Taxes.

I have decided not to consider or ‘subtract’ the child tax credit because that is waaaay too much math. (Since it’s not a straight deduction from our tax bill — or is it? I don’t even understand it really.) Also, any tax credit credit IN NO WAY covers the cost of raising a child. And definitely not this privileged little middle-class Babystar in our privileged pocket of America. But mostly because we literally never get a tax return. We always always always have to pay. How much or how little depends on the year, but there is no refund headed our way.

So that is why. If you were wondering.

Also regarding taxes: Sometimes I add in the sales tax when adding up Babystar’s total and sometimes I don’t. Quite honestly, it really depends on how easy it is to add the tax to the total. I save receipts, and I have a giant list on my phone of what we purchase for Babystar. If it is an Abby’s Lane email receipt for a Babystar purchase, I’ll add the total including tax. If it is a Target receipt with a bunch of other non-Babystar items, I’m not adding the sales tax. (I am definitely not asking the cashier to ring Babystar’s items separately so I can be more accurate, like I would if this bloggy experiment were an actual job. But now that I type this, maybe I should. It would definitely make my receipt pile smaller and more accurate.)

Just if you were wondering.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,003.94

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.

 

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

Auld Lang Syne.

There is something in that song about old acquaintances, right?

Is that the song about ‘make new friends but keep the old’?

No, I think that was from Girl Scouts.

I know, I know, I could Google this. But let’s start the year on a lazy note, shall we?

To new friends and old friends! Cheers and a very big thank you to all new and old blog followers and Instagram followers!! Happy New Year!

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Look at all these old and new friends for Babystar!

The snowman in the top picture is her BFF from last month.

The penguin came from her sweet cousin V.

The old school half-naked Bitty Baby came from a local mommy listserve ($15) so her human friends would have a baby to play with when they come over (but of course Babystar likes that one best).

The Target baby is still one of her #squad.

The Buckle Bear was the free portion of a ‘buy 2 get 1’ Target promo in December and I bought him because Babystar was freaking the freak out about learning to buckle all by herself thank you very much. He also has a button and velcro and a zipper but it’s really all about the buckle so we call him Buckle Bear.

The tiger was her Build-a-Bear gift from her big brother when he was here in December.

The newer Bitty Baby was from her grandparents a few months ago. Please notice her dashing layered look.

The dinosaur was her Build-a-Bear gift from her big sister. Both her older sibs took her to Build-a-Bear as her combined Christmas gift and let her choose an animal. They love their stuffed animals from BaB (some they have even given to Babystar) and they wanted to give her the first one. She liked the tiger AND the dinosaur so they held them both out to her to let her choose. Babystar looked at them and then pointed to both and said ‘TWO’. She got two. Smart cookie. Cuteness will get you everywhere, little one.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,225.23

It’s the End of the Year as We Know It.

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The week between Christmas and New Year’s always feels sort of like a half-deflated balloon. All the hype leading up to Santatime has ended, but the year isn’t quite over. School is out, Husband’s work is (sometimes, partially) out, and the whole schedule is off. But. It’s not yet time to jump back on the Resolution Train. (Hurry and eat all the carbs, CHOO CHOO.)

This past week was full of lots of surprise home-alone time. I’ve been organizing closets. I know — I am SUCH a party animal. Babystar has been having park adventures and mall adventures and general errand adventures with her dad. She loves it so much. The little monster is all like BOY BYE MAMACITA as soon as she hears it’s time to put on shoes.

Babystar got her first ever Dippin’ Dots on one such adventure ($4.75.) She rode in a cool rented stroller with a steering wheel ($4.50.) She had a slice of Costco pizza ($2.16). She conned her dad into buying two penguin ornaments that do not spend much time on the tree because Babystar is OBSESSED with penguins ($5.98). She came home one day with two half price Christmas balloons ($11.75).


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Speaking of penguins, we got tired of watching the March of the Penguins trailer over and over and over and over and bought the digital version of Happy Feet on Amazon ($7.99). OMG she does the Happy Feet dances and I DIE. We have watched it thirty-seven bazillion times already. In four days. That’s like 0.000000234 cents per viewing. Not bad. (No, I did not really do the math.)

