8/29/12

Guest Post: National Night Out in Prince William County


Anglea Pounders, a frequent contributor to PwcMoms.com, gives her feedback on the National Night Out in Manassas Park, Virginia.  For more information on National Night Out, visit their website. 
National Night Out is a nationwide event that is held the first Tuesday in August and was from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm at Signal Hill Park for Manassas Park. I checked out to see what other local cities were doing and let me tell you, Manassas Park really does this event up!  Not only is this a time for communities and local law enforcement to stand together against crime and interact in a laid back environment, it is a night full of fun for the family!  The night included free food, giveaways/freebies and a variety of local, state and federal vehicles to view up close and personal. We have gone to this event for several years and were looking forward to attending again this year.

We weren’t so lucky to get a parking spot on the park grounds, but we got one of the first spots in the field across the street.  Police were directing traffic by the entrance of the park, so that made it easier to get where we needed to go—both for parking and crossing the busy street with a toddler in a stroller and a preschooler in tow.

From www.manassaspark.patch.com
McGruff the Crime Dog greeted everyone as we made our way into Signal Hill Park.  As we got closer to the event area (it’s a little walk), we could hear bagpipes playing.  Finally, we saw three men all decked out in kilts serenading the group.  Live music is always a plus.
The first thing we did was to go and see the Chick-fil-A cow.  My 3½ year old is in love with that thing.  So of course, we ended up at Chick-fil-A Signal Hill’s tent.  They had a prize wheel with awesome prizes.  We left with a CFA water bottle and coupons for a free kids’ meal, a sandwich and a lemonade.  A good start to the night, I’d say!
Then, we decided to get dinner before the lines got too long and there were still tables available.  The set up was a bit different from years past.  The picnic tables were set on the other side of the pavilion away from the grills and such.  This was nice except the ground tilts on that side.  All of the tables appeared to be leaning!  It made for some tricky balancing on the table, but we survived!
They had some live music under the pavilion while we ate.  I suggest bringing a picnic blanket if you arrive later in the night so you have a place to sit.  According to Manassas Park Police via www.manassaspark.patch.com, some 3,000 people turned out for the event.  That’s a lot of water and food!!  Of course, they had the usual grilled burgers and hot dogs, but they also had pizza, cold sandwiches and Chick-fil-A sandwiches.  On the side, there was watermelon, chips, cookies and freshly made popcorn (which ran non-stop all night).  My girls were a bit too hot (it was quite humid) and excited to eat too much though.
The Aaron’s dog, Lucky, served as one of the distractions during dinner.  My 3½ year old was actually following him around!  I guess she has a thing for big, fuzzy animals. Their giveaways included a stuffed Lucky and an Aaron’s baseball cap.
Our next stop was the helicopters!  A little Miss Someone was very eager to get a closer look this year as we missed out last year.  How many people get this opportunity in their lives?
First, we saw Aircare 1, a medevac helicopter used to take patients to area hospitals.  My daughter loved sitting in the back and checking out everything.  
There was also a border patrol helicopter manned by a gentleman with a large firearm.  We got to sit inside this one as well.  They even let the children try on the headphones with microphones – very cool.
Many local, state and federal agencies had tables set up with information and giveaways like pencils, stickers and coloring sheets for the children.  Local businesses and the utility companies had tables as well.  Several of the tables had candy for the children, but we had to keep declining because we don’t do lollipops in my house.
However, we do eat sno-cones! Snowie BUS was there with free shaved ice for the children; adults had to purchase their cones.  There was a flavor station next to the bus where you could pump out your own flavoring.  A fun idea except for the bees that were hanging around!  This served as a great way of keeping my girls hydrated on such a humid, warm night.
After our little break, the family checked out the numerous vehicles on-site.  These included the typical fare such as a police car and fire engine to the not-so-typical 8-foot-tall Alpine Pit-Bull VX armored SWAT vehicle, a replica of the Delorean time machine used in the Back to the Future movies, and “Barricade,” a 2006 Ford Mustang GT used in the 2007 Transformers movie.
My 3½ year old really enjoyed checking out the SWAT vehicle and with Daddy’s help, got to stick her head out of the manhole in the roof. We even got a close up view of how big a dump truck tire is.  (It was actually very clean.)

After three hours of walking around the park, exploring the vehicles and such, everyone was ready to go home.  We were tired and sweaty, but couldn’t go without the promised freshly popped popcorn.  Who knew so many people would want popcorn!?  I waited in line forever, but my sweet girl was very patient.  There was even some watermelon left over for her little sister.
Above the glow of the police lights, God blessed us with this beautiful sunset before we left.  All in all, a fun, but tiring night!

