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.