Christmas Tree Adventure!!

We love going to get a Christmas Tree.  It's an adventure we look forward to every year.  We've tried a lot of different farms, and they're all good for different reasons- but we've found one we love and I thought I'd share with you! I didn't receive a discount or free product for this review, I'm just sharing because we love it there.

Oak Shade Farm is a little bit of a drive, but we think it's well worth it! The trees are a fair price considering what you'd pay at a stand with White Pines at $37 and Norway Spruces for $42.  Any size tree is the same price, so if you're looking for a really big tree it's an especially good price!

When you first arrive at the farm, the friendly staff directs you to a parking space.  There's a large greenhouse space with a wood stove, coloring tables, free cookies and cider, and the most recent family of baby bunnies for your children to hold and snuggle.
After that, you can hike out down the trail the family has established back to a log cabin and a tree that is over a century old.  They've also taken the time to label many of the indigenous Virginia species of trees with cards that list the name, scientific name, and a picture of what the tree looks like in the fall and summer.
Finally, you can walk out into the fields and pick a tree.  There are saws provided and bailing and shaking are free.  There's also a bonfire if you get too cold! We love our trip out to the mountains to get a tree!  If you're interested, there's also homemade rugs, ceramics, jams, honey and more! If you're looking for a weekend daytrip, Oak Shade is definitely worth the drive!


You Know You're Busy, Too.

Moms, let's talk.

I am so busy it's not even funny.  And, it's my fault.  I am one of those people that has trouble saying no...which is probably why I have 3 kids.  Anyway, that is also why I'm PTA President and Sunday School Teacher and Scout Helper and chauffer and babysitter....you know what I'm saying.

So, I'm happy to take a little help where I can get it.  When my first son was born, I spent 4 days making home-made hand-stamped individualized Christmas cards.  Now, however, as a veteran mom (and a veteran Chief Home Officer in charge of where the cards go) I know that the only thing people keep each year is the pictures.  My cards that I spent 4 days on? Those went in the trash.  The cute pictures of the baby that some teenager took at Wally World in under 10 seconds? Those stayed on the fridge for a year.

What I'm saying, is that there is nothing wrong with not wasting your time or your money on something that's going in the trash.  Especially if you're like me and you do not have time.  That's why this year I'm ordering our Christmas Cards from Shutterfly.

We're CHRISTMAS Christmas people (since my other job is Children's Pastor), so I always look for something that references that it's a religious holiday for our family- so we're probably going for the O Holy Night cards here
However, if you celebrate another holiday, they've got you covered, too.  My hubby's family is Jewish, so we also celebrate Hannukah- and although I don't send cards for it, if I did, this would be a winner in my book:
Finally, if you just want to cover all your bases, you know, Bodhi Day on December 8th, Winter Solstice on the 21st, Yule, Diwali, Eid ul-Adha, Kwanza, Festivus, whatever it is that you and your friends and family celebrate- I actually really love this card.  Happy Everything.  Pretty much says it all.
So, Happy Everything to you and your family this holiday season, and, save yourself a little time and send people what they really want- Awesome Fridge Pictures, no need for a card :)


Touch of Gold- Not for kids, but Good for Mommies :)

In the interest of full-disclosure, let me start by saying that I work at Touch of Gold one or two days a month.  It's a great part-time job, and they're actually looking for another part-time sales associate.  It's not a lot of hours, but it's a great time playing with jewelry all day!!
Touch of Gold carries fine jewelry as well as collections like Kameleon (my personal favorite- I love sparkles!!)  and Troll Beads.

Come on in and visit me! I'll be working the weekend of the Troll Beads Trunk Show (September 22nd-25th, but come in before the 25th because the Occoquan Arts and Crafts Festival is the 25th/26th and you will have to shuttle over instead of parking by the store!)


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Contact PWC Moms

Thanks for visiting PWC Moms! If you would like to share an event (it's free!) that families or children in Prince William County would love, you can add it yourself!! Just click "calendar" at the top of this page, and then use the "propose an event" feature found right by the date.  At this point, I get so many requests  for calendar additions that for me to keep up, I ask businesses to help by adding their own events.  I'm happy to help if you encounter problems or have questions, though!! If it's just too much work for you, I do add events for my paying sponsors.

If you're interested in being a giveaway sponsor, or you'd like PWC Moms to do a review of your business, please email me HERE.

If you are interested in finding out about advertising with PWC Moms either on our homepage or our calendar page, please email me HERE.

Other Sites We Love!

Headed to another county?

