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

 

 

 

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

 

I’ll Never Feed THIS Baby Fast Food.

HahahahahahaaHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I totally said this when I was pregnant. And I have no fucking excuse.

Babystar is my THIRD child. I love going to Chik-fil-A with the teenagers (their food is better than their politics but it is waaaaay better and chicken sandwich love conquers all). I don’t even really care that McDonald’s french fries aren’t vegan (even though they are potatoes, right, so how–nevermind, I don’t care). This is not my first rodeo.

But I said it. All smug. And stupid. Last December, Babystar had her very first kid’s meal of her very own. And in January she had, um, a few more.

(I currently have three ‘Corduroy Gets a Pet’ board books because our local Chik-fil-A didn’t think to diversify the toddler toys this month. Also, why does a bear need a pet? Who decides which animals HAVE pets and which animals ARE pets? Does this have anything to do with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?)

  • Chik-fil-A 1-strip meal $3.35
  • Chik-fil-A 1-strip meal $3.35
  • Chik-fil-A 1-strip meal $3.35
  • Chik-fil-A 2-strip meal $4.55 (no she didn’t eat the second one)
  • Chik-fil-A fries $2.89 (we shared but they were for her)
  • Chik-fil-A 4-nugget meal $3.35
  • McDonald’s fries $2.99
  • Elevation Burger grilled cheese and oranges $3.25, $1.95

She also still loves to share with us at Shake Shack or our local pizza place (omg she LOVES going for pizza, knows the way there when we are walking, and starts yelling PIZZAPIZZAPIZZA as soon as we turn the corner). She still never eats enough to justify buying her a separate meal.

 

January groceries purchased just for Babystar:

  • Blueberries $2.99, $2.99, $1.99, 4.99
  • Strawberries $6.99, $7.59, $3.00, $5.99
  • Graham crackers $2.99, $2.99
  • Clementines $6.99
  • Sweet onion $1.71
  • Bananas $1.46 (She still won’t eat them what is happening.)
  • Opal apples $6.70, $5.91, $1.88
  • deli turkey (Can toddlers eat this? She loves it.) $3.65, $5.17
  • eggs $2.89, $3.99
  • granola bars $5.49
  • cheese $3.00, $3.00
  • cookies (yep, the kind with m&m’s in them, don’t worry I ate most of them) $2.50
  • Trader Joe’s mac & cheese with the chilis $2.99, $2.99
  • Chia seed waffles $2.99, $2.99
  • Trader Joe’s Honey-O’s $2.59
  • chocolate ice cream minis $1.39, $1.39 (Shhh, her throat was hurting.)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,543.67

 

 

Dragging Her Feet.

Literally. Babystar was dragging her too big 2T fleece pajama feet around the house and down the slide (yes, the slide in my living room and I can’t even). She looooves her dinosaur pajamas and it’s very cold these days but she haaaaaates when the feet drag so I was spending entire evening fixing her little footies.

You know where this is going: I bought some new pajamas. Help. Help. Someone please ban me from Carter’s and Target. But not really because Target is my bae.

Also, she needed onesies because she spends a lot of the weekend on outings with her dad (YAY FOR MOMMY TIME WHICH I MOSTLY SPEND CLEANING TBH), and he usually puts her in disposable diapers since the church nursery requires them anyway (I AM PRETTY SURE BABY JESUS WORE CLOTH) but Babystar likes to put her hand down the disposable diapers so onesies are a must. We only had two in her size so I added a three pack of short sleeves and a three pack of long sleeves. Dude. Whatever it takes to get some time to myself.

Does anyone else have a baby/toddler/small thing that will shove hands down disposable diapers but not so much in cloth? I don’t get it. Maybe it’s the elastic at the top of the cloth? The same thing preventing the blow outs is preventing the spelunking? Maybe? Thoughts?

Maybe her butt just itches. Oh, I’m sorry. Her bootie.

