Our Couch Runneth Over.

Babystar’s friends are taking over the place. We started sitting them on the couch back when there were only a few stuffed creatures, but as all parents know, those babies MULTIPLY. I think they are going to have to be relocated — but to where? Her bedroom is completely on trend with the new tiny house movement, but those tiny houses aren’t meant to house twenty six individuals including a family of bears.


We did purchase some of these — but most are gifts. Plus every time the Teenager visits her grandparent’s attic in Florida she brings back more of her old Care Bears for her little sister. Which is completely sweet and adorable but also STAAAAAHP.

In spite of our overcrowding problem, I just let Babystar bring home ANOTHER FRIEND from Target. We already lived with the Demigod of the Wind and Sea, so we needed Moana of Motunui ($8.99) to bring a little estrogen to Babystar’s boat.

PS: her boat is a salad bowl.


RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,099.13

Summer Bugs Me.

I love most things about the summertime. I love the longer days and the grilled dinners and the splashy water play time.

I do not love the mosquitos. And ants and locusts and spiders and gnats and bees (ok I kind of love the bees in theory), but mostly the mosquitos.

We like to use up all the sunshine and stay at the park until dusk which means walking back home during the Mosquito Happy Hour.

Babystar was getting new bites every day. But also, chemicals.

WHAT IS A GOOD HIPPIE MAMA TO DO?

I’m still not sure, but I did buy some DEET-free bug repellent made up of a blend of essential oils. (Kid’s Herbal Armor Natural Insect Repellent $5.50.) It had KIDS and NATURAL right in the name.

Two things:

  1. I don’t know what DEET is but it sounds bad.
  2. I don’t believe essential oils can cure illnesses but I do know that certain plants repel insects so it seemed legit.

I really wasn’t sure what I was looking for but I compared the active ingredients at Target. The Kid’s Herbal Armor had a bunch of oils (citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, et cetera) that were almost identical to the Babyganics and Honest Company kid’s bug repellents.



I bought the Kid’s Herbal Armor because it was $5.50 instead of $9.49 or $12.34. To be fair, the Babyganics and Honest Company’s bottles were larger, but I wanted to make sure it worked first. Maybe we needed the DEET after all? (WTF IS DEET?!?)
The first evening, I only rubbed the insect repellent on Babystar’s ankles, a popular hangout for Arlington mosquitoes. She has pretty sensitive skin and I wanted to make sure there was no reaction. She made it home with no rash and zero bites on her legs!

Those fuckers bit her arm instead.

The next night, I used the Herbal Armor on her legs AND arms. She was bite-free! I have been keeping her arms and legs coated and it is still working. I don’t put it near her face at all but I do a little swipe behind her neck, and she usually has a hat on for extra protection.

I highly recommend this natural bug repellent. Probably the Babyganics and/or Honest ones are good too, since the active ingredients are almost identical. But I have not tried them so I cannot say for sure.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,090.14

What kind of bug repellent do you use for your kids or yourself?

Lost in the Park.

This is the last known photograph of Babystar’s favorite water bottle.


It was a blue and yellow (and metal) smaller size Contigo that her grandparents gave to her during her last visit to Myrtle Beach. Blue and yellow are her favorite colors! She loved pushing the button so the straw would pop up! (She could actually open and close it herself and it was still 100% leak-proof in my bag.) And Contigo beverage containers are magic so her water stayed cold all day!

(Seriously, Contigo makes MAGICAL containers. My coffee stays hot for literal hours. This is the most important thing for me as a SAHM so yay Contigo.)

Alas.

We totally left Babystar’s favorite cup at the park last Tuesday. I would have gone back to fetch it but I didn’t realize it until about 10pm and I knew the squirrels had likely taken it by then. Lucky squirrels. I hope they at least figure out how to get the straw open.

I was devastated. Like, way more upset than I needed to be over a freaking sippy cup.

Amazon Prime to the rescue — almost. Apparently, there are no more blue and yellow ones. But at least her water will be cold again. $15.99. (Hella expensive for a child’s cup but completely worth it.)


RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,084.64

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Parents, what is your kid’s favorite kind of on-the-go cup? What is YOUR favorite?

Bouncing Baby Girl.

Twice last month we went to Dynamic Gymnastics Open Gym for little ones ages 0-5. If you are in the Northern Virginia area, definitely check it out. The first time we went, my two girls and I had the entire gym to ourselves. (The second time we invited some friends.)

