Great Plates.

I know, I know. Nobody asked me.  <raises hand>  But I’m going to share with the class anyway.

Design

Babystar uses four different types of plates. I did not research ALL OF THE PLATES (like I did with strollers and that was hell) so there may be better options out there. Pretty please let me know in the comments if you have any of these and like/hate/feel nothing about them. Or if you have a favorite that I have not listed.

ezpz mini mat

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LOVE

  • It fits on our Ikea high chair tray.
  • It is perfect on the living room side table or restaurant table because it does not slide easily.
  • The divided tray encourages Babystar to eat a variety of foods.
  • It’s silicon, so it’s BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates free.
  • Dishwasher safe (top rack).
  • It’s freaking adorable!
  • The extra lip around the food sections is a great place to put tiny bites from my plate that she may or may not try. But she does not get upset about them because they are not (apparently) technically in her food areas.

SIDE-EYE

  • It is really easy to move around on the tray or table. It does NOT suction. It is well designed but most kids are smart enough to pick it up if that is their goal.
  • Babystar does like to move her plates from room to room because she takes ninety minutes to finish a meal. These plates are rubbery so very difficult for her to carry without spilling. (I get that this is only an issue for some kids.)
  • These plates are quite expensive. If you want several different colors or have more than one kid, you are spending some serious dough.

VERDICT

  • I like the two we own (one was a gift at a MommyCon session). I also have one of the bowls, which does not fit on the Ikea high chair tray but is great for art supplies. I definitely LOVED these plates a bunch when Babystar was just learning to eat and would get frustrated when her plate or bowl moved around unintentionally. My advice: get one or two for when your baby is first learning to eat. Once he or she can pick up the plate, it’s time to teach them not to do that anyway. I like it as a ‘training plate’. And then as a travel plate.

 

Re-Play Divided Plate

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LOVE

  • Re-Play is a great company that I kind of want to make out with. Their products are made from recycled milk jugs. In America. And did you hear the part about RECYCLED MILK JUGS??
  • BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates free.
  • Dishwasher safe (top rack).
  • The sections on the divided plates are deep enough to put actual food in, even runny stuff, like fried eggs or oatmeal or even, EVEN, cereal with milk. Whoa.
  • The divided sections also encourage her to eat a variety or foods. She NEEDS something different in each section. (So it also encourages ME to be a good mama and balance her meals. Thanks, fam.)
  • So far they have proven indestructible but I have not tried them on the bottom rack of the dishwasher (dun dun dunnnnnn). Which is great because Babystar likes to carry her plates around these days. (I really cannot figure out why she needs a change of scenery mid-meal.)
  • There are so many pretteeee colors from which to choose!
  • They are very affordable! I linked the plates from Abby’s Lane above because that online shop offers free shipping, and sells the plates individually for $3.25 each, in case you want to try one. You can buy direct from Re-Play here, but they sell the plates in 2-packs for $5.99. The catch is that you have to spend $79 for free shipping, and I hate that rule. I hate most rules tbh.

SIDE-EYE

  • Ahem. I must spend $79 for free shipping on the Re-Play website? AND their shipping is expensive. No, thank you.

VERDICT

  • Yes, please. We love these. But beware: if you have a plate thrower (opa!), these plates are irresistibly light and frisbee-esque. However, they aren’t going to break so there’s that.

 

IKEA KALAS Plate

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LOVE

  • These plates are SO affordable! Six for $2.49!! I bought a few packs and I use them for everything: play date snacks, stuffed animal birthday parties, and tossing in the diaper bag for picnics. I have lost a few along the way and I DON’T EVEN CARE.
  • The are BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates free.
  • They are dishwasher safe.
  • They are kind of the perfect size.

SIDE-EYE

  • The plates are not divided, and Ikea does not offer a divided plate option. Sometimes that is fine. Other times it is less fine. The problem is that Babystar (being a typical toddler) never really gives me a heads up.
  • The plates are almost too light. I like their weightlessness when I am carrying them in Babystar’s bag, but they do tend to get swiped onto the floor a little too easily.
  • They are available online but shipping is $10, so you have to either live near an Ikea or know someone who does. Or buy a whole bunch of stuff from Ikea to make it worth it which would definitely be my preference. Go check out their pillows. I’ll wait. (I definitely sent several packs of the KALAS bowls to my nephew in another state whenever someone was headed that way.)

