a fun, free resource for DC area families

FREE Blowouts, Massages and More at Bubbles Bethesda Home Depot Square

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Get all dolled up tomorrow Saturday October 25 from 12-4pm at the Bubbles Salon at Home Depot Square in Bethesda!

There will be a live DJ, drinks, makeup applications, seated massages and more.  You can call ahead at 301.767.9889 to schedule your free blowout appointment slot.

I will confess that when I do make personal appointments for pampering or hot-tening, I always book them on Saturdays. And I always rack up a hefty charge to look and feel good (while the kids have fun with Daddy.)

But how awesome is it that this Saturday you can get pampered and hotted up for free? With a drink?

Grab your friends. Give the kids to Dad. (Hey, he can take ‘em to the Truck Touch in Bethesda! Or Frozen on Ice!

And head to Bubbles Home Depot Square in Bethesda for the full-on Beyoncé treatment.

Bubbles Home Depot Square 

10462 Auto Park Avenue

Bethesda, MD 

DIRECTIONS & MAP

South Moon Under National Harbor Style Event


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The beautiful and oh-so-splendidly-stylish Maria Jose of Very Busy Mama is hosting a fabulous, free, fall fashion event.

Saturday September 20, 2014 1-4pm at South Moon Under at National Harbor

Maria and the fashion experts at South Moon Under are going to help us update our fall wardrobes. They are giving us an awesome 20 percent off our purchases, free visits at the Braid Bar and mini-makeovers to update our makeup.

At 2pm Maria will take the floor and introduce you to a few friends who will be sporting some new fall styles. I will be one of them. Please, please pray for me that my Spanx hold it all in and that I don’t trip in my heels.

But seriously, South Moon Under is one of my long-standing favorite places in the DC area for stylish looks that are great quality but do not totally break the bank. Premium denim, cozy sweaters, on-point dresses and the coolest accessories are all ours for the shopping.

Please join me and a great group of women. It will be a glam girls’ DAY out since heaven knows we are often too tired to go anywhere at night!

RSVP here.

Also, here are some of my very favorite items South Moon Under has on its website and shelves for fall!

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You may have heard of New York Fashion Week, but have you heard of Silver Spring Fashion Week? Me either, so I made it up. This week on A Parent in Silver Spring and A Parent in America, the posts will be full of style events, giveaways and fall fashion features. Head over to A Parent in America for an eShakti gift certificate giveaway, good to use to choose you own fashion pick on the site, and more fun throughout the week!

No compensation received for promotion or attendance at this event. Pure fun and community support, please join us!

$25 off new UberFAMILY: Uber DC car rides with car seats

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Do you use Uber around DC or when you travel for work? I do. After decades of hailing cabs and waiting on hold with dispatchers, I think this on-demand car/driver service is completely the bee’s knees.

And now you can use Uber with your kids…without lugging a car seat! You can now grab a ride when you are downtown and car seat less without that horrible guilty feeling that they should be firmly five-point buckled.

Starting today, Uber is making life easier for parents in the DC metro area with the launch of uberFAMILY, their new on-demand car seat option. With the touch of a button and a $10 surcharge, parents can easily request a ride that’s equipped with a car seat.

To develop uberFAMILY, Uber DC teamed up with The Car Seat Lady’s Dr. Alisa Baer. She trained Uber’s partner drivers on how to safely secure the seats — which were all manufactured specifically for Uber by IMMI.

Learn more about UberFAMILY, including how to request UberFAMILY on your Uber app and safety details

To celebrate the launch, this first week the $10 surcharge is waived, and A Parent in Silver Spring readers are gifted with $25 your first Uber ride! (new riders only). 

To get your free $25 Uber credit….

1) Use promo code SilverSpringParent for $25 off

2) Download the App and enter the code.

3) Request uberFAMILY and be connected to a highly rated driver with a car seat.

Expires 11/1/14. Excludes uberTAXI.

Already have Uber? Simply toggle to your vehicle option at the very bottom of the screen (uberFAMILY is available on both uberX and UberBLACK), and tap the ‘FAMILY’ button above the slider.

I was given a credit to my Uber account as thanks for spreading the word about the launch. All opinions are mine. 

