Holiday Camps at Engineering for Kids 2014

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Published: 12/12/2014
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*

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Kid Ornament Ideas

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Published: 12/09/2014
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!

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Published: 12/07/2014
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! 

Zoolights Review

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Published: 12/05/2014
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. 

Messiah Sing A Long at the Kennedy Center

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Published: 12/01/2014
(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).

Christmas/Holiday Fun Guide 2014

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Published: 11/18/2014
I know, I know, I like to let Thanksgiving get it's time in the sun, but then you guys would miss many of these tree lightings, etc. so I'm just gonna post it now.


If you'd like to add your event, please email me.  It's free. It's easy.  Whoohoo.

Ice Skating/Ice Events
Outdoor Ice Skating at Harris Pavilion is $8 for adults and $7 for kids under 10.  Skates are available for $4.  Best bet? Go on a Wednesday in January and skate for free from 6-8pm.  Note that on warm days I find this ice to be really soft (this is only a problem if you're a serious skater).

Indoor Ice Skating at Prince William Ice Center is $8 for everyone and $2 for skate rental.  Days and times vary.

Prince William Ice also offers a popular Snow and Story, which you can visit on open days or schedule for your playgroup.

And one day camps

Haymarket Iceplex offers ice skating for $7 adults, $6 for kids 12 and under, and $3 for skate rental.  Times vary.

Tree Lightings
December 5th in Manassas, begins at 5:30pm at the train depot, lighting at 6:30 at the Museum.  Free.
November 28th at Stonebridge 6-8:30pm, includes performances, carriage rides, and more!

Family Fun Days/Larger Events
Virginia Gateway's Festive Family Fun will be December 6th from 4:30-7:30pm and will host Santa, Mrs. Claus, face painters, balloon twisters, and more!

December 6th in Manassas begins at 10 am.

December 6th at Manassas Mall from 1-4pm (you can spend all day in Manassas!)

December 6th at the Candy Factory in Manassas, you can make your own gingerbread house.  Preregistration is required. $27/adult and child couple, $10 each additional child, $10 supply fee.

Christmas History
Join Liberia Plantation for Christmas Past on December 6th from 4-7pm.  $15/adults $7.50/kids U12

It's 1943 and time for holidays on the home front at Rippon Lodge! Join them December 7 from 5-8pm for $5pp.

Learn about past Christmas Traditions and meet Santa at Rippon Lodge on December 7th from 12-3pm.

Take a candlelight tour and see what Christmas was like for those who were enslaved. Ben Lomond Historic Site, December 13th 5-7pm.

December 20th from 10am-4pm, join Leesylvania State Park for a Civil War Christmas.  $2pp or $6/family

Carriage Rides
Sundays in December until Christmas, hop a free carriage ride in Downtown Manassas.  1pm-4pm from the train depot.

Train Shows
December 10-14th join the Center for the Arts for a Train Show.  Admission is a canned food item for SERVE.

Tickets for the Santa Train will go on sale (and sell out completely in about an hour) on November 24th.  Visit their website for details.

December 6th at Williams Ordinary in Dumfries from 10am-4pm, Pictures with Santa: $5.00 for 4x6 or $10.00 for 8x10, also can make pomanders.

Learn about past Christmas Traditions and meet Santa at Rippon Lodge on December 7th from 12-3pm.

Children with special needs and their families can visit Santa at Manassas Mall on Sunday December 7th from 8-10am.

Performances (@Hylton Center unless otherwise noted)
Northern Virginia Youth Ballet will present their Nutcracker, featuring Russian ballet stars direct from Moscow, on November 29th at 2pm or 8pm.

Gainesville Ballet will present their Nutcracker on November 28th at 2pm or 8pm.

A Chanticleer Christmas will be November 30th at 4pm.

Catch a Big Band Christmas Extravaganza December 4th at 7:30.

Christmas in New York December 5th at 7:30.

Clara's Christmas will be presented December 7th at 3:30pm or 7:30pm

American Festival Pops December 12th at 8pm.

Manassas Chorale December 13th at 5pm.

December 14th at 8pm, Clint Black Christmas.

December 19th-23rd, Manassas Ballet will present their Nutcracker.

Family Friendly Religious Services


Permalink to HGTV%20UNWRAPS%20%E2%80%98SANTA%20HQ%E2%80%99
Published: 11/13/2014

Los Angeles, CA - [For Immediate Release – November 3, 2014] HGTV celebrates the holidays with “Santa HQ,” an immersive experience that transforms the traditional visit with Santa Claus into a jingle-filled, interactive journey for all ages at 10 Macerich malls across the country. For more than six weeks, from Tuesday, Nov. 4, through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, HGTV and Macerich will present a completely reimagined visit with Santa for the 21st century by pairing cutting-edge technology with an authentic holiday experience. Visitors can take an ELFIE selfie and star in their own holiday video, explore Santa’s Observatory using ELF-RAY Vision, test out the ‘Naughty O’ Nice Meter,’ and enjoy a memorable photo with Santa.

Santa HQ will be featured at Macerich properties including Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, Conn., opening on Nov. 4; Deptford Mall in Deptford Township, N.J., opening on Nov. 5; Vintage Faire in Modesto, Calif., opening on Nov. 5; Los Cerritos Center in Cerritos, Calif., opening Nov. 7; FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield, Colo., opening Nov. 7; Washington Square in Portland, Ore., opening Nov. 7; Lakewood Center in Lakewood, Calif., opening Nov. 7; Tysons Corner Center near Washington, D.C., opening Nov. 14.; Chandler Fashion Center in Chandler, Ariz., opening on Nov. 7; and Scottsdale Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Ariz., opening Nov. 14.

