Monthly Archives: November 2017

Family Honor Plate

When I was growing up my parents had a tradition that for various unique/monumental occasions, we had a special plate that one of us would get to use at dinner. It was gold in color and much more fancy than the other dishes they used for every day.

So for things like a birthday, or a great report card…things like that, we were “rewarded” with the special plate at dinner. We all wanted it and loved having the honor of eating off of it!

It is a tradition that I wanted to carry on with my own kids, but honestly, I hadn’t taken the time to find a special plate that would work for such occasions.

Then I was contacted by #Flyby Promotions about a new product they had for review called the Family Honor Plate. It was a kit that had everything available to paint a plate together that could be used to recognize honorable traits in your kids.

Around the edge of the plate are listed the Fruits of the Spirit. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness,  Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.

The idea behind using the plate is simple. Watch for those times when your kids are displaying one of the Fruits of the Spirit and then they get the Honor Plate to use that day. But even beyond that, they encourage you to have your kids watch for those traits in other family members and “gift” the plate when it is appropriate!

What a wonderful way for us parents to be watching, but also for our kids to be learning how to see and recognize those fruits as well.

The kit comes with everything you need to paint the plate. We sat down as a family to come up with a design and color pattern. As you can see from the top picture, we used painters tape to mark off equal sections and it worked pretty well!

Then you start painting, making sure to clean your brush well between each color. I will say that for some reason my red and purple especially were very thick upon opening. Almost to the point that I couldn’t spread them with the brush. I was really hoping that when we baked the plate the brush strokes would soften and even out.

But as you can see from the finished picture below, that didn’t happen. So my only piece of advice would be to not paint on several coats and keep it as thin as possible! I have done other painted pottery pieces before and if you didn’t have several coats, the color after baking would be very light. In this case, the color after baking was just the same as before baking!

Once you are done painting, you let it dry for a period of time and then they have baking instructions on how to cure your plate. Once it has baked and cooled you can use it to eat on!

Our family is going to have fun using this plate over and over again as we watch for honorable characteristics in one another!

In addition, I was sent these fun Table Tyme Discussion cards. Every day has a new question that helps encourage conversation around the dinner table!

Even though my plate didn’t turn out “perfect”, we had a lot of fun planning how to paint it and discussing how we were going to be using it. I think this would be a wonderful project for any family and a great way to encourage kids to be aware of and watching for the fruits of the spirit!!

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I was sent the Family Honor Plate for free to complete and review. All opinions expressed are my own!

Randomness From My Life

Days seems to run together lately. It is almost Thanksgiving, can you believe it?! I am so ready to decorate for Christmas but Dominic is encouraging me to wait until after Thanksgiving to do so. There are so many things that I want to remember, and laugh about from this time so the easiest way for me to do that is to share them here.

On Tuesday we had our first band concert of the year. Gabe is in 8th grade and this will be our last year of middle school concerts for a while. I love the format they have, they match two grades together, 6th and 8th, and each grade play two songs. It is a nice, short concert. Perfect for my younger kids to sit through.

The only problem with these concerts is that we need “Sunday Best” dress. Now our church is a little more casual. So Sunday best for us is nice jeans and a sweater. But we needed dress pants for the concert. My now 14 yr old boy has grown again and is tall and thin. His waist is skinny-appropriate for the boys pants, but his legs are so long he really needs men’s lengths. No store in our community carries pants in a 26/32.

I unfortunately forgot about said concert until the day before and frantically ran around town buying every pant remotely close to his size. None of them worked. I found an old pair from last year that we decided were good enough for this concert if he wore dark, long socks so his legs wouldn’t show.

Then in true, I have it together fashion, just 10 minutes before we had to leave we found his only pair of dress shoes and discovered they were a size 8. He is a strong 10 these days. There was no cramming his feet into these small shoes. So our only option was to tightly tie on a pair of dad’s old dress shoes, size 13. He flopped those babies onto the stage with ease and thankfully didn’t trip. I need to be a bit proactive about concert number two so we don’t have the same issue again!

