Monday, July 11, 2011

Of IRS audits, air conditioning, broken bones and visitors from far a way

We were so unexpectedly delighted to find out that some changes in the Adoption Tax Credit were going to result in our return being larger than we had ever expected. We filed the forms, and began the wait for our direct deposit, as with every year since  direct deposit was  an option. Imagine my surprise and dismay when checking the IRS website "Where's My Return"  to find a notice saying our return was being "reviewed", we were not to send any documentation at this time  but to wait for up to 45 days for IRS to contact us and ask us.. I began to hear from a lot of adoptive families that this was  also happening to them. Our larger than "normal" returns were raising red flags with processors and  we as a huge group were being pulled for audit. As I've mentioned before, our central heating and cooling unit went out last summer and we had been counting on that money to replace the unit, knowing it would be COSTLY. We never dreamed in mid July we would still be waiting on a tax return over documents we have submitted over 5 years and followed IRS rules to submit. This in mind I called the IRS to ask if our case could be considered a hardship and a Tax Advocate assigned to adjudicate and perhaps  expedited our case. It has been summer in Oklahoma since May, with our temps over June and July so far being well over 100. PRETTY HARD  on a baby who is unable to thermo-regulate because he is missing that part of his brain to maintain when the inside of our house was 98 degrees a lot of days. Box fans helped a bit, but mostly only moved hot air. Going outside in the sun and coming in a few minutes later helped the healthy members of the family to re-group and to cope; we were able to borrow 2 small room AC units which helped some too, but overall, 107 is just plain HOT.  The IRS  agent was gruff to me at first because I had disregarded the 45 day instruction before I called but when I explained that 10 of us were living in a non-air conditioned house, he softened quickly and became VERY helpful. In less than the 10 days he told me it would take to hear  from a Tax Advocate to contact me about our case. The Advocate was very warm in her letter but required our supporting documents in SEVEN DAYS  from receipt of her letter! I spent every minute of those days putting receipts together with adoption decrees, travel documents...every thing that we had kept carefully filed  for"just in case" At 4:30 PM  on DAY SEVEN I faxed 131 pages of supporting evidence to "prove " to the IRS that we had indeed adopted the most recent 4 children and that they are real, live, breathing people and not tax cheat material. HOW the IRS can no possibly know how much money in fees the USCIS requires to even start an adoption and how much money in Home Study fees to get that USCIS documentation, how can IRS  not know that all adoption documents are required to be presented  at Social Security Administration to prove that said child exists and was legally adopted and allowed into the USA so that a Social Security Number may be assigned  so that said adoptive family could even CLAIM said child on the tax forms?? The changes made for this year made the "Credit'  a "Refund' so expense documents should have been a moot point, HAD IRS TRAINED ITS STAFF IN NEW LAWS and to EXPECT LARGER THAN USUAL REFUNDS FOR ADOPTIVE FAMILIES, but no. We were assigned the same IRS agents who ferret out real and potential  tax cheats, rather than being viewed as middle class folks following IRS instructions.  To support our hardship claim, I enclosed the weather reports from our newspaper for three weeks surrounding the audit document preparation time and photos of the thermostat on my dash board showing the time and date and 107 degrees.
 HOW GRATEFUL  I WAS  for the super lady who owns our local shipping office. Instead of the usual $1 per  page to fax documents, she helped me run the whole packet and confirmed that it was sent for me  and blessed me with a $12.50 bill!!!!!!!!!!!!! She told me that if any of my receipts from her  store had faded she would look them up in her files and make me new documents.  I wrote her a thank you note and left it on her desk after she left the store.

Assembling our doing 5 adoptions all at once!

