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In Partnership with Amazon Fire Kids Edition

If you’ve been thinking about making the leap to tablet tech for your eager kiddo, there’s really no better pick than one of the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablets, where a world of learning, imagination and even engaged family time is right at your child’s fingertips. Best of all, parents don’t need to be some kind of software engineer to set up parental controls: Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablets are ready to go right out of the box, with no setup, no software to install and no computer required to download content.

Geeky mom Keiko had no problem setting up parental controls on the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet for her four-year-old son, Judah. Read on for Keiko’s tips on how you can set up parental controls for your very own Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet in a jiffy, too.

photo: Keiko Zoll

Why Should You Use Parental Controls?

Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablets come with a one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited allowing kids to dive into more than 15,000 kid-friendly books, videos, educational apps and games with nothing more than just a few taps on their screen. 

Keiko says: "Even though our son is almost 5 and fully reading at his age, we have to remember not all books or videos are appropriate for preschoolers, so that’s one of the reasons why parental controls are a must for us. We also like to stay in the loop about what he's watching and learning too because he loves to talk about the apps he's played or videos he's watched."

And what does Judah think? “I’ll watch scary movies when I’m 10, Mama. It’s okay.”  (Yes, he actually said that.)

photo: Keiko Zoll

Create Personalized Child Profiles

In the Amazon FreeTime app, you can turn on Parental Controls to give your child their very own personalized profile. If you have more than one kid, you can create a profile for each of them.

Keiko says: "We made Judah his very own profile with daily time limits and certain content restrictions. His profile image is a T-rex, because dinosaurs are the obvious personal mascot of preschoolers everywhere. My husband and I are the sole keepers of the Parental Controls password, so if Judah ever tries to do something outside of his pre-set limits, he first has to come to Mama or Dad to unlock it."

Judah says: “Will you please tell me the password?”

photo: Keiko Zoll

Set Daily Daily Goals & Time Limits

On the Parent Settings screen, tap “Daily Goals & Time Limits” if you want your child to only use their tablet for certain amounts of time or only during certain hours of the day. Here's a handy travel hack: set up different time limits for weekdays versus weekends. If you do most of your travel on the weekends such as long road trips, you can set up longer time limits just for the weekends.

Keiko says: "This is my favorite feature of our Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet by far. We can break down Judah's time limits based on what kind of content he’s interacting with. We allow our son to watch up to 1 hour of videos per day and play up to 30 minutes of games or apps on his tablet. Once Judah hits those time limits, no more videos, and no more apps—but he we’ve set his Books to “unlimited” so he can pick up his tablet and read whenever he wants to, for as long as he likes."

Judah says: “Mom, I’m out of game time. I’m going to go read now, okay?”

photo: Keiko Zoll

Totally Customized Content Just for Your Kiddo

On the Parent Settings screen, you can tap “Manage Content & Subscription” to really tailor your child’s experience by adding and removing specific content, from books and videos to apps and even specific characters. You can also use Smart Filters to filter content by appropriate age groups.

Keiko says: "Even though Judah is already reading and psyched about starting kindergarten in the fall, there are definitely some things we don’t necessarily want him reading, watching or interacting with on his Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet because it’s just out of his age range. We especially love that we can filter content by age range, (so no R.L. Stine or Hunger Games for Judah—yet). What’s also awesome is that we can filter out certain characters from shows and games who shall remain nameless (think big purple dinosaur or that bald kid from Canada) that as parents, might not be our favorite characters for our son to interact with."

Judah says: “Hey mom, why are there no games from [this popular show that drives us nuts] on my tablet?”

Get Savvy with the Amazon Parent Dashboard

Parents can access the Amazon Parent Dashboard via their desktop or mobile browser by visiting https://parents.amazon.com. There, you’ll see not only what apps, videos, books and other content your child has most recently accessed, you can get a visual breakdown of what kind of content your child uses the most.

Keiko says: "Judah has a penchant for apps and games and what’s so neat about the Amazon Parent Dashboard is that I can click on any app, video, game or piece of content he’s used and see a whole set of discussion cards to talk about what he’s interacting with. One of his favorite apps right now is a simple game of checkers. With unique discussion cards for every Amazon FreeTime app, I’ve talked to Judah about his game strategy and how he tries to think a step ahead."

Judah says: “Hey Mama, how did you know I was watching that?”

Starting at $99.99 on Amazon.com, check out both the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablets to see which one fits your family’s budget.

