Elephants and Turtles and Snakes and Turtles and Turtles.

Just the other day, Babystar and I took an impromptu trip to the zoo. The weather was perfect and the Toddler REFUSED to get dressed to go to whatever class we were planning to attend that morning. (I am 99% sure it was a baby dance class because we have been trying to go to that at Nook but so far have literally never made it.)

She only wanted to read books in her pajamas. When we came to a book with a zoo (Peek-a-Who by Nina Laden), I asked her if she wanted to go to the zoo instead. She ran to put her shoes on right away. (I explained about getting dressed and she went along with my suggestion begrudgingly.)

I have been to the zoo many times but never with just a Toddler. I let Babystar direct our traffic and it was the best day. We spent more time than you would think watching a waterfall, we skipped some of the more popular attractions, and we watched one of the elephants eat an ENTIRE pile of hay. Babystar hissed some Parseltongue at her snake friends whom she ADORES. And we spent a very long time hanging out at the lemur exhibit, though we did not see a single lemur. There were about a million turtles swimming in the water surrounding the lemur mountain and Babystar waved to all of them. Individually.


I learned about a lot of good ‘stop for snack’ spot that I might otherwise have not noticed.


I highly recommend this exercise if you have the time and a spare toddler.

I packed lots of water and snacks so we didn’t spend a penny, but that is because we are FONZ which is a fancy way to say ‘zoo members’ in the DC area. $80 per year gives us a few cool perks but we bought it mostly for the free parking. Which we bought last fall when Babystar started learning about animals. And I forgot to add it back then, so I’ll add it now.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,291.37

 

Food and Snacks and Snack Stacks.

I love Re-Play Recycled kid’s plates and utensils. One look at my Instagram is all the proof you need. If you need proof. Like, if you think I’m constantly lying to you. Wait, what? Oh yeah.

Re-Play. I also love the Snack Stacks. I have three of the containers and three lids, so I can use them together or separately. I find myself making snacks in advance and putting them in the refrigerator so I can easily pack the Baby Bag in the mornings. (My family, we are not a morning people. Not even little Babystar. Weird, right? Babies are usually known for their 5am parties.)

Now Babystar likes the Snack Stack containers to hold her crayons at various impromptu workstations throughout the house so that she can create masterpieces the very moment that inspiration strikes. Brilliant artist, that one.

Clearly, I needed more. A few weeks back, Re-play had a great 50% off all Snack Stacks sale, so I bought the Rainbow Set for $25.24 including shipping. (I despise their $79 minimum shipping but the $6 shipping was worth it for such a great sale. The regular price for that set of twelve containers plus lids is $38.50. Score!)

So pretty.

And here is all of the food I purchased in March for Babystar. (These food posts are boring but important for accuracy. And I love accuracy. Again, I’m only counting food that I buy specifically for Babystar. We share our food with her, of course. And she shares hers with us. But for math purposes, I count all of the extra stuff that I would not have bought if she didn’t exist. Except now I count half of the money spent on frozen pizza and tots because we sort of buy those for both the Teen and the ToddlerMonster now. She LOVES tater tots.)

March Food

  • Watermelon 2.69, 2.55, 4.33
  • Chia waffles 3.59×2
  • Bananas .46
  • Granola bars 8.99 (Costco)
  • Ice cream 2.98
  • Tots 2×2.79
  • Mac and cheese 2.99×4
  • Pears 2.99
  • Clementines 2.99
  • Cheese 3.19
  • Eggs 3.99
  • Apple bars 1.99
  • Graham crackers 1.99
  • Apples 6.98
  • Frozen pizzas 12.00
  • Strawberries 8.00
  • Angelica Pizzeria slice 3.64×2
  • Chik-fil-A 2-strip kids meal 4.65×3
  • McDonalds Happy Meal (sans meat) plus Cutie clementine 3.49

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,967.94

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

 

Do I Have a Target on My Back?

I must.

I SWEAR with that place. Target, I mean.

Last Friday afternoon, the girls and I went to Target. The Teenager was to be Cinderella at a five-year-old’s birthday party the next day, and we went in search of a blue headband. We found one for one dollar! Score, right?

No. I spent $58. And change. And most of it was (of freaking course) spent on the baby.

So, ok, Babystar needed new socks. She has a big bin of infant socks that we have been stretching over her getting-so-big toddler toes. And I have been searching for socks that SHE could easily put on (which means NOT the fold down kind) and that had a lot of rubbery grippy bits on the bottom because she is forever at a soft play room in her socks. Ta-daaa! $10.49.

