a fun, free resource for DC area families

DC-Are Blow Out Perfection at Blo Blow Dry Bar and Body By Blo in Gaithersburg

blo-collage

Blo Blow Dry Bar and Body by Blo in Gaithersburg

at 317 Ellington Blvd, near the Rio Washingtonian

Now you do not have to wait for that New York work trip, or haul yourself down to DC or Bethesda for that hair style perfection that comes from walking into a blow dry bar. The brand new Blo Blow Dry Bar and Body by Blo location in Gaithersburg took me just 10 minutes from my house in Silver Spring using the Inter County Connector (ICC), offered free parking next door, and took my hair from frizzled and floppy to flawless. The ‘do looked glamorous for two days (OK, I pushed it to three with dry shampoo.)

Owner Laurie Tucker (@Tressed2Impr3ss on Twitter and Instagram) welcomed me at the door and gave me a tour of the just-opened salon. The site is stunning and was a relaxing haven after my crazy home littered with the detritus of my summer kids. From the glamorous blow dry stations, private waxing rooms and luxe mani and pedi areas, I was delighted to leave my cares at the door and enjoy being hottified.

I was offered one service for review, but since I was in desperate need of some maintenance and relaxation, I personally added on a couple more treatments. Before my blow out, I opted for a 10 minute, $10 head massage that was heaven. I was drooling by the end and felt as relaxed afterwards as if I had had a full body massage. In the midst of the summer juggle stress, it was such an easy, affordable way to chill out before my blow out.

Then I perused the Blo Hair Menu to choose my style. There were so many awesome options, I wanted them all! From beachy waves, to glam curls, to super-sleek-straight, to high bun perfection, even that on-trend fishtail braid, every hair style option on the menu looked amazing. I went for the big, bouncy Red Carpet which infused body and polish into my flat, thin, humidity-zapped tresses. Laurie’s thick mane looked amazing after being styled in the Pillow Talk — her beachy waves look ready for a magazine shoot!

blo menu

I also received a manicure that looked so modern and cool! It looked a lot more glam and professional than a standard mini mall nail place mani (although I don’t know if you can tell from my shaky iPhone picture above.) My housework worn hands and neglected nails were transformed. I loved the non-toxic, thick Morgan Taylor polish used and was impressed by how long it lasted without chips (four days without a chip – a record for me.) If you are a fan of gel manicures, you can opt for those as well, or treat yourself to a body manicure with extra treatments and pampering. Of course, your toes can be beautified, too. Here is the entire nail menu.

Additionally, it is tough to find a reliable waxing salon in the DC area and Maryland suburbs. Although I was already smooth, I will be trying Body by Blo next time. The prices are great and I feel like Body by Blo gets the on-trend looks we are going for when it comes to brow shaping and looking our best in our swimsuits. Guys can have their backs, chests, tummies, noses, etc. handled here, too with a minimum of 40 Year Old Virgin weirdness. Check out the wax menu.

I highly recommend Blo Blow Dry Bar and Body by Blo in Gaithersburg. I will be back.

317 Ellington Boulevard
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878

To book a blo, mani, pedi, waxing or other service call
301.216.0256 or email
blogaithersburg@blomedry.com

Click here for map.

Disclosure: My blow out was complimentary for media review. Other services and gratuity covered by me. No compensation received. All opinions? Mine. 

7 Best Things About Busch Gardens Williamsburg

busch-gardens

Have you taken your family to Busch Gardens WilliamsburgI applied to serve as a Busch Gardens Williamsburg blog ambassador, and was selected to review the experience with my family during the 2014 season. We just returned from our visit to this massive, marvelous, seriously beautiful amusement park. Our day at the park was full of spectacular summer memories. Here were my family’s 7 favorite aspects of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. 

1. The Rides for Families

family rides

Our family ages from early forties to preschool, but we located loads of rides that our entire group could enjoy! The best multi-age rides we experienced:

Europe in the Air

Escape from Pompeii

Le Scoot

Rhine River Cruise

Roman Rapids

The Flying Machine

Busch Gardens Railway

Skyride

2. The Shows

We took in a lot of shows, big and small, and felt at the day’s end that we had spent a day on Broadway. We found a mixture of rides and performances a great way to recharge and cool off during the day.

The newest show is London Rocks,a musical journey that explores the roots of rock-n-roll and transforms Busch Gardens’ Globe Theatre into a rousing 25-minute live action and multi-media rock spectacular.

