Tag: strabismus

A Cold Tax Season is Here

February 06, 2018

Hey Everyone,

Looks like some groundhog saw his shadow so we are getting another 6 weeks of winter. Living in Reno, NV we either get Winter or Summer, there is no in between, not really.  So I guess we are just going to be colder a little longer than usual. Others out there might have a different take on that with a foot (or two….eeek!!) of snow pelting down on them.

Also, while it is cold it is also tax season. I know many people who absolutely dread doing their taxes and wait until the very last day, Tuesday, April 17. In exactly 70 days.  Please, do not procrastinate. I beg you. If you owe something, better to get it over with and pay than to accrue interest. The government doesn’t mess around with people owing money.

Yesterday, instead of going for my scheduled 3 miles run Husband and I buckled down and submitted our 2017 taxes. It took us about a total of an hour doing it together. Over the last 5 tax seasons, we’ve gotten into a pretty good rhythm of how we do everything. During the year itself if there are any medical bills, major expenses (car for the 2017 year for us), etc. we immediately put it in the tax years file in our cabinet. Then when we’ve received our very last document needed to file (for 2016 and 2017 there were more documents needed than usual due to job changes, vehicle changes, and benefits added) we knock it out of the park in less than an hour.

Everyone has different experiences with filing. The first year Husband and I were together I was very impatient, nervous, sleep deprived (having a newborn, and also working swing shift with a full school schedule) so I just started working on it without him. Ended up royally messing everything up so Husband came to my rescue like the knight he is, and fixed everything. Since then I’ll read him the numbers while he puts them into the computer. I learned my lesson.

Now, some people may think of the money being returned by the IRS as a bonus and a reason to go on a spending spree. Probably not a good idea. The idea of having the freedom to buy what you wish not having to dream about it is such a temptation. I understand.

Instead of doing that once Husband and I find out how much of a return we are getting we break it down into a budget. Making sure that we take into account what our living budget is going to look like during the next year. Putting things in the order of importance for our survival. It wouldn’t be very good if we used our entire return to book an all expense paid vacation to Walt Disney World so than when we return we are in the same situation we were when we left.

The management of the money is going to be broken down a little differently this year than last year because of Husband losing his GI Bill in a couple of months so we need to plan for that, while we wouldn’t normally because he would be working a steady job.

First: Replenish our emergency fund

Second: Put aside 2-3 months of rent

Third: Pay off the rest of Monster’s surgery bill.

Fourth: Pay off a low balanced credit card

Fifth: $50 for Dinner

These are our priorities this year. I know that this will look different for everyone but to give you an idea. While I did say that it isn’t recommended that you go crazy and spend it all on a brand new, unnecessary television, or the latest iPhone you could. It’s your money. Be responsible.

That being said every year husband and I budget out the last $50 to go on a date. It’s something simple that works for both of us so that we can do something “fun” together.

See you on the other side

 

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Cross-Eyed Life

January 30, 2018

Hey Everyone,

I am sorry for not posting the last few days. Life has been in one of those upheavals. Last Thursday my oldest son had eye surgery to correct his Strabismus. This is a condition in which his eyes did not align properly to focus on objects causing double vision, lack of depth perception, and blurred vision. He has had this condition since birth, but Husband and I didn’t notice it until he was about two when it was blatantly obvious to everyone else around us.

We should have noticed something before he turned two, but just thought it was normal for a child’s depth perception to be off like our oldest child presented. As he was moving into the different stages of development he would crawl more to the right side than straight towards an object, or when he would walk he didn’t grasp how far away an object was and would either trip or fall right into the object.

With working as an emergency dispatcher I was asked to bring my kids in to have some of the new EMT students do assessments on them for practice. The different EMT groups went around and would comment on Monster’s eyes and ask if it was normal for them to be that way. It started to freak Husband and me out so we asked the teacher what we should do since he was a registered Physicians Assistant. That was when he recommended we see an optician who then referred us to a child ophthalmologist.

He was two years old when he saw the ophthalmologist in Napa, CA where he was given a prescription for his near sidedness sight. The results were breathtaking. After putting on his glasses, the first thing he said when we walked out, “Lights on the car” about the truck parked next to us outside the office that had been there when we had arrived. We almost cried because we didn’t realize that his sight had been that bad.

There were never really any fights about putting his glasses on and keeping them on because his sight was so bad. His vocabulary exploded because he could then see the world around him more clearly.

Back to the strabismus though, we started working with the ophthalmologist in Napa, CA to do some vision therapy including eye patching and even eye drops. Unfortunately, two years into the treatment, we moved to Reno, NV and had to start over with a new ophthalmologist.

Now, he is six years old. The vision therapy didn’t work. He hated the eye patches and every time we had to put in eye drops everyone in the house would end up in tears because of the massive stress it would put on us. Monster didn’t care for it because we were purposely blurring his vision in one eye to force his left eye to work. Even though his depth perception was still way off and he saw double of everything (we didn’t realize this until we saw the new ophthalmologist in Reno and they started asking him different questions).

During this journey, he had 4 different cases of pink eye. Once in both eyes, and then three times in his left eye. I swear if anything went wrong we didn’t call the Primary Care Physician, we called his Ophthalmologist. Each time he got pink eye it got worse and worse for Monster to see, his prescription changed 6 times in 4 years. Glasses are not cheap. Especially, when for the first two years we had to pay for EVERYTHING out of pocket with us having no insurance.

