Farmers Markets in PWC & CSAs Options

You all apparently love farmer's markets as much as me! Which is great! They're super fun for kids to enjoy, and they keep money local, which I'm all about.

Here's the skinny:
1) Occoquan Farmers Market (Saturdays 8-12 from April 23-October 29).  This is a smaller market that meets under the Occoquan Bridge.  Merchants sell pies, empanadas, salad dressing, dog biscuits, baked goods, crabcakes, and then there are 4 listed produce vendors.  I don't eat seafood, but Carrie over at Touch of Gold LOVES her some crabcakes when they're there!

2) Dale City Farmers Market (Sundays 8-1 from April 4-November 21st).  This is the larger of the two options in Woodbridge.  It meets in the commuter lot next to the Center Plaza Giant (intersection of Minnieville and Dale).  If they have a website, I surely can't find it, but from years past, there is everything from soup to nuts, so to speak.  Kettle Corn, baked goods, jams, jellies, produce, flowers, plants, meat, eggs (very limited supply last year- so get there at 8 if you want them, or pre-buy them the week before), and even sorbet.  Fair warning about the sorbet- the guy calls it the Holy GraEL of Sorbet and if you've never read "The DaVinci Code" it's okay, because he's going to talk your ear off about the holy gra-el and why he spells it that way.  You've been warned :)

3) Thursday Manassas Farmers Market (Thursdays 7-1 from March 31st-November 3) The Thursday version of the Manassas Farmers Market appears to be 1/2 the size of Saturday, which makes sense.  It includes baked goods, flowers, several produce markets, poultry, honey, angus beef, soap, beef, lamb, and eggs.  Westmoreland produce comes, and we love to go Berry Picking there :)

4) Saturday Manassas Farmers Market (Saturdays 7:30-2:30 from April 2-October 29) more hours and more vendors than Thursday! BBQ Sauce, baked goods, produce from several vendors, coffee, seafood, salsa, chocolate, poultry, honey, doll clothes, dry mixes, dairy, kettle corn, soap, sauces, beef, lamb, goat cheese, and confections.

5) Nokesville Farmers Market (Saturdays from 8-12 from 3rd Saturday in May through September) This market is cool because it's local-only, which is very neat.  It's also completely volunteer run.

6) Gainesville Smart Market (Saturdays from 9:30-1:30, no start/end dates on the website) This one appears to be super heavy on food items from around Virginia.  Hummus, turkish delite, pasta, goat cheese, chocolate, milk, hot sauce, cookies, pet treats, wine, bbq, emu, meat and salsa.


If you want your food pre-picked out and delivered, here are some CSA Share options that deliver to our area:

1) Olin Farms CSA (delivers to Moms Apple Pie Bakery in Occoquan) with options ranging from $165 for a winter share to $1,000 for an all-season share

2) Bull Run Mountain Vegetable Farm (FYI- Bull Run Mountain is what gets school cancelled for us 90% of the time when it snows, so a thanks to them ;) for all those snow days!) delivers to the Manassas Train Dept (near the Harris Pavillion) with options ranging from $440-$1175 with add ons for fruit and eggs available.

3) Graceland Farms (delivers to the Dale City Farmers Market) offers shares for $440 for "the season", optional winter-add ons for $100, and another option to add local cheese.

Hope this helps!!


Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

On Saturday, we had a few extra friends hanging around the house, so we packed everyone up to check out Madame Tussaud's in DC.  Our crew included one mom and 3 first graders.

Madame Tussaud's is very easy to get to.  There's easy metro access, but we ended up driving (395-14th street-F street) and were there in about 30 minutes, including parking.  There's a $10 a day parking garage right across the street, but there's also lots of on-street parking available if you go on a day that isn't full of Cherry Blossom visitors trying to beat the snow!

When you enter Madame Tussaud's, there's a line to pay, then a few steps down to a brief video where they demonstrate how the wax figures are made.  You then head to the left (I'm mentioning this because I was a little unclear on where to go!)  and go through a few halls of presidents.  Several of the exhibits have a way to interact with the figures- for exmaple, George Washington has a "boat" that you can sit in and don a Washington-esque coat for a pictures.  Lincoln (depicted sitting in the balcony at Ford's theatre) also has a coat you can wear for your picture.  Bring. Your. Camera. If your kids are anything like the kids I took, you will hear "take my picture!! take my picture!!!" around 3,000 times :)

After you move through the presidents, there's a spot at the end where they take commemorative pictures in the "White House" or with the "Obamas", and then you move into some historical figures.  There's Rosa Parks and a bus background, Martin Luther King Junior, Malcom X, and also some historical figures in with the presidents like Jackie O, the Apollo astronauts, Winston Churchill, and others.

