A Family Outing: The National Aquarium (Baltimore)

Hello, blog! I missed you.

Want to visit the National Aquarium? To start with I want to point out that the National Aquarium is in Baltimore, not DC. I’ve run across quite a few people who were unaware of this. There USED TO BE a national aquarium in DC, but it closed in 2013 for renovations, and many of the exhibits were moved to Baltimore, which isn’t much further away.

Big J, Little J and I visited the aquarium a couple of months ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting about our visit. I’ve been so busy with work. My new job is going very well, but before I was considered a “qualified” instructor who could teach on her own, I had to personalize more than 30 master lesson plans (each lesson plan ranges from 1 lecture to 11 lectures) and pass two performance evaluations. Normally, new instructors will have three performance evaluations, but because of my previous teaching experience and skill, my department head decided I didn’t need the middle one…woohoo! Anyway, I’m now qualified, so I’m not bringing work home at night and on the weekends quite as much. I have time to blog!

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The view of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from the National Aquarium

So back to the aquarium… We visited a couple of weeks before the infamous Baltimore riots, but from what I understand, things are back to usual in the Inner Harbor, and the aquarium wasn’t damaged.

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Things to know: Tickets to the aquarium aren’t cheap. If you live in the area and plan on going a few times a year, I recommend looking into a membership. Ticket also sell out, and the aquarium has a timed entry system, so I’d buy tickets ahead of time online. Currently, tickets for kids 3-11 are $24.95, and tickets for kids/adults 12-64 are $39.95. Senior tickets are $3 off the regular admission price. As you can see, the aquarium can be a little expensive!

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You also need to factor in parking. There are parking garages and lots all over the Inner Harbor, and the prices vary wildly too. I would expect to pay anywhere from $15-25 in parking for your aquarium visit, but it’s possible you could find a cheaper rate, depending on the season and day of the week. We chose the aquarium’s official parking partner, Lockwood Place, because of its proximity. It’s about half a block away from the aquarium. The parking garage offers a small discount (I believe it was $2 or $3 for us) to aquarium visitors. You need to take your parking ticket with you and get it validated at the aquarium, after you park.

Once you get inside the aquarium, it’s important to note that strollers aren’t allowed. I did see one stroller, but it had a handicap tag fixed to it. The aquarium is designed in a way that people stand on conveyor belts that move you up and in between the tanks. I’ve read elsewhere that the aquarium offers a limited number of baby carriers, but I’ve never needed to take advantage of this. There is a stroller check when you first come in.

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This was actually our second time at the aquarium. The first time we visited, Little J was Baby J…only about two months old. I had a baby carrier with already, so we just checked the stroller downstairs, and I carried him through the exhibits. This time, I just let him walk around, since he’s a “big boy” (almost 3).

There is a small cafe, but we haven’t had issues bringing in a few snacks and water.

About the aquarium: It’s awesome! Okay, I have to admit that Hubby is not impressed, but I really don’t understand why. I love the layout. It’s a tall building, and you just keep going up and up and up, and looking down into the tanks. The view is fantastic. Then when you get to the top, you can take a spiraling ramp all the way down, and the ramp is surrounded by a circular shark tank that is stories high. How is that not cool??

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Little J LOVED it. I thought he would get tired, but he didn’t. I guess it’s really not too much walking for a little guy. Just a couple of weeks after our last visit, a new interactive exhibit was opened, so I’m planning on going back later this year. I think Little J would love to pet a crab!

I think the pictures speak for themselves, but the architecture and set up of this place is amazing. If you’re in the area and have a chance, I recommend visiting the National Aquarium!

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What is your favorite aquarium to visit? Have you been to the National Aquarium?

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A Craigslist Hunt: The Sandbox

Sandbox Fun

Lately I’ve been all about Craigslist. Now that Little J is getting older, summer is coming, and we finally have a big, fenced-in backyard, I’ve been on the hunt for outside toys. Since Little J is an only child, I really wanted toys that he could happily play with by himself. We used to live about 15 minutes from the beach, and whenever we went, Little J would just sit and play for hours in the sand. So now that we live at least 45 minutes from the closest beach, a sandbox seemed like the perfect summer toy!

Oh, I should mention that I briefly flip-flopped between getting a sandbox and a sand table, but I ultimately I decided Little J would love to actually sit in the sand while playing.

I considered buying a sandbox brand new, but I wasn’t thrilled with the prices. I get that it’s an investment that you can be used by several children over several years…but I just wasn’t happy paying $50-90 for what is essentially a shallow plastic tub.

I found this sandbox for just under $30 at Kmart, but from the photos it looks a little smaller than what I wanted. I also considered building a wood sandbox, but I’m already planning on building raised planters for my garden and really don’t want to take on another project.

