Review: Vertical Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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.

Santa at the Manassas Park Community Center 2013

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



Guest Post: Santa at Fair Oaks Mall

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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







 


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


Giveaway: Northern Virginia Youth Ballet Presents "The Nutcracker"

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

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


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


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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

Snow and Story at PWICE

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Published: 10/17/2013
Take your little one to Prince William Ice Center for snow and story! This fun program lets them play on the ice (no skates required) and includes hot cocoa and a story at the end! Can't make the times listed? Your group can schedule a private "Snow and Story", too! Just call Maureen Brennan at 703-730-8423.  This is a great field trip for preschools or playgroups!  Space for drop-in days is limited, so to reserve your spot, be sure to call ahead!




Note: PW Ice Center is a sponsor of PwcMoms.com

Kid Friendly New Year's 2013

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Published: 12/31/2012
New Year's Eve in Prince William County has a few fun options for kids!!

Christ Chapel will be offering a NYE service at 10pm. 13909 Smoketown Road Woodbridge VA

The Cavalier Family Skating Center will host an a New Year's Party.  Monday, December 31st from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am. They will be giving away an iPad Mini (must be present to win). Black Outs, Games, Flash Light Skates, Dances, Balloon Drop. Tickets are $20. Receive FREE skate rental with an advanced ticket purchase. 1924 Jefferson Davis Highway Stafford, VA 22554

Skate N Fun Zone will also have some options:

Kids In Motion offers an annual Kids' Party for ages 3 to 12  from  7 pm - 9 am.  It's $35 for the first child and $30 for each additional sibling.  RSVP by December 27th to save $5 per child.  Pizza, games, hats, necklaces and a balloon drop at 10pm.  Call 703-878-0100, must pay in advance.

If you want to keep the kids home with you (and asleep) Jump N Jimmy's will have open bounce from 10am-6pm.  Work them hard and put them to bed early ;)

Leesylvania Park will offer a “First Day Hike,” so you can start the new year with some exercise! This is a self-guided hike along Lee’s Woods trail; plus a scavenger hunt for young hikers, 7 a.m.-5 p.m., Leesylvania State Park, 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr. Woodbridge. Parking, $4. 703-583-6904.

(C/K)Han(n)uk(k)a(h) Craft

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Published: 12/08/2012
However you like to spell it, here's a fun Hannukah craft that's super easy!  You'll need some candy canes, a baking sheet, and an oven. 




Break the candy canes into pieces and make equilateral(ish) triangles on a greased cookie sheet and bake them for 2-5 minutes at 300 degrees. Take them out, stack one on the other, back in for one minute to set them together, and then out to harden. Use a metal spatula or board scraper, the plastic ones are too fat and roll the candy. These are SweetTart candy canes, and they're pretty yummy :) Blueberry ones would be cute and the right colors :) When they're hard, you wipe any non-stick spray residue off with a napkin, and then you can hang them up or eat them after you light your candles :) You can use little pieces all put together, too- actually my favorite one was all the different leftover colors together!"

Special Offer From Prince William Ice Center

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Published: 12/07/2012
When the holiday season comes, sometimes budgets get a little tight.  That means that some of the fun winter activities we all enjoy can get put on hold until January.  Prince William Ice Center is offering some fun at a discount price for PwcMoms readers with a Buy One Get One Free on skating! Note that you'll actually need to PRINT THIS OUT and take it with you- you can't just show them on your phone.  These BOGO's are good through December 31st and are not valid with any other offer. You can check out their Public Skating Schedule for times.
If your little skater loves public skating, then why not take it one step further and purchase some lessons? I love giving my children lessons/activities as gifts because they don't take up any more room in the toy closet, and a sport or skill is something they'll never outgrow! If you want something to open, head to the Prince William Ice Center Pro Shop and pick up some gloves, an ornament, or even skates! Hockey Equipment rental is available, and lessons are a great value, especially since students in group lessons receive a pass for one public session each week so that they can practice their skills! Classes are available for all ages and ability levels.  When you register, be sure to let them know you're a PwcMoms reader, because I've got another deal for you!  10% off the January/February Learn to Skate or Learn to Play Hockey Series!! For this deal, you must reigster by January 5, 2013, but again, these lessons would be such a great gift for someone in your life who's itching to get on the ice!


