Forty.

I never thought I would be chasing a toddler at forty years old.

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I was a teen mom before Instagram and Facebook and the MTV show. I mostly just hoped I wouldn’t have GRANDCHILDREN by age forty. (I don’t. I somehow have two amazing college students with practical knowledge of birth control.)

My Teen Marriage didn’t last (surprise!) but I have been married to my current husband for over ten years. We tried for a baby almost right away, but then got sucked into the dark depths of Secondary Infertility. As anyone who has been through any type of infertility knows, it was HELL. After six years of charting and procedures and hoping and crying and crumbling, I gave up.

I had to give up. For my sanity and for my marriage, I needed to stop the monthly devastation. I had two unbelievably amazing children and my husband had two wonderful step-children. We were both very lucky, actually. And our family was complete.

My two wonderful children lived in Florida with their dad during the school year (another long story for another time), and I missed them so much all the time. I luckily had a job that allowed me to work from home, wherever that home might be. We made a hard decision to rent an apartment for me in Florida during the 2014-2015 school year. It was my son’s senior year of high school and my daughter’s sophomore year of high school. I found a three-bedroom apartment across the street from the high school for less than $900 per month. At that point, I was spending about $1500 each month on hotels and AirBnBs and airplane tickets and car rentals and dinners out with the kids in Florida. The finances sucked but it kind of made sense. So I moved there without my husband.

But of course we visited one another.

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Imagine my surprise when three months into the school year (and three months into my Florida lease), my period was late. Holy crap. I could hardly believe it. I didn’t believe it. And then I couldn’t deny it. I took a pregnancy test and called my husband 700 miles away with the news.

I WAS PREGNANT! OMFG.

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But. I was living in Florida for the school year. The school year that ended in May. My daughter was turning sixteen in May. My son was graduating in June. Babystar was due on June 19.

That was a hell of a ride.

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I went to doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds without my husband. I heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time all by myself. I sat alone to take the gestational diabetes test. I drove myself to the hospital when I started bleeding early in the third trimester and sat in that hospital bed texting my husband five states away while he checked the airline schedules. (I was ok. The baby didn’t come until June.)

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I fetched my own ice cream. I spent too much money on pedicures just for the frequent foot massages. I ripped my cartilage and had to bind my ribs myself because the doctors I was seeing were not my own and were pretty horrible and I was not invested enough to find a new temporary doctor in Florida. I had strong faux contractions from about Week 22 and I laid awake night after night trying to get comfortable. I complained to no one. (Ok, those two wonderful college students might disagree.)

I didn’t set up a nursery, because I wasn’t home. I didn’t shop for the baby because I was too busy with my teenagers. (And we were too broke from supporting two households.) I basically tried to ignore the pregnancy. Not because I wasn’t excited — I was! I was that wary but ecstatic sort of excited experienced by parents that gave everything trying for a baby. But. But still, I didn’t want anything to take away from being in Florida with my teenagers.

Who were not at all amused, by the way. Well, my son thought it was hilarious. My daughter just rolled her eyes.

I threw a Sweet Sixteen birthday party for my daughter at 36 weeks pregnant. And I danced — in heels! I sat on backless bleachers for hours at 37 weeks pregnant to watch my son graduate high school. At 38 weeks pregnant, I sold as much as I could and packed up the rest of that Florida apartment and moved back home.

I went into labor two weeks later, on my due date. I was out running last minute errands for the baby. Everything was last minute with this baby. My son was driving but I wouldn’t let him take me home until we finished everything on my list.

I was right.

Babystar was born the next day.

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And all of a sudden I was paying attention. I didn’t put her down for months. You can’t spoil a baby, right?

Babystar has been the best little surprise. She definitely changed all of our lives. My daughter chose a close-ish state school and I am certain the main reason is her two-year-old BFF. My husband was Mr. Live Music and Football Games and I can count on my fingers the concerts he has been to in the last two years. My plan was ALWAYS to spend my fortieth birthday in Cape Town, finally reaching my dream vacation destination. Instead, I am having a movie night that will probably be a Moana double feature. First Moana, and then Moana again.

And I fucking love it.

My birthday blog post was going to be a story about me and how I felt about turning forty. And just like my life, this post was taken over by this tiny human that I never expected to meet. What’s forty? I’m too busy building block towers and pushing swings and reading picture books and blowing bubbles to care.

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Baby Leash.

At least it’s not a muzzle.

(BRB going to google if toddler muzzles are a thing. No? No. Ok, cool. I didn’t want one anyway.)

Babystar is an unpredictable little ToddlerMonster. As is to be expected. I love the unpredictable things she says to me all the time. I love most of the unpredictable things she does all day long. I do not love the sudden unpredictable public sprints.

Like many good parents, we tricked the trusting little monster. She wanted her very own backpack. Mommy has a backpack. Big Sister and Big Brother have backpacks. Her cousins have backpacks. I borrowed one of the Skip Hop Zoo collection backpacks (with safety strap) from a friend for a trial run. She loved it, and barely notices if I have to grab the safety strap. Not a leash. A safety strap.

Whatever. It’s a leash. And I don’t care.

She loves that she can carry around a few books and a toy car or tiny Care Bear or whatever. I love that if my own backpack gets too heavy I can fit her water bottle into HER backpack and help her become an independent human and build a strong character and mostly take some weight and bulk out of my own bag. I don’t always attach the harness but I always have it with me. When we are walking near a road or in a big crowd of people, I like the peace of mind that the harness gives to me. I don’t lead her around by the safety strap. I do loop it onto my wrist and then hold her hand. It’s a great backup for when she gets OH SO EXCITED ABOUT THAT THING WAAAAY OVER THERE HURRY HURRY MAMA! (It is usually rocks. It is always rocks.)

