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.

Done.

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.

Brilliant!

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 viawww.AcademyofRussianBalletVA.com 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 MAzurero@belajuliphotography.com 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 TheBetterHalfBlogs.com.










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

PwcMoms.com 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:http://gainesvilleballetschool.org/nutcracker

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! 

ICE! at the Gaylord National

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Published: 11/26/2012
My family was very fortunate to be invited to the Gaylord National Hotel and Conference Center to check out ICE! this year.  ICE! has become something of a holiday mainstay here in the DC Area, and while it's technically in Maryland's National Harbor, it's only a 35 or so minute drive up 95, making it totally trip-worthy from Prince William County. 
Hubby wasn't available to come with us, because our even time was 1pm.  To those of you out there who are aware what that means this time of year, I feel your pain.  To those of you who aren't clear what I'm talking about, I'd like to refer you here: 1 PM IS NOT OKAY That was okay, though, because PwcGrammy is always game for shenanigans with the grandkids. 

Before you head into ICE you get to watch a short film about the production process, which includes flying in a team of artisans from China who produce a giant outdoor ice show each year because it's so blasted cold where they live that the entire river turns into ice and they can make sculptures that last all winter.  For real. Obviously here we don't have that problem, so they've put the ice sculptures inside two giant tents (think the white domes they put over your tennis courts if you live in Montclair) that they cool to a balmy 8 or 9 degrees. To prepare you for this, everyone gets a standard issue blue parka to go OVER your coat.  Bring a hat, gloves, and a scarf, though, because it's COLD.  Taking my gloves off to take pictures with my iphone made my fingers sad.  PS- you'll want lots of pictures because those parkas are bringing sexy back. Check out me and my mom huggling for warmth.  You know you wish you looked that good ;-)

I've been told by numerous readers that the best time during peak season to visit ICE is on a weekday.  We were there on a Sunday, but since it was still November we didn't experience any real crowds. Even without the crowds, I'd recommend that if it's possible for your family you take one adult per child, or at least 2 adults, because when we got into the slide room, we were losing track of kids left and right as they went down the various slides at different speeds.  Some of you may be calmer than me about that, but everyone was so blue! It was like trying to find a specific Smurf in a crowd, and that made me rather nervous.  However, the kids had a blast and quickly figured out that to maximize your speed on the slides, you need to get your feet up and make sure your blue coat is under you.  There are a total of 6 slides, and the ice stairs are covered with carpet, so you won't trip. 



 


The ice sculptures themselves are absolutely amazing.  Thinking that these were all just giant blocks of frozen water when they arrived is mind-boggling.  My kids loved all of the funny scenes from "Shrek the Halls" and recognized many of the characters, which made them happy.  I could not believe the craftsmenship that went into making everything.  I believe that our entire walk through the displays, including sliding, took about 30 minutes.  The setup is flat and the walkways are wide, though, so if you are bringing someone who will require a wheelchair, accessibility should not be an issue.

The final display at the end of ICE! is a gorgeous nativity scene done in all clear ice.  When you're facing the scene, there's a giant clear angel behind you.  The display lights up every few minutes and tells the Christmas story.  Imbedded lights color the characters as they're mentioned and make the nativity be a rainbow of colors.  It's pretty awesome. Pricing information is available here and starts at $15.99 for kids 4-11 and $22.99 for adults (weekday) going up to $22.99/$29.99 on the weekends.  Military discounts are available on weekdays and some weekends, and start $13.99/$18.99.  Children 0-3 are free. 

