The 10 Best Outdoor Places to Take Your Kids In and Near Howard County, MD!

The best thing about living in Howard County, MD, in the spring is all the fantastic things to do with the kiddos that are just a hop, skip, and jump away! If you manage to find an opening in your schedule after all the play dates, story times, and toddler classes, here are some pretty fantastic places to soak in the springtime.
 

1. Clark’s Elioak Farm, located at 10500 Clarksville Pike in Ellicott City, opens for the season on April 1, 2017. Clark’s Farm, a 312-acre farm, was purchased by the Clark family in 1927. Martha Clark and daughter Nora Crist have been developing the family cattle as a 100% grassfed since 2006 and sell the beef at their farm stand along with non-GMO pork, and open a produce stand beginning July 1.

In 2002, they opened a petting farm and educational venue that includes goats, pigs, donkey, chickens, emus, sheep, horses, cows, bunnies, etc. My son really enjoys feeding the goats and sheep (bring a quarter!) and getting to go into the pen with the kids (baby goats).

In 2004, Clark’s Farm began the process of moving and restoring storybook attractions from a 1955 amusement park in Ellicott City called The Enchanted Forest, which closed in 1990. In addition to playground features such as a slide, they added a 1 and 1/4 mile maze filled with the characters and attractions called the Pine Tree Forest.

As if this were not enough to keep the kiddos entertained for hours, the farm also offers a hay ride, cow train, and pony rides ($2) and weekly events offered on the weekends. At just $6/person over the age of 1, this farm is my top choice for outdoor places to go in Howard County.

2. Watkins Regional Park, located at 301 Watkins Park Drive in Upper Marlboro, is open year-round, but will also run an antique carousel, train, and miniature golf from May 6 through August 27, 2017.  This huge playground, nature center, and small animal farm would definitely be first on my list given it’s cost of FREE if it weren’t 40 minutes from Columbia!

Watkins Regional Park is absolutely worth the drive. My toddler will spend hours on the Wizard of Oz playground alone. The playground includes animal spring riders, a two story chicken coop with slides, giant xylophones, swings, spinning flower chairs, climbing walls and ropes, play houses, a natural treadmill, a large bouncy tractor, etc. All of this is on a clean rubber mat so you take home none of the mess!

Just behind the Wizard of Oz playground is a trail to the Watkins Nature Center, where you can see the resident live animals close-up, explore hands-on exhibits, and participate in special events. We really enjoyed seeing the small owls they have inside the nature center!

Following the trail behind the carousel and miniature golf will take you to the Old Maryland Farm where you can see bunnies, chickens, peacocks, turkeys, ducks, pigs, goats, llamas, donkey, horses, and cows. You really could spend all day and night (there’s also a campground) at this beautiful park.

3. Wheaton Regional Park (Brochure with map: here), located at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, is about 25 minutes from Columbia. I initially learned of Wheaton Regional Park when reading an article about the 50-acre Brookside Gardens and it’s butterfly exhibit, Wings of Fancy (leftmost picture below), which is located in the park. However, Wheaton Regional Park is so much more than a garden.

The garden offers trails, a children’s garden with a play house, plenty of places for picnic, and seasonal events such as the Garden of Lights and indoor train exhibit. The Brookside Nature Center, with it’s own parking lot at 1400 Genallan Ave, offers an indoor tot discovery room (picture right), resident reptiles, and an outdoor natural playground.

On the other side of the park (you can walk or take a 5 minute drive to 2000 Shorefield Road), is the adventure playground, miniature train (picture right), and carousel. The playground is really quite impressive. There are slides as tall as a house. There are things to stand on and spin until you can’t stand, things to climb, and slides that will drop your stomach. And yes, there is a smaller tot playground (picture left) with sandbox for the little ones. I have yet to explore all of Wheaton park in a day, but considering all is free except the butterfly exhibit and rides, we don’t mind going back time and time again!

4. Robinson Nature Center, located at 6692 Cedar Lane in Columbia, offers connections with nature both indoors and out. In the winter, my toddler has enjoyed the tot discovery room, resident reptiles, and exploring the small museum. I look forward to taking him to the planetarium when he gets a little older.

As the weather warms up, Robinson offers great little walking trails and a natural playground for the kids to explore. My son really enjoys the tunnel/slide. Robinson also offers a lot of great programming throughout the year, including story times and nature walks. We are looking forward to participating in their 3-day summer camp this summer! Robinson is $5/adult and $3/ kid over 3 years.

5. Irvine Nature Center, located at 11201 Garrison Forest Road in Owings Mills, is about 30 minutes from Columbia. They offer some really great programming, including Tales and Tails Story Time on Fridays, nature camps, special events, and even a nature preschool for ages 3 to 5. Irvine Nature Center also has a fantastic natural playground with a sandbox. As far as indoor options, they have reptile residents in the nature center, a small children’s area, and a butterfly house that opens in June. Visiting Irvine Nature Center is free.

6. The Hilton Tire Park, located at 1101 Hilton Avenue in Catonsville, is part of the Patapsco Valley State Park and does have a small entrance fee. The park offers a tire park playground, a new play structure, a tire swing, a natural playground with sandbox, and a kids exploration trail with some musical instruments. Of course, being in Patapsco, there are also some beautiful areas for picnic, bathrooms, and lots of hiking. You can walk to the swinging bridge from here in about 20-30 minutes.

 7. The Oregon Ridge Nature Center, located at 13555 Beaver Dam Road in Cockeysville is about 45 minutes from Columbia. This nature center holds many large special events and hosts a regular calendar of events, including a bookworm story time once per month. This nature center is really fantastic to visit at any time though. They have a natural playground, walking trails, and resident animals including chickens, birds, turtles, snakes, etc. They have been working on updating their beach area, which is great for swimming in the summer, and is in close proximity to a playground structure (currently difficult to get to with the construction). The nature center is free.

 8. The Howard County Conservancy, located at 10520 Old Frederick Road in Woodstock, is a 20 minute drive from Columbia. There is a very small indoor space with a few reptiles and a corner with toys where the kids can play when there isn’t a class or camp using the room. Outside there is an owl, beehive, goats, and chickens, as well as some beautiful gardens and a natural playground. HoCo Conservancy
 9. Benjamin Banneker Park, located at 300 Oella Ave in Catonsville, is a neat little place to explore nature and history. Just to the right of the building you will find a natural playground that encourages children to use their imaginations on the boat, in the teepee, or in the sandbox. There are trails that will lead you through the woods to the trolley line where you can walk to The Breadery and pick up a delicious pumpkin chocolate chip muffin for your walk back. The Benjamin Banneker Museum is a small space with a bit of local history and a few kids activities.

