Pre-Holiday Links and Resources -Advent 2018 and Christmas

With Thanksgiving this week, Advent is following quickly behind it!

But besides the busy preparation for Christmas, there are a lot of things we can do to really observe the season of Advent! Over the years I have collected links and resources for the holidays that I thought would help me and my family prepare our hearts and spirits to celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus.  I haven't done everything on this list.  Some of it is a wish list, but there was something in every link that I thought was worthwhile.

Perhaps first on the list is actually getting our homes ready for the holidays:
Holiday Grand Plan or join their Yahoo Group E-mail List Declutter and Clean!
Also DeClutter and Organize on Facebook. 

and get your planner ready~  Advent and Christmas Planner from Catholic Icing or Advent Planner from Wildflower and Marbles. 

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Losing Weight and managing Health Care Costs.

knee x-ray

Postbear eater of words via Flickr, licensed cc

Those of you following my blog for a while now might remember that my knee has been an issue for me most of the past year. I have had it x-rayed, drained and injected with cortisone twice. I quit wearing heels and wore a compression garment for six months- even to my big concert in April. I changed from aerobics to walking as my main form of exercise.


All of that has helped, but I still have pain, just not all the time. Today I deliberately took 100 steps (I only counted the steps on the bad side) and about 25% of them were painful. That's a lot better than last Christmas when my knee hurt with every step and even when I was resting. But it still hurts, probably a 5 out of 10 a quarter of the time, so I think it's time to do something else. 

For insurance reasons, I'm going to wait until after the first of the year. My insurance will not cover another office visit for this problem (3 is their limit) and I know a CT scan is going to be expensive. So I will do the best I can until then. 

Health care is a game that you just have to learn to play. Timing is everything and an unexpected illness or injury can thow everything off.  A few years ago my teens came home from youth group and told me that they had been invited to participate in a dodgeball game with another youth group. My first response was, "That sounds like fun!"

But then I thought about it further. There is always the chance of an injury with something like that. Just the year before, my son, Noah, broke his clavicle at a different church event. He required surgery which cost my family $5000 out of pocket. That's what our deductible is per person, with $10,000 total per family. 

For that reason, we took a pass on dodgeball, and ski club, and ice skating. Another unexpected surgery or an expensive medical bill could also take another big bite into our savings.

Just to recap, over the past seven years, my family has paid out of pocket, $15,000 for medical care by meeting individual deductibles. 

Now, I can hear the voices out there saying, "But kids have to be kids!! You're not letting your teens have fun and be normal!" and that's very true. But the new normal is that just a simple visit to the emergency room is over $200, and my family business pays over $2200/ month for health insurance. My kids literally can't afford to take the same silly risks we took when we were kids. 

The other part of "new normal" is that health care facilities no longer allow you to pay your bills over a long time. No, they demand it all over the matter of a few months and even if you are paying monthly, you still get collection calls and threats over the phone. That's not how it was when I was growing up or even when my oldest children were little. This is definitely a newer development.

There are some things I do for my own health care to mitigate costs. For my ulcerative colitis, I avoid all grains, breads and pasta. I've cut down on sugars and carbs too.  I take every day - two cranberry pills to avoid urinary tract infection and a Biotin. This is infinitely cheaper than trips to the doctor or prescription medication, and definitely better for my system than antibiotics. 

For my knee, I am stretching and strengthening, but right now I think the best thing I can do is to continue to take the weight off. I lost 40 pounds 5 years ago and I'd like to lose 30 more before my birthday. I'm going to be documenting that in depth in my newsletter. If you'd like to follow along, sign up here.