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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
_500.00 October Utilities
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
_275.00 Monthly Chiropractor Family Plan
__36.00 Garbage Envelope
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
_100.00 Gas Money
_100.00 Car Insurance
2416.63 Total Money Out
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
_100.00 Household Envelope
__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'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!
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.
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.
Beef Pot Roast
Fresh Plums (from the garden)
5 Spice Chicken Stir-fry with Vegetables
Chinese Pepper Steak
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Jamaican Stir-fried Cabbage
Garlic Chicken and Green Beans Stir-fry
Spaghetti with Meatballs
Penne Pasta with Sausage, Zucchini, and Tomatoes
Fish and Chips
Roasted Root Vegetables
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.
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
_100.00 Household Envelope
_100.00 Car Insurance Fund
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
_100.00 Gas Money Envelope
_325.89 Credit Card
_500.00 Monster Mom Loan
3318.73 Total Money Out
$27,500.00 Beginning Balance
-__,500.00 Payment Made
$27,000.00 New Balance
We won't make as much progress this month due to the lack of overtime, but I am hoping to squeak out another $500 in two weeks time.
I have never had an insurance company so slow to send out cards before. Every other insurance we've ever had the cards have come the week before they were to become active. DH was able to print out something that would do for the short term from the website and then he reordered cards in case they got lost in the mail.
We've had two doctor's appointments so far this week. DD had her six month check up with the opthamologist to check her eye pressure and make sure there was no sign of the eyeritis. He also slipped an eye exam into the mix. She needs new glasses badly. Her one eye has slipped from -175 to -350. So we are waiting for the insurance card for vision benefits so we can get the glasses made.
DH has a dental appointment tomorrow and has printed that info out as well, and he is going to have the receptionist put it in for all of us, since DD and I both have cleanings next week and DS has one the following week. That way I won't have to deal with it. He's also taking care of the pharmacy when he picks up my prescription tomorrow.
It's a little frustrating, but we are managing to get our ducks in a row despite somewhat poor management on the parts of the three different insurance companies.
I made tomato soup from scratch for the first time today. I had a big glut of tomatoes from the garden and what was left over from what Mom brought home from eastern Washington. I made it in the 8 quart Instant Pot and it was really good. I don't even like tomato soup and I liked this soup. I thought I'd pass along what I did.
1 small yellow onion, diced small
2 stalks of celery, diced small
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced small
2 heaping tbsp minced garlic
Tomatoes cut into wedges
2 cups broth
I started by putting the pot onto saute mode and sauteed the onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers for 3 minutes, added a few shakes of salt, a few shakes of pepper, and 8 shakes of Italian seasoning and stirred. Then I sauteed for 3 more minutes and added the garlic, sauteeing for 30 seconds more.
Turn off the saute feature and add enough tomatoes to go up to the fill line. This was probably about 10 pounds of tomatoes. Add two cups of broth. I used chicken broth. Add one tbsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper.
Put on the lid and set it to sealing. Select the stew button (meat/stew on some models) and bring the timer to 50 minutes. Cook. When the time is up do a quick release of the pressure. Remove the lid with the steam going away from you.
Use an immersion blender to blend the tomatoes up. Taste and adjust seasoning. I we ended up adding two more tsp of salt and 1/2 a tsp of pepper, and 1 more tbsp of Italian seasoning.
Ladle into pint jars and pressure can for 20 minutes. This makes 8 pints. Or you can can half, like I did and to the remaining soup add 1/2 cup of milk and 2 cups of fresh basil, blending again until smooth.
Both versions tasted really good to me and the kids and DH all loved it. I am happy, because now I can can up more soup when I get enough tomatoes. As they get ripe in the garden, I can core them and cut them up and then throw them in the freezer until I get enough. That way, I don't have to leave them setting out for the fruit flies to hatch out on. I have already canned all the diced tomatoes and wedges that I am going to this summer, so this will use up the rest of what I produce really easily.
As a side note, I canned the soup in the 8 quart Power Cooker XL electric pressure cooker. It has a canning feature. I have been very happy with it. I have only used it to can broth before, but it has always worked great. I like not having to baby-sit the process and it works well for small batches like this, where I won't have to drag out the big canner.
It is nice to have 2 electric pressure cookers, too. While I prefer the Instant Pot, it does not have the canning feature. Once I get a new inner pot for the XL, I will be much happier. The IP's stainless steel inner pot fits in the XL, so I will order one of those. The non-stick coating that came on the XL scratched off withing the first 2 months, so I only use pot-in-pot cooking or the canning feature on that one. With the other kind of inner pot, I will be able to fully use it again.
