Thursday, August 13, 2015

When It Rains... Celebrate: A #WholeMama Post


I'm having a hard time with this week's #WholeMama theme.

It's "celebrate", and with the week I've had, I'm running into some difficulties coming up with all that much to celebrate.

Basically, it goes like this:

Last week, a tree fell on my car. It was a pretty memorable event. Everything started off completely normal - we had it towed, our insurance agent got on the phone with the adjuster, the rental was set up almost instantly, everything seemed to be going swimmingly. We didn't receive a call from the adjuster when we'd been told we would, but they're busy people, so no big deal.

I want to reiterate here that our actual State Farm agent has been amazing - he's advocated for us, called the adjuster on our behalf. Kim, who works in our agent's office, has gone out of her way and bent over backwards to help us in any way she can. Until this, I had had nothing but positive experiences dealing with State Farm for automotive, renter's, and homeowner's insurance. I grew up essentially in the shadow of their corporate headquarters. My brother worked there. My parents have used them for years.

I never expected to be treated like this.

On Monday, the State Farm insurance adjuster calls me and, speaking at lightning-speed in the deepest, hardest-to-hear mumble you can imagine, starts listing off numbers and times and dates and things. He rarely paused or seemed to even need to take a breath. I wrote it all down, asked him to clarify or repeat himself, and said "okay" a lot. He apparently took this to mean I consented to everything he said - including offering us a "payment" of the piddliest, tiniest little amount after paying off what he stated was the value of our car. None of it sounded right, so I made sure he said I could call back with any follow-up questions, and took the numbers to Jason.

Jason pointed out that the number he had given us in no way matched the actual value of our actual car.

Then, the war began.

We have spent every single day since fighting to get the adjuster to acknowledge how much our car is actually worth. Half the time, we're fighting just to get him to answer his phone. Every time we overcome an obstacle he's given us, he makes up new ones to put off getting us the money we deserve. He's taken to heavy sighs and even once essentially threatened us financially by telling Jason on the phone that if we kept up refusing to just take the tiny payout, "the mechanic is going to start charging you 40 dollars a day in storage fees."

Jason replied, "Then I guess you'd better solve this problem pretty quickly."

I decided to call the mechanic himself, by the way - and was informed that they had no idea what the adjuster was talking about. There was no intention of charging us storage fees, especially once I told him what was going on with the adjuster trying to underpay us, and he hoped that this all worked out for me and wished us the best, just keep him updated. Because mechanics are not the monsters adjusters want you to think they are.

The adjuster told us we needed to provide him with a list of at least five comps proving our value numbers, and it "couldn't be done by email". So Jason went to our agent's office and uploaded fifteen links to comparative cars directly into the system for him. At that point, the adjuster decided that wouldn't work, they had to be printed out into a certain format and then faxed. So Jason went to the library, printed out the comp links, drove back to the agent's office and then faxed them in. At 12:30. The adjuster, on the phone with him at the time, sighed heavily and said if they made it over by one, he might be able to maybe take a look at them, then hung up the phone.

Obviously, he did not call us back before he left his office at 3:30.

We've called twice today and are still waiting for any response whatsoever.

(Strike that - we have now called three times with no response.)

Basically, we have spent a week dealing with an adjuster who is clearly trying to make this so difficult for us to do around work schedules that we would just give up and accept nearly two thousand dollars less than we deserve for the value of this car. What he does not seem to understand is that Jason doesn't have a job right now, is tenacious and stubborn and doesn't have much else in the way of plans this week, thanks buddy now write us a check for what you actually should, please.

We got the time to go head-to-head with you. We got all the time. 

Then, my health insurance decided to join the pile-on.

When Jason lost his job, we qualified for the tax credit for the first time. We hoped to only need it for a couple of months (we are still hoping for that), so I went and applied for it online. Somehow, the act of doing this completely upset my health insurance company, between them and the exchange they sent me the wrong effective-as-of date, suddenly declared us no longer insured, and sent me a letter telling me as much. Upon receiving a thoroughly nonsensical letter telling me my policy was canceled, I gave them a call. I have now spoken to either health insurance or the exchange people five times in four days trying to figure it out.

They admitted the problem was their fault, but kept saying they couldn't fix it. No fix, no way to fix it, none whatsoever. Finally, yesterday they claimed they had a solution...  my insurance would be fixed! Hurray!

But wait, it would only kick back in starting September 1st.

