Patio Paradise.

Babystar was the big winner on Mother’s Day.

I had previously paid a local landscaper/handyman/general awesome guy $100 to clear the weeds (SO MANY WEEDS) and put down some mulch. My son and I tried to do it ourselves but after the fifth giant spider tried to murder us, we had to retreat. We had no choice.

Before Babystar, I always kept on top of the ‘gardening’. Gardening is in quotes because we live in a townhouse and the patio is not that big, but I still always grew herbs and sometimes even tomatoes and peppers and lettuce and chard. And I pulled the weeds on the regular.  I haven’t been able to do it the last two years because Babystar did not want to hang out with me outside. (Now she loves it!) So I guess the $100 is all her.

Mother’s Day was thankfully gorgeous and we did in fact make the patio an awesome place to be. I have flowers and herbs and even some tomato plants (though not as many as pre-baby). We also now have a Step2 Happy Home Cottage & Grill ($189.99) and Duck Pond Water Table ($34.99), along with a small plastic Babystar-sized chair ($7.99) for inside the playhouse and some plastic Little Tikes food ($14.99) for the faux-grill. 



I am looking forward to many hours of fun and relaxation on the patio verandah, dahling.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,409.43

 

 

 

New Clothes. And Old New Clothes.

New Clothes: I bought Babystar a ‘Wild Feminist’ tee during Feminist Apparel’s 25% off sale recently. (I bought a few for me and a few for my oldest daughter but figured that Babystar needed at least one. I’m a sucker. I know. $22.47 after the discount.)

 

More New Clothes: I also bought her the coolest pink sunhat from Costco that supposedly will last for years if she doesn’t lose it. (Spoiler alert: She or I will lose it.) The hat fits children ages 3-10 according to the tag. Babystar must have a big head because it fits now, but it is adjustable. $7.99.

 

Old New Clothes: While my almost-adult goddess child was getting ready for prom, Babystar went into her dresser and chose her own ‘pretty dress’ to wear. As I removed the tags for her, I realized that 1) she had clearly never worn this dress and 2) I had not added it to the blog. I bought the dress at Costco back in February for $12.99 intending it to be her Easter dress. But then my MIL bought her a cute tutu dress with a bunny on it to wear on Easter instead, and I forgot about this one. It is ADORABLE and I think she may wear it every day now. She’s on kind of a dress kick lately. 


(And MY GOD will you look at that beautiful Prom Goddess and her stunning gown!?)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,061.57

 

Baby’s First Pedicure.

I was well into my twenties before I ever had a pedicure. I mean, I painted my toenails myself of course, but the whole pay-someone-to-rub-my-feet thing came late for me. I guess I was sheltered. (Or more like broke.)

Pedicures are now one of my favorite things in life; Babystar always notices my ‘pretty toes’ and they are usually painted blue.

My oldest daughter was seven when she had her first pedicure. She was at the beauty salon with me and my friends while we were getting ready for my wedding, and she got a mini-pedicure and clear polish.

Because there is a giant age gap between my children, Babystar is along for the ride on a lot of big girl adventures. In the tradition of tagging along for special occasions, Babystar came with me and her big sister to get pedicures last Thursday. Big Sister had prom on Friday.

She sat on my lap during our pedicures and played with the buttons on the massage remote, making some very interesting patterns on my back. The lovely lady that always does my pedicures gave Babystar a little leg lotion and Babystar was fascinated. Which is super weird, because my wiggly toddler usually cannot stand for me to put any type of lotion (or SUNSCREEN) on her little body. She was so excited and proud to be with us, so when she said ‘I blue toes too,’ I agreed. My sweet little still-one-year-old baby held so still while getting her toenails painted blue. And she is so very proud to show everyone her blue toes like mama.


What do you think? Too young? Or ok since it was for a special occasion? Or totally fine and no special occasion needed? My little monster loves snakes and bugs and pretty dresses and stars and rocks and dinosaurs and ponies. But she mostly loves whatever Big Sister and Mama are doing.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17.018.12

Oh HEY, RVA!

