Giveaway: BelaJuli Photography

Today's giveaway is from Mariana of BelaJuli Photography.  A little about her:
Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I am the mom of two beautiful and crazy girls, Isabela and Juliana. Photography has always been a hobby, but when I gave birth to Isabela, I realized I wanted to capture every moment. I am so lucky to be able to wake up every day and do what I love. Having been a Spanish teacher at an elementary school before having my own kids, patience comes as second nature. I look forward to meeting new families and capturing their moments!
BelaJuli Photography offers gender reveal, maternity, newborn, children, family, and event photography.

Mariana is kind, patient, and easy to work with based on my experiences,  and I love this testimonial from her website: 
"Our photo's were gorgeous, but the most important thing about our experience with Mariana was her patience with our children. We never felt rushed and she was super flexible."
- Mary H.

BelaJuli Photography is offering one lucky winner a free 30 minute session and 5 digital copies, with the option, of course, to order more.  Enter using the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post: Toddler Tyme at the Manassas Museum

We have been pleasantly surprised with the Toddler Thyme program at the Manassas Museum this summer.  The title is a bit misleading as the classes are for children ages 3-5 years old (they said they are looking to change it for next time), but Love Bug (who is a little over 2 years old) was allowed to join since Sweet Girl was signed up for the classes.  The classes cost $10 per child. 

The classes are being held every Monday during the summer and there's something for everyone!  Themes range from railroads to life on the farm to pirates to police.  Classes are offered at two different times and last one hour.  One class is at 10:00 am and the other begins at 11:15 am.

The class is run by two young ladies who work for the museum.  Each class usually starts off with a book about the week's theme.  Then, we sing songs and/or do fingerplays.  Next, the children are invited to a table set up with supplies to do a craft.  Sometimes, we have done two crafts in one sitting if they are "small" crafts.  Other times, we have taken a break to play games or do something more active.  The class typically ends with one more story and then children are given a special take-home surprise before the class ends.

The children are throughly engaged for the entire hour.  They are learning new things about the theme of the week, practicing their good listening skills, taking turns, standing in line and using both fine and gross motor skills with the art projects and games.

I have to admit that I wasn't too sure about paying $10 per class for each child, but it is well worth it in my opinion.  The young ladies that run the class remember my girls' names and they are so friendly.  They work very well together and do a good job of keeping the children engaged for the full hour.  I like how parts (or all) of the classes are held outside--if the weather permits it.  The girls have loved the activities and proudly display their crafts at home.  The girls also look forward to the special take-home surprise at the end of each class.  We always leave class happy and excited about the theme of the week.

There is still time to try out this wonderful program, but there are only four more classes left this summer.  If you are interested in joining a class, check out the Manassas Museumwebsite.  They do recommend that you register in advance.

Side note:  There is a wonderful playground and picnic area that is open to the public behind the museum.  It's a great place to run around if you get to class a bit early or to have a picnic after class.
You'll walk past the beautiful Butterfly Garden on your way to the playground.
The playground and picnic area.
Check out the fun we've had at Toddler Tyme!
(Edit from Kristina: Visit Angela's Blog for pictures to go with each event- there were simply too many for me to copy and share each one!)
Craft:  Circus collage with stickers, paper and stamping
Games/Activities:  Circus songs, Pin the Tail on the Lion, Three-ring Beanbag Toss and Tight-rope Walking
Take-home surprise:  Circus animal tatoos
LIFE ON THE FARM (held at Liberia Plantation)
Craft:  Fuzzy Lamb 
Games/Activities:  Frog Fingerplay with frog finger puppets, Trying out a butter churn, Making real butter and Milking a pretend cow 
Take-home surprise:  Real lamb's wool
Craft:  Ocean sticker collage and Paper Plate Rainbow Fish 
Games/Activities:  Fish Fingerplay with finger puppets, Parachute fun with Blow-up Sea Animals and Magnetic Fishing 
Take-home surprise:  Fish tatoo and a fish or toad squeaky toy
Craft:  Pirate Hats, Paper Parrots and Pirate Coloring Page
Games/Activities:  Fingerplay, How to talk like a pirate and a Treasure Hunt with real "treasure" at the end!

