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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Foster Care Adoption: Do You Qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit?

To say we were shocked to find out we did actually qualify for the 2011 is an understatement!!  I'm not a CPA so if you adopted last year, you need to talk to a professional to see if you qualify but for those looking into adoption through foster care like we did, here's a few things we found out:

-Most kids in our foster care system are considered special needs.  Special needs can be because of their age, race, sibling group as well as medical needs.  As you know, our son is Native and was automatically considered special needs even though he has absolutely zero medical or psychological issues.  Because he was special needs, we qualified for the credit.

-The state paid all attorney fees, home study costs, and everything else that had to do with our adoption.  We had no out of pocket costs.  But the credit still applies because our son is considered special needs.

-Their is an income cap for adjusted gross income of around $185,000 and then the credit is phased out by $222,520.

-Say you didn't have $13,170 in tax in 2011 or say you don't have any tax liability last year (I say this because when my husband was in the military and deployed half the year, and we owned a house, we had 2 years where we owed nothing in tax), you still can get the the full $13,170 refunded!

Now, do I think you all should rush down to your local foster care office and adopt to get the credit, HECK NO!!!  But do I think it's amazing the government sees the need for adoptive families and are willing to give them a break on their taxes or reimburse some of the private adoption costs in order to allow more families the opportunity to adopt, YES I DO!!

Here is a link to the IRS' Six Things To Know About The Expanded Adoption Credit!

I'm Going to Be A Soccer Mom!

Where I live, 3 seems like the magic age where opportunities open up for kids to participate in activities such as soccer, swimming, gymnastics and so on.  I've not been tempted to send my oldest AJ to Little Gym classes at $17 an hour, but to pay $115 for 6 weeks of playing on the YMCA soccer team with a bunch of cute 3 year olds, I'm all in!  In May, AJ will play soccer on Monday and Wednesday evenings with 30 minutes of practice and then a 40 minute game.  My little man has so much energy that I think this is just the outlet he needs and he is so excited that he is a "big kid" now and can play soccer. 

Now it will be interesting to see if Dylan has a complete melt down the first time we arrive and he's not allowed to go play with his brother but it's life, and he'll have many more of these moments to deal with.  Like preschool, I'll save that for another day but AJ starts in August. 

It'll be interesting to see what each of the boys show natural talent in as far as sports.  The one sport I do not want them to play......hockey.  As you can imagine, it's a big sport here and these little kids are going on multiple out of state trips a year to compete and ice time is expensive.  So I have no intention in signing them up but once they are in elementary school if they really show a desire to join a hockey team then I will support it.  If you are interested in sports for toddlers, try YMCA or Boys and Girls Club websites for your local area.  Our local clubs seem to have a lot of great options and they even offer scholarships if your family is need of financial assistance!  I can't wait to post pictures here soon of AJ playing soccer!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What I've Learned Losing 10 pounds in 2 Months

One of the hardest parts about following Weight Watchers is that it's not meant to help people lose more than 1-2 lbs per week and so sometimes taking a month to lose 3-6 pounds seems unimpressive especially when you hear others doing diets where they are losing 6-7 pounds in the first week.  But I've learned to pay attention and take note of those who have lost weight and kept it off for a couple years at least.  In January I almost took down my fitness pal weight tracker at the top of my blog because it was a lie.  I'd lost 13 pounds but gained it all back.  But now, now I'm within 1 pound of that 13 pound marker so I'm going to just keep it up there and hopefully next week I'll even have to change the number to 14 lbs lost!  Here are a few things I've realized over the last couple months:

1) I used to cheat all through the weekend using all my weekly allowance points plus some.  That doesn't work for me because it usually takes 3-4 days of healthy eating just to lose the extra weight I gained over the weekend which was seriously slowing down my weight loss.  I also told my husband that I felt obligated to eat bad over the weekend as to  not upset him by saying we were going to have grilled chicken and salad for say a dinner on Saturday night because I know he loves to eat out and so i always just assumed that's what we would do.  Because his mood when we order in or go out to eat is significantly nicer/better than when I make a healthy balanced meal and for lack of better words, it's just not fair for him to base his mood on what we eat.  My cheat this weekend on Saturday was a steak and cheese sub at Subway (I'd usually opt for turkey breast and no cheese) and fat free frozen yogurt from Menchie's with a tablespoon of crushed oreos on top.  That's a far cry from say a burger and fries at Red Robin with a couple strawberry lemonades.  So I'm learning not to just indulge all weekend long!

2) Weigh and measure everything!!  I even weigh my grated cheese, I measure out my light sour cream, everything!!  I bought a digital scale and I weigh it and calculate points before I eat it!  That's why I also really love fresh produce that is zero points because then I don't have to weigh it or calculate points:)  It's tedious honestly to weigh and measure, but it's been really eye opening to see just how far off I used to be by eye balling servings.

3) Eating a salad for lunch has been a great way to get my veggie servings in and to reduce the amount of carbs I'm eating.  I read lots of blogs and one thing I noticed is a lot of the girls always were eating a big salad every single day.  It was just part of their routine so I've been making it part of my routine also.

4) It's been weeks since I went out to eat and ordered something over 11 points.  I wrote before how it was always just a given that it would be a cheat meal if I was eating out and I rarely even tried to choose something healthy.  Now, I look up the menu online before I head out and I calculate the points if it's just a local restaurant and I don't feel awkward when I order something healthy even if everyone else is ordering high calorie foods and it's been extremely helpful in reducing my overall anxiety while eating out.

5) Just take it one day at a time.  If I can say no to the Starbucks Mocha today and drink iced tea, that's a small victory.  If I choose to eat a big salad for dinner while my family is eating pizza, that's a small victory.  If I really wanted a bowl of ice cream before bed and I eat a grapefruit instead, that's a small victory.  But it doesn't mean I'm never going to have a mocha, pizza, or ice cream but the more times I can say no because there will always be an opportunity later to have those things, the better off I will be.  I've stopped thinking of it as can I give up this food for the rest of my life, I just think of it as can I give it up just for today.

6) I do not have the willpower yet to bake a whole cake or batch of cookies and only eat 1 serving.  I end up picking at it for an entire week and I don't lose weight.  If I bake cookies, I take 3 and freeze the rest.  If I make a cake or something that doesn't freeze well, I dump the rest in the trash after we've all had a serving.  If it's there, I'm going to eat it.

Those are the top 6 things I've learned so far and I'm so happy to finally see the scale moving down and being under my pre-pregnancy weight!  12 down, 60 more to go!