Sniffle, sniffle; snot, snot.


I wrote about Conor being good about wiping his cold and snotty nose with tissue, but he recently adopted the “norm” — to wipe his nose on his sleeve. Ew.

Early in the morning, by the time we get to school, his sleeves already have a long wet spot. So much for freshness and cleanliness!

I’ve since left a box of tissue in his cubby, put tissue in each of his pocket and instructed him to replenish his pocket stash as soon as he used one. We consistently call him on it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

I searched online for help. I don’t want to give in to using a product that “cures” the symptom when there’s a way to properly address it. But you know, he gets busy hanging out with friends and playing and whatever else that keeps a pre-schooler busy!

Here’s what I found. Has anybody used Sniffle Buddies before?

I’m having an internal battle because if I bought this product, I’m caving in to convenience. I have the patience to consistently tell him to wipe his nose with tissue. Yet, I’m not with him all the time! That’s what sucks.

Anyway, if you’ve tried this let me know please.

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What my pre-schooler feels about boys kissing boys


Conor happened to look at the article I was reading online that had an embedded video. The article was related to the movie Twilight, and the video was something about gay men.

My kid saw 2 guys sharing a sweet kiss and here’s what he said:

Conor: Two mans kissing? Yuck!

Me: First of all, it’s men not mans. Second of all, what’s wrong with that?

Conor: A boy should only kiss a girl.

Me: There’s nothing wrong with a boy kissing a boy, or with a girl kissing a girl. They have the right to do that. If you see a person kissing another person and you’re not comfortable about that, just look and walk away. Your reaction is not relevant. Now, would you kiss your friend K****?

Conor: Yes.

Me: What about E***?

Conor: Yes.

Me: So there’s nothing really yucky about that, is there?

Conor: Still yuck.

I’m not sure if that’s the best conversation to have with a kid who’s nearing 4 years old, but I had to let him know what I stand for as his mother/parent.

What I’m surprised and worried about is the reaction. Our family is not against any sexuality or religion, so where did he get that? Maybe at school? Is it innate? I don’t want to think that our reaction towards sexuality is innate, but that it’s influenced by our environment…but what do I know???

Post-Mortem: November


Two weeks ago, I did a rough review on how we’re doing with food spending. It’s the biggest variable spending we have. There were months when we spent more than $1,000 just on food. That’s a LOT for 2 adults and 1 pre-schooler.

So we had to take a look into ourselves and figure out what we were not doing right. I blamed myself mostly for not being motivated to do anything. I forgot how therapeutic cooking to me was. I re-discovered my love for cooking this month. I made simple meals that one day I hope to share with you.

We have spent $750 on food this month. We only dined out and bought take-outs twice each, both done with no excessive order taking at cheap places. We also spent $133 on prepared Thanksgiving meal, which we believe was a wise decision.

I also realized that I just can’t be very strict about the “extras”. I seem to have a difficult time fully trimming the fat, and I’m not sure if one can realistically do that with a child. I mean, my child recently discovered hot cocoa when I bought him one at Starbucks on Macy’s Parade Day. Of course I don’t intend to buy him hot cocoa at Starbucks often, so I decided to grab a tub of hot cocoa and 2-for-$5 whipped cream at the supermarket for the fun of it.

Using November as a baseline, it looks like the food budget could be about $650/month (after deducting Thanksgiving dinner) for the 3 of us. This would need commitment from me to cook at least 4 times a week. I’m sure you know that I work full-time, so dinner preparation usually occupies my mind by noon. This aspect of cooking is something, I believe, a lot of non-cooking folks don’t get but that’s another post to come. 🙂

Overall, to bring down food spending from $1k+ to $750–with prepared T Day dinner purchased at that–deserves us pats on our backs! I’m so happy to have experienced this month.

My toddler is a vampire!


It must be due to the latest Twilight movie because Conor decided to bite a classmate. For the first time, and I hope the last.

Image from growingtoddler.com

The teacher felt bad not to have noticed, I felt bad to be the parent of a biter…but, in a way I’m not very apologetic about the whole thing especially after hearing my child’s side of the story.