Additional thoughts:
  • Arrive early for a good parking spot.
  • Be prepared for the weather!  There is little to no shade from the sun and it is usually humid this time of year.  Bring sun protection and stay hydrated!
  • Bring a blanket to sit on, unless you don’t mind sitting on the grass, because picnic tables fill up fast!
  • The bathrooms are located under the pavilion and were pretty decent.  (You know me and bathrooms!) Bring hand sanitizer though. 
  • Bring a bag to carry home your goodies in.  We had very minimal stuff to bring home (as I was determined not to pick up a bunch of things “just because”) but still, a bag would’ve been nice.
  • Take some time to actually talk with the law officials and thank them for what they do.  Plus, you might learn something new!
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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 will be starting her own blog, The Master’s Daughter, by the fall.

8/28/12

Guest Post: Building Good Teacher/Day Care Provider Relationships


Building good relationships with your daycare provider/teacher
By Nicole Dash, Tiny Steps Mommy
The start of school is a time of new beginning for many families. This year, my three older children start eighth grade, first grade, and kindergarten (insert sad face here). In my daycare, I am welcoming a few new children to replace my rising kindergarteners.
For many parents with children beginning daycare, preschool, or kindergarten for the first-time, the question is always the same. How do we stay connected with our children? When they are infants, we depend on and expect their providers to relay pertinent information about what how many ounces they drink, what they eat, whether they had a BM or not, etc. As they get a little older, our child care providers and teachers may share information about what they are learning, what story they read, and what fun activities occupy their day. But, this is not all we want to know. Are they having fun? Do they have a best friend and play well with others? Are they discovering something new each day? Did someone hurt their feelings? Do they enjoy learning?
So, how do we find out the answers to all these questions? The truth is as our children grow, we have to accept that sometimes we will not know everything that happens each day. Not even a webcam can tell the whole story. As children spend more time away from us, they develop a world beyond our scope. It hurts to think about, but it is a normal part of growing up. 
There are ways, however, to gain glimpses into this world. And this is through the eyes of their teachers and child care providers. As a child care provider, I feel privileged to witness the dynamics between the children who spend so much time together. With each month, their relationships become more intricate. Some days, I feel like I am observing a social experiment. 
If you build a positive and open relationship with your child’s provider/teacher then perhaps you will hear about stories that go beyond the daily report. Here are some tips for building a relationship with your child’s daycare provider/teacher. These tips may not make a difference beyond kindergarten, but are certainly worth a try.
  1. Introduce yourself. This may seem simple, but as your child heads into a larger setting, you want your child’s teacher to know you beyond “mom of one of the students.” You want your child’s teacher to know your name, face, and perhaps something about you.
  2. Ask their preferred form of communication. Don’t bombard your teacher/provider at the end of each day. Instead ask their preferred form of communication. Let them know you want to hear stories and updates. Not just on their “academic” progress, but about their social interactions. Sometimes you just have to ask.
  3. Don’t over communicate. Just because your teacher/provider gives you his/her e-mail or cell phone number does not mean you should call or e-mail every day, on weekends, or just because. Save your phone calls and e-mails for real questions or occasional check-ins. And be patient with a response. Your teacher/provider has a personal life and may not be able to (want to) respond at midnight or on Saturdays.
  4. Volunteer your time. Find out how your provider/teacher feels about volunteers. Even if you work full-time, try to make yourself available at least once or twice a year. I have always worked, so my ability to volunteer regularly is limited. I do, however, make a point to attend special events, like Thanksgiving lunch, Mother’s Day teas, or other special events. Your teacher and children will appreciate the effort.
  5. Offer to help. Teachers and providers often spend their own money on supplies. Ask if there is anything you can provide or bring to the classroom. Even better is to simply donate supplies like tissues, glue sticks, and anti-bacterial wipes throughout the year without waiting to be asked.
  6. Get to know them. Be interested in your teacher/provider as a person. Ask them about their weekend. Get to know if they have a family. Did they grow up locally? Is this their first year teaching? Did they have a profession before teaching? Don’t interrogate, but let this getting to know you process happen organically. The more you and your provider/teacher get to know each other, the more comfortable he/she will be sharing about your child.
  7. Be appreciative. You don’t have to buy expensive gifts or make grand gestures to show your appreciation. My favorite things have been handwritten and personal cards telling me how I have made a difference. Showing your appreciation is important, because it helps teachers/providers get through the hard days.
  8. Be proactive.  If you sense a problem at school, or if your child is suddenly acting out at home, please do not wait to communicate these issues. Your teacher/provider is there to help you and your child. They may not be aware of an issue, but probably have the insight needed to fill in the blanks.
Taking these steps may not guarantee the extra information you desire, but, it can go a long way to making you feel connected. And the next time your provider/teacher witnesses a funny scenario or example of some positive accomplishment, he/she may think to pull you aside or e-mail you to tell you the story simply because of the mutual relationship.
Do you have suggestions for building a positive relationship with your child’s teacher? Do you have a story about a good or bad relationship with your child’s provider? I want to hear from you. Connect with me on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/TinyStepsMommy) and visit www.TinyStepsMommy.com, a blog about family life and caring for children – yours and mine, to read more.
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About Nicole Dash, The Tiny Steps Mommy
Nicole Dash, creator of the blog Tiny Steps Mommy (www.TinyStepsMommy.com), is a mother of four, childcare business owner and writer living in Annandale, Va. Five days a week she welcomes infants, toddlers, preschoolers and all their parents to Tiny Steps Day Care, her home-based daycare and preschool.