VERDICT

  • Worth having on hand, even if you don’t have kids. I totally owned some before Babystar was born for visiting children. The price is amazing. The product is good enough.

 

Regular Dinner Plates

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LOVE

  • I’m pretty sure she feels like such a BIG GIRL when her plate matches mommy’s (and everyone else’s if it’s dinnertime).
  • This is extremely economical. Unless. Unless your child breaks them all the time and you have to pay for more adult plates (although this is like the salad plate size) or some ER visits from glass shard related injuries.

SIDE-EYE

  • Ok, first of all, and not plate related, but maybe don’t give the baby metal weapons utensils, even if they were given to you by her grandmother and used to belong to her father. Even then.
  • Also, we so fancy, and our dinnerware (though very cheap to acquire, dude, I bought an entire set of vintage Franciscan Starburst for fifty bucks from some clueless amazing person on craigslist), would be very expensive to replace. That does not mean I do not TOTALLY wish I had the child plate version of this pattern. But I just found one online after an hour of searching and it was $90 soooooooo I’m thinking that’s probably a nope.
  • Babystar likes to carry her food around. I would not freak out about the broken plate if she dropped it, but I would DEFINITELY freak out about the sharp ceramic shards on and around my baby.
  • Again, it’s not divided. (Though the child’s plate version is but I don’t have that one so please mail me one ok thank you.)

VERDICT

  • I don’t think this is a super great idea. Probably don’t do it. But also, you know, live your life.

 

My little Babystar has started this cool thing where she wants to eat twenty-five hours of the day. Yes, twenty-five. Because twenty-four doesn’t seem to be enough. I guess she’s trying to grow so she can reach the cookies.

My stack of five re-play divided plates was no longer even getting us through a whole dishwasher cycle, because of that whole CONSTANTLY EATING thing. I just acquired four more plates. Two were purchased by grandparents and two by me ($6).

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,297.37

 

 

Elephants and Turtles and Snakes and Turtles and Turtles.

Just the other day, Babystar and I took an impromptu trip to the zoo. The weather was perfect and the Toddler REFUSED to get dressed to go to whatever class we were planning to attend that morning. (I am 99% sure it was a baby dance class because we have been trying to go to that at Nook but so far have literally never made it.)

She only wanted to read books in her pajamas. When we came to a book with a zoo (Peek-a-Who by Nina Laden), I asked her if she wanted to go to the zoo instead. She ran to put her shoes on right away. (I explained about getting dressed and she went along with my suggestion begrudgingly.)

I have been to the zoo many times but never with just a Toddler. I let Babystar direct our traffic and it was the best day. We spent more time than you would think watching a waterfall, we skipped some of the more popular attractions, and we watched one of the elephants eat an ENTIRE pile of hay. Babystar hissed some Parseltongue at her snake friends whom she ADORES. And we spent a very long time hanging out at the lemur exhibit, though we did not see a single lemur. There were about a million turtles swimming in the water surrounding the lemur mountain and Babystar waved to all of them. Individually.


I learned about a lot of good ‘stop for snack’ spot that I might otherwise have not noticed.


I highly recommend this exercise if you have the time and a spare toddler.

I packed lots of water and snacks so we didn’t spend a penny, but that is because we are FONZ which is a fancy way to say ‘zoo members’ in the DC area. $80 per year gives us a few cool perks but we bought it mostly for the free parking. Which we bought last fall when Babystar started learning about animals. And I forgot to add it back then, so I’ll add it now.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,291.37

 

Hop to It.

The Easter Bunny gets all the credit for hiding baskets on Easter morning, yet he (or she) always takes the money out of my bank account. So rude. Who keeps giving that rabbit my pin number?

 

There was BARELY any chocolate in that basket. Well, maybe a little more than that. Babystar ate all of it (except the bigger chocolate bunny which I hid and I hope she forgot about but she’s very smart about her chocolate so maybe not). She was like Cookie Monster, but with chocolate. Like Winnie the Pooh with his honey, but chocolate. Like Voldemort likes killing muggles, but with chocolate.

