Archive for May, 2012
As many of my long time readers know I was quite sick a few years ago. I went to the doctor four times in the course of two weeks, but she failed to diagnose me. She blew off my case, because I was young, (27 at the time), fit, and didn’t look ill.
I went in complaining of chest pain. I told her I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed. I felt a heaviness in my chest. I was completely exhausted and had terrible aches in my chest and arm. On the first visit she told me I was getting over a cold. In the second visit she sent me for a chest x-ray and then told me I was fine when the report showed no issues.
Despite her failure to diagnose me I returned two days later and begged her to help me. I ripped off my shirt and showed her bright blue veins running back and forth across my chest, neck and arm. She said she’d refer me to a vascular doctor and with that she wiped her hands of me and called it a day. She showed no urgency in my case and did not call a specialist or help me get an appointment with one.
The next day I had a hard time breathing as I came up from the basement with a basket of laundry. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew something was certainly not right. I called my husband and went directly to the emergency room.
Once admitted the physician’s assistant on staff immediately diagnosed me with a pulmonary embolism. He based the diagnosis solely on my symptoms: shortness of breath, pain and heaviness in chest, weak pulse, lightheadedness, excessive sweating and bluish skin. Minutes later I was rushed in for a CT scan where the diagnosis was confirmed.
The physician on call was so upset about the situation that he phoned my doctor and reamed her out. Based on my symptoms he said the cause was obvious and he was amazed that she couldn’t put the pieces and clues together to diagnose me. He said I had probably been throwing small clots for days if not weeks.
Initially I thought about suing the doctor for malpractice. Although I survived the embolism it took a long time to recover. A lot of the recovery was due to the underlying cause of the embolism, not the clot itself. (That’s a topic for a whole other day.)
So why didn’t I sue? Oprah once said it best when she said, if you want to sue someone “you have to stay in that space of being angry enough to do it. You have to keep yourself embroiled in that fighting mode.”
In my case I was angry and bitter at the situation, but I didn’t think I would get better if I stayed in that frame of mind. My goal was to heal as quickly as possible and to do so I needed to clear my brain of the angst against that doctor. In short I needed to focus my energy on getting well not reliving my case day after day through the legal system.
To this day I still have a difficult time with doctors. After failing to be heard by my primary doctor I began to realize that I really was just one more number, one nameless face to the medical system.
I do not regret my decision not to take legal action against the doctor. I know that she is only human and that humans are indeed prone to mistakes. I do hope that my situation forced her to rethink the interactions she has with her patients. I hope that she now listens closely to her patient’s pleas and that she doesn’t ignore symptoms just because a patient is too young to have a severe medical condition.
I am thankful that the doctor on staff at the emergency room properly diagnosed me. Pulmonary embolisms are the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. If he had not recognized the problem I would certainly not be alive to write this post. For that I am truly grateful.
My seven month old son is still waking two to three times a night. He typically wakes up 45 minutes after we put him to sleep, then five to six hours later and then again two to three hours after that. We started him on solids a month and a half ago, but he usually only eats a spoonful or two at each feeding. The doctors tell me he can sleep through the night without being fed at this point, but I’m not sure I agree. When he wakes he breastfeeds for quite some time before I put him back into his crib. Some friends have suggested letting him cry it out, but I can’t bear the thought of it. I guess I’m hoping he’ll outgrow his night wakings without all that drama.
In the mean time I am one tired girl in the morning. Although we put him to bed around seven I don’t typically hit the pillow until at least ten or eleven o’clock. Then I wake up twice to feed him and find myself awake for good sometime between six and seven each morning. I know I need to put myself to bed at an earlier time, but it’s tough to break old habits. I’ve been a night owl for most of my life and although I love my son I enjoy the two to three hours I spend alone while he’s asleep.
I’m afraid all of this sleep deprivation is interfering with my ability to make wise decisions. The other morning I woke up at six o’clock and convinced myself I solved the problem of our cat’s food and water bowls making a mess in the basement. I ordered two new sets of cat bowls only to realize they didn’t fix our problems at all.
The day before I ordered lotion for my son’s rash only to realize I paid more for ounce for the smaller package. Luckily I was able to immediately cancel the order and purchase the larger tub of lotion, but if I hadn’t I would have unnecessarily paid more.
That was actually the second time I immediately cancelled an order seconds after clicking submit. I did the same thing a week or so ago, although I can’t remember what it is that I wanted to purchase. (I guess that goes to show just how important it was.)
In light of my money mistakes I am banning myself from any early morning purchases. I think I need to be up, awake and about for at least a few hours before I buy anything! I’m not even sure what is compelling me to buy things so early. Am I having dreams about shopping?
My previous two posts discussed how to save money on food and supplies while on vacation. This post is one of the easiest things you can do to prepare and save money before you leave on your trip. It seems so simple it’s hard to believe anything can go wrong, but somehow or another I typically find a way to screw it up.
