Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Those Crazy Pyramid Things in North Arlington (Or, Stella: The Time Machine Journey)

If you are like me, you've driven by the pyramids in north Arlington more than a time or two in the past few weeks. If you are like me, you probably mentally made a note to google what the heck they are when you get home, and then you promptly forget. I mean, I don't forget anything. Just sayin'.

Those crazy pyramids, located in Lot F at the old ballpark at Copeland Road and I30, are part of the PY1 experience that is here in Arlington until March 1. The pyramids are actually a venue that hosts a variety of multimedia experiences incorporating lights, sounds and more. Stella, The Time Machine Journey and Through The Echoes are interactive, multi-sensory shows for fans young and old. On select nights, the pyramids also become a nightclub for the 21 and over set. You can find out more information here: www.py1.com 

The pyramid venue, from the visionary behind Cirque du Soleil, is a traveling structure can host as many as 1,000 guests. You are free to arrive before your show and enjoy a drink from the bar. Seating is available inside and out! There is also a food truck and a merch store. You can absolutely make an entire afternoon out of catching a show and performance at the pyramids.

 My family and I were invited to check out Stella, The Time Machine Journey on Sunday afternoon. And guys... The show was an absolute delight from start to finish! (And all three performers, pictured with three of my crew below, are local performers. I love that!)

When you first enter the pyramid, you grab a bean bag and find a seat on the floor. There is a display and live performers in the center of the room, and guests sit all around the performers. (There is seating on the perimeter should you need it) Once the show begins, you are engrossed right from the start. Stella (name chose because it means Star), the time machine, takes you back on a journey to the beginnings of earth. You get to smell, see, hear and feel. The performers enhance the experience, in which Stella, the AI guiding your journey, talks about how the earth came to be as it is now. Don't expect to sit back and relax- you will be asked to get to your feet more than a time or two to dance and experience the wonder.

We were lucky enough to get to meet the show's writer and director, Annie Brocoli, after the show. My girls got to ask her questions (My middle asked her why she named the AI Stella and my oldest asked how she came up with the idea for the show). Ms. Brocoli was every bit as delighted to interact with the kids who attended the show as the kids were delighted to be in attendance. She made the performance extra special for everyone there.

We brought four girls with us on Sunday, ages 4, 5, 6 and 10, and each one of them loved the show. They loved the performers, the dancing, getting sprayed with water (as part of the interactive experience). We highly, highly recommend this show for all ages!

Things to know before you go:

- Parking is $10.

- There isn't much "seating" at the show. The show's run time is only 40 minutes, and you are provided small bean bags on which to sit, but, if you need more comfortable accommodations, you may want to contact the venue ahead of time.

- There are bathrooms onsite. And they are quite nice and clean!

- No food or a drink inside the venue, so plan accordingly. The show is approximately 40 minutes long.

- Lots of indoor/outdoor seating is available to grab a drink or a snack before the show.

- This show is truly great for all ages. Dancing and fidgeting are both highly encouraged. There was a toddler next to me moving and grooving the entire time and she was so much fun to watch! This isn't a movie theater, sitting still and being quiet are NOT encouraged.

*Please note, my family did receive complimentary admission to the show in exchange for photos and a review on social media. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The BEST Indoor Play Spaces in Tarrant County (& Beyond!)

When my kiddos were younger, I was constantly in search of safe, fun, engaging indoor play areas for my girls that weren't attached to fast food restaurants.

In fact, it's been my dream for a while to open one right here in Arlington! (Feel free to send me your favorite spots that we need in town!)

It seems the past five years have brought loads and loads of awesome indoor play spots for kids in Tarrant County. From fun ball pits like the ones we grew up with to imaginative play spaces where kids can be vets, doctors, grocers and more, kids "museums" are so abundant now that parents of littles can pick what fits best for their kiddos!

Here is the Everything Arlington Round Up of the best best indoor play spaces in Tarrant County (and a few in Dallas!).

(Please note- the age recommendations on these spots are from our own personal opinions based on our experiences, and NOT the age limitations set forth by the place of business.)

Fort Worth:

The Happy Lark
Located near Hulen Mall, The Happy Lark is a playspace and kids' shop all in one. Shop for ultra modern kids clothes and toys, grab a coffee and let your little one run around! The playspace is a large, open room with lots of wooden toys and space for littles to roam.
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 5 and younger.

Play Studio Fort Worth
This new play area has both indoor and outdoor areas for kids to roam and explore. Parents can enjoy free coffee (and kids free juice boxes!) while kids paint, play, create and explore. We recently hosted a birthday party here and everyone loved it!
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 8 and younger.