“Santa HQ provides a unique twist on holiday festivities, while offering fans a chance to touch and feel the HGTV brand in a whimsical way,” said Shannon Driver, senior vice president, media strategies and partnerships. “We’ve enhanced the holiday experience at these top malls by creating a state-of-the-art venue for visitors to explore.”

Upon entering the magical structure, families can enjoy the wonder of Santa’s Workshop and Observatory by using innovative technology to customize their individual experience. Visitors can download the ELF-RAY Vision app or use a provided tablet to immerse themselves in the enchanting world of Santa HQ to see the night sky, the secret inner-workings of clocks and gears and to meet a playful pair of elves. By using their handheld device as a “portal,” visitors can see and interact with stunning digital scenes surrounding them inside Santa’s Observatory. Visitors can continue the adventure with a custom photo opportunity, followed by the ultimate moment with Santa inside his modernized sleigh. Visitors can reserve their experience time in advance via the Santa HQ website.

“Santa HQ reinvents the Santa experience at the mall for a new generation of digitally savvy, always-connected kids and their families,” said Ken Volk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Macerich. “With HGTV, we are bringing a dramatically new and engaging holiday attraction to shoppers.  We know that people come to the mall for one-of-a-kind, in-person experiences they can share in real time and through social media – and the exciting new Santa HQ delivers exactly what families want today.”
Santa HQ will also feature “Sleigh Ride” - a featured track on the recently-released Pentatonix holiday album, That’s Christmas To Me - as part of the experience’s light show, which will play daily across Macerich’s 10 properties.  Additionally, Pentatonix will be performing at Tysons Corner Center on Friday, December 5.  That’s Christmas To Me is available in stores and online, and will be available to those visiting Santa across the Macerich portfolio throughout the holiday season.

Santa HQ was conceived in collaboration with HGTV, Macerich and Pop2Life, a New York-based experiential marketing agency.

Featured Organization Friday: Wreaths Across America

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Published: 12/20/2013

We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday with my daughter's American Heritage Girls troop.  I have to be honest and admit that I've been going to Arlington my entire life because my grandparents are buried there, but I never knew that the wreaths and flags that appear during Christmas and 4th of July/Veterans Day are put up by volunteers.

Wreaths Across America raises the funds to place wreaths on the graves of American veterans at veterans' cemeteries across the country, at sea, and 24 national cemeteries on foreign soil.  Quantico is also a participating site.  Wreaths are $15, and our AHG troop actually raised money as a fundraiser, which helped our organization and helped fund the wreaths we would be going to lay.  Arlington actually has to rotate the sections that receive wreaths each year because there are not enough to go around.  This year, there was a bit of a crisis at Arlington because while wreath sponsorships were up overall, they were down at Arlington until a huge last-minute donation from Google.  (Holla at Google!)

Each year, Wreaths Across America selects a date (a Saturday) and all of the cemeteries are provided with wreaths on that day.  Truckers from across the country ship the wreaths to the sites, and volunteers come out to help lay the wreaths.  You don't have to sign up to volunteer, you can just show up the day of.  Even the tiniest kiddos can help out- as long as they're big enough to put a wreath down, or hang out in a backpack/wrap/stroller while you do.  Note that strollers looked to be a little difficult to negotiate on the wet ground today, so you might want to plan for an option that's mud-friendly depending on the weather.

We drove to Pentagon City Mall and parked, and then we took the metro to Arlington.  I actually have a parking pass that lets me into the cemetery grounds, but we were told the line to get into Arlington can be massive with people trying to park in the limited visitors center spots, so we opted to do a short metro ride instead.

So did a lot of people.  Metro was, unfortunately, doing system maintenance on the blue line, so trains were only running every 20 minutes.  They also only have a few entry/exit points at Arlington, so the bottleneck and wait to get OUT of the station was pretty intense.  It took us about 20 minutes, and the trains were standing room only coming in.  I mention this, again, as a caution to those of you with strollers :) It was actually neat that there were so many people coming to volunteer.
This was just to get off the platform, not even to exit the station.
Our group met up at 8:30 so they could get good spots for the opening ceremony at 9:30 (Note that times vary by location).  I know I'm going to frustrate someone by saying this, but I didn't find the opening ceremony all that worthwhile.  It was standing room only, so my daughter couldn't see and just wanted to get to the business at hand.  There were a few speeches, a non-sectarian prayer, the national anthem, mention of dignitaries, and then God Bless America, oh, and the Presidential Helicopter did a fly-by.  It just didn't really do anything for me.

By the time we were done with the opening ceremony, people who skipped it (I venture to say the majority) had already been putting wreaths down for a few minutes, so my daughter and I opted out of a group photo and hi-tailed it to the section my grandparents are in so that we could place their wreath.  If you have a loved one in any section, you can lay a wreath for them, and you are able to skip the line at the trucks, walk to the front and ask for a wreath for a loved one. No one will give you any trouble, and in fact, the Army volunteer who gave us our wreath thanked me for my grandfather's service to our country and thanked my daughter for coming out.  (I found that moving- I teared up a little).
That's my grandfather's stone- my grandmother is listed on the back.  Not related to this story- but she was Anna and my daughter is Savannah in her honor.

We were actually able to lay numerous wreaths because we walked back to their section.  The lines can be incredibly long at the sections closest to the entrance, and in the newest sections.  Section 60 had a line a block long.  I know a few of our friends only made it through their lines once or twice, but we actually were able to go through our line six times, getting two or three wreaths each time, depending on whether Savannah felt like carrying her own wreath or not.  They got heavy for her after awhile!

