2/28/12

Circus Giveaway!

It's back!!! Ringling Brothers, as we mentioned a few days ago will be at both the Verizon Center and the Patriot Center!! We loved the show last year, and we're excited to see it again!! We'd like to invite a PwcMoms reader and their family to join us, too!!

Leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite circus memory and you could win a family four pack of tickets to opening night at the Verizon Center!!

YOU MUST BE ABLE TO ATTEND THE OPENING NIGHT PERFORMANCE March 15th at the Verizon Center.  I realize it's late and a school night, but it's totally worth it, and the morning announcements aren't going to be that exciting the next day, anyway.  I looked.

This contest ends on March 3, 2012 at 5pm.

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Disclosure: PwcMoms thanks Ringling Brothers and their associates for providing giveaway tickets and tickets for PwcMoms.  PwcMoms does not endorse your children missing or being late to school.  We do encourage you to go to the circus, however, because it's fully awesome. Any liability is assumed by the winner, PwcMoms is not responsible for postponed or cancelled shows, or for the winner being unable to attend the scheduled performance.  All opinions expressed are the truthful opinions of PwcMoms.  Your opinions or experience may vary, which we are not responsible for, but would like to hear about.  

2/27/12

On Superpowers

Did anyone else out there have Supermom raise them? I know I did.  My mother was the Sunday School teacher, girl scout leader, softball coach, room mom, volunteer coordinator, work-from-home full time but still make every field trip, home cooked meal each night with a perfectly clean house wonder that I wish I could be.

For my birthday one year, she hooked me up with this:

Yup.  Thanks mom.

I spend a lot of my time torturing myself to make 300 homemade cupcakes because I signed up for a birthday party, Valentine's Party, Club meeting, and another Valentine's Party all in a 4 day spread.  Buy them? Heck, no.  Supermom doesn't buy cupcakes.

I spend even more time scouring homeschool blogs for ideas and then smacking myself in the head wondering why I didn't think of such an awesome idea!  President Guess Who?? I threw out our board after we lost all the inserts!! Darn it! Supermom doesn't throw-out! She repurposes!

I'm sure you have obsessions, too.  Whether it's cleaning like your mom did or cooking like Giada does or educating like Maria Montessori wishes she could, we all think there are things we have to be and fall short on.

This morning, a friend noticed I'd broken my own rule and showed up to drop my daughter off at preschool in my pajama pants.  "PAJAMA day?? Get it together Supermom!" was what I got in the hallway.  Now, don't get me wrong, that's pretty funny- but the bigger picture was that even though I don't think I'm supermom, someone does.  The women I consider to be "supermom" routinely deny that they're doing an awesome job.

I wonder if we're all a little to hard on ourselves and focused on other people and why we should do it like them, rather than realizing that in some small way, we're all supermom.

What's your superpower?

2/26/12

The Week in Pre-View

Happy Sunday Evening, Mamas!

Here are some of our picks for this week's kid-friendly and mama-friendly events and activities in our area!! Take a look through and be sure to pre-register for any that require it!!

Also, it's the Manassas Sale this week for our friends at Classy Kids Consignment!! We'd love to hear about the great finds you get!!

Monday, February 27
There's an open snow and story day this morning! Be sure to call ahead to make sure there's space- 703-730-8423.  In the afternoon, check out the Voices of Tomorrow Youth Choir at the Manassas Museum as they present a free Black History Month concert.

Tuesday, February 28
This isn't an event for kids- but having  good family financial situation is good for everyone!! Local PwcMom Fiona Abolade holds an online radio show called the Money Mom Show each week at 7pm.  Look for a guest post from her in the future!

Wednesday, February 29
As you all know, I love a random holiday!! Leap Day definitely qualifies!! I've pinned a few leap-frog ideas for you, but you can also check out a book or two, or try some Math fun from Scholastic. There's also a word search, and some craft and activity ideas.  Please do me a personal favor, though, and don't sing that ridiculous leap year song with your kids.  LEAPYEAR doesn't spell February.  

Also today, don't forget that several spring sports CLOSE their registration the last day of February.  Be sure you're signed up!

Thursday, March 1
Registration opens today for the Egg Hunts at the Manassas Park Community Center.  It's also the last day to register for Antique Photo Shoots for your kids at St. Paul UMC's preschool.  These $10 shoots will benefit the program. Also at the Manassas Park Community Center, you'll notice we've added the afternoon/evening tween and teen programming to our calendar!! Drop in or enroll, and keep your kid busy after school!

Friday. March 2
Live in Haymarket? Daytime Playtime offers a free story time and craft the first Friday of each month! Friday night, check out the free IKEA movie night (It's Rango on the schedule) and Kids Eat Free!! Also, don't forget that Two Tiny Hands will be offering Free Yoga (just call ahead) to Moms who have experienced the loss of a child.

Saturday, March 3
"Sinbad" opens at the Lorton Workhouse!! If you missed "Miss Electricity", you'll want to be sure to get your tickets early this time!! It's also Kids Workshop day at Home Depot and Free Pretzel Day at Auntie Anne's nationwide. The Gainesville Wegmans has a Kids in the Kitchen planned- sign up at customer service this week to make sure you have a spot!!

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Oh, you were just looking for the Pre-Sale Pass winners? 


Congratulations to:
ElisaandJohne Bowles
Ashley Lynn Morris
Katrina Lewis
@GuinevereRobin


Please email me to claim your prize!! 

2/25/12

Classy Kids Consignment Giveaway

Everybody wants a deal, and I've got one for you!



Classy Kids Consignment offers moms a way to clear out their closets of out-grown or un-used items AND a great way to score deals on items they'll need instead!!  They offer multiple sales each year in Fairfax, Manassas, and Woodbridge.

The Manassas sale is coming up next from February 29th to March 4th.
The Woobridge sale will follow on March 28th to April 1st.

But, let's be honest.  You know there's some adorable little Easter outfit you NEED to have that someone's going to snag up at the Pre-Sale that's closed to the public.  That's okay, because you scored pre-sale passes!!

Oh, you didn't?

No big deal- Classy Kids is offering FOUR of our PwcMoms readers pre-sale passes.  Come and shop the Manassas sale early on February 28th and make sure you don't miss a thing!  