Free Summer Arts Events for Families

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Free Summer Saturdays at the Corcoran through August 30, 2014
This summer, join the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design for its Free Summer  Saturdays series of programming, including Gallery tours, workshops, demonstrations, and performances. Admission to the museum and to these special programs and workshops is FREE every Saturday between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend. Be inspired by the Corcoran’s permanent collection and special summer exhibitions American Metal: The Art of Albert Paley (June 28—September 28, 2014) and Mark Tribe: Plein Air. (July 19—September 28, 2014).

Michael’s Stores Kids Club Summer Saturdays July 5 – August 2 10am-12pm Noon
Let your kids explore their creativity while you shop! Only $2 per child reserves 30 minutes for your creative kid. Sessions starting every half hour from 10:00 am – 11:30 am.

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Saturday July 12: Free Art Workshop for Youth Age 10-16, parents welcome
1:30–4:30 pm AFL-CIO, 815 16th St, NW Washington D.C. 20005
Celebrate artist Ralph Fasanella’s mission with an afternoon of art and activism. Students will work side-by-side with museum educators on a paint portrait (no experience necessary!). They’ll also get a guided tour of the AFL-CIO and a special viewing of Ralph Fasanella’s documentary on the importance of labor history, and of the role of the arts in remembering it. Space is limited and registration closes soon. Just download and return this form to bbaker@unionplus.org, or contact Brittany at 202-778-9833 with any questions. Event flyer.

Saturday July 19: The Ultimate Urban Safari at The Corcoran
Family Day 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Free; no registration required. All ages welcome!
Join us for a wild summer day dedicated to the animal kingdom! Spurred on by Albert Paley’s exhibition, discover how creatures big and small can inspire through workshop activities, book readings, and wildlife specialists. Participate in an animal welfare community service project that day and make a difference! Bring items to donate to the Washington Humane Society; check the full list.

 

Free Family Party on Sunday + $15 Gift Card & Swag for Attendees!

A Parent in Silver Spring

I am so excited that our RUUM American Kids Wear party at  The Mall in Columbia is THIS SUNDAY!

I am soooo hoping to see you and your kids there!

What you and your kids will receive at this awesome event:

  • Free admission
  • $15 off $50 purchase
  • Goody bags full of RUUM swag
  • Chances to win one of the big gift card door prizes!
  • Portrait by professional children’s caricature artist
  • Fun print-outs from the on-site photo booth
  • Kids activities, games, crafts and more coolness
  • No crowds – they are shutting down the store just for us!

Parents looking to stock up on shorts, shirts, dresses, shoes, accessories, active wear and more for the summer ahead will love the exclusive savings that you can tack on in addition to all of RUUM’s on-going specials and promotions.

RUUM has children’s clothes for girls and boys in baby, toddler, and big kids up to 14Y.

On top of all this fun, several lucky families will win door prizes of RUUM gift cards!

I will be there with my husband and kids and I would love love love to meet you all. My family and I have become big fans of the colorful, stylish, affordable and high-quality clothing for kids at RUUM. Check out some of my favorite styles at the bottom of this post.

ADMISSION TO THE PARY: Simply print this post and show it at the door or save and show the post image on your phone. 

SUNDAY JUNE 1, 2014

6-8pm

RUUM American Kids Wear

The Mall at Columbia

store located on the lower level between Sears and Bank of America

10300 Little Patuxent Parkway

Columbia, MD

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Disclosure: I am excited to have partnered with RUUM in order to host this party for readers.

INVITATION: Free Party (with swag!) at RUUM on Sunday June 1

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Save the date and mark your calendars for a private, free, awesome family party exclusively for readers of A Parent in Silver Spring! RUUM is shutting down the store just so that my friends and I can have a party.

RUUM American Kids Wear, located at The Mall in Columbia, is cordially inviting you and your family to a fabulous party to celebrate summer.

At the party your children will be treated to complimentary caricature drawings by a professional cartoon artist, unlimited photos in the cool in-store photo booth, goody bags of RUUM swag and accessories, and more family fun activities.

Parents looking to stock up on shorts, shirts, dresses, shoes, accessories, active wear and more for the summer ahead will love the exclusive $10 off a $50 purchase — a savings that you can tack on in addition to all of RUUM’s on-going specials and promotions. RUUM has children’s clothes for girls and boys in baby, toddler, and big kids up to 14Y.

On top of all this fun, several lucky families will win door prizes of RUUM gift cards!

