What goes around comes around…and out the sides

The scene: The Midwest, the suburbs, a two-story colonial, upstairs, a crib. Circa 1986.

The players: The dad, very little me.

The action: The mom says the almost-toddler-aged child is napping and should be down for the afternoon; she leaves the house. The garage door closes; a stench wafts down the stairs to the dad. The dad climbs stairs to find very little me standing in crib, coated in thick layer of my own forcefully expelled excrement. Am very pleased. Am covered from “hairline to between your toes” as the dad tells it for the next almost 30 years. Am deposited into tub and hosed liberally. All garments are disposed of. “Your time will come” also launched as favorite tagline henceforth.

Well, DAD.

The scene: Northern Virginia, the suburbs, a Kohl’s, a cart. June 2014.

The players: Me, the oyster, a cleaning lady with no English, 7 middle-aged women.

The action: We’re shopping for a brother-in-law’s birthday gift and the oyster begins emanating The Scent. Assuming it is a turd and can wait until we choose a tie, we continue shopping. Oyster is unperturbed. Tie chosen, we seek the bathroom for a diaper change. In front of guest services I park our cart and remove the oyster, discovering her to be covered from the armpits to the back of her legs in a soup of her own making. Spillage in cart. Oyster remains unperturbed. I carry her with stiff, outstretched arms into bathroom and flip down changing station panel with one superhero finger. I line changing station liberally with paper towel, which must be pumped from the STUPID DISPENSER one miniscule pump at a time. Four years later, I lay Oyster atop post-consumer padding and begin to strip all articles of clothing. Immediately upon contact with open air, patches of excrement dry onto skin–hers and mine–but Oyster is unperturbed. Now also naked. I have a spare diaper in my purse along with travel wipes, which reveal themselves to be but three in number. Wipes exhausted, toilet paper is required.

We turn now to our players:

Me: Do NOT move. Stay RIGHT there.  <frantically unrolls fistfuls of tp from nearest stall>
Oyster : La laa dee daa LAAA DAA PAPA!
Middle aged women 1 and 2: <stare, say nothing>
Me: Keep staying RIGHT THERE. <more tp>
Oyster: BAAAAA!! WOOF! WOOF! MEOWWW.
Middle aged women 3 and 4: <stand in my way as I try to exit the stall, while jabbering among themselves about who will go first into the handicap stall; hint: if you don’t move, it’s going to be both of you>
Me: <wets tp at sink, scrubs Oyster hind parts, tp falls apart in pills of poop-covered paper> DON’T MOVE. Good job NOT MOVING.
Oyster: MeeeoWWWW. PAPA. Baaaaa. MAMAMAMAMAMADADDY!
Me: No, Daddy’s not here. Alas for me.
<cleaning lady, who watched the whole thing, is now near me>
Me: Hi! Do you have some kind of regular paper towel, like kitchen paper towel? And a disinfectant spray? There’s poop in the cart we were using, out there, and I’d like to scrub it down. Do you have something I should use for that?
Cleaning lady: You want…I stand baby?
Me: I’m sorry?
Cleaning lady: Sorry, no English.
Me: Oh. Hrm. Ok, thanks.
Middle aged women 5, 6, and 7: <stand there as I explain, in vain, to the cleaning lady what I need, and then hustle themselves past; oh Virginia, if you were Michigan someone would have helped me by now>
Oyster: MAMA.
Me: Don’t move. <commences pumping paper towel .35 cm at a time; dampens paper towel in sink> I’m sorry about this, baby girl…
Oyster: Ow. Ohh ho ho oww. Mama.
Me: I know, I’m sorry. <scrubs>
Oyster: Blar blar WOOF WOOF MEOWWWW.

And so I scrubbed her poor bum and legs and back with imitation tree bark until all traces of the explosion were to be found only in the cart we had to tackle next. Fiercely pumping more of the STUPID SLOW CRUNCHY PAPER TOWEL into my waiting hand, I filled the nest with a blue foamy spray that looked like it may kill something, and paraded out of the bathroom with that, my naked child, and a determined look on my face. I scrubbed that cart until the paper towel went dry and to my everlasting surprise, no one from guest services said anything. Nothing about the smell of poop, or the naked child (she had sandals and a clean diaper, so not truly nakie, I guess), or the guest cleaning her own cart with industrial grade chemicals. Kind of feel like that’s a customer-service fail but I’m just the lady cleaning poop off another human, so ignore me. Please. Like everyone else who had two free hands and a set of eyeballs.

