Kids Reader Meetup- St. Patrick's Day Jump

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Published: 03/15/2015
So this month, our Kid-Friendly Reader Meetup will be a super fun bounce day at Pump it Up of Manassas!

This meetup is for ELEMENTARY AGED CHILDREN (K-5th).  I will not be taking younger siblings as a safety issue (have you seen my 11 year old? He's a giant.  You don't want him knocking into your 2 year old).

Our host will be Pump it Up of Manassas, and we'll be having a blast from 5:30-7pm.  The fun is totally on us if you snag a spot, but if you'd like to save yourself the trouble of dinner, you can get 2 slices of pizza and a drink for $2.95.

To win your space, please be sure to use the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Minion Party!!

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Published: 03/03/2015
 This is Savannah.  She is adorable.  She also really really really really really really really really likes minions.

A lot.

PS- this level of writing skill is why I get paid the big bucks.

Oh wait.  Nevermind. :)
 So for her 7th birthday we had a minion party, which, apparently, many of you were interested in having also! So, here's what I did.  Above you will see a bay window with blue streamers and yellow balloons.  I also got yellow paper lanterns, which you can turn into minion faces if you want!
 I am a giant dork and make themed food.  These are "shrunken moons" like from the movie.  They were just going to be the white cheese on the white crackers (these are round Saltines) but Savannah likes pepperoni, so...our moon is red.  Whatever.
 This is the cake my mom made for my cousin. Yes, I said my cousin.  Second marriage, things happen.  He's the same age as my middle son.  It's his birthday, too, so they had a joint party :)

The interwebs has some cute printable info.  I liked this banana language printable-
I made pin the eyes on the minion out of posterboard, and I found the eye masks at Target.  I just cut the edges off so they were just eyes.
Yes, we are using a Griffyndor scarf I made for my son's Harry Potter birthday as a blindfold.  I forgot about needing one that was minion-y!
These gift bags were super simple.  Black paper, black marker, and the eyes are just the tops to Mason jars with an eyeball on white paper.
Minion bowling- we used spraypaint on empty two litre bottles.  Just a note- you'll want to make sure these are REALLY REALLY dry or they'll leave paint on your hardwood floor and you'll have a panic attack.

Not that I know that from experience.

PS- You're gonna want some Goof Off.  And maybe a magic eraser.
I am a dork.  I don't know what else to say.  Yes, I did Purple Minon Juice in the form of Honest Kids Grape Drink.
Same concept on the gift bags with a little purple feather boa to make crazy purple minons.  Our pinata was filled with cotton candy (it's so fluffy I'm gonna die!), necklaces, tattoos, and candy, and then we sent home a unicorn horn and a cup with each child, too.
I just bought the plates at the store.  I had a plan for really cute polka dot stuff, but my daughter wanted these, so it's what she got.

I am obsessed with the Party Co in Manassas.  It's amazing.  They had minion shaped pinatas, too, but they were a little smaller than I wanted, so I went with this one.

This cake is what you get when you inform your mom the night before your party that you want a "Girl Minion Ice Cream Cake".  I bought a pre-made ice cream cake from Harris Teeter, scraped the decorations off, and re-spread yellow on top (which I also bought from HT- they'll sell you frosting by the pound in the bakery and it's SO MUCH BETTER than that crap frosting in a can (and I am not apologizing for that stance- it's gross) if you lack either the time or the inclination to make your own.

We had a great time. The kids arrived, played a little or colored on some sheets I printed off, then we played games, had snacks and cake, did the pinata, and watched the movie.  The party ran from 2pm-5pm, and if we weren't watching the movie, 2pm-4pm would have been more than sufficient.

Review: Peace of Pottery

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Published: 01/19/2015

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

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

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

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

Game Truck Party Review

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Published: 12/03/2014
Look at my precious little baby.....11 years ago on Thanksgiving Day (which happened to be November 27th) I got this little guy....
And this year on November 27th (also Thanksgiving- he's had 3 Turkey Birthdays so far) he turned 11.  ELEVEN.  I do not understand how that happened.  I mean, I do- so if one of you says "well, every year the world turns" or something, I'm going to give you a Facebook eye roll and we're not friends anymore....but  We have less years left with him than he is old.  It's crazy.
(If you'd like super cute baptism pictures of your kid, my friend Lisa Julia did these and is amazing)

Anyway.  I digress.

So.  Birthday parties change every year for your child.  At first it's just everyone cooing while they look confused and smash frosting everywhere, then it's whatever character obsession they have, maybe one year you turn your townhouse into Hogwarts, whatever. But one year, and this year was it for us, they're getting too "cool" for you to decorate things.

Oh.  Okay.  Let me just go un-Pinterest a few things and have a cry....

And when that happens (or before) you should call Game Truck. Riley (that would be the 11 year old) wanted to do something fun with his friends, but didn't want me to decorate or theme anything.  I was permitted a few balloons in green and blue, but just a few and only by the cake, which was to be an ice cream cake with no weird anything on it.


Anyhow, the Game Truck was amazing, and despite not being allowed to decorate anything, it's my new favorite type of party and here's why:
This is me, hosting 16 boys for a birthday party.  I'm eating some chips and watching "Pretty Woman" with my mom.  It was chilly that night, so we had the fire going.  

I literally sat on my bum and watched a movie y'all.  It was amazing.  And quiet.  Have you ever had one or more boys over to your house and had the feeling it was quiet and peaceful? 

Nope, you haven't.  And if you HAVE had the feeling it was quiet, there was probably something bad happening, but not in this case! In this case they were just in my driveway playing Minecraft and Madden and Mario.
 Here is the Game Truck.  It fit nicely in my driveway, and the people who drive these suckers are totally amazing- I can't back my minivan in without bumping either our basketball hoop or the light- but he whipped this puppy in like it was nothing.
 Inside the truck, there are flat screens attached to every gaming system I've ever heard of.  There was Xbox and Wii and....and some other one, but y'all when it comes to video games I really just don't care, so suffice it to say all the kids were thrilled. ( was PS3)
 There's a wall with all the available games on it.  When the Game Truck arrived, I went out and pulled down anything I didn't want offered- which in our case was based on rating.  We kept it to E10 and under based on our guest list and the fact that I'm mean. Nobody seemed to mind.
Across from the TVs there are nice cushy sofas.  It doesn't feel like you're in a truck at all, in fact, my son said it was "the best man-cave ever" and insists that when we finish our basement, this is what it should look like.  

All told, this was the easiest party we've ever thrown.  The kids came 30 minutes before the Game Truck was scheduled to arrive and had Jersey Mikes, which I picked up.  Then the truck arrived and they played video games for two hours.  Then we had cake.  Then they went home. My house did not get dirty, I watched a movie, really you guys, it was brilliant.  And, beyond birthday parties, I think this would be an AMAZING way to do New Years Eve, or any other party where you want the adults and the kids to have fun.  You should note, though, that we did lose two dads who went out to play Madden, but we didn't mind because then we got to pick the movie. 

Game Truck Party will do any type of event you want, from birthdays to bachelor parties, and they did a great job for us! I'd definitely recommend them, and every single kid who left our party was hinting to their parents they wanted the same experience for their next birthday.  

