Question: Do We Ever REALLY Leave High School?

I recently joined a mommy group. This was kind of a big deal for me because I'd sworn them off in lieu of the more organically occurring relationships that start happening when your kids start Elementary School.  However, my 3 year old wasn't getting all the interaction that I wanted, and when I started homeschooling I lost a lot of my public school mom friends because we didn't see each other any more. 

I need Moms Night Outs.  I just do.  

The group I found ended up being an awesome group of girls, but joining a "Mommy Group" was hard for me, because before this I'd had SEVERAL bad experiences because Mommy Groups, in my experience, are like the high school cafeteria, but with slightly different labels.

1- The Crunchy Ones
These mamas are co-sleeping, attachment parenting, boob-slinging pros and while they do not discipline their own children for fear of repressing their spirits, they seem very concerned with other people's children acting in ways that are not "respectful of Rivyr's space".  There is typically a Militant Crunchy Mom who, on at least one occasion, has made a new mommy cry because she cannot physically breastfeed, and therefore is obviously going to give her baby cancer with that awful formula she's using.  

2- The Popular Ones
In the movies, there's always poetic justice about the former cheerleaders who get fat and ugly. Not so at mommy group! (Well, at least for enough of them that they get their own group!) These women are perfectly coiffed and toned at all times, and even at an 8am playgroup, their makeup is fantastic and their brand-name track suit is pink with sparkles.  They make time for manicures, highlights, and facials, and just like in high school, everyone wants to be friends with them. For the mom that has lost both her figure and her self-identity, these women can be torture.

3- The Type A Overachievers
They're planners and do-ers and go-ers.  They probably have a paper planner AND a fully-updated iPhone/Blackberry.  They know EVERYTHING and they've been EVERYWHERE and they're coordinating a bake sale for starving African Children, nursing a baby, and running their own business from their mobile device while leaving one hand free for their toddler, who, by the way, speaks 941 words flawlessly, all of which she has recorded in her impeccably kept and award winning scrapbooks. Did you buy that pan of brownies? Because she stayed up all night and made goldfish crackers from scratch in the shape of each child's favorite fish.  

4- The Partyliners
If gossip were an olympic sport, these girls would have a gold medal for every year since 2004.  Frequently also the most willing to listen, they're also the one everyone goes to when they want to know the scoop on why Shelby was crying into her coffee last playdate.  They're not exactly sure where their child is and what they're doing, but they know exactly who's husband is "working late hours, ifyouknowwhatimean".  

5- The Hanging By a Threads
These women just need a hug.  They have at least a newborn, who has colic, they've not brushed their hair since about the time said child was born, they're wearing something with baby vomit and possibly cheetos cheese smears because that's all they can get their preschooler to eat for breakfast.  They will not accept help, they will not take a happy little blue pill, and they will not enroll their eldest in preschool because THEY.ARE.FINE.

6- The Mommy
She's about being a mom.  She reads Dooce, Rants from Mommyland, has a paid Our-Kids.com subscription, a Disney Family Magazine subscription, and gets RSS feed updates from Certifikid every 2 seconds.  She loves being a mom.  She's super mom.  She's got family-people on the back of her car, matching stationary, and her kids are dressed to match.  She's not saying that moms who work don't love their kids, she's just saying that, well, if you REALLY want to be home, you'll make the time.

7- There's probably more....but it's late.

Basically, as Allison Pearson puts it: "Take one nice liberal woman who prides herself on being nonjudgmental. Now give that woman a baby. In no time at all, she could teach the Taliban a thing or two about rigid intolerance."

Really, though, the problem isn't that we've all turned nuts.  The problem is that, no matter what group you fit into (and I can see myself in any of these, except the Popular Ones, on any given day), what we all really want is for someone to look at us, give us a hug, and say "Lady, you are doing an awesome job at something that is freaking hard.  There's so many options, so many pitfalls, and so many people that want to judge you, and I just want you to know that I agree with you and you're doing it right."

We're all really just trying to justify ourselves as moms, and because of that we have a tendency to seek like-minded company so that we can feel like we're part of a group that is "doing it our way" so we know that we're "not totally messing our kids up".  