Take-home surprise:  A "treasure chest" filled with loot:  play money, eye patch, necklace, tatoo, Manassas Bull Run Civil War patch
About the Author: 
The Master's Daughter, Angela Pounders, loves teaching and sharing her ideas with others. After working various teaching-type jobs, she now uses her God-given gifts with her children at home.
Disclaimer: This was an uncompensated post from a guest author.  All opinions are her own.  Visit Angela Pounders, aka "The Master's Daughter" at her website or on facebook


Ohio: Coco Key

If you're trying to knock states off your list, you can get a few done in just a few minutes if you stay in Cincinnati.
Bam.  Three states! My mom and I actually visited this same area when we went to hang out with some great friends of our family who were staying at the Ronald McDonald House while their daughter had some very extensive surgery.  There's a great aquarium, a zoo they apparently enjoyed, and there's some really really good ice cream.  There's also White Castle, which I personally will leave to Harold and Kumar because, well, I think it's gross.  I'm sure many of you will disagree, but this is my website and I get to make outrageous claims about fast food institutions.  So there.

This time, we came to Cincinnati straight from the Creation Museum in Kentucky.  We figured that after a hard day museum-ing (and sitting in the car on the way from West Virginia following the STRANGEST Google Maps directions ever) the kids would enjoy something active.  Enter, our hotel.

(Photo Credit: Coco Key) 
We stayed at the Crown Plaza Cincinnati North, which is attached to a Coco Key Resort.  I originally found this hotel on Groupon, and while I couldn't get a stay the night we needed, I did get our park passes from Groupon.  (Travel Tip: Check the deal sites for the city you're visiting! You might score a great deal!).  I got a deal for 4, which was perfect because people who aren't swimming don't pay, and I am not water-slide material right now.  After checking in, we ran the kids over since they would only have a few hours before the waterpark closed for the night.  There's the large slides, which go outside the building before dumping the rider back inside, a larger play structure surrounded by a lazy river with a giant bucket that dumps water at regular intervals, a lazy river, and a smaller play structure for younger kids.  There's also an arcade.  Life jackets are available, and there's also a bar and food available for purchase in the waterpark area.  
(Photo Credit: Coco Key)

The kids had a really great time, and older children will be able to enjoy this waterpark without too much worry about their swimming ability (all my children are swimmers, but you wouldn't have to be to have fun here).  My mom noted that the steps were kind of grody- that waterpark lots of people feeling.  Everyone had fun and we stayed until the park closed, which was about two and a half hours, and my kids probably would've stayed longer.  Well worth the money for them to get out their energy and play like crazy! 

Tickets are $25 at the door, but do check online, both at deal sites and on the Coco Key page, as right now they're running a special for half-price tickets when you purchase online. 

Since we didn't feed the kids dinner so they could play as long as possible, we took them to dinner after showers at 10pm.  

In case you didn't know it, I'm running for mother of the year.

We decided to try Cincinnati Chili.  Not my favorite, either- it's got cinnamon in it and while I'm a fan of cinnamon in my savory food (see: Lebanese Taverna's Chicken Fatteh, which I make a mean at-home version of) the kids liked it and everyone was a huge fan of Pleasant Ridge Chili, especially their Gravy Fries.  These sound horrible- they're fries with cheddar cheese and house-made gravy on top.

They're so freakin good.  Terrible for you, but good.  This little diner-style restaurant was hopping, too! We left around 11:30 (they're open until 4:30) and every bench in the place was packed!  Definitely a great Yelp find :) 

So that was Ohio, we had a fun time and stayed up way too late! 

Official Count: 4 States Down, 47 States To Go
(Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio)
Disclaimer: We got a great deal on Priceline on our Hotel and a Groupon for Coco Key, but nobody paid me, solicited my opinion, or gave us anything, and as usual, all opinions are my own. 


Week in Preview: July 29th- August 4, 2013



Just typing that word made me sad! We start school (formally) in August, and even if you start in September, turning the calendar page means that the end is near.  If you haven't dipped your toes in the water, caught fireflies, had ice cream and watched the sunset, or whatever else is on your summer bucket list, you'd better hop to it!

