Drop and Shop at Rebounderz

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Published: 11/11/2015

Newsies at the National!

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Published: 05/26/2015

I am so excited that Newsies is coming to the National Theatre in DC! (June 9-21!)

This could be because when I was in High School, Newsies indicated that we had a substitute teacher in Choir, and I was going to be able to start on my 4-6 hours of homework a little early.

It could also be because now is the time to seize the day.  Your choice.

They delivered the papers, until they made the headlines…Direct from Broadway comes NEWSIES, the smash-hit, crowd-pleasing new musical from Disney. Winner of the 2012 Tony Awards® for Best Score and Best Choreography, NEWSIES has audiences and critics alike calling it “A MUSICAL WORTH SINGING ABOUT!” (The New York Times). Filled with one heart-pounding number after another, it’s a high-energy explosion of song and dance you just don’t want to miss.
Based on true events, NEWSIES tells the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. It’s a rousing tale about fighting for what’s right…and staying true to who you are.
NEWSIES was brought to the stage by an award-winning creative team. It features a score by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast) and Jack Feldman (The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride) and a book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles), with choreography by Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific) and direction by Jeff Calhoun (Big River).

Whether you think it's a Fine Life, or you'd like to be King of New York- Newsies is a great musical with a fantastic message!

Want to go? I've got a pair of tickets to give away to the June 10th show! Visit my facebook page for details on how to win!

As with all of our giveaways, prize is provided by the sponsoring organization, and our giveaway rules apply.

Conversations off the Couch: June 6th Winery at La Grange

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Published: 05/21/2015

Group Therapy Associates is offering a "Conversations off the Couch" program at the Winery at La Grange- which sounds pretty fantastic to me!

The couples class will feature the topic of communication with local experts facilitating, ready to answer your questions and give advice, in a social setting rather than a clinic, while enjoying the company of great people who share your interests and struggles!

Tickets for two people are $165 total, which includes a catered lunch, wine and sangria tastings, a signed book, an expert panel discussion, and an open Q&A.  If you're going to go out, you may as well help your relationship while you're having fun!!

Click HERE to register! But hurry! Tickets are only available until MAY 26th!! 

Leesylvania State Park 2015 Event Calendar

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Published: 05/03/2015
Leesylvania State Park always has a series of fun events for summer!! Join them outside for some great fun in the sun! Whether it's Naitonal Kids to Park Day or Music at the Marina, it'll be a fun (and low-cost!) time! 

Review: Peace of Pottery

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Published: 01/19/2015

 I love this kid.  He's awesome.  He's funny and smart and he does hilarious voices and impersonations.  He's the first person to comfort someone who feels left out or scared, and he's just an all around great person.  He's also the middle kid, so that makes getting alone time all the more special to him.  We had some time on Saturday to hang out, just the two of us.  I decided that we'd grab lunch and visit Peace of Pottery- which is located at 9838 Libera Ave in Manassas just across from the car wash.
 If you've never been to a paint your own pottery establishment, this one works pretty much the same way all of them do.  When you come in there are a large variety of plain white pottery pieces for you to choose from.  Little statues of animals, plates, bowls, tea pots, big small, inbetween.  Each piece has a different price, so be sure to set a budget before you go in.  Peace of Pottery also charges a $6 studio fee on top of the price of the pottery (some studios include this fee in the price of the piece, others charge it separately- either way you're paying it).
 There are plenty of tables, you can sit and enjoy a quiet afternoon or you can host a party (scout troop, large family, etc). Logan and I each picked a mug.  Mine had polka dots and Logan opted for a mug with a "mouth" for cookies. The first step is to wash your piece of pottery and then you pick out glaze colors.  To get an even, non-streaky finish, the owner recommended three coats of glaze, which takes a little bit of time, but getting on base colors is pretty mindless work and we had a lot of fun chatting while we worked.
I didn't get a picture of my finished mug, but I thought that Logan's minion mug turned out really cute.  He's planning to make some banana cookies to eat with his tea when we get it back on Saturday (firing turnaround is about a week).

Peace of Pottery is a lovely, inviting space.  It's not a cheap afternoon- we spent $45.92 for two mugs, so it was perfect for a one-on-one day, but isn't something I'd just do on the spur of the moment with all three kids (which would have put me closer to $100 assuming they'd all picked mugs and not something bigger).  Pottery parties, on the other hand, start at $19 per person, so if you have a large group of kids you'd like to take, that could be a great way to keep your costs a little lower.

We definitely had a fun time and enjoyed the laid back, peaceful atmosphere.  I'd definitely recommend Peace of Pottery for a fun afternoon or a great venue for a party if you've got a kid with a little artistic flair!

Disclaimer: We just went to Peace of Pottery.  Nobody invited us or asked for a review.  All opinions are our own.

Review: Malones of Manassas

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Published: 10/21/2014
I feel like I should re-title every review I do "Kristina's Sub-Par iPhone Photography Presents:", but I'm not going to because that's a lot of typing to have to do every time. 

Ain't nobody got time for that. 

But what they do have time for is a nice dinner out at Malones of Manassas.  Located in what used to be a church, Malones has a warm, intimate feel.  It's slightly louder than I would have expected, but I think that's just the voices carrying as they do in church basements- although this former church basement doesn't look like a fellowship hall anymore.  There's lovely stone and a wine wall and a bar complete with flatscreen TVs in case you want to have date night but your husband needs to watch the game.  I think the people actually seated at the bar were most interested in that :) 

 Hello people sitting near us! I'm taking a picture of the ambiance and you're in the way.  I hope you're having a lovely dinner.
So, on to the food! This is a white cranberry martini, which looks like Christmas to me, with tiny ice crystals and red cranberry garnish.  Tasty!  We ordered an appetizer, but it never made it to our table, which was okay because we decided that meant we were destined to order two deserts instead of one. Better!
 This is a "side for sharing" of Macaroni and Cheese.  It has ham, peas, and breadcrumbs and was pretty fantastic.  I thought all the pasta dishes needed salt, but I probably need to be in a 12 step program for sodium addiction, and there was salt on the table, so no big deal.  I love macaroni and cheese, and yes, I ordered a side of Mac and Cheese with my Tortellini.  I don't eat white flour normally and so since this was a review I needed to make that sacrifice in the name of....

Science.  We're going to go with science.
 For dinner, Austin got the Pork and Beans 2.0 which was homemade bangers- which he says were outstanding (I tried a bite and then stole another one and I don't typically do sausage).  The beans were not just Pork and Beans from a can- they were smoky and yummy.  He picked out the pork belly- it's not his thing- but I'm asking him to describe the dish to me right now (at 8:30 am) and he's telling me he'd eat it again right now for breakfast.  I'm pretty sure that means he likes it :)

Behind that is their crazy cobs.  You need to stop what you're doing right now and go get some of this corn.  We weren't sure it'd be great because the corn season isn't really October, but again, this is for science.  I would go back and order 4 servings of corn and just sit there and eat it with everyone staring at the crazy lady.  It was that good.
This is my Eggplant Tortellini, which, as I mentioned, I ate with a side of mac and cheese.  It was really yummy and I appreciate when a restaurant can do vegetarian well.  I was a vegetarian for 2 years and sometimes they just throw whatever junk they've got at you and assume that if you don't like meat you don't like food.  This was not the case here. 
 Dessert!! As I mentioned, not getting an appetizer meant two desserts seemed logical.  This is a "congo bar" which was a blondie with nuts and chocolate chips served warm with ice cream and caramel sauce.  It's really sweet but really delicious!
The creme brûlée (which is my hub's favorite dessert of all time) came with cranberry chutney on it, which neither one of us cared for- although the creme itself was great! 

Our dinner total was $102- so obviously Malones is more of an "occasion dinner" although we certainly could've not gotten 2 deserts and 2 sides if we were being budget-concious.  They do also have a bar menu and a lunch menu and a Sunday Brunch (which includes something called Stuffed Croissant Pudding, and I'm not sure how I've lived my entire life without having that in it).  This would be a great place to take visiting in-laws you need to impress for brunch.  

We really liked Malones.  We'd definitely eat there again for a special night out, or for a lunch or brunch at a great location! 

I'm really enjoying getting to experience Old Town Manassas, it's making the move from Woodbridge a lot easier to find a bunch of cool new things to do and places to go- so thanks to Malones for having us out!

