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  • Play Today DC Birthday Party Guide

    posted on May 9, 2012
     

    Stressed about booking your child’s birthday party? Play Today DC has a variety of options to make your party planning simple and fun! Our partners have great birthday parties available on our site for you to book now.

    Click on images for party listings on www.PlayTodayDC.com

    Yoga Parties from East Meets West Yoga & Dream Yoga
    Eclips Kids Salon and Spa Parties
    Creative Kids Kitchen Parties
    ChildTime Magic Birthday Parties
    Pool Parties at the Herndon Community Center
    JW Tumbles Herndon Birthday Parties
    Martial Arts Parties from US Karate Center, Mt. Kim Martial Arts, & Enshin Karate

    Party Styling

    A local mom of three, Courtney, amazes me with her beautifully styled birthday parties. I don’t know if I have the creative eye to do anything quite as amazing, but I have been able to take one or two ideas from her parties and use them in my own. Courtney had a birthday party for her daughter’s fifth birthday and did a Little Red Riding Hood theme.

    You can find the items Courtney used from the links below…

    Fondant Cake ToppersLittle Red Riding Hood Paper Items and FabricFondant Cupcake ToppersFlower Cookies on Dessert Tree, Party Hats, Napkin Holder Flowers

    Easy Party Favors

    Homemade Play Dough

    We love this idea for homemade play dough. You can pick colors to match your theme and create personalized labels. Package the dough in bags or food containers with reusable lids, like these baby food containers.

    Here is the recipe (so simple you can have the kids help!)-

    1 cup flour

    1 cup water

    1/4 cup salt

    2 tsp. cream of tartar

    1 Tbls. vegetable oil

    food coloring (I used 4 drops)

    Just dump all the ingredients into your pot and give them a good stir.

    Custom Labeled Bubbles

    Have your child help you decorate paper labels or print them on the computer with
    your party theme details. You can attach them with double stick tape. These are also great for a Fourth of July bbq with friends. Make sure to put each child’s name on their bottle so they don’t get mixed up.

    Personalized Aprons

    There are a variety of aprons on Etsy.com for under $10 that you can have personalized with each guest’s name. These are perfect for a cooking themed party.

    We hope you have fun planning your child’s next birthday party and use some of these ideas and businesses to make it easier to plan!



     
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  • Guest Post from The Meanest Momma- Oxon Hill Farm Review

    posted on May 8, 2012
     
    Play Today DC is thrilled to have a guest post today from a friend of mine, Kendra aka The Meanest Momma. I don’t visit a new playground without checking her blog review first!
    Kendra is a native Northern Virgininan who has been blogging about family, food, and frugal adventures in Northern Virginia for over a decade. Check out her blog, The Meanest Momma, for recipes, menu plans, playground reviews and more. 

    Over spring break, I was looking for activities suitable for all three of my kids (ages 8, 6, and 4). I remembered hearing about Oxon Hill Farm, but didn’t know much about it. We decided to check it out one sunny spring morning and discovered a wonderful kid-friendly destination that everyone loved.

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    Oxon Hill Farm is a working farm, operated by the National Park Service. It is located in Maryland, just across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. It is easy to get to from the Northern Virginia suburbs and full of educational opportunities as well as plain old-fashioned fun.

    It is a charming property, dotted with various farm buildings. The first thing we saw as we walked in was the dairy barn.

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    At the center of the property, several buildings are clustered together, making for easy exploring with little kids. I’d recommend a jog stroller as the road is gravel and you’ll do a lot of walking on grass.

    The administrative office/information center/gift shop is the building on the left. Next to the windmill is a Farm Museum, and behind that is a chicken coop. Further back is the historic Mount Welby home, built in the early 19th century.

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    The windmill proved entertaining to my kids — they had a blast running around in circles, chasing its shadow.

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    Inside the farm museum, we found lots of interesting equipment from days gone by.

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    While climbing on tractors is fun, the real attraction at Oxon Hill is the animals.

    We were first drawn to the large chicken coop, where chickens ranged free, both inside and outside the fence.

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    One of the best features of Oxon Hill is that kids can actually get up close with the animals and “help” with the farm chores. Each day, there is an opportunity to feed the chickens and milk the cows. The daily schedule of events is posted on their website.

