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  • The Gaylord National: Summer Fun for the Whole Family

    D.C.-area resort gives you all the feel of a distant vacation without the hassle Nestled on the banks of the Potomac River within eyeshot of Washington, D.C. towers the Gaylord National Resort anchoring National Harbor. An easy 51 miles away Read More
  • Digital Edition Online

    Read the 2019 Family Favorites edition and find out which FXBG businesses are the friendliest for families! Read More
  • VBS (Vacation Bible School) 2019

    Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church Panda ManiaWhen: July 7 – 11; 5:30 – 8:30 pmWhere: 420 Enon Rd, F’burg, 22406https://hullsbaptist.org/vbs_registraton  The Presbyterian Church of Fredericksburg RoarWhen: July 7 – 11, 9 am – 12 pmWhere: 810 Princess Anne St, F’burg, 22401https://vbspro.events/p/events/7710ec  Andrew Chapel United Methodist Read More
  • Summer Fun 2019

    In between camps, trips to grandma's house, and lazy days at the pool, here are a bunch of fun ideas to keep you busy this summer! Outdoor Fun Summer Fun @ Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond: All programs are included with Read More
  • Ask the Expert: Robert B. Payne

    Robert B. Payne, Inc. has been installing and maintaining heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems in the Fredericksburg region since 1930. Those decades of experience make the company a wealth of knowledge when it comes to keeping your home comfortable Read More
  • Cooking Autism, Inc.

    For an autistic child, recreation can be a significant opportunity. Not only is it a chance to practice physical aptitude and social skills, but it can increase motivation and self-confidence. According to Autismspeaks.org, an autistic child mastering a specific activity Read More
  • It’s Family Favorites Time Again

    I can hardly believe it’s July. The season for pools, beaches, cookouts and vacations is in full swing. For area school kids, it’s the last hoorah since the ringing of liberty bells in July will give way to the sound Read More
  • Part 2 of 90 Days of Fun: The Homestead Impresses Teenagers

    Welcome to Part 2 of FredParent’s 90 Days of Fun series. As you saw in June, the intrepid Fredericksburg Parent staff is doing the hard work of summer fun research for our readers. Last month, editor Chris Jones experienced the Read More
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featured articles

IMAGE Prepare for Success
In the coming school year with Learning Enhancement Centers and The Marshall School Every student has a unique learning style, and helping those... Read More...
IMAGE Back To School Expo - 2019 // Wizarding Universe!
Magic awaits at this year'sBack To School Expo!   Fredericksburg Parent's Wizarding Universe  Enter to win a year's membership to the... Read More...
IMAGE VBS (Vacation Bible School) 2019
Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church Panda ManiaWhen: July 7 – 11; 5:30 – 8:30 pmWhere: 420 Enon Rd, F’burg,... Read More...
IMAGE Preparing Your Child for Their First Sleepover
Sleeping away from mom and dad for the first time is a milestone for both parents and children alike. While a sleepover with a friend, family member... Read More...
IMAGE Utilizing Your Tweens to Entertain Younger Kiddos on the Cheap
It’s the dog days of summer and my little one is moping around proclaiming, “I’m bored!” I get it. He’s out of his daily school and other... Read More...
IMAGE Part 2 of 90 Days of Fun: The Homestead Impresses Teenagers
Welcome to Part 2 of FredParent’s 90 Days of Fun series. As you saw in June, the intrepid Fredericksburg Parent staff is doing the hard work of... Read More...
IMAGE The Gaylord National: Summer Fun for the Whole Family
D.C.-area resort gives you all the feel of a distant vacation without the hassle Nestled on the banks of the Potomac River within eyeshot of... Read More...
IMAGE It’s Family Favorites Time Again
I can hardly believe it’s July. The season for pools, beaches, cookouts and vacations is in full swing. For area school kids, it’s the last... Read More...
IMAGE Ask the Expert: Robert B. Payne
Robert B. Payne, Inc. has been installing and maintaining heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems in the Fredericksburg region since 1930.... Read More...
IMAGE Summer Fun 2019
In between camps, trips to grandma's house, and lazy days at the pool, here are a bunch of fun ideas to keep you busy this summer! Outdoor Fun Summer... Read More...
Digital Edition Online
Click here if you are viewing from a tablet or smartphone.   Enlarge this document in a new window Read More...
IMAGE Cooking Autism, Inc.
For an autistic child, recreation can be a significant opportunity. Not only is it a chance to practice physical aptitude and social skills, but it... Read More...
IMAGE Young Widows' Meet Up
According to Statista there were roughly 15.1 million widows in the United States in 2018. In the same year, an estimated 844,000 children were... Read More...
IMAGE No-Fuss BBQ Classics
I once had a family member who was a good cook, but always tried too hard to make each side dish and course as elaborate as the entrée when hosting... Read More...
IMAGE Summer Lovin’ in Denim Skirts
I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything more American than denim, at least not in the style world. Our love of denim has transformed it from a... Read More...

