Vote for my photo, please!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I entered a photo contest with this photo. The judges released 2nd and 3rd place today. My photo was selected as a runner up. I am really excited to find that out. Especially since my wife thinks the photo is too dark. This contest is unique as first place is still undecided. The decision is based on the votes/comments that are received on the blog. There were 64 entries. I am just excited to be runner up, but if you would like to help me out, feel free to check out the blog and leave a comment. My entry is #30. Of course if you see another photo you really like, you can vote for it too. I would be thrilled to receive a few votes.


How to increase your monthly income in five minutes

Thursday, January 29, 2009

So you are interested in increasing your monthly income in five minutes. According to HR Benefit's Alert's article, "Three ways employees can boost their income," the first one says:

"All they have to do is change their W-4 forms to avoid overwitholding. Federal law allows employees to revise their W-4s any time of the year.

Big tax refunds are bad

Economists say most people fill out W-4s too conservatively, and rarely change them after starting a new job. Of course, most people who claim too few W-4 exemptions do get bigger income tax refunds every April. But they’re essentially giving an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam for the majority of the year, and taking the money out of their own pockets."

So if you like giving the government your hard earned money interest-free, feel free to stop reading. This post is not for you. Likewise, if you using the government as your "official savings account to pay for your vacations and home improvements and don't plan to learn how to do it on your own and actually earn interest, then this post is not for you either.

The 2009 W-4 form is located on the IRS website and also your employer will have these same copies. Here is the IRS link for a PDF of the form. The form has a short worksheet to help you correctly identify what your deductions should be.

You can also use the IRS on-line calculator to see if you are currently correct. They say on their website that it is not as accurate as the actual form, I would recommend this as a rough suggestion, but do the form too if you are considering making an adjustment to your W-4.

Often I run into people who feel guilty claiming more deductions on their W-4, they seem to look at me as if it is dishonest. They feel their family of four should only claim 4 deductions. Well, let's look at a part of the form. Answer the questions honestly for your situation and then you will know what you should claim. I have taken this directly from the W-4 form worksheet.

Personal Allowances Worksheet (Keep for your records.)

A Enter “1” for yourself if no one else can claim you as a dependent

B Enter “1” if:
You are single and have only one job; or
You are married, have only one job, and your spouse does not work; or
Your wages from a second job or your spouse’s wages (or the total of both) are $1,500 or less.

C Enter “1” for your spouse. But, you may choose to enter “-0-” if you are married and have either a working spouse or more than one job. (Entering “-0-” may help you avoid having too little tax withheld.)

D Enter number of dependents (other than your spouse or yourself) you will claim on your tax return

E Enter “1” if you will file as head of household on your tax return (see conditions under Head of household)

F Enter “1” if you have at least $1,800 of child or dependent care expenses for which you plan to claim a credit

G Child Tax Credit (including additional child tax credit). See Pub. 972, Child Tax Credit, for more information.
If your total income will be less than $61,000 ($90,000 if married), enter “2” for each eligible child; then less “1” if you have three or more eligible children.
If your total income will be between $61,000 and $84,000 ($90,000 and $119,000 if married), enter “1” for each eligible child plus “1” additional if you have six or more eligible children.

H Add lines A through G and enter total here. (Note. This may be different from the number of exemptions you claim on your tax return.)

This does not include a worksheet you can also do if you itemize.

Some times I hear that people don't feel the change in their W-4 will make that much of a difference. Well, if each year you are getting a $4000 refund from federal. That is over $300 a month that could be added to your take home pay. That is some raise. What would you be able to do with an extra $300 a month? If things are tight in your financial pocketbooks, this is one area you can adjust and have benefit almost immediately. No you won't get a huge refund each year, but then again isn't that why they have savings accounts?

Lastly, one thing from my personal experience. I still claim 1 or 2 less than the federal government suggest, because I don't want to pay state taxes. I found out one year that I still got a federal refund, but owed that amount to the state. What a blow to the gut. So now I get a little bigger, but usually not large refund from federal and a small refund from state. Overall, I would rather have our money today and not a year from today. Just my preference and you are entitled to yours.



Friday, January 23, 2009


We mourn the loss of our beloved Benny

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Benny was a true beaver believer. He showed his spirit where ever he went. He served those who drove him well. Though the speedometer only read 19,ooo miles, we know that one can add 200K to that. Benny spent many years working for ODOT. The state benefits were nice. Regular oil changes and lots of open road, plus plenty of new people to come in contact with. At one point, Benny took on retirement with an ODOT Employee and his five vivacious boys. There he was treated well, but secretly those boys put him to the test. Then one day as he began to age, he was sold to us in 2003. When we got Benny he had some oil and exhaust issues. In fact, they were so bad that you were fumigated and bug free when you left the cab. As he aged he became slower never quite reaching 55mph,. Sure he would start reliably, but usually stalled 4 or 5 times before he acquiesced to the driver's will. You could almost here him say sure I'll take another trip to yard debree, if I have too (imagine Eore here). Yet in his advanced age there was always something joyous about having this stunning truck parked out front. I know I am not the only one who used it a as landmark. Some days I wonder now how I will ever find my home, without the orange beauty out front. I am certain oil changes because of mileage were not necessary as he never went 3,000 miles during our 5 year adventure but we gave him some anyway, and while I felt filling the gas tank to capacity was too much of a commitment for me to make, my heart often raced (out of fear I might get stuck some where) when pondering another adventure in my faithful Benny. I will miss you old friend.