  • chocolate, about $4 worth, including a few small individually wrapped bunnies and kisses and a $1 Russel Stover bunny and a “carrot” full of m&m’s
  • Crayola egg crayons $10.59
  • Crayola 64 box of crayons $2.99
  • Crayola paint pens (BOGO but I put one directly into the craft closet) $4.99
  • stuffed yellow crayon $10.55
  • Re-play ‘big girl cups’ (7) $17.50
  • three pairs of sunglasses (two are hearts because I lost her faves which were $5.99 but I never listed them here whoops I’m doing it now) $16.97
  • flowers for planting in a cute egg carton $3
  • fairy doll $14.99
  • light up wand and ball (I bought these long ago and gave her one already) $3
  • Dr. Suess ABC board book $3.34
  • Oliver Jeffers ABC board book $6.85
  • easter socks $2.50
  • Goodnight Moon board book $4.99
  • cloth basket $3
  • fake grass $1

I also was going to add the Re-play forks and spoons to her basket but they wouldn’t fit. So they are just in the kitchen drawer. $12.

We bought $3 worth of plastic eggs for an egg hunt. And then bought stickers and small rubber stamps to fill them for $38.12. This baby is expensive. I should have just bought more chocolate.

And of course there was the requisite easter balloon ($3.50) which popped in the parking lot so we had to go in and get another ($3.50).

Oh, and she fell in love with a stuffed bunny while we were at the bookstore. It didn’t go in her easter basket but I’ll talk about it here. She was obsessed. Still is, in fact. She slept with the bunny last night and she NEVER sleeps with stuffed animals. ($12.99)

And we are dying eggs tonight, with my 3.5 yo niece, to spread out the Easter celebrations. I bought four dozen eggs on sale for $2. (Please don’t make me think about the living conditions of those poor chickens with eggs that cheep cheap. I had to make an easter pun to stop thinking about it. Poor, poor chickens.) We also bought giant marshmallows to color. ($3.29 x2) I also bought a $2 Paas tie-dye egg coloring kit. And some canned whipped topping ($5) and neon food coloring ($5.49 RIP-OFF) to try a method that the teens and I did successfully with shaving cream when I was pregnant but we are concerned the Littles might lick their fingers. I already have a large amount of vinegar. We are ready! BRB gonna go dye some eggs, y’all.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,211.37

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taxes.

I have decided not to consider or ‘subtract’ the child tax credit because that is waaaay too much math. (Since it’s not a straight deduction from our tax bill — or is it? I don’t even understand it really.) Also, any tax credit credit IN NO WAY covers the cost of raising a child. And definitely not this privileged little middle-class Babystar in our privileged pocket of America. But mostly because we literally never get a tax return. We always always always have to pay. How much or how little depends on the year, but there is no refund headed our way.

So that is why. If you were wondering.

Also regarding taxes: Sometimes I add in the sales tax when adding up Babystar’s total and sometimes I don’t. Quite honestly, it really depends on how easy it is to add the tax to the total. I save receipts, and I have a giant list on my phone of what we purchase for Babystar. If it is an Abby’s Lane email receipt for a Babystar purchase, I’ll add the total including tax. If it is a Target receipt with a bunch of other non-Babystar items, I’m not adding the sales tax. (I am definitely not asking the cashier to ring Babystar’s items separately so I can be more accurate, like I would if this bloggy experiment were an actual job. But now that I type this, maybe I should. It would definitely make my receipt pile smaller and more accurate.)

Just if you were wondering.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,003.94

Ponies and Cars and Ponies and Ponies.

And a school. And some more stuff.

Last Saturday, I worked a booth selling donated books and games at a flea market to raise money for the Organization for Autism Research.

April is Autism Awareness Month. Almost everyone has heard of Autism Speaks and Light It Up Blue, which is cool, but if you dig deeper, Autism Speaks spends a lot of their money trying to find a ’cause’ or a ‘cure’ for autism. (Hint: it is not vaccines.) There are other organizations that spend more time and money advocating for those with autism and helping families with important resources. OAR is the latter, and I heart them for it. I digress.

I didn’t even LOOK at the other vendors until the ToddlerMonster came to visit. She wanted to walk around. Well, really she wanted to run but we compromised.

We came home with a vintage Fisher Price airplane ($10), schoolhouse ($10) and dollhouse ($5, not pictured because I think it is still in the van) that all need a good cleaning. (These might really be for me, but I pretend they are for Babystar. Or maybe the other way around? I think I need to do a post on ALL of the vintage Fisher Price I have acquired since Babystar’s birth…)


We also found other cheaper plastic airplanes for one dollar each ($4) and a yellow bouncy ball (free) and some old Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars ($5) and a stuffed penguin ($1) and like a million PONIES ($1). I only had one dollar left and Babystar kept pulling tiny ponies out of a giant bin of plastic toys and screeching in joy and hugging them so the girl selling them insisted that we take as many as we could find for that dollar. (I also bought a chair for myself from her mother so I don’t think we used Babystar’s cuteness to take advantage of them. Too much.)


RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,003.94

 

Food and Snacks and Snack Stacks.

I love Re-Play Recycled kid’s plates and utensils. One look at my Instagram is all the proof you need. If you need proof. Like, if you think I’m constantly lying to you. Wait, what? Oh yeah.

Re-Play. I also love the Snack Stacks. I have three of the containers and three lids, so I can use them together or separately. I find myself making snacks in advance and putting them in the refrigerator so I can easily pack the Baby Bag in the mornings. (My family, we are not a morning people. Not even little Babystar. Weird, right? Babies are usually known for their 5am parties.)

Now Babystar likes the Snack Stack containers to hold her crayons at various impromptu workstations throughout the house so that she can create masterpieces the very moment that inspiration strikes. Brilliant artist, that one.

Clearly, I needed more. A few weeks back, Re-play had a great 50% off all Snack Stacks sale, so I bought the Rainbow Set for $25.24 including shipping. (I despise their $79 minimum shipping but the $6 shipping was worth it for such a great sale. The regular price for that set of twelve containers plus lids is $38.50. Score!)

So pretty.

And here is all of the food I purchased in March for Babystar. (These food posts are boring but important for accuracy. And I love accuracy. Again, I’m only counting food that I buy specifically for Babystar. We share our food with her, of course. And she shares hers with us. But for math purposes, I count all of the extra stuff that I would not have bought if she didn’t exist. Except now I count half of the money spent on frozen pizza and tots because we sort of buy those for both the Teen and the ToddlerMonster now. She LOVES tater tots.)

March Food

  • Watermelon 2.69, 2.55, 4.33
  • Chia waffles 3.59×2
  • Bananas .46
  • Granola bars 8.99 (Costco)
  • Ice cream 2.98
  • Tots 2×2.79
  • Mac and cheese 2.99×4
  • Pears 2.99
  • Clementines 2.99
  • Cheese 3.19
  • Eggs 3.99
  • Apple bars 1.99
  • Graham crackers 1.99
  • Apples 6.98
  • Frozen pizzas 12.00
  • Strawberries 8.00
  • Angelica Pizzeria slice 3.64×2
  • Chik-fil-A 2-strip kids meal 4.65×3
  • McDonalds Happy Meal (sans meat) plus Cutie clementine 3.49

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,967.94

Toddler Art.

Ever since we started going to Nook in January, Babystar LOOOOVES to ‘do art’. One of my most very very favorite things about Nook is that the Toddler Art stayed on tables that were miles from my house. (Because it sure as hell didn’t stay on the paper.) But alas. No longer.

My craft closet used to be very grown up, but now all the fun dangerous needles and permanent markers and poisonous glues are on the high shelf (where I can’t even reach) and the closet is full of crayons and washable markers and finger paints and water colors and cool painting books and construction paper. And stickers. Oh em effing gee with the stickers.

Babystar loves them. I’ve mentioned the reusable ones I got at the Children’s Library in Richmond. We ordered more from Amazon ($x.xx) because she can actually ‘do stickers’ by herself, but only with the puffy set. I like having seven whole minutes to get ready to go out or cook an entire dinner or clean an entire room or whatever (I can do amazing things in seven minutes), so we needed more puffy sticker sets. They do eventually wear out. Especially the way she uses them which is to put ALL OF THE STICKERS on top of each other in a big pile. It’s hilarious. And ridiculous. Just like a toddler.

She also loves coloring, and will color with her crayons by herself at her little table for a giant chunk of time (like maybe NINE minutes). She has been telling me the names of the colors, and she is right about 61% of the time. (She nails yellow 100% because yellow is her bae.) It’s kind of amazing.

The regular stickers and the markers and stamps and the paint books and the water colors are all fully supervised activities at this point. I once got up to change the water in her water color cup and she was sucking on the paintbrush when I got back. So. Yeah.

I have not braved the finger paints yet. Some day. There is no return from that kind of madness.

However, I love arts and crafts so I’m excited that Babystar does too. I hope it sticks. The Teenager and I have so much fun doing cool arts and crafts so I am hoping that Babystar will still be into it when she’s old enough to up her game.

