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Planning for baby: College Savings

September 12, 2018

We have not figured out all of the near-term logistics, such as what the heck are we doing for child care?  Still, we’ve started thinking about some bigger picture items. One of these is college savings.

What is the goal?

If we have one kid, $200k saved for college by 2036 is my strawman goal. My “research” to come up this is only slightly more thoughtful than googling “college cost for a kid born today” and dividing the number by two. I really dislike pinning specific numbers on very long term goals, and  we will adjust as time goes on.  If you have a target, how did you set it?

How will we do it?

My calculations show that the only way for us to get there is to reduce our pretax retirement savings in favor of accounts we can access for college. This is painful because our taxes on the last dollar we earn are pretty high.  That said, we have access to put away lots pre-tax retirement money each year – way more than needed.  In 2018, we are maxing out all of the pre-tax space. A modest portion of this money is in a 457b (accessible at any age if no longer at employer), but the bulk of it is in 401k (or similar) accounts. I convinced myself that we can use an IRA conversion ladder to get some 401k money out early if we end up wanting to retire early.

Aside from the pre-tax savings, we have access to a mega-backdoor Roth IRA. I’ve not explored this in depth, because I prefer to take the tax break today. Still, this could be a useful way to dovetail college savings with retirement savings. It has a lot of the benefits of a 529, but you aren’t limited to using it for education. (In California, we don’t get a state tax deductions for contributing to a 529.) Having the money in a Roth vs a 529 also will help in financial aid calculations, assuming they don’t change in the next 18 years (haha).  I can’t think of a good reason why having it in a 529 is better.

For some, using a Roth for college savings is not advised because they need that savings room for retirement.  We have enough savings and enough yearly room to save more for retirement that this is a non-issue.  For our situation, the primary disadvantage of using a Roth for college savings is that we can’t take any growth out until I’m 59, so we don’t benefit from investment growth until college of offspring is over. Instead of assuming growth, we would want to save about $12k/year every year.  This seems mostly fine, except I also have an idea in the back of my head to use Roth principle if we wanted to retire early. But do we? When? And how much principle do we need in a Roth space to both fund college and an early retirement? And what is the best way to get it there?

Maybe we need to answer some of these question.  My general approach has been to just save as much as we can, however we can, and maximize future options and mitigate against uncertainty.  I think once we’ve had the baby a while and we find out about T’s tenure, we’ll have a clearer picture of how we want to steer our lives. The most likely case is we want to stay and retire here, but we’ll see. In the meantime, I’m planning to shuffle the order of our savings priorities, moving Roth IRA contributions from the bottom of the list to the middle.

Savings Priorities:

  1. Mandatory pensions savings (pre-tax) that we can’t opt out of
  2. 457b pre-tax retirement savings ($37,000)
  3. $11k/year in college savings via backdoor Roth ($5.5k each).  I’m happy for this to be our “minimum” savings bar.
  4. Mega backdoor Roth IRA up to some TBD amount (on the order of $5-$10k), then 403b up to some other TBD amount.  This is where we balance tax savings now with accessibility of principal and tax savings later.
  5. Mortgage prepayment, although it is almost impossible that we’ll get this far down the list.

For those who have kids, did your savings priorities change when you had them? Not only does it get harder to save (child care!), but there are suddenly different things to save for!

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August Wrap-up

September 4, 2018

Random Link:

This post from Get Rich Slowly on why you should be skeptical of finance blogs was a refreshing read.  I only keep up with a small set of very personal personal finances / FI blogs. I basically still pretend like it is 2007 in the blog world.  Anyone want to submit a post to the carnival of personal finance?

Net Worth and Money

We received the last paycheck with T’s summer salary!  Our property tax account is full, and so is our slush fund. Our net worth is up another couple percent this month and an astonishing number for the year. My retirement accounts are full, so my take home pay should go up. I’m still due several thousand (~$5k) in expense reimbursements, but most are submitted and the traveling is about to end.

We’re keeping a lot of cash for now. It is super tempting to send a chunk to the mortgage, but I think waiting and sitting tight is the right move.  (The mortgage isn’t going anywhere.) Beyond the maternity leave/postpartum costs, I think it makes sense for how I hope to handle college savings. More to come on that topic…

Spending

I’m still behind on tracking this, and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to catch up…  I can say that my spending on food is still low due to work travel, but we have spent a lot on various home things this summer.

