Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why I Hate Insurance Companies

It's been a while since I've posting anything, and honestly it's because I've just been too angry. Too angry to just settle down and coherently write anything down. I lie in bed at night with conversations running though my head. I make up comebacks and zingers in case I should ever speak to one of the mentally incompetent people that work for our insurance company ever again. The reason for my anger? For starters, it has been over eight months since our moving trailer, which contained the majority of our household items, was stolen and we have not seen a cent from our insurance company. To make matters worse, our claims adjuster (I call her "that placenta woman" since her last name is very much like the word placenta) is a total moron. And in all this time, she has done all of nothing to settle our claim. Nothing, except to turn our claim over to the insurance companies lawyer for questioning. Yes, we were robbed and we are the one being treated like criminals. She ignores our e-mails and phone messages, and we have to tell her the same things over and over again, because apparently her skull is as thick as a brick wall. Her supervisor also ignores our calls, and the only reason he finally returned one of our calls was because I called the office and asked to speak to a manager. When the receptionist told me I could get the claim adjuster's supervisors number off her voice mail message, and I explained that we had already left four unreturned messages for him, she said "oh . . . yea let me find out who you need to speak to and I'll call you back". Well, the receptionist never called me back, and the manager never called me back, but suddenly the supervisor was calling Vince on his cell phone. The next thing we know we're getting a call from a pompous, self-important "Special Investigator" here in the Dallas area. He informed Vince that "you will come down to be questioned and you will answer those questions separately". That didn't go over too well with Vince to say the least. But I figured, hey, if they want me to come down to their lovely offices with my four loud and rowdy kids to question me for a couple of hours, then let them try. I hope they have a large supply of Excedrine in that office, because I will be giving my kids a short vacation from all sorts of behavior expectations and discipline. Of course "pompous and self-important" could not be bothered to call me back to confirm our meeting, so when I called I was told that he was a very busy man and hadn't had time to get around to booking the conference room yet. He'd let me know. He never did. Vince had to contact him to find out that our claim has been sent over to the companies lawyer, who will contact us to set up a meeting time. But the lawyer just had open heart surgery, so we're not sure when he'll be feeling up to taking statements just yet. And the thing is that we're not dealing with some rinky-dink fly-by-night no-name insurance company here. We're dealing with AAA. I've filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and have the forms to file complaints with the Texas and California Insurance Commissioners but I'm hoping Vince will just take care of those because I'm just to burnt to fight anymore. So lately I've been living on the edge. Unfairly short tempered with my kids, and unable to sleep at night. So today I went to the doctor and he gave me some Rozerem to try. Hopefully my bed-time conversations will cease, and I'll be able to get some rest. The good part is that I've been too upset to eat and have lost a good five pounds. Always a silver lining, right?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Let Me Just Clarify A Few Things

So according to my last post, you must all think I just abhor being at home with my kids. And yes, I won't deny that somethings I have only one nerve left and they can twang it like a banjo string, but that doesn't change the fact that I wouldn't have it any other way.

First, I actually do enjoy being at home with my kids. I enjoy running errands with them, reading to them, watching movies with them. Having the older ones help me in the kitchen to prep dinner. And usually it's quicker without their "help", but it's quality time. Annamaria always bustles over and "helps" me put away the dishes from the dishwasher every morning. And really, who else could put up with Harrison all day, every day? I don't get extended periods of "me time", but I get a little here and there. A couple hours when Vince is out and kids are asleep in bed. A "Girls Night Out" with some friends. And I've been lucky enough for a weekend or two in Vegas with my mom, which I always thoroughly enjoy. But I don't have a need to escape or "get away" from my kids.

Second, I'm grateful to not have to pack my kids off to daycare every day. I'm proud that none of my kids have had to endure daycare for even one day. And I know there are some good ones out there, but I'm just not that trusting when it comes to my kids. Fifty to sixty hours a week is just too much time to be in someone else's care. And if I did work (outside the home, because let's face it, this is no vacation), I'd just have to turn around and hand over my paycheck to the daycare providers anyway. What's the point? And my kids hardly ever get sick. They're not bringing home every little germ and sniffle to pass on and spread around. The incidence of sickness greatly increased in our house when Sophia started attending school at St. Mary's.

Third, I'm very very grateful that I don't have to schlep off to some office or lab everyday, deal with traffic, a hellish commute, and spend the majority of my day with a bunch of people I would really rather not associate with if given the choice. I can watch "The Office" and laugh, because I don't have to live it anymore. I don't have to play office politics, or deal with the socially inept. All of their insecurities, power trips, and arrogance. Not that I'm excluding myself from those attributes, but now no one has to put up with mine either. Except my kids. And if I worked (outside the home) all day, I'd have to come home and fix dinner, do laundry, and clean the house anyway. Honestly, I don't know how all those working moms get it all done.