Disclosure: Game Truck asked for me to do a review of their services, but all opinions are my own. 

Birthday Party Venue Ideas

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Published: 11/05/2014
I want to start off by saying that there is nothing wrong with having some kids over to hang out, play pin the tail on the donkey, maybe do a piñata (hint- look for the pull string and not the baseball bat required kind), eat cake, and go home happy. 

However, I know that with the advent of "you must invite the whole class" rules, sometimes you just cannot fit everyone in your house.  Or, perhaps you just would rather pay the money and not have to deal with setup and cleanup.  I feel that, too :) 

Here are some of our mom's favorite ideas (and ours, too!) for birthday parties! 


Animated Child
Had a Minecraft party for my child at Animated Child in Montclair. Had about 12 boys who had a ball. 
 Animated Child rocks!
See our PwcMoms Review here

Chick Fil A-

Chick Fil A has the best deal

Chinn Park- 

 Chinn has birthday party packages that worked for us. You get a party leader, pool time or moon ounce, and room time with the party leader running games if you wish.

Chuck E Cheese- 

Take advantage of their weekday parties for lower rates.  Do an early afternoon party after school or watch the calendar for teacher workdays and holidays! 

CiCi's Pizza-

CiCi's for a birthday party at about that age....a kid's buffet is a great price and there is a cute grassy area / pavilion behind it to sit and open presents on a nice day.

Edgemoor Art Studio- 

We LOVED Edgemoor Art Studio. Might be considered pricey at $275, but we would have spent WAY more than that at our house... and she goes ALL OUT
See our PwcMoms review here

Engineering For Kids
Went to Engineering for Kids party in Woodbridge this weekend. My son had a blast.

Gymnastics World-

Gymnastics World makes an active structured gymnastics party. Afterwards, you sit picnic table style and eat your own treats. I believe goodie bags are included.

Hello Karate- you can have as many kids as you want the provide everything you only need to bring the cake. They provide pizza drinks plates napkins everything. They do a karate demo, teach the kids and give kids each a board and teach them to break it 

House of Bounce Manassas

Joann Fabrics-
The craft lady at Joanns does a great job at hosting birthday parties.

Jumping Jimmy's-

Jumping Jimmys. Monday through Thursday is 115 for 10 kids includes bouncing and pizza for 1 1/2 hours.
Jumpnjimmys in Haymarket and little gym in Gainesville

Kids N Motion-

Kids N Motion. Not sure what their rates are but we went there yesterday for the first time and my 5 year old and 2 year old had a blast. 
We did Kids in Motion and the kids loved it!! We did the bouncy rooms,then we had cake and drinks and party favors........the kids had a great time.
See our PwcMoms Review here. 

Laser Quest
Definitely Laser Quest in Woodbridge!
 Preschool age kiddos seemed to have had a blast at All that Jazz in Montclair & SwimKids-Woodbridge. We also attended fun parties at Youth & Sports in Dale City. My older son absolutely enjoyed Laser Quest.

Leesylvania State Park

The Little Gym
Jumpnjimmys in Haymarket and little gym in Gainesville

Magic Putting Place-

Once open, the putt-putt golf course and Nathan's on Mathis drive. Think it is about $8 per child and that includes round of mini golf, pizza, soda, and a small cone. I much prefer the pay per child method rather than $200+ for up to 25 kids at places like indoor bounces. Plus, kids as young as that tend to get overwhelmed if it is too big of a celebration, that's been my experience anyway.

Majest Martial Arts

Michaels Arts and Crafts-

Michael's. Room rental is 50 dollars. You can bring your own food, cake, etc. 


See our PwcMoms review here. 

Pizzeria Uno-

Pizzeria uno does kids bday parties. They can make their own pizza. Dough is premade. With drink I think it's 5.00 per child.

Premier Martial Arts

Prince William County Parks (Outdoor)-

 Great alternative: rent a pavilion at a local park (reserve now). For example, for my son's 4th party, rented a Long Park Pavilion for $60 -- let the kids run around with dollar store bubbles, beach balls, pinwheels, etc. before eating and cake/presents, also had a playground suitable for their age. Like home, but mess is outside! Note: that time of year, schedule for noon or later, after the soccer games.

Plan you child's party at SplashDown Waterpark, the largest waterpark in Northern Virginia. Deluxe and standard packages available or just come as a group... We take the work and worry out of this special day..Call Aimee Burke at 703-361-4451 ext. 226. Want a catered event-call me 703-361-4451 ext. 222.

Pump it Up Manassas-

Sport and Health Kids Club-

Sport and Health had an amazing area and good packages
Sport and health in Gainesville. So many things to do, they are super nice, and lots of room.
Sport and Health in Woodbridge is excellent!! I didnt have to lift a finger and the kids were able to swim for 45 minutes.

 Preschool age kiddos seemed to have had a blast at All that Jazz in Montclair & SwimKids-Woodbridge. We also attended fun parties at Youth & Sports in Dale City. My older son absolutely enjoyed Laser Quest.

Toddlin Time Manassas

Tumbling Time-

Check out the new timble time part of all that jazz ms christy from gymboree is running it its at the back of montclair.
 Preschool age kiddos seemed to have had a blast at All that Jazz (Tumbling Time) in Montclair & SwimKids-Woodbridge. We also attended fun parties at Youth & Sports in Dale City. My older son absolutely enjoyed Laser Quest.

Urban Evolution

Vertical Rock

See our PwcMoms Review here.


Magician Michael Chamberlin
See our PwcMoms Review here. 

Princess Parties with Kingdom of Azuria
See our PwcMoms Review Here. 

Tea With Mrs. B
See our PwcMoms Review here. 

Edge Party Trailer

Giveaway: Majest Martial Arts

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Published: 10/29/2014
Our friends at Majest Martial Arts are bringing you this weeks' giveaway! Check it out below! 

In a society that likes to glorify violence, the idea of enrolling your child in a martial arts training class may seem crazy. The image of martial arts instructors as the over the top "Karate Kid" Cobra mental cases makes the prospect seem totally insane. Contrary to popular image, martial arts is actually extremely beneficial for children.  Led by Master K.B. Kim of Korea, Majest Martial Arts - Montclair is dispelling these myths, helping develop our students in both body and mind.  Tae Kwon Do helps children by increasing respect, developing skills in listening and self-control, encourages teamwork and support, helps children learn to set and achieve various goals, and fosters increased self-esteem and physical fitness. 

Our programs are geared for students ages 3 to 99, with a variety of special classes, including our brand new HOME SCHOOL Tae Kwon Do Program!  Whether you are young or old, looking for self-development, or helping your child set and achieve personal goals; Majest Montclair has a fit for you. Programs include:

            Ø  Tiny Tigers (Ages 3-5)
Ø  Evening Color Belt Classes
Ø  Family Classes
Ø  Teens and Adults Classes (Ages 12 to 99)
Ø  Demo Team
Ø  School Break Camp Programs
Ø  *NEW* Home School Program (Ages 5 and Up)
Ø  Leadership Team
Ø  *NEW* Silver Tae Kwon Do (Age 55 to 99)
Ø  Olympic Style Sparring (Gyeorugi)
Ø  *NEW* Cardio Kick Class
Ø  School Age Child Care Programs (Serving Pattie, Henderson, and Ashland Elementary, as well as  Saunders and Graham Park Middle School)

Enter to win 3 Free Classes and a FREE Uniform (a $90 value!).  To win, visit the Majest Facebook and click "like".  Then, check out their reviews and pictures from class.  While you're looking, watch for the picture where PWCMOMS is hidden and comment on the photo to win! You must comment AND like to win! If more than 25 people enter, two winners will be chosen.