Leaving myself and my child essentially uninsured for nearly half a month.

Now, I'm not that worried about me; I went without health insurance for years. But for Audra? That's not acceptable.

I spoke to the poor frazzled call center operator for the exchange for quite some time, up to and including responding to her claims that there was no supervisor on hand to talk to and no solution to my problem by asking her why exactly she felt it necessary for my one year old to go without medical care for over fifteen days. (This would be the point when suddenly she "had to step away" and I could actually hear her talking with the supervisor who, five minutes beforehand, supposedly did not exist.)

I've been assured that they should be able to make it retroactive, maybe, possibly, if they decide that's okay... but I won't know for sure on that for at least thirty days. So I and my daughter just get to be without insurance for about half a month while our insurance company and the exchange try to decide whether or not they feel like actually fixing their mistake.

But I can rest assured that if they decide to retroactively fix it, any bills we accrue for doctor visits or emergencies will be covered. Retroactively. If they decide they feel like it.

So, basically, we have been told by our car insurance company that despite being loyal paying customers to them since I was a very young child at the least (my parents use them for car insurance, too) and despite paying to them for years on our own for auto, renter's, and homeowner's insurance... despite the fact that we have almost never used them, I have never previously been in an accident, Jason's only been in fender-benders while we've been with them, we've never asked for much of anything beyond paying for a tow... despite the fact that we are, essentially, their ideal customers... they have no intention of treating us with the fairness, respect, and quick action that we deserve.

Then my health insurance company decided that I wasn't stressed out enough this week, and told me I just randomly don't have health insurance any longer, and neither does my daughter. Only, whoops! It's their fault! And they totally admit to that! Only they can't fix it. Except that they can! But not until September 1st! Except that maybe they can fix it for August, but I won't know until nearly October whether or not they would cover literally anything that happens to us in the interim! Wheeeeeeeee!

This is on top of Jason losing his job in early July the day after we returned from a harried, frantic, stressful trip to see my family that was only harried, frantic, and stressful due to us having to cut it so short so that Jason wouldn't inconvenience his workplace. Then, the Best Road Trip Ever. Then a tree fell on my car. Now Jason and I are in the midst of a war with car insurance and I've been royally screwed over by our health insurance.

On top of all that, Jason's still waiting to hear from unemployment, who is taking their sweet time deciding on much of anything at all and not calling us back when we try to get in touch with them.

We've had a great two months, guys.

You can see where I'm having some trouble finding some things to celebrate.


here's the other half of what happened in the last two months:

Because my job allows for good flexibility and work-life balance and Jason is no longer working a service-industry job that believes "personal life" is a silly joke we tell each other after his fifty-hour workweek finally ends, we were able to take a long weekend to stay with his family at their beachside condo on the coast. Three full days of waking up next to the ocean. Three full days of playing in the surf, of salt in my hair and getting sand all over everything. An anniversary dinner right on the MarshWalk, watching the sun go down and clouds roll in and the best sushi we've had in years at Wahoo's. Three full nights of falling asleep with Audra's breathing coming from her Pack n Play in the corner.

Audra's been going through what I believe is the early stages of The Arrival of the Molars, which makes for sleepless nights and fussy days. Jason's been able to stay home with her, allowing me to miss less work than I would have otherwise.

Our neighbor came over and helped us move the pieces of tree from the driveway to to the side of the road, cutting the time it would have taken us by more than a third and ensuring that we got back inside just as it got dark. He did this simply because he could, and he wanted to help.

Audra's beginning to work at mimicking the exact motions we make when we speak. Her repertoire has expanded to include blowing kisses at will, giving me and Jason (horrible, wet, drooly) kisses, hugs, and trying to repeat when we say "uh oh!" to her. She has just begun pulling herself all the way to her feet occasionally. She tells us long and convoluted stories about whatever she is doing - we just don't know how to understand her, yet. I watch her learn every single day.

She has developed the ability to create attachments to inanimate objects - RiffRaff being her favorite, but she received a new dinosaur from us for her birthday and a bright pink stuffed horsie from our friend Sara Beth that she is rapidly becoming friends with, too. (We just named it Horsie. We're super creative people.)