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    When it’s not too crowded, kids can even help collect the eggs. There were too many kids the day we went, but we were still allowed inside to check out the coop.

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    A huge Tom turkey shares the roost with the hens.

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    After we fed the chickens, we headed over to the dairy barn to help milk the cows.

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    Ranger Stephanie did a great job explaining how to milk a cow and assisting the kids who needed help. Every kid was thrilled — except my four year old, who had no interest in getting that close to the cow.

    We also took part in a wagon ride, which gave us an opportunity to tour the larger property (and wagon rides are just plain fun for kids).

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    Other things you’ll see on the farm include…

    A scenic pond with ducks and geese (fenced so kids can’t get into it).

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    A large pig pen with some of the friskiest pigs I have ever seen.

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    A cute pony mule.

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    A pair of beautiful (huge!) Belgian draft horses who were so gentle and friendly. My daughter was in horse heaven petting their sweet soft noses.

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    Goats and Sheep – the kids probably spent 20 minutes “collecting wool” from the fence of their enclosure.

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    There are also bunnies and a farm kitty.

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    When we got tired of exploring, we ate our picnic lunch on the grounds. There are picnic tables scattered around the property as well as a hay barn that has picnic tables inside. A standalone building houses restrooms and a water fountain.

    Inside the visitors center, there is a gift shop and a small interactive area for kids where they can draw pictures, handle nature objects, read books, etc.

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    There were many great educational opportunities at the farm, but the real treasure was simply giving the kids the freedom to run free and explore. As a mom, I feel like many days are filled with me telling my kids “No”. Oxon Hill is a wonderful, laid back environment, where it’s easy to say “Yes!”

    And the icing on the cake — everything is FREE! There is no admission to the park and no fees charged for any of the activities. In an area like ours where just about everything is so expensive, Oxon Hill was a wonderful find.

    Oxon Hill Farm and Oxon Cove Park
    6411 Oxon Hill Road
    Oxon Hill, Maryland 20745
    301-839-1176
    http://www.nps.gov/oxhi/

    Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25.

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  • Pinterest Recipes

    posted on May 4, 2012
     

    I have had so much fun with collecting recipes on Pinterest. There is nothing better than seeing a delicious picture of something to get you motivated to try a new recipe. I am not a great cook, and honestly my family does not reward me for the effort (picky boys and a husband that often works late), so I am usually reluctant to stray from my easy kid-friendly meals. But Pinterest has changed that in a way, cooking magazines and emails never did. And I have found fun kid food that other moms tell me are easy and their kids have loved. Nothing like the testimonial along with the picture! Make sure to follow Play Today DC on Pinterest. www.pinterest.com/playtodaydc

    Here are some of my favorites-

    Apple sandwiches with granola and nut butter

     

    Add food coloring to your boiling water to color your noodles!

     

    Fruit kebabs, rainbow style!

     

    Seriously amazing- you can make brownies in your waffle iron!

    Source: chow.com via PlayToday on Pinterest

     

    Happy cooking!

    -Christine



     
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  • “Superwoman is the adversary of the women’s movement.”- Gloria Steinem

    posted on April 16, 2012
     

    I saw the episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter last night with Gloria Steinem and it resonated with me so much. I immediately posted her quote “Superwoman is the adversary of the women’s movement.” on Facebook and I was not surprised that it also resonated with my friends. They were quick to comment with “I saw that too!” “I completely agree!” and more.

    The point of her statement was that women are now facing the dilemma of being able to “have it all” and they want to do it all perfectly. But that idea of the “Superwoman” that can be perfect in her career, and her home, and her marriage, and with her children, is unrealistic and ultimately hurting us as women.

    The term, superwoman, was coined by author, Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz who wrote the book, The Superwoman Syndrome, published in 1984. The best-selling book was “for women trying to do it all – how to decide what’s important in your life and do it well.”

    This idea of a superwoman came from the second wave of the feminist movement which involved sexuality, family, work, and reproductive rights. The feminist movement had a profound effect on women and we can see a new generation facing different circumstances than any women before. Today, more women earn bachelors degrees than men and in 2010, women surpassed men for the first time in the American workforce. (economix.com)

    What do we do with all of this opportunity? We try to juggle it all- we want a thriving business, a beautiful home, happy well-rounded children, and a husband that adores us. Instead we are more stressed than ever and facing the fear of failure on many fronts.

