Guest Post: Fabulous Fun Fair

Angela Pounders joins us again for a heads up on the upcoming Fun Fair at Central Library. Pick up your free tickets beginning tomorrow.

I was so excited a couple of years ago when I saw that Central Library in Manassas was having a Fun Fair for its young patrons, ages 2-6 years old. My daughter was barely 1 ½ years old and I really wanted to take her (even though I am definitely a rules girl!) because it sounded so much fun! 

Needless to say, we waited until the following summer to partake in the fun.
The library describes this event as:  “A fun-filled hour of games designed especially for some of our smallest patrons. All of the games are non-competitive and everyone gets a prize!”
This year, the event will be held on Wednesday, August 8 at 10:30am.  Tickets are required.  You may pick up FREE tickets beginning Wednesday, August 1.  Children must be accompanied by an adult.  (Seems like a given, but this is actually stated!)
When we entered the Community Room, we received 10 tickets (at least that's what I remember). Each game cost one ticket to play and you had to save one ticket for your prize at the end. That said, each individual game did not have a prize, but for one ticket, each child got to pick something out of the treasure chest at the end.
Just like any fair, the children had to wait in line for their turns. Young volunteers and a few ladies of the library staff ran the games. Everyone was very patient with the children – especially with the younger ones who didn't always want to stand on the designated lines to play the games. Unlike regular fairs, there was not an emphasize on competition, but rather on having fun and doing your best.
My daughter was now almost 2 ½ years old and she had a blast! We sort of worked our way around the room so she got a chance to play each game at least once. You do receive enough tickets to do some of the games more than one time.  The inside games included:
  • Throwing wooden gliders through hula hoops hung from the ceiling – my daughter needed help with this one.  It seemed easy, but proved to be challenging even for the older children of the group.  One of my favorite for its creativity!
  • Apple Toss – the children used very real looking, artificial apples and tried to toss them into the baskets.  Not as easy as it sounds. 

  • Bowling – this one was very popular and had the longest line. This was one of my daughter's favorites--once she understood the rules.  They had a “real” alley and everything!
They also had a few games outside.  These included:
  • Bean bag Toss – Again, not an easy game, but they gave the younger children ample turns to feel successful! (And let them stand really close.)
  • Fishing “Pond” – This was another popular game with a long line.  The children stood around little water-filled inflatable pools with fishing poles and were given one minute to see how many fish they could catch.   Younger children may need help with this one.

  • Bubble Table – There was a table set up with bubbles and a variety of tools to blow/make bubbles.  Potentially messy, but fun.
All in all, the Fabulous Fun Fair was a hit with my preschooler and we are looking forward to doing it again this year.  I loved that the games were not competition based.   I also liked that the focus was doing well at the games, not on getting a prize at each game.  My daughter was very happy with the water toy fish she got to pick out with her last ticket.
A few pointers if you go this year:  
  • Stash one ticket right after you get them to make sure you have one left for your child to get a prize before you go.  They were asking for it last year.
  • Depending on which games your child likes, plan on being there for at least 20-30 minutes.  We got there a bit after it started and ended up staying almost the entire time.
  • Some lines may be long and they don’t move very fast.  Be ready to entertain your sweet blessings a bit.
  • Do the Bubble Table last due to its potential mess factor.
Maybe we’ll see you there!
Angela Pounders is a transplant to Manassas Park from Arlington.  She is blessed to be a stay at home mama to two beautiful girls.  As a former teacher (as well as preschool director and Children and Family Director), she is always on the look out for fun, easy and educational things to do with her girls.  She also loves to share her ideas and is looking to start her own blog, The Master’s Daughter, by the fall.

Reviews: Potomac Overlook Park

I have mommy brain.  My mommy brain syndrome (MBS) is augmented by my technology dependence syndrome (TDS, or, in my case iTDS).  Example?  We showed up for my daughter's dermatology appointment (a 45 minute drive in traffic because while I love PWC, I'm driving to the bets possible doctor our insurance will semi-pay for) only to sit for 30 minutes before the semi-rude receptionist reminded me that I cancelled this appointment when I made an earlier one for before we left for the beach.

