Dream it, Plan it, Do it, Own it at Camp SheEO

Is your daughter a boss? Has she organized her Barbies into a corporate hierarchy? Does she win cookie sales every year? Do her lemonade stands rival someone on Shark Tank? If so, you should definitely check out Camp SheEO!
With four camps in Prince William County (Manassas and Woodbridge NOVA Campuses) and additional locations all over the region, Camp SheEO exists to empower the CEO inside every girl and to encourage girls to take steps toward business and community leadership.
Each week of camp, trained Success Coaches will help girls at Camp SheEO enrich their ideas about what it means to be a business owner and leader.  They will also host a guest speaker from the local business community.  There are two levels of the camp, First Steps and Next Steps, both of which run for one week from 9am-4pm and are $290. 

Both First Steps and Next Steps are intimate enrichment experiences, which means that space is LIMITED.  If you know that this would be a perfect opportunity for your daughter to explore her passion and interests, then sign up today! Owner DeShawn Robinson-Chew explains the program like this- “We really want to introduce and encourage entrepreneurship in girls and show how they can have a leadership role in their community.  We are hyper-focused on business, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.  This is the only program doing this” 

Camp Dates in Prince William County Are:
Week of 7/18/16 First Steps
Woodbridge NOVA CC

Week of 7/25/16 Next Steps
Woodbridge NOVA CC

Week of 7/11 First Steps
Northern VA CC Manassas

Week of 7/25 Next Steps
Northern VA CC Manassas

Find out more information about Be a SheEO or register for one of their amazing camps today by visiting them at:


Summer Camp at Animated Child

BONUS! Use code PWCMOMS for a $60 off each full day summer camp!


Summer Reading 2016

Prince William Libraries has revamped Summer Reading again.  You may remember last year's program included various options for points that you logged online, but that system is totally gone, and this year there's a passport program.

The 2016 Summer Reading theme is "Stay Local, Read Global" and includes programs for children through adults.  There is a paper reading log available per parent requests to have something to turn into the schools, but it is not a program requirement. Starting June 1 you'll be able to sign up online for the program.

Younger children will receive a paper passport, but you will still need to register them online. You will have to pick up the passport in the library you register with.  Every week, parents will be able to set a goal for their children, and then once a week the child can come in and tell the volunteers at the library how they met their goal and get a stamp.  Any child who collects five stamps on their passport will be able to choose a book to take home to keep.  There are no weekly coupons for everyone, but there will be chances to complete weekly challenges to possibly win a coupon or prize.  You might want to ask your child's teacher for input on realistic goals for how to divide up summer reading for your child.
Older children will also be able to come in for weekly check-in entries.  At the end of the summer, those entries will win a special prize valued at $100 or more.  There will be two prizes per branch awarded. Students can receive extra entries by writing book reviews for use on the library website and Good Reads.
Adults can enter to win a $15 Target gift card per branch per week.

Review: Sunya- The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying and Dividing

We've been playing a new math game from Sunya Publishing called Sunya - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing.