The Oyster and I zoomed to the toddler section as fast as that crappy (oh I do love a pun) cart would go and I threw my child into a plain top and bike shorts as fast as I could, leaving the tags on, lest anyone in the entire store suddenly notice what I was doing and confront me. At that point, I would have dared them.

<end scene>

So, DAD. Looks like my time did come at last. I just wish my time had come when we were at home and the bathtub nigh. And bummer for you that you didn’t have a blog when I ruined your day–and my crib sheet–in 1986. 😀

A note to my daughter as she goes to bed

Each night as I lay you down to sleep I wish out loud, softly, for my beautiful girl to have beautiful dreams. This is how I fall asleep, too; thinking of beauty. But I have noticed over time that the beautiful places and times I picture in my own head to accompany me to my dreams have gotten closer to home.

delight

Faraway tropical beaches have turned into the trees on our street in early spring, drenched in delicate white blossoms.

Peaceful waves on pale sand have become the bold green of our trees and grass during a summer morning thunderstorm.

The imagined warmth of the sun on my back as I rest by the ocean is replaced by the day’s real memory of your uncontrolled giggles when we “surprised” ourselves in the mirror, over and over and over.

lol

The picture I have in my head of a magnificent Hawaiian sunset over a tranquil inlet fades and drifts away, replaced by the blazing colors of our day, our life.

 

major lol

The beautiful dreams I wish for you may take these exotic forms. For me, beautiful dreams are much closer to home now. They are home. And each night when I wish you beautiful dreams and I am touching your sweet cheek and listening to you breathe easy in your sleep, I am giddy with excitement over what beauty we will fall into tomorrow, here, together. Beauty I can take with me to my own dreams as I send you off with a kiss to yours.

sleepy

 

 

One year in, or, our new strapless high chair

This month makes it one year since I left work and started staying home full-time with the little oyster. You may have noticed the serious decline in regular posting, which should lead you simultaneously to

1) awe of my most excellent and complete dedication to my current life situation and

2) suspicion about how I spent some of my working hours on the Hill

But that’s not for here.

May 2014 finds us surrounded by pregnant friends and neighbors, and I do mean surrounded. I didn’t know it was possible for so many women to all have babies in the same calendar year. I didn’t realize I knew so many women. But again, that’s not for here.

So what is for here, eh? What’s for here is a check-in on the staying-at-home thing, brought to you (obviously) by me. That and an exhortation to other parents to just consider their options. Let’s proceed. I’ll begin with a tale. Actually, it’s a parable, but not a biblical one, obvs. I was going to use fable as my term of choice but since this story is sans anthropomorphic animals and plants, yet still contains a moral, we’re going to use parable.

Once upon a time the oyster was born and started to eat real food. When these days came, her mom bought for the oyster a white plastic high chair with a white plastic removable tray. The chair was $20 and the tray was $5 and both items fit the bill and the budget (three cheers for Ikea).

The little oyster has always been a good eater and to her a high chair is a valued vehicle for partaking of comestibles, not a trap to escape from. For this reason the little girl’s parents never buckled her in.

Until one day her mom did. That day the little oyster choked on some food–the silent, gagging, turning-colors choking and guess what happened? Her mom couldn’t get her out of the damn high chair with the stupid buckle and ended up pounding on the little girl’s back while she sat there, until she gagged up the food. Chewed and regurgitated food went everywhere but the oyster recovered just fine. As her mom cleaned the high chair, the only thing that really made her gag was scrubbing the buckles and straps with their fibers and nooks and crannies. Ew. From that day on, the straps were pulled tight beneath the chair and tied to one another, out of the way.

The little oyster, good eater though she was, would still occasionally miss a piece and her mom or dad would later find some brown banana smashed into a useless buckle, or the remnants of tikka masala* soaking into a cloth strap, requiring much scrubbing.

And then, one rainy Wednesday before lunch, a year into their relationship with the Ikea high chair, the little oyster’s mom had an epiphany:

I don’t have to deal with this. There’s something I can do about this. I would never have to clean around these blasted things again, they would never poke my daughter in her meaty thighs and leave marks on her during lunch, and the high chair would be more comfortable for her, easier to wipe for us, and more sightly, come to think of it, with no straps and buckles dangling underneath like assembly-required dingleberries. Just because these straps have always been here doesn’t mean they need to stay. Eureka!