Oh! He’s also been buying the disposable diapers. A LOT of them, but whatever. We still use one per night but he often takes disposables instead of cloth on their outings. I am 100% fine with this arrangement, but I did forget to include the diapers lately. Target has had them for $4.99 for the last month, and they are $6.49 usually. I’m guessing here, and I don’t like to guess with this project, but I’m going to guess anyway. Four at each price = $45.91. I definitely bought two packs while she was sick in November. Because gross. And we just bought some so we are set now. These *should* last 28 days but they won’t. Many nights she pees between the time we put on the disposable and the time she falls asleep. And many weekends she hangs out in disposables because she is hanging out with dad. (He totally uses cloth too. I think he just finds it easier to change her out of the house when he can toss the dirties. I don’t know what it’s like trying to change her in the men’s room so I’ll just take his word for it.)

Today we went to a kid’s New Year’s Eve Party at Busy Bees ($30) with a countdown and everything, and I’m already home sitting on the couch waiting impatiently for Kathy Griffen and Anderson Cooper to show up on my television. It was really quite fun but of course it was because check out the band.

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Babystar is crashed out on the couch next to me. For now. Not for the year tho, I’m pretty sure.

Cheers, y’all! Now GTFO 2016.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,210.23

 

Ezpz Bowling.

I’m not talking about the kind with bumpers.

Although, real talk, I totally bowled in the bumper lanes with my kids. I don’t even want to go bowling anymore now that the teens are past the age of bumper lanes.

And I was still terrible.

I’m way better at Wii Bowling and I know that is so ten years ago but whatever I still have a Wii and I still play sometimes. My Wii age is like 65 though. Yours?

WAIT WHAT WAS I TALKING ABOUT.

Oh, right. I bought the ezpz bowl. I like the two ezpz minimats that we have. We use them as ‘snack plates’ on the little side table in the living room when we are too lazy to cook a real dinner but still need to feed the toddler healthy food. We sometimes eat late night (fancy) cheese and (fancy) crackers and (fancy) salami for dinner around here. I know. We fancy. And we share with Babystar but also give her fruit and veggies. (Just kidding it’s all fruit.) And we cut her food smaller so she doesn’t choke and stuff. Plus she takes one hundred hours to eat so if we didn’t save some for her she would be hungry all the time.

And now she wants to eat cereal or pasta or whatever out of bowls with spoons ALL BY HERSELF so I bought the ezpz bowl hoping it would stay put on her high chair. Her spoon skills are rudimentary at best.

The ezpz bowl does STAY on her Ikea high chair (unless she actively tries to remove it but duh it’s not glued down) but it doesn’t exactly FIT. Whoops. I should have measured.

Has anyone cut one of these? I’m thinking that has to be the solution. It totally ALMOST FITS. But at $24.98 (including shipping), I’m a little scared to cut it. Will it completely fall apart? No, right? Right? Please share any knowledge you might have. Or opinions. Or inspirational quotes about cutting things down to size or whatever.

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RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,097.19

It’s Beginning to Look a Tiny Bit Like Christmas.

Just a little, though. HOW IS IT DECEMBER 21 ALREADY? By my math, I still have about three more weeks until Christmas. Right?

We bought a tree. I haven’t bought most gifts. Amazon Prime and I have a hot date tonight. I’m already chilling the pinot noir YES I KNOW IT’S RED WINE DON’T HATE.

The Teenagers and I made gingerbread houses last weekend. We totally had the Trader Joe’s White House kit from July, Haunted House kit from Halloween, and Gingerbread House kit from modern days, and we made them all into Christmas themed masterpieces. We listed to Christmas music and everything. Ta-dah! (Babystar was at Costco with her dad.)

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Why yes, my smartass son did make the White House and updated it to the Trump House. That orange blob is Mr. Trump. That lady on the top is Hillz. When they go low, she goes high? Ah, Millennials.

We hung felt ornaments on the tree that the Girl Teenager and I made a few years ago. Babystar keeps taking them off the tree and putting them back on and taking them off. So sometimes there are twenty and sometimes there are zero.

