Great Plates.

I know, I know. Nobody asked me.  <raises hand>  But I’m going to share with the class anyway.

Design

Babystar uses four different types of plates. I did not research ALL OF THE PLATES (like I did with strollers and that was hell) so there may be better options out there. Pretty please let me know in the comments if you have any of these and like/hate/feel nothing about them. Or if you have a favorite that I have not listed.

ezpz mini mat

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LOVE

  • It fits on our Ikea high chair tray.
  • It is perfect on the living room side table or restaurant table because it does not slide easily.
  • The divided tray encourages Babystar to eat a variety of foods.
  • It’s silicon, so it’s BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates free.
  • Dishwasher safe (top rack).
  • It’s freaking adorable!
  • The extra lip around the food sections is a great place to put tiny bites from my plate that she may or may not try. But she does not get upset about them because they are not (apparently) technically in her food areas.

SIDE-EYE

  • It is really easy to move around on the tray or table. It does NOT suction. It is well designed but most kids are smart enough to pick it up if that is their goal.
  • Babystar does like to move her plates from room to room because she takes ninety minutes to finish a meal. These plates are rubbery so very difficult for her to carry without spilling. (I get that this is only an issue for some kids.)
  • These plates are quite expensive. If you want several different colors or have more than one kid, you are spending some serious dough.

VERDICT

  • I like the two we own (one was a gift at a MommyCon session). I also have one of the bowls, which does not fit on the Ikea high chair tray but is great for art supplies. I definitely LOVED these plates a bunch when Babystar was just learning to eat and would get frustrated when her plate or bowl moved around unintentionally. My advice: get one or two for when your baby is first learning to eat. Once he or she can pick up the plate, it’s time to teach them not to do that anyway. I like it as a ‘training plate’. And then as a travel plate.

 

Re-Play Divided Plate

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LOVE

  • Re-Play is a great company that I kind of want to make out with. Their products are made from recycled milk jugs. In America. And did you hear the part about RECYCLED MILK JUGS??
  • BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates free.
  • Dishwasher safe (top rack).
  • The sections on the divided plates are deep enough to put actual food in, even runny stuff, like fried eggs or oatmeal or even, EVEN, cereal with milk. Whoa.
  • The divided sections also encourage her to eat a variety or foods. She NEEDS something different in each section. (So it also encourages ME to be a good mama and balance her meals. Thanks, fam.)
  • So far they have proven indestructible but I have not tried them on the bottom rack of the dishwasher (dun dun dunnnnnn). Which is great because Babystar likes to carry her plates around these days. (I really cannot figure out why she needs a change of scenery mid-meal.)
  • There are so many pretteeee colors from which to choose!
  • They are very affordable! I linked the plates from Abby’s Lane above because that online shop offers free shipping, and sells the plates individually for $3.25 each, in case you want to try one. You can buy direct from Re-Play here, but they sell the plates in 2-packs for $5.99. The catch is that you have to spend $79 for free shipping, and I hate that rule. I hate most rules tbh.

SIDE-EYE

  • Ahem. I must spend $79 for free shipping on the Re-Play website? AND their shipping is expensive. No, thank you.

VERDICT

  • Yes, please. We love these. But beware: if you have a plate thrower (opa!), these plates are irresistibly light and frisbee-esque. However, they aren’t going to break so there’s that.

 

IKEA KALAS Plate

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LOVE

  • These plates are SO affordable! Six for $2.49!! I bought a few packs and I use them for everything: play date snacks, stuffed animal birthday parties, and tossing in the diaper bag for picnics. I have lost a few along the way and I DON’T EVEN CARE.
  • The are BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates free.
  • They are dishwasher safe.
  • They are kind of the perfect size.

SIDE-EYE

  • The plates are not divided, and Ikea does not offer a divided plate option. Sometimes that is fine. Other times it is less fine. The problem is that Babystar (being a typical toddler) never really gives me a heads up.
  • The plates are almost too light. I like their weightlessness when I am carrying them in Babystar’s bag, but they do tend to get swiped onto the floor a little too easily.
  • They are available online but shipping is $10, so you have to either live near an Ikea or know someone who does. Or buy a whole bunch of stuff from Ikea to make it worth it which would definitely be my preference. Go check out their pillows. I’ll wait. (I definitely sent several packs of the KALAS bowls to my nephew in another state whenever someone was headed that way.)

VERDICT

  • Worth having on hand, even if you don’t have kids. I totally owned some before Babystar was born for visiting children. The price is amazing. The product is good enough.

