Guest Post: Top Tips to Meet Disney Characters

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Published: 07/06/2015

Top Tips to Meet Disney Characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Post: Taking the Train To Disney

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Published: 06/22/2015

Taking the Train To Disney

Have you ever thought about taking the train to Disney. My family did several summers ago. It was a very relaxing way to start our vacation. Check out my newest article on The Disney Planning Blog.
If you live near Washington DC you should consider taking the Amtrak Auto Train to Disney.  The Auto Train leaves daily and runs between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida (43 miles from Disney World).  This is my kids’ favorite way to reach Florida.  At times it has been more relaxing than the normal 2-hour flight with all the stress of air travel.  Your fare includes coach seating and all your meals (dinner and breakfast).  You can upgrade your ticket for sleeping accommodations at an additional cost.

Once at the terminal you will be directed to park your car.  Each passenger will be allowed to bring two carry-on bags.  Make sure you put any medications or other important items in your carry-on.  Once your car is taken away you will not have access to it until it is unloaded the next day.  All other items will remain in your car. Upon arrival inside the welcome center you will check in and choose your dinner seating time.  Passengers wait until boarding is announced.
The Auto Train leaves each station at 4:30pm and arrives at its destination by 8:30am.  It takes approximately 2 hours to load and unload all vehicles.  Therefore you are requested to be at the train station to load no later than 2:30pm.
There are restrictions on vehicle size.  You should check for more information or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.

If you have coach tickets you will be seated in a Superliner coach car.  The seats here have footrests and lean back.  First Class passengers will be assigned a sleeping car.  A train attendant will be able to direct you to the correct sleeping compartment.

Once the train leaves the station, guests will be able to visit the Club car for refreshments and light snacks.  A wine tasting is offered in the Lounge Car an hour prior to departure.  Dinner is usually served at three different times.  Meals are included in the cost of your fare.  Dinner usually consists of a choice of 5 different entrees – chicken, fish, beef, vegetarian and special.  You will also be provided with drinks, salad and dessert, wine is complementary at dinner.  Children can order from another menu if they prefer.  Breakfast is continental with your choice of cereal, muffins bagels, fruit, juices and coffee.  For entertainment movies are shown several times during the evening.
Bedding is provided for sleeping car passengers.  Your attendant will inquire prior to dinner what time you would like your seats converted to beds.  Coach passengers will be given a blanket and small pillow.  Feel free to bring your own pillow on board.

Watching the countryside fly by while sipping a glass of wine is so much better than fighting traffic on I-95.  The kids love the freedom of the train, being able to walk around and stretch their legs.  Our family was able to start our vacation the moment the conductor said “All Aboard!”
The procedures for travelling north are similar to traveling south.

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

Guest Post: Nerd Block Jr Boys/Girls Review

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Published: 06/17/2015
Rhubarb & blackberry here again with another review of child-oriented subscription boxes. today we have nerd block jr!  Nerd block jr has both a boy's and a girl's version and we were lucky enough to get one of each to review for you.  we'll do them side by side so you can compare what is in each one.

month-to-month: $13.99/month + $6 shipping
3 month sub: $12.59/month + $6 shipping
6 month sub: $11.89/month + $6 shipping
12 month sub: $11.19/month + $6 shipping
what you get
geeky toys for kids aged 6-11
here are the two boxes side by side.  the toys included in the boy's box will be listed on the right and the girl's box will be listed on the left.

Adventure Time Mad Libs - $3.25

we remember mad libs from when we were young - and they're still just as funny.  a great thing to share with your children!

The Quest for the Diamond Sword Novel - $6.41

this is a really nice chapter book and minecraft is popular with kids right now.

Frozen Reusable Sandwich + Snack Bag - $6.99

who doesn't know about frozen?  and we can't think of any young girls who don't like it.  great for school lunches!

Justice League On-The-Go Bottle - $6.49

this particular type of water bottle is very popular right now.  the graphics on this one are really bright and fun!

Hello Kitty Monsters Collection Zombie - $5.99

hello kitty is super cute as a monster - which one will you get?  she can hang out on your child's bookbag or lunchbox.

Tech Deck Star Wars Yoda - $12.00

these tech deck toys have been around for a long time and are still very popular.  with the return of a new star wars movie - these are right on trend.

Sonic The Hedgehog Collector's Edition Bouncy Ball - $11.23

all kids love bouncy balls and this one is supposed to be super bouncy!  

Sick Bricks Set w/Smokey Burns & Gus Groucho - $3.99

this is a new video game type toy - you have to scan the package and then you can play online.  

The Monster Factory 5" Plush Colin - $8.98

we've never heard of the monster factory, but chances are, the nearest 8 year old has.  this plush freaks us out a little.

Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon Magnet - $2.09

not sure how popular a magnet will be with kids, but you could hang their artwork on the fridge with it.

Girl's Box Value - $36.44

Boy's Box Value - $30.98

the value is there for both boxes and they contain items that are fun for their target audience of 6-11 year olds.  if you think that your children would enjoy a subscription - just click here!  use promo code "continue" to save 25% off your first box~
Author Bio: Rhubarb has lived in Prince William County for almost 16 years and is the mom to three wonderful young men. She is a sometime author and is active in her church. To relax she enjoys finding seashells on the beach and snorkeling for them in the ocean. Her new website and blog Rhubarb&Blackberry: Musings of a Landlocked Mermaid is a work in progress and is more fun than she could have imagined. Her current obsession is subscription boxes (beauty, food, home & lifestyle) and she hopes to launch her own branded items sometime this year.

Guest Post: Disney and Food Allergies

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Published: 06/08/2015

Disney and Food Allergies

Disney wants to make sure that each guest has a magical and safe visit while vacationing. My husband and son each have a different food allergy and I have always been impressed that Disney will go the extra step and have the chef stop by our table for all sit down reservations to go over the menu. On year my son wanted to eat at ‘Ohana. We have never eaten there before. His had a pineapple allergy and everything on the menu is glazed in pineapple juice or touching a pineapple in some way. We decided to give it a try and see if he could be accommodated. The Castmember had no issue placing a special order for chicken nuggets and sent someone down to Captain Cooks to retrieve them for us. My son was so happy that he could finally eat among the Tikis and participate in the coconut races while enjoying his dinner.

Special meals and desserts are easier to order at a table service meal than the quick service or buffet options. So make sure you research your options before making your dining reservations. Make sure that you have the allergies noted at the time you make your ADR reservations. You can also make these notations by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
Disney will also begin to introduce new allergy friendly menus at approximately 120 quick service and table service locations. These menus will provide allergen content for each menu item, making informed choices easier and focus on the more common allergens: gluten/wheat, milk peanut, three nut and fish. The new menus will be available at all Signature restaurants starting April 14th and will be rolled out to all others through September 2015. You can view a sample menu HERE.
In addition, EpiPen Auto-Injectors are now located at First Aid stations throughout Disney Parks and on Disney cruise ships with personnel trained in how to administer them.
The Special Diets Team is only a phone call away. I highly recommend that you contact them at least 2 weeks prior to your vacation to make all special requests.

