Family-Friendly Fun in Austin

With MommyCon Austin fast approaching, you’re probably trying to shape together your plans for the weekend. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to take a dip, go for a family hike, or beat the heat with indoor fun, there is plenty of family-friendly fun in Austin! Here are a few ideas to add to your itinerary:

 

Deep Eddy Pool
401 Deep Eddy Drive, Austin TX 78703
Do your kids love to swim? They’ll LOVE the Deep Eddy Pool! And it just so happens that the Deep Eddy Splash Party Movie Night is at 8 p.m. on Saturday June 25! Enjoy watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens from the pool or pack a picnic and watch the movie from the hill. What a perfect way to relax after all the fun at MommyCon!

Family Fun in Austin | sharonisamom.com

Zilker Park
2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin TX 78746
There is something for everyone at Zilker Park! Let the kids run around the playground, take them for a stroll around the Botanical Garden, or check out the Austin Nature & Science Center. If you need to cool off, bring your swimsuits and sunscreen and stop by the Barton Springs Pool! The pool is fed from underground springs and is a popular spot for summer fun in Austin.

Texas State Capitol
1100 Congress Ave, Austin TX 78701
First time in Austin? A visit to the Texas State Capitol is a must! They offer free 30-minute guided tours throughout the day, with new tours starting every 20-30 minutes. This is a great option for history-lovers or anyone with older kids. If you don’t have time for a guided tour, take a self-guided tour and explore the beautiful building that dates back to the late 1800s. Be sure to check out the kid-friendly interactive exhibits at the Texas Capitol Visitor Center (located on the southeast corner of the grounds)- there’s something for everyone to love there, with lots of fun to be had!

The Thinkery
1830 Simond Ave, Austin TX 78723
Families and science play side-by-side at the Thinkery Children’s Museum. Saturday and Sunday, kids 4-7 and 8 and up can create their own art robots in the Space 8 Maker Labs. If you’re still in town Monday, bring the little ones in for Baby Bloomers (9 a.m. to noon): arts and crafts, singing, storytime and more- perfect for kids 3 & under! Check out their calendar for more fun events.

Mayfield Nature Preserve
3505 W. 35th St, Austin TX 78703
Care to take the kids on an adventure? The Mayfield Nature Preserve is a great spot for a family hike and picnic. The hike is about a mile, is mostly shaded and easy for beginners and young children. There is a creek that runs through the preserve and one side of the preserve is bordered by Lake Austin. Peacocks roam freely on the grounds- what a fun sight for the kiddos! From here, you can also climb to the top of Mount Bonnell (the highest point in the city) to get a great view of Austin- photo op!

Family Fun in Austin: Mural Tour | sharonisamom.comMurals of Austin, Texas
Because you can’t leave Austin without taking some great selfies in front of these famous murals… Jeremiah the Innocent, “i love you so much,” Butter Half and more- this list has them, tells you where to find them and even where to park. Score!

There is so much fun family-friendly things to do while you’re in Austin, this is only the tip of the iceberg! You may also want to check out the Austin Zoo, Mt. Playmore, and there are tons of pools and splash pads to beat the heat as well. Squeeze in all the fun you can, and enjoy your time in Austin! See you at MommyCon!

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MommyCon Austin Lineup: Get Excited!

MommyCon is only a few weeks away! Haven’t heard of MommyCon before? Check out my previous post all about this awesome, natural-parenting convention here. MommyCon Austin will be on June 25th (VIP sessions on the 24th), but make sure to check out the other cities MommyCon is coming to in 2016 to find one that’s closest to you. Breastfeeding, babywearing, birth, cloth diapering and more: if any of those make you do a little happy dance on the inside when you read them, you’d love MommyCon! Find out more on their website at mommy-con.com, and use code SHARONISAMOM16 to save $5 on your general admission ticket.

