Baby Leash.

At least it’s not a muzzle.

(BRB going to google if toddler muzzles are a thing. No? No. Ok, cool. I didn’t want one anyway.)

Babystar is an unpredictable little ToddlerMonster. As is to be expected. I love the unpredictable things she says to me all the time. I love most of the unpredictable things she does all day long. I do not love the sudden unpredictable public sprints.

Like many good parents, we tricked the trusting little monster. She wanted her very own backpack. Mommy has a backpack. Big Sister and Big Brother have backpacks. Her cousins have backpacks. I borrowed one of the Skip Hop Zoo collection backpacks (with safety strap) from a friend for a trial run. She loved it, and barely notices if I have to grab the safety strap. Not a leash. A safety strap.

Whatever. It’s a leash. And I don’t care.

She loves that she can carry around a few books and a toy car or tiny Care Bear or whatever. I love that if my own backpack gets too heavy I can fit her water bottle into HER backpack and help her become an independent human and build a strong character and mostly take some weight and bulk out of my own bag. I don’t always attach the harness but I always have it with me. When we are walking near a road or in a big crowd of people, I like the peace of mind that the harness gives to me. I don’t lead her around by the safety strap. I do loop it onto my wrist and then hold her hand. It’s a great backup for when she gets OH SO EXCITED ABOUT THAT THING WAAAAY OVER THERE HURRY HURRY MAMA! (It is usually rocks. It is always rocks.)

 

When the safety strap is not keeping her super safe, I can loop it around the backpack’s handle and give her a little free range chicken action. She doesn’t even notice or care that it’s there. She is just excited to have her very own backpack.

skip hop zoo backpack

And, ok, she picked out her very own backpack all by herself. But since it does have a LEASH, I find it absolutely hilarious that she chose the dog.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,526.63

 

CONFESSION TIME: Who has used a baby leash? Who hates me now?

Bitty Baby Bottles and a CHOO CHOO.

Have you been to an American Girl store lately? They used to be very DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING WE EVEN PUT THE TOYS BEHIND GLASS HANDS OFF! But now they have a playhouse and all sorts of toys out for the children to touch and play with and beg their parents to buy for them. Well played, Mattel.

Babystar doesn’t beg for toys yet THANK GODDESS but I know she will someday. For now, she just plays and plays and plays and plays and plays and doesn’t want to leave the fun toys. Who can blame her? She recently spent almost an hour playing in the American Girl store at Tyson’s Corner Mall. Adorably, her older sister stayed and played with her while my son and I ran errands in the mall. The Teenager has like nine American Girl dolls (I’m guessing — she might have ninety) so she was pretty ok with checking out all of Bitty Baby’s new swag. Apparently, Babystar took care of two babies while we were gone, and changed their diapers and fed them each bottles (which she called coffee HAHAHAAHAHA) and found them a nightlight and sang them the ABCs and put them to bed and then went to make dinner in the playhouse.

The ToddlerMonster is a much more organized mother than I.

So of course after hearing this, I had to buy her something for her Bitty Babys at home. If you have ever been to an American Girl store, you also know that the toy baby items cost more than their real world counterparts. I can get a pair of baby pajamas at Carter’s for under ten bucks but pajamas are twenty four dollars for these fancy dolls. Bitty Baby’s high chair is $48. Babystar’s Ikea high chair cost less than half of that.

I bought a set of two baby bottles for $6.36 with tax. The white one is for milk and the red one is for coffee, according to Babystar. (My Contigo coffee cup is red so I guess that is where she is making this connection. I swear I don’t give the toddler coffee. But she doesn’t drink milk out of a bottle either so I guess she is just winging it. A-plus for creativity.)


She also rode the (RIP-OFF) mall train that day. It cost me $15 because she wanted both her brother and her sister to ride and the dude charged me for both of my adult children. Jerk. (I’m still a little bit bitter but look how cute and SMALL Babystar looks with her older sibs. And look how CUTE they all look in the tiny train car together LOL.)

mall train

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,508.64

 

 

Mo Potty, Mo Problems.

I hate potty training. Can I say that? Am I still a good mom?

I don’t even care. I DESPISE potty training.