8/25/12

Guest Post: Last-Minute Back to School Shopping

Thanks to Laura Harders, AKA Beltway Bargain Mom, for following up with us on her input to PotomacLocal.com about back to school shopping!



Back-to-School shopping can be stressful and expensive, and perhaps you've been putting it off to the last possible moment. Whether you've been dreading *or delighting* in the back-to-school frenzy, I want to encourage you not to panic! Here in Prince William County, the public schools start back up the day after Labor Day, so you still have some time to get in gear for the school year. In case you need to do some shopping still or want to donate supply items on-the-cheap to local charities or organizations like Operation Christmas Child, I'm here to help! Here are my top 7 savings tips to help you with your last-minute back-to-school shopping:
  1. Shop in your house first. If your child has supplies from last year that are still good this year, like scissors, colored pencils, highlighters, ruler, calculator, etc, you don't need to buy new ones. Check your supply closet or craft drawer for items you already have.
  2. Stick to your list. Check your school's website for your supply list by grade, so you know the exact supplies you need. After you "shop" in your house, then make a list of the items you need to buy.
  3. Shop the sales. There are still some great deals to be had! The office supply stores have many 1-cent deals or 50%+ deals on back-to-school supplies. Take advantage of these sales and stock up.
  4. Use Coupons. You'll find many school supply coupons in your Sunday paper as well as printable coupons online. Also, some stores accept competitor coupons as well.
  5. Drug Stores & Office Supply Stores. Check out the drug stores & office supply stores for deals. Look at the weekly circulars for extreme deals such as Staples 1-cent Extreme Deals, and free-after-rebate items. You may not think of the drug store or office supply stores as your center for back-to-school deals, but they have quite a few!
  6. Price match. Take advantage of stores that price match, such as Office Depot, Staples, Target and Walmart. If a hot sale item is out-of-stock at a store and they don't offer a rain check, you can take your store ad/circular to a competitor that price matches to get the same deal. Price-matching can also help you save time, by combining shopping trips into 1 stop at a single store for that week's sale items.
  7. Go plain. If your child is intent on buying name brand or "official" rockstar/sports team/super hero branded gear, encourage them to buy a plain/generic item and decorate. You can buy stickers, patches and other DIY items on the cheap at your local craft store to help give notebooks, binders, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc. a personal touch.
Credit: Amber Seat Photography

Laura Harders lives in Prince William County and is a native Northern Virginian who loves to share ways to save. She runs the blog BeltwayBargainMom.com and teaches local Savings Nation coupon workshops. You can find Laura sharing tips & being social on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


8/23/12

Traditions

Y'all.

I. Am. So. Tired.

In what can only be described as one of my more brilliant epic fails, I decided that we could TOTALLY go to one more week at the beach, drive the nine (9) hours home the day before our homeschool co-op started, be ready to go in the morning, and be happy and functional enough to teach my class. This didn't leave a lot of time for frilly back to school hullabaloo like bento-lunches or the back to school fairy.  It barely left time for some version of success making it to class on time.

I'm a genius, it's okay, you don't have to tell me, I'm confident in that knowledge ;)

When I was growing up, my mom was great about traditions.  She likes to remind me that she made hot breakfast practically every day, for example, and the first day of school was always something awesome.  She was also consistent about taking first day of school pictures, so consistent that I actually made my college roommates take first day of school pictures of me so that I could email them to her.  No joke.

Traditions are one of those interesting things when you become a mom.  I spent my first very uncertain years of motherhood trying to emulate what my mother had done because that seemed right (?) at the time.  Then I got bold.  Really bold.  I announced that since we had the little kids, I would be having Christmas chez moi, and I would be cooking dinner.  I went 50 Shades of Martha Stewart, you guys.  I made $70 of prime rib, twice baked potatoes with chives and creme fraiche, red velvet cake from scratch....this is why I need an eating plan.  I cooked for 3 days.  It was epic.

My momma showed up at the front door with our traditional Christmas dinner of everything most people eat for Thanksgiving.

True Story.

Anyway, over time, we've come to be comfortable in our new traditions that work for our family.  Some of them are new (I make my kids an upgraded breakfast on the first day of school, too.  Bagels with Cream Cheese as opposed to "pour your own cereal in a dixie cup and let's get moving!") and some of them are old.  I can't imagine beginning a school year without back to school pictures, and I'm so glad that I do.  It's such a great way to really fully understand how much your child has changed over the years.  When you see them every day, it's easy to forget how much they've changed over time- but seeing those "first day photos" all lined up in a row, it's shocking how much they change.  My kids look forward to the tradition of shopping for a new first day outfit, something a little bit dressy, but not so stuffy they won't be "cool", laying it out the night before, and even the picture itself.