What’s your favorite feature of the Amazon Fire? 

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You’ve got your main Thanksgiving dishes down, but maybe you still need to figure out a few sides. Or perhaps you need a last-minute dish to bring to the family potluck. We’ve got you covered! Read on for our favorite holiday side dishes that happen to be super easy to make and totally kid-approved.

The Best Cranberry Sauce Recipes

This holiday season, we dare you to skip the canned cranberry sauce. It may be a childhood favorite, but once you’ve made it from scratch, you’ll never look back. We gathered our favorite homemade sauces for you to choose from, like this Maple Cinnamon Cranberry Pear Sauce. Click here to see them all

Instant Pot Honey Butter Carrots

These ain't your average carrots! Covered in a honey butter glaze, these veggies from Salt & Lavender are positively addictive. The whole fam (kids included!) will be asking for seconds. Get the recipe and other Instant Pot Thanksgiving sides here.

Oh Great Gratin! Potatoes

Pretty as pie! This healthy potato gratin with herbs is creamy without having to actually add cream—and great flavor results from thyme and rosemary. This is a go-to dish if you're going to a potluck-style turkey dinner. Hop over to Food and Wine for the easy-to-follow recipe. We've got other unique potato recipes here

Crunchy Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

Lighten up your Thanksgiving menu with this healthy quinoa-stuffed zucchini. The zucchini is filled with a mix of crispy pancetta, quinoa and cherry tomatoes, and the end result is delicious. Click here to get the recipe.

Mozzarella and Tomato Salad

You can’t go wrong with a caprese salad! This kid-friendly version is made with fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and a few other ingredients. To get the recipe, click here.

Sweet Corn Fritters

If your kids are fans of cornbread, chances are they’ll also love sweet corn fritters. The batter is easy to whip up, and frying them gives them a delicious crunch. Snag the recipe by clicking here.

Apple Bacon Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Packed with kid-friendly flavors like bacon and apples, this recipe from How Sweet Eats is a great dish to make ahead of time and reheat in the oven just before serving. These flavorful spuds are perfect if you're planning to be a guest at someone's house for Thanksgiving. We're pretty sure this dish will earn you a repeat invitation next year. Click here to get the recipe.

The Best Cornbread

Instead of plain rolls, why not cornbread? This recipe from Bless This Mess is super kid-friendly, and they will love helping make the batter. An added bonus: cornbread is a great tool to soak up the leftover juices on your plate! Get the recipe by clicking here.

Sweet Corn on the Grill

This corn from Country Spoon is topped with a homemade aioli and cheddar cheese. Grilling only takes about 10 to 15 minutes, and you can make the aioli while the cobs are cooking. Kids will love painting the aioli on the corn and sprinkling the cheese. Using the grill will also free up oven space. Click here to grab the recipe.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasting vegetables is easy and yields great flavor, especially when it comes to cauliflower. Plus cauliflower is very light, so it's a nice addition to a feast with a lot of heavy dishes like stuffing and potatoes. The crispy outside will lure in the kids for sure. Click here to get the recipe from Feasting at Home.

Caramelized Chili Acorn Squash

For this simple recipe from Chef a la Porte, all you need is squash, oil, brown sugar, salt and chili flakes. The great thing about squash is that it doesn't overcook easily, so you are sure to come away with a smashing dish. To get the recipe, click here.

—Parham B

Feature photo by Chelsea Shapouri on Unsplash

RELATED STORIES:

Instant Pot Thanksgiving Dishes You Can Make … In an Instant!

27 Incredible Thanksgiving Desserts (That Aren’t Pie)

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Fancy Hot Dogs

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Hot dogs and pasta–what’s there not to love if you’re a kid? This reinvented version of beef stroganoff substitutes hot dogs in lieu of beef strips. While most parents might already be turning their noses up already, you can always make more “adult” ones using bockwurst instead of hot dogs. Your kiddos, on the other hand, won’t think twice before scarfing down this savory dinner. Serves 4.

 

Fancy Hot Dogs

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp butter (more if needed)
6 standard sized hot dogs (plan 1-2 per person, or fewer if you are serving kids), sliced into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick slices
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup of water
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Method: 

1. Melt butter in a large skillet (cast iron works well for this purpose) on medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and sliced hot dogs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and the hot dogs are nicely browned, 5-10 minutes.