We loved having our lunch at the traditional beer hall,Busch Gardens Das Festhaus, and watching the fairy tale musical Entwined: Tales of Good and Evil, while we noshed on our German and kids meal fare. 

We also caught the amusing More Pet Shenanigans, featuring trained rescue pet animals, and rounded out our day with Celtic Fyre, a live Irish dance and musical show in which the performers actually jigged on our pub table.

Just because the 4th of July has passed does not mean the fireworks are over at Busch Gardens Williamsburg! The celebration of America continues through August 10 with Star Spangled Nights. This massive nightly fireworks show is choreographed to inspiring music. You can also hop aboard the Rhine River Fireworks Cruise ($15 per person) for the best view of the splendor.

3. The Attractions for Littles

kiddie

We were so pleased that the park was packed with experiences our pint-sized preschooler Alice could enjoy. From rides to play areas to splash pads, Alice did not feel she was missing out for a second. All attractions for littles are labeled KIDsiderate so they are easy to located on the map, the park app and the signs. At the park entrance Alice received a colored bracelet that corresponded to her height so it was easy for us and the ride handlers to deems which ones she could ride.

4. The Rides for Thrill Seekers

If you have roller coaster warriors in your house, they will be in heaven. There are FIVE major coasters that are considered some of the best in the entire freaking world.

Alpengeist - From a height of 195 feet, riders are hurtled through six staggering inversions at speeds up to 67 miles per hour.

Apollo’s Chariot - The super smooth, crazy fast, no-upside-down coaster that makes you feel as if you are flying in Maverick’s mig.

Griffon – I will admit that I was too chicken for this one! It features a205-foot, 90-degree, 75 mph free fall. 

Loch Ness Monster – Massive loop-de-loops on the Loch Ness! The interlocking, double-looping coaster stretches a monstrous 13 stories tall with a 114-foot drop, with speeds as fast as 60 miles per hour.

Verbolten – A combination indoor/outdoor coaster, with chills, speed and surprises.

5. The Beautiful Grounds

grounds

Lush green gardens, fields of flowers, pastures with animals grazing, lakes and fountains…this is one breathtakingly beautiful amusement park! Some sections reminded us of botanical gardens, other medieval city squares, but every inch was pristine and pretty.

6. The Food and Drink Options

busch-gardens-dining.jpg

Dining at Busch Gardens was delicious and diverse. I will confess that all five of us ate our way through the delicacies at the parks, and two of us thoroughly enjoyed sampling the selections of beer and wine. If your children are partial to traditional kids meal food, you will find it, sure. But you are not limited to chicken nuggets! You will find food native to the countries featured: Germany (and Oktoberfest), Italy, Scotland, Ireland, England and France. You will also find stands and shops selling treats, sweets and drinks. All in all there are 22 restaurants and even more food stalls throughout the park. You will not be hungry!

7. The Proximity to DC

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 7.50.54 PM.jpg

Driving to Busch Gardens Williamsburg from the DC area is a quick and easy three hour drive. You can leave in the morning and be at the park well before the park opens at 10am, or you can choose to make it a two day adventure by staying in one of the oodles of nearby hotels. Pack your swimsuits and on your second day splash your heart out at Water Country USA!

Are you a Busch Gardens Williamsburg fan? What is your favorite aspect of the park? 

 

 

GIVEAWAY: Madame Tussauds DC Tickets, and Review

madame-tussauds-washington-dc.jpg

 

I will admit that it never occurred to me to visit Madame Tussauds in Washington DC until they reached out to me.

In this town of  free admissions to some of the best museums in the world, why would I pay to visit a collection of wax figures? Is not that place simply for tourists? Even when in London I have never had the desire to check out the original Madame Tussauds.

But in the spirit of blogger journalism and a feeling of obligation to at least try this family-focused attraction in my area, my crew and I headed down one Saturday in May.

I was skeptical. I readied myself for the cheese.

But what I was not expecting was how much my children would enjoy it, and how much Madame Tussauds piqued their interest in history!

At Charlie and Eve’s elementary school, the fifth graders traditionally host an American history “wax museum” in which the students dress as historical figures and provide short oral histories in character for the other students. So Charlie and Eve were already familiar with the wax museum concept, and as kids who visit museums monthly, they are seasoned exhibit viewers.

