New Years Eve 2014

Prince William County doesn't have a First Night Celebration, although I did talk with our county supervisor about the process at one point.  But, there are a few family-friendly options for folks in PWC (okay, and I'll include first nights that are close by!)

Pump it Up of Manassas will be offering NYE festivities a day EARLY on December 30th with open playtime, DJ, Karaoke, Glow, Pizza, a NY Countdown and a balloon drop.  This is not drop off and last year it sold out! Times are 12-2pm and 5-7pm.  They will also have events on the 31st.

Skate N Fun Zone will host a New Years Eve Skate on December 31st with Balloon Drops at 2pm and Midnight.  You can read about our review of their NYE party here.

Pump it Up of Manassas will have a drop-off event for kids on December 31st from 5-8pm Looking for some one to watch the kids while you celebrate ringing in the New Year? Let Pump It Up take care of the kids for a few hours. They will enjoy GLOW, Karaoke, Sparkling cider and ring in the new year with our balloon drop and we'll even feed them dinner! *This is a DROP-OFF event.*

Kids N Motion will offer a NYE party with sleepover option.  It's $30 (I'm not clear on if that's per kid or for two kids, the website says "$30 per siblings") and includes pizza, a movie, donuts and milk for breakfast, and lots of bouncing.  There's a balloon drop at 10pm, and you're able to pick your children up after that or leave them for the night.

Christ Chapel will offer a 10pm New Years Eve Service

Falls Church 

Start your New Year off right with a 5k with the Freedom Center on January 1st! 
Leesylvania State Park will offer a first day hike from 1-2:30pm.  It's a 90 minute 2 mile hike led by Jim Klakowicz.  


Disney's Into the Woods

Did you know that Anna Kendrick is my BFF?

Neither does she.  But she is.

Nobody throws shade like Anna.


But I digress.  I was invited to check out Disney's "Into the Woods" coming to theaters on Christmas Day.  The film is rated PG, but I would recommend it for kids ages 12-13 and up.   Here's my breakdown:

The Good:
Meryl Streep.  For real.  She is amazing at everything, and as the witch she's totally awesome.  She can sing, she can be old and scary, she can rock the blue hairdo that she gets when she's young- she's amazing at it all.
The singing is great.  Everyone is very talented.
THE PRINCES.  OH MY GOSH.  When they sing "Agony" it's like someone took an Old Spice Commercial and translated it to a musical.  I did not stop laughing.  They made my life complete.  If I could pay money to see this movie again and JUST SEE THIS SCENE it would be worth it.

The Bad:
In the first 30 seconds of the movie Jack's mom beats him upside the head about 20 times and Cinderella gets smacked to the floor.  True to the Grimm version of things, the stepsisters cut off their toes to fit into the glass slipper, and the poor baker's wife dies right after being unfaithful to her husband.
Much like the musical, this movie lasts about 40 minutes too long.  Everybody was happy! Why are we ruining this?

The Awesome:
Did I mention the princes? They are so funny

The Scary:
When Johnny Depp sings "Hello Little Girl", it is somehow taken to a whole new level of child molester.  I was actually afraid of what I was going to see on the screen....he just eats her, no worries, but he is creepy as the wolf.

Did you like the musical? You'll like this!
Do you hate musicals? You'll probably hate this, too!
This was a well done on-screen musical.  You cannot beet Meryl Streep as the witch, I loved Cinderella, and the baker is endearing.  There is lots of comedy, but there's also a lot of adult themed things happening (infidelity, child abuse, infertility, death) but it's all very much done in the fairy-tale style, so you might take younger kids.  I think that with my kids, they'd all have been either lost, bored, or scared, which is why my guess is 12 and up.  I enjoyed this movie and I'm glad I saw it!


Resolution Run 2015!

The Resolution Run Fun Run and 5K
Thur. Jan. 1, 2015
10:00 a.m. The Resolution Run – 5K
11:00 a.m. 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk – click  for more info


Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center
9100 Freedom Center Blvd. Manassas, VA 20110

Race Theme:

“In 2015, I Resolve To…….”
This family friendly event is a fun and festive celebration of New Year’s Day.  We start the race at 10:00 so you can sleep in a little bit.
As with all Fun Run Races, we emphasize the FUN.  You will receive a race bib that says, “In 2015, I Resolve TO…”  the rest of the bib is blank and entirely up to you if you want to write in your New Year’s Resolution.  Have some fun with this!  We will give out multiple Best Resolution awards for: Most Sincere, Funniest, Sappiest, Most Creative, Most Disturbing, Most Likely to Warm the Hearts’ of Your Loved Ones, and many more!
Stay Warm! The Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center has graciously opened its facility so participants and spectators can stay ‘warm’ both pre and post race.
A DJ will play music from 9:00-11:30.

