Not an easy week

It’s Friday again. I had to admit this is not an easy week for me. After a lot of back and forth, I finally decided to withdraw my elder daughter from Montessori school, mostly due to financial reasons. As a father, I felt I am giving up something for my daughter due to my limited earning power. Both of us liked the school, and we have been there for a little over 3 years since she was 1.5 years old. From toddler house to pre-school. She had some good friends there. My original plan was to bite the bullet and stay there until next May, but due to some costs associated with new baby, I decided to look elsewhere. I don’t feel comfortable to put all this in a credit card, and begin to pay back until next summer. This also bring up another point, about emergency savings, and life style choice. I felt I did not do my best job in this aspect during last 3 to 4 years. Now I learned the lesson the hard way. I guess there are two sides of an equation, save more (which is usually more meaningful), and increase earning power (not as efficient as government took a cut from any increase in paycheck).

I will share more when I give it more thought on this topic.

(11-5-14) Yesterday was serenity’s day 2 at new school. My wife already had second thoughts on this :-( But we think at this moment let’s stay put, rather than rush to conclusion. There is an old Chinese saying that is applicable here: it’s easier to get from poor to luxury, rather than the other way around. (need better translation here :-)

Big baby, little baby

My elder daughter Serenity finally used to sleep in her room recently. The trick is I decided not to co-sleep with her. Also, she still needs her mommy watch her falling asleep, which usually takes an hour or so, since she gets up sometimes: ask me questions, etc. (delay tactic).

Little baby Sophia is getting big, she weighs about 14 lbs in 2 month check up, which doubled from her birth weight. She likes to sleep on my shoulder. Today my coworker told me one reason is she like to feel heart beat. Also sometimes she sucks my neck or upper arm. It’s normal in baby growth, I just found out from web, although I am second time dad. Never stop learning.

Found out why I missed 25000 miles Alaska Airlines from credit card

I signed up the BoA credit card 50,000 miles promotion last Dec. But I forgot to spend $1000 in the first 3 months, I spent $995 in the first two months and then stopped. The reason was I thought I had reached this limit. But I forgot one thing: to check my spending at both BoA and at Alaska Airlines websites. I did not go to the latter because I thought I did not have the mileage plan number.

Today I found out on my credit card I do have the number. But the 3 months has long passed. They now offer 25,000 miles for bonus opening their credit card.

Chinese kids

Saw this discussion at mittbbs.com (发信人: waluzz78 (哇鲁庄镇), 信区: Parenting). I think I agree.

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最近跟国内来的访问学者或旅游的家庭往,感觉国内的孩子很活泼自信,跟大人打交道
也很自然。跟他们相比,我们周围在美国长大的10岁左右的小孩,包括我们自己的孩子
,显得更木讷,尤其不擅长跟大人打交道。我琢磨了一下,觉得原因是孩子在美国长大
,只想用英文说话,而在家里父母用中文跟他们交流,他们虽然能听懂,但不愿用中文
回答,久而久之,跟大人的交流也变少了,而中国父母跟美国家庭的来往有限,孩子们
也缺乏跟美国大人的来往,结果既没学会中国人待人接物的方法,也没学会美国人的方
式,基本上只会跟同龄人打交道,在成人面前就显得很木讷。想起夏天一个孩子班上搞
得跟老师告别的party上,美国孩子即兴侃侃而谈表达对老师的感激之情,几个中国孩
子唯唯诺诺的回避发言,当时以为是性格所至,现在看应该是生长环境造成的。国内长
大的孩子普遍就大方多了。现在很想亡羊补牢,改善一下孩子的社交能力,我能想到的
就是多带孩子参加活动,尤其是美国人为主的活动,因为让孩子学中国人待人处事已经
不切合实际了,只好人他们学习美国人的方式,自己也只好step out of the comfort
zone了.也许加入country club是个办法。以前觉得那里中国人太少了,加入是受罪.不
知大家有什么好建议。
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Trying to beat the coffee habbit

Lots of headache first few days. It’s getting better as time goes. The reason I am trying to do that is it (the coffee) appears to make me go to restroom much more often. I want to eliminate this one factor to see if things get better.

A second reason, is I don’t want to dependent on one thing (coffee is addictive). I recall last summer when I was in China, and I could not find coffee in my hometown and my wife’s hometown, and I got headache. Eventually I was able to find the “American style” iced coffee and a bakery and certainly at McDonald. I think I need to reduce my coffee intake, and if I can stay alert without it, that will be the best.

