Friday, December 28, 2007

No work until Wednesday

One week ago we left for my parents' place for Christmas and we got back yesterday. It was a memorable visit; I'll leave it at that. I had a very nice time with my sister who lives in SoCal and because she lives so far away, I see her once, maybe twice a year for only a few days at a time. I always feel so sad when she has to go since I know I won't see her again for many months. I hope we can fly down to see her by spring or summer next year.
I also chatted a lot to her husband who is the number one salesman nationwide in his company and is compensated extremely well for it. Why not get some tips from such success?!?
Now we're back home and nobody is interested in networking or doing business until after New Year's Day, so I'm enjoying a few more days off until January 2 and not putting any pressure on myself.

Right now I'm reading Amy Tan's The Hundred Secret Senses. Of course I know who Amy Tan is, but this is the first book of hers I'm reading, and I did see The Joy Luck Club movie, but didn't read the book. So far it's very good and a nice change from reading books on business and sales techniques. Everyone needs a good work of fiction now and then...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Today's Plans and my speech result

We're off to our friends' house today for a Christmas party. I don't like giving gifts for Christmas because I feel that the holiday has become far too consumer driven. Instead I prefer to gather with people and have delicious food and enjoy one another's company! So today we're going to some dear friends' house and we're having a lovely meal with duck, potatoes, green beans with roasted fennel and pearl onions, honey ginger carrots, beer, champagne, appetizers and a lovely dessert from a local bakery here in town. Aidan will help to decorate their Christmas tree today and all in all, it's going to be a wonderful day.

Speech result from Thursday's Toastmasters: I was awarded best speaker of the night! I was so surprised because I'm up against far more experienced members. I also was awarded best Table Topics, which means you're given an off-the-cuff topic to talk about for 2 minutes. What a surprise!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An over the top birthday gift

So I turn 38 today. At what age can you no longer say 'I'm in my mid-thirties'? At least I can still say that I'm thirty-something! I find I no longer stress about my age the way I used to before I was married with a baby. Just having those two events taken care of has put my heart to rest, FOR ME it was something very important to fulfill in my life.

But I tend to always find something to stress about, and now it's saving for our future. My upcoming years remind me that I need to work hard when I'm younger so that 20 or 25 years down the road I won't need to work. It's very difficult to do when you've got a child not yet in school and we have to figure out childcare options. We're getting it sorted out, though.

And speaking of working, my dear husband bought me the most over the top birthday gift: A new laptop computer!!! I've had my other laptop since January 2001, just before my return to Thailand. I didn't want to trudge over to internet cafes every time I wanted to log on. Needless to say my old laptop was overloaded, slow and tired. Golf recently bought a new desktop computer (to replace one that was about 10 years old!) and he will be using that one for his translating and I had questioned to myself how we would share it because I didn't use my old laptop very often. Well, he solved that problem last night! I'm so pleased, thank you very much, honey!

Gotta go get Aidan up now and later this morning make my birthday brownies - Swiss Truffle style, whatever that means, but it sure sounds delicious!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My Next Toastmasters Speech

I've decided to give another speech this coming Thursday at Toastmasters, and I've chosen my topic: Making a difference with a Microloan.

I mentioned in a previous post, and today I joined up and finally made a loan of $25 to start out (I don't have much to spare until I make my first sale) and to the left of my postings, you can see the woman in Tajikistan I chose to make a loan to. I felt I could not give a speech about something I believe in unless I'm actually participating in it, so the good thing is that in making my decision to give this speech, it spurred me on to finally making that loan!

My speech is going to be about the benefits microloans bring to the poor of developing countries. I hope I can inspire some of my fellow Toastmasters to also make a loan during this holiday season of giving.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cold in the eye of the beholder

It's cold here - for California standards, anyway. We have a neighbor right across the way who has her door wide open, screen door shut to let in all that frigid air. And one of her kitchen windows open. BBBBBBUUUUUUURRRRRRRRR!!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Happy 40th Birthday, Honey!

You've reached a milestone today, my wonderful husband. I love you so much and you mean the world to me. Here's to many, many more birthdays! I hope you loved your massage therapy session and your new Otaku tee shirt.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A unique networking group

Today I met up with a wonderful group of women in a networking group organized by Nicola Ries-Taggart and it's called Moms in Business. It was our first meeting and about 12 came - not bad for a first time!

Turns out there are quite a few moms out there like me who are not completely a stay-at-home mom, nor are we full time workers. Many of us are starting our own businesses or are indepentent contractors or consultants. Moms in Business is an opportunity to network, talk about business, talk about kids and how to juggle all that into a manageable life

Today two big issues were discussed. First was an issue that Golf and I face: we can't afford child care - even part time child care is very expensive. But if we are able to get Aidan to a pre-school part time, it would free us to work hard during those hours, bringing in more business. It was a quandry that several moms had faced and we talked about different options and gave me some good ideas to look into.

Second issue was how to tackle the feelings of isolation that work at home moms feel sometimes. Many women talked about how they don't ever get out of the house or their sweatpants! One said that she simply didn't have any nice clothes any more, and if she and her husband were invited to a nice party, she'd panic because she didn't have anything appropriate in her closet. Because of feeling isolated and not getting out to talk to people, MARKETING their business was a problem for a few.

It was a diverse group of women - some had only children, some had teenagers, some had two kids in school, some in creative artistic careers, others in more analytical types of careers. All were very interesting and engaging to be around and I look forward to next month! Thank you Golf for babysitting Aidan this morning. :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

A busy hiatus

This is my first chance to catch up on my blog in over a week! It's been such a whirlwind....

My trip to Las Vegas went quite well. I had a chance to meet the other professionals in my organization and they are from all over the country, most located in the midwest since the parent company is located in Louisiana. One of the interesting facts I discovered is that I'm the only woman and I'm one of the youngest (and I'm not young anymore!)

Our meeting was held at Caesar's Palace and I was surprised and pleased to find a HUGE Thai spirit house on the premesis. It was covered in silver mirrors with a golden Lord Bramha with his four faces seated in the center. It was beautiful and I found myself sitting there quite often as it was on the way to the pedestrian walk-over to the other side of the street. Anyone familiar with Thai culture knows they love to gamble and they love to appease the spirits to keep them happy. Obviously a well-to-do Thai family wanted lotsa luck gambling at Caesar's Palace. I loved watching the passers-by noticing the "exotic little temple". :)

I also noticed in some of the other casinos that the main entrance was flanked by two huge Chinese lions, also a symbol of luck. The casino owners know a thing or two about their Asian customers! There was one thing that struck me as offensive (something offensive in Las Vegas? How could that be?) and that was a nightclub at the Venetian called The Tao. This video shows it - it is GORGEOUS inside, but it's a NIGHTCLUB for chrissake. Buddha statues inside and statues of monks behind the bar... I mean STUNNING statues and images that look like they belong in a museum and during the evenings have drunken writhing mating rituals before them. OK rant is over, but it's highly insensitive and ignorant, IMHO.

Right after my trip to Vegas I had to substitute teach all this week, my networking meeting was on Wednesday, my investment club meeting was Wednesday night and my Toastmaster's meeting was last night. I did win as best speaker last night, though! I did an organizational speech on the repurcussions of China's gender imbalance. In 15 years time, it is expected that there will be 30 million more men than women in China and what's going to happen to Chinese society with all those wild and sex-starved bachelors roaming around?!?!? I find it to be fascinating and important, a result of the one child policy implemented back in 1980.

So I'm thrilled that it's now Friday. I haven't been this happy for an upcoming weekend since I taught regularly in Bangkok since being at home with Aidan most the time one day feels just like the next, weekend or not.

Anyway, more to come later!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Going to Vegas

I'm leaving tomorrow morning for the first national conference my company is hosting and I'll be away until early Sunday morning. I'll be staying at the Stratosphere and I'm looking forward to a roller coaster ride at the top! This is the first time I've been traveling on my own since meeting Golf over three years ago. And I've only been to Vegas one time back in 1992 for a family reunion, so I'm quite excited to see all the new attractions and casinos that have been built. I know it's a cheesy sleazy place, but it does look like fun to do a 3 day venture (one of which is a full day training period anyway).