Charity and Community Partners:

Fun Run Racing is proud to have raised over $12,400 for local charities and non-profits!
Fun Run Racing is proud to work with our charity partner the Manassas Bull Run Rotary Club.  A portion of all race proceeds support the Rotary and all the numerous local charities they support. Read More.
Fun Run Racing is excited to partner with the Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center for our upcoming race series.Read More.

Participant Costs:

Early bird registration: (Through Dec. 1)
5K-$30, 1 Mile-$12.50
Regular registration: (Dec. 2 – Dec. 16)
5K-$35, 1 Mile-$12.50
Procrastinator registration J: (Dec. 17 – Dec. 26)
5K-$40, 1 Mile-$12.50

Packet Pick Up:

Tue. 12/30 10:00-7:00 p.m. & Wed. 12/31 10:00-3:00 p.m. at The Running Store
7343 Atlas Walk Way Gainesville, VA 20155


Top 5 men and women receive Running Store Gift Cards – $100/$75/$50/$25/$25
Fun Run Racing’s world famous (yeah right) “Golden Ticket Awards” will be given randomly to race finishers – good luck!
Best Resolution Awards
Age Group Awards: Top 3 male & female in each age group receive awards — Under 12,13-15,16-19,

Cool Race Swag:

All 5K participants receive an awesome long sleeve race tee and a custom commemorative race bib.
All 1 mile participants receive a cool cotton/poly race tee and a custom commemorative race bib.


Holiday Camps at Engineering for Kids 2014

Engineering For Kids® 
 Holiday Mini-Camps  

Spots still open in Woodbridge & Stafford! 

Discovery Center - Woodbridge

Set Sail!
December 22nd
8:30am - 3:30pm; Ages 7 - 14; $60/child.   
During this one day camp, student will learn the principles of boat design, buoyancy, friction, and motors by working on various marine projects from Cartesian diver in a bottle to a motorized power boat. At the conclusion of the camp students will get to take home all of their creations.
Junior: Wind-Up Robot!
December 22nd
10:00am - Noon; Ages 4 - 6; $20/child
Step inside our workshop and build and design your own robot. Learn what goes on in side a wind-up toy and how it works - without batteries! Become a mechanical engineer and design your very own wind-up robot.

Junior: Software Engineering
Scratch - Go to the Moon!
December 22nd
1:00pm - 3:00pm; Ages 4 - 6; $20/child.
Learn the basics of computer programming while helping an astronaut complete his journey to the moon. Students will create their own custom character and write a script it to fly to the moon. All students will leave with a functioning program that they can run at home.
Rambling Roller Coasters!

December 23rd
8:30am - 3:30pm; ages 7-14; $60/child.
During this one day workshop students will work in teams to build the tallest, fastest and craziest roller coaster that Engineering For Kids has ever seen and explore the concepts of gravity, friction, centripetal force, and various kinds of energy. Join Engineering For Kids for this exciting and educational workshop.
Create a Video Game!
Platform Games
December 29th
8:30am - 3:30pm; ages 7-14; $60/child.
During this one day camp, students get a chance to explore the work of video game design, students will use Multimedia Fusion 2® to create their own video game. A platform game is a side-scrolling, Mario-type game where students program characters and a two-dimensional obstacle course. They attempt to avoid or overcome enemies and reach an end goal on multiple levels. At the end of the camp, students take home a copy of the game they create.

Chemical Engineering:
Crazy Concoctions!
December 30th
8:30am - 3:30pm; ages 7-14; $60/child.
During this one day camp, students use the Engineering Design Process to design, create, test, and refine various mixtures and solutions with different chemical properties. They develop solutions to clean up an oil spill, synthesize their own rocket fuel, and investigate the secrets behind color pigmentation.
Mechanical Mayhem!
January 2nd
8:30am - 3:30pm; ages 7-14; $60/child.
During this one day camp students will become Mechanical Engineers by learning about the different forces and energy such as gravity, inertia, kinetic energy, and potential energy through fun, hands on activities such as creating sail boats, balloon powered cars, and roller coasters.
Engineering For Kids - Stafford
Create a Video Game!
Platform Games
December 22nd
8:30am - 3:30pm; ages 7-14; $60/child.
During this one day camp, students get a chance to explore the work of video game design, students will use Multimedia Fusion 2® to create their own video game. A platform game is a side-scrolling, Mario-type game where students program characters and a two-dimensional obstacle course. They attempt to avoid or overcome enemies and reach an end goal on multiple levels. At the end of the camp, students take home a copy of the game they create.

