Obamacare Revisited

I know I just updated recently but I have some things I really wanted to post about and I don’t feel like waiting!
Let’s start with the not-so-good parts, because while want people to see the enormous good in our Obamacare experience I lose credibility if I insist this new health care system is perfect.
I already told you that four out of seven of us were approved for subsidies and enrolled in a plan, while the other three were inexplicably deemed ineligible. And when I say inexplicable, I mean not only can I not understand it, neither can any of the Healthcare.gov customer service people I’ve spoken to. Anyway, I appealed this decision, through a formal process that involved submitting all sorts of paperwork. I think I had 30 days to do that, which means I probably did it in February some time. A couple of months ago I got a phone call about my appeal, and then last week I got a letter saying to expect a call at a certain date and time, and to be prepared with the information they wanted. Well, the day came and I waited and waited and they never called me. I called the next day and spoke to a very nice and very confused woman who finally figured out that they called Teddy instead of me even though it said RIGHT IN THE LETTER that they would be calling my number. So she fixed the number and said the next thing that will happen is that I will get a letter setting a formal telephone hearing. So we’ll see.
In the meantime, the Marketplace wrote me and they want MORE financial information, which is the second time since I applied that they’ve asked for more information, and I they want check stubs for everyone in the house who works, which is kind of difficult since two of us are self-employed. So there is no denying that it’s the government, and a bureaucracy, and that I (or you) could run it better. (Not that private insurance companies are any better, and that’s a moot point anyway for the many Americans who are uninsurable or can’t afford insurance–so you take the bad with the good.)
But on the bright side . . . Last week I went into the doctor’s office for a fasting blood draw, in preparation for yesterday’s checkup, which my doctor set for three months out from the last one. When I walked in she told me that basically I had reversed every single problem I arrived with. 🙂 She was so impressed that she gave me a hug! My blood pressure has gone down to borderline, my cholesterol is just two points shy of normal, my blood sugar dropped nine points, and my triglycerides dropped over 100 points. And . . . I’ve lost 27 pounds, without being on any official regimented diet, and WITHOUT BEING HUNGRY.
Now, some people might say that Obamacare doesn’t deserve the credit for this, but let me tell you a story. Six years ago I had my last checkup and got blood work done. At that time all of the above factors were close to what they are now, so above where they should be but not yet dangerously so. But because I did not have insurance, that one appointment was all I got. No one offered me any suggestions. They said, “We’ll keep an eye on it,” but how could they when I couldn’t afford regular checkups and blood work? This time, I’ve seen my doctor three times, the wellness nurse three times, and the nutritionist once. The nutritionist will continue to monitor me and do bloodwork every three months to track my progress. Moreover, they gave me the suggestions and the support I needed to succeed. This is what preventive medicine is all about. Without it, people bumble along and get fatter and sicker and end up in emergency rooms having heart attacks, or going on disability, costing ALL of us money (not to mention the cost in human misery, which is far more important to me). This kind of care makes sense and I am so grateful to be benefiting from it.

Me, Happy to Be Insured and Getting Healthy
Me, Happy to Be Insured and Getting Healthy

For more on our journey from being uninsured to becoming healthy, and on my views on Obamacare in general, see the links below.
The $64,000 Question, Answered
Who Are the Uninsured?
Uninsured No More
ObamaCare Update
ObamaCare Update 2
ObamaCare:  My Latest Update

