A Week In Nashville, TN, On A Joint $197,599 Income

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a senior clinical specialist who makes $114,199 per year ($197,599 when combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on dry shampoo.
Occupation: Senior Clinical Specialist
Industry: Medical
Age: 36
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
My Salary: $114,199
My Husband's Salary: $83,400
My Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,900 after taxes
My Husband's Paycheck Amount: $3,475 after taxes, as he's exempt from state taxes
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,439 for a 3-bedroom/2-bath house on five acres for me, husband D., daughter F., one dog, two cats, 13 chickens/ducks
School Loans: $0
Truck Loan: $759
Gutter Guard Bill: $92, 0% interest loan
Utilities: ~$225
Phones: $235
House Cleaner: $303
Daycare: $650
Home & Auto Insurance: $261
Diaper Service: $303
Giving To Planned Parenthood: $30
Netflix & Hulu: $24
Amazon Prime: $119/year
Magazines/Spotify/NYT and WashPo: ~$60/month (shared with family)

Day One

4:30 a.m. — Time to start the day. I have to go to Memphis today, a 3.5-hour drive from where we live. I wash up, get dressed, make a travel mug of pour-over coffee with a splash of half-and-half, and heat up two frozen muffins from Costco. I kiss my little fam goodbye and am on the road by 5:10. I binge The Brain Candy Podcast and stop to fill up my company car with gas ($42.53) and find a nearby Starbucks for a blueberry oatmeal cup and a vanilla blonde-roast latte ($8.34). ($50.87 expensed)
8:45 a.m. — I arrive in Memphis, park at the hospital, and walk through to the inpatient-care unit, where I am due at 9 a.m. on the dot. The plan for this one-day visit is to observe a procedure and meet the staff, as my team realigned last year. I introduce myself to the nurse manager, who introduces me to the nurse I will be observing, and we begin to prepare for the patient procedure.
12:45 p.m. — The patient procedure wraps up successfully. The patient was interested in the training and was super nice to chat with, and the nurse did a great job. I let the nurse wrap up her patient care and charting while I hang out in an adjoining conference space to respond to some emails. I also check in on my group Snapchat with my four best friends from home — we are scattered all over the country, and we've all had babies in the past two years, with four babies born within the span of six months. They have kept me sane, and we have ongoing hourly conversations covering every topic you could imagine.
1:15 p.m. — Gah, hunger! I snack on some Heart Healthy Mix of nuts and dried fruit from Costco that I find in my bag. I chat with another nurse briefly and answer some of his questions, then check in with the nurse manager. She says we are done for today. I wind my way back through the hospital to find my car and head home. More Brain Candy, and when I am caught up, I switch to Pod Save America. If I didn't want to get home in time for dinner and F.'s bedtime, I would grab lunch somewhere in Memphis, but that will have to happen another time.
2:30 p.m. — I pull over at Starbucks and order a Caramel Cloud Macchiato and Swiss-and-ham sandwich. It is sunny and hot, feeling like summer already, so iced coffee hits the spot. On the way home, I check in with a neighbor about another neighbor who has been hospitalized the past week for a complication of his chronic illness, and she tells me he has passed away today. He was older but still young, and had become a good friend to D. I immediately call D. to let him know, and can tell he is upset and a bit dazed by the news. I turn off my podcast and just look at the beautiful late-spring terrain between Memphis and Nashville while I think about our friend and his sweet wife and children, and wish them peace and love in this horrible time. ($11.56 expensed)
5:30 p.m. — I get home and greet D. and F., who are playing outside. D. gets an extra tight embrace from me. F. is cranky after her long day at school, so we let her roam around the house whining while I zip around tidying up our living room and D. does last night's dinner dishes. I finish up and go outside to blow bubbles with F. She and D. go to thank our neighbors across the street for letting the dog out today while we were all away from the house. I do some more tidying and eat some grapes that are on the kitchen counter.
6 p.m. — I start dinner prep by shredding sharp cheddar cheese, sprinkling taco seasoning on black beans and mashing them, and heating up corn tortillas in the microwave. I'm making crispy black bean cheese tacos, one of our recent favorite quick weeknight meals. We feed F. (some of the mashed black beans, shredded cheddar, banana, chicken, smoothie pouch). I put her in PJs, and then we play in her play area while FaceTiming my sister.