So, after you finish walking around ICE! There's a lot of other stuff that you can do. For $35, you can meet the Dreamworks characters (Shrek, Po, Puss in Boots, Alex the Lion) and participate in a scavenger hunt that's themed for the movie "The Guardians", which my 6 year old liked for awhile, my 9 (9!) year old loved, and my 4 year old thought was torturous because she couldn't read and can't write small enough to fit in the blanks provided.  She did like meeting the characters, though.  This is a walk-through and you spend about 30 seconds with each character shooting a few pictures, which are available for purchase at the end of the walk. At the end of the scavenger hunt, your kids get a movie poster and a certificate, assuming they filled out all of the blanks correctly. We also tried making cookies at Gingy's House (my daughter is not actually unimpressed with the cookie, she's upset that I told her not to eat her cookie until I took a picture.  My blog needs totally cramp her style).  After you finish decorating your cookies (you can select a gingerbread train or a sugar cookie stackable tree) 

When you're done decorating your cookies, you can visit Gingy and get a few pictures.  Kits for this start at $29.95.  Gingy was really cute, and the kids had fun, but the kits are just flat cookies, so if you're looking to keep prices down...

I thought this sign was hilarious....so, here's a picture of it.

Also available (but we didn't try them) are a ShrekFeast where you eat with the characters, brunch with Santa, pictures with Santa, Potomac Express rides (a mini train in the hotel atrium- rides are $2 and I know Supernovamommy.com's son loves the train).  You can also package all of these things together with a hotel stay, and I have to say, I'd never been to the Gaylord before and it is absolutely breathtaking.  It's the kind of hotel that you see in movies about hotels.  Everything is spot on and gorgeous. 

At the end of our visit, we were able to check out the nightly treelighting show, which is amazing.  The lights and fountain dance, the music is great, and at the end it "snows" down into the atrium.  The kids thought this was really neat, although I think they were expecting an actual blizzard.  They liked the flurry anyway. I would literally go just to see the treelighting again.  It was amazing.  These happen at 6:30pm and 9:00pm every night from November 17th-January 6th. If your kids are old enough, you could make a complete day of this by taking part in whatever Dreamworks Experiences you'd like, and then staying for Family Fun and Fireworks in the National Harbor Plaza.  They start live music at 5, you could come in and warm up with the Christmas Tree Lighting at 6:30, and still be outside in time for fireworks at 7! Brilliant!

All said and done, this was an amazing experience.  It can definitely add up quickly, but it's an amazing thing for the kids.  Have you been? Leave a comment letting us know your experience!

PwcMoms was provided with tickets to ICE! The Character Meet and Greet/Scavenger Hunt, and Gingy's Gingerbread Decorating.  All opinions are my own.

Christmas/Advent (Or whatever) Countdown

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Published: 11/26/2012
Quite possibly the easiest craft you'll ever do! You could easily alter this project to be a countdown to Hannukah (use blue and white peppermint patties!) or Easter (pink, yellow, and green wrapped candy), or even a child's birthday. If you prefer not to use candy, a small toy or trinket would fit, too! You could also easily dress this craft up (Look at THESE!!), but we planned this craft for our CC friends to come over and do, so I wanted it to be easy enough for the kids to do fairly independently.

Here's what you'll need:
Ribbon (curling or fabric, either is fine), number printouts, quotation printouts (optional, but included at the end of this post.  You could also just use the numbers), scissors, a one-hole punch, plastic wrap, mixed Christmas wrapped Hershey Kisses. I like using my ironing board for this craft so that I can lay the plastic wrap out, but a long kitchen table would be fine, too! If you have a stampin up circle cutter that can fit around your numbers, all the better!!

