Future Chefs in the Baking.

YOUNG CHEF’S ACADEMY of ROCKWALL

While working on another project I stumbled across the Young Chefs Academy of Rockwall, and I am so glad I did. I was instantly intrigued and called right away to get more information.

I was told about an upcoming Gingerbread Workshop they offered and thought “we have to do that!” and I set up a moms group outing immediately.

The girls of Young Chefs were so sweet and set up a special workshop just for us that would be more appropriate for the 2-4 year old age group. Normally their workshops accommodate a 4-10 year old age range.

This has been one of my favorite group outings so far, we had a full class 15 kids, their moms and a few young siblings.

The kids were so ecstatic when they walked into the bright and colorful chefs kitchens where they were all given tiny aprons and lined up to wash their hands and pick their seat.

I wasn’t sure what this workshop would entail or how the kids would do but surprisingly they all did very well, there were some minor “two-year-old moments” here and there but overall it was great.

The instructors started off by showing all the kids the baking basics in which they all got to try out the techniques for themselves, pass, and try another.

We learned the fundamentals of how to properly measure flour, separate an egg, sift, and get the perfect half inch width for our gingerbread dough. Most of the moms actually learned a thing or two themselves.

The kids then got to do the fun stuff and play with the dough, create their gingerbread shapes, and put the little guys into the oven…safely of course.

The way everything was set up was perfect for kids, all of the gingerbread men were pre-baked and ready so the children did not actually have to wait through each process, they were simply just learning and practicing.

Next came the best part, decorating! Each kid got several cookies and a variety of icing, sprinkles, and toppings to dress their cookies however they pleased, I saw several very creative little hands at work.

The best part about this workshop was the close interactive bonding time between the moms and the littles. We rarely do activities where the kids aren’t running around and playing, this was a much calmer situation and really was a team effort between parent and child.

The Young Chefs Academy also has a location in Frisco and they offer unique workshops like this every month, they also do birthday parties and regular cooking classes for kids.

If you are looking for something different and unique to do with your family I highly recommend checking this out, we had a great time and can’t wait for our next get together here.

Photos by LEXIE GRABEN

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The Building Blocks of Fun

LEGOLAND of DALLAS

3000 Grapevine Mills Pkwy, Grapevine, TX 76051

We recently visited Legoland in Grapevine Mills and had so much fun! This is certainly not the giant amusement park of the original Legoland in California but it definitely makes for a fun and interactive morning out with the kids.

There are rides, jungle gyms, a 4D cinema, and over the top Lego displays and play centers. The kids ages in our group were 2-4, both kids enjoyed it and had tons of fun, however the 4 year old certainly got more it of it.

We started off the visit by getting our photos taken in front of the big green screen where they had the kids do fun poses to put in front of a Lego scenario later on.

Next, we we stood in an entryway made of Legos as we waited for the grand doors to open and our adventure to begin!

The first thing we did when we walked in was the Kingdom Quest ride. We hopped aboard a mini coster inside a castle where we used ray guns to zap skeletons and “bad guys” to rescue the princess.

Next we were on to the newest attraction, Ninjago City Adventure, Ninjas-in-training can engage in a number of obstacle course challenges alongside their favorite characters.

From navigating a vortex spinning barrel, spiral slide of lights, wave decks, crawling through hover rings and lighting buzzer bars, this is the coolest jungle gym your kids have ever been through, and this will keep them busy for a while so you can sit back and relax… Unless you’re a helicopter parent like me and follow your kid through the tunnels.

Dexter did not meet the height (36″) requirement for the Merlin’s Apprentice ride so I rode with my 4yr old friend Landon! It’s basically any kids ride you’ve ever seen that goes around and up & down, he loved it!

Another attraction that Dexter was too small for but the other kids loved was the Lego City: Forest Ranger Persuit. Kids got to drive their LEGO vehicle off-road around a track in “Lego City”… Go Karts.

Some Girly Stuff:
The whole place is fun for everyone but there is a special space for the pretty and pink lovers. Children help the girls of Lego Land build Heartlake City take a picture with the life size Lego Girls!

My mom friends and I agreed that our favorite parts were the Lego displays, there was a Star Wars room filled with sculptures from all the the best scenes for the movie.

