Skip to content

November and December Wrap-up

December 31, 2020

I started this entry a long time ago, but didn’t get time to finish until just now. I hope all are doing well, staying healthy, and had the best holidays you could. Happy New Years Eve!

Election week Recap:

(Doesn’t this already feel like so long ago?) On election night, I watched the NYT needles to get an idea of whether a president-elect would be identified that night. It quickly became clear we wouldn’t know right away. I followed the checked the FiveThirtyEight live blog, and they seemed convinced Biden had a shot a Georgia and Pennsylvania – but the early numbers made that hard for my brain to accept. I went to bed uncertain, but with hope. On Wednesday and Thursday, I didn’t get a lot done, aside from refreshing the NYTs vote counts and attempting my own spreadsheet models to see how likely it was Biden could pull ahead. The memes were so good! An overwhelming sense of relief washed over me on Friday when it became apparent that Biden would win, and would win by enough to make Trump’s coup attempts and legal shenanigans very difficult. The intensity of the relief was surprising. Our country has been so many problems remaining, and my faith in American democracy has been permanently shaken. Still, the relief of stopping the free fall to hell (as AOC put it) was very real.

Holiday Recap:

We celebrate the secular version of Christmas, centered around family and gift giving. We stayed home and saw no one. There really was no other choice for us aside from flying, which is not going to happen. I really miss seeing family, but it was also nice not to travel. LO got a lot of presents, mostly from other people. My mom always goes overboard on gifts, but she also is very willing to accept input on what we want/need. I think getting gifts at a smaller scale would be fine, but it makes her happy and I’m not going to fight that battle.

I got a few things I needed, and some things we wanted. I got a gift card to pick myself out some new clothes. It is an exercise in optimism after 9 months of mostly wearing casual lounge clothes and hardly leaving the house. I haven’t been very interested in clothes or my appearance since LO was born, honestly, but I suddenly have an urge to look just a little put together on occasion.

COVID-19 worries:

The spike across the country in November was frustrating and scary. Many of my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins) were infected in their hot spot Midwest state, but most recovered major immediate complications. The last of my (deceased) grandma’s 15 siblings passed away of COVID after catching it in her assisted living community. My MIL and FIL were infected, and recovered I watched local cases climb with nervousness, and wondering how much longer before we’ll have to stop using childcare.

The December came, and the wave started here. We stopped sending LO to childcare as of 12/4, starting the already planned holiday break early. About 1.5 weeks later, one of her teachers tested positive for COVID and exposed the class, so the classroom closed down a few days early anyway. We didn’t get any further details on the case. I don’t know when we’ll be ready to send her back, but we opted not to cancel our contract. I think she’ll be back by February.

On a brighter note, here are some new, more happy, COVID statistics to track: Over 2 million American’s vaccinated. My mom got her first shot this week, hooray!

Money and Net Worth and Spending:

This is back to feeling super unimportant. I guess things are going well. It is really unfair how having money invested means that you can just get more and more money, without really doing anything. The more you have the easier it is to grow it.

Spending has been normal, I guess. I spent extra on Christmas presents, but everything else was normal. Food spending continues to be a bit higher, but travel and other fun spending is basically at zero. Donations continue monthly, and I topped off the year with another donation to the local food back, and one to the local dog breed rescue.


Work has been relatively good. There were no big train wrecks, and the one big blip that we had was due to randomness that couldn’t have been prevented. It was busy during non-holiday weeks, but we were able to get ahead on some things, keep the pace manageable over the holidays. The hiccup that we had was relatively easy to recover from (if still ill-timed for other reasons), which was a blessing. I’m about 2 weeks from shifting (temporarily) to more of a backseat role for a month. I’ll still be pushing forward work to get ready for the next phase I’m leading, but maybe there will be fewer meetings?

I’ve cut my time waaay down on my second project. My portion of that work is largely in a holding pattern. The project made a major decision to change one of our key partners, and I’m now feeling optimistic we’ll come out successful this summer (when I’m able to ramp back up). It will be an exciting project if we can pull it off. My boss/mentor is still leading things for now. I fully trust her to set up the project well, and that I’ll be able to shine in the role when I’m ready.

Since we’ve been keeping LO home, my productivity has suffered quite a bit, and I’m trying to just accept that as OK instead of holding myself to the usual standards. There is only so much I can do, and I am optimistic my reputation will not be overly tarnished, given everything. I’m prioritizing my family over my job, while still maintaining standards high enough to avoid letting my colleagues down.


We’ve still relied on Whole Foods delivery, an occasional Amazon Fresh for things Whole Foods doesn’t carry. I mix in some Good Eggs meal kits now and then. They are good and I feel good about the company, but they are expensive. I found a local place that is doing sets of pre-cooked takeout-style meals delivered, enough food for lunch/dinner for about 4 days for $130. They were not excellent, but they were good. Most of all, it was very very easy. I will probably do that again next month. It costs about 2-4 times what a takeout order might cost us (generally we get 2 each out of a takeout order). But quite a bit more food, and we don’t have to pickup. When we’re out childcare and trying to survive, I welcome shortcuts. On that note, I’ve been buying bagged salad kits to help us eat more veg/salad. They are a terrible value, but they are something we reliably eat and can whip up in a second.

