Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tips from Dave Ramsey on saving money for your upcoming wedding

In a recent article from Dave Ramsey, he lists a variety of creative ways to save money on your upcoming wedding.

According to the top wedding sites, the average wedding can cost between $20,000-$30,000.  And that's from a one-day shindig.  Recent college graduates, who went through the whole student loan route, have roughly this amount after four years.

From the venue to the honeymoon, Ramsey lays out tips to save money on your special day.  Check out the article here.

Along with the article, I also have my ebook Debt Free I Do: 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget where I lay out more tips.

Here's a link for my site, where you can pick up the ebook from your favorite e-retailer.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Tales of a diabetic father: be overly prepared when traveling

During the Christmas break 2013, my family and in-laws took a long vacation to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

And with two diabetic kids to pack for, this was quite a feat.

I will expand on this in the near-future, but there is one thing I must advise right now: over-prepare when packing supplies for diabetics.  I can't stress this enough.  Whatever you think you need, pack a little more.

Both of my diabetes kids have Medtronic insulin pumps, and the various pieces of equipment needed is mind-boggling.  I thought I had packed enough reservoirs for the trip--a little tube to hold insulin inside the pump.  But, on our first day out, my son's needed changing because he ran out.  Now, luckily, I packed two full bottles of insulin, but I stupidly only packed two reservoirs.  I thought I had packed more.

Needless to say, I was able to reuse the reservoirs by utilizing the detachable pieces that go onto them, but that doesn't excuse the fact that I should've been more prepared.  We have another big trip around mid-February and I will make a note to bring with several extra.

A rule of thumb I now use is this: whatever I think I need, either double the amount or at least increase by fifty-percent.  If you think one full bottle of insulin is enough, add another one just to be safe.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tales of a diabetic father: the importance of having extra supplies

Quite a number of years ago, we've helped another diabetic family--whom we didn't know at the time--because they were in a crisis.

Long story short, their son's insulin pump broke and Medtronics was overnighting a pump to them.  In the meantime, they had to inject insulin the old-fashioned way (at least for us who happen to rely on pumps to do everything): with a syringe.  They were also out of town, far from home, and didn't know anyone nearby to help out.

Luckily, the EMT worker who assisted them was a friend of ours and called us up.  We had extra supplies we were able to provide for them, to get them through their crisis.

As a father who deals with diabetic children all the time, the amount of supplies we have on hand can be daunting.  There are times when you wonder why in the world you even have it all.  Once again, the events this past Saturday proved why we do.

We were able to pay it forward.

Because so many people have helped us out in a pinch along the way.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tales of a diabetic father: dealing with rebellion

Rebellion for a young diabetic all comes down to control.  They want some.  Especially in a world where they seem to have none.

They're being controlled in what they eat, what they can do, what they can drink.  Virtually their entire life is turned upside-down due to this disorder.

So they rebel.

Food seems to be the one area where young diabetics rebel first.  This can either be two-fold: they refuse to eat or they sneak/horde food.  Both can be dealt with easily enough, but you need patience.  Remember, we're talking about control here.  If the diabetic perceives they're more in control, the less apt they are to rebel.

Refusing to eat can be dealt with simply making something they like.  You need to be reasonable, of course.  You just can't let them eat chocolate cake all they want.  Our oldest son has never liked mashed potatoes.  So, whenever mashed potatoes are on the menu, we make him a baked potato--which he likes.  Go figure.

Sneaking and hording food is a bit more difficult, as you have to be constantly vigilant.  As our son's dietician said to us, "Feed him until he's full."  So, we feed him until he's full.  Then, when we catch him not sneaking food, we praise him.  We remind him if he does.  It's difficult not to get angry, especially when you're on a strict budget.  Ask your dietician for ideas on how to make your little one more full.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tales of a diabetic father: the dangers of complacency in diabetes (and what we can learn from a Matthew Broderick movie)

A number of years ago, our family had a major medical emergency: we lost our daughter's insulin pump somewhere between our local pool, my sister-in-law's van, and our house.  Needless to say, we were in a panic.

I'll spare the details of the ordeal, but rest assured we found the pump by our front door--amidst a pile of shoes in the corner--the next morning.  For a good 12+ hours, we had to rely on insulin pens (which my daughter hated!) to deliver insulin and kept an all-night vigil every 2-3 hours.

We became a victim of complacency.  And for diabetics, this is a very bad place to be.  Instead of constantly wanting to know where the pump was and making sure she wears it at all times, we fell into a mode that could've turned out dangerous.

Raising diabetic children requires us parents to have a constant vigil.  I'm reminded of the Matthew Broderick movie from 1983 called War Games.In particular, the DEFCON mode of the country, with DEFCON 5 being completely safe and DEFCON 1 being World War III.  Dealing with diabetes requires parents to be constantly in that DEFCON 2 or 3 mode, and ready to move to 1 at a moment's notice.

