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Insurance Decision, Job Hunt

August 26th, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Well, we have decided what we are going to do about insurance. We are going to buy the Regence gold plan through Costco that starts October 1st. We are going to pay out of pocket anything for September and not do the COBRA, because it will be far cheaper.

We, however, can do the COBRA retroactively for September if something happens, like a major hospitalization, so a big emergency medical issue is covered. We have up to 60 days to do a retroactive COBRA.

Also we won't get fined by the government for missing a month of insurance. Apparently you get 3 months between losing your insurance and getting a new one before you'll get fined. I hate that part of the ACA. It's punitive and stupid and a money grab. Insurance should be available to anyone who needs it, but not enforced with what amounts to an unconstitutional tax. *sighs*

I added up everything we will be doing in September and it is far, far cheaper to do it this way. It is also a lot easier. We can sign up for our plan and just send them the paperwork when we finally get it. That is a big weight off our shoulders.

It's still pretty pricey, at $1543 for 4 people, but that beats the $2230.17 by a lot. And it's such better insurance $2000 family deductible. $8 generic prescriptions. $20 co-pay for doctors. Better dental. Better vision. I know we probably will be paying out of pocket for a while, but our money will still go a lot further this way.

DH's unemployment will just cover that and hopefully he will find a new job before the 6.5 months of unemployment runs out. I just wish he could get WA state unemployment and not be stuck with Alaska unemployment. WA state is almost double Alaska.

He's got a couple more leads and someone asked him to send his resume for a specific job so hopefully that leads somewhere. It would be a very good long-term job, contracted directly to parent company, not these sub contractors that come and go. So cross your fingers, and say prayers if you do that for us please.

Meanwhile DH has completed his entry essay for the BS, which I corrected about 5 times, but it was very good by the end. He's sent for his transcripts to be sent there, so the ball is rolling on that.

I am trying not to let things overwhelm me. It is easier with DH home. He has a calming influence on me.

We got DH's last paycheck today. Once this is gone we will have to start dipping into the Emergency Fund. I will try to make it last as long as possible.

Question on AMEX Every Day Blue Cash Card

August 26th, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Back in April when I got my new AMEX card, part of the deal was that if I spent so much in the first 3 months I was supposed to get a cash reward. We easily met the $3000 spending in the first two months, but so far there is no sign of that cash reward. Shouldn't it have shown up by now? It's been 4 months.

I can't see it as a credit on the account anywhere and they didn't put it on any of the statements as a check or anything so is there a special place I should be looking for it or to redeem it? It's not in the redeem rewards section.

I just want to double check any obvious places before I call them and ask what is going on. Does it actually take longer than 4 months before they issue the reward?

Medical Insurance through Costco

August 24th, 2016 at 10:28 pm

Did you know you can get medical insurance through Costco? I mean, it's not Costco insurance, but they offer plans through major medical insurers that actually seem quite reasonable, or at least in comparison to our COBRA, and it is much easier to navigate than the ACA Exchanges.

We are looking at a plan through Regence. Unfortunately the soonest we can get on it is October 1st, which would mean going September with no insurance. Or paying COBRA for September. And I'm not sure if we can start the COBRA and then switch in October. Being laid off is an event that qualifies you to purchase medical at a non-enrollment time. Quitting a COBRA is not a qualifying event, though running out of COBRA is.

The open enrollment period is November 1st, but I don't know if that means it starts November 1st. I am just afraid we will have to pay COBRA for a couple of months before we can buy the less expensive but far better insurance. That will diminish our Emergency Fund fast.

DH is going to have to get some more questions answered. I just wish we could start on September 1st, but apparently to do that, you need to have enrolled on August 15th. Ugh. We haven't even gotten the paperwork we need to get either the COBRA or the insurance at a non-open enrollment time, either. September is going to be a frustrating month. I may have to reschedule an appointment of mine until October.

We have been pushing hard to get everything done that we can. We've all been to the dentist this month and my son goes in for an eye exam tomorrow to see if he needs new glasses. But we may wait to get them until we are on the Regence insurance because it looks like they cover kids' glasses 100%.

I am going to try to get an eye exam in as well at Lenscrafters. I won't buy glasses there, but I do see the doctor there, because you can get in fast. I won't be able to get glasses as I got them a year ago, but I want to see whether or not my prescription has changed. I'm having some issues with night vision while driving (so I've stopped driving at night as much as possible).

I had my labs done and so did my daughter so we are good on those for a year. We're going to get as many prescriptions renewed as possible before the end of the month. I've been working on getting a stash of high blood pressure and high cholesterol drugs, because they will let me renew those every three weeks, so I've got a two month supply and if I can get one more in this month then I shouldn't have to get those until the insurance situation is all sorted out.

This is complicated. I know we'll come through it and out the other side, but I wish it didn't have to be so hard, or so expensive.

There was Fire Under all that Smoke

August 22nd, 2016 at 03:15 pm

I was right to be suspicious about something not adding up about DH not getting hired by company b, when parent company was so strongly recommending they hire him. Someone at company b sat on his resume. Claimed he never received it, although DH put it directly in his hands, and followed up with him numerous times over the past several months, until the guy suddenly went silent 3 weeks ago.

Also another employee with parent company put it directly in his hands as well and has come forward to say so. The first guy also claimed DH was never even at the first interview, when he was the second person interviewed and where there were multiple other people to verify he was there, not to mention 2 other people doing the interviews with this guy.

It looks like he made sure the resume was not there for the actual hiring process, so that the other guy would be hired, despite parent company's wishes that DH be in that position. It is being investigated by parent company and probably company b, too. DH has digital evidence and whatnot to back up his side of things. There's always a paper trail. I guess people don't realize just how easy it is to get caught in a lie these days.

Which is all well and good, but right now DH still doesn't have a job or a job offer. We do not know whether the guy who got the job colluded or just the first guy, but I suspect both, based on past behavior of the guy who was hired. They are friends.

I am shocked and yet at the same time I'm not. I knew something wasn't right. I just knew it. And now I am extremely frustrated that something like this would happen to someone like DH who is so kind, hard-working, and well-liked up there. He has a sterling reputation. It's just wrong.

Man, people can be such jerks. If you can't get the job fair and square, why not stack the deck and cheat and who cares who it hurts? How do people like that sleep at night? My only consolation is that if it is proven, he will probably be canned so hard that he'll never work up there again.

