Storing the STUFF.

Where does it all come from? I am writing a blog about literally all of the stuff we buy for this baby and I STILL DON’T KNOW where it all comes from!!

Ok, some of this stuff was given to us (and we are very grateful), but that alone cannot possibly explain what is happening here.

For the first time since we moved into this townhouse nine years ago, we have had to rent a storage unit nearby to help store all of our crap. Yes, it’s all mostly crap. And it is definitely not worth the cost of the storage unit. But it IS cheaper than marriage counseling.

I’m joking.

No, I’m not.


Due largely in part to some very good things — my son moving back home and going back to school nearby but of course needing some closet space of his own, my oldest daughter going away to school and packing up a bunch of her things in boxes that we have to put somewhere, being lucky enough to have a little surprise Babystar but needing to pack up a lot of breakables that were previously stored all around the house — we ran out of room in our not-that-big townhouse.

I blame the baby. We were always able to make room before, but now we have to be really careful where we put things. Plus she needs a room (even though no she doesn’t because she sleeps with me). Plus she has way more stuff than the rest of us (and it’s all sticky).

Example: Her things take up FULLY HALF of our already-small townhouse patio, and she is only 1/5 of our family. Size-wise, she is only like 1/20.


I don’t even want to talk about our living room.

So, yeah. The cost of the storage unit is ALL ON HER.

I paid $35 to open the unit, and it will be $127 per month. (I actually did this last month so I already paid $127 for June.) Going forward, I’ll add the recurring charge to her monthly food posts. Baby costs MONEY, y’all.

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Does anyone else live in a tiny house with a tiny person? How do you do it? Where do you put everything?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $19,311.45

 

 

 

All About that Basement.

Like everyone else on the planet, I’ve decided that 2017 is the year that I GET ORGANIZED.

Unlike everyone else on the planet, I have a lion living in my basement (and baby it’s ready to ROAR.)


In order to make room for my oldest chicken coming home to roost, I have been spending a lot of time cleaning out the basement and pantry and all of the closets.

I have paid the teenager $50 (in segments) to occupy Miss Babystar so I could have some uninterrupted time to sort through all of the valuable and necessary items crap.

I also paid College Boy $30 to occupy Babystar while I continued cleaning out closets. He needs SOMEWHERE to put the all of the stuff that we just drove here from Florida.

I babysat my younger sister and brother so much when I was growing up, and I definitely resented them for a long time because of it. I’m over it now, but I still tend to mother them. (They would probably appreciate it if I would stop. Nope.)

The Teenager and College Boy adore their little sister, and they play with her all the time. HOWEVER, when I ask them to occupy her for however many hours while I either work on something at home (or shower), or get out alone with my husband (rare, but it does occasionally happen), I pay them our area’s going rate of $10/hour. I think it keeps them from resenting her (they play with her plenty on their own), and it definitely keeps me from taking advantage of them (because that is expensive, yo, and I don’t have a job).

We HAVE actually gone out to two (!!!) concerts recently and it cost us $190 in combined babysitting so we clearly need to find shorter concerts that are closer to home.

MAYDAY MAYDAY: I really want to know. What is the going rate for babysitting where you live? (I pay my kids at the lower end, actually, but I deserve a small discount for BIRTHING THEM.) Do you pay your older children to babysit your younger ones (if you have that type of situation)? Did you babysit siblings in your youth? Did your parents pay you (mine did NOT)?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $19,149.45

 

Another Food Post.

I dread these necessary-for-accuracy-but-totally-boring food posts.

The following is a list of food purchased specifically for the ToddlerMonster in June. She does eat OTHER food. In fact, the following is mostly a list of foods offered to and refused by the ToddlerMonster. (Except the fish. We don’t buy extra steak or chicken for her but we buy extra fish because she eats so much fish.)