Can’t I just put the kid in diapers until she’s like, dude, stop buying me diapers, I am old enough to drive to the store and get them myself now. Or something.

UGH.

But yeah. Ok. The oldest two go pee pee in the potty like big boys and girls (they are gonna love this sentence btw as they are in college haha). So I guess the little one gets her shot too.

I blame the cousins. Ever since those two weeks of Toddler Fun in early July, Babystar wants to pee in the Big Potty. There were tons of potty breaks for the 3yo and 4yo, as you might imagine. Babystar was watching everything. We have spent SO MUCH FREAKING TIME hanging out on the Big Potty singing Itsy Bitsy Spider and Open, Shut Them and I’m getting a bit sick of it.

Guess how much pee has made it into the Big Potty. Go ahead, guess. Did you guess one drop? If so, you are incorrect. The correct answer is ZERO.

We went out and got her a sweet bathroom set up. A BLUE potty seat, WITH handles, as requested ($15.99 for a two-pack). A step stool (ubbi, $14.99), as requested. (Although her feet still barely touch the stool when she sits on the potty. We recently remodeled our bathroom and all of the toilets are now ‘comfort height’ which I guess is comfortable if you are six feet tall but not so much if you are a tiny toddler.)

potty training seat

But the waters remain still.

I AM NOT READY FOR THIS NONSENSE.

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Help. Just help. Tell me something that will make this better. Pretty please.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,487.28

Back to School.

Tis the season for back to school blog posts. You know, right between vacation tips and pumpkin carving. I think I’m supposed to be writing this in a chalkboard font. Whoops.

Today I am driving my middle child to college. And coming home without her. If you need me tomorrow, I’ll be huddled under the dining room table with my thumb in my mouth, rocking back and forth. Babystar will hang out with me and we will have snacks. And probably several toys. And a cat. Hmm. It’s going to be difficult to wallow in my sadness with all that fun.

But I’m not sad. This is so exciting. LOOK HOW HAPPY AND EXCITED I AM.

It’s ok to be all of these things, right?

I am typing this early as I will be driving and crying (wait wasn’t that a band?) all day Monday. But I will use the magic of the internet (and future posting) to trick all of you.

Did it work?

My beautiful college freshman and I have spent the last month gathering everything she might need for her dorm. She needed a LOT of stuff, and we shopped around for deals, and for the prettiest of the pretty things. Which meant that Babystar has spent a LOT of time at a LOT of stores (ok, mostly Home Goods and Ikea and our beloved Target), helping us choose sheets and pillows and notebooks and laundry detergent and so much everything.

I have basically forwarded my mail to Target.

And we did go a little crazy in the Back to School section of the Dollar Aisles of Target for Babystar, too.

Please note: I am not pressuring my two-year-old child to, like, start reading and doing algebra or whatever. But she is naturally curious, and she loves to sing the ABCs, and point out letters, and count things. She loves books and sometimes she wants me to read books to her and sometimes she reads them to me. And other times we just have reading time and she brings me my own board book and sits next to me with another and we mind our own business. Interesting creatures, Toddlers.

My son was about Babystar’s age when he started asking to do ‘workbooks’. Target had them for one dollar each so I bought some ($5) to put in the arts and crafts dresser for whenever Babystar is ready.

toddler workbooks

But wait, there is SO MUCH MORE. We bought some flash cards for letters and numbers. Babystar knows all the letters as long as they are capital letters. We need to work on lowercase letters next. And she likes to count but she has been starting with four unless reminded about lowly one, two, and three. We bought some matching puzzle games for concepts like opposites, shapes, counting, and the alphabet. We also bought flash cards — not to quiz the baby — but so she can have her own cards to play with. (Her older brother loves magic and especially loves card tricks and Babystar likes to play with his cards. Sometimes that is ok and sometimes it is not ok.) And if Babystar wants to talk about the letters and numbers on her cards, EVEN BETTER. We also bought a felt pizza counting game because Babystar loves pretend food. All of these were one dollar each.