The trick is to very consciously and deliberately pack. Over the years I have forgotten a multitude of items while on vacation. Some of the items are relatively inexpensive like toothpaste, toothbrushes and razors. Other times the cost has been much larger. One summer I forgot to pack my swimsuit and had to shell out nearly $100 to find a replacement suit. (I may have been able to find something cheaper, but I didn’t want to waste the short time I had on vacation shopping for a new one.)
As anal as it sounds, (and yes it is quite anal), I now write down each and every item I might possibly need before packing my bags. One year I actually Googled for ‘what to bring on a beach vacation’ and made a cheat sheet of sorts that I can use to pack my bags.
I double check the list and then have my husband review it to make certain I haven’t missed anything. The list includes big things like clothing and swim suits, but it also includes the smaller often forgotten items like band aids, pain relievers, sunscreen and q-tips.
On one trip to Florida my husband and I rented a convertible and then realized we didn’t bring any hats. With the sun beating down on us we forced to drive around in search of some. We wasted two hours driving to and from shopping malls until we spotted a Walmart where we bought two that said ‘Bud Light.’ Of course, we could’ve put the cover back on the car, but we paid extra for a convertible and wanted to enjoy the wind and weather. Buying those hats was a waste of our time and money. Although looking back it was a funny story.
When I’m on vacation I want to spend my days lounging by the pool, swimming in the ocean, snowboarding down mountains, dining on fabulous food or sightseeing. I don’t want to spend it searching for malls and paying full price for something I’ll probably never use or wear again.
So now I do my best to write a list and check it twice. Every once in awhile I find myself without something, but more often than not I have everything I need right in my suitcase.
In my previous post I discussed a few simple ways my husband and I save money on food and supplies while on vacation. Well today I thought of another tip worth sharing.
Before you leave your house or after you arrive at your destination stock up on easy to eat, hand held snacks. These can be absolutely anything you enjoy. Our list includes apples, granola bars, snack mixes, pretzels and mixed nuts.
Now pack handfuls of these snacks into a small travel bag that is lightweight and easy to carry. If you plan to have your car with you at most times then you can pack a larger bag of snacks and leave them in your trunk or back seat. If you take this approach make certain to grab a handful after you arrive at your destination. The key is to have food on hand and at the ready whenever hunger strikes.
I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have gotten into a fight on vacation, because one or the other of us is hungry. We are usually exhausted from a day of activities, we don’t want to wait until we get back to our rental house or hotel, we have no idea where to eat and we are absolutely starving. Inevitably we end up stopping at some overpriced, poorly rated restaurant because we simply can’t wait to eat.
The trick to stopping this problem was so simple I couldn’t believe it. Carrying around a few snacks ensures that we no longer find ourselves frustrated and starved. Now we can either go home and prepare food or we can take our time searching for a place to eat.
We no longer find ourselves stopping at the drive-thru to pick up greasy fast food or stopping by the nearest restaurant.
This simple trick has not only saved us money, I think it’s saved our health and our sanity while on vacation. We no longer find ourselves starving and fighting. It also means we enjoy our food more once we do finally eat. It’s a lot more enjoyable to sit and wait to be served while you are relaxed and hungry, but not starved.
If we’re not too tired from a day of activities we can even make it back home and cook dinner once we get there. In the past we would’ve been too hungry to hold out for the drive back to our house or hotel. Now, with snacks in the car, we can fulfill the need to eat immediately, but wait until we arrive home to dine on a full meal.
In a few days we’ll pack up the car and head out on a week long trip to the beach. We visit North Carolina fairly frequently, but with my husband acting as the sole provider for our family our last two trips were only two days long. We left late on a Friday night and returned by Sunday afternoon. This will be our first week long vacation since we idiotically waited out Irene last fall.
We’ve owned our beach home for nearly eight years now and over the years I’ve learned quite a bit about saving money when staying in a beach house. If you know the house you’re staying in will have a kitchen, grill, dishwasher and/or washing machine you might find these tips helpful.
The best money saving tip: Bring as much as you can from home. Stock up when things are on sale before you ever leave for vacation.
First, bring rolls of toilet paper and paper towels from home. I ALWAYS buy paper products when I can combine a coupon with a store sale and usually have a stash of them in the house. If you wait until you arrive at your destination you will inevitably pay full price for them at the grocery store. If you buy paper products on sale you can save quite a bit of money by bringing along your stash from home.
I do the same for any household supplies I know we’ll need. I make certain to bring trash bags, dish soap, dishwashing detergent and laundry detergent. I like to bring along items that can be packaged in smaller units. For example, I like to use Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets, which act as both the detergent and the dryer sheet. I can just grab a few and don’t have to worry about lugging a heavy bottle around with me. Those little ultrapacks for the dishwasher are similar. You can put a couple in a plastic container or sandwich bag and bring them along. They don’t take up much space in the car and they aren’t heavy.
