Laser Cat Kids at The Yards


If you follow KidFriendly DC on Facebook, you may remember a few weeks back when I posted about a unique interactive installation coming to The Yards this weekend: Laser Cat. Some might think it sounds kooky, I think it sounds kind of awesome.

As it’s name suggests, Laser Cat is a cat — a giant cat head, anyway — with lasers for eyes that uses high-powered projectors to beam crowd-sourced personal art onto public buildings. Laser Cat curates the art submitted, but it’s the public that fires it into public space. The viewer controls the content by pressing a giant button to change the art, lasers, and music. So far Laser Cat has received over 15,000 personal art submissions.

The Yards is welcoming the 20-foot-tall inflatable cat head Friday and Saturday, February 20 & 21. There are events geared toward adults both evenings that will feature DJ’s, live music, and a beer garden, and tickets have already sold out. But on Saturday afternoon, Laser Cat Kids will be open from 12–2pm for families to experience a mellow side of the inflatable feline. Activities at this family-friendly version will include cat ear crafting station, face painting, glitter tattoos, a balloon artist, and the Great Laser Cat. It’s free, tickets are required, and you can register for them here. Tickets are limited and available on a first come, first serve basis, so go get ‘em now!

Laser Cat will be held at the Historic Mill Building at The Yards located at the corner of 3rd and Tingey Streets SE. The closest metro station is Navy Yard-Ballpark (Green Line), and there is metered parking as well as pay lots nearby.

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 17-20

Making a virtual meal at Nat Geo's "Food: Our Global Kitchen" exhibit

Making a virtual meal at Nat Geo’s “Food: Our Global Kitchen” exhibit

Tuesday - When the storm brings you snow, build a snowman, go sledding, have a snowball fight! But if it’s too cold to be outside, check out the list of indoor playgrounds to find places where the kids can burn some energy on a foul weather day off from school. Be sure to call ahead to confirm hours.

Wednesday - Venture up to Baltimore for Wonderful Wednesday at Port Discovery. The special day is dedicated to children from ages birth through 6 years with imaginative music and literacy programs designed to develop early learning skills. The program is from 9:30 am – 12:30pm, and museum hours are 9:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is $14.50 for ages 2 and up (free for under 2).

Thursday - Visit the National Geographic Museum to experience Food: Our Global Kitchen, an exhibit that takes you from farm to fork, before it closes February 22. Be sure to see Spinosaurus while you’re there — the entrance fee gets you access to both. Hours are 10am – 6pm. Admission is $11/adult, $9/senior, $7/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under. Look for a discount on adult tickets here.

Friday - Take advantage of Tots Playtime at Pinstripes in Georgetown. From 10am – 12pm most weekdays, ALL kids can bowl for just $5, and parents are free (limit 4 kids per adult)! Stay after for lunch — they have a kids menu and a pretty extensive main menu, too.

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The Weekend Round-Up: February 14-16


Presidents, Valentines, Chinese New Year, black history, and more…there is plenty to celebrate — and love — about this weekend. And since the weather is doing a 180 from last Sunday’s gloriousness, The Great Indoors list is a must-browse along with these choice recommendations. Happy weekend!

Party at George’s Place!
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Admission: $17/adult, $9/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under

Join “General Washington” for a sample of his favorite breakfast, hoecakes swimming in butter and honey, on Saturday & Sunday from 9am – 12pm. Afterwards, mingle with more costumed characters from Washington’s world and enjoy other activities, including some dancing with the 18th-century stars on the Bowling Green. On Monday, there will be syrup-making and dance demos along with ceremonial wreathlayings to honor Washington. Note that admission is free on Monday, 2/16, but I can tell you from experience that a lot of folks show up to take advantage of the complimentary entry and to celebrate George’s big day.

More Presidential Pursuits
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

In DC, this weekend’s holiday is kind of a big deal, and there are plenty of events to reflect that. View portraits of all 44 POTUS and enjoy related activities at the Portrait Gallery, drop by Abe’s vacation home, watch a parade in Old Town, join a celebration at Tudor House, wax presidential at Madame Tussauds. This post has more details about all of these activities and more.

Disney on Ice
Where: Verizon Center
When: Through the weekend
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Experience the magical world of Disney on ice. The beloved ice skating show returns with four favorite stories brought to life by world class skaters and imaginative sets. Tickets are still available for all remaining shows.