I have somehow pinched my sciatic nerve and have been suffering with weird, shooting pains in my rear end for the last week. It is super fun and after a few days of what I thought was healing time and no pain, I did a dance workout on Monday morning and apparently irritated it again and man it is bad now. It hurts to sit and walk and lay flat. So basically everything I do is marked with some form of pain. If you see me rubbing my own backside, you know why! haha

Yesterday we found a large hunk of blonde hair on the floor by the bathroom. It appeared to be cut. So I called Karlena into the bathroom and showed it to her and asked if she cut her own hair. She emphatically explained that in no way would she cut her own hair, she would never do that! Then she went to get her blonde haired horse out to speculate if somehow its hair had been magically cut. I assure you, sir, it had not.

So I started brushing her hair and noticed in the back that there is a small part that is shorter. It isn’t hugely noticeable. I asked if she got something stuck in her hair and attempted to cut it out herself and her eyes dropped to the floor. Ahh yes, mama knows.  She is a terrible liar, she does have some incredible story-telling abilities, but I know better.

I received the nicest letter from grandma in the mail yesterday. She wanted to encourage me about my surgery. She has arthritis in her hands and I know writing a handwritten note isn’t easy for her. I will treasure those notes forever. And I could take a lesson from her. A call or text is nice, but a handwritten note can’t be beat!

My surgery is still set for December 28th. I have complete peace about it so I am grateful for that. I made my first freezer meal last night and had my mom pick up some special aluminum pans and lids from Sams so that I can make a few more. We don’t have a ton of freezer space right now, but I should be able to freeze and store at least 5 meals. That should help.

We have applied with and enrolled in new health “sharing” with Liberty Health Share. It will start in January and will replace our traditional health insurance so I can’t really speak to how it all works right now, but I will give you some of the information I do know.

For our family, this seemed the best fit. We chose the Liberty Complete Plan and the monthly share amount will be $449 per month. We will have an out of pocket “annual unshared amount” of $1500 for our family. So we are responsible for everything up to the first $1500 and then after that we can share all our expenses. This will require that we be proactive at each appointment, asking for detailed records/billing notices so that we can upload them into the Liberty Share system. But we know a few people that use this program and have had success over the past year so we are hopeful it will be ok.

A dear friend of mine works for a health care system in the South and she has told me recently about how many changes we are going to continue to see with healthcare. It is probably going to get worse before it get better unfortunately. We all need to advocate for ourselves.

She advised me to call the surgical center where I had my recent surgery after I got my bill and ask if there was a discount if I paid the bill in full. Honestly, I didn’t expect there would be a discount. I had submitted it to insurance and what was remaining was mine to pay. But they did in fact tell me that if I paid in full I would save 10%. On this bill it was over $400! That’s $400 I can use to pay my remaining radiology bill, or my surgeon’s bill. So take notes friends, don’t be afraid to call and ask!

We have conferences tonight and I am excited to hear how our kids are doing in school. I was most worried about Karlena but she really enjoys school and at least from what I can tell is doing very well.

We are hosting Thanksgiving next week and will have a nice sized group, 18 of us! Our kitchen is all put back together and I am excited to host. Now if I can just find time to dust those pesky built-in shevles…

I have purchased almost all of my Christmas gifts and will start wrapping very soon. I am taking a very special trip with Karlena to Houston on December 15th for a long weekend and basically I need to have all my gifts wrapped, my treats baked and freezer meals done before then because when we get back on the 19th we will have a couple of days before Christmas and then just a few days before my surgery. So basically I have 29 days to do a whole lot of stuff! Better get to it!!

Have a great rest of the week!

 

Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner

My Healthy Hair Journey

Ok so maybe it is strange that I am writing about my “hair journey” but about a year ago I shared a blog post about my curly girl hair routine. I have had some friends tell me that they couldn’t believe everything that went into my hair routine (trust me I can’t either!) but since that time there have been a few changes and I thought I would share them here because I am pretty excited about the results!