You can find us at Washington Family Magazine, or, you can visit our friends at Kid Trips: Northern Virginia, who have an entire book of fun family finds in our area!

Need some grown-up time? Check out Real Housewives of Northern Virginia! 

Trying to save a little cash, or want the scoop on local giveaways and deals? BeltwayBargainMom has you covered!

Your source for local news-  PotomacLocal.com

Live in Prince William County? Then you should check out Prince William Living and Haymarket Lifestyle, who also publish me in their family fun sections.

Need info on Prince William County Parks? It's HERE.

Thanks, also, to our previous guest posters.  You can read more about them at their websites! (These are in alphabetical order by first name.  That seemed fair? I love you all!!)
Adrienne Vose, Move More Fitness
Angela Pounders, The Master's Daughter
Jeff's Wife, Surviving After SUDEP
Kamber Petty, NoVA Outdoors
Lisa, Workout Mommy
Molly, Stilettos and Diapers
Nicole Dash, Tiny Steps Mommy
Samantha, Happily a Housewife
Sarah Meisenhelter, The Wild Ruby
Sarah Young, Healthwise Home
Winter Harris, Christ Centered Home Magazine


Review: Barefoot Books

When Prince William County Mom and Barefoot Books Rep Liz Garland emailed me about featuring her business, she told me to start by picking a book.

Which was, seriously Liz, a little bit daunting!

I went to the Barefoot website thinking that it would be the standard books that you see at each and every school bookfair, but I was quickly surprised (and overwhelmed) by the options that were so different. 

I think my favorite thing about Barefoot books is that there is a little something in here for everyone, and the books are produced with such care and quality they are truly heirloom worthy (your grandchildren will love these books) and present worthy (because I doubt that the child you give them to will have anything like them).  With my educational background in comparitive religion, I loved that there was a book of blessings of many faiths- I love teaching my children that we're all more similar than we are different, even if we subscribe to a particular faith (Barefoot's Book of Blessings).  There are also classic tales from many of the world's cultures.  I also really appreciated that there are so many offerings that are forgotten classics, at least at our house.  It seems like even our bookshelf has become overrun by a certain someone whose name rhymes with Dalt Wisney- books about talking animals, cars, jungle creatures, and bugs have taken the place of some of the fairy tales that really should be providing a basic foundation for any child- if not for their moral, for providing a basic cultural background (or maybe I've just been reading a little too much E.D. Hirsch lately.  Either way.)

Back to Barefoot.  As I continued to look through my options, I ran across beautiful books on Pirates, Princesses- complete with dress up outfits!- and even a host of selections for families living natural/health focused lifestyles, including Vegetarian Children's Cookbooks and even books on Yoga.

When I finally decided I couldn't pick, Liz asked me the ages of my children (2, 4, and 6- one girl, two boys) and said she'd be able to help me pick the perfect book.  With a vacation coming up that included a loooong road trip, Liz expertly picked The Three Billy Goats Gruff (one of those forgotten fairy tales!) which came with a beautiful book AND a CD.  This was brilliant! Because I am one of those HORRIBLE mothers that refuses to have a DVD player in her car (and yes, I know that's a gateway to child abuse, my 6 year old tells me all.the.time about how unfair his life is), books are a favorite pasttime in the car.  However, since daddy couldn't come on this trip with us and Grandma gets a little car sick, having this book on CD was great! (The only downside was that I should have, apparently, bought one of the gift packs, because we listened to The Three Billy Goats Gruff from roughly Richmond, Virginia to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Mommy was then ready for more options!!)

Barefoot Books gets a huge thumbs up from me, not only because it saved me on our car trip, but because its local distributor setup allows me to support a fellow local mom, and because of their diverse options.  It also gets a thumbs up from all three of my children- for a grand total of 4 thumbs up from PWC Moms. 

Distributor Liz Garland is graciously giving away a free item of choice ($14.99 or under, please) to a lucky PWC Moms reader.  To win, you may leave a comment here, and also, follow the link below to Liz's Facebook Fanpage and leave a comment there.  (That's 2 chances to win) In your comment either place, please tell us your favorite book from the Barefoot Books website.(Giveaway is closed)

Thanks Liz, and Barefoot Books for this great giveaway!

Click HERE to see Liz's Barefoot Books fanpage.


Kids In Motion

Admittedly, our family needs a 12 step program for Kids in Motion. We've had our oldest's birthday parties there since he turned one.  Why? Beyond the fact that it's one of a few places where you can invite the whole class (a must at our school since they don't hand out contact information and won't give invitations to only select kids), I look like a rockstar because everyone's kids go home tired and take a nap.  A long nap.  What parent wouldn't love that?

