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Archive for December, 2011

Appraisal report is in

December 28th, 2011 at 02:36 pm

We are moving forward with our refinance. We just got a copy of our appraisal report. I was nervous that the property has gone down in value (after all, that is the only direction properties head right now, right?) and we would have to come up with tonn of money to refi. (and have a bad feeling too)

I was very surprised that it was appraised for 16K more than it was 19 month ago, when we bought it (and it did not have furniture, baby toys all over, and baby stuff like activity center, walker, swing all cluttering the apartment and making it look less spacious).

So this was a relief.

Holiday tips - $400 just for the building staff. And I don't know about daycare

December 27th, 2011 at 08:04 pm

And we skipped the super (he is not very helpful, and I don't like him, don't have any business with him, whatever we need assistant super can do with much less long-winded conversation).

And we tipped very modestly (don't make as much money as some in the building, but I'm sure we are not the bottom of the scale).

These are just doormen, porters, maintenance.

Holidays are expensive.

As opposed to high cost of building tips, daycare teachers were only $20 each in Starbucks gift card, not even cash.

DH says there are guildelines as daycare staff are federal employees. I am not sure how closely they are followed, and I wonder if we should have given more, especially after I unrapped gifts made as if from the baby, that they passed us. A handmade ornament with his picture (they printed one out from photographer visit) and bunch of baby books. I don't know if they actually bought them, I feel bad for our small tip if they have. I don't know what to do here.

Sick baby on Christmas

December 27th, 2011 at 03:00 pm

102.3 fever. Acetamenaphen only manages to bring it down to 101.7.
He is quite sick. Taking him to the doctor again today. The only plus in it being the holidays is that we had one more day home with him without having to take sick/annual leave.

Unfortunately I cannot take leave now, as everyone is out and there is nobody to cover for me.

DH is taking leave again now, and than my mom.

I hope he gets better soon! It seems unending... poor little guy has been through a lot, and I just want him to be happy and feel. He is so sad and weak, and cries a lot. Frown((

Went shopping for a gift, came out with no gift and $74 poorer.

December 22nd, 2011 at 02:54 am

Went shopping for a gift for my mom on my lunch break.

Ended up picking up Shiseido tinted moisturizer with SPF ($35), foaming face wash, ($33) and Biotherm Deo Pure deodorant ($17.50). after 20% discount and plus tax, $74.47. And still I could not find a gift for my mom.

Gifts for moms?

December 21st, 2011 at 04:15 pm

I still have not done my holiday shopping, and I am stumped as to what I can get my mom! What did you get for your mom?

Any ideas/suggestions?
Not make-up of perfume (she has a friend at BG and gets all the high end stuff at 50% off, she has more than enough).
I have given her multiple wallets/purses, hotel nights, iphone 4s... Now I am out of ideas. Starting to panic.

$200 range.

Pretty hard day

December 19th, 2011 at 04:32 am

It took us 3 hours to put baby down for his 2 naps, (and they lasted 50 minutes each). These are routine naps that he has every day, but it was so hard today. After an hour and a half of trying everything under the sun -- holding him, rocking him, stroking his back, his hair, I wanted to jump out of the window.

He came so close to falling asleep 3 times, but than at the last second he'd wake up, start crying, and stand up in the crib. Tired, stumbling, he'd still try to stand up...

So whole day was kind of broken up and tough. We didn't have a chance to eat breakfast until 1 p.m. and were even snapping at each other. (can't snap at baby, so it is directed to the next available person). But we got through it.

Started cooking supper at 9:30, after baby went to sleep. I made Ma Po tofu (tofu and ground beef sir-fried in spicy ma po cause over rice. DH also added some more Sichuanese peppercorns.

Just finished washing up the bottles. It is 11:30. Now I can relax a little, but 7 am have to be up. A lot to do at work tomorrow.

I love this inspiring Citi commercial!

December 18th, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Citi "accessories" commercial :

It is one of the very few ads on TV that I actually enjoy watching. Everything about it is cool -- the concept, the music, the photography...

The male climber in the video is Alex Honnold, probably the best free solo climber in the world. He does climbs much harder than this with absolutely nothing --no rope, no harness, no equipment or safety net of any kind.

