a fun, free resource for DC area families

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.

Winter Break Washington DC Kids Outing Ideas

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Merry Christmas, happy holidays and loads of love from the A Parent in Silver Spring family! We hope you have a wonderful winter break, and that these suggestions keep the fun coming!

Christmas Eve Only: Water-Skiing Santa at 1 p.m. FREE. This crazy fun event has a water-skiing Santa, flying elves, the Jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman performing on the Potomac River.  Best view of Santa and crew is from National Harbor. No matter the weather, this event is on!

Catch Aquarium at Imagination Stage, a production for little patrons. The show runs through January 26, 2014 and is part of its My First Imagination Stage season. With gentle music, beautiful puppets, and props, friends Jack and Calypso lead children to a magical, interactive world. Show happen at 10:30 and 11:45 a.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, and 10 and 11:15 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.  Each performance runs approximately 45 minutes. Appropriate for ages 1-5, tickets are $10-$12, with a $5 lap seat for children under 12 months. Tickets may be purchased online at www.imaginationstage.org, at the Imagination Stage box office, or via phone at 301-280-1660.

Get out of the house and play at the Playseum in Bethesda and DC with kids baby-elementary, the Playseum UPSTAIRS for tweens age 8-14. Click those links for holiday break hours and special family New Year’s Eve party info! We had my son’s birthday party at the Playseum UPSTAIRS (post coming – it was awesome!) and my kids love the crafts, games, and older kid fun offered. Toddlers, preschoolers and young elementary kids of course will go ga-ga for the fun in the original Playseums.

Enroll in the December 30 Pony Pal Holiday Camp at Wheaton Stables! Spaces still available for this Monday 12-2pm riding session for children age 3-7. Activities include a Pony Pal riding lesson, barn tour, hands-on horse grooming and art projects. Cost is $40. Space is limited. Dress warmly and bring a snack. To register, contact dndwalto@aol.com. Located at the Wheaton Park Stables.

Go to a holiday show at Jammin Java. New children’s artist Uncle Devin is a singer and drummer and his percussion-driven songs are high energy and super fun for young children. This special holiday themed show is Saturday December 28, 2013 10:30AM. You can also celebrate New Years Eve with Rocknoceros! Rocknoceros is the most popular kids act in the region and these New Years Eve Family shows are a great opportunity to bring the whole family to a Rockno show. There will even be a full-fledged countdown to the new year and an apple juice toast for all. Choose either the Tuesday December 31, 2013 11:00AM or 2pm showtimes

Go bowling with these special AMF Jingle Bowl coupons. These deals will give you discounts on kids meals, pizza, nachos and more. AMF locations near us include AMF Waldorf, AMF Centreville, AMF College Park, AMF Capital Plaza, AMF Dale City, AMF Alexandria, AMF Marlow Heights and AMF Laurel. Or go duckpin bowling at the White Oak Lanes in Silver Spring on New Years Eve — stay up ’til midnight with glow in the dark bowling fun!

Enjoy discounted triple play at Shadowland Laser Tag locations. Sign up for the VIP Coupon Club and receive a coupon for three plays plus a bag of popcorn for just $19 a person. Valid through January 2. My kids adore both the Columbia and Gaithersburg locations.

Hit the road for a Lancaster County Pennsylvania holiday getaway.  The Strasburg Railroad, Dutch Wonderland and more make for a lovely, and reasonable!, way to mini-break with the family.

Mount Vernon is open all winter break – including Christmas Day with lots of holiday-themed fun and Christmas Candlelight Tours. 

Seasons Greenings at the United States Botanic Garden. See the outdoor train garden, enter the Conservatory and enjoy a colorful display of poinsettias and other winter-blooming tropical plants, and the National Mall in miniature, a replica created with natural plant materials, as well as icons from Worlds Fairs past. 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC at the foot of the U.S. Capitol. Regular hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open until 8 p.m. with live music on Tuesday Christmas Eve and Thursday December 26.

In the mood for a good ol’ fashioned ice skating party? You can be a Washington cliche and go ice skating in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden ice rink on the Mall (be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time or you’ll spend your “skating evening” like we did one year drinking Guinness at the Dubliner with our skates unused under the table). Or you can head to Silver Spring Veterans PlazaRockville Town Square, the Montgomery County rinks at Cabin John or Wheaton, or other more suburban rinks.