So I cut them off.

problem solving

The moral of the story is this: Just because something is a certain way right now doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way. If you don’t like the way things are, change them. Buying a high chair with straps, never using the straps, and keeping the straps attached for a full year before realizing you can just cut them off and make everything the way you want it is called problem solving. Slow on the uptake, sure, but also problem solving.

In an email to one of my book clubs recently I made a comment about day drinking. One of the ladies, who is expecting, wrote back with an LOL and her hope that I was enjoying a nice, crisp glass of something white. I was. And the windows were open, the grass had just been cut and the scent was wafting in, the oyster was napping, and I was catching up on emails. It’s not a bad life, I told her. She said to be careful, I might tempt her into being a stay at home mom yet.

But my intention isn’t/wasn’t/never will be to tempt any mom into staying home full-time. My intention is to encourage moms and expectant moms to consider their options and also consider that the decision you make this month can be changed. You can cut off the straps if you find they’re worthless, even a year later.

I didn’t leave work right away when the oyster was born. I didn’t plan to leave work at all, actually. I had 9 weeks at home, the last 5 of them working from home. Know what’s hard? Working from home with a newborn. Then I went back to work in the office and it was a delightful break but then it got harder to leave home and then I wanted to be at home with the oyster and then it got a lot harder and I knew I had to be at home with her or everything else in our family was going straight into the crapper, and fast. My heart wasn’t in it, and a paycheck and resume bragging rights weren’t enough to keep me there.

For us, having more dollars didn’t add value to our family. The husband and I had discussed our priorities, set goals in keeping with those priorities, and take steps to meet those goals. So a year ago, we cut off the straps and I haven’t regretted it for a single hour since.

I think a lot of parents are afraid of what people will say or think of their strapless high chairs, so it’s just easier–in theory–to keep the straps on and work around them and clean around them and let them dig into the baby’s legs and gag when they smell like old food and pretend you don’t see the ugliness of the useless things tangled under the high chair seat, as out of the way as they can be while still being there.

I also think a lot of people don’t consider that no matter how long you’ve had the high chair, you can always cut off the straps. It’s okay to change your mind. If you honestly want your high chair to be strapless, you’ll do it and you’ll make it work. Now, next month, a year later, it doesn’t matter. Maybe you’ve planned your whole life to put your child in this high chair and you’ve never considered what life may be like if you didn’t have to deal with the straps and all they require. Well, consider it. And if you find that the straps are useless and you’re only keeping them because you care about what people think of strapless high chairs, do yourself a favor and stop caring. If the straps are in the way, just cut them off.

After laying the oyster down for her afternoon nap I grabbed my book off the kitchen table and did a double take–there was something in her high chair! Wait, no there wasn’t…it was just the empty little slots where the straps used to live. It looks weird. It will take a day or so to get used to. But the straps are gone and I’m not looking back.

 

*Heck yeah my kid eats Indian food. Yours can, too!

The Frugal Oyster Budget FINAL Tally

We have arrived now at the moment of truth. Many moons ago I made a bet with myself that we could eschew the average baby budget money-bleed and outfit, feed, care for, and celebrate the little oyster, from conception to first birthday, for much less than our culture’s average of $7,000-$12,000. I chose $2,700 as our budget limit and tallied all expenses, rounding to the nearest dollar in the categories you see below. Note that this final tally also includes what we spent on her first birthday, which was spent with the husband’s family on the beach in Delaware, pictures to follow in a later post.

And so now we answer the question.

Question: Is it possible to outfit, feed, care for, and celebrate a baby in the United States, sacrificing not the safety, comfort, or even convenience of that baby or her mom, from conception to baby’s first birthday, for less than the average American expenditure of $7k-$12k in the first year of life only?

Answer: Oh, you better believe it.

