It Starts with the Smithsonian: Free Attractions Mean the Capitol is a Family Winner

If you are planning a city break to somewhere like Washington DC it could soon get a bit pricey if you are not careful, which is why the free attractions offered by the Smithsonian should be on your radar and are a good starting point for building an itinerary.

Here is a look at some of the many free attractions that will help stretch your budget and keep everyone entertained, including why the Smithsonian option is such a no-brainer, exhibits to inspire and educate your kids, plus a good outdoor venue to visit.

It has to start with the Smithsonian

If you check into somewhere like the Marriott Courtyard in Washington you will be ideally placed to get around the city see all the major attractions on offer, including all the fascinating museums that come under the Smithsonian banner.

There is bound to be a museum that will keep them excited and interested for hours and whether you have a little one who is mad about dinosaurs or wants to explore space when they are grown up, there is a venue that caters perfectly to their needs and interests.

Even if the awesome exhibits and displays are a good enough reason to visit on their own the added bonus is that all the Smithsonian attractions in Washington offer free entry.


The history of aviation and space travel under one roof

The National Air and Space Museum is a big family favorite and this is a place that has inspired future generations of astronauts and pilots from around the globe.

The main aim of the museum is to showcase the impressive technological achievements over the last century or so and let you actually see some of the iconic and groundbreaking machines in the flesh.

Actually witnessing the Apollo 11 spacecraft that returned to Earth might have your kid dreaming of becoming an astronaut in the future, and the planetarium is well worth a visit for stargazers.


A roaring good time studying natural history

Thanks to movies like Jurassic Park and a Night at the Museum, dinosaurs and other creatures from the past and present are always a topic that causes excitement amongst children of all ages.

You can fulfill that intrigue with a visit the Natural History Museum and discover the lost world of the last American dinosaurs that roamed the planet before any of us were around.

If you want to bring their animal education right up to date during your time in Washington you could also arrange to visit another Smithsonian venue, The National Zoo set in Rock Creek Park, which is a day out in itself with all the things going on there on a daily basis.

The Nature Center in Rock Creek is well worth a visit if you are heading to the zoo with educational games and activities going on and a nature trail to follow.

There are loads of free family attractions in Washington so you won’t be regularly emptying your wallet while the kids are enjoying themselves.


Dog Bowls for Special Pups

Hand painted ceramic dog bowls will make your pup into “royalty” as he dines in style! Choose one that is fun to eat out of as well as letting it create an attractive conversation piece in your kitchen and go along with whatever your décor may be.

The bowls are functional and durable because they are food and water safe, use lead free glazes and lead free eco-solvent inks, can be used in the microwave, and can be placed in the dishwasher for easy and sanitary cleaning. Being stable, your dog can chow down without spilling its food and drink or nose the bowls around or tip them over.

The stoneware bowls are made of the highest quality ceramic and is oven-fired to resist chipping and fading. They are also fully compliant with FDA Regulations and Standards.

There are many bowls that are specific to the different breeds so that you can “honor” your pet by displaying his or her breed as well as possibly add the pet’s name. There are different sizes to accommodate the individual dog, and there are also ways to raise up the bowls to make them easier for larger dogs to eat and drink and to accommodate elderly dogs.

There are many ways to handsomely personalize a dog bowl. Since the featured bowls in this article are hand painted, you can order the shape, size, color, and what is painted onto the bowl including an uploaded image from your computer, custom pictures, graphics, and sayings such as “Woof” or “Gulp” or the clever “One Spoiled Dog Lives Here.”

The price of dog bowls varies from very inexpensive to quite expensive if it was hand crafted, hand painted, and signed on the bottom by a well-known artist either here in the United States or in a foreign country. Imagine dog bowls selling for over $100!

Faux Paw Productions in Laguna Beach, California, has a wide selection of unusual and durable dog bowls from which to choose. Since their hours vary, it is recommended that you contact them to make an appointment if you would like to visit in person. Otherwise you can happily browse through their inventory online.

Our Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Trip

We recently traveled to Bagac, Bataan and stayed overnight at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

We were able to book a room good for 2 adults and 2 kids for just a net price 5,500.00 pesos. It was their pre-holiday sale!

I’m sharing some photos from the very gorgeous place.

We joined the walking tour that Las Casas offers. The tour guide told stories about most of the houses and their historical backgrounds. The entire tour took 1 and a half hours.

The whole trip was short but enough for us to enjoy this wonderful place and gave us more reasons to admire Filipino culture and heritage.

