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Archive for November, 2011

We are 13 months!

December 1st, 2011 at 04:45 am

He looks so big in these pictures. I can't believe how fast he is growing. 13 month and he is walking now! Cutely, wobbly, but walking Smile





I did it. I bought lift tickets.

November 30th, 2011 at 05:51 pm

$1,042
Lift tickets for 2 people. (crazy)

$15 fee for booking airfare for two people NYC-Vail Eagle

$0 Seven nights slopeside at Marriott Vail

I had to buy lift tickets now, because season pass (that you could buy until the end of the month only) costs the same as 6 days of skiing (which we were planning to do. That gives us the option, to go 2nd time in spring, if we really really love it and can come up with the money and for the second trip hotel, airfare and lift tickets would be free).

After hours of research of bus routes on municipal website I discovered that there is a bus that stops at the airport and goes to Vail Village (it was obscure and nowhere on travel websites, because airport is not its final destination did not come up on search engines). But now, our trip from Eagle airport to the hotel will drop from $120-160 one way to $8.

My baby is walking!!!

November 29th, 2011 at 04:36 am

Just today he went from cruising everywhere to making 3-4 steps and happily falling into my arms!

He is so cute and so excited about his new ability! Laughing and clapping in delight. He was doing it until he was completely exhausted.
Than he fell asleep without a peep.

Seeing your baby walking for the first time is just an amazing feeling! I was on cloud nine tonight.

Declutter challenge, bedroom done!

November 21st, 2011 at 04:11 am

Many more rooms to go. Closet that is outside the bedroom not included. It needs the status of the room in terms of work. I really want to finish things before January!











Light changes a lot in sunset.

Neighbor drilled holes into our floor! What is reasonable here?

November 20th, 2011 at 06:06 am

I was washing the floor today and notice that there is a bunch of hole going all along our bedroom wall (the wall that does NOT have any furnishings or rugs near it. These are small, but very numerous. There are dozens of them:







They are each the size of a think staple. I don't know how the heck they got there, they were not there before. The only explanation is that the neighbor downstair (I'm guessing their contractor) did it during the renovations.

We will go and talk to them tomorrow. The thing is, I don't know what to do or what to ask of them? I've never encountered a situation like this before :0

On one hand, asking them to replace entire hardwood floor, it kind of ... well, very expensive. On the other hand, this will affect our resale value. And, it is impossible to replace part of the hardwood floor and make it seamlessly blend with the rest.

And I don't want to create antagonistic situation with neighbors, but this is really bothering me. The floors are damaged.

I don't know what to do.

I have to talk to them tomorrow - just because I don't want this to happen in other rooms and along other walls. They have to know about it, so I can't postpone. But, I don't know what exactly we should demand they do about it. What do you think is reasonable?

Defining people by race?

November 18th, 2011 at 04:51 pm

I was watching this addictive British dark drama “Luther” I bought on itunes and it got to me reflect on something...

The main character of the show, Luther, is a detective played by a dark skinned black man (great actor, btw, his character is totally fascinating).

What I found amazingly different from American shows, is that there is no reference to his race anywhere in the show. No mention regarding his wife being of a different race, no background on how being black shaped him, to his “belonging” anywhere, no special behaviors attributed to him because of his race, no mentioning of “overcoming” something as a black man... nothing of the sort.

Basically, he is just treated and seen as a man, not as a “black man” by every other character on the show, and, therefore, by the viewer. Comparing to American shows, I found that amazing!

If you watched the show and you are an American, you’d probably understand what I’m talking about. I don’t know anything about race relations in England, but from this show it seems very different.

In our society, it is implied that history has shaped that man or woman personally, that people belong to a different culture based on their skin color, and that a person of different skin color will never really understand or belong.

That separates people, maybe not intentionally, but there is a psychological effect to emphasizing ones race, positively or negatively, it still tells people that they are different because of their skin color. It is the lesson we learn from school age.