My MBS apparently prevented me from removing that from my iCal, so when my iAlarm went off, iGotIntheCar and iDrove to the appointment.  Hence the iTDS kicker.

Being that I am also spontaneous, and had skipped swim team practice, we opted to iMap our way over to Potomac Overlook Regional Park and check out what it had to offer before doing the same thing back down i66, err, I-66, to head to a library event back down in our neck of the woods.

Potomac Overlook is located at 2845 North Marcey Road, Arlington, Virginia.  It is absolutely gorgeous for hiking, as well as having a beautiful nature center, concerts, a solar-powered outdoor stage, roving naturalists, community gardens, and canoe trips. 

We've been to Potomac Overlook once before, and we enjoyed the well-shaded hiking, especially since with water shoes on we could enjoy keeping our feet cool in the creek/river that flows through the park.  Throwback photo evidence:

Okay, so they didn't like their water shoes.  I admit, I am that horrible parent that lets my children experience the world barefoot whenever they want and my husband isn't yelling.  I don't like shoes, either, so I get it.
 In this picture my kids are 15 months, 3, and 5.  I'm wearing sporting an awesome blue Moby Wrap.  If you don't have a Moby Wrap and you have a baby or are about to have a 2nd (3rd, 4th, 5th) baby, you should stop reading this NOW and go buy one.  I'll wait. No, they're not paying me, either.
I am also that mom that lets her kid swim in the deep pool he finds.  It was warm that day.  He had an amazing time and the water was clear so that you could see straight to the bottom.  I realize this doens't mean it was clean, but it looked like it, so there.

This time, however, we never made it that far since by the time we arrived it was already 108 degrees outside.  Walking from the parking lot to the nature center, we noticed there is a fun hike with signs for each planet placed at representative distances along the path.  They include fun facts like how much a person of a certain weight (I want to say it was 100 pounds) would weigh on each planet.  On your left hand side, you'll also see the solar-powered outdoor theatre as well as an eletctric car filling station.  Trees and rocks along this main path are also labeled for your viewing pleasure. 

By the time we arrived at the nature center, my middle child informed me that he was dying, and I informed him that the nature center is air conditioned, at which point he summoned the will power to go on the three steps to the door.  It was magical.

By the way, now that my kids are 4, 6, and 8, their lives exist soley on my iphone because I'm not good enough to carry a camera, so I hope that you enjoyed the nice, clear pictures above because now we're switching back to my typical low-quality cell phone pictures.

The nature center includes a fun mix of energy saving information along with a living bee colony, live turtles, frogs and snakes, as well as some stuffed local species, skulls, and skeletons and fossils to look at.  The upper level is mostly non-living, although there is a turtle and two snakes, and the lower level is mostly snakes and frogs, along with a children's cave area, which was fun to hang around in for a few minutes even if it wasn't very large.
 The children's area included boards to make your own "cave drawings" sounds of a cave on a phone, and space to sit and read books or play with toys.  It'd be a good place to cool off and calm down on a hot day.
 There's also a lower-level educational room, which was completely devoid of people on the day we went, but looked like it must be used for field trips and scout groups.  There were some fish in the tank as well as stuffed bird and small mammal species. 
Ooooh, something stuffed.  Fun.  My kids love anything about animals, so they thought this nature center was fantastic.  It's definitely small enough that you can do it in a morning and still have time for a hike, even if you read everything in the nature center, but I enjoy that about it.

It was after this picture that my phone died.  It was sad.  So, not pictured are the community garden, Indian-themed circular garden, or the live birds of prey that are a short walk across from the nature center.  These are previously injured owls and hawks that cannot be returned to the wild due to the extent of their inuries, and you do get a very close look at them.  The owls were especially beautiful, and, as a bonus, I found a 4 foot black snake on the trail on the way up! How fantastic!

Fine, I freaked out.  But the boys thought it was amazing.

This is a great local field trip, and we enjoyed both of our visits.  Check out Potomac Overlook Regional Park for your next hike or nature event!

