Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas - Ready Set Go!

I'm almost ready for Christmas.  YES!  Presents bought, AND wrapped.  Unless I forgot to buy for someone completely, I'm done.  This is possible...it's happened before.  So in that case, I do have a couple boxes of chocolates ready as a just in case!

This is the very first year of the 12.5 years we've been married that we'll be spending it at home with me not working.  Yes, we've spent it at home before.  But when you are working 12 hour shifts on Christmas day it takes away from it all. 

I did not expect I'd be able to be home, but hubby's aunt and uncle live just outside of town, and invited hubby's mom, her husband, and his grandmother to come down.  We'll be heading to their place Christmas morning and doing a large family gift opening.  The stress that has been taken away of a) not having to work and b) not having to travel 500km for Christmas has actually made me excited for Christmas to come!  (Ok, the GLEE Christmas episode helped too!)

I havn't done any Christmas cards, partially because my daughters school pictures just came home yesterday.  I'll have to hand deliver the cards with pictures in them to the relatives as we see them over Christmas.

I also havn't done any baking.  I'm a pretty good baker!  But my hand mixer that had been a bridal shower present died a couple months ago (I'm pretty sure I'm getting a new one for Christmas), and I just refreshed my baking ingredients the other day.  I have a couple days...what should I make?  I'm thinking shortbread.  Of all the things I've made, I've never made shortbread.

I'm also trying to figure out where to hang my Christmas cards.  Hubby thinks hanging them on a string with little clips is tacky, but I really like it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

OTC Deficiency - A Genetic Abnormality

My husband likes to tease and tell people that I'm a mutant.  It's not really wrong.  It's true!  I'm missing an enzyme that tells the body how to metabolize (use) protein properly. 

There's a name for what I have.  Don't worry, I don't expect you to remember it.  It's Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency, typically denoted as OTC Deficiency.  If you really want to remember it, just think OTC - Over The Counter.  If you watch House, you might have heard of it.  In the very first season, one of the characters had OTC Deficiency.  I didn't see it, but apparently it had to do with a man who got sick, his brother snuck a steak into the hospital for him to eat, and then he got much more sick!

I've known about this since I was 4.  I have this lovely family memory of going to Ponderosa (does Ponderosa exist anymore?) and getting to eat jello while none of the adults cared what the kids ate.  It was nearly the whole family on my mom's side there...grandparents, their 5 kids and spouses (ok, maybe 4...I think one was missing) and numerous grandchildren, of which I was one. We had all just had our blood taken to be analyzed.  ALL of us!

At that point, in good ole 1981, my mother had had two pregnancies after I was born.  With each, she had a boy who was fine upon birth, and then hours later got sick.  Each lived for 3 days.  Her sister had also had a boy.  Same thing.  Fine at birth, got sick, died on day 3.  And my mom had been a twin, but her fraternal twin brother had also died on day 3, and he had been the larger, healthier baby at birth.

All of these births were diagnosed as SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  The family got together, contacted the health unit and said, Listen...this is not SIDS.  There is obviously something more here, since there have been 4 deaths of baby boys in the same family.  The doctors did some investigating, decided that there was a potential that it was OTC Deficiency, and that's how we all ended up going in for blood work.

Turns out that OTC Deficiency is an X-linked metabolic disorder.  The boys are more highly affected (in my families case that means neonatal [newborn] death), because they don't have the extra X chromosome to make up for the defective one if theirs is defective.  It's a 50/50 chance of the baby getting the defective gene with the missing enzyme.

So all in all, the odds are like this.  25% Healthy Baby Girl.  25% Carrier Baby Girl.  25% Healthy Baby Boy.  25% Affected Baby Boy (in my family = neonatal death at 3 days old).

We know that my grandmother was a carrier (but don't know about HER mother).  Grandma had 6 kids.  4 girls - all carriers, 1 boy unaffected, and 1 boy (mom's twin) who died.  In my generation, although there are many grandchildren, only two of us are female carriers.  The other one has decided NOT to have children, partially or all because of the fact that she is a carrier herself.

That leaves me.  And a story to be told in a future post.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Your Child's Personality

Have you ever done a personality test? To see what your personality characteristics are? Admittedly, there a lot of really hokey ones out there that i wouldn't recommend other than for a laugh. But I have found that the Myers-Briggs testing runs true. Myers & Briggs were a mother and daughter pair born in the late 1800's who were spent nearly their entire lives putting together their theories on personality types, which were based originally off of Jung.

Divided into 16 categories, some more rare than others, I have found that this test rings true! Do you know what category you fall into?

I am an "ENTP". Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving
My husband is an "INTJ". Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging.