We also made some ornaments this year out of card stock and stickers, and we bought some foam and wood ornament making kits at Target but have not made them yet. Scratch that. The OMG NOW HE IS 20yo and Babystar made one. One. But he’s gone on the airplane now, so luckily I’ve got a date tomorrow with my 3yo niece to help make some more ornaments before Santa gets here. I bought washable markers to replace the ones in the kits because I am smart. And I bought a cute zipper case with bunnies on it to replace the delicious looking semi-edible cardboard marker boxes because I like when Babystar makes the ‘sniff sniff’ bunny face. I also bought some art paper and sparkly ribbon to hang the card stock ornaments (not pictured) and everything was from either Target or Marshall’s (the bunny case) or Micheal’s and most of it was on sale. All of the ornament making craft supplies purchased this month are BECAUSE of Babystar so it’s all going on her tab. Total: $34.97. At least the markers and paper can help stock the Toddler Craft Closet that exists only in my mind right now.

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I also built bought a snowman at Marshall’s because Babystar loves her ‘That’s Not My Snowman’ book and is mildly obsessed with snowmen (and mittens) these days. And the snowman has mittens. Dude. $7.99. She loves him btw. We took him to the theater last week.

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Oh, right. We went to the theater. Actually, we went to a baby play were we sat on the floor but it was really good and held her attention for the entire thirty minutes. I was impressed. And surprised. Totally worth the $9 per ticket ($19.75 with fees). No, we didn’t have to buy a ticket for the snowman. And we have been to Busy Bees twice lately. But I finally got smart and bought the $36 gift card that covers three visits. Which saves $9 over the course of three visits. And we still have one visit left on the card. Yay!

RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,796.18

 

 

 

Hippie Homeopathy vs FDA: Controversy!

In August, Little Miss Babystar started teething on vacation. (That kid has excellent timing.) She was crying all night and partying every day, getting six teeth AT ONE TIME in her poor little mouth. These were her first teeth ever, so she was probably like WTF IS THIS SHIT.

She hated it.

She also hated Tylenol and Motrin and any other type of pain relieving medicine. In desperation to find something that worked, I picked up Hyland’s Teeting Tablets at the Target in West Hollywood and crossed my fingers and said a little prayer and made a little offering to the Goddess of Teething. Guess what? They worked! She picked them up with her newly working little pincer grasp and ate ‘her candies’ and they freaking WORKED! I know, I know, it’s homeopathic and all, so it’s probably placebo but how can you placebo a baby? I’ve genuinely been thinking about this. You can’t, right? (Can you?!) They actually worked. Did I mention that they worked?

We ran out last week and that’s when I found out that they have been voluntarily recalled. Crap. My local Harris Teeter pulled them along with most US drugstore chains and I was freaking out and desperate so we ordered three boxes from Amazon that very day. She isn’t teething now but I didn’t want to be stuck without them during her next round of teething fun.

In the meantime, I have read many reports about the teething tablets. Hyland’s specifically, though I know the FDA has recommended discontinuing all brands. I talked to Babystar’s pediatrician about the tablets on our last visit, and she gave the ok. I have personally decided to continue using (and mildly worshiping) the teething tablets. I hope I am right. Parenting is hard. But I’m still researching. I don’t want to start a debate. But I am interested in your opinion. Especially if you have links and facts to share.

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We got a couple Halloween books too, as the tablets were one of those annoying Amazon Prime ‘add on thingys’ (technical term) so the shipping is free, but not really.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $12,493.77

 

 

Award Season!

I love Sally Field. I want to be Sally Field. I kind of am Sally Field. I was once a rebellious Norma Rae and I’m starting to feel like M’Lynn and I ALREADY KNOW I’ll kick it like (My Name is) Doris one day. But today I’m accepting an award and I’m so excited that YOU LIKE ME!!

The super cool chica over at The Non-Adventures of a SAHM just gave me a Liebster Award. Definitely go check her out if you like funny mums and honest product reviews.

At first I was all like, yay, lobster! Then I realized it’s even better. That’s right, y’all. BETTER THAN LOBSTER. Because a Liebster Award is like a ‘hey girl, i’m reading your blog’ to a blogger, from a blogger. So THANK YOU SO MUCH for the shout out!

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So for those who don’t know about the Liebster Award (2016), allow me to explain.

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  3. Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate five blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have less than 200 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  5. List these rules in your post. Once you have written and published it, you then have to inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post or mine if you don’t have all the information so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it)!

 

Ten Random Facts About Me. Ok.

