Two Years in (and out of) Cloth Diapers.

I wrote about cloth diapering after a year in cloth already, and it is full of good information that is all still true.

All of the lessons I had learned still apply: diversify your stash, buy a diaper sprayer, resist the aftermarket (if you can and want to but at least be aware of it but maybe don’t completely resist the aftermarket because I will hopefully be selling some diapers within the year).

I still wish that I had used covers and flats for the HUGE money savings. Especially now that Babystar is wearing so many disposable diapers (yep) while the pretty easy-to-use all-in-ones sit quietly in the drawer.

Cloth diapering an infant is super easy and almost fun. The only downside is the extra laundry but I was doing laundry anyway. In fact, I barely had time to get dressed so there wasn’t really extra laundry, since I never changed my clothes. Infants have like one hundred diaper changes per day. (Ok, maybe fourteen-ish.) I enjoyed seeing my sweet newborn baby in cute cloth diapers and if there is any way at all to enjoy changing diapers, CARPE THAT DIEM.)


Cloth diapering a growing but relatively stationary baby is still pretty easy. Yes, the poop gets grosser, but the volume of poop is still reasonable. You know, for poop. And sure, it smells bad, but y’all, toddler poop smells REAL BAD.

Ok, I’m going to stop talking about poop now. Probably not forever, though.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced in cloth diapering my toddler is all of the tiny adventures every day. Between parks and libraries and soft play rooms (and Target), we go ALL of the places ALL of the time. Toddlers gotta GO, man. Babystar will just put on her shoes and head to the door talking about a ‘bye-bye.’ With no regard for pants.

When she was smaller, the diaper bag was mostly full of diapers. Cloth diapers and wet bags for the dirty ones take up a lot of space, AND REMEMBER, you have to carry the dirty diapers around with you at least until you get back to the car. (And they are heavier  once they are used.) Now that she is a person with opinions and advanced nutritional requirements, the diaper bag is full of snacks and her water bottle and my water bottle and at least two changes of (bigger) clothes and sunscreen and bug spray and sunglasses and books and probably some toys that she MUST HAVE but will not play with and there isn’t much room left for the cloth diapers. (And the disposable diapers are SO LIGHT. But yes, they will sit in a landfill until the end of time so I still try hard to use the cloth at home and during our shorter adventures.)

I use a cute striped Steve Madden backpack as a diaper bag. It has a lot of pockets but it was NOT AT ALL made to be a diaper bag. It looks like it belongs on a trendy tween in 2008.


I bought an actual diaper bag long ago that I literally never use. It isn’t a backpack and I NEED my hands free. The actual diaper bag is cool in that it will hang on a stroller but Babystar refuses strollers with me: this is the hidden downside of baby wearing. So maybe the answer for me is a better backpack-style diaper bag? Does anyone have recommendations?

I haven’t added in the cost of diapers in awhile (but they are still on the list). We bought the giant Aldi pack for $10.89 and I ADORE that price. The diapers are fine, but they do not at all work for overnight use. As long as you change the diaper after each pee, they are fine. Just beware of blowouts. I usually buy Target brand Up and Up diapers. I had been buying them by the 28-pack but after a good look in the mirror, I started buying the larger boxes. It’s a great deal at $14.99 and the diapers work well for Babystar. We never have overnight leaks and blowouts are super rare. (I’ve bought two boxes since the beginning of June. I have a bunch left so I’m maybe doing better than I think with the cloth.)

I guess my only new lesson is to be prepared for the bulkiness. I know I need a better diaper bag and a better system. I am loathe to buy a crazy expensive diaper bag now that Babystar is already two, though. But a better system could be free! Maybe I can pack less in the diaper bag and have a wet bag full of more emergency rations in the car?

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Do you cloth diaper a toddler? What are your tips for diapering on-the-go?

 RAISING BABYSTAR: $19,550.73

 

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

 

Brusha-Brusha-Brusha.

BAD MOM ALERT.

Babystar has not brushed her teeth in six days.


Go ahead. Mock me. Shame me. Send me unsolicited infographics about children’s brushing habits and their ability to get into a good college. Tag me on Facebook on articles about toddler dental health. Email me links to articles about why I suck. 

I have no excuse. I KNOW. But if I did, it would be this. 

We ran out of the delicious bubblegum flavored, fluoride-free kids toothpaste on Tuesday night after she DID brush her teeth. 

On Wednesday, I bought new kid’s toothpaste but it was hippie Tom’s of Maine ($3.99) strawberry flavored and she HATED IT. She spit it out and decided to rub her toothbrush all over the toilet instead. I guess this was a commentary on the new toothpaste. Two thumbs down PLUS a toothbrush in the toilet.