Want to win?  This is a FLASH giveaway, so it ends tomorrow, Sunday February 26th at 8pm.  You have 3 ways to enter, and may enter up to three times (one time for each method).

1- Go like Classy Kids Consignment on Facebook, and leave us a comment here on the blog that you did.  Facebook rules prohibit "liking" as a condition for winning, so your comment here is your entry.  Please don't forget!! (Do let CKC know who sent you, though!)

2- Leave a comment on the PwcMoms Facebook wall on the post listing this giveaway that you want to shop early!

3- Tweet us @PwcMoms that you want to shop early at CKC!

Good luck shoppers!!

2/24/12

Featured Organization Friday: Two Tiny Hands


For this week's Featured Organization Friday, I'd like you to meet Two Tiny Hands. Two Tiny Hands is a family outreach program providing support to families after the loss of a child.

Two Tiny Hands is an outreach program provided by SIDS Mid-Atlantic, a 501c3 nonprofit in the Northern Virginia area.  Two Tiny Hands provides support to families after the loss of a child

The organization provides care packages for siblings who have lost a brother or sister, as well as canvas pictures for parents, as a photo memorial.  Grief information is also provided to families through a loaning library program as well as online resources found on their website.  The idea is based on helping parents grieve so families can be healthy and thriving.  
From their website:

"We know that a healthy family begins with healthy parents and our care package is to help communication between parent and child or even begin a healthy dialogue.
Support information can also be given to parents.  We have a variety of books, pamphlets, and websites to help the parents during their time of grief."

They also keep a great list of organizations that can provide support or meetings for parents who've experienced a loss.

In addition to offering care packages and information, Two Tiny hands also offers support to parents.  Their newest offering is Yoga for mothers who have lost a child.  In contrast to a traditional support group, the yoga class will not involve any dialogue or sharing of personal information, but will be a time for mothers to have time to themselves to reflect and relax and recharge.  Information is listed on the flier below.  Moms need to pre-register for a month at a time by calling 703-608-4138,  The class is paid for by SIDS Mid-Atlantic and is entirely free for mothers.  If you would like to attend, but feel like you need additional support, a friend may bring you to the class.
Two Tiny Hands takes monetary donations to cover resources and accepts new stuffed animals for sibling care packages.

For more information:


2/23/12

Ringling Brothers Fully Charged

It's circus time!!

 Last year we were able to go to Funundrum, and we had a fantastic time! This year, "Fully Charged" is coming to the Patriot Center April 4-15th and the Verizon Center March 15-18th.  


Last year we only took our boys, but this year we're super excited to take our daughter, too! (She had plans for a date with grandma already last year).  Our boys were almost 5 and 7 last year and they both had a fantastic time.  There's so much going on during the show that there's something for everyone, and they especially enjoyed the contortionists and the motorcycle-on-a-tightrope routine!  It literally took my breath away!!
If you went to the circus as a child and don't remember it being that exciting, just remember that this isn't a "Tent in a Parking Lot".  Last year my husband and I left feeling a lot more like we'd been to a performance than an old-school circus, and we loved it.  There are still clowns and tigers and elephants, but if Fully Charged is anything like Funundrum- it's a whole new world of circus!

There is also The "All Access Power Up Pre-show Party" which is hosted one hour before show time and is free to ticket holders. The Pre-show allows audience members to meet and take photos with performers, try on circus costumes, learn circus skills and have the chance to win a painting created by Asia the elephant. 


Bonus- Enter code 6MOM and save $6 on your tickets!!


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Disclosure: RBB&B has provided PwcMoms with tickets to use in promotional fashion.

Guest Post: Busy in Bristow: Overscheduled Kids


Many thanks to BristowBeat.com for sharing their "Busy in Bristow" section with our readers!! Please check them out for Bristow news, and be sure to like BristowBeat on Facebook! 
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Today, I signed our oldest daughter up for a dance class at the Freedom Center, and I just know I’m going to regret it. See, something’s wrong with my essential “Mommy makeup” when it comes to kids’ activities. While everyone else in the greater Northern Virginia area seems to think that it’s a GREAT idea to play Jeeves to the kids, I have this insane notion that I have better things to do with my time than sit on benches and bleachers watching my kids wait in line for their turn to tumble, all the while murmuring to myself, “And I paid for this. I paid U.S. dollars and cents for this torture.”
Maybe we go in for all this overscheduling because we don’t know what else to do with our kids. Back in the Leave it to Beaver days, what they didn’t show you on prime time was that after school June was having a nice stiff drink in the kitchen while gossiping with her gal pals before they both had to start making dinners for their bring-home-the-bacon husbands. Meanwhile, the kids were – if you believe episodes of Beaver’s antithesis, Madmen – either sprawled out in front of the novelty of a television set (today’s Xbox?) or playing hopscotch or riding bicycles (without helmets) because the weather was good enough and their moms had the sense to shoo them outdoors. I know that’s what we do (minus the gin and tonic) when it’s warm out. “Go out and get some fresh air. You don’t need me to entertain you.” But in the winter? Well, let’s face it. It’s the pits.
On Tuesdays, my ten year old’s schedule is busier than a stockbroker’s. First, he has drama club because he’s such a ham at home I suggested he try out for a part. So did fifty-nine other moms. My kid gets to pull the curtains and wear a black T shirt with white lettering that says, “Stage Crew,” on it, and for this, he needs to attend the majority of the meetings. We pick him up at 3:50 and he reads his book and does his reading log in the car on the way to GMS, where he is a Level 6 gymnast. He practices for 3 hours – many times without eating a snack because he didn’t remember to pack one in the morning, and let’s face it – at the age of ten in a family of four children three of whom are younger – you’re on your own in the world of Snack Packing. And at 7:15, we arrive (late again) to pick him up and take him home where he glares at what’s left from dinner and tries to sneak a bowl of cereal in lieu of broccoli and salmon. (The French fries my husband made were gobbled up, but there’s still plenty of broccoli.)
Last week at lunch, I told my fellow teachers that all I want is to move to a farm and milk cows. I wasn’t kidding. I’ve found a utopian community outside Charlottesville where residents take care of livestock, garden, and all share in the organic goodness of the harvest. It’s on the side of a mountain and the first thing I notice when I visit our friends there is how quiet it is. I open the car door and hear silence. Try that around here.
But when I was dreaming of my perfect life in this throwback commune, my friend – we’ll call her Jane – revealed two things: 1) The parents on the farm shuttle their kids to activities too. In fact, there’s a dance class that she’s sure Beth would just love, and it’s only three miles away. 2) In order to “catch a break,” Jane and her husband take little weekend getaways, you know – to places like Williamsburg or the Northern Neck. “Why do you do that when you live where I ‘get away’?” “Oh, there’s so much to do on the farm,” she says, “if we didn’t go away, we’d always be working. Mickey has his fence mending and I have the chicken committee.”
Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the madness we’ve created for ourselves right here in the burbs, minus the teat milking.
Maybe it’s just us. You know – our society. Our perfectionist, workaholic, let’s-improve-I-know-we-can-do-it society. Maybe no matter how hard I try not to get overly involved in children’s activities, there’s going to be one more thing I’ve got to do on the events docket at my son’s gym and one more seat to warm on the bench outside my daughter’s dance class. And if we take the time off to stay home, to sit around our house and play the board game aptly named “Sorry,” like the kids are doing at this moment as I write this, maybe it’s just a matter of time before the volume of their voices starts to annoy me and I think to myself, “We’ve got to get out of this house. What else could we be doing?”
I’ll leave you with the image one very literary minded teacher friend of mine provided during last week’s lunch discussion on this topic. He said that although he agreed this frantic pace we keep by chauffeuring our kids from one activity to another is insane, he sometimes wondered what he’d be doing with his time if he weren’t playing bus driver. “Sometimes,” he said, “I think I’d read too much Machievellli and that wouldn’t be good. I’d just end up filing my nails into points.” Touche.
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Kathy Smaltz writes for BristowBeat.com the original copy of this article can be found at their website and is reprinted with permission.  BristowBeat provides hyperlocal coverage for readers in Bristow, VA and the surrounding areas.  
Like many moms, Kathy drives a mini-van full of booster seats and Disney/Pixar DVD’s. When she’s not chauffeuring her kids, ages 10 and under, to school and activities, she teaches for Prince William County Public Schools, writes fiction and poetry, and blogs about the challenges and rewards of being a mom to young children.