Some of the easy and/or delicious things I’ve cooked for the first time lately: Chicken Shawarma, gnocchi, hot and sour soup, and this curry. I put a “healthy instant pot” cookbook on my wishlist because I’ve been pretty impressed with the ease and quality of instant pot meals.


LO has been amazing. Her vocabulary and language skills are developing rapidly, and it is so fun to hear what is going on inside of that little head. It is also adorable to hear her mimic every phrase we say. Two year olds get a bad reputation, but so far, this is a really fun age. There are tantrums, for sure, but we’ve been able to handle them calmly. She does miss going to school (daycare), seeing her teachers and classmates, and all the fun stuff they do there… but she’s doing OK with us too!

Cute toddler things:

  • One day we had tacos for dinner and asked her two brush all of the tacos out. Now when brushing, she says she’s getting the tacos out, and will sometimes exclaim “peeking tacos!” to indicate she’s getting a taco that is hiding out. It is very cute.
  • “Fish” was one of her early words, and she would mispronounce it so badly that it sounded like “rawrsh”. To encourage her to say it correctly, we’d say “Fff, fff, fff, fish!” Now she seems to think that fishes say “fff fff fff”. Cat says “meow, fish say fff, fff, fff
  • Wee had Chinese food one night and let her have a fortune cook. She opened the cookie then exclaimed “peekaboo paper!”
  • When she doesn’t want just to change her diaper, she claimed she is still “working on it!”
  • She gave her rocking horse a face mask
  • She started letting us know that she enjoys things by saying “having fun!” “Having play dough fun!” “Having tunnel fun!”

We have been struggling with naps a bit, and she’s been sometimes waking up with nightmares and needing to be settled. We’ve let her miss her nap a few times, but it generally has a bad result, especially multiple days in a row. So, we’ve started to try to enforce it more, to the extent we can.

Anyway, that’s all i have for now. Happy new year, readers!

September and October Wrap Up

November 1, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

We are settled into our refinance with our new lower payment. Immediately after closing, our refinance company sold the mortgage to the bank we already bank at, which is very convenient.

Our net worth is down with the stock market, setting us about 3 months back in time.

We’re still fully employed, but my raise was cancelled this year (has been about 4-5% most years) and I haven’t been able to push for a promotion that is roughly due. It is on my managers radar, but… I don’t know. It doesn’t seem that important right now, even though this stuff adds up over time.


Like so many others, I have coronavirus fatigue. I’m so so tired of this. Just like the rest of the world.

I’m grateful that I have childcare that feels mostly safe, and that local new case counts are on the low side right now (~5/100k daily new cases)… but trending back up a bit. Childcare makes my life possible, and didn’t force me into a position of needing to decide if I should quit or scale back my job in order to survive.

I’m pretty devastated at the thought of not seeing my family in person again for quite a while. It has been about a year since my mom has seen LO (and me) in person. We FaceTime frequently, but it just isn’t the same. I think I’m going to put the kibosh on their idea of driving out here for the holidays, because I don’t think it is worth the effort or the risk. If things haven’t changed by spring, we will figure out a way to make something happen. Their idea is to quarantine for a modest amount of time (days), get tested, then drive out stopping in motels. They are generally cautious, but my mom works as a nurse and cannot stay home for 14 days. I don’t think my mom could mentally handle the idea of getting on a plane, even if we could find evidence of it being lower risk. I don’t know if it is or not. They are in a major hotspot right now, and I don’t know how much that will change by December, given the lack of local restrictions and a strong “COVID is a hoax” culture. I just found out several of my relatives in the hotspot have tested positive (including my cousin’s pregnant wife), although no one is seriously ill at the moment. My cousin that runs a daycare may be exposed, but is not getting tested because she can’t afford to shut down. 😦 I’m also hearing stories of teachers testing positive and being at school again a week later.

It feels like the whole country has given up. I know this isn’t completely true, but it also isn’t false. Even if we have relatively conservative policies statewide and locally, what happens in the rest of the country and world affects us all.

I’m nervous that case numbers will grow too high and we’ll have to pull LO from daycare, which will be a disaster. We’ll probably have to keep paying for it too, unless the state/county mandates closure. If that happens, maybe I would take actual leave rather than trying to do everything again. It would be tough to step back from my roles, though. ::::sigh:::


Nothing to report here. I haven’t caught up on tracking, nor have any exciting large purchases to report.

Food spending continues to be high. I’ve stopped using InstaCart, mostly because the prices seemed very inflated and the pricing is not transparent. Also, there were some mistakes. I’m mostly using Whole Foods delivery, Costco delivery (2 day shipping, not fresh stuff), occasionally Amazon Fresh for things Whole Foods doesn’t carry, and Good Eggs. Good Eggs is a bit pricey, but they have meal kits that are fast/easy/healthy and they seem like an ethical company. (Blue Apron meals had more steps even if they weren’t hard.) I mostly use them when I’m too overwhelmed to meal plan, but am trying to get away from it..

