Our first pandemic

pandemic 2020

The Coronavirus has changed so much in such a small amount of time. Things that used to be the highlight of our week are now considered dangerous activities. This is seriously such an odd time for everyone, and especially for littles. Not knowing how to explain why we can’t go to the zoo or see grandparents is tough. Bobby has handled everything like a champ, mainly because he is one and has no clue anything is even happening. But Betty is old enough to miss spending time with her cousin and going to play at the museum. Even though she is young, we believe honesty is always the best policy. We explained germs are everywhere and the places with more people have more germs. Which means we need to stay home for a while to keep from getting sick or spreading bad germs to friends and family. We may have over simplified but she gets it and, like everyone else, Betty is ready to get back to regular activities.

Toilet paper crisis

Because Betty & Bobby are so young and I stay home with them, the shelter-in place order hasn’t changed too much of our normal routine. The main difference is their Dad working from home. Which means we have to make an effort not to distract or disturb him 8-5. In toddler Time that’s like years, and since he is the fun parent the babes are struggling with this part. However, the effort has been made to spend a lot of time outside on walks, playing with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and enjoying snacks.

Chef Betty

Making the best of things is a trait we’re actively trying to teach both littles. So we’ve been doing fun social distancing activities indoors too. Learning to bake and make treats has become one of Betty’s favorites (check out the Lucky charm treat recipe we tried here.) She has also been taking her dance class through zoom. We’ve done a ton of video chats with friends and family.  Although we cannot physically go to the zoo we watch story time from their Facebook page. Same for our favorite bookshop, Fabled, and trying activities from the Mayborn Museum’s website. We also have colored pictures and given them to a local volunteer who delivers them to residents of neighboring assisted living facilities. These residents are no longer able to see visitors or have guests, which is heart breaking. Our standard at home amusement like reading, playing dress up, building with Legos/ blocks and watching movies has stayed in rotation. However, it is not all fun and games around here. Betty & Bobby have been more involved in the household chores lately too. Bobby enjoys helping load the dryer and pushing the buttons to start it up. He also has become infatuated with the broom & Swiffer. Betty started bringing her dishes to the kitchen following her meals/ snacks and wiping off the table. I’m also happy to report that a lot of organizing, clearing out closets, and homework has been getting done on the Mommy side of things. wp-15858665761185867557227945545779.jpgOur most recent trip to the grocery store was pretty unreal. I still don’t get the whole toilet paper crisis, yet seeing bare shelves and people wearing masks and gloves felt so extreme. HEB is the best grocery store ever (you can’t change my mind) on this visit an employee approached me and asked if we happened to need wipes and we definitely did, but the shelf was empty when we looked upon arrival. She then handed me a small package of them and said they were the last in the entire store until restock and she’d been holding onto them in hopes of finding someone with a small baby to give them to. Bobby is often mistaken for Betty’s twin and far from small (94% percentile at our last check up,) but I was appreciative none the less. Thank goodness I’m a Virgo and our home usually stays properly stocked with cleaning supplies and toilet paper. 

wp-15858674780294531370733776203722.jpgKindness goes so far, in times like these I have high hopes that we as a people show compassion rather than competition. Our family is optimistic that everyone realizes how intense the pandemic is and that y’all are staying home as much as possible, this way we stop spreading the virus and can get back to living life out in the world. 

What are some activities keeping you and your babes busy during the shelter in place?  Be sure and let us know in the comments section. 

Austin Aquarium

Austin, TX

The babes and I recently tagged along on a mini road trip, with Nonnie, to Austin, TX. She was attending a housing conference for work, but we wanted to explore some of the fun activities the capitol city offers for kids. Betty was born in Austin, but Bobby was a first time visitor.

We met up with some local friends at the Austin Aquarium. I grabbed our tickets on my Groupon app before hand, I like using the app because what extra cash I save can contribute to fun stuff like snacks and souvenirs. If you use groupon please keep in mind children two and under are given free entry with a paid adult ticket. Betty’s father and I brought her to the aquarium a few months after she was born and to my surprise they have made serious updates to the facility, since then. This visit was much more hands on and they have added lemurs! Bobby immediately noticed the ring tailed lemurs in the aquarium’s lobby. His eyes widened and then started enthusiastically pointing at them, which set the tone for our entire visit. Both babies enjoyed seeing the variety of fish and animals. First thing our friends showed us was a large iguana with a sign that indicated gentle touches were welcomed. Watching them take turns petting this guy blew my mind. In a larger section of the same display were several smaller ones. A specific iguana was perched on a limb at Betty’s eye line. To all of our shock that little guy made an escape attempt by leaping straight forward in Betty’s direction. Thankfully he landed safely within the enclosure, but Betty jumped and let out a yell. She was surprised but recovered quickly once she noticed the nearby jellyfish tank.

