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:: Weekends :: Jonas

Our first snow accumulation of the season turned out to be quite a big deal! We woke up to deserted, snow covered streets on Saturday morning and a travel ban in effect. I didn’t think we were going to get more than half a foot given the non-event in 2015 (when everything was shut but there was very little accumulation)!

Well snow = fun = I-get-some-me-time-while-fun-parent-plays-with-kids. Unfortunately things didn’t go the way I wanted.


Ava hated the snow! 

Ready to roll

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“Get me away from here!”

I had to go rescue her after 10 minutes. Clover is a whole different story! This girl would stay out all day if we let her.

“Ma I lost my mitten!”

  

Around 11am, over a foot of snow had fallen

This was at 4pm, I think we have at least 20 inches

These two headed out around 4pm and stayed outside in the snow for the next 1.5 hours. Pretty sure our neighbours think they are nuts!

:: Career ::  Moving On Up

Guess who is now officially a VP in a tier-1  bank?

 

Celebratory drink (first of many)

Comp(ensation) Day was Thursday. It was also when the promotions were announced. While it’s not MD or Partner nor my job scope changing drastically, it is still an achievement; a culmination of a very hard year’s work.

Various people who went through the promotion process with the firm told me if you can make it in our firm, you can make it anywhere and that success would taste so much sweeter. Admittedly, at some point in the process I felt it was lip service, some management kool aid. After 12 grueling months, I made it across the line. As cliché as it sounds, people were right.

Success is a combination of abilities, being at the right place, timing and support (sponsors). I am not going to lie, there were sweat and tears (and almost blood when I did feel like throttling someone). I cried at work for the first time* in 9 years of professional life. It was a period of upheaval, loss, stress and a lack of leadership and guidance. It was probably the hardest 3 months I have faced. Thankfully there were people who believed in me (thank you long-suffering husband!), who worked really hard for me and who put their reputation on the line for me. Words cannot express my gratitude.

I have grown, I have stepped up, I led and I learned to ask for help. There is still work ahead as I continue to work toward being a better person, a greater leader.

For now, I celebrate.

*I did almost cry the first year I went into banking when I missed the quarter end cut off to release almost $1,000,000 worth of adjustment; my trader had to file a P&L mis-statement incident but they still love me anyway. Well at least they didn’t fire me!

:: Editorial :: Oh 2015!

Where do I even start?

It has been a hard year; personally and professionally. Life is a journey yes but there are always winners and losers. And I don’t know if I won.

Perhaps one day I will look back at it and appreciate it far more than I do today.

A very intelligent man reminded me that “the cream always rises to the top”. I should trust that. I must believe that.

:: Life :: October 31st 2015

We are SIX baby! 

On our wedding day

On our wedding day

Wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else!

50 lbs heavier!

50 lbs heavier!

Here we go again. Despite what I said about staying put for a few years after we bought our first apartment, we are on the move again (8 blocks up the road!!). This time I’m not saying anything about not moving because if  we don’t leave the US, the Burbs is in the horizon (2018).

It’s scary looking at the next number of boxes we have during the move. Do we really need all these stuff? It’s hard not to succumb to advertising, social media and sales mailer. Much harder in the States with free returns and shipping.

Read this the other day. I’m inspired. While I won’t be attempting something as drastic, I’m going to limit my clothes and shoes purchases.

I have embarked on this; we were at Woodbury over the holiday weekend, I turned down Mr. P’s offer of a new pair of amazing Chloe booties (marked down to 65 from 500). Can you imagine a shoe-aholic like me turning down comfy, full leather black booties? Mr. P did ask if I was ill.

I have TWO pairs of brand new Louboutin booties sitting in the closet there’s no reason for the purchase. And if I am to teach my kids not to spend frivolously, I need to lead by example no?

On the dresses front, it’s going to be more difficult. I love me some Kate Spade and Club Monaco. But God was helping; the KS outlet (60% off store wide) had NOTHING. This is the first time when I had absolutely nothing to buy in KS!

And just the other day I received $60 sending items that no longer fit or I-don’t-know-why-I-ever-bought-it to ThredUp. This will be my new dresses money.

I suppose what I want t achieve for the second half of the year is to be more mindful of buying stuff; spending only on necessity and experiences (travel, activities).
Kids, they don’t need stuff. What they need is our time, being outdoors (hello apple picking) and physical activities.

And maybe we can buy a 3rd place for rental. Here’s to building a property portfolio!

Change is the only constant or so they say. Less than two years at our current place, we are moving (yet again) in two weeks! This time undertaking such an endeavour with TWO kids in tow. (Have I used enough twos in a paragraph yet?) Crazy huh?

No, we are not off to the Burbs, well not for another 2-3 years anyway. Earlier in the year Mr. P and I revisited the Burbs idea; we spent (too many) weekends out in the usual commuting towns checking out open houses.

There was a NYTimes article on the cost effectiveness of moving out to the Burbs. The bottom line: it makes financial sense if you have at least 2 school age children. Herein lies our challenge; Ava is not. While infant care is  ($3-500) cheaper out in Timbaktu the Burbs, real estate taxes* are also higher.

*I think about RE taxes as an offset to school fees. I don’t quite mind higher taxes if the public school system is good.
Then there’s the dilemma of downtown versus quality of schools. I love Montclair and Maplewood, not so much their school system. (I don’t care what everyone says about the lack of creativity in Singapore’s curriculum, I enjoyed my childhood and schools I went to.)

Back to the drawing board. Should we sell our 2 bed / 2 bath apartment and stump up the cash for a 3 bed? Should we buy a 1 bed for rental and maybe even a weekend place up in the Catskills?

In the end we bought another 2 bed / 2 bath 8 blocks north of where we are! We closed on Tuesday but will only take possession next week because of a sale and lease back agreement with the seller.

(New) home sweet home

The new apartment will be our primary residence. We are on the top floor, there’s a skylight above the open kitchen and many windows. It has a handicapped parking spot right next to the lift, a gym, a resident lounge and a courtyard in the middle of the building. It is also uptown, closer to the supermarket and the beer garden.

The even better news was leasing our current place two days after listing. We had multiple applications! The rent covers mortgage, interest and HOA fees. Could we have gotten a couple of hundreds more? Possibly. Would we have to wait longer for a tenant? Maybe. The tenants are a professional couple with an 8 month old baby girl; I don’t even have to repaint the girls’ room to a neutral palette! Win-win!

:: Life :: Choices

I have life-choice envy. There I said it. It’s not jealously; more of an “I wish”.

One of my best girlfriends recently finished her EMBA course. I am extremely proud of her; completing this journey that we once dreamed of by the pool bar in Bintan Lagoon Resort a decade ago. I suppose dreams do come through if you put your mind to it.

I had have a similar dream to pursue higher education. That is now shelved indefinitely. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, raising two kids in the states with no family means a lack of resources – money and time. This is what economists call opportunity cost. The best kind of friends encourage one another to do more, to do better. My girlfriend told me that the some of the inspiring women in her EMBA class came back to school after their kids are older and it is never be too late. I certainly hope that is applicable to me.

I always thought I would be the last to get married among my friends. I am never the kind of girl who felt my life would be incomplete without children. I still don’t. It sounds like lip service since I now have two of my own, but it is the truth. Do I love them? Of course but these feelings are not mutually exclusive.

Life happened. I met someone who is amazing, that I can live with and cannot live without. My love for him resulted in two adorable (and infuriating) bundles of noise. They are so, so fortunate to have him for a father. He loves me, warts, strops and all.

I’ve made my bed…

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