This process could not be any easier! Spread out your plastic wrap. I've found that for 3-4 kids (so 3-4 kisses in each bundle) I need about 5.5 feet of plastic wrap. If you need extra, it's easy to add by tying it into a bundle and it sticking to the other piece, so no worries if you're short. For 2 kids I think 4.5 feet is enough. At the top of your wrap, use several colors of ribbon to tie a bow, using one piece to tie a loop so you can hang your countdown up!
Next, bundle in one piece of candy per child per night, tying securely under each bundle with ribbon. For an Advent countdown, you obviously need to have enough "bundles" to get from 1-25!
Next, cut out your numbers. I got mine from HERE and I think they're so cute! (Plus it's a free download!) You could mount these on Christmas paper, or you can put them on top of folded scripture cards, or you can just use them alone. Hole punch each card once so that you can thread it onto the ribbon between each section. The number goes under the candy it goes with so that when you untie it to take the number off, you get the candy above it, and then next number and its candy stay securely tied!
I love how it looks for two kids because you can put the kisses in a diamond shape and they fit so nicely!! For more kids it's a little harder to bundle nicely, but it works out!!
Fun! Some other versions that work, too, include printing numbered cards with quotes on them, or glueing your numbers onto folded scripture verses (we did these at a church I worked at):
After this post, you can get versions of my devotional scripture readings to go along with the countdown, or a more "meditational" version I designed with some quotes, carol verses, and a little less scripture. I printed these using a 4.5 inch margin on the left so that they could be folded over into cards with the number on the front. Again, you could also just use the numbers. I'm including these because it'll save those of you that want them tons of time trying to pick what you want to use.  If you don't think you're interested, then just don't keep reading :)

Happy Crafting!


Less scripture, more quotes and carols:
"Maybe Christmas", he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!" Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:9-11
O holy Child of Bethlehem Descend to us, we pray Cast out our sin and enter in Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell O come to us, abide with us Our Lord Emmanuel
The simple shepherds heard the voice of an angel and found their lamb; the wise men saw the light of a star and found their wisdom. - Fulton J. Sheen
What can I give Him, Poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part. Yet what can I give Him? I give Him my heart.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6
Joy to the World, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat, the sounding joyWise Men Still Seek Him
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 7
Away in a manger, No crib for His bed The little Lord Jesus Laid down His sweet head The stars in the bright sky Looked down where He lay The little Lord Jesus Asleep on the hay
If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: "God with us." -John F. MacArthur
And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find
a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:10-12
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15 God rest ye merry, gentlemen Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour Was born on Christmas day To save us all from Satan's power When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy O tidings of comfort and joy
Christmas gift suggestions: to your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a
friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect. Oren Arnold
You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father's face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift. John R. Rice
What if December Looked different this year What if we all just Give this Christmas away If there's love in your heart Don't let it stay there Give this Christmas away And your life will be changed By the gifts you receive When you give this Christmas away -Matthew West
More than a child born in the hay,Jesus, my Lord, on that first Christmas day. More than the son of a carpenter man; You carried the weight of the world in Your hand. For You are the Hope of my soul, All that I see, and all that I know.
-Larry Holder
Happy Birthday, Jesus! I’m so glad it’s Christmas! All the tinsel and lights, and the presents are nice, but the real gift is you. -Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
We all get so hung up on material things at times it seems like we forget what Christmas really means It should be thanks we’re givin’, that’s why I wrote this tune Happy Birthday, Jesus, this song is just for you.
-Teddy Gentry
Come on, what have you got to lose -- only
everything -- by considering this greatest of all stories? Maybe you believed the story as a child, but with maturity came skepticism and later unbelief. It truly is the ultimate gift and it has your (and my) name on it. It fits all who try it on and has the additional benefit of having been paid for by someone else. This gift never wears out.
-Cal Thomas
Teach them the true meaning of Christmas, for it is that which has been forgotten. “Letter from Santa”
To think of how it could have been If Jesus had come as He deserved There would have been no Bethlehem No lowly shepherds at His birth But Joseph knew the reason The love had to reach so far. -Jump5
This, this is Christ the King whom Shepherds laud and angels sing! Haste, haste to bring him praise, the babe the son of Mary.
 