Celebrations Fort Worth
This is the spot to bring your kiddos who have lots of energy and a need to roam! My kids go gaga for the "race track," a circular track where kiddos can ride Little Tikes Coupes and similar "vehicles" around until their heads spin! There is lots of room to roam, explore and play. Celebrations has an air hockey table, bounce house and more! Plus picnic tables, so pack a snack!
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 8 and younger.

Play Street Museum Fort Worth
Play Street Museum is the interactive, clean, modern play space of your dreams! With locations all over DFW, PSM is the perfect place to meet friends (bring your own coffee- outside drinks are encouraged!) for a fun, relaxing play date with young kids. Even better- the FW locations has story time every Tuesday at 11 am included with admission!
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 7 and younger.

The Happy Lab
Your childhood called. It is super envious that your kiddos get to experience this amazing ball pit and you didn't! Seriously. This spot just opened last month and is already going to be a spot your kids ask to go back to. Because ball pit.
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 6 and younger.

Peek N Play
Peek N Play, located by Grapevine Mills Mall, is the indoor play area that entertains all three of my kiddos! It has two levels for play, with the upstairs portion hosting LEGO play and books for older children. Downstairs you'll find a ball pit and slide, area for coloring and so much more! There is also a spot for parents to sit and access the WiFi and beverages for purchase.
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 10 and younger.

Greater DFW

The Kids Play Co. (Richardson)
This great spot has tons of "store fronts" that allow kids to imagine and create. My girls love the stationary bike turnstyle in the middle of the play space... And I love that they love it! Parents can sit and socialize while kids safely play. This spot hosts lots of fun activities, as well. Check the Website for more info!
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 7 and younger.

The Coop Frisco (Frisco)
The large ball pit and slide combo at The Coop will have your kids playing for hours, I promise! A large seating area for parents makes this place the best of both worlds for parents and kiddos.
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 8 and younger.

Jungle Joe's (Frisco)
Grab a sandwich and a seat at this play area with attached cafe. Kids can climb around and break for food as needed!
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 8 and younger.

Camp Dallas (Walnut Hill & 75)
This fun new spot is a toy store and ice cream parlor that encourages kids to play! Test out toys, sign up for a craft, enjoy a free snack and shop for birthday presents all in one place!
The EA crew recommends this spot for kiddos 5 and younger.

Spots we haven't made it to yet but are dying to try!
The Playard, Frisco
Little Land, Fairview
Kids Castle, Plano
Coo Coo's, Plano

We were so sad to learn that Small World Big Imagination in Southlake shut down over the summer!

What spots did we miss?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Best of the Holidays: Prairie Lights 2019

We love Christmas. We love lights and carols and Elf and Santa Claus. My girls regularly walk around the house humming "Carol of the Bells," and both Love Actually and Home Alone are playing in continuous loops on our TVs. We definitely love Christmas around here!

Last night we got to check out one of the area's most fun holiday attractions- Prairie Lights at Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie. 

Prairie Lights is a drive-through lights experience that takes Christmas lights viewing to new heights. Four million lights along two miles tell stories and spread holiday cheer. This year, my girls and I were delighted to see the story of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol brought to life in dazzling lights. Several other themed lights areas come together to create a spectacular show to ward off your inner Grinch.

Halfway through, we hopped out of the car to enjoy the Holiday Village. Underneath the large "Holiday Village" tent you can shop with local vendors or grab a picture with the man in red himself (additional fees apply for Santa photos), as well as grab a bite to eat and enjoy a fun new holiday show. In front of the tent, two carnival rides await kiddos who need to stretch their legs after so much car-riding.

Beyond the tent is the Walk-Thru Forest, a magical experience with tens of thousands of lights. We grabbed a hot chocolate for $2 (hot apple cider, kettle corn and more is also available!) and enjoyed the lights display. We enjoyed seeing landmarks from Christmas Around The World... We are a bit Paris-obsessed at my house, so the Eiffel Tower was our favorite!

Once you get back in your car, you continue making your way through more magical lights displays. We loved seeing lights displays from the 12 Days of Christmas. If you roll your windows down, you can hear the music that accompanies the images!

You end your ride with a drive through tunnel that includes thousands of twinkling lights that dance around to end your experience on a high note. We so enjoyed our experience!

A few things to note:

- Prices start at $45 per car. Fast passes are available for an additional fee. (We went Sunday, 12/8, and got in the car line at 6:22 pm. We got to the ticket counter at 8:06 pm. In hindsight, we wish we had purchased that fast pass!)