Dust to Dust

I had to run an early-morning errand today, leaving the house while everyone was still sleeping.  On the way, I passed two graveyards I’ve often meant to explore.  With no plans scheduled until later in the day, and expecting that everyone would probably still be sleeping at home, I promised myself I would stop on the way back home.
Perhaps exploring graveyards early on a sunny Saturday morning isn’t your idea of a way to treat yourself, but it’s a favorite pastime of mine.  One of my earliest blog posts detailed my discovery of White Oak Flats Cemetery, hidden away behind the touristy main drag of Gatlinburg.   I’ve also briefly shared my visits to the final resting places of some of my ancestors.  There is an old cemetery in front of the church where Lorelei played Upward Basketball this winter, and the last morning we had a game I made sure to take a look at it.  My 14-year-old nephew, looking at the graves with me, said, “I don’t like cemeteries.  They remind me of my mortality.”  But I love them, and I tend to think more of immortality when I’m in one.
See, as long as your name remains visible on a stone, and as long as someone comes by to read the names, and wonder about the people who bore them, how they lived, why they died–you are still a part, albeit a small one, of the living world.  It’s important to me, that these dead people be remembered.  That the living remember where we come from. Maybe that’s also why I enjoy genealogy.
I don’t care so much about visiting the graves of loved ones I knew in life; I have other ways to remember them.  But visiting the gravesite of a long-dead relative is different, providing a tangible connection you did not have before.
But I digress.   None of my Tennessee ancestors settled in North West Knox County, so I did not expect to see any of them today.  I did hope, though, to come across a familiar name or two–people who once lived where now there are only roads bearing their names and making them still familiar to us.  My first stop was at Byington Cemetery, and rather obviously Byingtons are prominent residents therein.  But besides the cemetery, the Byingtons left their name on two nearby roads that I often travel:  Byington-Solway Road and Byington-Beaver Ridge Road.
Unlike the bucolic locations of the graveyards in Union County where so many of my ancestors are buried, the Byington Cemetery looks lucky to have escaped relocation, like many older cemeteries.  It’s at the corner of Oak Ridge Highway and Emory Road, at the Karns red light, and is surrounded by commercial development, unfenced, unmarked.
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My second stop was at the cemetery next to Ball Camp Pike Baptist Church, which is quite close to my house.  According to my son, this cemetery is frequently visited by ghost hunters and is reputed to be very haunted.  But I don’t believe in those kinds of ghosts.
The interesting thing about this graveyard is that it has been in used since 1820 and is still active today, with the most recent interment I found taking place in 2007.  However, despite its status as an active cemetery, it’s in a sorry state of repair.  Many gravestones were mostly unreadable, even ones that dated as late as the mid 1900s.  Several were knocked over and broken, even while others bore recently placed Christmas wreaths.
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Due to its status as a church cemetery, this was much larger, and has a fence around the front and barbed wire hidden in the woods on the non-church side.  It’s on an extremely steep hill, and surprisingly if you make it all the way up there you’ll find that people live up there, their homesites apparently only accessible via driveways at the back of the church lot.
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from the top of the hill to the bottom
from the top of the hill to the bottom

from the bottom to the top
from the bottom to the top

All other considerations aside, I like graveyards because they are beautiful and peaceful.  Usually it’s just me and the dead folk.  There’s a reverence in the air, and there’s nothing wrong with considering sometimes that we all came from the same place and are all going back there one day, but that whether, how, and for how long we are remembered will depend on what we do while we are here.
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2013 in 13 Photos

Linking up today with House Unseen, Life Unscripted’s awesome 2013 in 13 Photos!
Photo 1:  January.  Immaculate Conception Church.  I take a picture every Sunday and sign in on FourSquare.  I’m the Mayor!

Photo 2: February.  John’s birthday cake.  My own secret recipe, and symbolic of the many cakes I bake at that time of year . . . which is coming right up!
strawberry cake
Photo 3: March.  Cinnamon rolls for Easter, a lifelong tradition.
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Photo 3: April.  Lorelei’s First Communion, and the beginning of the craziness that was April and May.
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Photo 5: May.  Emily’s graduation from Spring Hill College, which was preceded by Teddy’s from high school.
Emily, Jake, and Teddy 2
Photo 6: June.  John’s 25th Reunion, and a fun weekend away alone for us.
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Photo 7: July.  Zinnias in my garden.  It was my first year back to serious gardening in a long time and I loved it.
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Photo 8: August.  Dropping Teddy off at Notre Dame.
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Photo 9: September.  The beginning of our relationship with our spider friend.
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Photo 10: October.  Lorelei at Dollywood.  We had a lot of fun there this year with our season passes.
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Photo 11: November.  Obligatory cute cat picture.  Mr. Kimutis and Mace engage in some brotherly love.
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Photo 12: December.  Lorelei bonds with her cousin Sophie.  We had a wonderful time seeing Sophie again and meeting her four little sisters.
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Photo 13:  Merry Christmas.
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It's Not Just You