This week there's still plenty to do on the calendar, and here are a few features:

Monday, July 29
Bob Evans is finishing up their Kids Eat Free in July promotion, where kids eat free with adult entree purchase from 2pm-close.  
Run a mommy-group or playgroup? Call The Animated Child today to pre-book for next week's playdate.  On Mondays, mommy groups play for $4 and groups for $5 when you bring 15 or more children.  Montclair residents play for $4 after 3pm (no pre-registration needed) when they bring their rec tags, too. 
**August 9th there will be a Percy Jackson Launch Party at Bull Run Library- Prepare for the release of Sea of Monsters at the movie theatres with some Greek mythology themed activities at our very own Camp Half Blood. Register online, by phone or in person beginning July 25. This program is a young adult program.

Tuesday, July 30
At 10:30 am, Chinn Library will present "Flow Circus" with juggling, magic, and comedy combine into a performance you'll never forget as Paul Miller takes us back to one memorable summer when his eccentric uncle come to visit. Different from other adults, his wacky uncle opened up an exciting new world of play unlike any he had ever known. Children ages 2 and up, accompanied by an adult.
From 2-3:30pm, head to Lorton for a free performance of "The Wizard of Oz", recommended for ages 5 and up.  Love a freebie! 

Wednesday, July 31
Bull Run Library will host a "Pre-K Dance Party" at 10:30 am for ages 2 and up.  If you're closer to Independent Hill, they'll have children's musician Dave Brewer at the same time, same age group. 
For older children, head to Leesylvania State Park to learn about "What's in a Watershed" Where does all that water in the Potomac River comFREE Dinner & Movie!
Join us for the 1st Friday of every month for a FREE Movie and Kids Eat FREE from 6:00pm - 8:00pm in the restaurant. Movie starts from 6:00pm - 8:00pm. e from? Where does it go when it flows past Leesylvania? Join us for an exploration of how water makes the world go around as we travel through the water cycle, learn about watersheds, and see the aquatic impacts of how we use the land we live on. Meet up with a ranger at the Visitor Center to begin your journey through the world of water.
For more information please call 703-583-6904.  Be sure to check scout handbooks to see if you can cross off an elective! 
**On August 7th at 3pm there will be a reptile show at Central Library.  Free tickets are available starting today. 

Thursday, August 1
Reptiles Alive! Is always a great show, and it'll be at Potomac Library today at 1pm.  Plan to arrive early to ensure a seat: Gators and lizards and snakes, oh my! Explore the world of reptiles beneath your feet with awesome, slithering creatures from all over the world. A close encounter with some of the reptilian stars will follow each program. Limit 100 persons. Children, 'tweens and teens entering grades 1-12.
Recently added to our calendar, ghost tours of Occoquan are available Thursday-Sunday with advance registration.  Adults $12, Children $6 (6-12), Children 5 and Under Free.  Reserve online here

Friday, August 2
Ready for a date night? The Freedom Center will cover your childcare: Parents take the opportunity to sit back and relax one Friday of every month. We provide a variety of competitive games, upbeat activities, swimming and pizza for your child to enjoy. Please pack a bathing suit, towel and wear tennis shoes. Participants must be registered by Thursday 10pm before the event freedom-center.com
Family Date Night sound more your speed? IKEA has free Dinner and a Movie! FREE Dinner & Movie!
Join us for the 1st Friday of every month for a FREE Movie and Kids Eat FREE from 6:00pm - 8:00pm in the restaurant. Movie starts from 6:00pm - 8:00pm.  (This month, it's Mulan) 

Saturday, August 3
If you can get up and out the door on a Saturday morning, Leesylvania State Park has their Fishing Tournament this week! 
If worms aren't your thing, Home Depot has their Kids' Workshops the first Saturday of the month, too!  Register online before you go!  
The Lorton Workhouse is showing Winnie the Pooh, if you need an indoor option.  Join us at the Workhouse Arts Center, 9601 Ox Road, Lorton, VA 22079 for Winnie the Pooh: Live on-Stage! Based on the stories of A.A. Milne.  Join Pooh, Piglet and all the rest for an adventurous afternoon in the Hundred Acre Wood! The forest is in a worry when two mysterious new neighbors, Kanga and Roo, move in. On top of that, Eeyore has lost his tail again! Will Piglet come to the rescue?
Running time 75 minutes with one intermission, appropriate for all ages. Concessions available before the performance and at intermission.
Show Times: 1pm (75 minute show, with one intermission)
Tickets: $12 adults; $8 children under 12 years old
**August 11th will be the next Lowe's Build and Grow, be sure to register in advance to ensure a spot for your child at this Shrek Themed event.Build and Grow Registration

Sunday, August 4
Also new to the calendar, Miss Rivershore Charters does boat tours of the Tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday from 12noon till 1 hr before dark. Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children 12-4 and under 4 are FREE. 