2/22/12

Guest Post: Ruminations of Gym Air


Ruminations of Gym Air
By Kate Haldeman
So, last night while watching my daughter at gymnastics, I’m looking around and wondering what will take away the stench of stinky feet and sweaty palms. It has gotten so bad that I am contemplating writing a letter to the owner.  At home, to remove the smells from my charred attempts at dinner, I have used baking soda, white vinegar, candles, diffusers and a Lampe Berger, but these only seem to mask the odor before I become acclimated to it. Sometimes, odors have a way of getting over everything and in order to remove them you must take matters into your own hands (literally). I would like to suggest to you to do one or all of the following:
  1. Open a window. (Unfortunately, the gym can’t do this). 
  2. Remove the source of the odor (Take out the trash, bathe the dog, clean the fridge, remove all the gym apparatus).
  3. Vacuum the floor (Or in the gym’s case, mop it- which may also help alleviate the  planter warts that gymnasts seem to get frequently).
  4. Wipe down the walls with a diluted bleach solution.
  5. Launder any clothing, bedding or drapes.
  6. Wipe down lights and any fixtures as the smell may adhere.
  7. Change the air filters- frequently.
  8. Install a new air filtration system- which can remove up to 99.98% of allergens from filtered air.
If, after performing each of the steps, you find that the smell remains, your last course of action may be to find another gym. If you have any suggestions for new gyms or for removing odors, please drop me a line at twitter @katehaldeman or give me a call at My Plumber Heating & Cooling.
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Kate Haldeman, a seasoned marketing veteran with 10 years of consumer & online marketing experience, holds a Masters in Business Administration. In her role as Marketing Mgr. for My Plumber Heating& Cooling, she keeps abreast of the latest home maintenance tips & tricks.

2/21/12

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This is my post....

rules:
  1. a
  2. b
  3. c
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Giveaway/Review: Mamas Link


This week's giveaway comes from Mamas Link!  Since I don't have an infant, Mamas Link provided their own explanation of their program.  If you've ever participated, we'd love to include your review/thoughts! Shoot us an email, and let us know what you thought/think!
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Mamas Link 
A Social and Educational Community of Moms and Moms-to-be!
I love being a mom. When I became a mom for the first time in April 2009, I was lucky to make a network of friends all going through similar experiences.  It was amazing to have a support network to share the joys and fears of motherhood with.  Many of my friends who experienced motherhood without that type of support network felt lonely and isolated and struggled with their identity as they transitioned into parenthood.  I came to realize how imperative it was to have a strong community of friends, it can be lifesaving.  After my maternity leave ended, I left my teaching job in MCPS and found a perfect way to marry my interest of education, my love for parenthood and my desire to connect with others.  I created Mamas Link, a program that connects moms and moms-to-be and gives them unique learning opportunities and fun ways to bond with other moms and their babies.
Mamas Link features the popular mommy and me class called “The Six Week Hook Up”, formerly called Onesies DC; Mamas-to-be events; special events and seminars; a nanny posting; blog; and additional mommy resources.  Classes are held in NoVa, MD and DC.
The popular “Six Week Hook-up” mommy and me class is a program featuring weekly activities (a six week session) including talks by local experts, lunches, a chance to create keepsakes, and what’s more, an opportunity to connect with other moms of infants.  Activities and workshops in the lineup may include mother-baby fitness, music, yoga, infant massage, photography services, lactation consulting, CPR instruction, nutrition counseling and much more.
Mamas Link special event topics run the gamut from breastfeeding and finding a nanny to introducing baby food.  Some upcoming events include a seminar about healthy sleep, baby food 101, expert training in breastfeeding and newborn care and CPR training. Events are held at various venues, may include up to 100 attendees, include delicious food and gifts galore.  Attendees leave with swag bags and raffle prizes from local and national sponsors.  Mamas Link helps women learn the latest in parenting, introduces them to the best and hottest products and gives them an opportunity to connect with other women to form lasting friendships.
For more information about the site, classes or to learn about hosting an event or becoming a Mamas Link sponsor, visit www.mamaslink.com.  Become a Facebook Fan to be the first to know about events, coupons, contests, view recent photos of events and more: www.facebook.com/mamaslink.


