Tag Archives: best of dc

Fair Season 2019!

Prince George’s County Fair (Image: F Delventhal)

Looking for a change of scenery?

Want to get out DC’s concrete jungle for the day?

Or maybe you just want to try a fried Oreo?

All of these dreams can come true over the next few weeks at one of the many area county and state fairs. 

What is a Fair?

Usually held in late summer or early fall, county and state fairs often include agricultural exhibits or competitors, carnival amusement rides, and games, displays of industrial products, automobile racing, and entertainment such as musical concerts (adapted from Wikipedia).

Maryland and Virginia Fairs

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair (Images: Catherine McEaddy)

The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair and the Arlington County Fair are held in August; The Prince George’s County Fair takes place in September. KidFriendly DC and NBCWashington have details about some of the most popular county fairs throughout Maryland and Virginia.

The DC State Fair

Interested in checking out an agricultural fair on urban turf? Then don’t miss the 10th Annual DC State Fair on September 8th. That’s right- DC has a state fair! It may be small in comparison to Maryland or Virginia’s state fairs, but the DC State Fair definitely has the best t-shirts. Plus as a DC resident, you can enter one of the contests!

Do You Have Your DC Library Card?

 

The DC Public Library is the place to check out books and other materials for free for both yourself and your host kids. There are many branches located throughout the city. Also, there are more than 15 million free online movies, eBooks, music, and more available online for cardholders.

Ready to Get Started?

Free Classes for Kids and Adults

The DC Public Library offers loads of free classes for kids and adults including yoga, adult coloring, ESL conversation circles, kid crafts and many special seasonal activities. (They offer a lot more kid-friendly activities during the summer when kids are on vacation.) Check out the library event calendar for classes throughout the city. And don’t forget- they’re free!

ESL Conversation Circles*

Library Branches Located Near Our Cluster Area

Chevy Chase Library Upcoming Events

Cleveland Park Library Upcoming Events 

Georgetown Library Upcoming Events

Lamond-Riggs Library Upcoming Events

Mt. Pleasant Library Upcoming Events

Petworth Library Upcoming Events

Shepherd Park Library  Upcoming Events

Takoma Park Library Upcoming Events

Tenley-Friendship Library Upcoming Events

West End Library Upcoming Events

*Please note that DC Public Library classes are for fun and do not count towards an au pair’s academic class requirement. 

Amazing Cluster Meeting at US Capitol

More than 700 Au Pair in America au pairs from 30 DC/Maryland/Virginia area clusters came together on Saturday, March 9 to tour the US Capitol. We were joined by Au Pair in America director, Ruth Ferry. We had a wonderful time and an amazing photo.

Au Pair in America au pairs from the DC/MD/VA area, their Community Counselors and APIA director, Ruth Ferry

Touring the US Capitol is a highlight of any visit to Washington, DC. The Visitor Center offers free online tickets and a limited number of same-day tickets. The tour starts off with a brief and engaging video with some history on the Capitol Building and the US in general. The tour guides are knowledgeable and will take you to some of the building’s most iconic locations.

Touring the US Capitol is a highlight for our cluster every year.

Spring 2019 in Washington, DC

William Neuheisel

March 20th is the first official day of Spring, and the city is alive with so much to do. Take advantage of longer days and warmer temperatures to get outside and explore the city with your host kids. From cherry blossoms on the Potomac to Easter egg hunts at Hillwood or even Madame Tussauds, there truly is something for children of all ages. 

Activities from Some of Our Favorite DC Blogs

Kidfriendly DC

Red Tricycle DC

Capital City Au Pairs (That’s right- don’t forget that this blog has plenty of ideas too!)

About Travel DC

2018/2019 Winter Vacation: Tips for Success

Photo: m01229 (Flickr)

During the last week of December and first week of January, many host kids will have between ten days to two weeks off from school for winter vacation. The thought of having the kids home for multiple days during the winter can send even the most seasoned childcare giver into a panic. Cold weather, shorter days, extra sugar, later bedtimes, and visiting relatives can be a challenge, but with some pre-planning, you can provide your host kids with a vacation to remember.

Tip #1: Plan Ahead

Tip #2: Dress the Part

Designed by Freepik

Winter has finally arrived in DC. It’s important to dress for cold weather and to make sure that your host children are dressed warmly too. If this is your first experience with really cold weather, ask your host parents for advice on staying warm. For more info, read this blog post from October: It’s Cold Out There! A 2018 Guide to DC Winter Weather.

Tip #3: Plan a Cozy Day Indoors

  • Staying home for the day? APIA’s Pinterest boards have loads of winter fun and holiday crafts and activities.
  • Help the kids organize their toys and rooms with these suggestions. With mom and dad’s permission, perhaps your host kids can donate some of the toys they have outgrown. This will create more room for the new toys from Santa.
  • Looking for a fun baking activity? Gingerbread is a delicious way to celebrate the season!