The best one was a mini Lego version of Dallas! The state fair, cowboys stadium, the iconic skyline, Love Field Airport, and much much more! It was really neat to see all the details of your favorite parts of your favorite City, and the there was a fireworks display every couple minutes!

For The Littlest Ones:
Little builders can let their imaginations loose in the toddler friendly DUPLO Village. Little ones can play with other tots, or wiggle and slide around the cottage and play with the special big, soft bricks.

Dexter and Landon’s Favorite Part:
I’d say we spent the majority of our visit in the Speed Racer area. In this part kids can build their own Lego cars and race them down different size ramps. They must have done this at least 50 times. This kept them busy while us Mamas sat closely at the tables and ate our lunch.

Know Before You Go:

TICKETS:
You will want to pre-purchase your ticket online where you will also choose your timeslot of entry. The designated time slot is good as its regulates crowding and helps move everyone along.

DINING:
There is a small café style place to purchase chips, fruit, pre packaged sandwiches and salads, soft drinks, water, coffee, tea, and a few other snacky items.

WHAT TO EXPECT:
Prepare yourself for crowds if you go when school is out but there is added summer fun as they have an outdoor splash pad called Pirate Beach, it’s made of giant Legos and pirate ship themed spray ground equipment. If you go during the week the crowds are minimal and lines are practically non-existent.

SPECIALS:
Go on a Tuesday (during school season) and you get to take advantage of Toddler Tuesday!!!! Bring up to two toddlers (aged 4 and under) per adult and enjoy entry for all three of you for $15. Additional children are $5 each.  Kids 2 and under are always FREE.

MORE FUN:
For added fun, visit the Sea Life Aquarium directly across from Legoland for a full day of fun! Check out more about SeaLife HERE. Information on offers for tickets to both attractions HERE

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East Side Playdates

PARK IN PLAY, SACHSE

7340 TX-78 Sachse, Texas, Sachse, TX 75048

You may have visited those cool indoor play areas around Dallas like The Playdate Company or Play Street Museum which are great places to take your toddlers, if you like those then you will love Park In Play!

This post is for all my Wylie/ Sachse / Garland / Rowlett Mamas! There is a new indoor play area in Sachse that has all the fun but it’s much closer to you.

This also makes for a great post-nap activity as it is not too far from home but keeps your little ones busy and out of the house until dinner time!

Park In Play has all the playhouse areas you love including dress up stations, an area for small babies and even a quiet room for nursing mama’s that still want to keep an eye on their toddlers at play.

What makes this play space unique is the many activities and events held weekly at their location. They have boot camps for Moms, baby Zumbini which is Zumba for toddlers and Mama’s, and often partners with the local fire and police departments. The owner is a former police officer herself and is passionate about incorporating safety and education activities into the community.

This indoor playhouse has a mini farmhouse, fire department, police department, grocery store and house keeping stations. Dexter’s favorites were the the fire station where he loved dressing up in the fireman’s uniform, and the farmhouse he was fascinated with all the little tractors and farm vehicles.

It’s an easy and fun way to to do a playdate and if you are wondering about pricing I listed it below.

Walking Children
$10.50
Siblings
7.50 (must accompany a full priced admission)
Crawling Babies
$5.25 or FREE if accompanied with a full priced admission.

If you are one of my moms who happens to live closer out that way or perhaps will be in the area and need something fun to do go check it out! Follow them on Instagram to get updates on all of their upcoming activities and events.

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Check out more info HERE

Altitude Trampoline Park

110 W Campbell Rd, Richardson, TX 75080
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It’s new, it’s clean, and the staff is amazing! Oh, and the music is on point (double score)!!! We have visited several trampoline parks in the Dallas and surrounding areas, in fact I did a post on them, but this one located in Richardson is new and by far my favorite.

It was huge and had lots of things for the kids to do, and places for them to jump and play. Like most trampoline parks Altitude has a “toddler time” which is perfect for us stay-at-home moms who are looking for fun, high energy level activities for their little ones.

It was not overcrowded and there was plenty of room for everyone and it felt calm enough for moms of toddlers and little babies to be able to take both kids.