THE GIVEAWAY:
Looking to connect with other moms and learn about different resources for you and your baby in Northern Virgina?  Enter to win half off the popular Mamas Link "Six Week Hook Up" class which includes six weeks of mommy and me classes and meetings with local experts.  Learn, have fun and create friendships to last a lifetime! (for current schedule, go to: http://mamaslink.com/schedule.php?location=DCMetro#page=page-1c).  


Email PwcMoms to enter!! Also- leave a comment if you'd be interested in a Six Week Hookup for PWC! 
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Disclosure: This post was provided from Mamas Link.  PwcMoms has not participated in a Mamas Link series.  In return for this post, Mamas Link is providing a giveaway item for a PwcMoms reader.  

2/19/12

The Week in Pre-View! Week of February 20th

Hey Readers!! It's a short (or long, depending on how you look at it) week this week with President's Day on Monday.  That means your favorite library story times are cancelled, and other county services may not be available. Your favorite kid-friendly haunts in Prince William County may also be closed or over-crowded, so be sure to call first! Most of the bounce-house places have added extra play times, which are not on the calendar because they tend to fill up with pre-registered jumpers before the day comes! Call first to save a spot if you can!

Monday
It's President's Day!! Why not check out the Free Admission Day at Mount Vernon!  If you'd rather avoid the crowds, why not check out the PwcMoms Pinterest for Presidents Day and try a few crafts instead? For snack- how about some George Washington's Cherry Tree pie!

Tuesday
We hope that you'll be joining us at Chick-Fil-A Sudley Manor Drive for a PwcMoms Meetup!! 9am-10:30am, with Free Chick-N-Minis for your kiddos!

Need some support? The La Leche League of Woodbridge has their open meeting! 10:30am at First Presby in Dale City- kids (and nursers, of course!) welcome.  Tuesday evening, First Baptist Church of Woodbridge's new Early Learning Center has their first open house.  If you're looking for a preschool, you can drop by at 4.  Pump it Up of Manasssas will also have their Family Bounce at 5:30- a great option for working moms to play with their kids if you can skip out a few minutes early!

Wednesday
Wednesday always means tons of library story times!! When you're done for the day, Chick Fil A Sudley Manor Drive will have a Action Hero themed family night!

Thursday
It's Free Bowl of Chili day at Hard Times Cafe!! Buy a drink and get a free bowl of chili! At 7pm, the Bight Stars Theater will present African Folktales at Chinn Park Library.  This event will happen at a few libraries, but the Chinn event doesn't require free tickets, so drop in!

Friday
Kids night out so you can go on a date? Be sure to call ahead for Kids Nights at local gyms, bounce houses, and more!

Saturday
From 9am-11am, check out your local Target store- no, not for the $1 Spot- for the Lorax Special Event! Not your thing? At 10am check out Journey 2 at AMC, a special Sensory Friendly presentation in conjunction with the Autism Society.  Also, Ben Lomond House will be holding special slave tours in honor of black history month.


Want your event on our calendar? Go to the calendar page and click "Propose an Event!" If it's recurring, just note that in the description, no need to submit multiple times! We love sharing great kid and family friendly events with our readers!!

2/17/12

Featured Organization Friday: Eme's Army and CRB1

Emerie, “Eme”, was born with a rare degenerative retinal disease that has already left her blind. She is 5. She walks with a white cane and is learning Braille. She is in Kindergarten at Nokesville Elementary School. Eme's Army is fighting for her sight and finding a cure for LCA. You may remember Eme and her mom from our Facebook page where they've been promoting their "Cookies for a Cause" program for a few weeks.  You can learn more about their very successful Valentine's for Veterans by clicking on the link here


Photo Credit: EmesArmy.org

Eme's Army are people who work together with Eme's Super Mom, Tabitha, to raise money to find a cure for Retinal Blindness through the larger CRB1 Organization.  Here's what I love most about the CRB1 Orgnaization- it's a whole bunch of parents that are working to fund the cure their children need by themselves, because nobody was going to help them, and that wasn't okay.  From the CRB1.org website:


"The CRB1 gene mutation is the second highest incidence (10-13%) of all the LCA genes, yet research on CRB1 is not as advanced as other genes.  We tried asking the larger vision research foundations to take on our project and assist with the funding - we had no luck.  So we figured if we could find enough families willing to work hard to make this happen, we'd be successful."


I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it would be to learn your child was born with a genetic mutation that would eventually take one of their abilities, and you could do nothing about it! But, I can imagine being a mom that says, not true- I can.


To learn more about Eme and other families fighting to keep the lights on for our children with Lebers Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) visit www.crb1.org or emesarmy.org

2/16/12

Potomac Mills Mall Kidgits and the Virginia Play Area

Before you read the following post, I have to apologize for my absolutely abominable iPhone pictures.  Here's the deal, folks, I am not a good enough mom to carry my camera.  I can admit that.  I have three kids and two hands, and one of them is not getting a Kodak, because that leaves me even MORE outnumbered than I was to start with.

I'm pretty sure the only nice pictures we have of our kids since my second child was born are from my awesome friends who do carry their cameras, and from professional photographers (love you guys!).  However! That being said, please always multiply the "cool factor" of anything I've photographed by about 5.  Thanks.  Also, thank you to the very nice people who let me take their pictures at these events and are not at all creeped out by the lady with a cell phone and a media pass.  I think it's the business cards.  They make me look legit :) If you'd like some professional pictures- check out Mary Davidson's from PotomacLocal.com


As I've mentioned several times, I am a native Prince Williamite.  That's a technical term, which you'd know if you were also born and raised in the P-W-C. Not everyone can be this complacent in one place for so long, so if you didn't know, now you do ;)

Another thing you'd know if you were a true local, is that we don't like being looked down on by people from Fairfax who think they're cooler than us just because they've got carousels at their fancy pants playgrounds, and Wegmans and Trader Joes and P.F. Changs and play areas in their malls. Also, they've got Ann Taylor and Banana Republic. Listen, outlet shopping is just smart. So, there.  Plus, we have a 24-hour Walmart.  What's up, Fairfax?