- Some indoor activities cost an additional amount.

- Allow about 1.5 hours to properly enjoy all activities. This does NOT include your wait time. Our total trip, from when we drove up to when we were back out on Lake Ridge Parkway, was almost four hours. That did not include taking photos with Santa or viewing the holiday show.

- Bring your camera. So many gorgeous photo opps!

- Dress for the weather. The Holiday Village is totally worth getting out of the car for!

- Prairie Lights is open every day from 6-10 pm. The final day of operation for the 2019 holiday season is December 31, 2019. 

*Please note: we were given a media pass which allowed us to attend Prairie Lights free of charge. All thoughts and comments are my own.*

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Community Partners: Exploring All That Arlington Has To Offer (Also: Why We Love Girl Scouts)

I enrolled each of my girls in Girl Scouts right when they began kindergarten. I was a Girl Scout and really enjoying my scouting years; I hoped my girls would be able to enjoy their experiences with Girl Scouts, as well.

I love so very many aspects of Girl Scouting, but one of the things I love the most is partnering with providers all over the community to learn about some of the businesses that make Arlington (and the surrounding area) tick. Through the years, my Girl Scout troops have participated in tours and other activities at a variety of places, including the Arlington Police Station, Grand Prairie Police and Fire Department, the Arlington Humane Society, The Emergency Center of Arlington, MedExpress in Arlington, Natural Grocers in Fort Worth, Peter Piper Pizza in Arlington and the list goes on! We've had floats in several Arlington parades, participated in fun adventures at Medieval Times and iFly and learned about how to conserve energy while overnighting at a local hotel (we've also overnighted at Sea World and the Perot Museum!).

Yes, Girl Scouts has provided my girls so many opportunities to get to know businesses in the area. Most recently, one of my troops had the opportunity to check out The Emergency Center in Arlington to learn about the Center's services and how the doctors and nurses there help patients who come through the front doors. The Center was incredibly accommodating. The doctor there performed an ultrasound on one of the girls, showed us how to do an X-ray and an MRI, helped us make first aid kits to keep in backpacks and cars and so much more. The Center did this all free of charge. The staff there wanted to participate in community outreach, helping to engage with community members and show off what they do at the Center. How awesome is that?!

I'm spending some time today researching more local companies that have similar outreach programs, where different groups (school groups, church groups, Scout groups, etc.) are encouraged to come and learn more about the facility's offerings, take a tour and perhaps engage in some sort of extra-curricular activity (such as a needs drive). If you know of any local companies, restaurants, stores, etc., that offer programs like this, please let me know or tag them in this post. I love getting out and about in the area and learning about all the awesome businesses that make Arlington great!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Kids and Art at the Meadows Museum in Dallas

After our recent trip to Paris, my oldest daughter and I have tried to become a bit more knowledgeable about art. She has now seen the Mona Lisa in person, as well as a computer-generated recreation of Van Gogh's most famous works (hello Atelier des Lumieres). She's seen Degas' famous paintings of ballerinas and paid homage to Paris' most famous work of art, the Eiffel Tower. So now, we figured, is a good time to start learning about art that is right here in DFW!

We started yesterday with a trip to the Meadows Museum at SMU in Dallas, a museum that we honestly didn't know was there until recently. The museum, which opened in 2001, features temporary exhibits on a rotating basis as well as a long term exhibition on load from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and is $12 for adults and $4 for seniors (kids 12 and under are free). Parking is complimentary in a covered garage, and the museum features a gift shop. 

Meadows recently debuted activity bags geared toward children to get them thinking about, and engaging with, art. The girls and I went yesterday to try out these new activity bags and spend our Sunday expanding our horizons. 

These bags feature prompt cards, a book called Ish, a mirror, a journal and writing implements. The included instructions tell kiddos that there is no need to be quiet in the galleries (although, man!, were those galleries quiet) because art is meant to be talked about and enjoyed. The instructions encouraged us to find a spot (on the floor in the middle of the one of the galleries is totally fine!) and begin talking about art.

We started by reading the book, one we had never heard of. It spoke of a young boy trying to figure out what art is. The neatest part for us was that the book was in Spanish and English, so my oldest was able to read aloud to us in Spanish (we love her dual language school!) and then check the English text to make sure she had properly understood what she read. The text was also written in Braille. 

After reading the book, we talked a bit about the art on the walls, what the artists may have been thinking out when they were painting, why they painted what they painted and so on. My middle daughter got busy creating a self portrait with the supplied mirror and crayons. My youngest created figures with the included wax sticks. My oldest wandered from gallery to gallery writing down questions in her notebook to be Googled later. 