I was so impressed by the variety of animals on display. A large eel, star fish, and an octopus really caught our attention in the first room. To top it off a staff member came by asking if we’d like to pet the bearded dragon he had in hand. The same staff member came by a second time offering a snake but Betty politely declined for all of us.

The next room held a large tank full of sting rays. I was amazed to see them swarm toward us as we approached. This was definitely one of Bobby’s favorite sections. Betty on the other hand was on the hunt for a mermaid and not interested in feeding or petting any wildlife. Although we didn’t find any mermaids on display, we did come upon a giant clam prepped for a mermaid to lounge in, complete with sparkly pillows. Betty’s aquarium outfit included: a White tank/onesie (she got a kick out if it glowing in black light) Mauve/ pink fringe skirt, Strappy tan sandals, white beaded mini purse, and white B3 bow: Use code Betty to save when shopping their site.

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As we continued through the aquarium we saw several large tanks with multi colored fish, found an area with tables for snacking, games, and even a slide! The next sections included fish and more lemurs. These lemurs looked different and whooped/ shreeked so loudly that both Betty & Bobby clung to me and started to cry. I’m not sure if the lemurs were hurt or just playing, because we skipped them and headed to the next exhibit. Home to a large tortoise (that I got to feed,) ducks, and another of Bobby’s favorites – fuzzy chickens. This aquarium is great for little humans due to the displays being low to the ground and so interactive. Bobby was only walking for about two weeks before his visit and roamed through like a pro.

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Bobby’s aquarium outfit included: an Olive green t-shirt, Dark jeans, and Black high top sneakers.

We found a hallway with snakes, parrots, and more fish; that led to the shark room. Bobby especially enjoyed this area because he could watch the sharks swim so closely to his face. This was the last stop before the gift shop, where Betty finally found her mermaid.

We had a blast at the aquarium and really enjoyed getting to spend time with our friends. If you ever find yourself in North Austin, we recommend a visit to the Austin Aquarium!

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Waco Central Library

Books before kindergartenOur family is full of book enthusiasts, we’ve got teachers, librarians, academic bloggers, writers, the list goes on and on. So there is no surprise that Betty and Bobby also love to read. One of the babies’ favorite things to do is visit the library, we typically head to the Waco Central Library due to weekly Toddler Time and their 1000 books before kindergarten program.In order to encourage a love of reading and to help prep little minds for school the library encourages families to read 1,000 books with their children before starting kindergarten. In this program, the children are given a paper filled with stars on both sides, after each read the child colors in a star representing the book they just finished. I really enjoyed that they count each read over each book because once Betty gets attached to a story, she wants to read it over and over. If fact, we read so often Betty has memorized majority of her books, and can frequently be found “reading” them out loud to herself or to her little brother. After completing each page (100 stars) we head to the children’s section of library to trade it in for a new blank page, and start the process all over again. The librarian then moves Betty’s name card to the next section on the wall, and lets Betty choose a prize.img_20200130_1007294796612338338260784.jpgBut this visit went a little differently, this round Betty’s name was moved from the 900 club/ section on the wall to the wall of Fame! She then posed for a photo (above) which will eventually accompany her name on the wall of fame; and finally, her favorite part, she chose a book of her very own to take home! Betty picked the Knight and the Dragon, by Tomie DePeola. Which we promptly took to a comfy chair to read.img_20200130_1049343258399453900420811.jpgimg_20200130_1013296033355116677986061.jpg the Waco Central Library also has a pretty awesome children’s section, rows and rows of books, comfy reading chairs in all different shapes and sizes, computers, puzzles, a play kitchen complete with pretend food and cooking tools, and Bobby’s favorite – soft blocks. Both kiddos could spend hours and hours there. (sometimes we do!) I wanted Betty to be confident for her wall of fame photo so I let her pick out what she was going to wear. She chose her “Books before boys” sweatshirt, pink fluffy tutu, and her new favorite conversation hearts bow from B3 Wraps (use code: Betty to save on your orders!) It was a chilly 54 degrees so I added long grey socks and her grey leopard print boots. img_20200130_1007185286076935806060489.jpgPrograms for children, teens, and adults are also available at the Library, but this one was perfect for our family since the babes are still little enough to participate. It really got Betty excited to read books and color in the stars, plus she extra pumped up for trips to the library; knowing her name would be moved and a prize would be chosen. We grabbed Bobby’s first blank page of stars and have already started his 1000 books. I am so excited to watch him go through the process and grow his love of reading.img_20200130_1046543342876346509209108.jpgIf you find yourself in Waco with your kiddos be sure and check out one of the libraries, they are awesome for learning, fun, and making friends.wp-15804502887629103355239900692634.jpg