Made same mistake again: stocked up too much new born and size 1 diapers

When we were expecting the second baby, we vaguely recall the baby quickly grew out of the “new born” size diaper, so we did not stock up this time. When the baby came home with us, we already had a box of 88 pieces of Huggies natural, and being a person like to stock up things, I bought two 88 pieces Pampers new born. In about a month, our baby grew to 10 lbs, which is the upper limit of new born, and we still had about 40 pieces left.

Now baby is about 2 months old, and approaching 14 lbs (13 lbs 6 oz as of 2 month check-up), we still have a box of 92 pieces unopened. We bought a box (192 pieces) of Huggies little snugglers size 1 from Sams’ club before the baby was born. And a friend brought in 92 pieces Huggies, another friend gave us the “diaper cake” which probably had 50 pieces.

So here is our mistake again: stocked up too much new born and size 1 diapers. The good thing is we can always give it to friends who are expecting new baby :-)

New problem with new baby

We had a new baby girl about 2 months ago. One problem we anticipated did not show up as I feared: the feeling of being neglected for my older daughter, as new baby usually gets more attention. That’s good. When I think about it, I heard so many warnings from my friends and tried to spend some quality time with serenity.

But another unexpected problem arose. The financial one. Between the medical bills related to new baby, the home helper to help out my wife, and rising child care cost from Serenity’s school, and at the same time my stagnant take home pay, I suddenly found out I am not on a sound financial footing. I am doing some maneuvers, such as consolidating checking accts., refinance mortgage, etc.

I hope to get through this school year, because in next fall my elder daughter will start kindergarten at local public school. No more child are cost for her, if any :-)

Baby car seat and travel system, more about indoor playground

We got this Graco travel system from Wal-Mart long before our second baby was born. Btw, there is a promotion ($25 rebate) going on for this product. I recall we bought the same car seat for our elder daughter when she was new born, we still have the base which we are using again, but I forgot how we install the car seat at that time (note I also wrote a blog post on this topic 4 years ago).

We also went to the St. Louis Outlet Mall (formerly the Mills), and Serenity got to play in the big indoor playground. Sometimes she just runs around.

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

This is the best indoor playground in St. Louis, in my opinion.

Stock up some diapers from Target.com

Target is offering $20 gift cards for 2 giant packs of Pamper or Huggies diapers. With the expiring $10 off $40 store pick up offer from target.com, that makes 2 giant packs from about $70 to $40. With Target red cards, there is 5% discount as well. Personally I picked up Huggies little snuggler size 2 (12 to $18 lbs).

This is better deal than a similar deal I got from target recently, in which they offer $10 GC for 2 super packs Pampers new born diaper, which costs $50 before tax.

Sam’s Club: I bought a “super giant” Huggies’ size 1 snug and dry pack from them, which has 192 pieces, and they offered $6 off about $40 original price. From this article at babycenter it appears “little snugglers” is better than “snug and dry”.

Of course, the risk of stocking up diapers is overstock :-) From personal experience, size 2 is a safe bet, because infant usually slows weight growth after couple months. That’s why I don’t want to stock a lot new born and size 1.

Last but not least, when placing order at Target.com, make sure entering a valid email address to receive the free Gift Card, it appears their web page does not check that. I had to call their customer service to get the $10 GC as I forgot to put it my own email there.

PS, I picked up the huggies size 2 order this morning at 8 am. Because this is the last day of tax free holiday this year, there is quite a crowd and the Guest Service lady complained about this “flexible fulfillment” promotion (pick up in store), and the tax holiday thing. I waited for about 10 minutes before they got the items from their warehouse. Anyway, it appears Target is getting some disgruntled workers. And a related question, if a store is full of deal seekers, and not many people willing to spend, that also signals trouble, right?

Got suspicious call from Chase Fraud Service

Twice

The first time, call originated from this number 1 844 540 4033, the guy not even verified my name, and told my Southwest Air Credit Card is stolen, then started reading about those “fraudulent” charges. At the end, I asked the last 4 digits of my card number, that does not match; and I asked the first name, does not match, and so on. So I told him I would hang up and call Chase directly.

The second time, they are coming back with a similar message, with this call back number 1 800 955 9060.

This itself (the phone calls) appears more like fraud, I am thinking they are trying to get more information from me. To have a peace of mind, I did verified my credit report via annualcreditreport.com (free for everyone, 3 reports for one year), and I could not find the card number mentioned by the suspicious caller.

Just trying to add some burden as we are having a baby girl lately. Those cheaters.