  • penguin crackers $1.49, $1.49, $1.49
  • frozen pizza $2.29, $3.79
  • frozen french fries $1.89
  • blueberries $1.79, $1.79, $4.99, $3.99, $3.79
  • string cheese $1.79, $1.79
  • strawberries $1.29, $1.29 (Aldi price!!)
  • freeze dried strawberries $1.29
  • freeze dried bananas $1.29
  • oatmeal cereal bar cookies $1.49, $1.49
  • organic rainbow baby carrots $1.69
  • animal cookies $1.29
  • pineapple bits $0.89
  • m&m’s $1
  • peaches $2.98
  • melon slices $2.99
  • bananas $1.74, $1.48, $0.87
  • apples $3.99, $4.99
  • Trader Joe’s mac & cheese $2.99, $2.99, $2.99
  • Trader Joe’s apple bars $1.99, $1.99
  • Trader Joe’s blueberry bars $1.99
  • Trader Joe’s strawberry bars $1.99
  • SO MANY POPSICLES $4.69, $469, $4.69, $4.69
  • eggs $4.99
  • salmon $8
  • sea bass $6
  • Caesar salad $4.99
  • Kid’s pasta at Busboys and Poets $6
  • side of fries at Busboys and Poets $5
  • Angelico Pizzeria cheese slice $3, $3, $3
  • Chik-fil-A kids meal $3.39, $3.75, $3.39
  • Kid’s chicken and fries at Boardwalk Fries $4.99
  • french fries at Five Guys $4.19
  • kids meal at McDonalds $2.99, $2.99
  • spring rolls at T.H.A.I. $5.99
  • spring rolls and fried rice at Peter Changs $2.50
  • Robek’s smoothie $4.99, $4.99, $4.99
  • kleenex in a Moana box $1.99*


Not on the list because it is free: mama’s milk.

I have no idea what is up with this new nursing all day, erry day thing that she has going on now. Maybe she’s trying to kick it retro?

Babystar was basically day-weaned, and then the two year molars showed up and everything changed. She wants milk ALL OF THE TIME. I was using the ‘don’t ask, don’t offer’ method of gentle weaning, but apparently just my existence in the world is a reminder that I have milk. And that she wants the milk nownownow.

MAYDAY MAYDAY: To those of you out there that successfully weaned a toddler with little to no tears, HOW did you do it? I have exactly zero ideas. I have googled. I have asked friends. I have googled some more. I have asked the doctor. I got nothing. Please help.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,852.64

*Yes, I know that this isn’t food but it was purchased at the grocery store and once she saw it, she HAD TO HAVE IT, and we didn’t feel like fighting that particular battle. Kleenex is at least useful. It could have been, like, Moana paper plates or something else that we really don’t use at home.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Couch Runneth Over.

Babystar’s friends are taking over the place. We started sitting them on the couch back when there were only a few stuffed creatures, but as all parents know, those babies MULTIPLY. I think they are going to have to be relocated — but to where? Her bedroom is completely on trend with the new tiny house movement, but those tiny houses aren’t meant to house twenty six individuals including a family of bears.


We did purchase some of these — but most are gifts. Plus every time the Teenager visits her grandparent’s attic in Florida she brings back more of her old Care Bears for her little sister. Which is completely sweet and adorable but also STAAAAAHP.

In spite of our overcrowding problem, I just let Babystar bring home ANOTHER FRIEND from Target. We already lived with the Demigod of the Wind and Sea, so we needed Moana of Motunui ($8.99) to bring a little estrogen to Babystar’s boat.

PS: her boat is a salad bowl.


RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,099.13

Bouncing Baby Girl.

Twice last month we went to Dynamic Gymnastics Open Gym for little ones ages 0-5. If you are in the Northern Virginia area, definitely check it out. The first time we went, my two girls and I had the entire gym to ourselves. (The second time we invited some friends.)

​​

 

The Teenager has been a gymnast for years, and she’s lobbying for me to put Babystar in gymnastic classes. I’m not ready for that kind of commitment, so Open Gym is a great compromise. Babystar gets to play on the cool equipment and bounce around at her own pace. Plus she loves watching her big sister do ‘cool tricks.’

The 0-5 Open Gym at Dynamic Gymnastics is every Monday and Wednesday from noon to 1pm, $10 per kid.

We also paid another $120 to continue our membership at Nook and bought a 3-visit pass to Busy Bees for $36 plus a $15 2-for-1 deal at Busy Bees with a friend.