Baby’s first birthday

Making it through the first twelve months is such an amazing milestone for both baby and parents. Baby has blossomed into a toddler becoming more and more mobile and vocal. As a mom, seeing my son turn one was bitter sweet: I’m so excited for how far he has come, but also so sad that my little baby is growing up. 

When I hosted my daughter’s first birthday party I got stressed and even overwhelmed at some points. Don’t get me wrong everything turned out fine and we had a blast, but I knew that I wanted to take a more laid back approach to my son’s party. With that in mind I started planning Bobby’s wild ONE party when he was about six months old.

The idea was to choose a theme that would work for a Texas January. Which means it could have been anywhere between 35 – 65 degrees. So a lodge/ forest wild ONE seemed the perfect fit. Plus we can re-use some of the buffalo plaid decor at Christmas. For my daughter’s party, I made many of the decorations on short notice which contributed to being stressed. This round we grabbed balloons, table cloths, and banners (more banners) months ahead of time, for less than $40 (including shipping). It was a good thing we ordered so far in advance since shipping from this site can take six weeks or more. To save ourselves some time and stress we decorated the afternoon before the party. Seeing everything in place made it very easy to make a list of items we still needed to grab before the party. We did the standard 1- 12 month photo banner and added a “my first holidays” banner (not pictured.) Table cloths went down on the sign, snacks, and goodie bag tables; and our wild one balloons hung above the gift area. Other than that we didn’t do much decorating, we figured with the majority of our guests being under ten they would most likely be on the floor or outside in the bounce house. 

Part of the cash we saved on decor went toward a cake smash photoshoot with Willie + Rose Photography, which has become a family tradition. These photos will last forever so I definitely think it is worth getting them done by a professional. We used our favorite shots for his party invites and thank you notes. Another budget efficient tip we used was only mailing invitations to out of town family and opted for a Facebook event for the remaining guests.

Keri’s Kreations makes the best custom treats in Waco, TX; they are almost too beautiful to eat. Keri did the cake & cookies for my daughter’s birthday so naturally she is who we chose for Bobby’s forest themed cake and woodland animal cupcakes to serve at the party. Both the the cake and cupcakes tasted like heaven. Bobby did not dig into his smash cake as expected, which was a bit of a bummer but I think he was taken back by seeing everyone sing to him. 

Although we we’re aiming for a laid back celebration, I’m a sucker for a good theme party and always looking for a reason to bust out a costume. Bobby’s first outfit has been dubbed the little stinker. He was such a good sport with this one he loved the little footie paws and kept rubbing the fuzzy section on his belly.

Bobby really enjoyed this little skunk outfit gifted to him at Christmas (thanks Uncle Nat), but couldn’t keep it on for the whole party. He started getting a little sweaty about an hour in. Assuming things would get messy we brought something to wear for after cake. Comfort is key, so we chose buffalo plaid joggers from B3 Wraps (using the code “Bobby” saves on your orders) and a custom birthday T-shirt from Hustle Darling. This was also one of the outfits from his birthday shoot.

Originally I hadn’t planned on doing goodie bags. I read an article about parents not wanting cheap little toys that break and the risk of food allergies or anti-sugar households and basically all the things that could go wrong, but my mom found the cutest little Pinterest project a couple days before the party, and I couldn’t help myself. So we put our own spin on it and made s’more kits with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and teddy grahams. The mix was put in snack bags and I added tags made out of cardstock. We thought a cheesy-yet-adorable bear pun would put it over the top, so I made stickers from mailing labels with my Cricut. I think they turned out super cute!