We were provided with a gift card to do our review, but all opinions are my own.  Also, you probably shouldn't really eat 4 servings of corn all at once because I'm not sure what that would do to your stomach, but...that sounds like a science challenge, so if anybody wants to go cob for cob, I'm totally in. 

Review: Massage Heights

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Published: 10/16/2014
Some days, it is good to be a blogger.

Some days I refuse to use that term...but some days- it's a good gig.

Recently my neurologist told me that I would benefit from massages.  The muscles in my neck and head are all wound up and that's pressing on the nerves at my incision site (I had brain surgery if you're just tuning in) and that's giving me headaches.  The idea of someone touching me made me a little nervous because, well, all that stuff is really tight and painful.  I don't really like talking about it (so I don't) but if you see me, I'm in pain.  Every day.  Some days are better than others (kind of like with being a blogger) but it's just a fact of life that I live with now, so I didn't want to let someone hurt me MORE by giving me a massage and I didn't schedule anything.

At Bumps, Babies and Beyond, I was stationed with Massage Heights directly behind me.  In fact, they brought a chair and were giving quickie seated massages out- which I didn't try because if I was going to cry or something I didn't want to do it in the middle of Potomac Mills Mall.  The owner and I talked, though, and she said that she knew just the person to work on me, so I had to come in and try it out.

Well, fine. If it's in the name of research for my website, I guess I need to man up.

Massage Heights is located in Dillingham Square in Lake Ridge, across from Jerry's Pizza and the Teachers' Store.  I was signed up with Laura W. who actually did additional training so she could work on people just like me who have some complicated things going on with their muscles.

All I can say after my 1 hour massage is that y'all, I am so dumb.

I mean, seriously- I should have tried this forever ago.  I stood up from the massage table and I could roll my head back! I've always hear the expression "I have a knot in my back" but you know you can actually feel those suckers untying? It's crazy!

Laura was wonderful and really took time to understand what was going on with me, what I was looking to accomplish with my massage, and talked with me to make sure nothing was painful the entire time.  Some things were a little uncomfortable- working the knots out of my neck, for example, but nothing was painful, and I felt so great afterwards....

that I signed up for a membership so I can get one of these a month.

For real.

Massage Heights offers introductory massages at $59.99 for 1 hour, $89.99 for 90 minutes, or $119 for 2 hours.  You can also add "elevations" to your massage starting at $12, including hot stones, reviving foot scrub (I tried this, it felt lovely!), revitalizing face mask, or active therapy.  Aroma therapy is included for first time guests and members.  I opted for a mint scent because I am the only person on the planet who can't stand lavender- it smelled fantastic. They have four scent blends available, though, Relax, Breathe, Energize, and Revive.

Memberships are flexible with three price points and the ability to use your membership at any location (so if you're at the beach or away on business, you can find your nearest location there) and benefits also roll over, so if you skip a month, you can get two the next month.  I have this evil plan where I don't go again for 4 months and get one a week, but I'm not sure I can wait that long.  I have another evil plan where I make my husband go to massage therapist certification.

Instead, I think I'll just book my next appointment on November 1.  That's probably better.

For more information about Massage Heights, or to find additional locations, visit their website or Facebook page.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a 30 minute massage to complete my review.  I opted to up to an hour, which I paid for. All opinions are my own. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying massage if you have any kind of "issues", but otherwise, you should go.  And call me, because I would totally take an excuse to go extra.

Date Night: Cheers Art Studio

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Published: 10/06/2014
Gina from Cheers has been inviting me out for some time to check out their studio- but to be honest, I've been avoiding it because I have zero artistic talent.

Maybe negative zero.  Can you have that?

Anyhow, we were near each other at the Bumps, Babies, and Beyond Expo and she invited me to come for their first "Date Night" this past Friday, and since there was nothing on the calendar, I said yes.  I figured worst case scenario, my husband and I could make fun of each other's total lack of talent in the painting department.  Don't get me wrong- if you need a room painted in one solid color, my husband is a boss- but painting anything else? Probably no.

But then, the strangest thing happened.  We had a ton of fun, and it turns out we don't suck nearly as much as we thought we did!

Let's back up.  Cheers is a "fun evening out" venue in Woodbridge off Minnieville Road.  You can bring your own libations and snacks, and an art teacher takes you through a prepared project.  I found individual Tiramisu and Wine Juice Boxes.  I am not really a drinker- and these were gross.  I don't recommend them.  (Or maybe that's just me not being a wine drinker) The tiramisu was good.

On the night we went, we were making two love birds sitting on a branch.  The sample project was daytime, but the teacher went on to demo an evening scene for those of us who needed different colors for our houses- which is what we went with. The people sitting near us were really nice, and incidentally, our friends showed up (totally unplanned!) so that was fun, too! First we did some swirly colors.  I was really good at this part.  Light in the center, dark on the outside.  The good news is, if you accidentally get some red or some green in your brush, people think you were being artsy! Just go with it! Don't tell them you're, in fact, a giant klutz!
Next we made birds.  There was a trick! We made ovals, filled them in, and then put the brush flat on the canvas and swirled it around itself to make the head.  #EvenICanDoThat
So here's where it started to get a little dicey.  I happen to like following directions.  My husband, however, wanted to be all innovative and do squares instead of circles.  I wanted to get an attitude about the fact that our finished product wasn't going to look like the teacher's (and therefore was not going to be winning), so I just sat back and let him go with the squares.  If I'd been making my own, I would have copied EXACTLY because that's how you DO it. 
 I drag this poor man out to more weird stuff than is fair, so the least I could do was let him do the squares.  Then he abandoned me to take a work call, so I added some color to each square and decided it was okay since everyone else was like "Wow, squares!!" I assume they were doing that to be nice, but I am pretending it's because it looks good.
In the end, we totally had fun.  We were even both impressed with our ability to make swirly colors and birds.  I'm not saying we're going to quit our day jobs, but it turned out pretty good considering the source (namely, two un-talented people!). I think we'd actually both really like to do it again- which is really surprising because this is not our thing.  I'd get my own canvas, though, so that I can copy the teacher exactly, because that's the kind of kid I am.  If you like to work cooperatively, that's perfect for date night...but if you're a little more independent, there's lots of individual options, too!    There was lots of laughing going on, and everyone seemed to have a good time. 
Ultimately, everyone's seemed pretty happy in the end :) A lovely way to spend a Friday night with my favorite guy in the world. 

For more information about Cheers, and to see their upcoming projects, visit their website or their Facebook page.  

Thanks to Cheers for having us come out! While our session was gifted to us, all opinions, including those about wine in a juice box, are my own.  As always when I'm talking about date night, make sure you use a designated driver. 

Giveaway: Manassas Restaurant Week

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Published: 09/19/2014

In honor of Manassas Restaurant Week (September 21-27, 2014!!) I am so excited to share a special giveaway from one of the participating restaurants, Malones of Manassas.  

Located in the heart of Historic Downtown Manassas (9329 Main Street), Malone's is actually located inside an historic, landmark church built shortly after the Civil War. Malone's houses both a casual and upscale restaurant and bar offering the best of Southern American cuisine and hospitality. 

Their executive chef, Scott Bilstad, brings over 10 years of culinary experience to Malones.  His expansive knowledge comes from studying in prominent kitchens throughout the US and Europe.  Chef Scott also studied in Japan while serving our country in the United States Navy.  A native of Fredericksburg, VA, Chef Scott supports using local, fresh ingredients and is currently curing his own bacon, prosciutto, salmon, and white fish- all of which are considered "featured items" at Malones. 

Owner Kevin Malone is also a local! Kevin has over 30 years experience in the Restaurant, Hospitality and Management Industry. A native of Manassas, and graduate of Osborn High School, Kevin knew that when the time came to create his own dining experience it would be back in his home town of Manassas. He’s added a contemporary twist to all his client’s favorite dishes and libations in a setting that is as unique and conversational as the menu. 

Now let's get to the exciting part (although home-cured prosciutto is pretty exciting):

During restaurant week, Malone's will be offering a 3-course menu for $35/person.  Awesome! You can make reservations by calling 571-208-1246.  

Malones will be giving away a $70 gift card to a lucky reader! That's enough to cover two people for dinner during restaurant week! How awesome is that??

