Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Insurance Changes.....For the Better?






As I write this, I am still trying to wrap my head around the actual good news Papa received from work regarding benefits.  Since our family has medical issues, this is a pretty amazing way to start our 2018.....which hopefully means next year will be much kinder to us that its two predecessors.

Anyway, I think everyone knows already, but, Papa works for a very well known hospital here in Connecticut.  It happens to be where my MS doctor is, G2 had her appendix removed in their children's hospital, G1 had her anorexia addressed, I had my ovarian polyp removed, etc.  My point is that even before Papa worked here, it was our first choice with health issues and this is VERY IMPORTANT moving into next year.

Why?

Well, the hospital has reconfigured their insurance.  As in the past, we will stay at the most expensive tier/option of the plan.  My disease is too unpredictable not to do this.  However, the benefits we will receive will be better too.

While I don't have ALL the information yet because I was in a state of shock, Papa did tell me some of the highlights that were most important to us.....
Basically, the hospital wants employees and their families to receive care from doctors/hospitals in their direct network - meaning doctors using their billing system and any sister hospital that the main campus owns.  We are already ahead of the game since we (mostly) do this anyway.
By doing this, we will receive some perks...

1. All preventative care (ie yearly checkups) are 100% free - same as last year but worth noting anyway.
2. Any other doctor visits (ie illness related) are a flat copay only as long as you use one of "their" doctors. This is enormous for us since before, when someone got sick, we had our copay and a decent portion of the bill until we reached a certain deductible. 
As an example, G1 went to the doctor this year as a "sick" visit.  After paying the $40 copay, I was another $250 plus dollars out of pocket for lab work! 
Like I said, this will be a big deal moving forward.
3.  One of Papa's prescriptions will be completely free - saving us $120/year!
4.  We were concerned about what was going to happen with G1 since she isn't registered in college (yet!  another story for another day).  Papa got clarification that, with the new plan, she can stay on our insurance regardless of college enrollment until age 26.  This includes vision and dental!
5.  Speaking of vision, for about $25/year more than we pay now, we can have an increased allowance for glasses/contacts.  Currently, we get $95/per year/per person.  That extra $25 will bump us up to a  $250/per year/per person allowance.  That's music to my ears as I am blind as a bat! LOL
6.  Papa has been putting off getting gall bladder surgery - partially because he has been so busy at work and partially because of the cost in copays.  Well, he researched what it will cost us out of pocket on the new  plan.....$400 total!  That's it! 
7.  My yearly MRIs will now have a flat copay of $100!  Last year, my portion was over $500!  Now, I have been spoiled and used a facility close to home (like a five minute walk from my house!) for the past two MRI's.  However, I have zero problems with driving into New Haven to do this moving forward....especially since I used to get my MRIs done there anyway.

So, as of right now, these are the main highlights.  I neglected to ask Papa how much (if at all) insurance was increasing.  However, knowing Papa, if it was a large change from what we are paying currently, he would have mentioned it!

Sorry for the boring post, but I cannot even begin to explain the relief I am feeling right now about insurance!

Happy Hump Day!


Monday, October 16, 2017

Meals This Week...



Before all hell broke loose around here (LOL), I had blogged about how having a menu plan in place was helping me....and it really was!  I loved having a schedule of when I was making what for dinner, etc.

Right now, I think it's probably more beneficial for me to have an idea of what I can/will make but skip the assignment of days.  Life is too unpredictable at the moment for rigidity.

So, here are my plans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner this week (Monday through Friday).


Breakfast Choices
Yogurt with granola
French Toast
Chocolate Chip muffins (from mix in pantry)
Egg McMuffin style sandwiches (homemade)
Pumpkin Bread (have to buy pumpkin first!)
Granola bars (Grab and go for G2)
Belgian waffles (homemade using mix in pantry)



Lunch Choices
Leftovers
Pasta salad
Farro salad
Pumpkin soup (need to make)
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Quesadillas



Dinners

Meal 1
BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Macaroni and cheese
Corn on the cob

Meal 2
Chicken Tiki Masala
Naan

Meal 3
Balsamic Chicken
Jasmine Rice
Roasted Honeyed carrots

Meal 4
Lasagna
Garlic bread
Salad

Meal 5
Mongolian Beef
Broccoli
Jasmine Rice


Let's see if this planning suits me for the moment.