Last weekend or the one before or next weekend (because they are all running together now), we voyaged down to Richmond, Virgina, so that Miss Teen USA could visit the city in which she has chosen to spend the next four years.

(Real quick Mom brag: a particular school in Richmond gave my Smarty Pants Sweetheart a 28K scholarship!! Woo!!)

So we went down to check out the vibe, find the dorms, figure out where she will get her pizza, etc. Most of the trip was Teen-focused, but Babystar was along for the ride. She was such a little trooper, but we still snuck in a few activities just for her.

We stayed overnight but had to get a hotel near the airport. When we got to campus, we figured out why. All of the parents/guardians/whatevers were there picking up their kids/siblings/whatevers, because it was unofficial ‘move-out weekend.’ It also rained all of Saturday, so we drove around campus and then hit up Target to buy bathing suits since the hotel had an indoor pool and the SMARTY PANTS TEENAGER was the only one of us smart enough to pack a swimsuit.

Babystar needed another one anyway, and we got a cute once piece watermelon suit that she loves. She LOVES watermelon. And when she says ‘watermelon’, her tongue comes out of the side of her mouth and it’s my favorite thing. We also bought a swim diaper which is also fine because she needed another swim diaper for this summer. ($11.99, $9.99.)

 

We went to Target for the bathing suits (of course!) and also bought a pack of diapers, $4.99.

Babystar also got a shirt from the college bookstore ($21.99), a plastic snake and a gigantic hershey bar from Cracker Barrel (we let her pick out her own treat but I only gave her a small medium bit of the chocolate). ($3.99, $1.99.)


Yeah, so there was a Cracker Barrel by the hotel. Side note: I despise Cracker Barrel because they are always there on I-95 welcoming buses and luring my older two (when they were a bit younger) with their toy store lobby and giant checkerboards. But the service is inevitably slow and the food is whatever. However, I had lots of time and we needed to find a place that wouldn’t glare at the ToddlerMonster AND we let the Teenager pick so there we were. Twice. I wasn’t even mad. Babystar’s food was $3.19 (mac & cheese and apples), $2.79 (fries), and $2.79 (apples and she shared all the rest of our food). Plus tax and tip we spent about $13 on her two Cracker Barrel meals. We also hit up a Chick-fil-A (NOT ON SUNDAY THO) for $3.19.

And Insomnia Cookies, that was having a 5 for $5 sale. She ate almost an entire $1 cookie.

Before heading north on the dreaded I-95, we took Babystar to see some nature at Maymont Park in Richmond. It was raining so we only visited the Nature Center. Babystar was technically free (under two) but we were only there so she could commune with the turtles and get some wiggles out, so our collective $12 admission all goes on her tab.


Is tab the right word? It’s not like I’m giving her a bill when she’s all grown up. OR AM I?

Tally? Count? Ledger? I don’t know. Her number. Her very giant skyrocketing number.

 

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17,008.12

 

Clean Mama: the Greatest Gift of All!

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I had a wonderful day which included an uninterrupted shower. I’m not saying that was my favorite part, but it might have been my favorite part.

(Ok, just kidding. I get to take uninterrupted showers at least once a week per my sentencing guidelines. Um, I mean, because my two older children are wonderful creatures that will distract Miss Babystar for twenty minutes so that I can wash my hair.)

While in the shower, I realized that I never added the Arbonne ABC Baby Soap to this list.

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DON’T WORRY I’M NOT GOING TO TRY TO SELL YOU ANYTHING.

I know, I know, some people freak out and run screaming (or scrolling since we are all online here) when mamas say ‘Arbonne’ or ‘Lularoe’ or ‘DoTerra’ or ‘Shakeology’ or so many other trigger words. Those poor hustling mamas are just trying to do their thing. Even if their thing is sometimes annoying. You know what else is annoying? The fact that Target emails me every single day about SOMETHING and their Cartwheel app is stupid and difficult to use. But I still love Target and I still love my #momboss friends.