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This prize is provided by Malones of Manassas.  Winner assumes any liability/risk. By entering you agree to be bound by our Giveaway Rules, which you can find by clicking here. PwcMoms is not responsible for you over-eating, becoming addicted to homemade bacon, or having a fantastic time, although we'll take the credit for that last part if you want to give it to us.  Please use a designated driver if you decide to enjoy a cocktail (or two).  Driving Buzzed is not cool, and I live in Manassas now, so stay off my roads.  I was compensated for writing this post, but all opinions are my own- including those about bacon.  

Dirty Dancing Live in DC!

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Published: 08/14/2014
Okay, okay, okay.  I know "Dirty Dancing" isn't necessarily little-kid-friendly, but it's my moms favorite favorite favorite (I'm going to repeat everything 3 times like the goose from Charlotte's Web today, apparently) and I'm really excited to have it playing live in DC!

Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage
National Theatre, August 26-September 14
DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE is an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance, and sensational dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this worldwide smash hit tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. Featuring the hit songs, “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the heart stopping “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” London’s Sunday Express says “This crowd-pleasing stage adaptation hits the jackpot!” Don’t miss your chance to see this record-breaking live theatre sensation. You’ll have the time of your life!

Use code MELON for discounts on select performances and prices. Offer valid at all points of purchase, limit 8 tickets per order. For discounts, click HERE 
For more information on Dirty Dancing on Tour, click HERE

Review: Bobby McKeys Piano Bar

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Published: 07/28/2014
I love date nights.  I think they're really important to keeping your family emotionally healthy.  I know some parents don't like to leave their kids or don't have a sitter (although there are lots of options for kids nights out on our calendar!) but I really think it's worth doing, even if it's initially uncomfortable to leave your babies.  Heck, I know people who pick up grandma and grandpa from the airport, drop them at home, and don't come back until Monday.  #ByAnyMeansNecessary.

I also really like to keep it interesting.  Dinner and a movie is awesome, but if we can do something different, then I'd like to do that :) Last weekend, we checked out Bobby McKey's with some friends.  I'd never been to a dueling piano bar before, but it sounded like fun!

We paid extra to have a table, and I'm really glad we did. I figure that the $40 we spent works out to be the same as we'd pay at the movies for tickets and popcorn- and the bar stools/standing room only didn't look as comfortable. If you have a special event you can even get a light-up table at the very front.  We had to be there by 8 to ensure they didn't give our table away at 8:30, we actually go to National Harbor a little earlier and enjoyed walking around, and a member of our double-date party ate some hot sauce so hot that he had to sign a waiver.  He got a sticker- we were all very impressed!

When you check in, you'll of course need your ID, and then if you're sitting at a table you get glow necklaces!

Well hot dog!

(No joke, I was excited about this! My kids get these all the time, but I never do! Yes, yes, I know I'm 30 and they're in Elementary School.  You trying to make some kind of a point?)
I was a little worried that we were going to be the oldest people there, but there were some younger folks doing bachelor/bachelorette parties (probably just barely making the 21 cutoff) and there were people in their 70s and 80s there, too! Service isn't exactly quick or attentive, even at the tables, but we did okay.  I am always the DD for everything, so I had a coke, which sat empty the vast majority of the time, but my tablemates ordered a beer tower that lit up on the top (so everyone knew you ordered it!) which was $40- although I don't remember how many drinks that worked out to being for them- so their glasses were refilled easily.

Next, two pianists came up and got things rolling.  They don't really "duel" in any way- they just play songs requested by people on napkins.  You write your request on a napkin, put it on the piano with a tip, and the bigger the tip the sooner it plays. At one point, they'd accumulated a few requests for "Let It Go" and offered to stop if someone topped the $16 they had to play the song.  "$17 bucks can save you all!", but unfortunately I didn't have cash- so that was probably the low-point of the evening for me!

There are a total of 4 musicians who alternate in throughout the night in groups of two, and when they swap out, the 4 of them play together, including drums, keyboard, and even a really great electric violin moment when one of the pianists played "Devil Went Down to Georgia" standing on top of the baby grands.  I really enjoyed myself! We were laughing and clapping and singing along- and most of the songs were classic hits that everyone knew. Oh, and, there was a confetti cannon! Whooo!

I will definitely say that the show is R-rated. There are two mirrors behind the pianos that you can pay to have a "Phrase of the Night" written on in dry-erase marker, and with bachelor parties in full force, these phrases were definitely a little raunchy.  They also sang a version of "It's a Small World" that I had NEVER heard before for someone's birthday- and if you're easily offended this is probably not the place for you. (In fact, since I am not a photoshop-er, be sure not to read these mirrors!)

I thought it was hilarious- mainly because the birthday boy was such a good sport about the whole thing. Also worth noting- it's a bar and there's live music, so obviously things are a little loud for conversation, although we were able to talk between sets (loudly) with our friends.

The piano players were all really talented, the humor kept going all night, and we had an excellent time.  We all stayed out way too late, especially since the couple we went with also had swim team in the morning!! But, it was well worth it for a memorable night out! I would definitely go to Bobby McKey's again- we had a blast! 

(PS- they also do Kids' Days- which would be fun to try as a family!)

Disclosure: This was not a solicited review, all opinions are my own.  Don't be a jerkface if you go out and drive home buzzed, have a designated driver.  If you can't find one, hire one.  Or, become friends with me, I always DD. Also, they were out of mozzarella sticks.  Which was sad. I'm not sure why that goes in the disclosure, but I just wanted you to know.

Review: Vertical Rock

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Published: 06/13/2014
I don't really know how to start this other than to say that Vertical Rock was absolutely awesome.  Just so much fun.  Any age, any level, any ability, your family can have fun doing this.  If your child is old enough to try to scale your bookshelves or the kitchen pantry, they can rock climb.

I know that trying a completely new activity at a completely new place can be intimidating, so here's how it works.

1) Enter the address (10225 Nokesville Rd, Manassas, VA 20110) into your GPS/Garmin/iPhone.  
2) Follow directions
3) Arrive. 

That's really it.  Everything else that you need is taken care of.  Get a day pass and climb all you want for $18 (adults), $16 (students), or $12 (military).  You'll need your own equipment, or you can rent what you'll need ($11 for everything).  Alternatively, if you're new, you can try it out for $20, which includes your harness, 3 climbs ($5 for each additional) and a Vertical Rock belayer to help you figure it all out.  For $35 you can take their "Learn the Ropes" course, during which you'll learn how to top-rope, how to "tie in", and how to belay safely for your partner. Classes are drop-in and offered Monday-Friday from 6-8pm and Sundays from 3-5.  

Really love it? You don't need a Bally's membership- you can join Vertical Rock as your gym! In addition to climbing, they have a fitness room, and offer "Rock Ready" (which looks a lot like the class that rhymes with "Boss Bit"), Krav Maga, Yoga, and a host of other fun stuff to keep you in shape without relying solely on a treadmill, which, let's be honest, is boring. 

We did an open climb, and the one thing I'll say is that you should spring for the $5 to rent shoes.  They're sexy like bowling shoes:

But they are SO MUCH EASIER to climb in.  Seriously.  I was informed that if "they're not tight, they're not right" so don't hop up a size because your toes are giving each other a bear hug.  

Next, our friendly belayers helped us get into our harnesses.  One thing I didn't know about rock climbing is how fashionable it is ;) 
 Yesssss! Work it! Work it!
 So now you head to the walls.  Courses are rated with cards (and they have funny names like "I should be with my mommy right now" or "Fried Squirrel Brains").  They start at 5.5, or as I like to call it "That sounds about right" and move up to 5.10, which then get letters after them.  Obviously the higher you go the more difficulty is involved.  The idea is to follow the tape color for the course you're doing.  Some specify that you can use "any feet" which means that you can use an of the grips you can get your hoofs on, and others want you to just use the color you're following.  Rock climbing involves a good deal of thinking when you add those caveats- you have to check where you are and think about where you're going- I was surprised the first time I climbed myself into a corner and had to back up and think about how to approach where I was going!
 This is the wall that Logan, Savannah, and I started on.  It has about a bijillion grips on it, and you can "climb the rainbow" and pick anything you want.  Here's where the staff really came in.  Logan got to this point (above) and was like "Yup, I'm scared and I'm done" and Zack, our belayer, was like "Yeah, totally hear that buddy- just touch that green one first" and by the time he did that, he realized he was just a few "rocks" from the brown section.....
And well, then it was just a few hand grips to the green spongy thing....and at that point, you may as well touch the top.  He was too nervous to rappel down the side, which I get, because it's a big exercise in trust to have someone you just met tell you to let go of the wall and trust them to not drop you.  Especially when you're 8.  He climbed down slowly, but surely. However, he did rappel on his last climb of the day, which was great! 
We had a few tears on the harder wall- somebody made the mistake of looking down.  (I climbed to the top of this one- but I didn't look anywhere but the place I was currently at- I probably would've cried, too!) but, again, the belayers did a great job of providing direction and assured us that they've had to climb up before to help someone down, but they didn't have to.  

