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Welcome to your January edition!
Another new year is upon us! Can you believe this is the 7th year of The Front Porch Magazine? It has been such a pleasure over the years to bring you the stories of so many of our Marley Park neighbors. If you or someone you know has a unique story to share with our readers, please reach out. I’d love to feature them as one of our cover stories this year!
Our goal has always been for The Front Porch to be FOR neighbors and BY neighbors. If you have an original recipe, a fun photo of your pet, original artwork, a fine art photography piece, or a photo showcasing your interior (or exterior) design talents, please submit it to me at Christie@AZLifestyleTeam.com and it may be printed in a future issue! This year we would also like to highlight and acknowledge major milestones and achievements of our neighbors. If you’re celebrating a milestone anniversary this year or if you or a family member has earned an award, a degree, or accomplished something great at school or work, get in touch and let’s share it with the world…or at least with Marley
Park! Additional submissions for community events, club/group meetings, and new baby announcements are welcome as well.
I hope you are leaving 2022 with a feeling of accomplishment and happy memories. Let’s enter 2023 with the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” The New Year is a clean slate. May you fill yours with all your dreams and wishes!
See you on The Front Porch!
NON-STRESS PAY ON DEATH DESIGNATIONS
To avoid probate, beneficiary designations work well for accounts and real estate, if you are leaving assets to a few people or charities.
Without a beneficiary designation or trust, you can avoid probate only if the assets do not exceed $100,000 of real property, $75,000 in personal property (cash, accounts and tangible personal property), or you do not expect more than $5,000 in wages in the year after your death.
For accounts, there several terms used: pay on death pay on death (or “POD”) or transfer on death (or “TOD”). For IRAs and 401ks, the terms “designated beneficiary” is used.
Financial institutions do not use the terms POD and TOD interchangeably. If you use one of the terms and are told that the bank does not have
that type of designation, then ask for the other type of designation, or even ask whether any beneficiary designation is available.
Remember never to list a minor on a designation for POD, TOD or IRA type account. A minor cannot receive more than $10,000 in a year without a court conservatorship; which is more costly than a probate and distributes the funds when the child reaches 18. In such cases, a revocable trust and Will are more effective and less expensive.
Sharon Ravenscroft, Esq., The Cavanagh Law Firm, PA, Sun City and Phoenix offices, (623) 815-7451 or Sravenscroft@CavanaghLaw. com
Sharon’s practice focuses on Wills, trusts, probate and trust administration. For more information www.sharonravenscroft.com
On Our Cover
Albert Ojeda grew up in Surprise. He attended Kingswood Elementary School in the Dysart School District and remembers Surprise before there was anything other than farmland south of Bell Road.
After losing his father at age 5 and with his mother struggling with addiction, Albert was taken in and raised by his aunt and uncle who became parents to him. He was a bright student who eased through elementary school but became a bit rebellious by the time he reached high school. Although he was offered scholarships to several universities, Albert chose not to avail himself of those opportunities.
Eventually, he enrolled in community college where he obtained his associate degree. He then transferred to Arizona State University where he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree followed by a Master’s Degree in Clinical Research.
Over the years, Albert has become an ambassador for the importance of higher education, specifically the role that community colleges play in helping students from nontraditional backgrounds enter universities. He has been invited to many public speaking engagements on this topic, including opening for a summit during the Obama Administration where he had the opportunity to meet Joe and Jill Biden and several other high-profile politicians and businesspeople.
Albert remembers when Marley Park was first developed and says he used to dream about living here someday. That dream came true just over a year ago, when he was able to purchase a home near Veranda Park.
Albert’s goal is to run for City Council or State Legislature in the future, but as a full-time single father to a 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl he wants to focus on raising his kids first. Both kids attend Marley Park Elementary School and Albert is proud to be raising them in Marley Park.