Want to check out Majest? They've got an open house coming up, too! Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 10am-2pm. 

As always, giveaways are governed by our giveaway rules- and by entering you agree to be bound by them.  Good luck! 

Giveaway: Kids N Motion

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Published: 07/30/2014
Ah, Kids N Motion.  We have spent some serious birthday party time there!! My oldest son used to have the "if you want to invite one person you must invite the class" mandate, which meant everyone was not going to fit into our townhouse- but they'd definitely fit (and need a nap) after Kids N Motion.  My daughter actually decided to have her birthday party there this year, which was fantastic because it was the week before Silver Sparkles and I didn't have to do a thing except send an evite and pick up the cake.

In addition to birthday parties that will fit your entire class, Kids N Motion also offers open play, parents night out, a preschool program, and a drop-in Summer Fitness Program, which is fantastic if you need a morning off-duty but don't want to pay for a week of camp, or if you have an appointment to get to.

As a bonus for those of you with allergies, Kids N Motion is a peanut-free facility.  I know that is a concern for many of you on the page!  They also do school fundraisers.

For today's giveaway, Kids N Motion is offering a $50 gift card good for Parents Night, Open Plays, Parties, Preschool and Camps (anything they offer).  Enter using the Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: By entering you are agreeing to all of our giveaway rules.  Gift Card is provided by KNM and any issues/liability/play-related difficulties should be directed to them upon claiming your prize. PwcMoms is further not responsible if your kids fall asleep in the car after open play and then wake up when you get to your house and won't go back to sleep and do the "I'm so cranky" thing all afternoon.  We've all been there, but it's not my bad. Good luck, have fun.

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. 

January 20th "Day Off" Recap

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Published: 01/21/2014
We don't typically follow the PWCS schedule in our homeschool, but we decided we'd take yesterday off with the rest of you and have a little fun :)

We started the morning off with my reader meetup hosted by The Animated Child, which my kids were SO excited about, especially the boys, because, in a word, Minecraft.  Am I the only mom out there who really has no clue what Minecraft is? My kids were totally addicted to it before we even had it at home.  I'm so thankful to The Animated Child for hosting all the kids at such a special discount.  Their Parents Night Out programs are typically $35/child, and they had us out for $10/child, plus $3 for lunch.  It was such a fun opportunity and I hope that everyone enjoyed learning more about the center!
I have to remember to invite a photographer for every event I host.  My iphone pictures are horrid :)
As for our moms, we had a pretty good crowd- I should've counted- but I think there were about 25 of us.  Not too shabby for a Monday lunch! If you haven't made it out to one of these reader meetups, I do hope you'll join us in the future. In March I think I'll start doing a playdate type meetup and a moms night type meetup, but we'll see if I survive Silver Sparkles first ;)

After we finished up at the reader meetup, we had to drive to Stafford.

Stafford is usually where I draw the line.  I know that it takes me just as long to get there as it does to get to the other side of the county, but for some reason there's a block in my brain about going south! However, today there was a really great reason for me to man up. 

Sweet Scene Photography hosted a "Tea Time with Belle" which, for $15, included snacks, crafts, pictures with "Belle" and a small goody bag for each girl.  My daughter, Savannah, is almost 6 and she'd been looking for an excuse to get some girl time with a few friends.  While she's definitely mine (she shares my appreciation for pink and sparkles) she would rather wear pink jeans than a dress, but she did humor me and dress up for the occasion.
 There were plenty of coloring sheets, along with a decorate your own crown craft, and the girls seemed to have a lovely time.  I appreciated that the photographer took pictures before she let the girls start in on their teatime snacks (mini cupcakes, fruit snacks, and a few candy options).  It definitely helped keep the pictures frosting-free.
All of the girls got a few professional snapshots of them with Princess Belle (there was a library-themed backdrop) and there was also time for- you guessed it- iPhone pictures!! Yay!  I think if I did this again, I'd ask to have my daughter's group get their pictures together with the photographer rather than her alone- they were sweet, but the fun part of the day for her was being with "her girls".  All four of the ladies that came with us had a really fun time, and I definitely think this was a fantastic special treat, especially with the bonus princess time.  Sweet Scene hosts these fairly regularly with various princesses and they also do "Diva Parties" for birthdays. 

One note- if you decide to go, the studio is on the left hand side of 610 across from the Arby's.  If you pass Sherwin Williams you went too far.  There's a sign for the studio (it's in a shopping center) but it's at the bottom of the sign, and if you are me, you will be late because you passed the Sherwin Williams several times....on both sides of the road...

Luckily my friend told me she did the same thing, so at least I was in good company!

I hope you enjoyed your scheduled holiday- and that you enjoy your unscheduled break today, too!!  I know a few businesses are planning to open- but if you go please call first to confirm and use caution when you drive!

Disclosure: I paid for my lunch, just like everyone else, as well as for my daughter's tea time with Belle.  The Animated Child is an advertiser with  However, all opinions are my own and were  not requested by any company/business. 

Harry Potter Party and Magician Michael Chamberlin

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Published: 12/05/2013
We had a Harry Potter fiesta for my son's 10th birthday.  I love birthdays- I absolutely go nuts for them.  I figure I only really get a few before the kids are too "cool" and "grown up" for them, and I want to enjoy every magical moment of their childhoods.  (As always, apologies for my junky iPhone pictures and the lack of pictures- I don't want to email a million (read: 10) parents and ask for permission to use their kids on my website, so I had to find kidless pictures or pictures without kids looking at the camera, which is not easy!!)
So first, a little about the party.  We spent a small fortune in plastic so that we could turn our house into Hogwarts.  We did a "Platform 9" and "Platform 10" sign outside the door, which we covered in brick-colored plastic sheeting (because only a muggle would put a Platform 9 3/4 sign- everyone knows there's not a sign there!)
Once inside, we had a dressing station.  I made Hogwarts capes (I think they look like graduation gowns, but whatever) out of duct tape and black plastic tablecloths.  I got 3 out of each one, and they were pretty decent looking for the pictures, but the boys tore them to shreds, so I wouldn't waste your time, if you're also about 10 years behind the times and having a Harry Potter Party even though it's 2013 (or later). We also made wands out of dowel rods that we used hot glue guns to make look more "wandy" and then spray painted.  I used Rustoleum Hammered Finish spray paint and it did a really great job- the wands turned out really well, and I was very happy with them.  Super Grammy also made Gryffindor scarves from red and yellow fleece.
Once they were dressed for the occasion, we did a short potions class (I made flaming basilisk skin, foaming truth serum, and ooblek) and then the boys had a Hogwarts feast.  Of pizza.

