I have extremely unique criteria for picture books that make it onto my toddler’s bookshelf. The books need to have pretty pictures with plenty of opportunity for discussion. Sometimes we just want to look at… More
This Monday I am pleased to introduce Mary Catherine Awesome. She totally made those corn muffins like forty-seven seconds before that picture was taken but her food is so delicious that it disappears like she’s baking at Hogwarts. Mary Catherine is basically June Cleaver. Except PG-13.
This actual human woman cooks an actual edible dinner for her family of five every night. She sews things. She has eternal patience with her three children. She makes sourdough bread from scratch. She is always laughing and kind to everyone. Thank heaven her house isn’t spotless, or we wouldn’t be able to be friends. Perfection can be SO annoying.
You all read that, right? SHE FREAKING SEWS.
So. We are friends IRL but Mary Catherine is also a blogging newbie. She’s a super great writer so go check her out over at bingewatchinglife.blog. Although, she’s also crazy. She started the blog to chronicle her COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS decision to stop eating sugar. And to stop drinking booze. AT THE SAME TIME. I told her not to do it but she apparently just found out sugar was bad for her. Or something.
I’m kidding. Mary Catherine is once again being a badass while I’m bribing Babystar with our new game M&M Manicure in which I give her a chocolate candy for every fingernail she lets me trim. Mom of the Year over here, y’all.
Mary Catherine was awesome enough to answer some of my questions.
1. Wait, so Regina George was named after your high school? OMG WHAT?! Why??
Totally. OK, so I heard it as a rumor and it may be an urban legend, but I did go to Regina Dominican, an all-girls high school (or as they are called now, a college preparatory school for young women) near the north shore of Chicago–and I’m proud to be a Regina girl! It was SO much fun. But apparently Tina Fey didn’t find Regina girls fun? I think she thought they were bitches. Again, that’s what I’ve heard.
2. Ok, but like for real, HOW do you make sourdough bread from a starter?*
This is a boring answer. Put starter in a bowl with flour, water or milk, and some honey or sugar. Hold your breath. And set out overnight. Next morning, add some salt and baking soda. Stir down with more flour until the batter forms a dough. Pretend you are making coffee so you can knead the sticky dough without “helpers.” Stretch and fold, stretch and fold, standing on one foot, for about ten minutes. Reluctantly let three-year-old in kitchen and have him wash his hands. (Later you will learn this was a decoy for the five-year-old who was stealing them raw dough to eat.) Roll into a rectangle. (The dough, not the child.) Fold into thirds and tuck the ends under. Set in a greased loaf pan. Slash the middle, just to let it know who’s boss. Set in a warm oven to rise for about two hours. Then, without moving the loaf, turn the oven on to 350 and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes. That’s basically how I do it, and it’s different every time. I started baking bread when I was in fourth grade and my mother abandoned me– I mean, got a part-time job and I had afternoons home alone. Using the oven, of course.
3. What is your favorite family holiday tradition? What is something that everyone else does but you skip?
Gosh, my favorite family holiday tradition? That’s really hard for me– I’m very much a traditionalist, so holding on to traditions until they are way past dead is like my life’s work. I love them ALL. But, for brevity, I love having an Advent wreath on our dinner table and singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” as we light the candle every night until Christmas Eve. Everyone else seems to be really into Elf on the Shelf right now. I don’t get that. It’s way cheaper (and more effective, I find) to remind your kids that elves are visible to grown-ups only and are watching them. And every time they start to step out of line from Thanksgiving onward you get to spin your head around super fast and yell, “Was that an elf?!!” It’s part of the reward of parenting, isn’t it?
4. It’s the PTA Bakesale. Handmade, store-bought, or nope?
I think you know the answer to this one. I am a creature prone entirely to stupid flights of culinary heroism and terrible vanity. I will bend over backwards to make something spectacular from scratch, just to hear the chewers sing my praises. Once for a bake sale in high school I made authentic Shaker sugar cookies from an antique Shaker cookbook. But first, I made the butter.
