Giveaway: Ringling Brothers Presents "Legends"

Behold the living legends! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® brings the unbelievable to Children Of All Ages in an all-new show - - Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS. Experience unimaginable family fun, as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and mysterious creatures of the past: a Unicorn, a Pegasus and a Woolly Mammoth! Join us for an unforgettable family night of legendary proportions! Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS!
Purchase your tickets at the Patriot Center Box Office, or through Ticketmaster starting as low as $26!! Ringling recently announced they will be retiring their elephants in 2017, so this is one of your last chances to see them, if that's something you'd like to do. Don't forget that included with your ticket is access to the free-with-ticket preshow that starts 1 hour before showtime right on the circus floor! 

The Patriot Center April 8 – April 19, 2015
Show times:
· Wednesday, April 8 @ 7:00 pm
· Thursday, April 9 @ 7:00 pm
· Friday, April 10 @ 7:30 pm
· Saturday, April 11 @ 11:30 am, 3:30 pm, 7:30 pm
· Sunday, April 12 @ 1:00 pm, 5:00 pm
· Thursday, April 16 @ 7:00 pm
· Friday, April 17 @ 10:30 am, 7:30 pm
· Saturday, April 18 @ 11:30 am, 3:30 pm, 7:30 pm
· Sunday, April 19 @ 1:00 pm, 5:00 pm
Or you can always win a set of tickets here! Enter below to win a family 4 pack of tickets to the WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8th SHOWTIME! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events.  Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.   
All giveaways are governed by our giveaway rules, which you agree to by entering. 


Florida Trip Part II: Disney

I started off thinking I'd write this in short order, but since I suck at life, I didn't.  Here's part one, for those of you who have forgotten (which I'd assume is everyone at this point!).

We went on a trip in January to Florida.  We loved our hotel and we had a fantastic time.  For the first three days, we went to Disney.

That's really about all I have to say about it.

But I'm a blogger, so let me try to pull it out.  We decided that since we were going to Florida, we should just "do the thing" and check it off our list.  We know people who are DISNEY PEOPLE and go to Disney every flipping chance they get.

We are officially not those people, but we did have a good time.

It was really cold the first day, we almost froze on the old-timey boat that took us across to Magic Kingdom.  We went during the off-season, so we were able to book our day-of fastpass times at the kiosks in the park, although if you're going, I highly recommend you plan a little more in advance (use a free Disney travel agent like Patricia who can not only help you map out your plan of attack, but can schedule your fast passes, dining, and all that jazz for you).  I don't feel like my kids are really all that attached to any particular Disney characters, which would be the big draw for going to Disney.  That said, here are some things that I can recommend.

1. Take Help
We brought grandma with us, which is especially helpful in our case because my neck can only tolerate so much jerky amusement park riding.  Having one person per kid was great because we could divide and conquer, and because there's always enough adults that someone can be happy after hearing "It's a Small World" 50 times.

 2. Get the freebies!
There aren't many- but we got a few free fast-passes with our tickets, and it was worth it to use them on some of the higher wait time rides.  There are kiosks throughout the park, or you can book online in advance.  If you're there for the first time or a birthday or a family event, let them know when you first enter the park- they'll give you free buttons (notice our giant yellow "First Time" buttons).  People who work at the park are super friendly and will actually make a point to talk to your birthday/anniversary/bride/first-timer.
3. Enjoy the Random
The most fun my youngest two had was our first night when there was a random dance party with the incredibles.  The DJ was really good about making sure nothing objectionable was played, the characters were out, we burned a ton of energy, and we had a great time.  I'm lucky because my daughter is not a princess fan, so we were not among the crazy people waiting 4+ hours to see Anna and Elsa.  If you have a princess fan, I'd go ahead and spend the money to do a character meal- it'd be worth the cost to not have to wait in the lines.  
 4.  Take lots of cheesy pictures.
You spent the money. Your kids will deal. Is that the Disney castle? A character your child has never heard of? It doesn't matter, take the picture.
This was my favorite part.  The Christmas lights were still up on the castle, and the light show was amazing.  The fireworks were amazing.  Tinkerbell going down a bijillion yard zip line was amazing. This was the only thing that really took my breath away, and I would have done it every night.
6.  Pack Lunch
You're able to bring in lunch/snacks, and we saved a ton of money doing that.  We hit the grocery store when we got in, and we packed uncrustables, applesauce, etc.  
7.  My boys liked Epcot
There were coaster simulators, a race car ride where you designed how your car worked to maximize how it would go on the track, they enjoyed all of that.  It was a little bit of a pain in the booty because were were there on the morning that the marathoners were running through, but I have to give it to the Disney staff- they coordinated walking through the race course in amazing ways- diverting the runners, moving people, and then reopening the course so that no one had to stop. It was pretty incredible. We ate dinner at the giant temple in Mexico.  It was not great and insanely expensive.

