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

Giveaway: Madame Tussaud's DC

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Published: 07/03/2014
Where can you and your kids visit all your favorite celebrities in one swoop? Madame Tussaud's, of course! Pose with your favorite historical figures, celebrities, and politicians all day long- they don't mind at all because they're wax!

Recently, Madame Tussaud's added Katy Perry to their ranks!

But you can also visit Barack Obama in the Oval Office:
Along with every other US president, for that matter!

Want to go? Enter to win your tickets using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want more info? Here's some details from a review I did a few years ago:

Madame Tussaud's is very easy to get to.  There's easy metro access, but we ended up driving (395-14th street-F street) and were there in about 30 minutes, including parking.  There's a $10 a day parking garage right across the street, but there's also lots of on-street parking available if you go on a day that isn't full of Cherry Blossom visitors trying to beat the snow!

When you enter Madame Tussaud's, there's a line to pay, then a few steps down to a brief video where they demonstrate how the wax figures are made.  You then head to the left (I'm mentioning this because I was a little unclear on where to go!)  and go through a few halls of presidents.  Several of the exhibits have a way to interact with the figures- for exmaple, George Washington has a "boat" that you can sit in and don a Washington-esque coat for a pictures.  Lincoln (depicted sitting in the balcony at Ford's theatre) also has a coat you can wear for your picture.  Bring. Your. Camera. If your kids are anything like the kids I took, you will hear "take my picture!! take my picture!!!" around 3,000 times :)

After you move through the presidents, there's a spot at the end where they take commemorative pictures in the "White House" or with the "Obamas", and then you move into some historical figures.  There's Rosa Parks and a bus background, Martin Luther King Junior, Malcom X, and also some historical figures in with the presidents like Jackie O, the Apollo astronauts, Winston Churchill, and others. 

The final two sections are famous athletes and movie stars/singers.  The little girl that we brought was excited to point out the Jonas Brothers.  I took a picture with my future ex-husband, George Clooney ;) and my only complaint was probably that there was a Robert Pattinson who wasn't sparkly, and there was no shirtless Taylor Lautner.  Just saying.

The kids I took (all 7 years old) had a really great time.  They were super excited about people they recognized (Washington, Lincoln, Obama, Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, Jonas Brothers, astronauts) and anything that had an interactive component. They were also happy to have me take their picture with anyone who they thought looked cool.  I think that the ideal age to take here would be 9 or older, just because they would have exposure to more of the historical people and would be more excited to see them, and would be able to read the fun-facts more independently.  That said, I was totally happy with our trip and my 7's had a great time!! Fair Warning: The end of the tour dumps you into the gift shop, so be prepared to stop any wandering little hands.


Disclosure: This giveaway provided by Madame Tussaud's DC location.  All opinions are my own. By entering you're agreeing to all of our Giveaway Rules and regulations. I'm not responsible for traffic, weather, your kids being sad the real Katy Perry isn't there, or any other drama you encounter.  

US Science and Engineering Festival 2014!

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Published: 01/24/2014
The 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival, the largest science festival in the US, features nationwide contests and school programs, including our popular 'Nifty Fifty' science speaker program - presented by InfoComm International. The Festival culminates in a Grand Finale Expo on April 26-27, 2014, with the US News STEM Solutions Conference on April 23-25, and Sneak Peek Friday - presented by the Department of Defense - on April 25. New this year: X-STEM - presented by Northrop Grumman Foundation and MedImmune - an Extreme STEM Symposium for students on April 24.  Get your tickets HERE.

Monster Jam® and a Giveaway!

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Published: 01/06/2014
If you've got a truck lover (Hot Wheels, anyone?) then this might be the perfect event for you!! It's at the Verizon Center, so it's a little bit of a drive, but it sounds like just the ticket for kids who like loud, rowdy, and exciting! 
 

For the first time since 2011, Monster Jam® returns to the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. January 24 and 25, 2014.

Monster trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, monster trucks generate almost 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. They whirl and fly 130 feet into the air, amazing audiences of all ages.
 

Patrons with a ticket to the show on Saturday, January 25 at 2:00 pm, plus a valid Pit Pass, can kick off the event in the Party in the Pits from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. During the Party in the Pits, fans and families have an opportunity to see the trucks up close and take photos and get autographs from their favorite drivers. Pit Passes are available for $10 at the Verizon Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster retail outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com <http://www.ticketmaster.com> , or charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
 


Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam®
Verizon Center | Washington, D.C. | January 24-25, 2014
Show Dates:                  
Friday, January 24, 2014 - 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 25 - 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.


Ticket Prices: $65.00 VIP/ $25.00/ $20.00/ $10.00 Kids. All tickets are $2 more on the day of show. Additional fees may apply. Kid’s tickets are not valid on VIP seats.
Ticket Information: Tickets are available now at the Verizon Center box office, all Ticketmaster retail outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com
, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

Party in the Pits: Pit Party passes are available for $10 at the Verizon box office, all Ticketmaster retail outlets, online at ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. 

To WIN FREE Tickets- you must be available to attend the January 24th at 7:30pm show. Contest opens at midnight, January 6th, 2014 and closes at midnight on January 13th.
Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending show and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to  attend private Feld pre-Show events.  Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.  
As always, by entering you agree to be bound by my rules, listed in full detail here, as well as agreeing to forefit your prize if you are not at least 18 years of age or older.  Feld Entertainment is neither a sponsor, nor an endorser of this promotion.  

Featured Organization Friday: Wreaths Across America

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Published: 12/20/2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Giveaway: The Big Build/National Building Museum

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Published: 09/18/2013

Saturday, September 21, 10 am–4 pm

Be a builder for the day at the Big Build festival! Amateur builders young and old can discover what it’s like to build a brick wall, carve stone, hammer nails, and much more as they work side by side with designers, builders, and artisans demonstrating their skills. Meet plumbers, electricians, ironworkers, landscape architects, woodworkers, and experts in many other fields to learn about their professions and hobbies. At this year’s Big Build festival you can:
  • Climb aboard cranes and tractors
  • Build a brick wall
  • Construct a log cabin
  • Plant a tree and autumn plants
  • Carve stone
  • Imagine living in a tiny 500-square-foot house
  • Compete in a nail driving contest
  • Create a hardware wind chime to take home

New This Year

The Big Build Scavenger Hunt
Kids can pick up a construction hard hat from the Association of General Contractor’s table and collect stickers or signatures on their hat from the demonstrations and activities they participate in. Collect five and receive a prize!

Sidewalk Chalk City
What type of building or feature would you contribute to a cityscape? City streets will be marked on the G Street sidewalk just waiting for your chalk creation.

Getulio! A children’s play
Meet Getulio, the youngest of the Piccirilli brothers who carved the Abraham Lincoln Memorial. It’s a daunting task trying to carve the 19 foot statue on his own. Lend a hand and it just might get done.