This trip I have packed a big suitcase - mostly because that's all we have - either big or too small. I have to bring several changes of business attire, unlike my adventure travel days where you bring only bare essentials and launder your clothes as needed. No, I have to bring my curling brush, hairspray, several pairs of shoes, jewelry and a few business suits in addition to my off-time jeans and comfy clothes.

The only person not looking forward to my trip so much is Golf. This is his first long-time stretch alone with Aidan, but fortunately Aidan is getting easier to handle alone because he can entertain himself better than when he was super small. He also seems to be better behaved when he's with one parent. When both of us are around he gets quite contrary!

Bon Voyage! I shall tell you all about it when I get back.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Got my Toastmasters Kit in the mail!

I'm all fired up about my Toastmasters club and participating. Today I got a Priority Mail envelope, nice and thick and heavy. In it was the introduction, the Competent Communication and Competent Leadership manuals. Also included were mini manuals about effective evaluation, speaking voice and meaningful gestures. All valuable aspects to be able to lead.

At my last meeting on Thursay all club members give an improv speech on a topic given to them only moments before. No time to prepare. It's to practice your thinking while being on the spot and we have to talk for two minutes, which is a long time when you're up there talking off the cuff!

My evaluator said I clasp my hands a lot, look up at the ceiling (I do tend to look up when thinking) and I said 'ah' and 'um' so much that he lost count - in two minutes, mind you!

So I know what I have to work on. Even telling a friend who I know and feel comfortable with about the service I'm selling I noticed how I was umming and ahhing a lot and looking up. I need so much practice to LOOK confident and BE confident when presenting something I have to offer that someone is going to have to pay a fee to get - and I must convince that person I and my company are trustworthy and that means being confident in the way I talk about the service and how I present myself through voice and body language. I have lots of work!

Weird how I'm a natural in the classroom, but in front of adults, I get badly flustered. Will keep you updated on my progress!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Contemplation for October 23

Seize hold of the moment that is before you and begin again your journey to the inner universe. Right now, wherever you are on the path, however many times ou have faltered, begin again.
There is such joy in beginning the day anew.

Just as your breath travels in and out over and over again, tirelessly, in the same way, if you feel you have faltered on the path, begin once again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Yes, it worked out!

I got an email from my Thai student's teacher yesterday. She said that the girl's guardian (auntie) would like me to start tutoring her! Of course we have to see how the girl feels about it, we certainly don't want to force her to do anything she strongly objects to!

In the meantime I've been reading up on some sales techniques that do not involve cold calling. The thought is petrifying and has a proven high failure rate. My experimentation of going out to talk to prospects will be at the end of the month with my dad in his town. See, I have no mentor here to help guide me. I'm reading all kinds of books, but no PERSON to connect with. My dad has lots of confidence, although he's never been in sales before. I'll see how it goes with him.

I'll also be going to Las Vegas next month for the first annual conference of my company and I expect to get lots of information on how to go about getting qualified prospects. I've got an appointment to meet with the company's founder one on one, so I'll be asking lots of those types of questions.

Anyway, that's what's been happening. Not that much since Golf's been out working in South San Francisco every day the last couple weeks on a big sound recording job. I've been holding down the fort here, being an at-home mama.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tutoring a Thai Student?

I put a question mark at the end of the subject's sentence because I'm unsure if it will happen or not. I had an epiphany while I was taking my bath this morning. In the high school class I subbed for a couple times, I had a Thai student who had been in the US for about a year. Her English was so-so and there was still quite a bit she didn't understand when I spoke. Her mother had asked her if I could tutor her and I said that I didn't know because at that time we were contemplating a move to Sacramento.

Now we're certainly not moving and the thought of helping this young Thai girl get a head start in her learning process would make me feel wonderful. I would like to tutor her twice a week for an hour each time, help her with her homework, expand her vocabulary and hopefully inspire a love of learning within her. If she can do well in her subjects, it will likely open a whole new world for her, or at the very least increase her perspective and confidence. I would like to offer her some help free of charge. To volunteer three hours per week total during a time when Aidan takes his nap anyway is not much and could make a huge difference for this girl. I hope her teacher calls me to tell me it's a go.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Went to my first Toastmasters meeting

Last night was fun! I got to meet the members of the local chapter. I particiapted in an impromptu 2 minute speech - which is challenging for me because often my mind blanks out. This is one of the reasons why this club will be good for me because I need to articulate my thoughts faster. The members also challenged me to give a 5-7 minute "Icebreaker" speech on myself, and it was actually quite easy to fill up all the time. The stunner was that I was voted most interesting speaker at the end of the evening!

One thing I noticed about what I went through is that I didn't feel very nervous. I think it was because I didn't THINK about being nervous. Now if I can only get into that state of mind when I give sales presentations because right now I feel extremely nervous. I believe that the big difference is that in a club environment, you don't risk rejection. In a sales presentation, you do run the risk of rejection. I need to not fear rejection and toughen up.

It was a great night though. I look forward to the weekly meetings and becoming a great speaker!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Graditude Journal

I've never been one to keep a journal. As a matter a fact, this blog is the closest thing I 've ever had to one. My personality has been as such that I am attracted to trying new things, and in the past that has been outwardly expressed through travel and seeing new places locally.

Now that I'm a mom, I've been cocooned in my home, limited by what an infant, now toddler, can do. That need for exploration has not gone away, but it has been channeled in different ways now, which I find to be an interesting phenomenon. For one thing, I'm entering a new career that requires skills that need to be learned and practiced, and mastering those skills and developing the courage to make that phone call or enter that place of business to talk to the owner is a huge step for me and it's exciting and scary - much like scaling the side of that enormous hill with a 10 inch pathway in the middle of the Himilayas!

So last Friday when Oprah was chatting with Elisabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, Gilbert mentioned she keeps a daily journal and records two things each day. She asks herself What do I really, really, really want? Write down one specific want for that day. The next thing to write down is the happiest moment of that day. The last few days, that has involved my time with Aidan. I include one more thing in my daily journal: Write down one thing I am grateful for. Every day I think of something specific that I want to express my gratitude about and I reflect on it.

This is a fun and fulfilling experiment. My need for exploration has turned inward since I am limited by my outward opportunities. And I think it is a very, very good direction!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bad Karaoke

When we lived in Bangkok, Golf and I bought a couple of CDs of kids songs for Aidan as he grew older, so he could hear Thai singing by children. Well, we opened them awhile ago and they sound terrible. Very low budget, midi style keyboards with the kids singing off-key and the sound engineering sounds as if somebody had a microphone in a karaoke room. We do have one CD we bought at the Queen Sirikit book fair that's held every year and that one is extremely cute and well done. At least we have one good one, but Aidan likes the bad karaoke one too, so I have to endure like a good mother.... :)

Joining Toastmasters International

I'd always heard of this organization, but was never in a position to need it. I had actually read on a sales website that it was a good idea to join a public speaking club or take a class, so I thought of this organization to help me with my confidence and the way I present myself to others.

With my new business I sell, I know it well now. I feel confident in my knowledge of my service. However, when I practice in front of Golf or any of my other friends, I stumble over my words and my thoughts jumble up into a wadded mess. I'm hoping this class will help me keep my thoughts organized and my output seamless. My first class will be this coming Thursday for only an hour and a half and it's really close by. We meet weekly too, so hopefully I will improve quickly!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A contemplation for today

I recently got a book of spiritual contemplations for each day of the year. Periodically I'd like to share what that day's reflections are with you. Here is what October 6th says. My name is in italics; you replace it with yours.

That which is not, came.
That which came must go.
Amy, remain calm and steady
in the midst of all that comes and goes.

What is inevitable must happen.
You cannot prevent it.
Amy, recognize the inevitable.
Remain tranquil in yourself.

This brief life passes quickly
and in the end one dies.
Now is the time, Amy,
to meditate on the Self.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Welcome October!

I can't believe the year's nearly done already.
The visit last week with Golf's friend went really well. Dii is a wonderful woman and she was truly surprised that she was in a book and on the author's website. She lives back in Thailand right now and was on a several month visit to the US to stay in the Buddhist monestary affiliated with the one she attended as a girl in Eastern Thailand. It is located in the far north of the state, in the mountains and I'd love to go for a weekend trip to check it out sometime. It sounds like a beautiful place.

