Monday, February 16, 2015

I'm Back!

It has been a while since I've posted. Life in general has been exhausting. In spite of our trying to keep the family from becoming over scheduled, we managed to do just that for the past couple of months. There have been basketball games, concerts, and so, so much homework. The long weekend and end of the basketball season has given us all a chance to catch our breath. Then makes it possible for me to post my annual Valentine's recap.
We no longer try to celebrate the holiday. There is just no point to it. Our anniversary is next month, and that is really much more special. So, aside from putting together a little thing for JD to hand out in school. I ignored all things Valentine related. It was kind of nice. It was certainly cheaper and less frustrating.
We woke up Saturday morning with Rocky on day 3 of a migraine, the kind that makes you feel sick all over. Nix had sinus problems and had lost her voice. As our record goes, it was shaping up to be a good one. We had a pajama day, watched movies, and generally did nothing. I made dinner, and was starting to feel smug about missing out on the usual tragedy. Then it happened. My stomach turned on me. There was gastrointestinal distress that I will not paint a full picture of. Rocky was still trying to get over the headache, and needed sleep. As is our tradition, we slept in separate rooms so he could sleep and I could watch tv until I felt better.
The next day came. We both had jobs to do at church that morning, so we went to get ready. Thankfully, Rocky was feeling better. I, on the other hand, .... well, I wasn't able to leave the house. Nix was also feeling yucky still, so we had a Marvel marathon laying in bed for a good bit of the day. I only keep the church nursery twice a year (bi-annual baby fix), and I missed it. It was a light week, and they were covered, but now I"m going to have to find another way to get baby snuggles, and the cat is not being as helpful with this as I would like.
Later that night, a friend had a similar streak of bad luck that ended with her husband needing stitches. Someone accused me of sharing the curse, and as I was typing that we hadn't had any bloodshed this year, Rocky sliced open the back of a couple of fingers. There was blood. Lots of blood. One cut landed on the folds of a knuckle on his right hand. It took a good chunk of skin. It was gross. Because of the location and nature of the wound, it didn't want to stop bleeding and he couldn't patch it. When I put fresh bandages on it this morning it still looked new. It will not be healing quickly.
Rocky and the kids both have today off. The weather was suppose to be snow but it is just really depressing icy rain. Because of accidentally not taking enough vacation days last year, Rocky has tomorrow off too. We had planned on a really fun day out with just the two of us. Now we wait on the school board to decide if the ice to rain ratio is worth cancelling school over.
The good part about all of this is that we have all laughed a lot. Even when we weren't feeling well, we would declare things such as "It's not Valentine's until somebody bleeds!" I am warping my children. I apologize to their future spouses.
Schools are out and so is our power. This is shaping up to be a much more serious ice storm than we thought. The kids are camping out in the den by the fire. If not for the concern of all the trees creaking and transformers blowing, this would be kind of fun. 
Funny bit: the smoke detector beeps when the power is out. If you take the battery out, it beeps louder. Rocky is now in a fit of desperation trying to figure out how to disconnect it from whatever demon is powering the beep. It is now beeping faster and I am laughing harder. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Potion Master Box

I needed to put together a quick birthday present for one of Nix's friends this week. Being that she is a friend of my kid, this isn't your typical Sweet 16, so I got to have fun. A few years ago we made an epic zombie themed box of candy. I'm still kicking myself for not making more detailed pictures. I wrapped it in brown paper with cation tape and painted my hand red to leave"bloody" hand prints on it.

The crossover between that party and this one are low, so I recycled the idea but with a Harry Potter twist to suit the birthday girl.
I started with a simple wooden box from Hobby Lobby (cheap thanks to coupons). I could get all fancy and paint the box, but if it were me, I'd want the box raw so I could paint it myself. This girl comes from an artistic family (as did the last one), so raw it is.

For the contents I wandered around Target for candy that spoke to me, and followed it up with a trip to the English food section of our Publix. Here is what I ended up with and how I labeled them.

The two small glass jars were also from Hobby Lobby and also very inexpensive. I have just over $15 invested in this. 
If you look closely, you might notice a couple of non-Harry items in there. I thought a couple of nods to other British fantasy/ sci-fi would be fun. 

Here is a close up of the tea and the turkish delight.

The finished box inside.

And after wrapping. I googled a still shot of the book in the movie and did a fair recreation of the inscription to give it that added touch that no one but me will notice.

