The last one

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

It was sunny today, hot and bright. Much like 9/11/01 and most September days since, being as it is the waning days of summer. The oyster and I went to her first music class this morning and unsurprisingly she got right into the dancing. But while the other toddlers floated like butterflies to the classical flute music, the little oyster dropped her own beat and it was Hammertime. I’m looking forward to our Thursday mornings this fall.

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

I don’t know yet how we will teach our daughter about 9/11. At two years old, this is simply another day for her and of course it should be at her ripe old age. But how do you teach someone to never forget when there’s no memory of what we’re to remember in the first place?

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

The morning radio show the husband listens to took calls about 9/11. One listener’s 6th grader has an assignment to interview someone who remembers that day. None of those children were alive when the planes went down, none of them remember the silence in the skies for days and days after, all of them know a country at war and pat-downs at the airport. How many have been to Section 60? Who can say.

“I don’t much care where” is a lazy proclamation, not a carefree anthem. When we teach our daughter about 9/11 and Section 60 and freedom and living and making a future informed–even emboldened–by the past but not crippled by it, however we do that, she won’t be able to say “I don’t much care…” because that fatalism is trumped by the vow to never forget. I care which attitude we impart, in all things, big and small.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

It matters to me which way we go. It matters to me that we walk boldly and humbly in a direction, with no guarantee of arrival but an understanding of the admonition to get moving.

“–so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

We can’t always see which way we ought to go from here. When the time comes to teach our little girl about 9/11 and remembering, I know where we want to get to: To an understanding of life in the midst of loss, love and good in moments of terror, redemption in the face of evil. These are lofty goals, I know. But we are going to walk long enough that in the big things and in the little things she understands that the billowing black smoke behind us may always stay with us in some ways but that the end of one thing makes room for something new.

never forget

In which we move ahead

Me: I’m really enjoying my book. It’s funny writing and it’s interesting to me the way they went about their boycott. <shifts A Year Without Made in China across the table>
The husband: Hmm.
Me: Actually, the husband in the book reminds me of you. But it’s annoying me that instead of going without stuff and clearing out their house, they find other ways to buy stuff they don’t need.
The husband: Hmmm.
Me: But anyway, it’s really interesting. A very entertaining read.
The husband: Hmm.
Me: Oh my gosh you’re afraid I’m going to make you do it, aren’t you?
The husband: <avoids eye contact>

* * *

There’s a Google commercial going around right now that ends with a little girl asking into the phone, while lying on the floor next to her sleeping dog, “OK, Google, do dogs dream?”

Google’s response is, “Dogs dream like humans and about similar things.” The little girl smiles and pats her sleeping dog on the head.

Dietrich is sleeping right now and isn’t available to do a final dogblog before we move ahead. I don’t know what he’s dreaming about but maybe it’s all the new puppies in the neighborhood that we meet on our walks these days; he loves them, so the husband and I try not to talk too loud about getting a second dog when Dietrich is within earshot. We wouldn’t get a second dog here in the green-ceiling condo anyway, but the time will come, before Dietrich is too much older, that we’ll add to the pack in four-legged format. Dietrich is too great a dog to not pass on his wisdom to a younger pup.

And the oyster would love a second dog, too. After she took a nose-dive off a friend’s porch last week, skinning her cheek and her nose and developing a purple knot the size of her fist, she cried for a minute and then asked for crackers and puppies. The girl bounces back pretty quick.

And speaking of kids, today was my last monthly blood draw at the ob, provided the numbers come back normal. They have been normal since March so I trust that September will be no different! That means we have the blessing of Western medicine to add to the pack in two-legged format. When I asked the husband the other week if we should go ahead when we get the go ahead or if we should wait for, hmm, I don’t know, something or…another time…or…I don’t know. His response? “I’m always up for another kid.” Good man.

When we talked about having kids before the oyster, one thing I wanted was to be debt-free. That didn’t happen before the oyster came into our lives but it happened in June and delayed though our milestone was, it was an excellent 29th birthday gift to me. Then again we weren’t actually debt-free until August when I remembered a library fine of $4.50, packed up the oyster, drove to our old neighborhood, and forked over the quarters I was saving for the library book sale at the end of the week. All in the name of financial freedom.

Dietrich is awake now and he is looking at me with his cartoon eyes, which suggests that he thinks I’m leaving something out. Oh, I think he wants me to mention his gray chin hairs. All gray. Very distinguished and handsome. He also wants me to mention that we signed up for dog food delivery from Amazon so he gets a package every month and he feels very sophisticated and urbane.

But back to the conversation with the husband at the beginning of this post. This week I finished the book A Year Without Made in China: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni. It’s my kind of book–a personal social experiment conducted purely to see if it’s possible? Yeah, that’s me. And no, I’m not going to make the husband do it. But it fits well with the moves we’ve been making toward a more minimalist lifestyle in the last few months and the fact that I borrowed it from the library instead of buying it from Amazon is proof positive of that. Dedicating ourselves to the frugal oyster budget was a great foundation for this minimalist thing and I like making less-is-just-less-and-that’s-the-goal a permanent thing for us. 