Meeting with Mr. Coffee was interesting. He cannot use my services due to his tax situation. His business needs to become more successful first. I called to discuss this at the main office and it turns out that Mr. Coffee's situation is one of the few instances where my service would not work. So how do you like that?!?!

I need to put my gloves on and get into the ring - I believe with 100% conviction in my company and my service and my father's even interested in helping me out in his town (a three hour drive from home - that would expand my area a lot!) But I have been so jittery to get started. I know the facts of the service down pat, I just need to get out there and put myself on the line.
Heck I remember feeling jittery before every new job and it's always, ALWAYS better and easier than imagined. Will let you know how it goes this week.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ken Burns is back with The War

Ken Burns is an extraordinarily talented documentary film maker, with his works appearing on PBS. He's done the History of Jazz, one on Baseball, and one on the Civil War. This time he's done a seven part series called The War and it is premiering tonight on PBS. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to seeing this man's vision. Golf loves history, especially that of wars in the past, and I'm excited to show him how well a Ken Burns documentary is.

Book stories

I have two book stories to share:

I mentioned in my previous post that we're seeing a friend of ours on Wednesday at his coffee shop in Berkeley. His Thai ex-wife, A, was friends with another Thai woman named Dii who stayed in Mr. Coffee and A's home before their marriage ended. Years ago, Golf worked out of Mr. Coffee and A's home helping with the Thai Language books that A later became well known for. Anyway, Dii and Golf became friends and they enjoyed each other's company. They did fall out of touch and have not seen or heard from one another for a few years now. Mr. Coffee called us last week and said Dii was in town and could we meet at his coffeeshop in Berkeley on Wednesday. So we're going to go meet Dii and have a nice visit with Mr. Coffee and I'm going to tell him about my fantastic service that will save him tons of moola.

A few months ago, Golf, Aidan and I walked into a local thrift store one Saturday morning. I found a book with a Buddha image on the cover and it turned out to be a travelogue and spiritually contemplative book about a Canadian man who went to live in a forest monestary famous for ordaining foreigners in eastern Thailand. This part of Thailand is very poor and the time the author stayed in this monestary was in the early 80s.

I really wanted this book, I didn't have ANY money with me and while itwas only 50 cents, I still had the cashier put it on hold and we went to the ATM a few blocks away, bought some stuff to get change and came back later to get it. Shows you how much I wanted it!

In one of his stories he spoke of meeting a teenage girl whose mother had cancer and ended up putting a bullet through her head to end her misery. The monks asked this girl's father if they could keep the mother's bones on display in the temple since Buddhist custom does not allow for cremation by those who commit suicide. It was a way to remind the laypeople of the transitory nature of our life and how to nurture our spirit that goes on, but our bodies do not.

The author had met the daughter and she asked him if he wanted to meet her mother, and then took him to see the bones, which shocked him, no less. Her mother's photo was next to the skeleton. The author had asked the girl how she spoke English so well (remember this is poor and rural Thailand) and she said had gotten a scholarship to study in the US.

Out of curiousity, I visited the author's website and it turned out there were photos from his time there at the forest monestary. There was a photo of the girl with her mother's skeleton, and she had a sweet smile on her face. For the sake of privacy, I'm not including the photo on my blog, but if you'd like to see the picture, please email me and I will send you the link, you'll see why when you read on.

I had told Golf about bits of the book and included this story. Later on, he had remembered that Dii had said she had gone to this temple frequently and that her mother had committed suicide and her bones were at there on display! I said No way! This is the same girl!!! I had found the part in the book and read it to him, then went to the website to show him the photo. Yes, that was his friend Dii! Can you believe the coincidence!

Now I'm completely fascinated with this woman. How did Dii end up living in the United States? I know she studied here as a girl, but even knowing English, how does a poor village girl get the opporunity to come here? Did she marry an American? What kind of life has she had here in the US? Her story has got to be so interesting and the path that got us together (which is not even complete yet since I won't have met her til this Wednesday) is quite unique.

I will let you know!

2nd quick book story: OPRAH announced on Friday that she's having Elizabeth Gilbert as a guest on October 5th to discuss her book Eat Pray Love. WOW! I'm in the vibe and the groove of Oprah lately. Don't know why, but I do love that woman and I'm NOT a celebrity worshipper (far from it). So mark your calendars ladies, I'm very excited! :)

In preparation for my first sale

It's been busy for me around here the last week. Next week will be busy too. The middle school I substitute teach at practically has teachers lined up wanting me to sub for them. I will teach every day next week except for Wednesday, which is going to be for my first sales practice with a friend of ours (gotta start with who you know!) but the two of the days I have to go in are only mornings.

In the meantime, I've been studying my training videos diligently and taking copious notes! I'm so determined to do well in this endeavour! My opportunity to help others save money at the same time as make some lucrative income for my family has shown itsself and now its up to me to take action and follow through. Of course I'm very nervous about it, but like starting any new job, there's a learning curve in the beginning as you test the waters. And most the time, speaking from experience, you get used to it within the first week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Just finished a really good book

I love travel memoirs, and this book, Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, was that and more. It's also about her spiritual and emotional journey following a difficult divorce and finding herself again. It's an interesting perspective coming from a person who is only five months older than me. I like reading about people who are my age; to find where their lives have taken them and what sort of experiences they have had.

Elizabeth Gilbert is one of those people I instantly like and her book reads nearly like a blog, but more poetic and descriptive, which I LOVE since I'm such a visual person.

Upon visiting her website (linked above), I learned that she follows the yogic path that my best friend has followed for over a decade. I've never heard anyone's diffiuculties or breakthroughs when following this spiritual path, so when I personally had some doubts with some of the aspects of this yoga, I had no perspective or anyone to talk to about them and thus lost interest.

Somehow, by reading Gilbert's stories of her experiences, my interest in this yoga has been renewed. I need to hear others' perspectives and experiences with this practice and share what we go through - that's how I feel more connected. I cannot go through such a journey alone.

So last Saturday, my friend and I attended the local Oakland Ashram for the weekly satsang. This was my first visit in over five years! It felt different this time because before I had felt a disconnect that I did not understand. Somehow, by simply having another person share her experience with me the way a good friend would over a cup of coffee, I was connected at last and felt more ready to pursue this practice in my own way.

It was a lovely visit with my best friend and I hope to make it a monthly event with her. I'd go more often on my own but I don't want to burden Golf with baby duties too much. It's simply a lot of work to handle when babies are so little - till they are like 3 1/2 or so. It is getting easier to leave Golf with Aidan guilt-free, to take more personal time for myself but I'm not quite there yet.

I want to add that Elizabeth Gilbert's account of her travels in Italy and Indonesia were also quite good. I especially liked Indonesia. She's such a good and kind person. Anyway, I highly recommend this beautiful book!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My New Vision Board

Since my first vision board was done on New Year's Day, some circumstances have changed and I felt a need to reasses my goals and put together a new vision board. It's not much different from the last one, but I've taken some things out and added a few others.

I've added pictures of good, wholesome fruits and vegetables and serene, beautiful spirituality. I put in a pic of Oprah because of all the good she has accomplished and has become quite successful in the meantime. I've even donated to her Girls' Academy in South Africa as I feel it is an extremely worthy and just cause.

Speaking of charity, I added a photo from an ad on microloans (top left) and I plan to give more to various charities as our income permits.

Golf has had such good luck with his selling on eBay and I hope for further success. Our experience has been quite different than some sellers, but from our own perspective, we cannot complain. Oh and the car - I hope to have our own within the next year. Needn't be new, but quality made.

The picture of the house is representative of our first investment property that I hope to acquire within the next year. This method of investing is what I'm counting on to fund our retirement as we both have a late start in retirement planning and it's looming ahead of us. I don't want to be destitute upon our later years or forced to work til we drop dead. And I certainly don't want to rely upon the government!

Anyway... I'm pleased with it and I have also rewritten my long term and short term goals within the realms of:

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Financial
  • Family
  • Career
  • Spiritual
  • Social

It's a great way to take stock of my life in a well rounded way and keep myself going in a particular direction, rather than meandering around aimlessly. I recommend writing your goals and expectations of your life at least twice a year.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Trying to keep my patience

I'm so anxious to get started on my new job. I signed the contract on August 16th and I've read the supporting documents to become fluent in the service I will be offering and brainstormed potential clients. I've got my mobile phone and new number exclusively for my new business.