DH is pursing ND at this point and a few other things. Hopefully something will come up soon. He's home now and will go down and apply for unemployment tomorrow.

COBRA and BS (College)

August 17th, 2016 at 07:13 pm

I really wanted to title it COBRA BS, but no. I found out how much the COBRA is going to cost us. It's not as high as the $2500 we originally thought, but it is still $2230.17 a month. We're going to have to see if we can't find something cheaper.

All we really need is catostrophic coverage. It is cheaper to pay out of pocket for all our medical stuff than to pay that kind of money for insurance. We'd go without if I wasn't afraid something big might happen. Or that the government would steal our tax refund as punishment.

DH will start investigating when he gets home on Monday. Right after he goes down to apply for unemployment. There's got to be something else that isn't going to drain our resources like that. Unemployment won't even come close to covering the cost of that. Considering how much he has paid into Unemployment over the years, he really ought to be getting more than he will be, but that's not how it really works.

Mom said we can completely suspend our loan payments to her until DH finds a new job. So that will help. It's not something I like at all, but we've got to make our savings last as long as possible. Unless company b comes in with a last minute offer, we are operating on the idea of Sunday being DH's last day of work.

We are also looking at DH starting his BS in Electrical Engineering. There are times when 20 years of experience, a strong recommendation from parent company, and two AS's still don't count as much as a BS in the hiring process. Of course ultimately, BS with only a few years of experience washes out and then DH gets hired, because book learning is never the same as real life on the job experience, but some HR people only want what looks good on paper (book learning) and always have to learn the hard way. Especially with this one guy who keeps getting hired over DH over the years and yet in the end DH is the one who ends up with the job when this guy can't handle it.

With college we'd go through our savings even faster, but in the long run it will help us so much for him to have that that I think we have to do it. If he does full time it would be $10,800 a year. We are looking at half time, though, as hopefully he'll be working at something, so $5,400. He'd do it completely online. We think all or most of his credits should transfer and he'll be able to just start at 3rd year, but he'll have to have a transcript review done, which of course costs money, too.

I won't take out loans. I'm not going down that road. Both kids have said they would get jobs to contribute. Can you believe that? I don't want it to come to that, though. Especially with my daughter, who is fragile in both health and mental health and has her next year of college paid for.

I have been trying to think of things I can do, though it is hard with my disabilities. I can't work a job where I'd be on my feet all day like when I was a cook without severe pain and with me being out of the workforce for 20 years, I'm not sure any of my bookkeeping or office skills would be current. My jobs were summer farm work, babysitting, Visiting Nurse chore worker, cook, tutor (but in outdated things like Word Perfect and DOS and Peachtree and Ten-Key calculator and old Data Entry systems), and receptionist/bookkeeper. Most of that I can't do anymore because of my physical limitations. I am broken and obsolete.

So hopefully DH finds something. Something in the $5000 a month take home range with semi-decent medical insurance so we can keep paying Mom and I can keep up with the out of pocket physical therapy that keeps me walking and gardening and taking care of our mini-farm. We can survive on less, but without the PT life would be miserable for me. And without being able to pay Mom back, it wouldn't be roses, either.

If he can find that until he can find something better, we will be just fine. I keep hoping for a last minute miracle, but I really do not think we are going to get one.

Well, I Wasn't Lazy

August 15th, 2016 at 12:38 pm

I definitely wasn't lazy this weekend, but I didn't do the canning. It was in the 90's and I just couldn't face making the house even hotter. And honestly, being on my feet that much when my ankles and knees were still swollen had no appeal.

I did work in the garden though. It had to be early in the morning and 7 p.m. to dark, though. I managed to get in about 4 hours of garden work each day, though. Having 2 foot tall raised beds and a chair meant I didn't have to put any pressure on my knees or ankles. Building those beds was the best thing we ever did for gardening.

I harvested 2 feet by 16 feet worth of yellow onions. I had already harvested half that earlier in the week in yellow onions and shallots. I still have 2 feet by 8 feet worth of red onions to harvest.

I harvested my purple potatoes. I was disappointed, but that's what I get for growing in containers. They always do much better in the ground. I got about 3 times what I planted. If I plant in the ground I get 5 to 6 times what I plant. There are still some volunteers in last years potato patch to dig. I don't know if they are reds or golds, though.

Some of the apples got picked--5 5 gallon buckets worth and then about 1 gallon of Italian plum/prunes. There was about a quart of strawberries and a handful of raspberries as well.

I've built the beds back up with compost and I've gotten some replanting for fall crops done. I've put in more kale, broccoli, radishes, kohlrabi, chard, and cauliflower. I am debating on whether or not I should put in another sowing of snow peas. I will be planting carrot and turnip seeds, probably tonight.

This morning, before it got too hot, I went out and gave everything in the back yard garden a deep watering and then spent about an hour taking the branches off the bottom foot of each tomato plant and then taking off all the suckers to thin out the foliage. This helps allow light and air circulation to the interior of the plant and lets the pollinators get into the flowers more freely. It also helps prevent disease from water splashing up onto the lower leaves and causing blight.

I had removed lower branches early on, but needed to do it again as some more had grown. I also removed any leaves or branches that had yellowed badly. It's important to stay on top of that stuff if you don't want to end up with blight.

I didn't go to my exercise class this morning. The swelling has gone down in my knees and ankles. They still hurt, though not as bad, but I didn't want to risk doing something to make them swell again. Even water exercise. I'll go to Wednesday's class though. I have been doing strengthening exercises this week and that seems to be helping.

Hopefully I can get some potatoes canned tomorrow morning. I have a dentist appointment at 2 p.m., but I should be able to get a batch done before that. I have 50 pounds to can. That should be 2 full canner batches and then close to another half of one. I should have around 21 quarts when I finish.

A Lot of Pain and A Lot of Canning Coming Up

August 13th, 2016 at 02:19 am

I've been in a lot of pain this month, hence me not posting much, and it is making it really hard for me to function at full capacity. Right now both of my knees and ankles are swollen up. I have no idea why my ankles are getting in on the action. I am alternating heat and ice and taking hydrocodone and Valerian root at night. I should be taking painkillers during the day right now as well, but I've got too much to do and I also need to be able to drive.