10. The lakes! Centennial Lake (2.4 mile loop), Lake Elkhorn (1.7 mile loop), Lake Kittamaqundi (1.44 mile loop), and Wilde Lake (1.31 mile loop) are the four largest lakes to check out in Columbia. Centennial and Elkhorn also have great playgrounds for the kids. Wilde Lake has a tot lot with swings and a stream where the kids can play. Lake Kit has some great summer concerts, yoga on the lake, restaurants, and other activities, but no playground. Smaller walks include Jackson Pond or the Font Hill Wetlands.

After a year and a half exploring Maryland, these are my favorite places to get our little guy out in nature. Many thanks to the Columbia Families In Nature group for introducing us to some of these great places!

If you think there is a stellar place I have forgotten, please add a comment below!

Surviving Winter With A Young Toddler: Drop-in Activities That Burn Energy

toddler-activitiesAs the chilly air moves in my toddler has decided that five minutes outside is long enough.  I see him peering out the window and I can almost hear the internal battle going on inside his head.  He wants so badly to run in circles, to move all my potting soil out of the pot and onto the deck, and to pluck all the berries off the holly for inspection.  He wants to, except, “brrrr!” as he puts it.  I can see his energy bubbling over as his arms flail uncontrollably throwing whatever was in his hand, as he clears off the coffee table for no apparent reason, or slams a tune out on his piano.  This child needs to get out.  He needs to run, jump, and be a toddler.

I have two options.  Option one, morph into a mommyzilla and stomp around growling about how we don’t throw toys and demand he take a time out.  Or, option two, redirect his energy to something positive.  So here it is, a list of activities we can go do the in community! (See my next post for a list of activities to try at home.)

In and around Howard County, Maryland

  1. Play N Learn: The Playground Superstores in Columbia, MD – When you can’t get outside to play the next best thing is an indoor playground.  This huge indoor playground equipment store features “safe rubber flooring, swingsets, basketball hoops, trampolines, air hockey and foosball tables best suited to entertain ages 2-8”, plus infant swings.  They sell tickets for two hour blocks Monday through Sunday for $8 per child. playnlearn-columbia-castle
  2. Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Columbia, MD – I have heard a lot of parents talking about Toddler Time at Sky Zone, but have yet to check it out.  The cost is $7 for children 5 and under and $12 for adults. toddlertime
  3. Pump It Up in Elkridge, MD – This giant inflatable playground is sure to get the energy out in a safe and fun way during pre-k open jump for the under-6 crowd.  The cost is $10 per child. pump-it-up
  4. Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills, MD – This is a fantastic resource for anyone local. We have really enjoyed exploring their resident animals, playing on their outdoor playground (in the warmer months), and participating in their “Tales & Tails” story time held every Friday at 10. They also have a (very) small play area for the little ones. This is a great, free place to explore with your toddler any time, but they also offer some fantastic programming and camps.  If we lived closer, I would definitely enroll my guy in their 12-week Little Birds program. img_1176
  5. Kiddie Crusoe in Timonium, MD – We had the opportunity to go here in October and I definitely want to keep it on our list as a future option.  This location features three main rooms.  The first room has little “stores,” dress up clothes, and ride-on toys for make believe.  The second room has an indoor playground with a few swingsets.  The third room has inflatables for the kids to climb, bounce and slide on.  Mini Mondays and Tot Tuesdays are for children 3 and under  (plus siblings).  The cost is $7 per child.fullsizeoutput_123e
  6. The Original Playhouse in Newmarket, MD –  As their website explains, “[t]he playhouse offers two colorful floors dedicated to imaginative play, creativity, and experiential learning…The Original Playhouse targets children ages 3-9 as the activities are most appropriate for this developmental range.” Toddlers are welcome to play too; however, parents need to be extra watchful as there are toys and areas that aren’t designed or safe for children under three.  They are open for walk-in play Tuesday-Friday from 9am-4pm and Sunday 12-5pm.  Adults and children 1.5 – 2 are $5 and children 3 and up are $10. the-original-playhouse
  7. Play Date Junction in Eklridge, MD – This is a great little drop-in option.  Although it is not huge, they do have a few small wooden slides for climbing, small trampolines, a train set, and a small kitchen.  They have a great nursing room for feeding and changing.  It’s worth joining their Facebook page because they do offer events such as “I’m the Chef Too” and “Parent’s Night Out”.  Drop-in play is $15 per child and $13 for siblings. playdate-junction
  8. Hopper’s KidZone in Eldersburg, MD – This indoor arena has bounce houses, obstacle courses, and jumbo slides for kids to run, jump, and play.  The open play is on weekdays from 10 am-1 pm and 4 pm-8 pm on Tuesday & Thursday. The cost is $8 for 2+ and $5 for the under-2 crowd.
  9. Kidville in Fallsgrove, MD – They typically offer gym, art, music, and dance classes, but open their facility to non-members for open play, mostly in the afternoons. They charge $10 per hour per child for non-members.
  10. Rollie Pollies in Crofton or Severna Park, MD – They appear to have a lot of children’s gymnastics equipment including trampolines, foam pits, beams, a bounce house, etc. It seems similar to My Gym.  They have open gym hours for $10 per child and allow drop-offs for potty trained children over 3.

For 7 more local activities for babies and toddlers please visit my first post, Out And About With Baby!

-> Quick and easy activities you can do at home or during a toddler playdate!

A more relaxing playdate

Is it inappropriate to say that I don’t want to be up my kid’s ass all the time? When he was learning to crawl or walk, sure, I was there to catch him when he fell. And now, when he wants to climb up a tall slide where there is a danger of him falling and getting hurt, I’m right there ready to offer up my face as a pillow. But, if he is toddling around a baby-proofed play date, I have no desire to stand over him and direct his every move.

That’s great that you want to be there and soak up every precious moment with your little one, but I find helicopter parenting stressful and so does my guy. I can already see his little eye on the ball of independence. For at least a few minutes, he thinks, I can do this all by myself. To see the look of pride on his face when he manages something all on his own makes my heart soar. I am ready to be his cheerleader. I am ready to give him support and encouragement. I am ready to let him be a toddler.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love those baby thighs, breathing in his baby-fresh scent as we cuddle up for a book, and when he comes in for a hug gushing my name, “Mama.” Those are moments I cherish and look forward to, but wouldn’t it be great if we could go to a play date and just let our kids play?

