Friday Fun: Good Friday

by saacnmama and WCE

Many Totebag families will take part in a religious celebration of renewal and new life this weekend. It is tied to traditions around the world that greet the budding flowers, trees, and young livestock.

David Brooks’ column in the New York Times this week also seems fitting for this discussion:

Totebaggers, what does springtime look like in your household? Do you have decorations or traditions to celebrate the changing seasons?

Ask The Totebag: Generational Asset Transfer

by Sandwiched

I am an only child. My dad is 85; my mom is 78.  They are currently living in their own home, with no mortgage.  While they are generally healthy in the sense that neither is on a lot of medications, both have some level of non-Alzheimer’s cognitive impairment (my dad moderate, my mom slight.)

When we recently met with our lawyer, he recommended that they transfer the house ($250K) and all but $50K of their other assets (currently $400K or so)  to us, so that, if they wound up in a nursing home, they would qualify for Medicaid sooner. Their monthly income from pensions and SS would cover most of the cost a nursing home for ONE of them, so it would take awhile to spend down their current assets enough to qualify for medicaid.  Now if they BOTH wound up in a nursing home, that would be another story.

However, if they do this, then on paper it looks like we have a lot of money, so we wouldn’t qualify for financial aid next year when our daughter begins college (and our son two years after that).  (We have college savings, but were counting on aid covering at least a portion of the costs.) In theory we could use the money my parents gave us to cover what we won’t receive in aid, but we were told that we shouldn’t because if my parents do wind up in a nursing home, the Medicaid lookback would require us to use that money for their care.

My parents are okay with the idea (well, my mom is.  My dad doesn’t really have the capacity to make that kind of a decision anymore.)  But the whole suggestion feels a little fishy to me. It just doesn’t seem right to ask the taxpayers to potentially foot the bill for their care when they have a decent amount of money.

For the moment, we have chosen NOT to make this transfer.  My parents have increased their contributions into our daughter’s college fund, and have given us cash gifts for Christmas and birthdays as a way of decreasing their assets but still allowing us to feel “legitimate.”

Totebaggers, what you are thoughts on our situation? 

Coffee Talk: Has Facebook Jumped the Shark?

by Laura Davenport, aka WhiteFluffyIcing

I gave up Facebook for Lent, with the idea that I would use the regained time for spiritual development.  (Part of that was reading Killing Jesus, a quick and compelling retelling of the Gospels with additional context of what was going on in Rome at the time.)

It took about ten days for me to stop habitually picking up my phone to check my news feed.  It took another week or so to stop thinking of pithy one-liners to post (I fancy myself as a bit of a comedienne in the right settings).

But now, I don’t miss it.  I may not go back.  It’s kind of nice.

I ran across this piece about Facebook’s flaws and found myself nodding in agreement.

Totebaggers, has Facebook jumped the shark?  What will its replacement be?

Man Down (… Again)

by Laura Davenport, aka WhiteFluffyIcing

Gang, we need to talk.

We’ve lost another regular — this time, Mom of Three Teens.  (You may remember her post about favorite cookbooks, wherein she shared with us some of her experience of living in Rome.)

We are a remarkable community for many reasons, our collective civility being chief among them.  But sometimes we slip up.

MOTT cared enough to write in and inform me of her reasoning, so I thought we might walk through this as a bit of a case study.

Take a look at the comments from our March 27 post.  MOTT makes her first comment at 2:23.  She goes back and forth with Rhett a couple of times, and then our elusive friend Kaleberg later makes a reference to her statements.

An excerpt of her email to me:

I will allow that I poorly made my point in my initial post.  However, I was truly offended by one poster’s two responses to my original comment and to my clarifying point.  He deliberately twisted my writing and his comments deeply insulted me.  Another poster’s comment several hours later about the “self-pitying rich” just added to my irritation.  On this blog, we are, by and large, strangers to one another and we trust each other to treat every comment with respect.  It is this trust that makes following and participating in this blog an enjoyable pastime for its …  followers.  In my “real life,” I would not allow myself to be insulted by a stranger in front of [hundreds of ] other strangers.  The same standard applies to my social media life.

Totebaggers, can you see MOTT’s perspective and empathize with her reaction?  Is this bound to happen in an anonymous forum on the Internet?  This isn’t the first time we’ve irritated a regular to the point of them leaving us.  Are we doing our best in this arena?


Friday Fun: Reds vs. Whites

by saacnmama

The original Reds vs Whites is the question of appropriate accessory for your fries. Given the Totebaggy interest in all things food-related, and accepting the reality that we are not *all* dazzling cooks, even if we do like to eat well, let’s talk about what goes with what. This might be food that you like to eat together even if they don’t touch each other, like bacon and eggs, or could be a seasoning or sauce that you use on a food.

I’m a sucker for the combo of goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and herbs on just about anything, especially if you add pine nuts.

I first “discovered” cardamom as a spice in my Somali friends’ tea, then later was shocked to recognize that I’d enjoyed it in cookies for Weihnachten (Christmas) for years.

As much as I love stewed rhubarb and my great-grandmother’s recipe for rhubarb coffee cake, I cannot imagine rhubarb pie without the strawberries.

Totebaggers, do you have any favorite flavor combinations or rules of thumb that always do it for you? Have you discovered secret formulae that pique your loved one’s taste buds every time? Are there common pairings that simply do not work for you? 

Ask The Totebag: Planning For Summer

by SWVA Mom

I saw this column in my local news feed and immediately thought of The Totebag:

As a kid, my mom initially stayed at home and then went back to work teaching, so I spent my summer days at the pool, library, and playing outside with friends. Camp was one week at Girl Scout, 4-H, or church camp, maybe a special academic program here or there. As a parent, I have been lucky so far that my daughter’s child care center offers a full-day summer program for school-age kids. I’m not sure when she will age out of that, but I’ve got a few years. After that, who knows…

So Totebaggers, what are your kids doing this summer? What are the best and worst camps your kids have experienced? If your kids do camps, how do you handle shuttling them around?