Well, we've made it through the glut of August birthdays and now I don't have to worry about any until mine in February. Now the money that will be funneled into the Holidays/Birthdays Envelope will go towards Christmas, at least through to December. Right now it has $100 in it. My budget for Christmas is $500, so I just need to save $100 a month to meet that.
I don't think we are going to go to the ranch for our turkey this year. I think I am going to go to the young man we buy our chickens from instead. We seldom go to the ranch anymore as the gas is a little too expensive. If I have a rabbit to sell we will go, but that is it lately. We just really need to stick to our budget and that includes gas money, so going to someone in our own county instead of the next one over saves us a half a tank of gas. Our gas budget is $100 a month and I don't really want to go over that.
It's official that there will be no more overtime on this particular project, so I don't know if we will be able to make progress on the debt payoff in September.
I mean we'll be able to do the $500, but I don't think anything beyond that. This project is wrapping up, though, and then there will be the next one which might have some OT.
This next paycheck will be the first one with everything being taken out of it, but without any OT on it, so I will be able to see what the real base paycheck looks like. I have numbers pretty close to it, but I'd like to have the exact ones. It's the accounting nerd in me.
DH and I have to go through and allocate our 401K money to one of the plans, so that is on the agenda for tomorrow. I hope there is one without bonds in it, because I don't feel like bonds are worth it at this stage of the game. If not something like only 10% in bonds would be good. I wish there were more options, like with the IRA, where we could pick each mutual fund that we want, but there should be something decent in their choices. Most plans have at least one option that is for good growth.
We also need to finish going through our IRA. We only have 2 of the four funds picked out that we want, so it is sitting in those for now. It just takes time to research the funds and we haven't had much of a chance to sit down and look while he has been working all of that OT.
Our new insurance cards have not arrived yet. I hope they do soon as DD has an appointment with the opthamologist on the 4th, DS has a physical on the 6th, and I have a dentist appointment on the 11th. I have never had an insurance card not be here the week before the insurance kicks in so I am starting to get nervous it won't be here before we need to use it.
In fact, I can guarantee it won't be here in time for the 4th since there won't be any mail on Monday. Here appointment is at 3:30, so there is a chance the mail will come before that, but it doesn't always. It depends on if it is our regular carrier or a sub. DH will have to email the details so I can at least give the doctor's office the info that will be on the cards.
September and October are going to be full of appointments. Not just for my immediate family, but my mother has her surgery on the 19th and then the following week starts PT three times a week for two weeks and then twice a week for several weeks after that and I have to drive her, at least for six weeks. She is having her other knee done. This is her left knee so she will be able to drive sooner, supposedly.
I am still annoyed with her for refusing to go to a nursing home to recover for two weeks. She knows how difficult it is on me to take care of her and my daughter is in no shape to help. My husband is taking off the second half of the day the Friday she comes home so he'll be around for the first few days when she's at her worst, but after that I'm on my own. I barely make it through the day taking care of myself and my disabled daughter, but she doesn't care how much of a load it adds and it frustrates me.
This is her third surgery in a year's time and I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't try to slip the other shoulder in before the year is up and her doctor retires. I swear I will have a nervous breakdown if she does. If one of my sisters would help it would be manageable, but nope. It would interfere with their lives too much. Even the one who actually lives here in town. I just really wish she would have had them all done at once and gone to nursing home to get better. It would have been a lot less stressful.
At least this time I will have my diet in order. I just hope taking care of her doesn't make me stress eat. But right now I am firmly in control and I am determined to stay that way. I have lost 15 pounds and she is not blowing this for me. I won't let myself get derailed again no matter how crazy she makes me.
I did my big shop on Friday and Saturday. Usually I do it all in one day, but my mother's car is in the shop and I had to ferry her around on Friday and I am not going to grocery shop at the same time as her because it drives me crazy. It is also a nice time for my son and I to have alone together. My mother has a way of aggravating my son (she baits him) and also of making every conversation about politics even though I have a no discussing politics rule. I'm just sick of it.
Plus she has to comment on everything I put in my cart. She eats a very bland diet so there is a lot of "I could never eat that," and "How can you eat that stuff?" Sorry, Mom, we can't all live on a diet of processed sweet carbs and cube steak. Some of us need fruits, veggies, and meat that requires actual chewing. So basically I drove her around and waited in the parking lot. Then I went back with my son on Friday and did two stores and on Saturday I did one store with my husband.
