Giveaway: Girls on the Run 5K

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Published: 10/30/2014
Girls on the Run of Northern Virginia has an upcoming PWC Race! (Plus their colors are fantastic!)

Pfitzner (Potomac Nationals) Stadium
Woodbridge, VA
Saturday November 22, 2014
8:30am Race Start 

Runners of All Ages and Abilities are Welcome
5K shirts for all registered participants. 
Medals for all race finishers.

Come run, walk, skip, or roll across the finish line with us and support 2,000 girls in Northern Virginia as they achieve their goal to complete a 5K.  It's all about setting a personal goal and doing our best to achieve it! 

Want to join the fun? Enter to win Free race entry for you and your running buddy, plus a swag bag of Girls on the Run branded merchandise! Can't wait to win? Register online HERE. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As always, our giveaways are provided by the sponsor and governed by our giveaway rules, which you agree to by virtue of entering to win. 

FREE Family Events at Freedom!

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Published: 10/18/2014

Featured Organization Friday: Virginia Service Conservation Corps

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Published: 09/26/2014
Date: Sept. 15, 2014
Applicants needed for new service program in Virginia State Parks
(RICHMOND) — Applications are being accepted for the inaugural season of the Virginia Service and Conservation Corps. Created by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service, and inspired by the conservation ethic of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, VSCC participants will help to preserve and protect public lands in Virginia.
VSCC projects include trail construction and maintenance, invasive species control and prescribed burn projects that re-establish historic, fire-adapted ecosystems on parklands. Crewmembers may also have short-term deployments for disaster relief in affected communities.
Crew members will complete 1,700 hours of service during a 10-month term from November 2014 through August 2015.
Participants receive a taxable, monthly living allowance of $1,210, student loan forbearance and health care if needed. VSCC membership provides hands-on training and formal education opportunities, as well as eligibility for the Segal Education Award of $5,645 upon successful completion of the term of service. The education award may be used to pay educational costs at eligible post-secondary institutions, including many technical schools and GI-Bill approved educational programs, as well as to repay qualified student loans.
Applicants must be US citizens and 17 or older, possess a high school diploma or equivalent, and pass a comprehensive background check. The deadline is Nov. 17, but applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. This is a non-residential program; housing is not provided. Members must be capable of reporting daily to their base park at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge or Hungry Mother State Park in Marion.
Mandatory training for selected members will be held at Twin Lakes State Park Nov. 19-23, 2014.
Based upon the award-winning success of Virginia State Parks’ Youth Conservation Corps, which received the Department of Interior’s “Take Pride In America” Best Youth Volunteer Program award in 2010, the VSCC will address veteran and young-adult unemployment rates, environmental decline, the public’s growing disconnect with nature and the catastrophic effect of natural disasters in communities across Virginia.
VSCC crews will develop leadership qualities while the VSCC will develop a new generation of skilled workers, educated citizens, and active stewards of America’s natural and cultural resources.
To apply, visit apply online here. For more information, email or call 804-625-3984.
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation manages Virginia State Parks, which offer dozens of festivals and concerts and thousands of educational programs across the state.
For more information about state park activities and amenities, or to make reservations in one of the 25 parks with camping facilities or 18 parks with cabins or family lodges, call the Virginia State Parks Customer Care Center at 800-933-7275 or visit
# # #
Jim Meisner, Jr.
Public Relations Specialist
Va. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation
600 E. Main St., 16th Floor
Richmond, VA  23219

(804) 786-8442                        Fax (804) 371-2072

Anniversary of the Potomac Blockade 2014 Living History

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Published: 09/20/2014

Join Leesylvania State Park for a Living History with a civil war encampment with costumed historians to learn about the soldiers' lives.  Cannon Firing will occur on the hour between 11am and 4pm, Musket Firing will take place at the visitor's center, and you can sample and purchase Civil War Era foods.  September 27 and 28 from 11am-4pm each day. 

Seed Stomp Volunteers Wanted!

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Published: 09/12/2014
Join Leesylvania State Park on October 4th from 11am-1pm at the Lee's Woods Trailhead to help establish a field of wildflowers while having fun at the same time! Questions, call 703-583-6904 or email

Engineering for Kids STEM Discovery Center Grand Opening!

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Published: 06/10/2014
We've worked with Engineering for Kids before on some of their awesome STEM programs for children, and now they're going to have their own STEM Discovery Center! Join them this Saturday, June 14th from 9am-1pm, with a ribbon cutting at 10am, to tour the new space and enter some great giveaways! This is also a fantastic time to register for camps, classes, and parties!! For more information visit

Join Engineering For Kids as we celebrate the grand opening of our brand new S.T.E.M. Discovery Center in Lakeridge, VA. All parents and children are invited to join us along side Congressman Rob Wittman and other local officials to cut the ceremonial ribbon and check out all the new activities we have to offer. 