Toddler Time ( for ages 6 and under) is each weekday from 10:00am – 1:00pm at a discounted rate of $6.95! Parents can also jump for only $2.00 extra! Be sure to bring socks with grippers on the bottom they are a requirement to wear before jumping. If you don’t have any they have some there for purchase, I believe they were $2 per pair.

The picnic tables and eating area in the front felt very clean and organized which I have found otherwise at previous trampoline parks. There were a lot of Staff members supervising the area and I found them to be very helpful with the kids and with me when I needed an extra hand.

Dexter’s favorite new activity was the trapeze into the foam pit, I thought he would be scared but he ended up doing this over and over again. He also loved the basketball goal, this was more of a workout for mommy as I had to lift him every time he wanted to make a goal, but I’ll take it if that means I get sculpted arms.

You can pack a lunch if you like and eat at their picnic table area where they play episodes of Paw Patrol, Bubble Guppies and other toddler favorites.

I took Dexter there by myself and it was very easy and the perfect activity when you don’t have anything planned or it is perhaps too cold, too hot, or too rainy to go outside. Go with friends, or go by yourself, just go check it out!

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C’mon Ride The Train

PLANO INTERBURAN RAILWAY MUSEUM

901 E 15th St, Plano, TX 75074

Last Friday we got a wild hair and tried something in a part of DFW we rarely visit, Downtown Plano at the Interurban Railway Museum for their weekly FREE storytime, and it did not disappoint!

I am becoming more partial to group play dates held in smaller areas, I find it’s easier when you’re actually trying to socialize with other moms as well as keep track of your little ones.

This Railway Museum was just that, a small building completely decked out from top to bottom like an old-time train station, complete with a real live motorman and actual train car outside which we got to tour after the storytime.

Every Friday at 10:30 the Interurban Railway Museum holds a toddler storytime but it’s so much more, they brought out puppets, sang songs and danced, read two books and ended the hour with a guided tour of the train car. All the kids were most fascinated with the miniature train set.

This was the perfect morning activity to get out of the heat and change scenery. If you do happen to go on a day where it’s not terribly hot they’re just so happens to be a playground right next to the museum, this would be the perfect way to round out your morning by bringing a picnic and playing, that should give you a good solid nap!

The Interurban Railway Museum Is located in the downtown Plano area which we found to be absolutely adorable, since it was hot out we decided to grab lunch at the XO Coffee Cafe, it was perfect they had a great menu, the kids loved it and I would say it was one of our more successful play dates all around! Give it a whirl I’m sure you will be as pleasantly surprised as we were.

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1 year of Emler, where are we?

We have now been in swim lessons with Emler for about a year, I wanted to talk about a few things;
•Progress and milestones
•The benefit of taking swim lessons year round
•Incorporating our Emler lessons into our own swim time

PROGRESS
We entered swim last October with Dexter being clingy, terrified and virtually knowing nothing.We have been going consistently for just under a year, once a week for 30 minutes each week.

In that time he has worked up to holding his breath for 10 seconds under water, kicking his feet and swimming across the pool on his own, jumping in  pool, turning around and climbing out, and most of all he has learned to be comfortable with the water and gets excited about swimming.

This past session we were in the Super Water Babies class in which I did not participated with him, but watched from the side.

Surprisingly he actually learned faster and did better on his own, this class also focused on following instructions, participating in a group, and using manners.

YEAR ROUND SWIM
I saw the importance of continuing swim in the fall, winter, and spring to keep the consistency and prevent regression.

Another thing to consider is that they are learning survival techniques in case of an accidental fall in which can happen at any time of the year, not just the summer.

And let’s be honest, it’s fun! Little kids love to swim and the classes being indoors allows for aquatic enjoyment all year long!

EMLER AT HOME
We absolutely practiced all of our swim techniques on our own time this past summer.

We tried to spend equal time with and without the puddle jumper as recommended by our Emler coach. He loved practicing his kicks, blowing bubbles, and jumping in the pool and swimming to me.

This was fun bonding for Dexter and I as well as further progressing his lessons.

Don’t wait until summer, now is the best time to introduce your little ones to the pool and have them swimming by next summer.
They can start as early as 2 months, and up to 5 months they get FREE CLASSES!!!!

Want more free stuff??? If you use my code: UPTOWN MOM when signing up HERE, you with get a free pair of high quality reusable swim pants!!!

