Monday, October 31, 2005

Visit to temple and art center

Happy Halloween everybody! Not doing anything this year since Aidan is still too small for any celebrations.

So yesterday Golf and I went to the Thai Temple in Berkeley. They offer food there every Sunday for a pretty cheap price, but what I didn't expect was how popular it was. It was CROWDED! And unfortunately, the vibe was more like that of a crowded food court in a Thai mall than at a temple. People seemed to forget they were in a temple and some didn't dress respectfully and I was disappointed in the overall vibe of the place. Golf said that the bigger Fremont temple is quieter and has more of a temple feel to it, so we'll go there next time. Below are pictures of the temple.

Afterward, we went to a nearby flea market where I picked up a Griswold cast iron skillet #6, shown here for $29, I got for $8. My mother told me about this name brand and I'm happy I found one for such a good deal. Today is the day for seasoning it in the oven and I'll use it to bake the corn bread for the southern style dressing used to stuff the turkey for Thanksgiving.

Later yesterday afternoon, I went to this nearby Frank Bette Center for the Arts, just down the street. I wanted to see if they offered art classes and workshops and boy do they ever! The lady who runs the place and her volunteer friend were especially kind and the art is beautiful. They have a weekly drawing class, but for members it costs $12 per class and $15 for non-members. Their workshops look like fun too, but it's also expensive. It's so depressing because I certainly cannot afford any of that. I would also like to volunteer there, especially if that might get me a discount in their classes, but unless my mom comes, I can't spare much time with a small baby. We'll see what I can work out because I would love to be a part of the art community here.

This is the front of the Berkeley temple.

Long lines and big crowds await the weekly Thai food feedings behind the temple.

Eating Thai food with an interested baby looking on. :)

The Buddha image in the main room of the temple. They did a great job making this temple look like the ones in Thailand. Same sort of paintings, lighting and carpeting.

The monk who stays here and gave Aidan blessings.

Receiving holy water sprinkles with blessings for Aidan here in the USA.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Oh god, the time change!

I don't like switching an hour back. In spring it's better going forward, but the fall back is awful. Even before having a baby with a strict bedtime and routine! Now I have to think of the logistics of keeping Aidan up for another hour when he's already grumpy and very much ready for his bedtime between 7 or 7:30 and nursed to sleep ususally before 8 PM. Now his internal clock is set to go to bed at those times, not one hour later. I guess it will be awkward for about a week or so, then he'll get used to it, afterall, he got used to a 15 hour time difference when we moved here!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Parents here for the weekend

My parents are here for the weekend, and my mother will be here with us until Monday, so having the extra hands for entertaining the baby are very helpful. I really enjoy their company and they love their grandson so much. I never had a close relationship with the only grandparent I ever had: My grandfather (mother's dad), and both of Golf's parents are deceased, so my parents are all Aidan has. And I'm so thankful for their enthusiastic involvement.

This weekend we're going back to the baby consignment store to shop for a winter coat and some thicker pants and many even some shoes -- or thicker socks.

Sunday is the day Golf would like to take us to the Thai temple that is in Berkeley. I've never been to any Thai temples in the States, only a few Hindu temples and ashrams, so it will be interesting to see how different or the same they are to the ones in Thailand. Baby needs some blessings now that we're here in the States. :)

Incidently, I have a new friend who has a baby boy only a month and a half younger than Aidan. Her husband also gets the same sorts of worse case scenarios played out in his head too, with his son. So I'm glad I'm not alone because the lack of comments in my previous post kind of makes me feel like I'm a loner in this department.

So my new friend is a woman seven years my senior who is a neighbor and noticed Golf and I one day taking Aidan out. I'm very glad she said hello. Maybe it's a California thing, but people are not very open and friendly here. The most friendly people are those who don't have kids with them. Fellow mothers of babies don't seem inviting, so I'm grateful for my new friend Donna. She and her husband were going to move to Las Vegas by December and I was bummed about Aidan and her son Jake not growing up together being good friends. Then I found out yesterday they are staying so now I can be happy that our sons will still get to play together when they get older. They already look at each other with keen interest. It's so cool!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Various thoughts and updates

What would you call an impulse buy of about $8 on how to manage your money and be a better investor??? Seems that would cancel each other out! LOL! Yesterday Golf and I walked by a Waldenbooks on the way to get some things from Walgreen's (on a LIST) and I saw The Millionaire Mind on clearance. I've read the Millionaire Next Door and it was a brilliant book, so I was naturally interested in this one. I have to finish Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince first, though and that's a big book! And now for something completely different...