Simple but Significant: Striking the Right Tone for Teen Birthdays

Most parents would agree that birthdays are an easy win when the kids are young—not without great effort and frenzied busyness, for sure, but more straightforward. Star Wars? Avengers? Minions? Trolls? Piñata? Done! Whatever the theme requested to anchor the party, it was probably doable, right? But once the tween/teen years hit, things turn a corner and you may find yourself pining for the good ole days of predictable, even, dare I say, cookie-cutter-type parties which wowed your kids when they were little.

As mine sprouted from kid to teen, I realized the parties were going to change to simple but significant, something requiring grave circumspection. In short, my teens wanted to be recognized as young adults, to shed all childish fanfare. I’d wager that yours will feel somewhat the same. Here are a few things I learned in feting my teenagers over the years, which may help you strike the right tone each and every birthday:

Insist on Your Teen Making a Gift List.

It may sound babyish, but it saves lots of heartache and disappointment. After a recent birthday, my teen lamented that he guessed that lists were still a good idea. His comment reflected what we perceived: we thought we were hitting it out of the park in the gift department, but no, we failed. If your teen refuses to make a list, go easy on yourselves and opt for store credit. Or cash. There, I said it. Cash will always be fine with your teen. And when grandparents are eager to shower their affection, help them by advising against buying clothing for your teen. It rarely works, if ever.

Don’t Tell Everything.

Hold back the details. Build the suspense. Our daughter wanted a “family dinner” for her fifteenth birthday and left all the planning and plotting to us. Without saying it, she was begging to be surprised, which put no small amount of pressure on us. In this case, we lucked out and struck the right tone, starting the evening off with giving her a dress she’d pointed out at her favorite store and then, all dressed to the gills, we headed to a fancy restaurant. She felt like such a young lady in her new dress showing up at a restaurant where reservations were in her name.

Pair Your Teen’s Interest with an Event.

What is the one thing your teen loves to do more than anything else? Maybe it’s an intense interest/hobby they have? Think creatively about how you can celebrate this interest. Does your teen love soccer? Take her to a professional game. Does your teen love to cook? Buy cooking classes. Perhaps your teen is an aspiring writer? Or computer programmer? With a little digging around, you’ll probably find workshops and lectures in your area.

Think the Unthinkable.

Keep in mind that your teen’s greatest wish for their birthday may be to get away—far away from you—to visit their BFF who moved away. Gulp. Don’t take it personally! If it’s at all possible, arrange well in advance for a surprise weekend trip, searching long and hard for plane or train tickets. But when it’s not, bring those missed into the room by pulling up a pre-arranged video chat party meet-up. Trust me, the “Happy Birthday” song will sound much better with a crowd of voices bellowing out of your computer to join whoever is in the room.

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5 Fun, Non-Traditional Birthday Parties Your Kids & Their Friends Will Love

When it comes to children and birthdays, celebrations these days seem to amount to more than just balloons and a slice of birthday cake. Whether your child is into arts and crafts, fitness and sports, action and adventure, or nature and the great outdoors, you’ll find a party theme to make your child’s special day a memorable one. Here are some ideas for planning a fun birthday party for your children and their family and friends.

Down on the Farm

braehead partiesDoes your child love animals, nature and being outside? Petting zoos and reptile shows are popular with little ones, or consider throwing a birthday party on a real farm. Braehead Farm has two different party barns available for rent overlooking the farm’s Family Playgrounds for the young—and the young-at-heart—to enjoy. The playground space includes a hay barn, corn pit, farm animals, sand piles, slides and other play equipment and a picnic area.