7 p.m. — I read F. Goodnight Moon, and we light up her “friendship lamp” by touching it. I found it at Uncommon Goods for Christmas (when touched, it lights up our lamp, as well as an identical lamp at her grandparents' house, and vice versa — they love it, and so does F.!). I nurse F. briefly and lay her in her crib. She's immediately asleep. I head back to the kitchen to assemble and fry up the tacos in a skillet. I also make Trader Joe's Mexican street corn in a second skillet to go with the tacos, and we are sitting down to eat by 7:30.
8 p.m. — I slip into my own PJs and wash my face (I use Bioclarity's Three-Step Clear Skin Routine). D. packs F.'s lunch for daycare in her bento box, which is usually a combination of leftovers and cheese/fruit/crackers. I play HQ Trivia at 8, which I almost never miss, along with my sisters; we play together most evenings. I read some of The New York Times, scroll through Twitter, and watch episodes of Schitt's Creek, which my family is obsessed with. I make a cup of Pukka tea (chamomile, vanilla, and Manuka honey) and have a bit of Trader Joe's bittersweet chocolate with almonds (from a huge Pound Plus bar that I bought for Christmas baking, but did not realize it had almonds until I was home. So now I'm “stuck” eating it — nothing bothers me more than wasting food, even when it is in ridiculous portions!).
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

2:20 a.m. — F. is up crying, which unfortunately still happens some nights. If we have another baby, I vow to sleep-train them. I send D. in with water, which she refuses, so I go in and nurse her briefly. She goes back down and we all go back to sleep.
6 a.m. — F. is up and screaming again. I fix her breakfast that she throws on the floor while I fix myself a cup of pour-over coffee. D. leaves for work most days pretty early, around 5:30 a.m., so that he can meet his boss and some coworkers for mandatory PT time at the gym. I let F. roam around the house while I try to wake up. She finds a smoothie pouch on the kitchen shelf and brings it to me, so I open it and let her eat it. I wake up enough finally to get her dressed, myself dressed, and put her diaper and lunch bags in the car. We finally are ready to go at 7:20. F. is checked in to daycare at 7:45. I swing through the local coffee shop down the road from daycare and order a lavender latte, which is their new “special latte.” It is only okay, but I am glad I tried it, as I love anything with lavender ($7 with a $1 tip). Listen to more Pod Save America on the way home. $8.00
8 a.m. — Get home and make two Kodiak protein waffles topped with Justin's almond butter. Decide that I'm so tired from the early day yesterday and the early morning wake-ups today that I need to try to catch up on my sleep. I lie down around 8:15 and sleep until 10:45. Longer than I meant to! But I'm glad I took the time to rest — I was never one to nap during the day until after F. was born, and now I take any time I reasonably can to catch up on my sleep. Sleep is self-care, did you know?
11 a.m. — I finally sit at my desk in my home office. I work on editing and finalizing workshop workbooks for the next few hours. I have a big trip coming up next week where I will travel to our office in London to run a workshop I developed to teach an application of our device to European trainers. I will be leaving Sunday night and then returning Thursday, which is just four nights away, but we are planning on very long, full days. While working, I drink water out of my Swell bottle (I don't have a specific water goal other than “as much as I can”) and finish my latte, which of course is now cold.
2 p.m. — I take a break for a late lunch, which most of the time is made up of leftovers and snacks I find in the fridge and pantry. I have two Baby Bels, two clementines, Bare apple chips, and some Ruffle chips and ranch dip that is left over from when my in-laws visited last week. I forgot how delicious ranch dip is. HQ Trivia has a random afternoon game, which I play and am out on question eight.
2:30 p.m. — Decide to take a shower, as I have not figured out how to do this in the mornings when I am focused on getting F. out the door. I generally take showers in the afternoons and evenings when I am able to, preferably after I work out.
3 p.m. — Once I am dressed and my wet hair is combed out, I am back at my desk. I work on ordering a poster on the Staples website for an upcoming work conference, but it is being very slow, and I realize after I've spent forever on it that there is a $20 minimum to place an online order. I decide to order it in person at the Staples print shop tomorrow, where I have to go anyway for a special order for the workshop next week. I remember that we need more egg cartons for our chicken and duck eggs, so I place an online order with a farming-supply store for jumbo egg cartons ($71.34 for 200 cartons). $71.34
4:20 p.m. — I leave to pick up F. When I'm working from home, I usually aim to get her dropped off by 9 a.m., unless I have conference calls, and try to pick her up around 4:00 p.m. When I travel, D. drops her off early at 6 a.m. and picks up by 5 p.m., so I try to counter those longer days with shorter days. We are back home around 5 p.m. and play outside with the dog, bubbles, chalk, weeding the garden, and talking to the chickens and ducks. I let one of the cats hang out on the front porch with us (they are usually only allowed out on the screened-in back porch). The late afternoon light is so lovely that I take a million pictures of F. while we play.