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #17

September 30, 2013, final update

Final tally: $2,585

1st Birthday Party:

Gifts from us:
Wheely ride-on cow, Amazon, $67
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, Bethany Beach Books, $7
Melissa & Doug bendable giraffe, Pitter Patter children’s boutique, $12
Plastic zippy car, Pitter Patter children’s boutique, $6

Gifts from others:
Animal sleepers, jeans, winter shirt, winter hat, illustrated book of parables, handmade stuffed owl buddy, handmade Jemima Puddle-Duck rag book, handmade puzzle ball, handmade crib bumper, Melissa & Doug farm animal puzzle, musical jewelry box, Melissa & Doug mirror toy, Melissa & Doug plush fishing set, All God’s Creatures book, Bed Time Blessings book

Food:
Boutique muffins, Bethany Beach Bakrie, $33

Total: $125

 

Maternity clothes:

Gifts:

Now usable from pre-preg closet: Everything

Total: $0

Baby toys and books:

A Pocket for Corduroy, Goodwill, $1

Arthur’s Nose, Goodwill, $1

Eloise in Moscow, Goodwill, $1

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Goodwill, $1

Winnie the Pooh (classic chapter book edition), Goodwill, $2

Come Along, Daisy!, Goodwill, $1

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, consignment sale, $1

Carl’s Christmas, used bookstore, $4

A Birthday for Francis, used bookstore, $5

Harry by the Sea, Bethany Beach Books, $7

Gifts:

Total: $24

Baby clothes:

3 fall onesies, Old Navy, $18

Fall pants, Old Navy, $6

2 sets of pajamas, Old Navy clearance, $15

2 next-summer shirts, Old Navy clearance, $13

3 next-spring rompers, Target clearance, $12

UVA/UVB retro sunglasses, Babybanz.com with shipping, $25

2 sleepers, consignment sale, $7

Gifts:

Two long-sleeved fall shirts, two pairs of leggings, toddler dress with glasses pattern (ha! Love!)

Total: $96

Baby essentials:
Diapers, Target, $22

Formula, Target, $37

Baby food, various brands, Target, $33

Baby puffs, Walmart, $3

Baby cup, Target, $2

Wipes, Target, $5

Sunscreen, Target clearance, $4

Benadryl, Walgreens, $7

Gifts:

Total: $113

Other:

Baby book, PaperSource, $30

Gifts:

Total: $30

Running total for complete baby budget challenge: $2,585

Balance remaining in budget: $115

Percent of budget used: 96%

Months into challenge: 21

Months remaining in challenge: 0

 

The bet is that we can come in at or under my self-imposed dollar amount, without sacrificing safety or comfort of baby or parents, when calculating everything spent by us on the little oyster from conception to the first birthday. This includes all furniture, baby and maternity clothes, toys, vitamins and toiletries, and equipment, everything included in the “average” budget. This excludes insurance costs when the baby is added to the policy and the cost of the food I eat if nursing, which are also not included in the “average” budget. I will save receipts, round to the nearest dollar, and keep a running total on the blog.

The amount to meet or beat is $2,700.

I would rather you think I’m stupid than my daughter think I’m rude

Want to see the opposite of high maintenance? Look above.

Want to see the opposite of high maintenance? Look above.

A few weeks ago the little oyster and I were at a friend’s house for lunch. While the moms talked over meal prep, the little oyster sat on the floor in the kitchen, mesmerized by the speed with which our friend’s two-year-old moves. As the oyster’s nap time drew near, we still hadn’t eaten. Soon the whirlwind two-year-old, approaching nap time, and new setting were all too much and the oyster burst into tears. I picked her up. There was no reason not to–she was in a new place, tired, overstimulated, and I’m her mom; the only thing she needed was to be held.

“You learned a long time ago that Mommy doesn’t pick you up every time you cry,” my friend said toward her son, around me and the oyster. I bit my tongue.

As we ate lunch and chatted, the oyster sat patiently in the high chair, patting the tray. I handed her a chip to chew on, thinking she would just lick the salt off. When I heard it crunch between her gums, I realized that wasn’t the best idea I’ve had and collected the pieces. It was now an hour past her nap time and I had just robbed her of a fun experiment. Understandably, she burst into tears.

“Ohhh boy,” my friends said, “you can already tell she’s high maintenance. Throwing a tantrum over something like that…”

A few things here. First, I bit my tongue again. Second, I insisted we really needed to get home for her nap. Third, the only reason I didn’t reply to either of these passive-aggressive judgments on my parenting is because it’s not worth arguing with people who think–and then speak–like this and because I’d rather have other people think I’m stupid than raise my daughter thinking I’m rude. Your opinion doesn’t matter. Hers does.