I think that, now on Team Varsity Mom with an 8 year old, 5 year old, and 3 year old, my most recent foray into the mommy group will be more successful and less hurtful than in the past because, unlike before, I realize that the popular mom I want to be is totally jealous of crunchy mom's ability to nurser her children and secretly hurting inside that she can't.  Crunchy mom, as much as she's ohm-ing on the sofa, she's exhausted from night nursing and co-sleeping and she just wants a night off, too.  The Mommy mom? She is totally uncomfortable some days with her new role that took her out of a job that defined her for a full decade and now she's trying to "fake it till she makes it".

We're all trying to get through the days, and frequently the long nights.  We all want someone to tell us that our kid isn't going to end up on the 6:00 news saying that he shot everyone from the top of the belltower because his mom didn't feed him organic produce.  We want to feel supported. 

At some point, you really do become more self-secure, but until that happens, let me be the first to tell you that if you're not beating your child, you feed them multiple times a day, and you don't call them names and tell them you love them, you're doing a great job.  Your kid is going to be okay.   And so are you, and so is that equally insecure mom sitting across from you that you wish you could be.  If you read your child a book every once in awhile and make sure they get hugs, you're a freaking Rock Star.  We're all in this together, and even when we're militantly different to the point of inadvertently insulting each other, we're all very much the same.

And, by the way, we did leave high school.  Sometimes it's just hard to remember you can pick your tray up and talk to anyone you want.  If you're struggling to find a supportive group as a mom, hang in there, because they will come, and probably not in the form you expected.

PS- If you were at a playgroup with me and I made you miserable due to my membership in any of these groups, let me be the first to say Mea Culpa.  


A Few Helpful Hints from Plumberologist

Samantha Baldwin
Dec 20, 10:24 AM
This post is part of our series: 10 Things Women Should Know About Plumbing.
When washing dishes or cooking dinner, some people have a tendency to throw any and every last thing down the garbage disposal. If you are one of those people, STOP DOING IT RIGHT NOW! You are shortening the life of your disposal and setting yourself up for an expensive repair.

FYI: Garbage Disposals Can Only Take So Much

During the holidays, plumbers get more calls for clogged or broken garbage disposals than any other service, because people don’t realize there are limits to what can go down them. Garbage disposals were built for remnants of food left on plates, not full meals. Their blades aren’t very sharp. They are only meant to grind up small bits of soft foods. The key word there being: small. A plate full of mash potatoes is as bad for a disposal as a plate full of chicken bones. Put either one in, and you’ll be calling a plumber because you broke the blades.

Which Foods are Bad for my Disposal?

The rule of thumb for foods that should go down a disposal: anything that doesn’t dissolve quickly in water. So, right off the bat, grease and anything oily, like gravy or salad dressing, is out. You’re probably wondering why not, doesn’t it just flow right down the drain? No, it doesn’t. Even if it’s hot and fluid when you pour it in the drain, it’s going to cool almost instantly and coat the inside of your garbage disposal and drains. The coating will trap anything solid you put down the drain and before you know it, you’ll have a clog.
A sewer pipe that is more than 50% blocked with rancid, orange, black and grey gelatinous grease.Now, your drains are going to end up coated with oily deposits one way or another from the soaps and detergents you use. (Still, there’s no reason to help the process along by dumping greasy foods down there.) The oil traps anything solid, so things like coffee grinds, egg shells, and nuts are also a no-go for the garbage disposal. That’s because any one of these will cause granular waste, a.k.a. little bits of hard stuff that are going to get stuck,  causing your drains to slow and eventually clog.
The foods that’ll probably surprise you that you REALLY shouldn’t put down the drain are really starchy foods like desserts, potatoes, and cereals. These are actually some of the most damaging foods you can put down the drain. Why? Well, in water, starches turn into sugars and sugars are sticky… really sticky. In a disposal, if that sticky residue builds up on the blades they’ll stick together and fail.

How Not To Clean A Garbage Disposal

Rule #1: NEVER clean a garbage disposal with chemical drain cleaners.
Drain cleaners are usually made to stick to the insides of pipes so they can dissolve whatever else is stuck there. Remember that sticky = bad for garbage disposals. So sticky cleaners = very bad. You could end up having to fish all the highly caustic chemicals out by hand, which we promise you will not enjoy having to do.
Drain cleaners are also highly, HIGHLY caustic. Most are powerful enough to actually dissolve the inner parts of your garbage disposal. It’s not like they’re going to melt the machine our from under your sink. You’ll likely get away with using them for a while. But, they are going to make all the gears and fittings just a little bit smaller every time you use them. Over time, the parts will start to loosen and before you know it, gears are slipping, breaking and your disposal isn’t working.