Children will be able to participate in a variety of hands on activities at different stations in the center. Parents will be able to socialize and learn more about our new program offerings.

Date: Saturday, June 14th
Time: 9:00am - 1:00pm (ribbon cutting at 10:00am)
Location: 1243 Dillingham Square. Lakeridge, VA 22192

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Engineering for Kids. 

My Link Teen Bus Pass Summer 2014

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Published: 06/06/2014

Teens ages 13-19 may use MyLink on OmniLink and Cross County Connector buses between 

Monday, June 2 and Saturday, August 30, 2014.  The pass costs $30, and in return teens get an

 unlimited number of local bus rides for the entire summer!  With the cost of a regular one-way bus 

ride currently at $1.30, a teen who takes at least 12 round-trips during the summer will save money

 by riding with a MyLink pass.  Passes will be sold at multiple locations from June 2 – August 1,


Getting three months of unlimited bus rides for $30 is a bargain, but teens can save even more when 

they showing their MyLink pass at these attractions:

– Potomac Nationals, Pfitzner Stadium, Woodbridge –$1 off general admission at Friday home 


– Prince William Ice Center, 5180 Dale Boulevard, Woodbridge –$2 off public skate entry;

– Bowl America, 13409 Occoquan Road, Woodbridge and 9000 Mathis Avenue, Manassas – one free 

game per visit, per day;

– Manassas 4 Cinemas, 8890 Mathis Avenue, Manassas – $1 off admission on Fridays, Saturdays and


– Stonewall Pool, 8531 Stonewall Road, Manassas – $1 off admission.

With MyLink, teens won’t need to borrow the family car or beg for gas money to get around town.

  MyLink enables teens to have a safe, reliable ride to get to summer jobs, shopping centers, 

recreation centers, libraries and lots of other places where they want to go.

For the convenience of teens and their parents, passes will be sold June 2 – August 1 at:

– The PRTC Transit Center, at the intersection of Potomac Mills Road and Telegraph Road in 

Woodbridge, Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

– Chinn Aquatics and Fitness Center (cash or credit only), Monday – Thursday 5 a.m. – 9 p.m.; 

Friday 5 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

– Sharron Baucom – Dale City Recreation Center (cash or credit only), Monday – Friday 6 a.m. – 9 

p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

– Ben Lomond Community Center (cash or credit only), Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

– Manassas City Hall Treasurer’s Office (cash only), Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

– Manassas Park City Hall Treasurer’s Office (cash only), Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. 

and 3-5 p.m.

Teens who have a photo ID should bring it with them when purchasing a MyLink pass because a 

sticker will be applied to the front of their ID.  Teens who don’t have a photo ID will be given a

 MyLink card with a sticker.  Teens simply show their ID or MyLink card to the bus operator each

 time they board.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, PRTC, provides transportation services

 in Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.  OmniLink local buses 

serve routes in Manassas and Manassas Park on Mondays through Fridays and serve routes in Dale

 City, Dumfries, Lake Ridge, Quantico, the Route 1 Corridor and Woodbridge on Mondays through

 Saturdays.  The Cross County Connector operates Mondays through Fridays and connects eastern

 Prince William County with the Manassas area.

MyLink is one of three PRTC programs designed to educate youth about public transportation.

  PRTC also offers a preschool and elementary program focusing on bus safety, and a middle school 

program that shows how public transportation helps to preserve our environment and natural


For more information about MyLink or any of PRTC’s transportation services, contact 

Customer Service at (703) 730-6664 or visit

Host a Student with USA Connections

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Published: 04/08/2014
USA Connection is an exchange program that is currently looking for host families (who are compensated!) who would like to have a student from Spain join their family for a few weeks this summer.  Interested? Here are some details! 

1) Tell me a little about your organization and how you got involved

We have always enjoyed intercultural experiences, since we  ourselves are an international couple, and we have traveled, lived in different countries, and speak different languages. Last year, for the first time, we decided to extend that experience to others by inviting a carefully selected group of Basque teens to stay with American families during the month of July.  It was a great experience for everyone.  After last year's great experience, we were really motivated to do it again!

2) What's one of your favorite exchange stories from students?
One of our more conscientious students forgot to change the timezone on his cellphone alarm. So, on his first night with his host family he went to bed at a relatively normal time only to get up, shower and go down to have breakfast at 1:00 a.m. all the while wondering how American's could sleep so late on a week day!

Another was at a 4th of July pool party, and was the only one to notice when a toddler fell into the pool. He quickly jumped in to pull the toddler out.

