This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning, at no extra cost to you, we may earn a commission, or miles and points from the companies mentioned in this post.
Annnnnnnd we’re back! For at least one post. lol jk. (hopefully)
So much has changed since my last post in April! Of 2019. *face palm* But I feel justified in my absence as the most important change was the birth of our precious, (practically) perfect daughter. As the greatest human who’s ever lived, she’s kind of a big deal.
It’s not that I don’t have the free time to write, it’s just that I have a hard time doing it. And I spent the majority of 2020 being far too anxious to write anything. I tried multiple, multiple times to write out my thoughts and opinions regarding the global pandemic and our public health crisis from my ICU registered nurse point of view (what do I know, I’m just an effing medical professional), but I would end up so angry I couldn’t ever finish. I’ll try not to make this post too politically charged and won’t share my most polarizing opinions, but suffice it to say we Warckens believe in science (covid), and last November we voted for common sense and decency, not the biggest crybaby, most pathetic loser on the planet. Sorry, did those adjectives sound like opinions? Nah, feels like facts to me.
So what have we been up to?
We had a baby. We traveled a lot. Our investment and early retirement plans didn’t change. Covid hit. My job sucked but personally we were, and are, okay. Greg’s airline job was frozen indefinitely.
We are classic rule followers and delayed gratifiers, and remain happy to follow CDC guidelines and avoid people who don’t. We did not go to North Dakota to help farm, just stayed in Arizona.
I got knocked up in December. I got vaccinated while pregnant and breastfeeding our daughter, so hopefully both babes will have some protection. Greg got both his vaccines. Neither of us experienced any adverse side effects from the vaccine and we have not received any Pfizer messages from Bill Gates. But we did get our free Krispy Kreme doughnuts!
I took a covid crisis contract for eight weeks earlier this year, then another 13 week seasonal contract. After this we’ll both take -aternity leave again. Our plan is to go to North Dakota to deliver baby (no, we’re not finding out gender again), but that depends on the covid sitch. I really don’t feel like going anywhere with a bunch of hillbillies who don’t believe in science. We’ll hunker in where everybody wears a mask (Cheers theme) and continue to save our money and wait for the world to open up again.
We don’t live in fear but out of respect for our health and safety, as well as that of the entire human race, and for viruses that are happy to mop the floor with human remains. I’ve seen it. I know.
The end. Thanks for reading!
Way too long; read anyway version:
Well, hey there! Thanks for staying!
After our sweet girl was born, Greg and I both took five months of -aternity leave to travel the country, visiting our friends and family to show off the new babe. We flew to Oklahoma when she was six weeks, then road tripped north from Arizona through Colorado, where we flew to North Dakota when she was three months, then continued up through Wyoming and Montana, where we flew to visit friends in Alaska when she was four months, on our way to North Dakota for the fall harvest.
That may sound really fun, and it was, but it was a lot of running around and our baby was never on any kind of schedule that whole time. I honestly wonder if we did some lasting damage on her development by never putting her down for consistent naps or having a consistent bedtime in the same bed. When I look back at pictures of her as a baby I think she looks really unhealthy – pale and scrawny. Now at 2 years(!) she’s still little, but rosy, and appears to be a happy, healthy little person. Still, I wonder.
Note: She is absolutely on a nap and bedtime schedule now, and I would never do the no-schedule thing again. I would also never drag a baby all over the country to see other people again. If you want to see her, you can come to us. Provided you’re fully vaccinated against covid-19. Otherwise you can see her from a distance, outside, and I’m not kidding.
Also note: As she is her own human being with emotions and opinions I don’t think it’s right to share her name or identifying photos of her face on the public interwebs without her express permission. Seeing as how she hasn’t given it (mostly because I haven’t asked her) you’ll just have to trust she has an awesome, old family name and is real easy on the eyes. If you want to see our adventures, but not her face so much, go on over to @thehardlywarckens on Instagram and punch that follow button on the nose.
After our mega road trip Greg helped on the family farm, as he has been doing every fall since he graduated high school. And I went back to my usual seasonal position at the local health department giving flu shots and doing data entry and like, walking to the post office and eating lunch at the senior citizen centers. #dope. We are fortunate that we still have never had to put Baby Girl? Little Warcken? in childcare. If Greg wasn’t farming, he would take her. If he was, the health department ladies were kind enough to let me take her to work with me where she became (in my mind) the number one reason people came in to get vaccinated: baby snugs! (Remember when you could snuggle someone else’s baby?!) If I had to go out of town for work and Greg was farming, helloooo mother in law. Those were the salad days.
After harvest 2019 we went back to Tucson and my usual seasonal ICU position. Greg went back to his usual part time subsidiary airline job. Said subsidiary airline job started taking away flight benefits and got real lame. So he applied, and was hired for, a seasonal (read:dream) job with the parent airline at San Francisco International (SFO) working summers and major holidays. He quit his subsidiary job. I worked to save as much as possible before we all moved to the Bay Area for this summer, where BG Warcken and I would become ladies of leisure while Papa worked.