​​

 

The Teenager has been a gymnast for years, and she’s lobbying for me to put Babystar in gymnastic classes. I’m not ready for that kind of commitment, so Open Gym is a great compromise. Babystar gets to play on the cool equipment and bounce around at her own pace. Plus she loves watching her big sister do ‘cool tricks.’

The 0-5 Open Gym at Dynamic Gymnastics is every Monday and Wednesday from noon to 1pm, $10 per kid.

We also paid another $120 to continue our membership at Nook and bought a 3-visit pass to Busy Bees for $36 plus a $15 2-for-1 deal at Busy Bees with a friend.


There are millions of playgrounds in the area and Babystar really does adore the parks. But I think the indoor play spaces are a nice change for both of us. Not all playgrounds have fences. And all playgrounds have at least one tempting but highly dangerous for a not-quite-two-year-old feature. And that highly dangerous but superfine feature is always Babystar’s most favorite thing. Every. Single. Time. So playing indoors is much more relaxing for ME. And I’m the boss, applesauce.

Parents, where do you stand on free parks versus pricey indoor play spaces?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,068.65

Baby’s Gotta Eat.

I have no idea how to make these posts more interesting. 

Once again, I fed the baby. A+ parenting, I know.

  • Trader Joe’s Mac & cheese $2.99, $2.99, $2.99
  • Trader Joe’s Apple bars $1.99, $1.99
  • TJ’s Blueberry bars $1.99
  • Multigrain Cheerios $5.49
  • Eggs $3.99
  • Salmon $4.00
  • Mahimahi $3.00
  • Ice cream minis $1.49, $1.49, $1.49
  • Cookies (she wanted them but I ate them whoops) $2.89
  • Blueberries $2.99, $2.99, $2.99, $2.99, $3.99, $2.99
  • Strawberries $1.50, $3.00
  • Pineapple $2.99, $1.86
  • Bananas $1.11
  • Watermelon $4.99
  • TJ’s French fries $2.99
  • Robek’s small smoothie $4.99, $4.99
  • Starbucks fruit cup $2.99
  • Chick-fil-A kids meal $3.75, $3.75, $3.25, $3.25
  • Wendy’s French fries $1.00
  • m&m’s $0.99

MAYDAY MAYDAY: How do I get my toddler to eat vegetables? I put them on her plate all the time. Sometimes she takes a bite or two. But not often. I am trying to remember the whole ‘my job is to offer the food and her job is to eat it’ thing. She loved Brussels sprouts red pepper and spinich purees as a baby. What gives??

Have I broken the baby somehow?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,877.65

It’s Calling Meeeeeeee.

Babystar sings over and over: it’s calling me, it’s caaaaallling meeeeee.

Have you seen Moana yet? Have you seen Moana one hundred times? I have, and I’m not even mad.

This movie is everything. I feel so lucky that Babystar stumbled onto this film as her I-need-to-watch-it-all-the-time-let’s-watch-it-again-again-again movie. Every toddler has one. And for over a full year it was Frozen, right? My niece was obsessed with Frozen. Who wasn’t? (My nephew is currently obsessed with Zootopia. It’s very good, but I need more singing in my cartoon movies if I am to watch them twenty million times.)

We were all so proud of Disney for making Frozen, a movie with no romantic happy ending (except it sort of did have one with Anna and Kristoff).

We were all so excited about how FEMINIST is was that the princess saved herself. Or at least, her sister saved her.

And the songs, while a bit too EVERYWHERE, were indeed amazing. I still love them. And Idina Menzel. Yes, please!

SO I CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHY MOANA IS NOT MORE POPULAR!

Is it because she’s not white? Please tell me that it is not because she is not a snow white girl from the snow white north. Please. It’s not, right? Ok. Moving along.

I’m going to pretend that no one saw Moana (ok I realize that a LOT of people saw Moana but only like half as many as Frozen and I have never heard any of the songs unless I played them) because we were all terrified that it was full of Cultural Appropriation. We were all erring on the side of caution. Disney has a pretty bad track record with that kind of thing (*cough*Song of the South*cough*).

We were all wrong. Instead, they actually did a lot of research and had a lot of consultants making sure they ‘got it right.’ So you CAN teach an old mouse new tricks. (SPOILER ALERT) Moana is a movie about a ‘daughter of the chief’ who saves the world. She doesn’t do it for love of a man but for love of her island and her people. There is literally no boy-girl love story in the movie. NONE. It is incredibly refreshing.

