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Life in DFW

My life as a wife and mom in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and all things fun about it!

Filtering by Tag: what to do in irving

Library-Hopping Around Irving

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

The older the kiddo, the busier the momma. I can't believe I use think that the newborn phase was the craziest! When I look back now, I realize that newborns are probably the easiest to handle. Why? Because they sleep all the time! All you need to do is nurse them, put them in your baby-carrier, and they'd fall right back to a deep sleep. But toddlers? Dang! You gotta teach them stuff, take them to parks, run around with them, I'm talking about actual mothering here! :p Oh well, that's what we're called to do right when we signed up for this right? So yeah, I am always looking for something to do with J outside our apartment nowadays, so he could be positively stimulated, taught, and entertained. And what better place to do that at than a library, right?  



Last Monday, I decided to do a little library-hopping with my friend Roselle of the blog, InDFWto gather information about our local libraries here in Irving. Oh FYI, she lives only like 1 minute away from my apartment. So it was perfect! We carpooled and headed first to my favourite, Valley Ranch Library.


Valley Ranch Library

I personally love this library because it's connected to a coffee shop called Java Me Up. It actually has a little window through which you can order your coffee and pastry straight from the library's children area. How convenient!




I also like the natural light and the beautiful view of the canal at children's reading corner.



If you can recall, I have posted an article about their toddler storytime called 1, 2 Me & You a few months ago. We love it, because of the bubbles at the end! J also likes to pretend that he knows how to use a pc around here.




Silly J (Peppa Pig's voice). For more info and photos of Valley Ranch Library, check out this blogpost on InDFW blog!


West Irving Library

This was my first time here. I had no idea that there was an energy-efficient, solar-powered library in Irving! Opened in April 2011, West Irving Library is the 2nd newest library in Irving with the biggest PC lab in the city.




The following is a picture of the parking lot roof that is actually made of solar panels.


Yup, they are serious about energy conservation here. "With net-zero energy solution, this library actually puts energy back on the grid," explained Director Chris Dobson, who happened to be at the checkout counter when we visited the library.






The L.E.E.D-certified library might be smaller than the Valley Ranch one, but it's gorgeous! Especially the patio!



I also like the toys that kids can play with for free.




And this little lab here is also a plus for me.

They also have Mother Goose storytimes on Wednesdays (10.30 a.m.) and Family storytimes on Thursdays (7 p.m.) / Fridays (11 a.m.) held at a gorgeous round-shaped, theater-style room. Definitely worth checking out!


Next stop, the newest library in town!


South Irving Library

I can't believe this is the closest library to my apartment and yet, I haven't been here before! According to Dobson, the same architecht who designed West Irving Library is the same architect who designed this one. No wonder it has a similar look and feel! Gorgeous too!





From the time you walk into this library, you could see how modern it is. It looks like a hotel almost!


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We went straight to the second floor to check out the Kid Zone.





See the right corner with colourful pillows laid on its floor there? That's a little reading corner for you and your kiddos! And that pink-ish wall you see in the middle? Walk a little closer to see a beautiful puzzle-shaped wall that changes color.






Beautiful. J and Ezra loved it.

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Leggo station, sensory play, PC station...




and... touch screen TV!




Not to mention the view to the street and the Millennium Fountain.




Absolutely in love with this library. I'm interested in checking out their Play & Learn storytime (in partnership with YMCA) on Mondays (10.30 a.m.), Pre-school storytime on Tuesdays (10.30 a.m.), and Toddler storytime on Wednesdays (10.30 a.m.). If you're not able to make it in the morning, check out their Family storytime on Thursdays (7 p.m.).


For more info about libraries in Irving, follow them on instagram @irvinglibrary.


In between the library-hopping, we talked, stopped by chick-fil-a, and laughed together. I am grateful for this new friendship I have with the Roselle and her family. And I'm grateful for this beautiful city we live in!


Around Irving (with a Toddler) On Under $30

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

As much as I love downtown Dallas with its arts district, North Park with its shopping centers, and Lower Greenville with its hip-ness, I love Irving. I have to, it's my 'hood'! If I don't like where I live, how am I going to live at all? ;) Those who think that you always have to go to 'popular' neighborhoods to have fun are definitely wrong, not effective with their time, and probably spending too much money on gas and parking tickets (ugh, thanks downtown Dallas haha).  

Some days, I could just wake up early, take a shower, pack our lunch, and drive to gorgeous and cool places with J. But some other days, I just want to go to a place within my zip code without taking a shower. You know what I'm talking about, mothers. Sometimes you're in such a rush that you don't even have time to make breakfast and all that!


Now I love to go out with J, but I'm also on a budget here. I can't just go out everyday and eat out. So I'd like to keep the expenses of our activities next to nothing or even FREE and our meals at a total of less than $30. And in Irving, it's not that hard to do so!

Don't believe me? Just watch! *Bruno Mars voice


08.00 a.m. - BREAKFAST

JavaMe Up

Why do I love this place? Mainly because it's connected to the Irving Valley Ranch Library. It's a perfect place for me to get some breakfast or coffee/tea before taking J to a FREE storytime at the library.


They serve organic coffee and offer dairy alternatives like almond milk (yeay!). They also serve gluten-free brownies & cupcakes, mini macarons, and oatmeal.



My favorite is their breakfast specials, starting at $3.75 to $5.75 (bagels, sausage, croissant, etc)


Spacious with indoor and outdoor area. Simply cozy.



This is our favorite corner because they provide board games, magazines, and novels that you can use or read for FREE!




Hey, a mom's gotta eat.



You can get in through the main entrance or....



through an entrance at the library foyer.


