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September Wrap-up

October 15, 2019

Net Worth and Money News

T’s summer salary was still not fully resolved in September, despite being told that it would be. He is still missing about $8k, which they have promised will arrive soon.  Irritating, but not a catastrophe.

Our net worth creeped up another percent or so.

Monthly savings rates aren’t sensible for how our expenses and income fall out, but we appear to be on track for about a 50% savings rate this year, better if I include regular mortgage principle.  I made it confusing by setting us up for a large-ish tax refund again. This wasn’t on purpose. T’s summer salary makes it harder to predict withholdings.  This savings rate is pretty much what I anticipated it would be with a kid in daycare, which is a very satisfying result.  I can predict the future!

Spending Bullets (excluding childcare, mortgage, property taxes and car/home insurance – because I want to):

Monthly spend (excluding some major categories as noted above): $3,007
Highest single transaction that hasn’t been featured in a previous 2019 month: $121.80, which was our power/gas bill for the month. This is a bit high for a summer month, but I didn’t find an obvious culprit. We are temporarily running an extra freezer, so maybe that has something to do with it?
Smallest single transaction: $0.69 at Target. I had to exchange some gifted baby clothes for proper sizes.  I also grabbed a few groceries, and came out the door for less than a dollar.  Score!
Most annoying expense: Nothing this month.  Or maybe it was my non-expense. I completely failed to send gifts for the two September birthday’s on time, my dad and my nephew. This is a recurring thing, I’m always late on these, and I really just can’t convince myself to prioritize it.
Expense that brought the most joy or utility: $250.18 for a Nugget for Camille.  Yeah, I know, this is ridiculous.  Still, it seemed like it will have a longer useful life compared to the small kids chair I was considering, and it fits well in her room.
Donations (for accountability): $200 total to Donors Choose and ALS (supporting a coworker’s fundraiser).

Our monthly grocery spend was kind of absurd again, and I’m not sure why, and if I should do anything about it….

House Projects

T added some flashing to the deck that should have been there all along, preventing future rot/damage.  He also scraped and repainted the trim on the exterior windows.  There also was some basic maintenance yard work.

Work

My new project is started to kick into gear, and I am BUSY.  The project is fun, although I’m struggling to be smart enough to do my job. Some of the technical details are a in a slightly new area for me, and I feel out of my depth.  But, I’m sure I’ll be able to come up to speed – I just have to keep at it.

My “merit” raise is 4%, beating inflation at least.  I need to figure out, with my manager, when the best time to submit my paperwork for a promotional raise.

We’re still waiting on the result of T’s tenure case, which is due any day now – but could still be months. We’re optimistic about the outcome, but we don’t know until we know.

Other life stuff

We finally set the lawyer appointment, and are hoping to make enough progress on our estate planning / will / trust that we can forgo the legal insurance plan next year.

Not much else to share here!  More to come next month!

Parenthood: 11 months

September 24, 2019

Personality / Milestones

LO is speed crawling, pulling up, and doing a little bit of unassisted standing. She has learned to clap on verbal command, and wave hello and goodbye.  She loves playing peek-a-boo.  She loves banging together blocks and chasing balls, and grabbing any household items that are not toys.  Cords are especially appealing.  Books are pretty good, if we can get her to sit still.  She has finally stopped putting them in her mouth immediately, although still not completely.

We keep most of the toys in the nursery and play with her in there a lot , but she’s become less content hanging out there. She loves heading for the door and exploring the rest of the house whenever we give her the opportunity, despite the lack of toys.  She (finally!) likes baths, but is pretty wild in the tub and doesn’t understand you aren’t supposed to try to crawl all around and check out all the interesting metal things at at the end.

Separation anxiety is there a little bit, but not too bad. Sometimes she’ll be happily playing, but if I walk by and don’t interact, it sets off crying.  Other times, not so much.

Childcare

Daycare is going really well. They have all the cool development toys / activities there, and she really likes playing with the other babies.  In the first month, we got many comments in this vein: “She’s very active. Is she so active at home?” and “She plays a LOT!” and “She had fun speed crawling around the play yard today” and “These two are the zany ones!”  She had about 4 or 5 weeks where she got an “ouch report” every week, but has seemed to learn how to balance better and fall more gracefully.

