Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I hear a lot of people, especially people who are my age and younger, talking about this "economic crisis" and freaking out. While I am not an economist, or a financial expert, or, well, I'm not anyone... I'd like to add my advice to the chorus of advice out there, for you to consider as you're making financial plans for your family. (Especially for the people who may be coming over here via MotherTalkers! HI!)
So, here's my advice:
If you're looking at your Roth IRA or your 401K and you're seeing red (literally and figuratively!) don't panic. You haven't actually "lost" any money. That's only the amount that you would lose if you chose to sell out of the market at this very minute. It's not real money (whether it's low or high) unless you sell.
For most of us who have young families, we're going to be ok. Actually, we're going to be better than ok if we can afford to invest now, while the market is low. If shares of Company X were at $100 yesterday, and now they're at $50, chances are pretty decent that over time they're going to come back up to $100 or better - so buy them now and you can cash in when things come up.
They will come back up. Everything is a cycle. By the time we're ready to retire, the financial world will be a totally different one than it is today. Do not panic and sell everything. You'll make things worse for your family, and if we all did this it would be just like a run on the bank, and make things worse for everyone.
Get professional advice.
Now would be a really good time to make an appointment with a professional financial planner (get referrals, I have a good one if you're local to me), to talk about your portfolio. Make sure you're diversified - in other words, you don't have all your eggs in one basket. You want to take a certain amount of risk with your money, and put a certain amount of it in secure investments, and the percentages depend on your age. Now that things are beginning to get scary, you may want your money to be more readily available than it would be in a Roth IRA or a 401K, so talk to your professional planner about what kinds of investments might be more liquid (readily available) than others, and where your money should be.
Keep on top of your payments.
All of us need to work on paying down debt. Call your credit card companies and see if you can negotiate a lower rate. They'd rather get some money from you than none. I just opened a renewal for one of our business cards that cut our credit line in half, and we didn't do anything wrong! We always pay our full balance on time each month. Lenders are going to be looking for any excuse to cut your credit, so make sure that you aren't giving them any by being late.
And for God's sake, pay your mortgage!
Talk to your parents.
If you have living parents who are in their 50s, 60s, or older, you're going to want to talk to them frankly about their financial health. What changes are they going to have to make as a result of the problems on Wall Street? Have they been living off of dividends from their investments? Do they have a financial planner? Can you go with them to meet with the planner to see what's up? Now is a good time to be really open and honest about their financial picture - not because you want to make sure your inheritance is secure (hahaha... Like any of us are going to inherit anything now!), but because you want to make sure that they can afford their retirement. Do they need to get a job so that they can avoid dipping into their investments while things are low? Do they need to sell their house and move to a smaller, more affordable place? What about a reverse mortgage? Talk about these things honestly and openly with your parents (or with your adult children, if you're a parent) and get professional advice if you can.
Face it, if they can't take care of themselves, then their care is going to fall to you and your siblings, so make sure that if that's the case, you're planning for that scenario, too. Is your house accessible? Could you make it more accessible for an older person than it is? Are you going to need to move if Mom and Dad come to live with you in a few years? Start thinking about these things now, to avoid surprises in the future.
Take care of your kids.
Every single parent out there needs to have life insurance and a will. Period. BJ's life insurance is only about $90 a quarter - or $360 a year, and if something happens to him (God forbid) we'll be covered. I have less coverage, but it's even cheaper. Again, talk to a financial adviser about what you need to do to protect your family in case of the worst, and be a grown up and do it.
Write a will and name a guardian for your dependent kids. It doesn't cost much to have it done. Then put all of this - your will, your insurance info, etc. in a fireproof safe somewhere in your house. You'll sleep better. Trust me.
Do not take on additional debt right now.
Don't buy anything on credit. Don't refinance your house. Don't change anything for a while, until things stabilize and we know what's going to happen. If you have debt, as I said above, try to pay it down as quickly as possible. Don't dig yourself a deeper hole.
What am I forgetting? What are you doing to get your financial house in order?
Monday, September 29, 2008
I thought that Mary Grace was just at the right age for such a thing, so I "constructed" her online, right down to the freckle underneath her right eye, and told BJ, "Hey, I found Mary Grace's Christmas gift!" via chat...
His reply: Creepy!
I assured him that it wasn't for him, and he said, "Yeah, but I still have to live in the same house with it!"
So, Brilliant and Beloved Readers, what say you?
Sunday, September 28, 2008
We were a little under the weather yesterday, which caused us to miss a birthday party (boo!!), but today the girls were ready to roll, and stir crazy from spending a whole day in the house. We took off for the Feast of the Hunter's Moon with Grandma Susan.