3) What's one of your favorite exchange stories from a family?
One of the families from the Lake Ridge area enjoyed the experience of having one of our youth so much that they want to host the same student again! They've kept in touch all year and are even planning on being the first family to do a full exchange with our program by sending their daughter to Spain to stay for 3 weeks with their host student's family.

4) What's involved in hosting a student?
Nothing special, really. We do ask that our student have a private bedroom and that Spanish not be the primary language of the host family. Other than that, they should do their own laundry, help with basic chores and go where your family goes.

If your family goes to church, take them to church. If one of your children has a softball game, take them to the game. The only "extra" thing would be to drop them off at the pickup point for our 2 day trips and when we take them to summer camp- and pick them back up, of course!

The families, in general, aren't expected to pay the students way. They travel with their own pocket money. They also travel with full medical and liability insurance in the case of any mishaps.

Having a teen in the family is preferable, but not necessary. Children that they can interact with is a requirement though.

5) Where do students come from? What do they like to do?
Our students come, primarily, from the Basque Country, a small nation between Spain and France. Most of the Basque live on the Spanish side of the border.  Because of the Basque Country's unique situation, most of our students are trilingual, with Spanish, Basque and English. A few speak French as well.

Our students are very similar to kids in the US. The boys like soccer and video games. Many of them surf if they live near the coast. The girls tend to be athletic as well, playing soccer and field hockey. Basketball is also very popular. It's common to see groups of teens hanging out on a park bench talking and playing with their cellphones just like kids in the U.S. In the summer, they tend to spend the day at the beach.

6) What kind of support is offered to host families?
We try to be as supportive as possible. We travel with the kids from Bilbao to Paris and on to Dulles and help make sure they arrive with their host families safely. We stay in the area for the entire trip, so we're available any time to help out with any issues, like homesickness or illness, that might come up. We give families basic instructions on what is expected of them while hosting one of our students, as well as a list of appropriate activities that they might want to consider. We also invite family members to come on day trips that we organize and the going away party.

We also offer a stipend to the families to cover the cost of having an extra person in the house.


This is a sponsored post brought to you by USA Connections.  PwcMoms has not participated in the program and makes no explicit or implied claims about your family's experience.

US Science and Engineering Festival 2014!

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

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. 

Featured Organization Friday: Wreaths Across America

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Published: 12/20/2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hylton Planetarium

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Published: 12/13/2013
While the Hylton Planetarium isn't my typical Friday non-profit/charity, they do only operate based on community involvement and attendance.  New shows run between $10,000 and $20,000 a pop, and that money comes from groups coming in.  We had an awesome time, so I'm sharing today :) If you have a child who attends PWCS, they'll benefit from the awesome planetarium at some point, too! 

We had the chance to take a field trip to the Irene V.Hylton Planetarium at Hylton High School this past week, and it was so much fun!

As part of our memory work curriculum, we are learning astronomy facts this year.  My kids have memorized the parts of the sun, the planets, types of stars, phases of the moon, types of other objects in our solar system, and the names of US space missions.  Our group decided to do the Planetarium as our culminating trip, although I know another group did it as their introduction. 

The planetarium offers several different programs that homeschool groups, moms groups, retirement communities, girl scout/boy scout troops, or just a bunch of people who are super into astronomy can choose from.  We selected a program for grades 3-7 called “Earth, Moon, Sun”, which could have probably included a little more technical information for our group of kids, but they absolutely loved everything about it, especially the coyote “scientist” who kept blundering things up.  They spent a lot of time laughing and definitely liked the presentation of the material in such a 360 format.  I enjoyed the fact that they wove in some mythology and talked about how much our understanding has changed over the years.  I thought it was very well done.

Other programs are available for various age groups.  When you email the director, Anthony Kilgore, to set up your program, he can help you select for your group. 

As for details, you’ll need a minimum of 30 people, and the facility can accommodate a maximum of 60.  Shows are $10 per person, and for groups they ask that you give one cash payment or write one check.

The show was really fun.  The program isn’t anything like I remember- when I was little and you went to the planetarium, there was a giant “ball” that projected stars onto the ceiling and then the attendant would point things out with a red laser pointer.  Now, the presentations are more like movies projected on a dome, but they’re still very cool and the kids like the presentation of the material in such a fun format.

At the end of our program, the director Mr. Kilgore, who is fun and engaging with students, took our extra time to show us one song from his current holiday laser program which was amazing.  First, he explained to us that there are only three lasers in the planetarium, a red, a green, and a blue.  However, using a complex series of mirrors, he’s able to turn those three lasers into an incredible show of light coordinated to music.  The kids were in absolute awe, and I thought they  might absolutely lose their minds when at the end of the song it started “snowing” in the planetarium. 