Want to wow your out of town guests with something they won’t see many other places? Move it, move it to National Harbor to view Ice! ’Twas the Night Before Christmas and check out all of the other Christmas on the Potomac holiday revelry at the Gaylord.

Feeling a yen for a holiday lights stroll? Bundle up and head to Zoolights at the National Zoo (free admission!) or Brookside Gardens Garden of LightsBoth displays begin on Friday after Thanksgiving.

Ready to experience holiday lights…but want to stay within the warmth of your cozy car? Drive through Howard County’s Symphony of Lights, Gaithersburg Winter Lights Festival or Prince Georges County’s Watkins Regional Park Festival of Lights displays.

Kids’ Workshops at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center

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Admit it: Before you had your first child in the Washington, DC area, you imagined yourself at the National Gallery or Hirschhorn, staring at an incredible piece of art while wearing your baby in a carrier.

In my own mental picture, my baby was facing out of his BabyBjörn (hey, it was 2003…we didn’t have Ergo yet) and gazing at the painting as I held his little hands in mine. His baby brow was intelligently furrowed as he absorbed the genius before him into his own cells. (Oh, and in my reverie I was immaculately dressed, three inches taller and twenty pounds lighter than before pregnancy.)

But then we had a kid. And then another. And another. And sometimes the days of hitting a “grown up” museum with diaper-wearing kids were relegated to when out-of-towners came to visit. Often those days we spent playing tourist and hitting Smithsonian after Smithsonian became marathons of meltdowns and jailbreaks.

Thankfully, we have been doing it wrong.

We CAN visit our local, beloved Smithsonian museums with our babies, our toddlers, our preschoolers. We just need to go about the process differently. 

I was honored to attend a blogger workshop hosted by the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC), a non-profit educational entity that provides preschool instruction as well as family workshops within the Smithsonian museums. Dr. Kim Kiehl, Executive Director of SEEC, shared with me and other social media parents in attendance tips for making museum visits with young kids rewarding and fun, and therefore more frequent. 

Make your visits short 

With these words, Dr. Kiehl has freed us from the pressure of “making a day out of” our trips downtown. We don’t need to try and see everything!  For babies or toddlers, 2o minutes or so is a successful visit. Preschoolers, depending on personality, can maybe do an hour. Break for lunch or a snack, a game of tag on the Mall, and maybe come back for another go. Or maybe not.  A short pop-in to the museum, even if your time spent inside is shorter than the Metro ride downtown, is still a fabulous experience for your child.

Look online and devise a plan before you arrive. 

Spend a little time before you visit your designated museum and decide which exhibit or area of the museum you and your child will experience. You can do this alone or with your child if he is old enough. Choose topics or items that will appeal to your child’s interests, or plan to whip through a larger area of the museum looking for one group of items. An example that Dr. Kiehl provides:  ”Let’s walk through the museum looking for wheels!” No need to read every museum label!

Bring things with you from home. 

The exhibit that SEEC used for its example of how to experience museums with young children was the brand new Puppetry in America artifact wall in the main lobby of the National Museum of American History. This exhibit has two large windows full of puppets, making it about the size of a New York department store display window. If you were taking your young child to see this exhibit, a great way to engage your child would be to bring a puppet of his from home. Although he could not actually touch the first Kermit or Prairie Dawn or Mr. Moose, he could play with his own puppet from home and get that tactile learning in while viewing the puppets.

Take pencils, paper and crayons with you. 

Invite your child to play art student and cop a squat in front of an exhibit and draw what he sees. Or if he is inspired by the works around him, encourage him to make his own art.

Ask questions. 

Engage your child by asking questions about what they see. Keep the queries open-ended, without right or wrong answers. “How are these items alike?” “Which are your favorites?” Keep your kids thinking and get them talking. This is not the time to lecture! Get them to point out items to you.

“The more you can make a museum real for the kids, the more your children will benefit.” Dr. Kim Kiehl, at the SEEC #SISocial for social media parents

Take photos. 

And not just precious pics for Grandma or Facebook posts or Instagrams showcasing your stellar Smithsonian-going parenting (although you know I completely endorse this). Additionally, take pics of the exhibits themselves. Then we you get home , review the photos with your child to help remember and talk about your day. Print them out and let your child turn them into craft projects. Post ‘em on the fridge. Reinforce the experience and learning with your child long after the day is over.

Incorporate what you learned at the museum in your play at home. 