2. Add the sour cream and water, stir until creamy. Heat until steamy.

3. Serve with cooked egg noodles, elbow macaroni, or favorite pasta. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

Elise Bauer is the creator and main chef behind SimplyRecipes.com. It’s not like other recipe sites that feature thousands of meals, Elise has a select number of recipes that she has tried with friends and family, so she stands by them. Think of her site as a family sharing the recipes from their recipe binder with you.

featured image: LUM3N via Pixabay

From Babyhood to Toddlerhood: Our Breastfeeding Journey

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This post was written by Nicole Banuelos of Diary of a Caffeinated Mom in partnership with Happy Family Brands

One of the biggest misconceptions about breastfeeding is that it comes naturally for all women. I have three kids with three completely different nursing stories. With my first baby, our nursing experience was short lived and left me feeling disappointed. I believe that if I had a support system readily available to me, I could have continued our breastfeeding journey as I had planned.

Luckily for new moms and even “experienced” moms like myself, Happy Family has created a platform where you can get expert feeding advice for your breastfed or bottle fed little one to help you navigate the early, unfamiliar days of infant nutrition.

Many years later with my second baby, our nursing journey started off bumpy but turned out to be wonderful. Now with my third, I can mostly say the same – we’re in it for the long stretch – 22 months and still going – with no end anywhere in sight… even though this mama is ready to call it quits!

You see, my little man was born ready to nurse. He was delivered and immediately took to my breast and nursed for a whopping one and half hours on his first go!

The nursing staff was happily shocked. They kept peeking in to see if he was done yet so that they could weigh him! Each time they would peek their head in and giggle about my hungry little guy. So, since the beginning, nursing has worked out pretty great for us.

I’ve dealt with minor issues such as clogged ducts from time to time but thats really been the only type of issue I’ve faced this time around. That is, unless you count the fact that I am now ready close the book on our breastfeeding journey together, while my little man is not so eager to do the same.

I’ve asked for some advice recently on social media and have got a few people who have responded but for the most part, it was all about just letting them cry it out and I am not totally comfortable with that. Especially when it means he will wake up his sister who doesn’t do well without her “beauty sleep”!

I decided to give the Happy Family platform chat a try for myself! I wasn’t sure if they could be of any help because I initially thought that the Happy Family platform was designated more for infants only.

Luckily, I was wrong! I spoke with Rachel, who was a fellow mom of 2 and a nurse. We chatted for about 10-15 minutes and she was extremely helpful with great tips for us to try! I actually cannot wait to see how they work and will update you all in a new blog post once this chapter is closed.

If you are a new mom or dad and you have questions about feeding your baby, I highly recommend you give the Happy Family platform a chance! You can chat live with the Happy Mama Milk Mentors support for any questions you have on infant nutrition including questions about breastfeeding, pumping and bottle feeding.

Winter Sports You Might Not Have Tried

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If you aren’t already driving your mini Dorothy Hamill to the ice rink or watching your Shaun White-in-training do turns on the half-pipe, then here are a few alternative winter sports to try. The best part: You and the kids can dive right in — no enrollment required. Plus, you get bragging rights. Braving the cold for the sake of fun is an Olympic sport in itself, right?

photo: Chicago Park District

SNOWSHOEING
Fun, easy and inexpensive, snowshoeing is getting hugely popular as a great way to slip fitness into your winter days. And it’s a perfect way to wear out the kids.

Chicago Park District – Northerly Island
The saying goes, “if you can walk, you can snowshoe,” and the Chicago Park District gives you a chance to experience it for yourself during select snow-trekking dates at Northerly Island. Two hours of snowshoe (or cross-country ski) rental is just $5, and you can hunt for wildlife and enjoy the Chicago skyline at the same time.

1521 S. Linn White Dr.
Select dates: January 7, 14, 28, February 4, 11, 18 and March 4 from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., weather permitting (there must be at least 3 inches of snow).
Call 312-745-2910 ahead of time to verify that snow-trekking is taking place.
Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com

Morton Arboretum
There are 1,700 acres of natural beauty to explore at this Lisle attraction, and they span conifer forests to spruce gardens. Bring your own snowshoes or rent them from the Visitors Center. Kids’ and adults’ sizes are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, December through mid-March.

