Friday, April 30, 2010

Money you are....from some experts

Finally, an article about strategies we have lived by since I could spend my own money in my early teen years.  I especially liked that they mentioned the focus on not forgetting about your annual bills and working them into your budget.  So many people forget about these and then struggle to pay their taxes, insurance, Christmas, etc.  We have always, since we got married, YEARS ago, transferred the money needed for these bills every month to a separate account.  No struggles in that area here.

8 Questions for the Constantly Broke

Kimberly Palmer, On Tuesday April 27, 2010, 11:38 am EDT

If you find yourself nervously checking your bank account balance before payday, then perhaps it's time to make some changes. Before swearing off restaurants or cutting up your credit card, ask yourself the following 8 questions, which are designed to help get you back on top of your finances.

Do I know where my money is going? Beyond a quick glance at our credit card statements each month, most of us don't bother tracking how we're spending money. That means we might not realize that our grocery expenses have suddenly skyrocketed, or our utility bills have doubled. Using an online personal financial management tool to automatically track your spending - and are among the most popular - allows you to figure out where money is going with minimal effort. The programs can also warn you once you get close to your target budget for the month.

Am I focusing too much on the month, instead of the year? Research suggests that people often fall victim to forgetfulness when budgeting by the month. They tend to overlook unexpected and one-time expenses, such as car repairs or gifts, so underestimate how much they'll need to spend. But when people budget by the year, they tend to factor in those costs. Research by University of Southern California's Gulden Ulkumen, Cornell's Manoj Thomas, and New York University's Vicki Morwitz found that college students were about 40 percent off-target when budgeting by the month, but only three percent off base when thinking by the year.

[See Benefits of Budgeting by the Year, Not the Month]

Do I do something everyday that wastes money? It might be a cab ride, lunches, or a six-pack of beer. These types of small, daily expenditures add up, and by the end of month, you could be out $100 or more. (In the case of a $10 lunch on each weekday, that's $200.) Finish Rich author David Bach famously coined the phrase "Latte Factor" to capture this idea. He argues that if you invested the money instead of spending it, you could eventually become a millionaire.

Do I know my own weakness? Almost everyone has one. It might be a golf habit, fancy jeans, or nice dinners. Perhaps it's simply buying more than you need when you're out running errands. Gwyneth Paltrow's budgeting expert for her GOOP newsletter, Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, offers the following advice: Carry a stopwatch with you on shopping trips. She also suggests bringing a loyal friend on shopping trips to remind you not to overspend.

Am I saving too much? This question might sound counter-intuitive - how could anyone be saving too much? But if you're going into debt to fund your lifestyle and you've already cut back wherever possible, then it's time to look at how much money you're funneling into your 401(k). While it always makes sense to take advantage of matching programs from your employer, it doesn't make sense to save additional pre-tax dollars at the expense of a hefty credit card bill that comes with a 10 percent or higher interest rate.

Is my relationship hurting my bank account? Even if you're on top of your own finances, your bank account won't reflect it unless your significant other is also on board. If you share credit, in the form of credit cards, auto loans, or a mortgage, then any late payment from your partner can also ding your own credit report. Marriage can intertwine your financial lives even further. Before tying the knot, be sure to review each other's credit histories, talk about whether you prefer joint or separate accounts, and make sure you are familiar with each other's long term financial goals. Couples also often get tripped up when it comes to handling money requests from needy family members. Make sure you're on the same page to prevent tension later.

[See 6 Money Talks to Have Before You Marry]

Are the big items dragging me down? According to Elisabeth Leamy, Good Morning America's consumer correspondent and author of Save Big: Cut Your Top 5 Costs and Save Thousands!, it's the big items, not the small ones, that hurt people's finances the most. She suggests focusing on minimizing your mortgage, car, health, debt, and grocery payments. Buying a used car instead of a new one, for example, can save drivers tens of thousands of dollars. Plus, she says, since "cars these days are really well built, the risk is lower than it used to be."

Am I wasting money by carrying debt? If you're paying down a $10,000 credit card bill with a 15 percent interest rate, then you're paying about $1,500 a year to carry that debt. If you're paying off a $10,000 car loan at 6 percent, then you're wasting $600 a year on interest. If you can find the extra cash, consider paying off those loans so you can stop throwing money away on debt payments.