More scripture and reflection devotional:
 


The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2 We call Jesus the light of the world. In the winter, days are shorter and darkness seems to last longer. Just like the Christmas lights and candles that light our streets and churches in December, Jesus can light our lives all year.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Talk to your children about the circle of evergreen branches in an Advent wreath. The circle reminds us of God's never ending love, evergreen branches represent faithfulness as they remain green, the center Christ candle reminds us that Christ is the reason for Christmas.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37 Red and green are used for Christmas, but the traditional color for Advent is purple to remind us of royalty. Purple was a royal color, worn mostly by kings. The color reminds us that even though he came as a baby, Jesus was still a King.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:1-3 Advent is a time of preparation. We prepare our homes, our presents, special meals, and we also prepare our hearts for Christ. As you prepare your home, remember who you’re really preparing for.
It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done Psalm 92:1-5 Music and worship are important parts of Christmas!When we sing carols like Away in a Manger or O Come O Come Emmanuel, we are praising God and remembering why we celebrate Christmas.
Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and had in mind to divorce her quietly. But an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. Matthew 1:18-22, 24 Sometimes, trusting God can be hard, but he always keeps his promises, which Mary and Joseph must have learned first hand.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 Gifts have become an important part of Christmas, but we give them to remember that Jesus was the best gift of all. Sometimes it’s hard to remember Jesus’ gift is real- but remind your children they are confident there will be presents Christmas day, even if they have to wait without seeing.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
God showed us His love by sending His Son as a gift to the world. Think of ways we show each other we love each other, and how much greater still God’s love is.
They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him Mark 15:17 Advent is a time when Christians reflect on Christ becoming human in order to sacrifice himself for the salvation of all people. Purple is the color of royalty, but also of suffering. Just like trees remind us of Jesus’ birth (Christmas trees), and his death (on the wooden cross).
Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. Deuteronomy 32:7 What are your Christmas traditions? Do you decorate with the evergreens and holly used in older European traditions that represent the ongoing life? If you don't have traditions, start one. Traditions help us remember things in the past as we celebrate those things today.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1 Every day, God decorates the world with sunsets, stars, and nature. When you decorate this season, reflect how God makes our world beautiful each day.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel
said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12
The angels' announcement of the birth of Christ was the first proclamation of the good news that Jesus was born. We proclaim things all the time- “It’s time for school!” or “Dinner!”, but this proclamation might have been the best in history!
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:15
The shepherds were the first to hear about the birth of Jesus. Though they were not highly regarded by, God chose to share the Good News of Jesus with these people first. Jesus came to save everyone, not just the rich or the famous.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 When we celebrate with things like cards, we can love other people by remembering them. Sending a card to someone in a nursing home or a soldier overseas is a great way to show your, and God’s, love.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 The third week of Advent is about joy. If you are using an Advent wreath, the candle for this week is pink. Our joy comes from our faith in Christ Jesus, and we should share that joy with others!
The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:45- 46 Jesus is the Light of the World. He makes it easier for us to experience God by being present with us. This week, we rejoice with those who were able to see the Father's light through Jesus and anticipate Jesus' return.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:2-3
Christmas is a time that is full of joy. The angels brought abundant joy to Bethlehem with their announcement. Remember their joy as you continue preparing. Try making angel sugar cookies
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
As Christmas day draws closer, more and more lights appear on houses and rooftops. As you walk around these lights, talk about Christ as the Light that guides their steps through every season of life.
Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Psalm 98:1-3 "Joy to the world! The Lord is come!" As you sing this song be sure to remember that the real joy of Christmas is found in the birth of Christ.
After Jesus was born Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied....On coming to the house, the Magi saw the child with his mother, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Matthew 2:1-5a, 10 The wise men, also known as the Magi, are some of the most familiar characters in the Christmas story. Today, we remember that Wise Men Still Seek Him.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11
Because Jesus was a king, He could have been born in a royal palace with many servants, but He chose to come among regular people in a shelter meant for animals. What does this tell us about Jesus? How does it show Jesus' humility? How does it show the Father's love?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 The final week of Advent is to remind us of peace. Jesus brings peace into our lives, and if we trust God, he will not let the fear or stress of the world rule our lives. Any holiday can become stressful, remember to invite Christ’s peace into your home this season, and all year.
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. Luke 1:26-38,46-55 Mary, the mother of Jesus, chose to suddenly give up her life and her body to God. In Luke, however, we
read "Mary's Song." Mary is joyful! We, too, can work to have hearts full of love and obedience, just like Mary's. You can read the full version in Luke 1:46-55.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect 1 Peter 3:15; Many people are confused about Christmas. Advertisers say it’s about buying. Linus from the “Peanuts” has another idea, and so does Charles Dickens in “A Christmas Carol”. "Twas the Night Before Christmas" says it’s about Santa. How would you answer someone who asks what Christmas is about for you?
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4
Children are special to God. Jesus could have come any way he wanted to, but he chose to come as a baby. He grew up as a child, and he even told his disciples to become like little children. That means even the smallest person this Christmas season is hugely important to God.
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. Luke 2:16- 18
After seeing Jesus, the shepherds went and told the good news of the birth of Christ. Christ commanded all Christians to go and share the Good News of His salvation. Christmas is a great time for us to share the Good News, too.
Luke 2:5-32 In years past, Christmas Eve was the traditional night for the hanging of the greenery in the church, though nowadays most congregations and families decorate long before Dec. 24. This delayed decoration represented the transition from a time of waiting and preparation to one of exuberant joy. Tomorrow morning, be sure to celebrate before you start anything else. Read the Christmas story or sing “Happy Birthday”, and remember what the presents and tree are all about.

