Cheers Art Studio Summer Camp

 This past week, my youngest (7) was able to go to art camp at Cheers Art Studio.  Their camps are 1/2 day mornings (9am-12pm).  You pack your child a snack, but everything else is provided in terms of art supplies.  Ages 6-12 will enjoy these camps, with everyone able to have fun at their own artistic level.  Camp is $125/week and there are still 3 weeks available for your creative fun (well, your child's creative fun, and your 3 hours of "me time").
This is the class with their final projects :) 

Savannah's week was "Drawing People and Animals" which included:
Monday- Trace ourselves full figure/ Full Skeleton (pencil and crayons)/ Shapes and Shading
Tuesday- Skull/ Shading techniques to create texture (pencil and charcoal)
Wednesday- Portraits- finishing half the page (charcoal)/ How to Draw Animals from shapes (pencil)
Thursday- Self-portraits/ How to Draw Animals (charcoal)
Friday- Animals- paint your pet or endangered animal (paint)

And finally, since you guys enjoyed our video Newsies Review, here's what Savannah thought of art camp at Cheers:
I don't know why I keep shooting these sitting in my bed.  I have so many pretty places in my house...next time I will try to be a little more creative :) 

Disclosure: Thanks to Cheers for having Savannah out for a week of camp!! We were gifted a week of camp in order to do our review, but all opinions are honest and our own.  Have you ever tried to script a 7 year old? Can't be done, even if I wanted to. 


Giveaway: Lil Chic

Leslie from Lil Chic came out to our Miller and Smith open house, and it was so nice to meet her!! I actually got a little misty when she showed me some of the collection because it reminded me of my middle guy's nursery (it was twinkle twinkle little star themed).  I informed my husband that we need to have another baby so I can have matching car seat, stroller, and diaper bag covers.  He informed me that was not gonna happen.


So, word to my sister in law, when you and my brother have kids, this is what you're getting from me, because it's adorable.  I'll let you pick the pattern, but that's about it ;) 

Leslie took the time to answer a few questions about her company for me- it's always better to discuss business over wine! Yay! 

PwcMom: Tell me what inspired your company?
LC: My co-owner is from Spain and a mother of two.  After her first child was born, she went to Spain and brought back footmuffs and stroller bags. She then found that, whenever she was out, she received a lot of positive attention from other parents of young children. 
It then became obvious to us, and those around us, that the quality of these products really stood out compared to other baby brands. And, because you could only find these products in stores abroad, we were inspired to bring them over here to the US!

PwcMom: What's your favorite product you carry?
LC: My personal favorite is the Stroller Footmuff from Lil Chic’s Bryn Collection.  I love the collection’s delicate floral pattern and removable lace accent.

PwcMom: What do your customers say about your products?
LC: The most consistent comments we receive are about the attractiveness and versatility of our products.  Our customers like the style as well as the option of buying coordinating items from each of our collections. Customers also like buying a canopy or footmuff and having peace of mind that what they have purchased will fit on their respective model of stroller or car seat. 

PwcMom: What do you like about owning your own business?
LC: I love the products and am excited for the opportunity to be the first to offer them in the US.  I also have enjoyed the challenge of starting a new business! 

You can find Lil Chic on Facebook and they're also on Twitter  and Instagram at lilchicbaby.  And if you've got a baby on the way or a shower coming up (and you want to WIN the baby shower) you should definitely check them out!! 

For the giveaway, Lil Chic is offering one lucky reader a Sydney Collection Travel Bag in grey- gender neutral and awesome! (PS- that's a $100 diaper bag!!) I especially love that the fabric is laminated (I'm sure that's not the correct term, but that's what I'm going with!) so that you can wipe off any baby-related mess. You know what I'm talking about. 

Enter Using Rafflecopter!! 

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Giveaway provided by Lil Chic Baby, by entering you agree to be bound by any and all giveaway rules. 


Miller and Smith's Victory Lakes in Bristow

Our family bought our house just over a year ago, so I remember the process well.  You step into a house and take a deep breath- whoo- not this one, a smoker lived here, let's try again.