    Have you ever noticed that if a friend posts something on Facebook about their failure to make a “perfect, healthy” meal for their children that night, that many women jump right in to support her with tales of their own pizza delivery call or instant mac n’ cheese menu? We are sure that other women are doing it right and that we are the only ones falling short. Thank goodness for a little dose of social media once in awhile so we can get a reality check on how many other women are struggling to just get it all done too. Although we often only see the pictures that a friend posts of her beautiful children in perfectly coordinated and clean! clothes. “How does she do it?!” is what we think. We forget to remember the reality that this was probably a special day and not how her children look all of time.

    I think the most important thing to remember is that we can just as easily take off the Superwoman cape and relieve ourselves of this pressure. Here are some tips from selfgrowth.com that will help these Superwomen have more fulfilling lives:

    • Keep life simple
    Begin leading a simpler and less chaotic life by starting with a life mission statement. In this mission statement, make a list of survival roles, or actions and behavior to get through day by day. Next, write down everything that is vital to obtaining prescribed lifetime goals. Finally, list areas of life that do not need to be done or can be let go. Then when this is done, begin a new game plan. Write this plan as if for a best friend. Watch for time wasters. Learn to say “no” often and without guilt. Reward new behavior. Live with the “needs” and do not complicate life with the “wants.”

    • Pay attention to each day
    First, get up earlier to allow some quiet, private time before leaving for work. Spend some time looking or going outside. What kind of day is it? What types of clouds are in the sky? Are there special sounds? Learn to pay attention to the “now”…do not be a “clock watcher.” Regulate the number of items on the “to do” list. During lunch, avoid talking business, eat slowly and take a full hour. Go to lunch with an enthusiastic staff member. Make a list of “hyper habits” that include too much rushing around. Share this list with a friend, and make a contract to alter some of these conflicting behaviors and to slow down. Find a specific area near work, such as a park, where it is possible to go alone for some quiet time. Post written reminders at home on the mirror that state, “Today, I am going to be in a good mood.” Be willing to say “no” when necessary. Ask for help when needed and delegate whenever it will be an advantage. Finally, before falling asleep, give thanks for one small or large success that occurred that day. Keep everything as simple as humanly possible.

    There are so many benefits that will come from stepping off the treadmill and enjoying life without having to do it all. Women need to throw away their Superwomen costumes and keep life simple with a daily “no” and more concern for their own well-being.

    I personally found this advice helpful but a little daunting. How is there possibly time in the day for me to take an hour lunch or look at the clouds?!? But then the “duh!” came to me. I have to make the time and stop worrying if the favors I made for the preschool class party are perfect enough. Let me know what you think- how do you avoid the Superwoman trap? Have you struggled with this too?

    Have a wonderful day and go check out the clouds!

    -Christine

     

     



     
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  • Welcome to the Play Today DC blog!

    posted on April 7, 2012
     

    That's me and my boys!

    I am thrilled to finally kick off the new Play Today DC blog! This will be a place to find out about great activities and things to do with your children in the DC area. Who am “I”? I am Christine Wilson, the Director of Marketing for Play Today DC. I am a wife and mom to two boys (Ronan- 4 & Declan- 2). I currently live in Arlington and I grew up in Vienna, so I am not only active in local sports and classes with my boys, but I have also taken many of these classes myself when I was a child. I have also been on the board of the Mothers of North Arlington (MONA) for the past three years and I have learned how important a strong network of parents can be for information and advice.

    Here at Play Today DC, we are all parents- looking for the best things to do with our children and great family activities. We want to create a network with you, the families, and the businesses that serve families in our area. This blog will be a resource to profile fun activities, great recipes, unique crafts, parent inspired ideas, and more. We encourage you to participate! Have great topic you would like to share with other Play Today DC families?- let us know. We may turn the keyboard over to you and let you run the blog. Give us your feedback and ask questions- want more great ideas on certain topic?, looking for a specific type of class? We will find the answers or someone that has them!

    Welcome to the Play Today DC community- we are excited to get to know you and to share with you!

    Yours,

    Christine



     
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