The final two sections are famous athletes and movie stars/singers.  The little girl that we brought was excited to point out the Jonas Brothers.  I took a picture with my future ex-husband, George Clooney ;) and my only complaint was probably that there was a Robert Pattinson who wasn't sparkly, and there was no shirtless Taylor Lautner.  Just saying.

The kids I took (all 7 years old) had a really great time.  They were super excited about people they recognized (Washington, Lincoln, Obama, Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, Jonas Brothers, astronauts) and anything that had an interactive component. They were also happy to have me take their picture with anyone who they thought looked cool.  I think that the ideal age to take here would be 9 or older, just because they would have exposure to more of the historical people and would be more excited to see them, and would be able to read the fun-facts more independently.  That said, I was totally happy with our trip and my 7's had a great time!! Fair Warning: The end of the tour dumps you into the gift shop, so be prepared to stop any wandering little hands.

Madame Tussauds was definitely a fun trip for us!! If you're looking to go and would like to save a little money on your trip, you have two options: 1- order online. You'll save 15% off the regular price.  Or, if it's still March 27th, check out our facebook ticket giveaway!


An Interview with Jamey Long

We were able to meet Jamey Long through 3 Story Tellers monthly book club.  My son and my friend's daughter are quite confident he's the coolest person on earth.  His book series about "A Possum" is very adorable.  Jamey is also available to come and speak to school groups/classes/writing workshops.  One of the coolest parts about the books is that they come with free audio downloads so you can put them on your (or your child's) mp3 or ipod.  It works really great in the car!

PWC Moms: How did you start writing?
I started writing for one of my kindergarten students when I was teaching at
HCA (Holy Cross Academy) in Fredericksburg.  Her father was hit by a car
around Christmas time and passed away on Valentine's Day.   He never
regained consciousness so she never got to talk to her dad again.  I wanted
to give her some good memories of the holidays and wrote a Christmas story
for her.  She loves animals and I loved possums so I wrote her A Possum's
Christmas Tale and Opie was born.  The kids liked the book so much they
wanted more stories so I started writing one for every holiday to tell
children about the true meaning behind what we celebrate.  I then moved on
to important events in history.

PWC Moms: Why a possum?
I grew up in Kansas and one morning something big got between me and the
front door when I was getting the paper for my parents before school.  It
was dark and I could not see what it was.  They put out a trap and brought
me home early from school later in the day.  It turned out that it was a
hungry possum.  I have been fascinated with them ever since.  I have moved
several times, to new states and houses.  One has always ended up coming to
my home no matter where I was at.  In fact, when I started going to Grace
Baptist Church, one even crossed in front of my car before service going
into the woods.

PWC Moms: What's your favorite subject to write about?
I liked all of my subjects.  I think the holidays are important so the
children remember the real meaning behind things.  History is also
important.  One of my most favorite events in history is the Titanic.  When
my book, A Possum's Night on the Titanic, was completed, I sent it off to
Dr. Ballard (he found the ship in 1985).  He sent me back an autographed
photo and note saying "Good luck on the writing efforts" and that he really
enjoyed my book.  I donate a dollar of every book sold to the Titanic
Historical Society

PWC Moms: What's your favorite part about writing for kids?
I like seeing them learn.  My parents tried to get me interested in reading,
writing, and history.  It was very hard for me to care at a young age.  The
older I get, I see the importance in it and believe that children should
learn it at an early age so they can pass it on to their kids one day.  I
really enjoy when they tell me they have seen Opie around town or on one of
their adventures.  Opie has become a very busy little possum and it is nice
to see that he has found a warm home in the hearts of children.

Thanks to Jamey Long for taking the time to talk to us! If you want to see more of Opie, you can check out his website at http://Opiepossum.tatepublishing.net/


Summer Camps- A Few Highlights

Registration is now OPEN for most camps, including the Prince William Park Authority Camps, of which there are FAR too many for me to list here.  Try their website instead. If you have more ideas, please let me know and I'll add them to the list!! 

1- Horses
Twin Oaks in Chantilly offers both Summer and Spring Break Camps.  They're not as expensive as I thought they'd be for horseback riding, although definietly not cheap, and they look fun! Riders do not need to have any experience.  Ages 5 and up.

Criswood Farm in Manassas (Near Harris Teeter and the Muslim Center of NVA) will be offering camps every week of the summer for ages 8 and up.

2-Traditional Camp Activity Style 
Adventure Links offers both overnight and day camps out of Manassas and Centreville.  They include field trips, rock climbing, sailing, camping, caving, and more. Beginning at age 8 and going through age 18.