If you’d like to catch a laser show, there are public performances each week during December:
Friday, December 6th/13th/20th 2013
6:00pm - Laser Holidays
7:30pm - Star of Bethlehem
9:00pm - Laser Holidays

You can purchase tickets at the planetarium Monday-Friday 7:30am-4pm, or in person if there are seats left the night of the show.  Bring $10 per person, exact change, and be sure to arrive 10 minutes prior to showtime and use the restroom before you go in! Once the doors lock, you can’t get in, although you can leave- but that means if you walk out to use the restroom, you’re not going to see the rest of the show, so prepare accordingly!

We really enjoyed our field trip, and it would be an awesome way to earn an astronomy badge, or to enjoy a fun trip for any group (did I mention that we took a group of kids to the planetarium for my oldest son’s 7thbirthday? We did.  And we schlepped all the way to the David Brown Planetarium in Arlington(!) and it wasn’t nearly as nice as Hylton’s, which is right in our backyard.  I don’t remember what made us have to go to Brown, I think Hylton was already booked the night we needed to do his birthday party, but just for comparison’s sake, Hylton has a nicer interior and equipment, as far as I can tell!

For more information about the Hylton Planetarium, or to book your group or event, please contact Director Anthony Kilgore, via email or at 703-580-4000. 

Someone pointed out that I forgot my funny disclaimer!! My bad!!  I was not compensated or remunerated in any way for this post.  I didn't snag a discount for being awesome, either, although that's never happened so I'm not sure why it would start now.  All opinions are my own based on our experience. Your experiences may vary, and PwcMoms is not responsible for your kids trying to turn your basement into a laser show, or the crick in your neck from looking up at the show for an hour.  Try stretching first.

High School Parents' Summit 2014

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Published: 12/13/2013

Attention Parents: You're invited to a High School Parent Summit at Hylton High School on Saturday, January 11 from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. The program offers expert presentations on graduation requirements, earning college credit through tests, financial aid and scholarships, college admissions and programs, SAT/ACT information, career and workforce information, trade and technical options, and much more. Attendance is free, but space is limited.  

Register ONLINE to ensure a space. 

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. 

Try Hockey Free at PWICE!

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Published: 10/05/2013
We love hockey in our family, and Prince William Ice Center wants to invite your child to try hockey FREE on November 2, 2013 from 2-3:30pm! Register online anytime for this program.

Savings at Animated Child

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Published: 10/01/2013
Our sponsor, Animated Child, is offering readers a free class! If you enroll at your free class, you'll also save $80 on your membership! Classes include art, languages, and more!

Kings Dominion's "Planet Spooky"

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Published: 10/01/2013

Inside Planet Snoopy- Super Cute Fall Decor!

We were so excited to visit Kings Dominion in Doswell this past weekend.  It's roughly an hour's drive, which I consider to be more than do-able for a day of fun!   Kings Dominion is obviously open all summer as a great way to spend some of your vacation days, but they are also open fall weekends with a Halloween theme.  Planet Spooky activities and Trick-or-Treat with the Dinosaurs in Dinosaurs Alive! are open Saturdays and Sundays Sept. 28 - Oct. 27 from 12pm - 5pm. 

On Saturdays, the park actually opens at 10:30, and we arrived around that time.  While we waited for Planet Snoopy to open, we took our kids to some of the larger sections and enjoyed absolutely no lines.  Once the park got a little more crowded, there were still barely any wait times.  I think the longest line we were in was 20 minutes.  Most rides the kids got right on or waited one cycle for their turn. It was incredibly quick. 

Top of the Eiffel Tower

We spent much of the day in the newly reopened, larger children's section called "Planet Snoopy", or, as it's known for fall "Planet Spooky".  With 18 rides designed with kids in mind, as well as a host of family-friendly rides throughout the park, most of your kiddos will be able to have a great day on the rides.  What I discovered when we went, though, is that they've got numerous family-friendly accommodations, including a "Snoopy Family Care Center" and even a "parent switcher" option you can find out more about in guest services so that families with one child who can ride and one who can't, such as an elementary schooler and an infant, don't have to have one parent miss out on all the fun!
Inside the "People Washer"

You should know that the park also features a "Halloween Haunt" which is for ages 13 and up.  If you stay at the park past 7pm, you will likely have a zombie pop out at you.  If you're cool with that, then enjoy but since I am a giant fraidy cat, we left by 6:30.  There are some decorations that remain out during the daytime at the front entrance and in some of the other sections of the park.  They are fairly tame, and similar to things that you would see out at your local craft or Halloween store during this season, but I know that some children are very sensitive to that.
She's actually commenting that she wants to climb that...she's not scared of anything.  Ever.

