Moms of Fredericksburg Blog

Business Opportunity Giveaway – Moms of Fredericksburg

A few months back, my MIL visited with a goodie bag filled full of beauty products to sample. Not just any beauty products, mind you, but being the product enthusiast I am, she completely understood my affinity for natural and botanical skincare lines. After sampling all of my new treats, I logged onto Pink Payaya Parties.com to see what in the world this brand was all about! I noticed words like, “inner balance, outer beauty, botanically, skincare, MADE IN USA, SPA, HOME, beauty, products, ENTREPRENEUR and PHILANTHROPY.” With my research completed on this wonderful, new product, we at Moms of Fredericksburg decided to launch a Pink Payaya giveaway for our local community of Moms!

Pink Papaya Ad

If you’re interested in becoming your own boss, and want to introduce Pink Payaya’s skincare, make-up, and haircare products to your family and friends, just READ ON for all the details. You’ll soon discover this is great local opportunity because no one is currently selling in our area. You could quickly create your own team of sales consultants. Ready for the best part? Director, Kathy Price, is giving away one Pink Payaya start up kit valued at $99! Click to discover what’s in this kit!

pink papaya ad
Pink Papaya Director, Kathy Price, recently schooled Moms of Fredericksburg on the WWW’s (who, why, and what’s) of her brand.

Here are several reasons customers become consultants:
* 35% BASE commission, with lots of bonuses too
* strong RE-order business since we sell a consumable product
* Parties are fun & different every time, so bookings are never a problem
* Incentive trip and conference opportunities each year
* Monthly opportunities for FREE product
* Philanthropy built into our career plan
* Ground floor company
* Want to be the first in their city or state to share Pink Papaya
* No credit card fees
* No cost to consultant for hostess rewards
* Several Starter kit options $49, $99 or $199
* Get paid the day of the party…no wait for commissions
* Member of the DSA and NPA
* New consultants can earn almost $750 in FREE products during first 2 months.
* NO QUOTAS
* No territories
* No Inventory

TO ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY

If you’re interested in entering our giveaway, just write us a short entry explaining why this would be the perfect opportunity for you to launch in Fredericksburg! You can email your entry to dina@momsoffredericksburg.com. Deadline is Tuesday, April 22 at 12 am. Winner will be selected on Wednesday, April 23, and announced on our Facebook page! We will also send the winner an email.

In the meantime, please go ahead and contact Kathy Price directly! She’d be glad to answer any questions, and help you discover the flexibility and freedom you can have with Pink Payaya.

Fredericksburg’s Resource for Kids Cooking Classes

When the founder, a Fredericksburg Mom, recognized the importance of children learning imperative culinary skills essential to success as an adult, Jr. Champion Chefs was born. Chef Allison has studied Culinary Arts for many years, and experimented with foods to create delicious, homemade meals often found in fine dining restaurants. She has a passion for both food AND teaching kids the necessary cooking skills to last a lifetime.

Some of the skills taught include kitchen safety, measuring skills, meal preparation, clean up/proper sanitation, time management, and how to trim, filet, and butterfly meats. How many children do you think know how to slice and dice an onion? Not many, and a surprising number of adults can’t do it properly either. THIS is the reason founder, Allison Vimont, started Jr. Champion Chefs.

Jr. champion chefs young girl

After every class, the kids have a take home container to showcase their new culinary skills. Plus, it gives their parents the opportunity to taste what they’e created.

Jr. Champion Chefs offers Beginner and Advanced classes which are really fun, in addition to being incredibly informative. They give kids the chance to study culinary techniques normally unavailable to anyone outside a professional culinary school. The lesson plans are strategically designed to give students all the ingredients (no pun intended) to be confident in the kitchen as the mature into adulthood.

Jr. Champion Chefs kids

Students who have complete a Jr. Champion Chefs beginner cooking class are able to create a meal at home for their family. One former 11 year old student named Jacob arrived at Jr. Champion Chefs with very minimal cooking ability (typical of most kids his age). But, by the end of the 6 week course, he was trimming, butterflying, fileting, searing chicken and cooking full meals for his entire family.

Jr. Champion Chefs has a maximum of 6 kids in each class, allowing for more individualized attention. The kids cooking classes are two hours at a time, once a week, and the children need to bring nothing other than an attentive attitude. They’ll each receive a Jr. Champion Chefs apron to wear during class. To find more detailed information and registration forms, please visit www.JrChampionChefs.com.

Kids’ Birthday Party Venues – Fredericksburg

You know that feeling of satisfaction you get after celebrating one of your children’s birthday? Another successful milestone completed with kudos from the guest of honor…Whew! With each passing year, we try to make them feel loved, cherished, and special. Yes, we celebrate, but even more importantly, we give thanks to God for the greatest gifts He’s ever bestowed upon us!

Our middle son was the latest recipient of our loving efforts. Having lived in Fredericksburg for almost 5 years now, we’ve scouted out a gazillion birthday party venue options. We’ve celebrated at the Fredericksburg Field House, our own backyard with a giant moon bounce from Inflatable Jump Rentals, invited Engineering for Kids to our home one year, pool parties, an outdoor Nerf party, and yes, even the dreaded Chucky Cheese experience. Actually, Chucky Cheese isn’t THAT bad if you plan for an early day Monday thru Thursday event.

This year my skater/surfer/X-Games loving boy wanted to do gymnastics! I know what you’re thinking…Gymnastics isn’t very extreme. Well, HIS version is called PARKOUR, and it’s anything but ordinary! So, mommy detective investigated the possibilities and uncovered a local PARKOUR studio through which I reserved a 90 minute lesson for he and his friends. Most folks aren’t familiar with term PARKOUR which is generally described as the activity or sport of moving rapidly through an area, typically in an urban environment, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing. Now, if any of your kids use those big red balls outside Target like an impromptu obstacle course, imagine a huge warehouse full of similar obstacles just begging to be used in all sorts of imaginative ways. I have 3 sons who are ALWAYS on the lookout for opportunities to climb, jump, balance, swing, and jump on forbidden fruit. An evening of parkour lessons and freestyle was the PERFECT activity for a group of young boys literally bursting with pent up energy!

Here’s a picture of the parkour studio at Polar Fitness in Fredericksburg.

Parkour Studio at Polar Fitness - Fredericksburg

Cool, huh?! Owner and trainer, Jason Yusko, did a great job instructing the children in warm-up exercises and free play. As a father of two, he knew exactly how to introduce the kids to the sport in a safe and productive manner. Jason wrapped up the fun filled evening by leading each child through to the grand finale: an obstacle course complete with a jump to and from a big wall. The kids remained focused and determined to complete each level of instruction, and accompanying obstacle. By the end of our 90 minute lesson, the boys were totally pumped AND thoroughly wiped out from workout. The next day, the boys were sore but satisfied. Sore from the strenuous activity…Satisfied in having successfully met the challenges posed by the activity and the obstacles. Quite an experience, let me tell you! A minimum charge of $90, or 6 kid minimum was required to reserve our party.

Our boys judged it “BEST party ever!”

Our party agenda looked something like this:

5:30 pm pizza and basketball at our house
6:15 pm cake and happy birthday
6:45 pm parkour studio for our lesson
8:45 pm – Home and all kids crashed!

Snow Days in Fredericksburg – Online Education for Kids

The snow is coming down in Fredericksburg! Would you believe that before 9am this morning, I already heard “I’m bored” out of the mouth of my oldest son?! Could it be our kids are actually SICK of the snow days?! Those of us who live in Spotsylvania County are now approaching 2 weeks total of missed school from all the winter weather. I have a rising 4th grader, 3rd grader, and kindergartener, and they are used to a weekday routine. When the bad weather infringes upon our schedule, I consider it my job to keep them out of trouble AND busy. So, rather than let them run amok through the house all day, I’m putting my teacher hat on and getting these boys focused on learning!

time to learn clock
Here’s a list of online educational sites to help you create some routine in your kids’ schedules while home this week. I know it’s hard, especially if you have more than one child and only one computer, but just try to give them some sort of schedule to follow. I’ve already forewarned my sons that homeschool WILL be starting very shortly. They’re all watching a movie now, but I can tell the typical teasing is only moments away. Play time can be scheduled later in the day. For now, these boys really need to focus on learning. I’m taking the wheel and guiding them toward age appropriate, parent approved, educational websites. MINECRAFT will be the reward AFTER school is complete!

DISCLAIMER – Make sure any website your child visits is SAFE. There are thousands of websites geared toward children, however, not all of them are appropriate. Make sure you read the terms of service and parent section.

Homeschooling for Free

Kori – Homeschooling mother of 6 wrote:

MobyMax – I love this site as well. It gives your child a pre-test and then levels the lessons. I found out about this site this year from my 7th grader. It’s used at his school. You can get a homeschooling account for free.

XtraMath – I use this right now with my 2nd and 4th grader to review math facts. Basically, glorified flash cards but the program keeps track of which facts your child has mastered and which ones he/she needs more practice. My 4 year old uses it once in awhile.”

Free online Christian homeschool–I love how everything is in one place. I am using this with my preK daughter who will be turning 5 in Sept. Because she already knew her letters, letter sounds and how to read some basic words when I found this site, we started on Day 172 for the “Getting Ready” section for reading. Then we’ve jumped to First Grade for some math and other subjects. You’ll find that these lessons have links to other great sites like Starfall.”

ABCya.com – Kids Educational Computer Games & Activities

Kids Play Hockey, Fredericksburg, VA

It was only a matter of time before one of our three sons decided they wanted to play hockey. After all, having lived in Fredericksburg for almost 5 years now, we’ve dabbled in just about every other sport including soccer, flag football, martial arts, swimming, and lacrosse!

Our middle son will be turning 8 this month. The ONLY thing he’s interested in lately is hockey. Since Lance never really differentiated his interest between ice or street hockey, I just assumed it would be the colder version and called the only local “hockey mom” I know, our wonderful calendar manager, Rose. It was perfect timing on our part, because the registration deadline to participate in a local USA HOCKEY program called “Try Hockey for Free Day,” fast approached.

The closest participating ice rink to Fredericksburg was the Prince William Ice Center, a ride of no more than 35 minutes on Saturday afternoon.

Upon arrival, we checked in and were immediately taken care of by polite staff members and high school volunteers. Our sons (ages 4, 8 and 9) were fitted with hockey gear from head to toe, with helmets, pads, jersey, hockey skates, and a stick. We had plenty of assistance with finding the correct sizes and getting suited up. After being led to the rink, the boys received one on one coaching. I cannot tell you how awesome it was for us to watch such a large group of children trying so hard to stand up, skate, and play hockey!


After a little over an hour, the kids posed for a group shot and received a certificate of completion. They even got to KEEP their hockey jerseys!

Prince Wiliam Ice Center
Thanks again, to Rose for directing me to this program, which runs twice a year! If you’re interested in a reminder for the next free hockey day (I heard it will be during the Fall), just “like” Try Hockey for Free Day on Facebook. I imagine they will include a post on Facebook when the next registration starts.

Great Train Race, Fredericksburg

Hang on moms…Spring weather is finally headed our way and, before long, the kids will be actively playing outdoors on a regular basis! Next week, our sons will start training with their school’s Running Club. I’m very encouraged by the opportunity because it’ll help our two oldest prepare for the Great Train Race.

If you’re unfamiliar with Fredericksburg’s largest children’s race, check out some of my previously published articles describing the event. Since we ONLY advertise and/or endorse events we’ve had an opportunity to try out with our own families, I quickly recommended it to other locals.

This year’s race will take place on Sunday, May 4, 2014. Race details as well as registration is available online at GTRFredericksburg.com.

One last reminder – the deadline for submissions to the T-Shirt Content is March 15, 2014. For details on the logo design contest, visit GTF online.

Moms of Fredericksburg Hair Salon Gift Certificate Giveaway

If you caught me out and about today, you would’ve absolutely noticed a little pep in my step. I am SO psyched to welcome the first day of Spring, AND I also got my hair done yesterday. Nothing overly dramatic, just a trim and style. As a busy mom, it’s worth EVERY penny to have my hair washed, cut, and styled!

Assuming most of our readers are indeed moms, wouldn’t you all agree that a haircut SHOULD be high on the list when it comes to monthly expenditures? Sure…We all have financial priorities BUT, I think a hair cut every two months is NOT much to ask for! I do, however, realize that there are many moms who cannot find the extra $50. I recognize the blessings God has given me and want nothing more than to show my gratitude by paying it forward and helping others.

I’ve spent the last 4 years looking for the right salon, and can happliy report Belle Tresor Studio has exceeded ALL my expectations. I’d like to give one (1) Mom of Fredericksburg the opportunity to visit Belle Tresor and redeem a $100 gift certificate. It’s there, right now, just waiting to be claimed by you!

For a chance to win, all you have to do is “like” this post on Facebook and “like” Belle Tresor Studio. Please let Belle Tresor know (in the Facebook comments section) you’re a MOF who needs a hair cut and style!

Winner will be announced on Friday night!

pretty young girl cutting hair

Marriage Retreat, Acts of Renewal, Fredericksburg Moms

ACTS OF RENEWAL” is a Christ centered marriage workshop my husband and I had the pleasure to attend this past weekend. It’s very name perfectly describes what Michael and I set out to accomplish when we first signed up. The program, offered by the Spotswood Baptist Church here in Fredericksburg, was a sold out event held down in Williamsburg. We paid $119 for the retreat which included nice hotel accommodations and refreshments.

Husband and wife theater duo, Dr. Jim and Carol Anderson Shores, created the marriage workshop to portray a variety of struggles we couples often experience, along with insightful solutions to overcome them. Through their short, theatrical performances (many of which were hysterically funny!), Carol and Jim literally brought to life several scenarios we go through with our spouses, along with lessons in communication, intimacy, and dealing with interruptions. Many of the performances were deeply moving, pulling the audience into familiar moments of sadness, struggle, and hopelessness.

Would you believe we’ll be celebrating our 15 year wedding anniversary this Spring and had NEVER even heard of a marriage retreat? When I say “retreat”, I’m not referring to a child-less vacation on some tropical island for some R and R. Don’t get me wrong, we ALL need those too. What I mean by “retreat” here is a weekend to focus on renewing and remembering the reasons you became husband and wife.

If you ‘re married, you vowed to love your spouse through the best, AND worst times. It’s also likely there were witnesses to your eternal vows. What if one of them had stood up and said, “WAIT…you need to realize there WILL be periods when the bad seems to outweigh the good…You will hurt one another badly, your children WILL come between you if you let them. Realize the person you love MOST on your wedding day COULD eventually become the person you love the LEAST! Before I get into the details of the marriage workshop, let me be up front and share that Michael and I came very close to NOT making our 15th anniversary. WAY TOO CLOSE!

We’ve all heard the dreaded statistic: 50% of marriages end in Divorce. Why? Is this because America has forgotten the biblical basis for marriage? Has society shied so far from God that most now look at marriage as a contractual business agreement? Is “serial dating” where one “plays the field” the BEST way to ensure we choose the proper life long mate? I don’t think so. Relationships are complicated enough in your teens, and they only become more so as we settle under the same roof together. IF we could somehow learn to pay attention to the differences between a man and a woman, we may just realize that GOD doesn’t make mistakes. He purposely created us to be different and unique. In doing so, and knowing how to properly mesh those differences, we will compliment one another in love and life.

Here are a few takeaways from Acts of Renewal:

COMMUNICATING WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX:

Men communicate by doing things, show affection through favors, solving problems, and physical gestures. They tend to give advice and share opinions as a gesture of affection (women sometimes find this annoying and/or offensive).
Women communicate for the sake of social connection, share thoughts and feelings, see “bonding” as a sufficient and desirable outcome for communication, and tend to talk in an elaborate, detailed verbal pattern (this drives men nuts).
Did you know the inability to communicate is the number 1 reason cited for divorce?


WAYS TO IMPROVES COMMUNICATION IN YOUR MARRIAGE:

1. Give your spouse clues about what you want. If you just want someone to listen and comfort you, gently tell them.
2. Resist the temptation to criticize their communication. There’s no wrong or right way to communicate and being critical will only deepen the divide in your marriage.
3. Vary the length of the conversation based upon the other person’s gender. Men like to get to the point rather quickly. Women include LOTS Of details. If you’re talking to the opposite sex, adapt your storytelling style to better fit theirs.
4. Watch your body language. It’s important when communicating with your husband (or wife) to let them know that you’re invested in the conversation. Maintain eye contact, and lean in toward him while you speak. This will keep him in the conversation, which also raises chances for memory retention.

THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES by Dr. Gary Chapman

The best way to learn more about this topic is to visit 5 love languages.com to learn more about Dr. Chapman’s studies, findings, and brilliant advice for learning your spouse’s love language. You can take the test and discover your spouse’s PRIMARY love language. Trust me, ladies, it is well worth the effort!

Celebrating Valentine’s Day, Fredericksburg – Family and Budget Friendly

By: Gina Terry, Phd

Valentine’s Day is not my favorite holiday. It was easier to be a skeptic about the holiday when my husband and I did not have kids, but now I welcome the opportunity to say ‘I love you’ with my family, albeit in ways that are meaningful to us rather than in ways determined by the commercialism of the holiday.

In that light, here are a few ideas of ways to say ‘I love you’ and to support locals in your endeavors. There are no date-night ideas here—this list is family-oriented and budget friendly.


Ice cream at Carl’s – Carl’s opens up again on Valentine’s Day. Coincidence? I think not. Have a family dessert date at this local icon, but remember that they accept cash only.

Stop by The Popcorn Bag for some special munchies for family movie night. From bacon to pizza flavor and from traditional to caramel macchiato flavor, there’s something for everyone’s tastes here—and it’s all delicious.

Breakfast in bed – I once made my parents toast with honey and red hots for Valentine’s Day breakfast in bed (they were gracious and tried it). Help your kids to make a more edible breakfast…head to Eileen’s Bakery and Café for pastries. Or, stay home and make heart-shaped pancakes.

Go play – If the weather permits, head to Braehead Farm for some family fun. They are open Fri-Sun during the winter. While you’re there, buy some of Braehead’s honey for your honeys!

Take a walk. If you have kids whose legs can handle a 3-mile hike, ‘park hop’ by following the River and Canal trail from Old Mill Park to Kenmore Park.

Family pizza night – we make homemade pizza on Friday nights. Make it a family affair and let the kids help with the toppings. Buy or make fresh dough and make heart shaped pizza (Wegmans sells premade dough and Fleischman’s yeast makes an easy-to-use pizza yeast).

Make Valentine’s cards for each other. Just be careful with glitter…we’re still finding glitter from last year.

There’s no need for chocolates, wine, and flowers (as nice as they all may be) to make the holiday special. Do something that you enjoy doing with your loved ones and take the time to savor the experience. Check out our Events page for local happenings over Valentine’s weekend. Pinterest also has a dizzying array of holiday crafts and treats. We shared a few neat ideas last week on the Blog!

Don’t get trapped by the generic expectations of the holiday. It doesn’t matter how you say ‘I love you’ to your family on February 14; it just matters that you take the time say the three words that matter most.

Valentine’s Day (Buy 1 Get 1 Free Lattes, Starbucks) Fredericksburg

Ladies, my dinner is burning but I just HAD to share a great freebie from Starbucks! This Friday, February 14, stop by Starbucks (I confirmed Southpointe location IS participating) in offering a buy 1, get 1 free latte between 2-5 pm.

You never know, with the impending snow storm, our spouses could be home on Friday to enjoy it with! Why not schedule a little Starbuck’s date for half the price?!

A huge shout out to Capitally Frugal for sharing this terrific offer!

Weekly Takeaway from Parenting Class, Fredericksburg

Although I’m late in posting this article, it’s fitting because today IS “Words of Wisdom Wednesday.” If you’re unfamiliar with our weekly words of inspiration, hope, and motivation offering, just follow Moms of Fredericksburg on Facebook
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Well, I’ve now completed 3 weeks of the Chip Ingram’s parenting class, House Or Home? If you’re just learning about my experiences thus far, please check out the takeaways from the first two classes.

I’d also like to disclose, early on in this post, that these recommendations come from a biblical worldview. If you’re unfamiliar with the Gospel, and or have reservations because these lessons are inspired by God’s Word, please keep an open mind. Even though there are 66 books that make up the Holy Bible, only one contains a direct message speaking to children with the command to, “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (NIV)

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. God gave this command because:
- It’s the foundation for human relationships.
- It’s the foundation for respect of authority.
- It’s the foundation of human development, i.e., morals and self-esteem.

2. What does it mean to honor your parents?
- Respect your parents in your speech.
- Respect your parents in how you dress.
- Respect your parents in the gray areas.
- Respect your parents in your chores, school, and work.

As parents, we should raise our children like they’re preparing for an IPO (initial public offering). My corporate world experience included 3 years in the finance industry. I’ve witnessed companies prepare to hit the stock market. An insane amount of preparation goes into this big day. This analogy serves to remind us of the very fact that we’re preparing our children to go public one day. If children CANNOT honor the authority they CAN SEE (we as their PARENTS), how will they honor God, an authority they cannot see? Morals, values, attitudes, and relationships will suffer if they’re not taught respect.
As you’re standing in line at Wegmans, check out the magazine headlines. This is but a small glimpse of what is currently valued in our culture today. We do, however, have the greatest blueprint to raise our children: God’s word.

If you’re confused, feeling hopeless, and/or aren’t really sure how to relate His guidance to your child, teenager, or even young adult, take some time to pray for God’s help. Then make a list of the top 3 or 4 behavior issues and apply these practical tips for more balanced parenting:

1. Have a few, clear responsibilities/rules.
2. Develop written contracts.
3. Negotiate consequences.
4. Be consistent.
5. The older they get, the few the rules.
6. Train them to BE ON THEIR OWN.

Last but not least, please realize that I’m just figuring this all out myself! In other words, I’m part of the choir I’m preaching to. Not the expert…Not the perfect mom. I’m flawed, a sinner, and continuously make parenting mistakes. However, we can all follow the same blue print I’ve been blessed to receive. Just ask God to lead you to it.

Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids, Fredericksburg Moms

I recently started “homeschooling” my preschooler, who will turn 5 this summer. My husband and I decided NOT to send him next year so I decided, “why not get a jump on it now?”

He was in his second year of preschool and, lately, it’s been a real struggle to juggle getting him to class on time AFTER dropping off our two older boys. And then picking him back up 2 hours later. PLUS, it saves us $120 a month. It makes even more fiscal sense realizing that we still have to pay for missed “snow” days or delayed openings. I think Chase made it to 1-3 full days of school the month of January!
Needless to say, I’m taking a much more laid back approach to the rest of the year. And why not?! He’s only 4 years old…Has 2 older brothers…And is very well socialized through our weekly routine of daily gym visits (he loves the place), Awana on Wednesdays, and Sunday school at church. He loves doing homework while the older kids study. ABC’s, 123′s, etc., easy pesy!

I must admit, however, I’ll miss the warm and sentimental preschool crafts Chase was so proud to bring home. Thus, I took a crack at some fun Valentine’s Day crafts for us to do at home, just the 2 of us.

I’m giving local mom and my friend, Cynthia V., credit for posting this one on her Facebook. It caught my eye and turned out to be an activity that lasted hours into the afternoon, dinner planning, and after!

Valentine’s Day Sun Catchers

What You Will Need

@ Five Below
20 count multi-color tissue paper for $1.00
40 oz Elmers Glue $1.00

@ Dollar General

Waxed paper – $1.00
Permanent marker – Sharpie works
Heart cookie cutter OR the ability to draw a nice one. :)

Here’s the website that will give you the step-by-step instructions. Here’s our finally products! We got fancy, bookmarks and hearts for family gifts.


DIY Valentine’s Day Cards for Kids

I’ll credit my friend, Alicia, for this next neat idea she discovered on Pinterest. We’ve been on the hunt for “cool” cards to hand out to school friends in 2nd and 3rd grades. The stores have the same old ones for boys like Sponge Bob, Star Wars, Spider Man, etc. We’ve been there, done that. I saved leftovers from past years, none of which my guys were raising their hands for. So, mommy took the initiative (while I still can!) to make them.

After taking a picture of each son, holding out their hands like they were giving me a flower, I uploaded the photos to my computer and used Pic Monkey to edit them. Even without an upgraded account on Pic Monkey, I still found plenty of free options for adding text, color, and hearts. Simply look for the options which don’t have the little white “crown” next to them.

I opted to print the photos through Snapfish and then pick them up at our local Walgreens in less than 2 hours. You can also complete the entire project at home, assuming you have colored ink, and the know-how to configure your print layout to fit several photos on one sheet of standard paper. With the kids home for the second half of the day, (REMEMBER: schools let out early), I just didn’t have enough energy left.

Here’s my final product! I ordered 70 prints for all 3 kids for $14. Now, all I have to do is get a big bag of lollipops. I may be so lucky as to find THIS DEAL at Target today. Love these lollipops, AND the price cut possibly offered at our Target!

Week 2 Takeaway from Parenting Class, Fredericksburg

Two weeks ago, I started a class on parenting and decided to provide Moms of Fredericksburg with a weekly takeaway. Here is last week’s post in case you’re interested in learning more about the why, who, where, and what of this course.

This week, the “theme” of the chapters we covered can be summed up in two words – LOVE and LIMITS.

Photo credit - www.joyshope.com

Weekly Takeaways:

Time is the GREATEST commodity for a child. You can go ahead and test this theory out on your own. I have, and I’ll tell you TIME is flying by! It’s the only thing our children really need from us, and it’s the one thing we are greatly limited to as parents in the 21st century. My goal is to drop all electronics for 1 day a week. That includes my computer and PHONE. I”ll give a warning when I decide to fast for 24 hours, and I might just credit Pastor Drew Landry – again, for this great idea!

4 Kinds of Parents (Check in with the father of your children and make sure you’re both working toward the same goal.)

  1. 1. Permissive Parent – High in love and low in discipline. Results in low self-esteem and inferiority.
  2. 2. Neglectful Parent – Low in love and low in discipline. Results in no intimacy and no respect.
  3. 3. Authoritarian Parent – High in discipline and low in love. Result is the child is provoked to rebellion, anger, or depression.
  4. 4. Authoritative Parent – High in discipline and high in love. Results in kids who have high self-esteem, good coping skills, positive relationships, and respect for their parents. They also tend to prosper in other relationships.

How to Parent with Love and Limits (my children are ages 9, almost 8 and 4 1/2 so this breakdown was very helpful)
Actions = Consistent consequences (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15)

Small Children – The issue is obedience. You want to teach them submission to your word. Example: Ever ask your preschooler to get his/her coat and shoes on? How many times do you ask before having to yell? For me, it’s at least 3 times. I learned that getting down and giving him eye contact and asking him in a serious tone the first time helps.
Pre-teens – The issue is responsibility. Want to raise hard-working, mature, young adults? START NOW. You want to teach them responsibility for their actions and attitudes. I am in this stage x’s 2! If we sow the seed NOW, you will reap the harvest of having loving relationships with young adults.
Teens – The issue is choices. You want to teach them to become self-disciplined and make wise choices.

Practical Tips for Balanced Parenting:

  • Have a few, clear responsibilities/rules.
  • Develop written contracts.
  • Negotiate consequences.
  • Be consistent.
  • The older they get, the fewer the rules.
  • Train them to be on their own.

A few questions we parents should ourselves: What are we trying to produce, and Where are we heading?

I have so more to share but I have to limit this post because it’s supposed to be a “takeaway.” If you’re interested in learning more about Chip Ingram’s Biblical Parenting Course, here’s a resourceful link. The information above was taken from Chip Ingram’s book - house or home?

Snow Ice Cream – Snow Day Fun in Fredericksburg

I recently read about snow ice cream in the book, The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America’s Largest Families–How they Do It. This family AMAZES us, and we really enjoyed watching their tv show before we disconnected our cable. I grew up in the Northeast, and NEVER heard of making ice cream with snow! So today, before the snow piles up any higher in Fredericksburg, I’m sending someone out (note the task delegation) with a few plastic bowls to gather fresh snow…WAY before our Goldendoodle, Jack gets to it . Here’s a recipe to follow below. My disclaimer to our kids is that it will NOT taste like Sweet Frog or Carl’s. However, it’s worth experimenting with, and I betcha it’ll come pretty close to Chick Fil A’s frozen dessert! I mean, “Come on,” they can’t REALLY call that stuff, ice cream, can they? At least, not with a straight face! :)

Snow Ice Cream

Ingredients:
1-1/2 to 2 cups sugar, to taste
1 teaspoon imitation vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla
1 quart heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
6 quarts clean, fresh snow (fluffy, not packed)
Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla, and whipping cream.
Add snow, 2 cups at a time.
Stir until mixture is ice cream consistency.
*This recipe is found on page 160 of the Duggars’ first book, “20 and Counting.”

Jack, "The King of Doodle Land."

Keeping Busy – Snow Days in Fredericksburg

This week, Mother Nature handed us an unexpected break from the normal routine of school, work, etc. My husband and I looked at it as an opportunity to tackle our family mudroom. It was in need of a serious makeover and since we do have our home on the market…Why not, right?! I regret not taking a “before” photo to compare but, with excitement, I will share that we spent less than $20 on THIS final product!

1 gallon of “less than $10″ paint from Walmart, a roller, tape, and some time is all it took!
The boat shelf was bought secondhand from a lady in Fredericksburg a few years back, and has now been put to proper use. The baskets were also purchased secondhand in Annapolis. They are from Pottery Barn, and have lasted 5 years!

As you can see, we brightened up the room, and cleared our kitchen counters that were normally piled high with school papers, books, pens, etc.

If this post has you thinking about tackling your own small home project during these bitter cold winter days, we have a GIVEAWAY that just might give you that little extra push to get started!

Sarah Hardy, a local mom and Thirty One Director is giving away a Your Way Rectangle!
Here it is!



TO WIN: Just comment on our Facebook page what room in your home is in great need of a makeover!

Also anyone who books from this blog post/site will get an extra $10 in free product! Book a show/shop by visiting Sarah online.

Weekly Takeaway from Parenting Class, Fredericksburg

A few weeks ago, I heard a very daunting statement, “There are only 168 hours in the week and, if you don’t accept the responsibility to teach your children, someone else WILL!” Wow…Dr. Drew Landry really struck a cord with this statement, and I’d bet he touched the other several hundred folks who listened to his sermon that Sunday.

Luckily for me, I’d already made the decision to enroll in a parenting course offered at Spotswood Baptist Church for the next nine weeks. As soon as I read the first two lines of the course description, I was SOLD! Here’s an excerpt from Chip Ingram’s book, House Or Home?: “Your most exhilarating joys and agonizing sorrows will likely come from the same source….your children.” Need I say more?

For me, personally, this course was a God Send. Why? Because my own personal experiences as a child included ALL of the following:

Divorce
Poverty
Alcoholism
Drug Addiction
Sexual Abuse

I offer this information for those parents who are scared to mess up, didn’t have the Norman Rockwell upbringing, and/or just really desire to mold their kids into God’s Dream (NOT the World’s Dream). There’s a huge difference, by the way.

Weekly Takeaways:

  • Practice what you preach. We must BE what we want our children to BECOME.
  • The most powerful socialization factor in human behavior is modeling. example – If you don’t want your children to have road rage, then DON’T show them what it looks like!

The stronger your relationship with your child is, the more likely they will embrace your values and beliefs.

8 Keys to Building Relationships that Bond:

1. Unconditional love
2. Scheduled time (your children need dates with you), regularly. It can be as simple as a donut every Sunday morning at 8 am.
3. Focused attention
4. Eye contact
5. Meaningful touching (HUGS!)
6. Ongoing communication
7. Have fun together
8. Pray (Ever hear “the family that prayers together, stays together?”)

Lastly, 5 words that HELP – I am sorry, Please forgive me.

Stay tuned and let us ALL be reminded…..
Psalm 127.3

Freedom isn’t Free – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., January 20, 2014.

The kids are off AGAIN!? Just kiddin…Sorta.

Well, since they ARE home today, do your children know WHY? Better yet, do YOU know? Yeah, yeah, it’s a federal holiday, silly. I get that. But what, or more correctly – who, is the man behind this holiday? I had learned about Dr. Martin Luther King back in grade school but, needless to say, I’ve forgotten more than I remember. Embarrassed, and wanting to educate my children as much as myself, I began searching the internet.

It took me less than 15 minutes to understand the true significance of today’s holiday, set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and achievements. In celebrating what would be Dr. King’s 85th birthday, here’s a link to help you understand WHY this American Hero should be remembered and honored for his significant contributions to American society.
Martin Luther King, Jr.,
One of the most profound statements he ever made is contained within a letter Dr. King wrote while sitting in a Birmingham jail cell back in April 16, 1963. Specifically, he wrote, “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” As incredible as it may seem to you and I today, a little over 50 years ago, not ALL Americans were TRULY free. And I’m not referring to those who break our great nations’ laws. I’m referring to those Americans who were born with the same rights and privileges you and I were. Except they weren’t allowed to exercise them.

Local MLK Day EventCanstruction at the Spotsylvania Towne Center

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Activities for Kids

Three minute kid friendly cartoon on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

New Movie Serves to Remind Of Fredericksburg’s Historical Significance

Written by Gina Terry, Phd

War is very much a part of the local consciousness in Fredericksburg. From Civil War battlefields to a large veteran population, it is difficult to live here and overlook the sacrifice made by many over the centuries. A recent example of the pervasiveness of war occurs in the newly released movie, Lone Survivor, a film based on the New York Times Bestseller book of the same name. It’s based upon the memoirs of a Navy SEAL named Marcus Luttrell.

By necessity, the film has a narrow focus and can only briefly acknowledge the survivors on the periphery – the families of those lost; families like those left behind by Mike Russell. Mike is the son of Lee Russell, the owner of Olde Towne Butcher shop, and was lost in the rescue operation. While Mike is not depicted as a character in the film, his sacrifice is acknowledged at the film’s closing. In a recent Free Lance Star article, Lee speaks with understanding regarding the SEAL’s decisions…Decisions that, ultimately, proved fatal for those like Mike.

Army Sgt. Michael Russell

My family shops weekly at the Olde Towne Butcher shop, and we drive through the local battlefields daily. Sometimes, such routines make it easy to forget the sacrifices individuals like Mike and his family have made. I am going to try not to be so forgetful.

The film is now playing in local theaters.

Fredericksburg Area Teachers and Homeschool Families

Barnes and Noble in Central Park starts Educator Appreciate Days start, Saturday, January 11 to Sunday, January 19. Pre-K to 12th grade educators will receive 25% off classroom and personal purchases and 10% off movies and music in store, and online, with a valid B&N Educator Discount Card OR proof of educator status.

THIS was a perk too good not to share with you folks!

The LEGO Movie Hands-On Learning Event, Fredericksburg

Ladies, during our family’s recent trip to Barnes and Noble in Central Park I noticed an advertisement for a FREE Hands-On learning event featuring the upcoming motion picture release, THE LEGO Movie. My sons are all super excited for this movie and according to the folks at Barnes and Noble, they have 50 spots and the last I checked 30 spaces were still available! To register your children, just call Barnes and Noble in Central Park at 540-785-3504.

Virginia Moms Tackle Education, Savings, and our Kids’ Future – Part 2

By: Gina Terry, Phd

I gave up the tenure-track for a better life for my family, but I still teach and I think often of my children’s future—a future that I hope includes higher education. As an educator, I have often encountered students for whom the expense of college is a substantial source of stress. The stress follows them into the classroom, prevents them from purchasing books on time, and often leads to student dropout. The stress over college finances is understandable. An article in the Washington Post two months ago noted that “when adjusted for inflation, the sticker price for private colleges has nearly tripled over 40 years; for public colleges, it has quadrupled.” The numbers are not pretty. I do not have the answers to my students’ financial woes, but I have made some steps to help pay for college for my children.

baby saving money in piggy bank
Virginia529 College Savings Plans offers a prepaid program and three savings programs. The earnings made on money saved are tax free when withdrawn for higher education expenses and Virginia taxpayers receive a state tax deduction on money saved. Four different plan options allow families to set money aside for qualified higher education expenses, and friends and family can contribute to the plan (Christmas idea!). Such plans are offered by all 50 states (and D.C.), but Virginia529 is the largest. Moms of Fredericksburg might be happy to know that in Virginia, the plans offer income tax deductions of up to $4,000 per account per year. The 529 plans are not restricted by income or contribution amounts, and the individual who opens the account, not the student, maintains control of the money.

All too often, I have students who cannot afford to buy their textbooks until their financial aid money arrives, often two weeks after classes start. These students start the semester behind as they have trouble completing required reading without their books. Thankfully, funds from 529 accounts are not just for tuition; remaining funds are available to help pay for books and room and board. Additionally, 529 plans also cover education at technical institutes, community colleges, university, graduate school, and certain certificate programs in nursing, engineering, etc. The Department of Education website lists additional qualifying schools; Virginia alone has 130 schools that qualify.

As a mom whose family was impacted by the shut down, the prospect of saving for college seems daunting; however, having seen my students struggle financially with tuition costs, I know my family has to be prepared for the future. We make small contributions to our children’s plans when we can, and we have shared our account information with family members for additional contributions. College will be full of its own natural stresses—applying, acceptance, exams, social drama, time management, etc—but I hope that for my children, paying tuition will not be one of them.

Santa Train Ticket Purchase – Fredericksburg VRE

Time is just flying by! I cannot BELIEVE I am writing this post – Christmastime already?! Speaking of “believe” we are getting to the stage when our sons ask too many questions. I’ll save the topic for another blog post!

cartoon santa train
Please read my post from 2011, if you are unfamiliar with the Santa train in Fredericksburg.

Tickets go on sale Monday, November 25, 2013, at 9:00 am. They can be purchased online through the VRE website, or in person at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center. Online tickets are $6.00 each and $5.00 each if you purchase them at the Visitor Center. For those planning to purchase tickets in person, you should probably arrive before 9:00 am on Monday morning. Also, bring cash or a personal check, and don’t expect to purchase more than 6 tickets total. If you have any additional questions, just give the Visitor Center a call at 540-373-4748, Monday through Saturday, 9:00 am to 5pm.

Last year, I purchased our tickets online, and didn’t have a problem. They sell out quickly though so be grab them first thing in the morning!

Oh, and don’t forget…..on the day of the train ride, bring your unwrapped toy to drop off with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Collection.

Tis the season – and remember, Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

Warmest Thanksgiving Message – Moms of Fredericksburg

By: Gina Terry, Phd

“Hi!…. Thank you!” These (and “bye”) are the only English words my Iraqi neighbor’s nephew knows. His family has recently fled continued war in Iraq to join family here in Fredericksburg. His extended family, my neighbors, also fled Iraq after my neighbor was targeted by al qaeda for aiding US forces as a translator. Their story is dramatic and heartbreaking, but it is not my story to tell.
thanksgivinggivethanks
The little boy is a dark-haired version of my son; they are the same age; they are the same height; they have the same dancing brown eyes, and the same delightful smile. They spend a tremendous amount of time yelling “hi,” “thank you,” and “bye” across the fence at each other–and giggling; they giggle a lot together.

My son and daughter shared some toys with the little boy and his brother, hence the repeated ‘thank yous.” His aunt has apologized for how much he says “hi” and “thank you,” but I reassured her that there is no need to apologize. The repetition of the two words back and forth between the children has made me notice their absence in other aspects of my life.

My daughter, when she was three, used to get frustrated when strangers we passed didn’t respond to her enthusiastic “hellos”; I had no answer for her when she asked “why didn’t they respond?” I am reminded of these conversations when I watch the boys converse; why do three year olds seem to grasp the importance of a simple greeting when many adults do not?

It is a time of Thanksgiving. I don’t have much to add to the abundance of thankful messages that will circulate this week, and I won’t wax poetic about how much my neighbors’ hardships have indeed made me thankful for my life. I will, however, suggest that before we even get to the “thank yous” that we take a moment to think of the “hellos” — of the important acknowledgement of the greater humanity that surrounds us; a humanity comprised of the people we pass on the street, the shoppers that clog the aisles of Wegmans, and of others at once similar and different from ourselves. I suggest that we take that moment to make eye contact with those we pass and say, quite simply, “hi;” in doing so, we place ourselves and the recipients of our greeting at the larger thanksgiving table that is humanity.

free vintage thanksgiving clip art
I wish our Moms of Fredericksburg readers a Happy Thanksgiving. In the spirit of two three-year old boys, I also send you a happy “hi” and “thank you” across the fence.

CYT’s Performance of Annie Continues, Fredericksburg

My six year old has never seen Annie until today, but she’s walking around the house belting out “The Sun Will Come Out” like she’s known the song forever. I grew up watching Annie, and it was all I could to do not to join the cast in song throughout their performance.

The trip to see Annie was a mother-daughter affair; we left the “boys” to go to a birthday party together. While my son (3) does well in performances, I think Annie would have been a bit too complicated for him and I was thankful for the special afternoon with my daughter. We dressed in red dresses for the occasion, and my daughter was thrilled when Annie appeared onstage in the final act in her red dress. It was a wonderful performance; the talent of CYT’s young and enthusiastic cast is nothing short of impressive. We can’t wait to see Peter Pan in the spring (we’ll bring the youngest then).

It’s not too late to introduce the younger generation to the 1977 classic, or to reintroduce yourself to Annie’s optimistic songs, lively numbers, and heart-warming story. Like CYT on Facebook to see the pictures from this weekend’s show.

CYT Annie

CYT’s performance continues next weekend.
Friday, Nov 29th – 7:00pm
Saturday, Nov 30th – 2:00pm, 7:00pm
Sunday, Dec 1st – 3:00pm

$14 – Individual Online
$15 – At-the-Door Price
$12 – Group Discount (10 ticket minimum)

DIY Christmas Gifts – Bottle of Lights

Recently, my family attended an event where gift items were up for bid. I noticed one particular item, a really beautiful handmade bottle of lights. It immediately gave me an idea to recreate the bottles with my husband and hand them out as gifts this Christmas. We searched the internet for a few “how to’s and then determined what tools/materials we would need to start our craft project. (Note, we are NOT “crafty” folks, although the recipients of our bottles, thus far, have been really impressed). I think the personalization you impart upon a homemade gift installs great value to the recipient, knowing it was crafted just for them!

Here’s a little tutorial of what you need, and how to complete this DIY Christmas present. By the way, I recently attended the Fredericksburg Holiday Craft Show and saw similar bottles of lights for no less than $20 a piece! DIY cuts two thirds off the price, if not more!!

Supplies

  • Any bottle that you can stuff lights into. Wine bottles, or ones like we found at Wegmans and Joann’s Fabric. Each is roughly $2.99.
  • Clear bottles painted with 1 coat of acrylic paint.

  • Acrylic paint and brushes (I opted for Martha Stewarts’ line because the pearlized colors were neat). Each bottle ranged from $1.99-2.99). Brushes are really inexpensive, so I recommend different sizes for painting the entire bottle a solid color, or fine details. OR, you can grab some Martha Stewart Adhesive Stencils like these!
  • 1 box (per bottle) of 20 or 35 Mini Lights with only 1 plug. Not the ones where you have the ability to connect them as extensions to other sets, like this: (Insert photo)

Lights with only one outlet and no connector.

Drilling Glass

You will need to purchase a diamond style bit specifically made for cutting glass. It looks like a small metal tube. They retail for a little over $10. Make sure you have safety glasses and some WD-40. Lay the bottle on the ground, preferably on a piece of carpet. Spray the end of the bit with WD-40 and start pressing the bottom lip of the bit into the glass. Spray WD-40 into the bit occasional to prevent it from overheating. As you push further into the glass, direct the entire bit into the glass. When you remove the bit from the glass, a circular cut should be visible. Keep pressing and spraying until the bit breaks through. Be careful not to push too hard or you’ll break the bottle. The whole process of drilling should take about a minute, two max.

Note safety glasses!

Here are some pictures of our final products!
Before lights....

After lights!

Annie – Family Musical in Fredericksburg

By: Gina Terry, Phd

CYT Fredericksburg Annie

Joshua Johnson, aka “Rooster,” informed me “THIS is the show to see.” “This” is the Christian Youth Theater’s (CYT) performance of Annie, and 92 area children from ages 8-18 will be on stage this month for the show.

Children interested in performing with CYT can audition for any of the company’s three performances a year or they can opt to take classes on a variety of performance topics. Performers commit to weeks of intensive training, rehearsals, and practice. No one I spoke with complained about the time; instead, several people got emotional at the thought of turning 18 and no longer being able to perform with CYT. Many come back after high school graduation to work as volunteers.
Rachael Baciocco, who at 18 has been “aged out” of performing for CYT, now serves as the Stage Manager. When I asked why she had returned, she responded that she wanted to “give back” to the organization that provided her with so much education and support. The group fosters a sense of mentorship that is nothing but impressive, and the desire to share one’s talents, to teach others, and to reciprocate the process was a prevalent theme in conversations with CYT members; “giving” and “contributing” came up repeatedly. Allison Mayberry, CYT’s Marketing Director, emphasized that CYT makes giving back to the community a part of its mission; in addition to year round community service projects, CYT supports various non-profit organizations with collections at each show.

The production would not be possible without the support of an army of backstage parents and volunteers who give of their time and talents. Parents comprise much of the live orchestra accompanying the show, and parents were busy sewing costumes during my visit. The behind-the-scenes dedication to detail was notable. Renee Elton, a volunteer mom and CYT’s costume designer, chose vintage patterns for the costumes. Parents also volunteered Sandy, a yellow-lab really named Sandy; Sandy was, like her dozens of human counterparts, dutifully and patiently attending Saturday rehearsals.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the production of Annie will be stellar. Additionally, know that your bottom dollar supports a worthy organization. Annie runs from November 22-24, and November 29-December 1. Ticket prices are $14 in advance and $15 at the door; proceeds go to support the next performance (Peter Pan – fun!) and to help CYT work towards their goal of obtaining their own, permanent facility.

Cable Options in Fredericksburg – Bundle of Love?

Did you “bundle” with your local cable company? You know what I’m
talking about…Combining cable TV, internet, and home phone services together because it SEEMS like a great deal? The introductory rates advertised sound pretty cheap, EXCEPT for the fact that they really are, ONLY “introductory” rates. What that normally means is you’ll get the advertised rate for the first of a multi-year contract. But, after that...WATCH OUT! The charges take off like a 747, soaring straight into
the clouds.

And that’s only the beginning. Have an HD TV? Well then, most likely,
you’ll want to step up to the HDMI box and cable. Hear that wind blowing
by you? It’s the sound of your hard earned money flying out of your
pocket.

Have multiple televisions in your home? Well, each box has a price,
literally. Oh, and it’s a MONTHLY price. The cable companies do not want you worrying about such mundane charges though. That’s why those introductory rates look SO GOOD.

Want an unlisted number? Cha-ching! Another nearly $5 charge, EACH and EVERY month!

Oh, ladies, it *DOES* get better. Should you decide, like my husband and I recently did, to forgo the cable and home phone, get ready for serious sticker shock when you’re told the price of each service individually. We incorrectly thought our “bundle” would split the total cost of $114 per month evenly between the three services. NOT SO! Our “fantasy” of paying around $40 or less for the internet went up in smoke when we were advised
it was going to be $69.99!! ALMOST DOUBLE!!! So, although, we still feel like the right decision was made, it certainly didn’t save us as much as we anticipated.

Now, for the good news. The lack of television hasn’t hurt us, or our children, in the least. In fact, I’d say we are much better off without it. Now, our children watch DVDs, something my husband and I can easily monitor. No more worrying about the show, and the commercials, being inappropriate for their age.