Several of our friends sponsored wreaths, and she was very thoughtful in placing wreaths for them, finding someone who had a name that started with the same first initial as one friend who donated, and finding "USMC" on stones for Marine friends who sponsored others.  Because we're an interfaith family, it was a little hard for her to understand why we weren't giving wreaths to everyone (because Daddy is Jewish and he does Christmas with us), and it's a little hard to explain that we ARE being fair to everyone by honoring their traditions, even if it seems unfair that "everyone isn't getting one".  However, after a talking for awhile, she finally got it, and we did make a point of stopping at graves marked with a Star of David and reading the names and inscriptions as a way of honoring those veterans, too.  One of my favorite things about Arlington is the beauty of all the white stones, all the different ranks, branches, and faiths, all together peacefully at rest.  I hope that she understood a little of that, although I know it's a big concept for a Kindergartner!

There is a closing ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at noon, which I hear was very beautiful, but Savannah was exhausted, so we opted to head back home at around 11.

If you would like to get involved with Wreaths Across America, you can visit their website to sponsor wreaths or find volunteer information for next year's wreath placement.  You can also get involved this year by helping to remove wreaths, clean up at Arlington takes place in January, and you can email the site leader for details or to get involved.  I hear that clean-up is not nearly as well attended, and it would still be a very easy job for even little hands.

Did you attend, or have you attended in the past? Leave your tips or advice in the comments.

Cute Christmas Party Food: Olive Wreath

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Published: 12/17/2013
These are from my cookie swap last December (believe it or not, I'm writing this post in January 2013.  How's that for planning?) I have to warn you now, though, that while you may be used to my typical crappy iphone photos, these were taken on someone's flip phone.  That's right, a flip phone.  Apparently those aren't all in museums yet, because my kids' "Auntie Elaine" has one.  It takes EVEN CRAPPIER pictures! Holla!

Anyway, you'll still get the idea :)

Love it? Don't forget to Pin It!

 Olive and Tomato Wreath
On a round serving platter, arrange 3 large bunches of Rosemary in a circular form for your "wreath".  Next, arrange olives (these are three different types from the grocery store's bulk olives, which was much cheaper than three jars!) in three mounds at the "points" of an imaginary triangle around the platter, and then fill in the empty spaces with cherry tomatoes.  Be sure to provide toothpicks or forks for your guests to spear their olives!

Santa at the Manassas Park Community Center 2013

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Published: 12/16/2013
Join the Manassas Park Community Center for "Santa Paws" with your pets on 12/21/2013 from 11:30-12:30, and get your pets' pictures with Santa!  $5/dog.  No pets? Bring your kiddos to Breakfast with Santa, also on 12/21 from 9-11am, $5/child. 

Breakfast With Santa at PW Ice 2013

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Published: 12/14/2013
Breakfast with Santa at Prince William Ice Center will be Saturday December 21, 2013 from 10:30-12.  Be sure to register ahead of time, either online or in person!

Cute Christmas Crafts: Brownie Trees

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Published: 12/14/2013
How Cute Are These Cookies?

You don't have to answer.  They're pretty freaking cute.  For our cookie swap last year, these are what my mom made.  Again, this isn't even a tutorial, it's me showing off something cute as captured on a horrible mobile phone picture.

So, make your favorite brownie recipe.

Done? Excellent.

Cut into triangles.  You don't need an engineer for that, but if you have one available (we did) they can diagram the way to cut the brownies for minimal waste.  I don't believe you can have waste when cutting brownies, because it just means more for you.

Next, gently work a piece of mini candy-cane into the triangle to serve as the trunk of your "tree".  Decorate each tree with a swirl of frosting and ball candies or red hots.


These are such an easy and adorable treat, and I love that they're not cookies- it's a nice change!  What are you baking this year? Leave a comment and bonus points for a link to your blog!

Hylton Planetarium

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Published: 12/13/2013
While the Hylton Planetarium isn't my typical Friday non-profit/charity, they do only operate based on community involvement and attendance.  New shows run between $10,000 and $20,000 a pop, and that money comes from groups coming in.  We had an awesome time, so I'm sharing today :) If you have a child who attends PWCS, they'll benefit from the awesome planetarium at some point, too! 

We had the chance to take a field trip to the Irene V.Hylton Planetarium at Hylton High School this past week, and it was so much fun!

As part of our memory work curriculum, we are learning astronomy facts this year.  My kids have memorized the parts of the sun, the planets, types of stars, phases of the moon, types of other objects in our solar system, and the names of US space missions.  Our group decided to do the Planetarium as our culminating trip, although I know another group did it as their introduction. 

The planetarium offers several different programs that homeschool groups, moms groups, retirement communities, girl scout/boy scout troops, or just a bunch of people who are super into astronomy can choose from.  We selected a program for grades 3-7 called “Earth, Moon, Sun”, which could have probably included a little more technical information for our group of kids, but they absolutely loved everything about it, especially the coyote “scientist” who kept blundering things up.  They spent a lot of time laughing and definitely liked the presentation of the material in such a 360 format.  I enjoyed the fact that they wove in some mythology and talked about how much our understanding has changed over the years.  I thought it was very well done.

Other programs are available for various age groups.  When you email the director, Anthony Kilgore, to set up your program, he can help you select for your group. 

As for details, you’ll need a minimum of 30 people, and the facility can accommodate a maximum of 60.  Shows are $10 per person, and for groups they ask that you give one cash payment or write one check.

