Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Monday Madness on Tuesday

I'm playing Monday Madness this morning. Using the letters of the alphabet in order, name as many words as you can (or want, or feel like it) that have something to do with the town (or state) you live (or work) in...

Northern California
A - Arnold Schwarzenegger
B - Berkeley
C- cheese
D - diverse
F - foodies
G - gay community
H - hybrid cars
I - international
J - Jack London Square, Oakland
K - KGO AM 810 (my favorite radio station)
L - liberals
M - multi-cultural
N - Napa
O - Oakland
P - Point Reyes
Q - quantum physics at Stanford University
R - restaurants
S - San Francisco
T - Tahoe
U - unique
V - Vesuvio Cafe in SF
W - wine
X - X Street, Sacramento
Y - yoga
Z - Zen garden

Monday, January 30, 2006

Wading through investment information

It's so incredibly overwhelming in the choices we have to make for deciding our financial future. My goal this week is to put money to work for me. I've read a little bit about investing, but the time has come to make some decisions and take action. It worries me alot what we will do for our retirement and we must start saving today, so this week this is my goal. I also want to start contributing to Aidan's college fund.

We've also decided that the probability of owning a house in California is financially not possible. It's just way too expensive in this state! At our ages, it's wiser to invest the money we would have otherwise saved for a down payment to go into our retirement funds. This could, of course, change over the years, but right now we want to build up our funds rather than deplete them.

Ugh, now to wade through the floods of information.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

So many milestones at once

That baby is learning so much this month! On the 7th of this month he just began crawling. As of today he can zip around the apartment quickly and is now pulling up to a standing position. He can also fall effectively onto his butt without hurting himself, it's his way of changing direction. Now he likes to practice pulling up all the time.

Two days ago he also broke his first teeth -- the two lower ones. Baby's growing up!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Grocery costs

You'd think that in California, the salad bowl of the country, that groceries wouldn't cost so dang much. As of this morning, we're at $557 and Golf has yet to go to Chinatown this afternoon to shop for groceries for the upcoming Chinese New Year. I use coupons when I can, I always buy sale items and generic store brands, I make my own babyfood and yogurt and I don't buy processed food. The only thing splurged on is coffee and we go through a lot. I think that's what is busting us. So next month I'm going to keep a seperate tab of how much we spend on that and see what we can do about it. I might have to get yucky cheap coffee, we'll see. There's also no discount grocery stores in the city we live in like PaknSave, SmartnFinal or FoodMax. Golf just now said there's one in a nearby town, so next time we go on a big grocery run, we might have to make an extra drive there to see if we can save some money. We've got to get a handle on this grocery budget!!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The World is Flat

Oprah had Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist and author, on her show on Monday and I took note of his book called The World is Flat where he talks of technology allowing the global marketplace to accelerate at an unprecidented speed. This book is all about what I was writing about in my last post. I'm going to see if my library carries it. I need to hurry up and finish Harry Potter so I can start getting to the ever growing list of books I want to read.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The economic future of our country

The big story with Ford laying off thousands and shutting down manufacturing plants has got me worried. GM did it too just a few months previously too. Our shopping centers are filled with cheap goods manufactured elsewhere and we stand in long lines because LABOR HERE COSTS TOO MUCH. We are now importing goods and services from overseas mostly because of the high cost of doing business domestically. Companies, in their greed, farm out tech jobs to China and India. Legal services can even be farmed out. Customer service, farmed out. Most of our products we buy has been imported because we want it to be cheap. It's cheap in part because wages are lower and HEALTH CARE is subsidized by that country. Ford and GM have to compete with Japanese car manufacturers, whose labor costs are a fraction of ours, therefore the Japanese can sell us a better made car for far less money.

In the meantime Americans keep getting laid off and we can no longer depend on our employers. We're out fending for ourselves, in the meantime we need and or want cheap goods because we're in debt up to our eyeballs. At our jobs, many work what two or three people could do, and our benefits compensation has been drastically reduced. Because Labor is Expensive. With all the overtime and long commutes to and from, we're exhausted. And for this our employer can lay us off at a drop of a hat.