Alright, you step into the house and take a deep breath- Yankee Candle- we're good.  You look to the left and look to the right, and you try to imagine your kids running down the stairs in the morning.  You try to envision how many of your friends can gather around in the kitchen while you're entertaining.  You look in the backyard and decide if it's the perfect mix of room and "I don't really like to mow the lawn."  In short, you try to see yourself inside the house- to decide if this could be your home.

That was what was so neat about our June reader meetup.  Miller and Smith didn't just let us guess what it'd be like to live in Victory Lakes (in Bristow, VA) they actually let us test drive one of their model homes.

Photo Courtesy of Stacy Shaw, www.BristowBeat.com

So, armed with curiosity and about a dozen readers, we checked it out! Miller and Smith welcomed us into their beautiful model home, in the Meridian Collection, and even let us peek into the home next door, as well. I happen to love model homes, they always give me such great ideas for my own- but this time I actually got to "own" the model for a night!
Photo Courtesy of Stacy Shaw, www.BristowBeat.com

And of course, like in every home, people gathered in the gorgeous kitchen....and we stayed there for a long time, chatting and having a fantastic time.  The homes we "test drove" in Victory Lakes are townhomes, but they don't feel like it.  Open and spacious and inviting with all the great upgrades available that you'd want in a single family- quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and of course lots of light. 

I could see myself here.

Then we got curious, and decided to explore (photos courtesy Miller and Smith):

I can't say I've ever hung out with quite so many people in a Master Bedroom before- but we had fun :) It was especially nice to have Elizabeth Falcon there- she's a Realtor, but she's also a Victory Lakes resident, and she was able to share with us about the amazing community (who weren't all invited to my soiree, sadly).  

My favorite things I learned from here were:
1) There actually ARE lakes, it's not just the name- and you can fish in them!
2) There's an activities coordinator for the community who puts together all kinds of fun events from BBQs to movie nights to Zumba classes, so you actually get to do fun things with your neighbors which...
3) Gives Victory Lakes that great community feel that we all want, without actually having to put the work in yourself- they've designed it right in to their gorgeous homes!

Eric was our Miller and Smith homes expert, and he shared that for those of you looking for a new home in Bristow, they're in their final sections and they're doing a FREE DREAM KITCHEN upgrade when you purchase in Victory Lakes! That means the kitchen I hosted my meetup in could be your actual kitchen! 

Victory Lakes Townhomes are gorgeous, spacious, and I know this PwcMom would be proud to live in one, if I was looking! If you're in the market for a new home in PWC, or you're just looking to upgrade your lifestyle, be sure to check out Victory Lake in Bristow, VA. 
Photo Courtesy of Stacy Shaw, www.BristowBeat.com
For more information visit Miller & Smith's website at www.millerandsmith.com and look for the Meridian collection, or call Hansen at 571-379-4349.


Guest Post: Top Tips to Meet Disney Characters

Top Tips to Meet Disney Characters

TwoCharacters_720x340I have had a few people ask “What’s the best way to see and gather autographs from #Disney characters? After reviewing a recent list of characters I determined I have met 55 over the years. Character meet and greets are located throughout all the Disney parks. But standing in these lines can cut into your touring time. So here are a few tips on how to see get the most out of your character meet and greets:

1. Book Character Meals. During these meals Disney characters and princesses will walk around and greet each table. Guests may take pictures and ask for autographs all while enjoying a relaxing meal. My favorite meal is Goofy’s Kitchen at Disneyland. Here you not only see the Fab 5 but the princesses too.

2. Take a Disney Cruise. Each day on the ship Disney characters take time to greet guests. The lines are so much shorter than in the parks.

3. Attend a special party. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are great events to see Snow White will all 7 dwarves or the Princes with each Princess. May hard to find characters only come out to play on party nights.

4. Arrive at Rope Drop. Now with Fastpass+ you can schedule that ride on Space Mountain and use the early morning hours for meet and greets. Many characters are located outside the Railway station on Main Street USA in the morning. Disney has added a few meet and greets to the Fastpass+ selections.