Potomac Overlook Regional Park
Recommended for: Any age, really.  Lots of walking, but getting to/from the nature center is stroller-friendly.  There is a long hill that is not particularly handicap-accessible, I would talk to the park rangers about the possibility of being allowed to drive to the center itself if that's an issue for your.  Older children will enjoy the various themed areas and hiking.

Pros: Free! Lots of different interests addressed.  Live and stuffed animal species, lots of labeled plants and rocks with information on species.

Cons: Nature center is somewhat small, parking is removed from areas of interest.


Week in Preview: July 30-August 5, 2012

Want to find kid-friendly events in Prince William County? Here are a few of our picks! Don't foget that you can find more details and events by clicking on the "calendar" tab at the top of the page. Have fun this week!

Also, it's summer and I'm trying to spend time outside/with the kids, too, so PLEASE send me your events!! I miss a lot when I can't spend 4 hours a day searching stuff out, so if you know of something happening, whether it's MOPS registration or a Library event I'm missing, please email it or submit it using the calendar page and clicking "propose an event"!! Let me help you spread the word for free!

Monday, July 30
Honestly, it's the same-old same ol on the Monday calendar this week, so instead, let me highlight that jcpenney is having FREE haircuts all August for kids in K-6th grades.  They start August 1st, but if you can't make it that day, make an appointment starting August 1 by calling 855-JCP-KIDS.  The appointments are VERY limited, so put it in your calendar today to make sure you get yours!! I'd imagine the end of the month (right before school starts) will fill up especially fast! In addition to the free kids cut, JCP will donate $1 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. 

Tuesday, July 31
 Head south today and check out "School House Rock LIVE!" at the Riverside Dinner Theater.  This show was sold-out popular when it played at the Workhouse in Lorton, and although it's a different cast, you can't go wrong with a little grammar rock! On Tuesdays and Thursdays, lunch shows are BYO, which means tickets are $12 rather than $16. When you pack your lunch, please remember the theater stays nut free. 

Wednesday, August 1
Melvil Dewey, International Library Superstar will be making appearances at Bull Run today at 10:30 and tomorrow at Chinn Park (10:30) and Potomac (2:00).

Thursday, August 2
Step AFRIKA will be heading to the Hylton Performing Arts Center today! The most recent in their Summer Family Series, the tickets for children to this event are only $5.  Get more details on their website and reserve your tickets while you're there!

Closer to home the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia is back at the libraries with Chinn Park at 2pm and Potomac Library at 7pm.  We attended this show at Independent Hill Library and the kids LOVED it, but it was very full, so plan to arrive early to get a seat, although both of these libraries have larger presentation areas than Independent Hill.

Friday, August 3
Mothers who have experienced the loss of a child are invited to a Yoga Class from Two Tiny hands. The yoga will be beginner level focusing on relaxing poses to help heal and restore.  You must register on a monthly basis by calling Marsha McClellan (director of the Yoga Connection) at 703-608-4138.  The Yoga Connection is located in Manassas and class is from 7-8:15pm. 

Tonight's family movie in Manassas is Dolphin Tale, which is a fantastic story about a young boy finding a passion in life for working with animals when he helps rescue an injured dolphin on the beach.  With the exception of the boy skipping school to go work with the dolphin, I don't recall any negative language or topics in this movie. 8:30pm. 

Saturday, August 4
From 9am-12pm head over to your local Home Depot to build a cork bulletin board in partnership with The Lorax movie.   These free workshops are a lot of fun!  Can't make it today? Plan to hit Lowes next weekend on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon for Dreamworks-themed projects. Home Depot Workshops are first come first served, Lowes requires registration online.

From 5pm-7:30pm the Manassas Park Community Center will host an Olympic-themed family fun night.  Crafts, games and more are $20 for a family of 5 or $5 per person.  Head to Signal Bay for this event!

Sunday, August 5
From 3-4:30 head to the Harris Pavilion for a Frank Sinatra-esque concert and free Ice Cream.