Disturbing thoughts have haunted me my whole life. I tend to play out scenarios in my head at their absolute worst and I see it in detail. If my husband is late I envision him getting into an accident or being the victim of an assault. When camping, I imagined the tent I was in being mauled by a bear. (Not condusive to falling asleep!) Now that I have a precious baby, I have thoughts about him succombing to SIDS and holding his limp, lifeless body in my arms while I'm wailing in agonizing grief. In bed with my husband in the middle of the night I frantically check our bed covers in case I nursed Aidan to sleep and I forgot about him and smothered him with blankets. I'm always about 60% still in a sleep state when I do this. It's awful to have these thoughts and fears. Incidently, anytime I do nurse Aidan in bed in the middle of the night and we end up falling asleep, I always sleep very lightly. I keep blankets away from his face and am on constant vigilance. Are these fierce protective feelings and fears normal for parents to have for their little cubs? I know parents worry, but having these disasterous scenarios in my head is tortuous.

And speaking of our little bear cub, we've got some new photos to share. :) Included are pictures of a cute little rocking horse my mom got for Aidan, and also the promised pictures from our trip to the river delta where my parents are staying with their RV.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Finally getting the rest of it

Today my parents are coming out for a visit on this rainy day, our first rainy day since moving here. We're making one last stop to Ikea to get the last of what we need to complete our apartment. The main thing we need is our entertainment center. We need a corner unit, but if we don't find something there we like, I'm going to oder this one at Very basic, but in an apartment that's quickly becoming filled, we can't get anything huge (unlike our SOFA!)

At Ikea (I'm really not a sales person for them, they just have inexpensive, nice looking things) we're also going to get a full length mirror to put in our bedroom or the hallway, two large cannisters for rice and flour, CD racks to go on the wall and a peg rack for jackets that will be over the shoe rack in the entry.

I'm making a lovely 16 bean soup for me and my parents when they arrive. Unfortunately, Golf doesn't like beans so he gets to eat the leftover wild rice and bulger with braised vegetables we ate last night. Yummy! :)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday Madness

Another game of this or that in this week's Monday Madness
1. diamonds or pearls? Freshwater pearls -- their odd shape looks cool
2. paperback or hardcover books? Hardcover when I can afford it
3. carpet or hardwood floors? Depends on which room -- I like both
4. dogs or cats? I like both too!
5. fluffy or firm pillow? Firm
6. fine point or medium point pens? Fine
7. clocks a little fast or on time? On time
8. mahjong or spider solitaire (or other)? Mahjong rocks! Never played spider solitaire
9. wall calendar or desk calendar? Wall calendar
10. 'Survivor' or 'The Amazing Race Neither -- never watched them and don't know about them

Our first pleasure outing

Yesterday the family had our first pleasure outing since moving here. We went to see our parents at their RV park where they are staying for the next month. They are about 50 miles or so from our home along the river deltas that feed into the valley. The place they are staying is Bethel Island and it was so quiet and peaceful. There is, of course, a big fishing and boating community there and lots of retirees. We walked along the river levee and saw a duck, pelicans, comorants and egrets. Aidan had a great time out and only slept on my chest during our walk. He was so excited to be in a different environment! It's a good thing he'll be a month older for the big Thanksgiving gathering with all the attention he'll be getting!