My neck is still really bad and giving me these awful headaches. I've got one of those joys of being a woman, a yeast infection. And my back is aching over my kidneys so much that I think I might have a kidney infection, too. There are some other symptoms as well. Ugh. I don't have time to go back to the doctor next week. But I'll have to because kidney infections don't go away on their own.

Not all is bad though. I've gotten two and a half garden beds replanted and the soil is ready for one and a half more garden beds. I've put in more broccoli, kale, radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard. When I pull the onions this weekend I will add the soil and then replant with carrots and turnips and maybe some more kohlrabi and radishes. I'm not going to put in anymore cabbage.

I've got enough garlic now for the year. My own braid, and then one I got from the no spray garden when I placed my order for 50 pounds of Yukon golds that I'll be getting tomorrow. I'll be canning those this week. I'll also be canning the purple potatoes I grew after I harvest them tomorrow. And I will be making some blueberry pie filling to can out of last year's blueberries, since they cannot survive another year in the freezer, and anyway, we have 15 new gallons in there (total picked was 17 gallons).

A large number of plums should be ripe tomorrow or the next day so those will need to get picked and I'll need to can some and dehydrate some. I'll also need to pick some more basil and sage for dehydrating and gather the last of the bee balm petals to dry for tea. I also need to gather the echinacea, yarrow, hyssop, and calendula for tea and comfrey for salve making. And deal with all the bundles of dried herbs that have been on the wall for a few weeks already.

I need to dice some of the onions and cut into strips some of the onions that I have pulled and have gone through the drying time and freeze them for future use. I also need to mince some for dehydrating and making onion powder. I need to dice or strip up my current batch of sweet peppers as well for the freezer and mince and dry my first red cayenne pepper and then grind that into powder. I need to make more garlic powder as well. It is going to really be a busy weekend and coming week.

As soon as DH gets home, whenever that will be, I want to go through all the meat in the freezers and pull anything that is old and thaw it and can it. If we catch it before freezer burn sets in, it can last several more years that way. Or get eaten quickly, which is more likely.

Since I'll be canning all day tomorrow I need to remember to put a roast in one crockpot and potatoes in the other one and have the zucchini cut up and all ready to go into the oven before getting started, because I never want to cook after a day spent canning. Which tends to lead to takeout and we are trying not to do that until DH gets a new job. The only time we have was on DD's 20th birthday, so I think we are doing pretty good.

Weight loss is going well. Things with my mother-in-law are improving. FIL is undergoing chemotherapy now. He is also being treated for 2 blood clots in his leg. They put him on one of the newer blood thinners.

DH still hasn't heard an offer for the company b job. They've hired about 8 to 10 of the 100 or so people they need to hire and are going very slow about it. No one's been hired for his department yet, though. They are supposed to fully take over in 2 days. I'm not sure how they can without a full staff. It's going to be crazy days up there for a while.

If they do ever offer him a position, I've gone through the budget and we can handle a $500 a month paycut further, but it will mean we won't be able to save for the house. And we can handle a $1000 a month paycut if we only pay Mom $500 a month instead of $1000 a month. That last scenario I do not want. Right now we have just under 3 years to go on that loan and I don't want to extend it any longer.

I guess if we do, I'll have to get serious about writing my book series. I have it outlined and the characters are all developed and the town is, too. I've got a couple friends that self-publish on Amazon and do well and say I should, too. Of course they are basing that off my old fanfiction and not original fiction. But if I can make anything with it, it can go into the farm down payment fund. Or into paying Mom off faster and freeing up that amount of money for good.

Well, this has rambled on enough and the painkillers are starting to take effect, so I'll wrap it up now and hope it all makes sense and my brain didn't wander off towards the end. If it did, I'll fix it in the morning. The post, not my brain.

I am So Tired of This

August 4th, 2016 at 05:47 pm

DH's alternate quit. He got tired of waiting for company b to do anything and got a job elsewhere. DH's company asked DH to stay over and finish out the time his alternate would have worked so DH will get one to two weeks extra, but then it's done. Assuming they don't get any bids for piecemeal stuff accepted.

We can get September's insurance paid for in August though. I'm still not sure if that is that work will pay for it or that it is simply pre-tax dollars going for the first COBRA payment. It would be really nice if it is the first thing, but even the second thing would be very helpful.

I seems to me like company b doesn't want to pay competitive wages or the hazard part of the pay. I think that if you don't want to pay hazard pay then you shouldn't be bidding on jobs that take place in hazardous environments. They are having trouble staffing up.

But the part I don't get is that DH has heard nothing from them at all, which is really weird considering they used his name in their bid paperwork. He hasn't been approached with an offer. Even a lower wage job while he continues to look that has health insurance is better than nothing and we can cut all savings for a down payment if we have to to get by on a reduced budget. With his resume and references and 20 years experience there and 10 of it in that precise job with two different companies and a good relationship with parent company it just makes no sense. No one has been tapped for the position at all.

There was an issue earlier on when someone high up in DH's company, company a, had told company b they weren't allowed to hire anyone from company a until they'd been officially laid off, but parent company told company b that was not true and company a got yelled at for pulling it. But I still think there is something going on with that, company a using leverage against company b to hold onto its employees until the bitter end regardless of what is best for the employees. Either that or someone just doesn't like DH, but considering how ridiculously likable he is and his spotless reputation, that seems far less likely to me.

It all just makes me want to tear my hair out. Nothing seems to be going on with the company next county over. They were supposed to start the hiring process mid-July, but they haven't. No news on that front.

DH is going to try to pursue ND at this point. That would be hard because he'd have to work 4 weeks on and 2 weeks off, but at this point it would be a job that pays well. Or a job that meets our expenses without us going into debt and pays for insurance.

I hate being in this limbo. I hate it. I know it could be worse, but the stress of the last 7 months has just been building and building. I just want to be able to let it go and to feel secure in my life again.

Coin Jar to Moving Fund

August 2nd, 2016 at 09:07 pm

$310.15 Starting Balance
+_46.50 Coins and Ones
------------
$356.65 New Balance

I wasn't sure I was going to make it over to the credit union to get this deposited today, but I did. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep adding to this or any savings.