This decision was a hard one but in the end, we’ll have an extra couple thousand (YES thousand!) dollars a year to put toward something that will create long-lasting memories. Maybe a vacation or even a family dog?! Yes – we bartered with the kids and we couldn’t be happier with their decision – Jack the Goldendoodle.

virginia goldendoodle puppy

Moms of Fredericksburg Recipe Swap – Asian Cook – IN

Another successful recipe to share with all my friends: “Ginger Infused Honey Chicken.” I opted to make the meal entirely gluten free. This had more to do with the fact that I simply couldn’t resist the Pad Thai Rice Noodles in the Asian food aisle at Target. I also tried gluten free Tamari for the first time. I wasn’t sure if it would taste good BUT, the ingredients label didn’t have any scary chemical preservatives, so I gave it a try. You know what? I wasn’t at all disappointed with the flavor. If you’re wondering what the difference is between tamari and soy sauce, essentially, tamari has little to no wheat, and more soybeans. Both soy sauce and tamari are made with fermented soy sauce, but tamari is thicker, richer, and less salty than soy sauce.

Compliments of SkinnyMs.Com

Ingredients
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup lite soy sauce or Gluten Free Tamari
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1 knuckle freshly grated ginger root ( I use THIS shortcut)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Kosher or sea salt to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons toasted Sesame seeds – I OMITTED THESE

Directions
Cut chicken into 1″ cubes. In a small mixing bowl combine soy sauce, sesame seed oil, grated ginger, garlic, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and salt. Pour mixture over chicken and toss to coat. Cover chicken, place in the refrigerator and marinate 2-3 hours.
Heat a large skillet to medium-high, add chicken along with marinade to the skillet. Cook chicken until done, about 8-10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and honey, add to the chicken and continue cooking just until a glaze forms and the liquid thickens. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds when serving.

Here’s the final product, with added steamed broccoli! It was a truly fantastic dinner, and we have NO leftovers.

ginger infused honey chicken

Downtown Fredericksburg’s First Fitness Boutique – PITAIYO

Hey Moms (And budding artists):

If you’re looking for something fun and low stress to do this evening, I’ve got just the thing. Now, I specifically mentioned “low stress” for two reasons. One, what I’m about to tell you doesn’t cost anything and…Two, you’re attendance just might lead to a significantly enhanced sense of health and well-being. Interested? Then keep reading…

PITAIYO, an amazingly innovative fitness boutique, is hosting a “Paint the Studio” event tonight at its new downtown location on Caroline Street (right next to Foode!) from 6 – 9PM. What makes it innovative? Well, let me tell you ladies…This is NOT your typical “yoga” class! Don’t get me wrong, yoga IS a part of it. BUT, PITAIYO offers SO much more than an exercise regime. It’s a way of life…A way to recognize that we’re all in control of what we put into, and take out of, personal mantra or lifestyle. The boutique specializes in fitness bliss and empowerment, with a healthy (pun intended) dose of pampering thrown in for good measure.

pitaiyo logo
PITAIYO was developed by taking the three disciplines of Pilates – PI, Tai Chi – TAI, and Yoga – YO, to a whole new level of functional synergy and accessibility. It redefines mind and body conditioning for the masses. To find out more about their exciting and revolutionary approach to achieving lasting health and wellness , check out PITAIYO.COM.

Pitaiyo Founder and Local Mom - Alex Woodbury Kelly-Maartens

Creator/Owner, Alex Woodbury Kelly-Maartens,loves what she does, and invites all guests to show their artistic expression by painting her personal masterpiece – the PITAYIO studio. “Live” models will grace the windows from 7 – 8PM, and Kevin The Magician will be there to entertain your little ones.

Still interested? I know I am. Oh, and don’t worry if your talents fall short of Picasso and Da Vinci. It’s the experience, not necessarily the result that counts. Just like life. See you there!

Wholesome Fun for Families in Fredericksburg – A birthday party venue

By: Gina Terry, Phd

Chuck-e-Cheese’s slogan of “where a kid can be a kid” has always seemed inaccurate to me.  I find nothing reminiscent of childhood in a commercially crafted space that sends my kids into a sugar-induced frenzy and sends birthday parties scattered to the winds as each child scrambles to earn much-coveted tickets to exchange for junk. Trips to the place usually end with me craving Tylenol or a glass of wine – or both.

My children’s ideal birthday party space involves open spaces for play, room for adventure, and time outside.  Thus, for our daughter’s sixth birthday party we headed to Braehead Farm.  We rented the Red Shed, which provided us a shelter from the fall temperatures and a private space for cake and presents. Party guests gained admission to the playground in the barn lot and could swing on “horses” and “steers,” feed pigs, pet goats, play in huge sand piles (our son’s favorite activity), swing in a hayloft, and follow free-range hens across the yard.  We had the added benefit of having Alison’s party coincide with their Fall Festival (which runs through Nov. 3), but the farm is fun any time of the year. 
Braehead Farm, Fredericksburg
Braehead is the last remaining working farm within Fredericksburg city limits, and it is a gem of a place.  Events on the farm follow the seasons; they have strawberry picking in the summer, a pumpkin patch and hayrides in the fall, and they will have holiday events through December.  Season passes for the playground in the barn lot are available.  For the party, we had a group hayride, ran through the corn maze pretending to be chickens, balanced across a log trying to avoid the “troll” (me), and took turns swinging in the hayloft. I had planned a few party games, but we did not need them — the kids had so much fun, you guessed it, just being kids.

Connecting with Moms in Fredericksburg

On Saturday, I accepted an invitation to bake apple pies at Spotswood Baptist Church. This was their 4th annual “Take and Bake” Apple Pie event hosted by the Women’s Ministry at Spotswood. The invite read “Grab your girlfriends…. We supply everything you’ll need to create a delicious apple pie (bring your own apple peeling utensils). Make your reservation today! Suggested donation: $5/pie, $10/3 pies. ”

I invited other Moms on our Facebook page and then headed out Saturday morning to experience this event all by myself! I couldn’t find an available friend, but didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to participate in such a low key, back to basics, type of get together with other woman. PLUS, I’d be heading home with a homemade pie to share with my family AND NO messy kitchen!

Here are some photos from the event. It was so well organized, and the volunteers were all very friendly and welcoming. I met a few new ladies, while baking, and really encourage you to connect with other woman of all ages. Most of the women at my table were older, but that didn’t prevent us from having splendid conversations as we peeled and sliced our apples.

Raffle Entry!

Recipe Cards!

Grab your pie crust(s)!

And filing - it's already premeasured!

Find a table and start peeling your apples!

Ladies - all ages welcomed!


My first apple pie!

Worth every single calorie!

Lately, I’ve been truly valuing my interactions with women who aren’t in my current stage of life. (You know, younger children, 15 years into marriage, etc.). There’s great wisdom and insight to be discovered from older generations. Value ALL your friendships, especially those with a variety of backgrounds and age -each will prove to be a wonderful blessing.

Moms of Fredericksburg Recipe Swap – Candy Apple Oatmeal Cookies

By: Dina Young

I love cooking, especially baking, this time of year! Despite the doom and gloom spell our nation’s leaders have cast across our entire country, my kids are still festive and excited for Halloween.

Kind of like THESE fellas….

spooky halloween characters

Today, I decided to make an “after school” snack: homemade caramel apple oatmeal cookies. Gina and her family visited our home this weekend and introduced us to these little mouthfuls of Heaven. I have a house FULL of chocolate snobs, but they gobbled these up with the exact same goblin tenacity!

caramel apple oatmeal cookies
Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies
Cooking Light

Ingredients

6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract $
1 large egg $
3/4 cup finely chopped dried apple slices
3/4 cup caramel bits or 16 small soft caramel candies, chopped $
Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a bowl; stir well.
3. Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture; beat at low speed until just combined. Fold in apple and caramel bits.
4. Drop dough by 2 teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten balls slightly with hand. Bake at 350° for exactly 9 minutes. Cool on pans 3 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks. It should make three dozen.

caramel apple oatmeal cookies
Tips - it’s okay to cut back a little on sugar as the caramel bits are really sweet (I used Kraft)

Gina also recommended I pulverize the dried apple in a chopper to ensure the apple flavor permeates the cookies. With the help of a 12 year old Cuisinart chopper my friend Tammy bought me, those dried apples were shredded in no time at all. Can’t believe how well that thing STILL runs!

Helen Worthington, Meridian, Mississippi, Cooking Light
MARCH 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday – Furlough Frustration

As I ponder what to say this chilly Wednesday afternoon, my overwhelming thought is to figure out just what our “representatives” are doing up there on Capitol Hill. Or, maybe more realistically, what AREN’T they doing!! Did our nation’s founding fathers envision this type of leadership, or lack thereof, when they formed the basis for our federal government? What happened in the last 200 plus years to pervert the way our elected leaders are SUPPOSED to serve us? And make no mistake, they were elected to SERVE their constituents FIRST, NOT the party line.

That being the case, then why is it that many of us feel COMPLETELY vulnerable right now? The past two weeks has given me a different perspective about our nation’s leaders. We all want to trust them to honor their civic duty, to protect us, and ensure our country runs smoothly. Unfortunately, what amounts to school children arguing on the playground, these folks have taken the illusion of accountability to a new low. What is the core reason WHY the greatest country in the world cannot keep its own government running? What does this say about us to the other nations around the world?

I wonder whether these positions should be viewed as a long term career, OR as a temporary service to our fellow countrymen. IF I had to guess what our founding fathers had in mind, I bet they’d say it was the latter. Let me know what you think.

Free Family Activity in Fredericksburg

By: Gina Terry, Phd

For my birthday weekend we were supposed to go hiking at Shenandoah National Park; I’m not quite up to Dina’s Old Rag Birthday Hike, but nonetheless I wanted to spend the day hiking in the mountains with my family. The shutdown shut down that plan. Our subsequent plan involved apple picking, but the rain rained that plan out. We opted instead for a more fail-proof plan—brunch.

When we left home to try Mason Dixon Café & Bakery for brunch, we had no idea what we would do with the rest of our day. We drove past the Rappahannock Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society Museum on our way to the restaurant, and after a yummy meal, we made an impromptu decision to stop and check the place out.

The museum is staffed entirely by enthusiastic volunteers and while small, it had plenty to hold our kids’ attention. Both kids enjoyed touring the restored railcars, but their favorite part was the ride we took on the Maintenance of Way (MOW) vehicle. The small open-air train took us out across Tidewater Trail and to the main tracks that cross our region. To the kids’ delight, a freight train was on the main tracks and the conductor waved at them as he passed. The MOW does not go fast, but it was a pretty ride through the misty woods and the kids loved the experience. I should be honest here; this Mom of Fredericksburg loves trains, so I was having as much fun as the kids.

family on Rappahannock Chapter's Little Yellow Train.
The insanity of the shutdown and the persistent rain may have put a damper on my birthday plans, but I am thankful for such a fun day with my family. After all, sometimes the best birthday presents involve unplanned adventures.
The museum is open on Saturdays from 9-12; the museum and MOW are free but donations are welcome.

An Aldi Series, Part 1 — Why I Like to Shop at Aldi in Fredericksburg

Aldi
By: Melanie Cheripka

We’re fortunate to have a variety of choices for grocery stores in the Fredericksburg area. I’ve realized the key to saving money on groceries is to use coupons on health and beauty items, such as shampoo and toothpaste, and to go to Aldi or Walmart for groceries.  Sure, I go to Wegmans occasionally for my sprouted wheat bread or other “hard to find” items.  If a Trader Joe’s ever decides to open up in the area, I’ll definitely be one of their first patrons!  By the way — did you know Aldi and Trader Joe’s are owned by the same company?  But for now, Aldi is my main store for everyday food to feed my family of 7.  They have 4 locations in the Fredericksburg and Stafford area:

4173 Plank Road
Fredricksburg, VA 22407

5099 Jefferson Davis Ste C.
Fredericksburg, VA 22408

1030 Warrenton Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22406

263 Garrisonville Road
Stafford, VA 22554

When people hear I shop at Aldi, there are generally three potential reactions: “Oh I love Aldi!” or “Ew, I could never shop in a trashy place like that!” (even though they’ve never been there) or “Huh?? What’s an Aldi??”
mom grocery shopping
In this series, I want to dispel some misconceptions about Aldi, provide tips I’ve learned over the years (there IS a method to my madness!), and share some of my favorite products.  For Part One, I’d like to show you WHY I love shopping at Aldi, and have for many years.

First things first — some legalese: This series is just me stating my opinions. I have not been paid, endorsed, or affiliated in any other way by Aldi. I just like the store.

Aldi has the unfortunate reputation of being ‘the poor people’s’ store.  However, when you walk into an Aldi, the store is bright and clean, the products are always in stock and the cashiers are fast!  There is DEFINITELY a learning curve to shopping at Aldi.  The first time I shopped there, I had to go in and beg a cashier for a quarter because I don’t carry cash!  Who does these days, right?!  She gave me a look like “Oh…She’s a newbie,” and loaned me a quarter.  So to save you my embarrassment, here’s a list of what you can, and can’t, expect from Aldi:

You can expect:

  • Consistent selection — Aldi only carries the very basics in groceries.  You won’t find sprouted bread, tahini, or chia seeds at Aldi.  I’ll cover what I like buying at Aldi in a future post within this series, but rest assured, you’ll find a good selection of the basics in everything from snacks and cereals, to dairy, to baked goods and frozen items.
  • Consistently low prices — Usually, Aldi’s prices can’t be beat.  Take cereal, for example.  Aldi’s cereal is still cheaper than a sale combined with coupons at a regular grocery store!  And I never get complaints from my kids. Granted, I’ve raised them to eat what’s put in front of them, but that’s never stopped them from complaining.  How does Aldi keep their prices so low?  Well, we all know non-brand foods are usually cheaper, but if you take a look at their business model, it’s quite admirable.  For instance, they make you use a quarter to get a cart, bring your own bags, they “shelve” items in the boxes they’re shipped in, and they only accept debit cards, EBT and cash.  This means Aldi keeps overhead costs down because they don’t pay someone to retrieve the carts from the parking lot or unpack and stock shelves, provide free bags to customers, or pay any fees associated with credit cards.  This means really savings are then passed down to us!  It’s a win-win, and my bank account benefits from it.
  • Consistent quality – Years ago, I bought a can of store brand corn from a grocery store that shall remain nameless.  Don’t worry, they’re not in town anymore.  I opened the can and about 1/4 of the corn was black!  Gross!!  I swore I would NEVER buy store brand again.  Not so with Aldi!  Like I said, I’ve been shopping there for years, and have NO complaints about THEIR quality.  As with any store, if the bananas look like they’ll be brown by the time you get home…Don’t buy them, or ask if they have more in the back.  What’s so awesome about Aldi is, if you’re not 100% happy with your purchase, they have a Double Guarantee, which means they’ll replace the item AND refund your money!  I’ve never had to utilize this but, it’s nice to know it’s there.

You shouldn’t expect:

  • A one-stop grocery store – I do about 90% of my grocery shopping at Aldi.  I get the basics at Aldi first, and then head to a different store for specialty items Aldi didn’t have.  It’s the nature of the beast, and I’m willing to shop at two different stores, IF it means I’m saving big money.
  • A quick trip – You’ll find items fast because the stores just aren’t very big.  And, did I mention, the cashiers are lighting fast?  One downside to keeping overhead low is, usually, only one or two cashiers are working, so you just might have to wait in line.  Trust me, you WON’T wait too long though…Those cashiers ARE amazing!
  • A 24 hour store – The stores in the Fredericksburg area are open M-F 9am to 9pm, Sat 9am-8pm and Sun 9am-7pm.  One soccer-filled weekend, I realized at about 8pm on Sunday night, we hadn’t done our weekly grocery shopping.  My husband headed to Aldi for a “quick run,” only to find out they were closed.  It was a bit of an inconvenience but, again, they’re keeping those overhead costs down.  If it means their products are cheaper, I’m good with it!
  • A health food or organic store — Yes, Aldi IS starting to carry more and more organics.  But, it’s definitely NOT Whole Foods or Wegmans.  If, however, you buy what organics they DO carry, THEN go to Wegman’s to finish your list, you’ll STILL be saving money!  Aldi DOES have a healthier line of food called Fit & Active.  I’ve tried their protein bars, and they’re delicious!  They don’t have much of a gluten free selection BUT they DID ask on their Facebook page what customers wanted to see, and the overwhelming response was gluten free!  Hopefully, we’ll soon see gluten free foods stocked on their shelves.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series!  Have you shopped at Aldi yet?  What did you like or not like?

Day Trip from Fredericksburg – Annapolis, MD

By: Dina Young

Do you enjoy the water?…History rich with military tradition?…Great food, shopping, and activities for the entire family? If so, you REALLY need to check out Annapolis, Maryland. It’s got all this and SO much more! Plus, at just over an hour from Fredericksburg, your little ones (hopefully) won’t be asking the dreaded, “Are we there yet?” The historical downtown area is lined with brick streets, gorgeous colonial style residences and business establishments, along with ANYTHING nautical in nature. Considering, it’s home to the United States Naval Academy, it certainly should!
downtown annapolis
Restaurants range from an authentic Irish pub, Galway Bay, visited by the Food Network’s Guy Fieri to the reserved, elegant atmosphere of Harry Brown’s, just off the State House. If you can’t find your type of food, it doesn’t exist! How’s that for a dare?
But, food is only a part of the overall experience. If you find yourself enjoying Annapolis too much to leave, rest assured there is an enormous assortment of Bed and Breakfasts, or hotels, throughout the city to suits any taste, AND purse (Or wallet, as the case might be). Most are within easy walking distance of the downtown area. And if, you would rather not walk, the city also runs a FREE trolley service. Or take a ride on one of the water taxis that shuttle visitors up and down the harbor area for a small fee. Trust me, your kids will love it. My husband and I spent over an hour on one recently because our kids were having too much fun to get off.
downtown annapolis
And speaking of boating activities, you REALLY need to check out the Schooner Woodwind public cruises. They have day and evening cruises available during the week and on weekends. My husband surprised me with a sunset cruise, and it was nothing short of breathtaking. We sailed out into the Chesapeake Bay, gliding right by the Naval Academy, while the crew served refreshments. The view from the boat, watching as the sun’s orange, pink, and purple rays settled over the historic city was AMAZING.
annapolis sunset
There is always SOMETHING going on during the weekends in Annapolis. Here’s a link to events in Annapolis! We were fortunate to attend the Fall Festival with its’ homemade food, drinks, beautiful artwork by very talented, local artists, and too many other wonderful creations to list here.

Neither of us wanted to leave. And, neither will you.

Recipe Share – Inspiration in the Kitchen for Moms

Recipe sharing is my thing. After all, I love food: preparing it, eating it, talking about it…and tweaking the recipes themselves. I like to call it my way of improvising. As a busy mom, I’m not always free to run out for a missing ingredient. THIS WEEK I’m especially unable to splurge on grocery items unlikely to be used in several weekly meals. The government showdown (I mean shutdown) means gourmet mommy chef turns “bottom drawer” cook. I am, however, sick and tired of the same old dinners and feel really comfortable in the kitchen. It’s “my place” and I’m proud of it.

So, here’s a shout out to my buddy, Erin, for inspiring me to test out some dinner muffins. Yep, muffins for dinner! But these are really fun, and since I didn’t have all of the ingredients for the Italian lasagna muffins, I adapted with some Mexican flavor. Here’s a formal recipe to follow for ingredients, measurements, etc.
mexican muffin ingredients

Moms of Fredericksburg
Mexican Dinner Muffin

Ingredients:

  • organic grass fed ground beef
  • Jack’s Special Salsa (kudos to Alicia for this recommendation!)
  • wonton wrappers
  • cheddar cheese
  • sour cream

Don’t forget to spray the muffin tin with cooking spray.

I also really find recipe reviews helpful. I don’t like to waste time on a dish that didn’t receive great reviews. I’m dealing with a picky crew who, by the way, absolutely LOVED these little suckers.

Final Product
mexican muffins

Out and About in Fredericksburg – Fall Fun for Families

By: Gina Terry, Phd

My family loves fall, festivals, good beer, and German food, so we dressed Alison in my 30+-year old dirndl from Germany and struck out for the Capital Ale House Oktoberfest downtown. Thirty minutes later, we were full of mediocre brats and had empty steins. The kids danced to some overly loud oompa music, warily eyed the snake-like line for face painting, and then looked unhappily at Steve and I. We had promised fall fun; we needed to deliver.
Snead's Farm Fredericksburg kids in front of pumpkin wagon
We made an impromptu decision to head to Snead’s Farm. It was the best decision of the day. For the next four hours, the kids tried out every swing on the property, played hide n’ seek in a Christmas Tree grove, played hide n’ seek in a Sunflower Maze, learned how to rope swing successfully, learned how not to climb on a swing that goes over a creek (I landed in the creek), and had blast. We paused our play long enough to enjoy a delicious slice of pumpkin bread with cream-cheese icing from Chambers Cakery and lemonade from Sunken Well Tavern. Then, we played tag through the pumpkin patches, told stories in a teepee, and swung some more. It was one of the most fun family-days we’ve had in a while.
young girl picking pumpkin at snead's farm, fredericksburg
We did not plan to pick pumpkins today; we had just enough cash to pay the entry fee ($10 per car on weekends/free on weekdays) and did not have any cash leftover for pumpkins, but that’s okay—it gives us an excuse to go back. We can’t wait!
(For those less inclined to traipse through pumpkin patches looking for the Great Pumpkin—or one that will do for Halloween—Snead’s also has picked pumpkins for sale. Farm produce is also available for purchase and concessions are available on weekends from Sunken Well Tavern, Chambers Cakery, and Appalachian Kettle Korn.)
snead's farm, fredericksburg

Government Shut Down – Venting in Fredericksburg

scissors cutting word budget

I’m betting the conversation at the dinner table tonight went something like, “So…Are you off tomorrow, dear?” With the government unable, as yet, to find an amicable resolution to the continuing budget crisis, those of us DIRECTLY impacted by the pending shutdown sit and wait…And pray. Needless to say, I am PISSED OFF! Is it just me, or is Congress the ONLY known entity with the ability to AVOID completing their “spelled out” job responsibilities to those they swore to represent? All in the name of party solidarity. How about holding them accountable for their action, or INACTION, as it blatantly seems? If they worked for a private corporation, would their stubborn inability to work together be seen as an asset, or liability? I think we ALL know the answer to THAT simple question. How can those with such lofty federal government positions escape unscathed for failure…After failure…After failure? Their inability to complete what SHOULD be a basic task, is nothing short of a complete travesty! How about a law that holds each and every one of them accountable for balancing the budget EVERY year!? A criminal law would give it some bite! I, for one, am sick and tired of worrying whether my family will have the money to put food on our table every few months because political party affiliation prevents stepping across the aisle and finding a true compromise. I mean, is that or is that NOT, what the entire democratic process is SUPPOSED to be about???

Chime in folks, as you may have guessed, I’m SLIGHTLY annoyed, and fully intend to stand on my little soap box tonight. There MUST be others who feel the same way I do…Counting the hours, and wondering whether or not our spouses will report to work in the morning. Thank you for listening.

Kids Eat FREE at Outback through 10/3

outback coupon

From now until October 3, 2013 kids eat FREE at Outback! The coupon is valid for Dinner only — dine-in or Curbside Take-Away® — with the purchase of an adult meal. There’s a limit of 2 coupons per visit but hey — 2 free meals is still a great way to save money while dining with your family! Click here to print the coupon!

Enjoy,
Melanie
Savvy Savings Manager

Skin Care in Fredericksburg

By: Gina Terry, Phd

I am not comfortable in my skin. I don’t mean this in a metaphorical sense, but rather in a way that those who have suffered with acne, rosacea, dry skin, and aging will understand. While the playful mermaids in the Ladyburg shop-window and the enticingly scented bath products put me at ease, I approached my skin treatment at Ladyburg with a degree of skepticism developed from years of disappointing facials. I now know better.
Licensed aesthetician Crystal Wellman made it clear that what I would be having a skin treatment, not a facial. The distinction is important and is part of what make’s Ladyburg special; both Crystal and Vikki Neulinger tailor treatments to each client’s skin. Crystal does not follow market trends without thoroughly researching products and techniques first. At the end of my appointment, I was better informed about how to tackle the causes—not the symptoms—of some of my skin problems. From diet to sunscreen, Crystal had tips on how to maintain healthy and youthful looking skin.

My skin is sensitive and facials in the past have left my skin raw; it seems like what might help one of my skin issues exasperates another. To my delight—and to my skin’s relief—this was not the case at Ladyburg. Crystal used the DermaSound, a treatment that uses ultrasonic technology, to exfoliate, clear follicles, hydrate, and deliver treatment. The DermaSound is appropriate even for high-maintenance skin like mine; as an added bonus, it even helps restore skin-elasticity, stimulate collagen, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. I left Ladyburg feeling relaxed, and I arrived home, according to my husband, looking younger.

Ladyburg offers skin treatments, Acne Clinics, a custom blending bar for fragrances, and a wonderful assortment of body products. Most importantly, Ladyburg offers clients the opportunity to become comfortable in their skin.

To learn more about Ladyburg and take a peek inside this great downtown boutique, read our blog from the grand opening one year ago!

Toast of the Town – Fredericksburg

By: Gina Terry, PhD

grogan family

Front Porch, Fredericksburg’s free monthly community magazine, aims to highlight the “community’s greatest resource, its people.” This wonderful, living resource is coming together on Sunday, September 22 from 6pm-9pm to aid the magazine’s editor, Rob Grogan. Grogan is actively undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer and lymphatic system complications, and the “Toast of the Town” event aims to raise money to help counter Grogan’s rising medical costs.

Toast of Town flyer - Fredericksburg

Readers of Front Porch are no doubt familiar with a common theme in every issue—that Fredericksburg is filled with creative and caring individuals. The event reinforces this; locals are donating the facility (Inn at the Olde Silk Mill), the food, the music, and the items available for silent auction. Restaurants providing food include Sunken Well, 25 30 Espresso, Eileen’s Bakery, Bistro Bethem, Colonial Cupcakes, Miso Asian Grill, Mason Dixon Café, and Paul’s Bakery. Auction items include several items perfect for parents in need of some pampering, including a week’s stay at the Yellow Door Cottage at Colonial Beach, a night’s stay (wine and cheese, and breakfast) at 1890 Caroline House, and massage gift certificates at Massage Envy.

Friends and family are rallying around a man described as “the thread that ties the Fredericksburg community together” (Jess Sutton). Jess Sutton , a former co-worker at Bistro Bethem and now a dear family friend, notes that Rob “tended the hearts and minds of the young staff around him.” Both Jess and Aby Bethem reminisce warmly about how Rob encourages others to find their voice and even their calling. In his editorial role at Front Porch, Aby states that as an editor Rob has ensured that the magazine represents all aspects of the arts and the community, “Every type has had a voice in the paper.”

Rob’s niece Brynn Pacitti described the community support as the best medicine for Rob’s recovery, and readers of Moms of Fredericksburg can help too; tickets for the event are $30 for individuals and $50 for couples. Tickets include food and beverages and can be purchased online at http://robstoastofthetown.eventbrite.com, at the door, or in advance at Bistro Bethem or Beck’s Antiques and Books. With music by “The Skiffle Lounge Sound” and art by several well-known local artists, this promises to be a fun, lively, event for a fun and warm member of our Fredericksburg community.

 

Fredericksburg Real Estate Market Update

August 2013 Local Real Estate Market Update, Fredericksburg, VA
By: Amy Cherry Taylor

gold home sweet home key
Have you been wondering what is going on in our local real estate market? Are you trying to figure out if now is a good time to buy or sell? Have you heard about the fluctuating rates and are trying to figure out what it means for you? There are so many questions out there about real estate and lots of speculation. We all are hearing more positive economic information from the media than we have in a long time, but those reports do not accurately express just how good our local real estate market is. We are very lucky to live in the Greater Fredericksburg region where we are always ahead of the national real estate curve due to our proximity to Washington D.C. and Richmond, and due to the fact that we are home to so many government workers and military families. The one thing to remember is that real estate is always local, and for our area this is a very good thing.

The most recent published MLS statistics are for the month of June. These stats show that in Spotsylvania County the sold dollar volume is up 44.33% from June of 2012. The average sold price is up 19.85% to $267,182 and the average days on market have decreased by -10.29% to 61 days. If you are in a first time homebuyer price range and you have a house that is in a good location and in good condition, I can tell you that in most situations you can count your days on the market on one hand! The Spotsylvania County market is booming right now and it is a great time to be both a buyer and a seller. Active listings are up by 6.78% and new listings are up 33.50%! That is wonderful for our supply and demand. With prices going up, equity is going up and more and more Sellers are able to list their home for a profit.
If you live in Stafford, sold dollar volume has increased 18.42% since June of 2012. The average sold price is up 10.44% to $295,609 and the average days on market have decreased by -7.84% to 47. Stafford has seen more of an effect from the recent furloughs, and when rates increase on higher priced homes, buying power decreases. With that being said, active listings are up 17.37% and new listings are up 38.43%!

The fact that listings are up in our region is a very important thing. We have been experiencing a 7-year low for our inventory and there have not been enough homes out there for Buyers to choose. If you are thinking of selling, now is the time to get a market analysis and see if you can list. The Buyers are out there and Sellers are getting their price! The average list price to sales price ratio in Spotsylvania is 98%, up from 96.4% last year. In Stafford it is up to 97.4%, a 1.32% increase from 96.1% last year.

If you are a new Buyer that is entering our market place, don’t fret! It is still a very good time to buy. While rates have been going up, we all have to realize that they are still in the 4’s! Historically, that is still a very low rate. The feds have guaranteed rates until the end of this year so you should definitely consider getting pre-approved and buying now. As rates increase and home prices increase your buying power decreases, as well as the sales price that you can afford. Most Sellers are still paying closing costs and negotiations are still happening so we haven’t shifted entirely into a Sellers’ market yet.

As summer begins to wind down and kids go back to school, everyone will get serious about buying or selling before the holidays. Now is a great time to get pre-approved to buy or to get a complimentary market analysis so you will know what the market means for you individually. Feel free to contact me for any of the above, or to receive stats for the specific County in which you live.

Organic Coconut Oil on sale at Amazon — just $5.99 each!

Do you use coconut oil? I do and I love it! It has so many beauty and health benefits. I like to add some to my hair, pile it on my head with a shower cap and let it sit for an hour or two. Then I shampoo it out and my hair is soft and gorgeous! It’s also a great cleanser for your face if you use the Oil Cleansing Method!

Coconut oil can get pretty expensive, though–especially organic coconut oil. Well, Amazon has a great deal on Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil going on right now! I got a 2-pack of 15 oz jars for only $5.99 each!
 

 

To get this great deal, follow this scenario:

  1. Click here. You will see the price of $14.98
  2. Clip the 15% off coupon that is right below the picture and it will take off $2.25
  3. Choose Subscribe and Save, which will take another 5-20% off (the percentage varies, depending upon how many Subscribe and Save orders you have done). 5% takes off $0.75 which leaves the final price of $11.98, which is just $5.99 per jar!

Click this image to see the deal in action!

coconut oil sale

 

Please note several things:
Amazon’s prices change frequently so you may want to snag this deal while it’s still available!

For the Subscribe and Save option, Amazon states that you can cancel the service at any time, including right after the order has shipped. Therefore, if you do not want to continue having your coconut oil automatically delivered, you need to cancel the subscribe and save service after your shipment arrives. I put a reminder in my phone! Do not cancel before your order ships or it will cancel your current order!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent!

make your own laundry soap

Laundry is a tiresome, boring, thankless task. It’s even more painful when we have to pay ridiculous amounts of money for laundry detergent. Yet we all must wear clean clothing. Sometimes you can get detergent for less by couponing but it still puts a strain on the wallet. Why not make your own detergent? I’ve got a homemade laundry soap recipe that I’ve tweaked over the years that is easy to make, affordable and actually works!

The following recipe makes a 1/2 gallon of concentrate. You will only need to use one Tablespoon per load. It works in either hot or cold water, standard or HE machines! I let the water start filling in the machine, then add the soap and then the clothing. This soap doesn’t make suds but suds do not equal clean. Trust me on this. Your clothes will be fresh and clean!

You should be able to find these ingredients at WalMart or you can order them from Amazon.

You will need:

1 bar Fels Naptha
1 cup Borax Laundry Booster
1 cup Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
4 cups hot water (plus more as needed)

Note: Follow the directions very carefully. If you add the ingredients in the wrong order you will get a grainy detergent that will not dissolve in the washing machine.

1. Grate the Fels Naptha. You can do this several ways: you can cut it into smaller chunks and then run it through a food processor or you can grate it with a hand grater. I use a hand grater.2013-07-20 13.43.10 2013-07-20 13.45.31

2. Heat the 4 cups of water to boiling over high heat in a saucepan.

3. Add the grated soap to the water, reduce heat to medium. You need to stir the soap almost constantly to ensure that it doesn’t boil over. If you notice that a lot of bubbles are forming, you need to reduce the heat. DO NOT let it boil!! Just let it simmer. It takes about 10-15 minutes for the Fels Naptha to dissolve.

2013-07-20 13.53.202013-07-20 14.03.39 2013-07-20 14.01.21

4. When the Fels Naptha has completely dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir constantly until the powders are dissolved. You will be able to feel the grainy powder on the bottom of the saucepan as you’re stirring. Once you no longer feel the graininess, the powders are dissolved. Take the extra time during this step to ensure that you don’t under stir because the soaps will not be incorporated fully and you will end up with grainy soap.2013-07-20 14.03.15

5. Pour the liquid equally into (2) 1 qt Mason jars. It will work out to be about 2 1/2 cups each.

6. Add enough hot water to bring the contents to the shoulders of the jar, giving it about 1″ of head space, as you can see in this picture.

2013-07-20 14.09.52
7. Put the lids on the jars and turn them upside down to let the liquids separate. Let them sit for a few hours but not overnight. 2013-07-20 14.11.112013-07-20 16.10.21
8. Take the lids off of the jars and use a knife to cut up the solidified part of the soap. If you don’t do this step the solidified soap won’t whip nicely.2013-07-20 16.21.07
9. Screw the bottom part of your blender onto the mouth of the jar. Place it on your blender and give it a whirl!2013-07-20 16.21.27 2013-07-20 16.13.48 2013-07-20 16.18.25

 

Your soap should have a smooth and creamy consistency, like mayonnaise. Add 1 Tablespoon to any type of washer–conventional, front loading, high capacity and high efficiency. Do not add the detergent to the detergent compartment but rather directly in with the dirty clothes. Your clothes will come out smelling clean, not perfumey. I have 5 children — 3 of them are in soccer and 2 of them are under the age of 2 so you can imagine the stains that I have to deal with! This soap gets it all clean and costs pennies to make.

Have fun!

Melanie

Savvy Savings & DIY Manager

Day Trip from Fredericksburg – Old Rag Mountain, Shenandoah

I celebrated my birthday this weekend and had a chance to experience the amazingly beautiful scenery of Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. A low-key day trip was exactly what the doctor prescribed as I entered the first day of my last year in my 30′s. The weather was out of character for a Virginia August, crisp, blue skies, and little humidity. My inner voice couldn’t stop saying, “this weather could not be more ideal for a hike!” I also couldn’t help but remind myself that the views from the top of Old Rag Mountain would be even more spectacular. Fresh air, beautiful views, exercise, and tranquility could not be more ideal for the “namaste state of mind” I intended on acquiring. Another perk with this year’s birthday extravaganza, it did not break the household bank.

old rag mountain

Did you know that our beautiful State of Virginia has over 40 national parks? The Shenandoah National Park is one of the larger most enjoyable locations in my opinion because of the variety of family friendly activities: camping, hiking, Skyline Drive, waterfalls, wildlife and more. Old Rag is one of the most popular hikes in the park and I soon discovered that it takes skill to make it to the top. But I’ve been training for about 9 years now; ironically the number of years ago that I gave birth to my oldest son. Lol!

old rag mountain
The drive to Old Rag Mountain was less than 1.5 hours of country back roads. Since it’s a day-trip, be sure to pack lunch, water, sunscreen, and a camera to capture the great views. Here’s a great link with information to help prepare to hike Old Rag Mountain. Based on my first hand experience, I would say the following tips are very helpful:

  • Hikers should be physically able to hike about 9 miles with significant elevation change and strenuous rock scrambles. A shout out to my Pitaiyo instructors for helping me strengthen my core. Upper body strength also helped me reach the summit.
  • Sturdy shoes with a grip to avoid slipping. No sneakers because the rocks are slippery suckers!
  • Plan to be on your feet for 7 to 8 hours. It’s not a “pt” event so pace yourself and enjoy the stunning views.
  • No cell coverage. For safety reasons, be sure to hike with a partner and stay with a group if possible. Our first mile up we found a man that needed medical attention, but luckily, with the help of other hikers, he got quick medical attention. It was a scary situation because we had no way of reaching help other than to wait for a quick thinking hiker to run back down to the ranger station for assistance.

moms of fredericksburg hiking old rag mountain
Prepared with these tips hikers can enjoy the journey – and the view. The summit of Old Rag Mountain was breathtaking! It was worth the effort, and I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with friends during future hikes.

Moms of Fredericksburg Savings Tips – Couponing

Mom Cents Savings Edition – Couponing, 8 STEPS TO HAVING ¢ENTS!
By: Melanie Cheripka
**Caution** The following is a lot of information. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and enjoy. Don’t feel like you have to remember all of this–it will always be here for you to reference!

piggy bank with coupons
Step 1: Change the way you think about shopping
You’ve been there –  you have $20 in your pocket and diapers, milk and toothpaste on the shopping list. And the Macklemore song is now stuck in your head (you’re welcome). As you approach the cash register you have an idea of how much you’re spending, but you’re hoping the taxes don’t push you over the edge and you have to choose between diapers or milk or fresh breath.
There’s no need to have to choose! What would you say if I told you that one time I got three packages of diapers — Pampers, no less — for free?! It’s possible, dear reader, with just a little bit of effort and by changing the way you think.

I refuse to pay full price for anything anymore unless I really have to do so, but when I do pay full price I’m not happy about it and I make sure everyone around me knows that I’m not happy about it. Manufacturers give out coupons and stores have promotions to attract your business. Why not combine the two (in accordance with store policies, of course) and pay far less than full price?

In addition to changing my shopping approach, I also got rid of the thinking that I had to “buy everything in one store, in one trip.” I used to get everything at WalMart and cringed when my total for one week was nearly $300. Now my food bill at Aldi averages $150 and when I get toiletries at Rite Aid or CVS I spend less than $20. By couponing and changing my shopping strategies, I walk away with money to spend. Not bad for a family of 7!
Step 2: Gather your coupons

Ok, so I’ve convinced you to coupon. [I think there needs to be more above to “convince” readers to coupon. This will make the transition into couponing itself smoother. ] Now where to get coupons? Well, obviously the Sunday paper. But you can also get them online such as the coupons I offer here, on manufacturer’s websites or from Facebook pages, etc.

So how many newspapers should you buy? I only buy two. I don’t have the room to stockpile 40 of a certain item and I think it’s selfish to clear the store shelves. Nothing is more frustrating than being excited about a sale only to find the shelf is cleared. It’s disrespectful, in my opinion, of our fellow couponers. If you can’t afford a paper (or two) you can ask friends or family for their papers! Also, you may want to call the newspaper and ask what inserts they have in their paper. The closer you live to a big city, the better your coupons will be. I don’t buy my local paper because there aren’t as many coupons as there are in the paper of big city nearby; I live in an area around Washington D.C. and the Washington Post carries far better coupons than my local paper.

For online coupons, most sites require that you download and install their software before you print coupons and they may even ask for personal information, such as your date of birth. Don’t be deterred by these requirements as printing coupons from your home computer is completely safe, especially from legitimate companies like coupons.com, smartsource.com and redplum.com. I provide links from my site, and remember I’ll never send you to a site that I don’t use myself!

Sometimes, manufacturers have coupons on their websites. These are usually offered in exchange for you signing up for an account on their site. I’ve got a separate email account just for this purpose and I recommend that you do the same as these companies usually send follow up emails and you may not want your regular email account filled up with these messages.
When the sites ask for personal information, such as your date of birth, it’s usually just to insure that you are over 18. If you aren’t comfortable with this you can give a date similar to yours (01/01/year of your birth). In addition, you may want to select “Autofill” on your browser to speed up the process when filling out applications for coupons.

A time saving tip: Don’t clip a coupon just because it’s there. Only clip coupons for things you’ll actually use. There’s no point in stockpiling on an item you’ll never use just because you have a coupon.

Step 3: Get organized

There are 3 methods to organizing your coupons and there is no wrong or right way to organize them! I’ve tried all 3 of these methods and finally settled on a method that works for me. I’ll probably go back to another method at some point because I like to keep things interesting.

By Category
This is the method I started with. It involves a notebook and baseball card holders. Basically, after you clip your coupons you add them to the proper category (toothpaste, diapers, etc). I liked how manageable this system was, but I quit using this system because I don’t want to lug a big ol’ notebook into the store when I go shopping. In theory, you can plan your trip and pull the coupons out ahead of time and leave your notebook at home. But I like taking my coupons with me into the store in case I find something on clearance that I didn’t know about and need a coupon. Should you choose this method, you’ll need a huge 3 ring binder and about 60 pages of baseball card holder sheets. You can find these at WalMart, Target or Staples.

By Date
This is by far the easiest way to organize coupons. However, for me it got out of hand and I ended up throwing coupons away. I had a big plastic bin and after I would get the Sunday paper I would write the date on the top page of the insert. Then I would put each insert from that date into a sheet protector and place the sheet protector in the bin. Then, when I needed a coupon I would find the date that the coupon corresponded to and clip it. I had several problems with this method. First, I had nowhere to store the coupons that didn’t come from the paper, such as coupons that I printed or coupons that came with free samples I got in the mail. Second, I couldn’t take my coupons shopping with me. Who wants to lug a big bin into the store?! Not me.

By Alphabet
This is the method I’ve finally settled on…for now. I’ve got a small accordion file folder that I got at WalMart for about $1 and I wrote ABC, DEF, GHI, etc on the tabs. Then, after I’ve clipped the coupons, I put them in their corresponding section. (Garnier would go in the GHI section, Colgate in ABC, etc). I like this system because I can easily throw the thing in my purse or diaper bag and take it into the store with me.

Step 4: Lingo that makes ¢ents

Below are some abbreviations from The Krazy Coupon Lady I may use when writing about deals.

$1.00/1, $2.00/1, etc: One dollar off one product, two dollars off one product, etc.
$1.00/2, $2.00/2, etc: One dollar off two products, two dollars off two products, etc. You must buy 2 items to receive any savings; you cannot redeem the coupon on one product for half the value.
BOGO: Buy one, get one.  Will usually end with “free” or “half off” meaning buy one, get one half off, or buy one get one free.
B1G1, B2G1: Another way to write ‘buy one, get one’.  The “B” stands for “buy”, the G stands for “get”.  The numbers indicate how many of a product you must buy to qualify and the number of products you get when you redeem the coupon or offer.  B1G1= Buy one, get one.  B2G1= Buy two, get one B2G2= Buy two, get two
Blinkie: Manufacturer coupons dispensed by coupon machines found in grocery aisles next to products.  Recognize them by the blinking red light.  These dispense coupons one at a time in intervals.  Manufacturer blinkie coupons may be redeemed at any store, not necessarily the store in which you found them.
Catalina: Sometimes abbreviated as “CAT,” Catalina coupon machines located at registers dispense long receipt-like coupons that may be used on a future purchase.  Catalinas, refer to the coupons themselves which may be manufacturer or store coupons.  Some Catalina coupons are advertised and some are generated based on consumer behavior.
Coupon Insert: Coupon circulars inserted into Sunday newspapers amongst the other advertisements.  Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP) and Proctor and Gamble (PG) put out coupon inserts, sometimes just called “inserts”. Coupon inserts are a valuable money-saving tool and I recommend buying two Sunday newspapers in order to have enough coupons to create a stockpile.
Coupon: a note from a store or manufacturer that entitles shopper to a discount on specific product.  Coupons may be clipped from the newspaper, printed from the internet or even downloaded to your store loyalty card.
Double Coupons: Select stores always double coupons up to a certain value, usually $0.50.  If your store doubles coupons up to $0.50 off, any coupon that is $0.50 or under will be doubled in value.  Coupons $0.51 or greater will be worth face value, no doubling.  You do not need to present two coupons for one item.  Each coupon will be worth twice the value.  Other stores may double coupons on a particular week day, usually a slower day like Tuesday.  Other stores may offer physical store ‘twice-the-value’ coupons.  Even other stores may feature double coupons on a special promo week basis and will advertise this in their weekly ad.
EB:  CVS pharmacy Extra Buck program. With qualifying purchases, you receive EBs to be used like cash on your next purchase. These are printed at the bottom of your receipt so save those receipts!
eCoupons: Electronic coupons may be downloaded onto your store loyalty card or cell phone.  Download these from your PC or go mobile and download to your loyalty card through your cell phone.  Grocery coupons must be downloaded to your loyalty card and will be deducted automatically when you swipe your card at checkout.  E-coupons may be downloaded to your cell-phone for other retail items such as movie rentals.  Download a coupon using the mobile ap and show your discount code to your cashier.
EXP: Expires or Expiration Date
IE:  Internet Explorer.  When a printable coupon specifies IE or FF (Firefox), you must click the link that coordinates with the browser you’re using.
MIR: Mail in Rebate, refers to rebates which must be submitted by mail.  These are the traditional rebates that require you to mail in both your receipt and proof of purchase in the form of UPC barcodes.
Manufacturer: The company who produces the brand items:  Dove soap manufacturer, Pace Salsa manufacturer, etc.
MFR: Manufacturer abbreviation.
Manufacturer Coupon: A coupon created by the manufacturer, or by a marketing company on the manufacturer’s behalf.  Manufacturer offers a discount to shoppers in order to entice them to buy their product.  When a coupon is redeemed the manufacturer reimburses the store for the entire value of the coupon, plus a handling fee, approx $0.08.
OOP: Out-of-Pocket; refers to the amount of money you will pay a store to make your purchase.  This does not include after-purchase savings, coupons or rebates.
OYNO: On Your Next Order.  Store promos such as Spend $25, save $10 on your next shopping order.  OYNO refers to savings that you will not see on your first transaction, but that may be applied to your next purchase.  Most OYNO coupons have no minimum purchase.  If you spend $25 and receive a coupon worth $10 off your next order, there is no minimum purchase on that next order.  If you spend a value over $10, you may redeem your coupon.  If you spend under $10, you may use your coupon, but you will forfeit the difference.
One Coupon per Purchase:  Refers to your ability to use one coupon per item.  This is meant to enforce the point that you may not use two of the exact same coupon for one item.
One Coupon per Transaction: Limits you to only using one of this coupon per transaction.  You may request to do separate transactions.  Example:  If you have 5 coupons that read “one coupon per transaction” you may request to separate into 5 transactions and pay 5 times.
Peelie:  Adhesive manufacturer coupons found on products in the store.  Peelies are often good on a wider selection of products than the one it is stuck to.  Be sure to read the fine print on the peelie to discover if the coupon may be used on a smaller size or different variety of the same product, to allow you to maximize savings.
P&G: Proctor and Gamble manufacture a wide range of consumer goods and are one of the largest corporations in the world.  Proctor and Gamble puts out monthly coupon inserts filled with coupons for a variety of Proctor and Gamble produced brands, just a few of which include Always, Bounty, Crest, Dawn, Gillette, Olay, Pampers and Tide.
Raincheck: A Rain Check is a written slip that you can request from a store when a sale item is out of stock.  When the store restocks the item, after the sale period is over, a rain check entitles you to purchase for the previous sale price.  The store may include an expiration date as well as a quantity limit on your rain check.  Rain checks are usually issued at the customer service desk.
Rebate:  A rebate is a refund of part or the entire amount paid.  I refer to rebates as programs that offer you cash back for making a qualified purchase.  Rebates are sponsored by a store or a manufacturer.  Either clip and mail UPC barcodes or enter receipt proof of purchase online, then wait for your rebate check in the mail.
RP: Red Plum; formerly known as Vallasis, Red Plum coupon inserts and website feature coupons from a variety of manufacturers.  Red Plum is part of Valassis Interactiv.
SS: Smart Source; a marketing company. Like RP, Smart Source coupon inserts and website feature coupons from a variety of manufacturers.  Smart Source is part of News America Marketing Co.  Smart Source coupon inserts can be found in most Sunday papers.
Stacking: Stacking may refer to using any two promotions together.  When a coupon coincides with a promotion, we say “stack the coupon with the sale or promotion”.
Stacking Coupons:  Stacking coupons refers to using both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on one product.  Nearly all stores will allow you to “stack.” Only one manufacturer coupon may be used per item.
Store Coupon:  A coupon created by the store to entice you to buy a certain product at their store.  Stores receive no reimbursement from store coupons.  Store coupons may be found in the weekly ad, printed online or downloaded as e-coupons.
Store Loyalty Card:  A free card which you present at checkout to receive additional savings. These require a short application to fill out before you receive a loyalty card at your local grocer.  If you don’t want to carry the card, the cashier can look up your preferred card by entering your ten digit phone number.
Transaction: a transaction refers to your entire purchase, especially the payment you make for that purchase.  If I buy 30 items and then pay the cashier, I just made one transaction.
UPC: Universal Product Code. Bar code printed on product packages that can be scanned electronically.
WYB:  When You Buy.  Some sales or coupons require purchase of multiple items.  When reporting a deal I always include a final price.  Example:  Buy 2 Mint Milano cookies $2.00 each, use 2 $1.00/2 coupons, Final Price: $1.50 each, WYB 2.  You must buy 2 in order to use the $1.00/2 coupon, so the final price states “WYB 2″.