Leesylvania State Park Happenings This Week

07/31/2013What's a Watershed?
Location: Visitor Center
Where does all that water in the Potomac River come from? Where does it go when it flows past Leesylvania? Join us for an exploration of how water makes the world go around as we travel through the water cycle, learn about watersheds, and see the aquatic impacts of how we use the land we live on. Meet up with a ranger at the Visitor Center to begin your journey through the world of water.

3 Sessions:  11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., & 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Phone: (703) 583-6904    Web Site: Leesylvania    Email Address:leesylvania@dcr.virginia.gov 
08/01/2013Ecosystem Exploration
Location: Meet at Powells Creek Trailhead.
Take a walk with a ranger and learn just what it is you are looking at when you explore Leesylvania. Learn who produces what, what helps whom, and what it all means to the humans who live "outside" of nature. Please remember to wear close-toed shoes and bring water.
3 Sessions:  11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., & 4:00 p.m.

Phone: (703) 583-6904    Web Site: Leesylvania    Email Address:leesylvania@dcr.virginia.gov 
08/02/2013Dino Days
Location: Visitor Center    Extra Event Fee Charged.
Walk in the footsteps of the dinosaurs! Come to the Visitor Center to excavate fossils, try to out run a T-Rex, and design your own dinosaur. Fee is $2/person, $6/family

3 Sessions:  11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., & 4:00 p.m.
Phone: (703) 583-6904    Web Site: Leesylvania    Email Address:leesylvania@dcr.virginia.gov 
08/03/2013Invasive Species Hike
Location: Meet at the Lee's Woods Historic Trailhead.
Can you tell the difference between the heart-shaped leaves of a native redbud and invasive princess tree? Take a hike with a ranger and see the plants and animals that have been waging a silent war against our native species.  Please remember to wear close-toed shoes and bring water.

2 Sessions:  11:00 a.m. & 2:00 p.m.

Phone: (703) 583-6904    Web Site: Leesylvania    Email Address:leesylvania@dcr.virginia.gov 
08/03/20139:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.Kids Fishing Tournament
Location: Marina in lot #1
Join our kids fishing tournament and see what you can catch. There is some fishing equipment that participants can borrow, but we encourage folks to bring their own. There are several volunteers on hand to give participants help. Sponsored by the Friends of Leesylvania State Park.
Phone: (703) 583-6904    Web Site: Leesylvania    Email Address:leesylvania@dcr.virginia.gov 
08/03/20136:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.Canoe Tour
Location: Register at the Visitor Center and then meet at Canoe Launch   Extra Event Fee Charged.
Join a ranger for a guided canoe tour on Powell's Creek. You'll get to see wildlife, marsh plants, and test your skills in a canoe. Please register with the Visitor Center 24 hours in advance for the tour. Fee is $9.00 per person, or $6.00 per person when reserving for groups of 4 or more.

Phone: (703) 583-6904    Web Site: Leesylvania    Email Address:leesylvania@dcr.virginia.gov 
08/04/20137:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.Canoe Tour
Location: Register at the Visitor Center and then meet at Canoe Launch   Extra Event Fee Charged.
Join a ranger for a guided canoe tour on Powell's Creek. You'll get to see wildlife, marsh plants, and test your skills in a canoe. Please register with the Visitor Center 24 hours in advance for the tour. Fee is $9.00 per person, or $6.00 per person when reserving for groups of 4 or more.

