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First of all, it takes a lot of time and energy to find a suitable property that has positive cash flow. My hubby and I just don’t have the time or drive to go house hunting right now with a new baby. My hubby simply thinks it is too much trouble. When we bought our house from his parents all he did was sign the final mortgage papers, and he thought that was too much trouble. I cannot imagine how annoyed he would be if we actually went on a house hunt and attended endless open houses. I am actually glad that we purchased the house he grew up in because that saved us a ton of time and gas in choosing a house (and probably saved us some arguments since I have seen how my parents bought their houses). Since our assets are combined, there is no point in investing in something that the hubby does not want to deal with.
Second, it takes quite a bit of cash to buy investment properties these days. We have very good credit, but there is little chance that we will beat out investors with full cash offers. I just don’t feel comfortable putting so much cash into a rental property because that would make our investments too heavy on real estate. It is never good to put all your eggs into one basket.
Basically, we are not really in a very good position to buy rental property now, but for some people that have a lot of time and money on their hands there are good deals out there since the real estate market tanked so much. I think these opportunities will stick around for at least a couple more years. The rental market has gone down in general, but many people are moving out of apartments and moving into single family homes because the rent price on single family homes have gone down. There are also a lot of people who were foreclosed on renting now, so it is still possible to rent out a property. The key is to do your research and find something with a positive rate of return, and don’t overextend yourself with too much financing.
Anyway, I don’t think my husband and I like being landlords because it involves collecting money from real people. It is great when you have a good, long term tenant, but when you . It is much easier to just collect interest from a bond or CD because it is a lot less personal. When you buy stocks and mutual funds you could lose money, but at least you won’t lose your life and your car won’t get keyed. Actual human beings are just too unpredictable of an investment.
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The most common question I get right now is, “are you ready yet?” Honestly, I don’t think anyone is ever ready for a real kid. You can read all the books you want and learn all about the process of conception, delivery, and breastfeeding, but when that little nugget pops out it is just a fairly unique experience for everyone. As to labor and delivery, I certainly have learned a lot from books and classes, but I haven’t experienced the pain so I cannot say that I am ready for that. The hubby’s aunt simply said to be flexible and don’t set your mind on any specific birth plan, because things can change. I totally agree with that, and I would not reject pain medication or a C Section if they are absolutely necessary. However, I definitely would like to avoid any surgery if possible.
We don’t really know what to expect after the kid is born besides that we will have to feed him and clean him a lot. One thing I am planning to do is to get a flexible spending account at work for dependent care and medical expenses in 2010. The reason for this is that babies go to doctors quite a bit in the first year, and also we will be paying for child care since both of us work. This is the cheapest way for us to pay for the expenses since the money is paid into the accounts before taxes. I will not go back to work until mid January, but the rest of the year still needs to be taken care of. Looking back, I should have probably funded my medical flexible spending account just a little this year, since I have spent around $400 on the entire pregnancy and I could have paid for that tax free and saved a little over $100. The only problem is that I had no idea how much money I would have needed this year for medical expenses. I also had no idea how many things a flexible spending account covers, so I intend to take full advantage of it next year. Anyway, I will probably write a full post on flexible spending accounts when I start using it.
For the most part, we are not that concerned about the extra expenses a baby brings. The only thing that worries me is that we might not be able to have as much time to spend with the kid as we like because we both work. I think having time to do whatever we want to do is one of my biggest motivations in wanting to “get out of the rat race” as soon as possible, and lately the hubby has come around to the same goal. He actually said to me, “you can never save too much! If we save more now we can retire early.” I am very proud of him and hopefully I can teach our baby to be smart with his money so he could be financially independent at a young age.
