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Kids First Swim School North Bethesda + Giveaway!

Kids First Swim School
Randolph Hills Shopping Center
4888 Boiling Brook Parkway
North Bethesda, MD 20852
301-984-7946(SWIM)
www. kidsfirstswimschools.com
 

My four-year-old daughter Clara has had such a positive experience at the Kids First Swim School in North Bethesda. I highly recommend it to all! I feel that learning to swim is so important for children, not only for enjoyment but for the life saving skills. I have two small children to watch at the pool this summer, so its been a priority of mine to have Clara attend lessons consistently the past several months. Interesting fact: participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children aged one to four years. (Source: Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2009)

Clara first started lessons at the Kids First location in Rockville last June and then switched over to the new North Bethesda location once they opened in August. Before participating in lessons, Clara did not even like putting her face in the water and she always needed to wear her puddle jumper to feel comfortable in the water. Now, just seven months later she has moved up from level 1 to level 3. She is now holding her breath underwater for more than 10 seconds, is doing front and back floats, bobs with rhythmic breathing, jumping into deep water, retrieving objects in chest deep water and working on sitting dives. I’ve been amazed! I honestly didn’t think she would make so much progress this quickly! I must give credit to all the amazing instructors we’ve had a Kids First who have made Clara feel so comfortable and have motivated her to work hard on her swimming skills.

KF_Clara1                                      KFSwim_Clara2

The facility itself is meticulously clean as well as the pool which is maintained at 90 degrees, providing a perfect environment to learn in. No shivering kiddos at Kids First!

Clara still gets excited to go to lessons every week. The instructors do a great job of making the lessons fun for the little ones. There are no more than five children in the small group lessons, so each child receives plenty of attention during the 30 minutes of instruction. There are also family swim sessions held on Saturday and Sunday evenings for extra practice and play time in the water.

KFSwim_Clara3

Session 3 is starting next week and runs for six weeks from March 23rd through May 3rd.

Kids First North Bethesda has generously offered to give away a $100 gift certificate to one lucky Capitol Momma reader! The gift certificate can be used towards lessons or a birthday party. The giveaway is open now through Sunday, March 22nd. The winner will be announced Monday, March 23rd – just in time for the next session!

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Mrs. Claus Tea at Strathmore

Strathmore Mansion
10701 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
www.strathmore.org
 

My 3 year old daughter Clara loves to have tea parties at our house. So, when I saw the Mrs. Claus Tea event at the Strathmore Mansion advertised, I knew it would be a big hit with her. Santa, Mrs. Claus, cookies, & tea – what’s not to love? I try to do one activity with just Clara every weekend, so that she feels like she has special one-on-one time with her Momma. This seemed like the perfect fit for our momma-daughter date.

The Strathmore Mansion is beautiful! As we were walking up to the front doors, I was telling Clara that this is where Momma and Daddy had their wedding reception but in return she said “No, you can’t marry Daddy. I’m going to.” I’ll have to try to explain that to her in another couple years!

SMexterior

After entering, we were seated at our table in the Music Room. The tables are set according to your party size, so Clara and I had an intimate little table all to ourselves. The table included a name card and menu.

SMmenu

The first plate we were served had four little tea sandwiches, a muffin, scone, and ants on a log. Clara loved putting the sugar cubes in my tea and getting to use real fancy china!

SMtea

After we were served our dessert plate, they gave bells to all the children and told them to ring them so Mrs. Claus would know where we were. Then sure enough, Mrs. Claus made her appearance. She visited each table and gave the children a small stuffed snowman.

SMmrsclaus

After tea, Mrs. Claus read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to the children in the Main Hall.

SMbook

Santa Claus surprised the children after the story. They all got a chance to sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas.

SMsanta

This was such a cute event!  I will definitely attend the tea again when little Miss Mae is older and I can take both girls.

Additional Info:

•Tickets were $28/person
•The Strathmore has many events for children throughout the year. Check their events calendar for more info.
•If you want to attend next year, make your reservations early – the tea was sold out at the end of October this year.



Santa Events & Photo Opportunities: Holiday Season 2014

 
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Here is a list of places (other than shopping malls) where you can take your little ones to visit Santa in Maryland, Virginia, and DC.

Brunch with Santa at Strathmore Mansion
Bethesda, MD
December 21, 10am or 12pm

Cookies with Santa at Thomas Farm Community Center
Rockville, MD
December 20, 2-4pm

Holly Trolleyfest
Colesville, MD
December 6 – 28, Saturdays and Sundays, 12-5pm

Breakfast with Santa at the Kentlands Mansion
Gaithersburg, MD
December 6, 9-11am

Rockville Town Square Holiday Open House
Rockville, MD
December 4, 6:30-9pm

College Park Aviation Museum Santa Fly-In
College Park, MD
December 6, 12-4pm

Congressional Plaza Holiday Open House
Rockville, MD
December 6, 12-4pm and December 7, 1-5pm

Ticonderoga Farms Winter Christmas Festival
Chantilly, VA
December 6, 7, 13 and 14, 10:30am

Virginia Railway Express Santa Train
Northern Virginia
December 13
(all tickets for this year are sold out)

Breakfast with Santa at the Purcellville Volunteer Rescue Squad
Purcellville, VA
December 6, 8-11am

Mount Vernon Triangle Santa Celebration
Washington, DC
December 11, 4:30-8pm

Roof Terrace Restaurant at the Kennedy Center
Washington, DC
December 13, 14, 20, and 21, 10am

Santa-Day at Stead Park
Washington, DC
December 6, 11-1pm

Santa’s Workshop at the National Christmas Tree
Washington, DC
December 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 12:30-9:30pm



Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
6521 Holter Road
Middletown, MD 21769
jumbos.org
 

I had never heard of Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch until I saw a deal posted for it on Certifikid. After I looked it up online, I found that it was named one of America’s top ten pumpkin patches by msn.com in 2012. So when we had an afternoon free on a beautiful fall day I decided to take the girls to go check it out.