Anyway. Dietrich thinks we should keep the Red white and new Facebook page when we close up blog-shop tomorrow and I agree. That will be helpful in staying connected while we also spend less time in front of the computer, talking on behalf of the dog. Who has his own dreams of published books and perfectly broiled salmon, if Google is to be believed. 

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

 

 

Red, white, and nouveau: What we’re keeping, what we’ve tossed

If you’re even a tepid follower of this blog, you’ll recall that we have approached parenting with a French twist (har har) and I was going to detail our experiences along the way. My point in doing so was to see if those who have experienced French parenting firsthand–expats, spouses of French people, families who have lived in France but aren’t French–and lived to write about it could create second-generation French parenting disciples: People who are only going on what others have written and done to guide them toward a similar outcome. People like us.

And then you’ll notice that after a few posts about eating and bedtimes, I haven’t written anything else about the Red, white, and nouveau experiment. Here’s why: Very quickly we realized that “French parenting” is just a label that sums up “how we would do things anyway” so our Red, white and nouveau experiment has turned out not to be so much an experiment as daily life. And who blogs about that? 😉

Allow me then to answer the “is it possible to create French parenting disciples?” question: Yes.

Allow me next to outline a few of the high points of French parenting that we have found to be particularly resonant in our lives and a few aspects of the French frame of mind (le frame du mind?) that we have willingly tossed:

1. KEEP: Variety in food exposure.
The little oyster eats just about anything you put in front of her (or the dog…) She’s always happy to try new foods and that’s the point of food exposure, giving things a fair shake. She’ll try anything, most things please her, and I get misty with pride every time. If she never meets a kids’ menu, I’ll consider my work here done.

2. TOSS: Expecting small people to behave like large people.
The French emphasis on training children to fit into an adult world is a worthy one. But let’s get real: The impulse control on little kids is nil and we can either pretend they are mini-adults and treat them as such to universal frustration, or we can realize that they are small people who are still developing and cut them some slack. This is her home, too, and it’s not fair to make her feel like a guest or a criminal when she’s living life the way she knows how. No sense in making everyone sad and miserable when an heirloom shatters in the name of unfair expectations.

3. KEEP: Sleep expectations.
The oyster is a great sleeper. Sleep is a skill. Skills must be taught. We taught her this skill. The oyster is a great sleeper.

4. TOSS: Conformity.
I’d love it if my daughter was the cool kid who was also the nice kid who was also the talented kid who was also the smart kid. Who can sing folk. The French system is focused on building–or, if we’re being cynical, wrestling into submission–good citizens. Fine for them. But that’s not the American way and this is one of those times I’ll beat the drum of the American way. I don’t know yet what my daughter is good at or what her interests are but I’m not about to cut her off at the knees before she can find out. No state-based preschools for us, thanks, and if my child prefers to do her art project with finger paint and some dental floss instead of a neat-and-tidy glue stick and paint brush, so be it.

5. KEEP: Our marriage as our priority.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard about a couple having a kid and the mom turning into a she-beast to the point that her husband sleeps in another room because Junior is now her main, only, and all-consuming priority, I would have bought the domain for this blog by now. The husband and I made vows to one another, not to our children, and we have decided that our marriage comes first. When our marriage is the priority, everyone in the house benefits.

6. TOSS: Curtailed praise.
This is kind of a gray area for us. While I totally agree and practice the French bent toward not throwing a party when your kid uses a fork (for the fortieth time), I do find that cheering her on while she’s learning something new and while she’s  getting used to using a new skill doesn’t cost me anything, helps her out, and no, I don’t think it will make her a “praise addict” in the future. Plus, if you’ve seen the length of my daughter’s legs, you’d know that stepping up stairs is no mean feat and worthy of some cheering.

7. KEEP: The cold shoulder.
Actually I don’t think this is what the French call it, but it’s the same principle. Now and then the little oyster will shriek obnoxiously about something for no good reason and I ignore her, especially if we’re at home. Why? Because she doesn’t need anything from me and learning early that attention can and should be gained in other ways is priceless.

Kids are kids and as such shouldn’t rule the world or our lives but as such, can’t be reasonably expected to act like grown ups with any amount of success. One job of a parent is to prepare another person for the adult world, and we are finding that the best way to do that is by helping her develop skills she’s ready for now and can use always.

And so we end our Red, white and nouveau parenting experiment. Like I said, this is pretty much how we’re doing it anyway, but calling it French parenting every now and then lets me recommend with gusto one of my favorite books, Bringing Up Bebe. Read it, enjoy it, and then raise your kids in a way that jives with your personalities and household. But seriously, try eschewing the kids’ menu next time you’re out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

 

Christmas by candlelight

Last night was the Christmas candlelight service at our church. I hadn’t been feeling so great all day but really wanted to go, so the husband, the oyster and I laid around all day (accompanied by Harry Potter and a few mugs of tea) to save up our energies.

