Summer Job Openings: Leesylvania State Park

Leesylvania State Park Summer Jobs!

Maintenance Ranger: Weekends and holidays may be required
Responsible, result-oriented individuals needed who are able to work at times without direct supervision and who can prioritize tasks and positively interact with the public.  Duties focus on assisting in the daily running of park facilities and grounds keeping.  This entails a variety of tasks, which changes according to the day of the week, number of visitors or activities.  A large portion of the work will include custodial duties in the bathrooms, picnic area, and maintaining the landscaping.  Other tasks throughout the summer may include:  painting, trail work, carpentry, vehicle and equipment maintenance, assisting with interpretive programs and resource management projects.  Valid driver’s license required.

Contact Ranger: Weekends and holidays may be required
Outgoing applicants needed to assist visitors to Leesylvania by providing information regarding services available and other local attractions.  Duties include fee collection, money handling, and maintaining records of annual pass holders as well as overnight boating/fishing registration.  Contact rangers are required to operate a computer terminal/cash register, and will inform visitors of the rules and regulations for the purpose of protecting and conserving park areas.

Concessionaire Services: Weekends and holidays may be required
Detail-oriented and friendly individuals needed to assist in the operation of Leesylvania’s concessionaire services.  Most duties will center around the park-operated Breakwater Marina Store, located between the two boat launches, and the smaller Snack Shack by the fishing pier.  The store sells fishing and picnic related items, gas out on the dock and operates a short order cook style of food services.  The Snack Shack is smaller and sells ice-cream, other snack items and fishing bait.  Duties at both facilities include money handling, cash register operation, food preparation, setting up and taking down displays, and keeping the store clean and sanitary.

Visitor Center/Interpreter: Weekends and holidays may be required
Outgoing and responsible individuals with a strong interest in working with a wide variety of customers needed to assist with interpretive duties at the Visitor Center.  Interpreters are responsible for keeping the history and environmental museum open and organized, and provide information to visitors about the history of the park and its natural resources.  Duties include taking care of park animals, updating interpretive kiosks throughout the park, leading public programs, setting up monthly displays, money handling, and register operation.  Interpreters assist with school groups, scout programs, fairs, and park programming, and may be trained in leading monthly canoe tours and guided hikes.

Junior Ranger Leader: Weekends and holidays may be required
Responsible and outgoing leaders who are interested in working with children are needed to assist with Leesylvania’s Junior Ranger program.  Focusing on getting children outdoors for a hands-on learning environment, the Junior Ranger program introduces new topics each day with fun and educational activities.  The program is designed with nature in mind, so the majority of the time is spent outdoors in a leadership role, including with some overnight camping events.  Junior Ranger Leaders must work well with others and be able to create a safe and secure learning environment for children and families.  Duties also include those outlined in the description above for Visitor Center/Interpreter.

For all positions, experience is not necessary, but preferred. We provide on the job training. Employee may be required to perform other park related duties during emergencies, or on a non-recurrent basis. Seasonal summer jobs can be an outstanding first step toward a lasting career with the park service.

You can pick up & drop off applications at
2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr. Woodbridge, VA 22191
Main Office: Monday – Friday 8:00am-4:30pm.
Visitor Center: Saturday-Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm.
You can also get applications at the web site below, but turn them in at the park: http://dcrintra.dcr.virginia.gov/DCR_Public/Jobs/JobList.cfm
Call (703) 730-8205 for more information.

Benefits of working for Virginia State Parks:

  • Working for a State Agency looks good on a resume.
  • Majority of work is outdoors at Leesylvania on the Potomac River.
  • Make a difference; work to preserve our natural resources.
  • Long-term opportunities available.
  • Flexible work schedule.
  • Opportunities to learn new skills.
  • Fun professional work environment.
  • Competitive wages.
  • Letters of recommendation available.


Gameday Offer From CiCi's Pizza

As far as I'm concerned there's no reason to watch the Superbowl this year.  (I am a slightly bitter Patriots fan....) However, since the men in my house will probably watch the game anyway, that means I'll be in charge of snacks.  CiCis sent me this coupon to share with you guys which allows you to get unlimited large to-go pizzas for $5 each.  The image they sent is pretty fuzzy, but it's one-topping.  Enjoy :)


Giveaway: Whitney Pointe Photography

January 22nd is PwcGrandma's birthday, but we celebrated on Sunday so that everyone would be able to come to dinner.  We headed out to Old Town Manassas for dinner at Carmello's, which is typically the most amazing experience ever, but we learned a valuable lesson about making sure that the "A-Team" of your favorite restaurant isn't away at a Bridal Expo.  Sigh.  Still pretty good, though.

Before dinner, we met up with Whitney Pointe of Whitney Pointe Photography to do a quick preview shoot.  I wasn't camera-ready, and had no aspirations to be, so I decided we'd do some grammy/grandkids pictures to celebrate.  Whitney was friendly and very calm about the kids running all over Manassas (incidentally, pictures before dinner is a pretty good way to get your kiddos to get their wiggles out!) Whitney was named "Photographer of the Year" by InsideNova.  Go Whitney! 

 We headed over to the Harris Pavilion and took advantage of the "Love" sign by the display train.  I had joked about taking a picture of us all crossing the road on the way from Carmello's to the pavilion, and I think I should have gone for that- we could have had an entire Beatles themed shoot! 
 Everyone's loving on Grandma! Whitney was great about letting the kids have a few minutes between shots to play on the trains.  My kids do not make the cutest faces for pictures right now, but I love them anyway :)
 This is me, not being camera-ready.  Somehow I ended up in a picture anyway.  Thing 3 is showing off her way-too-tight-armed pirouette for Whitney.  She's a ham :)

Whitney was friendly and easy to work with, and patient with the kiddos, which is, I think, a great combination.  She's also got some Valentine Mini-Sessions coming up.  For $75 you get a 30 minute shoot, and either 25 Valentines or 1 Digital File with printing rights.  She's going to be doing the pictures in Old Town Occoquan, which is such a fun place for pictures....although maybe she should open up Sunday and use the LOVE sign in Manassas ;)

But, of course, I also have a giveaway for you!!  Whitney is offering a lucky PwcMoms reader:
1 45 Minute Session (over $100 value)
A Disc of 15-20 images with print release
One 8x10 print
$50 print credit with Whitney Pointe Photography

This is a huge package!! You can enter below using the Rafflecopter.  Contest closes on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013.  

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PwcMoms received a free 20 minute mini session and digital copies to perform this review.  All opinions are our own.  Giveaway is provided by Whitney Pointe Photography.  Facebook/Twitter are not affiliated with PwcMoms, Whitney Pointe Photography, or this giveaway opportunity.  Winner assumes all liability and risk, and prizes are not exchangeable for cash.


Scottish Highland Festival This Weekend! January 26/27

Just a reminder! Scottish Highland Festival this weekend! Sounds like fun, kids are just $5.

