{this moment}

A Friday ritual: a single photo, unaccompanied by explanation, which captures “a simple, special, extraordinary moment…I want to pause, savor and remember.” ~SouleMama

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If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.
A Friday ritual: a single photo, unaccompanied by explanation, which captures “a simple, special, extraordinary moment…I want to pause, savor and remember.” ~SouleMama

Babies Don’t Cost That Much: Baby Monitor

Welcome to the first part of a new series we’ve created called “Babies Don’t Cost That Much.” Throughout this series, we will touch on different points of interest about the cost of raising a baby. We completely resent the “You have to buy this product or you’re a horrible parent” tactic that the manufacturers employ, profiting from the fears of vulnerable parents. When companies say “Don’t you want what’s best for your baby?” I normally translate it to “Don’t you want what’s best for our stockholders?” I could continue and probably get into a heated debate about Company A versus Company B and all that, but this post is just about how we saved money on one baby item…

So many people go on and on about how EXPENSIVE babies are (because you HAVE to buy the latest product) and how much WORK it is and blah blah blah. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and we definitely don’t consider raising a child “work” with the negative connotations that word invokes. It may be challenging at times, yes, but we decided to have a baby because we knew that we were ready to take whatever life throws at us and lovingly raise our child the best possible way we can. And one part of that is to not spend money that we don’t need to, otherwise known as wasting money.

The first post of this series will be about the baby monitor. Not the ones that look like a baby walkie-talkie that our parents used back in the 80s (although they probably could have bought walkie-talkies and duct taped the send button down for a continuous audio feed from the crib for a cheaper version), but the new, fancy-shmancy video ones that transmit not only audio but a video signal as well throughout your home using your wireless router. More secure from random creepsters trolling radio frequencies (I’m sure the NSA creepsters can see my baby sleep though), and the video can help us keep an eye on him and make sure he’s breathing without having to open the creaky door, walk on the creaky floor, and risk waking him up. And you can watch your naughty dog sneaking licks…

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Have you ever shopped for these things? Pretty expensive. And what if you want another receiver so you can watch/listen for your baby while you’re moving around your home doing things like cooking and cleaning and hanging pictures and gardening and everything you can possibly think of doing while you have the time and not have to worry about remembering to carry that monitor with you everywhere you go (when your hands are probably full anyway)? Keep on ratcheting up that price…

My solution: Wireless Security Camera. Bought it online for $60 with free shipping. That specific model is now discontinued, but both TigerDirect.com and newegg.com, have similar items in stock. And you can search other stores as well. But for $60 (and free 2-day shipping since it was right around Christmas) I was able to score a wireless security camera that I mounted above the crib, set up to work with my wireless network in the house, and I can access it from any device attached to the network. Multiple receivers = no extra cost because of the existing computers we have in the home. I can have it open on my computer in the office while I’m working. L can have it open on her computer wherever she’s working. I can have it open on my “smart” phone. And if I ever get un-lazy enough to set up remote access to my network, L and I can go out to dinner, leave WV at home with a sitter, and see/hear him from my phone while we’re enjoying duck confit and seared salmon…

And once it has served its time as a baby monitor, I can mount it near an exterior door and record if any intruders want to come inside the home with the fancy motion activated recording capability. Or run an extension cord and spy on the chickens. Or watch the garden grow. Or point it to the sky and do a cool time-lapse video the next time a hurricane comes through. Or sell it. Or never use it again and still be better off than I would be had I bought a $250 system that does the same thing.

Stay tuned for more money saving posts, and feel free to share any ways you and your family have done the same!

Our CSA Experience, so far

Remember the failed $50 grocery experiment? Well, not to be discouraged, we have continued to search for ways to lower our monthly food budget.

The past few summers, we have been pretty reliant on the Yorktown and Williamsburg Farmers Markets on Saturday mornings for our fresh, local vegetables and eggs (and sometimes meats). We knew it was a little more expensive to eat this way, but figured it was worth it to have the peace of mind that we know what we’re putting into our bodies and we’re supporting local farmers rather than giant companies with their franken-foods and huge distributors. And yes, we do grow a lot of our own, but we can only grow so much with the amount of space we have.

Our neighbor came to us to ask if we would be interested in going in together on a full CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. This is something I had considered in the past, but never put too much thought into it because of the upfront cost. Well, we did just a teeny tiny bit more research and found out that it is definitely worth the upfront cost, and signed up in a heartbeat. It comes out to just a little more than $13 a week for fresh, local produce from May through September. And it’s a lot of produce. We essentially get an overflowing brown paper grocery bag each Friday, which we split in half and still is an overflowing brown paper grocery bag, and we’re pretty much set on veggies for the week. With a nice note attached each week from the farmers themselves (see below). Can’t get that at the grocery store OR the market.

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Now, we still have to go to the store to buy a few things, but we really enjoy picking up a bag of fresh produce each Friday afternoon. And we play a little guessing game as to what we think will be in the bag each time. So far we’ve had some absolutely delicious strawberries, lettuce, mixed greens, green onions, cabbage, radish, Swiss chard, Pac Choy, arugula, and broccoli. It also forces us to come up with or find new recipes to eat what we have on hand (stay tuned for additions to the recipes page throughout the next few months).┬áSo between the CSA and our own garden, we should be pretty set for not only eating fresh produce throughout the summer, but saving what we don’t eat (need to buy a pressure canner… any advice?).

I won’t go into full details on the cost breakdown of our food budget just yet, as we have to wait a few months to see the results of the initial upfront investment, but I just wanted to share about our experience so far with the CSA and the delicious produce we have received. Here’s a link to the farm if you are interested in finding out more information: Dayspring Farm.