The show was really fun.  The program isn’t anything like I remember- when I was little and you went to the planetarium, there was a giant “ball” that projected stars onto the ceiling and then the attendant would point things out with a red laser pointer.  Now, the presentations are more like movies projected on a dome, but they’re still very cool and the kids like the presentation of the material in such a fun format.

At the end of our program, the director Mr. Kilgore, who is fun and engaging with students, took our extra time to show us one song from his current holiday laser program which was amazing.  First, he explained to us that there are only three lasers in the planetarium, a red, a green, and a blue.  However, using a complex series of mirrors, he’s able to turn those three lasers into an incredible show of light coordinated to music.  The kids were in absolute awe, and I thought they  might absolutely lose their minds when at the end of the song it started “snowing” in the planetarium. 

If you’d like to catch a laser show, there are public performances each week during December:
Friday, December 6th/13th/20th 2013
6:00pm - Laser Holidays
7:30pm - Star of Bethlehem
9:00pm - Laser Holidays

You can purchase tickets at the planetarium Monday-Friday 7:30am-4pm, or in person if there are seats left the night of the show.  Bring $10 per person, exact change, and be sure to arrive 10 minutes prior to showtime and use the restroom before you go in! Once the doors lock, you can’t get in, although you can leave- but that means if you walk out to use the restroom, you’re not going to see the rest of the show, so prepare accordingly!

We really enjoyed our field trip, and it would be an awesome way to earn an astronomy badge, or to enjoy a fun trip for any group (did I mention that we took a group of kids to the planetarium for my oldest son’s 7thbirthday? We did.  And we schlepped all the way to the David Brown Planetarium in Arlington(!) and it wasn’t nearly as nice as Hylton’s, which is right in our backyard.  I don’t remember what made us have to go to Brown, I think Hylton was already booked the night we needed to do his birthday party, but just for comparison’s sake, Hylton has a nicer interior and equipment, as far as I can tell!

For more information about the Hylton Planetarium, or to book your group or event, please contact Director Anthony Kilgore, via email or at 703-580-4000. 

Someone pointed out that I forgot my funny disclaimer!! My bad!!  I was not compensated or remunerated in any way for this post.  I didn't snag a discount for being awesome, either, although that's never happened so I'm not sure why it would start now.  All opinions are my own based on our experience. Your experiences may vary, and PwcMoms is not responsible for your kids trying to turn your basement into a laser show, or the crick in your neck from looking up at the show for an hour.  Try stretching first.

Cute Christmas Foods: Santa Cheese Tray

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Published: 12/10/2013
These are from my cookie swap last December (believe it or not, I'm writing this post in January 2013.  How's that for planning?) I have to warn you now, though, that while you may be used to my typical crappy iphone photos, these were taken on someone's flip phone.  That's right, a flip phone.  Apparently those aren't all in museums yet, because my kids' "Auntie Elaine" has one.  It takes EVEN CRAPPIER pictures! Holla!

Anyway, you'll still get the idea :)

Love it? Don't forget to Pin It!

Santa Cheese Tray
For the Santa Bellies- use Baby Bel Light cheese wheels.  Leave the cheese unpeeled.  Cut a 1/4 inch strip of black construction paper and then cut to fit around each wedge.  Attach with tape.  On the front of each piece of cheese, use a square of silver tape or silver or gold paper for the "belt buckle" For the Rudolphs, use unwrapped wedges of Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese.  Gently wedge two mini pretzels on either site of the wide part of the triangle (this works best if the cheese has been on the counter for a few minutes).  Using a round piping tip, cut small circles out of red and green bell peppers, using the green for eyes and the red for noses.  

Christmas Crafts: Embellished Wine Bags

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Published: 12/07/2013
These were such a fun craft for our Cookie Swap and Craft, and they can be done on the cheap! Dollar store frequently have the wine bag sized gift bags, and you don't have to use them for wine! If you prefer not to drink, these will dress up a bottle of sparkling cider just as easily, and they're a much more festive way of toting your drink to the next party you attend!

There's not much here in the way of directions- just snag a few embellishments and get going! We did cut out trees on the Cricut, which most people wrapped ribbon around since they have "indentations" between the tree layers, but other than that, you'll just need ribbon, stickers, cutouts and jewels.  Quick and easy!

Christmas/Holiday Gift Guide 2013 and Giveaways....Lots of Giveaways

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Published: 12/04/2013
Here's the deal.  Shopping Local isn't just trendy, it's a great way to support your community.  The money you spend with a MBB (that's mom-based-business for those not in the know) or locally owned company stays in our community.  It pays for dance classes and baseball, for pizza dinners on busy nights, and PTA dues.  I love shopping local, and I'm happy to offer you some fun local options, mom-owned options, and some fun gifts to boot.  Not everyone is going to be a small business on this list, but they're all people in our community, and I think that's super cool.

Happy Shopping, and good luck if you enter to win something!! I'll draw winners on Monday, December 23rd.

Single Item Giveaways (Alphabetical):

Offering classes in foreign language, arts, STEM, and more, The Animated Child is the perfect place to send Grandparents for Gift Cards.  I personally love the idea of giving my child an activity rather than a present- it takes up no room in the house and engages their brain! Perfect! Or, tell Grammy and Pop-Pop that a great gift would be a night off for you and your hubby! The Animated Child offers great Parent Night Out Programs with various themes including Minecraft!! A PNO is the perfect time to check out Animated Child, especially if you're considering one of their preschool/day school programs which include Last Child in the Woods and French Immersion. They're offering a free night out for a lucky reader, too!
Enter to win a free parents night out at Animated Child. 