What I'm waiting for: The company I work for has had email service provider problems and my contact at the HQ (which is out of state) said it wouldn't be resolved until today. Well, no word from him today and now I have to wait until Tuesday before I attempt to call him about it due to the long holiday weekend. He told me that the marketing folders have been shipped, I can only hope he actually did ship them.

Once I get my email address then I can order my business cards. Once my business cards arrive, I will finally have proper sales and marketing materials sufficient to make a sales presentation. I just had no idea it would take so long to get the ball rolling. I am so eager to make a good income for our family and it's incredibly frustrating to be able to do nothing but wait. But I try and make good on my free time by reading such books as Missed Fortune, learning more about the type of business I'm getting into and enjoying my naptime every afternoon! :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Toddler classes are EXPENSIVE!

Just talked to a new friend of mine who has a two year old girl. She's going to take her daughter to this tumbling class (toddler gymnastics). The drop in price for a 45 minute class is $15!!!!! If you buy a monthly pass, the cost works out to $11.25. Holy Moley, that's as much as full-priced yoga and you get at least an hour or hour and a half for the yoga. When my new friend asked if I wanted to join her, I said that Aidan already gets plenty of gymnastics experience at the park's playground (in a joking and nice way, so as not to offend).

We never had all these specialty classes for toddlers when I was little. Of course my family lived out in the country and I had plenty to occupy myself. I can't help but think that with every day so new and exciting for a toddler, they will learn and grow just fine without expensive classes. I don't believe they're necessary and while I certainly don't think the classes harm the child, I simply think that it's a sign of hyper-parenting.

Yay, Oprah!

Today will be the first new Oprah episode in months and I'm looking forward to it because I miss her shows. I rarely watch TV anymore besides a few PBS and Travel Channel shows - it's ALL crap otherwise and thank god for Netflix! Oprah's the one indulgence I have, and because she's a good person as well as a good entertainer, I feel good about watching. I sounds like SUCH a stay-at-home mom with my anticipation over OPRAH. LOL!

Speaking of Netflix, if any of you subscribe, send me your username so we can be friends and check out each others' queues! We watched a documentary I had heard about called Maxed Out. It's about the debt problems consumers face and predatory lending practices of banks and credit card companies. It also touches on the national debt and out of control government spending.

In the end, it's about personal responsibility and educating youself. Most of the people profiled were ignorant about money and finances. Those two words, to most people, make one's face pucker in distaste - they don't want to think about it or deal with it. Well sticking your head in the sand while your world comes tumbling down around you certainly does not help either! It's terribly unfortunate that personal finance is not taught in schools. But this documentary did not touch on personal responsibility as much as I thought it should.

Money is central our lives whether we like it or not and we must educate ourselves in its workings so as not to be vulnerable to these huge corporations who reap windfall profits from those who don't know better.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Making More of a Difference - Microloans

I just logged out of my Yahoo Mail account and got directed to the main page where an article caught my eye and I clicked on it. Check out the Yahoo article here - and see the corresponding video as well.

It's about a San Francisco-based company called Kiva who gives us the opportunity to make micro loans to entrepreneurs in impoverished countries via the Internet. It reminds me of, but Kiva is focused on giving opportunity to those in poor countries to have a chance of business success. For as little as $25 you can make a loan with a 99% chance of being repaid. Please see the videos on the website, they're wonderful!

I'm ready to make my first loan (albeit small) and make a difference to a business man or woman who otherwise wouldn't have a chance! What a wonderful way to help eradicate poverty!!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm Employed!

Over the weekend I signed a contract for a sales position. I've got a job that gives me the best of both worlds: Freedom and real estate.

Freedom because I'm employed as an independent contractor and that means I work when, where and how much I want, which is essential when having such a small child still at home. It also means my earning power is limitless and the possibility of a six figure income is very real (and will be real as far as I'm concerned!) And best of all, we don't have to move!!! The reason we were going to move to Sacramento was because I thought the housing market was more robust for first time buyers, but now that's not an issue.

Real Estate is an aspect of the job. It doesn't require a license, but my knowledge of what I learned is certainly helpful. I'll be working more in the realm of taxation. I have a small learning curve, but I'm reading about it as I wait for my new (refurbished) mobile phone I got on eBay to arrive. I was, and still am, too skittish to enter into the residential mortgage market after all the recent news, massive layoffs and company dissolutions. What I'm doing is selling a service that sells itself, really, and is outside the realm of real estate cycles.

In my beginning phase I plan to continue substitute teaching to supplement our income until I get more clients and referrals. This works out brilliantly.

At the end of the day I couldn't be happier! The next few weeks means getting geared up and ready to go. I have to print my own marketing materials and order business cards. It feels great to be able to contribute financially and on my own terms.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mother's Day Photos

Wat Buddhasorn in Fremont. Display for the Queen is set up in the courtyard where performances are also held (we got there too late for that).

Aidan and his Daddy. He was one of several boys sporting an Ultraman shirt.

Aidan with his Mama!

Waiing to the Queen's portrait.

After making merit in the temple.

Happy Thai Mother's Day

Today is the Queen's birthday in Thailand, and the people also make it their Mother's Day. It's a national holiday and I remember the schools would have an assembly or performance for their mothers and then have a ceremony with children showing respect, love and humility to their moms. Every year it would make me cry! So this morning we're going to the regional Thai temple to enjoy some Thai culture and food.

The last week I've been job hunting online. I finally have my real estate license number and have been actively pursuing employment. However, I am feeling doubtful in this dreadful housing market. It doesn't feel like the right time to be entering the RE market, especially the lending industry after so many meltdowns we've heard in recent news. It tests my self confidence - I worked hard for many months to acquire my license and now I don't think this is the right time, so I've been looking into other industries just to see what's available and to find something I could also be passionate about to promote and help people. And make money doing it too. :)

My license is good for 4 years, so I can always come back to it, and who knows what I'll find in my job hunt. The good news is that we may be able to stay here in the Bay Area and still rent (I really love it here) and invest out of state -- we'll enjoy the benefits of ownership, just not here. I'd love to live closer to my parents, but I so enjoy the weather, life and neighborhood here in Alameda. Except for the earthquakes.

Also there was a job opportunity landing in my inbox of a service I never even knew existed! So while I'm seeking guidance, I'm certainly getting ideas too. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

"Who I Am Makes a Difference."

I saw this touching story on Karel's blog and felt very moved by it and wish to share it with you.

"Who I Am Makes a Difference."

A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in High School by telling them the difference each of them had made. She called each student to the front of the class, one at a time.
First, she told each of them how they had made a difference to her, and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon, imprinted with gold letters, which read, "Who I Am Makes a Difference."

Afterwards, the teacher decided to do a class project,to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a Community. She gave each of the students three more blue ribbons, and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony.

Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom, and report to the class in about a week.

One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby Company, and honored him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon, and put it on his shirt.

Then he gave him two extra ribbons and said, "We're doing a class project on recognition, and we'd like for you to go out, find somebody to honor, give them a blue ribbon, then give them the extra blue ribbon so they can acknowledge a third person, to keep this acknowledgment ceremony going. Then please report back to me and tell me what happened."

Later that day, the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted, by the way, as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He sat his boss down, and he told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon, and would he give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said, "Well, sure." The junior executive took the blue ribbon and placed it right on his boss's jacket, above his heart. As he gave him the last extra ribbon, he said, "Would you take this extra ribbon, and pass it on by honoring somebody else. The young boy who first gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school, and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going and find out how it affects people."

That night, the boss came home to his 14-year-old son, and sat him down. He said, "The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office, and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me, and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine! He thinks I am a creative genius. Then he put a blue ribbon that says, "Who I Am Makes a Difference," on my jacket above my heart. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon, and I thought about you. I want to honor you. My days are hectic and when I come home, I do not pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school, and for your bedroom being a mess. Somehow, tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You're a great kid, and I love you!"