C1-360 Interest to Moving Fund

August 2nd, 2016 at 09:58 am

$269.82 Starting Balance
+_40.33 Interest Added
-------------
$310.15 New Balance

Loan from Mom

July 28th, 2016 at 01:57 pm

Now that the our very last debt, the 0% interest loan from my mother to pay off medical debt is getting down to a reasonable level that I don't have as big an issue seeing anymore, I'm going to start doing a countdown.

$35,000.00 Starting Balance
+_1,000.00 July Payment
---------------------
$34,000.00 Remaining Debt Owed

We will keep up with the $1000 payments for as long as we can after the layoffs. We should be able to live for a year on our savings and still make payments to Mom, though she may insist we drop them to $500 a month, but I really hope DH finds a new job before that. I really want to stay on track though and be done with it. It's the worst debt to have, to family.

Farm Down Payment Fund Update

July 28th, 2016 at 01:51 pm

$44,500.00 Starting Balance
+__,500.00 Amount Added
---------------
$45,000.00 New Balance

Tired and Grumpy

July 22nd, 2016 at 06:03 pm

I am very out of sorts right now. I haven't been sleeping well. Most nights this last week I've gotten about 4 to 5 hours and it is really spilling over into my attitude. I walk around all day like I'm in a fog and I'm snappish and cynical and I keep repeating myself or forgetting things. I know sleep deprivation is bad, but I don't think I've ever gone so long without some decent night's sleep. I can see how I am, but it's a bit like I'm outside myself, too. I keep telling everyone I'm sorry preemptively.

Otherwise things are going well. My weight is going down again, though how, with such bad sleep, I do not know. Water Zumba continues to be so much fun. I finally dragged my daughter there Wednesday and she loved it. My husband already comes when he is home.

I think part of my problem is that my neck and my legs are so tight right now it affects how I sleep and how I walk and the woman who usually works on me when it gets like that has been cancelling appointments on me left and right, but waiting until the last minute to do it and then I can't get in to see anyone else. Like today, I had a 2:00 appointment and she cancelled at noon. She's really good, but she's turned into a real flake, and I think I'm going to have to start seeing someone else because this has become a habit and it is wrecking my body.

On the bright side the garden is producing like gangbusters. My dehydrator is going daily now as I dry my culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, and herbal teas for the next year. Plus I've also got bundles of herbs hanging on the walls to dry as well. I have bought very little produce this summer. This week for example I bought celery and nectarines because I am not growing them, but no other produce. Well, I am growing celery, but it is on year 2 which is to collect seed and it is in the flowering stage so not edible.

My peppers are starting to produce now. I am getting zucchini or crookneck squash daily and cucumbers daily. I haven't bought lettuce since April. I made a huge batch of coleslaw today from my purple cabbage and some carrot thinnings. I'm picking berries almost daily, usually blueberries, but sometimes strawberries and raspberries. I've harvested 6 gallons of blueberries in the past two weeks.

I've got 9 packages of snow peas in the freezer and I might plant another sowing of them in August. I haven't decided yet. My tomatoes finally have little green tomatoes on them. The onions are getting big. I've planted a third sowing of kohlrabi and a 2nd sowing of broccoli, a 2nd sowing of lettuce and more radishes.

On the livestock front, the turkeys are doing well. Gina's feathers are almost grown completely back in after the hawk attack in February although she still hasn't started laying eggs again. Her limp has been gone for about 6 weeks now.

All of the ducks are doing pretty well, although there is one that keeps laying her egg either without a shell so it just comes out contained in the membrane or with a very thin, easy to break shell. I don't know why. Duck egg shells are usually hard to break, you really have to whack them normally. She has the same access to oyster shell as the other ducks. It's the blue Swedish duck and I don't know how old she is since she was given to me by someone who had lost most of her flock to predators. It might just be her age.

Two of the really old chickens have died in the last month, one silver-laced wing wyandotte and one auracauna. I was sad to see them go as they were real sweethearts, but they were no longer laying so were basically freeloaders, too. That only leaves one auracauna, one black australorp, and one white leghorn from the old guard and they will probably all die of old age in the next year. Of those 3 the black australorp still lays once a week and the leghorn lays 2 to 3 times a week. We will still have the 3 barnevelders, the 3 younger leghorns, and the 7 even younger red stars after that. The barnies are mine. All the rest of the chickens are my mom's.

The rabbits are doing well. The ones that had mites are finally mite free after getting the injected form of Ivomec. I will never use the paste or the pour on again. Direct under the skin injection into the scruff is the way to go. It works, the don't fuss, and it ends it quickly. They get 3 shots, each 10 days apart and that's the end of it.

I had to learn how to draw a shot into the syringe, how to tap out air bubbles, and shoot out a little medicine to be sure. Not a difficult thing, actually, at all. Neither is giving the injection. It is a good skill to know.

We are using a Simply Lemonade container for our sharps (used capped syringes) as it is extra thick plastic. Once we're done with the course of medication I'll have to find out where to take it for disposal as you can't put it in the trash. Possibly the hospital has a medical waste depository.

Still no new news on DH's job front or job search. I am trying not to think about it as in my sleep deprived state I will just go into anxiety mode and no one needs that.

Sighs

July 20th, 2016 at 12:16 am

Well, DH will have 2 full weeks of work when he goes back. At first they were only offering one, but they extended it to 2 and then extended to his alternate an additional 2. And may get more work piece-mealed out to them in the coming months, all because company 2 (the bid winner) still has its head so far up its backside that it is very possible their new contract with Big Company is going to fall completely apart or take much longer to get off the ground than it should.

They are supposed to be completely transitioned over from company 1 to company 2 in 32 days. They have hired 2 people so far. And can't get the guy they want for being in charge of the project because he knows what a headache it is going to be and wants to be paid for all the excess problems he's going to have to deal with because of poor planning up to now. It's above and beyond so he wants his pay to reflect that.

They don't, so he said no. And apparently now they don't know what to do. I doubt anyone is going to want to take that on without commensurate pay. Not when they can go to ND and virtually name their pay rate.

No news on the one county over job. No news on the this county job. No news on any job, except that company 1 (DH's current) will keep picking up the slack and be given work until company 2 finally figures things out and you know, actually hires people. I kind of hope DH hears about the next county over job before that and we can just get on with things.

At least we don't have to worry about August's insurance. We'll have it. Maybe another month too. At the rate things are going, he may have projects with company 1 through the year if company 2 does not get moving.

