New Toys for Jayden


So yeah it’s coming up to Christmas and of course, we have to spoil our kids (who doesn’t around the holiday season?)  Truthfully, we only need to get one toy as Ethan could care less if he’s playing with a broken block or a stone from the street, and, he has all of Jayden’s old toys. But we want to get Jayden something he’ll not only really enjoy, but also get creative with as he’s a pretty imaginative kid and loves to play on his own which is certainly great for me!

He’s been using his Lego a lot recently.  Indeed, every morning before we leave for preschool he needs at least 10 minutes to build “another spaceship.”  So that’s great.  But then when I was at Kayla’s house I saw these Clic Toys and he was having a blast with them. He was making all sorts of things – hardly playing with her kid (his best friend, Matthew), at all.  So I think we’re going to get them – probably the smallest box of 175 pieces, because at his age, that will probably be more than adequate.

There’s also something I saw online: Color Mixing Toys.  Since mom and dad want to get the kids something for Christmas too, I may suggest these.  They’re just for fun and don’t really require so much imagination but it’s just for a good time and, really, isn’t that what grandma and grandparent presents are meant to be about?  According to the promo though, as well as being fun, they are educational.  You put them on and see magic!  You can switch the lenses pretty easily and see the world like a bug does or how it would like through a kaleidoscope.  So I guess that’s educational and it’s definitely something different…certainly wasn’t around in my day Indeed, it gives kids a way of changing the entire world…now, in my life that would be really amazing; just think of all the endless possibilities…hmmm, well, it’s sure something nice to dream about for a not-so-sunny Wednesday!

Have a great day and if you get a few moments to yourself, curl up with a nice hot cup of tea and dream about what you would do if you could change your view of the world into a reality.

Getting Great Service in Portland

I love living in Portland.  We moved just before we had the kids.  Before that we were living in Connecticut where I’d grown up so I was really reluctant to relocate, but anyway we didn’t have a choice as Daniel got a new job.  Anyway, since we’ve come here, I am more and more pleased we were forced into it, almost on a day-to-day basis.

One of the places I discovered very early on – probably because we needed a decent supply of groceries in our home pretty immediately – was Zupan’s Markets.  Located in three convenient areas in the city (Belmont, Burnside and Macadam), the produce sold there is so fresh I cannot work out how they do it. I also like the idea of a family-run business and this is really the feel you get at Zupans – like, I even felt a personal loss a few months ago when the founder and owner of the store – John Zupan – passed away.

Another early discovery I made in the city was the restaurant, the Old Wives’ Tales.  Being a vegetarian veering on the edge of veganism (don’t tell Daniel, he’ll divorce me – he’s SUCH a carnivore), this was a great find.  As well as having a great play area for Jayden (and Ethan is happy as he can just glare lovingly as his big brother and hero plays), it has a huge vegan/veggie menu with some great meat options so I don’t get a sour look from the big man. Sometimes, I even find myself dreaming about the salad bar as I run to pick the kids up from daycare to take them there for a treat…when really I know it’s actually my treat; great food and fun for the kids!

So I’m constantly discovering new and awesome things to do in Portland.  It really does seem that every time I turn around there is something else great about this city.  Apart from missing my parents who are still in Connecticut, I love living in Portland!  They are actually coming to stay over Christmas so I have that to look forward to as well.  And I’ll sure be showing them around my great city that I’m ever so proud of!

So, until next time…have a great Tuesday and try to find something you love about your city!

Making Us Rich!

So, last night I decided it was time to really try to get my head around Asia finance.  Daniel had taken Jayden to the library for story-time and Ethan had passed out from crying, so I actually had some real, undisturbed time – quite a rarity in my house! 

Here’s how this all started.  My brother Jack and I have – for as long as I can remember – been discussing easy ways to make money.  Nothing has ever really come of it – from selling hairdryers door-to-door to online data entry jobs; trying to navigate different site advice on the best ways to make money online or even selling specially-made cookies to neighbors.  Unfortunately, all that we have gleaned from these efforts are a big headache while making a few measly extra bucks on the side – hardly worth it. 

So a few weeks ago Jack told me that with the inheritance we still have since our nana’s passing, he was sure he had a foolproof way of making it make us rich, being, Asia finance.  His buddy Dick had been playing around in this field for the last six months or so, he said, and it had really done a lot for his bank balance.  I told him that I’d first have to do my own research and then get back to him.

Asia Finance: 101

This is what I found out, in a nutshell (or, as close to a nutshell as one can get on this somewhat expansive topic).  First, it seems that it’s very popular, because even after there was some crash in Asia’s economy back in the 1990s, it remained a pretty sure thing and people weren’t exactly running away from it.  That immediately gave me initial confidence and somewhat more interest in finding out more about this.

Second, it seems I already know a lot more than I thought – big electronic companies like Sony are Asia-owned and since I am confident in that market (who isn’t?), it could be a good one to start with.  However, what I wasn’t so aware of was that many of these companies have high profiles in the US market.  But if Sony releases some new game console, making an investment in its stock will be a direct Asian investment and a pretty good, safe option.  I’m very into safe.  Jack is too, but perhaps not quite as much as me, but I think he’ll listen to me when it comes to nana’s inheritance.