Sunya also comes in an addition and subtraction set, if you have children who are a little younger.  The game comes with two sets of cards, an instructional book, and a number line, which would probably be helpful in the addition/subtraction game, but my children found tedious to even attempt to use in multiplication.
One deck of cards is comprised of some fun math tricks and questions/riddles.  This deck also has the math symbols in it that you will need to set up the game.  The other deck is number cards, which you will use to make your math sentences.
 One trick we learned quickly is that when you shuffle Sunya cards, they have a definite "up" and "down", unlike a regular deck of playing cards.  If you shuffle them like the picture above, then you'll end up with all your cards facing the same direction.  If you shuffle them like I normally shuffle a deck of cards, you end up with this...
Which isn't a huge deal, but is mildly annoying when you have to turn all the cards around :) Save yourself the time and make sure your cards are facing the same way when you shuffle.
To play Sunya, the basic idea is that you use the number cards to make number sentences.  The dealer makes the first number sentence and subsequent players can use the numbers they left behind in addition to the numbers in their hand to change the sentence.  For example, if the dealer lays out
3x2=6 then then next player can use the cards in their hand to change it to 8x2=16.  My fourth grader had a fairly easy time of this, although sometimes a little hint to help him with if he had what he needed or if he needed to draw additional numbers was necessary.
 My second grader needed substantial help.  She knows her multiplication facts, but generating sentences using what was already on the board and what was in her hand was difficult for her.  My sixth grader found this "a cinch" but wasn't playing with us when I took the pictures. We played open hands of Sunya since the rules encourage helping each other out.  Sunya means "none" in Sanskrit and that's what you say when you are out of cards, which is how you win. The winner then reads a math and science fact card, which they can solve or read as the teacher and have others answer.  My kids enjoyed the math and science fact cards a lot, and have actually spent time going through each one so they can try to stump daddy when he gets home from work.
This quote, "Sunya is a fun and simple game..." is included in the back of the instructions.  We did, ultimately, have fun playing the game but you should know there are a superfluous number of rules.  For this simple card game, there are 9 principles that you have to learn before you can really play.  The directions for the game are actually a 25 page book, which is rather intimidating.  I am used to game directions that take up one 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper, at most.  In Sunya's defense, they do a fair amount of explaining of each rule, as well as of mathematics principles, and the instructions also include copies of the math and science facts and riddles cards, which I'm not sure why you need in the book since you have them as cards, as well as a page of famous math quotes, and an explanation of the Sanskrit origins of math, making the directions 15 pages long, but that still seems like a lot to me. We did like playing the game, but especially with my second grader we ended up ignoring most of the rules and just playing a simple version of making math sentences without too much worry about where ones/zeros/wilds could go or how many cards could be played to a number sentence position.  I think with a classroom situation, such as an entire fourth grade class of math students, you could ultimately introduce all the rules (and variations in play) and have this be a fun and successful center.  We are enjoying Sunya as a math supplement game, and after a few rounds have mastered all the rules with my older children. 

Post Script: We were asked if we preferred color or black and white for the instruction manual, and i would say that a MUCH condensed color page (single) would be my preference, rather than a book in black and white or color. 

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
Crew Disclaimer


Summertime Ideas: Berry Picking

We headed out to Gilbert's Crossing yesterday (intersection of 15 and 50) to Wegmeyer Farms to pick our own Strawberries yesterday. The price was just okay ($3.99 for pick your own), but we had a fun time and picked a ton of berries.
 Obviously, since Virginia is the new Seattle and it's been raining for 30 days, the ground is a little mushy and boots are a good idea.  Also, anywhere you go to pick your own items, you should always call and make sure they're having picking that day- weather, too many patrons over the weekend, or any kind of farm issues could mean they're closed on the day you wanted to go, so a quick call is a good idea.  This farm offered a CSA and pick your own asparagus and strawberries.  I think my favorite PYO Berries is still Westmoreland Berry Farm, but we also have an in-county option at Yankey Farms.
At the Gilbert's Crossing location we went to, you parked up at the top and then walked down a little dirt road to get to the actual berry patch, and they had an upper and lower field.
I liked their organizational method- a farm employee assigned you a row and planted a red flag to show that area was being picked.  He also gave us a flag to plant at the end of where we picked so that they would know where to start other people who came to pick after us.  Those buckets we're holding are $1 each (if you want to keep them) and hold about 5 pounds.  We came to get berries, so we left with 10 pounds, but opted for a box, not the baskets.
The kids had the most fun finding unique-looking berries ("I picked a cow udder" was my favorite) like this round berry that my middle guy found and insisted I keep safe for later.
My daughter picked hardly a thing, but she had a really great time stomping around in the mud.  We brought my daddy's truck with us, so we could just throw boots in the back, but if you're going to come out and pick and it's still monsoon season in Virginia, I recommend bringing a few plastic bags to hold boots and a change of shoes for in the car.
We picked three of these boxes full of berries.  That's about 50 pounds.  What do you do with 50 pounds of berries that you picked? I'm so glad that you asked!! I have an answer to that question!  First of all, you can make any of these recipes with any amount of berries that you overpriced, so keep that in mind.  We intentionally bought a hot mess of strawberries so that we could make jelly, but I have a few recipes that I adore that I want to share :)
First of all, no matter what you do, you're going to need to wash your fruit and hull it.  If you've got a sink with a drain plug, I like filling up the sink with cold water and floating the berries in it to rinse any debris and little friends that may have hitchhiked home on your berries down.  A colander also works well.