Cue: March 2020
Greg’s dream airline job was frozen until further notice. He became full-time stay at home Papa. He got an email a few months later saying it would most likely be two or three years before they start hiring again. Gall dern, kick the cat.
I kept working in the ICU, which was the last place I wanted to be during a new (I’m over the word ‘novel’. I’m also over ‘ramping up’, ‘unprecedented’ and ‘Trump’) global pandemic. My anxiety and fear were through the roof and I hated leaving my family to put myself in danger for something that was killing healthcare professionals my age all over the world. I cried a lot.
I didn’t let my tears and anxiety derail my financial plans. When the stock market started crashing I would walk onto the unit every night clapping and announcing how much the S&P had dropped, and encourage everyone around me to increase their 401k contributions. For those of you I convinced, check those retirement accounts and pat yourself on the back for being so strong and brave in the face of a rece$$ion!
Now… please don’t think for a second I was too busy crying and investing to appreciate the struggles so, so many other humans were, and are continuing to go through. I am a human with a big ol’ soft heart first and foremost. This squishy heart still hurts for every un/expected death in 20/21. Every miscarriage. Every cancer diagnosis. Every new illness or injury. Every job loss. Every hate crime. Every natural disaster. Every social or racial injustice (read: murder). Every breakup or divorce… What a shit year+ this has been. Every bad thing has been so much worse and I’m sorry if it sucked and/or continues to suck real hard for you. I hope you have taken advantage of every government program available to you, that you have family and friends who can help, and that the world, our country, and this economy goes back to pre-covid “normal” real soon.
From the beginning, Greg and I made it our collective goal not to get, or give, covid. We are still utterly covid-conscious and will continue to socially distance and wear our masks in spite of both of us being fully vaccinated. It’s been well over a year since we’ve seen anyone in either of our families, aside from my sister who lives in the same state, and is a fellow believer and a follower of CDC guidelines. We haven’t eaten in a restaurant since March 13, 2020 (not that anyone’s keeping track). You couldn’t pay us to go into a public building without a mask. We see our friends outside. We are happy to live in a city that still has a mask mandate. We have no plans to fly as a family anytime soon. I hear the States are pretty cool – we look forward to seeing more of them.
What else is new?
In 2020 we:
–Avoided all humans and tent-camped a lot around southern Arizona and dreamed about buying a tiny trailer. I thought about a pop-up, or an A-frame, then we got serious about buying a Casita. I even priced out a new one, if you can believe that. Our friends owned one so Greg and I started picking their brains about it – what they liked, what they didn’t like. Eventually my girlfriend was like “Do you just want to buy ours?” Hard yes.
–Created a will and trust! Our children are officially trust fund babies! And we are officially adults.
–(I) started wearing Preparation H (generic) under my eyes to avoid looking so… dead all the time.
–(I) stopped working night shift! And took a 15%, or $8.25/hr pay cut to do so. But I worked an extra contract and made more by myself in 2020 than Greg and I ever have combined. #femalebreadwinner #sugarmama For those of you who think we’ve been ballin’ this whole time, 2020 was the first year we broke $100k. It’s also the first year I worked > 8 months since 2014. *shudder*
–Maxed out my 401k, Greg’s HSA, and both our traditional IRAs, and put another ~ $28k into our brokerage account. In total we invested $63,409.18, or 50.3% (who loves spreadsheets?!) of our pre-tax income into the stock market. What we didn’t spend on our monthly expenses, we used to pad our high yield savings accounts. If you lost your job last year, or are maybe thinking about something more stable/lucrative, allow me to talk you into nursing, and especially travel/seasonal nursing. And also investing.
–Had plans to meet our Australian friends in Greece, but then… To get back at the world for our missed opportunity, I increased our travel savings from $600/mo to $1000/mo. When we get to travel again, we’re going to travel long and hard (the way your mother likes it). Note: Since we use so many miles and points and free hotel stays, this year I decided $12,000/yr on travel was overkill so I decreased to $833/mo, or $10,000/hr. Grow, baby, grow.
–Thoroughly enjoyed Taylor Swift’s TWO surprise albums, the second of which has a song named after our Little Warcken (or so I tell myself). I can now die happy! Just not from covid.
–(I) applied for nursing jobs in Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea. I got kicked out of South Korea right away, but still waiting to hear back about the others. #fingerscrossed
–Sold my beloved 2006 Subaru Outback to a friend. We had a great ten year run with her, we just outgrew her. We put all the money we made off the Subaru into maintenance on our 2007 Toyota Tundra (pictured).
–(I) finished my contract at the end of September, then took off to mentally recover for the rest of the year. See above paragraph for allowing me to talk you into travel/seasonal nursing and investing.