Minecraft Madness!
December 23rd
8:30am - 3:30pm; ages 7-14; $60/child.
In this brand new camp, students will tackle a wide range of engineering challenges, all within the virtual world of Minecraft.  Students move through time into an apocalyptic future, one where the earth has been ravaged by a series of natural disasters.  At each point in the camp, students will need to rely on the engineering design process to solve a series of increasingly difficult challenges such as surviving on limited resources, building a city on a series of islands, escaping from a bunker on Mt. Everest, and even building a rocket to land on the moon!  The fate of the human race relies on the classes imagination and engineering know-how.  Through application of engineering principles, students will solve numerous challenges as they make their virtual world of Minecraft a safe place for humanity once again.
Create a Video Game!
Racing Games
December 29th
8:30am - 3:30pm; ages 7-14; $60/child.
During this one day camp, students get a chance to explore the work of video game design, students will use Multimedia Fusion 2® to create their own video game. Students design a racetrack, race cars and an environment in which their cars compete. At the end of the camp, students take home a copy of the game they create.

Minecraft Madness!
January 2nd
8:30am - 3:30pm; ages 7-14; $60/child.
In this brand new camp, students will tackle a wide range of engineering challenges, all within the virtual world of Minecraft.  Students move through time into an apocalyptic future, one where the earth has been ravaged by a series of natural disasters.  At each point in the camp, students will need to rely on the engineering design process to solve a series of increasingly difficult challenges such as surviving on limited resources, building a city on a series of islands, escaping from a bunker on Mt. Everest, and even building a rocket to land on the moon!  The fate of the human race relies on the classes imagination and engineering know-how.  Through application of engineering principles, students will solve numerous challenges as they make their virtual world of Minecraft a safe place for humanity once again.
Click Here for Mini-Camp Registration
*Registration is required for all of these programs*

Don't Forget to "Like" us on Facebook! 
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Upcoming at BumbleABC Lake Ridge

Bumble Science - Fascinated about Flight
Mondays- January 5th, 12th, 19th, & 26th
5:00 PM - 5:45 PM
Ages 3-6
In this four week class, little scientists learn about various methods and means of flight by using the scientific method to experiment with a wind tunnel, a straw rocket launcher, balloons, pinwheels, helicopters, airplanes and more!
Bumble Music - Circles, Spots & Dots
Mondays- January 5th, 12th, 19th, & 26th
6:15 PM - 7:00 PM
Ages 3-6
In this four week class, little bugs enhance hand-eye coordination, rhythm skills, music awareness and gross motor skills as they learn about circle shapes through fun, interactive music and movement games, they are engaged by parachute-play and they play instruments while moving, rocking, marching, tapping, clapping, singing, and dancing to the beat!
Bumble Art - Build-a-Bug
Wednesdays- January 7th, 14th, 21st, & 28th
5:00 PM - 5:45 PM
Ages 3-6
In this four week class, little artists pretend to be construction workers and enhance fine motor skills and creativity by using various building methods such as cutting, painting, gluing and more to construct a different bug each week!

Bumble Sports - Taking Aim
Wednesdays- January 7th, 14th, 21st, & 28th
6:15 PM - 7:00 PM
Ages 3-6
In this four week class, little athletes explore team-building concepts, enhance fine and gross motor skills, and practice hand-eye coordination by engaging in fun, interactive games and activities centered on basketball, golf, bowling and ping pong!
Open Play Workshops in Lake Ridge
Mondays and Wednesdays
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Infants to age 6
This open discovery workshop encourages creativity and cognitive development as children advance in association and problem-solving abilities, while constructing with various large building blocks and other materials. Friendships and social skills will also form as children work and grow together!


Kid Ornament Ideas

Remember that time that my husband didn't set up the Christmas tree correctly and it fell over and all my ornaments broke?