I wonder if some moms struggle to let go because they aren’t comfortable having regular adult conversations? Sometimes we find our children playing independently by accident and ignoring our attempts to play with them, which always leads us to the dreaded mom talk. My child is not walking, my child is not talking, my child is not sleeping, because you know, to talk about the positive would be bragging, so instead we talk about what our children can’t do. That should lead to a healthy self-image.

Yes we are moms 90% of the time, but I’m pretty sure there is more to us than that. We led lives before babies. We have husbands. We live in neighborhoods. We read books, watch tv, or have other hobbies. So why can’t we think of anything else to talk about?

I’ve noticed that a lot of stay at home moms struggle to take time for themselves. They seem to lose themselves in parenting. It’s usually the more seasoned moms that make the time for book clubs, moms nights out, and regular date nights. I wonder if the older moms share a wisdom that we haven’t yet found?

If we can’t or won’t make the time for ourselves after the kids go to bed, maybe we could make the time for ourselves during the day, toddlers in tow. I would love to have more relaxed play dates where the kids play while the moms chat. One where, when you leave, you do not feel like you were plowed over by a swarm of bees.

This is not a new concept. There are so many places in Maryland that are starting to create that very environment, such as Play Date Junction in Elkridge, MD, or Play Cafe in Baltimore, MD. The challenge is not finding a location. It’s finding a group of moms who can let go of the reins and let their kids play, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy some adult conversation.

playdate

Can I Afford To Go Back To Work?

As you may recall from reading my post, So and So’s Mom, my little one is now 15 months old and I am feeling ready for the next thing. Naturally, this led me to thoughts of returning to the workforce. Now that we live in Howard County, Maryland, away from our families, returning to work would mean daycare for my little guy.

In-home daycares tend to be a less expensive option (roughly $150 per week), but to me, this feels more like glorified babysitting. This option would require me to trust a complete stranger to prepare my child for preschool by managing their daily schedule, nutrition, physical development, and education with absolutely no formal oversight or support. Some of these in-home daycares have 4, 5, or even 6 children at a time, while the Maryland state licensing standards require a ratio of no more than 3 children under the age of two per teacher.

A licensed daycare also has minimum education requirements for their teachers, which includes a 90-hour training in early childhood education, often in addition to a college degree in early childhood education or related field. The teachers in a licensed daycare also have the support and oversight of other teachers and directors. There are schedules, meal plans, recess and sports programs, and a curriculum. I like this option because the children flow seamlessly from the daycare classroom into the preschool classroom since they remain in the same building and on a similar schedule. However, the security and benefits of a formal school setting come at a cost. A cost that rendered me and my husband speechless.

Now, I will say, a lot of these schools do not publicize their costs and some were even reluctant to inform me over the phone, insisting on a tour. I think they worry that parents will shy away from the formal school setting, not fully realizing the benefits, until they have seen it for themselves. My intention with posting the information here is not to upset the schools, but rather, to help inform other parents who may be considering returning to work. Therefore, I must present all of the pros and cons as I see them.

We have toured five childcare centers at this point (Columbia Academy preschool at Maple Lawn, MKD Kids Learning Center, Cradlerock Children’s Center, Eco Tots, and Childtime Learning Centers) and we have three more scheduled (Child’s Garden, The Young School, and The Goddard School). There are several things that have really surprised us.

  1. The price. Just considering that three children need to cover the cost of an infant/toddler teacher’s salary prepares you for the thought that a preschool setting will not come cheap. However, you only need to spend a few minutes on a job site such as indeed.com to realize that these teachers are only being paid $8-12 per hour. So if you take the average, $10, that teacher is making only $400 per 40 hour work week. The most expensive of the daycares mentioned above cost $457 per week ($1,828 per month or $21,936 per year) for an infant/toddler (under the age of two). The cheapest daycare was $368 per week ($1,472 per month or $17,664 per year) for an infant/toddler. Sure, this cost goes down as your child gets older and the requirement for a 3:1 child to teacher ratio grows to 6:1 then 10:1, but what if you have a second child? Many of these childcare centers offer a 5% or 10% discount for a sibling, but still, our calculations told us we would then be paying just under $3,200 per month ($38,400 per year) at the most expensive daycare and $2,444 per month ($29, 328 per year) at the least expensive. To give you a comparison, current in-state tuition at the University of Maryland is $10,180 per year ($1,131 per month for 9 months or $282 per week).
  2. The waitlist. I realized that there may be a waitlist for some of the really nice schools and started calling around three months before I was hoping to return to work. I was quite surprised when our current top pick told us that they would not have space for us until June 2017 when my little guy turns two (in nine months). One of the other schools, which we have yet to see, told us they would not have any openings until August 2017 (almost a year from now). So we had to ask ourselves, if I wait until my son is two years old to return to work, how far apart in age do we want our children to be? Is it worth returning to work only to have another baby six months or so later and have to leave the workforce again? Could we guarantee a spot or the income for our second child to join the daycare?
  3. The benefits. I knew that our child would be well cared for in a formal daycare setting, but I was still surprised by the way these schools are preparing children for their formal education. The directors told us about sports programs, Spanish programs, and writing programs the children are offered as young as age two. We watched the children working quietly and cooperatively around a table and learning to follow direction at just two and three years old. I watched all this as my little boy ran around the room, pulled puzzles off the shelf, and talked loudly about the clock, puzzle, and other children. I honestly don’t know how the teacher had all six children playing so quietly so I must conclude it was some form of witchcraft. Nonetheless, I am feeling as though I need to do even more to prepare my son for preschool, to be able to sit still, and to begin learning a second language.

Through this exploration of daycare options, my husband and I have started to feel as though my returning to work now would make it difficult for us to have a second child and then would result in my working to pay someone else to raise our kids, with very little financial benefit for our family.

I know that there are other options out there. Many families find in-home daycare options that are a perfect fit for their family. Some families are very lucky to have relatives or friends available to provide childcare while they work. Other families are able to hold work schedules that can be accommodated by a nanny. Some stay-at-home parents are able to work from home while providing care for their child. It really boils down to finding the best option for your own family.