What is racism at the basic root of it if not seeing a person through the color prism of their skin?
Is celebrating accomplishments of black people a completer reversal of having negative stereotypes, or does it contribute to teaching that there is a difference?

But again, what do I know, I’m not black.

Anyway, these are just some random thoughs... It bothered me that I found it so unusual that a character was treated like a character and just seen as a person, not as defined by his race. That it is more of an exception in the shows that I've seen than the rule. So I wanted post my thoughts and find out what other people think. (I hope it won't blow up into something ugly.)

I have no money but want to fly to ski Vail for 1 week!

November 16th, 2011 at 09:40 pm

I want to. I really want to.

Not that I have no money, what I mean is I have no money allocated for ski vacation this year. (I don't want to take it out of other places. EF is EF, ROTH must be funded, etc...)

I have never before been out west.

I am now in planning stages:

1. Free great childcare is arranged between 2 grandmothers (we'll be going without the baby this time).

2. I booked hotel in Vail FREE with points. Hotel room booked with money for those dates totals up for $2400 before taxes, so this is huge savings. But the rest of the expences are challenging. So I am racking my brain as to cut them down and make it happen. So far estimates are not encouraging. (I can cancell my hotel with no penalty and gets the points back for another month or longer)

So my estimate to what is needed:

fees if booking airfare with miles (2x)
$150 (maybe, maybe not)

checked luggage 2 bags each
$25+$25+$35+35= $120

midday lodge breaks (x6) warming up with beer, sometimes snack
$150

food daily $100 per day
$700

shuttle to/from airport -
$51 (4x) +tip $220

ski rental 6 days 2 people
$400 (more if demo skis)

lift tickets $519 x 2
$1038

taxi to and from the airport at home
$100

$3,047
Sigh
That does not sound right considering airfare and hotel is free...

So far I only have $760 in the ski2012 fund (I planned for local skiing only).

cashback, refinance, vacation dreams

November 16th, 2011 at 03:29 pm

I got $300 from my credit union Visa. It will go to the vacation fund. Sadly, it is not due to a sign in bonus, it is just straight 1% cashback reward.

My Asian vacation is almost funded (I hope it happens, that is largely up to my employer).

Now I am obsessing about a ski vacation this winter. I want to go to Vail!!! I missed last season entirely (newborn) so a week long vacation is now seems like an ultimate luxury (before the baby it would barely register as a break).

Can't apply for any of the cards that want to throw miles at us (75,000 Delta miles for opening Amex, $300 from Chase freedom...) because we just applied to refinance our mortage. Can't take a chance of dinging our credit scores when the stakes are that high.

Modest friday outing

November 13th, 2011 at 04:31 am

It has been a long time -- first DH was on a business trip, than our car was not drivable (windshield gone) and it took a week to fix since the place was busy after the storm.

So on friday night my mom came over to watch the baby for a few hours and we met up with some friends in Queens Chinatown.



We had Sichuanese hotpot in a basement hole-in-the wall place that housed a bunch of cheap eateries. It was crowded, but you'd never find it if you didn't know about it.







My Chinese friends said it was an authentic place (they are not Sichuanese though). Unfortunately it was not authentic and not anywhere as good -- I lived in Sichuan for over 6 months so I know. But I still enjoyed the evening -- we were out and in good company.

Cost.
$12 Beers (you buy outside and drink there)
$40 all you can eat for 2 ppl with tip

parking (street) don't remember... cheap.

This is some cool art I saw for sale in a Chinese mall nearby:







Our $20 challenge... sort of

November 10th, 2011 at 03:43 am

So this week:

I listed and sold an item on ebay (it only had 6 views but sold quickly). 2 Sferra Pillow shams. I sold them at fixed price for $80 plus $8 shipping. I don't know how much ebay will take, but I already paid $14 for shipping (I am really not good at estimating since I have no experience). So I guess I made around $60 after ebay gets paid. Not much, but I did not need them, and they were just taking up space, so selling them was a right thing.