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Anyway, the hubby and I took several classes on preparing for childbirth and breastfeeding in the last few weeks at Kaiser. I think the classes really helped in letting us know what to expect at Kaiser and I was pretty reassured because they do promote a normal vaginal birth if it is possible. It was also good to know when to go to the hospital and what trouble signs to look for and the classes involved the dads quite a bit. We have asked our parents how they dealt with our births since we were both the oldest child for them, and to be honest they weren’t super helpful because we were both born in Asian countries decades ago and the procedures were pretty different. My mom just told me that it hurt a lot and she doesn’t remember much of it, and my dad said that he pedaled my mom to the hospital on a bike with a wagon. Apparently dads weren’t even allowed in the delivery room and he just remembers that he went home and boiled 8 eggs and brought them to my mom at the hospital after I was born. My parents also had extremely conflicting advice on what and how much to eat during the pregnancy so I am glad that there was more reliable health education at Kaiser. In general it seems that people love to give pregnant women advice, and a lot of the times it can be confusing and conflicting.
I am definitely getting more excited about the arrival of the baby now, but I also realize that our lives will change pretty drastically. In the breastfeeding class we were taught that the baby needs to be fed 8 to 12 times a day in the beginning because their stomachs are puny. That is definitely more work than I would have expected, but we will deal with it. The important thing is that we will have to work as a team. As to finances, I have been asked a few times by acquaintances if I will be a stay at home mom now that I have a kid. To be fair, most of these people do not know that I have a fairly well paying job. The fact of the matter is that we would have to live paycheck to paycheck if we were to live just on the hubby’s income right now, and even though many families do this I don’t feel like I would be comfortable living in that situation because that will definitely create more stress in our family. I make enough to justify paying for childcare after my leave is finished and our families may also be able to help out from time to time. Another thing is that we both want to retire early so it makes sense for me to keep my career and earn as much as possible right now. Some people may think that this is selfish, but I think our marriage is a bit more stable than some others’ just because we are both financially capable and we have never argued about something like not being able to pay a bill. I think a financially secure family environment is usually better for a child because a little kid shouldn’t have to share in the money problems of his parents. On the other hand, we will also make sure we don’t spoil our kid with stuff. We are hoping to perhaps have one of us work from home in a few years and move out of the Bay Area, but that is a long term plan. We have always wanted a kid, so we will make it work somehow. Our parents managed to raise us with very little means and send us to college so we should be able to do it too.
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First of all, a big thanks goes out to my inlaws since they gave us the gift of two nights hotel stay at the Westin St. Francis right at Union Square. This allowed us to take the BART to the City and stay there for the whole weekend. The hotel is old but very classy, and its glass elevators are quite fun to ride. Some other guests were actually just taking the elevator for fun and we actually encountered a line for the elevators.
Usually we like to splurge on food on special occasions, but this time we had to be somewhat careful because of my gestational diabetes. We decided to forgo the one gigantic expensive meal and just look for cheaper places and eat smaller portions. So before we left home we wrote down a list of cheap and moderate restaurants we could walk to.
On Friday night we arrived in our hotel at around 8:30, and then we rested a bit and went to This is a small French restaurant that features live jazz music every night. When we got there at 9:30 the whole place was packed, but we did have a reservation. For starters we ordered their escargot and we got a lovely little plate of six snails topped with small puff pastry that was soaked in butter and parsley. It was quite tasty and I think we wolfed them down a bit too fast. For the main course I had the coq au vin, which is a fairly traditional French dish of chicken cooked in a red wine stew. Cafe Claude’s version also had pearl onions, mushroom, and bacon bits. The chicken is stewed for hours until it is so tender that it falls off the bone. The scent of this dish was so lovely and rich that I kept on sniffing it. The hubby had an ahi dish with a bacon sauce. I only tried some of the bacon sauce and it seemed pretty good. The finally for dessert the hubby ordered a coconut flan, which I tried one small bite of, and it was quite delicious. The whole meal was around $70, but it was definitely worth it. After dinner we walked to the Metreon and watched the last showing of District 9. We haven’t seen a movie in the theatres for a while because of Netflix, but we did manage to get $7.00 off on the tickets with some Entertainment Book coupons.
On Saturday we headed over to the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park to see the special King Tut exhibition. We got there at around 11:00 and the tickets were sold out until 12:30, so we started to walk around the other exhibits. The hubby liked a lot of the modern art being exhibited. One particularly interesting piece is called by sculptor Al Farrow. This is a medieval church made out of hundreds of disassembled guns and bullets.