As long as the paycheck keeps coming in, I can deal with the stress. I just don't like it.

Job Update

July 9th, 2016 at 03:22 pm

Okay, so here's where things stand now. DH is coming home on Thursday and he has been asked to come back for one more week for sure and that might actually stretch into two more weeks, but nobody knows. At least it means our insurance is paid for August, so no COBRA. Nobody officially knows anything, but then the contract with company #1 is officially taken over by company #2.

Company #2 is not going to hire anyone before the middle of this month which is the day after DH comes home this time. So he may or may not hear anything from them while he is home. Best case scenario here is he gets a job offer from them while he is home and starts working for them in August and insurance starts in September and no COBRA.

Medium case scenario is he gets it when he goes back up on the 26th, he starts work in September and we have one month of COBRA to pay. Worst case scenario is he doesn't get hired by company #2 at all and COBRA wipes us out (it's $2500 a month). Which would be odd since they used his name in their bid paperwork, but stranger things have happened.

I do hope he hears from the refinery job one county over for an interview when he comes home. They are supposed to be interviewing the second half of July. He will call the job placement guy when he gets home and see if there is any news on that front or on any fronts as well. This is still the job we would all prefer.

It would be good if he can get in for an interview while he is home. I'd hate for him to miss out because he's back up in Alaska. I don't know if he can do a Skype interview from his current job. They are pretty good about stuff like that right now since they have to lay off everyone, but...

I read a big article yesterday about how oilfield jobs are booming and how they desperately need skilled oilfield workers right now and how they are going to have to pay a premium for them since so many people left the industry when there was a down turn for more stable jobs so supply will be low. And I am like...they are still laying people off and this was after a 9 to 15 percent paycut across his oilfield in April. Where is this magic high wage, high demand hiring happening? Because all the people who are out of work or about to be certainly are not seeing it.

All I can say is if DH does get a new job, he's starting the next step in his education immediately, even if we have to postpone house buying a little longer. One more degree will make us that much more secure in the future and being able to do it online means he can do it anywhere we end up. I mean he has all the commensurate experience that the next degree would give him, but some people still want that additional piece of paper even if it means no real experience to back it and then they wonder why those people never last.

Anyway, trying to stay positive. I think we will have to investigate some other insurances and see if there is one we can buy that would be cheaper than $2500 a month for a COBRA for the four of us. Ideally something as cheap as possible that would cover a disaster and we just pay out of pocket because of a high deductible would be better than $2500 a month. We might payout $1000 to $1500 a month max that way, which would make the money stretch a lot further.

DH has made enough money in a half a year we would not qualify for any insurance subsidies, so whatever we get, we'd have to get on our own.

I just really, really hope he gets something fast and all of this is moot and we don't have to deal with it at all.

Weight Loss Update

July 9th, 2016 at 02:50 pm

So after dinking around for the past 3 weeks I've lost a little over 2 pounds in the last 3 days. I guess that means the stall is over. I don't feel comfortable with it enough yet to do another dietbet, but I am feeling positive that it will continue.

I am looking foward to getting back to Water Zumba on Monday. Last Monday the gym was closed for the holiday and then Tuesday night I made the mistake of drinking cow's milk, because I was out of goat's milk and woke up with all of the symptoms that causes, but one. Coated white tongue, sore throat, full on phlegm, stuffy nose, headache, joint aches, inflammation and retained water. The only thing I didn't get, and probably because I only had one glass and not several glasses in a row, was a breakout of cystic acne. So I didn't go to class on Wednesday either.

Actually after being fully off cow's milk for a couple of month's it didn't even taste as good as I remembered. Which is sad, because I loved it, even if I hate what it does to me. I've had to cut out cow's milk, yogurt, well, anything from a cow that isn't a hard cheese, mozzarella, or butter. Anything else triggers the symptoms. Limiting dairy has helped with weight loss, though.

As much as possible I try to find goat or sheep cheeses instead, but have never been able to find a goat's milk mozzarella. It is possible to make it, according to the lady who teaches cheese making classes at the co-op, they just don't make it readily available for sale. When we get our milking goats one day, I will totally be making that, cheddar, gouda, and fresh chevre. I'm going to have a cheese cave, which is not as elaborate as it sounds. Assuming life eventually goes to plan, but that's another post entirely.

Went to Whole Foods for the First Time

July 9th, 2016 at 02:11 pm

We had a Whole Foods store open in our town this summer. Overall, I have to say I wasn't terribly impressed with much, more of a so-so experience. We went there to get a protein powder for DD recommended by the weight loss doctor that doesn't have whey (since DD is allergic to milk) and doesn't have almond meal (since DD is allergic to almonds {but not other nuts, weird}) and doesn't have gluten (issues if she has too much of it, but not an allergy per se).

It also couldn't have any artificial sweeteners in it, because she gets hives and headaches and tunnel vision and stomach cramps and also went to the hospital once because she had trouble breathing after ingesting aspartame. We found a couple of different ones to try and they had small packets you could buy before you invested in the gallon size container.

The cheese selection was good. I actually found some sheep's cheese and more than one variety. Found several types of goat cheese, too, and 2 year old cheddar, extra sharp. And 2 year old goat's gouda not smoked. I hate it when they smoke gouda. I got a couple of cheeses I had never heard of to try, since they had small slivers of them that weren't too expensive. If I like them I will write down their names and get bigger wedges when I go back.

And they did have a great selection of rices, lentils, and beans, both organic and non for reasonable prices. In fact they have a red and white lima bean with Christmas in the title, where I might just get some and plant them next year (since all dried beans will grow if they are whole and not split). Why grow ordinary green limas when you can grow prettier ones? Since limas and Anasazi are the only types of beans I'll eat, I'm happy to see that had both.

Their organic meat and fish prices were more expensive than Trader Joe's, the Food Co-op, Fred Meyer, Safeway, or Haggen, except with chicken, which was comparable. What they did have, which the other stores do not, was no sugar bacon in pork, turkey, and buffalo. Actually they had a lot of cuts of buffalo. Most times when I see it elsewhere it is just ground buffalo, not steaks or roasts.

They did have a larger variety of seafood though than at other stores, some fish I have never even seen around here in a store before outside of direct off the boats down at the docks.