Using a plastic kiddie pool is another option, but a sandbox lid is a must to keep out the ickies and neighborhood animals. The blog Mama To Three Chicks has a great post about making a washable fabric lid for a kiddie pool sandbox. I also read another blogger’s post (and I wish I could remember where exactly I read it, to give the blogger credit!) who used two different sized plastic kiddie pools for a sandbox. The smaller pool was the sandbox and the larger kiddie pool was placed over top as a cover. When not being used as a cover, the larger pool can be filled with water. Then your kiddo can have a sandbox and a pool to play in at the same time.

The only issue I was having with the kiddie pool option is the scarcity of plastic pools! All the pools I’ve seen in stores are inflatable. I’m guessing it’s because it’s cheaper for companies to make inflatable pools. Anyway, I have had a couple of leads on stores that are selling the plastic kiddie pools, but driving around this area and visiting multiple stores to find a $10-15 plastic pool just isn’t how I want to spend my time.

In the meantime, I’ve noticed used plastic sandboxes with lids regularly going for $15-25 on Craigslist. As long as they’re in good condition, it seemed like buying one used was the most sensible option for me.

This time of year, used sandboxes are getting listed on Craigslist almost every single day. I’ve seen prices from free all the way up to $50, depending on the brand, model, and condition of the sandbox. Sounds great, right? Buuuut they go fast. I mean, really fast. I can email someone 30 mins after their posted, and the sandbox is already gone. The only ones that stick around are overpriced.

So I set up an email alert for “sandbox,” and decided on the model I wanted (Step 2 Naturally Playful sandbox), how much I was willing to pay, and how far away I was willing to drive to pick it up. Within two weeks, I had Little J’s “new” sandbox!

I filled it with five bags of play sand from Home Depot, and Little J played for hours straight. The sandbox is plenty big enough for him to use for several years. Including the price of the new play sand, Little J’s “new” sandbox cost just under $50. If I’d bought the same one brand new plus the sand, it would have been about $113. I’d call this Craigslist hunt a success!

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Little J is ecstatic over the play sand!
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The sandbox is ready to go.
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He loves this box! The center of the lid goes up high enough that all of Little J’s toys easily fit inside.

 

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CLOSED Giveaway: Geleeo Cooling Gel Stroller Pad, 6/5-6/19

Welcome to the Geleeo Cooling Gel Stroller Pad Giveaway!
Hosted by Mommys Craft Obsession and Sponsored by Geleeo!
Photo Credits: Geleeo

Geleeo was designed by a mom who was ready for her daughter to be cooler while in her stroller. Annoyed with the lack of cooling options available and the impracticality of ice pads in in her daughters stroller, she sought out to create a product that would be practical and convenient for moms on the go. After years of research, she discovered a proprietary cooling gel that required no refrigeration and she was determined to create a stroller pad that would keep her daughter, and children all over the world, cooler while in their strollers.

Geleeo is a ground breaking new product that has arrived just in time for summer! This revolutionary stroller pad keeps your child cooler without the need of refrigeration of the product thanks to a hydrogel inside the pad that stays cooler than its surrounding environment. Geleeo is a reusable pad that will keep your child cooler on a daily basis, so whether you’re out for your daily stroller, visiting the local zoo, or taking a family vacation, Geleeo will make sure your little one always has a cool body temperature while they’re in their stroller! To learn more about this innovative technology, head on over to the review at Mommys Craft Obsession!
Geleeo is designed to fit all toddler strollers and is available in two colors – blue and pink! Not a huge fan of blue or pink? No problem! Geleeo is also reversible to offer a light gray color as well!

To Purchase:  Geleeo is available in various retailers and online retailers across the U.S. as well as in some worldwide countries. To get a full list of retailers, click here!

To Win: Geleeo and Mommys Craft Obsession have teamed up to give one lucky winner a Geleeo Cooling Gel Stroller Pad in their choice of color! Enter the giveaway form below for your chance to win!

 

The Giveaway will close late on the evening of June 19th. The winner will be chosen at random through  Giveaway Tools. The winner will be announced both on Giveaway Tools form as well as notified by email and announced on MCO’s Facebook. Winner must respond within 48 hours of receiving their winner’s email otherwise they will forfeit their prize and a new winner will be chosen. The winner will have their prize sent to them by Geleeo. Mommys Craft Obsession and other participating bloggers are not responsible for prize shipment. Must be 18 years and older. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google are in no way affiliated with this giveaway. No Purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited by law. US Only. For any questions contact Mommys Craft Obsession. Mommys Craft Obsession did receive compensation or product in exchange for the promotion of this event. 
My Life: A Work in Progress was not compensated for this post.
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