I enjoy having a mini-heart attack when I realize that my first baby is 1/2 way to college.
Holy Heck, y'all.  Kindergarten to 3rd Grade is a change!! (note to self: Make new friends with photography skills so I don't have to apologize to my children that their entire life is documented in iPhone photos)


What are your back-to-school traditions like? Do you go all-out with apple-shaped pancakes and goody bags at the breakfast table? Do you do first day photos? Leave a comment, it makes my day :)



Virginia Gateway Goodbye To Summer

Hey Bristow/Gainesville Peeps!! Check out this fun End of Summer party happening at Virginia Gateway!!

8/19/12

Max Muscle- Week 1

I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I went to meet with the very awesome Corry Matthews of Max Muscle.  Corry is someone that really intimidated me on paper.  She's a former fitness model, co-author of a book (a real book!), and owner of a business, namely Max Muscle.
I really want to dislike people that look this awesome pregnant. 
If there is ever a store that I didn't contemplate ever entering for even a second, y'all, it had to be Max Muscle.

Just the name was enough to scare me.  I am not now, nor do I ever have aspirations of being a bodybuilder.  Heck, as I openly admit I don't even really care to be fit, I just want to be skinny.  So, when Corry contacted me about coming out to the store and talking about some ways she could help out my readers, I sat in my car staring at the storefront for a few minutes trying to decide what I was walking into.  Then I manned up and went in.  They're located at 12849 Galveston Court Manassas, right across from Confections, so I figured if it went really bad, I'd just head across the street. ;)

Guys, this might be the best-kept secret in Prince William County, but Max Muscle is not necessarily just for people who currently possess "Max Muscle".  Corry explained to me that one of her passions, and part of the reason that she wrote her book, is post-natal wellness in mothers.  We see all these women in the media who pop out a baby and leave the hospital in size zero jeans and then we beat ourselves up.  So, while she does work with competitive athletes, and even people who are really fit and want to take their fitness next-level, she's also here to help regular people who are just looking for a quality of life change.  She can help you up your energy level or drop a few pounds post-baby.  Her store stocks energy and protein bars and shakes as well as supplements, and she's even set it up so that if you're new to fitness, you don't have to go past the first 2 feet of the store.

Oh, also- if you've got a student-athlete, Corry has great information on nutrition and even diet plans for them, too! She's helped high-school wrestlers and football players add lean muscle mass rather than bulking up with fat, and she can also help parents who are looking to help their multi-sport players (hello my family!) stay well-fed and fit.

We talked for a few minutes, and then Corry invited me to try out their Max Formation program, which involves assessing your current body fat, measurements, physical activity, and calorie needs and tailoring a system of eating to help you meet your fitness goals.

Listen, she's good you guys. I let her take my measurements in the first 10 minutes of knowing me and my husband doesn't even know how much I weigh.  When she asked about my eating habits, I didn't feel judged or embarrassed at all, and she was very gentle about making corrections to how I currently do things, but also firm with the fact that they needed to happen.  For example, I openly admitted I frequently don't have my first food of the day until around lunchtime or later.  Corry said that was a very common mistake that a lot of women make, but then told me that I was going to have to suck it up and eat breakfast. That's a perfect balance for me.  Don't make me feel stupid, tell me you get that it's hard, tell me to do it anyway.  It works!
This is my magic spreadsheet.  It's pretty amazing. 
This post is getting really long, so let me cut to the chase.  over the next 3 months I'll be using the customized Excel Spreadsheet that I was provided with.  It's got a pull-down menu for each meal so I can keep making my family meals as I usually do and it will provide me with portion sizes.  I spent $64 on protein powder mix (um, yeah, that almost made me drop dead, but then I realized it's just over $1 per serving and I spend a lot more than that on iced tea at Starbucks).  I've gotten a lot of feedback from friends that think that too much protein makes you big, or that you need to totally cut out carbs, or that you need to eat only egg whites, but I'm going to try this for 3 months, and I'll share with you guys how it's going.  It seems like a really reasonable plan, and I'm kind of at the point where I'll try anything.

I didn't have an ideal weight in mind, but Corry's measurements helped me set a super-embarrasing 40 pound goal.  It's been 1 week, and I'm -2.  I'm also on vacation this week, and with the exception of driving to South Carolina alone in the car and using Diet Coke and snacks as a crutch to stay awake (I drove from 7pm to 3am), I've had no problems following the plan as directed, and I even really like the protein shakes, which aren't required, but I bought because they're really fast and easy for breakfast, rather than cooking for myself every day.

If you've got questions or comments you'd like answered as we go along, I'd be happy to answer them, or to get answers for them from Corry.

Also, Max Muscle Manassas will be having their 5th Anniversary in September, and they're holding a 5K to benefit the Semper Fi Fund in celebration.  I'm planning to run jog it at a moderate pace, and if you'd like to join me, I'd be happy to put together a team of us!

Aaaaannnnddd.....other than that just cross your fingers for me because failing in front of an entire audience of people would be mortifyingly embarrassing.

