Settling in

Finally the tax refund has been released.

Finally the State of Ohio has released my tax refund for payment. I can’t believe how long it has taken them. Admittedly I didn’t do my taxes until the beginning of April but it was still 5 months before they approved the payment with some rubbish excuse about not having Kristens SSN in the system (despite them taking her money in taxes from her payroll for the past two years). The cheques not arrived yet and I doubt I’ll get the 8% interest and $80 fine that they charge taxpayers for being late on their payments though.
Mind you, now that they’ve got everything finally sorted this year, hopefully I’ll be able to e-file next year.


Huh – I go outside to get stuff into the car for a picnic tonight and all of a sudden the tornado sirens go off. Apparently Dublin is in the path of a severe storm that could develop into tornado’s. I’m really not sure if a picnic is a good idea or not….

yard work isn’t fun…..

Actually it wasn’t bad working in the garden over the weekend even if I did get a little suntan/burn on the back of my neck. I really have the farmers tan now – but I think that is mainly because the rest of me is so white, anything non-white sticks out quite drastically 🙂 On Saturday we borrowed Kristen’s parents mower and I spent about 100 minutes mowing the back and front garden whilst Kristen and Mom weeded and raked up the fallen leaves that were left in the flower beds. By the end of the day we had sore backs and 10 lawn bags and 2 bins full of grass cuttings and leaves for the green disposal lorry to come and take away today. I’ve been trying to decide on whether to get a ride on mower (called lawn tractors nowadays) or whether to get a self propelled walk behind mower. The cost difference is pretty big but the ride-on would be much more comfortable but starting at $900 its a big outlay. The other thing is that there doesn’t seem to be anywhere you can actually try a tractor (although John Deere’s are all over the neighbourhood but I can’t afford one of those). I was favouring the craftsman mowers from sears until we found out that their cheapest one doesn’t have a gear system that you can change whilst driving – apparently you have to come to a stop to change gears (according to the sales person) but that strikes me as odd as you always move away from a standstill in first, so coming to a stop doesn’t make sense.
A google search for reconditioned, second hand or used mowers does not come up with anything in the vicinity and I am not aware of any mower shops (unlke Haslington mowers or Congleton Mowers back home in England). Any locals got any ideas or want to let me borrow their tractor for a test drive (I’ll even cut YOUR garden if I can try out your mower!)

1 year!

It’s been one year today, since we moved from the UK. In the past year that we’ve been here we’ve lived in two houses, purchased a house and a car, passed a driving test, called a plumber out three times, been to the vets twice, got a job each, driven lots, eaten lots, thought about getting a hottub OR a rideon tractor mower, found a great church and new friends, went to one wedding and a funeral, replaced all the exterior doors and windows, ended up with more (broken) tv’s and great furniture that we could use at any one time, passed 4 microsoft exams, broke the 400 geocache marker, got vonage and used skype a lot but not heard from many people in the uk (you know who you are!),got roped in to design 2 web sites (neither of which i’ve got very far with), got two fish, lost a fish, discovered Apples2Apples and many more things that I’m sure you can remember if you have been reading the blogs.

We’re off out to celebrate now – yummy burgers await.

