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

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

Toddler Art.

Ever since we started going to Nook in January, Babystar LOOOOVES to ‘do art’. One of my most very very favorite things about Nook is that the Toddler Art stayed on tables that were miles from my house. (Because it sure as hell didn’t stay on the paper.) But alas. No longer.

My craft closet used to be very grown up, but now all the fun dangerous needles and permanent markers and poisonous glues are on the high shelf (where I can’t even reach) and the closet is full of crayons and washable markers and finger paints and water colors and cool painting books and construction paper. And stickers. Oh em effing gee with the stickers.

Babystar loves them. I’ve mentioned the reusable ones I got at the Children’s Library in Richmond. We ordered more from Amazon ($x.xx) because she can actually ‘do stickers’ by herself, but only with the puffy set. I like having seven whole minutes to get ready to go out or cook an entire dinner or clean an entire room or whatever (I can do amazing things in seven minutes), so we needed more puffy sticker sets. They do eventually wear out. Especially the way she uses them which is to put ALL OF THE STICKERS on top of each other in a big pile. It’s hilarious. And ridiculous. Just like a toddler.

She also loves coloring, and will color with her crayons by herself at her little table for a giant chunk of time (like maybe NINE minutes). She has been telling me the names of the colors, and she is right about 61% of the time. (She nails yellow 100% because yellow is her bae.) It’s kind of amazing.

The regular stickers and the markers and stamps and the paint books and the water colors are all fully supervised activities at this point. I once got up to change the water in her water color cup and she was sucking on the paintbrush when I got back. So. Yeah.

I have not braved the finger paints yet. Some day. There is no return from that kind of madness.

However, I love arts and crafts so I’m excited that Babystar does too. I hope it sticks. The Teenager and I have so much fun doing cool arts and crafts so I am hoping that Babystar will still be into it when she’s old enough to up her game.

  • Jumbo crayons (her first pack got pretty broken at play dates) $2.99
  • 24-pack of smaller crayons (she prefers these anyway) $1.39
  • Kid’s paints $4.99
  • Variety pack of cheap brushes and sponges $4.99
  • inkpad and stamps (one is an airplane of course) $4
  • finger paint and pad $8.35
  • 21 more packs of $1 stickers from Micheals (with coupon) $16.80

(I still love Nook. In fact, we re-nooked our membership for another $120 recently. I’ll keep it up as long as she keeps going and keeps loving it. I’m headed there shortly. Plus they have some safe hippie nontoxic version of play-doh which Babystar loves and I WILL NOT buy play-doh for the house. HAHAHAHAHAH. Until I do, right?)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,829.48

Balloon Life.

Toddlers like balloons.

Toddlers love balloons.

Toddlers are obsessed with balloons.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t generalize. MY TODDLERMONSTER CAN NOT GET ENOUGH BALLOONS in her life. She’s living that balloon life.

This Peanuts balloons has been around longer than the actual Peanuts comic strip. I think we brought it home in late January. I will miss this one when it’s gone. $6.99.

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This lucky little guy moved in at the beginning of the month, but he’s still hanging around looking shiny. $3.99.

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And these superstars were given to Babystar when we left the Children’s Museum last week, or the week before, they are all running together. We drove them ninety miles home because we love that little ToddlerMonster.

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They hang out near the sky because they are stars, duh. Also because one of the strings is only about four centimeters long.

Does anyone else have a balloon-obsessed toddler?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,665.97

 

 

Worker (Ba)Bee.

Babystar likes tools.

Since it’s kinda dangerous and pretty dirty and maybe illegal to let her play with the tools on my workbench, we got her a set of toy tools. (Yes, I said MY workbench. I 100% guarantee that my husband would agree.)

They are cute and sturdy and BPACDEFG-free and made of recycled materials in the USA. This is my first Green Toys purchase, but I totally dig them. I bought them at Home Goods so they were less expensive than usual. Which I also totally dig. ($16.99 instead of $27.99.)

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Babystar digs them too. She took the pliers on the airplane to Florida earlier this month,  and ‘fixed’ the airplane window. Whew. Those other travelers don’t know how close we came to a possible broken window. Babystar to the rescue.

(Note: I had to go to their website to look up the actual retail price since I bought them at Home Goods. They have a pink set. Gross. GIRLS LIKE BLUE TOO. At least the tea set comes in both pink and blue too. BUT STILL.)

And while we are on the topic of fixing things, the living room ball pit has been getting some serious abuse aggressive love by visiting older kids. It’s totally to be expected, and a large part of me wants it to break completely and be out of my life, but alas. Babystar loves it too much. So we bought some Duck tape (yes, Duck, that’s the brand) and fixed the broken loops. $3.77. She picked yellow, so they don’t match the other loops at all but whatever. Also, we took the ball pit downstairs so it maybe gets less abuse and so I maybe don’t have to look at it as much. Win-win.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,654.99

 

HOOO Turned Off the Light?

Once upon a time, over Christmas break of 2015, we adopted a super cute Skip Hop owl night light courtesy of the Myrtle Beach grandma. The blue owl sits on my nightstand and glows while Babystar nurses to sleep each night. The very wise owl gently turns itself off after thirty minutes. I love this thing!


One day many months ago, Babystar was playing with the owl an dropped him onto the floor. A piece of plastic broke off of the battery case. We fixed this by covering the bottom tightly with packing tape.

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We use this owl every night. After a few battery changes, the tape method grew less effective and more annoying. If the nightstand was nudged at all, the owl would abruptly flicker off, sometimes causing bedtime distress and NOBODY LIKES BEDTIME DISTRESS.

We replaced the owl in November. ($19.03 via Amazon Prime.) Bedtime improved greatly until a few weeks in to the new owl coming to live with us. Owl #2 broke for real. Even more broker than Owl #1. The battery pack legit broke off and fell inside the owl completely. In fact, we have been using the OG (less) broken owl for months, with our handy tape hack. Fast forward to March and we finally got around to calling Amazon and they replaced it with no issue. Amazon is awesome or maybe we just spend waaaay too much money on Amazon but either way, YAY.

Let’s see how this goes. Take three.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,634.23

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