Over the past few days I’ve had several conversations with different people centering around how difficult things are for them.  “That’s how my life is,” said one friend.  “My life is just crazy right now,” said another.  “Why is my life so hard?” asked a third.
In each conversation, I’ve said almost the same thing.   It’s something I’m convinced of.  It’s not just you.  Life is hard.  Everyone’s life.
Whether it’s that you’ve lost your job, or your kid has cancer, or your house burned down, or you’ve lost a loved one very suddenly, or you have more month than you have money, or you’re flunking out of school, or you are lonely, or you are simply exhausted and overwhelmed by responsibilities–whatever your struggle is, it’s hard.  We all have struggles.  If there is someone you know who you think has it easy, rest assured that you just don’t know what their struggle is.
One of our clients, who has dealt with issues surrounding drugs, and child custody, and prison, and now a terminal illness in his family, said, “I know they always say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle but He must think my shoulders are awfully strong.”  I read an excellent reflection on that sentiment last week, but what I told him was that I don’t believe God sends us these trials.  I know it’s a source of comfort to many to believe that whatever they’ve suffered is part of God’s plan, but I don’t.  God helps us deal with them, absolutely, helps us find blessings in them, uses them to help us grow–but the trials themselves?  They are the product of the fallen world in which we live.
The world is fallen, and life is hard, but we need to remember it is also beautiful and good.  Believing the lie that we are the only ones having this hard life fills us with resentment and blinds us to the good and beauty all around us.
On Sunday Father Jerry talked about the sycamore tree in the Gospel, and how it’s a beautiful tree, but very messy.  “Like life,” he said.
Let’s learn a lesson from the messy sycamore tree, described thus in Wikipedia:  “An American sycamore tree can often be easily distinguished from other trees by its mottled exfoliating bark which flakes off in great irregular masses, leaving the surface mottled, and greenish-white, gray and brown. The bark of all trees has to yield to a growing trunk by stretching, splitting, or infilling; the sycamore shows the process more openly than many other trees. The explanation is found in the rigid texture of the bark tissue which lacks the elasticity of the bark of some other trees, so it is incapable of stretching to accommodate the growth of the wood underneath, so the tree sloughs it off.”
ALL of us are having hard times.  Some trials are just more visible than others.
I’m linking this up with #WorthRevisit.  For more recycled posts and a chance to meet some new bloggers, please click the picture!

An Embarrassment of Riches?

Most of the time five kids doesn’t seem like a lot to me, it just seems normal.  I can blithely respond to that ubiquitous comment, “I don’t know how you do it!” with “Oh, after three it’s not any harder, just louder,” and mostly mean it.
But there are times when I just want to turn to John and say, “We have too many kids.”  Not that we’d send any of them back . . . (well, only sometimes!).  I don’t know if it will make me feel better or worse to reel off the reasons I am feeling that way right now, but at least I will get some sympathy–right?
1)  John is currently en route to pick up Emily for her Spring Break.  She will be home all this week, and so will William.  However, Lorelei’s break is next week, when William will be back in school.  So no vacation OR staycation for me.
2) Easter is one week away.  That means five baskets full of candy, and bunnies, and maybe some new clothes, and sweet rolls, and lots of church this week, and Easter dinner, and lots and lots of money (and did I mention my car is in the shop and will cost over $1000 to ransom?).
3) On Easter Monday, the ONE DAY when all the kids have off, guess who gets to drive Emily halfway back to Mobile?  I bet you’ll guess it in one.
4) That same week Teddy is going on his first road trip to Florida with his friends.  (Good news–he saved money for this so that at least is taken care of!) During the week he is gone I expect all his college letters to arrive, so it could be a good week, a bad week, or a mixture.
6) April 21 is Lorelei’s First Communion. (I’ve got the dress, thank God, but not the veil and the gloves she insists on.  Or a present for her.  And I’ve got to plan some celebration afterwards and make sure people are invited.)
7) April 26 is Prom Night.  Jake and Teddy are both supposedly attending proms (in two different locations).  Tuxedos have to be ordered.  Rides have to be arranged.  And MORE MONEY.
8) April 27 is my birthday.  Somehow I doubt I will get to spend the weekend away alone, which is what I like to do.
9) May 4 Emily graduates from college.  IN ALABAMA.  We need hotel reservations. We need to buy her a present.  We need to figure out the logistics of having John’s mother get there from Baltimore.  We will have to take two cars, and we will be bringing her and all her stuff back to Knoxville for the coming year.  Did I mention we need more money?
10) May 18 Teddy graduates from high school.  Another celebration will need to be planned!
11) At the end of May we are all supposed to go to Washington for John’s 25th college reunion and to Baltimore for a visit.  Granted we would be doing this regardless of the number of children we have but supposing they all go it now requires two cars and three hotel rooms and needless to say MORE MONEY which we therefore somehow have to continue to earn throughout this two month period of craziness because we are self-employed.  And don’t get paid to go on vacations.
Now I realize that except for the taxes these are all joyful celebrations for which I should be grateful, and of course I am.  And a wonderful things about having lots of children is that there are so many more celebrations.
But why can’t they be spread out just a little? 🙂
Five Kids