Brunch Box
Where: H Street Country Club
When: Saturday, 10am
Admission: $23/ages 9 and up, Free for 8 and under

Bring the whole family for some Valentine’s Day amusement at this pop-up brunch
from the host of the DC area’s Baby Loves Disco events. Along with a buffet of brunch fare, admission includes entertainment by DJ Louie Flaco and Premiere Dance DC, photo booth fun, balloon art, face painting, and the venue’s awesome indoor DC-themed mini golf and shuffleboard.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Wiley and the Hairy Man opens at Imagination Stage this weekend
* Catch a performance of Petit Rouge, A Cajun Red Riding Hood at Adventure Theatre
* Join the Circus! at The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo Park
* Winter Wonderland is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre
* The Great Zucchini with Charlie & Checkers is performing at Avalon Theatre Saturday morning
* Catch the NSO Family Concert Casey at the Bat at the Kennedy Center on Sunday
* Jack’s Tale: A Mythic Mountain Musical Adventure is on stage there, too
* SteveSongs is playing the Saturday morning show and Rocknoceros is doing a special President’s Day performance at Jammin’ Java

Chinese New Year Family Festival
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

American Art is opening its doors to the Chinatown and DC community in celebration of the 2015 Lunar New Year! Join them to ring in the year of the sheep with fun craft activities, traditional performances, artists, and demonstrations.

Free Parking
Where: National Parks
When: All weekend long
Admission: Free

There’s no entrance fee to national parks that usually charge admission this weekend, so if you don’t mind a little (or a big) chill in the air it’s a good time to hit the trail at Great Falls, take a ride on Skyline Drive to see the mountains covered in snow, tramp at Harper’s Ferry, or enjoy free recreation at another area park.

Black History at the Postal Museum
Where: National Postal Museum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Celebrate Black History Month at the Postal Museum, where they just debuted the exhibit “Freedom Just Around the Corner: Black America from Civil War to Civil Rights.” The museum’s first exhibition devoted entirely to African American history marks 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery throughout the United States chronicles the African American experience through the perspective of stamps and mail. More than 50 items from the museum’s collection, plus pieces on, are on display in 16 themes and historical periods of time. View letters carried by enslaved Americans, mail sent by and to leaders of the civil rights movement, original artwork for numerous stamps issued by the USPS among the displays.

Creating a Resilient World
Where: Koshland Science Museum
When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

How can individuals and communities better prepare and plan for, absorb, respond, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events? Find out at a free community event featuring special hands-on activities and resources to enhance our resilience. Learn about research projects that steward local natural resources such as the Anacostia Watershed and Chesapeake Bay. Play the life sciences card came “Cycles” to understand how ecosystems are naturally resilient. Test your knowledge of extreme events with interactive weather safety games from NOAA and the National Weather Service. All this and more will be part of the educational fun. Recommended for kids ages 8 and up.

Build & Grow
Where: Area Lowe’s Locations
When: Saturday, 10am
Admission: Free

The home improvement store hosts free bimonthly workshops for kids, and this session will bring some Valentine’s spirit as guests construct a Sweetheart Picture Holder. Bring the kids into any Lowe’s store to make the free wooden project (with parent help). Each participant also receives a free apron, goggles, a project themed patch, and a certification of merit upon completion of their project. Go here to register.

Love in Every Language
Where: Free|Sackler Gallery
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to enjoy a digital slideshow of images of love in Asian art from the Freer|Sackler collections. In the classroom, use prints that say “love” in more than a dozen Asian languages to create a Valentine’s Day card to take home, and learn how to fold heart-shaped origami.

Sunday Fun Day
Where: Imagination Stage
When: Sunday, 10:30am
Admission: $6

Join a fun, interactive musical experience for little ones! An Early Childhood Teaching Artist (playing a ukulele!) will explore a popular children’s book with your family through song and musical instruments. Continue the fun beyond the class with a list of all the songs to sing at home. Best for ages 1 month – 3 years.

College Hoops
Where: Local universities
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by game

Shoot for some fun at a college basketball game! Several local teams have home court advantage this weekend: The GW men are hosting VCU Saturday afternoon (tickets here), and the women play St. Bonaventure on Sunday (tickets here). The lady Hoyas host Xavier tonight and Butler on Sunday (tickets here). Homecoming at George Mason pits the men against Richmond and the women versus VCU on Saturday (tickets here). And the American University men play Lafayette on Saturday (tickets here).

