Sunday, January 31, 2010

let it snow

love snow days, long weekends and quality time with p!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

tax perks of having babies

i love doing taxes. perhaps it is the nerdy accounting major in me, but i look forward to collecting W-2s and filing out our 1040s each year. this year was especially exciting because we have parker, and everyone knows that babies = tax benefits! but really, how much do babies save on taxes? the major perks of having an infant (this list is by no means exclusive, so if i've left anything off, please share!):

1. $1,000 child tax credit (per child). this is my fav. benefit because it is a CREDIT not just a deduction. so if you owe $5,000 in taxes this year, this reduces your bill to $4,000. sweet! plus the AGI limit is $110,000 so most people qualify.

2. $3,650 personal exemption (per child). this helps reduce taxable income, but is not as nice as the child tax credit because it is a deduction. if you are in the 15% tax bracket, this saves $3,650*.15 = $548 back in your pocket . not too shabby!

3. 20-35% of $3,000 (per child) childcare tax credit. if you paid for childcare in 2009, part of it will likely come back in your pocket (making the financial burden of childcare a lil' more bearable). the income brackets are pretty tight for this with AGI>$43,000 only receiving 20%. so if you paid the maximum $3,000*.20 = $600 back in your pocket. obama is looking at widening the range for parents getting the 35% credit to $83,000. right low the maximum AGI for that bracket is $15,000, and i have a hard time believing there are many people out there with joint income < $15,000 who pay $3,000 in childcare costs every year.

4. $3,043 earned income credit. if you are in lower tax brackets, this can be a huge credit, but the AGI for mfj is around $40,000 so most working couples do not qualify. i'm not sure exactly how the calculator for this credit works, but turbo tax or taxact crunches the numbers and yields $0-$3,043 of money back to you.

in total, a baby will likely yield $1,500-$5,000 cash when you file taxes. definitely not a reason to have a baby, but a sweet chunk of change for helping raise a lil' one :).

another way to lower state income taxes is by opening up a qualified 529 college savings plan for your child. for parker, we opened up an account called "The Gift Plan." it has the lowest annual fee of the accounts i researched (i.e. versus Arvest or Fidelity 529 plans) and it is sold directly from the state, which is why contributions are deductible up to $10,000 for married filing joint. also, if your AGI < $60,000, you can apply for a matching grant of up to $500. (i'm not sure how hard it is to get accepted).

if you live outside arkansas, i recommend this article that recommends the best 529 plans by state: (i know there are a lot of readers from oklahoma and kiplinger recommends the Oklahoma College Savings Plan that is sponsored by the state. and for all you texans out there, texas does not have state income tax so you should just pick one of the top performing funds that is not state sponsored. Kansas--you can invest in any state's 529 plan and still deduct it from state income taxes)

well that's plenty of numbers for one day. we have been snowed in for two days and have nothing better to do :). love you all and hopefully happy tax time for all new parents out there!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

parker video: climbing stairs

here's is parker's latest activity of interest. love him!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

on making baby food

a few weeks ago i suddenly had an urge to start making parker's baby food. overall, it went better than expected! parker actually liked some of the food, and i felt good feeding him high quality, healthy foods. we still use store bought food for road trips and babysitters, but i'm trying to do homemade food as much as possible.

for our first experience, we made:
*sweet potatoes (his absolute fav!)
*pears (liked as well)
*avocado (eh, so so)
*carrots (not really a fan. i mixed them with cereal and formula and he liked them much better)
*mango (not so hot either)
*(bananas...i usually just mash up part of a banana every morning when i eat one. he LOVES bananas)

the website has some really good starter recipes. james just happened to have a few friends over, so i organized them into a baby food making assembly line. here is mark peeling and chopping the fruits and veggies:
it was really funny peeling the mango, pears, etc. b/c these are all foods that we do not enjoy (but parks is going to like them! i am determined :)). and here is a pic of my husband who was not so thrilled about making baby food, but obligingly smoothed the purees with our mini food processor:
they didn't have icecube trays at the neighborhood market by our house so i bought little 3oz cups instead and they work perfectly! and this entry wouldn't be complete without a picture of our love bug eating his appetizer puffs in his high chair!

love! if you haven't tried making baby food, i highly suggest having fun with it!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

beyonce style

CONGRATS TO MY LIL' SIS & BRETT who got engaged this weekend!!!! love you guys!!!! :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

parker video: flips

part of parker's daily routine is practicing his backflips and frontflips. this is from 2 months ago and parks is getting mad skills! :)

Parker flips from Silvy Kehrli on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


2010 resolutions:

1. lose 10 lbs (i'm 10 lbs. heavier then when we got married 2 years ago). actually there are days when i care, and other days when i tell myself there are more important things in life. however, i'm afraid that if i shrug off 10 lbs. then i might gain more, and i do have a lil' bit of a belly that would be nice to flatten before summer & pool season. then again, i'm probably going to get pregnant again soon so i go back and forth. if i replaced my daily dr. pepper with skim milk, i could probably lose 10 lbs, but d.p. is a highlight of my day and i don't know if it's worth giving up.

2. go to the gym more. if i go during my lunch break 2-3 days a week, that's a good start. then maybe once during the weekend and voila. james is doing p90x at home and i might do a few of the workouts with him after parker goes to bed. i love biggest loser and am going to try to do jumping jacks, crunches, pushups, etc. during the commercials instead of fast forwarding them. every little bit helps!

3. do more romantic things & acts of service for james. maybe clean & cook more often, too (maybe).

4. get to know my neighbors more. actually went to 2 neighbors homes last week so i'm off to a good start!

5. plan ahead for friends' birthdays, showers, etc.

6. make more baby food. not only does it save money, but homemade food has many nutritional benefits.

