5 must go family-friendly spots in DC

My favorite memories as a child are going on awesome adventures with my mom. I know it sounds cliché, but Washington DC is still one of my favorite cities to explore because there is literally so much to do with your little ones. Besides the plethora of international food festivals and summer events going on, there are a ton of awesome places to go on family outings, many of which have free entry. Don’t worry if you have kids of different ages, these locations have things to see and explore for all ages! These are my 5 must see family-friendly spots to visit in the DC metro area.

  1. Smithsonian ‘National Zoo’

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Lions, hogs, and pandas? I’m sure if you’re a parent of a toddler, yo'u’ve “roared” a time or two with your kids. You can see lions and pandas up close at the National Zoo in safe exhibit viewing areas. The zoo is one of my favorite places for the whole family because the animals are interpreted differently by the whole family. Aria was soaking up all the information in the park “fact” signs for the first time which was really exciting! She used to only mock the animals and run around in the mist machines for fun. Make sure to bring $5 cash for the paper map so you can navigate your way around easily! Admission in the zoo is FREE. Take advantage of the open parking close to the entrances! More info.

3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

 

2. The Museum of Natural History: Wegman’s Wonderplace

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The Museum of Natural History is amazing! Besides the very well executed exhibits on the upper floors, this museum is home to two really fun activity centers. Wegman’s Wonderplace is an interactive play center for infants to kids 5 years old. Wonder place is great for kids who love play kitchens, puzzles, and a little bit of company to play with. The Q?irius center is a science lab for tweens and teens 11-15. They can view specimens under a microscope, solve challenging brain puzzles, and play interactive games on devices in the lab! Admission for this park is FREE. More info.

10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW  Washington, D.C. 20560

 

3. Dave & Buster’s Arcade

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Dave & Busters is a fan favorite in our house. The reason? My husband is pumped to play arcade games with me and the kids, especially Aria who has taken a liking to the bright lights and excitement of collecting tickets for a prize. Eat first! Their dining area is surprisingly kid-friendly and the food is really on point. You can “supercharge” your meal to add bonus tokens to your D & B card to play more games with. The best part of D & B is their prize room so the kids can take home a souvenir from their visit with us! Admission for the arcade is FREE. Food and games are NOT included. More info.

8661 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910

 

4. United States Botanical Gardens

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The Botanical Garden is definitely in the running for the prettiest DC park, right behind the National Arboretum. The garden is full of plants from all biospheres and walking through it feels like a trip walking through all the seasons that are happening in one place. Ages 9+ can ask for a Junior Botanist Kit to spark their interest in gardening and plant life. The Children’s Garden is a place where small kids can plant real blooms and get hands on experience gardening from the pros. Admission for this park is FREE. More info.

United States Botanic Garden Conservatory
100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20001

 

5. National Museum of the American Indian

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The National Museum of the Native American is a little-known of gem in DC. American Indian culture is hardly touched on in American History so a trip through this place is fascinating to get a different perspective on American’s settlements and sections of tribes living throughout the country up until today. The coolest thing hidden in there is the imagiNATIONS Activity Center that has experiments and interactive activities you can play to learn about Native American culture including state-of-the-art simulation videos. Admission for this park is FREE. More info.

National Museum of the American Indian
National Mall
Fourth Street & Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20560


These adventures are where childhood memories are made! There are so many ways to explore the city in a new way now that a lot of us have children! There are a ton of free admission parks that you could easily pack lunches for if you wanted to skip the pricey cafeteria-style food & vending trucks for lunch. Be sure to take a lot of pictures, the last time we were with Aria at the National Zoo was when she was hardly older than Sire who’s now seven months. Time flies!

xo.

 
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Family

Those who play together, stay together. Get active with the kids outside of the house to make long-lasting family memories.

Podcast: Justice Makes A Difference
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Thank you so much for tuning into our brand new podcast for #diversebooks4diversekids.

This week we have a special podcast for our Instagram Giveaway winner, Dr. Artika Tyner. Her incredible book, Justice Makes A Difference, is about a brave little girl named Justice who is inspired to change her community by advocating for equality. Justice was inspired by inspiring leaders she read about in books given to her by her grandmother. Justice feels the pressure of bearing a name that has such an important meaning and seeking ways to find how she can make a difference as a little girl. She bravely chooses to become her own superhero in a fight for justice so she can uplift her community through social change.

Follow children's book author Dr. Artika Tyner on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

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Bravery

It takes a lot of courage to be a voice for your community. You can do your part by volunteering to help those less fortunate than you!

10 Common Reasons A Marriage Can Fail

Marriage is HARD AF. In my twenty-six years of life, I have done a lot of hard things between publishing books, naturally delivered two babies, and started a business, but nothing could compare to the ultimate life test which is marriage. Many of us seem to be in a rush to lock down our life partners to have the security of a committed partner, but if you think planning a wedding is hard, planning for a lifetime is a million times more difficult. 50% of all first-time marriages end in divorce but they all center around easy to identify problems. These are 10 common ways you could possibly kill your marriage.

