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.)

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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.

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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

 

 

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.

A Kitten and a Goose.

We have a new member of the family. Meet Tillie.

Yes, we have a kitten. I already love her but what the hell was I thinking!?

Tillie moved in just four days before all of the parties and the people and the everything and I think I was sleep-deprived and my omg-cute-kitty brain overruled my logical brain and now we have a kitten. I’m not sure how much I can blame Babystar. The oldest two kids have been begging for a kitten for YEARS. The husband has wanted more cats since our previous super awesome sibling cats passed away within a week of each other very early in my pregnancy. Well, ever since he got over their passing. They were really cool cats, and he already had them when we met. (RIP Lando and Possum.)

We live very close to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and we often stop in during our walks to say hello to the animals. And apparently it is Kitten Season. Babystar always liked the animals, but on the visit in question, she fell in HEAD OVER HEELS LOVE with a particular kitten. He was gray and white and his name was Frankenstein and he had a sister that was also available for adoption. She sat in front of his cage and talked to him and played with him for so long that I decided to adopt them both. When I asked about them, I found out that a couple was literally filling out the paperwork at that very moment to adopt them both. I saw them; they looked nice. Case closed, right?

Nope.

I made the mistake of texting pictures of Babystar and kitten to the fam. Whoops. The Teenager was up, showered, and at the park to meet us and plead her Kitten Case within the hour. So we stopped in again on the way home from the park for no reason other than to see if Babystar went to the same kitten.

Of course she did.


But Frankenstein already had a family, as I explained once to the ToddlerMonster and about fifty times to the TeenageMonster.

And then we met Tillie. She was in the cage next to Frankenstein, and her name was actually Lily. There were two identical cats listed on the picture, named Lily and Millie. But only one kitten was inside.

Someone had just adopted Millie and left Lily behind.

So of course we decided that the ToddlerMonster would make a fine kitty-sister for her, and we immediately adopted Lily and changed her name to Tillie. (Well, actually they were about to close so it was the next day right when the AWLA opened but immediately sounds so much better.)

Babystar was choosing a collar and toys for her and then running to show her (!!!) while I filled out the paperwork. It was adorable. And they really are like siblings. They fight over toys and attention and already love to play with each other.


But the kitten isn’t on Babystar’s tab. It was time for more cats. Or cat, singular, in this case. If anything, Babystar is the reason we didn’t get two.

Oh, and the Goose. We checked out a few story books at the library recently, and Babystar became enamored with one of them. Goose, by Laura Wall. She asked to read this book over and over and over and she can now ‘read’ it herself. I highly recommend this book, and we bought her a copy from Amazon for $7.20 (it’s still on sale!).


(No, that is not an affiliate link. I need to learn how to do that next-level blogging stuff. It’s just there because it is a cool book. If you buy it and you like it, feel free to mail me a quarter or whatever. Just kidding but for real could someone teach me how to make money blogging?)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,657.41

 

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

 

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

Winter is Numbing.

Winter means indoor play spaces.

Indoor play spaces mean germs.

Germs mean sick babies.

Sick babies mean sick mamas.

When sick babies and sick mamas FINALLY feel better, they want to play. So we go to an indoor play space and puke and repeat.

We were lucky enough to have a few surprise parkweather days this winter, but we have mostly been spending all that overflowing toddler energy at indoor play spaces. Or literally puking on my head. Extremes are so IN this season.

We usually go to Busy Bees. Mostly because Babystar loves it so much. As soon as we are close, she starts chanting ‘balloon, dog, balloon.’ But actually mostly becuase it’s next to a Chick-fil-A and they sell magic chicken sandwiches with the superpower to instantly brighten my day.

I buy 3-visit passes to Busy Bees for $36. But if we show up in the last hour, it’s only $10 so I pay that instead. I have already spent $56 this calendar year at Busy Bees but I still have one visit on the card. Sometimes the toddlermonster lets me sit by the wall and zone out for a few minutes. Worth it.

We  went to the recently opened Nook in north Arlington, which is basically the opposite of Busy Bees. It’s a ton of fun but full of neutral colors and imagination-based play stations. We loved it and will go back but it’s pricey at $20 (we went for $15 this visit with our MOMS group). Babystar made a painting (with really cool stamping markers so it’s basically pointillism right?), played in messy kinetic sand (that messy stuff they have near the front at every Brookstone in every mall), cooked some fake dinner, and tried to move in to this super cool tunnel with STARS in the ceiling (pinpricks of light but the babies were fooled). I didn’t snap pictures because I had other adults to talk to (AWESOME!) that day. Oh, plus they have free cookies. Hm. Now I want to go back.