Fit 4 Mom PWC
Fit 4 Mom PWC(formerly Stroller Strides) offers exercise programs for EVERY mom in ANY stage of motherhood. Check us out on FacebookTwitter and our website or call 571-220-9687 for more information.  See individual giveaway for December/January specials. All new Stroller Strides members BUY ONE MONTH GET ONE FREE AND 1/2 off Equipment fee (exp. 12/31/13)  20% OFF Passes. (10 Class Pass, Tri-Class Pass and 2 Class Pass) Body Back Session beginning January 7 in Woodbridge:  NEW ENROLLMENTS RECEIVE 1/2 OFF SESSION COST (expires 12/31/13) NEW YEARS SPECIAL:  Stroller Strides Equipment fee lowered to $20.14 for all new members. (for January ONLY). 
 Enter to win- 2 winners will receive a $40 gift card to use on any class/pass/session. 

Game Truck
Game Truck can heat up any winter gathering, holiday party, or birthday celebration with the hottest games brought directly to your home or office!! Any Gametruck party booked in December for a December party is $75 off, code zm42.  In addition to their great savings for PwcMoms readers, they're also giving away a Battroborg Robot with the "rare and coveted gold fist of fury!" I have no clue what that means- but I know that the kids in my life would absolutely flip out over it!! 
Enter to win a Battroborg Robot. 

"Once upon a time there was a girl who loved to dance, workout, and then go out (coffee shop, mall, lunch)! Sometimes she didn't have time to do an entire outfit change and just wanted to do the minimum to look fashionable, chic, and be comfy." If this sounds like you, or a girlfriend, then Skirt the Issue may be the perfect present this year! In a variety of colors and prints, Skirt the Issue has something for everyone! 
One Skirt
a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Soccer Shots
There is no better gift (as far as I'm concerned) than one that doesn't take up space in your closets, and Soccer Shots has you covered! With winter seasons starting January 13th, Soccer Shots is a great way to teach your child the essential skills of a great game.  Soccer Shots is for children ages 2-8 that meets once a week in various locations, including schools and daycare centers, if you'd like to get the program to come to your child! Skills covered aren't just "soccer skills" but include speed, agility, coordination, and balance.  With sessions all four seasons, you can keep your child healthy and active through Soccer Shots!!  
Enter to win a $40 gift card to Soccer Shots

The Tiny Human is an online boutique specializing in handmade accessory items.  Owner-mom Caitlin makes custom shirts, skirts, dresses, headbands, snack bags, and more!! Visit her website to place your order, and mention PwcMoms for $5 off your December order!  The Tiny Human is offering a $40 gift card good for any of the items in their store!! What an awesome prize!!
Enter to win a $40 gift card for your choice of items. 

Touch of Gold

Touch of Gold is my favorite jewelry store (which may be because I worked there and love the ladies, but may also be because I'm totally addicted to Troll Beads!).  Located in Historic Occoquan, Touch of Gold's fun favorite for Christmas 2013 is Kameleon Jewelry- which is an awesome pick for anyone because it's Sterling Silver bases are very affordable, and with hundreds of interchangeable jewel "pops" to choose from, you can change your jewelry with every season with just a change in pop! Touch of Gold is offering a Limited Edition Pendant with an Angel Pop, and Emerald Isle Pop for you to swap out, a silver chain, and a holiday compact to hold your jewel pops.  You can purchase this special set for $89 at Touch of Gold all season long, or win it here!
Enter to win a "Make the Season Pop" set. 

The PwcMoms Basket of Awesome 2013:

Baby Blossom offers a variety of baby, toddler, and child friendly products, including strollers, car seats, travel gear, high chairs, bath and potty, clothing and gifts, and more.  Check them out online or in-store for high-quality products for your child!  $25 gift card

Brixx serves up salads, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and more.  A great atmosphere with fun special nights on a regular basis (usually featuring beer or wine), Brixx is a great place to spend an evening.  gift card

Cartoon Cuts makes getting a haircut fun! While some children are horrified at the idea of a little trim, Cartoon Cuts makes it easy with a kid-friendly environment, games, movies, and more.  $25 gift card

Shop not only local, but to do good, and order custom ornaments from Eme's Army.  Ornaments come in a variety of colors and styles, and can feature any word you want! Perfect as a gift on its own, or as a "finishing touch" to a special wrapping job! Hostess gifts, teacher gifts, the possibilities are endless! Ornament

Fit 4 Mom PWC(formerly Stroller Strides) offers exercise programs for EVERY mom in ANY stage of motherhood. Check us out on FacebookTwitter and our website or call 571-220-9687 for more information.  See individual giveaway for December/January specials.  2 $25 gift cards for use on any class/pass/session

Hitchcock Creative produces beautiful and original paper crafts including invitations, save the dates, menus, programs, note cards, thank you cards, and more.  Find them at their website, etsy, or Pinterest. PWC Moms readers get an exclusive offer of FREE shipping on all items through Dec. 20, 2013. Use code FREESHIP during check out. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more holiday deals and thanks for shopping local! Box set of 12 "Wizard of Oz" quotation cards with envelopes. 