Patricia Mickus is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner with Magical Memories Travel.  Patricia lives in Bristow, Virginia with her husband and two sons.  She believes you can have a Disney vacation of a lifetime and maximize your vacation dollar. All of her concierge planning services are FREE to her clients.   Contact Patricia at patricia@magicalmemoriestravel.com or visit her Facebook page or blog - www.MagicalMickeyTips.com for more Disney planning tips.


Classic Portraits

My momma is a college student (so proud of her!) and is almost done with her degree, so she's amping up her job search, and my dad is on the market, too, so they both needed to update their resumes.

With social media being such a key part of the job search these days, places like LinkedIn want you to have a headshot, and neither of them had a current one.  I was really excited to be able to be somewhat helpful by setting up a gift session with Deanne from Classic portraits.  She did my head shots after I was sick (when I was informed that my headshot no longer looked like me....speaking of which, these no longer look like me- but I did enjoy rocking the short hair!)
And I think she did an amazing job on my parents, too!

Here's my gorgeous mama who will finish her degree in Business Management:

And here's my dad, an IT manager, who we refer to as "Coach Papa" around here:
Deanne is really wonderful to work with.  She's kind and has a great eye for detail, doing things like coming over to fix a stray hair or tilting your head just-so.  When she did my head shots, she stood on a ladder so I wouldn't have more than one chin....not that that's a problem I have....

You can find more info about headshots, maternity, engagements, senior pictures, family portraits, or any other type of pictures with Deanne on her website  (note- it plays music, so if you're at work don't crank the speakers!) or visit her on her Facebook page! 
I love working with Deanne and have never had anyone give me anything but the highest praise when I've recommended they work with her!! If you attend the Real Housewives of Northern Virginia events, you've seen her there, too- she works every one of them! 

Thanks for another great session, Classic Portraits!
Disclosure: I paid for my parents pictures, and it was worth every penny :) I just really love Deanne. 


4th of July Fireworks 2015

I wasn't going to post one of these because so many other local bloggers did big pan-DMV ones, but so many of you have asked, so here goes:

Waiting on a Date:
Tim's Rivershore's "Not on the 4th" Fireworks show had to be rescheduled due to weather, so watch their facebook page for a new date and time!

Sure Bets: 
**The City of Manassas Park will host their 4th of July Celebration from 7-10pm at Signal Hill Park.  There will be food trucks, fun, and, of course, fireworks.

**The City of Manassas will host its "Celebrate America" event with one of the largest fireworks displays in NOVA! You're looking to be around the Train Depot/Harris Pavilion, or check out the large field by Grace UMC if you want to stay out of the crowd but still see the show! Rides for kids start at 3, food vendors at 4, fireworks at 9:15 on the Museum lawn. They also host several contests which you can sign up for online

**In Woodbridge, the Potomac Nationals will host their annual 4th of July Game followed by fireworks.  We love attending the game, and enjoy the Americana of it all :) If you want to just watch the fireworks, you can park and sit outside the stadium or try to park in the County Crossing Center- but I heard that last year police were clearing the area (I'm not sure if that's correct, it's just what I was getting messaged- we went to the game).  Start time on the fireworks is 15 minutes after the game ends, which depends on how the game went.

**I know a lot of you have told me in the past you enjoy going out to Great Meadow for the fireworks display.  It's $35 a car at Wegmans in advance or $40 a car at the gate, so make sure you take your friends' minivan and not your Geo Metro! Kids events start at 4pm and this year they are closing a road to allow traffic to exit for a smoother finish to your night.

You can attempt, but I don't know much about: 
In Dumfries, Montclair does fireworks at Dolphin Beach, but you have to be an MPOA member, so if you live close enough that you can happen to see, you're in luck, but otherwise that's all I know.

Quantico does fireworks, if you have a friend on base or a military ID.  I would assume you can go to Quantico Town and watch, too, but I have never tried that, so if anyone knows the routine, let me know :) Here's the flyer for the 4th of July Fireworks, which, if I am doing my math correctly are at 9:15pm, but again, the actual event is ONLY for Marine families- although I know people do watch the fireworks in Quantico.

Did I miss your favorite? Do you have details on one of the ones I only know about in passing? Head over to our facebook and let me know!