The minute his feet touched the floor, he asked to go up again. I guess Belayer Anna did a good job :) 

In addition to open climbs and classes and memberships, Vertical Rock also offers a kids night, birthday parties, climbing teams (Team meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 530-730! VR hosts competitions and travels to other gyms to participate in competitions), indoor and outdoor camps, scout merit badges, LOCK INS(!!!), corporate events and outdoor climbing tours.  There's also a bouldering wall if you really want to climb but not quite so high:
Best part about their kids night is that you don't have to reserve (although you can) so you can just be like "It's Friday night and my kids are making me crazy!! Vertical Rock!" and drop them off from 7-9pm for $25 for Non Members and $15 For Members, Safety equipment included.   I am informed that the kids "come home tired", which is just what I like to hear :) 

If you'd like to give your child a chance to try Rock Climbing, but aren't ready to strap in yourself, check out the Vertical Rock Summer camps!

**Thinking about a membership? Here's a note from owner Lindsey**

Memberships receive the Learn the ropes class for Free, Yoga, Rock Ready, Discounts on Youth Teams and Summer Camps and much more. A Family of 4 can have access to a fitness activity that they will love doing together M-S for just $31.25 a person a month. A 2 person family membership is only $47.50 a month. Why go to the movies!?
We are family owned and operated facility who really get to know our members. We introduce members to each other through cookouts and parties to keep the community strong. Parents meet each other and climb with each other while their kids play and climb together. The family environment is amazing and we are so excited to share it with more people!

Disclosure: Vertical Rock is a sponsor of PwcMoms and allowed us to come climb.  However, all opinions and experiences are true and my own.  If I had looked down, I think I would've cried- and I really do think the ugly shoes make it way easier.  #TrueStory. 

Giveaway: Jake's American Grille DC

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Published: 05/21/2014
We are incredibly fortunate (or we planned well) to live close to family that loves to babysit our kids.  I know that for some of our friends, finding a sitter is incredibly difficult.  Either they can't find one, they're not comfortable leaving their children, or the added cost to the date is too much to warrant going out. Because of that struggle, I think it's such a fantastic idea that Jake's American Grille in DC offers childcare on-site for both their Thursday night date-night and their weekend kids brunch.

It's not in PWC, but I was willing to take one for the team and check it out.

 With this guy, because he's awesome. (For those of you who are new to PwcMoms, that would be my husband, Austin.)

The drive was horrific.  The Thursday night we picked for our reservation was the same night mother nature picked for intermittent torrential downpours.  We also opted to take 66 in rather than back tracking to take HOV on 95.  We just moved, it's not our fault.  All these things meant it took us 2 hours to get there.  Obviously this is not normal, we just got unlucky, and that can happen in the DMV.  The restaurant was incredibly kind about it- we called to let them know that GoogleMaps said there was no way in heck we were making our reservation, and they moved it out, no problem.

 The kids area is just off the bar (which seems strange when I type it, but actually wasn't at all.  There is a sliding door, but it was kept open for us).  It's narrow but there's plenty of room.  Professional nannies or Montessori school teachers staff the room, and the restaurant shared that many regulars love the childcare workers so much they've poached them for work other days!
 Childcare is available for children who are potty trained up through age 10.  Rates are $15 for the first child, $12 for the second child, and $10 for subsequent children.  We worked it out in our heads that with a 3 hour drive (it was only an hour to get home) and 2 hours for dinner, we'd pay our sitter $50.  Childcare at the restaurant was $37 and each child got a kids meal included in the price.  Works out well, as far as our money is concerned.
 The kids room has lots of toys and games, as well as a TV.  Savannah liked the Lincoln Logs and the boys watched a Superman movie, so everyone was happy. 

So the kids were all set.  We were close by, they could get us if they needed, the restaurant was even happy to put a second table next to ours if we wanted to eat as a family and then let the kids go play.   They were happy to play in the kids room, though, so we ate alone.

We were fine ;)

As far as the food, we opted to order off the $30 prixe fixe menu, which included a starter, main, and dessert.  The a la carte menu was also available.  Portions were good, so we could've ordered off that and shared, but we didn't :) $60 isn't bad for dinner in DC!

Austin got the wedge salad, no dressing no blue cheese, and I got the broccoli cheddar soup to start, also on the menu were mussels.  The soup was really good, the salad had extra bacon, which is never a problem.  For the main, Austin got the pasta primavera with marinara instead of cream sauce, which was okay. I ordered the quarter spinach stuffed chicken, which they initially forgot to bring (although our starters and Austin's pasta came all at once)- it was absolutely amazing, but lacked the spinach filling the menu mentioned.  I'd definitely order it again if I went back, even missing the stuffing.

I'm a bad blogger and forgot food pictures until dessert.

Austin got carrot cake and I got ice cream (there were only two choices so we picked different ones).  Neither was particularly good, although they were both big- we could've shared one- so we just snagged the kids and made their night happy.

They were more than happy with the ice cream :)

So.  All in all, the idea is a really good one.  The kids had a fantastic time, we got a date in with on-site childcare (no phone calls except the reservation), and I got to hang out with my hubby.  If I had it to do again, I'd order off the regular menu- Yelp seems to recommend the burgers.  Also good to know, there is a basement bar called Jake's Boiler Room, which is really fun, bright, and has lots of games available (both traditional bar games and an entire slew of board games for various ages!) I think that this is definitely a great option for parents who need a night out but don't have a sitter or aren't comfortable leaving their kids. The Sunday brunch, though, might be a better deal for you if the price still isn't right- childcare is free on the weekends.

Want to check out Jake's for yourself? I've got a few options for winners!! Jake's is generously offering 5 winners ONE of the following prizes:

$40 Gift Certificates to Kid’s Brunch
$40 Gift Certificates to Kid's Brunch
One Family Pass Certificate for a Family of Four to Date Night
Certificate for Complimentary Childcare for up to Two Children at Date Night
Certificate for Complimentary Childcare for up to Two Children at Date Night

Enter to win using the Rafflecopter below, and when you go, don't forget to email me and tell me how it goes!! I'd love to include your feedback, too!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Jake's American Grille provided us with free childcare to come out and try their Date Night option.  All opinions, however, are my own. No other compensation was provided.   By entering any contest on PwcMoms.com, you agree to be bound by our Giveaway Rules.

Sponsored Post: Animated Child Programs for Fall

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Published: 10/24/2013

We are so thankful for all the businesses that support what we're doing at PwcMoms!! Animated Child is one of our fantastic sponsors, and we want to share with you more about a few of the programs they offer.

1. Before/After School Care:
Animated Child is the alternative to typical Before and After School Care.  Our program allows children to explore and learn while they spend  time in our Open Exploration area. Many parents have compared it to a children's museum! We ditch the traditional teaching model and learn science, technology, engineering and math in a completely hands-on environment.  Children can feed our animals in the Nature Smarts area and construct buildings in our Spatial Smarts area. Homework help is always at the ready and our S.T.E.M. room houses multiple computers for online learning. Join our program and receive 2-FREE Weeks of tuition! 
Call 703-763-0003 for enrollment information.

2. Classes in Language, Art, Social Skills, and STEM Topics
Animated Child is full service enrichment center offering classes in Spanish, French, Art, 2-D Gaming Design and P.E.E.R.S. social skills. Language classes are $200  for 1 class per week. $340 for 2 classes per week. Classes are in 8 week sessions. Enrollment is ongoing. Register any time!  Membership guarantees enrollment and great discounts.