How are we going to compete with the rest of the world with an economic structure like this? Employer based health insurance is becoming prohibitively costly so businesses look offshore. Our colleges and universities are graduating young adults who are not much more intelligent than they were when they graduated high school. A college education these days doesn't mean what it used to -- there have been statistics quoted in various reports about this and how American graduates stack up against university graduates from other European and Asian countries. And in the meantime, China, with its vast natural resources, cheap labor and bright university educated minds, is steamrolling into a strong economy.

Our way of doing things is going to collapse soon. We can't go on like this and something drastic must be done. I'm not good at articulating this sort of heavy subject -- I don't have supportive details for my argument, but they exist out there with a switch of the radio button or a quick internet search of our newspapers. This is what I've been hearing for months and months and it concerns me greatly.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Guerrilla gourmet

I never knew this existed -- underground speakeasy-type restaurants. This is a very interesting article out of SFGate and rather befitting of this foodie metro area and the rebelliousness too. Fascinating and cool! :)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A day in San Francisco

Today we got to go to San Francisco!!! This was my first time going into the City since moving from Bangkok, and it was Aidan's first ever time. Chinatown is now celebrating the Chinese New Year with a street fair this weekend, so we decided to go check it out. Golf is ethnically 3/4 Chinese 1/4 Thai, so this is a part of his and Aidan's heritage and it's important to attend such cultural functions.

The fair was packed. Most vendors sold Chinese newspapers, music CDs, VCDs and DVDs. There were plants and flowers for sale and Chinese New Year banners and money envelopes. We didn't buy anything, but it was fun to look. We decided to go to a good dim sum restaurant that Golf knew of and it was also packed with people, so that was a sure good sign it served delicious food. And it was delicious. :) After lunch we shopped around the next street up where all the food stores are, and they were equally packed with Chinese patrons, getting ready for the new year.

We then decided to walk to the waterfront where the San Francisco Ferry building is. That area has been revitalized after decades of neglect and the result is a now famous farmer's market and foodie mecca galore. We went inside and browsed all the gourmet food shops. We bought a square of chocolate each, bittersweet 70% cocoa. Just right. Then we came to the cheese shop. It's famous for specializing in locally made artisan cheeses, so I tried to find a nice stinky goat cheese that was still small, since Golf doesn't like cheese at all. He can't understand the appeal of eating moldy old hardened milk. MMMmmmmm boy but I can. Bring it on!!!

There were so many pictures taken that I couldn't possibly put them all on this blog, so Golf updated the photo album. The first couple rows of pictures are from before our day out, so look beginning from the BART station and I wrote out captions so that you know what you're looking at.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Aidan's first portraits

We went to the mall yesterday to pick up Aidan's portraits from Penney's. I noticed once we were in the car that the teddy bear prop we used with him was what the camera focused on, and the baby's just a teeny bit out of focus. DRAT! It's not ruined the photo or anything, but it could have been better. Fortunately, we bought 3 temptation sheets that the studio gets us with at the end before we leave. It was an additional two poses, both of which we loved, and even with the price of that, the total cost was still low for a studio portrait sitting. So I'm satisfied overall and will use JC Penney again, but next time use no props as the camera doens't focus on the correct subject!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A couple of piccies to share

Golf, Aidan and I went for a walk on Sunday and it was so crystal clear we took a picture of San Francisco and the Bay. This view is apporximately a half mile or so from our home and part of my every day powerwalk route. Beautiful!

Peek a boo baby!

Peek a boo again!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Coffeemaker on the blitz

Woe is me, it's 7 AM and our coffeemaker isn't turning on. As fortune would have it, though, Golf bought a tea maker in Chinatown the other day. The kind that looks like a coffeepot with a filter down the center. So that's how I'm making our coffee -- I've never done it like that before, but it's turning out alright. That means today we are getting out butts down to Best Buy to get ourselves a new one!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Jack is BAAAACK!