I was interested in knowing what my daughter might be. She is 8. I found a site, where parents can answer questions, and find out. Here's the link. They don't tell you what the third of the fourth characteristics is, because it is still in progress of developing, although in some children you can tell.

So, my daughter is "INJ" according to this, and we're pretty sure the missing one is "F" making her an "INFJ". I thought it was pretty accurate in it's description. I have cut and pasted it here, from personalitypage.com

Portrait of an INJ Child

(Introverted iNtuitive Judging)


INJ Traits

  1. They have vivid imaginations
  2. They're curious about everything, and are always asking "Why?"
  3. They enjoy spending time one-on-one with others, rather than in large groups
  4. They're often off in their own world, and have a dreamlike quality
  5. They enjoy art and music
  6. They love books, and especially enjoy fiction
  7. They're likely to hang back and watch before participating in a social situation
  8. They're intensely private, and don't always share their thought and feelings
  9. They like structure and are unsettled by chaos or unplanned events
  10. They prefer sports that focus on individual performance rather than team sports
  11. They are perfectionists
  12. They're serious and intense
  13. They often seem older than they are, and may have older friends
  14. They are original and independent, and value their uniqueness
  15. They're not overly concerned with grades, but they want to completely understand a subject that interests them

Potential Strengths

  1. They're usually very intelligent
  2. They can grasp the big picture easily
  3. They can see any far-reaching consequences of their actions
  4. They're very resourceful
  5. They are extremely creative and imaginative
  6. They easily come up with good ideas
  7. They're usually well-liked by their peers
  8. They will completely master a subject that interests them
  9. Their desire to be in control of themselves makes them take responsibility for their actions
  10. They are usually confident in their ideas, and know instinctively when they are right about something

Potential Weaknesses

  1. They have short attention spans
  2. They get bored easily with details or routine tasks
  3. They won't put any effort into doing something that doesn't interest them
  4. They frequently don't hear people
  5. Once they have made up their mind about something, they can be very stubborn about it
  6. They ignore details
  7. They are unsettled by change, and don't usually adapt well to new situations
  8. They're uncomfortable and somewhat overwhelmed by large groups
  9. They are rather unaware of their environment, and seem "out of it"
  10. They are rather self-centered, and may be unaware of how their actions or words affect others
  11. They can be controlling and bossy
  12. Although they come up with ideas easily, they don't do as well implementing their ideas

INJ Learning Style

INJs are extremely curious and intellectual children who need a wide variety of mental stimulation. When they are interested in a subject, they will naturally want to know everything about it. Teachers should be prepared to point INJ children towards sources where they can learn more about the subject.

INJ children don't do well with tasks that require following prescribed steps in a plan or rote memorization. They find these kinds of things extremely boring, and they will resist doing them. They also don't like to do things repetitively. Once they have done something once, they are done with it and want to move on to the next thing. To keep things interesting for the INJ, teachers should give them the basic theory and the desired outcome, and let them figure out how to get there on their own.

Teachers should realize the INJ's weakness of not always being aware of their environment, and recognize that if an INJ didn't hear the teacher, it doesn't necessarily mean that they weren't listening. Sometimes the INJ's private world overtakes the INJ to the point that they completely tune out their environment. As much patience as possible should be shown with this characteristic. INJs will develop some control over this as they grow older.

INJs love to come up with ideas, and naturally want to put their ideas into some kind of structure or plan. They want to do this on their own, with little or no direction. They highly prize their ideas and their competence at performing their projects, and are threatened by someone giving them too much direction. This is almost an insult to the INJ, who bases a great deal of their self-esteem on their independence.

INJs thrive doing independent projects that require creativity, such as science projects or writing projects. They will probably not enjoy group projects as much, although they are likely to be fine working with one partner on a project.

Answer the INJ's many questions as thoroughly as possible. If you don't know the answer to a question, be honest and tell them that you don't know. Offer possible avenues for discovering the answer, such as library research.

Present the rules and expectations clearly and consistently. INJs naturally crave structure and order. Although they don't want to be told exactly how to do something, they need to understand any rules clearly.

INJ Special Needs

INJ children need a good amount of time alone. They get most of their energy from within themselves and their rich imaginations, so they need adequate time alone to recharge their batteries. After a long day of school, the INJ may head to their room to spend some time alone. Respect this need of your child's, and understand that once they have spent time alone they will be ready to interact with you. Don't push them to be around yourself or others until they have spent some quality alone time. An INJ who doesn't get the chance to spend any time alone will be irritable, cranky and tired.

INJs who have made up their minds about something can be quite stubborn and unwilling to compromise. When faced with an INJ who has "dug in their heels" about something, take some time to present them with clear and valid alternatives to their way of thinking. This will help the INJ to not become overly rigid, pompous and unbending in their views.

