**Shopping shopping shopping
Bought BM a jacket for $15 at Target. Wasn't my choice, but he really liked it. Looked like it would last 5 minutes. (I don't buy adult clothes there generally, but the kids' stuff usually holds up well enough for the rock bottom prices - all their $4/$5 shirts, shorts, pants). Anyway, I will keep my eye out for something better. This one will do for now.
Kohls - had no jackets (we had gone there first), but I had expiring coupons. One was $5 off. So, I bought some earrings. Full price $16 - I paid $4. I LOVE them.
My ears are sensitive so I usually get silver earrings, or apply nail polish to them. I try to avoid the cheapies, that said. BUT, those cheap earrings I got at Payless have been very nice. No ear irritation, etc. Go figure!
Kohls - one final shopping trip. After first track practice. I felt dumb about how unprepared we were (since we signed up ages ago). Went to look for some sweats or more appropriate track wear. Plus look at the shoe sizing there (didn't expect to find wides or half sizes, but was able to get a better idea how the Nike shoes fit BM - the zappos order was way too small).
Got the info and ordered up a full size from zappos again - will see. IT was $10 more, same shoes. IF these fit, I will call and ask to treat it as an exchange - can maybe get $10 back.
Anyway, we scored gold at Kohls, this round. Track pants on sale for $4. I got about 4 pairs (LM wanted one too - whatever for $4). Got a couple of pairs of shorts that were reasonable, and the kids wanted these matching t-shirts. I chose Kohls because I had a store credit from a gift exchange. So, was feeling generous.
Full price for everything was $120-ish. (I know - who pays that???). I had a $45 gift card and ended up paying about $5. I could have used a 15% off coupon, too, If I had planned ahead better. Didn't have it with me. Oh well.
Once we get track shoes, BM will be SET.
**Track? I think track will be great for BM. They were torturing him yesterday by going around the track with the slowest person in the lead. BM Was second and I wouldn't be surprised if there was pushing and shoving. He ALWAYS has to be first. I was thinking, that was genius - he needs to learn some patience. That said, I think they will quickly see he can easily outrun his age group. He was pretty bored because they were mostly walking, but I told him he had to stick with his team and work together to get everyone's stamina up. So, will be interesting. He liked Monday much better since he was able to run a mile full speed. Whoever was in front the second half was a little faster, anyway.
Likewise, one of his school friends was there. They are probably both the top of their class - nerdiest of their age group. I was kind of surprised. What is it about track that attracts the nerds? That said, I liked the parents a lot more than the soccer parents. Track is a thinking person's sport? Who knew? The school librarian was there too (her daughter) so people were reading instead of yacking on their cell phones and talking about all their stuff. A VERY different dynamic. Hopefully BM likes track. Seems right up his alley - he loves to go to the track and time laps, so I think he will enjoy it. That is why I signed him up. I liked that I could read my book without appearing extraordinarily anti-social.
**Had a thyroid blood test and everything came back normal. Absolutely no surprise (I feel great - better than before), but is nice to have the solid numbers. I personally think my thyroid is functioning better than before. From the second I had surgery my body acted like, "Good Riddance!" So any feelings about surgery being way overly aggressive have gone out the window.
I suppose "normal" thyroid levels are very subjective. I've had hormonal issues since 2006 (last baby), so wonder if I have had this growth since then. When my body kind of went whacked. As such, I may feel better than I have in 5 years. I didn't feel bad before, and most of that had worked out, but I definitely seem to have slightly more energy. I also believe my metabolism has sped up a bit.
I may come into a little money this month.
Close relative insists on paying me $300 for tax help. For the most part, EASY money. Will just put to savings. Dh and I discussed it - will somehow get it back to this person or use it for family stuff.
MIL insists on paying for the kids' piano lessons. She had mentioned it before, BUT FIL is retiring this year and she has been kind of wishy washy about this kind of stuff. I think dh and I feel more weird accepting this kind of help with our parents not working. IT's one thing when they are working and have all this disposable income. But, particularly with my parents (unexpected early retirement), I feel weird when they offer to pay for this or that. I suppose dh's family had a little more planned retirement. But, they will take a large income hit - that they have been open about.
So, I was pretty surprised about this.
Again, will just put to savings. For the short run, will build up future piano lesson savings. One of the reasons I resisted the idea initially is I don't want to turn off piano lessons if something happens to their finances. If I signed up the kids I wanted to commit to it. So, I think it is best saved for future years when MIL may not be so generous. In addition, I told dh that maybe we should save it for travel with MIL, since she always wants to travel everywhere and we can never justify the expense. Then she insists on paying, and it can get a little weird.
So, all in all, another $1300-ish to savings this year that I didn't expect. I presume MIL will just give us a $1k check. She knows we manage our money well. Getting a monthly check wouldn't be my choice, but will see. Beggars can't be choosers...