My family drove into town for Audra's birthday party, and arrived Friday night. There had been some uncertainty about them being able to come, since my mom's last round of chemo was finishing up just before the planned trip. She felt well enough to come, so my sister did most of the driving and brought my niece, too! Saturday morning, Jason and I went to greet them at the hotel... only to discover that my dad was also here! I had thought he had to stay behind, and so it was definitely a great way to start off my day. I had my sister, my parents, and my niece for two full days, and was able to hang out with them and enjoy the time spent together. Now I have to grit my teeth and wait for Thanksgiving.

(Just like three months to go...)

Audra was sick and fussy, but rallied spectacularly for her party, despite the thirty-some people milling around waiting to see her when she finally woke up.

Her great-aunt, great-uncle, and their twin girls were able to come into town and attend. The twins love Audra, and it's great to see them interact.

So many people like me, Jason, and our baby that much to attend a birthday party where the birthday girl cries at her smash cake and can't even tell them thank you out loud yet or visibly enjoy her gifts all that much.

When Jason lost his job, I was able to sit down with him and say, "Okay, I think we can live on my salary until unemployment starts coming or you get a new job." A year ago, we would have been staring true disaster in the face.

My in-laws and Audra are incredibly close - she will hold her arms up for them to take her the same way she does to us. They give us the occasional night to ourselves to regroup and recharge and just be adults for ten minutes.

I have friends who are willing to take my dog at fairly short notice and wonderful enough to keep him for a little extra time if we end up running late getting home from a trip.

My dog loves my child, and goes right to her to try and lick her face when she's on the floor.

My family is wonderful. Jason's family is wonderful. My friends are wonderful. My mother's health is good, after last year's pretty exciting cancer adventure. Jason and I are (generally) healthy. We managed to keep a baby alive for a whole year without losing our minds. We get away with wearing pajama pants for hours at a time way more often than you think.

This is what I have to celebrate.

Family, friends, life, love. That is where my celebration is. Even if it seems like life can't seem to stop piling things on us, we have the support and the love we need to just keep swimming.

When it rains, it pours, they say.

I feel like everything going wrong has been the clouds rolling in, nothing but thunder and the promise of a violent storm, nothing but the idea of a storm and unending dry air. Every time I get to where I just want to lay down and take a three-month nap, my family comes into town, my friend offers me coffee and bookstore time to get away from life, my family (both mine and Jason's) help me pull off the biggest party I have ever thrown in my entire life, or Jason and I sit down to play with Audra and spend a solid hour laughing so hard our sides hurt while she learns from us what it means to be human.

That is the rain.

I'm a farmer's daughter.

When it rains in the middle of a hard, dry season, a farmer celebrates.

(Then they complain that it's raining too much.)

Whole Mama

Today's post is my fifth while participating in the #WholeMama linkup. You can find the linkup for this week's theme, "Celebrate", here on Esther Emery's blog. More information on what #WholeMama is all about can be found here. My other posts as part of the linkup or just inspired by the theme are Parenting is SillyAnything But OrdinarySpacePrayer, and A Supermom is a Sleep-Deprived Mom.


  1.! That just made my head spin. I think I have anxiety for you. You and yours will definitely be in my thoughts. My friend had a whole mess of a time with her car and her insurance company too last year. She hit a BEAR--I repeat--A BEAR, which totaled her car. It rained before the guy got there and there wasn't much evidence of blood on the front of the car so he actually asked her if she had just seen the bear on the side of the road and "pretended" that she hit it, even after a police report and everything being filed. There is crazy stuff that happens, let me tell you...

    1. My head is spinning, too - although at least the whole saga is FINALLY, FINALLY almost over.

      Wait. If she hit a bear, that totaled her car... how in God's name could he say she "thought" she saw a bear? It'd be pretty obvious that she hit SOMETHING that weighs 800 pounds at least...

  2. Amazing how your wrapped all of that powerful story up with those simple but amazing last four lines. I'm praying things get worked out soon!

    1. I am, too. It's about time for our fortune to turn towards the positive, I think!

      I'm going to see a new bookstore on its grand opening weekend on Sunday, so I'm kind of clinging to that. Nothing calms my stress better than books.

  3. Oh my! What a horrible time you have had with insurance woes! I'm glad you are able to still find things to celebrate and that you do have such a supportive family. It makes so much difference. Blessings to you and I hope everything gets sorted out soon and you get what your car is worth.

    1. It's worth the fight to get what you are owed, but it definitely doesn't exactly make you feel like a better person. But man, never go to war with an unemployed man when 2k is on the line - Jason is a hell of a fighter!


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