First of all in July I had my first ever Deva Girl cut. I had read about this type of haircut but there weren’t any stylists in or near Marshall that were trained to do these types of cuts. Basically, they cut the hair dry and shape it with the way that the curl naturally falls instead of cutting it wet and pulling it straight. Online testimonials talked about hair being transformed. I was hopeful but honestly skeptical that I would notice any real difference.

I have always had “difficult” hair. It takes a lot to style it, lots of product, lots of scrunching and curling and more product and re-curling. I would get a haircut and in a week it would feel icky on the ends, lifeless and frizzy. If I had that 2 inches of bad hair cut off, the next 2 inches would be icky. I was sure this would be the case with this new cut…but I was desperate for a change so I searched for a salon within 100 or more miles of our home.

I located a salon up in the Cities and made an appointment but ended up having to cancel. It wasn’t convenient being almost 3 hours away so I searched again and found a salon in my hometown just an hour and 45 minutes away.

An appointment was made with Mickie At Ambiance Salon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for a Saturday morning and I went in with anticipation. That morning I arrived, a freak thing happened with my car and it died in the gas station parking lot just down the street from the salon. There is a whole story there and my dad had to come and rescue me so I could make my appointment, needless to say I was worried it was a sign that things were going to go terribly wrong!

They ask that you arrive with dry hair and hair that is down. I never wear my hair down because I hate when it gets in my face…but this is how I looked on the way out of the house.

Mickie did her magic, the cut was weird initially. I haven’t ever had my hair cut dry. It seemed wrong. Haha! And I had a lot of split ends and damage in the ends of my hair that needed to go. I had wanted to keep my length but the truth was every morning I was combing out snarls of hair, the bad had to go. I was all in.

Here is how it looked after. She only added minimal product and I sat under the Deva Curl dryer for a time to dry my hair. No other curling etc. It was a little less work than I was used to, but it looked nice.

The real test would come the next day when I would have the opportunity to wash and style it my way.

I can tell you that I haven’t ever been happier with my hair. In the first 8 1/2 weeks before the next cut, I had 1 “bad” hair day. This is huge for me! One day that I actually pulled my hair back into a ponytail because it was driving me nuts and that was 3 days or so before my next haircut.

And even better I have cut out 3 different products that I don’t need to use anymore! Mickie recommended that after I wash and condition my hair that right before I get out of the shower I put a 1/2 pump of conditioner on my hair as a leave-in treatment. It adds moisture to my hair and helps detangle it when I pick through it later! Bye bye argan oil…we don’t need you anymore! I also stopped using the sea salt spray. Not needed anymore!

Another change is that I used to immediately wrap my hair in a t-shirt after my shower, once it was semi-dry, I would add in my products. Now I get out of the shower and immediately pick through my hair and add in my Deva Curl gel and mousse. (Something they do at the salon) I received a Deva Curl towel for free the last time I ordered shampoo and conditioner and then I use that to scrunch my hair and remove a majority of the wetness.

I then use some small hair clips to pull up a few sections of my hair away from my face. This helps it dry and build body in those portions of my hair. I leave those clips in for the next “steps.” Here I am this morning after I put my product in and clips in.

Next I go and sit in front of my handy space heater. I sit about an arms length away and will gently scrunch my hair on all sides so that it dries well. Here I am after about 5-7 minutes of drying time.

You can see that the drying helps add a little needed volume to my hair. And I find that it really doesn’t get frizzy with this method, it just feels softer and fuller.

Finally, I do spend a few minutes curling a few pieces to soften the look even more. The change though is that I used to have to curl so much more. And curl and re-curl to get the curl to hold. The curling part would take 20 minutes or more, now it is 5, maybe 10 minutes at most. And the curl holds. Before I used two types of hairspray. A strong hold and a lighter hold. I have been able to give up the strong hold hairspray!

My hair just feels so much more healthy. It has truly been a transformation! I typically have been getting a perm every 12-18 months.  My last one was in December of 2016. I am curious to see with this new cut, if that will be necessary anytime soon. Before my hair always felt so heavy and the curl fell quickly so the perm seemed necessary to keep the curl…now I just don’t know when it will become necessary! Maybe I will find out how much natural curl I have in there after all!!