7. save more money. i might write a post about this soon, but i plan on putting more $ toward our house, upcoming car fund & parker's college fund.

what's not on the list:
*blog more (i love blogging, but there is just not enough time working full time and being a wife, parent, daughter, sister and friend)
*go out more
*take more road trips. we'll road trip for family but other than that i am all about getting to know the people who live close (fayetteville is often further than i want to drive).
*start a home-based business, j/k. actually, i plan on calling out on my blog anyone that asks me if want to "make a little extra money from home" or "have a mary kay facial." this year 10-15 peoplecome to mind--let's hope that number goes down in 2010.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

shopping cart/high chair cover

when parker turned 5 months old, i started looking for a cute high chair cover. we had one my mom found at a garage sale, and while it protected parker from germs, it wasn't exactly the epitome of cute. so i searched the internet for stylish high chair covers and stumbled upon this (from
love it! but $90? don't quite love it so much (see last post about being cheap). i couldn't find any other minky dot covers that i liked as much (target had the closest cover for around $20 or $25, but it didn't have any cushion). with my mom's help, we decided to make one. for less than $20, i give you our minky dot cover:
not bad for amateurs! we put a little too much stuffing in it, but it still serves its main purpose.
plus it has the added bonus of making parker happy when he sits in its plush yumminess. who wouldn't want to dine like this at hog haus?
and if parker gets hungry, he can just lean back into the pillow cover without bonking his head!
the only downside is that we usually get a few looks when we carry the cover into restaurants, but if it keeps parker happy for an hour and protects him from germs, i'll take it! knowing that i made it makes me happy, too.

hope everyone is having a great weekend! love yall!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

on date night

i know i'm in the minority on this one, but i think date night is overrated. every relationship is different, but neither james nor i are into solo dates v. much. don't get me wrong--quality time & communication are essential for marital success, but date nights? nah. we love spending time with friends, and having people over for dinner gives us the same high that date nights do for other people. even before we had parker, we rarely went on one-on-one dates. now they are even more rare and that is perfectly okay with us.

reasons why date night is overrated (for us):
1. we are extremely cheap frugal. paying $10 an hour (or whatever the going rate is)? plus dinner & a movie? no thank you!
2. neither of our families are within 4 hours. see number 1. (our families are very willing to watch parker when they come to visit and we are thankful).
3. it is exhausting to prep parker for time at someone else's house...pack his diaper bag, explain feeding & sleeping schedules, bring a pack & play, etc.
4. it is hard not to think about parker and wonder how he is doing while we are out. actually i don't really worry about him that much, but knowing he is sweetly sleeping at our house brings a feeling of peace.
5. it is easier to keep parker's routine consistent when we are watching him.
6. parker goes to bed around 7:30 or 8:00 every night and that leaves 2+ hrs of quality time every night.
7. we try to make a point to turn off the tv and computers after parker goes to bed (at least for a little while) to spend time together. the other night james lit a bunch of candles in our room and gave me an awesome massage, and i loved that (free) night much more than an expensive night on the town.
8. i have to dress up for work every day. when i come home, i just want to put on sweats and relax.

anyway, here are a couple fun dates we've gone on in the last few months...

razorback football game! my mom was in town, my neighbor gave us tickets for $1 and my sis and bro-in-law to be came along! go hogs!

my birthday! we had a coupon for ruth chris' and enjoyed the treat! (the place was packed on a thursday people really frequent this place in this recession? i couldn't believe it! must be expensable or something)delish!we might have to make this an annual event!out to eat after james' fire school graduation. his parents took us and parker!and then i dyed my hair brown, ha. david and sarah's wedding! great food and open bar, whattttt? so much fun!work christmas party. free food and drinks again!razorback basketball game. went with james' friend who had free tickets (and sat in j.b. hunt's wife's box! free drinks again!)hope everyone has a lovely night!!! the high tomorrow is 8 degrees here, eek! windchill -20 thursday. definitely not taking parker to a babysitter's house in this weather! :) love yall.

p.s. GO JAYHAWKS!!!! way to sneak one out tonight--you had me worried!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

9 months

22.5 lbs
29 in.
0 teeth

dear parks,
today you turned 9 months old! wow your first year is almost over! i am not ready for you to be a toddler. i still browse the newborn aisles of every retail stores just to look at all of the infant items even though you are too big for them. guess we'll just have to have another baby sometime soon :) (no we are not trying...very much still have an iud).
this month you hit a big milestone! you can now easily pull yourself to standing! you flirted with this trick late last month, but now you are a pro! we find you pulling up on ottomans, dining room table chairs, the mantle and bookshelves every day. it is absolutely precious when you scoot over to me and grab my hands, tuck your knees under and step up on your feet. dad and i help you practice walking and i know you will be on your own before we know it! you are still sleeping 8pm-6am-ish. i wish you would sleep in later in the mornings, but i can't complain. you also take 2 naps from 9-11am and 1-3pm. sometimes you wake up early from your naps and we get to meet grumpy parker:
but 98% of the time we love this little happy smile we see:
you still stick everything in your mouth. we didn't venture out and give you many new foods this month, so you sampled christmas ornaments instead. j/k. actually i tried to give you yogurt melts and you started gagging so dad swiftly swooped you up out of the high chair, gave you a couple of back thumps to get the melt out and you threw up all over the floor. i am so sorry, parker! no more food until you are at least 5 years old!!!
we traveled to kansas for a short christmas this year and i have a gazillion holiday pictures of you. we also went to the family christmas eve service at fellowship and had a great time singing christmas carols. you did awesome! the only minor glitch was that you ate the glowstick the ushers gave you and dad found glowing liquid on your lip--eek! other than that, we had a wonderful first christmas.
little guy, you are loved by so, so many people! i can't wait to see you continue to develop and turn into a "real person." you make me smile every single day.