Slumber Parties by Alyssa won't have a gift for your kids- but she will definitely have the perfect gift for your boyfriend/husband/baby daddy/life partner.  Alyssa's site features items from bath/body to lingerie and beyond.  Please note that her site is for moms only, not little ones.  Those who book a "Ladies Night In" in December will get an extra $50 in products.  Order placed before 12/14 get free shipping, which is the deadline to ensure Christmas delivery.  $20 gift card for your choice of item

The Smart Car Wash offers eco-friendly car wash, interior cleaning, and detailing right in Woodbridge!  This holiday season, Buy a $50 Gift Card, get an extra $25 FREE (You could give it away...or keep it for yourself!) $20 gift card

Soccer Shots offers skills sessions for children ages 2-8 teaching
cross-discipline skills including agility, coordination, balance, and speed.  With year-round programs, keeping your child healthy and active through soccer shots is easy! They even host programs for daycare centers and schools if you want to build a team at your location and avoid driving! $20 gift card

Tastefully Simple consultant Courtney Pomietto can help you shine while entertaining this Christmas! Count on her for easy-to-make and delicious to eat dips, seasonings, soups, sauces and more! PwcMoms who order over $50 will receive free shipping on their order, but be sure to contact Courtney directly to get that special deal! Warm Gatherings Collection

Truestar with Victoria Guarente offers a FREE diet and nutrition website that you can start using today.  Get 10% off vitamins and supplements by using Victoria's link when placing your order.  TrueStrength Whey Protein

Also included in this gift basket are a few extra goodies from me.  There are some Jamberry Nail strips, a Citrus Calendula Soap from Ruby Reds Creations, a few Chick Fil A freebie cards, and a couple other surprises :)

Enter HERE using this convenient one-stop Rafflecopter:

Other Great Shopping Options:
Fit 4 Mom PWC(formerly Stroller Strides) offers exercise programs for EVERY mom in ANY stage of motherhood. Check us out on Facebook, Twitter and our website or call 571-220-9687 for more information. See giveaway for December specials. 

Jamberry Nails- Let Jamie Vuong help you look great this holiday with over 300 designs for your fingers and toes.  Jamberry Nails come in adult and junior sizes, have no harsh chemicals, and right now, buy 3 and get 1 free!

Lilla Rose- Hollie Dermer can keep you looking gorgeous this season with hair clips and accessories for all ages.  Buy 3 get one FREE for new customers, free shipping on orders over $40.

Move More Fitness- Mom Adrienne Vose will help you give yourself the gift of fitness this year! Get in shape, have more energy, meet whatever goals you set for yourself!

Origami Owl- Jinette Glassco will help you design the perfect, meaningful gift for friends, family, teachers, or anyone on your list!!

Poshing Maggie- Maggie Montgomery's Perfectly Posh products are all-natural, petroleum-free, and made in the US.  Posh has 7 holiday bundles starting at $19- perfect for the gift of pampering! Find Maggie on Facebook, too.

Ruby Reds Creations- Jami Harward creates doll accessories, fleece jackets (with hoods- so cute!) nativity sets, and more.

Taking Care of Business- Tatiana Horne will help you with all your errands, prep work, and other holiday hullabaloo! Give her a call, or schedule a gift car for an over-worked friend!

Wess Home Improvement- Getting your home ready to host for the holidays?  Maybe your list for Santa reads more like a honey-do? Purchase a $300 voucher and get $100 FREE (bonus for use on labor only)

Wild Ruby- Sarah Mesienhelter runs her business via Amazon and can help you score great deals (check out this play kitchen!) check her out at Wild Ruby on Amazon.

As always, by entering you agree to our full rules, this contest is not affiliated with Facebook, any mobile carrier, or any application site.  Prizes provided by sponsors.  All opinions are my own.

Cute Christmas Foods: Christmas Tree Veggie Bread

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Published: 12/03/2013

These are from my cookie swap last December (believe it or not, I'm writing this post in January 2013.  How's that for planning?) I have to warn you now, though, that while you may be used to my typical crappy iphone photos, these were taken on someone's flip phone.  That's right, a flip phone.  Apparently those aren't all in museums yet, because my kids' "Auntie Elaine" has one.  It takes EVEN CRAPPIER pictures! Holla!

Anyway, you'll still get the idea :)

Love it? Don't forget to Pin It!

Christmas Tree Veggie Bread
Pop open two cans of your favorite refrigerator crescent dough, but don't unroll them.  Cut each with a seraded knife into 8 equal pieces.  Arrange the slices on a greased baking sheet into a triangle with one piece at the bottom for your "trunk".  Bake according to package directions.  Meanwhile, mix one softened block of cream cheese with one cup of mayonnaise and one packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix.  After the crescents have cooled, cover them with the ranch mix, and then decorate with the veggies of your choice, using finely chopped broccoli as your base.  (This comes out cuter if you don't let your 4 year old help, but what's the fun in that?) 

Giveaway: Lia Sophia with Anne Monseur

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Published: 11/27/2013
Last week there was a magician at my house.  I think I told you guys that.

What I don't think I told you was that Lia Sophia advisor Anne Monseur came over, too, and she's something of a magician herself!  I selected a necklace from the Lia Sophia catalog to check out the quality and style in person (pictures never do jewelry justice), and when Anne brought it over, she whipped out a connected set of scarves as good as any magician I'd ever seen and showed me how amazing my necklace looked on different backgrounds.

Y'all, I had to go buy a green sweater because of her trick!  I wish I had it on YouTube to show you!

The necklace that I picked "because I have so much blue", Anne showed me was an incredibly versatile addition to my wardrobe! I think that means buying the other pieces in the collection is justified by how many outfits I can work with....

Enough about me- let's talk about jewelry.  This is the Ocean Air necklace that I selected:
I love it.  A lot.

However, Lia Sophia has a range of beautiful products, from necklaces, to earrings, from traditional pieces to statement jewelry.