Book Reading and Signing by author Isabel Hill
Isabel Hill will read her new book, Urban Animals of Washington, D.C. Join her to find the great architectural details that exist in our own neighborhoods. A book signing will follow the reading.
The Big Build goes green
This year, the Big Build festival goes green, celebrating the Green Schools exhibition with activities and demonstrations that explore how the construction industry helps preserve our resources. New exhibitors include Perkins+Will, Forbo Flooring, Love & Carrots, Little Main Street Playhouses, and Ideaventions.


Admission



Free access to the Great Hall,
historic building tours,
Museum Shop, & cafe.
Exhibition admission:
$8 for adults
$5 for youth, students, & seniors
$3 a person for Building Zone only
Free for Museum members.


And we've got a family 4 pack of tickets for the museum!! Enter by leaving your favorite thing to build with your child in the comments below.  Be sure to LEAVE YOUR EMAIL (do it like this: kristinalsk(at)yahoo no need to do the @ or put .com, I know the email extensions!) or make sure you'll check facebook to find the winner! Tickets are good for any day's admission, not just the big build. Winner will be selected Friday morning.
 

Giveaway Rules.  We haz 'em. 
This prize is provided by the National Building Museum, and this giveaway is not affiliated with Apple, the iTunes store, Android, Google Play, Facebook, or any other entity or business.  Winner is responsible for transportation and any additional purchases at the museum.  Entrants agree to be bound by all rules and regulations by entering. Good luck!

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: http://www.operationwelcomehomemd.org

            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:  http://www.honorflightthemovie.com
            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: http://honorflightdca.wordpress.com

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

Welcome Red Tricycle

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Published: 08/09/2013
Red Tricycle DC is another family-friendly site that offers events, activities, giveaways and ideas for the larger DC Metro area.  There are a few ways you can interact with them:


1. Visit their website
Red Tricycle DC offers a list of events in the DMV, especially in DC and Maryland, if you're looking for fun activities with a short drive.  Red Tricycle National has a blog of fun events and ideas. 


2. Enter their giveaway
Red Tricycle is celebrating their DC Launch with 12 Awesome Giveaways including Kidville, Rebecca Danzenbaker Photography, Momme Meals, Urban Sitter, Classy Kids Consignment, and more.


3. Vote for the best
As they're new to the area, Red Tricycle is asking readers to help them find the best of the best in multiple categories.  Help them know about great stores like Baby Blossom by voting in their Totally Awesome Awards

Welcome to DC, Red Tricycle!  Just remember to watch out for the no-parking zones during rush hour when you parallel park your trike ;)




Disclosure: This is a sponsored post brought to you by Red Tricycle. PwcMoms.com is not responsible for external content or contest hosting/rules/prizes.  All opinions are our own. 

Review: Great Food Tours Chocolate Tour of DC

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Published: 08/08/2013
So, there was this Groupon.  It was for Chocolate Tours of DC.

That had to happen, right?

I ended up buying two (they were $60 each for 4 people and the tours are usually $50/person), but had a few people decide not to go at the last minute, so there were only 5 of us, but we had a really great time, so I wanted to share.

We started off with lunch at Peacock Cafe in Georgetown, which didn't have the same menu it had online for lunch, but did have amazing tomato soup.  There's garage parking right next to the Cafe, which is nice, as far as I'm concerned, because I don't like street parking in DC, not that I was driving. Georgetown is a cute neighborhood, although parts of it are under construction right now for road and sidewalk repair, so leave yourself a little time to park.

(You know who else has parking? The hospital! It was a little weird for me to be so close to Georgetown University Hospital and not have some kind of medical testing done...I thought about seeing if my oncologist wanted to join us for chocolate, but figured she was probably pretty busy.)

So.  The tour.  

You meet up at the Old Stone House
Not actually IN the Old Stone House, but just outside.  There's not a bathroom there, but there is one across the street in the Nike store.  You're going to be walking a fair amount for the next 2 hours, so this is good info to have.

 The tour started with a brief (and I do mean brief) history of Georgetown.  The first stop for us was at Sprinkles Cupcakes, which was founded by the woman who judges Cupcake Wars on Food Network. I have to be honest, I didn't realize there was one in DC!! I knew about Georgetown Cupcakes (from the TV, obviously) and Red Velvet, because it's by the Verizon Center and the first place I ever went "for cupcakes".

Let me be really honest for a minute.  That mini-cupcake I'm holding? It may be the most amazing thing I've ever put in my mouth.  I usually hate chocolate cakes that other people make because they're never moist enough, but this was awesome.  I have an MRI on Friday, and I am having that cupcake for lunch after as a reward for laying in the giant plastic coffin for 2 hours.  They don't give you Dora stickers at my age, so I should get something, right?
After Sprinkles, we walked over to the Godiva Store, and they gave us samples of chocolate with dried strawberries in it.  The manager at Godiva was probably the best stop all day.  She actually talked to our group about Godiva and their chocolates and was funny and personable.  

After Godiva, there was a little bit of a hill to climb.  It wasn't very bad at all, but one member of our group has a bit of a foot condition and would've rather not done it, although with all the stops none of us had any trouble walking the entire tour, and there were people who brought children with, and all of them did well, too. 

Our next stops were Thomas Sweet for fudge, Marvelous Market for Chocolate Babka, which we decided would make AMAZING French Toast, Fleurir Hand Grown Chocolates, where we got salted caramel covered in chocolate....

I just need to think about that one again for a moment.....

Then we went down to Dean & Deluca, which previously I thought only existed in movies with Nicolas Cage because, clearly, I grew up in Hoodbridge and until we got Wegmans, we didn't have anything that classy.  Dean & Deluca let everyone pick out their own amazing looking truffles, and I tried the Vanilla Bean filling, which was yummy, but at this point, I was actually really full and over chocolate! We had one final stop, though, which was Pie Sisters, where they gave us mini chocolate bourbon pecan pies.  

By the time we finished, we were all stuffed with chocolate.  It was nice to have the walk between each location, and it was fun to have just a bite or two of each thing to try.  My favorites were definitely Sprinkles and Fleurir as far as actual chocolate, but Godiva for the ambiance, which sounds a little funny, but it was the only place that someone talked to us.  

The chocolate part of the tour was fantastic, but the tour part of the tour left a lot to be desired.  We had a lot of fun chatting with each other while we walked, but it would have been nice to have the shops tell us about their facility or their founders or something, or for the tour guide to have told us more about chocolate or DC, or really anything.  The tour guide was very friendly, he just didn't talk much!

Also, if I was a business owner, I'd give out coupons so people came back.  Something like "$5 off your next dozen cupcakes when you return after your chocolate tour!".  Otherwise, there's not really motivation for people to return....but that's just me. 

