Struck down by the plague.

I’m sure I’ve written before about my tendency to over do it – that’s not a new thing for me. I am, at all times, struggling to figure out whether I want to live life as a person who will sleep when she’s dead or if I want to be one who takes time to smell the proverbial roses. I will bounce from “YES!!! I WILL DO ALL OF THE THINGS!” to “I’m going to sit on the couch with the boys and drink cocoa in my slippers and watch My Girl”. And yet, I know my real happiness lies in being able to tell when I need to be more of one for a few days than the other.

And sometimes I ignore that internal voice that is clearly telling me to slow the fuck down in order to feel like I’m really making progress. A.K.A. last week.

One of my 40 by 40 list items is to make my bedroom beautiful. It’s a thing I’m doing for myself because at almost 40 years old I’ve never had a “put together” bedroom. I would really love to have a soft, comfortable, peaceful space that is my own. One of the things on my “to make the bedroom pretty” list was to paint and it was something that was relatively easy and inexpensive to achieve.

So, into the small space between painting shelf inserts and hanging a TV in the basement rec room and planning activities for a long weekend at my Dad’s, I sandwiched the painting of my bedroom.

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Paint color is sea salt by Sherwin-Williams. Quilt by Target.

I’m crazy, I know. But I mean…LOOOOK. Look at how pretty it is! I loooove the new color! And I love my super warm IKEA down alternative comforter. And my pretty Target quilt. With the Fire Stick I have on my TV across the room and the easy access to the bathroom and kitchen for more tea, I basically never want to leave my room.

Oh, and aside from all of that I made a wreath hanger from some old wire I found in the basement and hung the wreath I got from my nephew’s Cub Scout fund-raiser on the front of the house. And hung Christmas lights. And chaperoned a field trip for Will’s class. And wouldn’t you know it, but last Tuesday as I was moving the last of the furniture back into place I suddenly realized I wasn’t feeling so hot.

MY GOD I WONDER WHY.

So instead of joining The Man’s family for a casual Thanksgiving lunch before heading out-of-town, I stayed at home resting my fever-y eyeballs binge watching Longmire.

God bless him, though, he picked my boys up so that they could have some turkey and a few hours’ worth of breathing germ-free air. I postponed the trip to Dad’s by a day and we drove up Friday morning instead, but I was sick all weekend in a way I haven’t been in years.

I’m happy to report I’m finally feeling much better. Just in time to rake the last of the leaves, fix the lights on the house (they’re hanging a little wonky), make the cookies I didn’t get around to making this past weekend…

KIDDING…kidding. Feeling better just in time to make dinner. 😉

 

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Hello? Housekeeping?

Work has really gotten in the way of life this week. I took Monday off to chaperone a field trip for Will’s class, but the rest of this week has involved a large software set-up for work with regularly scheduled meetings sprinkled on top. I can barely catch my own breath most days let alone think of writing, but I’m trying to stick to that “two posts a week” goal, so here we are. I ain’t promising much!

Speaking of goals…I have a few 40 by 40 updates that really aren’t big enough for posts of their own.

Number 15 was “Set up plan to get laser eye surgery in 2018” and, uh, that ain’t happening. My insurance notes that I’d receive a 40% discount through an in-network provider, but as I’ve already found out, that doesn’t exactly mean I’m getting a good deal. I called and made an appointment with a local in-network provider, but I’m going to cancel it. I was told during the call that I’d pay “only $1395 per eye!”. I can’t see having an extra $2800 in the next year. Maybe I will, but likely I won’t. I’ll look into this again in a year or two, possibly when working for an employer that offers better coverage. (Note to self: also possibly look into contacting other providers, some out-of-network, just to see if prices vary.) But I’ve also decided that the pair of glasses I just bought will be the last until I go in for LASIK, so I’ve got that motivation (and lack of expense) keeping this on my mind.

Number 33 was “Make an appointment with a primary care doc”. This one I’m quite glad that I did. Well, so far I am anyway. This is considered a ‘preventative care visit’ and should be covered at 100%, but I’m sure Anthem will find a way to bill me for something if at all possible.