Walt Disney World – email: – Phone: 407-WDW-DINE
Disney Cruise Line – email: special – Phone: 407-566-3602

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

Guest Review: iBbeautiful

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Published: 06/02/2015
We've reviewed quite a number of boxes, so believe us when we say that this is a very special sub box.  When we opened it - we were floored by the items included and how thoughtful and lovely they were.  iBbeautiful mission is "to help young girls realize they are beautiful just as they are without comparisons to how others look or act.  We do this by offering a monthly box of inspiration that includes fun lifestyle items and a message of empowerment to help young girls be confident, smart, brave, unique and kind.  Every girl should be confident that she will become the woman she is meant to be and can achieve anything she sets her mind to". We love this box. iBbeautiful kindly sent us this box free for review purposes.

There are two age groups that you can choose a box for: 8-12 and then 13+.
For either sub you can choose  the basic box (with no t-shirt) for $20 or you can get the box with t-shirt included for $30.  If you want a one-time only box the costs are $24 and $34 respectively.

Shipping is included in the above prices.

What do you get? 
Every box will have fun lifestyle items that promote a message of empowerment to young girls.
Each box includes a card that shares their positive, caring and empowering curation for the month.  Also included is a card detailing all of the items included and their values.
Bra Strap Headband (value $8) - this is ingenious and adorable.  Not really a bra strap, but a great idea for old bras.  You can wear it so many different ways and it has quality construction.

Aspire Journal (value $3) - This notebook is the perfect size for tucking into a pocket and jotting down dreams, ideas and other important notes on the run.  The message on the front is a reminder to invest in yourself and to work for the things where your heart is.
True Girl Exfoliator (value $18.50) - We loved this gentle scrub!!  It smells like a mix of berries and apple and left our skin feeling so clean and soft.  Great for teens to help with breakouts.

Zipper Headphones (value $8) - We can't believe that the value on these headphones is so low.  They are super nice and we really like them.  The zipper on them makes storage a breeze and the cool factor is seriously on fleek (did we just say that?)
Spring Scarf (value $18) - LOVE!  This is a beautiful, soft and airy scarf that is perfect for the fashions on trend right now.  The soft pink coloring with pale chocolate detailing is dreamy.
Aspire Graphic T-Shirt (value $22) - Super well-constructed fitted t-shirt.

(Value $77.50) - Wow - this is an incredible value (considering the box only costs $30).  It is so wonderful to see a company that wants to empower young girls to love who they are, the way they are.  All of the items were very age appropriate (nothing too mature) and of a great quality.  We think this is one of our favorite tween/teen boxes.
Author Bio: Rhubarb has lived in Prince William County for almost 16 years and is the mom to three wonderful young men. She is a sometime author and is active in her church. To relax she enjoys finding seashells on the beach and snorkeling for them in the ocean. Her new website and blog Rhubarb&Blackberry: Musings of a Landlocked Mermaid is a work in progress and is more fun than she could have imagined. Her current obsession is subscription boxes (beauty, food, home & lifestyle) and she hopes to launch her own branded items sometime this year.

Guest Post Review: Geek Fuel

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Published: 05/27/2015
Hi everyone!  This week we are reviewing two boxes for you to check out.  Both of these are geared more toward tweens and teens.  We have Geek Fuel up first and then we will have iBBeautiful.  We hope that between these two subs we have your tween/teen boys and girls covered.  Up first - Geek Fuel!

Geek Fuel is a geek and gamer box that is relatively new that is geared toward 9-14 year olds.  Their first box came out in December and they've become very popular, very quickly.

A monthly sub is $17.90, $16.90 per month for a 3 month subscription, $15.90 per month for a 6 month subscription and $13.90 per month for a yearly subscription.

Geek Fuel ships to the US ($6.00 shipping fee), Canada, and other countries.

What do you get? 
Every box will have a t-shirt, toy/collectible, game download and more.   Geek Fuel kindly sent us this box for review purposes.
A t-shirt is included in every box.  This is a very high quality t-shirt.  It appears to be an exclusive for Geek Fuel and is a fun print.  This shirt is a mash-up of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Avengers which has the turtles as Iron Man, Hawk, Thor and Captain America while April is Black Widow.
There were some Jelly Belly beans and two boxes of candy sticks included.  We're not sure if there is candy in every box, but a treat is always a welcome addition!  The jelly beans were delicious and the candy sticks remind us of the candy cigarettes we used to have when we were younger (which would be *SOOOO* not politically correct these days, so now we have "sticks"). The Scribblenauts Unmasked Mystery Box character is adorable and we received Green Arrow who is a super hot hero right now.  He is listed as ?/18 so he may be a rare one!
Breakstuff Club Coffee Mug - This is a very nice quality mug and we've run it through our dishwasher several times and there is no color or graphic loss.  This also appears to be exclusive to Geek Fuel and is great for younger or older fans (remember Breakfast Club parents?) Avengers characters are represented by school lockers and the mash-up includes Loki (as the Princess), Incredible Hulk (as the Basket Case), Iron Man (as the Brain), Captain American (as the Athlete) and Spiderman (as the Criminal).

Also included:  a Kingdom Wars Battles downloadable game code and sticker sheet.  The game download is worth $20.  Very cool that a game download is included in every box - this pays for the price of the box in itself.  No other gamer boxes do this that we're aware of.
The Geek Guide is included in every box and tells about the curation of the box.  Plus you get a retro video game magazine which has great articles for geeks and gamers alike.

BOTTOM LINE:  There are so many exclusive and neat items in the Geek Fuel subscription.  We love that there is a t-shirt and downloadable game code in every box - those two items push the value for each box well beyond twice what you pay for it.  The collectible figure is super cool!  There is great value for your money here if you have a tween/teen who is into gamer/geek items!  Or maybe even a grown-up who is :)
Author Bio: Rhubarb has lived in Prince William County for almost 16 years and is the mom to three wonderful young men. She is a sometime author and is active in her church. To relax she enjoys finding seashells on the beach and snorkeling for them in the ocean. Her new website and blog Rhubarb&Blackberry: Musings of a Landlocked Mermaid is a work in progress and is more fun than she could have imagined. Her current obsession is subscription boxes (beauty, food, home & lifestyle) and she hopes to launch her own branded items sometime this year.

