Voice Lessons at Guitar Center Review

Charlie and Eve’s voice lessons at Guitar Center have being going great!

As I wrote about earlier, my two oldest children children are participating in summer musicals and so we have turned to Guitar Center’s voice lesson offerings. (This is thanks to an opportunity with The Motherhood Inc. to write about Guitar Center’s lesson offerings.)

Charlie and Eve have both been receiving individual half-hour voice lessons at the downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center location. Until hearing from The Motherhood, I was not aware that Guitar Centers offer lessons beyond guitar! But their musical lesson menu not only includes guitar and bass, but vocal lessons, drums, keyboards/piano, recording software/production and a full suite of band and orchestra instruments. All of these services are offered at the Downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center location, as well as many other DC-area Guitar Centers.

Their instructor is Andre Leonard, an extremely accomplished musician, pianist and vocal coach.  In addition to providing instruction at the downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center, he is the Director of Worship and Fine Arts at Shepherd Park Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in northwest Washington, D.C. and he performs worldwide. Right now he is performing a benefit concert in Puerto Rico! Leonard graduated from the Berklee College of Music, as well as the Westminster Choir College, and has had many notable achievements throughout his professional music career.

But aside from all these impressive credentials, Leonard has given Charlie and Eve a better knowledge of their personal vocal ranges and is working with them to extend their range. Pitch, expression, presentation and better knowledge of music are all areas that Leonard has worked with the kids in just 30 minutes each per week. He provides them with homework so they can further the lessons each week at home and progress in their vocal journeys.

This week Charlie’s rehearsals for the summer his school musical began, and I could see the increase in his confidence and singing abilities. He is much more comfortable singing and performing daily this summer, thanks to his learning under Andre Leonard at Guitar Center. Eve begins her summer middle school musical rehearsals in two weeks, and she is eager to begin singing the songs in the show, armed with her new confidence and knowledge.

If you as a parent are looking for a musical lesson program for your own kids, look into the Guitar Center near you. Guitar Center is one of the largest independent music educators in the U.S. Each Guitar Center location has its own expansive suite of lesson offerings. At the downtown Silver Spring location, they have performances by the students receiving lessons, including a spring recital for the parents. Thanks to Guitar Center, your child can learn piano, guitar, drums, further her instruction on her school string or band instrument, learn music production, or like Charlie and Eve, take voice lessons!

Learn more by following Guitar Center on Instagram and Facebook.


All-American SummerFest Vacation at Gaylord National Resort

An awesome family vacation that feels summery, special and all-American is available to you all summer long, thanks to Gaylord National Resort’s SummerFest, An All-American Celebration. Enjoy iconic activities and a memorable getaway that your family will love…without a long battle with traffic!

Gaylord National’s SummerFest has an overnight package especially for families, the SummerFest Family Escape. This package includes

  • One night accommodations at Gaylord National Resort and access to all family activities happening on-site
  • Complimentary resort fee that includes your access to the pool, outdoor sun lounge area with bar for parents and fountain/splash pad for the kids
  • Free transport on the National Harbor Circulator that will drive you to all the attractions at National Harbor, such as the Waterfront District, MGM National Harbor and Tanger Outlets.
  • Complimentary self parking and Internet.
  • Kids eat free at the breakfast buffet at Pienza Marketplace

The package starts at $299 (cheaper and closer than the beach, I tell ya!) and is available now through September 3rd.

We checked out all the fun a family could possibly find at Gaylord National with a SummerFest Family Escape package and we were wowed by all of the activities offered!

We swam and soaked up the sun at the pool and outdoor lounge area.

We all cooled off and played in the outdoor fountain by the pool. Saturdays there are Summer Jams Poolside with live music!



We took the Star Spangled Quest at the resort, searching high and low to solve 13 clues about our country’s history. We submitted our completed quest for a chance to win an overnight stay! Any visitor, even those not staying overnight at the hotel, is welcome to enjoy the scavenger hunt fun.

We walked down to the Waterfront District and rode the Capital Wheel. When you stay at Gaylord National Harbor, you score 20% off Capital Wheel tickets!