Oh, aaaannnnddd (since I'm apparently typing things out the way I hear them in my head right now) if you go in to Max Muscle Manassas and tell them you're a PwcMoms reader, they'd be happy to give you 10% off this week. Just show them this post on your smart phone (or if you don't have a smart phone, just tell them, it's random enough that you should be good).




8/17/12

Featured Organization Friday: Pink in the Park

Okay, so this isn't technically a featured organization, but it's an event for an organization that's feature-worthy!

The Potomac Nationals will be partnering with the American Cancer Society to bring you "Pink in the Park" on Saturday, August 25th at 6:35pm right here in Woodbridge, Virginia.  Tickets are only $8 and HALF of each ticket will go towards the Making Strides Walk.  For everyone that wears Pink to the game (not a problem if you have my wardrobe!) the Potomac Nationals have pledged an additional $1 donation.  

8/16/12

Giveaway: Free Week of Camp!!


ATA Martial Arts (8088 Sudley Road, Manassas VA) emailed us to let us know they have a few spots left in their last week of Summer Camp, which runs August 27-31st, and that they'd like to fill one of them with a PwcMoms giveaway!


Camp is for ages 6 and up, and runs from 8am-5pm.  It's an active camp, so your child will be busy and engaged "minus the video games" according to the description from the owner.


If you don't win, camp is a great price for this area at $150 for full-day care.  There are 4 spots remaining for camp, minus the spot available through this giveaway!!  Thanks so much to ATA Martial Arts for this great giveaway!!

To Win:
Enter up to 4 ways.  Leave a comment indicating you've completed each.  If I cannot contact you, you cannot win, so be sure that you provide an email address, either in your comment or by emailing it to me separately!
1- "Like" (or have already liked) ATA Martial Arts on Facebook and leave a comment here saying you did
2- "Like" (or have already liked) PwcMoms on Facebook and leave a comment here saying you did
3- Tweet the link to this contest and include @PwcMoms in your tweet and leave a comment here saying you did
4- Email your entry to PwcMoms

Remember, winners are picked at random, so please do not try to break my heart thinking it will help! It just makes me sad!! Winner will be selected at random at midnight on Sunday, August 19th and announced on Monday, August 20th.

Good luck!  (Also, be sure to check out ATA Martial Arts for the school year, too!)
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Disclaimer: No purchase necessary, winner assumes all liability and risk, PwcMoms is not responsible for winner's individual experience or any injuries from taking part in a martial arts based program.  Winner has 24 hours to claim their prize or it will be forfeit and offered to the next randomly selected winner.  PwcMoms is not responsible for ensuring you receive your notification in a timely manner.

Guest Post: Freshman Fashion 101



FRESHMAN FASHION 101

The smell of school is in the air, and mini-vans are being packed to the brim with dorm room essentials as first-time collegians head off to their new homes away from home.  In addition to must-haves like  mini fridges and extra long twin sheets, there are a few fashion essentials for today’s college student: 

  1. Cute, Comfy Shoes
College students walk.  A LOT.  Even if you are lucky enough to have your own car, most freshmen often have to walk the equivalent of a 5K to get from the designated satellite parking to the dorm. Thus, cute and comfy shoes are a crucial ingredient in a college student’s recipe for success.  Try a retro looking sneaker that evokes a casual hipster vibe…PUMA Outlet offers a great assortment of fun styles that are old school without being outdated.

          2. Novelty Tees
In the first few weeks of freshman year, you’ll find that mixers galore are in store.  As the “Where are you from?” and “What’s your major?” conversations get old, a novelty tee can inspire new topics.  For example, a tee depicting a favorite band or destination can be an excellent conversation-starter.  And gals, today’s tees are not the oversized, boxy styles of days gone by – soft fabrics, vintage looks and feminine fits make them a very cute way to showcase your “personali-tee!” 
3.  Premium Denim Jeans
Jeans are a wardrobe staple for just about everyone, and college students are no exception.  Whether they’re worn with a North Face fleece or paired with a cute top and heels, let’s face it – we   jeans! Since they will be worn regularly throughout your college career, invest in a pair with a flattering fit that will last from freshman orientation to graduation.  Try True Religion Outlet for premium denim looks for less.

         4. A Wristlet
Once in college, you’ll find that a backpack becomes your number one accessory.  With pockets galore, there’s little need to carry a purse, so lighten your load and put the necessities (student ID, keys, debit/credit cards, cash, lip gloss) in a wristlet.  This can easily pop into one of your backpack pockets, or it can be carried separately if you’re running to the dining hall or embarking on another backpack-free outing.  Wristlets are also fabulous for budget conscious college students since they’re much less expensive than their full-size purse counterparts.  Check out Coach Factory for trendy, fashion-forward styles featuring the quality for which this brand is known!

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Caroline Barry Green is the Director of Marketing at Potomac Mills and the mother of two budding fashionistas under the age of three.   All stores listed in italics are located at Potomac Mills.  