So there you go friends, an update on my hair! Happy Tuesday to all of you!

Memories, A Medical Update and That Time I Talked About Health Insurance


So once again it has been awhile since I have had a chance to sit down and write. Lots has happened and I wanted to share a few of those updates! On Saturday we had our family pictures taken by a friend who has some crazy amazing talent. I have only seen some of the sneak peaks…but what she has shared so far has blown me away. Her name is Stephanie Werner and she can be found here on Facebook. Seriously, if you need pictures taken and live in or near Marshall, MN, call her. I can’t wait to see the final edited CD!!

We have had a few really crazy weeks with work, and we just had some of the carpet replaced in the office space that we lease so things have been in a bit of a disarray here. But as of yesterday, everything was moved back into its proper place and the carpet looks really nice.

I couldn’t help but think that my grandpa would have really loved to see the before and after pictures. He and my grandma really supported us when Dominic first started this business. They gave us the loan that made it possible to buy the furniture and supplies he needed to get going. When I was cleaning out my desk drawers before we had to move everything I came across the paid off promissory note that he sent back to us after we had paid off everything in full. A sweet memory.

Speaking of memories, yesterday was the 7 year anniversary of my best friend Karlena’s passing. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it had been 7 years. Sometimes that seems impossible. But then I look at my girl, her namesake, and realize that she will be 7 in 6 short weeks. I was organizing pictures on our shelves after the move in the office and many of them are of our family and you can see how we have all aged and changed. But the pictures I have with Karlena and I will forever be from 2010 and earlier. It is sad when you think about the fact that someone so crucial to your faith walk isn’t there for new steps. But her presence and memory are certainly felt and I will forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to love her and be her friend.

On October 19th I had a follow-up visit with my OB/GYN Dr after my surgery. The good news was that everything was healing well and the biopsy from both the cyst (which was the thing I was most concerned about) and the tubes was benign.

In addition to having those things removed, I also had an ablation procedure. I shared back in September that because of the way that my uterus is tipped they were unable to do a standard biopsy in the Dr’s office, so instead they had to do it in the operating room prior to doing the ablation. My Dr had talked to me that there was a small chance that if something showed up in the biospy of the uterine wall that was concerning, I may have to have a hysterectomy in the future.

At the time there wasn’t anything in my history that indicated that might be a concern so we went forward with the lesser invasive procedure. Unfortunately, when they did the biopsy of the lining there were some sections of concern. In medical terms, there was some focal glandular crowding, proliferative-type endometrium, and cystic dilatation….in layman’s terms I like to call this my angry uterus.

Right now my angry uterus is just that…angry. Ha ha!! It isn’t cancer but if left unchecked and untreated it could become more serious. She said that we could wait a few months and then if my cycles don’t quit completely (like they do for 85-90% of women that have the ablation procedure) she would recommend a hysterectomy. (For people without an angry uterus bi-annual biopsies done in office can be used to watch for any changes….mine would have to be done surgically)

I am 42, almost 43. I won’t be having children physically in the future and so from a medical perspective, I don’t need this darn angry, funny tipped uterus. The reason we didn’t just do a hyst right away is because it has a longer recovery time and more risks….we were both thinking that the biopsy would be normal and hoping that I wouldn’t have the need for any more surgeries.

Well then last week we got the wonderful news about our anticipated healthcare premium increases. And just so I am clear, this is our experience and I realize that there are many of you that have had different experiences. I don’t know what the answers are, I wish I did…but I want to share what we have gone through the last 6 years and what is happening now as a result.

Let me just be frank with you, Obamacare for our family was a nightmare. Our premiums have doubled, tripled, quadrupled in the course of 6 years. I was fortunate for many years to work in a corporate environment and so as a result up until 2011, had access to a large group plan that offered reasonable rates and low deductibles. We were involved in a health coaching group and kept accountable for our health needs. Except for some major unexpected things, our group was healthy because we as a whole exercised, ate healthy and went to the doctor when it was medically necessary.