I will be there with my husband and kids and I would love love love to meet you all. My family and I have become big fans of the colorful, stylish, affordable and high-quality clothing for kids at RUUM. Check out some of my favorite styles at the bottom of this post.

ADMISSION TO THE PARY: Simply print this post and show it at the door or save and show the post image on your phone. 

Please mark your calendars and save the date:

SUNDAY JUNE 1, 2014

6-8pm

RUUM American Kids Wear

The Mall at Columbia

store located on the lower level between Sears and Bank of America

10300 Little Patuxent Parkway

Columbia, MD

ruum-american-kids-wear.jpg

Disclosure: I am excited to have partnered with RUUM in order to host this party for readers.

Summer 365: Summer Camp Experts

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This summer my husband and I are considering sending our 10 year old son Charlie to his first overnight summer camp experience. I know I am more nervous at the prospect than is Charlie! Thankfully, the camp experts — “counselors” — at Summer 365 are available to walk my family and me through this process!

Summer 365 is a summer camp placement service that makes the entire camp research, selection, registration and preparation process as painless and enjoyable as possible…at no additional charge to families! Their job is to make our job as parents easier. I was honored to interview Summer 365 founder and chief Summer 365 counselor Susan Kasnett and her daughter and fellow camp expert Lauren Kasnett about the nerve-wracking process of summer camp selection.

how-roundA Parent in Silver Spring: What exactly does Summer 365 do to help a family place their child in an overnight summer camp? 

Susan Kasnett, Summer 365: We provide a dynamic service to our families. We can consult with parents and families via Skype, on the phone, in person, online. We are coaches and we are matchmakers to find the best camp for the child. It can be an overwhelming process to find the right camp, so we help make it easy and fun.

Mothers are always asking their friends for recommendations when it comes to kids’ activities. But with camps, what is good for one child may not be good for another. What we can do is customize the search. We evaluate what is available and what makes each camp special and unique. We schedule camp tours for parents, and we ourselves are constantly touring, personally visiting camps. We travel each and every summer so we can have hands-on experience of the camps, and we meet with camp directors throughout the year.

We are on hand so parents can differentiate from the multitude of camps. We are always looking to learn more about the camps available, and we have relationships with hundreds of camps – single sex, co-ed, you name it. This season we signed on 15 new camps and we are proud of the diversity of all the programs available.

We are here so parents don’t have to go it alone.

I cannot believe it is already April! Is it too late find a summer camp for our children for this summer 2014? 

Susan Kasnett: It is definitely not too late for summer 2014! Some do fill up, sure. But the value of our service is that in only a couple of minutes, if parents call us, we can find a great place for their child. We know which camps are full and which have space.

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Connect with Summer 365!

Summer 365 FacebookSummer 365 on Twitter

Summer 365 on Instagram ~ Summer 365 on Pinterest

Summer 365 e-mail

 

I know about day camps in the DC area, but I am completely clueless when it comes to summer camps. I usually sign my children up for specialty day camps in the summer — a week of chess day camp, a week of dance day camp. Do traditional summer sleep-away camps have similar activity focuses? 

Susan Kasnett: For children age 8, 9, 10 — younger children in camp age —  a more traditional camp is the best fit. Specialty camps that focus on just one area of practice or focus are usually for older kids.

Lauren Kasnett: Camps today have incredibly diverse and exciting offerings! We are seeing entrepreneurship workshops, camps focusing on health and wellness activities such as yoga, teaching farm to table food with gardening and cooking, science and technology, video game design, new exercise practices such as Zumba! Whatever your child is individually interested in, we can help you find a camp that offers it and offers even more activities that you can imagine.

Susan Kasnett: Camps have trapeze classes! Recording studios, photography, so many specialized activities. After a busy, sometimes stressful school year full of SAT preparation, studying for bar mitzvahs and lots of homework, being able to follow exciting and fun pursuits can be  a dream for kids. Of course, if your child requires special tutoring during the summer, many camps offer that should you need.

Is 10 years old too young for summer camp?

Susan Kasnett: Absolutely not. Many kids begin at age 8 or even younger. Keep in mind that the camp experience ends by age 15, and we firmly believe that camp is an important part of a child’s education and development. If you know you are interested in “someday” having your children experience camp, do not start too young! By starting at 8 or as close to that as possible, you are setting your child up for the greatest success to integrate into the camp experience and find space at the best camp for him or her.