3.  Open Play and Parents Nights Out
The Animated Child provides an integrated environment where children are encouraged to be curious and independent. Our setting is created for the inquisitive child. We aspire to develop a deep sense of self in our children.
Open Exploration Times: (Monday-Friday)
9:00am-10:30am                    Open Explorations are $9 ($7 for members)
Open Exploration Times: (Saturday)
The atmosphere is made to promote imaginative and creative problem-solving skills that generate intrinsic motivation. The Animated Child exists to bring into being an organic movement of emotionally balanced children that recognize abilities within themselves. Our innovative center is inspired by the multiple intelligences of Gardner’s theory, and we engage children in every element in order to highlight their unique way of learning. The vital element of emotional and social intelligence with a global perspective makes the Animated Child a leader in children’s education. The Animated Child recognizes the crucial value of a second language and provides a playful curriculum for complete immersion in language and culture.
4.  Birthday Parties
Various theme options available, including Minecraft!! Visit the website for details and options, as well as pricing. 

The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner

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Published: 10/21/2013
I feel like something of a hotel aficionado after spending six weeks in hotels during my radiation treatments at Duke.  We stayed in a super sketchy Homestead Suites for the first two weeks and switched to a La Quinta that was awesome, but still, you'd think after over a month of hotel, I'd be all stayed-out.


When we received and invitation to come and enjoy a night at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, we rallied.  A "staycation" can be a really fun change from your regular date-night routine, and we were excited to check it out!

We hear that the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner has fantastic suites for families, as well as children's teas, too, but we opted to go child-free and enjoy a date night/hotel stay that didn't involve children OR doctors.


While the Ritz-Carlton isn't the most modern of hotels, its reputation for elegance holds true.  Classically decorated, the details are what makes the Ritz-Carlton a destination hotel.  The staff are professional, courteous, and attentive.  The hotel is attached to the Tysons Galleria, which is known for its upscale and designer shopping, and the restaurant is delicious.  Little touches like being able to text the valet staff and have your car waiting make a big difference.
Okay, fine, and there are phones in the bathrooms, which my husband yelled out to me, and totally made me laugh about Pretty Woman all night.
 We started our evening with dinner at the Entyse Bar and Lounge which offers an extensive wine list as well as a varied menu for all tastes.  Case in point, I had Pad Thai (which typically comes with shrimp but I ordered vegetarian) while hubby enjoyed Filet Mignon with whipped potatoes and asparagus.

 For an appetizer, he ordered clam chowder and I had a mezze platter with hummus, tabbouleh, and baba ghanoush.  I have no clue how middle eastern food and pad thai go together, but I really love eggplant, so I was happy :)
 Again, the little touches are so enjoyable- our dinner was followed with a plate of small, sweet bites, which we enjoyed before our creme brûlée.  The meal was quite good, and the service was excellent- our waiter Luis was friendly and attentive.  Friday nights also feature live jazz, which we enjoyed quite a bit! Entyse has two dining areas, which allows for large groups (there was one in the bar area celebrating a birthday and having a great time), as well as more intimate dining, including the area we were in, which had several tables as well as stuffed-chairs/sofas with tables, as well.
The hotel offers many amenities, including a business room, spa, pool, lounge, and more.  We decided, however, to walk off some of our dinner in the attached Galleria mall.  Austin (my husband) wound us right through to the mall thanks to his years working at Booz Allen, which frequently rents space for larger hiring events, meeting and off-sites at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.  Their wedding room looked lovely, as well.  I notice these things since my baby brother is getting married in September.

We had a lovely evening at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.  Having a quick "staycation" was a great way to switch up our date night routine, and being in the heart of Tysons allowed for plenty of options for fun, with shopping, movies, and more all located either within walking or courtesy shuttle distance of the hotel.  To plan your own staycation at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, or to enjoy one of their many events, including pumpkin carving, Nutcracker Teas, Princess Teas, and more, check out their events calendar, located here.

Disclaimer: We were offered a free night's accommodations and meals at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.  All opinions, however, remain my own, and only links to the calendar and the requirement I include pictures were dictated by the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.  All writing is my own.

Giveaway: Natural Mom Home Day Care

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Published: 08/07/2013
Based on her own desires for natural childcare that allowed for attention, cloth diapering, natural foods including organic cooking, and affordable rates, local mom Rosemarie is opening Natural Mom Home Day Care beginning September 2nd, in the Rippon Landing Area of Woodbridge.  Here's what she has to say:

Natural Mom Home Day Care LLC opens its doors September 2nd to offer the Woodbridge/Dale City area (Rippon Landing) state licensed child care services for children 6 weeks to 6 years. “This is an opportunity for me to offer the services that mean the most to parents, like organic/natural foods, toddler yoga, baby sign language, family preferred scheduling and  complete preschool curriculum with rates that saves families over $2,000/year versus area day care centers.”, stated owner Rosemarie Groner.

After unsuccessfully searching for safe, affordable, high quality child care that offered the same natural care she provided for her new infant at home, owner Rosemarie Groner saw an opportunity to change the lives of area families. With a background in child care, she received state certification and created a child care program that offers local families an affordable, flexible, and safe alternative to area day care centers. Natural Mom Home Day Care LLC offers small group child care (3-4 children), organic/natural home cooked meals and home-made baby food at no extra cost, accepts cloth or disposable diapers, toddler yoga, baby sign language, photo sharing, preschool curriculum, and flexibility with after hours babysitting available by appointment. 

“I have three assistants that can help me with sick days, vacation and appointments”, explains Groner “Which means parents can feel comfortable relying on me. I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of area families and I take that responsibility very seriously.  A great day care provider is an extension of the family and that’s exactly what I plan to be.” 

To celebrate their grand opening, Natural Mom Home Day Care LLC is giving away a gift certificate for 5 hours of free after hours babysitting by appointment. To enter, head over to their facebook page and like them. One winner will be chosen at random. 

Visit naturalmomdaycare.blogspot.com, call 703-402-0362, or email Rosemarie at naturalmomdaycare@gmail.com to get more information and to request a “Parents Information Packet” with rates, menu plans, policies and procedures, and program highlights. 

In celebration of her new business, Rosemarie is offering something that every parent could use- 5 hours of after-hours babysitting (a $50 value).  Tell your husband to make reservations, and go out without the kids!! Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

PwcMoms is running this contest, but not responsible for care.  Please see any waivers or agreements provided by the babysitter, as well as her state license for details. This is a sponsored post paid for by Natural Mom Home Day Care, and information was provided by their owner. 

Review: Nando's Peri Peri Chicken

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Published: 06/20/2013
I love getting invited to come out and review new businesses, especially when they make it easy for me to give them a great review!  This week, we were invited to come out and try the new Stonebridge (Woodbridge) location of Nando's Peri Peri Chicken. (15001 Potomac Town Place, Woodbridge VA)

The best comparison that I can draw for those of you that haven't been there before is that Peri Peri Chicken (named after a particular type of chili pepper) is a lot like Peruvian or Pollo a la Brasa style chicken, but better.  The chicken is moist and tender, but the outside gets a bit of a char to it, which is delicious! The flavor from the various sauces and marinades is delicious, too....but we'll come back to that. When you walk in, you can decide to dine in or carry out.  Dine ins are seated at a table. 

 After you consider your menu, which has appetizers, salads, sandwiches, chicken platters, and even a few non-chicken offerings in the form of steak sandwiches and vegetarian options, you go up to the counter and place your order.  This could be a very simple process, as there's are options to order platters in a more "family style" manner, or you can get something different for everyone in the family.  I kind of like that.
 Waiting for your food, you get a pretty good view of the people preparing it.  The restaurant is a good volume for kids, by which I mean that the music is up loud enough that no one is going to notice if they're asking about the unlimited frozen yogurt at the end of their kids' meals for the 200th time.  It's probably slightly louder than you'd like for an intimate conversation, but it's fun and upbeat.
 While you're waiting, you can also pick up your silverware, any additional sauces you want, and your drinks over by the front door.  There's even a sink, just in case you need to wash up. This is also where your children will find the unlimited frozen yogurt dispenser.
 We started with an appetizer.  There was hummus, which is always hard for me to turn down, but we wanted to try something a little different, so we went with the Red Pepper Dip.  This is served cool with warm pita bread and has a little bit of a tangy warmth, but it's not spicy.  Everyone at our table enjoyed it- my kids love red bell peppers, but they especially loved the warm pita bread, so they're clearly easy to please!
Both boys went for the kids' drum and thigh meal with french fries.  It was our "last day" treat meal, so I didn't push for another option (they've also got cole slaw and corn).  The sauce on the kids' chicken is a barbecue style one, and they both liked it and didn't find it spicy at all. 

