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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

VCU and Melissa and Doug and Lucy.

Last Saturday was ‘Admitted Students Day’ at VCU in Richmond, and the Teenager is one of those admitted students. We woke up before the sun to drive down and check out the school. The Teenager has big decisions coming soon, but shhhhh, she doesn’t like to talk about it.

(Side note: Since I have been paying attention, I have noticed that literally every adult asks every college senior they meet if they know where they plan to go to college. Poor kids.)

So, we went to VCU. VCU is cool. Babystar hung out in the Tula for most of the walking tour bits. We all got free lunch at Chick-fil-A (thanks, VCU!) but had to pay $2.88 extra for Babystar. Pretty good deal.

(OMG, Babystar accidentally drank some of my husband’s lemonade instead of her water and then got obsessed. She cannot say ‘lemonade’ but she tries and it sounds like ‘ell-mell-mleh’ and her tongue literally turns upside down in her mouth and it is my new favorite thing. #favoritethings)

After college-ing it up, we did a 180 and went to the Children’s Museum of Richmond to let the toddler run out her wiggles. That place rocks, btw! There are a bunch of different areas all sponsored by local (or regional, I guess) businesses. There was a tiny Wegman’s play grocery store and a kid-sized play Silver Diner and a cool water table area and a tv studio and a stage and a reading room and a separate giant toddler area and and and we didn’t even have time to see everything. Legit cool. If the Teenager decides on VCU, we will definitely buy a family membership there. (No pressure, Teenager.) $30 after AAA discount plus a carousel ride.

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On the way out (we only left because they closed), I bought Babystar some cool Melissa and  Doug activity books. Except they aren’t really books. I bought some paint with water activities and reusable sticker scenes. They were $4.49 each, totaling $24.13 with tax. So far we have played with the puffy barn scene stickers and she is OBSESSED. We also did one of the Paint with Water pages and it was a huge hit. (I did one too — it’s super fun!)

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We were completely exhausted, but still hungry, and we can never leave Richmond without stopping at our favorite restaurant, Lucy’s. This is not the kind of place that has a kid’s menu, and it’s not really for kids. I mean, there’s no strippers or anything, but also their single high chair is from, like, 1973. (But luckily, they let us come eat anyway.) Thank you, Jason Lucy, for making a super yummy grilled cheese sandwich for Babystar. She totally ate one bite and lots of french fries. ($5.) And she loves the homemade ice cream on homemade cookie sandwiches. And omg so do I. ($3.)

The sun was setting as we finished dinner and headed home. So pretty.

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RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,615.20

 

Fun in the Sunshine State

Earlier this month, Babystar and I (and my favorite 3.5 year old niece, V) flew to Florida to visit family. My (20yo) son and mom and dad and grandmother and sister and nephew, along with random other cousins, live just outside of Jacksonville, Florida. My nephew just turned three (since the trip, actually), so we were riding deep with ToddlerMonsters.

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We stayed at my parent’s house, so it was actually a really inexpensive trip. Babystar still flies free. (I didn’t buy V’s ticket.) I still would have taken the trip if Babystar did not exist, so I would have had the expense of the ticket either way. I thought hard about this, because I started to list the ticket price as part of Raising Babystar. But. I miss my oldest child, my mom has cancer (and reads this blog like a good mommy — hi mom!), my dad can’t really travel while he’s busy taking care of mom, my grandmother is getting very old (omg I cannot even think about that), my nephew keeps growing, and my sister is too far away and just, you know, life. So, yeah, I would have gone anyway. I DID pay for my dad’s parking ($6) and he only parked to come in and help me with the bags since I had the babies. And I had to bring along Babystar’s car seat, so I bought a car seat cover for $19.99.

I brought snacks from home for the airplane ride to Florida. I did buy a bottle of water at the airport but I always do that. I drank most of it, too. Babystar LOVES the airport! She was excited that we were getting on a plane but her dad had taken her twice already just to watch the planes. (Metro fare $1.75 x 4 but I think I need to tell him that I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t need a ticket. Maybe she just wants her own. He’s pretty cool like that.)

I went to the grocery store in Florida to stock the house with Babystar-friendly food. Mostly fruits and organic eggs and whole wheat bread and ‘hippie’ stuff like that. Of course we shared with everyone, but I totally went just for the Toddlers. $51.95. And I brought a bunch of disposable diapers with me. Not quite two packs but I did buy two packs of Target brand diapers. $9.98.

We were there for only four days, and a lot of the time was just spent visiting. OMG am I eighty years old?? Come on sweetheart, let’s just sit and visit. HAHAHA.