48 Questions (and the answers too!)

Last week I was too busy LIVING my life to write about it!  And this week I’m playing catch up from last week.  So here’s a self-indulgent, quickie post, inspired by my friend Elizabeth, to get me back to blogging.


1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?Yes.  My first name is for my mother’s sister, Mary Leslie (who was herself named for a street in Mechanicsville–Leslie Avenue–which used to have an exit sign off of I-40 that thrilled me as a little girl!).  My middle name is Carroll, my mother’s maiden name.  My sisters and I all were given family names as middle names.
I cry on a daily basis when reading sappy things on the Internet.  I think the last time I cried for real was a a month or so ago when I got a flat tire on the interstate and I called John and burst into tears because it was kind of like the last straw.
Yes, I am very proud of it because it was messy for so long and I worked hard to improve (eight years of daily handwriting pages–even Catholic schools don’t do that anymore.).
Whatever turkey is on sale. 🙂
Y’all already know the answer to that one:  five, aged 8, almost 12, 18, 19, and 22.  Wow.
Am I the only one who gets confused by these questions?  If I were another person, I’d be another person, so who knows who I’d want to be friends with?  If the point of the question is to ask if I consider myself to be a good friend, the answer is yes.
Yes, even with my kids, which “they say” is bad.
Yes, and I wish I didn’t.  Although it’s now been many years since I had it, I used to get tonsillitis fairly frequently, even up into my twenties.
HELL NO.  Not for any amount of money.  I’m afraid of heights.  My knees get weak when I stand on a chair–no lie.
Maybe Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds . . . but I’m not picky.  I do love cereal, though.

I think I must be.
Mayfield’s Turtle Tracks, but I would never think to buy ice cream for only myself, and I get a cone once a year, on the last day of school (that’s a family tradition, and in recent years we’ve gone to Kay’s Ice Cream where I get Lemon Custard.).
I hate this question.  I don’t know.  It depends on the person.  I do tend to size people up rather quickly but it’s more an overall thing.
It changes with the day.  Today let’s say I wish I did not bite my fingernails.
Consistent discipline of all kinds and in all areas.
White tennis shoes with blue trim.
My last Turtle from Valentine’s Day–John bought me three boxes of different kinds!
Blessed silence.
I don’t have political views, I have moral views.  And they are central to who I am.
Mountain hideaway.  Ideally I’d like to retire in a mountain cabin like the one where we spent our honeymoon.
It might be totally grey.  I am not ready to find out.  The color I use doesn’t work well anymore because it’s not meant for hair this far gone.  So it’s been coming out kind of silvery blonde, which people seem to like.
No.  I did not even need glasses until a couple of years ago.  I have reading glasses which I use in dim light, and other glasses which I use for driving or to look at far away things like football games.  I have not started wearing them all the time on a daily basis yet.
me in glasses30. FAVORITE FOOD?
This list changes with my mood . . . shrimp. biscuits, and steak are the first things that pop into my mind.
Happy endings.  I don’t like scary.
Les Miserables
les mis poster
33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?Eggplant.  It’s my take-William-to-school sweatshirt.
I love all four seasons.  Now that we have air conditioning again, and since it never snows anymore, I guess I’d pick summer.
I’m not a big dessert person.  When I go out to eat what I like is creme brulee. (I am too lazy to figure out how to make the accent marks.).
Strength training.  Not that I do either at the moment.
Computer.  I don’t watch t.v. Really.
I just finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  It was amazing.  I am also currently re-reading all of my Agatha Christie books.
39. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?Someone really needs to remove this question.  Although I do have a wireless mouse, because I wore out the built on one on my laptop within a few months.
Outside beautiful day noises (bird song, frogs, wind blowing, basketballs bouncing)
I don’t have a favorite.  I even like some things my kids listen to. 😉
France, when I was 17.
Writing is one of them.
44. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?Knoxville, Tennessee.
Knoxville, Tennessee.
Just some kind of boring house color.
new house47. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR CAR?
It was fairly painless!