As such, I have immensely enjoyed watching our county change over the last decade.  I love that you can still find farms, but I also love checking things off the list of reasons people from Fairfax refuse to admit that PWC is a viable place to live or raise kids.  

Most recently, Potomac Mills has checked a few items off my list, adding a "Fashion District" with places like Banana Republic, Victoria's Secret, J.Crew, and Abercrombie and Fitch.  If I wasn't on a stay-at-home mommy budget....

They also added an indoor play area at the "Grand Court", which is at the beginning of the "Fashion District" section! Hahaha Fairfax! Plus, ours is educational! We were able to go join the Potomac Mills Kidgits for the grand opening celebration of the new play area, which featured a concert from Rocknoceros, cupcakes, and 300some of your closest friends! I love a great kid friendly event that's local Prince William County!!

 Oh, hello everyone cool! How nice that we can all hang out at the mall together!  Kidgits is a great way to get out of the house and enjoy free entertainment.  Join the Kidgits club for some great extra perks! It's only $5 and your child gets special treats at Kidgits meetings, a shirt, and spins on the prize wheel every time you shop!


When you're a big brother and home schooled, you sometimes have to hang out at little kid events.  Cupcakes and a hat help you to up your "cool" factor.




I love that there is a small tucked away section with games perfect for toddlers to play with.  It's nice when someone thinks of details like that!

The theme of the play area is Virgina- so there are several historical landmarks shown, as well as the "landscape" on the floor featuring labels of prominent water features.




Here's a view from outside the play area coming in.  To the right, there are benches that wrap around for parents, caregivers, or kids in time out. Under the benches are shoe cubbies.  You know, for shoes that are in time out.




The state bird, a cardinal, makes an appearance, as do natural resources like the blue crab. The tree slide, in the picture above, is George Washington's Cherry Tree.












For parking purposes, the TJ Maxx entrance is a good idea :)










Thanks to Potomac Mills Mall for making Prince William County even more kid friendly! 
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Disclaimer: I was not provided with any material goods or services in return for writing this article, although the very nice Kidgits people did hook me up with some chairs so that I could run around and interview people and keep my kids where I could see them.  All opinions are my own.  No one from Fairfax was injured in the writing of this article.  If you're from Fairfax, I still like you.  Some of my best friends are Fairfax people, when they're not hating on Prince William :) 


2/15/12

Guest Post: Busy in Bristow: Snow Days



Many thanks to BristowBeat.com for sharing their "Busy in Bristow" section with our readers!! Please check them out for Bristow news, and be sure to like BristowBeat on Facebook! 
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On my way to work yesterday, the D.J. announced the weather closure for Fauquier County Public Schools, and I looked at the sky wondering if I’d missed something. Nine hours later, pulling out of the parking lot at 5PM, large but insubstantial flakes fell on my car windshield. It must have been kind of cool for the kids and teachers in Fauquier to get a veritable free day, but I’m sure the parents were less thrilled.
What’s going on folks? Isn’t it supposed to snow? This weekend, they predict a low of 15 degrees, but every time a front comes through – something that’s dumped down a whopper in Washington state or a doozy in Denver, the temperature in Virginia rises from the teens to something awful like 34 or 38, where it  hovers just above “colder than crap” but too warm for snow. We haven’t even had a respectable icing this winter. You know, that dazzling ice that blinds you the next morning as the weak sunlight shines on it … the frozen layer that encases the branches on your prize dogwood … a good, old heavy coating that threatens to break limbs of all kinds and wreak general havoc on Dominion Electric.
For us teachers, snow days mean hunkering down under the covers for an extra hour or two of sleep, then meandering – lazily – out to the kitchen to make coffee while our progeny poke around in the video cabinet to watch their second Disney DVD of the day. Snow days mean sitting on the sofa, holding a steaming cup of coffee in our hands flipping through the pages of a book or newspaper for all of ten minutes or until the youngest can take no more ribbing from the oldest and dissolves into a high pitched whine that lasts until nap time, which we push up from 2:30 to 1:00.
Snow days mean the older kids are in and outdoors, along with our expensive heat, oil purchased for $4.00 a gallon at $600.00 a bill. With them forms a trail of water from boots that weren’t removed in the mud room but are instead discovered on the only “good” rug we have in the house.
Snow days mean we’re already wondering at 1:00 if we’ll get the next day off too, or whether or not – after one day’s reprieve from the regular grind – we’ll be back in our routine, shoveling out the mini-van and shuttling the kids and ourselves back to school.
I remember snow days pre- kids. My husband and I used to loll around the house clad in the same pair of pajamas for as many days as the white stuff fell from the sky. We live on a quiet, dead-end street, and it’s easy to forget about the outside world when it snows and the road outside goes unplowed. He’d overdose on ESPN and I’d read books until I fell into a literary dither.
Snow days pre-kids, we’d make stacks of pancakes and a pound of bacon, which warded off hunger until 4:00 or so when we’d eat junk food and watch Oprah, and two hours later, pull some processed food out of the freezer for dinner.
Once, pre-kids when we were able to confirm that school was closed for the remainder of the week, we headed to the ski slopes with other teacher friends, and nothing felt better than the sun shining down on my face that “free day” snatched from the jaws of January’s doldrums.
Snow days with kids are a different story. When ours were babies and toddlers, we’d enjoy pajama wearing and family time, but if I’m honest (and by this time reading my blog, you know I will be), sometime around noon and the day’s thirtieth block tower, the shine wore off, and – having been awake for six hours – I’d start to fall asleep on the toy room floor, my drool mixing with theirs.
Now that the kids are older, we are again able to sleep in because they can climb counters, pour themselves cereal, and operate simple, non-life threatening electronics.
But after the second movie and tenth board game – with eight hours stretching ahead of you like an open field of untouched snow – you begin to hope that the stinkin’ white stuff will stop and the blasted schools will clear those parking lots.
At 3:00PM, you consider calling your building principal and asking to shovel the lot yourself – anything that will get you out of the house and away from the hours of sibling bickering. At this point, you start to understand the plight of Washington, D.C.’s working drones who – at first sight of a snowflake (and in Fauquier County’s case, at first hear) have to scurry around for childcare on these days – or take leave when the day turns out to warrant a vacation rather than resemble one.
Yes, we’ve missed another chance at a snow day in Prince William. And today, while the sun shines brilliantly, I wonder if this winter’s snow will ever fall._________________________________________________________________________________
Kathy Smaltz writes for BristowBeat.com the original copy of this article can be found at their website and is reprinted with permission.  BristowBeat provides hyperlocal coverage for readers in Bristow, VA and the surrounding areas.  
Like many moms, Kathy drives a mini-van full of booster seats and Disney/Pixar DVD’s. When she’s not chauffeuring her kids, ages 10 and under, to school and activities, she teaches for Prince William County Public Schools, writes fiction and poetry, and blogs about the challenges and rewards of being a mom to young children.