 My daughter, noting that we were at a chicken restaurant, ordered grilled cheese.  It's actual cheddar cheese, I think, not American, so if your child isn't a fan of real cheese, you'll know up front.  We are big fans of real cheese, so this wasn't an issue for us.  As I mentioned before, the kids meals come with a dish for frozen yogurt when the meal is over, so there's an incentive to take bites if you've got the kind of kiddo that needs that.

 My mom and I split a platter for two-three, and we had leftovers to bring home!  We ordered our chicken hot, which I found quite pleasant, but you can order your chicken from plain (mild) to extra hot, as seen on the pepper at the top of the post.  We ordered the Portugeuse Rice, which was slightly smoky and okay, but nothing I'd write home about.  We also tried one of their "fino sides", which are a slight upcharge, which was butternut squash with corn, dried cranberries, cilantro, chili, and some lime.  It was amazingly good, and something totally different from what I've had before.  Other side options sounded great, too, including their salads and potato options, and I have to say that we got a little plate envy watching other people's garlic bread going out from the oven, too, and we'll have to try that next time.  I think that both my mom and I devoured our butternut squash without even breathing, and then remembered we had chicken.  The chicken was, truly, delicious, and we both had to stop eating before we wanted to because we were full from our squash but the chicken was so good! Our platter meal could've easily fed another person, but we asked for a box and our chicken was great the next day for lunch.  I really enjoyed the extra flavor that this style of chicken has- the marinade and the saucing really make for a tasty meal!
Let's talk about dessert.  Yes, we were full, and yes, we were still eyeing that leftover chicken, but what's a review without talking about dessert?

An incomplete review.  I will not have that.  Plus, as I mentioned, there were boxes.  We tried the Rasbpberry Brulee Cheesecake and the Chocolate Spoon Cake.  I am not typically a cheesecake fan, but this was the creamiest, most lovely texture of cheesecake I've ever had, I would say it's better than the restaurant down the street named for it, and the Chocolate Spoon Cake?
So, let's be honest here, this cake was $6.25.  I would've paid $12.50.  It's like eating a giant chocolate truffle.  I love chocolate cake and it's almost universally disappointing when you order it out- it's dry and unappealing, but this cake is spoon cake for a reason.  Moist and decadent, you could easily get six spoons and share this on a girls' night, but you could also eat it yourself, and I will not tell anyone.

Although, if you want to share with me, I would be happy to tell everyone what a great person and generally upstanding human being you are.  So, there's that to consider.

Also, if you are interested, there's Sangria.  We didn't try it, but I thought you guys would want to know.  I know how excited we all were about wine before the last big storm, so it seems worth mentioning :) 

Nando's Peri Peri was delicious.  Great food, pretty simple preparations, but different and new flavors that we really loved.  Also, that chocolate cake.  We will definitely be back, in fact, maybe even this week- my husband is a little jealous that he missed out on something we're all raving about!  I'd remind you about the volume level if you're sensitive, and we weren't sure whether or not to leave a tip on the table (there are boxes by the register) so we erred on the side of caution and did, but other than that we were happy with our food, our service, and the overall experience! 

If you'd like to find out more before you go- you can check out Nando's Peri Peri Chicken:

Disclosure: PwcMoms.com was provided with our meal.  However, even when people pay us, we reserve the right to tell you what we think, and all opinions are our own.  We really would pay $12 for that cake.  No joke. And, the chicken was amazing. 

Reviews: Pa Nuang Thai

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Published: 01/15/2013
Highly recommended on the "Readers Recommend: Restaurants in Prince William County" is Pa Nuang Thai.  I actually thought I'd written about it before, but apparently, I haven't.  Or, maybe I have, but it's so good that I'm going to do it again. (Edit: I found it! It was for PotomacLocal.com)

It's my website, people, and I'll do what I want to.

So, Pa Nuang is amazing, and I like it better than all the other Thai restaurants in the county that I've tried.  Hands down. No, I don't care that you like the other one by the Safeway.  Typically there's room for everyone's opinions, but right now I am taking a firm stand on Thai.

 Their menu is extensive, and everything on it is amazing.  I love the crisp, fresh green papaya salad, and the Tom Kha Soup which is both sweet and salty, spicy and sour, and just generally amazing.  Hubby and I went their for a date night the other day, and we ended up with these:
 This is chicken with bell peppers and basil.  I'm sure it has an actual name, but it's number 3 down on the "Entrees" section.  Yeah, I know that.
This is the soup I now want anytime there's anything wrong or right with me.  I've had a migraine and been in bed for days, and reflecting on it, I'm actually ticked off that my husband didn't bring me soup.  I know I wasn't eating, but it would've reheated when I wanted it.  Originally, this was "Korean Noodle Soup", but apparently now it's "Clear Noodle Soup".  It's broth, ground chicken (or you can get it vegetarian or with shrimp...maybe? I don't like seafood so I don't reserve space in my brain for it) vegetables, and noodles, and it's amazing.  If you're a glutton for punishment like we are, they'll even bring out crushed red peppers that are waaaay spicier than anything you've ever shaken on your pizza.  Next Level Delicious.

(Yes, we ordered two entrees just for the two of us.  It's important to have leftovers when the food is this good.  Don't judge me until you try it.  Even then, don't judge me.)

Dishes can be ordered "American Spicy", which I would call "not spicy", "Regular Spicy" which is probably spicy enough for most people, or "Thai Spicy", which will clear your sinuses and make your tongue tingle.  I personally enjoy Thai Spicy, but recommend starting a little further down the scale until you know what you're getting into.

For the kids, I recommend the Thai Sweet and Sour, or, if they're more adventitious, the fried tofu with sweet chili sauce is really good.  The sweet and sour comes with the chicken in chunks and crispy (a la "nugget" but with recognizable meat) and the sauce on the side. My kids actually like the Pad Thai with shrimp and the tempura carrots from my Green Curried Vegetables.  They're not normal, though.

This is a really long post about how much I love Pa Nuang at this point....but it's really, really, really good.  They're not paying me to write this....I am, in fact, paying them.  For soup.  Which I could really use right now- I wonder if they're open....

12 Days of Giveaways: Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

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Published: 12/14/2012
 We're 12 Days Away from Christmas, so I want to hit you guys with a few giveaway items!! First up, I've got a $25 gift card to Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in Woodbridge.  This fairly new restaurant is located in my favorite place- Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.  Love Love Love :) The restaurant had us for a preview meal, and they've got a pretty amazing children's menu.  My son got the children's salmon, and I'm not a seafood lover, but his fish was awesome.  I really appreciated that there were some exciting and healthier grilled items, in addition to standbys like burgers.  If it were me, though, I would probably choose Firebirds for a great date night.  Nobody minded our children, and the volume level in the restaurant is that magical point where you can hear the people at your table but there's enough background noise to mask your children bemoaning the fact that someone else is currently using the ketchup ;)
The restaurant is beautiful inside, I love the waterfall concept bar display, the wine bottle wall, the stone and the fireplace.  There is definitely tons of ambiance.  Entrees include steaks, fish, chicken, pastas, and some delicious sounding salads.  Yelp rates the restaurant between $$ (moderate) and $$$ (pricey).

Want to head to Firebirds for your own date night or happy hour? (It's so cozy and sleek inside-  it'd be a beautiful place to meet up with girlfriends for a special drink!) Check out the Rafflecopter below and enter to win!! I'll be drawing all the winners for these contests on Christmas Day- my way of giving some presents to you guys :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were able to try a meal at Firebirds before offering this giveaway, also provided by Firebirds.  Winner assumes all liability.  All photo credits are to the Firebirds Facebook Page.

Paradise Springs Winery

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Published: 11/29/2012
I am not really a wine person.  It is atypical for me to have an "adult beverage" and if I do have wine, it has to be white, sweet, and with lots of ice.