 

When the safety strap is not keeping her super safe, I can loop it around the backpack’s handle and give her a little free range chicken action. She doesn’t even notice or care that it’s there. She is just excited to have her very own backpack.

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And, ok, she picked out her very own backpack all by herself. But since it does have a LEASH, I find it absolutely hilarious that she chose the dog.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,526.63

 

CONFESSION TIME: Who has used a baby leash? Who hates me now?

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

Lost in the Park.

This is the last known photograph of Babystar’s favorite water bottle.


It was a blue and yellow (and metal) smaller size Contigo that her grandparents gave to her during her last visit to Myrtle Beach. Blue and yellow are her favorite colors! She loved pushing the button so the straw would pop up! (She could actually open and close it herself and it was still 100% leak-proof in my bag.) And Contigo beverage containers are magic so her water stayed cold all day!

(Seriously, Contigo makes MAGICAL containers. My coffee stays hot for literal hours. This is the most important thing for me as a SAHM so yay Contigo.)

Alas.

We totally left Babystar’s favorite cup at the park last Tuesday. I would have gone back to fetch it but I didn’t realize it until about 10pm and I knew the squirrels had likely taken it by then. Lucky squirrels. I hope they at least figure out how to get the straw open.

I was devastated. Like, way more upset than I needed to be over a freaking sippy cup.

Amazon Prime to the rescue — almost. Apparently, there are no more blue and yellow ones. But at least her water will be cold again. $15.99. (Hella expensive for a child’s cup but completely worth it.)


RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,084.64

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Parents, what is your kid’s favorite kind of on-the-go cup? What is YOUR favorite?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ponies and Cars and Ponies and Ponies.

And a school. And some more stuff.

Last Saturday, I worked a booth selling donated books and games at a flea market to raise money for the Organization for Autism Research.

April is Autism Awareness Month. Almost everyone has heard of Autism Speaks and Light It Up Blue, which is cool, but if you dig deeper, Autism Speaks spends a lot of their money trying to find a ’cause’ or a ‘cure’ for autism. (Hint: it is not vaccines.) There are other organizations that spend more time and money advocating for those with autism and helping families with important resources. OAR is the latter, and I heart them for it. I digress.

I didn’t even LOOK at the other vendors until the ToddlerMonster came to visit. She wanted to walk around. Well, really she wanted to run but we compromised.

We came home with a vintage Fisher Price airplane ($10), schoolhouse ($10) and dollhouse ($5, not pictured because I think it is still in the van) that all need a good cleaning. (These might really be for me, but I pretend they are for Babystar. Or maybe the other way around? I think I need to do a post on ALL of the vintage Fisher Price I have acquired since Babystar’s birth…)


We also found other cheaper plastic airplanes for one dollar each ($4) and a yellow bouncy ball (free) and some old Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars ($5) and a stuffed penguin ($1) and like a million PONIES ($1). I only had one dollar left and Babystar kept pulling tiny ponies out of a giant bin of plastic toys and screeching in joy and hugging them so the girl selling them insisted that we take as many as we could find for that dollar. (I also bought a chair for myself from her mother so I don’t think we used Babystar’s cuteness to take advantage of them. Too much.)


RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,003.94

 

Food and Snacks and Snack Stacks.

I love Re-Play Recycled kid’s plates and utensils. One look at my Instagram is all the proof you need. If you need proof. Like, if you think I’m constantly lying to you. Wait, what? Oh yeah.

Re-Play. I also love the Snack Stacks. I have three of the containers and three lids, so I can use them together or separately. I find myself making snacks in advance and putting them in the refrigerator so I can easily pack the Baby Bag in the mornings. (My family, we are not a morning people. Not even little Babystar. Weird, right? Babies are usually known for their 5am parties.)

Now Babystar likes the Snack Stack containers to hold her crayons at various impromptu workstations throughout the house so that she can create masterpieces the very moment that inspiration strikes. Brilliant artist, that one.

Clearly, I needed more. A few weeks back, Re-play had a great 50% off all Snack Stacks sale, so I bought the Rainbow Set for $25.24 including shipping. (I despise their $79 minimum shipping but the $6 shipping was worth it for such a great sale. The regular price for that set of twelve containers plus lids is $38.50. Score!)

So pretty.

And here is all of the food I purchased in March for Babystar. (These food posts are boring but important for accuracy. And I love accuracy. Again, I’m only counting food that I buy specifically for Babystar. We share our food with her, of course. And she shares hers with us. But for math purposes, I count all of the extra stuff that I would not have bought if she didn’t exist. Except now I count half of the money spent on frozen pizza and tots because we sort of buy those for both the Teen and the ToddlerMonster now. She LOVES tater tots.)

March Food

  • Watermelon 2.69, 2.55, 4.33
  • Chia waffles 3.59×2
  • Bananas .46
  • Granola bars 8.99 (Costco)
  • Ice cream 2.98
  • Tots 2×2.79
  • Mac and cheese 2.99×4
  • Pears 2.99
  • Clementines 2.99
  • Cheese 3.19
  • Eggs 3.99
  • Apple bars 1.99
  • Graham crackers 1.99
  • Apples 6.98
  • Frozen pizzas 12.00
  • Strawberries 8.00
  • Angelica Pizzeria slice 3.64×2
  • Chik-fil-A 2-strip kids meal 4.65×3
  • McDonalds Happy Meal (sans meat) plus Cutie clementine 3.49

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,967.94

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