We bought an area rug and rug pad for about $300. I bought 2 king sized pillows from Snowe for about $130 total. My plan is to use them as pregnancy body pillows for the next 2 months, then they will start their life as normal bed pillows.  We’ll transition 2 of our queen pillows to nice guest pillows. I’m kind of obsessed with good pillows.

After waiting for the 25% sale, we ordered a Container Store Elfa closet system for the nursery.  We needed the 16 inch depth and included a few drawers, so the total system was about $500 – almost double the basic (no drawers) system we put in our closet. We haven’t picked it up or installed it yet due to availability of one part. We bought a new light fixture (~$300) and mirror ($60) for the guest bathroom.  We bought various supplies at home depot.

September is looking to be even worse, with some big ticket items… but I’ll wait a month to share our most recent purchases with you!

Work

It was a hectic month to say the least! We had an issue on the project I’ve been traveling for, which resulted in a small delay and travel extended into early September. However, we were able to overcome the issue, and things are now on track!  It has been busy, but overall, really rewarding and fun.

I was kind of hoping to coast into maternity leave, wrapping up some important stuff on my other main project.  Instead, I think I’m helping with two proposals.  It is sort of ill-advised, but I have to help with these things or I won’t have a job in the long run.  This year they are actually providing funding for the proposal work, although it generally will still be evening/weekend work because the rest of the work won’t go away.

House

There has been a lot going on here!  Too much, if you ask me, but I also want it all done.

Guest bathroom mini-update: We took out the small 1950s medicine cabinet in the guest bathroom and replaced it with a large and inexpensive ($50) mirror. The bathroom looks a lot better and larger with a big mirror and a new brighter light fixture.  I did give up a small amount of storage, but I’ve mostly moved into the “master” bath with T.  If needed, we’ll install a small cabinet on the other wall.  For guest use, it seems fine as is.  The vanity/sink/tub/tile/floor/toilet could use an upgrade, but this isn’t a near-term priority.  A fresh paint color would be nice and is cheap enough  – but other projects are more of a priority in terms of time.

Landscaping:  T was really busy with research and filling out tenure paperwork (!), so he couldn’t make a lot of progress. BUT, we paid for help for the first time in our 4 years of living here! We hired a gardener several of our neighbors use to do 8 hours of brush clearing for $200.  WORTH IT.  T gave little more instruction than “cut it all down and make it better,” but he’s familiar enough with the landscape around our area that he knew where to start. The goal right now is to keep the back yard under control and in a state least prone to being a wildfire hazard. We’ve done our best to clear it ourselves in past years, but with me traveling so much this summer (and pregnant and scared of poison oak), hiring help was the only way it was going to happen.  We’ll probably hire him for 8 more hours this fall to push things further, but first we have to get rid of all the yard debris / brush generated in round 1.

We have a few pallets of large rocks in our driveway, waiting to be built into a rock wall. Once the rock wall is built up, we plan to hire a neighborhood guy to help with planting.  His mother is a native plant expert, and she offers free help  with landscape plans if we hire her son (who I think has some minor disability) to assist in the labor.  It’s a pretty good deal, and nice to connect with our neighborhood.

Painting: T painted the nursery, and had enough paint left over to paint the guest room / office.   It is mostly a neutral color, but with a cool undertone. The previous shade was yellow/gold in the undertone, which I really didn’t like.  Things look a lot brighter in both rooms with the new color!

Pregnancy / Baby

Everything is still easy and good!  I got my TDAP and Rhogam shot, and drank the sugary drink for the glucose tolerance test.  I was over the screen limit for the 1 hour version, but passed the 3 hour version with flying colors (although it made me feel terrible). I was slightly hypoglycemic by the 3rd hour blood draw, but I never experience symptoms of this.  I’m interpreting this result as a sign that I should not fast for 12 hours, drink a bunch of sugar, then continue fasting. I had a few days of pretty bad pain due to an issue I’d rather not blog about, but that seems to have went away for now.

My team and the people at the site we have been traveling to threw me a surprise baby shower at work – it was so thoughtful and generous, especially since some of the people have only worked with me the past month or so.  It was also nice because we’re not having a family/friend shower.  Aside from being able to buy what we need, everyone is far away and spread out, and we don’t have enough of a local community to merit one. We’ve been getting generous gifts nevertheless, both new and secondhand items, and both sets of parents sent money or contributions to large items. We have a lot of smaller stuff left to get, but we’ll get there!