Submitted by Christie Giannetto | Marley Park Homeowner
Although experts have made great strides in understanding Down syndrome, there are still many misconceptions about the genetic disorder. Contrary to stereotypes, individuals with Down syndrome attend school, work, have meaningful relationships, vote, make their own decisions and contribute to society in many wonderful ways. Speaking from experience, having lived my life alongside my older sister who has Downs syndrome, positive support from the community enables people with Down syndrome to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
Here are a few myths debunked:
MYTH #1: Down Syndrome is a rare disorder. Down Syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition in people of all races and economic backgrounds. Approximately one in every 700 babies in the US is born with Down syndrome.
MYTH #2: People with Down syndrome cannot read or write. Most children with Down syndrome can learn
to read, write and spell, and many accelerate in their reading and writing development.
MYTH #3: People with Down syndrome cannot walk or play sports. An inability to walk is not a characteristic of Down syndrome. Individuals with Down syndrome have a variety of athletic abilities and levels of agility.
MYTH #4: Adults with Down syndrome cannot live independently. Many adults with Down syndrome in the U.S. live independently with limited assistance from family members or the state.
MYTH #5: Symptoms and characteristics of Down syndrome are the same for everyone. Although Down syndrome causes some distinct characteristics, each person will have different degrees of characteristics, and some of the features may not appear at all.
MYTH #6: Adults with Down syndrome are unable to form close interpersonal relationships. People with Down syndrome socialize and have meaningful relationships. Some choose to date, marry and start families. Another common misconception is that women with Down syndrome cannot have children. Although it’s true that a person with Down syndrome may have challenges in bearing a child, women who have Down syndrome can give birth to children.
MYTH #7: Adults with Down syndrome are unemployable. Individuals with Down syndrome want to be active contributors within their communities and achieve their highest level of self-reliance. One Step Beyond has developed several unique approaches that not only assist these individuals in fulfilling their dreams of attaining meaningful employment but ensures that employers are receiving valuable employees.
Submitted by Madison Blanton, of Arizona-based One Step Beyond, https://osbi.org/
What is Normal and How Do I Get There?
One of the most common questions I’m asked as a psychologist is if something is “normal.” The bottom line is this: Normal is what you know. Therefore, it’s very subjective.
By example, let’s compare Shameless, a train wreck of a show, to the idyllic Leave it to Beaver. If you were raised by the Cleavers, you have a wise father who works in a suit and tie and a near-flawless mother who is a domestic engineer in heels and pearls. If you were brought up in a house a la Shameless, you have a drug-abusing, absentee mother with untreated bipolar disorder and a narcissistic, alcoholic father who is into all measure of lying, cheating and stealing. What you’re used to will be seen as normal until your presented with an alternative.
Instead of “normal,” I invite people to look at behaviors as healthy vs. unhealthy. I also use words like “typical” or “atypical.” For instance, it may seem entirely abnormal for someone to have an abusive childhood and continue to find themselves in abusive, tumultuous or dramatic relationships as an adult. Why would they want that? Because that’s their “normal,” that’s what they know. I would even say that such a pattern is “not atypical,” which means not infrequent but not the rule either. I wouldn’t say it’s “normal”
because there are plenty of women with this history who are not in abusive relationships and some who absolutely refuse to be and look for the polar opposite. Yet there are plenty who find themselves in these repetitive patterns, so I wouldn’t classify it as “abnormal” either.
What can you do to discern whether you should make some changes in your life? Ask yourself one question: “If a friend of mine lived life the way I do, what would I THINK about it? How would I FEEL about their situation? Is there any BEHAVIOR change I would suggest?” Stepping outside of yourself can help you do an honest assessment of which parts of your life are healthy, life-generating ones, and which are unhealthy, soul-damaging ones.
For the full article, visit www.doctorbellingrodt. com. Check out free and paid training options at https://thepsychoeducationacademy.thinkific. com/collections.
DISCLAIMER: Material is for informational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for evaluation or treatment by a licensed professional. Material is copyrighted and may only be reproduced with written permission of Dr. Bellingrodt.
Submitted by Jennifer Bellingrodt, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist. For the full article and more, visit www.doctorbellingrodt.com.
Cowboy Caviar for New Year’s Celebrations
Tradition suggests that you eat black-eyed peas to welcome the New Year because as author John Egerton wrote in his book, Southern Food, they have a “mystical and mythical power to bring good luck.”