8/15/12

NOVA BMX

We were really fortunate to be invited to a super-awesome birthday party at the NOVA BMX track in Woodbridge, Virginia.  The kids had a great time and were getting lots of fresh air and exercise, which was fantastic.  I thought going into it that there was no way we'd make it more than 10 minutes (long pants and long-sleeves are required for safety reasons and it was 102 degrees!), but the kids didn't complain at all! 


From treasurer Brenda Powers:
Our track is owned by Prince William County Park Authority.  We are a 501(c)3 organization and run solely by volunteers.  BMX is an individual sport and is very family oriented.  BMX became an Olympic sport in 2008 and this year we are celebrating the 2nd year of BMX in the Olympics.  It is a great sport and because of the Olympics it is growing in popularity.  Unfortunately, our track seems to be one of Prince William County's best kept secrets!  We are trying to get the word out as often as we can.  Hopefully your web site can help us accomplish this.

BMXBackyard.com
The track, located at 7 County Complex CourtWoodbridge, VA 22192, offers clinics, races, and practice time memberships.  Not sure if your child will like it enough to sign up for a 30 Day Membership? That's okay- you can come out for a FREE one-day trial membership. A full-face helmet is another requirement, but the track has ones to loan.  In addition, the track offers sanctioned practices with gate opening on Wednesdays at 5:30pm to dusk and on Sundays from 2-4pm. As far as competitive riding, it looks like races start at around $8, so this is a really affordable sport (once you've bought the bike!) especially compared to things like figure skating! 
BMXBackyard.com
The track also offers birthday parties, and would be a really fun outing for a scout troop, too.  At the party we went to, we rode first and then did a tailgate in the parking lot.  It was such a fun event!! I've never been to a party like it, and even younger siblings (no training wheels are allowed on the race track) had fun on the blacktop that surrounds the track.

When you head out to check out the track, you'll want to enter the county complex area and head to the right, as if you're driving up to the Potomac Nationals stadium.  Continue to the right all the way back to the right-rear area of the parking, and you'll see the track on your right hand side.  (It's the best-kept secret because you can't see it from the road!) 
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Disclaimer Time: PwcMoms.com was not paid or compensated.  While this review is a fair and accurate representation of our views, it is important to know that BMX is a physically strenuous and potentially dangerous activity.  PwcMoms.com does not assume any liability for injuries sustained partaking in any type of sport or activity reviewed on our site, including BMX. 

Guest Post: LEGO Birthday Party Ideas


5 LEGO Birthday Party Ideas
Certainly one of the main ingredients in a great kid’s party is the games, and a Lego themed party is no exception.  Surprisingly versatile and always popular, despite the temptations of more technologically advanced games and toys, Lego remains a huge favourite with younger kids and a Lego party will go down a treat.  Here are some tips for getting just the right mix. 
Rules of Engagement
Lego, or not, there are a certain rules of engagement when it comes to parties and kids ones are no exception. 
·        Have a game or an activity ready to start as the guest arrive; this helps to get the party started and it’s one small step in the continual battle to wear your own and your friends kids out!  
·        Have a different range of games that include group games and individual task, this ensures that everyone gets to take part and doesn’t get left out. 
·        It may be the taking part that counts but it’s important to ensure that everyone – including the birthday boy/girl – gets to win one of the games. 
·        Finishing touches – end the party games with the cake – and give out goodie bags for everyone to take home with them. 
Photo Credit: /lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/

Lego Games
·        Opening the games; no, you don’t need to create an Olympic spectacle but a jar full of Lego bricks at the front door to play “Guess the Number” is a good starting point.  The winner gets to take the jar of Lego home at the end of the day.
·        Using chopsticks tied with a rubber band get each guest to attempt to pick up as many Lego pieces from a central bowl and place them in individual bowls.  The winner is the one with the most bits in their own bowl at the end of a minute. 
·        Towering Treats; no Lego party is really going to be complete without a building challenge; a group task should naturally involve creating the tallest tower.  You can set the challenge to one large group or several competing groups.  Each team member has to take turns to add to the tower and the group with the tallest tower (or the last to collapse) wins. 
·        Especially if the party is indoors – either weather bound or because of distinct lack of outdoor space - Lego bricks can make an ideal focus for a treasure hunt.  Again this is a good team effort game and by setting it as a group challenge you can create a couple of different treasure routes.   The winning team is the one that finds all the pieces first.  A more complex version is to take each piece from a small model and the winning team is the one that finds all the bits and constructs the model first!
That Cake
Naturally the cake will be a key part of the celebration and thanks to their simple design Lego bricks make a perfect and easy to make cake.  Any flavour of sponge cake can be used along with six sponge cupcakes.  The cupcakes form the studs and you can use standard icing coloured red, blue or green to cover the cake and studs, creating a realistic and tasty Lego brick cake.  A more adventurous alternative is to create a layered cake, decorated with a number of different colours and top off with studs and a forest of candles on the top.  Goodie bags or boxes should contain at least one mini-kit (cars for the boys and jewellery for the girls go down well) to take home as a reminder of a fantastic Lego party. 
Photo Credit: Babble.com

AuthorCarlo Pandian is a freelance writer and LEGO fan. He blogs about LEGO bricks, parenting and design covering everything from Dallas with kids to theme parks. When he’s not online he likes gardening and volunteering at his local community center.