My child is very particular about his personal space. You would think a toddler can’t have a good grip of that concept yet, but my child broke that mold I think. He can articulate “<Name of kid>, I need my space!” and walk away. He even tells us, his parents, if he wants to be left alone. The first time I saw him very upset was at 2 years old. It surprised me that I was like deer crossing a road at night waiting to be hit by a car when it happened–I stood there frozen witnessing my child yell at the other 2-year-old boy “No, D! No hit!!!” If his eyes could spit fire, they would. That’s what he appeared to me. When we reprimand him, he usually goes to his room–or some other place away from us–to be by himself.

We sat with him that night to get a better idea of what happened. The other boy “hugged” him and was “beating” him. Expound on the beating part, Conor said he was hugging and kicking him.

Did you tell him to stop? Yes. When? Before I bit him. Where were your hands? Couldn’t you just push him a bit to let go of his hug? He was hugging me tight.

Well, if that were me it did make sense to use something else for self-defense–my teeth.

Did you say sorry? No. Do you think you should? No.

Uhm, this is tough. Let me think about it some more over the weekend.

The teacher told me that they are working with the other boy to learn to respect boundaries. All of us were shocked to find out that Conor resulted to such aggression, despite being very articulate about his feelings. By the way, no blood trickled, no skin broken.

We talked with him about how biting wasn’t the best thing to do. We talked with him about ways to resolve that problem. He knew that he could’ve walked away and told his teacher about the annoying kid, but if you were locked in someone’s arms and they are stomping or kicking your feet…well…after learning about the teachers currently working with him on the concept of boundaries, Conor may have been dealing with him for a while now and just couldn’t deal with him any more.

I keep thinking about it and it led me to an imagined scene at middle school–we get called called in because our child punched a kid. Of course, I worry but I also have faith in my child and in my parenting with Jon. We are not stepping in, nor have discussed approaching the other kid’s parents. Some social things are better left learned as you go along in life.

My child doesn’t pick fights, never has, but he is no pushover either. Childhood can be tough, especially being around kids who have no respect for boundaries or are simply socially inept. My parents NEVER interfered with any fight I had with other kids when I was growing up. I think I will continue that practice. Then again, I was with really nice kids and no direct experience with bullies.

Today, one of his teachers told me about a conflict yesterday my son had with the same kid. Though both apologized, the other boy wanted to hug to finally resolve that conflict but my son could only offer a handshake. It was left to simply saying sorry because neither was willing to give in. I’ve always wondered about my son having an old man’s soul. He’s barely 4! A toddler who wants to shake hands instead of hugging? But, I’m glad that he knows when to be civil and when to be truly loving.

Honestly, I’m proud that my child knows his limits, can articulate his feelings, never picks up fights and is not a pushover. I feel bad for the other boy, but consequences are part of learning and growing up. His parents should really work on teaching him about personal space it looks like. My child is not perfect and certainly pushes his boundaries; but he is not tolerated for any bad behavior displayed in our presence and we give full support to his teachers to educate him in all aspects.

November in review


Late October, Jon and I made a pact to lower our spending. We knew that the bulk of our spending was on food, specifically bought food. Half into the month, here’s what the food spending looks like:

  • $250 on groceries
  • $34 on take-out & delivery

I say, that’s great progress from us! Not all of $250 used up yet. I still have a few meals to cook, which can each generate 1 or 2 leftover meals.

Image from stlfamily.com

This Thanksgiving is the FIRST one we’ll celebrate as a family. Jon was not into the idea of celebrating it in NZ. It’s kind of hard to do that when you don’t have the rest of the country celebrating with you. We decided, because we like convenience, to buy prepared turkey, side dishes and a pecan pie for dessert. We got them from Whole Foods and will pick them up on Thanksgiving day. We could have chosen to buy enough for 2 adults and 1 toddler, but we went a bit crazy. 🙂 We are used to leftovers and I can be creative with them too. Total à la carte purchase was $133. I honestly did not want to get a turkey, even though we got the petite kind, because the idea of eating meat–and the same meat at that–for an undetermined amount of time sounds so gross to me. But Jon hasn’t had a decent Thanksgiving for more than 6 years I think.