Because Papa John is totally magical.  How else could it arrive hot and fresh at your door at exactly the right time even though you ordered Monday? (Bless you, internet, for pre-ordering)
 We did serve everything on gold chargers and had lots of candles, and there was, of course, butter beer and pumpkin juice (we re-labeled some V8 Splash).  We did a candy store display for goody bags that included chocolate frogs (I filled mine with green marshmallow fluff) and boxes, "every flavor beans" (just mixed Jelly Bellies), golden snitches (Ferrero Rocher chocolates with wings), acid pops (blow pops with pop rocks on them) and glow wands (just glow sticks).

The high point of the party, though, was definitely the entertainment, though.  I found a new website called Thumbtack, which allows you to request quotes for local services, and it was awesome.  I put in that I needed a magician, entered a few details (size of the party, age of guests, theme, date/time) and within minutes had responses from several magicians in our area.  I was actually quite nervous about having a magician since the kids were all going to be 4th/5th grade and I wasn't sure if they'd like it or think it was completely lame.

When people respond to you, they're able to include a brief note along with their price.  Magician Michael Chamberlin stood out to me because he noted that older children need "more sophisticated" humor and tricks, and he also clearly read my note that it was a Harry Potter party because he offered to open with a trick featuring one of the books from the series (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).

The other part about hiring a magician that made me nervous was that our party was Friday evening, and our magician was going to have to take 95 south to get there.  In what was perhaps the best magic of the night, he arrived on time, though, and came in through our back gate so he could set up without the kids even knowing he'd arrived.  It was a great surprise for our birthday boy.

Then there was the show.  The kids loved every bit of it and were all very eager to come up and assist.  Books lit on fire, card tricks were performed with the assistance of audience members, one boy was even brave enough to use his hand to demonstrate a magical chopper.  Several of the kids asked for Mr. Chamberlin's card as we finished- they truly enjoyed the entire show (I kept a few to give to parents).  What surprised me most, however, was how much the three adults (my husband, my mom, and myself) enjoyed it, too!! We couldn't have fit any more people in our basement- it's a townhouse after all- but I sincerely wished we'd had parents stay so they could have enjoyed the show as much as we did!  He did a great job, and not that anyone's asking, but I would totally recommend him for your next event, whether it's for PTA or a par-tay ;)

They're only little once, right?

All opinions, including the awesomeness of Papa Johns by candlelight and the magic show, are my own.  I was not compensated or provided with a discount, or even asked to write anything, although if Papa John wants to start throwing some of that money he's giving out to Football players my way, he can totally email me anytime.

Sponsored Post: Animated Child Programs for Fall

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Published: 10/24/2013

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

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

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

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

Giveaway: Game Truck of Woodbridge Party!

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Published: 10/23/2013

 Today's super fun giveaway comes to you from our sponsor, Game Truck of Woodbridge.  We're incredibly thankful for the businesses that support what we're doing here at PwcMoms, so that we can keep bringing you free events, ideas, and more!! Thanks, Game Truck! 
 Game Truck of Woodbridge will come to your event location and host an awesome party.  They run a state-of-the-art Mobile Game Theater featuring four flat screen TVs, dozens of video games, the latest consoles, climate control (yes, you can even party in the truck now that it's getting cold!!) and experienced GameCoaches who staff your party!!  
Whether your child is a gaming aficionado and would love a high-tech party, or you're hosting a larger event for your organization or business, Game Truck of Woodbridge has you covered! 

Here's what other parents have to say!
"I was amazed by it all and from beginning to end they made me comfortable with my decision to choose Game Truck for my son's birthday. He was so happy and is still talking about it I can't wait to do it again. We most definitely will be doing it again =) THANK YOU" 

"I have nothing to suggest! Game Truck was a wonderful addition to our Labor Day event for the staff and residents of SERVE. Thank you for sharing the day with us!" 
"Awesome awesome awesome! My son loved it as the birthday boy :) 

For Today's Giveaway, here's what they're offering!!

Enjoy an exciting party in comfort and style with GameTruck of Woodbridge. With our state-of-the-art Mobile Game Theater featuring five flat screen TVs, dozens of video games, the latest consoles, climate control, and staffed by experienced GameCoaches, we bring you the ultimate gaming experience. We handle schools, corporate events, private parties and birthday parties.

While supplies last all party guests get a Skylanders Swap Force poster and a Trash Pack toy collectible. The birthday VIP also gets Skylanders Swap Force figure. 

Enter Here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don't win (or can't wait!) here's a bonus:
We would also like to make a special offer to PWCMOMS. Book a 2 hour party and save $40 when you mention coupon code (ZM42). Coupon is only good for the Woodbridge location and areas we serve. Offer expires Nov 15th Call Andrea at 703-946-5088 or email to book your party today or get more information.

Disclaimer: Game Truck of Woodbridge is a paying advertiser, and PwcMoms has not tried their services.  Prize is provided by Game Truck of Woodbridge, please refer to their materials for waivers/terms/conditions.  By entering, you agree to be bound by our rules for giveaways.  As always, our giveaways are not affiliated with Facebook/twitter/iTunes/Apple/GooglePlay or anyone who's raking in the cash with a forklift.  Good luck! 

Party on a Budget

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Published: 04/28/2013

Party on a Budget
By:  Angela Pounders
I told myself that I would not be the type of parent who would go all out and spend a lot of money for my children’s birthday parties.  Instead, I would buy a few themed items and work around that with what I had and/or buy some inexpensive items to go with it.  My parents never went all out and I have some of the best birthday memories.  To me, it’s not about how much money you spend, but about the time spent together.

This year, Sweet Girl, my (now) four year old, wanted an Elmer the Elephant party.  (He’s a patchwork elephant featured in books by David McKee.)  I couldn’t find party stuff to buy so I had to be creative. Love Bug, my (just turned) two year old, picked a Thomas the Tank Engine theme.  Of course, there is a ton of stuff out there with Thomas!  However, I ended up spending about the same for each girl’s party with these easy, fun and inexpensive ideas.

Plates and Napkins:  I always let the girls pick out plates and napkins that go along with their chosen theme.  We have done solid colored plates and printed napkins before as well.  I found the cutest elephant napkins that stand up.  There is a wide variety of designs available.  So, not only did we have napkins, but a table decoration at each spot! 

Tablecloth:  Go with a solid color and something that can be reused.  If you are having a bunch of children over, plastic tablecloths from the Dollar Store work great.  Oriental Trading has a good selection to.  We used our nice cloth tablecloths (you know, like the ones you pull out for the holidays) this year for the girls and it made them feel so special.

Decorations:  A lot of money can be spent in this category, but it doesn’t have to be.  I printed out color pictures of Elmer and his friends and also of Thomas and friends to hang around the living/dining rooms. I also printed some in black and white so the girls could color them and used those as decorations, too. You can find a lot of free printables online to go along with any theme.  I found some elephant party invitations at the Dollar Store and used those for decorations and for making Sweet Girl’s birthday card. Remember, think outside of the box!  Also, streamers and balloons in colors that go with your child’s theme are an inexpensive addition to the décor.  The Dollar Store is the best place to go for these disposable decorations.
The new idea I came up with this year is free!  I thought it would be fun to decorate using books.  Yes, the kind you read.  We went to the library and checked out a bag full of books for each girl’s theme.  We set the books up around the living/dining rooms.  They decorated the rooms and were in reach when the girls wanted to look at them.  You could also buy some new books for your child and put them out the morning of his/her birthday as a surprise.