The Right Way To Clean A Garbage Disposal

The best way to clean your garbage disposal is to simply run cold soapy water through it.
  1. Put the drain stopper in.
  2. Fill up the sink with cold water.
  3. Dump in a bunch of dish detergent.
  4. Mix it up so all the water is soapy.
  5. Throw in a handful of ice cubes to help clean the blades.
  6. Then, pull the plug and hit the on switch.
The soap is mild enough to gently clean without harming the inner workings of the machine. If the drain still smells a little funky after you finish running the soap through it, you can throw some citrus fruit peels in with a few more ice cubes.

In the end, your garbage disposal is just like your car…

The better you take care of it, the longer it will run. Anything bigger than a “scrap” should go in the garbage. The only thing you should clean it with is cold soapy water, ice and maybe a citrus peal. Follow these two simple rules and your disposal should give you years of reliable service.

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 Read more…
Samantha Baldwin
Dec 12, 12:00 PM
This post is part of our series: 10 Things Women Should Know About Plumbing.
If you have little ones, you have little toys. Kids love playing with their toys anywhere and everywhere but when G. I. Joe wants to go for a swim in the toilet, there’s more to worry about than just germs.

Toys: A Leading Cause Of Clogged Sewer Lines

A sewer pipe that is more than 50% blocked with rancid, orange, black and grey gelatinous grease.Sewer pipes clog when their insides become coated with oily deposits that in turn trap solid objects that try to make their way down the drain. The bigger the object that gets stuck, the more surface area the oily deposits have to stick to, the faster the sewer lines end up clogging.
Toys that go down the toilet are a big help to the clogs. They’ve got lots of surface area for the grease to stick to. Once they’re embedded in the grease, they’ll start snagging all the other things that go down the drain, like toilet paper and tampons, and before you know it, your pipe is clogged and raw sewage is backing up into your basement. Once that happens, the 99 cent toy you bought with their happy meal is now costing you thousands of dollars to clean up after.
So even if your toilet isn’t immediately clogged, a child flushing a toy down the drain is still a big problem. So what now? Well, the good news is, your toilets, sinks, showers and tubs are all going to keep working for the time being. The bad news is, if a toy is stuck in your sewer line, nothing short of hydro-jetting is going to move it out.

A Plumbing Snake Just Isn’t Gonna Cut It

plumbing snake, which is essentially a long wire with a spatula on the end of it, will scrape the toy off the inside of the pipe once it becomes stuck, but it won’t push it down the line. You’ll likely have to have the line snaked several times before the toy makes it to the county sewer where the pipes are larger and a clog is the county’s problem, not yours.
The Spartan Warrior Sewer Hydro-Jetter being used by a Frugal Rooter Plumber to clean a residential sewer line.Hydro-jetting, which uses high-pressure water to scour the inside of the pipe will push everything down the pipe, will clear the toy all the way down on the first try. It costs more than snaking the line, but it gives you the benefits of knowing the line is completely clear and, because it cleans all the greasy deposits off the inside of the pipe, it will actually have the long term benefit of preventing future clogs. The one downside to hydro-jetting is there is the potential for it to backfire, almost literally. If a clog is big enough, it may take the jetter time to break through it. With 18 gallons a minute flowing into the clogged sewer pipe, the time it takes the jetter to break through may be too long, and all the water it shoots down the pipe can very rapidly back up into your house. A good plumber will actually have you sign a waiver acknowledging the potential for this to happen.
In the end, the #1 rule when it comes to children’s toys and toilets is prevention. Once the toy is down the drain, you’re stuck. Keep the toys, and any other foreign objects for that matter (including feminine sanitary objects), out of toilets at all cost.
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Samantha Baldwin
Dec 5, 4:43 PM
This post is part of our series: 10 Things Women Should Know About Plumbing.
A blonde woman is singing, using the detached shower head as a microphone, while washing her hair in the shower.Every girl has been in the shower, and realized after a minute or two that they’re standing in a foot of backed up, soapy water. We’ve also all dealt with the ring that standing water can leave in your tub. When your tub or shower doesn’t drain properly, a lot of things could be wrong, but typically the problem is hair.
Now, a lot of men like to automatically blame a clogged drain on our “girly” locks. Well, that’s not entirely fair. In fact, hair doesn’t have to be long to clog a drain. If the inside of the drain has become coated with soap scum and body oils, it’ll trap any hair that goes down it, no matter how long or short it is.
If you notice your drain is slow to drain, stop. Don’t call your boyfriend, husband or even a plumber yet. First, check and see if it is full of built up hair. Don’t stick a coat hanger down the drain. That can actually make matters worse. They actually make a great tool just for this, called a Zip-It Drain Cleaning tool. You can find it at Lowes and Home Depot. You can even buy it on-line from Amazon.
Once you’ve got the hair out of your drain, you can keep it with a drain hair trap that’ll catch the hair before it gets stuck too far down your drain. And voilĂ , no more clogged drains.


