Dinosaur Land.

You know that Salvador Dalí painting with the melting clocks?

Dinosaur Land in The Middle of Nowhere, Virginia is exactly like that. But with dinosaurs. Non-melting dinosaurs.

This place is amazing. I am a HUGE FAN. But it is clearly not, like, a research institution. Drive eighty miles east to the Smithsonian for that kind of dinosaur experience. Dinosaur Land’s target audience is obviously children. Or maybe Collectors of Odd Experiences. The dinosaurs are made of fiberglass that looks like paper maché. There are even little dinosaur families with dinosaur babies. But then there are BATTLE SCENES and dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs. WHAT. WHY.

Babystar said that one of the dinosaurs was sleeping. I went along with her version of events.

This place is an hour and a half away from D.C. in decent SAHM traffic. It is definitely worth a visit if you live within two hours of Dinosaur Land, because you won’t find many other places like this in your life. Admission is $5 for ages 2-10 and $6 for ages 11 and up. (I paid $22 for two adults and two toddlers. Then my friend bought the girls dinosaurs on the way out.)

Side note: my most favorite non-child-related SAHM perk is the LACK OF RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC. Highly recommend. Four stars.

Dinosaur Land is NOT worth a visit if you are simply visiting Washington D.C. for the monuments and museums. Dinosaur Land is a novel roadside attraction. Imagine that you live in the country and the old dude on the corner has a bunch of dinosaur statues in his backyard. Dinosaur Land is exactly like that. And approximately that size.

Oh, plus there is a giant King Kong and you can climb in his hand for a picture. And there is a giant shark that you can play in. BUT DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE.

If you do make the trek, take a friend. The drive is long and it helps if you can sing along to some 90s music on the way.

Also, take a picnic lunch even though you may NOT eat in Dinosaur Land. (Dinosaur Land is really big on rules.) Head west on Route 277 and there is a really cool park about five minutes away. Sherando Park has about a million picnic tables including a few shorty tables that are perfect for toddlers. There is a small playground that is toddler appropriate (but doesn’t have the baby swings). And just a short walk across the gravel road, there is a really cool FREAKING GIANT play structure that will give parents of toddlers a mini heart attack. But it DOES have baby swings. It also has a smaller toddler size play structure but why would any self-respecting two-year-old want to play on that when they can climb to the top of the world and almost fall but not fall and — oh, sorry. Everything’s ok.

Sherando Playground

Adults: make the climb and slide down the highest slide at Sherando Park. It is NO JOKE. Do it. You’re welcome.

We stopped at an adorable farmer’s stand on the way home and I bought a giant cookie for Babystar and a tomato that she poked her thumb into because toddlers love experiments. And a soda. ($4.25.)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,749.39

 

 

Mega Blok Party.

Babystar’s favorite game lately is called BUILD A TOWER SO TALL TO THE SKY.

block tower

I have to use all caps so you can understand how to correctly pronounce the title of this game.

She has been playing this game with her very light foam blocks or her square wooden alphabet blocks with varying degrees of success.

But now we have over 500 Fisher Price Mega Bloks. ($63.56 with tax.)

This happened slowly. I innocently bought the 120-piece Treehouse Playdate pack of Mega Bloks for $14.99 from Costco one day. ($15.89 with tax.)

We came home and opened the box and built the tallest tower ever. It was taller than Babystar!!

I did some googling and realized that 120 blocks for $15 was a really good deal. The basic 80-piece pack is anywhere from $20 to $26 depending where you look. Unless you want the pink 80-piece set, which is mysteriously $14.99. I have found the exception to the Pink Tax. (Well, Mega Bloks and car insurance.)

I picked up another set the next time I was at Costco.

We really like the Mega Bloks. They are perfect for my toddler. They are basically Legos-in-Training. I know, I know, I totally love Duplos. But Duplos need a lot of snapping and pulling apart. The Mega Bloks just sort of sit on top of one another. And the protruding parts that fit inside the bottoms of the blocks are nice and big. This means they do not topple easily. Which is GREAT for my easily frustrated, poor-impulse-control-having, two year old ToddlerMonster when she is trying to build her TOWER SO TALL TO THE SKY.