There are millions of playgrounds in the area and Babystar really does adore the parks. But I think the indoor play spaces are a nice change for both of us. Not all playgrounds have fences. And all playgrounds have at least one tempting but highly dangerous for a not-quite-two-year-old feature. And that highly dangerous but superfine feature is always Babystar’s most favorite thing. Every. Single. Time. So playing indoors is much more relaxing for ME. And I’m the boss, applesauce.

Parents, where do you stand on free parks versus pricey indoor play spaces?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,068.65

Baby’s Gotta Eat.

I have no idea how to make these posts more interesting. 

Once again, I fed the baby. A+ parenting, I know.

  • Trader Joe’s Mac & cheese $2.99, $2.99, $2.99
  • Trader Joe’s Apple bars $1.99, $1.99
  • TJ’s Blueberry bars $1.99
  • Multigrain Cheerios $5.49
  • Eggs $3.99
  • Salmon $4.00
  • Mahimahi $3.00
  • Ice cream minis $1.49, $1.49, $1.49
  • Cookies (she wanted them but I ate them whoops) $2.89
  • Blueberries $2.99, $2.99, $2.99, $2.99, $3.99, $2.99
  • Strawberries $1.50, $3.00
  • Pineapple $2.99, $1.86
  • Bananas $1.11
  • Watermelon $4.99
  • TJ’s French fries $2.99
  • Robek’s small smoothie $4.99, $4.99
  • Starbucks fruit cup $2.99
  • Chick-fil-A kids meal $3.75, $3.75, $3.25, $3.25
  • Wendy’s French fries $1.00
  • m&m’s $0.99

MAYDAY MAYDAY: How do I get my toddler to eat vegetables? I put them on her plate all the time. Sometimes she takes a bite or two. But not often. I am trying to remember the whole ‘my job is to offer the food and her job is to eat it’ thing. She loved Brussels sprouts red pepper and spinich purees as a baby. What gives??

Have I broken the baby somehow?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,877.65

It’s Calling Meeeeeeee.

Babystar sings over and over: it’s calling me, it’s caaaaallling meeeeee.

Have you seen Moana yet? Have you seen Moana one hundred times? I have, and I’m not even mad.

This movie is everything. I feel so lucky that Babystar stumbled onto this film as her I-need-to-watch-it-all-the-time-let’s-watch-it-again-again-again movie. Every toddler has one. And for over a full year it was Frozen, right? My niece was obsessed with Frozen. Who wasn’t? (My nephew is currently obsessed with Zootopia. It’s very good, but I need more singing in my cartoon movies if I am to watch them twenty million times.)

We were all so proud of Disney for making Frozen, a movie with no romantic happy ending (except it sort of did have one with Anna and Kristoff).

We were all so excited about how FEMINIST is was that the princess saved herself. Or at least, her sister saved her.

And the songs, while a bit too EVERYWHERE, were indeed amazing. I still love them. And Idina Menzel. Yes, please!

SO I CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHY MOANA IS NOT MORE POPULAR!

Is it because she’s not white? Please tell me that it is not because she is not a snow white girl from the snow white north. Please. It’s not, right? Ok. Moving along.

I’m going to pretend that no one saw Moana (ok I realize that a LOT of people saw Moana but only like half as many as Frozen and I have never heard any of the songs unless I played them) because we were all terrified that it was full of Cultural Appropriation. We were all erring on the side of caution. Disney has a pretty bad track record with that kind of thing (*cough*Song of the South*cough*).

We were all wrong. Instead, they actually did a lot of research and had a lot of consultants making sure they ‘got it right.’ So you CAN teach an old mouse new tricks. (SPOILER ALERT) Moana is a movie about a ‘daughter of the chief’ who saves the world. She doesn’t do it for love of a man but for love of her island and her people. There is literally no boy-girl love story in the movie. NONE. It is incredibly refreshing.

See the light where the sky meets the sea, it calls me.

We finally have a capital-F-Feminist Disney ‘princess’ role model and I for one am so excited. Moana does not need saving at all, but the world does, and Moana T-C-bloody-B-ed.

If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me, one day I’ll know how far I’ll go.

AND OH YEAH THE SONGS.