  • Jumbo crayons (her first pack got pretty broken at play dates) $2.99
  • 24-pack of smaller crayons (she prefers these anyway) $1.39
  • Kid’s paints $4.99
  • Variety pack of cheap brushes and sponges $4.99
  • inkpad and stamps (one is an airplane of course) $4
  • finger paint and pad $8.35
  • 21 more packs of $1 stickers from Micheals (with coupon) $16.80

(I still love Nook. In fact, we re-nooked our membership for another $120 recently. I’ll keep it up as long as she keeps going and keeps loving it. I’m headed there shortly. Plus they have some safe hippie nontoxic version of play-doh which Babystar loves and I WILL NOT buy play-doh for the house. HAHAHAHAHAH. Until I do, right?)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,829.48

Balloon Life.

Toddlers like balloons.

Toddlers love balloons.

Toddlers are obsessed with balloons.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t generalize. MY TODDLERMONSTER CAN NOT GET ENOUGH BALLOONS in her life. She’s living that balloon life.

This Peanuts balloons has been around longer than the actual Peanuts comic strip. I think we brought it home in late January. I will miss this one when it’s gone. $6.99.

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This lucky little guy moved in at the beginning of the month, but he’s still hanging around looking shiny. $3.99.

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And these superstars were given to Babystar when we left the Children’s Museum last week, or the week before, they are all running together. We drove them ninety miles home because we love that little ToddlerMonster.

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They hang out near the sky because they are stars, duh. Also because one of the strings is only about four centimeters long.

Does anyone else have a balloon-obsessed toddler?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,665.97

 

 

Worker (Ba)Bee.

Babystar likes tools.

Since it’s kinda dangerous and pretty dirty and maybe illegal to let her play with the tools on my workbench, we got her a set of toy tools. (Yes, I said MY workbench. I 100% guarantee that my husband would agree.)

They are cute and sturdy and BPACDEFG-free and made of recycled materials in the USA. This is my first Green Toys purchase, but I totally dig them. I bought them at Home Goods so they were less expensive than usual. Which I also totally dig. ($16.99 instead of $27.99.)

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Babystar digs them too. She took the pliers on the airplane to Florida earlier this month,  and ‘fixed’ the airplane window. Whew. Those other travelers don’t know how close we came to a possible broken window. Babystar to the rescue.

(Note: I had to go to their website to look up the actual retail price since I bought them at Home Goods. They have a pink set. Gross. GIRLS LIKE BLUE TOO. At least the tea set comes in both pink and blue too. BUT STILL.)

And while we are on the topic of fixing things, the living room ball pit has been getting some serious abuse aggressive love by visiting older kids. It’s totally to be expected, and a large part of me wants it to break completely and be out of my life, but alas. Babystar loves it too much. So we bought some Duck tape (yes, Duck, that’s the brand) and fixed the broken loops. $3.77. She picked yellow, so they don’t match the other loops at all but whatever. Also, we took the ball pit downstairs so it maybe gets less abuse and so I maybe don’t have to look at it as much. Win-win.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,654.99

 

HOOO Turned Off the Light?

Once upon a time, over Christmas break of 2015, we adopted a super cute Skip Hop owl night light courtesy of the Myrtle Beach grandma. The blue owl sits on my nightstand and glows while Babystar nurses to sleep each night. The very wise owl gently turns itself off after thirty minutes. I love this thing!


One day many months ago, Babystar was playing with the owl an dropped him onto the floor. A piece of plastic broke off of the battery case. We fixed this by covering the bottom tightly with packing tape.

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We use this owl every night. After a few battery changes, the tape method grew less effective and more annoying. If the nightstand was nudged at all, the owl would abruptly flicker off, sometimes causing bedtime distress and NOBODY LIKES BEDTIME DISTRESS.

We replaced the owl in November. ($19.03 via Amazon Prime.) Bedtime improved greatly until a few weeks in to the new owl coming to live with us. Owl #2 broke for real. Even more broker than Owl #1. The battery pack legit broke off and fell inside the owl completely. In fact, we have been using the OG (less) broken owl for months, with our handy tape hack. Fast forward to March and we finally got around to calling Amazon and they replaced it with no issue. Amazon is awesome or maybe we just spend waaaay too much money on Amazon but either way, YAY.

Let’s see how this goes. Take three.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,634.23