So of course we had to toss it into the trash immediately. Because gross.

That happened to be the last of four kids toothbrushes that my husband and I got in our MommyCon gift bags back in 2015. (We each got a gift bag, and they were 2-packs.)

So, ok, no biggie. We will just buy her another toothbrush.

On Thursday, Babystar woke up in a terrible Toddler Mood and we cancelled all adventures and stayed home to color and watch Blue’s Clues and play with blocks. I remembered the toothbrush around dinnertime and popped over to Harris Teeter, where I couldn’t find a single kids toothbrush. Not one.

Darn it. Oh, well, she’s two. She will live, right?

On Friday, I bought a Orajel-brand kid’s Elmo toothbrush and candy-flavored toothpaste set ($4.39) at Target.

Nope. Nope. Nope. She refused to put the colorful Elmo toothbrush anywhere near her mouth.

Crap. So the teenager helped me find the toothbrushes from MommyCon 2015 online. (I was really wishing I had taken a picture of the swag bag contents for the blog because we had long since tossed the toothbrush packaging.) She figured out that they were made by WooBamboo; I found them on Amazon and ordered them with my sweet Prime two-day shipping ($8.43).


MORE BAD MOM CONFESSIONS.

I only brush Babystar’s teeth at bath time. Which is usually in the evening. I ask her if she wants to brush her teeth in the morning with me, and she says yes about 20% of the time. So that’s what we do. I insist that she brush her teeth at bath time, and she’s not always on board but we make it happen. Babystar got her first tooth a bit AFTER her first birthday so we did not establish a good routine early. I know, I know.

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Does anyone know any good ways to convince a very particular toddler to brush her teeth? Asking for a friend.

Ok, so the package arrived yesterday, and guess what. She did not take a bath yesterday. She fell asleep instead and I was not about to wake her up and now it is Monday.

Six days.

TERRIBLE PARENTING. Go ahead, call the police. I don’t even blame you.

I promise she will get a bath and BRUSH HER TEETH tonight. If they haven’t already fallen out by then.

Aaaaand, because we have out priorities straight, we got matching blue toes again over the weekend. Hers are only $5 + tip (so $10.)


(I used the make-it-seem-like-I-recently-shaved-my-legs filter on that picture. Did it work? 🙃)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,879.45

 

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

Summer Bugs Me.

I love most things about the summertime. I love the longer days and the grilled dinners and the splashy water play time.

I do not love the mosquitos. And ants and locusts and spiders and gnats and bees (ok I kind of love the bees in theory), but mostly the mosquitos.

We like to use up all the sunshine and stay at the park until dusk which means walking back home during the Mosquito Happy Hour.

Babystar was getting new bites every day. But also, chemicals.

WHAT IS A GOOD HIPPIE MAMA TO DO?

I’m still not sure, but I did buy some DEET-free bug repellent made up of a blend of essential oils. (Kid’s Herbal Armor Natural Insect Repellent $5.50.) It had KIDS and NATURAL right in the name.

Two things:

  1. I don’t know what DEET is but it sounds bad.
  2. I don’t believe essential oils can cure illnesses but I do know that certain plants repel insects so it seemed legit.

I really wasn’t sure what I was looking for but I compared the active ingredients at Target. The Kid’s Herbal Armor had a bunch of oils (citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, et cetera) that were almost identical to the Babyganics and Honest Company kid’s bug repellents.



I bought the Kid’s Herbal Armor because it was $5.50 instead of $9.49 or $12.34. To be fair, the Babyganics and Honest Company’s bottles were larger, but I wanted to make sure it worked first. Maybe we needed the DEET after all? (WTF IS DEET?!?)
The first evening, I only rubbed the insect repellent on Babystar’s ankles, a popular hangout for Arlington mosquitoes. She has pretty sensitive skin and I wanted to make sure there was no reaction. She made it home with no rash and zero bites on her legs!

Those fuckers bit her arm instead.

The next night, I used the Herbal Armor on her legs AND arms. She was bite-free! I have been keeping her arms and legs coated and it is still working. I don’t put it near her face at all but I do a little swipe behind her neck, and she usually has a hat on for extra protection.

I highly recommend this natural bug repellent. Probably the Babyganics and/or Honest ones are good too, since the active ingredients are almost identical. But I have not tried them so I cannot say for sure.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,090.14

What kind of bug repellent do you use for your kids or yourself?

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

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

 

 

 

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