Surviving Tax Season 


Tax time is here.  1099s and W-2s are on their way.  I know this because I have gotten a lot busier at my job as an accounting assistant.  Of course I am one of those people who enjoy doing their taxes.  I know, CRAZY.  But I guess that’s why I work in accounting.

I always found taxes are pretty straight forward as long as you have good records and all your tax documents (good tax prep software helps too).  But I am learning that for some people taxes can be difficult and time consuming.  Especially for people who own a business.  Last year was the first time I had a business to report on my taxes, and it was a learning process.  One of the best tools to help with keeping your business organized and ready for tax season is good accounting software.  At my work I do bookkeeping for several businesses and I use QuickBooks.  I love using QuickBooks so much at work I ended up buying it for my home office.

412xioca-xl-_sl160_ QuickBooks offers both a desktop version and an online version.  The Online version charges monthly, but is easily accessible from anywhere.  The online version is always up to date with the latest in QuickBooks, but can become costly over time.  The desktop version is paid for at one time and can only be accessed on the computer it is installed.  The upside to the desktop is it costs less over time, and you can use one version for a few years (unless you are in accounting and need to update each year).

Keeping good books for your business and good records for your deductions and write-offs is a great way to make the tax season go smoother.  Staying organized is key.  Keep all receipts that are business or deductible related and set up folders to separate different items (like sales vs purchases).  If you own a small business and work from home, a good home office is very helpful.  Try not to have all of your business stuff mixed with your personal stuff.  When I started my business I opened a checking account specifically for the business so that I could keep business expenses separate from personal.  It really helps to keep things organized.

Having organization and good accounting records can really help you out during the tax season.  Not everyone needs to go to an accountant to get their taxes done.  Tax software can be a less expensive way to complete your taxes.  I have worked with TurboTax and really like it because it is step-by-step and guides you through everything you need to know to get things completed.  Of course, some people may have larger businesses or more complex situations, in which case I do recommend an accountant.  Good accountants know their job well, and can help you get the most out of your taxes.  Good luck to all this tax season.


Help Kids Enjoy Reading


Reading has always been a passion of mine.  My mother told me that when I was a toddler (before I could read), I would grab stacks of books and tell the stories how I remembered them or make something up.  I don’t think there has ever been a time when I didn’t enjoy reading.  Okay, that isn’t true.  I really don’t enjoy reading text books.  I learned to skim through those in college.

I have two children who love to read as well, but it wasn’t always that way.  Trying to get my kids to read was a very difficult task to start with and I couldn’t understand why.  How could they not love reading as much as I love to read?  When I brought this dilemma up to my husband, he informed me that he didn’t like to read until he was an adult.  I was in shock because my husband reads all the time.  But I guess as a child/teen it seemed more like a chore to him.

I thought about what my husband had said and decided I didn’t want reading to seem like a chore for my kids.  It should be enjoyable.  So, I set out to make reading fun.

I started out by giving the kids incentives to read more.  I made reading charts and they got to put stickers on their chart for every 15 minutes of reading they completed.  Once their chart was complete they could get something from the bookstore.  That worked a little to start with, but the kids got bored with the chart, and they were content on not getting a prize.

The next thing I tried was finding books they would enjoy.  I would take them to the library and let them look for different books they wanted, and also made some suggestions of my own.  I had done quite a bit of research for what was popular based on their age groups.  My daughter, who is the oldest, finally go into the “Ivy and Bean” series by Annie Barrows, when she was around 7 or 8.  She ended up reading the entire series and moved on to other series like “Nancy Clancy” by Jane O’Conner, as she got older.  Now, at age 11, she enjoys the “Whatever After” series by Sarah Mlynowski , and the “Dork Diaries” by Rachel Renee Russell.  She also enjoys mysteries and wants to read some of the books I’ve read.

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My son was also difficult.  But I had learned from my daughter that it was just a matter of finding the right book.  To start with, I discovered that he liked history and stories based on actual events.  Together we discovered the “I Survived” series by Lauren Tarshis .  Each book follows a different child surviving an historical event.  My son then moved on to the “Jedi Academy” series by Jeffrey Brown, and he still likes to re-read those books.  He is now 9 and loves the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series by Jeff Kinney, and graphic novels (not too graphic).

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I learned that in order to make reading fun for my kids I needed to listen to them and discover what would interest their minds.  My kids are now very avid readers, and I have since reinstated the reading chart.  Now we have a little family reading competition that has been going on for about a year.  Every time someone finishes a book within their reading level, they mark it on their chart.  First one to read 100 books gets a special prize that we all agreed would be suitable.  This has helped to encourage everyone in the house to read more, and makes for some friendly competition.  So far my son is winning.

“The 13th Reality” by James Dashner 

I love to read.  Young adult fiction is probably my favorite genre, and I enjoyed youth fiction as well.  I recently read “The 13th Reality” by James Dashner.  It is for young readers (tweens), and I really enjoyed this book.

The book follows a young boy named Tick, who is invited to become part of a group working to save the world (or better put, the realities).  Before Tick can join, however, he has to solve several riddles that are sent by letters.  You can read a full description on Goodreads.

This is the first book in a series, and I have also read the second book.  I am on the wait list for the 3rd book at my library.

To me, a good book is one that I have a hard time putting down.  I want to keep reading and find out more.   Each chapter of this book left me wanting to find out what was next.  This book is a great introduction to an adventurous series.  I definitely recommend it to middle school kids, teens, and adults.