Y’all. She MADE the butter.
*I totally slipped in this question because I was hoping she would ACTUALLY WRITE DOWN instructions for me but nope. What the hell is ‘some flour’? Is that metric??
I am a Textbook Introvert. Two year old Babystar is EXTROVERT AF. Every morning when we wake up, she asks me where we are going and who we are going to see.
This kid is going places. Literally.
We recently went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The museum is free but we paid $4.60 for street parking and $11 to go into the Butterfly Pavilion. The Butterfly Pavilion is a small humid room full of flowers and fruit and butterflies. The butterflies fly freely and one landed on my arm. This happened several weeks ago and Babystar is STILL talking about it!
Any time that any thing is on any person’s arm, Babystar is all LOOK JUST LIKE THE BLUE BUTTERFLY (pronounced fufferfy) ON MAMA’S ARM HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
It’s really funny, y’all.
Babystar also really liked the ‘big elephant‘ in the Rotunda, but who doesn’t love Henry? She was fascinated with the large blue whale statue that hangs from the ceiling, but she said it was ‘too scary’. Also, now she asks me all the time if a whale is coming to bite her. So. Um. Maybe it was too scary.
The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has a cool little hands-on children’s room that I didn’t even know was there. Maybe it’s new? Maybe I just never had a toddler when I was there? It is full of cool science-y things that would really appeal to all ages of children. Some kids were doing puzzles. Some kids were checking out slides on a microscope. Babystar played with magnets for an hour. She would have stayed all day but the time on our parking meter expired.
We plan to go back soon either via metro or parking garage. Street parking is maximum two hours and that was definitely not enough time.
I try to take Babystar on new adventures often, now that she has developed some long term memory. But still we also go the same places over and over. I don’t have time or space in my life to post everything individually, and much of it would be boring and repetitive.
Recently, we have hit up a few old favorites. We have been to Busy Bees four times recently. The first three visits were $15/pop but yesterday I got smart and bought a $36 three-pack. So the next two visits are already paid, and I saved a few bucks. We have gone to Rise and Rhyme at Busboys and Poets twice at $5/visit. Plus we have to count the sweet potato pancake breakfast we always share that is AMAZING and rounds up to $20 with tip. We went to the airport to watch the planes take off twice ($18 total for parking). We went to a friends birthday party and brought a gift and card ($21.98).
RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,659.58
Ok, so I want to be a Chick-fil-A Mom. You know, the kind of mama that doesn’t feed her kid fast food except sometimes we go to Chick-fil-A as a treat. Where the chicken looks like chicken and the toy is a book so I can feel good about my parenting choices.
(And I actually am a literal #chickfilamom this year as I am on the Chick-fil-A Moms Panel which is super cool but I’m still waiting for my free chicken sandwiches. Do I get free chicken sandwiches? Because I want and love free chicken sandwiches. Maybe later? Ok.)
But here’s the thing. If I am having a Good Mom(TM) kind of day, I probably packed a healthy and delicious lunch already. And maybe I fed Babystar some chia seed waffles and a spinach smoothie for breakfast.
And probably we are singing.
Those are usually not the kinds of days that we stop for Fast Food Lunches.
We stop for Fast Food Lunches when it is already 3:00 and I have seven things left on my to-do list. And I only started with eight.
We stop for Fast Food Lunches when the entire day has been full of tantrums and I am broken and just want to sit down someplace agreeable to the ToddlerMonster so I can calm tf down and think for a minute.
We stop for Fast Food Lunches when I didn’t sleep the night before and I kind of just forgot that kids need to eat until I notice that all the other mamas at the park have snacks (and brushed hair) and I am digging in the bottom of my backpack for a squished granola bar.