Saturday, January 26 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm:

  • Bagpipe and Drumming Master Class
  • Bonnie Rideout Presents: The Art of Scotland's Fiddle Piobaireachd
  • Demonstrations of Scottish Country Dancing with open social dancing
  • Children’s Passport to Scotland featuring Highland Games and crafts in cooperation with Mid-Atlantic Scots 4 Tots
  • Exhibits highlighting authentic crafts and goods for sale—including jewelry, pottery, traditional apparel and much more
  • Presentations examining the culture and history of Scotland’s past and present
  • $15 Adults • $5 Children Buy Tickets Now!

A Taste of Scotland

  • Scotch Whisky Master Class with Dougie Wylie the Scotch Whisky Man
    (Must be 21 years of age or older to attend)
  • $35 per person

  • Note: Admission to the Festival is included with the purchase of the Scotch Whisky Master Class or Full Afternoon Tea.

Click here for a complete schedule of activities.

Sunday, January 27:

  • The Black Watch & the Band of the Scots Guards
    • & The Pipes, Drums and Highland Dancers of 3rd Battalion
      4:00 pm in Merchant Hall

      The magnificent pageantry of British military tradition and history comes to life when these two esteemed military bands take the stage and fill the hall with rousing marches, stirring anthems and the distinctive sounds of bagpipes and brass.
      $34, $42, $50 • Family Friendly pricing available: Buy Tickets Now!
  • Burns Night Supper
    • 6:30 pm in Gregory Family Theater
      Join us for a Burns Night Supper following the performance. This festive dinner will include all the pomp and pageantry fit to celebrate the life and works of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. A special performance by International Scottish Fiddler Bonnie Rideout, poetry reading and the presentation of Scotland’s national dish, Haggis, complete the festivities for the evening!

      A Special Offer for our FRIENDS, when you buy a ticket to the Burns Night Supper receive admission for one to Saturday’s events for FREE. However, the offer does not include admission to the Scotch Whisky Tasting or Full Afternoon Tea.

Click here for a complete schedule of activities.

Valentines for Troops

(submitted via email) 

I am organizing a 'Valentine for Soldiers' collection on behalf of an organization called Operation Interdependence.

Operation Interdependence is a nationwide non-profit organization that provides a means for community

members to support troops serving on the front lines, military families and veterans. Their long term goal is to ensure that every Solider, Sailor, Airman and Marine is served from the time they don the uniform to the day they are honorably laid to rest.

Your Valentine will be sent to our troops overseas, and can be a word of encouragement, a word of thanks, a poem, a card, or even a picture. 
Here are the details:
The Valentines can be handmade, store bought, created in Word/Powerpoint, etc.
You can donate more than one.
Do not include any contact information.  Just your name if you'd like.
No glitter(it sticks to the uniform and glows in the dark)

Mail To:
5797 Websters Way Manassas Va 20112 by February 2nd, 2013


PechaKucha January 2013

PechaKucha Night is an informal community gathering where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, experiences and thoughts in a standardized format. Each presentation features 20 images, which are timed to show for 20 seconds each. Each presentation is six minutes 40 seconds long.
PechaKucha Nature Night is this Saturday, Jan.26. Doors open at 6:00 PM (dinner), and the program begins at 7:30 pm at The Electric Palm (12745 Sea Ray Lane, Woodbridge). Sponsored by Lake Ridge Parks & Recreation Association and Prince William Conservation Alliance, this event is open to the public and free of charge; buy your own food & drinks. Please note the restaurant seats 60 people; after that it's standing room only.  You won't want to miss this popular event featuring outstanding presentations by your friends and neighbors: 

Kristi Smedley - Galapagos 
Eli Hosen - Food for All Ages
Neil Nelson - Trail Projects in PWC
Marty Nohe - Off-road Hiking with Kids
Kelly Jimenez - Eggscellent Chicken Tales
Cindy Smith - Flowers and Bugs Make the World Go Round
Caryn Stein - Snapping & Trapping in Prince William Forest
Charlie Grymes - Open Spaces and the Tri-County Parkway
Uriah Kiser - Government Island: A walk into monumental history
Julie Flanagan - Spring Warblers are Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You
More information is online at http://www.pwconserve.org/events/ or call PWCA at 703.499.4954.

Save the Date Dumfries 2013

Dumfries already has their 2013 events planned! Save the dates for fun family events in Prince William County!


Giveaway: Peter and the Wolf at the Hylton Performing Arts Center

The children and family performances at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas, Virginia, are a great way to expose your children to the arts in Prince William County!

Coming up in February, the Hylton Family Series will be presenting Peter and the Wolf on February 2nd with showtimes at 2pm and 4pm.  Children's tickets are just $5, which is very affordable, with adults at $15 per ticket.  Tickets can be purchased at 1-888-945-2468, or online at HyltonCenter.org

Here's a synopsis:
The Pushcart Players makes its Hylton Center debut presenting the beloved and familiar folk tale,Peter and The Wolf. Set to music by Prokofiev, this charming Russian story follows a young boy who dares to venture into the woods, despite his grandfather’s warning about a dangerous wolf that lurks within. When Peter’s beloved duck, Clara, is swallowed whole by the wolf the brave boy is determined to capture the fierce creature and save his friend. This classic tale offers a splendid introduction for children into the world of music, with a different instrument and melody representing each character in the story. Don’t miss this Emmy-nominated ensemble hailed by The New York Times as “a polished and knowing theatre company … for children.”

The Hylton Performing Arts Center is generously offering two family four packs of tickets to Prince William County Moms readers, one set for the 2pm performance and one set for the 4pm performance.  Enter using the Rafflecopter below!

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Winner assumes all liability and risk.  Facebook is not affiliate with this contest. Prize provided directly to winner by Hylton Performing Arts Center, not transferrable or exchangeable for other performances or cash.


Leesylvania State Park Care Packages for Soldiers Event

Leesylvania State Park will be assembling care packages for Operation Home Front.  Admission is an item from the list above, and the packing will happen on January 21st.


MLK Day of Service 2013

Prince William County has lots of opportunities for volunteer service, including on the Martin Luther King, Jr.  Day of Service which will take place January 21st, 2013.

Many local organizations are taking part, including scout dens and troops, and even classes.  The MLKDay.Gov website features lesson plans for teachers who want to encourage a legacy of community service, as well as opportunities for individual volunteers to pledge their time.

If you're not already involved with a service organization, the MLK Day website is linked to "All for Good" which can help you find service projects in our area.  On the 21st, here are a few ideas:

Help make soldier care packages at Leesylvania State Park from 11am-3pm
Help clean up Mason Neck State Park (Lorton) from 9am-2pm
Donate used coats at any Burlington Coat Factory, including Potomac Mills and Manassas
Want to drive to DC? Pack 100,000 care packages with Points of Light

Alternatively, serve in smaller ways.  Young children can light up someone's day with a phone call, or you can help a neighbor get their Christmas lights down.  Clean up a median in your neighborhood, or drop off some cans at ACTS.

Are you planning to serve on the 21st? What are you doing?

Review: Skate N Fun Zone

If you've been reading my site for any amount of time, you know that we're huge fans of "Mommy Dates" and "Daddy Dates" in our family. (If you haven't been reading my site, then welcome.) We truly value having one-on-one time with our children so that we can really have time to know their hearts and how they're doing.  We try to make sure that each child gets individual time with one of us at least once a month.  Sometimes it's a big deal and we take them out to do something that costs money, but other times it's a walk, or a trip to Starbucks, or a walk around Target and something from the $1 section.

