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. 

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.  

St. Patrick’s Day

wp-15845090216958360990222004624962.jpgI am the cheesy Mom that is always trying to make things fun and exciting for the babes, especially holidays. St. Patrick’s day is no exception, even with a pandemic happening all around us. We started the day by reading The Itsy Bitsy Leprechaun by Jeffrey Burton.

Mom's lucky charm

But is it even a holiday if Mom doesn’t dress you in something festive?! Bobby geared up in a Mommy’s lucky charm, hand-me-down tee from Old Navy, distressed jeans, and checkered sneakers. Betty chose a sparkly monogram tee, velvet green bummies & matching bow (don’t forget to use code Betty when shopping their site) and Black dragon scale T-straps

It was a perfect 77 degrees with lots of sunshine so naturally, we headed outside to hunt for leprechauns and hopefully find some gold or a four leaf clover. Although our efforts were unsuccessful it was a good time filled with lots of giggles.

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All that running around wore us out and after about an hour we headed inside for nap. My little lad & lassy woke up fully rested and ready for more fun. We went straight to the kitchen and made rainbow cupcakes, added some sprinkles, and then took them to the pool to enjoy in the sun. After lounging for a bit we thought the best way to finish our St. Patrick’s day fun was by chasing bubbles until Dad got home from work.wp-1584509058936898096283559414925.jpg

We are already homebodies so the social distancing hasn’t put too much change in our routine. Normally on beautiful days we would run around the zoo, park, or meet up with friends. Due to Betty & I having a cough plus sneezing (no fevers thank goodness) we decided it would be best if we did all the fun things here at home on our own. Even without the threat of a world wide virus, we intentionally stay away from other people when feeling icky.  Holidays are really only as fun as you want them to be. Although it wasn’t a fancy or grand celebration, we had a total blast.wp-15845090887094859583656221857568.jpg

 

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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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.