Guest Review: Crafter's Crate

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Published: 05/13/2015

Crafter's Crate Review

Today's review is about Crafter's Crate.  They were founded by a husband and wife to get kids excited about reading and to grow & nurture their imaginations.  Originally made just for girls, the team found that so many brothers were sneaking into their sister's crates that they began making boxes that were more inclusive.  Their target age group is 5-10 year olds. Their classic crate is $24/month.  However you can save money by signing up for a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription (the yearly subscription brings the rate down to only $17.50 per month).  You can also purchase a "Sibling Crate" which will provide twice the activities & crafts and is an additional $9.95 per month.

Crafter's Crate is offering PWC Mom and RhubarbandBlackberry readers a special discount.  Just use promo code PWC10 to get $10 off your first box!

Crafter's Crate has kindly sent us this box free of charge for review purposes.
Your first box will include a map that you can put monthly stickers on for your current crafting adventure.  This month a drink single was also included!
The team writes a new activity and adventure book every month.  This month's theme was "The Great Safari Race".
Inside the activity book are games and puzzles to do.  The Craft-A-Long book includes a theme-related story with instructions on how to do your crafts for the month.  I'm going to post two photos for each craft.  One showing the items as they arrive and the second showing all of the parts laid out.
The first craft for this month is to make a pair of elephant ears that you can wear.  Everything you need is included in your box.
The next activity is to make a pair of safari binoculars.
This month there is a game!  It's called "Distract the Crocodiles" and looks adorable and fun to make & play.
The last craft is a Spiderweb Kindness card.  After your children have made it, they are supposed to put it somewhere prominent to remind them to always do random acts of kindness.

I think this is a really cute subscription box.  With a yearly subscription bringing the cost down to $17.50 per month, I think it's a great value, too.  There are so many things to do with just the one month, I feel it will keep children entertained for more than just a few hours.  And with the game, you can play that over and over again.  Both boys and girls would enjoy it as well.
Author Bio: Rhubarb has lived in Prince William County for almost 16 years and is the mom to three wonderful young men. She is a sometime author and is active in her church. To relax she enjoys finding seashells on the beach and snorkeling for them in the ocean. Her new website and blog Rhubarb&Blackberry: Musings of a Landlocked Mermaid is a work in progress and is more fun than she could have imagined. Her current obsession is subscription boxes (beauty, food, home & lifestyle) and she hopes to launch her own branded items sometime this year.

Review/Giveaway: Surprise Ride

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Published: 05/06/2015
We have a guest poster who's going to be doing some special reviews of subscription boxes for kids/moms for us! Check out her first review of Surprise Ride:

Added bonus! Ms. Rhubarb has secured a giveaway for you guys! To win your own Surprise Ride box, enter using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio: Rhubarb has lived in Prince William County for almost 16 years and is the mom to three wonderful young men. She is a sometime author and is active in her church. To relax she enjoys finding seashells on the beach and snorkeling for them in the ocean. Her new website and blog Rhubarb&Blackberry: Musings of a Landlocked Mermaid is a work in progress and is more fun than she could have imagined. Her current obsession is subscription boxes (beauty, food, home & lifestyle) and she hopes to launch her own branded items sometime this year.

As always, our giveaway rules apply.

Guest Post: BumbleABC

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Published: 01/18/2015
Thanks to Katrina for sharing about BumbleABC with us! If you'd like to guest post, just shoot me an email! 

BumbleABC is a wonderful little place inside of Engineering for Kids located in Lake Ridge, Virginia. Bumble ABC offers workshops, classes, and programs for infants – 6 year olds. They also offer field trips and birthday parties.

BumbleABC was founded and created by two local moms,  Lisa Dillard and Dori Roberts. How cool is that?!

We went and checked out their Open Play for the first time the other day. Im not sure what I was expecting going in, I mean I knew it would be good, but this place is so awesome. My kids are still talking about it days later!

When you first walk into the building there is a waiting area and a customer service desk! Off to the side is a little spot for coffee, tea, and water.

So once you get your kiddos name tags and get all squared away with the awesome people at the desk, you can go into the play area.

OHHHHhhhhh the play area! There are HUGE foam blocks for building, a Lego wall, an area with magnaforms, potato heads, etc., a wind tunnel, a car track, a room for infants (a ROOM for INFANTS yall!), and oh so much more.

The kids had so much fun. They painted, they ran, they jumped, they used their little noggins, and got all that built up energy out!

The things that stuck out to me the most were how KIND and ACCEPTING the employees were of all the children, and the layout. I love that I can see my children pretty much wherever they went.

Quote from the 2 year old “I loved crawling through the tunnel!”

You can check out there upcoming Open Plays ( and other programs) HERE. (Link for that is

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Katrina is a Stay At Home Mom to three, one girl and two boys, and wife to her high school sweetheart. She is passionate about her faith, family, natural living, the outdoors, and all things creative. If you liked this post you can find more at Sunflowers On The Hill, where she blogs about life as a SAHM, her faith, and as well as everything in between. You can also follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.

Guest Post: Supplements While Nursing

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Published: 10/28/2014
Earlier this summer, I asked you for your fitness/health/nutrition related questions for Max Muscle Owner Corry Matthews to respond to.  Thanks, Corry! 

Supplements for Moms who are nursing (Pre/Postnatal)

This is a question I am often asked - what supplements are safe during pregnancy.  Max Muscle Sports Nutrition carries several that I highly recommend to pregnant and nursing moms (if you aren't nursing, you aren't sharing the supplements post-partum with your baby so you can choose any range of supplements).

Protein Powder - these are easy portable ways to get nutrition in on the go, especially when you either don't feel like eating or don't have the time to cook protein.  Max Muscle offers a variety that are safe for both mother and baby.  MaxPro and Triple Whey are milk based proteins and generally safe for for pregnant moms.  Test babies tolerance if nursing by having one shake a day, if baby shows no signs of increased irritation 1-2 hours post shake than you can assume it was ok.  If you desire is to add more shakes do so, every 2-3 days, similar to how you introduce new foods to your baby.

Omega 3-6-9 - opt for a high quality nutraceutical.  This is good for both mom and baby - reducing inflammation, enhancing brain function and provides essential fats.  Another option is the Omega 3 plus.

Multi-Vitamin - choose a high quality prenatal multi-vitamin and take it during your entire pregnancy and post partum as long as you nurse your baby.  The additional iron, folic acid and b-vitamins are good for developing red blood cells, reducing neural tube defects in babies, and preventing anemia.  I highly recommend the MN Prenatal.

**For more on this topic, be sure to check out Corry's book- 9 Months In 9 Months Out.  Written by several women who are both mothers and experts in their field, this book discusses the second nine months of pregnancy- the ones AFTER the baby is born.  

This post is brought to you by Corry Matthews, owner of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Manassas and Springfield.  Corry is a mother of 2, author, and certified nutrition expert with a speciality in pregnancy-related nutrition. You can reach her at: 
                                                       Corry Matthews 703-772-7113

Guest Post: Postnatal Nutrition

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Published: 10/14/2014
Earlier this summer, I asked you for your fitness/health/nutrition related questions for Max Muscle Owner Corry Matthews to respond to.  Thanks, Corry! 