Those days usually mean McDonald’s. McDonald’s are EVERYWHERE so a McDonald’s lunch doesn’t require too much actual planning. If you want to go to McDonald’s, you basically just drive in one direction for two to ten minutes until you find a McDonald’s.
I now have very strong opinions on both McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A.
McDonald’s sells a $2.99 Happy Meal that includes a tiny serving of French fries AND a choice of apple slices or yogurt. Fries AND Fruit. Plus four kinda-gross, maybe-chicken nuggets. And a drink (currently Mott’s apple juice but they are switching to Honest). Lately, they have been giving out My Little Pony toys and Babystar LOVES ponies. Also, McDonald’s are literally NEVER EVER crowded because there are so many of them, I guess. And no one wants to go inside. The customer service inside is always lacking. And the dining experience is subpar. But you get fries AND fruit. FRIES AND FRUIT.
Chick-fil-A is always crowded and for good reason. Everyone inside is super nice or faking it extremely well. The tables are clean. I love that they clean the tables. Such a basic luxury. The Under 3 toy is always a board book, and the board books are a big hit with Babystar. She has a stack in every room plus the van. The cheapest kid’s meal at our Chick-fil-A is the one-strip meal at $3.29. Sometimes Babystar eats some of the chicken. Mostly she just wants fries and fruit. Which is not an option at Chick-fil-A. You get chicken plus fries OR fruit and a drink (aka Honest apple juice). I have asked at the counter if I could substitute fries for the chicken. I am pretty sure potatoes are cheaper than chicken, and we were out with our vegan friends (one of whom is two years old). The answer was no. And if they rang in everything separately: fries, fruit cup, apple juice, and a toy, the total was over $6. Annoying.
My Chick-fil-A Hack: I order the fruit cup for Babystar with her meal, and then upsize MY fries from medium to large for an extra twenty cents. Then I share some of my fries with her; there are always enough for both of us. Of course, this only works if you are getting an adult meal with the kids meal. I always am. If you have a bunch of kids, just get them the fruit and then one large fry to share.
Which is your favorite? Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s? Or is there another, better, kid-friendly fast food place that we should all know?
So, anyway I did at least manage to Babystar in October. We went to McDonald’s quite often. October was kind of a bitch.
- waffles $2.99, $2.50, $2.50, $2.99, $2.99, $2.99 (I am raising Leslie Knope)
- bananas $1.47, $1.14. $0.87
- blueberries $2.99, $2.99
- turkey pepperoni $4.39
- strawberries $3.49
- TJ Mac & Cheese $2.99, $2.99
- frozen pizza $2.98, $2.98, $2.98
- salmon $3.00
- bread $2.99, $2.99
- TJ potato crunchies $1.99
- peanut butter $2.29
- TJ vegan bars $2.29, $2.29, $2.29, $2.29
- Roast turkey $8.19
- TJ fruit bars $1.99, $1.99, $1.99, $1.99
- apples and pears from the orchard $28
- cookies from the orchard $4
- TJ letter cookies $2.99
- Honest juice $3.99, $3.99
- eggs $3.99
- bacon $8.99
- Cava Mezze French fries $7 with tip
- Costco hot dog $1.50, $1.50
- Costco pizza $2.99
- Barnes and Noble apple juice $1.35, $1.35
- Barnes and Noble m&m blondie $2.65
- Dogfish Ale salmon kids meal $12.00 with tip
- BGR sliders kid’s meal $5.99
- BGR m&m cookie $1.99
- spring rolls $6.95
- pizza slice $4.35
- frozen yogurt cup $5.98
- Chick-fil-A kid’s meal $3.29 plus .20
- Chick-fil-A kid’s meal $3.29 plus .20
- Chick-fil-A kid’s meal $3.29 plus .20
- McDonald’s kid’s meal $2.99, $2.99, $2.99, $2.99, $2.99, $2.99
Plus other things that don’t need a post of their own.