Ambition in my 30’s

August 20, 2018

I came across this article, This is What Happens to Ambition in Your 30’s,  on my Facebook feed several months ago, and have had it open in a tab on my phone ever since, trying to come up with some thoughts to write a post about it.

I started out my career with abundant ambition. Really, my history with ambition started before I even began a career, choosing my college major in part because it was challenging, then always striving to be at the top of my classes. Like many achievers, I had the school game down.  I knew how to learn the material, and the consistent feedback from exams and grades was gratifying.  The workplace was a different world, but it didn’t take so long to figure out that system either. Feedback was less quantitative and less frequent, but even in the early days, it was overwhelmingly positive.

My overall early experiences in the workplace also were overwhelmingly positive. There were hints of sexism, but it could never be separated from people reacting to my youth. It was always subtle enough that you couldn’t pinpoint which interactions were normal and which were rooted in something else.

I was excited to read things like Lean In and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. These books shared little tricks that made it seem like I could just skip around the sexism. Sit at the table! Have a good partner! I learned straightforward ways to say no to colleagues who wanted me to be in a helper and support role.  I learned the importance of pre-meetings and going into meetings with advocates already on my side. This stuff wasn’t obvious to me, but as soon as it was pointed out, it wasn’t so hard to navigate. It isn’t that an unfriendly culture was completely absent, but it seemed surmountable.  (I don’t specifically say sexist, because parts of corporate culture are bad for all humans. Women and minorities are just the canary in the coal mine.)

Despite starting out with such bright peers, there still was a lack of women in leadership roles and it wasn’t clear why.  Then I read “What Works for Women at Work.” I learned about the double bind, the motherhood wall, and the the need to prove-it-again. These seemed significantly harder issues to get around, compared to issues such as being asked to take notes in a meeting. It gave me pause. It still does.

Then, I altered my career to move to support my husband’s career. I did not agree to a move until he had a permanent position lined up, so we both sacrificed by being apart. He delayed his start date by a semester largely at my request.  Still, we ultimately made the big move.  Us moving together for his career was always our expectation, and it has worked out really well in the end. Still, I struggled with it – it was a lot of change all at once.  I was initially optimistic about my new job, but it turned out to be terrible (or really, my manger was terrible). I had veered out of engineering, but the business world was even worse for me.  The constant self-promotion grated (calling a basic excel spreadsheet a “financial model”, elevator pitches that are obviously elevator pitches). Having a business major 1 year out of school mansplain to me that I should take a course on model thinking irritated me.  (I was admittedly weak on fundamental “how businesses work” knowledge and also weak on soft skills such as not finding self-promotion totally annoying. But model thinking is basically just how most engineers see the world.) My direct manager obviously didn’t think I was awesome like all my previous leads had, and the (lack of) feeling was mutual. I didn’t see a good path to a role with work/life balance that would allow us to have a family.

When my current job came up as an opportunity, I could see that I was taking a step off a traditional corporate career ladder to something different. My current job is interesting, the people are great, and the pay is good (although surely much less than I could make elsewhere). However, There are no clear “next steps,” no path to CEO or whatever top positions. I’m not sure what comes next.   Still, I didn’t hesitate to leave behind a career trajectory that could have shot me higher but left me unhappy. I’m totally happy to keep on here indefinitely, as long as things stay good. Whatever is next will be figured out if it needs to be. (Pursing FI and financial security helps significantly with being OK with this uncertainty.)

My career is important to me, but this job allows space for the rest of my life in environment where I feel almost invariably respected. We have a house that we enjoy spending time improving, a dog that we love hiking and playing with, and are about to have a baby that will flip our lives all around.  I can easily see a way to do all of this life stuff while still having a rewarding job. This is very lucky, and I don’t wish for anything different. (Not to say this job is without times of challenge, but it is overall really good.)

I think this would have also been possible in my L.A. job, working at a big engineering company. I still likely would have had to set some ambition aside. I remember distinctly a lunch and learn event where women spoke about work/life balance.  I listened and with surprise as one women stated bluntly that she did it by not being too ambitious – when she was childfree she focused on career, when she had kids she stepped back, when the kids were grown she accelerated again. Another woman said she worked every Saturday for years in order to meet her work commitments.  It is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure situation, and boundaries can be drawn if you choose.

My choice is to keep my ambitions realistic. I want to do an excellent job at work.  I want autonomy and purpose.  I want mutual respect with those I work with. I want to be paid fairly. I am willing to push during intense times (i.e. right now!), but generally want to go home in the evenings and have my weekends. I want to achieve, but I want to do it on my terms.