Yes, ice. Because I'm classy, people.  I even know that the new term is "Cardbordeaux" and not "Wine in a bag in a box".

And only one glass, because after that, I get giggly.

However, I do love the idea of wine.  I'm always impressed by people who know lots about wine, that know the vintages and can identify whether a particular variety was aged in oak or steel, those who can tell the difference between the 1949 and 1950 blend of a particular beverage. I especially like the idea of vineyards.  Sitting around with friends enjoying a snack and a glass of wine by the fire with live indie music in the background sounds pretty amazing right?

That's because it is!!

We headed out this past Sunday with another couple for a double date to Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, VA, which was absolutely lovely.  If you're following Apple Maps, which we were, don't let them fool you into turning on the last left- just keep going straight, you can't miss it. Google users, you'll be just fine.

The vineyard itself is on a plot of land that's been handed down in a family since the time of Lord Fairfax and George Washington, which is really neat!  There's an historic cabin on site, as well as the main tasting room, which is also gorgeous.  Tastings at Paradise Springs include samples from their entire line for $10.  You can add a souvenir etched glass for $2 more.  Private tastings for groups are $15 per person, and happen in a dedicated location with your own "wine educator".  They also host special events, which you can check out on their website.

Our group opted to take part in the "Paradise Springs Experience" which is $25 and includes a tour of the cabin, production areas, barrel room, and a tasting.  Our wine educator/guide was Richard, who was absolutely delightful.  He was very knowledgable not only about wine, but art and history as well, and we very much enjoyed our tour with him.

Children are allowed to join you at the winery, per the website, but let's be nice to ourselves and everyone else and snag a sitter, shall we? Nobody wants to ignore their vino and conversation so that they can run after the munchkins.  Children are not permitted on the "Paradise Springs Experience" tour, though.

On our tour, Richard talked us through all of the Paradise Springs wines.  I learned that a more yellow color on a white wine indicates oak barrels were used (score! I'm educated now!), and was able to clearly tell the difference between a 2010 and a 2011!

Are you amazed by my new levels of awesome? I know, I am, too.

After our tour, we enjoyed some snacks that we brought with us.  Food is available on-site, as well, but patrons are welcome to bring their own, if they prefer.  Only Paradise Springs Wines are allowed, of course, and they also have non-alcoholic drinks available for purchase.

I think the only thing that we did wrong on this visit was underestimate the time we would spend.  I told Grandma that we'd be back for the kids around 4:00.  We left at 1:30, and we rolled back up to her house at 6.  Our tour took about an hour and a half, and we all had a great time just sitting and chatting in the beautiful and relaxed environment.  There was a fire going on the outdoor patio, as well as indoor seating, and we just really had a fantastic time.  They even had the football game on, which meant that my friend and I could gossip uninhibited by eye rolls from our respective husbands.
It was a lovely, relaxing afternoon!

Paradise Springs Winery
*Great for an adults-only afternoon/evening
*Open daily
*Tastings for only $10!
*Leave yourself lots of time!
*Bring food or buy it there
*Bring your ID
* Plan to buy a bottle of your favorite wine to take home!

*If you're holding your empty glass AND a camera phone, don't turn the camera phone or you'll get red wine on your shirt and your friends will make fun of you mercilessly.  Or, maybe that's just my friends.

Plan Ahead:
*Someone's gotta drive home, so be sure that you plan accordingly by bringing a designated driver.  If you need to, call a cab.  Clifton Roads are windy and have lots of deer, so don't risk it.

Disclaimer: Don't be an idiot and drink and drive.  That's just not cool.  Also, I was not compensated in any way for this review, in fact, they didn't even know I was there.  We had a great time, though, and think you would, too. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, please get help. I've never written about anything alcohol-related before, I don't think, so if I'm over-disclaimering, I apologize.

Welcome to Prince William County! The Cheesecake Factory!

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Published: 11/09/2012
I want to have an entire series of posts called "The Classy-fication of Hoodbridge" but I know you guys very seldom enjoy my humor about that, so I'm going to refrain....aside from just writing it here....so yeah.
Anyway, The Cheesecake Factory with their MASSIVE menu and MASSIVE portions and Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake that you can only eat one bite of because the entire piece is like a series of mashed-together truffle-y goodness has come to Prince William County!  You'll find them located at Potomac Mills Mall outlying by the AMC Theatres side.
The restaurant is having its grand opening on Sunday, November 11th, but they had invited me out to see what the restaurant is all about.  I was so excited!

And then I woke up sick.

So. Not. Cool.
Rather than start a health crisis, I found some back-up reviewers to go for me.  Amanda Long from Prince William County Children's Choir and Jennifer Clifton from Pillar Church in Dumfries were able to go for me and get the scoop.
And by scoop, I mean tasty tasty preview meal. Wrote Amanda:
"We had a lovely time.  The food was extraordinary!"
That about sums it up.  Cheesecake Factory- Lovely Time, Extraordinary Food.  If you're planning to go, do plan to wait for a table, especially if you're bringing a larger party.
 Also to note, The Cheesecake Factory makes meals that are ideal for sharing, even the salads.  Cheesecake travels home very well (because I've never been and had room for desert even though I always split my meal and never even finish half of it!), just ask your server for your cake to-go! While you're at it, they also offer their sauces in Mason Jars to-go, so you can cook up your favorites at home! There's also a new "lighter" menu available with portions listed by number of calories, if you're trying to be good!

The very fabulous Andrea from NovaHousewives.com also went to check out The Cheesecake Factory here in Prince William County, and if you'd like her tips and behind the scenes pictures, you can find them here.

The Cheesecake Factory Potomac Mills says this about themselves:
The Cheesecake Factory menu features more than 200 menu selections made fresh from scratch each day using only the highest quality ingredients. We have expanded our offerings with a low calorie menu aptly named SkinnyLicious™. Redefining low calorie flavor, the SkinnyLicious™ menu provides guests with even more choices. The Cheesecake Factory is famous for generous portions which are ideal for sharing or taking home – but be sure to save room to enjoy one of 50 legendary cheesecakes and specialty desserts. The Cheesecake Factory gladly honors requests to modify your order to suit specific health or dietary needs. Enjoy our high-energy atmosphere seven days a week, serving appetizers, lunch, dinner, late night dining, full bar, Sunday brunch, and Curbside To-Go service. Our passion for food drives us to deliver delicious food to all of our guests. That’s why we only use fresh ingredients to make everything from scratch daily in each of our restaurants – just like you would at home in your own kitchen.

The Cheesecake Factory's hours will be Monday-Thursday from 11:30am-11:00pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:30am-12:30am, and Sunday from 10:00am-11:00pm.  They do have a brunch menu!

Want to go? How about a date night? The Cheesecake Factory is offering a PwcMoms Reader a $25 gift card for their first meal at The Cheesecake Factory here in Woodbridge!

Enter using the Rafflecopter!
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Good Luck!

Thanks to The Cheesecake Factory for the fun giveaway, and for inviting PwcMoms out for a preview.  Obviously all opinions are our own.  PwcMoms.com is not responsible for your skinny jeans not fitting if you develop an addiction to Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake. Not our fault.

Kid Care Cafe

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Published: 09/10/2012

So here's a neat idea! A new business, Kid Care Cafe, will actually bring group childcare to your home or event.  It's a flat $15 per child at the event, and I can totally see doing this for my next big game night or BBQ so that the parents can enjoy their time with grownups, but not have to worry about having their children with someone they don't know off-site.  Weddings, business parties, galas, charity events, I could see this being a really useful service! 
From their website:
Instead of staying home from an event because you don't have childcare, why not bring the kids along too? We understand this tough choice that parents often make - miss out on being social with your friends OR find a sitter and go out! We want you and your friends to go out (or stay in) while we tend to the kids. We want your kids to have fun, make new friends, and be safe. We'll make sure that happens. 
 I haven't had a chance to meet the owner yet, but she's having a special kick-off event Saturday, September 15th from 3-5pm at the NZone in Chantilly (14550 Lee Road, Chantilly VA) with free food, games, raffles, prizes, face painting and music.  I think this is definitely one to check out if you're constantly in need of childcare! I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback if you use them, too!

As a reminder, PwcMoms.com does not endorse any childcare provider.  Parents should meet with any potential babysitters, daycare providers, preschools, etc. and use their best judgement and personal discretion before leaving their children with anyone.