MommyCon Austin 2016 schedule | sharonisamom.com

On to the juicy details! The official schedule for MommyCon Austin is out, and I’ve been debating which sessions I want to go to. This was a tough one! There were so many great options, and I love the variety in topics being covered at this year’s conference. You can check out the full schedule above to plan out your day, but I wanted to go ahead and share with you a few that I’m really excited about! Without further ado…

MommyCon Austin 2016 schedule | sharonisamom.comWrapping 101 with MOBY and Tekhni Wovens: OK, I’ll admit. I am not a babywearing expert. In fact, it takes me approximately eight minutes to spell Tekhni and double-check three times that I spelled it right. I’m alright at babywearing, but I’m not one of those super-talented babywearing gurus who innately know how to wrap and tie all the carriers a million different ways. That being said, that’s one reason I want to go to this session! I feel like it’s an area I could use a little help in to gain some babywearing skills and confidence. I use my Sakura Bloom ring sling and the Ergo Performance buckle carrier on a regular basis. But I’ve never tried a woven wrap. I figured I needed to add that to my repertoire to level up to a babywearing ninja (because why not?). I heard a lot of moms on the Facebook discussion page were excited about the Tekhni VIP session, so I hopped on the bandwagon and signed up for that one too. Plus you get to take home your very own Tekhni woven wrap at the VIP session, so that makes it worth the price, easy!

What Love Tastes Like with The Leaky Boob: this lady is my hero. I didn’t even have to read the description. Saw “The Leaky Boob” and knew immediately that I wanted to add this one to my list! She is like the rainbow unicorn of the breastfeeding world. Check her out on Instagram, Facebook and all that jazz. You won’t regret it! Also check out her Feed the Baby VIP session on Friday the 24th.

Cloth Diapering 101 with Jenn Labit presented by Cotton Babies: We use cloth diapers and love it! When I was pregnant I had read about the many benefits of using cloth (saving money, good for the environment, less problems with diaper rash, an average earlier potty training age, etc). Anyway, despite the fact that we’ve been using cloth diapers for about a year, I still feel there’s some good info I could take home from this session. Looking forward to learning more about cloth diapers!

Why Body Positive Images for Mothers is Paramount by Moby Wrap: I could go on and on about this one. Coming to terms with and loving your new post-baby body can be hard. As vain as it sounds, that was one of my main concerns before we started this journey. I worked hard to get my body to where it was pre-pregnancy, and I was sad to think that it would never be the same. I’m sure many moms can relate to the sense of your body not feeling like your own body anymore. It’s different. But different doesn’t have to mean bad. I think we could all benefit from giving ourselves a little forgiveness when it comes to our bodies after baby. The female body is an incredible thing. Growing and giving birth to a baby is nothing short of amazing. Let’s focus more on that feat and celebrating each and stop looking at ourselves under a harsh microscope and worrying how we measure up to our former selves or to others.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, friends! There are so many great sessions to choose from, mamas! Next on the blog I’ll share some of my top picks for places to eat and family-friendly fun to check out while you’re in Austin for MommyCon!

MommyCon Giveaway

MommyCon Austin is only one month away! It is going to be my first MommyCon, and I could not be more excited! The general sessions are on Saturday June 25, and VIP sessions are on Friday June 24th. I am practically chasing my tail with all the excitement, and I am so happy that I get to be a part of the MommyCon blogging team as well!

MommyCon Growing together
Is this not the coolest graphic ever?? I am obsessed!

First off, what is MommyCon? It’s a convention series all about natural, gentle parenting. I’ll be going to the one in Austin, but MommyCon will also be in many other cities across the nation. With many awesome speakers on the lineup, the biggest focus will be on birth, breastfeeding, babywearing and cloth diapering. In other words: all the crunchy-mama things I love! So of course I am going!

MommyCon 2016 | sharonisamom.com

Tickets are only $45, but you can use code SHARONISAMOM16 to get $5 off your ticket.

MommyCon will be a great opportunity to connect with other like-minded mamas, moms-to-be (and dads too!), discuss, learn, and grow together. AKA build your tribe! This will be a great opportunity to make some new friends. One thing I love most about motherhood is the friendships I’ve made. Parenting can be tough at times, but it’s great having friends to talk to and laugh with who are going through the same things as you and understand where you’re coming from.

MommyCon swag | sharonisamom.com
Here’s an example @itstheaveragejo shared on Instagram of the general admission swag bag she got at MommyCon Chicago. Swag will be different city-to-city, but I love seeing examples!