On New Years Eve Day, our boys were invited to go play with friends, which left our daughter home alone.  I needed to do some lesson planning, so she and daddy decided to capitalize on their alone time by heading out to Skate N Fun Zone, which offers a New Year's Eve Party at both mid-day and midnight.  Brilliant!  They actually offer special events both weekly and monthly, including a homeschool skate, rock-n-stroll for parents who have infants and older children, and more.

Skate N Fun Zone is located at 7878 Sudley Road  Manassas, VA 20109 (for those of you who always like to have an address listed) 

$10 per person covered their admission, glow cups, a balloon drop, party favors, and glow sticks.  With just two of them, it was definitely workable, although they also offer a discount for purchasing a "super pack" with 4 admissions.  For a special event like New Years, I would say that's worth it. 

The actual building is behind a few other buildings, so while there is a sign from the road, you have to "do kind of a u-turn thing" to get to the actual location. 

He's an engineer, guys, not a writer. 

For this particular event, there was no parking available, and my husband ended up asking a local Liberty Mutual agent if he could park in his lot, and he was very nice, since it was New Years.  However, inside my husband heard there's overflow parking (somewhere) so be sure to check on that if you find yourself in the same situation.

After they rented their skates, they found a spot to drop their stuff, which was slightly challenging since there were so many people.  Lockers are available to rent for your valuables, which is probably a good idea especially on a special event day.  He had this recap:
"Everything seemed relatively clean, but definitely used.  The floor was definitely well-worn, but it didn't impede our ability to skate.  There's a jungle gym included in the price, a little food area where you can buy food, and an arcade area similar to Chuck-E-Cheese where you can pay for games and get tickets to trade in for lame prizes."
"I'd say what I liked most was that they had a large variety of things to do, and even with the skating they'd shift between a game (like Limbo or backwards skate) and regular skating, and there was the arcade and the gym, so we were able to rotate a lot and stay for a pretty long time considering our daughter is 4.  We were there for several hours.  We got there just as they were finishing the balloon drop, and it was loud, so she wasn't a huge fan of that becuase everyone was popping balloons and that was "scary" for her.  I'd go again, we had a great time. I also liked that their rules included the ability to kick people out who were not dressed appropriately, were cursing, or appeared to be under the influence of anything."
I tried to grill him about something negative to say, but the hard part about reviewing things in our family is that we, generally speaking, have fun, and decide that it's a good time :)

My daughter also said that she had fun and would go again.

Especially with her daddy.

Not a paid or solicited review, hubby and DD went and paid just like everyone else. 


Sign Up Now- "Lest We Forget"

The Prince William Historic Preservation Society will be hosting "Lest We Forget" a Conference on Enslavement and Emancipation on February 21-23rd at Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge, Virginia.  The event, as part of Black History Month, is open to any interested party.  Registration will be available online (but as of publishing this post was not), and questions can be directed to HistoricPreservation@pwcgov.org


Giveaway: Perfectly Posh

It's so nice to get mail! Especially the box kind where the mailman actually has to come ring the doorbell.  That means it's going to be a good day :)

It's even nicer when you open the box and there's treats inside!
 These are all awesome self-care treats from Got Posh? Perfectly Posh with Katherine Breyfogle.  Pictured are bath "Bombinators", "Gender Bender" 'Chunk' bath bar, Un-Radical "Easy Essentials" Mr. Mister Room Spray, 'Handle' in Sassyooma solid hand lotion, Purifier "Skin Stick", and "Partied Too Hard" Peppermint Body Paste.
 I really like cute packaging.  I'm a sucker for it.  I think that having a cute package means you can give a small gift (to yourself or someone else) and have it be super exciting just because it's adorable.  When trying to make this point, I realize it would help if I didn't populate my blog with junky iphone pictures, but you can get the gist.
 This is what solid hand lotion looks like.  This smells like pink grapefruit and it's amazing.  My favorite part is that since it's in a tin, it's totally purse friendly.  I've definitely had the top pop open on a Bath and Body Works Lotion in my purse before, and would never like to experience the joy of de-greasing my day planner again.

So, let's go over my favorites.  I love the lotion, as I just mentioned, and the Un-Radical room spray is something I'm not sure how I lived without.  I hate to keep bringing up the fact that I've been unwell, but I have been, and being in the house for weeks on end has made everything feel stuffy and blah.  The spray is made with essential oils, nothing fake that would aggravate my head, so I decided to give it a try, and I really like to clean, very slightly sweet, smell that it lends your room.  My skin has been overly-sensitive because of some of the medicine that I'm on, so I loaned out the Gender Bender Bar to my husband, who reported back that "it's soap" and I will report back that the title is correct, and either of us could have used the fragrance, but I really like it on him.  The Peppermint "Partied Too Hard" cream went home with PWC Grandma, who loved how it smelled, but said it left a slight film on her skin that she wasn't a huge fan of.

The best part of these products, though, is that they are made with natural ingredients.   Here's what the Posh Website has to say:
We are made from the very best ingredients on earth. From luxurious shea and cocoa butters, to indulgent and nourishing oils, vitamins, and more - you can be sure that our products are the highest-quality formulations you can find. Find peace of mind knowing:
• We're paraben-free and paraffin-free
• We're free of sulfates including SLS
• We have no gluten, lanolin, or soy ingredients
• We use the highest-quality essential oils and fine phthalate-free fragrances
• We're very natural and consequently gentle: read our labels, please!
• We use natural enzymes and gently moisturizing vitamin E to preserve the life and look of our fun pampering products
• We're cruelty-free and do not test on animals!
Our pampering that is spa-grade, long-lasting, and a fabulous experience. Take care of you with products that will please you both mind and body.

I really appreciate the absence of lots of those things, and the essential oils they use really do smell great.  

As far as a downside, you guys are going to laugh at me, but there's no directions! I've always laughed at the directions on shampoo and conditioner bottles (Wet hair, work into a lather, rinse, repeat if necessary) but sometimes when a product is new to you, you need a little direction.  Luckily, Katherine is just a facebook click away if you need her!

These adorable products are very happy residing in my "Spa Cabinet", but truly they are adorable and would be great girlfriend gifts or even mom/mother in law gifts.  The bath bombs are so cute, and would definitely be a nice addition to a basket in your guest bathroom, too! (I like to play hotel when my friends come to stay with me!)

Want to try some of your own "Perfectly Posh" products?  You can, of course, order directly from Katherine's Website (and if you can't narrow down what you want, she'll be happy to host a party for you so you can earn some!) but she's also offering a lucky PwcMoms reader their own starter set of pampering products including:
A Handle (that's the solid lotion) of any scent, a Purifier Skin Stick, and "Partied Too Hard" Peppermint Paste.

Good Luck! I know you'll enjoy some pampering, I definitely did!!
Contest closes January 19th at Midnight

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I was provided with Posh products to try, for free, in return for this post.  All opinions, however, are my own.   