Here is some vids about him:

National Geographic:

60 minutes:

Another routine Saturday

December 18th, 2011 at 05:39 am

Woke up at 7:15, baby was already crying.

Normally, he waits patiently for 10-15 minutes in his crib while I put his milk to warm and set oatmeal in to cook (that takes about 5 minutes - I have to measure and wash it few times, than peel and slice an apple and set the rice cooker, so that it will be ready in an hour. He barely has willpower to wait -- an hour after waking up he is hungry already, so I need to set it first thing in the morning).

But today was different. I had to do all that with him in my arms. He would cry if I set him down before he had his bottle.

Took care of him until 10:30, than DH put him for a nap and we spent some time together. He napped almost 2 hours, we relaxed.

After baby woke up, DH took him and I went to make breakfast for us. It was kefir based pancakes from scratch. They are fluffy and delicious, and thats a treat for myself. But I discovered I was all out of regular flower, so I had to use whole wheat flower, and while I do prefer whole grains in everything else, pancakes with whole wheat just don't taste as good.

Baby had a pancake as well, that's his junk food for the weekend (it is not completely terrible, I made it with org. kefir, eggs, whole wheat flower, a tiny bit of milk, a sliver of butter, baking power and baking soda, salt, and 2 spoons of sugar for the whole batch.

We all ate together, baby in his chair at the table.

I took baby, DH cleaned up.

Than I run 1.7 miles again. I'm very proud of myself and I do feel more energy.

After I was done, DH run for 45 minutes (he is in a much better shape).

My mom came to visit after 4. I hit the shower, used computer for 20 min and got ready to leave.

Left house at 5 and went shopping in NJ.
All I bought was a simple, cheap box from West Elm (the color matches my furniture) and I wanted a small box to keep jewelry that I set aside to wear in the morning, so that I don't have to search for it when I have to run.
$19 total + tax (and $17 toll)

Then to our favorite Korean place in Fort Lee $53:

Not healthy, but quite tasty. And, since we were on the other side of that toll already, hard to resist the opportunity.

Than quick grocery shopping $72 and one quick beer each at the Dinosaur BBQ ($12):

Today their Dinosaur ale was fresh and perfect, great temperature, crisp, delicious. It is very close in taste to Magic Hat #9 and today it was even better than #9.

Back home by 10 pm (mom had to leave). We were kind of rushing everywhere, but that is how it is. We try to fit as much as we can in whatever little time we have.

Oh, and I have cleaned nothing today.

My days

December 17th, 2011 at 05:13 am

Woke up 7:20. Took care of the baby until 8:30. Got ready for work and run to the train. Bought coffee and mini-croissant near work, had it at the desk.

Chinese brush painting class at lunch.

Lamb over rice from the street cart at the desk. Working hard on an unpleasant complicated task the rest of the day. Will have to go through tons of paperwork for days to have it done. Also, my co-worker is leaving for a 3 week vacation, so I will be alone doing what is normally divided between us.

Leave work at 6, home by 7pm. Play with the baby for an hour and a half.

Run 1.7 miles as husband was putting baby to sleep. (Just enough to get metabolism going).

Than at 9pm we start cooking. We cooked together -- chunky guacamole (diced tomato, onion, minced garlic, cilantro, serranos, and of course, avocado. All salted, peppered and eaten with baked tortia chips.) Not a diet meal by any stretch, but very good nutritionally.

Done eating by like 10:20. Than washing up kitchen and battery of baby bottles, Baby Cook, bibs, spoons tethers, the works. (I don't put any of the baby's stuff into the dishwasher).

Done washing up at 11:40. 20 minutes to take off make-up, brush teeth, sit around.
Now spending 10 min to blog/read, than some time with DH, will probably go to bed at 1-1:30 am again.

Waking up at 7-7:30 tomorrow. And like that every day. Baby knows no weekends.

Must clean something in the apartment tomorrow, it looks out of control.

I NEVER have enough sleep. We must be doing something wrong. DH works just as hard when it comes to work, house, and the baby, and yet both of us are always so tired.

