Thursday, November 8, 2012

I am going to be making some changes to Frugal Midwest Mom.  The site and name will remain the same, but what I write about is going to be a little different.

Since being diagnosed with cancer in the Spring, my priorities have made a major shift.  My goal was always to save as much money as possible.  While that goal is still important to me, I realize that my goal is not always in the best interest of my family, community and myself.  A cancer diagnosis is a life changing event.  I have spent the last 6 months reading everything I can get my hands on in regards to cancer prevention, holistic healthcare, exercise, stress reduction, etc......

Frugal Midwest Mom is going to now focus on the things I am doing to improve my health and well being.  This will include organic foods, recipes, stress reduction, sustainable living, local shopping and anything and everything that I can do to make my life that much healthier and happier.  We only get one chance to do things right.  I had a wake up call that I plan on taking very seriously.

I am willing, ready and able to take any advice from readers regarding health.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Boy has it been hot around here!  I am so excited for that first crisp fall morning.  It will be a welcome change from the oppressive heat that has been everywhere.  Of course, with the heat, came the need to use the air conditioning even more.  This month, our energy bill went up $100!  I wasn't expecting that kind of increase.  We also have to pay school registration fees for 3 kids, one who is starting high school.  My son is also having braces put on next week.  Ughh!  I guess I better start saving even more.

This week I saved quite a bit.  Here is a list of the things I did this week help us out.

1.  We had a $57 Costco rebate.  I used it without spending much over the $57 and chose to wait until we need to go to Costco again to renew the membership.

2.  My youngest is in a reading program at Barnes and Noble.  Read 8 books, get a free book.  Today we were able to pick out a book for her to enjoy.

3.  On a very hot and boring day, my youngest and I took in a movie.  We used 2 more vouchers, while it was not free, it felt like it.

4.  My husband's birthday was last night.  Usually we go out for dinner, always spending so much more than we plan on.  This year he chose to stay home instead, grill a tenderloin along with CSA vegetables.  We had smores for dessert and enjoyed some family time.  We saved on bundle by having drinks at home instead of the drinks we would have bought at a restaurant.

5.  There are 2 things I love, Autumn and the Autumn scented candles that make the season even better.  I had a $10 off coupon for Yankee Candle.  I allowed myself the treat of an apple scented candle with my coupon and resisted the urge to buy all the REALLY cute Halloween decorations they have out.

6.  Clipped coupons and saved $15.00 with double coupons at the grocery store.

7.  Chopped and froze several green peppers for the fall and winter.  Looking forward to making some yummy chili.

8.  The kids used the neighbors pool several days again this week to help cool off and entertain themselves.  I did buy them a gift card as a thank you for the limitless use of the pool.  A very small price to pay for the savings on gas and admission.

9.  We had several meatless meals.  Meatless Monday is starting to really take hold in this house.  My 14 year old son, who spends hours a day at soccer practice is starting to really resent meatless nights.  So, I may need to rethink it.  Some days he is spending 4-5 hours doing hardcore training, he needs the protein.

10.  Took advantage of several buy one get one free sales.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


To begin, the RAI worked.  I knew that awhile ago, but have not been blogging.  Thyroid cancer has a 30% recurrence rate, so every year will be a bit nerve wracking when I have mu body scan.  But, for the time being, I am in the clear.

This summer is quickly flying by!  We are doing next to nothing, but given the first 6 months of 2012, the next 6 months need be filled with nothing.

I am forever on my quest to save a few dollars.  Here is a list of the things we did this week to save, save, save...............

1.  Our grocery store has double coupon day on Saturdays, first 10 up to $1.00.  Today I saved $20.00 with coupons.  My best deal, a box of K-Cups on sale for $2.99, plus $2.00 off.

2.  Jimmy Johns had customer appreciation day on Thursday.  Subs were $1.00 each.  I took the kids out for lunch that day.

3. The dealership we bought our car from sponsors a local concert in the park series.  For the last concert, customers were invited to the FREE concert and we received dinner and drinks.  Entertainment and dinner all for free.

4.  In the past I would take the kids to the local pool and pay to get in.  For years I was reluctant to accept our neighbors invitation to let my kids swim in his pool anytime.  No more, this summer, the kids have gone swimming everyday for free.