Reviews: Pa Nuang Thai

Highly recommended on the "Readers Recommend: Restaurants in Prince William County" is Pa Nuang Thai.  I actually thought I'd written about it before, but apparently, I haven't.  Or, maybe I have, but it's so good that I'm going to do it again. (Edit: I found it! It was for PotomacLocal.com)

It's my website, people, and I'll do what I want to.

So, Pa Nuang is amazing, and I like it better than all the other Thai restaurants in the county that I've tried.  Hands down. No, I don't care that you like the other one by the Safeway.  Typically there's room for everyone's opinions, but right now I am taking a firm stand on Thai.

 Their menu is extensive, and everything on it is amazing.  I love the crisp, fresh green papaya salad, and the Tom Kha Soup which is both sweet and salty, spicy and sour, and just generally amazing.  Hubby and I went their for a date night the other day, and we ended up with these:
 This is chicken with bell peppers and basil.  I'm sure it has an actual name, but it's number 3 down on the "Entrees" section.  Yeah, I know that.
This is the soup I now want anytime there's anything wrong or right with me.  I've had a migraine and been in bed for days, and reflecting on it, I'm actually ticked off that my husband didn't bring me soup.  I know I wasn't eating, but it would've reheated when I wanted it.  Originally, this was "Korean Noodle Soup", but apparently now it's "Clear Noodle Soup".  It's broth, ground chicken (or you can get it vegetarian or with shrimp...maybe? I don't like seafood so I don't reserve space in my brain for it) vegetables, and noodles, and it's amazing.  If you're a glutton for punishment like we are, they'll even bring out crushed red peppers that are waaaay spicier than anything you've ever shaken on your pizza.  Next Level Delicious.

(Yes, we ordered two entrees just for the two of us.  It's important to have leftovers when the food is this good.  Don't judge me until you try it.  Even then, don't judge me.)

Dishes can be ordered "American Spicy", which I would call "not spicy", "Regular Spicy" which is probably spicy enough for most people, or "Thai Spicy", which will clear your sinuses and make your tongue tingle.  I personally enjoy Thai Spicy, but recommend starting a little further down the scale until you know what you're getting into.

For the kids, I recommend the Thai Sweet and Sour, or, if they're more adventitious, the fried tofu with sweet chili sauce is really good.  The sweet and sour comes with the chicken in chunks and crispy (a la "nugget" but with recognizable meat) and the sauce on the side. My kids actually like the Pad Thai with shrimp and the tempura carrots from my Green Curried Vegetables.  They're not normal, though.

This is a really long post about how much I love Pa Nuang at this point....but it's really, really, really good.  They're not paying me to write this....I am, in fact, paying them.  For soup.  Which I could really use right now- I wonder if they're open....


Louis the Magician at Kidgits!

Potomac Mills presents the monthly Simon Kidgits Club® Third Thursday Event
WHAT:           Parents and kids of all ages are invited to a morning of magic and mystery with a hilarious performance by Louis the Magician as part of the Simon Kidgits Club’s monthly series of events at Potomac Mills. Guests will delight in complimentary refreshments courtesy of Starbucks and Rita’s Ice as well as special deals for moms and dads. Kidgits Club members will take home free silly nose/mustache glasses and a magic wand, while supplies last. Plus, for just $1, attendees will be able to enjoy VIK (Very Important Kid) goodie bags filled with delicious snacks.*  

In addition, event guests will receive a free $20 Disney Store Outlet gift card with any mall-wide purchase(s) totaling $100!**
*All of the proceeds collected from the VIK bags will benefit Simon Youth Foundation, which helps at-risk students earn high school diplomas and scholarships to realize their dream of going to college.
**Present the flyer provided at the event and receipts totaling $100 or more from retailers at Potomac Mills between Thursday, January 17, 2013 and Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at Simon Guest Services and receive one $20 Disney Store Outlet gift card; limit two.  Purchases must be in the same time frame as the redemption period.  Must be 18 or older to participate.  Void where prohibited by law.  See Official Rules and Regulations for more information.
WHEN:           Thursday, January 17
                        10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
WHERE:         Potomac Mills (Grand Court by TJ Maxx)
                        2700 Potomac Mills Circle
                        Woodbridge, VA 22192
COST:            Free


Let's Talk Community

Hello Loves of My Life,

All several thousand of you.

Listen, you guys are awesome.  Totally and completely awesome.  And, numerous! You're so very numerous.  Your collective knowledge is so much more vast than my individual knowledge could ever possibly be.  However, I have a lot of people who know to come here to find things.  That means, we should totally team up.

As an example, I'm like peanut butter.  Good, all on its own.  However, together, we could be like chocolate plus peanut butter....

Yum.  So much better than peanut butter alone!

Oh, you have a peanut allergy?  Ummm.....how about this:

Look, we're like Peas and Carrots!  Amazing!

So, let's talk about the new blog line up that I'm going to be rolling out in February and how you can totally get in on it.

1) Kristina! I totally love to go places! And write about stuff!
Hello, new BFF! I want you to write stuff about places!  Went to the playground? Tell us about it and send a picture! Checked out a library event? I want to know, and so does everyone else! We're all nosy! Tried a business I haven't been to? Let's share with the class! Available to go check stuff out (or always wanted to go somewhere but would looove to go for free?) email me a proposal and I'll help you set it up!! I'll include a link to your website, blog, or business if you'd like, too! Especially if you have kids younger (babies and toddlers) or older (tweens and teens) than me, I'd love to hear about where you go, what you like, and what you do! I can't take my kids to baby story times or classes anymore, so share with other moms about things you try (good or bad!) it's a huge community service!  Plus, you know you want to be internet-famous! It looks awesome in one of those holiday brag letters! Use this space! It's free! 

2) Kristina! I totally love to write about mommy-related stuff and/or kids!!  And rant about things! 
I'd love to feature you as a guest blogger, which I'm hoping to have happen every Thursday. That's the day I teach at our homeschool co-op, and having a guest blog to go up makes my life so much easier!  This is a great way to get exposure for your own website, and I like to share!Use this space! It's free! 

3) Kristina! I totally hate to write, but I looooove to take pictures! Of everything!
Send me your pictures!! I want to get you guys more invovled in interacting with the site, and I'm going to be starting a "Wordless Wednesday" where I feature a photographer, momtographer, or somebody who got lucky with an iPhone! Your picture can be of a local place, landmark, scene, your kids, whatever you want! Just email it to me with a title for your picture or a brief (sentence or less) caption.  Want a link with that? Sure! Have your own blog? You'll be able to link your picture up with the picture I select to feature each week! Start sending them now, because I want to get a few weeks ahead of myself! Use this space! It's free! 

4) Kristina!! I totally own/volunteer at/love a non-profit! I want to get in on Featured Organization Friday! 
Oh my gosh, thanks for remembering! I love to feature non-profits of ANY kind that are family friendly.  Send me your organization's profile in whatever format you'd like that you think will get you noticed by our readers, and we'll plug you in for a Friday.  I WANT TO HAVE AN ORGANIZATION EVERY FRIDAY!! We have so many great organizations and groups in our community, so having this space vacant breaks my heart! Use this space! It's free! 