On most days we eat in while we’re on vacation, so I also bring a bunch of recipes and spices along for the ride. If you know you just need a bit you can measure the ingredients in advance. You can place them in baggies or take the more environmentally friendly solution by placing them into tiny glass containers or clean baby food jars. Everyone knows spices are extremely expensive, so it helps to menu plan a bit in advance. You’ll save a bunch of money on ingredients this way.
I also pack a stack of those marinade mixes that you can purchase by the packet. Again they are easy to transport and typically require nothing more than oil and water. You can find these on sale throughout the year and they last for a very long time. If you have a grill where you’re staying, (most places do these days), you can marinate chicken or meat and make a quick and easy supper.
If you have room to carry a cooler in your car, (we no longer have room in our Camry for one), you can also buy some dry ice or cooling bags and pack meats like ground beef or chicken. I must admit that I do this much more often for one or two day trips to the beach. If I’m going for a whole week I just purchase it at the grocery store and typically know that I’ll pay full price for it. Even at full price it’s still a whole lot cheaper to buy meat and poultry than paying for meals at restaurants.
If you are going to a beach town leave a little room in your cooler and search for fruit and veggie stands along the way. The produce is typically in better condition than you’ll find in grocery stores and the price is usually better too. It’s best to look for stands that are slightly off the beaten path. You’ll pay more for ones with prime locations right along the main roads. We almost always pick up ingredients for pool side smoothies this way.
If you are a coupon clipper bring along coupons for any items you’ll need to buy to complete your recipes. You may find better deals with sales at the store, but it never hurts to be prepared for those every day items like bread, butter, cooking oil and cheese. If you have room to transport these along in your car go for it, but I find it’s easier to just make a trip to the grocery store once I get there.
If you have time clip coupons for chain restaurants between your home and your final destination. My husband and I often stop for sandwiches at places like Subway and Quiznos and Quiznos often has printable coupons available on their website. If you want to save even more money pack sandwiches yourself and snack on them in the car. As an added bonus you may be able to drive for a longer stretch without stopping.
Once you arrive at your destination look around for coupon booklets outside of gas stations and shopping areas. You’ll often find discounts for free appetizers, buy-one-get-one free meals and/or a percentage off your breakfast, lunch or dinner. These booklets also have coupons for local stores, so if you plan to buy clothes, trinkets or souvenirs definitely pick one up before you go.
Despite the best intentions you may still blow your budget on food and supplies while on vacation. You may pass a tasty restaurant and decide to stop in for dinner, you may find a local seafood market and spend large sums of money on steamed shrimp, mussels and crabs. Remember that it’s okay to splurge every once in awhile and if you’ve budgeted for it by all means splurge on vacation! If you want to eat out every night, not pack a single thing and buy everything once you get there it’s entirely up to you. My tips are not meant to keep you confined and repressed during your vacation, they are simply meant to save you a couple of bucks if you choose to use them.
Do you spend more than you think you should at the grocery store? Do you consider what you’re placing into your cart and then consider the alternatives? For example, do you realize that you are paying more for shredded cheese than you would for a whole block? Do you know that prepackaged deli meat is 50% more than the meat you receive fresh from the deli? Do you buy shredded lettuce even though you know it costs more and will spoil much more quickly then buying a whole head and chopping it up yourself?
I must admit that I’ve fallen into some of these spending traps. I used to buy prepackaged salad, but got fed up with how quickly it turned brown and converted to buying a whole head of romaine. The bags used to last a day or two, the head is sometimes good a week and a half later!
The same goes for shredded cheese. If I’m looking for a particular mix I might pick up the shredded variety, if I’m buying old fashioned cheddar I’ll just pick up a block and shred it myself. That is of course, unless I find a great sale on the shredded variety.
I loved the infographic I found one All You today. (You can view it at the end of this post.) It provides a list of spending traps along with ways to avoid them. I follow most of these rules, but I must admit that I still purchase a lot of boneless chicken. Most of my recipes call for the boneless variety so unless I’m making chicken soup or chicken stock I typically purchase boneless poultry.
Looking at the graphic definitely got me thinking about it though. We eat a lot of chicken! So much so that I recently complained about how tired I am of eating it. Many of my recipes require the chicken to be baked and chopped up prior to adding it to the dish and I’m wondering if it would be cheaper and tastier to bake the chicken with the bone in the oven and then cut around the bones to extract the meat.
Hmmm. I might have to give this a try. I barely have time to make dinner as it is, so if this adds too much time to the current repertoire then I’ll have to reconsider. But this might definitely be do-able for those Sundays when my husband watches the baby while I cook a few days worth of meals.