Oh, and the swag. How have I not mentioned all the glorious swag you’ll get to take home?? You get a bag full of cool baby gear with your general admission ticket. If you sign up for additional VIP sessions too, you’ll get even more swag to take home from each VIP session you attend as well. I won’t lie. I was up until 3:15 a.m. one night pouring over MommyCon hashtags on Instagram and drooling over the loot ladies went home with. PLUS each event ends with $10,000 worth of giveaways! Yes, I too am gawking at that number on my computer screen. You may want to pick your jaw back up off the floor at some point though!

MommyCon giveaway | sharonisamom.comNow for what you’ve all been waiting for… I’m giving away TWO tickets to MommyCon Austin! Head over to my Instagram (@sharonisamom) for your chance to win. The giveaway will close at 11:59 p.m. on June 3, so make sure to get your name in the drawing! Good luck, mamas!

For more info on MommyCon, check out their website at mommy-con.com.

Ellis Turns One!

It has been a busy couple of months! We sold our house and moved in with the in-laws in late February, stayed there for five weeks and moved again into our new home in early April. Still unpacking and settling in, but we love our new home! Ellis just turned one a few days ago, and we enjoyed having everyone over for his Star-Wars themed birthday party. He was born on Star Wars Day (May 4th), so this was the obvious party theme. I spent plenty of time researching party ideas on Pinterest and ended up using a couple (saving some ideas for next year, as we didn’t end up having time to get to all of it this time around lol). We had a Darth Vader piñata, and I made light saber bubble wands for party favors. Ellis was spoiled and got lots of great gifts from friends and family.

One year update | sharonisamom.com
I can’t believe this little man is ONE already!!

One-year update:

We haven’t been to the pediatrician yet for official numbers on height and weight, so I’ll have to add that update later. Ellis has 7 teeth, and the 8th should be here any minute now too (I see it, it just hasn’t quite cut through the gums yet!). He is a busy, busy boy, always getting into things (and learning new things to get into every day it seems lol). Babyproofing the cabinets is next on our list! He likes to lift the lid on the diaper pail and put things in there or take things out. Same with the trash can and recycling can. Found his frozen teething toy in the recycling last night, in fact lol. He likes getting into the cabinets under the sink and pulling out my makeup brushes one-by-one, then he puts them in his mouth and crawls around with them. If I try to stand in front of the cabinets to block him, he still pulls at them furiously and cries at me. Seriously, babyproofing the cabinets needs to happen likerightnow.

He still mostly crawls around and cruises along (walking as he holds along the furniture). Over the last month though he’s been standing by himself (not holding onto anything) more and more often and for longer periods of time. Right after he turned 11 months he even started taking his first steps (4 or 5 in a row). Anything is a push toy if you put your mind to it! He loves pushing around our chairs and bar stools in the kitchen and rearranging the furniture lol.

He is very talkative, although his only real words right now are “mama” and “dada.” He has gotten much better around new people, and he’s always the flirt when we’re at a 08-22-14-12-25-26_YouLingerie_Ad_1_300x250restaurant or out shopping. He’s such a cutie, full of smiles and personality. He’s learned how toys/games work, and now he plays with things differently. It’s like a little light switch flipped on, and now he’s figured these things out. I love seeing him concentrate and watching those little gears in his brain turning. His bucket of shape sorters, for example, he used to just enjoy dumping them out them putting them in his mouth and crawling around with it. Now he has started to put them INTO the bucket. And his stacking rings/donuts, he used to grab and crawl around with, and now he’s learned to stack them on the stick/base. He got a cool wooden toy (Melissa & Doug Pound and Roll Tower) for his birthday, and he figured out right away how to push/hit the balls in the holes, watch it roll down and come out, grab the ball, and put it back in the top to do it again.

He still loves his jumper, and we use our awesome swing on the occasion he has trouble falling back to sleep during the night (he usually falls asleep nursing no problem though). He loves fruit, especially strawberries, apples and pears.

One Year Update | sharonisamom.com
Playing with one of the bubble wand light sabers from his birthday party

We’re still doing all that crunchy stuff too. Still in cloth diapers, and he wears his Baltic amber teething necklace all the time. We still co-sleep some (he starts out the night in his crib next to our bed, and he usually ends up sleeping in our bed after he wakes up during the night to nurse. Most nights he wakes 1-2 times during the night to nurse, although there was one night that he slept through the night (it was amazing lol). I’m sure he’ll start sleeping through the night on a more regular basis eventually, but we’ll let him get there on his own terms.

