Saturday, November 19, 2011

Money Week

Bill’s company reimburses employees for certain adoption expenses. We received a hearty reimbursement check a few weeks ago. It was a mere fraction of our actual expenses, but it was still nice to have that little bump. For a few days, we were rich!

Sunday: We arrived at church both on time and reasonably well groomed. Unfortunately, we also forgot Ruslan’s walker. This meant that one of us had to carry him or two of us hold his hands as he walked to church and the car. After church, we went swimming. In light of our new finances, Bill talked me into a family membership at a local health club (left to my own reasoning, I could have easily proved that it is more economical to remain unhealthy and die young rather than pay the monthly membership fee). We’ve been going swimming on Sunday afternoons because their “therapy pool,” which is kept at a balmy 96 degrees, is open for free swim on Sundays. Oh, to be WARM! It’s almost worth the price (almost). It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done. We have something to look forward to after church and the kids come home wiped out so my essential Sunday afternoon naps are uninterrupted. The one drawback of the day was that we also had to carry/walk Ruslan to and from the pool since we still didn’t have the walker. On that note, things with Ruslan have been much, much better. I’ll write more about that later. Thankfully, he is improving significantly.

On Sunday night, Bill mentioned that he ordered a new bike on e-bay that he’d been obsessing over for a few weeks, bringing his total up to three bicycles. Discretion forbids that I name the price here, but suffice to say that it was more than my first car and a good chunk of that reimbursement check. We were poor again.

This is our following conversation:

Marnie: “This is why we are all starving. You keep squandering all the grocery money.”
Bill: “I knew you were going to say that. Nothing you say can surprise me anymore.”
Marnie: “Good, in that case I’ll just let you know right now that we are going to adopt two more girls.”
Bill: (pause) “Ok. Just let me have some say in the whole thing.”
Marnie: “Of course you’re going to have some say. It’s going to be your idea.”
Then I gave him a kiss on the cheek and left to rake the living room.

On Monday we began horseback riding lessons at a new farm. Ruslan and Will are getting “Horse Therapy” once a week at a farm in town. Three of my other kids got wind of the deal (how does one say, “no” to one child and “yes” to another?), so it was three riding lessons plus two horse therapy sessions each time. Oh my, that was painful. I started calling around and found a local farm that offers lessons for about half the price and is only three miles from our house rather than fifteen. As soon as I turned into the driveway of this farm, I was struck with the sin of covetousness. It is BEAUTIFUL. The farm is in a small valley and butts up to the mountains. They have an incredible mountain view and I am going to get to see it every week, for half price! (Thank you God, for that view.) I wonder how they ever get anything done. If I lived there, I would spend all my time just soaking in those mountains. It was cleansing for my soul, which is good because…

Later that night I mentioned to Bill that maybe we could buy a second walker for Ruslan and just keep it in the car. My reasoning for this is that our garage is in the basement (I know, what total idiots would adopt a handicapped child while living in a multi-level house?) and helping Ruslan down the stairs and into the car is a full-man job, usually falling on me. One of the other kids will take Will down, but for some reason, I am the one who usually ends up making the trip back upstairs to get the walker, if I remember at all. This means three trips to the car for every outing: one for Ruslan, one for the walker and one for whatever it is that I realize I forgot as I’m backing out of the driveway. Plus, I finally found a reasonable supplier ( and I got our last walker for $200 (negligible considering I was steered toward $2000 walkers when this all began). So, I made the case to Bill and (brace yourself) biker-boy actually said to me, “I don’t know. $200 seems like an awful lot of money just to eliminate a trip upstairs.” I did not mention the bike/healthclub membership at this time because in the next breath, Bill asked me if I had found any girls to adopt. I hadn’t even started looking. This was a gloriously unexpected opening. I decided I would be more effective if I fumed over the money issue for a few days and went to look at special needs girls available for adoption on the internet.

On Tuesday, I fumed.

On Wednesday, my friend Maryann called. She’s the one who lost her husband in a biking accident in May. She misses him dreadfully and my heart aches for her on a daily basis. An officer from her base in Japan was in the states and he called that day asking if he could stop by. She invited him to dinner and about half way through the evening, he mentioned that the military was finished investigating the bicycle accident. They had held onto her husband’s bike and helmet during the investigation. Since it was over, he was returning them to Maryann. He had brought the bike with him to the states, assembled it, and he had it with him. He told her there was still some blood on the helmet, but the bike was undamaged. He put it in her garage before he left. She still hadn’t looked at it when we talked, but eventually, she’s going to have to walk into that garage. So…. That was hard.

Talking with Maryann served to remind me that my husband does have some redeeming qualities. He is, after all, alive. I brought up the walker again, mentioning this time that it is a mere FRACTION of the cost of his THIRD bike. Then I paused for effect. Then I told him that I forgive him for being imperceptive about our money, but if he doesn’t agree about the second walker, I’ll write about it in my blog. He said, “Go ahead. If you do, I’ll take pictures of our living room and post them in the comment section.” However, I am not afraid of this. I reminded him that most of my readers are women and that both of our mothers like me best. He told me to order the walker.

