Toddler Travel: Now With More Screen Time!

We hit the road last month to visit grandparents in Myrtle Beach over the holidays.

Babystar cannot really handle long trips in the car, so we broke up the seven hour trip by staying at a hotel halfway. $140.36 each way.

What a waste of money. She’s going to have to learn to be in the car AT LEAST seven hours in a row because we have a LOT of driving ahead of us this month.

Colorado via Florida. I know. I’ve seen a map. But it’s warm in Florida.

We bought the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kid’s Edition. $94.99 on sale and with the Red Tricycle discount. WORTH. EVERY. PENNY.

She didn’t need the ‘television’ every moment of the drive, but our drive home which was supposed to be only four hours from hotel to front door turned into an eight hour traffic nightmare. Blue’s Clues to the rescue! And Trolls! And Dinosaur Train!

We already have Amazon Prime and I can download a lot of things for free, like Super Wings and Dinosaur Train episodes. I did buy the Trolls movie for $9.99 and the Trolls Holiday Special for $4.99.

I bought it in pink and called it ‘Mommy’s Pink Toy’ so she would understand that she couldn’t have it whenever she wanted like her own toys. It works. She knows that she only gets to use it in the car on long trips. But. Um.

amazon fire kids

I realized later that ‘Mommy’s Pink Toy’ is not the best term for anything ToddlerMonster-related. Whoops.

I love this thing. The battery lasts forever. (Unlike mommy’s other toys.)

However, I have one major complaint: I want to download more than twenty-five things at one time. WHY YOU TRYNNA HOLD ME BACK, AMAZON?! I totally understand the limit on the free stuff from Amazon Prime. But I PAID for Blue’s Clues Season 3 in its entirely. I can’t even download the whole season because I get a limit of twenty-five downloads. Also, a twelve minute Super Wings episode counts the same as a long run movie like Moana. WHAT. Dude.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $25,770.81

Play. DOH!

Babystar is Kid Number Three. There are some things I should really know by now.

Sure, Kid Number One and Kid Number Two were born in the last millennium. Before iPads and Netflix and Facebook Mom Groups.

But still. Play-doh has been around since the beginning of time.

That is probably why everything we see from Caveman Times is always brown. It’s Play-doh. All squished together. The fate of all Play-doh everywhere and everywhen.

Babystar has been gifted Play-doh in the past. I always put it up ‘for when she gets older.’ So we already have a hidden stockpile.

But then. We found the COOLEST Play-doh set at Costco for $19.99 and I totally bought it. I’m not gonna lie — I mostly bought it because I wanted to play with it too. Who DOESN’T want to make Play-doh Pasta!?

Playdoh2

Plus, you know, it’s getting cold outside. So we need some indoor toys. Like she doesn’t have TOYS IN LITERALLY EVERY ROOM OF THE HOUSE BUT SHHHH.

This kid is spoiled. Crap.

Be right back I have to go clean up some Play-doh also this is now my whole life.

I totally knew better. Is anyone else out there as dumb as me? What do you let your kids do/have/play even though it basically ruins your life?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,821.92

Dinosaur Land.

You know that Salvador Dalรญ painting with the melting clocks?

Dinosaur Land in The Middle of Nowhere, Virginia is exactly like that. But with dinosaurs. Non-melting dinosaurs.

This place is amazing. I am a HUGE FAN. But it is clearly not, like, a research institution. Drive eighty miles east to the Smithsonian for that kind of dinosaur experience. Dinosaur Land’s target audience is obviously children. Or maybe Collectors of Odd Experiences. The dinosaurs are made of fiberglass that looks like paper machรฉ. There are even little dinosaur families with dinosaur babies. But then there are BATTLE SCENES and dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs. WHAT. WHY.

Babystar said that one of the dinosaurs was sleeping. I went along with her version of events.

This place is an hour and a half away from D.C. in decent SAHM traffic. It is definitely worth a visit if you live within two hours of Dinosaur Land, because you won’t find many other places like this in your life. Admission is $5 for ages 2-10 and $6 for ages 11 and up. (I paid $22 for two adults and two toddlers. Then my friend bought the girls dinosaurs on the way out.)

Side note: my most favorite non-child-related SAHM perk is the LACK OF RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC. Highly recommend. Four stars.

Dinosaur Land is NOT worth a visit if you are simply visiting Washington D.C. for the monuments and museums. Dinosaur Land is a novel roadside attraction. Imagine that you live in the country and the old dude on the corner has a bunch of dinosaur statues in his backyard. Dinosaur Land is exactly like that. And approximately that size.

Oh, plus there is a giant King Kong and you can climb in his hand for a picture. And there is a giant shark that you can play in. BUT DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE.

If you do make the trek, take a friend. The drive is long and it helps if you can sing along to some 90s music on the way.