See the light where the sky meets the sea, it calls me.

We finally have a capital-F-Feminist Disney ‘princess’ role model and I for one am so excited. Moana does not need saving at all, but the world does, and Moana T-C-bloody-B-ed.

If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me, one day I’ll know how far I’ll go.

AND OH YEAH THE SONGS.

You guys, the score was written by Lin-FREAKING-Manuel Miranda. Did you know that? HOW DID IT LOSE THE OSCAR FOR BEST SONG? How!? But whatever about the Oscars, how is our Hamilton-obsessed society not belting out these songs in unison a la ‘Let it Go’??? There is not a bad song in the movie. I’m a big fan of ‘Shiny’ sung by my boyfriend Jemaine Clement. My older kids love both the opening number and Maui’s song ‘You’re Welcome’. Babystar loves when Moana sings about things that call her. THEY. ARE. ALL. SO. GOOD.

And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me.

Moana is on Netflix month so get excited. 

You’re welcome.

Babystar was having a rough go of teething a few weeks ago so we surprised her with Maui to help her feel better ($8.99). She loves chewing on his hook.
 


RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,776.28

 

 

I Can’t Drive 95.

Actually, I can. I DID drive SO FAR down Interstate 95 and then back all in about a week, with a few days of visiting family squished in between.

For those of you following along in your hymnals (Instagram), you know that I drove to Florida last week.

Here are a few facts that you might not know about me.

  1. I hate Florida. (I know. I’m like the only one. I love the beach. I like sunshine. I even like armadillos. But I freaking hate Florida and I don’t know why. I like people in Florida. I like places in Florida. I love oranges. But I get all itchy in that state and it’s only partially to do with all the bugs.)
  2. I hate road trips. (I fantasize about driving across country in a VW camper van or up the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible. But, to me, interstate highway driving is hell. I’m pretty sure if I am ever assigned to my own specific hell, it will be an eternal I-95. For those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar with I-95, imagine a highway stretched to forever with sporadic surprise traffic and the only thing to look at are trees and billboards for either strip clubs or churches or fireworks or the less-racist-than-when-I-was-a-kid but still sketchy South of the Border, which is a themed motel on the border between North and South Carolina with a giant sombrero for a symbol and a cartoon named Pedro as a mascot. You feel me?)
  3. I love thunderstorms. (Florida did not disappoint. One entire day of my three day visit was spent stuck inside my parent’s house watching the rain pour out of the sky as it only can in Florida. Babystar was also fascinated so this is perhaps an inherited trait. But we were still stuck inside the house. So.)

The reason I drove to Florida instead of flying was wonderful (to me). My sweet firstborn son decided to move in and go to a local college so he will be here for at least a year. We needed to pick up some of his things. Yay for having my son around! Yay for my child making fiscally smart decisions! Yay for cleaning out a room for him! (Ok — two out of three, I guess.)

Babystar was along for the ride and she was an EXCELLENT PATIENT OMG WONDERFUL passenger. She had an older sister or brother riding next to her at all times, which helped immensely. I dropped off the Teenager in Florida with her dad for a longer visit, so Big Brother had to ride in the back next to the baby the entire way home. He deserves some type of award, but all I got him was some crap McDonald’s french fries.

SPEAKING OF McDONALD’S: I am obsessed with their french fries. I find it odd and kind of gross and suspicious that they are not vegetarian, but I love them anyway. I craved them when pregnant with Babystar, although I normally stay out of McDonald’s. HOWEVER, their kid’s meals are on point. For $2.99*, you get a burger or nuggets (which I eat for even more savings becuase Babystar is not that interested in meat), a very small (in a good way) sleeve of fries, AND your choice of (PEELED!) apple slices or yogurt. And a toy! Right now they are handing out cute mini stuffed animals and Babystar happily played with them for almost an hour combined. (THAT IS LIKE TWO YEARS IN TODDLER TIME.) All of the other fast food joints make you choose fries or a healthy choice but McDonald’s knows what is up and gives both. Because what kid will be happy without fries? (I know, probably lots of perfect babies have never had french fries but Babystar is not at all perfect. Homegirl looooves french fries.)