The girls were so good, they were just delightful and had a really good time (so did Grandma Susan and I!). Except for the potty...
I had the port-a-potty in the car, and before we walked from the parking lot to the festival grounds I asked MG if she needed to use it, but she was too excited to get to the festival (she'd been talking about it all day yesterday) so we didn't. We had only been there for half an hour or so when she said, "Mommy, I need to go potty."
The nearest potty was a latrine. It was a commode over a hole, basically, and it was filthy. And it reeked. And I knew my fastidious little girl, who has loved to wash her hands since she was tiny, who hates being sticky, who wouldn't even go in sand until after her second birthday because it felt dirty, was NOT going to handle it well. I just knew.
Instead of having her sit on the seat (ACK!) I tried holding her in my arms, with one arm behind her back and one under her knees, and holding her over the commode, but that didn't work. She couldn't relax. She was screaming, "No Mommy, it's filthy! It's yucky! I don't want to pee!!!" In desperation, I tried letting her sit on the seat (there is not enough Lysol in the universe...) but she leaped off of it like it was on fire.
I couldn't stand the odor anymore, myself, and there were other families with young children waiting, so we bailed on the latrine. I saw some Port-A-Potties (the big blue ones, not like the little potty chair in my car) but I knew that wouldn't work any better. I could've left Claire (who was asleep in the stroller) with Grandma Susan, and tried to run back to the car, but I knew she wouldn't make it. We were too far away from the car.
There were too many people to pull up a bush.
So, I did the only thing I could think of at the time. I put one of Claire's diapers on her. I told her that it was a special circumstance, and that it was ok to pee in Claire's diaper. She wouldn't, at first, but eventually desperation took over and she did.
My poor kid.
What should I have done differently? Forced her to use the latrine? Should I have taken her back to the car? Should I have carried her potty chair with us? I don't want to have to skip this sort of thing until the kids are old enough to hold their breath and pee, but this is the first outdoor festival we've tried since we potty trained her. Would you have put a diaper on her, too, if you'd been me?
1. The winner can (and should, really) put the logo on his/her blog.
2. The winner must link to the person from whom they received their award.
3. The winner must nominate at least 7 other blogs for an award.
4. The winner must place links to those blogs on their own blog.
5. The winner must leave a message on the blogs of the people they’ve nominated.
Oh my, so many rules! And I read so many wonderful blogs! Should I pass this honor on to the established bloggers that we all read, or should I point you in the direction of some new bloggers - friends of mine in real life? I think we'll go with my real life blogging friends...
1. Jenny at Untrained Monkeys - Jenny and I met our freshman year of high school, which means we've known each other for 18 years. That blows my mind. In addition to being a mommy of two gorgeous, active kids, and a blogger, she's a photographer and a state trooper. Jenny writes about whatever happens to be on her mind, the same way I do, and even if you haven't known her for almost two decades, she is someone worth reading about. And her pictures (especially the ones of my kids!) are gorgeous!
2. Becky at Sailing Is Funnest and I Miss the North - You thought I was old having known Jenny for 18 years - I've known Becky for 25 years! She moved onto my block way back in the 80s, and was walking down the street with her dad when I invited her to come play in my sandbox. Becky writes about current events, politics, her life, and her friends. I love how the internet brings those of us who have lost touch back together.
3. Erin at Life of a Spaceman - Erin's married to Matt, and Matt and BJ went to school together, so we've known him for at least 8 years, and we've known Erin since a little after they started dating. Now they live in Florida with their sweet daughter, Katelynn, and they both write about their life. Matt just started a new blog about politics, but I'm pretty sure it's password protected.
4. Heather at Little Fiddly Bits - Heather and I have known each other via our husbands for about 8 years, too. In addition to being the mother of the darling Amelia, Heather is an artist. She does all kinds of things I wish I could do, and writes and posts pictures about her creative antics. I wish she'd post some of her wedding pictures, because they did a whole Renaissance theme, including big poofy dresses, mead from Oliver Winery to drink, and period music. It was really something, and I still remember it all these years later.
5. Brandi at Under the Big Top - Brandi and I met sophomore year of high school, so 17 years ago (eep!) and lost touch after high school, but reconnected recently on Facebook. She has FOUR kids, and somehow finds time to write about them, which amazes me. She just started writing this month, and I'm excited to see where it takes her.