Tip #4: Make a Date

Playdates can be a great way for kids to socialize and work on the important skills necessary for being a good friend. Talk with your host family about planning a playdate over winter vacation. With their permission, you can use our cluster list to find an au pair who lives near you and has host kids who are compatible ages with your host kids. If hosting doesn’t work, you can also make plans to meet up at the library for a free story hour or crafting session.

Winter Fun for DC Kids (2018-2019)

Designed by Teksomolika / Freepik

Brr! In need of some ideas to keep the kids entertained this winter? Here’s a roundup of several great local blogs full of suggestions for spending the day exploring DC both before and after the holidays.

Indoorsy DC

KidFriendly DC

Our Kids

  • Don’t miss this comprehensive list of the DC area’s local seasonal activities.
  • Wondering if it’s worth taking the kids to one of the many local happenings? Read the reviews before you go!

Red Tricycle

And last, but not least…

Capital City Au Pairs

DC’s Winter Lights

Looking for something fun to do on a cold winter night? Check out these free events designed to help you enjoy DC ~ even with the earlier sunsets.

Light Yards

Light Yards DC

Dec 7 to Jan 4 | 6 – 10 PM

#LightYards has two must-see, worldwide traveling light installations:

  • The Pool (by Jen Lewin Studio) invites visitors to hop, skip, and jump across 106 interactive circular pads of light.
  • Angels of Freedom (by OGE Group) aims to reveal the inner beauties of everyone by visually turning visitors into real-life angels.

ZooLights

Photo: Jim Jenkins, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Nov 23 to Jan 1 (except Dec 24, 25 and 31) |5 – 9 PM

#DCZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with two dazzling laser light shows set to music.

New this year:

  • Gingerbread Village
  • Reindeer Game Fun Zone
  • Interactive Light Display
  • Grump Holiday Market (Dec 6, 7, 8)

National Christmas Tree

The 96th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting at The Ellipse in President’s Park on November 28, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi)

Nov 29 to Jan 1 |10 am-10 pm weeknights/11 pm weekends

The National Christmas Tree will be lit every day starting from approximately 4:30 p.m. as part of the “America Celebrates” display at President’s Park (White House). The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees decorated with handmade ornaments that are unique to each tree. Please visit the National Park Service website for the most up-to-date information.

US Capitol Christmas Tree

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, December 6, 2018. (Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo)

Dec 7 to Jan 1 |Nightfall-11 pm

This year’s 80-foot-tall #uscapitolchristmastree traveled over 3000 miles from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon to Washington, DC,  aboard a 106-foot-long truck and trailer. Seventy smaller companion trees from Oregon also decorate government buildings and public spaces around Washington, DC. Oregonians contributed 10,000 handmade ornaments celebrating the state’s cultural history and people, landscapes, natural resources, and fish and wildlife. Click here to learn more.

Georgetown GLOW

Image: Bekah Richards (Flickr)

Dec 1 to Jan 6 | 5 – 10 PM

#GeorgetownGLOW invites visitors to reimagine the season of light through outdoor public art. Click here for more information about this year’s art installations and to download a map.

 

Looking for more fun ways to celebrate the holiday season in DC?

Christmas 2018

We have host families from a wide variety of backgrounds and faiths; some of our host families celebrate Christmas, some celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Kwanzaa, and some celebrate more than one holiday or none at all. If you’re an au pair living with a host family who celebrates Christmas and you do not, I encourage you to take part and experience it with them. This can be a great opportunity for learning and culture sharing. I also encourage host families to ask their au pairs to share their holiday traditions and customs. 

 

History

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion.

Image: Alan Cleaver (Flickr)

Image: Alan Cleaver (Flickr)

In the United States, popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. (Source: History.com)

Christmas Traditions in the US

Infographic: History.com

Infographic: History.com

In the US, Americans celebrate Christmas with traditions that have been introduced from different cultures as well as some uniquely American celebrations.

  • The period of time in the US from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is called “the holidays.”
  • Decorated Christmas trees begin lighting up windows in homes, and shops and outdoor plazas shortly after Thanksgiving.
  • Christmas tree ornaments can be found in almost every store, but many families have boxes of treasured ornaments made by children out of paper and other crafts which are lovingly hung year after year.
  • Christmas lights decorate trees indoors as well as the front lawns and porches of houses. Many parks have special holiday light displays.
  • Children write letters to Santa Claus requesting gifts. Shopping malls, parties, churches, and some schools host events where children can have their photo taken with Santa Claus and ask him for gifts in-person.
  • Christians remember the birth of Christ with nativity scenes displayed on church lawns, Christmas pageants performed by children in churches and some schools, and delicate, often handcrafted manger scenes set out among the Christmas decor at home.
  • On December 24, Christmas Eve, many families have special traditions and often attend Christmas Eve church services. Children hang Christmas stockings, leave cookies and milk for Santa Claus, and try their best to fall asleep so Santa can deliver their presents.
  • On December 25, Christmas Day, children wake up early to see the gifts Santa Claus left them. Families exchange gifts, which have been wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree.
  • Americans mail Christmas and holiday cards (often with photos of the family) throughout the holiday season. In 2010, Americans mailed 1.5 billion holiday cards.
  • Source: Moo.com

    Source: Moo.com

    Many Americans view the same beloved Christmas movies year after year. Some classic favorites include, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Christmas Story,” “Home Alone,” “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” “Elf” and “A Miracle on 34th Street.”