Look! I'm all a legit Mom-Blogger and Stuff

As you may remember from facebook, I got to go to a Real.Live.Mommy.Blogger.Thing!!

Y'all, if there is a swag bag and I get to put on makeup, I will show up at your event.  Make a note of that for your upcoming events where you would like a completely unknown person from the internet to show up at your organization's event.  Swag bag + makeup + no kids= Me there.  Your MOPS group needs a speaker? I'll show up.  PTA meeting? Yup.  There, too.  Seriously.

I was nationally ranked in Model United Nations in high school, people.  I'll even give an impromptu speech on the topic of your choice.  83.4% of statistics are made up on the spot, anyway.  (You can't tell it from the way I write, but I actually do give lovely speeches!)

So...back to the business at hand.  Jessica from A Parent in Silver Spring is who most "location based" mommy bloggers want to be when they grow up.  I am not really a blogger because I (usually) don't subject you all to stories about my day-to-day with kids, and I'm not really all that legit because I don't make money doing this, and at the first event I went to that Jessica was at, someone had to pull me aside and go "CAN! YOU! BELIEVE! PARENTINSILVERSPRINGISHERE!!!!" and I had to smile and nod like I knew.  Then, like an idiot, I met OMGAPARENTINSILVERSPRING!! And even with the warning was totally the idiot that went "um, who?" to her very confident introduction.

So, that was the first time I felt like an uninformed idiot at a mommy blogger event.  It happens a lot.  I like to think of it as reminding me about the first time you show up at a playgroup surrounded by people with a different parenting style that they all know about and you've never heard of.

"Ummm, actually, I don't really read baby books...I figure we'll just pick it up as we go."
"Right. Okay, we're actually late for slurpees and playing with knives."

There was a point here.  Oh! Right.  So, I got to go to another of these fun events (And, they really are fun.  I love meeting all the cool women who are out there sharing their passion and information with the world.) and this time I knew who A Parent in Silver Spring was.  Which was especially good, because she was hosting.
Yup, that's her on the right.  Check.

I met a bunch of very cool bloggers who cover everything from technology to their kids' daily lives.  Oh, and there was a coffee lady.  I loved her.  Yay, coffee!!

So, those were the players.  Bunch of moms, some nice T-Mobile employees who wore pink sparkle santa hats (even the guys), and a bunch of yummy looking food that I did not eat because I am on a perpetually failing diet.  Yay.

This is me, unfortunately sucking my face into my neck while laughing at the poor T-Mobile guy in the pink hat. There were games you could play for chances to win T-mobile devices, which was fun, but let me just say that those people who claim you can "want things into being" are totally right because while I was just meandering and enjoying there were some mommas that WANTED A PHONE!!! NEEDED A PHONE!!! PHONE PHONE PHONE!!

And those women? They totally won! I don't think anyone that won was like me and thinking "huh! that'd be a fun giveaway on my blog!", no- the winners were all HYPER FOCUSED ON WINNING! So, for what it's worth, if you ever go to one of these deals, be FOCUSED and clear with the universe about what you want.
This lady, for example, (love the iPhone in the T-mobile picture? me, too!) won a phone.  I'm smiling in the background, but that's because I'm happy to be alive because she was actually filming the entire time they were doing the drawing and whipped her hand around to film herself screaming.

Y'all, I almost got pimp-slapped by an iPhone.  No joke.  I was ready, though, because my iPhone has a faux-crystal studded case, and I'm pretty sure we could have taken that flimsy see-through one in a fight....

Actually, probably not.  I break my screen a lot and my husband would've been ticked.  But, it would have been funny.

