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2008 July » Philoxenos


Watching a grown woman cry

26th July 2008

Watching a grown woman cry

Today Handsome held me as I sobbed in his arms.

What caused this outpouring of emotion?

The American health system.

Honestly, nothing makes me want to catch the first plane back to NZ quicker than getting something in the mail from a medical provider or our insurance company.

Today it was a friendly reminder that I hadn’t paid a bill from services in May. I stared at the bill, struggling to figure out who it was from (the name I know the doctor and hospital by are different than their formal names) and definitely didn’t know what it for because they didn’t even list an invoice number.

I went online to check the health insurance company records and got even more frustrated because I couldn’t remember the login. Officially Handsome is the subscriber because he’s the one employed. However, we each have a login. Why is that? Shouldn’t the main subscriber have access to everyone’s stuff? No. Too simple. Finally, I got in.

Turns out the bill is for the xray that Little Boy had done when he was sick in May. But the insurance shows two bills for the xray. I only ever got one. That would explain why I never paid it.

So on Monday I will have to call the hospital and ask them to send me a proper bill so that I can pay it. Oh, and how much is it you ask? $190. Insurance didn’t pay anything, which I also don’t understand because isn’t that what insurance is for?

I am sure this will not be the last time that I cry over health insurance matters.  But I continue to be grateful that we have insurance at all.

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25th July 2008

Cantaloupe = rich

As he scooped out his cantaloupe this morning, Handsome told me “I know it’s weird, but whenever I eat cantaloupe I think of rich people.”

After I asked for some clarification he said that he has always thought that people that could afford to buy cantaloupe regularly must be rich because it’s expensive.

In NZ, cantaloupe (or rock melon, as it’s more commonly called) runs about $3-4 for a melon. Definitely not cheap for a fruit that will be devoured in one sitting by our family.

I asked him if he felt the same about strawberries and he said no. I told him that when I was buying strawberries in NZ I was paying up to $2.50 a punnet (basket) and I always bought at least two at a time, so was really paying the same amount of money.

Fortunately for us we got some really great cantaloupe from our CSA farm a couple weeks ago. It’s the middle of the season and we paid $8 for four. Although definitely more expensive than canned fruit, infinitely tastier.

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24th July 2008

More deep thoughts

Other things in my head:

1. Must get my price book sorted out

2. Need to think about afternoon schedule

3. think about field trips

4. find some good early readers for Precious

5. Get quotes on tile for bathroom

6. Start list for when in-laws come to visit (they’re very handy and helpful!)

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24th July 2008

Jumble of thoughts

I just learned that it is not possible to un-do an un-do on the computer. Control Z only works going backwards. It doesn’t go backwards and then forwards again. That statement will only make sense to those people that know there is a magic command called CTRL-Z.

Anyway, I will type again. I have a lot of thoughts running through my head and I find it best to just dump them out in writing before I go crazy. Honestly, I start to  practically hyperventilate and pace the floor when I get like this. So, I’ll write and probably come back and revisit some of these ideas when I have time to flesh them out.

Today I had a morning that I don’t wish to repeat any time soon. It wasn’t horrible, per se, just not great. Frustrating. We dropped Handsome off at work early-ish and then I wanted to go to Target to buy a canister vacuum cleaner. We received a rebate from Lowe’s on our new fridge and it wasn’t money that we had budgeted anywhere, so I decided to use it :) And I want a canister vacuum so that the kids can use it. Our current vacuum cleaner is a very heavy upright.

Guess what? Target did not have one. single. canister vacuum. No joke. About ten uprights. Very frustrating. Oh! And they don’t open until 8am. I thought they opened at 7, so we had to wait in the carpark for 20 minutes until they opened.

So I decided to try Walmart because I knew from their website that they carried them. WRONG. They don’t. They just tease with their glossy website, enticing you to long for things that they don’t actually sell. By this time I’m pretty irritated. Taking three kids to two different stores that specialise in making children drool for things they don’t need is not my idea of fun. But, I did find some bamboo kabob stick things that I wanted. Unfortunately I had to check out at the self-check thing because Walmart is apparently too cheap to pay actual people to take our money. And of course I was behind two people that had no idea what to do. And then of course the machine kept beeping at me because it thought that I hadn’t put my purchase in a bag. Doesn’t the computer know that Green is in??

Anyway. Oh, and then the gas light came on. Could it get any worse? A physical reminder of all the gas I chewed through trying to help my kids learn to do some chores? So we went to Costco.

Good news! Gas was only $4.17 a gallon today. That is 30 cents cheaper than the last time I filled up which was probably early last week.