5) Kristina!! I am hoping to be A Big Deal on Pinterest! Can I share a recipe or craft and have you share my Pinterest Board so people will follow me? 
Heck yeah you can! I love crafts and food ideas, lets do this! Own a crafty business and want a link to your business page instead of your Pinterest? That's good, too.  Use this space! It's free! 

6) Kristina!! I have some other AWESOME idea that I think will be AWESOME for some AWESOME reason!
Email me, peeps! I love hearing from you (well, when you're not mad) and I'm sure we can make it work!

Giveaway: New Year Jumpstart

Local Mom Cindy is offering a New Year Giveaway for those of you looking to get fit and healthy.  She used this program herself and is also a Certified Health Coach.  I have not used her program, and I'm not a doctor.  You should find one of those and consult them before making lifestyle changes or engaging in a fitness program (and whatever else they say as a disclaimer on TV.  We clear? Awesome). 

From Cindy: 
Do you want to lose weight, get healthy or have more energy? Then, join Certified Health Coach, Cindy Santa Ana, for the only weight loss plan you'll ever need! Join the Get Fit - Get Healthy 6-Week Jump Start starting Jan. 16. http://www.unlockbetterhealth.com/get-fit-get-healthy-6-week-jumpstart One lucky fan will win her cutting edge program!

So, to win, look! It's a Rafflecopter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Readers Recommend: Preschools 2012/2013

The Lake Ridge Moms' Club is sponsoring its annual Preschool Open House on January 26, 2013 from 3-5pm at Tall Oaks Community Center; 12298 Cotton Mill Drive in Lake Ridge. Several of the Preschools listed here will be present.  This event is FREE and open to the public, not just members of LRMC.

**Disclaimer:  These reviews have been submitted by individual parents who are representing their experience with a school.  PWC Moms does not necessarily endorse any or all of these schools and encourages parents to visit a school before enrolling their child.  After much consideration, it is our policy when asking parents to share their experiences with schools or play areas, or businesses, to share those opinions to aid other parents, even if our personal experience contradicts the views of another parent.  Please always conduct your own research and site visits in addition to looking at the experience of other parents at any particular school.**

Please note this list is added to every year.  The oldest reviews are from 2010, and the most recent were received this month. The Schools we received feedback on, in alphabetical order by name of school are:

10047 Nokesville Rd, Manassas VA 20110. 
My son goes to the fabulous Alpha-Bet Cooperative Preschool in Manassas.  It's on Centreville Rd in between Godwin and Wellington. We have an open house February 1 from 12-2.   Being a cooperative school, the parents are active in their children's education. I help out 1-2 times a month in the classroom, and I'm on the board. My son is so happy there, and the different parents helping really adds to the dynamic of the classroom.  :)  I had checked out many in the area and fell in love with Alpha-Bet.  

Myself along with 3 other mommy friends cooperatively taught our children for their first year of preschool. After looking at some other preschools in the Manassas area, I decided that a cooperative preschool was the perfect fit for us. It allowed me to be in the classroom but gave her the formal classroom that she needed to get accustomed to. And we both love it.
As the children arrive the day starts manipulative time, circle time, center time, and the rest of the day flies by with bathroom break, snack and recess. The last 15 minutes are circle time again where the themes of the day are reinforced, calendar and weather are talked about. Class ends at 12:15.
My daughter has really taken to her teacher and the friends she's made in the class. She's eagerly awaiting the return to class tomorrow. The ideas presented in class really stick with her and she's constantly telling me what Ms Jo said. Even if it's something that I know was introduced to her last year by me. Don't know if that is because someone else is explaining it, she's a year older, or Ms. Jo is really that good. :) Also, my daughter is always excited when she knows that I will be in the classroom. I love that I get to see exactly what's going on in the classroom. I don't have to pull teeth to know how her day went (as I've heard other Mommies mention). Plus I feel like I'm holding onto her just a little bit longer. Now the logistics. This is the part that parents always worry about. How much commitment there is. Before school starts every parent that will volunteer in the classroom is subjected to a background test and must obtain a TB test. Only one parent is required, however both parents are given the opportunity to volunteer. A parent will typically have to volunteer 2, possibly 1, times a month. One of those times you will provide snack for your class.  You must sign up for one parent "job". It can be as simple or involved as you wish. For example, organizing a family night, classroom parent, fundraiser coordinator, board president, etc.  In addition, a parent must attend 6 pre-determined dates for setup/cleanup or training. For those of you with younger siblings, the school will assist you in pairing up with another parent to trade babysitting services while the other volunteers. And ensures that you will not volunteer on the same day. I have a 3 year old (not old enough for school) and have found it very easy to trade with another mother and he loves going with her.  (Click Here for Website)

Note from the School: Please visit Alpha-Bet Preschool on February 1, 2013 from noon - 2 pm to meet teachers, tour the school, and register your child for an excellent preschool experience.  Alpha-Bet is a unique, collaborative school with excellent, developmentally appropriate academic and social experiences for 3 and 4 year olds.  Our students leave the school well-prepared for kindergarten, and our parents have an incredible opportunity for involvement in the school. We are the only cooperative preschool in Prince William County. We are also a non-profit, parent-run school with well-educated and excellent teachers. 

Various Locations- Reviewed Location is 12960 Troupe Street  Woodbridge, VA 22192
I recommend Chesterbrook Academy in Woodbridge.  My daughter began at summer camp when she was 3.  She had been home with me and it was a hard transition.  They encouraged me to call and check on her the first week and even called me with updates. She attended two years of preschool.  We have been very pleased with the progress she has made.  They teach Spanish, sign language, computer skills and more. I feel that Chesterbrook has prepared her well for Kindergarten.  I would recommend the school to everyone! (Click Here for Website)

13506 Minnieville Road  Woodbridge, VA 22192
I love, love, love the 2 1/2 year old and 3 year old program offered by Cloverdale.  The teachers are superb.  They have a very real, effective way of interacting with the children, and to say they are gifted in teaching is an understatement.  These ladies are the kind you want your children to have teaching them EVERY year because of their true interest in the kids.  I can't say enough good things about these teachers.  Besides their basic preschool classroom learning (language skills, art, counting, etc.), the kids also had music and P.E.  My kids LOVED music day in the "Big Room".  The staff I interacted with were pretty phenomenal as well.  They always got me information I requested and were nice people to have around.  Cloverdale has a great program going on, and it's quite affordable.  I highly recommend it.

We absolutely love Cloverdale for many reasons, and have used it for both of our older children, our youngest will begin attending, too, in the fall.  With programs beginning at 2 and a half years (Half days Tuesday and Thursday) ranging up to an outstanding Pre-K program, Cloverdale has a well-established program that focuses on literacy readiness, core competencies, and social skills.  They offer German to the students in the 4 and 5 year old programs, which all of the kids seem to love.  The teachers are all amazing and most of them (the exception being the teacher for the relatively new 2 year old program) have been at the school for many years which speaks to the happy, cohesive teaching team at this school.  The teachers are as patient and understanding as they are qualified, and have the skills and calm, even tempers needed to help even the most clingy children adjust to being away from their primary caregiver while they learn to function in a school setting.  Cloverdale also offers "Stay and Play" for $10, which allows students to remain until 2pm (the normal day is from 9-12) and has been a lifesaver for me on a few occasions where I was volunteering at the elementary school or had a doctor's appointment.  Also, Cloverdale offers private K-3 grades if you are looking for a school where your child can stay for the early years of elementary school.  We love it at Cloverdale and would never leave if we could keep our kids preschool aged forever!! (Click Here for Website) 
From the school: Tours and class observation welcome Appointments recommended but not

14680 Gap Way Gainesville, Va 20155
A shout out to Daytime Playtime in Haymarket too, they are awesome!  We love their summer camp and they were a top contender when i was touring preschools.  So much so that we have sent our son to their summer camp 2 years running! (Click Here for Website

From the School: Registration for the 2013-2014 school year will be open to our current families at 9am on Tuesday, January 22nd. Open registration will begin on Monday, February 4th to the public. Contact the office for more information. The registration fee is $100 and class prices will remain the same.