Junkmail is a real pain in the neck

I would never have believed someone if they had told me how much junk mail gets sent to you after you purchase a house. I think (although I’m not positive) that Huntington must have sold my details on as all of a sudden I started to get letters, a lot of them looking as though they came from Huntington or were at the least endorsed by them, begging me to take out life insurance or mortgage protection to pay off my mortgage if I died or became too ill to work. I actually did reply to a couple of the letters out of curiosity but I’ve not had a reply. The cheekiest one came today which was made to look like a final demand!
To counteract all the rubbish that we are getting we have also had quite a few “welcome to the neighbourhood” brochures that I know was triggered when we informed the post office that we were moving (take note Royal Mail – this is a free service in the US!) – as we then started to get loads of offers. Fortunately we got an offer for a “free day of care” at a local chiropractor (Inner Health Chiropractor click this link to get your own coupon too and tell them Absoblogginlutely! sent you.) which came in really handy last Monday after straining my neck the previous Friday. I had rolled out of bed and then got stuck as the pain that shot through my head and back made it practically impossible to move. Fortunately I discovered that as long as I didn’t move and kept my head in one position it wasn’t too bad, so I spent most of the day at home working in front of the laptop screen catching up on some SBS training I need to do.
Anyway, on Monday we got this voucher and as my neck was still painful I made an appointment to see them. I was pretty nervous as I had no idea what would happen and half expected a “helga” to come out and practically rip my neck off.
I was pleasantly suprised to see the chiropractor looked normal and was very pleasant and kept asking if I had any questions. After a brief check to see how restricted my neck movement was (very) I laid face down on the table/chair and then he cracked my ribs by pushing down on the shoulderblades – a quick burst of pain but not too bad. Ditto when the neck was twisted to get back into re-alignment. I have no idea how they know just how far they can twist a neck without breaking it – I guess their first few attempts at University must be pretty nervewracking.
The next step of the treatment was the best though – they put some cold plates on my back which were attached to some electrodes to give a tingling sensation on the back, and then I laid down on some hotplates positioned in the small of my back and then the whole table gave a really nice rolling massage for about 10 minutes. It was then back for some more realigning and then I went back to work.
By the end of the day I had a storming headache (which I had been warned about) but the next day practically all of the stiffness in the neck had gone.
They did recommend that I come back 3 times a week for two weeks – but there is no way my bank balance can justify that – so I was really pleased that the neck was better the following day 🙂
That was about a week ago and I really should go back for another visit (if only to have another trial on the massage table) but the neck is pretty good now – slightly stiff if I strain it but ok.
Update Updated to add coupon details and link to Chiropractor

How to file a US tax return

Seeing as though I’d not received ANY communication from the IRS I thought I’d best start to prepare now before the end of March rush. Target were doing TaxCut Deluxe (State and something else) for $19.99 but naturally its not possible to actually buy it in the store as they have sold out. So first I headed off to the library where a mass of forms such as 1040. 1040A and 1040EZ (the latter sounds promising) were on display with about 30 extra schedules that I could have. I’m almost positive they invented an extra few characters of the alphabet so they could have schedule a,b,c,ñ etc.
Anyway, I take them home and decide to ring the IRS to see what they say. After ringing the helpline on 1800 829 1040 I enter the worlds most comprehensive (aka confusing) voice menu system. I’m currently programming a 2 layer deep voicemenu system for a customer and I thought this was confusing – however the IRS system must be about 8 or 9 layers deep. Naturally you enter a wrong choice and head off down a branch that you no longer need, but there is no option to get out of the branch and head back up or back to a receptionist. As I was stuck in a menu branch I just kept pressing buttons until I got through to a live person who had difficulty speaking english and promptly put me through to someone else who would help.
The second person actually understood what I was asking and said they were going to put me through to the tech centre. That was about 5 minutes before I started to post this blog item. In the meantime I’ve listened to several pieces of classical music and every 60 seconds or so I get asked to press 1 to continue in English or 2 to continue in Spanish – why they keep asking me to do this I have no idea. I’m just glad that I have a phone with a headset socket, free US calls so I can sit down and blog whilst waiting for them. Unfortunately as I sat down in the chair the phone beeped as I accidentally pushed a button – I really hope it wasn’t the 2 key and I end up speaking to someone in Spanish!
Ooh – they’ve answered.
So they now start asking me questions about whether I want to file seperately, joint etc. – thats one of the reasons I was ringing in the first place!

We have Stuff (tomorrow)

The movers rang back today and delighted us in saying that they were going to be able to move our UK stuff in tomorrow – we weren’t expecting it for at least another week. Unfortunately we don’t have any furniture ready for them although we did get our bed and a christmas tree installed today. – Tomorrow night it will be home sweet home!

Almost there….

Ok – NOW Im started to get a bit excited. In 46 minutes time, Kristen and I will start the process of signing our lives away when we close on our house. Now that it is finally here I just hope it all goes smoothly and I don’t get writers cramp.
Fortunately the snow hasn’t been too bad here so I don’t think it will have held up the sellers moving out process as moving contents in the snow can not be much fun – wouldn’t want to slip on the ice and snow. We will make sure that when we move in we pick a day that isn’t freezing cold or snowing or raining. We have the luxury in that we don’t have to move in on a specific day.

Update 2 hours later IT IS OURS AND WE HAVE THE KEYS – WOOHOO (now I’m excited)