"Caring Santa" returns to Potomac Mills

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Published: 11/09/2012
EXCLUSIVE “CARING SANTA” EVENT TO BE HELD FOR FAMILIES AFFECTED BY AUTISM AT POTOMAC MILLS ON DECEMBER 9
WHAT: The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming for the estimated six out of every 1,000 children diagnosed with autism. To help those children enjoy an important part of the holiday experience, Potomac Mills, along with WorldWide Photography, will host an exclusive sensory-friendly Santa meet and greet experience for families of those affected by autism or a sensory processing disorder. This unique “Caring Santa” event will allow children to enjoy one of the holiday’s joyous memories – taking a photo on Santa’s lap.
For the event, the lights around the Santa set will be dim and staff will be instructed to avoid loud, distracting movements. In addition, families will not have to wait in line, but will sign in and be called when it is their turn. Children will be provided with complimentary coloring sheets while they wait.
WHEN: Sunday, December 9
9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
WHERE: Potomac Mills (Fashion Court – Neighborhood 1)
2700 Potomac Mills Circle
Woodbridge, VA 22192

COST: Visits with Santa are free; photo packages will be available for purchase
FOR MORE
INFO: Call Guest Services at (703) 496-9330, visit www.potomacmills.com or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PotomacMills.
 


Winter and Christmas 2012

Permalink to Winter%20and%20Christmas%202012
Published: 11/07/2012
Looking for family-friendly or kid-friendly Winter and Christmas events? Here's what I know about happening in Prince William County this year!! Please share this link with your religious groups and community organizations, because I'm more than happy to keep adding!

November 10th Santa's Old Bridge Parade will run from Lake Ridge Middle School to the Exxon at the corner of Old Bridge and Smoketown Roads. 10am start time.

November 18th Santa Breakfast and Craft Fair at St. Benedict Monastery in Bristow Don't miss the annual Holyday/Holiday Sale at the St. Benedict Monastery. Unique gifts and handcrafted items made by the Sisters, Oblates and friends as well as homemade goodies from the Monastery pantry -- jams, jellies and breads. Holiday decorations including advent wreaths, exquisite ornaments and roping. Be sure to join us on Saturday for complimentary wine tasting. Santa joins the fun on Sunday for a pancake breakfast. 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow VA 703-361-0106


November 18th from 2-4pm, Gainesville Ballet School and Tea Time Tea Room will host a Nutcracker Tea Party.  Tickets are $15 and available online




















  • November 23rd, 2012 at 7:00 pm, the Hylton Performing Arts Center presents "All I Want for Christmas". When a letter arrives at the North Pole infected with the highly contagous "Gimme! Gimme! Flu Virus", chaos ensues. Will the elves conquer the flu? Will they get the toys ready in time? From the treasured holiday favorites to thilling new discoveries around every corner, a tale that twists and entertains as it transports you from the exciting lights of New York City to the charm of Santa's workshop at the North Pole. Kick off the holiday season with Encore Theatrical Arts Project's "All I Want For Christmas". This enchanting song and dance extravaganza is a delight for all audiences young and old alike. Tickets are available online.