Step 5: Plan your attack

I cut out and organize my coupons every Sunday evening. It only takes about an hour and I can get it done while watching something mind-numbing on TV. Like Housewives…
Then, on Monday I plan out my shopping trips. You can check here every week for the weekly matchups. I use a spreadsheet to work out what I want to buy and how much I’ll be saving. I like to know how much I’ll be spending OOP and how much in rewards I should be receiving. If you’d like the spreadsheet I use, you can find it on my Facebook page and get it for free if you’re a fan. If you’re not a fan yet, like the page and it’s yours!

Step 6: Time your attack

In couponing, timing is everything! Have you ever taken a coupon to the store, intending to save on some name-brand product, only to find that the generic is cheaper still? Success in couponing is much less about what coupons you have and much more about when you use them.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is using a coupon just because you have it. The key is to wait until that item goes on sale or the store runs a promotion. Nearly all stores run a weekly ad with newly slashed prices and great promotions like: Buy One, Get One Free or Spend $15 on these products, get $5 back or Buy 4, Save $4 Instantly. 
So how do you know when an item is going to be on sale? That’s what I’m here for. I’ll do all the research for you, all you need to do is clip the coupons and follow the blog, then you’ll start to see the sale cycles.

Step 7: $tockpiling ¢ents
By stockpiling while something is at a Rock Bottom price, you won’t have to pay full price when you have to have it. You’re going to eventually need toothpaste, right? By stockpiling when there’s a deal on toothpaste and you can get it for 25¢, you won’t have to run out to the store and spend over $4 for a tube of toothpaste. I’ll let you know when a deal is also a good stockpiling deal.

Please remember to exercise restraint when couponing. Make sure you don’t buy a year’s supply of something that has a shelf life of 6 months.

Step 8: Change your life!
Couponing successfully means you have to change the way you think. If you buy something before you need it while it’s CHEAP or FREE, you avoid having to buy at FULL PRICE when you absolutely need it!

Stockpile Kids’ Clothes

Shop end-of-season clearance racks and buy a size or two up, and shop Secondhand stores and Garage Sales for gently used, name-brand clothing. My new favorite way to accumulate kids’ clothes is to stack an Old Navy Sale or Clearance item with an Old Navy Weekly coupon.

Buy Birthday Toys on Clearance
Every year after Christmas, Target clearances most of their toy section. Take this opportunity to stock up on birthday presents for your kids, their friends, their cousins, etc.

Stock Up on Office and School Supplies

After school starts, Target clearances their student supplies. This is a great time to stock up on a year’s worth of things you’ll need for your home office, crafts, and classroom supplies.

Stock up on candy
I like to stock up on Halloween candy when it goes on sale after Easter and reverse it by stocking up on Easter candy after it goes on sale after Halloween. I know, I know–it sounds horrible, doesn’t it?! Easter candy at Halloween??? The horror!! Sorry, but my kids don’t care what’s on the wrapper, they care about the candy on the inside. And I refuse to pay $5 for a bag of mini snickers when it will be on sale after the holiday.

Cooking with Kids – Fredericksburg Wegmans

Like many children, my boys have each gone through phases when they love to help me cook.

What better time than during the dogs days of summer to creatively involve kids in ways to stay cool, AND eat ice cream, at the same time!

As some of you may already know, our local Wegmans offers a “Cooking with Kids” class for those aged 4 and, up one Saturday a month. I’ve taken my children to several of these classes and can’t recommend them enough!

By the way, Moms of Fredericksburg recently asked Wegmans to offer a weekday class and they totally hooked us up! Next time you are in Wegmans, visit the Customer Service desk to register in person. It’s the only way to sign-up.

Cooking with Kids at Wegmans

Hope to see you there!

Fredericksburg Firebirds – A great option for date night and dining out with kids

Dining Out in Fredericksburg Edition: By Melanie Cheripka

Date nights are hard to come by these days with five children and two jobs. So when my husband and I had the rare opportunity to go out on a Saturday night, we had to decide where to go. I had been to Firebirds in Spotsylvania Towne Centre previously for drinks after work, and I thought it would be a great place to dine and wanted to try it out. We made a good choice in heading to Firebirds for our date night. We left four of the kids at home with my mom and brought the baby along as she doesn’t like me leaving her; I’m happy to oblige and bring her along.

The restaurant has a lounge that includes a well-stocked bar, called the Firebar, featuring a vast selection of their signature martinis, cocktails and margaritas. Currently, their Happy Hour specials are half-priced Firebar appetizers and drink specials every Monday through Thursday from 3-7 pm.

firebirds chicken wings

The menu has a great selection so it took us a few minutes to decide what to order. Even Firebirds’ kids menu has great selections, featuring kid favorites like chicken fingers (not the frozen stuff, freshly made breaded chicken) and mac and cheese. For our appetizers, I chose the Ranch Rings, and my husband ordered the Smoked Chicken Wings. He considers himself a wing connoisseur and has been known to never set foot inside a restaurant again simply because he didn’t like their wings. I’m happy to say that we will be setting foot in Firebirds again—my husband said the wings were some of the best he has had! Our main courses were the Grilled Tenderloin Salad and Filet Mignon. Our selections were delicious and the serving sizes were just right. The prices are on the high side, but trust me when I say that the food is worth every penny. Plus, in my opinion, date nights shouldn’t have a price restriction.

Firebirds onion rings, tortilla chips and breaded ribs
Firebirds’ dark yet lively dining area is the perfect setting for a date or mom’s night out. The restaurant was full of customers yet our attentive and welcoming waiter treated us like we were his only customers. They were accommodating to the baby and I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my other children the next time we visit. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience and I would definitely recommend Firebirds as a top choice for your next special occasion or family night out.

Local Savings Hotspot – Target

Mom Cents Savings Edition – Tips for Shopping Target
By: Melanie Cheripka

Target is my favorite go-to store for everything I could possibly need — the latest fashions, organic and natural foods, toys, electronics and the latest in home décor – all for reasonable prices! Target is a couponer’s dream store because they allow you to stack manufacturer coupons with their coupons, they match ads, and they give you 5% off when you use your Target REDcard! Target’s clearance aisles are a great opportunity to save even more money and I’m going to teach you how.
how to shop target's clearance aisles
Every department in Target has a specific clearance spot. The clothing departments usually have several clearance racks and the other departments have end caps at the end of the aisles with clearance products visibly displayed.

Target marks their products down weekly, so you’re sure to find something new every week. All Target inventory goes through a markdown phase that is in set increments: 15%, 30%, 50%, 70% and so on until the item sells. Target has an “unofficial” schedule of their markdowns. Knowing this schedule will help you take advantage of the best deals and will help you know exactly when to look for them.

target clearance collage
Monday: Baby items, children’s clothing, electronics, and office supplies/gift wrap/stationery
Tuesday: Home décor, women’s clothing, and domestic items
Wednesday: Food, health and beauty items, men’s clothing, toys, and garden items
Thursday: Lingerie, housewares, sporting goods, shoes, and luggage
Friday: Cosmetics, jewelry, hardware, automotive, and home improvement
And don’t forget to use a coupon on a clearance item to save even more money! This is the perfect time to take your entire collection of coupons with you because you never know what you’re going to find on clearance.

How to Read Target Clearance Tags

When an item goes on clearance at Target, the first markdown is usually 15%. You can tell exactly how much the item has been marked down by looking at the upper right hand corner of the red clearance tag. If you see the number 15, it is marked down 15%; 30, it is marked down 30%; 50, it is marked down 50%, etc. The original price of the product will always be listed on the left-hand side next to the word “was,” and the new price of the item on clearance will be located on the right, next to the word “now.” The last digit of the item will typically end in the numbers 6 or 8, ie. $2.96 as seen in the first example above.

Price Tags Ending With $0.06 or $0.08
If the price of the item on clearance ends in $0.06 or $0.08, the item will be marked down again during the next markdown cycle as long as there is inventory in the store. The item typically will remain at the next percentage off for two weeks before progressing to the next level.

Price Tags Ending With $0.04
If the last number in the price of the item ends in $0.04, the item has been marked for final clearance and this is the lowest price that Target will sell the item, as in the Irish Cream in the example above.

Random Price Tag Endings
Often, Target’s clearance price tags will end with $0.00, $0.01, $0.05, $0.07, etc. These price endings are arbitrary and simply indicate that an item is on clearance and will continue on its clearance cycle.

Sectioned Clearances
Seasonal merchandise such as holiday, back-to-school, and summer items are examples of sectioned clearances. These items will be reduced at a much faster rate than the typical two-week cycle because Target needs the space for new inventory. Often the prices begin at 50% off, and are then are reduced to 70% off, and then continue up to 90% off within two weeks.

Will the price ever be cheaper? If you find yourself asking this, you then need to ask yourself if you really need the product now. If the answer is “yes,” then perhaps it’s the best time to make the purchase since inventory won’t be replenished. If you want to see how low it can go, remember that Target’s policy is to mark down items in two-week increments and then plan accordingly.

Back to School Tax Free Day

Mom Cents Savings Edition – Back to School Tax Free Day
By: Melanie Cheripka

Hey Moms, the new school year is fast approaching, and you know what that means? No more screaming kids in the house during the day!

This year, Virginia is having a tax free weekend on August 2-4. During this period, purchases of school supplies that cost less than $20 per item, and clothing/footwear that are $100 or less will be tax free!*

Now is the perfect time to get your coupons and supply lists together so you can shop “till you drop.” I’ve already done the tedious part for you by matching coupons with sales. A comprehensive list is provided below. If you go to Target, don’t forget to use your REDcard to get an extra 5% back!

blocks spelling back to school

 


Fredericksburg to New Jersey – Up close with Bon Jovi

On Thursday, July 25, I drove back to my hometown in New Jersey to attend the Bon Jovi “Because We Can” concert with my super cool rockstar status mom, yep, aka “grandma!” Grandma treated her only daughter to VIP style attendance with our favorite band of all time! It was so exciting, and memorable, ladies. I just had to bring back some photos to share with you all! I’m a true jersey girl and will always be proud of that. Bon Jovi delivered some major vocals, moves, sweat, and million dollar smiles! I started in pit seating but eventually made my way up to row 1. I even got to shake Jon’s hand when he was on the catwalk. Hope you enjoy this post!

bon jovi vip meadowlands 2013

bon jovi meadowlands concert 2013

bon jovi meadowlands concert 2013

Lil’ Kickers Soccer – Fredericksburg Field House

I’m a soccer mom. I’m not just the type of soccer mom that drives her kids around town with a soccer magnet on the back of her minivan. No, I like to go big or go home; I manage my son’s travel team and run the website for my daughter’s travel team. I’m a wee bit involved. It’s a family thing; my husband has been coaching for 20 years and coaches a U9 travel team for a local club. We are definitely a soccer family!
We have been amused by the antics of our 2 year old lately. Following in her older siblings’ footsteps, she kicks anything resembling a ball while toddling around the house. She’s got a wicked left foot and can even get the ball into the air! I lovingly call her my little Abby Wambach. So imagine our excitement when we heard about the Lil’ Kickers Open House at Fredericksburg Field House! Finally, she was going to get to kick around a real soccer ball on a real field. She was so excited and even brought her own little ball.

toddler girl with soccer ball

When we got to the Fredericksburg Field House we were greeted by an enthusiastic young woman who said, “HI! Are you here for the Open House?” I guess the little munchkins trailing behind me gave this away. She gave me some information about the program and then we headed over to the field.
I have 5 children and my 2 year old is my fourth. One would think I would know better than to take a toddler to an event during naptime. The minute she stepped on the field she started crying. This was going to be fun.

dad and daughter playing soccer
Despite my daughter’s fussiness, the coaches were so welcoming to her, and tried to make her feel at ease. I felt bad for them because they were trying, but they weren’t getting anywhere. Most of the time she just stood there, but towards the end she started to warm up and enjoy the activities.
The folks at Fredericksburg Field House have done a wonderful job creating a program that teaches soccer skills to even the youngest (and fussiest) players. One of the games involved having the children use their feet to turn a toppled cone upright. Sure, it was a game, but it helped to build the foundations for future soccer skills, such as rollovers. The staff is kind, helpful, and knowledgeable—all of which are keys to fostering a love of soccer in your child!
The Lil’ Kickers program is for children aged 18 months to 6 years. Classes are divided by age and skill level; the first 3 age groups involve the parents, so plan on wearing comfortable clothing because you’ll be stretching and running around right next to your little one!
The cost of the Lil’ Kickers program is $125 for 10 classes; enrollment is ongoing so kids can join any time. The Fredericksburg Field House offers morning or afternoon classes Tuesday through Saturday, and there are several time slots from which to choose. We’re excited for the next class—and this time we’ll be there before nap time! I hope to see you there!

kybecca – Fredericksburg Restaurant Scene, Never Better

Dining Out in Fredericksburg Edition: By Gina Terry

kybecca seared scallops
A woman sitting next to me at kybecca may have said it best when she observed that, “a photograph can’t truly show deliciousness.”  As I sift through the photos I took of my food during my visit, I find this to be true.  I could show you pictures of what I ate and drank, but the images would not do the flavors justice.  My starter of “local pork belly braised in soy, ginger and chilies, flash-fried and served with mild, house-pickled shishito peppers,” for instance, was colorful and flavorful, but the picture does not show you that it was so good that after the first bite I wanted to call my husband to tell him how much he would love it.  However, that would have been mean.  

When the group of patrons next to me learned that it was my first visit to the restaurant they gathered around me and pointed enthusiastically at their favorites on the menu; however, I had made up my mind to try kybecca’s shrimp and grits.  Texas, despite all its culinary strengths, cannot get grits right and I was anxious to have them right again. Kybecca nailed them.  My restaurant neighbors informed me that they would not judge me if I cleaned my plate; I almost did, but I remembered that I had dessert still to come. As a coconut lover in a house of coconut haters, I was excited to have the opportunity to indulge my taste with dessert.  The Coconut Stout Tiramisu, perfect in its lightness in regards to texture, was a bit light on coconut.  Nonetheless, it was delicious.

The restaurant neighbors on the other side of me—it truly is a friendly restaurant– suggested that I try a Malbec with dinner; Malbecs are a favorite of mine and this one did not disappoint. Indeed, kybecca offers an impressive selection of wines and craft beers, and for wine lovers, an innovative enomatic machine enables diners to try a variety of wines; this could be a fun activity for a mom’s night out, or a great conversation starter for a date-night. Kybecca’s door sign states that they welcome well-supervised children, and I might consider taking my children there for brunch–if anything so that my husband can try the pork belly.  That said, the food and drink at kybecca should be savored, enjoyed, and talked over, and this style of dining is not for all children.  

kybecca cocktail

kybecca craft cocktail - Snead's Raspberry Gin Fizz

That kybecca has a loyal following was apparent in not only in the responses of those around me, but also in co-owner Rebecca’s interactions with her guests and in the popularity of Eugene, the bartender.  What is impressive about Eugene is not only his knowledge of his clients’ preferences, but also his passion for kybecca’s purpose—craft. In my conversation with Rebecca, she reiterated the restaurant’s purpose–to emphasize the handmade and whenever possible to highlight local products.  This philosophy carries through to the cocktails. With a clear knowledge of his cocktail history, Eugene spoke proudly of bartenders, who, like himself, seek to return to the age of handcrafted drinks made with handmade ingredients; the restaurant makes its own tonic water, its own grenadine, and even uses some of the juice from the pickled shishito peppers for one of their drinks.  Eugene suggested that I try a Pimm’s Cup; it tasted wonderfully of summer.

rebecca thomas at kybecca wine bar
The decor and architectural details reflect the owners’ desire to pay homage to the building’s past while also representing the restaurant’s creative present.  The past meets the present in the bar itself; the wood comes from the floors of the original building.  The atmosphere is light and airy, and although I dined alone, I dined, in an abstract way, among friends; the names of local producers that my family buys from greeted me on the menu (Snead’s Farm and Olde Towne Butcher Shop, for example). It was satisfying to know that in dining at kybecca I was supporting not only those involved in local culinary artisanship, but also other local producers.

I had learned from my Pinkadilly experience not to return empty handed, and I took an additional dessert home for my husband.  He was generous and allowed me a bite, but he devoured the Yuzu cheesecake with blueberry puree before I could photograph its deliciousness.

Fredericksburg’s July 4th Heritage Festival Itinerary

fredericksburg's July 4th Heritage Festival

heritage_festival_flyer

*Note* As of 7/2/13, the 11:30 am Rappahannock River Raft Race has been postponed due to unsafe river conditions. It’s rained for too many days! The race will now take place at 11:30 am on Saturday, July 20 at the Falmouth Waterfront Park.

We’ll mark OUR events calendar accordingly!

Pinkadilly Tea – Team Room in Fredericksburg

Dining Out in Fredericksburg Edition by: Gina Terry

Preschoolers and Pinkadilly Tea

I should have known better. I’ve been doing this mom thing for almost six years. Yet I took a tired, cranky, preschooler who had not napped out for afternoon tea at Pinkadilly.  The tea, while delightful, ended with James and I sitting in the car while my mother, father, and daughter finished the tea.  In a cruel twist, the car was parked in front of Colonial Cupcakes; a reminder of the sweets I was missing.

While Pinkadilly is open for lunch, reservations are required for tea service. We had done our research and had made reservations. We even knew what we wanted before we arrived: Queen Elizabeths for the adults, and Little Miss/Mister for the wee ones.  We made it through most of the delicious tea service before I had to deliver on my “if you do that one more time we’re going to the car” threat. And so I reluctantly left my desserts — scones, truffles, mint brownies, pina colada cupcakes, and trifle – behind and left the other diners to some quiet.

pinkadilly tea room food

I did get to enjoy the savory bits before leaving; my crab soup was delicious, the finger sandwiches truly yummy (I love a good cucumber sandwich), and I washed it all down with some wonderful black tea. The waitress had recommended a decaffeinated tea for the kids that they both liked.  My daughter had fun using sugar tongs to drop snow-white sugar cubes into her tea; we had to stop her before the sugar content of the tea negated the decaffeinated qualities of the tea.

James was not thrilled with such a late lunch and was in desperate need of a nap.  He expressed his displeasure by banging his spoon on china.  The staff was friendly and patient with my impatient two-year old, but I could tell his outbursts were disturbing others James is not one for sweets, so the tempting tower of goodies before him did not impress. He got louder, and out we went.  Tea is meant to be lingered over, not gulped in a hurry; thus, while Pinkadilly is kid-friendly, I would only recommend it for children who are well-rested, patient, and do not like to use china for percussion. My parents stayed behind to enjoy quality time with their granddaughter. I sat in the car with James, who fell asleep, and stared longingly at the cupcake shop.

Thankfully, my parents packed up my abandoned sweets to bring home.  Happy about this, I even generously declared that I would share them with my husband (who had been at work).  I should have known better.  I ate them all before he got home.

Moms of Fredericksburg Savings Tips – Homemade Cleaning Supplies

Mom Cents DIY Edition – Homemade Cleaning Supplies
By: Melanie Cheripka

Summer is here! School’s out, and the days are longer which, let’s face it, means an even messier house to clean! I don’t know about you, but one of the perks of having a ton of kids is NOT having to do all that work by myself!! That being said, I don’t want them breathing in the toxic fumes from standard cleaners. Nor do I necessarily want to spend my hard earned cash on them when I can whip up something just as good.

clothesline in summer

How to enlist your child’s help? Get them excited about it by conducting your own “HOME EC” class where they, under your expert supervision, mix the ingredients and then test them for effectiveness. End result (hopefully): a clean house and no kids whining “mooommmmmm….I’m booorrreddd!!!” My 8 year old uses my All Purpose concoction to clean the bathrooms and loves doing it because of the way it smells (I added Lavender Essential Oil to it).

A kid who loves to clean to the house – is it even legal to feel this good?!

Toilet Bowl Cleaner:

Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the toilet bowl, let stand a few minutes, brush, and flush. If you have hard water, let the vinegar sit for an hour, and you may have to do some light scrubbing. To remove stains, add 1/2 cup borax to the water, swish it around, and let it soak overnight.

Shower Cleaner:

The basic recipe is a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and Dawn dish soap. You can do this one of two ways. You can either add the ingredients to a spray bottle, spray and wipe with a sponge. OR you can get one of those dish sponges that have a place for you to put the soap like this one, fill it up halfway with dawn and the other half with vinegar and start scrubbing! Personally, I like to do both because I like to spray the solution on my shower/tub and let it sit for a few mintues before I start scrubbing.

Mopping Solution:

1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
1/4 cup washing soda
2 gallons HOT water

Place all the ingredients into a bucket and mix well until sudsy. Mop the area with the solution.

**Not recommended for waxed floors–it may make the wax gunky.

All-Purpose Cleaner:

2 Tbsp. Distilled White Vinegar
1 Tsp. Borax
2 Tbsp. Dawn Dishsoap
1 cup Hot Water
8-10 drops of your favorite essential oil (I use lavender)
16 oz spray bottle

Pour vinegar, borax and hot water into spray bottle. Then continue filling spray bottle with cool water to make 16 oz. Add Dawn Dishsoap and essential oil last. {no need to shake}

DIY All Purpose Cleaner

Fabric Softener:

6 c hot water
3 c white vinegar
2 c suave conditioner (even cheaper if you can get this with coupons!)
Mix conditioner and hot water well, until conditioner is dissolved completely. Add vinegar and mix well. Store in a large container, like an upcycled apple juice bottle. Shake before each use and pour into downy ball or use 2 T in the fabric softener dispenser.

DIY fabric softener

Furniture Polish:

1 3/4 c water
1/4 c white vinegar
2 tsp of olive oil
8-10 drops of lemon essential oil (I used lavender because I didn’t have lemon)
spray bottle

Mix all ingredients into spray bottle. Make sure you shake each time you use it, as the oil separates from the vinegar.

DIY furniture polish

Glass Cleaner:

1 c water
1/4 c white vinegar
2-3 drops Dawn dish soap
spray bottle

Combine ingredients into spray bottle. Spray as needed.

DIY Glass Cleaner

Also included in the MYOlabels are labels for dishwasher detergent and laundry soap!

2013 Fredericksburg 4th of July Activities, Festivals, Fireworks

Many of our readers will be spending their first “4th” in Fredericksburg. Your family should be super excited to celebrate our Nation’s independence in town, considering we are one of the most historic places to live in America! There are still plenty of us local moms, however, that still rely on word of mouth “to dos” around town. Moms of Fredericksburg will help give you a quick run down of what’s going on in town this Fourth! We’ll be continually updating the Events calendar as we come across more ways to celebrate in the Greater Fredericksburg area. This includes Fredericksburg City, Spotsylvania County, and Stafford County.

fireworks
Saturday, June 29

Spotsylvania Stars and Stripes Spectacular beginning 3:00 pm at the Spotsylvania Courthouse

Thursday, July 4

Fredericksburg Jaycee’s 37th annual Rappahannock River Raft Race 11:30 am at Falmouth Waterfront park

Fourth of July at Ferry Farm 10a.m. to 5.pm

All American 4th of July Cookout at the Rappahannock Area YMCA Massad Family Branch, 6:30 to the end of fireworks

Heritage Festival has events running all day throughout town. 7:45 Heritage Festival Fun Run 9:30 Parade – Downtown Fredericksburg (Lafayette to Caroline to Princess Anne – Most Creative Bike and Best Costume Prizes 10am – 4pm Festival of the Streets – Craft Show, Classic Car Display, Live Music. Trolley runs from downtown to George Washington’s Boyhood Home 10am – 5pm

At 4:30 Pratt Park opens with special games and children’s activities at 4:30. The park closes to additional visitors once it reaches capacity.

At 5:30 at Pratt Park The Quantico Marine Corps Band will perform selections from Les Miserables, with a 15 casts members from Riverside Theater.

The UMW Philharmonic performs until 9:15 when the fireworks begin.

Fredericksburg Family Dog Trainer Summertime Tips

School is out for summer! Between the kids being home, friends and family dropping by for barbeques, picnics, and fireworks, your dog’s life just got a lot more complicated. That means those normally quiet days are now filled with more activity.

Here are some tips to help your dog enjoy the summertime too!
1. Try to continue the normal “school” routine for your dog. Crating them for parts of the day as if it were a school day can help keep your pup on track. This will help when school begins again.
2. Be extra mindful of visiting children and your dog’s comfort level. Summer is a fun time for kids to stop by but, depending upon their age, this unfamiliar activity may cause your dog extra stress. Be sure they have a “kid free” area to go to while small guests are visit, should they become overwhelmed. Brush up on your dog body language skills to recognize stress or discomfort in your dog.
3. Plan some structured activities to engage your children and your pet. Hide and seek games can be fun WITH parent guidance.
4. Encourage your kids to make pup pops. You can cut up goodies, put them in ice cube trays, add water, and then freeze them. Spread these out in the yard for a doggy scavenger hunt.
5. Be mindful of the temperature! If it’s hot, leave your dog at home instead of taking them with you to a park or ball game. Dogs can become overheated and uncomfortable when crowded and hot.
6. Bring out the doggy pool! Kids can toss a ball into the water for your pup to fetch.
7. Plan ahead for fireworks. Make sure your dog has a safe place to hang out, like a laundry room or bathroom, when the fireworks are going off. Use the washing machine or dishwasher noise to help drown out the sounds of the snap, crackle, and pop!

adorable puppy laying on back on beach
Happy Summer Vacation! Have Fun & Stay Cool!

Your Fredericksburg Family Dog Specialist – Summer Thomas, K9 Summer Dog Training

Southpoint Cinemas Fredericksburg Free Summer Movies

Free Marquee Cinemas Summer Movie Guide

Fredericksburg Scavenger Hunt

Are you looking for something fun to do this weekend? Well, look no further than our very own Downtown Fredericksburg. This weekend, April the historic district of Fredericksburg will host the 2nd annual Fairy Godmother Project’s Scavenger Hunt!!!

Their fearless leader and chief godmother, Andie McConnell, has been hard at work with her team of interns and volunteers to make this year’s event brilliantly fun!

The event kicks off on April 20th at 11am and goes until 1pm. Participants form teams who then collect clues and follow their keen instincts and, of course, their map! Each team member will receive an event t-shirt, raffle tickets, goodie bags, and yummy food to fuel your hunt! Numerous downtown businesses participate in making this day a success as well by providing gift certificates and merchandise that all the participants can win.

Fairy Godmother Project Scavenger Hunt, Fredericksburg
To get your team signed up – please visit their website for the easy enrollment form.

This event is more than just a fundraiser for the Fairy Godmother project – it’s a way to get the local community active, having fun, and learning a lot about the participating businesses. Executive Director, Andie McConnell, is a huge advocate of supporting local business in her personal life and for her organization. If you’re not familiar with the Fairy Godmother Project please visit their website and read the very touching story of how cancer touched Andie’s life and transformed her life mission.

The scavenger hunt was born out of Andie’s s sense of adventure and her sense of adventure in entertaining her own children. In an email correspondence about the event Andie wrote, “I do scavenger hunts for my kids all the time and LOVE them which is one of the reasons we started it last year. And, of course, we are trying to raise money to support our families.”

Please – come out to support an amazing local non-profit organization, have some fun learning about the downtown shopping district, and maybe even win some amazing prizes!

Fredericksburg’s Biggest Children’s Races – Great Train and Caboose Run

I have goose bumps sitting here in my 2011 Marine Corps Historic Half shirt reflecting upon the horrifying events in Boston. Yesterday, just before the terrorist attack occurred, I was at my desk preparing a blog article to announce the upcoming Great Train and Caboose races. Both are hailed as the largest children’s races in the area.

In spite of Monday’s tragedy, I am still going to promote the events because it’s important for us, as a community, to continue to running forward. We, as parents, need to set a positive example for the children of our country. Exercise has healing properties, just like medicine.

Despite fear, anxiety, and doubt, finding hope and promise in our efforts to forge ahead is the most couragious way to stand up to evil. Now is NOT the time to back down and give up on those things that bring us closer as a community.
Right after I hit the “publish” button on this article, I’ll register my three little pumpkins, Chase (3.5), Lance (7), and Cole (8), for a great event, one they’ve participated in for three years now. If your children have participated in the past, then you know the sense of accomplishment they feel as they cross the finish line. You’ll regret the decision to pass this family event up- TRUST ME!

Chase's First Race

Caboose Run (1/4 miles perfect for ages 5 and under)

Date: Sunday, May 5, 2013
Time: Approx. 11:30 am (plan on arriving early because you’ll need time to find parking)
Register: Race Timing Unlimited or in person at VA Runner.

Great Train (1 mile run for ages 5 – 18)

Date: Sunday, May 5, 2013
Time: First Heat Starts at 7:30 am
Register: Race Timing Unlimited or in person at VA Runner.

Words of Wisdom Wednesday for Moms

“When we pay attention to the intention to bring more happiness into our lives, we are more likely to notice the actions, opportunities, people and things that can bring that about for us. It’s sort of like recognizing which piece of a jigsaw puzzle will fit in the picture.”
- James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander

positive words poster
Each and every day, I’m learning you have to GO AFTER the things you want in life. Go after these things in your mind, first and foremost. Positive thoughts reinforce your quest for happiness and fulfillment. It gives you the control to dictate your future because positive thoughts attract positive things into your world.

How many times have you talked yourself out of taking that first step toward reaching a desired goal because you allowed a negative state of mind to manifest. Negative thoughts will definitely attract negativity into your world. Failures, disappointments, and missed opportunities.

Most goals never get accomplished because the bearer of those thoughts becomes completely consumed with negative thoughts and fear. Even during difficult times, we MUST look at them as opportunities to reinvent ourselves, to rebuild our foundation in a more authentic way.

My message for you today is to go after the things in life you want. No matter how big or small, thinking you are worth it is the first step to believing YOU dictate your future. Pay attention to the good thoughts and things in your life, and place a huge mental note in your head constantly reads: “POSITIVE ATTITUDES ONLY.”

Furlough Prep – Moms Trimming Expenses

If I were a betting woman, I’d wager that most local families discussed one hot topic this weekend – FINANCES. Forget what the market reaction will be. What about our local economy?! According to the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance, approximately 11% of the labor for in our region are Federal employees, including active and reservist military. This percentage doesn’t even include those professionals working as government contractors who make up an additional estimated 4% of our workforce.

The economic climate in our home quickly shifted from proactive to reactive after receiving written confirmation of impending furloughs triggered by the sequestration. in less than two months, our monthly income will be reduced by w0 percent! This news, on top of the recent income tax increases, means many local families are going back to the budget drawing board to see WHERE we can make up for lost income. Here are a few suggestions to increase your cash flow so the inevitable sting isn’t quite so severe.

cost cutting paper
First, consider increasing the number of dependent withholdings on your W2. You may be witholding too little. Make sure you discuss this with an accountant prior to making any changes though.

Second, cut back on the percentage of savings – retirement or college.

Third, contact your cable provider and negotiate for a better deal. For instance, our Verizon service agreement expired last year and I just received an offer from XFINITY that is approximately $25 less per month for the same package. XFINITY will also give you a $200 prepaid Visa card just for switching providers. NOTE – this offer expires 3/6/13. Grab it now by calling 866-505-0541.

Fourth, carpool carpool carpool. Start sending the kids to school on the bus, if at all possible. Any carpooling opportunities at the office for you or spouse? Splitting driving duties between several people makes a big difference in gas, and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Fifth, buy used and pocket the difference. You can certainly start using our online Mom’s Market to make some extra cash, or even trade items you don’t need anymore.

Preschools in Fredericksburg

This week, my youngest son started preschool! Yes, I know it’s mid-school year already. I wasn’t actually prepared to sign him up immediately, however, when he and I went to registration for Fall NEXT year, he took his jacket off and said, “Bye Mom, I’ll take the bus home!”
preschool boy walking with backpack
Oh my goodness, I can still remember delivering this little boy at Mary Washington Hospital! Where have the past 3 1/2 years gone? I’m not embarrassed to admit that I still have fond memories of my stay on the labor and deliver floor. Great care, service, and accommodations – almost as if I were staying a 5 star hotel! ALMOST…

We relocated to Fredericksburg when I was pregnant with my youngest son. With two other boys ready to start preschool, I started my search while still living out of state. It was challenging, to say the least, but now I’m pretty knowledgeable about my options. I was especially comfortable with the choices indicated in the Education Section of our Relocation Directory.

I’d also like to thank all of the moms who recently contributed their recommendations on our Facebook page.

Finding Food with Passion in Fredericksburg

I’m smiling from ear to ear right now, because those of you who know me personally will agree there’s one topic I can talk about forever – FOOD! It’s also why I feel some guilt come over me as I write this blog. I just can’t believe how long I’ve neglected our Food Directory! Unfortunately, there are SO many topics I would LOVE to cover (especially food), IF I could find a way to better balance my Mommy responsibilities. Here’s what my stick figure family car sticker would look like: one mom holding a container of Clorox wipes + 1 husband + 1 boy + 1 boy + 1 boy.

The perfect opportunity to dive back into Fredericksburg food arose a few days ago when a Bay area transplant commented on how she couldn’t find any “Hole in the Wall” type eateries here in our quaint city. You know what she’s talking about. Restaurants that serve amazing food but you’d never find them without local “word of mouth” recommendations? I took this comment as a personal challenge and ran with it. Being America’s most history city, we have plenty of “mom & pop” type of establishments, as well as chef owned restaurants where passion and love are the first items on the menu.

Still feeling somewhat guilty of not doing my job properly by exploring Fredericksburg, I decided to venture out and discover another place where patrons can find “soul” food, good people, and good service. An perfect example of this is a downtown restaurant called Foode. You see, Foode, stole my heart over one year ago and I’ve yet to find another place that makes my belly, and heart, feel so happy! Those of you who’ve sampled their dishes know it’s the truth! C’mon now, tell me you haven’t done your Foode “snow dance” on Sunday mornings, praying there won’t be a sign hanging out front reading: SOLD OUT!

Foode's "whole lotta love chicken parm hoagie!"

Feeling that familiar mama bear protective nature come over me, I quickly defended our town’s culinary depth and decided to finally make a stop at a place I’ve been driving past for 4 years: Grandma’s Getaway. It’s right on Lafayette Avenue and actually looks like it could be a grandma’s house. All white with black shutters, carpet outside, and window flower boxes stuffed with silk flowers.

Grandma's Getaway, Fredericksburb, VA

Grandma's Getaway, Fredericksburg, VA

My three year old sidekick lost his vote for HIS favorite lunch, (be the first to guess this place in the comment section below and lunch is on me!) We walked through the doors of Grandma’s Getaway and were greeted by its patrons. A counter of older gentlemen were finishing up lunch while two “grandma” ladies sat at a booth. The only waitress, Laverne, had a contagious smile and even reminded me of Laverne from Laverne and Shirley! I asked her immediately if she could tell me what the place was known for, and if there was really a grandma cooking? She answered, “Sure is!” Apparently, the place is packed on Saturdays for breakfast. But, they’re also known for homemade soup and meals like meatloaf and pork chops. Their speciality is SALT FISH. My goodness, I thought I had set myself up for a real Anthony Bourdainmoment. I asked her to give me 1 piece of salt fish, a cup of potato soup, and a slice of the featured pie – lemon cream. By the way, Grandma makes all of the desserts.

Me and the counter crew fellas!

The counter crew all smiled, chatted, and stared as I took my first bite of fish. It wasn’t bad, but definitely is an acquired taste. Reminded me of fish jerky, if there is such a thing! My booth buddy devoured his plate of mini pancakes. Our afternoon lunch date was a great success. I met new friends and found comfort in the older folks’ smiles. Best of all, I realized even salt jerky (I mean salt fish!) can leave a good taste in your mouth when its cooked and served by passionate, friendly, hometown people!

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

“Words of Wisdom Wednesday,” a day I’ve devoted to sharing inspirational words or messages with friends on Facebook. I also solicited feedback from our fans who are willing to offer uplifting messages and words of encouragement.

I "heart" me in sand
It’s Wednesday again, and I want you to know that, what began as a simple routine, has become more and more time consuming for me. I’m glad though because I’m taking the added responsibility very seriously. I sit at my computer every day, sometimes in the morning, but lately in the afternoon, waiting for some inspirational sign to guide my thoughts. Even if the message doesn’t quite meet the Facebook definition of “reach,” but ultimately allows someone to smile, think, or find comfort, it fills my heart with joy.

I want to apologize for, at times, being uninspiring. It isn’t because my three children run me ragged all day long, OR because I can’t find the time to drink a single cup of hot coffee. Nope, sometimes, it’s because I fall off track, now and then, with loving myself.

There’s a blog-worthy message I’d like to share today. It’s really quite simple, but believe me when I tell you, I haven’t truly let it reach me until now! It’s a work in progress, and I am OKAY with being front and center in the journey to LOVE MYSELF. Check out these 21 tips to release self-neglect and love yourself in action. I hope this “reaches” you with warmest intentions today.

If you spend a few minutes each day reinforcing actions to become more self loving, the answer to the million dollar question will become more and more clear: “Who am I, and what is important to me?” Finding that connection with your inner self and your dreams, by using positive thoughts and actions for support will always pay big dividends. Today is the day to write yourself a love letter! Even if it is a one-liner, they’ll eventually add up to a great book of loving AND healing.

“Love yourself—accept yourself—forgive yourself—and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia

School Safety Is Everybody’s Problem – What’s the Solution?

Today was the first day back to our “normal” school and work routines following the horrific shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. The residents of Newtown are now left with SO many unanswered questions…Why? How? Will it occur again? Can our community, and the school itself, EVER feel “normal” again? Are our children going to live in fear every day they make the trip to school? These are exactly the type of questions many parents must now ask themselves, local law enforcement, and their school administration.

I’ve personally spoken with several local moms who are experiencing a heightened sense of concern about the future safety of their children while attending school. As I type this article, I STILL can’t believe the world has fallen socially to such a low place where stepping up school security is no longer a luxury, it’s an outright necessity. Innocent children and loving teachers deserve a safe place to pave the way for the future of our nation’s best and brightest..

There are reports of up to 31 different school shootings, since the 1999 Columbine massacre in Colorado, where two students killed 13 of their classmates and wounded 21 others. Some other notorious examples of pure evil include the following:

· In 2006, a gunman at a Pennsylvania Amish schoolhouse shot 11, killing 5 girls.

· In 2007, a gunman at Virginia Tech shot 56 students, killing 32.

· In 2008, a gunman at a university in Illinois shot 21, killing 6

· In 2012, a gunman at an Ohio High School shot 6, killing 3.

· In 2012, a gunman at a university in California killed 7 students.

· This past Friday, 20 elementary school children and 6 adults were murdered.

This is obviously NOT a rare occurrence. If anything, it seems like the cowardly acts of these psychos are actually INCREASING. Their “success,” IF it can be construed as such, seems to be emboldening others to follow suit. It is a sad and unfortunate fact that school shootings, as horrendous and senseless as each and every one is, seem to be here to stay. What can we, as parents, along with our local law enforcement and school officials, do to prevent these vile incidents? After all, we parents want to do everything in our power to prevent this from ever happening again, and to ensure our children’s future educational experiences are happy, healthy, and SAFE. I realize the following suggestions are potentially very costly, however, what is the alternative? (PLEASE, I would LOVE to hear any of your thoughts on this).

A POTENTIAL SOLUTION:

1. Main visitor entrances should be rebuilt with a man-trap. This would consist of a small room with two reinforced doors, a magnetometer, and cameras (outside and inside). Essentially, a visitor would request entry into 1st door. A school employee would make a visual determination to allow the visitor into 1st door through camera recognition. Once inside the man trap, with 1st door closed and employee continuing to observe, the visitor would move through a magnetometer. If cleared, AND with a legitimate purpose for being at school, visitor would be allowed to move through 2nd door. Even if suggestions 2-4 are not done, this one thing would slow down a shooter, giving children and employees more time to move to safety OR GET OUT OF THE BUILDING, AND allow police more time to respond.

2. There should be an internal alert for any breaches/suspicious behavior. This should immediately signal all teachers/employees to move to classrooms, bathrooms, closets, etc., (assuming there is a key locking feature from the inside and out – and yes, that means the employees would need to carry it while on school grounds.) Also, all internal doors should not have any windows large enough for a shooter to break and fit arm into to defeat.

3. All exterior doors should be reinforced metal, with locks from inside. These should be checked hourly.

4. All 1st floor windows should be reinforced to prevent entry from outside. These MUST be defeatable from the inside to allow students/employees to escape.

5. Drills should be done every month or more to ensure students know what to do under stressful conditions.

These are by no means the only, and maybe not even the best solution to this problem, but it’s a start. Let’s hear your thoughts.

Virginia Clean Air Act

Written By: Laura Kate Anderson Bender, Virginia Healthy Air Coalition/American Lung Association

Do you or a family member have asthma? Have you experienced days when smog in the air makes it harder to breathe? Do you notice the drop in air quality when you head to DC, or see the haze that clouds the view from Shenandoah National Park?

Air pollution isn’t just inconvenient, it’s dangerous. Particle pollution (like soot), ozone pollution (which causes smog), and other pollutants can cause asthma and heart attacks, worsen lung and heart disease, send people to the hospital, and even cause premature death.

And while people in Fredericksburg are better off than their Northern Virginia neighbors, there’s still an unhealthy level of pollution in the air. The American Lung Association gave the area a C grade for smog pollution in its 2011 State of the Air Report. This is bad news for everyone, but especially for our vulnerable populations: elderly people; people living in poverty; people with lung and heart diseases; and children.

Children’s lungs are still developing, so they’re more vulnerable to the pollutants that they breathe in. And they tend to breathe more rapidly, so they inhale more of that dangerous pollution into their lungs.

The good news is, we have the Clean Air Act – over the 40 years it’s been in place, it has reduced major air pollutants by 71%. It prevented 160,000 premature deaths in 2010 alone, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The bad news is that some members of Congress want to roll back current protections and keep EPA from issuing new ones. Coal companies and other polluting industries – in Virginia and across the country – are opening their deep pockets to try and keep EPA from doing its job of cutting pollution and protecting our health.

That’s where the American Lung Association’s Healthy Air Campaign comes in. We’re working with public health groups, medical professionals, and volunteers to educate the public and our elected officials that we need to protect the Clean Air Act to protect public health. We’re publicizing the facts behind pollution’s impact on our health, and we’re putting a personal face to the fight against air pollution.

That’s where moms like you come in: we’d love for you to share your story. Maybe your son or daughter has asthma that’s exacerbated by dirty air. Maybe you’ve kept your young children inside on days with alerts about poor air quality. Maybe you or a family member has heart disease or diabetes, and you worry about the impact that soot or smog could have on their health.

Your elected officials need to hear from you. Visit www.fightingforair.org to share your story online, and the American Lung Association will use it to help get the word out about the Healthy Air Campaign. And if you’d like to do more, like writing a letter to the editor, talking in person with your member of Congress’ staff, or referring friends who may also want to get involved, call or email Laura Kate Bender, the Virginia Healthy Air Coalition Coordinator. Feel free to contact her at 202-715-3457 or laura.bender@lung.org.

Fitness Center Childcare in Fredericksburg

On any given Tuesday, you’d be in complete hysterics watching those of us local American Family Fitness moms carting our children into the gym. I point out Tuesday, specifically, because most of us scramble to get a spot in the popular group exercise class, Body Pump. If you are unfamiliar with this class, it’s a serious body transformer! The class has become so popular (especially around this time of year) that the race to simply get in has almost become a warm-up, in and of itself! So, those of us who make the extra effort each week, would surely appreciate how much easier the race could be if we weren’t carrying any extra cargo – namely, OUR KIDS.
Yesterday I made it in time to get set up, check my son into daycare, and check myself out in the mirror to make sure I didn’t forget anything, i.e., shirt, pants, sock, sneaks, etc. I’m sure you can all appreciate those mornings you’d forget your head if it weren’t attached, right ladies?
cartoon family exercising
After class, I jumped on the treadmill to break in my new “go-fasters” and began clearing the room, so to speak. I watched as many familiar faces went about their conversations, smiling, laughing and sharing. I thought to myself, “not only do my sneakers fit perfectly, so does the name of this gym!” American Family Fitness is much more than a place to work out. It has become a home away from home for me AND my family. Believe it or not, there was a time when I was THAT mom who would make every excuse in the book not to take full advantage of my gym membership, including CHILDCARE. I was scared to leave him in the day care. However, the moment I started connecting with some other members of the gym, as well as the employees, my fears and apprehension went away. I came to understand that we all share, or shared, the same worries of leaving our children in an unfamiliar place while we take care of our own needs. ALL MOMS need to recognize though, as I have, that taking time for exercise is one of the best things you can do for the kids.

My three year old kicked and cried, off and on, for almost a year. But now, he calls this place his “school.”. We both have made so many friends, and actually look forward to the routine of rushing for mommy’s 9:30 am Body Pump class!
In closing, here are a few tips when scouting out gym child day cares:

1. Are there separate areas for infants, toddlers, and older children?
2. Are the caregivers CPR certified?
3. What are the policies on diaper changing and feeding?
4. What are the policies on behavioral issues?
5. Is the environment clean and free of safety hazards?
6. Are there additional costs for childcare?
7. Is there structured play? Activities available that the children can look forward to on a daily basis?

End of Year College Savings Tips

In case you haven’t noticed, the costs for EVERYTHING seem to be on the rise. College tuition is no different. When parents couple this fact with a difficult economic outlook, at least for the foreseeable future, finding new ways to stretch the paycheck has become an absolute necessity. Heck, most of us are just glad to HAVE a paycheck! At any rate, we parents still want to lessen the financial burden that attending college will eventually place upon our children. To do this, we often times seek out the advice of others, do some self-directed research, or just get lucky in making a decision about the proper way to save money for college tuition.

jar of money labeled college
Considering the present cost of attending a four year, private university is nearly $33,000 a year, those of us with one or more young kids are facing potentially astronomical costs in the future. My generation (children of baby boomers) seems to have started our families later in life and, as a result, the age gap between siblings is less. Therefore, the likelihood of having 2 or more children in college at the same time is great.