So that’s Japan taken care of.  Then I looked into what China might be able to offer and it seems that it’s a good idea to put some eggs in a smaller basket there, at least initially.  For example, not-so-large oil companies such as PetroChina have some pretty impressive options for investors.  And then it occurred to me, ooh, I may be becoming an “investor” and I thought that sounded pretty cool!

I also discovered that putting capital into companies was probably a safer bet than actually dealing with the whole Asian stock market as that appears to be a bit too unpredictable and complicated for my limited talents to date.  Maybe in the future, but we’re just not quite there yet. And it’s the same for hedge funds too. 

I was just about to look a bit further on this topic, when I heard the sweet dulcet tones of Jayden screaming, “mommy, mommy, we heard all about the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and it was cool,” and I knew my night of research had reached its natural end!

They’re Still Bouncing Up and Down

We had these new neighbors move in over the summer.  They wrote something on the local email list asking for help putting up their trampoline.  Her husband is away a lot so Daniel offered to help.  It was him and a few other guys and it took them hours and hours to finish putting it up. 

But it was sure worth it. Every time we look at our window – morning, noon or night, literally – there they are, bouncing around on it.  They have four kids ranging from around 7 to 14-years-old, but it’s not just those guys who are using it. Jayden was given a free pass (since his daddy was so helpful in its assembly), but he’s somewhat cautious (or as Daniel would say “a wimp”) so hasn’t taken them up on it yet.  Still, every time I look, there are at least 3 kids bouncing up and down. Even when I take Moo Choo (our dog) out for a walk before 7 am, there they are, jumping up and down on the trampoline.  Daniel often wondered how safe it was, but it does have a net so I’m hoping it’s okay and the company does have a good reputation for safety. For sure it has to be good for the mom who probably has her hands full, what with her husband traveling a lot for work.  I think he’s in the diamond business.  Either that, or gold; some kind of precious gem, I forget which exactly but he’s for sure never been seen on that trampoline!

Food Deliveries  

On the recommendation from a couple of our other neighbors (Kayla and Ruth), this Friday marked the first week of our family receiving an organic food delivery from Organics To You.  I was getting tired of reading about all the cancers that can be caused by non-organic produce and figured since it was so easy, why not check this company out? 

We started off with the Small Bin as we thought – from the description – that would cover our produce needs for the week.  At $33 I was impressed with the price and when it came I was delighted! I got apples, pears, oranges, satsumas, turnips, celeriac, onion, kale, carrots, beets, potatoes, leeks and broccoli.  I can use it all.  The fruits will go in Jayden’s lunch box and be available for him and Ethan as an afternoon snack and I’m planning on making a root vegetable soup with the turnips, celeriac, carrots, potatoes and leeks. The broccoli I’ll use for a quiche (Daniel just picked up some great dairy products over the weekend that I’m dying to try out) and the potatoes will be good for a meal of potatoes, beans and cheese or potatoes with tuna melt that Ethan simply gobbles up.  And if I have any leftover, I can always send it to the bouncing neighbors who must be working up a crazy appetite!  I’ll definitely be trying other baskets from this company in the future.

Money Matters

During my – many – years of dating, I tried to learn as much as I could about the theories of the opposite sex.  I read books like ‘Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Venus,’ by John Gray and ‘The Woman Men Adore…and Never Want to Leave’ by Bob Grant and a bunch of others along those lines.  And what I tired to fathom about different spending habits between men and women was that  the fairer sex liked to spend, whereas their hunter-gatherer partner, liked to save.  So I figured that since I wasn’t a spender, I wouldn’t have that challenge; my future husband and I would both be savers and there’d be nothing to fight about.

Ho, ho, ho, little did I know.  When I met Daniel I thought he was the total opposite of my father as he did like to spend (my father has always been cleverly frugal with his pennies).  What I didn’t realize until after we got married was that Daniel shared a lot of similarities with my father, except in the money realm. It hasn’t been easy trying to navigate finances with Daniel, but over the years we’ve been married, thankfully I’ve learned to relax a lot (although I do still get frustrated in this area at times). 

What is interesting to me is also, is what I have discovered on having spoken to my female (married) friends.  This stuff about financing, budgeting, and men and women’s stereotypical spending habits, is all a big myth and perhaps  just a nasty, manipulative way of keeping women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen while the men go out and spend, spend, spend.

As I was chatting to my girlfriend Kayla just yesterday, she said when she goes out “to spend money” it’s a lip-gloss and a pair of socks totaling $8.50.  But her husband Mike will come home with a Plasma TV for $800….hmmm, who’s the spender there?

It does seem therefore that “women shop, men buy.” Therefore, I have now decided that we need to break down the brainwashing that we’ve accepted for way too long that it is women who need to kick their compulsive spending habits in the butt and really give our men a talking-to on how to budget sensibly. 

I don’t fancy my chances with Daniel at home, but it’s definitely worth a try.  Watch this space for how it goes…