Though we haven’t entirely used cash to spend, it’s obvious that it wasn’t the debit/credit cards that were the problem. I mean, they are not evil in the sense that they don’t magically swipe themselves at the counter. 🙂

I liberally budgeted $1k on food to cover every food purchase we’ll make this month. I’ve adjusted it since to $850 and will most likely keep adjusting as the month closes. I know, and you probably think, that $1k is WAY TOO MUCH budget for food. We typically spend ~$600/month on groceries but we also have budget for bought food. That $1k covers EVERY EDIBLE ITEM we’ll buy in November. I don’t have a goal yet, e.g. spend $500/month on food, because I believe that holidays and seasons play a part in our eating habits. We tend to spend less during cold months and go lax in the warm months.

I’m just happy that we’re really able to lower spending. We’re on the same boat and I’ve committed myself to cooking again.

Camping + ranting


My family and I, along with a family friend, enjoyed 3 full days camping in the Oregon coast. Jon booked it in early summer and I was doubting how it would go considering the weather.

It was full of surprises and good realizations. Here goes them.

Yurt. We stayed in a yurt that had heat. It was about 12 feet in diameter, had a bunk bed, a table and 3 chairs, and a couch that could pass for a bed. There was a covered porch with a bench, which was good for hanging out. If it were summer and dry, we could’ve spent time hanging out in the picnic table and benches, but we managed to use the fire pit to make s’mores.

Entertainment. It’s good to know that our family isn’t reliant on television to keep boredom at bay. We had our iPhones to get small bits of news about Occupy Portland and of the weather. The kid used the videos in the iPad for about 30 minutes a day, but preferred dancing to keep himself (and us) entertained after dinner. Thanks to e-books, we didn’t have to take real books but we did anyway. He didn’t feel limited to the 4 story books we took because I previously downloaded new e-books for him that I liked myself. 🙂

Campers. I came across a woman camper who was probably around 55-60 years old. She breathed really heavily. One time I went to the ladies restroom to brush teeth and wash dishes, I heard moans from the handicap stall. Immediately I thought that there was a couple having sex there! I wasn’t sure whether to leave but then decided I had the right to use the place and I don’t want to wait til it got dark to finish my purpose there. The moans got louder and then I heard the flush. Really? No need to pretend that they were doing the “right” business in that stall. The stall door opened and the moans were still going. Oh my god. Don’t approach me and talk to me! Moments later, the woman with the heavy breathing appeared. Okay.

In the morning of our check-out, around 7am, the couple next door couldn’t hold it in I guess. They moaned when they reached orgasmic happiness. Imagine the laughter that went on between me and my husband at the porch. They must’ve heard it because yurts aren’t known for sound-proofing.

Tillamook. Oh the town smelled of cow dung one day. It was too sharp for a city folk like me. 🙂 We went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, had ice cream and bought a few things. I had Taco Time for the first time, and saw 2 middle-aged women buy and eat 3 burritos each. Oh lord.

Beach. My toddler enjoyed digging about 30 holes with his tiny shovel despite the gusty rain. It was also a battle to get him out of there. Next day was better for a long walk. Here are photos.

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The family friend. Just a warning, this is the ranting part.

Well, I was annoyed at her a couple of times before and during the trip. We shopped together 2 days before the trip, but at the check out she didn’t pay for a couple of things she got. She got a bottle of red wine and veg sausages. I was surprised she didn’t pay and I was too busy having a discussion with her that I didn’t realize it til we got in the car. To top that off, she used her own membership card to get the points. Jon and I just decided that since we’ll be using her car to drive us all to Tillamook, maybe she felt entitled to something in return. Yet, we filled her car for $45 on our way back.