Lego Party
Where: JCC of Greater Washington
When: Monday, 9:30am – 1pm
Admission: $8/member, $10/non-member, $30/family (free for adults)

School is out for President’s Day and the JCC of Greater Washington is hosting a Lego Party for families! The program will include a PJ Library Story time, a Lego Party featuring Duplos and Legos, a viewing of The Lego Movie, and a family gym and recreation station. Bring your own picnic lunch or purchase a pizza lunch for $6 (includes slice of pizza, fruit, bag of chips/pretzels, and a drink).

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Party at George’s Place! (And More Presidential Pursuits for the Long Weekend)


Is it any surprise that President’s Day is a big holiday ’round these parts? There are scores of events and activities happening this weekend to celebrate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. So many they warrant a whole post. Here’s where you can pay tribute to our 1st and 16th POTUS’ and have some fun with the kids.

Happy 283rd Birthday, George!
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Admission: $17/adult, $9/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under

Join “General Washington” for a sample of his favorite breakfast, hoecakes swimming in butter and honey, on Saturday & Sunday from 9am – 12pm. Afterwards, mingle with more costumed characters from Washington’s world and enjoy other activities, including some dancing with the 18th-century stars on the Bowling Green. On Monday, there will be syrup-making and dance demos along with ceremonial wreathlayings to honor Washington. Note that admission is free on Monday, 2/16, but I can tell you from experience that a lot of folks show up to take advantage of the complimentary entry and to celebrate George’s big day.

Presidential Portraits
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

View portraits of every American President — the National Portrait Gallery is one of the only places you can do that! In addition to the permanent collection, the museum will also display 3-D busts of President Barack Obama as well as rarely seen works of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Sunday, February 15, will be a day of special fun, as the gallery hosts a President-themed Family Day (see below) with activities for all ages.

Presidential Family Fun Day
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: February 15, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate President’s Day weekend during a patriotic family day at the National Portrait Gallery. Enjoy a variety of crafts and performances dedicated to our nation’s famous past-leaders: Meet Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in person and enjoy several art activities like Presidential Polaroids and picture frame making. There will also be entertainment by the local a capella group, “Snowday,” photo ops with the Washington Nationals Racing Presidents, and more.

Celebrate George!
Where: Tudor House
When: February 16, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free for members, $10/non-members

Spend time with the first president on his 283rd birthday with a visit to the home of Mrs. Washington’s descendants. Tudor Place, usually closed Mondays, opens one Monday a year to share tours and seldom exhibited highlights of its noted Washington Collection. See gifts and legacies from the Washingtons, including portraits, items from Mount Vernon, furniture from General Washington’s Revolutionary War headquarters tent, and one of the only personal letters remaining from George to Martha. After your tour, try your hand at writing “presidentially,” with a quill pen (and expert help!).

President Lincoln Exhibit Opening
Where: Newseum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $22.95/adults, $13.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under

The Newseum is debuting a new exhibit just in time for President’s Day. “President Lincoln Is Dead: The New York Herald Reports the Assassination,” marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The exhibit features an unparalleled collection of all seven editions issued by the Herald on April 15, 1865, chronicling the shooting of the president at Ford’s Theatre, his death, the hunt for his assassin, and the swearing-in of the new president.Displayed together for the first time since 1865, the collection begins with the 2am edition, which contained the first Associated Press report that Lincoln had been shot. It also includes a recently discovered 8:45am “extra” that was one of the first newspapers to report the president’s death. Look for a ticket discount here.

George Washington Birthday Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria, Kind & Royal Streets
When: February 16, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Alexandria hosts the largest parade in the country celebrating George Washington’s birthday with marching bands, historic re-enactment troops and more. Bundle up to watch the procession will travel through Old Town. See the website for more info and route details.

Stop by Abe’s Old Digs
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $15/adult, $6/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under

There’s no special event, but this seems like a good way to honor our 16th POTUS for President’s Day. Located on the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) campus in northwest DC, the cottage was Abraham Lincoln’s country home and workplace, where he spent one quarter of his presidency. Admission includes the Cottage tour, an innovative small group tour in which a professional guide uses “historical voices” and images through multimedia technology to bring the stories of Abraham Lincoln and his family to life. Hours are Monday – Saturday 9:30am – 4:30pm, and Sunday 10:30am – 4:30pm.