Obviously, the decision to return to work does not begin and end with numbers. We see our son thriving with the individualized attention I provide and wonder whether he would continue to thrive in a daycare setting. We see the close and loving relationship he has with us and wonder if that would change if given much more time apart. We see his joy and excitement each day as he spends hours just exploring the world around him and wonder if that joy would fade with so much time spent inside the same building day after day. In some ways, after giving it some more thought, leaving him to go back to work when I have the option of staying home with him seems crazy.

And then other options don’t seem so crazy after giving them some thought. I laughed out loud when a fellow blogger suggested having another baby after my post So and So’s Mom, but interestingly enough, the more we talk about it the less crazy it seems.

Who knows.

 

Noteworthy:

  • Eco Tots had the healthiest meal plan out of all of the schools. I was very impressed by their meal plan. Not all childcare centers provide lunch and snacks, and if they do, its not always nutritious.
  • Some of the childcare centers are now providing parents with real-time updates using tablets to upload photos and even videos of the children during the day!
  • Many of the childcare centers cited low pay as the reason for high turnover rates among daycare and preschool teachers, who make roughly $20,000 per year. One director stated she just cannot compete with an elementary school’s salary and these teachers are qualified or on their way to becoming qualified for elementary education.

 

Photo Credit: Laura’s Left Hook

Out And About With Baby

OUT AND ABOUT WITH BABY

You know that mom who spends hours pouring over websites, reading reviews, and searching for feedback from other parents to identify local resources for a baby who isn’t even walking yet? Yeah, that’s me. Sometimes being a stay home mom can feel like detective work, digging through resources, trying to discover the next best activity for when baby wakes from his nap ready to take on the day. At least that is what I tell myself, “you are a detective, no different than Sherlock Holmes, smart, witty, living dangerously with possible poop bombs around every corner…” I find myself wondering why there isn’t already a resource from parents who have done the digging, mapped out a plan, and paved a path down easy street for the rest of us lost souls. I guess it’s because I haven’t written it yet.

We moved here in August 2015, and after six months and many hours of research, I started to feel as though I had some tools in my tool belt. In February 2016, I wrote my first post about finding your parent tribe in Howard County Maryland (HoCo). Yes, six months of research and all I had to show for it list of resources. A good start, sure, but far from useful. Just enough information to allow a parent to pick a direction and try something new, but not enough information to know what to expect. After three months of constantly trying something new, I am finally starting to develop a good solid list of go to places. So here they are, tried and true places, and I’ll also make mention of some tried and not so true for those brave souls who want more of a risk.

  1. Howard County Library: My baby and I have been going to Play Partners at the libraries since he was about four months old (now 11 months). The class combines song, story, lap bounces, and free play in a way that is engaging without becoming overwhelming. Our favorite library is Central library because the location is within walking distance to Wilde lake/Whole Foods/The Mall in Columbia and it has spacious, open rooms. Savage library is also very nice with a playground within walking distance and Historic Savage Mills and walking trails a short drive away.

    IMG_8729

    E. Columbia Play Partners

  2. Robinson Nature Center: This is honestly one of our favorite places to go! On rainy days we enjoy spending time in the children’s discovery room playing with blocks, puzzles, play farm, dinosaurs, etc. and watching the fish and turtles swim around their tanks. IMG_7725The interactive museum is perfect for all ages to learn about Maryland’s development, wildlife, and human impact. Outside there is a great natural playground to chase your kids around as they climb and discover and many walking trails and streams to enjoy on sunny days. Admission is $5 adults and $3 for children 3-17 years, and free on Wednesdays until March 1, 2017! IMG_9035
  3. The Yoga Center Of Columbia: A lot of friends have asked me about recommendations for classes since I have tried many local options (Kindermusik, My GymOlenka, CA Parent Child Class and others). My advice is always the same – do a trial class before signing your child up for a full session! Every child is different and will have different interests and comfort levels. IMG_9078My child seems to thrive with the calm yoga environment that allows him to play and learn at his own pace and comfort, while some older children may become bored and struggle to follow direction. This might mean that they are ready to move up to a class for an older age group or that yoga is just not for them. Similarly, where one child may respond with excitement and enthusiasm for a gymnastics class, my child became overwhelmed, fussy, and clingy. By paying attention to his cues I am able to create opportunities that promote his interests, skills, and social relationships in a setting where he can feel comfortable and safe. IMG_9096
  4. BSO Music Box Series: This concert for babies is offered about once per month by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore and Silver Springs, MD. Although this event is not offered as frequently and does have a higher cost associated, it definitely makes my list of top things to do with baby. Prior to the concerts the children are able to get their wiggles out from the car ride by playing with toys and instruments in the lobby. Each concert promotes different instruments through concepts such as ocean life, cars/trucks/trains, and wintertime. After some of the concerts, such as the one shown below, the children have been able to see the musicians play their instruments up close and even try out the drum set! This has been so much fun for my baby and the husband and I have enjoyed singing and dancing along as well.IMG_7919
  5. Storyville: Storyville is an interactive learning environment in Woodlawn, MD. Again, this is a bit of a drive from HoCo. There is a baby area with some toys, books, and sturdy flowers to practice pulling up on. For those who live local, I believe Storyville is a fantastic resource for all ages; however, there is significantly more to do once a child begins walking and therefore I believe this is better for the walking age group. Storyville is free to the public.IMG_6935
  6. The Swellness Center: This is essentially a big, safe play place for young children. The Swellness Center has various toys that the children can play with (think ride on cars, musical instruments, building blocks, and lots of small toys). I have found this resource most useful when meeting friends as it provides a safe area for the babies to play together while parents chat without worry. However, there is a $10 cost and they discourage babies from mouthing the toys so I do not feel it would be as worth it to go alone.
    IMG_9030
  7. Family Fun Day at the Mall in Columbia: This is an event that can be enjoyable for infants through preschoolers. The event gets pretty crowded (as you can see below) and includes music that is engaging and fun for children who can follow directions (i.e. touch your toes, dance, sing lalala, etc.) and stories (such as Pete the Cat). This is a weekly event, held every Thursday, that is open and free to the public. A nice way to sneak in some shopping too!IMG_7536

These are some of the best indoor baby activities in and near Howard County, MD, that I have found for the pre-walking/ learning to walk crowd thus far. Is there somewhere I am missing? Please add your favorites in the comments section below!

As summer gets underway, I anticipate that my list of top playgrounds, parks, and walking trails will continue to grow as well. I look forward to my baby’s next stage of development, mastering walking, where we will begin to explore some of the more active attractions such as Sky Zone, Pump It Up, Kiddie Crusoe, The Science Museum, etc… stay tuned!

Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go! (Part 3)

*Updated March 2017

One of the perks of parenthood is watching my little guy experience all the fun things in life. I am looking forward to throwing his first birthday party where he will experience cake and balloons for the first time. I am anxious for him to get to the age where he will join his first little league team and start to explore new interests as I cheer him on from the sidelines. As such, I have already begun to file away recommendations I have seen from parents in the Howard County, Maryland area.

I decided to share these ideas as part of this three part series for two reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that I hope other parents will find this information helpful as well. The second is more selfish on my part; I am hoping that parents will lend additional suggestions and information to help me expand my research.

With Part 1, recommendations for a pediatrician, pediatric dentist, child hair cut, etc., and with Part 2, recommendations for an OB/GYN, salon, realtor, etc., I eliminated services that were least recommended because there is an overwhelming array of options in this area. With this post, however, I am including all recommendations that I came across since the list is much more manageable (thus far).

Birthday Party Ideas: This list will provide ideas for years.

The Swellness Center

The Swellness Center

T-Ball for ages 3+:

  • Several parents recommended Howard County Recreation & Parks. Parents specifically recommend the Columbia Baseball League programs (ages 4-18), which offer a weekly practice and a weekend game. The parents described the intro t-ball class as more of a play time and not worth the money.
  • EYO (Elkridge Youth Organization) in Elkridge, MD. One parent stated it could be a good prerequisite to baseball as it offers practices and games to get the littles in the swing of things. They serve ages 4-5.
  • i9 sports in Marriottsville, MD. They serve ages 3-6.

Martial Arts for ages 3+:

  • Three parents recommended KIK (Klotz Institute of Karate) in Columbia, MD. One parent explained that they have small class sizes and reasonable prices. They offer classes starting at 4 years old.
  • Three parents suggested the AAMA (American Academy of Martial Arts) in Columbia or Maple Lawn, MD. They offer a variety of classes starting with a Little Dragon class. One mom shared that you can sometimes find discounts on Groupon.
  • Two parents recommended Tiger World Class in Ellicott City, MD. One parent reported the cost is $179/month for unlimited classes with a 6 month or 1 year contract. They offer a Little Tigers class for ages 4-5.
  • Shelly Walrath from New Vision Martial Arts in Glenelg, MD. They offer a Lil Dragon class for ages 3-5 years.
  • Gracie jujitsu in Columbia, MD.
  • Jiu Jitsu at Crazy 88 in Elkridge, MD.
  • D&S Karate Studios in Laurel, MD. One mom explained that the teacher has a degree in early childhood education.
  • Victory Martial Arts in Elkridge, MD.
  • Nabaiee’s Family Martial Arts in Columbia, MD. This is a family owned program. They offer a Mini-Champs class for ages 3-5, Junior Champs for 5-8, and Champs for 8 and up.
TIGER WORLD CLASS

Tiger World Class

Swim Options:

  • Four parents recommend Goldfish Swim School in Columbia, MD, stating the water is 90*, clean, and the staff is incredible. Family swim is $5/ person or $15/ family.
  • Three parents recommend Kids First Swim School in Elkridge, MD, stating the pool is warm and there are good instructors for swim classes.
  • Roger Carter Recreation Center in Ellicott City, MD, has a beach entry, but some parents found it to be a little too cold.
  • One parent suggested the preschool class offered through the Columbia Association.

Gymnastics for 18 Months+:

TOP FLIGHT

Top Flight Gymnastics

Dance Class for 3+:

  • Eight moms recommended Dance Connections for children three and older. One mom wrote, Dance Connections is wonderful! Jen Aversa, the owner, is amazing with the kids and reasonably priced. My daughter has been dancing with her since she was 2 1/2 and is almost 12 now! Another mom gave a tip to sign up though Howard County Rec and Parks for a good introduction before committing to an entire dance season.
  • Five moms recommended Arabesque Studios in Columbia, MD, but one mom noted that it is a commitment.
  • Turning Pointe in Elkridge, MD, was recommended by four parents, one of which had been taking her child there for six years.
  • Four moms recommended Back Stage Dance Studio, which offers classes beginning at 2 years old. One mom explained that the children go into the room with the teacher while their parent watches on a television in the hall.
  • Four moms recommended Howard County Recreation & Parks for young children. One mom stated her daughter was taking the Tinkerbell ballet class, which was being held once per week at the Dance Connections studio, and loved it. Another mom said they took a movement class at the Kinetic Dance Theatre with Miss Jodi, and loved it.
  • Two moms recommended Joyful Motion in Savage, MD. One mom explained that it is cheaper than some of the other options.
  • Two parents recommended Central Maryland Youth Ballet.
  • Two parents recommended Studio Dans  in Fulton, MD, and described it as clean and organized with experienced teachers.
  • Two moms recommended RL Dance Co in Clarksburg, MD. One explained that they offer lots of classes for kids and adults and also do private lessons and in-home lessons. “Miss Robyn is great!” The other said it was great for little ones, even boys.
  • B. Funk Dance Company in Ellicott City, MD.
  • Genesis Arts in Columbia, MD, has reasonable prices and offers a free trial class.

Other Sports:

  • Five parents recommended UK Elite for soccer. One parent specifically expressed preference for UK Elite over Quickfeet for age 4.

Again, I would love to hear suggestions beyond the ones I’ve stumbled upon myself or additional tips you might have about any of the places listed here. If you found this article of interest, please feel free to wander around my site, all are welcome!

<- Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go! (part 2)

Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go! (Part 2)

HoCo Parents Tell You FB

You know how on every flight you take, the flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others? Well, I feel like that is the key to preventing your mothership from going down. You are no use to your children if you are flopped over gasping for air and let’s face it, the ship can’t function without you. But putting on your own mask is a lot easier said than done when you have to find that mask at the bottom of a messy diaper bag with a baby screaming in one arm and a husband asking where his blue striped shirt is.

Although I know meeting my own needs is important, it is still a work in progress. We have been here seven months and my son has had three doctors appointments at his new doctors office. I think its about time I find myself a doctor. So, in part two of  Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go! I’m sharing with you my own research to find a primary care doctor as well as other resources recommended by parents who are living, parenting, and meeting their own needs in Howard County, MD.

Please know that there are many other resources here in HoCo, some of which are just waiting to be discovered as the next best thing. If you do not see your favorite on here, it does not mean that it is not completely awesome – I just haven’t heard people raving about it… yet.