Postnatal Nutrition:
Wow...9, really 10 months is over and now you really want to get your body back in shape.  Well, hold on, it took 10 months to put on the additional weight, and it may take the same amount of time, some less some more, to lose it!  Here are the basics for eating to lose baby weight:

                If you are breastfeeding, do not begin dieting until after your milk supply has been established - this usually takes 2-4 weeks.  Also if breastfeeding ensure you are drinking ample amounts of water to maintain milk supply.  A good way to ensure this is happening, drink 8-10oz. of water every time you nurse your baby.

                Do not lose more than 1-2 pounds per week and do not drop your calories below 1000.  Losing weight too quickly may lead to fatigue, loss of muscle, decreased milk supply, depression and sagging skin. 

                Follow the same guidelines as during pregnancy when it comes to the foods you should be consuming until baby is at least 3 months old.  After 3 months postpartum your body is well on its way to recovery.

**For more on this topic, be sure to check out Corry's book- 9 Months In 9 Months Out.  Written by several women who are both mothers and experts in their field, this book discusses the second nine months of pregnancy- the ones AFTER the baby is born.  

This post is brought to you by Corry Matthews, owner of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Manassas and Springfield.  Corry is a mother of 2, author, and certified nutrition expert with a speciality in pregnancy-related nutrition. You can reach her at: 
                                                         Corry Matthews 703-772-7113

Guest Post: 8 Easy Steps to Save Money, Help the Environment and Our Community

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Published: 09/23/2014
8 Easy Steps to Save Money, Help the Environment and Our Community

Being green is a big buzzword these days. Everyone has heard of being eco-friendly and helping to reduce the environmental footprint, but many don’t know what they can do, or think their one contribution won’t make much of a dent.

At home, you can help protect the environment in so many ways. Every small step helps our community to become cleaner and helps make an impact on the environment. 

Everyone can do their part by practicing the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

We can all make some changes in our home that are easy and save us money! Here are some tips that are easy to do:
  • ·      Reuse and recycle what you already have! You can save tons of money on storage containers by reusing glass and plastic food containers when they are empty.
  • ·      Participate in recycling programs, such as recycling cans, plastic, glass and paper products.
  • ·      Use bio-degradable trash bags that are made of corn and dissolve over time, adding less plastic to our landfills.
  • ·      Save water and energy by avoiding using permanent press cycle when doing laundry, which uses an added 5 gallons for the extra rinse. Wash laundry in cold water, since 80-90% of the machines energy is used to heat the water. I promise your clothes will be clean!
  • ·      Avoid washing your car in your driveway.  Who has the time anyhow! Few people realize that washing our cars in our driveways is one of the most environmentally unfriendly things we can do. The average home driveway car wash uses 140 gallons of water, whereas an environmentally friendly car wash uses just 30 gallons and recycles water in a controlled water management system. And the soap chemicals run off your car and go straight into our storm drains which eventually get into our river, streams, creeks and bays where it poisons aquatic life and wreaks other ecosystem havoc.
  • ·      Use non-toxic cleaners in your home. There are many natural cleaners on the market these days that you can buy.
  • ·      You can also make great environmentally safe cleaners out of regular household items. The acid in white vinegar makes it naturally capable of killing mold and bacteria, and you can use it to clean mirrors and windows. Baking soda is great for deodorizing, especially with all that sports equipment from your kids.  Lemon juice is another bacteria killer and is a multi-purpose cleaner that’s useful for scrubbing walls and floors.
  • ·      Turn off Lights: I know this sounds incredibly easy and almost silly, but turning off the lights when you are not using them, as well as putting your computers, TV’s, etc on a power strip and turning them off nightly, saves tons of money and energy.  Electronics use a huge amount of energy, so turning them off helps reduce our energy consumption.

Not only will this help reduce the environmental footprint, but can also rid your home of the toxins that can cause major health problems from continuous exposure or even small amounts of exposure over time.

You can also help teach your children about being good to our earth by making small changes in your home which are easy, more economical, and SMART!

This post is brought to you by Suzanne Behrens, owner of The Smart Car Wash in Woodbridge.  Suzanne is a mother of 3, local business owner, and someone who cares about keeping our community clean.  You can reach her at .

Guest Post: Eating for Two

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Published: 09/16/2014

Earlier this summer, I asked you for your fitness/health/nutrition related questions for Max Muscle Owner Corry Matthews to respond to. Thanks, Corry! 

Eating for Two
You've always considered yourself a healthy eater.  You take special precaution to make sure you have enough protein, the right amount and types of carbs, you've included the 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies and the good fats...but now you're about to have a baby or just had what?  The same principles of healthy eating and supplementation apply to pregnancy and postpartum but the difference is - what you eat, your baby also eats.  Many moms find that they actually eat healthier knowing their baby is eating what they are eating.  However (yep, me included) many moms also like to indulge in their yummy, not so healthy friends - the fast food, desserts and oh so necessary salt - THAT IS OK TOO!
Lets talk specifics:
Prenatal Nutrition:
With a growing baby in the uterus, mom will go through many different phases of what she is craving and what she wants to eat.  Here are the basics:
•                Protein - provides the basic building blocks for growing tissue (aka BABY).  The National Academy of Science recommends 74-100 grams of protein per day during pregnancy.  Try to get protein in small amounts throughout the day - not into eating meat, try protein shakes, and dairy.
•                Carbohydrates - ah, this number is elevated during pregnancy to give the mom and baby energy.  The RDA (recommended daily allowance) is 175 grams per day.  My rule of thumb, 80% of the time choose healthy carbohydrates and the other 20% choose what your body is really craving - sweets, salt, etc.
•                Fats - have a variety of fat daily.  Great choices include nuts, avocado, olive oils and fatty fish.  Pay careful attention to fish with high mercury levels and eat them no more than once per week (albacore tuna).
•                Remember, you only need an additional 200-300 calories in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.  Most women only need to gain 25-35 pounds of weight during pregnancy; anything above this is weight you will be working extra hard in the gym post baby to take off, while you are overly tired and adjusting to a new schedule.  So, indulge, but not too much!

This post is brought to you by Corry Matthews, owner of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Manassas and Springfield.  Corry is a mother of 2, author, and certified nutrition expert with a speciality in pregnancy-related nutrition. You can reach her at: 
                                                         Corry Matthews 703-772-7113

Guest Post: How Do I Get My Child to Eat Healthy?

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Published: 09/02/2014
Earlier this summer, I asked you for your fitness/health/nutrition related questions for Max Muscle Owner Corry Matthews to respond to.  Here's the first one- it's actually a few questions in one! Thanks, Corry! 

