Category Archives: Parents

KidFree: Babysitting, Compliments of Chime & Neighborhood Restaurant Group

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Who wants an evening of free babysitting? Yes, you read that right. From now through Labor Day, you have the opportunity to enjoy four hours of kid-free time compliments of Chime by Sittercity and Neighborhood Restaurant Group!

Chime is a new on-demand babysitting service that connects you with a select group of sitters who parents in your neighborhood already love. Handpicked from the top 1% of Sittercity’s national database, Chime works with sitters who are highly rated and get glowing reviews from local families. It’s perfect for parents looking for an occasional date night sitter, since the screening process is, essentially, done for you.

You can try it out for FREE now through Labor Day. All you have to do is sign up for the service, and the first time you use it, enter the code NRG to receive four hours of babysitting credits — that’s a $60 value! There’s no charge to register, and it’s subscription free. When you use the service beyond the first time, you just pay a flat hourly rate based on the average cost of babysitting in DC ($15).

And if you need ideas on what to do with that time, consider Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s collection of award-winning restaurants or bars in DC and Virginia*. Current businesses include Iron Gate, Birch & Barley, ChurchKey, EatBar, Evening Star, Vermilion, Rustico, Red Apron, Buzz Bakery, Planet Wine, Bluejacket, Columbia Firehouse, B Side, The Sovereign, and Hazel. (I highly recommend Iron Gate, where we celebrated the launch of this awesome partnership!)

*If you first read about this in my Facebook post, note that you do not have to eat at one of NRG’s restaurants to get the babysitting deal. But they’re all fantastic options for a night out!

Now, go sign up and get out for an evening of KidFree fun!

Some of the spread at the Iron Gate

Some of the spread at the Iron Gate



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Filed under Date Night, DC, Deal, Eats, Free, Parents, Professional Service, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

KidFree: Surprise, Secret Music Events with Sofar Sounds

Local bluegrass band By & By performs for Sofar Sounds

Local bluegrass band By & By performs for Sofar Sounds

In case my blog doesn’t make it obvious, I love discovering new adventures and having different kinds of experiences, both with my kids and without. I value my “grown-up” time, whether it’s a night out with my husband or friends, a daytime venture, or just doing something for myself. Having some time sans kids is important for my sanity life balance. I know this is a sentiment echoed by many parents, so I thought I’d put this all together and, every now and then, share some ideas for those “KidFree” occasions. And I’m starting with one of the cooler things I’ve recently experienced: Sofar Sounds.

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So, it’s a random Thursday evening, and I’m hanging out at a nondescript row house in the heart of Petworth with a roomful of people I have never met before watching some local bands play. (You know, a typical Thursday night for a mom of two elementary school-aged kids.) And while I’m there for the concert, I didn’t know who would be playing until I arrived at the house. Even more, I didn’t know exactly where it would take place until the day prior.

Broke Royals kick off the concert with a 4-song set

Broke Royals kick off the concert with a 4-song set

What I did know beforehand was that Sofar Sounds, the global music series producing the concert, was right up my alley. When I received an invitation to attend, I learned that Sofar (which stands for ‘Songs from a Room’) creates unique live music experiences through secret shows hosted in intimate spaces. I love live music in small settings as much as I enjoy new, unique adventures. I also really like neat surprises. So, I RSVP’ed a zealous “hellz yeah!” (well, not really, but I was excited), worked out a date to go, then waited over a week for the rest of the details.

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Guests and band members hang out before the show

That’s not normally how it all works, however. Sofar Sounds hosts these music events in over 250 cities around the world. If you want to attend one in DC or elsewhere, you can see dates and areas of upcoming shows, then you have a couple of options: You can buy a ticket to guarantee entry in many locations or you can apply for a free ticket (though how guests are selected, I’m not sure).

So, the day before my show, I receive an email with an address, arrival time, and a heads-up that the event is BYO and that we’d likely be sitting on the floor in case I want to bring a pillow or something for comfort. I still have no clue what to expect music-wise.

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The next day, a friend and I Uber to the address, which turned out to be said rowhouse in Petworth. A Sofar rep greets us and gives us the lowdown on the show. A sign hanging by the door lets us know that By and By, Be Steadwell, and Broke Royals would be the artists performing. I hadn’t heard of any of them, but that’s all part of the adventure — discovering new music. So, we pour our wine (we brought our own cups, too) and take it out on the back deck where other concert-goers and band members are hanging out. People are mingling, and we chat a bit with the Broke Royals lead singer about his day job at the Apple Store.