8/13/12

Giveaway Results: Big Time Rush

Well, that was certainly a lot of talking about Big Time Rush, wasn't it? Three months after our first "Big Time Contest" we've got all of our winners selected.

Contest 1- Kamlyn Jurgensen
Contest 2- Jessica Rodriguez
Contest 3- Erin Lowery

We hope they have a fantastic time at Jiffy Lube Live this weekend!!

If you didn't win, but you'd still like to go, you can visit LiveNation to buy your tickets.  The concert takes place this weekend on August 19th at 7pm in Bristow, VA.  Jiffy Lube Live is located at 7800 Cellar Door Drive in Bristow, VA. Tickets start at $20 for lawn seats, and go up to $79 for reserved seating.

Thanks also to the great people at Jiffy Lube Live and LiveNation for sponsoring this contest for us.  We hope that you all have enjoyed it and that we'll be able to bring you more kid-friendly concerts in the future!!


Guest Post: What Do Value Investors and Couponers Have in Common?


What Do Value Investors (Like Warren Buffet) and Couponers Have in Common?
Guest Post by: Sherri Gray, Certified Personal Finance Counselor®

Value investing is a strategy that investors, like Warren Buffet (3rd richest man in the world), have been utilizing for years, often beating the average annualized returns of the S&P 500. The S&P 500 is an index of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry grouping, among other factors. Companies included in the index are selected by the S&P Index Committee, a team of analysts and economists at Standard & Poor's, and includes companies like Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Costco, FedEx, and Tiffany & Co. just to name a few. So, beating this group is a big deal.

How is value investing similar to couponing you might ask? Well, if you're a couponer, you know that one way to maximize your savings is to combine a coupon with a product that's on sale. And when you do this, you can purchase products at a fraction of their original cost. And when you can purchase a product at a fraction of its original price, you should 'stock' up and buy more than one of that product. That way you'll have enough of that product to last your family until the sale cycle rolls around and that product is on sale again.

Value investing works in a similar way. There are several ways to invest and one way is to purchase stocks from a company. A stock is a type of security that signifies ownership in a corporation and represents a claim on part of the corporation's assets and earnings.


With value investing, in particular, you want to make sure that a stock's current market value (the price at which the stock is currently selling) is less than its intrinsic value (the stock's true value). So, when the current market value of a company's stock is priced below its intrinsic value, you not only want to buy that stock but you want to buy more than one of it. Keep in mind that you should only buy what you can afford remembering that the 'sale cycle' for stocks will come around again giving you another opportunity to buy.

The key to value investing is diligence and patience. So, if you're a couponer, you already possess these fundamental skills and are well on your way to becoming a value investor. To learn more about value investing, refer to The Value Investor's Handbook.


Find more ways to save money at www.themoneymom.org or ‘Like’ The Money Mom on Facebook (keyword: The Money Mom)

Week In Preview, August 13-19, 2012

Y'all, I know I'm supposed to be a model of exceptionally high-fun parenting (or something) but I am exhausted! Getting ready for back to school and a summer full of fun has left me ready for a nap!! I'm secretly hoping that I can convince my children that Prince William County, as a whole, is on vacation this week and that we have to stay home and fold laundry and play in the back yard while mommy hides in a corner reading on her kindle.

I think they're too smart for that, but I'm hoping.  

If you're still going strong this summer, here are some highlights for the upcoming week that are kid-friendly/family-friendly!

Monday, August 13
Head to Bull Run Library (8051 Ashton Avenue  Manassas, VA 20109) from 11-11:45 to "shake, wiggle, move & groove while singing, dancing and playing with scarves, rhythm sticks, shakey eggs and more!" Ages 2-6 with an adult. FREE admission tokens available 30 minutes before program begins.

Have a golfer in your family? General's Ridge (9701 Manassas Drive, Manassas Park, VA 20111) will be having a 1pm tee time for $39, which will help support the Wounded Warrior Project, as well as be entered into the Guiness Book of World Records as they attempt to have the most simultaneous golfers at over 100 courses across the country, all supporting this great charity. 

Tuesday, August 14
Today is $2 Tuesday at the Prince William County Fair. No wristbands are for sale, but tickets for each ride will be $2 each.  

Firefighters, Police, and Military are free from today to the 18th with a paying child at the Manassas Park Community Center (99 Adams Street, Manassas Park VA) 

Wednesday, August 15
Various libraries will be hosting "Big Yellow Bus" day today, for Kindergartners and any other students who have never ridden the bus.  Check the calendar for specific locations and times.  This could be a fun opportunity for homeschoolers, too! 

It's Barefoot and Pregnant Night with the Potomac Nationals.  Check out the deals and enter to win some great prizes if you're expecting! 