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he could not stop crying, His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, " Dad, earlier tonight I sat in my room and wrote a letter to you and Mom, explaining why I had taken my own life, and I asked you to forgive me. I was going to commit suicide tonight after you were asleep.

I just did not think that you cared at all. The letter is upstairs. I don't think I need it after all." His father walked upstairs and found a heart felt letter full of anguish and pain.

The boss went back to work a changed man. He was no longer a grouch, but made sure to let all of his employees know that they made a difference.

The junior executive helped other young people with career planning, and never forgot to let them know that they made a difference in his being the boss' son. In addition, the young boy and his classmates learned a valuable lesson, "Who you are DOES make a difference."

If you want, you can send this to all of the people who mean something to you, or send it to the one, two, or three people who mean the most.

On the other hand, just smile and know that I think that you are important, or you would not have received this in the first place. Who you are does make a difference, and I wanted you to know that.

Isn't this a wonderful story? I'm passing the blue ribbon to you, for who YOU are does make a difference, too.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Trip to the Bay Area Discovery Museum

My friend Tabitha has a little girl Aidan's age named Nadya. She happened to have some extra passes to the Bay Area Discovery Museum and invited Aidan and me to join them last Sunday. We took her up on her offer because it is a place I'd not gone to on my own accord, the admission price and distance away being the two main factors. The museum is beautiful set in the gorgeous town of Sausalito just across the Golden Gate Bridge in some old historic army bunkers. The nationally recognized Bay Area Discovery Museum is a one-of-a-kind indoor/outdoor children's museum that offers a full range of programs for children, parents, school groups and educators. Located on 7 and 1/2 acres in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area at Fort Baker in Sausalito, CA, the Museum's unique programs feature hands-on art, science and environmental exhibitions, performances, special events and ongoing educational curricula... all with a focus on fun! (The photo below shows the museum with its red roofs.)

The Bay Area Discovery Museum uses the concept of "home" for exploring the natural and cultural environments of the Bay Area - from distinctive landscape elements and natural habitats to artistic traditions. The curriculum encourages environmental stewardship, which is threaded throughout the Museum through its interactive exhibitions and programs. (From the website)

Aidan had the best time with Nadya and they played hard for a solid 3 1/2 hours. It was a very long day, but I'm so glad we did it. Their exhibitions are wonderful! Here are some more photos of Aidan enjoying himself. I didn't include any of Nadya since I do not have Tabitha's permission. But trust me, she's a cutie! :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Scared myself til 2 AM

I've got to start off with a back-story before getting into the main topic of my subject line: Golf had recorded a movie called The Zeitgeist - a small production and a very interesting documentary. The only part I watched with more than a grain of skepticism is the part on 9/11. The link takes you straight to the page where you can view the movie if you wish. The rest of the movie is fantastic and a real eye opener.

The Zeitgeist reminded me when I saw a lecture by Jordan Maxwell and consequently bought his video called Basic Slide Presentation. It shows nearly the same material, but it was produced 11 years earlier. I respect Mr. Maxwell's theories and every person should be aware of the topics covered in these two films. So I was exploring Mr. Maxwell's website and it said he would be on Coast to Coast AM on July 25th. I was eager to hear him since he always is so interesting!

I used to listen to this show all the time -- Art Bell talked me to sleep nearly every night and he used to have streaming audio from the previous night for free so I'd listen to the previous night's show in my cubicle at work. Now that Art has retired, George Noorey has taken over and I have to admit I don't listen much any longer. I can't when I get up so early every day and this show goes on from 10PM - 2AM.

I did make an exception last night though. Jordan Maxwell was going to be a guest with a few others when George Noorey was going to conduct a Ouija board experiment on the radio.

The more I listened, the more nervous about the whole thing I became. Two of the other guests were all for going through with it, but Jordan Maxwell was adamently against such an experiment. I do believe Ouija boards open up a portal into the spirit realm and as human beings, we don't know what's out there and what will come through that portal. When you sit in a room with microphones and broadcast your session to millions of people, you don't know what will happen -- you don't know who's listening and what state of mind they're in (there are so many people with varying degrees of mental and emotional stability).

I talked about this with Golf during the commercials. Thai people are superstitious and believe in this sort of thing -- probably even moreso than we westerners. He agreed that it would be a horrible and dangerous idea to broadcast a Ouija session on the radio. Because we were both feeling creepy, he got out a couple of the Buddhist amulets a monk had given us in Bangkok and we put one each on our bedside tables.

In the end, Noorey decided not to go through with the experiment. I'm relieved and I think I would have turned off the radio had he decided to continue. I just don't know what would happen and even if I concentrated and bathed myself in pure light, I'd still be worried if something should happen to those of us listening in and therefore participating in this Ouija board session.

By 1 AM he was taking calls, and many callers were people who had used a Ouija board before and two callers had stories so scary it gave me goosebumps. This stuff is scary and it's real and we don't think of such things much in our modern and materialistic society. There's a lot out there that we don't know about, but we should not dismiss it nor ignore it. We give it respect and focus on that part of it that is good through prayer, meditation, reflection or however you express your spirituality.

The show last night made me more introspective today. And sleepy too, since I had to put on another channel for nearly an hour before I could fall asleep.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

My friend Caroline is such a sweetie. Yesterday she went out and bought not only herself a copy of the new Harry Potter book, but one for me too! I would have gladly waited til she was done reading hers, or til my mother was done reading her copy, but nope, I get to start reading now! Lucky me! Here's a picture of what the UK book cover looks like. I'd rather read the UK version, since that's the original language of the author... Fortunately when I lived in Thailand, they have the British versions there, so I got to read the Order of the Phoenix, the British version.

I haven't gotten to enjoy a nice work of fiction for a long time and this is going to be a good one. This last installment of the Harry Potter series is nearly 800 pages long! Right now I'm on page 51. I'm so glad I don't have to study any more -- now I get up at 5:45 AM, put the coffee on and doze for 15 minutes while it brews. At 6 I pour myself a cup and sit down for an hour of ME time and enjoy my new book before I have to wake that boy up and start being a mommy for the day.

Don't worry, I won't write any spoilers to this book. And thanks again, Caroline!!! :)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Awoke with a jolt

This morning at 4:42 AM the earth rumbled from a 4.2 magnitude earthquake. I bolted upright in bed, heart hammering in my chest, Golf sleeping soundly next to me. He didn't know a thing. Apparently Aidan didn't know a thing either since there was no sound coming from his room. Surprisingly I was able to fall back asleep about 10 minutes later despite worries of aftershocks. Golf asked me when he woke up why one of the toys we're selling on eBay was on the floor. He was dumbfounded when I told him that an earthquake knocked it off the shelf! Well, once we move to Sacramento, we won't have to worry about earthquakes any more.

Today we went to Chinatown in Oakland so Golf could get a haircut and do some grocery shopping. One fruit that is in season right now is the lychee fruit. When I lived in Thailand, I would eat lychee, rambutan and longan fruits. I really miss those fruits, all of which are similar in that they are peeled and have a sweet, juicy white flesh with a seed in the middle. I ate a lot them, especially rambutans, when I was pregnant. So when I see lychee fruits for sale I buy them up, even if they are a little expensive. Golf and I have been in heaven! Even Aidan likes them, though he's not as crazy about them as we are.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The new Harry Potter Movie

Is really, really good! I thoroughly enjoyed it and marveled at how fast these actors are growing up. I'm looking forward to reading the last book and wonder, as many people do, how it will wrap up.

A lovely visit with family and friends

Last Thursday we drove to Oroville to have a visit with my parents and make sure we get to see my sister Alise, who is in Sacramento for training with her school down in Orange County, where she lives. Ali's in training until August and she goes up to my parents' place in Oroville on the weekends. Since she lives so far away, we all decided to meet at Mom and Dad's last weekend so we could see her, esp. for Aidan's sake since he hadn't seen her since Christmas last year.
Little did I know that Alise had a surprise up her sleeve: with the help of my husband, she pulled together a surprise party for me by inviting some of my friends and Mel and Daryll showed up in their brand spankin' new VW Eos convertible! The fact that they had to drive over a mile and a half down a windy dirt road in their brand new car was testament to their dedication!