Even though emergencies may be far and few between, they can happen.  And many of those times can be preventable, as we become victims of complacency.

Tales of a diabetic father: packing extra for trips

Three years ago, over the Fourth of July, I took my wife and our oldest son to Rochester, MN, as my wife had an appointment at the Mayo Clinic.

Our son has type 1 diabetes.  He is on a Medtronic pump, and has been for over ten years.  And there is one thing about pump-users: there is a lot of equipment to bring.  Even for an overnight trip, like this one was, we still had to bring an extra reservoir full of insulin and 2-3 infusion sets, just in case.

Because you never know when things go wrong.  Even if you're not a pump-user, things can still go wrong.  Sometimes we over-prepare for trips, and feel stupid for doing so, but when the crap hits the fan we're glad for the extra supplies.

I checked our son's insulin level on the reservoir before leaving.  It was half-full, which should've been more than enough for the trip.  It wasn't.  As we left Rochester Friday, our son said, "Ah, Dad, I only have 3 hours left on the pump."

This was three hours with no bolus activity.  Not good.  Especially for a 7-8 hours trip.

Needless to say, we're glad we had the extra reservoir of insulin packed.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tales of a diabetic father: a math lesson for the younger diabetic children

When our youngest daughter was in the first grade, she was having troubles with math.  She wasn't failing.  Lord, no.  But she was having a little troubles with addition and subtraction.

Then, I decided to make a game out of her blood sugar checks.

Let's say we check her blood and her reading is: 145.  I then ask her, "Okay, what's 1 plus 4 plus 5?"

She'll think and think . . . then say, "Ten!"

Yes!  She is so proud of herself.

Now, so many months later, we still do it.  It's a little game we play, which gets her to start thinking of addition in her head.  There are times when she counts on her fingers.  No problem.  At least she's thinking about it.

And loves it!

Here's the cool part: it even gets her to remember what her blood sugar is afterwards too, later in the day.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Tales of a diabetic father: the dangers of sugar tabs

A few years ago, someone we know had a devastating experience.  They had a counselor come into their home to help with their young child, as they thought the child may have a learning disability.  In the counseling period, the counselor noticed some of the supplies for their older diabetic child was in easy reach of the younger child.

The counselor--although I'm sure who meant well, even though they were ignorant of the situation and could've been explained it with a simple conversation with the parents--contacted social services as she felt it posed a threat to the younger child.  Social services, in turn, immediately stormed the family's home as if they were a S.W.A.T. team.

The supplies in question were sugar tabs.

In other words, in the hands of someone who is not diabetic, candy.  Honestly, I've never tasted them but my children who are diabetic say it tastes like candy.  Sugar tabs are used when diabetics have low blood glucose levels.

Do you need to be put them up and lock them away as if they were syringes or "finger poker" needles?  No, that's absurd.  When you need them the most is during low blood sugar times, which are stressful enough without having to question the location of these little buggers.  I can see if it's a very young child and they're afraid of swallowing them.  Yes, they could pose a danger then.

But the child in question was not.

Keep in mind the ignorance of others who do not have to deal with diabetes on a daily basis.  Don't yell at them or put them down.  They simply do not know.

Educate them.  Repeatedly, if you have to.

Because ignorance is rampant when it comes to diabetes.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tales of a diabetic father: the importance of camps, for both the children and the parents

For several years, our seventeen-year-old son has attended Camp Sioux--an American Diabetes Association sponsored camp just west of Park River, North Dakota.  Our eight-year-old daughter went for the first time last year for the entire week.  Prior to this, she has gone to their day camps, which have been typically on Tuesdays.

The day camps for the younger children are more personable for the parents, as we spend the entire day at the camp.  The last time I went, two other families were in attendance, and I was struck by the notion that we've been battling type 1 diabetes with our children for a long time.  My son was diagnosed in August 2001 (one month before the dreaded 9/11) and my daughter in November 2009.

Yes, a long time.

I was also struck by the notion that children with diabetes are alone in their battle.  Typically, unless they live in a larger city, they may be the only one in school who has it.  Hence the reason why diabetes camps, like Camp Sioux or Camp Needlepoint near the Twin Cities, is very important.  The children not only bond with other diabetes children, they learn to be more independent in their diabetes care.

The two families I met both had children who were just recently diagnosed.  They held some of the same fears as my wife and I had in the beginning--not that we still don't have fears, because the minute we let our guard down, life throws us a curve ball.  As you can see, the camp is important for the parents too.  I only wish there was more of a bonding time with the other parents who dropped their children off.

I'm sure they all have lessons to teach as well.