Kids in Motion offers such a variety of programs, too! We've used their Moms Day Out/Summer Camp, which is an awesome way for you and a friend to sneak out for a quick pedicure in the middle of the day and live out your "ladies who lunch" fantasies, even if it's just for a few hours.
Of course, the mainstay of Kids in Motion is open play.  It's the perfect place to spend a rainy, overly hot, or snowy day- and a great treat when it's nice outside, too!! If you've never been, it's critical that you BRING SOCKS for everyone, although they usually have a stock there for purchase, too.  In Room 1, there is an inflatable obstacle course, a wooden castle structure, a large inflatable slide, a large inflatable bouncy house, and several smaller Little Tykes style slides and wall-mounted games perfect for younger siblings.  Room 2 has a large wooden train, another LT style slide castle, a large inflatable basketball game, an enormous inflatable obstacle course race, and a 2 sided inflatable slide.  While the larger inflatables can be difficult for toddler to navigate, parents are welcome to help them (with socks on, of course) and owner Linda Bradshaw has really put a lot of thought into making sure younger siblings have fun, even if they're too tiny to self-navigate the obstacle courses.

One final note- if you don't have a trusted babysitter in the area, Kids in Motion also offers an awesome Kids Night Out for ages 3-12.
Updates, July 2011
Pros: Fun, indoor playplace that always tires the kids out.  Birthday parties not in your house!!
Cons: Price increases make this a special event rather than an "any old time" event
Caution: Depending on who's working the day you go, you may run into some cleanliness issues.  On our last visit there were dirty band-aids stuck to some of the equipment and the bathrooms needed attention.  We've never had that issue before, but I know other moms have, so I'm assuming it depends on the attendant working that day. 


Free (And Super Cheap!) Summer Options 2010

School's (almost) out for summer, and for some of you in private school, you may already be done!  While there are many camps and day activities out there, my favorite are ALWAYS the freebies!! You may have to make a short drive to get to some of them, or register in advance, but it's worth it for the free entertainment for your classmate-deprived children! And hey, you can even bring a friend for the price ;)

1) Regal Cinemas offers FREE G or PG rated movies each Tuesday and Wednesday at 10am.  Get there early to ensure your seat in the movie you want, because they do go quick.  Here's the link for the list of movies and theaters in Virginia, but their website lists participating theaters all over the country, so if you're looking for rainy day options at the beach in North Carolina or visiting Grammy in Nebraska, you can still take advantage of a free day at the movies! In our experience, many but not all of the theaters who participate in this program also offer a discounted kids' snack pack with a juice box, popcorn, and fruit snacks for a few bucks.

2) Like the ambiance of your local lanes? At KidsBowlFree.com  you can sign your children up to bowl 2 free games PER DAY.  Again, summer is roughly 90 days, so that's 180 free games of bowling! Locally our Dale City AMF offers this program, but this is another nationwide option, so if you know you're traveling, be sure to look up a participating alley nearby! Dale City AMF offers a special $2.99 kids meal to "kids club" members during the promotional free bowling period. For $26.95 up to 4 adults can bowl with their children for the 2 games per day, too.

3) Until 7/11, you can refresh yourselves with a sugar rush courtesy of Taco Bell by printing a coupon for their new Limeade Sparklers.  They look like sugar with more sugar, but hey, it's summer!

4) Not totally free- but close- AMC Summer Movie Club is each Tuesday at 10 AM and features a child-friendly movie for $1.  Kids packs are $4, which is slightly less obnoxious than the regular price ;) and all proceeds go to charity.  Click here for the list of movies.

5) Heading to Williamsburg? Be sure to sign up your preschoolers for a free pass to Busch Gardens!  Click here for more details, and don't forget your whole family gets in for free if you're military!

6) Another not totally free but close- for HOME Monday night games, the Potomac Nationals offer $1 tickets and $1 hot dogs.  Take me out to the ballgame! Click here for the schedule and full list of promotions for the summer!

7) An oldie but a goodie is Summer Quest at the local library! Sign up at any local branch and your child can receive freebies for reading books all summer long!

Have more ideas? Be sure to leave a comment below and we'll get it added!


Pick Your Own Stuff!

So it's fruit and veggie season! Yum-o! We love fruits and veggies but there's nothing like standing outside in a field eating a dripping red ripe strawberry to make you really appreciate the bounty of nature :)

In that spirit- here are a few places around (okay, so some are a trip- but worth it!) to pick your own miscellaneous stuff! Special events are noted, too!