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We drove up to Maryland, to check out the College Park Aviation Museum. Babystar loves airplanes and she had a blast at this museum. It was completely deserted so she had all of the toys in the hands-on area to herself. She was actually free (under 2) but the Teenager and I were a combined $7. If we were closer, I would take her there all the time. (When we were leaving, the Secret Service rolled up and locked down the tiny airport next door. It was a few days before the inauguration and we totally wonder who was flying into College Park. And also, why? D.C. is kinda far away, especially in traffic.)

We checked out another soft play room close to home. The Chinquapin Park Recreation Center Soft Play Room is REALLY cool. It’s sort of small but with an extra bouncy floor and lots of tall things to climb on. Plus there is a giant ball pit. (And weird green lighting; I don’t know what that is about.) Babystar loved it and would want to go every day, but it’s $5/half hour. We spent $10 but she would have played another hour in there.

 

We space these out with free library story times (that always include lots of songs and wiggle time) and the free soft play room at the local community center. And parks, weather permitting. And if I’m being honest, sometimes I count running around Target as her outing for the day.

The other half of the days have been spent indoors on the couch. Sick. Sick. Sick. I got Babystar hooked on Super Wings (an airplane cartoon on Sprout — she LOVES airplanes) during a particularly bad stretch where the whole fam was sick, and now she is a Super Wings junkie. If the TV is off she just starts chanting, ‘airplanes, airplanes.’ Crap. Why didn’t I stick with the freaking penguin documentaries??

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,631.67

Miss Star if You’re Nasty.

Ok, so I took Babystar to the Women’s March in D.C. SHE FREAKING LOVED IT. She loves being outside and watching other people and being sosososoclose to mama and the March had all of these things. She loved chanting and clapping. And she loved holding her tiny sign (made by the Teenager) up high with everyone else.

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Babystar was in the Tula for TEN HOURS STRAIGHT. I only took her out for bathroom/diaper breaks three times in that ten hours. Negligent? Perhaps. But there were like over half a million people there and bathroom breaks were really difficult. She loved it. Now I want a mama-sized Tula because it is clearly the most comfy place ever. And y’all? My feet hurt like whoa the next day and my legs are still a little sore but my back? Nada. Fine. Babystar is twenty-five pounds and change. And Tulas are clearly magic.

Anyway. Her tiny sign didn’t cost us anything extra. We had already bought an eight-pack of poster board and we still have one left over. We already bought the markers. We DID have to buy a clear backpack for the baby. We went ahead and bought three since we were buying one already and most of the cost was in the expedited shipping. (Nothing was available on Amazon Prime. I found cheap clear backpacks on Walmart’s website, of all places.)

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In retrospect, we probably didn’t need to buy them. No one was stopping and frisking.
And we would have simply used small purses for our phones and money and regular cheap drawstring ‘backpack’ bags for our water and snacks. But I could not risk having a non-clear backpack full of diapers and wipes and her cup and snacks and extra clothes confiscated. So that $36.09 goes in Babystar’s column.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,400.46

Crafty Bastards 2016.

Best. Craft show. Ever.

We lovelovelove Crafty Bastards. Last year we bought a super cool monster, among other things. This year we came home with two pairs of freaking cute handmade harem pants for $23 each from Funky and Little and a wooden car for $10 from ArtSpace but actually from USWood Toys. If you are in the DC area, be sure to check out Crafty Bastards next year. I’ve noticed a trend toward more and more baby items. Or maybe I’m just noticing them now that I have a baby. Either way, cute stuff. Highly recommend.

 

RAISING BABYSTAR: $12,443.09

 

Busy Babystar


We love Busy Bees in Falls Church. It’s right next to a Chik-fil-a so it’s the perfect Friday after school treat for both the Teenager and Babystar. Babies are free until age one and today was the first time we had to pay! Twelve whole dollars and she spent almost the whole time going up and down these stairs. 

Thank goodness she’s cute.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $12,049.13

MOMS.

I joined a gang.

Our uniform is yoga pants.

We travel with snacks.

Looking out for our shorties.

I joined my local MOMS Club chapter. (As far as I can tell, MOMS is capitalized but it’s not an acronym. So I guess we can make up our own. Mothers or Misunderstood Saints? Make Our Mustaches Sparkle? Mischievous Otters Make Spanakopita?) Mostly, Babystar likes to look at other kids. And eat them a little bit, but that’s another story. Plus I wanted the scoop on all the cool neighborhood SAHM shindigs. (Mostly we go to parks.)

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Membership was $25 plus some kind of pay-online fee.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $7,290.06