February Kids Reader Meetup!!

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Published: 02/23/2015
Our friends at Showcase Dance Studio will be hosting this month's reader meetup for kids!!

Join PwcMoms and Showcase Dance Studio for a cool dance party inspired by the movie Frozen.  You son/daughter will have an Arctic Blast dancing to their favorite songs! Do you want to build a snowman? No problem- we'll be doing an arts and crafts project, too! Channel your inner Prince or Princess and Let it Go at Showcase Dance Studio!!

Ages 3-6 will enjoy dance, crafts, games, and a goody bag to take home.  Children can come dressed as their favorite character as long as their outfit allows them to move freely.

When: Feb 28 1:00pm-2:30pm
Where: Showcase Dance Studio
            Bull Run Plaza
            11750 Sudley Manor Dr
            Manassas, VA 20109
Contact Info: 703-368-0555

Want to go? Enter using the Rafflecopter below!! I'll start handing out spots on Wednesday, so enter early, enter often!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post: BumbleABC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can check out there upcoming Open Plays ( and other programs) HERE. (Link for that is http://bumbleabc.com/registration/)

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

Upcoming at BumbleABC Lake Ridge

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Published: 12/11/2014

Bumble Science - Fascinated about Flight
Mondays- January 5th, 12th, 19th, & 26th
5:00 PM - 5:45 PM
Ages 3-6
In this four week class, little scientists learn about various methods and means of flight by using the scientific method to experiment with a wind tunnel, a straw rocket launcher, balloons, pinwheels, helicopters, airplanes and more!
Bumble Music - Circles, Spots & Dots
Mondays- January 5th, 12th, 19th, & 26th
6:15 PM - 7:00 PM
Ages 3-6
In this four week class, little bugs enhance hand-eye coordination, rhythm skills, music awareness and gross motor skills as they learn about circle shapes through fun, interactive music and movement games, they are engaged by parachute-play and they play instruments while moving, rocking, marching, tapping, clapping, singing, and dancing to the beat!
Bumble Art - Build-a-Bug
Wednesdays- January 7th, 14th, 21st, & 28th
5:00 PM - 5:45 PM
Ages 3-6
In this four week class, little artists pretend to be construction workers and enhance fine motor skills and creativity by using various building methods such as cutting, painting, gluing and more to construct a different bug each week!

Bumble Sports - Taking Aim
Wednesdays- January 7th, 14th, 21st, & 28th
6:15 PM - 7:00 PM
Ages 3-6
In this four week class, little athletes explore team-building concepts, enhance fine and gross motor skills, and practice hand-eye coordination by engaging in fun, interactive games and activities centered on basketball, golf, bowling and ping pong!
Open Play Workshops in Lake Ridge
Mondays and Wednesdays
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Infants to age 6
This open discovery workshop encourages creativity and cognitive development as children advance in association and problem-solving abilities, while constructing with various large building blocks and other materials. Friendships and social skills will also form as children work and grow together!

Readers Recommend: Gymnastics in Prince William County

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Published: 01/13/2014
We recently had a momma looking for gymnastics and Prince William County, and, as always, you all had plenty to say on the subject!!  If you'd like to add your thoughts, please leave a comment on the bottom of this post!! Love to hear from you! 

Apollo Gymnastics x12- "Apollo Gymnastics right off of Hoadly and PWPkwy." "APOLLO especially if they are serious and want to compete." "3 of our 4 have gone to Apollo and we have really liked it a lot.  My one daughter had a teacher one session we did not like, but other than her the experience has been great." "My son does gymnastics at Apollo.  He has had great coaches." "Apollo is great, but there are some instructors who work better with different kids.  The parent area is great to watch and ask around about instructors (and can be visited before you sign up to research)." "I am a former gymnastics coach and currently a personal trainer.  I highly recommend Apollo.  My daughters love it and have improved by leaps and bounds.  It is expensive, but one of the best around here." "Very well run"
Apollo is located at 12700 Apollo Drive, Woodbridge and offers classes for ages 18 months and up, and birthday parties for ages 4-12. Their phone number is 703-580-9144.  45 minute classes are $80/month at the time of publishing. 

Dale City Rec Center- "My daughter does tumbling at the dale city rec center and loves it! All the 
instructors are great!"
The Dale City Rec Center is located at 14300 Minnieville Road, Dale City, and offers classes through the Prince William County Park Authority.  They offer tumbling for ages 1.5-4 years.  703-670-7112. Classes range from $42-$68 for a 6 class session.

Freedom Center-  If you're just looking for a quick intro class to see if your preschooler/toddler likes it at all, Sally at the Freedom Center funds a great class and the sessions are short and inexpensive"
The Freedom Center is located at 9100 Freedom Center Drive in Manassas, and offers classes through their recreation department.  They offer classes for children ages 3.5-12 years old, and classes appear to be $10 per class in 4 or 5 week sessions at the time of publishing. 703-993-8444.

GMS x4- "GMS in Manassas off Balls Ford.  They have beginner and rec classes and stuff for girls that want to compete in a team.  Great all around gym." "GMS by 66 in Manassas great for competitive and has brand new facility for rec classes." "GMS is the best around!! They have been around for years and years and the owners are amazing. You can't find anything better for sure."
GMS is located at 7226 Newmarket Court, Manassas and offers classes for ages almost 3 and up.  1 class/week is priced at $150 a month at the time of publishing.  703-369-7800.

Novaks x6- "Off stage coach rd Dumfries" "We've done Youth Sports and Novak...like both" "Novaks is great" "Affordable, with a world championship to back them up."
Novaks is located at 17535 Old Stagecoach Road, Dumfries.  They offer open gym, play gym, classes, competition team, birthday parties and camps for ages 5 and up, with a special play gym for ages 5 and under.  Class prices are not listed. 703-221-5833

World Gymnastics- "I love coach Isben at World Gymnastics.  I can't vouch for any others.  He has figured out how to work with five kids on the autistic spectrum and it is better than any OT."
At the time of publication, their site was down.  

Youth Sports Gymnastics x 11- "Love youth sports gymnastics near BJs in Wdbg!" "We checked out quite a few and really liked Youth Sports....the coaches there are really great." "I've heard great things about Youth Sports, we did not have a good experience with our children at Apollo." "We've done Youth Sports and Novak...like both" "Great for girls and boys." "Most have a free trial class; however, Apollo does not.  I did not want to sign up for a class without trying it first.  We have been at novaks, world, and youth sports.  Most impressed with youth sports. It is clean and does not smell like feet!" "My daughter goes to Youth Sports.  She loves it." "My son has been at Youth Sports for 6 years.  Clearly we love it there."
Youth Sports is located at 14023 Noblewood Plaza, Woodbridge.  They offer classes in tumbling, cheer, rhythmic gymnastics, jumprope and regular gymnastics starting with parent/tot.  Sessions are 5 weeks, prices aren't listed online.  They also offer birthday parties, camps, and special events. 703-590-8400

Distance recommendation- 
Dulles Gymnastics Academy- "Dulles gymnastics academy is great.  For under 5yo, $8, 11-12pm on Fridays.  It's great because your kid can try everything out and they have two instructors present." 

Recap: Open Exploration at The Animated Child

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Published: 01/01/2014
When I was first able to actually sit down with Alejandra Hall, owner of The Animated Child, and chat face to face for the first time, I was so impressed with her vision.  I'd read the website and tried to understand everything that was going on over there- a preschoool, indoor play area with drop-in hours, language classes, art classes, social skills coaching (they're an inclusive center), memberships with special members-only benefits, parents night out, annnnd....I think I'm skipping something, too.

Minecraft- they have Minecraft camps and classes- how could I forget that? My boys have talked about NOTHING but doing Minecraft camp since we walked in the doors. 

They've got a TON of things going on over there, and understanding it just by reading the website is almost impossible, you really do have to drop in.