Holiday Cheer at The Marketplace at Madison Crescent

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Published: 12/07/2012

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

Giveaway: Children's Nutcracker in Prince William County

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Published: 12/04/2012

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


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

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

Good luck! 

Winter and Christmas 2012

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

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

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


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




















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

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

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

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

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



















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



 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



















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

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

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



















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

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


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


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

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



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

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




















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

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

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

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



















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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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























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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Holiday Fun at Bobby McKeys

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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. 


It's Back! Snow and Story 2012/2013

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Published: 09/26/2012
The Prince William Ice Center will once again be offering "Snow and Story" both for playgroups and preschools who pre-register and for those who wish to drop in.  Admission is $6 per child and includes play on the ice with snow and toys, hot chocolate and a cookie, and a story read by a Prince William Ice Center employee.  Prince William Ice Center is located at 5180 Dale Boulevard Woodbridge, VA, and is next to the Hylton Boys and Girls Club.  


Drop-in Snow and Story will take place on October 1st and 23rd, November 5th and 20th, December 3rd and 18th, January 7th and 22nd, February 4th and 19th, March 4th and March 19th.  
Groups can also arrange for their own snow and story time.  Groups must be 15 or more and may pre-register by calling 703-730-8423. 


Review: Bull Run Festival of Lights

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Published: 12/02/2011
We hit the Bull Run Festival of Lights for the second year this year, and I wanted to pass along a few notes and tips.
The Festival of Lights runs through January 8th from 5:30pm to 9:30pm on weeknights and until 10pm on Friday to Sunday and Holidays.

Prices are per vehicle ranging from $15 (cars weekday) to $30 (van weekend) with separate prices for group buses.  You can get a $3 off weeknight coupon by visiting the trash cans at your local Chick Fil A ;)  Sounds weird, but hey, $3 off is $3 off!!  The coupons are sitting next to the placemats at the Woodbridge location.

Before you get to the park, which is 10 minutes from the Manassas line, be sure you stop at 7-11 and pick up some treats for the car.  We vote hot cocoa and cookies, but you can pick whatever you like.  When you get to the festival, you start out going through a toll booth. It looks like the show is going to start just after with lights on either side, and you may be tempted to turn your headlights off at this point.

Wait.  They're just playing with you.  There's 2 light displays and then nothing for a few hundred yards.  When you get to the sign that says "please turn off your headlights", however, TURN THEM OFF!! There's more than sufficient light from the show and having cars (especially behind you) with their lights on totally ruins the experience for everyone!

Winding slowly through the next 2 miles, there are a bunch of cool light displays including reindeer and Santa, the characters from the Wizard of Oz, Toyland, and our family's favorite- a corner turn where the lights cascade down like snow.


The lights are beautiful, and it's a great activity for an evening where it's far too cold to enjoy something outside, or if your kids are too little to really enjoy outdoor activities.  True story, the first time we went to a light show like this (it was in another state), we had a 1 month old baby and hadn't been out in months, so hubby and I stopped at Starbucks and put our colicky baby in the carseat, and by the time we got to the lights the baby was knocked out from the wonderful repetitive motion of the car and it was snowing lightly- it was actually one of the most romantic dates we've ever been on!

So.  A word of caution.

At the end of the Festival of Lights there is this hot mess.  I think they call it "The Winter Village".  Your payment to the light show includes free admission to the Winter Village!! Squee! Free Admission.

Don't do it.  Just don't.  The Winter Village is actually a carnival designed to make sure you spend at least $75 on going to look at lights.  Rides require tickets (which are non-refundable) and range in price from $3-$5 a ride.  Some of them you can squeak by on without getting burned too badly (kids ride free with paying adult on rides they're too short to ride alone- i.e. the Ferris Wheel and the Egg Scrambler).  You can get a wristband for $18 per person (for our family of 5 there was NO way I was doing that).  There's also lots of junk food around to tempt your kids who, despite the fact that you just fed them dinner, now have a fever and the only prescription is chili cheese fries for $7.50.