Get it on Kindle

2017 Is Here

It is now 2017 and we are going into it with some crazy weather.  We have had snow and ice all this week.  I have missed two days of work, and I don’t know what tomorrow holds.  Will the roads be clear? Will I make it to work?  I sure hope so.

Since I have been stuck at home I have been able to work on some projects.   I am working on a special blanket for my husband and me.  We have been in our new house for a year now, and I had been recording the daily temperature for that first year.  The colors of each row of the blanket are determined by the temperature of the day they represent.  I still have a ways to go.

I have also been able to get a lot of reading done, and cleaning.  Of course, with my new roomba I got for Christmas, I can multi task pretty well.

41ng3yrleml-_sl160_I LOVE THIS VACUUM!

Yup, 2017 is here and it has brought crazy weather and productivity.  Now I need to get to work on my 2017 health goals. 😉


Winding Down 

2017 is fast approaching.  As a new year begins, I often reflect on the previous year.  2016 brought many wonderful things to my family.

The first major event was moving into our new home.  We went from a small home in a neighborhood, to a larger home with acreage.  It has been great being out in the country and away from neighbors.

I also managed to complete schooling for accounting and now have a new job in an accounting firm. And the kids have adjusted well.

Another major event for us was a trip to Disney World.  We had a great time.

Yes, 2016 was a very blessed year for us. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.


Our Thanksgiving at Disney World: With some tips

This year for Thanksgiving we took a family trip to Disney World. It was a week long vacation, and included a visit to Universal Studios. We had been planning this trip since last spring, and were super excited when the time finally arrived. The trip was a blast, but there are definitely some parts that I would have changed.
The first important thing to know is that Disney World the week of Thanksgiving is crowded. I am sure had we gone the week prior or after Thanksgiving we would have faced fewer crowds and probably saved money on our plane tickets. Be sure to plan around the busy seasons when going to Disney World. I think the next time we go it will be in February or sometime that is not very busy.

If the busy seasons are unavoidable due to scheduling, there are still ways to have a great time. When you are planning your trip be sure to download the Disney World app on your smart phone. This app really helped to make the trip go a lot smoother. I was able to make reservations for dining ahead of time, and even book fast passes once I had my park tickets. I also used the app to keep an eye on wait times for rides. This app was a time saver.

Both Disney World and Universal studios were really crowded. I was hoping to be able to explore the world of Harry Potter at Universal, but the roads were so crowded I could hardly get into any of the shops. The rides were amazing, but we had to wait in long lines. The lines were not as bad at Disney World, but that is because I was able to get fast passes for the more popular rides. Universal Studios offers a fast pass type option, but it costs more, and I preferred waiting in lines then spending a lot more money (they weren’t cheap). If you want to survive the lines at Disney World, get fast passes.

My kids are 8 and 11 years old, so they didn’t really care about the characters. They were all about the rides. We were able to go on every ride, as everyone met the height requirements. I think my favorite ride at Disney World is Soarin, and my favorite one at Universal Studios is the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride. If you have smaller children I do not recommend Universal Studios. Most of those rides had height requirements, and there are some pretty awesome roller coasters that you may want to wait for until your kids can join you.

wp-image-1136028995jpg.jpgHogwarts Castle in Universal Studios


We managed to save a great deal of money on tickets, as we got a military discount. We also stayed at the hotel on the Disney resort designated to military families. One thing we had to be a little more aware of with our spending was food. I found that it was less expensive to order kids meals (even for myself). The kids meals were about half the price of the regular meals, and no one knows who they are for if you are going to the counter service eateries. It doesn’t work, however, if you are at a sit-down restaurant.

Our trip was amazing even though the parks were crowded. We managed to have a great time and still do all the rides that we wanted. If you are planning a trip to Disney World try to plan for the off seasons, and get the app. I am hoping to return in about five years for my 40th birthday. Maybe then we will do a land and sea cruise.


Shopping for Clothes 

I signed up for Kidbox last September. If you don’t know, Kidbox is a subscription service for children’s clothing.  They send a box of clothes to your child 5 times a year.  There are no fees, and you only pay for clothes you want to keep.  If you decide to keep everything the cost is only $98 for the entire box.

I signed both of my children up. We just got the boxes last week.  I had contacted the company and while ago to find out why it was taking so long, and they said my son was in a very popular size and they had run out of items and were waiting for a new shipment.  so, it took a little bit.

When you first sign up you enter information about your child such as their size and style.  This helps the stylists pick out the right clothes.  Once you get your box, you have 7 days to decide what to keep.

The boxes came loaded with stuff, and they were all quality brands.  My son got 2 short sleeve shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, a zip up sweatshirt, and 2 pairs of pants. We ended up exchanging 3 items for different sizes.

My daughter got 3 long sleeve shirts, a dress, 4 sweaters and a pair of jeans. We are exchanging 2 items for different sizes.

Exchanging items is very easy, and shipping is free both ways.  My daughter didn’t care for one of the items in her box, but it was less expensive to keep the item then to return it since they give you a really good deal when you buy the whole box.  I figure we can give it to someone else as a gift.  Kidbox will also donate to a charity if you buy the box. My kids each got to pick a charity. They really enjoyed being a part of the entire process, and I enjoyed the convenience.

I really recommend Kidbox. It is fun, easy and affordable.  The quality of the clothes are good, and you can avoid fitting rooms, lines and dragging your kids around the store.