Anyway, here’s the goods. Minus one pair of dinosaur fleece pajamas that I wrapped up to put under the Christmas tree as her Something to Wear. And minus another pair of penguin fleece pajamas that she wore last night (BEFORE I WASHED THEM BAD MOTHER ALERT). And minus a onesie that she is wearing right now.

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I bought the onesies in 24 months but the fleecies in 18 months because she has ONE pair of fleece pajamas that fit her perfectly and they are Carter’s size 18 months (hand-me-downs) so hopefully they will not shrink.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,845.89

A Very Kacey Christmas.

Last weekend, my husband and I went on a date. By ourselves. It was awesome. You see that picture up there? Damn, we look so tired. We needed it.

I see lots of parents on social media going out without their babies so I think I have a PARTICULARLY clingy little monster because she can only be left for a little while and not very often and only with her sister so I’m thinking I have to ban the Teenager from going to college, right? Just kidding. I’ll just send Babystar to college with her sister.

Anyway. If you have ideas, please help. My MIL told me that my darling husband was the same way. She had to quit her job because he cried at daycare all day long and got kicked out. Like a BRAT. So I do not wonder where she gets this from but DUDE HAVE SOME CHILL.

We went to dinner and then to see the Kacey Musgraves Christmas show. It was lovely. Both the show and the moving about freely without a tiny shadow. I PEED BY MYSELF MORE THAN ONCE.

We pay the Teenager for babysitting even though we also pay for her food and shelter. And shampoo and stuff. Her babysitting time is in high demand. Plus, I was the oldest growing up and very much resented the forced babysitting gigs. (Anyone else?) Did you know the going rate for babysitting around here is $10/hour?! (It really is — I checked.) I’m thinking I should totally start babysitting.

We also bought them pizza. Yes, them. My oldest is in town! But I still only paid $10/hour + pizza. I let them work out the details. Problem solving is an important life skill.

According to several Snapchats I received, Babystra played for a bit and then slept on her sister all night. Until fifteen minutes before we got home, apparently. She greeted me at the door at 11pm crying for MAMAMAAMMA.

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RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,671.78

Eat.

I don’t know how to make these food posts more exciting. Maybe I’ll make that my New Year’s Resolution. But it’s still 2016 so here goes.

Food we bought especially for Babystar in November:

  • those weird fruit and veggie melts x4 $11.96
  • canned diced tomatoes x2 $2.48
  • digitali pasta $1.99
  • zucchini x2 $1.67
  • yogurt (which she didn’t like btw) $2.99
  • raspberries $3.99
  • TJ graham crackers x3 $5.97
  • pears $2.99
  • so much cheese $5.98
  • eggs $9.98
  • deli turkey $3.59
  • sweet potatoes (which she wouldn’t eat btw because they are apparently for babies) $4.99
  • butternut squash (still sitting on counter and likely bad by now) $2.77

The November tab is low. Babystar was so sick the first week of November that she basically had milk and crackers. And the milk is free! And the grandparents bought SO MUCH FOOD when we were there over Thanksgiving. Babystar looooves shrimp. Crap. Expensive baby tastes. She really loves seafood but I usually just share my salmon or whatever. Now I’ll probably be buying shrimp cocktail platters.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,589.31

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

#NahDoNoMo

Mommy’s all right. Daddy’s all right. They just seem a little weird.

A little? Ok, sure. Whatever. The point is, I SURRENDER.

It is now November 18. We are officially deep into the second half of the month. My big plans for A Blog Post A Day did not work out. No #NaBloPoMo success for me. But that’s ok. The big winner is YOU. Because it turns out, I don’t always have anything interesting to say. Like right now, for example.

My new November hashtag is #NahDoNoMo. Nah, I’m not going to Do it No More.

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RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,266.46

 

 

 

Restraint.

The other day after a fun hour or so at Busy Bees ($15 but we also went today so $30 total), we popped into Target for granola bars. (We eat a LOT of granola bars in our house and they are cheapest in the big box at Target. Well, they are REALLY cheap in the giant box at Costco, but the teenagers won’t eat the peanut butter flavored ones so it’s not really a good deal after all because I don’t want to eat thirty peanut butter flavored granola bars. Ever, really, but certainly not every month. I digress.)