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10. Don’t stop dating!

Ah, remember the days when you could run out together and get a bite to eat or go on a really dope adventure outside? Those are the moments that help keep you bonded together in friendship. Date nights are an absolute must because it’s your time to laugh and have fun together. Even if it takes some planning in advance between coordinating schedules or finding a sitter, find the time to do it once a week or at least twice a month, you’ll thank me later.

9. If you can’t compromise.

If you ask my husband, he’ll say “my wife is always right”. Cheeky, but true. Unfortunately, I am the harder one of us two to settle on a compromise. Compromise is important so both partners feel heard and no one constantly feels that their opinions or needs aren’t important. Compromising does NOT mean one person is always right! It just means you have to meet your spouse the middle.

8. You lie to your partner.

Lying is one sure way to set your marriage on fire. It doesn’t matter if the lie is big or small! Lies will come back to haunt you and you will make the problem worse if you lie to cover a lie. My truest and simplest advice on commutation is say what you mean, and mean what you say. Your partner always needs to have 100% confidence in you or your relationship will suffer from jealousy, resentment from your partner, and overall hostility between you both on a day-to-day basis.

7. Your life goals are unclear.

What am I working towards in life? What are we working towards in life? It is important to lay out your personal and joint goals to your partner so that you can hold yourself [and them] accountable for not doing their part. Set short and long term goals together so you can crush your goals instead of being upset that you are sitting on that dream, scrolling past your dream house you can't afford yet, or whatever else you aspire to do in life. These goals can change over time so when and if they do, be open about what your new aspirations are so both of you are on the same page.

6. You’re unwilling to change.

Life is full with unexpected challenges. It is impossible to stay the same person you were 10 years ago (I know) because the rest of the world is growing and changing everyday! Bad habits like having a hot temper or jealous streak can be hard to break but those habits are toxic and must be broken.

5. Emotional needs aren't met.

Communication is so important to communicate how we’re thinking or feeling. For a lot of men, connecting in this way is extremely hard and women get frustrated with their “robotic” and over-analytical personalities. Many lost marriages fall victim to lack of emotional fulfillment.

4. Finances fall on one.

Let’s face it, it is too damn expensive to afford many places in US, especially for a mid- sized family of four or more. It is extremely difficult to take on the burden of supporting a family alone. Having two incomes is helpful to avoid financial arguments and the strain feeling you’ll endure if one person is financing everything.

3. Poor attitude.

Bad attitudes are contagious and it’ll bring everyone around you down. Part of having a happier relationship is checking the attitude and ego at the door after a long day or a frustrating situation so your mood doesn’t affect your partner’s or family’s.

2. Meddling family members.

If it weren’t for those meddling family members! Some families over-protective anxieties and controlling behavior can infiltrate your marriage, especially if you seek advice from relatives who may not always be as forgiving of your partner as you are. Keep negative opinions of your partner and relationship out of your life!

  1. Infidelity.

    Marriage is a sacred bond between two people. Once you introduce anyone else in the mix, it’s the final blow and the beginning of the end. Marriages crumble to pieces without trust and intimacy with another is the ultimate betrayal.

At at the end of the day, my marriage is definitely not perfect. No marriage is perfect. My husband and I call our relationship #dailygrind because our relationship is a daily choice to prioritize each other and being excited about improving ourselves.

After almost ten years, Dez and I have been through heaps and bounds of obstacles which is a testimonial about what you can overcome together!

.xo

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Marriage is not for the weak.

A long-lasting marriage is no easy fete. You sign up for a daily commitment to be positively committed to your “teammate”.

A. Cole Comments
Getting 'Unstuck' From The Rut
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Here I am pulling myself out of the huge, gigantic, rut I’ve been sitting in for the past few months.

I used to have so much energy to actively snap pictures with thoughtful posts and the ability to write and edit children books for hours on end. Now, I find myself unable to write and unable to tune out all the noise and distractions in life to write anything at all.

I am a writer who has stopped writing altogether. Nothing could be more damaging to my professional skills and my sanity to stop doing what I love. Navigating life lately has been like sitting in a lifeboat on an ocean and each challenge has been a bigger wave that could take me under. As soon as I recovered from one wave, another was on the horizon.

Finally, the rocky waters cleared and it felt like I could breathe and recover when we finally moved out of my in-laws’ home. The pressure of trying to find a house, find a nanny, find a new school for Aria, establish Sire’s sleep schedule, make time for my new husband, manage the housework, keep a fridge full of food, spending time with the dogs, all while working full-time with NO vacation in sight was absolutely crippling. Even my outlet, writing, began to feel like a chore and God knows I already had enough of those.

I have had enough of this dark place I had been dwelling in and I am determined to start back writing and creating by remembering what had driven me to become a professional writer in the first place, my family. In 2016, I published my very first book ever and dedicated the story to my daughter, Aria and my husband, Dezmond.

