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.

Maker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YIMG_20180525_105945Maker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YMaker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

 

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/.

 

 

 

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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Blueberries Are Ready For Picking!

THE BLASE FAMILY FARM

1220 East Fork Drive Rockwall TX 75087

We have been waiting all year for the Blase Family​ Farm to open, if you’re wondering what we’ve been waiting on it’s the blueberries! They are finally ripe and ready for picking!

The Blase Farm located just 25 min from Dallas, tucked away in the middle of Rockwall is the cutest little bluberry grove that allows kids to come and pick their own blueberries.

Blueberry season runs from May – July, they are then closed until fall in which they have a fantastic pumpkin patch (stay tuned for that post later this year), they are open from 9am-1pm, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.

We went mid May and it was a beautiful 70°, the park is very shady and cool but the actually area where the berries grow is open to the sun so keep that in mind when planning your visit.
What to know before you go:

How it works- Upon entering the farm you will stop by the stand grab a basket or bucket, head on back about 100 yards to start picking. You fill your container with as many berries as you please, as you return to the front you will pay for the blueberries you’ve picked. The average cost was about $5 per person.

Appropriate age- Dexter is almost two and he was just a bit on the young side for this, it is doable and was a fun activity but he definitely didn’t get the concept. I think this is perfect for kids ages 3-6, however there were several moms with young toddlers so if you are up for it than I say “give it a shot!”

What to bring- if you are taking a younger child I would bring your own container possibly a Ziploc bag or something with a lid. I saw many kids including Dexter throw the blueberries everywhere. We actually ended up leaving with none as we lost the entire collection on our way back to the front of the farm. Oh well, lesson learned, and​ now I am passing that on to you, you’re welcome!

What to wear- durable, sturdy shoes! I saw many kids and would recommend wearing rubber boots, both you and your child, and possibly even bring an extra pair of shoes and plastic bag for your boots for the ride home. It is a highly wooded area, and depending on the weather that week could possibly be a tad muddy. Bringing me to my next section…

Stroller or no stroller?
I saw moms with both. Depending on the age and number of children you have you might want to have your stroller. Just keep in mind the terrain conditions in which I mention above. If​ you have a jogger or something very rugged you will be golden.

Lunch-
This is a true farm, they do not sell food so everyone brought their lunches and sat at the shady picnic tables to eat. They do however sell popsicles, they are really yummy, all natural and very low in sugar. You will want to make sure and snag one!

If you are looking for a fun playdate idea or something different to do with the whole family on a weekend, this is a great activity for everyone! Get more information HERE

See you out there,
Noelle and Dexter

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Summer Bucket List 2018

Maker:L,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

Summer is a here and we need stuff to do!!!!  Here is a list of links to my favorite Uptown Mom posts to plan for a fun summer in Dallas!

The Amateur Mouseketeer

DISNEYLAND WITH A 1 YEAR OLD

My husband, my son and I live in Dallas and were invited to attend San Diego wedding this April. We have a 22mo old and decided to take this opportunity and do a little side excursion over to Disneyland. Disneyland is MUCH smaller and easy to manage than Disney World making it a “stepping stone” for the motherland to which we plan on going in a few years… I would not attempt taking a 1 year old there.

Since we have a small child who is right on the delightful cusp of the terrible twos we decided in advance that one day would plenty. This was our first time, so I am an inexpert Disney-goer but I wanted to share my experience for anyone who might be planning a trip with a toddler.

I recommend doing as much research as possible, read blogs, troll Instagram, download the Disney apps and maps and go in prepared with a plan! That being said… prepare to have your plan annihilated! There is a comfort in having an idea of what to expect but part of that expectation is knowing that things will change and you will have to roll with the punches.

It can be easy with a toddler to lose your cool and get frustrated with them or your spouse (we’ve all been there), but If you can go in with a flexible mentality, pack some extra patience in your fanny pack, and you and your spouse have a good pep talk beforehand, you will have a great time a make the best memories!

WHERE TO STAY

Disneyland has its own resorts which give you direct access to the parks and also grant you a magic hour which allows you to enter the park one hour before it opens to the public. This is a desirable lodging option as the Disney resort offers character breakfasts and heated pools with splash parks that by far exceed the surrounding hotels.

The onsite resorts are nice but it will cost you, the Disney resort was 4 times the price of the Hilton where we stayed located 2 blocks from the park. The offsite hotel was a nice option for us, although we didn’t get the full magical experience, Dexter is so young and doesn’t know the difference we felt the savings was worth it.

TRANSPORTATION

All the hotels offer shuttles to the park, but honestly it was easier just to walk. You are already going to be walking the whole day a couple more blocks is nothing. Also, by the time you unload everything from your stroller to fold it, and have to hold all that stuff plus your toddler while waiting for everyone else to do the same on a stuffy bus… no thanks.  The walk nice and easy breezy.

WHAT TO WEAR

Tennis shoes.