House Projects

I think we are are on a break from these after the roof…


Aside from my monthly donations, I’m failing to make serious progress here, at least in terms of racial justice.

Like many, I was devastated by RBG’s death, and the new supreme court judge appointment. I’m just burnt out.


My long term project had a bit of a train wreck recently, caused by a sequence of human errors and also issues with the hardware that we ar uncovering as we try to use more functionality. Our process checkpoints failed, including places where I feel like I could have caught something. (It turns out the train wreck was basically not preventable, but I could have mitigated one error.) It’s been rough, but it is maybe getting back on track now. It’s going to be a bit of a scramble through early January, then I’ll get to take a deep breath. I hope.

My newer project is also not going well, and it might end up fizzling next summer. I hope not, but it is a real possibility. I’m only working on this at about 10%, mostly because I’m too busy with the above. I also am trying to get up to speed on an even newer project that has a better prognosis (but is scheduled to go through next September if all goes well).


LO is wonderful. Exploding with words and phrases and full of joy. She surprises us daily with new words.

“Whole moon!” she exclaimed on Halloween, marveling at the bright moon.

“Next song!” she calls out during my singing to her in the car, just like I say to Spotify playing on Google home. Ok, then!

She is getting more opinionated, and able to express her demands. “Different! Different!” if she wants a new shirt or book or whatever. “Two! Two!” she cries out during FaceTime with my parents, asking for them to both get into the frame.

T and I are doing OK. My parents are OK and trying to stay safe in the hotspot. My siblings are doing OK.

I’m just hoping this election brings something to be optimistic about…

August Wrap-Up

September 12, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

Our balance sheet underwent some major changes this month!

Our cash position dropped significantly, as we closed on the refinance and also paid for our new roof. Our home equity increased, and our retirement accounts also grew. Our net worth was up about 2% for another all time high. We’re up about 16% for the year, although the numbers were calculated before the recent market correction.


August was stable as far as COVID-19 impacts go. We’re still using (reduced classroom size) daycare and working from home. Local case numbers are reducing and in a range that doesn’t make me panic.

This month had the added tragedy of wildfires in the area. No specific fire threatened us, but we were on a “red flag alert” several days. The air quality was frequently terrible, which caused daycare to unexpectedly close. The policy makes sense, as the normal “bad air” protocol is to go inside with all windows closed. The normal COVID-19 protocol is to spend lots of time outside, and keep windows open and air flowing as much as possible. It was just a bit of a surprise. Wildfire season came sooner than we all anticipated.

Now, I’m regularly keeping my eye on city, county and university COVID-19 numbers (plus my family’s hometowns and then Germany as a control case of “what could have been” if we had competent leadership). Then I check out Purple Air and BAAQMD air stats multiple times a day to see if daycare is likely to close. Then check on wildfire progress to see if they are contained or if any new ones have popped up. Then check out the weather to see what kind of records the latest heat wave is breaking. Then maybe some political stats to see what might happen in November. (There is one outcome that is much much much better than the other, but I don’t see either outcome resulting in a smooth next year.) This just feels… apocalyptic. Dystopian.


I’m mostly caught up on tracking this, but nothing exciting to report. I mean, aside from the big house stuff already mentioned! I purchased a second home air purifier, since I was tired of porting the little one I had from room to room. It has come in handy with the wildfire smoke.

I had a goal this year to spend less money on Amazon, and I’ve succeed for normal household purchases by mostly switching to Target. I’ve failed because I’ve started using Amazon for groceries (Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods). The prices are generally much better than Instacart and I’ve had a lot fewer issues with the orders. I’m not happy with this, but I don’t see myself doing my own grocery shopping again any time soon. This is mostly due to time rather than the virus – I’d rather pay for delivery tips than spend time shopping. That said, one of my big problems with Amazon is/was their lack of quality control / counterfeit control on products (and reviews), so I guess I’ve removed that annoyance from my life. Using Target for similar items, I just collect those little one-off items in my cart until I’ve got enough for free shipping, then place an order.

House Projects

New roof! New whole house attic fan installed! The roof was done blazingly fast due to the weird weather threatening possible rain. The new roof is much better ventilated, and the heat waves gave us an opportunity to test out the fan a few times. It works great, except for the fact that it is useless when the air quality is too poor to open the windows.

We are thinking about how to improve home efficiency, both for heating and cooling. We’re not ready to pull the trigger on any cooling system (aside from our portable evaporative cooler). Windows are the likely next step, followed by additional insulation in the flooring. T did the bedrooms last year (great for overnight warmth), but the main living area is not done. Additional wall insulation in the main living area would help in the summers, but won’t happen this year. Ultimately, a heat pump and solar might be the way to go, but that is long term.


As predicted, this was light for August, but I need to make a plan going forward. My monthly donations continued, so at least there is something.


My new project ran into some hiccups, but they may largely work out OK for me. It does add some uncertainty if the project will continue beyond early spring, but I’m surprisingly calm about all of this.