This is our second two week shop and it went well and I came away with $31 left in the grocery envelope, which is $14 from this time and $17 from last pay period.
Our first stop was at Safeway where I bought mostly loss leaders and pantry stock-up because there were some good condiment sales. Everything I bought was on sale. I spent $124.74 and I saved $88.23 off the total.
4 BBQ sauce
2 Miracle Whip
2 bags potato chips
4 jars picante sauce
6 bottles of ketchup
4 jars spaghetti sauce
2 loaves wheat bread
2 packages of 4 sirloin steaks
1 package with 2 London broil roasts
4 lbs of black forest ham (on sale for $5/lb)
Next I went to Trader Joe's and spent $130.54. I bought:
4 bags of chicken fried rice
4 bags of roasted potatoes with pepeprs
4 bags of fettucine alfredo
4 bags of chicken fettucine alfredo
2 bags of potstickers
2 bags of gold potatoes
2 boxes of fish nuggets
2 Strawberry bars
2 mac and cheese
1 peanut butter granola bars
2 iceberg lettuces
1 box hashbrowns
4 packs of hot dogs
2 spray olive oil
Next was Costco where I spent $127.48.
2 bags of steamer broccoli
1 jumbo package of tortillas
1 bag beef mandu
4 boxes of Kerrygold butter
1 container cashews
1 container parmesan cheese
1 box fruit snacks
There was one more thing on there but it isn't listed in a way that identifies the item and I can't remember what it was.
Anyway, I think this two week shopping thing is going to go fairly well for me. I feel like we are getting everything we need and stocking up on staples without too much trouble at all. And I get to stay out of the stores because more trips always equals more money spent.
This is the second two week paycheck. DH got 20 hours of overtime this pay period. This is the first week that money was taken out for the 401K. We are having 5% (because that is the match) taken out. It will go up when we have finished paying off the Mom Loan. The next paycheck on the 7th will be when the insurances start being taken out. We will have medical, dental, and vision (all separate), plus some additional life insurance on DH. This will bring up the amount of life insurance coverage on DH to $400,000. I want to get more on DH (it should be 10 times your income), but it may be a while before we can.
$1000.00 Monster Mom Loan
__400.00 Grocery Envelope
__400.00 Medical Fund
__100.00 Household Envelope
__100.00 Car Insurance Fund
___56.83 Life Insurance DH
___45.30 Life Insurance Me
___50.00 Allowance DH
___50.00 Allowance Me
___90.00 Allowance DS
___30.00 Allowance DD
__100.00 Clothing Envelope
__100.00 Christmas Envelope
__100.00 Laptop Fund
$3482.94 Total Money Out
We were able to throw another $1000 at the Mom Loan this payday.
$28,500.00 Starting Amount
-_1,000.00 Payment Made
$27,500.00 Total Remaining
I did go out today and pick up ice, watermelon, and a fan. I went with a cowboy style bandanna on and no one really gave me any weird looks. More "I wish I had thought of that" looks, than anything else. I ordered some masks with filters off of Amazon and paid for the fast shipping and they should be here on Thursday. Hopefully earlier in the day than later. As long as they are here before the big grocery shop on Friday, though.
We made it pretty well through the two week grocery shop and I'm going to try it again on Friday. There are some good beef and fish sales this week and chicken is always cheap at Winco. We did run out of some things, so I will adjust my shopping list accordingly, but it was nice not to feel like I was constantly running to the grocery store.
I need to figure out my new two week meal plan based off the ads and what we have on hand. That worked out pretty well for us. I will have to go to Costco this week as we are down to just one pound of butter, so I will probably get broccoli florets and possibly cauliflower florets while there. I hate cutting them up and the stuff they do there is cheaper than getting full crowns elsewhere. I also need to get some Ziploc bags out of the household budget. Not much else, though.
Well, maybe a new printer, but that comes out of the Laptop Fund, and only if they have an HP. The Canons keep breaking after only a year. They never used to be like this, but the last three have been, so I'm done with brand loyalty. My laptop is an HP anyway. I'm getting tired of not being able to scan or print anything, especially recipes.
We did do a couple meals of takeaway this week. It was on canning days and I was wiped. We got Pizza Hut one night and McDonalds another. I will try to not do that this week, though. I don't want to fall back into old habits.
I am 12 days into my diet and have lost 9 pounds. I hope it sticks this time. I am so tired of being overweight and I know it doesn't help with my immune system issues. I can't really exercise. It is too hot inside and outside is still having ashfall. I might go to the mall and walk if I get some time. I still have pears to can. Applesauce was today. And I want to get some green beans and gold potatoes for canning as well.