“Children can safely run and play in wide open space and visit with the animals to experience wholesome fun outdoors on a farm,” shares Roxanna Snead with Braehead Farm. “Families can also enjoy anything else the farm has to offer such as the market, dairy fresh ice cream, or some time picking in the fields."

Throughout the year, the farm offers various vegetables, flowers and fruits to pick, as well.

"It is so much fun and educational for children. It’s more than a party. It’s about having family time and family fun,” says Snead.

Just for Kicks

children doing karateWhy not expose kids to a different culture, while being physically active, at a birthday party at a martial arts dojo? J Tiger Martial Arts offers parties for preschoolers through teenagers. Children are constantly on the move during a party here, with party packages featuring a board breaking activity and tae kwon do demo lesson for up to 20 kids. It also includes everyone’s favorite birthday party staple, pizza. Martial arts, such as the Korean martial art of tae kwon do, improve flexibility, heighten concentration, reduce stress, boost self-esteem and teach self-defense. Similar birthday party options are available at Jett Martial Arts and Mountain Kim Martial Arts. Other birthday party ideas for the sporty kid include basketball at the gym or playground, soccer and swimming or fishing.

Let’s Get Crafty

Options abound for kids who prefer to pick up a paint brush instead of a ball. Kids can paint kindness rocks or knickknacks, or tie dye t-shirts or make funky socks at home or at an art studio. At AR Workshop or Board & Brush Creative Studio, DIY projects include woodwork signs and wall décor, floor mats, photo frames, canvas pillows, blankets and blanket ladders.

The Great Escape

Connect GamesSpeaking of adventure, entertain your young thrill seekers and problem solvers through a birthday party at the Connect Games Escape Room. Up to 16 guests ages 10 and older can compete to solve escape room puzzles or even hunt for birthday presents during a party here.

“Our escape room is always based off of a local Fredericksburg story,” says Kristen Sill with Connect Games. “Escape rooms are a great birthday option because it is such a unique and cool experience. All the kids learn something new, work together to solve puzzles, and interact with each other face-to-face without even thinking about their phone.”

Let The Good Times Roll

cavalier roller skatingMoms and dads may feel a tinge of nostalgia after throwing a birthday party at a roller rink for their kids. What once was old is new again with roller skating becoming more popular among younger kids, as well as those in middle and high school. Rollerworks Family Skating Center and Cavalier Family Skating Center in Stafford are seeing an increase in skating parties, with Cavalier Family Skating Center hosting as many as 20 birthday parties every Saturday. Kids can skate until they drop here.

“Roller skating is a great option for many reasons,” says Emily Metts Garner, owner and operator of Cavalier Family Skating Center. “It’s indoors, so weather isn’t a factor. It’s a fun atmosphere. It’s healthy because kids are moving around and active instead of playing video games. And when kids are done, they go home exhausted.”

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Let's Party! Library Tidbits

Parties can be every child's dream and every parent's nightmare. I was lucky that my mother enjoyed planning my son's birthday parties and hosted some pretty fabulous ones through the years. She loved doing it, he loved going and I loved not having to be creative. My girlfriend is understandably thrilled that her twins were born in the summer and are now old enough for yearly pool parties with the pizza delivered and no cleanup. If you too want your kids to have great parties, but need help finding fabulous ideas, the library has some wonderful books to inspire and direct!

princess-tea-fairy-partiesPrincess and fairy parties

Princesses and fairies are all the rage and there are books to help you create a magical day. Princess Tea: Parties and Treats for Little Girls by Janeen A. Sarlin with Noelle Shipley andMidnight Fairy Craft & Party Book by Tracy Marsh are full of decoration, craft and food ideas. Princesses can make paper fans while eating peanut butterfly and jelly sandwiches. Fairies can drink dream nectar, have a fairy race and choose prizes from a wish bag.

family-fun-partiesThemed parties

Family Fun Parties: 100 Party Plans for Birthdays, Holidays & Every Day by Deanna F. Cook is full of thematic party ideas. Whether your child is a fan of spies, pirates, clowns, or fishing there is something here for everyone. One theme is perfect for the upcoming summer--the Olympics. Make your own olympic torch and after your opening ceremonies, let your games begin! Winners at "tunnel gopher," the "Jello-O eating contest" and the "shoe pile scramble" will receive awards at your very own ceremony.

tween-partiesTween parties

A recent series is perfect for tweens, who seek more independence in their party planning.Throwing Parties by Jen Jones and Peanut Butter and Jelly Sushi and Other Party Recipes by Kristi Johnson offer wonderful DIY party advice.