Ahem. Fun(ny) fact: I accidentally became an Arbonne consultant.

Yep. I ordered shampoo and conditioner and body wash and hand lotion and mascara (PS the Arbonne mascara is crap) from a friend at a party and then offered to HOST a party for her. Then, at MY party, my teenager wanted to try the entire freaking skin care line so I ordered a bunch more stuff for her. And me. And I ordered the baby soap for Babystar. In the weird pyramid scheme math, if I paid twenty bucks or something, I could get a save even more money and get a free thing AND get 35% off of my purchased for a whole year so DUH. Of course I did it. I did not realize what was going down* until our products arrived along with a box of ten catalogs and some cool samples (yay!) and a Welcome New Consultant folder. Whoops.

*I am sure my friend explained it to me but it was the end of the night and I had several glasses of prosecco.

I don’t even know how much it cost because I paid money for a discount (does that even make sense?) and I had to spend a minimum amount to get some ‘free’ stuff so I’m just going with the basic retail price which is $21.

Babystar still prefers to EAT the Honest Creamsicle** Soap. But she likes the Arbonne ABC soap because it barely lathers. Babystar hates bubbles. Well, she LOVES bubbles outside with a bubble wand that she drips all over and gets herself all sticky so that she needs a bath. She DESPISES any bubbles in said bath. She gets all mad at them and tries to pop them all saying, ‘no bubbles, no bubbles, no bubbles.’ Like she’s on some Baby Bathtime version of Press Your Luck.

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**It’s actually called Orange-Vanilla-Something but it’s basically a Creamsicle.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,923.99

April Showers Bring May Hem.

Or something like that, right?

Are you interested in a peek behind the blogging curtain? I usually post about things purchased for Babystar about a week (or two) after we’ve actually purchased said things.  I keep a running list on a Note on my beloved iPhone so that I don’t forget anything. (Well, three lists. One for food and one upcoming holidays and one for everything else.) On Sunday mornings, my darling pious Husband takes Babystar to play in the church nursery while I drink coffee in bed with my laptop. I look at the Notepad, figure out groupings that make sense, write a post or three, and schedule them to post throughout the following week.

Easy peasy, right?

Somehow, April did not go so smoothly. There is even an EXTRA Sunday in April; that’s right, this was a five Sunday month. And I still somehow lost most of those precious mornings to a sick baby or a bunny holiday or something else understandable but STILL.

I did not, however, forget to buy things for the baby. In the interest of accuracy and my sanity, I’m going to simply copy and paste. I’ll add explainations/information/sarcasm in blue. (TBH sarcasm comes in all colors here.) And then do some math, I suppose.

Airplane ticket subsidize $120 Babystar and I flew to Myrtle Beach for four days visiting Grammy and Grampy (the in-laws). My lovely MIL (over)paid for the ticket but we upgraded to first class so $120 was out of our bank account. Worth it.

Suitcase 39.99 omg y’all it has stars and she LOVES it

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Water at CLT 3.19 I accidentally put her sippy cup in the checked bag and had to buy a sports bottle-type water bottle at our connection. How do you teach a kid to drink from a regular water bottle? Please advise.

Nook $120 We re-nooked. That place is the bomb dot com.

Target diapers $4.99 x 10 ok, ok, I KNOW, but April was really hard, ok? I did not need diaper laundry on top of everything else. I know I COULD have done it but I really didn’t want to. Mea culpa, Mother Earth.

Chew Tylenol 5.95 She hates these btw.

Liquid Motrin 6.39 She was sick with a high fever for several days after Myrtle Beach. See? April was HARD.

Chew ibuprofen 3.94 She hates these too.

Infant Tylenol $6.99 She hates this too, but can be tricked. Poor baby.

Moana 12.99 We have already watched it, NO JOKE, over twenty times. Don’t tell anyone but I also love it. Babystar signs ‘help’ and says ‘help turtle’ at the beginning when Moana helps the turtle. And she says ‘uh-oh heart’ many times throughout the movie but I don’t want to spoil it for you. But if you have seen it, Babystar slays my heart EVERY TIME because she calls Te Fiti ‘mama’ and I die. Every single time.