A lot of this comes from the fact that MIL and GIL babysit SIL's kids for free. So MIL feels a strong need to make this more fair and give us money. Which always has annoyed dh and I. It's like, "You don't need to give us money because SIL can't afford her own daycare. We don't want that kind of charity and would never ask that of you." But, it is what it is. In past years she would sometimes mumble under her breath that dh should get a job. Particularly when we couldn't afford a last-minute Florida vacation. Interestingly, that was before SHE retired and took over most of the SIL daycare. I think she has come to prefer that we don't ask for free daycare, over the years.
Likewise, $1k here and there wouldn't come anywhere near the cost of full-time daycare. But it makes her feel better, so, lucky us.
Viewing the 'health' Category
**Shopping shopping shopping
I got the news that my thyroid nodule was benign!
To celebrate, we went out for a way overly expensive dinner.
It was good though.
We took the kids, because a $5 kids menu item was cheaper than childcare.
My mom was appalled and tried to talk me into a date night with dh. I have been sitting home with dh for 2 weeks and we have a dinner out planned next week (fundraiser - no kids). I thought it was appropriate to celebrate with the whole family, anyway.
I can assure you we didn't need a *date night.*
Reminds me, all of my friends are mourning my return to work. Especially the clueless SAHPs who think I never see my kids. Yes, I will lose that 4:00-5:00 hour with my kids. I don't think anyone will notice or care. They spend most their hours at school.
Beyond that, I can not wait to get back to work. Tax season is not my favorite time of year, but beyond that, I am grateful to like my job and HAPPY to go back!
I had already committed increased mortgage payment for January, before I got the news. I can't help but feel the timing was to be. February is a short month and so I figure if dinner put us over budget for this month that we can probably make it up in February. Mortgage payments will stay, as is. No spending money left for January (though probably plenty for groceries and gas).
I dipped my toes in at work. I don't even know where to begin, and I know today I have the potential to be bombarded (I return full-time today - and today is when my clients expect my return - probably LOTS of phone calls).
But, for the most part, it has been much better than expected.
I also got my Continuing Ed. materials, so will either knock that out this weekend or next. Office is closed next weekend so no overtime earned this week or next, but I feel just fine. Probably for the best - a couple of more weeks before I jump in to 50-hour weeks.
At home I have been completely useless, for the most part.
I need to:
*Get taxes done this weekend
*Do my continuing Ed. at some point
*Thank you notes - I put off the whole of the last 2 weeks though I have mostly felt fine
& finally, dh really doesn't do much housework, so the house is a disaster. I haven't lifted a finger, while recovering. I probably could have done a little more.
I could feel more overwhelmed, but am gratetful that I do not have to work next weekend!
I finally got in to a Doctor for the lump on my throat/thyroid.
He really thinks it is nothing. I have an ultrasound Wednesday to look closer, and he is considering if I should get a MRI or a Cat Scan, too. (I guess Cat Scans are better for the thyroid, but do expose you to radiation. No wonder MRIs are the "go to " scan in this day and age).
It's funny because there are a lot of HDHP horror stories out there. For example, my dad's friend called an ambulance once (for a fall? turned out to be nothing?) and they got some huge bill.
I have tried to explain that our deductible is only $3k, and we save more than $3k in premiums, so it we come out ahead, regardless. Until dh's brain tumor, we never hit our deductible, anyway. So we are WAY ahead.
Our out-of-pocket increased this year and I figured that was how they would stick us - this has all been "too good to be true" on some level. Don't get me wrong - we still pay a fortune for insurance, but so much less than we would be if we had no HDHP options.
In the end, once we hit our deductible, they REALLY racheted down what they have been charging us. I could still get a surprise bill down the road (timeliness is not their strong suit). But reading all the fine print, it did seem we wouldn't get charged much beyond the deductible, and that seems to be standing true.
Under the insurance that cost a small fortune, we were charged much more heavily for things like emergency and overnight stays (maybe $500 vs. the $50 we are paying now. That's pretty substantial).
So, overall, I am still happy with our HDHP, all things considered. I feel like we are still ahead, even with a very heavy hospital/doctor usage year.
Doctor visits have been $0 (& I have had a pile), $10 for blood draws, $10 for ultrasounds, and $50 for MRIs. We maxed our deductible in January with dh's surgery, so this is all we have had to pay for, since.
Before the deductible, MRIs cost $1500. So, $50 sounds like a steal, to me. Since we will have 3-4 MRIs between the 2 of us this year. Phew!!
The good is that the Doctor does not think dh's tumor has grown at all.
The bad is he wants to do another MRI in 6 months (because he is not sure). Which just means more $$$$$$$
Overall, it's good!