We had a lot of fun in Florida. I drove over an hour with two toddlers (my nephew is three and my sister is in fancy Aveda Insitute school) to Bay & Bee, which I ADORE. When I visited Florida last March, my sister and I took three toddlers there and everyone’s first visit was free! Amazing. They recently sent us both an email offer for a free drop-in class. Woot! So I used that to go play again for free. I have given these people zero dollars. (Well, that’s not true. I made my firstborn drive there last year for the Tula Coast Shine because they happened to stock on a day he was already flying to visit and I love that thing!) But I have given them zero dollars for the kids to play in their awesome Montessori/Waldorf inspired play room for a combined six hours and I really think they should charge me next time. But it’s totally cool if they don’t. I tried to get the toddlers excited about the Spanish Language Story Time class offered that afternoon, but they just wanted to play. Fair enough.


Bay & Bee is sort of like our beloved Nook in Arlington, but on steroids. The play space is much bigger, yet it still manages to feel calm even with twenty Tinys running around everywhere. There are so many great toys to discover, and there is even a giant freaking Cedarworks play stucture in the middle of the playspace, yet it does not feel crowded AT ALL. I understand that real estate in Florida costs less than in Arlington, Virginia, but I am still totally jelly of the mamas that get to chill there on the reg. (And membership is less expensive than my beloved Nook, and I get it, but ugh don’t talk about it.) They also have a retail shop with all of my favorite crunchy toy and feeding and teething brands AND baby carriers that you can try on and then so many more in stock for sale. OMG, y’all. If you visit Jacksonville, Florida with a toddler or a crawler or a baby in your belly, go there.

Also do yourself a favor and check out Moon Babies in Fleming Island. QUICK WARNING: if you click on that link, their webiste will come up and start playing kid’s music. So maybe don’t do it if you are reading this next to a sleeping baby. Or if you hate kid’s music. However, the children’s resale shop is totally worth a visit. I bought eight pairs of skorts and shorts one pair of pajamas for Babystar for $31.57 with tax. She is totally set for summer and they are way cute. I found two pairs of shorts with pockets so maybe she will stop putting toys and crayons ‘in her pockets’ but really down her pants. (Toddler logic, y’all.) Plus recycling!


We also visited Clarke House Park in Orange Park. I had to google the name of that playground, because we always just called it the ‘Castle Park.’ The playground looks like a castle. It was built back in the 1990’s, so it was practically brand new when my two (now officially technically omg!!) adult children were babies. We had many fun afternoons and birthday parties at the Castle Park, though it’s showing it’s age a little. The Teenager and I took the toddlers there last week on the Teenager’s eighteenth birthday. It was coincidental but still quite poignant but I managed not to cry about it so good job me.


I would have driven down to pick up College Boy’s things whether Babystar existed in this world or not, so the gas and road snacks are not on her tab. BUT. We had to break up the trip in both directions because sweet Babystar has the patience and attention span of a toddler (shocking, I know), so we took two days to drive each direction. I would not have done that if not for her. So I have to add $121.30 and $145.95 to her tally. I packed a small cooler with fruit and chicken and let her just share from our three plates when we stopped for dinner the first night mainly because I didn’t want to keep track of her food costs on the way down. Talk about a lazy blogger.

I did eventually buy her some food and diapers during the trip. YOU GUYS MY BABY IS NOW IN SIZE 5 DIAPERS. She leaked through her diapers on the way down and I thought it was becuase I was a terrible mommy and I wasn’t changing her enough. Nope. She is ready for SIZE 5. That is the LAST SIZE in some brands of diapers. (I have noticed a Size 6 in others.) And she’s talking about pottys. Crap (literally). I hate potty training.

  • watermelon $4.25
  • mandarin oranges $4.99
  • Seventh Generation diapers $7.99
  • Publix brand diapers $7.99
  • McDonald’s kids meal $2.99
  • Chick-fil-A grilled cheese with fruit kids meal + small fries $3.48
  • Texas Roudhouse kids meal $1.99 on Kid’s Night
  • Chick-fil-A kids meal $3.25
  • blueberries $2.79
  • bananas $0.89
  • generic multigrain O’s $1.79
  • Aldi Penguin ‘goldfish’ crackers $1.49
  • Aldi Little Journey diapers $4.99
  • Aldi Little Journey wipes $3.49 for a 3-pack
  • McDonald’s kids meal $2.99
  • McDonald’s kids meal $3.68 (*The one at exit 97 in NC only offers one side so I had to pay extra to get fries AND apples. Bruh.)

