Category Archives: baby

“Someday” is Now

I’ve been blogging about my heart history for the last few posts. You can read about when I was born, my open heart surgery at age 2, and how having a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) has affected my growing up years.

I’ve posted in the past about how pregnancy could effect my heart. It turns out, after I was able to carry two wonderful precious babies, my heart has in fact has some negative change.

First – because I can – here are some of my favorite pictures of my boys. I love them to bits!

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The day my youngest (E) was born.

 

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Are they not precious?! Both of these photos of the boys are from when we were still in the hospital. (Z on the left, E on the right)

 

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Twins, two years apart. Z on the left – 5 days old. E on the right – 9 days old.

 

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Love, love, love this!

 

Cankle to Ankle

These two pictures show just how dramatic the swelling in my leg was after my second child. Later, I was told that this is considered “symptomatic heart failure.” Which makes sense I guess, when you only lose .8 pounds after having a 7+ lb baby … something must be amiss.

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From September 9th – it took this long for my leg to go back to normal.

All of this to say – yes – pregnancy had an impact on my heart. HOWEVER — and this is important — This is NOT the reason for what I’m about to say. It had an impact of timing, but it’s not the reason.

So on to the news:

“Someday” is Now.

Meaning: I’m getting a heart valve!

We met with the surgeon this week and I am currently scheduled for a Valve Implantation on May 17th. May 25th  (updated to reflect new surgery date)

[It’s not a valve replacement or repair, because I don’t have anything to replace or repair. 🙂 ]

We were able to ask a ton of questions and are feeling confident that this is a good decision and the timing is right. It is considered “non-emergency”.  That’s the entire reason my doctors have kept such a close eye on me all of my life – to figure out exactly when “now” should be. While not an emergency, it is necessary because at this stage, they expect my heart to return to “normal” size since the pumping function has not been compromised (yet).

Mostly, we are wanting everyone to know so that you can be praying.

Prayer requests:

*Peace of mind for both JJ and I (I’m feeling ok about actual surgery – being put out will be better than the c-sections. Recovery – not so much. I’m dreading that and looking forward to late summer when, hopefully, I will begin discover energy I didn’t even know was possible.)

*Clarity and discernment on when and how we explain to Z what’s going on. Thankfully, due to E arriving via c-section, he already knows that Hospitals & Doctors “Help people”

*Work for JJ now, so he will be able to take some time once it’s surgery and recovery time

*A good plane ticket price for my mom as she flying here for the surgery and some of my immediate recovery time

*That Insurance will cover everything. We expect it to – but – you never know.

Praises

*Great doctors that are experts in their field

*We finished our emergency fund – a few weeks before we learned this was what our spring contained

 

I’ll be continuing to do some blog posts regarding my heart and up coming surgery. I’ll answer some frequently asked questions and such. Also, when May 25th arrives – this blog (not facebook or twitter) will be the best place for updates.

Thanks for stopping by. I know I have friends and family all over the US and Canada, the world really. Since I already had an established blog – we thought this would be the best way to let every one know what’s going on.

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Filed under baby, cardiology, work

GULP

Has it been over a year since I last blogged!?! We’ve been in the trenches, grinding out baby step 3.

A summary of 2015:

Chasing a toddler around while trying to survive the Texas heat, while pregnant. That’s right! We added on! In August we met our second little boy.

And seriously – paying medical bills, being pregnant, keeping the toddler alive, meeting the new baby, dipping in and out of the emergency fund because of slow work & medical expenses sums up all of 2015.

SO…. I picked the blog back up as things start to settle down.

AND because we have a new update!!!

Quick summary from when we started this journey in January of 2012 until now (4 years):

*Paid off 46K in debt in 22 months (Read our “by the numbers” posts starting in January 2012 to see how we did that.)

*Paid for items without going into more debt: A minivan, foundation repair, new hot water heater, a couple of mattresses, a washer, as well as a garage renovation

*We welcomed 2 children into the family (which resulted in maxing out our deductibles 2 of the last 4 years. 6K and 12K!)

*Experienced 1 layoff – and from that point on have only had one income

*Experienced a couple of slow work cycles

This last year (2015), similar to when we were paying off debt in 2013 and our first son was born, we were really cautious. We also had to pre-pay my OB early in the year. After the deductibles were reached, and we got our pre-pay money back, we were able to put a little bit more toward the emergency fund. My husband had a couple of large projects come up in the fall, right as we were calculating medical expenses.