They both inspired me for different reasons to put my work out there for kids and families to read. Having Aria inspired me to write books for kids of color so they would see themselves in the books they read and Dezmond inspired me to pull the trigger and release one of the many manuscripts I’ve been hoarding over the years.

When I finally published my book, I got such a high from seeing my words come to life with the illustrations and visiting classrooms, guest appearing at radio programs in DC, and having two professional readings at Barnes & Noble which is a huge fete for an independent author. I was even a nominated as Author of the Year in Social Awareness at the Indie Author Legacy Awards in 2018. I went on to publish 5 new books in 2018 under my business, A. Cole Books, and have mentored countless new indie authors since then. I know how incredible it is to create art, inspire kids, and challenge myself, so why did I ever stop?

Well the truth is, I had to move out obstacles out of my life that affected my creativity. I was living in the wrong place, hanging with incompatible people, and had the wrong mentality to take on new projects. We finally found a house, we found a nanny, we found a school for Aria, and all of a sudden, it felt like I could breathe again!

Moving to a new area allowed us to get a fresh start in a new home that my husband and I have already had a ton of fun decorating together. Eliminating my major ‘stressers’ allowed me to want to get back into my lifestyle as a blogger and an author because it’s who I am and what I love.

Have you ever been in a giant rut when life took over? What helped you overcome it?

Here’s what I’ve learned

Getting out of a rut is 99% about changing your mental state and 1% about the physical effort to do what you enjoy.

XO

Black History Month Podcast: The Biracial Butterfly
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Happy black history month to you all!

Welcome back to #diversebooks4diverse kids which are podcasts dedicated to sharing stories about diversity from independent authors from around the globe.

Today, I’d like to share with you a special podcast for a book called The Biracial Butterfly by Lennox Benson. The Biracial Butterfly is about a mixed-race boy who was born to two loving parents, an African mother from Kenya and an Caucasian father from England. This story is told from the perspective of a boy who was able to appreciate and find value in both cultures that are unique to who he is.

This book is wildly important, like a lot of the books shared on diversebooks4diversekids podcasts, because many biracial children and adults feel marginalized like they have to choose a race to “fit in” to society. What many people forget, is that race was an idea that was socially constructed to make people feel different or superior to one another. This book is a fantastic reminder that each of us is different and born with unique genetic makeup, but that is what makes all of us so beautiful, like little butterflies!

Listen to the audiobook of The Biracial Butterfly.

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What I’ve learned…

Reviews can make or break a new author, especially on huge platforms like Amazon. Take a minute and share kind feedback about the story you heard today.

Love thyself: Three Months Postpartum
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I had a baby three months ago.

This is the honest truth I have to say out loud when I look at myself in the mirror. Sometimes, I have to say it over and over again. I had a baby three months ago.

It seems like society places so much emphasis on “snapping back” after having a baby. I had so many people commenting on my body after having Sire, it made me incredibly insecure. I felt like a specimen in an invisible cage that was on display for people to comment on and give their opinions to.

I heard everything from “Yeah, you look bigger now,” only two weeks after having Sire. Well, duh. I also heard “Wow! You just had a baby?” [Cue the eyeroll]. Some people let it be known that it annoyed them that I lost most of my weight so quickly. Regardless of the feedback that I heard, it left an awful taste in my mouth like my weight and body were being picked apart by people I knew and even absolute strangers.

Why is it anyone else’s place to tell me how good, or bad, I look after having a baby? Three months postpartum, I still have about 8-10 pounds left to shed to get to my “pre-baby” weight but I am in absolutely no rush to see any specific number on the scale. Why? Because, I am so incredibly proud of my body and what it has done to deliver two healthy beautiful babies. So what if I have extra weight on my hips or that those stretchmarks from my first pregnancy look more noticeable than ever.

What I wish people paid attention to more than a mother’s physical appearance is her mental health. This time around, I’ve been able to keep postpartum depression at bay which is an incredible feeling to have a sound mind. I can be fully present at my job, and when I’m home being a wife and mother. I don’t have the fog of darkness that surrounds so many of us when our hormones are going haywire.

I know there will be plenty of time for toning to get ready for summer when I’m ready. I haven’t been putting emphasis on working out rigorously because I’ve been so busy trying to nurse a baby and establish a sleep schedule for Sire with my [amazing] partner.

I know that I’m rounding the corner to depart from my 4th trimester which is all about loving yourself and your new flaws as well as obsessing over your new baby. Love thyself. It is so important to be kind to yourself even in the midst of constant criticism from people who make a comment about your body. I’ve officially said screw all the feedback. I am damn proud of my mom-bod and the incredible blessings it’s provided, my children.

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What I’ve learned…

All you can honestly do is tune out all the comments and focus on eating healthy during and after pregnancy, especially if you’re nursing. Set fitness goals for yourself to start at your own pace. I encourage you to listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs and focus on loving yourself from the inside out.