$10 bees 2.65 socks Busy Bees is only $10 if you come after 4. Also I was wearing my Birks (#hippiemama) and didn’t have socks in the bag (even though I almost ALWAYS have a spare pair just in case) so I had to buy some. They are super fancy.

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Safety latch 4.31 I bought a pack of latches. Again. I still have not installed a single one. But I did move all of the glass to the top cabinets. So, you know, progress.

Cat and jack rocket shirt 4.50 It’s adorable and she loves it.

Bloom wipes 7.99 The Water Wipes are a big NOPE. Sadly. We are trying some others.

Target wipes 4.39 Cheap but I opened the Bloom ones first so I don’t know how well they work. I’ll let you know the verdict on wipes soon. Pinky swear.

Cat and Jack shirts $4 x2 A dinosaur one that she picked and the infamous ‘strong like mom’ because i’m so #basic.

Also here’s the April food and now I’m REALLY caught up. Babystar ate and GREW so much this month. 

  • frozen pizza $3 x3
  • sea bass $7.50 x2 (she fancy)
  • strawberries $4.49, 3.99
  • watermelon $2.48, 4.54, 3.49, 6.99
  • clementines $2.99, 3.99, 2.99, 2.99, 2.99 (she’s addicted yo)
  • bag of apples $3.99, 6.99, 3.99
  • ice cream cup $1.49 x3
  • carrots $1.49
  • frozen waffles $3.59
  • cheerios $1.97
  • blueberries $3.59 x3
  • string cheese $4.99
  • chocolate chip cookies with m&m’s $2.99 (one at a time, usually, shhhhhh)
  • organic eggs $5.49
  • ice cream mini cup $1.29
  • popsicles $4.99 (did I mention she is also teething?)
  • $3 slice of cheese pizza next door to Nook x5 (so convenient)
  • Chick-fil-A 4-piece nugget meal $3.75 x4
  • Burger King kid’s meal (I told you it was a hard month) $4.89
  • McDonald’s kid’s meal (props to them for giving TINY fries AND sliced apples) $2.99
  • Harris Teeter salad bar lunch, mostly fruit $2.28
  • T.G.I.Friday’s pasta kids meal plus tip about $9
  • Longhorn mac & cheese kids meal plus tip about $8

Oh, and we went to Rise + Rhyme which is a cool local kid’s concert with a $5 cover charge that serves full breakfast. The coffee (it’s at 9:30AM what!) and breakfast that I shared was $24.25 with tip. (I gave her ALL of my pineapple and blueberries but kept most of the sweet potato pancakes for myself. April was HARD Y’ALL.) It all goes on her tab though, because I would not have gone to see Culture Queen without Babystar. Even though I love her and yes, we ARE all towers of royal power. She has no idea how much I needed that song that morning. I love you, Culture Queen.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,902.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Hop to It.

The Easter Bunny gets all the credit for hiding baskets on Easter morning, yet he (or she) always takes the money out of my bank account. So rude. Who keeps giving that rabbit my pin number?

 

There was BARELY any chocolate in that basket. Well, maybe a little more than that. Babystar ate all of it (except the bigger chocolate bunny which I hid and I hope she forgot about but she’s very smart about her chocolate so maybe not). She was like Cookie Monster, but with chocolate. Like Winnie the Pooh with his honey, but chocolate. Like Voldemort likes killing muggles, but with chocolate.