Who Are the Uninsured?

So the other day I was looking at this sort of small boil thing on my leg (I know, I know, TMI but necessary to the story).  “Do you think this could be a staph infection?” I asked Teddy, figuring he would be the expert since things like that tend to lurk in locker rooms.  “Could be,” he answered.  “Well, if I start to see some necrotizing flesh I guess I will go see a doctor,” I said, and I was only kidding a little bit.
I went with John to his doctor yesterday.  There was no more putting it off.  He hadn’t seen a doctor for any sort of follow up since being diagnosed with diabetes in February.  They called him over the phone to let him know.  They didn’t tell him how to check his blood sugar, or what he should be eating, or anything.  And now he was out of his medicine.  He’d been out of five or so other medications for several months, but knowing so little about diabetes we didn’t know what would happen if he stopped taking that one.  So off we went.
We left $150 poorer, with a lab bill to follow, with a handful or prescriptions that will cost us over $500 every month IF we fill them all every month, and that’s after prescription club card discounts.
The last time I wanted to see the doctor, earlier this year, because my leg was swollen and I was worried about a blood clot, I went to the emergency room.  Yes, I am one of those people.  Why?  Because when I called the doctor’s office where I go when I am sick (which is thankfully never) they said I hadn’t been there in over three years, so I would be a new patient, and they would have to charge me for a check up first, and they wouldn’t be able to see me right away.  And I would have had to pay the whole bill right then.  This also happened to me the last time I got sick enough to need a doctor.  That time (I had walking pneumonia) I ended up at the Walgreens walk-in clinic (I recommend them, by the way.). See, healthy uninsured people don’t get annual physicals.  So they don’t have a relationship with a doctor.  When they get sick, they wait a few days.  Tough it out.  See if it won’t get better on its own.
Emily has student insurance because Spring Hill requires it.  She graduates in May and will enter the ranks of the uninsured unless she finds a job that provides insurance.  Luckily for her she is astonishingly healthy–no antibiotics or doctor visits for illness since the age of two.  The other kids are on TennCare but I’m pretty sure Jake gets kicked to the curb at 19–bad news, since he does take medications that it fully covers.  Teddy will have coverage in college, I suppose, and even if we lose TennCare for the little ones as we have fewer dependents, there is a program called CoverKids for them.
I could write several columns about the failures of TennCare but I won’t because despite all of them I am grateful that my kids have had insurance of any sort.  There were years when they didn’t, when I sucked it up and asked for a bill at the doctor’s office while staring at the sign stating that all accounts needed to be paid in full at the time of service, when we waited a day or two longer than other people might to see the doctor, hoping things would improve on their own, when we paid $100 for eyedrops for a corneal abrasion and used them on pinkeye outbreaks for years in order to get our money’s worth.
So how did we end up here?  Where did we go wrong?  Aren’t those uninsured people, those people who think they are entitled to healthcare, people who don’t work, or who are deadbeats, or who just don’t bother to purchase insurance?
Well no, they are people just like us, which is why I am writing about this very personal topic.  Because I think people ought to know that.
I’m not going to go through the last twenty-plus years and tell the whole sorry saga of our health insurance blues, because it would take too long and probably be boring.  I’ll just hit the high (the low?) points.
Growing up, I never thought about health insurance, and I’m sure you didn’t either.  I went straight from my father’s plan to my husband’s–I got married less than three months after I graduated from college.  I remember how fun it was reading about the plans and deciding which one we should pick.  That was right at the beginning of HMOs, and the Federal Government (where John worked then) offered Kaiser Permanente, which was free but kind of sucked, actually.  But it was a lot better than nothing.
The only problem was that when we moved to Knoxville, Cobra notwithstanding, we were screwed, because there was no Kaiser here.  So with a baby on the way, we entered the ranks of the uninsured.  I got a job at UT that had great benefits, but not for pre-existing conditions!  So Emily was an out-of-pocket purchase, paid off over many long years, as were two of our other babies.
I was also writing for the Tennessee Register then, and I wrote a long article about the burgeoning health care crisis in this country–something I had never heard of at that time.  All the experts I interviewed said it was only going to get worse.  When I was seeking a position with the East Tennessee Catholic, I showed that article to the then-editor, and he wanted to know what it had to do with Catholicism.  Ah, hindsight.
That was my last full-time job, so I never was offered insurance again.  John was, at his first post-law-school position, but the family plan was so expensive that we couldn’t afford it, plus I was pregnant already and it wouldn’t cover that pre-existing condition–that didn’t stop TennCare from kicking me off though–because I was OFFERED insurance, even though we DIDN’T get it and it wouldn’t have covered me if we had!
Several years later, after John began practicing law on his own (that means no group coverage, people), he found a nice insurance agent who said he could get us affordable private-pay coverage.  He came out to the house and we picked a plan.  A few weeks later, we got the bad news:  because of his pre-existing health conditions, and the medications he was already taking, John had been declared officially uninsurable.
That’s right, folks:  that’s how insurance companies hold their costs down.  They weed out the people who need the coverage most.
After awhile, we did the math.  Paying monthly premiums, the deductible, and the co-pays for people who rarely if ever got sick made it impossible for us to afford the care and medications for the one person in the house who needed it.  We had to drop that insurance and it’s only become less affordable since.
In the ensuing years, there have been times (pregnancies, extended illnesses, excessive medical bills) that we’ve been able to qualify for TennCare in one form or another.  I was able to get my gall bladder removed during one of those times, happily.  In between, John only goes to the doctor for medication refills and we look for patient assistance programs and samples to cover the costs of his medications, or else he goes without “less important” medications.
Something has to be done about the state of health care in this country.  My European friends laugh at our resistance to “socialized medicine.”  They can’t understand why we wouldn’t want what they have.  The Affordable Health Care Act is not perfect, but it’s a start.  I trust the pro-life Democrats’ assurances that they are satisfied with the concessions that were made to them before they voted for the bill.  I may yet read the whole thing (900+ pages) to see what all it includes for myself.   My feelings about the HHS mandate are already on the record but I am still hopeful that it will be overturned or modified.
Reform has to come, one way or another, sooner or later.  It’s coming too late for some people.