Featured Organization Friday: Leesylvania Hosts Hike for the Cause on August 11

Leesylvania State Park to Host Hike for the Cause Aug. 11
Woodbridge , VA – Leesylvania State Park , in Prince William County , will host the annual Hike for the Cause charity event on Aug. 11 to benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Hikers can register by calling 703-583-6904 or visiting http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=121459. On-site registration begins at 7 a.m., and the hike is from 9 – 11 a.m. The cost is $25.
The hike covers four miles of multi-surface terrain, through the park’s historical, wooded trails bordering the Potomac River .
The day also includes kid’s activities, prizes, refreshments and the rock band Soul Gravity in concert. The concert begins at 5 p.m. and is sponsored by Steve’s Auto Repair and the Friends of Leesylvania . Concert admission is free for participants, but a $5 parking fee will apply to non-participants.
Leesylvania ’s Hike for the Cause debuted in August 2011 and raised enough money to pay for mammograms for 16 at-risk women.
“One hundred percent of the money raised is for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The money  goes to funding and providing breast health education and screenings for medically underserved women,” said chief ranger and event coordinator Sarah Percival. 
For Percival, the event is also a celebration of cancer survivor and dedicated park volunteer, Cindy Buck-Thompson, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.
“Cindy is not only a volunteer, but also a courageous friend who has overcome so much over the years,” Percival said. “We want to continue this tradition so that we can raise awareness and show support through this worthy cause.”
Today, Buck-Thompson is a cancer survivor and continues to support and volunteer in the park.
“This event means a lot to me and my family,” Buck-Thompson said. “I appreciate it, more than I can express.”
How Buck-Thompson is feeling the morning of the hike will determine if she’ll join in the hike, but park staff, including Percival, will hike with participants as supporters for the cause.
Leesylvania hosts a variety of benefit events throughout the year, but Hike for the Cause has become a signature event largely because it means so much to so many at the park.
“Many of our staff and volunteers have been affected directly or indirectly by breast cancer, and this event is a tribute to the survivors, as well as to the courage of those who have faced or lost their lives to this disease,” explains Park Manager Karen Lambey. “Hike for the Cause is our way of showing support.”
The award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
For more information about Virginia State Parks activities and amenities or to make a reservation for one of the more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate-controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.


Potomac Nationals Barefoot and Pregnant Night

Join the Potomac Nationals for "Barefoot and Pregnant" night on August 14th.  Expecting moms get $4 tickets, as well as anyone who brings diapers for a diaper drive. One lucky momma will go home with all the collected diapers1! If you're really pregnant and go into labor at the stadium, you get season tickets for life!!


The Lorax Release Party at Potomac Mills Mall

The Lorax is copyright Universal Studios. Image from Imdb.com

Come take a walk through the colorful, captivating world of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax at Potomac Mills, the largest outlet and value retail shopping destination in Virginia, from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 28 in
Grand Court in Neighborhood 2.

In celebration of the August 7 Blu-ray™/DVD release of The Lorax movie, Simon Kidgits Club® invites kids from the Washington, DC area to visit Potomac Mills for a celebration of non-stop family-focused festivities. Families are encouraged to get creative and enjoy an imaginative adventure by participating in the following Seussian-inspired activities, all taking place in a familiar Simon mall setting:

·         Create and take home intriguing Truffula Trees, just like those featured in the movie, and a Lorax mustache to commemorate the charming creature.
·         Visit a viewing area to watch The Lorax movie trailer, learn how to draw the Lorax through a bonus feature on the Blu-ray™/DVD and hear about how the Lorax speaks for the trees.
·         Pose for a fascinating photo next to Lorax-themed standees, capturing the fun of the unique event.

Kids will also have the chance to participate in interactive offerings which are focused on preserving the environment and celebrating The Lorax’smeaningful plot. Young attendees can join the Pitch-In Recycle Game to learn about the benefits of recycling and get involved in the Seed of Hope activity to craft a Lorax planter. Before departing the event, all children will pledge to care for the environment and take home a certificate to honor their positive promise. 

“Simon Kidgits Club’s The Lorax event aims to get families together to have some fun with Dr. Seuss and think about the movie’s messages about the environmentSimon malls strive to offer parents and kids the opportunity to enjoy unique activities in a place that’s not too far from home,” said Jayne Stilson, assistant vice president of business development for Simon Brand Ventures, the business-to-consumer division of Simon Property Group.