At the end of the day, our group had a fantastic time, and we were all happy we came out.  I don't think I'd pay the full $50 to do this, but if you catch a deal or someone offers to take you, it's definitely a fun way to spend an afternoon!!  There's definitely a manageable amount of walking involved, so bring a water bottle or plan to buy one at one of your stops, and if you can, plan for a cooler day.  We got great weather for ours, and we all had a fantastic time.  

Disclosure: I (fine, my husband) bought my own Groupon, and all opinions are my own.  


Smithsonian Features Iconic Little Golden Books in Summer Display

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Published: 07/13/2013

Finding something to do for the summer just got easier with the opening of a special display about Little Golden Books at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “The Art of Little Golden Books” will share the story of literacy in America in a fun and interactive format that visitors of all ages can enjoy. Located in the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery, it will feature a sampling of the artists’ illustrations from several early Little Golden Books and will be on display from June 28, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014.
“There is something particularly wonderful about the beautifully illustrated Little Golden Books that captivated the imaginations of young readers across America,” said John Gray, director of the museum. “The National Museum of American History will display these little treasures and inspire young readers with the same books that sparked literacy in America over several decades.”
Little Golden Books transformed children’s reading habits in the early 20th century and became an icon in almost every American middle-class home. Before World War II, large-format, classic story books for children were prohibitively expensive and available to a privileged few. Little Golden Books offered new ideas and modern stories in an affordable format.
“This display will bring back fond childhood memories for many of our visitors who read these books in their early years,” said Melodie Sweeney, curator of the exhibition. “It will also offer a way for one generation to share with the next about their experiences of growing up and learning how to read.”
Visitors to the Little Golden Books exhibition will be able to view a reproduction of the original display units that were set up by the publishers after World War II in five-and-dime chains, grocery stores, and drugstores. In addition, some of the most popular books, such as Gaston and Josephine, Nurse Nancy, Doctor Dan the Bandage Man and The Two Little Miners, will be featured with a selection of classics for visitors to look through. The exhibit space will include seating, inviting visitors to read and relax as they take a step back in time with titles such as The Poky Little Puppy, Scuffy the Tugbout, and The Shy Little Kitten.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is currently renovating its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

Featured Organization Friday: Goodwill of Greater Washington

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Published: 05/10/2013

You may have noticed last week, that we started up the "Featured Organization Friday" again, in an effort to share more about the ways you can become involved with local nonprofits and organizations and make a positive impact on the community. So when Goodwill reached out to PWC Moms to paticipate in their #Blog4Good campaign this week, I said yes! May 5th through May 11th marks Goodwill Industries Week, an annual celebration of Goodwill’s mission to provide free job training and employment services to people with disabilities and disadvantages.
You know Goodwill. They’re the folks you donate all your old stuff to. Bargain shoppers & budget fashionistas know their retail stores as a great place to go thrift shopping. But, do you know why goodwill accepts your donations? Do you know where the proceeds from those retail sales go? Simply put – they help people find jobs here in our community. Goodwill of Greater Washington’s primary mission is to provide job training and employment services to people with disadvantages and disabilities. They help real people get real jobs; fostering positive, contributing members to our community. All made possible by donations from people like you and me.

In 2012, Goodwill directly affected the lives of more than 3,200 people in our community. These are people who have re-found the dignity that comes with being a contributing member of our society.  Goodwill also diverted over 20 millions of trash from local landfills through their donation program. In addition to training people for jobs, placing them into jobs, providing consumers with access to quality, low cost goods, and acting as one our region’s largest recyclers, Goodwill is also a job developer. With each new store and donation center that Goodwill opens, 25-30 new jobs are created. Goodwill of Greater Washington’s mission is summed up by its tagline - “Transforming lives and communities”.

If you’d like to learn more about Goodwill of Greater Washington, find their nearest store or donation center, or get involved, visit dcgoodwill.org or download their free mobile app. Here in Prince William County there is a Goodwill Donation & Retail Center in Manassas, plus a Prince William County Landfill Attended Donation Center. There are also Goodwill locations nearby in Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Herndon, Stafford, plus an Outlet Store in Fredericksburg.

Disclosure: This blog post is a part of the #Blog4Good campaign to help spread the word about Goodwill of Greater Washington.

Field Trip- Arlington House Black History Month Events

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Published: 02/10/2013
Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, presents
Black History Month at Arlington House
Join us as we celebrate the experience of African Americans at Arlington House!

African American History Tours
Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 PM
 
Park Rangers will provide a tour of the African American experience at Arlington House and in its historic slave quarters.  Explore where the enslaved people of Arlington House worked, lived and persevered through their oppression.  Learn about their bondage to one of Virginia's first families, their lifestyles, and how they gained their freedom.

Faith and Freedom Sundays
February 3, 10, 17 at 2 PM
 
On select Sundays in February, local black churches will share the significance of their history in the greater Arlington area through discussion and music.  These churches have roots to Freedman's Village, a settlement for freed people on the Arlington estate and what today is the Arlington National Cemetery.
These activities are free to the public.  For more information, please e-mail arlingtonhouseevents@nps.gov  or call: 703-235-1530.
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial is a unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Presents the 2013 “Heritage Family Day” Series

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Published: 02/08/2013

Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Presents
the 2013 “Heritage Family Day” Series

As part of the Smithsonian’s Heritage and History education initiative, the National Air and Space Museum presents a “Heritage Family Day” series celebrating ethnic and cultural diversity. The series coincides with national observances, focusing specifically on the contributions that diverse communities have made to aviation and space exploration. These activity-filled days, which take place at the National Mall building and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., offer parents and children the opportunity to meet role models—ranging from World War II veterans to astronomers. Support for the “Heritage Family Day” series is provided by Northrop Grumman Corporation.
“The museum’s dual mission, in history and science, come together in the ‘Heritage Family Day’ series,” said Maureen Kerr, education chair at the National Air and Space Museum. “The programs feature inspiring role models who have helped make history by their achievements in aviation and spaceflight.”
 “Northrop Grumman is proud to sponsor the ‘Heritage Family Day’ series for the eighth consecutive year at the National Air and Space Museum,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, vice president, Corporate Responsibility, Northrop Grumman Corporation. “We are excited to support this series because it recognizes the unsung heroes of STEM and is an incredible benefit to the community’s schools and families.”
The 2013 series begins Feb. 9 at the museum’s National Mall building with “African American Pioneers in Aviation Day,” where visitors will have the chance to meet members of the Tuskegee Airmen, African Americans who fought during WWII, and be inspired by their determination and perseverance. On Feb. 23, the second “African American Pioneers in Aviation Day” will be held at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
On March 23, “Kites of Asia Day,” visitors to the National Mall building will experience the beauty of kites by celebrating the first aviation-related objects collected by the Smithsonian—two Chinese kites. There will be indoor kite flying, and experts will explain how kites influenced the development of aviation and the science behind kite flying. Visitors can decorate and build their own kites.
Also March 23, the “Women in Aviation and Space Day” will take place at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Visitors will learn about the accomplishments of women in aviation, science and aerospace. Families can enjoy guest speakers, hands-on activities, a theatrical presentation and more.
“Explore the Universe Day” will take place at the National Mall building June 1. Astronomy will serve as a common theme for visitors to learn how different people and cultures view and talk about the sky. The museum’s Public Observatory will be open for daytime sky-watching, weather permitting.
There will be two “Heritage Family Days” in September: “A Century of Women in Aerospace” at the National Mall building Sept. 14 and “Hispanic Heritage Day: Innovators in Air and Space” in partnership with the Smithsonian Latino Center Sept. 21 at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
The last “Heritage Family Day” of the 2013 series will be Oct. 5 at the National Mall building and will also celebrate Hispanic Heritage in partnership with the Smithsonian’s Latino Center. There will be bilingual programming and visitors will have the chance to meet Hispanic scientists and engineers. 
For more information about the museum’s “Heritage Family Day” series, visit: http://www.airandspace.si.edu/events/heritagedays.cfm.
The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
 