It is a well kept secret that camps are incredible for a child’s growth and development. Camping builds self esteem, self confidence, strength and creates incredible leaders.

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I have to confess, we have not done a lot of sleepovers with our 10 year old. For his first camp experience, should he only stay for a weekend? Or a week? How does it work for a first-time camper? 

Susan Kasnett: We recommend a two week minimum camp stay. We believe it takes a child 10 days to acclimate and learn the camp flow. We recommend at least two weeks for kids to get the full experience.

You can start having your child sleep out as practice for camp right now, but you will be very surprised at how ready your child already is for the camp experience. Lauren here was always calling me from sleepovers at friends’ homes, but she went off to camp at 7 and a half years old and she was a wonderful camper!

Won’t kids get homesick?

Susan Kasnett: It is shown that 97 percent of children do experience a small amount of homesickness. But you can prepare your child for that feeling by talking about it beforehand. As a parent, it is important to show confidence in your child’s ability to go to camp and do well on his own. Do not project fear of homesickness, project confidence.

Camps and their counselors are so well prepared for campers to be homesick. They have hours and hours of training to serve as true counselors for the children. And you will not believe how quickly that feeling will pass once your child becomes a part of the camp groove, and you will not believe how self-reliant and mature your children will come home after camp!

Lauren Kasnett: Many camps have rookie days and parent/child weekends where campers can see the camps in person. It is not a prerequisite to attending that camp, but these sneak peeks are great ways to see a camp’s energy and spirit. These experiences allow children to take the tour, check out the camp, practice sleeping out, and get involved in the entire summer camp process.

So there is absolutely no charge to use Summer 365? 

Susan Kasnett: We provide a completely free serve to families! We receive a commission from the camps, not the parents, and working with us will not affect your tuition. We recommend parents contact us at the beginning of their camp search. Our dedicated team works year-round to provide you with all the information you need. We travel each and every summer to see the camps in person and to inspect the facilities, assess the programs, and meet with the directors.

Lauren Kasnett: We are also proud to have founded GIVE SUM because we believe that every child deserves the gift of summer camp.  GIVE SUM is a special scholarship fund for families and inner city children who would otherwise not be able to afford to send their children to camp. For every child that we help place in one of our recommended camps or programs, in turn we will donate a portion of each commission we receive to GIVE SUM. And we Summer 365 Counselors donate our time to make sure as many kids as possible get to experience the magic of summer.

I am blown away! Thank you so much for this interview. What made you decide to found Summer 365 and its online placement service for families? 

Susan Kasnett: I have been in the business of placing kids in camps for years, but Summer 365 takes us in a different direction.

Lauren Kasnett: I watched from afar what my mother has done so it is in my DNA! The stars aligned for me to join this family business, and it is incredible to create a business that serves and speaks to so many moms and new families. Providing an online resource makes us multi-dimensional and more relevant to working with young moms.

To find the perfect summer camp for your child (yes, for THIS summer!), contact Summer 365 today. 

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This interview was sponsored by Summer 365.

Potomac River Watershed Clean-Up: Saturday April 5th Family Fun

Your family can get a jump on environmental activism (and fun!) before Earth Day by participating Saturday April 5th in the largest effort to clean both the Anacostia and Potomac watersheds, the annual Potomac River Watershed Clean-Up

This area-wide Clean-Up offers many local sites where families can help clean litter from along streams and river banks. From Sligo Creek to Rock Creek Park to Northwest Branch, you can find a local clean-up site that is close to your home and close to your heart. Check out the map for locations throughout the DC Metro area in DC, Maryland and Virginia where you and your kids can serve and learn. 

Local clean-up events mobilize volunteers young and old to pick up the trash littering our watersheds, and litter removal has a huge impact on animals in multiple ecosystems. Additionally, the Alice Ferguson foundation website states, “The Clean-Up provides a transforming experience that engages citizens and community leaders and generates momentum for change.” 

My favorite local environmental educator and activist, Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along, says, “Kids like to feel impassioned that they are making a difference, and removing litter is an easy and productive way to feel positive about doing that.”