5.  We joined a CSA at the beginning of the summer.  We are using everything this year, even the gigantic salad turnips that we all hate.  No waste this summer.

6.  I am filling up my car once a week, on Mondays only.  If I am running low, we stay home.

7.  As always, paid of the credit cards to avoid interest charges.

8.  Washed all laundry in cold water.

9.  Several months ago I bought a book of movie vouchers cheap.  I used one last weekend to see a movie, by myself.  The tickets were paid for months ago, so it felt like it was a free movie.

10.  This is a non essential expense, but I can't give up massages.  I have terrible sciatica, massages work better than pain killers.  I signed up for a monthly membership at Massage Envy.  $49 for a massage which is $50 less than I pay now.  Savings of $50/month.

I need to be better about charting our savings progress each week.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Today I take a pill that is meant to kill any remaining cancer cells in my body.  I am a bit nervous and very sad.  My children need to leave the house for a few days, as I will become radioactive.  This brings me to my point.  How is it safe for me to ingest a pill that has enough radiation in it that others can't be near me?  It seems crazy!  I am optimistic that everything will go as planned and that in a week, when I have a final body scan, any existing cancer cells will be gone.  So, here is to one more week of insanity.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Since getting sick 2 months ago, I have learned to rely on the kindness of my friends and family to help my family out.  I have been a bit remiss in getting proper thank you notes out in the mail, which I will.  But for now, I feel like everyone who has helped deserves a shout out from a very grateful family.

Thank you to the countless friends who have brought over meal after meal.  Some bringing multiple meals.  Being on the low iodine diet presents challenges to cooking, I have friends who embraced that challenge and brought delicious food we could all eat.  Thank you to the Lex, Sciortino, Christ, Magoon and Banda families!  Everything was so delicious and so appreciated.  A great big thank you to my mom who left us with her famous Potato Leek Soup (Maeghan's favorite). Thank you to my mother in law, Karen Schley for the Chicken Enchillada Casseroles that she know Eric loves.  Thank you to my sister in law Amy for knowing that the one thing in life that will always make Eric happy is knowing that the freezer has an adequate number of frozen pizzas.  You made his day Amy!

Thank you to the countless friends who have driven my kids to their never ending rotation of activities.  My son's soccer schedule alone is enough to make someone's head spin.  The Schneider Family proved to be a God send in the arena.  Thank you so much Patti for all the driving you have done for us.  Thank you Krista Nelson for always being able to drive Maeghan to every Girl Scout activity I was too tired to take her to.  Thank you Susan Campbell for saving the day on a huge assignment for Hannah!  She got an A on it by the way!

Thank you to all the friends who have stepped forward now to drive me around.  Yesterday's news that I am much further into hypothyroidism than they would prefer felt like a step back.  It takes everything I have to get out of bed and the muscle and joint pain is unbearable at this point.  Driving is no longer an option for me.  But, so many friends have already stepped forward to drive me around.  I have a body scan today that will detect cancer that got away.  My husband who has already missed so much work just couldn't swing it today, but my dear friend Amy was ready, willing and able to get the job done.  Thank you.

An early thank you to the Schneider and Christ families who will be taking care of my kids when I go into isolation next week.  It means the world to me that I know my kids will be having a great time with friends.  This is all hard enough without having to worry about that my kids are sad, scared and God forbid bored.  Thank you!

Thank you Palmer, Lex and Ullrich families for already stepping forward and taking Maeghan for play dates in a few weeks so that I can get through final recovery from my RAI.  It may not seem like much, but it really is to us.  To know that she has someplace to go everyday means that it is one less thing for me to worry about.

Thank you to my mother, Linda Bartlett, for taking a week out of her busy schedule to stay with us.  Make us meals, drive the kids around, take care of me and be the support we all needed when I got out of surgery.

Thank you to all my friends who have given me much need support.  A shoulder to cry on when I found out I was sick and someone to be grateful with when I realized that this IS curable.   I am so very lucky that I got a cancer that has a cure!  What a relief.  But with that, I still have days of fear and doubt.  Days when the treatment is still very hard to deal with.  Knowing that it could still come back will always be in the back of my mind.

