Silver Spring Family Run April 1st: Ben’s Run to Benefit Children’s National and Pediatric Cancer Research

Ben’s Run on April 1st in Silver Spring – Great Time, Great Cause

Each year my family and I run for Ben Goldfogle, a boy in our neighborhood who we sadly did not get the honor of meeting. Ben bravely fought leukemia under the care of Children’s National for six and a half years, until he passed away from an infection in September 2009 after his second bone marrow transplant. He was just one month from his 12th birthday. This race honors Ben’s amazing spirit and the many other children who battle life-threatening illnesses every day.

This April 1st, 2017 will be the 7th annual Ben’s Run, a 5 miler, 5 K and 1 mile family- and dog-friendly race to “Ben-a-Fit” pediatric cancer research. Funds raised support clinical trials to find better treatments for kids like Ben who fought cancer and then relapsed. The run has raised more than $430,000 total, and this year our registrations and donations will bring that total over the $500,000 level.

My children, their classmates and friends in the community are deeply connected to this cause. They see Ben’s photo, and hear stories from his friends and family, and feel committed to doing what they can to support the research so that more children’s lives can be saved. My kids also have a great time running and walking with their friends and family, and participating in the fun after the run. Although we love attending lots of 1 mile and 5K runs as a family, we do believe Ben’s Run in Silver Spring is one of the most fun races a local family can attend.

Register for Ben’s Run today and save! 

If you register for Ben’s Run before March 19 you will receive a fabulous discount: Registration is just $30! Starting March 20 registration goes up to $35.

There’s a great deal on family registration, too: Families of 4 (and up to 8) can register for a flat rate of $100.

Children under age 5 are free. Kid-friendly, leashed dogs can participate in the 5K and 1 mile runs.

You and your family can also fundraise for Ben’s Run through your race participation.  And although I hope you will join us there, if you cannot attend Ben’s Run you also donate to this amazing cause.

Ben’s Run Important dates & times 

Friday, March 31, 2017: Packet pick up from 6-8 p.m. at Stonegate Elementary School, 14811 Notley Road, Silver Spring MD 20905.

Saturday, April 1, 2017: Race day

7 a.m. Packet pick up/late registration

8 a.m. Welcome and warm-ups

8:30 a.m. 5 mile, 5K and 1 mile races begin

The races will start and finish at Stonegate Elementary School.

Register for Ben’s Run and join us on the course! 

West End Plastic Surgery Botox and Facial Fillers Event on March 14 at Bella Bethesda

Beautiful young woman gets beauty injection in forehead from sergeant. Isolated over white background.

Book your easy evening Botox appointment with West End Plastic Surgery‘s Dr. Paul Ruff at Bella Bethesda Salon!

Every few months Bella Bethesda Salon brings Dr. Ruff from his Foggy Bottom West End Plastic Surgery offices to the convenient downtown Bethesda location for Bella Beauty nights.

The next Bella Beauty evening with Dr. Ruff of West End Plastic Surgery is on Tuesday March 14th from 6-8pm, and you are invited. 

Botox and fillers

The Bella Beauty event will offer Botox & Filler injections. I will tell you from experience that a conservative bit of Botox by an experienced plastic surgery professional such as Dr. Ruff will seriously change your over-35 face. I have had a high forehead with genetic expressive wrinkles my entire life. But in my thirties, the lines across the forehead became more permanent, even leaving deep, dark lines across faces when I was not raising my eyebrows. 

Last year I began receiving a small amount of Botox in my forehead and brow, and those deep lines are completely gone. Otherwise my face looks like me. Well, like the younger and fresher and better me, but the integrity and features of my face are the same. There is no alien-like, unnatural or creepy results. After all the facial appointments and expensive products could not diminish those hard, aging lines, this is $350 well-spent on real results.

Dr. Ruff will also be on hand for the other popular non-surgical anti-aging treatment: fillers. I have not experienced these but I can attest that Dr. Ruff is all about a completely natural look. You will be safe and gorgeous in his very experienced hands. In fact, Dr. Ruff was voted in The Washingtonian by area doctors one of the top plastic surgeons in the DC area. Check out the surgical solutions offered by Dr. Ruff at West End Plastic Surgery.

How to book your spot 

A $50 deposit is required to reserve your appointment, however it will be refunded if you do not receive a service. Skin consultations are complimentary, and even those new to injectables are welcome to come by for one-to-one advice on what will give you the most youthful results. Call Bella Bethesda to schedule your appointment before all the spots are gone! 301-718-9111.

Blow outs discounted

As an added bonus, blow dry appointments including complimentary treatments will be available at Bella Beauty that evening for $36, garnering you $15-$20 savings on their regular blow out prices.

Do not miss this event! 