She got another runny nose and a cough this month, but the cold wasn’t severe enough to keep her home. She kindly shared this cold with her parents.

We’re still sharing drop off and pick up with T generally working from home for half a day when possible to walk the dog / keep him company.

Eating

We’ve made lots of progress on table food and have a variety of things she can easily self feed.  We don’t always give her exactly what we eat, but we are moving in that direction.   Her current favorite food is cheese.  I approve of this. I’m not quite sure how we get from food + bottles to mostly food + some cow’s milk… but I suppose we’ll figure it out.

I’m still super looking forward to stopping pumping, but it has gotten to be less of a big deal since we started adding formula. It seems LO has dropped her middle of the night meal (I hope this sticks!), and is now nursing at wake up, before bed and has 2-3 bottles during the work day.

Routines & Sleep

She is taking her two naps, which are still short at daycare (30-50 minutes) but good at home (1.5+ hours).  Weeknight bedtime has to be by 7, or we have a melt down.  On weekends, we shoot for 7:30 or so, depending on the nap schedule.  She wakes up around 6 or 7, depending on a variety of factors. (By “variety of factors” I mean that I have no idea why she sometimes wakes up early and other time sleeps until 7 am).

She’s just now started regularly sleeping through the night, although it isn’t 100% of the time.  I hope it isn’t just because she has a cold and that this is officially a new stage.

Money

We sold the pram bassinet attachment for our stroller for $100. That was the only things I ended up buying brand new (with coupon) at significant cost, yet hardly used at all. Whenever we tried it, LO woke up and started screaming instead of sleeping blissfully like I’d envisioned.  We just didn’t use the stroller all that much in the early days, preferring to keep her home when possible and in the baby carrier when she was sleeping.  (She only started tolerating the baby carrier when awake around 4 months of age.)

We bought a Nugget, a few small toys, and some clothes for the next size from Target (new) and Swap.com (used).  My supply of free baby clothes seems to have dried up for the moment.  I bought a used second hand warm sleep sack for the coming winter months for $10, which we’ll use in addition to her wool sleep sack that should last all winter. Last winter we kept the thermostat higher than usual. We still may need to do fleece pajamas, but we’ll see.

Co-parenting

Regularly sleeping through the night seems to be a game changer for me feeling like a person. So, that is a plus!  Nothing much new to say here.

August Wrap Up

September 16, 2019

Net Worth and Money News

Our net worth went up just a sliver this month.

For reasons unknown, T was paid a mysterious amount in summer salary that is uncorrelated to anything, and much lower than it should have been.  HR and Payroll are working on fixing that, but only after he contacted them to ask what was going on.

I spent a fair amount of time staring at our finance spreadsheet and wishing for the numbers to be higher. This is usually a sign of frustration with some other aspect of my life, but I can’t point to anything specific.

I would like to see data that shows federal taxes paid compared to Gross Income.  This data is available (I think) compared to Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)… but I’m interested in how much income ends up being sheltered from taxes for wealthy vs non-wealthy Americans.  This came up in my mind when I noted how much income we are able to shelter from taxes.  It seems unfair.

Spending Bullets (excluding childcare, mortgage, property taxes and car/home insurance – because I want to):

  • Monthly spend (excluding some major categories as noted above):  $2600
  • Highest single transaction that hasn’t been featured in a previous 2019 month: $338.04 for several months of a water bill, plus an extra fee that typical is on our property tax bill but was missed last year.
  • Smallest single transaction:  $3.33 for 8 jars of Yumi baby food due to a free intro trial.  LO mostly liked them, but they ares super expensive regular price, and she’s really moving beyond purees.
  • Most annoying expense:  Nothing in particular, but we did pay All The Insurances this month (home, earthquake, umbrella), which was a lot
  • Expense that brought the most joy or utility: Nothing in particular except daycare.  That was a great utility!
  • Donations (for accountability):  $200 to RAICES, again.