She also had a trailer issue when we arrived at camp and didn’t want any help from bystanders, and appeared very stressed over something that could’ve been fixed within minutes had she accepted help. My husband suggested that she taped the break cord (or whatever it was that caused the problem) with duct tape, and when my family went to a camping store to get some supplies my husband included that. After she used it, she returned it to him. I told my husband later in the yurt that that $17 duct tape wasn’t something we needed and if she needed it, she should’ve paid for that afterward. After the camping store, we went to Fred Meyers and bought some things and she started including her items with ours when Jon started putting our items on the conveyor. My husband, after I told him about the grocery incident 3 days before, asked her “Aren’t you paying for that?”. I just don’t get why she would continue doing that.

They joked about it afterward and he said something about her pan-handling. They go a long way so they can joke about things like that, whereas I’ve only known her less than a year. At some point, Jon told me that she’s having money difficulties due to vet bills. She has a dog, 5 chickens and 3 cats. She lives alone. Oh my god. He also talked about a trip that she (kind of) sabotaged by making the rest of the group miserable just because she couldn’t find decent food sources on New Year’s Eve when everything’s closed and the country they went to hardly caters to vegetarians.

It didn’t bother me that we paid for some of her dinners early this year because she was so nice and helpful to us during our settling here in Portland, but after we paid for her food a couple of times to ease paying for the bill and she didn’t pay us back, I made noise to my husband and I told him that I’m not going to tolerate that. He couldn’t understand her behavior either. When we invited her to dinner in the past, we made it clear that we’ll pay for her food. So I expect that when she initiates dinner plans she would pay for her own at least. We don’t expect her to fork for us because 1) we have more discretionary pay and 2) we are a family of 3. My alarm bell started going off sometime in summer when she came over a few times and we talked about getting food delivered, and didn’t pay us any cent. Plus, the way she reacted to that trailer problem and how she handled it worries me. Her car and trailer blocked the road, she didn’t–not once–ask for help and yet she had no idea what the problem was. I do get the importance of learning to solve one’s problem, but in that particular situation that approach is not going to work.

I must’ve made her sound so bad in this rant. She is a kind person, loves animals and is sympathetic. It’s the money aspect of this relationship that bothers me, and her being a stress ball at times.

Do you know people who are like her?

It’s not him, it’s me


I lent my, and my family’s only, credit card here in the USA to my husband about 2 weeks ago to pay the vet. I haven’t asked for it back. Such great timing, I thought, because we decided to use cash this month, use debit if we must, and to leave the credit card at home.

There hasn’t been any transaction in that card since. So…hey…wait a minute.

Was it me? Has it always been just me? Only me who was doing the damage, err, spending?

We make joint decisions on non-grocery purchases so part of me believes I shouldn’t take the blame, but I can’t help it. I was fully aware of every transaction that appears in every statement.

Image from fotolia.com

At the beginning of our relationship, I promoted myself to money manager. He surrendered to me, you could say that. I reigned him in because I thought he spent frivolously. We introduced personal allowance, which we still practice. (By the way, it helps us feel that we have SOME control of our OWN salaries.) So now, it turns out, I need to be reigned in.

So…we’ve turned into each other before we met each other? Huh? What? Wot.

This is a big (not to mention nasty) reality to swallow, you know. I’m the budgeter for crying out loud. I really don’t know why I pushed for buying our toddler a new bike (with side supports) for $200. (Please don’t judge me!). I don’t know why I kept wanting to get take-out when the real reason was really wanting to be out and about, socializing, etc.

I’ve worked so hard since last year to be independent of credit, and yet I’m abusing it again. Just so you know, I decided to get a credit card here to “build my credit”. Being new to the country, I have no credit history and any financial institution barely “know” me. I wish I just got a miles card. I probably wouldn’t feel so bad.

Okay, just to clear, last month wasn’t exactly spend-for-shopping-for-ourselves month. A big chunk of our discretionary money went towards paying off the Visa. Spends that took place in summer just had to get paid and having waited until end of fall to do that was just a reckless decision.

So, back to spending REAL money this month, though it actually started last month. We haven’t bought take-out food nor ate out since Halloween. Wow. Really wow!