However my day to day choices have sucked this year, I'm eating poorly and I'm back on Pepsi (sugar kind, not corn syrup kind), and all my clothes are tight. The store where I usually clothes shop is going out of business soon so I wouldn't even be able to buy new clothes. And I shouldn't. I have plenty of clothes one size down, so I signed up for a $30 Dietbet.

It will hopefully give me motivation to get back on track every day of the week. It starts on the 25th. I wavered a bit on choosing the one I did and one that starts on the 26th. The one I chose has less players and a smaller pot, but that always feels more intimate than being lost in a horde.

Mine's called The End of Year Showdown with Cristinadown100 and is a 4 week Kickstarter. I need to lose 13.5 pounds in that amount of time. I should be able to do that because I'll be getting back off the soda and that is usually ten pounds of retained water right there.

Normally I don't like to do Kickstarters, I like to do the Transformers which last six months, but I don't have that amount of money in my blow money envelope. I always like to prepay the entire six months because then you get one month's discount. So the plan is to do the Kickstarters. leave the money in, and hopefully earn enough to pay for a Transformer.

Thanksgiving was okay this year. MIL bailed the night before, which was disapointing, because I'd bought a ham specifically for her. She decided to spend the evening with her daughter instead, even though they are doing a Thanksgiving for that side on Saturday and SIL will be there. I don't know. It was very hurtful. The kids and DH were not happy.

It's the same kind of favoritism she often shows towards her daughter over her son and her children over ours. I should be used to it by now, but I'm not, because it hurts my family. I am choosing to not make a fuss, though. MIL has been very generous to us financially this year. I guess it is okay if she just wants to throw money at us and not see us. I'm not sure what that means for Christmas, but I'm bracing for a repeat.

I did find MIL a lovely gift for Christmas, though. It is a beautiful blanket with a carousel horse on it. She collects carousel horses and music boxes and it has gotten harder and harder to find her one she doesn't have or that plays something other than the carousel waltz, which she has come to loathe. DS ordered the camera he wants with his Christmas money so that should be here soon. I have purchased part of my own gift which is a queen size electric blanket. The other part of my gift is season 11 of The Big Bang Theory.

DD wants to get an electric blanket like the one I got for me and a really good heating pad. DH is narrowing down what he wants and then he'll order that and Christmas shopping will be done for the year. We don't exchange gifts with my side of the family. We quit years ago. I will likely make some fudge for my mother, though. We are on budget, so I am thrilled. We might even have $50 left.

I don't think I am going to make a turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas this year. Tearing up the bread for the stuffing and doing all the stirring for the gravy did a number on my wrists and I'm not sure I want to repeat that any time soon. Even with DH and DS peeling and chopping the potatoes, it was just too much.

I think things are just going to be very low key. We'll go out and look at lights this year, though. We skipped that the last two years and I miss doing it. Although it'll probably be a few days before Christmas. So many people go away for the holidays that you can miss some really good displays if you wait until the day of or the night before. I just want to keep it all simple. I'm tired of putting out effort, to be honest.

Pre-preparing for Thanksgiving

November 20th, 2018 at 07:52 pm

I took the turkey out of the freezer on Saturday and except for a bit in the center it is thawed out. So one more day and it should be fully defrosted. The ham is also thawed. I'll be making the picnic ham in the crock pot, 4 hours on low with one cup of water. It comes out perfect that way every time.

Tomorrow I will be tearing up bread for the stuffing and making it so that all I have to do on Thursday morning is put the stuffing in the bird.

DH and DS are on potato peeling and chopping duty. That is the hardest one for me to do with my hands the way they are.

I am going to do the green beans in the instant pot from fresh. They turn out beautifully that way and I can do them ahead of time and then just keep them on warm.

We are keeping it very simple this year. Ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, gravy, and sliced oranges. Normally I do corn, but last year there was a lot of corn left over and this year my biggest corn eater can no longer eat corn, so I'll just eliminate it and save myself the extra step. I need DH to find out if his mother wants a can of cranberry jelly. None of us eat it and I can't remember if it was her or FIL who liked it.

I haven't decided about desert yet. I might ask mom to make an apple or blueberry pie (she has home-canned pie filling on hand and I think I have TJ's frozen pie crusts in the freezer) or I might make pumpkin cheesecake. I have to get out to the store and see if I can find the right kind of graham crackers for crust. Trader Joe's is the safe brand (or Annie's graham cracker bunnies) but if I go, I have to go early as their parking lot is a nightmare after eleven on a normal day. I can't even imagine how bad it will be the day before Thanksgiving. I also need to get some Yukon gold organic potatoes there.

Then I have to go find the safe type of plain cream cheese, which is at the food co-op. Having kids with allergies is so much fun. At least there are versions of things I can use, though.

I need to go through the freezer and pull out all the bread heels I've been saving for the last six months and let them thaw out tonight for making the stuffing tomorrow and then see if I need to add anymore bread in. I have an extra loaf if needed since we buy two loaves at a time. I already have sage and poultry seasoning. I don't know when they stopped putting sage in poultry seasoning, but it irritates me that they quit. It's been at least four years now since I've been able to find a brand with sage in it.

I am going to make up frozen TV dinners again with the majority of the leftovers. They are very convenient to have during the winter. I have many days during the cold season when I don't feel like cooking, so if I can just whip these out we all have a good home-cooked meal anyway. I can do both turkey and ham dinners, too. We will be making an extra five pounds of potatoes so we will have plenty for these TV dinners, too.

Aside from that I also have planned a regular night of just leftovers, then leftover turkey casserole, turkey noodle soup with warm ham sandwiches, and some turkey enchiladas to use up leftovers. I might make loaded baked potato soup with ham instead of bacon as well. We'll see what is left. I will also dice up leftover ham to use in omelettes and egg bricks. I will freeze the diced ham and take it out as needed. I will dice up some turkey for salads, as well.

If I plan like this going in, then I don't waste and that is important when you are using an expensive organic turkey. Well, that is important period. No need to throw any food dollars out the window.

