The Thinkery ATX

Waco is only a short hour(ish) drive from Austin, and since I lived in the area for almost ten years I jumped at the opportunity to accompany Nonnie there on one of her work trips. Catching up with friends and visit all of the cool and interesting places Austin has specifically for tiny humans, is what got me so excited to go. Our first stop was at the Austin Aquarium (read all about it here,) and on our last day we went to the Thinkery. The Thinkery is a children’s museum spanning 40,000-square-feet in the Mueller community, it is situated across from a playground and grassy area perfect for a picnic in the sun. I first became aware of the Thinkery while volunteering with the Junior League of Austin, which is a women’s organization promoting volunteerism and building leadership skills. 

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Our family membership with the Mayborn Museum got us free entry at the Thinkery through their affiliate program (the membership covers up to four people over the age of three.) The super friendly girl at the front desk asked the babes ages and suggested we start on the top floor and work our way down. After parking the stroller and having a quick snack downstairs, we rode the elevator to the top and started exploring. Betty led the way finding a pretend chicken coop, grocery store, and kitchen. The littles each picked out eggs from the chicken coop and walked them to the grocery store, grabbed baskets and quickly started loading them with faux food. Filling and emptying the baskets had to be the most fun as they did this several times before heading to the kitchen area to show off their chef skills. 

groceries at the Thinkery, ATX

Betty is a dress kinda gal, normally trying to get her into shorts or a pant of any style is like a battle royal and more often than not one of us ends up crying. However, I knew the Thinkery was a very hands on and active environment so although we could make it work it in a dress, I figured it would be way easier for her to maneuver if she agreed to something less formal. After some convincing she put on her new mint bummies, a simple black t-shirt, black sneakers and one of her signature B3 bows (don’t forget you can use her discount code: Betty when shopping their site) this way she would be able to play with less restrictions than a skirt or dress.  To my surprise she was diggin’ the look and feeling very confident in this outfit! Making my Mama heart so happy. 

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On the opposite side of the second floor is an area with a giant water table. This section  was easily Bobby’s favorite of the entire visit, he’d still be there right now splashing away if I’d let him. Barely tall enough to play in the water he gave it his all. Betty loved it too but did not enjoy being wet. She liked splashing and playing but afterward didn’t like actually having damp clothes on. There were all kinds of scoops, bowls, floating toys and even contraptions hanging from the ceiling. These contraptions (I’m sure there is a title for them on a sign somewhere) allow for a steady drip of water to flow from them. I showed the babes that we could fill up one of the bowls or start a beat by placing drums in just the right spot under the drip. They were intrigued for a bit and even re-arranged the items a little, but quickly went back to splashing and throwing things into the water. We were lucky enough that the area had cleared out a little and we were only sharing with 2-3 other kids.

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Bobby’s outfit of the day is our new favorite t-shirt reading straight up mama’s boy (get yours here and be sure to use bobby’s discount code: BB10 to save) comfy grey play shorts, and a pair of vans. this outfit was super easy to move and play in. He was able to toddle around and almost kept up with his big sister. You would think all the action in the splash area would have tired these little guys out but no, not even close. 

We made our way downstairs and found a neat little area full of random stuff, most likely activities above their appropriate age range but we tried our best. In this area we discovered floating balls, magnets, all kinds of cords and supplies for building and engineering. The babes really liked the fan shooting scarfs up into the air. We also played in a designated two and under play box that kept my babes giggling for what felt like hours. Eventually we made our way over to the light and shadow room, Betty had so much fun in there! There is a similar room at one of our favorite play spots in Waco – Little Land, so she knew just what to do. She grabbed pegs that lit up as she slid them into the peg board, and began filling up as many holes as she could. Her entire section was nearly full as Bobby came to “help” by pulling all of her pegs back out.  This room was empty the entire time we were in there, giving a very VIP feel as I was expecting it to be a mad house. 

img_20200306_144127-1693736019964114753.jpgimg_20200306_144133_mp-15906089597823197710.jpgBy this time I started noticing both toddlers were starting to slow their pace. So we headed toward the stroller parking, however Betty found a small area under the stairs that she dubbed the “rainbow room” large pieces of colored plastic caught sun and showered the hallway with a bright rainbow of colors. Betty spent the last ten to fifteen minuets running (mermaid in hand) through the colors with the biggest smile on her face I’ve ever seen. img_20200306_1457184736145642911882119.jpgI usually get anxious taking my littles to big attractions like the Thinkery. I almost expect big kids to run them over, but we hit it mid day and most of the field trips were headed to the park for lunch when we arrived. The bathrooms were clean and the nursing station a dream. Honestly it was a magical way to finish up our mini trip. Betty and Bobby were both asleep before we left the parking garage and didn’t wake up until we arrived safely at home. I definitely recommend a visit to the Thinkery if you find yourself in the area.  

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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