Activities:  Again, you can find many free printables online with patterns and craft ideas.  There are also a variety of BINGO type game sheets that you can print out, too.

Sweet Girl really wanted to look like Elmer and asked if I could paint her.  Um, no, but how about coloring a t-shirt to wear instead?  I drew a checkerboard on a couple of t-shirts and let the girls go at them with fabric markers.  I even made one!  What child wouldn’t think it was neat to draw on and make his/her own shirt?  You could prep each shirt with a picture related to your child’s theme (draw it on, iron-ons, etc) and have each child decorate his own shirt.  An activity and party favor in one!

Cake:  Maybe you feel like you’ve saved enough money with everything else to buy a bakery made cake, but why not make one at home?  Whether you make it from scratch or a box, it is so fun to have the birthday child make the cake with you.  Sweet Girl even wanted to help place the animal cake toppers (which doubled as toys afterwards—another money saving tip!) on her cake.
I hope these fun, easy and inexpensive ideas help you with the next party you plan.  Remember to think outside of the box and be creative.  Think about how things can serve double functions to save even more money.  Spend more time and less money and everyone will benefit from it!

Angela Pounders is a transplant to Prince William County 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 shares her ideas on her blog, The Master’s Daughter.

Tea With Mrs. B

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Published: 09/21/2012

Tea with Mrs. B, located in McLean, VA and Bethesda, MD, is a children¹s tea room focused on providing a fun and memorable lesson in manners, etiquette and poise.

Never one for boring, every day instruction, Mrs. Rebecca Czarniecki, better known as Mrs. B, captivates her audience with detailed stories and her outgoing, joyful personality. From private adult and corporate manners classes to customized birthday parties for children, Mrs. B is here to help with all things etiquette. 

Join Mrs. B the third Saturday of every month at the Bethesda Lebanese Taverna for her newest program, Mingling and Manners 101. Designed especially for tweens and teenagers, Mrs. B provides lessons on dining etiquette, proper body language, communication skills and navigating certain social situations, over lunch and tea.  $55 per person.

To contact Mrs. B, please call 202.448.2930, e-mail orvisit 

Want to meet Mrs. B for something more fall-ish? Tea with Mrs. B, along with Art Works, is having a Halloween Haunt at the Historic Beall House (7740 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD 20814). This event will take place on October 27 from 4-6pm and will include music, face painting, a candy hunt, a haunted house and games and prizes. All ages are invited! 

Mrs. B is so excited to share her programs with PwcMoms, and she's even got a special "tea for one" set for a lucky reader! To win, email with "Tea With Mrs. B" in the subject line! Contest closes Saturday, September 22nd.  

Birthdays at Leesylvania State Park

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Published: 09/03/2012
Looking for a children's party venue in Prince William County? Consider hosting your child's birthday party in Woodbridge, Virginia at Leesylvania State Park!

Leesylvania currently offers the following children's party themes:
Ages 3-6
Crazy Caterpillars Birthday
Dino Day Birthday
Pond Play Birthday
Terrific Tales Birthday

Ages 7 and up
1860s Afternoon Tea Birthday
Critter Tracking Birthday
Decoding the Battlefield Birthday
GPS/Nature Hike/Canoe Tour Birthday

Parties are an hour and a half and include an hour of programming and a half hour of "traditional birthday fun", such as cake and presents.  Leesylvania offers an affordable birthday party option in Prince William County with rates starting at $52.50 plus $2 per child.


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Published: 08/15/2012
We were really fortunate to be invited to a super-awesome birthday party at the NOVA BMX track in Woodbridge, Virginia.  The kids had a great time and were getting lots of fresh air and exercise, which was fantastic.  I thought going into it that there was no way we'd make it more than 10 minutes (long pants and long-sleeves are required for safety reasons and it was 102 degrees!), but the kids didn't complain at all! 

From treasurer Brenda Powers:
Our track is owned by Prince William County Park Authority.  We are a 501(c)3 organization and run solely by volunteers.  BMX is an individual sport and is very family oriented.  BMX became an Olympic sport in 2008 and this year we are celebrating the 2nd year of BMX in the Olympics.  It is a great sport and because of the Olympics it is growing in popularity.  Unfortunately, our track seems to be one of Prince William County's best kept secrets!  We are trying to get the word out as often as we can.  Hopefully your web site can help us accomplish this.
The track, located at 7 County Complex CourtWoodbridge, VA 22192, offers clinics, races, and practice time memberships.  Not sure if your child will like it enough to sign up for a 30 Day Membership? That's okay- you can come out for a FREE one-day trial membership. A full-face helmet is another requirement, but the track has ones to loan.  In addition, the track offers sanctioned practices with gate opening on Wednesdays at 5:30pm to dusk and on Sundays from 2-4pm. As far as competitive riding, it looks like races start at around $8, so this is a really affordable sport (once you've bought the bike!) especially compared to things like figure skating!
The track also offers birthday parties, and would be a really fun outing for a scout troop, too.  At the party we went to, we rode first and then did a tailgate in the parking lot.  It was such a fun event!! I've never been to a party like it, and even younger siblings (no training wheels are allowed on the race track) had fun on the blacktop that surrounds the track.

When you head out to check out the track, you'll want to enter the county complex area and head to the right, as if you're driving up to the Potomac Nationals stadium.  Continue to the right all the way back to the right-rear area of the parking, and you'll see the track on your right hand side.  (It's the best-kept secret because you can't see it from the road!) 

Disclaimer Time: was not paid or compensated.  While this review is a fair and accurate representation of our views, it is important to know that BMX is a physically strenuous and potentially dangerous activity. does not assume any liability for injuries sustained partaking in any type of sport or activity reviewed on our site, including BMX. 

Guest Post: LEGO Birthday Party Ideas

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Published: 08/15/2012

5 LEGO Birthday Party Ideas
Certainly one of the main ingredients in a great kid’s party is the games, and a Lego themed party is no exception.  Surprisingly versatile and always popular, despite the temptations of more technologically advanced games and toys, Lego remains a huge favourite with younger kids and a Lego party will go down a treat.  Here are some tips for getting just the right mix. 
Rules of Engagement
Lego, or not, there are a certain rules of engagement when it comes to parties and kids ones are no exception. 
·        Have a game or an activity ready to start as the guest arrive; this helps to get the party started and it’s one small step in the continual battle to wear your own and your friends kids out! 
·        Have a different range of games that include group games and individual task, this ensures that everyone gets to take part and doesn’t get left out. 
·        It may be the taking part that counts but it’s important to ensure that everyone – including the birthday boy/girl – gets to win one of the games. 
·        Finishing touches – end the party games with the cake – and give out goodie bags for everyone to take home with them. 
Photo Credit: /