Golf and I are HUGE 24 fans, and we're finishing up Season 4 on DVD this afternoon, in time for the Season 5 premier tonight! It's two hours tonight and two hours tomorrow night beginning at 8 PM on FOX! HECK YEAH!!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pics for my Mom and Dad

Of course anyone reading this blog is welcome to look, but these are special pics for Mom and Dad who can't visit at the moment. Here are pictures of Aidan crawling and standing up! :)

Crawling to Daddy!

I love to stand up and this is my favorite place to practice.

I also love to take out DVDs and CDs -- getting into stuff is my new favorite activity!

Look at my tongue!!! I stick it out often lately.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Great exercise day

Yesterday I had the best exercise day: I went for a vigorous bike ride for 1/2 an hour while Aidan had his afternoon nap (that's the luxury I get with a work at home husband). You can go a surprisingly long distance in a half hour! I have decided to start doing this whenever the weather is good. Bike riding works different muscles than my walking muscles and it really gets my heart rate up! In addition, once Aidan woke up, we also went on a walk. Of course today is supposed to be rainy, so it will be a yoga day. Now I have three forms of exercise for variety.

Many cable TV shows are also focusing on diet and exercise, being it's January, and time for New Year's resolutions, so watching these shows have been inspiring too. I feel so good today! And while I don't know if I lost any weight, at least I feel healthy. At least I know I'm doing all that's possible for my health and what my body will do, it will do, even if I have to wait til weaning time for weight loss.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Monday Madness

Oh, I haven't played in a long time, but here we go, Monday Madness!

1. Name 1 type of supplement that you take. Prenatal vitamins, since I'm still a breastfeeding mama.

2. List 2 books that you would like to read in 2006. Well, we went to Barnes and Noble yesterday before shopping at the farmers market and I saw a couple of books that looked very interesting. The first I will see if they have at the library, the second I will see if they have on Half.com:
In Praise of Slowness : Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore
The Art of Paper Collage by Susan Pickering Rothamel -- great advice in there!

3. List 3 hobbies that you have.
Listening to the radio
Reading books
Doing my artwork

4. List 4 gifts that you have received.
Moonstone ring from Nepal given by my husband for our anniversary. (I LOVE moonstone!)
Luxurious bath set from Sephora given by Melanie.
Giftcard and Christmas ornament from Carolyn
Sweaters for my birthday from Mom

5. Share 5 (instant & inexpensive) ways to spruce up a room.
Vacuum the carpet
Dust and put things back in order, fluff pillows on sofa or bed
An inexpensive bouquet of flowers
Open the blinds or curtains and let some light in
Incense, candles or air freshener to make it smell nice. Candles make it look pretty too

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Thank you's and other thoughts

I wanted to thank everyone who posted their supportive comments on my last entry. I dearly hope that the reason I haven't lost weight is because of my hormones for breastfeeding. When you do everything right and still see no results it's the most defeating feeling. I have five more months before I start to wean 'that baby'. While I wouldn't mind longer term breastfeeding (no later than age 1 1/2 or 2) I do mind the fat on my ass, so at that point I will wean him -- I will allow my vanity to overcome by that time!

Yoga -- why oh why am I so reluctant to stay with the program? It feels good when I do it and I feel SOOO relaxed and stretched afterward and I know the benefits of it. So why do I resist doing a workout? I have my first class tomorrow and I have a feeling it's going to run me over since I haven't done anything up until then. I keep putting off my art work too. Why is that? Both these activities contribute greatly to my well being and I feel sublime when I am engaged in them. What's up with that?

It's sunny today and so Golf and I are going to head to the Jack London Square farmer's market. Might browse around in the Barnes and Noble bookstore too. It will be fun to go somewhere besides the darn grocery store.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Looking like a human

Being a mom of a baby means my hair has to be kept in a pony tail or else it get's yanked. So no more hairstyles for awhile.
I'm 30 pounds overweight and it WON'T BUDGE.
Because of my weight gain, I have very few clothes that fit me, so I also look like a frump.
Now that I stay home all the time, I don't wear makeup either.
I've relapsed into nail biting again.