Wax Presidential
Where: Madame Tussaud’s
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: From $12.10/adult, $9.60/child

Get up close and personal with all 44 POTUS at Madame Tussauds in downtown DC. The Presidents Gallery, exclusive to that location, is comprised of 14 themed rooms that include interactive exhibits along with the sculptures. If you plan to go, be sure to book online for ticket discounts.

Special Presidents’ Day Tour
Where: National Museum of Health and Medicine
When: February 16, 1pm
Admission: Free

“The Nation’s Medical Museum–Meeting Challenges through Innovation”: is a free, docent-led introductory tour highlighting the remarkable changes in American medicine over the past 150 years, with a special focus on military medicine and presidential care. Reservations recommended, but not required.

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A DC “Secret” Uncovered: The Franciscan Monastery in Brookland


It’s not often that I read lists revealing “hidden treasures” in DC and actually learn something I didn’t previously know. And I’m not saying that in a yay-me-I-know-everything kind of way. I mean, think about what I do, this blog. I make it my business, literally, to keep up with these things. Plus, I have lived in DC for a Really. Long. Time. Much longer than the average transient-inclined Washingtonian, so I’ve been around. On top of that, I simply enjoy discovering new places and adventures around the area. For me, it’s fun and keeps life interesting.


So back in October, when Thrillist published a round-up of 13 DC Secrets You Had No Idea Existed provided by the Prince of Petworth, I was psyched (and super impressed). There actually were several spots listed that I wasn’t aware of until I read the piece. I quickly checked off five of the thirteen as “been there, done that” and recognized a couple of others even though I hadn’t yet experienced them. But the remaining six had me intrigued — and, admittedly, feeling like I might be losing my edge. A reality check like that is good thing, though, since it’s often just the motivation needed to get on it. Not to mention, the prospect of going to some new, cool places is always exciting.


Hence, I am making it my business, both personally and professionally, to uncover those “secrets” that evaded me for so long and have vowed to visit the rest of the 13. This mission has actually been in progress since reading that Thrillist article, but I’m only now starting to post about my findings. And it’s lucky #13 on the list, The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, that is kicking off the series.


The “Oasis of Peace” in Brookland consists of the Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the centerpiece of the Monastery, beautifully manicured grounds immediately surrounding it, and a lovely garden area adjacent to that. The Rosary Portico, long concrete open air passageways, run along the perimeter of the inner grounds, the inside walls adorned with Christian symbols and ceramic plaques bearing the Angelic Greeting in nearly 200 ancient and modern languages. Between the portico and the Church, there are a few statues as well as a greenhouse and a little fish pond, all very pleasant to stroll among.



And here I feel compelled to note that I’m in no way trying to push any kind of religious agenda. In fact, I’m Jewish, and a mildly practicing one, at that. But I do appreciate a beautiful, interesting, peaceful place, and the Franciscan Monastery is that and then some.



We first visited in the fall and enjoyed touring the grounds around the Church, but the gates to the garden were locked for some reason, and we weren’t sure about going inside. So, on the recent unseasonably awesome 60-degree day, I took Sasha and a friend with me to explore some more.




On the south side of the portico are gates that lead to the garden. Stairs and a ramp lead down to a gorgeous area where there is a grotto commemorating the agony of Christ, a replica of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, and other religious shrines, all within a lovely plant and tree-filled area. I did have to remind Sasha and Celina that it was a very special place for many people and that the “caves” were not places for them to chase each other. It’s easy to see how the sights are exciting to them, and they loved the garden, too. If it’s that pretty in the winter, I can only imagine how gorgeous it is in the spring when the flowers (lots of roses, apparently) are in bloom.


Along with wandering the grounds outside, we popped into the Church, too. Tours are available, but we just walked around on our own, taking in the spectacular architecture and design of the cathedral.




Photos don’t begin to do this place justice. You’ll just have to go experience it for yourself.

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America is located at 1400 Quincy Street NE in the Brookland neighborhood of DC. Monastery hours are 9am – 5pm Monday through Friday, 9am – 6pm on Saturday, and 8am – 5pm on Sunday. Garden hours are 9am – 4:45pm daily. Guided Garden Tours take place every Saturday during the summer at 11am and 12pm. Admission is free.


*If you’re looking for a bite to eat before or after visiting, I highly recommend Brookland’s Finest located at 12th & Jackson Streets NE. Delicious food, great vibe, and very kid-friendly.

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