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You can get the best of Out by Ten (and much, much more!) on Out by Ten's Facebook page "Family Friendly Prince George's."

I'm now a full-time work-outside-the-home mom and while we're still going on TONS of family adventures, making time for the adventures (verses making time for writing about them!) has taken priority in my life right now.

But have no fear! Our new Facebook page is a great resource for all the wonderful family-friendly stuff happening in Prince George's County and the greater Metro DC area. Be sure to check out the Out by Ten archives on the right for lots of great activities!

Head over and give me a like and I'll see you on your wall soon!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mt. Rainier Nature/Recreation Center

I have to admit, with a new baby in the house and all the recent snow, this Smiling Mama hasn't been getting "out by ten" very often! But last weekend we were all ready to get out to explore something new. I thought the Mt. Rainier Nature/Recreation Center would be a good place to check out: it's close to home and looked like it would be pretty low key. Both turned out to be true.

The Mt. Rainier Nature/Recreation Center is a very small center located near historic Mt. Rainier. It is perfect for pre-schoolers or young elementary-aged children. I'd be willing to put money down on the bet that on any given day your family will be the only visitors. That ended up being a nice bonus for us since we had 6 week old Nathaniel with us--he was fast asleep in his car seat so we could set him down while we explored and simply move him from room to room with us: there are only three rooms so he wasn't moved often!

Lucas enjoyed looking at snakes, salamanders, turtles (the alligator turtle was a big hit!) and frogs. We all had fun watching the rabbit eat and the adults got a big kick out of the poem and lesson on scat (aka poop!). There is a great book corner with lots of books for your kids to look at and for you to read to them. There are also lessons about Native Americans, recycling and insects.

And, to fulfill the "recreation" designation: there's an air hockey table and Foosball table. Just ask the front desk for the balls/pucks and, with an adult present, they'll hand them over. We enjoyed several spirited games!

If you are looking for an interesting, but low-key, free activity for about an hour (possibly 2 hours depending on your child's interest in spending time with the books or doing each activity), then the Mt. Rainier Nature/Recreation Center is a great place to visit.

Later this spring, they'll be offering a pre-school nature club, puppet shows and campfires: come back to Out by Ten on March 1 for the dates and details. We also spied two fun-looking playgrounds nearby. After the snow melts (and mud dries up!) they would be fun to visit in conjunction with the Nature Center.

Additional Details:

Mt. Rainier Nature/Recreation Center
4701 31st Place
Mt. Rainier, MD 20712

Phone: 301-927-2163

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9am-5pm

Original post by Out by Ten. Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Surviving Snowpocalypse 2010: Homemade Gummi Candy

Can you believe school is closed in Prince George's County again Tuesday? I just did a little counting and from February 3 through February 16 school has been open only 1.5 out of 14 days! No wonder kids and parents alike are freaking out about another day at home!

I'd like to share another easy indoor activity to help you and your family survive Snowpocalypse 2010: make homemade gummmi candies!

Lucas loves gummi fruit snacks. Seriously, LOVES them. So, when I came across the recipe to make homemade gummi candy over at Skip to My Lou, I knew we had a winner. This is a super-simple and fun activity to do with your kids!

Click here for the very easy and detailed instructions.

Original post by Out by Ten. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Surviving Snowpocalypse 2010: Tech Savvy Mama

In my personal opinion, Tech Savvy Mama is the best website out there that looks at tech gear and websites from the parent perspective. Leticia is not only awesome in real life (where I'm privileged to know her) but is fun and easy to read on-line. Spend a few minutes on Tech Savvy Mama today and you'll come away with tons of great ideas and resources for your kids.

Here are a few of the sites that I discovered through Tech Savvy Mama--you can find even more by spending a few minutes searching at Tech Savvy Mama or clicking on her post labels. Enjoy!

Meet Me At the Corner -- This site free virtual field trips for kids. Go someplace warm and sunny today!

Seussville -- Am I a horrible mom if I admit that I really dislike reading Dr. Seuss books to Lucas at bedtime? Well, maybe. But, I figure I can redeem myself my taking him over to Seussville, a website I discovered through Tech Savvy Mama!

PBS Kids and PBS Parents -- Leticia is also a community manager for PBS Teachers and regularly sings the praises of PBS Kids and PBS Parents. These sites should definitely be among your "favorites" and you can trust that the screen time your kids spend at PBS Kids will be fun and educational!