For hulling you have a couple of options.  If you have a strawberry huller, that works well, as does a paring knife.  If you have little helpers, a straw (imagine that) will actually do the job quite nicely, too.  You just have to cut off the actual stem and leaves, you don't need to lop off the whole top of the berry.  I tell you this because my grandmother used to yell at me for wasting all the berry tops when I cut too much off.  She's not with us anymore, but I can't promise she's not in a better place yelling about how wasteful we all are, so, you know, don't waste berries.
Next, it depends on what you want to do.  You can slice your berries onto a sheet tray and freeze them, and then repackage them in ziplock bags for use in recipes or smoothies.  You can also freeze them whole, it just depends on what your blender likes to work with.
We turned ours into jelly.  We actually had a rather lengthy mishap because we've always used the SureJell low sugar freezer recipe, but on the new liquid pectin that we bought, they changed the recipe to be 2 cups of berries to 4 cups of sugar.  It literally just tasted like sugar, so we ended up taking all the jelly we'd already made out of the jars, which was about 30 pounds of berries worth of jam, and mixing it to the old recipe once we realized.  Now we're hoping it gels.  If you'd not like to have that happen to you, I recommend the old recipe.
The Old Sure Jell Freezer Recipe:
4 cups of crushed strawberries
3 cups of granulated sugar
1 packet of SureJell Pectin (prepared according to directions, there are various varieties, look for the low sugar kind for this recipe)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Prepare pectin according to package directions.  You may or may not be boiling it with the sugar or mixing the sugar into the berries and adding the pectin.  We like this proportion of berries to sugar so that it's VERY berry flavored.  It works best with fresh-picked berries, although if you're a little short, you can mix fresh picked and store bought for a pretty good flavor profile.  Jar and allow to sit on the counter 24 hours to gel.  Move to freezer, and take out as needed.  It keeps in the fridge for about a week once it's thawed.  It probably keeps longer than a week, but I wouldn't know about that, because my kids can put down some PBJs.

Other Ideas I love:
Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
Strawberry Ice Cream (No Ice Cream Machine)
Strawberry Ice Cream (With Ice Cream Machine)
Strawberry Salsa
Strawberry Soup
Strawberry Lemonade
Strawberry Pretzel Salad (This is my hubby's favorite.  It is in no way a salad.)


Review: Memoria Press The Book of Astronomy

                           Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

Memoria Press produces great learning materials, so I was really excited to receive The Book of Astronomy Set for us to use. Astronomy is my middle son, Logan's, favorite subject! I received both a student book and teacher guide for the Book of Astronomy, which is geared for grades three and up.  We used the materials with my 2nd, 4th, and 6th grader, all of whom found it enthralling. We've been working with one student book, but I think that for summer (and we plan to continue using this all summer as a fun activity), we will be ordering additional student books so that each child has one to use on their own. 

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

The curriculum is broken up into 4 units and each has multiple lessons and then a final exercise.  This includes in-depth study of the constellations, the names of the stars, magnitude of the stars, what time of year certain stars and constellations are visible in the night sky, the zodiac, and the solar system.  We started with memorizing the brightest stars and learning some about the different constellations.  Having the D’Aulaires Greek Myths book would be helpful for this, but we have a few different mythology resources already, so that has been working out for us. I feel like this program really goes in-depth with each of the stars and constellations that we're learning about, rather than just being a general overview of star knowledge.

We actually own a telescope, so we have been doing this as a family study at night so that on the rare days it's not raining (we're having a monsoon season in Virginia) we can actually use our telescope to gaze up at the stars and see what we're learning.  We can see a little bit from our back porch, but that picture of Logan is actually in the common space in our HOA which has better viewing.  Our night-time pictures didn't turn out well, but he was happy to show off his telescope to you guys, so here's our daytime picture :) What's been fun about this particular study is that rather than just looking up through our telescope and not knowing what we are looking at, we are slowly gaining enough knowledge to identify the constellations and other bodies in the night sky, and that has made it even more enjoyable!

Overall, we have really enjoyed this book.  We love mythology and we love astronomy, and my middle son has been dying to use his telescope more, so this hit all the high points for our family.  Again, as probably most of my readers don't homeschool, I want to recommend this study as a great summer learning opportunity.  Taking a little time once or twice a week as a family to use the book and take out (or get) a telescope would be a great way to spend some summer nights!  We plan on concluding our study of this book with a trip to the planetarium, and I think the study in general is making some tremendous family memories.

To learn more about this study, or any of the other Memoria Press curricula reviewed in this series, please visit the link below.