Lego Games
·        Opening the games; no, you don’t need to create an Olympic spectacle but a jar full of Lego bricks at the front door to play “Guess the Number” is a good starting point.  The winner gets to take the jar of Lego home at the end of the day.
·        Using chopsticks tied with a rubber band get each guest to attempt to pick up as many Lego pieces from a central bowl and place them in individual bowls.  The winner is the one with the most bits in their own bowl at the end of a minute. 
·        Towering Treats; no Lego party is really going to be complete without a building challenge; a group task should naturally involve creating the tallest tower.  You can set the challenge to one large group or several competing groups.  Each team member has to take turns to add to the tower and the group with the tallest tower (or the last to collapse) wins. 
·        Especially if the party is indoors – either weather bound or because of distinct lack of outdoor space - Lego bricks can make an ideal focus for a treasure hunt.  Again this is a good team effort game and by setting it as a group challenge you can create a couple of different treasure routes.  The winning team is the one that finds all the pieces first.  A more complex version is to take each piece from a small model and the winning team is the one that finds all the bits and constructs the model first!
That Cake
Naturally the cake will be a key part of the celebration and thanks to their simple design Lego bricks make a perfect and easy to make cake.  Any flavour of sponge cake can be used along with six sponge cupcakes.  The cupcakes form the studs and you can use standard icing coloured red, blue or green to cover the cake and studs, creating a realistic and tasty Lego brick cake.  A more adventurous alternative is to create a layered cake, decorated with a number of different colours and top off with studs and a forest of candles on the top.  Goodie bags or boxes should contain at least one mini-kit (cars for the boys and jewellery for the girls go down well) to take home as a reminder of a fantastic Lego party. 
Photo Credit:

AuthorCarlo Pandian is a freelance writer and LEGO fan. He blogs about LEGO bricks, parenting and design covering everything from Dallas with kids to theme parks. When he’s not online he likes gardening and volunteering at his local community center.

My Daughter's Best Friend's Birthday Party's Vendors

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Published: 08/08/2012
Cause that's not a mouthful :)

My daughter's blessed to have an amazing group of little girlfriends.  I don't remember ever having great friends at her age, but she certainly does.  One of her friends has a mom who I adore because she makes me look sane by comparison.  I go all out, but she goes all out times two.  We had a blast setting up for this party together- and when it was done, it looked like a magical place where Pinterest threw up.  When you're having a birthday party in Prince William County, sometimes a little DIY can go a long way ;)
Yup.  who needs sleep when you could be helping a friend fluff crepe paper balls at 4am?  Certainly not me :) Obviously this was going to be an amazing party!  This momma had thought of everything!! From customized water bottles to a candy bar.  It was amazing.  Even better, she'd sprung for a deal-site special on a woman who was going to come and lead a tea party for the girls.  The Little Tea Spoon, which incidentally uses the same theme as my business cards on their website, offers birthday parties, tea parties, baby showers and more.  We were all excited to see what she'd come up with!  However, this ended up being a fiasco as she was supposed to show up 45 minutes before the party to set up and didn't arrive until well after the party started at which point she proceeded to set up as if she was early, which was to say slowly. I totally understand this is Northern Virginia and traffic happens, but if the terrible happens and you're over an hour and a half late, you have to compensate with speed!  The girls were definitely hungry and ready to party and had to wait for quite some time.  (I wasn't asked to do a review, I was just so unimpressed, I asked my friend if it would be okay if I did a warning) The girls had a great time with each other and didn't notice that things weren't going according to plan, of course.

The stand out from the party (besides the gorgeous decorating) was Andrea Gunter, who came and took party pictures. Honestly, this had never crossed my mind, but I thought it was completely genius!! You're always so busy during a child's party, you never get all the pictures you want!! Andrea had a great rapport with the kids and seemed to know exactly which shots to make sure to get without being intrusive.  She's didn't ask for a review, either, but I was so impressed with her work that I wanted to share.   Andrea Gunter Photography offers portrait sessions, mini sessions, birth announcements, maternity shots, family and more.  Check her out on Facebook.  I love the very clean look to her pictures.

These two are naturally gorgeous, but the pictures are awesome, too!  

Look at my cake.  I've never had a cake look as good as when Andrea photographs it :) 

So there you have it, the vendors from my daughter's best friend's birthday party.  One I'd pass on next time, and one who was fantastic!  Who've you used that made your child's party even more fantastic? Leave a comment below and share with the crowd! Have you ever hired a photographer for your party? 

Review: Cavalier Family Skating Center

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Published: 07/24/2012
We had the opportunity to head to Stafford to the Cavalier Family Skating Center last week with friends.  Leaving from Lake Ridge, it took us about 30 minutes to get to the Cavalier, which is located at 1920 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Stafford, Virginia.  (Hey person who asked me to include addresses, I'm talking to you!)

Coming from 95 north, the location is on your left side of Route 1.  It looks like a house with a Pizza sign, but turn in anyway, the skating center is actually BEHIND the pizza place. Generally speaking, admission is $6, skate rental is $2, Roller Blade rental is $3, and "PlayZone" admission is $3.  They do take credit cards. Admission includes a slice of pizza and a small fountain drink.  You can check for daily specials on their website.

Are you ready for the worst iPhone pictures I've ever posted? Are you sure?  I warned you!

So, obviously it's dark inside :) There are lots of lights going and you even get a little black-light style glow to any white clothes that you're wearing.  The floor is flat and surrounded by carpet, which is actually a nice way to start your new skaters out.  My ice skating boys opted for roller blades and did just fine with them, but my little figure skater had to resign herself to 4-wheeled skates because the roller blades don't start until size 13.   Right next to the skate rental area is the play zone.  You can almost see it in the junky iPhone picture above.  It's an extra $3 to use, and I refused to pay for it, but my kids didn't seem to mind or even ask about it until it was time to go and they'd taken their skates off.  There are also numerous arcade style games around that require tokens, which you need cash to get, so if you've got a gamer, plan on at least a little cash so you can get your tokens. 
Oh, look! A decent picture from the Cavalier website.  
At the opposite end of the rink there's a linoleum area with the cafe, more games, some seats, and a party area.  Word to the wise, the linoleum is SLIPPERY, especially for new skaters.  That first step from the carpet or wooden skate floor to the linoleum is a doosey! 
It's definitely a great temperature inside, and as you can see, we had the place basically to ourselves, with the exception of the disco ball, although a summer camp group did come near the end of our time.  Admission the day we went was from 10am-6pm, but we stayed from 12-3.  The music is kind of fun- I heard a few blasts from the 90s past and enjoyed it immensely :) 
 As far as cons, I've got to be honest, this place has seen better days.  You can't really see this picture well, but it's an image of where the carpeted benches meet the carpeted floor.  That white looking line is about 1/4 inch of chunky dirt that runs around the entire perimeter.  The day we went the water fountain was missing 2 of its 3 "push here" covers, so there were just holes in the fountain where they should have been, and there was a bench top missing from one of the tables in the cafe area, so there was just bare metal left.  The floor to skate on was definitely clean and smooth, and the kids had a really great time skating, but if I kept my Dyson in the back of my car, I would have busted it out for awhile.

In addition to school groups and camps, the roller skating rink also offers birthday parties, which are currently priced from $129-$199 for 9 guests plus the birthday child.