Payday Report for 11/16/18 Plus Lots of Miscellany

November 16th, 2018 at 06:00 pm

Been a while since I felt well enough to do one of these, but things are improving with the rheumatoid arthritis this week after about three weeks in full inflamation mode and I am typing with relative ease again, which is why I've been posting this week at all.

We had some overtime this week, 10 hours. All of it went to DH's crown, because it turns out our dental insurance didn't cover any of it, even though it said it would when they did the preauthorization. DH is going to talk to HR at work, because the plan they say they have they don't. So that means we have to come up with another $700 or so out of pocket.

I was able to put $600 into the medical fund instead of the usual $400 this payday, but that means that all of that will have to go towards the crown. Fortunately with this deposit there is $961 in the medical fund. We won't have the breathing room I had hoped for, but we will be able to pay for the rest of the crown.

I have done the budget for December and I am including the extra paycheck for November 30th onto that budget and not the November budget, since it is paying for December things. So on 11/30 I can put $400 into the medical fund and on 12/14 I can put in $700, and on 12/28 I can put in $900.

DS has a sleep study on November 26th (at least if they don't reschedule again) and I am not sure how much that will cost us. The family deductible is $2000 and DD has met $1000 of it (her limit), and I know I have met some of it. I think maybe $500. I know DD has met her out of pocket max, but I think that has a per person as well as a per family, too.

So I don't know for sure whether or not we will have any money left for next year's deductible. That $1500 for the crown instead of $750 is blowing us out of the water. Plus DH wants to get new glasses. He's more than due. At least the vision is decent, but it'll still be around $200. He's getting cheap frames no matter what. Nothing fancy. He's already cost us too much medical money with that crown, even if half of it had been covered.

Here's what went out today:

$319.93 Tithe
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_600.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
_596.31 DH's Crown (plus additional from last payday)
__61.74 DH Life Insurance
__60.46 Me Life Insurance
_100.00 Blow Money Adults
_120.00 Allowances
_100.00 Clothing Envelope
_100.00 Christmas Envelope
_172.84 Computer Fund
----------------
3051.38 Total Money Out

DH purchased his new computer online today, so the computer fund is now wiped out. I'll start over in December, but I think at only at $50 a month. We were doing $100 because DH's was on it's last legs and it really felt like a race to the finish line on whether or not it would last until we had the money. His was five years old.

We all have newish computers now. Mine is the oldest at barely two years old and it is still in excellent shape, so there is no urgency to build the fund back up. Still, I want to have something going in there, and it is possible a phone could go and have to be replaced, though it is doubtful. I don't think any of them are a year old yet. Maybe mine. But it is serviceable. Who knows what the status of my computer will be in another year and having the money sitting there to replace it if it goes kaput is always the better option.

Monster Mom Loan Paydown with Chart

November 16th, 2018 at 05:28 pm



I threw another $500 at the Monster Mom Loan today.

$26,500.00 Starting Balance
-__,500.00 Amount Paid
------------
$26,000.00 Balance Remaining

Two more months and it'll be $25,000 left, which is a big milestone achievement for us. I am so looking forward to it.

Medical Money and Cystoscopy Results

November 15th, 2018 at 05:49 pm

The good news is that at least the insurance covered the cystoscopy 100%. There will be ten hours of overtime on tomorrow's paycheck. It is earmarked for the medical fund, though some of it may have to go to pay for DH's crown since the dental insurance, which said they would pay 50%, denied it when it was actually billed. DH has to look into that and also see if he was signed up for the wrong plan and correct it for next year, because he needs another crown.

The dentist says we can do a payment plan, but I am not down for that. We'll pay outright with the OT if we need to. Fortunately there will be another 10 hours of OT on the next paycheck, too. Again all earmarked for medical. I want to build up the medical fund so that when the deductible starts over in January we have plenty of cushion to cover it. I had hoped to have the full deductible amount in there by January, but the dental issue may make that impossible.


TMI Medical:

Well, according to the urologist, there is nothing wrong with my daughter's bladder. No reason for why she peed blood for weeks and why it is still leaking. At least the bleeding has stopped. But the pain hasn't. I am going to call them tomorrow and see if there is a pill or something she can go on that might stop the leaking issue. Otherwise, I think they are done with us. Which sucks, because there is obviously an issue.

I am not sure where to go from here. I am still convinced she has endometriosis and it is strangling her organs from the outside. Endo does not show up on anything. The only way to diagnose it is to do exploratory laparotomy and they won't do that due to her weight because all the gyno surgeons in my state are chickens and more afraid of a malpractice lawsuit than failing to help their patients. And she can't lose weight due to the hypothyroidism and gastroparesis and adrenal issues.

Having dealt with endometriosis myself until the hysterectomy at 33 and knowing that her paternal grandmother also had it before hers, and knowing that they now know it runs in families and since she has all the symptoms, I am pretty darn sure. I just don't know what to do about it. I mean, she did just fine with the gall bladder surgery even though it had to be in the hospital instead of the surgery center so it isn't like surgery can't be done on her. It's an issue of won't.

We have gone to specialist gynocologists in Seattle and they won't do it, either. All they want to do is give you a pill or an implant and send you on your way. But that doesn't always help. It might prevent new stuff from growing, but it doesn't make the old stuff go away and stop strangling organs if adhesions have formed on them.

The endocrine doctor suspects PCOS, but since her pain was never confined to ovulation, I think it is endometriosis. They have many of the same symptoms. When I first was diagnosed, they tried to push PCOS, but I knew what I had based on the limited research I could do (pre-internet, y'all, I used books). And I was right. And I am 99.987% convinced I am right this time. But being right doesn't matter if doctors can't be bothered in treating you because of your weight.

/Rant.

My mother is still not speaking to my son, which is making the house extraordinarily peaceful. She is acting just fine with everyone else. DS is actually relieved. She can't argue with him if she's not speaking to him. We'll see how long that lasts. She'll need him to do something for her sooner or later and I'll push it if she tries to get DH to do it instead, but not before that. I'll say he's too tired and she needs to ask DS instead. DH has been working a lot of OT so it is true.