That's why I was so excited that The Animated Child invited us to bring a few readers over for a free open-exploration so they could experience it for themselves.  It was a great way to spend New Years Eve Day!
 Our target age was K-3, and I would say that Open Exploration is best aimed at ages 2-7. That being said, my 10 year old had fun when we came with just out family, but I think preschool-grade 2 would have the most fun. 
 My daughter had a blast at the tangram wall.  It's completely magnetic, and there are tons of patterns.  I think these two built a rocketship and a centipede before moving on to something else!
 The space that you play in for Open Exploration is divided into sections based on Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences (I told you that they impressed me with their planning!!).  There's are areas for playing with animals (guniea pig, lizard, and multiple fish tanks), a touch table, a train table, all sorts of building materials, body puzzles, a dress-up/pretend play area, and water bead station.  The space is open and inviting, and everyone (parents, too!) wears socks and uses hand sanitizer before playing to keep it clean!
 While the kids were playing, Mrs. Alexy took the time to let parents find their child's top intelligence and gifted everyone a shirt with "Music Smart", "Body Smart", "Math Smart", whatever their top match was. 
I think everyone left happy, and had a great time playing.  We had a few kids that did NOT want to leave!  I love that Open Exploration is engaging, quiet, and less rowdy than inflatable places (aka Bounce Houses), which I love, too, but with very small children who get hurt easily, or a child who can't bounce for whatever reason, there are few fun indoor options for cold/rainy/winter days, and I'm really glad that we've got one in Montclair!

To learn more about The Animated Child, visit their website, or better yet, visit them in person.  Open Exploration times are listed on their website, but are currently:
Open Exploration Scheduled Times:
Open Exploration Scheduled Times: (Saturday)

You can also find Open Explorations listed on our calendar.    Open Explorations are $9 for non-members.  Thanks again to everyone who came out to play with us!!

Disclosure: The Animated Child is one of our advertisers, but all opinions are our own.  You can find out more about advertising with PwcMoms, or about hosting an event for our readers at your venue under the "advertise" tab, or by emailing us. 

One Day Fall PWC Parks and Recreation 2013

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Published: 08/16/2013

Here are some fun, one-day classes for the Fall Season through Prince William County Parks and Recreation.  I've included the registration information at the bottom.  For those of you who may be new, SBDCRC is the acronym for the WAY too long of a name Dale City Rec.  These are also on the calendar, but sign up now so you're sure to get a spot! 

Let’s Read (Ages 3-5) Code 310401
Have you ever wondered what happens if you give a mouse a muffin? Join us as we read and explore through activities based on Laura Numeroff's books.  $15, register in advance.  SBDCRC- September 19that 9:45am

Let’s Paint (Ages 3-5) Code 310121
Let your child’s inner Picasso come out as they paint using a variety of tools to create several of their very own masterpieces. $15, register in advance. SBDCRC September 26th at 9:45am

Let’s Celebrate Fall (Ages 3-5) Code 310401
We will explore this change of seasons through a variety of books and special projects.  $15, register in advance.  SBDCRC October 10th9:45am *Note: Let’s Celebrate Fall and Dr. Suess have the same ID Code in the magazine, so confirm you are registered for the correct class when calling.

Dr. Suess (Ages 3-5) Code 310401
Let your imagination run wild with Dr. Suess. Join us as we read several of his books and explore them through various projects and activities. $15 SBDCRC November 7th at 9:45am *Note: Let’s Celebrate Fall and Dr. Suess have the same ID Code in the magazine, so confirm you are registered for the correct class when calling.

Look What I Made! (Ages 3-5) Code 310121
Class participants will be able to make their own playdough and ooblek. $15, register in advance, November 21 9:45am

Wonders of the Holidays (Ages 3-5) Code 310191
Tis the season…We will celebrate the season through reading books that explore the magic of the holidays.  $15 SBDCRC December 5th, 9:45am *Wonders of the Holidays, Ornaments and Decorations, and Parents Shop/Kids Drop all have the same activity code, please be sure you are registered for the correct class.

Ornaments and Decorations (Ages 3-5) Code 310191
We will create holiday decorations and ornaments that you will be able to treasure for years to come.  $15 SBDCRC December 12th at 9:45am *Wonders of the Holidays, Ornaments and Decorations, and Parents Shop/Kids Drop all have the same activity code, please be sure you are registered for the correct class.

Parents Shop/Kids Drop (Ages 3-12) Code 310191
Parents rest assured as you are finisheing your holiday shopping your children are having fun in an exciting and safe environment.  Activigties fro children will include games, movies, andcraft projects.  Pizza and drinks provided.  Pre-registration required by Dec 6.  $20/4 hours, CAFC December 14th 6pm-10pm

Girls Lock In and Sleepover (3rd-5thGraders) Code 310204
Join us for a night full of fun.  Snacks and Breakfast will be provided.  Come dressed in your favorite PJs and fuzzy slippers.  Pre-registration required by November 1.  For girls only in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade.  $30, CAFC November 16th 7pm-7am

Glow in the Dark Yoga (Ages 13+)
Everyone wear white and register ahead!! Monday October 21 7:30-9pm, Tuesday October 29 7-8pm, Thursday October 31 7-8pm Free for passholders, $10 drop in

FREE Pilates Studio Open House (Ages 13+) Code 318305
Join us in this free pilates orientation on the equipment and expose yourself to a new formula of keeping your body in ultimate shape and balance.  Pre-registration is required.  SBDCRC October 2nd11a-1pm or 7pm-8pm

Wednesdays in the Park (Preschool) Code 309100
Bring your pre-schooler out for an adventure in the park.  You may register for one or all of the programs.  Parent participation is encouraged but not required.  $10 Lake Ridge Park Theme:
9/18-  Fishing/Waterfront
9/25- Soccer/Mini Golf
10/2- Trails

Baby Sitter Training (13-15) Code 311011
The American Red Cross helps to develop skills in six critical areas: leadership, safety, safe play, basic care, first aid, and professionalism.  Offered multiple dates.  1 8-hour class, $75
September 21
October 19
November 16

Scouting Programs- These aren’t on the calendar because I’m too lazy.  I’m sorry.  Please don’t hate me.

To register for classes, you can go to pwcparks.org, register in person at any registration site (listed below) print and mail a registration form and payment, or register by phone with a credit card.  They take Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. 

Registration Offices Are:
Ben Lomond Community Center
10501 Copeland Drive Manassas VA
Hours: M-F 9am-8pm, Sa 9am-12pm, Su Closed

Hellwig Administrative Office
14420 Bristow Road Manassas VA
Hours: M-F 8:30am-5pm, Sa/Su Closed

Chinn Aquatics and Fitness Center
13025 Chinn Park Drive Woodbridge VA
Hours: M-Th 5am-9pm, F 5am-8pm, Sa 7am-5pm, Su 8am-5pm

Sharron Baucom Dale City Recreation Center
14300 Minnieville Road Woodbridge VA
Hours: M-F 6am-9pm, Sa 8am-8pm, Su 8am-6pm

Veterans Memorial Park
14300 Featherstone Road Woodbridge VA
Hours: M-F 9am-6pm, Sa 9am-1pm, Su Closed

Fall Co-Curricular and Extra Curricular Activities

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Published: 08/14/2013
Back to School also means back to activities!! If you're looking for the perfect activity for your child, here are a few suggestions:

I- Co-Curricular Activities (activities that compliment learning and the SOLs, if you're into that sort of thing)

Engineering for Kids offers classes in Woodbridge at the Chinn Center and will also come to your school or location (think scouts or homeschool) if you'd like to start your own Robotics club.  We worked with them on a Robotics Workshop and it was amazing. Classes are offered for ages 4 to 14, so even preschoolers can enjoy this program!

Edgemoor Art Studio is still one of my favorite favorites because of director, Ruth Johnsen, who is just amazing with children.  Ruth offers art and phonics classes, starting at age 2 with "My Grown Up and Me" and going through age 16.  Phonics classes start at age 4 and classes are small, but Ruth also offers private tutoring for older students.  Art classes start at 2 and are fun, engaging, and use artist-quality materials.  Edgemoor won the Seefeldt Award for Art Excellence this year, as well.  The studio is located in Lake Ridge. These are not "crafty" classes, they're actual art lessons.