He is going in for an MRI tomorrow. (He did finally set that up!)
IT would be a miracle, but I am hoping his tumor shrunk/died/disappeared.
It looks like the odds are that either it is growing again, or it stopped growing. So, realistically, I can only hope for no growth.
We probably won't know any results until the following week.
I am so glad we waited 6 months to bring this whole thing up again. It is still very likely that his doctor will recommend radiation. (cyber knife - small amounts of radiation directed only at the tumor - much safer than other radiation. A VERY simple procedure).
We just couldn't handle all this immediately after his surgery recovery. But, I think we feel ready to open that discussion and tackle it, if need be. So, I am kind of bracing myself for round 2 - which may be brought up even if there is no growth.
Just in my inbox:
"California refunds could be delayed (02-24-10)
The state budget crisis is not yet fixed, and the state's cash flow is dismal. It's too early to tell, but you can't rule out the State Controller delaying income tax refunds or issuing IOUs if California lawmakers don't resolve the budget crisis.
The rumblings are starting later than last year, though. & it is still only speculation, at this point.
As for me, I am not owed a refund. In fact, paid in the minimum I had to - just for this reason. But, figured I'd pass along since I have seen the questions around here - about state refunds this year.
Feeling relieved today. Took the kids for dental cleanings. BM seems extremely cavity prone. So, basically, I hold my breath every time we go to the dentist. Not only for BM, but wondering if LM will develop the same cavity-proneness.
It turns out BM did not have any cavities, and the plaque they had been monitoring had desisted, so no X-rays next time either. (Not sure I agree with this - give the boy X Rays! Beats a surprise of an army of cavities festering all year). But, was all good news, yes.
However, his baby teeth had been falling out, out of order, and as a preventitive measure, they did want to pull a tooth, in an effort to get the teeth growing in the right place. I exclaimed it was already loose, as of a few days - more for BM's sake. I have had teeth removed - baby teeth are easy - and loose ones must be easier. Dentist thought I was fighting her and said, "well, if it come out on its own in a couple weeks." Pfffft. That is not going to happen. Told her I was just glad it was already loose - we will come in for the extraction.
Full price is $200. 10% cash discount. 25% off that for tax deduction. In the end $135 for a little prevention, is no biggie. Not that I really think it will matter. The kids inherited my teeth - so we are screwed. I have been saving for orthodnotia since before they were even born.
I suppose this is why a tooth extraction doesn't bother me as much. Those are given, with my genes!
I couldn't fit another dentist appointment in BM's or my schedule for another 2 weeks. (To be fair - trying to work around school more than anything!) Lord I hope dh is up to taking him next time. He should feel mighty fine by then.
Found out my friend's child has a benign brain tumor. THey have been spending the last couple of weeks ruling out cancer. I feel extra grateful we didn't have to go down that route. (They have been meeting with oncologists and getting biopsies in the time frame we were already interviewing surgeons - dh's tumor was so obviously not cancerous).
But yeah, it's like there is something in the water. Yeesh.
As for us, I can't believe we may be putting this chapter behind us, in just a few days. Dh went out for a hair trim yesterday, and his hair is back to all one length. Can still see the scar, but it will be covered up completely in no time. (If he had darker hair - it would probably no longer be visible). His next MRI is in a few days. Hopefully, his final MRI!
It felt like this day would never arrive, as we have been anxiously waiting.
Surgery went better than expected. Can we call my dh "miracle boy," or what?
Wednesday was a whirlwind of medical appointments and tests. We met briefly with the surgeon, who told us that he may leave up to 50% of the tumor, in a futile attempt to save dh's stereo hearing. He said he had never saved hearing with such a large tumor before (ever), BUT that it is extremely rare that any one with this type tumor has much hearing to begin with. The fact that dh lost his hearing only temporarily twice, is no less than miracle. Usually, once it's gone, it's gone.
Oh yes - let me back up - the weather here is CRAZY. It is also a miracle we made it to the Bay Area in one piece. Egads, what a week it has been. We drove through some terrible rain, saw some amazing rainbows, and somehow managed to miss every lightning storm with all our driving. We also have sat in a lot of homes without electricity. The hotel and the hospital have been a nice change of pace, with electricity and all.
So, back to surgery (it's been a LONG day!!!)
It was a whole day affair, though the actual cutting and stitching was about 6 hours. Was at the hospital over 12 hours, though.
We were all stunned when the surgeon walked out and said that 95% of the tumor had been removed. Too early to tell, I suppose, but he said that radiation may not be necessary after all. That, I never expected. He said his hearing seemed okay, but they never know. The truth is it would be a miracle.