I’ll close this post by quoting quote the end of the article I linked above, which inspired this whole train of thought:

To be clear: This is not about settling, about making peace with the humdrum sexism of traditional workplaces. Rage and revolution are called for, and such upheaval requires more professional investment by more females, not less. Instead, this is about a shift in perspective — an appreciation for imperfect circumstances and unmet yearnings as facts of life, and a willingness to seek gratifications and inspirations outside the boundaries of a job. Dogs are helpful in this regard. So are children and friends and sports and museums and live music and sex and activism and charity.

 

July Wrap up

August 15, 2018

Much belated due to being out of town a lot!

Net Worth and Money

It is summer salary season!  T has a “9 month salary”, which is by default is paid out over 12 months. In the summer, he can use grants to earn additional salary, spending his full effort on furthering his research. Summer grant money is not guaranteed (he has to apply for and win grants), but it is predictable on a timescale of a couple of years. Most professors in his department can consistently pay themselves summer salary, but there are funding environments where this is not true.

With the extra cash flow this summer, I refilled our property tax account so the money is on hand for the December & March tax bill payments. This is out of convenience and allows me to avoid budgeting these on any monthly level.  They are a bit high for me to feel comfortable cash flowing.  We’re still holding a lot of other miscellaneous cash for now, but when my upcoming maternity leave comes to a close (and T finds out about tenure), we’ll reevaluate.

Between the two of us, we have over $10k in outstanding travel reimbursements owed to us by our employers right now.  I booked travel lodging for ~1.5 months for 3-4 people and it is all on my personal cards. I don’t track this in my net worth, but having $10k outstanding is an anomaly.  In the end this is not terrible – I get cash back/credit card points, and we can cash flow this.  It is still slightly alarming!  I’m getting a good chunk of this back within a few days, but I’m still incurring expenses.

I’ll be done maxing out all of my retirement options with the paycheck that arrives at the end of August.  T is on pace for an end-of-year max-out (assuming he logs in and slightly adjusts his 457b contributions).

We received our new tax assessment, and I updated our house value accordingly.  Our tax assessment lags my estimate of our market value by at least $100k, but practically speaking, our home value has limited influence on our financial plans.  Generally, we intend to stay in this house and RETIRE in this house, so the important thing is to eventually kill the mortgage and be able to cover the rest of our spending with our investible assets.  After four years, our total remaining payments are now equal to our purchase price, assuming we make no additional prepayments that knock off more interest in the amortization schedule.

With all of this, our net worth went up about 3.7%

Spending

I’m behind on tracking this again…  My spending on food and such is low due to work travel, but we’ve been spending on home projects and (a little bit) on baby prep.

Work

I spent more nights in my own bed than away in July, which is unlikely to be true for August.  We spent two weeks “in the field” traveling for work, then came home for a week to rest up before heading off for the final and longer stretch. Things went really well during that two weeks, and it was tiring and fun.

There was a lot of coworker social time on the work trip.  This was fun, but something that I’ll need to watch out for in the upcoming longer stretch. I need some time to recharge and have to be sure I take it when the opportunity presents itself.  Also, a bit of the social time leaned a bit towards the “let’s drink a lot!” side, which was marginally annoying. Thankfully, this was infrequent and limited to a few people. It was easy enough to accommodate/ignore, and there were plenty others who seemed almost as disinterested as pregnant-me in partaking.

Other work has been really hard to keep up on, so I had to strictly prioritize during my week home to ensure I didn’t drop too many balls. It has been pretty busy – I feel like I’m failing to keep everything moving.  My main project has been really supportive of my side project AND upcoming leave, not to mention really fun and meaningful over the years. I don’t want to let them down.

House Projects

T did a bunch of landscaping work in July, although progress seems to have stalled a bit.  We also got a new light fixture for our entry way and finally hung up a proper coat rack to replace the plastic command hooks that have been “temporarily” holding our coats for a couple of years.

Pregnancy / Baby

As far as pregnancy goes, everything still has been pretty easy!  I had a lot of bloody/stuffy nose issues while on travel (dry air / air conditioning / altitude change?), but it was easily manageable.  I know the 3rd trimester will likely get uncomfortable, but I’m happy that things have been smooth so far.  We had another checkup, and nothing to report.  I have had some Braxton Hicks contractions, which started around 20 weeks and are standard.  Nothing much else to report for July!