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Mindful Parenting

DEVELOPING YOU PARENTING SKILLS

I am typically a high-energy, fun having, party throwing, life loving mom, but something you may not know is that I can sometimes be a high stress, anxiety inducing, control  freak of a person.

Occasionally I even have outbursts, and unfairly my husband is usually on the business end of my rant. I am always working on controlling myself and my actions while learning to find a genuine peace and relaxation in enjoying life as it is.

I was intrigued to have been invited to the Mindful Parent workshop at the Mastermind Studio in Dallas where I was given a private class that combines practicing how to calm the mind while learning to understand how the parent and child’s minds work.

Having an understanding of scientific and therapeutic psychology can help you to develop your child with the most positive success.

The instructor Kristin Bemis has an extensive background in family counseling and play therapy specializing in behavioral and emotional difficulties.

I really enjoyed this class not only because I took away so many helpful parenting tools, but also because of the peace I felt in the calming space which was a much needed quick get away from this whirlwind of life.

CLASS OVERVIEW:

The class was held in what felt like an upscale swanky Yoga studio, she had me find a place to in sit in whatever position most comfortable to me.

We began by what most can describe as mediation or as they like to call it “Mindful Thinking”, we used this time to clear our minds and quiet our thoughts. She then had us visualize and recall difficult scenarios in our daily life and work ahead overcome those challenges in the future.

Next we shifted into more of a discussion section as she talked about how our minds processed emotions, parent and child frustrations, and how to understand those frustrations and work it out in a mindful way.

DID IT WORK:

Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t but I can say it has been 5 days since I left that workshop and I find myself much more calm in what I would normally consider a stressful situation.

Maybe it’s just my perception but I have noticed a change in Dexter’s behavior and attitude, he is 2 and has been much more agreeable and cooperative. My relationship with my husband seems improved as well.

I have noticed myself using the mental tools I learned in the workshop when I feel anxiety or anger coming on with him, and I have not had an outburst once… but it’s only been 5 days.

This workshop is for everyone, a mommy group activity, a growing opportunity for you and your spouse, or just one-on-one time with You. This might seem progressive or “out of the box” for some people but give it a try and you might surprise yourself.

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Dallas-based Mastermind is a new concept in fitness – the only “gym for your brain” in the country teaching mindfulness from a research driven brain health perspective to help ease stress and improve overall health and well-being. Mastermind offers regular workshops, seminars and mindfulness classes. To learn more, please visit http://mastermindmeditate.com/.

 

 

 

FUN, EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY FOR KIDS

Frozen Jell-O Digging Excavation

As mommys we are all looking for new ways to entertain our kids, my blog has lots of activities for getting and about but sometimes we get stuck at home for whatever reason and are looking for things to keep us busy around the house as well. I was sent this fun activity by education.com a parent resource website with loads of fun for you to do with your kids! Find many more  by clicking HERE

We did the Jello Excavation with some neighborhood friends ages 3 and 9 months, and of course Dexter is 2 and everyone loved it. I replaced the non flavored, clear gelatin with blueberry Jell-O just for fun, it was a little messier and stickier but the teething babies loved it. We also used plastic monkeys instead of dinosaurs and it was just as fun. We did it at the pool and it was perfect, you can do it at home as well on a rainy day or fun in the bathtub!

Dinosaur Excavation

Unearth your kid’s inner paleontologist with this fantastic twist on traditional dinosaur excavations! While traditional paleontologists uncover fossils, your dino detective will dig up his own toy dinosaurs, encouraging his sense of curiosity and providing plenty of sensory fun along the way. In addition to being simple and hands-on, this activity is also a great way to cool off on a hot summer’s day. Take your kid outside and unearth some prehistoric fun in this “cool” sensory activity.