November 23rd at Pump It Up Manassas- Looking for a fun night out after too much turkey? House full of family & friends that you need to entertain? We'll have DJ Derrick with the tunes, Karaoke, GLOW, plenty of playtime, pizza dinner and a sweet treat to round out the night of fun! Special early bird pricing of 20% off until 11/18!

November 24th, 2012 at 1:00 pm, November 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm the Hylton Performing Arts Center presents "All I Want for Christmas". When a letter arrives at the North Pole infected with the highly contagous "Gimme! Gimme! Flu Virus", chaos ensues. Will the elves conquer the flu? Will they get the toys ready in time? From the treasured holiday favorites to thilling new discoveries around every corner, a tale that twists and entertains as it transports you from the exciting lights of New York City to the charm of Santa's workshop at the North Pole. Kick off the holiday season with Encore Theatrical Arts Project's "All I Want For Christmas". This enchanting song and dance extravaganza is a delight for all audiences young and old alike. Tickets are available online.

November 25th, the Hylton Performing Arts Center will present Chanticleer: A Chanticleer Christmas at 4:00pm. Tickets are avialable online.  (As a personal aside, I geek out on a cappella groups, so I highly recommend this concert.)

November 30th, Historic Manassas will host their annual Christmas Tree Lighting at 9101 Prince William Street (the Manassas Museum Lawn).  This event runs from 5:30-8pm.



















November 30th, you can float in the (Indoor) pool and watch "Arthur Christmas"which my favorite move review company (Common Sense Media) ranks as being good for ages 5 and up with no religious undertones (Santa Only).



 

November 30th, the Workhouse will host Arts on the Horizon's "Drumming with Dishes: The Holiday Edition", which is aimed at children ages 0-6 and runs 35 minutes.  Details and tickets on their website.

December 1st, Old Town Manassas will host its annual Christmas Parade at 10am. For more details or a map, visit their website here

December 1st at 8pm, the Hylton Performing Arts Center will feature Dailey & Vincent: A Bluegrass Christmas.  Tickets are available online

December 1st, the Workhouse will host Arts on the Horizon's "Drumming with Dishes: The Holiday Edition", which is aimed at children ages 0-6 and runs 35 minutes. Details and tickets on their website.

December 1st, Town of Dumfries invites you to join us for an evening of fun decorating the Town’s Christmas tree, holiday poetry readings, caroling, and spreading Holiday Cheer with Santa! Join us at the Christmas Tree Lighting on Saturday, December 1st from 5pm-7pm at Garrison, behind Town Hall (17755 Main Street, Dumfries, VA 22026).
December 2nd, Old Town Manassas will have decorations and open houses at all the shops from 12-5pm.  There will be refreshments in every store, entertainment in several, and Santa will be on the walkway for pictures.  Free carriage rides will leave from the Train Depot from 1-4pm. 

December 2nd, the Workhouse will host Arts on the Horizon's "Drumming with Dishes: The Holiday Edition", which is aimed at children ages 0-6 and runs 35 minutes. Details and tickets on their website.

December 6th at 8pm, the Hylton Performing Arts Center will present "Swing Machine Big Band Christmas Celebration".  Tickets are available online. 



December 6th, Manassas Park Community Center will offer a decorate your own ornament craft.  $3/pp all supplies provided. 



















December 7th at 8pm, the Hylton Performing Arts Center presents "Natalie MacMaster: Christmas in Cape Breton".  Tickets are available online.

December 7th, the Workhouse will host Arts on the Horizon's "Drumming with Dishes: The Holiday Edition", which is aimed at children ages 0-6 and runs 35 minutes. Details and tickets on their website.

