October 10, 2017

Return of the Prodigal Blogger

Hello, there!

It's been a long time since I've lurked in these parts. Nearly seven months to be exact, but who's counting?

In March, I began an unplanned, unannounced break from blogging. Pregnancy, increased responsibilities at work, and an always-energetic toddler craving more and more attention contributed to the hiatus. To be honest, I was feeling a little burned out and more than a little disillusioned with travel blogging, partly due to my annoyance with the Blogger platform (anyone want to volunteer to export TGT to Wordpress for me without losing any of my page hits and SEO ranking?!) and the fact that, well, we weren't going to be making any trips outside the country anytime soon. It's hard to feel any motivation when you don't have many grand plans in the works.

But with the changing of the seasons here in Central Virginia, I'm feeling a resurgence in my mojo. Yes, I got that lovin' feeling towards this little blog and all the wonderful people (yes, that's you!) that I've been able to meet through it. So I'm back, for now.

So much has happened in these last seven months! Let me walk you through some of the major events:

🌎 Thrifty Gypsy, Family of Four
Baby Gypsy #2
In July we celebrated America's birthday with a few fireworks of our own as our second daughter* joined us the day after Independence Day. Our firstborn is a Christmas Eve baby, so it was only fitting that our second would also be a nearly-holiday baby! Despite a difficult delivery and a traumatic scare on her third day of life, which resulted in an emergency ride to the hospital via ambulance and an overnight hospital stay, her appearance and this postpartum time has been the easiest for us all. She is such a sweet baby and seems to have inherited my deep and abiding love for sleep as she's been snoozing through the night almost from the beginning (let's hope I haven't jinxed it by bragging on her!).

Big Sister has transitioned through initial reluctance and tantrums with the new arrival and now is the biggest fan of "bee-bee, bee-bee." She's a pro at fetching diapers, burp cloths, and helping baby sister play with her rattle. As they're only 18 months apart, I sincerely hope that they can find best friends in one another as they grow up.

As I avoid frequent personal updates on this blog, you may not hear much more about them or life as a family of four unless it pertains directly to travel. But if you're interested, I've recently begun a blog that is much more personal in nature. While it may touch upon travel from time to time, it primarily is a potpourri blog where I can ramble about any number of things. Feel free to ask for the web-link directly either through here or on Facebook (that way I can make sure my boss doesn't read it; sorry, R--!). 

Kilmarnock, Virginia. 2017.
🌎 Maternity Leave
The best day of my life was Wednesday, February 8, 2006 - the day I met Danny. But the best days of my life have been these last three months while I've been on maternity leave. Unlike the dark postpartum days from my first daughter's birth, I have been blessedly free from postpartum depression and anxiety. I spent my days cuddling my newborn on the couch, interrupted regularly with the riotously exuberant play of the toddler, and happily fulfilled the role of stay at home wife and mama - a veritable hausfrau.

But it seems that all good things come to an end. Maternity leave is neither standard nor protected under the law in the United States. I happen to work for a wonderful small business that accommodates taking extended leave while still holding your position secure and has even offered me a flexible work schedule as I transition back, which has been most welcome since baby girl has been rejecting a bottle. But many women aren't afforded the luxury of compassionate, understanding employers. Even a fiscal conservative can't help but wonder if incentives such as tax breaks for companies who offer paid maternity and paternity leave would entice more employers to offer tangible, uniform benefits for new parents. My husband's employer recently announce eight paid weeks of paternity leave, which is a rarity in our country. Needless to say, that will be a welcome gift whenever we take the plunge for baby #3 in a few years.

🌎 Day trips, Beach trips, and Future travel plans
A new house, pregnancy, birth of a second child, and one income while on maternity leave - none of these are conducive for frequent or grand traveling, but we maximized our summer experience nonetheless! Day trips to Virginia's Northern Neck, a few wine days out with the ladies under the shadows of the Blue Ridge, and a sun-filled week at Topsail Island, North Carolina, were some of our stand out trips apart from the daily excursions to parks, spray-grounds, river trails, and other toddler-sized adventures. When you're on a tight budget and saving every penny for a big trip, look to experience the beauty of your home town to keep down costs.

And, yes, we are pinching pennies for a big trip again! Next month Danny's Oma will celebrate her 93rd birthday. Unfortunately, we will not be there ourselves, but we are eyeing next July for a return trip. If it works out, it will be the third consecutive time we will watch the final matches of the World Cup while in Germany; on our honeymoon in 2010, Germany took third place, and in 2014, we danced and drank in the streets of Stuttgart after Germany took first! We can only hope that Germany will be world champions again in 2018!

Additionally, Dinkelsbuhl's Kinderzeche, or Children's Festival, takes place in July, so there are so many compelling reasons for us to plan our trip in the high summer. Let's just hope they don't experience another heat wave; Oma's house is a few hundred years old, and central air is not a common amenity in northern Europe!

In the meantime, our fall calendar is off to a great start. We'll be sneaking away to the Northern Neck one last time to hunt for arrowheads and will be attending a wedding at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, next month. The reception will be hosted at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael, Maryland, on the eastern shore. I'm already swooning over some of the photos of both the USNA Chapel and the Maritime Museum. Any place on the water is beautiful - no matter what the season! Now if only I could lose some more of this baby weight before the wedding...

Thanks for checking back in with us! I'm excited to be back online, and though I know my posting won't be nearly as prolific as the early years of the blog, I hope to be more present than absent.

What are your travel plans for the fall?

Oma's house.
Photo taken July 2014.
Want to follow along?
While this corner of the internet has been rather dusty this year, I've kept a strong presence on Instagram and Facebook - my favorite social media addictions. Follow us to stay up to date on what an evolving thrifty gypsy life looks like with two kids, a piliferous canine, and a tight budget!

* Out of respect for their inability to express a preference, Danny and I err on the side of caution when it comes to our children's personal information. We do not share photos with their faces on the blog or any of our social media sites, personal or otherwise, nor do we reference them by name. So far, our firstborn has been referred to as "Baby Gypsy," but now that we have two, I'm not yet sure how I'll differentiate between them with appropriate pseudonyms. Stay tuned and feel free to share your suggestions for names!

1 comment:

  1. Happy to hear your update, Katrina! Could she be Baby Thrifty? I would be silly and go with Baby Hobo because what better combo than a gypsy and a hobo?! ;) Hopefully y'all will be out in Deutschland in July!!! Bis dann ;)


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