The Longest Christmas Season.

Did you know that this year we have the most days possible between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Which means that THIS YEAR we have the longest Christmas season possible.

I love lights and trees and wrapping presents and holiday playlists so this is SO LIT.

We bought Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving. The ToddlerMonster was super excited. But she didn’t want a big tree. (Mama did though so obvs we have one.)

But she got her little tree too. HER CUTE FACE IS IRRESISTIBLE! Literally impossible to resist.

christmas tree cutting

littletree

The little tree is in her bedroom, waiting for ornaments. ($40 plus a $25 small stand.) I have a feeling we have started a new tradition.

Oh look, there’s that $9.99 robot pillow we bought at Ikea. Yet another offering to the Goddess of Tantrum-Free Shopping.

What else have I forgotten? Gas. For years and years, I filled the minivan once a month. I worked from home and I hate driving anywhere outside the beltway. But now, I fill the tank TWICE a month. I still don’t often leave the beltway but Babystar and I find ourselves on mini adventures every day. This started when she was about eighteen months old and noticed that we were walking to the same three playgrounds and one library. So a year ago. And a tank of gas is about $40. I’ll add $480 for the last year and $40 per month going forward unless something changes.

Oh, and diaper pail liners! We buy one pack of Harris Teeter brand thirteen-gallon trash bags every month and we only use them in the Ubbi diaper pail. We bought the diaper pail in February of 2016, twenty-one months ago. The bags are $6.47 per box. Um. Math. That’s $135.87 so far. And I’ll add the $6.47 going forward until we are done with diapers.

I wonder what else I have missed. There hasn’t been a change in the electric bill or anything like that. I used to work from home, so we had the air or heat on all the time anyway. Am I overlooking anything obvious?

Yes. The Target Baby Box. $7.42. They only offer the Baby Box once in awhile but I got one last month! We already love the honest face and body lotion — both of us. Babystar likes to lotion her hands and legs and put on chapstick just like mama. SO CUTE I COULD DIE. (You see why she gets her own Christmas tree just by asking nicely, right??)

target baby box fall 2017

And again with the food. Below is November’s list. I KNOW that this part is horribly boring but I’m really all about the accuracy here. Just skip reading this part. I don’t mind. I barely want to write it. All those bullet points and typing, ugh. Amirite?

  • Costco fruit bowl 9.99
  • waffles 2.50, 2.50
  • blueberries 6.99, 3.99
  • pirate’s booty 8.99
  • Costco hot dog 1.50
  • IKEA pizza 1.75
  • IKEA hot dog .75
  • IKEA water 1.00
  • Trader Joe’s strawberry bar 1.99, 1.99
  • Trader Joe’s fig bar 1.99
  • Trader Joe’s toaster strudels 2.69, 2.69
  • Mac and cheese 2.99, 2.99, 2.99, 2.99
  • cheese slices 4.99
  • pasta snakes (penne) 1.49
  • letter cookies 2.99
  • bananas 1.50
  • Honest juice boxes for popsicles 3.69, 3.69
  • frozen pizzas (don’t judge me!) 3.14 3.14, 2.15, 2.15, 2.15, 2.15 (hell of a sale!)
  • vanilla ice cream 4.49
  • McDonald’s Happy Meal 2.99, 2.99, 4.19 (they gave me the wrong one but I didn’t bother to complain), 2.99
  • Chick-fil-A kid’s meal with uncharge on my fries to share 3.49 + .20
  • Chick-fil-A kid’s meal 3.49 + .20
  • Chick-fil-A kid’s meal 3.49 + .20
  • Chick-fil-A kid’s meal 3.49 + .20
  • cantaloupe 3.99
  • grapes 4.24, 4.76
  • tots 3.49, 1.65
  • Panera kid’s meal 4.99
  • small box of cereal at 7-11 1.99 (ripoff)
  • Busboys and Poets kid’s pasta and juice plus tip 10.00
  • Harry’s fries plus tip $7
  • goldfish crackers 2.49, 1.79
  • animal crackers 1.49
  • Haagen Dazs sundae 5.68
  • turkey pepperoni 2.19, 2.19
  • strawberries 2.99
  • penguin crackers 1.49, 1.49, 1.49

We bought some other boring stuff in November.

  • diapers 23.49, 15.09
  • bubble bath 14.09
  • baby wipes 3.49, 2.99, 4.99, 2.99, 3.29
  • laundry detergent 8.46
  • storage unit 127.00

 

Hopefully you haven’t read all the way down here because WHO CARES about the cost of grapes in November although why are grapes always on sale in November? I never noticed until I started writing this shit down. It’s such a weird time for them to be in season. When is grape season? I need to go to bed.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $24,297.64

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chick-fil-A vs. McDonalds.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta Snakes.

When my older children were toddlers (back in the Twentieth Century), I fed them Gorilla Bars. They LOVED Gorilla Bars. Gorilla Bars are granola bars with an adorable toddler pronunciation. And they have stayed ‘Gorilla Bars’ in our family ever since.