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Also, the Dollar Aisle had kid’s sunglasses. The black pair might be a little big LOL. $3.

 

And can Cat and Jack please stop being so freaking CUTE? And CHEAP? $4.50? Did a child make this shirt? Don’t tell me. I guess I should investigate this. Dammit. I love them so. It all seems too good to be true, though.

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(Babystar was SUCH A GOOD SPORT about modeling all of these for me!! She even had the ‘impatient but whatever’ attitude that I imagine most models have. Except Chrissy Teigen. Obvs.)

I also bought more of the foamy Method soap. Dispensers and refills. Babystar likes washing her hands. To be accurate, Babystar LOVES washing her hands. Which is great. Time-consuming but great. I also wash my hands waaaay more due to diaper changes and sticky watermelon so all hand soap purchased Friday goes on Babystar’s tab. $12.97.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,303.10

 

 

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

 

Ballin’.

Once upon a time my little brother brought a slide into my living room for Babystar. Last month, he added a ball pit. It is her favorite thing ever. She plays in the ball pit every day. Her snowman plays in the ball pit. Her dinosaur plays in the ball pit. Her babies play in the ball pit. Errybody plays in the ball pit.

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It used to belong to her cousin V, and some of the balls were crushed in the past two years. Babystar has upped her stunt game to include diving head first into the ball pit, so we decided to Amazon Prime a few more balls for some extra cushioning. $38.16 for two packs of 250 Fisher Price balls.

Guess who stopped by when there happened to be a giant Amazon box on the front porch? Yes, the awesome uncle who makes ball pits appear in the living room as if by magic brought the box in with him. Of course I had to let him dump all the new balls in the ball pit for Babystar. She stared up at him with so much joy. I think she likes him better than me now. I think she likes him better than PENGUINS now.

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Babystar looks like a little turtle swimming in all those balls with just her head popping up. The new balls were smaller than the original ones, which actually makes for a nice mix. After two days of picking up ballsballsballs and putting them back in the ball pit, I took some out and hid them in a closet downstairs. She didn’t even notice, and now we have backup for when some of these get squished or lost or whatever happens to small plastic balls in this big scary world.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,263.39

Boxing Day.

I hope you had a very merry Christmas, if you celebrate Christmas. Or are in the midst of a happy Hanukkah, if you celebrate Hanukkah. Or are enjoying a nice British Boxing Day, if you know what that is. And if you do, please tell me, because even Wikipedia is vague on the origins of Boxing Day. It’s either an extended Christmas (brilliant why didn’t we think of that!) or a Black Friday type situation. Either way, it sounds groovy.

I like to celebrate Boxing Day by removing boxes from my living room.

Christmas was bittersweet at my house. Babystar is here, of course, but the Teenager is visiting Florida where the College Boy now lives. So I only had one of my little chickens here on Christmas morning.

And I am super mean and am making the Teenager wait until she gets home to open her gifts. Or am I really awesome and creating a second Christmas in January? Yes. That one.

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Santa brought a LION. As requested. And Babystar is terrified of the lion. He does look super scary tbh. Lion is currently living in the basement working as a guard lion in front of the work bench. So far, Babystar just likes to talk about her lion and growl and sometimes go wave at him. Someday they may become roommates but it’s definitely not happening in 2016. (Santa, what have you done? Whoops.)

How does Santa work at your house? Santa never wraps gifts here. He’s far too busy. And he only brings one special gift. But I am told that he has different arrangements with other good little boys and girls. What’s yours?

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Also, we do the Somethings you Want, Need, Wear & Read deal. Christmas gifts were getting out of had so I had to stop the madness somehow. This seems to work. Except Babystar can’t count or understand this year so I wrapped up some extra things for her. For example, the dinosaur magnets and hammer toy have been hiding under brown paper in a box in the living room for weeks. I bought them when I bought her Buckle Bear (oh yeah, I’ll tell you later) because of an awesome sale and made them available in case anyone needed a tantrum distraction during this past month of skipped naps and added sugar. But they were still in that box when I was wrapping presents the other day so under the tree they went! The Ikea hammer set has been in the top of her closet forever because I bought it for my nephew but forgot to give it to him the last time he was here and it says 18 months so I thought he was too old for it now (but Ikea lied and I am once again putting it back at the top of her closet until she is ready) so under the tree it went! I just realized I gave Babystar two hammers for Christmas. Oh, well. Jesus was a carpenter, right? Hammers are totally Christmas-y.