Anyway it’s a lot easier to turn the other cheek when you know that you are right.

Yep, I said it. I’m right. I’m parenting my daughter the right way, I’m raising her the right way, and I’m modeling the right behavior for her. Right for us, that is. All the time? No, of course not, by God’s daily grace I’m parenting right, not parenting perfect. I will never tell you that you need to do things our way but I am saying and will say over and over again that this is the right way, the right way for us. I simply don’t care how you do it.

This week I read this blog post that looks at a different angle of the Mommy Wars, the practice of moms crusading against other moms in an effort to prove that their way is the best way of doing things for their kids–or any kids–and not only is their way the best way, it’s the only way, and your way is at best dumb and at worst irreversibly crippling your child and the world for generations to come. The blog post talks about how moms tend to judge other moms because we aren’t confident about the choices we’re making for our own families. Well-written and no doubt it resonates with a lot of mothers out there.

I may be judging the way you do things if by judging you mean observing your activities and deciding in my head that yes, my way is better for my family. I think it’s lame that we tell kids and teenagers to ignore what everyone else thinks and just be yourself but when it comes to raising another generation, moms crap their pants and curl into balls of insecurity and self-doubt. What an example to set. It’s de rigueur to simply encourage these moms with soft words but sometimes a wake up call goes a long way. Get over yourself, mom! There’s no crying in baseball! Chin up, shoulders back, now get out there and stop being a whiner! (Oh that was fun.)

Raising my own child leaves me no time to intelligently critique–much less comment on–the way you’re raising yours, particularly when I may only see a snapshot of your day, as you see of mine. The thing is, maybe you’re doing things the right way for your family and you feel good about it. Bravo, me too! Coffee sometime? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re not comfortable or confident in your decision making and you take it out on other people. You’re welcome to throw your insecure little barbs at me, I can take it. Because I’m right for me and my house and I pity what you’re teaching your kids when you do that.

Unless your child is in danger of life or limb it’s not my place to opine on the job you’re doing so I don’t. (I may have an opinion, but I’m not going to share it with or at you, that’s the key difference.) My wordless little smiles and humorless little chuckles at your kid slamming the door repeatedly or jerking your arm out of its socket while you try to have a conversation with an adult can probably be interpreted as vapid; maybe you think I’m not very smart because I don’t comment on your kid’s every move, and a thinking mom would have a comment. You’re welcome to think that because again, it’s easy to turn the other cheek when I know I’m right. I know I’m smart and I know my daughter will know it, too. In fact, there’s no way she could not know it as she grows up. She’ll be smart too, and not just good-grades smart, but the discerning, conversational, thinking-critically smart that intimidates people. I can’t wait.

In the meantime, I also need to raise this smart girl not to be rude. To take her lessons from me, not from the people who bandy about their ignorant opinions all willy-nilly. I need to teach her the value of turning the other cheek and picking her battles. At the same time, I need to teach her to recognize the times when it’s right to push back, to speak up, to defend yourself or others. But using throw away comments on my parenting style is not the right time. People who share their opinions the way my friend shared hers, denigrating my choices to prove that hers are better, aren’t starting a fair fight. And the fight is not fair in my favor, so engaging would be stupid and rude. And smart girls know how not to be rude.

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #16

I know, I know, the posts have been thrilling this summer. But that’s exactly it, it’s summer and I have been on a break. From…posting… Anyway, it’s the second to last frugal oyster tally! The odds appear ever in our favor as we head into the final six weeks of receipt-tracking and point-proving.

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #16

August 17, 2012

Next and final update:  September 29, 2013

 

Maternity clothes:

Gifts:

Now usable from pre-preg closet: Everything

Total: $0

 

Baby toys and books:

Gifts:

Total: $0

 

Baby clothes:
Hoodie sweatshirt, on vacation, $21

Onesie with a moose, on vacation, $10

Sleeveless peasant shirt, Target clearance, $7

Gifts: Camping pajamas, rain pants

Total: $38

 

Baby essentials:
Diapers, Target, $7

Formula, Target, $44

Travel wipes, Target, $2

Baby food, various brands, Target, $62

Crib mattress, Amazon, $40

Crib mattress protector sheet, Amazon, $13

Crib sheets (2), Amazon, $20

Baby acetaminophen, Target, $4

Gifts: Travel high chair, hand me down

Total: $192

 

Other:
Photo frame for the wall, Target, $12

Gifts:

Total: $12

 

Running total for complete baby budget challenge: $2,197

Balance remaining in budget: $503

Percent of budget used: 81%

Months into challenge: 20

Months remaining in challenge: 1!