We all had a blast - Alise, Anna and her husband Jim, Daryll and Mellie. We sat around all afternoon and evening and drank bottles and bottles of wine and later watched the sun set and all the stars come out. Boy when there is very little moon and no city lights there are BILLIONS and BILLIONS! Unfortunately since I'm not much of a drinker, I began feeling blah by 10:30 PM and I had to go to bed. The good news is that Mel and Daryll decided to stay the night and Alise, Anna and Jim didn't leave til later that afternoon. I haven't had that much fun in a long time.

I miss Alise since she lives so far away and I feel lucky if I can see her twice a year. Once a year either at Christmas or Thanksgiving is more usual. Hopefully by summer next year we'll be able to fly down there to see her and her husband Bill and their new home. Those feelings started a flood of nostalgic sentiments from childhood, missing my sisters, Mom and Dad, living together as a family. I was fortunate and had a very good childhood and sometimes I miss it. Golf and Mom tell me it's normal, and if anything, it's made me more happy to ensure that Aidan has the same sorts of wonderful memories for when he's grown up. In that regard, I played with him even more today and I think he could tell I was feeling a little bit sad and he gave me so many hugs and sqeezes. I love that boy so much!

The people I have in my life - devoted husband, cherished son, wonderful sisters, fantastic friends and loving parents - I'm blessed and grateful every day. Thank you. :)


We got back from a visit with Mom and Dad and a large piece of mail was waiting for me from the Department of Real Estate. I was notified of PASSING MY EXAM! YESSSS!!! I am now in the process of applying for my license. I have to make an appointment to get my fingerprints and fill out all sorts of other forms. My serious job search will begin after I get all this stuff submitted.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My first Swarovski jewelry

Alright, it's not that big a deal, but it's fun. For months now I've wanted a nice piece of jewellry, something that looked high quality and beautiful. I never pursued it though, since my first priority is to get work and bring in more money!

Well, last night I went to my bi-monthly meeting in real estate investing and wealth building club from The Real Wealth Network and I was especially excited because the guest speaker that night specialized in Feng Shui. Her name is Alexis Summerfield and she explained basic Feng Shui techniques and how it works with The Law of Attraction.

Each segment of your home is aligned with color and element which represents different aspects of your life to be in harmony with the Universe, or Chi. The chart on the right shows these aspects and what you should have in your home and where starting with water, the color black and representing career and advancement - this should be at your front door or entrance area of your home.

We then went over how the Law of Attraction works and set an intention for ourselves. I decided to focus on my career - now that I've taken my state exam, my intention is to find a job as an origination officer with a GOOD broker by the end of August. We finalized our intention with a symbolic act (wishing with a joss paper).

In the end, Ms. Summerfield offered these beautiful crystal bracelets in the different, sparkly colors corresponding with the Baugua above. You could choose one that you wanted to focus on, so of course I chose black. She then gave the bracelet a blessing and now it's mine! (after giving her my credit card info, of course LOL!)

I plan to wear it during my upcoming job interviews and whenever I want to channel some good energy into bringing in more referrals and network with the right people. I felt wonderful when I left last night!

API Auction

My online buddy, also named Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess, is helping out with Attachment Parenting International (API). They are holding it’s biggest fundraiser of the year with a great online auction. All kinds of items have been donated from autographed books & posters to concert tickets to time shares. And of course there are tons of slings, cloth diapers, and other baby gear available. API is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization and could really use your help. Besides, bidding in online auctions is fun!
Take a look and place your bid:

All my best to you, AMY!

Monday, July 09, 2007

I'm sitting here in a bit of a spaced-out state of mind because I finished my real estate exam a few hours ago. It took me nearly three hours to complete 150 questions. Months of studying and the last few weeks have been intense. It's actually going to feel strange not cracking the books or study guide every early morning, afternoon and night.

And I believe that all that hard work and diligent studying paid off. I was stressed a little bit yesterday: I woke up before 4AM worried about my test. I thought to myself that I may as well wake up and, well, STUDY! So yesterday from 4:30-6:30 AM I did the practice exams in the study guide. From 6:30-7 AM I laid my fried brain down on the sofa until it was time to get Aidan up.

Then Aidan and I had a big day ahead of us - we had a birthday party to go to at a swimming center in Oakland. You'd think that with 5 or 6 hours of sleep I'd be still be functioning fine but I was in a bit of a cloud all day long. I was so exhausted. Golf said it was because of stress, too, and I also think the stress may have been making me feel slightly sick.

So Golf suggested a strategy he used for taking his TOEFL exams (to qualify as a fluent English speaker) that he learned from a friend who constently did well on tests: Relax the day before and get plenty of rest and sleep. So I didn't study any more yesterday. I went to bed before 10 PM and for the first time in weeks I slept this morning past 5:45 AM and woke up by 6:45 - woo hoo, a real sleep-in!

I did a little more studying this morning before my 1 PM exam. Just overall review. I also made it a point to do some Law of Attraction exercises: Feel good, give gratitude, have belief and know that I can pass. I told myself that even though my scores on the practice exams were too low, they were very difficult questions. I told myself that with all my efforts and hours of preparation were not going to result in failure. Sure enough, I felt great when I walked into that room.

I'll tell you the results, good or bad either way. But I feel confident that I have passed.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day 2007

What a lovely day it's been today! Clear skies and only in the upper 70s here in the Bay Area while the rest of the state swelters over the century mark.

Aidan and I went to the local 4th of July parade which is held a mere 1/4 mile away or so. We got our spot in the shade and had to wait over an hour before the parade started, but boy was it worth it! It was so much fun seeing my son enjoy himself. We sat next to a very nice couple who played with Aidan and another family on the other side had an 8 year old looking boy who also played with him.

Then the parade started and what a great time this boy had! He was far more thrilled with the firetrucks, bands, bicycles and even a low flying Coast Guard helicopter! Lots of people going by tried getting his attention to wave at him because he's so cute, but he waved to everybody most of the time.

At 12:30 the parade was nearly finished and we'd had enough. I was getting sunburned and Aidan was very stimulated, hot, hungry and tired.

However, not tired enough to sleep! As of 5:20 PM, this boy has still not slept and he's extremely grumpy. I had planned to study during his nap and I'm not happy I didn't get to study. I'll have to just do it tonight...

Well, an overall good day, though and I hope to post a few pictures.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sorry for not blogging as much

Wow, I realized I haven't posted for an entire week, so I thought I'd better write a little something to stay updated - I certainly don't want my blog to die!

On the 24th (last Sunday) I had a free workshop by the educational company I used to purchase my course material for the Real Estate licensing requirements. They put on a free workshop to help you pass the state exam in the hopes of using them again in the future for the further education requirements needed in the years to come to keep your license current. A good move, IMO, and good business practice.

The workshop was almost all day long at a hotel near the Oakland airport and I WALKED home because the time it ended was during Aidan's naptime and Golf had dropped me off in the morning. It was more than 5 miles to get home! I still like challenging myself like that and I should walk a long distance like that at least once a week, but I just don't get that chance - or I should say I don't make the opportunity to do it. I felt good when I got home, but a little bit stiff. My usual walks with Aidan are between 2.5 and 3 miles.

So the way I've been spending my days since summer vacation started is waking up by 5:45, studying between 6-7 AM, then studying during Aidan's 2 1/2 hour naps during the afternoon. I should be good to go by the 9th. This is why I haven't been blogging much - I've been studying!

I'm not putting much effort in finding work until after my exam. I've got one company with potential that I was wary of earlier, but with further investigating I learned that they are OK, so I will attempt a 2nd interview with them after the 9th. If I can get on with this company, then I'll go forward with finding a duplex. Golf just got another big job in too, so it's a relief to get extra funds in the bank because we all know how expensive moving is with the deposit required on the new place, current rent on our apartment, and rent for the new place. We also need to pay for some helpers to move our larger furniture into the moving truck and pay for the truck too. So many expenses! I'll be glad to get it all done and overwith.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Exam date is set!

Not a lot has been going on since I last posted. School is now out for the summer. I had one final big week of substitute teaching the week before final exams and last week were finals, so I never needed to go in to sub.