The 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree (Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo)

Celebrating Christmas in Washington, DC

A very Merry Christmas to all!

Hanukkah 2018

You can visit the world's largest menorah on the Ellipse in Washington, DC. Photo: Ted Eytan (Flickr)

You can visit the world’s largest menorah on the Ellipse in Washington, DC. Photo: Ted Eytan (Flickr)

We have host families from a wide variety of backgrounds and faiths; some host families celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Christmas, some celebrate Kwanzaa, and some celebrate more than one holiday or none at all. If you’re an au pair living with a host family who celebrates Hanukkah and you do not, I encourage you to take part and experience it with them. This can be a great opportunity for learning and culture sharing. I also encourage host families to ask their au pairs to share their holiday traditions and customs. 

Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means dedication. The holiday begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew Month of Kislev and lasts eight days. Hanukkah usually falls in the month of December, but occasionally can start in November. This year Hanukkah begins at sundown on Sunday, December 2, 2018, and ends the evening of Monday, December 10, 2018

How Do You Spell Hanukkah?

According to Judaism 101, the process of writing Hebrew words in the Roman (English) alphabet is known as transliteration. Transliteration is more an art than a science, and opinions on the correct way to transliterate words vary widely. This is why the Jewish festival of lights (in Hebrew, Cheit-Nun-Kaf-Hei) is spelled Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanuka, and many other interesting ways. Each spelling has a legitimate phonetic and orthographic basis; none is right or wrong.

History

The books of the Maccabees tell the story of Hanukkah which occurred in 165 B.C. After three years of struggle, the Jews in Judea defeated the Syrian tyrant Antiochus. The Jewish people held festivities in the Temple of Jerusalem and rededicated it to God. After removing all Syrian idols from the Temple, the Jews found only one small pot of oil to light their holy lamps. Miraculously, the small pot provided oil for eight days. Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish leader, then proclaimed a festival to be observed by Jewish people. (Source: www.apples4theteacher.com)

Hanukkah Traditions (Source: www.bhg.com)

  • The Menorah

The centerpiece of the Hanukkah celebration is the Hanukkah or menorah, a candelabra that holds nine candles. Eight candles symbolize the number of days that the Temple lantern blazed; the ninth, the shamash, is a helper candle used to light the others. Families light one candle on the first day, two on the second (and so on) after sundown during the eight days of Hanukkah while reciting prayers and singing songs. The menorah — either store-bought or homemade and crafted of metal, wood, papier-mache, or clay — is filled from right to left, but lit left to right so each new candle is lit first. (Source: www.bhg.com)

  • Singing Songs

Hanukkah — one of the most family-oriented of Jewish holidays — comes with its own set of carols sung around the glowing menorah. These celebrate everything from the glory of God and the ancient Temple of the Jews (“Maoz Tzur”) to the simplicity of a dreidel (see below), as in “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel/I made it out of clay/And when it’s dry and ready/Dreidel I shall play.”

  • Yummy Treats
Photo of Sufganiyot (Donuts): Avital Pinnick (Flickr)

Photo of Sufganiyot (Donuts): Avital Pinnick (Flickr)

There’s nothing low-fat about Hanukkah – many of the traditional foods of the holiday are deep-fried. In honor of the oil-y miracle people celebrating Hannukah like to eat foods that are fried in oil like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) and different fried breads.  Want to have a go at making something?  There are lots of recipes for yummy treats here.

  • Spinning Tops 

    Photo: Marina Shemesh (Flickr)

    Photo: Marina Shemesh (Flickr)

It’s customary to play with dreidels (spinning tops) during the holiday, even wage gambling games in which players guess which side of the top will fall face up. Legend has it that during the Greek-Syrian dictatorship in Israel of yore, Jews got around the ban on reading the Torah by bringing spinning tops to study sessions so their oppressors would think they were just playing around. The Hebrew characters carved into the four sides of today’s dreidels are the first letters of “Ness Gadol Haya Po/Sham,” which roughly translates to “Great Miracle Happened Here/There” (depending on whether you’re in Israel or not).

Directions to play the Dreidel game

More fun and educational Hanukkah activities for children


Celebrating Hanukkah in Washington, DC

 

The lighting of this menorah – the world’s largest – is attended by thousands every year and seen via media by tens of millions across the nation and around the world. Along with the lighting, there will be live entertainment and menorah kits and dreidels to take home. Tickets are free but must be ordered in advance.

A very Happy Hanukkah to all!