Phone: (703) 583-6904    Web Site: Leesylvania    Email Address:leesylvania@dcr.virginia.gov 
08/04/201311:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.Colonial Children's Games
Location: Visitor Center
See what games children used to play during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Play a few innings of Town Ball. Race hoops against each other and play a game of catch called Graces. Appropriate for children 4 years old and up.
Phone: (703) 583-6904    Web Site: Leesylvania    Email Address:leesylvania@dcr.virginia.gov


Kentucky: The Creation Museum

After we left West Virginia, we headed through Pennsylvania and Ohio into Kentucky, where we checked out the Creation Museum.  We homeschool, and I teach my kids multiple theories of creation, including the Big Bang, Evolution, and Creationism, offering them background and research on each one, so I was excited to bring them to check out this museum.  The Creation Museum is a gorgeous facility and focuses on Young Earth Creationism, or the idea that a literal interpretation of the Bible makes the Earth about 6,000 years old.  I realize that this post might not be for everyone, so if it's not for you, no need to start a fight, just move on to the next post.  Deal?
A lot of the museum was what I was expecting, there were beautiful exhibits showing diversity of species, there were some great exhibits detailing the differences between Natural Selection and Evolution, and there were a few great panels talking about the potential problems with radio-carbon dating as evidence of the age of the Earth.
There were some excellent collections of species diversity, and the kids really liked the displays with the insects.

When you enter the museum, there is a display on Lucy, and then there is a tunnel showing some modern issues that have arisen because of a lack of adherence to Biblical morals (they're mostly magazine covers with news stories about school shootings, etc).  After that, there is a room with some church history, and eventually you walk through a version of the Garden of Eden and a replica of Noah's Ark.

Many of the rooms feature animatronic people or animals, which are really neat.  Several of the characters will talk to you and let you ask preselected questions off a touch-screen in front of them, which the kids really enjoyed.
After you exit these portions of the museum, you enter into more exhibits detailing the differences between Creationism and Big Bang/Evolution, which was where most of the apologetics I was hoping we'd see were located.
Unfortunately, I had pretty much lost my kids at that point.  They did okay in the first room with images depicting problems we have in the world (see picture above) although the younger two found it slightly scary.  However, there's a room you walk through after the fall in the garden with video footage being projected onto the walls, and as far as I could tell, there wasn't really a way around it.  When we walked through, it was images of concentration camp victims and wars, and my two youngest were overwhelmed by it.  It would be really great if there was some kind of warning about what you were walking into, or an optional route for parents whose children might be particularly sensitive to strong images. If I had it to do over again, I would have taken my children though backwards, so we started with the exhibits on bugs, dinosaurs, and rocks, and then worked my way back, and skipped the images room and gone back to the beginning.
Photo Credit: Creation Museum

The Creation Museum has more than just the museum, although it was hot the day we went, so we opted to stay with just the indoor activities.  There's a beautiful botanical garden, a petting zoo, camel rides, a zip line, a planetarium, and frequent workshops and events for all ages.  There are also several movies that take place both as part of the tour and throughout the day, which are posted in the day's schedule.  You could easily spend an entire day here and have a lot of fun, both inside and out.  The entire museum facility is beautifully done and meticulously maintained.  Tickets are $29.95 for adults, $23.95 for seniors, $15.95 for children ages 5-12, and 5 and under are free.  Adults get $5 off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and all tickets are valid for two days.  The planetarium is an additional fee. There are some special promotions, as well, with Mothers free on Mother's Day, Fathers free on Father's Day, everyone free on Christmas Eve Day, and Veterans free on Veteran's Day, Independence Day, and Memorial Day.

Wether your children would enjoy seeing familiar stories brought to life, or your older children would benefit from the apologetics, this museum is very well done, with the exception of the two rooms I mentioned being too much for younger children.  There were lots of younger children at the museum the day we went who didn't seem bothered, though, so it may have just been us.
Disclaimer: We were provided with tickets to attend the museum, but all opinions are my own.