9100 Freedom Center Boulevard  Manassas, VA 20110
We sent both of our children to the Freedom Center for preschool. We were very happy with the teachers and curriculum.

The Freedom Center preschool is small, really tiny, and that's its strength and its weakness.  There is only one small classroom, so there are only 4 classes---3 am, 3 pm, 4am, 4pm.  The same teachers teach all the children (the three year old teacher is the four year old PE teacher, the four year old teacher is the three year old PE teacher) and the aides work for all the classes.  As a result, the children know their teachers very well and the teachers and aides know the children very well.  There is a very warm, family atmosphere that makes even the shyest kids feel comfortable.  Miss Phyllis, who is the director, is warm and accessible and laid back, and her attitude really permeates the whole program. The classroom is tiny, but the children leave at least once a day for PE elsewhere in the building and often times more frequently for activities.  There is a big emphasis on physical education and the children are taken outside whenever weather permits (even on chilly days, they bundle up and go out).  There is no pick-up/drop-off and the preschool room is in the very back of the large building.  This means on rainy days, you have to hustle through a huge parking lot and then through the whole building.  Pick-up/drop-off takes a lot longer here than I imagine it does at other schools. The curriculum is play-based and there is definitely a big difference between the 3 year old program (which has little academics and is more focused on teaching children what school is and how to be a student) and the 4 year old program (where there is a heavy emphasis on pre-reading skills).  There are little to no worksheets and lots of hands-on activities.  My son came into the program a bit wild and unfocused.  He struggled a bit towards the end of the 3 year old year but has really excelled in the 4 year old program.  I think the caring, relaxed atmosphere and the ton of physical activity provided have really helped him. (Click Here for Website)

From the school: Open Registration for the general public begins February 13, 2013.

14999 Birchdale Avenue  Woodbridge, VA 22193
Pros: low tuition, kind teachers, private classrooms, walk-in drop-off and pick-up. Cons: very little communication/organization from teachers or director, no outside play (even though there is a playground.) (**Note from PwcMoms- I get an angry email EVERY year that Good Shepherd does offer outdoor play.  I don't know anything about the program, so I can't comment)

I had such anxiety about sending my quite shy 3 year old to preschool last year but our experience at Good Shepherd had been so wonderful.  The director is amazing and from the first moment, she made my daughter and I feel so welcome and reassured.  It's not as "high-tech" as many parents would like, but the wonderful teachers and the caring and attention they provide the children (and the parents) cannot, in my opinion, be beat.  There is a feeling of "family" at Good Shepherd. They pay close attention to the safety of the children and as a "worry wart" mom, that has helped ease much of my anxiety.  I also like the smaller teacher to student ratio.  This is our 2nd year there and my daughter attends the 5 day a.m. 4's program (they're teaching the Handwriting Without Tears program which I love) -- she is SO happy everyday I pick her up that it really does warm my heart!   I KNOW she'll be ready to start kindergarten (both academically and socially) in the fall and I owe the majority of that knowledge to Good Shepherd.  I really believe that the majority of parents who choose Good Shepherd are 100% satisfied with their decision.  

I sent my two sons to Good Shepherd UMC for two years. I chose GSUMC when it was recommended by one of the teachers from their preschool in Florida, which I ADORED. We were very pleased with their preschool experience in the two years they attended GSUMC. 
My sons are only a year apart and one thing I Appreciated about GS was the boys could be in separate classes. They offer more age group options than many of the other schools, including classes specially for kids who just miss the K cutoff. I liked that they offered both morning an afternoon classes. I was pleased with the level of academics. 
The teachers and director were all extremely friendly, nurturing and kind. I never had any issues with the level of communication from either. In fact, when I was experiencing behavioral issues with one of my sons, his teacher and the director kindly sat down and listened/tAlked with me while his TA looked after my 3 children, all on their lunch break. His teachers then did everything they could at school to provide the structure an continuity he needed to address the issues at home.
GSUMC does have a playground and they had outdoor time every day, weather permitting. They also had a weather plan in place so that there was indoor physical activity available for those inclement days. 
To me, the only thing I was somewhat disappointed with was the balance of secular/religious for a Christian preschool. There was one short chapel talk and chapel music per month. I felt like there could have been more and I wished there had been more of a focus on the religious, especially at Christmas and Easter. 
Overall, we were extremely pleased with GSUMC as a preschool and I would wholeheartedly recommend it.

We are thrilled with Good Shepherd on Birchdale. The teachers are fantastic, and they work with an exciting and fun curriculum. There's a perfect mix of play and learning. The kids are outside everyday, and there are a lot of activities, such as a pumpkin patch trip, visit from fire fighters, and an outing to a holiday concert. They engage the kids with different crafts and activities and my daughter loves attending school!

The curriculum at Good Shepherd Preschool stresses all aspects of growth and development.  They work on physical, social, and emotional development, as well as academic development. They believe that children learn through their senses, activity, curiosity, imitation, conversation, imagination, and widened experiences. There is a fifteen minute chapel time monthly taught by GSUMC's Christian Educatoror her designee. (Click Here for Website)

14800 Washington Street  Haymarket, VA 20169
Can't say enough good things about the teachers and staff at Haymarket Baptist Church Preschool & Kindergarten.  Love them!  Great school, great programs.  (Click Here for Website)

Kids N Motion offers an amazing preschool program.  My daughter attended the preschool during the 2010 to 2011 school year and my son currently attends the school.  The teachers are excellent and what I like best is that they make learning fun! Before I had children, I worked as a Prince William County school teacher, so education is very important to me.  I was looking for a school that would prepare my kids academically and socially for kindergarten and just as importantly be a place that they loved and looked forward to going to! Kids N Motion does just that, and I would highly recommend the school to other parents.

My son attends kidsnmotion preschool. The teachers are kind and personable. I have had trouble trusting anyone other than family with my children and I have become so confident in kidsnmotion. My son loves the projects they complete almost daily and I always proud to show off his work. They also offer "gym" time first which allows the kids to run off some energy so that they are ready to learn. The price is GREAT for the quality care and knowledge they teach. I will be sending all of my children to kidsnmotion and you should too!

