Moving Day

Well, the day has come that I have decided to move this thing to its own home. Please come visit me at fatdaddyesq.com. As you can see, I am taking everything with me and hope to have plenty of good content at the new home. Feel free to drop in while I am moving in and setting up.

And Now You Are One

Thing 1 and Thing 2 once again played the role of cutest flower girls in the world at a family member’s wedding. It has been a few years since my nuptials with Hot Momma, so I began to seriously question the state of marriage ceremonies these days when the priest advised the group at the rehearsal that some things are inappropriate for a wedding ceremony in the church and then proceeded to give the example that at the end of the last wedding he presided over the bridesmaids streaked down the aisle. I sat there pondering the logistics of such a feat (e.g. how did they get the dresses off so quickly?) as well as cliche manly thoughts (e.g. were they hot?). Then, realizing that I was having these thoughts in church, I snapped back to reality to discover the priest had actually said shrieked. Totally different.

The beautiful wedding was a traditional ceremony in a very ornate church complete with tall stained glass windows and a long center aisle which provided everyone with ample opportunity to see Thing 1 and Thing 2 strut their stuff. The bride looked good too. Everyone kept their clothes on, minimal shrieking occurred. The priest proclaimed that they were now joined together and not to let anyone separate them. Weddings make me reflect on Hot Momma’s and my oneness.

I remembered reading a post by J.D. Roth (no not that J.D. Roth) from GetRichSlowly.org discussing life after debt. He frequently shares that travel is an important interest in his life. He told us of a travel opportunity which had come up but questioned whether he could afford it. He said he needed to come up with his $5,600 by February and parenthetically explained that because he and his wife keep separate finances, she had to come up with her own $5,600 but that would not be a problem since she is the responsible one and has tons of money in savings.

FrugalDad.com had a guest post by Elle from CoupleMoney.com on setting up a financial system as a couple. She described her budgeting system in which she and her husband tally their family expenses and then deposit a proportional amount in accordance to their income. For example, if one spouse brings home 70% of the income, they deposit 70% of their income into the account from which they pay the family expenses. She says they “feel like proportional deposits are a more fair way to handle the bills” for them and acknowledges that everyone has their own budgeting system. She goes on to explain that “it’s fair for us because the bills don’t become a burden on one person.” To be fair, Elle does explain on her blog that she writes from her personal perspective and that you should appreciate that what works for them may not work for you.

Then there is Dave Ramsey’s take on marital budgeting. Anyone who has ever listened to Dave knows that he would disagree with J.D. and Elle. Ramsey’s explanation for combining finances is “when you budget together and put both incomes at the top of the page, and WE spend OUR income on paper and on purpose, WE have agreed on OUR goals and dreams. You need each other. As a long-term means of being effective with your money and marriage, you need to work together and have shared goals.”

While I can see how it could make things more convenient to just have yours, mine and ours; I tend to agree with Ramsey that a married couple should throw everything into a unified pot. Here are only a few reasons why:

Communication
If communication is key to a healthy marriage, communication on finances is one of the most important topics. Aside from communicating about longer-term goals and aspirations for their money, couples that are actually budgeting and tracking their spending need to communicate on the day-to-day spending so that it can be accounted for in the budget. If couples are able to communicate openly about money, they should be able to communicate effectively in other areas of their marriage.

Commitment
I am an attorney, I handle divorces, and I know that often one of the first things a spouse does when they decide they are getting divorced is to start putting money aside either to hide it from the other spouse or to have a cushion for starting their separate life. When a couple combines all assets it makes hiding away funds more difficult and, at least to me, shows a degree of commitment to the marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that people who have separate finances are less committed, but I know that it is significantly easier to begin the process of unwinding the joint venture when the accounts are already split.

Sharing
Yours and mine seems incongruent with being “joined together” in marriage. Maybe I’m old fashioned but, in contrast to Elle’s concern, I have never felt burdened by paying the majority of the family expenses since I am the main income producer. Hot Momma is primarily a stay-at-home mom. We made that choice together. I do not view it that I pay the bills or that she should contribute more to the bills. We pay the bills. She needn’t feel controlled and she doesn’t need permission, she is free to buy whatever she wants. The money is ours. We have already communicated our plans for money in our budget and if either of us is wanting to go off script we communicate again but the money is ours and it is a shared decision. It seems to me that it is hard to be selfish when you are sharing.

We are not the only couple that has benefitted from Dave Ramsey’s teachings. Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo claim that Dave Ramsey saved their sex life. So what do you think? Yours, mine and ours or we are one?