 

The Felt Counting Pizza is one of the few games we have opened at this point, and she LOVES IT and practices over and over and she’s totally doing it. I’m actually surprised at how fast she picked up the counting game. And y’all — she starts with ONE. OMG. Thank you, pizza.

pizza game

We got a few other sneaky learning toys. We found a pack of square wooden blocks with the letters of the alphabet both uppercase and LOWERCASE. She has some wooden blocks already, and these are only the tiniest fraction of an inch smaller. For only three dollars, I really thought the difference would be more noticeable.

wooden blocks

This set of wooden fruit is fun on it’s own and it also teaches balance, as the smaller fruits all balance on the watermelon. They don’t have to be in a specific order, they just have to be equal on both sides. Kind of perfect for teaching the concept of weight to a toddler.

wooden fruit

And we bought a Tickety Tock. Do you remember Blue’s Clues? Babystar is obsessed with that show. I know that she is too young to learn to tell time. I really do know this. But she very much WANTED the chalkboard clock and she has been SO PATIENT with all of the dorm shopping and it was only three dollars, so we bought the toy clock.

chalkboard clock

The grand total for all of these cool learning toys was $21.

target learning toys

Ridiculously low, I think. I do NOT want to think about how or where they were made. I know I could have made many of these things myself or I could have spent a hundred dollars buying from small business. I also know that I SHOULD have done that. But this time I did not. Please feel free to drop links for responsibly made versions of these items in the comment section.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,456.30

The Target Baby Box Rocks My Socks.

I love the Target Baby Box ($7.41 with tax). I really appreciate the ability to try out baby products without a huge investment. Ok, I MOSTLY appreciate getting a package of fun little travel size products in the mail for less than $10, but I like the trying them out thing second best. Or maybe third best. I like getting mail, I like having little cute bottles to tote around, and I like being able to try out the products without a huge investment. Oh, and I also like looking at the pretty gold box all wrapped up like a present, and I like that the $10 coupon that is included that makes it basically free. MORE than free, actually. I would be silly NOT to buy the baby box. Plus, of course, I get the opportunity to try out new baby brands or products that I otherwise might not have purchased.

(I totally have an image of Steve Martin sitting in front of a Christmas tree on that burgundy chair on Saturday Night Live, and reciting his Holiday Wish skit. I hate that skit. I know that most people love it, because it is included in the ‘Best of SNL’ Holiday Special every year. But Steve Martin annoys me and I am not sure know why. I think it’s because of Shop Girl. He played such a sleazy guy in that film, which he himself wrote and likely cast. So maybe I don’t like him because he is a really good actor? I like The Jerk, Parenthood, Father of the Bride, Roxanne, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I did hate him in Little Shop of Horrors but I think that was kind of the point. Anyway, I realize that I just basically ripped off a SNL sketch and I wish I had at least recreated one that I liked.)

The most recent Target Baby Box came with $20.54 of baby things. I know this because one of my brilliant college student children did the math. Check out the breakdown.

Method 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Method 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent Free + Clear

  • 53.5 oz for $12.99
  • 8.1 oz for $1.97

 

 

Baby Dove Rich Moisture Tip-to-Toe Wash

Baby Dove Rich Moisture Tip-to-Toe Wash

  • 13 oz for $5.99
  • 1.8 oz for $0.83

 

 

Mustela Hydra Bebe Body Lotion

Mustela Hydra Bebe Body Lotion

  • 10.14 oz for $12.99
  • 1.69 oz for $2.17

 

 

Cetaphil Baby Gentle Wash With Organic Calendula

Cetaphil Baby Gentle Wash With Organic Calendula

  • 7.8 oz for $4.29
  • 1.7 oz for $0.94

 

 

Philips Avent Freeflow Pacifier (0-6 Months)

Philips Avent Freeflow Pacifier (0-6 Months)

  • 2 pack for $5.49
  • 1 pack for $2.75

 

 

Honest Company Hand Sanitizer Spray Lavender

Honest Company Hand Sanitizer Spray Lavender

 

  • 2 oz for $2.99 (FULL SIZE)

 

Triple Paste Rash Ointment

Triple Paste Rash Ointment

 

  • 2 oz for $7.49 (FULL SIZE)

 

Seventh Generation Baby Wipes Free and Clear

Seventh Generation Baby Wipes Free and Clear

  • 64 ct for $2.99
  • 30 ct for $1.40

 

 

TOTAL VALUE $20.54

PLUS the Baby Box included a ‘$10 off of $50’ Target baby coupon. Do you know how easy it is to spend $50 in the baby section at Target? So easy. So so so easy. So basically, the Baby Box is free even if I don’t use any of the cute miniature products.

