Photography by Katee Grace

As a southern California beach girl, I hold dear to my heart the opportunity to introduce my children to the ocean and all of the wonderful creatures in it. I’ve always felt very connected to the ocean, and our visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific allowed me to share that connection with the two most important people in my life.

As a mom, I loved telling my boys the story of the seahorses, that the dad actually carries the babies and not the mom. Watching the boys gaze at the jellyfish was another joy for me. They stood mesmerized at the animal’s graceful movements through the water. The boys also had a blast with the penguins; their habitat is an all-time favorite for the kids and me. We had fun calling out their names and creating personalities for each one. The awe on their faces as the penguins zipped through the water spoke volumes about their inner curiosity, and I let them explore it with each exhibit .

Perhaps the highlight of our trip was petting the sand sharks. I’ve always loved petting animals and getting to know them up close. Being able to expose my boys to those experiences was such a fun moment for me. The sharks seemed to swim around looking for human touch, and Kingsley, though a little jumpy, was happy to oblige them. It’s been so interesting for me as a mom to pay attention to the things that spark various emotions within him. Petting the sharks at the aquarium provided an opportunity to show him he could explore his curiosity in a safe space without fear, and I am very grateful for that.

Then it was mommy’s turn to show no fear. There is something very interesting (but very alarming) about a bird landing on your shoulder or head out of nowhere. It’s not an experience my kids and I have often, and that’s what makes it so special. But I have to admit—it was a challenge to be “fearless mommy” in the lorikeet sanctuary! I had to be a strong mother around the children and smile through my nerves! Ironically, though, the boys weren’t worried at all. Like the jellyfish, they adored the beauty in the birds, and they talked about that openly. Feeding the lorikeets and connecting with them in nature was a lesson in pushing past and overcoming fears—my own!

The boys were spent at the end of the day. It was evident that they had an amazing time at the aquarium. Now, I’m not a mom that typically buys a lot of “stuff” for my kids, but when there’s a special experience or fond memory associated with a souvenir, I can justify and appreciate getting it. I picked up some stuffed sharks for the boys to have as a reminder of the great time we had. They play with them before bed and sleep with them every night. The sharks even have names like the penguins; Kingsley calls them “lovies”. When he snuggles with “lovie” in bed and asks, “remember when we went to the aquarium?” I will always be reminded of what a special time we had at Aquarium of the Pacific. Thank you so much for helping us make family memories that will last a lifetime!

These adorable shots (in a crowded Aquarium) would not have been possible
without the amazing talents of photographer Katee Grace!!!

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