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

I love sharing pictures of my new house with you and I hope you like seeing how far we’ve come since September.  The reason these postings are few and far between is that the rooms have to be clean before I photograph them (got to keep it Pinterest safe!).
Today’s feature is Lorelei’s room.  Her room makes me really happy because it is a blend of a few salvaged things from our old life and new things that were given with so much love.
I also love it because she’s seven and it’s about time she had a nice room to call her own.  When she was born we still lived in our big Victorian house.  There were four generous bedrooms and one small one–so guess who didn’t have a room of her own?  Not that she cared–she slept in bed with Mommy and Daddy, we kept her clothes in a dresser in William’s room, and her toys were in a basket in the den.  We were excited when we moved to the next house–there was a small room just right for Lorelei.  There were problems, though.  No closet–except for the utility one with the leaky, noisy AC equipment.  Her room was part of what had originally been a mother-in-law apartment, which meant she had to go through Teddy’s room to get to hers–and Teddy did not always want her barging in.  Finally, it was a long way to Mommy in the middle of the night!  Inevitably, she ended up sleeping with us again.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Her room suffered only water and smoke damage, so we saved a few things, some of them quite precious, as you will see in the pictures.
This picture (one of a pair) hung on the wall of my Uncle Walter’s nursery, just about 100 years ago.   My grandmother unearthed them when my little sister was a baby, and they hung in her room throughout her childhood.  When we moved to the Victorian house, we put them in William’s room (he was the baby then).  I don’t even remember why, but they were not hanging up at the time of them fire, but were in a sheltered spot in the basement where they suffered very little damage.  My middle sister had them reframed behind special glass to preserve these treasures and now I have them back–the only family heirloom I have left.