We experienced the brand new “A National Haunting” Ghost Tour, which is free for hotel guest. This very kid-friendly storytelling tour invited kids and parents to learn about the possibly-haunted history of the Potomac River. We were led along a waterfront pathway for a subtly spooky 30 minute tour.

Our crew bonded under the stars, lights, and lasers during the Great American Road Trip Atrium Show presented by bubly, set to American road trip music. All the little kids boogied in front of the dancing water jets that changed color to the music. These shows happen every night at 8pm and 9pm in the lower atrium.


On Saturdays resort guests can watch a Movie Under the Stars presented by bubly. Lounge on the provided bean bags or bring a blanket, and watch together a family-friendly film.


Seeking to go somewhere fabulous with the family for 4th of July weekend, but want to skip the excruciating holiday traffic? Head to our family’s go-to vacation spot right in the DMV, Gaylord National Resort, for a SummerFest staycation.


We also love the awesome restaurants at Gaylord National Harbor. During our visit we had a superb dinner at National Pastime Sports Bar & Grill and then a big brunch at the Pienza Marketplace.


More Fun at National Harbor: There are so many fun activities for families at National Harbor — check out our favorites in this post!  We also love the Urban Pirates National Harbor Cruise, check that link for our review.

And if you are considering a couple’s getaway or date night at National Harbor, check out these offerings at Gaylord National Resort: 

Silent Disco Party

Experience the coolest new way to enjoy music at our Lobby Bar with views of our garden atrium and the Potomac River. Participants are given special headphones with channels tuned to select music mixes created by our DJ. Choose your favorite station and dance the night away.

Times: Saturdays, 9pm-Midnight
Location: Belvedere Lobby Bar
: FREE to Overnight Hotel guests and $10 fee for visitors.

Pose Rooftop Lounge #FlashBackFriday

Party like it’s 1988 at Pose – Gaylord National’s exclusive rooftop lounge on its 18th floor. Guests can enjoy hits from the 80s and specialty drinks.

Times: Fridays | 9pm-Midnight
Location: Pose Lounge

Summer Fun at Relâche Spa

Indulge in pure relaxation with special summer treatments. Treatment options include massage, pedicure and facial.

Relâche Spa Services

Happy summer!

Disclosure: We received a family press review stay. No additional compensation received. All opinions are my own. 

See the Butterflies at Wings of Fancy at Brookside Gardens


Wings of Fancy is open at Brookside Gardens!

Our family favorite spring and summer tradition is a visit to Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly and Caterpillar Exhibit at Brookside Gardens at Wheaton Regional Park in Wheaton, Maryland.  This will be our family’s 15th year visiting the blue morphos and monarchs and more.

butterflies in dc

Wings of Fancy allows you and your children the awesome experience of being able to walk amongst live butterflies from all over the world. Although you cannot touch the gorgeous creatures, you will be up close to them as they fly, feed and flutter amongst the flowers. Kids can pick up study guides to help them identify the different species from North America, Costa Rica, Africa and Asia.


There is also a caterpillar nursery where visitors can watch and learn about their amazing metamorphosis.


Volunteers are on-hand to help kids learn about the important role butterflies play in having healthy ecosystems, and how to lure them to our own home gardens.


Wings of Fancy is open now through September 16, 2018 from 9am-5pm daily. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitors Center or Conservatory gift shop and are good for re-entry on the day of purchase. Cost: $8 ages 13+, $5 ages 3-12, free ages 0-2.


If you know you will be back multiple times, consider a Frequent Visitor Pass and enjoy unlimited return visits to the exhibit this season. Cost: $50 for individual pass, $65 for couple pass, and $125 for a family pass.


Strollers are not allowed inside the exhibit, so bring your child carrier for littles not yet walking. Wheelchairs are permitted.

Please note that Wings of Fancy may close if there is a National Weather Service heat advisory, excessive heat warning, Code Red or Code Purple Air Quality Alert. In the event of extreme weather, Brookside Gardens will close the exhibit for safety. Please check the announcements on the park homepage for any updates.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Montgomery County Parks and Recreation. We are frequent paying patrons. 