(Yes that really happened)

(Okay, fine, and yes, I'm just sharing that story because so many of you agreed that they're just towels....but it happened!)

Ever since that incident, homemade Christmas ornaments are some of my favorite things to get! Luckily PwcGrammy is amazing and frequently when the kiddos hang out with her they come home with presents for me! These ideas are all very simple and would be great for your house, or as presents to send to family and friends!

 Rudolph and Frosty here are super simple.  They're just made from 1.5 inch terra cotta pots that you can buy at Michael's! You'll need ribbon, white paint, brown paint, sharpie markers (black, orange, and pink), ribbon, brown pipe cleaners, goggly eyes, and pompoms.  You can use regular glue and let it set up, or if you have older kids, you can use the hot glue gun while they supervise- but you might still burn yourself....or maybe that's just me.

Paint your pot brown for Rudolph or white for Frosty.  Then, just let your child decorate! We added antlers and a red nose for our reindeer and ear muffs for frosty.  Use ribbon to make a loop to hang your ornament. If you're using regular glue or craft glue, be sure to allow enough time to fully dry before hanging.  Hot glue will basically dry instantly.
 Okay, so this guy is not so cute when you're looking at him like this....but....
HE HAS A LIGHT UP NOSE!! These are just tea lights wrapped with a ribbon scarf and decorated with sharpies.  I found the tiny tiny top hats on Amazon.  They're actually totally cute :) You could draw circles for coal or even regular facial features.  Be sure that when you buy your tea lights they already have the batteries in them.  You can find REALLY cheap packages of them, but then you have to buy and install all the tiny batteries, so just save yourself the hassle and buy them with batteries inside :)



Holiday Ice Show at PW Ice Center!

Looking for a fun Holiday activity? Got a kid who's interested in ice skating? Check out this fun event from PW Ice Center! Be sure to bring a canned food item for ACTS as admission! 


Toddlin Time of Manassas Open House!

Toddlin Time of Manassas is having their open house on Monday, December 8th at 9:30 for 10-24month olds and at 11 for 2-4 year olds! Check out this fantastic place for your little one to enjoy meeting new friends, open space to play, songs, games and more! 

When you join the open house, be sure to bring a friend! You'll both receive a free class when you register! There will also be raffle prizes AND we're giving away a special gift card on our Facebook page, so be sure to visit our Post to enter to win on PWC Moms Facebook.


Zoolights Review

Every year the National Zoo presents Zoolights which is "free" and presented from November 28th-January 1st, excluding December 24th and 25th and January 31st. It runs every night from 5-9pm.

Here's the general gist of what I'm about to say.  The lights are pretty- but plan to have really disappointed kids if yours are animal lovers, and be prepared to wait in some serious lines.
We went on Saturday, December 1st (the Saturday after Thanksgiving).  The smartest thing we did was arriving at 4:30pm.  The parking lots, which are $20/car, were already starting to fill up and the "sledding" was already going.  We purchased the ticket "sheets" so our kids could participate in the zoo tubing, train, and carousel.  The kids went twice down the hill when we first purchased our tickets, and when we came back later, the line was so long they decided they'd rather just go to dinner and we ended up selling our extra tickets to someone else.
We spent two hours getting up to the elephant trail from the entrance nearest the parking lot we were directed to, and after that the kids had enough.  We never made it to the train or to the visitors center, so those could potentially be really cool.
As you're walking, there are displays of lights all over the zoo.  This one "dances" to music, which is cute.  The small mammal house, great ape house, reptile discovery center, think tank, and kids farm are open, which are a nice respite from the cold, but don't expect to see tons of animals.  We explained before we got there that the animals would not be the main focus, but we still had some really disappointed kids.  The turtles are very active at night- so that's cool, but the think tank was empty, the snakes were sleeping, and if you've got an animal lover, this is NOT the time to go to the zoo.  We had 5 kids with us, and 4 of them just wanted to see the animals because we were at the zoo.  They liked the lights, but they like elephants more. 
By the time we got back to the entrance we came in, the crowds had gotten pretty substantial, as I mentioned.  You're going to have better luck if you want to ride things if you get there on the early side.  It wasn't completely ridiculous but I'd guess about a forty minute line for the tubing, and really it wasn't cool enough for that.  I'm glad we went and saw the lights, but I don't see this becoming a family tradition for us.  I know that some of you absolutely adore Zoolights, though, so I look forward to seeing your tips and tricks on Facebook. 