I told Bobby’s dad the day before the party that I felt much less stressed preparing for this one. To which he replied “second child syndrome” and chuckled. He was obviously joking, but I would be lying if I said that it didn’t sting a little. As a mother to siblings I strive to give both babies the same amount of effort and affection. I’d like to think that Bobby’s party was less stressful because we were able to use the knowledge gained from hosting Betty’s first birthday to make it easier for everyone involved to focus on the fun. The lesson I learned from hosting both is that the best part of any party is celebrating with people you love. Seeing all of our friends and family play, smile, dance, and laugh in honor of Bobby’s birthday was the highlight of the day. All the decorations, costumes, and gift bags are useless when you don’t have anyone to share them with. Our little family is so incredibly lucky to have people that show up for us and our babies.

 

Christmas lights in the village

Mayborn Christmas villageSince today is the last day of 2019, I figured if I wanted to squeeze a Christmas post in, I better do it now or forever hold my piece. My daughter and I added a new tradition to our list this year, the Mayborn Museum‘s Christmas lights in the village. Baby Bobby was sick so he & his Dad had guys night in, while Betty and I headed out.

Betty chose to wear her favorite holiday outfit. Which just so happens to be a dress (shocker) this one is pink with vintage Santa and holiday stocking pattern. We scooped it from a local boutique, here in Waco, called Junque Queen’s. We paired white knee highs and soft pink Ugg boots. We got these adorable boots from a friend, and have no shame in our hand me down game.  The look is finished with a coordinating B3 bow (don’t forget to use code: Betty to save when ordering from their website or the VIP group on Facebook.) It was pretty chilly so we added white, a faux fur, crop jacket to stay warm.

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After paying the entry fee, we were given glow in the dark necklaces, and headed to meet up with cousin Claire & her parents. Betty received a family membership to the Mayborn as a gift for her birthday, so going to the lights was just $5 per person for us (member rate). Once we made our way outside the girls were shocked by all of the lights, especially the tunnel at the entrance to the village.

After running through the light tunnel we made our way to a couple of cute photo opt areas set up by the staff. First was exciting for the girls, because they got to sit in Santa’s sleigh. The second included hay bales and an old timey wagon. I loved that all the guests were willing to take photos for each other, helping to preserve the night’s memories. Christmas may give people the warm and fuzzies, but I like to think their is a kindness built into the people here in Waco.

We continued through the village noticing cute Christmas activities offered at each of the village’s tiny buildings. Since the girls are unable to write legibly, yet, we skipped writing a letter to Santa at the schoolhouse, however it is a must try for next year.

We soon made our way into the line for Santa and only had to wait a few minutes for our turn. Betty always claims to be ready to meet him until it is actually her turn, at which point she very clearly wants nothing to do with the poor guy. So no Santa pic this round. But, I was able to snap a photo of my favorite cousin duo scoping out the pioneer home while waiting in line.

We saved the best part (personal opinion) for last, the petting zoo!!!! I’m about 98% sure if we would have tried the petting zoo first, other activities would have received zero attention and no participation.

There were donkeys, piglets, bunnies, goats, llamas, chickens, and even fluffy little puppies! I’m sure I left some off the list, but it is not my fault I was totally overwhelmed by their cuteness. All of the animals were well behaved. Only one of our group members, got poo on their shoe.  one out of five isn’t too bad. The puppies completely stole the show for me. So soft, fluffy, and friendly. Both girls gently pet each animal and had smiles as big as their faces would allow.

After sanitizing our hands we regrouped and headed toward the exit. Only to find the fox and the crow jammin’ out along the path. Our little ladies immediately started dancing their tiny hearts out. Unfortunately, we caught the tail end of the song and a break was announced. The band noticed how crushed our tiny princesses were and suddenly a Christmas miracle occurred, the singer asked if they’d like to hear Jingle Bells! Of course they did, so it was played specially for them and the dance party continued just a little bit longer, which made our entire night.

We passed snack and hot cocoa vendors on the way out, and decided on chips & queso from Fuego, before venturing back inside the museum. Fun fact: Betty loves chips & queso above most other foods, and requests it at every restaurant we go to.

There was no chance of making it all the way to the car without these two stopping to check out the enormous Christmas tree in the lobby. So we had a mini photo shoot and let the girls explore the beautiful ornaments. This was such a wonderful experience, I cannot wait to see what next year’s version is like. Fingers crossed everyone is in good health next year and the whole family can enjoy it.