Scouting/things-similar-to-Scouting-that-don't-use-that-word-because-it's-trademarked (hereafter "scouting") can be a really fun activity if you find the right pack/den/troop for your family's level of activity.  Our readers recommended:
Daisies at Yorkshire Elementary 4067
Daisies at Leesylvania Elementary Troop 866
Brownie Troop 1789 at Leesylvania Elementary
American Heritage Girls Troop 1947
American Heritage Girls Troop 0428 (All Saints)
American Heritage Girls Troop 1010 (First Baptist)

Baden-Powell Service Organization (2 out of Woodbridge)
Boy Scouts of America Pack 1364 (Pattie Elementary, Montclair)

Animated Child in Montclair offers both an all-day program, Minecraft nights out, Spanish Language instruction, art classes, and other opportunities throughout the year.  In addition, they offer parents night out and parents day out programs, so if the year gets to be a little much for you and you need a glass of wine with grownups....they've got you covered.

We've never used Drama Kids, but readers mentioned it! They offer classes at the Freedom Center in Manassas, as well as the Southlake Rec Center in Montclair.

All Sports, Various Activities- Check out the newest Leisure Magazine from the county! Typically their programs are great introductions AND they are affordable. 

Live in Manassas? You'll want to check out the listings for Manassas Park Community Center, too! You'll find the Freedom Center listings in Leisure Magazine (above) 

II.  Music Lessons (because that piano isn't just to hold your Precious Moments collection! These are in the order they were received, not alphabetical)
Jessica's music studio, manassas 703-368-3434. My 4 year old has been taking lessons for 4 months. She sees Josh and she already knows a tons. He's great with her. Heard that all the teachers there are great. Lessons run around $120/month for a 30 minute lesson once a week ( for the month).

Mary Beth Nolan, Montclair, $25 for 30 min lesson. Beginner through intermediate. 703-583-8680.

Music and Arts, Potomac Festival Mall, Miss B. $30 for 30 minutes/once a week. She is fantastic! My daughter has been with her for over a year now and plays beautifully!

I'm a piano teacher in the Woodbridge area. I have an undergrad degree in performance and a masters in music Ed. I charge $25 for half hour weekly lessons and I have 2 recitals every year and participate in piano festival for those interested. You can message me on here or through my email lessonsbystef@gmail.com (Stephanie Houde)

Kathleen at KLR Studios. Love her!! http://www.klrstudios.com/

We love Emily Condie Baird! $23 for 40 minute lessons in the Lake Ridge Area. 703-338-7359

Hello! I'm Dr. Becky Crowley, and I teach piano (and flute) in Woodbridge. While my studio is pretty full, I occasionally have some openings. I'd be happy to answer any questions your reader might have. She can contact me at Crowley.Becky@gmail.com, and she can also view my website at beckycrowley.com. Thanks!

III- Sports (activities that get some of that energy out and keep your kids fit and happy, hopefully you're into that sort of thing) 
Readers Recommend:
Dale City Rec Center (Eastern PWC)
GHBL (Western PWC), t-ball starting at age 4 and baseball starting at age 6
Greater Manassas Baseball League (includes softball)
PWGFS Softball

Boys and Girls Club (Multiple Locations)
EPWBA x3 (Eastern PWC)
Upward Basketball (Multiple Locations)
Prospects Sports (Eastern PWC) ages 5 and up

We have a WHOLE separate post on that one! Click here.

Dale City Sports Clubs x3 (Eastern PWC) ages 5-12, tackle football and Cheerleading
Game Time Sportz x3 (Eastern PWC) Flag football in Lake Ridge
Youth Sports gymnastics/tumble/cheerleading

Youth Sports

Ice Sports:
Prince William Hockey Club (Our money and our kids skate with PWHC)

Other Sports:
-Parkour at Urban Evolution
-Rock Climbing at Vertical Rock

VSA (Western PWC)
PWSI x3 (Our kids played PWSI and I loved it, our daughter is returning)
NVSC x3 one parent noted Hellwig Field is cleaner than the field by Splashdown
WBSC (Woodbridge)

GMBL x2 (Western PWC)
PWGFS registration ends on August 3rd

Swim Kids (Various locations)  All three of my kids swam with Swim Kids for a time, and it's well done

All Sports, Various Activities- Check out the newest Leisure Magazine from the county! Typically their programs are great introductions AND they are affordable. 

Language Stars Open House

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Published: 08/03/2013
I didn't start a foreign language until 8th grade, and it's one of my greatest regrets.  While I had the opportunity to take years of French and participate in an exchange, I always wished that I'd started sooner, and at this point, while I understand French, I haven't spoken it in so long I'm not sure I could if I had to. At my high school, they also offered Russian my senior year, which I took both there and in college, as well, and enjoyed very much, but I can't claim to remember much beyond the alphabet and basic conversation.

Oh, and Cheburashka.  How could you forget him?
He's so cute!!

In our area, especially, you find loads of bilingual kids.  I think that it gives children such an advantage to start languages early, and, of course, if you have a parent in the home who speaks two languages it makes things really easy.  For those of us without that advantage, we have to look elsewhere if we want to snag our kids some quality language instruction.
Language Stars offers French, Spanish, Mandarin, Italian and German language instruction for children ages one and up, and has been voted "Best Language Instruction" in the DC Area for the last three years.  Their school year programs begin on September 3rd, so now is the time to look into classes.  While they don't have a Prince William County location, they do have a nearby Fairfax Center, and you can check out the classes, and the drive, during their open house program, which runs from August 5-25, 2013.  You can sign up online to try a free class, and if you register during the open house period, you'll save $100 off your tuition.  

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Language Stars.  All opinions are my own, especially those about the cuteness level of Russian Cartoon Characters. 

For Moms: Herbal Tension Tamers

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Published: 07/19/2013
The Animated Child will be offering an Herbal Tension Tamers class on July 23rd at 7:30pm.  To RSVP and save your spot, call (703) 763-0003.  I know we're all stressed out, whether we're the SAHM type or the WAHM type or the WM type.  If you've got an "M" for "Mom" in your title, this class is for you! 

Dance Studios for Children in Prince William County

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Published: 06/22/2013

Our Readers Recommend posts are always great! I love hearing from you who the best businesses to frequent are, especially since I obviously can't try the whole county out myself!! When it comes to dance studios for your beginning dancer, here's what our Dance Moms recommend!  We've included the comments from Facebook, the number of moms who wrote "recommend" posts, and the number of "likes" that posts got for each studio, total.  Some moms don't feel the need to write a new post when their favorite has been mentioned, but we want to include their support!

Studios, by "region" and then in alphabetical order (or I think, anyway- but remember, I had brain surgery...)