4100 Illinois Route 43
Lisle
630-968-0074
Online: mortonarb.org

photo: courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Midwest Region via Flickr

POND HOCKEY
Those nostalgic images of kids chasing a puck on a frozen pond might seem like mere fairytales to some of us in the city, but kids and adults alike can participate in informal pick-up games at their local ice rinks. Combined programs with a “Stick & Puck” session (allowing kids to practice stick handling and shooting skills) are just the cost of admission ($7 per person resident, $10 for 1 child and 1 adult; $14 per person non-resident, $10) and include the cost of skate rental.

Find pond hockey at the following places and times in Chicago:

McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing Road, 312-747-5992
Saturday: 10-10:45 a.m. stick & puck; 10:45-11:30 a.m. pond hockey

Mt. Greenwood
Tuesday: 6 p.m.-6:45 p.m. stick & puck; 6:45-7:30 p.m. pond hockey

Riis Park, 6100 W. Fullerton Ave., 312-746-5735
Saturday: 10-10:45 a.m. stick & puck; 10:45-11:30 a.m. pond hockey

Rowan Park, 11546 S. Avenue L, 773-646-1967
Saturday: 10-10:45 a.m. stick & puck; 10:45-11:30 a.m. pond hockey

Warren Park, 6601 N. Western Ave., 773-761-8663
Saturday: 10-10:45 a.m. stick & puck; 10:45-11:30 a.m. pond hockey

Wentworth Park, 5625 S. Mobile Ave., 312-747-6993
Saturday: 10-10:45 a.m. stick & puck; 10:45-11:30 a.m. pond hockey; Wednesday: 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. pond hockey

Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com

winter-frisbee-golfphoto: courtesy of Axle via Flickr

FRISBEE GOLF
Super-fun in the summer, Frisbee golf is great in winter too (as long as it’s not too windy… but then who wants to be out in winter wind anyway?). There are more than 50 free disc golf courses located in the Chicago area, however only two are actually in Chicago. Check midwestdiscgolf.com for a full list of area courses; they range from 9 to 24 holes and you have to bring your own equipment.Have a winter blast, everyone!

What winter sports does your family love? Let us know in the Comments section below.

— Maria Chambers & Ruth Rau

Is Your Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk or Formula?

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Being a new parent can be stressful, especially when so many different situations can make you wonder if things are progressing the way they should with your newborn. Whether you’re breastfeeding, formula feeding or a combination, sometimes it’s difficult to gauge if your baby is getting all the nutrition he or she needs. There are times where babies may just stop feeding for no reason, and other times when they seem ravenous. Here are some clues as to whether your little one is or isn’t getting enough milk:

Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk or Formula:

  • Your baby is feeding between eight and ten times a day.
    • If you’re formula feeding, your baby should take in about 2.5 ounces (75 ml) of formula a day for every pound (453 grams) of body weight on average.
  • If breastfeeding, your breasts feel emptied and softer after a feed or pumping session. However, it is important to know that even as early as 2 weeks breasts naturally soften and may not get full like they do at the beginning.
  • Your baby has around six to seven wet diapers and three to four soiled diapers per 24-hour timeframe. After a month or so, some babies won’t poop as often as 3-4 times per day and as long as everything else is fine, then that’s OK.
  • Consistent weight gain as outlined below. Keep in mind that breastfed baby’s do grow slower on occasion, and if baby’s pediatrician are using the old CDC charts (that were based on formula-fed infants) instead of the new WHO ones, a slower weight gain in breastfed babies looks a little more drastic:
    • 0-4 months should gain 5-7 oz. per week on average.
    • 4-6 months should gain 4-5 oz. per week on average.
    • 6-12 months should gain 2-4 oz. per week on average.
  • Baby seems content and satisfied after a feed.
  • Your little one is alert, active and meeting developmental milestones.

Your Baby Is Not Getting Enough Breast Milk or Formula: 

  • Inadequate weight gain. Especially if your baby is losing weight within the first 2-4 weeks of his or her life, or at any other time, consult your doctor.
  • Your baby has less than six to seven wet diapers and three to four soiled diapers per 24-hour timeframe.
  • After a breastfeeding session, your breasts don’t feel emptied and still feel firm after a feed.
  • Your baby is lethargic or sleeps too long of stretches.

Ultimately, babies are good self-regulators and their intake will vary from day to day to meet his or her own specific needs. Instead of hard fixed amounts, let your little one tell you when they’ve had enough. If he or she becomes fidgety or easily distracted during a feed, your baby is probably finished eating. If he or she drains the bottle and continues smacking their lips, your baby might still be hungry.