I think its been more than 15 years since I last saw a primary care doc, but being older now has it’s advantages. Since having more babies is off the table for me, I can have my primary care doc do my yearly “lady checkup” at the same time as my cholesterol screening and what not, saving me the need to see a secondary doctor for those things. Kinda like a “one stop shop” for all things health.

The actual interesting part of this story was that the morning I went in for the appointment I, without thinking about it, picked up my son’s half eaten fruit cup off the counter and finished it off. Meaning I had broken my required 12 hour fast. On a damn fruit cup. Well, shit.

Which meant that I had to go back a few days later to have my blood drawn, and the next possible time I could do so was ON HALLOWEEN. So a very nice (and very chatty) nurse who was dressed as a witch drew four vials of blood from me, first thing in the morning, and I wasn’t even allowed to have coffee beforehand. FOUR VIALS. What in the hell do they even need that much blood for?! Apparently, all of these things:

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The good news is that the witch did a very good job and all of my levels came back in the “good” zone so I don’t have to go back for at least a year.

Go me.

Bet your bottom dollar you’ll lose the blues in Chicago…

Number ten on my 40 by 40 list was to take a day trip to Chicago with my boys. On a recent off-school “teacher development” day, the boys and I took the train down to the Windy City.

Now, here’s why this item made my list: I have *VERY* few memories of doing anything with my mother as a child. Granted, I am the oldest of four, so when I was of the prime age to remember such things she was dealing with my brother and I and two babies at home (my youngest two brothers are seven and nine years younger than the older two of us). I remember my Dad playing Monopoly with us and taking us sledding and out for all sorts of other outdoor activities, but other than one conversation we had about “growing women’s bodies” (EW) and a few road trips to visit an aunt in North Dakota, I don’t recall spending much time with her. There aren’t even any photos of the two of us together. I consciously want to make sure my kids have things to remember about our relationship when they’re older.

Two years ago we made the same trip and visited the Field Museum, the Bean and Millenium Park. This time, we did the Shedd Aquarium…


walked to Lou Malnati’s for lunch…

then hit up the Sky Deck at Willis Tower…

…before taking the train home again.

It was a cold but really fun day.

#tradition

The one with the glasses.

Number fourteen on my 40 by 40 list was to get a new pair of glasses. This may have been an instance of me not truly thinking clearly. Stick with me here…

My vision insurance covers lenses every year and frames every other. Since I didn’t get new frames last year on this insurance plan, I thought, “Hey! I should totally not miss out on frames this year!”

A few things worthy of note:

  1. My insurance (in-network) covers $150 toward frames, though I have never found a pair of frames I liked that cost less than that amount. (I get 20% off anything over $150.)
  2. I am responsible for paying a $10 co-pay for the eye exam and a $25 co-pay for the lenses
  3. I opt to have my lenses coated with something called Crizal, an anti-reflective coating (additional charge)
  4. I also opt to have my prescription thinned out a bit so that my glasses aren’t so heavy they leave dents in my face (additional charge)

By the time all was said and done I paid more than $160 out-of-pocket for these new babies. Don’t get me wrong – my eyesight is important – but DUDE. That’s a lot of money considering I have vision insurance. (Note to self: go back to the bill and make sure the gal at the eye doctor’s didn’t goof on my charges, cuz whoa Nelly.)

What I should have done was look at Warby Parker more seriously. I’m pretty sure I first heard their name in an ad on some podcast…their premise is that you can take a quiz online or in their app to see what styles of frames you prefer, then you pick five and they mail them to you at home, free of charge to try on at your leisure. Side note: this is totally not an ad, they did not pay me for any of this. This is truly one of those moments where I completely defied logic and should’ve considered their frames more seriously before spending all of the money I spent.