Babystar loves penne pasta. And snakes. And once when she was particularly cranky at dinner, the Teenager distracted her by having her penne pasta hiss like a snake. And now they are Pasta Snakes. Probably forever.

pasta snakes

Do you have any unusual names for foods in your family? Mispronunciations that stuck around long past Toddlerhood?

Below is the food we purchased in August SPECIFICALLY for Babystar. So far, I’ve been listing the foods that I bought with Babystar in mind. Although she does share with the rest of the family. And we share with her. She still isn’t eating more than a few bites of my portions. I will have to adjust this food calculating method eventually, but it seems to be working for now.

  • Turkey pepperoni $2.19, $2.19
  • Penguin crackers $1.59, $1.59, $1.59
  • Bananas $0.89, $1.23, $0.95
  • Strawberries $1.29, $1.29, $2.99, $3.39
  • Blueberries $1.99, $2.99
  • Apples $3.99, $3.99
  • Pears $3.99
  • Fruit roll-ups $1.49
  • Honest grape juice for popsicles $3.99
  • Aldi organic cheese puffs $1.99, $1.99
  • Frozen pizza $2.69, $2.69, $2.69, $2.69, $2.69, $2.69
  • Ice cream minis $1.39 x16 (She had HFM disease this month.)
  • Baskin-Robbins $2.59
  • Friday’s kids meal $4.99
  • Pizza slice $3.00, $3.00
  • Peter Chang’s spring rolls and fried rice $3.50, $3.50
  • French fries at the airport $3.50
  • McDonald’s Happy Meal $2.99, $2.99
  • Chick-fil-A kid’s meal $3.29, $3.29, $3.29
  • Insomnia m&m cookie $1.70
  • Dairy Godmother snickerdoodle cookie $0.95

ice cream

Also every month.

  • Laundry detergent $8.47
  • Storage unit $127
  • Diapers $4.99, $4.99, $4.99, $4.99, $20.89, $14.24 Β (I have basically abandoned the cloth again. Bad mama.)
  • Wipes $7.99, $4.99

 

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,963.61

WHAT IS YOUR WEIRDEST ‘FAMILY WORD’, THAT EVERYONE IN YOUR HOUSE UNDERSTANDS, BUT WOULD CONFUSE THE HECK OUT OF OUTSIDERS?

 

 

 

 

Baby Bento.

*Sponsored post.*

Remember when bento boxes got SUUUUUPER trendy in the States a few months ago? It was right between Mason Jar salads and DIY Instant Ramen. I think we’re doing Grain Bowls now, right? Or is it still kombucha?

ANYWAY.

I never got a super cool bento box, but I really wanted one. So I was SUPER EXCITED to get the innobaby Keeping’ SMART Double Insulated Stainless Divided Snackbox at 50% off to review. It’s basically a baby bento box. How cute is this?!?

innobaby bento open with cheese

The Keepin’ SMART Stainless Divided Snackboxes come in two sizes, 11 ounce and 15 ounce. The 11 ounce retails for $12.99. I chose the 11 ounce size and it is kind of perfect for Babystar’s 2yo hands. (I paid $6.49 plus $4.16 shipping for a total of $10.65.)

bento on bench

We have had the innobaby Snackbox for almost a week now and brought it along on a few outings. The strawberries and cheese stayed nice and chilled while we waited outside in the hot August weather for almost two hours. The waffles and strawberries (not pictured) stayed separated during a two-hour car ride. The strawberries and graham crackers did not spill during a stroll to the park.

(I don’t know if you can tell, but Babystar REALLY likes strawberries. Both in her mouth and on her eyes.)

bento in stroller

For size reference, the 11 ounce innobaby Keepin’ SMART Double Insulated Stainless Divided Snackbox above held five graham cracker halves and five sliced medium size strawberries. The divider was moved to one of the side positions.

The metal divider is a bit of a mystery to me. There are ostensibly three positions. Let’s call them A, B, and C. Position B is dead center, to divide the container in half. And there are two more, A and C, each on either side of the center slot B. The container is a three dimensional rectangle that you can turn upside down, so A and C are identical. It would make more sense to me, design-wise, if position A was dead center and B and C were on the same side. Does this make sense? Am I overthinking my ninth-grade geometry?

 

I love the size of the 11 ounce Keepin’ SMART Divided Snackbox. It is perfect for the ToddlerMonster to manage on her own. I love that the divider is removable and repositionable. I love that the entire thing comes apart for easy cleaning. And I really love that it is dishwasher safe. I MOSTLY love that the stainless steel keeps the strawberries chilled for longer than our other plastic containers. Especially if you pack them the night before (or even just put the stainless steel section in the refrigerator to chill overnight).

I wish the 11 ounce size came in the same cute printed patterns that the 15 ounce size did. Though I’m sure that if I wait five more minutes, the ToddlerMonster will decorate it with stickers.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,631.52

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SNACK CONTAINER FOR HOME OR ON-THE-GO?

 

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