Great Plates.

I know, I know. Nobody asked me.  <raises hand>  But I’m going to share with the class anyway.

Design

Babystar uses four different types of plates. I did not research ALL OF THE PLATES (like I did with strollers and that was hell) so there may be better options out there. Pretty please let me know in the comments if you have any of these and like/hate/feel nothing about them. Or if you have a favorite that I have not listed.

ezpz mini mat

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LOVE

  • It fits on our Ikea high chair tray.
  • It is perfect on the living room side table or restaurant table because it does not slide easily.
  • The divided tray encourages Babystar to eat a variety of foods.
  • It’s silicon, so it’s BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates free.
  • Dishwasher safe (top rack).
  • It’s freaking adorable!
  • The extra lip around the food sections is a great place to put tiny bites from my plate that she may or may not try. But she does not get upset about them because they are not (apparently) technically in her food areas.

SIDE-EYE

  • It is really easy to move around on the tray or table. It does NOT suction. It is well designed but most kids are smart enough to pick it up if that is their goal.
  • Babystar does like to move her plates from room to room because she takes ninety minutes to finish a meal. These plates are rubbery so very difficult for her to carry without spilling. (I get that this is only an issue for some kids.)
  • These plates are quite expensive. If you want several different colors or have more than one kid, you are spending some serious dough.

VERDICT

  • I like the two we own (one was a gift at a MommyCon session). I also have one of the bowls, which does not fit on the Ikea high chair tray but is great for art supplies. I definitely LOVED these plates a bunch when Babystar was just learning to eat and would get frustrated when her plate or bowl moved around unintentionally. My advice: get one or two for when your baby is first learning to eat. Once he or she can pick up the plate, it’s time to teach them not to do that anyway. I like it as a ‘training plate’. And then as a travel plate.

 

Re-Play Divided Plate

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LOVE

  • Re-Play is a great company that I kind of want to make out with. Their products are made from recycled milk jugs. In America. And did you hear the part about RECYCLED MILK JUGS??
  • BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates free.
  • Dishwasher safe (top rack).
  • The sections on the divided plates are deep enough to put actual food in, even runny stuff, like fried eggs or oatmeal or even, EVEN, cereal with milk. Whoa.
  • The divided sections also encourage her to eat a variety or foods. She NEEDS something different in each section. (So it also encourages ME to be a good mama and balance her meals. Thanks, fam.)
  • So far they have proven indestructible but I have not tried them on the bottom rack of the dishwasher (dun dun dunnnnnn). Which is great because Babystar likes to carry her plates around these days. (I really cannot figure out why she needs a change of scenery mid-meal.)
  • There are so many pretteeee colors from which to choose!
  • They are very affordable! I linked the plates from Abby’s Lane above because that online shop offers free shipping, and sells the plates individually for $3.25 each, in case you want to try one. You can buy direct from Re-Play here, but they sell the plates in 2-packs for $5.99. The catch is that you have to spend $79 for free shipping, and I hate that rule. I hate most rules tbh.

SIDE-EYE

  • Ahem. I must spend $79 for free shipping on the Re-Play website? AND their shipping is expensive. No, thank you.

VERDICT

  • Yes, please. We love these. But beware: if you have a plate thrower (opa!), these plates are irresistibly light and frisbee-esque. However, they aren’t going to break so there’s that.

 

IKEA KALAS Plate

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LOVE

  • These plates are SO affordable! Six for $2.49!! I bought a few packs and I use them for everything: play date snacks, stuffed animal birthday parties, and tossing in the diaper bag for picnics. I have lost a few along the way and I DON’T EVEN CARE.
  • The are BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates free.
  • They are dishwasher safe.
  • They are kind of the perfect size.

SIDE-EYE

  • The plates are not divided, and Ikea does not offer a divided plate option. Sometimes that is fine. Other times it is less fine. The problem is that Babystar (being a typical toddler) never really gives me a heads up.
  • The plates are almost too light. I like their weightlessness when I am carrying them in Babystar’s bag, but they do tend to get swiped onto the floor a little too easily.
  • They are available online but shipping is $10, so you have to either live near an Ikea or know someone who does. Or buy a whole bunch of stuff from Ikea to make it worth it which would definitely be my preference. Go check out their pillows. I’ll wait. (I definitely sent several packs of the KALAS bowls to my nephew in another state whenever someone was headed that way.)

VERDICT

  • Worth having on hand, even if you don’t have kids. I totally owned some before Babystar was born for visiting children. The price is amazing. The product is good enough.

 

Regular Dinner Plates

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LOVE

  • I’m pretty sure she feels like such a BIG GIRL when her plate matches mommy’s (and everyone else’s if it’s dinnertime).
  • This is extremely economical. Unless. Unless your child breaks them all the time and you have to pay for more adult plates (although this is like the salad plate size) or some ER visits from glass shard related injuries.