Oh the full moon nights can be so tough

A lot of people don't sleep well during full moons and kids, well, they go nuts sometimes. This totally explains the weekend that I posted about a couple of days ago. But, it really causes Jaemin extra angst...though I don't think he sees it that way.

He gets up once a night, most nights, anyways. Right now, he's getting up and STAYING up! He came in my room last night and I put him back in bed. A few minutes later I could hear him toddling back in. This time I just put him in bed hoping he'd just go right to sleep, like usual. Nope! He laid there and patted and stroked by head while just talking away. Back to bed. This went on for one hour! Finally, I got Brian to wake up. He listens and stays in bed if Brian tells him to, but apparently I'm too much of a push over with him.

Funny because I think the older 4 listen to me better and with Jaemin it's reverse. Just can't figure kids out sometimes.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

To push or not to push?

Pushing adoption and culture? Is this right or wrong? I don't think it's necessary right or wrong, but maybe better moderation. Just my personal opinion, though. I'm not really one to push things on any of my kids, adopted or not. I do push values and family togetherness. I do encourage them to respect their family (each other) and learn lessons to be good individuals. Past that...their interests...I don't push. When they find something that suits their interest, that's when I 'encourage'.

So far, the 4 oldest are involved in extra curriculars. I have never pushed a sport or activity. I do open up the option, if it's a viable option for our family. So basically, we encourage the kids to try things. If they don't like them, they have to finish out the season or session and then they can try something new. So far this has worked to their advantage trying to find what they enjoy. For one boy, it's basketball or football. For another boy, it's football or baseball. For one girl, it's all soccer. For another girl, it's gymnastics. The older boys have tried what they were interested in and narrowed it down. The girls are doing the same thing. It's neat to watch them find their niche.

So some adoptive parents choose to push their adopted children into cultural activities and talk about their adoptions on a daily basis. Is this hard on kids? I don't know. I think for some, it's their way of ensuring that they are not taking on the roles past generations of adoptive parents did and ignore international and adoption culture.

I choose to take the middle road with this as we have with activities. We do what we can. We do what we're interested in doing as a family. We all like Korean food, so we do cook Korean on a regular basis. We do get together with our international group for Korean holidays to celebrate. But, we can never emulate true Korean culture because we are not Korean.

I tend to take the middle road on adoption culture too. We don't make it everyday conversation with our kids. They know they're adopted. We do talk about adoption when a situation arises that sounds like a good time to broach a subject and when the kids bring up a question themselves. They are very aware that we are open to answering what we can. And they do feel free to ask. I'm glad they do that.

So, one parent's success by pushing adoption and international culture may not be how we find our family success. Our family enjoys the moderation of the meld we have in our biological/adoptive family mix. We, like our children, just try to find happy mediums so we can be family, but not dismiss what may be important to all of our five kids. They each have their own needs and wants and I would support them whether they're directly related to adoption or not. For instance, my 7 year old told me last night that she would like to live in Korea, one day, for a little bit. I told her that when she's in college she can apply for a scholarship to go to Korea or after college she can find a temporary job and live there for a year and see what she thinks. She's excited about this prospect and since she wants to be a teacher I think it would be a wonderful opportunity for her. I don't support her because it's her birth country and culture, I support her because she's my child, it's an honorable goal in life and a wonderful opportunity for anyone. I would support our two older, biological, children the same way. I guess, I just can't imagine consuming my or their lives with just one thing, be it sports, or adoption. I don't want them blaming every bad thing in their lives with adoption either. I just hope they see it as a way they entered our family. That doesn't mean I ignore that it happened, but it doesn't make them 100% of who they are.

My point is that adoptive parents don't have to try to cut each other down constantly and critize each other because it's not a one size fits all life. We all have our lives to live and we do the best we can with the life we're given. If that's what my children take from me, then I'll be thrilled.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I hate this, so I'm praying I don't do it

Why do some people feel the need to dwell on something and then go on and on to you and yet if you try to offer some consolation like they're not alone they just think they are? I'm talking about the ones that are going through something bad (I'm not talking death or massive illness) but a change or a bad day and if you try to express empathy by saying you've been there done that they don't want to hear you at all. These are also the same people that do this day in day out. Meaning they're not just venting because they've had a crappy day, they're venting on an almost daily basis that they've had a crappy month or year. And if there kid does something awesome your kid can't possibly be as good.