Thursday, August 16
It's time for Kidgits! This week, join Princess Amy and Pirate Rob in the Grand Court near TJ Maxx.  These events are free and theres a special free gift for Kidgits members and it's just $5 to join. This event begins at 10am.

From 10:30 to 11:30am head over to Chinn Park Library for a bilingual program for ages 2 and up.  Free tokens will be given out 30 minutes prior to the event. 

Friday, August 17
We're heading towards the end of summer, and while their are still some local Friday night movie nights, I wanted to note two events that have been on the calendar forever, and might be a great option for an end of summer special one week.  Target sponsors reduced-rate nights at Children's Museums on Fridays.  You can head to the Children's Museum of Richmond (one of our favorites) or Port Discovery in Maryland for a reduced price. 

Saturday, August 18

Sunday, August 19
Have you been ice skating this summer? 2:10-4:10 at the Prince William Ice Center! How about been to one of our  local water parks?  How about hitting one of those today after the Farmer's market? 

8/11/12

The Sweet Life Woodbridge 2012

Looking for something a little fun and different for this weekend?  How about checking out The Sweet Life tour as it hits Woodbridge?

Claudia Johnson Photography via The Sweet Life Facebook
From their Goldstar.com deal (now expired) "About a dozen of the area's top treat-makers will be on hand to show off their decadent creations at this fun event. From cakes to cookies to pies and more, you can sample many of the sweets, with plenty of items available for purchase to take home as well. Whether you're planning for an event, you're an event-planner or you just happen to love baked goods, this pop-up shop brings all the best local bakers and confectioners together under one roof for you to enjoy. Admission includes access to the sampling floor, plus one beverage ticket."
Claudia Johnson Photography via The Sweet Life Facebook
This even takes place at the Country Inn and Suites and is described as a "bake sale with professional bakers", but you pay for your food up front with your entry fee.  Tickets are available via Eventbrite and are $15 for adults and  $8 for children.  The event runs from 1pm-4pm today, and sounds like it'd be fun for the kids, but also would be a really fun afternoon with a few girlfriends, I think!

Head over and check out some of our local bakeshops and enjoy a sweet afternoon. It's supposed to thunderstorm today, so you need to be inside, anyway!!

8/9/12

Lego Brick Fair Review

We were able to attend the 2012 Brick Fair at the Dulles Expo Center thanks to some comp tickets from Washington Family Magazine.  (The same fine folks that sponsored our giveaway to the same event).  I know a lot of you were wondering about the event, so here's my breakdown.

When we arrived, we were seriously nervous about The Line.  The Line looked like it was going to take us the better part of half an hour to get to the actual door to the Expo Center.  We were pleasantly surprised, however, to find that the line moved quickly and we were in the door in about nine minutes.  Once we were inside, we were definitely in awe of the fantastic Lego creations.  Children as young as nine can present their pieces at Brick Fair, with the chance to win awards.  There are also custom Lego vendors, our friends from Hallabolou were there, and there was a wicked game of Lego bingo going on when we arrived.  The ticket encouraged you to allow at least three hours to make it through, and maybe we're big losers, but we did it in 50 minutes.  Here's why.

We went with our kids who are 8, 6, and 4.  The little ones were definitely wowed by several of the displays, especially the ones that moved like the ball movers, robots, and giant roller coaster.
They were even still happy at the end of our time at the Brick Fair, but nobody complained that we were leaving, either.  They did ask if we could stop at the ice cream store on the way home.

 The kids presenting were absolutely amazing and created some awesome scenes! I was completely impressed by how some of the youngest exhibitors produced such amazing results! Each category, and there were several, had gorgeous entries.
 We especially liked the things that moved, whether they were robots, roller coasters, ball movers, or magnetized displays.
 He blinded me with science.
THIS IS ALL MADE OF LEGOS!!! This is what I could accomplish if I didn't blog and had some kind of measurable artistic skill! 

The cars were also a big hit with my kids.

So, if everything was so impressive, why didn't we take longer? The little ones enjoyed looking but were, honestly, overwhelmed by all there was to see.  You can't really touch anything, and Legos are toys to most children, so it's kind of like walking through a giant bakery with no glass over the treats.  You find yourself reminding little fingers not to touch fairly often.  Our oldest probably would have wandered around a little longer and looked at different items, but there's not really room to wander.  It's a lot more like being herded through like cattle:
Oh, hello hundreds of our closest friends!! Our children's biggest complaint was that there wasn't a ton of hands-on.  There is a small game section near the exit, but they really wanted to go and see cool things and then sit down somewhere and build with Legos.  Instead, we stood in a slow moving line that wrapped around the building and just looked.  Don't get me wrong, everything was amazing, but it was crowded and slow and not as interactive as we usually like to be.  It's kind of like a Lego museum, and you know my favorite museums are free :)

Tickets are $10 a pop, so while we enjoyed it this time, we all agreed that we probably wouldn't go back if we had to pay $50.  The kids liked it, but not enough to justify the cost.

Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!