Primary Care Physician: 

  • Five moms recommended Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (Dr. Perry-Fabrizio in Maple Lawn, and Dr. Ava George or Dr. Marino at Stevens Forest, or Dr. Greenwood in Fulton). They have a 4.4 average rating on their Facebook page.
  • Five parents recommended Seton Medical Group. In Ellicott City, three parents expressed great experiences with Dr. Jennifer Prabhu, who sees both children and adults. In Columbia, Dr. Shannarose Guma was recommended, and in Elkridge, Dr. Mary Rifino. They have a 4.2 average rating on their Facebook page.
  • Two moms recommended the Family Medical and Dental Wellness Center, Dr. Rubina Alvi. They have a 4.9 average rating on their Facebook page.

OB/GYN: This was confusing to me when we first moved to Maryland, but most primary care physicians do not offer gynecological services and therefore you will also need an OB/GYN.

  • Twenty moms recommended Signature by Johns Hopkins Medicine. One mom discouraged Signature stating it was “not very personable.”
    • Voted Best of Howard County 2015 and 2014
  • Seventeen moms recommended Capital Women’s Care in Fulton, MD. Several women mentioned a preference for the female doctors. One, specifically stated she did not prefer to see Dr. Marvin Davis as he is a male and she did not feel as comfortable with him.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014
  • Fifteen moms recommended Johns Hopkins Community Physicians. Two moms recommended Dr. Nia Leak in particular. Another recommended Dr. Natalia Colon-Guzman.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014
  • Three women recommended the Women’s OB/GYN Group in Columbia, MD.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014
  • Three moms recommended Hoffman & Associates out of Catonsville, MD.

Dentist:

  • Four parents recommended Dobbin Dental in Columbia, MD. They have a 4.6 rating on their Facebook page (18 reviews). They have 4 stars on Yelp (7 reviews). They have a 3.7 rating on Google (10 reviews).
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014
  • Two parents recommended Dr. Stanley Park of Today’s Smile Dental for the entire family.
  • Two parents recommended Judd Dentistry in Columbia, MD. They have a 4.6 rating on their Facebook page (36 reviews). They have 3.5 stars on Yelp (19 reviews). They have a 4.8 rating on Google (68 reviews).
  • One parent recommended Freedom Dental Care in Eldersburg, MD. They have a 4.9 rating on their Facebook page (59 reviews). They have 5 stars on Yelp (4 reviews). They have a 4.7 rating on Google (23 reviews).
  • One parent recommended Pear Tree Dental Care in Ellicott City, MD. They have a 5.0 rating on their Facebook page (7 reviews). They have a 5 star rating on Yelp (12 reviews). They have a 5.0 rating on Google (20 reviews).

Eye Doctor:

  • Three parents recommended Dr. Hess of Columbia Family Eye Care in Clarksville, MD for the entire family. They have an average rating of 4.9 on their Facebook page.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014
  • Two parents suggested Revolution Eyes in Ellicott City, MD for the entire family. They have an average rating of 5.0 on their Facebook page.
  • Parents also noted that Dankner and Fiergang in Clarksville, MD, which was the top recommendation for a pediatric eye doctor in part 1, also provides ophthalmology for adults. They have an average rating of 4.6 on their Facebook page.

Hairdresser:

  • Several moms recommended Looks Salon in Columbia, MD. Moms recommended Krystin, Miranda, and Andrea. One mom recommended Irina for short hair. They have an average rating of 4.7 on their Facebook page.
    • Best of Howard County Honorable Mention 2015 and 2014
  • Several moms recommended Mason and Friends in Columbia, MD. Two moms recommended Tunde Kulina for highlights. They have an average rating of 4.6 on their Facebook page.
    • Voted Best of Howard County 2015 and 2014
  • A few moms recommended Patrick’s Hair Design in Columbia, MD. One mom reported that Justin is amazing, but pricy. Another mom expressed positive feelings toward Michelle Jeffery. They have an average rating of 4.8 on their Facebook page.
  • Two moms recommended Jenny at Hair Pros of Columbia, while another expressed dissatisfaction stating unqualified assistants did most of the work as Jenny was busy. They have an average rating of 5.0 on their Facebook page.

Family Photographer:

Real Estate Agent:

Now that we’ve got our day-to-day needs covered, part three of Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go! will provide information for child-related activities, including a comprehensive list of options for where to host a child’s birthday party and parent recommended sports programs/ classes.

If you found this post helpful, please feel free to bookmark the page for later reference and also follow my blog and/or like MommyLoCo on Facebook so you will be the first to know when part three is published!

<- Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go! (part one)

Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go! (part three) ->

Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go!

HoCo Parents Tell You FB

Navigating a new area is never easy, but navigating a new area with a small child can be downright exhausting. You have to figure out where to go for their 852 doctors appointments, dental exams, and hair cuts. Of course, you will need all these same services for yourself, but lets face it, as parents we tend to put ourselves last. Sometimes we spend so much energy trying to find “the perfect” doctor for our child that we forget to find one for ourselves, until it can’t wait. This blog post will be the first of a three part series full of parent recommendations for where to go to meet the needs of your child in Howard County, Maryland (HoCo).

After moving to HoCo, I spent months sorting through recommendations from parents I met as well as recommendations posted by parents on Howard County Mom Hub, Columbia MD Moms Group, and Howard County Moms Talk About It and comparing these to Best of Howard 2014 and Best of Howard County 2015. I tend to be pretty thorough and follow the “measure twice, cut once” rule in all areas of life. So if you are nothing like me, then please enjoy my slightly neurotic insights that will hopefully save you valuable time and energy. If you are like me, then you will probably continue on to do your own research anyway, and in that case, I hope I at least gave you some leads that will send you down a good path.

Please know that there are many other resources here in HoCo, some of which are just waiting to be discovered as the next best thing. If you do not see your favorite on here, it does not mean that it is not completely awesome – I just haven’t heard people raving about it… yet.

A Pediatrician: I saw this request made time and again and it was certainly my first concern when we moved to the area.