She needs to stop with the silent treatment. It only punishes her, not her intended target, and it is outright childish. And it only works as a weapon if it bothers the person you are doing it to. I think she wants him to apologize, but since he isn't the one in the wrong, I'm not going to make him. She needs to be the one to do it, but I can count on one hand the number of times my mother has truly apologized for something she has done, so I am not holding my breath. And by truly I mean saying she is sorry for what she did as opposed to I'm sorry you feel that way, which is not in any way, shape, or form an apology. It's an apology dodge. And she doesn't even do those ones often.

This is going to bug me for a bit, but whatever. I am not going to fix it. They may be my monkeys, but this is not my circus.

My Mother is Frustrating Me but I Refuse to Let Her See It

November 14th, 2018 at 06:31 pm

My mother keeps making snide remarks to my son. I have told her in the past that if she has issues with something she needs to talk to me and DH about it, not bring DS or DD into things they have no business being in.

Well, for years she has thought we weren't paying our fair share of the utility bills. Now I know we have been overpaying our share all along. Not because she would show me any of the bills, though, but because I found them and went through them on numerous occasions to make sure we were actually paying enough. I never wanted to be underpaying and made sure we never were.

She was complaining to my son about it yet again, so he said fine, to give him all the bills, and he was going to work it out mathematically, and for some reason she did give him the bills. He added everything up and divided it by five. And sure enough, we are overpaying by $96 a month. And that is for winter numbers. In the summer we are overpaying by close to $200 a month.

And I don't care about that. I know she has a limited income and I've agreed to pay $500 a month plus pay for the internet and the garbage in full. That is our agreement. But now all of a sudden that it has been proven to her that we are actually paying most of her share (her recent contribution to a month of utility bills was less than $35), she can't complain about it anymore. Instead she is picking other fights and bringing up old things that were long ago settled in her favor and that she agreed to move on from.

But she's not doing it with us, she's doing it with DS. I keep telling him to not engage. All he has to say is "Grandma, I don't want to argue with you." And keep repeating it. After saying it four or five times, he needs to say, "Grandma, do you just want to argue? Because I don't, so I'm leaving now."

But instead he keeps engaging. She is not someone you can engage with, because if you do, she then goes into martyr mode if you prove the opposite of her point with logic. It's basically if you don't agree with her opinion than she's never going to speak to you again. Although this only holds until she needs help with something, like getting stuff down off medium and high shelves (she's 5 foot 2) or carrying things in from the car or something goes wrong with her computer. Then she's talking again.

When you refuse to engage, though, it ruins her fun and it drives her crazy. However, it works and she stops doing it. My son can't stand to lose an argument or walk away from one, though. He doesn't understand that it just makes everything worse and then she ends up lashing out at the rest of us for no reason.

She likes to throw out comments like, "I'm sorry I ruined your lives." And I'm just like, "What? No one thinks that." We think she makes our lives more difficult than they need to be, but no one says that to her. We think she makes her life more difficult than it needs to be, too.

She just gets ideas in her head and then thinks they are right, like that we haven't paid enough on utilities, even though we have always overpaid. I don't think she'd be happy unless she was paying nothing and we were still overpaying so she could just keep the extra money, to be honest. But I still don't care, because $500 is what we agreed on. It's gone up as we've lived here as bills went up, which is fine, it is also what we agreed to.

Maybe she's embarrassed because it has been proven what she's been thinking is wrong or because she knows in her heart that she is actually taking advantage of the situation and does this to try to shift her guilt. I don't know. I don't feel like she is ripping us off because we pay the amount we agreed to and I have always felt if she needed that little extra help, it was fine. What I'm not okay with is being harassed over something that is not true and then her switching to something else because it was proven not true. Especially when it is something she claims to have let go of.

The woman has a special talent for driving me crazy. I have a special talent for not letting her see that she is driving me crazy. Which drives her crazy. My little bit of revenge against the crazy, I suppose. I wish she would just grow up already. Too bad you can't tell your mother that, but I am too tired to deal with the kind of shenanigans that would invoke. It all has to slide off. I need my energy for me. So I vent here and not with her and keep the peace. I always keep the peace. Stoic in the face of unreasonableness. Steadfast in having the truth on my side. And petty enough to know it will all drive her right up the wall. You have to have something, though, right?

Weary

November 4th, 2018 at 06:30 pm

Right now I literally just want to go live somewhere else where there are rainbows and kittens and puppies and unicorns and no one is ever sick or in pain and people are kind to each other. I am just so tired, so overwhelmed, and aching so much. Everything hurts right now.

My c-reactive protein level is 14.3 mg/L. It is supposed to be less than 8. I have never had a flare this painful before. I am ridiculously swollen. What's the worst is it is in my back. It has never been in my back before, so it hurts to lay down and it hurts to sit up. When it is just in my arms or my legs or my hip I can usually find a semi-comfortable position, but there isn't one right now.

I am using a combination of valerian root, hydrocodone, sambra (a rub on cream), and a heating pad. I will be so glad when I can start on enbrel. I can't start on it until I get through with the antibiotics for my sinus infection. And we're waiting to see if my insurance will cover it. There's always that.

DD has gone to the ER twice in the last week for IV fluids and morphine. We had so many appointments last week that I am sure all of that sitting in waiting room chairs is what set off this round of inflammation. She's got a cytoscopy scheduled for the 15th so hopefully they will find out why she is still peeing blood.

I will check in when I can, but if I am not posting, the above is the reason why.

Life Continues Unabated

October 29th, 2018 at 11:37 pm

We got the biopsy results back today and there was no sign of disease, so they figure those areas were just badly inflamed. Other than the gastroperesis and an overly large stomach valve, there is nothing wrong with her G.I. tract.

So our next course of battle there is to see if we can wean her off her escitalopram to determine if it is in any way contributing to her extreme nausea and vomiting symptoms. She has not had a panic attack since going on the medicine for adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism. Both of these conditions, when untreated, can lead to symptoms that are very similar to panic attacks, so it is possible she was never having panic attacks, but was instead having adrenal crises.

So we meet with her GP tomorrow about reducing her dose and the schedule for doing it. She would start by going from 10mg to 5mg and then it would be whether that is for two weeks or up to six weeks before dropping to the next level or stopping altogether.