Keep on truckin’ and playing with the “lesson plan” you devised with your museum visit. If you checked out the puppets, make paper bag puppets at home. Draw on your hands with markers and make literal hand puppets. If you peeked at Degas paintings and sculptures of dancers, throw on tutus and dance around.

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So as the cold weather creeps in, are you inspired to visit the Smithsonian museums with your little ones?  You can also take your Smithsonian with kid visits to the next awesome level by enrolling in a family workshop! These four  week sessions hosted by SEEC are carefully crafted by early childhood educators with extensive museum experience. The developmentally appropriate workshops promote children’s critical thinking, encourage creativity and provide a warm bonding experience between you and your child. 

Check out the upcoming workshops Smithsonian family workshops and sign up while spaces still remain!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Saturdays, Jan. 4—25 10—11:30 am

Age 6—18 months

Come in from the cold and join us for a “snowy” experience as infants explore some of their favorite winter wonders.

Register

 

Animal Stories

Saturdays, January 4—25 10—11:30 am

Age 19 months—3 years

Captivating stories coupled with museum visits that will teach your toddler about some of their favorite animals.

Register

 

The Science of Art

Saturdays, Feb. 1—22 10am—12 pm

Age  3.5—6 years

Explore the masterpieces of the Smithsonian and the “what and how” behind their creation.

Register

 

Tiny Gardeners – Infants/Toddlers 

Saturdays, March 1 –22 10—11:30 am

Age 6—18 months

Filling and dumping, digging in the dirt, stopping to smell a beautiful flower: infants get to work exploring flowers and gardens.

Register

 

Tiny Gardeners – Toddlers/Preschoolers  

Wednesdays, March 6—27 10—11:30 am

Age 19 months—3 years

Filling and dumping, digging in the dirt, stopping to smell a beautiful flower: infants get to work exploring flowers and gardens.

Register

 

Where Does It Come From?

Saturdays, March 1—22 10—11:30 am

Age 19 months—3 years

Your toddler can easily recognize their favorite foods, but do they really know from where they come? Join us as we explore foods on their journey from nature to table.

Register

What Does It Mean?

Saturdays, April 26 —May 17  10—11:30 am

Age 3.5—6 years

From portrait to landscape, children discover art through it’s many forms and meanings.

Register

Title photos credit: The Smithsonian National Museum of American History via Flickr.  

Disclosure: I am providing consulting services to SEEC. My blog posts are not connected to my professional duties. All opinions are my own.  

Exclusive FREE Moms’ Night Out at C. Wonder for A Parent in Silver Spring Readers

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FREE Moms’ Night Out Party at C. Wonder!  - Giveaways – Refreshments – BIG Discounts – So Much Fun!

Snow days.

Kids home.

Snowsuits on. Then off. Then back on.

Power off. Then back on! Nope, back off.

Nerves rattled.

We need a night out. 

How about a FREE night out? With pampering and prizes and refreshments and a big honking discount?

At probably the cutest store in the whole freaking world, C. Wonder?

Will you join me? You can bring friends.

Because these would look mad hot on you:

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And there’s oodles of great holiday gifts for $25 and under (not counting the 30% off they’re giving us) that look Kate-Spade-Tory-Burch adorbs? 

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I have never found such great looking cuff bracelets and statement necklaces for these prices: 

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I have limited spots for this party, but to get on the list (a LIST for a party, doesn’t that concept take you back?) simply add your name to the form here at this link. 

Invite your friends! Simply add their names to the list.

Additionally, 10% of any sales will be donated to Skyler’s Gift, Tiffany Bowen and Redskins’ captain Stephen Bowen’s charity to assist families of premature babies and parents facing the death of their infants.

C. Wonder Tysons Corner is located at Tysons Corner Center at 1961 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA. It is located between Macy’s and Lord & Taylor on the 2nd Level.  Directions. 

I am pleased to host this event through a partnership with C. Wonder & MomTrends. 

Fantastic Free Family Celebration Saturday November 16 in Downtown Silver Spring {sponsored}

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DOWNTOWN SILVER SPRING 2ND ANNUAL ‘RE-IMAGINING THE HOLIDAYS’

This Saturday evening your family fun plan is set: Come see the unveiling of Playtime Jubilee, a public art installation tree made of hundreds of toys on the Fountain Plaza at Downtown Silver Spring.

Do not miss this incredible annual free party for families!