We made it to the big 1-year mark for breastfeeding, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be stopping anytime soon either. The World Health Organization recommends 2 years, so that’s the next big goal. No need to rush/wean him until he’s ready. I’m so amazed at how far we’ve come on this journey, and I am proud that we never had to supplement with formula, and I was even able to donate breastmilk for a couple of babies in need over the last year.

Ellis turns one | sharonisamom.com

We’ve still been enjoying taking him to Babygarten classes at the library every week, where we sing nursery rhymes, read books, play and do crafts. We’ll keep doing those this summer too. Planning on doing some baby sign language classes and swim lessons next month too. And when I find the time, I need to plan our summer vacation (Portland).

And we’re making another trip to Austin in June for MommyCon (woo-hoo!). It’s all about gentle/natural parenting and birth, all good crunchy mama things. Tickets are only $45 (it’s on June 25), but you can use code SHARONISAMOM16 to get $5 off your ticket. Would love to see you there! Keep an eye out on the blog for more details on MommyCon. Can’t wait!

10 month update

It’s been a while! The last two months have been a real whirlwind of change for us. Since we’re down to one income right now, we had to sell the house and downsize. I’ve been out of work since December, and we put the house on the market at the end of October. It was slow over the holidays with showings, but it picked back up in January, and we accepted an offer near the end of January and closed on our house a month later. Since then we’ve been staying with the in-laws until we close on our new home. We’ll be staying with the in-laws for 5 weeks before we are able to move in April 3. The same weekend we’re moving we’ll also be taking Ellis for his first road trip to San Antonio for a wedding. Lordy! Wish us luck. All of that to say we have been busy, busy!

10 month update | sharonisamom.com
My little man is getting so big!

Ellis is now 10 months old. Can’t believe we will be celebrating his first birthday party in less than two months!! Speaking of birthday parties, have you seen the adorable parties some kids have? I know my sister-in-law is something of a party wizard. My niece’s birthday parties had the best decorations, and EVERYTHING matches the theme. Stuff I wouldn’t even think of. I am just not that talented. She had a Frozen birthday party one year, and I thought to myself, “Jeez! My wedding won’t even look this pulled-together!” And my sweet friend Catherine threw her baby girl a wonderful first birthday party a couple months ago, and everything was so cute. There were even fun activities for the kids and a photo op! The pressure is real. Don’t go getting your hopes up from me though lol. Ellis was born on Star Wars Day (May 4), so at least we have a theme down. Like forever lol. Still have to figure it all out though…

Ellis is doing better and better with solids every day. He’s been eating two solid meals a day plus a snack, and we are working on this week increasing to three solid meals a day plus snacks. We are still doing baby-led weaning. We give him purees sometimes too, but mostly he’d rather have food that he can grab and feed himself. He’s tried a lot of new foods, and we’re starting to ease him into eating more of what we eat too. Some new things he has tried: spaghetti, avocado on sprouted grain toast, dairy-free yogurt with chia seeds mixed in, pineapple, pear, eggplant, butternut squash… Finding so many great BLW meal ideas on Pinterest too. Thinking we’ll try and make the spinach oatmeal pancakes for him this week!

At 10 months, Ellis is crawling all over the place. He is always on the move! He cruises all the time and climbs. Sometimes while he’s preoccupied with putting a toy in his mouth, he doesn’t realize he’s standing on his own. He’ll stand there for about 10 seconds before realizing and sinking back down to crawl again. We think he’ll be walking soon! He is always getting into stuff, whether he’s trying to get to the dog water/food or opening cabinets and taking my makeup brushes out. He just cut two more teeth up top a couple weeks ago, so now he has 6 teeth!

He’s so bright, and I love to see him learn “new tricks.” He waves, claps, high fives, says “mama” and signs for milk. Sign language is great to enable babies to communicate with us better when their oral vocabulary isn’t quite there yet, especially for babies 8 months to 2 years.

This little man has changed our lives so much. I love getting to be his mama. He is such a sweet baby boy. Don’t know how we got to be so lucky! He is growing up so fast already. Looking forward to seeing what his future holds! He makes us smile every day.