6:15 p.m. – We FaceTime my sister and go inside to give F. dinner (chicken, banana, cottage cheese, and pouch). We clean up F. and put her in PJs. I read Goodnight Moon and nurse her, and she's in bed at 7.
7 p.m. — I make dinner, which is spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric, a recipe from The New York Times. D. packs F.'s lunch, and we talk about how to support our neighbor who has lost her husband. We decide to make some food for her this week and discuss what we can make for ourselves and double easily. I can tell D. is holding back and maybe is in a bit of denial about the loss of his friend, but I know it is better to let him feel it on his own timetable.
8 p.m. — We eat! With Schitt's Creek playing in the background. I also play HQ. Tidy up, pack diaper bag for tomorrow. Scroll through news, read a bit of The New Yorker. I have a glass of red wine. I also browse Poshmark for a rain coat and rain boots for F. and find a couple of good options. The cats and dog always all sit on the couch with us when we are relaxing, and they are particularly snuggly tonight (they can tell dad is sad). We tidy up some more for the house cleaner, who is coming tomorrow morning for one of our twice-a-month house cleanings.
11:00 p.m. – I'm too lazy to fully wash my face, so I use a Neutrogena makeup remover towelette and go to bed.
Daily Total: $79.34

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — F. has been fussing for a bit, so I get up and fetch her. She had a better night — no wake-ups! Fix her breakfast and make myself a glass of iced coffee from the fridge (I prepped a vat of cold-brew coffee concentrate last Sunday). Get her dressed, and she plays while I wash my face, get dressed, and pull files I need to be printed onto a USB to take to Staples. I decide to take my work car instead of my personal car (which is paid off but getting old), as this is primarily a work errand, so I have to move her carseat over. I can use my company car for personal use, but I have to log it as such, and there is a vague compliance-related tax penalty, the amount of which I am still unclear about. So I mostly avoid driving it unless it is for work-related trips. Before leaving, I set out two dozen chicken and duck eggs for our cleaners as a thank-you. Drop off F. at daycare at 8:20 a.m. and drive to Staples in Nashville, which takes an hour.
9:15 a.m — I drop off my special order for workbooks and poster at the print shop and use the self-service copiers to print other items I will need next week, which I expense with my company card. While at the copier, I take a FaceTime call from a colleague on the European team for a “tour” of the lab where we will be working.
10:20 a.m. — I finally leave Staples and drive directly across the street to Publix. I pick up brown sugar, a foil loaf pan, a set of 13 x 9 foil pans, cornmeal, two cans of kidney beans, butter, two types of Publix brand granola and fruit/nut bars, garlic, strawberries, and onions. $41.50
10:40 a.m. — Ulta is around the corner, and I need to replenish some of my travel-sized toiletries, so I head there next. I pick up a small bottle of Pureology dry shampoo, Cetaphil face wash, L'Oréal Voluminous mascara, and Cover Girl concealer. $31.10
10:55 a.m. — I'm all done at Ulta and realize I have not had anything but coffee and water today. I stop at Panera next door for a banana-strawberry smoothie and an iced latte. I really try to limit impulse food buying like this, but it is at least another hour before I will be home, and that is how I justify this exception. $10.26
12 p.m. — Arrive home. Unload groceries, Ulta treasures, and Staples documents. I marvel at the clean house and feel so grateful that we are able to and have chosen to spend money on a house cleaner. Our cleaner is part of a woman-owned business that pays its workers a living wage and uses environmentally safe products, and I am happy to support her. I sit down at my desk and respond to some emails.
12:45 p.m. — I am still hungry, so I make two cheddar cheese tortilla rolls in the microwave and have one of the Publix granola bars — cherry coconut. I also chug some water and eat the two Dove dark chocolates left by the house cleaner with her sign-out sheet on the kitchen counter (Did I mention how much I love this house cleaner? She leaves us chocolate!).