Detail from the picture above

Here’s another picture that made it.  Actually all the pictures on Lorelei’s walls were saved, but most have now been relocated to other ares in the house–including a couple now in the room of their original owner, big sister Emily.
One of the very first people to respond with concrete assistance after the fire was Laura, a friend from law school days whose generosity I wrote of in an earlier post.   Her little girl is growing up and was ready to part with her four poster bed and matching mirror, and her Disney Princess lamp.  And Laura loaded all this up in a U-Haul trailer and drove to and from Nashville (that’s six hours round trip, folks) less than a week after the fire.  Did I mention that we had not even seen her in over ten years?  I hope it won’t be that long until we see her and her family again.

A bed needs a mattress and sheets and pillows and such, of course, and those were provided by friends from church.  They had them ready long before we had a house to set them up in.  Aren’t they pretty?  And other people provided spares, both old and new.
We used an end table (and where it came from I couldn’t say) but we still needed a dresser.  Enter more Good Samaritans!  If you live in Knoxville you’ll have heard of The Brown Squirrel furniture store.  I’ve been hearing the commercials my whole life!  And its owners have kids at KCHS.  Mrs. Matthews came by the house with a notebook and a measuring tape, asking what we still needed.  Within a couple of days, we had a dresser and a rocking chair.

Note the afghan, another treasure salvaged from Lorelei’s room. It’s the one Mima made for Teddy’s crib.

One last piece of furniture rounds out the room–the fanciful bookshelf below, which was a gift to Emily on her–I think–seventh birthday.  I did the best I could, but it’s still a little sooty.  Like so much of the furniture we once had, it came from Myrtle’s Mess.

Oh, and did I mention the closet?  No one likes to think of a little girl having all her pretty clothes burn up.  When it came to donated clothes, Lorelei won the jackpot.  I had friends I’ve never even met in real life mailing her boxes of beautiful things.  So thank goodness that her new room also has a walk-in closet!

Here is Lorelei on her very first night in a new bed in a new room in a new house:

Just don’t ask me where she sleeps now.

Things I Am Afraid to Tell You

If you are a blogger, or if you follow a lot of blogs, you probably know about this already.  One blogger’s courageous admission that there was more to her than what she shared every day on her blog led to a movement.  The theory is that we can all be brave together so a lot of people post their lists on the same day.  And now I’ve had the opportunity to join in the third wave.  So without further ado, here are some things I am afraid to tell you.
1.  Although I believe in and write about the ideals of attachment parenting, I have smacked my kids on occasion.  Sometimes that represents a failure to be patient or to express anger appropriately, but sometimes I really think a smack on the fanny is what’s needed, even though I understand the theory behind always parenting gently.
2.  What goes on when my family is behind closed doors at times bears little resemblance to the image we are projecting to the world.  There is a lot of yelling.  Also a lot of love.  Since every family I’ve ever known well has its own secrets, I’m assuming yours does as well and you won’t think less of me for this.
3.  I really can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror.  The fact is, I’m fat.  And unlike a lot of people who typically think they are fatter than they really are, I usually forget all about it and start feeling pleased with myself until I see a mirror, or God forbid, a picture.  You won’t find many photographs of me and that is on purpose.
4.  My faith is serious business to me and I firmly believe in the teachings of my Church, even those that are very unpopular in the country and large and those that are widely disregarded by many Catholics.  I am afraid that my “liberal” friends will think less of me for this.  On the flip side, I am afraid that my “conservative” friends will think I am not “Catholic enough” if I tell them that I believe that Church teachings on war and poverty are way more important than those on gay marriage.
5.  I was convinced I would be a perfect mother with perfect kids.  Neither is true.  I fall short every single day.  Sometimes I think I have no idea what I am doing.  Some days I think I have too many kids.  (Although I would not send any back.)
6.  When I read the amazing writing of some of my blogging friends, and hear about their plans and see all their successes, and think of how excited I get about my own (minuscule) page views, I think that it’s some kind of mistake and I really have no right to be hanging around online with these people.
7.  Despite all the self-deprecatory disclosures that precede this final entry, I really am disgustingly conceited about certain aspects of myself.
Whew!  I did it.  Let the chips fall where they may.  Do you want to play too?  You can comment below!
I have excellent friends who agreed to post with me today. Thank you so much to all of them and be sure to go check out what they have to say as well. (Please leave us some comment love, here and there, it helps so much to get support on vulnerable posts like these!)
Jill at Terra Savvy | Erica at The Elbow | Jen at Taking Off the Mask | Kate at Modern Home Modern Baby | Laura at My So Called Sensory Life | Monique at Razing Mayhem | Caroline at Salsa Pie | Leslie at Life In Every Limb | Tammie at Tam.Me | Melanie at Inward Facing Girl | Amy at Old Sweet Song | Michelle at Early Mama | Jen at Jen Epting | Leslie at Lights and Letters| Sarah at SAWK Photography
HISTORY: The very first one by Jess Constable inspired Ez to write her own and invite others to join her on Creature Comforts. Meg at Mimi + Meg started a second round.
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Cat People

