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.




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.