(The set comes with stickers to make some of the blocks look like leaves or branches or whatever, but we threw those away. I personally think that stickers on blocks limit imagination, but you do you, boo.)

During a recent toy purge, I gave away the small set of Green Toys blocks that she had and never played with, along with a ton of other infant toys. This left an entire ottoman downstairs empty for Mega Bloks.

So I totally bought two more boxes of blocks. Fun fact: only three boxes will fit in the ottoman so one is still unopened just WAITING for one of her friends to have a birthday party. Or for us to get bigger ottomans, whichever happens first.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,723.14

Monday’s Mama is Fetch AF.

This Monday I am pleased to introduce Mary Catherine Awesome. She totally made those corn muffins like forty-seven seconds before that picture was taken but her food is so delicious that it disappears like she’s baking at Hogwarts. Mary Catherine is basically June Cleaver. Except PG-13.

Mary Catherine

This actual human woman cooks an actual edible dinner for her family of five every night. She sews things. She has eternal patience with her three children. She makes sourdough bread from scratch. She is always laughing and kind to everyone. Thank heaven her house isn’t spotless, or we wouldn’t be able to be friends. Perfection can be SO annoying.

You all read that, right? SHE FREAKING SEWS.

So. We are friends IRL but Mary Catherine is also a blogging newbie. She’s a super great writer so go check her out over at bingewatchinglife.blog. Although, she’s also crazy. She started the blog to chronicle her COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS decision to stop eating sugar. And to stop drinking booze. AT THE SAME TIME. I told her not to do it but she apparently just found out sugar was bad for her. Or something.

I’m kidding. Mary Catherine is once again being a badass while I’m bribing Babystar with our new game M&M Manicure in which I give her a chocolate candy for every fingernail she lets me trim. Mom of the Year over here, y’all.

Mary Catherine was awesome enough to answer some of my questions.

1. Wait, so Regina George was named after your high school? OMG WHAT?! Why??

Totally. OK, so I heard it as a rumor and it may be an urban legend, but I did go to Regina Dominican, an all-girls high school (or as they are called now, a college preparatory school for young women) near the north shore of Chicago–and I’m proud to be a Regina girl! It was SO much fun. But apparently Tina Fey didn’t find Regina girls fun? I think she thought they were bitches. Again, that’s what I’ve heard.

2. Ok, but like for real, HOW do you make sourdough bread from a starter?*

sourdough starter

This is a boring answer. Put starter in a bowl with flour, water or milk, and some honey or sugar. Hold your breath. And set out overnight. Next morning, add some salt and baking soda. Stir down with more flour until the batter forms a dough. Pretend you are making coffee so you can knead the sticky dough without “helpers.” Stretch and fold, stretch and fold, standing on one foot, for about ten minutes. Reluctantly let three-year-old in kitchen and have him wash his hands. (Later you will learn this was a decoy for the five-year-old who was stealing them raw dough to eat.) Roll into a rectangle. (The dough, not the child.) Fold into thirds and tuck the ends under. Set in a greased loaf pan. Slash the middle, just to let it know who’s boss. Set in a warm oven to rise for about two hours. Then, without moving the loaf, turn the oven on to 350 and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes. That’s basically how I do it, and it’s different every time. I started baking bread when I was in fourth grade and my mother abandoned me– I mean, got a part-time job and I had afternoons home alone. Using the oven, of course.

3. What is your favorite family holiday tradition? What is something that everyone else does but you skip?

Gosh, my favorite family holiday tradition? That’s really hard for me– I’m very much a traditionalist, so holding on to traditions until they are way past dead is like my life’s work. I love them ALL. But, for brevity, I love having an Advent wreath on our dinner table and singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” as we light the candle every night until Christmas Eve. Everyone else seems to be really into Elf on the Shelf right now. I don’t get that. It’s way cheaper (and more effective, I find) to remind your kids that elves are visible to grown-ups only and are watching them. And every time they start to step out of line from Thanksgiving onward you get to spin your head around super fast and yell, “Was that an elf?!!” It’s part of the reward of parenting, isn’t it?