- Laundry detergent $8.46
- Storage $127
- Diapers $4.99
- Diapers $23.49 (I see you raising your prices, Target.)
- Wipes $2.99, $4.99, $1.49, $4.99 (I’m trying some new brands.)
- pedicure with mommy $10 (I’ve discussed this before. She loves her blue toes.)
RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,473.00
September was the kind of hot that made me doubt Fall even existed. October gave us a few less-than-scalding days, but it was still too warm for a jacket. Or socks. FINALLY, now that is is freaking November, cooler weather has descended upon the us here in the DC area. Praise be. Hallelujah. Amen. Blessings to the Horae. All of it.
Babystar is super lucky; she has a Grammy that loves to shop. And by that I mean that WE are all very lucky that Grammy loves to shop, because we get surprise boxes of clothes throughout the year. Last month we received a box full of 3T leggings and a few other random outfits.
Fun fact: Grammy (aka my MIL) has started removing all of the tags before mailing so that I cannot exchange anything. And almost everything she sends is pink. Or flowery. Or pink and flowery. Grammy is also on board with the star theme so we get a lot of star prints too. I love it. I really do love it. But the tag thing is hilarious.
So obviously, Babystar is SET on leggings this fall. In fact, the leggings drawer literally overfloweth. AND YET I BOUGHT TWO MORE PAIRS OF LEGGINGS ANYWAY. Partially to balance the pink and partially because Target was having a sale on Cat and Jack but mostly because LOOK HOW SWEET. ($3.75 each! Cat and Jack was 25% off of already stupidly low prices. COME. ON.)
We also bought a few long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts that should last the season. (Maybe. I do love a good sale. And I kind of hate laundry.)
Clockwise from the rocket ship: $5.99, $8.99, $4.50, $5.99, $5.99, $3.75, $5.99. Everything was 25% off except the Ghostbusters tee. But obviously we had to buy the Ghostbusters tee. With tax, everything was $51.62.
I will probably buy her a coat or something this winter. (Probably this one.) If my lovely MIL doesn’t send a box of various coats in various lengths and various weights and various fabrics first. (I love it. I hope that is coming through. I really do love her thoughtfulness, and she waited a long freaking time for a grandchild.)
Unrelated (always related): I have been encouraging the toddler to choose her own clothes. That is my version. Her version might be different and include the phrase “I do what I want.” But the end result is that I have learned a fashion secret. Nobody but NOBODY can mix patterns like a Toddler.
RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,020.55
I freaking LOVE Halloween!
I have a box of spooky Halloween decorations in the basement, PROBABLY WITH REAL SPIDERS BECAUSE BASEMENT. This year, all of the morbidly awesome decorations are staying in that box in the basement.
Babystar says everything is ‘too scary.’
Ok, she’s totally right, but LAAAAAAAME.
This year we embraced the pumpkin. We bought seventy-five MILLION pumpkins and mini gourds and mini pumpkins and more pumpkins at the cutest little orchard in Thurmont, Maryland. ($46.85.)
We piled the pumpkins all over the house.
We had a pumpking painting party for Babystar’s friends. And my friends. Let’s be real; she’s two years old. I pick her friends. ($13 for stickers, $3.99 for muffins. I already had lots of paint. And lots of apples.)
In definite non-scary but totally adorable form, we are dressing as llamas this Halloween. Everyone thinks we are sheep, probably because the costume cannot actually extend our necks. So we spit on everyone instead. Just kidding. Maybe. ($25 for the Toddler Llama and $20 each for the Teenager Llama and Mama Llama. $1 for the plastic pumpkin.)
This picture is actually from Saturday, and it was rather warm that afternoon. I’ve got my llama toes out. We’ll wear the same costumes for Trick-or-Treating tonight, and I hope it’s a lot cooler. Literally cooler, like temperature-wise. I’m sure it will be fine either way though, because Babystar is 100% ON BOARD with this whole Begging-for-Candy situation.
RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,098.77