If you’re in the same boat, or just want to maximize your money’s purchasing power, an excellent way to take full advantage of available tax incentives is to quickly open a college savings plan before 2012 comes to an end. There are four programs to choose from and contributions made to a Virginia 529 plan of up to $4000, per account, per year, are deductible in computing Virginia taxable income.

One program called, 529 prePAID (formerly known as Virginia Prepaid Education Program VPEP) even allows families to prepay future tuition and mandatory fees at Virginia public colleges and universities. Those of us without a crystal ball to see what the future economy holds, AND how high tuition rates have skyrocketed, can utilize this program to budget effectively for future costs associated with our children’s education. Enrollment is limited for this program, but is currently open through March 31, 2013.

Moms of Fredericksburg wants to hear your Virginia 529 story! Did you, or a loved one, graduate using Virginia 529? Are you currently saving for your own, or a loved one’s, future educational aspirations? How does the idea of setting money aside now for future school costs make you feel? Comment, or upload a picture right here on our FB page, or just send your comment to friends@virginia529.com. We want to feature you on Virginia529.com.

If you don’t already have a Virginia529 story to share, begin your journey today! Use the code FBURGMOM at Virginia529.com to waive the $25 application fee.

Moms of Fredericksburg Christmas Giveaway

Santa Train Ticket Purchase – Fredericksburg VRE

Please read my post from last week if you are unfamiliar with the Santa train in Fredericksburg.

Tickets go on sale Monday, November 26, 2012, at 9:00 am. They can be purchased online through the VRE website, or in person at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center. Online tickets are $6.00 each and $5.00 each if you purchase them at the Visitor Center. For those planning to purchase tickets in person, you should probably arrive before 9:00 am on Monday morning. Also, bring cash or a personal check, and don’t expect to purchase more than 6 tickets total. If you have any additional questions, just give the Visitor Center a call at 540-373-4748, Monday through Saturday, 9:00 am to 5pm.

NOTE: Currently, the VRE website doesn’t have the Fredericksburg Santa Train Station listed this year because the pick-up will be at Leeland Station due to a scheduling conflict with the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg. The Leeland Station is the next stop up from Fredericksburg and is located at 275 Leeland Road, Falmouth, Virginia, 22405.

Last year, I purchased our tickets online, and didn’t have a problem.

Oh, and don’t forget…..on the day of the train ride, bring your unwrapped toy to drop off with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Collection.

Tis the season – see you soon!

YMCA Hosts 20th Annual Turkey Trot in Fredericksburg, VA, New Location

Whether you just arrived in the Fredericksburg area, or you’ve been running the annual Turkey Trot race as a special holiday tradition, I think we’d all agree that participating in these types of community oriented activities makes one feel right at home.
image of cartoon turkey
For many local families, this may be your first year spending the holidays in the Fredericksburg area. If so, having your family participate in the YMCA 5k Turkey Trot, and/or 1 Mile Youth Run, is great way to join the community, and combat the sadness of missing family and friends during the holiday season!

This year, the race will be held at a new location – The Fredericksburg Expo Center! Many of the local runners, including yours truly, have already run this course and I think we’d all agree, it’s a FAR easier location to get in and out of.

Visit the YMCA’s racing website for more details on the Turkey Trot 5k Run/Walk and the Youth 1 Mile Run.
To register online visit Race Timing Unlimited.org.

Structured Fitness and Fun for Fredericksburg Kids

I can still remember, like it was yesterday. My husband and I moving to a new suburb just outside Philadelphia with our nearly 1 year old son, Cole, AND another on the way. I was eager to get him out and about, meeting new playmates, and developing a regular routine for my “soon-to-be walker.” My overall goal, at that stage of parenthood, was to provide Cole with plenty of opportunities for socializing, learning motor skills, and experiencing new environments.

Here I am, three sons later (the youngest of whom recently turned 3), and now must focus on creating a balance between home, work, school, and fun. Finding the time and proper environment to truly focus on distraction-free interaction with your children will create lasting memories. I can personally attest to this because I still remember the happiness and laughter Cole and I shared during his first tumbling class 7 years ago!

Many of you may be familiar with Fredericksburg’s newest indoor children’s gym, Great Play. If you are, that’s great! If you aren’t, and are looking for a Mommy & Me class designed just for you and your little one (ages 6 months to 3 1/2 years), you’ve GOT to check it out! My 3 year old and I attended an intro motor skills class at GREAT PLAY, and it was fantastic. For an hour, he and I were part of a small group of moms and kids, sharing in structured activities and led by 3 coaches. Together, we sang, climbed, crawled through tunnels, pushed on indoor swings, and just let loose! The best part is, no two classes are alike because the instructors constantly mix up the activities, creating settings that are exciting and unique, all in a brand new, clean, and cheerful environment.

In addition, Great Play offers classes geared toward older school age children. For instance, in their “Interactive Arena, children have fun learning skills to succeed in a variety of sports like soccer, baseball, basketball, flag football, and more! Two versions of this program are offered: 1) a continuous multisport program geared toward the development of an all around athlete and 2) a focused seasonal program for children who would like to gain greater expertise in one specific sport.

Another is called “Play 50.” Essentially, 50 minutes of fun-filled play designed to develop fitness, coordination, teamwork, and advanced motor skills. With this particular program, athleticism is the focus, not sports. As such, children who aren’t interested in sports can still develop athletic abilities and overall fitness, but in a fun, non-competitive atmosphere.

Last, but definitely not least, there is also “Zumbatomic!” Think of it like a carefully orchestrated, high energy mixture of fun, fitness, and rockin dance moves!

Birthday parties are a GREATPLAY specialty.
Make your child the star of his or her birthday with one of their award winning events. They have several party themes, each one customized to suit your child’s interests, personality, and age range. General themes include Field Day (ages 3-10), Fun and Games (ages 1-6), and Multi-sport (ages 4-10).

Party time availability is as follows: On Fridays, times are available upon request. Time is also available on Saturdays (1:30pm and 3:30pm), and Sundays (11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30PM). Prices are $225 for enrolled members, for up to 18 children, for 90 minutes. For non-members, it is $250 for the same number of children and time.
kids playing Great Play Fredericksburgtoddler jumping on trampoline Great Play fredericksburg
toddler riding bike Great Play Fredericksburg

Save the Date – VRE Santa Train

I’m slightly ahead of myself here, BUT this was a very fun experience for all of my children last year. If you’re unfamiliar with VRE’s Santa Express Train, please read our article from last year.
cartoon santa on train
So far, the only information I have for you regarding this year’s rides is that they’ll be held on Saturday, December 8, 2012. I highly recommend you save this date and I’ll post again when tickets go on sale, most likely around Thanksgiving weekend.

Time flies!

Fredericksburg’s Resource for Swimming Lessons and Pool Parties

Little Fish Swimming offers swim lessons to children of all
ages at an indoor heated pool facility in Fredericksburg, VA. The company was born in a backyard pool, fueled by the dream of owners, Keri Rayford and Rochelle Preut. Having been life long competitive swimmers, these two sisters decided to turn their experience, and passion, into a full time job opportunity. Six years later, Little Fish Swimming continues to provide quality swimming lessons to Fredericksburg area residents. The company is currently operated out of St. Michael’s High School, which is located off of rt. 3 just behind the Rite Aid at Five Mile Fork.

Children swimming indoors with swim instructor
At Little Fish Swimming, children are immediately set up for success because the group classes have a maximum of only 4 swimmers. This allows for much more individualized attention per swimmer, and is in direct contrast to the 8-10 swimmer limit with most other options. For those parents who desire an even faster track to accomplish their children’s swimming goals, Little Fish Swimming offers semi-private and private class options as well.

toddler boy swimming in pool with female swim instructor
Each week, Little Fish swimmers become more comfortable in the water, and with their coach, as they progress through the different levels of swim instruction. The program provides lessons based upon the ability of each swimmer, and allows for an increasing level of competitiveness, up to and including, participation on a swim team.

While many parents have different goals for their children, swim lessons provide an essential life skill, ensuring long term safety, and fun.

Little Fish Swimming also offers swim parties for any occasion. Come celebrate your next party at the pool with an hour of swimming, followed by another hour on the party deck. Participants also have the option to upgrade and use the Little Fish Water Ball, to literally “walk on water.”

Downtown Fredericksburg’s Annual Christmas Parade Date

Whether you’re a new resident of the greater Fredericksburg area, or consider yourself a local, we all love to experience the excitement of traditional downtown Christmas parades. So spread the word everyone because the Fredericksburg Jaycees will be hosting its 26th Annual Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 1, 2012. The parade will begin at 5:30 p.m., and is expected to last approximately 2 hours.

santa waving at Christmas Parade

If you’re a part of an organization that may be interested in actually participating in the parade, this year’s theme is “Once Upon a Christmas.” All parade participants are encouraged to highlight this holiday theme in their Christmas parade entries.

Trophies for 1st place will be awarded to entries in each of the following seven categories:

  • Commercial Floats
  • Novelty
  • Bands
  • Majorettes (Senior)
  • Majorettes (Junior)
  • Dance/Gymnastics
  • Equestrian

Each entry is required to provide two (2) adult supervisors to walk the parade route. Each equestrian entry must provide two costumed persons equipped with scoop and container to clean behind the horses. The Jaycees have selected the official Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus for the parade. Therefore, in the best interest of the children, we ask that no other entry include and/or dress as Mr. or Mrs. Santa Claus. Please note that any group performing in the parade will need to keep moving and when the group approaches the judging stand they will have a maximum of 30 seconds to pause and perform and then must move forward.

2012 CHRISTMAS PARADE ENTRY FEES
Commercial / Business Entries: $175.00

Non-Profit Entries (please provide status of your non-profit/not-for-profit organization, i.e. IRS ruling letter): $ 100.00

Please make all checks payable to: The Fredericksburg Jaycees

Entry fees have been established to offset the costs of the Christmas parade. Please note: If you plan on entering more than 100 people with your organization, we will charge an additional $25. All proceeds above the costs of the parade will go toward community projects throughout the year including taking approximately 30 local, underprivileged children Christmas shopping for necessary clothing and shoes.
DEADLINE FOR ENTRY FORMS IS November 2, 2012 – and only the first 100 entries can be guaranteed!

PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK IN ORDER TO FILL OUR YOUR ENTRY FORM:
2012 CHRISTMAS PARADE ENTRY FORM

Once you have completed the entry form your information will be emailed directly to our Parade spreadsheet, however, you will still need to send in your check. Please see the entry form for that information.

Parade packet including Confirmation Letter, Parade Guidelines and Route Map will be handed out at the Parade information meeting on Monday, November 12, 2012. We will need one (1) representative from each entry to attend this meeting. Please make sure we have an email contact so that we may send you out more information on this meeting.

Important note: There are to be no handouts during the parade. This means that you may not throw or handout candy, toys, beads, pamphlets, etc. during the parade.

If you have any questions, please e-mail athomewithjen@gmail.com.

Ladyburg Brings Skin Care to Fredericksburg Women AND Men!

Ladyburg Fredericksburg logo

Ladyburg Brings Skin Care to Fredericksburg Women AND Men!
Owner, Crystal Wellman, made no apologies yesterday as she unlocked the doors to her new store at 807 Caroline Street in downtown Fredericksburg, VA. Sure, Fredericksburg may have other skin care salons and boutiques that sell lotions, soaps, and bath products, etc., but none of them can offer the pampering to Fredericksburg residents like the Ladyburg team intends to! Now merged together with Crystal Clear Complexions, Ladyburg will provide everything from the most unique and rare bath products, to full service advanced aesthetics treatments, chemical peels, facials, and even Dermasound treatments!

To name just a few of the products available right now at Ladyburg: handmade natural soaps; custom-blended bath products, including but not limited to, scrubs, lotions, body butter, aftershave; locally made candles, and so much more! Here’s a sneak peak of the store. Kudos to Crystal and her team for taking downtown Fredericksburg to new heights with plenty of beauty indulgences at affordable prices.

Connect with Fredericksburg’s newest modern skincare apothecary on Facebook!
Ladyburg store Fredericksburg Virginia

Ladyburg store, Fredericksburg, VA

inside Ladyburg store, Fredericksburg, VA

Savings Offer – September College Savings Month

A couple of weeks ago, we published an article focused upon the tax-advantaged educational savings opportunities offered in Virginia.

In an effort to properly end September as “College Savings Month,” we have a great offer for all you Moms of Fredericksburg out there!

young girl saving money in pink pig bank with family behind her
It takes as little as $25 to get started plus, ANYONE can contribute, so it would make a great gift! Please visit Virginia529.com today to learn more, and use the promo code: FBURGMOM, to waive the $25 application fee for new online accounts with VEST or VPEP (only during VPEP open enrollment). There is no Cash Value, and make sure you read ALL enrollment materials, including the Program Description applicable to each of these programs, prior to applying.

Remember…with a 529 plan, parents, grandparents, family members, and friends are all able to contribute to the account, making them great gifts that, literally, keep on giving.
Virginia 529 offers 4 programs to choose from:

  • Virginia Prepaid Education Program (VPEP): This program is available for newborns through ninth graders and has a limited annual enrollment period. With this program, participants are able to prepay tuition and mandatory fees at Virginia public colleges & universities. In addition, benefits can be used at Virginia private colleges, as well as most public and private colleges across the country.
  • Virginia Education Savings Trust (VEST): This program does not have any beneficiary age-limits or residency requirements. Enrollment in this program is offered year round with a minimum of $25 to enroll. VEST includes individual accounts invested in your choice of stocks and bonds with the intent of paying for higher education expenses for the beneficiary student.
  • CollegeAmerica®: This program is “the Virginia College Savings Plan’s partnership with the American Funds, one of the oldest and largest mutual fund companies in the country” (www.americafunds.com/529). This program is available only through financial advisers and allows participants to choose from a variety of American Funds to build a college savings plan portfolio that meets their specific needs.
  • CollegeWealth®:: This program is offered in partnership with Union First Market Bank and BB&T to provide FDIC-insured bank accounts with the benefits of a 529 plan.. Accounts can be opened with a $25 minimum and include all Virginia 529 tax advantages. Interest rates start at 2% APY.
Fredericksburg Expo Center October Events

Fredericksburg Arts & Crafts Festival ad

At this “hand-crafted only” festival, you’ll find premier arts and creations from hundreds of the country’s best crafters and artisans. From it’s 1st show back in 2006 to this year’s event, the festival has more than doubled in size, as has the quality of vendors and selection of items to choose from. There is something to suit everyone’s tastes and interests. From paintings to ceramics, jewelry and home décor, specialty foods, clothing, holiday knick-knacks, fashion accessories, photography, pottery, and so much more. Trust me when I tell you that anyone looking for a unique gift, or simply something special for yourself, you can find it at the Annual Fredericksburg Arts and Craft Festival.

The Fredericksburg Fall Arts & Crafts Festival is being held at the Fredericksburg Expo Center, Saturday, October 13: 10a-6p and Sunday, October 14: 11am-4pm. Tickets are good both days: Adults: $8; Kids 12 and under FREE. For additional information, a money savings coupon, and a list of participating vendors, visit www.fredericksburgartsandcraftsfestival.com or www.FredericksburgExpoCenter.com or call 540-548-5555.

Fredericksburg Fall Home Show

The 2012 Fredericksburg Fall Home Show at the Fredericksburg Expo Center has received a makeover of delicious proportions! The event is a “one stop shopping” extravaganza filled with experts who’ll help you decide what to do in, and around, the house over the coming winter and spring months. From building a new deck, to re-facing your cabinets, the Home Show has what you’re looking for! Remodeling your bathroom, or planning a full-blown renovation? Our exhibitors would love to help you make your dreams a reality!

But this year, there’s a new twist to the traditional Fall event. Attendees will be treated to Wegmans’ Perfect Pairings. Wegmans will be demonstrating how to match the right wines and/or beers with a variety of foods. Learn how to pair the perfect wine with dinner and dessert so you’ll impress your friends at your next dinner party. Do you know if red wine goes with beef or fish? Did you ever try a heavy lager or seasonal brew? Not only will you learn the answers to these questions, but you’ll have the ability to sample their suggestions AND give feedback.

Don’t miss this new exciting section at the Fall Home Show!

Don’t forget to bring you questions, measurements, and project photos to the 2012 Fredericksburg Fall Home Show. We know you’ll find just the right mix of vendors, ideas, and solutions for anything you’re either planning or need help finishing.

A Mother’s Message – Hope, Remember and RUN in Fredericksburg

Any type of violence is senseless, but when it involves a child, it makes the action that much more difficult to understand and accept. As a parent, there simply are no words strong enough to adequately describe the emotion I feel as I read the “mother of ALL mother’s message.” The manner in which she describes the realization that her baby is no longer coming home has such a profound effect upon my psyche, I swear I can feel every single emotion, almost as if it were one of my own sons. However, within 2 hours of writing this very article, my boys will hopefully step off their school bus, and I’ll be able to see their beautiful eyes.

For Gwendoyln S. Brawsell-Nash, the joy from her son, Baron’s “Deuce’s,” smiles and laughter are nothing but memories now. On January 20, 2006, the joy of Gwendoylyn’s life became a 16 year old victim of teen violence, murdered by another teenager. A superb athlete, great student, son, grandson, nephew, brother and friend. His life here in earth was violently snatched from him much too soon. His family, friends, and others from the community have since joined forces to take a stand against teen violence.
Baron "Deuce" Braswell

Please join our community on Saturday, September 22, 2012, at Courtland High School as we participate in the 7th Annual Baron “Deuce” P. Braswell Race Against Teen Violence. The entire family can take part in a 5k Run/Walk and/or Youth 1 Mile Youth Run. It will be a great day to get some exercise, enjoy food, refreshments, music, raffle prizes, moon bounces and most importantly, become inspired to help the children of our community not fall victim to teen violence.

Baron Deuce Run Against Teen Violence logo
The last day for online registration is Wednesday, September 19, 2012. Please visit www.braswellratv.com to register and learn more!

Fredericksburg Family Weekend Getaway

Thanks to some great friends who planned a fantastic Labor Day weekend escape for our family, I’m able to pay it forward to all of our other Fredericksburg friends. Despite having to say goodbye to the Summer of 2012, I’m excited to share the details of our latest outing because there’s still time for you to watch the leaves change, or plan for next year, in one of Virginia’s most visited state parks. Anyone interested in a kid-friendly, inexpensive, and quick weekend trip just a few hours from Fredericksburg? Well then, cabin camping at First Landing State Park is THE trip for you!
first landing state park
First Landing State Park, located at the northern part of Virginia Beach, is a terrific weekend destination for families with children of all ages. This was our family’s first trip to Virginia Beach, and rather than head straight for the ocean, rides, miniature golf, and games, we opted for the simple peace and serenity that can only come with staying in a cozy cabin. But please don’t think we sat idlly by while the weekend went on. Quite the contrary. Our family participated in plenty of outdoor activities like bike riding, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming in the bayside surf, trail running, and outdoor grilling. Our children had a fantastic time as they splashed, swam, and played in the calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay. As parents of three little boys, it was particularly nice to watch from the beach and not worry about rough waters.
first landing state park beach

You’ll also find plenty of hiking available, with more than 19 miles of different trails to choose from, with the most popular being “The Bald Cypress.” Here are a few amazing
pictures of the trail and it’s glory.

For two nights, our family of five (children ages 3, 6 & 7) and two other families rented three rustic cabins which were tucked away in the woods but connected by dirt paths. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t exactly a “roughing it” style trip. Access to main roads, a super market, and civilization were all within a ten minute drive. The two-bedroom cabins offered all of the amenities needed for a family, air-conditioning, refrigerator, stove, microwave, and even a coffee-maker!!

Lastly, the cost of renting the cabins for 2 nights was a pretty reasonable $267. In total, the entire trip cost our family of five less than $400, and that includes meals and gas!! Pretty hard to beat, if a do say so myself.

If you’re interested in heading down to First Landing State Park any time soon, the great news is, it’s open all year long. Plus, the cabins have real fireplaces, so they could make the perfect romantic getaway for two from Fredericksburg. (Hint, hint).

On Saturday, October 20, 2012, an annual Fall Festival will be held First Landing State Park. Festivities will include hay rides, pumpkin decorating, kids’ crafts, roasting s’mores and special exhibits.

For more information and great photos, visit www.dcr.virginia.gov.

Virginia Moms Tackle Education, Savings, and our Kids’ Future

One day at a time…that’s exactly how I intend to pave the way for my sons’ future. It seems like just yesterday when my husband and I learned we would soon be parents and asked ourselves, “how will we afford kids?” And like many of us, we focused on the present, hoping and praying the future would work itself out. However, as time continues to tick by, we suddenly realize just how fast it all flies by. The kids seem to outgrow their shoes, clothes, toys, and interests so fast, we have trouble keeping pace with them. AND, the kids actually become MORE expensive as diapers and pacifiers are traded in for fancier sneaks, bigger bikes, and I-pods. Yes, your child’s Christmas list may get shorter as they grow, but rest assured, the overall cost will likely increase exponentially with each passing year.

Another summer has flown by, and as our kids begin a new school year, we are THAT much closer to the holidays, AND more expenditures. Within the next few weeks, I’ll be conducting an inventory of the basement toy boxes, purging items the boys have outgrown. More than likely, I’ll also be shaking my head in disbelief that my husband and I actually have to buy MORE toys. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely recognize the importance of gift giving and receiving, holiday traditions, and most importantly, the wonderful innocence of childhood. But, sincerely… what’s wrong with asking for future college tuition contributions instead of SO many gifts?!
toddler saving money in piggy bank

Yes, I said it, COLLEGE MONEY!!! Oh my, we’ve been dodging the subject for almost 8 years now. Thankfully, though, we researched our options for College Savings Plans before our first son was born. Back then, we didn’t realize how just how expensive children really were (even though everyone and their mother warned us!). So, we made a commitment early on to open a 529 College Savings Plan – and THANK GOODNESS we did!! For 8 years, tax-advantaged money has been funneled directly from our monthly income into the 529. Unfortunately, we’ve had to be very cautious about increasing our contribution with the addition of 2 more babies, BUT, any little bit in savings is certainly better than nothing.

If you are unfamiliar with how 529 plans work, here’s a snapshot:

  • 529 plans get their name from Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which was passed by Congress in 1996 to help families plan and save for future qualified higher education expenses at eligible educational institutions
  • Virginia 529 (the nation’s largest 529 plan) offers one prepaid program that allows families to prepay today for their future cost of undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees, and three different savings programs
  • Benefits may be used at eligible universities, colleges, community colleges, and technical schools across the country, AND around the world.
  • Earnings for all Virginia 529 accounts grow tax-free and are NOT subject to tax, IF used for qualified higher education expenses.
  • Virginia taxpayers are eligible to receive a deduction from state individual income taxes of up to $4,000 per account each year if they use a Virginia 529 plan.

For more information on Saving For College, visit Virginia 529 at:

www.virginia529.com
https://www.facebook.com/va529
http://twitter.com/virginia529

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Discount

I’m a last minute planner and work best under pressure! That’s why I am sitting at the computer, surfing the internet for a family friendly (AND inexpensive) trip to Williamsburg, with barely a week before Spring Break starts. Ever since moving to Fredericksburg, my husband and I have been waiting for the “perfect” opportunity to take our children to Busch Gardens. What I mean by “perfect” is that time when ALL of your children are old enough to truly enjoy the experience. We’ve all been through those times when one or more of our kids aren’t quite mature enough to give us parents the best “bang for our buck!” One child is scared, one has to be on a tight nap schedule, another doesn’t like a specific ride, etc., etc. Well, this year is OUR year…We have 3 little troopers just chomping at the bit to get on those rides and have a blast at the park!
spring break alphabet letters

Next week, as Spring Break is in full swing, our crew is super stoked to head south on 95, traveling less than two hours to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg! Here’s how I planned our trip with very little money, and even less time. First, I contacted a commercial airline carrier Mileage Plus program coordinator who tallied up our earned miles (check your credit card rewards programs as well). I was able to cash in some of my husband’s hard-earned miles for a two night stay at a family friendly hotel close to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens. With a little digging on your part, there are usually places to stay and, sometimes, calling at the last minute (assuming you have the flexibility in your schedule) can land you some pretty sweet deals on overnight accommodations. Visit www.hotels.com. or if you are a member of AAA – you know the travel deals available to members.

Next, I spent 30 minutes on hold with Busch Gardens to learn how to redeem a coupon code shared by our friends over at Macaroni Kid Fredericksburg. YOU can do the same by entering the following code (BGWPAMPERS). For 1 day Adult pass, you get 1 kid’s (Ages 3-9) pass free!! That means I paid for 2 adult tickets (total with tax $133.98) and received 2 kid’s tickets for free! In addition, I grabbed my 2 year old a FREE Sesame Street Forest of Fun Preschool Pass just by “liking” Busch Gardens on Facebook and redeeming the offer. NOTE – You’ll have to bring a certified copy or original of your child’s birth certificate as proof of age.

Another great deal for ACTIVE military families ONLY: Go to www.herosalute.com and get FREE passes. “As many as three direct dependents of military personnel are also entitled to free admission. Dependents may take advantage of the offer without their service member, though an adult must accompany minor dependents, and dependent ages 10 and over must present valid dependent I.D.”

So whether you’re new to Fredericksburg, have been here for a while but have never visited Busch Gardens, or were just curious about the trip…I sincerely hope this post helps! I’ll be sure to share some photos and tips once we return.

Happy Spring Break, Fredericksburg Moms!!

Colonial Williamsburg Trip from Fredericksburg

How fortunate are we to live in a area where we can drive a relatively short distance to visit dozens of museums, national monuments, and the world’s largest living history museum – Colonial Williamsburg?!

I was browsing (online, of course!) through some old photo albums and discovered pictures from our family’s first trip to Colonial Williamsburg. If you read my recent post about visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg, you’ll see, by the photos below, exactly what “stage” we were in with our sons. As such, we opted for a more age appropriate trip to Williamsburg area.
colonial williamsburg soldier and boy
Back in 2010, my youngest was only 8 months old, and the older boys were 5 and 4, respectively. They were just the right age to thoroughly enjoy the beautiful history lesson Williamsburg offers its visitors. We strolled, literally, around Colonial Williamsburg for hours, enjoying the stories told by actors in colonial costumes and historic buildings throughout town.

baby sleeping in jogging stroller

Gone are the days when he slept so sound in a stroller!

We stayed at a “family friendly” bed and breakfast called the Williamsburg Manor just a few minutes drive from the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. I know some folks may be wondering – B&B with kids?! Well, this particular bed and breakfast was VERY child friendly. We had two rooms adjoined by a bathroom, the dining room was equipped with a wooden high chair matching the eclectic style of this charming Colonial home. It was a great weekend getaway for the entire family and our kids were easily won over by the innkeepers constant supply of snacks. As you can see from the picture below, our children were in treat heaven! By the way, the owners also run a local catering company as well, which meant their guests could reap the benefits.

snack corner at the Williamsburg Manor

For the next trip to Colonial Williamsburg, our children will have the unique opportunity to experience life as 18th century school-age children did. Before our trip though, we’ll log onto the kids zone website where they can learn more about Colonial America!

Colonial Williamsburg Reenactment


Located less than 2 hours south of Fredericksburg, Colonial Williamsburg is a wonderful place where your family will experience a wealth of history, charm, and “family friendly” activities suitable for kids of all ages. Living history at it’s finest – from Fredericksburg to Williamsburg in one day!

Mother’s Day Giveaways for Moms of Fredericksburg

Mother’s Day is almost here, and I’d like to let each of you know how awesome it is to have made over 2000 new “Moms of Fredericksburg” friends in just over a year! I truly love having so many wonderful friends to rely on for advice, recommendations, and perhaps, most important, an ear to listen to when only a mom can understand. You all deserve the absolute best Mother’s Day and, if I could, I’d throw a huge bash just for us! It’d be some special place where we could all meet in person, enjoy a great meal, and share our experiences about how we got here. Most likely, it was due to our husbands’ employer, right? But, until the day comes when I can host this event (let me get these advertising rates increased a tad!), we’ll just have to continue to support one another through cyberspace. I’ve already met many of you in person, and I just love it when we make the internet connection, only to realize our paths have already crossed!

Okay, let’s cut to the chase. I’ve got some giveaways for the first moms who respond to this post, either on Facebook or below.


Save the fun stuff for Mom! Polar Fitness is a unique fitness studio right here in Fredericksburg that is owned by a local mom of 2 boys. They are the area’s only dedicated Pole Studio featuring 6 dance poles, each over 12 feet tall. This Mother’s Day, Polar Fitness would like to give you a chance to spend some quiet time taking care of yourself. Whether you choose to stretch out in a quiet yoga class, shake it in Zumba, rediscover your sexy side on a Pole, or sweat out some stress in bootcamp or Parkour, they have something to fit your interests. They know how hard you work and are pleased to offer a Free Class to 10 lucky moms this Mother’s Day. A full class schedule can be seen at www.polar-fit.com. They look forward to meeting our lucky winners soon.

scissor cutting cost
No coupon cutting for Mom! I have TEN TriQuest Savings Cards for those moms interested in saving up to 50% at over 250,000 locations! My children had to sell them for their lacrosse team, so I decided to just purchase them all and give them away for Mother’s Day. Again, just respond to this post on Facebook or below. No fussing, no specifics, just a “hello” is perfect!

Fresh Beat Band Fans

Most of our toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children would recognize the lyrics to “Just Like a Rockstar,” a popular song performed over and over again on Nick Jr.s’ hit t.v. show – The Fresh Beat Band.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS – The Fresh Beat Band will be performing at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm. Tickets go on sale April 14, 2012 at 10:00 am.

Visit www.wolftrap.org or call Call Tickets.com at 1 (877) WOLFTRAP (877-965-3872) from 10 am to 9 pm EST any day of the week.

wolf trap

Photo Credit: Robert Liewellyn

For more information on summer performances, visit www.wolftrap.org.
Note: Wolf Trap is a nonprofit performing arts and education center located north of Fredericksburg in Vienna, VA (approximately 1.5 hours from Fredericksburg City.)

Easter Brunch in Fredericksburg

My kids are excited for chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, Easter egg hunts, and all of the festivities that come along with the upcoming holiday, this Sunday. I, on the other hand, can’t wait to prepare, and partake of, one of my favorite brunch dishes!

As you may well know by now, I have to give a bit of back story on the topics I write about, and this recipe is no different. This recipe, that I’m about to share with you, has become a huge hit amongst our family and friends! You see, years ago (and I mean YEARS ago – before kids), my husband and I would escape to some bed and breakfast as a weekend treat (like we really needed one back then!) Anyway, one of the first places we ever stayed was the “Angel of The Sea” in Cape May, New Jersey. The “Angel,” is known for its’ Victorian architecture, history, and delicious recipes. In 1998, I purchased a cookbook of the Angel’s 200 most loved recipes, and our favorite, to date, is the “baked french toast.” It has become a family tradition with us to enjoy this wonderful dish after the Easter weekend church service. In keeping with the victorian style of the “Angel,” our Easter table will be simple and feminine, with brunch being prepared the night before so we can relax, eat, and enjoy our day of rest as a family.

Baked French Toast

Ingredients:

1 loaf firm bread
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup maple syrup
10 eggs
1 1/2 cup half & half
8Tbs melted butter

Instructions:
Cube bread and layer half in a 13×9 pan (pyrex glass pan works well). Cute the cream cheese into small pieces and scatter across the bread. Cover with the remaining bread cubes. Mix the eggs, half & half, syrup and melted butter together. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubs. Press the bread cubes down to absorb the mixture. Refrigerate over night. THIS is a must.

baked french toast
In the morning, bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve with syrup, jam and/or powdered sugar.

Happy Easter Friends!
pink tulips

Moms of Fredericksburg Let Us – Stop the Silence of Domestic Violence2

In memory of the victims of domestic violence, and in honor of Jenny Vaughn-Bates. Read last year’s article to learn about Jenny’s story.

iD Tech Camps & iD Teen Academies

Do you have kids who like gaming, programming, or filmmaking? How about 3D modeling, robotics, ad design, or photography? This summer, iD Tech Camps is providing a creative outlet where students can take their hobbies further to gain a competitive edge!

ID TEch Camp Students
Offering summer camps in Virginia held at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg – and other prestigious universities across the country – iD Tech camps has seen over 130,000 students worldwide immerse in hands-on learning to create iPhone apps, programs with C++ and Java, video games, websites, movies, 3D models, ad designs, robots, and more. Beginner to advanced students ages 7-17 enroll in these fun and challenging, weeklong, day and overnight summer camps.

By guaranteeing small class sizes (max 8:1) that are taught by adult-only instructors, iD Tech Camps provides personalized 1-on-1 instruction, with teens, pre-teens, and younger students separated into different classes. This type of camp environment allows students to engage in personalized curriculum with a small group of peers to optimize learning and social experiences.

For instance, many iD alumni have gone on to do something BIG, taking what they’ve learned at iD and applying it to life outside of camp.  They’ve done impressive things like sell their iPhone apps to raise money for college, create websites for local businesses, and write programming books. They’ve also gone on to take leadership roles in school, start clubs, and enter competitions with the projects they’ve created.

iD-Tech Camps Students
Also, there are 2-week, pre-college, overnight summer programs for teens at iD Gaming Academy, iD Programming Academy, and iD Visual Arts Academy (filmmaking and photography).  These summer academies are for ages 13-18 and are located at American University, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, MIT, Harvard, UCLA, and other locations throughout the U.S. 

Interested parents can visit www.internalDrive.com for more information and to register online (check real-time-up-to-the-minute-availability).  You can also call 1-888-709-TECH (8324) to speak to a Program Advisor who can recommend a customized summer schedule to develop a student’s interest.

Children’s Museum of Richmond – A great day trip from Fredericksburg

If you haven’t been to the Children’s Museum of Richmond, it’s definitely worth the “less than 1 hour” trip from Fredericksburg. The Children’s Museum of Richmond has two locations, CMor Central and CMor Short Pump (approximately 15 minutes apart from one another). We’ve now been to both and, although the museum in Short Pump is located very close to some fantastic shopping, CMor Central is better suited for school age children.

Last weekend, we visited Cmor Central and I can emphatically tell you that my children (ages 7, 6 and 2) had an absolute BLAST playing in the exhibits. All appear to have been designed to foster creativity and structured play scenarios. For example, kids can pretend to be ambulance drivers, teachers, grocery store clerks, bankers…even a TV news commentator! The Little Farm was a HUGE hit with my two year old!

Little Farm was a hit with Chase!

We spent a few hours going back and forth between the well spaced, and distinct, theme areas before venturing into the large art studio area. It was well stocked with everything your kids could possibly want to create their very own masterpiece.


If you’re thinking of heading down, here are some details to help with your planning:

Hours of Operation: CMOR Central

During the School Year:
9:30 a – 5:00 pm Tuesday-Sunday
*Note* Open on Mondays during Major School Holidays. Just check before making the trip.

Fees: Children and Adults (Age 1-59) $8.00 Memberships are available started at $125. Visit Cmor.org for more details.

Art Studio perfect for all ages!

Hitting the ATM after working at the bank!

St. Paddy’s Day Dinner – Not too Irish

School has sensationalized every holiday for my children, and you can bet your green shorts that St. Patrick’s Day has filled our home with excitement! Go figure…we don’t have an ounce of Irish in our blood but, we managed to produce a beautiful redheaded boy with fair skin and crystal blue eyes, just three days before St. Patrick’s Day. We even gave him the middle name of Kelly. Nowadays, he swears he IS Irish, and will likely tell you so himself!

Here’s our version of an Irish meal, all prepared in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day!
Asian Stuffed Cabbage
While the kids were out searching for “Lenny” and his pot of gold, I successfully battled some stubborn cabbage leaves and was able to put my own twist on this holiday – Asian Style.

Asian Stuffed Cabbage

Serves 4
Look for 91 percent lean beef, which is comparable nutritionally and caloriewise to 93 percent lean ground turkey; it’s also lower in cholesterol. In addi­tion to providing zinc and fiber, shiitakes bear cancer-fighting and cholesterol-lowering compounds.
INGREDIENTS
• 8 ounces ground beef sirloin
• 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps coarsely chopped
• 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
• 2 scallions, thinly sliced
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 head Napa cabbage
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400º.
In a large bowl, combine: ground beef sirloin, shiitake mushrooms, brown rice, garlic cloves, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, salt
Remove 8 large outer leaves from cabbage (if leaves are less than 5 inches wide, overlap 2 leaves, side by side). With a rolling pin, roll each leaf until the stem end is pliable.
Dividing among leaves, mound meat mixture toward upturned stem end. Starting from filled end, holding sides in as you work, tightly roll each leaf into a bundle.
Arrange cabbage rolls, seam-side down, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour 1 cup water over rolls; cover dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until an instant-read thermometer registers 160º when in­serted into a roll, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve drizzled with juices and sprinkled with red pepper, if desired.

Recipe Source: www.today.com Compliments of Martha Stewart Body and Soul magazine.

Moms Keeping our Babies Safe

Within a few weeks, Winter will be a distant memory, and we’ll be spending more time outdoors. During any given day, you’ll most likely be toting the kids to after -school sports activities, playing at one of Fredericksburg’s playgrounds, or even spending the evening in your own backyard. The fresh air and spring fever will certainly be keeping my children all revved up, active, and happy!
family enjoying park
A few days ago, I was outside chatting with a neighbor about how the Spring brings solicitors into our residential development. My neighbor asked me if I heard about the recent home invasions just north of our area. I had not, but I would certainly pay more attention for anything suspicious.

Later in the afternoon, I jumped on the internet to research the local Sheriff Departments’ websites to see I’d missed any crime reporting of home robbers/invasions, etc. If you recall from my article this past summer, Safety Comes First for Moms in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I don’t answer the door for ANY strangers. In addition to this obvious precaution, I also encourage ALL moms, in ANY community, to keep on top of the State of Virginia’s Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Register. Keeping track of who, and where, sexual offenders live in the Greater Fredericksburg area greatly helps to keep us on our toes – for our kiddos sake!!

Springtime Fun at Fredericksburg’s Biggest Children’s Race

If it happens to be your first Spring in Fredericksburg, you’ll no doubt soon hear plenty of chatter at local playgrounds about the City’s annual “Great Train 1 Mile Race and Caboose Run.”

colorful train with word numbers

This morning, I knew it was time to help spread the word when my toddler came into the living room wearing his older brother’s medal from last year’s race. I sure hope Dad isn’t away this year because I’ll now have 3 children participating in the race which is scheduled for May 6, 2012. My two older boys will run the mile race while my youngest tackles the quarter mile downhill run from Lafayette Boulevard to City Block on Sophia Street. I know he’s ready because it seems like all I ever do is chase him around!

This will be our families’ third year of participation, and I’ve got to tell you, this is one of the most organized children’s events in Fredericksburg! I sincerely believe that almost every kid in the area participates and, in my opinion, the more the merrier! If you’ve ever run in a race (short or long,) you understand the sense of accomplishment one feels at the finish line. Well, just imagine hundreds of children smiling with their heads held up high for the day!
Fredericksburg kids at Great Train Race
A quick, and funny, story… My husband was out of town and I couldn’t have my oldest son (6, at the time) participating in the 1 mile run at the same time my younger son, (5, at the time) ran the 1/4 mile run. Two separate places at once with a third baby in tow was just not going to work. SO, I fibbed and told the 5 year old he was running the 1/4 mile, when, in reality, he was running the mile with his older brother. You should have seen his face near the end!!! I was running along with them (well, actually, I couldn’t keep up with my oldest) so I kept encouraging my 5 year old to keep moving until the end. He did it, and was super excited to realize he finished the mile run!
Okay – enough babbling, here’s the scoop:

Caboose Run (1/4 miles perfect for ages 5 and under)

Date: Sunday, May 6, 2012
Time: Approx. 11:30 am (plan on arriving early because you’ll need time to find parking)
Register: Race Timing Unlimited or in person at VA Runner.

Great Train (1 mile run for ages 5 – 18)

Date: Sunday, May 6, 2012
Time: First Heat Starts at 7:30 am
Register: Race Timing Unlimited or in person at VA Runner.

Weekend Oyster Roast and Fundraiser

This has been an uncharacteristically mild winter season for us here in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The weather has, most likely, given each of us the opportunity to relish in life’s simple pleasures. Whether it be enjoying a cup of coffee outside, taking a walk at lunch, or even having a play date in the park, you might have been inspired to delay your plans for the day (much like I did!) and just get outside.

Daffodils

The Daffodils are in full bloom in Fredericksburg!

This afternoon, I headed down to the trails with my little guy to meet a friend. She and I were able to enjoy watching our three adorable children march around like little soldiers – “God love them!”

Needing to get back to work, I eventually returned home and began checking my email. I quickly noticed a CaringBridge journal update regarding a friend of one of my other sons, Dominic Beltran. My heart sank as I read the title, “Not good.” Dominic’s mom proceeded to share the absolutely horrendous news that his cancer has spread, again. Furthermore, the treatment he’s been receiving, in New York, must be stopped so he can have chemotherapy.

While waiting for my youngest son to finish up his nap, I leaned over and kissed his head, trying to comprehend how AWFUL it must feel to have a child who suffers with such an evil illness that even the strongest forms of medicine can’t fix it? How TERRIBLE it must feel to be completely stressed out and constantly worried about the fate of your child, in addition to, typical (obviously, less important) household concerns like money, house and car issues, hectic schedules, etc., etc. Dominic has now begun his chemotherapy treatment in NY with his wonderful parents right by his side.

Speaking of Margaret, she had to resign from her nursing job recently, so that she could be with her son as he bravely fights for his life. I imagine giving up her job to care for her son was an easy decision, however, losing a paycheck is never easy. With monthly bills that still need to be paid, this only makes life MORE stressful for Dominic’s parents.

Please click on the following link to watch a video of sharing Dominic’s story and DONATE whatever you can to help our this family.

Dominic Beltran

Superman himself - Dominic Beltran!

This Saturday (03/03), from 3:00 – 6:00 pm, over one thousand people will gather for the 28th annual oyster roast fundraiser to help Dominic’s family. A menu of steamed and fried oysters, hot dogs, coleslaw, chips, and homemade desserts will be served. Diners are asked to make a donation which will go directly to Dominic’s family.

Please visit our calendar for event details!

**Note – the article was written 1 week ago.

Dr. Barbara Mercado Offers Women’s Health Advice for Fredericksburg Moms

Guest Blog By: Dr. Barbara Mercado FACOG
Dr. Barbara Mercado
Generations of Women OBGYN has committed to a procedure every woman in this community should know more about. The Essure procedure is the fastest, easiest, safest, and most effective form of permanent birth control in the history of medicine. And for the life of me, I can’t understand why so few physicians are talking about it. The women of this community SHOULD have all the facts, and I’m here to make sure they do. Ladies, I am not saying whether you should, or shouldn’t use birth control. That is a very private, personal matter for each of us to consider. But, for those who are considering it, there is a better, safer choice available.

young family portrait in park
What is Essure?

The Essure procedure is for women who feel their family is now complete, and desire permanent contraception. Using a camera, one small, flexible insert is placed in each fallopian tube. These inserts are made of a nickel-titanium based material called nitinol, the same soft, elastic material that has been used in heart stent patients for decades. Upon release, the Essure insert expands to conform to the natural unique shape of the fallopian tubes. Once in place, the insert elicits a natural healing response that completely occludes the fallopian tubes, typically within three months. After 3 months, the Essure confirmation test is performed to confirm both satisfactory insert location, as well as, bilateraltubal occlusion. In other words, this test will prove that the procedure worked. No other permanent birth control procedure for women can confirm both of these features. The Essure confirmation test offers you unprecedented peace of mind that your family is now complete.

Why Choose Essure?

After ten years, there have been ZERO pregnancies among Essure users in clinical trials once the confirmation test has been done. No other permanent contraception has been shown to be as effective. It is, by far, the most effective form of permanent birth control in the history of medicine. When you compare Essure “the product” and Essure“the procedure” to the other forms of birth control it breaks down like this:

Essure can be done within minutes. These procedures have been done for the past ten years and there have been over a half million women worldwide who’ve chosen this better,safer and more effect standard of care when they’re done having children. With Essure, there is no cutting and no general anesthesia is required. The procedure is completed within my office and it takes less than ten minutes. You will be headed home in less than an hour…back to performing normal daily activities. There are no hormones involved with Essure, which in turn, means no side effects. Let me say that again, “no side effects.” Some women will have a change in their monthly cycles, but that is due to the lack of OCP they’ve been using for years. Most insurance companies cover the Essure procedure, meaning that the cost of this permanent solution is usually as low as your regular visit co-pay.

After all of this, the question becomes “Why NOT Essure?”

Essure is very close to becoming the standard of care in this country, as well it should be. But, when you look at the numbers, there are still around 700,000 lap tubals performed every year, half of those are post-partum, which aren’t candidates for Essure. Still, that means that 350,000 tubals are perform every year, instead of Essure. Which means that Essure is only being offered to around 17% of women nationwide. The sad thing is that this disconnect seems to be nothing more than the age old issue of people struggling with change. You have to trust your doctor, but your doctor should be providing you with the very latest, and the very best, options for all your health needs. That’s how trust is earned.

When most patients hear the words “permanent contraception” they think “tubes tied.” Generations of Women wants to change that in our community. When women think of a permanent solution to birth control, they should be thinking of “ESSURE.” Our mission has been to make women aware. I cannot tell you how many times I have shared this procedure with women, from all over, who have never heard of it. Essure has been out there for 10 years. There are no more excuses. We need to make sure women and physicians are talking about this every time a patient is in for an annual, having a conversation about Birth Control, or during a simple OB visit. If your family is complete, there is no better option. Knowledge is empowering, and I believe that eventually, you will see Essure replace the term “tubes tied.” It already has at Generations of Women OBGYN.

If any woman in this community has any questions about the Essure product or procedure, do not hesitate to call my office at 540-654-8400. My staff will gladly set up a freephone consultation with me whether you are a patient of mine or not. I am THAT committed to making sure every woman understands her options. If you are not ready to take that step but have a loved one who is, have them call me. Please, make sure that they have explored all of their options before making a permanent decision.

Spread your Free Classifieds on Facebook and Twitter with Mom’s Market

A few months ago, we added a great new resource to our website so readers would have a place to advertise items they had for sale, or even post a classified looking for something specific, like a job. If you’re unfamiliar with our Mom’s Market, the following link will help you get caught up.

Recently, a local mom posted a comment on Facebook asking if Moms of Fredericksburg could recommend any “at-home” jobs. Instantly, I thought, our “Mom’s Market” would be the perfect place for her to post a classified ad seeking to do work from her house.

What is so UNIQUE about our website is that ALL posted ads have the ability to become “VIRAL!!” This is the brilliance behind Facebook (and our developers!). AND, it’s another reason why our “Mom’s Market” is the absolute BEST place to post a classified ad for residents of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Whether you’re looking to sell a stroller, buy a bunk bed, or find a part-time job, it’s rapidly becoming THE place for local moms to do business.

Here’s our advice for when posting a classified ad in “Mom’s Market”:

1. PHOTOS are a must. There’s no sense posting a bike for sale if you aren’t going to show a potential buyer the merchandise.
2. If you own a local business, please don’t try to use ” Mom’s Market” to advertise your product (unless you are already a paying sponsor of our website). You can easily become a paid sponsor of our website – you’d be surprised at how competitive our prices are!

BELOW is an example of how “sharing” your classified ad on Facebook and/or Twitter works. Essentially, every time you share your “Mom’s Market” ad, one of your friends clicks and, now, their friends view your classified ad. ***Please note that Facebook specifically defines a viral reach as the number of unique people who saw this post from a story published by a friend. These stories can include liking, commenting, sharing your post, answering a question, or responding to an event.”

Harlem Globetrotters Coming to Fredericksburg

Guest blog from local mom, Lisa R. Thank you Lisa!