4. It’s the PTA Bakesale. Handmade, store-bought, or nope?

I think you know the answer to this one. I am a creature prone entirely to stupid flights of culinary heroism and terrible vanity. I will bend over backwards to make something spectacular from scratch, just to hear the chewers sing my praises. Once for a bake sale in high school I made authentic Shaker sugar cookies from an antique Shaker cookbook. But first, I made the butter.

Y’all. She MADE the butter.

*I totally slipped in this question because I was hoping she would ACTUALLY WRITE DOWN instructions for me but nope. What the hell is ‘some flour’? Is that metric??

 

Fall Wardrobe: Toddler Edition.

September was the kind of hot that made me doubt Fall even existed. October gave us a few less-than-scalding days, but it was still too warm for a jacket. Or socks. FINALLY, now that is is freaking November, cooler weather has descended upon the us here in the DC area. Praise be. Hallelujah. Amen. Blessings to the Horae. All of it.

Babystar is super lucky; she has a Grammy that loves to shop. And by that I mean that WE are all very lucky that Grammy loves to shop, because we get surprise boxes of clothes throughout the year. Last month we received a box full of 3T leggings and a few other random outfits.

Fun fact: Grammy (aka my MIL) has started removing all of the tags before mailing so that I cannot exchange anything. And almost everything she sends is pink. Or flowery. Or pink and flowery. Grammy is also on board with the star theme so we get a lot of star prints too. I love it. I really do love it. But the tag thing is hilarious.

So obviously, Babystar is SET on leggings this fall. In fact, the leggings drawer literally overfloweth. AND YET I BOUGHT TWO MORE PAIRS OF LEGGINGS ANYWAY. Partially to balance the pink and partially because Target was having a sale on Cat and Jack but mostly because LOOK HOW SWEET. ($3.75 each! Cat and Jack was 25% off of already stupidly low prices. COME. ON.)

Cat and Jack leggings

We also bought a few long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts that should last the season. (Maybe. I do love a good sale. And I kind of hate laundry.)

 

Clockwise from the rocket ship: $5.99, $8.99, $4.50, $5.99, $5.99, $3.75, $5.99. Everything was 25% off except the Ghostbusters tee. But obviously we had to buy the Ghostbusters tee. With tax, everything was $51.62.

I will probably buy her a coat or something this winter. (Probably this one.) If my lovely MIL doesn’t send a box of various coats in various lengths and various weights and various fabrics first. (I love it. I hope that is coming through. I really do love her thoughtfulness, and she waited a long freaking time for a grandchild.)

Unrelated (always related): I have been encouraging the toddler to choose her own clothes. That is my version. Her version might be different and include the phrase “I do what I want.” But the end result is that I have learned a fashion secret. Nobody but NOBODY can mix patterns like a Toddler.

 

RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,020.55

Happy Halloween!

I freaking LOVE Halloween!

I have a box of spooky Halloween decorations in the basement, PROBABLY WITH REAL SPIDERS BECAUSE BASEMENT. This year, all of the morbidly awesome decorations are staying in that box in the basement.

Babystar says everything is ‘too scary.’

Ok, she’s totally right, but LAAAAAAAME.

This year we embraced the pumpkin. We bought seventy-five MILLION pumpkins and mini gourds and mini pumpkins and more pumpkins at the cutest little orchard in Thurmont, Maryland. ($46.85.)

babystar with pumpkin

We piled the pumpkins all over the house.

pumpkins on mantlepumpkin decor

We had a pumpking painting party for Babystar’s friends. And my friends. Let’s be real; she’s two years old. I pick her friends. ($13 for stickers, $3.99 for muffins. I already had lots of paint. And lots of apples.)

painting pumpkins

In definite non-scary but totally adorable form, we are dressing as llamas this Halloween. Everyone thinks we are sheep, probably because the costume cannot actually extend our necks. So we spit on everyone instead. Just kidding. Maybe. ($25 for the Toddler Llama and $20 each for the Teenager Llama and Mama Llama. $1 for the plastic pumpkin.)

This picture is actually from Saturday, and it was rather warm that afternoon. I’ve got my llama toes out. We’ll wear the same costumes for Trick-or-Treating tonight, and I hope it’s a lot cooler. Literally cooler, like temperature-wise. I’m sure it will be fine either way though, because Babystar is 100% ON BOARD with this whole Begging-for-Candy situation.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,098.77