Monday, September 2, 2013


I've been dreading tomorrow for 5 days.
Real life starts tomorrow.
Our new real life.
We have spent the past 5 days just 'us'. We've slept in and eaten out. We haven't spent one second as anything but 'us'. Joey's arms have been a few feet away from me every minute of the day... his shoulder only inches from me every morning and every night. He's been my rock. When waves of sadness hit, we're both there and one of us can be strong.
Or not.... and that's ok, too.
We've read and wept over every comment, email, text, and phone call, every flower. We've soaked in each word of encouragement and have welcomed every thought and prayer. We stand amazed at the army of people who have surrounded us every second of one of the worst things we have ever been through. We know we wouldn't make it through this without them... without you.
We've hugged our H2. We've loved them and have spent time memorizing each quirk and appreciating every moment we have been given with them.
We've missed our #3.
This pain? We aren't built for this kind of pain. It's cruel.
Blessings always come out of despair.... that's true.
But right now? This feels like anything but a blessing.
A curse? Yeah, maybe. Today.
But tomorrow?
 I don't want to wake up alone, knowing that Joey's new reality has already started. I don't want to roll over and not see the box of saltines that I needed in order to get out of bed every day for 8 weeks. I don't want to make breakfast and get the kids dressed. I don't want to walk into a doctor's office and have to pretend that everything is ok... our weekend was wonderful... the weather is beautiful... we're so happy it's a 4-day week. I don't want to fear with everything in me that our #3 will be forgotten when life starts again.
I've had only 5 days of practice and I can't 'do' this new life by myself yet... without Joey a few feet from me... outside of the bubble that has just been 'us'...
without my #3.
The pain doesn't come and go... it's always there. It builds over time ... a couple hours, over night, or sometimes a day... and when you finally break, there isn't a reason. There's no distraction big enough and no time small enough. Your heart can only handle so much pretending. And that's exactly what it is....
Pretending that you're ok.... or even that you're gonna be.
Pretending that greater blessings will come out of this pain... because you'd trade every single blessing in the world for the one you lost.
Pretending that God will use this for His glory... because truthfully, His glory isn't shining through the despair right now.
Pretending that you trust that His plan is better than your own... because this wasn't your plan to begin with and that makes it feel like a cruel joke.
Pretending that time heals all wounds... because nothing... I mean nothing, can heal this kind of loss.... this kind of wound.
Moments come when I have to force myself out of well, myself. I have to spend a moment outside of my pain and confusion and disappointment. I have to fight everything in me that wants to resent my Jesus and scream at Him for making the one thing I have ever wanted, being a Mommy, such a painful process each time.
I have to step away and trust all that I know....
I will be ok.
Blessings will come out of this pain.
God will use this for His glory.
His plan is better than my own.
And time, though it won't take the pain away, will make it easier to bear.
The verses, His promises, the truth we've witnessed that comes from His promises...
Those things I know in my heart.
But tomorrow?
I'll be pretending them through my day.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Such Bitter-Sweetness... An Announcement

We have anticipated this post for a few weeks now with so much excitement ...

but we envisioned it looking so so much different than it will tonight.

Our God has built our family through His grace, faithfulness, and many miracles.
Our precious baby girl... our 2008 overnight miracle...
Our son... our 2012 living miracle....
And 2 months ago, after 7 years of infertility and after 4 years of completely abandoning our will to His... no temping, no charting, without even considering the possibilities that doctor's could be wrong, that He could grant that one, sometimes seemingly forbidden desire of our hearts....
 our Jesus graciously (and shockingly!!) gave us another miracle...
 And then there were 5.....

We have spent the past few weeks completely and humbly grateful and amazed at what He has done! Our Jesus... the one who gave us our miracles... who has given us so many more miracles than we could have ever asked for or could ever deserve....
the one who heard our painfully loud cries 7 years ago... and gave us our daughter.
the one who heard our terrifying screams of anguish 18 months ago.... and saved our son.
the one who heard the whispers of our hearts as one tiny part still desired so badly to experience a pregnancy.... let us do just that.
For a time....