Your nutrition is the key to your child’s.

What’s the single best way to change your child’s dietary habits – look at what you (as the parent) eat!  With school starting parents always ask “How do I get my child to eat a healthy breakfast?”  and “How do I ensure they are eating the right stuff for lunch and/or dinner?”

Here is the same question phrased a little differently “How do I get my children to stop eating junk”, “How do I get my kids to eat vegetables?”

In today’s society eating “balanced” can be really hard with commuting, long hours and after school activities.  The truth is – it starts and ends with the parents!  You are your child’s primary role model and your children look to you for what to eat.  Think about your breakfast today…did you have one?  Was it coffee?  What did your children see you eat before you tackled the day?  How about you dinner last night – did you eat all your vegetables?  Did you make sure everyone had a serving?
Setting goals as a family is key to getting everyone to eat better!  Here are a few simple tips that will help…

  • ·      Eat within 30 minutes of waking up
  • ·      Get at least 3 solid meals per day – start of the day, mid-day and end of the day
  • ·      Add a protein to every carbohydrate (yep, even breakfast & snacks)
  • ·      Think COLOR for every meal – what veggies or fruits can you add into your meal?  Remember, moms and dads you have to eat it too!
  • ·      Don’t drink your calories – this goes for everyone in the family – only exception should be milk for those under 2 or underweight

Small meal ideas:
  • ·      Half a whole-wheat bagel with almond butter or tahini
  • ·      Yogurt shake made with vanilla yogurt, banana and orange juice
  • ·      Hard-boiled egg sliced with whole grain toast or bowl of low sugar ceral
  • ·      Small bran muffin (homemade or one you trust to be wholesome) with nut or seed butter
  • ·      Almond butter on cinnamon-raisin toast
  • ·      Half a turkey sandwich in pita bread with sliced tomato and sprouts
  • ·      Small bowl of low-fat granola topped with half a banana and a dollop of yogurt
  • ·      Open-faced broiled low-fat cheese on whole-wheat
  • ·      Breakfast food can be served anytime of the day AND, you don’t have to serve breakfast foods at breakfast

This post is brought to you by Corry Matthews, owner of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Manassas and Springfield.  Corry is a mother of 2, author, and certified nutrition expert with a speciality in pregnancy-related nutrition. You can reach her at: 
                                                               Corry Matthews 703-772-7113

Children's Museum of Richmond Fredericksburg Location

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Published: 07/21/2014

Playskool Playdate

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Published: 07/12/2014
Note: Local Mom Debbi attended the same high school as me, and was kind enough to attend the Playskool Playdate at Top of the Town in Arlington for me since my kids are a little too old! She has three children, ages 4, 2.5, and 6 months. Here she shares a little about the toys and experience.  You can find more of Debbi's writing on her blog or follow her on Instagram.

Instead of lounging around the house on this rainy morning, we got to test out new toys at the Playskool Playdate in Arlington, VA.  I knew the girls would enjoy themselves but baby Matthew (6m) seemed to have the most fun. 
There was tons to do for the infant / toddler age group.  A variety of Elmo toys were available and they were all approved by Matthew – the big eyes and squishy hands and feet were a hit.  Cailin (age 2) also enjoyed the Sesame Street Talking ABC Elmo.  Elmo’s guitar was a fun prop for the girls and Matthew was happy to use it as a teether.  The Shapes ‘n Colors Turtle was bright and loud and Matthew could operate it on his own (always a plus).  His favorite toy seemed to be the Stack n Spin Monkey Gears. 
The toys were all available on a foam ABC mat which was inviting but as soon as kids began to pull apart the letters, choking hazards were everywhere.  This was a smaller version of the ABC foam mat often seen in play areas. 

Many older toys were re-presented in new ways:
- Glow worms (Matthew snuggled one in the stroller as I reminisced about my old green glow worm …from times of yore)
- Mr Potato Heads- with super hero capes and transformer pieces (Mixable Mashable Heroes)
- Ele-fun ball poppers – looked similar to the original, minus the flimsy trunk that always collapsed
Charlotte (4) and Cailin (2.5) were enthralled with the balloon maker, the face painter, and the fried macaroni and cheese balls.  Many of the preschool aged toys were targeted towards boys: Transformers, Spiderman (figurines and cars), and Marvel Super Heroes.  My girls stopped to give these toys a quick look but moved on quickly.  They were hoping for something representing Elsa and Anna (what preschool girl isn’t?). 
Juice boxes and hot dogs proved to be a success at lunch but the toddler chairs and tables were shaky at best.  I think they’re made to disassemble for storage which has its perks… but it wouldn’t be long before one of my squirmy kids would be crying on the floor. 

We had a very fun morning and are very excited about the swag we got to bring home!  Thanks for sharing the opportunity with us Kristina!

Guest Post: Fit Mommies

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Published: 04/09/2014

Max Muscle is an advertising sponsor of  You can find them in the Harris Teeter shopping center at the intersection of Hoadly and the PW Parkway.  Owner Corry Matthews is happy to provide fitness consultations, product recommendations, and more.  It might be called Max Muscle- but the store is designed for people at any point on their fitness journey. 

Guest Post: Prince William County’s Best Kept Secret for Weary Mommies

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Published: 10/03/2013

For those of you who feel like you’re hangin’ on by your fingernails…I hear you!!  Allow me to share with you my story of survival…

My husband has been out of town this week, so I’ve been doing my best to single parent our FOUR little girls 8 and under (one of whom is potty training…which FEELS like the equivalent of having newborn triplets in my humble opinion). 

Yesterday, after spending most of the day deep cleaning the summer crumbs and cobwebs (and feces) away, I could not fathomthe thought of my freshly sanitized kitchen being destroyed by another meal.  The kids were bouncing off the walls, I was starting to lose my cool, and things appeared to be heading south quick. 

Then I remembered.

It was Tuesday night.   

We drove north to exit 156 and as soon as the IKEA sign came into clear view, it was as though I was staring at the Statue of Liberty herself, bright torch held high to the evening sky.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
 Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  The 
sonnet engraved at the base of her Lady Liberty started to ring in my ears.  “Send these…the tempest-tost to me..,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

You think I’m being melodramatic, but when I arrived at the IKEA cafeteria for Kids Eat Free night, it was as though I had stumbled upon a support group for Mothers of Small Children.  School House Rock played on the TV in the background while we introduced ourselves, talked about potty training survival tips, and tried to teach our toddlers not to steal each other’s chicken fingers and meatballs. One mom asked if I had ever come to IKEA twice on a Tuesday (free lunch and free dinner).  I said no, but noted it for future reference.

In between sips of Lingonberry juice we made new friends journeying through the same season of life and encouraged each other because God knows we need it.  And then we dropped off the delightful little souls in IKEA’s safe and wonderful play place, Smáland, where they frolicked in the magical “forest” after being firmly instructed/threatened to not have an accident in the ball pit (Children must be potty trained to go to Smáland).