1:15 p.m. — I decide to hop on my Keiser stationary bike and do a Peloton 30-minute arms and intervals workout. I sort of wish we had just gotten a Peloton bike, but D. thought a bike not tied to a specific software platform might be better in the long run. I love the Peloton digital app and am so happy we made the bike investment last year, as it is the only way I have been able to be consistent with exercising living where we do and with our crazy schedules. Plus, I can use it when I travel. Ally is my favorite Peloton instructor, and she has a new class (#yesoryes). I'm good and sweaty after, which feels great, and it is a new-old feeling; old because I was somewhat fit pre-baby, but also new as I basically did not exercise during my pregnancy and for several months after my C-section.
2 p.m. — I preheat the oven and mix up some whole-grain banana bread using King Arthur flour's recipe (it is amazing). I'm planning to bring this to our neighbor along with some other food I'll make tonight. I run through the shower, and once I'm out of the shower and dressed, I check on the banana bread, which needs another 15-20 minutes. I respond to some emails and finish a few administrative tasks. I get an alert from the local Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense chapter asking me to email legislators to vote "no" for a batshit-crazy handgun bill moving through the statehouse this week. I write an email to the Tennessee governor and my state senator and press send. I wonder if my strongly worded letters are making any difference in cutting through the decades-long corruption in Tennessee, and vow to keep pushing and exercising my responsibilities as an active citizen in a democracy, even if it is faltering.
3:20 p.m. — Banana bread is done, and the doorbell rings — FedEx is here to deliver my NPR wine-club case! I unpack the case and put wine away. Head back to my desk and work until 4 p.m., when I leave to get F. with an apricot La Croix in hand. While on the way, I get a call from Staples that my order is ready, and also that they accidentally deleted everything on my flash drive. There's nothing critical on it, thank goodness. The Staples print-shop manager says they took $100 off my order to try to make up for the error, and I let her know I appreciate that and it is no big deal.
5 p.m. — F. and I get home from pick-up. While she plays, I start making a double batch of chili cornbread casserole. I go out to the garden, snip some arugula, and rinse and dry it — I think a fresh salad will be a nice side dish to send along with the casserole to the neighbor. D. entertains F. while I cook. I also make a jar of balsamic dressing to send with the arugula (Martha Stewart's recipe — never fails). Once the casseroles are in the oven, we give F. a bath while FaceTiming my sister, and D. packs F.'s lunch. F. and I sit in her glider and read a couple books. I nurse her, and she's down for the count by 7 p.m.
7:20 p.m. — D. and I eat dinner. While relaxing on the couch, I decide to buy the Poshmark L.L. Bean toddler rain jacket I was looking at for F. ($24.02) after a private discount is offered to me by the seller. I also make an offer of $30 on a $35 pair of L.L. Bean toddler rain boots I was looking at from another seller, and they immediately make a counteroffer of $32, which I accept (total comes to $42.38). I realize shortly after that that's probably too much to spend on rain boots for a toddler...but oh well. About 90% of F.'s wardrobe has been hand-me-downs from a good friend of mine who has two daughters, and thanks to that and to aunties and grandmas who compulsively buy and send outfits, I've hardly spent any money on clothing for her. $66.40
8 p.m. — D. comes back from bringing the food I made (casserole, banana bread, salad) to our neighbors. He's tearful and upset, so we sit together and talk. We also discuss when and where to meet for the visitation in town tomorrow, which is only complicated because of picking up F. around the same time in our area, plus working through Nashville traffic and a hair appointment I have mid-afternoon. We work out a plan, and he gets up to do the huge pile of dishes I made while I read my new issue of The New Yorker and text my sisters about silly ways to cheer up D. some. One sister creates a ridiculous meme using pics of F., and it helps to end the day on a lighter note.
11 p.m. — I get ready for bed and wipe my face with a Neutrogena facial wipe. I lie down in bed and close my eyes, and literally 10 minutes later F. starts crying and won't settle, so I go in and nurse her. She fusses a bit longer but eventually falls back asleep. Did I mention I'm going to sleep-train any future child?
Daily Total: $149.26

Day Four

5:20 a.m. — F. is up super early fussing. D. goes in and gives her some milk, and she somewhat settles, but I finally get up at 6 and fetch her. I make a mug of pour-over coffee while F. plays with her Easter basket full of empty plastic eggs. I decide to embrace the early morning, and we dance to Lizzo via Spotify in the kitchen. I heat up a frozen muffin and settle F. in her high chair for breakfast while I sip my coffee and work on today's NYT crossword puzzle. I also respond to an email from a colleague who is in Paris, as we are trying to reschedule a meeting that was scheduled for early Friday morning. I will offer to push it up to 6 a.m. but hesitate to do any earlier; I am just not a morning person, and F.'s sleep schedule is too erratic lately. I put away last night's clean dishes while F. eats. I get her dressed and myself dressed and gather the items she will need for her day.