  • 30+ moms recommended Klebanow & Associates in Columbia, MD, stating they have weekend hours, an on call doctor 24/7 and 364 days of the year, and you are able to speak with your doctor on the phone when concerns arise. Parents described the doctors as kind and reported them to have good report with the children.
    • Voted Best of Howard County 2015 and 2014 
  • Twelve moms recommended Howard County Pediatrics. One mom described Dr. Lee as very personable. Others recommended Dr. Peggy Martin, Dr. McKay, or Dr. Mailander.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015
  • Twelve moms recommended Dr. Zaneb Beams, a family doctor, in Columbia, MD. One mom explained that Dr. Beams comes from a family of physicians; her mother is a pediatrician. [She is] very knowledgeable and extraordinarily accessible. One of the comments was from a mom who said they switched from one of the larger practices and it was the best decision they could have made -she described Dr. Beams as “wonderful and caring.” Another mom expressed satisfaction with the nurse stating she has a “gentle touch” when giving vaccines. It was also pointed out that Dr. Tessie Aikara in this office sees adults as well. I did come across one negative response from a mom who said she did not agree with Dr. Beams’ “political agenda” and got a bad vibe there.
  • Eight moms recommended Columbia Medical Practice Pediatrics (four Dr. Kari in particular). One mom commented that the doctors are good and the wait time is never long.
  • Eight parents recommended The Pediatric Center in Columbia, MD. Two expressed preference for Dr. Saini.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014
  • Five parents suggested Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, Dr. Michael Lasser or Dr. Naseem Dawood.
  • Three moms recommended Catonsville Pediatrics in Catonsville, MD.
  • Four moms recommended Dr. Aruna V. Khurana in Columbia, MD. One mom explained that Dr. Khurana is the only doctor and does not have nurses so she gets to know the children very well.
  • Four moms recommended Dr. Paul Ambush who has a private practice in Ellicott City, MD. One mom described him as gentle and good with the kids.
  • Three parents recommended Dr. Duniya Rebecca Lancaster at Lancaster Pediatrics in Ellicott City, MD.
  • One parent suggested Dr. Jennifer Landsman at Ellicott City Pediatric Associates.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014
  • 25+ parents recommend Kindermender as an urgent care when your child’s PCP is unavailable!
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014

A Pediatric Dentist: the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the first visit occur around age one, but some parents choose to wait as late as age three.

  • Twenty+ parents recommend Shiny Chompers in Ellicott City, MD. One mom reported that her three sons don’t mind going to the dentist as they have televisions at the seats, iPads on the wall for kids who are waiting, and they get a little prize after their appointment.
  • Six parents recommended Kids Super Smile in Columbia, MD. There was one negative response by a parent who expressed dissatisfaction with the dentist their child saw at this practice.
  • Three parents recommended the Pediatric Dentistry of Columbia.
  • Three parents recommended Smiles4Children in Ellicott City, MD.

An Orthodontist:

  • Two parents recommended Dr. Choti Jahnigen, D.D.S. of Smiles4Children in Ellicott City, MD, for orthodontic needs.
  • Two parents suggested Dr. David Bonebreak of Flagship Orthodontics in Hanover, MD.
  • One mom recommended Dr. Sandra Selnick at OX Smiles located in Ellicott City and Clarksville, MD.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015

A Child’s Hair Cut: there really was no clear cut answer here, but some great ideas none the less.

  • Many parents recommended Floydds 99 located in Columbia and Ellicott City, MD.
  • Other parents recommended Sport Clips for boys in Columbia, MD or Elkridge, MD.
  • Four parents recommended the Hair Cuttery in Maple Lawn, Columbia, MD, and one recommended the one in the Chatham Mall in Ellicott City, MD.
  • Two parents suggested Mr. Diggs or Rob at Robs Barber Shop in Ellicott City, MD.
  • Okay so Cartoon Cuts is last because numerous parents recommended Cartoon Cuts in the mall (one specifically mentioned Amanda) while others expressed dissatisfaction with Cartoon Cuts and were specifically searching for something different.

A Pediatric Eye Doctor:

  • Seven parents recommended Dr Dankner and Fiergang practicing out of Pediatric Eye Care of Maryland in Clarksville, MD.
  • Two parents recommended Dr. Patrick Tong in Columbia, MD.
  • Two parents suggested Dr. Dean Glaros in Columbia, MD.
  • One parent recommended the Wilmer Clinic in Columbia, MD.
    • Voted best of Howard County 2015 and 2014

Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor (ENT):

A Speech Pathologist: Howard County offers a free infants and toddlers home visiting program for children under the age of three who are in need of services. Once a child turns three, s/he can qualify to receive services through the local school.

  • One parent recommended Margaret Hargrove of A Sound Beginning for private speech services.

To Have Blood Drawn: I will never forget watching my son have his first blood draw at just a day old. He was so tiny and helpless. I honestly feel like it hurts me more than it hurts him. That is why it is so important to choose a facility you can trust when your child needs blood drawn.

  • Seven moms reported having good experiences with LabCorp. Three moms swear by the LabCorp on Knolls Road and described the staff as patient and kind. Two recommended LabCorp on Teague Road specifically. One mom recommended the one in the Dorsey Medical building (9501 Old Annapolis Rd).
  • Three moms highly recommended Howard County General Hospital.
  • Four moms recommended Quest and one mom discouraged Quest. One mom specifically suggested using the Quest on Chevrolet Drive in Ellicott City, MD.

An Allergist: I’m hoping my son will not need this, but the way my husband and I keep Claritin D in business, I have a feeling he will!

  • Eight parents recommended Allergy and Asthma Center of Central Maryland located in Columbia, MD. Three expressed satisfaction with Dr. Monika Korff. Two parents suggested Dr. Neumann. Two parents expressed a good experience with Dr. Goldman. Another recommended Dr. Zheutlin.
  • One parent recommended Dr Akan of Entaa Care in Columbia, MD.

Now that we’ve got the kids covered, part two of Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go will provide information related to caring for yourself (referrals for an OBGYN, an adult primary care doctor, an adult or family dentist, a family photographer, and real estate agents).

If you found this post helpful, please feel free to bookmark the page for later reference and also follow my blog and/or like MommyLoCo on Facebook so you will be the first to know when future articles are published!

Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go (part 2) ->

Finding My Parent Tribe in Howard County, Maryland

Becoming a stay at home mom was the first time I didn’t have friends forced on me. In high school and college, I saw the same people every day in my classes, so just figured why not make friends? I did not want to be that one awkward person in the cafeteria who’s hovering over a half-eaten sandwich and reading a textbook with bated breath. After grad school I got a “big girl job” and spent the entire day perched at my desk where I was literally surrounded by wonderful people who were eager to offer support and advice. As annoying as that was, I decided it wouldn’t kill me to make a few friends. Surprisingly, the popularity of a child protection worker ranks right up there with telemarketer and tax collector. The stress of the job forced workers to band together for sanity, validation, and support. I looked forward to the day when I would become a mother and be able to relax at home all day (seriously, that’s what I thought I’d be doing).