Immediately Charlie, Eve and Alice all captured the spirit of fun history that permeates Madame Tussauds. With big smiles and loads of enthusiasm, these sometimes less-than-enthusiastic kids had dropped any disaffected tween airs and were shouting to me to take their pictures.

historic-madame-tussauds-dc.jpg

Mind you, these are kids who have been bugged by their mom to pose for photos for my blog for the last seven or so years. I will confess that I often have to promise money and treats and make tasteless jokes to get them to smile in front of attractions. But at Madame Tussauds the children were initiating the photos. All of the pics in this post were posed by the children themselves, even the ones featuring me and my husband Chris.

Charlie and Eve read the didatic placards on their own, both for the figures they recognized and ones they did not. Chris and I left the kids to explore at their own pace. Visitors are allowed, even encouraged, to touch the displays, so it was a relief to relax at a museum with kids (especially three-year-old Alice) and let them paw everything.

I was impressed that the Washington, DC location focuses mostly on American history and makes an effort to represent culturally diverse American figures. There are all 44 Presidents in the Presidents Room and a Civil Rights Room featuring Dr. King, Rosa Parks and more. The Media Room also feels educational and very “DC”, featuring television journalists, perfectly posed to “interview” their living guests. The Sports Zone will be a hit with your young sports fan, allowing Caps fans to take a pic with Ovechkin or play catcher to The Babe.

media-madame-tussauds-dc.jpg

The only room that lived up to my preconceived notions of cheese was the Glamour Room, but I will admit it was fun to snap pics with reproductions of Beyonce, Justin Bieber and more pop culture icons.

The museum is smaller than I expected and we finished our tour in less than one hour. The kids thought this was the perfect amount of time, and all children remained whine-free.

music-madame-tussauds-dc.jpg

In short, give up your cultured cool and give Madame Tussauds Washington, DC  a try. Your kids will love it and they will learn. After logging hours with your kids in front of our town’s Degas, Cassatts, Hope Diamonds and Wright Flyers, I think you will enjoy embracing (literally) those manufactured wax figures of history.

To win five free tickets for your family and friends, enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: My family was provided with tickets and more for giveaway. No compensation received. All opinions are my own.

Live Music Night Out + Dads Eat Free Father’s Day at Taste Gastropub

taste-gastropub-olney-maryland.jpg

Taste Gastropub in Olney has two extremely cool events next week that I am attending and I hope you do too!

First off is an exclusive one-year anniversary celebration of Taste on Thursday evening June 12 from 8-9pm. Great music, drinks and food will celebrate Taste’s work in the past year of providing a super community gastropub as well as a socially conscious dining experience.

Owners Vic and Biana Seested put all proceeds from Taste back into non-profit community support and outreach, supporting programs such as Hearts and Homes for Youth and the Jubilee Association of Maryland. Taste’s mission is to provide high quality, freshly prepared and sustainable food at reasonable prices while providing patrons an opportunity to directly support their local community.

The Thursday night June 12 event will featuring drink and dining specials. But what I am most excited about is the exclusive performance by Ludwig & Stiegler, a duo featuring trumpet virtuoso Spencer Ludwig (of music group Capital Cities fame) and DJ Stiegler. The performances by Ludwig & Stiegler is scheduled for 9PM. A percentage of bar proceeds from the event will go to the Rock the Vote organization.

Give Dad the day off on Father’s Day June 15 and take him to the Taste Dad’s Eat Free pig roast! Check out the flyer below for all the delicious options and specials. Reservations are recommended for this popular celebration.

Check out this video about Taste Gastropub which explains their offerings and mission.

Taste Gastropub 3418 Olney Laytonnsville Rd. Olney MD Reservations: 301.774.2500

Disclosure: The owners of Taste have invited my family and I to attend these events. No additional compensation received.

GIVEAWAY: RIO Washington Carousel Family Pack – tickets + cupcakes!

carousel-at-the-rio-washingtonian.jpg

This past weekend the RIO Washingtonian welcomed its brand-new Carousel.

Made possible by Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, this Americana-themed classic carousel features 30 Allan Herschell-style dancing horses, whimsical creatures, and two chariots. The ride can carry up to 38 adult and 30 children passengers, with wheelchair access and chariot wheelchair positions. It is super conveniently located next to the playground.

It is open daily from 11am – 8pm and is $3 per ride. Kids under 42″ tall must ride with an adult.

