SEA LIFE + Toddler Tuesday

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SEA LIFE Aquarium, Grapevine Tx

Two mama friends and I visited the aquarium in Grapevine Mills Mall today, it may not look like much on the outside but we all agreed it was one of the best toddler outings yet!

The SEA LIFE Aquarium is a small aquatic establishment nestled inside an outlet mall but it is packed with hundreds of mesmerizing sea animals and interactive opportunities making it perfect for toddlers.

Every Tuesday is toddler day with special pricing at $15 for you and two toddlers (I believe this excludes summer time).

From the moment you walk in and throughout each area this aquarium is decked out with wall to wall “under the sea” sights and sounds.

Although there were many small children it was a very relaxing experience, made in part by the low lighting, calming yet ominous music, running water, and of course the tranquility of beautiful fish swimming all around you.

The aquarium is layed out in a way that makes it very easy to manage toddlers. Each veiwing area is small and the hallways are long and narrow keeping little ones close and less likely to run off.

If you have a small toddler you are no stranger to time restraints and understand the importance of short and sweet outings before the meltdowns ensue. This place is great because of its small size, you can easily get through the entire thing in an hour.

Some of our favorites:

The Sting Ray Habitat- The kids LOVED this one! The huge open topped tank went to the floor and the littles had a blast running through the tunnels, chasing sting rays, eels and sharks.

The Interactive Fish Tanks- You can find stand alone mini aquariums all over the place with glass bubbles you crawl into to get a surrounding effect. The kids all got a big kick out of this.

The Tunnel- Definitely the most popular viewing spot. As you walk through the glass tunnel you are surrounded by 360° of Sea life! We saw huge manta rays, sea turtles, tropical fish, sharks, whale fossils and more!

The Rainforest Room- Another calming spot exuding a floor to ceiling nature ambiance. And I do mean floor to ceiling. The ground was made of faux dirt and bark that was soft and cushy. Above your head were beautiful branches and leaves, and all throughout were peaceful water features and lovely sea creatures.

The Sea Anemone Petting Farm- This was really fun to see all of those beautiful, spikey, loofa like beings you see stuck to the ocean floor. There was was a specialist to educate everyone on each one and even let us pet them. Very sticky but very cool!

Check out our day

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THAT S**T CRAY-ola

THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE

 The Shops at Willow Bend, 6121 W Park Blvd, Plano, TX 75093

Dexter and I were so excited to be invited to a special blogger preview for the brand new Crayola Experience in Plano at The Shops at Willow Bend. It is the fourth location for the brand and it seems to be drumming up a lot of local Buzz.

 

There was lots to see and do as we entered the world of Crayola! The facility is designed for the two 2-12 yr age range according to them, in my opinion the magic age to fully interact and grasp all of the concepts would be age 4 or 5. Dexter is 2 1/2, almost 3 and had a great time and was able to enjoy almost everything.

 

The Crayola Experience is inside the Shops at Willow Bend and very much reminded me of Legoland Dallas which I have also featured on my blog in the past (click here).

 

It is very bright, colorful and open with interactive activities stations all throughout. The staff emphasized the importance of childhood creativity many times and made sure we knew this was a space to breed imagination with each station an opportunity to expand their unique vision.

 

I can go on and on about each interactive stationl but I’ll keep it short and sweet with a brief list of what we played with, and share what our favorite stations were.

 

• Thousands of crayons… Everywhere!!!

 

• Selfie station: We got to create our own coloring sheets featuring….us!

 

• ‎Modeling Magic: We got to mold and create objects using Crayola’s version of Play-Doh which in my opinion is much cleaner and mess free!

 

• ‎Melt and Mold: We got to use machines to melt down crayons and create shapes. We made a car crayon!!

 

*OUR FAV* ‎Spin Art : similar to The Melt and mold this machine melted crayons as you controlled the spinning paper to create a wax art masterpiece.

 

• Interactive Floor: This was one of those High-Res image projection floors, it is interactive and fun and kept Dexter busy for quite a while.

 

*OUR FAV* Designs Come to Life: Coloring stations featuring fashion, automotive, silly faces and action characters. These stations featured machines that took your creation and animated it on a big screen. This was very cool! I liked the design your dress and see it on a fashion runway in Dexter of course like the design a truck and watch it race other trucks!

 

• Paint and Play: painting station where you could stay as long as you like, try out the latest products from Crayola, and quickly dry your art in the picture dryer. Although simple many of the kids seemed to enjoy the station and set in painted for a long time.

 

• Jungle Jim: A substantial climbing complex with all the bells and whistles!

 

• Toddler Town: An area for the little ones featuring a smaller jungle gym and a giant Lite-Brite… which was a hit!

 

• Chalk About It- an area where everything is made out of chalk board and you can color on anything you want!