6. Kim at The Darwin Exception - Kim and I met online probably 8 or 9, years ago when I worked at IndyNet and had WAY too much free time to dork around online because I didn't have any work to do during the 8 hours a day I had to be there. And she is hilarious. She lives in this backwards town in New York State, and writes about all of the colorful characters who live there, too. She's also extremely involved in Court TV, to the point of being a contributor to a book about one trial, was it Scott Peterson? I forget... But if you like Court TV or watching infamous trials, you really should read Kim's coverage, because it is more detailed than any I've ever read. One of these days I'll write about the time I sent the SWAT team to Kim's house (back when she lived in Florida) because I thought her husband had killed her. It's a hoot. (We haven't met in real life, but we've spoken on the phone and she's sent my kids presents, so I'm going to bend my own rules and include her. If I ever make it to New York, she's the first person on my list to visit!)
7. Last but not least, there's Michelle at The Kidd Korner - I can't remember when Michelle and I met, exactly, but it's been several years. She's the person who gave us the awesome train table that's in our living room! Her son B outgrew it. It's a favorite of the kids who come over to visit, and my kids of course. Michelle writes about her son and their activities. He's a big boy, so reading her blog gives me a taste of what my kids are going to be like in 5 years, and how very busy we will be!
I have to say that Jenny, Erin, Heather, Brandi, and Michelle's blogs are dear to my heart, because they started blogging after reading my humble little blog, here. It's humbling to inspire people to find their own voice, and to be able to express themselves in this unique way. I hope that they love it as much as I do.
When I began blogging, it was a way for me to keep our family (which is ginormous, including steps I once counted that I have 26 aunts and uncles) connected to my kids. It was also a way for me to keep a baby book for my kids (God knows that I'm never going to find time to do a proper paper baby book with snipped locks of hair and baby teeth in an envelope - I just don't have the skillz). In the year and a half that I've been writing, though, it has become so much more. There are so many women and men in the blogosphere who I count among my friends. There are dozens of wonderful blogs that I read every day - the list (which I desperately need to update) is there on the right. It truly is a community, and I am honored and blessed to be a part of it.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I see you!
I want that!
Pink (she doesn't know what they are, but she can say them)
Snack! (Yesterday she got into the cabinet, got out the Teddy Grahams, brought the box to me and yelled "Snack!" I love it when they get to the age that they can ask for what they want!)
Several letters as someone else sings the alphabet song, the most understandable being Y & Z
Of course, the ubiquitous, "Noooooooooo!"
She sings along with songs we listen to, especially doing the big chords by saying, "Dun dun dun," in key. This happens a lot when we're listening to Wicked. I can't describe it any better, hope you know what I mean....
Nie nie (Night night!)
She's learning words at a rate of one or two a day. It's fun to watch. I love this age. What's hard to believe is that Claire's the age Mary Grace was when Claire was born. How did I manage a newborn with a kid like this running around? Wow. No wonder that whole year is a blur.
Friday, September 26, 2008
The idea of the bailout is that the federal government is going to buy up all that bad debt (the mortgage securities) so that mortgage companies and banks can continue to lend money to people and businesses, so that we don't get into a situation where no one can get credit so no one can do work now and get paid later and everyone ends up having to close their businesses. Make sense?
In that sense, I think the bailout is probably a decent idea. I don't think we should just write these companies a blank check, though. As Clinton said on the Daily Show, I think we need to do it in such a way that the American Taxpayers see a profit on this investment in a few years, the way we did when he invested in Mexico.
I think we need to be patient and smart, and we need to learn a new way of operating in our personal financial lives. The personal is, after all, political. I think we need to get George W. Bush out of office, and I think he needs to be held accountable for the things he's done at Gitmo and in Iraq. I think we have a lot of hard work to do as a country, and I hope that in November we choose a leader who is capable of navigating our ship through the difficult years ahead. I hope that after tonight's debate, and the next few debates before the election, we can figure out which candidate will be that leader.
What do YOU think?
Second, did you hear about the preemie who weighs less than a can of pop? Yeah. A micropreemie was born to a mother who had preeclampsia. 10 ounces.
Gotta go, Claire's freaking out. The chili was awesome, by the way!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
You know how some days just come together and you feel like you're on top of your game? That's how I feel right now. All the plates are in the air and spinning. I've got it going on. My socks even match!
So, I won't be answering the phone today, because I don't want the other shoe to drop. Just leave a message or send an e-mail and I'll get back to you tomorrow, when everything hits the fan again and I'm standing waist-deep in broken china. How's that for mixed metaphors?
