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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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

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.

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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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