Once you're inside the park and into the Planet Snoopy section, you won't see anything but pumpkins and scarecrows- or Lucy dressed up as a witch...but she's pretty cute :) Snoopy is on hand, of course, too!

Several of the attractions in Planet Snoopy are designated as trick or treat stops, and when the children complete an activity, they're given a non-candy treat.  In addition to the regular rides, there were attractions such as a petting zoo, "people washer", pumpkin decorating, and hay maze.  Peanuts characters also come out both to meet with kids for photo ops, and to perform at regularly scheduled intervals.
Pumpkin Decorating! 
Linus and the Gang host a Sing-a-Long

Also open, for a small additional fee, is Trick or Treat at Dinosaurs Alive! which features a six acre animatronic tour of 36 life-sized dinosaurs from various eras. There's also a sand pit where children can dig for fossils (our day there was a "paleontologist" in costume).  During Trick or Treat, there are several stations with candy that visitors can stop at, and non-candy treats are available, as well as an allergy list.  I believe we stopped at eight stations along the route.  The dinosaurs make noise, and move, and some are even Redskins fans.
Candyvores.  Yesss.

We had a great time enjoying a fall day at Kings Dominion's Planet Spooky.  It's especially nice for our family now, because the rest of the park is open, affording my 5 year old the chance to enjoy all the great Planet Snoopy rides, and my almost 10 year old the option of some awesome roller coasters.  Everyone was able to ride something they loved, and the weather is so pleasant right now that it was an awesome day outside.

To purchase tickets, visit the Kings Dominion Website or purchase at the gate.

Disclosure: Our PwcMoms team (aka, "my family") was provided with free admission in order to do a park review.  We were also provided admission to Trick or Treat at Dinosaurs alive.  People who have had extensive brain and neck surgery shouldn't really ride much, but that was okay with me, because my kiddos had a blast! All opinions are my own, including those about Zombies being scary and me being a pansy when it comes to grown-up Halloween.  

Business Review: Monkey Joe's

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Published: 08/06/2013
Not actually in PWC, Monkey Joe's Dulles Location would be a good fit for our Manassas-side mommas.  I had guest writer attend their grand opening celebration for me to check it out.  You should prepare yourselves for what you're about to see, because her kids are stinkin' adorable.  So. Very. Cute.

Monkey Joe's has your indoor bounce-house stuff, slides, obstacle courses, etc. 

That is one happy kid.  Love it! 

 Monkey Joe's also has some arcade-style games available for the kids to play when they're not bouncing around. 
Our Writer-Mom liked that 
*everything was in one room, which allowed for easy visibility of your kids
*there were tables and chairs so moms could have coffee/sit and chat with a friend 
*the arcade in the front was nice
*the staff was friendly and helpful, so parents didn't have to be all over the inflatables with their kids
*they had smaller inflatables specifically for smaller kids so they won't get run over (she's had this problem at Kids N Motion)
*there was a cute toddler zone, although her kids were too big

Open Bounce is $9.99, which is on the pricey side for a bounce house, but it sounds like the kiddos from our guest writer had a great time. The facility also offers parties, too.  

Check out Monkey Joe's Dulles on Facebook, too, for more pictures of their new place! 

Disclosure: Our writer attended for free at the Grand Opening, but all opinions are her own. 

Guest Post: Helping Children Sleep After a New Baby

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Published: 06/10/2013

I just had a baby and now my older child won’t sleep – Help!!

You knew you would lose sleep with a newborn, but you may not have been expecting your older child to suddenly need your attention in the middle of the night.  This is however a problem I see quite often, especially if at one time your older child did have some sleep difficulties.

What is going on?

If your child previously slept with you or in your room, they may not understand why the brand new baby is now getting to sleep in your room.  After all, you may have told them that your room is just for Mommy and Daddy if you were transitioning them out of it.  They may start waking in the middle of the night trying to get in bed with you, or may start giving you a hard time about going to sleep at bedtime.  Even if your child did not sleep with you, just the change of having a new brother or sister may cause them a slight amount of stress, which could affect their sleep.  All the changes going on could also be causing their bedtime to be later.  If children are overtired at bedtime, they are more likely to wake during the night and earlier in the morning.

Having Patience

The first step in solving your child’s behavior is to first have (or try to have!) patience and realize where they are coming from.  If your older child was an only child before the baby came, they were used to getting all the attention.  Now, not only is the baby getting some of their attention, the baby probably gets to stay up later with Mom and Dad and gets to spend all night in their room.  How fair is that?!  It is a good idea to spend some extra one on one time with your older child during the day.  You should be totally focused on them (no cell phones or television) and this should last for at least 20 minutes.  Each parent should try to do this every day.