You guys, the score was written by Lin-FREAKING-Manuel Miranda. Did you know that? HOW DID IT LOSE THE OSCAR FOR BEST SONG? How!? But whatever about the Oscars, how is our Hamilton-obsessed society not belting out these songs in unison a la ‘Let it Go’??? There is not a bad song in the movie. I’m a big fan of ‘Shiny’ sung by my boyfriend Jemaine Clement. My older kids love both the opening number and Maui’s song ‘You’re Welcome’. Babystar loves when Moana sings about things that call her. THEY. ARE. ALL. SO. GOOD.

And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me.

Moana is on Netflix month so get excited. 

You’re welcome.

Babystar was having a rough go of teething a few weeks ago so we surprised her with Maui to help her feel better ($8.99). She loves chewing on his hook.
 


RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,776.28

 

 

I Can’t Drive 95.

Actually, I can. I DID drive SO FAR down Interstate 95 and then back all in about a week, with a few days of visiting family squished in between.

For those of you following along in your hymnals (Instagram), you know that I drove to Florida last week.

Here are a few facts that you might not know about me.

  1. I hate Florida. (I know. I’m like the only one. I love the beach. I like sunshine. I even like armadillos. But I freaking hate Florida and I don’t know why. I like people in Florida. I like places in Florida. I love oranges. But I get all itchy in that state and it’s only partially to do with all the bugs.)
  2. I hate road trips. (I fantasize about driving across country in a VW camper van or up the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible. But, to me, interstate highway driving is hell. I’m pretty sure if I am ever assigned to my own specific hell, it will be an eternal I-95. For those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar with I-95, imagine a highway stretched to forever with sporadic surprise traffic and the only thing to look at are trees and billboards for either strip clubs or churches or fireworks or the less-racist-than-when-I-was-a-kid but still sketchy South of the Border, which is a themed motel on the border between North and South Carolina with a giant sombrero for a symbol and a cartoon named Pedro as a mascot. You feel me?)
  3. I love thunderstorms. (Florida did not disappoint. One entire day of my three day visit was spent stuck inside my parent’s house watching the rain pour out of the sky as it only can in Florida. Babystar was also fascinated so this is perhaps an inherited trait. But we were still stuck inside the house. So.)

The reason I drove to Florida instead of flying was wonderful (to me). My sweet firstborn son decided to move in and go to a local college so he will be here for at least a year. We needed to pick up some of his things. Yay for having my son around! Yay for my child making fiscally smart decisions! Yay for cleaning out a room for him! (Ok — two out of three, I guess.)

Babystar was along for the ride and she was an EXCELLENT PATIENT OMG WONDERFUL passenger. She had an older sister or brother riding next to her at all times, which helped immensely. I dropped off the Teenager in Florida with her dad for a longer visit, so Big Brother had to ride in the back next to the baby the entire way home. He deserves some type of award, but all I got him was some crap McDonald’s french fries.

SPEAKING OF McDONALD’S: I am obsessed with their french fries. I find it odd and kind of gross and suspicious that they are not vegetarian, but I love them anyway. I craved them when pregnant with Babystar, although I normally stay out of McDonald’s. HOWEVER, their kid’s meals are on point. For $2.99*, you get a burger or nuggets (which I eat for even more savings becuase Babystar is not that interested in meat), a very small (in a good way) sleeve of fries, AND your choice of (PEELED!) apple slices or yogurt. And a toy! Right now they are handing out cute mini stuffed animals and Babystar happily played with them for almost an hour combined. (THAT IS LIKE TWO YEARS IN TODDLER TIME.) All of the other fast food joints make you choose fries or a healthy choice but McDonald’s knows what is up and gives both. Because what kid will be happy without fries? (I know, probably lots of perfect babies have never had french fries but Babystar is not at all perfect. Homegirl looooves french fries.)

We had a lot of fun in Florida. I drove over an hour with two toddlers (my nephew is three and my sister is in fancy Aveda Insitute school) to Bay & Bee, which I ADORE. When I visited Florida last March, my sister and I took three toddlers there and everyone’s first visit was free! Amazing. They recently sent us both an email offer for a free drop-in class. Woot! So I used that to go play again for free. I have given these people zero dollars. (Well, that’s not true. I made my firstborn drive there last year for the Tula Coast Shine because they happened to stock on a day he was already flying to visit and I love that thing!) But I have given them zero dollars for the kids to play in their awesome Montessori/Waldorf inspired play room for a combined six hours and I really think they should charge me next time. But it’s totally cool if they don’t. I tried to get the toddlers excited about the Spanish Language Story Time class offered that afternoon, but they just wanted to play. Fair enough.