House Projects

Minor work on the yard continued.  We’ve been discussing a new roof, but are still waiting on the tenure decision, which is delayed due to bureaucracy.  We hope to hear this fall.

We got a new rug for the living room to replace the shag rug that was impossible to clean and also had two recent incidents of damage.  The Roomba can handle the new rug, which is a fantastic and a new requirement for any future rugs. Despite initially authorizing a budget of around $1k for a large area rug, I encouraged T to saticfice and get a lower priced rug, rather than buying a nice rug that he’d take forever to select. We really don’t need to buy a forever rug when we have an almost-one-year-old baby.

Work

I was creating a budget for a  proposed project, and noted another engineer with a similar job as me got a significant raise since I last noted his salary.  He now makes what I make, despite being 5 years less experienced. He may be just as good / valuable at his job as I am at mine –  yet it still bothered me.

We had performance reviews, and I “only” got a rating of 4 out of 5 (5 being the best). My manager offered me an opportunity to argue for a 5, but I couldn’t really do it with a straight face this year. The good part is, we plan to work on my promotion once I’ve put in a little time on this new project, and the raise I get from that will overshadow the 2-5% raise that is based on these ratings.  So, yay.

Other life stuff

I ended up not wrapping up this entry until over half way into September, so I can’t really remember what else to write about in August.  T was scheduled for a trip to Hong Kong, but ultimately ended up canceling because of the ongoing protests that occasionally were disrupting the airport.  We finished our last week of nanny share (it feels like a lifetime ago already!), paid out her accumulated vacation leave, and made it through the daycare transition.  Summer is winding down to a close, although it is still very much wild fire season and we need to be working on our emergency plans.  Fall is coming, and there are a lot of birthdays in the next few months.  Maybe I’ll be on top of gift giving?  Probably not.

Parenthood: 10 months

September 2, 2019

I’m switching up the order this month, as sleep has ceased to become the Most Important Baby Fact.  🙂

Personality / Milestones

She is SO mobile right now with her crawling!  She started pulling up a lot too.  She’s also very giggly and fun to play with.  So adorable.  Such a fun age.

Childcare

Daycare has started and I am LOVING it.  The environment is so good for her, and her teachers are amaaaaazing.  She also mostly loves it, is very social with the other babies.  She registers her protest by crying briefly when we hand her to the teacher, but stops crying within a few seconds.  The teachers say she is doing great, and told us “she is an amazing person.”  My heart about exploded.  She did get sick after the first week, but it was really just one day of bad sickness followed by a few days of mild runny nose. She’s also not sleeping well.  :/

T’s teaching hasn’t started yet, so his schedule remained pretty flexible. We’re generally sharing drop off and pick up, and T’s still walking the dog during the day after working from home a half day. This will have to shift as the school year starts.

Eating

Real people food is progressing.  She does great with thick purees, and is OK with certain finger foods.  We’re trying to do more and more self-fed table food, but also still purees to fill her up more quickly.   She eats 3 “meals” of solids, plus a snack and bottles.  She loves fruit, but also has been pretty good about eating a little bit of everything I feed her.  Daycare provides a variety of nutritious food, which simplifies life – no packing lunch for her!

Pumping is going okay and I haven’t ramped down yet… but it is coming.  Nursing is going fine as well, although I’ve started adding formula on the weekends.  LO is still nursing three times a day (at wake up, before bed, and once overnight), with 3 bottles during the work day.

Routines & Sleep

She’s still doing a good (~90 minute) morning and afternoon nap when she’s at home, but her naps at daycare are quite short.  The environment is too stimulating, so once a sleep cycle ends, she gets up to play.  Thus, she ends up silly-tired by bedtime, even if we move it earlier.  Often, she wants to wake up quite early in the morning no matter what bedtime.  It seems apparent she isn’t getting enough sleep during the week, but I don’t know how to fix that.  We can’t put her to bed even earlier – she’ll only sleep so many hours in a night anyway.