SIDE-EYE

  • Ok, first of all, and not plate related, but maybe don’t give the baby metal weapons utensils, even if they were given to you by her grandmother and used to belong to her father. Even then.
  • Also, we so fancy, and our dinnerware (though very cheap to acquire, dude, I bought an entire set of vintage Franciscan Starburst for fifty bucks from some clueless amazing person on craigslist), would be very expensive to replace. That does not mean I do not TOTALLY wish I had the child plate version of this pattern. But I just found one online after an hour of searching and it was $90 soooooooo I’m thinking that’s probably a nope.
  • Babystar likes to carry her food around. I would not freak out about the broken plate if she dropped it, but I would DEFINITELY freak out about the sharp ceramic shards on and around my baby.
  • Again, it’s not divided. (Though the child’s plate version is but I don’t have that one so please mail me one ok thank you.)

VERDICT

  • I don’t think this is a super great idea. Probably don’t do it. But also, you know, live your life.

 

My little Babystar has started this cool thing where she wants to eat twenty-five hours of the day. Yes, twenty-five. Because twenty-four doesn’t seem to be enough. I guess she’s trying to grow so she can reach the cookies.

My stack of five re-play divided plates was no longer even getting us through a whole dishwasher cycle, because of that whole CONSTANTLY EATING thing. I just acquired four more plates. Two were purchased by grandparents and two by me ($6).

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,297.37

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

More Adventurous.

I miss Rilo Kiley. I miss when I used to be hip on all the new music. One of my favorite things about Nook is the fact that they play (kid-appropriate) indie music and not in-your-face toddler tune/nursery rhyme/wheels-on-the-bus type of stuff that I get to hear PLENTY of, thank you very much.

So anyway, I paid $120 to join Nook for a month. February 15-March 15 you will find me there A LOT. Especially on Thursday mornings for Baby Yoga. (OMG, I took Babystar for the first time last week and she was SO INTO IT. For like ten minutes before getting bored and wandering off but still. Next week we are shooting for twelve minutes.)

I’m not sure yet if I will join for another month, but maybe. There are lots of other classes that I very much want to check out. Membership gets me in even if there is a wait list, and I love being VIP, even at a baby play place. A day pass is $20 so we just have to go six times to cover membership. And with the membership, I can pop in for 45 minutes so Babystar can play, and then leave before she gets bored, and I don’t feel like I wasted $20.

So far, we dig it.

As I’ve mentioned before, it is the opposite of a place like Busy Bees or a soft play room, so we still go to those too. I recently bought another $36 3-visit pass to Busy Bees. And I went on a 2-for-1 Tuesday with Babystar and my niece so that was another $15. Oh, and I treated my SIL and niece to Chick-fil-a that day too ($23.47 for all four of us, but we wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for Babystar and Busy Bees so I think I have to include all of it). We also went to the cool play room with the giant ball pit again ($5).

Cooler than ALL OF THESE is the Building Museum in D.C.!


I recently went with a mama friend who has a membership and so Babystar and I got in free. I helped pay for parking ($4.60) and bought some lunch at the cafe ($9.63) and I really might consider joining also. It’s only $90/year and the Building Museum has constantly changing exhibits. Not all are kid friendly, but they do have a permanent kid friendly area that is so popular that you need timed tickets that you can only get once you arrive at the museum. The area has a fully stocked mini-house, a bunch of building toys, blocks, dolls, a wall of cool latches, and so much other stuff that I can barely remember everything. I remember that none of the kids (age 1-5) were ready to leave when we had to leave. That’s high praise.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,091.48

 

Back to Cloth.

With few exceptions, Babystar has been in disposable diapers for about a month now. I started when I packed the bag for the Women’s March last month and disposables were so much lighter. I kept her in disposables through a bathroom renovation that took away my access to the diaper sprayer for a week. Then we all got sick and now we are better but yet the disposable diapers remain on the baby.

I’m not gonna lie — I don’t hate them. They are not as cute as the cloth diapers, but they definitely have their benefits.

disposables

But today we are back in cloth. Let’s do this!


We bought eleven packs of diapers during this glorious, lazy month. The Target brand was somehow always on sale for $4.99. Score! So $54.89 for almost a month. Eh. The fancy cloth we use costs $30-35 each. I think you CAN save money using cloth but I definitely did NOT.

(We still have disposables left but we also still use them at night and on Sundays in the church nursery.)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,738.38

Oh My Darling, Valentine.

