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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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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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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Emler Swim School Progress Update

We began our Emler journey when Dexter was just 2 months old in the FREE Bathtime Babies class, which you can check out HERE .

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We took a break around the holidays and never got around to going back, which is a big regret. We started the Water Babies class about a month ago after we got back from our family vacation. When we were in Florida my eyes were opened to the importance of water safety and knowing how to swim.

In the past four weeks I have seen a huge change and major improvement in Dexter’s comfort level with the pool.

We have gone from screaming throughout the entirety of the class to eagerly jumping in swimming under water.

A tip from my own experience: Timing is key. When we started this session we were going to a 10:30 am class in which I was spending the whole time trying to keep my swimsuit from being pulled down by the inconsolable, stage 5 clinger. Our instructor recommend we try an earlier class and voilà… different kid! He is now holding his breath, kicking under water and loving every minute.

That is the beauty of Emler Swim School, they offer several dates, times, and locations to accommodate any schedule.

Not only is Dexter learning to trust his teachers, follow a class curriculum, and participate in a peer driven environment, we are spending quality uninterrupted time together.

Now is the perfect time to get started on swim lessons for a confident and prepared toddler this summer!

Remember when you register for class HERE and use the code: UPTOWN MOM you will get FREE pair of swim pants!

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Small Spaces Living Essentials

THE “MUST HAVES” FOR THE SIMPLE BABY.

When I found out I was pregnant I started Googling things I would need. I was overwhelmed to the point of tears upon seeing the endless supplies I supposedly needed.

Two things crossed my mind; 1) We live in a small apartment with little space. 2) I despise clutter!

I wanted to have the things we needed but keep it to a bare minimum and keep things as clean, simple, and let’s be honest…chic as possible.

After a bit of research pre-baby and my own experience up to this point, I have narrowed down my favorite essential baby buys.

These also make great gifts! Click to buy!

1) TEEPEE – This teepee is one of my favorite things! Not only does Dexter love to play in it and have a space of his own, it looks cute in the apartment while concealing all the toys. That was huge for me to have a place to put everything without seeing it all the time. It was basically a decorative toy closet!

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2) SNUGGLE NEST (for newborns)- We actually received the Snuggle Nest which is a co-sleeper as a gift at our baby shower. This is perfect for small living spaces because it doesn’t take up any extra room.

This thing was the $#*%! As new, paranoid parents we loved having the baby sleep right between us without the fear of rolling over on him.

It made night feedings very easy as well, I never had to get up! This co-sleeper also has vibration and nature sounds which helped me sleep also! Bonus!

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3) ROCK N PLAY AUTOROCKER  (for newborns)- You have to have this. I repeat: You have to have this!!! This will be your best friend, seriously. We kept this in the living room and Dexter practically lived in it when we were at home.

I had several friends recommend it and boy were they right! There are different versions of the Rock n Play, make sure to get the auto-rocker. It also plays music and nature sounds.

It’s much cheaper than the Mamaroo, and it’s very light, portable and foldable… which is great if you don’t have space to put these things all over your house.

I would stick it in the bathroom while I took a shower, or could easily take it to my parents house and he could sleep in it for hours and hours! Go get it!

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4) PHIL AND TED’S POPPY HIGHCHAIR – We have been very happy with this highchair, it’s inexpensive, looks great, it’s easy to clean, and it converts in to a child’s chair. The seat is made of rubber so everything wipes clean! It’s that simple

 


 

4) ANGELCARE BATHTUB (for newborns) GREAT GIFT ALERT!! This one is my husband’s favorite pick on the list, I love it too!

We discovered this baby bathtub after using a super expensive, ultra fancy sink sitting tub. That became so cumbersome and took up a lot of unnecessary space that we just couldn’t afford to waste.

I also wasn’t comfortable transferring a dripping wet baby across a kitchen floor, it didn’t feel safe. We received the Angelcare bathtub as a baby shower gift and started using it after returning the other tub.

We put the baby tub right in our adult bathtub and Dexter loved it! It’s simple, light and portable, also made of rubber so it’s easy to clean. And it’s only 20 bucks!img_20161106_232837picsart_11-06-11-31-24


 

5) UPPABABY CRUZ STROLLER – Ok, I know a stroller is a big purchase. It’s quite a commitment to make, you will probably plan to use this for several years…if you get a good one.

We LOVE our Uppababy stroller. We did a TON of research and hands on testing for months to finally decide on The One.

Some people buy multiple strollers for different needs. Since I was limited on space I could only choose one.  We found it! The Uppababy is a bit on the pricier side of strollers but it’s perfect.

It’s very durable, it can be walked down city streets and last. It is light and easy to fold/adjust/use.

It has the largest bottom basket great for holding all my shopping goodies. It glides like butter and turns on a dime. It’s pretty!

For the newborn stage we went with this INFANT CAR SEAT which was fabulous as well! Its extremely light, and easy to carry. We used THESE ADAPTERS to attach it. picsart_11-06-11-34-53img_20161106_230337

I Hope you enjoy all these things as much as I have!

 

Park Treasures

It’s October, pumpkin spice is in air and the weather is perfect which means get your butt outside and enjoy it. We have been soaking it all in around town while hitting up some of our favorite secret play spots! Check out our top 3 park picks you may not even know exsist;

3) Reverchon Park

3505 Maple Ave, Dallas, TX 75219

This park is near and dear to me, I have been an avid Reverchon Park goer even before I had a baby…. well I took my fur baby. This park has everything (said in my SNL Stefon voice), it’s in a perfect secluded location right off of Dallas’ famous Katy Trail. The trees, plants, ponds and greenery are unbeatable for an uptown city park. There are several grassy, spacious areas for babies, both human and four-legged. Being attached to the Katy Trail allows a workout with a view for mom before or after playtime. Reverchon Park was built to accommodate handicap children which also lends itself well to crawlers. I took Dexter here all the time before he could walk because all the ramps and low lying playground equipment made it easy for him to enjoy the park. This park also has a permanent shade structure shielding little ones from UV rays and exhausting heat.

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2) Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Unless you are new to Dallas or have been living under a rock you probably have seen the magnificent white arch that stretches across the Trinity River, also known as the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Did you know that it is also a fabulous pedestrian walkway containing play areas, games and spray grounds?!!!! Not to mention the absolute, hands down best view of the city.  It’s beautiful in the daytime or evening. At night you can grab a snow cone from the ice truck at the front to cool down and for bite to eat just stroll on over to the adjacent Trinity Groves center. If you are looking for something different than your average park,  plan a playdate at the bridge!

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1) ALLAN SHIVERS PARK at Scottish Rite Hospital 

2222 Welborn St, Dallas, TX 75219

You have most likely driven past the Scottish Rite Dallas hospital, saw the crayon sculptures and thought “that’s cute” and went on your way. I did anyway. We recently discovered that those giant crayons are the entry way to the best park in Dallas we’ve ever been to, the Allan Shivers Park! We immediately fell in love with how beautiful and well kept it was. There were pretty flowers all around the perimeter and the soft foam covered ground was immaculate. I saw not one paint scratch or rusty bar. Safety and security are top notch here, the park is enclosed with a gate and serviced by friendly security guards. The playground equipment got an A+ in innovative, interactive and unique pieces. We played with musical stations, a scavenger hunt, electronics and make-believe! It’s shady, tranquil and relaxing. This park is number 1 on our list for a reason, if you’re in the area go see why for yourself!

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