I’ve reverted to nursing to sleep for naps, which probably isn’t helping daycare naps out.  But I can’t bear to hear her cry, and we haven’t been able to hit those magic “wake times” that allow her to go down for her nap happily (probably because she is overtired).  She HATES being rocked to sleep or any other method.  The only things that have worked (aside from newborn days) are nursing or letting her fuss or (sometimes) the stroller.  (I’m OK with fussing, but true crying is too hard.)  We may want to sleep train at some point – but I’m not ready yet. It is a developmentally poor time for it, with separation anxiety and starting daycare.  I’m hopeful this will resolve itself over time, like many baby problems seem to.

She still wakes up once in the night to eat, which is generally OK but is getting old.  Occasionally, she sleeps through.  Sometimes she wakes up more, which is harder to handle.  Again, I might try to night wean after age one.  I’m trying to keep my milk supply going at least until then, and night nursing helps.

Money

Daycare is slightly cheaper than the nanny share – hooray!

We sold the nanny share double stroller for $200!  I think we paid $225?

I am thinking of buying a Nugget very soon.  The glider in her nursery needs to move out to make the room more baby safe, but I need somewhere for us to read together and nurse. It’s expensive for what it is, though…

I got a free push walker from my buy nothing group, but LO is not quite ready for it.  I also got a free shape sorter, but she just bangs the shapes together.

Co-parenting

Things were pretty transient this month, so I don’t have a good sense for it.  I think it was mostly equal this month.

A few links with a feminist theme

August 29, 2019

What would you do with a shorter work week? This article starts with a claim that data shows that, as a society, people play more video games and drink more. I wonder how robust that data set is?  The two linked articles talk specifically about unemployment rather than a scenario where hours are simply reduced.   The article goes on to talk about a shorter work week  freeing up time for the copious amounts of unpaid care taking work that people (primarily women) are already doing, in addition to true leisure time.  It also talks about people needing to separate their identity from work, something often discussed in the FIRE community.

Women Are Not Better at Multitasking. They Just Do More Work, Studies Show  The title is pretty self explanatory, and I agree with this.

This is an interesting article (warning: NYT paywall!) discussing why the US is resistant to the idea of subsidized childcare (hint:  shouldn’t the moms just take care of the babies?). Though both parents work in two-thirds of American families, most Americans still say it’s not ideal for children to have two working parents.  Even as someone with a young child, the feeling that it is not the government’s responsibility to help care for my child is deeply ingrained.  The current set up results in incredibly unequal starts for our youngest citizens. We are extremely fortunate that we can pay for high quality child care while still saving money for other goals. This came at a cost (and risk) of waiting until our careers and finances were quite established before feeling confident enough to start a family. I also firmly believe my LO is more enriched by going to daycare than she would be if my husband or I were 100% responsible for her development.

Nike and other brands “pause” sponsored athletes’ contracts when they are pregnant until they return to competition…. meaning they stop paying them.  In some cases, they even continue to “promote” the athlete, asking Kara Goucher to do upwards of 20 appearances during her pregnancy, before suddenly not paying her without discussion.  All while producing awesome marketing videos supporting women! Par for the course as far as maternity leave goes in the US…  People regularly comment on how long they “get off” for maternity leave, but it is less common for people to detail how much of that time they are paid for. And if they are paid, is it true maternity leave pay or are they just using vacation / sick time to cover? California is ahead of the game, but many (like myself) are not covered by this program.

July Wrap Up

August 8, 2019

Net Worth and Money News

A small increase in net worth again.

We are at 70% FI, excluding the mortgage and childcare.  We’re at about 50% FI including the mortgage, but without realistic health care assumptions. To calculate that, I just added the mortgage balance to our FI number, rather than adding the mortgage payment (since the mortgage goes away eventually).  We currently have enough home equity to buy a place outright in much of the United States, but a long way to go here.

These are all on the optimistic side, as we are possibly at a market peak and I don’t have a good handle on how to estimate health care.

I don’t know what this all means. The main points are 1) We are in a position that I won’t have to make difficult career choices (e.g. mega commute) to bring in my income, and I can talk myself out of being too anxious when my job feels insecure. With the new project, I have a job guaranteed for about another year – then we’ll see. 2) We have a long way to go, unless we move somewhere else. The immediate action is to continue to make hay while the sun shines.