The Simon Kidgits Club is a fun and informative program that focuses on health, wellness, education, safety and entertainment for children ages 3-8. Since 2003, the Simon Kidgits Club has kept children and parents alike amused with various events and activities while providing incentives for club members, such as special offers, rewards and games.

For more information about the Simon Kidgits Club and The Lorax events, visit www.simon.com/kidgits or check us out on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/PotomacMills and Twitter at (www.twitter.com/shoPotomacMills).

The Lorax Synopsis
The imaginative world of Dr. Seuss comes to life like never before in this visually spectacular adventure from the creators of Despicable Me! Twelve-year-old Ted will do anything to find a real live Truffula Tree in order to impress the girl of his dreams. As he embarks on his journey, Ted discovers the incredible story of the Lorax, a grumpy but charming creature who speaks for the trees. Featuring the voice talents of Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate, and Betty White, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is filled with hilarious fun for everyone!

Visit www.theloraxmovie.com for additional information.

Review: Cavalier Family Skating Center

We had the opportunity to head to Stafford to the Cavalier Family Skating Center last week with friends.  Leaving from Lake Ridge, it took us about 30 minutes to get to the Cavalier, which is located at 1920 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Stafford, Virginia.  (Hey person who asked me to include addresses, I'm talking to you!)

Coming from 95 north, the location is on your left side of Route 1.  It looks like a house with a Pizza sign, but turn in anyway, the skating center is actually BEHIND the pizza place. Generally speaking, admission is $6, skate rental is $2, Roller Blade rental is $3, and "PlayZone" admission is $3.  They do take credit cards. Admission includes a slice of pizza and a small fountain drink.  You can check for daily specials on their website.

Are you ready for the worst iPhone pictures I've ever posted? Are you sure?  I warned you!

So, obviously it's dark inside :) There are lots of lights going and you even get a little black-light style glow to any white clothes that you're wearing.  The floor is flat and surrounded by carpet, which is actually a nice way to start your new skaters out.  My ice skating boys opted for roller blades and did just fine with them, but my little figure skater had to resign herself to 4-wheeled skates because the roller blades don't start until size 13.   Right next to the skate rental area is the play zone.  You can almost see it in the junky iPhone picture above.  It's an extra $3 to use, and I refused to pay for it, but my kids didn't seem to mind or even ask about it until it was time to go and they'd taken their skates off.  There are also numerous arcade style games around that require tokens, which you need cash to get, so if you've got a gamer, plan on at least a little cash so you can get your tokens. 
Oh, look! A decent picture from the Cavalier website.  
At the opposite end of the rink there's a linoleum area with the cafe, more games, some seats, and a party area.  Word to the wise, the linoleum is SLIPPERY, especially for new skaters.  That first step from the carpet or wooden skate floor to the linoleum is a doosey! 
It's definitely a great temperature inside, and as you can see, we had the place basically to ourselves, with the exception of the disco ball, although a summer camp group did come near the end of our time.  Admission the day we went was from 10am-6pm, but we stayed from 12-3.  The music is kind of fun- I heard a few blasts from the 90s past and enjoyed it immensely :) 
 As far as cons, I've got to be honest, this place has seen better days.  You can't really see this picture well, but it's an image of where the carpeted benches meet the carpeted floor.  That white looking line is about 1/4 inch of chunky dirt that runs around the entire perimeter.  The day we went the water fountain was missing 2 of its 3 "push here" covers, so there were just holes in the fountain where they should have been, and there was a bench top missing from one of the tables in the cafe area, so there was just bare metal left.  The floor to skate on was definitely clean and smooth, and the kids had a really great time skating, but if I kept my Dyson in the back of my car, I would have busted it out for awhile.

In addition to school groups and camps, the roller skating rink also offers birthday parties, which are currently priced from $129-$199 for 9 guests plus the birthday child.