A year or so ago, I asked my friend, who is a kindergarten teacher, what children need to know before starting school.  Expecting her to say that they should know their alphabet, their numbers, and how to write their name, I was surprised by her response.  She said that academics can be taught in kindergarten and are all part of the kindergarten curriculum.  What children really need to know is how to share, take turns, and take responsibility for their actions.  According to this kindergarten teacher, who has a Master's degree in literacy development, it is most important for preschool-aged children to have as much imaginative and creative play as possible.  With this in mind, I decided to pursue a preschool program that encouraged gross and fine motor skill develop, with more emphasis on play and physical development than on academics.  Kids N Motion has been the perfect balance for us, offering free play time on their inflatable bouncing equipment, structured exercising time to work on gross motor skills (i.e. jumping on one foot, balancing on a balance beam), pretend play with traditional preschool toys (i.e. play kitchen, trucks, and blocks), and one-on-one instructional time on fine motor skills (i.e. writing and drawing).  My 3-year-old twins have made many new friends and practice their skills and sing their songs every evening at home.  Also, the price is extremely reasonable.  Sending twins to preschool means that every cost is doubled, and yet we are able to manage the tuition within our budget.
My daughter attends kids n' motion twice a week.  It is a great preschool and accepts children starting at 2 and 1/2 and they do not have to be potty trained!  My daughter started at 2 and 1/2 and is 3 now.  They do play, craft time, snack, read books, learn letters, etc.  It is a really great program.  My daughter has learned so much already and loves making crafts. (Click Here for Website)

Kids on the move is great. Can't say enough good things about them (Click here for Website)

Love the Lake Ridge Creative Preschool, located on the corner of Old Bridge Road and Oakwood Dr.  Explorers class for 3-4 year olds is Tuesday and Thursday, either 9:15 - 1:30 or 9:45 - 2:00.  PreK for 4-5 year olds is M, W, F, same times.  The curriculum is the perfect mix of fun and learning.  The children do art projects, sing songs, do puzzles, learn to use the computer, go on field trips, learn Spanish, play outside daily, etc - it is amazing to me the creative ways they get the children engaged in learning.  There is an after school reading program for children that show they are ready to begin reading independently, though learning the alphabet and writing skills are taught to all almost from day one!  The preschool is open to everyone - non-Lake Ridge residents pay a bit more in tuition, though it is very reasonably priced - last year, Explorers were $120/month for residents, $130 for nonresidents, and PreK was $170/180.  Contact the Lake Ridge Recreation Department at 703-497-7112, or stop by the office, located in the vicinity of the preschool at the back of the big parking lot. 

I follow your posts via Facebook and read that you were looking for preschool reviews.  I saw you had a recommendation for Lake Ridge Creative already, but I decided to send in another one.  The following is excerpted from a letter I wrote to the Lake Ridge Board of Directors a few months ago in support of the preschool program.  My daughter attended for both preschool and pre-K, and I am very pleased with the school and highly recommend it to others.

We left St. Matthews for Lake Ridge Creative preschool. We were looking for something longer and more comprehensive...we have loved every year! Ms Jean gives her heart to these kids and truly prepares them for kindergarten. She has reading and math groups after school for children who are ready to take that next step. She does this on her own time, without an extra charge. It is definitely a great balance between social/fun time and instruction.

When I was looking to choose a preschool for my daughter, my main focus was on the school's reputation and the quality of the program.  I had narrowed it down to two schools - the LRPRA preschool and one other local preschool.  LRPRA's preschool appeared to be more well-rounded in its activities and learning opportunities, and in preparation for kindergarten.   What finally "sold" me was the fact that I heard nothing but good things about the program.  My mother, who is a past LRPRA board president, told me that during her time on the board she received many positive reports from parents about the program.  A friend who is an elementary school teacher said that the children coming from the LRPRA preschool were generally better prepared for entering the structured environment of elementary school and excelled in their academics.   She said there was a notable difference between the LRPRA pre-school graduates and those of other preschools.  Nothing beats positive word of mouth "advertising" and opinions from other parents, and to me this spoke volumes as to how good the school is.My daughter has thrived at the preschool, academically and socially.  Her teachers are excellent, and I have no complaints.  I am already looking forward to when my one year old son is old enough to attend the program as well. (Click Here for Website)

14391 Minnieville Road, Woodbridge
We've had our youngest in Little Hands Preschool for the past two years and we love it!

This will be my sixth year at Little Hands (all three of my children will have been through here!) and I cannot say enough good things about it. The teachers are wonderful and the curriculum is the same as most other preschools. The other great thing is that they do have a class for early threes (2 and a 1/2 year olds), which is where we started with our oldest, and they also have a great Pre K class for those kids not quite ready to go to Kindergarten or who just miss the cut off. (Click Here for Website)

From the school: Registration forms will be considered "timely" through 2/1/13. The preschool lottery will be held on February 4th.  


We enrolled our child at Little Lambs after researching a variety of preschools in the area and having several educational professionals recommend it for our child.  They said its play-based, active learning approach with a staff who are supportive of children of differing backgrounds and abilities would be perfect for our child’s strengths and weaknesses.  And they were right! Our child had a poor experience at a previous preschool and was quite leery about the whole school experience.  He is a smart child who learned at a very young age how to tune out people who talk down to him.  The staff at Little Lambs has been warm and welcoming to our child, taking him in and showering him with love to bring him out of his shell.  He has changed from a sullen child who was unable to recite the alphabet to a bright and happy boy who can write his own name, finds letters in his world on a daily basis, and counts everything he can touch.  He talks about his friends constantly, and participates in classroom activities with gusto. We can’t say enough positive things about our experience at Little Lambs.  Other parents of children at the school talk about how it’s the hidden gem of preschools in Western Prince William County, and we wholeheartedly agree.  The learning experience, teaching ability, and administrative leadership are second to none. (Click Here for Website)

Nikki's Christian Learning Center in Dale City is great. My kids will be more than ready for kindergarten. They know bible verses, celebrate holidays and truly care about the students. My kids love school and have flourished since September.

Old Bridge Preschool, associated with Old Bridge Methodist Church, has been open for 4 years. Besides being a great preschool with very caring staff, the also have a mission of accepting students with special needs. They have special staff for students who qualify for services through the county, and although they aim for 30% special needs, they also do amazing things with typically developing children. Their academic program appropriately prepares students for kindergarten and helps them develop a love of learning. I have had a great experience with the school, with both of my children attending during the 4 years since the school has been open. I highly recommend Old Bridge Preschool. 

I am thrilled with Old Bridge Preschool in Woodbridge. The staff Is so caring and very educated. The environment is fantastic as well. The school has so many activities for the children and families so you always feel involved! Though my son is not special needs the school does have a good program for those that need it. Being our first year of school we are very pleased and my son loves it! We'll be back next year too!

I wanted to share a review for Old Bridge Preschool. We've had a great experience so far! A few reasons why we like them: the teachers and staff members are very kind, student teacher ratio is 4:1, potty training is not required, they're an inclusion school with 20-30% special needs students, offer tuition assistance/ scholarships, and have opportunities for parent involvement/volunteering.The only downside is that they only offer 3hr classes, no full day program available.  