Zoolights at the National Zoo
November 28th-January 1
Pay $20 to park or pay to take Metro, Additional fees for rides/train/tubing
Don't go if your child will get upset at lack of animals, do go if you like walking around to look at lights! Don't forget your hat and gloves. 
Best tip: Arrive early and hit the rides first to avoid longer lines around 7-8pm. 


Game Truck Party Review

Look at my precious little baby.....11 years ago on Thanksgiving Day (which happened to be November 27th) I got this little guy....
And this year on November 27th (also Thanksgiving- he's had 3 Turkey Birthdays so far) he turned 11.  ELEVEN.  I do not understand how that happened.  I mean, I do- so if one of you says "well, every year the world turns" or something, I'm going to give you a Facebook eye roll and we're not friends anymore....but 11...wow.  We have less years left with him than he is old.  It's crazy.
(If you'd like super cute baptism pictures of your kid, my friend Lisa Julia did these and is amazing)

Anyway.  I digress.

So.  Birthday parties change every year for your child.  At first it's just everyone cooing while they look confused and smash frosting everywhere, then it's whatever character obsession they have, maybe one year you turn your townhouse into Hogwarts, whatever. But one year, and this year was it for us, they're getting too "cool" for you to decorate things.

Oh.  Okay.  Let me just go un-Pinterest a few things and have a cry....

And when that happens (or before) you should call Game Truck. Riley (that would be the 11 year old) wanted to do something fun with his friends, but didn't want me to decorate or theme anything.  I was permitted a few balloons in green and blue, but just a few and only by the cake, which was to be an ice cream cake with no weird anything on it.


Anyhow, the Game Truck was amazing, and despite not being allowed to decorate anything, it's my new favorite type of party and here's why:
This is me, hosting 16 boys for a birthday party.  I'm eating some chips and watching "Pretty Woman" with my mom.  It was chilly that night, so we had the fire going.  

I literally sat on my bum and watched a movie y'all.  It was amazing.  And quiet.  Have you ever had one or more boys over to your house and had the feeling it was quiet and peaceful? 

Nope, you haven't.  And if you HAVE had the feeling it was quiet, there was probably something bad happening, but not in this case! In this case they were just in my driveway playing Minecraft and Madden and Mario.
 Here is the Game Truck.  It fit nicely in my driveway, and the people who drive these suckers are totally amazing- I can't back my minivan in without bumping either our basketball hoop or the light- but he whipped this puppy in like it was nothing.
 Inside the truck, there are flat screens attached to every gaming system I've ever heard of.  There was Xbox and Wii and....and some other one, but y'all when it comes to video games I really just don't care, so suffice it to say all the kids were thrilled. (PS3...it was PS3)
 There's a wall with all the available games on it.  When the Game Truck arrived, I went out and pulled down anything I didn't want offered- which in our case was based on rating.  We kept it to E10 and under based on our guest list and the fact that I'm mean. Nobody seemed to mind.
Across from the TVs there are nice cushy sofas.  It doesn't feel like you're in a truck at all, in fact, my son said it was "the best man-cave ever" and insists that when we finish our basement, this is what it should look like.  

All told, this was the easiest party we've ever thrown.  The kids came 30 minutes before the Game Truck was scheduled to arrive and had Jersey Mikes, which I picked up.  Then the truck arrived and they played video games for two hours.  Then we had cake.  Then they went home. My house did not get dirty, I watched a movie, really you guys, it was brilliant.  And, beyond birthday parties, I think this would be an AMAZING way to do New Years Eve, or any other party where you want the adults and the kids to have fun.  You should note, though, that we did lose two dads who went out to play Madden, but we didn't mind because then we got to pick the movie. 

Game Truck Party will do any type of event you want, from birthdays to bachelor parties, and they did a great job for us! I'd definitely recommend them, and every single kid who left our party was hinting to their parents they wanted the same experience for their next birthday.  

Disclosure: Game Truck asked for me to do a review of their services, but all opinions are my own. 


Cree LED Bulb Swap

Are you one of those people?

You know the ones I'm talking about.  Are you those people who leaves every single light on in the house? Or, alternatively, are you one of those people who are constantly running around after everyone in your house trying to get them to shut the lights off? Or, are you one of those people who have to pay the electric bill and it's really getting to you, especially right now with all the exterior lighting you've got going on for Christmas?  If you haven't switched to LED bulbs, which are 85% more energy efficient, you can check them out this weekend, snag a free bulb, and stay a little calmer the next time your house looks like this one, even when everyone is sitting in one room together watching TV. 