Meanwhile her emergency referral to the urologist came through and they had a cancellation with the P.A. for Thursday so she will be going there Thursday morning. Fortunately that does not interfere with my afternoon appointment with the rheumatologist. Wednesday I have to take Mom to the orthopedic surgeon for what should be her last appointment there and then she has her last PT on Friday. Next week is wonderfully empty of anything at the moment, although I do have to make an appointment for DD for another ACTh stim test and who knows when that will be.

Also on my list is to contact the sleep doctor about getting new c-pap supplies now that we have different insurance. I need to see which place I should go to get them. I also need to go to the doctor myself for a persistent sinus thing, but who has the time? Maybe next week.

I am currently working on chapter thirteen of my novel. Word count is at 32,101. I decided not to do NaNoWriMo. I don't need to pressure myself. I am happy with writing three chapters a week on my own timetable. It's working so why mess with it? It still feels like the only thing that is keeping me sane.

Quickly

October 24th, 2018 at 05:33 pm

I'm checking in quickly about my daughter since some have been asking. Things don't look very good right now. We are waiting on biopsy results for stomach and esophagus. She's been peeing blood since the 17th and the doctor is worried about her kidneys which previously had stable cysts, might be unstable now or possible renal failure starting. CT scan tomorrow. The kid already glows in the dark. Still not keeping food down. It feels like she's dying.

I am overwhelmed, sick, stressed, and pulling in on myself, so probably won't be posting much. Feels like I'm on minimal life support. Prayers appreciated.
Still writing on my novel. It is the only thing keeping me sane.

MIL gave us $2000 because SIL got behind on her bills and she paid them. I was hoping to save for DS's education, but looks like it will probably go for medical bills instead. Money just flies out the window.

Novel Update and College Talk

October 15th, 2018 at 02:04 pm

Tomorrow is DD's procedure and I am so glad the day is nearly here. It has been such a long wait. I hope the results are a definitive diagnosis. I just want them to find something that is going to be solvable, that can finally give us a cure for her suffering.

I spent a lot of time writing this weekend and finished chapters seven and eight and part of chapter nine on book one. I also wrote a page and a half of back story for one character and then a long scene from book 3. So that all is proceeding nicely.

I'm thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo next month. I've always had things interfering in November before or been completely uninspired at that time of year. Lack of inspiration does not seem to be an issue anymore, and it will give me an extra incentive to keep writing. Not that I really need one right now. I'm being driven pretty hard by the story in my own brain.

I've got two beta readers at the moment who check for grammar errors and continuity and possible inconsistencies, then generally just cheerlead, so that is helpful, too. It's a lot different from when I was writing fanfiction several years ago, because there isn't that immediate feedback when you are posting chapters, so having cheerleaders is important to the process. It's also important that I am treating this like a job and carving out a few hours a day to work on it.

Once I finish the first book, I plan on getting it professionally edited, which is about $700 for a 400 page novel if I use the one editor I'm looking at. I don't know if I can find someone who would do it for less. At that price they do two passes through the novel. It's a lot of money to spend up front, but I've seen self-published books on Amazon that have not been edited and they are a nightmare to read. I'm adding a line item to the budget to start saving for it.

My hope is eventually to make enough with this to help pay for my son's college and pay off the Monster Mom Loan. DS is finally figuring out what he wants to do and it will be some form of engineering. He has taken one tour at the technical college for control systems and technology and he'll be taking another one next week for mechanical engineering. Right now he is leaning towards the first one.

The placement rate at the technical college for control systems is 100% at the moment, and their before graduation job placement is 61% with 39% being placed at or just after graduation. The placement rate for mechanical is 97%. If he takes the course for the former, there is a good chance he can get a job at DH's work.

So now we just have to figure out how to pay for this. It is going to be around $15,000 for a 7 quarter course, including books and supplies. If he takes mechanical it is a little less because it is a 6 quarter course. He would graduate with an AS, with transferability to Western if he wants to pursue a BA one day.

I really, really don't want him to have to take out loans and I won't take them out, so we've got to get this sorted. He doesn't have the math yet, so his goal for the next year and a half is to get his math where it needs to be. He's basically completed everything else he needs for me to graduate him except 1/2 a quarter of American History and 1/2 a quarter of English. But he's been lagging on the math. Now that he knows what direction he wants to go in, it seems to finally be starting a fire under him.

I am planning to save our tax return, but I'm not sure how much that will cover. We won't be getting any credit for having children, since he's eighteen now. We haven't contributed enough to the 401K this year for that to lower our taxes and I'm not sure our medical expenses will be deductible this year, since we are not paying for our own insurance out of pocket with post tax dollars this year. I haven't done the math yet on the expenses we have paid, but I don't think we're going to hit the percentages required despite feeling like we are constantly paying medical bills. We'll be able to deduct our tithing, but that may not be enough on its own for us to itemize.

Still, it ought to be enough to pay for at least one quarter, maybe two. I can nickel and dime a lot, but the big issue is that we still have to make a loan payment to my mother each month. If MIL gives us any more money this year we can save some of it for college costs, too.

I'm hoping DS will be able to get a job soon. It's hard when no one is even responding to his applications. That is what I really hate about online applying. When you could go in and hand the application to a manager in person, they had to deal with you a little bit. This faceless, easy to ignore way of dealing with things the fast food places do these days is irritating. But they won't even accept applications in person. It makes me mad when they continue to post help wanted signs and yet never respond to the applications in any way. He has completely open availability, too. So frustrating.

Well, anyway, that's what is going on in the Robin's Nest right now. I best get back to my chapter now.

Just Trying to Keep Her Alive

October 10th, 2018 at 02:20 pm

Things are getting pretty bad for my daughter. It really feels like we are fighting for her life here and everything is just too darn slow. Her hair has been falling out for a while now, but now it is starting to come out in clumps.

She had a lot of hair to start with so it wasn't so noticeable, just the sheer amount on her pillow or when she brushed her hair or that we were pulling out of the shower drain showed it. But now it is starting to get much more obvious. She wants to just cut it very short, but then the clumps will be very obvious. Right now she just looks like she has thin hair.

She went to the ER on Thursday because on top of the same symptoms her nose had been bleeding for six hours. Then she went in again on Sunday because it felt like her head was going to explode and she collapsed. They did a CT of her head and found nothing.

