Category Archives: Guest Post

Fig & Wally: A New Gifting Site for Experiences, Empowerment Toys, and College Savings (+ Giveaway!)

[Note: This is a sponsored guest post contributed by Sonia Pinto, Co-Founder of Fig & Wally, an online service for creating invitations and gift wishlists for meaningful giving.]

Have you ever tried to figure out what six nieces and nephews want for the holidays? I have. My three sisters politely thank me for my gifts, but half the time they collect dust. Over the years, I’ve bought hundreds of dollars in toys that could have gone in to college savings, a family day in a chocolate factory, science camp, or toys that helped them pick careers.

When my sisters finally told me about my epic toy fails, we decided to help other families change the way they gift. Enter Fig & Wally, a gift registry for toys, family experiences, classes, vacations, charities, and college savings.

The name Fig & Wally came from our favorite ice cream, Fig and Walnut. We’d get one or two new toys per year, but every week we’d take a family trip to get Fig and Walnut cones — a tradition among our fondest memories. We couldn’t imagine not including experiences as a potential gift in our registry tool when an ice cream shop was the center of our childhood fun.

How do you create a Fig & Wally registry? Start with creating a digital invite on our site to an event, like your kid’s birthday, or a special gifting occasion, like Christmas. The invite will allow you to include your child’s wishlist that you also can create in a few minutes. Think about all your options from toys they love to a family cooking class, skating passes, a visit to donate to the local animal shelter, or tickets to Disney on Ice.

Don’t worry about duplicating gifts because your friends and family won’t buy gifts directly, they’ll click to send you the amount for the gift to your PayPal account. Then, you can decide which items from the list to purchase.

I’m so grateful my sisters posted their wishlists this year. One year, we all bought the same gift for my niece: a mini piano. There were three in her living room! We had to lug two back to the store and exchange them.

This year, their kids’ wishlists are decked with two favorite toys each (after all, how many toys do they need?), a sprinkling of activities, and the rest goes to a local charity of their choice (one they can visit and connect with) or their college savings plan. Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins have all contributed. My sisters are hard at work writing thank you notes for each contribution to tell each family member where their money went.

So you don’t have fond memories of carrying mini pianos back and forth this holiday season, try Fig & Wally this year. Let us do the heavy lifting as you sit back and enjoy the sight of your little one’s eyes light up as they receive their perfect presents.

Join us on social!
Instagram: @figandwally
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/figandwally
Have questions or need help creating an invite or wishlist:
Email us at [email protected] or call us at 917-310-0841

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Giveaway(s): Fig & Wally is hosting a giveaway on their website this holiday season, with a chance to win fun, kid-friendly experiences to share our belief that the best gifts make lasting memories. Prizes include gift certificates to the Kennedy Center and Adventure Theater! They are also giving away skating passes to the home of the Capitals! (A special thanks to the Capitals Iceplex for sponsoring the skating passes giveaway.) Submit your entry here!

KFDC readers only also have a chance to enter a bonus giveaway of a $50 gift certificate for Adventure Theatre. All you have to do is leave a comment below letting us how you would use Fig & Wally (FYI: email addresses will be shared with them). This giveaway will run through Tuesday, November 12, 2019, then a winner will be picked at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


This post is sponsored by the Fig & Wally, however, I only promote businesses, services, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under Birthday Parties, DC, Giveaway, Guest Post, Holidays, Professional Service

A Unique Educational Experience at Sandy Spring Friends School

[Note: This is a Sponsored Guest Post contributed by the staff at Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Spring, MD.]

Are you searching for the perfect school for your child? If you are seeking a unique educational experience that provides small classes and personalized learning; an inquiry-based approach to academics where our hands-on (project-based) curriculum takes place inside the classroom and across our beautiful 140-acre campus; and a character-based education that fosters critical thinking and empowers students to make the world a better place, then you should check out Sandy Spring Friends School.

A Personalized Approach
Founded in 1961, Sandy Spring Friends School (SSFS) enrolls just over 600 students from age 3 to 12th grade, a “just-right” size that allows students to be part of a diverse community of learners (including a robust international student population in the Upper School), while also allowing for an intimate classroom setting. With class sizes maxing out at 16 students, our first-rate teachers can offer personalized attention and cultivate each student’s talents and interests.