Would you like to win 4 tickets for the carousel, plus 4 carousel-themed cupcakes from Lilly Magilly’s Cupcakery?

lilly-magillys.jpg

Then try your hand at giving this carousel horse a name to get your horsey seats and your treats!

carousel horse .jpg

Do you think this horse looks like a Betsy? That’s all I’ve got. I trust you can do better! 

Leave your proposed name for this fine steed in the comments below.

The winner will be selected on Friday, and named in time for you to enjoy your carousel rides and cupcakes this weekend.

The winner will also receive recognition on the RIO Washingtonian’s Facebook page (go on and give ‘em a Like.)

 

RUUM American Kids Wear + In-Store Discount

ruum-mention-me-discount.jpg

Last Sunday’s A Parent in Silver Spring party at RUUM American Kids Wear in Columbia, Maryland was a total blast. Thanks to everyone who came, brought their children, shopped and partied with us.

 

ruum-clothes-kids.jpg

The total hit of the party? Personal caricatures drawn by RUUM store manager and professional cartoonist Joe Jaro. Joe went above and beyond to create a special piece of art for every child in attendance!

ruum-store-party.jpg

My daughter Eve is wearing a RUUM dress as she proudly displays her ballet dancing caricature, while her friend Bella displays her jazz dancing caricature with the artist himself. 

But a trip to RUUM is a party every time you visit. There is an in-store photo booth in which kids can take as many free, customizable photos as they like and take home the adorable print-outs. There is free candy and small toys for kids under the fun candy store glass by the front register and games such as hopscotch throughout the store.

 

ruum-coupon-code.jpg

If you were not able to attend the party, you can still receive an exclusive A Parent in Silver Spring discount at the RUUM Mall in Columbia location. To receive $10 off a $50 purchase, simply use the “mention me” code A Parent in Silver Spring (code 610). Offer is good through June 30, 2014 at the Columbia, Maryland store.

RUUM American Kids Wear

The Mall at Columbia

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

10300 Little Patuxent Parkway

Columbia, MD

Happy shopping to all and thanks again to all the great families who came out to the party!

Disclosure: I am excited to be working with RUUM to provide this discount code and local events for readers. All opinions are my own. 

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

RUUM-PARTY-JUNE 1.jpg

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.

Whistlefritz: Spanish and French Immersion Learning for Kids (at home!)

language-immersion-whistlefritz

I have heard loads of great things about Whistlefritz Spanish for Kids and French for Kids language learning DVDs and CDs, but I had no idea that the company was based right here in the DC area in Glen Echo, Maryland! Heidi Stock is the founder and CEO of this award-winning language program for children, and she is herself a mother of two.

Eager to learn more about the Whistlefritz philosophy of teaching children Spanish and French in the same way they learned their first language, I was delighted to interview Stock and to share our insightful chat with you.

A Parent in Silver Spring: What inspired you to create the Whistlefritz language learning series?

Heidi Stock, CEO and founder of Whistlefritz: I started languages young and studied abroad, but I learned them the American way, when you begin a language in junior high and you really can’t speak it very well by the end of high school. I learned however, that if you begin language learning with children at a young age, they can obtain the accent of a native speaker — something that a language learner after early childhood may never be able to get.

I started my children in the language classes offered in the Washington, DC area beginning in 2006. The classes that my children took were fabulous! But I was not able to find DVDs and CDs that I felt really complemented their language learning and followed the immersion formula my children were receiving in their classes. The videos I found back then were predominantly English. So I sought to create what I felt was lacking in the market. I was a reluctant entrepreneur.

Can language immersion be achieved through DVDs and CDs? I thought that one had to travel or have a native speaker in your household to get that experience! 

Yes, all Whistlefritz products provide language immersion. Language immersion means that only the language a child is learning is used — no English words or patterns. The child hears and speaks the language she is learning. The children receive many context clues, lots of expressive speech, for that is how we all learn our first, native language. With an immersive method, there is no internal translation required for the children. The child can make a direct connection.

Why is language immersion important, versus allowing English in the DVD or CD “classroom?”

I think it is crucial that children can listen to the language in context, without having to go to English first and then understand. This is why in the Whistlefritz DVDs and CDs we use songs, skits, jokes, gross motor movements. Children learn in different ways. The DVDs and CDs prep children for how the foreign language they are learning really works. The collections are also great for moms, parents, who themselves do not know the language — you can learn right along with your child.