Instead what happened was this:

  • I went to my optometrist’s office in July for my annual eye exam. After having my eyes dilated, anything close up was super blurry and I decided (like I do every year) that I’d come back another time to try on frames. Doc offered me a free trial pair of contacts with the instruction to come back a week later to make sure they fit me correctly, with the idea that if I liked the brand I could order them any time I wanted.
  • Got a call as soon as I left the doc’s office to be told that I’d be charged a $95 contact lens fitting fee when I came back for the follow-up appointment.
  • I promptly said “No I’m frickin’ not, not for a “free” pair of contacts!” and promptly made arrangements to return the “free” contacts.
  • Because they don’t take appointments to try on frames and they’re only open during business hours, I showed up over my lunch hour one day a week or so later. After waiting 15 minutes I was finally seated at the frame-trying-on counter only to be told that my insurance allotment had been used for the year.
  • I promptly replied, “No, it hasn’t,” then proceeded to argue with the woman behind the desk that I had just returned the “free” contacts, had never ordered contacts nor a pair of frames, thus the reason for wasting my lunch hour that day.
  • Nearly an hour after arriving, I had tried on exactly four pairs of glasses, none of which was close to right for me and the woman at the desk was still arguing that I’d used my insurance allotment for the year. She promised to check with a supervisor and call me back. I left, pissed that I’d wasted a lunch hour and I hadn’t even eaten.
  • That woman called me back later that day blaming the misunderstanding on a “billing issue” and confirmed that no, I had not used my frames/lenses allotment for 2017. Duh.
  • Pissy about the way this optometrist’s office had been handling everything, I had them mail me my prescription and looked at Warby Parker. I soon realized they were “out of network” and ruled them out. (Stupid me.)
  • I went back to the optometrist’s office weeks later on another random lunch hour after deciding that I’d add “get new glasses” to my 40 by 40 list. This time I got lucky. The doctor was out for the day, meaning there weren’t many people in the office and I got seated at the frame try-on counter right away.
  • The gal behind the counter brought me a pair of frames, then stood there and looked at me while I tried them on. If I deemed them “not quite right” or asked “what else have you got?” she’d turn around, find another pair and hand them over, one at a time. Not very efficient. What I was hoping for was something more akin to what this place used to do…place dozens of similarly shaped yet differently styled frames in front of me, allowing me to try them on one right after the other. Or, like the old days of places at the mall, allow me to wander around, looking at the frames they had on display so that I could grab them myself, try on as many pairs as I liked as fast or as slow as I liked. At the end of an hour I had a pair I mostly liked, but they were just OK. I decided it wasn’t worth another trip back there and ordered them. See the above $160 charge.

Later I kind of had a “wait a minute” moment.

Warby Parker glasses are $95 for single vision lenses. I wondered – did I really save that much money by going the “in network” insurance route? I wondered how their frames would compare, so off to their site I went and ordered five to try on free at home. Here’s what I got:

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No. 1 were my existing glasses. Nos. 2-6 the Warby Parker frames

The general consensus? They were really nice! Numbers five and six got the most votes from friends and family.

Now, while I’m not sure that what Warby Parker offers is a complete 100% match to what I ordered at the doctor’s office, it’s got to be close. Warby Parker’s site notes their frames are:

  • Made from thin, light, impact-resistant polycarbonate
  • Includes superhydrophobic, anti-reflective coating and scratch-resistant treatment
  • Offers 100% UV protection

For $95. If I deduct my $45 out-of-network frame allowance along with the $40 allowance for lenses, I would’ve been reimbursed for $85. I would’ve paid $10 for a new pair of glasses.

I think my favorite was #5. Let’s compare that with a photo of myself wearing the $160 glasses I picked up this week:

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Tell me those are SOOO different from #5 of the Warby Parker frames. Yeah, no. They aren’t. Not $150 different.

I should’ve totally gone that route. I would have saved a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of frustration. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking, other than I was recently scared by a huge bill from a dermatologist that happened to be out of network. (Therefore, in my mind, out of network = scary bad NO.) If you find yourself in the market for new frames, you might totally want to give Warby Parker a try.

You might also find this super interesting: Adam Ruins Everything: The Conspiracy Behind Your Glasses.