If you experience a combination of signs more than just once in a while it may be that your baby is not getting enough nutrition. Keep a close eye on the above signs and don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician.

When You’re Not Sure
Happy Family’s Infant Feeding Support Center allows you to live chat with an expert on nutrition and lactation and can help you figure out why your little one may be acting a certain way. After asking a series of questions to get to know your unique situation, the lactation consultants will provide some insight as to how your baby should be growing at that specific age, and provide tips before directing you to your doctor for further assessment of your baby.

Ask an Expert
You probably already know the Happy Baby brand as the creators of delicious and nutritious food for babies, toddlers, kids and expectant mamas. What you may not know is that Happy Family has made it their mission to provide expert resources and emotional support to families to help them make the best feeding choices for their babies. That’s why they created the Infant Feeding Support Center, where parents can have direct—and free—access to lactation consultants and nutritionists to get answers to questions about their babies’ nutritional needs and the best ways to nourish them.

What You’ll Learn
On the Infant Feeding Support Center, you can chat with one of the Happy Mama Milk Mentors, a group of lactation specialists and nutritionists (they’re not only experts; they’re also moms!) about all of your questions regarding feeding your baby. The mamas are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EST).

The support center also houses educational articles on a variety of topics related to feeding babies. If you’ve chosen to formula-feed, you can learn about how to prep formula, the nutritional needs of babies age 6-12 months, how to transition from breast to formula, and more. If you’ve chosen to breastfeed, the articles cover such topics as latching tips, how to deal with low milk supply, and how to nurse while you work.

You’re Not Alone
Chatting with the Happy Mama Milk Mentors can give you help with feeding issues and nutritional information that is critical to your baby’s health. But more than that, you will develop the confidence in knowing that you’re not alone and that you have the knowledge to help you make the best nutritional choices for your baby.

Visit the Happy Family Infant Feeding Resource Center for more information or to chat with a Happy Mama Milk Mentor.

–– Facts provided by Happy Family Happy Mama Milk Mentors

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1. Food is your body’s fuel.
As a professional athlete, I’m used to fueling my body with nutritious foods that help me perform my best on the field. I’ve tried to instill this lesson in my kids – food should be thought of as energy that helps them do their favorite, fun activities – whether that’s playing sports or simply playing at the park, rolling in the yard and even jumping on their beds. Making the correlation between healthy foods and being active and strong is more tangible than just telling them what they should and should not eat. (This is also a good motto for all the busy parents out there that need energy to chase after little ones).

2. Lunch time made easy.
Like every parent, I have a love/hate relationship with lunch time. It’s too time consuming and too stressful to ask my son what he wants each day – he would have me making 10 different lunches! I found the easiest way is to have go-to options that are easy to prep and can be mixed and matched for snack time and lunch time. They also work for quick lunches for mom and dad! Here are some of our favorites-

Turkey roll-ups: A simple whole wheat wrap with turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a little bit of hummus becomes kid friendly when sliced into mini bites. Make a couple of wraps and divide between kids and parents.

Homemade trail mix: I give classic trail mix a healthier twist by mixing pretzels and peanuts with air popped popcorn and baked sliced beets or dried apples sprinkled with sea salt.

Fruit: If I pack a whole apple, it’ll go uneaten. But chopped apple, strawberries mixed with some blueberries and mini dark chocolate chips are always gobbled up. I keep a large bowl of the fruit salad in the fridge for quick packing in the morning. To keep cut-up apples from browning, chop and soak in one cup of water mixed with ½ a teaspoon of salt before packing for the day. If all you have are leftovers from the night before: Last night’s chicken mixed with a little bit of plain yogurt and cooked peas is the perfect lunch served with some whole grain crackers and sliced grapes.

3. Cooking with kids starts early.
In the offseason, I love being able to spend more time in the kitchen cooking. It’s important to me to pass this on to my kids by exposing them early on to cooking and the different ways to use and appreciate food. I’ll even prop Luke, who is just a baby, in a highchair next to the counter while I chop vegetables or prepare a big green smoothie of kale, spinach, yogurt and banana. I’ll give him a small sip right from the blender. The more they’re around wholesome and nutritious foods, the more it becomes natural to them.

