Monday, February 25, 2013

The incomparable worth of the human person: a beautiful article on my friends' son

What an example for all of us!! And how amazing the story of the confessions that took place during the wake. Thank you all for your prayers for their wonderful family.

An Awful Loss, A Beautiful Life, A Daunting Task

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Snapshots


I didn't give up blogging for Lent though I am trying to limit my time on the computer each day to make more time for prayer and time where I focus more on C. No more jumping quickly online "just to check real fast". Right. If you are someone who can check one thing online only, and then step away, please share your secret! :)

1) C turned 10 months yesterday!! I can hardly believe it!! I'll do a 10-month post at some point coming up, but mostly he is just full of fun these days. He LOVES to laugh and is becoming more and more social - smiling at strangers, although at the same time holding tightly to me. He really loves to be held these days... I don't mind a bit!!
Happy 10 months, C!!
2) Valentine's day - I made a nice dinner at home. For special occasions I like to spend more time in the kitchen, so here was our menu:

Pink ribbon on our centerpiece:



And I'm very bad at taking food pictures, so the only thing I have is a photo of our salad, haha. :)


3) DH's birthday was 5 days after Valentine's day... but that was a simple dinner at his request. We had an awesome weekend prior - his parents drove down to surprise him. They got there late in the evening, DH was distracted watching a Pens game, and I went upstairs to let them in and get out the cupcakes. When I went back downstairs, they were right behind me and we started singing Happy Birthday. There is an amazing GF bakery nearby where I purchased the cupcakes. I didn't want to make a cake and be stuck with the leftovers! Plus, I know DH prefers chocolate while I like vanilla, so it's nice to have the different options. He had a chococlate cupcake with coffee hazelnut frosting and I had an apple pie cupcake with maple frosting. Yummy! Anyway, DH was completely surprised, even though I came so close to giving it away a few times!! Happy Birthday to my Best Friend!! :)



4) The 40 bags in 40 days is going pretty well. I don't know that I'll come up with 40 bags again this year. (I've pared down a lot thanks to doing this in years past, plus in the last 10 months I've had to get rid of more due to a little man and all his belongings!) I have had a few shredding parties though, and managed to dump 4 garbage bags worth of old papers. I think more than anything, I love getting rid of paper clutter!!

5) A prayer request - the son of some friends of my hubby and me passed away earlier this week. Theirs is such a beautiful story. Their son had SMA. Anyway, if you would keep this family in your prayers, I know they would appreciate it.

6) Another prayer request - I found out earlier this week from a friend and colleague of mine that she and her husband have separated. They have 2 beautiful children. PLEASE keep them in your prayers that this is only temporary.

7) To end on a happy note.... someone has their first tooth now!!! And that someone received Penguins stickers to decorate the DocBand for Valentine's Day!! :-D

First tooth!! It finally came in last weekend!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Prayers, please!

This is for a special intention for a dear friend of mine. I cannot go into details as they are not my own, but please keep a young family in your prayers. 

I know I can count on all of you!! Your prayers are always so powerful!! Thank you!!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Nothing Box

Did you know that all men have a "Nothing Box"?

It was a priest who first shared this video during a talk he was giving to women. He is a wonderful priest and understands women very, very well!

This is hilarious!! :) If you're married, watch it with your hubby! If not, watch it anyway - you'll definitely be able to relate!! :-D


Happy Friday everyone! :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WHW: Organization - Tax Returns


It's that time of year again. :) The first year DH & I were married, we hired an accountant to do our taxes. It was definitely easier - I was self-employed and worked half a year in PA before we got married and I moved, plus it was our first time filing a joint return. After that first year, I was determined to resume doing them myself. I am an accountant's daughter, after all. I did have my Dad proof it that first year though! :) TurboTax makes it quite easy, I think.

Since I started doing my own taxes, I've come up with a few methods that really work for me, and I thought I'd share in case it might be helpful for you. 