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Upcoming: Sleeping Beauty Dreams

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Published: 02/05/2013

The Kennedy Center presents the U.S. Premiere of Marionetas de la Esquina’s
Sleeping Beauty Dreams
Co-Commissioned by Marionetas de la Esquina and the Kennedy Center
February 16 17, 2013 In the Family Theater
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)The Kennedy Center presents the U.S. premiere production of Sleeping Beauty Dreams in the Family Theater from February 16 17, 2013. Co- commissioned with puppet theater company Marionetas de la Esquina of Mexico, the play is written by award-winning playwright Amaranta Leyva and directed by Lourdes Pérez Gay. Sleeping Beauty Dreams is recommended for ages five and up. The performance on Saturday, February 16 at 11:00 a.m. will be held in Spanish.
Sleeping Beauty Dreams reimagines the famous princess as an overprotected daughter looking for a way to break free of her castle walls in order to search for true love...and her true self. A contemporary look at this classic tale, Marionetas de la Esquina’s humorous storytelling and whimsical puppetry awake this sleeping princess as never before.

In 2004, the company was recognized by CONACULTA and included in the program México en Escena (Mexico on Stage), a program that supports experienced and renowned groups. In 2006, company member and playwright Amaranta Leyva received the Mexican National Prize for Children's Theater for her play the dress. Also, in 2006 the company was awarded by the National Critics of Mexico. The company’s history has been published in a book called Marionetas de la Esquina, Tras Bambalinas (FONCA, Cal y Arena, México, 2004) (“Marionetas de la Esquina, behind the scene”).
Lucio Espíndola (Founder). Author, actor, director, puppeteer, and puppet-maker, Lucio Espíndola has dedicated himself to the production, exhibition, teaching and diffusion of the art of puppetry since 1973. He has written 13 plays, built more than 400 puppets, and has acted in approximately 10,000 performances.

TICKET INFORMATION
Performances of Sleeping Beauty Dreams run in the Kennedy Center Family Theater on February 16 at 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. and February 17 at 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The performance on Saturday, February 16 at 11:00 a.m. will be held in Spanish. All seats are $18. Please visit the Kennedy Center website at www.kennedy-center.org or by calling Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600. Patrons living outside the Washington metropolitan area may dial toll-free at (800) 444-1324. 

Upcoming: Reel Abilities Film Festival

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Published: 02/01/2013

Pioneering Film Festival Opens in Greater Washington Area
ReelAbilities Disabilities Film Festival, February 7-14, 2013
ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities. The festival is coming to the DC and Northern Virginia area from February 7-14, 2013 and is sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCCNV). 
Nine films will be screened throughout the festival – features, documentaries, and shorts that present stories incorporating a variety of disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, deafness, and others.  Check out the schedule below:
Thursday, February 7
Mary & Max at Angelika Film Center - 7:45 pm
Saturday, February 9
Ocean Heaven at Angelika Film Center - 3:00 pm
Finding Nemo at DC Public Library - 11:00 am
Sunday, February 10
Anything You Can Do and Finding Nemo at Cinema Arts Theatre - 10:15 am
Me, Too at Angelika Film Center - 2:00 pm
Ocean Heaven at Floris United Methodist Church - 6:30 pm
Monday, February 11
Shooting Beauty at Cinema Arts Theatre - 7:30 pm
Tuesday, February 12
Silent Games at George Mason University - 7:00 pm
Mary & Max at Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington - 7:00 pm
War Eagle at Bethlehem Lutheran Church - 7:00 pm
Wednesday, February 13
Shooting Beauty at Northern Virginia Community College - Manassas Campus - 5:30 pm
Aphasia at Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia - 5:30 pm
Thursday, February 14
Musical Chairs at Angelika Film Center - 7:30 pm

Visit the ReelAbilities DC website to learn more about the featured films and festival events.

$1 Deal on Disney on Ice!!

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Published: 01/03/2013

MEDIA ADVISORY Disney On Ice One Day-One Dollar DealTicket Offer Available at the Verizon Center Box Office January 8

WHAT:            Disney On Ice 
fans in the Washington, D.C. area will have a chance to purchase tickets for just $1 to the Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove show coming to the nation’s capital from February 13-18. This incredible offer is available one-day-only while quantities last (a total of 1,000 tickets will be available). Those that don’t get the $1 dollar deal will get a $5 savings on tickets to any performance.                    

WHO:                        Available to all Disney On Ice fans in the Washington, D.C. area
WHEN:            Tuesday, January 8, 2013:§  Tickets go on sale at 10:00 am.      §  Sale ends at 5:30 p.m.
WHERE:         Verizon Center                                Box Office
                        601 F Street NW 
                        Washington, DC 20004


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SHOW INFORMATION
Verizon Center | Washington, DC| February13–18, 2013
 
Wednesday, February 13th @ 7:30 p.m. 
Thursday, February 14th @ 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 15th @ 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 16th @ 10:30 a.m. 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 17th @ 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Monday, February 18th @ 12:30 p.m. 

Venue/Ticket Information:
Tickets are on-sale now and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets via charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000; via www.ticketmaster.com <http://www.ticketmaster.com> ; and at the Verizon Center box office.
Verizon Center Ticket Prices: $80.00 (Front Row) / $55.00 (VIP) / $30.00 / $20.00 

To discover more about Disney On Ice, go to www.disneyonice.com <http://www.disneyonice.com/> , or visit us on Facebook and YouTube.
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About Feld Entertainment
 
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year.  Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 70 countries on six continents and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Feld Motor Sports, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!For more information, please visit www.disneyonice.com <http://www.disneyonice.com> . Members of the media are encouraged to visit the Press Room at www.feldentertainment.com. <http://www.feldentertainment.com

Guest Post: 529 Kids Consign in Old Town Alexandria

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Published: 12/03/2012

                  My daughter knows growing is her business, and business is good. While I love for her to have cute clothes, I also want her to have a college fund, so I shop consignment sales.  The owners of 529Kids Consign, a pair of moms themselves, were also thinking about college funds when they gave their store its ridiculously cute name.  529 Kids Consign in Old Town Alexandria has been on my list to visit for a while, and I’m glad I finally made it by.  