Our experience with Old Bridge Preschool this past year has been fantastic.  The staff is dedicated, friendly and truly caring.  The facility is clean, well organized, and a fun environment for learning and play.  Our son is currently enrolled in the 2 year old class.  He also has special needs, and the staff have gone out of their way to accommodate his learning and participation in both everyday learning as well as special events and activities.  He has come to love this school and his teachers, and can't stop talking about it when he's at home.  We will be sending our son here for the next two years and feel confident that he will be well prepared for the transition into kindergarten.  I recommend Old Bridge to all parents considering a preschool program.

Both of my kids have gone there and I can't say enough good things about the school and staff. We have loved every one of our teachers and both kids have learned so much through play that they didn't know they were in school. They also accept special needs children which really teaches the children compassion for others.  (Click Here for Website)

Prince William Academy is a wonderful school. We currently have two children attending the school (toddler & Jr. K) & we have been more than happy with the quality of the education they have received. The school is NAEYC Accredited & has low student-teacher ratios, a well-rounded curriculum, qualified & caring teachers, flexible schedules & clean facilities. A testament to the school being so great is the joy our children have going to school each & every morning. If you're looking for a comprehensive program that offers creative outlets (art, music, play) & strong academics (language arts, math, science & languages), this is the school for you. We have been most impressed with the latter. Our Jr. Kindergartener is reading, writing & doing math at the Kindergarten level & we're considering testing her into 1st grade next year. This is a great school & would recommend it to anyone!
We had a horrible experience here and pulled our child out mid-year.  The program sounds so great on paper, but the classrooms are dirty and the teachers over-stretched without aids.  The preschoolers have indoor gym at the same time as older children and my child came home badly bruised one day when a 4th grader bowled them over and I didn't even recieve a note from the school or the teacher.  It's not worth the money. (Click Here for Website)

Riverview Baptist Day School in Woodbridge. They offered different day options for parents which was nice, they have a dresscode of navy or burgundy polos and khaki or navy pants/skirts I liked this too, I know some parents may not. The staff was friendly and so was the director and their "nurse" was accommodating (my daughter has epilepsy). However my daughter absolutely hated the school and would wake up in the middle of the night begging me to not make her go back, she would never tell me why she hated it so much, but she had nightmares. It got so bad that she was having panic attacks in the middle of the day on the weekends that led to full blown asthma attacks, I tried asking her teacher for help but she tried to tell me it was normal for kids and just separation anxiety. I went along with it for maybe five weeks before I couldn't do it to my daughter any longer and pulled her out. She has been terrified of the idea of school since. And to put it in perspective my daughter is not super clingy and goes to daycare during the day so it wasn't her first time away from me by any means.  

My eldest has really enjoyed the 1/2 day, 5 day-a-week program for 4 year-olds offered by Russell Elementary School aboard MCB Quantico.  Each of the two classrooms fits 16, and there are three teachers permanently assigned to each class.  That makes for a great teacher:student ratio and provides ample attention to each student.  There are "out of classroom" classes, including art, P.E., and computers.  The class is run on a routine, and my eldest really gets into it.  She especially enjoys the big and small group times, where she can choose from a variety of activities provided by the teachers.  The school staff is a pleasant crew, and there are ample opportunities to volunteer in the classroom.  This is a good first look at "real" school (e.g., all the fundraisers, PTA, expenses, etc.), and I've appreciated getting my feet wet slowly.  Finally, there is a bus that picks up the kids. Only students from the same grade ride, and there is a teacher aboard the enter time to supervise seatbelting and that the proper adult is picking the students up.  It's a great program, and I'm thankful to have it. (Click Here for Website)

My son goes there, and he loved it from day one.  He is 4 and can already read a little bit.  They actually teach them there, not just babysit them.  The teachers are 'real' teachers, with degrees and certificates, and each class has it's own room with a door.  This is all great to me because he used to go to (other school name deleted) which is crap compared to this place.  He gets a newsletter sent home once a month with 'homework' and it tells the parents what they are working on, and helpful print outs to use at home, like sight words and refrigerator stories.  The preschool is from 9-12:30am I believe, but my son does go full time from 9-5:30pm.  But the actual 'school' part of the day mostly takes place in the morning before lunch.  They offer full time and part time preschool (you can choose 5 days a week or 3 days a week, but they only offer morning preschool, not afternoon).  They are affordable compared to other places, and offer morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack..  Their summer camp is GREAT, lots of field trips (about 2 times a week) and other fun activities for a reasonable summer fee.  (Click Here for Website) 

We love St. Matthews and feel like it is everything a preschool program should be.  It is structured enough for the kids to feel secure, free enough for them to explore, and loving so they feel safe in their first school experience.  We love that there is a carpool line because with a preschooler and a new baby this past year it was great not to have to get out of the car in the rain or snow with the baby! St. Matthew's was the only school we looked at because on our tour, our child walked right in and acted like they'd been in class there since day 1.  It's been great and we're military so we're not sure when we'll have to leave, but we'd be very happy if our youngest child was able to go here, too.

St. Matthew's Lutheran Day School in Lake Ridge has been wonderful for our Pre-K child. Great teachers and a wonderful environment.

Pros:Teachers seemed awesome and school seemed well-organized.  Cons: No handwashing (just wipes), no snacktime at a table (they eat on the floor,) no walk-in drop-off or pick-up, open/mixed classrooms. (Click Here for Website)

ST. PAUL'S SCHOOL/MDO (3 Reviews):
Loved the mom's day out program at St. Paul's in Haymarket.  The lead teacher there is amazingly loving and great with the kids!

We came to St Paul’s based solely on its reputation in the area.  We were new to the area, and everyone told us it was “the best” academically and “guaranteed” placement in the Gifted program once the children moved to PW schools.  As parents of extremely bright students, it seemed to be a great fit.  Unfortunately, the school did not work well for our children at all.  In fact, it was extremely detrimental to our children and we’ve spent the ensuing months trying to fix the problems caused.What didn’t work for our children was St Paul’s insistence on rote teaching.  The children come in, sit down, and are instructed/lectured for most of the day.  They are given worksheets to reinforce the lessons, and are expected to quietly fill in the worksheets at their tables.  There is very little collaborative learning amongst the children – even during playtime, the children each choose a toy and play quietly by themselves.  They don’t interact, play together, pretend or share things between each other.  There is almost no gross motor play/exploration/learning, as there quite simply is no room on the campus.  The classrooms are extremely small and have no room for typical preschool things like centers or active pretend play.  The outdoor play area is extremely small and very limited in activities.  Arts & crafts, a preschool mainstay, are virtually non-existent.  So are teaching methods such as sensory play and manipulatives.  You learn to count by repeating what the teacher says and writing numbers repeatedly, not by counting physical objects.  You learn your letters by writing them over and over again with a pencil on paper, not by acting out the letters, drawing them with a variety of media, or exploring how they start different words with different sounds. If the children do not learn well by rote teaching, there is no personalization of lessons to a child.  There is no time taken to determine if a different learning/teaching style would reach the child, if something could be explained differently. The child is simply labeled as unteachable, a trouble maker, or just left behind while the rest of the class goes on.  Our children learned virtually nothing in their time at St Paul’s, and are now playing catch-up to their peers who were able to learn the basics of letters and numbers in other environments.

We've been extremely happy with the PreK program at St. Paul's and highly recommend the school! (Click Here for Website)