The heat really was getting to be more than we could keep up with however so in anticipation of resolution , we took out a loan and bought a new AC system, which went in on Wednesday and  Thursday...just in time for the temperatures to hit 112-114 five days in a row!! I am trusting that we are completed in time for the first payment on the loan coz it's a DOOOOOZY! We DO need the tax refund for the AC unit; we just felt we could not wait until the end of August (the projected date of our return IF IRS  "likes" all that I sent them), we DO have a comfortable house, our Audit is submitted and life was going to be relaxing over the weekend, right?  ( I spent ALL day July 4th in the house with the audit docs while my family was out at the lake at our rented camp site) .   NO.   Thursday night, babysitting Charlie, Mady and Blake for Hannah and Jon, I volunteered to walk Sugar for Charlie. I picked up her reins and I "think"  touched her cheek and caused her to think I was ready for her to walk. NO.  She picked up her big foot and stepped on MY foot, my right big toe to be exact, squarely on my toe and somewhat on the rest of my toes. I know I shouted, realized it was hurt pretty badly, but kept enough presence of mind to grab Charlie from off of Sugar's back lest  she think she should take off in  trot-run..which had happened earlier that morning with 6 year old Mady on her back. NEITHER incident was Sugar's fault at ALL. With Mady, Sugar didn't realize that Mady didn't have the reins in hand, felt enough of a side kick to think she'd been told to go, and took off. Naomi and Mady had been running the horses in and out of the back yard all day so this was an expected reaction at that point in the routine. Thankfully, even though Sugar took off in full barrel race speed, Mady hung on to the saddle horn and didn't let go . Sugar took several laps around the pond, the barn and the pond again before racing around the barn one more time, bumping into the corner of the barn and causing her to stop and Mady to get off. i was right there when this happened so grabbed Charlie from Isaac  and sent him to go help Mady. OYE! I prayed over her so fervently as he  (and Sugar )  ran!  Brave kiddo that she is, with a     little urging from the Gi-Gi,  (that's me) Mady got back on Sugar and Isaac led them back to the porch from whence they had started.  With my foot, Sugar  just didn't know I was in the spot she was starting out for OR that I was not wearing my Ariat boots or that her foot could cause my foot extreme injury.  Shortly after I left my shoe in the yard and hobbled to the bathtub to rinse my toe and assess the damage, Hannah and Jon arrived for the children and Hannah heard the Tale of Sugar and Mamma. Unsqueamish as her Mamma, she looked it over , saw that it was "pretty awful' and took me tot he ER. WHEW!!! I graded this as "not as bad as passing a gall stone but worse than having a baby" and was so thankful that when the ER  doctor starting injecting anesthesia into my toe that he hit a nerve quickly and before he was even done injecting I was no longer in pain. Two + hours later I returned home and Hannah went to sleep. I was taking off  the immobilizer boot they'd given me  and realized that my foot was bleeding far  more than I'd been told to expect  so after a call to the ER to confirm, had Jael take me back to the ER. THIS TIME  they realized that my injury was not "just " the shattered bones in my toe that were so easily visible in the X-rays, but that the arteries and veins in my toe were also torn and not clotting off. 15 stitches later in my nail bed, the bone was no longer visible and the bleeding had pretty much been stopped. We did NOT take photos although the unsqueamish and medically curious nature of  my daughters and myself made it pretty tempting! The stitches will not come out for two weeks, and I see an orthopedic specialist tomorrow morning. Don't know what he can tell me other than "elevate your foot, ice it and take Motrin" . I was given IV antibiotics as well as oral follow-up meds because of the injury and exposure of the bone and the increased risk of bone infection, and also some pretty heavy duty pain meds. I am totally allergic to Codeine so the next tier drugs down  have to do. This stuff made me so loopy and sea-sick, I decided discomfort was better  and returned to Motrin. I could not put  a sentence together but was acutely aware of the fact. THAT was so frustrating, much to the amusement of my family since I am usually the uber articulate one. It was fun at my temporary expense, to have the verbal "upper hand" for a change.  I was not sorry to cut that game a bit short!!  All this to say I am even more thankful that we got the AC  put in because I am on very limited weight bearing restriction.  Saturday  Hannah and  my dear friend Jenny took me grocery shopping since I kind of missed that on Friday. Hannah pushed a Walmart wheel chair for me and as I directed Jenny and Hannah pulled my week's shopping needs off the shelves in what seemed to me, record breaking time!!!  I knew my dressing needed to be changed so Hannah volunteered to to that chore as well. Sweet Charlie -man, not to be left out or without an opportunity to help, picked up a pair of pliers an older boy /man person had left out and preceded to "help". As she cut the dressing off, Charlie pinched the toes on my other foot.
Every time Charlie sees a camera he says  "cheese" even when doing toe surgery!

