Monday, August 23, 2010

The Family Pie

We are influenced by news that we hear and read about.  National and World events are happening at an ever-increasing rate of speed!  Often I count on my husband to update me on major happenings in the world.  I want to make sure I am getting the right story and the right take, though.  For me, the best way to understand an event is to recount my understanding of what happened.
So, how concerned are you about property or money settlement issues within your extended family?  I know it can be a sore spot.  When a parent or relative gives out holdings in an unfair way or in a way that people don't agree with, tensions within families can mount.  But is it worth killing your own family over?  C'mon, that is going waaaaay over the line in terms of my own understanding.  I say, just let them have the heirloom china and wish them good luck with it.  You can't take it with you anyway!

But that is exactly what happened over the weekend in Louisa, VA.  A man shot and killed his own son and nephew in an ongoing dispute over a piece of property, not to mention the 4 others that were wounded in the fray.  Then police shot and killed him after he fired on two deputies and released his pit bull on them. Apparently, this 1.5 acres was a real hot commodity among family members. Police were called on multiple occasions to settle property disputes amongst the clan.  But it never got violent until yesterday.  Well, sir, I hope you are happy.  You're dead, your son is dead, your nephew is dead and that ought to be a fun little party on the other side!  And who gets the 1.5 acres?  I guess whoever was left alive!  I hope the remaining relatives will be a little more wise.  Wow!  I used to live in VA.  I'd have to say you might be a redneck if... you bring out the .22 caliber when your limited vocabulary of "Thisheer is ma land, ain't no one else's!" fails to bring about a unanimous agreement!
May I suggest a few ways to insure a peaceful estate settlement when the time arrives?

1.  Only involve the individuals who are named in the will or trust.  The fewer outsiders and outside opinions, the better! Spouses and children who are not directly a part of the settlement don't need to be involved.

2.  Start the conversation!  Many times it is awkward to even mention that someone won't be around forever.  Many times people are afraid that they will sound greedy talking about estate affairs.  A possible good start to this conversation might be:  "Mom, Dad, I know you love us. You have taught us how to be thoughtful, caring people, by example. I am reasonably certain that you want us to care for you in your old age and for each other when you are gone. You could do a lot to keep the spirit of our family alive and healthy after you are gone by talking to us now. You could make it immensely easier on all of us by giving us some information about your wishes and plans. This is not about money. It is about relationships and trust and responsibility.”

3.  Establish trust between family members - Family history and child rearing methods of prior generations can foster distrust between siblings. Competition among siblings is common. Although it might not be the easiest time, it is a crucial time to build trust among family members.  Do so with open dialogue and transparency of intent.  Now is not the time to have hidden agendas.

4.  Learn as much as possible - Usually there is one primary executor but if the work is shared, not only is it easier on the executor, the beneficiaries will also have a better understanding of what is involved and have a greater stake in the best resolution for the whole family.

5.  Create Unity by:  Assuming the positive intent of others, not the negative, being openminded and knowing that everyone doesn't see things in exactly the same way, not allowing bullying, keeping things confidential between those involved, stay involved in the decision-making even though it may make you uncomfortable, have a sense of humor and stay connected in between official meetings.

6.  Have regularly appointed meetings to keep everyone abreast of developments and decisions.  It can be done in person, with conference calls or whatever way is best suited to your situation.

7.  Have fun in the process!  Make mundane things like moving the folks into the board and care home an adventure.  Have events where everyone can have fun interaction.  Great memories imprinted on the mind and in the heart make a solid foundation upon which to build your relationship bridge from Generation One to Generation Two.

Hopefully this will be a guide so that when you have to divide up the assets from the sale of the family home, you'll know exactly what to do!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Meteor Shower Debaucle

We decided at 12:00 am last night to head up the Canyon with our dog to one of the parks there and watch the Perseid Meteor Shower.  The Perseid Meteor Shower happens every year as a result of the super comet, Swift-Tuttle, and it's minuscule remains rocketing through the sky at incredible speeds.  It was at its height last night, averaging 40 - 50 sightings per hour.  Tonight will still be a good night to view it, although sightings will be down to 20 per hour (possibly higher in the northern hemisphere)!
Apparently, people are very much aware of this phenomenon and the parks were full of expectant observers.  We scouted out the park and found a wonderful spot to view the night sky.  We first put down a tarp, followed with two sleeping bags to lay on with two blankets on top and 4 pillows.  We were set!  It was so warm and comfy looking up at the night sky.  There must have been at least 150 people spread around the park, mostly younger, since midnight is a little hard for most folks to herd small children out to watch night spectacles like this! 
Every time a comet made a path across the night sky, there were exclamations, yells, screams, applause, you name it. This was a very enthusiastic crowd.  I wasn't above making a few appreciative exclamations myself!  I was prepared to spend several very enjoyable hours watching this, as our dog Evee curled up on one side and DH on the other.

All of a sudden people started yelling and screaming, only this time it wasn't because of any fireworks in the night sky.  The sprinklers had come on.  These sprinklers weren't just little sprayers either.  These were geysers, shooting water 100 feet in all directions.  We were right in the path of two of them.  I immediately shot up, grabbing my two pillows and flip flops.  Greg, on the other hand lay there, covering his head with the blankets.  I told him to "Get up!  Grab the stuff!"  A few seconds later he did.  But not before the water had soaked our spread pretty thoroughly.  His reasoning was that at least he was dry!

We took stock of the damage and being the survivors we are, decided to rearrange our pillows and blankets elsewhere where the sprinklers weren't on, as did the other observers in the area.  We found that if we flipped the tarp, blankets and pillows, they were still fairly dry.  So back down we went, thinking, "Wow!  The county might have known people would want to watch this...."

It was a beautiful 10 minutes....because that's all we had before the next set of sprinklers, in the path of which we were, went on full force. This time, I just stayed there keeping my head under the blankets until the full force of the water made a pass.  Now, everything was totally soaked and my night was done.  I was DONE.

So much for watching the beautiful display in the comfort of our makeshift observatory in the company of DH, maybe falling asleep in the warmth of his arms.  We had to cut bait and run! This is one where the story is better than the actual experience!  I believe Greg has his own version here!  (Hopefully our versions match!) Have a great day!



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Family Day At Lagoon!

These are selfless parents!

Aunt Alicia carrying someone else's floatie! Also very selfless!

Joseph and Brandon

Show me where to go, Dad!

I know what you're up to!

Uncle Leland getting some sun

The Thomas Family

Darn it, I was there, but didn't come up with any photos of myself!?  Maybe that's because it's my blog and I don't have to put photos of me in swim attire unless I want to!  My Blog, my say! Mwaa ha ha ha ha!

Little Karissa

These are a few pictures of my friend's cute little girl, baby Karissa. She is about 3 months old and is the most alert, petite little thing ever. She had a respiratory issue when she was first born, but luckily, is doing just fine now. Isn't she sweet?  She has a huge cowlick on the back of her head.  It just sticks straight up, and no matter how much her mom gels, slicks, combs or sprays, it just pops right back up, like a little rooster.  It just makes her that much more endearing!