Lowe's Build and Grow

I swore up one side and down the other that I'd done a review of Lowe's Build and Grow Events.  I couldn't find it though.  I even went digging through my personal blog (aka- the one that nobody reads) thinking maybe I'd put it there for some reason.  I have now decided that blogger ate the post.  It couldn't possibly be that I made up the fact that I wrote it.

Not possible.  I'm far too organized for that.

(For those of you who know me in real life, stop laughing- I can hear you!)

So.  Build and Grow Clinics.  They're free.  They're fun.  You get goggles like Bill Nye the Science Guy!

One downside, these suckers fill up quickly! Right now we have them on the calendar for next weekend, February 25th, and March 10th. All you have to do is go to the Build and Grow Website, though, to reserve your space.

Included in the "not price", your child gets an apron to collect their patches (there's one for each activity), a certificate of completion, and goggles.  All the supplies are provided, including hammers.  The Lowes in Woodbridge puts out several long tables covered with plywood and lines the kiddos up at the back of the store right in front of the bathroom fixtures. It gets a little loud, but it's work at your own pace and the kids really love it.  Lowe's workshops can vary slightly in spacing, but they're always Saturday at 10am, and are roughly every 2-3 weeks.

Home Depot also has kids building workshops.  They're the first Saturday of the month from 9am-12pm, and are drop-in until supplies run out.  Kids get to keep their craft and get an apron, pin, and certificate.  Home depot clinics are also free, but do not require advanced registration.

Have you tried the Lowe's Build and Grow or the Home Depot Kid's Workshops? Have a favorite? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!

Try Hockey Free- Prince William Ice Center


It may seem like this blog is turning into the official sponsor of the Prince William Ice Center, but it just worked out they got 2 posts this week.  Promise.

Check out the info above for details on "Try Hockey Free" for ages 4-9.  Children over 10 who'd like to try the sport can contact the rink for more information.  You need to register at TryHockeyForFree.com, but other than that it's totally free and even equipment is provided.

(We love hockey, and spring registration starts soon!! Get out and try it!)

2/14/12

Snow and Story- Prince William Ice Center

Submitted by PwcMom Aimee!  Thanks Aimee for reviewing this great family friendly activity at the Prince William Ice Center, and thanks to Riann for the pictures!!  


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Snow and Story was great fun! $6 per preschooler. They spent about 45 min playing with a ton of toys, tricycles, dump trucks, giant plastic bowling set, pile of snow that was dumped from the ice resurfacer at the start, with shovels and rakes (and the dump truck toys). There were just the right amount of little people, not so many that there were fights over toys, not so few that baby cliques started up. Since dear daughter was along for the trip, and even though the ice was not slick, I did worry about tripping over my baby belly, so I let dear daughter play the role of escort for dear son.

After that, they already had the cafe set up with little place settings of 2 chocolate chip cookies on a napkin, and cups of hot cocoa, just the right temp for teeny tongues. My dear boy showed his sweetness by offering his sissy one of his cookies, I was so proud!!! At that point, she left to go to the other side to get ready for her skating, and we listened to two stories...Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and the Very Busy Spider. It finished up about 2 min after 11. Most of the little folks looked pretty tired after (mine laid down on the bleachers and watched Netflix 
quietly, which is most unlike him, for the first hour of the open skate).


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Snow and Story is held occasionally for the public, including February 20th and 27th and on March 5th from 10-11am. It can also be scheduled for groups with at least 10 children.  To reserve your private snow and story, or to register for one of the open Snow and Story sessions, contact Maureen Brennan at 703-730-8423 or email her.

2/13/12

Pediatricians in Prince William County



Finding a good doctor is way more complicated than it should be!! I always have trouble finding a doctor that makes me feel comfortable with my parenting decisions (I actually had one yell at me about giving my daughter soy milk because she breaks out in a rash when given cows milk!) or that seems competent (another one kept demanding I feel the same milk-allergic child "cream, butter, and cheese" to "fatten her up".  Um....no?) or that has an office staff that's pleasant to deal with!!

Some of our moms, however, seem to have great luck finding doctors!! Here's what our readers recommend in terms of Prince William County kid friendly, mom happy Pediatricians!  While the responses were overwhelmingly in favor of ALL Pediatrics, we promise this wasn't a paid ad for them!!

(DISCLAIMER AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE SO YOU KNOW IT MUST BE IMPORTANT!!  PWCMOMS.COM DOES NOT CLAIM TO HAVE, NOR DO THEY HAVE A MEDICAL DEGREE OF ANY KIND.  WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR, NOR DO WE ENDORSE ANY PARTICULAR COURSE OF TREATMENT FOR YOUR CHILD.  THESE REVIEWS WERE MADE VOLUNTARILY BY READERS OF OUR WEBSITE, AND SHOULD BE USED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY!)