  1. I hate the oxford comma.
  2. I make homemade beignets every Fat Tuesday.
  3. I love awards shows and ‘live tweet’ them with far away friends.
  4. I didn’t learn to ride a bike until age 12.
  5. I rock pigtail braids all the time because I rarely wash my hair.
  6. I attended Super Bowl XXXIX and The 86th Academy Awards.
  7. A bear once ate my cell phone.
  8. I once had dinner with 2/9 of Arcade Fire (are there nine??).
  9. I tell people my favorite band is Rilo Kiley but it’s really Violent Femmes.
  10. My favorite SNL character is Penelope.

 

Five Smallish Blogs that you Should Immediately Check Out. Ok.

  1. The Super Average Mom – Figuring out mom-life one day at a time. This is a relatively new blog but she is already a great writer. I really liked her post about NOT sharing. Plus she has a really pretty layout and I want her to thrive so go follow her. Cool? Cool.
  2. SAHM Cloth Mom – Adventures in being a sahm to a toddler! If you use cloth diapers or are just interested in cloth diapers, check her out. She takes the PRETTIEST cloth diaper pictures and her posts are stuffed full of really good information.
  3. DC Thrifty Mom – Free, Cheap & Discount Happenings in the DC Area. WordPress says she has only 133 followers. I kind of think that must be a misprint. I LOVE this blog. I look forward to her posts popping up in my mailbox. If you have kids and are in DC, Northern Virginia, or Southern Maryland, check her out. So worth your time.
  4. Front Porch Bliss – A hunting family sharing adventures in homemaking, parenthood, chicken keeping, and life on the Colorado High Plains. She takes the prettiest pictures! I will admit that I sort of overlook the hunting posts just to read about her chickens and life in the semi-wild. Her recipes look delicious (someday I will try to make one), her children’s crafts are cute and pinnable, and her chickens are CHICKENS. Maybe it’s the city girl in me looking at the green grass over there, but I just adore this blog.
  5. The Glorious Mom Blog. This is my favorite new discovery. Her posts are funny and relatable and informative. She just posted about baby items that should not exist and she is SPOT ON. Definitely check her out!!

 

RAISING BABYSTAR: $12,470.39

 

 

 

Babies Having Babies.

So apparently little Babystar tried to shoplift a Bitty Baby from the American Girl store at the Grove while we were in LA last month. Ok, I wasn’t there, but the Teenager says she picked up the box that was almost as big as her and was like, see ya.

Don’t worry. The taller, more law-abiding family members present intervened.

I wasn’t there THAT day (because I was at a taping of The Price is Right with my over-18 and therefore eligible son but no we did not win anything not even a new living room set or his and hers golf clubs but you can watch for me in the audience on October 25) but I WAS there a couple of days ago at Target when she spotted the baby dolls.

We take the toddlermonster to Target sometimes on rainy days to run out her wiggles. Sorry, Target. She sometimes rearranges your displays. I really do my best to fix them. Mostly. Anyway. We went there for a single pack of college ruled notebook paper for the Teenager and for some indoor sprintingfor Babystar. I somehow spent $100. Damn you, Target, you sorceress!

And now the Baby has a baby. And the Baby’s baby has a stroller. $12.99 and $9.99 respectively. (For comparison, Bitty Baby is $60 and her super fancy tiny jogging stroller is $58. Jeez, Mattel.) So I basically SAVED almost $100 because that is how shopping math works, right?

Babystar loooooves her baby. It is the cutest thing ever. I have had to be resuscitated at least five times now because I FREAKING DIE when she cuddles that baby. But then she eats the baby’s feet and throws the baby on the floor and the universe makes sense again.

Fun fact: I had to draw a belly button on the baby doll with a Sharpie because Babystar is obsessed with belly buttons and this baby didn’t have one. I bet Bitty Baby has one. Ugh.*

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I also bough a pack of Target brand diapers (highly recommend) for $6.49.

And the baby found a fort.

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RAISING BABYSTAR: $12,170.57

*I have nothing against Bitty Baby. Just kidding, I DO. $58 for the stroller?! $75 for a cradle?! The dresses are more than I spend on my ACTUAL BABY. I went down the American Girl path with the Teenager and I will.not.do.it.again. Ok, so I am HIGHLY PREJUDICED against Bitty Baby. Sorry, little plastic baby. NOT SORRY, Mattel.