I wonder if this all can be caused by starvation and dehydration? Almost everything she eats comes up now, sometimes even as she is eating it. It is so frightening. The only thing I don't understand is why she isn't losing any weight. How can you not lose weight when the food doesn't stay in the system?

She's basically eating baby food now. Homemade baby food, but everything is pureed to try to help her digest it and we have eliminated a lot of foods altogether. She can't have lectins, so beans and lentils are out. She can't eat beef, pork, or lamb. She can have chicken, rabbit, or turkey if it is teeny, like in cream of chicken soup, but not very much of it. She had been doing okay on fish, but that's coming up now, too. She's had to eliminate all but a few fruits and vegetables, anything with a lot of fiber. She can't stomach whole grains or nuts or seeds. It's a nutritional nightmare.

Her endoscopy and colonoscopy are scheduled for the 16th. Only six more days now. It can't come fast enough. I am so, so worried about her. I worry she won't be strong enough to do it, or that she will have a fever and they'll try to reschedule. It took us 3 months to get this appointment. If she has to wait that long again, I really do think she will die.

Her endocrinologist got back to us with test results from the latest blood draw and even though they doubled her meds for adrenal insufficiencey, her cortisol levels are not, as he put it, reassuring. So now he wants her to repeat the ACH stim test, the one that almost crashed her the first time. It's been a few months and has to be done in the hospital at the same place where they do chemo and infusions. We are just waiting on the go ahead from the insurance company to schedule that. Her dose may have to go up further depending on the results.

The hypothyroidism meds were raised by 50 mg or mcg, I don't remember the actual unit, the last time and they didn't say anything about that, so I'm hoping those are doing okay now. The stress is messing with my stomach. I just want her to be well again. And then I want us not to fall back into some kind of financial nightmare due to medical bills. So far we are staying ahead of them with the Medical Fund, but that may not be enough. I still have $4000 in the Emergency Fund.

Writing is helping me cope. I've completed five chapters (12,347 words) on the first book in the trilogy and am ready to write the next chapter once I get this posted. I am glad I have this escape right now. You don't know how badly I just want to be able to run away from life right now and being able to write is keeping me grounded, even if I'm on another planet in my head.

Another New Baby--Prayers Please

October 5th, 2018 at 03:45 pm

Well, my newest great niece was born yesterday at 32 weeks gestation. She weighed 3 pounds exactly. So far she seems to be doing okay, but you just never know with preemies. They saved her cord blood for my nephew's wife and will be using that in her treatment eventually as well as starting the chemotherapy in the next day or so after his wife recovers some from the birth. The baby wasn't positioned correctly for a regular birth so they had to operate which means a bit more recovery time before they can start the chemo. They have named her Phoenix. It is one of the most appropriately symbolic names they could have given her. I hope this entire family manages to rise from the ashes.

Payday Report for 10/5/18

October 5th, 2018 at 03:36 pm

I do have some money leftover after paying all the bills for this pay period, but I am going to try to hold onto it, because DD had to go to the ER last night for IV fluids. I may need it for medical expenses, since the Medical Fund, including what I am putting in today, is basically wiped out after DH's new crown. The 16th cannot come soon enough for DD. I just hope they find something and it is something that can be fixed during the procedures.

$268.72 Tithe
_500.00 October Utilities
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
_275.00 Monthly Chiropractor Family Plan
__91.91 Internet
__36.00 Garbage Envelope
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
_100.00 Gas Money
_100.00 Car Insurance
_120.00 Allowances
-------------
2416.63 Total Money Out

I Made It

October 3rd, 2018 at 07:46 pm

I made it through my super long day of three appointments, but the minute I got home from the last one around four o'clock I put on my nightgown and curled up in bed. DS asked if I was going to sleep and I said no, I was just done with clothes for the day. There is comfort in my big, comfy nightie and since I had nothing left to do for the day, other than make dinner, it was good.

I managed to write 4500 words last night and about 1000 so far today, though I hope to get another spurt in. My plot took a twist today that I hadn't planned but I am really thrilled about and I am eager to get back to it, although it may not be until tomorrow. There is only one thing on the agenda for tomorrow, so I should be able to get in a few hours.

I went with a super easy dinner tonight. I have two pounds of wild Argentinian shrimp in the Instant Pot and some Yukon Gold Potatoes in the Power Pressure Cooker XL. The shrimp only takes one minute from frozen once it gets up to pressure. I threw in a bunch of butter and garlic with it. I could have put in some wine as well, but I was being lazy and not wanting to look for the corkscrew. Since I only rarely use wine and only in cooking, it tends to fall to the bottom of the drawer and finding it means intense reorganization that I was so not into today.

I have to say I really love two electric pressure cookers. When I have something so fast that I can get on the table and the later cleanup is easy as can be, it just makes my life so much easier.

In my down time I am currently binge watching Pretty Little Liars. I am finally on season seven and eagerly awaiting the outcome, but I have had to give myself a limit of episodes a day so I can get my writing time in. So I guess I am only semi-binge watching. Then I'll go back to slowly getting caught up on Doctor Who via disk since Netflix doesn't stream Doctor Who anymore. I am a few episodes into the second season of the 12th Doctor, so I am quite a ways behind.

Even though I am super tired due to lack of sleep last night, I feel better today than I did yesterday, although it may be a false euphoria from my writing mania. Either way, I'll take it.

And on and on and on

October 2nd, 2018 at 06:06 pm

I am so wiped out. I really need to go the the doctor for myself, but that is not to be. Tomorrow is going to be a pretty awful day. DD has an appointment at 8 a.m., so no sleeping in. Mom has an appointment at 10:40 and then another one at 2:30 and at some point I have to squeeze in a run to the chiropractor's office. I will be sitting in waiting room chairs far too much tomorrow.

This paragraph is probably TMI, but I don't care.
You can skip to the next one. Thursday was supposed to be a day with nothing on it, but we had to schedule a redo for my daughter's pap smear, because apparently there were not enough cells in the sample. It's a rarity for that to happen, so of course it happened to her. So we have to go back in on Thursday and she really doesn't want to because it was really painful the first time.