Jennifer Chambers is also the author of the great book for kids which bring environmentalism to their level, Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle. It is the story of a water bottle’s journey in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Atlantic Ocean. Upon reaching a storm drain, the personified water bottle travels the streams and rivers of Washington, D.C., meeting animals along its ride. Each animal—from the water strider to the loggerhead turtle—teaches the water bottle about itself, its origins, its journey, and those of other pollutants in the watershed. Alima is the five-year old water bottle’s heroine; making us all believe we can be one too. 100% of the profit from the sale of the book is being equally divided between the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program.

This book is a great read to share with your kids before or after participating in the April 5th clean up closest to your home! I will be reading with Charlie, Eve and Alice before we head to one of the 12 Silver Spring clean up locations we have to choose from. Please join us. 

Photo of girl cleaning creek courtesy of the Carolina Green Sense blog

My Pepco Quick Home Energy Check-Up by greeNEWit

 Disclosure: This post is sponsored by greeNEWit. All opinions and experiences are my own.

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Did you know that each month on our Maryland utility bills, we pay into a service that most of us never utilize?

And that once we do use it, we receive loads of home upgrade products as well as save hundreds annually on our energy bills?

I had no clue!

I received 17 home improvement products I would normally have paid more than $200 for at Home Depot, and I will now save $259 on my annual Pepco bill!

You HAVE to do this, too.

This service is the Maryland Quick Home Energy Check-Up (QHEC), provided by greeNEWit. Check out your monthly Pepco or other utility provider bill and on the back you will see that small line item of a couple dollars or so each month listed as the Empower MD charge.  As part of the Empower Maryland Energy Efficiency Act, the QHEC provides us Maryland families with the opportunity to have energy-efficient products installed at no additional cost to what you already pay on your normal utility bills. It applies to both homeowners and renters.

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Once I learned about this, I was eager to redeem my savings and it was super easy. I went online to schedule my appointment. Using the accessible online calendar, I clicked an available appointment time that worked for my family and work schedule. You can also set up an appointment by phone at 866.994.7639.

 

At my assigned time, a kind young man named Seth Fawcett rang the bell and within just 30 minutes of entering my home (with very little needed of me) he assessed my home’s energy use. Once he had performed the visual energy assessment, we quickly sat down and Seth went over the energy-saving improvements he recommended, and I got to choose from a variety of energy-saving products he could install in my home at no charge.

Changes Seth and I agreed upon and he immediately implemented for me:

  • In the highest traffic areas of my home that did not already have compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), Seth replaced the 12 bulbs. This included fancy recessed lighting in hard-to-find sizes and unwieldy locations like the cathedral ceiling in my living room that is a BEAR to change out bulbs.

  • He turned the water heater that services my children’s bathroom from 130 degrees to 120 degrees. This will save on our energy bill as well as improve safety for our children’s baths.

  • He replaced showerheads in two bathrooms with efficient-flow showerheads. I opted to do this in the two guest bathrooms since I prefer my custom showerhead in the master bath.

  • He installed three special faucet aerators in our children’s and master bath sinks. Although they reduce water usage, the flow seems even better to us as we wash our faces and brush our teeth.

The environmentalist in me loves that these simple measures will result in an estimated total energy savings of 634 kWh of electricity, 24,090 gallons of water and 38 therms of gas per year. These changes will prevent nearly 1/2 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

The saver in me loves that this fast home appointment will also save me an estimated $259 on my annual Pepco bill!

The annual savings breakdown:

  • Electricity 634 kWh = $92.52

  • Water 24,090 gal = $120.45

  • Gas 38 therms = $45.60

Other services you can choose during the Quick Home Energy Check-Up by greeNEWit, tailored to your home’s energy needs:

  • Gifting/installation of smart strips, energy-efficient power strips (I already had these.)

  • Water pipe insulation and/or water heater tank wrap

And if you are jazzed about learning ways we can be more energy-efficient at home and save on our energy bills, there are additional services provided by greeNEWit. The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Audit is the next step I will be taking in learning how to improve my home’s comfort, energy efficiency and lower my utility bill. A specially-trained energy auditor will perform a visual and diagnostic energy assessment and then provide recommendations on ways to reduce consumption and save you money. You can also explore the addition of solar panels to your home.

But the first and easiest step? Signing up for your already-paid-for Quick Home Energy Check-Up today! Mention that you heard about it on A Parent in Silver Spring and leave a comment on this post to let me know about your experience.