It’s the alright pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

The fact that I wrote a post detailing 40 things I was going to do for myself before I turned 40 means that I now have to write follow-up posts on said list items. This post covers #29: Go to a pumpkin patch.

A few weekends ago, on a rare 75 degree late October Saturday, The Man and I embarked on a bit of a road trip with his son in the general direction of The Boy’s soccer game. The plan was to stop and get some pumpkins (roasted seeds being our motivation here), maybe some Wisconsin wine, then head to the game.

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It was an utterly GLORIOUS day!

Long story short, we missed out on the wine. How would I know that a place LITERALLY in the middle of nowhere —

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Seriously. How much more BFE could you possibly get?

–would have a line eighty bajillion people long waiting to get inside the store? We made do with some apple cider donuts (HEAVEN), cider and kettle corn, and each picked out a pumpkin.

We’ve yet to carve them, but hey, it’s only Halloween today, right?

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It’s games like this one that make up for all the 38 degree games in the rain

We had trick or treat in our neighborhood this past Sunday afternoon. I live in the best neighborhood. The adults mostly sit outside, under blankets or next to fire pits passing out candy. Other adults walk down the middle of the street with their kids, watching them run like little crazy people from one house to the next. It’s one of the reasons I knew I liked this neighborhood before I moved here – as a kid I played soccer in the field across the street from my house and often had a game the Sunday of trick or treat. I was a soccer player for Halloween for several years, hitting up my very neighbors for candy after the game.

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My boys and their cousin, Miss Moxie, who does not look pleased to have her pigtails tucked into that Pooh Bear costume.

 

Halloween is one of those holidays I don’t quite get into as much as other people (my only “costume” at work today are my ghost earrings) but I still quite enjoy the traditions. I’m looking forward to a little spiked cider this evening. 😉

Happy Halloween!

Tough love.

So I wrote that post about stressing over finances and then my water heater went belly up.

To be fair, that old girl lived a long life. In fact, when I had the house inspected before buying, the inspector called me over to show me that yes, it was installed in 1981 and while (at the time) in fine working order (plenty of water pressure, water heat up more than quickly enough), it had previously had a leak but hey, looky there! The resulting rust sealed the leak and now it was fine! According to their rules, they couldn’t mark it down as needing to be replaced because it was currently in working order. I knew it would have to be replaced eventually.

Sunday afternoon I spent binge watching episodes of Scandal and folding laundry while intermittently getting up to do other chores. It was rainy and cold out and I had ZERO intentions of leaving the house. TJ came over around 4 and we had a pizza delivered for an early dinner. Afterward, he got to work fixing the leak in the bathroom.

Everything was cool until he turned the water main back on after fixing the leak. After testing out the repair, we continued to hear water running.

Let’s fast forward through the boring parts where we cleaned up water off the basement floor, drained the rest of the water from the old unit and ran to Home Depot just before closing to pick up a new one. (Full disclosure: we are also skipping over the parts where I nearly cried about having to spend more money, as well as the parts where we [for the first time ever] got angry at each other while doing a home project. We were not happy people.)

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Poor Wanda Waterheater. RIP, old girl.

But suffice it to say that the new water heater, Wendy Waterheater, is now in full working order and sits on her throne in the basement next to the furnace, providing her magical and luxurious water to the masses. Added bonus? That corner no longer even has any cobwebs in it because they got cleaned up along with the water spill. You’re livin’ large, Wendy Waterheater, livin’ large.

Welcome to the family.

Focus, or lack thereof.

Focus. I has none of it.

I’ve hit that overwhelming part again…that part where I fill my life so full that it fills to the brim then starts to run over. I get stressed out and then my brain retreats and all but refuses to do what I need it to.

I’ve always been a freak about money. Growing up we had none of it, and in my teens my life was chaotic because of it. We were evicted and homeless for a time, and even when we weren’t we were the kind of kids who didn’t know if the lights would come on when we threw the switch. Didn’t know if the phone would have a dial tone, back in the days when phones needed such things.

So even now, more than 20 years after I first moved out on my own, I am super conscious about money. I stress about it more than I need to, even now when I have an income larger than that of my parents combined back in the day.