Disclosure: I have received discounted services from Bella Bethesda and West End Plastic Surgery in the past, per older posts on A Parent in Silver Spring. No additional compensation received. Choosing to share on social media and all opinions are my own. 

GIVEAWAY: Ella Enchanted at Adventure Theatre MTC

Catch Ella Enchanted at Adventure Theatre MTC…and enter for a chance to win 4 free tickets for your family!

Ella Enchanted 

February 3 – March 19, 2017

A co-commission with First Stage, Milwaukee, WI
Adapted from the Newberry Honor book by Gail Carson Levine
By Karen Zacarias – Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma – Directed by Mary Hall Surface
Recommended for all ages

Our daughters were fans of the Anne Hathaway version of Ella Enchanted, but that favorite status has been usurped by the Adventure Theatre MTC version! This production is riotously funny, especially beloved local actor Lara Zinn playing the trouble-prone fairy Lucinda. (Eve immediately recognized her as Ariel from the Olney Theatre’s Little Mermaid a few years back.)

Gorgeous puppetry adds fantasy to the scenes, putting the audience under the always-imaginative spell of the Adventure Theatre. The main character of Ella is a strong role model for girls. As the actor who portrays her, Malinda Kathleen Reese, told The Washington Post, “I think Ella is the ultimate fairy-tale feminist. She doesn’t let herself sit in self-pity when something awful happens to her; she picks herself back up and fights.”

Make it a sure thing and get tickets.

Or try your luck at this giveaway! You just might win four tickets to the Ella Enchanted time and date of your choice (subject to availability).

Win 4 tickets to Ella Enchanted

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre Presents a Dress Up Ballet Tea Party and Cinderella

This February and March you can make your child’s weekends pretty special thanks to these two Cinderella-riffic offerings from MBT!

Sunday February 26: Dress-Up Ballet Tea Party at Metropolitan Ballet Theatre

Want to meet the characters from MBT’s upcoming ballet, Cinderella, before the performance? You are cordially invited to join us at our Dress-up Ballet Tea Party in February! Geared towards children age preschool – elementary, young attendees will enjoy:

– Meeting Cinderella and other characters from the ballet
– Experiencing a ballet class and a craft
– A delicious sweet tea party

Choose from three tea times on Sunday, February 26th: 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, & 2:00 PM

Tickets are $18 per child (parents are free). Reserve your tickets online (this will sell out!) or call 301.762.1757.

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre & Academy
220 Perry Parkway
Gaithersburg, MD 20877 

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre presents Cinderella, A Ballet in Two Acts

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre presents a different full-length ballet each spring, and this years production of Cinderella, A Ballet in Two Acts is sure to delight audiences of all ages. You will watch as the lovely Cinderella meets her whimsical Fairy Godmother, the fateful Fairies of the Four Seasons, and then before midnight, she meets her handsome Prince. The stepsisters and stepmother might try to diminish Cinderella’s beautiful spirit, but Cinderella, with the help of her friends, is destined to become the kingdom’s Princess and live happily ever after. Choreography by Elizabeth Odell Catlett and Katerina Rodgaard.

Performance Dates:
Saturday, March 18th 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Sunday, March 19th 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM
There is a special post-performance “cast chat” for children of all ages after performances on March 18 at 12pm and March 19 at 5 PM.

Get tickets online or by calling 301.762.1757. 

Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center
Montgomery College
51 Mannakee Street
Rockville, MD 20850

My latest in Washington Post: Best Indoor Play Places for DC Kids in Winter

These indoor destinations are the fun-filled remedy for your kid’s winter blues

by Jessica McFadden for The Washington Post Weekend & Going Out Guide

We love raising our kids in the D.C. area — except in January, February and March, when outdoor play options are limited, cold weather drives us indoors and schools are often inexplicably closed. If you and your crew have had your fill of family-focused hygge this winter, check out these 12 get-out-of-the-house destinations filled with adventure, learning and exercise for kids.

Read full article.

Artwork for this Weekend print cover story and online version by Brenna Thummler

Stories of Dr. Seuss at Arts Barn Gaithersburg


Stories of Dr. Seuss

Presented by Metropolitan Ballet Ensemble

February 20, 2017 • 11am • Special Presidents’ Day show! 
Tickets: $12 – Purchase Tickets Online

The whimsical and wonderful Dr. Seuss stories, “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” come to life through dance, performed by the Metropolitan Ballet Ensemble. Afterward, celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with activities, crafts, treats and snacks. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

What a great activity for a no-school day!

This post is sponsored by Arts Barn Gaithersburg. 

Chrysler Pacifica Real Mom (and Kid) Review



After ohhing and ahhing about the cool new Chrysler Pacifica this fall, the A Parent in Silver Spring crew had the chance to test drive the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica one for one week this December. I really liked this fully-loaded minivan, but my three children LOVED it. Charlie, Eve and Alice were living in bummed out land when they came home yesterday and the ride and drive folks had taken it back to the dealership.