 

• Adventure Lab: This one is definitely for the older kids but is really cool and Dexter enjoyed parts of it. It is an Interactive problem solving experience testing your intelligence and time management.

 

• Design and Wrap: We got to create our own custom crayon wrapper and even wrap it ourselves in a special machine.

 

• Crayola Cafe: No need to pack a lunch, there is food sold on site, you can buy snacks, drinks, salads, chicken fingers, Pizza and more!

 

• Sweet Shop: They hand make fudge in house, you can watch the process and take it with you. Crayola is also partnered with the famous candy store Dylan’s Candy Bar supplying all your sugary desirers!

 

• Crayon Making Live Show: A studio with a live show featuring the actual crayon making process.

 

Whew! Ya still with me?? They have managed to jam-pack all that fun into one facility and it’s cool! If you are looking for something fun to do or perhaps you want to make a mall trip extra fun go check out the Crayola Experience!

 

Tickets are $20/ person, kids under 3 are FREE. $20 sounds a little pricey right? Well an annual pass is only $30…. That sounds like a no-brainer to me! Now it seems like a steal!!!

 

There are birthday party rooms and special event pricing, we all learned about several kid and adult events that have been held they’re in the possibilities are endless!

 

I hope you get a chance to go and let me know what your favorite Crayola Activities are!

 

See you there,
Noelle and Dexter

 

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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

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

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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!

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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Sit Back and Play

THE PLAYDATE CO.

Per the usual I am constantly scouting out new fun places and activities for the kiddos. Although we love allowing our kids to exercise their abilities to run and explore that usually requires us as parents to be on our toes as well.

But what if there was a place where your little ones could roam free, let their imaginations run wild while you could sit back and relax and watch them play?! I have just the place, The Playdate Co. This sweet little spot is exactly what the name says… a company for playdates! The Richardson based center is perfectly located and easy to get to for anyone in the Dallas area.

This bright and beautiful center is furnished with several adorable playhouses each embracing a different theme to accommodate any child’s fancy. Each house is fully decked out with every imaginable prop or toy incorporating it’s motif.

They had everything; an ice-cream shop, schoolhouse, book nook, general store, tool shed and garage, home center, creative coloring, and gardening… but the big hit amongst all the tots was the merry-go-round style bikes in the middle.

There is even an area for the littlest ones who are not yet crawling so for those with a toddler and a newborn this is a perfect place for you!

Upon entering the gated play space you can store all your things in the provided cubbies, and when all that play time has worked up an appetite you are welcome to bring your own snacks and drinks too, just be sure to keep them in the designated snacking area.

Ok, so what about the moms?  There is seating and complimentary coffee for us mamas to sit, take a breather, enjoy a cup of “pick me up” juice and some adult conversation.

There is free WiFi as well so you can get caught up on your articles and emails. Relax at ease as everything is visible and open for keeping eyes on our little movers at all times.

The pricing structure for play packages are as follows:

  • $10.50 per child, age 1 and up.
  • $8.50 for siblings, age 1 and up.
  • $5.50 for children under age 1 not accompanied by an older sibling.
  • Free for siblings under age 1 with a full price child’s admission.

For any additional info check them out HERE .

See more pics below from our day

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Jump Up, Jump Up and Get Down!

DFW TRAMPOLINE PARKS

Oh January, the Christmas merriment is over, it’s still cold out, and you need to get out of the house.

Try taking the kids to a trampoline park, they’re not just for birthday parties. If you’ve never been to one it’s exactly what it sounds like, a a huge space full of trampolines and mats! Most have special hours and pricing just for toddlers. It’s the perfect indoor activity that’s easy, inexpensive and will guarantee nice long nap!

The two main players in the DFW area are Urban Air and Jump Street . We have been to both below are some FYI’s of each.

URBAN AIR:

  • 6 locations all around the DFW area
  • OUR FAV FEATURE: Large facilities (some locations have additional rigs such as  padded jungle gyms, zip lines and foam pits)
  • Toddler hours are Wednesdays and Fridays from 10-12
  • Cost is $5
  • Must fill out waver upon entry. Waver is valid for 1 year. You can fill it out online before you go to avoid waiting.
  • Bring socks
  • Snacks for purchase but mostly candy

 

JUMP STREET

  • 4 locations (one being centrally located on 75 and Walnut Hill)
  • Less trampoline space than Urban Air. Toddlers are limited to the toddler area, but it has a bounce house and foam pit for kids 4+.
  • OUR FAV FEATURE: Toddler hours are ALL DAY, EVERYDAY
  • Cost is $5
  • Must fill out waver upon entry. Waver is valid for 1 year. You can fill it out online HERE  before you go to avoid waiting.
  • Bring socks

Happy jumping and we’ll see you out there,

Noelle and Dexter!

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