The fun goes down from 6-8 pm on Ellsworth Drive at the Downtown Silver Spring fountain. Kids and grownups will have a blast…

  • Meeting The Washington National’s Racing Presidents
  • Grooving to live music
  • Watching family performers
  • Taking pics at the photo station
  • Playing games
  • Experiencing food tastings
  • Sipping hot chocolate and brews from Austin Grill’s heated beer garden
  • Skating on Veterans Plaza from 6-9pm
  • Entering contests
  • Winning prizes!
  • FYI, the first 200 people receive a festive DTSS Santa hat

All this awesome is thanks to Downtown Silver Spring, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, as well as the artist who has created the 30-foot tall art tree Playtime Jubilee, Karl Unnasch.

image4361I had the chance to talk to Unnasch, a self-proclaimed “big kid at heart.” Unnasch says, “The inspiration for the tree is to appeal to the child inside all of us. It is constructed out of sleds, playhouses, slides, rockers, sit ‘n spins and also smaller toys. It will be lit from within by LED lights, creating a massive stained-glass look as the multicolored toys glow, as I often work with stained glass in my work.” (See photos of his stained glass projects.)

Hundreds of toys comprise the giant tree, and currently a bucket truck and Unnasch and  many his “elves” are putting the tree together. Families — especially ones with budding artists, LEGO gurus and the truck-obsessed — are welcome to come down Thursday and Friday to see the art tree’s construction, and you can follow Playtime Jubilee’s progress on the artist’s web page.

Playtime Jubilee also has an important social good aspect: Every toy and sporting good used to make up the tree will have its integrity preserved so that it can be used by a child after holidays through donation to A Wider Circle. Unnasch acquired many of the toys himself to use in the pieces, and others were donated by by Strosniders Hardware. There is also A Wider Circle donation location for toys on Saturday night, so feel free to bring a toy for a needy child to receive at the holidays.

I hope that you and your family can make it to the celebration on Saturday night

Disclosure: Spreading the word about this event was sponsored by Peterson Companies and Downtown Silver Spring. All words and opinions are mine.  

Macy’s Fall Fashion Event: Free Moms’ Night Out! {sponsored}

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Macy’s Presents Fall’s Five Essentials!

Macy’s presents Fall’s Five Essentials. These handful of key pieces can be your building blocks for look fly this 2013.  Enjoy a live DJ and sweet treats and totally free admission. E-mail your girlfriends and join us on Thursday night!

You will also spend time with professional stylist Amy E. Goodman (you will totally recognize her from The TODAY Show) who will show you how easily these 5 essentials will update your wardrobe for fall. Plus learn fashion and beauty tips and tricks to look your best this season.  If you decide to shop (not required at this free event, but the temptations will abound) you will take home a special gift with purchase if you spend $75 or more.

Macy’s

Downtown Metro Center

1201 G St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Thursday, October 17th at 5:30pm

RSVP here 

Disclosure: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and am compensated for my spreading the word about Macy’s Fall Fashion. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Mini Maker Faire in Silver Spring 9/29 – FREE

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Free family festival demonstrates creative and unusual projects  to encourage kids to explore their own curiosities and to make something new and different. 

The Silver Spring Mini Maker Faire is happening Sunday, September 29th at Veteran’s Plaza and the Silver Spring Civic Building in from12:00-5:00p.m. The Mini Maker Faire features free family activities and innovative projects created by inventors, scientists, tech enthusiasts, crafters, homesteaders, hackers, artists, and do-it-yourselfers of all kinds.

The Mini Maker Faire is presented by KID Museum, an emerging museum in Montgomery County which aims to cultivate creativity, curiosity and compassion through interactive exhibits and hands-on learning for children of all ages. Silver Spring’s own Discovery Communications, Montgomery County Recreation, MAKE magazine and other local organizations are also sponsors.

Demos and activity areas include:

  • Make and race your own lunar Rover with NASA scientists
  • Experiment with 3D printers & vinyl cutters
  • Build a giant marble run
  • Use recycled materials to create new toys
  • Experiment with robotics
  • Make your own computer game

The Faire will feature two performance stages as well as interactive activities for children and adults of all ages.

Attendance is totally free, but interested families are encouraged to RSVP here via Eventbrite to be eligible for giveaway prizes. You can also keep up with the Silver Spring Mini Maker Faire  on Facebook  and Twitter.

For more information visit http://makerfairesilverspring.com/