Boob & Baby review and giveway

It’s time for another product review and giveaway! This week I got to try Boob and Baby’s Boob Butter. This nipple cream is truly a godsend for new mamas. Those first few weeks of breastfeeding can be excruciating on sore, cracked nipples, and using a nipple cream every time you nurse is a must if you want to make it through this with nipples intact.

Boob & Baby review and giveaway | sharonisamom.com

Back in my early days of breastfeeding, I was given lanolin (Lansinoh and Medela brands), and it wasn’t until later that I realized what it’s made of, and that it’s not vegan-friendly. Aside from that, it was sticky and smelled funny.

The boob butter on the other hand feels quite luxurious: goes on smooth and doesn’t stink. Plus I don’t have to feel bad about the ingredients! It is lanolin, shea and beeswax-free and vegan-friendly (yay!).

The 1 oz jar will last you quite a bit too. Even if you’re using it every time you breastfeed, it’ll last you about 2-3 weeks.

As some of you may remember, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to pump more, so I could donate more breastmilk to babies in need. I’ve added the boob butter to my pump bag. I rub some on before I pump, as it makes for a great lubricant. I highly recommend this to maximize your pumping output!

If you find yourself with any boob butter left over, you can also use it for chapped lips, stretch marks, pregnant belly itching, diaper rash (it IS cloth-diaper friendly too!) and windburn. Wish I had this after my race in November! Poor Ellis came to cheer me on, and even though we bundled him up in the stroller, the 25 mph winds that day left his little cheeks with windburn. Boob butter would have been a perfect fix! The ingredients soothe and heal skin great. I’ve even tried it as a tattoo moisturizer! Great for healing new tattoos or as everyday moisturizer to keep tattoos bright and vibrant.

I’ll be giving away Boob Butter to one lucky mama on my Instagram, so make sure to tag your breastfeeding friends or anyone you know who’s expecting! It’d also make a GREAT baby shower gift. Score 10% off your order with code LETDOWN! Giveaway ends Sunday, January 31st, and winners will be announced on Monday February 1. Good luck, mamas!

Top 6 Toys That Are Not Toys

Scrolling around on Instagram the other day, I came across a hashtag that made me laugh, because it was so true. So I decided I needed to dedicate an entire blog post to share all of Ellis’s favorite #toysthatarenottoys! Here we go…

  1. Harley’s water bowl: So gross. If we don’t have the baby gate up, this is the first thing he crawls to. He’s so determined to get over there and stick his hand in that water bowl. It’s like he’s on a mission… to collect as much germs and doggie cooties as possible.
  2. Doorstopper: When he’s crawling around the bathroom, this is his favorite spot to sit. There are two doorstoppers so close: one on the bathroom door, the other on the linen closet. He happily plops in front of it and flicks it, drinking in every delicious second of that BOOOOOIIING sound.
  3. Paper: I’d like to think he likes paper, because deep down, he’s a reader. Just eager to soak in every bit of literature he can get his hands on. But he really just wants to grab it and put it in his mouth, of course. My husband actually found a bit of paper in his poopy diaper once. “It was blue ink. It had the letter ‘B,’” he told me. Perhaps he’s trying to make diaper changes more fun by making it into a game, trying to spell something out for us.
    Top 6 Toys That Are Not Toys | sharonisamom.com
  4. The green plastic piece behind the lion in his jumper: I wish there was an easier way to describe this one, but I’m afraid there’s not. Ellis is not amused enough by all the built-in toys on his jumper. Nope. The first thing he goes for is that green piece of plastic behind the lion. He reaches behind him, pulls it out, waves it in the air with a victorious shout, puts it in his mouth and throws it on the ground. Every. Time.
  5. Shoes: He is even so bold as to snatch them right off your feet. He’ll move them around and hide them. Sometimes he tries to carry it around in his mouth like a dog toy and crawls off with it.
  6. Vacuum cleaner: Ellis has always loved the vacuum. In the early days we’d play the vacuum cleaner noise on our phones to lull him back to sleep. Now he likes to crawl up to the vacuum to stand up. Our nephew was tasked with babysitting one day. He asked what he should do if he starts crying. “Vacuum?” he asked. I told him yes, Ellis would love it if you’d vacuum. He also loves it when you do the dishes and clean the bathrooms. Worth a try, right?

He also loves cellphones and remotes, and I’m sure there are things missing from this list that Ellis will remind me of later. What are your kid’s favorite toys that are not toys?