On Thursday I got a report back from a gait clinic where I had taken Ruslan in August. After three months, they finally sent me his evaluation. The doctor decided that his condition was not severe enough for surgery at this time, but asked to see him for another evaluation in two years. In the meantime, they recommend that we continue with physical therapy, horse therapy and swimming. This freed up a bicycle-sized chunk of money that would have gone toward the deductible/copay of the surgery: anesthesiologist, drugs administered, surgeon, use of the facility, and follow up appointments. I know this because of what we went through with Will’s eye surgery. We were rich again.

Later that night, Will told me, “my tooth hurt.” I suddenly remembered that Will had so many cavities when I first took him to the dentist, they recommended putting him under general anesthesia and filling them all at once. At the time, Will had eye surgery coming up, braces he was getting used to, trips we were about to take and family coming to visit. I decided to put it off for a while. Sadly, so much has been going on in the meantime that I totally forgot about his teeth. Pitiful. I had left him with unfilled cavities for six months! I felt horrible and spent the night berating myself and hoping that he would wake up pain free.

On Friday morning, the first thing Will said to me when he woke up was that his tooth hurt. Perfect. I should have taken care of this months ago. I spent most of the morning in a guilt ridden state. My dentist doesn’t work on Fridays. Apparently she is not alone in this. I left a message asking for an appointment to put Will under the general anesthesia and get the other cavities filled. Then I started calling dentists to see if anyone had an opening between now and Thanksgiving. I thought if I could just get that one problem tooth taken care of, we could get through Thanksgiving pain free and deal with the other cavities later. I finally got an emergency appointment and ran to pick up Will from school. He was in the middle of his Thanksgiving feast, wearing a T-shirt dyed brown, cut with fringes and painted with Indian-type stuff. He also had a paper headdress with six feathers (he’s an important Indian) and I brought along Cookie Monster, Elmo and the “Big Yellow Bird,” just in case. He was the picture of special needs cuteness. I sheepishly explained our situation to the dentist who looked in Will’s mouth expecting a mine field. What she found was that his teeth shouldn’t be causing him any pain, but he had an ulcer on the inside of his cheek. It was $85 for the office visit. For the second time this year, I had taken my child to a doctor, only to find out they really didn’t need to be seen.

Last night Bill asked me again about girls available to adopt. I found about ten that would fit easily into our family. So, I showed him the list and we picked a few that I am going to ask for more information about. I didn’t mention the fee schedule. From my perspective the children are a given, it’s the money that comes and goes. We ended up talking about a few house repairs/ improvements that we really need to take care of and Bill handed me an application for a 0% credit card. We are poor again. …It’s better this way.


  1. ok I haven't gotten past Sunday and your comment about saving money by dying young. Thank you! I have had the same thought. Happy and unhealthy, no ICU bills to keep me alive for a few more seconds. My Dad died that way, young and quick that is having eaten peanuts, popcorn and ice cream every night in between each cigarette. We didn't even have to pay for an ambulance! He was already gone, passed at home. We laughed and cried at the fact that he was thrifty alive and dead as we were blowing our noses with generic tissues and this was before the really nice generic we find at Aldi! Anyway, you made me laugh and to my kids delight I exercise and try to not become terribly obese.

  2. This is Connie, I must figure out my own setting as it looks like Jim is making the comment!

  3. So I continue on and love the three bike total. I can totally understand that! And I bet he got a full carbon bike with the super cool, expensive to replace wheels, DO NOT LET HIM CRASH!!!!!! And you raking the living room gives such a picture!!!! You are funny!!!!

  4. So I happen to know Ruslan from the Vorzel orphanage! so sometimes I peek on your blog to see how he is doing. I'm so glad to see that things seem to be looking up. I happen to have a fairly basic walker that I would be willing to give you. It is an older model that I got for $20. It doesn't have wheels and I'm not sure if you can add them or not. seems like Ruslan might need something a little more high tech than what I have, but if you want it, it's yours.

    kati from blacksburg

  5. forgot to mention that my hubbie is a mountain biker, so he follows biking news. I remember him telling me about a man from over seas killed while road biking. I'm guessing it was your friend. My heart breaks for her. I pray constantly when my husband is out riding.

  6. Connie, I love what you wrote about your dad. Go generic!! When are you going to start that blog? (You realize, of course, that blogs are free?)

    And, yes, the bike is all carbon. I don't say anything though, figuring this is cheaper than the "boat" phase Bill was threatening a few years ago.

  7. Kati, Thanks for the offer of the walker. Ruslan actually needs one with wheels in front, so I don't think the one you have will work. Besides, I have to spend all our money before my husband spends it on bike accessories. Did you know it is possible to buy a carbon water bottle holder for $60? The man must be stopped!!!

  8. Aww, very sweet and funny! Thanks for sharing your family with us.