My long term project has been going really really well. We just entered another new phase, and I’m in a leadership role for this phase, which is kind of cool. My role on this will wrap up in April, after 6 long years. I’m excited for what is next. It isn’t totally clear what that will be, but there are a variety of projects, and some infrastructure around dealing with short gaps in projects.


This month LO started saying a lot of adjectives, narrating what is happening: “Running!” “Walking!” “Kicking!” (NO, LO, please don’t kick mommy!) She also has added a few questions to her repertoire: “Is it?” when she is in search of a toy or book. “Happened?” when something isn’t as she left it. Very much mimicking the questions we ask her.  She has a solid concept of what “two” is, and if she has one of something, she’ll often ask for another by saying “two!” She can (inconsistently) count items up to five. She likes doing shadows in her room with the flashlight. She loves doing art at school. She likes music and doing hand actions with songs. We also just transitioned her from a crib to a toddler bed, and that is going better than expected!

So, our little family is still doing OK. My parents and siblings are also doing OK, as is my extended family. I’m getting sad wondering about when we will be able to see them, and how we could make it happen. I just don’t know.

July Wrap Up

August 5, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

The major money news this month is that we started the process of a refinance! I looked at refinancing into a 15 or 20 year mortgage, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on a 15 year and the rate on the 20 year was not any better. So, we’re refinancing back into a 30-year mortgage at 2.75%, although I fully expect we can pay it off much sooner if we so choose. We did have to bring cash to the table – not to cover closing costs (it was “no cost” or covered by lender credits) but to get the mortgage to a specific threshold that resulted in lower rates. Our month payment is dropping by about $700/month, but we are sinking tens of thousands of cash in. We’ll coast with the lower payment and rebuild our cash, although we did have more cash on hand than we need to anyway. It is only a slight discount from our previous rate, but still too good to pass up.

Our net worth is fine, and hit a new high, which seems like such a disconnect with the world at large. I’m not sure what to think at this point. We are still so far from many goals, but we have more than I can properly comprehend.


July was our first month of the return to daycare, and it has made our COVID-19 life much less stressful on a day-to-day basis than before. My job has been intensely busy, so having access to child care has been a life saver. Our county numbers are not great, nor terrible. We are still basically not leaving the house except for walks and to bring LO to daycare, occasionally picking up takeout. On the other hand, having LO in daycare brings a different kind of stress, worry and uncertainty. It is a no-win situation, but we made a choice.

Local schools have announced distance learning only, which I understand and basically support – I don’t think they can reopen safely right now. The whole situation is frustrating, even though we aren’t yet in the school system. I’m not yet sure how I can help, but I’m trying to see if PTAs or other organizations are looking for monetary donations to… help? I’m not sure what I can do.


Again, I haven’t had time to examine my transactions. Food spending is still up, I’m sure. Travel spending is non-existent, but I didn’t budget much. Our daycare bill finally dropped to toddler rates (which is still very very expensive).

House Projects

Nothing major this month. Some landscaping cleanup. Next month is the new roof, which I’m excited about! It should help a lot with ventilation in our home, especially after we add a whole house attic fan. We don’t have air conditioning, and it is mostly fine. However, if we have too many hot days in a row, the house just doesn’t cool down in the evenings.

New windows are on hold, since we are using a bunch of cash to get our refinance going. We still might pursue them in about 6-12 months, otherwise we’ll do them in about 2 years (original plan).


LO is getting to be such a big kid. She has had a few sputtering of sentences, and is generally a really good communicator. She also is starting to go through a major “dad” phase, sometimes pointing at me and saying “Mom. Go!” and asking me to leave the room. Rude! She’s very physical, likes running and climbing. She learned how to jump. She’s still sleeping well, and is in fact going down for naps and night time with much less fuss than before. We’re considering the transition to a toddler bed, but not ready to pull that trigger yet. She surprised me by counting to 5, but isn’t so interested in learning the ABC song. She knows many letters, but not all.


As I mentioned, this is an ongoing category, but probably light for July and August. All that I have is my monthly donations, combined with abject horror at the ongoing fascism in Portland (and everywhere).


The culmination of over 5 years of work occurred this past month! Everything went smoothly. It isn’t the end, but it is the beginning of a markedly different new phase. The project had so many ups and downs, but I’m glad that I stuck it out.

My newer project has been on the back burner, but is entering its first milestone review this month. I haven’t done the work up to my standards, but I hope it is good enough.

June Wrap-up

July 6, 2020

My feelings aren’t all that different than last month, but it is becoming the the new normal. I will proceed with my monthly update. A few new categories have appeared.

Net Worth and Money News

Our net worth fully recovered last month, and our investible assets hit a new milestone. I’ve been toying with a refinance, but the only way to beat our current rate is to refinance into a 15 year mortgage. It is pretty tempting, but I just can’t pull the trigger.