Dance Studios for Kids in Haymarket/Gainesville/Bristow:
AG Arts- private, professional ballet classes and coaching.  Caters to a lot of home schooled dancers. Simply the best! (recommended x2, 2 likes)
Gainesville Dance Center- They are so great!! Starts at age 3 and up (recommended x1, 1 like ) 
Gainesville Ballet- our daughter has had the wonderful opportunity to dance on-stage in two Nutcrackers, Coppelia, and Swan Lake beside professional and pre-professional dancers who gently mentor and support.  She is now age 7. (recommended x1, 2 likes)
Tiny Dancers- started out daughter there at 2 with Mommy and Me classes, now she's 5 she's been in 2 recitals! Tiny Dancers is geared towards kids 2-12. (recommended x1, 1 like)

Dance Studios for Kids in Manassas:
Academy of Russian Ballet- Much more modest performances than the other places I've seen. Starts at age 3, three professional productions a year with guest artists (optional participation) students have gone on to the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow and other programs. (recommended x2, 5 likes)
Centreville Dance Academy (This isn't PWC, but since some of you are soooo very close to the line) (recommended x1, 1 like)
Northern Virginia Dance Academy- Professional, reasonable, end of year performace free and open to the public.  We love it there and appreciate the emphasis on modesty. (recommended x1, 1 like)
Showcase Dance- great program for all ages, appropriate costumes, reasonable prices! (recommended x1, 1 like)
Spotlight Dance- great teachers and prices (recommended x3, 3 likes)
Stage Door Dance Studio- Starts at age 3...love these ladies & all the very talented dancers they create! One daughter started at 3, the other at 2, they both love it! (recommended x2, 1 like)
Virginia Dance Center- starts at age 2 and has dance camps over the summer. Has mommy and me class and summer camps.  Great instructors and staff!! The training is incredible!! (recommended x6, 17 likes )

Dance Studios for Kids in Woodbridge/Lake Ridge/Dumfries/Montclair:
All That Jazz- starts at age 2, All That Jazz is wonderful! Ms. Rebecca and her entire staff are fabulous!  You can watch them dance on TV from Lobby or a double mirror by class! The teachers are the best! My youngest does creative movement and my oldest did hip hop. (recommended x6, 27 likes )
Dance Etc- We love Dance Etc.! (recommended x2, 1 like)
DeGrasse Dance Studio (recommended x1, 1 like)
Linda's Ballet Workshop- Ms. Linda is THE BEST!!! Her philosophy is to dance for the love of it. No pressure...just a love of dance!! We have been at Linda's Ballet Studio in Lake Ridge for 3 years. Our daughter started at 3 years old.  We love it there! Reasonable prices and FABULOUS teachers make it an ideal studio. You won't be disappointed. Linda's Ballet Workshop hands down! They even have adaptive ballet for handicapped students. Also love Linda's! One more for Linda's Ballet she taught me for 14 years and is now teaching all 3 of my girls.  We LOVE it there- learn to dance for the love of it- no matter your size, age, or skill level! Perfect for little preschoolers to adult dancers! (recommended x9, 29 likes)

Reader recommendations are voluntarily offered, and do not suggest an endorsement from PwcMoms.  If you'd like to add your suggestions or endorsement, do so in the comments!

Guest Post: Fitness in Motherhood

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Published: 06/16/2013

Motherhood is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding experiences a woman can do. The physical demand of pregnancy and labor forever changes a woman’s body. During pregnancy is when major posture changes begin. As the fetus develops and grows larger a Mom’s pelvis tilts forward, lower back begins to curve more and shoulders slump forward, which can all lead to back and hip pain. Throughout the course of motherhood, posture can continue to be negatively affected.

It takes a great deal of strength - both physical and emotional - to be a Mother. Getting the kids in and out of the car, carrying the diaper bag, picking up the stroller, loading and unloading groceries/shopping bags, and carrying a car seat and/or kids. As mothers we are constantly squatting, lunging, reaching, stretching, and sprinting. Sometimes those are all within two minutes.

In order to be able to squat, lunge, sprint and remain uninjured and energetic throughout our day requires Mom to physically train for the tasks of Motherhood. Exercising on a regular basis will provide Mom with the strength and energy to keep up with our kids.

FIT4MOM has programs designed for every Mom at every stage in motherhood. There is the pre/postnatal program Fit4Baby/Stroller Strides classes that include cardio and resistance training. Mom works out and interacts with the kids in the stroller through a variety of exercises and songs. Classes are lead by our team of trained instructors in pre/postnatal fitness. We also offer Body Back, an 8-week program of personal fitness coaching and nutrition education. Body Back is taught by our Fitness Director Caitlin Sharp. No matter what stage you’re in, there is a program at FIT4MOM that can help you reach your fitness goals. 

FIT4MOM PWC offers more than just a workout. We offer a community of Moms who care and encourage each other. Once a week after class we offer a special playgroup with a craft or activity for the kids. After most classes Moms and kids stay after class to play and talk. We hold a Mom’s Night Out event once a month to connect with the group and get a much needed couple of hours away from the kids.  We are an understanding group that knows that some days getting out of the house is what made it a success. We provide the emotional support that we all need when we have felt challenged in motherhood.  

Please come join FIT4MOM for a Stroller Strides class (view the schedule here). Your first week of classes are FREE! Or, if you'd like a little longer, enter our giveaway for 2 months Free! That's an $80 value! 

This sponsored post is brought to you by FIT4MOM PWC.  Visit them online to learn more about these fun, friendly classes that are designed for moms to get in shape!  PwcMoms.com has not visited a class, and you should consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen. 

Website pwc.fit4mom.com

Giveaway: Camps at The Little Gym Gainesville

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Published: 06/13/2013

We're so excited to bring you ANOTHER camp giveaway- this time for the little ones!! The Little Gym of Gainesville, located at 7364 Atlas Walk Way in Gainesville (That's the Virginia Gateway Shopping Plaza- 7364 Atlas Walk Way, Gainesville VA) is giving away a day of their fun camps to THREE lucky winners!! The Little Gym is a ton of fun- we've been for birthday parties, and, Virginia Gateway has not one, but two salons, so you can go get a mani/pedi while your child enjoys camp.

Or, take a nap in your mini van.  I understand :) You could also go home and catch up on housework...but why would anyone waste 3 precious hours doing that? 

From The Little Gym:
The Little Gym camps combine physical activity and gym games with arts, crafts and special events and guests -- from a furry friend to our local heroes such as fire fighters and policemen!  Each week offers a different interactive learning theme and each day brings a unique lesson plan!  Our flexible scheduling allows you to book just one day, a week or multiple weeks at a time -- whatever will fit your families summer schedule!

Check out some of these fantastic themes
The Little Gym Crazy Carnival!!
Cars, Planes, Trucks and Trains
X-treme Sports of All Sorts
Legends, Fables and Folklore
Lights, Camera, Action!
My Animal Planet
The Little Gym Olympics
Hip Hop Karate Chop!
Sky Rangers!

Camps begin this week (July 10th) and run through August 23rd, and there are both afternoon and morning half day options.  I personally love that The Little Gym has made the effort to offer both "girl", "boy" and gender-neutral themes.  Having both boys and girls in my family, I'm always on the lookout for a camp that will interest all of my kids so that I can spend my free time as actual free time, not running from one camp to another dropping off children with varying interests! 
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Meetup Giveaway: Engineering 4 Kids

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Published: 06/06/2013

Engineering for Kids® was born right here is Stafford, Virginia! Founder Dori Roberts began her teaching career in 1999.  During this career, she saw a dire need for math, science, and engineering enrichment programs.  To remedy this, she ran an after-school club that participated in various engineering and science-based competitions.  After membership hit 180 students, and the group won multiple state championships, she decided to tailor her own program and apply it to a wider age demographic.  Engineering For Kids® offers programs for homeschooling, scout troops, and birthday parties, as well as regularly scheduled classes and camps throughout the school year.  Engineering for Kids (R) will even come to your school--a great opportunity for PTA/PTOs who are looking for activities that will help students foster a love of science, technology, engineering, and math. 

We're really excited about Engineering for Kids® and they've got a great giveaway/meetup scheduled for us!

Join us for a FREE 2-hour LEGO® Robotics workshop! PwcMoms is teaming up with Engineering for Kids® to offer your child the best in fun, challenging, hands-on education.  Children are natural engineers, and we want your child to be part of the experience! "Like" the Engineering for Kids® Facebook page and comment on this post.  When you do, you'll be eligible to win a spot in our free LEGO® Robotics workshop!

Enter using the Rafflecopter widgit below.  There's room for 20 kids in our meetup class, which will be held Thursday, June 20, from 10am-12pm in Southlake.  When you enter, please keep in mind that the appropriate age group is 7-14.  Boys and girls will both enjoy this event! We can't wait to see you there!

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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!

Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) in Prince William County

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Published: 08/07/2012
Are you absolutely at the end of your rope? Are you lonely and tired and overwhelmed by diapers? Honey, you need to get the heck out of your house.  

No, seriously.  Go.

And, honestly, there's no better place to do that than a place where other people understand what you're going through. 