8 a.m. — We leave for daycare, and I listen to the Keep It! podcast while F. looks at one of her books happily in her carseat. F. gets dropped off, and I head back to the house. I check out the vegetable and flower garden, which I was able to plant early this spring and which already needs weeding, but that will have to wait until it dries out from the rain a bit. I make some toast with Justin's almond butter, then work at my desk while drinking water. I remember I need to replace one of the soaker hoses for the vegetable garden, as it split after two years of not being brought in for the winter. I have a 15% off coupon for the gardening-supply site I order frequently from, so I apply it and place the order ($18.21). I check our checking account transactions and see that D. stopped at a gas station and picked up a Red Bull ($9.33). $27.54
10:50 a.m. — Arrive at Staples and pick up order. Next on my itinerary is a trip to Target to get snacks and items for my trip to London. ($196.32 expensed)
11:15 a.m. — I spend way too much time and money at Target. I get a new toothbrush, a swim diaper, bubbles, and a sand bucket for sidewalk-chalk storage for F., cherry pie Larabars, Epic Bison jerky, Justin's almond butter packets, granola, Quinn cheddar popcorn, Red Vine bites, a Ritter Sport dark chocolate with marzipan bar, dried strawberries, melatonin gummies, a small straw basket (I buy all the small dollar-bin straw/woven baskets and put them everywhere in my house for storage and clutter), and two bottles of Mrs. Meyer's hand soap (lilac!). I also meet a real-life Target lady at checkout and silently wish I had gone through the self-checkout lane. I leave at 11:45 and inhale the whole bag of dried strawberries in the car (my favorite snack from Target). $90.58
12:20 p.m. — Once I get home, I unload the car and put away all my new treasures. I eat two Baby Bels and a Heart Healthy nut-and-dried-cranberry mix pack. I'm still hungry, so I make a quick smoothie with some dried strawberries and a banana in the fridge F. took a couple of bites from, plus almond milk and ice. I sit at my desk to respond to a customer who texted me about a recurrent issue they are having with a specific patient on the machine, as well as some work emails. I get dressed for my 2:30 p.m. hair appointment and the visitation afterward in Nashville and leave by 1:30 p.m., continuing to get caught up on Keep It! episodes.
2:30 p.m. — I am just in time for my hair appointment. This is a new salon, as the last salon I tried I didn't love. My stylist is a cutie, and she takes a good 20 minutes to ask what I am looking for and explain what she thinks would look best. We agree on a balayage technique. I enjoy the pampering, including eyebrow wax, and briefly fall asleep like a freak while getting my hair washed. I tip her about 25% and promise her I will call to schedule my next appointment with her. $185.00
5:30 p.m. — Time to go to my neighbor's visitation. D. and I have been texting, as it became clear during my salon appointment that it was taking longer than I anticipated, so we decide D. will go first and then leave to get F. before daycare closes at 6 p.m. I see several neighbors at the visitation and pay my respects to our neighbor and his wife and children. It reminds me of my father's memorial service a couple of years ago, and all the services I have attended for patients I have cared for over the years, and I leave feeling depleted and exhausted around 6:30.
7 p.m. — I'm home and help D. finish getting F. ready for bed. We FaceTime my sister to say goodnight with F. before I nurse and put her down. I decide tonight is the night for comfort food, so I quickly fix one of my favorite meals — lemon linguine, a recipe from The New York Times. I don't have heavy cream, but half-and-half works in a pinch, and the brightness of the lemon and sizzling butter helps me feel a tiny bit better. Cooking is my love language. D. and I talk about the visitation, and he cries about losing a friend. We eventually sit down and eat pasta, and I have a small glass of red wine. We watch one episode of Schitt's Creek, plus the newest episodes of Fosse/Verdon and Better Things. Bedtime at 10 p.m., after I wash my face (Bioclarity routine) and pack F.'s diaper for tomorrow.