Also, take a picnic lunch even though you may NOT eat in Dinosaur Land. (Dinosaur Land is really big on rules.) Head west on Route 277 and there is a really cool park about five minutes away. Sherando Park has about a million picnic tables including a few shorty tables that are perfect for toddlers. There is a small playground that is toddler appropriate (but doesn’t have the baby swings). And just a short walk across the gravel road, there is a really cool FREAKING GIANT play structure that will give parents of toddlers a mini heart attack. But it DOES have baby swings. It also has a smaller toddler size play structure but why would any self-respecting two-year-old want to play on that when they can climb to the top of the world and almost fall but not fall and — oh, sorry. Everything’s ok.

Sherando Playground

Adults: make the climb and slide down the highest slide at Sherando Park. It is NO JOKE. Do it. You’re welcome.

We stopped at an adorable farmer’s stand on the way home and I bought a giant cookie for Babystar and a tomato that she poked her thumb into because toddlers love experiments. And a soda. ($4.25.)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,749.39

 

 

Social Butterfly. And Literal Butterflies.

I am a Textbook Introvert. Two year old Babystar is EXTROVERT AF. Every morning when we wake up, she asks me where we are going and who we are going to see.

This kid is going places. Literally.

We recently went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The museum is free but we paid $4.60 for street parking and $11 to go into the Butterfly Pavilion. The Butterfly Pavilion is a small humid room full of flowers and fruit and butterflies. The butterflies fly freely and one landed on my arm. This happened several weeks ago and Babystar is STILL talking about it!

 

 

 

Any time that any thing is on any person’s arm, Babystar is all LOOK JUST LIKE THE BLUE BUTTERFLY (pronounced fufferfy) ON MAMA’S ARM HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

AHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHHAHAHAAH.

It’s really funny, y’all.

Babystar also really liked the ‘big elephant‘ in the Rotunda, but who doesn’t love Henry? She was fascinated with the large blue whale statue that hangs from the ceiling, but she said it was ‘too scary’. Also, now she asks me all the time if a whale is coming to bite her. So. Um. Maybe it was too scary.

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has a cool little hands-on children’s room that I didn’t even know was there. Maybe it’s new? Maybe I just never had a toddler when I was there? It is full of cool science-y things that would really appeal to all ages of children. Some kids were doing puzzles. Some kids were checking out slides on a microscope. Babystar played with magnets for an hour. She would have stayed all day but the time on our parking meter expired.

 

 

We plan to go back soon either via metro or parking garage. Street parking is maximum two hours and that was definitely not enough time.

I try to take Babystar on new adventures often, now that she has developed some long term memory. But still we alsoย go the same places over and over. I don’t have time or space in my life to post everything individually, and much of it would be boring and repetitive.

Recently, we have hit up a few old favorites. We have been to Busy Bees four times recently. The first three visits were $15/pop but yesterday I got smart and bought a $36 three-pack. So the next two visits are already paid, and I saved a few bucks. We have gone to Rise and Rhyme at Busboys and Poets twice at $5/visit. Plus we have to count the sweet potato pancake breakfast we always share that is AMAZING and rounds up to $20 with tip. We went to the airport to watch the planes take off twice ($18 total for parking). We went to a friends birthday party and brought a gift and card ($21.98).

RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,659.58

 

 

 

I Joined a Museum 100 Miles from Home.

Have any of you ever been to the Children’s Museum of Richmond?!?

It has EVERYTHING. A scarf ballet, a fully stocked art studio, a cow that you can milk (but don’t drink it), a diner with all the (fake) food you can eat, an actual ambulance to play in, an indoor carousel, and a Wegman’s. And that isn’t even half of the cool stuff at the Children’s Museum of Richmond. This place is literally the best children’s museum I have ever seen.

And it is right down the street from my oldest daughter’s college. We bought the $180 yearly membership (plus additional adult) so we have a fun place for Babystar to play on visits. She has never gotten bored here. The single downside is that she never wants to leave when they close at 5pm. We have been a few times now and we haven’t even played with everything. On our most recent visit, Babystar mostly dug in the rubber sand for dinosaur bones and then cooked her sister and I a very hearty meal.

Have you ever had ketchup in your coffee? I highly recommend it.

The visit before, we spent a lot of time in the art studio making masks. Another time, she did water experiments for an hour at the super awesome water table. (I totally brought about five extra shirts last Friday and she didn’t even LOOK at the water table. Of course.)

CMoR water table

There are also locations in Short Pump, Chesterfield, and Fredericksburg. We may check them out sometime as they are included in our membership. But the nice lady that sold us the membership said that those locations are not as big. And I am certain that none of them are five minutes from any of my children’s colleges. If we do go, I will report back.

Regular admission is $9/person. (Babies under one are free.) We only paid the regular admission once, actually. Then we did the math and realized that we should just buy a membership. So far, we have gone to the museum every time we visit Richmond. Since at least three of us (Babystar, the college girl, and whoever is driving) visit each time, the membership will pay for itself shortly.

Like many children’s museums that I have seen, this one has a lot of different areas to play, and each area is sponsored by a local or regional business. The main difference is that THIS museum has SO MANY areas to play.

 

CMoR is awesome and we love it. Go there.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $21,413.93