Driver, Teacher, Healer, Helper: Top Android Apps for Moms Who Wear Many Hats

A lot of our current apps allow us to do anything you could think of, right from the comfort of our phone or tablets. For moms out there, you know that there is so much to keep track of, for not just your life but that of your children as well. There is a lot you have to balance to keep it all running smoothly. There are a select group of apps that will allow you to wear your many hats and do your motherly job the best to your ability.

Comprehensive App Choices 

Your first all together app of choice is aptly titled the Mama Bear Android app. In this application you’re able to see where your children are, their activity on social media and what they are doing. For those of you with teens, this can be helpful to know if they’re speeding or what else they’re up to.

Anything that they post online can be monitored or restricted as well. It is important to use this to your best ability to respect their privacy and yours so that you can peace of mind without going overboard. The map features can come in handy to know where they’ve checked into a location and most importantly to monitor and create good driving practices.

Pair this app with a weather app for android. Your children have three buttons of the previous app called Check In, Emergency, and Come Get Me. If the weather is acting up or you know there’s going to be a rough storm, using these apps in tandem can be helpful in any kind of weather changing situation.

Helpful Assistance  

Not everything should be left up to your mental facilities, one task moms could do with some help is in the realm of cooking. With the Dinner Spinner application, those old recipe books will be put into use through the app. In this app, all major recipes from popular cooking websites are applied right to your device.

There are a number of search features that allow you to find what type of dish you’d like to make and the subsequent recipe with all kinds of ingredients inside it.  You’ll never know what not to cook when you’ve got this app rolling along.

Another great thing you’ll want to get is something called ContinousCare. This is a great app for either young children or all ages in between. The idea is to store appointments and other medical records with your children and contact healthcare professionals. It’s a great new modern way to take care of your children’s medical needs.

Self-Sufficient Kids Help  

Not everything has to be done by you. Our final app helps put kids in charge at a young age so they can be efficient when they grow up by themselves. Happy Kids Timer helps your kids establish routines and follow them. Giving them individual responsibility and treating them like separate freethinking entities allows you to not work that hard.

This guest post has been provided by Kerry Morton. Kerry is a mom of two who is always on the go. In her quiet moments she enjoys writing articles that can help other Moms whether discussing parenting skills, vacations or technology.

Coupons for Good: 3 Tips for Giving Unique Gifts That Give Back

Gift cards are the most popular gifts in the United States, followed by clothing and electronics. These items are practical, but they say little about the gift recipients and their relationships to the people offering presents. For gifts your loved ones will remember, think outside the box and give a present that impacts more than the recipient. Here are three amazing gift ideas that give back.

A Night Out With Groupon


Image via Flickr by kevin dooley

Once kids come along and you settle into a life of domesticity, nights out can be few and far between. So why not treat the special people in your life to a night out from Groupon? This site has plenty of great options, including discounted movie tickets, hotel stays, restaurants, and shows. Combine several vouchers to give your loved ones a truly special night. You could also offer to watch their children so they can really enjoy themselves.

For a great deal, browse through the Groupon coupons on GoodShop. This site donates 5.5 percent of your purchase price to a charity of your choice whenever you shop, so it’s a great way to give back to causes that matter to you.

Groupon also gives back to the community through its Groupon Grassroots initiative, which promotes charitable programs that need a helping hand. All amounts received through Grassroots promotions reach the designated charities and programs.

A Personalized Mug From Shutterfly

Being a parent can be exhausting; most of us agree we’d never make it through the day without coffee. So why not make your loved ones’ coffee break a little more special with a personalized mug from Shutterfly? Customize the mug with a photo of your recipient’s kids, you both together, or something else that’s meaningful.

When you shop with Shutterfly you support the Shutterfly Foundation, an employee-run nonprofit that provides grants and organizational assistance to initiatives, which help make the world a better place.

Like Groupon, Shutterfly is also a proud partner of GoodShop. Like the Shutterfly GoodShop page on Facebook to never miss a deal.

Spa and Skin Care Products From Ten Thousand Villages

Everyone deserves pampering, so why not treat someone you love to spa and skin care products from Ten Thousand Villages? These aren’t mass-produced, chemical-laden beauty products found in department stores. Each item on the site is personally made by artisans in the developing world who receive a fair price for their handiwork. Choose from pomegranate soap from India, a sari scrubber from Bangladesh, shea lip butter from Ghana, and heaps more. Or, why not buy several items and put together a unique beautiful body hamper? Each goodie is marked with the country of origin and comes with information about its creator.

Ten Thousand Villages also sells other fair trade goodies, including jewelry, handbags, homewares, artwork, and more. By selling all these products, Ten Thousand Villages improves the lives of approximately 20,000 artisans in 30 developing nations.

Don’t settle for another gift card or pair of socks and jocks this year. Your loved ones will rave about these great gift ideas from caring companies.