March 20, 2015

Family Binder

Look, a post NOT about Lily's monthly milestones! Madness! 
This is a project I have been working on for quite a while and finally finished enough to be able to share here - our family binder.


This past year has unfortunately been full of reminders that we are not promised our next breath, much less day or year. We have mourned both young and old, expected and sudden losses; taking comfort in the fact that all the people we lost knew Christ as their Savior. While this does not make us miss them less, it is a very different kind of grieving to do so with the hope  He has given us.

1 Thes. 4:13
One of the people who died suddenly was my grandfather. He lived his faith in a way that makes me want to love Jesus and the people around me more. After multiple heart attacks starting at 45 years old, he lived the next 35 years of his life as if each day was his last, but never coasting. He ran the race all the way through the finish line. He was a remarkable role model who still encourages me to love and live with purpose. As a (slightly obsessive) organizer, I was also inspired by how well my Papa had prepared and arranged for his eventual passing. He had a folder with his final wishes, will, passwords and financial account information together in one place. While having this information didn't make losing him any easier, it did make the legal and administrative side of his death smoother. I was so thankful that my grandmother, mom and aunts did not have to have that additional stress. Enter the family binder.


While the original point of the binder was to be prepared for Mike's or my death, I also expanded it for other emergencies, as well as being a landing place for the day to day running of our home. The first page of the binder is a copy of the safety plan that we are required by DHS (as a foster family) to have posted in our home. It has our emergency procedures for fire, tornado and blizzard; as well as the local phone numbers for police, fire, gas, poison control, first nurse and the DHS after hours line. It ends with a local contact (my sister Amanda, who lives in town) and our emergency contacts (both sets of parents).

Got over-excited with the black out there 
Next come pages for each family member. We each have  a medical page and a profile page. The medical information page includes information like blood type, location of vaccination record, personal history, family history, medications and allergies, as well as health insurance information and the phone numbers of primary and specialist physicians. I made different templates for adults, kids, and foster kids, but all include the basics (name, birthday, address) as well as family information, physical descriptions and a place for a photo. I hope to never have to use this, but would rather be prepared than try to remember this information to make a missing person's report, etc.


Next comes a profile page and financial page for my daycare "son". His page is a condensed version of the profile and medical pages, including birthday, parent contact info, identifying information, pediatrician and spaces for allergies/meds etc. as well as a photo. Then there is a page for me to keep basic records of the financial side of daycare for tax purposes.


I also made a template for the information a babysitter needs when we leave Lily for the evening - address, contact info, schedule, medical info (allergies, diaper rash, etc), information for when she's asleep (how to work the TV, what food to eat and internet password) and a repeat of the emergency information. This is actually laminated back to back with the safety plan and hanging on the fridge, so we can use dry erase marker to update it for specific dates.


Next come boring looking pages for:
  • Important contacts (who would need called in an emergency) - family, connection group, bosses, lawyer and executor of will etc.)
  • Important dates - birthdays, anniversaries
  • Our basic packing list for trips
  • Paint colors and my to-do list for the different rooms of the house 
  • Home Inventory - Room by room break down of items we would claim via insurance in the case of a major disaster or theft. 
After that there is a two week cleaning schedule designed to help me keep up with our house during nap times - one small task per day on top of the daily tasks like straightening up the living spaces, dishes and making beds. I also have a small version of this hanging on the fridge so I can cross the days off as I do them. Side note- I am the person who adds things I've forgotten to my to-do list just to cross them off. So satisfying!


Then I have a pair of pages dedicated to grocery shopping and meal planning. I am hoping to start being more organized in this part of our lives to 1) save money in the grocery budget and 2) actually make meals that we sit at the table as a family to eat when Lily is old enough for family meals. The idea is that I will have Post-It flags of our favorite meals to put on the different calendar squares. I can plan according to the grocery ads and what we have on hand. The supply list is meant to be a kind of inventory sheet for the staples of the pantry, fridge, freezer and baking cupboard (the pantry is small!) so I can scan it for things I would otherwise forget to re-buy.


Finally come the pages that inspired the whole binder:
  • A list of our account usernames and passwords, with a space at the bottom explaining my Facebook legacy contact and a request to back up pictures and blog posts for Lily. 
  • A list of monthly bills (provider, due date, account number and how we pay the bill) 
  • Our financial accounts (checking/savings/401(k)/credit cards) 
  • Important policies (life/car/home and health insurance) and 
  • And a list of the locations of other important documents and information. 
The last pages are basic outlines of our wishes for funeral services and a space to write an unofficial outline of what you would like your family/friends if you are incapacitated or die. Mine includes things like why I chose certain things on my final requests page and the basic contents of living and final wills.  This is also a chance to write a quick note to the people who using the binder to deal with the paperwork and legalities that accompany death, while also grieving your loss. This is by far the hardest part of the whole binder, but probably the most important. It's not about selfish desires, it's about removing the "well she mentioned wanting..." and the "would he want" moments for your family and friends.    


Having this all together is, of course, potentially dangerous in case of theft. I would not recommend leaving it laying about in your house, but kept in a safe place that a few special people know about. If anyone is interested in a blank copy of the binder for your own family, please let me know. I would love to help personalize it to your family (pet profiles, hurricanes instead of tornadoes, etc.)