Mega Blok Party.

Babystar’s favorite game lately is called BUILD A TOWER SO TALL TO THE SKY.

block tower

I have to use all caps so you can understand how to correctly pronounce the title of this game.

She has been playing this game with her very light foam blocks or her square wooden alphabet blocks with varying degrees of success.

But now we have over 500 Fisher Price Mega Bloks. ($63.56 with tax.)

This happened slowly. I innocently bought the 120-piece Treehouse Playdate pack of Mega Bloks for $14.99 from Costco one day. ($15.89 with tax.)

We came home and opened the box and built the tallest tower ever. It was taller than Babystar!!

I did some googling and realized that 120 blocks for $15 was a really good deal. The basic 80-piece pack is anywhere from $20 to $26 depending where you look. Unless you want the pink 80-piece set, which is mysteriously $14.99. I have found the exception to the Pink Tax. (Well, Mega Bloks and car insurance.)

I picked up another set the next time I was at Costco.

We really like the Mega Bloks. They are perfect for my toddler. They are basically Legos-in-Training. I know, I know, I totally love Duplos. But Duplos need a lot of snapping and pulling apart. The Mega Bloks just sort of sit on top of one another. And the protruding parts that fit inside the bottoms of the blocks are nice and big. This means they do not topple easily. Which is GREAT for my easily frustrated, poor-impulse-control-having, two year old ToddlerMonster when she is trying to build her TOWER SO TALL TO THE SKY.

(The set comes with stickers to make some of the blocks look like leaves or branches or whatever, but we threw those away. I personally think that stickers on blocks limit imagination, but you do you, boo.)

During a recent toy purge, I gave away the small set of Green Toys blocks that she had and never played with, along with a ton of other infant toys. This left an entire ottoman downstairs empty for Mega Bloks.

So I totally bought two more boxes of blocks. Fun fact: only three boxes will fit in the ottoman so one is still unopened just WAITING for one of her friends to have a birthday party. Or for us to get bigger ottomans, whichever happens first.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,723.14

Monday’s Mama is Fetch AF.

This Monday I am pleased to introduce Mary Catherine Awesome. She totally made those corn muffins like forty-seven seconds before that picture was taken but her food is so delicious that it disappears like she’s baking at Hogwarts. Mary Catherine is basically June Cleaver. Except PG-13.

Mary Catherine

This actual human woman cooks an actual edible dinner for her family of five every night. She sews things. She has eternal patience with her three children. She makes sourdough bread from scratch. She is always laughing and kind to everyone. Thank heaven her house isn’t spotless, or we wouldn’t be able to be friends. Perfection can be SO annoying.

You all read that, right? SHE FREAKING SEWS.

So. We are friends IRL but Mary Catherine is also a blogging newbie. She’s a super great writer so go check her out over at bingewatchinglife.blog. Although, she’s also crazy. She started the blog to chronicle her COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS decision to stop eating sugar. And to stop drinking booze. AT THE SAME TIME. I told her not to do it but she apparently just found out sugar was bad for her. Or something.

I’m kidding. Mary Catherine is once again being a badass while I’m bribing Babystar with our new game M&M Manicure in which I give her a chocolate candy for every fingernail she lets me trim. Mom of the Year over here, y’all.

Mary Catherine was awesome enough to answer some of my questions.

1. Wait, so Regina George was named after your high school? OMG WHAT?! Why??

Totally. OK, so I heard it as a rumor and it may be an urban legend, but I did go to Regina Dominican, an all-girls high school (or as they are called now, a college preparatory school for young women) near the north shore of Chicago–and I’m proud to be a Regina girl! It was SO much fun. But apparently Tina Fey didn’t find Regina girls fun? I think she thought they were bitches. Again, that’s what I’ve heard.

2. Ok, but like for real, HOW do you make sourdough bread from a starter?*

sourdough starter

This is a boring answer. Put starter in a bowl with flour, water or milk, and some honey or sugar. Hold your breath. And set out overnight. Next morning, add some salt and baking soda. Stir down with more flour until the batter forms a dough. Pretend you are making coffee so you can knead the sticky dough without “helpers.” Stretch and fold, stretch and fold, standing on one foot, for about ten minutes. Reluctantly let three-year-old in kitchen and have him wash his hands. (Later you will learn this was a decoy for the five-year-old who was stealing them raw dough to eat.) Roll into a rectangle. (The dough, not the child.) Fold into thirds and tuck the ends under. Set in a greased loaf pan. Slash the middle, just to let it know who’s boss. Set in a warm oven to rise for about two hours. Then, without moving the loaf, turn the oven on to 350 and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes. That’s basically how I do it, and it’s different every time. I started baking bread when I was in fourth grade and my mother abandoned me– I mean, got a part-time job and I had afternoons home alone. Using the oven, of course.