Not sure what “Phase” we are in here. Masks are mandatory for adults in all situation s, except outside when you can maintain 6′ or 30′ (it is unclear which). Curbside retail is open. Daycare was reopened for all (not just essential workers) early/mid-June. Our daycare took a few weeks to transition from Emergency Care to regular care (at reduced capacity and some new protocols). We started July 1st. Cases are rising, so I have a little apprehension… but am greatly comforted by the fact that kids don’t seem to get it very frequently, nor are they generally vectors.

My work still dictates that everyone who can work from home continues to do so until January 2021 (at least). There will be a phase of my project where I’ll need to go in for specific things, but we are not there. Our director has (at least 4 times now) cited that they are looking forward to offering a quiet space for those with dependent care challenges, and it enrages me each time. As if the problem has been the NOISE in my house…. not the fact that I have to be hands-on parenting for hours during the normal work day. It is a well meaning offer and may provide help to someone with a stay-at-home spouse or other in-home childcare. And, they can’t really solve my problem. I get why he brings this up since he can “solve” that. Still, it enrages me, and the fact that he keeps bringing it up makes him see out of touch (and he probably is out of touch honestly).

T and I are still staying home, and self-isolating. We made an exception and had two play dates with a family with a kid LOs age, who had been able to self-isolate to a similar level. These ceased now that we are in daycare since we are no longer a closed bubble.

I’m at a loss for what to think about COVID on a scale any broader than my own home. The US response has been horrible, but I’m tired of news stories reporting absolute cases instead of per capita cases and/or per capita trends. It is very confusing, although the per capita numbers do also depict our failure. Similarly, looking at entire states instead of counties is not very informative.

House Projects

Not a lot was done this month, aside from placement of more rocks for landscaping. There was a lot of planning done. We’ve booked the new roof (August?) and are also considering moving forward our timeline to replace our original windows to this year. The roof quotes came in at roughly $20k, $25k, and $30k all-in (new gutters, permits, etc.). Windows came in around $15-20k (includes several big sliders), plus some totally unreasonable estimate of “about $20k for the big slider and $5k per window”. Labor costs still seem as high as ever.

It maybe isn’t the best year to drop $45k on home projects, so we’ll see about the windows. The roof was something I was already willing to move forward on, despite the crazy politics / pandemic / dumpster fire. The windows were next on the list, and our last “high priority” major upgrade. (Exterior paint is on the horizon.) I don’t know. We could wait and see if there are furloughs, but I’m not sure that would affect our decision.


I’m going to skip a monthly breakout this month and provide rambles. We did not pay for daycare for June, but will for July. That is a total of 3 months of daycare reprieve, partially offset by the need for additional developmental toys.

Our overall charity budget has to increase, because I set up recurring monthly donation to support racial justice that matches my original charity budget. And I still care about other causes. Money is my easiest default, though I don’t think it is enough.

Food spending is still high, with limited effort to keep it down. Perhaps some attention can be paid now. I’m still paying a premium for grocery delivery, and probably will continue to do so. It is a big time saver.


IT IS BUSY, and going to get worse. There are two overlapping crescendos of work, one peaking mid/late July and the other peaking early August. I’ve done my best to offload whatever I can, but it is still going to be a lot.

BUT IT IS EXCITING STUFF. The culmination of the job that I have been doing since 2015, and then a big milestone for my newer project.

Daycare opening any later than it did would have been a disaster, but probably more so for T, who would have had to act as primary parent while still maintaining some semblance of work.

We had yearly performance reviews. I have a new supervisor this year since they decided to “re-organize”. This actually just means that we have an org chart for the first time, rather than people just being hired (then reporting to) whoever happened to need them at that moment. I like this change. It is still basically flat, with one person in charge of all engineering then one layer of organization of the various engineer types below that. My new supervisor is both the engineering director, and also the lead of the small group I’m in. She is also the first woman supervisor I’ve had since retail days in high school! It was good. I also encouraged her to speak with my Colorado boss, who I’ve worked with much more extensively for much longer, and I knew he’d say positive things. I’m pretty sure there are no merit raises this year, but we did discuss my eventual promotion with no firm timeline. I didn’t push it very hard, given that I’ve been juggling work and childcare for the past three months.


I’m still getting my footing here, but this is a new section. (July and August may be light due to work.) I sent $50 to BLM (national) and $50 to NAACP, recurring monthly. I bought a some books from an area Black owned book store – a copy for me and a copy to give away of 3 kids books and The New Jim Crow. I also watched 13th, although maybe that was last month? I also sent two books to a friend who was requesting diverse kids books for the non-profit she works for.

There were a handful of meetings/discussions organized by young (white) activists at my workplace, whic I participated in. I opted not to push for a leadership role on anything they’ve identified. The actions identified are better suited to other people, and my time is better used in other efforts. But, I did show up and speak up and support, and will continue to do so, and be ready to step in as needed.

Other life stuff

I didn’t talk much about LO yet! She is FANTASTIC. She’s a lot of fun, so many words. She’s started acting out her books. She seems interested in emotions – pointing out surprised faces in books, crying when Llama Llama cries then screeching “Mama! Back!” when we get to the next page. She loves books and loves playing peek-a-boo. It has been so fun to have so much extra time with her, even though it came with the stress of trying to meet job responsibilities.