December 8th- 5:45-7pm Manassas Parks and Recreation will host a Light Parade



















December 8th- A 1940s Christmas will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.at Rippon Lodge Historic Site, 15520 Blackburn Road, Woodbridge. What were holiday celebrations like during World War II? The Ellis family hosted many a party here at the Lodge during the war. Join in for music, refreshments and holiday crafts for kids. Dress for the weather. Call 703-499-9812 or visit www.pwcgov.org/historicpreservation. Cost is $7, children under 6 free.

December 8th from 11am-4pm, the History of Santa Claus and the Gift Giver at Rippon Lodge Historic Site, 15520 Blackburn Road, Woodbridge. Learn about the customs and traditions of this mysterious fellow who brings gifts to children. Crafts, games and stories will be offered throughout the day. Call 703-499-9812 or visit www.pwcgov.org/historicpreservation. Cost is $7.


December 8th from 9am-3pm, OBUMC Women's Bible Study will offer a craft fair at Tiptoe Eagle HAll (13456 Minnieville Road Woodbridge) 


December 8th at 8:30am, come meet Santa while enjoying breakfast, games, and arts & crafts! This is a non-religious community event open to everyone. Gainesville United Methodist Church (13710 Milestone Ct Gainesville, VA 20155) Free event for ages 0-12 years. Sponsored by Patriot High School Leadership Class in partnership with Gainesville United Methodist Church and The Arc of Greater Prince William.

December 8th Chick-fil-A Warrenton (256 West Lee Highway, Warrenton) will host a breakfast with Santa from 8:30-10:30am.  Each child will recieve a treat from Santa and from the CFA Cow.  



December 8th from 9am-3pm Gar-Field High School, located at 14000 Smoketown Road in Woodbridge will host its 28th annual Holiday Craft Show. The show will be held indoors and features over 150 spaces of homemade craft and food items and benefits the music department. 

December 8th, the Workhouse will host Arts on the Horizon's "Drumming with Dishes: The Holiday Edition", which is aimed at children ages 0-6 and runs 35 minutes. Details and tickets on their website
.
December 8th The Town of Dumfries invites you to join us for our “38th Annual Christmas-Holiday Parade!” The parade will begin promptly at 1pm at Town Hall (17755 Main Street, Dumfries, VA 22026), and will end in the far end of Dumfries Shopping Plaza-where we will have a festive area featuring a DJ in the Showmobile, time for pictures with Santa, and parade winners will be announced here! Bring the family and join us for our annual parade!




















December 8th at 5:00pm and 8:00pm, the Manassas Chorale will present "Glorious Noel" at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.  Tickets are available online

December 8th from 1:00-2:30pm, Edgemoor Art Studio will offer a Chocolate Sculpting Class for ages 4-6. The class is $35 and all materials are provided. 

December 8th at 3pm, the Nokesville Ruritans will offer their annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting, which Delegate Anderson touts as the best in PWC. 

December 8th at 5pm, Gainesville Ballet School presents their annual Children's Nutcracker at Battlefield High School (15000 Graduation Drive, Haymarket VA 20169) Tickets are available online. 



















December 8th from 4:00-6:00pm, Edgemoor Art Studio will offer a Chocolate Sculpting Class for ages 7 and up. The class is $45 and all materials are provided. 

December 8th from 11am-3pm build a Gingerbread House at Leesylvania State Park and support "Trevor's Treasures". Build a holiday memory by donating a toy for a good cause and decorating gingerbread houses, a sweet tradition for all ages. All proceeds will go to Trevor's Treasures (http://trevorstreasures.org). We ask that there are no stuffed animals and prefer packaged toys so that they can be wiped down prior to entering the Pediatric Oncology Unit.

