Well now. Life has been busy and it has been full of many things, but blogging has not been one of them. Where have I been?
In August, I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl weighing in at 7 lbs, 8oz and 20 inches long. She is now over 13 lbs and almost 4 months old. She is amazing and the light of my life. I took 12 weeks of maternity leave, mostly because I qualified for it under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and they had to let me take it. My office was understanding and didn’t give me a hard time about taking that much time, which I appreciate. But because I am a federal government employee I have zero paid maternity leave, which means that I cobbled together all my saved annual leave and sick leave as well as many leave without pay (LWOP) days. Essentially, I worked it out to get about half of each paycheck over those three months. I swear I planned better but I had to use a lot of my sick days before the baby came because I went into labor at 33 and a half weeks (it stopped on its own, phew!) and after that was on partial bed rest due to elevated blood pressure. So I was home several days using sick leave and then spent 5 more weeks working part time and bringing in a part-time paycheck. My baby was born super healthy at 38 and a half weeks and I am eternally grateful that I was able to make it that long with all the doctor mandated resting (its actually hard for me to rest what with this Type A personality). But our budget took some serious blows since we burned all our savings really quickly due to a lot of expensive repairs for my car and only bringing in partial paychecks for an extra 5 weeks longer than planned. We weren’t sure how we were gonna pay the mortgage and buy groceries some weeks but it worked out, it always does. I do not regret the decision to stay home with my little one for that time. I went back to work when she was 12 weeks old and she started daycare full time then as well. We had some bumps along the daycare road and switched providers after a month due to a serious safety issue, but she seems to be flourishing at her new daycare and this mama feels comforted knowing that she is safe, loved, and learning all day.
Also in August, the day after we got home from the hospital in fact, Baton Rouge experienced a historic flood. Our neighborhood flooded and the water rose several feet on our street. We were very, very lucky because our house is built up on a hill away from the street so the water crept up our yard but never made it to the house. Several of our friends lost everything and had 5 feet of water in their homes. My husband’s car was flooded and so he got his wish of a new (to us) car. He had been wanting a new car for a long time since his was 20 years old but it still ran really well and we didn’t have any cash to outlay for it, plus the baby was the primary savings goal. Well, that didn’t work out as planned. We got a check from the insurance company and we bought a new used car. We took out a loan on top of the insurance money so that we could afford a nicer, newer, more reliable car. That’s all well and good and the car is nice, plus my husband can now drive for Uber since the car has four doors and is within the last 7 years. So that’s some nice added income that my husband is able to make which pays his car note plus daycare. But overall I think it was a poor financial decision on our part. We paid way too much money for a nice car because he loves the car (ugh, why are people so attached to cars?!). If it was me, I would have bought a much cheaper car. But that’s me and marriage is all about compromises. We argued about the car in a standoff for about two to three weeks. Finally we just went and bought the car and he’s happy and I’m grumbling, but at least we have a nice reliable car that fits the carseat and has more room. I still don’t think it was a sound financial decision, but hey, that’s what we did. Nobody’s perfect, especially me. I’m not hating on him, I just would have made a different choice if it was just me but we both had to make the decision and compromise. Overall I am happy with the way it worked out, I just think we bought too much car and would have preferred to have spent less.
In October I went up to visit my family in Washington, DC for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. It was great to see my family and celebrate this milestone with my folks. I got to meet my niece (my sister had her baby 6 weeks before my daughter was born) and the cousins got to meet for the first time. I also got to see my other sister who lives in the UK and I only get to see about once a year or so. It was really great for my daughter to meet her Aunts and one of her Uncles (her Uncle in the UK couldn’t make the trip) as well as a lot of Aunts and Uncles on my husband’s side. She visited with both sets of grandparents which was a treat and met her PopPop (my husband’s step-dad) for the first time. We had a lovely though entirely too short trip and she was a doll on the flights, just snoozing away at 3000 feet.
I went back to work at the end of October and we celebrated Thanksgiving with extended family here in Louisiana which was really fun. Now we are gearing up for hosting Christmas at our house for the first time which is really exciting, though sad that we aren’t able to travel to DC to be with our parents and siblings there because we have zero extra money and cannot afford plane tickets. We have driven to DC over the past couple of years but it’s a two day drive (also with a baby this time so add a lot more stops) and I have only three days of annual leave that I could take from work, so we would spend twice as much time driving than visiting with family and its not worth it. We will plan to go to DC in January when flights are cheaper instead and hopefully we can scrounge up some cash by then. So that’s a whole lot of #reallife and #realmoney for ya’ll.