3. What is your favorite family holiday tradition? What is something that everyone else does but you skip?

Gosh, my favorite family holiday tradition? That’s really hard for me– I’m very much a traditionalist, so holding on to traditions until they are way past dead is like my life’s work. I love them ALL. But, for brevity, I love having an Advent wreath on our dinner table and singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” as we light the candle every night until Christmas Eve. Everyone else seems to be really into Elf on the Shelf right now. I don’t get that. It’s way cheaper (and more effective, I find) to remind your kids that elves are visible to grown-ups only and are watching them. And every time they start to step out of line from Thanksgiving onward you get to spin your head around super fast and yell, “Was that an elf?!!” It’s part of the reward of parenting, isn’t it?

4. It’s the PTA Bakesale. Handmade, store-bought, or nope?

I think you know the answer to this one. I am a creature prone entirely to stupid flights of culinary heroism and terrible vanity. I will bend over backwards to make something spectacular from scratch, just to hear the chewers sing my praises. Once for a bake sale in high school I made authentic Shaker sugar cookies from an antique Shaker cookbook. But first, I made the butter.

Y’all. She MADE the butter.

*I totally slipped in this question because I was hoping she would ACTUALLY WRITE DOWN instructions for me but nope. What the hell is ‘some flour’? Is that metric??

 

Waving the White Flag. (But the Flag is a Diaper.)

No, this isn’t a goodbye to diapers. Babystar is still a looooong way from being potty-trained. And I DESPISE potty-training so I’m not the most encouraging mother in that regard.

I have officially given up on cloth diapering.

But. Please know that we used and loved cloth diapers since the ToddlerMonster was one month old. I took a few breaks during travel or sickness but we always came back because cloth diapering is really easy. If this forty-year-old mama gets another surprise, we will cloth diaper again. I am a huge fan.

But. We go on so many adventures every day. Big adventures for hours in D.C. or small adventures to a playground ten minutes away. Or Target. Always Target. And carrying cloth diapers everywhere got really hard because of all of the OTHER things that a toddler needs (mostly water and snacks and rocks and snacks and extra clothes and snacks). For awhile we were cloth diapering only at home but that often led to only one or two diapers used per day and the laundry was just annoying at that point.

And finally: butt. Yes, more fun poop talk. I don’t want to tote around the USED cloth diapers anymore. The things that come out of a baby’s bottom are not pleasant, but they are certainly less UNpleasant than the things that come out of a toddler’s bottom. I’m going to leave it at that. If you are reading this blog, you probably have a kid. If not, I’ll let you be surprised. (All children are different and blah blah blah.)

So. I surrender. I have so many cloth diapers but I’ve given away or leant out at least half of them by now.

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Cloth diaper mamas, how long do they keep? Should I save this expensive stash for my eventual grandchildren? I have college students too, so I could have a grandchild in as early as ten years. (They have moved the earliest age you can legally become a parent to thirty now, right?)

disposable diapers

I am officially buying disposable diapers ALL THE TIME now. I usually buy Target brand. They are cheap, and I change her diapers quite frequently because I am paranoid about rashes (and I am still on the cloth rhythm, I guess). This month we spent $4.99, $4.99, $14.99, $4.99, $14.99, $21.99 (total of $66.94). I did just buy that giant box yesterday so hopefully it lasts for a while. Diapers are stupid expensive.

innobaby bus platter

We are still feeding her, too.

  • frozen waffles $2.99, $2.99, $2.99
  • cheerios $3.34
  • apples $0.52, $2.46, $3.99, $7.29
  • bananas $1.14, $0.95
  • blueberries $3.12, $3.99
  • raspberries $4
  • pears $4.99
  • cantaloupe $3.99
  • watermelon $4.99, $4.99
  • salad bar fruit $2.10
  • apple bars $1.99
  • mango bars $1.99
  • strawberry bars $1.99
  • jalepeno macaroni and cheese $2.99, $2.99, $2.99
  • carrots $1.49
  • broccoli (no she doesn’t eat it but I’m trying) $1.69, $1.69
  • (She does eat raw onion like a weirdo when helping me cook but I don’t buy them FOR her.)
  • frozen pizza $2.69, $2.69, $2.69, $2.69
  • Ice cream cups $6
  • Honest juice boxes for popsicles $3.69, $3.69, $3.69, $3
  • pepperoni $2.69
  • Tots $3.34
  • cheese $3, $3, $399
  • bread (yes we basically buy that FOR her) $2.79, $3.29
  • salmon $8
  • cod $6
  • chicken $12
  • Chick-fil-A kid’s meals $3.29, $3.29, $3.29, $3.29, $3.29
  • Chick-fil-A french fries $1.99
  • Five Guys hot dog $4.79, $4.79
  • Pizza slice $3
  • McDonald’s kid’s meal $2.99, $2.99
  • Costco hot dog $1.75, $1.75, $1.75
  • Winterbrook Farms hot dog $2
  • bakery sugar cookie $1.29
  • Dairy Queen kid’s meal $2.49
  • Rainbow Valley Restarant kid’s meal with tip $6

