Thursday, April 26, 2012
Where I don't spend in clothing I do spend on food and health care. Some of my spending in this area of life comes from necessity. We were entrusted with the care of children with chronic medical needs. I, myself, have chronic medical needs, and that has forced our hand in where we spend a lot of our money. Nevertheless, there is room for me to be frugal and thoughtful about spending in this area and that's what I want to discuss in this post.
My husband and I are fortunate to have health insurance provided to us via LA's employer. I know health care is a hot topic and in the process of change and potential overhaul, but for now, we are still carried under my husband's employer. Is it the best plan out there? That's a rather difficult question to answer, and I would love to have some time to do some research on it. But, at the moment, I'm trying to teach my kids, get dinner on the table nightly and keep my home in some semblance of order and cleanliness.
This week was a difficult one because it involved several decisions for our family's health care.We found a great pediatric dentist when my children first started needing one. At that time, she was covered by our insurance. Three years ago, she stopped participating with our insurance; it was a sad day when we learned this fact. We LOVE our pediatric dentist. For locals, it's Dr. Diana Capobianco with Growing Smiles. Not only is the office super kid friendly, now with 5 IPads loaded with games, every employee from the hygenist to the billing clerk is friendly and helpful. To boot and most importantly, Dr. Diana knows about Sturge-Weber Syndrome (SWS), my sons' diagnosis, and how to deal with Port Wine stains (PWS) in the mouth, which my son also has.
I have opted to have my children remain patients at Growing Smiles, but I have had to be thoughtful about managing our health care costs. So, instead of going every 6 months, I have had two of my cavity-free children go for cleanings and check ups only once a year. I have one child who is prone to cavities, and now apparently after this week's visit, two children (sigh).
After this week's check up, it was discovered that one of my children needs a filling. Add to that life's curve balls; this week one of my sons chipped his adult tooth, and it needs repaired. Decision time.
Instead of having our pediatric dentist do the filling and repair, I decided I would have my husband and my dentist, who is 100% covered with our insurance, give it a try. He's a great dentist as well, just not specialized in pediatrics. Nevertheless, I have confidence that if my children cooperate well enough, he is a very capable dentist and will do a great job. He doesn't have the lovely air balloon murals on his walls or IPads in the waiting room, but he'll get the job done. Compromise is the name of the game when managing health care costs.
This was difficult for me because it meant that I had to tell our pediatric dentist that, "Hey, we can't afford the care we think is best for our children, so we're going to go with what we feel is second best." Ugh. That was humbling for me. For some, this might not be an issue. But, for me to tell a health care provider, "I can't afford your services" whether it is for my children or myself is very difficult for me.
At least in the United States and in particular, Maryland where I live, options for how to pursue optimal health are abundant. In my own journey toward good health, I have sought out professionals or services not covered 100% by my insurance. I have made changes to our eating habits and lifestyle that are costly. And, I continue to face decisions on how much to spend and how far to take this pursuit of health.
How much is enough?
We have a heart to give as much as we possibly can to the advancement of God's Kingdom albeit through supporting the ministries of our local church or through organizations other than our local church. We want to support teenagers wanting to do summer missions' trips. We want to fund adoptions for those pursuing them. We want to support many of my friends doing campus ministry among college students, the "game changers" of our future. And, I recognize that the decisions I make for our health care directly affect how much is available to give to these and other important causes.
So, here are a few (humbling-at least for me) ways I've attempted to do the best I can in this area:
1. Ask for samples. I have had to regularly call my primary care provider (PCP) to ask him to set aside samples of a medication I take daily. Recently my dose was increased, and the way it works with insurance, I would be paying the price for two prescriptions in order to fill my dosage correctly. That may sound complicated; it is. So, my solution has been to call my PCP once a month or so and say, "HI, this is Briana again calling to see if you have any samples of ....that you could set aside for me?" Thankfully, they have samples in stock and are kind enough to set them aside for me thus far saving me a ton of money!
2. Take time to think about the treatment plan. Unless one is facing an emergent situation, such as an asthma attack, TIME is on your side. I've been in numerous situations where we have a problem, the doctor has a solution but it's costly. Rather than cower to the pressure of the "expert" telling you what your best course of action is, ask for time to go home and think about it. Do research. Talk to your nurse/doctor friends if you have any. Especially with issues that affect children, in talking with other parents, you may find someone who's been down the same road and pursued a diffferent and less costly treatment plan. Facebook and other social media can work for you in this way! Use it. Remember that doctors, while most sincerely want only the best treatment for their patient, can still be driven the insurance companies who pay them, which are undoubtedly driven by the bottom line!