Teachers at SSFS know their students well and along with guiding them toward success in the classroom, they can help direct students and families towards in-house support they need to help them thrive. From a Student Resource Team to our Learning Resource Collaborative, support staff help students achieve academic success as well as improve their skills in self-awareness, self-advocacy, and independence.

Hands-On and Experiential Learning
At SSFS, the curriculum is informed by the latest scientific research on how the brain works and learns best. With continual professional development on mind-brain education, our teachers learn to effectively apply these best practices into their classrooms. When the mind-brain approach to teaching is combined with the benefits of learning in nature, you experience the magic that is Sandy Spring Friends School.

The 140-acre campus provides many unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. Wide-open spaces and a natural playground are used daily for exploration and play. Additionally, the campus includes a farm, a pond, an old-growth forest, a stream that feeds into the Anacostia Watershed, six miles of cross-country trails, and an aerial adventure park adjacent to the School.

The Lower School program takes advantage of these assets through a variety of learning activities. Students tap maple trees and re-enact the Oregon Trail experience in the fall, and make regular visits to the pond throughout the spring to see for themselves how tadpoles develop into frogs. A Farming Program engages students in inquiry-based learning as they reflect on their explorations, record their experiences, and formulate their own conclusions.

Classes in all divisions use the campus environs not only to expand students’ scientific thinking but also to further develop their understanding of stewardship and continual care of the earth. Seventh graders spend time studying sustainable agriculture methods on our campus’s organic farm. Upper School students use the farm and school land for scientific field study in Biology, Geology, and AP Environmental Science courses. Upper School students even utilize the farm for athletic conditioning (not many other DC-area school athletic departments can boast a “Farming for Fitness” class!).

A Values-Based Education
Strong academic, arts, and athletics programs are vital components of a college preparatory school—and indeed, SSFS seniors are accepted at selective colleges and universities across the country and around the world. However, for Sandy Spring Friends School, our education extends beyond what our students know and focuses on who our students become.  

The School’s values are rooted in Quakerism, which has a long history of commitment to social justice, equality, integrity, and peaceful resolution of conflict. SSFS focuses on instilling the Quaker SPICES— Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship— into each child, from preschool (age 3) all the way to senior year.   SSFS offers distinctive programming that integrates the SPICES throughout the school year:

  • Each division participates weekly in Meeting For Worship, a meditative practice which offers time for quiet reflection for students.
  • Students participate in social-emotional education that teaches students from an early age how to navigate conflict peacefully and respectfully.
  • Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools have a student body government, where students using consensus to select leadership.
  • A Senior-Buddy Program pairs up 12th graders with Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st-grade students. The groups get together several times throughout the year for lunches and playdates, forming special bonds of friendship between the oldest and youngest students on campus.
  • A “Community Day” in the fall and an “Our People, Our Planet Day” in the spring bring the entire preschool–12th-grade community together for environmental stewardship projects, reflection, team-building games, and opportunities to learn more about the various cultures represented by the School’s diverse student body.


  • Come and See Us In Action!

    Fall Open House | Sunday, October 20, 2019, 1-3:30pm
    Preschool-12th grade families are invited to come and meet our community of scholars, performers, thinkers, and doers. During our Open House, you will have the opportunity to tour our amazing 140 acre campus, meet our dynamic faculty, students, and parents, and visit our classrooms and facilities. Can’t make it to the open house? Schedule a private tour by emailing us at [email protected]

    Snapshot Days | November 12 & November 19, 2019 • 9-10am
    Preschool and Kindergarten families are invited to join us for a Snapshot Day on our beautiful campus! Snapshot Days allow a first-hand peek into our Preschool and Kindergarten classrooms for you and your child. Your little learner will spend one hour exploring our classrooms while you have an opportunity to speak briefly with teachers, administrators, and other parents; ask questions; and see our program in action. You may also sign up for an optional campus tour.


    This post is sponsored by Sandy Spring Friends School, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


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    Filed under 2019, DC, Educational, Gradeschoolers, Guest Post, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, School Event, Schools, Teens, Tweens, Weekdays

    Tips for Visiting Smithsonian Museums with Young Children (Ages 0-6)

    [Note: This is a Guest Post contributed by Jennifer Liao, local mom and founder of Family Trip Guides. As my own kids are now well past the little kid stage, Jennifer brings a fresh take on navigating the National Mall’s museum scene with younger children.]