Hope you all had a wonderful Monday! 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

October Groceries So Far.....


So, I'm trying to find my mojo and get back to blogging.  Just hang in there with me ok?  I'll probably dedicate another post to what has been going on in my little world.   And, thank you all for your kind words and well wishes.  It truly means more than you know.

But for now let's talk groceries, shall we?  I know without a shadow of a doubt I aimed way too low for October...even with the Costco trip gifted to me by my parents. At last check in, I was already down to $123 of the ridiculously nonexistent  $150 I had allocated.  I'm nowhere near savvy enough to accomplish this - especially with all the extra stressors in my life right now.

However, I'm going to remain accountable and do my best to keep as much money in my pocket as possible.  I'm readjusting my October budget to more than double my original goal....Now I would like to be at $350 or under.

Let's check out the damage since last check in.....


CVS:  $14.22*
*total between two separate transactions to maximize ECBs!

3 packages (9 double roll each) of store brand toilet paper
2 (12 oz each) Suave body wash

On Monday, I realized we were woefully low on both of the above things so an (almost) emergency trip was needed!  Half way decent toilet paper is SO expensive!  Anyone have any good tips/hacks about spending less on the stuff since we are literally throwing it away?  LOL


Dollar Tree:  $5.19
Hydrogen Peroxide
1 (40 ft) aluminum foil
1 bag potato chips
1 small bottle of Dawn dish detergent
1 bottle of pepper


Farmer's Market:  $18
1 quart milk
1 pint vanilla yogurt
1/2 loaf olive bread
1 pint pumpkin/bacon/apple soup
1 pint sweet potato curry soup


Big Y:  $43.23
2 packages of shredded mozzarella
1 (16 oz) container of sour cream
1/2 lb deli American cheese
2 jars of pizza sauce (buy one/get one free)
2 cans Bush red kidney beans
1 roll parchment paper
2 bottles maple syrup (buy one/get one free)
1 bag of jasmine rice
1 (2 lb) bag of brown sugar
1 (2 lb) bag of powdered sugar
2 racks of baby back pork ribs (buy one/get one free)
1 small container of seafood salad


Big Y:  $7.98
G1 has been having sore throat issues due to allergies.  Tea has been helping tremendously so...
2 containers of Pure Leaf tea bags


Big Y:  $32.05
1/4 lb of black olives
1/2 lb deli American cheese (we go through a LOT)
1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
1 container chocolate sprinkles
1 container of Ken's salad dressing
1 loaf of store brand white bread
1 very large (over 7lbs!) roast chicken on a great sale
1lb London Broil steak
1/2 lb of broccoli crowns
2 plum tomatoes
1 package of veggie sushi


Big Y:  $38.47
3 bags UTZ chips
1 jar Newman's salsa
2 bags of white cheddar popcorn
4 cases of diet Coke (which now looking at my receipt from a week ago, I see I got mischarged and did NOT get the advertised price....insert eye roll here please)
2 boxes of penne rigati


Farmer's Market:  $9
1 quart whole milk
1 pint cherry yogurt
1 pint raspberry yogurt



Total Spent this Week:  $168.14
Total Spent in October thus Far:  $195.14
Left in (revised) budget:  $154.86


Honestly with how I have been feeling recently and my current lack of motivation, this isn't going to be an easy feat...even with the revised amount.

But, all I can do is get through the month and keep trying right?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Still Here...



Sorry for the radio silence on the blog lately.

Things just keep getting piled higher and higher and I simply haven't had much time to sit at the computer.

There have been some good things that I plan on writing about - hopefully this coming week.

But...

Mostly it's been an absolute crap-fest...

Papa's mom ended up back in the hospital again with a raging infection.  Good news is that, as of this morning, her white blood cell count is heading back towards an appropriate level and the drains they placed in her stomach have done their job.  But, before this morning, this week was NOT a good one for her.