(No) May Wrap Up

June 2, 2020

I feel confident my readers who are privileged enough to not face systemic racism have already sought out appropriate resources, such as 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice. If you don’t know where to start, choose something from this list, then choose another, and keep going.

I found this open letter to rich white friends thought provoking, and apt for the personal finance and FIRE community. I know I am guilty of hoarding. I know I didn’t do anything special to be so financially rewarded. As a start, I added a recurring monthly donation to NAACP Legal Defense Fund and to Black Lives Matter. I abhor costs that automatically recur monthly, but it seems like a more appropriate commitment than a one time donation. It is not a lot, but it is my step. I also caught up on donations with some one-time contributions to causes related to local poverty and food insecurity. I encourage anyone making financial commitments to share what you are doing. I find it inspiring, not bragging.

Tanja has some thoughtful things to say about our community, as usual.

I can’t write my financial wrap up for May. I have the information, but I don’t really care, and I assume you don’t either. We are doing just fine, and I hope you and your family are too.

April Wrap Up

May 10, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

Our net worth has recovered some, and we are just a hair below we were in December 2019. Most of this is market recovery, plus some normal savings


I updated our spending! March was not much lower than previous months, perhaps even a bit higher. April was lower overall, but some major categories were higher.

Groceries have been more expensive than usual since we’ve been using Instacart. Not only is there a service fee, a delivery fee, and a need for a generous tip, but the grocery prices themselves are inflated from in store prices (this is store dependent). Alcohol spending is up, partially because it is truly up (local craft beer crowlers and wine from our favorite local wine shop) and partially because I generally don’t track alcohol separately unless we buy it separately. Restaurant spending is roughly flat. We are eating out (take out) less frequently, but we are generally spending more per a take out order, and tipping more generously.

The big savings was in childcare for April – they chose not to bill and aren’t seeking donations. I get the impression that this is not the norm for childcare across the country and many people are paying without sending in order to keep their daycare afloat. We continue to spend a modest amount on at home toys, but I’ve been hedging on larger purchass. It appears that local ordinances allow for in-home child care (?), so we may see if we can hire a babysitter / nanny to help out. I can’t keep working at reduced efficiency indefinitely. T could, in theory, take the summer off and then not take summer salary for research. But it would be financially much much better to hire someone to play with LO. We do worry about safety, and introducing an interaction with someone who may not be as strict as we are. We also worry about what happens when daycare does reopen. That opens our circle significantly. I hope we can figure out how to do this, but the lack of long term clarity also makes it hard to figure out what approach to take.

House Projects

There hasn’t been time for projects. T is hoping when teaching is done he’ll have a little time, but I’m requesting we delay any unnecessary major tasks until we have childcare again. We did hang up our sun shade to make our deck more useable in the suddenly warm/hot weather. Also, T continued his minor landscape clean-up and scheduled a few people to give roof quotes now that construction is allowed again.


Work place policies have been generous, with added sick leave and an expectation that many caregivers might be working reduced hours. The only disconnect is that expectations haven’t relaxed a lot. No one cares if I’m a little late on an Internal arbitrary deadline, but in the end, the work has to be done. My leads/managers are nice people who are understanding of the situation, which is there is a toddler at home. At the same time, there are certain deadlines that cannot move, there are no available extra people to help, so… it is what it is.

I admit that I’m not the type of person who can routinely work long hours 7 days a week, at least not anymore. I can do it for shorter periods, but not sustained. I can’t sprint for the length of a marathon. I have no real solution here, but it is frustrating. We started out the shelter-in-place reserving weekends from work, but that quickly became untenable. I worked “all weekend” (during my non-childcare shifts) for a few weekends now, and I’m fighting burnout. Even with this, I’m falling behind on my projects. Not to mention household stuff.

Other life stuff

LO has started having 2x weekly brief Zoom sessions with her daycare teachers. It is nice for her to at least see her old friends and her teachers.

Other than that, not much else is going on. We are hanging in there, and feel lucky that we are in a relatively fortunate position financially. We’re also truly grateful to spend so much extra time with LO.

Pandemic Diary, Week 5

April 27, 2020

This is from about 2 weeks ago. I’m not committing to capturing weekly notes, but I do want a record for myself of life in these weird times. I might post more, but not on any particular schedule.

Day 28 (Monday): (I’m counting from March 16th, since that is when the shelter in place was ordered.) I was on parenting duty most of the morning, had a somewhat low key work call, then was back on parenting through lunch until just before nap. My 1 pm call snuck up on me. It is supposed to be a recurring working meeting that I lead, but I’m not very ready to lead today. It is only with 3 others, so I decide to hold it anyway and check in, since we hadn’t meet in several weeks. We go over status of several items, and walk away with a near term plan, and I move the meeting to be later in the day for future weeks so I don’t have to rush from nap time to a meeting I’m leading. LO sleeps until 4 pm! We do the family walk early, then I work until we break for dinner. I’m still feeling like I’m failing at work, so I do a little more working after LO is in bed.