Cavalier Family Skating Center
Pros: Admission fee is good for the entire day, lots of special event skates.  Indoor option that keeps the kids moving, all 3 of my children (4, 6 and 8 years old) had a good time.  The weekday we went it was basically empty.

Cons: Extra cost for play area, facility needs serious cleaning.

Recommended for: A day inside, but be sure to bring some hand sanitizer when you're done.

Meet Hallabolou

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Published: 07/18/2012

Hallabolou is a full service Children’s Enrichment and Event Company.  I first met their owner, Vanessa, at the Chick-Fil-A Fire and Rescue Fest.  I instantly decided that I needed to know the woman with the purple apron and approximately 75 pounds of Legos.  Bright, enthusiastic, and passionate about engaging and enriching children's lives, Vanessa instantly won me over on Hallabolou (a secret message saying hello to her children) and her work there.  Read more about them below, and be sure to check them out on Facebook and their Website, too! They offer classes, after school enrichment, camps, and more!

From the owner:
Our enrichment programs and camps are dedicated to creating an atmosphere that fosters each child’s feeling of autonomy and positive self-image.  From a young age, children are fascinated with the world around them.  Hallabolou uses this fascination to teach life skills and assist children in understanding and expressing their emotions through a creative technique known as the Five Points of Discovery. These points are Imagination, Determination, Commitment, Self-Confidence and Cooperation. Through our offerings of bRiK Programs or Learning Levels we teach STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. We enrich their experiences by also providing a Dance and Movement program, Educational Cooking for Kids, Theater and Art.

Review: Azuria Events

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Published: 02/13/2012
Have you ever made the joke about the queen coming to tea?  Well, for my daughter's 4th birthday, we actually had the Princess! (Didn't know a kid-friendly princess lived within commuting distance of Prince William County, did ya?)

Jennifer Faulconer, aka Princess Genevieve is the ultimate in a character study.  When I first contacted her about doing my daughter's birthday party, she actually responded to me "Dear Queen Kristina".  No joke.  She does the Disney Princess giggle, comes dressed in a ball gown, and has an entire kingdom, complete with a map, a flag, and a crest.

One of my friends, a former servicewoman who shall remain nameless, couldn't handle the girly-ness of it all.

However, our girls...well, they were, to use Princess Genevieve's word, enchanted.

When I told my daughter that a princess was coming to her birthday party, she spent the entire week talking to anyone that would listen about the fact that "There is a REAL princess coming to my birthday!! A REAL PRINCESS!!".  People in the grocery store, the post office line, and the library quiet room were all very understanding.  Savannah (my daughter) was so excited that when Princess Genevieve actually knocked on the door and arrived, she rushed to the door with all of her friends and, and...

And she couldn't speak.  Couldn't even quite look the lovely vision in blue in the eye.  Actually, none of them could!

Princess Genevieve, however, took this all quite in stride, and floated in (she actually really did float! Pageant girls take note!) with her bag full of treasures from Azuria and proceeded to captivate an audience of 8 completely silent 3 and 4 year old girls (and one very talkative 5 year old brother) with her stories about unicorns, four leaf clovers, fairies, and mermaids.  Mysteriously, the two older boys in the room disappeared to the basement to complete some Lego work ;)

By the time Genevieve finished telling her stories and inspecting the treasures that said brother brought down, it was time for some dancing and singing!

I would imagine that the Pied Piper couldn't possibly have gotten a more instantaneous reaction when asking children to rise.  The girls all stood up and started slowly moving to "Happy Birthday Princess".  Slowly, one by one, they got comfortable as Princess Genevieve twirled them around the room, and by the end of another song, they were all dancing in a circle to Genevieve's directions.

After that, Princess Genevieve helped with the singing of Happy Birthday and the cake cutting, and without missing a beat, placed herself on the floor among the happiest little girls I have ever seen in my life to talk with them while they enjoyed their refreshments.  Kind, happy, and amazingly understanding of the preschool dialect of English that usually only mothers are fluent in, Princess Genevieve talked with the girls while they munched happily and asked her questions.  She even encouraged them to say "please" and "thank you", which instantly won her brownie points with me!

When it was time to go, Princess Genevieve floated out the door with hugs and stories about the ball that she had to prepare for.  It was lovely and etherial and magical.

And then the girls realized what just happened and went absolutely nuts talking to each other about what they'd just witnessed.

Savannah is now back to talking to anyone that will listen to her, or that is within ear-shot and HAS to listen to her about the fact that Princess Genevieve came to her birthday party.  I'm not sure how long it will last, but I'm glad to know that I could give her such an amazing childhood memory.  We get so few, when you think about it.

Princess Genevieve and her band of princesses are based out of Azuria, which, for commuting purposes is about the same distance as Warrenton.  They will travel the region for a fee based on mileage.  In addition to parties, Princess Genevieve is available for events and even Girl Scout badges!  She will also do appearances for schools and libraries.  With children my daughter's age, we opted to do a 45 minute appearance.  I think that the optimal age for children to really get into the appearance would be 5-7, based on the 5 year old boy we had kicking around (who loved the story telling), and the 5 year old girl (who was the first one to stop being completely spell-bound and participate).  However, I think that our 3's and 4's did fantastic and had such a memorable time, I would definitely have done this again the same way!

Thanks to Princess Genevieve for making our little princess' day completely enchanting!

Disclosure: PwcMoms paid full retail price for Princess Genevieve's services.  No additional arrangements or discounts were provided in return for this post, and it represents the personal views of only.

Open Skate at Prince William Ice Center

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Published: 01/16/2012
On Saturday night, I took the kids to the Prince William Ice Center to bide my time as a football widow.  (I was pulling for Tebow, but rooting for the Patriots)

I was a little nervous when I pulled up and couldn't find a parking space- but there were still a lot of skaters hanging around after the morning's exhibition activities.  There was also a hockey game going on when we arrived (PW Ice Center has 2 sheets of ice).

Princess was supposed to start skating lessons on Tuesday morning, but I forgot and we missed the first day, which I'm adding to my mother of the year application! When your child enrolls in lessons, they're put in the computer to have one free practice a week while they're in lessons.  It used to be you got a coupon book, which probably would have worked better for me since I promptly forgot about the fact that she was in the computer when I went to pay.  I've seen some BOGO coupons lurking around, I want to say there's one in the Leisure magazine the park authority puts out, but I'm not sure.  If you can find them, take them! We had 5 people skating plus 2 skate rentals, which ended up being $41.

Skate sessions last 2 hours for open skate.  We decided to arrive halfway through, which is when they clear the ice to Zamboni it, which takes about 10 minutes, so I guess the sessions are really an hour and 50 minutes :)

A note here.  PLEASE ask someone for help if you don't know how to put on ice skates! I pulled a few people off the ice to re-tie their skates.  I used to help teach kids' classes when I was a figure skater, and it really makes a HUGE difference if your skates are tied properly.  If you can wiggle around, slide your foot out, or fit your hand in your skate after you've tied it, "Ur doin it rong".  Let the boots help you support your ankles!! Luckily for you guys, YouTube is here to rescue us!
Ah, that's better!! While I'm at it DON'T WALK ON THE BLEACHERS WITH YOUR ICE SKATES ON!! THE BLADES WILL GO DULL AND THE NEXT PERSON WON'T BE ABLE TO SKATE!! If you need to sit down, there are benches in the lobby.  Sorry, it's kind of a pet peeve of mine.  Skate blades are like your good metal knives- so don't use them on metal!