Socially, pre-teen INJ's are usually fairly reserved and may be intimidated by large numbers of people. They like to watch for awhile before participating. It's best not to push the INJ to interact socially before they are ready. Allow them to watch first, and jump in when they want to. If you are a very extraverted or gregarious adult, don't expect the same behavior your INJ child. INJs usually prefer to interact with one person at a time, and enjoy having a couple of close friends rather than a number of acquaintances. As the INJ gets a bit older, he or she will probably become more social. In the meantime, understand that your child is probably uncomfortable with large groups of people, and don't make them feel guilty for that fear. If your child is afraid of walking into large social situations alone, you might arrange to walk in with your child, or have your child go to the event with a friend.

Too many suggestions or feedback on a project while it is still going on may interfere with the INJ's creative energy. Much of the interest in actually doing the project comes from the INJ's drive to prove their inner visions and independence. Any "interference" from the external world will confuse the INJ, and it may cause them to doubt themselves or their idea. In any event, it will usually cause them to lose interest in the project and abandon it. It's probably best to wait until an INJ's project is finished before commenting.

Talk through their ideas with them one-on-one. This will help the INJ to put their ideas into context within the external world. The INJ doesn't naturally have a high awareness of how their intensely personal visions fit into the world. Getting them into the habit of talking through their ideas while they are young will help them develop the ability to apply their ideas realistically and effectively.

The "Missing" Letter

Adult personality types have four letters, while for children aged 7-12 we use three letter types. What happened to the missing letter? It's there, we just can't usually determine what it is until after a person is 13 years old. INJ kids will grow up to be either INTJ "Scientists" or INFJ "Protectors". At this stage in their development, it's not obvious whether they will choose Thinking or Feeling to complement their Intuition preference. You will see the child practicing both Thinking and Feeling as they settle down into their preferred function. In some children, it's possible to distinguish their "missing" letter, but for many kids we just have to wait a few years to be sure.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Daycare Decision- With or Without Receipts

Question from a new mom heading back to work. To get daycare receipts or not.

Yesterday we had an interview with a daycare provider and she had a price with receipts $55 or $47 with no receipts. She said that most prefer no receipts as it works to their advantage.

This is an excellent and very important question, that many people grapple with when they are looking into daycare. Unfortunately the answer is not simple.

Let's look at it from a selfish version of "what's best for me", and not include the "but the provider isn't claiming her income if they aren't providing receipts" factor. (I'll talk about that a bit at the end.)

There are people who fall in both categories of whether receipts or no receipts is better for them.

I live in Ontario, so I am going to be using Ontario numbers for the 2010 tax year.

Let's start:

Since child care costs can typically only be claimed by the lower income earner (there are exceptions where the higher income earner can claim it, eg: if the lower income earner is in school, but we'll use the "norm" where both are working here), then:

a) If the lower income person of a couple (or single parent) paying child care made less than $11433 ($10382 Basic Personal Amount +$1051 Canada Employment Amount) then the Child Care Deduction does nothing for them, and the "without receipts" option of $47 is financially better for them.

b) If the lower earning person of a couple (or single parent) is earning between $11433 and $37106 we need to calculate the difference tax deduction will make. In Ontario, you are taxed 20.05% on your first $37106 earned.

So, in this example, paying $55 with receipts or $47 without, $55 multiplied by 20.05% = $11.03, which in comparison to without receipts would be $55.00 - $11.03 =$43.97 cash paid, no receipts rate.

Obviously, $43.97 is less than $47.00, so getting receipts is the better option in this case.

If the lower income person earns more than $37106, the savings for having receipts are even greater, because their tax rate on the portion of their income above that amount would be higher.

Please recalculate based on the rates you are deciding upon. These rates were used as an example only. Also, child care/daycare rates vary based on where you live. These rates would be high, even for an infant rate, for where I am, but more common in urban areas.

If you want to use different tax rates for other provinces or for higher income brackets, but don't know where to find them, here is a link to TaxTips.ca

Of course, these calculations are not including any of the human factors of "But the child care provider obviously isn't reporting their income." There is a large "black market" of under the table work in Canada in all types of jobs. If you have a child care provider who does not provide receipts, there IS a way you can still claim it.

Make sure to always pay with a cheque, and in the description line at the bottom left hand side of the cheque, write what it is for, the date, and the children who are in care. For example "child care - Oct 3-10 - Amelia". Either scan the cheque before giving it, or many banks have scanned copies of the cheques that have been processed on file. Use these as your receipts.

Of course, if the child care provider gets audited regarding their income, you might need to find a new provider in the future, which is a whole other task in and of itself!