Yesterday I had some monetary stressors rear up and I lost sleep over them. I know that I’ll handle this shit, just like I always have, but sometimes it’s hard to shut off that neolithic part of my brain.

I saw a dermatologist this past spring. Let’s fast-forward through the boring parts and suffice it to say that between appointments the clinic stopped accepting my insurance, and while they were supposed to notify me of that fact when I checked in, they didn’t and it’s left me with a pretty hefty bill for procedures that should have cost a few hundred dollars. Like $2300 hefty. At out-of-network provider costs, the majority of the bill was a $1605 charge to have the removed skin tags sent to a lab and tested for cancer, something that was at no time discussed as necessary.

I’ve been fighting this bill for months. First with the doctor’s clinic, then with my insurance company. Nearly out of options, a month ago I was told I could file a request in writing to have the insurance company process the charges at in-network levels, which I did. I received a letter yesterday stating that they’d received my fax and would make a decision on my request by December 1. Meanwhile I’m dealing with repeated requests for payment from the provider. I went online yesterday and paid a couple hundred dollars, figuring that even if the insurance company came back and said they’d reduce the charges that I’d still owe something. But that’s all they’re getting for now.

In addition to that, one of my 40 by 40 “to do” items was to plan a trip for my birthday.

Taking a trip on my birthday to some place warm was something I wanted to do last year, but it sort of kept getting put on the back burner until it was too late. This year, for the big 4-0 I intend to make it actually happen.

Typically I plan travel myself – I usually have a destination in mind and look for the best deals online for bundled airfare and hotel, or stay with friends, or I road trip it. But this time I didn’t really have much in mind as far as a destination, other than to say I wanted to go somewhere warm and some place I haven’t been before. Dates are flexible, too, if it means the price is better, so I reached out to a travel agent.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t quite justify spending thousands of dollars on vacations. I just don’t live in that world. (See above money neurosis.) Not when you can get a week at an all-inclusive in Jamaica with airfare for less than $1000.

But this was the email I got back from the travel agent yesterday:

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Signed, your local delusional travel agent

Excuse me? $3100 per person? To go to a third world country. For serious? Maybe it’s just me, but if I might get typhoid fever from drinking the local water maybe that’s friggin’ ridiculous.

OK, so add “birthday trip planning stress” to the mix.

THEN. Then. As if all of that weren’t enough, I’m a homeowner. When shit can go wrong, it will.

It started as a small drip in the bathtub faucet after my youngest son would get out of the shower. I thought, “Huh. He’s 10, he probably can’t turn the tap hard enough to shut it off all the way.” So after he showered I’d go in and make sure the faucet in the tub wasn’t dripping.

Then two weeks ago or so I noticed it was dripping more often. After the other boy’s shower, after mine…I would check on it after every use, and crank those handles as tightly as my muppet arms would allow.

This week…now it’s more pronounced. It’s straight up RUNNING even when the water is turned off as tightly as humanly possible. And it’s HOT water, too. So I text The Man the other night to ask for his help and GOD BLESS HIM for not just texting back, “BITCH YOU BETTER GOOGLE!” which is why I love him.

Not only is he offering to help me, he isn’t running for the hills screaming. #truluv

Basically, this bathroom is old and outdated, but I had no intentions of updating it from its current baby blue color-scheme any time soon. But if we have to start taking apart the taps and faucets to fix this problem, then it’ll likely wreak havoc with the tile that’s already cracked. After the above exchange I asked if we could just replace the few cracked (and beautifully speckled) tiles with a few plain white ones as a temporary fix, and he said yeah, certainly. So hopefully when we start to take it apart it won’t morph into some horribly monstrous disaster.

That’s it really. I mean, that’s enough. I fully realize that most of that stuff is of my own making. It’s total first world white girl money problems. It’s not “Hm. Wonder how I’m going to feed my kids!” money problems. It’s “Oh mercy me! Vacations are expensive!” money problems.

But still, dammit. I wish I could sleep at night.