    I started taking my kids to the Smithsonian museums as a tactic to survive the long summer, but it turned into the highlight of the season! We set a goal to visit all 12 Smithsonian museums with my then 2- and 5-year-old and made a passing grade of 8 over the summer and finished this past year. At first, my goals were to escape the suburbs and enjoy the free, world-class museums, but I wasn’t prepared for how much we would grow to love our visits! Now my kids regularly ask which museum we’re going to this week: The Dinosaur One? (Natural History), the Vehicle One? (Postal Museum), or the Inventions One? (American History).

    Channeling Julia Childs at Wegmans Wonderplace in the American History Museum

    The museums sparked so much curiosity and wonder in my kids that it became contagious. They were excited to share with kids and adults alike about what they discovered that, by the end, we were bringing neighbors with us on our museum trips. I started to get lots of questions from my friends about taking kids into DC by themselves, where to park on a weekday, and food options outside the museums. So, I started texting my tips to friends, which turned into emails, then ultimately created Family Trip Guides for the top five museums.
    I love lists so below are: 1) My 3 favorite things about visiting Smithsonians with young kids, 2) Trip tips, and 3) Favorite museums for this age.

    Exploring the African Art Museum

    My 3 Favorite Things about Visiting Smithsonians with Young Kids

    1. Following Their Wonder: I LOVE watching kids’ faces light up when they explore something new! I often follow behind my children when we first enter a gallery and listen to their oohs and ahhs and have them lead me to what they want to explore. Most recently, in the African Art Museum right behind the Smithsonian Castle, my 3-year-old was so transfixed by the beautiful gold exhibit from the Wolof in Senegal, commenting that one necklace looked kind of like a cupcake!

    2. Free = No Pressure/No Guilt: All the Smithsonian museums are free which relieves a lot of the pressure to “see everything.” If you need to leave because of nap time or a tantrum, you have a guilt free pass to do so. We used to live in Chicago where the Field Museum is $26 for the basic admission per person so you wanted to get your money’s worth, i.e. you stayed awhile, even if the kids were no longer into it. The Smithsonians can be a great pop-in destination whether you live nearby or not.

    3. Connection: Visiting a museum with younger kids requires a lot more attention for the parent or caregiver (why is Obama’s portrait at toddler-touch-level at the Portrait Gallery?!), but it leads to incredible moments of connection with your child. My kids help me live in the moment and see the wonder in the nature, art, and artifacts.

    Don’t miss the Volunteer Carts for extra exhibits (and stickers!)

    My Top 3 Trip Tips for Visiting Museums with Little Kids

    1. Go at the Right Time: Parents and caregivers all know that timing is everything with this age group. Pick the time when your child will be the least tired, hungry, and overstimulated. For my kids, that’s in the morning, but I know some parents who visit museums after an afternoon nap. I aim to get to the museum right at 9:45am to get parking close to the museum (often right on the National Mall!) and get in line five minutes before the museum opens at 10am. This is my “magic time” before a lot of the school and tour groups seem to arrive around 11am, and tourists later in the afternoon. It gives my kids a couple of hours to enjoy a much less crowded museum and make a clean exit for lunch, either a picnic on the Mall or at an eatery close by. (I have 20+ food options categorized by each museum on my blog.)

    2. Go to a Little-Kid Friendly Museum: There are 12 museums and an amazing National Zoo as a part of the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world! All of them are special and wonderful in their own way, but for this age group, I would highly recommend focusing on the most kid-friendly of them (see below), especially if you will need good changing tables and nursing areas.

    3. Avoid the Gift Shop: Confession time… my kids have never been to a museum gift shop! I think my daughter knows they exist, because we had to walk by one and I diverted her to another gallery. We really avoid the gift shop because, as all parents know, it can be a drawn-out negotiation that takes time and energy I’d rather be spending on the exhibits. So, instead, I have included Gift Shop Alternatives for each age group and for each museum in my Guides. A few ideas for little kids: If you’re near the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall, take a ride on the historic Carousel — for $3.50 the only dilemma is which animal to ride. If you’re at Natural History or Air and Space Museums, ask the information desk where the Volunteer Cart is for the day — they might be giving out free stickers. If you’re near the Postal Museum, get a food treat at Au Bon Pain, Shake Shack, or another place in Union Station.