The Cree Great American Bulb Swap is coming to Washington DC.  Here are the details:

"Haven't switched to LED bulbs? Now's the perfect time as days are shorter and getting darker earlier. Washingtonians can participate in the Cree Great American Bulb Swap this weekend.  Just bring in any CFL or incandescent bulb and trade it up for a New Cree® LED Bulb for free.  The New Cree LED Bulb is up to 85 percent more energy efficient compared to energy-hogging incandescent bulbs- and it pays for itself in a year or less! 

Forget the frustration and inconvenience of constantly changing burnt out bulbs- Cree LED Bulbs last up to 22 years (that's potentially 5 presidents from now!).  Just imagine all the money you'll save on energy bills and fewer replacement bulbs.  Cree LED Bulbs are also mercury-free and provide superior light quality, unlike those squiggly compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs." 

Join Cree at Eastern Market 225 7th Street SE Washington DC 20003 from 11am-2pm Friday (December 5th) or 9am-5pm Saturday and Sunday (December 6th and 7th) and you'll have a chance to trade in an old bulb for a new one, calculate your energy savings, participate in games with great prizes, and picture opportunity with "Bulby" the costumed character mascot. 

PS- Don't forget to turn off the lights before you leave. 

Disclosure: PwcMoms was compensated for this post. All opinions are our own, all information was provided by the post sponsor. 


Meet Lisa Dillard and Bumble ABC

Lisa Dillard is a local mom and founder of Bumble ABC

Bumble ABC was born out of the idea that it would be great if there were something else in the Woodbridge area for little ones.  I found myself driving further and further out to find things to do with my two year old son.  The idea was originally born out of that,” said Dillard.
Bumble ABC enjoys a partnership with Engineering for Kids, utilizing their space during EFK’s down time.  They use existing classrooms and add more “little kid” options including playmats, tunnels, and tents, and swap the regular Legos out for Duplos.
With the learning center that Engineering for Kids just opened, there was some open calendar space during the day, so we’re using the down time in their space until we can open our own space.
“Each week open play has a theme,” explained Dillard. “We change the dress up clothes, craft, and toys to engage the children.  It’s not necessarily structured, but directed play.”
Bumble ABC holds open plays on Monday and Wednesday from 10am-12pm.  Open play is $10 per child, infants are $5 or free with a paid sibling. Bumble ABC also offers discounts to mommy groups and private groups, with a maximum of 20 kids.  They also offer mobile classes for preschools as well as birthday parties.  Classes are currently available in Science, Music & Movement, Sports and Art (ages 3-6).  They plan to offer Baby & Me Classes and Music & Movement classes (ages 0-3) soon.
For more information about Bumble ABC, visit them on Facebook or their Website
Disclosure: Bumble ABC is an advertiser with PwcMoms, but all opinions are our own. 

Messiah Sing A Long at the Kennedy Center

(This is a recap of the 2013 Messiah Sing Along.  For information on this year's event, please refer to the Kennedy Center website)

Each year, the Kennedy Center in DC hosts a free Messiah sing a long on December 23rd.  I'd never been before, and my friend had mentioned going early on in the month.  Little did I realize the draw that Handel has on people!  According to employees at the Kennedy Center, folks start lining up when the center opens at 10am to get their free tickets for an 8pm show! People play board games, picnic, and hang out all day.  We were a little later, arriving at 4pm.  We parked in the Kennedy Center parking garage, which was around $20, and got in line, which at this point, wrapped 4 times around the Hall of Nations and was wrapped around the outside of the building.
 People brought camping chairs, if they were smart, or just hung out and "chilled" (Ha! It's funny because it was cold outside!) They started handing out tickets around 6pm, and it took us about 40 minutes to get inside and get our tickets.  The staff is really great about keeping the line moving quickly.  Each person in line is able to get 2 tickets, so if you come in a very large group you might not all be in the same row.  After we got our tickets, we headed upstairs to a cafeteria and had dinner.  The options were varied, soups, sandwiches, a salad bar, or hot entrees.  I spent about $15 on my dinner, not horrible for DC :)
Finally, it was time for the 8pm start.  There's a choir, orchestra, four soloists, and the audience, which is part of the choir.  You can bring your own score, or they were selling them inside the Hall of Nations while people got their tickets.  Luckily for me, my friend not only came with serious pipes, but her own copy!  The entire audience, despite some of them having been at the Kennedy Center for over 10 hours at this point, are all in very high spirits and the atmosphere is truly festive.  When it's your "turn" to sing, the director will turn to face the audience and direct you.  It was a lot of fun.  We left after the Hallelujah Chorus, but the whole experience is probably about 2 hours long from start to finish, with some time for introductions, 50 minutes for the first section, a 15 minute intermission, and 50 minutes for the second section.  This was a lot of fun, and I'd definitely do it again!  We saw lots of kids in the audience, but I think if it were me and there were enough adults to make it work, I'd have the adults wait in line and one adult bring the kids a little closer to show time (remember, each person in line can get 2 tickets, so you only need 1/2 of your group in line for tickets at any point in time).