Bay & Bee is sort of like our beloved Nook in Arlington, but on steroids. The play space is much bigger, yet it still manages to feel calm even with twenty Tinys running around everywhere. There are so many great toys to discover, and there is even a giant freaking Cedarworks play stucture in the middle of the playspace, yet it does not feel crowded AT ALL. I understand that real estate in Florida costs less than in Arlington, Virginia, but I am still totally jelly of the mamas that get to chill there on the reg. (And membership is less expensive than my beloved Nook, and I get it, but ugh don’t talk about it.) They also have a retail shop with all of my favorite crunchy toy and feeding and teething brands AND baby carriers that you can try on and then so many more in stock for sale. OMG, y’all. If you visit Jacksonville, Florida with a toddler or a crawler or a baby in your belly, go there.

Also do yourself a favor and check out Moon Babies in Fleming Island. QUICK WARNING: if you click on that link, their webiste will come up and start playing kid’s music. So maybe don’t do it if you are reading this next to a sleeping baby. Or if you hate kid’s music. However, the children’s resale shop is totally worth a visit. I bought eight pairs of skorts and shorts one pair of pajamas for Babystar for $31.57 with tax. She is totally set for summer and they are way cute. I found two pairs of shorts with pockets so maybe she will stop putting toys and crayons ‘in her pockets’ but really down her pants. (Toddler logic, y’all.) Plus recycling!


We also visited Clarke House Park in Orange Park. I had to google the name of that playground, because we always just called it the ‘Castle Park.’ The playground looks like a castle. It was built back in the 1990’s, so it was practically brand new when my two (now officially technically omg!!) adult children were babies. We had many fun afternoons and birthday parties at the Castle Park, though it’s showing it’s age a little. The Teenager and I took the toddlers there last week on the Teenager’s eighteenth birthday. It was coincidental but still quite poignant but I managed not to cry about it so good job me.


I would have driven down to pick up College Boy’s things whether Babystar existed in this world or not, so the gas and road snacks are not on her tab. BUT. We had to break up the trip in both directions because sweet Babystar has the patience and attention span of a toddler (shocking, I know), so we took two days to drive each direction. I would not have done that if not for her. So I have to add $121.30 and $145.95 to her tally. I packed a small cooler with fruit and chicken and let her just share from our three plates when we stopped for dinner the first night mainly because I didn’t want to keep track of her food costs on the way down. Talk about a lazy blogger.

I did eventually buy her some food and diapers during the trip. YOU GUYS MY BABY IS NOW IN SIZE 5 DIAPERS. She leaked through her diapers on the way down and I thought it was becuase I was a terrible mommy and I wasn’t changing her enough. Nope. She is ready for SIZE 5. That is the LAST SIZE in some brands of diapers. (I have noticed a Size 6 in others.) And she’s talking about pottys. Crap (literally). I hate potty training.

  • watermelon $4.25
  • mandarin oranges $4.99
  • Seventh Generation diapers $7.99
  • Publix brand diapers $7.99
  • McDonald’s kids meal $2.99
  • Chick-fil-A grilled cheese with fruit kids meal + small fries $3.48
  • Texas Roudhouse kids meal $1.99 on Kid’s Night
  • Chick-fil-A kids meal $3.25
  • blueberries $2.79
  • bananas $0.89
  • generic multigrain O’s $1.79
  • Aldi Penguin ‘goldfish’ crackers $1.49
  • Aldi Little Journey diapers $4.99
  • Aldi Little Journey wipes $3.49 for a 3-pack
  • McDonald’s kids meal $2.99
  • McDonald’s kids meal $3.68 (*The one at exit 97 in NC only offers one side so I had to pay extra to get fries AND apples. Bruh.)

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Does anyone have any potty training tips? It’s been so long and all I remember is that I did not enjoy it at all and there was a lot of bribery and power struggles involved. I really want to avoid all of that this go round. What worked for you?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,767.29

 

 

 

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