    Start a stamp collection at the National Postal Museum!

    My 3 Favorite Smithsonian Museums with Young Kids

    1. National Postal Museum: This was the surprise favorite of our whole family during our summer challenge and definitely the “easiest” of the Smithsonians with kids. It has wonderful hands-on exhibits and the largest collection of stamps in the world — and they let you take a few to start your own collection! My 3-year old son calls this the “vehicle museum” because it houses a real train, a stagecoach, and an 18-wheeler truck to climb all around. The museum is located right next to Union Station, making it perfect for metro, parking, and dozens of food options from Shake Shack to Chipotle! 

    2. American History Museum: This museum has so much to offer for all ages, plus the best enclosed play area for smaller kids. Wegman’s Wonderplace feels like a real museum (because it is!) with paintings and artifacts behind child safe glass and at their eye level. It is created for ages 0-6 and includes a kid-friendly bathroom, a nursing room in the back corner, a volunteer-staffed gate to keep kids inside, and an amazing kid-sized replica of Julia Childs’ kitchen! (Note: Wegman’s Wonderplace is closed Tuesdays.)

    3. American Indian Museum: I love this museum because our kids don’t have much interaction with Native American cultures, and the museum does a great job at welcoming kids to learn more. We love the kids’ area called the imagiNATIONS Activity Center on the 3nd floor and The Mitsitam Food Court (which means “Let’s eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples). It’s an extension of the museum with foods from different regions. (Note: imagiNATIONS is closed Mondays.)

    I hope something in all these lists sparked interest in taking your kids (or neighbor kids!) to one of the amazing national treasures we call Smithsonian Museums.

    Thanks so much, Jennifer!

    KFDC community, what are some your favorite Smithsonian Museums? Let us know in the comments below!

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    Jennifer Liao is a mom of two curious kiddos in Fairfax County who unabashedly loves museums. She created FamilyTripGuides.com to help other families have great visits with their kids. She also loves cooking with her husband and long bike rides.






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    Filed under Babies, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Gradeschoolers, Guest Post, Indoor Play, Museums, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend

    Bright Horizons at Courthouse Station Opening Soon in Arlington!


    [Note: This is a Sponsored Guest Post contributed by the staff at Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool®.]

    Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool is excited to announce that Bright Horizons at Courthouse Station is opening next month in Arlington, VA. The center is conveniently located across from the Courthouse and just two blocks from the Courthouse Metro Station and Arlington Blvd. We are still accepting registrations for enrollment and are pleased to offer admissions throughout the year.

    Bright Horizons knows working parents and is ready to be your partner in parenting with amenities and features designed to make life easier for busy modern families.

    · Care and education for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years
    · Convenient hours and year-round care
    · Snacks and a catered lunch included in your tuition
    · Dedicated drop off and pick up parking
    · Parent workshops, resources, and support
    · Movement, art, and curriculum-enhancing activities offered right at the center
    · Our own secure app, which delivers real time updates about your child’s day straight to your mobile device

    The center team, including Center Director Megan, Regional Manager MaryEllen, and their dedicated faculty, is busy putting the last minute finishing touches on the classrooms. At Bright Horizons we believe that the environment is the key to creating a joyful place for childhood and we put a great deal of thought and care into creating those spaces. In keeping with Reggio Emilia and Montessori philosophies, our designs consider not only what children need in a space, but how they will use it. Our classrooms will form an integral part of a child’s earliest learning so we carefully choose high-quality materials to create beautiful environments with rich, open-ended experiences that nurture development and inspire learning.

    To learn more about Bright Horizons at Courthouse Station please visit the center’s website or call 571-305-5104. You can also follow the center on Facebook to stay up to date on center events like complimentary parent workshops, open houses, and other activities.

    And if this convenient location doesn’t work for you, don’t worry! Visit our center locator to find another Bright Horizons center near you.


    This post is sponsored by Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool®, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


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    Filed under 2019, Babies, Class, Daycare, Educational, Guest Post, Preschoolers, Schools, Sponsored Post, Toddlers, Virginia, Weekdays