Me: "And then I was all "Surprise Jazz Hands!" 
Blogger Across from me: "I am in awe of how ginormous you look next to me, from the fluff of your hair to the height to the massive girth! Did your mom put miracle grow in your cheerios?"

So, in the end, being as I am an Apple girl, I thought that I would go to this T-Mobile thing and pick up my swag bag (which was cute!) and leave happy.  I didn't really look at the phones, to be completely honest, because my iPhone, as previously mentioned, has a sparkle-case and that's all I really need in a phone carrier.  I drop calls like they're hot, but it's gotten better over the last few years, and my husband picks our carrier without any input from me, so it doesn't really matter how I feel, WE WILL HAVE IPHONES!!


There was this really cool thing called a Springboard that I totally fell in love with.  Here's the text conversation I had with my iHubby about it:

Me: "Dude- I am actually in love with this Tmobile tablet thingy"
iHubby: "Ugh, why?"
Me: "It's kindle-sized, not as bulky as your iPad, and it has flash!"
iHubby: "Flash is dead.  Adobe said they won't maintain it anymore.  Flash website should abandon all hope."
Me: "You're a dork.  This thing is cute."

Whatever.  I still want one.  We don't do Santa, so if one of you could tell him for me, that'd be awesome.

(And yes, I know what you're thinking, I do love him for his suaveness.)

In addition to the Springboard that I love, but am not allowed to have because it doesn't have a lowercase "i" in front of its name, T-Mobile gave us some really great resources, including a list of fun holiday apps and a list of questions to ask if you're buying a mobile device for the holidays.  I was a huge fan of the questions to ask, because my husband obviously has very strong opinions about technology, and buying for him can be intimidating.  I'm putting them in here, too, because I'm really shooting for the longest blog post, ever, which I assume most of you have quit reading because you abandoned all hope, much like flash-based websites.

As mentioned in this post, T-Mobile hosted an event, which I attended.  I was provided with information, a small gift bag, and offered food and/or drink.  There was no requirement of a post, however, I am choosing to write one, and all opinions are my own.  I still love my sparkly iPhone. 

Kid Craft for National Hot Cocoa Day (or tomorrow...whatever)

Mmmm Hot Cocoa.  Did you know that there's a National Hot Cocoa Day? AND it's today!?!? That's right, December 13th is the day to celebrate Hot Cocoa.  (If you missed it, no worries, I hear January 31st is National Hot Chocolate Day....sooo, just hang in there)

Today we made a fun hot cocoa mix that you can give away on your cookie platter or to a friend or teacher assistant.  It would be cute with a gift card attached for a coach or Sunday School teacher, too!  A lot of my "kid" crafts are ones that I've done before that I just make a little simpler for my kiddos (or, in this case, our homeschool friends) to do.

You'll need:
     *A large can of hot cocoa mix (or make your own- we love Alton Brown's although for my crew I sub a pinch of cinnamon for the pinch of cayenne)
     *Candy Canes.  We like to use our broken ones this way.  If it falls off the tree but is still wrapped, it can be repurposed!!
     *White or Dark chocolate chips- the mini chips work especially well.
     *Marshmallows, we like the holiday shapes!
     *12x12 cardstock
     *adhesive (double sided sticky tape and/or glue stick) and/or a stapler
     *Embellishments (paper, stickers, stamps, ribbons)
     *Tie-top bags, plain or seasonal will work just fine!

Step One, Crush:
Crushing things is very fun.  We find that candy pieces tend to be very sharp and break our ziplock bags, so use two to prevent spills.  Don't make the pieces too small, or you won't be able to see them in your bag!

Step Two, Fill:
Start with a 1/4 cup scoop of hot chocolate mix (or more if that's what your recipe calls for) to make one mug of cocoa.  Then layer on chocolate chips, peppermint pieces, and marshmallows.  Yum :)  Secure your bag well.

Step Three, Cut:
You'll need a long piece of cardstock. All of mine were 12x6, but you can use what you have.  Fold at about 1/2 inch from the top and then set your folded edge over the other cut end.  Stand it up on the table to figure out your center folds, which will need to allow for about a 1-1.5 inch "bottom".  Once you do the first one, unfold it to use as a template if your other papers are the same size.
Voila.  She is the beautiful.