The Harlem Globetrotters 2012 Tour is coming to North Stafford High School on Wednesday, February 29 at 7 pm and there is a discount code to save $7 on tickets: just use the code MOM when purchasing tickets at www.ticketweb.com. This is a great family-friendly event for all ages! The wows, the laughs, the magic – these moments become the memories that last a lifetime!
Highflying dunks … eye-popping tricks… hilarious jokes … the Globetrotters will have you smiling from start to finish. At the Globetrotters, the game of basketball sets the stage for an experience you will never forget. The Harlem Globetrotters just signed a historic rookie class that includes the top three finishers from the 2011 College Slam Dunk Contest. This year’s roster also features the world’s tallest player – they call him Tiny … At 7-foot, 8-inches, he’s anything but. Players and rosters are subject to change. You can also visit www.harlemglobetrotters.com for more information. Discount code and information provided by Miles of Marketing (www.milesofmarketing.com).

Science Museum of Virginia RACE Exhibit Opens Saturday

Guest Post By Nancy Tait, Science Museum of Virginia

Race Art Logo - Science Museum of Virginia
The story of race seems as old as mankind itself and has become intertwined with all of our lives. In Virginia the story easily goes back hundreds of years. These differences have offered us strength, community and identity, while these same differences have also been the historical basis for discrimination and oppression.

Scientific understanding of human variation is beginning to challenge “racial” differences and even question the very concept of race. We invite you to explore these ideas as the Science Museum of Virginia proudly hosts a spring filled with events, discussions, presentations, workshops and the groundbreaking exhibition RACE: Are We So Different? Saturday, January 28 through Sunday, April 29.

No matter your color or background RACE will give you an opportunity to examine yourself and how you see others. “This is an important subject that touches us all, regardless of who we are,” says Science Museum of Virginia Chief Wonder Officer Richard C. Conti. “The RACE exhibition is just one element in a variety of experiences that brings new ways of looking at the variations of humanity through the framework of science.”

RACE examines the topic from scientific, historical and cultural perspectives, demonstrating how economic interests, power struggles, scientific research and even popular culture have informed the American understanding of race, and have provided a sturdy framework for discrimination. The exhibit shines a spotlight on our experience with the concept of race in everyday American life — at school and work, at the doctor’s office and in the halls of Congress. Join us as we celebrate the scientific fact that we are all part of the human race.

Fees: RACE is included with Museum admission. Tickets are $10 for ages 4-12 and 60+ and $11 for ages 13-59 or free for members. For more information visit www.smv.org or call 804.864.1400.
Location: 2500 West Broad Street, Richmond VA 23220

Writing Classes for Fredericksburg Kids

Guest post by local teach and writer – Susan Carter Morgan

A question I read recently has me thinking: How do you get kids to read and write as if their lives depended upon it?
Pretty strong language, but literacy matters. Writing is how we communicate. It’s how we give meaning to our lives. It’s how we learn. Not only is writing the path to success in school and career, but writing helps us clear our minds and share our stories.
It’s my own story that has compelled me to open a writing studio for young people (ages 8-18).

cartoon kids writing

When I was 9, I cobbled together a kind of fairy tale. At ten, I tried to publish a neighborhood magazine, though it failed miserably. One summer I wrote a column for our town newspaper about goings-on in the community and felt totally famous with a byline. Yet it would be many years later when, as an adult, I finally realized how much I needed to and wanted to write.
Author E.M. Forster’s quote has always resonated with me: How can I know what I think until I see what I say?
After teaching middle and high school students for 30 years, I’ve learned a few things about supporting children in finding their voice and developing confidence. And so, the idea for a studio was born.

Downtown Writing Studio For Children Ages 8 to 18

Location: Liberty Town Arts, 916 Liberty Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Hours: Weekdays 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm (homeschoolers are welcome during the day by appointment)
Fee: The hourly rate is $20 per student for a group of up to three students. I ask for a commitment of at least four weekly sessions payable at the first meeting.

I want the Downtown Writing Studio to be a nurturing place, and I’ll be writing there, too. Please stop by the second floor of LibertyTown Arts in Fredericksburg on February 3, during the First Friday celebration for the arts community and say hello. Or visit my blog for more information. Join us!

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Families in Fredericksburg

During the past week, I heard a few local moms expressing great concern over the recent news that Mary Washington Healthcare has decided to no longer accept Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) health insurance. This is obviously VERY BIG news for many of us Moms of Fredericksburg since BCBS is our primary healthcare insurance provider.
Here’s a link to a recent Anthem BCBS – Mary Washington Healthcare Contract Termination (Key Messages & FAQ) Release that will answer many questions concerning this situation.

Richmond Day Trip from Fredericksburg

Last Sunday happened to be one of those days when I just HAD to get away from my normal routine. For those of you who know me personally, you understand, as I’ve had quite a few weekends of double duty while my husband works. Anyway, I was looking for something fun (READ: different) to keep the kids entertained while daddy was at work. Since we hadn’t visited Richmond in a while, I decide to venture down for the day. Especially, since it’s such an easy trip from Fredericksburg!

science museum of virginia

www.smv.org


You may think my decision to “go-it-alone” and visit a museum with three small, boisterous children was, shall we say, “a bit adventurous.” BUT, that’s never stopped me before so, why start now, right? Let me tell you…we had a VERY nice time exploring the Science Museum of Virginia that day. My kids truly enjoyed the variety of activities available during our tour.

Learning about the ocean and posing with God of the sea - Neptune!

Some of our favorite exhibits:

  • Imagination Playground – There were so many “hands on” activities for the kids (even for my toddler). We spent most of our time running around, exploring, building, and becoming more educated about the basic components of science, engineering and physics.
  • Gravity Alley – My two older boys got to try out a SEGWAY, something they had never really seen before. It was amazing to watch how well they both controlled their balance as they maneuvered around the floor.

toddler posing on submarine at Science Museum of Virginia

Chase (2) thought it was so cool to stand on a real submarine!


A little about the Science Museum of Virginia

Location:
2500 West Broad Street, Richmond VA 23220

Directions:
From Fredericksburg, take 95 South; take the Boulevard exit #78; bear right onto Boulevard; take Boulevard to West Broad Street (US 250) (4th traffic light); turn left onto West Broad Street and go two blocks; the Museum is on your left.
(Note: the museum is located in a historic train station)

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 am – 5pm. Open Monday January 16, 2012.

Cost: Exhibit Only $11 (Adult 13-59)
Kids (4-12) $10

Memberships are available. Visit www.smv.org for more details.

Stay tuned for our next visit to Richmond’s Children Museum!!

Fredericksburg Steals of the Week!

Today, many of us moms are charged with handling the family’s finances. It is, therefore, our job to find the absolute BEST prices on everything our family needs. One reason we do this is to ensure enough money has been set aside for recreational activities while still remaining within our budgetary limitations.

sale birds
I want to encourage all moms to share, any and all, great “steals” they’ve found in and around the Fredericksburg area. So, to get the ball rolling…each Tuesday, I’ll post something on Facebook asking our fans to share their “Steals of the Week.” I hope ALL Fredericksburg moms can benefit from the postings by grabbing some seriously good deals before they’re gone!

For instance, yesterday afternoon, I found some amazing clearance items (with an additional 50% off) at Dick’s Sporting Goods on Jefferson Davis Highway (Southpoint Shopping Center) in Fredericksburg.

Here’s a quick run-down of the damage I did:

Boys Under Armour Baseball Cleat (perfect for Lacrosse too!) Originally – $29.99
Final Cost – $9.98

Kids Reebok Sports Graphic T-Shirts –
Originally – $15.00
Final Cost – $2.98 each

Ladies Koppen Fleece Jacket –
Originally $70 -
Final Cost – $22.49

Happy shopping and saving Moms!

Join Fredericksburg Fit Moms

If you’re a member of any local fitness center, you might’ve noticed an enormous increase in member attendance today. Holy moly, I must say, the energy in American Family Fitness was absolutely PUMPING! Sometimes, I ponder what the true reasons are for this phenomenon. Is it that people want an early start to looking their best for when the warmer months draw near, OR do their quests for self-improvement run far deeper than just appearance.

As I embark upon year three of my own personal health and wellness commitment, I seriously wonder if most people truly understand the empowerment they’d likely feel by working toward optimal physical health. As I ran my 6th mile, this afternoon, I thought about how much stronger my overall “foundation” has become. Ever heard the saying, “a building with a weak foundation will never withstand the storm?” Wouldn’t you agree that it’s an excellent analogy to how building a stronger “YOU” will only support your endeavors, goals, challenges, and most importantly, self confidence.

fitness highlighted
If you’re interested in making a change this year, and BADLY want to become a fit mom who can easily tote the kiddos around Fredericksburg – check out the following list of local fitness centers, trainers, and/or groups. ALL are HIGHLY recommended by Moms of Fredericksburg!

What’s in Store for Moms in 2012

As the end of 2011 draws near, it’s a perfect time for reflection, rejuvenation, and hope that the New Year will bring health, happiness, and new experiences to make us stronger, AND wiser. For me, at least, I enjoy not knowing what the future will bring because it forces us to trust that fate will place us exactly where we belong. My husband, however, is the EXACT opposite! He needs to know everything so he can plan accordingly.

I can vividly recall this time last year, when I embarked on a new business venture to assist mothers, like me, who were relocating to our area, for one reason or another. At the time, I hadn’t even thought about goals or “resolutions” for 2011. Like they say, “It’s all about timing,” and 2011 seemed like the right time for me to start my new project. Since then, I’ve received SO many signs and messages, along the way, that I can now say, with total confidence, that THIS is exactly where I’m supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had to leap over more than a few hurdles, and I’m sure there are plenty more in my future. BUT, as I continue along this journey, I gain strength and become more committed to accomplishing the tasks that have been placed before me. Some days, it’s easy. Other times, I just have to pick myself up and keep pushing to get to that proverbial “finish line.”
2011 and 2012 written on beach in sand
Many moms, like me, don’t necessarily write down a New Year’s resolution, per se. For one thing, we already have so many “lists,” why add any more to the mix? But, I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t want to look back over their life and notice how the lessons (both good and bad), where all critical ingredients necessary to create the person WE know best.

So, for this year, let’s not worry about making “resolutions.” Just be assured that the time WILL come when you realize SOME type of change is needed. Maybe, it’s breaking a bad habit, letting go of some fear, focusing more on your fitness level and personal appearance, or something completely different. You, and ONLY you, will know when the time is right. Make it count, and make it worth having.

Happiness and Gratitude for the New Year

“When it rains, it pours.” That’s exactly what life has felt like for me as I add up the hours (not to mention the dollars) spent at the doctor’s office during the past month. I don’t really know of any moms who haven’t seen their family’s lives temporarily turned upside down from common childhood illnesses. Our normal routines become completely befuddled as things like laundry, groceries, mail, emails, and whatever else we typically focus on, becomes less of a priority. We hope and pray our children recover quickly, for their sake, AND so things return to normal.

I kept wondering, “How can strep throat, an ear infection, stitches, PLUS a stomach bug ALL invade our home during the busiest time of year?! Just to clarify, it was my toddler who battled those issues over the past several weeks. His siblings and parents, meanwhile, only battled one or two. I was constantly worried and sad for him (and us) but thankfully, by Christmas Day, his big brown eyes glowed again and his appetite was back! I felt as if the dark clouds hanging overhead had suddenly been lifted to reveal a beautiful, blue sky and sun. While my husband and I watched our three children joyfully tear into their Christmas presents, I was nearly overwhelmed with an enormous sense of gratitude.

Unfortunately, for some parents, that consuming state of worry and sadness we experience when our children become sick, never really disappears. Every day, when I log onto Facebook and see a message posted from the Fairy Godmother Project, I’m reminded of this grim reality. If you’re unfamiliar with their mission, please visit the Fairy Godmother Project Blog. You’ll learn how two amazing moms, and several other loving volunteers, joined together to lend a hand to families impacted by pediatric cancer.

Visit Fairy Godmother Project.blogspot.com

My recent experience trying to manage a household while caring for sick children was thankfully, short-lived, and that’s why I was able to put everything else on the back-burner. Unfortunately, life doesn’t get put on hold for families living with a cancer diagnosis. There’s still so much work to be done, bills to be paid, chores to be finished, and sometimes, other children to care for.
good health and wellbeing tag
As I look back at the overall situation, I humbly recognize these unpleasant experiences as priceless gifts. I say this with an unmeasurable feeling of gratitude because I’m eternally thankful for the present health of my children.

New Year’s Day Outdoor Hunt and Hike For Kids

If you’re looking for some outdoor family fun on New Year’s Day that doesn’t involve money, crowds/lines, or over-stimulation…check this out! Every one of Virginias’ beautiful state parks are participating in a First Day Hikes on January 1, 2012.
Happy Family Hike in Autumn
And, as a further incentive to encourage family participation in physical activities, “Virginia Outdoors” is sponsoring a contest with the grand prize being a week long stay at Virginia State Park cabin. Click here for more details about how to enter.

For your convenience, below we’ve highlighted the specific details from 2 participating parks, both of which happen to be less than 30 miles from Fredericksburg.

    Caledon State Park First Day Hike and Possum Present Hunt for Kids!

Location:
Caledon is located in King George County, between Fairview Beach and Owens, about 23 miles east of Fredericksburg on Route 218. From Fredericksburg, take 218 East for 23 miles. Caledon is on the left. Or you can take Rt. 3 east 18 miles, then make a left onto Rt. 206 for another six miles. Next, you’ll turn left onto Rt. 218 and go about one mile where you’ll see Caledon on the right.

Time: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Details:
The Christmas Possum has hidden some final gifts around the trails. Help him find them and your children will earn a holiday reward (think egg hunt). Before the search begins, volunteers will tell the story of the Christmas Possum and then go over the rules for the hunt. After the hunt, hot chocolate will be served along with a warm fire to warm up any cold toes. You can call the park to pre-register (although not required) at 540-663-3861. Just leave a message, if they don’t answer.

Lake Anna State Park

Location: The park lies adjacent to Route 601 off Route 208, 25 miles southwest of Fredericksburg. From I-95, take Exit 118 at Thornburg and travel about four miles on Rt. 606. At Snell, Rt. 606 becomes Rt. 208. Stay on Rt. 208 west for another 11 miles. Turn right onto Rt. 601 (Lawyers Road) and drive three miles. You’ll see the state park sign on your left.

Time: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Details: Free – Children Allowed. Lake Anna State Park is offering a free self-guided hike on Railroad Ford Trail as part of the American’s State Park’s 1st Day Hike program. The trail guide for all of Lake Anna State Park is available online or you can pick one up at the park. For more information, or to make arrangements for groups, contact Lake Anna State Parks’ Visitor Center at 540-854-6245.

Saving Money in 2012 with Coupons -Tips for Moms of Fredericksburg

Guest Post By Fredericksburg Mom, Cristina Gonzales, for Organization Direct

There is a lot of interest in couponing lately, and if you watch TLC’s Extreme Couponing, you know that people take it VERY seriously. The extreme level of savings depicted on the show is NOT the norm, but with a few key organizational tools, you can be well on the way to slashing your weekly grocery budget.

pregnant lady saving money in pink pig bank
Tips on Where to Find Coupons

Coupons can be found pretty much any place you care to look. You’ll find them stuck on products (called “peelies”), on tear pads in many stores, in the Sunday newspaper, on Facebook, in your email, and all over the internet. To find some of the best deals, be sure to “like” the product or company on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and sign up for their emails. Many products, like Seventh Generation and Kellogg’s, send out coupons via email regularly.

Our Favorite Website for Coupons

Tips on Organizing your Coupons

Organizing your coupons is essential, and you have to find a system that works best for you. Some people organize by item type, brand name, or expiration date. Keeping grocery coupons separate from shopping coupons (like department stores) or dining coupons is a good idea, because you don’t need a Macy’s coupon at Giant! To get started on your coupon binder, check out this video.  Or, you can check out this great coupon holder on our website.

Tips on Finding Money Saving Coupons

  • Since so many companies and products utilize emails as a direct marketing tool, open a new email account solely for these emails. This way, the deals don’t clog your regular inbox.
  • Printing coupons can get costly, so only print the ones you will actually use. REMEMBER, there is a print limit for online coupons so, if you see one you know you want, don’t wait!
  • Join a coupon exchange. Locally, you can join the Stafford/Fredericksburg Coupon Exchange on Facebook and share coupons you have to trade and ones you are looking for.

Tips on Store Policies

Know store coupon policies! This is very important, as many store cashiers do not know what their own coupon policy is.  The Krazy Coupon Lady offers a very good list of store policies and you can print the ones you need and keep them in your binder. Coupon policies change frequently, especially with the popularity of Extreme Couponing, so make sure you have the most current one.

Virtual Coupons

Amazon has coupons! Search “coupons,” and it will take you to “Your Coupon Book” where you can clip virtual coupons to apply to your order.

For good deals on dining out visit Restaurant.com, where you can purchase gift certificates to local restaurants like Pancho Villa and Eileen’s, at a steep discount.

Learn to “stack” coupons. Most stores, such as Target, will accept a store coupon AND a manufacturer coupon for the same item. Read more about stacking here.

To learn more tips from the “experts” I recommend visiting the following websites and signing up for free newsletters:

Finally, remember to check the store circular and make a list with your coupons before you go. Sticking to your list is the best way to save money at the store!

Quick and Easy Christmas Craft for Kids

As we begin the one week countdown to Christmas Day, many of us are scrambling about, trying to make last minute gift purchases and finalize plans. Those of us with little ones are also adding as many “age-appropriate” festive and holiday fun activities to our family itineraries because WE KNOW we’ll cherish these moments, even if they don’t quite understand yet just how magical these moments are, AND will be, for years to come.

If any of you Fredericksburg Moms are looking to create a quick and easy holiday craft for school, or while the kids are home over the holidays, I’ve got you covered! This year, I volunteered to help create a simple and easy holiday craft for my son’s kindergarten class to enjoy just before they head off for the winter break. While thinking about what would be appropriate, and easy for the teacher’s to oversee, I remembered purchasing some “Magical Reindeer Food,” in a store last year. I knew my son’s classmates would enjoy this simple, yet exciting, process of creating food for Rudolph and reindeer buddies!

Moms – If you’re in a pinch for an easy, economical way to spread the holiday cheer, I think this a cute idea for neighbors, your child’s classmates, and/or friends, etc.

magical reindeer food recipe

Shopping List:

  • 1 container of Oats (I used Quaker but any brand will do)
  • 1 jar of gold glitter
  • 1 Package (20 count of holiday cookie bags that come with the twist ties – Target has them)

Here’s a link to the “Magical Reindeer Food” poem that you can print out, punch a whole in, and twist under your baggies!

Winter Activities for Fredericksburg Kids

I’m sure there are a lot of Fredericksburg moms around who would agree that two words immediately come to mind when searching for an activity to occupy our children during the coldest, and hottest, months of the year – FIELD HOUSE.

kids playing sports
Although the December weather in Fredericksburg has been fairly mild…don’t be fooled. I’m sure we’ll all be freezing our buns off during the next couple of months! And, if your kids are ANYTHING like mine, they NEED an outlet to release their pent up energy. This generally involves activities requiring a large, open space, something most homes lack. Many times, it’s probably cheaper, in the long run, to involve kids in a winter sport versus splurging on last minute activities like bowling, movies, trips to the mall, etc, over the course of the season.

I highly encourage you moms to take advantage of our local indoor sports center and register your kiddos for sports at the Fredericksburg Field House. Today, December 31, 2011, is last day to take advantage of registration for Winter sports! Visit the Field House website where you’ll find detailed information on youth and high school soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and the Sports Stars Academy, which is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers!

Kids Say the Funniest Things

The following story came just in time for me to share with all the other Moms of Fredericksburg during our weekly “Friday Funnies Facebook” posting. Last night, my husband and I took our children for a quick drive around Fredericksburg to enjoy all of the hard work our fellow residents have put in to making their homes festive for the holidays. When we got back to our house, my seven year old son noticed the nutcrackers on our fireplace mantel were out of order. (“Uh, hello…mom re-arranged them days ago!”) Nevertheless, he and his slightly younger brother quickly began to inspect the rest of our home, hoping to find additional evidence that Santa and/or his elves had visited. This thought was prompted by my suggestion that elves may have been checking up on them? You will not BELIEVE how my little, teensy-tiny comment mushroomed into a full-blown, no-holds-barred holiday operation! My boys immediately ran upstairs and told me they both want to be an elf. They started formulating a plan to be picked up, that very evening, and whisked away to the North Pole for a “hands-on” experience in wrapping presents, etc! Of course, they told me the elves would have them both back home the next day. Oh, and by the way…just so he’d fit in, my oldest told me he wanted a pair of pointy ears!

Instead of getting ready for his bath, I found him in his room, with a Christmas shirt on, and drafting a letter (specifically citing Mom’s permission) to take him and his brother out for a night at the North Pole. He ALSO asked that they make a pit-stop in New Jersey to pick up Grandpa!

Boys letter to Santa

I am seriously beginning to think my children have watched the “Santa Claus” movie (starring Tim Allen) one too many times, and now believe elves take kids to the North Pole to help out during the holidays. Realizing how my comment had spun out of control, my husband quickly tempered the children’s grand plan to head north, explaining that they are never to go ANYWHERE with ANYONE, other than mommy and daddy. Not even Santa or one of his little helpers. The movies create stories for fun and people don’t really fly with jet packs. We sincerely enjoy the spirit and fun of the holidays, however, last night, I saw the look of determination and seriousness on my son’s face that made me question whether he’ll continue to believe next year. Hmmmmm….it’s sad to see them grow-up!

Holiday Gift Etiquette

Let’s face it, some people are extremely difficult to buy a gift for. Have you ever spent a significant amount of time shopping for that “perfect present” only to find out later the intended recipient didn’t really like it? Or, even worse, they re-gifted it back to you at some later date?! Yes, I know, it’s the thought that counts. BUT, spending hard-earned cash on something that wasn’t appreciated and/or useful wastes not only money, but time as well…two valuable commodities many of us are in short supply of these days. There are a good number of people who think they’ll solve this type of situation, expeditiously, by giving money instead. What do YOU do when asked “what do you want for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa,etc,? I cannot say I’ve never just wanted to respond with, “money,” knowing it would make things a lot easier for both the giver AND me.
picture of a lady smiling handing someone a small gift
BUT, personally, I don’t think it’s good etiquette to ask for cash in lieu of a gift. Why? Well, in doing so, you just might set the gift giver up for an unhealthy dose of embarrassment. Think about it for a second. Or, better yet, put yourself in the gift-givers shoes for a moment. You are assuming the gift giver HAS the available cash for holiday gifts. But, did you ever consider the fact that many people often-times rely upon other financial resources to purchase their gifts? How many people today use credit cards (or even redeem credit card points), layaway, OR maybe even borrow the money needed? Sure, we could all use some extra cash, particularly during the holidays, but giving and receiving is not always about what you need and want. It’s that special time of year when friends and family do a little something extra to spread love, joy, gratitude, and peace. There are plenty of “hard to buy” for people in the world. Creativity and thoughtfulness go a LONG way, And the best part is that neither cost any extra.

Ideas for the hard to buy person:

  • Find out where they like to shop. A gift card is always a safe bet for these folks. (If you know they’re struggling financially, they would probably appreciate a practical gift, rather than another new sweater, pair of earrings, etc., etc.) Perhaps a gift card to their favorite hair salon, coffee shop, or restuarant could help free up some cash for them in the future.
  • Or, have you ever considered donating to their favorite charity in honor of them? I did this one year for a friend, who has a birthday during the holidays, and it was very well received.
  • Some scratch-off lottery tickets for the person that you know enjoys them! This would be Grandpa in our family.
Back to School with Food Allergy (Part 3)

Today’s blog post is the next installment in our series regarding going back to school with food allergies. In the last post, I discussed some practical tips to keep your young, food-allergic children safe in school.
Teenagers and young adults represent a special age group when talking about food allergy. In two recent studies, investigators analyzed fatal food allergy anaphylaxis cases reported to a national registry, which was established by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, with the assistance of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). They found that “… it is clear that the greatest number of fatalities…occurs in adolescents and young adults.” Besides the age range, other recurring characteristics include, individuals with known food allergies who consumed foods without asking about ingredients and, not having proper medical treatment available.
As always, the most important step you can take is to make sure the school has a current Epi-Pen® and Food Allergy Action Plan for your child. This piece of advice is true for a student of any age. The majority of teenagers should be able to carry their own Epi-Pen®. Here are some other tips directed at teenagers based on advice from FAAN:

    teenager at school lunch

  • When traveling, make sure any food you take stays in your possession. If the food gets lost, then it may be difficult to obtain other safe food.
  • Keep your Epi-Pen® in the same place in your backpack. If you have a reaction, you won’t have time to search for it. Tell your friends, beforehand, where you keep it and your other medicines.
  • Make sure to room with friends who respect, and understand, your food allergies when going on a class trip.
  • If you experience any harassment, let an adult know. This can be your parent and/or school official.
  • Don’t be polite if you are having a reaction. There is no need to raise your hand, just shout it out.

In summary, the most important steps food allergic teens and young adults can do to protect themselves are to (1) always ask about ingredients in foods and (2) ensure your child has ready access to self-injectable epinephrine and Benadryl. In the last post of this series, I will focus on the recently passed Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAMMA), and what this means for you and your family.
Dr. Jonathan Mozena

Weekend Trip to NYC During the Holidays

Have you ever wondered what New York City is like during the holiday season? Well, read on to find out what my family and I experienced this past weekend.

Like so many Americans, we kicked off the holiday season by tuning in to watch the famous “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” A few weeks later, we again tuned in to watch the lighting of Rockefeller Centers’ Christmas Tree. Although these two spectacular holiday events took place several hundred miles from our home here in Fredericksburg, each only served to further entice our family. So, last weekend, my husband and I packed up our SUV and made the five hour trek north to experience the magic of New York City during the holidays!

Let me start off by saying we’ve got family not far from the Big Apple, so the lodging portion of our budget for this trip was drastically reduced. We timed our mid-morning departure from Fredericksburg perfectly, meaning we didn’t hit a single traffic snag the ENTIRE way. In case you’ve never had the experience, what we accomplished was near impossible.

On Saturday morning, we drove into Manhattan to see Radio City Music Halls’ “Christmas Spectacular,” starring the Rockettes! Lugging three small children (ages, 7, 5 and 2) around Manhattan was very challenging, however, we had lots of family members adults to assist. We definitely needed their help too, because the sidewalks and stores were standing-room only. Thousands and thousands of people were there to enjoy all the holiday cheer New York City had to offer.

Here’e an inside look at Radio City Music Hall! The show was absolutely flawless! So much so, in fact, that I could have sat through the entire production again!

Radio City Music Hall

The Rockefeller Tree was very beautiful, and I am so grateful my children were able to experience it’s magic much the same way I did as a little girl.

New York City provided my family with a very healthy dose of the Christmas spirit this past weekend. I am so thankful to have taken pictures of the entire weekend so we can relive the magic of Manhattan’s holiday madness.

rockefeller Christmas Tree 2011

New York City

Fredericksburg Christmas Tree Farm – PLUS Giveaway!

For many families, Christmas just isn’t “Christmas,” without a REAL tree.

This week, I’ve driven by several Christmas tree sales lots which makes me fondly remember times past when our family would venture out to find the very BEST Christmas tree. Sometimes, we would even go to a farm and chop down our symbol of the holiday. The kids loved to run through the rows of wonderfully smelling balsam while shouting, “I found a good one!” This year, I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed that our family has opted to go with a “fake” tree. You can read about why my husband and I decided against a real tree from an earlier blog post. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t admire another family’s choice to purchase a “real” tree. AND, I do love hearing my friends share their experiences with finding the “perfect” tree.

If you’d like to have the experience of cutting down your very own, personally picked Christmas tree this year, look no further than Snead’s Farm. They have a BEAUTIFUL assortment of Blue Spruce (hard needle) or Pine (soft needle) – each one is ready for your saw and/or shovel.

Snead’s Farm is located in 18294 Tidewater Trail, Fredericksburg, VA 22408. (540) 371-1070. Farm Hours: Dusk to Dawn
Prices are as follows:

Blue Spruce – $60

Pine – $30

By The Way: Do you LOVE a real tree, but always feel guilty about chopping it down for a few weeks of use, only to be discarded after the New Year? Snead’s Farm will help you dig up your tree so you can eventually add it to your family’s property! By obtaining your tree in this manner, Snead’s Farm helps you be “Green” for the holidays, both figuratively AND literally!

Snead’s Farm – www.sneadsfarm.com

christmas tree farm

Snead's Farm - www.sneadsfarm.com


This year, Moms Of Fredericksburg has partnered with Snead’s Farm, to offer one lucky Fredericksburg family the chance to chop down the Christmas tree of their choice, FOR FREE!!

CONTEST DETAILS:
Here’s how to win – just “Like” this post, and your name will be entered into a drawing. The winner will then be announced on Friday night. Merry Christmas and Good Luck!

Moms of Fredericksburg Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap

Celebrating the holiday season just wouldn’t be same for me without baking my family’s favorite Christmas cookies. Through the years, I’ve relied upon a single cookbook for ALL my recipes, and I’m delighted to share one, in particular, that’s become a favorite among those who’ve sampled my cookies.

This past weekend, we took a trip north to celebrate the holidays with my family. This provided an excellent excuse to crack out my baking bible, the “Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook,” and get to work on my family’s favorite Christmas cookies.

Favorite Brand Name Cookbook

Even though I’ve experimented with dozens of recipes over the years, I’ve always stayed true to ONE very simple, yet delicious recipe that seems to receive the most compliments. I have to chuckle because it is such an easy cookie dough recipe, AND it works extremely well with a large variety of ingredients.

This year, I’m sharing this recipe with all Moms of Fredericksburg and with the hope that your family and friends enjoy them as much as we have. 

Drum roll please…the best cookie dough recipe in the world is – 

Philly Cream Cheese Cookie Dough!

Here is the recipe and some pictures of ways I’ve played with such a simple set of ingredients to create my famous Christmas cookies. Year after year, cookie exchange after cookie exchange, these cookies have truly made quiet the positive impression!

Philly Cream Cheese Cookie Dough

1 package (8 ounces) Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, softened

3/4 cup butter

1 cup powdered sugar

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar in a large mixing bowl with electric blender until well blended.

Add flour and baking soda; mix well.

Makes 3 cups of dough * Dough refrigerates very well!

For any variation of this recipe, bake at 325 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes (depending upon your oven). REMEMBER to take them out when the bottom of the cookie is light brown.

Preserve Thumbprints

Shape dough into 1 inch balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet. Indent centers; fill each with 1 teaspoon (or less) of your favorite jelly.

preserve thumbprints

Italian Cookies

Shape dough into 1 inch balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes (until the bottom of the cookie is light golden brown).

Anise Cookies

Anise Glaze

(*note measurements can be varied depending on how many cookies you will be coated)

Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a bowl with 1 tablespoon milk. Add 1/2 tsp pure Anise extract. Then “dip” the tops of your cookies in your glaze and next in your sprinkles.

Please feel free to share your favorite Christmas cookie recipe with other Moms of Fredericksburg! Just respond to this article in the comment section and we’ll publish them for you!

Santa Train Coming to Fredericksburg

Lately my 2 year old son has two favorite words, “ho-ho” and “choo-choo!” That’s why I am so excited to have the opportunity to take him on his very first train ride this year with a special guest, Santa Claus!

If your children are super excited when they catch a glimpse of the Santa, and love all things trains, well, the VRE’s got just the ticket for you, literally.

Here’s the scoop:

santa train

At 9am, on Monday, November 28th, the VRE will begin selling tickets for “Operation Lifesaver Santa Trains.” They can either be purchased online at www.vre.org OR in person at the Fredericksburg Visitors’ Center on Caroline Street. Please note that a max of six (6) tickets can be purchased per person. In addition, the Visitors’ Center will only accept CASH or CHECK.
Plus, our Fredericksburg train station will become a drop-off location for the Marine Corps’ “Toys for Tots” Campaign. you can bet that on the way onto the train, my little guys’ll have an unwrapped present in hand ready to drop-off.

Here’s a listing of train times for the Saturday, December 10 pick-up at the downtown Fredericksburg train station.

Fredericksburg Trains

TRAIN RIDE SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2011

Train # Name Leave From Leave Return
1 Dasher Express Fredericksburg 8:30a 9:30a
2 Vixen Express Fredericksburg 10:00a 11:20a
3 Blitzen Express Fredericksburg 2:00p 3:15p
4 Rudolph Express Fredericksburg 3:30p 4:45p

Tips for Fredericksburg Families Traveling this Holiday

With so many Fredericksburg families traveling to a variety of destinations over the holidays, it’s certainly a good idea to be properly prepared to face whatever challenges may come our way. In light of this, Moms of Fredericksburg would like to offer some “useful” Thanksgiving Day travel tips to help ensure you and your loved ones remain safe and satisfied.

family traveling in RV

First and foremost, make sure you have PLENTY of gas in the car. In this area, particularly, what you think should only take 30 minutes may, in fact, take an hour and 30 minutes, OR MORE! The only thing worse than not moving in traffic is to be walking, with a gas can in hand, to the nearest gas station.
Second, bring along lots of snacks and drinks for children, AND parents! Nothing calms a crying baby faster than a delightfully yummy little snack. And whether you’ll admit it or not, I’m sure you and your husband can appreciate a little something to keep the stomach rumbles away too, right? I know we do.
Third, and this is definitely related to the second, take along toys, books, games, videos, etc., to keep the children occupied (READ: relaxed,quiet and calm.) This goes a LONG, LONG way but I’m sure you mothers already knew that, didn’t ya?
Fourth, Although many vehicles now come equipped straight from the factory with a GPS, many of us are not that lucky. So, if you have’t purchased a portable GPS yet, at least take a map with you. It may be old school to some people, but it’ll pay HUGE dividends when the route your husband planned goes south (figuratively speaking, that is). Better yet, plan at least one alternate route to your destination so, should it become necessary to deviate, you’ll be that much farther ahead of the game.
Fifth, if you happen to be traveling far away for your Thanksgiving feast, do yourself a BIG favor by checking your vehicle’s tire pressure and fluid levels prior to departing. If nothing else, it’ll give you that little extra piece of mind.

And last, but not least, for those unfortunate enough to require using Interstate 95 as your primary means of travel, at least avoid peak travel hours (typically morning and afternoon rush hours). If 95 becomes a parking lot, try Route One. Or, if your husband is anything like mine, have him scour the online maps for alternative routes that are off the beaten path, literally.

Stress Free Holidays for Moms of Fredericksburg

Holy cow if I think back to last year and the holiday madness going through my head as I prepared for a Christmas at home with three young children and dad away. Yes, I enjoyed taking care of all of the preparation, wrapping presents, making lists, baking, shopping, and the many details that us woman find the strength to accomplish during this time of year. However, adding a mile long “to do” list on top of the already full time job we have as mom would send the strongest of woman off the deep end without a little anxiety control.

Here’s a list of ways Moms of Fredericksburg plans to tackle holiday madness. You know, the madness we experience when we shop til we drop, bake until we can’t stand the smell, and micro manage our the next 6 weeks as if our life depends on it!

Learn to delegate more to your teammates: Whether it’s your husband, close friends, grandparents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, or even the baby-sitter, adding extra work to your load and managing it well means you’ll have to ask for help. Don’t do it all! You’ll miss the fun and will be exhausted, cranky and possibly sick come 2012.

Don’t shop when everyone else in Fredericksburg does: Let’s be strategic about when we do our damage ladies. For me, it’s not so much about the dreaded long lines and traffic. It’s more about dealing with the crowds of “toxic shoppers” that haven’t taken their daily dose of kindness. Just this weekend I strolled the streets of downtown Fredericksburg pushing a stroller and was surprised at how many people rushed around me and my three children as if we were in the way. How dare we slow down the sidewalk traffic with a baby stroller?!

Keep it simple: Our expectations are sometimes far greater than those of our children. If you are married to Clark Griswald and could not imagine a holiday without housands of tangled lights, bows and animation, you most likely have a system that works. Thank you for giving our family a great show while we drive the neighborhood! Many of us, however, accept that there are people that find great joy in providing a Christmas spectacular for our young families.

Stay organized with a list, budget and plan: During the holidays, us moms become the Queens of Lists! A list for groceries, a list of what we’ve already purchased, what we need to purchase, and who wants what is enough to make Martha Stewart scream for more egg nog! But, tackling our days with a plan in place, allows us to stay calm and focus on task one at a time. Trying to tackle too many tasks at once sometimes backfires and slows us down.

Overall, let’s try to do the holidays up this year, without allowing madness, stress, anxiety, and rudeness, into our Holiday “orbit.

Christmas Tree Chaos for Moms of Fredericksburg

I cannot believe its already that time of year again when my family and I begin the tree decorating chaos. I say, “chaos,” because we generally have some type of issue come up, it’s always unplanned, AND it’s definitely a problem. At this point, we all just kinda roll with it. I mean, what else are we going to do? I will tell you, though, that last year we finally decided to go with a fake tree. This is because most of the “chaos” we’ve experienced over the years is a DIRECT result of the need to have a “real” tree. After all, who doesn’t want to go cut down their very own christmas tree, use binder-twine to strap it securely (well, sort of) to the top of their car, drag it into the house (needles falling everywhere), and spend the better part of an hour affixing the tree stand to the unevenly cut stump? My Husband and I…that’s who! Right up until about a year ago when we came home after a long day out Christmas shopping with our little bundles of joy to find our beautifully decorated christmas tree, lying on its side, in the middle of our living room floor. Some bulbs were smashed, a few lights refused to work, and the water, meant to keep the tree alive through the holidays, was spilled ALL over the floor. Oh, but did I mention the aroma of the freshly cut pine that had filled our house? Well, you gotta find a bright spot in everything, right?

silver christmas tree laying on floor

Oh, but please don’t think that’s the only thing we gone through with “real” trees. Oh, no, noo, noooo. One year, my husband became enraged by the lack of cooperation he received from our “real” tree. In our festive spirit (and lack of self-control) we hastily purchased an 8 foot tall tree that absolutely refused to sit in our tree stand properly, to the point where he had to nail it to the window frame so it wouldn’t lean to the side. We didn’t want to make our guests have to tilt their heads to appreciate our beautiful tree. My husband doesn’t forget, and he doesn’t forgive. The day after Christmas, he promptly tossed the tree right off the balcony, vowing to NEVER buy a real tree again! Ours is a family of equal opportunists. At least, when it comes to being enraged by Christmas trees. One year, he came home after a week away for work to find me throwing the tree off the front porch. This was one week before Christmas and I DEMANDED he return it because it was dead and leaving all of its needles everywhere. It drove me bonkers to have this occur so early in the season!

The beauty of a real tree!

That’s why I have chosen to include the word, “chaos,” in the title of this blog. Because for as long as my husband and I have been celebrating Christmas together, we’ve accumulated tons of tree trimming memories. Most of them include some type of ill feelings toward our beloved Christmas tree, petty bickering, or both! We woman USUALLY have the perogative to abstain from trying to position the tree in the stand. I don’t know about you and your significant other, but for us, this is typically where tempers become short and verbal tirades become rather lengthy. I enjoy sitting back on the couch, continuously correcting his every mistake, and commenting on why he can’t control his frustrations. “A little to the left, dear, no, back to the right.” I continue to add fuel to the fire while he just about breaks his fingers trying to tighten those ridiculously long screws further and further into the tree trunk until then eventually become stripped. Like I said, I just can’t understand why he becomes so frustrated with the whole experience. “Kidding, honey…just kidding.”

Christmas Tree

Fake but Fabulous (to the kids!) Moms still wishing for a real tree!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the lights. Those blankety-blank lights. Because my husband now refuses to have ANYTHING to do with placing the lights on the tree, it has become my job. I need each light to be positioned just perfectly so that each branch sparkles with flashes of multi-color. Yes, we switched from clear a few years to make our family tree an official “kids” tree.” Oh but wait, we now have a fake tree WITH lights already on it! Hurray – we’ve saved the argument for another topic this holiday season! Stay tuned….

Holiday Show Ticket Giveaway for Fredericksburg Families

There is absolutely NO better way to kick off the holiday season, in Fredericksburg, than to take your entire family to see Fredericksburg Christian Youth Theater‘s (CYT) live performance of “Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical.”

Miracle on 34th Street, Fredericksburg, VA

Just this past summer, my children and I had the distinct pleasure of attending CYT’s presentation of Disney’s “Mulan.” If you’d like to know more about this amazing performance, please read my rave review!

Over the last few months, this immensely dedicated group of VERY talented children (and theater staff) have spent countless hours conducting rehearsals, preparing costumes, creating stage props, and spreading the word about their latest show. All done in an effort to provide Fredericksburg families with a top notch live performance to kick-start the holiday season.

If you have yet to experience one of CYT’s truly entertaining shows, I implore you to check out their latest work. I promise it will touch your heart and warm your soul. Definitely, an unforgettable event you and your kids won’t want to miss!

CONTEST DETAILS:

Here are the specific details on how your family can win 4 tickets to see CYT’s Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical!! Just go to the Fredericksburg Christian Youth Theater’s Facebook account, “like them,” and tell them how much your family would be thrilled to see their holiday show! On Tuesday, November 22nd, CYT will announce the Moms of Fredericksburg family four pack ticket winner on their Facebook page! Simply pick the performance date that works best for your family and your tickets will be waiting for you to redeem at the show!

SHOW DATES AND TIMES:
Friday, Nov 25th – 7:00pm
Saturday, Nov 26th – 2:00pm, 7:00pm
Sunday, Nov 27th – 3:00pm
Friday, Dec 2nd – 7:00pm
Saturday, Dec 3rd – 2:00pm, 7:00pm
Sunday, Dec 4th – 3:00pm

VENUE:
Spotsylvania High School
6975 Courthouse Road
Spotsylvania, VA 22551

PRICES:
$13 – Individual Online
$15 – At-the-Door Price
$11 – Group Discount (10 ticket minimum)

Moms’ Night Out in Fredericksburg – Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Contest

Let me ask all of you mothers something…Just what kind of joke is a Mom’s Night Out (MNO), anyway, if it doesn’t start until AFTER the kids go to bed?! I mean, when you still have to help with the evening chores, dinner, bath, books and bed, you end up feeling so worn out that the thought of going out seems like too much trouble! And, if you do decide to venture out with your significant other, the next morning’s routine seems to be “off” due to a lack of sleep or a hangover (kidding, ladies). But in all seriousness, my opinion is that we moms should ONLY redeem our “once in a while MNO pass,” IF it’s truly a night out.

Moms' Night Out!

So, in keeping with my thoughts on this extremely important matter (slightly kidding, ladies), I would like to make the following offer one lucky Moms of Fredericksburg fan who would like to enjoy my version of a true MNO. The lucky fan will get to watch the “sold out” 7:30 pm movie of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, with 3 of her closest friends on Friday, November 18, 2011?! Again, show time is 7:30 pm at the Regal Cinema on Plank Road in Fredericksburg. Like I said, moms, tickets for this showing are completely SOLD OUT. It’s a good thing Moms of Fredericksburg was able to snatch up 4 tickets just moments before these hot items were completely gone! I’ve already heard several complaints from a few of my girlfriends who were disappointed that I opted to giveaway these tickets instead of using them for our own MNO. But, the truth is, I’m always looking for ways to show appreciation to the readers who take precious time out of their days to read what Moms of Fredericksburg has to say.

Here’s how to win:
Just post a message on your Facebook wall asking your Fredericksburg friends to stop by Moms of Fredericksburg’s Facebook, like us, and tell us why YOU so deserve a MNO pass. Contest ends Monday, November 14 at noon!

So – my next question is – Team Edward or Team Jacob!??

Free Tutoring Help for Fredericksburg Kids

homework poster

Now that we’re all back in the saddle of school these days, homework has become a vital part of our daily routine. Seeing the amount of homework my first grader brings home each day makes me cringe at how our homework time will increase exponentially as all three of our children grow older. For many Fredericksburg families, especially for those households where both parents work outside the home, it can become somewhat chaotic at night, after having been away all day. For single parents, I can only imagine how trying it must be to cook dinner, complete daily chores, play with the kids AND devote an hour or more working on homework.

I recently grabbed a flier at the local library, thinking it would be of interest to parents needing homework help. Did you know the Central Rappahannock Regional Library offers FREE LIVE TUTORS to help with homework? That isn’t all, either. They also have writing and foreign language labs! These services are provided 7 days a week from 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Visit the library website for more details – you’ll need an active library card to take advantage of this resource.

This website makes me very happy because I have the opportunity to share relevant information with so many others in our wonderful community. It also gives me a great online resource for my own future reference, thereby eliminating messy paper build-up on my desk.

A great lesson in giving for Fredericksburg children

With less than two weeks left until Thanksgiving, most families have already caught the holiday “bug.” Personally, I try to hold off beginning my families’ official start to the Christmas season until Thanksgiving day. As it currently stands, there are still plenty of leaves left on the trees, the radio stations have not yet started playing any holiday music, and we are still fine tuning the details for allocating time with distant family and friends. Plus, I’ve just begun gathering recipes for ways to update our Thanksgiving feast staples. Maybe some mascarpone cheese in the mashed potatoes, dried cherries in the stuffing, and yet another attempt at turkey cut-out jello jiggles. (This, by the way, is the most difficult part of Thanksgiving for me – trying to use cookies cutters in jello!) All of this preparation is, of course, truly worth it because our children will remember these special moments and traditions as they grow older.

christmas around the world

My children, however, have already fast forwarded to the next big holiday. sound familiar? This very well may be because they met Santa last week at the Fredericksburg mall!? My husband and I believe it also sparked some heartfelt diligence on our children’s part as their lists are complete and ready to be mailed away to the North Pole.

But, before they become consumed by the giant commercial Christmas machine of magazines, commercials, internet, etc., my little guys will have shopped for children they don’t know, in support of Operation Christmas Child. For the past few years, we’ve made it a family tradition to provide each of our children with a budget appropriate to purchase small items. These gifts are then placed in a shoe box and sent out to a less fortunate child in another country. Our kids are old enough now to understand that not everyone in the world lives in a house, owns a vehicle, and eats three meals a day.

For more details concerning a donation to the National Samaritan’s Purse “Operation Christmas Child Week of Giving,” which is going on from November 14 through November 21, please visit their website and follow the instructions, drop off locations, etc. You can involve your children by letting them select a boy or girl (or both), the age of the child, AND there’s even a list of suggested items to fill up your shoe box.

From my perspective, it’s truly been a rewarding experience to teach my children about the great joy of helping others. They were SO excited to personalize their shoe boxes, and made sure the children receiving them, received our families’ message of hope, love, and joy this holiday season.

Operation Christmas Child Boxes Ready to Go!

Spotsylvania County Children Receiving a Call from Santa’s Helper

little girl getting phone call from santa

Can you still vividly remember the moment, as a child, when you came to that awful conclusion Santa Clause wasn’t real, and mom and dad were the ones REALLY enjoying your homemade cookies and milk on Christmas Eve? Most kids will tell you they can’t wait to grow up and be an adult. Well, I can tell you, with complete honesty, that this was one of those moments during my childhood when growing up didn’t seem to be all it was cracked up to be.

Which is why we, as parents, need to do everything we can to create those “magical moments” for our children. Soon enough, they’ll understand all too well just who’s been leaving nothing but a few cookie crumbs on the plate meant for Santa.

So…to make sure my boys reap the full benefit of Christmas, this afternoon, I signed up for the Spotsylvania Parks and Recreation Department’sPhone Calls from Santa’s Helpers Activity.”

Here’s the scoop -

Ages: 3-6 Note – (After explaining that my 7 year old would NOT be happy if his younger brother got the call and he didn’t, they allowed me to sign him up too!)