Thank you to a never ending stream of friends who brought over lunches that we could enjoy together before this damn low iodine diet started!  Lisa Pochmara, the first meal I am getting when I have the go ahead to eat what I want is that Culvers Pub Burger and fries.  Eric is already on stand by.

Thank you Amy Bernstrom for taking over my business when you knew that I needed the time away to recover, I will forever be grateful.

Thank you to any friends or family that I did not mean to miss!  Your emails, cards, text messages, plants and phone calls have meant the world to me.

Finally, thank you to my very supportive and fantastic husband Eric.  It has been quite a year.  We thought that when I had a little gall bladder surgery that would be the end.  But, as life proves over and over again, there is always something else waiting.  I have been grateful for that gall bladder attack many times, as that is what  found this.  But, I digress.  Thank you Eric for being patient with me.  Being the full time parent for several weeks (excluding those couple weeks between surgery and being taken off my meds) to 3 great kids!  Thank you for missing more work than anyone should have to just to drive.  Thank you for continuing to coach your daughter's soccer team, help your son get through Algebra and continue to be Hannah's IT department.  But most importantly, on this day, thank you for baking me homemade bread that is low iodine.  That act alone, scores a lot of points for you:)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bucket List

I have been all gloom and doom lately.  So much so that I failed to mention that 2 short weeks ago I was able to mark something off of my ever expanding bucket list.  I saw Van Halen in concert with David Lee Roth.  That happened to be on my list for years, and I did it!

As we go into summer, I am going to sit down and do a real bucket list.  All those things that I want to do before I kick the bucket.  No, my cancer diagnosis is not the inspiration for this.  I have always had an informal, ongoing list of things that I want to do before I go.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I'm So Tired

In order for the RAI to really work I have to go into a state of hypothyroidism.  When I was given this news, I thought, oh well, so 4 weeks will be tired.  Small price to pay for a cure.  I take that back!  I am into week 2 of not having a thyroid while not taking any supplementation for that missing thyroid.  I am in hell!  I have never, not ever felt this way before. I am tired, but can't sleep at night.  My muscles ache, I am depressed, I am gaining weight, I am cold, I am pissed!

I am too tired to get out of bed to walk my daughter to the bus in the morning, finite days that she wants to be with me are slipping away.  I spent Memorial Day weekend in the a daze, trying to be normal for everyone's benefit because I feel guilty if I don't.  I lay in bed at night with my legs twitching because i suddenly have restless leg syndrome.  I wake up every hour, on the hour for some unknown reason.  I thought I was at least going to catch up on some sleep during this.  I am wallowing in self pity, which makes me angry at myself, because I am lucky to have a cancer with a cure.  I should be happy, but I am not happy.

I want my life back.  I want my thyroid back.  I want my job back.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Back to the Frugal Grindstone

Being out of work, all be it temporary, has brought my frugality back to the surface.  I will be honest, the last year of a second income was nice.  Really nice.  So nice, that I often sacrificed what I believed in, finding the best price, for convenience.  How easy it is to buy prechopped vegetables or eat lunch out more than I should.  But, until at least July, no paycheck for me.  With that, I am back to coupon clipping, receipt checking and buying on sale.  Here is a list of the things I did this week in an effort to be frugal.

1.  Used Justice coupons with 40% off to buy $80 worth of pajamas for $28.00.

2.  Took my girls out for ice cream, used a 50% of coupon

3.  Drove very, very little.  I haven't driving much at all in fact.  Hypothyroidism will do that to you.

4.  Made major changes to our auto insurance, saving us $173/6 months.

5.  Changed our gym membership from family to individual

6.  Will stay home tonight and watch a movie at home instead of going to the theatre.

7.  REALLY analyzed our energy bill and figured our where we need to cut back.

8.  Paid off the credit card ( I do that every month, but that counts)

9.  Order a free sample of K-cups for our coffee maker

10. Returned stuff to Bath and Body Works that I didn't need.

I figure this week I saved us $400.  Not too shabby.  What can I do next week?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Change Is In The Air

It was nearly a year ago that I left my full time job as a stay at home mom and ventured back into the work world.  I became an insurance agent for a well known company.  As it turned out, I am good at it.  I had a steady stream of customers, was making money and was proud of the fact that I did not seem to fall into the sleazy insurance agent stereotype.  I was happy.  Stressed out, but I was good at it.