I just get so frustrated with this and I try not to get into conversations, at all, with these people, but sometimes it feels totally unavoidable. I guess I'm just hoping that I don't dwell on stuff in the first place, because mostly that's what I find annoying....listening to them rehashing the dwelled topic over and over and over again. Is it just their insecurity??

Sorry...I just had to finally vent because I'm tired of the know it alls of the world who think no one knows better than them about anything they know or any experience they have had. The whole world is wrong to these people. I get so tired of overly cocky people!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

What a downer

I'm going to be. I'm usually a thank God, I've got the best life, I'm so blessed kinda person and I still feel that way. In no way to I regret any portion of my life or choices made, but I'm just in a bad mood, tired and worn out.

The kids have gotten on our nerves this weekend. Jaemin's pretty much excused because, well, he's a 1 year old little boy. Need I say more as to why he tests and tests and tests us and is as loud as can be? The other 4 have done nothing but fight and whine and with the weather being what it is we can't get them out to expend energy. We're getting on each other's nerves too out of being tired, etc.

This is one of those days when you think God I could use a couple's vacation...not a date....a vacation and Calgon, please take me away for just a minute. I love 'em....all 6 of the people in this house, but I need some me with no stress. I can't even begin to figure out how or where that could happen, so buck up baby and get over it! Right?

Just needed to vent for once and now ya know this girl is normal and her life is far from perfect that can easily be portrayed in a little blog.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You Belong to Me

She really wanted to do a Taylor song this time.

blah, blah, blah.....


UGH.....does anyone listen to me. At work, I've been having issues with one of our contractors. I put everything in writing and then they ask a question where they could find the answer in the previously sent email.

At home, I have 5 that don't listen. A part of me just hopes that they are hearing me, just not necessarily listening to me and eventually when they really need to they will hear my voice in the back of their heads. I know I shouldn't preach and I'm not near as preachy as I used to be....mostly because I'm too tired to preach. Cole's grades are better....but I'm sure a grade will sneak in there that we're not prepared for and bomb what little's left. I'm always bracing for that with him becuase, well, that's how he rolls. We don't see any papers because he won't bring them home, so we're never really prepared. We're trying to pick our battles with him, so there is only so much we can get onto the 13 yo for.

Chase is now having trouble in math, but he and his teacher do not know why. He has 100%, so far, in every other class, but has been forgetting a couple of assignments lately. This is really not like him and he wants the money we pay for A semester grades. He may not make it if he doesn't straighten it out. Not sure how that will turn out.

Chelsi didn't listen tonight at all. When I picked her up, grandma had given her a lily to bring home. I told her to leave it on my console so it didn't get broken and when we got home I would put it in water. We got home and I started going through the big kids' papers and started warming the leftovers when I heard the door. She escaped out the door and was, apparently, on her way to put the flower in the garden. Not sure if she thought she was going to plant it or what. Meanwhile she's running around barefoot outside and I hate dirty feet inside, so we had to wash off. Yes, I have a phobia of nasty on the floor....especially with all of our allergies, etc.

Jaemin, well, he's only 1, so I expect him to ignore. Kaelin has, oddly enough, listened so far today. It's usually her that ignores the most. I don't think she does it on purpose all the time, but sometimes she really does.

AHHH....they're making me crazy. Thank God for leftovers creating a somewhat quick night....especially when dad's not home because he's out buying a boat!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Pleading for the case of sibling adoption in Korea

Another family has received the call for a sibling adoption in Korea.  This family, however, is aging out or has just aged out of the program.  The US agency is unsure if the ministry in Korea will grant this family a waiver for adoption of their child's sibling, so they asked them to find other sibling adoptive families to write on their behalf with our experiences.  I know that I'm kind of a wordy person, so I intentionally tried to keep it short to make my point and hopefully it worked.  We were more than happy to help this family though.  I can't imagine this being the 'something' in the way of these children joining each other.

Here is what I wrote:

"Members of the Korean Ministry:

We are an adoptive family in the United States to three Korean-born children; 5 children total.  In 2009, we were blessed to be able to adopt the brother to one of our Korean-born daughters.  I don’t think I could begin to stress enough how fortunate we feel to have this little boy in our lives and in the life of his biological sister.