I'll address all the political junk later today (scroll down and read the comments on my last post, if you don't have any idea what I'm talking about), but for now, I'm at work, making the world safe for rockets, one check at a time.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
It wasn't a drive by! It was probably one of my relatives, actually. I totally suspected one of my uncles (who I dare not name), until our AC asserted her femininity. Therefore, in the interest of greater understanding, creating an open dialogue, and presenting all sides of what can be a very touchy debate, I bring you, part 2:
I didn't mean to get you all riled up, I just believe that a women should be covered while breastfeeding...and I am a woman. You do not have to use a flannel blanket or sit in your car, but it would be nice if you used a light cloth or something as it does make some people uncomfortable. Also, I saw in your post that you still allow one of your children to "noodle" if she falls down, is unhappy, etc. This is not a healty coping mechanism for her to learn. Sometimes a child must learn to get up, brush themselves off, cry a little bit, and move on. It's ok for a child to be upset. It's part of growing up. I know that is hard for a mother of a young child to comprehend as she doesn't want to lose her "babies," but down the line what is going to happen down the line? If she doesn't get into that Ivy League college that she applied for are you going to let her breastfeed to soothe her? I am sure you are a fabulous mother and I am sure your kids love you to death...I just have some opinions just like the next person.Hoo, boy!
I didn't mean to get you all riled up, I just believe that a women should be covered while breastfeeding...and I am a woman.That's not what you said. You said it should be illegal. As in, I'm in public nursing my child, and you see me and call the cops, and they come and cuff me and take me to jail, and obviously my baby isn't going to go to jail with me, so you separate us and put her in foster care or something. That's what would happen if it were "illegal." It's a far cry from being covered while nursing.
You do not have to use a flannel blanket or sit in your car, but it would be nice if you used a light cloth or something as it does make some people uncomfortable.
Also, I saw in your post that you still allow one of your children to "noodle" if she falls down, is unhappy, etc. This is not a healty coping mechanism for her to learn.
Sometimes a child must learn to get up, brush themselves off, cry a little bit, and move on. It's ok for a child to be upset. It's part of growing up.
I know that is hard for a mother of a young child to comprehend as she doesn't want to lose her "babies," but down the line what is going to happen down the line?
If she doesn't get into that Ivy League college that she applied for are you going to let her breastfeed to soothe her? I am sure you are a fabulous mother and I am sure your kids love you to death...I just have some opinions just like the next person.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I have been known to talk on the phone (usually with Mimi) and go to the bathroom at the same time, but only when I'm at home.
There is something so creepy about public bathroom cell phone usage, and I can't put my finger on what it is... Is it that most cell phones have cameras? Is it just that an important privacy boundary is being crossed? Is it that it's ok for someone who is also making bathroom sounds to hear me making bathroom sounds, but once they're opening up a line of communication to the outside world of people who are not currently engaged in making bathroom sounds, some line is crossed?
I don't know, but it completely creeps me out. So please, don't do it. Ever. Public bathrooms should be a cell phone free zone.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
"I tricked the cat, Mommy! I'm going to trick you! Poof!"
(Her usage, while not strictly correct, actually makes a lot of sense, and shows higher-level awareness of grammar and how verbs are formed than she probably should have at age 3.)
Good news - we're done with shots until she's 4!
I walk out of the office after the shots, and there is a guy sitting in the waiting room in chains! Literally!! He had a shaved head and a bunch of tattoos on the back of his neck, and he had his wrists chained together behind his back, and these big white mittens over his hands, and a prison jumpsuit, and chains between his ankles. There were two guards - one male and one female - with him. It was like walking out of a doctor's appointment to see that Hannibal Lechter was the next patient! So, I stopped to make Claire's appointment for her 2 year visit, and wrote "WHAT THE HELL?!?" on one of the reminder cards and handed it to Kathy, who does Dr. M's scheduling. She whispered, "State hospital," to me - as in State Mental Hospital.
Excellent! Not only is there a violent person in the waiting room where I'm standing with my baby, there's a violent CRAZY person who may think that this is his only chance to escape in the waiting room where I'm standing with my baby.
I said to Kathy, "Gee, that's the kind of situation that house calls were made for, don'tcha think?"
She just laughed and said, "Yeah, we'll see you in March, if he doesn't kill us all on the way out."
Exciting stuff, huh?
In other news, the roofers were just here to quote repairs on our family room roof/ceiling. $2500. Ouch. But it could be a lot worse.
Life is really expensive.
I need to get these kids down for nap before their heads explode, then I think I'm going to have some ice cream, because it's good for my sore throat...
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Hi-freakin'-larious. I don't care what your politics are, that was just too funny. Could she be any more like Palin? They must have been separated at birth. (Sorry about the ad. It's from NBC's website, though, so it's all nice and legal.)