There’s stroller parking in a small alley in front of the store, which is handy; the store has a welcoming, boutique atmosphere. The clothes are nicely curated and displayed, and they’re all from quality brands, from Osh Kosh to Janie and Jack. These are not garage sale prices, certainly, but it’s also a lot more fun shopping here! Upstairs are racks of sale clothes, baby gear including carriers and strollers, and a great selection of maternity clothes.  There are also a few comfy chairs and two dressing rooms, which I appreciated – as a nursing mom, I’m always scoping out friendly places for myself and baby.

 Intermingled with the clothes are adorable, if slightly spendy, new items, great for gifting: organic nursing/teething necklaces, children’s books and games, fabric blocks, minky lovies and bibs, a dazzling array of hair bows, beautifully painted wall clocks… I couldn’t resist picking up baby leg warmers and an adorable wooden monogram for Christmas presents. Really, I wanted one of everything.

                  529 Kids Consign is located at 122 Royal Street, Alexandria, VA – it’s conveniently located a few doors down from Lavender Moon Cupcakes. I think my daughter and I will be making frequent pilgrimages to Old Town for delicious cupcakes and adorable clothes.


Guinevere Rowell is a Marine turned mama, and a freelance commercial writer. You can also find her on Twitter as @guinevererobin. 

Help Set a Record!

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Published: 10/23/2012

Media Advisory
National Geographic Kids Magazine Sets Out to Claim 2 Guinness World Records® Titles Tied to Running and Recycling
Marine Corps Marathon Healthy Kids Fun Run participants to help set 100-meter record;
Collection effort underway for 25,000 sneakers for recycling, with celebrity help

WHAT:          On Saturday, Oct. 27, media are invited to watch 3,600 kids help break the Guinness World Records® title for most people running 100 meters within a 24-hour period. Through National Geographic Kids’ Run for the Planet program, in coordination with the Marine Corps Marathon’s Healthy Kids Fun Run, the Pentagon North parking lot will be packed with kids devoted to fitness, with Marines cheering them on.

Kids Run participants will contribute to the record as they complete a one-miler, and all runners will be observed by Guinness World Records representative Mike Janela. Per record rules, runners also will be confirmed by two independent witnesses: healthy lifestyle coach Kathy Pugh, owner of women’s running boot camp EZ8DC; and DeShay Williams, co-owner of personal training studio Definitions (both of Washington, D.C.). In addition, runners worldwide will help set the record with 100-meter runs between noon ET, Friday, Oct. 26, and noon ET Saturday, Oct. 27. Five thousand participants are needed for the record.

                        To simultaneously engage people in recycling, National Geographic Kids is also collecting old athletic shoes for the longest chain of shoes. With the help of Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program, the sneakers will be recycled into Nike Grind — a material used in athletic surfaces such as basketball courts and running tracks — after they have been tied into a chain later this year. The goal: 25,000 shoes. Shoes contributed by stars such as the NFL’s Eli Manning and race car driver Danica Patrick can be seen at National Geographic's Washington headquarters, 1145 17th St. NW, where people can also drop off their shoes through Nov. 9.

Macerich malls across the country — including Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Va. — will be holding events. See macerich.com/ngkids for details. For more on either record attempt, go to kids.nationalgeographic.com/run-for-the-planet/.

WHERE:        Marine Corps Marathon Healthy Kids Fun Run, Pentagon North Parking Lot

WHEN:            Saturday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Final wave organized by National Geographic    
    Kids: 11:57 a.m.

WHO:             Rachel Buchholz, Executive Editor, National Geographic Kids magazine
            Mike Janela, Head of U.S. Records Management, Guinness World Records
    North America, Inc.

CONTACTS:  Barbara Fallon, (703) 489-0880, bfallon@ngs.org
                      Anna Irwin, (202) 870-3759, airwin@ngs.org
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(l to r): Eli Manning, Danica Patrick, One Direction, Nolan Gould, Amanda Beard and Jake Short. (on display at National Geographic).
Photo credit: Mark Thiessen / National Geographic

Holiday Fun at Bobby McKeys

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


Featured Organization Friday: St. Jude Walk

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Published: 10/15/2012
November 17th on the National Mall, people will converge to give hope to children with cancer through the annual St. Jude Give Thanks Walk.  There's no registration fee, you can fundraise as a walking team for any amount you want, and even earn prizes for various increments of money raised.

Not really a walker so much (or, not really a "get up and get into DC early on a Saturday" type so much)? Vendors are also needed to make in-kind donations of everything from prizes to water and snacks for the walkers. Many of you may have participated in the Give Thanks Walk last year at Potomac Mills Mall, and this is the same great event with a new venue.  However, even though it's now in DC, it's got a local focus as one of the beneficiaries of the money raised is local family the Duggans, whose child is fighting pediatric cancer.  

This event is also a locally rooted event because this year's event chair is a PwcMom! Melissa Robey met a two and a half year old cancer patient last year and realized that she needed to get involved with St. Jude's, which has done such amazing work.  Not only do they accept every patient, regardless of the family's ability to pay, they have changed the survival rate for pediatric cancer from 20% survival to 80% survival, and as the only cancer institute devoted to children, they get to take most of the credit for that.

This year, 10,400 kids will be diagnosed with cancer that stops them, and their parents, in their tracks.  Cancer is the leading cause of death for kids ages 1-14 behind accidents.  If you can support this event as a vendor, walker, or donor, Melissa would love to work with you.  You can find her team page here where you can join up as a walker if you don't have your own team, or even found your own group of walkers, if you prefer!


Walk Coordinator Melissa Robey is a local Prince William County Mom and owner of Games2u (offering free laser tag with a party in October/November to readers of this article!) as well as being a ThirtyOne consultant. She lives here in the 703 with her husband and twin boys, in addition to being a rockstar and running a charity event.