I spent $105, but it was mostly on cheese that should last a month, chicken thighs (we are out of our home grown and butchered chicken except for stir-fry meat, wings, backs, and necks), and the protein powder, plus a shaker drink container to mix it all up in. But a lot of cheeses.

With being on a higher protein/fat lower carb diet where they expect several meals and snacks a day, cheese and some cucumber slices fits the bill for me for those snacks. It's a little over the $100 a week I am trying to cut back to, but since I'm cutting back from around $200 a week, I think I did okay. Won't be going in this store often.

And speaking of the diet, the scale is moving again, after 3 weeks of dinking around. Not enough yet for me to feel comfortable starting another dietbet, though.

I Won my Six Month Transformer Dietbet

July 5th, 2016 at 02:02 pm

I knew a couple of days ago that I'd won, but didn't get payment verification until yesterday. My buy in was $125 (normally $150 if you pay $25 month to month, but $125 if you paid up front). My payout was $249.20. So I am 80 cents short of having doubled my money. That sure beats six months in a savings account at .75%. Or the stock market. Or anything else, really.

I think I am going to take a break for a while from doing dietbets, though. I have come to a stand still the past couple of weeks and there is no point shooting myself in the foot by starting a new one until I get the weight loss really moving again.

I have been losing inches, just not pounds. I'm probably building muscle and losing fat based on the exercising, but the scale doesn't care about that and neither does dietbet. My clothes are getting loser and I look better, so I will just soldier on and eventually the scale will move again, too.

Thinking about Phones--Need Help

July 4th, 2016 at 01:05 pm

I am in the preliminary stages of thinking about getting a new phone, contingent of course, on DH getting a new job. My phone is on its last legs and really old. As in, it was one of the first dumb phones to have a pull out keyboard old.

I've replaced the battery twice and the charger 3 times, but I can't do that anymore as they've stopped making them and the last time I simply just bought a copy of my phone off e-bay with a destroyed screen just for the working battery and charger. Even that doesn't seem to be an option now.

If I do get one, I'll be going through Ting and I am thinking about the phones around the 4 level or the cheaper end of the 5 level, as in Samsung Galaxy 4, LG G4, Apple iPhone 4 or possibly 5, or Nexus 5. But I don't know anything about these phones other than I've heard good things about the Samsung Galaxy 4 (but not 5).

I have never used a smart phone and I don't really use tablets either, which I understand are similar in some ways, so I'm going to need something user friendly and easy. I haven't used anything Apple based other than an ipod touch and that thing irritates me, because it is not as intuitive as it likes to pretend to be. I like devices that are simple and easy.

I'm at the collecting information stage, I guess. What can you all tell me about the phones I've listed above? Pros and cons and ease of use. Thanks.

Got Hit Up for Money

July 4th, 2016 at 04:08 am

I got hit up for money from my nephew today. It took me a lot not to blow a gasket, because I know he doesn't know anything about what is going on right now with DH getting laid off, so I had to take a few deep breaths and responded with a terse message that DH was out of work at month's end. It's just that it's not the first time. This is a yearly thing and it's usually in the Christmas newsletter, but this was more direct. Right now is just bad timing.

He's in ministry, but he's not a pastor or minister or missionary, and it's a pledge situation for ongoing support, but it's not really the type I feel like supporting even at the best of times. It's working with college athletes and ministering through sports and I don't support athletics in schools in general. I think it takes away from the purpose of school which is to educate and also funnels money away from education. Not to mention how strongly active rape culture is in athletics.

If I were to give to faith based charities, it would be to the homeless kids shelter or the homeless women's shelter, both issues I have supported at times in the past.

He wanted to work in a faith based situation, he wanted to work in sports, and he chose a job that is not self-supporting. I'm sorry he can't support his wife and 3 kids, but I can't support them either.

C1-360 Interest to Moving Fund

July 2nd, 2016 at 12:13 pm

$231.49 Starting Balance
+_38.33 Interest Added
-------------
$269.82 New Balance

Interview-Ish

June 30th, 2016 at 04:07 pm

DH had a sort of interview with company #2. It sounded like things there are on shaky ground yet, like there might be some major growing pains about to happen like they did with company #1 several years ago when he started with them. These were preliminary interviews, more like feeling things out, not final interviews.

They did talk a little about benefits, but not too much on specifics. It's a high deductible medical plan. The 401K is decent with a 100% match on the first 3% and a 50% match on the second 3%, so if you put in 6% in a year, you'd get a 4.5% total match on that. It didn't sound like wages were discussed at all. Any job offers (for anyone) won't be forthcoming for several weeks.

It's not the best news, but it is better than no news, I guess. I still hope that DH will get an interview for the job next county over when they start the process mid to late July. That is the better job by far in every category. An interview and then gets hired. That's the holy grail right now.

At the moment, I don't even know if he has work after this hitch. I don't think his company knows either. Stressful. I miss not living in a state of peace.

Unexpected Purchase

June 27th, 2016 at 02:46 pm

We had an unexpected purchase today. We spent $99 plus tax of $8.61 on a new weed trimmer. The old one "let the smoke out" as my husband likes to say. Which means the engine burned up. I have been wanting the one with the rechargeable battery because dealing with the one with the extension cord is a pain in the butt and gas ones are too heavy for me to operate.

I took the money out of the reimbursement check FIL gave us this weekend. Since we had already paid off the credit card from when DH had used it to cover stuff for FIL in Seattle a couple of months ago when there was a screw up with his short-term disability checks, that money was not yet earmarked for anything.

I haven't funded the Appliance/Household Fund in a while. It is probably something that should be done again once we are sure of the job situation. Usually I have anywhere between $250 and $1000 in there depending on what I think we might be needing next (a microwave or blender versus a refrigerator, lawn mower, or couch).

It hasn't been a priority. But it should be on the agenda, since when we do move, we will likely need to buy a washer and dryer. Most houses don't come with them anymore, unless you are buying brand new houses with an appliance package.

Right now, as long as we continue to have an income, I really just want to focus on the down payment fund and the moving fund, though. I don't want to take away from those. But I might put a small amount in. Maybe a couple hundred, just so we don't get caught with our pants down.