–Took a socially-responsible road trip through the covid-infested south to pick up our “new” 1995 Casita Liberty from our friends in Nashville, TN, who are also fellow believers and followers of CDC guidelines. Are you seeing a pattern here? She is also a medical professional and he is also a stay at home dad, so we all deemed each other low risk and committed to combining our families for a few days. It was so nice seeing other people, and especially seeing our daughter interacting with other kids. “They’re little, like me!”
–Took nearly a month to get back to Arizona, camping in national and state parks in our new trailer, summiting nine state high points, and taking our girl to see the ocean. We didn’t see any other family or friends, and avoided all strangers. The riskiest thing we did was use public restrooms and we never did that without a mask, except when we showered of course. Get ready for pictures.
–Got back to Tucson in time to vote by mail (eat my shorts, reTrumplicans) and watch the absolute shit show, joke of an election. Hi, this is a democracy. Deal with it.
–On election night, when it looked as though our standing president would try to turn our country in the dictatorship of his dreams, I reached out to the ministers of health in Australia and New Zealand, and started researching jobs there and in Canada. Unfortunately you have to have a Bachelor’s degree to nurse in any of those countries so my Associate’s has finally come up to bite me in the ass. Can I just come pick fruit or something?
–Took another road trip to northern AZ, and southern UT and NV in the Casita, hiking and camping in national and state parks, and avoiding other humans. We were on our way to camp at Death Valley National Park when I got an email saying California was going on lockdown again and D.V. campgrounds would be closed until further notice. Cool, back to Tucson where we watched holiday movies almost every night and I spent Christmas and NYE with Greg for just the second time in our relationship. And it was just great. And I got pregnant. #hallmarkmovies #loljknah #scrooged
–Bought a 2012 Toyota Prius hatchback. We’re officially a Toyota family! And get 45 mpg bebopping around town.
Glad that’s over. This year we:
–(I) did not go back to my usual seasonal position, but instead took a much higher-paying crisis contract here in Tucson. It was night shift, and I was contracted for 48 hrs/wk, and also in my first trimester, and it was all covid all the time, so… mentally, physically, and emotionally it was pretty terrible. But financially, I made just over $50,000 in eight weeks and maxed out Greg’s HSA and both our traditional IRAs for the year, so… I’m never working nights again. Write that down.
–Took a month off to recover and regroup as a family unit, with lots more camping in the Casita and hiking and going to the zoo and congratulating ourselves on a daily basis that we spend our winters in southern Arizona.
–(I) took a 13-week seasonal (day!) position at the same hospital I did the crisis contract, which happens to be the sister hospital of the one where I have been working. Huge pay cut from the crisis contract, but a $10/hr raise from when I left the organization last September. #winning
–May not max out my 401k this year, as I wasn’t eligible for one during my crisis contract and my new contract contributions are limited to 50% of my pre-tax income. LAME. Why should my employer care how much of *my* income I contribute to *my* retirement? I’m in my second trimester now and feeling great but have no plans to work any overtime (as of today). I’ll contribute my 50% and hope for the best.
–Will take off after this contract is over at the end of June for another -aternity leave. Our plan is to deliver baby #2 in North Dakota and stay for harvest, and not work again until next year.
–Are hoping Greg will be hired again for his dream job with his dream airline, wherever that may be. We are location independent! *When* he gets the job I’m hoping to retire from ICU nursing, and especially 12 hour shifts, and become the stay at home. Or part time stay at home, part time/prn post-op recovery RN, maybe. Or like, a reservation agent for Hilton. Or a cashier at Costco. Or a part… time… cocktail server in Vegas. Whatever contributes to the life plan.
Everything is covid-dependent, of course. And we’re just fine with that. Trust me when I say WE WANT TO GO BACK TO NORMAL AS MUCH AS ANYONE. We want to eat chips and salsa they make right there at the table. We want to fly to Maui and go whale watching. We want to go into a movie theater and eat tubs of popcorn covered in futter. We want to see our friends and family in different states. We want to jump on a plane and go to Prague on a whim. We want to hear different languages and eat at different McDonald’s and hike different mountains and see polar bears, and orangutans, and elephants in the wild.
But… we also realize all those thing are just *wants* and all we really *need* is the health and safety of our little family unit. Greg and I want to be hiking into our 70s. We can’t be fucking around with covid. We want to watch our babies grow up and become astronauts or ornithologists or Walmart greeters. We want to see them get married if they choose or have their own babies if they want. We want to actually see the world go back to “normal”. Those good times are coming, we just have to have the patience, and the common sense, and the decency to see it through. We do, and remain happy to do our parts. We hope you’ll do the same.
From an ICU nurse perspective: Wear your mask, keep your distance, and get vaccinated.
From a human perspective: Don’t be an ignorant prick.
That about sums it up!
I have a lot more to say about a variety of topics (cloth diapers, early potty training, our new retirement plan, our environmentally friendly baby, etc.) so stay tuned for more posts! That hopefully won’t take another two years to write. *second face palm*
Stay safe out there, y’all! Healthy, wealthy, and wise.