We have spent the past few weeks standing in awe at what he has done for us!
My body told me right away that I was pregnant... I stand amazed that after years and years of 'just in case' pregnancy tests and 'maybe this means I'm pregnant' symptom analyses, I was still able to recognize the 'real deal.' I am so gratedul for every ache and for every moment of nausea and for every change my body went through to make room for the precious baby growing inside of me.... I'm thankful for the two times we were able to see and hear that precious heartbeat on ultra-sound.... for the tiny baby belly that was beginning to pop (especially after a couple donuts ;-))....
but  my body also didn't handle pregnancy well.
The past 10 days have been a waiting game of the cruelest kind.... physically, emotionally, and spiritually....
But yesterday came closure when Jesus' everlasting arms took the place of our's for our sweet Baby Smith #3.
Our baby went home... too early, and not with us.
And we are broken.
Comepltely broken.
We chose, long ago, to share this part of our lives with whomever wants to read it... for whomever wants to join us on our family's journey to well.... just that.
Our family.
We have never regretted one second of the choice to make this part of us 'public' and we have been blessed tenfold because of it.
We have so many blanks to fill in...  my very first pregnancy test .... telling Big Sister...  introducing you to Baby Smith #3 in pictures... our cherished announcement photo shoot... and the overwhelming outpouring of love that we have and know we will continue to receive as we navigate through the next couple of days, weeks, and months . And we will. I need to if I'm going to get through this. I've missed the calm and refuge I find when I write....
We've had so many 'secrets' to keep in the past.... our adoptions were both unique, making it difficult for us to ask for support and prayer when we needed it most as each of our babies came home until it was a safe and appropriate time to share our exciting news with the world....
And I can't do 'secrets' this time.
We are heartbroken... and confused...
But we also know that, for however long Jesus let us keep our precious Baby Smith #3, that every second of that time is a miracle... and always will be.
I got pregnant. Me. The one who couldn't. I did. And without a single thought in our mind about ever getting pregnant... ever!
That's a miracle!
The past 2 months have been filled with celebration and we are looking back without one single regret.
We are trying so desperately to take refuge in Him knowing that, for the first time in every up and down we have faced over the past 7 years....
We won't be waiting for our baby anymore.... because he/she is waiting for us in Heaven.
And I take complete comfort in that simple fact alone.
Our baby is in the arms of Jesus... waiting for us... waiting for mine.
I know that so many of you understand this pain... and I'm not sure I'm even 'there' yet.
If our journey has taught us anything, it's that God will take away..... he'll take things amazing and miraculous for reasons we might not ever understand....
but He always replaces them with something even bigger.
Hannah and Hunter are proof of God's 'bigger'.
I had surgery today and we would love if you would lift us up in prayer as our hearts slowly heal, as my body heals, and as we navigate through all of this while helping our sweet girl understand it all, too. We're thankful that Hunter is so young and unaware. If you know our girl, you know she'll do better than any of us.... her faith is rock solid and I'm thankful for the example of child-like faith she has been for me just the past couple days alone.
I don't know when our #4 will come along or how.... but we are doing our very best to remember and love #3 with everything that we have left in us right now...
Tonight? We're so so sad. Confused. Conflicted. Anxious. And so many parts of us are in pain. We aren't going to be quick to forget our precious and always #3 but one day soon we know that our cup will overflow, once again.
We love you, sweet #3... Mama and Daddy are wrapped as tightly in Jesus' arms tonight as you are and there's nowhere else we'd rather be than with you tonight.
"For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of... life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead."
~2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Consumer Confidence Slips Slightly in August

Consumer confidence fell marginally in August, according to the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment index. Both present conditions and future expectations were lower relative to July. In August the index slipped to 82.1, a decline of 3 points from July. Despite the fall the idex remains near recovery highs.

The present condition portion of the index fell to 95.2, a decline of 3.4 points from July. Future expectation declined to 73.7, a drop of 2.8 points.

Inflationary expectation fell slightly, with the 1-year exception decreasing 0.1 percentage point to 3.0% in August. However, the 5-year expectation rose slightly higher to 2.9% in August, a 0.1 percentage point increase.

Personal Income & Consumption Grow 0.1% in July

Personal income growth decelerated in July, growing 0.1%, after two consecutive months of 0.3% growth. This represents the weakest growth since April. Consumption also decelerated, growing 0.1% in July. The savings rate remained constant relative to the previous month at 4.4%. This level is low by historical standards.