The best part, of course, is the price point.  Not only are the pieces affordable, right now when you purchase 2 items, you get the 3rd and MOST expensive piece at 50% off.  That means if you buy two pairs of earrings (starting around $19) and a $100 necklace, your necklace is $50.


Additionally, if you really need to overhaul (or fill) your jewelry box, December hostesses get 60% (sixty!!) of their party sales in free jewelry as well as hostess exclusive pieces for a great price- like this Dulce Bracelet, $128 normally, which is a hostess exclusive for $20!  Anne tells me that her most recent November hostess raked in $1,052 worth of free jewelry!
Bling bling.

I loved so many of the pieces in the Lia Sophia catalog, the hardest part was choosing.  Christmas is coming, though, so if you have a wish list, Anne will be more than happy to help your husband start working on it!

For our giveaway, Anne Monseur- Lia Sophia Advisor is offering a beautiful piece of jewelry between $75 and $125- get this, YOU get to pick!! As an added bonus, even if you don't win, if you sign up to host a December OR January party you'll get a free $100 piece of jewelry when you tell her you found her on PwcMoms in addition to all the hostess benefits I already mentioned! Enter using the Rafflecopter below!! Good luck!! Don't forget to look at the catalog carefully- if you win, you'll get the piece you select in the comments!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

View our complete rules, which you agree to when you enter, HERE.  This contest is not affiliated with Facebook, iTunes, Android, Apple, Google Play, or anybody else cool.  Prize provided by giveaway sponsor.  Good Luck, and remember that earrings and necklaces will fit no matter how many servings of apple pie you have on Thanksgiving.

Guest Post: Santa at Fair Oaks Mall

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Published: 11/26/2013
My post about the Santa at Potomac Mills sure got you guys fired up.  I love hearing your opinions, though! I asked for additional pictures/details from other malls and events that people said were better, and Samantha from Happily a Housewife (also a PWC Resident!) shared her experiences at Fair Oaks Mall this year.  Thanks Samantha!! 

Thanksgiving is here, and with that December and the holiday season are right around the corner.  I don't know about you, but in our house, my kids are already making their list for Santa. 
We are lucky to live in an area with so many malls and "Santa" events.  But it can get a bit overwhelming deciding where to take your little ones, where has the best atmosphere, shortest wait, helpful staff.
Our choice is Fair Oaks Mall.  Although not in PWC, it is very close, and has an amazing display.

When you enter the ice palace, it is magical.  You enter into a giant snow globe, complete with snow falling!

I was at the mall for an event recently, and actually got to take a few minutes to speak with a staff member.  Here are some tips she shared with me....

1.  Weekdays are going to be the least crowded.  However, avoid Monday afternoons.  (Fairfax County Schools have shortened days on Mondays)
2.  Black Friday morning is surprisingly slow, as many adults are out shopping, or avoiding the malls altogether. 
3.  At Fair Oaks while they do want to keep the line moving, they really want each child to get their time, special moment with Santa.
4.  There is no fast pass line.  At some malls you can pay more to get in a separate faster moving line.  This however makes the regular line run even slower. 

In addition to photos with Santa, you can also get a photo taken with The Princess as well.  It really is a great experience that children of all ages will love!

While at Fair Oaks Mall, if your children are younger, be sure to check out the BRAND NEW Michael and Son Play Area. 

My favorite feature is the heat activated paint splotch.  When placing your hand on the soft mat, the heat from your body actually changes the color of the mat!


Hi I am Samantha.  My husband, 3 kids, and I have lived in PWC for 5 years.  Check out My Blog, to see more.  I also want to thank Andrea from Real Housewives of Northern Virginia for hosting a great event at Fair Oaks Mall.
Note from Kristina: Thanks so much to Samantha for the post, and also, be sure to check out Real Housewives' additional pictures from her annual Sensory-Friendly Santa event at Fair Oaks. 

Giveaway: Northern Virginia Youth Ballet Presents "The Nutcracker"

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Published: 11/13/2013
I cannot believe we're entering Nutcracker season already!! The last year has been somewhat of a blur for me with being sick, and I am really excited to fully enjoy the holiday season with my family!! Bring on the ballet, the ice sculptures, the light shows, I want to do it all and over-exhuast myself!!  

We've actually never taken our children to see the Nutcracker live, and I am thinking this is the year.  Staying local so that you don't add an hour of driving and finding parking is always a great idea as far as I'm concerned, and the Northern Virginia Youth Ballet will be presenting their Nutcracker in Manassas!!

The Northern Virginia Youth Ballet is proud to present it's 7th annual production of "The Nutcracker"!
Saturday, December 7th at 5pm
Sunday, December 8th at 3pm
Osbourn Park HS
8909 Euclid Avenue, Manassas, VA
This year's production features Guest Artists Melissa Zoebisch & Alexandru Glusacov as Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier as well as Dmitri Vistoropskiy as The Nutcracker
Tickets are $20.00 for adults and $15.00 for seniors and children (All tickets $5.00 more at the door). You may order online or by calling 703-368-2268

Obviously, since you can save $5/ticket by ordering online- you'll want to get your tickets in advance!! However, if you'd like to win a family four pack of tickets, we've got them for you, thanks to Northern Virginia Youth Ballet/Academy of Russian Ballet!! Enter using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize is provided by The Northern Virginia Youth Ballet/Academy of Russian Ballet.  PwcMoms is not responsible for cavities due to Sugar Plums, or your child demanding ballet lessons so she can be Clara.  By entering, you agree to our rules, which you can read here.  As always, our giveaways are not affiliated with Apple/iTunes/Google/Google Play/Android/Facebook or anybody else using a shovel to pick up their cash money.  