West Virginia

So, I have this crazy idea.  Typically my best ideas are my crazy ones.  I want to take my kids to all 50 United States before they graduate.  This was all inspired by a Pinterest find, a quilt made of state t-shirts.  That's what I want to send them off to college with.  Riley, my oldest, is 9, so I have to shake a leg.  
Over this last week, my mom was attending a family reunion in Wisconsin, and wanted to take the kids.  Originally, my dad was going to go, but he ended up being unable to attend, so I decided that I would go since it was going to be a massive drive for one adult alone.  I couldn't drive, but I could help with the kids, so we packed up and off we went.  Our first stop was West Virginia.  Not much of a drive, but it got us started.  My godmother lives in West Virginia, so we were excited to have a visit with her!  Originally, we were hoping to go with River Riders on a tube trip down the river.  We've used them before for White Water Rafting, but right now, tubing is way more my speed- especially with the munchkins! Unfortunately, the recent rain made the water level too high, and they were only allowing ages 12+ on the water.  Boo.
 Aunt Beth, my godmother, took us to JayDee's Family Fun Center (2332 Henshaw Road, Inwood, WV) to go to their indoor "Nature Center".  I wasn't really sure what to expect, but it was awesome!  For $5 admission, we really got a great deal!  The Nature Center is really more of a children's museum and it's got several rooms, each with a theme.  There was wind and water, which had hoses and a water table to play with and explore, see above.
 In another room, there were minerals and rocks, another had rainbows and mirrors that distorted your view so show the power of light, still another room had oceans, there was a farm you could "plant" and "pick", and there were animals and bugs displayed, too!
 The final room had live animals, including birds and lizards.  Two of the birds will even talk to you.  The kids had an amazing time, and every room had hands-on components.  It was a great deal for a clean, well-kept children's museum! I know they called it a nature center, and I can see that title, but it was really very children's museum-esque and we would actually drive out again to go- maybe as a homeschool field trip later this year!
 One of the reasons I never would have expected such a great experience was that JayDee's is really like an extreme House of Mouse (you know what I'm talking about!!).  When you first walk in, you're inside an arcade and there's a cafe selling pizza and other food.
 Outside the back door, there's a waterpark.  Slides, a splash zone, and lots of people having fun! Also out the back door, there's putt-putt golf, a batting cage, and a small train that will take you up to a "mine" so you can pan for gemstones.  My middle child, Logan, is a nut for gemstones and keeps a collection, so I ponied up for the large $9 bags of gemstones and dirt and away we went.  The Nature Center closes earlier than the rest of the facility, so we had to be done there in only an hour, and could have easily spent two or three there.
After a train ride through the parking lot, the kids got to "pan for gold", shaking their gemstone bags into the screen-lined boxes and then lowering them into the water. We've done this before at Cox Farms, but the kids LOVE it, and are always so excited to get to do it, anyway.

After JayDees, we headed to check out Despicable Me 2, which I think I already mentioned on Facebook was a HUGE win with my kids.  Savannah is 5 and she enjoyed it, but not as much as Logan (7) and Riley (9) who were almost rolling in the aisles.  Even the three adults really enjoyed the storyline, which has a bit of a love story to it.  Definite win!

Official Count: 2 States Down, 48 States To Go
(Virginia, West Virginia)
Disclaimer: I was not compensated or provided with anything in return for this review, I'm just sharing my own opinions and experience.  Yours may vary, but if it does, I hope it's because it's way more awesome than I'm sharing.


For Moms: Herbal Tension Tamers

The Animated Child will be offering an Herbal Tension Tamers class on July 23rd at 7:30pm.  To RSVP and save your spot, call (703) 763-0003.  I know we're all stressed out, whether we're the SAHM type or the WAHM type or the WM type.  If you've got an "M" for "Mom" in your title, this class is for you! 


Week in Preview: July 15 to July 21, 2013

Can you believe we're halfway through July? I can't! Granted, I feel like I lost the better part of a year being sick, but time always goes fast when you have little ones, doesn't it? I remember a MOPS mentor mom telling me once that the days drag on but the years fly by- and I can get that. 

Since we're pretty far though summer, take stock of your summer "bucket list", or make one if you haven't! Have you gone fishing? Gotten some fro-yo? Gone camping, even if it's in the backyard? Blown bubbles and caught fireflies? There are so many great summer memories that are free or low-cost, and really build memories for later! 

Not sure if you'll still be able to get tickets, call first but if you can, do it asap for:
Reading is Magic: Mattioli presents a unique combination of stunning visual magic with comedy and audience interaction. Be amazed as live doves appear out of thin air, watch a microphone stand levitate, and much more! Students entering grades 1 and up. Pick up FREE tickets beginning July 9 at Central Library. Appearance is July 16 from 3-4pm.