Things that will make this year's return interesting:
I'm self-employed (this has gotten much easier; I will explain below)
We adopted in 2012 and now have to paper-file (we normally e-file)

What's working for me:

1) Quicken
I track all our accounts this way - we have a personal checking account, my business account, and a charitable giving account. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful Quicken has been! 

2) My business account - I make all my deposits from home. Once I deposit a check, I save the image as a PDF on my computer using the month and year, name, amount and check number- in my "Piano" folder in another folder marked "Deposits". This eliminates saving checks or paper. Yay!! :) (And yes, everything is backed up on an external drive.) In Quicken I use the "notes" section to indicate the deposited check number and name of the person writing the check. It's super easy to match with my PDF images of the checks should the IRS come knocking for an audit.

3) Charitable giving account - separate from our regular checking account. At the beginning of the month I transfer our planned giving amount to this account - one transaction. All checks and automatic withdrawals come from this account. Again, I track this in Quicken and indicate the check number in the notes section so I can match it to our bank records. 

*If you tithe, which we do, charitable giving is often one way the IRS comes to call. A separate account was recommended by our financial advisor, who was himself audited for this reason. 


During the year I keep paperwork related to our charitable giving in a file in our cabinet. It's easy - if something comes in the mail, I just file it. I don't like the chance of misplacing it so it immediately goes here. A few of the organizations we give to send statements multiple times per year, so I toss the old one when the new one comes. I also use this file to keep track of times we donate "goods" rather than money. 

I staple or paperclip the list of goods to the receipt the organization leaves at the door. If you schedule online pickups, organizations like Purple Heart and Lupus Foundation keep track of when you donated so you can print out a list at the end of the year. It's also helpful to take a photo of the donation in case audited, especially if it's a large donation. Just spread the stuff out before you put it in a bag or box and save that with the receipt or on your computer. 

4) This file tote. I got it during a sale. You certainly don't need anything fancy, but this works for me because it's all in one place. It's the perfect size for 10 hanging file folders.
Container Store Bristol Desktop File

Here is how I organize it:
I have 10 folders in the file box. One for each tax year.

A close-up.

So for tax year 2012, I will file our return in the file marked "2 - - 2". Then I'll shred the tax return for 2002, which is currently in the file. Since it's recommended you keep your returns for 3 years, I'm covered. I tend to keep them a little longer since I have a small business.

You can see a list of documents and how long to hold them on Suze Orman's site here.

  • Income Tax Returns (Please keep in mind that you can be audited by the IRS for no reason up to three years after you filed a tax return. If you omit 25% of your gross income that goes up to 6 years and if you don't file a tax return at all, there is no statute of limitations.)
  • And the IRS list found here.


5) Finally - this zippered file folder. It has a hot pink lining, how fun is that? It's the little things, people. :) Come January, any paperwork I need when starting our return is placed here - W2s, mortgage papers, charitable giving year-end letters, etc, go here.


Keeping those papers in one place is helpful when I sit down to use TurboTax. (I will confess I don't usually manage to enter everything at once. I will sometimes sit down and work on it as things come in. I like to have our return filed by the end of February!)

Do you have any tips for organizing your tax paperwork? Please share in the comments if you do! :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Adoption - Discernment

Questions for Adoptive Mothers -- or those Discerning Adoption:

1.  How did you know when to begin the adoption process?
DH & I had been trying to conceive for 3 1/2 years by the time we started to consider looking into adoption. We always talked about wanting a large family and we were open to life from the beginning of our marriage. I had already had 1 surgery to remove adhesions from 2 prior surgeries- a colectomy due to Crohn's disease. We really felt like we were coming to the end of treatment for IF - at least our options. Before we did decide on applying with the agency we chose, I decided to go through 2 more surgeries with my doctor (who had said after his first surgery with me that he recommended another). I didn't want regrets following me into adoption. We felt we were being open to life no matter how it came to us and we left that part up to God.