Mothers of Preschoolers, or MoPS is a fantastic organization that exists to support moms through the somewhat overwhelming years of infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool.  Groups have various formats, including daytime with childcare, evenings for working moms, and even groups for teens.  Moms NEXT exists to extend further support to mothers whose children are now elementary aged.  These groups do have a fee associated to cover childcare/supplies/room rentals.  While these groups are housed in churches, you do not have to be a church member or a Christian to belong.  Also, note that most groups will let you come and try a meeting or two before joining. Frequently, scholarships or payment plans are available, too. 

Here are some of our local groups:

MoPS Woodbridge:
First Baptist Church of Woodbridge offers online registration as well as a Facebook group.  They offer 3 traditional MOPS on Friday mornings (1st/3rd or 2nd/4th from 9:30-11:30) with childcare as well as a 2nd and 4th Tuesdays from 7-9pm group without childcare.  Registration is $94 for Fridays and $74 for Tuesdays. 

Lake Ridge Baptist Church offers a group on the third Thursday of each month from 7-9pm. Membership is $53.95, and includes childcare on an as-needed basis. 

Old Bridge UMC offers a group on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month from 7-9pm and the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month from 9:30-11:30 as a playgroup.  Membership is $43.95 and includes childcare if required. 

St. Margaret's Anglican Church has previously offered both MOPS and Moms Next, but is currently sharing worship space with another church.  Check back for updates. 

MOPS Manassas/Bristow Gainesville:
Manassas Baptist Church meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month from 9am-noon.  Registration is $45 and childcare is available. 

Mclean Bible Church Prince Wiliam Campus MOPS meets the 1st and 3rd Friday from 9:30-11:30am.  Registration is $155.  Childcare is provided. 

Manassas Assembly of God hosts a group on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays from 9:30-11:30am, additional information is available by calling 703-368-2895

Gainesville United Methodist Church meets the 1st/3rd Wednesdays from 9:30-11:30am.  Email gummops@gmail.com for additional information.  

Am I missing your MOPS group? Shoot me an email! I'm happy to add you!  Also, if you're a MOPS leader, I am available to come and speak to your group, for free.  Email me for details on the topics I can cover. 

Stampin Up "Creative Escape" Crop

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Published: 08/02/2012

PwcMoms.com reader and Stampin Up Demonstrator Keisha (you can follow her creative exploits here)  has a great end of summer invitation for you!! I love Stampin Up crops, and while I haven't attended one with Keisha personally, check out this example of her past stampers' work!
Be ye not intimidated!! There will be plenty of tools and inspiration to keep you going, or, if you're already crafty on your own, bring your own projects and get out of the house for awhile!! Nothing like not having children tugging at you to increase your productivity!!
You're invited to attend the Creative Escape Crop. 
Saturday August 25, 2012
Save the Date Now! 
Westridge Swim and Racquet Clubhouse
12764 Quarterhorse Lane 
Woodbridge, Virginia 22192
Time:  12:30pm - 11:30pm
Cost:  $45

Bring your own projects to work on, or choose from the many samples we will have plus 2 optional classes that you can take while you are there.
 (optional classes will be announced after August 1)

Get away for a day of crafting, bonding and relaxing.  Whether you prefer to spend your time stamping, scrapbooking, sewing or any other creative pursuit, you will love what I'll have in store for you!
  • Plenty of table space with free wifi
  • Goody bag filled with Stampin' Up! Goodies
  • Little gifts made especially for you throughout the day
  •  Plenty of samples to copy
  • Raffles
  • Punch station, tons of stamp sets, sizzix station, ink station, all of the tools and accessories, and more!
  • Optional classes
  •  Two make-n-takes 
Fun Atmosphere with games and prizes to keep you motivated! 

    2 meals (lunch and dinner)  included!

  Coffee, sodas, tea and snacks throughout the day!
Space is limited to the first 15 people, RSVP now!

Reviews: Potomac Overlook Park

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Published: 07/31/2012
I have mommy brain.  My mommy brain syndrome (MBS) is augmented by my technology dependence syndrome (TDS, or, in my case iTDS).  Example?  We showed up for my daughter's dermatology appointment (a 45 minute drive in traffic because while I love PWC, I'm driving to the bets possible doctor our insurance will semi-pay for) only to sit for 30 minutes before the semi-rude receptionist reminded me that I cancelled this appointment when I made an earlier one for before we left for the beach.

My MBS apparently prevented me from removing that from my iCal, so when my iAlarm went off, iGotIntheCar and iDrove to the appointment.  Hence the iTDS kicker.

Being that I am also spontaneous, and had skipped swim team practice, we opted to iMap our way over to Potomac Overlook Regional Park and check out what it had to offer before doing the same thing back down i66, err, I-66, to head to a library event back down in our neck of the woods.

Potomac Overlook is located at 2845 North Marcey Road, Arlington, Virginia.  It is absolutely gorgeous for hiking, as well as having a beautiful nature center, concerts, a solar-powered outdoor stage, roving naturalists, community gardens, and canoe trips. 

We've been to Potomac Overlook once before, and we enjoyed the well-shaded hiking, especially since with water shoes on we could enjoy keeping our feet cool in the creek/river that flows through the park.  Throwback photo evidence:

Okay, so they didn't like their water shoes.  I admit, I am that horrible parent that lets my children experience the world barefoot whenever they want and my husband isn't yelling.  I don't like shoes, either, so I get it.
 In this picture my kids are 15 months, 3, and 5.  I'm wearing sporting an awesome blue Moby Wrap.  If you don't have a Moby Wrap and you have a baby or are about to have a 2nd (3rd, 4th, 5th) baby, you should stop reading this NOW and go buy one.  I'll wait. No, they're not paying me, either.
I am also that mom that lets her kid swim in the deep pool he finds.  It was warm that day.  He had an amazing time and the water was clear so that you could see straight to the bottom.  I realize this doens't mean it was clean, but it looked like it, so there.

This time, however, we never made it that far since by the time we arrived it was already 108 degrees outside.  Walking from the parking lot to the nature center, we noticed there is a fun hike with signs for each planet placed at representative distances along the path.  They include fun facts like how much a person of a certain weight (I want to say it was 100 pounds) would weigh on each planet.  On your left hand side, you'll also see the solar-powered outdoor theatre as well as an eletctric car filling station.  Trees and rocks along this main path are also labeled for your viewing pleasure. 

By the time we arrived at the nature center, my middle child informed me that he was dying, and I informed him that the nature center is air conditioned, at which point he summoned the will power to go on the three steps to the door.  It was magical.

By the way, now that my kids are 4, 6, and 8, their lives exist soley on my iphone because I'm not good enough to carry a camera, so I hope that you enjoyed the nice, clear pictures above because now we're switching back to my typical low-quality cell phone pictures.

The nature center includes a fun mix of energy saving information along with a living bee colony, live turtles, frogs and snakes, as well as some stuffed local species, skulls, and skeletons and fossils to look at.  The upper level is mostly non-living, although there is a turtle and two snakes, and the lower level is mostly snakes and frogs, along with a children's cave area, which was fun to hang around in for a few minutes even if it wasn't very large.
 The children's area included boards to make your own "cave drawings" sounds of a cave on a phone, and space to sit and read books or play with toys.  It'd be a good place to cool off and calm down on a hot day.
 There's also a lower-level educational room, which was completely devoid of people on the day we went, but looked like it must be used for field trips and scout groups.  There were some fish in the tank as well as stuffed bird and small mammal species. 
Ooooh, something stuffed.  Fun.  My kids love anything about animals, so they thought this nature center was fantastic.  It's definitely small enough that you can do it in a morning and still have time for a hike, even if you read everything in the nature center, but I enjoy that about it.

It was after this picture that my phone died.  It was sad.  So, not pictured are the community garden, Indian-themed circular garden, or the live birds of prey that are a short walk across from the nature center.  These are previously injured owls and hawks that cannot be returned to the wild due to the extent of their inuries, and you do get a very close look at them.  The owls were especially beautiful, and, as a bonus, I found a 4 foot black snake on the trail on the way up! How fantastic!