The museum was about a 30 minute drive from Arlington and we spent about 1.5 hours in the galleries and an additional 15 minutes checking out the sculptures in front of the museum. This was a nice Sunday getaway that was equally educational and fun for my girls. Thanks to the Meadows Museum for hosting us!

*Please note: we were provided free admission in exchange for this review. All thoughts and comments are my own.*

Thursday, November 7, 2019

NTPA Presents The Addams Family

The Addams Family – Willow Bend Center of the Arts – NTPA Repertory Theatre If you’ve never been to a musical inside a mall, you’re missing out!

We had a chance to see The Addams Family, peformed by the NTPA Repertory Theatre, locateed inside the Willow Bend Center of the Arts in Plano- and it was a delight! Parking was easy in Structure D and led directly to the entrance of the theater. The concession stand was right at the ticket booth, and it had plenty snacks and drinks. The facility has multiple theaters so more than one show can be going on at a time - despite that, we only heard what was going on in our theater.

The theaters are intimate and the cast frequently ventured out into the audience, to the delight of many. The show, coming in at over 2 hours with an intermission, kept the attention of two 7-year-olds the day after Halloween! The cast was excellent, with Morticia and Wednesday as true powerhouses, however, the scene-stealer was Lurch, with great comedic timing and impressive stature (he’s 6’7'!). The costumes and makeup were delightful and worked well in tandem. We drove out to Plano from far west Fort Worth and south Arlington, and this is our ringing endorsement: it’s worth the drive!

For the upcoming holiday season, the NTPA will feature Scrooge'd. Go catch the show and support local theater!

*Please note: Everything Arlington received free tickets to this performance in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions belong to the article's author.*

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Night Out at Pumpkin Nights

The temperatures have dropped and the days are getting shorter -- it FINALLY feels like fall in North Texas.

And what better way to celebrate the season than a visit to Pumpkin Nights, the newest holiday attraction located right here in Arlington!

But before you brave the crowds, here are a few things you should know before your visit:

Pumpkin Nights is set up at Howell Farm off of West Division Street. Plug the address into your GPS and keep your eyes open! There is a lack of signage and the farm sits on the other side of the railroad tracks so you could easily miss it if you are not paying attention.

As you pull in, there are two small parking lots at the front of Pumpkin Nights. But you will more than likely be directed to the back lot which is about a quarter of a mile from the entrance. Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty! You will be walking in tall grass, dirt and gravel (stroller not recommended).

Howell Farm is a working farm and much of it is dark. The organizers of Pumpkin Nights had to bring in additional electricity to light up the attraction. There is a portable spotlight in the parking lot but the path to the entrance itself is not lit. You may want to carry a small flashlight or pull out your cellphone to help.

Once you enter Pumpkin Nights, it is a sight to behold. Thousands of carved (foam) pumpkins are strung along the pathways and there are several themed “lands” to walk through. Unfortunately, some of the lands were still under construction on the media preview night but what was already there was impressive. If you enjoy driving around in December, looking at Christmas lights, then you would definitely enjoy Pumpkin Nights for the lights alone!

Come dressed to impress (for social media)! Pumpkin Nights provides the perfect backdrop and has several staged areas for unique and fun photo ops!

Speaking of fun, there is a play area for the little ones with giant seesaws and several yard games. But keep in mind, this area is also lit with a portable spotlight and is otherwise a bit dark.
There are also two inflatables in a separate open field. So if the kids aren’t tired enough, you can let them jump out the rest of their energy before bed.

In addition to the walk through decorations, there are other attractions included in your Pumpkin Nights admission -- The Spirit of Pumpkins Fire Show, outdoor screenings of The Nightmare Before Christmas, live owl, live pumpkin artist and face painting (varies by date).

Several food trucks are parked along the perimeter of the farm and there is a bar located inside the barn that serves beer, wine and vodka infused sparkling water.

Pumpkin Nights has an on-site store that sells numerous light up accessories as well as t-shirts. The souvenirs range in price from one dollar to $25. If you don’t want to spend the money, keep the kids away from the blinking tent in the open field!

Pumpkin Nights is open nightly 5:30 - 10:30pm through November 3rd. Tickets are only available online at www.pumpkinnights.com. Use code Stephanie25 for 25 percent off full price tickets.

*Everything Arlington was given free access to this event in exchange for social media promotion. All thoughts and opinions are the author's own.*