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Family Law Burnout

Lee Rosen of Divorce Discourse posted on reaching a breaking point in family law. One of the readers commented that having another practice area can help and Rosen commented that it would only work for lawyers smart enough to handle two practice areas. My response was as follows:

I have never viewed it as being smart enough to handle more than one practice area but more of a necessity as a small town attorney. While there are practice areas which I do not handle, e.g. bankruptcy or social security, it is generally accepted in our area that attorneys handle more than one practice area. While reading your post I had the same thought as Mr. Sanderson that it is easier to avoid burnout when I can scale back my family law cases and take on cases in other areas. While I agree that it would be great to be able to focus on only one practice area, I believe there are some benefits to a varied practice so long as you are providing competent representation.

Your timeline seems accurate, I have been practicing for six years now and I do not do as much family law work at the moment. I have tried to do a better job of screening clients on the front end and establishing boundaries so I get paid and so I get fewer Sunday night phone calls when the visitation exchange did not go perfectly by the court order but the kid did come back in one piece. I think client screening is one of the most important skills regardless of practice area to maintain sanity in the workplace for attorneys and the staff that will interact with those clients.

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I highly recommend Rosen’s site and have linked to it from the inception of this site. For those of you interested in technology in the law firm, he has many excellent posts and podcasts that have helped me in my position as honorary IT manager of my small firm.

Book Review – I’m With Fatty

Yesterday morning Hot Momma was watching Today on NBC as I was getting ready for work. An interview with some fat guy who wrote a book about being fat came on and she made sure to get my attention so that I could see the interview also. I was interested but I kind of blew her off because I was running late for work and frankly, she hurt my feelings. I know I’m fat but it is all the more painful to have the fact pointed out to you by your goddess-of-a-wife even when she loves you unconditionally and just wants what is best for you. I bought the book on my Kindle app for my iphone before I left the driveway, read 89% of it last night (on a Kindle so I don’t know how many pages that is) and finished it this morning. The book is I’m With Fatty: Losing Fifty Pounds in Fifty Miserable Weeks by Edward Ugel. You can find the Today show story here.

I started reading the book when I got home from work last night and could absolutely relate. A once athletic male becomes a middle-age overweight father whose love for food and lack of exercise has put him on a path of unhealthiness. The book chronicles Ugel’s year of wins and losses in incredibly honest detail. His description of the thought process and inner struggle that can take hold and allow a compulsive eater to make horrible food choices was eerily familiar. He also discusses starting a new exercise routine, hiring professional help, juice cleansing and colonics.

All things considered, I enjoyed this book. It made me think about my situation and ways I could use this book to further change my life for the better. You will be sorely disappointed if you are looking for a detailed meal plan and exercise routine. There are plenty of nuts and bolts books about eating less and exercising more. But this book gives an honest view of being a fat ass trying to slim down and has some laugh out loud parts too.

Personally, I found it interesting that the impetus for deciding to “get healthy” was Ugel learning from his wife that he snored and then learning from his doctor that he had sleep apnea and needed a CPAP machine. I too have a CPAP machine and I too learned of my condition thanks to my wife. The difference I guess is our reaction to the machine. Ugel was disgusted by the thought of wearing a CPAP mask and said “it was simply asking too much of my wife. Completely fat and the mask? No. She shouldn’t have to suffer through that, not even for me.” I don’t love my CPAP mask but after having it for a few years I have come to accept it. I think Hot Momma prefers me wearing the mask to hearing me snore or not hearing me breathe. But I realize that it keeps us from the kind of snuggling we used to enjoy in college. We have a king size bed and Thing 1 and Thing 2 crowd in often but there are times when it would be nice for Hot Momma and me to meet in the middle of the bed and fall asleep in a loving tangle. The CPAP is not really snuggle-friendly. So I agree with Ugel that my wife should not have to suffer through that, but I appreciate that she never makes me feel self conscious for wearing it.

I need to become the healthy man that Hot Momma and the two Things deserve (and don’t forget Thing 3 on the way). I need to become the healthy man that I deserve. I guess I’ll just have to come up with a different angle for my book chronicling my success since Ugel did a pretty good job of covering this one.

Dr. Seuss on the iPad

As I have stated before, Dr. Seuss is a big hit at our house. Also, the iPad is a big hit at our house, and office, and on vacation, etc. Well, you can imagine my delight when I learned that these two things could be combined for a super fun reading experience for Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Oceanhouse Media has, at current count, eleven Dr. Seuss books available to download to your iPhone or iPad and I hope they continue to expand their collection. These are just ebooks, they are enhanced ebooks that are truly amazing. You have the option to read the book yourself or have the book read to you. Additionally, you can touch a word or object and the book tells you the word or object you touched.

I love reading books with my girls. The Dr. Seuss apps on my iPad have made the experience really neat and I see a practical advantage as well. Sometimes Hot Momma or I read to them at bedtime. With the iPad we can turn off the lights and dim the screen so that they can start to get ready for sleep sooner while enjoying the book.

