We are not poor, nor are we rich. We have money in our savings accounts, money in our IRAs, and a surplus of diapers, wipes and various other baby things.

Of course, barring these things, we live paycheck to paycheck. Yes, we are in our 30s. We are great at saving money when we have a goal in mind, and almost always have a goal, but that’s the deal with us. I enjoy saving money, and I enjoy having a set plan with what to do with our money, but for some reason, I can’t seem to find the ability to just sock money away for nothing. We pay all our bills early, we have great insurance and everything is paid off. We just aren’t saving towards a house because we know we want to be very close to family, and we just can’t afford to buy a house here- we’re pretty much sure we’re going to rent for our entire lives, which is the price to pay to be close to family.

So we live in a constant state of feeling like we are the pitied family members. Despite all of us agreeing to not give gifts to the adults for Christmas, our siblings (in-law, in my case) still give us gift cards to Target, or luxurious baby gifts they know we can’t afford. We are always thankful, but sometimes it makes you feel really bad about yourself, like you can’t provide these things and thus are a bad parent.

When I buy clothes for any of us, I buy sale clothes, clearance or have a coupon. Otherwise I don’t buy at all. The first time I bought anything clothes wise for myself was two months ago, when Paul made me buy new jeans because mine don’t look right after having the baby and dropping two sizes. Doing that made me feel good about myself, a pair of 29.50 Old Navy jeans. Amazing, right? Afterward I thought about buying another pair, but found the splurge frivolous.

We accept a lot of hand-me-downs, many of them from people I’ve never met in person, or relatives who know how hard it can be for a youngish couple in Los Angeles. Mandy (of OMG Mom) has been so gracious with Mia’s clothes, sending us a ton of adorably cute things I could never buy Piper. Maya (of Kinzie Says) brought Piper two Janie and Jack dresses that I also, would never have bought, but would have likely coveted very very much. So many online friends sent us things for Piper’s birthday, and for her actual birth. From a gorgeous blanket from her friend Girl on the Park, to adorable hair clips from Natalie at I Heart Peonies (gorgeous daughter, Eloise was born not long after Piper!) celebrating Piper’s first birthday. Emily (aka Mrs. Pineapple) sent over the freaking cutest owl bank for Piper’s bedroom, and my friend Tricia sent hand-me-downs, care packages, and a blanket with P’s name embroidered on it when Piper was born. Bluebell (from Zhukeepers) sends us things constantly, and her gift to Piper of a Little Hoot Highchair is a gift we literally use every day. Elizabeth sent us a fantastic wooden owl clock that makes me smile everytime I see it (and I see it a lot, it’s above Piper’s closet door!).

I am amazed by the kindness of people who are seemingly strangers to me. Many have never met me in person, never spoken to me, yet have been such a support in our life. I wish we were more affluent, so I could return the sentiment and send these people tokens to show just how much their thoughts and gifts meant to us.

Instead, I send a package of girl scout cookies here, a box full of Piper’s old newborn clothes there, and books and movies to that person there. I think constantly of being seen as the poor girl again, the one who couldn’t afford the Gap jeans, the Big Dog t-shirts, and the cool haircut. Sometimes I worry that other kids will be able to spot the difference between Piper and themselves, having two parents who never completed college and have to work very hard to get food on the table and cheapish clothes on their backs. I try to have priorities in our spending life, like making sure Piper has the diapers that work for her even though they’re the most expensive disposable diapers out there, and making sure all her food is healthy, organic and pesticide free, even if it means I am eating McDonalds again. I don’t really know if that’s part of being a parent, trying to give better than you have, or if it’s just me trying to overcompensate for not being able to give her more. All I know is that I hope Piper never feels ashamed to bring a friend back to our home because we live in an apartment, or that she lies to friends about the jobs her parents have.

Every day I know I’m doing the best for Piper, and I feel good about that. Every day I have to battle with myself to not let money be an issue. So we have to save up for a few months to plan our family vacation (which is just two nights in Solvang). Piper wakes up happy every morning, and it’s because of US. There are so many people out there who love her, and think of her. There are wonderful people out there who may never meet Piper but still let me/us know that she’s on their minds, with gifts, tokens and words. I wish i had the ability to thank you in turn with gifts that are equally wonderful, but all I have is a thank you.

Thank you for thinking of Piper. Thank you for thinking of me, of US. Thank you so much for being a part of our lives, online or real life. Also, thank you for letting Piper dress like a cool kid through your hand-me-downs. You really have no idea how much that means to me.

I hope everyone out there knows that I’m not thinking purely of material items meaning everything. It was the wonderful words of love we received on her birthday, on my birthday, on our anniversary. It was the fantastic words of support as I was toiling in the hospital trying to give birth. And even before that, it was the immense congratulations we heard when I announced my pregnancy.

I have so many people out there who are so kind to us, who think of us when they have things their child outgrew, knowing we would appreciate them- because we do, SO much.

I appreciate all of you for everything you have ever shown us, done or said.

The online world is a wonder, isn’t it? So many of you care so much for people you may never see, and I love it. I love all of you. :)

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