I've been actively looking for work in Sacramento, but have not gotten any bites yet. In the meantime, I've got a few more chapters left in my book, and then I have a workshop in Oakland to ensure a pass on the state real estate salesperson license exam. I signed up online today for my state exam and it's set for July 9 at 1 PM. Shortly after that, I hope we can start looking for a place to live in Sac.

Transition is not easy, but it is necessary for growth.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Job plans and a long term goal

I got my resume all spiffied up and looking great. My plan is to start sending it to companies by this Wednesday. I went to a presentation for one company referred to me last Friday but it ended up sounding more like a MLM company, although the premise of it is something I am quite enthusiastic about: Building your wealth so that you're financially free and stable by retirement age and NOT dependent upon the government. Social Security is simply going to bankrupt long before Generation Xers and later retire, so plan on having nothing from the government and do what you will today to prepare.

Anyway, I was disappointed that this company seemed more like Amway in the end, but the good news is that jobs in the real estate industry are in high demand, probably because of high competition. So I'm looking right now and the plan is to find a job, THEN a place to live so I don't have to commute. Since living in Bangkok where my school was always a short walk away, I got spoiled with having no commute. Even where I live now the school where I substitute teach most often is a short 10 minute drive away on surface streets. Never again -- esp. with the price of gas. I want to find a place to live that is close by my office and I also plan to sign up with that school disctrict to be a PT sub teacher until my earnings as a loan officer pick up.
Short term goal: to be moved back to Sacramento by July and start working at my new job.

Long term goal discussed with Golf: I hope to be able to visit Thailand within a year and a half. Aidan will be about 3 1/2 and hopefully more manageable. He's sure got the TERRIBLE two's and I can't imagine having to deal with him on a 19 hour flight to BKK. Ugh.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ninja Warrior - Real Estate Agent

While at Mom and Dad's they introduced us to this Japanese game show called Ninja Warrior where contestants come from all walks of life. Obstacle courses challenge Olympic gold metalists! Stage one is where most of the weeding out of contestents is done and where it's funniest. They all dress up in their work uniforms, this guy being a real estate agent...

Ninja Warrior: Makoto Nagano

This is the only person to have made Total Victory through all the obstacle courses, out of 2,400 people over the years! At the time of this video, Makoto was 34 years old and a fisherman. He practiced all his moves on his boat.

This video doesn't have the subtitles, it's straight from Japan, but you don't need them.

Nagano should be a movie star, he's really handsome on top of being very ninja-like! Be amazed at his physical prowess...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Aidan's Birthday Pictures

May 22, 2007 Aidan's 2nd birthday!

It was so difficult to choose just a few photos because they're all so cute! That's a mother's dilemma always... I had to weed out the best out of hundreds and hundreds that are on our digital camera because it's time to send them out to print.

I made him a yellow cake with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. I used a 60% cocoa Ghirardelli chocolate bar in this frosting. It turned out really good!

Aidan even knows how to blow out his own candle!

Of course his birthday cake tastes really good.

Then he got his favorite gift from Daddy - a noisy helicopter! At first he was leery of it, as you can see from the picture, but after a few minutes he LOVED it. Anything mechanical, this boy loves.

He also got a Thomas the Tank Engine blanket, Elmo sandals, 2 tank tops and a pair of shorts. His Aunt got him a Target gift card and I plan to get him some new shoes (already grown out of his old ones within a few months!) a booster chair since he now hates his high chair, and a training potty. If there is any money left, I will get him some more learning toys.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Baby!

My little baby turned 2 years old yesterday! How time has flown by.
We were at my parents' house and they have such a slow connection, I thought I'd wait to blog about it today instead. Aidan has entered his terrible twos, though. I mean in the last week and a half or so, his attitude has gotten explosive and he gets very upset fairly often.

Here we go -- the full ride into toddler tantrums and Class-A fits. When we went on a nice day outing the day before his birthday, he squalled for nearly a solid hour. Looking back in retrospect, it was more because he was so tired from the day before due to no nap. How were we to know, though?

He's so smart and very interested in any type of mechanical device, engine, vehicle, boat or aircraft. If it has an engine he's into it. Show him a horse or a cow or a bird and he'll make the animal noise for it and then that's it. His daddy got him a battery-operated helicopter and he can't put it down!

Language-wise, Aidan isn't speaking a whole lot of real words yet, but he's trying to repeat words when you ask him to, whether it's in Thai or English. He understands both languages well and my goal is to enroll him in an elementary school that offers Chinese language classes too. There's no reason this boy can't be tri-lingual. He can repeat the (English) alphabet when I go through the letters one by one, but still has trouble with C, K, F, H, J, S, W, X and Z. One cute thing: when he repeats the letter Q, he touches his eyebrow, and eyebrow in Thai sounds like the letter Q. So cute!

I plan to get him some ABC books and maybe some shapes books and some GOOD crayons with a gift card my Aunt sent to him for his birthday. My goal is to teach him his alphabet, colors, shapes and numbers by this time next year. Let's see what I can do with him! I just finished a book called Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers--and How You Can Too and found it to be very interesting, despite a few negative reviews. For me and our family, a slightly watered down version of the concepts outlined in this book should be healthy for Aidan as he learns. I'm not going to be some academic dictator or a "helicopter parent" as it goes completely different than my and Golf's easy going personalities.

Anyway, Aidan's birthday photos are coming either tonight or tomorrow - or by the end of the week if I'm swamped since I have to substitute teach tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Daddy's little boy

Aidan has really taken to his daddy the last week and a half or so. A big part of that is because Golf is a bit of a kid himself, so he LOOOVES to play with Aidan. They play all sorts of physical games together and Golf is much more animated than I am in his facial expressions, words and actions. I'm a lot more mellow - and Golf is opposite - he's very high energy.

Golf's also recruited his son in his love for Ultraman, especially the new Mobius. If you're unfamiliar with Ultraman (and my readers in Thailand certainly ARE familiar) Ultraman is a Japanese superhero. Golf grew up with the show and LOVES, to this day, Ultraman. He brought over many Thai dubbed older versions of the show and watches them with Aidan and Aidan loves it. Aidan has a couple of Japanese super hero tee-shirts from Ultraman, Masked Rider and Gundam. He got them before Aidan was born and that baby's just now beginning to fit them - talk about planning ahead! It's kind of cool that Aidan's the only kid on the playground with a cool Japanese superhero tee shirt on - I've always loved things that are not mass market normal, and it the USA, Ultraman is unique. Go to Thailand, he's everywhere!

So what I'm good at is reading books to Aidan and going on walks and taking him to the park, but it still doesn't feel very good when Aidan throws a tantrum when Daddy leaves the room and he's left with Mommy to entertain him. I know it's a phase and if anything Golf's getting back some good feelings he lost when Aidan was very small and ONLY wanted me and screamed and cried when Golf went anywhere near him. That was tough for Golf, so now I'm glad that this bond is growing very strong. I do love my guys.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Subbed for a class of beginning English learners

I substitute taught at the local high school for the first time last Thursday, Friday and today. I used to think that high school wouldn't be my thing, since I've only taught younger kids, but these last three days were fun!

It was a class of beginning English learners, most of them Chinese students. There was one Mongolian girl, two Korean, two or three (I can't remember) Japanese, three from Honduras and one Thai girl. I got to speak with the Thai student quite a bit (in Thai) and it also made some of the other students curious about learning some simple Thai phrases. I learned a little about her life: that she'd been in the US for about a year and she was living with her mom, Auntie and step-dad. I asked if her step-father was a farang and she said yes (fortunately most Thais don't mind nosy questions, so I asked away!) She had also said she was from the Issan area, and that tipped me off to ask if her step dad was farang, too. Her English was pretty good.

Actually, for beginners, these kids did pretty darn good. They'd easily be intermediate level in Thailand, but here they must speak English a lot more. Like my Thai student, since she was the only Thai she had to speak English with her Korean and Chinese friends - and likewise with them.

It was a pleasureable way to spend three days (and get paid too!)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Golf and I had a meeting with a mortgage broker today, to talk about investing in real estate and planning for our future. I told her I was also studying to get my real estate broker's license and she said that I don't need my broker's license, just my salesperson's license! Oh my god, and here I've been studing EVERY DAY for the last 3 1/2 months!!! Luckily I chose the cheapest course material, which set me back just over $300 instead of the $400+ price tags I'd seen for the same course.