My daughter Alice just turned three. Is she too young to begin watching and listening to Whistlefritz?

I think two years old is just the perfect time to start, or any time during the preschool or early years. As children get older, they become more self-conscious learning a new language. The older they get, they also become so much more competent in their native English that learning a new language is frustrating. At a young age, everything is new, they are constantly, already learning, so they are open to a new language and switching between the two.

Why do you believe it is important for children to learn another language, even before it becomes a school requirement?

Studies have shown that starting a new language improves test scores, and it even delays the effects of Alzheimer’s in the elderly. There is something so beneficial to our brains about switching our mechanism from one language to another.  Learning another language also influences the way you look at the world, and improves our creativity, our flexibility, our ability to relate to others.

Tell us about the Whistlefritz musical CDs. 

When my children were young, I found most children’s music so annoying. I suffered through it. When we produced the Whistlefritz music CDs, we incorporated enjoyable adult musical themes such as salsa, merengue, rumba, bachiata, cumbia, corrido, reggae, samba, big band and Caribbean rhythms.  The artists themselves — Jorge Anaya, Didier Prossaird, Marie-Louise Desage, and Lynn Veronneau — are professional bolero, salsa, and jazz performers.

It was important to me that the music be good and not dumbed down. Putumayo and Zumba have licensed Whistlefritz songs, and some of those compilation CDs have been at the top of the Latin children’s music and even the standard all-ages Latin music lists!

Your DVD collections are impressive and have won almost every single parent product award! 

Thank you! The DVDs have a combination of fun, high-quality 3D animation as well as live action segments. There are humorous elements to keep the kids interested. The live action portions are very important in language learning because the children can see the position of the mouth during pronunciation. The speakers — both adults and children — featured in the DVDs are all native speakers so that the native accent can be learned. It is also important for kids’ learning that they see their peers doing all the things asked of them in the DVD — the getting up, dancing, yelling — important engagement that is not possible with solely cartoon teachers. Other kids on the screen helps approximate a real classroom. The adults on the screen talk directly to the children watching, simulating a classroom teacher.

I am excited! I had no idea that it was really possible for my children to learn a language, right at home! 

Last summer in the Outer Banks we were staying in a house with several families. The house had some Spanish flash cards in the game stash and so we brought them out. Many of the adults at the table had studied Spanish in junior high, high school, even college. But a six year old, who has been learning Spanish in the Whistlefritz and immersion model, was just killing all of us.  By the end, she had 100 more cards than the rest of us.

Whistlefritz offers special savings offers here on the website, as well as on the Whistlefritz Facebook page to followers.  Whilstlefritz offers language immersion instruction in Spanish and French for families, as well as educator and homeschool programs. 

This post was sponsored by Whistlefritz. All thoughts expressed during the interview are my own. 

GIVEAWAY: Free Mother’s Day Brunch at Taste Gastropub in Olney

Win a free brunch for your family on Mother’s Day Sunday May 11, 2014

Every mom loves a day off from the kitchen, and one lucky A Parent in Silver Spring reader family will win a day off from reaching for their wallet when they take their mom to Taste Gastropub in Olney for their tasty, family-friendly Mother’s Day Brunch! 

Vic & Biani Seested, owners of the Taste Gastropub in Olney, MD, (pictured at left) know the importance of bringing your family together to celebrate Mother’s Day. That is why they are generously offering one of you guys a free, gourmet Mother’s Day Brunch at their restaurant on Sunday, May 11, 2014.

To enter, head to the Taste Gastropub of Olney Facebook page, click Like, upload a picture of your family and answer this question, “What makes moms so special?” (If you are the mother in your family, do not be shy! You can enter too.)

The best response, selected by the Seested family this week, will win the free Mother’s Day brunch to celebrate (redeemable on May 11, 2014 for one single, immediate family; only one entry per single family.)

Check out the awesome, special Taste Gastropub Mother’s Day Brunch Menu (complete with delicious and affordable $5 kids meal selections!)

I cannot wait to see your entries on the Taste Gastropub Facebook page, and even if you are not the winning family, I hope you will join me and my family at Taste for a fabulous Mother’s Day brunch next Sunday May 11.

Disclosure: My family and I will receive a complementary brunch next week. No additional compensation received.