This morning, the first thing on the agenda is to take Mace to the vet for his first set of shots.  Mace is one of three now half-grown kittens who adopted us when we moved here.

Jake holding the first kitten to appear

We didn’t start off being cat people.  John never had a cat growing up.  In fact, he SAID he didn’t like cats.  Certainly, he was allergic to them (dogs, too).  My family had one cat when I was growing up–only because my little sister begged.  Celeste was a part of the family for 17 years, but we felt like she was an exception.  She was not like the other cats.
We never made a decision to own a cat, either.  Cat ownership was thrust upon us when Rosemary appeared on our deck, homeless and expecting kittens, when Teddy was a baby.  She stayed 15 years.  Mima urged us to keep her.  Children should have pets, she said.  She’d pay for all of it, she said.  She did, and we did.  Rosemary was a sweet, undemanding, affectionate cat.  For a time, we had a companion for her, another stray–a fat furry black and white creature named Tosco–but they never got along well and when he wandered off one day and did not return no one missed him much.
Rosemary disappeared one day shortly before we moved to the house that burned down.  She’d been gone for a few days before, but this time she didn’t come back.  I still miss her.
Lorelei and William decided they each wanted a kitten of their own.  I did not consent to this.  John and Emily between them brought home two kittens from Emily’s roommate’s cat.  Both were supposed to be girls; both turned out to be boys.  Carrying on a theme, we named them Pepper and Parsley.
Watching those two grow up was a joy.  They had so much fun playing together.  We had five acres of woods behind the house and it was a wonderful playground for them.  Wildlife abounded, and Parsley was a merciless hunter, killing something just about every day.
Those cats were spoiled rotten.  They ruled the house.  Rosemary was rarely inside.  Those two had windows open so they could come and go as they pleased.  They slept right in the bed with us.  I posted so many pictures of them on Facebook I embarrassed myself.
Lorelei in my bed with her kitten, Pepper.

Under the tree

Spoiled Rotten

Brotherly Love

After the fire, we never saw Pepper and Parsley again.  Pepper hadn’t been seen that day.  Parsley was in the house when the boys left at 4 p.m.  By ten, the house was in flames.  There was a window open for Parsley, of course.  We hope the fire scared them, that they ran into the woods, that when they came back to a foul-smelling blackened shell and we weren’t there, they found someone else to love them and take care of them.  That’s what we hope.
Lorelei and William didn’t care about the house.  They didn’t care about their toys.  All the cried about was their kittens.
So it seemed like God had a hand in sending those three little kittens to our porch only a few days after we moved in:  Cicely for Lorelei, Mace for William, and Mr. Kimutis (after his religion teacher) for Jake.  They will never replace Pepper and Parsley, but they are sweet and loving and have helped us heal.
First night

Eating us out of house and home

It's a bed if we say it's a bed

Saying her prayers

Drying off after getting caught in the rain

Just pitiful