This surgery was the last option for us after four years of trying every option we could think of to help correct his vision. It was not a light choice to make and we knew that as he got older it would just get more difficult for him. So Husband and I put money aside as best we could during OEP and paid the $3,000 for Monster to get his eye corrected. The surgery was the longest 2.5 hours of my life.

Even though it’s been less than a week since his surgery there has been such a difference for him. He looks at everyone and everything with both eyes together. He doesn’t have any head turning trying to decide which eye to look with. And he even says that he sees one now instead of two. His peripheral vision in his left eye is broader. I am just so amazed at what a difference this had made for him.

While this will be a lifelong journey for him, I am so glad that this happened when he was young enough to not have any lasting side effects. Even though he might need a follow-up surgery, may it be in a few months, or a couple of years, we are still here for him and want what’s best for him.

This is all part of the journey.

Have any of you had vision issues? Eye surgery? Children that have had surgery? How did you get through it?

See you on the other Side.

Things We Are Teaching Our Kids about Budgeting

September 12, 2017

Hey Everyone,

People seem to have kids, be having kids, or thinking about having kids. It must be something in the water for people to have that kind of activity. I have two of my own.

Growing up my dad would get paid at the beginning of the month and then would expect to be able to go shopping at that time and that the food would last us the entire month. That would be $300 to last 5 people (2 adults, 3 growing kids) and 1 black Labrador. More often than not it didn’t. We would run out of food about a week into the month and live off of nothing but Top Ramen, pasta (in any way you can possibly think of- dry; with butter; salt and pepper; etc), or just dry cereal. Sometimes it would last two weeks in. I’m so glad that my siblings and I were able to get food at the school, otherwise, it would have gotten even worse.  During the summers, and breaks were the hardest for us.

If you were to hear this, many people would think that we didn’t have money, were poor, or were just down on our luck. The truth is, my dad actually got enough money to support us decently for the entire month and not have to worry about anything. The problem was that my dad didn’t know how to manage his money. Or make wise money decisions.

This is sad that some kids have to go through this. As a way to counteract this with my own kids, Husband and I implemented a way for the kids to earn money, and have the freedom to choose how to spend it, within reason.

chore Chart Since it’s the beginning of the school year I bought 2 different chore chart notations. (To the left is for my oldest). This is a tester model to see if this system is a right fit for my kids. On the left side is the weekly dates. Across the top are 5 repeating expectations for my oldest with monetary values:

Homework- 2 cents

Quiet Time- 3 Cents

Pick Up Toys- 1 Cent

Eye Patching- 2 cents

All 4- 2 cent incentive

So far it is having mixed results for the effectiveness. My oldest is in Kindergarten so he doesn’t come home with homework. So there are two workbook pages that he CAN work on if he wants. Quiet time is during the times that I’m working. I cannot be on the phones at home and have someone hear, “Mommy, can you come wipe my butt? I pooped”. They need to be quiet. Picking up toys is so easy and basic. And eye patching, oh man. With my son’s eye problems, he hates wearing his eye patch, for every day that he wears one for the full 6 hours, he gets some money. As you can see the ones that are consistently being not done are the homework and toys.

At the end of the day, I will put a sticker in the correct spot to show that he accomplished the task and then on Friday I will pay him accordingly. I will give him pennies for each task completed and any incentive that was earned, and also make a separate pile for the money that was missed out on so he can see what not doing something does for him. Once I’ve finished divvying out the pennies we will count and exchange for Nickels and Dimes. Quarters are needed for laundry money so he won’t be getting any of those, unfortunately. But he’s still learning about how to exchange money.

Incentives

On Friday’s I get a weekly report from his teacher about his behavior and anything special that happened so he will get 10 cents for every “Dojo” point he gets during the week as an incentive to listen to his teacher. Also, if he does anything “extra” that is paid out on that day, right after it happens, i.e. putting away dishes, matching socks, taking out the bathroom trash.

Friday is the only day that he can “buy” something. The reason for this is because we needed to limit when he would be able to utilize his money. And make conscious decisions about it, right when he gets it, instead of changing his mind. Plus, if he wants to buy something on Wednesday night, he will have a couple days to think it over if he really wants it or not. He could buy a piece of candy for 50 cents, a soda for $1.00, an hour playing on my iPad for $5.00, and if he saves enough money ($10) he can pay to have a bowling night. Bowling night is something that the boys decided they wanted if they were to save a lot of money.

Also, we are teaching consequences and that some bad or negative choices come at a price. If my oldest son is being mean to his brother then he has to pay a 5 cent fine, pay 10 cents for every “Dojo” point taken away by his teacher, 50 cents for losing his temper/throws a temper tantrum. There are other things that he can do to pay a fine, but he is a good kid.

First Buy

This proud guy has saved $4.50 and decided that he wanted a soda so he with his own $1 money he walked with Husband down to the gas station and bought his own. You can tell he is so proud of himself.

The reason why I’m doing this is that I want my kids to be money smart and learn to make financial decisions, learn the value of $1. I know that next year because things will be different, we will need to change the chores, and also change the values. Next year he won’t get paid for picking up his toys, while his younger brother won’t be paid 1 cent for going on the potty (I am not a fan of potty training).

Being financially smart on this journey is imperative because there is no need to go into debt for a vacation. Start being smart with your money now, so that it will be easier when we cross that finish line together!!

See you on the other side!!