The Huffer family owns the 131 acre working farm and first purchased it in 1870. Jumbo’s was established in 1994 with a roadside wagon and 1-1/2 acres of pumpkins. They now have 30 acres of pick-your-own pumpkins, a 14 acre corn maze, and many other activities.

When we first arrived, we walked up to the big white barn, where I was excited to find out that there is no admission fee to get in. That just makes this place even better!

Jumbosbarn1

The girls spotted the animals and headed in that direction. Jumbo’s has sheep, pigs, calves, cows, goats, chickens, horses, and a very friendly dog.

Jumbosheep         Jumbosdog Jumbocalf         Jumbopig

Jumbo’s has all the festive fall decorations and has fun little signs sprinkled throughout.

Jumboshorsecarriage                     Jumbosmeasuresign

They also have a playground area with a few spring toys, a tractor structure with a slide, and some hay bales for climbing and jumping.

Jumboshay                                               Jumbosspringtoy Jumbosplayground

Near the playground area is a concession stand where you can get meals, drinks, and snacks. There is a large picnic pavilion where you can sit to eat and enjoy the view. This lovely rustic barn is just beyond the picnic area.

Jumbosrusticbarn

Jumbo’s normally doesn’t offer hayrides to the pumpkin patch on weekdays (except for Friday). However, there were several people who were all heading out to the patch at the same time, so a nice employee said he would give us a ride on the tractor. My girls were excited to get to go for a ride and I was happy not to have to lug a cart and two little ones all the way out to the pumpkin patch.

Jumbostractor

It’s a nice ride out to the pumpkin patch as you pass the 14 acre corn maze and some fun decorations like this hay stack chicken. The man who drove the tractor was so nice and offered to stop so Clara could sit on top of the chicken for a photo.

Jumboshaystack

Clara and Mae were very excited about looking for the perfect pumpkin.

Jumbosclara                                                       JumbosMae

The views at Jumbo’s are so spectacular, definitely the prettiest pumpkin patch we have been to so far. I mean, look at this view, so peaceful.

Jumbosview

We stopped at the big white barn before leaving to pay for our pumpkins and also picked up a few Halloween decorations and snacks for the drive home. We had a delightful afternoon at Jumbo’s and will definitely make it a yearly tradition to visit.

Good to Know:

•Admission is free.
•Open 10am-6pm through October 31.
•Corn maze is $5/person (ages 3 & up).
•Additional activities on the weekends include: face painting, pony rides, mini wagon rides, and horse-drawn wagon rides.
•Portable restrooms only.



The Capital Wheel at National Harbor

The Capital Wheel
174 Waterfront Street #215
Oxon Hill, MD 20745
www.thecapitalwheel.com
 

The Capital Wheel is a 180-foot-tall observation wheel at the National Harbor that opened in May 2014. It is positioned at the end of a new pier overlooking the Potomac river and has amazing views of the Capitol, National Mall, and Arlington National Cemetery. I was intrigued ever since I heard about the wheel coming to DC since it reminded me of the London Eye that I rode while studying abroad in college. The Capital Wheel is only half the size of the London Eye but is still very impressive. I decided to take the girls on a beautiful fall morning after visiting the National Children’s Museum and we all greatly enjoyed the experience.

CWpier

CWcloseup

The Capital Wheel has 42 climate controlled gondolas, so you can ride comfortably in any type of weather. They hold 8 people and also include music and an emergency call button if you need to stop and get out for any reason. Be careful not to bump your head when entering the gondola as they are not tall enough to stand up in…..I know from experience :).

CWclara

The wheel makes about 6 rotations, so the flight lasts approximately 12-15 minutes. We rode on a clear day, so we had great views of the city and watched planes fly into National Airport.

CWview                             CWgirls

CWpierview                                          CWclara+momma

After riding The Capital Wheel, we went over to The Awakening, a larger than life sculpture embedded in the earth at the water’s edge. The girls enjoyed running around in the sand and playing on the different parts of the sculpture. There are a few Adirondak chairs where you can sit to enjoy coffee or take in the beautiful view from this area.

CWsculpture                   CWfoot

CapitalWheel

While at the National Harbor there are a few other fun things to do with children. There is an Americana-themed carousel featuring whimsical creatures located at the north end along the waterfront. The carousel is open only on the weekends and tickets are $5 per child. The area housing the carousel also has a new playground, toddler play area, and picnic tables.

NatHarCarousel        NatHarplayground

Also while at the National Harbor you can rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and pedal-boats.

NHboats

The National Children’s Museum is another attraction at the harbor and is just a couple blocks up from the waterfront. See my review here.

I definitely recommend visiting the National Harbor and going for a ride on The Capital Wheel. It is an easy drive from the city or suburbs and an activity that children will enjoy. I would love to go back sometime and ride the wheel at night for a different experience.

Good to Know:

•Tickets are $15 (ages 12-60), $11.25 (ages 3-11), $13.50 (over 60), free (2 & under). You can buy tickets online or at the onsite ticket booth on the pier.
•Take advantage of a Certifikid deal currently being offered now through November 14 – kids ride free with the purchase of a $15 adult ticket.
•Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10am-11pm.
•Strollers are not permitted on the gondolas. There is a designated stroller parking area just in front of the ramp leading up to The Capitol Wheel.