Usually the kids are crawling into my 2015 three-row SUV, so they were in heaven with the one-touch sliding doors and increased cabin and legroom. Although I drove a minivan for nearly ten years, the kids protested that it was “Nothing like this Pacifica minivan!” Which is true…we sure did not have Nappa leather-trimmed seats quite like this. Nor did we have a built-in shop vac for easy cleaning of dirt and snack messes.

The children were obsessed with the view they received from the Tri-Pane Panoramic Sunroof, and I appreciated the overhead view provided by the backup camera — a new technology I had not before used and found so helpful when navigating a packed car.



Features found in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica include Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist, which will find a space and steer you in using ultrasonic parking sensors, and the Uconnect Theater with dual HD seatback-mounted touchscreens with built-in games, apps, USB video and a Blu-Ray/DVD. The touch-screen features, navigation and sound system controls are more intuitive than most new cards I have experienced.


But most importantly? It is a really sharp looking car, with a body style that in no way screams old school dumpy minivan. It’s crazy elegant and sleek.


I adored how the kids could open and close the doors with the simple push-button control, rather than yanking and clicking and pulling (and me praying that they didn’t screw up the mechanism!)


And after two years of SUV life, I have to admit that I really missed the deep back cargo space that a minivan provides.


If I were in the market for a new car, I would be all about the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. My kids are in still in mourning that we had to give it back.

Learn more about the Pacifica.

Find a Chrysler dealer near you.

Holiday Outing for DC Families: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Adventure Theatre MTC


We are massive Adventure Theatre MTC groupies now, but back in December of 2007 we selected Adventure Theatre for our then four-year-old Charlie’s first stage production ever. It was a two-person telling of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a book we had been reading to him at bedtime. We guessed that the small theater, children-centric storytelling and one-act format would be a great first foray to theatre for our preschooler.

We were so right. The outing was a success, as Charlie was awed and delighted by the experience, and riveted through the entire play. He made so many exciting connections during and after the show. He loved how his imagination was the “third actor” in the production, as he watched the two talented actors transform themselves from Lucy to the White Witch, or from Edmund to Aslan.

This past Sunday was Charlie’s 13th birthday, and was also the opening weekend of the 2016 production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which runs this month through December 31st. Our entire family attended, plus Charlie’s fellow 7th grader best friend. And all of us, from the parents in their forties to our kindergartener Alice, were completely entranced by the play as we were transported to Narnia. I love that the play was just as satisfying for Charlie at age 13 as it was when he was barely four.


The production was different, more robust in set design and even more imaginative than the one we saw nine years ago, but the acting was just as stellar. There are again two actors who through voices, mannerism and props transform themselves to all of the characters, with the core roles of Lucy and Peter narrating the story. From a whining Edmund, to a perfectionist Susan, to a prancing Mr. Tumnus, and of course a courageous Aslan, the entire holiday-feeling story came to life before our eyes.

The show is the ideal way to celebrate the season with your children. Tickets are bound to sell out for the weekend and winter vacation shows, so be sure to reserve your tickets now!

Photos by DJ Corey Photography. Review tickets received. No additional or monetary compensation. All opinions are my own. 

Best Christmas Tree Ever: Tree Classics Snap Tree


Putting up your Christmas tree should always be joyful and easy. We learned this thanks to TreeClassics and will never go back!

The first year of our marriage, Chris and I purchased a live Christmas tree from a local lot. We lugged it home atop my Jetta, scratching the car’s paint and getting sap in every crevice of our one-bedroom apartment. The next year newborn Charlie had just joined our little family, so Chris took care of the tree transportation to our Silver Spring house solo. That tree made my sister wheeze, would not balance in its stand and our cat knocked it down after we had painstakingly decorated it.

For our third married Christmas, I again sent Chris out to get a tree from the Boy Scout lot, and he returned home with a big faux tree. While I whined about how much I loved real trees, Chris assembled the fake one branch by branch. There were 75 branches in all, and they were coordinated by size and color. It took about an hour to sort the branches and then put it up, and the needles got everywhere. After the branches were on, I administered yards of lights.

The entire process took longer than going out to buy a live tree, but at least all of the labor happened at home.

This two-hour ritual happened annually for eleven years. Although we collect ornaments and love how warm and welcoming our home looks with a decorated tree, Chris and I always dreaded the bother of putting it up. The children could not be involved in the process until Mom and Dad emerged sweaty and irritated after our assembly and lighting roles.

And then this year, contacted me with an offer to review a two-piece, pre-lit, super real-looking and luxe Snap Tree.