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Does anyone have any potty training tips? It’s been so long and all I remember is that I did not enjoy it at all and there was a lot of bribery and power struggles involved. I really want to avoid all of that this go round. What worked for you?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,767.29

 

 

 

Patio Paradise.

Babystar was the big winner on Mother’s Day.

I had previously paid a local landscaper/handyman/general awesome guy $100 to clear the weeds (SO MANY WEEDS) and put down some mulch. My son and I tried to do it ourselves but after the fifth giant spider tried to murder us, we had to retreat. We had no choice.

Before Babystar, I always kept on top of the ‘gardening’. Gardening is in quotes because we live in a townhouse and the patio is not that big, but I still always grew herbs and sometimes even tomatoes and peppers and lettuce and chard. And I pulled the weeds on the regular.  I haven’t been able to do it the last two years because Babystar did not want to hang out with me outside. (Now she loves it!) So I guess the $100 is all her.

Mother’s Day was thankfully gorgeous and we did in fact make the patio an awesome place to be. I have flowers and herbs and even some tomato plants (though not as many as pre-baby). We also now have a Step2 Happy Home Cottage & Grill ($189.99) and Duck Pond Water Table ($34.99), along with a small plastic Babystar-sized chair ($7.99) for inside the playhouse and some plastic Little Tikes food ($14.99) for the faux-grill. 



I am looking forward to many hours of fun and relaxation on the patio verandah, dahling.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,409.43

 

 

 

New Clothes. And Old New Clothes.

New Clothes: I bought Babystar a ‘Wild Feminist’ tee during Feminist Apparel’s 25% off sale recently. (I bought a few for me and a few for my oldest daughter but figured that Babystar needed at least one. I’m a sucker. I know. $22.47 after the discount.)

 

More New Clothes: I also bought her the coolest pink sunhat from Costco that supposedly will last for years if she doesn’t lose it. (Spoiler alert: She or I will lose it.) The hat fits children ages 3-10 according to the tag. Babystar must have a big head because it fits now, but it is adjustable. $7.99.

 

Old New Clothes: While my almost-adult goddess child was getting ready for prom, Babystar went into her dresser and chose her own ‘pretty dress’ to wear. As I removed the tags for her, I realized that 1) she had clearly never worn this dress and 2) I had not added it to the blog. I bought the dress at Costco back in February for $12.99 intending it to be her Easter dress. But then my MIL bought her a cute tutu dress with a bunny on it to wear on Easter instead, and I forgot about this one. It is ADORABLE and I think she may wear it every day now. She’s on kind of a dress kick lately. 


(And MY GOD will you look at that beautiful Prom Goddess and her stunning gown!?)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,061.57

 

Baby’s First Pedicure.

I was well into my twenties before I ever had a pedicure. I mean, I painted my toenails myself of course, but the whole pay-someone-to-rub-my-feet thing came late for me. I guess I was sheltered. (Or more like broke.)

Pedicures are now one of my favorite things in life; Babystar always notices my ‘pretty toes’ and they are usually painted blue.

My oldest daughter was seven when she had her first pedicure. She was at the beauty salon with me and my friends while we were getting ready for my wedding, and she got a mini-pedicure and clear polish.

Because there is a giant age gap between my children, Babystar is along for the ride on a lot of big girl adventures. In the tradition of tagging along for special occasions, Babystar came with me and her big sister to get pedicures last Thursday. Big Sister had prom on Friday.

She sat on my lap during our pedicures and played with the buttons on the massage remote, making some very interesting patterns on my back. The lovely lady that always does my pedicures gave Babystar a little leg lotion and Babystar was fascinated. Which is super weird, because my wiggly toddler usually cannot stand for me to put any type of lotion (or SUNSCREEN) on her little body. She was so excited and proud to be with us, so when she said ‘I blue toes too,’ I agreed. My sweet little still-one-year-old baby held so still while getting her toenails painted blue. And she is so very proud to show everyone her blue toes like mama.


What do you think? Too young? Or ok since it was for a special occasion? Or totally fine and no special occasion needed? My little monster loves snakes and bugs and pretty dresses and stars and rocks and dinosaurs and ponies. But she mostly loves whatever Big Sister and Mama are doing.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17.018.12