What You Need:

  • Toy dinosaurs (at least 10)
  • Unflavored gelatin
  • Water
  • Microwave and microwave-safe container (or stovetop and pot)
  • Cooking spray or a paper towel and a small container of oil
  • Small cups
  • Excavation tools (a blunt nail file and a metal spoon)
  • Large, shallow container

What You Do:

  1. Have your kid gather up a bunch of his small toy dinosaurs.
  2. Encourage him to pick out 10 of his favorites and line them up in a row.
  3. Ask him point to the different dinosaurs as he counts up to 10 and back down to 1. 
  4. Grease the inside of the cups with an oil-soaked paper towel or cooking spray.
  5. Have your child put a dinosaur in each cup.
  6. Prepare the unflavored gelatin according to the package.
  7. Pour the liquid gelatin over the dinosaurs inside the cups.
  8. Place the cups in the fridge, and let them set for about four hours.
  9. After the geletin is set, move the cups from the fridge to the freezer. Leave them in the freezer overnight.
  10. Take the cups out of the freezer when you’re ready to excavate. Slide the frozen gelatin out of the cups and into a large, shallow container. Place your excavation tools inside.
  11. As the gelatin thaws, it will have a squishy texture and your kid will likely enjoy playing with it. The large sensory container should be able to hold most of the “ice chunks” as the dinosaurs are excavated out of their icy confines.

Go Further:

  • Use different types of liquid. “What happens if we use seltzer water instead of regular water?”
  • Talk about the various textures of the gelatin as it thaws. What is it like when it’s frozen? What about what happens as it thaws out? What happens when you squeeze it?
  • Experiment with temperature. What happens when you set the gelatin ice block in a bucket of warm water?

Have fun digging and playing! Make sure to get more ideas to have fun and learn with your children HERE

Little Helpers

VOLUNTEERING WITH MEALS ON WHEELS

We recently got the opportunity to partner with the fantastic Dallas based organization Wee Volunteer an establishment dedicated to creating volunteer opportunities for children. I love this organization, getting involved is a great way to start teaching your kids to serve their community. Wee Volunteer offers many ways to give back, but one activity you can do with toddlers is their Meals on Big Wheels drop off  program. Dexter and I along with many other mommy groups participated in this last week, if you are wondering if this is the right way for you to give back here is a little about my experience, what to expect, and a few tips to know:

THE PROCESS:

About 10 moms and 15 kids between the ages of 2 and 8 met at 10:00 am at the VNA (Visiting Nurse Association) of Dallas where we collected all of the prepacked coolers of food we would be dropping off.

We loaded up the party bus and headed to our first destination wich was an elderly living apartment complex in Oak Cliff.

Each mom was given two names, and apt #s of people who were expecting meals. Most of the recipients were older and disabled so we were also given a phone number to call and let them know we would be dropping their food off in a couple of minutes.

We located each apartment, knocked on the door and happily gave each person a hot and cold meal, one for now, one for later.

Even though Dexter is very young he had so much fun handing everyone their food, and the residents were thrilled to get a delivery from a tiny visitor.

After each mom dropped off their two packages we loaded back on the bus, grabbed a snack that we had each brought for ourselves, and headed to our next and final location another similar complex.

We repeated the process once again, hopped back on the bus, ate more snacks and drinks, by this time we were all pretty pooped and it was nap time!!! Dexter definitely got a good nap after our outing.

SOME TIPS AND THINGS TO KNOW:

It costs $12 person to participate in the Meals on Big Wheels program, this pays for the cost of the bus. Each family is asked to make/bring placemats to hand out upon delivery.

This is the perfect volunteer activity for a 4-8 year olds based on my observation, the program says 2yrs and up are appropriate age to volunteer. I would say if your child is 2 you be the judge on wether they can handle it or not, some two year olds are easier than others.

Keep in mind their will be some walking and carrying things, so you will want to bring disposable bags, wear comfortable and cool clothes and shoes, and possibly even bring a very small umbrella stroller if think your child might need it…(I carried Dex a lot, but he tends to be uncooperative some times).

Bring your lunch or snacks. Everyone brought a lunchbox with goodies to refuel in between visits and this was the key to happiness and quiet it seemed.

The Wee Volunteer Meals on Big Wheels program is a fun and easy way to get your child started on a path of volunteering. All of the kids I met had done this several times anhd loved it, they were all wonderfully well behaved children who loved to give back. This is a great example to show Dexter as he grows and learns. I also got a chance to meet new friends which is important for us full time moms to grow our network of other Dallas mamas!

Check out Wee Volunteer for other ideas and opportunities.

See you out there,

Noelle and Dexter

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