Fine, I freaked out.  But the boys thought it was amazing.

This is a great local field trip, and we enjoyed both of our visits.  Check out Potomac Overlook Regional Park for your next hike or nature event!

Potomac Overlook Regional Park
Recommended for: Any age, really.  Lots of walking, but getting to/from the nature center is stroller-friendly.  There is a long hill that is not particularly handicap-accessible, I would talk to the park rangers about the possibility of being allowed to drive to the center itself if that's an issue for your.  Older children will enjoy the various themed areas and hiking.

Pros: Free! Lots of different interests addressed.  Live and stuffed animal species, lots of labeled plants and rocks with information on species.

Cons: Nature center is somewhat small, parking is removed from areas of interest.

Guest Post: Leave a Financial Legacy

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Published: 07/17/2012

Leave a Financial Legacy™
Guest Post by: Sherri Gray, Certified Personal Finance Counselor®
In a previous post, I talked about loving your family well by getting a will that includes a medical directive, purchasing adequate life insurance, becoming debt free, and saving for the future.
When I talk about financial legacy though, I’m not only talking about how you handle your money while you’re living but also about what you leave behind when you’re no longer here. 
We should all be leaving assets, property, and money to our heirs, or to those whom we would like to bless financially.
But financial legacy is not just about putting in place the necessary financial tools to love your family well now or just about leaving behind assets to your loved ones. It’s also about what you teach your children and those who look up to you as mentors, about money.
Financial legacy is making decisions about how you use your money so that you and your family are living in financial abundance which overflows into and impacts your community. Then your family and your community will look at your money choices, see the positive impact on your life and theirs, and want to do what you did.
There’s a line in the book ‘A Purpose Driven Life’ that says, and I’m paraphrasing, it’s not about you. That line has stuck with me ever since the first time I read the book about 5 years ago. Because for the longest time, I thought getting my finances in order was only about me.
Now, I always say that my money is not just about me.  It’s also about leaving a financial legacy to my family and giving back to my community. And when your family and community see the rewards of your work, they’ll want to do what you did and they’ll in turn pass on what they’ve learned from you to their families and those they love and so on.
Your family and those you love, especially your children, learn by what you do and not just by what you say. So, always tell them what’s possible financially, show them through what you do, and watch them follow in your footsteps. That’s true financial legacy.
Sherri Gray will conduct a FREE Financial Legacy™ Workshop at Grace Church (17889 Fraley Boulevard, Dumfries, VA 22026), this Saturday, July 21, 2012 from 9 am – 12 pm. Light refreshments will be served. No registration is required.
Find more ways to save money by going to The Money Mom website at www.themoneymom.org  or following The Money Mom Deals Blog at http://themoneymomdeals.blogspot.com/.

Summer Camp- JoAnn Fabrics

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Published: 06/18/2012
JoAnn Fabrics has several great kid-friendly offerings in Prince William County! Our store is in Woodbridge across from Potomac Mills Mall, and I hope that someone signs up for one because making this list out of the separate corporate and store lists took forever.

Here you go, with Woodbridge Location Dates/Times and Corporate Pictures!

Headtime Story
Ages 8 and up make a pillow.  One 3-hour session, $35.  Level 101
Tue, Jun 19 4-7pm
Mon, Jun 25 10am-1pm
Mon, Jul 2 3-6pm
Sat, Jul 14 1-4pm

Sew Sweet Pillow
Ages 5 and up make a pillow.  One 3-hour session, $35.  Level 102

Wed, Jun 27 12-3pm
Mon, Jul 9 10am-1pm
Thu, Jul 26 3-6pm
Fri, Jul 27 10am-1pm

You Rock Smock
Ages 8 and up make an apron with trim and pocket.  One 3-hour session, $35. Level 201

Thu, Jul 12 10am-1pm
Mon, Jul 23 3-6pm
Sat, Jul 28 9:30am-12:30pm

Simply Summer Shorts
Ages 8 and up make elastic waistband shorts.  Two 2-hour sessions, $45
Level 202

Tue, Jul 3 & Tue, Jul 10 4-6pm
Thu, Jul 19 & Thu, Jul 26 10am-12pm

Sew Summer Dress
Ages 8 and up make a dress with hem, pleats, and zipper.  Two 2-hour sessions, $45
Level 301
Sat, June 23 & Sat June 30 1-3pm
Sat, July 21 & Sat July 28 1-3pm

 Summer Treat T-Shirt Kids Quilting 101
Ages 8 and up create and apply an appliqué. One 3-hour session, $35

Tues, June 26 5:30-8:30pm
Thu, June 28 3-6pm
Wed, July 4 2-5pm
Fri, July 27 10am-1pm
Mon, Aug 6 1-4pm
Wed, Aug 15 10am-1pm
Thu, Aug 23 3-6pm

Slumber Mat Kids Quilting 201
Ages 8 and up make a project. Two 2-hour sessions $45
Sat, Jun 23 & Sat, Jun 30 10am-12pmSun, Jul 8 & Sun, Jul 15 1-3pm
Tue, Jul 17 & Tue, Jul 24 6:30-8:30pm


Kids Can Knit! With FREE supplies from Lion Brand Yarn
Ages 8 and up learn basic skills. One 3-hour session $35
Mon, Jul 9 1:30-4:30pm
Thu, Jul 12 1:30-4:30pm
Sat, Aug 11 9:30am-12:30pm

        Mini Book
Ages 8 and up. One 2-hour session $30
Sat, Jun 23 10am-12pm
Wed, Jul 11 11am-1pm
Wed, Jul 18 11am-1pm
Wed, Jul 25 11am-1pm
Tue, Aug 7 11am-1pm
Tue, Aug 14 11am-1pm
Tue, Aug 21 11am-1pm


Pompom Pals
Ages 5 and up. One 2-hour session. $30
Tue, Jun 26 1:30-3:30p
Thu, Jun 28 4-6pm
Wed, Jul 4 10-12pm
Tue, Jul 17 2-4pm
Fri, Jul 27 4-6pm
Mon, Aug 6 10-12pm
Wed, Aug 15 2-4pm
Thu, Aug 23 4-6pm

Cake Decorating and other specialty classes are also available! Yes, for kids! Also, check out the Woodbridge Store's additional offerings by visiting the store. 

Guest Post: Adding Reading to Your Outdoor Play

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Published: 04/25/2012

Happy Tuesday, friends! Ginny from The Writing Well is sharing some tips and tricks for incorporating literacy into your outdoor play now that the weather is getting warmer.  She has several classes coming up this summer to enrich your child's writing- check her website for more details! 

As the days get longer and the weather grows warmer, our thoughts naturally turn to outdoor play.  Enhance your outdoor time with reading and writing activities that make learning fun and natural. 
Detail scavenger hunts
Help your child take notice of the world around her with this “I Spy” activity.  Take a walk outside, visit a favorite park or simply head to the backyard; bring along a notebook and pens.  Ask your children to tell you (or write down) any details they notice: an unusual tree or brightly colored bench are good examples.  Once home, turn your details into clues for a scavenger hunt.  Make clue lists using pictures or words, then head back to the spot for some hunting fun.  
Mixed media
Go beyond finger paint with an activity suited for all ages.  Use shaving cream, play sand, rice or even oatmeal, whatever you have on hand.  Take plastic sheeting, cutting boards or aluminum pans outside; spread the material of your choice on the surface.  Let children use their fingers, sticks or paintbrushes to write or scribble, then take pictures to record the results.  
Natural object letters and shapes
This is a great activity for toddler and preschool “collectors”.  Let your child gather rocks, leaves, sticks, flowers, blades of grass – whatever strikes his fancy – on an outdoor excursion.  Use the objects to form letters, numbers or shapes on the sidewalk or front steps.  Have little ones still learning their letters?  Use sidewalk chalk to draw an outline first.  
“Found object” stories 
Suitable for children Pre-K and up, this activity is a fun, reusable option with different results every time.  Drop objects collected outdoors into an old shoe box.  Pull out one item at a time and place it on the table; continue until you have a row of five or six objects.  Model using the objects as inspiration for a story (is the stick a fairy wand, or perhaps the mast of ancient sailing ship?), then let your child take the lead.  Let younger children dictate; confident writers can pen stories on their own.
Wordless picture stories
Inspired by the work of David Weisner (author of Flotsam), wordless picture stories are great for budding photographers and pre-writers.  Take photos of scenery and objects on your next outing: capture animals, rocks, trees, or even street signs and cars.  Print the images and use them to tell a story in pictures: order them as desired, then staple together or glue into a notebook.  If you’d rather keep the images digital, simply copy and paste them into a document file.  
The key to developing a lifelong appreciation for literacy is integration.  Make it a part of your family’s everyday life inside and out, and your child’s interest in reading and writing will become as natural as the springtime sunshine.  