All this accumulates to a pretty low self image. I look HORRIBLE. My wonderful husband assures me I look great, but the mirror doesn't lie. If this stupid pregnancy weight would at least start to come off I'd feel a little better. But my ass is hanging on to every ounce of fat while I'm nursing. It's really something: I burn 400-500 calories a day just nursing, I exercise every day, I cook healfully and I watch my portions. I do crave sweets, but no more than when I lived in Thailand and was an attractive 140 pounds. So is it all just hormonal? I haven't begun menstruating yet, so with that and the breastfeeding, my hormones are still not at pre-pregnancy level. Am I just a freak of nature that is the one exception where breastfeeding does not help the fat disappear? I am despondent about it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Joined a weight loss support blog

Another blogging friend of mine had on her site a weight loss support blog, so I checked it out, liked it, and decided to join in. If I can give and get support then it might make it better for me.
I've kept up with the exercise and the portions are getting smaller, but could still use some more paring down. Rather than post everything about my struggles here, I decided to post with other women in the same boat.

I did buy some new exercise pants yesterday at Ross. They're Nike brand, normally $40, got them for $15. However, they are just slightly too small and they didn't have any cute ones that were larger. Normally I would have held off buying them, but that Ross store was going to be closing down, so I thought that I'd better get them now. I bought them for the yoga class I hope to start next Monday, but alas, I will have to go in looking a bit frumpy in the beginning.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My baby's name is...

... the #1 boy's name of 2005. :( :( Yes, these are frowny faces. I've never been one to jump on the trendy bandwagon; as a matter of fact, I've always run in the opposite direction! Even before getting pregnant, I'd always liked that name. I love male names ending with the letter N. They sound so elegant, and since Golf and I wanted the name to begin with A like our own first names (Golf's birth name is Adissapong), then Aidan was a natural choice. I never knew so many other families loved the name too. At least his name isn't spelled funny, like so many families like to do to their youngins.

My portion control breakfast

This is what I just now ate. The beauty of homemade food is that you can make them any size you want to. I love scones, and I've gotten really good at making them, but they have a full stick of real butter in each batch, except I use buttermilk instead of cream, of course. So I made them into half their normal size and with it, I have my homemade yogurt made from 2% milk and a touch of honey. Oh and I start with half caff coffee, and have another cuppa decaf after that. My previous post said I make everything from scratch, and you can see that it is indeed true!

Nearly crawling

This picture was taken yesterday. He gets on all fours and wobbles around, not quite crawling yet.

Downward facing puppy

Aidan does this downward dog position alot, but since he's just a baby, we call it a downward facing puppy instead! LOL!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Reassessing our lifestyle this new year

Another blogger friend of mine is beginning her road to voluntary simplicity and her discoveries are causing me to pause and look at my life and what I have because of my lifestyle choice. I've done pretty darn good in the four months we've been living in the States.

* I cook every meal from scratch, providing healthful, inexpensive nutrition.
* I buy everything I can on sale and use coupons.
* I breastfeed Aidan and feed him homemade babyfood, with the exception of his cereal.
* I can STAY AT HOME with him and not work for money, which is the most rewarding part.
* We've bought all our furniture used or from an inexpensive store, such as IKEA.
* The rest of our furnishings were extras from my parents who are currently RVing.
* Car is borrowed from our parents while they are RVing, thus saving a bundle. (we rarely drive anyway since Golf works from home, saving a TON on fuel.)
* Any clothes for the baby not given to us are bought from consignment shops.
* Any adult clothes are sale items.
* We have pride in being 100% debt free!
* I carefully track all our expenses on a spreadsheet so I can see exactly where our money is being spent.
* We have no clutter. Everything we have we use.

So far I feel like I'm doing everything right, now we keep living like this to see what happens. The biggest goals are financial, nest-egg investment and college savings kind of things. When I look back on my list, I feel like we're on the right track and it will pay off.