When we got home I got on Amazon. I heart Amazon. I found exactly what I wanted for just $60, NO TAX, and FREE SHIPPING. Yes, I was kicking myself for not going to Amazon first. I could have sat here in my pjs this morning instead of traipsing all over town getting disappointed.

Moral of the story? Brick and mortar stores aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I normally get some kind of plastic allergy when I’m in Target and Walmart because of all the cheap plastic stuff they sell. And of course every season they make it in a different colour to make you think you need to buy some new stuff. Do they really think people are that stupid? Apparently people really are that stupid because they’re sure selling a lot of that stuff.

And don’t get me started on the dollar spot bins at the front of Target. It’s all C-R-A-P.  I realise that’s a very strong word coming from me and I apologise if I’ve offended any of my readers, but this gives you an indication of how strongly I feel about it. It’s just junk that comes home, lasts for about a week, and then ends up either broken at the bottom of the toy box or just in the rubbish because I can’t handle it. The only exception is the cool red plastic baskets I bought that look just like the ones from In N Out (or some other similar burger place) and the notebooks that I buy for the kids to use at church.

Okay, rant over. Vacuum cleaner is on the way and should arrive by Monday, according to the email notification I received while I was pouring out my angst to you.

More deep thoughts coming.

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21st July 2008

One year in America

Today is the one year anniversary of my children and I arriving in America from New Zealand.

One year ago I was probably in bed, trying to sleep, with a baby that still don’t know what sleeping through the night meant.

I remember that first night and having my daughters wake up about 11:30pm or so, not sleepy anymore and quite hungry. We had a snack on the floor of the kitchen. My mom woke up at some point and joined us.

So we got through our first night, not knowing when we’d see Handsome again. Not knowing anything about our future, really. But it did feel a bit like a vacation because we were at Grandma’s house :) And Grandma’s house is always a vacation! We did all the American things that I’d been dying to do. Lots of shopping I’m sure. We did lots of swimming. And praying that Handsome would arrive soon!

Where are we now? We own our own home. Handsome has a job that he loves. We have a great church. We have made some friends are starting to develop deeper relationships. Precious has learned to read. Cutie is talking. Little Boy is walking (and sleeping through the night!). Many milestones.

Thank you, Lord, for your provisions for us. For guiding us to this place and putting us exactly where you wanted us to be.

posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

14th July 2008

I’m shrinking

I went to the doctor today and found out that I’m not as tall as I’ve always thought. I’m actually only 5 feet, 4 and a half inches tall. I’ve always thought I was nearly 5 feet 6 inches. I don’t know why I thought this just did. Perhaps an inaccurate measurement taken years ago.

I’m short!

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13th July 2008

Walgreens and Rite Aid deals

I have probably mentioned that with the purchase of our house came a tightening of the budget, which wasn’t a surprise. But when you go from spending $995 a month in rent to paying, ahem, quite a lot more in a mortgage, obviously some things just don’t make the cut. And I’m totally okay with that. Well, maybe not totally okay, but I understand that this is the way it is.

In our household, my husband goes out to work and earn money to support our family and we love him dearly for it. Although there are days that I would love to go out to work just to get out of the house, I know that my calling is to stay home with our children. So Handsome makes the money and I spend it :) Or rather, in this case, I save it!

I can’t for the life of me find my digital camera and the battery is probably dead anyway but if I could I would take a picture of the stuff I was able to buy tonight so you can see how much I got for how little. But I’ll give you a brief rundown.

At Rite Aid (for you overseas readers, this is like a larger pharmacy/drugstore which also has a very small food section and household stuff. Their normal prices are high but their sales are excellent. ) I spent $10.62 out of pocket but will receive back $4 in rebates, so I spent$6.62. With that I got the following:

  • two bottles of shampoo, the really good kind
  • two bottles of sunscreen, the spray kind that I like
  • three regular bags of M&Ms (we use these for Cutie’s potty training)
  • 20 count Electrasol gelcaps, which we use in the dishwasher. They work really well!

So, that was the first store. Almost no people there (it was 8:30pm) and the cashier didn’t blink an eye at the coupons I used which I thought might cause a problem. Nothing unethical, just a bit different.

At Walgreens (another large pharmacy type store), I spent nearly an hour going through the store just checking things out. Each store has a different way of doing things and I hadn’t been to this one yet.

My register receipt says that I spent $16.51 out of pocket, but I saved $43.66 using sales, manufacturer’s coupons, and store coupons. Remember, the regular prices are highly overpriced, but I still did really great considering what I got. But the best part was in the clearance section they had a gift pack with a really nice lady’s razor and refill cartridges, a loofah, and some moisturizing lotion priced at $4.99, which was half price. The razor itself is normally about $6. But I had a $4 coupon for the razor. Wasn’t sure if it would work because it was a gift pack but I told the cashier that we’ll just try it and see what happens. When she scanned the coupon it went through and I actually whooped out loud! Fortunately the store was empty because it was 15 minutes before closing time.