Voice Lessons at Guitar Center: Tween and Teen Musical Discovery This Summer

This summer, my two oldest children children are venturing into the world of musical theatre summer camps. Charlie (14) and Eve (12) will be participating in musical productions for the first time, and as a parent, I am looking forward to seeing their confidence grow. I am also delighted at the prospect of the fun they will have and the new friends they will make.

Of course, a key element in my kids’ summer camp activities will be performance singing, and while they are excited, they are also nervous. They like to sing, but they have only had the standard school choir “music special” training and a couple recent voice lessons. The two voice lessons they had informed their voices and inspired their desire to learn more about singing.

So when The Motherhood Inc. and Guitar Center reached out to me to see if I had any children interested in reviewing the voice lesson offerings at Guitar Centers, it was either the best kind of coincidence, or divine intervention. Charlie and Eve are scheduled to have a voice lesson each next week at the downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center location.

I was not aware until recently that Guitar Centers offer lessons beyond guitar! But their musical lesson menu not only includes guitar and bass, but vocal lessons, drums, keyboards/piano, recording software/production and a full suite of band and orchestra instruments. All of these services are offered at the Downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center location, as well as many other DC-area Guitar Centers.

Both Charlie and Eve played instruments in 4th and 5th grades (snare drum and flute, respectively) but now they are turning their attentions to theatre and choir elective interests. It is empowering for them both to know that they can receive instruction that will help them perform their best, and that singing is not a gift simply bestowed upon the vocal chords of the lucky. Just like they used to practice their instruments and improve, they can receive professional guidance on how to practice to improve their voices.

As a mom, I’m so happy that they are interested in a musical extra-curricular! From what I have read about education and parenting, music education complements all aspects of their academic success, from ELA to STEM and more subject areas. Summer, when their math-English-Spanish-science-history homework takes a hiatus, seems like the ideal time to turn up the music. If you as a parent are looking for a musical lesson program for your own kids, look into the Guitar Center near you. Guitar Center is one of the largest independent music educators in the U.S.

I’ll be posting here soon about Charlie and Eve’s experience with their voice lessons at Guitar Center. In the meantime, learn more by following Guitar Center on Instagram and Facebook.

Find Your Ben’s Run by Clare Goldfogle

This piece is by Clare Goldfogle, who with her family founded Ben’s Run in honor of her son Ben.

While running one day in 2010, my friends and I had a serious discussion about what it would take to create our own neighborhood fundraising run in memory of my son, Ben, who had recently passed away. Could we pull off a run? Would anyone participate? Could we raise any money to help fight this horrific cancer that took Ben’s life? All good questions that only raised even more questions the more we seriously thought about it.

Fast forward eight years, we are about to host our 8th annual Ben’s Run on April 14th. This is due in no small part to a small army of volunteers who come together every year to make it happen, and outstanding individuals, organizations, and businesses who participate in some way — running, walking, writing checks, or donating products or services to our silent auction. About 1,000 people of every age and athletic ability register for the run each year. After seven years, our run is poised to surpass $600,000 in total funds raised.

Our dollars directly fund clinical trials at Children’s National where Ben was treated. These trials are working to detect cancer relapse at its earliest stage so it can be properly treated giving some very, very sick children a chance at a healthy life. Ben passed away after relapsing twice with leukemia and these trials are focused on kids just like him – kids, who without this cutting-edge research, would have little hope for a cure. Learn about the impact of the clinical trials Ben’s Run has funded. 

It’s our absolute joy to know that 20+ children are now enrolled in our clinical trials. That we can have an impact on even one sick child who won’t have to endure what Ben endured is beyond measure. Organizing Ben’s Run has been a labor of love, and the greatest privilege of my life.

Our volunteers feel passionate about our cause, too. While some of our more recent volunteers didn’t even know Ben, all of them know that cancer could affect any one of their kids or someone’s else kid at any time. Volunteering to support our run means that they can have an impact on someone else’s health. In our case, it’s a child’s life. What could be more important than that?