More boring stuff.

  • Laundry detergent $8.47 (no more diapers but lots of clothes)
  • Storage unit $127
  • Wipes $4.99, $2.99, $4.99
  • California Baby bubble bath $14.09
  • Travel baby wash because I forgot to pack some $2.98
  • Children’s ibuprofen $3.99
  • Tissues $1.99, $1.99, $1.99
  • Little Noses saline drops $4.99

 

RAISING BABYSTAR: $21,874.93

 

 

 

Riding in Cars with Toddlers.

I recently took a road trip with my toddler. Just me and the two-year-old.


I was cocky. I was so prepared. I was writing a blog post in my head as I pulled out of the parking lot. It was all about how TOTALLY EASY traveling with toddlers could be as long as you were prepared.

Turns out all you really need is a whole bunch of extra clothes and a lot of patience.

I pulled over three times before I left Virginia. I live in Arlington, which is the very TOP of Virginia. The first two times were because she ‘dropped’ something important, like a particular Care Bear or Little Pony. The third time was because she Exorcist-style puked all over herself and I had to clean her and her car seat on the side of the road. Then, fourteen miles later (but finally in a different state), she hurled again.

And I thought I had overpacked.

I stopped at the first place I could find. We changed her clothes and washed up in the Waffle House bathroom. I doubt Babystar was the first person to clean puke in that Waffle House bathroom and I doubt she will be the last. She is likely the cutest.

We walked around outside for some fresh air before we went inside and found a booth. ($10 for both of us, with tip.) My toddler ordered a piece of toast. Babystar is 85 years old, y’all.

When we finally got back in the car, she fell asleep almost immediately. We had been gone over two hours and we were about thirty-five miles from home.

So. Extra clothes and extra time. That’s mostly all you need when traveling with toddlers. I feel like I totally should have known that.

Instead, I prepared by packing an entire backpack full of fun activities (to puke on).


I brought along our beloved Melissa and Doug Water Wow ‘Art Show’ book plus two more that I bought for the trip. ($9.98) I also brought two Melissa and Doug Color Blast books, which are the ‘magic’ marker books. They only color on the paper in the book. They totally rock, but she didn’t play with them until we got to Pennsylvania. (Then they were awesome for sharing with her cousins so yay?)

I packed a super swag backpack. Inside were a few of her favorite books, a new pack of crayons from my back-to-school haul, two blank Dr. Suess tiny notepads from the Target dollar aisle, a cool generic Magnadoodle that I found for five bucks at Target, an awesome new ‘Nature’ sticker book ($6.99), and some stuffed friends for when she dropped the ones that started the voyage in her car seat. Babystar’s car seat is directly behind my seat, so I planned to just hand her fun new toys as she got bored.

I also filled and packed all three of her water bottles. I gave her one but planned to pass her the others if she emptied or dropped it.

I did not plan on the puke.

No one ever plans on the puke.

All of my preparation was totally useful for the forty-eight minutes of the trip that she was awake and feeling happy and well.

These minutes were not consecutive.

But. We made it. On the way home, I took her to a playground after our hotel breakfast (free!). We visited a train museum (free!). We waited until midday to get on the road, and it kind of worked.


She didn’t get sick right away. She played in the car seat with her bears and books and toys for a couple of hours. My magic backpack was a total hit! She then slept for a long time. And then she got sick when she woke up. We cleaned her up and spent ninety minutes at a Chick-fil-A ($10.55) that was about forty-five minutes from home. I wasn’t that mad. Babystar was a trooper.

All she ever wanted after puking was a clean shirt.

Travel tip: Pack a super cool fun backpack if you want. But mostly, pack extra clothes. And extra time.

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Does anyone have kids that are prone to carsickness? What helps?
RAISING BABYSTAR: $21,233.93