The husband and I don’t put the little oyster into the church nursery on Sundays for a few reasons but we had decided that we would put her into the nursery for the Christmas service. Since she doesn’t walk on her own yet, the husband dropped her off in the 0-1 year old room, where she was easily the biggest guest but also the most interactive. 🙂 When we picked her up immediately after the service ended, she was the last tyke in the room, sitting in the middle of the nursery and singing at the top of her lungs to the nursery volunteers. It seemed like a good time had been had by all.

And the husband and I had certainly enjoyed the service upstairs. Our church did the service by (mostly) candlelight, and in the Lessons and Carols format that was made popular in 19th century England. Just the right mix of choir and congregational singing, although it seemed that the congregational singing might last just a little too long for the husband’s candle, which burned down at an astonishing rate until he was left with just a flickering nub on the last verse of Silent Night, shielding this wee flame from the wayward draft that threatened it on the final strains.

And here below you’ll see the little oyster dressed up for the evening. I would have put her in a dress but her red shirt was so festive and she’s growing out of it, so I wanted it to make one last appearance. Alas, the ribbon barrette didn’t stay in her hair long and by the time it slipped down to around her ear and her shirt came untucked, she looked like she’d been into the eggnog. Remember how I said she doesn’t walk on her own? She doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop her from moving at a shocking speed, as you’ll see in our last photo.

First, a lovely pose.

First, a lovely pose.

 

Then, she's intrigued by Harry Potter.

Then, she’s intrigued by Harry Potter.

 

Finally, chaos.

Finally, chaos.

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.

A credit union, a flower, and six strangers

photo(56)

Her favorite “toy” in the kitchen is the box of garbage bags. She likes the sound it makes when
she pops the cardboard “lid” in and out of the box. Preferences.

 

One of the most exciting and most humbling parts of being a parent is realizing, usually a little more each day, that this tiny person I’m taking care of isn’t just a baby, she’s another person. A whole, complete person and that means she has a personality and preferences of her own. It’s cool to see and like I said, humbling. I think the earlier parents learn that our kids do and will have their own preferences that may not be the same or even similar to ours, the less hurt and offended and frustrated we’ll be as those preferences and personalities develop and gain mass. Helping these little people do just that is part of the whole idea, after all.

Yesterday the little oyster and I went to Old Town with the little sister. We were heading for the used book store on King St. and the little sister had to stop at the credit union. She dashed inside and the little oyster and I sat down on the edge of a large cement planter in a courtyard. Planted behind us was a colorful tangle of little flowers. Tiny white, pink, and yellow blooms were cuddled up with vibrant greenery, each delicate petal and leaf swaying gently in the light breeze.

I love flowers. I love to look at them and take in the colors and decide which blossom I think is the prettiest and which one is the most tenacious and which one I’d want to live in if I were Thumbelina and there were no such thing as ants. I like watching the wind move things. So I faced the little oyster toward the planter and pointed out the different colors. “Flower, baby girl.” “Yellow.” “Petals.” “Bumble bee.” The oyster watched the flowers quietly until a city bus drove by behind us and she craned her little neck over my shoulder to see what she was missing.

I turned us both around to face the street. As the bus chugged by the little oyster squealed with delight. A tall gentleman walked past wearing sunglasses, a messenger bag over his shoulder. The little oyster waved frantically at him and when he smiled, waved back, and greeted her with a “Hello, little girl!” she applauded. As he went into the building she looked for someone else to “talk” to. An older man dressed in gym shorts and a shirt that didn’t match shuffled by. The oyster waved both hands at him and chirped when he paused to wave both hands at her. A woman on a cell phone–smile and wave–delight on both their faces. Six strangers walked by between the time we turned toward the street and when the little sister came of the credit union. Six strangers in my estimation, six new best friends if we ask the little oyster.

By no means is anyone required to acknowledge my sweet baby when we’re out and about, but she’ll do her best to get you to. When we shop, she leans out of the cart and around displays when she hears people talking so she can see them and wave. She grins, her little eyes squinted up like an anime drawing and all six teeth showing, when someone walks by. Sometimes people see her and greet her and she claps for them. Sometimes they walk by unaware of the beaming little face shooting silent friendship rays at them. I make it a point to look people in the eye and smile at them when we pass, but I don’t seek them out the way the little oyster does. I was grabbing a box of Milk Bones off the shelf at Target the other day when a repetitive motion coming from my cart caught the attention of the only other shopper in the aisle. The oyster was bobbing her head like a turkey, staring down the other dog owner. When the lady smiled at the oyster and told her she was such a happy little baby, the oyster let out an ear-splitting shriek of sheer delight. Hear that, Mom? She likes me! We’re friends! I made another friend!

The little oyster is like her dad in this regard. Less shrieking on his part, but the outgoing, “How about those Nats, where are you from, I’ve been there before, let’s get a drink” is the same. You expect big personality from big people, but a lot of people see babies and figure they’re all the same, they’re all “just babies.” Sure they’re babies, but babies are wee people and their personalities may come in earlier than their teeth. I will be a better mom if I learn early and often that my daughter may prefer to watch traffic and wave at strangers instead of stopping to smell the petunias. That’s fine, the bees were getting too close for comfort anyway.

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.

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.