Sponsored Post: Holiday Sessions with BelaJuli Photography

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Published: 11/02/2013
BelaJuli Photography will be offering Holiday Mini Sessions at the Monuments in DC!! With two dates, November 23rd and December 14th, you'll want to book now to ensure you've got your pictures to impress family!! I especially love the idea of pictures in DC for military families that may only be here for a year or two- what a fun way to capture where you're living this year!!

30 minute sessions are $65.00 plus tax and include 5 digital images with the option to purchase additional.  Email to schedule!

Guest Posts: Holiday Movies for the Naughty and Nice

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Published: 12/18/2012
 Oh Christmas, how to I love thee. From eggnog and tree trimming to gift wrapping and caroling, there is something for everyone during the holiday season. It seems like everywhere you look there is hustle and bustle and general Christmassy cheer but one thing that gives this time of year it’s sparkly magic is the tradition in which it is seeped in.

There’s nothing better than cozying up in front of a fire and a well-dressed tree with some popcorn and a great movie. So let’s take a look at some of our old favorite movies that we will watch year after year, as well as some new ones you may have never thought of. Perhaps you might start a new tradition this year!

The Classics
Classics are called classics for a reason. They have timeless and wonderful messages that still pull on our heartstrings to this day.
A Christmas Story – A story about a boy, a Red Ryder BB gun and why you should never lick a frozen street lamp.
It’s A Wonderful Life – A beautiful lesson in why everyone is important to somebody.
Miracle on 34th Street – A cheerful movie about how it doesn't matter if Santa is real or not.
A Charlie Brown Christmas – This was one of the very first movies to ever quote bible verse to explain the real meaning of Christmas.
White Christmas – Who doesn’t get choked up when the soldiers sing to the General?

Family Favorites For Any Age
The following list is for the whole family to watch together while nibbling on candy canes and warming toes by the fire.
Elf– What happens when Buddy the Elf leaves the North Pole in search of his dad in NYC, who also happens to be on the “Naughty List”? Comedy ensues.
Home Alone – Little Kevin’s family forgot him at home on Christmas. I’m sure he’ll be just fine, right?
Shrek The Halls – If you’re a fan of the Shrek films, this will be right up your alley.
Frosty The Snowman – Who doesn’t remember watching this when they were a child (back when we had to get up to change the channel on the TV)?
How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr.Suess can do no wrong with this holiday tale.

Movies That Are Probably Best Watched After Bed Time
If sometimes you just want to spike the eggnog and watch a movie that might shock your grandmother’s delicate sensibilities, then these Christmas movies are for you.
Love Actually – While 90 percent of this movie would be considered PG, the matchmaking of one couple might make a few blush.
Bad Santa – Tasteless, crude, vulgar, and completely hilarious.
Christmas Vacation – Some may argue this is a family movie, and while I agree, I must warn you, there are a few “adult” words mixed in. Still one of the best Christmas movies of all time.
Four Christmases – A cute movie about spending time with your family and hating every minute of it.
Fred Clause – How do you compete if your brother is Santa Clause?

Are there any movies that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments.

Nicole Yontz is a contributing writer to the website What To Expect and a personal blogger at

Daytime Christmas Bazaar

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Published: 12/09/2012
Potomac Crest Baptist Church (15418 Cardinal Drive, Woodbridge) will be the venue for a Christmas Bazaar on Thursday, December 13th from 1-4pm.  Unlike most Bazaars, this one will take place during the school day, so you can shop without children! Have infants? Childcare will be available for a small fee ($2/hour per child) for children ages 2 and under.  That means you can shop uninterrupted.  

Hope to see you there! 

Holiday Cheer at The Marketplace at Madison Crescent

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Published: 12/07/2012 sponsor The Marketplace at Madison Crescent has a fun event for the whole family tomorrow, including face painting, hot chocolate and giveaways! Don't forget to pick up your coupon book while you're there! 

Giveaway: Children's Nutcracker in Prince William County

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Published: 12/04/2012

A great Nutcracker option in Prince William County has a giveaway for PwcMoms readers! 

'Tis the season for the magic of Herr Drosselmeyer, a Christmas tree that grows from deep within our hearts as part of a fantastical dream, and the herald of music and mice in a great battle scene. A Children's Nutcracker will be performed by the dancers of Gainesville Ballet School on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 5 PM. The cast includes both pre-professionals and professionals in its seventh year of productionAbout 100 students from public, private and home schools across six counties in Northern Virginia will be among those to dance in the 2012 performance. A family tradition for all ages - come celebrate the Kingdom of Sweets this year at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia.  In the spirit of the holidays, one family four-pack of tickets will be awarded as a holiday gift to the readers of Prince William County Moms.  Simply post a comment here, and one family will be randomly-selected.
Gainesville Ballet features local talent from Bristow, Centreville, Front Royal, Gainesville, Haymarket, Manassas, South Riding, Warrenton, Winchester and surrounding areas, with a distinctive style of discipline and grace that radiates from teacher, to student, to community, and beyond.  On 6 May, Gainesville Ballet School was honored as Outstanding Arts Organization during the 2012 Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence. Each year, the Seefeldt Awards recognize individuals and organizations who have contributed to the strength and success of the local arts.  Read more about A Children’s Nutcracker online:

Gainesville Ballet is providing a family 4 pack of tickets.  Leave a comment here that you'd like to go, and we'll randomly select a winner on December 6th, 2012 at 8pm.  Be sure to leave some kind of identifying information (a last name or email address typed "kristina (at) yahoo (dot) com") so that we can get in touch with you. 

Good luck! 
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