We also found out that Papa's favorite uncle just passed away.  We saw him at W's funeral and he was fine.  The day he went home he had a stroke and ended up in the hospital - where the doctors discovered he had both brain and lung cancer.  Poor Uncle P went downhill really fast.  We will be heading to Pennsylvania for the wake but we will literally drive there, pay our respects, and have to drive back home all the same day. 

And, lastly, because bad things usually happen in threes, my father's health seems to be failing a bit.  We aren't sure if it is from the Parkinson's or something else.  Thankfully, my mom is a nurse and is keeping a close eye on him.  She will contact his doctor tomorrow and see what he thinks.

Anyway...

I want to apologize again for how much of a downer this blog has been lately.

I'm going to do my best to keep it positive moving forward.

But, I wanted to let you all know what was going on should I disappear for a little time again.

Hope you all are well!





Sunday, October 1, 2017

Update and Moving to October Grocery Budget....



The end of September left me more beaten up than a Mike Tyson opponent in the '90s!  Every single day last week something happened!  The end result of which has left me with some unexpected extra bills for October - I'm looking at you broken down cell phone!, and some expected but nevertheless extra bills- wood for the fireplace and filling up the oil tank.

However...

Today starts a brand new month!  And, I am going to FORCE myself to be positive! LOL

Speaking of positivity...

Let's talk about the September grocery budget, shall we?

I ended up sticking to my goal of $200 or under with a whopping total of

$198.92!

So, that at least makes me pretty darn happy!

As a matter of fact, let's keep the grocery theme on this post going....




This month, I am really going to try to S-T-R-E-T-C-H myself even further and try to stay at $150 but definitely no more than $200!  How could I even think about going that low considering what I have spent in months past?

Well, in the interest of full disclosure...

My parents gifted me with more Costco goodies!

Here's a list of what got added to my kitchen for free thanks to Mom & Dad's surprise....

2 large tubs of Tollhouse cookie dough (Mom was really excited to find this in stock again because my girls love this stuff - even though I can easily make homemade)
1 large package of ground beef - which I divided into four packages for the freezer plus enough for two burgers for Papa & me last evening)
1 huge pack of BSCB (14 breasts total)
4 lbs of bacon
1 sack of onions
3 ribeye steaks
1 bag baby potatoes
4 lbs butter
1 jar of pesto
1 large double pack of pizza dough
1 bag of fun sized chocolate candy bars
1 double pack of potato rolls
1 large bag of tortilla chips
1 large bag of mini ciabatta rolls
1 package of naan
1 container of chicken noodle soup
1 huge container of strawberries
1 bag green beans
1 case diet Coke
1 case water
1 case Gatorade
1 case diet Snapple

So, yeah very helpful!


Saturday, we ended up at the Farmer's Market, as usual but it's being counted against October's budget....

Farmer's Market:  $27
1 pint of heavy cream
1 vanilla yogurt
2 small acorn squash
 1 pint of butternut squash soup
1 pint of corn chowder
1 (2 quart) container of Winesap apples

So, I am already down to...

$123.00 for October!

YIKES!  If I can do this, it will be so super helpful with navigating October's bills and, when next month's baking supplies go on sale, I will be in great shape!

How did your September go?

Are you challenging yourself to stay low for October?



Thursday, September 28, 2017

Exhausted....



I would like to think that I at least try to keep this blog mostly positive....

Right now, I am just too exhausted to do it so I am going to keep this post short.

My mother in law had emergency surgery last night.  Something had gone haywire with the reconnection of her intestines and the doctors suspected a leak.  When they opened her up, they were flabbergasted.  Basically, her bowels had twisted on themselves and blood supply was cut off.  Part of the tissue had already turned green!  The surgeons said another 12 hours and she would have gone into septic shock!  One of the surgeons said that in his 16 years of doing this procedure he has never seen this happen before!  Papa and I have our theories and reasons to suspect a third doctor who went in last to fix a hernia during the original procedure.  We wonder if he jostled something because 1.his part of the surgery went double the time it was scheduled and 2.he never bothered to come out and talk with us when the surgery was over (and as the closing doctor, it was his responsibility to do so).  Obviously, whatever happened, happened and all we can do is move forward and hope my mother in law stabilizes soon.