Deadline to Register: 12/2/11

Phone Call Date and Times:

Wednesday, December 7 between 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Thursday, December 8 between 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

Fee: $3 per child

It’s my sincere hope that Santa’s call will instill, within my children, the true spirit of the holidays and, at the same time, fill their little hearts with great excitement and joy!

Note: In person registration is required as you will be asked to complete a brief questionnaire so that the phone call can be personalized.

YMCA Hosts 19th Annual Turkey Trot in Fredericksburg, VA

It’s already November again, and for many of us Fredericksburg runners, it’s time to gear up for two local holiday traditions: the 19th Annual Mary Washington Healthcare YMCA Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K and Tot Trot 1 Miler on the morning of Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 24, 2011. Last year, my husband and I loaded up our jogging strollers and ran the entire race while pushing our three sons! When it was all over, we headed back home and enjoyed our holiday feast without the guilt – mommy and daddy earned each and every calorie.

turkey running

Whether you’re new to Fredericksburg, or have been running the Turkey Trot as a yearly family tradition, I think we would all agree that participating in such a community oriented activity makes you feel right at home. For many local families, this may be your first year spending the holidays in the Fredericksburg area. These races are a great way to join the community and combat the sadness of missing family and friends during the holiday season!

Visit the YMCA’s racing website for more details on the Turkey Trot 5k Run/Walk and the Youth 1 Mile Run.
To register online visit Race Timing Unlimited.org.

Hot Tip: If you are unable to pick up your race packet on Wednesday, November 23rd (between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm at James Monroe High School), plan to arrive extra early on race day. Fredericksburg has HUNDREDS of faithful turkey trotters!

Today – Spotsylvania County Lt. Colonel Mike Timm to Address Abduction Attempts

There is no question about it, we Moms of Fredericksburg have been cautiously monitoring recent reports of attempted abductions within our communities. It is good to hear that the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office will be addressing our community concerns at a press conference, scheduled for 2:30 pm today, at their offices located at 9101 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania, VA 22553.

For many of us mothers, it’s just not possible to physically drop by to hear what the Sheriff has to say in person. Since no television stations intend to send out a news crew for this event, we’ll just have to rely on local print media to provide the information to us. I have a slew of concerns regarding these alleged abductions, however, first on my list is to find out how law enforcement intends to address what “appears” to be a rise in abduction allegations subsequent to the initial incident in the Salem Fields community last month.

I’ve copied and pasted below – the press release from Lt. Colonel Mike Timm. Thank you Lt. Colonel Timm for addressing our concerns!

Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office 9101 Courthouse Road
Spotsylvania, Va. 22553
Phone 540.582.7115
Fax 540.582.9448
Press Release

Contact: Lieutenant Colonel Michael S. Timm For Immediate Release
Phone: 540.507.7195

This press conference was called today to provide updated information to the citizens of Spotsylvania and neighboring jurisdictions regarding the steps we intend to take, as well as what has already been implemented, by the Sheriff’s Office to provide a feeling of safety to our residents.

An investigative strategy meeting was held today at the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office that included every detective currently working to resolve the recent suspicious incidents involving female children and adult victims.

Multiple items were discussed and plans have been put in place to move forward in a proactive manner with this investigation. One thing I wish to assure the citizens of this community is that you should feel safe conducting your day to day activities; however, as I indicated earlier, take appropriate precautions regarding your personal safety, and those of your children.

The community can rely on, and expect, several things of your Sheriff’s Office:

We will continue to have additional manpower and staffing out from 6:30 AM until 4:30PM, specifically patrolling the residential communities and associated bus stops everyday.
When appropriate, investigators will continue to perform neighborhood canvassing to glean additional information to either corroborate what we already know, or dispel anything that is not considered valuable to the investigations.
The Sheriff’s Office will be producing a bilingual flier that will be passed out to the Hispanic business community in an attempt to assist in locating Jacinto Osael Hernandez Andrade, the suspect we hold warrants for from the first event.

In addition, certain information pertaining to the named suspect in the first event has been shared with The Department of Homeland Security and Interpol, again in an effort to locate and take him into custody.
There will be additional forensic interviews conducted on some victims to gain further information from them that they themselves may have discounted as unimportant during the first interviews, but may relate to at this time.
Since school is not in session tomorrow for Election Day polling, additional staffing will be present to patrol residential communities throughout the day.

The Sheriff’s Office is treating each of these incidents as credible and using appropriate investigative techniques in all of them; we are sharing and exchanging resources and information with numerous other law enforcement entities. We want to do the best we can to make everyone feel safe. We will continue the additional patrols indefinitely to ensure that all citizen’s feel like they are safe as they go about their daily lives. We are working very closely with the school division to provide the greatest presence possible, both in the schools during the day as well as all after-school events.

Again, we ask that the citizens of this community be vigilant in exercising good, safe practices for personal safety. Have school-age children walk in groups, and when possible, have them walk with either older siblings or parents. We need each of you to continue reporting suspicious incidents to authorities.

If you could be at the press conference today, what questions would you have?

New Media Helping Moms Keep in Touch After the Move

For only launching Moms of Fredericksburg.com less than a year ago, we absolutely MUST give serious credit to social media outlets (a/k/a New Media) for substantially bolstering our marketing efforts. Why? For one thing, it’s free. But it’s so much more than that. By conducting expert research, participating in on-line education, and possessing a voracious appetite for knowledge, we have become quite knowledgeable regarding the proper utilization of social media to reach, and most importantly, engage our customers – Moms! AND we’ve been able to accomplish this without spending a dime to advertise. The fact that studies show we mothers are one of the largest end users of social media helps quite a bit too. In 2010, a study conducted by Baby Center, LLC found that over a four year period, there was a 465% increase in Moms using social media!

soical networking

SOCIAL MEDIA HELPS MOMS “K.I.T.”

Having said that, I’d like to switch gears now and focus on how Facebook has personally helped me stay in touch with all of the friends I’ve made throughout the years of moving up and down the East Coast. As old fashioned as it may sound today, I’m sure your parents and grandparents remember a time when hand-writing a letter, slapping a stamp on it, and sending it off through the Post Office was THE way to keep in touch with friends. Can you honestly imagine doing that now? Or better yet, how about taking your rolls of film to the store so they could be developed BEFORE you mail them out? Beyond that, who of us REALLY has the time each day to call every friend and chat when sending a couple lines of text via email would suffice? Personally, I know I don’t. BUT, with social media outlets like Facebook, I can now stay in touch with all of my dear friends AND stay on schedule. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done.

Many years ago when my husband and I first began our moving frenzy, we didn’t have any children to take care of which gave us ALOT more time in the day. Today, we’ve added several children to the mix, and our daily “To Do” lists have grown substantially as our priorities have adjusted to parenting. Every now and then, we each get a few minutes to pick up the phone and call a friend but, for the most part, Facebook has been our primary source of personal communication. I can still remember sitting at home, as a new mother who just left corporate America, and getting an email from a former colleague who invited me to join this new thing called “Facebook.” More than six years have passed since I received that invite, and had a decided to decline it, Jackie and I would most likely have lost touch.

cartoon family moving in van

The number of “mom” friends I’ve made over the past 7 plus years has greatly increased, as have my fond memories of living in multiple cities along the East Coast with them. Each morning, I find great pleasure in opening my Facebook page and seeing the pictures of how my friends’ children have grown. This “New Media” stuff definitely keeps “Moms on the Move in Fredericksburg” in touch with the multitude of friends we’ve made along our journey.
Now, having said that, I can tell that I’ll ALWAYS send REAL holiday cards to those we hold dear to our hearts. It just wouldn’t be the same, you know what I mean. After all, there is something very special about receiving those holiday cards in the mailbox each year.

holiday stamps

Don't you look forward to seeing the holiday stamps each year?!

I accept and endorse the new digital era…up to a point! But the moment we start receiving holiday “e-cards” just may be the day I pick the phone up and call the person who gave it to me. Catch my drift?

Back to School with Food Allergies (Part 2)

Today’s blog post is the next installment in our “Back-To-School” series regarding food allergies. Remember from the last post, we discussed some of the science associated with this subject. This time, we’ll focus on some practical tips to keep your children safe.
kids eating lunch at school

One of THE most important steps you can take is to make sure your school has several non-expired Epi-Pens® and a Food Allergy Action Plan for each child. A Food Allergy Action Plan is typically filled out by your child’s allergist.

Regardless of what setting a reaction occurs, it should be treated in the same manner. If the symptoms are isolated to either the skin or gastrointestinal tract, and mild in nature, treating the problem with an anti-histamine should be sufficient. If, however, the symptoms are more severe (like losing consciousness, throat constriction, wheezing/shortness of breath, or vomiting) then the Epi-Pen® (or Epi-Pen Jr. ®) should be administered immediately. Emergency services should then be notified for further possible treatment and observation. If you are unable to determine whether the reaction is mild or severe, epinephrine should be administered. The potential side effects of epinephrine are negligible compared to the potential consequences of under- treating an allergic reaction.

In order to prevent reactions, you should emphasize to your child that he/she cannot eat foods from other kids. Parents need to make sure their children understand that ONLY those specific foods provided, or approved of, are safe for ingestion . There is no evidence that policies like “peanut-free” classrooms/lunch tables, requiring hand-washing after food contact, placing restrictions on sharing foods, or isolating children with food allergies leads to a decreased number of reactions. I advise the parents of my patients to place the least amount of reasonable restrictions on other children while, at the same time, offering adequate protection for their allergic child.

Here are some additional tips adapted from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network:

See the Allergist: Make sure to have an updated Food Allergy Action Plan.

Meet with key school staff: Befriend the school nurse, talk with your child’s teacher and provide allergy-free snacks at the beginning of the school year so that your child won’t feel left out during parties and celebrations.

Check medications: Make sure that medications available to your child have not expired. Work with your Allergist to confirm that the right dose is listed for your child’s current weight.

Keep records: Make sure all of your school forms are up to date with your current contact information, including cell phone number. Keep copies of important documents.

Offer to volunteer: If your schedule allows, consider volunteering to be the room parent so that you can be involved in classroom celebrations which may involve food. Volunteer to accompany the class on a field trip.

In the next blog post in this series, I will focus on tips for teenagers with food allergies.

As always, you can learn about pollen counts and access medical information about allergic conditions and asthma at our website. www.allergypartners.com/fredericksburg
Dr. Jonathan Mozena
Topics
• Science
• Tips
• 504 plans and IHPs
• FAAMA
• Teen tips

Kids’ Birthday Parties in Fredericksburg, VA

As parents, we do the best we can to manage our expectations when it comes to hosting our children’s birthday parties. After all, if you think about it, it really doesn’t take THAT much to make a child feel special. From the time of my oldest son’s first party, I’ve since become quite the expert with regard to the “Do’s and Don’ts” of birthday celebrations.
happy birthday blocks
Of all the mistakes I’ve made over the years, none is more important for me personally than to NOT make the party an “Over-The-Top” production. With three children, that means three birthday parties to plan and budget for throughout the year. It all adds up and the last thing a parent needs during a celebratory time is to stress out over money and party logistics. I do, recognize, however, that there are many mothers that are just the most crafty and talented party planners. You know who you are – the “Martha’s” of the world. If you can find the time, money, and resources to plan a really unique birthday party for your child, I hope to be a guest! But parental perception is certainly NOT the same as our children. As a result, our expectations, can take priority over our child’s. In the end, both parent and child loose out on a very special moment by sweating the small stuff. Ultimately, little things like cleaning the house, shopping for food, making sure the weather cooperates, etc., etc., aren’t what parents need to be concentrating on. It’s more about celebrating another milestone, another year of growing, learning and making our kids’ for special.

This year, we decided to eliminate some of the extra work that goes into hosting a kids’ party at home. Instead, we opted to have his party at the Fredericksburg Field House. For an hour, my son played football and soccer with 10 of his friends. The activities were led by a Field House activity coach who made sure the kids enjoyed themselves in a safe manner. While the children played, the parents watched and mingled. Afterward, we went to a private party room for pizza, cake, and to open presents.

halloween cake and ghosts pops

A great alternative to treat bags - cake pops! www.artipop.com

kids playing football on indoor turf

The birthday boy picked his favorite game to play - football!

I cannot tell you how little work my husband and I actually did in preparation for this party. Well, okay, I’ll tell you. Not very much at all. It was so nice to be able to just sit back and watch our son show-off as his scored a touchdown at his birthday party. What was ALSO very nice is that we didn’t have to worry about cleaning up ANYTHING! Nothing, NADA, zilch. What a relief!

Moms of Fredericksburg Fitness Partner for the Week!

I’ve documented my journey about how, and why, I became a “fitness mom.” That’s my way of describing a mom who prioritizes her physical fitness and overall health each and every day.

running shadows

This week, October 24 – 30, 2011, my fitness center, American Family Fitness, is allowing members to “bring a friend for the week!” Are there any moms out there desperate to get back into shape?! Please join me for the week at the gym. We will learn and motivate one another as we bolster our personal commitment to stay in shape.

All you have to do is email me at dina@momsoffredericksburg.com. I will gladly support your decision to make personal fitness a priority in your life. Why would I take time out of what is already an over-taxed schedule? Because motivation is the key to achievement and I find great pleasure in helping others, that’s why! A little over a year ago, several local moms inspired me to complete a half marathon! I achieved my goal, despite not being able to a run a mile continuously. Trust me, moms. If I can do it, you can too!

I know all of the excuses because I’ve used them in the past. But let me tell you, moms, American Family Fitness has great child care. It’ll be a truly eye opening experience to see dozens of other moms (who in all shapes and sizes) taking advantage of the opportunity to work out while their children are cared for in a safe and pleasant environment.

Come on ladies, who’s ready to get an early start on the holidays???!!!

Halloween Candy Challenge for Moms in Fredericksburg

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m somewhat concerned about my ability to control myself next week when our house becomes inundated with overflowing halloween baskets full of chocolate and other goodies.

candy corn
You see, I try to adhere to this little strategy each year where I purposely wait until the last possible moment to purchase halloween candy. I do this because I know my husband and I will “sample” each bag, just to make sure it is appropriate to hand out. We wouldn’t want to give out candy that didn’t meet “our standards,” now would we? I am usually pretty good with keeping my snacking in check but, for some reason, chocolate and candy ALWAYS seem to get the best of me! I actually wish my children would become a little stingy with their candy just to protect it from mom and dad. If, however, this Halloween is anything like those that have come before it, my family will most assuredly indulge in a variety of sweets to mark the beginning of the holiday season.

As for myself, I plan to follow a NEW strategy…one I hope to actually stick with, THIS time! I am going to publicly confess (on Facebook) my candy “sins,” each and every day, including just how many pieces I’ve eaten, to all you mothers out there who face the same dilemma. And just to make it official (hopefully, that will in some way help me adhere to it), I am going to call it the HALLOWEEN CANDY CHALLENGE!

How about it, Moms of Fredericksburg? Are there any other mothers out there ready to accept the challenge?

Together, we can share with one another, all of our secrets for combatting temptation and finding the willpower NOT to become a savage candy monster, devouring all of our children’s halloween candy.

Here are some tips from the “experts” for avoiding Halloween candy.

Mommy Humor – Learning, growing, and laughing with each child!

In the process of changing my youngest son’s diaper yesterday, I happened to reach down for a wipe and noticed there were only a few left. Having just gone to the grocery store, I laughed as I recalled the days when my oldest son was of similar age and being in a near panic at the thought of being down to just 2 BOXES! My…oh…my, times really do change as we become more and more experienced mothers!

Here’s a small list of some striking differences between our firstborn and our current status as parents to multiple children. I am curious to know if these changes mimic your life as well. Please let us know what else you can think of!

mother goose with baby duckling

THEN – Diligently washed each piece of new clothing ( in baby detergent only) before DARING to dress the baby in them.

NOW – Tear the sales tags off with our teeth and say, “Arms up, baby cakes. Mommy has some new clothes for you!”

THEN – Sterilized, by hand, the bottles, nipples, and pacifiers after each and every use.

NOW – The dishwasher is proudly doing the job, at least a few times each week.

THEN – Stocked up on boxes of diapers, just in case of some emergency, i.,e., earthquake, hurricane, snowstorm, rain, etc, etc.

NOW – Down to my last five, but I’m pretty sure there are some swim diapers around here somewhere!

THEN – Read as many parenting books as possible, then forced my husband to read every highlighted part, line by line. I paid close attention to what the “experts” had to say about all facets of my babies’ life.

NOW – Having cared for my children each and every day of the last 7 plus years, I feel confident enough to pick and choose what’s best for them because MOM knows best! All the so-called “experts” seem to have a different opinion these days. This type of confusing, and sometimes incorrect, advice can send a diligent mom straight to the looney bin!

THEN – I resolved to NEVER spoil my children. Who wants their child to act like that little brat we often see in the mall, right?

NOW – I NEVER say NEVER when it comes to parenting! There are times when spoiling your child is appropriate. I just don’t let it get out of control, or happen too often.

THEN – My children will never talk back, or be “fresh.” .

NOW – Well, let’s just say that this is a work-in-progress. A daily struggle, at times. Some days are better than others BUT I WILL win this battle…Someday.

THEN – The baby has a low grade fever. We need to call the doctor for an appointment asap.

NOW – 102? Ah, they’ll be just fine with some extra rest, pain relief, liquid, and extra hugs.

THEN – The pacifier falls on the floor so you wash it with soap and hot water for at least 2 minutes, just to make sure EVERY little germ is gone.

NOW – Rinse off for a few seconds, wipe off on our clothing, OR just use our mouth as a quick sterilizer. Hey, whatever’s available!

Moms React to Attempted Child Abductions in Fredericksburg

By now, many Fredericksburg moms have heard of the two recent attempted child abductions in our area. Thank goodness, both of these children got away and were able to provide surprisingly good descriptions of the perpetrator. These young girls should be recognized for their bravery and understanding of stranger awareness. Unfortunately, not every child knows what to do in these circumstances. If you feel your child falls into this latter category, I strongly suggest you check out the related blog link below which mentioned a movie specifically suited to teach stranger awareness.

school bus with school boy watching

Please recall from my recent blog about stranger safety, the fantastic DVD titled, “The Safe Side,” which is a wonderful teaching aid for children (ages 4 to above) about the importance of stranger safety awareness.

Those of you who’ve had a chance to review this DVD will likely recognize one of it’s two creators, John Walsh. Walsh is the host of the long running hit television series, “America’s Most Wanted.” I’m sure anyone familiar with his personal background knows he lost his son, Adam, to a horrific kidnapping incident in 1981. His vast experience in this particular area lends additional credibility to the DVD’s message.

These two attempted kidnapping incidents occurred only eight days apart. And though greatly disturbing to us as local residents, the Greater Fredericksburg area is, and will continue to be, a fantastic location to raise your family. If anything, these should serve as a reminder that we residents need to be particularly vigilant to better protect our families, friends, and neighbors from harm. The fact of the matter is, wherever you live in our blessed country, your family is still vulnerable to crime. As moms, we need to stay on our toes, educate our children about the potential real dangers associated with strangers, and unite with other community members to provide a more effective net of protection for our children. As much as I absolutely adore Fredericksburg, I realize, neither it nor any other place, will ever be EXACTLY like the fictionalized “Mayberry.” Unfortunately, we DO live in a world where criminals prey on unsuspecting victims, so we need to do our part and keep Fredericksburg safe for our children.

Sports Registration for Fredericksburg Girls and Boys

If you’re new to the area, or even if you’ve been around for a while, you likely know there are two sports that have been steadily increasing in popularity here in the Fredericksburg area – Soccer and Lacrosse! When my family first moved to Fredericksburg, my husband and I quickly learned the area offered a few different options for introducing soccer to our children. Many parents who’ve been living in Fredericksburg will advise you to start with the Field House for soccer basics if your children are preschool age.

young kids in sports gear

Another well respected option in Fredericksburg is FASA or Fredericksburg Area Soccer Association. My older sons have played the last couple of seasons with FASA and, personally, I think it’s a wonderful option for instilling those necessary soccer skills to succeed as they grow and mature.

Yet another option is to seek out one of the well organized soccer teams available through the county Parks & Recreation Department. You will find active links on the Activities Page of our website under Fitness for the Entire Family. ALL of these choices are recommended options. It’s entirely up to you to decide which best fits the needs and interests of your family.

There are several factors we as parents look for prior to committing to a team sport. The cost and schedule are usually the two biggest issues for many families.

As far as lacrosse goes, this year will be my family’s first foray into the sport itself. My oldest son will strap on his VERY expensive gear to begin what his father and I hope to be many year’s worth of enjoyment.

If you are unfamiliar with Lacrosse clubs in our area, the Spotsylvania County Lacrosse Club (a/k/a SCLC Ravens) is another good option for youth and high shcool level lacrosse. Spring registration is now open for boys and girls lacrosse.

Speaking of which, although we’re a little apprehensive about the initial financial investment for required lacrosse gear which can exceed $200, (especially considering our son likes EVERY sport!) I am truly grateful to live in an area where there are so many unique sports opportunities for my children. We have our fingers crossed that his interest in the sport grows as he begins training with a grassroots lacrosse camp at the Field House later this month. If, for some reason, lacrosse doesn’t make our sons’ list of “things I want to be signed up for,” at least his father and I know we can swap out any unused gear at our local Play it Again Sports.

It wasn’t very long ago that it would have seemed somewhat absurd of me to put this much time and energy into organized sports for my children. After all, they seemed to switch sports interests faster than they changed their socks! But I’ve quickly come to realize just how important sports are with regard to shaping our children’s perceptions about life and what role they play within it. Keeping your kids too busy to get into trouble is just one of the many perks, however, it really is more about the benefits your entire family reaps as you become more embedded in your community. I mean, think about. How many times have you ended up making long lasting friendships with the parents, coaches, and volunteers? And how about the team spirit and comraderie created through countless games, practices and season-ending celebrations?

There is much, much more, to be gained by our children from participating in organized sports. If you were involved in any as a child, I”m sure you too can relate to the following list of character building benefits attributed to being part of a sports team:

Physical exercise – even for the youngest child, helps to get them prepared for a vital, healthy lifestyle.

Confidence – practice, dedication, and commitment all play a significant role in developing self-confidence. Sports introduce, refine, and showcase this invaluable character trait which can then be utilized in ALL aspects of life.

Academics – studies show that children who are involved in team sports are more likely to achieve academic success.

Leadership and Dedication – as our children mature, their involvement with sports becomes greatly imbedded in who they are as adults. They are taking that unnecessary extra step to exercise, practice, and remain focused to a season of hard work, some of which doesn’t always pay off in a win for the team. It will, however, teach your child vitally important skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.

Finding a Hair Stylist when you move to Fredericksburg, VA

Have you ever cheated on your hair stylist? Most of the time, it’s not their lack of talent or skill. Maybe it was just reality setting in…telling you your hair was in dire need of a fresh look? From time to time, this does happen to yours truly, especially with the addition of a third child. I mean, really, who has time to sit in a salon and get your hair done? I barely have the time to even schedule one, let alone make it there on time. I know I’m not alone on this. BUT, if you have been committed to one stylist, imagine moving to a new area with no one to rely upon for a good recommendation. For many of us Fredericksburg moms, it’s a recurring scenario each time we relocate. And if you’re like me, you either google, “best hair stylist in Fredericksburg,” read reviews on-line, and/or ASK one of your new neighbors.

hair stylist

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when seeking out a new stylist:

1. Price – Do they have a sliding scale based upon the stylist’s level of expertise? In other words, are you willing to pay $40 more for someone just because they have been cutting hair for over 10 years?

2. Coloring – Are the technicians trained on the latest coloring techniques, products, treatments, etc?

3. Atmosphere – Do you want a true salon experience when you block out 2 hours of your day for “updating” or do you just want to get in and get out.

4. Availability – Do they have evening and weekend hours?

A section of our website’s online directory is specifically dedicated to “mommy time.” It’s reserved just for beauty. So, please share all of your recommendations for both hair salons and spas in the greater Fredericksburg area! Why?” Because “moms want to know!”

Safety comes first for Moms in Fredericksburg, Virginia

man in peep whole

Moms, I felt compelled to share the following incident with you to serve as a reminder for those of us who sometimes become complacent living in such a peaceful, relatively safe area.

The other day, I had just put the baby down for his afternoon nap and was digging into some household chores when someone rang the front door bell. My initial reaction was one of anger at whomever was about prematurely wake my son up. After all, doesn’t everyone know it’s nap time in suburbia? My frustration, however, was soon replaced by a sense of apprehension as I noticed a young male standing at my door, motioning for me to open it. I had seen him walking along the road earlier in the day, less than a mile from my home. He had no identifying information on his clothing, nor did he offer to provide any. While attempting to convince me that he was harmless, he continued to move his hand around to the small of his back. Needless to say, I flat out refused to open the door, OR have anything to do with whatever it was he was trying to sell.

Not long after this incident, I was outside with the babysitter explaining why it’s not a good idea to open the door for uninvited guests I noticed the same guy down the street at a neighbor’s house. When I tried to explain that our neighborhood has rules against “soliciting,” the dude got mad and made a snide comment about my neighborhood being “too good” for this type of activity.

Honestly, moms, it’s really got nothing to do with being “too good.” What it DOES have to do with is a matter of safety, both for myself, AND my family! I will not apologize to anyone for doing my best to ensure the safety and well-being of my children. And neither should you. Whether it was for a legitimate purpose or not, It’s MY right to decide.

There are plenty of not-so-nice people out there who prey on the fear or complacency of well-intentioned homeowners – especially stay-at-home moms and senior citizens. Don’t become a statistic. In this day and age, door-to-door business solicitation has become increasingly rare and should be scrutinized for anything nefarious. Are they there to sell you some product or service, or are they trying to get a good look at your house, casing it for a future break-in? All you have to do is google, “home invasions” to realize just how serious, and deadly, they can be. The fact that one of the those thugs from that awful home invasion in Connecticut is in the process of being convicted for their atrocious acts has not been lost on me.

Sorry to sound so preachy moms, but I want everyone to be safe and be viligant. Don’t be a victim!

Teaching our children stranger safety at a young age is just as important! Please check out The Safe Side for more information on the award winning video created by America’s Most Wanted, John Walsh, which shows children how to stay “smart, cool and safe.”

Fredericksburg Business Referrals – ONLINE is WOM for Moms.

As the founder of Moms of Fredericksburg, I’ve been all over Fredericksburg, scoping out great finds to add to our area’s newly launched website, dedicated solely to mothers. Although our site has multiple paying sponsors, I have also selectively sought out respected businesses to add to some of the functional online directories. I do this, NOT because they paid us, but because it’s extremely important that we ONLY recommend the very BEST Fredericksburg has to offer.

Here is a testimonial provided by just one of my sponsors – American Family Fitness Operations Manger

“She is the living definition of Word of Mouth Advertising (WOM). Her business, Mom’s of Fredericksburg (MOF), is a resource of information and products for families and individuals. Dina listens. In a world where not too many people listen, SHE does. She listens to Moms and fills the need of the community on her site. Dina shares her experiences, good and bad, so that her followers don’t waste time or flock to her recommendation. MOF has evolved in its short time of existence. Recently MOF added a Marketplace. I personally easily uploaded a stroller I hope to sell.

MOF is a useful, legitimate resource for families and the like. The site is professional, user friendly, and updates just as much as Facebook!
We advertise on the MOF site. We like that Dina educates people about local products and services. She identifies the needs of the community and provides the opportunity for local businesses to offer solutions. Dina provides the tools for consumers to share information, like the new Marketplace. Dina studies, listens, and responds immediately and effectively.

Thanks Dina, and MOF, for providing a user friendly reference for local families!”

Make no mistake, ladies. I am on an uncompromising mission to create a truly functional, faster than lighting, online resource for mothers, families, and area newcomers. Actually, I want Moms of Fredericksburg to be THE resource for anyone seeking a great recommendation for anything from where to eat to what to do with your kids on a Saturday afternoon. AND everything in between.

I am, however, truly committed to finding, connecting with, and endorsing businesses who’s owners care about their customers as much as I do. Without that, no amount of money will buy space on this website. If I wouldn’t patronize your restaurant, sorry, but I’ll have to pass. If your daycare or preschool is one that I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending my children to, why in the world would I EVER recommend your services to my customers? As far as I’m concerned, it’s a “no-brainer.” Simply put, I’ve set out to create something unique. A one-of-a-kind, truly functional online resource for moms who either have, will, or are walking in my shoes. Beyond that, I want to create a virtual meeting place for moms who are new to the area because I know what it’s like to be the “New Kid On The Block.”

Yes, there are several other ways to learn about upcoming events, new places, and businesses within the Fredericksburg area, however, Moms of Fredericksburg.com, will remain committed to providing the type of referrals moms really want and need. What you WON’T see is a business being given exposure on my website just because they pay. It’ll be because they DESERVE to be exposed to my customers! And really, what good is an online resource, anyway, if it’s nothing more than bait for attracting more advertising dollars? Moms, I strongly encourage you to look at everything, including us, with a discriminating eye because “fancy marketing tactics” is NOT what we’re about! You won’t find ANYONE in Fredericksburg as legit as this mom. I’ll tell you, honestly, if your business stands a chance with my customers. And if it doesn’t, I’ll refer you to seek out advertising elsewhere. I’m sure you’ll find those willing to take your money.

Please help me continue to build this genuine “give and take” resource for Moms On The Move In Fredericksburg!

Reading and Understanding Food Labels Advice from Fredericksburg’s Nutrition Counselor

Reading and Understanding Food Labels

By: Donna P. Hetrick, Founder of Lifestyle Fitness and Nutrition

If you’ve sat through my 2+hour lecture on how to read labels (how crazy is that by the way??? Two hours of what to look out for in our food supply…need I say more??) – you’ve come to the same conclusion I have and that is you are better off to purchase food that doesn’t come with labels…period. BUT most of us live a lifestyle where that simply isn’t doable or realistic. So the only way to maintain and sustain your health when eating packaged foods is to make the best and “cleanest” selections possible. You can’t do this without reading labels and being aware of the sneaky ways the food industry uses to make you “think” you are eating healthier than you are.

A classic example of this was when Dean Foods acquired the White Wave/Silk brand and quietly stopped using organic soy milk products BUT DID NOT TELL THEIR CUSTOMERS! They kept the same barcodes and the same packaging and thus customers continued to purchase their product under the assumption that it was organic for months after the change was made.

young mom reading food label

Recently I read about a company called Senomyx which is high tech research company that is “dedicated to finding new flavors to reduce sugars & salt.” On the surface it sounds like a good deal doesn’t it? Don’t we all want to reduce the amount of sugar and salt in the food we eat?

These new flavor enhancers that are ALREADY ON THE MARKET are unlike the artificial flavors we have become accustomed to look out for such as MSG. They are unique because they are not actually flavors at all –- instead what they do is activate or block taste receptors in your mouth. By doing this they mimic or enhance the taste of sugar, salt or MSG without actually adding any of those substances or flavor agents to your food. Since these flavor-altering compounds are used in such minute amounts, they are not required by the Food and Drug Administration for approval. In addition, they do not have to be listed separately on ingredient labels and can simply be lumped into the broad category of “artificial flavors” which is found on most packaged food labels. So, the bottom line is – you won’t even know these flavor enhancers are in the food you are eating!

The following companies have partnered with Senomyx:

*PepsiCo

*Nestle

*Kraft Foods

*Firmerich (A Swills perfume & flavoring company)

*Ajinomoto Group (makers of meat glue and aspartame)

The top three companies pretty much include every packaged snack food on the market don’t they? As I tell clients all the time – you want junk food? Make it yourself! You will NEVER include the amount of sugar, salt, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, genetically modified ingredients, hydrogenated oils, nitrates, etc. that are typically found in already packaged snacks.

For additional reading, I’ve attached an article from Natural News that lists 21 of the most toxic and disease-promoting ingredients you should avoid.

http://www.naturalnews.com/z033162_food_ingredients_chemicals.html

Until next time…

Keep reading those labels!

Acne Treatment for Teens in Fredericksburg

My goodness, can anyone remember back to those awful times, during junior and senior high school, when they only treatment available for our dreadful teenage acne was CLEARASIL or OXY 10? Back in the Eighties, it was either one of these EXTREMELY harsh products OR, a trip to the local dermatologist for a dose of some “prescription” topical antibiotic solution which, in the end, only seemed to make the acne ten times worse. I, myself, was very fortunate not to have suffered from severe acne but, as a mom, I fully expect to one day soon be googling, reading, and calling for help in treating my children’s acne.

teenager popping pimple in mirror

Local moms – If any of your children suffer from mild to severe acne, your search for an effective treatment is over! Crystal Clear Complexion is hosting a Teen Night on Thursday, October 27, 2011, starting at 3:00 pm. This event includes Dermasound treatment for Acne which will be offered at a Teen Night price of $50 (reg. $65). Acne LHE (laser) treatment will also be offered for $50 (reg. $75). Last, but not least, a 10% discount will be offered on all medical grade acne clearing products!

Wednesday’s ”Words of Wisdom” for New Moms

There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, worse than being unsure about motherhood when you deliver your first child. Especially, if you are alone in a new town with no friends or family for support. Many local women who currently live in greater Fredericksburg area are among the thousands of first time mothers to embark on this special journey without the benefit of friends or family close by.

I’d like to start devoting every Wednesday to helping support our new Fredericksburg mothers by offering words of wisdom from other local moms who remember those feelings of being overwhelmed, insecure, and just plain scared. Inspirational words can, and do, help. I can still remember those seasoned moms who took the time to talk, offer advice, and tell me it WILL get better. Whether you’re suffering from baby blues, sleep deprivation, anxiety, or all of the above, trust me…we’ve ALL been there.

young woman standing in sunrise

Here are two of my favorite affirmations for mothers.

Find comfort in knowing you are doing the best you can.

Do something nice for yourself every single day

Fredericksburg Virginia Real Estate Market Update

Real Estate is Local
Written By:
Amy Cherry Taylor
Realtor, Managing Broker
Avery Hess Realtors

365 things to do in the burg

http://www.facebook.com/fredericksburg365

 

There is an old saying that goes, “all real estate is local!” And boy is this true. If you listen to the news all you are going to hear is how bad the market is and the doom and gloom that is so dominant in the headlines right now. I have to tell you, while we are not in the market we were in 2004 – 2005, we are in a better market than most areas of the country. Most of what you are hearing on the news is not necessarily what we are experiencing in our local market here in Fredericksburg Virginia.

Our proximity to Washington D.C. makes us very different than most other locales. We are close enough that many, many people relocate to our area with the intention of commuting to Northern Virginia or Richmond. With the amount of government workers, military and private companies, both big and small, we always have a large portion of the workforce who are being transferred to and from our area. This movement provides constant market activity and demand that many other areas of our country do not experience.

With that being said, we experienced the majority of our foreclosures two and three years ago. We do still have foreclosures trickling through the system but it most certainly is not at the pace that we witnessed in 2007-2009. There is also a huge difference in the condition of the foreclosures that come on the market. Historically, the majority of the houses were in terrible condition with missing appliances and needed a lot of work to get them back to a sound and livable condition. In our current market, most foreclosures come back on the market with new paint and carpet, new appliances and the yards have been maintained at a higher level than in the past. These properties are selling at a rapid pace when they are in the first time homebuyer price range and are in good locations.

While we are still seeing some foreclosures, we are also seeing a lot of short sales. Short sales are when the homeowner must sell their home for less than what they owe on their loan(s). Their bank(s) must agree to the sale and this process can take 3-6 months on average. Short sales are a great way to go right now if you are in danger of losing your home. While the process can be lengthy, most banks are willing to agree for you to sell your home rather than have you foreclose on it. Many banks are also excusing the Homeowner’s deficiency judgement and are agreeing not to pursue the Homeowner for the difference. If this is not agreed to in the approval letter from the bank, the bank does have up to five years in the state of Virginia to pursue you for the difference that you owe and the amount that you sold your residence at. There are many experienced Realtors who are trained in how to negotiate short sales and assist consumers from start to finish.

Now that you are more up to date on the types of homes you usually see on the market (and yes, there still are some regular sales out there too!) it is important for you to know that our inventory is very low. Stafford County is down 15.94% from this time last year in new listings. Spotsylvania County is down 17.30%! Since new pending contracts and new contingent contracts are up in both counties, it doesn’t leave as many available homes for sale in either location. The surrounding counties are experiencing the same type of situations. If the homes is priced well, in good condition and in a good location they will most likely sell quickly. Regular sales will go under contract quicker than short sales in most cases and foreclosures can typically close as quickly as regular sales so they too go under contract very quickly if all the same conditions are true.

Several years ago there was a large price disparity between Stafford County and Spotsylvania County. Houses were priced higher in Stafford and sold quicker due to the proximity to the VRE, 95, Washington D.C. and commuter lots. When the market changed that disparity narrowed. Now, we are seeing an even different situation emerge. From September of 2010 to September of 2011 in Stafford, sold dollar volume is down, average sold price is down, units sold are down and average days on the market are up slightly. None of this sounds very good until you see that from year over year, new contingent contracts are up in Stafford 104.88%! If things continue this way, you will start to see a big shift in all those numbers I just mentioned, but first we need more houses to come on the market so there is more inventory to choose from!

On the flip side, in Spotsylvania County, sold dollar volume is up ever so slightly, average sold price is creeping up, average days on market have fallen 15.63%, average list price for solds has slightly increased and new contingent contracts are up 68.09%. Since new listings are down in Spotsylvania too, this county, like all of it’s surrounding neighbors, needs more listings!

Spotsy Report|Stafford Report

Interest rates are still hovering at a historic low and it is such a good time to buy a house! There are many Buyers out there who just haven’t found exactly what they are looking for and are waiting for that dream home to come on the market! Buyers have to move quickly when that perfect place does come on though, otherwise they can find themselves in multiple offer situations or just lose out all together by not moving quick enough.

So as you can see, real estate is local! You can’t base a decision on your current situation off of what you hear on the news. Our market is very busy right now which is good for everyone involved! There is always a lot of hearsay as to what is going to happen in the future, but as I tell everyone, our crystal ball is in the shop! Make sure you get the most up to date local information and consult a professional to help you dissect all the information that is out there. That way you can really understand where you and your home stand in this current marketplace!

Moms of Fredericksburg Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake Sale Success

I literally have a bowl full of money on my dining room table and feel truly blessed to have hosted, with the support of many Moms of Fredericksburg, our first Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake Sale this weekend.

I’d like to thank all of the busy moms who contributed to our bake sale. I’d also like to thank the Weecycled Wardrobe ladies and St. Mary’s Catholic Church for offering their venues for us to host our bake sale. With beautiful weather here in Fredericksburg, I set out to sell as many of our delicious,home-made cookies as possible!

Here’s a shot of me with Elle Hickman, founder of
Think Pink Fredericksburg,” during the Weecycled Wardrobe sale on Saturday afternoon. Together, we campaigned for shoppers to be “good cookies,” by donating to pediatric cancer research in exchange for a cookie! Elle and I were especially moved to have one local family thank us for bringing attention to such a great cause because they had lost their son to cancer at age 7.

moms of fredericksburg cookies for kids' cancer bake sale
Since we still had cookies left over after the Weecycled sale ended, I made a phone call to Father Rooney at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fredericksburg. He gave me permission to hold a second bake sale following the Sunday morning mass. Here’s a shot of my youngest son enjoying a cookie while mommy spreads the word and sells more cookies!
cookies for kids' cancer bake sale
I am happy to report that we Moms of Fredericksburg raised over $325! Every penny will be sent directly to the Cookies for Kids Cancer Foundation to assist in raising awareness as well as help fund pediatric cancer research. What little remained of the cookies were then donated to the Fredericksburg City Fire Department.

Any other Fredericksburg residents who would like to host their own Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale, please email Moms of Fredericksburg and we’ll gladly lend you our signs.

To all of the Fredericksburg families directly affected by pediatric cancer, find peace in knowing you are not alone, and you’ll never be forgotten. We moms happily worked to raise awareness this weekend in Fredericksburg.

Back to School with Food Allergies

For families who live with food allergies, going back to school can be a stressful time. Especially for those with children who are about to experience the school environment for the first time, there’s generally some anxiety about how to prevent accidental exposure, and the accompanying reactions. My goal, as a physician and allergist, is to help create an environment whereby my patients can live their lives in a healthy and prosperous manner. For children, that means helping them be kids WITHOUT being defined as “the kid with food allergies.” Just growing up is hard enough without feeling different from everyone else. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about different aspects of this issue, and what you can do to protect yourself and/or your children.

back to school boy with mom

This week, I specifically want to focus on the science available that can help dictate our course of action.
• Reactions do occur at school, and they CAN be severe, depending upon the particular condition. However, their overall occurrence is still rare, and there is no exact data to determine the rate of occurrence in school. There is a growing trend of families who choose to home-school their “food allergic” children, BUT no current data suggests this course of action reduces the risk of a reaction.
• The highest risk for any food-induced reaction stems from direct ingestion of the food. Severe reactions from contact or inhalation exposure to the allergen seem to be extremely low.  According to a study from Johns Hopkins, researchers failed to detect measurable quantities of peanut in air filters around the necks of volunteers who danced on peanut shells scattered on the floor of a poorly ventilated room. In this same study, they found that peanut allergen was easily cleaned from hands and tabletops with common cleaning agents and did not appear to be widely distributed in preschools and schools. Contact with the allergen may lead to localized hives that will not result in a full body reaction. Wiping down the skin area of allergen contact often resolves the reaction. In summary, the greatest risk for a “food-allergic” child at school, or other child care environment, is from DIRECT ingestion of the allergen and NOT from other routes of exposure.

In the next blog post for this series, I’ll focus on tips to help families manage their child’s food allergy in school from a practical standpoint.

As always, you can also follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/APFredericksburg for daily pollen counts, or visit our website at www.allergypartners.com/fredericksburg for more information.

Dr. Jonathan Mozena MD
Allergy Partners of Fredericksburg

Topics
• Science
• Tips
• 504 plans and IHPs
• FAAMA
• Teen tips

Prince William Forest Park Heritage Festival – October 15, 2011

On Saturday, October 15, 2011 from 11 am to 4 pm, the Prince William Forest Park Heritage Festival will celebrate the park’s history as colonial-era farmland, a Civilian Conservation Corps work camp, and a World War II era spy training camp. Musicians, artists, cultural demonstrators, antique car owners, exhibitors, and park staff will gather together in historic Cabin Camp 3 for a day of historic and inexpensive family fun! Children will enjoy plenty of hands-on activities, crafts and games in the Kids Kabin and throughout the event. The park entrance fee of $5 per car provides access to the festival as well as a whole day in a national park that is right in Fredericksburg’s backyard!

Food, music, candle and soap making, contra and square dancing, civil war children’s crafts, antique cars and more!

kids and park ranger at Prince William Heritage Festival

Apple Picking Farm Near Fredericksburg, Virginia

apple farm

Now that we’ve gotten into the swing of things with school, let’s all enjoy the change of season and welcome the mosquito-free, cooler weather by picking some apples! If you’re wondering where we Fredericksburg residents go to pick our applies during the Fall, please read on to find out as Moms of Fredericksburg has discovered another great day trip for local families. This time, it’s to Charlottesville, where you can celebrate National Apple Month every weekend in October at the Carter Mountain Orchard!

This afternoon, I contacted the Virginia Department of Agriculture’s apple expert to learn more about apple picking day trips from Fredericksburg. After discussing the possibilities, it was obvious to us that the Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, Virginia, was the BEST option for families in our area!

Although this trip will take you approximately 90 minutes to and from Fredericksburg City, it appears to be a fantastic way to spend the day with your family and friends!

Directions to Carter Mountain Orchard from the Fredericksburg VA area:
Route 3 West to Route 29 South
Follow Route 29 South to Charlottesville
Take the US-29-BYP S/US-250-BYP W ramp toward I-64
I-64 East to Charlottesville, to Exit 121A
Go 1/2 mile on Route 20 South
Turn left onto VA-53
Go 3/4 mile, turn right at the Carter Mountain Orchard sign

Great eyebrow waxing in Fredericksburg, Virginia

eyebrow

There’s absolutely NO need to look beyond Fredericksburg for a wonderful eyebrow waxing! Crystal Wellman, owner of Crystal Clear Complexions, in downtown Fredericksburg is the QUEEN of shaping, waxing, and perfecting the most unruly eyebrows.

Ladies, I truly cannot remember the last time I was able to relax in a quiet environment, on a heated bed, as I received some of the best beauty pampering Fredericksburg has to offer! Crystal’s studio is conveniently located in downtown’s Petite Retreat, where owner, Sheila Harris-Bowman, has focused on providing a pampered, tranquil atmosphere for each of her customers.

To learn more about Crystal’s new shop, please read my recent blog.

Back to Basics Cooking Tips for Moms in Fredericksburg – Part 2 of 2

cinnamon rolls

Let’s face it, not every mom has the time to bake cinnamon rolls from scratch! With regard to my recent blog article about store bought crust versus homemade, I wanted our site’s readers to know that I am very cognitive of this simple fact. This can be even more poignant if you’re a single mom or an “out-of-the-house” working mom. Heck, let’s just say ANY MOM!

We all know baking from scratch can be extremely time consuming BUT at least we know what our children are ingesting. However, if we can’t go this route, what can we as mothers do? Choose the less healthy option pushed by a very well known, chubby little guy with a white hat? You know who I’m talking about…the “boy” who ironically turns 46 this month! (Speaking of which, I love to get my hands on the packaging of a 46 year old Pillsbury product to compare ingredients from the 1960′s.)

Fret no longer, I’m writing to share the greatest that Immaculate Baking Company has packaged in a pressure sealed cardboard tube! Cinnamon rolls that are TRULY all natural and include NO artificial ingredients, PLUS they taste just as good as homemade!

I think most parents would agree that spending the extra $2.00 (some of which may be generously donated by Immaculate Baking Company to the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Foundation) is a win-win for everyone! Our children get to eat a wholesome, tasty dessert and we moms don’t have to worry about baking from scratch. Last but definitely not least, we’re helping support “Cookies with a Cause.”

Expert Organizing Tips for Families

Organization Direct founder, Linda Clevenger, shares some tips for managing our households as we prepare for the new year!

Timing is Everything

stop watch
It’s that time of year again. You get motivated, generated and rejuvenated with the change seasons. And it’s the beginning of the countdown to the holidays. You sit back and think…where did 9 months go?
Are you feeling the pressure, yet again, to get yourself organized because….the holidays are coming and you want this year to be different. You want to set new traditions, raise the bar on your family-time, make a change. You are ready, willing and able to get yourself organized. So, let’s lay out the plan:
1. Schedule out the rest of the year. Grab the biggest calendar that you can find. Sit down with your family and mark everything out on the calendar: School events, sports, church, outside activities, birthdays, anniversaries and anything else that you can think of.
2. Next, do you plan to travel during the holidays or have a vacation planned? Block out that time and include the time that it will take to prepare/pack for the vacation or time away. Don’t forget to include the time that it will also take you to unpack everything when you get home! That can cause some major disorganization.
3. Schedule in your family time. We enjoy time making cookies and homemade applesauce, canning vegetables and a holiday breakfast before we do our shopping – we usually do it all in one day!
4. Document what needs to be done before each holiday…cleaning, organizing, etc. Then, schedule in time to get this done. Don’t wait until the day before grandma and grandpa are scheduled to arrive to prepare their room. Allow yourself to enjoy their time in your home – schedule that room to be organized a week ahead of time.
5. Schedule your holiday shopping and plan it out. Do as much of it online as possible…great time-saver (and you will probably find a lot of free shipping available). The great thing about shopping online is that you can shop late at night or early in the morning and save the “day” for other things that need to be done.

Take the time this year to make a change. If you need help, ask! Family, friends, neighbors…make organizing your own party! It doesn’t have to be work unless you choose it to be. The results are staggering.