So, next time you feel like you’ve reached your end and you’re not sure where to turn, just remember, IKEA will feed you ALL (You only have to pay for ONE adult meal!), and even watch your children for you (If you apply for an IKEA family card, children can stay in Smáland for one hour).  What a cup of cold water for those of us in the trenches.  

Thank you, IKEA, for preserving me and our posterity this Tuesday and for many Tuesdays to come. 

Annie Brogan Garman feels HIGHLY UNQUALIFIED in her role as a mother, but is willing to talk about it just in case it helps others who feel the same way.   She is a wife to Colby John and a mother to four gorgeous girls:  Haley Jane, Darcy Elaine, Gracie Kane, and Penelope Raine.  They all serve at Pillar Church in Northern Virginia ( where their husband/father just happens to be the Pastor.  If you don't mind her transparent writing (on everything from her inadequacies to plucking chin hairs) you can find her at  

“The Watson’s Go To Birmingham”

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Published: 09/21/2013
Set your DVR's for a special treat on the Hallmark Channel, as a part of the new Friday night “Walden Family Theatre” series.  The beloved book "The Watson's Go To Birmingham" comes to life on the screen, this Friday, 9/20, 8 PM (ET/PT) with a talented cast, starring Tony® Award winner and Grammy® Award nominee Anika Noni Rose (“The Good Wife,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Princess and the Frog”).  Also starring are three-time Tony® Award nominee and Grammy® Award nominee David Alan Grier ("Porgy and Bess," "PEEPLES," “In Living Color”), Skai Jackson (“Jessie”), Wood Harris (“The Wire,” “Remember The Titans”), LaTanya Richardson Jackson (“The Fighting Temptations”), Pauletta Washington (“Beloved”), Bryce Clyde Jenkins (“Easy A,” “Have A Little Faith”) and Harrison Knight (“We the Party”).

Tonik Productions is one of the many companies responsible for bringing this project to fruition.  Nikki Silver is an Emmy® Award- winning producer and chief creator of ToniK Productions. Tonya Lee Lewis has partnered with Nikki Silver to form this production company.  Nikki Silver has been persistent in her efforts to see the book, The Watson’s Go To Birmingham, written by Christopher Paul Curtis, published by Random House Children’s Books, come alive on the screen.

“The Watsons Go To Birmingham” is presented by ARC Entertainment, Walden Media, Walmart and Procter & Gamble and is a ToniK Production. Louis J. Grieci III, Ben Simon, Janet M. Morrison, Aaron Tucker, Jim Bechtold, Trevor Drinkwater, Brad Liebow and Brian Wells serve as executive producers and Philip Kleinbart, Nikki Silver and Tonya Lewis Lee serve as producers.  Tonya Lewis Lee, Stephen Glantz and Caliope Brattlestreet wrote the teleplay and Kenny Leon is the director. 

Photo Left to Right: Kenny Leon, Anika Noni Rose, Harrison Knight, Nikki Silver
According to director, Kenny Leon, “The Watson’s Go To Birmingham” is “a love story, a family story, that the whole family can sit down and watch and do that one thing together.  Laugh together, think together, even shed a tear together but this movie is all about family and all about love, just what the Hallmark channel represents.”

 Photo: Kenny Leon and Anika Noni Rose Photo: Tonya Lewis Lee                                               

On Tuesday evening, I attended the Red Carpet Washington DC premiere of this film at the Newseum, as part of the press for PWC Moms. Honorable William A. Bell, Sr., Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, where the majority of the movie takes place, also attended this amazing event.  The Mayor of Birmingham brought artifacts from this historic time in Birmingham to the event for a temporary display that evening.  The artifacts included: Pews from the16th St. Baptist Church; a segregated lunch counter; a segregated water fountain; mug shots of people arrested after the e Children’s Crusade march and shrapnel from the church bombing.  The artifacts brought you back to a time in history where there was a movement for equal rights and for humanity.

The film takes place in 1963, upon the anniversary of life changing events during the civil right movement.  As children, we are taught facts about this era of time but this movie brings in the human spirit through the eyes of an 12 year old African American child experiencing racism firsthand in Birmingham, Alabama.

Photo of Honorable William A. Bell, Sr., Mayor of Birmingham, AL, and a photo of segregated water fountains

This is a movie that every family in America should watch as it portrays so accurately what it would be like to experience racism and bullying during the civil rights movement in the South.  Tonya Lee Lewis states “The Watson’s Go To Birmingham” is about a Northern family that travels to Birmingham and experiences racism, up close and personal, during the summer of 1963.”  During the film, the family comes closer together and overcomes fear and develops courage to stand up for what is right.

Through the eyes of a “tween” who attended the screening, Amada, 12 years old, believes that “kids should watch this film because they will take away the important message that it's important to understand our history so that it will not ever be repeated again." 

When I asked the director, Kenny Leon, what questions we should be asking our kids when we watch this movie together he stated these two crucial questions “Do you know what racism is?” Do you know what bullying is?” He said, as a parent, we must discuss with our kids the events that took place during 1963 and discuss the injustice at that time but also remind them of the good people in the world who influence positive changes.  He said that “Ultimately, Love Wins!”

The performances of the cast are stellar and especially noteworthy is Bryce Clyde Jenkin’s performance of 12 year old Kenny Watson.  By the end of the movie, you will have laughed, cried and experience critical thinking about the civil rights movement.  This movie will speak meaningful conversations between families.

If you miss the world premiere of “The Watsons Go To Birmingham” on the Hallmark channel on Friday, 9/20/13, the movie will also encores on 9/27/13 and 10/11/13, at 8 PM (ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.  The DVD will be released on September 24thand it will be sold at Wal-Mart.

For educators, Walden Media has partnered with the Hallmark Channel and Zaner-Bloser Educational Publishers to create turnkey lessons plans for grades 4-12 that coincide with the themes and messages explored in this movie. “The Watsons Go To Birmingham Teacher Guide,” which will be free of charge on a dedicated Hallmark Channel microsite and the Walden Media website, encourages active student participation, while integrating social-emotional learning, literacy, writing and character education designed to reinforce critical thinking and deep comprehension skills.

I highly recommend this movie and your children that are in grade school, junior high and high school.  After the movie, set aside a time to discuss any questions that your children may have and explore the civil rights themes presented during “The Watson’s Go To Birmingham.”  I hope your family enjoys watching this film as much as I did! 