 

Planning for a Baby: Childcare

July 26, 2018

Editorial Note:  I updated my post on maternity leave with a graphic on the normal California leave (up to 16 weeks paid at >$1200/week!) and noted the leave I get (just a few weeks partly paid if I deliver on my due date).  I do, however, have a boatload of PTO banked, and will be able to be paid for nearly all of my 16 week leave using this saved time.

The baby is still a few months away from coming, but childcare was something we started thinking about right away.  We don’t have it figured out for sure yet, but we have a good understanding of our options. I’m not sure what age we will start needing childcare.  I’ll go back to work when the baby is about 4 months, with my initial plan to have some reduced hours.  The need for care at that age will depend on 1) how much care T can do while still being productive in research during his semester without teaching 2) how much I can juggle my schedule to support that.  I suspect we’ll want some part-time care at the point when I go back to work – but I can’t say for sure what will be enough.

The goal:  Find a safe place for our infant to be while we work.  Ideally, we’d start out with a part-time schedule (both T and I intend to have reduced hours initially).  We’d transition to full time at some undefined point in the future, probably depending on my job demands.

We’d prefer something that minimizes commutes, but given my current 5 minute commute, commute will be impacted.

adorable-baby-beautiful-265987.jpg

Costs noted below generally ignore the small tax break we can get for using a dependent care spending account.

The choices:  

  1. Daycare center: This is our leading option, although we have nothing confirmed and are on a couple of wait lists.  My favorite choice is over $2,200/month for full-time care and does not offer part-time care. I’m unconvinced part-time infant care in a center will be available at all, because the centers all have very few infant slots and prefer to use them for full-time families.  No day care centers satisfy our goal of minimizing commute time – the are all inconveniently located.  The cost of this is about $27k/year, plus we’d seriously consider getting a 2nd car to save some commute time.

  2. Nanny share:  The concept is that you team up with another family, and you each pay something like $14/hour for a nanny who watches both kids at the same time.  Sometimes it is hosted at one house, and sometimes it is shared between both houses.  We have a large and energetic dog (and I’m absolutely confident we can manage him with our kid), so it could be hard to host this at our place. I love this idea, but finding a match seems logistically challenging. Finding a part-time match seems even more difficult.  This is about $31k/year for full-time care.  This potentially could have a more optimal commute situation.  Nanny shares seem to be forming several months out / after birth, so I’ve made no progress here. We’ll keep this option on the table.
  3. Dedicated nanny:  My guesstimate is that a full-time nanny would cost about $50k/year (including the nanny tax).  This number is not something I can stomach, though technically we can “afford” this.  A dedicated part-time nanny may be an option, but in the long term we’ll need full time care.  This obviously would have the best commute situation!  Again, it seems to be too early to find a nanny if I don’t need care until February/March.
  4. In-home daycare: I’m not yet comfortable with this, but I do suppose it is an option.  It is not something I’m seriously considering yet so I’m not familiar with the costs.  It would be cheaper than a daycare center, but I don’t know how much yet.  These tend to have openings shortly before you need them, so we can’t start looking yet.  This also could have a better commute situation, but not necessarily.
  5. One of us staying home: This is more of a financial cost than any of the above options. I did some math on this here. I suspect that working is a better fit for both of us.  If my current job went away due to us running out of business, I would be picky about something new. Most jobs that are a good match for my skills have terrible commutes – but there are some options. T staying home is not a serious option, as the entire reason we live where we live where we do is to further his career.  I consider this is a fall-back plan if my work situation changes in a way that is unworkable for our family.  And it would be a temporary fall-back until business picked up.

Did these numbers give anyone a heart attack, or did they seem about right for those of you in high cost areas?  How did you decide what to do when your infant needed care?  If you hired a nanny or a nanny share, how did you do that hiring?

Food Lately

July 8, 2018

We’ve been eating more meat-based dinners than typical.  This is both because it seems like generally a good idea from a nutrient standpoint in pregnancy, and because I’ve simply been in the mood for meat and heavier meals more often. (I realize that non-meat sources of nutrients and protein are possible.) My weight has been right on track so far just by following my appetite.

Here are a few things I’ve made and enjoyed lately:

On the list of things to try is this and this.  I’ve been using Budget Bytes a lot lately – she has some good and easy recipes!