Guest Post: The New American Trail at the National Zoo

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Published: 09/12/2012


I wouldn’t normally venture out to the Smithsonian National Zoo on a humid Saturday at the end of summer, but this wasn’t an ordinary weekend.  After two and a half years of work, the American Trail was reopening to visitors.  Did you know that this trail has been part of the National Zoo since the late 1800’s?  And that it was originally called “Beaver Valley” before they changed the name in 2007?  Or that one of the main reasons for the renovation was that the seal and sea lion pool was leaking over 100,000 gallons of water a day despite efforts to conserve the water?  Well, if you didn’t, you just learned your new thing for the day. 
Waterfall Near the Beginning of the Trail
We started at the part of the trail closest to The Elephant Outpost (which is awesome if you haven’t seen that new addition!) and worked our way down the hill.  It was late afternoon and we were finally getting a break from the sun. As we walked along the trail we experienced several of North America’s ecosystems, including coastal upland, wet forest, eastern woodland forest and the shore. The trail ignites all of your senses as it is filled with sounds of running water, a variety of green trees and flora, tall rock walls and smells of the water.
Busy Beaver!
The first animals we saw were the two American river otters.  Their exhibit is not as large as the Asian river otters’, but it was fun to watch them swim and wrestle underwater.  Next, we saw the North American beavers. The beavers were pretty active, too!  This particular exhibit hasn’t changed that much, but you do get a great view of the beavers. One was having a snack on land while the other was busy carrying sticks and such to their dam.  My girls just loved going back and forth watching the beaver work.  Also included in their exhibit are two hooded merganser ducks, but they were sound asleep on a rock when we were there.
Photo from Smithsonian National Zoo
Adjacent to the beavers are two gray wolves (the white one is beautiful).  This species has never been exhibited before at the National Zoo.  The white one was in plain view pacing his area.  The revamped exhibit allows for visitors to see the wolves better when they are out and about.  Don’t worry about the Mexican wolves the Zoo had before on exhibit on the trail. They were part of a conservation release program.
Across from the wolves is a bald eagle.  I don’t think people realize how big this bird actually is.  I noticed that the exhibit was not enclosed as I remember it being in the past.  This is because the eagle fell from its nest when it was young and can not fly.  I like the openness of the exhibit and you can get a pretty clear view from a side viewing area.
We did not actually see the raven exhibit, but there are four of them.  One of them is a rescue. This is another species the National Zoo has never had on exhibit before. 

We didn’t intentionally save the best for last, but it worked out that way!  Of course, the big talk has been about the new seal and sea lion exhibit that was being unveiled.  I don’t know how many of you remember the old exhibit for the seals and sea lions, but it was more like a huge, white-bottomed swimming pool than a natural habitat for the creatures.  This new exhibit is totally different!  You will seriously forget you are at the zoo and will be transported to the west coast once you enter this exhibit.

Photo from Smithsonian National Zoo – sign by entrance of tide pool
As we got closer, we could hear children screaming and laughing.  I thought the seals and sea lions were swimming and that’s why everyone was so excited.  I had totally forgot about the tide pool!  My tired husband suggested we walk on by so the girls wouldn’t notice.  Granted, we had been at the zoo for a LONG time by then, but I said we should go for it.  (I am trying to do more of “living in the moment” these days.  The “old” me definitely would’ve agreed with him.)  He asked if I was sure and I said let’s get these socks and shoes off!


 
Photos from Smithsonian National Zoo:  Empty tide pool

The tide pool is very kid-friendly and is surrounded with model sea stars, barnacles and sea urchins – which my 3 ½ year old loved searching for and touching.  Water shoots up from numerous holes in the ground.  I almost got caught over a couple of them, which my husband found very funny. (Did I mention I was wearing a skirt?)   Every two minutes, a “tidal wave” sweeps across the area.  The water came up to my ankles.  My 3 ½ year old would rush up to where the water would come out of and my 17 month old was trying to “catch” the water spewing from the “geysers” around us. My girls love the water, so they had a blast! After we were well soaked, we headed on to the rest of the exhibit. 
Having fun!
The first seal we saw was a gray seal.  She is a retired NAVY seal whose skills were utilized during the Cold War.  (Maybe that’s why she was napping.)  She will have three friends join her in the late fall. Two harbor seals will also join the exhibit then.  This is another species that the National Zoo has not previously exhibited.
Next, we got to see four very active California sea lions (two which are rescues) and two lazy brown pelicans.  Both pelicans have wing injuries that prevent them from being released into the wild.
Trying to touch the sea lion--how precious is that?!
The underwater viewing area was filled with adults and children alike trying to get a glimpse of the sea lions swimming by.  This is a great place to just park the stroller and let the sea lions do the entertaining.  The sea lions seemed to be showing off by swimming on their backs and looking right at us as they swam by.  I could’ve sat there longer myself, but we wanted to give other people a turn.

Photos from Smithsonian National Zoo – This is the view from the seating area pictured below.  I love the natural look and feel of it.

As we walked further along the path, we saw this huge seating area where visitors can sit and watch the keeper talks, which happen twice a day.  It would be a great place for a break or just for watching the sea lions if they are on the rocks.  However, it’s not very shady.

Photo from Smithsonian National Zoo – The hidden gem of the exhibit

We were getting ready to leave the trail when I noticed another path.  I decided to go ahead to see what it was.  I saw the sign that said “stroller parking” but the kiosk was shut down for the night.  So, I peeked in the cave and boy was I taken back!  The flooring is soft and bouncy and there is a HUGE underwater viewing area.  There is no ambient lighting behind you and except for not being wet, you feel like you are under the water.  It really felt like the floor was moving.  We took advantage of the fact that we could have our strollers in there and parked the girls for a private show.  A few other people meandered through, but other than that we had the cave to ourselves. There is also a small seating area where visitors can sit and watch.
Waiting for the Sea Lions

There is also the Seal Rock Cafe on the trail, but it was closed by the time we made it by there.  The cafe serves local Chesapeake Bay seafood meals and it even has a vegetarian option.  These meals feature local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients such as shrimp and fish.  

The National Zoo did an exceptional job with the American Trail renovation.  There is so much more to it than meets the eye.  I didn't even mention how so much for the trail was done with "green" thinking in mind.  I have spent quite some time reading about the building of the train, the exhibits, and the animals themselves.  I definitely recommend that you take the family and learn more about what treasures are around us in our own country- from flora to fauna.  The American Trail is certainly an experience for the senses as well as the mind and a great field trip for the entire family!


A Few Tips
-Bring water.  I didn't do this and had to shell out $3/bottle and it wasn't even cold.  They gave scups of ice, but bottled water was hard to come by that hot, humid day!
-Be prepared to park your stroller to enter the cave
-The closest bathrooms are a three minute walk uphill.  They actually have a sign posted with the time!
- Not all parts are shaded, dress for the weather/sun appropriately. 

Angela Pounders is a transplant to Manassas Park from Arlington.  She is blessed to be a stay at home mama to two beautiful girls.  As a former teacher (as well as preschool director and Children and Family Director), she is always on the look out for fun, easy and educational things to do with her girls.  She also loves to share her ideas and is looking to start her own blog, The Master’s Daughter, by the fall.