My sister and I took the three toddlers to an AMAZING place in Jacksonville called Bay & Bee. You may remember the name as the place I sent my oldest child last June because they got the Tula Coast the same day that my son flew to my house. I need to thank him again, because Bay & Bee is so far across Jacksonville it is basically in the Atlantic Ocean. But it was freaking awesome. (I will share more in another post.) It was also FREE to first-time visitors, and my sister had never been either. So the Littles played for hours for free. Wow.

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We went to Chick-fil-A afterwards. It was just like home: play place then Chick-fil-A. LOL. $27.64. (Two adults and three Tinys, but I wouldn’t have been there at all if not for Babystar so I guess it all counts, right?)

The next day we drove all the way into Jacksonville AGAIN to play at the Hands-On Children’s Museum. ($20.50…I paid for my oldest son and his girlfriend too, but again, we wouldn’t have been there if not for Babystar.)

It was extra sweet because I remember going to the same place with my first two babies who are now basically senior citizens.

All that driving took all that gasoline so I filled the tank: $47.37.

The rest was all family visiting and family dinners. I did buy an overpriced cup of fruit and a ‘blueberry cookie’ (except it really was a muffin) for the girls at the airport for $8.73.

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On the ride home, my darling niece explained to me the per the pictures in the safety instructions booklet, we were going to ‘fly and fly and then go in the water’. Um. And then when we were landing at DCA, which is right by two rivers, she saw the water and said, loud and excitedly, LOOK I TOLD YOU WE ARE GOING IN THE WATER. I hope the people sitting near us weren’t nervous fliers. HAHAHAHAHA.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,550.19

Cold!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have molars. Four molars. The landing was a bit bumpy, but we are in the clear.

Babystar handled it like a little champ. It only really bothered her at night, and since she sleeps with me, I heard every cry. I ended up giving her Motrin and/or Tylenol to get her through the worst of it.

Babystar was also sick for a few days so we went through the Motrin/Tylenol cycle to bring her fever down. However, she will now actually TAKE medicine so I guess that’s good. Protip: measure in the dropper but give it to Baby in a spoon. It worked for me. Good luck.

  • Infant Motrin 9.99
  • Generic infant ibuprofen 7.99
  • Infant Tylenol 9.99
  • Children’s Motrin 5.99
  • Children’s Tylenol 5.99

The trying-hard-to-be-a-cliche husband bought the children’s versions by accident, but Babystar is in the right weight class so we used them in a pinch. The bottles are sitting mostly full in the medicine cabinet though. Hopefully they don’t expire before she turns two.

I have before mentioned my love and support for Hyland’s Teeting Tablets. But. That last, recent, round of articles finally knocked me down. I am not at all actually convinced that they are harmful to Babystar. But that *what if* in the back of my head finally got loud enough for me to stop using them. Ten points to Big Pharma. Jerks.

We did the cold washcloth trick for awhile, and she liked it until she didn’t. I had some teething rings given to her long ago, and she didn’t really like those either. She very much likes chewing on frozen silicon kitchen spoons. Once we discovered this, we bought more at Home Goods ($3.99) plus a pair of pink whisks to add to her kitchen utensil collection that have nothing to do with teething but she liked them so ($3.99).

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When she wants one, she tells us ‘cold! cold!’ and points to her mouth. Good communicating, Babystar.

Do you have any teething tips? What worked? What didn’t work? How are you feeling about the Hyland’s Teething Tablet controversy (if you care at all)?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,351.03

 

More Adventurous.

I miss Rilo Kiley. I miss when I used to be hip on all the new music. One of my favorite things about Nook is the fact that they play (kid-appropriate) indie music and not in-your-face toddler tune/nursery rhyme/wheels-on-the-bus type of stuff that I get to hear PLENTY of, thank you very much.

So anyway, I paid $120 to join Nook for a month. February 15-March 15 you will find me there A LOT. Especially on Thursday mornings for Baby Yoga. (OMG, I took Babystar for the first time last week and she was SO INTO IT. For like ten minutes before getting bored and wandering off but still. Next week we are shooting for twelve minutes.)

I’m not sure yet if I will join for another month, but maybe. There are lots of other classes that I very much want to check out. Membership gets me in even if there is a wait list, and I love being VIP, even at a baby play place. A day pass is $20 so we just have to go six times to cover membership. And with the membership, I can pop in for 45 minutes so Babystar can play, and then leave before she gets bored, and I don’t feel like I wasted $20.

So far, we dig it.

