Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gone missing...

I guess I've been missing for a while! Life's been life around here!

I've been pretty down about our medical bills lately. Sierra has HORRIBLE teeth (and I "pinky promise"--as she would say--we have done everything the dentist has asked us to do to take care of her teeth). She had 5 fillings done earlier in her life and we found out in August that she has 9 more cavities. Two of those required caps being put on her teeth. We don't have dental insurance--it costs too much and covers too little to be worth it (even in this situation), so we gulped and paid a $1600 dental bill. I know, I know, it's kinda rude to talk money, but that is a gargantuan number in our family and I have to have it out there so it doesn't eat away my insides. Then we got all the bills from when Sedona cut her eye. I just love that the insurance company charges as if it's an unnecessary ER visit just because you weren't admitted---nevermind the fact that you truly needed emergency care after all the doctor's offices were closed. That was another several hundred dollars (which they called harassing us for when we just got the bill one week ago! HELLO PEOPLE! Give the postal service time to get the check there--sheesh!). Then Sierra got strep throat a little while back--another doctor visit, another copay, but thankfully good ol' $4 amoxicillin. Then I got the strep throat...another copay and since I'm allergic to the amoxicillin, I got to pay full price for azithromycin. Apparently our plan changed this year (which just started) and you have to pay the full deductible up front (they used to spread it out over the year, so they still paid a percentage of each prescription you filled. Also new toothbrushes for the entire family to keep from spreading the strep further (thank you to my doctor for that tip and a big fat sarcastic "thanks for nothing!!!" to the doc who saw Sierra for NOT telling me that!). It has also come to my attention that the flu has officially "blossomed" around here, so I'm waiting for that to pop up in our household. Though, I've also learned that the only one of us who would be prescribed tamiflu is Sedona, so I guess I can save the copay on any of the rest of us. Had a friend that was actually told they would not prescribe her 4 year old tamiflu because she was too old. Poor kiddo sounded horrible, so she took her to urgent care, where they DID give it to her, but still...

So yes........I feel like I'm drowning in medical debt even though it's all paid off (I gave the money to the people, but there is a big negative balance in this part of my budget book that I'm slowly whittling away at rather than putting money into a more fun category). So if we're gonna talk about frugal living and budgeting, let's be honest---my completely irrational instinct when I'm having trouble making ends meet is to just say "aww........what the h-e-double hockey sticks" and just start spending like crazy. Especially when it's a lot of doctor visits/medications that are the culprit, I really don't feel like focusing on anything but convenience, no matter the cost.

Gotta be realistic though. So, we've done a very small amount of eating out, mostly when I've scrounged 65 cents for a donut out of the car floor board, or we pick up a $6 ready to eat pizza and pull the money from the grocery budget. Josh has done a LOT of extra soccer games, which means he's been gone a lot the past few weekends, but it needs to be done for now. I did a session of freezer cooking with a friend this week---it worked out that I was able to contribute things I had on hand and get $15 from her and I have 6 dinners, 2 pounds of meatballs, bread sticks, biscuits, 10 big burritos, and two kinds of breakfast bars stored away in the freezer. Getting ready for the cooking session also required me to thoroughly inventory my freezer and there is some stuff in there I totally forgot I had. Plenty of veggies, chicken and I even found vacuum packed ribs. I'm seriously contemplating a little grocery challenge---I usually spend about $150/month, I want to cut that down to $50 for October. We have two deep freezers and the pantry's reasonably well stocked (plenty of flour, sugar, yeast...), we could eat for two months just on what we have if I was really motivated.

I should be clear about my little pity IS a pity party. We aren't broke, we don't have credit card debt, we do own a house with considerable equity built up. We aren't those people that are having to rob peter to pay paul. If something really horrendous came up, we would have all sorts of options--both girls are in (a pretty expensive) school, when they don't really have to be, and selling the house (the market's still good here) would net us a nice chunk of cash pretty quickly. However, my extreme aversion to debt is the reason we are in a pretty good financial situation despite living on one graduate student stipend, and my mental health will be MUCH better off if I manage to come up with the moola to balance out the "medical and dental expenses" sheet in my budget book without draining our "rainy day" savings or pulling the kids out of school. So grocery challenge it is, since that's the only real wiggle room I have these days.

In honor of cheap food...updated garden pics!
The tomatoes are staked up now and still happy. We seem to be making up for our lack of rain over the summer, we haven't had to water in about 3 weeks.

The beans are going crazy. I never did thin them and I'm still wondering if I should or just leave them alone

The broccoli is leafing out a bit and waiting for cooler weather

As is the cabbage

And my little peas are poking up to say hello!

Apples are getting cheaper...hoping to see at least $0.67/pound so we can make applesauce for the next year.

And a few happy pics. Grandma was kind enough to pay for Sierra to be in music class this year. Unlike a lot of homeschooling parents I've talked to, I'm completely confident about teaching things like calculus, chemistry and biology, but I totally freak out about teaching things like music and art. I wanted her to have a solid music background and we have a good Kindermusik here in town. Sierra is at the age where she can enter their Young Child program. I've been very impressed so far, she and I have both learned new things. Her homework this week was to bring in something that has a beat or that she can play a steady beat on. My (science minded) idea won't quite work for class, but I wanted to show her anyway......a HEARTbeat, of course! ;-)

And here's Sierra making meatballs for me. The cold hurts my hands really badly, so she mixes them and forms the meatballs and I do the cooking--we make a good team :-)

And a few lyrics from a good ol' country song...

"The kids screaming, phone ringing
Dog barking at the mailman bringing
That stack of bills - overdue
Good morning baby, how are you?
Well, it's ok. It's so nice
It's just another day in paradise
Well, there's no place that
I'd rather be
But somebody had a bad dream
Mama and daddy
Can me and my teddy
Come in to sleep in between?
Well, it's ok. It's so nice
It's just another day in paradise
Well, there's no place that
I'd rather be"
(excerpts from Just Another Day in Paradise by Craig Wiseman and Phil Vassar)


One Acre Homestead said...

Glad you're back!! :-) I feel your pain on the medical bills. Just yesterday, Bella came down with the dreaded flu...come to find out every pharmacy in our area (including nearby towns) are out of the liquid form of Tamiful (and it's back ordered). They CAN mix it themselves, but our insurance won't pay AT ALL for that we shelled out $120 for a half of a bottle of "homemade" Tamiflu...ACK.

I'm hoping Maddie either goes ahead and gets the flu over the weekend or that she doesn't get it at all...we're supposed to be leaving for Disney World in 10 days (trip of a lifetime sponsored by grandma!).

On the gardening front...are you going to make sauerkraut with your cabbage again? I'm really interested in trying that one of these days.

The Hills said...

Ick on the tamiflu!! I haven't heard anything from the health department, but I suspect from what I've heard about restrictions on prescribing it that it's in fairly short supply. Sure hope Maddie isn't sick on the trip---had a friend just go and her grandma fell while there and shattered her hip (has to stay there in the hospital 2 weeks before she can transfer home), then the baby came down with high fever and throwing up...overall a nightmare vacation.

I don't eat sauerkraut and I didn't like making it, so I'll be campaigning hard to just stick with fried cabbage and cole slaw ;-)

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