Where do MamaMafia Dons Dine?

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Published: 05/25/2012
Where do MamaMafia Dons Dine?

It sounds like there should be a punchline to that question- but the answer is anything but a joke.

This week I was able to spend some time (okay, almost 5 hours) at Carmello's in Old Town Manassas.  Y'all recommended Carmello's on our Reader Recommendation Restaurant Guide, and I've been wanting to try it ever since!  Andrea from Real Housewives of Northern Virginia set up a tasting, and from the moment we walked in, I was completely sold.  

Walking into Carmello's you'd never know that you're feet away from the Train Depot. Its warm colors and gold chargers invite you in, and even the sign glistens.  This would be the perfect location for a wedding or rehearsal dinner meal, and they are able to offer multiple room sizes to meet group needs.  Joining our dinner were Denise from Let Mommy Sleep/Mission Sleep, Rebecca from 3 Tiny Tyrants/Maguire Media Group, Laura from BeltwayBargainMom, and Micaela from SuperNovaMommy.  
Denise, Me, Micaela, the awesome manager Jacob, Rebeca, Laura, and Andrea
Rebecca selected a bottle from their extensive wine list for us.  There was what can only be described as the Cheesecake Factory Menu worth of wine on their list, but she picked out a fantastic red.  Twice :) (Please note- all photo credit is to Real Housewives of Northern Virginia who shared with me since I forgot to charge my phone before dinner) 
We were able to tour the restaurant.  This is the wine room.  Just for the reds.  
We had so much fun chatting with the manager, Jacob.  He selected a few dishes for us and I quickly shocked everyone since I love to cook and will try just about anything because I had never eaten ANYTHING that we had. I decided to try to handle it cultural-exchange style and just eat it :) It was all amazing, and I think I'm in love with scallops.  (Yeah, say that you've never had a scallop before at this table of women and you get 5 horrified gasps followed by two "Well you can pass them over here if you're not gonna try them!")

Okay, cell phones don't do food justice (sorry Andrea). This is shrimp and scallops over saffron rice with artichokes in a delicious creamy sauce.  I had never had a scallop before (gasp!) and am very selective about my shrimp, and since I'm not a seafood lover, let me say I loved all the seafood dishes here.  Everything was fresh and not the least bit "fishy".  Next we had veal medallions wrapped in bacon with a mushroom sauce, also over rice.

 I had (shocker) never had veal.  Also, let me confess to typically eating my meat "Well done, please, and then cook it a little more".  I didn't lick the plate....but I thought about it. This literally melted in your mouth.

Next we sampled the seafood ravioli, which had salmon (never had) and lobster cream sauce (never had lobster, either).  The salmon was probably the most out of my comfort zone, but the lobster cream sauce and I are now BFF's and I'm following it on twitter.

Now, all of this is very fancy and amazing, but it's of course special occasion/date night food.  And, when you have your next special occasion, this is where you should go.  Besides the food being amazing and the manager being friendly and knowledgable, the staff was attentive and I didn't see a single table that wanted for anything from water to clean forks.

But if you just need a little cocktail hour, Carmello's has you covered, too.  This delicious Pizza Margharita (yeah, I'd actually had this before!) Is actually from the adjoining bar, Monza.  If you're looking for a place for lunch, a light supper, or drinks with the girls, Monza has got to be it.  In addition, let me share something with you:
On Mondays, Monza has $5 martinis from a list about a mile long.  We sampled the pear, root beer float, grapefruit, a few I can't remember, and the awesome bar tender Jeff's espresso martini, which, if it were available at Starbucks, would land me in AA.  Meeting up with a few friends after work (even if work involves chasing toddlers!) at Monza would be epic. With the same warm and upscale feel, but substantially more flatscreen TVs (playing the hockey game!!) Monza is a great guy-friend or girl-friend meet up.

Also, now that summer is approaching, keep in mind that on Friday and Saturday nights, the patio is open and the side street shut down to accommodate live music.  What a great way to spend a warm summer night!

Carmello's- Entrees $23-30, elegant warm atmosphere. Going to the Hylton Performing Arts Center? Call ahead and bring your tickets and take advantage of their $35 Theatre Special before 6pm (Appetizer/Soup/Salad, Entree, Dessert).  Plan Carmello's for your next occasion and you definitely won't regret it!

Monza- $5-$17, fun upscale atmosphere, great for meeting friends! Don't forget the $5 martini Mondays, and that pasta is $4 off before 4pm, so a late lunch is an option!
Denise, Rebecca and me.  We like to segregate our Blondes and Brunettes when we dine out ;)

My group was provided with products or services for this review, however it represents my honest opinion, and I'd have written the same thing either way.  Just saying :)

Chick Fil A Mother Son "Date Knight"

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Published: 05/15/2012
When it comes to fast food, nobody does it quite like Chick-Fil-A.   From their friendly staff to great healthy options like grilled chicken nuggets and fruit cups, we're always really happy with our visits.  Even their play places have always been clean at every location we go to.  (Admittedly, we're not world travelers, but we have been to some CFA's in our time!)

One of the great parts about our local Prince William County Chick-Fil-A restaurants is that they're so kid-friendly! Whether it's family nights, movie nights, crafts, kids eat free, or special events, they're always fantastic about making sure your family can have fun!  Last year, my husband and daughter attended the Father/Daughter Date night.  My hubby was a little dubious about the whole thing when I signed him up and didn't give him an option  he decided to go :).  He wasn't sure what would make going with a reservation to fast food so special.  However, they had a great time, and were so impressed that when Mother Son "Date Knight" came up, I knew my boys and I were going.

 We went to the Woodbridge, Virginia Chick-Fil-A, and we were impressed by the set up! They turned the back half of the restaurant into a castle! The walls were draped with "stone" backdrop and they had balloons, crowns, and even cows with swords (see below)
 Note the cocktail picks.  :)  The restaurant event took the time to give some fun talking points.  My boys really enjoyed questions like "Would you rather live at the bottom of the ocean or on the moon?" and "Would you rather be a spider for a week or an elephant for a year?"  They sound really silly, but it got everyone talking, and the tables around us all seemed to be enjoying them, too!
 Next there was a "shield" we could use to make a family crest.  On the back, it explains the different animals found on crests and what they symbolize.  We decided to do an owl holding a fish because "Mommy wants us to make the wise choice, but we want to be crazy!" (Owls symbolize wisdom and fish symbolize energy).

The ever-friendly Chick-Fil-A staff (decked out with aprons and crowns) comes to take your order table side and delivers your meal on plates.  You still pay, both for yourself and the kids, so plan accordingly.  This is not a kids eat free night.  However, you do get free dessert! We got to try the new chocolate chip cookies (which are way off in the cookie-to-chocolate ratio, and I mean that in a VERY good way!) and also had the option of a brownie or an ice dream.
Of course, the cow also made an appearance! We had a lot of fun and will definitely make plans to attend again in the future!!

You can sign up to get email alerts from your local Prince William County Chick-Fil-A Restaurant! You can also follow them on Facebook.

-Chick-Fil-A Bristow, Manassas Virginia
-Chick-Fil-A Woodbridge, Woodbridge Virginia
-Chick-Fil-A Signal Hill, Manassas Virginia
-Chick-Fil-A Sudley Manor Drive, Manassas Virginia
-Chick-Fil-A Virginia Gateway, Gainesville Virginia

Chick Fil A Mother/Son Date Knight May 14, 2012

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Published: 05/01/2012

 I think that alone time with your kids is important.  We love "mommy dates" and "daddy dates" because they let our children know how special and important they are to us. 

I also love that Chick Fil A helps! It's nice to have an option that won't break the bank.  My husband and our daughter did the Daddy/Daughter Date Night last year, and were really impressed by how special and affordable it was!

From CFA Signal Hill:

Mother-Son Date Knight is an opportunity for Moms to bring their son/s for a special, 'medieval' themed evening and a chance to have one-on-one time together. It is by reservation only. When you come to the restaurant, we will seat you and provide table side service. The restaurant will be decorated, there will be an activity for the mother and son to do at the table and we like to provide an Ice Dream Sundae Bar for you to enjoy as well!

To reserve your spot, visit the reservation page.  
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