DH went to a focus group today. They paid $125 for hour and a half (it took hour and a half to get there and back. And he spent $20 to buy us ribs from the restaurant next to the place. So profit maybe $80-$90.

(He also made $300 Delta bucks coming back from his trip on Sunday.
And he made gold status with them, so that should save us some money on future benefits.)

plus 40 hours of comp. time from his trip. This has value beyond money -- the hours he earns he spends for the needs of the baby. Staying home with him when he is sick, or needs routine appointments, or we don't want to drive the baby far to daycare if the weather is dangerous... We are managing all of these things without any childcare expenses for a year now -- and the main thing is that the baby is getting great care.

Sallie Mae is very annoying!

November 8th, 2011 at 05:09 pm

So I am making extra payments on my student loan and the way it updates my account is driving me crazy.

The pay off date never changes! When I make an extra payment, it just moves the due date of my next payment further (and yes, I do apply it to the principle, not just to sit there for no reason until the next payment). So I see the principle go down, but pay off date never approaches on their generated calculators.

So I would have to calculate myself if I want to know.

Lately, they even added two choices for when you make an extra payment, with complex wording (and the default one is not the one to apply money towards the principle).

This is not helping.

Why am I restless lately?

November 5th, 2011 at 12:43 am

I notice I have been thinking about all sorts of bold risky moves lately (not to mention bought 2 apple stock options to the tune of $6,800 that are looking quite risky right now. (too bad I did not agree when my husband wanted to buy Google at stock option when it was at $500 a share, now with 600 a share we would have made close to 10K in few weeks Frown(( ) , we may loose or make little on the Apple one.

Anyhow, I keep thinking that we have to do something more bold, that we won't make much progress otherwise, the way things are. I obviously don't have the money to try all these things, not sure if I can even do one, but there is something in me that is making me obsess about it right now.

Taking 30 years to pay off 1.5 bedroom apartment just seems like not enough progress. I really want to do something more. I don't know what.

My mom's financial views frustrate me so much!

November 2nd, 2011 at 08:43 pm

So I discovered today there is an amazingly cheap apartment in my building on the same floor. It is in a horrible shape (hence the cheapness) but my moms DH is a contractor who has enough skills to make it into a candy for just the cost of materials.

My mom, who is taking 2 hours each way to come from Brooklyn to see the baby (she adores the baby) would of course like to live here, but she has no money. The building requires 20% down.

What frustrates me is she gets upset at me for not selling a property I inherited in another country to give her the down payment. In her mind, that is the ONLY WAY dowpayment can happen. I just can't get through to her on that point. She just does not believe that money can or should be saved, it is to come as a lump sum windfall only. I am the foolish one here. She just really believes that something like that cannot come from savings. That you can't expect her to save that much.

She has not a cent saved. She does not believe she spends anything or does anything extravagant, and yet she has no money.

Her husband and her make around 120K a year and their rent is $600 a month! (he works for the building after hours).

They should be able to save for a down payment rather fast if they wanted to and just looked where the money is going.

And they have nothing saved! A cheap Suzuki with payments, and a closet full of clothing are all their assets. Money just flows as water through their fingers. Nothing in retirement. I tried so many times, but I can't convince her that she won't be able to live on Social Security -- she just does not want to think about it. If she at least had a paid off apartment, it would be something. And she could, if she just wanted to, but she just believes it is impossible and ridiculous that I even suggest it.

This is what happened to our only car! Ruined our weekend.

November 1st, 2011 at 08:51 pm

We were supposed to go out and spend Saturday roaming free, than we had a hotel night booked. My MIL was staying over with the baby. I was soo looking forward to it.

We came down to the garage (we have an outdoor spot) to get our car and found this:









Our 10 month old new car Frown

Than we tried to deal with it (tried to tape plastic bags to the windshield so that water won't go inside, try to find an indoor spot to move it to... Try to get in and move it there. Took hours. By the time we got to the hotel in my mom's car it was 10pm.

If we only left few minutes earlier and all this would not have happened. Frown

Oh, and we have no glass coverage.