It came in two big pieces in a box. The bottom section on a rolling stand that rolled into place, already standing straight. The second piece effortlessly snapped onto the other.  Then we plugged it in and justlikethat, it was all aglow.

It took five minutes, tops.

Almost immediately after deciding to trim the tree the children were happily hanging their favorite ornaments remembered from years past.

Our Christmas rituals are forever changed!


We chose the Tree Classics Colorado Blue Spruce Snap Tree with clear LED lights, which looks and feels so real. TreeClassics tree needles are made with Real Feel Polyethylene technology that is trademarked for its incredibly realistic-looking needles. SnapTrees also are easy to stow and store after Christmas; they come with a built-in rolling stand and custom storage bag for storing the tree upright.

This gorgeous, sets up in a snap Christmas tree has changed my (Christmas) life. Really.


Would you like to see a video of the tree so you can view those you’d-swear-they’re-real branches for yourself?

We also received from TreeClassics a fancy new tree skirt, the Satin & Sequin Tree Skirt, which adds beauty and sparkle to our tree decor.


And we were delighted by the traditional hand-blown glass Merry & Bright Ornament Collection.


But truly the most incredible items on the TreeClassics site are their SnapTrees. So many of them, including the Colorado Blue Spruce that we love, are on sale right now! You can choose the height and the width/tree style that works best for your space. You can also choose whether you would like color-changing or clear LED lights.

If you order this year during the sale, you can save up t0 50 percent off (plus free shipping) for Christmas 2016.

And most importantly, you will save yourself so much time. Join me in the land of Christmas Trees 2.0, where they are immediately assembled and look prettier than a Christmas card.


Product received for review. No monetary compensation received. 

The Inn at Pocono Manor: A Wes Anderson Style Family Getaway


Last weekend my family I drove up to Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains and went back in time to an earlier era during our three day, two night stay at The Inn at Pocono Manor. If you have ever wanted to live on the sets of The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Royal Tenenbaums, then this is the place. We had a otherworldly, magical, family-focused time. It was awesome!


The ambiance of the entire hotel is like a retro Christmas dream, with dozens of decorated trees and holiday charm everywhere.


We spent a good hunk of our time at The Inn at Pocono Manor enjoying the Magical Fireside Christmas activities for families. Magical Fireside Christmas is an onsite ski chalet for kids packed with Christmas activities. You can meet and take photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, drink cocoa, decorate cookies, admire a miniature train display, ogle a playhouse-sized gingerbread house, watch Christmas kid movies and make a huge selection of Christmas crafts. There are even deer to feed. The kids made about seven ornaments each, helped by the elf-suited staff. Chris and I enjoyed the on-site bar in this Christmas land where parents were welcome to give their hot cocoa a little kick.


Another hit with the kids was signing up for some of the outdoor activities on offer through Manor Sports. In true Anderson style, we elected to practice our aim on the BB gun and archery courses.


Our large suite had plenty of room, and beds, for the five of us. Even though we had one of most-well appointed rooms in the place with a glorious mountain view, you can snag this room for just $179 a night, and standard rooms can be booked for less than $120 (depending on your dates). What a deal!


The kids loved swimming in the indoor pool and it was the perfect bathwater temperature.


The family game room was packed with pool tables, air hockey and board games. The children made new friends in there while Chris and I read our books in front of the roaring lobby fire.


In the evening, the pub had a live guitarist and Alice took to the dance floor to dance to the ’70’s and ’80’s tunes. Charlie and Eve opted for blowing their allowance in the the arcade.


Our lazy booties loved that we did not have to leave the resort for meals. The morning breakfast and evening dinner buffets were hearty and stocked with lots of traditional and delicious choices. There are two pubs and a pizza place at the Inn as well.


We did leave the Inn for a little Poconos sight-seeing, such as The Candle Shoppe of the Poconos, which boasts The Haunted — a historical tour of an old monkey research laboratory. (This video explains.) The guided tour was simply historical, but the decorations are campy Halloween macabre. The children loved it and this outing played right into our back-in-time weekend vibe.


The Inn at Pocono Manor would be a fab place to go skiing in the winter, with its proximity to lots of ski resorts as well as its northern location making it a surer bet for fresh snow than the usual Maryland and Virginia spots. Check out the Inn’s Ski and Stay and Snow Tubing packages. There are also New Year’s Eve family promotions if you feel like celebrating 2017 immersed in charm. And in December, January and February, you can enjoy sleigh rides and more winter activities during your stay.

All five of us loved snuggling by the fires, eating the comfort food and spending time together as a family at The Inn at Pocono Manor. You should check it out! I recommend the lobby for prime people watching and fireside reading.


Our stay was hosted by The Inn at Pocono Manor. Some activities and meals were covered by us, but everything else was comped. No monetary compensation received. All opinions and  movie references are mine.