Day 29 (Tuesday): After coffee and feeding LO, I walk the dog by myself. While he’s doing his business, a coyote starts approaching all casual like, not scared at all. The coyote is still pretty far away down the street, but we high tail it out of there and get home! After an 8-9 am meeting, I am in charge of LO until nap time at 1 pm. It is finally nice out, so we put sunscreen on and go out on the deck. We do bubbles, play with stacking boxes, and sit in the deck chairs and drink water (her) and coffee (me). When we go inside, she has a tantrum about it, pointing at the door and crying. I take her out the front door instead, and we do a stroller walk… which also ends in a tantrum when we arrive home, plus more crying and pointing at the deck. The kid likes to be outside, but I don’t want her to get too much sun.

We play in her room quietly until lunch (leftover chicken tortilla soup, some fruit, some toast). We read/play a bit more after lunch, then it is finally nap time. I make myself lunch and prep for my afternoon meetings. By the time my meetings are over, I’m tired. I still have 45 minutes of work time left in my “shift”, so I stick with it. At 5, we take LO back outside to play with her new water table, which is a big hit. However, a huge tantrum ensues when we have to go in for dinner. It takes a really long time, but eventually T gets her to calm down, and we have dinner. The extended tantrum delayed the whole evening, so it is nearly bedtime. After she goes to bed I answer a few emails – but am too tired to do any serious work requiring brainpower. .

Day 30 (Wednesday): Wednesday is my day to get a lot of work stuff done while T watches LO for most of the day – hooray! I wake up feeling crushed by anxiety, but get started on my day in hopes that making some headway will help my brain. It works pretty well. One meeting is cancelled (yay!) so I power through some more work during that time block. I take a break from 12 – 1 to feed LO lunch and grab some lunch myself. She goes down for her nap easily and the house is quiet for a bit. I continue with my afternoon work, then we all go on a walk, play, eat dinner, do bath time, then LO goes to bed. Due to the sheer amount of time I have blocked off for work on Wednesdays, it feels almost like a “normal” pre-pandemic day.

Day 31 (Thursday): I’m surprised to read something online indicating that we may be eligible for a partial stimulus. I can’t find our tax papers to check, but T confirms a deposit was made into his account. After finding our tax papers, I see that our AGI was lower in 2019 compared to 2018 due to a small amount of unpaid maternity leave, so filing our 2019 taxes early gave us extra money! Wooo! We have again benefited from the ablilty to save a ton of money pretax, lowering our AGI, making us eligible for the stimulus.

I’m on morning duty with LO, nearly until nap time. The Water Wow book is a hit for a while, then we head out on a walk, more playtime, then lunch. T takes over caring for LO just before nap, while I jump into a few calls, then a bit of spreadsheet work. We go on our family walk and decide to get takeout Thai from a local restaurant. It is my first time leaving the house (aside from walks), as T has handled errands so far. I leave a generous tip, and the food is delicious. We get through dinner and bedtime, and I take care of some more work to try to prep for my meeting the next morning.

Day 32 (Friday): I have an 8 am meeting with some Colorado coworkers, with whom I’ve long interacted with mostly via Zoom. I now feel the communication playing field is level since we are ALL on Zoom now.

At 9:30, LO has her first Zoom call! Her daycare teachers randomly set up a zoom session for the class. About 5 other families join, along with her 3 main teachers. She’s a little overwhelmed/shy, but enjoys the songs, the book, and seeing her friends. We are surprised when she exclaims the name of one of her friends when he pops up on the screen. I do not think she could say his name 5 weeks ago when she last saw him! She’s talking so much more.

I have an 11 am meeting, then take over feeding LO and putting her down for her nap. She naps well while we both work. I’m feeling super burnt out by the week and hoping to get enough done to avoid working the weekend. LO is not in a great mood after her nap, getting upset easily. We feed her dinner, and put her down for bed just a few minutes earlier than usual since she seems very tired.


After several weeks, it is starting to feel almost normal to be at home. My work has clarified that we don’t have to take official leave, as long as we are still working each day – even if our hours are reduced. This is great, but there are basically no major tasks that I am able to remove from my plate. I’m strongly avoiding taking on anything new and avoiding meetings that I don’t need to be in. My leads are flexible with deadlines where they can be, but with no end in sight, pushing deadlines only works to a point. We think the local shelter-in-place allows us to hire in home babysitting help, so we’re going to look into that in the future.

March Wrap Up

April 5, 2020

Net Worth and Money News

We are now back to about a July 2019 net worth, with another 8.5% drop. Since we expect steady income for at least the next 6 months (likely longer), we’ve made no changes to our financial plans. We have fair amount of money in cash savings, per usual. Still investing, still maxing out retirement accounts, still plugging along.

Spending Bullets (excluding childcare, mortgage, property taxes and car/home insurance):

I no longer have had time to update my spending on a monthly basis, but do expect to catch up with it at some point.

House Projects

We are just trying to keep on top of the normal things, with no ongoing projects. T did some landscaping clean up work, as usual. I have some hope that life will be normal enough to get a new roof this summer, but we’ll see how things develop. It could wait another year if it must.