Wear clothes that are very comfortable, you will likely be carrying and lifting your toddler throughout the attraction lines and it’s pretty much a work out so active wear is the way to go. Wear a fanny pack, you may laugh now but it will quickly become your best friend. Which leads me to my next segment… Strollers!

THE STROLLER SITCH

Everyone brings their stroller which simultaneously serves as a cart for all the stuff you’ll pack for the day. The stroller is great for walking around the park but something to know ahead of time is that you are not allowed to bring your stroller through the lines for ANY of the attractions, you have to leave them in the designated “Stroller Parking” area and then go wait in line.

Sounds a little sketchy to just leave your stroller with all your stuff in it right? Right, but everyone does it. There are 50-100 strollers in one little parking area and everyone just goes on the honor system which is why I suggest renting a stroller (which you can reference our experience with stroller rental HERE), which also brings me back to the fanny pack! I let the hubs sport that little accessory!

But you will definitely want to keep all your important things in the ever so trusty fanny pack; phone, keys, wallet, etc. which you can wear on all the rides.

TODDLER RIDES and ATTRACTIONS

 Disneyland is divided into two parks; Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. For us, this trip was really for our son Dexter so we decided to keep it all toddler friendly and skip the “big kid” rides, and since we were only there for one day we went with Disneyland Park. I tried to best plan our day by using the Disneyland App and getting on their website to find all the rides that allowed for “any height” to participate.

Something to keep in mind is that the lines move pretty fast, some of the lines looked really long and intimidating but the actual wait time was only about 20 min, and if you use the app it shows the wait times for each ride right on your phone. Some of the rides have a Fast Pass option but it did not apply to any of the toddler rides.

To avoid the crowds we went immediately upon entering the park Mickey’s toon town in the very back as opposed to the going straight for the castle which is where most people start. Toon town is the most toddler friendly part of the park and littles ones can do all of the activities.

As a parent my personal favorite thing were the playhouses, they are essentially Disney themed playgrounds where your toddler can be out of the stroller, run, and stretch their legs all while you can sit and take a breather. They can visit Mickey & Minnie and all of their other favorites, there is a food court, and the crowds seemed to be down in this area

FOOD

Disney is really great about letting you bring in your own food. There was a huge CVS about 1 block from the entrance, we stopped in there on our way and grabbed waters, power bars and little snacky things.

You likely want more than just packaged food and Disney offers many quality, healthier options. The restaurants are all great but if you are looking for a quick snack there are several fruit stands, we got hummus and carrots and Dexter ate a turkey dog and loved it!

NAPS

The big question with toddlers, “What do we do about a nap?” Its right in the middle of the day, you don’t want it to kill the momentum, what worked very well for us was napping in the stroller. By this point in the day your toddler will be beyond exhausted from all the excitement and activity they will likely fall right to sleep.

The key is to have a stroller that reclines back to lying position, we used the B.o.b.  This not only worked for us but we saw several toddlers doing this. My suggestion is to  feed your little one lunch, let them drift off then find a nicer “sit down” spot for you and your spouse to grab a good lunch or a show while tiny is napping.

DIAPERS and THE BABY CENTER

Don’t you just love changing diapers in public park restrooms…said no one ever! Well you don’t have to here! A little hidden gem and game changer is the Disneyland Baby Care Center. We stumbled upon this just as we needed to change a stinky diaper and it was nothing short of awesome. This center is a cozy and soothing place mothers can feed baby, breast feed, nap little ones who need a crib and best of all change diapers in a sanitary easy to manage space. They also sell, diapers, formula, baby food and other necessary baby items.

NIGHT PARADE

Disneyland is magical at night time too! They put on an electric parade that is full of music and dancing all made out of lights. I noticed many parents with young children would start to head back to their hotel around 5:30 to do dinner and bath then return to the park with their kids in pjs ready to watch the night parade and once again fall asleep in their stroller.

This may sound like no fun pushing around a sleeping kid while you still have to supervise, but the park is beautiful at night when lit up and there is a lot to look at, this is a good opportunity for you and your husband to enjoy the park together and have some adult conversation and maybe a late dinner.

 

This was the first trip to Disneyland for all of us so I am absolutely an amateur, however if you are considering taking your toddler I hope you got something out of this recap and a bit more incite from our experience. We hope to go to Disney World in the future with older children but for now this was a good place to start and a fun experience full of memories I will adore forever!

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The Traveling Toddler

OUR TRIP TO CALIFORNIA

I have traveled in the past with a small baby which is one thing, but last week we embarked upon our first travel experience with a 1 ½ year old. This is a whole different ball game which brings new challenges and tests your patience in ways only Mother Theresa or Gandhi could handle, but we made it through and you will too.

There are many travel methods people use to accommodate their child and that particular trip so do what works for you, but here are few little nuggets from our trip that you may want to use.
One of my biggest travel mantras is “Less is more”, some people believe they have to bring their whole house with them which is such a pain to lug around an airport. I don’t like to travel with my stroller or car seat for a few reasons;

1) they are nice, expensive things that I don’t want getting broken or dirty as they get thrown under an airplane.