Ginny Kochis is owner of The Writing Well, a tutoring and homeschool consulting business based in southern Springfield.  State certified and the mother of two young children, Ginny is dedicated to providing Northern Virginia families with engaging learning experiences in reading and writing.  Services include individual and group tutoring, classes and workshops, and homeschool assistance.  Join The Writing Well this summer for week-long workshops in study skills and writing.  Visit Ginny’s website, http://www.thewritingwellonline.com for more information or contact her at thewritingwell@earthlink.net or 703-909-7425.

Join The Writing Well this summer for two valuable four-day workshops.  The Study Skills workshop helps students discover how they learn, then teaches skills to foster successful study habits.  Students will learn to how to read with a purpose, take effective notes, get organized, manage their time well, and more.  The writing workshop gives students the opportunity to read, write and share a variety of pieces across all genres - both fiction and nonfiction. Topics include effective brainstorming and planning, building and defending strong arguments, creating solid characters and plots, and revising creatively.  Workshops are $80 for four days of instruction and are Monday through Thursday from 10 AM to noon.  Workshops sessions begin July 9 and end August 2; two sessions are available for each workshop.  Contact Ginny at 703-909-7425, thewriitngwell@earthlink.net or http://www.thewritingwellonline.com.

Guest Post: Photography for Moms

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Published: 04/10/2012

Photography Tips for Moms from Nadine of Fotos By Nadine

Hey there, lovely! I have a great little post for you here.
As busy as we are as moms we always want to make sure to snap cute shots of out little ones in between cleaning, cooking, and other fun things. Making memories and making sure to capture them is one of the most important parts of being a mom! I am going to help you to make this even better.
I took some time to come up with this blogpost for you, my awesome PWC Moms readers, to improve your skills of taking pictures of your precious little stars! (Hang tight, there is a little extra for you at the end of this article)

First things first: You do not need a fancy shmancy camera to take some nice pictures of your kids.
Of course I do use a high end DSLR for my business but in private my iphone is my most frequently used camera for the everyday stuff. What really matters when it comes to the everyday super-duper-awesome snapshots are other things (like composition and light). Of course if you have one....awesome!!! (In case you need a little help figuring out how to use it best, read to the end of this post and find out how you can get there)

Simple simple is the secret
Easy Peasy....simplify your image! It is the most important and easiest rule to follow to improve your images: take distracting things out of the frame when you take your picture. That trash can right next to your kids stroller at the ice cream stand just does not scream ‘awesome picture’ - all you have to do is move a couple of feet to the right or left to eliminate it from your shot - done! Of course all this can be done in post processing of an image by cropping it, but let’s be honest: who has the time to do that with those tons of images you take everyday? I sure don’t so I make sure to eliminate those things from the get-go!

Hocus Focus!
Try focusing on the face and eyes of your subject! Nothing is less appealing than a well composed image with blurry face and eyes. It is always the first thing that you will look at in a picture so it needs to be sharp. To achieve this, make sure to push the shutter release button on your camera half way first while pointing at the subject’s face and then - once focusing has occurred - push it all the way.

Don’t wait for the right moment...
....because you might miss it. But when you take 7 or 8 pictures in a row of the same moment, you have a great chance of capturing that beautiful smile that you wanted!! The beauty of having that awesome digital camera is not only to see the picture instantly, but also to be able to delete all those goofy and quirky shots later on the computer! (save some precious space there too, dear!!)

Light is the key
I don’t like bright and sunny days! (What????) Sounds crazy? I agree - and really - I only meant this from my photographer point of view :) Bright sunshine can make people blink when they are forced to look directly at it and it can draw some harsh shadows on their faces. None of which is very flattering in an image. Solution? Place people facing away from the sun (you will now be the one looking directly at it, but you are not in the pic so who cares LOL) and take them to what we call ‘open shade’. Under a tree, in front of a wall or otherwise shielded from direct sunlight. You will see a huge difference in the image quality.

Compose your images right to make them pop! Pleasing to the eye....what does that mean? We do not like when arms or legs are cut off...so when you take a ‘full body shot’, be sure to include the full body!! When taking a close up portrait make sure to have the full face in the frame and so on. When taking pictures of children, squat down to eye level with the child as opposed to ‘look down’ at them. And one more easy, but effective tip (my last one for today) is to shift the camera slightly when taking a picture so that your subject will be a little off centered (left or right). Try it and be wowed!

About Nadine:
I am Nadine. I am a photographer! I am passionate about everything I do, I am spontaneous and definitely never boring.
Together with my husband I created ‘Fotos by Nadine’, a high end lifestyle photography business. My passion for photography came from wanting to take the best pictures possible of my babies.
I love paying attention to detail when it comes to my photographs and I love capturing the special moments of a family, a milestone in a child’s life or a breathtaking portrait just because...you can follow my work at www.fotos-by-nadine.com.

If you liked my collection of photography tips, take it to the next level with my ‘Sweet Captures’ Workshop for Moms. If you have a DSLR and want to get out of shooting only in ‘Auto’ mode then this is right for you. Held in August at Confections Cupcakery. Find all the details and sign up information here.

Cooking with Bloggers at Alice and Louise Cooking School

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Published: 03/28/2012
Being a blogger is not fun when your space bar isn't working.  Being a blogger IS fun when you get to hang out with other bloggers at Alice and Louise, however! 

Last week, I was able to go check out Alice and Louise with a group of Northern Virginia Bloggers for a fun networking event put together by Andrea from Real Housewives of Northern Virginia.  Alice and Louise, in addition to doing catering, also hosts cooking classes for everyone from children through adults, and will do corporate events or private parties.  (Interested in doing one? Email me! If we can get a group of 8 together I'll book it!) They can work around your price range and interests, and, bonus, you can BYOM (bring your own Merlot).  

 Mother Earth Meals was also on hand to share some great cooking inspired by battling cancer and increasing your health using food.  Simply Desserts was also there with some delicious cheesecake tips.  By the way, did you know that it's Lent? Everything smelled delicious and got gobbled up, but I just watched.  Le sigh. (Okay, really I've been trying to pinpoint a few tummy issues and keep giving up different things to try to figure it out, but Lent is a much faster explanation)
 Group shot!  These ladies are a lot of fun! They didn't even make fun of the fact that I brought my own beverage (it was lemonade made with stevia) in a Patriots cup.  Rocking :)
Pictured (In No Particular Order):
Paper Placemats
Mom Machine
Caffeine and a Prayer
Creekside Learning
Real Housewives of Northern Virginia
Beltway Bargain Mom

Stroller Strides

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Published: 03/13/2012
Working out after baby is tough.   You're tired, you've got a new baby that you don't necessarily want to leave with the stressed out lady in your gym childcare room, let alone expose them to the germs from the other 50 kids in there while Mommy works out....

But yet, you also want to wear non-maternity clothes and get out of the house.

Enter: Stroller Strides

Stroller Strides is a fitness program designed for moms to do with their babies. It includes cardio, intervals of toning, songs for your baby and more.  What fun!  Our local Stroller Strides franchise is run by Angela Grevert, who is very fun and excited about what she does!