Rain is still in the forecast, but instead of just being Saturday and Sunday it is now saying Friday, too. I hope so. We need it so badly.
The ashfall is getting pretty awful here. I feel like we are living near an active volcano or something. I had to go out to the garden today and wash off all the plants so they didn't starve. They were coated in grey brown ash. I wore a bandanna over my mouth and nose. I have given up on the green beans because I can't stay outside long enough to pick them. I will keep up with the tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers while I can. They are quick picks and I can get them and get back inside within 5 minutes.
It is still so hot here and it is awful because we can't open the windows. My asthma has really kicked up and I have to use my inhaler about every 4 hours or so. I've got a persistent cough, scratchy throat, and feel like my bronchials are affected. I have to use eye drops frequently, and nasal spray because my nose keeps blocking up. I thought last year was bad, but this doesn't compare. I am going to call the doctor tomorrow and ask for something stronger as an inhaler.
We have rain in the forecast for Sunday and Monday and I just hope it doesn't change. We need to be drenched to wash this garbage out of the air and maybe have a shot at putting out the fires. And someone in B.C. needs to get on the ball and start figuring out how to manage their forests properly. If they would slash and burn during the rainy season this would not be happening now, but the environmentalists had to push past the point of logic and now they don't do it right. I think people who have no clue about timber country should not be allowed to push their policies on the rest of the PNW.
I have been trying to keep the car sprayed off each day, but it just accumulates more. I don't want it to damage the paint, but I'm about to give up at this point.
It is all just so very frustrating. I want to be able to breathe and to go spend time outside without it hurting. I am going stir-crazy. Having the blogs down for 3 days did not help.
It was really nice not to have to plan a grocery trip for today. I wasn't sure I was going to like only shopping once every two weeks, but I definitely think I am. I did glance at the ads this week just in case there was something good, but it was all processed foods or real foods that were pretending they were on sale, but really weren't. You know, the buy one get one free where the one you buy has been jacked up to cover the cost of the "free" one sort of thing.
We still have plenty of milk and plenty of bread, so I don't even foresee a quick run at this point. I did such careful planning on last week's shop that we might not even need to go to the store right away a week from now. But we'll see.
My mother went to visit her sister and brought a ton of produce home from eastern Washington. So this week we are canning tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, applesauce, pears, and I am chopping and freezing candy sweet onions (they keep a long time and are better tasting than Walla Wallas, which rot fast) and bell peppers. The peaches and apples are hers and half the nectarines, but everything else is for me. I will pay her back for my portion out of the next grocery budget. It is less than $100.
I canned the first batch of tomatoes yesterday and got seven quarts. Today I am working on some of the bell peppers and onions. I am going to do some strips, some chunks, and some dices. I will be doing a lot of freezer bags that are half onion and half bell peppers, so they will be ready to grab and dump into the Instant Pot or crockpot when I want to make fajitas or sausage stew. I also need to work my way through more of my zucchini. I put nine bags of shredded in the freezer the other day, but I have just about that again I need to prepare, and there is more to be picked out in the garden.
It will be a very busy week for me, but it will be good to meet a lot of our winter food needs.
I figured it out earlier this week and it has been 8 years since we have taken a vacation. The last few years would have been impossible with debt and the farm animals, but now all we have are the rabbits, so the possibility exists that DH and I could sneak away for a few days at some point while DS takes care of the rabbits. I just want to go check into some air-conditioned hotel with an indoor swimming pool and get out of the heat and the horrific air quality from all the fires.
But I really can't justify it at the moment, because of debt. I am really hoping this will be paid off by next summer and then maybe we can go. Also, with DD's health still being so poor, I'd be afraid to leave her. It's just been so exhausting dealing with it and never getting the chance to recharge.
I don't know, maybe DH and I can just do a day trip with a picnic lunch. We could drive up to Birch Bay and go swimming. I just want one day with no responsibilities and no kids. But with the air being so bad, spending a day outside probably isn't the best option anyway. My asthma is already being aggravated.
How do you refresh and relax when you can't get away? I can't really afford a massage or a day spa or anything like that right now. Maybe a movie, but there's nothing worth paying that kind of money for right now. *sighs*
Well, back to canning. I'm doing my first tomatoes today. No vacations for me.
I think I am really going to like this two week meal planning/shopping business. I just have to plan really well, but if we can stay out of the grocery store I can definitely see the savings adding up. I think next time I will do an even better job, but I am just happy I came under budget and will still be able to have some pretty delicious, varied, spectacular meals.