Then April 11th happened.  It was on that day my life changed.  I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer.  As I have gotten used to my new title as Cancer patient, I have educated myself on my disease.  I am one lucky lady!  Thyroid cancer is curable.  For my age, I am reading that it has a 97% cure rate!  Some numbers I find say nearly 100%, when caught on time.  That is me!

That being said, being a cancer patient is not a walk in the park no matter what.  With the cure, that I am so grateful to have, I have to sacrifice a lot.  First, my thyroid was removed.  With this surgery, I am not only missing a vital gland, but I have a pretty nasty scar across my neck.  I noticed people staring at me at the grocery store the other day.  I was embarrassed that I have such an ugly mark on my neck.  I have never been vain, as my friends and family know.  But, this one might get to me more than I am ready to admit.

I have to go several weeks without a thyroid supplement,  going into hypothyroidism, which means I am going to get very tired.  I mean tired beyond belief.  This is done so that the next step in the cure has the best possible results.  My family is already prepared for a tired mom and wife.  I am going to try my best to on with business as usual, but I am prepared to take a nap or 2.

Next, I have to take Radioactive Iodine.  This is an amazing medical advance, not sure how long it has been used, but it works.  I am not going to get into the science of how this works, as will get it wrong.  For those interested, google it.  You will be amazed.  While this is a miracle cure, it requires I quarantine myself for at least a few days because I will literally become radioactive.  My kids need to stay away from me, which makes me sad.  But, I do not have a choice and I accept that.

Finally, I will have to be a thyroid medication for my entire life.  A small price to pay to be cured.  In fact, I will never complain about that little pill I will need to take forever.

What I have failed to mention up to this point is that with this diagnosis, came the end of my job as an independent insurance agent.  When I signed on a year ago, I signed a contract with quotas that I need to meet.  Having cancer makes it very hard to make those quotas.  So, yesterday I agreed to give up my status as an independent and I am now working for another agent.  It was the only choice I had to save what I have built.  I feel a sense of relief that when I am ready to return, I can still be an agent to the customer base I have built.  But, at the same time I feel sad that everything I built is going to the book of business of another agent.  It all seems so petty, but it matters to me.

However, last night was the first night in a year that I did not think about quotas, because with this change, I no longer have quotas.  I sell what I can without having to worry constantly that I may not make my numbers.  I realize that I have my nights again, my summer is open, I can take a vacation, I can take a day off.  The agent I merged with is a good friend.  She keeps saying that we will be partners to the extent that her contract allows.

So, as I sit here tonight, knowing that summer is coming and that I will be spending in healing.  I am excited at the possibility of getting back to the role of stay at home mom for a few short months.  I can work full time again in the fall, when the kids return to school, knowing that I can be home when they get home.  Work will no longer take up so much of my time both mentally and physically.  Maybe this little diagnosis will force me to put family first and foremost again.  Maybe this will all work out for the best.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bad News

It is 1:00 in the morning and I find myself doing something I never do, sit in front of the computer in the middle of the night. Tonight, I got news that nobody ever wants to hear. Three simple words that will change your life and perspective "you have cancer". Wow! I really never thought that I would be that person. Cancer happens to everyone else, not me.

From what my doctor said, I have a treatable form. Thyroid cancer which is very treatable. My doctor seems to think that I will be treated and have a full recovery. This of course makes me feel better. But, it doesn't lessen the blow of "you have cancer". I am sitting here this evening, terrified that I might not fall in the majority on this one. That maybe mine won't be treatable.

I have been reading every site I can find tonight on this cancer. It is unanimous, it's treatable and I will in all likelihood be fine. I pray that is the case, that one little cell won't break free and go somewhere else in my body where it can multiply. I hope that I will have a simple surgery and the radioactive iodine I am reading so much about now and I will cured. That has to be the ending to this little hiccup in my story. I still have so much to do and so much to see.