Grey Seal Puppets: Animals collide in a fairy tale world with these lively retellings of familiar and much-loved folk tales. Children ages 2 and up, accompanied by an adult. Pick up FREE tickets beginning July 10. Central Library. Actual performance is July 17 at 10:30am
(Note- if you can't get tickets at Central, you can go to this event at Chinn on July 18th at 10am or Potomac at 2pm, no ticket needed)

Reminder/For those who are new: These are NOT the only events this week! It's just a heads up on any you might want to pre-register for and a few highlights.  Head to the "calendar" section for a full list of things to do (that we know of). 

Monday, July 15
Sign your tot up TODAY for "It's Snowing in July" at the Freedom Center, which will happen on Wednesday the 17th at 12:30pm.  This hour and a half class is drop-off and costs $13.  Children must be registered by 10am today. 

Tuesday, July 16
Crafty Critters and Insect Exploration will give kids ages 2 and up a chance to learn about bugs and make a thematic craft.  10:30 am at Independent Hill Library

Older kids might enjoy seeing the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) truck at Chinn Library at 2pm!

Wednesday, July 17
Good Shepherd UMC, located at Birchdale and Dale, is offering a free Christian story time and craft at 10am.  Last week, a reader said this was higher-quality than many library programs they've attended, and that it's not nearly as busy.  If you're avoiding the library because of the crowds, this might be one to try. 

Working moms- tonight you can head to a family craft time at Potomac Library at 7:15 and make a "Deely Bopper".  (Don't ask me, I have NO clue what that is) Plan to arrive at 7 to get a ticket, which are free but limited. 

Thursday, July 18
It's Kidgits day at Potomac Mills! Meet by the TJ Maxx entrance (near the indoor play area) for a fun event at 10am. Kidgits club meets the 3rd Thursday of every month for different fun activities. It's free for everyone to attend, or, for $5 per child per year, you can get a Kidgits membership and enjoy special perks, like a goodie at each meeting or a spin on the prize wheel every time you shop! Plus a t-shirt and something special for your birthday.

Need an evening event? There's family craft night at Chinn where you can make a Summer Photo Frame, or you could try Mom & Me Bellydance for something a little more active! Both are at 7pm.

Friday, July 19
Friday night could be some active fun! There's a mom and tot yoga class in Occoquan from 6:15-7pm (we tried one of these, my daughter and I, and she loved it so much I bought a DVD for her because I couldn't make the class time when she was a tot). For older kids, MyBodyMovez is hosting a Glow Party: Calling all TEEEENS! Join us on Friday, 7/19 for a dance party just 4 YOUUUUU! Wear your neon or white, bring your friends and come dance with us under black lights. Ages 12-17. Parents must sign waiver. $10/person

Saturday, July 20
Our newest sponsor, The Animated Child has two great events that you'll need to PRE REGISTER for. The first is a free Spanish class for ages 5-7, and the second is a Parents Night Out with a "Minecraft Mania" theme. They've even taken the guess work out of dinner by partnering with Mateo's Santa Fe Cafe to offer you a special price on dinner. Love it! Mateo's comes highly recommended by our readers.

Manassas-side, there's a free concert from 6:30-8pm at the Harris Pavilion featuring Linda Lay and Springfield Exit. There's a Subway across the street if you'd like dinner and a show ;)

Sunday, July 21
Have you been to a waterpark yet this summer? Waterworks and Splashdown are both great fun!

The Animated Child will also offer lunch dates! Parents Lunch Out will watch your kids while you enjoy Mateo's Santa Fe Cafe Excellent southwest meals for two at an exclusive price of $20 for PLO participants at Animated Child. Two entrees and a delicious dessert! Make it a special afternoon "just because." Outdoor dining available and stay within the same shopping plaza! Be sure to PRE REGISTER for this one!