I found the cutest holiday outfit for Babystar and I did not buy it. Repeat: I WENT TO TARGET AND DID NOT BUY ANY BABY CLOTHES.

You guys, it had stars (mandatory), sparkle, and it was not a dress! Perfection with matching shoes! AND I DID NOT BUY THIS.

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The outfit was $16.99 and the shoes were $22.99 but you know what? She already has a perfectly fine holiday outfit — the same one that she wore for her dedication. It’s a dress, but she will live. I don’t need to spend $40 for a new outfit. That’s not to say that I won’t crack change my mind and buy it later. Especially if it goes on sale. But for now: RESTRAINT. I bought my granola bars and went home.

And then the very next day? I went into Carter’s to return the extra Halloween costumes that I had stressbought (which should be a word) and once again I had so much restraint! Ok, so I did exchange the Halloween items instead of return them. I traded them for a five-pack of onesies, size 24 months, and a very cute long sleeve shirt. Babystar only had two onesies that fit and I like to layer in the winter. And just look at this long sleeve t-shirt. Everything was on sale and I only owed $1.28 at the register. Not bad. RESTRAINT.

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I don’t know what has gotten in to me. Or yes, I do. I have watched this adorable human grow out of season after season of clothes. I have given away items that I know she never wore — or only wore a couple of times. I have watched that number at the bottom of each post creep higher and higher and it is downright terrifying.

And I have another theory. I am finally getting enough sleep. My brain is more able to function properly. (Sort of. I still forget where I am going on the way to the park. And I kind of already forgot my point.) But sometimes, when the planets are aligned properly, I can use my deductive reasoning skills and my common sense and all of the other cool smart lady traits I know I still possess (somewhere) and stop BUYING ALL OF THE STUFF for this small creature that will wear the same clothes every day and not care at all and only wants to play with tampon boxes and the mixing bowls anyway.

Anyone else ever have a similar epiphany?

RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,266.46

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FURTHER RESTRAINT: I am not blogging every day per the NaBloPoMo guidelines. I don’t really have that much to talk about and I hate spam. Many of you doing NaBloPoMo are killing it. Good for you. I like following along. I am not killing it. And I am sort of fine with that.

 

Apple Hack.

Like pretty much every ToddlerMonster on the planet, Babystar loooooves fruit.

Autumn is tricky, though, because apples are in season. And apples want to choke my baby so very badly.

(Yes, I know about pears. I love pears. Babystar loves pears. But they are sosososososo SO SO messy. They are delicious and sticky and drippy and apparently VERY FUN to squish in a tiny fist before licking off of a tiny hand. So I’ve heard. We eat pears just before bath time. Or if we don’t have anywhere to be for a few hours. We rarely eat pears for breakfast because the clean up time is ridiculous.)

I also know that this is 2016 and I can get any fruit any time. I’m not a strict locavore, but I do like to pay attention to the seasons. Out-of-season fruit is EXPENSIVE. And even more importantly, out-of-season fruit is kind of gross and tasteless. So here we are: Apple Season.

Babystar thinks applesauce is baby food. I make homemade freaking delicious cinnamon applesauce but she hates it. Whatever; more for me. However, the grandparents brought us a peck of delicious yummy apples from an orchard in Maryland so we have apples for days WEEKS and I had to figure out a way to slice them that Little Miss Five Teeth could eat without choking. And I got tired of peeling apples all the time.

This seems to work.

  1. Use the apple corer as per usual.
  2. Use a knife to cut one regular human sized slice into three or four thin baby-bitable slices.
  3. Score the peel so that the bits are so small that she can swallow them whole.

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Voila! ToddlerMonster-safe apple slices!*

RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,235.18

*I am not a doctor or nutritionist or in any way qualified to tell you how to feed your child. Your toddler might choke on apples. Your very small baby probably WILL choke on apples. You know your kid better than I do.

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