I belong to a chapter of MOMS Club International (and I just paid my annual dues which are $25 but really $26.80 if you pay online and I paid online). This month our MOMS Club decided to have the kids make valentines to bring to a local assisted living home. This is the same place where my motherfreaking rockstar Teenager hosts a weekly ‘art club’ because she is an amazing human with nothing but kindness in her soul and also because she has to do a community service project to earn her IB diploma. Anyway. I have not met these seniors but I have heard a lot of great stories and I want them to have wonderful valentines from the adorable children in our club.

Something always comes up, right? On the day that we planned to make the valentines, one mama couldn’t leave her house because her children had turned into flying monkeys from Oz. Another mama had an exorcist-like vomit situation going on. Another mama had a baby that set the house on fire. Probably. I think the remaining children wrote an avant-garde musical and went on tour. Or something like that.

Unfortunately, hardly anyone showed up last week when we were meant to make the valentines. Babystar was actually the oldest of the only three children there, and she was all about the markers for approximately three of the one hundred twenty minutes. She created a stunning work of art. (The other two were a bit too young.)

Babystar loved the stampy markers at Nook last month and clearly remembered them because she basically reenacted that super fun marker time. Except these were not the right kind of markers. Whoops.


This past weekend I went to Micheal’s to find some of those stampy markers and some age appropriate valentine-making supplies. So basically, foam hearts and stickers. They were out of valentine stickers so we got animals and cars and stuff. I used a couple Micheal’s couponS and the total was $22.03. I did get one small pack of heart stickers at Target for $2.99.


We made some valentines. I know some other mamas in the group made some valentines. At least we won’t show up empty handed. If we run out, Babystar is A+ at blowing kisses.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,683.49

Winter is Numbing.

Winter means indoor play spaces.

Indoor play spaces mean germs.

Germs mean sick babies.

Sick babies mean sick mamas.

When sick babies and sick mamas FINALLY feel better, they want to play. So we go to an indoor play space and puke and repeat.

We were lucky enough to have a few surprise parkweather days this winter, but we have mostly been spending all that overflowing toddler energy at indoor play spaces. Or literally puking on my head. Extremes are so IN this season.

We usually go to Busy Bees. Mostly because Babystar loves it so much. As soon as we are close, she starts chanting ‘balloon, dog, balloon.’ But actually mostly becuase it’s next to a Chick-fil-A and they sell magic chicken sandwiches with the superpower to instantly brighten my day.

I buy 3-visit passes to Busy Bees for $36. But if we show up in the last hour, it’s only $10 so I pay that instead. I have already spent $56 this calendar year at Busy Bees but I still have one visit on the card. Sometimes the toddlermonster lets me sit by the wall and zone out for a few minutes. Worth it.

We  went to the recently opened Nook in north Arlington, which is basically the opposite of Busy Bees. It’s a ton of fun but full of neutral colors and imagination-based play stations. We loved it and will go back but it’s pricey at $20 (we went for $15 this visit with our MOMS group). Babystar made a painting (with really cool stamping markers so it’s basically pointillism right?), played in messy kinetic sand (that messy stuff they have near the front at every Brookstone in every mall), cooked some fake dinner, and tried to move in to this super cool tunnel with STARS in the ceiling (pinpricks of light but the babies were fooled). I didn’t snap pictures because I had other adults to talk to (AWESOME!) that day. Oh, plus they have free cookies. Hm. Now I want to go back.

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We drove up to Maryland, to check out the College Park Aviation Museum. Babystar loves airplanes and she had a blast at this museum. It was completely deserted so she had all of the toys in the hands-on area to herself. She was actually free (under 2) but the Teenager and I were a combined $7. If we were closer, I would take her there all the time. (When we were leaving, the Secret Service rolled up and locked down the tiny airport next door. It was a few days before the inauguration and we totally wonder who was flying into College Park. And also, why? D.C. is kinda far away, especially in traffic.)

We checked out another soft play room close to home. The Chinquapin Park Recreation Center Soft Play Room is REALLY cool. It’s sort of small but with an extra bouncy floor and lots of tall things to climb on. Plus there is a giant ball pit. (And weird green lighting; I don’t know what that is about.) Babystar loved it and would want to go every day, but it’s $5/half hour. We spent $10 but she would have played another hour in there.

 

We space these out with free library story times (that always include lots of songs and wiggle time) and the free soft play room at the local community center. And parks, weather permitting. And if I’m being honest, sometimes I count running around Target as her outing for the day.

The other half of the days have been spent indoors on the couch. Sick. Sick. Sick. I got Babystar hooked on Super Wings (an airplane cartoon on Sprout — she LOVES airplanes) during a particularly bad stretch where the whole fam was sick, and now she is a Super Wings junkie. If the TV is off she just starts chanting, ‘airplanes, airplanes.’ Crap. Why didn’t I stick with the freaking penguin documentaries??

RAISING BABYSTAR: $14,631.67