When we moved to MN and I was no longer working with that larger corporation and Dominic started his own business, we were in the position to look for healthcare on our own. I was clueless to what it would cost and we were shocked at how much more expensive rates were than the rates I had paid through the bank. But in 2011, it was manageable.

Then came 2012, 2013…and so on and with it extreme increases in premiums and out of pocket deductible costs. In 2011 we were paying approximately $400-450 a month for our family of 6 with maybe a $2000 deductible. Today we are paying $1600 a month and we have a deductible of over $7000 out of pocket. If we stay with our current group plan for 2018, one that we were lucky to get because we work together at the business….one that we were grandfathered into last year, our premiums will be almost $2100 a month.

$2100 a month just to have insurance. Our plan used to have a $40 co-pay, so at least when the kids got sick we could justify the expense of going in and getting checked out. In 2018 our co-pay will be eliminated. In addition to the $2100 a month, we would have to pay 100% of all medical costs per person up to $2300 each before any “insurance” would kick in.

Dominic and I work very hard for a living. We are fortunate, we know that. We make just enough that we do not qualify for any subsidy programs. Our cost of healthcare is fully our own. I know that we are not alone in this. I am friends with other families, many of them also self-employed, who have found themselves in a similar situation.

How is this “affordable healthcare?”

Last year we researched the options available to us in regards to the various Christian Health Sharing ministries. Fear kept me stuck in the what-ifs. Dominic was more ready to make a switch than I was but with promises of “reform” all over the news last November….we decided to ride out one more year in hopes that change was really going to happen.

Clearly that change isn’t happening anytime soon. The insurance companies continue to increase rates, decrease benefits and lesson the available networks that the plans work in. When my health care premiums are more than my mortgage payment each month, something is wrong.

So, as a result, two things are happening. One, we are looking into all of the options and companies out there that are considered Christian Health Sharing Ministries. I have spent hours reading and researching the differences, asking for input from friends that are using each plan, and honestly in prayer for wisdom and discernment over our decisions. I can’t live in fear of the unknown. When we get to that place where we have made some decisions I will share the whats and whys here for anyone that is interested.

I still have some questions and am hoping to get those answers soon. I am saddened that this is the state of our affairs and that we have to make these types of “between a rock and a hard place” decisions. But I am trusting that God will guide our choices and our steps.

And two….I have been back in contact with my doctor to discuss and schedule a hysterectomy (one that leaves my ovary intact!!) for the very end of December. While having another surgery in 2 months isn’t on my list of the best ways to end 2017 and ring in a new year, I can’t afford to risk waiting and having to do the surgery in early 2018. If there is a drastic change in my cycles in the next 6 weeks, the surgery could be canceled…but at this point, it looks like for many reasons, it is the best option for me.

I thought the week-long recovery of the last surgery was tough. This one will challenge me even more I am sure. But Dominic has been incredibly supportive and we will just have to schedule our workload very light in early January as a result. We have some pretty incredible clients and I know they will understand.

And sometime in the next 6 weeks I need to come up with about 10 freezer meals that I can make and freeze in advance so that I don’t have to worry about cooking. I won’t be able to lift anything over 20lbs for 6 weeks for sure, no laundry, no vacuuming….seriously what will I do?! Haha!

But joking aside, can I tell you that I have such a peace about all of this?! When my doctor said it might be something we would have to do it was like “ok…I can deal with that.” All the fear and anxiety I felt over the last surgery is just gone. Praise God! I know that having come to that place with Him, trusting that whatever the outcome, He would be there….that truth has carried me through today. It can only be explained by Him. He has given me a peace and I am so grateful for that.

So I do covet your prayers as we make final decisions about our health care situation and for December 28th and my surgery. It could be so much worse, I know that….so I just move forward seeking to get to the healthiest place that I can for myself and my family!

And if you are using a Christian Sharing Ministry and want to share your experience please do! What do you love, what works…what doesn’t, would you go back to traditional insurance? What questions should I be asking…give me all your knowledge!

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