*COST : bagels with cream cheese + caramel macchiato (small, no whip) + gf brownie = $11.52



10.00 a.m. - ACTIVITY

"1,2 ,Me & You" Storytime (1-2 yrs)

The storytimes at Valley Ranch Library are held on Mondays (for infants), Wednesdays, and Fridays (for 1-2 yrs). The one we go to is the Friday one.

The storytime starts at 10 .30 a.m but you gotta be here early to get a ticket (one for each person, and they run out pretty quickly!). We usually get there before 10.    The library is nice and quiet in the morning. Photos of the storytime could be found in my previous post here. They do a lot of singing, a lot of bubble-blowing, and a good amount of reading. It lasts for 30 minutes.



 11.30 a.m. - LUNCH

 LA Burger

They serve classic American comfort food with a Korean twist (or as they put it, "with Seoul" haha). Burgers with bulgogi instead of beef patties, asian-style tacos, and my favorite, K-Fries.

A friend of ours introduced this place to us, and he told us about the secret menu : Koreano!


No, no you won't find it on the Menu board, but trust me, they have it. Just ask for it.


*COST : koreano + k-fries + water = $13.00



Now by the time we finish our burgers, J would want to go home and take a nap, so I usually end my 'adventure' here. Plus, Mr. Man usually goes home at 5 and he'd expect dinner to be ready by then.


But! If your kiddo still has some energy left, take him to these following places!



The Tube

Because the summer heat is getting crazier, an indoor playground called The Tube at Irving Bible Church might be the best place to take your kiddo. It is FREE!

Or, when it gets cooler, you can definitely go to...


Victoria Park

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It's got a playground with slides and swings (pretty standard, but hey it's free, and it's bigger than Mustang Park) plus a lot of trees and a pond. I love it here, but not during summer.



If you want to get some afternoon snacks, we've got our favorite empanaderia to recommend to you!



Empa Mundo

Though with a modest interior and decor, Empa Mundo has remained "The Best of Irving" on Yelp for 4 years straight with its high quality empanadas. Serving menus like Criolla (beef, olive, raisins, and eggs), Cheesesteak, Brisket, and my favorite, GUAVA AND CHEESE, this family-owned business keeps people coming back for more even with its recent No-AC situation.


With her broken English, the owner Mrs. Miming is always eager to make you feel welcomed. She would say "Welcome, my friend! Have you been here before?" every time a person walks in. And most of the time, she would recognize the customer. She'd be like "Hey! welcome back!" :)



To our surprise though, she is actually an Indonesian too! How did she get so good at making empanadas? Well her husband is an Argentinian so she might have learned it from some family recipe.

Anyway, she treats me like her daughter , always taking the time to talk to us and giving J free empanadas and cookies without hesitation.Oh! We love her!

*COST : guava & cheese + criolla  = $5.4

* TOTAL SPENDING : $24.52 + $5.4 = $29.92


Still got more energy? Oh, please go home. Bathe your kiddo and make dinner. You got plenty of time to explore Irving tomorrow. If you want more info on what's happening in Irving, click here!

Going Back to Zero, Socially

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Moving to a new country means going back to zero, socially. You have to start over again, getting to know new people, finding the right group of friends where you can fit in, and introducing yourself over and over again. I was a big social girl years ago, always out and about somewhere in the city of Jakarta. But when I decided to focus on taking care of my baby, things have changed and I have 'withdrawn' myself from a LOT of friends, just because I felt like our lifestyles have differed in many ways (no hating, seriously). So moving here has not been that 'drastic' for me, socially. However, I still need friends! And I am determined to make friends with the locals! I do not want to be stuck making friends with only the people with the same nationality as me, the way I did when I was studying in Australia 7 years ago. It narrowed the chance of my getting to know the country I'm living in the most organic way! It is not always comfortable to have no friends and to have to be the one who 'approaches' people first. But in my experience, it is always worth the try. You'll never know who'd you end up making friends with! So, why not try to let go of your comfort zone and start opening up?

So I have tried to start up conversations with strangers since July (not the creepy ones of course, haha) in various places like church (the best place to find mommy-friends!), the park, the museum's playground, and recently : the LIBRARY! Yeayyy!


I first got the idea from a stranger I met in my church' nursery room. When I told her that I've just recently moved here, she suggested me to go to local libraries to look for friends.

And she was right. After attending my local library's story time for about 3 times now, I have made some new friends :) And baby J has too!

Here is Valley Ranch Library at 401 Cimarron Trail, Irving. Very spacious, very kid-friendly, and quite scenic too! Especially because it overlooks this beautiful view below.


It is nice to stroll around here before the library opens.


All we need to do is come every Monday at 10, pick up a ticket at the information desk, and wait for the session to start. Baby J likes to pick up some books from the shelves before the session starts, while making friends with other babies who are waiting along with us. The best thing of it all is, it's free!!


He likes to take the books off the shelves, so I have to put them back on afterwards.


He also likes to hang around this "fish pond" with his friends.


His favorite time is definitely the parachute, where he gets to go under this big colorful 'parachute', while listening to some music (they play pandora radio for kids here) with other babies! Meanwhile parents can just hold the parachute and wave them up and down. Kids go bananas during this session!


Afterwards, we stroll around the neighborhood for a while (if it's not too hot outside) and muse ourselves with the green grass and trees we didn't often get to see back home in Jakarta.


We've been loving our daily routines so far, with a few new activities on our list, and it is safe to say that we are never bored. Because boredom only comes when you are least creative. Not an arty person? Not a DIY junkie? Good news! Creativity involves every aspect of life! So there's plenty of chance for you to exercise it in the way you use the amount of money you have, the amount of time you have, the amount of friends you have, and so on. Yes. Creativity. No excuse. Remember that, mommas. :)