By Amy Rodriguez, Olympic Soccer Player

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August is winding down and school is starting but autumn isn’t in the air quite yet. We’ve still got one more longweekend to fill with all sorts of summer fun. Make the most of the unofficial end of summer with these events and activities across the DMV. Best part: these hip happenings are (mostly) free!

3896123917_f3c523fb85_zPhoto: Dan Dan The Binary Man via Flickr

National Symphony Orchestra Labor Day Capitol Concert 
Older kids (or your all-nighter toddler) will love listening to the NSO’s annual free concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building, featuring vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Aoife O’Donovan in an America-inspired program featuring marches, folk music, and bluegrass-inspired songs, including O’Donovan-penned songs “Red & White & Blue & Gold,”  “Magic Hour,” and “The King of All Birds,” plus the Bob Dylan favorite “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol.”. You can also attend the (also free) open rehearsal at 3:30 pm!

When: Sept. 3, 8 pm
West Lawn of the United States Capitol Building (Capitol Hill)
Online: kennedy-center.org

Library of Congress National Book Festival
Hear authors speak, learn about the Library of Congress, and find fun family activities like a Waldo hunt and story times. Don’t forget to pick out a new book before you leave.

When: September 2, 8:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
Washington Convention Center
Online: loc.gov/bookfest

American Enterprise ExhibitPhoto: National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History 
Explore the history of labor at the “American Enterprise” exhibit at the National Museum of American History. Kids will get a kick out of the Japanese McDonald’s sign, old ad posters, and one of Michael Dell’s early computers (“Mom, where’s the touch screen?”). Engage them with questions about how they hope to give back one day (and bring home a paycheck).

When: Everyday, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
National Museum of American History (National Mall)
Online: americanhistory.si.edu

Gaithersburg Labor Day Parade
Marching bands, dance groups, community groups and more gather on the streets of Old Towne Gaithersburg to celebrate Labor Day.

When: September 4, 1 p.m.
Old Towne
Online: gaithersburgmd.gov

11221575_10153518980000865_5349484710826687660_nPhoto: Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center Annual Page-to-Stage New Play Festival 
More than 50 D.C.-area theater companies perform a series of free readings and open rehearsals of plays and musicals in development by local, regional, and national playwrights, librettists, and composers–some with scripts in hand, others almost fully staged. Topics range from the presidents to Peter Pan and fabled historic figures (confirm in advance that your selected performance is labeled Family Friendly—all others contain mature content).

When: Sept. 2-4
Venues throughout the Kennedy Center
2700 F St., NW
Online: kennedy-center.org

11953128_10153547299445729_6521033758850839933_nPhoto: Glen Echo Park

Glen Echo Park Labor Day Art Show 
This free annual art show exhibits more than 200 artists from the mid-Atlantic region and includes media such as painting, drawing, glass, jewelry, photography, ceramics, furniture, sculpture, and fiber arts. Follow your visit with a trip to your local Michael’s and have your kids create their own gallery-worthy pieces!

When: Sept. 2-4
Glen Echo Park, Spanish Ballroom
7300 MacArthur Blvd. (Glen Echo, Md)
Online: glenechopark.org

13680562_1200455679979343_2477229214781310406_nPhoto: Virginia Scottish Games

Virginia Scottish Games 
Though adult tickets are $20, kids 12 and under are free on Sunday—so come enjoy a day of piping and drumming, highland dancing, and fiddling competitions along with sheep-herding demonstrations (your kids will coo over the Border Collies), an antique British car and bike show, vendors and crafts, clan and society exhibits, children’s activities (games, archery, and face painting), live music, and plenty of Scottish food and drink. Kilts welcome but not required!

When: Sept. 2-3
Great Meadow
5089 Old Tavern Rd. (The Plains, Va)
Online: vascottishgames.org

What are you doing this Labor Day Weekend? Tell us in the comments section below. 

–Tricia Mirchandani and Katie Brown

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Need a few crafts in your arsenal in response to the “I’m bored” chant you’re bound to hear this summer? It doesn’t get simpler than a paper bag and these five crafts are inexpensive, clever and just time-consuming enough to stave off the summer doldrums. Scroll down to get started.

photo: Sophies World 

1. Easy-Peasy Kite
Save this craft from Sophie’s World for a windy day! The best part is that the kids can decorate it however they want whether it’s with markers, feathers, streamers, or stickers. They will be thrilled to see their creation floating in the wind for all the world to see.