The music was embarrassing my 8 year old.  It was mostly 90s instrumentals and they started with the first verse being sung, and then it was just music.  Of course, this meant I needed to sing! Sorry, kids, you can tell your therapist about it later!

It is rather crowded on a Saturday night (did I mention that? I'm writing this in 5 minute chunks!) so make sure your child learns how to get up before you put them on the ice. A quick way to do this is put their skates on and have them fall down and get up several times in the lobby.  On the ice there is an area with 4 cones where all the girls who think they're the next Tara Lipinski (or whoever is the new "it" skater) go to show off their moves.  Keep your child away from that area, because it's the place they're most likely to get trampled by someone going backwards.

In terms of what to bring, snowsuits are a good idea on toddler skaters.  Otherwise, long pants, long shirts, and a jacket along with GLOVES!! for everyone, and if you're being safe, a helmet is a good idea, especially for new skaters. 

There is a cafe that serves snack foods and drinks.  Outside food and drinks are not allowed according to the signs on the front doors.  Cash and credit cards are accepted both at the front desk to buy passes and skate rentals and in the food bar and pro shop, which does have gloves if you forget!!

We had a really great time skating, and will definitely be back for more fun!! Little kids (ages 2-5) will probably only make it an hour or so their first time.  Older kids, or those that have skated before, will enjoy the entire session, and your younger ones can always take a snack break.

Disclosure: My children take hockey and skating lessons at the Prince William Ice Center.  I was not, however, compensated in any way or asked to provide this review.  All opinions are my own.

You're Invited!

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Published: 12/07/2011
Okay, so not really.  But, if it was physically possible to fit all 950some of you into Edgemoor Art Studio, I totally would have.  However, since I can't, I wanted to share a little of my son's birthday party.

I've worked with Ruth, the owner of Edgemoor, quite a bit since my first article on the studio.  However, for full disclosure, I pay for my son's art lessons and paid for his birthday party, at the same price everyone else does.  Which, FYI, is a ridiculously awesome price, but we'll get to that in a second.

Birthday parties at Edgemoor start with the theme of your child's choice.  My son wanted a jungle theme, and he and Ruth spent about 10 minutes discussing what that meant.  The day of the party I was asked to come 30 minutes early to put out my snacks (you can bring whatever you'd like) and make sure that I was "happy with the decorations".

Holy.  Heck.
 Why, yes, I do think that transforming your entire studio into a jungle will do quite nicely for making me and the kiddo happy.  SERIOUSLY? (And, no, it's not just us.  A few weeks ago the studio was covered in black and stars and planets and a few weeks before that there was a red carpet and manequins....these parties are all-out)
Eating area.  With matching jungle-print plates and cups and jungle animals on the table.  Y'all, I didn't do ANY of this, it was just magically there.  I seriously showed up with mini pumpkin pies (my Turkey Day Baby does not like cupcakes) and party favors.
Please do not pay attention to the picture in front of my 3 year old :) We had a lovely lesson on finding the shapes in animals and each child was invited to make their own jungle image.  My baby went with some very contemporary interpretations ;) the older kids made some amazing masterpieces.  We were supposed to do a special keepsake photo project, too, but I am a horrible mother who's currently in a fight with a store that rhymes with Binkos DedHex.  That's all I'm saying.

We also learned about mixing colors, double loading the brush, and more.  The kids had a great time and on their way out, several of them said it was the coolest party, EVER.  Aside from the snacks, the only other thing we brought was the "goodie bag", which we actually got these, but from Michael's on sale of the week, so they were $5 each.  I consider that an awesome deal for goodie bags, you can spend major cash on all the junk that normally goes in them! Plus, these looked super cool :)

The best part? This kickin birthday party was $200.  Seriously.  Read it again, I'll wait.

Did that sink in?

We've had parties a lot of places. None of them have customized, decorated, or engaged with the kids the way that this one did.  With goodie bags and food I spent a total of $310, and that easily could've been less if I wasn't lazy and bought everything pre-made.

We had a great time at our "Arty Party" and I think your child would, too! 

I LOVE (by Cupcake) You Guys

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Published: 10/24/2011

What is it with all these amazing women bakers in our area? I don't know but I love it! When you can combine your passion for a vocation with your passion for helping other people- well, that's a beautiful thing.

Enter our giveaway sponsor for this week, Love By Cupcake.  As described by the owner:

Love by Cupcake was born in honor of my dear friend who at the age of 38
was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer called Triple
Negative Breast Cancer. Today my friend continues her vigilant and courageous fight and inspires
me to help others. A portion of the money from the purchase of my cupcakes helps
me in my fund raising efforts. I have been able to donate money to families and individuals who have
been affected by cancer.

Want to win a gift certificate from this compassionate baking company? Head over to their facebook and leave a note about how Breast Cancer has affected you- it is, after all, breast cancer awareness month.  I'll pick a winner on Wednesday afternoon, so hop on over!! 

(on a personal note, Love By Cupcake seems to use an amount of edible glitter rivaled only by me.  That makes me love her very much! There's is nothing better than a cupcake....unless it's a sparkle cupcake!!) 

Lorton Workhouse Part II

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Published: 04/22/2011
Sharing a few more notes:

1) They do Birthday Parties!! Ages 4-12 can host a custom party theme, activities and art projects.  Proceeds from the parties support the workhouse's outreach for young people.  Contact Caren Hearne for details- 703-584-2900

2) They do classes!! Summer Session begins in June and includes the following(prices listed are for members, add $25 for non-members)
-Mixed MEdia Painting for Kids (4 weeks, $110)
-Art Exploration (Drawing, Painting, Mixed Media) for grades 1 and 2 (7 weeks, $110)
-Art Discovery (Drawing, Painting, Mixed Media) for grades 3 and up (7 weeks, $150)
-FUNdamentals of Fine Art for Children ages 8-14 (8 weeks, $135)
-Kindergarten Creations (6 weeks, $100)
-Papermaking for ages 7-12 (9 weeks, $150)
- Young People Crochet for ages Preteen/Teen (1 week, $50)
-Exploring Papermaking: Pulp Painted Postcards ages 7 and up (1 day, $45)
-Kimekomi Dolls, ages 12 and up (4 weeks $105)
-Doll Making for Busy Hands for ages 7-12 (9 weeks, $150)
-A Complete Puppetry Experience for ages 7-12 (9 weeks, $150)
And that's just art!! There are also classes in animation, "writeamation" film editing, short film, recording studio, piano, guitar, drum circle, ceramics, dance, yoga, and hula.

3) They do Summer Camp! 
Camp options include Short Films, Visual Arts Explorers (1/2 or full day), Art Star Theatre Camp, Art Star Performance Workshop, and Half Day Music Camps in into to music, guitar, and piano.

Register at or by calling 703-584-2900
Milla's Playland A Play Gym Designed for Parents and Children Aged 10 Months to 4 1/2 Years...