You may need to factor in a little extra relaxing time before sleep time at night.  Your child may need a couple of extra books or some extra songs.  Decide before hand what you will add, and do not let your child dictate what you do.  If you tell them you will read an extra book, stop at that extra book.  If they beg and cry for another one and you give in, you will have taught them to keep begging and crying even if you say no.
If your child is really upset at bedtime, you may think about sitting in their room with them while they fall asleep, then every several days moving further and further away from them or come check on them every 5 or 7 minutes for extra reassurance.

Middle of the Night Wake-Ups

If your child is waking in the middle of the night, discuss with your partner during the day how you want to handle it.  Being consistent is essential in changing a behavior.  So if you do not want your older child coming into bed with you, do not let them do that, even once.  This is especially important if your newborn is sleeping in bed with you – your older child may not be as aware of the baby and could roll on them or crawl over them. 
If you are okay with your older child coming into your room at night if they do not wake you or your baby, you could make a bed for them on the floor.  You could put a crib mattress or sleeping bag on your floor.  You will need to give your child rules – if they sleep in this bed, they need to come into the room quietly and not wake anyone.  This is probably a better idea for a child at least three years old and one that has not shown any jealousy issues toward the newborn.

It Will Get Better

Remember that it will get better, especially if you handle the behavior consistently and with as much patience as you can have being a sleep deprived parent!  Your child may need a little extra reassurance now, but will once again start sleeping well.  And by that time, your newborn may be sleeping better too!

About the Author:
Michelle Winters, of SleepWell Sleep Solutions is a certified Gentle Sleep Coach and Greenproofer based in Northern Virginia. Michelle provides sleep consultations for children up to 6 years old in which she assists parents in creating a gentle, respectful plan to get their children sleeping.  She can also assist parents who are trying to conceive, who are pregnant, and who already have children identify and remove toxins in their environment.  Michelle conducts in person consultations in the Washington DC Metro area and can also conduct consultations over Skype or phone for clients outside the area.  She is also available to conduct workshops and group talks to businesses, parents’ groups and preschools.
This post is provided by SleepWell Sleep Solutions.

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post: Safety When Home Alone

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Published: 06/04/2013
The next few months are filled with vacations, summer camp, swimming, and cookouts for most families. But for working parents, it can also mean decisions about if your children are ready to be home alone. Babysitters or daycare can be a huge cost but it can be dangerous to leave your kids home alone while you’re at work. Any parent is nervous about the safety of their children, especially when you hear horror stories about kids left home alone over the summer. Deciding whether or not your children are ready to stay at home by themselves doesn’t have any hard and fast rules to follow—it depends completely on the responsibility and maturity levels of your child. If you decide they are ready, go over these points with your children to make sure they stay as safe as possible.

Role Playing

Role playing situations with your children and what they should do when they’re home alone can help you make better judgments on whether they’re ready and teach them what to do. Talk about what to do in a fire, injury, or intruder situation. By role playing, your children will be more ready to take action and stay safe in worst case scenarios. Do things like pretending there’s a fire or that you’re a stranger asking to come inside your home with an “emergency.” Taking time to remind your kids to never open the door to strangers or to someone they feel uncomfortable with will keep them safe and give you some reassurance.

Rules for Being Home Alone

Part of the basis to stay at home alone needs to be about following rules. If your children can follow your rules well and understand why, they might be ready. Setting special stay at home alone rules is important to keeping them safe when you’re not there. Decide if they can use kitchen appliances, play outside, have friends over, and what chores and tasks they need to do when you’re not home. Having a family meeting with a conversation works better than laying down the law—but you can also use technology to keep an eye on your children.

Emergency Planning

Going over what they should do in emergency situations and the family plan that is modified for when they’re home alone will help them know what to do and help you get to them quickly if something should go wrong. Talking about what to do in severe weather of if someone breaks into your home and judging his or her reactions to these conversations can help you make your decision about your child.

Routine Checks

If you’re able to, schedule check-in times with your children while they’re home alone to see how they’re doing. While it might not fit into your work schedule, it’s important to know what they’re up to when you’re away from home. Home security systems are also a good option to keep track of your kids. Text alerts can be sent from certain systems when different unlock codes are used upon entry to your home. And even more advanced systems allow you to peek inside your home with your smartphone and cameras installed in your home. The cost of a security system is an investment but is less than an all-day babysitter all summer long.

About the Authors: First Security provides home security services from their home office in Ellicott City, Maryland, offering three times the protection at half the cost of competitors. Their blog has lots of home security tips, including posts like Is Your Son Really Safer Than Your Daughter?, Why Hide-A-Keys Are a Bad Idea, and more home alone security tips. Disclaimer: Not every child is capable of or should be left home alone. If you plan to leave your child at home alone, ensure your child is of age and maturity to be left alone and conform with local and state laws. - 

Disclaimer: Not every child is capable of or should be left home alone. If you plan to leave your child at home alone, ensure your child is of age and maturity to be left alone and conform with local and state laws.