Oh, you know, same as so many other working parents who now have kids underfoot. I’m juggling. It is… going. It is not going great, but we are hanging in there.

Here is a snapshot of our weekday schedule. Orange are my meetings, blue are T’s and green is conflicting meetings (fewer than you’d think!). I deleted the meeting titles for privacy reasons (and also, you wouldn’t care). Yellow bars are my work blocks, and T is blue. It helps us to be organized so we can schedule one-off meetings without checking in. Of course, things come up and we deviate as needed, but this has helped us divide up the time relatively fairly.

If the need to stay at home goes on too long, there are some serious implications for my newer project, but the specific outcome is totally unpredictable.

Other life stuff

My family and friends are all still healthy. My mom is a nurse and is still working, so I worry about her. My dad is not working, but financially is OK. My older sister is in IT at an essential business, and still is going in a couple times each week for the parts of her job that can’t be done remotely. Her husband is working remotely for now. My grandpa is staying home. My little sister has always stayed home. I’m not sure the status of her husband. T’s family is mostly all able to be at home too, although his dad’s business is suffering.

It seems California’s early efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 may have been helpful, but it is too early to say much.

LO is amazing, and spending extra time with her is amazing/exhausting. She hasn’t gotten too stir crazy yet. It should warm up soon and we can spend more time outside. I also haven’t gone TOO stir crazy, but the confinement and staying home is definitely noticeable. We’re trying to stay positive, though. The spirit of community in the neighborhood has been lovely to see, and I know we’ll all get through this.

Pandemic Week 2

March 28, 2020

We are still safe and fine.

It truly has been a joy to spend extra time with LO, especially just as her vocabulary and personality is exploding. It can be tiring, but it is also wonderful to have so much extra time with her. To prepare for the quarantine, I selected a few new toys for LO, and we’ve been doling them out. Some neighbors gifted us a used IKEA play kitchen their kids had outgrown, which has been a hit. I purchased a water table with an expiring store credit, but it hasn’t been nice enough to break it out yet.

I’m a person who does better with some predictability, so I put together a schedule for weekdays. LO is too young to entertain herself, so T and I divided up childcare responsibilities during the hours of 8 am – 5 pm, taking care to deconflict our meetings and other commitments. Assuming LO naps 1.5hrs/day, we each get ~26 hours of work during this time block. Adding in evening / weekend work I can hit my target of 32 hours. I plan to use paid leave to cover the rest, although it is unclear if that is necessary since I am salaried exempt. My deadlines aren’t moving, so I’m stressed about that, but 40 hours is not going to happen, at least not if we are in this for the long haul. We take from 5pm to 7:30 pm as family time, which is also when we get basic daily chores done (cook dinner, dishes, dog walking, baths). It’s been working OK. We are a little flexible with the schedule, but it is a great starting point.

People have started actually turning the video feature on during some of our work meetings in order to try to enhance connection and maintain some culture. There seem to be varying levels of understanding about having a small child at home and trying to work. I know I’m not the only one, so it is surprising how the issue still seems to be somewhat unspoken/hidden so far – at least on one of my projects.

We were able to get grocery delivery, including whole milk for LO. I have mixed feelings about relying on delivery services and the workers – but ultimately it seemed like the best choice at the time. Many items are still sold out or low stock, but we have what we need. Instacart workers are planning a strike, and I support that choice. Companies need to pay the workers better, even if they just pass the costs onto the end customer.

Our net worth is plummeting, just like everyone else’s net worth. We’re buying into the market through our monthly paycheck retirement contributions. We are still millionaires. That would be a sad benchmark to dip below, even if meaningless, so I am sort of aware of it.

Daycare charged us for the 2.5 weeks closure during March, then suspended tuition for April until they reopen. At first I was relieved, but am also having second thoughts. Staff are working from home on a limited basis (professional development) and using a special extra paid leave – but the extra leave is limited to about 3 weeks. Due to their association with one of our employers, we know they won’t go out of business. So far, staff are being paid… But I’m not sure how long they can pay staff. Anyway, we’ll see how long the closure lasts, and if this policy holds. I also can’t really see paying for 6+ months of childcare I can’t use, but maybe it would be the right thing to do. I really don’t know.

The news is infuriating, watching the government propose actions to help corporations while leaving little for individuals. Maybe they landed somewhere sensible – I haven’t looked into the details of what was passed. The one-time cash payments for many are good, but the enhancements to unemployment seem more critical. There are no perfect solutions, but there has to be something more sensible than off-the-rails capitalism and little protection for the average worker.

I seriously wonder if America will come through this. No matter what actions are taken, this pandemic will result in both severe economic costs and lives lost. It will be easy pit sides against one another: one saying the economic cost of countermeasures was too great, and the other saying the loss of life was too great due to government inaction. We can expect bad actors to take this as a convenient opportunity to further manipulate public emotion to destabilize our country. We need to stay aware of this.

Now that it has been nearly two weeks, I’m getting a little cabin fever, despite our multiple walks daily. I’m sure I’ll be fine, but it is definitely different.