 

The bet is that we can come in at or under my self-imposed dollar amount, without sacrificing safety or comfort of baby or parents, when calculating everything spent by us on the little oyster from conception to the first birthday. This includes all furniture, baby and maternity clothes, toys, vitamins and toiletries, and equipment, everything included in the “average” budget. This excludes insurance costs when the baby is added to the policy and the cost of the food I eat if nursing, which are also not included in the “average” budget. I will save receipts, round to the nearest dollar, and keep a running total on the blog.

The amount to meet or beat is $2,700.

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #15

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #15

July 17, 2012

Next update:  August 17, 2013

 

Maternity clothes:

Gifts:

Now usable from pre-preg closet: Everything

Total: $0

 

Baby toys and books:

Gifts:  Little Lamb puppet book, pool floater

Total: $0

 

Baby clothes: Gray and white romper, some little boutique, clearance, $17

Gifts: Polka dot bathing suit, pink and white outfit with leggings, romper, popsicle dress, butterfly dress, shorts, tank top

Total: $17

 

Baby essentials: Diapers, Target, $43

Formula, Target, $37

Wipes, Target, $6

Baby food, various brands, Target, $85

Sippy cup, Target clearance, $6

Mesh food bags, Target, $7

Gifts: Convertible car seat (hand me down)

Total: $184

 

Other:

Gifts:

Total: $0

 

Running total for complete baby budget challenge: $1,955

Balance remaining in budget: $745

Percent of budget used: 72%

Months into challenge: 19

Months remaining in challenge: 2

 

The bet is that we can come in at or under my self-imposed dollar amount, without sacrificing safety or comfort of baby or parents, when calculating everything spent by us on the little oyster from conception to the first birthday. This includes all furniture, baby and maternity clothes, toys, vitamins and toiletries, and equipment, everything included in the “average” budget. This excludes insurance costs when the baby is added to the policy and the cost of the food I eat if nursing, which are also not included in the “average” budget. I will save receipts, round to the nearest dollar, and keep a running total on the blog.

 

The amount to meet or beat is $2,700.

About the frugal oyster

happy face

Any faithful follower of the Frugal Oyster Budget Challenge may have noticed that while we are doing extremely well with the numbers, a few things haven’t gone the way we originally intended. To wit:

1. Diapers
We planned to cloth diaper the little oyster until we realized how impractical that would be for our lifestyle. We don’t have in-unit laundry. We pay per load. We would have used disposable while traveling. Many day cares–which we were originally considering–and the little oyster’s aunt who was her nanny refuse to use them so ultimately our frugal tushy plans were waylaid and the oyster budget has included disposables. Saving grace: We have found that Target brand diapers are the best out there, and significantly less expensive than the name brands. (Oh, I was also seriously considering infant potty training. You can laugh. I am, now.)

2. A crib
We also weren’t planning to have a crib. With the little sister-nanny living with us we still have the little oyster in her Pack n Play in our bedroom  but we do have a crib. A family friend of the husband’s owned a baby furniture company and we were invited to choose a crib and changing table from the stock. It was an extremely generous gift and I’m grateful for it. As the husband pointed out to me once, just because we can go without it doesn’t mean we have to.

3. Nursing
I was planning to nurse exclusively for the first year. Instead the little oyster and I made it to six and a half months and decided that was enough. Truth bomb: It’s really hard to nurse exclusively when you’re working full time. Really really hard, even when every allowance is made in the work place. My building had private nursing rooms with hospital grade pumps and no one had any problem when I left twice a day to use them. After a few months of pumping at work and nursing at home, I wasn’t enjoying it so I decided to end on a high note. I weaned the little oyster one weekend and she has been formula-fed until recently, when we also introduced baby food.

