Monday, May 10, 2010

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

I received Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Whitson on Thursday and couldn't put it down the whole weekend. The story revolves around civil war widows who want to make a new life by claiming homesteads in Nebraska. Sixteen women are going west together with train tickets purchased for them by the "Ladies Emigration Society". They find out later that this is not on the up and up.

Before you start to feel overwhelmed at the thought of keeping track of 16 women, the focus is on five of the ladies with glimpes at the others. And if millions of people can keep track of the first season of Lost, you can keep track of these ladies. The story is well worth it.

The five main ladies have to overcome things that are still around today. Ella feels like she is not a real woman because she is tall and "beefy" and not pretty to look at. Sally is overcoming an abusive relationship. Ruth is still grieving the loss of her true love after 3 years. Caroline has been branded a traitor by her family for her choice of husband. And Hettie . . . well you'll just have to wait to the end of the book to find out.

This is a very engaging tale that weaves God in subtly largely through Ella's mother, Zita. I do wish that there was a bit more about the spiritual transformation of the people, but I still give this book a big thumbs up.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Good News and Bad News

Good News/ Bad News #1
I got a notice from the county tax assessor the other day saying that we would owe less property taxes next year because our homes value had gone down by about 12%. At first I was excited. Let's face it; less taxes is nice. Then I was slightlly concerned. Did that mean we could even get what we owe out of our house if we tried to sell it? Good thing we don't forsee moving anytime soon.

Good News/Bad News #2- In which the helpful IRS agent turns it into all good news
I got a notice on Thursday that we owed the IRS an additional $2,000 +. This is on top of the money withheld and the money I sent a check for back in March. So I panic and then carefully read the documents that came with the notice. Turns out I forgot my kids SSN on the first page. So I call the 800 number expecting a rude IRS employee to tell me it will take forever and three forms to get the matter resolved and in the mean time I am still responsible for the two grand. Instead I get a very friendly IRS agent who has me verify some information and give the SSN. He then put me on hold then came back and said my 1040 was ammended and I wouldn't owe anything. Then he asked me if I wanted to take a deduction that I hadn't taken for the kids. I didn't even know for sure what it was but I said OK. He put me on hold again and came back with the announcement that I would get about $800 in a refund. Go, IRS guy.

Now don't start thinking that I have changed my mind about the IRS needing to go and be replaced with the FairTax. But it is nice to deal with pleasant, helpful people.