Farm Down Payment Fund Update and Preparations

June 24th, 2016 at 01:17 pm

$44,000.00 Starting Balance
+__,500.00 Deposit Addded
----------------
$44,500.00 New Balance

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to add anything to this fund this month, but I was able to squeak out $500.00 as we spent most of the overtime money putting ourselves into a position to survive the next several months without having to purchase much and get ahead on some things.

We stocked up on staples like flour, sugar, brown sugar, oil, spices, toilet paper, soap (body, dish, laundry), shampoo, rice, reusable canning lids, pickling salt, freezer bags (so we can freeze garden veggies that don't can well), peanut butter, tuna fish, condiments, facial tissue, and OTC medications.

It'll be a close next two weeks, but not tight. All payments have gone out or been scheduled and nothing else is due until after next payday on the 8th. The garden is in full swing now with both fruits and vegetables, so I really should not need to set foot in a store for anything but dairy and vitamins.

I have PT today and next Friday, but the money is put aside for that, too. So really, it all should be good. I am hoping on the 8th to purchase a 30 pound box of ground beef from the farm. That is the only thing we are low on in the freezer. If not we will just have to make due with ground rabbit and ground pork, which actually make some pretty tasty burgers, tacos, meat loaves, and meatballs. They just don't provide much iron.

We also stocked up on animal feed so we will have that on hand for a good long while.

Moving Fund Update

June 22nd, 2016 at 09:45 pm

$172.99 Beginning Balance
+_58.50 Deposit Added
----------------
$231.49 New Balance

This is mostly farm income, but also includes the coin jar money.

A Work Update for DH's Job and Prospects

June 21st, 2016 at 03:05 pm

DH went down for an interview with the job placement company this morning and it seems like it went really well. I hope he gets to work through them because they offer incredible benefits. It has a 401K that matches up to 4% (we have no matching at all with current job). It has medical insurance that is $25 a week per family, not per individual, and a $1000 deductible, again per family, not per individual. And honestly if it was per individual, it'd still be better than anything I've seen in decades.

It looks promising and they are sending his resume to a few places that are seeking his skill set. I really hope that the one next county over will work out, even if they aren't hiring until sometime in July. There's another one that will be hiring in September that sounds good, too, and a couple other places as well.

We still don't know anything about company 2, either, who is taking over the contract at the end of this month from DH's company 1. It is sounding like DH will have a job through August with company 1 at least if he doesn't find a better one sooner. If he can stay steadily employed until getting hired elsewhere that would be so good, especially if that elsewhere is the job in the next county over.

I am afraid to be hopeful. My attitude is kind of "Don't show me pretty things I can't have," right now, but I am trying to remain positive. Because those pretty things (the insurance, the 401K) are things I really, really, really do want to have. Not to mention feeling like the future is secure again.

Continued prayers, good vibes, and crossed fingers would be appreciated.

Trying not to Stress

June 17th, 2016 at 11:49 pm

I am trying really hard not to be stressed out, but it isn't really working. I am grinding my teeth so hard while I am sleeping that I am starting to wear a spot down on my mouth guard and the right side of my jaw hurts really bad from it.

I've also noticed my anxiety is going up. I'm doing things I usually only do during a high state of stress, like picking at my cuticles until they bleed or my OCD stuff getting a little out of control, where instead of having to do things twice it is more like doing it six or eight times (never an odd number, because my OCD is linked to doing things in pairs). So far it is mostly confined to checking my alarm clock or that all the doors are locked or windows are shut over and over, but I can feel it starting to shift into other things. Not good.

So far I am not stress eating at all. I think the phentermine is really helping with that. And I am losing weight, so the stress is not affecting that. I was sick for about five days (stomach bug, fever, dizziness), so I haven't been to the pool in over a week. I am mostly better, but still dizzy and dizzy and water don't mix. The exercise usually helps keep the OCD down (although I do have to swim an even number of laps on swimming days). I hope to get to the pool this weekend, though.

I did walk the mall today. My foot was regretting it afterwards, but not my knee or hip, which is progress. I did one lap of the mall, which is only 1/4 mile, but that's a lot further than usual. The only other time I usually walk that much is in doing a lap of Costco and that's a lot slower than this was. I have been walking a bit. Usually only one to two blocks, but I am trying to build up that strength in my knee again. Some days are good, some are bad, but I haven't needed the cane in about a month. The bad leg is why I do so much in the pool instead, but I miss walking.

The garden is producing really well. Right now I am getting broccoli, scallions, lettuce, kale, sorrel, herbs, and the snap peas are just starting. I've gotten 10 so far, but tomorrow or the next day there should be a lot more, maybe even enough to blanch and freeze. We still have some strawberries and I am now getting raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Not enough to freeze yet, but enough for daily fresh eating. I've got a new batch of radishes at the two week mark and I want to get some more kohlrabi in the ground. My garlic is just about ready to pull.

I am trying not to spend things, but DH left his phone in Alaska, and since he is job hunting he can't be without a phone and it needs to be the number on his resumes, so he ended up getting a new phone. I mean, his old phone is five or six years old, so it's not like he wasn't due one, but I didn't want to sign a new contract in case he is out of work for a while and we need to drop down to one phone. He did get a dumb phone, not a smart phone, so it wasn't too expensive, but it was still $130 we wouldn't have needed to spend if he'd not left it behind.

I am trying not to be frustrated with him, but the time before that he left his driver's license and credit card at work, so he had to get a new license, because he was having to drive his parents to Seattle and back for follow up cancer stuff. It wasn't a case where he could just not drive for the ten days he was home. Fortunately he has a passport, so he could fly home. But it's just carelessness leading to having to spend money and it drives me crazy.

Also he keeps wanting to make all these little purchases like things are normal. I mean, I know he gets it, he's the one who will be out of a job soon, but at the same time he isn't changing his habits and he's being forgetful to the detriment of our budget. These things add up and suddenly there is $300 to $400 worth of stuff the last two months that shouldn't have needed to be gotten. I am really having to fight with myself to not make retaliation purchases, because that way lies madness and credit card debt. But I want to, and I haven't wanted to in a long, long time, so I hate that it is coming up.

I really hope he gets a job offer soon. This stuff is making me far too anxious.

Slight Change in Holding Pattern but Still Hovering

June 16th, 2016 at 10:54 pm

So it has finally been announced that company 2 has gotten the contract at Big Company and they were signing the paperwork today. Company 2 is the one that supposedly said they would hire DH, and used his name for his position in their bid paperwork. So I guess this is a smidgeon of progress. No offer yet for DH, but that could be weeks away.