4. Baby food
I had planned from the start to make my own. HAHAHA. Yeah, that never happened. She’s fine.

5. Child care
I went back to work when the oyster was 9 weeks old and the husband took a month of paternity leave. After that we needed someone to care for her while we both worked and the little sister was a willing and able party. She moved in with us in January and was the little oyster’s nanny until May. We paid her and I did not include that cost in the frugal oyster budget tally. Including child care costs puts the tally well over our $2,700 budget so instead of seeing the numbers and giving up on being frugal, I just didn’t include child care costs. Had I done so, with our particular situation, we’re still well under the minimum end of the average baby budget.

6. Nursery
Like I said, the little oyster has lived in our bedroom since January. We don’t do the family bed thing (shudder) and yes, it’s a bit of a tight fit but we more than manage. I love the little oyster’s bedroom and when she’s back in there, I will enjoy having that space again. Until then, it’s totally ok with us that our American child doesn’t have her own fabulously individual nursery, like so many Pinterest accounts would have one believe is absolutely crucial to the health and well-being of said child. A nursery is fun but by no means necessary. The nice thing about living around here is that a lot of people get that. I know a family that has twins and lives in a nice one-bedroom apartment. The twins have a cute crib in the living room. It works, Pinterest be damned.

7. Clothes
The little oyster, at 9 months old, is wearing 9 and 12 month sizes. Friends and family gave us clothing in staggered sizes, which has been nice and has kept this spending area low. Almost everything we have picked up for the oyster clothing-wise has been discretionary spending.

And there you have it. A small update on what hasn’t gone as planned in the frugal oyster budget and why. Still, we’re trucking right along.

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #14

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #14

June 17, 2012

Next update:  July 17, 2013

Maternity clothes:

Gifts:

Now usable from pre-preg closet: Everything

Total: $0

Baby toys and books:

Gifts:  Wooden cars, musical bath toy

Total: $0

Baby clothes: Summer onesie, Target, $5

Striped shorts, Target, $6

Fall jacket, Target clearance, $13

Gifts: Purple striped summer onesie

Total: $24

Baby essentials: Diapers, Target, $30

Formula, Target, $66

Two-pack travel wipes, Target, $2

Pacifier clip, Target, $5

Bottle nipples, Target, $6

Wipes, Target, $5

Swim diapers, Target, $9

Overnight diapers, Target, $9

Baby food, various brands, Target, sale, $10

Gifts:

Total: $142

Other: French Kids Eat Anything book, Amazon, $14
High chair and tray, Ikea.com including shipping, $37

Gifts:

Total: $51

Running total for complete baby budget challenge: $1,754

Balance remaining in budget: $946

Percent of budget used: 65%

Months into challenge: 18

Months remaining in challenge: 3

 

The bet is that we can come in at or under my self-imposed dollar amount, without sacrificing safety or comfort of baby or parents, when calculating everything spent by us on the little oyster from conception to the first birthday. This includes all furniture, baby and maternity clothes, toys, vitamins and toiletries, and equipment, everything included in the “average” budget. This excludes insurance costs when the baby is added to the policy and the cost of the food I eat if nursing, which are also not included in the “average” budget. I will save receipts, round to the nearest dollar, and keep a running total on the blog.

The amount to meet or beat is $2,700.

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #13

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #13

May 17, 2012

Next update:  June 17, 2013

Maternity clothes:

Gifts:

Total: $0

Baby toys and books:

Gifts:  

Total: $0

Baby clothes:

Gifts:

Total: $0

Baby essentials: Diapers, Target, $14 (sale)

Formula, Target, $22

Aveeno baby sunscreen, Target, $6

Gifts:

Total: $42

Other:

Gifts:

Total: $0

Running total for complete baby budget challenge: $1,579

Balance remaining in budget: $1,121

Percent of budget used: 58%

Months into challenge: 16

Months remaining in challenge: 5

 

The bet is that we can come in at or under my self-imposed dollar amount, without sacrificing safety or comfort of baby or parents, when calculating everything spent by us on the little oyster from conception to the first birthday. This includes all furniture, baby and maternity clothes, toys, vitamins and toiletries, and equipment, everything included in the “average” budget. This excludes insurance costs when the baby is added to the policy and the cost of the food I eat if nursing, which are also not included in the “average” budget. I will save receipts, round to the nearest dollar, and keep a running total on the blog.

The amount to meet or beat is $2,700.