Soooo....that's my recap of Disney.  There were definitely some fun rides that each kid liked, but it didn't hold a candle (for us) to Universal (which will be next in this drawn-out series!).  Our kids had a fun time, and we had some great memories.  We enjoyed each of the parks, and I'm glad we didn't wait until they were any older. I don't think we'll become Disney addicts, but it was definitely a fun trip! I think the park hopper was worth it to get to try each park, we actually didn't get to all of them, but we enjoyed different aspects of each of the ones we visited.


Hayfield Comic Con

Hayfield Comic Con is coming!
Hayfield Comic Con, Hayfield Secondary School’s first ever comic convention and fundraiser, is coming this April 11th from 10 AM- 4 PM. Hayfield Comic Con, which will support and be supported by the combined after school program “Club Orange”, will provide a learning experience for student artists, as well as activities for everyone to enjoy.
Building off of the years of convention experience from the show organizers, Hayfield Comic Con will provide attendees with an authentic convention feel that has something for everyone, be they new to conventions or old fans. Attendees will be able to participate in a Cosplay Contest, meet with student and professional artists, attend panels about a variety of topics, and take pictures in the “Cosplayground”. And, best yet, admission is FREE!
The con will also introduce an event called the “Epic Loot Table”. This table, run by Hayfield high schoolers, will be the heartbeat of the con. This table will run the “Club Orange Raffle”, giving people the opportunity to buy raffle tickets to win a variety of sci- fi, fantasy, gaming and comic prizes. This table will also be where people can participate in the “CONquest”, a convention hall scavenger hunt to win even more raffle tickets. All proceeds from the raffle will go towards funding “Club Orange” for the rest of the school year.
Held inside Hayfield Secondary School’s two cafeterias, with student volunteers, as well as free tables for Hayfield Students, it promises to be a convention like no other. It is the hope of Hayfield Club Orange to bring a love of art, comics, and video games to the Northern Virginia area, as well as provide a place for people to have fun being themselves amongst other fans.
For more details, directions and the latest news you can find Hayfield Comic Con online on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hayfieldcomiccon
Limited space for vendors, guests and artists to exhibit is still available. For any questions, to reserve your space or for press inquiries please contact Scott Markley at scottmarkley@msn.com 


Kids Reader Meetup- St. Patrick's Day Jump

So this month, our Kid-Friendly Reader Meetup will be a super fun bounce day at Pump it Up of Manassas!

This meetup is for ELEMENTARY AGED CHILDREN (K-5th).  I will not be taking younger siblings as a safety issue (have you seen my 11 year old? He's a giant.  You don't want him knocking into your 2 year old).

Our host will be Pump it Up of Manassas, and we'll be having a blast from 5:30-7pm.  The fun is totally on us if you snag a spot, but if you'd like to save yourself the trouble of dinner, you can get 2 slices of pizza and a drink for $2.95.

To win your space, please be sure to use the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Spring Break Camp Options 2015

Here are some awesome Spring Break Camp Options!! I think it's about -17 with the wind chill today, so why not think some warmer thoughts and get a jump on the break week rush!

Dates: March 30 - April 3
Times: 8:30 - 11:30 (Morning) Noon - 3:00pm (Afternoon) 8:30 - 3:00pm (Full Day)
Location: Engineering For Kids STEM Discovery Center
12436 Dillingham Square
Woodbridge, VA 22192
Price: $165/half day $300/full day
Ages: 7 - 14

Wreck-It Week (Morning, Classroom 1)
Smash!  Crash!  BOOM!  Students in this camp will join Wrecking Companies for the week and will attempt to work their way up the ranks of their company from Intern to President.  They will compete against other wrecking companies in various engineering-related challenges, such as building a bridge from balsawood and constructing safety mechanisms to protect a raw egg from impact.  Put on your hard hats and safety goggles and join the fun!

