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.