Spending Bullets (excluding childcare, mortgage, property taxes and car/home/etc. insurance – because I want to):

  • Monthly spend (excluding some major categories as noted above):  $3,923, the highest month of the year so far.
  • Highest single transaction that hasn’t been featured in a previous 2019 month: $1,186.46 for pallets of rock for T’s landscaping project
  • Smallest single transaction:  $1.38 for some printed photos
  • Most annoying expense:  $79.60 for Plated, which I forgot to cancel in time after my free trial. The meals are good, but I just don’t think it is worth it.
  • Expense that brought the most joy or utility: $22.40 for flights for the holidays, bought with a truck load of miles.
  • Donations (for accountability):  $0.  Will need to make up for it in August.  I’m thinking RAICES again, but also, how can I stop these mass shootings???

House Projects

We got another delivery of 4 pallets of rocks.  When I asked T to replace the horrible juniper hedges with something (ANYTHING!), I somehow infected him with a landscaping virus.  He can’t stop fixing our yard.  The rocks are making their way to various places in our yard.  Thank you T!

Work

My exciting new project is off to a slow start as we wait for things to get ramped up / money to come in.  We did a day trip to southern California to meet with a partner – my second work trip since LO was born. It was only slightly awkward to request a space to pump at the partner office, and to leave the meeting periodically – but it was fine.  I also pumped at the airport before my flight (since I left the house around 5 am). While I missed the morning with LO, I managed to make it home for bedtime (although I immediately became ill). 

My old project is chugging along, and I’m trying to stay on top of it and figure out my place on it.  They’ve been exceptionally accommodating as I navigate new parenthood, but… I feel like I am simply not wow-ing them the way I used to be able to.  So, that needs to change…

T should find out about his tenure decision soon-ish, certainly before December.  We have reason to be optimistic, but we don’t know until we know.

Other life stuff

We went camping!  We only stayed one night for a variety of reasons, but had a really nice time. LO was only just getting mobile, so it was manageable, but a campsite is not really a crawler-friendly place.

My parents visited during the week when T traveled to Paris for work. That was half planned and half serendipitous.  It was SO nice to have extras sets of hands around to help with the baby and the dog and life in general!  Of course, it was nice to spend time with them too. We also hosted some extended family while my parents were here, and it was good to see an aunt, uncle, and cousin I hadn’t seen in years and years.

We selected a lawyer for our estate planning process, and it is in T’s court to contact him.  We are using legal insurance through his employer.  I understand the quality limitations, but it is extremely cost effective and we aren’t doing anything esoteric.  But, it has to be done this year or we’ll be stuck paying for legal insurance for ANOTHER year.

No progress on emergency preparedness here. 

Our household was hit with a stomach virus in series.  LO had it first, then T had it the day I left for my above mentioned work day trip, and then I got violently ill about 30 minutes after I walked in the door.  We’ve all recovered.  The adults were quite sick for about 24 hours, and the baby had a longer duration but more mild illness.

That was July for us!  It really just flew by!

Parenthood: 9 months (8 months too)

July 31, 2019

I’ve decided to refer to baby as LO (for “Little One”) on the blog, so I can stop just referring to her as “she” and “her”.

Routines & Sleep

During our trip to Colorado (~8 months), T switched LOs schedule from three to two naps each day.  The third nap had been getting near impossible, and the second nap was always short.  Now, her naps are typically around 9 and 2/3.  I’d like to scoot that second nap firmly to 2 pm to enable an easier bedtime, but I’m not really in charge of her daily schedule.  These naps are now consistently 1.5 – 2 hours.  Bedtime is 7:30 – 8, but sometimes slips later if the last nap stretched on to 5.  She wakes up between 6:30 and 7:30 most mornings, with our ideal wake up time of 7.  Her nanny share naps have improved with an additional curtain added for darkness.

Night sleep is mostly unchanged, with one overnight wake up that I’ve put no effort into phasing out.

Childcare

The older child in her current nanny share starting is starting pre-school, so we’ve decided to enroll LO in daycare starting in August.  (The other option was to begin a nanny share with a new family.)