As I’ve mentioned before, it is the opposite of a place like Busy Bees or a soft play room, so we still go to those too. I recently bought another $36 3-visit pass to Busy Bees. And I went on a 2-for-1 Tuesday with Babystar and my niece so that was another $15. Oh, and I treated my SIL and niece to Chick-fil-a that day too ($23.47 for all four of us, but we wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for Babystar and Busy Bees so I think I have to include all of it). We also went to the cool play room with the giant ball pit again ($5).

Cooler than ALL OF THESE is the Building Museum in D.C.!


I recently went with a mama friend who has a membership and so Babystar and I got in free. I helped pay for parking ($4.60) and bought some lunch at the cafe ($9.63) and I really might consider joining also. It’s only $90/year and the Building Museum has constantly changing exhibits. Not all are kid friendly, but they do have a permanent kid friendly area that is so popular that you need timed tickets that you can only get once you arrive at the museum. The area has a fully stocked mini-house, a bunch of building toys, blocks, dolls, a wall of cool latches, and so much other stuff that I can barely remember everything. I remember that none of the kids (age 1-5) were ready to leave when we had to leave. That’s high praise.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,091.48

 

Snacks, Pals, and SnackPals

AKA That Time I Tried Tryazon.

Have you ever heard of Tryazon? The concept is pretty cool. You sign up and they email you ‘party opportunities’ which is code for ‘free stuff in exchange for free marketing.’ All well and good, fair is fair and all that jazz. When you see an email that interests you, you fill out a short application and Tryazon then chooses a certain amount of ‘party hosts’. (Usually 100 but I have seen less.) You get a box of goodies and have a party inviting your friends over to check out these goodies and then post about it on social media.*

If you check #tryazon over on my Twitter or IG, you will see some pictures of my party.

I invited about a million people, but the party day turned out to be the first 70+ degree day in our area in MONTHS (last Friday), so lots of mamas took their children outside to play instead. I don’t even blame them. I would have done the same thing. Don’t worry, I did take Babystar to a park before the sun set. I’m not a MONSTER.

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Before I knew that only a few (wonderful, stunningly gorgeous) friends would turn up, I went to Trader Joe’s that morning and spent $44.09 on fruit and cheeses and crackers and a few bottles of sparkly stuff to drink. Non-alcoholic because BOOOOOOORING but also because it was the middle of the afternoon and I have too much responsibility for day drinking these days. Which, quite frankly, sometimes very much sucks but here we are.

Oh wait, I ate a 0.19 banana while shopping so that’s actually $43.90.

Tryazon sent me plastic snack dispensers called SnackPals from a company called Wow Gear. They also sent a Wow Cup, a cool looking game to play from Madd Capp Games, and three different types of snacks to fill the dispensers (goldfish, gummis, and Cheerios).

 

Ok, so I signed up to do this to see if I was a ‘Brand Ambassador’ type of person. I am not. I am more of an ‘honest review’ type person. I never really learned that lesson about ‘if you can’t say anything nice, STFU.’ I think I will not be asked back. Whoops.

I WILL say that one mama LOVED the SnackPals dispenser. She went home with two of them — the unopened door prize and one of the demos. She said that her son refused to stick his hand into that other variety of snack containers. You know the kind I mean; there are several on the market but they all have a sort of plastic seal with a scary claw like opening that keeps the snacks from spilling out. We have the ubbi tweat container and Babystar digs it. (We had two and lost one and I don’t miss it enough to replace it. So there’s that.)

The point of the SnackPals container is portion control snacks for kids while on-the-go. Or while at home, too, I guess. You fill it with snacks (goldfish or gummis or m&ms if you are competing for favorite parent that day), turn it upside down, give it a solid shake or two, turn it right side up, then open the top to dispense a small portion of snacks. That totally happened when the adults experimented.

However, a three year old in attendance could not figure out how to work it or even open it. That is unfortunate because I kind of think three-year-olds are about the perfect target audience. The one year olds ignored it, even when they saw that there were snacks inside. The five year old shook and dispensed, shook and dispensed, over and over so there was no portion control aspect other that a parent saying hey that’s enough which we could do with literally any container.

The five year old quickly became the hero among the children there and wielded her power like a proper Snack Princess.

Because we were FULLY COMMITTED to this product review, we even checked to see if it fit in the stroller. It did not (we only checked the one already open and parked out front but dude).

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Also, it has no handles. Little fingers need handles. Mamas holding seventeen things need handles. If it’s not going to have handles, then it should at least fit in a stroller-sized cupholder. Right?