For more information contact Linda @ www.organizationdirect.com/contactus

Back to Basics Cooking Tips for Moms in Fredericksburg

If you’re a “stay-at-home mom,” or a “work-out-of-the-house mom,” your kitchen has most likely felt the seasonal shift. With the start of school, we Fredericksburg moms are back to cooking more family time dinners and after school snacks. On most Sunday afternoons, many of us moms are preparing our meal list for the week, and IF our families are REALLY lucky, we’re baking a homemade dessert to go with Sunday night dinner. Sometimes, I just love the idea of baking a special dessert for those nearest to my heart rather than resorting to something I purchased.
Last Sunday, however, I was slightly overwhelmed in the grocery store with three little boys running wild. So, to save time, I grabbed an already made pie-crust to make the pumpkin pie I’d been promising since last week.

ready to box pie crust box

It’s now the middle of the afternoon and I’ve got the boys lined-up with an activity while the baby naps. I’m ready to follow the directions on my can of pumpkin pie mix and happen glance over at the box of ready-to-bake pie crust. Scanning the rather large list of ingredients, one, in particular, catches my eye: “HYDROGENATED LARD with BHT added.” I instantly think to myself, ” What in the world is BHT????!!!!!” I didn’t even run to the computer because, on most occasions, an item doesn’t make the cart unless my late grandmother could recognize its ingredients. I must have been in a fog at the grocery store or thought to myself, as I do on some occasions, “a little bit of bad food occasionally isn’t THAT bad. See Tips for Moms on Grocery Shopping with Kids.

I’m not an expert on food additives or medical concerns as they relate to the consumption of ingredients created by scientists. However, I’m proud to be a mom who isn’t willing to sacrifice the simplicity of pie crust for a short-cut that may make my kids sick. I was determined to find a healthier alternative to this “toxic” crust and quickly found an easy recipe.

I began mixing together the dough to roll out the crust and immediately discovered why the “short- cut crust” was invented. In fact, it probably sells off the shelves during the holiday season! Making pie crust from scratch is not that easy AND, its time consuming!

About 15 minutes later, I was satisfied with the look and consistency of the crust. I proudly whipped up the pie filling, thinking “the heck with ready pie-crusts…I’m baking my babies some wholesome pie.” I pop it into the oven and start cleaning up the mess. As I’m walking the empty evaporated milk can out to the recycling bin, I again glance at the ingredients. “Carrageenan!!” Are you kidding me? Yet another chemical is in my pie?!

I looked up what this chemical is and, as it turns out, Carrageenan actually comes from a natural plant. HOWEVER, it’s form is altered and further studies need to be conducted before they call it a potential cancer causing ingredient.

In the end, my family will still enjoy the pie I made with lots of love. Is ignorance bliss or is bliss a thing of the past?

Here’s she is, half wholesome, half franken-pie!

pumpkin pie

Weecycled Wardrobe Sale in Stafford to host Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake Sale

Exciting news – we have added another bake-sale venue for the Moms of Fredericksburg Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake Sale! The Weecycled Wardrobe ladies have invited us to their upcoming children’s consignment sale (October 7th weekend) at the North Stafford location (5 Tech Parkway, in Stafford, Virginia). Please read below for the NEW details on the Moms of Fredericksburg Cookies for Kids’ Bake Sale!

cookies for kids' cancer logo

What does this mean for our bake sale scheduled for tomorrow, (September 27, 2011) from 11:30 pm to 1:30 pm at the Riverfront Park in downtown Fredericksburg? Moms of Fredericksburg will go ahead with our schedule, weather permitting, to meet at the park as originally planned. If tomorrow’s event is cancelled for wet weather conditions, we’ll go to “plan B” and have the bake sale at Fredericksburg’s biggest children’s consignment sale the weekend of October 7th. Even if we have the event tomorrow, Moms of Fredericksburg will still have a Cookies For Kids’ Cancer bake sale at the October 7th Weecycled Sale.

We are still looking for additions to our loving team of local mom bakers who’ll be supplying some delicious cookies for our bake sales. All proceeds will be donated to the “Cookies for Kids’ Cancer” Foundation. If you’re interested in joining other Moms of Fredericksburg with this endeavor, – please email dina@momsoffredericksburg.com.

Mom’s Market – A Place for Fredericksburg Moms to Shop, Sell and Post

If I had a penny for every time I thought of a great idea that would help make my job as stay-at-home mom easier, I would be at a resort right now watching my children play in the sand while I sip decaf chi and read a novel! Well, the fact of the matter is, I’m not heading to the Caribbean any time soon.

piggy bank with mom saving money

Moms, the reality is, I’m living life in Fredericksburg just like thousands of other devoted stay-at-home moms doing our best to manage the household while my husband earns a paycheck and health insurance. Sometimes though, if you’re like me, you think back to those days when we earned a paycheck as well. Come on, I’m sure you vaguely remember those days when we could shop for trendy clothes, and use extra money for personal splurges likes shoes, hair, make-up, etc. Now as a parent though, we typically spend any extra money on our children, particularly, when it comes to splurges. I’m sure you recognize this scenario: You pay full price for some toy, video game, or pair of sneakers your child just HAD to have. Then 24-48 hours later, they are bored with it and want something else. Sound familiar? Those short-lived impulse buys add up…AND pile up unless we donate or sell them at the next community yard sale. Maybe you even try to find an online buyer looking to cut the retail mark-up for gently used items.

Or, maybe you’ve tried to post your almost brand new stroller, play-gym, crib, football, nursery bedding, etc., on Craigslist but feel your items get lost in the great abyss of what’s available? Well, moms, look no further. I’ve opened a new online “Mom’s Market” that’s entirely free, PLUS it’s users will have to get my stamp of approval before it gets published on the virtual shelf in OUR market.

keyboard with for sale letters

Would you like to make some extra cash (AND free up some residential space) by selling items you or your kids no longer use? The extra cash you put in the Mommy Fund Can could then be used for whatever. Maybe even to justify a new pair jeans or that beautiful new purse you’ve been keeping your eye. Think about it, moms. Getting rid of the clutter might actually give you back a little of the old days when you could splurge on yourself!

Advanced Skin Care Treatment Contest for Moms of Fredericksburg

Once upon a time, there was a lady who lived in Fredericksburg with a complexion that glowed as if she had hours of professional primping. Unfortunately, by the time this lady gave birth to her third child, the porcelain glow was replaced with tired, puffy eyes, large pores, and blotchy skin. A little red here, a little dark spot there…you catch my drift?

lady doing facial

Lately, eyebrow waxing is just about the only thing I have any time for as far as self pampering goes. And, realistically, I’m lucky to get to the salon once every two weeks. I can handle not going to the MAC or Bobbi Brown counter anymore. I can handle not getting my hair cut every six weeks BUT, an eyebrow waxing is one beauty “necessity” I am simply unwilling to live without. Unfortunately, we moms here in Fredericksburg don’t have many of what I would call “expert” waxers available. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paid ten bucks to be “botched up” in less than 5 minutes!

So, you can imagine my excitement when I received an email from a local mom, and owner of a new skin-care boutique, right in downtown Fredericksburg – Crystal Clear Complexions! After getting to know Crystal Wellman, a mother of 5, and learning about her background in advanced skincare, I absolutely HAD to share more information with other Moms of Fredericksburg about her newly opened local retreat. It’s one of those great places where we moms can truly indulge in some serious self-pampering while we continue our mission to get BACK TO MOM.
petite retreat salon lobby area
Crystal is a licensed Master Esthetician who has worked as both an educator and specialist in helping her clients correct skincare problems like Acne and aging skin. You can learn more about the services Crystal offers by visiting her website Crystal Clear Complexions.

Nothing excites me more than meeting local mothers who are willing to embrace their entreprenurial spirit so they find balance between work and family priorities. Congratulations to Crystal for launching Crystal Clear Complexions, AND for choosing Moms of Fredericksburg as a media platform for spreading the word on our Resource for Moms on the Move in Fredericksburg!

As part of Crystal Clear Complexions’ grand opening, we are SUPER excited to announce yet another great Moms of Fredericksburg contest whereby one lucky fan will win a Crystal Clear Complexions Signature Treatment (Dermasound) valued at $85.00!! This signature treatment uses ULTRASONIC and MICROCURRENT TECHNOLOGY, and will be customized to the MOF winners’ specific needs, whether it be Acne, Aging, Dry, or Sensitive skin. The Dermasound exfoliates up to 50% of the Stratum Corneum (dead skin), kills acne bacteria, reduces inflammation with Acne and Rosacea skin. This service also includes a neck and decolette anti aging treatment. The entire visit will last approximately 50 minutes.

Here’s how to enter for your chance to win! Visit Crystal Clear Complexions on Facebook, become a fan by “liking” the page, and then tell all of your friends and families to do the same! Have them tell Crystal on her wall that YOU sent them! The person with the most Facebook referrals wins!! Simple, right? You have 5 days to win – good luck!!

Wegmans in Fredericksburg Hosts Paula Deen Book Signing Ticket

Many of us are fans of the food network channel. I’d be the first to admit that most nights, it’s the only channel I care to watch. I’ve grown to admire several of the channels celebrity chefs and especially enjoy learning about how they started off as cooks before they were famous. One story that always inspires me is Paula Deen’s road to fame. From what I have read and watched, Paula was a single mom that used her talent for cooking delicious comfort foods as a way to provide for her two sons when they were little boys. If you are interested in learning more about Paula’s success and trials and tribulations as a single mom that suffered from panic disorder – read more here. Well, the rest is all history because now Paula Deen is a celebrity in her own rights and is coming up to Fredericksburg, Virginia, to launch her new book – Southern Cooking Bible.

paula deen picture in wegmans

As of this morning, free tickets to this book signing are sold out, BUT, I snatched 1 ticket on my last shopping trip at Wegmans and would be willing to give it away to the first fan that asks!
Event Details:

When – Thursday, October 13, 2011
Time – 4pm to 6 pm
Where – Wegmans, Fredericksburg, 2281 Carl D. Silver, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Visit Wegmans.com for more details.

wegmans ticket for paula deen book signing

Just send me an email at dina@momsoffredericksburg.com and I’ll place it in the mail ASAP!

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake Sale Postponed

Please read below for the NEW details on the Moms of Fredericksburg Cookies for Kids’ Bake Sale – it’s postponed until next week!

cookies for kids' cancer logo
On Tuesday, September 27, 2011 from 11:30 pm to 1:30 pm, Moms of Fredericksburg will be hosting its first “Cookies for Kids’ Cancer” Bake Sale at the Riverfront Park in downtown Fredericksburg. As a lunch sponsor for the Riverfront Park Concert Series, we think this will be a great forum to showcase our unity as mothers in support of other parents who stand up against cancer! We’re currently on a mission to recruit a loving team of local mom bakers who’ll help supply some delicious cookies for our bake sale. All proceeds will be donated to the “Cookies for Kids’ Cancer” Foundation. If you’re interested in joining other Moms of Fredericksburg with this endeavor, – please email dina@momsoffredericksburg.com.

Local Fredericksburg Families Remembered During Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month

Since announcing our “Cookies for Kids Cancer” bake sale earlier this month, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of volunteers and families who are willing to support this very worthy cause. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of the volunteers, bakers, and families who’ll work together to support friends and loved ones affected by this horrible disease. I’d especially like to mention three local Fredericksburg families who will be in our thoughts and prayers as we all come together behind one common goal – to fight this disease that attempts to destroy families and, most importantly, the innocence of childhood. No family should have to fight this battle alone. With community support and awareness, along with campaigns like Cookies for Kids Cancer, we can all make a difference.
circle of friends

In Memory of Owen Lea – Written by his mom, Karin.

Thank you so much for spreading the awareness. Not many people know (or want to know….) that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I get that, it is hard to talk about it, and think about kids getting sick and dying. But it is the reality. One that some of us live with each and every day.
Margaret Beltran is one of those moms in this area. I am another one. Fortunately her Dominic is doing fantastic and is such a wonderful child.
Unfortunately, my Owen didn’t make it past 1st grade. He passed away 2 years ago at the age of 7 (almost 8).
Dominic and Owen were in treatment together in NY for a while as well. It is such a small world when you realize that there is another family “from down the road”.
Anyway, thank you so much again for organizing this fundraiser. I hope you get a fantastic response and make tons of money for this important cause.

www.owenleafoundation.org

In Honor of Dominic Beltran – Written on his Caring Bridge Journal by his mom,
Margaret

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We’ve created it to keep friends and family updated about our loved one. Get started by reading the introduction to our website, My Story.

Visit often to read the latest journal entries, visit the photo gallery, and write us a note in our guestbook.

Background Story
Dominic was born July 12, 2006. On 12/7/07 a mass was discovered in Dominic’s abdomen, it was Stage IV Neuroblastoma. We decided to seek treatment in NY at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

After 3 weeks of a persistent fever and numerous trips to the Pediatrician and ER, finally the Dr. noticed something in Dominic’s abdomen. We went to Fairfax hospital for an ultrasound where a soft-ball sized mass was discovered ontop of his right kidney. A week later he had surgery for tumor biopsy, bone marrow biopsy and central line placement. The biopsy confirmed what the doctors suspected…NEUROBLASTOMA. The cancer is also in his bone marrrow which classifies it as Stage IV.

Febuary 2010 Dominic relapsed

March 2011 Dominic relapsed a 2nd time

Leeland Station Benefit Fair

Saturday, October 15 · 10:00am – 2:00pm
Location
Belle Aire Clubhouse, Leeland Station
115 Riggs Road
Fredericksburg, VA
Created By
Sue Ann Hetrick Oltman, Stephanie Dressin Johnson
More Info
Join us for some early Christmas shopping and to be part of a ripple effect! Proceeds will benefit a 5 year old girl, Lauren, in Leeland Station who was diagnosed with cancer in January, 2011. Raffle items donated by vendors and local businesses, including: Tastefully Simple, Compelling Creations, 31, Nomades, Lia Sophia, Advocare, Gigi Hill, Longaberger, BabySnap Photography, Buttercream Bakehouse and more!

And if you have a home business and would like to participate, please e-mail Sue Ann at sueann.oltman@yahoo.com. There are table spaces available. Not interested in a table space?? A donation to our raffle would also be greatly appreciated!

Moving to Fredericksburg – A Mom’s Perspective

In less than 2 weeks, the summer will be “officially” over, and most of us have already begun weeding out our veggie gardens, as we make way for the blooming mums. For many moms of Fredericksburg, it’s not just the start of a new school year, it’s also the beginning of a new chapter as a resident of our community. What that means for most Fredericksburg “newbies” is that you’re probably unsure of where to go, what to do, and wonder whether or not you’ll meet new friends as you discover what life means as a new Fredericksburg Mom.

Trust me when I tell you, there are a great number of moms unpacking boxes, lining up new doctors, dentists, hair stylists, baby-sitters, carpenters, etc., as they attempt to integrate their family with daily life in a new location.

family with moving boxes

This morning as I socialized with other mothers at a local playground, I realized just how much our identity changes as we grow into a new hometown. “Evolution mom” – that’s it. As Moms of Fredericksburg, our personalities, our role in life, our daily schedules, constantly evolve as we settle into our new home. It doesn’t take long to make new friends and find the so called “spots for moms” where we congregate while our children enjoy the simple pleasures of life. If you think back a number of years before the kids arrived, you might be surprised at just how much you’ve evolved as a person. Some of this is likely due to a move, or several moves, to new places. This experience has taught us as moms to no longer wait around for the phone to ring, or an invitation to arrive. Instead, we venture out, unfettered, to explore our new surroundings and find other moms to connect with. We do this because it’s part of who we’ve become. Instinctively searching for that meaningful bond mothers share as we walk that familiar path through life. We are relocating moms on a mission to learn, explore, and meet new friends.

welcome door

Organizing Class for Fredericksburg Kids with Clutter

messy room

How in the world did toys end up in absolutely every room of the house? Does it seem as if everywhere you turn you are running into or stepping over something that belongs to a wonderful, young child who is not yet old enough to go to school?
Ok, now that they are in school, the papers have exploded, the anxiety has begun and you are just stressed out trying to figure out an Action Plan to keep your sanity. Is there a way to work through it all and keep peace and calm in the home? Absolutely…
How do I know this? Because, I’ve been there, done that and worn that tee-shirt until it had holes in it! It all revolves around communication, expectation and follow-through with children, especially beginning at a young age. But, if your children are already in middle or high school, there is still hope. Don’t give up. Stop worrying! Being organized can be fun…when you are all clear about the mission. When your expectations are crystal clear you will see results.
And, I’m passionate about helping moms! I’m fortunate to be able to put all of my skills and lessons learned from 20 years ago into practice again another generation…a grandchild is 3 and lives with us. I have to say, that I wasn’t overly enthusiastic with the idea of raising an infant, toddler, school age…and especially a teenager again…but this time, it rocks! What does it take? Time, patience, understanding and having a system that will work for you and your family. Schedules and outside activities can seem to monopolize your time and cycle your schedule out of control. What do you do?
Think about attending our seminar in conjunction with Fredericksburg Parks & Recreation. In 90 minutes you will walk away with definite techniques and tools that you can begin implementing immediately to help: avoid clutter and chaos, get and stay organized with your children and avoid daily stress and overwhelm. Both day and evening classes are available in October. Class registration numbers are 9200.202 and 9200.203 and you can register online @ www.fredericksburgva.gov.
Commit yourself to a lifestyle that you can enjoy; without daily and out of control clutter and chaos. Free consultations are also available if you aren’t able to attend either class. You can check us out at www.organizationdirect.com.

Linda Clevenger Organization Direct 540-220-5912 Fax 540-972-3227 linda@organizationdirect.com

Fredericksburg Fitness Workout for Busy Moms

There’s no magic formula for helping us moms fit an exercise regime into our daily “to do” lists. The fact of the matter is, the older our children get, the more prized our “mommy time” becomes. Play dates, sports activities, birthday parties, sight-seeing excursions, etc., seem to increase with age, making a mommy’s personal well-being a back burner issue for the majority of us. It doesn’t have to be that way.

With the help of personal trainer and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness, Jennifer Scherer, Moms of Fredericksburg has devised a quick and intense workout suitable for the busy moms. And really, who among us isn’t a busy mom? If you are anything like me, the biggest challenge is simply staying focused and determined when it comes to personal fitness goals.

Just last week, ABC news announced a recent study conducted by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index which rather shockingly revealed that today’s middle-aged women are the first generation of females not expected to significantly outlive their male counterparts. Middle aged women have significant demands placed upon them beyond taking care of their growing children and managing work related demands. Many realize they’ll end up as the primary caregivers for their aging parents and, therefore, must plan accordingly now. A middle-aged woman’s stress has been found to be greater than that of a firefighter or stockbroker! These results underscore the absolute necessity we mothers have in taking care of ourselves, not just by following a healthy diet, but also finding time to fit in quality exercise. And this last part is where the following exercise routine comes into play. This program is meant to be done at home, throughout the day. You do not need any fancy exercise equipment. In fact, you don’t need ANY exercise equipment at all.
CHECK OUT THIS YOU TUBE OF JEN AND DINA SHOWING YOU SOME EXERCISES YOU CAN DO AT HOME.

Push-ups (1st on flat, then feet on stairs)
Crunches
4 count leg levers
Air Squats
Lunges
Step-ups onto sturdy chair
Tricep dips between 2 kitchen chairs
Calf raises on step
Sit-ups with feet anchored under couch
Planks front and side alternating(20-30 secs-work to 2 min)
Use gallon of milk for bent over rows if no weights
Thrusters with weight (whatever is available)
Pull-ups- need pullup bar

Pick 3 diff exercises (1 for your upper body, 1 for your core/midsection, 1 for your legs). Do 4-5 sets of these 3 exercises spread throughout the day (meaning from the time you get up until you hit the pillow). Try to do the chosen 3 at same time with little or no rest. If not time, make sure you get a total of 15 sets done thru whole day. Not tough when each should take a minute or less. Start with low reps and add 5-10 percent per week. Alternate with 3 other exercises the following day. For 3rd day and beyond, either return to day 1 routine or pick 3 new area specific exercises. Aim to do the same 3 exercises twice a week. As an example:
Week one:
Sun: pushup, situp, squat
Mon: dips, leg lever, lunges
Tuesday: same as Sun or thrusters (works legs and upper body at same time) and crunches.
Take one day off a week, if necessary. Set a # goal for each exercise and work toward by adding reps each week.

If time to run:

mom runners

Join our local moms' running group - www.seemommyrun.com!


Do intervals, tempo run, hill work only unless time permits a long, slow, distance (LSD) run each week. Can do 1 LSD every 2 wks. Post your results, ask a question, or just let us know how you are doing with it. Good luck!

Some Fredericksburg Moms Celebrate Holidays Differently

American Flag and Hammock

For many of us who qualify as “government wives,” we often go about most holidays as if they were just another day. While our husbands head into the office, we continue to hold down the fort, completing chores, and find some way to entertain the kids who are off from school for the day. It can be even more tough when their friends are enjoying family activities with both parents. For a number of Fredericksburg families, however, at least one parent continues with the “business as usual” reality because their job doesn’t close for national holidays. This fact of life is not lost on my children. If someone comes up with a good explanation to provide my 5 and 6 year olds as to why Daddy isn’t off today, please let me know. My reasons, though just, don’t quite satisfy their frustration. Just this morning, my son asked why his father doesn’t have off for Labor Day? My response was that there are certain jobs that require someone to ALWAYS be on duty, like nurses, doctors, police officers, fire fighters, etc.”

For those Fredericksburg families dealing with long military deployment separations, holidays are especially difficult to successfully pull off as a mother, particularly when your kids realize their family celebrates slightly different than some others in the area. As mothers in these situations, hopefully, we can all find a little comfort knowing there are others families in Fredericksburg who are faced with the same difficult questions from their children as they mature.

So today, as a reminder to those families not celebrating the holiday in the traditional sense, let’s renew our connection as “Moms of Fredericksburg,” and know that many of us are in the same boat.

Moms, please continue to use our website as THE resource for fun family-friendly activities in the Fredericksburg area, particularly during those difficult times when your husband is away at work.

Moms of Fredericksburg’s Main Mom Interview by “5 Minutes for Mom”

Moms of Fredericksburg Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Fund Raiser

With the new school year fast approaching, there are a good number of upcoming events for our Fredericksburg families to be excited about. We are fortunate to live in an area with great public school systems, wonderful teachers, a great sense of community pride, with plenty of fun, local events geared toward supporting worthy causes.

September marks National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. If you check out the “Cure Search For Children’s Cancer” website, you’ll find some very disturbing information. For instance, did you know that approximately 12,500 kids will be diagnosed with some form of cancer and, of those, more than 2000 won’t survive.

As the children of baby-boomers, we are, for whatever reason, known as “Generation X.” I’m unsure what our children will be called in the future but I wouldn’t be surprised if they get labeled as “Super Kids,” since too many of these little boys and girls must bravely face the sobering diagnosis of cancer. Years ago, it wasn’t very common to hear of a family member or friend who suffered from this horrendous illness. Today, however, it seems way too often we get the dreaded news that someone near and dear to our hearts has been added to this seemingly endless list.

Last year, I learned of an organization called “Cookies for Kids’ Cancer” from a local mom with a 5 year old son who continues to fight for his life each and every day against cancer. “Cookies for Kids’ Cancer” was founded in 2008 by Gretchen and Larry Witt, who’s son, Liam, passed away from this frightening disease. The Witts soon learned the reason why over a quarter of the adolescent patients do not survive cancer…lack of effective treatment. This lack of effective treatment essentially boiled down to a lack of adequate funding. The Witts wanted to get involved, and so, formed “Cookies for Kids Cancer.” Their active support provided a mechanism for others to assist in a simple, but very meaningful way, with the development of new and better cancer treatments.

cookies for kids cancer logo

On Tuesday, September 20, 2011, Moms of Fredericksburg will be hosting its first “Cookies for Kids’ Cancer” Bake Sale at the Riverfront Park in downtown Fredericksburg. As a lunch sponsor for the Riverfront Park Concert Series, we think this will be a great forum to showcase our unity as mothers in support of other parents who stand up against cancer! We’re currently on a mission to recruit a loving team of local mom bakers who’ll help supply some delicious cookies for our bake sale. All proceeds will be donated to the “Cookies for Kids’ Cancer” Foundation. If you’re interested in joining other Moms of Fredericksburg with this endeavor, – please email dina@momsoffredericksburg.com.

sunflower cookie

Sunflower Cookie By www.Buttercream-Bakehouse.com

Moms of Fredericksburg Petition for Smoke-Free Public Playgrounds

Most Fredericksburg families with young children spend a considerable amount of time enjoying outdoor activities at our local public playgrounds. Our family generally rotates between the different parks to provide some variety. Just recently, while enjoying the few last days of summer vacation, I took my kids to the Old Mill Park in downtown Fredericksburg. This wasn’t our first time there, and I’m very sorry to say, it wasn’t the first time we’ve had to endure someone smoking a cigarette nearby. As a matter of fact, each time we visit the Old Mill Park, we’re eventually forced to leave because someone is smoking a cigarette in close proximity to the kids. It really is such a shame too since this particular park is an excellent place for outdoor activities. The photo below depicts EXACTLY what, and who, deters me from wanting to visit Old Mill Park.
man smoking on park bench
Come on, folks! Is it REALLY necessary to puff on a cigarette less than 6 feet from several children enjoying a beautiful day by climbing and sliding on the play gym? (Note* Just a pinch of sarcasm implied) Not to mention, kids who don’t know any better, will pick up the filthy remnants of this unappreciated activity. To be more specific, our request is for each and every playground in Fredericksburg City and Spotsylvania County to have a buffer zone within which no smokers shall be. This “no smoking zone” should create an appropriate safety net around those areas most frequented by children, ie, playgrounds, slides, swings, etc.

According to the National Cancer Institute, secondhand smoke (a/k/a involuntary smoke, and passive smoke) contains harmful cancer-causing chemicals. The Virginia Tobacco Use Control Project also reports that children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke because of smaller airways, higher breathing rates, and less mature immune systems.

Is there a mother out there who would disagree that higher breathing rates are more pronounced with physical activity at the playground? I should think not.

In light of these facts, and the thousands of other studies documenting profound health risks associated with secondhand smoke exposure, why haven’t Fredericksburg officials taken swift and decisive action to completely ban smoking from our public playgrounds?

If you are interested in taking a stand against this real threat to our children’s health, please join our new Facebook campaign by signing our Petition for Smoke-Free Playgrounds. With your help, we Fredericksburg moms can ensure our children have healthier air to breathe while enjoying the simple joys of childhood.

Spread the word, share with your friends, and join our campaign!

Weecycled Wardrobe Moms of Fredericksburg Open to Public Despite Weather

For many moms living in the greater Fredericksburg area, the Weecycled Wardrobe consignment sale is one event you DEFINITELY do NOT want to miss! This morning, despite a large number of local business closings due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene, local mom entrepreneurs/founders of this great event, Penny Wack and Vicki Burrow, opened the front doors of the Fredericksburg Expo Center to welcome a rather large line of anxious moms and dads waiting to get first dibs on gently used clothes, toys, baby equipment, outdoor children’s sets, and much more. Going into their 10th year of business, Penny, Vicki, and dozens of devoted volunteers refused to let down their customers and consignors by canceling the community’s most successful children’s consignment event. Its back to school time for us moms, and with the continued decline in our economy, the attraction of “buy used/save the difference” is more appealing than ever to many Fredericksburg families.

As you can see from the picture below, the Expo Center parking lot was filled with cars just 1 hour after the grand opening.
fredericksburg convention center parking lot

My children bolted straight for the costumes, snatching up two ninja outfits they had been begging my husband and I for, now that Halloween is nearly upon us.

consignment sale

Halloween costumes at great prices!

consignment sale

Neatly hung, labeled, and organized clothes for babies, toddlers, boys,and girls.

In addition to the gently used items for sale, local business owners set up vendor tables to display their products. We were excited to meet a local mom who owns Artipop. Her cake pops are absolute works of art that taste simply divine!
Artipop table at Weecyled Wardrobe

SALE DATES SATURDAY, AUGUST 27, 2011 to TUESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2011
Hours: 10 am to 7 pm daily

Moms of Fredericksburg Earthquake Clean-up

There is nothing worse than hearing your children ask if “they are going to die.” That’s the response I received from my 6 year old son after rushing him and his younger brother to our basement during the ground trembling, house shaking, 5.9 magnitude earthquake that happened less than 2 hours ago in Fredericksburg. The level of this earthquake was extremely significant for this area. Virginia is known as being “pretty stable,” however, Manassas and Culpeper both experienced tremors back in 1997. To my surprise, an earthquake of today’s magnitude occurred over 100 years ago, on May 31, 1897. Visit Virginia Places.org for more details.

earthquake damage to dining room

Moms of Fredericksburg Earthquake Damage

Just moments before the rumbling started, I was on the phone with the County transportation department figuring out our school bus assignments. The walls started shaking as I threw my phone down and ran up to crab my toddler from his crib. I shouted for my other two sons to head down to the basement, immediately experiencing the same fear I felt on the morning of September 11. Not having ever witnessed an earthquake before, I immediately thought DC was under attack. I was unprepared as a mother for our next steps, and it wasn’t until I turned on the news that I felt a sigh of relief that it was ONLY an earthquake! The afternoon will be consumed by damage clean-up, but we are blessed to be safe and sound. What an unforgettable last day of summer vacation!

Moms, this was thankfully, just a little rumble in our afternoon that served as a reminder that Fredericksburg is not sheltered from the action. MOTHER nature rocked the Burg!

Some important tips from the Department of Homeland Security FEMA on what to do before, during, and following an earthquake.

Moms of Fredericksburg Let Us – Stop the Silence of Domestic Violence

For readers of this blog who know me personally, I’m sure you’d all agree that I am NEVER at a loss for words and/or questions. Well, since taking on the additional role of “mommy blogger,” I’ve found there is no shortage of topics to write about either. Most days, it’s typically something I come across in the course of my day that motivates me to then share the experience with my readers. It really is as simple as that. My writing topics run the gamut, from something noteworthy happening in the Fredericksburg area that may, or may not, in some way affect family life to something more specific that may have an influence upon us as mothers. Either way, I’ve discovered a newfound passion for documenting my journey as a mother and feel truly honored to reach thousands of readers on a weekly basis. My readers are just as varied as my writing topics. There might be a mom from California who is searching for the most up-to-date information about Fredericksburg because her husband just received Orders. Or perhaps it’s a local mom trying to find an online connection with others in the area. The fact that this brand new online (ad)venture has made such a huge impact so quickly, motivates me to work even harder for Fredericksburg area moms.

Today, I decided to write about a local mother named Jenny Vaughn-Bates who, unfortunately, is no longer with us here on Earth. Jenny was brought to my attention from a Moms of Fredericksburg fan who also happened to be Jennys’ best friend. The fan asked if I would help spread the word about an upcoming walk in memory of a Jenny and, of course, I immediately agreed. This September, Jenny’s family and friends will begin the second year without this devoted mother, daughter, friend, and social worker. Last year, Jenny was murdered by her husband after filing for separation. You can read more about her tragic story at examiner.com.

Jenny’s friends and family have since joined together to raise awareness about domestic violence with the formation of No Woman, No Cry – Stop the Silence of Domestic Violence. Studies show that 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence, at some point, during their lifetime. This statistic truly saddens me BUT, at the same time, it motivates me to stand up for ALL victims of abuse – ESPECIALLY MOMS!

On Sunday, September 18, 2011, from 8:30am to 11:30am, hundreds of supporters will walk the 1st Annual 5k in memory of Jenny Vaughn-Bates. This walk will take place at the Forest Park High School located at 17721 Forest Park Drive, Woodbridge, VA 22193. Those who are interested can pre-register at www.nwnc.org.

If you are unable to make this event, please consider giving a donation which will benefit the Jenny Vaughn Bates Memorial Trust Fund and The National Network to End Domestic Violence. Donations can be made at online or by mail: NWNC, P.O> Box 1664 Herndon, VA 20172.

In memory of the victims of domestic violence, and in honor of Jenny Vaughn-Bates.

No Woman, No Cry, 1st Anuual 5k Walk flyer

Fredericksburg’s Gelato Shop – Local Hangout for Tweens and Teens

Well Moms, the summer’s almost over now. The fall season will soon be upon us, followed shortly thereafter by the cold, blustery winter months. But hey, the humid, sweltering summer heat is definitely still with us for at least a few more weeks. I say, or maybe my kids say, that we should take advantage of every opportunity to cool off with a refreshing dessert. There is a new business which just opened last weekend in the Fredericksburg area that DEFINITELY fits the bill! Mystic Ice Gelato, located where the old Carvel Ice Cream Parlor used to be in the Southpoint II shopping complex, offers a truly unique spin on an old favorite straight from Italy. Local mom, Heather Bailey, and her husband, Sean, fell in love with gelato when he was stationed over there.

Mystic Ice Gelato Tonda

Mystic Ice Gelato tonda

What is so unique about the Bailey family’s new venture is the atmosphere they intend to create within their shop. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, the gelateria switches gears by taking on more of a club-like atmosphere where teenagers can hang out, drinking coffee and dancing until the doors shut at midnight. Christian hip hop music can be heard throughout, with an array of special lighting and wide screen TVs to provide additional effect.
I can asure you there is no other place quite like this on the east coast. And although this environment can, at times, be more suited to young adults, patrons of ALL ages should come by and get a taste of Mystic’s authentic gelato. It comes in a variety of flavors, from tirimisu to cotton candy and peach. Gelato is not, however, the only thing Heather and Sean sell at Mystic. There are plenty of coffee style drinks, pastries, and other frozen yummies for parents and their children to enjoy.

So come on out and try Mystic Ice Gelato. I promise you it’ll be an unforgettable experience.

Fredericksburg Families – A Lesson in Paying it Forward

During this summer vacation, our house has definitely experienced an increase in the ‘gimmies” from our children. I must admit that I cannot really blame them because I certainly recall childhood summers filled with expectations of what my mother planned for my siblings and I. Just like my children, my brothers and I wanted to know what our daily itinerary was, specifically, in terms of activities, food, snacks,etc. As my kids get older, so do their expectations. Lately, it seems my husband and I are being bombarded with demands for, “More, more, more.” As parents, our job is about more than just satisfying their needs and desires. It’s also about instilling, within them, a sense of gratitude for what they already have. It can be a hard lesson to learn, especially with very young children who have a difficult time understanding the meaning of “appreciation.” However, we parents can show them why they already have so much by providing examples of children from around the world who have so little. Visual learning reinforces your verbal statements which will allow your child to retain the point you’re trying to get across to them.

book entitled Gimmies

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a local business owner who asked if I would send out a message to local moms about the great need for baby items at the Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter in Fredericksburg. I happily agreed to assist with this very important request. Moms, isn’t this a great excuse to clean out your basement of all the baby clothes, toys, and other related items collecting dust and taking up valuable space? By enlisting your child’s help in this endeavor, you teach them that what they may not find interesting or useful any longer, is of great importance to other area families. I’m pretty sure my rising kindergartener and first grader will appreciate what it means to lend others a helping hand and donate clothing to a family who can’t afford to buy new school clothes this season.

family storage room clean-up

Family Storage Room Clean-Up

Another cruel reality that is routinely featured in both local and national news venues is the epidemic of hunger around the world. My two older children have caught glimpses on television of dying children suffering from malnutrition in Africa. Multiple questions often ensue, as does a lengthy discussion of why this sad aspect of society is allowed to continue. Even though those commercials make the children’s faces seem like worlds away, I can assure you, it is not. Were you aware that research conducted last year by the “Hunger in America” study revealed Stafford and Spotyslvania Counties were among several areas with more than 40 in 100 households receiving food from local food shelters. The report added that these families experienced very low food security, or hunger. Even more surprisingly, these numbers have significantly increased compared to a similar study conducted just five years ago. Another startling statistic that brought goosebumps to my arms was that for just $25, a family a four can be fed a meal for two weeks.

For thousands of Fredericksburg families, the local food bank is a life saving service that provides hope when times continue to be hard and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel seems to be as distant as ever.

Throughout the upcoming months, our Family’s events planner, a/k/a Mom, will be seeking out fun ways to teach, by example, what it’s like, AND how little it takes, to be grateful for what we already have. I am on mission to teach my children the personal satisfaction of paying it forward to our neighbors in need.

Like a well known song by singer, Jack Johnson, it goes, “let’s reduce, re-use, recyle” or in our case, “reduce, clean-up, and donate!”

Moms of Fredericksburg Dirtiest Car Winner

Tiffany Lloyd is the winner of the “Moms of Fredericksburg Express Auto Spa Dirtiest Car Contest!” Thank you to all of the Moms who entered for a chance to have their family car completely cleaned up after an action packed summer. Believe me when I tell you that my car is probably the dirtiest car in Fredericksburg. Even so, I’m very excited to know that one deserving Moms of Fredericksburg fan will be cruising around town in an awesomely cleaned car! Take a break from the local car wash for a while Tiffany, Express Auto Spa will be rolling out the red carpet for your family vehicle!

Tiffany, Moms of Fredericksburg sincerely hopes you enjoy this gift as much as we would. Please email dina@momsoffredericksburg.com to redeem your prize.

Have a great Monday, my friends!

Winner of the Moms of Fredericksburg Kids’ Furniture Giveaway

Jessica Eierman Wenk is the winner of the Moms of Fredericksburg Kids’ Furniture Giveaway! Her rising first grader, Tristan, will be stoked starting school this year with his very own loft bed thanks to Epoch Design! Will Tristan’s Mom please email dina@momsoffredericksburg.com to redeem your new furniture.

Thank you to all of the Fredericksburg families that participated in this great Facebook giveaway. Sincerely, if I could, I would give each and every one of you a new bedroom set for your children. Shhhhh….my little boys didn’t even know about the giveaway!

Moms of Fredericksburg Marine Corps Museum Day Trip

Fredericksburg families who are looking for a great indoor activity to catch a break from the summer heat need to visit the Marine Corps Museum, located in Quantico, Virginia. I have no doubt that each and every member of your family will find this absolutely beautiful facility an interesting, exciting, and educational experience! Last weekend, when the humidity seemed to be reaching the unbearable point, I packed my family up and drove the 20 miles north to the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

By the way, if you’d like additional information regarding fun day trips in and around the greater Fredericksburg area, please visit our Activities page which continues to expand with wonderful places to visit locally!

Mom and three kids in front of museum

From the moment we pulled up and I caught a glimpse of that magnificent building, constructed to resemble the famous flag raisers at Iwo Jima, I knew we were in for QUITE an educational lesson.

kids at marine corps museum by helicopter

Your children will really love the cool things to see and do here!

little boy soldier

This is THE place for Fredericksburg families looking for a lesson in Marine Corps history (and overall US history, for that matter). This museum packs over 200 years worth of art work, pictures, film, video, and computer aided interactive stops to fascinate grandparents and babies alike. There are full-size planes, jets, and helicopters hanging high above, as well as tanks, trucks, and many other modes of transportation littered throughout the different sections of the museum (each depicting a different period of history). Visitors can get a great idea of exactly what it takes to become a Marine by venturing into the “Making Marines” section. Here your child , or husband, can test their shooting skills with the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Simulator, a mock-up range featuring a rifle that fires harmless laser beams rather than real bullets.

I would set aside at least a few hours to really get the full experience and, if you get hungry, there are two very tasty options to settle your little ones’ tummy hunger pains: The Mess Hall, or the Tun Tavern. Moms, this is truly a great family experience, whether or not you have a family member who served with the Marine Corps. And the best part – it’s free!!

kids at museum

children by 9/11 tribute

What we took away from this museum tour – Marines Rock!

marine corps museum

Moms of Fredericksburg Kids’ Furniture Giveaway

Moms of Fredericksburg is SO excited to announce our new, exclusive partnership with Epoch Design, a children’s furniture company specializing in solid hardwood furniture! Their children’s furniture is made with traditional craftsmanship and features non-toxic lead free finishes. Of course, their furniture also meets, and exceeds, all ASTM and CSPS bunk/loft safety standards. Like them on Facebook to stay up to date on new products, etc.

Children's Loft Furniture

Epoch Design has been a trusted supplier to our local Cosco store, right here in the Fredericksburg area, for several years now.

Today, we begin the first of many great furniture giveaways for one lucky Moms of Fredericksburg fan, all courtesy of Epoch Design.

The piece of furniture we intend to give away is brand new (still in boxes), and currently awaiting pick-up by the lucky mom at Costco in Fredericksburg. It is the “Gabriel Full Loft Bed with Media Cart.” Note – 6 drawer dresser not included. The retail price for this beautiful furniture at costco.com is $1199!!! Cost to a lucky Moms of Fredericksburg Facebook fan: zero, zilch, nothing, nada.

Here’s how to win – just reply to this article on Facebook by telling Moms of Fredericksburg why your kid would be completely stoked to a new loft bed just in time for school! You should also ask your Facebook friends to “Like” our page and vote for your family to win! Entries need to be received by Thursday, August, 11, 2011, no later than 3:00 pm EST. The winner will then be selected on Friday! Good luck, moms!! (Note* The winner is solely responsible for going to the Fredericksburg Costco store and picking up the furniture. Epoch Design and Moms of Fredericksburg are NOT responsible for pick-up and/or delivery of this merchandise). One last note – PICK-UP at Costo must be scheduled within 24 hours after winner is announced.

Moms of Fredericksburg Toy Story Contest Winner

Christina Gonzalez is the winner of the Moms of Fredericksburg Toy Story Contest! Christina will receive 2 hours of special “Toy Purge” time with Linda Clevenger, Professional Organizer and owner of Organization Direct. She’ll also receive a consultation and Action Plan to organize your children’s toys. With over 3 hours of professional consultation time, this prize has a value of over $200. Email dina@momsoffredericksburg.com to redeem your prize!

Moms of Fredericksburg Facebook Contest

Moms of Fredericksburg – I have another great contest just for you!! Since we’ve all just spent the last 8 weeks of summer vacation toting our children back and forth to activities while running the family wagon to the ground (sometimes, literally), I wanted to come up with a way to wash away all of the mess our kids leave behind each and EVERY day. You know, like the dirty fingerprints all over the windows, the crackers and pretzels which seem to embed themselves between every seat cushion, or how about the slimy chocolate ice cream that dried all over the seatbelts?

baby in carseat

I bet your day goes somewhat like mine usually do: The morning starts out with our precious coffee mugs slinging little splashes around in the front cup holder. We pack a bag, or bags, of snacks and drinks for our excited passengers – the kids. By the time we reach our first destination of the day, the children have gone through everything we’ve packed for them and are now placing orders for lunch. Wanting to save our hard earned money for other things, I’ll typically plan ahead by preparing lunch with the morning snack. This generally consists of PB&J sandwiches, juices boxes, and pretzels, which we consume during our afternoon road trip to the local pool.

dirty car seat

3 kids + family car = MESS

All of this driving back and forth has not only racked up the miles on our family vehicle, it’s also left behind loads and loads of crumbs, dirt, grime, and spills within what used to be the beautiful interior of our family transportation. Lately, even a quick run through the local car wash doesn’t seem to cut it. Often, this is because we simply don’t have the time to properly vacuum, scrub, and pick out the mountains of crumbs imbedded within every nook and cranny of our SUV.

I recently visited Fredericksburg’s Express Auto Spa to inquire about a full “inside and out” car detailing package (a/k/a the “WORKS” which includes the following services:

carpet shampoo
seat shampoo/leather conditioning
vacuum
prep before the wash
triple foam treatment
clear coat body protectant
rain-x water repellent
rims degreased
micro-fiber towel hand wipe down
complete interior wipe down with all purpose cleaner
cup holders and middle console Q-tip clean
dash n door protectant
door jams cleaned
trunk lining cleaned
gas flap degreased and wiped out
undercarriage pressure wash
3 coasts of wax (single face orbiter, dual faxed orbiter and high speed buffer
mirror glaze finish
paint sealant polymer

Now THAT is what my SUV REALLY needs! Actually, that is what we moms REALLY need! So, how about it? How would 1 Moms of Fredericksburg fan like to win this amazing Express Auto Spa’s Works detail package ($200 value) to restore some shine to your family vehicle?! Here’s how to enter for a chance to win – just share this link with your friends on Facebook. Tell them to “Like” Moms of Fredericksburg and comment as follows – “_____ has the dirtiest car in Fredericksburg!” The Facebook entries will be noted and placed in a raffle. Obviously, your odds of being selected increase the more friends you refer. Good luck, moms!

Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair Mom Review

For the past few years, I’ve noticed the large red sign on the side of the downtown Fredericksburg Visitor’s Center Building which announces the “new” Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair. Having now patronized the fair with my family over the last few summers, I continue to wonder just what’s NEW about it. I ask this question because I would truly like to know the answer. Each year I’ve gone, it appears to be the same. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, IF its good to begin with.

Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair

What I do think needs to change is the price of the overall experience! Each time my husband and I have taken our children to the fair, we walk away shaking our heads in disbelief over how much money we just spent. I’m seriously starting to wonder if the only thing “new” about the fair is it’s grossly inflated prices. If you haven’t been yet, try this scenario on for size. Admission to the fair is $7 per person over the age of 3. I’ll repeat that little tidbit for emphasis, “Over the age of 3!” So, prior to parking our car, we shelled out $28 for the four of our five family members to gain admittance onto the grounds. Then, expect to lighten your wallet further for tickets to ride. We purchased a pack of 20 tickets at a cost of $20 for the kids. Unfortunately, since each ride costs 3 tickets, you’re looking at less than seven total rides. With 3 kids, our children were each able to get on a ride twice, with one getting a third turn. Not a very good return on your investment! Now, you can opt to pay $18 for a ride bracelet, BUT if you have additional children, the cost grows exponentially. That would have put us out $54 for three kids and we hadn’t touched a game yet. More on that in a second.

fredericksburg agricultural fair

There were no shortage of games available to the eager patron, many I would say were fair favorites: darts, shooting, basketball, baseball, etc., etc. The vendors were skilled at enticing our children to their tables and try their luck. We didn’t want to deny our kids the thrill of winning a prize, even though we knew the probable outcome. The cost for these games was at least $3 per try which, again, meant our ability to indulge our children was limited by the funds in our wallet. Now I realize that most people play these games with the understanding that a win is pretty rare but the price per game makes it extremely expensive for us hard-working moms and dads. My husband and I spent another $30 on games, walking away with only 1 very expensive but cheaply made stuffed animal.

toddler on toy ride

So, essentially my family of 5 spent nearly $100 in less than 2 hours at the fair. Our kids rode 3 rides apiece and they walked away disappointed because they couldn’t ride more rides or play more games.

Now I understand this fair is cheaper than going to one of the nearby amusement parks BUT, this isn’t an amusement park. It’s a small country fair where families should be able to enjoy some quality time together and not have it cost an arm and a leg.

Come on Fredericksburg – give us a “new” Fair we can enjoy AND AFFORD.

Moms of Fredericksburg Cleaning Services Referral

One of the biggest compliments you can bestow upon a business is to recommend their services to a friend.  The original concept behind Moms of Fredericksburg.com was to create a “give and take” resource for moms like you and I.  In addition to friend and neighbor business referrals, we mothers would now have a dedicated “online” resource showcasing the best businesses in the greater Fredericksburg area.  For the last several years, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time and effort compiling this “Go To” business services list so area moms don’t have to take any chances with an unknown company.  I especially loved the idea of making this information available to those who recently moved to our beautiful city.  My goal is to eliminate as much guesswork as possible that so often seems to accompany family relocation. Soon after arriving here, my husband and I realized we would need to find friendly and reliable local companies to assist us with a variety of tasks. So, when it came time to hire a business for repairs, installations, home improvements, etc., etc., I made sure to file away their contact information for future use. Who knew I would later use that considerable data to create the website you are currently visiting?  I want Moms of Fredericksburg to be THE resource for mothers in our area. A resource we can all contribute to…and learn from. A place where we can come together and share our experiences as moms…for moms.   