So I got some great stuff. Definitely don’t need more toothpaste, I think I have about five tubes in the cupboard. But when I get it for 50 cents a tube how can I pass it up?! I think what I’ll do is keep it for when we have guests. Or I can give it away. I don’t imagine it goes bad? Got a huge thing of bubbles so we’re set for a long time. Some school supplies. Good stuff.

Handsome has been encouraging me to do the coupon thing because he knows that deep down I really enjoy it. It does take time, but it’s kind of like a hobby. And I enjoy getting out by myself in the evenings. I don’t go far from home (except for that amazing diaper deal!). I didn’t want to go out tonight because I was tired and I didn’t think the deals were that great. But I’m so glad I did!

If you come to stay at our house, you don’t need to bring your toothpaste. I have lots to share :)

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11th July 2008

The wonders of the fridge in the garage full of drinks AKA The Beer Fridge

In NZ it seems (from my eight years of limited experience) that it is not uncommon for folks to have an extra smaller refrigerator which they keep stocked with drinks, mostly beer. NZers seem to really like their beer. A lot. It also provides extra freezer space which comes in handy.

My parents have a beer fridge. It technically contains nothing alcoholic but it is usually packed with at least four different kinds of soda and bottles of water. Handsome and I always refer to it as the beer fridge because we both know what that means - it’s just the fridge in the garage. We rarely buy soda at home, but we’re happy to drink what my parents buy. Apparently the mooching doesn’t stop when you turn 21.

Anyway, this morning the kids and I dropped off Handsome at work and we went to mom’s house to swim. It was 112 degrees yesterday and I was still hot so I thought a swim would feel good, before the sun seared my skin off.

After our swim I was getting the kids into the car to go home and I snagged a root beer out of the beer fridge (see, it IS a beer fridge!) and brought it home. Earlier this afternoon I was starting to really drag. I needed to have some lunch so I opened the fridge and, lo and behold, what was staring back at me? An ice-cold A&W root beer!! HALLELUJAH!

God is so good. All the time, God is good.

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11th July 2008

growing like weeds

apparently my children either didn’t eat enough breakfast (and my three Weetbix kids definitely eat enough breakfast!) or they’re growing. I’m going to go with the growing.

We just finished lunch and I’m down a half a loaf of bread. My 4.5 year old and my nearly 3 year old both ate two peanut butter and jam sandwiches and a cheese rollup (melted cheese rolled up in tortilla) and the 3 year old also ate a nectarine. And Little Boy also ate a sandwich so we just used ten slices of bread. That’s half a loaf.

Fortunately I have discovered the wonders of the bread outlet so I’m now getting bread about 50-75% off the grocery store prices. But because we use so much bread when we do use it, I like to use tortillas as much as possible. The kids love them. No crusts to cut off. I can store 30 tortillas in just a few inches of space, whereas two loaves of bread take up much more space in the freezer.

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8th July 2008

two phones in one year

My cell phone just took a very long swim in the pool.

The kids and I have been at a friend’s house and they wanted to go swimming. This isn’t a problem, but with my three kids and her four kids, all aged under 6, and only one real swimmer, it took two moms keeping an eagle eye on them to make sure they were safe.

We had two little boys that thought there were invincible so one of us had them by the shirts the whole time. At one point my middle daughter thought she might be able to float without the benefit of floaties so she took a bit of a dive and my friend splashed out to get her, so she was pretty wet. And then her daughter took a plunge so I reached out to get her, getting myself pretty wet.

At this point we figured, well, we’re already wet, might as well enjoy the water, so we just stayed in the pool. Much easier to keep everyone safe, too! (we had been just standing on the steps).

It wasn’t until we got out of the water (after about 15 minutes) that I realised that my phone has been in my pocket the whole time. It was vibrating, shuddering its last bit of life out, and then it went still. And there was water inside the display. I think it’s probably dead.

I’ve got it submerged in a pot of dry rice which is what all the internets recommend. I’m most concerned about the SIM card of course because that’s got all my info on it.

I called Handsome to let him know that my phone is out of order and to call me on our landline if he needs me. His response, after laughing, was to say at the rate I’m going through phones (this is my second since we moved to America - the first got smashed on the bathroom floor)  he’s going to buy me a tin can and string.

Of course with my luck I’ll accidentally recycle it!

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