Finally we got to the King Tut exhibit and saw some of the treasures from the tomb. What really surprised me about the special Tut exhibit is that a lot of treasures were made out of wood, but they lasted for thousands of years. I was also quite amazed by the craftsmanship on a lot of the objects exhibited. It took us over an hour to see all the galleries, and then we were too tired to see the rest of the museum. The cool thing about the de Young is that it is on the Bank of America’s program, so we could go back and see the rest for free on select weekends.
On Saturday afternoon we headed over to the Mission district for a street food festival. By the time we got there a lot of things were sold out, and there were so many people in the lines for each booth that it was hard to figure out where to stand. We were really hungry so we sort of gave up and went to a nearby restaurant and had some Mexican food. The next few stops were on the hubby’s list because he saw the restaurants on a video game webshow. First there is this interesting ice cream shop called that serves ice cream flavors such as Salt and Pepper, and Foie Gras. There was a pretty long line that almost went around the block when we got there. When we finally got to the front of the line I sampled a Thai Chili Lime flavor ice cream and something called Secret Breakfast, which is bourbon and cornflakes flavored ice cream. The Thai Chili Lime flavor was pretty darn bizarre and it made me wince a bit. Finally the hubby settled on one scoop of Vietnamese Coffee and one scoop of Secret Breakfast. I ate a couple spoons of his ice cream instead of getting my own since I didn’t want to spike my blood sugar. Next we walked to , which the hubby has been raving about because he wanted to try their bacon donuts. Unfortunately, it was already closed, so we headed back to our hotel. After napping for a few hours after the 6 hours of urban hiking, we ended the night with some cheap Thai food at , which is a cheap but very flavorful Thai restaurant tucked in the Parc 55 Hotel. I had some basil duck here, and it was quite good.
The next day we checked out of the hotel and headed home, but we made a stop at the Mission district because the hubby really wanted to try Dynamo Donuts, and I saw tons of beautiful murals in that neighborhood the day before and I wanted some pictures. Apparently the Mission district is quite famous for the hundreds of murals inside it, and we had no idea. It is about a six block walk from the 24th and Mission BART station to Dynamo Donuts, so we walked and took pictures along the way. One particularly decorated alley is called Balmy Alley, and this contained the mural of a woman giving birth and also a really detailed mural by Sirron Norris depicting a robot like being composed of Victorian houses called Victorion. The following pictures were taken by the hubby:
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The whole neighborhood is full of these murals and it really makes the walk interesting because it is truly like a giant modern art gallery, but at the same time these murals are the complete opposite of the idea that fine art should be privately collected and displayed in locked up, temperature controlled rooms. I truly loved how expressive and free they are. Finally we reached Dynamo and the hubby got the bacon donut he has been talking about for a week and I ate half of it. It was small, but quite good. Before going back to the BART station we stopped at , which is another locale the hubby saw on the video game show. There was quite a crowd there already and we had to wait a bit to get a table. I had some eggs with vegan chorizo there and the chorizo tasted and looked just like real chorizo. The hubby had a full order of The Nebulous Potato Thing, which looked like a giant potato hash with a bunch of stuff in it. He actually couldn’t finish the whole thing because it was so big. After that meal, we walked back to the BART and headed home.
In conclusion, we thoroughly enjoyed our last weekend trip before the baby arrives, and my blood sugar levels were actually in a good range the entire weekend because I walked so much. My legs were sore for two days afterward. I have lived in the Bay Area for 12 years now, but I really do not go to San Francisco very much, and this weekend I definitely experienced some new things in the City. My favorite part was actually seeing all the different murals because that was the only place we went to that was not crowded and full of people. We did not see all of the murals since we just went down one street, and many of them are so intricate that you could just stare at one for quite a while. If you ever visit San Francisco I highly recommend seeing these murals at least once, and the great thing about them is that they don’t cost anything to see. All you have to do is to take a Muni or BART to the Mission district and start walking.
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