Featured Organization Friday: CrossLink

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Published: 08/03/2012
Have I told you guys about Rich Anderson and my kid? (No, this is not me re-nigging on my promise to keep this space apolitical, you can vote for him or not, but it's a cute story, so just hold on).  When my oldest son was 5, he informed me that he wanted to get into politics.  Being the over-indulgent mother that I am, I made a few phone calls and was told that we could help out on a brand-spanking-new campaign for delegate of our district.  I'm not sure that the message was passed down from the original person I talked to down to Delegate Anderson and his campaign manager, Reese as a warning, but I have to give them both credit for not laughing in my face when I showed up to volunteer with my 6 month old daughter in a Moby wrap on my chest, my 3 year old son in a pink MacLaren stroller (intended for the 6 month old, but he'd fallen asleep in the car) and my 5 year old, who was rocking it out in his suit and tie from Jacques Pennay.  (Or, as the less classy pronounce it, JC Penney.  Whatever.  You probably mispronounce Target, too. It's "Tahr-jjjay".)  


Anyway, 5yo was so excited and he and Delegate Anderson had a grand old time knocking on doors and meeting people.  I find this to be absolutely terrible, but my son LOVES it.  He had a great time knocking on doors, introducing "my friend, Mr. Anderson", and handing out fliers.  If you live in the Lake Ridge area and had a small child smile at you and try to get you to talk to his friend the politician, you've met my son.  
Kids in Richmond- this is obviously not when they were 6mo/3/5.  Now 8yo is holding a picture of him giving Delegate Anderson a picture for his office, but he told him he could only keep it if he won.  I have no clue why my kid is making that face. 
I know what you're thinking. Yes.  My kid is either going to be a televangelist or a politician.  We tried really hard to encourage his first career option--garbage truck driver--but he really just loves this stuff! 


So.  I bet you're wondering what this all has to do with Featured Organization Friday.  Delegate Anderson's wife, Ruth, works with some awesome organizations working to provide healthcare around the world, and she emailed me because they're in the running to win some extra help and extra cash.  The organization isn't based out of PWC, but since Ruth is Mrs. Delegate for our district, there's a connection.  Check out the links below to learn more about CrossLink, and if you're so inclined, to vote for them to win extra cash.  Otherwise, check out the bottom link and vote for some other organization that better fits your moral code.  Whatever.  Charities and the work they do are amazing.






We Need Your Help to Win a Prize for CrossLink International (www.crosslinkinternational.net)!

Our application was just approved to compete for 50 volunteers and a $500 grant through GOOD Maker, an organization which challenges nonprofits to enhance their productivity.  Our Dream Big Idea will compete with five other organizations and their big ideas.  So please read below and take the time to put in a vote for CrossLink’s proposal. Voting began Wednesday, August 1 at 
3:00 PM and ends Thursday, August 16 at 3 PM. You can only vote once, please vote today!!

In a Nutshell…this was our proposal for a 
Dream Big volunteer project on October 27: CrossLink’s annual fund-raiser (called the Band Aid Ball) aids global health. The next gala is April 2013.  On October 27, we will send 50 volunteers (teams of 2 or more) into the local community to solicit auction items. They would be equipped with an Auction Brochure, lists of suggested items/services to solicit and maps. Some would use computers/phones to solicit from friends, family etc. Prizes will be awarded for items of highest value, most unique item, etc. There will be expert auction analyzers on-site to judge and value the itemsdonated to CrossLink.
You can only vote once -- please vote now!  And if you could, please forward this message on to your contacts and encourage them to support CrossLink in this vote as well!

TO VOTE GO TO: http://VolunteerFestDreamBig.maker.good.is/projects/SCAVENGER

Once you open that website, please click "Vote for this idea".  You will then be prompted to log in and create an account with Good Maker.  It's easy, and you can do it one of two ways, either by using your e-mail address or an existing Facebook account.  Once you create your account, the site allows you to immediately unsubscribe from future e-mails so you won't have them bothering you.  The site should then prompt you to check your email to confirm your vote -- click the link in that e-mail and your vote will be tabulated.  Thank you for helping CrossLink!

How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular

Permalink to How%20to%20Train%20Your%20Dragon%20Live%20Spectacular
Published: 07/17/2012

 HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR, inspired by the phenomenally successful, Academy Award® nominated DreamWorks Animation film, fully immerses audiences into the show in ways that have not been attempted before. Barely contained within the arena, the production utilizes the full venue, maximizing every dimension of performance space to transport audiences into a mythical world of fire-breathing dragons who soar overhead at great speeds. The state-of-the-art animatronic technology and large-scale cinematic projections interact seamlessly with the live actors to bring the story to life.


The show features 23 dragons, some with wingspans of up to 46 feet, Viking warriors and world-class circus artists and acrobats, to perform against a state-of-the-art, wall-to-floor immersive projection measuring more than 20,000 square feet. Produced by DreamWorks Animation, RZO Dragon Productions and Global Creatures, the masterminds behind Walking with Dinosaurs, presented by S2BN Entertainment. Click here to watch video and learn more: www.DreamWorksDragonsLive.com<http://www.DreamWorksDragonsLive.com



8 performances only! July 19-22
Verizon Center
Feel the heat and experience the adventure of high-flying, fire-breathing dragons. Unleash your inner Viking and prepare for the invasion of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR!
Astonishing animatronic technology and world class performers bring to life the heartwarming story of DreamWorks Animation’s Academy Award® nominated film. This ground breaking arena show breaks all the rules of traditional live entertainment for the whole family featuring 23 dragons, some with wingspans up to 46 feet. Don’t miss it!
To learn more about the show and to purchase tickets click here: http://dreamworksdragonslive.com/tickets.php

The White House Tour

Permalink to The%20White%20House%20Tour
Published: 05/06/2012
No pictures allowed inside the WH tour- so this is our only real "tour" photo
We love history.  In fact, we love history so much that it's almost dork-con 1 at our house all the time.  We have "Story of the World" on the full 4 set CD collection and listen to it for fun.

Seriously.

So we definitely appreciate historical sites.  We also love living outside of DC and enjoy the museums.  We're also some of those "crazy homeschoolers", so we partake of the National Park Service's Historic Sites on a regular basis.  My kids have filled out Junior Ranger books at Constitution Hall, Appomattox Court House, the Frederick Douglass House and a few more this school year alone.

I say that all to qualify the fact that we really don't recommend the White House Tour.  I know several of you disagreed on Facebook and said that it was worth a visit because it's such an historic place or because it's on your DC bucket list, but for us, it was probably our least favorite historic tour we've been on.  Here's why:

1) Booking your tour takes some coordination.  You can't just show up at the White House and get in the tour line.  You'll need to go through your Senator or Congressman and provide a list of social security numbers for everyone in your group.  (We were actually very blessed that someone from our group did this for us.  It's a little scary to give your SSNs to someone, but she did all the leg work).  Once you submit those you'll hear 10 days to 2 weeks before your scheduled time and then need to make it work. You can't just request a particular day and be guaranteed to get it.