This was fun, and quick, but took a bit of creative thinking. There are a lot of themes this could get adapted to fit, and isn't really gender or age specific. The only catch is that you need to check for allergies before you buy the candy. 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Struggling to be Thankful

For the last three years I have taken November to be what I've called randomly thankful. Each day I post on Facebook a totally random, somewhat ordinary thing that I am thankful for. Last year's highlights included ziploc bags and gas station microwaves. This year I wanted to throw in a little something different, but it is so different that I fear it must be done in small doses. I want to be thankful for things that I am not naturally thankful for. In short, the things I complain about. Being a somewhat sarcastic person, I've been worried that it would come off as snide. This is where a blog post to explains things comes in. I'm going to start with once a week and see how it goes.
I wanted to go about this with as pure of intentions as possible. That lead me to read up on what the Bible says about being thankful. Spoiler alert: It is pro-thanking God for everything He has given us even if the rest of life is kind of not going well. Job comes to mind, but for the record, I am not trying to sign up for a month of Job.
Something in Ephesians 5 caught my attention. In addition to being openly thankful there are things I also need to not do in order for this to really work. I need to not use obscenities (not too hard for me), no coarse joking (okay, a little harder but totally doable), and no foolish talk (I'm in trouble). Foolish talk is my go to. I tried changing what version I was reading, but they all seem to agree that being silly was a block to being really thankful to God. I even tried The Message, which was foolish and set me back to square one.
My main point of this post is to warn you. I have not thought out what each post will be. I have no idea what will be impressed upon me each day. What I do know and trust is that the Lord is going to hit me with something I need to be more thankful for and that some of those things will not be fun. This idea has been weighing on me since September, so I have had time to settle in on the idea. I hesitate to invite others to join me because I have no idea what I am in for. Honestly, I am a little nervous. This is a big trust exercise for me. So, if you want to take the risk with me, great, but if not I hope to see you all continuing to be randomly thankful this month because it is fun, enlightening, and points more of our lives towards God.
Thank you for your support and understanding in this. Now for my first one.
Today I am thankful for the awareness my stomach problems have brought me. It sits me down more often than I'd like and my dietary requirements kind of stink, but I have to eat healthy, I am so much more understanding of others' who have invisible health problems, and it makes me appreciate the time I feel good as well as the things I can do when I feel bad. I wouldn't choose it, or wish it on anyone else, but right now, for today, I am truly thankful for the blessings God has given me through it.
Wow, that was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I wish I could convey through words the emotions that spilled out of me typing that. There is no way I could ever say that out loud.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Our Unfiltered Healthcare Numbers

We received our annual healthcare renewal letter today. I don't typically share details about our finances, but this is kind of a big deal. There are a lot of exaggerations and bending of facts to suit personal opinions. This isn't about my personal opinion. This is about the choices my family, and many others, will be making in the coming days.
First, I should explain that my husband works for a very small company that isn't large enough to have any sort of group rate policy. We pay for 100% of our insurance. Because of that, we have a very high deductible and try very hard not to need a doctor.
I made a picture of the price and benefit changes that were sent to us today.

There are a couple of things I'd like to point out. We were told that our premiums might increase some, but so would our benefits. As you can see here our deductible will decrease by $3,000. However it is still $7,000, which is a good bit more than what we spend on average on family healthcare costs. 

You'll also notice in the picture that we will now have prescription coverage. Yeah! But wait, there is that sneaky add on that it doesn't kick in until we meet our new $7,000 deductible. Boo! So, it really might as well still be no coverage at all.
The next upgrade is that I will now be covered for "Essential Health Benefits". These vary from state to state, but I am having a lot of trouble finding out what they are specifically above what we normally have. I know it covers mental health coverage (a total joke if you look at what is actually covered), maternity (no one in my house needs that), breast reconstruction, and then "others" that no one can seem to promise specifics on. 

Now we get to the math. For these new add-ons that we probably will never get to use and certainly didn't ask for, we are paying a pretty large price. To be exact, it is $526.18 per month more. That adds up to $6314.16 per year more. The total we are out of pocket for this is $9,413.28. Before we get real use out of it we must first meet the deductible. That puts us at $16,413.28 per year out of our pocket. 
We are not wealthy people, but we end up with too much income to receive any break or credit, but not enough that we would want to add an extra $500 a month payment for anything. I think most people probably arrange their budget so that even if they are well off they don't have $500 extra that they are willing to throw at something that has no added benefit. 
We are now looking at our options. We will talk to an agent, we will investigate every avenue we can find, but tonight the numbers just don't add up. There is a very good chance we will end up uninsured. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Creeper Pumpkin

Last year's Minecraft Pumpkin was a huge hit. I had trick-or-treaters make their picture with it. Never have I had a carved pumpkin get that kind of attention. This encouraged me to do something similar this year, which logically can mean only one thing - CREEPER HEAD!

My process was similar to last year. This time I got a 14 inch square box (last year was 12), the paint grid was a much more merciful 8x8 formation, and it required a minimum of 7 colors. I say minimum because I could have done more, but I decided not to go completely crazy. Also unlike last year's, each side had a different pattern to it, so I ended up mapping out 5 different grids.
Here is the rundown
1. Find a pattern. I used this head for a papercraft on fps-x-games

2. Pick your paint. I went with 5 greens and 2 grays from Apple Barrel for the very important reason of that is what Walmart had, which saved me a trip across town to a craft store. I numbered them light to dark. I think the color names will give you a pretty good idea.
       1. Pale Green     2. Crisp Green    3. Palm Leaf    4. Kelly Green    5. English Ivy
          6. Granite Gray    7. Pewter Grey  (yup, they spelled it 2 different ways and yes it bugged me)

3. Plot it out. I'm going to post these small for space purposes, but you can click on each image to see it in detail. I raised the face up by one line so that the mouth wouldn't be at the very bottom.