Cavalier Family Skating Center
Pros: Admission fee is good for the entire day, lots of special event skates.  Indoor option that keeps the kids moving, all 3 of my children (4, 6 and 8 years old) had a good time.  The weekday we went it was basically empty.

Cons: Extra cost for play area, facility needs serious cleaning.

Recommended for: A day inside, but be sure to bring some hand sanitizer when you're done.


Guest Post: When You Get, Give

“When You Get, Give”
Guest Post by: Sherri Gray, Certified Personal Finance Counselor®

In a previous post, I talked about couponing. I love to coupon now. Getting discounts on products that I used to pay full price for is amazing. It makes me wonder now why I ever paid full price for razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, nail polish, paper towels, bathroom tissue, cleansers, soap, snacks, cereal, detergent, pasta, etc. You get the point.

Unfortunately, I don’t always get the deals that I want because some consumers choose to ‘clear the shelves’ instead of leaving product behind for others or the store doesn’t have enough in stock to begin with. Missing out on deals can be frustrating but it won't deter me from trying to get more deals as every dollar I save is a dollar my family can keep in its pocket.

Because of couponing, I’ve purchased products at drastically reduced prices and have even gotten some products for free. As I started building my stockpile of products, I realized that I was accumulating multiples of certain items and even acquired items that I wouldn’t normally use, because I got them for free.

It got me to thinking. There’s a residual effect to couponing that I hadn’t realized before. Not only can I get great deals on products for my family but I can give away my excess products to those who really need them.

So, I decided to start giving away some of the products that I’ve accumulated to non-profit organizations and food pantries who can distribute the products to families who need them. I’ve also given items to families who are struggling financially.

Maya Angelou said “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” I’ve learned that even though I’m on a tight budget, when I get something, it’s my responsibility to give. And you can do the same. There are several resources available to get you started with donating through couponing.

For manufacturer coupons, check your Sunday newspaper or print online coupons at www.coupons.com, www.redplum.com, www.smartsource.com, or http://coupons.target.com, just to name a few. There are also a variety of retailers that have their own in store coupons which can be used in conjunction with manufacturer coupons for additional savings.

You can also donate expired coupons to troops overseas that can use coupons in overseas commissaries for up to 6 months after the expiration date. This is another way to give, especially to the men and women who serve our country. Happy Couponing!

Find more ways to save money by going to The Money Mom website at www.themoneymom.org or following The Money Mom Deals Blog at http://themoneymomdeals.blogspot.com/. For more tips on couponing, listen to my April 10 Blog Talk Radio Show, featuring Extreme Couponer Janelle Bowles, at www.blogtalkradio.com/themoneymom


Week in Preview July 23-29, 2012

Welcome to late July and early August.  It's that magical time of year in Virginia where the days are (mostly) unbearably hot and humid, and the afternoons and evenings bring brief respite in the form of very sudden thunderstorms. Yay.

In all seriousness, I love the thunder- it's my favorite thing in the world to fall asleep to.  I don't love the whining, hot children or trying to fit in a hike or playground time between the heat/sun and lightening!

Here, then, are a few indoor picks for the week, with a few outdoor ideas scattered in for the brave and/or heat loving among us!

Monday, July 23
At 10:30, head over to the Dale City library (intersection of Dale Blvd and Minnieville Road) for "Crafty Critters and Insect Exploration" brought to you by the PWC Gypsy Moth and Mosquito Control Board.  Your child will create an insect-themed craft while learning about insect habitats, body parts, lifecycle and more.  This activity will take place at several libraries at various dates and times- check the details on the calendar for more information!

Tuesday, July 24
Tuesdays at 12, Tea Time Tea Room in Gainesville, Virginia offers a story time complete with lemonade.

Superstar Plants will be featured at the "Plant Olympics", held today at 2pm at Potomac Library.  The program is limited to the first 30 children, so plan to arrive early. This program will be held on multiple dates at various locations, so be sure to check the details on the calendar to find the day and location that work best for you.

Wednesday, July 25
It's Parent/Tot Playdate time at Waterworks Waterpark in Dale City! Swim from 9-10:30am for $3.50 per child.