Step Whatever We're on, I'm sick of scrolling up- Insert chocolate:
Yup.  Put it inside the now-folded paper.  We stapled, but you don't have to.  On ours, the staple will be covered by ribbon.  You can either put the flap under or over.  Side note- if you're not doing this with kids, and actually have some time, I would make them look like THIS instead of like the ones we did today :)

Step the Next- Seal and Decorate:

Note: I find it helpful to have several pre-cut shapes (like squares) so that kids don't get frustrated.  

Surprise inside! Guess what's inside!! (Gingerbread Marshmallows is a way cooler prize than you get in Cracker Jacks now, anyway!) 

Look! It's a mini one! It's cute, too!

Fun and quick, you could also fill these up with any home-made treat from Russian Tea Mix (but for heaven's sake, put some red-hot candies in!) to peanut brittle.  It makes a simple homemade gift that much more special because you took the time to dress it up!!

Happy Crafting :)  


Giveaway: Piedmont Skate School/ The Haymarket IcePlex

(Shhhhh.....don't tell my son I'm writing this! His mini mites team plays against the Haymarket mini-mites team!! But, if you're on the other side of the county.....well, I understand if you have to play on the other team!)

The Haymarket IcePlex is such a fun story.  From my understanding (PWC Grandpa plays Ice Hockey, too!), "The Lumberyard" was built in a former 84 Lumber warehouse to make sure that the PWHC members could continue to play when the Prince William Ice Forum/Plex/House/Center collapsed.  Once they got going, though, people decided that having a second skate location was a great idea, and even with the original hockey club moving back to Woodbridge, Haymarket is rocking out on its own!  

The complex now houses open skating, hockey, a Synchronized Skating team, learn to skate, and special events!!  One such event coming up is  the "Skate With Us" event on December 19th from 6-8:30pm which will feature performances from local skaters and teams and public skating sessions.  This event will be $7 for adults, $6 for kids, and $3 for skate rental.  

The Piedmont Skate School at Haymarket Ice Plex has a great upcoming program if you've been thinking about skating for your child.  Their Winter Break Series is a 4 day program that will give your child a jump start on lessons, which will start in 2012 with 7 week series beginning January 9th.  The four day program is a great way to make sure your child likes the ice before comitting to a full series of lessons.  (As a former competitive figure skater from a hockey family, let me just say your child should like the ice.  Ice is Nice.)  The Winter Break series includes 4 public session practice passes with skate rental so that your child can really jump start their skills!  It's such a great program, in fact, that Piedmont Skate School at the Haymarket IcePlex would like to have one of your children join them for FREE! 

Entering is super easy- just head to the link for the group lesson calendar (Here) and then leave a message on the facebook wall for the Piedmont Skate School about which session you'd sign your child up for!! This contest will be open through Sunday, December 11th until 7:00pm.

 Look! Even tiny, adorable cows can skate!! 

Skating, whether it's freestyle, recreational, or hockey, is a great sport for kids. It keeps them moving, helps with balance and coordination, and the sense of accomplishment from moving up to the next level is great for self-esteem.  If you've never put your child on ice, maybe it's time to try!! A 4-day program could be just what you're looking for to try before you sign up for a full session!!

Thanks to Piedmont Skating School and the Haymarket IcePlex for sponsoring this giveaway!! Be sure that you bookmark their website to get the latest updates on public skating, which changes frequently. 

The business in this post provided a giveaway item free of charge to be given to PWCMoms readers in return for this posting.  No other financial arrangements were made.


You're Invited!

Okay, so not really.  But, if it was physically possible to fit all 950some of you into Edgemoor Art Studio, I totally would have.  However, since I can't, I wanted to share a little of my son's birthday party.

I've worked with Ruth, the owner of Edgemoor, quite a bit since my first article on the studio.  However, for full disclosure, I pay for my son's art lessons and paid for his birthday party, at the same price everyone else does.  Which, FYI, is a ridiculously awesome price, but we'll get to that in a second.

Birthday parties at Edgemoor start with the theme of your child's choice.  My son wanted a jungle theme, and he and Ruth spent about 10 minutes discussing what that meant.  The day of the party I was asked to come 30 minutes early to put out my snacks (you can bring whatever you'd like) and make sure that I was "happy with the decorations".