This post was written by Amy Fitzgerald, who attended on behalf of

Guest Post: Saying Thank You to our Military & Veterans

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Published: 08/29/2013

            This summer my AHG troop VA0428 participated in some really neat service projects.  I want to share them not to brag about what we did but instead to spread the word about some great opportunities.  Both opportunities are about honoring our military or veterans.  You do not need a group to participate in these opportunities, though prior coordination with the people that run the event is necessary.
            Operation Welcome Home (OWH).  Baltimore Washington International airport (BWI) is a major hub for returning military from their deployments.  The military that come through here are touching US soil for the first time since they left for their deployment.  Many will then make connecting flights to go to their home bases all over the US.  Some of them have their homes in the MD/DC/VA area.  OWH gives the returning military a hero’s welcome home.  There are two ways to help: 1. send thank you cards to OWH for them to distribute, or 2. go to BWI to volunteer.  When you volunteer for an OWH event, you help with three things: 1. decorate the airport (OWH has decorations), 2. assemble goody bags for troops, and 3. greet, cheer, and thank military members as they come out of the gate.
            This quote says it all:
"OWHMD Volunteers:
The greatest moment of my 7-month deployment to Afghanistan was being greeted by you at BWI. The best gift for a returning servicemember is a simple "Thank You" and a handshake.  You'll never know how much your time spent at the airport means to us, but please accept my deepest appreciation for what you do."
(signed) LtCol James H., USAF, Phoenix, Arizona"

For more information or to find a date to go to a welcome home greeting, please go to their website:

            Honor Flight.  Honor Flight’s mission is to fly veterans back to DC to visit their war memorial.  One thousand World War II veterans die every day.  The majority of Honor Flight missions fly into Reagan Airport.  The veterans fly in to DC in the morning, go see the war memorials and Arlington National Cemetery and then fly back home that evening.  What the local Honor Flight does is give these veterans a surprise hero’s greeting when they arrive in DC.  These veterans served our country and then came home and went back to regular life without any thank you.
            In June when we went to participate with Honor Flight at Reagan, we welcomed 90 World War II and Korean War veterans.  The looks on their faces when they walked out of the gate was priceless.  They had no idea we’d be there, cheering for them, and thanking them.  Not one of the 90-80 year olds had dry eyes.  We gave our full names and birthdates to the point of contact a few days ahead of time so that we could go inside security to participate in the gate greeting.  It was definitely worth it!  You may bring patriotic thank you posters and thank you cards to give out.  After the gate greeting, we went outside to wave to their buses as they left.  Later a couple families went to the memorials to visit more with the veterans.  The veterans were extremely appreciative. 
            This is a great experience for people of any age.  The organizers were excited when I told them I homeschooled.  They said they had wanted to tap into homeschool groups.  Unfortunately during the public school year, they often have no one show up for the surprise gate greetings for the Honor Flights that are during the week.
            There is a great movie, “Honor Flight” that documents an Honor Flight from Wisconsin.  In it, you hear from World War II veterans about what Honor Flight meant to them.  I would highly recommend watching the movie to help your children understand the importance and meaning of this.  For information on the movie:
            Honor Flights take place Aug-Nov and then start back up in the spring.  For information on participating in an Honor Flight event, please go to:

Carrie Kilareski is a local military wife, mom, and homeschooler.  Thanks for the great information, Carrie! 

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, call 703-402-0362, or email Rosemarie at 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. 

Guest Post: Toddler Tyme at the Manassas Museum

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Published: 07/31/2013

We have been pleasantly surprised with the Toddler Thyme program at the Manassas Museum this summer.  The title is a bit misleading as the classes are for children ages 3-5 years old (they said they are looking to change it for next time), but Love Bug (who is a little over 2 years old) was allowed to join since Sweet Girl was signed up for the classes.  The classes cost $10 per child. 

The classes are being held every Monday during the summer and there's something for everyone!  Themes range from railroads to life on the farm to pirates to police.  Classes are offered at two different times and last one hour.  One class is at 10:00 am and the other begins at 11:15 am.

The class is run by two young ladies who work for the museum.  Each class usually starts off with a book about the week's theme.  Then, we sing songs and/or do fingerplays.  Next, the children are invited to a table set up with supplies to do a craft.  Sometimes, we have done two crafts in one sitting if they are "small" crafts.  Other times, we have taken a break to play games or do something more active.  The class typically ends with one more story and then children are given a special take-home surprise before the class ends.

The children are throughly engaged for the entire hour.  They are learning new things about the theme of the week, practicing their good listening skills, taking turns, standing in line and using both fine and gross motor skills with the art projects and games.

I have to admit that I wasn't too sure about paying $10 per class for each child, but it is well worth it in my opinion.  The young ladies that run the class remember my girls' names and they are so friendly.  They work very well together and do a good job of keeping the children engaged for the full hour.  I like how parts (or all) of the classes are held outside--if the weather permits it.  The girls have loved the activities and proudly display their crafts at home.  The girls also look forward to the special take-home surprise at the end of each class.  We always leave class happy and excited about the theme of the week.

There is still time to try out this wonderful program, but there are only four more classes left this summer.  If you are interested in joining a class, check out the Manassas Museumwebsite.  They do recommend that you register in advance.

Side note:  There is a wonderful playground and picnic area that is open to the public behind the museum.  It's a great place to run around if you get to class a bit early or to have a picnic after class.
You'll walk past the beautiful Butterfly Garden on your way to the playground.
The playground and picnic area.
Check out the fun we've had at Toddler Tyme!
(Edit from Kristina: Visit Angela's Blog for pictures to go with each event- there were simply too many for me to copy and share each one!)
Craft:  Circus collage with stickers, paper and stamping
Games/Activities:  Circus songs, Pin the Tail on the Lion, Three-ring Beanbag Toss and Tight-rope Walking
Take-home surprise:  Circus animal tatoos
LIFE ON THE FARM (held at Liberia Plantation)
Craft:  Fuzzy Lamb 
Games/Activities:  Frog Fingerplay with frog finger puppets, Trying out a butter churn, Making real butter and Milking a pretend cow 
Take-home surprise:  Real lamb's wool
Craft:  Ocean sticker collage and Paper Plate Rainbow Fish 
Games/Activities:  Fish Fingerplay with finger puppets, Parachute fun with Blow-up Sea Animals and Magnetic Fishing 
Take-home surprise:  Fish tatoo and a fish or toad squeaky toy
Craft:  Pirate Hats, Paper Parrots and Pirate Coloring Page
Games/Activities:  Fingerplay, How to talk like a pirate and a Treasure Hunt with real "treasure" at the end!

Take-home surprise:  A "treasure chest" filled with loot:  play money, eye patch, necklace, tatoo, Manassas Bull Run Civil War patch

About the Author: 
The Master's Daughter, Angela Pounders, loves teaching and sharing her ideas with others. After working various teaching-type jobs, she now uses her God-given gifts with her children at home.