Sprint Guardian for Families (and a giveaway!)

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Published: 03/14/2013

As I see younger and younger children with phones that are way more fancy than anything I ever had as a child, I frequently wonder how parents moderate phone use for their children.

Lots of families we know have rules about where phones are stored at night, some parents give their children smart phones without data plans so they can't access the internet, and others have a trust-based system of management.  

I am not that trusting :) 

Mobile carrier Sprint contacted me about trying out their Sprint Guardian program, which works on all Sprint Android smartphones and connects mobile security and safety applications from Safely and Lookout.  This means that once you purchase Sprint Guardian, you can access information from security applications in one location either from your phone or online.   This makes management of all your family phones easy and centralized.  You can even use Sprint Guardian to protect your Android phones from malware and spyware.*

One of my favorite included technologies is the ability for parents to enforce their family rules regarding phone use with Sprint Mobile Controls and Sprint Drive First.  Mobile Controls allows you to lock your child's phone either on demand or on a schedule, letting you ensure they're not using the phone during school, for example, or after 10pm so they're not using it at night.  Drive First 
automatically locks your teenagers’ mobile phones when they’re traveling more than 10 mph and unlocks when they stop driving.  It directs incoming calls to voicemail and silences distracting alerts while driving, too. 

All of these technologies come bundled for $14.98 per month for up to five lines on an account.  That offers a family of five a 73 percent savings over buying and paying for all the offered applications separately.  For me, while I don't have teenagers, just knowing that they couldn't text while driving would be worth the $15 a month. 

If you already have a Sprint Android device, you can find Sprint Guardian in the Sprint Zone application, which appears as an icon on your mobile device.  We were able to try Sprint Guardian on a pair of loaner Androids before writing this article, and I have to say that Sprint is definitely making it easy for families by putting all the security and safety features together in one place.  The only feature I wish it had would be a website blocker or "web nanny" feature, but other than that, this is a great option for families who want to keep their children's cell phone habits safe and under control. 

If your family still hasn't entered the digital age, Sprint is offering two lucky PwcMoms readers a chance to win their own Sprint Guardian-ready devices.  These phones do not come with service, but you can swap them onto your existing Sprint Plan, or activate them with a new one starting at $79.99 a month for an individual plan.  Don't forget to add Sprint Guardian to your new device if you win!!  Visit

On a related note, my Tech-savvy husband wanted to share his opinion on Sprint's mobile plans.  Please note that we're actually AT&T customers right now, and this is just his "expert opinion":

Sprint is really outdoing Verizon and AT&T with their unlimited data plans.  It goes way beyond unlimited data vs. capped/throttled data plans.  Verizon and AT&T have begun moving away from the traditional way of doing business where you pay for a phone or additional line, and you pay for some number of minutes and then you get a data package.  Their new way of doing business is to offer shared data plans with capped usage and overage fees on data while giving away unlimited voice usage.  Over time, it is likely that this is the only way you will be able to get a plan with Verizon and AT&T.  Here's the problem, these shared data plans look good now, and in many cases can even save you money now (it would for our family), but Verizon and AT&T know that data usage is growing at an ever increasing rate as screens get bigger and better, video streaming becomes more prevalent, and wireless internet speeds increase.  This means that your shared data plan with Verizon or AT&T might save you money today but cost you much more money in the future.  This is why Sprint's unlimited data plans are such a great deal.  They are the only plan of the three top wireless providers in our area that is in the consumers' best interest.

On that note, here's what you can win! 

Enter by emailing with which phone you'd like to win! Note that these devices do not come with service plans, but are Sprint Guardian ready and can be swapped onto your existing Sprint plan, or start a new one!

Contest closes on March 22, 2012. 

Dumfries Black History Month Celebration

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Published: 02/06/2013
The Town of Dumfries will present a Black History Month Celebration entitled "Believe, Achieve, Succeed: Showcasing Inspiring Testimonials from Change Agents in Our Community".  Light refreshments will follow. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013
Little Union Baptist Church
17150 Mine Road
Dumfries VA 22026

Summer Job Openings: Leesylvania State Park

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Published: 01/29/2013

Leesylvania State Park Summer Jobs!