Summer Camp at The Little Gym

I love that my kids are old enough now that they get invited to come out and do reviews.  Less work for me.  Especially when the invitation is to come to camp at The Little Gym of Gainesville!

My 7 year old was invited to come out for a day of TLG's super flexible camp and bring a friend so she'd feel comfortable.  What's great about these camps is they don't require a week-long commitment, although you certainly CAN go all week.  They're also half-day, so for those of you who need to keep the budget in mind, it's great that you can throw in something fun without spending a few hundred dollars.  Camp prices vary slightly based on if you're a Little Gym member or not, but our 1/2 day camp would have been $50 as a non-member.  The best part is that since The Little Gym of Gainesville is located on Atlas Walk Way in Virginia Gateway, there's tons to keep mom busy if you don't want to go home and take a nap be productive. I got some lunch (Potbelly Veggie Sandwich and Veggie Soup!), checked out Kirklands and Pier One, and even popped into Target! But enough about me, let's talk more about camp!

So, my very savvy 7 year old, Savvy, brought her friend from preschool who lives in Bristow.
 There was a good sized class of kids, and I think they did run the full range of ages that TLG accepts for camp- 3 years through 8 years.  It was a nice mix of kids, and the teachers were highly competent at keeping everyone engaged.  Now these girls are old pros at being dropped off at things, so they ran right on in and started having fun while I finished the paperwork.  Note that even though it's a one day camp, because of licensing you'll need a shot record and a birth certificate or passport- so plan on getting copies if you don't have them already!!
 Each week has a theme, and there's an adventure the kids are going on.  The kids alternate between a structured group activity and free play, taking a break in the middle to get a snack and make a craft or two that go with the theme of the week.  If your child goes all week, the activities will change but the weekly theme stays the same- so they won't get bored at all.
 My daughter was obsessed with the balance beam.  I was obsessed with the music they were playing in the background- I haven't heard the Macarena in a minute!

I stayed and watched class for about 45 minutes so I could take pictures and observe how the staff interacted with the kids (I could've been at the Starbucks across the street! The sacrifices I make for you people!) which was all great.  I left for about an hour and popped back in to take a few more pictures.  This is in the craft room- Savannah and her friend started hiding under the table and laughing at me trying to take pictures, so this is the best one I got.  They were definitely having fun! 
After crafts I popped back out again to do some shopping, and when I came back they were playing with the parachute, climbing the "mountain" and finding the prize at the end of their quest.  When the girls came out, Savannah's friend threw her arms around me, gave me a big hug, and said "Thank you so much for bringing us here!!"
Coldstone was right next door, and I needed to ask the girls some hard-hitting questions, so I figured I'd pry them with some ice cream. ;)

Me: So girls, did you like camp?
Girls: YES!!!

Me: Did you have a favorite part?
S: I liked playing on all the gymnastics stuff.
K: I liked when we made a craft.

Me: Did you have a least favorite part?
S: There was a boy.  He cut in line.
K: Yeah, that boy lifted his shirt up.  No boys!
Me: You guys have 4 brother between you!
Girls: That's why no boys!

Me: Silly girls.  So, would you go to this camp again?
S: Yes- I liked it there.
K: Uh huh.  And I like this ice cream.

Me: K, do you think your school friends would like this camp, too?
K: Yes.
S: I don't have school friends because I'm homeschooled.  But my brothers are too old to come, so I win!!

From there the conversation kind of fell apart into observations on the fact that they both got pink ice cream (but different colors of pink) and they both got gummy bears mixed in.  While thrilling, I'll spare you the details ;)

If you'd like to take a little break, The Little Gym camp is perfect for you! Whether you go with Super Kids Quest Camp for ages 3-8 or Grade School Thrill Camp for ages 6-12, TLG Camp is a fun day out for your kid, and a fun bit of quiet time for you!

For more information on camp at The Little Gym, visit their website or call 703-753-9101. Camps run through August.
Disclosure: I was given admission to the Little Gym's camp for my daughter and her friend.  All opinions expressed here are my own.  Your experience may be more awesome than mine, and if it is, I am not responsible for the overdose of fun :)