 

photo: Easy Preschool Crafts for Kids 

2. Fish on the Fly
While the last craft soars in the sky, this craft from Easy Preschool Crafts for Kids swims in the sea! It smiles, it swims, it’s simple and it’s sparkly! Grab some markets, glitter, glue, and any other fun additions you have lying around your craft box to decorate your fish. What more could a kid ask for?

photo: Creative Jewish Mom

3. Simple Apple Tree
This craft involves a little bit of twist and a little bit of curl. And remember there are many fruits out there that you can jazz the branches up with. Maybe add a bird or a squirrel or two! Check out Creative Jewish Mom for the full low down on how to twist, curl, and create this fun paper bag craft.

photo: Fun Family Crafts

4. Funky Birds 
Your kiddos will love these friendly bird puppets from Fun Family Crafts because they are colorful and exotic. You will love them because they are easy! Plus: who doesn’t like feathers?

5. No-Heat Fireplace
This warm fireplace from Crafts by Amanda is a homey addition to a doll house or a kid’s room to make them feel like real grownups (without the fire hazard, of course!). It will be fun for the little ones to search out sticks in the woods or at your local park for their very own mini fire place! Thanks to Crafts by Amanda for this awesome idea!

 

Have you tired any of these cute paper bag crafts? Tell us in a comment below. 

—Parham B.

featured photo: Mark J. Sebastian via flickr

 

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If your family is Harry Potter-obsessed, there’s a new destination to check out: the Forbidden Forest, a permanent expansion to The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio London. The cool new expansion just opened its doors to aspiring wizards this spring. Here’s why you should plan your vacation around this magical experience.

Attractions

• Enter the Forbidden Forest and follow in the footsteps of your favorite characters: Harry, Ron and Hermione. Gaze up at the 19 trees each measuring over 12 feet in diameter. The Forest is full of stunning craftsmanship all Harry Potter fans will appreciate.

• Cinema; Watch how it all started!

• Ride a broomstick through the streets of London and all the way to Hogwarts! You’ll get to experience green screen technology just like a real actor

• Watch the creatures of the Forbidden Forest come to life with animatronics. Good to know: this may be scary for small children but staff do provide a shortcut around it.

• Take a seat on the Hogwarts express and feel like you really are on your way to Hogwarts.

Insider Tip: Free children’s Activity Passports can be collected from the lobby. Try to find all the stamping posts around the tour for extra fun throughout the day.

photo: Mark Drew

Photos because of course, you’ll want lots of photos!
There are many great photo spots throughout the tour, from the Great Hall to the Ron’s flying car and Hagrid’ motorbike.

You can even get to try out your own magical power calling “UP!” to get your broom to fly into your hand!

You can also get a picture of you running through the wall to get to platform 93/4 of Kings Cross station with you luggage trolly right next to the Hogwarts Express.

  • There is free wifi throughout the tour.
  • Near the whomping willow you will find a seat where Dobby may have a sweet surprise for you.
  • Become a giant with the magic of forced perspective sitting at Hagrid’s table!

photo: markusunger via flickr

In the lobby you’ll be able to find:

  • A free cloakroom for all your coats and bags to pick up at the end of your day.
  • An ATM which offers free of charge cash withdrawals.
  • Digital guides with 9 Languages from £4.95 / $6 to enhance your experience.
  • Starbucks coffee for some refreshments.
  • Gift shop for all your wizarding needs.
  • Toilets

Food and drink:

  • Starbuck coffee
  • Studio café
  • The Backlot where you can try the wizarding worlds famous Butterbeer! It’s a non-alcoholic beverage reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch.
  • You can bring your own food and sit in the outdoor picnic area or the Backlot area.

Baby facilities: Baby changing facilities are available in each toilet block. In addition, a private area for parents to feed complete with nursing chair and changing tables are located next to Backlot Cafe. Hot water for heating up bottles can be provided within the Studio Cafe or Backlot Cafe.

Transportation: Plenty of free parking with disabled parking available. £2.50/$3 return shuttle bus from Watford Junction train station leaving every 20 minutes.

Cost: £39 / $48 for adults 15+; £31 / $38 for kids 4-15; £0 / $0 kids four and under

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Studio Tour Drive
Leavesden
WD25 7LR
United Kingdom
Online: wbstudiotour.co.uk/forbidden-forest

What’s your favorite Harry Potter book? Will you visit the new Forbidden Forest? Leave us a comment below! 

— Mark Drew