Minecraft: Traveling into the Future (Morning, Classroom 2)
Join us in an apocalyptic future, one where the earth has been ravaged by a series of natural disasters. Each day, students rely on the engineering design process to solve a series of challenges such as 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!  Through application of engineering principles, students solve numerous challenges as they make their virtual world of Minecraft a safe place for humanity once again.  

The Engineering of Cities (Afternoon, Classroom 1)
Do you have what it takes to engineer a city from the ground up? Students will work together as a construction crew to design and build magnificent cities from nothing but a little engineering and their own imagination. Crews design essential urban structures and solve real-world challenges, such as developing a process to purify water and generate electricity. Sign up to help your crew build the best city in town!

Minecraft: Traveling into the Future (Afternoon, Classroom 2)

Join us in an apocalyptic future, one where the earth has been ravaged by a series of natural disasters. Each day, students rely on the engineering design process to solve a series of challenges such as 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!  Through application of engineering principles, students solve numerous challenges as they make their virtual world of Minecraft a safe place for humanity once again.


Spring Break Ninja Camp at Premier Martial Arts in Woodbridge, VA! March 30th-April 3rd 2015 Drop off time between 7am-8am & Pick up time at 4pm. Space is very limited and it's first come, first served. The cost for this camp is $125/child and be paid directly to Sensei Luis Acosta no later than March 24, 2015. Please call 703-625-8378 for more information and to reserve your child's place in our Ninja martial arts training camp! This camp is for kids ages 7 & up! See you there !

Animated Child
Extended Morning Hours:
6:30-7:30a.m. | Bean Bag Layback Activities
7:30-8:00a.m. | Breakfast
Regular Camp Hours:
8:00-9:30a.m. | Kodu Gaming Design
9:30-10:30a.m. | Team Sport
10:30-10:45a.m. | Snack
10:45-11:45a.m. | Kodu Game Design
11:45a.m.-12:00p.m. | Upload Game
12:00-1:00p.m. | Lunch/Literacy Hour
1:00-5:00p.m. | Minecraft Learning Lab
3:00-5:00p.m. | Field Trip Full Day Campers

Extended Evening Hours:
5:00-5:30p.m. | Minecraft Learning Lab
5:30-6:30p.m. | CAD Engineering Game

Daytime Playtime
We are offering Spring Break Camp the week of Monday, March 30th- Friday, April 3rd, during this time the children will be introduced to some of the fun themes we have planned for our 2015 Summer Camp. What a wonderful way to get ready for SUMMER!  
“GONE CAMPING!”  On this day we will make s’mores, build a camp fire, use fishing poles, build tents, and so much more that the great outdoors bring us!!
“CONCOCTIONS GALORE!” On this day we will do experiments, discovery and creativity is what this day is all about.  Children will learn about the amazing world of science!!
“ENCHANTED FOREST!” On this day we will venture together into an enchanted forest where unicorns still exist and the tree fairies fly.  We’ll be on the look-out for trolls and giant ogres as we follow the path that leads us back home!! 
“OUTER SPACE!” On this day we will explore the wonders of space! Experiments and imagination will play a key role in this exciting day.  So let’s get into our rockets and BLAST OFF!!
“PIRATES & VILLAINS” Ahoy there mateys. On this day we will set sail on the open sea in search of the “buried” treasure hidden.  We’ll get your eye patch ready and your bandannas pulled tight as we follow the map that leads to the gold!! 
Our Spring Break Camp pricing is the same as our 2015 Summer Camp with the same flexible schedule:

$45 drop in fee- $125 3days- $185 5days- $250 Full 5days

Showcase Dance Studio


Interview: Abacus Tax and Accounting Services

I always love meeting moms who are also running businesses.  They remind me of somebody.  I just can’t put my finger on who….
Today I want to introduce you to Lauren Gross of Abacus Tax Services, momma to three, business owner, and really cool lady! I was able to chat with her about her life and business, and I’m excited to share with you here.