2.  Did you ever feel like you failed at TTC (and were giving up "trying") so that's why you adopted?  What suggestions do you have for those working through these emotions? We are still open to life if God chooses to bless us this way. :) I'm no longer on medications (right before we adopted we found out I wasn't actually ovulating - LUFS - luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome) and even with trigger shots, I wouldn't actually ovulate. That kind of led me to "give up" in a sense. I really felt that I needed to let God take over here - if he wants us to conceive, it's in his hands. We aren't focused on it like we were, but neither are we avoiding. I will add that it's really hard, after tracking my cycles for so long, to not consciously think "oh, I'm fertile now", but then I remember I might not actually ovulate. That still stings, but to a lesser degree now that we've adopted. I continue to pray that I be content - and happy - that adoption may be the way I am meant to always grow my family.

3.  Were you and your husband on the same page about adoption?  What suggestions do you have for a spouse who may not be as excited as the other about adoption? We were on the same page - as soon as I suggested contacting an agency to go to an info session, DH was all for it. I think he was ready even before I was, though he didn't mention it. But I think both of us were just getting tired of all the treatments; plus DH had already turned 40. Some agencies (not the one we chose) do not allow couples to adopt if you're over 45. That may be just newborns - you might be able to adopt older children - I can't recall exactly. But if you're the one ready? Just pray. Pray like mad! I would recommend St. Joseph as he was Jesus' adoptive father! :)

4.  How did you work through figuring out where to adopt from, how open to be, and what type of communication to have with your child's birthparents? We knew almost immediately we were interested in domestic adoption. I really had my heart set on a newborn - I wanted to be there for all the "firsts". Initially I would have said I didn't want an open adoption, yet the more we learned, the more we realized that it really was in the best interests of the child to have the option of contact - even if it wasn't much. I really felt it was in the child's best interest. Children are curious - and the more questions I was able to answer, I felt would be better for them.

5.  Adoption can be really expensive.  What recommendations do you have to work through the financial aspect of it all? 
Again, pray. Pray and trust that God will provide. We were fortunate to be able to put the funds together due to an old investment. I know there are grants (we wouldn't have qualified) and other options available, you just have to look. Also, many employers offer some reimbursement to the costs; the company my DH works with, does.

6.  Do you truly feel like a mother even though you didn't give birth?  If you've never been pregnant, do you feel like you missed out on this experience? Absolutely. I'm the one who got up with C in the middle of the night for feedings (and still do occasionally), I changed his diaper, and he knew my voice and recognized me as mom very quickly - I was amazed at how he would search for me. I am his mother - I'm who he knows. Same thing with DH. He's definitely C's dad! I can already tell they are going to be very much alike!! 
Sure - I miss the opportunity to be pregnant, but I realize that just may be the cross I always have to carry. I only pray that I can carry it better now than I have in the past. Perhaps some day I can say I no longer wish to conceive a child, but I'm not quite there yet.

7.  What prayers and/or books do you recommend for those discerning whether or not to pursue adoption? I enjoyed reading the following books. I also read a TON of blogs! :)

8.  What has been the best part about being an adoptive mother?
The joy. I LOVE being a mom. I know the wait prepared me to be a much better mom. I appreciate the little moments more, I'm much more patient than I thought I would be and I don't take anything for granted. I remember so well how much I went through to get here. And every day I get to wake up to this face....




If any you want to write your own post, here are the questions to copy & paste! :)
1.  How did you know when to begin the adoption process?
2.  Did you ever feel like you failed at TTC (and were giving up "trying") so that's why you adopted?  What suggestions do you have for those working through these emotions?3.  Were you and your husband on the same page about adoption?  What suggestions do you have for a spouse who may not be as excited as the other about adoption?
4.  How did you work through figuring out where to adopt from, how open to be, and what type of communication to have with your child's birthparents?
5.  Adoption can be really expensive.  What recommendations do you have to work through the financial aspect of it all?
6.  Do you truly feel like a mother even though you didn't give birth?  If you've never been pregnant, do you feel like you missed out on this experience?
7.  What prayers and/or books do you recommend for those discerning whether or not to pursue adoption?
8.  What has been the best part about being an adoptive mother?
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