Nordstrom Personal Stylist Experience

A couple of weeks ago I was freaking out about needing new clothes.  I have another job that's one of those great paradoxes where it's a very small job, but when there are events for it, there's a good deal of meeting important people or just general face time with the public, and I have just never been one of those people who can look amazing just by waking up in the morning.

In addition to that, I've been a professional mommy for some time now.  When I worked, I worked in Children's Ministry and my required wardrobe was church clothes and/or jeans so I could get down on the floor and play legos.

One does not play legos on the floor in a white jacket.  One does, however, go to meetings in one. Another Hayat pick (blouse, too)

Suddenly, I had a conference to go to and a few info sessions to help run, and I didn't have anything I deemed suitable to wear.  After having a little Facebook panic, a friend suggested I schedule a shopping trip with a Nordstrom's stylist. It's free, it's easy, and there's not a minimum purchase, although they are paid off commission, so they certainly don't mind if you want to buy it all.

I picked an appointment with Hayat Ali out of Dulles Town Center, who was a lot of fun.  Prior to the appointment I indicated my size, what I do, type of things I was looking for, and she had an entire dressing room ready to go.  What I liked, we kept, what I didn't was whisked away.  When I needed new sizes or an accessory she made it magically appear.  You can book an appointment for a full style overhaul, a special occasion (think Mother of the Bride), a custom appointment, or a quick style session.  Note that if you're a hard fit (think button up shirts, my nemesis) Nordstrom will tailor your clothing free of charge.

(That's Hayat behind me- super nice and easy to work with!)

The good news is, this was totally awesome.  The bad news was that at the end, I picked out $4,000 of things that I wanted.  I didn't get them all, but I did pick up 2 jackets, 2 blouses, and a pair of amazing dark wash jeans to pair with items I already had.  I spent more money on myself than I have ever spent, but I felt amazing in everything and picked items that worked well with lots of things, although if anyone wants to get me a present, I have some suggestions.

Hayat was great about identifying what I like and what worked well on me.  She knew colors and cuts to maximize my good parts and minimize my flaws.  I was really happy with everything, and it helped me to feel really confident this weekend.  It's weird to be the oldest young person in a room- still "young" but with older kids, and with a really strange resume.  I could have total self-confidence on my own, but I don't, so this was a great boost for me.

This is me in one of my outfits- I've just finished around 18 hours of training and an exam- but everyone kept telling me how fantastic this blue blazer was- great job Hayat! (The lady on the left was President Reagan's personal assistant after he left office, incidentally an awesome woman!)

The other great part is that once you've worked with a stylist, they know what you like and if something fantastic comes in that they know you like, or if that jacket you wanted but was out of your budget goes on sale, they'll let you know. I would totally recommend doing this for a big event, or if you're heading back to work, or if you just like to shop and would like some help identifying new trends for your wardrobe!

So.  That's my overview of working with a Nordstrom stylist.  It was awesome.  If you go, you should pick Hayat.  You should also go with a budget in mind, and be okay with the fact that you can't get everything you want, and will have to make hard choices.  They're really really good at making you look your best, so you'll want it all.  I felt really happy with myself when I was done, and that was worth both the time and the money I spent.

PS- since I've now shown you my blazers, be sure to look surprised if you show up somewhere and I'm wearing one of them, mmkay? Thanks.
Nordstroms didn't solicit this review or pay me.  In fact, I paid them.  All opinions are my own.  I am not responsible if you look so foxy your husband takes you out or if you look so professional you get a promotion- but you could definitely thank your stylist.