Our motivations are many.  In particular, I’m looking forward to the structure and social aspects. The environment has many age appropriate developmental toys, and I was impressed with the training the teachers have. Two of the four teachers in the room have been with the daycare over 15 years.  I like the licensing and accountability of a center, and the lack of “baby containers”. We can stay with this daycare until LO is ready for kindergarden.  The inevitable germs/sickness is the major downside, but it will happen at some point in her life. I also expect her naps to be worse.

On the parent side:  We’ll save a modest amount of money, but will greatly complicate commutes.  This will mostly impact T due to our work locations, but I’ll share the burden.  We’ll attempt to make it work with the single car, but may be prompted to buy a second.  We’re considering hiring a neighbor for regular mid-day dog walking 3+ days a week.  In the past, I’ve done this every day, but I’ll no longer have a car at work that enables me to zip home quickly.  (While I’ve been pumping, T has covered lunch walks.) We’re considering staggered schedules and skipping the dog’s mid-day walk, but I can’t figure out how to make this tractable. While I’m confident the dog could physically tolerate it, I don’t feel comfortable leaving him home with no walks for 8+ hours. We can’t do a doggy door situation for a variety of reasons.  So… we’ll see.

Eating

Real people food is going slowly. We’re mostly doing purees. I make some purees at home to reduce cost and to give her non-gross meat purees, but we rely on pouches/jars heavily.  I don’t have time to make sufficient variety in homemade purees to forgo buying more.  As LOs appetite increases, we’re trying to introduce more table foods (prepared appropriately for someone with 4 teeth), but self-feeding is slow going.  LO is still nursing three times a day (at wake up, before bed, and once overnight), with 3 bottles during the work day.  She eats 3 “meals” of solids about an hour after her bottle.

Pumping is going okay, but I’m ready to ramp that down and start digging into the hundred of ounces I have in my freezer stash, and also begin formula.  We made it to 9 months without needing formula, but the effort to get enough milk for her is increasing.  Daycare provides formula as part of the price, so adding formula will be less of a financial burden.  I hope to continue nursing in the mornings/evenings, but I may not be able to produce enough to make that work.  Nursing itself is going fine, although daytime nursing on the weekends is hard due to distraction.

Personality / Milestones

She is mobile!  She spent the month army crawling, getting faster and stronger each day.  Just recently, she started getting into a sitting position herself and properly crawling short distances.  There still is a fair amount of face planting, but she’s getting better each day.  She’s not pulling up yet, but I don’t expect it to be long.  It moves really fast.

She’s babbling with consonant sounds! One day she woke up and started saying “dada” all day long.  She doesn’t seem to have any words that she understands the meaning of.  We’re working on waving, high fives, and “so big!” but she hasn’t really figured those out yet. My assessment is she’s a little behind average on communication/social milestones, but nothing outside of a “normal” range – especially considering she was about 3 weeks early.  She’s average to ahead-of-average on gross motor skills.

She weighed in at 16.5 pounds at her 9 month appointment, putting her safely in the 25% range.  She was 0.1% at birth, so I’m happy to see her growing normally!

Toys she’s enjoyed: bright woven rattle, a little drum (also just eating the drumstick), her stacking cups, indestructible book (to eat), a teething cookie, play scarfs over her head, and anything that is not a toy that she can get her hands on (phones, remotes, etc.)

She’s an easygoing and happy baby most of the time. When she is fussy, she’ll calm down for a stroller ride and chill out.  She always wants to be on the floor practicing her crawling. She’s exhibited some signs of separation anxiety, but not too much.

Money

No major purchases this month, and nothing of note to say here!

Co-parenting

We’re still at status quo here.  T went out of town for a week, but my parents came to town to help, and 3-4 adults to one baby seems like lovely ratio.

The mental load is seems to be falling on me a bit more. For example, T keeps looking to me to figure out what she should be eating, and I don’t have access to any secret baby food information.  On the other hand, T took care of the copious amounts of daycare paperwork, which was fantastic and a burden that I didn’t have to take on.