Disclaimer: This was an uncompensated post from a guest author.  All opinions are her own.  Visit Angela Pounders, aka "The Master's Daughter" at her website or on facebook

Guest Post: One Risk to Know About, One Risk to Talk About

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Published: 07/12/2013

Do you know someone with epilepsy?  Do you know someone with a seizure disorder?  Know a person who has had just one seizure?  If so, learn about this condition and you can save a life.

It is called Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy or SUDEP and it is a fatal complication of seizures that I was never made aware of.

My husband, Jeff, died on February 26th, 2012 at the age of 42 from SUDEP.  The short story is this: Jeff had his first tonic-clonic seizure (or grand mal seizure) in his sleep in January.  We followed up with doctor visits, CAT scans, MRI’s, EEG’s, you name it.  Nothing showed a reason for the sudden seizure and we were advised that it could be a “one time event”.  However, in February, Jeff had a second seizure.  In the hours afterwards he appeared to recover then voiced that he was tired and laid down for a nap.  He died in his sleep.

I had never heard of SUDEP.  Most families I have met that have lost a loved one to SUDEP had never heard of the risk.  I was warned to not let Jeff drive, he couldn’t go swimming, or climb a ladder.  But I was never told to monitor him in his sleep.  I was not told that people with seizures can die from a condition eerily similar to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

If seizures effects you or someone you know I want you to know about this risk.  I want you to educate yourself about SUDEP and preventive measures.  Just as new parents are told of SIDS, people with seizures should be told of SUDEP.

There is no known cure-all way to prevent SUDEP. Currently, the best course of treatment is to encourage and engage in these preventative strategies:

§  advocate for increased awareness by the public and the medical community;
§  maximum seizure control via strict treatment adherence;
§  regular physical activity and lifestyle modifications that reduce stress and seizure activity;
§  patients should regularly visit with their doctor especially if their convulsive seizures are not completely controlled;
§  consider the use of alternative resources such as monitoring devices that detect certain seizures and can alert caretakers and enable early intervention;
§  consider supervision or monitoring during sleep hours to identify seizure activity;
§  ensure that family members and caretakers have knowledge of seizure first aid and of emergency resuscitation measures including CPR and defibrillator use;
  • inquire about and advocate for research that enables a better understanding of the mechanisms of SUDEP. (The Danny Did Foundation,

Please join us in Prince William County on September 22, 2012 for a 5K in honor of Jeff Beaupre.  I have partnered with the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation ( and the Danny Did Foundation (, to raise awareness of SUDEP.  Funds from the September 22, 2013 5K will go to the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation to be used to provide sleep monitors and seizure response dogs.  Race information can be found at:
About the Author:  “Jeff’s Wife” has a blog detailing her family’s struggle with SUDEP and grief at

Guest Post: A Red, White, and Blue Breakfast Celebration!

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Published: 06/28/2013

A Red, White, and Blue Breakfast Celebration!
Breakfast is a big deal in our house. A slice of toast or a glass of juice just won’t cut it. And you can forget skipping it! That just wouldn’t fly (or be healthy) with our group of five, especially on the weekend.  Instead, breakfast usually looks like a veggie omelet with whole wheat toast and a side of fresh fruit, a fruit smoothie with a bowl of steel cut oats and a dollop of natural peanut butter, or a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with homemade granola and fresh berries. See, I told you that it was a big deal!
Since breakfast tends to be a big production anyway, I like to center a lot of our family celebrations around the first meal of the day. It is fun, a little unexpected, and it starts our morning out on a happy note. Most people think of celebrating July 4th over the grill with hot dogs, hamburgers, deviled eggs, and lots of creamy salads. While I love a good cookout, I challenge you to mix things up a bit this year and try some fun, festive, and HEALTHY alternatives. Breakfast is a great place to start!  Experiment by incorporating some familiar, but healthy, alternatives such as whole wheat waffles instead of those “Lego my Eggos” and plain Greek yogurt instead of the popular blue yogurt tubes. With some fresh fruit to dress everything up and a few festive accessories, you will be well on your way to celebrating a happy, healthy July 4th with your family.
A couple of years ago I put together a Red, White, and Blue July 4th breakfast celebration for our family. I included some of our favorite healthy breakfast staples and “blinged” them up a bit with some simple and festive accessories.
Our menu included: whole wheat waffles with pure maple syrup; fresh fruit salad (sliced strawberries, blueberries, and bananas); Greek yogurt parfaits topped with homemade granola; and homemade pumpkin muffins with a swirl of vanilla yogurt on top. Don’t worry; the gumballs were just for decoration!
It was a HUGE hit with our kids. We started our day with a healthy AND festive breakfast together and we had fun.  

Recipe links:

Sarah Young resides in Prince William County with her husband and three young children. Sarah is a full-time mother, Certified Health Education Specialist, healthy living advocate, and the creator of Health Wise Home, an online resource that focuses on educating, empowering, and inspiring others to help build a healthier future. In her spare time, she enjoys running, hiking, gardening, being outside, and spending time with her family.
For healthy recipes, information, and inspiration you can follow Sarah and Health Wise Home on Facebook and at her blog, and .

Guest Post: Children's Museum in PWC!!

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Published: 06/18/2013

Imagine a place where interactive exhibits and diverse educational programs spark curiosity, creativity and lifelong learning for children, their families and the community that supports them.  This is the mission of Discovery Junction Children's Museum, an emerging museum in Prince William County.
We are a group of educators, business professionals, and parents who live, work, and play in Prince William County.  We believe that the children in our community deserve a space devoted to their physical and intellectual development through the most natural activity of childhood, play.  We want a place that celebrates children for who they are but also allows them to dream about who they may become.  Families should have a place to spend the day together where creative interactions and learning opportunities are present in each moment.  Teachers need a local destination for field trips that will complement and reinforce the curriculum being taught in their classrooms.  We are excited to bring Discovery Junction Children's Museum to Prince William County to serve those purposes.  We would love to have you join us in making it happen!
How can you help?  In the near future there will many volunteer opportunities but in the mean time you can learn more about Discovery Junction by visiting our website at  Help us spread the word by following us on Facebook, and share our page with your friends.​  Visit us on July 10th at Manassas Mall for Movers and Shakers where your children can interact with our first activity, Magnetic Creations.
Most importantly, support our first fundraiser being held on Friday, June 28th and Saturday, June 29th at the Evergreen Fire Department in Haymarket, VA.  We are holding Antiquities Children Portraits.  For $10 your child(ren) will get a 20min photo session with vintage clothing and props and an 8x10 classic vintage portrait.  You can choose to purchase additional photos in packages but no additional purchase is required.  Please visit!antiquities/c1tik to learn more or send any questions to
We look forward to working with you to bring Discovery Junction Children’s Museum to Prince William County!
A Play Gym Designed for Parents and Children Aged 10 Months to 4 1/2 Years... PWC Library - Summer Reading Program