2) It’s more luggage to keep up with and drag around.
“But I need my stroller and car seat.” Yes, you do! Did you know you can rent these things at your destination! We have always requested a car seat with our car rental at the airport and have had no problems doing this, usually it’s a small fee of $8-$15 per day.
This was the first time we rented a stroller and going forward we will do this EVERY time!

We used the Traveling Baby Company and it was awesome! The agent met us at the airport to deliver our clean stroller and gave us a demo on how to use it. We rented a jogger which was perfect to stroll around California and take to Disneyland. They offered many different kinds of strollers and a variety of baby necessities from car seats, pack’n plays, highchairs, toys and everything in between. This company operates all over the country in all the tourist rich cities.


Something that we do if staying in a hotel is request a pack’n play from the front desk. I have done this 3 times at different hotels and each time the hotel had the pack’n play set up and waiting for us in our room with clean crib sheets at no extra cost.
We also don’t pack diapers and wipes, we just bring enough for the flight in our carry-on bag and we buy everything when we get to our destination.

 

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That’s the Pack n Play in the back… obviously

A new item I have always laughed at but now understand and decided to try was a child harness. We bought a backpack harness on Amazon by Brica for $9 which was enough to spend just to keep it on hand, even if you never use it, it’s better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it. We pulled it out a few times and were absolutely thankful to have purchased it!


Something I would have done differently is to bring a small, cheap umbrella stroller that weighs close to nothing just for the airport. This would have been nice to have at times when Dexter got tired of walking or standing.
As far as the flight goes, this can play out in many scenarios depending on the endless possibilities of situations. This particular flight was fully packed and lasted three hours. Dex slept both ways as long as we kindly asked the passengers around us if they wouldn’t mind closing their window shades, they of course were happy to do so if this meant the baby would stay asleep.

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Aside from that, all you can do is make sure your tablets are charged and loaded with movies, games, soothing music (which turned out to be the most crucial element for us), pack snacks, some new dollar store toys, and have a positive attitude.
Traveling with a small child might seem overwhelming but the memories you make on family vacations are precious and worth every small hassle of getting there. They are only little once and you never get that time back so I encourage you to take every opportunity you can, big or small to invest in experiences, spend quality time and make memories!

Happy Traveling, see you out there!
Noelle and Dexter

 

Aquariums and Gardens Made Perfect for Toddlers

FAIR PARK OF DALLAS – Children’s Aquarium & Texas Discovery Gardens

3601 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Dallas, TX 75210

 The Arboretum of Dallas and The Dallas World Aquarium are both city staples and wonderful places to visit and learn, however you will probably spend a good chunk of your day and your wallet when you go.

As day time moms we are usually looking for something that fits within an hour and a half – two hour window, is inexpensive and covers a smaller surface area to easily manage kids who like to run. When looking to get your botanical fill and aquatic activities in there are two places that happen to be side by side that fit this criteria.

Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park-

We have visited this garden several times recently, it is a smaller, quicker alternative to the Arboretum. This butterfly garden is a newer addition to Fair Park and hidden gem amongst the busy city buzz.

Inside, the two-story Butterfly House and Insectarium you are transported to a tropical rainforest, complete with hundreds of free-flying butterflies. Something to note: you actually feel like you are in a rainforest… a bit warm and muggy, so dress accordingly.

Each day at noon there is a butterfly release and new butterflies are set to fly free around the space. This is an indoor/outdoor garden making for a great activity when weather may be unpredictable.

The indoor butterfly house is beautiful, relaxing and very toddler friendly, your little ones can roam and explore without going too far from sight. If the weather is nice bring snacks and enjoy the outdoor gardens as well, then you are on your way for a nice long nap!

The Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park-

We made an impromptu visit to the Children’s Aquarium last week and were pleasantly surprised. It is a historical building so it is a bit older but it was a perfect morning activity for toddlers.

As soon as you walk in you are greeted with a beautiful water display with live sea animals they allow you to touch (supervised of course). We then ventured over to the coastal fish and sea life displays and were thoroughly impressed and captivated!

There were creepy but amazing eels, a huge shark, beautiful sea turtles, and more. Our favorite part of the aquarium was the Stingray Bay. This new expansion is really fun and interactive. As you walk out on the deck you stand above open toped tanks containing very large sting rays, sharks and fish.

As you walk down to the lower level there is another open tank with several playful sting rays… yes, I said playful. This was so fun! The stingrays cannot sting or bite you, but they see and hear you, they come up to the glass and splash and flap their wings, then you can pet them. The aquarium has food you can feed the stingrays, we had a blast together petting and feeding those little guys!

We love both of these places, depending on your child you could easily visit the butterflies and the fish in the same trip or split it up like we do, either way it’s a great day!

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