Anyway, it was a great day and I'll let you know when Golf gets the new photo album of our trip uploaded. :)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Various thoughts this morning

Man, when I was living in Thailand, I'd have something to blog about almost every day -- usually some frustration about how differently we westerners would have completed a task, some cultural event, or new quirky food discovery etc. Now my life is so different! It's very laid back and now that I'm spending most of my time at home, I almost feel like there's not much that's interesting to tell the world about. I also miss my time teaching. That was the best career I had -- the most fulfilling and meaningful and I'm so glad to have had it. If I started my teaching career younger, I'd have spent more years in Thailand teaching. I'm so glad to know that for the rest of my life, my husband, son and I will be always returning. It's so true that Thailand grows on you and once you've visited, you will always want to return.

I think I'm still in my transitional stage -- not completely used to being here yet and missing a little bit my old life. The main things I do not miss are the heat, humidity and terrible pollution. Here we get noise too, the goddamn leaf blowers. But other than that and the busses that drive by, we're living in a pretty darn quiet area.

Speaking of quiet areas, my parents are now with their RV in a smallish town about 50 miles from here and on Sunday, we are going to go visit them for the day. They are along a river delta and it's very peaceful with bountiful nature all around. We'll show Aidan some nearby farm animals that Mom and Dad said are there. Cool! We haven't taken a trip farther than Berkeley since moving here almost two months ago. It will be really good to get out and see things before the weather starts getting cold.

Before driving out to my parents' place, I plan to go to an estate sale early in the morning near here. One of these old mansions, hacienda style with all the beautiful Mexican tilework, posted an estate sale sign on the porch and I would love to go, if anything to check out the inside of that beautiful house.

That's it for now!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Photos of the finished nursery

Golf put up the latest edition of the photo album -- it's usually updated weekly and I'll always post here when it is. There are pics of the whole nursery, finally FINALLY finished. I would love to get more artwork up on the walls, but have not seen anything I like for a price I like. Which brings me to the next topic -- creating my own art!

While living in Bangkok, I really got into the idea of making collages. Not just pictures made from cutout magazines, no, I want to use hand made papers of varying thicknesss, from tranparent to cardboard. I want different textures and may even add things like beads and small jewelry bits. I would focus first on creating works for children and once I get pretty good at it, I'll try selling it to make some money.

For fun, I would love to do landscapes, gardens, historical landmarks, and still lifes. Beautiful things! And if I become successful enough, I'd rent a studio space, for a two bedroom apartment simply does not have the room to have my own workspace. So between artist and postpartum doula, these are the two career switches I'm considering when Aidan gets a little older. :)

Monday, October 17, 2005

The free piece of furniture I got

This is how it looked before I did anything to it, with the sign still on it and everything. Pretty dirty but no scratches or other damage.

And this is how it looks in Aidan's room, all cleaned up. In the drawer are his small clothing such as his hats, booties and socks. Also stored is his little finger puppets and rattle. The cupboard below holds his books. The middle shelf is for all his toys. Pretty nice looking for a free piece of furniture! Also notice the hospital momento of his birth on the top. :)

Do you want to see the rest of his nursery? I think Golf is getting a new photo album put together and all those pics will be in that one. Maybe tomorrow. I'll let ya know!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cool freebie

My sister and her DH came to visit Aidan and we went for a walk. On the sidewalk about two blocks from the apartment was an awesome dresser that with a FREE sign on it. We snagged it and took it back. It took both Jim and I to carry it, since Anna was carrying the baby. It just needs a good scrub and will go in Aidan's room because he barely has any furniture and needs a place for his books and toys. I will take a picture of it tomorrow and upload it to my blog. Amazing that this totally perfect piece of furniture that could fetch about $20 at a thrift store (or more at a consignment store) was free. Living in a good neighborhood has its perks. :)

Monday Madness

It's that time of week! Monday Madness

Which one?
1. Lemonade or Iced Tea? Iced Tea
2. DVD or VHS? DVD
3. Gold or Silver? Silver
4. Baseball or Tennis? Tennis, I guess -- not a fan of either.
5. Spring or Autumn? Autumn
6. Diet or Regular? Diet sodas, regular everything else.
7. Hearts or Stars? Stars
8. Snail Mail or Email? Email
9. Shop: Online or In-Store? Depends on the product or good deal involved.
10. Credit Card or Check? Check (debit card is the best)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Awkward reconnection with a friend

I was good friends with former colleague at the first school in Thailand where I worked. Since I had gotten a job at another school and moved away, I had only seen her at my wedding a few months later and then when I was seven months pregnant with Aidan. We'd occasionally talk on the phone, but she was busy teaching and tutoring every day. EVERY day. She had a whole family to take care of and didn't have a lot of time, so I never was offended that she didn't have time for visiting.