1) PYO Lavender- 7 Oaks Lavender Farm- Check out this farm and be sure to breathe deeply!! This farm is scout troop (and any other kind of group) friendly, and also offers Saturday classes for both older and younger students where you can make a wreath, sachet, wand, or even lavender art! Admission is required, but is really the amount you are required to spend on lavender or other products.

2) PYO Berries, Cherries, Gourds, Pumpkins, Etc- Westmoreland Berry Farm- Westmoreland is our family's favorite farm for berries, and not just because of the super cool goat walk! We love the variety and the taste! Located in Oak Grove, this is a drive, but again, we love it here and it's fun to spend a day!

3) PYO Orchard Crops and Berries- Hartland Orchard- We LOVE fresh peaches (and save a bundle buying them direct from the farm!) If you've never had a ripe peach from the top of a tree you are missing out on one of life's greatest pleasures! (Or I'm a big dork, but either way, they're good!) Peaches are fun to pick because you get to use a long pole with a basket on the end, and great for a family picking day because they're easy to use the leftovers up in cobblers, or just slice them and freeze for use later! (But we eat most of ours on the car ride home- no need for a picnic this day!) There's not a lot of distractions at this farm, but the crops are some of the best quality you'll find!

4) PYO Pawpaws, Peaches, and Apples- Mackintosh Fruit Farm- we've never been to this one, but it's on our list for this year.  If there's another farm in our area selling pawpaws I certainly don't know where it is, but we're excited to see how this exotic sounding fruit grows and what it tastes like, especially since George Washington apparently loved them!  This farm is located in the Shenandoah Valley near Skyline Drive and Luray Caverns, so we might just make a weekend of this one and camp overnight!

5) If you are the crunch sort- Oak Hart Farm- is probably the place for you! Using sustainable growing methods, organic practices, and offering camps, canning classes (LOVE that!) as well as pick your own fruits, veggies and flowers, this place sounds like a granola paradise (and I mean that in a very good way!)

6) If you're looking for a family-friendly experience, it has to be- Great Country Farms- with a lot to do besides just picking, as well as fun events like a Marshmallow Harvest and Egg Hunt around Easter, a Strawberry Festival each Memorial Day Weekend, and Father's Day Fish Out (just to name a few) there's tons of fun and special events at this Farm!

7) Another new one on our radar- Ticonderoga Farms- is on our list for sure because it's located in Chantilly and boasts a few fun activities as well as pick your own veggies.  We'll definitely be hitting this farm at some point in July when they open for PYO.


Worth Traveling For

Not liking the options here? Here are a few things around the Metro area that are worth leaving Prince William County for!

**$2 Tuesdays at University Mall Theatre in Burke
 On Tuesdays (all day and all night, too!) Tickets, small popcorns, small drinks, and candy boxes all sell for $2 each! The movies have usually been out a little longer, but it's still a great deal! Check their schedule at www.universitymalltheatres.com.  

**Clemyjontri Park 
(6317 Georgetown Pike McLean, Virginia 22101) is a playground experience like no other.  Not only does this park have a fabulous carousel with rides for only $1.50, access is free to this completely accessible park, designed so that children with varying physical and mental abilities can play side by side.  Another bonus is that if you have a child who's running and one still in a stroller, you'll be able to chase your child around every structure at the park.  This one is definitely worth the ride!

**The Children's Museum of Richmond
(2626 West Broad Street Richmond, VA 23220) This fantastic children's museum is really more of an exploratory play space with tube slides, donated areas for fixing cars, banking, teaching, picking apples, making art and more.  There are also frequent special events, so be sure to check out their website before you go. (http://www.c-mor.org/)  The one gripe I have about this place is the price- it's not cheap at $8 per person (and yes, mom and dad have to shell out for passes, too).  Under 2's are free, though, and there is a special area just for the toddler set.  In addition, no "unaccompanied adults" are allowed in without a full staff escort- which means there's no one there without children, a nice safety touch in my book. 

**The National Building Museum
Seriously? Yes!! This museum is great because it's not on the top of every tourist in the world's to-do list! Plus, they have a Building Zone full of soft lego blocks, hard hats, tools, a house, and more that your child can enjoy.  On the weekends, expect a waiting list, but most weekdays you can walk right in.  There are frequent special events and building projects (see the schedule at http://www.nbm.org/), and for a $5 donation your child can check out a tool kit to help them explore the museum (free admission) more fully.