Fourth, I enjoying home schooling Sophia. And I plan to continue to do so until it's not working. For either her or me. I do not have set plans for how long that may be. We'll play it by ear. But for now, it's working out great. I do want her to have the experience of attending school, especially the High School years can be so much fun. But for now, she's just too impressionable, and has this need to be accepted. Unfortunately she doesn't always pick the nicest girls that she wants that acceptance from. I'm sure when she's a little older, and has a better sense of herself she'll have a more discriminating palate when it comes to choosing her friends. At least I hope she will. I would like to avoid the public school system in at least the elementary level, if not in Junior High too. We'll see where we are when it's time for High School to make that decision. And as far as private school goes, it's a mixed bag. She had the best teacher/experience ever in kindergarten, but 1st grade was a complete waste. And $500 a month is just too much money to be wasting with sub par teachers and standards that are not kept. We're friends with a few couples out here who send their kids to the Catholic school, and to be honest, I'm not all that impressed with their kids behavior either. I can home school for $500 for the entire year, versus $500 a month. And the next time someone makes derogatory remarks about home schooling, I have just the piece of paper to wave under their nose. Sophia got her California Achievement Test results back, and she kicked ass! My child scored in the 99Th percentile. She rocked with a 100%. 220 questions, all answered correctly. 220 baby! And this was not some subjective score that I assigned her based on what I observed. This was a standardized, #2 pencil, fill in the bubble test that was submitted for scoring. And her final report card for the year contained one B+ in a sea of A's and A+'s. And that one B+ was in Handwriting, a grade that I assigned her. ( I just thought she could do better if she would not be so lazy. Hey, I'm a tough teacher, I have high standards.) So music, PE, and handwriting grades were assigned by me. Every other grade was based on class work, and quarter tests that were submitted for scoring. She earned her grades based on her own hard work and effort. And I think that CAT score stands on it's own. The proof is in the pudding. (Can you tell those disparaging remarks really frosted my muffins?)

So yes, there are sacrifices. And it's not all wine and roses. We don't have an unending working budget, and we don't take fancy vacations to far off and exotic locations, but we're happy. We're well fed, clothed, have access to much entertainment, and a roof over our heads. So the next time I'm griping, it's just that. I'm just griping. And since I'm at home all day, and don't have to worry about that drive home, I can always start drinking early in the day if I feel the need. It's always happy hour somewhere, right? Just kidding! I usually wait until at least 3pm. Ha ha, just kidding again. Sea breeze anyone?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

This Sucks Much More Than I Remembered

O-kay, so this stay-at-home mom thing is not what I remembered. Maybe it's because it's been a year and a half since I've been home alone with the kids. Maybe it's that I was also catering, so I had much more to do to fill my days. Maybe it's that I now have four kids, versus just the three a year and a half ago. Maybe it's because we're in a new area and I know all of five people in a thirty mile radius. Four of which are currently in California on vacation. Bastards. Maybe it's a combination of any of the above factors. I'm not sure, but one thing I am sure of is that I'm bored.
Vince's first day back at work, I tackled the house like some kind of clean freak. Which anyone who knows me, knows I'm not. But I can only clean the house so much. And it all seems kind of pointless, this endless tidying, because within ten minutes the kids have messed it up again anyway.
It hot here. And yes, it was hot in California too, but it's also humid. Yucky humid. Like, can't even last ten minutes outside kind of humid. So I really don't blame the kids for not wanting to go outside to play. We have a pool. But 1 me + 4 kids does not = pool safety. They're just too young to handle all four by myself at a pool.
I've set some ground rules: no breakfast by 9am means no breakfast. Eat lunch when it's offered, because if you don't you'll have to wait for dinner. No excessive TV. Quiet time during the babies naps. And so far, they've all been fairly compliant. I think I sound like a nazi though. I mean, where's the fun? It is summer afterall. I bought Sophia, Harrison and Annamaria each a new box of crayons, a fresh pad of drawing paper, and Sophia and Harrison got watercolor paint sets too. Something for them to do during the imposed "quiet time". We have legos, duplos, barbies, puzzles, little people, train sets and numerous other toys. But I think the most fun they have is just making a great big mess of the playroom upstairs. And even though I am constantly suggesting that once they're done with one thing, they put it away before dragging out something else, the suggestion just doesn't seem to catch on. I can't blame them. I remember my mom complaining about not being able to see my floor in my room when I was a kid, so why would I expect anything better? It's grandparents revenge I'm sure. I do make everyone get dressed and fix their bed every morning though. Gasp! My mom must think she's reading the wrong blog right now. And their rooms actually are quite tidy. Vince enforces the cleaning up of the play room each night before bed, so from 8pm until 8am that room is pretty cleaned up too. Oh, so where was I? Oh yea, I'm bored. If blogging about how I make my kids pick their crap up is the most interesting thing I can come up with, I must be really be desperate for some input here.