2) Getting there isn't really that difficult.  Metro Center is very close, or you can drive in.  There's a parking garage right by the W hotel.  They'll tell you not to drive because parking is so limited, but if you're willing to spend the $15 or so dollars to park for the next few hours, you won't have any trouble.  Free and meter parking are nearly impossible, so don't plan on that.

3) Entering the park (the White House is both a residence, a business, and a National Park Museum) can be time consuming and a bit of a hassle.  You'll go through a few check points where you'll need photo ID for everyone over 18 that EXACTLY matches the registered name.  You can be refused entry if you're late for your time (although we were about 10 minutes later than the 15 minutes early they tell you to be and had no problem).  All told we waited in line for about 40 minutes, including going one at a time through a checkpoint where a dog sniffs you (a little scary for our 4 year old), and another with a metal detector.  This was a weekday with no school holidays that I'm aware of, so if you're doing this over summer or winter breaks, plan for a longer wait time.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There are NO STROLLERS, DIAPER BAGS, PURSES, FOOD (including cheerios and baby bottles), OF ANY KIND ALLOWED.  THERE IS NO STROLLER PARKING, EITHER.  They sent a woman from our group away because she had the smallest purse you've ever seen.  You'll need to literally stash everything in your car (if you brought one) or have a member of your crew stay outside to keep everything.  If you public transited, this can be a huge hassle, since you probably needed a stroller or some "stuff" (like diapers) to make it through the rest of your visit to DC.

4) Once you're inside there's isn't actually a tour.  You signed up for a "White House Tour", you're given a tour time, but once you get there, it's all self-guided.  Each room has a small sign on the floor with 1-3 sentences about the room and a fun fact, and there are Secret Service Agents stationed in each room to answer specific questions, but there is no tour guide or small overview as there is at most historic sites in the NPS.  On the main floor, you'll walk up a ramp of a few steps. There is a view of a garden, but we were not permitted to enter it.  There are a few picture frames on the walls with various themes (Presidential Pets, etc), and then you round a corner to the first 3 rooms, which are standard-sized doorways which have been roped off.  There's the Vermeil (that's Ver-may- gold plated French items), the China Room (with the China Patterns), and the library.  You can stick your head in the door and look left and right.  Across from the Vermeil Room, there's a set of stairs going up (I'm not sure if there's handicap access somewhere, but I'd assume there is).  At the top of the stairs, there are a few other rooms that you can actually enter and walk adjacent to- the East Room, Blue Room, Red Room, Green Room and State Dining Room.

All said and done, we waited 40 minutes for a tour that lasted about 5.  My 8 year old summed it up well when he said "Mommy, we could have just read the booklet and looked at pictures on the internet".  Being there in person didn't really add to the experience or knowledge base for us.

If it were me, I'd rather spend my time at one of the other DC historic sites that's less hassle and more interaction.  I totally understand the allure of going to the White House, but for us, we enjoyed it least of all the Historic Tours we've taken.

Breakdown:
The White House Tour
Recommended for: Parties that ONLY have children old enough to walk and stand for at least an hour at a time in line, that do not require strollers or diaper bags, and can handle large crowds of people.

Pros: It's the White House.  You probably won't see the President, but it's still a neat thing to claim you did.

Cons: Requires a reservation in advance through your elected representative, no strollers or bags allowed, short tour for the wait and process. No guided tours, no presentations in each room.

Our favorite part of the tour- Milkshakes at the Potbelly across the street. 


Field Trip: DC Theatre Events

Permalink to Field%20Trip%3A%20DC%20Theatre%20Events
Published: 04/20/2012

Thanks to Perfectly Posh for sharing this great link!

Theatre Washington has a great listing of kid friendly "Playtime Events" coming up! I'm not putting them on the calendar since they're not local, but they do sound fun if you're in the mood for a drive!!


Folger Theatre—Shakespeare's Birthday at the Folger—Su, 4/22, Noon (all ages)


Round House Theatre—Free Theatre Classes & Education Open House—Fri, 4/27, 4pm (Pre-K through H.S.)


Toby's Dinner Theatre—Performance of Wizard of Oz—Fri, 4/27, 6pm (all ages)


The National Theatre—Saturday Morning at the National Presentation of Bright Star Theatre Company's Production of We Can Do It! —Sat, 4/28, 9:30am (ages 4-12)

Numbers Alive!—Performance of Team Ten Tours Washington, DC—Sat, 4/28, 10:30am (all ages)

The Shakespeare Theatre Company—Theatre Workshop for Young People—Sat, 4/28, 10:30am (grades 8-12)

National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts—Fun Shakespearean Stage Combat for Kids—Sat, 4/28, 11am (ages 5-10)


The National Theatre—Saturday Morning at the National Presentation of Bright Star Theatre Company's Production of We Can Do It! —Sat, 4/28, 11am (ages 4-12)


Adventure Theatre MTC—Light Saber Adventure—Sat, 4/28, 12:30pm (ages 6 & up)


The Studio Theatre—Young Actors Inside the Studio—Sat, 4/28, 1pm (ages 12-17)


The Theatre Lab—Get into the Act: Introductory Theatre Games & Improv—Sat, 4/28, 1:00pm (ages 6-12)


the Puppet Co.—Tickets to a Performance of Pinocchio on Family Day in Glen Echo—Sat, 4/28, 1pm (ages 5 & up)


The Studio Theatre—Young Actors Inside the Studio—Sat, 4/28, 1pm (ages 12-17)


Adventure Theatre MTC—Light Saber Adventure—Sat, 4/28, 1pm (ages 6 & up)


National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts—Fun Shakespearean Stage Combat for Kids—Sat, 4/28, 1pm (ages 5-10)


The Studio Theatre—Young Actors Inside the Studio—Sat, 4/28, 2pm (ages 12-17)


Faction of Fools—Tickets to a Performance of Hamlecchino: Clown Prince of Denmark—Sat, 4/28, 2pm (ages 9 & up)

The Studio Theatre—Young Actors Inside the Studio—Sat, 4/28, 3pm (ages 12-17)

Imagination Stage—Peek Behind the Curtain—Free Backstage Tours—Sat, 4/28, 5:15pm (ages 4 & up)


Imagination Stage—Peek Behind the Curtain—Free Backstage Tours—Sat, 4/28, 5:30pm (ages 4 & up)


Imagination Stage—Peek Behind the Curtain—Free Backstage Tours—Sat, 4/28, 5:45pm (ages 4 & up)


Numbers Alive!—Performance of Team Ten Tours Washington, DC—Su, 4/29, 10:30am (all ages)


Toby's Dinner Theatre and Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts (CCTA)—Performance of Peter Rabbit—Tu, 5/1, Noon (Grades Pre-K and Lower Elementary)


Toby's Dinner Theatre and Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts (CCTA)—Performance of Peter Rabbit—Fri, 5/4, Noon (Grades Pre-K and Lower Elementary)



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