Right now, Stroller Strides meets at Potomac Mills Mall from 9am-10am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning.  They're also opening a new class at Manassas Mall THIS WEDNESDAY, March 14th from 9:30am-10:30am, meeting at the entrance to Sears.  They'll also be starting outdoor classes soon at Signal Hill Park (Manassas) and Anne Moncure Wall Park (Dumfries/Montclair).  On a day like this one, an outdoor class sounds like just the ticket!!  

Angela offers a "First Week Free" program so that you can see how Stroller Strides works with you and your baby.  She's also offering a special promotion for anyone who registers and mentions PwcMoms!  Name drop our website, and your registration fee will be $25 (a savings of $50).  

To sign up for a trial class, give Angela a call!! Again, your first week is free, and this is a great way to get back in shape (or stay in shape), meet other moms, and have fun!  Don't worry about your baby crying, either- there's no better group of understanding people than other new mommas!!

Angela Grevert
Stroller Strides Woodbridge/Manassas

Guest Post: Slash Your Budget with the Internet

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Published: 03/07/2012

Welcome to this week's guest poster!! Sherri Gray, aka "The Money Mom", is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor Candidate.  In this post, she'll introduce herself and some of her money-saving internet strategies.  Sherri, who is a PWC resident, also hosts a weekly web-based radio show, which you can find on the PwcMoms calendar, or in the links at the end of this post.

I’m The Money Mom, a financial coach, who works with individuals and families nationwide, taking you from where you are to where you need to be financially. I use Biblical principles to teach you how to budget, get out of debt, and save for the future. And I do it all with a mom’s touch, not telling you what you want to hear but telling you what you need to hear because I genuinely care about the people I work with and want to see them succeed.
One of the financial areas that many people struggle with is their budget. It’s so easy for us to swipe our debit card, credit card, or write a check without having a realistic system for tracking our purchases. John Maxell said that a budget is simply telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. Raise your hand if you’ve ever reached the end of the month and wondered where all of your money went. I see those hands. Don’t feel bad. Mine is raised, too. 
But I knew there had to be a way to slash my family’s budget without sacrificing the quality products that my family had become accustomed to. I found a way to do just that through the internet. The internet is a great resource and has a plethora of discounts and coupons to help my family save money. Now the days of my family spending more money than we have, and using credit cards to make up the difference, are behind us.  
I’ve saved money on food items by purchasing some from retail stores, like Target, as an alternative to my grocery store. I recently purchased 2 Dannon Activia yogurts (4-pack) for absolutely nothing. The yogurt was on sale for $2 each. I then used a $2/2 Target internet coupon (http://coupons.target.com/) and stacked it with 2-$1/1 manufacturer internet coupons (www.coupons.com), which made them both free. 
Please keep in mind that most internet coupon websites are designed so that you can only print 2 identical manufacturer internet coupons per computer. I’ve also purchased other name brand items for free or cheap, using store and manufacturer internet coupons, including cereal, milk, condiments, margarine, peanut butter, snack bars, gum, lip balm, deodorant, toothpaste, paper towels, pain relievers, air fresheners, mouthwash, dental floss, toothbrushes, soap, sanitizer, and dish detergent.
But the internet doesn’t just stop at couponing deals. It also has a vast array of clothing and shoe deals. Private seller websites like www.amazon.com also have discounts and close out sales on so many things like snacks, electronics, DVD’s, and even diapers. Overstock websites like www.zulilly.com and www.6pm.com, can offer discounts on name brand clothes and shoes at a fraction of the department store prices. Keep a look out for end of the season sales at retail websites as well. I recently purchased a Rothschild coat, including a hat and scarf to match, for my school age daughter, for $23 (including shipping), a 75% savings, directly from the Rothschild website, using a coupon code that I found on an internet blog.
Internet blogs are another great source for finding online coupons and deals. Internet bloggers do all of the legwork and you reap the benefits. I’m an avid couponer now and have my own internet blog as well (http://themoneymomdeals.blogspot.com/). Now, I can’t imagine life without internet coupons and website deals. 
If you’ve never researched internet deals, my recommendation would be to start small. Think of an item that you purchase regularly from the grocery store, retail store, or department store and do a search to see if there’s a way to get that item cheaper using the internet. I guarantee you that once you see the discounted price versus what you usually pay for that item, you’ll wonder why you ever paid full price for it. In fact, I saved over $2,400 last year using internet deals in combination with newspaper coupons. So, take full advantage of the internet and use it as a tool to slash your family’s budget. Your family and your wallet will thank you.  

If you want to learn more about spending less and using coupons, Sherri is hosting a workshop called ‘The Secrets to Spending Less Workshop’ on March 24 from 6 pm – 7 pm. For more information about registering for this event, go to www.themoneymom.org (a call in number will be provided to those who want to attend remotely).

Giveaway/Review: Mamas Link

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Published: 02/21/2012

This week's giveaway comes from Mamas Link!  Since I don't have an infant, Mamas Link provided their own explanation of their program.  If you've ever participated, we'd love to include your review/thoughts! Shoot us an email, and let us know what you thought/think!

Mamas Link 
A Social and Educational Community of Moms and Moms-to-be!
I love being a mom. When I became a mom for the first time in April 2009, I was lucky to make a network of friends all going through similar experiences.  It was amazing to have a support network to share the joys and fears of motherhood with.  Many of my friends who experienced motherhood without that type of support network felt lonely and isolated and struggled with their identity as they transitioned into parenthood.  I came to realize how imperative it was to have a strong community of friends, it can be lifesaving.  After my maternity leave ended, I left my teaching job in MCPS and found a perfect way to marry my interest of education, my love for parenthood and my desire to connect with others.  I created Mamas Link, a program that connects moms and moms-to-be and gives them unique learning opportunities and fun ways to bond with other moms and their babies.
Mamas Link features the popular mommy and me class called “The Six Week Hook Up”, formerly called Onesies DC; Mamas-to-be events; special events and seminars; a nanny posting; blog; and additional mommy resources.  Classes are held in NoVa, MD and DC.
The popular “Six Week Hook-up” mommy and me class is a program featuring weekly activities (a six week session) including talks by local experts, lunches, a chance to create keepsakes, and what’s more, an opportunity to connect with other moms of infants.  Activities and workshops in the lineup may include mother-baby fitness, music, yoga, infant massage, photography services, lactation consulting, CPR instruction, nutrition counseling and much more.
Mamas Link special event topics run the gamut from breastfeeding and finding a nanny to introducing baby food.  Some upcoming events include a seminar about healthy sleep, baby food 101, expert training in breastfeeding and newborn care and CPR training. Events are held at various venues, may include up to 100 attendees, include delicious food and gifts galore.  Attendees leave with swag bags and raffle prizes from local and national sponsors.  Mamas Link helps women learn the latest in parenting, introduces them to the best and hottest products and gives them an opportunity to connect with other women to form lasting friendships.
For more information about the site, classes or to learn about hosting an event or becoming a Mamas Link sponsor, visit www.mamaslink.com.  Become a Facebook Fan to be the first to know about events, coupons, contests, view recent photos of events and more: www.facebook.com/mamaslink.

Looking to connect with other moms and learn about different resources for you and your baby in Northern Virgina?  Enter to win half off the popular Mamas Link "Six Week Hook Up" class which includes six weeks of mommy and me classes and meetings with local experts.  Learn, have fun and create friendships to last a lifetime! (for current schedule, go to: http://mamaslink.com/schedule.php?location=DCMetro#page=page-1c). 

Email PwcMoms to enter!! Also- leave a comment if you'd be interested in a Six Week Hookup for PWC! 

Disclosure: This post was provided from Mamas Link.  PwcMoms has not participated in a Mamas Link series.  In return for this post, Mamas Link is providing a giveaway item for a PwcMoms reader.  
daytime playtime - a fun place to Learn.... a great place to Grow A Play Gym Designed for Parents and Children Aged 10 Months to 4 1/2 Years... Elite Maid Squad