Such dedication!!!
In other  Calico Acres Farm news, I found the most beautiful Alpine buckling to be my Fall 2011 "Stud Muffin" He is so sweet and social and I love his coloring! Our Spring 2012 babies are going to be gorgeous and again, coming from a great milk line himself, he will contribute to my goal of producing great  quality and quantity milk producing lines.
Meet Thor!
Since most of our horse owning experiences are happy ones, I'm sharing some photos of Mady and Naomi as they rode last week.Riding, or just being around horses, brings out the most beautiful smiles on Naomi's face

Mady and Sugar, Naomi and Lucky and Thunder, Sugar's colt, get ready for a ride

This is what I saw most of the day on Thursday...girls and horses heading out the gate!

and off they go!!!

And here she comes !

Taking a rest for a little while. These girls don't look like they know its 112 degrees out!

Madyson petting  Thunder
Today was a very special treat for me! My dear friend Susan and her family who live in California are traveling to Arkansas for some family business and wee able to fit a visit with us into the itinerary! We've been able to get together over the years a couple of times and it  is always WONDERFUL!!! Susan and Mike's older daughter who came to visit with them one time was in Cambodia  last year and was able to attend Malachi and Sopheak's wedding  adding a special international link to the event. Their son knows the children of our friends from the same Bible College in Arkansas and we also share in common that we have a Vietnamese daughter and Cambodian son who are almost the same ages. Susan and I met online through an adoption support group and communicate online pretty often. It is super special to get to meet face-to-face,  some of my cyber-met  friends , and meeting Susan has caused our two families to become friends as well.
Susan's son Zach loves horse back riding so it was no surprise that even in the heat, they spent as much of the afternoon out on the horses as they possibly cold. With a few breaks to swim in the pool and play Marco  Polo with Susan's husband Mike and the other kids, they rode and rode and their faces were exhuberant !!
Kallie had planned to ride but the heat, and the sight of my bandaged toe kind of put her off of her own riding but she and Rachel made up for not riding by swimming and I think a great time was had by all!!! There is a chance that they will come back through this way on their way home which would delight me no end, but Zach and Naomi are both talking about being able to ride together  again......................Susan and I have a lot of similar life-experiences beyond our children in that our parents have presented special  medical challenges to us as well and it was so good to have someone to share back and forth with about those issues. I have some really fun memories of being at Susan's parents' home several years back, and really enjoying their  company. My dad had died before that time , but since then, my mom had a severe stroke that changed life for her and all of us forever, Susan's mom had a severe stroke last year  that God chose to as His time to take her Home and Susan's dad is in Alzheimer's. I've been through the selling of parent's home and possessions, the nursing home selection and such, she is going through a lot of that  now . I don't have many friends who like me are still raising younger children while caring for aged  and/ or disabled parents. I hope that I can be and continue to  pray encouragement for her as she starts this project ahead of her.  All too soon it was time for them to leave, I'm so thankful for the time we had and that I was able to introduce Daniel to her . They were all so sweet and loving to him and Daniel snuggled right into Susan's shoulder, roared his sweet roaring talk and smiled his biggest smiles at her for quite a while. Shattered toe and throbbing stitched up nailbed pain or not, IRS  audit or not, life is go good and I am full of praise to our Heavenly Father for His goodness. I can  not say enough how blessed my life is!!!!!!!!!!


Mama D.'s Dozen said...

We, too, are DESPERATE for our tax refund. With Jim having been unemployed so much of the past 6 months (with no secure job in sight) we are not about to take out a loan.

So sorry about your toe. Yikes!

Glad we don't have your heat, but wish we had your pool. :)

I am dealing with the difficulties that my nearly blind 92 year old father is struggling with ... while still parenting 6 kids at home. Yesterday, dear Grampa was able to attend the wedding of one of his grandchildren. He was 43 when I was born, and never expected to see the birth of his grandchildren, much less their weddings. We are so blessed to still have him in our lives (even though he lives too far to see much of him).

Hoping that we can take another road trip this year (if we get our tax refund) and would love to come visit y'all again.


Laurel :)

Jill Samter Photography said...

Now that is what I call an awesome update! OUCH about your foot!

Love all the photos. Thunder is so cute!!!!

So glad you had time with Susan and her family!

Love you and missing you!