Then also on Thursday Mom decided to schedule a doctor's appointment without asking me what I had going on, so I have to squeeze that in, too. Her blood pressure has been running high for the last week, so it is necessary, but it is at on office that takes forever to call back their patients. One hour waits are the norm, so it will be painful. On Friday Mom has more physical therapy. If I make it to next week, there is just PT on Monday and Friday since she will be dropping down to just twice a week, so maybe I can get in to see the doctor myself.

Friday is also payday, so I will have to do all the banking and then grocery shopping. The ads came today so I will sit down with them and try to plan a coherent list and plan out my two week meal plan.

On the plus side, physical exhaustion and running around like a chicken with her head cut off seems to have reengaged my creative brain. I've written 6000 words on one of my novels in the last two days and about 10,000 words in the last week. Not, mind you, the first book in the trilogy, but the third, because those are the characters wanting to be written. Whatever. I go with whatever gets the words out of my head.

I am drinking far too much caffeine though. I think I've got myself addicted again, but I'm not going to try to get off it again until next week when things calm down a bit. I'm also not eating that great, a lot of sandwiches, which is far too many carbs for me, but I am just too tired to try to do it right right now.

Anyway, I best get back to real life. No rest for the weary. Just thought I'd throw out an update for my sanity's sake.

New Baby and Too Much Cancer in the Family

September 30th, 2018 at 06:50 pm

My husband's niece had a baby girl yesterday, though I doubt we'll ever see her. MIL sent a picture, though and left a gift with MIL to give her. It'll probably come back to us, but we made the effort. We asked if she wanted us to come up to the hospital or not, but got no response.

This is from the violent side of the family that we broke ties with on Thanksgiving when they physically threatened us. This is the second niece on that side to get pregnant very young and out of wedlock and lives at the poverty level. Her older sister is also pregnant again, from the same guy, still not married, living at the poverty level. He seems to be over his substance abuse issues for the time being.

On the other side of the family, my nephew's pregnant wife has leukemia. They are going to take the baby at 32 weeks and then do intensive chemo on his wife. There is a very real chance that his wife won't make it. Her mother also has cancer, but in the brain and isn't expected to survive. They haven't been married very long and now my nephew is at risk of being a young widow after less than a year of marriage with a premature baby and a five-year-old he is in the process of adopting. And the baby will have a higher risk of cancer because of both mother and grandmother having it. Not to mention there is also cancer on his side of the family. The baby shower was yesterday.

My husband's aunt's cancer is back, too. It is breast cancer, but it has spread to the lungs and they are saying 2 months to a year. She is very old, though, in her early 80's and also has a bad heart. It is a little different there, because we were expecting end of life to happen. Not quite the same as when you are in your twenties. Still just as tragic, though. It just sucks.

It is like when it rains it pours with cancer. A couple of decades ago cancer seemed so rare. Now you can't throw a stick without hitting someone who has it or who is dying of it.

I worry about MIL, though. FIL hasn't been dead a year from cancer and now her sister is going to die of it. Can we please just have some joy now? I am tired of all the crap.

Medical, Medical, It's Always Medical

September 28th, 2018 at 01:09 pm

I've been losing my financial focus a little bit lately. Taking care of Mom and shlepping her back and forth to physical therapy and taking my daughter to multiple doctors appointments and blood draws has been very draining and we have gotten fast food twice this week because of it. I had one day where I could barely move because I sat in waiting room chairs for 3 hours the day before. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a painful disease and I think I've used more painkillers this week than I have in a year. I've also been drinking caffeine which is not a habit I want to get back into, but it feels like it is the only thing that is keeping me going.

So far, these are the things that are wrong with my daughter:

Granuloma anularae
Gastroperesis
Hypothyroidism
Adrenal Insufficiency
Nearly legally blind in one eye
Brain damage from the skull fracture a few years ago, though she has mostly learned to work around that, it affects her reading and her ability to process numbers quickly
PCOS and/or Endometriosis
Hip Dysplasia (born with)
Depression and Extreme Anxiety (controlled with drugs)
Some as yet undiagnosed auto immune disease (blood markers for something, but they don't know what)

It is expensive to be this ill. I am hoping we can get her on disability at some point, that point being before she is 26 and gets kicked off our health insurance. Maybe sooner. That way it can help pay for her medical bills or to purchase an insurance plan for her. She is unable to function well because of the pain and exhaustion and frequent vomiting from the gastroperesis that leads to dehydration and malnutrition. Some days the medicine helps, other days it does not. She has to be super careful on what she eats and her choices are quite limited.

I do not think she will ever be self-sufficient and be able to leave home. Every time she seems to be getting better another malady turns up and she gets worse again. But at least they are finally finding things. Things that are not easily treatable, but still, having diagnoses helps mentally.

Car Insurance Due and How We Pay it in Full

September 21st, 2018 at 02:39 pm

I got my bill recently for the next six months of car insurance. I have been setting aside $100 a month every month in the Car Insurance Fund. The bill is $567.14 if paid in full. I save $67.66 by not paying it month to month, because they charge a convenience fee each month to do it that way.

Now, it still feels like I am paying month to month, because I have a line item on the budget for it each month and it still disappears from my checking account, but I would much rather do it like this and save that extra money. In order to get ahead like this, a couple of years ago we used some money from our tax return to pay the six months in full and then started saving each month after that. I know some budgets are tight so it would be hard to pay each month and save for the fund, but by doing it like this we didn't have to. We were able to immediately start saving into the fund that month.

So not only do I save that $67.66 off my bill, I also end up with a cushion of $32.86 sitting in the fund to start off with since I am slightly oversaving. Of course I don't know what the six months after this will cost, so if it goes up, we have that cushion, plus the next one if necessary to add to our in full payment. A little insurance on our insurance, if you will.

I do the same thing with other funds. Like right now I am saving $100 a month in the Computer Fund. I could get 12 months same as cash or I could save for several months ahead of time and have the money sitting there ready to go when the next computer or camera or phone other electronic device goes belly up. If the money is there, I can still choose to do the same as cash option, knowing I can pay it off at any time, or I can just pay it off.