I'll be lurking around my favorite blogs for a bit....not sure I will comment but I'll be reading when I can.

And, I will be back posting again soon, hopefully.

This week has just been shit and I need to regroup.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Bit Heartbroken...



I don't know what has been going on but Sunday was a crazy day and yesterday was even worse!  It is like the whole world has gone mad, I swear to God!

I debated writing/posting this since it is completely unrelated to anything but, since it's my blog (LOL), I decided to go ahead and get this out there.

In the past I am fairly sure I have mentioned "C", the young woman I met through a friend of a friend on social media who is very troubled.  She doesn't have a lot of friends, has a mental illness, and almost zero family support.  My heart just went out to this girl.

I have always tried my best to help as much as I could.  There have been countless late night texts and 3am phone calls.  There have been late dinners for my own family because I was trying to help her through tough moments.  A "can I call you quick?" was never less than 60 minutes.  I guess what I am trying to say is that I truly embraced her like another daughter - which may have been my downfall.

Over the past month plus, a LOT has been happening in my own little family....some stuff I have shared...the death of my brother in law, the rearranging/scrambling of G1's gap year due to Ramsey's accident, my mother in law going back into surgery...and some stuff I haven't.  Through all of it, I have still tried to be there for C when she really needed it.  (And C was fully aware of everything that was going on at home since I always gave an explanation when I was short on time and couldn't always randomly chat.)

So Sunday night I pretty much collapsed into bed and, like probably a lot of you, sat on social media on my phone to take a few minutes to unwind/catch up.  I will be the first to admit that I posted a LOT Sunday night on the whole NFL controversy (which I won't be getting into here) on my Facebook.

Yesterday morning, I woke to a general post (both on Instagram and Facebook) from C (and I'm paraphrasing) about how someone should create a social media outlet for obnoxious individuals who are always posting political stuff.  And how people need to stop complaining and get over it.  On Instagram she added "stop acting like it's your goddamned full time job".  I don't know....maybe because I posted so much Sunday night but I just knew it was about me.  


Anyway, it was bugging me.  So, I made a lighthearted joke about how you can unfollow a person on Facebook yet stay their friend.  (Unfollowing will just keep their posts off your newsfeed)  I kept it very non-confrontational and tried to be a bit self deprecating to lessen the tension.

Less than a minute later, I got a nastygram via Facebook messenger...
(I have a copy of that because I screenshot it on my phone to show Papa)

"It's you and about four other people, and I already did unfollow you.  Just a shame that you say you'll be there for someone, then say you are too busy to do so yet post about all this bullshit on Facebook all day"

I took a deep breath, reminded myself I was dealing with a 20 year old and composed a fairly nice response that couldn't be sent because she blocked me.

Basically I wrote that I was sorry she felt that way.  When I am on social media, it's when I have five or ten minutes to spare....like waiting for G2 at dismissal,  in a line, or waiting for test results at the doctor's office  or right before bed, etc.  That I was sorry she felt like I let her down.  That I tried to be there for her as much as I could be but I truly did have situations at home I needed to take care of as well.  I was going to tell her that I wished her well and success in the future too.

Papa and the Guppies were shocked when I told them what happened.  They keep telling me that I went way above what could have ever been expected of me.  While I (partially) believe they are right, I still feel very badly.

But, maybe that's because of what I ended up doing....

C's particular mental illness is characterized by extreme mood swings.  While I have never seen one of these get nasty, I am thinking that she is in the middle of one.  She blocked me on all social media but...

I decided to block her phone number so that I cannot be reached anymore by her.  Papa told me it was good that I did that so I can't be sucked back in again.  He knows me very well because I probably would have been.

I'm not a mental health professional.  I'm just a mom who saw some struggling and wanted to help.

I told Papa yesterday that I was done helping people....that I was going to just pay attention to my family and long time friends.

But....

Deep down, I know that's not true.  That eventually I would try again to help someone if they needed it.

If you have made it this far, I have to admit I'm not sure of the point of this post.

I think I simply needed to get it out of my brain and heart.

I guess I am hoping that writing this down will help alleviate the pain and disappointment (in myself for not having the energy to give even more) that I feel in my heart right now.