I challenge you to find your Ben’s Run and make the time to get involved. The compassion, joy, and multitude of other BENefits that the experience will bring to your life will astound you. Your hands will be busy and your heart will be full.

To learn more about Ben’s Run and how you can support our race on April 14, please go to www.bensrun.org. Thank you.

A Parent in Silver Spring encourages every family to register for Ben’s Run and support this fight to end childhood leukemia. Our family is volunteering and running the race…please join us! 

Alice in Wonderland Ballet for Kids March 17 and 18

My family and I adore the Metropolitan Ballet Theatre’s performances for families, and next weekend there are four amazing times you can catch this spring’s fairytale ballet, Alice in Wonderland!

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre presents a different full-length ballet each spring, and this year children can watch curious young Alice’s adventures with mischievous and comical characters such as the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Duchess, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Caterpillar, the dancing roses, swirling cards, and the Queen of Hearts.

Choose from four performance times:

Sat. March 17 – 12pm* & 4pm

Sun. March 18 – 12pm & 4pm*

*On Saturday after the 12pm show and Sunday after the 4pm show, attendees get the bonus of a special post-performance “cast chat” for children of all ages! These “cast chats” are also good for Girl Scouts working toward their arts and dance patches.

These shows will sell out and tickets cost less in advance than at the door, so buy your tickets now! 

Performance Location:

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

 Ticket Prices:

$18 for groups of 10+ in advance
$19 for seniors/students/children in advance
$23 for adult tickets in advance
$26 for all tickets at the door (if available)


Celebrate Purim with Purimania and GIVEAWAY

Want to party like it’s 330 B.C.?

For my friends celebrating Purim with their families, I’m excited to let you know about Purimania, a new album from award-winning family performer Danna Banana. Danna Banana has launched this awesome collection of tunes old and new celebrating the Jewish Holiday of Purim. Purim starts Wednesday night, February 28 and continues through Thursday, March 1, 2018, in the U.S. and March 2 in Israel.

Danna Banana is a well-loved performer with six albums out and numerous performances across the country. He is a John Lennon Songwriting Grand Prize Winner and named New York Magazine?s Best Party Entertainer. The New York Post called him a ?ripe talent and a mom in New Jersey called him “a piñata of listening pleasure.”  Trained as an opera singer, he sang leading roles all over the country in such operas as La Boheme, Don Giovanni, and Carmen before turning his talents to children?s music.

While most of Danna Banana?s work is non-denominational music for kids, among his earlier albums include; Bananukah!, a celebration of Hanukah. That albums success prompted him to create Purimania. As in Bananukah!, Purimania mixes traditional songs with his own tuneful originals.

Check out Purimania! It?s the funniest, most danceable Purim music ever! Let?s party like it?s 330 B.C.!

Visit https://www.dannabanana.com/ to get Purimania!

And enter for your own copy plus a $25 Amazon gift card in the giveaway form below!

Purimania + $25 Amazon Gift Card

Girlfriend Getaway Near DC: Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg

Have you been meaning to book a weekend away with your girlfriends? Because I have the perfect place for you all to stay: Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg.

Last weekend these three beauties and I left our husbands and kids behind and hit the road for a well-deserved girlfriends’ getaway.

That’s Teach Mama Amy Mascott, The DC Moms’ Sandie Angulo Chen, Justice Fergie Stacey Ferguson of Blogalicious fame, and me. As DJ Khaled is wont to say on SnapChat, the sun is shining on us!

All four of us are moms of three kids, and we keep each other sane as we navigate these choppy waters. We inspire each other in both business and motherhood, and our lunch and dinner conversations are never long enough. This time we started a conversation that began Friday afternoon and continued, nonstop, through Sunday evening.

It still wasn’t long enough.

Only Kingsmill Resort could contain our laughter…and our luggage.