4. Decided what side your face goes on. Pay attention to the way you fold the top. Then draw out the grid.

5. Cut the face out

6. Paint and paint and paint and then paint. But seriously, because of the bigger squares, this one was MUCH faster than the pumpkin one from last year.

7. Glue your top and bottom closed.

Remember not to use a real candle in these (cardboard tends to react badly to fire) I'm thinking of trying green glowsticks this year.
Our cat really likes them. The eye holes on the creeper are just the right height for her to stick her head in it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Wrong Time to be Batman

I know what you are thinking. How can there be a wrong time to be Batman? This is an analogy, so just go with it.

I've read a few articles this summer on modesty in churches, and I have come to an illustration that I hope will better explain it to both sides.
You get a birthday party invitation. It is dated October 30th, the day before Halloween. You've hung out with these friends before at other events, and you know that they go big for Halloween. They are a fun loving group, and so naturally you assume that a party on the 30th means it is a costume party. The perfect time to wear that awesome Batman costume you bought on clearance last year, and have been dying to show off. The day of the party comes, you go all out to look extra cool, you get to the party, and it is not a costume party. In fact, everyone is dressed in the exact opposite of costumes. You couldn't stand out more if you tried. It is too late to sneak out, you have been seen. You'll just have to own it.
Here is what I take from looking at it this way.

  • I would remember nothing from that night beyond it being the night I was Batman when I really shouldn't have been. Most of the people there would only remember that someone showed up dressed as Batman.
  • I would be really embarrassed knowing I was that sort of distraction from my friend's celebration.
  • I do not need someone coming up to me to tell me that this wasn't a costume party. I noticed. I'm ashamed without it being pointed to openly. 
  • I do need a few friendly faces who don't treat me like a total idiot, and talk to me in spite of how I look. 
  • I am not going to get mad at the people who look at me sideways. They are trying to figure out if I am mentally stable. After all, I am kind of a sight. Sure it makes me uncomfortable, and yes people should try not to wear their shock on their face, but being uncomfortable is not always a bad thing. It teaches us not to be Batman when it isn't appropriate. 
  • I will not let this happen again. I will make sure to ask and double check before I show up as Batman again. This one is key. If I continue to show up to events dressed as Batman, people are not going to take me seriously. Great Aunt Sophie dies, and I am Batman. A wedding comes along, and Batman. Job interview? Batman. No. 
Is it your friend's fault for the party not being a costume party? No. Should they have forced everyone to go home and change into a costume to make you feel better? No. Should your friend kick you out for wearing a costume? No.
There are two things I hope people take away from this. First, always check to see what is considered appropriate dress for things you don't regularly attend. Second, don't comment on what people are wearing unless it is to compliment them. It is rude. In fact, I'm pretty sure it is ruder than showing up to church dressed as Batman. Neither are socially acceptable. Really this advice applies outside of just church. It is a lesson for life. We need to stop focusing on if we look attractive, and focus more on if we look appropriate, because like it or not we live in a civilized society that has rules for such things. If that is too much for you, I can recommend a nice nudist camp nearby where no one is judged on their clothes. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Selfie Centered

This post is not directed at you. If it applies to you, that is not my fault.
There has been a lot of talk about kids these days and their selfies (pictures you take of yourself using your phone). Teenagers seem to spend a lot of time trying to take the perfect picture of themselves. Even obsessing over it at times. My adorable daughter fails at this miserably. I wish I could post proof, but I love her, and wouldn't do that. She has given up. Other people can take pictures of her, but she will not try to take a picture of herself. It comes out weird. Funny weird. JD went to make one not knowing the flash was on and the result was so funny that he made it his wallpaper. He probably wouldn't care if I showed you, but one day he might not be 10, and that should not come up on google when he is applying for jobs in the future. Any way, as usual, my kids are not the norm.
I was recently talking with some friends about this and one woman pointed out that it isn't just the teens. My generation has gotten a bit heavy handed with the selfies as well. She mentioned that one of her friends had recently posted one captioned with something indicating that she almost never posted pictures of herself, but this same person had multiple pictures already posted. It actually wasn't unusual at all for her. That is when the fear set in. What if we are selfie obsessed and don't know it! We instantly went to our own Facebook profiles and started counting. I was a little worried. My profile picture is a selfie, and I know I took one when I got my flu shot, maybe the last time I got my hair done. Counting ones others have made of me and I have posted, I'm averaging around 2 pictures that I am in per month. For comparison we looked up the profile of the woman who sparked the debate. She had 50... in a couple of months. I'm not sure what the cap would be for a healthy level of self pictures, but I'm pretty sure that almost 1 a day is not good.
I kind of like the idea of doing occasional self wellness checks on our profiles. Are we posting too many pictures of ourselves and pretending that we don't? Do we tend to share unverified links, the modern version of "forward to all"? Are you posting publicly thing that you don't want to come up under a google search of your name? That one goes double if you are a teacher. It may not be fair, but us nosy parents look. Are you abusing the ability to send game requests? Are you posting enough videos of cute animals? Okay, that last one is a trick. There are never enough cute animal videos. That is what makes the internet work.
Now that I've said that, I should probably go check myself.