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review
Crew Disclaimer


Review: Poetry Memorization from IEW

I love Institute for Excellence in Writing products.  In fact, some of you know that my middle schooler has done some writing for a local new publication, and I credit all of that to IEW and their method for teaching writing.  I was more than happy to try Institute for Excellence in Writing's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization Teachers Manual and Student Notebook.  This course is $65 and comes with a spiral bound book of poems and CDs to help you help your student become and excellent communicator, enrich their vocabulary, and help them learn complex and beautiful organization of the English language by cementing it into their minds through poetry!You can also opt to order the Student Book, which we received with our review materials.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review
The curriculum comes with 96 poems and speeches which are read on CD.  I really appreciate any curriculum that comes on CD because in our model of homeschooling I do an insane amount of reading and tire of the sound of my own voice.  There are also memory charts, poet biographies, and a CD from Andrew Pudewa's "Nuturing Competent Communicators."  I'm a fan of Andrew in his elephant tie from teaching writing structure and style, but this was fantastic information, as well. This talk really helps you to understand why memorization is vital to your child's success as a communicator, and as a student in general.

In this program you learn that memorization helps students become better writers and communicators because it gives them something to pull from, just like learning vocabulary and spelling words, memorization of great speech, literature, and poetry gives them a background knowledge base to pull their words and structure from.  There are five units of memorization, the first four are all poems which become increasingly more difficult and the last contains speeches.  As your children master the progression they move to the next level, and all students are recommended to begin at level one.

We started in level one, and the kids spent about 8-10 minutes a day working on the poetry without me using the CD.  They practiced the poem alone until they felt ready to recite it to me.  On the first poem this got complicated since with my 6th, 4th, and 2nd grader, everyone felt ready to recite and move on at a different pace so they couldn't work together the way I'd planned, but it still worked very independently for us, they just needed to take turns with the CD.  Once a student masters a poem, they move on to the next one, but continue to practice the poems they've already learned.  At the end of level one, they should be able to recite all of the poems from that level.  The book includes a chart for you to track when you recited your learned poems.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review
I have enjoyed this program and plan on setting it to the side for summer and then using it as a morning activity next year throughout the school year.  It's a quick "wake up your brain" for us, and I love that it supplements our writing activities.  If you're a teacher (home or school) I really highly recommend all of IEWs programs and approaches.  You can check them out here:
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And if you'd like to see what other crew members thought about this particular curriculum, you can read more about it by using the link below.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review
Crew Disclaimer


Food Fight 2016 Recap

I had SO MUCH FUN at Food Fight 2016, and I was just a worker-bee! I think that people who really came to pack had an even better time, and in the end, 13,000 kids will have an amazing time- because the 5 million meals (5,044,464 to be exact) we packed with Feed My Starving Children will feed them for an ENTIRE YEAR.

The whole event was incredible- especially the very last packing session, which originally didn't have enough people signed up and ended up being FULL and packing 1 million meals in 2 hours (and a little change).  I'd call that a God moment, but you can call it whatever you'd like.

So what is "Food Fight" (in case you ignored me ranting about it all weekend)?
That sweet lady on the left is Kim.  Kim works at New Hope Church.  Kim probably likes a lot of things, but two of them are Jesus and Feeding People.  Oh, and hair nets.  That's three things.   (Incidentally, in the middle of this picture is a lady who grew up eating FMSC meals in Africa and came to pack them for others at our event!  The red guy is FMSC Staff). Kim has organized packing events for Feed My Starving Children for the past several years at New Hope and we have loved attending.

This year, Kim and New Hope teamed up with the NorthStar Church Network and some other big sponsors to host Food Fight.  Instead of packing a couple hundred thousand meals at New Hope, they decided to pack 5 Million Meals at the Dulles Expo Center. What does that look like, you might ask?
 This is my awesome hubby and I going in Thursday night for Certified Volunteer training.  Austin doesn't go to church with me, so it's always been really special that he comes for FMSC, and he was willing to take a day off work this year to continue to go with me.  We worked all three days of packing and it was amazing.
 We got to pack a little, too.  Our Certified Volunteer Shift was the first to pack Thursday night, and even while we were learning the ropes, we managed to pack our own pallet.
 This is what a couple hundred volunteers getting trained on how to pack meals looks like.  Shifts moved in and out of the front room while people packed in the back.  It worked pretty well!
 This is what packing looks like.  Two volunteers scoop food (one does vitamins and veggies, one does rice and soy).  Another 1-2 volunteers open bags, another weighs the food, and two seal.  The end of the table has a volunteer who's counting and boxing 36 meals and keeping track of how many boxes the table sends out.  Green people (see pic below) were certified volunteers who acted as helpers, red people were FMSC staff, and blue people (bless their hearts) were warehouse- they RAN rice, soy, and full boxes all over the place! We also had people who assembled bags, refilled containers of ingredients, and weighed boxes.  There were jobs for people who needed to sit, and for the Crossfit team that came and ran boxes (and maybe did reps with them while they did it).
 I had so much fun seeing friends and readers that came out.  This is my momma who brought my kids to the 7-10 Friday night session along with some of my oldest's Boy Scout Friends.  They aren't pictured because they were sitting elsewhere.
 Kids ages 5 and up could help and a lot of them did an AMAZING job having a good attitude (even if they didn't get the job they wanted at first) and posted some serious packing numbers!! What I really loved was seeing people who had never met before end up at the same table and working as an effective group after about 4 minutes.  It was such an incredible thing.
Food Fight also collected canned/boxed goods for the Capital Area Food Bank, so kids here in the States were being helped, too.  This was an amazing event to be a part of, and I hope that you'll chose to get involved next year!