Kingsmill Resort is the only AAA Four Diamond Condominium Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia. We enjoyed a two-bedroom, two bath condo — perfect for four friends — with a gorgeous view of the James River. We also had a full kitchen with all appliances, cookware and serving ware, so we were able to bring our own groceries and make meals right in our home away from home.

Although the property is luxurious and feels oh-so-fancy, Kingsmill is celebrating with special value packages for the remainder of this winter, and also for spring! You can snag a sweet deal on a spa getaway with your own girlfriends, book a trip with your sweetheart or plan a spring break that will wow your family. Kingsmill offers family packages that include tickets to Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg and other attractions. And if you are a golfer, the golf packages are an amazing deal to play at world-renowned course. There are also lots of web-only discounts for advance purchasers, AAA members, military and more.

You should totally go.

Our crew was much overdue for a relaxing and entertaining jaunt out of town. Our first night we simply toured the property and luxuriated in our condo, grabbing great sleeps in the comfy beds.

The next morning we headed to The Spa at Kingsmill where we each sprung for a service. I chose a massage for my hunched, knotted shoulders, and the other women went for pedicures. The best part was hanging out in the women’s relaxation lounge all morning and making new friends. We bonded with another group of four friends who we adored, and who provided a great dinner restaurant recommendation.

Kingsmill’s state of the art spa is a dream. We loved the lounges overlooking the water, posh touches throughout, cutting-edge treatments and experienced practitioners. The decor is beautiful, and we loved the thoughtful items provided to spa guests such as healthy snacks, teas, wine, cozy lounges and a lovely locker room.

The rest of our day passed in a blur of bonding and brainstorming in our condo, as ideas hatched, laptops clicked and stresses were swept away. We considered swimming, fitness classes and the many recreation options available at Kingsmill. And then we opened up the wine and cheese and settled in to revel in each other’s company. Together we watched the sunset over the James River from our balcony, and even broke into a spontaneous Girl Scout singing of “Taps.”

In my previous visits to Kingsmill Resort, I had loved the on-property dining. I highly recommend Elements 1010 for lunch, dinner or their amazing breakfast. There is also an on-site coffee shop, The Mill, with pastries, espresso drinks and sandwiches, as well as dining at the 19th hole, Eagles. In spring, summer and fall, do not miss dinner or drinks of the outdoor deck of James Landing Grille.

But after holing up at Kingsmill all day on Saturday, we decided we needed to take our girl Amy out on the town for her birthday. Based on the recommendations of our new friends made at The Spa, we headed to Fat Tuna Grill for an amazing seafood feast, drinks, birthday girl dessert and so many laughs.

After staying up until the wee hours of the morning discussing our nation’s problems (and also watching random YouTube videos that made sense at the time), the next morning we slept in.

(Moms of three do not often sleep in. This was BIG.)

Sunday we explored Merchants Square in Williamsburg. We noshed at The Cheese Shop and perused the stores, before heading back home to the DC suburbs for dinner with our families.

Our getaway was good for the soul, and over too soon.

We will be back!


Disclosure: My friends and I received a compensated stay and a press discount on our spa services. Meals and other expenses were covered by us. No additional compensation received. 

Cleanse Your Closet (and Learn How to Consign!) Wed. January 24

Cleanse Your Closet with Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel and Company and The RealReal

Wednesday, January 24 



1800 Wyoming Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20009

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to get more organized? Join my favorite local organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal for an intimate workshop where she’ll provide her tried-and-true organizing tips, with an emphasis on clearing out your closet to live your best-looking, most fashionable life.

You will not only learn how to best organize your clothing and accessories, you’ll also be taught by the  consignment queens at The RealReal how to focus on investing in pieces to create a closet that you LOVE.

Bring yourself and any clothes + accessories you’d like to consign (jewelry, purses, shoes, sunglasses, etc.). The RealReal reps will be on site to sort through your loot and help to take the goodies off of your hand. You’ll free up space in your closet and put money in your pocket.


You will also receive a canvas tote, a discount code to shop TheRealReal.com and The Playbook — A how-to guide including simple steps, charts, and tips to get your entire home organized from top to bottom.

Get your ticket here