Because the truth is, I’m not going to use all of these products. I will give some away, like the Avent pacifier and the Triple Paste rash ointment. They are fine, I just don’t use them. I will use some right away, like the Method laundry detergent and Honest Company hand sanitizer spray. That 30-pack of Seventh Generation wipes is currently in my diaper bag. I will save the Mustela lotion to try after further research. And I will likely toss some immediately. We already know that the grown-up versions of Cetaphil and Dove contain some very suspicious ingredients, and so far I assume the same is true of the baby versions.

But did I mention that the Target Baby Box has POLKA DOTS!?

Target Baby Box

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,435.30

Searching for the Unicorn of Water Bottles.

I am on a constant quest for the World’s Best Water Bottle. This pursuit extends to every member of my family, but this post is about Babystar.

We love love LOVE almost everything about her Contigo water bottle but I can’t stop won’t stop searching for perfection.

skiphopcontigowaterbottles

The Contigo doesn’t fit in her car seat cup holder. The Contigo should easily hook to a packback or stroller bar. The Contigo straw is a bit large for Babystar’s mouth; I want a more straw-like straw.

drinkingfromskiphopbottle

Enter the Skip Hop Zoo Stainless Steel Little Kid Water Bottle. It is ADORABLE. It fits in one of our car seat cup holders but not the other. It has a velcro strap so it should easily attach to things but it is kind of heavy and expensive so I am afraid to lose it. The straw is perfection, though. It is a thicker but regular size straw that closes up under the bottles lid for cleanliness. And Skip Hop is thoughtful enough to include an extra straw. The stainless steel design keeps her water ice cold.

But there is one HUGE bummer: it leaks. This is definitely my bad because nowhere on the packaging or on their website does Skip Hop claim that this bottle is leak-proof. I just assumed a bottle meant for children (it has LITTLE KID in the name) would be leak-proof. Especially one priced at $17.99. But nope. I soaked several diapers and two sets of extra clothes on a day when that was less than ideal. Perfection, this is not.

skiphopwaterbottleontable

It’s cute, though. REAL CUTE.

MAYDAY MAYDAY: What is your favorite sippy cup or water bottle for your kids, and why? I am so close to finding Water Bottle Nirvana that I can almost taste it, but of course it is tasteless because a weird taste would be worth several demerits.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,427.89

 

Summertime is Pool Time.

It has been HOT, y’all. SO HOT.

I am in Arlington, Virginia, and the heat has been no freaking joke.

I usually avoid the pool citing such reasons as sunburns and drownings and I’m lazy. But it is just SO DAMN HOT that I kind of feel obligated to take Babystar to the pool.

Please understand: Babystar hates the pool too. But she always always ALWAYS asks to go to the pool. Cries about it, even. So we put on her swim diaper and bathing suit and sunscreen and sun hat and water shoes. We pack a bag of towels and cold water. She unpacks the bag while I change into my suit at lightening speed, and then I repack the bag before we walk across the parking lot holding hands to the pool in our condo complex. (I said HOLDING HANDS. Sweetie, if you want to go to the pool you have to hold mommy’s hand to walk across the parking lot.) Sometimes we have to turn around because the ToddlerMonster refuses to hold hands, so we walk all the way back home and get in the Pink Car (her Little Tikes wheels) for the very short journey across the dangerous parking lot to the swimming pool. Which, as I believe I already mentioned, she hates.

When we get to the pool, she mostly hangs out on the first step. AFTER, of course, insisting that I get all the way wet, even though she will FREAK OUT if water gets near her face. Even though her favorite thing to do while hanging out on the steps is splash water near her face.

TODDLERS, amirite?