Daily Total: $303.12

Day Five

5 a.m. — We wake up to F. screaming while D. is getting ready for work. D. gives her two pouches, and she eventually settles back down. I randomly have a bad headache — probably thanks to dehydration from tears and wine — and decide to cancel my early morning call with my European-based colleague last-minute. I hate to do that, but I really cannot stare at a bright computer screen in the dark early morning without probably puking. I send her a quick text, and she immediately responds that it is no big deal and she is stuck on a noisy train anyway. I will send a few things via email that she can spend time reviewing Monday morning prior to starting our workshop Monday afternoon, and it will be fine. I go back to sleep.
7:45 a.m. — I finally wake up, and while F. is sleeping I quickly brush my teeth, wash my face, and get some water. My head feels better. I make a mug of pour-over coffee and get F. up and give her some freezer dried fruit bites. I pick out an outfit for her, dress her, and then get myself dressed while she plays.
9:25 a.m. — I drop F. off and swing through the local coffee shop, opting for an iced Cuban (espresso over ice with sweetened condensed milk). I pay with a $20 bill from my father-in-law that he insisted I take, and tip a dollar and change. $7.00
9:45 a.m. — Once home, I don't feel like going inside just yet, so I peruse the rainy garden and pull a few weeds. Eventually, I head in and make almond butter toast and settle in at my desk for a remote training from our IT department regarding a new CRM platform. I work on weekly admin stuff and then attend a virtual company “town hall” at 11 a.m. I prep my workshop materials into folders for next week and respond to oh so many emails.
12:15 p.m. — I decide to take a break. I FaceTime with my sis, as she took a day off and is just hanging out at home, and we can rarely talk without D. or F. around. I walk outside and up our driveway to get the mail and marvel at the early spring compared to where I grew up in the Midwest. Once inside, I heat up leftover pasta for lunch, plus have two Baby Bels and a Publix store brand granola bar. I review my YNAB app and all the monthly expenses and bills that were taken out automatically today, the first of the month. I notice D. reloaded his Starbucks card ($10) and had lunch out at a local deli ($11.88). $21.88
1:30 p.m. — I took a longer break than I meant to, as I want to work out and shower before leaving to pick up F. I start working on an assignment for work and realize I have no idea what the purpose is and why we are tasked with it. Send clarifying questions to my manager, who is out, but I will be waiting for her before spending another minute on it. It is not due until June, and my impulse to take care of it early has been halted due to my own confusion, which I find deeply annoying. Meanwhile, D. orders some special oil and fuel additives for his truck and my car. $111.44
2 p.m. — I shift gears and work on a breastfeeding essay that I am submitting to an academic writing a book on the topic. My BFF knows her, and she has been soliciting stories from women, particularly those with unusual circumstances. I breastfed and pumped while traveling frequently upon returning from maternity leave, and was asked to contribute an essay about my experience.
3:20 p.m. — I get so absorbed in writing that I realize it is already past 3 p.m., and I still want to work out. I change quickly into workout clothes and do a 30-minute Peloton arms and intervals bike workout with Ally. Workout is done by 4, so I run through the shower, then hop into the car with a La Croix. It is time to pick up F., but I realize my fuel tank is on empty, so I fill up ($38.50). The gas station is near the local high school, and there are a bunch of kids socializing in the gas station parking lot, which makes me feel a weird pang of nostalgia. I drive to the small grocery store in town and get pepperoni, semisweet chocolate bars, and granulated sugar for pizza and brownies ($19.27). Pick up F. from daycare, and we head home. $57.77
5 p.m. — We get home and D. arrives about five minutes later. We hang out on the front porch while F. explores the yard and plays with her bubbles and chalk. We also FaceTime my sister, who is at Costco looking for some summer outfits for F. (they have the cutest baby/toddler rompers there — underrated kids' clothing at Costco!). We visit with next-door neighbors for a bit, then head inside to give F. dinner.
6:15 p.m. — I make our Friday night pizza dough, which is a years-long ritual at this point. The deal is I make the dough from scratch and F. “dresses” the pizza and bakes it, though we've taken to grilling it with the cast-iron pizza-grill plate I got him for Christmas. With this method, the pizza turns out like authentic wood-fired pizza. F. has dinner (breaded chicken, strawberries, banana, and a pouch). I put her in PJs and we look at some of her books, then it is time for her bedtime routine and bed.
7:45 p.m. — I open up a delicious bottle of Rioja red wine, settle on the couch, and finish the New Yorker article I've been spending days reading. F. finishes getting the pizza prepped (sundried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and sharp cheddar cheese for me; pepperoni, Kalamata olives, and Colby jack for him), bakes/grills them, and cuts me a couple slices. Pizza Friday has begun! We decide to watch Knock Down the House on Netflix, and I openly sob throughout.
