Wednesday, February 2

a penny saved is one more penny than you might otherwise have (I think that's how it goes)

As many of my friends and family have started families and given birth, I've noticed that our society has many rituals and routines revolving around the arrival of an infant. There are the medical ones: the check-ups and the ultrasounds and listening for the heartbeat and deciding which birthing method is ideal for you. There's also the creative and unique process of choosing a baby's name (which is one of my favorite rituals by far!) And then there are the material and practical preparations that personally leave me feeling a bit baffled.

Box-stores and baby registries have made it really simple to decide what I need (or want) for the Little Oyster. But at the same time all the options almost make it more overwhelming and confusing for me (and I'm going to say it's overwhelming for Luke too). Back when we did a bridal registry we made a simple list of a few things we'd need for our house/life together. But the store had many more suggestions for us, and even went as far as to tell us that our registry was skimpy (how rude). I can only imagine that the baby registry would echo the same sentiment, and then promptly provide a list of more things that would make infant care way easier and way more comfortable. So I'm left to wonder, do all those gadgets and things actually simplify the process of raising a baby, or are they a way for corporations to sell me more stuff I don't need (at their profit)? I'm inclined to think the latter.

Ok, so Luke and I are novices. And maybe all the seasoned and experienced parents out there are just giggling at our naivety and idealism. And maybe when our 2nd, 3rd, and 9th babies come around, we too will look back at our 2011 selves with mirth. But in the meantime we have devised a plan that we hope will:

1) cost as little money to ourselves and loved ones as possible
2) create as little waste and over-consumption as possible
3) simplify the process of preparing for an infant
4) simplify the process of caring for an infant

I will spare you the laborious details, but ultimately we have made a list of items that we think will be essential (or close enough to "essential") for the Little Oyster's first year. We decided upon these items by personal observation, past experiences with babies, and lots of advice/opinions from people who have successfully shepherded their offspring into toddler-hood. Then we took that list and figured out which items friends and family have offered us used and for free (turns out people love to bequeath baby items to pregnant friends). With the reduced list we determined what we could buy used and cheaply from places like Craiglist and yard sales. That leaves us with less than half of the list that might not come from local sources.

But here's the best part. It turns out that many things that people use for babies are pretty dang easy (and adorable) to make! Quilts, blankets, swaddling blankets, re-usable baby wipes, bags, bibs, crib bumpers, many toys, and I'm sure many, many more things, require only a basic knowledge of sewing and a little spare time. So I'm endeavoring to make our list even smaller by using lots of 50% off coupons from Jo-Ann fabrics, clean and cute sheets from thrift shops, and whatever superfluous items I can find around the apartment to aid us as we prepare the way for the wee one.

Exhibit A: a flat crib sheet made from a jersey sheet in our closet that doesn't fit our bed. This sheet tucks under the crib mattress on all four sides. I hear some moms like these better than the fitted ones. I plan to make a fitted one in the near future too, but I thought I'd start with this version first. A flat sheet is so simple to make!

1. Cut a piece of fabric big enough to tuck under all sides of a mattress (for this one I did 2 yards long x 45 inches wide).
2. Miter the edges to give it a nice squared look.
3. Fold all sides under about 3/4 of an inch and press.
4. Zig-zag stitch along all the raw edges.
5. Check "crib sheet" off the list of baby items still needed.

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