If Babystar goes past the steps at all, she is clinging hard to her lifeboat aka whoever has her in the pool. (Not like, whoever, as in I just pass around the baby in the pool. It is either me or one of her siblings that are also legal adults.)

poolpic2

I know that I need to take her to a baby swim class, but I missed the window for this summer as the waiting lists are eight thousand pages long. I think I need to take her this winter when no one else is thinking about swim classes. Are swim classes offered in the winter? I will google it later. Much later. Like probably next June.

Even though she appears to hate the pool, she doesn’t hate the water. She loves splash pads. I should take her to more splash pads. I want to, but the whole being wet and then getting back in the car thing suuuuuucks. (I can change her easily but not so much myself.) She also loves her baths. Although she hates to have her hair washed so at least she’s consistent on the whole getting-her-head-wet situation.

puddlejumpers

Babystar weighs almost 29 pounds and those Puddle Jumper floaty thingies all say they are for  30-50 pound kids but I DO WHAT I WANT. I bought her one to wear in the pool. I actually first bought a life vest for 25-33 pound babies but it didn’t really hold her up. I think. I never really let go of her, but it seemed like it wouldn’t hold her up. So I returned it and bought the kind with the arm floaties attached ($14.99). She seems happier so maybe it gives her more confidence. I don’t know. I can’t ask her. She doesn’t know what confidence is. (I mean, she has more confidence than most humans I know, but she doesn’t know the meaning of the actual word. Maybe that is the key to confidence!!)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,409.90

 

 

The Wheels on the Bus Go YUM YUM YUM.

*Sponsored post.*


I received a 50% discount on the Innobaby Din Din Smart Stainless Mealtime Set in exchange for my honest opinions. With shipping, I paid $33.71. The retail price for the set is $49.99. 

And dude, I was SO EXCITED, because I have wanted to try one of these Innobaby Bus Platters since I saw the Innobaby booth at MommyCon DC last year. When I got the email to apply to become a Brand Ambassador, I was like, YES PLEASE. Pick me! Pick me!

They totally did.

I fell in love with these platters at first sight because they are 1) freaking adorable and 2) stainless steel and 3) DIVIDED plates because you never know when a toddlers food is allowed to touch other food and 4) they have a lid that keeps the compartments separated. Even if you shake it upside down which I definitely did.

I filled each compartment with normal everyday ToddlerMonster foods: juicy sliced clementines, chopped strawberries, SHREDDED cheese, cut up chicken, and crispy peas. I sealed the top and turned it upside down a few times, just as a test. When I removed the lid, everything was still in its original compartment. Even every bit of the shredded cheese, which I admit I only added to really test the bus. (I usually give her sliced cheese because shredded cheese is so messy. But she LOVES shredded cheese probably precisely because it’s so messy.)


Babystar loves her new ‘bus plate’. She has only had it a week but asks for it by name. She tries food from the bus that she doesn’t normally try. I think the smaller sections are perfect for introducing new foods. And since they are completely separated, they don’t touch her favorite foods so maybe they are less threatening?

She also really likes the cup and utensils that come in the Din Din Smart Stainless Mealtime Set. The cup has a cool handle, and she calls it her ‘coffee cup,’ which is just adorable. The utensils are actually metal but with a chunky plastic handle, and I notice that she uses her fork more when she is using this metal one. It must work better at stabbing her foods than her plastic forks. I wouldn’t give the metal fork a baby that was just learning about forks, though. For safety and all that jazz.
RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,394.91

 

My Milkshake Brings all the Glares to the Park.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week AND the beginning of National Breastfeeding Month. I guess it makes sense to double down on this one. 

Ahhh, breastfeeding. The sweet nourishment of mother’s milk to the quietly nursing angelic baby barely visible from underneath the stylish and tasteful blanket draped gently over the modest lady’s shoulder.

FUCK THAT NOISE.

I am nursing a two year old ToddlerMonster. Well, not currently, because there is no way I could type and nurse a toddler. Or a baby. Or a newborn. Well, maybe I could type and nurse a newborn, if I was typing on my phone. Which is a big NO-NO. 

(Never look at your phone while feeding your baby. Only look at your baby. In fact, never look at your phone or anything other than your baby ever or your baby will grow up to hate you. But don’t spoil your baby. But also, it is impossible to spoil your baby.)

