Thursday, March 23, 2017

Creating Patterns

The way my brain works often surprises me.  With my daughter moving, I took a friend to her (who doesn't drive) and waited while this friend helped my daughter pack.  Since my daughter lives in an upstairs apartment, this meant I was stuck in my car for several hours.

I'm rarely bored because I always have stuff to do.  So I took some crocheting - two projects - and worked on them.  While working on one project, I came up with all these color options and ideas for working with this pattern.  In reality I wanted the yarn there right then to work on it.  Instead I'll make note of it and try them out.

While working on these two projects, another came into my head.  When I create my patterns, I normally crochet and then write.  This way I'm not re-writing but writing it as I create it.  However, this time I didn't have anything with me to be able to crochet this idea with.  I wrote a pattern - full on all rows.  I loved getting it down so I could try it later.

My middle daughter has a million skeins of yarn in my craft room she wants me to make up for her.  My intention was to find a skein or two and try out this pattern.  Instead my niece was out.  We were chatting and she said she had a need for specific headbands for summer.  I immediately thought of this new pattern I'd written.  I made her pick some yarn and bring it to me.

While we chatted, I worked on a headband for her.  By the time I was done, my pattern had been tested and revised.  She liked the headband I made her but wanted lighter weight for summer.  I had her go back to my craft room and pick out thread.

I'm not a huge fan of working with thread - it's harder for me to see and harder on my hands.  However, this is a small pattern so I thought okay I'll give it a try.  My niece thought I'd have to reduce the width of the pattern but in reality thread is much smaller than worsted weight yarn, so all I've had to do is reduce the size of my crochet hook and thread to use the same pattern to create a lighter weight headband for her.  I'm hoping she'll like it.

While I came by this pattern in almost the opposite way I normally do things, I think the pattern turned out really nicely.  It isn't difficult or too time consuming.  It works up nicely both in worsted weight and in thread.  I'll be publishing it when I get the second project done.

This means I got a lot done while sitting in the car.  I worked on two projects, came up with ideas for other projects, and wrote a pattern.  Next, I want to get those ideas for the projects down and work on them.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Medical Bills

It's been a rough year for us with urgent care and emergency room visits, doctor's appointments, tests, and procedures.  Last year our co-pays were lower and a few years ago, we rarely saw a bill with our insurance.  We paid our premiums and co-pays and the insurance paid the rest.

Unfortunately that isn't the case.  Ken had a kidney stone this year.  The emergency room visit cost us nearly $7K.  The procedure they did to blast it was about $23K.  We paid our co-pays but we're still going to be left with $715 to pay.

One of the benefits for my job - a flex plan.  I set aside money every year for medical expenses.  This year we were going to do eyes and teeth.  That was the plan.  It won't be happening.  My flex plan funds have been eaten up with co-pays, prescriptions, and tests.  I don't have enough left to pay the hospital bill for Ken's procedure.  I'll be budgeting that in - somehow.

We aren't done either.  I'm supposed to have an allergy test and sinus surgery this year.  I'm waiting on approvals from the insurance to be able to do these things in the hopes I won't spend six months on antibiotic.

I guess paying off bills and loans is going to be slower than I hoped.  I look at my budget and wonder how I'm going to fit in yet another bill and the continuing costs.  I start to wonder if I should put off some of the procedures, cut back on prescriptions, and so on.  All in an effort to save funds.  But aren't I supposed to put my health first?

Next year the state is going to self-insure.  If I'm paying this much now, how much more will I be paying?  I already have a lot of money taken out of my check for benefits and insurance.  How will we manage if I need to set aside more?  These are some of the questions weighing on my mind.  It makes me wonder if I should cope with my health issues and not have tests done.  The allergy test is $1000 if the insurance doesn't cover it.  I won't be having it done if the insurance denies it.  The question becomes how much will the insurance cover?  Same with the surgery.  They'll be knocking me out which means a full day in the hospital if there are no complications.  How much of it will the insurance pay?  How much will go on our ever growing bill?  Makes me wonder if it would be better to wait.  Antibiotics are less expensive but the stress on my body is unbearable.

We're lucky in that we have good insurance.  I cannot imagine how bad it is for those who don't have - or won't have - good insurance if ACA (Obamacare) goes away.  I'm also very concerned with what happens next year with my own insurance.  With self-insurance, I'm betting we will end up paying more - probably a lot more.  This is one of the reasons I am going ahead with the tests and surgery this year.  It is an added stress for me, especially since working for the state means raises are rare and small if you do get one.  I'll hope we don't go too far into debt in order to get these things done.

The one good thing - I believe I've finally made the last payment for last year's medical bills.  Now I have to figure out how I'm paying this years.  Anyone want to buy a book?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Riding the Waves

It's been an interesting start to the new year.  We've had a lot of going to urgent care and the emergency room.  Nothing tragic or life threatening but lots of trips with sinus infections, bronchitis, and kidney stones.  I'm ready for this to change.  It's expensive and stressful.

Monday I went to an ear nose and throat specialist.  He got me on a different antibiotic and scoped my sinuses.  I have more information now which is good.

Tuesday Ken got the all clear on his kidney stone.  It is gone.  Plus he has no stones in either of his kidneys.  All good news.

Now for the downside - after his appointment, we got supper and were settling in to our happy news.  Then my sister text to say my uncle was in the hospital.  Shortly after that text, she sent another one which said my aunt (not married to the uncle who was in the hospital but a different brother of my mom's who passed) was also in the hospital.

It's been a week.  No - really it's been a couple of months of this teeter totter affect and health issues.  I'm hoping things are evening out but I'm not holding my breath.

One of the brighter spots in my week / month is my daughter Virginia got notified she made the President's list for her excellent grades for her fall 16 schedule.  She also just finished her math class and got a 100% on her final as well as an A in the class - though this isn't official yet.  She's stressed with school but she's actually doing really well.

There's no choice but to ride the waves of my life right now.  At this point we're moving from the gully of the wave to the crest.  I'm just hoping there are no tsunamis in my future.  I'd be happy with nice gentle waves for a time.

Back at the Grindstone

With nine days off, you would think I got a lot accomplished.  I did when it comes to spending time with my girls but off my to-do list?  No...