While the most common way to eat these beans is in a dish called “Hoppin’ John,” I prefer to enjoy them in Cowboy Caviar with tortilla chips while watching a college bowl game!
One 15-oz can Black-Eyed Peas, drained & rinsed
One 15-oz can Black Beans, drained & rinsed One 10-oz can Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles
1 Yellow Pepper, diced
½ C Red Onion, diced
1 Avocado, diced
3 T Olive Oil
2 T Red Wine Vinegar
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
½ tsp kosher Salt
½ tsp Cumin
½ tsp Black Pepper
Optional: Pickled Jalapeno slices to taste
Chopped Fresh Cilantro to taste
Mix everything together and let flavors blend an hour in the refrigerator before serving. The colors look especially bright and vibrant served with yellow and blue tortilla chips!
Home Sweet Home
A New Year Home Refresh
Start the new year off right! Use these tips to give your home a fresh look and feel this January.
Replace Your Hardware: It really is amazing what a difference new faucet, appliance, and even door handle hardware can make in your kitchen. Plus the options for this are both endless and affordable.
Give Love to Your Walls: A statement wall is a killer way to make a major change without spending much time or effort to do it. These walls have a special knack for making your design look rich and dynamic. If you’re worried about making a commitment you might regret, then consider that there are a ton of beautiful removable wallpaper options out there that you can take advantage of without committing too much. Rather than a statement wall, you could also arrange a few floating shelves to showcase some of your favorite knick-knacks, add a big piece of statement art, or create a chic and sophisticated gallery wall.
Update Your Window
Treatments: If your room is a photo, your window treatments are the frame, so switching these up is a super simple move that can completely transform the look of your space.
Swap Out Your Throw Pillows: Throw pillows are basically makeup for your living room allowing you to add great splashes of color. You can switch and swap them depending on your mood and the season, and the effect is nothing short of transformative.
Bring in a New Rug: Rugs have a special ability to add warmth and definition to the spaces they’re in. So, if you’re looking to redefine your space, there’s no better way to do it than with a new area rug.
Change Up Your Bedding: Your bed is the centerpiece of your bedroom. Therefore, if you’re looking to bring some more life to your bedroom design, then there’s no better way to do it than by updating your bedding. From a cozy bed featuring layers of big comfy blankets to cheerful pops of color and compelling textures, your options on this front are only limited by your imagination.
More than just fresh air, time spent outdoors has the power to boost physical and emotional strength
Whether you’re taking a stroll in a local park or ambitiously hiking a new trail, being outdoors helps you feel more grounded and connected to nature. But you may not realize the numerous physical and mental benefits that time spent outdoors has on the human body.
Mother Nature has a profound positive impact on people of all ages, but especially kids. Children’s natural curiosity makes the outdoors a place with endless possibilities. It’s where imaginations can take flight, they can observe biodiversity and learn more about their world around them, not to mention, move their bodies and breathe in some fresh air.
Here are some outdoor ideas that you can do any time of year with your family:
1. Visit a hiking trail you’ve never been to before, or try an evening hike and bring along a headlamp or flashlight to guide the way.
2. Explore free outdoor programs in your community at parks and nature centers.
3. Learn about astronomy and head outdoors at night to observe the stars.
4. Try your hand at geocaching, where you use a free app on your mobile device to find hidden spots.
5. Organize a game of backyard flashlight tag with family, friends and neighbors.
6. Try a new outdoor activity you haven’t done yet, especially in the winter months, like skating, snowshoeing or skiing.
7. Go outside and talk about how nature impacts the different senses - How does it feel, taste, sound, etc.?
9. Have a picnic outdoors! Or even try eating outside in the evening with flashlights and headlamps for extra fun.
Gianna was born at 4:38 p.m. on November 19th to Marley Park residents, Liliana and Franklin Saucedo.
She weighed in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces and was 20 inches long.
Welcome to Marley Park, Gianna!
How well do you know your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC, system? Like any product, you want to keep it in working order, and being HVAC savvy will help you keep this vital equipment working more efficiently regardless of the temperatures outside.