  • chocolate, about $4 worth, including a few small individually wrapped bunnies and kisses and a $1 Russel Stover bunny and a “carrot” full of m&m’s
  • Crayola egg crayons $10.59
  • Crayola 64 box of crayons $2.99
  • Crayola paint pens (BOGO but I put one directly into the craft closet) $4.99
  • stuffed yellow crayon $10.55
  • Re-play ‘big girl cups’ (7) $17.50
  • three pairs of sunglasses (two are hearts because I lost her faves which were $5.99 but I never listed them here whoops I’m doing it now) $16.97
  • flowers for planting in a cute egg carton $3
  • fairy doll $14.99
  • light up wand and ball (I bought these long ago and gave her one already) $3
  • Dr. Suess ABC board book $3.34
  • Oliver Jeffers ABC board book $6.85
  • easter socks $2.50
  • Goodnight Moon board book $4.99
  • cloth basket $3
  • fake grass $1

I also was going to add the Re-play forks and spoons to her basket but they wouldn’t fit. So they are just in the kitchen drawer. $12.

We bought $3 worth of plastic eggs for an egg hunt. And then bought stickers and small rubber stamps to fill them for $38.12. This baby is expensive. I should have just bought more chocolate.

And of course there was the requisite easter balloon ($3.50) which popped in the parking lot so we had to go in and get another ($3.50).

Oh, and she fell in love with a stuffed bunny while we were at the bookstore. It didn’t go in her easter basket but I’ll talk about it here. She was obsessed. Still is, in fact. She slept with the bunny last night and she NEVER sleeps with stuffed animals. ($12.99)

And we are dying eggs tonight, with my 3.5 yo niece, to spread out the Easter celebrations. I bought four dozen eggs on sale for $2. (Please don’t make me think about the living conditions of those poor chickens with eggs that cheep cheap. I had to make an easter pun to stop thinking about it. Poor, poor chickens.) We also bought giant marshmallows to color. ($3.29 x2) I also bought a $2 Paas tie-dye egg coloring kit. And some canned whipped topping ($5) and neon food coloring ($5.49 RIP-OFF) to try a method that the teens and I did successfully with shaving cream when I was pregnant but we are concerned the Littles might lick their fingers. I already have a large amount of vinegar. We are ready! BRB gonna go dye some eggs, y’all.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,211.37

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taxes.

I have decided not to consider or ‘subtract’ the child tax credit because that is waaaay too much math. (Since it’s not a straight deduction from our tax bill — or is it? I don’t even understand it really.) Also, any tax credit credit IN NO WAY covers the cost of raising a child. And definitely not this privileged little middle-class Babystar in our privileged pocket of America. But mostly because we literally never get a tax return. We always always always have to pay. How much or how little depends on the year, but there is no refund headed our way.

So that is why. If you were wondering.

Also regarding taxes: Sometimes I add in the sales tax when adding up Babystar’s total and sometimes I don’t. Quite honestly, it really depends on how easy it is to add the tax to the total. I save receipts, and I have a giant list on my phone of what we purchase for Babystar. If it is an Abby’s Lane email receipt for a Babystar purchase, I’ll add the total including tax. If it is a Target receipt with a bunch of other non-Babystar items, I’m not adding the sales tax. (I am definitely not asking the cashier to ring Babystar’s items separately so I can be more accurate, like I would if this bloggy experiment were an actual job. But now that I type this, maybe I should. It would definitely make my receipt pile smaller and more accurate.)

Just if you were wondering.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,003.94

B. Ball. Balloon.

This post is brought to you by the Letter B.

We finally brought out the letter magnets that I’ve had tucked in the closet for over a year. I can no longer find my refrigerator. Babystar likes naming the letters now. Not all of them; she has favorites. And she is convinced that we have two ‘W’s.

 

Also, unrelated, Babystar fell in love with this rainbow ball at Micheal’s. I posted all about the crayons and stickers but forgot about this ball. And so did she, apparently, because it is currently under my seat in the van. $4.

And another balloon joined our family. Babystar asked for the ‘LELLOW STAR!’ at the Harris Teeter checkout line and then I almost died when I handed it to her and she very clearly said, ‘thank you, mama.’ But I recovered long enough to pay for it. $3.50.

We have also been to Busy Bees (more B’s!) twice lately with my darling niece, during 2-for-1 Tuesdays. $15.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,921.49