3. Say "No, we're going to wait and pray." This may raise an eyebrow or two, but I can attest to the faithfulness of God when I have trusted my "gut" and followed this course of action--no action. Thankfully, in our country we still have the freedom to go against medical advice, especially as it concerns our children. There are doctors advising all kinds of treatments for children these days--anti-anxiety medications (ask me how I know this!), other behavioral modification medications, and even flu shots. Now, I am certainly not opposed to pharmaceutical interventions when they are necessary, and at times they certainly are necessary and helpful. But, I do believe pharmaceutical medicines are quickly and incredibly over prescribed before time has been given or other options considered.
As a believer in Jesus, I know the greatest Physician of all time. I know the very ONE who fashioned and formed my very being. I know the ONE who knit my children together in my womb and knew of them before I even did. I have access, FREE access, to the best, world famous, as my son would say, Physician of all time-GOD. There are times we need to manage our health care costs by managing our hearts to remember Who really is the One who heals us and sustains us.
Money doesn't grow on trees, at least not in our back yard. So, I've had to learn ways of managing an area of significant expenditure in our family. I have more to learn, I am sure. But, I hope what I have gained along this relatively short journey I have been on for the last 8 years may benefit someone else.
Monday, April 23, 2012
The living room is mostly titied from the various homeschool books read, blankets made into forts, and tea set enjoyed with a neighbor friend. Four loads of laundry have been washed, three dried, none folded or put away yet.
Dinner was ham and potato soup tonight. Should have had green beans in it, but alas no green beans in the house, so I made due with what I had.
Yet a few chores to do and shower to take, I will head to bed "early" so that I won't fall prey to the temptation to hide back under the covers after assembling my hubby's lunch in the morning because I must be at the dentist at 8:30 for my oldest's cleaning and check up.
This week, I'll load my three crazies, as I like to refer to them now-a-days, in our van a half a dozen times or more to shuttle them to various doctors' appointments, homeschool co op, friends' houses, and at the very end of the week, to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Is there any better way to end to the week than a trip to Grandma/Grandpa's house? My children think not.
If you're a momma reading this, you likely have a similar week to mine ahead of you. Maybe instead of doctors' appointments, you will be transporting your gang to baseball practice or ballet. Instead of homeschool co op, you may be driving to after school day care. Regardless, you have dinner to prepare or pick up, laundry to do, floors to sweep (though this is always optional!). And most, most importantly you have a child(ren) to love on and hug and read to and envision and train for life.
It's all hard work, isn't it? Some days are harder than others. Some days are more rewarding than others. But, we go to bed every night with the faces and voices of our child(ren) impressed in our minds, and we wake up every morning motivated to live and serve and lay down our lives for their good, to see them experience the fullness of life and God and other people.
Grab a tissue or two, watch this amazingly inspiring video my hubby had me view the other night, and be freshly inspired to keep doing this "momma" thing. Ask every morning and many moments throughout your day for the strength, help, and wisdom from God to love your littles (or bigs) like HE loves them, and to serve them like HE has served us. And, then go finish with those dishes and laundry. or not. ;)
Monday, April 16, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Monday, April 09, 2012
Saturday, April 07, 2012
I made my favorite chocolate cake which just happens to be a vegan cake, believe it or not. It truly is the most, moist chocolate cake I’ve tasted (other than Cracker Barrel’s coca-cola cake, which probably has a whole lot more calories).
Here’s the recipe in case you’re interested:
3 c. flour (I use a white whole wheat)
2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
2 tsp.baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp.instant decaf coffee grounds (*optional)
¾ c. oil (I used 3/8 c. coconut oil, melted and 3/8 c. canola oil)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Mix all dry ingredients together and then wet ones into the dry. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
**For this cake, I baked about 2/3rd of the batter in an 8X8 pan and 1/3rd in my Pampered Chef batter bowl (to make the mound on top of the square cake.)
Once cakes are cool, turn the square cake out onto your display platter.
Turn the cake in the batter bowl and trim the top so that it is flat. Place that on top of the corner of the square cake and ice with icing or your choice. (I used our favorite—peanut butter icing.)
For decoration, I used the following:
- an oatmeal raisin cookie for its texture to illustrate the stone that was rolled away
- chocolate “stones” I found at Wegmans. I was thrilled; I think they are the coolest.
- I believe it is a Caspian figurine from the Narnia series for Peter peering into the tomb.
- Lollipop stick cut in half with a banner wrapped around it declaring, “He is Risen"