The deceleration of person income was driven primarily by wage income, which declined 0.3%, the first decline since January. Growth was also restrained by a decline in interest income. Strong growth in dividend income slightly offset these negative effects on person income. Disposable income rose 0.2%.

While consumption did slow, there was still growth as pent-up demand and wealth effects lifted consumer spending. The growth in consumption was led by nondurable goods, which rose 0.9% in July. Consumption of durable goods fells 0.2%, while expenditures on services were unchanged.

Overall prices rose 0.1%. Excluding food and energy, prices were also up 0.1%. Currently, prices are 1.4% above year-ago levels, indicating low inflation, although it is the highest reading since February.

Read the Bureua of Economic Analysis release.

Q2 Banking Industry Performance

FDIC-insured banks and savings institutions earned $42.2 billion in the second quarter, 22.6 percent more than the industry’s $34.4 billion earnings a year ago, the FDIC said yesterday. The average return on assets -- a standard measure of bank profitability -- rose to 1.17 percent, up from 0.99 percent a year ago but trailing its average between 2000 and 2006. Profitability rose as year-on-year noninterest income growth of 11.1 percent outstripped a 1.7 percent fall in interest income.

The banking industry has had 16 consecutive quarters of profits increasing year-over-year, the agency said. Over half of all institutions reported an improvement in quarterly net income from a year ago, and those reporting first-quarter net losses fell to 8.2 percent -- the lowest proportion since 2006. Asset quality continued to improve as troubled loans and leases fell. Charge-offs were $14.2 billion in the first quarter, down $6.3 billion -- or 30.7 percent -- from a year earlier.

The number of institutions on the problem bank list dropped from 612 to 553 -- the ninth straight quarter they declined. The Deposit Insurance Fund balance rose from $35.7 billion to $37.9 billion during the quarter, stemming primarily from assessment revenues, officials said.

“Banks continued their strong performance with robust earnings supported by a diverse product base, lower losses and an ongoing improvement in asset quality,” said ABA Chief Economist James Chessen. “At the same time, institutions face challenges as they recover from a one-two punch of rising compliance costs and weaker-than-normal loan demand that makes it difficult to grow topline revenue.”

Read Jim Chessen's statement.

Read the FDIC press release.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Calculating Stamp Duty for registration of Property

Registering property in Female names can help save stamp duty

While you register your property in any State of India a charge is levied by the state Government. This charge is called the stamp duty. 

Stamp Duty is a tax, similar to sales tax and income tax, collected by the Government. Stamp Duty is payable under Section 3 of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899. Rates of stamp duty payable for different types of documents are as per Schedule I. Stamp Duty must be paid in full and on time. If there is a delay in payment of stamp duty, it attracts penalty. A stamp duty paid document gets evidence  value and is admitted as evidence in Court. Document not properly stamped, is not admitted as evidence by the Court.

The stamp duty is a % of the property transaction value. The stamp duty % vary from state to state. This is generally in range of anywhere between 5% to 7%. There is a discounting on  stamp duty in case the buyer is a female. 

As an example the stamp duty in Haryana for a male is 7% whereas for female it is 5%. If the property is bought jointly in name of a male and female  with 50% share of each the stamp duty is calculated at 6% of the property transaction value.

How is the stamp duty calculated? 

Let's hypothetically assume that my friend Jags is buying a property at a Cost of 10,00,000/- (INR 10 Lacs). The stamp duty to be paid by him would depend upon the gender of the individuals in whose name he finally decides to register the property. As stated earlier mostly the stamp duty is less for females as compared to males.

Case 1 : If he decides to register the property in his and his wife's name with 50% share of each 

Stamp duty will be levied at 7% on 50% his share and 5% on 50% share of his wife

Stamp duty paid paid by Jags will be 6% of 1000000/- - INR 60,000/-

Case 2 : If he decides the register the property  jointly in his , his wife and his mother's name with 33.33% share of each 

Stamp duty is levied at 5% on 66.66% share of 2 females and 7% on 33.33% share of one male

Stamp duty paid by Jags will be 5.66% of 1000000/- = INR 56667/-

Stamp duty calculation is not difficult but if it the property is registered in the right names it can help in saving money thereby lowering the cost of the property.