Dh was pretty insistent when he woke up, that he see me. The first thing he told me was that he couldn't hear (out of one side). I told him 95% of the tumor was gone, and he seemed relieved. I think we had more second thoughts at the last minute. Truth is, how would he feel with 50% of the tumor still in there, and no hearing? Which in the end was a likely scenario. I am so relieved we don't have to live with that. It was never raised as an option that we would skip radiation. It is amazing.
I do admit, that I hold some hope on the hearing. He's got it back before. What about when all the swelling goes down? Even a little bit means a simple hearing aid as opposed to more expensive hearing procedures/devices. Will see...
Facial paralysis was another biggie. Doctor said the tumor was most entwined with the facial sensory nerve. Which had really been his only symptom (numb face) besides hearing that came and went. In the end, he asked if his face was droopy. It looked a tad droopy, though I don't think I would have noticed otherwise. He has a beard which I think hides it. His eyes and cheeks seems fine, we only really noticed his lips being a little lax. Regardless, the surgeon felt his facial nerve was fine, and temporary facial weakness is expected. Paralysis is pretty rare. Not a lot of worries there. Clearly he wasn't paralyzed...
Dh looked amazing! Everyone warned me about how terrible he would look, etc.
Is that it? But for the bandaging, you'd never guess he had brain surgery. He was obviously doing quite well.
All along they told us he would get a private room, probably. Which surprised me as we were in an old hospital. In the end, they were wrong. I was rather relieved. The nurse said she would be in the room all night, waking him every hour to check his vitals, etc. I was so relieved to come to my hotel and rest. I couldn't stay over since he didn't have a private room. (Bummer - not?) He won't remember anything. Well, so they say. He seemed amazingly alert. Not "too" loopy? Though admittedly, loopy!
Tomorrow night he may get a private room, and that may be nice. When he gets out of ICU. He may go home Saturday or Sunday - is that absurd?
Anyway, I suppose we already knew, but there is nothing more important than friends and family. Times like these you just kind of get that kick in the butt. This week has been made bearable by the love of friends and family.
I know MIL was set on this clinic in LA, but I think being so close to our family has been FAR more important. & let's face it, the doctor we decided on kicked butt! I can't tell you how relieved we are today that we didn't fall for the LA hype. I had reservations all along about the logistics of all that. It wasn't a sole reason to not go there, but I have to kind of say, "I was right!" I was so annoyed that MIL was writing off places like Stanford, for LA. I couldn't understand why looking in our own backyard (with AMAZING medical facilities) wouldn't be a priority. All we have heard all week is how our HMO has the best neurosurgery facility in Northern California, and how our surgeon is one of the best in the world. & we have been justifying our choice all along. What sweet revenge today was. Though maybe the best thing is that all our family is here, too. It just is kind of the icing on the cake. I never imagined that today could "fly by," but it kind of did with all the support we had.
Anyway, this is really just the beginning, on some level. But, I think it's a good start. I am wishing dh a very speedy recovery!
Dh got his surgery date - it's in about 3 weeks.
Yesterday we freaked out a bit. I don't know if it is more real, or if we are just so panicked because it ended up much sooner than expected. We were expecting a February date.
I am relieved we haven't had to get our affairs in order. Long said and done. It's not like he was in an accident and we have minutes to decide. We have had weeks. But it's nice to know that our life insurance and wills and all that are well squared away. I don't know if dh is as insurable any more, so another sigh of relief there. He's well covered for the rest of his life - with the extremely low cost life insurance we bought in our 20s.
Lots of daycare arrangements are to be made in the next 2 weeks!!!
Anyway, to the doctors, this is no big deal. It would be like a 1-night hospital stay if he could get up and walk out. Since they are severing his balance nerve on one side, they want him to regain some balance before he leaves. 3 days in the hospital if all goes well. There has been no talk of risk of death or brain damage, because the odds of anything like that are SO slim.
& yet, they are operating on his BRAIN. It's just hard to accept that it will be so easy peasy.
I assume we will be a bit of a wreck the next few weeks. I will feel so relieved once this surgery is over with.
His pre-op appointment is early, the day after his birthday. So we will go to San Jose the night before and have a BIG birthday celebration, I am sure.
He assumed I would work hard to catch up at work the next few weekends. I asked him if he was crazy - I am spending some good quality time with him while he is well! Though he may make some plans to get together with friends.
So yeah, we decided to take the kids down with us and we will have a leisurely day before his surgery. Will get a hotel a couple of nights, since we have to be at the hospital at dawn, for surgery. I figure I wanted to be close to the hospital the first night - and it will be nice to have a place to rest if the surgery runs super long.
If all goes well he will have surgery Thursday, and be home by Sunday.
We decided to get a nice family portrait before his surgery. Compliments of my dad. Something I'd be willing to pay for, but I know we can get something real nice, for free. There is a possibility his face will be paralyzed, so he wants to get some pictures of his "perfect face" before surgery.