Overall, we ended 2015 being a little discouraged. In rough estimates, 2015 resulted in 25% drop in income.

One super positive note from this stat is our extreme gratitude that God continues to provide for our needs. We have the four walls (food, transportation, shelter/utilities, clothing) covered no problem. We are so thankful for starting this journey 4 years ago, it gave us the tools and skills to keep a close eye on every dollar in, every dollar out. A 25% drop in income is very likely to cause disaster. For us, it did not.

The year ended and we were relieved to see it and it’s expenses go away.

And then, something unexpected happened.

January 2016. A couple of big, outstanding checks arrived. We never know when checks will come in – and honestly, we almost have to live as if they won’t. Having a client owe money is very different, and less secure, than having your employer owe you a paycheck.

When the checks arrived, we were amazed. It was what we needed to FINISH OUR 6 MONTH EMERGENCY FUND.

That’s right— we are FINALLY DONE with baby step 3!

*Phew* big sigh of relief.

We can now move on.  It’s possible we will have to dip into the fund again, and finish it, and use it, finish it, etc. – but we are choosing to mentally move on. We won’t abandon the fund and be without a safety net, but we also need to start focusing on some other items.

Our specific plan is a little in the air.  It will be some type of step forward, perhaps baby step 3b, or baby step 4 (or a combination of the two).

Baby step 3B is a down payment.  We would like a slightly different living situation. While we do “own” our home, the equity if sold today, will not be enough for a 20% down payment for the type of home we are looking for in our area.

Baby step 4 is investing 15% of  income to retirement, making use of all tax-free options as best as possible.  We have invested in the past, and have made small contributions in the last 4 years, but we would like to get that up and rolling to the full 15%.

And with that – while we are not done with the baby steps – I’m probably done blogging about our baby steps journey. The first three steps are the hardest, but they are also the most measurable. For more info on the baby steps – and to see how you can get started, visit Dave Ramsey’s website.

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Filed under baby, baby steps, budget, debt

Toddler in the House

And he tries to hit my keyboard every time the lap top is out. That – along with many other reasons – is why I haven’t blogged in over half a year. WOW. I do plan on continuing to blog – so it’s not that I’m abandoning this…

Quick update:

We are still working on baby step 3. It’s taken us a lot longer than expected to finish our emergency. Partly because our expenses are on the rise (mainly the cost of medical premiums) and partly because there was a slow period with work – so we had to use part of the emergency fund. But we are back on track and hope to finish it out in the next couple of months.

On a different Dave Ramsey note – this fall, we retook FPU with our community group. It was great to have a refresher and this time, have friends to discuss it with. I’m pretty sure every couple walked away from FPU having learned or changed one thing for the better.

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Filed under baby, family

Emergency fund… slow going

So, we are now at about 53%* of our emergency fund goal.

While we have only saved 3% since becoming Debt Free in October, we are actually encouraged that we were even able to save that much. While money going out to pay for debt does not happen anymore, we have had significant increases in other bills.

We’ve had a few situations create bills we didn’t plan on. Diapers, along with the price of fresh organic produce for baby food (I’m making Z’s food), have been creating some instability in our budget. I’m still breastfeeding the kiddo and believe it or not, this means I eat way more food than I ever did while pregnant.

However, the biggest item that is currently holding us back is our medical insurance premiums. We estimate that for the three of us, our monthly premiums are just shy of DOUBLE our home mortgage. Yes, you read that right. Granted, our mortgage is not massive (we’ve been wisely living in a home that my hubby purchased 9 years ago and he did not bite off more than he could chew), but still… this is an increase of 1160% since January 2013. (gulp!) Yes, again, you read that correctly.

Some of this increase is quite understandable, I went from being fully covered, to having a very small amount taken out of my check, to being laid off. Tack on an additional family member and we were bound to see increases. We get that. However, this is an absurdly high amount. It did not help that during this time of life change for us, the insurance market went into total meltdown/chaos. Our insurance broker even told us “Sorry – I can’t help you. I have no idea how to answer your questions at this point and I might not even be in business in a few months.”