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2016 tally (not all are pictured above and some of her gifts were from other people’s bank accounts):

  • Lion $59.99  (Santa always makes us pay!)
  • wooden bus, airplane, helicopter, extra people  $73.95
  • Melissa & Doug hammer toy (in picture) and dinosaur magnets $30.08
  • Three Usborne books $34.17 (a friend had a party this fall)
  • Re-play plates (and snack containers that didn’t get wrapped) $20.14
  • Dinosaur pajamas above were added to tally in previous post
  • Ikea toolset $7.99

Her Christmas haul was meant to be Something she Wants (wooden vehicles and yes she looooves them), Needs (more plates), Wears (pajamas), and Reads (books). The others snuck under the tree but I’ll be more strict next year, I promise. Probably. Otherwise, she might start to notice and then want extra presents in ten years when everything is holograms and hover boards.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,072.21

Birthday Balloons.

No, we don’t celebrate half birthdays or anything although holy bananas, Babystar is zooming up on 18 months. Big Brother is here visiting and he turned 20. Two. Zero. TWENTY. I have been a mother for twenty years. You would think I would have this thing down by now. Whoops.

Babystar’s squirrel balloon lasted a loooong time but was on the floor when we came downstairs two days ago. So we went to the party store to get balloons for Big Brother’s Birthday (but really for her). A snowman, three stars, and a dinosaur happy birthday balloon. Babystar can’t read; I think she thinks it says RAWR. Plus we bought noisemakers and party hats (again for the kids — Babystar and my 3yo niece, NOT for this grown up man that I apparently gave birth to) for a total of $25.69.

Don’t worry, I bought desserts and actual birthday gifts for the birthday boy. But we all know these things were for Babystar so onto her tab they go.

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RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,697.47

Airplanes and Dinosaurs.

Babystar is growing out of her pajamas. I was SURE I was set for the winter. I just gave away everything up to 18 months (except for one pair of Carter’s fleece pajamas because all of Carter’s clothes run small except the fleece or terry footed pajamas and we just have to accept this fact). I am trying to squeeze some more wears out of her 18-24 months pajamas but they are basically capris. Babystar is not tall; I don’t get it. But it’s cold at night. And she hates blankets. So I bought some 2T jammies to hopefully get her through the winter. The cotton sets were buy one, get one half off. I bought two of the same, so four sets of airplane pajamas. Babystar loves airplanes. She waves to them and blows them kisses. She knows the difference between and airplane and a helicopter. It is really funny listening to her trying to say helicopter. The fleece dinosaur two-pack was on clearance. She also loves dinosaurs. Yes, I bought these in the ‘Toddler Boys’ department but she legit loves dinosaurs and airplanes. Which she learned about from her pink laptop and the sky, respectively. Also, why are airplanes and dinosaurs for boys and not girls? Many girls ride in AND fly airplanes. Amelia Earhart, anyone? (Ok, maybe she is a bad example.) And I happen to know from watching Jurassic Park that there were DEFINATELY girl dinosaurs. So, what’s the deal?

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Also, I did LOOK in the ‘Toddler Girls’ section for airplanes. I found two shirts on clearance for $2.25 each, but no airplane pajamas.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,527.96

Balloon Fetish.

Babystar looooves balloons. She wants to talk about them, find them in books, point to them, talk about them again, and then talk about them some MORE.

We bought her a balloon just before Halloween and it lasted a few weeks.

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We got another balloon on a random adventure to the National Harbor. It lasted one day. The balloon was free but parking was $10. Because I lost my parking ticket. Also, no matter what Siri or the Internet says, there is no Children’s Museum at National Harbor. Thanks goodness someone was passing out balloons that day.

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We bought another balloon last week ($6.28) because it is a freaking SQUIRREL balloon and even I am excited about that kind of ridiculousness. (Yes, I know I need a life. Shhhh.) Luckily, the squirrel balloon is still hanging in there. She kisses that thing good night. I’m worried about their future, though. She’s so young to have to experience such heartbreak, but I’m afraid it’s unavoidable.

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But OH EM EFFING GEE, none of these compare to how excited she gets when she sees the Apple 7 commercial.

So. My baby is a Balloon Addict. Can anyone tell me how to make youtube play on a loop? I am tired of pushing play every one minute and seven seconds. Y’all have seen the long version right? The director’s cut? Babystar blows kisses to the screen when the song says I love you, I love you, I love you. And so I die. And push the damn play button on my iPad again. Damn you, Apple.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,282.74