ALL Pediatrics
"been going since my daughter was born she is now 7 and I have a 3 year old!! WE LOVE THEM!!!! They have an office in Lakeridge, Lorton and Alexandria and open 7 days a week including holidays!"
" I second ALL Pediatrics. They're wonderful."
" I was looking for recommendations not too long ago myself, and ALL Pediatrics got the most recommendations, but they refused to see my kids because of an error 2 years ago (they said I never cancelled an appt. for my son, and they won't see people who no-show on their 1st appt.). The appt for my son and daughter were at the same time, so why would I cancel one and not the other? They said they'd see my daughter, but not my son. What kind of sense does that make, since I'm the responsible party for both of them??"
" I have to "second" the recomendation for All Pediatric's! NP Cooney is who my kids see, and we LOVE her!"
"ALL pediatrics is where we go and are very happy!"
Another vote here for ALL Pediatrics - their Lake Ridge office is practically across the street from our house, so they get top marks for convenience :) We usually see whoever is available, and I've been happy with everyone we've seen so far in the 3 years we've been going there...
 LOVE ALL Pediatrics, especially Dr. Caplan and Dr. Farber, but you can't go wrong with anyone there-they are all very nice!
 I use All Pediatrics in Lake Ridge as I see many of you do too :) No complains so far
All Pediactrics here!
ALL Pediatrics is who we use (for 11 years now). Only thing is to schedule a "wellness" visit takes 2-3 months. And then they couldn't schedule my two boys together - plus I need to take them to the Alexandria office. But up until this point we've been very happy with them. Dr. Kaplan is great!
All Pediatrics....for almost 10 years! Lakeridge and now a newer office in Lorton. Alexandria office just too far away. I heard they now have a block of time set aside for walk-ins.
We switched to ALL Peds and LOVE it!!!!

Dr. Indira Sindha
"My kids go to Dr. Indira Sindha...I like her :)"

NOVA Pediatrics
I actually go to NOVA Pediatrics. Not my fave.
I actually like NoVA pediatrics. I have twins and they have taken good care of them. I especially like Ginger Bietrich. The nurses are wonderful, especially Amber and Dawn.
I go to NOVA and really like them. You can always talk to a nurse if you need advice, and everyone is really nice. They can always squeeze us in in an emergency. I am not fond of 2 of the dr's, but the good news is there are lots that I do like (and I second Michelle's recommendation of Ginger Beecher. She's awesome!)
I love NOVA peds - Just not Dr. Seidman (one of the partners) Dr. Hamilton does all of our well baby/physicals and we LOVE the Nurse practioner Ginger Beecher for our two with - Ezcema, Asthma and allergies! Also Dr. Rodgers and Dr. Meyers. Very down to earth, do not push drugs,antibiotic or meds if not neccessary. I have four kid 7, 4, 4, and 3. We switched from Woodbridge Peds when my oldest was two and a Dr [performed a procedure without explaining]
I DESPISE NOVA Pediatrics. They take FOREVER to get you in a room and to see the dr. It also just has such an old and outdated feel. We switched to ALL Peds and LOVE it!!!!


The Pediatric Group
We've gone to The Pediatric Group for almost 21 years now ~ I have to tell you ... the doctors and nurse practitioners are great, but the front desk staff is not very friendly at all.
"We use The Pediatric Group - Lake Ridge. I like all of their docs except Dr. Tham, I ask to see anyone but her. The front desk staff is generally okay, but don't be late for your appt. or they do tend to get grouchy."
I love The Pediatric Group!



Dr. Touchette
"offices next to PW Hospital...he was our pediatric dr. for my now 10 yr old twins!!! He is the best!"



Woodbridge Pediatrics
I take Katie Marie to Woodbridge Pediatrics. They are on Opitz Blv.
Woodbridge Pediatrics at Opitz.
We also use Woodbridge Peds. I know they do work with parents on the vaccination sched, but I don't have any exp with that - we just vaccinated our kids when the doctors said we needed to. One thing I really like about the prac is one side is for sick kids, and the other side is for well kids.



Review: Azuria Events

Have you ever made the joke about the queen coming to tea?  Well, for my daughter's 4th birthday, we actually had the Princess! (Didn't know a kid-friendly princess lived within commuting distance of Prince William County, did ya?)

Jennifer Faulconer, aka Princess Genevieve is the ultimate in a character study.  When I first contacted her about doing my daughter's birthday party, she actually responded to me "Dear Queen Kristina".  No joke.  She does the Disney Princess giggle, comes dressed in a ball gown, and has an entire kingdom, complete with a map, a flag, and a crest.

One of my friends, a former servicewoman who shall remain nameless, couldn't handle the girly-ness of it all.

However, our girls...well, they were, to use Princess Genevieve's word, enchanted.

When I told my daughter that a princess was coming to her birthday party, she spent the entire week talking to anyone that would listen about the fact that "There is a REAL princess coming to my birthday!! A REAL PRINCESS!!".  People in the grocery store, the post office line, and the library quiet room were all very understanding.  Savannah (my daughter) was so excited that when Princess Genevieve actually knocked on the door and arrived, she rushed to the door with all of her friends and, and...

And she couldn't speak.  Couldn't even quite look the lovely vision in blue in the eye.  Actually, none of them could!

Princess Genevieve, however, took this all quite in stride, and floated in (she actually really did float! Pageant girls take note!) with her bag full of treasures from Azuria and proceeded to captivate an audience of 8 completely silent 3 and 4 year old girls (and one very talkative 5 year old brother) with her stories about unicorns, four leaf clovers, fairies, and mermaids.  Mysteriously, the two older boys in the room disappeared to the basement to complete some Lego work ;)

By the time Genevieve finished telling her stories and inspecting the treasures that said brother brought down, it was time for some dancing and singing!

I would imagine that the Pied Piper couldn't possibly have gotten a more instantaneous reaction when asking children to rise.  The girls all stood up and started slowly moving to "Happy Birthday Princess".  Slowly, one by one, they got comfortable as Princess Genevieve twirled them around the room, and by the end of another song, they were all dancing in a circle to Genevieve's directions.

After that, Princess Genevieve helped with the singing of Happy Birthday and the cake cutting, and without missing a beat, placed herself on the floor among the happiest little girls I have ever seen in my life to talk with them while they enjoyed their refreshments.  Kind, happy, and amazingly understanding of the preschool dialect of English that usually only mothers are fluent in, Princess Genevieve talked with the girls while they munched happily and asked her questions.  She even encouraged them to say "please" and "thank you", which instantly won her brownie points with me!