Smithsonian Features Iconic Little Golden Books in Summer Display

Finding something to do for the summer just got easier with the opening of a special display about Little Golden Books at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “The Art of Little Golden Books” will share the story of literacy in America in a fun and interactive format that visitors of all ages can enjoy. Located in the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery, it will feature a sampling of the artists’ illustrations from several early Little Golden Books and will be on display from June 28, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014.
“There is something particularly wonderful about the beautifully illustrated Little Golden Books that captivated the imaginations of young readers across America,” said John Gray, director of the museum. “The National Museum of American History will display these little treasures and inspire young readers with the same books that sparked literacy in America over several decades.”
Little Golden Books transformed children’s reading habits in the early 20th century and became an icon in almost every American middle-class home. Before World War II, large-format, classic story books for children were prohibitively expensive and available to a privileged few. Little Golden Books offered new ideas and modern stories in an affordable format.
“This display will bring back fond childhood memories for many of our visitors who read these books in their early years,” said Melodie Sweeney, curator of the exhibition. “It will also offer a way for one generation to share with the next about their experiences of growing up and learning how to read.”
Visitors to the Little Golden Books exhibition will be able to view a reproduction of the original display units that were set up by the publishers after World War II in five-and-dime chains, grocery stores, and drugstores. In addition, some of the most popular books, such as Gaston and Josephine, Nurse Nancy, Doctor Dan the Bandage Man and The Two Little Miners, will be featured with a selection of classics for visitors to look through. The exhibit space will include seating, inviting visitors to read and relax as they take a step back in time with titles such as The Poky Little Puppy, Scuffy the Tugbout, and The Shy Little Kitten.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is currently renovating its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.


Guest Post: One Risk to Know About, One Risk to Talk About

Do you know someone with epilepsy?  Do you know someone with a seizure disorder?  Know a person who has had just one seizure?  If so, learn about this condition and you can save a life.

It is called Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy or SUDEP and it is a fatal complication of seizures that I was never made aware of.

My husband, Jeff, died on February 26th, 2012 at the age of 42 from SUDEP.  The short story is this: Jeff had his first tonic-clonic seizure (or grand mal seizure) in his sleep in January.  We followed up with doctor visits, CAT scans, MRI’s, EEG’s, you name it.  Nothing showed a reason for the sudden seizure and we were advised that it could be a “one time event”.  However, in February, Jeff had a second seizure.  In the hours afterwards he appeared to recover then voiced that he was tired and laid down for a nap.  He died in his sleep.

I had never heard of SUDEP.  Most families I have met that have lost a loved one to SUDEP had never heard of the risk.  I was warned to not let Jeff drive, he couldn’t go swimming, or climb a ladder.  But I was never told to monitor him in his sleep.  I was not told that people with seizures can die from a condition eerily similar to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

If seizures effects you or someone you know I want you to know about this risk.  I want you to educate yourself about SUDEP and preventive measures.  Just as new parents are told of SIDS, people with seizures should be told of SUDEP.

There is no known cure-all way to prevent SUDEP. Currently, the best course of treatment is to encourage and engage in these preventative strategies:

§  advocate for increased awareness by the public and the medical community;
§  maximum seizure control via strict treatment adherence;
§  regular physical activity and lifestyle modifications that reduce stress and seizure activity;
§  patients should regularly visit with their doctor especially if their convulsive seizures are not completely controlled;
§  consider the use of alternative resources such as monitoring devices that detect certain seizures and can alert caretakers and enable early intervention;
§  consider supervision or monitoring during sleep hours to identify seizure activity;
§  ensure that family members and caretakers have knowledge of seizure first aid and of emergency resuscitation measures including CPR and defibrillator use;
  • inquire about and advocate for research that enables a better understanding of the mechanisms of SUDEP. (The Danny Did Foundation, http://www.dannydid.org/sudep/)

Please join us in Prince William County on September 22, 2012 for a 5K in honor of Jeff Beaupre.  I have partnered with the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation (http://www.chelseahutchisonfoundation.org/) and the Danny Did Foundation (, http://www.dannydid.org/) to raise awareness of SUDEP.  Funds from the September 22, 2013 5K will go to the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation to be used to provide sleep monitors and seizure response dogs.  Race information can be found at: http://www.runningguru.com/EventInformation.asp?eID=6074
About the Author:   “Jeff’s Wife” has a blog detailing her family’s struggle with SUDEP and grief at http://survivingaftersudep.blogspot.com