JeeYung arrived to us in the United States in March 2006 and we received Jaemin in Korea in May 2009.  Whether adopted domestically or internationally adoptees lose biological ties via adoption.  Most of us take the things that go along with these ties for granted.  Our daughter and son may never know their Korean birth families, but they have something most adoptees do not have the luxury of.  Our son and daughter know their biological sibling and get to be raised together with a family who loves them dearly.  All five of our children are, no doubt, 100% siblings, but one day these two will have a link to the past and will be bonded through it.

We love Korea for the importance it has always seemed to place on this biological tie in adoption.  Keeping siblings together is an amazing gift that I can’t imagine any adoptee not being thankful for.  Jee Yung is only 4 years old, but she is very proud to know that her brother is here with her and she tells us this.  She loves her brother with everything she has.

I only speak for our family in saying that while JeeYung got her brother Jaemin; we all gained this beautiful little boy as well and will forever be grateful for our gift.  Please continue to place importance on this and embrace the positives that will forever be in the lives of these children if it is at all possible to take place.

Thank you."

My nightly visitor

Okay, it's not 'really''s 4-5 am.  I have a little boy who likes to come into my room to sleep with me.  Sometimes it's earlier, but most nights it's 3:30-4 that he originally comes in.  Sometimes I let him stay a bit if he seems like he may sleep and sometimes he tries to sleep in my bed, but isn't really that tired so he jabbers.  He never cries.  I put him to bed and eventually he stays there.  Sometimes, though, I pretend to keep sleeping thinking he will go back to bed.  That doesn't work either.  He will just stand there with his hands on my bed watching me, waiting for me to wake up.  It's really pretty darn cute, so you can never actually be upset with him.  But, this occurs about 5 times per week, so it is tiring, but I love him.

Tonight I put him in bed and told him I'd see him in the morning. I said "you're going to stay in bed tonight, right?"  He gave me an ornery look, through the light coming in the cracked door, and shook his whole body as he shook his head 'no'.  He's such a little stink!  He's such a jokester and the little stinker knows he's cute!

What am I going to do?


The season has started

They've already been a couple of times, but now that it's really getting nice the 3 big boys will be gone constantly.  As long as they eventually bring something home to eat it's alright.  Hey, we gotta keep our boys happy and when they go fishing, they stay happy!



This is Kae's 4th season in soccer.  She is so great!  We're taking it easy this time around, but she's still just enjoying it.  Plus this season (league) is with her classmates.  She IS tough on that field and, I know I've said it before, is natural!  If we never get soccer in school by high school, she will have had fun playing anyways.

Here are her fans.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

MMM...late snack

And no, I don't share.  Hey, it's the only time I can sit and savor something I really love.  Tonight's delight was king size Reese's peanut butter cups.  Bad mom, but my mom did it to us and I'm sure the tradition will continue on.



We have new pictures as of today.  The girls love modeling for me, so I get tons.  Chelsi had to go to the bathroom when I was finishing with the hanboks, so I thought she was done.  She came back when I was cleaning up and pouted until I got it back out for her.  :)  She is a MAJOR ham!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Been a little busy lately.  Friday we had our annual rummage sale and while we got rid of almost everything we came home with a few extras.  Of course, I always buy some new clothes for Kaelin there, but they also had their baby swing....we have our rummage sale at someone else's house with other families.  I traded something of ours for the swing.  Jaemin knew exactly what it was when it came through the door.  Since there never seems to be enough perfect days to go out and swing I asked Brian to get some hooks for the basement living room.  See, we never did finish our ceiling in half of the downstairs, so I figured he can just swing down there sometimes.  We can move it outside to the real swingset when it's nicer.  He LOVED swinging.  How many kids get to swing in the house??

Look at the joy in this face!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lost Mail?

I'm really hoping it's not lost, but I think it is.  Jaemin's foster sister emailed this week to check and see if we received the Christmas present they sent.  Oh no, it's April and we haven't received anything.  That really worries me.  I wonder what it was?  We would treasure anything from Korea.  I am still holding a little hope it shows up eventually or maybe they sent it through the agency and that's what has held it up.  But, I can't imagine they didn't send it directly to our address since they have it.  I so hope it went through the agency and they just haven't had time yet.  Most of us have all heard of the agencies not having time to send packages out right away and they can sometimes take months...this is what I'm hoping for.