I have a green smoothie (spinach or kale, yogurt/milk, banana, ground flax seed) for breakfast many mornings to help keep my veggie intake up. I snack on high protein yogurt (usually Icelandic-style rather than greek), hard boiled eggs (and pickled hard boiled eggs!), almonds, and berries.  I’m obsessed with guacamole to the point that I’ve bought it pre-made ($$$$) several times. I also have made a spinach dip from this book sometimes.  There is, of course, some occasional unhealthy stuff, like ice cream, pastries, chocolate and such!

I’m hoping I can keep up good nutrition while traveling this summer, but I’m not going to stress TOO much about it.  Food options won’t be ideal and I don’t think I’ll have as much time as usual to cook and meal prep and think about what I want to eat.  Still, there will be grocery stores and some opportunity to cook and eat well.

 

June Wrap-Up

July 3, 2018

Life:

Let’s start here this month!  T had a bunch of work travel in early June, all packed into 3 weeks, with <24 hours home somewhere in there. During that time, I took in a bonus dog for 10 days, which is a favor we trade with our dog owner friends. The dogs settled into an easy routine after several days, and it was nice for my pup to have a friend who can keep up with him.  Once T returned, we took in a different dog for a weekend.  It was the best month of my dog’s life!

I’m traveling a lot starting this weekend, so this is not a good summer for quality time spent together, unfortunately.

Pregnancy is still going swimmingly, with few issues and symptoms. We had the big anatomy ultrasound, and all looks well with baby and me. This was a big relief.  I’m carrying pretty small still, but the bump is there if I wear something that shows it.  I know it could get a lot more uncomfortable later on, so I’m enjoying this time!

Net Worth / Money:

Net worth is up again!  We’re up 2.6% this month, although that is probably skewed by the fact that I didn’t get an update for T’s retirement accounts last month.  The gains seemed more flat in my accounts this month.

It only took 3 months, but we FINALLY mailed in the $8k mortgage pre-payment I’ve been planning since March.  Between my compulsion to pay off our 0% car loan, increased retirement savings over my initial plan, and the desire to see how baby buying stuff shakes out, that may be it for this year for mortgage pre-payments.  We’re going to hit another small mortgage milestone before the end of the year.  Our mortgage pay down trajectory is expected to slow with upcoming daycare expenses.

I’ve been chipping away at the car loan even though it is a 0% loan and we have cash on hand to kill it.  I simply like the idea of that payment going away, and I can’t seem to convince myself to stop, despite the math.

We’re still holding a lot of cash, and I think that is fine for the time being.

Spending:

I don’t have my spending tracked for most June yet, so nothing exciting to say here.  I hope to get caught up this weekend.

I’m trying really really hard to not get sucked into the consumerist part of having a new baby, and we are doing well so far. But everything is so tempting – marketers know what they are doing!

House Projects:

The main project leader in the house was out of town for 3 weeks straight, but still managed to make progress on the landscaping. It will be a long slog this summer.  Everyone who walks by and sees him working says “wow, that’s a big job!”  I’ve been of little help in this arena, but I swear I’ve been busy keeping other things moving. I’ve encouraged him to hire some help, which is something I rarely do for things we can (in theory) do ourselves.

There are a bunch of small projects to do on the docket, but the idea I’m most excited about is a bench like this with shoe storage:

Bench

I’ve been wanting an entryway solution since we moved in, but all the things I can purchase don’t seem quite right.   I really want something custom for the space we have, and this is the first design T has also been enthusiastic about. It is unlikely we can swing a large cabinet like this has (maybe a small one?). We’ll still have to use coat hooks on the wall instead of a decorative picture.  Still, it would be an awesome improvement. It might not happen at all, because it is a lot of work and not essential to have done immediately. It also requires use of some tools of our retired neighbor with a full wood shop. Still, I’m hopeful!  If it happens, I’ll show you a before and after.  If it doesn’t happen, I won’t show you the before, because it looks really really  sad. 🙂

We probably won’t make significant progress on setting up the nursery until September, but that is in the plans too.  In the meantime, I’ll get some older stuff cleared out. I still have a couple pieces of furniture that are from my very first post-graduation apartment. We do not have room for that anymore!

Work:  

Work was busy this month!  I’m ramping up my small project for our big finale this summer, while trying not to drown in my other work that hasn’t gone away.  :/  I think we have coverage arranged for my leave, but I’m nervous about that.

T has been busy preparing his tenure application materials, so we should find out the results sometime next spring.  The tenure rate is generally high, but there is always some uncertainty and risk in the process. I fully expect his department’s support, but the campus level stuff can be less predictable. They’ve started enforcing some odd new policies. It shouldn’t be a problem, but you just never know.