Maintenance Ranger: Weekends and holidays may be required
Responsible, result-oriented individuals needed who are able to work at times without direct supervision and who can prioritize tasks and positively interact with the public.  Duties focus on assisting in the daily running of park facilities and grounds keeping.  This entails a variety of tasks, which changes according to the day of the week, number of visitors or activities.  A large portion of the work will include custodial duties in the bathrooms, picnic area, and maintaining the landscaping.  Other tasks throughout the summer may include:  painting, trail work, carpentry, vehicle and equipment maintenance, assisting with interpretive programs and resource management projects.  Valid driver’s license required.

Contact Ranger: Weekends and holidays may be required
Outgoing applicants needed to assist visitors to Leesylvania by providing information regarding services available and other local attractions.  Duties include fee collection, money handling, and maintaining records of annual pass holders as well as overnight boating/fishing registration.  Contact rangers are required to operate a computer terminal/cash register, and will inform visitors of the rules and regulations for the purpose of protecting and conserving park areas.

Concessionaire Services: Weekends and holidays may be required
Detail-oriented and friendly individuals needed to assist in the operation of Leesylvania’s concessionaire services.  Most duties will center around the park-operated Breakwater Marina Store, located between the two boat launches, and the smaller Snack Shack by the fishing pier.  The store sells fishing and picnic related items, gas out on the dock and operates a short order cook style of food services.  The Snack Shack is smaller and sells ice-cream, other snack items and fishing bait.  Duties at both facilities include money handling, cash register operation, food preparation, setting up and taking down displays, and keeping the store clean and sanitary.

Visitor Center/Interpreter: Weekends and holidays may be required
Outgoing and responsible individuals with a strong interest in working with a wide variety of customers needed to assist with interpretive duties at the Visitor Center.  Interpreters are responsible for keeping the history and environmental museum open and organized, and provide information to visitors about the history of the park and its natural resources.  Duties include taking care of park animals, updating interpretive kiosks throughout the park, leading public programs, setting up monthly displays, money handling, and register operation.  Interpreters assist with school groups, scout programs, fairs, and park programming, and may be trained in leading monthly canoe tours and guided hikes.

Junior Ranger Leader: Weekends and holidays may be required
Responsible and outgoing leaders who are interested in working with children are needed to assist with Leesylvania’s Junior Ranger program.  Focusing on getting children outdoors for a hands-on learning environment, the Junior Ranger program introduces new topics each day with fun and educational activities.  The program is designed with nature in mind, so the majority of the time is spent outdoors in a leadership role, including with some overnight camping events.  Junior Ranger Leaders must work well with others and be able to create a safe and secure learning environment for children and families.  Duties also include those outlined in the description above for Visitor Center/Interpreter.

For all positions, experience is not necessary, but preferred. We provide on the job training. Employee may be required to perform other park related duties during emergencies, or on a non-recurrent basis. Seasonal summer jobs can be an outstanding first step toward a lasting career with the park service.

You can pick up & drop off applications at
2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr. Woodbridge, VA 22191
Main Office: Monday – Friday 8:00am-4:30pm.
Visitor Center: Saturday-Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm.
You can also get applications at the web site below, but turn them in at the park:
Call (703) 730-8205 for more information.

Benefits of working for Virginia State Parks:

  • Working for a State Agency looks good on a resume.
  • Majority of work is outdoors at Leesylvania on the Potomac River.
  • Make a difference; work to preserve our natural resources.
  • Long-term opportunities available.
  • Flexible work schedule.
  • Opportunities to learn new skills.
  • Fun professional work environment.
  • Competitive wages.
  • Letters of recommendation available.

PechaKucha January 2013

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Published: 01/23/2013

PechaKucha Night is an informal community gathering where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, experiences and thoughts in a standardized format. Each presentation features 20 images, which are timed to show for 20 seconds each. Each presentation is six minutes 40 seconds long.
PechaKucha Nature Night is this Saturday, Jan.26. Doors open at 6:00 PM (dinner), and the program begins at 7:30 pm at The Electric Palm (12745 Sea Ray Lane, Woodbridge). Sponsored by Lake Ridge Parks & Recreation Association and Prince William Conservation Alliance, this event is open to the public and free of charge; buy your own food & drinks. Please note the restaurant seats 60 people; after that it's standing room only.  You won't want to miss this popular event featuring outstanding presentations by your friends and neighbors: 

Kristi Smedley - Galapagos 
Eli Hosen - Food for All Ages
Neil Nelson - Trail Projects in PWC
Marty Nohe - Off-road Hiking with Kids
Kelly Jimenez - Eggscellent Chicken Tales
Cindy Smith - Flowers and Bugs Make the World Go Round
Caryn Stein - Snapping & Trapping in Prince William Forest
Charlie Grymes - Open Spaces and the Tri-County Parkway
Uriah Kiser - Government Island: A walk into monumental history
Julie Flanagan - Spring Warblers are Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You
More information is online at or call PWCA at 703.499.4954.
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