50-Best-Minions-Humor-Quotes-Funny-Quotes

So we had little Co and all my dreams came true. For the first few months I ‘relaxed’ at home mopping up the mess that kept spewing from this angelic being, stuffing my face, and binge watching the Bachelorette (did Kaitlyn seriously just have sex with Nick!?!?). 74 days later, we left our comfortable friendships and supportive family to pursue a life in Howard County, Maryland (AKA HoCo). Somewhere around this time, relaxing at home with my BFF/ baby Co stopped being so relaxing and started to feel a little isolating. Thats when I came across this amusing article, 10 Rules for Membership in My Mom Tribe on Scary Mommy and it all clicked. I needed to have more fulfilling conversations. Ones that didn’t involve repeating the same syllables half a dozen times and making farting noises with my mouth. For the first time in my life, it was completely up to me to form a tribe with other members of the parent culture.

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Photo Cred: Indie Nook

This seemed like a slightly daunting task given the roughly 287,085 people within HoCo’s 253 square miles compared to Strafford County, NH, (our previous home) which has roughly 123,143 people within its 384 square miles (according to Wiki). After six months of intense research observing the HoCo parents in their natural habitat, I have discovered great resources for following their migratory patterns and prime opportunities to stage meetings. I can’t say baby Co and I have a fully formed tribe after just six months, but we are meeting a lot of people who can relate to ‘our situation’ and we are having a lot of fun along the way. In case you were wondering… these are not groups or places that have given me money, or gifts, or cookies to promote them (but how awesome would that be!?) and I’m sure they have no clue that I am doing so.

  • Meetup is a very popular way to join local parents at various events. Howard County Parents Of Little Ones (HoCo POLO), is free for parents due to local sponsors who cover the annual costs of hosting the site for the opportunity to offer the parents information on programming for their children. Another local group, Columbia Moms, involves a $12/ year fee and offers regular opportunities for local walks and small group socialization.
  • Columbia Families In Nature (CFIN) has a website and a Facebook page where they offer weekly outings that emphasize play and education in and about nature. What I really like about this group is that they have a smaller group of “seedling” events specifically designed for babies through age two.
  • Facebook is generally a great way to learn about events and resources in the area. Some of the Facebook pages I have found useful are the Columbia Moms Group, Macaroni Kid, Howard County Moms, Howard County Moms Talk About It, Howard County Mom Hub, 365 Things To Do In Howard County MD, Local Kids Day OutHoward County Recreation and ParksHoward County Toddler Playgroups.
  • There are several options in Columbia, MD for paid structured classes with the littles.  Gymboree has various class options including play and learn, music, art, sports, family fun, and school skills as well as opportunity for free play with equipment that is safe for infants and young toddlers.  Similarly, My Gym offers weekly classes that incorporate music, dance, games, and free play to support overall development in a setting that provides equipment geared toward slightly older toddlers and preschoolers.  Kindermusik is a weekly music class that includes song, dance, imaginative adventures, playing instruments, and reading stories that is well suited for young babies and toddlers.  Music Together is a more formal parent-child music class offered through the Olenka School of Music where sheet music is provided and the focus is on developing a basic understanding of music (notes, melodies, rhythms).  Musik Garten is a more casual music class for infants and preschoolers that focuses more on having fun with music (such as though singing silly songs).  The Yoga Center of Columbia offers drop in classes or full session options for every stage, age and ability.  The Happy Yogi offers both prenatal and mommy and me yoga classes in a smaller class setting.  My Spanish Academy, in historic Ellicott City, has classes for 0-2 (Hola Bebe) all the way though 15+ (Adultos). MANY OF THESE PROGRAMS OFFER A FREE TRIAL CLASS!
  • There are also a few groups/programs I am aware of that offer parent/ family support. Healthy Families is a program that offers support to first-time parents from prenatal through the first three months. Parents as Teachers offers in-home support to educate and support parents in their roles as their child’s first teacher. La Leche League has a chapter that offers breast feeding support group meetings in Columbia.
  • The Columbia Association offers (for a cost) a full list activities in addition to 3 fitness gyms with childcare: Columbia Athletic Club, Columbia Gym and Supreme Sports Club with 4 indoor swimming pools and 23 outdoor swimming pools including two Mini WaterParks • Columbia Art Center • Columbia DogPark • Columbia Ice Rink • Columbia SportsPark and SkatePark • Fairway Hills Golf Club • Haven on the Lake • Youth/Teen Center at The Barn. It’s worth noting that these activities are mostly geared toward older children, preschool and up, and membership requires a contract that you can not get out of even if your child is not responding well to the program. Other popular options for fitness facilities include Life Time fitness in Columbia and the YMCA in Ellicott City.  In the summer, many parents have talked about the Roger Carter Community Center for their indoor/ outdoor pool, which has a $5 drop in fee.
  • There are a few websites/email lists that will keep you informed of local happenings if you are just looking to get out of the house. Baltimore’s Child has become one of my go to magazines for events and entertainment! The best part is that the full monthly issue is available online (scroll to the bottom of their website where it says “our digital magazine… read online now).  Totally Hoco lists a lot of local community events and offers an email list.  Chesapeake Family Magazine usually advertises events a little bit further away, but I sometimes find gems in their monthly email. The Columbia Flyer is our local newspaper and usually lists the week’s events just before their sports section.
  • The Robinson Nature Center is a great resource as it offers a children’s discovery room with activities and live aquatic animals and reptiles, interactive exhibits, a domed theatre, an outdoor play area, trails, and scheduled events. The cost is $5 per adult and $3 for children older than 3 (Wednesdays are no longer free).
  • The Howard County Library System offers daily classes and events throughout its various branch locations, including the very popular Play Parters: stories, games, and activities for infant through 23 months.
  • The MOMS Club and MOPS are both support groups for stay at home moms. The groups provide opportunities for regular meetings, play dates, and moms nights out with a small, consistent group of local moms who have young children. Both groups have local chapters in Howard County.

So there it is, what I believe to be a stellar list of resources. Probably not every resource. I would love to hear more in the comments section of this post! After all, the point is to help and support each other on this crazy journey of parenting.