Some people aren't so good at paying it off in the allotted time, but we have always been. I figure we might need it to jolly our credit report along at some point, since we are using so little credit these days. If we ever finish the debt payoff and save up enough to put a down payment on a house again, we will need a good credit score. So even if we do the deal and pay it off after three months, it activates the credit report. But the point is, I don't want to have to do it that way. I want to use it as a tool, not have it use me.

I think it is good to have sinking funds like this. It keeps you from being walloped by an unexpected, but really what should be expected, expense. We all know our cars will have insurance due every six months, but to many it is just a big surprise every time it happens because they don't budget for it. We all know computers break down, that Christmas comes every year, that the kids will need clothes and shoes. Budgeting as we go, so we don't get smacked with the expense, just makes sense. And it helps prevent using credit cards and getting further into debt, which is the most important thing, at least for us.

Payday Report for 9/21/18

September 21st, 2018 at 02:22 pm

I did not go down to the last dollar this time. I have about $250 left in checking. There may be one more autopay yet to come through and then anything else I am holding on to for upcoming medical bills. DH was wrong about the last paycheck not having overtime on it. It had 10 hours. This one is a true representation of base pay with no OT and all of the various insurances and the 401K being taken out.

$268.77 Tithe
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
_100.00 Household Envelope
_352.30 Autopays
__56.83 Life Insurance DH
__45.30 Life Insurance Me
_100.00 Adults Blow Money
_120.00 Kid's Allowances
_100.00 Clothing Envelope
_100.00 Holiday Envelope
_100.00 Laptop Fund
---------
2232.31 Total Money Out

Mom, Preliminary Grocery Planning, and Cooking Lessons

September 19th, 2018 at 09:06 pm

Mom's surgery went well, though she is in quite a bit of pain. I saw her yesterday afterwards, but she called and told me not to come today. I had not planned to go until after dinner, and by then she was just too tired and hurting and wanted to just sleep. So I will go up and see her tomorrow unless she it too tired and sore again. She's supposed to come home on Friday, so hopefully the pain will be manageable by then. She doesn't want to take Oxycodone because of hallucinations or Hydrocodone because it makes her feel unclear in the head. We'll see what she ends up actually coming home with.

The grocery ads came in the mail today so I started a preliminary grocery list. It is not a good sales week except for meat. They have whole chickens on for $1.49/lb, top round roast for $2.99/lb, wild cod for $6.49/lb and sirloin steaks for $5/lb. So that means I will likely go to Costco and TJ's for veggies.

I usually throw a whole chicken in the Instant Pot twice a week to make broth and then my daughter eats the meat as chicken is about all she can stomach. I use some of it, but mostly she is living on that chicken plus white rice and broth all week. It's bland enough for her to keep it down. I make the rice with some of the broth, too, so it has some flavor.

I hope to find a flank steak on mark down as I'd like to teach my son how to make beef teriyaki this coming week. Failing that, Costco should have one decently priced.

DS and I are doing Home Economics. Part of that is he is reading the Dave Ramsey books, but another part is cooking. The first Unit in my cooking course (designed by me) is Wok This Way and is teaching him to make all the different stir-fries. So far he has learned Black Pepper Chicken, Chicken and Broccoli, Chinese Pepper Steak, and Garlic Chicken and Green Beans. On the agenda is the Beef Teriyaki, but I'd also like to do Mandarin Chicken and Mongolian Beef and what is basically Almond Fried Chicken without the almonds. We don't like almonds, but we like the crispy chicken and the Chinese brown gravy. We sprinkle sesame seeds on top instead.

We will also do a baking unit (doughnuts, bread, rolls, pie, cinnamon rolls, English muffins, lemon poppy seed muffins, cornbread, brownies, cake, cookies, croissants, biscuits), a pressure cooking unit (mostly Instant Pot), a casserole unit, a meat and potatoes style unit, a Mexican unit, and an Italian unit (pizza, penne, spaghetti, ravioli, tortellini). Some things will overlap, like Enchilada casserole or baked penne casserole which each could be classified in two groups.

We do about two lessons a week right now and I build it into the meal plan. It feels good to know he will know his way around the kitchen and we are really enjoying the time together and I appreciate having the help in cutting up the foods and cleaning up. I also like knowing he will know how to make better than restaurant quality food for much less money than restaurant prices. Having a second major cook in the house will be great, too, on the days when I don't feel like cooking or my hands hurt too much. DH can make a few things, but his repertoire is limited. DS is going to be able to rule the kitchen when I am done with him!

Lots of Medical Expenses Forthcoming, But Then What Else is New?

September 17th, 2018 at 10:44 pm

Well, I made it through two of Monkey Mama's long posts without being logged out, so I am going to attempt to actually post an entry today. There hasn't been too much going on financially, but that's because we haven't been billed yet. Once things run through the insurance and we get billed, I expect we are going to take a big hit in the next couple of weeks. But our out of pocket max on the new insurance is $2400 per family, so it'll be capped at that.

So last week on Monday DD had an appointment at the gastroenterologist and she decided that DD needed to have a gastric emptying test, which is a very long test in a freezing cold room with a gamma camera. That may take DD's deductible and out of pocket max right there. For those who have no clue what this test entails, they feed you radioactive egg whites, 2 pieces of white bread and jam. Then they put you in one of those doughnut-shaped machines, but it is not a CT scanner.

They take a picture of your stomach to start for a minute, then later they do it for 30 minutes, then wait an hour, do it again for a few minutes and repeat like that until 4 and 1/2 hours are up. All the little specks of food glow on the camera and the computer counts how many there are at each interval. The room is kept cold to keep the camera cool. I really could have used a blanket. And the waiting chair was atrocious. It took me until today to have my back, hips, and tailbone feel normal again and the test was on Thursday.

On Tuesday last DD and I both had dental appointments while DH had one on Monday with the new dentist, which we didn't actually have to pay anything on because we have dental insurance now. DH had a $50 co-pay, but that is it for the year on co-pays for normal services. He's going to have to have a crown though, and that will cost us $670 out of pocket, but at least they cover half. He will need some cavities filled at some point as well.