If you'd like to be sneaky about the whole thing, the Village is only open on the following dates, so you could feasibly decide to go on a night that it's not open. (Or, perhaps you're not as big of a grinch as I am, and you like spending $5 on carnival rides, in which case, by all means, have a blast!)

The Village will be open from 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm in December per the following schedule.
Friday, December 2nd
Saturday, December 3rd
Sunday, December 4th
Friday, December 9th
Saturday, December 10th
Sunday, December 11th
Friday, December 16th
Saturday, December 17th
Sunday, December 18th
Monday, December 19th


All in all I would say that the Bull Run Festival of Lights can be a fun family outing.  For the best value, go with a friend who has a van on a weeknight :) Then you can split the $12 cost with your CFA coupon! To not go crazy and not spend too much money, avoid stopping at the carnival at the end, but if you have it in your December budget, the kids will definitely enjoy a ride or two.

Christmas Tree Adventure!!

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Published: 12/05/2010
We love going to get a Christmas Tree.  It's an adventure we look forward to every year.  We've tried a lot of different farms, and they're all good for different reasons- but we've found one we love and I thought I'd share with you! I didn't receive a discount or free product for this review, I'm just sharing because we love it there.

Oak Shade Farm is a little bit of a drive, but we think it's well worth it! The trees are a fair price considering what you'd pay at a stand with White Pines at $37 and Norway Spruces for $42.  Any size tree is the same price, so if you're looking for a really big tree it's an especially good price!

When you first arrive at the farm, the friendly staff directs you to a parking space.  There's a large greenhouse space with a wood stove, coloring tables, free cookies and cider, and the most recent family of baby bunnies for your children to hold and snuggle.
After that, you can hike out down the trail the family has established back to a log cabin and a tree that is over a century old.  They've also taken the time to label many of the indigenous Virginia species of trees with cards that list the name, scientific name, and a picture of what the tree looks like in the fall and summer.
Finally, you can walk out into the fields and pick a tree.  There are saws provided and bailing and shaking are free.  There's also a bonfire if you get too cold! We love our trip out to the mountains to get a tree!  If you're interested, there's also homemade rugs, ceramics, jams, honey and more! If you're looking for a weekend daytrip, Oak Shade is definitely worth the drive!

You Know You're Busy, Too.

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Published: 11/08/2010
Moms, let's talk.

I am so busy it's not even funny.  And, it's my fault.  I am one of those people that has trouble saying no...which is probably why I have 3 kids.  Anyway, that is also why I'm PTA President and Sunday School Teacher and Scout Helper and chauffer and babysitter....you know what I'm saying.

So, I'm happy to take a little help where I can get it.  When my first son was born, I spent 4 days making home-made hand-stamped individualized Christmas cards.  Now, however, as a veteran mom (and a veteran Chief Home Officer in charge of where the cards go) I know that the only thing people keep each year is the pictures.  My cards that I spent 4 days on? Those went in the trash.  The cute pictures of the baby that some teenager took at Wally World in under 10 seconds? Those stayed on the fridge for a year.

What I'm saying, is that there is nothing wrong with not wasting your time or your money on something that's going in the trash.  Especially if you're like me and you do not have time.  That's why this year I'm ordering our Christmas Cards from Shutterfly.

We're CHRISTMAS Christmas people (since my other job is Children's Pastor), so I always look for something that references that it's a religious holiday for our family- so we're probably going for the O Holy Night cards here
However, if you celebrate another holiday, they've got you covered, too.  My hubby's family is Jewish, so we also celebrate Hannukah- and although I don't send cards for it, if I did, this would be a winner in my book:
Finally, if you just want to cover all your bases, you know, Bodhi Day on December 8th, Winter Solstice on the 21st, Yule, Diwali, Eid ul-Adha, Kwanza, Festivus, whatever it is that you and your friends and family celebrate- I actually really love this card.  Happy Everything.  Pretty much says it all.
So, Happy Everything to you and your family this holiday season, and, save yourself a little time and send people what they really want- Awesome Fridge Pictures, no need for a card :)
daytime playtime - a fun place to Learn.... a great place to Grow