When I was breastfeeding my newborn, a small number of horrible people glared at me for not covering myself. The baby was small and I was not. Her head was still smaller than ONE of my breasts. But it was summer and newborns like to eat constantly. And like most people, my newborn baby did not like anything covering her face while she ate. Even if she did, I had to hold her and hold her neck so she didn’t die and how on earth would I have kept a cover on a wiggly newborn baby? Plus, I was postnatal and hormonal and BURNING UP and I didn’t want any more layers on myself, either. 

Luckily I was mostly too tired to care about the glares. And what would I have done about it, anyway? In hindsight, I maybe should have carried around World Health Organization brochures or something, but honestly, it’s not like I was going to stop feeding my baby and walk over to someone to confront them for giving me a nasty look. But it did make me feel awful, so thanks, jerks.

Ok, to be fair, MOST of the people I encountered either averted their eyes or gave me a knowing smile or even told me that I was doing a great thing. 

At least, that was true while the little nurseling was still a LITTLE nurseling.

Last year, my older baby was still nursing frequently, and we were out in the world much more often. Strangers often asked her age and told me that I would stop nursing once she got teeth.

EVEN THOUGH OUR DOCTORS TELL US THAT BABIES SHOULD NOT HAVE COW’S MILK UNTIL AT LEAST AGE ONE. Was I supposed to switch my ten month old to formula so strangers could feel more comfortable being around us?

Next came the jokes about how I should stop before she could ask for it. First of all, that doesn’t even make sense. I was so HAPPY when she could ask me for milk. I taught her the sign for milk so that she could tell me what she needed even before she could say the word. Because do you know what sucks? Trying to figure out why a crying baby is crying TOTALLY SUCKS.

Now that my toddler is two, she not only asks for milk but demands it. Sometimes (often) while simultaneously trying to pull my shirt up, because she knows where mommy keeps the milk. I usually tell her that she can have milk when we get home, but if she has fallen on the playground or been trampled in the soft play room, she gets her milk right away. Because I am her mother and mama’s milk comforts her. She gets hugs and kisses and sometimes milk and that is fine so stop glaring at us or shielding your four-year-old son’s eyes because that makes YOU the weird one, by the way. 

Last spring, as I nursed my almost two-year-old in the Lobby of Somewhere, a mother that I had never met before told me that I was doing a good job. She said my toddler looked so natural straddling my lap and nursing and she could tell that we were old pros. And then she called me a good mom. I know that the other judgmental strangers shouldn’t bother me but they do, so I am very thankful for that woman. I think of her whenever I face negativity for nursing my toddler; I think of her often.

I have heard and read that I am selfish and narcissistic, that I am ruining my toddler emotionally, and even that I am confusing her sexually.

SERIOUSLY?

I have some questions for the Haters: How would you like it if I made disgusting faces at your child when he was sucking his thumb? How about if I said very loudly, right next to your child, ‘little girls shouldn’t eat apples because only babies eat apples’? Or maybe I should use my sweetest voice to directly tell your two year old that he is too big to wear diapers and he should be a big boy and leave mommy alone. 

It’s the same thing.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,361.20 (imagine if I was also buying formula!)

HEY BREASTFEEDING MAMAS: Have you encountered any static for nursing your little one? If so, how do you handle it? I don’t really want to be confrontational; I just want to feel comfortable feeding my child in the world.

Superbabystar!

It’s a Baby! It’s a Star! It’s SUPERBABYSTAR!!

OMG YOU GUYS! This Cat & Jack cape from Target is EVERYTHING!

toddler in cape

Babystar totally spotted this and picked it out all on her own, although it does seem like something I would want her to wear. She loves it. I love it. Huge win. ($24.99)

I love that it is size XS-M so she will be able to wear it for years. I love that it is reversible so she can have pink or blue, depending on her mood. (It was in the girl’s department but not in the boy’s department, which I found annoying because PINK IS NOT JUST FOR GIRLS. But the fact that they did not sell pink OR blue but rather pink AND blue is a step in the right direction.) And I love that it attaches with a single (largish) spot of velcro so she can pull it off herself in a pinch.

running in cape

And she’s off!

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,361.20