9:45 p.m. – I decide we have to follow the heavy-yet-inspiring documentary with Schitt's Creek episodes. And of course The Office, which is my comfort show and on heavy rotation when I'm home and when I travel.
10:30 p.m. — Against my better judgment, as it is getting late, I decide to make a double batch of brownies using the extra-fancy recipe from the Bravetart cookbook. This process takes forever, and the mix barely fits in my stand mixer bowl, but I get the brownies in the oven and the house smells heavenly. Shortly after midnight, I have an enormous, warm-from-the-oven brownie with almond milk, even though I'm so tired I can hardly stay awake.
Daily Total: $198.09

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — That midnight snack comes back to haunt me when F. is awake and ready to play. I get up with her and lie down in her play area while she crawls over me until D. gets up around 7 and I go back to bed. He usually lets me catch up on my sleep on the weekends, as he can rarely physically sleep in past 8 (I don't know what that is like).
9:45 a.m. — I finally get up and have pour-over coffee. While playing with F. and visiting with D., I make a grocery list and discuss meals I can prep for D. for the coming week. We decide to go into Nashville for the farmer's market, as they are having their annual Strawberry Jubilee! The weather is cool and rainy, but maybe that will keep the crowds at home. We leave for the market at 10:50 a.m. and arrive just before noon.
12 p.m. — I should have known the farmer's market would be packed. We go to the indoor market area and order some lunch. I opt for a veggie crepe from the crepe place (with hummus, tomatoes, red onions, black olives, spinach, and pesto) and get F. a kids' ham-and-cheese crepe, plus two bottles of water as I failed to fill up my water bottle from home ($15.20). D. gets a couple of gyros from Chicago Style Gyro ($10.12), and we find a table and scarf down our lunch. F. ends up eating more of D.'s gyro than her crepe, but all the hot yummy food gets eaten. After eating, we browse the vendors and realize there are no strawberries to be found — they've all been sold. $25.32
12:50 p.m. — We leave to go to the closest Publix and get Q-tips, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, toothpaste, jalapeño pepper, Brussels sprouts, Noosa yogurts, sundried tomatoes, chicken cutlets, half-and-half, bacon, Colby jack cheese, ice cream, a loofah, parsley, baby carrots, hotdog buns, unbleached flour, sharp cheddar cheese, bananas, whole milk, chicken sausages, ground pork, and butter ($117.77). D. also gets a haircut while he is out ($12.99) and tips with cash ($5). $135.76
2:15 p.m. — We get home from our “little adventure,” as we call running errands to F. Play with F. while D. goes to get an oil change and tune-up for my car at the Walmart auto center. $127.70
3 p.m. — F. didn't get a long enough nap in the car, so I nurse her and lay her down. I start to get ready for my trip, which starts tomorrow evening with my overnight flight to London. I organize my toiletries bag and pull out a suitcase. In going through my travel stuff, I realize I need to find the European power adapter and dig it out of the closet to find that I am missing the U.K.-specific adapter. We must have left it behind in London on our family trip last September, so I call D. to see if he can stop somewhere to find a replacement. Have a brownie and almond milk, because stress. I zip around the house tidying and start some laundry (I do my own laundry, D. does his own, and we share doing F.'s and other household laundry).
4:45 p.m. — F. wakes up, so we snuggle and look out the window while it rains. D. gets home triumphant, as he was able to find a U.K. power adapter ($9.77) at Walmart. He also picked himself up three-liter bottles of Diet Pepsi ($3.75). $13.52
5:15 p.m. — We get F. a snack while I put away laundry and start my laundry, which is one of my pre-travel rituals — to do all my laundry so that I come home to an empty hamper. D. takes F. with him to bring one of the pans of brownies to our neighbor, who still has tons of family in town, while I prep the Brussels sprouts we are having as a side for dinner. D. and F. get back, and we give F. a quick dinner (leftover ham from our neighbor, banana, milk, and part of a pouch). D. starts grilling chicken thighs basted with Jones BBQ sauce (which we ordered to support Jones BBQ, which was featured on the most recent season of Queer Eye). The sauce is delicious.
