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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Pretty FLY for a small guy

THE FRONTIERS OF FLIGHT MUSEUM

 

If you have a little airplane lover like I do you’re going to want to go check this place out, The Frontier’s of Flight Museum just outside of Love Field Airport.

 

It’s exactly what it sounds like an airplane museum, a big building full of as many airplanes as you can imagine, big, small, old, new, they’ve got it all!

 

One of the best things about this museum for toddlers is its size, it’s about as big as a Walmart so you can easily get through this museum in a short amount of time and be back for nap.

 

Another plus in all my past experiences is the lack of crowds, we have been three times in the past two months and each time there has hardly ever been anybody there which makes it ideal for a parent trying to keep up with a toddler, little ones can be very easily spotted and have more freedom to explore.

 

If you happen to be a history lover like my husband you will also enjoy the museum, there are lots of little nooks and setups decked out with memorabilia taking you back to the birthplace of the first airplane, to World War II, space shuttles and the complete timeline of the commercial airline story from beginning to present. I enjoyed this part the most because it displays the evolution of the stewardess uniforms which used to be designed by highly recognized fashion designers, it really is very interesting.

 

There is also an indoor playground so the little ones can climb airplane Towers, drive an airplane and slide down the back and just run freely, this is always a good place to stop get some energy out and then continue on with the museum.

 

It’s not always open but there is an on-site model airplane workshop if you happen to catch them while it’s open and the engineers are inside working they will show you around and let you see how all the model airplanes are built, it is a very intricate process and they are all different. This may be like taking a toddler/ bull into a china shop but it is all windows so they can easily look in and see the workshop just the same.

 

Another cool feature about the museum is that it is directly next to Love Field Airport so you constantly get to see real airplanes flying in and out, this is one of Dexter’s favorite parts.

 

The cost to get in is $12 per adult and children 3 and under are free, there is often Groupons for the Frontiers of Flight Museum so be sure to check there first.

 

There are minimal snacks sold in the gift shop so bring your lunch if you’re planning to eat there, there are tables and chairs to park and eat, but there are many nearby yummy restaurants so we usually take advantage of being in the area and eat somewhere outside of the museum.

 

This is a fun and easy morning activity, when it’s really cold, extra hot or rainy out. 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

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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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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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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