Budgeting wins and challenges lately
Hello, June!

May coffee date


Hi, friends! I'm sipping a mid-morning iced coffee and marveling that it's the last full day of school for my kids. By the time you read this our summer will have begun! It's getting really warm (in the 90ºs and next week we'll break into the 100ºs) but I'm still enjoying a short mid-day walk and staying positive in the heat.

A few notes from May...


May goals review

+ Have a summer summit with Chris. We've had good conversations about summer, have put some additional activities on the calendar, and are feeling as ready as we can be. We've chatted about our screen time policy, the push back we imagine getting, and how we'll handle bored kids stuck inside. In short: try to have stuff planned, get the boys to brainstorm screen-free activities, and also know that being bored and grumpy is okay sometimes too.

+ Various tasks for our school's PTSO website which I maintain. Yes.

+ Keep our library hauls fresh. Pretty much, although we're currently due for a refresh.

+ Stick to our grocery budget. We stayed under our grocery budget this month and in general had a less spendy month which feels good.



Chris is being promoted to full professor!

This was the highlight of the month for us and will be a highlight of 2024. We're so proud of Chris! If you aren't familiar with how academic promotions work, here's the rundown: for tenure track professors you can submit a tenure packet after six years at the university demonstrating all of your scholarly contributions as well as teaching and service. Chris did this in 2013 and was promoted to a tenured professor, or associate professor, in 2014. The same week that we found out we were pregnant with Cedric!

Then, after six or more additional years you can put together another packet and this time need to demonstrate that you have made an even bigger impact to your discipline and are recognized as an important scholar by your academic peers. This packet is submitted and then reviewed over the next full year. On Thursday, May 9 Chris finally had his meeting and got the great news that he's being promoted to full professor. Now he'll have the title of just "professor."

We felt pretty confident about the decision and so the day before I pulled together a little surprise celebration. When Chris walked inside from his meeting in the backyard studio the kids and I were waiting together with his parents, and we had balloons, party hats, party blowers, and champagne. Plus, I arranged to have some of Chris's closest friends on Facetime so they could congratulate him in person. Chris said that the celebration made the day so celebratory and memorable and I'm so glad that I made it happen.

To continue our celebrations, we went out for a day date that weekend and budgeted, grabbed dinner, and played games. And then we hosted a celebratory happy hour for Chris at Fate Brewing this past weekend. Being promoted to full professor is a big deal and I'm glad we took the time to commemorate the occasion.



Another lovely weekend in Portland

I spent a weekend in Portland this month with dear friends and I love getting to spend so much time in that city. This is my fourth trip already just since 2021! During our weekends we walk and talk all through pretty neighborhoods, along the water, and in forests, eat amazing food, and drink all the coffee. My friends also have the coziest basement "suite" as I call it and I always sleep so well while I'm there.

A few Portland recs that I'll share with you, mostly in the Sellwood area, are:

+ Stellina. The wedge salad and pera pizza and standout faves.

+ Sebastiano's. For great sandwiches and Italian fare.

+ Grand Central Bakery. For great coffee, pastries, lunch, and breakfast.

+ Montelupo. Get your slice of foccacia pizza topped with burrata and/or arugula to win at life.

+ Sweatpea's. Used kids clothing shop where I always find something adorable for Maeve.

+ Cafe Rowan. The avocado toast is like a tasty and beautiful garden.

+ Muji. This store was so fun – the paper and pens! – and reminded me of a Japanese Ikea.

I'd love to know some of your Portland faves if you have some. I can't wait to be back!


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Maycember is nuts...what can I learn for next year?

Yep, May was nuts. This year felt the busiest ever with the addition of a band concert and preschool performance, plus so many birthday parties lately, my volunteer commitment for our town's public school funding, and a few social events as well. This month I've felt surprised any time Chris and I are both home for the evening.

Things that helped and that I want to remember for next year include:

+ Writing out my intentions each week. This helped me focus on what I needed to do and could get done, and gave me direction when I felt overwhelmed.

+ Intentionally being off my phone. Some days were definitely phone-heavy but any day that I was on my phone very little always felt less hectic.

+ Holding off on putting new things on the calendar if possible. Does coordinating and calendaring also exhaust you? I get quite overwhelmed when I have anything outstanding that I need to plan but my schedule already feels full. In May I think it's perfectly fine to say, "This time of year is so busy! Can I touch base with you when school is over and we'll put something on the calendar?"

+ Have at least two go-to babysitters. We have needed a lot of babysitting help this month and I'm so thankful that in addition to family babysitting help we have two great sitters who have really good availability. I've also set up a wonderful "mother's helper" babysitting situation for Maeve where once a week a sweet 13 year old comes and plays with Maeve while I get an extra two hours of time, usually to attend to household things, but sometimes I take a minute to put my feet up as well!

+ And finally, pre-plan some dates! In the midst of the busyness it's so nice to already have a date to look forward to and a babysitter booked (so we aren't coordinating one more thing last minute).


Exciting adulting things

I get sort of jazzed about preventative maintenance (and the same with preventative healthcare!). I love checking a box now that I know will save me money and stress later. Two household maintenance things that we took care of in May were having our dryer vent cleaned and having our annual air conditioner check. These weirdly bring me a lot of joy.

Did you know you should be having your dryer vent cleaned regularly? It really helps the dryer run more efficiently and in extreme cases the build up could be a fire hazard. How often depends on your house and dryer but for us we need to do it about every three years. We have an amazing handyman who has very reasonable rates and so I also took satisfaction in paying half of what a bigger company had quoted me for the service.

We also have our air conditioner checked every year before the real heat sets in. It seems like every year we hear of a friend whose a/c goes out in the middle of the night and they're scrambling to get to a hotel and then are at the mercy of whatever a repair person is going to charge. We have a go-to person who never tries to sell us anything and usually just gives us an a-okay. Next year we'll need to plan for a fan replacement (about $900) but I'd much rather be anticipating that cost than surprised by that it in the middle of the summer.

And with those exciting appliance updates, I'll wrap things up. :)


What did May bring for you, friends?