Original post by Out by Ten. Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Surviving Snowpocalypse 2010: Celebrate the Winter Olympics

Did you know that Vancouver is suffering from a severe lack of snow? It's true! How about if we ship ours there? (That's not such a far-fetched idea--they really are flying and trucking snow in for the Winter Games which begin tonight!)

What better way to put a stop to cabin fever during Snowpocalypse 2010 than celebrating the 2010 Winter Olympics? Here are some fun ideas!

Make Gold Medal Cookies and an Olympic Torch (don't have gold foil on hand? Me either. Just shoot a little lower and make silver medals with aluminum foil!)

Check out these Olympic Craft Ideas

Meet the Vancouver 2010 mascots Miga, Quatchi and Sumi and check out games, activities, e-cards, crafts and more just for kids at this official Olympic site.

Now, if only digging our your car or dressing and undressing your kids in their cold weather gear were Olympic husband and I would have won multiple golds by now!

Original post by Out by Ten. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Surviving Snowpocalypse 2010: Teach Mama

Winter Wonderland or Kill Storm 2010? Has Snowpocalypse 2010 been a dream come true or a nightmare for your and your family? Either way, I'm sure you've already used up every creative idea you've ever had for keeping the kiddos entertained, both indoors and out, over the past six days of snow. With most schools closed in the region through at least Monday (oh, yeah, more snow is forecasted for Monday--eek!), we are all looking for new ideas. Out by Ten to the rescue! Over the next few days I'll be posting some great on-line resources for you and your family. Up first is Teach Mama.

Man do I love Amy over at Teach Mama. She's my inspiration for attempting new fun and educational activities with Lucas. I'll admit that I only get around to doing about one percent of the things Amy blogs about at Teach Mama, but even that small bit makes me feel like a rock star mama!

Of course she's one step and a few days ahead of me in helping you stave off cabin fever. That's right, she's already posted a round up of some classic Teach Mama indoor activities--most of which can be organized very easily and use things you have laying around the house. If you just do one or two of these, I guarantee you'll feel like a rock star mama, too!

Original post by Out by Ten. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Birthday Party at the Watkins Nature Center

Hosting a fun kid's birthday party during the winter can be challenging, especially when you live in a smallish house. Lucas's birthday is just a few days before Christmas and with the birth of Nathaniel we have an early January birthday as well so I have years of doing some creative-thinking for birthday parties ahead of me!

Back in October, I wrote about several indoor birthday party venues in Prince George's County. Based on that research I decided to host Lucas's fourth birthday party at the Watkins Nature Center at Watkins Park. It was a fantastic success and the venue exceeded my high expectations.

Here are the details.

The birthday party rental fee is $100 for residents of Prince George's or Montgomery counties. You get exclusive use of the party room which includes tables, chairs, a sink and refrigerator for a total of 3 hours (that timeline must include set-up and clean-up). You and your guests can also enjoy non-exclusive use of the nature center itself (though on our party day no other visitors came and we did have it all to ourselves!). One of the best parts, though, is that one of the staff naturists leads a 30 minute "Wild Things Animal Show" in the classroom for you and your guests. They also provide Watkins Nature Center coloring books for each of your guests (which we used as the basis of our favor). You also get 15% off in their gift shop on the day you make your payment or your party day if you want to purchase additional favors for your guests (or gifts for the birthday child!). You can have up to 25 children and up to 50 people total--by far the largest number allowed at any of the locations I researched. All the details can be found here (scroll down to the bottom).

This is how we set-up and decorate the room. You can read more of the
specifics about the theme and decor I chose for Lucas's party here.

The naturist did a great job with our Wild Animal Show--she really kept
the children's attention and 30 minutes was just long enough.

Lucas loved touching the snake--he still talks about the "proper" way to pet a snake!

If you are looking for a great, indoor birthday party location, we'd definitely recommend the Watkins Nature Center! And, even if you're not looking for a party venue, don't forget that the Nature Center has awesome weekday and weekend educational programming for kids all year long!

Watkins Park Nature Center
301 Watkins Park Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774

Disclaimer: We hosted and paid for this party with our own funds...the Nature Center had no idea I might blog about the event (and for all I know may never even discover this post!). I am just hoping this is helpful to other parents looking for indoor party venues or just a fun, educational activity for their kids.

Original post by Out by Ten. Thanks for reading!