Here are some important aspects of your HVAC system you should know:
The Average Lifespan of HVAC
Generally, with proper maintenance most residential HVAC systems have a typical lifespan between 10 to 20 years. For instance, an increase in dust on surfaces in your home could be a signal to replace the furnace filter, which should be done monthly for optimal performance. Loud noises from the HVAC or inconsistent room temperature can also indicate the need for
maintenance or an upgrade. Although an HVAC may continue to provide comfort during this timeframe, the average homeowner may still seek to replace an HVAC system during this period for a variety of reasons, such as rising energy bills which could also be a signal that the HVAC is not operating as efficiently as newer models.
State-of-the-art HVAC Technology
While most people are familiar with central HVAC systems, some homeowners might not know about “mini-split” systems. A “mini-split” system, typically ductless, both heats and cools. There is an indoor and outdoor unit; the outdoor unit does most of the work while the indoor unit distributes the heating or cooling. This ductless system allows you to select comfort settings for each zone or room in your home and then control the temperature, volume, and direction of airflow, all according to your preference. ENERGY STAR certified models are available and, in addition to being more eco-friendly than a traditional HVAC system, can help cut your cooling costs by up to 30 percent.
Know the SEER Rating
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating of your air conditioner is a measurement of the product’s cooling output in comparison to the total electric energy input. The SEER rating, which can range from 13 to over 30, represents the heat pump cooling and air conditioning efficiency. In general, the higher the rating, the better. For example, your air conditioner should have a SEER rating of at least 14.5 to qualify as an ENERGY STAR product.
Keeping your heating, ventilation, and HVAC equipment well-maintained can have a significant effect on your utility bills and will help you catch small issues before they snowball into financial burdens. Replace the air filter regularly, have a maintenance expert evaluate your system twice a year in the spring and fall, and report any concerns to your HVAC provider between planned visits.
We plan ahead for the things in life we look forward to - the birth of a baby, weddings, vacations and holidays. It doesn’t come as naturally to plan for our funeral. It’s easier to avoid the conversation altogether. But, by discussing your personal wishes for your final arrangements, you can protect your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions in a time of immense grief, and potentially ease their financial obligations.
None of us wants to be a burden on those we love. Yet conversations around funeral planning can be tough. Some families find it more natural to discuss the details of their final wishes after the death of a friend or colleague. Others look for specific milestones, like birthdays or retirement. And some families don’t want to have the discussion at all, preferring to write their wishes down. (Just don’t forget to tell your loved ones where to find the document!)
Starting the conversation can be challenging, whether you’re talking about your funeral or asking a loved one how they want to be memorialized. Perhaps watch a movie with a funeral scene or even just schedule a casual conversation after dinner. Here are a few suggestions for kicking off the discussion:
* Do you want to be buried or cremated?
* Have I ever told you my
* If you could write your own eulogy, what would you say?
* Would you prefer a traditional funeral or more contemporary celebration of life?
If you’re still unsure how to broach the subject, The Insider’s Guide to Funeral & Cremation Planning is a great resource. Following along with the free guide will help you and your loved ones understand the steps of advance funeral planning. Or you can download Imagine, a free booklet that will help you design the one-of-a-kind service you’d like to have at DignityMemorial.com.
Remember that almost any funeral or cremation can be planned in advance, including the venue, catering, mementos and cemetery property, but you might be surprised at all there is to consider. A memorial service is unlike any other event, and, by some estimates, your loved ones could have up to 200 decisions to make in a short timeframe, during the darkest hours of their lives. The most memorable services are planned thoughtfully, with personalized touches that reflect the individual and bring comfort to those in attendance. A Dignity Memorial funeral director can help you navigate your options and develop a plan for a truly personalized event.
Talking openly about the memorial you envision - and encouraging your loved ones to do the same - removes the guesswork from the planning process, and the focus can stay on honoring a unique life lived and celebrating the moments you and your loved ones cherish.
This samurai sudoku puzzle is a great way to engage the brain and help develop logic skills. To solve this Samurai puzzle use standard sudoku rules for every 9x9 grid: each digit from 1 to 9 can only appear once in every row, column and 3x3 box. Good Luck!