Last night, Thing 1 read Green Eggs and Ham all by herself while Thing 2 and I listened. Tonight we are scheduled to read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. It should be fun.

The iPad as a Laptop Replacement

I bought an iPad two weeks ago. I had been considering the purchase since the product was announced and did a fair amount of research on the product so that I would know what I was getting. Plus I already have an iPhone so I am very familiar with the interface, and so are my kids, as I’ll discuss. I have read many articles complaining that the iPad is nothing more than a huge iPhone and cannot replace a laptop for getting work done. I agree to some extent, but the fact that the iPad is like a huge iPhone is appealing to me because I like the touchscreen interface. At this point I would not scrap the laptop completely but I can see myself using my iPad for things that I used to use my netbook or bigger laptop.

I did buy the Apple Wireless Keyboard and find that it greatly improves my ability to draft longer items. The keyboard is very thin and light and is very easy to bring along with you. I find typing on the iPad screen very similar to typing on the iPhone and I have already become fairly comfortable but the wireless keyboard is much faster and allows for touch typing whereas the iPad screen keyboard seems to work better when I use more of a two finger approach.

I recently went on vacation and opted to take my iPad instead of my netbook. Here is a brief list of how I used my iPad on my vacation:

Viewing PDF files

As I have discussed before, my office has digital client files along with the paper files. I was able to load my iPad with files to review on the plane. I also loaded some magazines that I had scanned. Viewing PDF files is a much better experience on the iPad than on a netbook or laptop because of the ability to rotate the screen to read the document in portrait view rather than landscape.

Pictures

We took a lot of pictures on our trip. I used the Apple Camera Connection Kit and we were able to load pictures taken on our digital camera card and our iPhones for viewing on the iPad. The pictures look amazing on the iPad.

TV shows

I bought a season of an HBO series that I had not yet seen. It helped pass the time on the plane (when I was supposed to be viewing those client files, remember) until Thing 1 decided she wanted to watch some of the shows I had loaded on it for her. She is five years old and had no problem navigating the video app to view her shows because she is already a notch below expert at using my iPhone.

Internet Browsing

Once we were at our destination, I used the Safari app extensively to check out restaurants and attractions in addition to keeping track of the goings on with Facebook.

Kindle

The Kindle app is nice. I have a Kindle which I brought with me to use for reading outside. I also have the app on my iPhone. It is nice to be able to pick up wherever I left off on any of the platforms. I had a travel guide-book that I could use on my iPad and iPhone on my trip.

VPN + RDP

This is the thing that for me make this close to a laptop replacement. I was able to set up a VPN tunnel to our server and then use a remote desktop app to log in to my computer and the server from my iPad. There were a few issues that came up while I was out of the office and I was able to log in to the server and fix them without any problem as if  I was physically in the office. The connection is a little slow over the cellular connection but was workable and was even better when connected to Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

I often leave my bigger laptop docked at my office now anyway and would use my netbook to remote connect if needed. I still have my netbook and will probably still use it from time to time but now that I can use my iPad to remote connect I see less of  a need for the netbook. The iPad really provides a much better viewing experience than the netbook, especially for PDF files and pictures. One of the best things about traveling with the iPad was the ease of traveling with an iPad. The charging source is much smaller than with a laptop, the iPad itself is much thinner and lighter than a laptop, and I did not have to take it out of my carry-on bag at security. Unfortunately, I did still have to take off my shoes.

Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3?

In my inaugural post last year, along with a an explanation for the name of this blog I briefly introduced you to my wife, Hot Momma, and my girls, Thing 1 and Thing 2, which is of course a nod to their favorite author, Dr. Seuss. Well it appears that Thing 3 will be arriving this winter. Hot Momma, when she is not wanting to vomit, is ecstatic. I am looking forward to the experience but I am admittedly concerned about the prospects of raising three kids. I know it can be done, I know many others have raised many more, I know it will be fine. But it seems like a much bigger jump from two to three than it was from one to two. Table for four, ten minute wait. Table for five, it may be a while. Luckily, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are brilliant, as discussed here, and they should be in the running for some college scholarships to defray the high cost of college tuition. Time will tell as to what attributes and abilities Thing 3 will possess. If he/she is anything like his/her older sisters, he/she will be pretty awesome. (We will find out the gender of Thing 3 prior to his/her arrival but it is still too early to tell)

In May I posted about ONE Extraordinary Marriage, a new website dealing with marriage and intimacy building. Thanks to Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo, our marriage is very fulfilling and I believe we are better able to deal with the challenges of raising three kids while keeping up with all of the other demands of life. I just bought their new book, Stripped Down, and look forward to reading it with my wife to continue our efforts to maintain our marriage.



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