When it was time to go, Princess Genevieve floated out the door with hugs and stories about the ball that she had to prepare for.  It was lovely and etherial and magical.

And then the girls realized what just happened and went absolutely nuts talking to each other about what they'd just witnessed.

Savannah is now back to talking to anyone that will listen to her, or that is within ear-shot and HAS to listen to her about the fact that Princess Genevieve came to her birthday party.  I'm not sure how long it will last, but I'm glad to know that I could give her such an amazing childhood memory.  We get so few, when you think about it.

Princess Genevieve and her band of princesses are based out of Azuria, which, for commuting purposes is about the same distance as Warrenton.  They will travel the region for a fee based on mileage.  In addition to parties, Princess Genevieve is available for events and even Girl Scout badges!  She will also do appearances for schools and libraries.  With children my daughter's age, we opted to do a 45 minute appearance.  I think that the optimal age for children to really get into the appearance would be 5-7, based on the 5 year old boy we had kicking around (who loved the story telling), and the 5 year old girl (who was the first one to stop being completely spell-bound and participate).  However, I think that our 3's and 4's did fantastic and had such a memorable time, I would definitely have done this again the same way!

Thanks to Princess Genevieve for making our little princess' day completely enchanting!

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Disclosure: PwcMoms paid full retail price for Princess Genevieve's services.  No additional arrangements or discounts were provided in return for this post, and it represents the personal views of PwcMoms.com only.

2/12/12

The Week in Pre-View

Sometimes with having to pre-register or just the number of events on the calendar, it can be overwhelming to pick! What are the events we don't think you should miss this week?  Here's our list for 


Monday-

Prince and Princess Night on February 13th from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at CFA Gateway Center


Tuesday-
Free Family Yoga at the Dale City Rec Center 9:30am
Toddler Tuesdays- Valentine's- at the Manassas Museum 10am
Chick Fil A Sudley Manor Drive- 2pm-10pm, one free dessert item with the purchase of 2 adult combo meals.  
Go to your local Q'doba and kiss someone (willing) and get a second entree for free! 

Wednesday-
Pick up your free tickets for the African Folktales program at Central Community Library

Thursday-
Kidgits at Potomac Mills- sing along with the Banjo Man 10am
Shenanigans evening craft program at Central Library- be sure to call ahead to register!

Friday- 
Tot Time at Common Grounds Coffee House--this is one I'd love to hear about it anyone attends!

Saturday-
Field trip! The National Portrait Gallery is hosting Presidential Family Fun Day Feb. 18. Check out crafts, music and dance performances and book signings.

2/10/12

Featured Organization Friday: Amazima Ministries

In a conscious effort to use my "blogging powers" for good, I'm going to be featuring a new charity or non profit organization each Friday.  If you're interested, please email me, and we'll get you on the schedule.  This isn't a way to separate you from your money, or to make you feel guilty or obligated, it's simply another way for me to disseminate information about great organizations.



I have a problem.  You may have it, too, if you've lived in this area as long as I have.  Being a Northern-Virginia native, I have the best friends in the entire world.

Until they leave me 2 years later.

You military people.  You make me crazy!! The good news is, however, that the internet lets us keep in touch, and I have a free place to stay in 3/4 of the United States and a solid 1/3 of the world.  Probably closer to 2/3 if you eliminate the hostile nations.

This is my amazing (Marine Corps) friend Lindsay:
  (She's the cute one.  She lets me stand next to her sometimes.)

During the last year, I've gotten to experience Lindsay's adoption experience as she shared with me the joys and frustrations of adopting her new son, Philip from Ethiopia.  He joins Lindsay's two step children and her son Noah.  He is, by far, the cutest child I've ever seen in my life.  Ever.

Partially because her son is so incredibly adorable, partially because it's not fair that every kid in the world doesn't have someone to love them the way most of our kids are loved, and partially because she is CRAZY, Lindsay has joined with a fantastic group of women to help orphans overseas.

Check this group out- they look like a good time!

Now, a group of women helping kids is nothing crazy.  This particular group, however, and I mean this in the nicest way humanly possible, is taking on the crazy task of helping by running 200 Miles.  

Yeah, I said 200.

Lindsay and five friends are running the Palmetto200 relay race (covering over 200 miles) on April 13-14. Each runner will cover about 33 miles of the race from Cayce, SC (near Columbia) to James Island (just outside of historic Charleston). As part of the race, they are raising money for Amazima Ministries – a wonderful organization that works with orphaned children and the most vulnerable in Uganda by providing education, food, vocational outreach, discipleship and medical care. 

The ladies' goal is to raise $2000 for their work, and they are seeking “sponsors” to help reach this goal.  

Says Lindsay: "You can sponsor us by the mile, by the number of runners, or by any other amount you feel called to contribute. No amount is too small, and each dollar will go directly toward making a huge impact in the lives of the neediest in Uganda. If you are able to sponsor our team in any way, please send your check or money order directly to me so that I can collect all the money and send it in together. My address is: 254 Mimosa Drive, Sneads Ferry, NC 28460. Checks should be made out to Amazima Ministries International. All donations are tax-deductible, so write your email address on the check so that Amazima can email you a receipt."

In addition to knowing one of the women in this group, I was particularly excited to start with this cause, because there is really nothing more inspiring to me than a group of moms working towards a goal.  Except maybe a group of moms working toward a goal that involves them running 33 miles.  If Amazima Ministries speaks to your interests, or if you'd like to support an awesome group of women, please consider supporting this effort.
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Next Week: Eme's Army
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Disclaimer: PwcMoms.com is not affiliated with any charitable organization and makes no claims about this particular organization.  Before donating to any group or organization, due diligence should be performed regarding the mission, message, and financial stability of the group.  This is not an endorsement of the organization mentioned, or any other organization and is strictly for informational purposes.  PwcMoms does not receive financial backing, or have the endorsement of the organization mentioned in this article.  Individuals are responsible for their own decisions made based on this information.