Beowulf T. Wonderbunny will be the star of Little Tots at Atlas Walk in Gainesville, Virginia at 10:30am.  Read our review of this great program here.

Bull Run and Central Libraries will be offering "Sing and Dance with Vanessa Trien" at 10:30am and 3pm, respectively.  This program will also be held at other libraries and dates, so be sure to read the complete details on the calendar.

Thursday, July 26
Lawrence the Magician – Come be amazed, astounded and have your funny bone tickled as Lawrence the magician once more takes the stage at Locust Shade.  This program begins at 10am and is $4 per person over age 2.  Want to know what to expect? Check out our Locust Shade review here.

There are a few JoAnn Fabrics classes this week.  We've got a list of them right here.  Today's is a Sew Sweet Pillow camp.

Friday, July 27
Bubble Camp happens each Friday, and my daughter LOVES it! The cost is $35 which includes lunch, craft, and fun from 9-3. Pre-register by calling 703-590-3320

Check out the calendar for movie nights and kids night out options.  There's nothing wrong with a date night for you on a Summer Night!

Saturday, July 28

At 1pm head over to Brentsville Courthouse for story time.  It's $2 per child. 

Lorton Workhouse has a free community concert at 7pm.  Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and come enjoy the music! Picnics are welcome, too. 

Speaking of Lorton Workhouse, they'll also be having a Music Together preview class today.  You must pre-register using this link. 

Sunday, July 29
At 12:10 you can head to Prince William Ice Center for a refreshing day inside, and get some exercise, too.  We love spending time on the ice as a family, and while you're there, check out their summer camp offerings for hockey and figure skating.

At 3pm you can check out a free concert in Old Town Manassas including ice cream afterwards.  That'll take the edge off the heat a little, anyway!

Shaken, Not Stirred

I don't usually blog about my personal life in this space, mainly because I assume that no one cares, but I wanted to share something and this seemed like the space to do it.

I messed up yesterday (This is no news flash, I mess up a lot).

At our swim meet, my husband and I were hanging out in Tent City where all the parents sit and pass the five or six hours that a swim meet generally takes in a position much closer to the parking lot than the pool when this guy showed up:

okay, not this actual guy, but a similar guy.
No joke.  We sat and watched as a man in a grim reaper costume with his face fully covered by a mask walked towards the other team's tent city.  In my head I wanted to get up and say something, but then a woman got in front of him and took a picture, so I decided that maybe it was a joke or something and I didn't move from my chair.  I didn't feel great about that decision, but I did it anyway.

A few minutes later, when the first police car showed up, my stomach dropped.  I hopped up to find my kid, but luckily he was already on his way towards me.  Frequently at swim meets your children aren't with you- either they're checking in a few events before they swim and they're waiting in a corral or they're off in another tent playing with friends.

**Nobody gets hurt in this story**

I wasn't sure at the time what had happened, but when I got an email today that the grim reaper made it all the way down to clerk of course (where children go to check in before their events and wait for their turn to swim) I realized what an idiot I was.  I try not to be the type of parent that assumes that everyone is out to hurt my children, and, in fact, this guy had showed up to prank his brother in law on his birthday, but what if it wasn't a joke? Coming off of the tragedy in Colorado this week, it shook me to the core to realize that at least 100 parents had to see this guy and assume he was safe enough to let him right up to where our children were.  I don't know fully what happened that the police had to become involved, but I do know that I wish I'd stood up and assumed it wasn't a harmless joke.

I'm not usually a helicopter parent, but I'm shaken enough by knowing just where this guy ended up to realize that maybe I need to put a little more flight plan into my daily life.

What would you have done if you saw the grim reaper heading into a swim meet? 


Featured Organization Friday: No Woman, No Cry

Heads up on some upcoming events for a local group operating in honor of their friend, Jenny Vaugh-Bates.  The 2nd Annual 5K is coming up in September, but before that, you can "party with a purpose" and help kick off fundraising efforts.  Next Saturday, July 28th, head to the Mainstreet Bar and Grill in Stafford for drinks and live music.  1005 of the cover charge (it's $5) will be donated to No Woman no Cry, a domestic violence charity. 