December 8th at 7pm, The Prince William County Children's Choir and New Dominion Choraliers will offer a Christmas Performance.  Adults are $15 and children are $5.  Tickets will be available at the door.  Hylton Memorial Chapel 14640 Potomac Mills Road Woodbridge, VA 22192

December 8th from 5-7pm Kick off the holidays with a tree lighting, music and refreshments at historic Lucasville School (10516 Godwin Drive Manassas). Lucasville is a reconstructed one-room school house used to interpret post- Civil War African American education in the community. Tour the facility and also listen while the Christmas classic "Twas the night before Christmas" is read. Staff will also be on hand to collect donations for Toys for Tots. Parking is available on Godwin Drive. Please arrive a few minutes before the  5 p.m. tree lighting event. Rain date: Dec. 15

December 8th Pink Bicycle Tea Room will host breakfast with Santa.  Reservations required.

December 9th Pink Bicycle Tea Room will host breakfast with Santa. Reservations required.

December 9th at 7pm, The Prince William County Children's Choir and New Dominion Choraliers will offer a Christmas Performance. Adults are $15 and children are $5. Tickets will be available at the door. Hylton Memorial Chapel 14640 Potomac Mills Road Woodbridge, VA 22192

December 9th, the Workhouse will host Arts on the Horizon's "Drumming with Dishes: The Holiday Edition", which is aimed at children ages 0-6 and runs 35 minutes. Details and tickets on their website.

December 9th Good Shepherd United Methodist Church (13999 Birchdale Avenue Dale City) will offer a "Night in Bethlehem" from 6pm to 8pm.  This event has a $5 per family donation requested. 























December 9th Potomac Mills Mall will offer a "Caring Santa" experience for children with sensory sensitivity issues. Details here

December 9th, Free carriage rides will leave from the Train Depot in Old Town Manassas from 1-4pm. 

December 9th at 3:30pm and 7:30pm, the Hylton Performing Arts Center will present the Asaph Dance Ensemble's "Clara's Christmas".  Tickets are available online.

December 10th and 17th (2 part class), Edgemoor Art Studio will offer a Holiday Ornament Class for ages 4-6. The class is $40 and all materials are provided. 

December 14th at 7:30 pm, the Manassas Ballet Theatre will present "The Nutcracker" at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.  Tickets are available online

December 15th at 3:00 pm, the Manassas Ballet Theatre will present "The Nutcracker" at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.  Tickets are available online

December 15th and 20th (2 part class), Edgemoor Art Studio will offer a Holiday Ornament Class for ages 7 and up. The class is $40 and all materials are provided. 

December 19th from 5:00-7:00pm, Edgemoor Art Studio will offer a Chocolate Sculpting Class for ages 7 and up. The class is $45 and all materials are provided. 

December 21st at 8:00pm the Hylton Performing Arts Center presents Pops: Songs of the Season.  Tickets are available online

December 22nd at 7:30 pm, the Manassas Ballet Theatre will present "The Nutcracker" at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.  Tickets are available online

December 23rd at 3:00 pm, the Manassas Ballet Theatre will present "The Nutcracker" at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.  Tickets are available online

December 24th Children's Services:
Good Shepherd United Methodist (14999 Birchdale Ave Dale City) will offer a 6pm Family Service and Birthday Party for Jesus, games & birthday cake will begin the evening.  Please bring a new baby item as your gift to baby Jesus.  We will then have a family friendly worship service in our sanctuary with hands on music & message.  Our special time will conclude with Silent Night sung with glow sticks you get to keep.  No childcare available because we want all the children in worship to celebrate Jesus birthday!  Adult services will be at 8pm (nursery available) and 11pm (no childcare)



Willing to leave PWC? Check out my friend SuperNovaMommy's Guide for Fairfax/Lorton

Holiday Fun at Bobby McKeys

Permalink to Holiday%20Fun%20at%20Bobby%20McKeys
Published: 10/22/2012
National Harbor features lots of fun, and while it's not in Prince William County, I believe it's got our closest dueling Piano Bar!! Check out their fun Kids Days coming up for the Holidays, including one with Santa. 


daytime playtime - a fun place to Learn.... a great place to Grow A Play Gym Designed for Parents and Children Aged 10 Months to 4 1/2 Years... Majest Martial Arts - Montclair