The salesperson's license is only one course and under $12o. I can take and pass the exam relatively easily, and heck, I can even apply for a brokering position as I'm getting my license. I may start job hunting the last week of May.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I officially know Thai better than French

At the park today I met a grandmother with her grandson and when I started chatting with her, she said she only spoke French (en franciais, bien sur!). I studied French for about 4 years in community college back in the late 80s and early 90s in addition to the two years required in high school. It was my dream to become fluent in another language, because in my opinion, that was the mark of a truly educated person. Trouble was, I never created an opportunity for myself to study abroad in an immersion program, and once my studies finished, I no longer practiced French.

Then I spend nearly 4 years in Thailand, and marry a Thai man and hear spoken Thai every day. Although Thai, in my opinion, is infinately more difficult to learn than one of the romance languages, I've been around it more intensely in recent years.

So I chatted with this grandmere francaise, and my brain kept getting French and Thai words mixed up, making it difficult to speak to her. It was amusing but frustrating and I tried to tell her what was going on. I'm glad I had an opportunity to speak French today, and even though I could not speak it very well, when she spoke to me, I understood 90% of what she said.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Another exam finished!

I completed my Real Estate Economics final exam yesterday and passed it! When I started that text, I was dreading it, thinking it was going to be excruciatingly boring, but in fact it was quite the opposite! Sometimes I couldn't wait to pick it up to continue my reading. I'm very pleased to know that a profession I've chosen to pursue is interesting to me, for it's a sign that I'm sure to do well. How I wish I was interested in business and economics 10 years ago, my career choices would be very different and if you had told me even 5 years ago that I'd find economics interesting, I'd have laughed! Funny how people change...

Now I've begun the law course and I've approached it with even more dread, but I want to get it done and who knows, I hope to be surprised with this text as well. I've scheduled myself to finish the day before Aidan's birthday on the 22nd.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Our Third Year & Sushi

On this date in 2004, Golf and I were married in Bangkok and then had our wedding reception at Reflections Restarurant near the Ari Skytrain Station. Below are some pictures from our wedding day! We loved the look of the restaurant, which is now more famous for its themed hotel rooms, which were under construction when we went there.

But today we celebrated with sushi from Safeway and a nice bottle of Robert Mondavi white wine. We don't have anybody to watch Aidan for the evening, so we stayed home, which is fine. We'll get to go out when he's older... Golf also bought me a lovely bouquet of flowers! I have the bestest husband and I'm such a lucky gal!

Some of the sushi we got was of the cooked variety so Aidan could try some. We got him some of the eel kind and some of the crab kind and HE LIKED IT! I'm so proud of my baby, eating sushi before he's even two. What a cosmopolitan kiddo! :)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Not much to blog about lately

Not much going on, yet the days are always so packed that the weeks just fly by. Aidan and I have our routine on the days I don't substitute teach (which I have the last few days).

Mornings after breakfast is the powerwalk and playtime at the park. We get back by noon.
Lunchtime at noon.
Playtime after that.
Between 2 and 2:30 he goes down for his nap.
Time for me to study my real estate texts!
I do indulge in Oprah at 4 PM while also making a wake up snack for Aidan - I know once I start working I won't get to watch anymore.
5 PM make dinner
Play and watch the news til 7:30
7:30 naked baby time and/or bath time
7:45 jammie time
8 milk time
8:30 bed time
after 8:30 I study more or if a special show is on I'll watch it. I don't watch much TV at night cause nothing's on
This schedule does not take into account the various chores I need to do such as folding laundry, grocery shopping, washing dishes or cleaning the apartment. I ususally do cleaning and laundry when Aidan's napping and catch up on my studies at night. Grocery shopping I do with him in the morning instead of going to the park. On weekends we like to go with Golf to the flea market in the morning! We're going to go tomorrow.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cultural Similarities

We just got back from spending the weekend in Sacramento visiting my sister and bro-in-law. Golf mainly wanted to check out the flea markets there to put his mind to rest when we move that he'll have some good sources for eBay sales.

The main place we went to was Denio's market. If you look at the first photo on the far right when the page loads, you'll see what looks like a smaller American version of Chatuchak market in Bangkok. The permanent flea markets we've been to, such as Denio's and one at the Coliseum in Oakland remind Golf and me of the markets in Thailand. The stuff they sell, like cheap clothing - tables of socks, bras, jeans, shirts - toiletries, bedding is the same. The mannequins here though have bigger booties for the Hispanic population. :) Here there are many used tools and car stereo accessories. Popular Hispanic snacks are sold and there are also food vendors selling tacos and tamales. We like getting this sweet bread when we go to share with Aidan. At Denios, there's even a big pet section, just like at Chatuchak too! The flea markets draw in many Asian and Hispanic vendors and buyers, and I think that has a big influence on what is sold and the whole vibe of the place.

In the permanent flea market set ups, there is a big section for fresh produce and when you walk inside and it's just like walking into a Thai market. Only difference is that fresh meat is not sold because of health regulations. I love, love, love shopping at these flea markets for so many of my needs including food. It's such a good deal and I love being amongst a mix of different cultures and the vendor personalities that Golf runs across is amusing: They are their own bosses, so they can be as rude or as nice as they want to be and you get a wide range of personalities to deal with. Most are rather eccentric too. I guess you would be by nature if you make a living at the flea market.

So in our observances, we've noticed how similar Hispanic culture is to Thai in how we've seen the kinds of things offered for sale. Tables full of music CDs, cell phones and accessories, DVDs, used books, cheap clothing, shoes. The bedding looks almost the same and Hispanics seem to also like the big overstuffed furniture, the same sorts of home decor from clocks to rugs. I'm telling ya, you walk through any of these markets here and it's the same stuff in Thailand, only a different language. Same Same but Different as they say in Thailand. And sometimes I'll see a Mexican teenager standing on a street corner with a bucket of flowers to sell to motorists. In Thailand you'll see them selling newspapers or jasmine garlands for the rearview mirror. It's uncanny how similar it all is and here they are half a world away. Makes me feel wonderful about how similar we human beings are.

Monday, April 16, 2007

We DID get to go!!!

My wish came true and our family did get to go to the Thai temple yesterday for the Songkran festival. As I mentioned before, we had planned to go on Saturday but got rained out and Golf wanted to go the flea market on Sunday morning.

Well, we got an early start yesterday and we finished at the market just before 11 AM and decided to go for it and made the 1/2 hour drive to the temple. As predicted, it was packed with people who also didn't come on Saturday.

As Golf parked the car a mile away and take the shuttle, Aidan and I went onto the grounds and watched traditional Thai dancing. Unfortunately by the time Golf arrived, they had finished. That was at noon and since there was no more dancing, the only thing left to do for most people was line up for the food and the queue was SOOOO long. We decided to make merit in the temple instead, so we went inside and Aidan was such a good boy as we lit incense and made our wishes. The monks were chanting blessings and flicking the holy water with the grass brushes over the packed hall of laypeople who were also there giving prayers and offerings. I felt so good involving Aidan in these rituals. We're establishing these traditions within him right now.

We decided to line up for food, it went quickly and they do it just like in Thailand: You buy tokens - one token per dollar (in Thailand you actually get tickets of different denominations, one, five or ten baht). You then exchange the token for the food for whatever it costs. At the end of your meal, you exchange the remainder of your tokens for your money back.

An old acquaintance of ours was there as we were waiting and we went to their table. The couple was a Thai lady named Bok and her American husband. We met them in Bangkok when Bok was 5 months pregnant with her first baby and Golf and I had been newly married for about a month. Bok now had 2 children, and it was neat seeing her first born daughter who was going on 2 1/2. Her little one was a cutie pie too, a year younger than Aidan.

It was nice catching up with them and meeting their friends, who are also very casual acquaintances of Golf's - his former boss, Benjawan, who authored the Thai language learning books, knows all these folks. The exposure to the Thai language was very good for Aidan and he made hearts melt as he waied "Sawatdee" to everyone. What a great day!

Once we got home, I took my final exam for real estate appraisal and passed that too. Two books down, six more to go. I'm beginning the real estate economics book today, and believe it or not, it looks quite interesting.