Sunday, September 25, 2016

Passing on TAPO Spirit

     If you know me, I take promises very very seriously and I despise empty promises, broken promises, forgotten promises...Very often, instead of giving a definite promise, I would rather say 'I can't promise that, but I will think about it'.
     Last year while I was on bed-rest with twins inside me, I had promised to Elisha that I would join her to Aquatica & SeaWorld 'sometime after twins are born'. CJ & Elisha have annual passes (they got their passes when they were for BOGO sale!), but I don't. However, a few times a year, annual pass holders get a chance to 'bring a friend' for free. This month we received a day pass for both Aquatica & SeaWorld, and I was on a mission to fulfill the promises I had made.
     Last weekend, we all went to Aquatica and enjoyed a beautiful, not-so-crowded day. I got some mosquito bites, but the trip made twins very tired and they slept a lot for the next two days. Best of all, it felt so~ good to finally keep my promise.
     Yesterday was SeaWorld day, and Elisha and I made a late afternoon trip. We arrived there around 4pm, and soon we were met with thunders with dark, heavy clouds over our heads. We were told that all the shows were cancelled due to the weather, and we had no choice but to leave....BUT I really wanted to honor the promise I had made to Elisha last year, and decided to talk to the guest service if it's possible for me to get a day pass to come back another day.
     When we arrived at the guest service, there was a long~ line of people and it was very hot and humid out there. In addition, Elisha thought it was nonsense to ask for another free pass. For a brief moment, I thought about turning around to go home, but then I realized it was a great teachable moment. It was a chance to teach Elisha the TAPO spirit: tenacious, assertive, persistent, obnoxiously patient spirit.
     After a long wait, I was able to talk to a staff at the guest service. In Elisha's presence, with respect and clarity, I explained the situation and made a request for another day pass, and guess what!? They gave me a rain day pass which I can use sometime within a year! Elisha was super surprised. Was she proud of mama? Yes! Did I set a good example for her? Yes! Would I be able to fulfill my promise on a cooler day? Yes!


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Put Your Money to Work

Image result for put your money to work
     With such a low interest rate, it feels so lame to let the money just sit in the checking or savings account. I want to see my money go around the town and bring in more its kind.
     This past summer, CJ & I put our money to work, and the outcome is quite significant. Chase bank offered $300 for $500 direct deposit every month. We need to keep this minimum 6 months. Citi Bank offered $400 for keeping $15,000 balance for the 1st month and $10,000 for the next two months. Both CJ & I took advantage of these offers, which means we made $1,400.
     We just found out that HSBC is offering $350 for keeping a balance of $1500 for 6 months, and both of us plan to take advantage of this as well.
    Having extra 6 bank accounts can be overwhelming, so we plan to close them whenever the minimum time requirements are fulfilled. In order to keep things organized and to remind us when we are going to close those accounts, CJ put the dates on the google calendar.

     Where do we get these information? From here.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Mother's Helper

     A mother's helper is different from a babysitter. Babysitters are expected to work independently and often to work in the absence of the parents of the child/children. A mother's helper is rather expected to provide an extra pair of hands to a busy mom, and she works with/alongside the mother. It's a great concept for a person like me who is reluctant to leave kids with another person other than my husband.
     With twins, we hired a mother's helper. Sophia stayed with us for the first two months. She was referred to us by someone at our church. She is 13 years old and is one of the 11 children in her family, bringing a lot of experience taking care of her younger siblings. She worked 5 hours a day for 6 days each week, and we paid $200 per week.
     Her work included feeding babies, changing diapers, washing and sanitizing bottles, folding laundry. During the first two months, twins slept most of the day, so Sophia also took Elisha outside for half an hour each day to fetch mails or to walk to the playground. She was free to read books or study when there was nothing to do. I left kids with Sophia once a week for an hour so that I could see my physical therapist, but CJ and I have never left kids with her for an extended amount of time.
     After Sophia left us due to her family's busy schedule, we hired another homeschooled girl, Mercy. She comes 3 days a week for 5 hours each time, and we pay $100 per week. Now that twins do not have to be fed so often, she spends the extra time to help Elisha with her memory work for Classical Conversations. Also, she just started teaching Elisha violin whenever her hands are free.
     Before we hired Mercy, I had interviewed several other girls. One of the biggest challenges was to find someone who will set a good example for Elisha who is very observant. So the one who showed up with not much clothes on, another 13-year-old girl who was wearing lots and lots of makeup, and a 14-year-old girl who watches TV until 4am...they did not get the job. Oh, and the high school senior who we test-hired for a week, just because she was referred to us by someone in our homeschool coop...I had to ask her to stop coming because she was on her smartphone ALL the time. As you see, there was quite a drama until we found Mercy.
     For pay-wise, we are paying more than the going rate in and around our neighborhood. However, both CJ and I think it's a fair rate considering the peace and rest our family gets to enjoy by having Mercy.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Back to work after 7 years of staying home!

     The last time I had gotten a paycheck was January 2010, and right after that last check, CJ and I moved to Seoul, Korea for CJ's job with US Army Corps of Engineers. So, it has been a little over six and a half years since I was a part of the US workforce.
     I am now back to work...I mean back into an official payroll system. It has been two weeks since I started teaching ESL classes at Alamo Colleges' Palo Alto campus. With three kids taking up my mind and body most of the day, I did not have much time to ponder about what it would be like to go back to work after so many years. I just had to jump in. There was no moment to enjoy that nervousness, excitement, and the kind of feelings people usually experience in situations like this.
     I am having fun teaching my hardworking students, who come to 6pm-9pm classes three times a week after a long day at work. I respect them, and I want to contribute to their growth and success.
     Considering how much time I spend to prepare lessons, the hourly rate is pretty small, but I am thankful that I can close up the six and a half year gap in my work history. Also, it is enough to pay the mother's helper who helps me and CJ on the days when I work. Also, CJ says this will help with my social security paycheck later on.


Curriculum Update as of September 2016

     Classical Conversations Cycle 2 is starting in a few days. During this past Summer, Elisha and I spent at least one and a half hours each weekday reviewing what she had learned during Cycle 1. It was a way for me to spend a quality time with Elisha, and Elisha finished notebooking geography (two times!), history (two times!), English, Latin, Science.
     Right now, we are doing two math lessons 4 days a week and about two lessons of Grapevine bible study each week. Mercy, a 14-year-old homeschooled girl who works as a mother's helper for us has been teaching Elisha violin, and I am hoping to start teaching Elisha piano soon. Also, today was our first day of meeting up with a Spanish-speaking family to learn Spanish (I will write more about this later).

Here are the curriculum we are using as of September 2016.

1. Math - Saxon Math 2
2. Phonics, Reading - All About Reading III
3. Spelling - All About Spelling II
4. Spanish - Language exchange
5. Science - Nancy Larson Science 2
6. Bible - Grapevine's Stick Figure Through the Bible
7. Classical Conversations - Notebooking for each of these subjects: History, Math, Science, Latin, Geography, Fine Arts, English
8. Cursive - Elisha has fallen in love with cursive writing this past Summer. Praise God! We will continue to incorporate cursive handwriting practice into her notebooking time.
9. World History - Continue with Story of the World audiobooks
10. Classical Music Appreciation - Classical Kids (It is a collection of CDs)