I’m also not so sure about buying produce in bulk. I’ve tried this many times and I’m often disappointed by the quality of the apples and oranges. When you pick them yourself you know they don’t have marks and bruises. When you buy the bag it’s more difficult to decipher the quality of the product. I’ve been buying the bag lately, but I find myself cutting out or eating around quite a few bruises in my produce.
Kudos to them though for pointing out the difference between smaller cut pieces of meat. I always buy the larger portions and divide them into freezer paper when I get home. I had no idea though that the markup was 300%!
Take a look at the graphic below and let me know what you think. Do you avoid spending traps at the grocery store? Can you think of any others that should have been included?
Every week the BlogHer community sends out a Life Well Lived question. This week they asked What are your favorite summer staples? How do you bring the summer sun to your wardrobe?
The funny thing is that my answer to this question is exactly the same as my answer to the last one. Two simple words: Nail Polish.
Painting my nails is an inexpensive pick-me-up and it always make me feel really good about wearing sandals or going barefoot throughout the summer. At a barbeque this weekend my sister-in-law commented on how great my nails look and asked how I have the time to paint them with a little one crawling around the house.
I told her it’s the one way I treat myself. I wait until my son falls asleep for the night. Then I ask my husband to keep an ear out for him. I head into the living room, grab a big glass of water, turn on the Food Network and paint my toenails.
No matter how stressful the week is I look down at my feet and immediately feel better about things. Some days I can barely find the time to shower, let alone put on a coat of mascara, so this is an important way for me to feel feminine and pretty.
Plus, what says summer more than a beautiful, bright shade of nail polish? Throw in a big sun hat, a sleeveless cotton dress and I’m all set for summer.
I’ve mentioned this before but I buy my nail polish from Zoya. It’s a bit more expensive then other brands but it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. If you’ve never purchased from Zoya before click on this link, create an account and receive a coupon for a free nail polish. You can find the coupon in the MY PROMOTION CODES tab of your account. If you use that coupon and add two other nail polishes to your order you’ll also earn free shipping!
What about you? What are your favorite summer staples?
In December of last year my husband decided to pay the $79 annual fee to purchase access to Amazon Prime. I wasn’t sure that the benefits outweighed the costs, but I was willing to give it a try. The year before my husband spent nearly $100 in shipping costs when he decided to order Christmas gifts a week before the holiday, so I figured at the very least we’d save some money on last minute shipping supplies.
Well now that we’ve had Amazon Prime for nearly six months I can say without a doubt that it has been worth the money. In an effort to receive free shipping at Amazon I used to add items to the cart to hit that magic $25 number Amazon uses to send items for free. A lot of times I ended up buying things I didn’t really need, but figured it made more sense to pay for another item then to pay for shipping.
With Amazon prime I pay $79 up front, but I no longer find myself throwing extra items in the cart. I can’t say for certain but I bet those extra items added up over the long haul.
Lately I’ve been turning to Amazon more and more frequently to purchase baby related items like diapers, wipes and safety gear. God bless all of those earth conscious parents who are willing to use cloth diapers. I commend your efforts, but we currently use disposables. If you join Amazon Mom and Amazon Prime you can find diapers and wipes at prices that are much cheaper than most stores.
The best thing about Amazon Prime is the two-day shipping. These days I want to spend time enjoying activities and games with my son. I’d rather click a few buttons on my computer than waste time shopping. With two day shipping I can get items nearly as fast as I could driving to the store.
As a bonus Amazon Prime also gives you access to movies. We cancelled our subscription to Netflix this year, so it’s been nice to use Amazon for that too.
I will definitely renew our subscription when the year is up. The discounts on diapers and wipes as well as two day shipping definitely make it worth it for us. Once my son is out of diapers we’ll reevaluate the options again.
Why on earth would anyone bid on an auction when they don’t intend to pay? I was so excited to sell an unused Wii console and now I’m trapped in the nightmare of eBay’s processes for a bidder who refuses to cough up the cash.
I don’t even understand the bidder’s feedback. Negative feedback as a seller, but okay feedback as a buyer allowed her to bid?
Feedback is feedback and if you aren’t honest on one side of the equation why would anyone think you’d be honest on the other?
It’s all very disappointing.
Here’s a shout out to my readers! Most of my go-to recipes involve chicken as the primary protein. While I try to vary the ways I prepare it I must admit that I’m getting a little chickened out.
I’ve checked out a bunch of my favorite cooking sites in the hopes of finding something new, but none of them have inspired me. My husband won’t eat pork so that’s definitely out. I wouldn’t mind a classic recipe that’s all together meat-less but my husband is a bit picky when it comes to veggies, so it might be hard to find something tasty that we would actually eat.
If any of my glorious readers have ideas on what I should prepare, PLEASE leave me a comment. If I don’t come up with a solution soon I’ll be forced to order pizza!