The Wow Cup sippy cup COULD NOT BE SPILLED. If all you are looking for in a cup is that it can not be spilled, look no further. But also, not a single one of the six children at the party could drink from it. (Yes, I washed it in between tries while wishing Tryazon had sent more than one for review. And to be fair, the four month old baby didn’t even try. Lazy baby.) Even I couldn’t get any water out. A couple of other ADULT WOMEN with brains could not get any water out. One of the mamas in attendance luckily had a similar sippy cup for her one year old and told us that we had to sort of squeeze/bite the sides to make it work. We did. It worked. But WHY would you want to teach your child to bite the lip of a cup?!? What about when they drink out of a glass made of ACTUAL GLASS?!? Seems dangerous to me. Hard pass.

(But then later that night I made my husband try it, you know, for research, and he drank with no problem and didn’t even understand my confusion. So, obviously, I need to replace our wine glasses with plastic and metal.)

We did not play the included game at the party. It looks really fun, and it will be played very soon at a child’s birthday party, and I think it will be perfect. It is labeled for players age six and up (which is why we didn’t play it and quite frankly why would you send that particular game along with snack dispensers and a sippy cup??) and it is for 3-13 players. I think the girls will have a blast playing at the party.

The party was fun. Parties are fun. But I would have rather spent $40 on a party on a day of MY choosing and not had the conversation center around baby products. Well, the conversation almost always gets around to baby products anyway because we mamas are #basic like that, and I guess it was kind of fun to have something new to experiment with, so I guess I might do it again but I am pretty sure I will not be asked to do it again.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,882.78

*Now the Tryazon web site has an option for something called ‘Tryabox’ where they ship you something to review and you don’t have to commit to a party and that sounds really cool. I like parties but again: $43.90. Which I know I did not HAVE to spend (and I definitely have leftover snacks) but what kind of host invites adult people to a party and offers them only Cheerios? Not me.

 

College Applications.

Just kidding. Babystar is a long way from college. The Teenager has spent the winter meeting application deadlines for school in the fall. Not the baby. That would be ridiculous.

RIGHT?

Apparently not.

We just spent $100 on preschool applications for the fall. One application was $75 and I already know that Babystar is waitlisted. One was $25 but we have not heard back yet.

All the local mamas told me to try for at least three preschools, hoping to get into one. I didn’t listen; I only submitted two applications. But dude. She’s not even two (well, she will be two in the fall). I sort of figure that my ‘Option Three’ will be to not send her to preschool in the fall. Two-year-old classes are only two days a week for like three hours. It’s a big step, but also, it’s totally fine if she doesn’t go. Right?

Did I just BREAK THE BABY OH NO?!

(Just kidding. Probably. Hopefully.)

Btw, that video was taken at the library, which is FREE, although we did buy a Little Critter Numbers board book for fifty cents from the library sale.

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RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,838.88

Oh My Darling, Valentine.

I belong to a chapter of MOMS Club International (and I just paid my annual dues which are $25 but really $26.80 if you pay online and I paid online). This month our MOMS Club decided to have the kids make valentines to bring to a local assisted living home. This is the same place where my motherfreaking rockstar Teenager hosts a weekly ‘art club’ because she is an amazing human with nothing but kindness in her soul and also because she has to do a community service project to earn her IB diploma. Anyway. I have not met these seniors but I have heard a lot of great stories and I want them to have wonderful valentines from the adorable children in our club.

Something always comes up, right? On the day that we planned to make the valentines, one mama couldn’t leave her house because her children had turned into flying monkeys from Oz. Another mama had an exorcist-like vomit situation going on. Another mama had a baby that set the house on fire. Probably. I think the remaining children wrote an avant-garde musical and went on tour. Or something like that.

Unfortunately, hardly anyone showed up last week when we were meant to make the valentines. Babystar was actually the oldest of the only three children there, and she was all about the markers for approximately three of the one hundred twenty minutes. She created a stunning work of art. (The other two were a bit too young.)

Babystar loved the stampy markers at Nook last month and clearly remembered them because she basically reenacted that super fun marker time. Except these were not the right kind of markers. Whoops.


This past weekend I went to Micheal’s to find some of those stampy markers and some age appropriate valentine-making supplies. So basically, foam hearts and stickers. They were out of valentine stickers so we got animals and cars and stuff. I used a couple Micheal’s couponS and the total was $22.03. I did get one small pack of heart stickers at Target for $2.99.


We made some valentines. I know some other mamas in the group made some valentines. At least we won’t show up empty handed. If we run out, Babystar is A+ at blowing kisses.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,683.49