The food challenge day 1

December 8th, 2011 at 04:35 am

Hit and miss today.

lunch. I walked 10 minutes to a nice Japanese lunch place (just noodles and rice bowls) I recently discovered. In a land where a sandwich is $8-$10 plus tax (which makes it almost 11), this $5.50+tax=$6 beef rice bowl is a real bargain!

I had it with water, and no desert. So there.

Dinner out. Tried a new place which was highly recommended. The food sucked even though it was high calorie, high fat meal. Beer was good though.
$52 Frown

Got to do better

We are compelled to eat out. I don't know alternatives.

December 7th, 2011 at 03:57 am

Not even because I really really want to eat out. It is just we want to spend time by ourselves.

The only way we get to do that is when my mom visits for few hours to take care of the baby. 7-9pm on a weekday and one day on a weekend.

That's after work, it is dark outside, it is cold and empty (not a time for walks in deserted parks).

We are tired, we need to eat. Staying and cooking in the apartment is not too great. My mom is using our tiny kitchen to making dinner for baby. We can only eat in the living room and baby will be trying to climb us and demand to try what we have. Plus, her husband is usually there too... So we go out because it is a break, because we get to take a breath, spend time together. Food is secondary (though I do like a nice draft beer, like Magic Hat #9 or a nice margarita). So while I do not have that urge to eat out for the sake of food we do it often because it is a matter of opportunity. And the costs are pretty high.

Should I convert?

December 5th, 2011 at 11:05 pm

So I really want free (First class woudl be a dream!) tickets to Asia this year.

New York - Singapore - Shanghai (than Nanjing by land) - Shanghai- new York

Getting low-mileage award to Asia in July is next to impossible. But I've been educating myself on ins and outs of award booking and still hold out hope.

I need more Delta miles. My avenues for getting miles:

1) Convert miles at 1:1 from Marriott points
It is the easiest and free option. BUT... we don't know how many miles we will need and how many we'll actually use. With airlines you don't know until the last minute. On the other hand Marriott points are very hustle free and easy to use. They don't stick you with fees, you can always change your reservation, customer service on Platinum line is great, and we had nothing but positive experience and I don't remember last time we paid for a hotel. If we transfer 120K and use 210K for a week in Vail, we will hardly have anything left. We won't even have enough for 5 days in Singapre. But airline points are worth more (if you can use them, that's the big if).

2) We can also open a Delta amex to get some miles, but that will take months (need to complete our refinance first) and by the time miles get deposited it may be too late to book tickets, all award awailability will be gone.

3) We can transfer 25,000 miles I have to DHs account. Right now they have a promotion where they give you 100% bonus for transferring, so that will increase DHs miles by 50,000. But, that will cost us $310. Is it worth it?

You must be rich!

December 5th, 2011 at 03:59 pm

Have you ever been told that? Drives me crazy. Especially coming from a person who makes about twice as much.

What unattainable luxury was it in responce to? 3 extra month leave without pay to stay with my baby when he was a newborn.

I responded "no, we just planned for it". But that not understood. It was still insisted that I was "rich". I have heard this phrase before. It always drives me crazy. Because a lot of careful planning goes into getting those things (carefull managing of rewards programmes, tonn or research and price comparisons on big-ticket items, plain old saving for them, etc...) that are being dismissed by this phrase.

And I think I could understand if it was coming from a person who made a lot less money, but it usually is not the case, it comes from people who make more!

Do you ever hear that phrase?

2 days of hard effort. Why?

December 3rd, 2011 at 01:42 am

When you are an always tired parent of a small baby you have no time and a huge backlog of tasks that must be done.

And I spend the last 2 days doing something hard that I don't expect any return from what so ever. I entered a competition and was working on my submission. I have no chance of winning (I am competing against top of the field professionals who do this every day all day long and I have no experience.) And, there is no prize or anything.

Hours and hours of hard work and anxiety about it. Why did I do it? I don't know. DH was extremely supportive and took care of the baby evening to night. Why? Because he wanted me to try, even if I fail. Going outside comfort zone and attempting something new is an important step.

And I do feel a little different today, after submitting it. This year I won't say "I should have entered". I did. I guess this is the reward. Because this is the type of person I want to be.