Teriyaki/BBQ chicken wings (Instant Pot)
Green beans (garden)
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Shrimp Scampi (Instant Pot)
Green Beans (garden)
Chicken Fettucine Alfredo (Instant Pot)
Bell Peppers and Onions
All cooked together in the Instant Pot
Beef Cross Rib Roast
Green Beans (garden)
Penne Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Zucchini
All cooked together in the Instant Pot
Fried Potatoes and Peppers
So I did my two week shop on Saturday and while I did forget a couple of items like string cheese and butter, I am going to try to make do. I do have cheddar stick cheese, which I don't like as much as mozzarella string cheese, but I still like it so I'll cope. We have 1.5 lbs of Kerrygold butter in the fridge for 10 days. I usually go through 1 lb of butter in a week, so it'll cut close, but I think I can make it. If worst comes to worst I can break out the unsalted butter for baking or open a jar of ghee.
I have enough milk to get through the period. The sell by date was out 6 weeks, so I just went ahead and got what I thought I'd use instead of waiting a week to buy more. I also bought extra bread and put it in the fridge. If I don't have to go to the store at all until the next payday on the 24th, I will be quite pleased.
I use a calculator as I shop, so I know exactly how much I will be spending. When you are using cash envelopes and trying to stick to a budget you don't want to end up over your amount because you have no clue how much the stuff you are putting in your cart costs.
Here is what I got at Winco:
2 bags of crispy chicken strips
2 bags of French fries
1 large plain yogurt
1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 packs of bacon
4 ears of corn
1 3 lb bag of yellow onions
2 packs of granola bars
1 pack of hamburger buns
2 packs of hot dog buns
3 value packs of chicken thighs
3 value packs of chicken wings
4 bags of original goldfish crackers
2 20 count bags of hamburger patties
I spent $189.74 there. Then we went to Trader Joe's and got:
2 bags of roasted potatoes
2 boxes of fish nuggets
1 iceberg lettuce
4 packages hot dogs
2 bags of pita bread
2 red onions
1 bag of shredded cabbage
2 mac and cheese frozen dinners
3 bags fettucine alfredo
3 bags chicken fettucine alfredo
I spent $89.08 there. Next was Safeway where I bought:
4 boxes of organic spaghetti
2 boxes of organic penne pasta
1 18 count of organic eggs
1 turkey chub
1 package of sirloin steaks
I spent $40.01 there. The last stop was at Haggen who did not have any of the London Broil that was on special available. We picked up:
2.5 lbs of deluxe deli ham
2 large strawberry yogurts (Winco was out)
4 bags of ice
1 birthday cake
4 half gallons Milk
I can't find the receipt for that one, but I have $21.17 left out of the $400 budget for the 2 week shop. So if I really have to I can go buy butter, but I am going to try to wait it out. We may have to pick up Gatorade at some point, also.
I did do up a two week meal plan and we are sticking to it. I should probably post that separately.
I cancelled my subscription to the eye supplement I have been taking since the retinal tear. It was for floaters and it did seem to work for the first few months, but after my other eye developed a boat load of floaters last month, I have concluded that it no longer has any value.
Instead I am trying a vitamin regimen of selenium, lutein, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, and gingko biloba. I've been doing that for a week and the floaters seem lighter. I have also started doing some eye circulation exercises that are supposed to help with eye tiredness. I am also trying to eat more foods with beta carotene.
So that means I will try to focus a little more on orange sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and other dark leafies, butternut squash and other orange-fleshed squashes, cantaloupe, lettuce, red and orange bell peppers, apricots, peaches, nectarines, broccoli, and pea pods. I will be canning a case of nectarines this year and I already have a lot of apricot preserves.
Hopefully I will see some improvement. Squash is cheap and I like it and sweet potatoes are cheap here, too, even the organic ones, and of course, so are carrots, so I will likely lean towards them the most. It will add some nice variety to the diet as well. I tend to lean too heavily on regular potatoes, pasta, and rice for the carbs in our diet. These will be better for us. I think my goal will be too have something orange on my plate at least once a day.
_275.00 Monthly Chiropractic Family Plan
__50.00 Car Maintenance Fund
_100.00 Gas Money
_743.12 Credit Card
1000.00 Monster Mom Loan
$4172.48 Total Money Out
I was able to throw $1000 at the loan this pay period.
$29,500.00 Starting Balance
-_1,000.00 Payment Amount
$28,500.00 New Total
|<< Newer Entries||Older Entries >>|