Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beam me to Michigan!

Cute lil moment Saturday...Rachael and I were driving to gymnastics when, once again, she said, "Momma, wait! We no get Uncle Jim! He come with us!"

My brother, who adores Rachael, went with us to gymnastics the last two times he and my sis in law were in town. Since then, Rachael has decided that Uncle Jim will be coming with us to gymnastics each week. Now that would be a lot of commuting... :)

Perhaps she'll stop asking me why we left Uncle Jim at home once I can get her to understand the distance between Michigan and Connecticut...until then, Jim, I think you're on the hook for getting yourself to gymnastics every Saturday. Hee hee... :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Merry Chr...Thanksgiving!

The turkey just doesn't stand a chance these days...

It used to be annoying, but I've finally just accepted it: I will shop for Halloween costumes among Christmas tree displays. I understand that stores fund entire fiscal years around holiday sales, but dang...I was at the mall on October 30th and the kids trick-or-treating in mall definitely clashed with the tinsel and holly berries on display at JCPenney. And, at least here in the Detroit area, radio stations start playing Christmas music during the first week of November. Who wants to listen to White Christmas when the jack-o-lanterns haven't even hit the trash can yet?

This rush to the American Christmas season does make me a little sad for poor, lonely Thanksgiving. Is Thanksgiving is nothing but an eighth rest in the middle of the loooong Christmas carol?

Well Thanksgiving--I appreciate you! I think it's fabulous that we have a day in our year bookmarked specifically for us to be thankful. Yes, there's the arguable history behind "the first Thanksgiving," but it's pretty well accepted that Thanksgiving is a day to acknowledge our blessings. So I'm going to turn down my Christmas music and set aside my wish list for a moment to give Thanksgiving its due attention. :-)

Here's a short list of what I'm thankful for:

* my beautiful, smart, healthy daughters
* my beautiful, smart, healthy husband
* the roof over my head and the (soon-to-be-new!) carpet under my feet
* my job and my colleagues (even the snarky ones in Ann Arbor) ;-)
* my health insurance, which helped pay for my Tamiflu prescription last week
* my city's autumn leaf pickup program
* my brother and Jen, who love me, Dave, and my girls from afar
* Sandy and Ron, who love me, Dave, and my girls from afar
* my inlaws, who are so generous with their time
* my mother, for doing the best she can
* my furnace, which warmed my house to 68 degrees right on schedule this morning
* my tub of Infant Vics Vapo Rub
* my kids' pediatrician, who made me laugh while I nervously held my feverish baby
* the heated seats in my car
* Dr Seuss, who reminds me to try new things, even if I'm sure I won't like it
* AIM Instant Messenger--how did I ever function in corporate America without IM?
* my friends, new and old
* gas being less than $4/gallon

I could go on...but an eighth rest only lasts so long! Thank you, Thanksgiving.

Back to Christmas!

We took the girls in for holiday photos already. Yep, weeks before Thanksgiving...I know, I know. Here's a hint of what you'll see in your mailboxes next month:

Neither of our girls had any interest in having pictures taken. Oh well! They're still cute. ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving, gentle readers!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trying, Once Again, to be Responsible...

David and I try, but we admittedly fall short of being perfect parents. I know...contrary to popular belief... ;-)

We've been talking about getting a Will and Living Trust drafted for about three years now. We even got as far as meeting with an attorney (two, actually), but never got the whole effort off the ground. It's an incredibly daunting task.

Well, I'm proud to say that *today* we finally went back to the attorney and gave her everything she needs to process a first draft of a will, living trust, and the re-deeding of our house (this process also helped us discover that buying our house before we were married opened up a few legal loopholes. Awesome.) It'll take a few weeks for her to get everything together for her first draft, but heck, after the three years it took D and I to formulate the content of that first draft, two weeks isn't bad.

For those of you who are not experienced with estate planning with minor children, this is why it took us forever to get to this point in hella-serious estate planning. You need to:
* decide WHO should manage your estate (liquidate your assets, invest the proceeds, close accounts, collect your life insurance, deal with your house, deal your cars, deal with your children's new guardian, etc etc etc)
* decide HOW that person is to manage your estate (work with an investment counselor, plan for kids' college, etc)
* decide WHO will raise your children, which is almost as hard as this last biggie...
* decide HOW you want that person to raise your children

So let's say you decide you want Ralph Smith to manage your estate (cash) and Loretta Jones to raise your children. Sounds cut-and-dried, right? But now consider this: if Loretta Smith dies, do you automatically want her husband, Jerome, to raise your kids? Do you want Ralph Smith to have a say in that? Oh, and how much are you going to pay Ralph for managing your crap? And do you want Loretta to send your kids to private school instead of the Jonesville Public School? Who decides if Jonesville Public School is acceptable? Who has to agree before the estate (Ralph) will pony up for private school? Oh, and what if Loretta decides to move to Paraguay? Or worse, Cleveland? Can she take your kids, or does the next-in-line guardian get the kids? And how old/how accomplished do your kids have to be before they can get your cash? 25? 30? 26.5 with a college degree? 27 with a Masters degree? AUGH!

Every single decision opened up Pandora's box a little wider. Crap.

So, realizing that our current plan of just ignoring this whole mess might not be the most responsible decision, we wrote a narrative on what we would generally like to see happen....the pretty essay written in a pleasing font had clear sections describing the things that are important to us and the things that confused us (see Paraguay issue above). Proud of our work, we handed it to the attorney, then watched as she stared first at us, wide-eyed, then at our single-spaced narrative, and asked if we'd really written a narrative on our estate plan. Said she'd never seen that before. Heh. Clearly she needs to get to know D and me better. So, she talked us through her recommendations and agreed to have her draft in the mail in two weeks.

Not easy stuff, no easy answers. I am glad that we at least have the process in gear now.

Anyhoo, here are the princesses we're doing all this for! Check out my pretty-pretties in the Halloween gear:

Rachael as Minnie Mouse

Lil Ladybug Erin

Me and my girls...with Rachael in her other costume (was too cold for this on Halloween night!)