A more optimistic me would find this promising, but I am not a more optimistic me. I am a completely and totally cynical me. As in I'll believe it when I see it, but not before.

I'd still rather he work one county over, but at this point, any job is better than no job. I am dreading having to pay for COBRA. It is going to be so freaking expensive. Dreading having to meet a yearly deductible all over again if he does get a new job and new insurance, too. However COBRA and living expenses will wipe out our EF in 4 to 5 months, so new job and new insurance and new deductible is the better option. But ugh.

Trust, But Verify

June 14th, 2016 at 11:06 pm

My chiropractor tried to say our monthly plan was due today. We pay in advance for the month. He's usually pretty on the ball with things, but I was absolutely sure he was wrong this time. I checked my spreadsheet and it said I'd just paid on the 23rd of May. I double checked when the check had cleared, which was the 24th of May. Then I found the receipt, which was still in my purse, that also said 23rd of May.

So shown the receipt he decided he must have written it down wrong on my chart. He did take 10 days off in early May or the May payment would have been due on the 14th. I think he just didn't change it then and it carried over with the wrong date on it. We don't pay for the time he isn't there it gets adjusted.

I am glad that I didn't just take it on faith, but double checked everything, or we would have been shorted several treatments. This is why it is so important to record dates of payment, check numbers, and amounts. It's sometimes the only way to verify who is right and who is wrong. Plus keeping receipts of all medical payments (which I need for the HSA, anyway).

I trust him enough to think he wasn't trying to pull a fast one and it was simply a recording error, but I am still glad I keep such thorough records.

Mom Loan Update with Lots of Thinky Thoughts

June 13th, 2016 at 03:30 pm

So it's been a while since I updated how much money is owed on the 0% interest loan from my mother, what I call our medical mortgage since it originally involved her putting a mortgage on her house so we could pay the medical bills from my 6 surgeries in 5 years way back when. (She paid that off long ago when she had money and before the rest of her money got eaten up with Dad's care before he died, though, so there is no mortgage on the house). I still call it that though.

After the payment on Friday the total is down to $35,000 owed. We have paid down $85,000 and we offered to pay it all off when we sold our house, but she didn't want that, she wanted the monthly income, and she wanted us to save for our down payment, so that's what we are doing. So we now have 2 years and 11 months to go at our current rate of repayment. If all goes well, April 2019 will be the final payment. This is our very last debt owed. We've been out of consumer debt for over a year now, but I still want to get this one done as I hate owing it.

Our goal is to continue to make our $1000 a month payments to her even if DH doesn't get a job right away. With $63,000 some odd dollars in savings between the Emergency Fund and the Farm Down Payment Fund (and I will add to it as long as we can), we feel like we can do this at least for a while.

If he doesn't get a job within four months of his final day, whenever that will be (could be July, could be the end of September, who knows? They certainly don't.), then we will obviously have to revisit that. I would like to continue to try to pay her at least $500 a month for a while after that. I don't know how long we will have to stretch out our savings for, though, if we have to live on it. I think we could go a year to two years, possibly.

I think my mother has become dependent on that money and it does worry me a little. I think she has always thought she would die before it was paid back. Well, she's coming up on 77 and still going strong so I don't think she will. She doesn't have savings, IRAs, or a 401K anymore (that went to Dad's care); she just has social security. That will be her only source of income after the loan is paid off.

Her expenses are low, but as soon as we move she will have to go back to paying the electric, water/sewer, gas, and garbage bills, all things we have assumed paying while living here. The only household bills she's been paying out of her own funds since we moved here have been the landline (which we don't use), her satellite TV (which we don't use), and her internet (we have our own with a different company that is not slow, hers is bundled with her phone and TV service).

I think she thinks everything will miraculously drop down to 1/5 the amount it has been once we move. I think it will go down some, but not as much as she is thinking it will. Water/sewer is a flat rate, so that won't change. She might need to put out only one garbage can a month instead of two, so that could drop, but she might put out 2 anyway because the smell build up might be too bad if she doesn't.

She will still be heating a big old seven bedroom/4 bathroom/3 living room/1.5 kitchen house, whether we are here or not, though without our two freezers (one big, one small) and two fridges, it will drop. She might close off rooms to heat less, but she doesn't seem inclined in that direction. She will still have to pay the same amount in property tax, car insurance (she has two vehicles), home owner's insurance, etc.

If she continues wasteful habits like leaving both of her TVs on all the time whether she is home or not (and they are the type that burn a lot of electricity), still using mostly incandescent light bulbs, washing dishes when the dishwasher is only half full, leaving the stove fan on long after the oven is off, etc., I don't think it is going to be quite as dramatic as she thinks. It certainly won't halve, let alone drop by 4/5ths.

Gas will go down as it will be one person doing laundry and not five and it is a gas dryer and gas hot water tank for our end of the house. Showers will be less, but we take a lot of them at the gym. I wash in cold water except underwear and bedding, she washes all in hot. So yes, it will go down, but not as much as she thinks. Dishwasher use will go down.

Of course she owns the house in full so that is worth probably $400,000 based on comparable neighborhood sales. Maybe $350,000 because of basement flooding issues if she has to sell as is. So if she sells and gets a much smaller place then she would have plenty to live on. But it she doesn't, things will be pretty tight. She doesn't seem to ever want to sell.

I'm not really sure how she'll get by once the loan is paid. I mean, we'll make sure she does one way or another if she tells us, but she is so stubborn she might not tell us. I doubt Social Butterfly will help at all. Former Ice Queen (I need to come up with a new nickname for that sister) would probably help with anything she can that isn't financial, but she doesn't make a lot and has already said she's not moving in with Mom if it comes to that.

If DH's job situation shakes out right, if we can buy a place with enough acreage, if we can convince Mom to sell and move and set up a little new manufactured home (new ones are super nice these days and very energy efficient) or a little stick-built cottage on our land, that would be the best option. I don't want to live in a house with her again, because she is so critical and just...THERE all the time. Having her close but with her own home would be the ideal way of dealing with things.

I guess it is easier to worry about things like that than worry about whether or not DH is going to be able to find a new job before the old one runs out. Not that it will stop me from worrying about that, either.


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