My day at the DR's office

I took the two youngest in for shots today. I scheduled the appointment 6 months ago. Apparently, Hep A is a new vaccine that came up at our five year old appointment. (Our insurance doesn't pay for well visits except once every 3 years, so we did not know we needed it.) So we had to have a series of two shots six months apart. Well I went there only to find out we were four days early, but by days we were exactly 180 days. They informed me that there was a chance the state would reject it for being 4 days early and make her do it again. Meanwhile, both were to get flu shots. (I know the season is half over, but I only wanted to make one trip to the DR) Matthew decided he wanted to us the potty. (He has sat on occasion, but never has gone) I tried to get him to wait, but he began to scream, "I want to go potty!!!" over and over and over. So I gave in while we were discussing, whether to go ahead with the Hep A or not. Then we did Abigail's flu shot. Meanwhile Matthew was in the other room on the toilet, refusing to get off. After about 15 minutes, I decide to remove him and wash hands. He was okay with that until I tried to leave the bathroom. He grabbed the door and began to yell again, "I want to go potty!!!" So we end up giving the shot anyway to him, despite his protest. After the shot, guess what? He no longer needed to go potty. The office thought he came up with that to get out of his shot. Then on the drive home, I thought a bit. Back in December. I remember two Sunday when it hit 11:30 (nap time), he did the same thing at church. He would cry, "I want to go" and "I want to go potty" Both times were just a ploy to leave nursery, because he was tired, and he refussed to sit on the potty and let me know he wanted to go home. All I can say is he is a clever boy.


New subjects (these ones like to pose)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

All is not well in the Gatherum household, we had a recent protest against the photography management due to claims of unfair labor practices (ie making the kids have their picture taken). Given the level of turmoil I decided the best course of action was to sack/fire all of the labor and hire new talent. These new models are great, they sit, laydown, and even roleover. They sure know how to make eye contact and without and attitude. Best of all they work for food (and sleeping rights). -SG


The things you learn in nursery

I love to be in nursery. Some weeks are harder than other (lots of kids crying), some weeks are easier and go smoother. Today, after lesson and singing time we turned back on the primary music, the little girl in the red dress, started dancing by herself then in turn with each of the kids. She found one little boy who danced at her speed, the others were too slow and would fall down. These two danced for almost ten minutes. It was too cute how could we not let them. The last picture is of two of the small kids who wanted to dance too. They dance for a couple of minutes and then moved on to another activity. This is not something I would have ever thought of doing in nursery, but they had fun and it worked today. We also started a new game for at the end of nursery. We turn off the lights and everyone lays down and goes to sleep. When the lights come back on, I show them a picture of an animal and they act like the animal. Such as a frog, they ribbit and hop around.


Reading the scriptures

Thursday, January 15, 2009

As a mom, I try to make reading the scriptures a little more than read and close the book, we are done. However, I have two target groups in my house. Younger pre-reader and the young adult age. So I was looking for cool book marks to make for our reading online, when I found this website, called Read the Scriptures. I signed up and it emails me our daily assignment. You can follow along the seminary schedule or the gospel doctrine schedule or the standard start at the beginning way. You get daily reminders of your assignment and you can read online or even just listen to it. There a bunch of other options I haven't explored yet.

So I signed up our family to read the Doctrine and Covenants and then I signed up for a free BYU online course on the same book. I like the BYU class, because it often explains in great detail the events that lead up to that revelation. Oh, and we have a rule in our house: After we read a verse or two, that person has to ask a question. Any question is fine, that way we are taking a bit of time to make sure we are all listening and pondering what we are reading.

Then I signed the younger ones up for a daily reading of the Children's story book of Doctrine and Covenants. It links to the churches home page for the book. Every day Abigail wants to read. Some days we even read ahead and mark it off.

All in all this will work for now for our family. Soon enough we will have to try something new. Let us know what works in your house or any cool ideas you have heard of.


Ice Heron

Sunday, January 11, 2009

We meant to post some pictures of the winter storm here in Dec. I think this may be all you get. On one day, while driving, I saw a heron in the field. I hopped out of the car and literally began chasing it through a field as soon as I got closer. It would move further in the ice.


I like this dog

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I received this in an email a couple of days ago. It seemed so perfect with how I am feeling lately. I will explain below, but first the email I received.

An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard; I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.

He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep. (continued below)

An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.

The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour. This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: 'He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 - he's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?'

I am this morning feeling rather sleep deprived. We have been up with Matthew in the night the last two nights. After we went on our vacation in July, he got used to sleeping in the same room as us. We had a couch in our room and he has been sleeping there the last six months. We would try to put him in his room from time to time, but he would end up in our room. Well at least he slept through the night, so we were not in a hurry to force him to move.

Now that he is two and half. I know there are some milestones ahead of him. For example, some day he will give up his binky. Someday he will be ready to be potty trained. Both Matthew and I agree that today is not the day to do either of those things, so that left moving him to his own room.

On Monday I moved his couch to his room. Now he can sleep on his couch or his bed, but in his room. I started off with nap. It took him 3 times as long to fall asleep. He ended up having a short nap, because I had to pick up the girls from school. Same thing with yesterdays nap. Monday night he slept in his bed it took him over an hour to fall asleep (better than nap time), then up in the night. He woke me up only three times. Last night, he slept on his couch. He fell right to sleep in about an half hour. Wow, this is great, because maybe he is adjusting quickly right. No, I think he woke up four times last night. Each time sneaking into our room. This time he decided he was not going to get anywhere with mom, (smart boy) so he went and stood by his dad's side of the bed.

So now both of us are woke up and today the little boy is up and full of energy and I am ready for nap. The only problem is I don't have time for a nap today. Hmmm.... Meanwhile, my dog and cat are both asleep on the couch. Oh the life of a pet.