Holy.  Heck.
 Why, yes, I do think that transforming your entire studio into a jungle will do quite nicely for making me and the kiddo happy.  SERIOUSLY? (And, no, it's not just us.  A few weeks ago the studio was covered in black and stars and planets and a few weeks before that there was a red carpet and manequins....these parties are all-out)
Eating area.  With matching jungle-print plates and cups and jungle animals on the table.  Y'all, I didn't do ANY of this, it was just magically there.  I seriously showed up with mini pumpkin pies (my Turkey Day Baby does not like cupcakes) and party favors.
Please do not pay attention to the picture in front of my 3 year old :) We had a lovely lesson on finding the shapes in animals and each child was invited to make their own jungle image.  My baby went with some very contemporary interpretations ;) the older kids made some amazing masterpieces.  We were supposed to do a special keepsake photo project, too, but I am a horrible mother who's currently in a fight with a store that rhymes with Binkos DedHex.  That's all I'm saying.

We also learned about mixing colors, double loading the brush, and more.  The kids had a great time and on their way out, several of them said it was the coolest party, EVER.  Aside from the snacks, the only other thing we brought was the "goodie bag", which we actually got these, but from Michael's on sale of the week, so they were $5 each.  I consider that an awesome deal for goodie bags, you can spend major cash on all the junk that normally goes in them! Plus, these looked super cool :)

The best part? This kickin birthday party was $200.  Seriously.  Read it again, I'll wait.

Did that sink in?

We've had parties a lot of places. None of them have customized, decorated, or engaged with the kids the way that this one did.  With goodie bags and food I spent a total of $310, and that easily could've been less if I wasn't lazy and bought everything pre-made.

We had a great time at our "Arty Party" and I think your child would, too! 


Nutcracker, Sweet!

Planning to take your munchkins to see the Nutcracker this year?  Here are two options:

Gainesville Ballet School- two productions of A Children's Nutcracker Saturday, Dec. 10 at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m .  Both ballets will be performed at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Va.  Ticket prices start at $15.  There is no additional cost for parking, and seats are assigned upon purchase. For more information, contact the studio at (703) 753-5005.  Tickets are available on the studio's web site: www.gainesvilleballetschool.org 

Manassas Ballet Company- The professional dancers of MBT are accompanied by over thirty members of the Manassas Ballet Theatre Orchestra performing the classic Tchaikovsky score.  December 8,  2011 @ 7:30pm, December 9, 2011 @ 7:30pm, December 10, 2011 @ 3:00pm, December 11, 2011 @ 3:00pm. 703-257-1811 or info@manassasballet.org.  Performances take place at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. 



Everyone's looking for the best advertising options in Prince William County.  It's growing rapidly, increasingly influential in Northern Virginia, and a target demographic that people want to attract to their businesses.

Prince William County Moms (PwcMoms.com) is a great way to reach families, and most importantly, mothers, in Prince William County and the surrounding areas, notably Stafford and Fairfax.  We're proud of the work that we do helping families find events, activities, and quality locations in our area, and if you're looking to attract more attention for your business, our advertising options can help you achieve that goal.

You can check out our most recent statistics and learn more about who we are on our statistics sheet.  The statistics provided here are the most recent we've compiled.  We maintain a Klout score of around 61-64, well in the top 5%, in addition to our social media, we also offer apps on both iPhone and Android.

Next, we provide our advertising options and rates for on-page presence.  Our advertisers also receive an introductory blog post, Facebook coverage at least once a month, and free giveaways up to once a month if they so choose. We're also happy to provide additional blog posts featuring your special events, as well as assist you with calendar updates, Twitter coverage, and Facebook updates.

A new option- for those wishing to post an Event Flyer ONLY (no writing involved, just an event post), this can be done for $50.  As a reminder, non-profits can request a post FREE of charge at any time. 

Finally, we offer sponsored posts and giveaways/reviews.  Sponsored posts are content provided by your business which are of interest to our readers and contain an introduction to your business.  They must be mutually agreed upon in both content and length, and are $50, cash or services/product.  

Giveaways can include goods (including tickets) and/or services, and are fairly customizable to your particular business or organization.  Generally speaking, though, they follow two main rules:

  • Minimum value of $50 or enough to cover a family of four with equivalent compensation to PwcMoms.com
  • The recipient of the giveaway must not be required to purchase any goods or services to make use of their prize
If you have questions about a particular giveaway item, however, please contact us, as we understand that some great prizes may not fit this particular mold. 