Want to plan ahead for the 2nd Annual Jenny Vaughn-Bates Memorial 5K? It's coming up September 15th from 8:30am-11:30am at Freedom High School in Woodbridge.


Giveaway: Brick Fair 2012

Coming August 4th and 5th to the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia, it's Brick Fair! If you have a Lego Lover of any age, this is definitely one to check out!

The fair recommends you allot at least 90 minutes to see everything, but tickets are valid for all day admission.  The Brick Fair is open each day from 11am-4pm.  Parking is free. There's plenty to see, play with, and even win! Lego giveaways happen at 1pm and 3pm each day.

From the official website:

LEGO models, displays and winding trains sprawled out over 100,000 square feet.
BrickFair brings together adult fans of LEGO from across the USA (and Canada, and a few other countries) to show off their projects, great and small, and to share their passion for LEGO - the most awesome toy - ever.
LEGO fan festivals like BrickFair are great fun for the whole family!
Join in a game or two - maybe win a LEGO set.
Vendors will be offering all things LEGO, including shirts, hats, minifigures, custom-molded weapons, unique models, keychains and... really... everything you never imagined.
Thanks to the great folks at Washington Family Magazine, PwcMoms is happy to offer a family 4 pack of tickets for either day of Brick Fair 2012!! Since it REALLY bothered some of you that you had to email, you may enter 1 of 3 ways that guarantee I can get in touch with you:

1- Leave a comment on this post WITH your email address.  Yes, that means you put your email address out for the world to see

2- Email Me with "Brick Fair 2012" in the subject line

3- Tweet the following message: I want to go to @BrickFair thanks to @FamilyMagDC and @PwcMoms!

Enter however you'd like by midnight on July 27th, 2012.  A winner will be selected and notified via email or twitter and Facebook on July 28th, 2012.
Winner will be selected on July 28th.  Winners must claim their prize by July 30th or a new winner will be selected.  Prize provided by Washington Family Magazine and Brick Fair 2012.  Winner assumes all risk and liability.  PwcMoms was provided with courtesy tickets in return for this post.  


Lemonade "Yard Sale" in Occoquan

DATE:This Friday & Saturday
TIME: 11am - 5 pm
LOCATION: Various Occoquan Shops
Look for a Yellow Balloon
MORE: Discounts & Sales up to 75% off
Discounts vary by shop
Lemon treats to keep you going!

Join participating merchants in Occoquan, Virginia for a great discount sale complete with Lemonade and Lemon Treats to keep your shopping spirit up!! Allegedly it's going to cool down to the high 80s and low 90s this weekend, just in time for the sale, so why not go out and pick up a few cute finds? July 20 and July 21st, 2012- just like an early Christmas in July ;) While you're down there, be sure to visit our friends at Touch of Gold who alerted us to this special event! And don't worry, if you don't like jewelry, you can always send me a thank you Troll Bead for working so hard to keep you informed.  I won't mind ;) 

Meet Hallabolou

Hallabolou is a full service Children’s Enrichment and Event Company.  I first met their owner, Vanessa, at the Chick-Fil-A Fire and Rescue Fest.  I instantly decided that I needed to know the woman with the purple apron and approximately 75 pounds of Legos.  Bright, enthusiastic, and passionate about engaging and enriching children's lives, Vanessa instantly won me over on Hallabolou (a secret message saying hello to her children) and her work there.  Read more about them below, and be sure to check them out on Facebook and their Website, too! They offer classes, after school enrichment, camps, and more!

From the owner:
Our enrichment programs and camps are dedicated to creating an atmosphere that fosters each child’s feeling of autonomy and positive self-image.  From a young age, children are fascinated with the world around them.  Hallabolou uses this fascination to teach life skills and assist children in understanding and expressing their emotions through a creative technique known as the Five Points of Discovery. These points are Imagination, Determination, Commitment, Self-Confidence and Cooperation. Through our offerings of bRiK Programs or Learning Levels we teach STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. We enrich their experiences by also providing a Dance and Movement program, Educational Cooking for Kids, Theater and Art.