PWCM: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you ended up doing what you’re doing.
LG: I live in Manassas right next to the Kline’s freeze, I moved here about 9 years ago.  I was in college at the time (American University) and when I was a senior I got recruited for a tax firm in Alexandra, which turned into a full time position.  I worked there for 8 years until it sold.  I wanted to cut my commute anyway and was happy to open my own firm.

PWCM: So what all do you do?
LG: Tax preparation services, mostly individuals and families and small businesses or Mom Based Businesses like Avon, Tastefully Simple, are my specialty, and I also do Nanny payroll.

PWCM: Nanny Payroll- that’s a new one for me- what does that look like?
LG: Right- if you have someone that comes into your house and watches your children and you pay them more than $1900 a year, you are required to give them a W2 because they are a “household employee” in the eyes of the IRS.  It’s especially important for government employees and contractors so that you stay “squeaky-clean”.  I take care of all the compliance for you- issue the W2 and fulfill the state requirements for VA, DC, or MD. 

PWCM: Wow- I had no idea.  When should someone contact you about that?
LG: Generally I tell my clients that they should get in touch before they hire a nanny so they understand the tax liabilities as an employer so you aren’t spending more money in fees/taxes/liability before you realize what you’ve done. Then once a quarter I help you do tax forms to stay current.

PWCM: Speaking of nannies, tell me a little about your family.
LG: I have 3 kids all May babies, 5, 2, and 9 months.  I’m able to work out of my home office, and I’m happy to work odd hours after work, which is great for my clients who need hours that aren’t taking away from their work day.

PWCM: It sounds like being an accountant is a great fit.
LG: What I do is a great fit because I can take off time between tax seasons to be with my kids and then work from January-April.  It is one of the main reasons I really stuck with this career path because it allows me to balance my work and family life.

PWCM: So, working from your home you must have a really different feel from say, the large green box people.
LG: Absolutely. Even though I work from my home office, you’re always welcome here.  I know handing over all your personal financial information can be stressful, so if they want to come and meet me and meet my family, that’s fine.  It’s a very different experience than going to H&R Block, mostly because my son will be running around the house pretending to be Buzz Lightyear. I just had a client come over with her toddler this past weekend to go over all of her paperwork. She joked it was a "two birds with one stone" appointment... tax prep and a play date. However, I can also make it really easy- you can submit everything digitally and I can save you a ton of time which I know is very valuable to moms out there. The most important benefit that comes from working with me, compared to a retail establishment, is that I am here for my clients yearlong rather than a seasonal employee that may change year to year. I am available to help and answer questions when my clients buy a house, start a business, grow their families, and other things that life throws their way. And, if you have ever received a letter from the IRS you may know the knot in your stomach feeling that turns up when you see the return address on the envelope. Even I get it! But, most of the time it is undue stress. I can handle any correspondence that you may receive from the auditors. 

PWCM: When’s the deadline for people to file with you?
LG: April 1st would be my deadline for on-time filing, but I can take people for extensions anytime.

PWCM: And what does that cost?
LG: As far as pricing goes, a basic return is $300, which includes the 1040, Schedules A and B and one state return. Each additional form (for example: Schedule C for self employment income, Schedule D for stock sales, Form 8283 for non-cash charitable contributions) is billed at an hourly rate, so the cost is dependent on the complexity of the form and how clear and organized your data is. The most accurate way to provide you with a quote would be to send me a copy of your 2013 returns. If you situation is similar this year, I can give you a good idea of what my bill will be.

PWCM: Finally, as a working mom, do you have any advice for other moms about how you do it all?

LG:  In my opinion, being a working mom is hard but, being a stay at home mom is harder.  I would say that whatever you do, you have to do what’s best for your family.  I think that allowing myself to take a break from being a full time mom and getting back to the workforce a couple times a year is really good to connect with who I am as a person and a woman versus who I am as a mom.  Every situation is different and try to make the most out the the time with your family, even if it is short. 
For more information about working with Lauren and Abacus Tax and Accounting Services this tax season, or throughout the year, visit her website or shoot her an email, lauren@abacustaxes.com.   

Disclosure: Abacus is a PwcMoms advertiser.