That being said, we are working on a couple of options and hope to see our monthly premiums decrease significantly in the next couple months as we work to make changes. AND we are so thankful to be out of debt. Again, the margin created by not having debt and not throwing money away on interest, has allowed us to weather this medical insurance storm.

*100% will be 6 months of expenses as suggested by Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 3. We saving 6 months over because we are a small business family where income is not always the same every month.

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Filed under baby, baby steps, budget, debt, emergency fund, employment

Major Announcement (AKA October by the Numbers)

Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (NASB)

We have a major announcement.

We’re done.

That’s right… 22 months after we started, we are out of debt!

Seriously.  It hasn’t quite sunk in for us either.

DONE!

Feels a little anti climatic, right? 🙂

In Dave Ramsey style….. FREEEEEEEEDOOOOOM!

For a final ‘by the numbers’ here is how the numbers break down:
Extra Debt paid: $5,116

Total Debt paid in October: $5,362

Since 1/1/2012 – Total Debt Paid off: $46,453*

*For the purpose of Baby step 2 we are not factoring in our home mortgage

There you go.

A few more numbers to consider while letting that number, $46,453, sink in.

•22 months
•1 layoff
•6 months on only 1 income
•6 months of steep COBRA medical premiums
•4 months of slow small business income
•1 HVAC system
•3 Student loans
•2 Medical bills
•5 consignment sales
•1 garage renovation
•1 baby born

One item that has been an uncountable blessing, is the support of our family and friends. From gracious understanding on the numerous times we declined going out to eat to the boxes of hand-me-down clothing and piles of gifts for our little boy. We truly could not have done this without the support of loved ones.

Thank you LORD for providing for us.  Thank you for entrusting us with funds and teaching us to be good stewards. Thank you for giving us strength and endurance to do what is right with your money, even when we didn’t feel like it. With the wisdom of Proverbs 22:7 in mind, we choose to not become the lender’s slave.

In closing, while the monthly “by the numbers” posts are done, we will be chronicling our next steps. Dave Ramsey’s baby step 3 is an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of expenses. Feel free to drop by and see our progress as we move forward, aiming for step 3.

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Filed under baby, blog, budget, by the numbers, debt, employment, family

August by the Numbers (part 2)

Just a quick update.  The medical numbers did finish coming in and my previous post was correct.  We were able to use the crisis fund we’ve built up since November to pay all 5,714.40. This amount covers both Z & my deductibles and copays.

And then beyond that, we were able to make a lump sum extra payment toward debt of $2,591.

Which means… my student loan is So Close to being under 10K. I thought it would be years before I saw that.

Thank you Lord for providing the funds to do this as well as helping us be disciplined and focus to follow through and be good stewards of what you provide.

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Filed under baby, budget, by the numbers, debt

August by the Numbers

Ok… so not ALL of the numbers are in yet and I’m still waiting for a few statements so we can actually write checks and pay off medical bills, but we do have a pretty good idea of how it will play out.

To start with, we have to pay the hospital. The hospital bill that we are paying out of pocket for both Z & myself: 5,714.40.

That’s quite a chunk of change! But… considering it’s the largest medical bill I’ve had in my adult life, where I have not had to say “Hey Hospital, here are my financials, I have no money, please let me work out a payment plan” I’m super PUMPED! We planned well and will be able to pay this entire amount with money we saved up in the “Crisis Fund.”

Next – I went to another consignment sale. Why is this part of the numbers this month? Because when we’ve spent money that was not initially in our budget for the baby, we’ve used Crisis Fund money to do so. What!? Going outside of the budget!? In this case, Yes. We purchased some much needed items like a standard stroller. The stroller we bought would have been at least $200 new. We spent $38. 🙂

In total, we spent $135 at the consignment sale, for items that would have totaled $425 if they were all new. Also, as a side note, I made some extra income through consigning. A whopping $22.

So … we now have a much better understanding of how much extra crisis money we have and can put it toward debt.

Medical Bills paid: $5,714.40

Consignment Money Spent: $135

Extra Income: $22

Extra Debt paid: $2,591

Total Debt paid in August: $2,837

Since 1/1/2012 – Total Debt Paid off: $35, 773*

*For the purpose of Baby step 2 we are not factoring in our home mortgage

 

Consignment savings Running Total numbers:

Running total for used items: $393
Approximate amount if all items were new: $1,119

Savings: $726

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Filed under baby, budget, by the numbers