Sofar Sounds gigs aren’t always hosted at a house. The location might be a warehouse, store, pop-up space, office, theater, even a museum. And a cool thing regarding the venue is that anyone can apply to host it — yes, you could potentially have a concert in your living room (or basement or bedroom) with a random group of people you don’t know in the audience.

Be Steadwell mesmerizes the audience

Be Steadwell mesmerizes the audience

After about 20 minutes, the show is ready to begin, and we all gather in the living room, some people on sofas, most on the floor, others standing along the wall. Everyone is there to enjoy the music, and the rule is no texting, talking, or filming (ok, so I broke it, but I was there as “media” and, hopefully, low-key about it).

I don’t know if we got lucky, or if they always get good acts, but all of the performances were fantastic — and all so different. Broke Royals played acoustic versions of their alternative rock songs, encouraging audience interaction as we sang parts of the chorus. The super talented Be Steadwell described her unique sound as queer pop. And By and By closed it out with a fun set of jubilant bluegrass. It was great entertainment, and something about being in that intimate space under those “secret” circumstances added a bit of enchantment to the whole experience.

The concert ends and we hang out a little while longer, talking with other guests on the front porch before heading home. I’m back at my house before 11 — the concert started a bit after 8 — in time for a good night’s sleep, with new tunes playing in my head and grand ideas of hosting a Sofar gig at my house.

Ready for a KidFree evening with Sofar Sounds? Visit the website to read more about their mission, and check out upcoming concert dates in DC.

 

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Filed under Date Night, DC, Live Entertainment, Parents, Weekdays, Weekend

Night Out at National Harbor

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Considering the vast range of the DC-Metro area I explore with my kids, it’s kind of funny how close to home I tend to stay on kid-free nights out with friends. That’s probably a testament to how great my neighborhood is for an evening on the town — and how infrequent those occasions seem to be these days. But I do enjoy eating, drinking, and being merry beyond my nearby haunts; sometimes it just takes an extra something to get me there.

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That’s exactly what brought my friends and me to National Harbor on a recent Friday evening. The folks there invited me to enjoy a night out to share my experience with the KFDC community. And after a great a time there over the summer with the kids, I was excited to see what a visit sans children would be like. Packed with dining and entertainment options, plus located right on the water, it was bound to be a good time.

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We caught an Uber taxi from DC to National Harbor, then began our evening at the Walrus Oyster & Ale House — and this was a fantastic place to start. The drinks and food were delicious, the staff extremely friendly and attentive, and the whole place had a fun, relaxed vibe. We devoured starters including oysters, deviled steak and eggs, tuna tartare, and mussels then went on to consume entire entrees of scallops, crab cakes, and lobster mac ‘n cheese. It was all accompanied by tasty cocktails and a nice bottle of wine.

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After dinner, we headed to Bobby McKey’s, where a reservation was set up for us. I hadn’t been to a dueling piano bar since my early 20’s, so was interested to see if I’d find it fun now.

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The verdict: So much fun! So, maybe singing drunkenly along to nostalgic tunes being played on piano by guys making lewd jokes isn’t what I’d opt to do every weekend, but on this occasion, it was a blast. Those guys are pretty talented (they know, like, every classic song!) and funny (after several drinks, anyway), plus it was fun to recall lyrics to old tunes (..he’s just a poor boy from a poor family spare him his life from this monstrosity…) and dance and let loose. We didn’t even mind what my friend Jody called the Gatorade margaritas, so you know it had to be fun.

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We closed out the place along with many other dueling piano-goers, then got another Uber taxi for the ride back to Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, it was rainy that night, so we didn’t get to take advantage of the riverfront location, but a walk on the boardwalk or drinks by the water would probably be great on a nice night. No complaints from any of us, though — the food, drinks, and entertainment were thoroughly fun, and we all had the hangovers Saturday morning to prove it. :-/

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Ready for a night out at National Harbor? Here are some details to help you plan:

* The Walrus Oyster and Ale House is located at 152 Waterfront Street in National Harbor. Hours are Monday – Saturday 11am – 11pm for food and the bar is open until midnight, Sunday 10 am – 10 pm (brunch served 10am to 3pm). Even though this was a grown-up night out, the restaurant is family-friendly with plenty of dishes that would appeal to kids, plus young diners are welcome to watch the oyster shucking.