Well, after the baby came, I never called her. I was going through some baby blues and home sickness and it was too much for me to pick up a phone. Soon a month passed, then two passed. After that, I felt weird about calling her -- would she be angry with me? It was still a pain to take Aidan anywhere and all I wanted to do was hole up in my apartment.

Suddenly it was time to move back to the States and I still hadn't even called her. Now it's been about seven months since we even communicated and this morning I finally emailed her, apologizing about not getting in touch. One might argue that she also did not contact me, which is true. She didn't have a lot of time and she did have a lot of responsibilities. Anyway, I don't look at it as anybody's fault, and I sucked up my courage and wrote to her.

I hope she writes me back.

Do any of you use Netflix?

Couple days ago, Golf and I rented four DVDs from Blockbuster and the total came to almost $20!!! I'm now seriously considering subscribing to Netflix for basically $18 a month for unlimited viewage, just three DVDs at any one time. I think that's a great deal. I need to justify this subscription because while I do want to be frugal in our spending, this is our only source of entertainment besides having cable TV (that my mother is graciously paying for for a year). Before Aidan, Golf and I would regularily attend movies, partly because in Thailand it's about $3 - $4 per person, day or night. And with the cool air-con and big screen, it was something do pass the time when there wasn't much else to do. Nothing compares to the big screen with good sound, but not for American prices, especially if you factor in snacks.

I still want to see movies, but not for $10 a pop. Many movies these days really aren't that great and I remember quite a few I'd seen in Thailand where I was glad I wasn't paying American prices because I'd feel ripped off from the mediocrity. So is anybody out there feel like they are getting their money's worth with Netflix? Is it easy to get the new releases?

New Photos Uploaded

Golf has more new pictures up of our growing boy with the family. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A carpet accident

I had an accident the other day: nail polish! Need I say more? It was an old bottle but a pretty color and it was all sticky and gooey, so I put some nail polish remover in it to thin it out. However, I neglected to screw on the cap since I was just going to walk to the living room to paint my toes. Sure enough, in a beautiful arc that ended up looking like a Jackson Pollock painting, the dark mocha color made a lovely design on a carpet that did not belong to me. All I saw were dollar signs of our deposit disappearing as the damaged carpet would need replacing.

Well, my quick thinking sister hopped on the internet and found many solutions for taking nail polish out of carpet, most of which recommend Windex. So Golf and sis went to the store to purchase several different kinds of things that could work too such as rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, more nail polish remover and of course the windex.

We scrubbed and scrubbed and it's about half way out. So I got more Windex soaking it now, to be scrubbed later this afternoon during baby's naptime. Wish me luck, cause I really don't want to have to pay for replacing carpet in this apartment. UGH.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Monday Madness

I haven't played Monday Madness in weeks, so here goes!

1. Name one productive thing you accomplished this past weekend.
Arranged a few living room pieces (we're newly moved into an apartment).

2. Name two things that you look forward to doing.
1)going to Tilden Park in Berkeley with Aidan and DH, since it's a big, quiet place to walk around in nature.
2) taking a road trip somewhere in the US when Aidan's a bit older

3. Name three things that gross you out.
1) chicken's feet in a Thai market soup that I was about to eat
2) hair not connected to the body; ie on the floor or countertops
3) cleaning up cat sh*t or puke off the floor

4. Name four things that you normally do on a daily basis.
1) Make and drink coffee
2) brush my teeth
3) breastfeed Aidan
4) wash dishes

5. Name five things that you own that you think you could get rid of and not miss.
Nothing at the moment because we've already decluttered from our recent move. It's something I take pride in!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Give a Mom a Muffin

I got this from an online friend's blog and thought it was worth sharing. Whew! :)

