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

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/.

 

 

 

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!

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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12 Days of Christmas at the Dallas Arboretum

If you are from the Dallas area you probably already know about the Dallas Arboretum. I grew up going there every year in the spring and fall but it’s only been in recent years that they have added holiday displays and activities. With Texas weather being so unpredictable it’s nice to have more outdoor options for Christmas family fun!

The Dallas Arboretum features oversized scenic displays of the time honored Christmas carol The 12 Days of Christmas. As you walk the gardens you are directed to each ornate presentation encased in beautifully crafted gold and jewels. From a partridge in a pear tree to 12 drummers drumming each vignette is as visually dazzling as the next.

This is a great way to share the Christmas carols you love with your children while getting some fresh air and exercise. Check out of the fun we had with our playgroup in the photos below!

Don’t forget to check out the children’s garden  if you have some extra time. This is a newer addition to the park including an ABUNDANCE of interactive, educational exhibits and activities…. not to mention visually stunning and stimulating for the littles.

There are many options for tickets and parking listed HERE , of course the best bang for your buck (especially for full time moms) is the 1 year membership.

PHOTOS by Alexis Marie Photography

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5 Minutes to Flawless

MAKE UP SCHOOL at MAKE UP FOR EVER

I recently had the pleasure of getting to experience a hidden gem of a mom’s night out… MAKE UP SCHOOL!

Not only is this a class held at one of the best make up stores in the biz, but this class at NorthPark is taught by one of the most talented and stunningly beautiful artists I have ever met!

If you’re not familiar with Make Up For Ever you should be! Many celebrities wear it for their professional finish, HD quality, photo friendly products.

Did you know they have the cutest studio classroom right in the store where master classes are held every Monday evening for $25. Each class has a different lesson on make up application.

We got to take the class that is perfect for moms, 5 minutes to flawless. This lesson will teach you the essentials to have you ready and out the door as fast as that Keurig can have your coffee ready!

We learned about each product and practiced step by step how to apply it. We did the whole look from start to finish with the instructor. My favorite part about the class is getting to try out all the different make up and brushes and really see what they can do.

It’s also my least favorite part because it makes me want to buy it all! It’s pretty tempting because when you complete a Make Up School class you get %20 off of everything in the store!

It was definitely a good old fashioned girly night. We did make up, chatted, laughed and got a much needed break from the craziness at home.

The class holds 4-8 people making it great for bachelorette parties or a girlfriend’s get together.

Uptown Mom will be hosting a 5 Minutes to Flawless class on Jan 8 at 2pm with Laura. We will have sweet treats and sips. I invite you, my fellow moms who enjoy trying new things and meeting cool people! I hope you’ll join me!

Check out all the pics from our experience

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It’s a Jungle in Here!!!

SAFARI RUN Plano TX

We are always looking for indoor play spaces that are clean, safe and fun. Our favorite one so far is Safari Run in Plano, it’s about a 20 min drive from downtown Dallas. This indoor jungle gym is brand new just opening this past June. All of the equipment is extremely clean and fresh, and they strive very hard to keep it that way by enforcing a strict sock and hand washing rule. The attendants keep a very close eye on your kids and as they enter the gated play area each child is asked to sanitize for 20 seconds at the washing station. I love that!

The climbers, mats, tunnels and slides are tall, winding  and diverse so the little ones can explore their hearts out. However as most moms of tiny toddlers know, they usually need to a parent to help and escort them through the mazes. I love these jungle gyms because they are big and open enough for parents to easily join in and not feel claustrophobic.

If your toddler wants their own small space, there is a place for them in the Cub’s Den. It’s the perfect size for the transitional crawl-to-walker. The Cub’s Den is equipped with a TV monitor of the main play space if you also have older kids and need to keep an eye on them.

When it’s time for a snack, there is a wide selection of healthy options provided by Market Street and a barista bar for a mommy’s afternoon pick-me-up.

If you have little gamer in your family, they will want to check out the arcade with a wide variety of games with tickets and prizes!

Safari Run is not just for the stay at home moms, it is closed on weekends for birthday parties but is open until 8pm perfect for a family evening or place to take sister while brother has soccer practice. They even offer fitness classes for adults and camps and classes for kids.

One visit to Safari Run is $10 which is a little steep in my opinion (those things add up quick!) however, you can purchase a pass of 5 visits for $25 or 10 for $50. We bought the 10 pass and have gone 4 times already! I think that is the best value and totally worth $5 a visit! We love it!

MORE INFO HERE

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