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15 Exciting Birthday Traditions You Can Start Right Now

Create Magical Moments Your Children Won't Forget

by Kara Ferraro

A child's birthday is the most anticipated day of the year. If your child is like most, as soon as the party is over they are already talking about what they want happy-birthday-headerto do or get for their next birthday—364 days away! I know every parent wants their child's birthday to be spectacular, and each year, as your child gets older and their wants become greater, it's easy to get caught up in the hype of trying to out do the previous year's birthday.

Growing up with three siblings, one of which has his birthday only two days after mine, my parents tried their best to make our birthdays special. Each year on our birthday we would arrive home from school and there would be balloons, gifts and handmade cards around the "Birthday Chair." As soon as we finished dinner and gobbled up our cake, the birthday child was directed to sit in the birthday chair and would proceed to open up their gifts. It was a magical moment for which I waited all year.

On my tenth birthday, I received a blue three-speed bike. Aside from that, the only other gift I remember receiving was a small wooden trinket box my mother had polyurethaned with some random magazine pictures and a groovy picture of me with a "shag" haircut and the date 1976 on the inside. That was thirty-six years ago—and I still have my trinket box today.

Now that I am a mother of two children, I look at birthdays in a whole new light. I think back on my own childhood memories and realize that I now have the control to create family birthday traditions for my children. We are all so busy these days and finding simple, inexpensive ways to turn an ordinary day into an extraordinary birthday celebration may take a little time and creativity, but it certainly doesn't have to empty your wallet.

What children want more than anything on their birthday is to feel like it is their own special day. So find ways to help celebrate it with them. Here are 15 ways you can start your own birthday traditions to create some magical moments that your children will remember for years to come.

1. The night before your child's birthday, decorate the house or their room with balloons, confetti, flowers or a homemade banner.
2. Wake up your child by singing the Happy Birthday song.
3. Start the day of by making a special birthday breakfast.
4. Pull out some baby pictures or other birthday pictures from the years past and decorate the house with them.
5. Stick a special birthday snack or note in your child's lunch box.
6. Have lunch with your child at school and bring cupcakes. Okay, they may not like this when they get older, but during the elementary years you and that box of cupcakes will be more popular than Taylor Swift, i-Carly or BeyBlades!
7. Have your child help you make their own birthday cake. It's more fun for them to decorate the cake and get sugared up on eating the extra batter, frosting and sprinkles than it is actually eating the cake—regardless of their age.
8. Plan a family outing that you will do each year: a trip to the beach, a picnic in the park, or even a trip to your favorite pizza joint.
9. Start a scrap book each year on your child's birthday and decorate the cover with a picture that was taken on their birthday.
10. Take a picture each year of your child at the exact time they were born or as soon as they wake up.
11. Let your child pick out all of the meals that day. If they want spaghetti for breakfast or pancakes for dinner—go for it—it's their day!
12. Give gifts that reflect the same number as your child's birthday. For example, if your child is 5, how about 5 markers, 5 coloring books, 5 lollipops, 5 pairs of socks, etc.
13. Make something for your child each year. A special pillow, frame, jewelry box or toy chest. She may not appreciate it now, but in years to come those handmade mementos are going to be the gifts she cherishes.
14. Create a time capsule. Each year on your child's birthday put a photo of your child, a newspaper, perhaps a drawing your child made and a note of all that is going on in your life. File away for the next year or for years to come.
15. The Birthday Chair. Go on ahead, it's been a tradition in my family for years, and to this day I still get to sit in the birthday chair complete with balloons and handmade cards— and now, so do my lucky kids!

Regardless of your child's age or interests, birthdays are a special day for them. Even if their birthday falls on a school day or they have extracurricular activities, the key to making them feel special is that you remember the whole day is their birthday—so celebrate and let them enjoy it. By taking some time out to create your own family birthday traditions, you will be giving your child something to look forward to all throughout the year and perhaps for a lifetime.

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