If you give a mom a muffin,
She'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She'll pour herself some.
Her three-year-old will spill the coffee.
She'll wipe it up.
Wiping the floor, she'll find dirty socks.
She'll remember she has to do laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
She'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind hershe has to plan for supper.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She'll look for her cookbook("101 Things To Do With a Pound of Hamburger" ).
The cookbook is setting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The check book is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old.
She'll smell something funny.
She'll change the two-year-old's diaper.
While she is changing the diaper, the phone will ring.
Her five-year-old will answer and hang up.
She'll remember she wants to phone a friend for coffee.
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
And chances are…
If she has a cup of coffee,
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Been so busy lately

I've been neglecting posting the last few days just because I've been so tired by the end of the day that all I want to do is veg in front of the tube til bedtime. I'm sure all the moms out there can relate! Cookin', doing laundry, ironing, washing dishes, making the bed.... and Golf helps me with alot of this since he works from home, he makes his workday stretch longer but he takes more frequent breaks to help me with the baby. I like it that way.

OK, so the dilemma with Aidan is this: Since starting him on cereal once a day, he's been more fussy than he used to be and he's also farting more. He could be fussy because of teething too. We can see a white spot on his lower gums and Mom says it's definitely a tooth coming up! So I don't know if we should stop the cereal and wait, even though he seems real interested in eating and is so ready to start, or keep feeding him once a day and chalk his fussiness up to being the teething. Any opinions out there?

Mom and Dad bought us a high chair at this children's consignment store yesterday. Aidan just hates sitting in his bouncy chair on the floor where he can't be up at our level, so with the high chair he's right there with us and he's taken to his new piece of furniture quickly. We also got a great deal on this chair. Comperable chairs cost more than double the price and this chair was in great condition. Has both trays, reclines and includes two toys that attach to the small tray both in very good condition.

We've been so good about buying used stuff and there's so much good quality things out there -- many frugal folks out there know that used doesn't mean worn out and ugly. In today's consumer throwaway society, most stuff is still practically in next-to-new condition. Yee HAW! Better for me, who prefers to pay less than half.

Off to finish watching So You Think You Can Dance (I love to watch people dance -- remember that show Solid Gold back in the 80's?!?!) and then Nanny 911.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Got a sofa and a bookcase

The other day I went walking with Aidan to explore more of our new hometown and found a home furnishings consignment store and had to take a lookie loo. I found a nice big comfy sofa for $150 and some bookcases for $25 and $35 -- nice tall wooden ones. I went home to consult with Golf and the next day we came out together to see what he thought. We liked them and made the purchase, except one of the bookcases was sold. But we saw another for $65, and it had deeper shelving so we could double layer the smaller books and would do the work that two would do, so we went ahead with it. Delivery was an extra $35 and so worth it since getting furniture home was our biggest issue. I mean I love craigslist, but if you don't have a way of taking something home, it does no good.

The sofa has ended up being a bit large for the living room, but we can make it work. I'm glad we got it because with Aidan growing up into messy toddlerhood, the sofa will likely be bounced on and get many things spilled on it, so if it ends up ruined, then it's no big loss. Once he turns five, we might consider something nicer. I just remember reading a friend's blog about how her two children constantly threaten her nice couch and she has to keep vigilance over it as well as a slip cover!

So far most of the things in our apartment are either bought used or borrowed and/or given to us by my parents. And thank goodness too since we started out with basically nothing when we moved back to the States. It costs ALOT of money to furnish a home! So despite a pretty costly start-up these last two months, I think we can finally start budgeting for monthly expenses that occur regularly.

Aidan's eating solids now!

For weeks now Aidan's been showing an avid interest every time DH or I eat or drink anything, so yesterday I went to the natural foods store and bought him some organic baby rice cereal. He took to it like he'd been eating forever and he finished the whole thing! We don't even have a proper spoon or high chair for him yet. I plan to get him a rubber tipped spoon this week, but until then, we'll use the demi-tasse spoon we have and the Chinese sauce bowl for his cereal. What a good eater I have!

I can't believe I ate the whole thing!!!! :)