* Bobby McKey’s is located at 172 Fleet Street in National Harbor. Hours are Monday – Thursday 6pm – 12am, Friday & Saturday 5pm – 2am. Be sure to check the calendar for special events or specials. (FYI: They occasionally have kids shows during the day on weekends.)

* Keep in mind you can make this a date night or an evening out with a big group.

* Read about more restaurants and entertainment at National Harbor on the website.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by National Harbor, however, I only promote programs, events, and products that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under Date Night, Eats, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Moms, Music, Parents, Sponsored Post, Weekdays, Weekend

Giveaway: Get Ready for Valentine’s Day with the Help of UrbanSitter

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If you’re planning a date night to celebrate Valentine’s Day, one of the essentials in preparing is booking a babysitter. But with the holiday falling on a Saturday night this year, it’s bound to be tougher than usual to nail down child care. Not to worry, because UrbanSitter has you covered.

UrbanSitter is an online and mobile service for parents and sitters to connect through people they know by harnessing the power of social media. Using graphs like Facebook and LinkedIn to help parents find sitters through friends means that trust is built in. Parents can see which sitters their friends have hired and liked. And, because time is a prized possession to most parents, they can efficiently book a sitter online in minutes.

I first wrote about UrbanSitter a couple of years ago, and you can read the post about our experience using the service. But here’s the rundown on how it works: UrbanSitter leverages members’ social graphs to surface babysitters to whom they have a real-world connection through people they trust, and then offers profile info and a video clip coupled with valuable marketplace data about each sitter’s performance (reviews from parents who’ve booked her/him, number of repeat families, how quickly they respond to booking requests, special skills, etc). UrbanSitter also facilitates the booking in real-time (ala OpenTable) and the payment (ala Uber). Parents can opt for subscriptions or a pay-as-you-go fee. There is also a subscription offering for sitters.

To learn more and sign up with UrbanSitter, visit the website.

Now go plan that date night!

Giveaway: TEN KidFriendly DC readers can win $50 in credit to use toward babysitting with UrbanSitter! Simply leave a comment below telling me your favorite date night restaurant in the area. To be eligible, you must be a new UrbanSitter customer (go here to sign up for a FREE account) and you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook. Since you’ll want to get your Valentine’s Day sitter booked soon, this giveaway will only run until 3pm tomorrow, Tuesday, February 10 (but credit can be used through March 31, 2015). All winners will be notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by UrbanSitter, however, I only promote services, events, and programs that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under Child Care, Date Night, DC, Giveaway, Holidays, Maryland, Parents, Professional Service, Sponsored Post, Virginia

Make a Parent Play Date to See “As You Like It”

Photo by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company

Photo by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company



[Note: I had the opportunity to attend the opening night performance of Sheakespeare Theatre Company’s production of “As You Like It.” My friend, Torey, joined me, and provided the below write-up about it. Generally, we both recommend it for a grown-up outing, but older kids who can sit through long productions might enjoy it, too.]

As You Like It” is another wonderful production by Shakespeare Theater Company. The comedy of mistaken identity (and love, of course) will remind you of what Shakespeare did best: Create a tangled plot that lures you in with compelling characters and poetic verse.

The story is about Rosalind, who (disguised as a boy) runs away to the Forest of Arden with her cousin, Celia, fleeing her mean uncle. Throughout their journey, the two meet many interesting characters, including Rosalind’s love interest, Orlando, whom she encounters as he competes in a wrestling match in the forest. You’ll recognize one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, “All the world’s a stage…”, spoken by Jaques, a traveller they encounter along the way.

The cast of As You Like It is superb. Opening night shows can often come with kinks that haven’t quite been ironed out yet, but this performance was spot on, and the actors delivered as if they were months into it. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it should surprise and delight if you enjoy seeing a talented cast come together and truly have fun on stage.

As You Like It is running at the Lansburgh Theatre through December 14. Tickets are available for purchase online or by calling 877-487-8849. The running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes, including intermission.

Disclosure: KidFriendly DC received complimentary tickets to see As You Like It, but all opinions expressed here are entirely those of the writer.


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