I do like the new dentist and the new receptionist, but I am very grateful that my hygienist is the same person. I get anxious at the dentist and I don't like change. But I really like the new dentist a lot. He reminds me of Dr. Sweets on Bones, but without the curls, even though he is of East Indian descent. Facial structure, nose, and eye shape are almost identical. He's a very nice man, too. And I got a clean bill of health on my teeth. The only part of me that isn't falling apart, I guess.

On Friday I took DS to the eye doctor. We have vision insurance now, but we still had to pay $179 out of pocket between the exam and the glasses. That's okay, though, it is still way cheaper than $480 and I knew it would cost something. It'll be a couple of weeks before his glasses come, though.

My rheumatologist cancelled my appointment and couldn't rebook until November. I mean, seriously? She had another family emergency. She has A LOT of those. This is the fourth appointment in a year and a half that has been cancelled due to that. She's younger than I by about 15 years, so I doubt it is aging parents, but you never know.

Tomorrow is Mom's surgery, but she is driving herself there. We will pick up the Jimmy when we take her walker up later when she is out of surgery and in a room. They don't want the patients bringing their stuff up when they go in because they say they don't have any place to store the stuff. I find that less than believable considering I've seen some of the storage areas, but whatever. That's what they do. Mom should be in the hospital until Friday.

On Wednesday, DS goes to the dentist and then on Thursday I have to take DD in for labs. Next week starts 3 days a week of taking Mom to PT and DD has appointments that week for the endocrine doctor and the gynecologist. Endocrine doctor thinks DD has PCOS, so we will bring that up with gyno. Maybe we can actually get something done about it, but doubtful.

So yeah, it's been a big couple of weeks for medical stuff and I don't know what most of it will cost, but at least there is a cap. October brings DD's endoscopy and colonoscopy and DS's consult with a sleep doctor and possible scheduling of a sleep study. Plus lots of shuttling Mom to PT. Prayers that I don't go insane taking care of everyone but myself would be lovely!

I am looking forward to payday on Friday. I don't like only getting paid every two weeks. I know I will eventually get used to it, but I still don't like it. Even though everything is going fine with the budget and running smoothly. It is just weird and I hate change with a passion, as you all know.

I made up some TV dinners tonight. I made turkey meat in the Instant Pot and a combo of sweet potatoes, carrots, red potatoes, onions and green beans in the Power Cooker XL and a thin gravy in a skillet and then mixed it all together in some of those Glad plastic containers. I came very close to it tasting like the Stouffer's Fit Kitchen turkey dinner. We had some for dinner tonight and then I froze 3 dinners and put one in the fridge for lunch tomorrow.

My nutrition has been slipping lately or I've often gone to eating just once a day because of the stress. I have a couple of days with Mom gone where I can do some big batch cooking and get some stir-fry TV dinners in the freezer as well. Then when I am taking care of her and don't have much time to take care of me, I can just heat these up and eat them without worrying about it being garbage food. These will give me some lunches, at least. I do well on two meals a day, but really not on one and snacking on junk food.

Mom has also bought TV dinners this time. She refused to get them last time because she thought I could just cook her dinner every night from scratch after cooking for my family every night. IF she would eat what I made for my family, no big deal, but she's picky about what she eats, so she wanted me to cook our meal and then a whole other meal for her. After also cooking her breakfast and lunch. I don't have the energy for that. She also likes things that take a long time to prepare and a lot of baby-sitting the stove. I hate that type of cooking.

So at least she is eating the TV dinners, and I only have to make her breakfast and lunch and then dinner is easy. She also bought waffles, so I should only have to toast them and make a couple of fried eggs for her breakfast, which is easy. Lunch will probably be some kind of grilled or hot sandwich and soup, which is also easy. I'm just glad she finally realized just how hard it is on me, physically, to take care of her. Not to mention mentally, though she will never get that.

Okay, that turned into quite a rant, but sometimes you just need to vent.

Two Week Meal Plan

September 7th, 2018 at 02:04 pm

I made up another two week meal plan to go with my two week shopping plan. I also made my plan based on what I have on hand and what is available in the garden right now. There is a good chicken sale this week so we will be having a lot of chicken stir-fries. There is also shrimp and cod on sale and pot roasts. I will buy two extra for later in the month as I can't beat $3.99/lb on those.

Day One:
Beef Pot Roast
Baked Potatoes
Roasted Zucchini
Fresh Plums (from the garden)

Day Two:
5 Spice Chicken Stir-fry with Vegetables
Rice
Fresh Plums

Day Three:
Chinese Pepper Steak
Rice
Fresh Plums

Day Four:
Char Sui
Herbed Potatoes
Green Beans
Cantaloupe

Day Five:
Baked Chicken
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Broccoli
Cantaloupe

Day Six:
Sirloin Steaks
Jamaican Stir-fried Cabbage
Roasted Potatoes
Pears

Day Seven:
Garlic Chicken and Green Beans Stir-fry
Sweet Potatoes
Pears

Day Eight:
Spaghetti with Meatballs
Garlic Bread
Salad
Apples

Day Nine:
BBQ Meatloaf
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Canned Pineapple

Day Ten:
Homemade Pizza
Cole Slaw
Fresh Plums

Day Eleven:
Tacos
Canned Pineapple

Day Twelve:
Penne Pasta with Sausage, Zucchini, and Tomatoes
Fresh Plums

Day Thirteen:
Fish and Chips
Cole Slaw
Pears

Day Fourteen:
Shrimp Scampi
Vegetable Skewers
Roasted Root Vegetables

Payday Report for 9/7/18

September 7th, 2018 at 01:54 pm

This paycheck had the real numbers on it of what the base pay will be. No overtime. So after I get the next one I will know for sure how much income there is in a month. I am hoping they are splitting the insurances 50/50 and not taking it all out of one paycheck. If so, then we'll be bringing home more than I thought, but it still won't compare to all that overtime. Hopefully in October there will be OT again.

$319.93 Tithe
_500.00 Utilities
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
_100.00 Household Envelope
__91.91 Internet
__36.00 Garbage
_100.00 Car Insurance Fund
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
_100.00 Gas Money Envelope
_120.00 Allowances
_325.89 Credit Card
_500.00 Monster Mom Loan
---------
3318.73 Total Money Out


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