7 p.m. — I get F. ready for bed with her bedtime routine and an extra book, and she's down by 7:30. I fold and put away my load of laundry and set aside some items to pack. We sit down to dinner around 7:40, which includes a couple small glasses of red wine. We watch Schitt's Creek and I read Cribsheet, a fantastic book about data-driven parenting. I eat a cinnamon roll that was overflow from the neighbor, then a sliver of brownie, and make a cup of Pukka tea. Try to not worry about traveling tomorrow and the big week coming up, but enjoy being home and the cozy evening. D. asks me to order him some new electric toothbrush heads, so I place the Amazon order ($35.15) and include a book for my sister that I think she might like ($14.05) that I will surprise her with. Time for bed at 11 after picking through some of the NYT Saturday crossword. $49.20
Daily Total: $351.50

Day Seven

3:45 a.m. — F. wakes up fussing, and I go in to check on her. She signs that she's hungry, so I nurse her for a few minutes and she goes back down.
7 a.m. — F. is up for good this time, and D. is still snoring, which is unusual, but I let him get some sleep today while I go get F. She has a breakfast of a Baby Bel and some freeze-dried fruit. She also has a book with her in her high chair that she carefully studies, which I love. I make myself a coffee and fix D. a cup when he joins us. I eat two large-ish cinnamon-raisin rolls with my coffee. The rest of the morning is a blur of packing and meal-prepping for D. and F. for the week. I make a meatloaf (Martha Stewart recipe) and chili for enchiladas con carne (New York Times recipe). D. and F. play while I cook.
11:45 a.m. — I'm at a good stopping point in my meal prep, and F. can't stay awake any longer. I rock and snuggle her a few minutes and put her down for her nap, while D. gathers the recycling and trash so he can take it into the local center for processing (country living means no garbage or recycling pick-up). He also tops off his gas tank for the week. I sit on the couch and yawn for a few minutes until the meatloaf is done and enchiladas are ready to be assembled. I assemble the enchiladas, cover them with a lid, and stick them in the fridge — they can be baked off when D. is ready for them. I fix myself a makeshift “enchilada bowl” with torn-up flour tortilla, a few scoops of chili that didn't fit into the enchilada pan, and top it with shredded cheese. $14.17
12:45 p.m. — Time to shower and get dressed, after which I finish packing various odds and ends I'd almost forgotten. F. wakes up around 1:30 p.m. and has some meatloaf, crackers, and banana. She feels warm, and I check her temperature — she has a slight fever. Cue panic and a furious debate with D. about whether she was “just warm” from her nap (D.'s opinion) or whether there is something brewing (my opinion/fear). We give her Motrin and go outside to see if she wants to play, which she does! We play with bubbles, chalk, look at the garden and chickens/ducks, and she seems totally normal. We got a new rooster from our neighbors last week, a Silkie, and it's funny to watch him flip his feathered head around. We go ahead and give her a bath, and I pack her diaper bag for tomorrow and lay out her outfits for the week.
5:15 p.m. — It is time for me to leave for the airport. I stall by giving lots of kisses and hugs goodbye and let the tears fall as I drive away from my house. It takes about an hour to drive to the airport, so I catch up on Brain Candy podcast episodes. I arrive at the airport, get parked, check my bag, get through security with no trouble, and learn I get free access to the American Airlines Admirals Lounge thanks to my business-class ticket. I get two drink coupons, too, so I ask for a bottle of water and a glass of the available Cabernet. I find a spot in the very crowded and stuffy lounge to FaceTime my sister while I download content to watch onto my iPad. I definitely need light and funny stuff for this leg of the journey, so I download all three John Mulaney Netflix specials, The Great British Baking Show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Friends from College. I also make sure I have a couple of books to read on my Nook app.
7:20 p.m. — Time to walk toward my gate, during which time I FaceTime D. and learn nothing crazy has happened in the last two hours and F. was fever-free at bedtime. I wait in line briefly and then board, and spend the rest of the lengthy boarding time learning about all the features of business class, which is very exciting. I'm also handed a complimentary glass of Champagne! Though I'll need to go easy on the free alcohol if I want to be functional in seven hours. I peruse the plane's entertainment offerings and decide to watch I Love You, Man, which I love dearly. I give the flight attendant my meal requests for breakfast and dinner. And we are off!
11 p.m. — I made the delightful mistake after the movie finished to start rewatching the first season of Killing Eve, which is definitely not the light fluffy content I was aiming for, so I turn off the screen and lower my seat to try to catch some sleep. I fear I'll be a total zombie in the morning, and I miss F. terribly already. But — this is just another little adventure, and I remind myself to take it one day at a time.
Daily Total: $14.17
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