Finally, due to overwhelming requests for this service, reader meet ups and/or moms nights are available.  However, due to the fact that they vary in length/travel time/effort for me, please contact me with your idea for pricing.  

It is important to know that just because you are compensating me for my time writing does not mean that I waive my right to share my honest opinion about your business or services, because honesty with my readers is what keeps them coming back.  If that makes you nervous, you can read some of my previous reviews under the "Business Reviews" or "Giveaways" sections of this site

If you don't see something that works for you, or if you have a new/different idea, just send us an email.  We're pretty easy to work with and happy to customize a plan that fits your business.
PwcMoms.com believes in being upfront and honest with our readers, and our business partners. We provide public access to our advertising options and recent statistics because that's just how we think it should be done.  We'd love to work with you, and if you have any additional questions you can contact us any time via email.


Review: Bull Run Festival of Lights

We hit the Bull Run Festival of Lights for the second year this year, and I wanted to pass along a few notes and tips.
The Festival of Lights runs through January 8th from 5:30pm to 9:30pm on weeknights and until 10pm on Friday to Sunday and Holidays.

Prices are per vehicle ranging from $15 (cars weekday) to $30 (van weekend) with separate prices for group buses.  You can get a $3 off weeknight coupon by visiting the trash cans at your local Chick Fil A ;)  Sounds weird, but hey, $3 off is $3 off!!  The coupons are sitting next to the placemats at the Woodbridge location.

Before you get to the park, which is 10 minutes from the Manassas line, be sure you stop at 7-11 and pick up some treats for the car.  We vote hot cocoa and cookies, but you can pick whatever you like.  When you get to the festival, you start out going through a toll booth. It looks like the show is going to start just after with lights on either side, and you may be tempted to turn your headlights off at this point.

Wait.  They're just playing with you.  There's 2 light displays and then nothing for a few hundred yards.  When you get to the sign that says "please turn off your headlights", however, TURN THEM OFF!! There's more than sufficient light from the show and having cars (especially behind you) with their lights on totally ruins the experience for everyone!

Winding slowly through the next 2 miles, there are a bunch of cool light displays including reindeer and Santa, the characters from the Wizard of Oz, Toyland, and our family's favorite- a corner turn where the lights cascade down like snow.

The lights are beautiful, and it's a great activity for an evening where it's far too cold to enjoy something outside, or if your kids are too little to really enjoy outdoor activities.  True story, the first time we went to a light show like this (it was in another state), we had a 1 month old baby and hadn't been out in months, so hubby and I stopped at Starbucks and put our colicky baby in the carseat, and by the time we got to the lights the baby was knocked out from the wonderful repetitive motion of the car and it was snowing lightly- it was actually one of the most romantic dates we've ever been on!

So.  A word of caution.

At the end of the Festival of Lights there is this hot mess.  I think they call it "The Winter Village".  Your payment to the light show includes free admission to the Winter Village!! Squee! Free Admission.

Don't do it.  Just don't.  The Winter Village is actually a carnival designed to make sure you spend at least $75 on going to look at lights.  Rides require tickets (which are non-refundable) and range in price from $3-$5 a ride.  Some of them you can squeak by on without getting burned too badly (kids ride free with paying adult on rides they're too short to ride alone- i.e. the Ferris Wheel and the Egg Scrambler).  You can get a wristband for $18 per person (for our family of 5 there was NO way I was doing that).  There's also lots of junk food around to tempt your kids who, despite the fact that you just fed them dinner, now have a fever and the only prescription is chili cheese fries for $7.50.

If you'd like to be sneaky about the whole thing, the Village is only open on the following dates, so you could feasibly decide to go on a night that it's not open. (Or, perhaps you're not as big of a grinch as I am, and you like spending $5 on carnival rides, in which case, by all means, have a blast!)

The Village will be open from 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm in December per the following schedule.
Friday, December 2nd
Saturday, December 3rd
Sunday, December 4th
Friday, December 9th
Saturday, December 10th
Sunday, December 11th
Friday, December 16th
Saturday, December 17th
Sunday, December 18th
Monday, December 19th

All in all I would say that the Bull Run Festival of Lights can be a fun family outing.  For the best value, go with a friend who has a van on a weeknight :) Then you can split the $12 cost with your CFA coupon! To not go crazy and not spend too much money, avoid stopping at the carnival at the end, but if you have it in your December budget, the kids will definitely enjoy a ride or two.