A little less adventurous but still traditional- Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation Association offers a camp for ages 6-12 with field trips, crafts, swimming and sports. Fees vary slightly for LRPRA members and non-members, but not enough that you couldn't sign up with a non-Lake Ridge friend. Both Full Day and Half Day options are available.

3- Younger Children
Gymboree (including the Gymboree in Woodbridge near BJs) will offer Bubble Camp every Friday for ages 3-5 from 9-3.  Children must be "potty independent" to register. Children who register will also be eligible to attend free open gyms on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Kids N Motion will again be offering its camp for ages 3-12.  CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE TO BE POTTY TRAINED FOR THIS CAMP!! I know I always have at least one person looking for that feature!! Both the Woodbridge and Fredericksburg campuses will also offer a spring break camp program that is now registering, as well. This camp is also great because you can register for just 1 day a week all the way up to 5.

4- Older Students Only
GW Community School is offering an INSANELY expensive but very neat looking Robotics Camp for students in High School.  It's in Springfield, but a very cool offering that a parent asked me to find.

George Mason University is offering Babysitter Training at the Freedom Center (PWC). Ages 11-15.

The Freedom Center (PWC) is offering an exercise-themed Teen Dance Party Camp for ages 8-15. Off the same link, George Mason University is offering an intensive Dance Program for ages 16-22 at the Fairfax Campus.

George Mason University is offering Forensics Camp for High Schoolers ages 13-18 at their Fairfax Campus with Forensics faculty members.

George Mason University offers spots in a Summer Writing Enrichment Program for rising 5th-12th graders.  You MUST APPLY FOR A SPOT IN THIS PROGRAM.  Applications are available beginning late March/early April. (Fairfax Campus)

The Potomac Arts Academy is offering Teen Guitar.

5- Academic Enrichment
6- Computers and Electronics
George Mason University offers computing for rising 3rd-8th graders who struggle with writing skills.  The program combines writing skills with computer skills. (Fairfax)

7- Science and Mathematics
The Freedom Center of GMU (PWC) offers both Little Scientist (ages 3-4) and Scientist (ages 6-12 in 2 groups) day camps.  Several sessions are available. Parent participation is required in the Little Scientist Camp.

8- Fine and Performing Arts
ACTING- George Mason University (Fairfax) offers Acting (ages 5-18), Summer Musical Showcase (ages 7-12), Advanced Actors Showcase (ages 12-18).  The Freedom Center (same link) is offering Lights Camera Action for ages 5-8, Drama KinderKids for ages 4-5, DramaKids for ages 6-10,

ACTING- The Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory in Manassas is offering a summer drama program for ages 5 and up through Pied Piper Theatre. Theatre Express!, a performing arts day camp, is available for ages 8-12; Footlights and Fairy Tales provides fun for ages 5-7; and Will Shakespeare’s Excellent Adventure offers unique opportunities for youth 13-18.

ARTS- The Hylton Performing Arts Center (PWC) offers integrated arts programs both AM and PM for ages 3-5 and 5-7.

ARTS- Lorton Workhouse Center for the Arts will be offering summer camps for ages 6 and older in the fine arts throughout the summer.

COOKING- The Freedom Center (PWC) offers cooking camps for ages 4-13 in 3 age groups.

DANCE- The Freedom Center (PWC) offers Dance Camp for ages 5-12. They are also offering Jazz for all ages.

DANCE- Linda's Ballet Workshop plans to offer 2 weeklong sessions in July and August.  These 3 day a week camps are half day and available to children ages 4-12 in 3 age group brackets.

9- Sports Camps
Gymnastics World in Lake Ridge will be offering both full day with before/after care (6am-8pm) and half day camps for ages 4 and up.

Apollo Gymnastics will be offering week long camps beginning in July for ages 5-12.  Half day and full day options are available.

Challenger Sports SOCCER camp for ages 3-14 will be held at the Lake Ridge Fields the last week of June and first week of August and throughout August at the Dale City Rec Center.  Half day and full day options are available.

Karate Camp from Jason Yi's TKD College  is a full day program for ages 5 and up.  After care is available.  The program is normally $219 a week, but there is an unspecified "Early Registration Discount" if you sign up before school ends.

Swimming Camps from Swim Kids are available throughout the summer in locations all over the greater PWC area.  Camps are NOT even half day, but they are a great way to make sure that your child can be confident in the water this summer. (NEVER leave your child unattended in the water)

For other swimming options- not truly camps, but definitely a "keep you busy" option- try the local swim teams, the Amberjax, Frogs, Barracudas, QDD, and Flying Ducks