To Learn More Visit 2016 Food Fight online


Review: ARTistic Pursuits

We, well, my kids really love art, but I struggle with coming up with ideas and certainly with teaching it since I don't feel strong in this area, so we were really happy to check out My  ARTistic Pursuits, Inc.- specifically, their Middle School 6-8 Book One The Elements of Art and Composition program.
ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review
We used this book as a self-study program for my 6th grader (he's 12).  The book contains elements of art, combining the elements, and even a little bit of art history.  Each section starts with a lesson and ends with a project.  I really appreciated that the beginning of the book included not just a table of contents, but what you would need for each semester of art supply-wise.  There is nothing that derails a day for us more than realizing we need to just "run to the store for X".  
I also appreciated the "What parents want to know" section, which explained how the first lesson of each unit builds vocabulary and understanding of a concept, the second lesson is art appreciation/history, the third lesson is technique, and the fourth lesson is a final project.  This means that as you study each concept, you will do it over four lessons and really develop both the skills to identify it in other's work and use it in your own.  They suggest scheduling art class for two days a week for about an hour over a 36 week period, however, again, you could easily provide this book to an art-inclined child and let them use it at their own pace, which is what we did, and it has worked very well for us. 
Riley knew several of the concepts from having taken art lessons in-studio before, but he never complained about the lessons being boring or repetitive.  He also liked that it was a little more self-paced so if he was really interested in a topic he could spend more time on that week's lesson and project, or if it was something he didn't like as much, he could complete it and move on. 
If you have students in other age ranges, ARTistic Pursuits has books for them, as well.  They have books at the primary through high school age ranges, and I am sure all of them as are positive and can-do as the Middle School book was for us.  I think this would be a great book to have on hand, whether you're looking for a homeschool book for art for next year, or whether you're looking for something that your student can work on daily over the summer.  If you're interested in the other grade levels, you can visit ARTistic Pursuits online, or you can click the link up below and see how other homeschool review crew users felt about the levels that they tried.  We liked the Middle School book, and think that it's a great buy for anyone looking for an at-home art option for their child! 
ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review
Crew Disclaimer


Giveaway: Peter and the Wolf and Laquita


NVYB is pleased to present its production of the Sergei Prokofiev classic, Peter and the Wolf. Featuring Australian guest soloist Victor Leo Smith as Peter, our version is augmented by beautiful scenery, and exquisite costuming. The talented and award winning members of NVYB round out the cast of characters.

Paquita, one of Marius Petipa's Imperial masterpieces, features Colorado Ballet dancer Melissa Zoebisch and Alexandru Glusacov in the principal roles.

Tickets are $30.00 for adults, $20.00 for seniors and military, and $15.00 for children. Don't miss out on this wonderful performance! NVYB is the only local performing company dedicated to staging and producing professional level productions for talented and aspiring young dancers.http://www.hyltoncenter.org/calendar/766/

Want to win tickets? Use the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway provided by Academy of Russian Ballet.  By entering, you agree to all Giveaway Rules.


Mother's Day Ideas 2016

Looking for some fun mother's day ideas? Need to give dad a little shove in the present department? Whatever you're looking for, here are some ideas to get you started!!

Saturday, May 7 2016

Thursday, May 5th 2016

3.  Free FroYo for Mommas on Mother's Day!
Sunday, May 8th 2016 (yes, the flyer says 10th, but it's on the website right now)
All Day at Orange Leaf

May 8th, 2016
live music by LTD Lite from 1-5pm, delicious bbq from The Bone available for purchase and various jewelry and clothing vendors on site!

Brunch Options:
Monza- Note, they don't do reservations, so arrive early!