 

Regular Dinner Plates

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LOVE

  • I’m pretty sure she feels like such a BIG GIRL when her plate matches mommy’s (and everyone else’s if it’s dinnertime).
  • This is extremely economical. Unless. Unless your child breaks them all the time and you have to pay for more adult plates (although this is like the salad plate size) or some ER visits from glass shard related injuries.

SIDE-EYE

  • Ok, first of all, and not plate related, but maybe don’t give the baby metal weapons utensils, even if they were given to you by her grandmother and used to belong to her father. Even then.
  • Also, we so fancy, and our dinnerware (though very cheap to acquire, dude, I bought an entire set of vintage Franciscan Starburst for fifty bucks from some clueless amazing person on craigslist), would be very expensive to replace. That does not mean I do not TOTALLY wish I had the child plate version of this pattern. But I just found one online after an hour of searching and it was $90 soooooooo I’m thinking that’s probably a nope.
  • Babystar likes to carry her food around. I would not freak out about the broken plate if she dropped it, but I would DEFINITELY freak out about the sharp ceramic shards on and around my baby.
  • Again, it’s not divided. (Though the child’s plate version is but I don’t have that one so please mail me one ok thank you.)

VERDICT

  • I don’t think this is a super great idea. Probably don’t do it. But also, you know, live your life.

 

My little Babystar has started this cool thing where she wants to eat twenty-five hours of the day. Yes, twenty-five. Because twenty-four doesn’t seem to be enough. I guess she’s trying to grow so she can reach the cookies.

My stack of five re-play divided plates was no longer even getting us through a whole dishwasher cycle, because of that whole CONSTANTLY EATING thing. I just acquired four more plates. Two were purchased by grandparents and two by me ($6).

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,297.37

 

 

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

Airplane + Food.

We went out to dinner last month and did not order a single thing for Babystar. She shared with everyone, and basically got the Teenager’s extra side (fries which is all Babystar really wanted anyway).

But. Whoops. We forgot to bring any toys. WHAT ARE WE, ROOKIES?!?

Luckily, we were at Longhorn Steakhouse which is in the parking lot of a strip mall. One of my favorite strip malls. It has a Home Goods (cue that ahhh ahhh shhhhhh music). And luckily (luckily?), there was a 40 minute wait so the girls and I walked over to Home Goods just to browse.

When my darling husband texted us to say that the table was ready, the Teenager had to text back: we’ll be there in a min. mom is buying an airplane. emoji emoji emoji.

Babystar LOVES this Melissa and Doug airplane. She played with it at dinner. She plays with it all the time at home. She has decided that certain two passengers are ‘mommy and daddy’ and she even eats lunch with the mommy and daddy at her little table and feeds them and shows them her toys. She uses the luggage as cell phones. I saw her take a selfie with one. Best. Toy. Ever. Plus it was only $13.77 because Home Goods is the bomb diggity. (Am I allowed to type bomb and airplane in the same blog paragraph? I can’t keep up with the TSA rules.)

 

We did buy some food for Babystar in February. I’m still only counting food that I buy specifically for her. I eat a lot of it, but I buy it for HER. She eats a lot of my food, too. She’s lately loving salmon, but we don’t cook any more than usual. I just eat a little less. She also shares our veggies, but we would always cook the entire bag. Again, I just eat a little less. A toddler serving is like a couple of bites for me.

We buy a LOT more fruit than we used to. A whole lot more. I try to buy in season and whatever is on sale but DUDE FRUIT IS EXPENSIVE. I never noticed before this fun, terrifying project called babycostsmoney.

  • graham crackers 2.99
  • clementines 14.47
  • strawberries 13.97
  • blueberries 4.98
  • tater tots (1 of 3 bags for the month but she eats a lot of the Teenager’s tots) 3.09
  • apples 12.54
  • pears 5.71
  • watermelon 11.36
  • shrimp platter 11.99 (she didn’t eat a single one of course but we bought them for her)
  • granola bars 5.19
  • grapes 3.05
  • organic carrots .99
  • cucumbers 1.69
  • chia seed waffles 5.98

Plus some fast food meals out. Shhh, don’t talk about it.

  • Chick-fil-A 1 strip meal 3.39
  • Chick-fil-A 1 strip meal 3.39
  • Chick-Fil-A 2 strip meal 4.69
  • Elevation Burger fries 2.95 and orange slices 1.95
  • Costco pizza 2.19
  • Costco pizza 2.19
  • Costco pizza 2.19
  • Pizza Hut pizza via Target 4.29
  • Pepperoni at Sbarro (Yes, just extra pepperoni. She shared our stromboli.) 1.49

 

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,232.37

 

 

 

 

 

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