Take today, for example. I decided to splurge on a birthday gift to myself by having my custom living room furniture professionally cleaned by a local business. My children have single handedly destroyed the upholstery with food, drinks, markers, crayons, etc. Or so I thought. As you can see in the attached pictures, it all looks like brand new again! Moms, I am sure you too can appreciate just how happy it makes me to have my sofa, chair, and ottoman looking like brand spanking new again, right?  Here’s a picture of what this furniture set looked like after three little boys got their hands on it.  

dirty furniture

After conducting a rather lengthy search for a suitable business to take care of my needs, I decided to hire a local carpet and furniture cleaning company, Action Carpet Cleaning, Inc.   Because this particular business didn’t come from a “mom referral,” I had to make sure Action passed my sniff test before scheduling an estimate.  First impressions are everything, and I am no different. As such, I am very pleased to announce that Action gets “two thumbs up” for fantastic customer service and results!  The woman I spoke with was friendly, informative, and prompt in answering my barrage of questions.  After meeting the owner, Thyler Patillo, a Fredericksburg native who completed the work, I became even more excited about writing this blog article. I just had to share the experience with others! Mr. Patillo was a kind, geniune businessman who spent over 2 hours personally treating, scrubbing, and steaming my furniture.  For what I consider to be a genuine bargain of $160, my furniture looks fabulous again, and I am absolutely thrilled!  Action Carpet Cleaning definitely gets the Moms of Fredericksburg stamp of approval!  

Happy Birthday to ME!  It’s the little things…right moms?

clean couch

My sofa good as new!

 The stains which covered my ottoman are completely gone – check it out!

ottomon

 

Skin and Beauty Wellness for Fredericksburg Moms

When I look back over the years I spent sunbathing, I cringe at the thought of how ignorant I was about the number 2 killer of women in the world – the dreaded “C” word.

Obviously, I’ve since learned how dangerous my careless sunbathing activities were. For the last 10 plus years now, I’ve searched for skin care products, as well as make-up, that would help protect my skin from the damaging effects of the sun’s rays. Prior to having children, I was a frequent flyer of various make-up counters, however, now that I’m a mom, my counter cruising days are few and far between.

A few months ago, I met local mom and Mary Kay sales director, Kathy Hoffman, at a Fredericksburg function. On that particular day, I happened to run out of tinted moisturizer and was, therefore, open to learning more about her product line. Needless to say, I was impressed with her off-the-cuff presentation. After meeting Kathy, I decided to do a little research of my own about the well known cosmetic line and was shocked to see Mary Kay has almost 500,000 Facebook fans! Prior to this, I incorrectly assumed this particular makeup line was targeted to women my mother’s age. Boy was I wrong! “Generation X” mothers who rely on convenient online shopping have obviously taken a second look at the large variety of high quality products from friendly Mary Kay consultants?!! It worked for me – I’m absolutely sold on my morning line-up new addition, Mary Kay’s tinted moisturizer with spf 20.

summer beauty products

Summer beauty line-up!

 

Fredericksburg moms, please share your favorite beauty finds with the rest of us! I mean, really, there’s still time for girl chat, right?!

By Kathleen Hoffman

People everywhere are realizing that the days of carefree sunbathing are over. That tan today means damage tomorrow. From wrinkling, sagging, & premature aging, to the increased possibility of developing skin cancer, having a tan is NOT as glamorous as it may appear. While worldwide skin cancer numbers continue to increase, there’s one fact that can’t be ignored – depending upon the level of exposure, the sun’s rays can, and will, damage your precious skin. Through education, people everywhere can learn about the importance of maintaining healthy skin through ongoing preventive care and regular skin self-examinations. Monthly self-exams of your skin & routine use of sun-protection products are good ways to lower your risk of skin cancer.
Here are some facts that you should be aware of concerning skin cancer, the most common form of cancer today. It’s estimated that skin cancer accounts for about one-third of all reported malignancies in the U.S. More than one-third of all Americans over 65 will get skin cancer at least once in their lifetime. Malignant melanoma-the deadliest form of skin cancer-is beginning to occur at an especially high rate in women under 40. More than 90% of all basal & squamous cell carcinomas are thought to be caused by overexposure to the sun. When detected early, the latter two types of skin cancer have a cure rate of greater than 95%.
THE TRUTH ABOUT TANNING BOOTHS
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation and other reputable scientific authorities, using a tanning booth may be more risky than tanning in the sun. Little is known about the long-term effects of this type of exposure, but it is known that the exposure you get from tanning booths can cause acute sunburn, eye damage, skin cancer, & premature aging.
You should routinely use a sunscreen or sun block product that has the correct sun protection factor (SPF) for your skin.

Kathleen Hoffman is a Registered Nurse and A Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics

Lessons for Local Moms in Mindful Grocery Shopping – Farm to Table 101

Moms of Fredericksburg asked Flavor magazine to write a guest blog periodically for the site – and we happily agreed. Flavor is a mother-owned independent food and wine magazine that covers and celebrates the sustainable farmers, ranchers, winemakers and food artisans plying their trade between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake, and the chefs and restaurants who support them.

www.flavormags.com

market sign

“Locavore” is a trendy term that just this week took a hard, and unfair, thump on the head by some idiots at the Washington Post. No offense to any Posties out there… but come on.

If you didn’t see the article, three enterprising young television journalists from Baltimore went to the farmers market across the street from the USDA (I guess they were trying for an added measure of irony) and tested a farmer’s pasture-raised chickens for salmonella. They found it. The Post blared a headline: “DC farmers market highlights an array of food safety issues.”

dc farmers' market

No, it didn’t. Before you run panicked from your farmers market, let me unpack it a bit for you.

Unfortunately, salmonella is endemic to our chicken supply.

Last year Consumer Reports tested 382 chickens from more than 100 stores in 22 different states. Two-thirds harbored salmonella and/or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of foodborne disease. Worse, 68 percent of the salmonella and 60 percent of the campylobacter organisms showed resistance to one or more antibiotics.

Chickens contract salmonella from the feces of other infected animals. Industrially produced chickens stand cheek to jowl in their own feces 24 hours a day, so salmonella is a fact of life on big industrial farms.

Pastured chickens—the kind mentioned in this article – live in open fields, pecking at grass and insects that can be contaminated with salmonella from other animals. (I like my chances there better).

The contamination of meat occurs during slaughter if the chicken is not handled extremely carefully. Indeed, industrially processed chickens – the cheap, bloated kind you see in supermarket packages – are often water chilled after slaughter, a practice almost guaranteed to spread bacteria, as contaminated and uncontaminated chickens share the same bath. To control but not eradicate bacteria, the government permits large chicken processors to dip their chickens in disinfectant. Yum!

Salmonella is serious business, but it’s common in all American chickens. That’s why the government shifts the burden to citizens to protect themselves. Cook your chicken properly and don’t allow it to cross contaminate other foods in the fridge. For safe handling, read this from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/january/food/chicken-safety/what-you-can-do/chicken-safety-what-you-can-do.htm

But The Post’s real journalistic crime was to set up a teetering straw man and then knock it down: People patronize farmers markets because the food is safer + We found salmonella = OMG!

You should buy your meat from small farmers because the animals lived healthier, happier lives. Because they were not cooped up in their own feces, and allowed to wander in fields, eating what nature intended, because their marching grounds were clean, they didn’t have to be pumped full of prophylactic antibiotics (the kind that contribute to antibiotic resistant germs) to keep from getting sick and falling over dead. If you haven’t seen the movie “Food, Inc.” please do. It will cure you of buying industrially produced chickens forever.

Because pastured chickens eat a wide variety of things, their meat is more nutritious, healthier for you, and tastier, too (this also applies to lamb, veal, cows, and goats). Because they are not eating medicated feeds like industrial chickens do, there is no danger you and your family will be exposed to arsenic (Google arsenic and chicken. You’ll see.)

And that’s just the start. Small sustainable farms are better for humans too. The people who work there are not complicit in the mistreatment of animals. Neither do they breathe in harsh chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The workers don’t have to wear face masks to interact with the animal because they are out in the fresh air. They are not part of a massive labor force that is underpaid and abused (again… see Food, Inc.).

Small farms that produce meat are also better for the environment. The animals live in a symbiotic relationship with nature. Their poop fertilizes the fields naturally. It’s broken down by air and sun and rain and absorbed and filtered into the soil. In large feedlots, the poop is piled up; there is too much for the Earth to process and consequently when it rains dangerous amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous — in addition to other nasty bits – contaminate the water. There those elements wreak havoc with marine life, causing algae blooms and dead zones. (There is a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico totally unrelated to the oil spill that is 6,000-7,000 square miles, created by fertilizer, runoff and soil erosion. The Chesapeake Bay is similarly affected – see the Washington Post story today on the Chesapeake dead zone.)

Shopping at local farmers markets is also good for the local economy.

healthy chicken

Produce and meat at grocery stores travel on average 1,500 miles to get to you. When you buy that food, your money is spent on gas for the truck, the truck itself, for the time the driver spent, and ultimately your money lines the pocket of an industrial food producer far away. Even if a small farmers sells to a traditional distributor, he takes home only about 10 percent of what you paid for that peach.

Contrast that with a farmers market: the food was picked that day or the day before, was most likely grown with minimum or no chemicals (ask your farmer), travels an average of just 60 miles, and more than 90 percent of the money goes right into the farmers pocket. It stays in your community.

You should shop at farmers markets for a host of reasons – to eat seasonally, to encourage environmentally sane practices, to support the humanity with which both animals and humans are treated, to support green open spaces, and because fresh, local food just plain tastes better. And you should feel safe eating this food because small, local farmers WANT you to visit their farms and see how well they practice their craft. Just try that at an industrial food production facility (If you need further convincing consider this: In at least five states, legislatures are considering bills to PROHIBIT whistleblowing on big farms; three of them would make clandestinely filming the abuse of animals illegal.)

So go to your farmers market. Talk to the farmer about how the food was raised. Take your kids out to visit the farm. And dig in.

Fredericksburg Grand Opening Event For Families

This week, check out the “grand opening” of Fredericksburg’s newest Tires Plus located at 4632 on Mine Road in Fredericksburg!  Tires Plus is planning 4 days worth of fun-filled, family oriented activities suitable for the entire family.  You won’t want to miss out, and neither will your children.    

tires plus store

Tires Plus Grand Opening - 4632 Mine Road, Fredericksburg

There will be cookouts on both Friday and Saturday, including popcorn and sno-cones for your little ones.  A “BIGFOOT” truck will also be on hand to satisfy the “off-roaders” in your family.  Moms, if your husband has any interest in cars and racing (mine is fixated on both), please bring him by on Thursday when one of professional racing’s greatest living legends, Mario Andretti, stops by to sign autographs.  Between Mario and the monster truck, I don’t who is going to be more excited about the grand opening – my husband or my children.  Not that it really matters because my entire family will have a great time supporting a new local business.  

Fredericksburg moms, please come out and join us as we welcome Tires Plus to our area.  Here is a timeline of events for the grand opening: 

Thursday, July 28

3:00 to 6:00 pm – Mario Andretti Autograph Session

Friday, July 29

10:00 am to 3:00 pm – Cookout 

12:00 pm to 6:00 pm  - Bigfoot Truck 

Saturday, July 30 

10:00 am to 3:00 pm – Cookout 

12:00 pm to 6:00 pm  - Bigfoot Truck  

Sunday, August 1

9:00 am to 5:00pm – Grand Opening 

 

Fredericksburg Coffee Shop Hosts Fun Family Events

For those Fredericksburg locals unfamiliar with Blackstone Coffee, it’s located in the new Eagle Village Shopping Center, which is just between Mary Washington University and it’s affiliated hospital.  Here are just a few great reasons to stop by and hang out with the entire family at  Fredericksburg’s newest favorite coffee shop.  

blackstone coffee

Several weeks ago, Blackstone Coffee began “Tuesday Morning Story Hour” to give community children some organized entertainment while we Moms (and Dads) kick back on one of the extra large and comfy arm chairs with a cup of delicious “in house” roasted coffee and/or one of the homemade desserts personally prepared by Chef Elan.  For some time now, I’ve been stopping by with my children when we’re out and about in Fredericksburg.  This past Friday, I brought the kids in for a smoothie sampling – what a treat that was for them!  I’m now beginning to think my boys enjoy this locally owned business as much as I do.  

little kids sitting on arm chairs

Kudos to Blackstone Coffee for brewing up an excellent selection of coffee products and assorted pastry products but, most importantly, for being such a child-friendly business so we parents can start the morning off right!  They aren’t just a morning spot either.   Tonight , they’re hosting local guitarist and song writer, Justin Richters, from 7 to 9pm. Check out Blackstone’s Facebook page for events.   Read More…

Fredericksburg Children’s Art Expo

Moms, wouldn’t you agree with me that even the most rough and tumble kids out there still take immense pride in creating their very own works of art? Whether it’s just crayons and a coloring book, or a more involved project utilizing paint, brushes, and canvas; we as moms understand what it means when our kid’s faces shine with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as they happliy display their latest “masterpieces.”

chid's painting

Cole (6) painted a picture for Father's Day this year.

Jennifer Heiller, a local mom and Special Events Coordinator for Fredericksburg City Parks and Recreation Facility, shares her run-down of events for this weekend with Moms of Fredericksburg:

Do you have a budding Picasso or Van Gogh at home? If so, THIS is the weekend for them! The Children’s Art Expo will be held this Saturday, July 23rd, at the Dorothy Hart Community Center. The Art Expo was designed to foster kid’s imagination, creativity, and love for the arts. This year’s expo features a multitude of fun art stations for children to explore, plus there is a new science addition.

children's art canvas

DIY room art created by Lance (5)

Since art has long been proven to help children develop and learn other subjects, we’ve added an art/science booth this year, along with a roaming MAD scientist! Our mad scientist will be combining some Dry Ice with Super Duper Bubble Solution to get one of the most intriguing objects in the universe – a “smoking” bubble! Children can also play “catch a bubble”, do the bubble bounce, taste “air” soda, and perform our “genius” test as we educate young attendees about the amazing properties of Carbon Dioxide. We guarantee all participants, both young and old, will be completely captivated.

Other art stations include:

Queen or King for a day – decorate your own crown using markers, glitter, rhinestones, sequins, and more to feel like royalty for the day!

CO2lor Creations
-With a little vinegar and baking soda, you’ll observe a chemical reaction that explodes with color! When everything is done, you’ll reveal a hidden masterpiece that could be the fizz of the art biz.
Back Pack Buddies -Create your own back pack buddy using yarn and googly eyes.
Mosaic Magic – Create your own mosaic by gluing items onto a mat board. Make shapes, patterns, or your own original design.
Junque Jewelry- Using macaroni, sequins, buttons, and yarn – you’ll become a jewelry designer and be able to wear your creation home!
Art to Eat – Make a candy necklace or bracelet out of licorice, gummi savers, and more.
Funny Faces -Create your own silly faces or bugs using paper plates, pom poms, and more.
Wind Discs – Create your own wind disc using CDs, colored tape, and labels.
Sticky Shapes – Design your own shape using feathers, glitter, sequins, and colored paper.
Archi-Texture – Help paint the town red…or blue, green, even yellow!! Our cardboard town will come to life as children showcase their painting skills.
Radical Rocks - Make a bug, or a rainbow, or whatever your creative mind can think of. They’ll make great paper weights or door stoppers.
Goody Bags – Decorate your own goody bag using markers, sticker, glitter glue, and more! Take your other masterpieces home in the goody bag or use it as your lunch bag.

We will have Chick-Fil-A available to purchase for lunch. This event will be a great, inexpensive way to foster your kid’s creativity and imagination! Children can do all 14 activities for $5.00, and see the roaming scientist.
Where: Dorothy Hart Community Center @ 408 Canal St. Fredericksburg, VA 22401
When:Saturday, July 23, 2011 from 10:00AM- 2:00PM
FREE Admission- some art activities are free. Others cost between 25 cents and 1 dollar. Or, do all the activities in the entire place for $5.00

Fredericksburg Families Welcome Reptiles Alive!

One of the most wonderful things about living in the Greater Fredericksburg area is having access to activities sponsored by three different, but equally engaging, Parks and Recreation Departments very nearby! Take this morning, for example. A large number of local moms and their children packed into the Stafford Rowser Complex for a great one hour presentation given by Reptiles Alive’s Rockin Reptile Rachel. For less than $15, my three small children (ages 2 to 6) and I were able to catch some quality indoor entertainment, which included an informative lesson regarding the importance of our environment and how it affects many wetlands species.
kids petting large snake

By far though, the highlight of the presentation was getting to see, and feel, some live animals – a bull frog, sea turtle, soft shell turtle, alligator and a gigantic snake!

kids looking at turtles

Fredericksburg Water Park Day Trip for Families

As a Fredericksburg based mother of three VERY active little children, I am always on the lookout for some new and exciting local day trips for us to spend quality family time together. While the summer continues to heat up, I naturally gravitate more and more toward water-based activities.

This past Sunday, we packed up our two older boys and took them to the Massad Family Branch YMCA’s Water Park, conveniently located on the North side of Fredericksburg. We thought we’d test the waters, literally and figuratively, with them first to see if it’s appropriate for our toddler. Moms, I am very happy to report that this place was an absolute hit with our children! The physical grounds were very neat and clean, to include restrooms, and it was completely fenced in. No matter where you looked, there was always a lifeguard standing by to ensure everyone’s safety.

Steve & Cheri Thurston Water Park - Massad Family YMCA

Steve & Cheri Thurston Water Park - Massad Family YMCA, Fredericksburg

With such a wide variety of water slides available, families won’t become bored easily. Two of the slides are almost three stories high, while others are small enough to accommodate a toddler. In addition to the water slides, the facility features other amenities sure to please both child and parent alike, such as an olympic-sized pool, plus a few water obstacles and a large sprayer.

water park slides

Unfortunately, patrons cannot bring food and beverages, BUT you can either purchase these items on-site (cash only) or pack a cooler and keep it in your car for snack time. There are also plenty of beach chairs for moms and dads who want to catch some rays while the kids play.

Day passes are available for $10 to Y members and $15 to non-members. Children under 2 are free. Having had such a pleasant first experience, you can bet I’ll be returning here with my 2 year-old in the near future.

frog water slide

Follow me as I continue to find Fredericksburg family friendly activities which will then be added to the site’s activities directory. Please remember to post a comment if you’ve discovered a Fredericksburg summer HOT SPOT for families!

Fredericksburg Day Trips FOR Kids ONLY

As we near the half way mark of summer vacation, I’m beginning to hear those two FAMOUS words, “I’m bored!” more and more often.
Moms, let’s face it…, by mid July, the less structured days of summer we long so much for around the new year are beginning to drag somewhat as we search for new and exciting activities to occupy our kids. As a stay-at-home Mom, our job description has always included duties as the family event planner, however, summer times seems to elevate this added responsibility a few levels, right?

One of my biggest challenges this summer vacation is staying within our “extra curricular” budget. As our boys get older (a whopping 5 & 6!), the activities and camps get more and more expensive. As we can all attest, our children have a limitless supply of energy and, by this time of the month, I’ve just about exhausted the funds for day trips. So, one morning this past week, I called a neighborhood friend to see what her itinerary looked like for the day. I was shocked to learn she intended to take her children to a local beach for the day, a simple 45 minute drive east of Fredericksburg.

Deciding to be spontaneous for the day, I packed up the kids and pointed our SUV east for some sun and, hopefully, some surf. Now, please understand, I absolutely LOVE THE BEACH! As such, my expectations for a day trip to the beach are MUCH greater than those of my three little boys. I cannot, however, just pack up and drive 3-4 hours to a more traditional Atlantic Ocean beach town similar to what I grew up with. So, taking this short trip to Colonial Beach brought so many smiles, giggles, and excitement to my three little guys, it was well worth my concession as a beach lover. So I made the decision to place my beach expectations on the back burner so that my children could do something fun with their friends for the dayI saw this opportunity for fun through my children’s eyes and it was well worth it!

"Look at me Mom - Making my own fun!"

For those unfamiliar with Colonial Beach, it’s a small town located off a bend in the Potomac River.

colonial beach, va

baby playing at beach

Here’s a list of the great things about a trip to Colonial Beach from Fredericksburg:

1. It doesn’t use a whole lot of gas.
2. You don’t have to pay to park, play and/or swim.
3. You can pack your own lunch.
4. There aren’t any huge white seagulls swooping down to attack your cooler.
5. There’s a fantastic homemade candy shop on the way home in King George called Mary’s Cakery & Candy Kitchen!

Mary's Cakery and Candy Kitchen

On the downside,

1. There aren’t any lifeguards on duty so you’ll have to be extremely diligent about watching your little ones splash and play in this brackish body of water.
2. Because the town fell on some hard times after being a hot tourism spot over 50 years ago, it’s been trying to “revitalize” it’s image.

3. NOT too much published information on the internet regarding water quality. I did, however, find an outdated article from 2007 on the VA Department of Environmental Quality regarding Algai Bloom in the Potomac. I can report that the water at Colonial Beach was a “reddish brown” color. This is an topic I will conduct additional research on before swimming in the water at Colonial Beach again.

Fredericksburg’s Outdoor Summer Concert Event

We came, We saw….HE sang, AND he didn’t sign any autographs! Yep, Darius Rucker (a/k/a “Hootie”) graced Fredericksburg with his live performance at Celebrate Virginia Live’s outdoor concert pavilion near Central Park. It’s my understanding that this is Celebrate Virginia’s 2nd year hosting concerts here in the Fredericksburg area, where last Friday a few thousand folks gathered in an as yet undeveloped piece of commercial property to hear live country music.

Darius Rucker performing live in Fredericksburg

To my surprise, I found a blog article written two years ago to the month describing the venue as the same underdeveloped piece of land.

When I heard Darius Rucker was going to headline one of the summer’s concert series, I immediately dished out $40 for a Gold Circle seat, hoping to get the most out of his performance and my “date night.” According to some locals, the concerts at this venue typically start at 6:00 pm and end before 10:00 pm.

Held last Friday night, my husband and I purposely arrived late because we had no interest in seeing the opening act, Mickie James. As it turned out, our decision was for nothing since James bailed anyway, no doubt due to the threat of severe thunder storms moving through the Fredericksburg area that evening. NOTE TO FUTURE CONCERT ATTENDEES – concerts are not cancelled due to weather and refunds are not given. Once you purchase tickets, plan on going to the show, rain or shine. In the event a band decides to back out, or is simply unable to make the show, no refunds or promises of a make-up date will be given. Check Celebrate Virginia Live’s website for additional information.

Darius Rucker performing live

Darius Rucker really rocked the Burg! We thoroughly enjoyed the entire performance from beginning to end, however, the concert venue itself was just pathetic. A few hours prior to the start of the concert, Fredericksburg got BLASTED with major rain storms. Because the venue was physically located out in a semi-grass, semi-dirt field, patrons walked, danced and stood in varying amounts of red clay, muddy goo, and dirty water.
ANOTHER NOTE TO FUTURE CONCERT ATTENDEES – be prepared, depending upon the weather, to stand in what I just described, i.e., boots, galoshes, old sneakers…you get the point. Nice shoes, sandals are a definite no-no. You’ll also need to park on the street to prevent a trip to the car wash immediately after the concert. That is, unless you want to test out your vehicle’s “4 Wheelin Skills!” The pavilion grounds need to be completely covered with thick, full grass and/or small stones to alleviate this not-insignificant issue. I am not a landscaper so my words should be taken more as a suggestion or at least a good starting point. Having only seen photos and video, I had to wonder if this was what Woodstock concert goers experienced back in the day.

I greatly appreciate the effort being made to provide Fredericksburg residents and it’s visitors with popular live music, however, there needs to be some aggressive “fine tuning” done before I revisit this particular venue again. Lots of level grass, stone, or some other type of suitable surface would be a fantastic start to providing Fredericksburg with a true summer (all weather) outdoor concert venue, to see and hear “world-class” musicians perform their greatest hits.

Tips for Fredericksburg Moms living the real life “Toy Story.”

By Moms of Fredericksburg guest blogger, Linda Clevenger

Toys, toys….where to put them, how to store them? This is a question that puzzles so many parents. We all know the value of positive stimulation and educational tools to help our children develop their emotional, gross and fine motor skills. But where do you store them all? How do you avoid having toys clutter up your living room, family room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc., etc.? Would you like help from a Professional Organizer?

toy story kids laptop

I have seen, firsthand, the wrath that toys can have on a household. With three grandchildren, all under the age of 6, their dolls, matchbox cars, stuffed animals, coloring books, and crayons all have a particular place. Even now in our attic, Teddy Ruxpin, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Strawberry Shortcake toys, and My Little Pony continue to occupy a specially designated spot. My goodness, are any of these back in the stores yet!

It’s been 20 years since I had a toddler running around in my home, and that’s why I decided things were going to be different this time around. I now utilize just one basket and one wicker trunk to hold all of their toys, puzzles, dolls, coloring books, matchbox cars (yes, she loves her cars), and anything else.

The local Target has a good selection of organizing cubes, wicker baskets, etc.

toys in wicker boxes

Keeping your children’s toys organized can be a challenge. In fact, you may feel, at times, like toys have overtaken your home. I’ve worked with moms who allow toys to be in the kitchen, living room, family room, bedrooms, bathroom – just about every room in their home. Of course, bedtime toys are in the bedroom and bathtime toys are kept in the bathroom but, really…should you be kicking toys out of the way to avoid tripping over them?

messy kids toys

So what’s been our key to keeping things under control this time around? Simple – we have a rotation process…nothing can come in unless something goes out. I use this analogy all the time: “the walls of your home won’t expand to accommodate everything that comes in, unless something goes out.”

Joining Moms Of Fredericksburg’s Main Mom, we’d like to hear your best, or should we say “worst,” real life Toy Story as it unfolds behind your home’s front door. Summer is a great time to get toy clutter under control and have your household back in order prior to the start of a new school year. The winner of the contest will receive 2 hours of special “Toy Purge” time with Linda Clevenger, Professional Organizer and owner of Organization Direct. You’ll also receive a consultation and Action Plan to organize your children’s toys. With over 3 hours of professional consultation time, this prize has a value of over $200.

So, let’s hear your real life “Toy Story.” Send a picture along!

Please comment on this post for your entry to win!

Local Theater Group – Fredericksburg CYT Seriously talented!

Have you ever been so excited about a newly discovered local gem that you just HAD to share it immediately with all of your friends (or even strangers for that matter) because you couldn’t stop thinking about how fantastic it was?! Well, that’s exactly how I felt while watching a live performance of Disney’s MULAN, by Fredericksburg’s Christian Youth Theater (CYT) two weeks ago.
mulan actor with girl

Taking my children to one of CYT’s performances has been on my agenda for some time now. How sorry I am that it took so long to find an opportunity to spend less than $50 for an afternoon filled with top notch entertainment! What was really surprising to me, more so than the obvious dedication and talent of this non-profit theater group, was the level of commitment to each and every aspect of the performance itself. The stage props, costumes, music, lighting – everything was just perfect! Don’t get me wrong, I have no theater background, nor could I act if my life depended upon it. BUT, what I can do is compare these 100+ incredibly talented local kids to the cast of a Broadway show. And let me tell you, I came away feeling just as satisfied and drawn in by the quality of the performance. Simply amazing! Bravo!

I took my two older boys and one of their neighborhood friends along to see the 2 hour show. At the end of the performance, my five year old son turned toward me and said, “It’s over already?” The three were absolutely elated to meet the cast. So much so that they made plans to put on their own show as soon as we got home. These, by the way, are rough and tumble kids who, prior to settling down for the show, were swinging from my chandelier!

From July 28th through July 31st, CYT will be presenting their next live performance, “THE SOUND OF MUSIC,” at the Spotsylvania High School. Thursday and Friday (07/28-29) each offer a nightly show beginning at 7pm. Saturday and Sunday (07/30-31) each offer a 2pm afternoon show as well as a nightly 7pm show. Tickets ordered online go for $13 each, while waiting to purchase at the door will set you back another two for a total of $15 each. I hope you enjoy this performance as much as I enjoyed the last. CYT is a theater ensemble not to be missed!

Fredericksburg Field House Run “N Fun Camp Giveaway

Moms of Fredericksburg.com has the greatest fans! Help us spread the word about our website and enter for a chance to win 1 free week of Run “N Fun Camp at the Fredericksburg Field House!

Here’s how to enter:

1. Post the comment “I shared” on our wall. This will be your entry to win.

2. SHARE this post on your Facebook wall with your friends and comment “I helped spread the word for Moms of Fredericksburg.com.”

One lucky Moms of Fredericksburg Fan will be selected on Friday, July 1st.

Thanks again fans! Your support helps promote this mommy created and “approved” resource for Fredericksburg families!

Fredericksburg’s Best Family Asian Grill and Sushi Bar – Miso

A guest post by Tiffany Cheng, owner of Fredericksburg’s best asian grill and sushi bar – Miso!

sushi

FRESH IS THE FOUNDATION FOR ALL THINGS GOOD TO EAT!
Managing a restaurant is a wonderful challenge with tremendous rewards, particularly when you receive compliments from your customers. Many times, we’ve been compared to Asian restaurants in larger metropolitan areas and asked what we do that separates us from all the others. Quite frankly, I am not too familiar with other restaurants, but I do know our success revolves around three separate but equally important components: 1. Our ability to identify, purchase, and use the freshest products; 2. Having a master sushi chef to insure the highest quality of fish for our sushi; and 3. Chefs in our kitchen who specialize in blending the very best of traditional Asian culinary art to prepare your meal.

We also know that for us to be truly exceptional, everything has to be prepared by hand, using seasonal vegetables and fresh meats free of additives, fillers and preservatives. We match these fresh, natural ingredients with our chef’s expert culinary skills to create a harmonious blend of flavor, resulting in an extraordinary dining experience.

asian food

There are other factors which make a restaurant, and its food, stand out from the crowd. One I cannot emphasize enough is having a master sushi chef on staff to control the quality of the fish used for sushi dishes. Because the FDA does not have any “grading standards” for “sushi grade fish,” the responsibility, therefore, falls upon the restaurant, and its sushi chef, to ensure the highest quality of fish. At Miso, we’ve always had a master sushi chef on staff to ensure our customers receive the highest quality fish in each dish. This is an excellent question to ask when you dine at a restaurant that serves sushi. If they do not answer the question appropriately, they may be serving you packaged, previously prepared sushi, or sushi prepared in an environment where price is more important than product. Your one true safeguard is the master sushi chef who works at the restaurant on a full time basis.
Miso Asian Grill photo

We wish you a great summer.

2011 Fredericksburg 4th of July Activities, Festivals, Fireworks…..

Whether your family will be spending it’s first “4th” in Fredericksburg, or you’re a local resident who’s familiar with what’s going on in town over the holiday weekend, Moms of Fredericksburg will help give you a quick run down of what, where, when, who, and how much? We’ll be continually updating the Events calendar as we come across more ways to celebrate one of our nation’s most historic holidays the ‘Burg Way!

4th of july girls smiling

Fredericksburg:
32ND ANNUAL HERITAGE FESTIVAL 5 MILE RACE: July 2nd registration from 10am-6pm at the VARunner store in Central Park. On race day, registration begins at 06:30am at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center on Caroline Street. Or register online. With a 07:45am start, the race’s USTF certified route will allow its competitors the pleasure of touring our beautiful and historic city while getting a great work-out! Awards go to the 3 overall finishers and the top male/female finishers within each age division. We’ll see you there!

FESTIVAL OF THE STREETS: This event lasts from 10am to 4pm and includes activities for everyone in your family. From an antique pick-up truck show for Dad, to free pony rides for the kids, your family will have a blast!

PRATT PARK’S JULY 4TH SPECTACULAR: Beginning at 06:00pm, the University of Mary Washington Community Symphony will be on hand to perform a variety of songs to satisfy everyone’s musical interests.

FIREWORKS: At 09:15pm, the sites and sounds which are the hallmark of every July 4th celebration begin. Your family will be amazed as the fireworks rocket into the sky high above the Rappahannock River. Take your portable chairs and non-alcoholic beverages to either Brooks Park or Pratt Park. Parking is free. See you there!

Spotsylvania County:
SPOTSYLVANIA STARS AND STRIPES SPECTACULAR: On July 2nd, beginning at 03:00pm, the Spotsylvania Court House will host an event filled day of live music, children’s activities, Sheriff’s Office activities, and Fire Department activities. The event will be capped off later in the evening with a spectacular fireworks display. Food will be available for purchase.

Stafford County:
FERRY FARM’S FABULOUS 4TH OF JULY: From 10am-5pm, you and your family can visit George Washington’s boyhood home and talk to actors portraying George Washington, Revolutionary War soldiers, and other 18th century laborers. Plus, you can learn about the local Patawomeck Tribe, and what it was like to live as a Native American during revolutionary times. There will be games, crafts, live music, and food available to enjoy. A truly special event not to be missed. For more information on Fredericksburg history.

Tips for Families with Food Allergies

This morning, I was shocked to read a recent news article regarding a study reporting that 1 in 13 children living in the United States have some type of food allergy! Not surprisingly, peanuts and milk were listed as the most common food allergy sources. Although I can’t relate, first hand, to the challenges families face when dealing with life threatening food allergies, I am motivated to help those mothers, who are directly affected, find the resources and support they need.

If a member of your family has a food allergy, the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) is a wonderful resource. It was founded back in 1988 by parents and grandparents who were concerned about the rise of food allergies.

Fredericksburg Kids’ Summer Reading Events

MOMS: Need to get your children motivated to read this summer? The Borders bookstore in Fredericksburg is having a “Double Dog Dare Challenge” to encourage summer reading. Participating children, ages 12 and under, will receive a FREE book.

Now that school is out and the summer has officially begun, I’ve noticed myself repeatedly telling my oldest son (a 6 year old who thinks he’s 16) to sit down and read a book in preparation for 1st grade this Fall.

Kid reading book

To this day, one of the best parental “words of wisdom” I’ve ever heard was that reading to your children at a young age is like giving them gold coins to invest in their future. Bearing that in mind over the summer break, my Husband and I are committed to maintaining our nightly ritual of story time, which we hope will encourage our boys to see reading as an enjoyable past time. Even if it’s Scooby Doo!

I would like to encourage all you Fredericksburg Mothers to seek out opportunities for your children with regard to reading. One fantastic way I found for your kids to discover new books and revisit classics is by signing up for the free summer reading program at our local library. Boys and girls of all ages can get involved in the fun and enter to win prizes!

Dads of Fredericksburg Contest

I don’t know about your husband, but my “Dad of Fredericksburg” has a very small list of special requests when it comes to Father’s Day. With his extremely busy work schedule, special times like “Father’s Day” provide a rare opportunity to spend the day relaxing with his family and just enjoying the simple things in life. He definitely doesn’t want a planned itinerary of things to do, places to see, or events to attend. So, the LAST thing I am going to do is have a Father’s Day itinerary ready for him. What I WILL do for him is take our children to Wegman’s on Saturday between 11 am and 3 pm to decorate an Ultimate Chocolate Cake for Dad! It’s only $12 per cake and I know our sons will have an absolute blast decorating dad’s favorite dessert – chocolate cake!

Reply to this post with a short comment about why your husband, or Dad, deserves to feast like a King on his favorite dessert for Father’s Day and your entry will be submitted for a shot at winning a $25 Wegmans gift card.

Probably, the only thing my husband enjoys more than chocolate cake is cars! Our Dad of Fredericksburg is a car MANIAC! He is completely obsessed with reading every single magazine about every single car in his spare time. So, if your Dad of Fredericksburg is a dedicated car man – send us a short reply as to why your husband, or dad, deserves to win a Gift Card for a free Mini Detail at Express Auto Spa in Fredericksburg.

Photo from http://purvisford.dealerconnection.com/

If you reply to this Facebook entry – your Dad of Fredericksburg names will be entered into a drawing for one of the gift card giveaways. Happy Father’s Day to all you “Dads of Fredericksburg!” Relax guys….you’ll be back to work on Monday!

Can Moms get the “Triple D Guy” to visit the Burg?

I’ll tell you what, this Mom gets excited when she clicks on one of her favorite cable channels and see Diners, Drive-ins and Dives headlining the hour. How many nights have you spent watching Triple D? Is it just me or does Guy have a way of making you smile at the end of a long day?! I love the concept of finding great locally owned restaurants throughout the country, while spending the time talking about food, sharing recipes, and sampling every single dish. Most importantly, I truly enjoy watching Guy greet, meet and eat at the locals’ favorite eateries in big and small cities!

My husband and I have spent many nights asking each other the same question, IS there a place like “that” restaurant in Fredericksburg?! A great locally owned diner, drive-in or dive that is serving exceptional dishes, with devoted customers coming back for more of the same great food, day after day, month after month, year after year?

Fredericksburg – please help Moms of Fredericksburg with our mission to call out the best locally owned restaurants in Fredericksburg. We will send this blog, along with YOUR votes for who, where and why, straight to the Food Network for a shot at invited Guy “(Fee-eddy)” to the Burg.

Guy has also launched the Cooking with Kids Foundation with a mission to encourage children to become more involved in the kitchen and education influencing healthy food options for families.

Kudos to Guy for influencing children (boys and girls alike) to become more involved in the kitchen. Moms – can you agree, there’s something special about a man that can cook?!

Summer Survival Tips for Moms

Check out this great article by Amy McCready, a highly sought-after parenting coach, speaker, consultant and writer. Following a self imposed career sabbatical to raise her two sons (now ages 13 and 15), Amy founded Positive Parenting Solutions in 2004. Her goal was to help educate parents about how they could more effectively communicate with, and ultimately, connect to their children. Through her online parenting courses, live webinars, and speaking engagements, Amy has gained widespread attention and has been called upon as an expert by numerous media outlets, including NBC’s TODAY Show, The New York Times, The Rachael Ray Show, Fox & Friends, and MSNBC.”

5 Steps to Put the Brakes on Back Talk

As a parent, hearing comments from our children like, “No, I won’t,” or “You do it,” can be particularly trying, even on the best days. In my experience, back talk has been the number one parenting complaint from all the mothers and fathers I’ve spoken with. It can be SO hard to get our kids to respond to a request without the whining, rolling their eyes, or simply ignoring us that many parents resort to often stated, seldom understood quips like, “You’ll do it because I said so!,” or “Don’t you dare talk to me that way!”

“Back talk” may be annoying and, at times, downright infuriating, but it’s a common side-effect of your child’s growth and need for independence. No matter what the age, children require a strong sense of personal power at an emotional level. When they can’t get it because we’re ordering them around or doing everything for them, they lash out with words. It’s the typical “fight or flight” response, meaning since they can’t remove themselves permanently from the current situation (flight), they’ll stay and fight by testing their limits, in hopes of provoking a reaction.

The best way to quickly curtail “back talk” is to allow our children to feel the positive personal power they yearn for. By fostering their independence, within our limits, we as parents can help them to grow, while at the same time limiting the arguments and whining that no one enjoys. Here’s how:

1.Give kids some power
Find opportunities for your children to assume some control of their own world. This could be as simple as allowing your toddler to pick out his or her own outfit for the day, or allowing your teenager to plan an activity during a family vacation. The more positive power you give them, the less they’ll try to get it in negative ways.

2. Don’t play a role
Recognize that parents may unknowingly contribute to the power struggles that produce “back talk” by bossing kids around too frequently. After all, would you be able to hold your tongue if you were told what to do all day? Limit the ordering, directing, and correcting you do by finding alternate ways to get cooperation, and you may just find the “back talk” has lessened considerably.

3. Pay attention!
Your kids have an attention basket that needs to be filled each and every day. They need your undivided attention, and will quite likely get it one way or another! Spend 10 minutes twice a day getting into each child’s world with no interruptions (READ: let your phone go to voice mail, etc.) and you’ll soon see an increased level of cooperation.

4. Refer to the rules
Set very clear rules for your house, along with very clear consequences for any child who chooses to test them. You don’t have to be overly harsh or strict, you simply need to stay within the limits you impose.

5. Keep your cool

Your kids may be talking back simply to get a rise out of you—so don’t give them the satisfaction! Say something along the lines of, “I feel hurt by the way you’re talking to me. When I hear that tone of voice, I’m going to walk away. We can talk again when you can speak respectfully to me.” Then walk away. Next time it happens, there’s no need for even a warning—simply leave the room. You’re sending the message that you refuse to participate in a power struggle. And when there’s no one to fight with, there’s no fight!

By following these 5 steps, you’ll greatly reduce the amount of “back talk” you hear from your kids. The resulting harmony will be music to your ears.

Organization Tips for Super Moms

Did you ever hear the term, “Zen Mom?” Soon after the birth of our oldest son, my doctor had a heart to heart with me about the need to re-prioritize my life as a new parent. I understood the advice he was trying to impart, however, not being a “Zen Mom,” I still needed to have some type of order in my life while, at the same time, meeting the needs of my newborn. Laundry, house cleaning, bills, and attempting to integrate endless baby toys throughout our normally organized house took some getting used to. Because I’m definitely more Type-A than Zen Mom, allowing our home to fall into disorder was out of question since it did nothing but slow me down.

Thank goodness for people like Linda Clevenger, a local mom and owner of Organization Direct. Please read below about Linda’s personal triumphs as she worked toward the title of “Super Mom!”

I wish that Moms Of Fredericksburg had been around when we moved to the area almost 19 years ago. Being a Marine Corps family we have made multiple moves, as so many of you can relate to, but this move was different. All three of our children would be going to school in Spotsylvania. Our oldest was half way through first grade and the two were only 3 and 4 years behind. Since this was our twilight tour, it was important that we make the right choice – the first time. Moving from Camp LeJeune, NC to Quantico, VA was also a culture shock for me. Growing up on a New Jersey dairy farm, this was the closest that I had ever lived to a “big city”.
This move my plan was to be “SuperMom”. Within 2 weeks of arriving in Spotsylvania I was working in Washington, DC (then it was only a 1 hour commute each way), caring for children who were 3, 4 and 7 year old and supporting my husband in his Marine Corps career. We needed to be focused on our goals, this tour would go by quickly. I was able to pull it all off. I worked in Washington, DC for 3 years doing the commute until it came time to retire and I took a position closer to home and my husband started the long commute.
Why do I share this with you? Because being “Organized” was the only way that I was able to be “Supermom”. Juggling children’s schedules, my work schedule, home, meals, laundry and the commute wasn’t easy. It meant coordinating my time and energy into a day that was usually at least 17 hours long.

Since I started my business 5 years ago, I have been able to help so many moms with tools and techniques that they can use on a daily/weekly basis to allow them to see the “light at the end of the tunnel” and reduce their stress. Here are just a few of the techniques that they have found most beneficial:

Home Office Makeover by Organization Direct

First - Have a 10-15 minute family meeting on Sunday evenings to discuss the events of the upcoming week. This helps keep everyone up to date on schedules.
Second – Schedule out meals for the week. This helps avoid “meals on the go” syndrome that include speaking into a microphone and a bag.
Third – Be consistent in everything that you do.

Being a Mom is the most important job in the world. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual, CD or video that lays out everything you “need to know”. As the mom of 3 adult children, a mother-in-law and now a “mammau” raising a 3 year old, I’m happy to share tips and techniques to help keep you organized. Feel free to let me know how I can assist.
Linda Clevenger
www.organzationdirect.com
540-220-5912 DON’T AGONIZE – ORGANIZE

Tips for Moms – Grocery Shopping with Kids

This year has been one of the most challenging for me in terms of sticking to my guns when it comes to feeding my children real food. You see, about 10 years ago, I made the conscious decision to focus on buying food with ingredients my grandmother would recognize. Little did I know, this decision would become one of my greatest parenthood challenges. When it comes time to head out to the local grocery store with my three boys, (ages 6, 5, and 1), I realize I must be prepared to say, “No” on a fairly constant basis. Even though they are too young to truly understand my need to abstain from junk food, our trips are a great opportunity to instill within them a healthy mindset at an early age. I have faith it’ll pay dividends in the future. As a life-long learner, I continue to educate myself whenever possible. The following article, written by Fooducate, is a fantastic reminder of why I should care about what fuels my body and that of my children. It gives me additional confidence regarding my beliefs about food, and its impact upon health, without all the fancy advertising to lull me into purchasing products which aren’t in my family’s best interests.

Being a Mom becomes more challenging as our children grow. There are delicious temptations wherever you look. But, please don’t get me wrong…everyone loves to enjoy something sweet from time to time. I just prefer to make sweets a special treat around our house instead of just a normal part of the day.

The Healthy Myth of Functional Food

Great writeup in yesterday’ New York Times – Food with Benefits, or So They Say – about all those processed products in the supermarket posing as healthy:

In aisle after aisle, wonders beckon. Foods and drinks to help your heart, lower your cholesterol, trim your tummy, coddle your colon. Toss them into your cart and you might feel better. Heck, you might even live longer.

Or not. Because this, shoppers, is the question: Are all these products really healthy, or are some of them just hyped?

The answer to that question matters to millions of Americans who are wagering their money and their waistlines on hot new products in the grocery aisles called “functional foods.” Read more…

What you need to know:

Nobody says it more succinctly than NYU Nutrition Professor Marion Nestle – Functional foods are more about marketing than they are about health.

We couldn’t agree more.

Take the average American supermarket – 50,000 products give or take a few. Notice how ALL OF THEM are somehow labeled good for you.

If it’s high in fat – it will boast low sugar

If it’s super sugary – it’s low fat

Full of artificial colors and sweeteners? No worries, it’s a perfect low calorie treat

Overly processed? No problem, pump it up with added vitamins and minerals.

etc…

If all these foods are so healthy, how come we are all getting so fat and sick?

Did you know that taxpayers spent $150,000,000,000 paying for health problems related to obesity / food related diseases? Totally preventable.

It’s just that somewhere along the road to the 21st century we forgot to eat real food.

What to do at the supermarket:

IGNORE anything written on the front of a product package. Except for the name. The only information you should relate to when it comes to nutrition is the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day – is it really about a Day?

You can never really appreciate the holiday until you become a Mom. Is it just me or do you look forward to the one Sunday morning all year (well maybe your birthday too) that you can lay in bed for a few extra minutes waiting for the royal treatment to begin?! Expecting breakfast, coffee, flowers, a card, or just plain old solitude. Well, it’s here again Moms and you know what…we deserve it! Take every second you can and accept the royal treatment.

Moms of Fredericksburg – please know that there are many Mothers within our community who will be spending this day as if it were like any other. Military moms – your husbands will be thinking of you today and feeling much gratitude for your commitment to your family. Like Rosie the Riveter said, “we can do it” and we continue to do it, day after day, holiday after holiday, Mother’s Day after Mother’s Day. This Sunday though, please take a few moments to reward yourself for dutifully filling those enormous shoes and doing the most important job a woman can do.

Mother’s Day Tribute to Moms of Fredericksburg

For the past year, you’ve been wearing (sometimes literally) the title of “Mommy.” God has blessed you with the most precious gifts He can bestow upon a human being. They are happy, healthy, and strong – all of which is due to their Mother’s timeless love and endless care. You continue to provide for them in ways they have yet to imagine. And in the process, you have grown as well (not literally, mind you). Your children have taught you many special things. Like knowing when to laugh yourself silly, to finding answers for all of those seemingly endless questions, to juggling multiple tasks all at the same time. And you’ve taught them as well. Like how to listen to instructions (most of the time), how to honor their parents wishes (some of the time), and how to clean their rooms (well, maybe they still need work on that.) But the point is, you’ve made the effort. The effort some parents aren’t willing to expend. The effort needed to give each of your children the fighting chance they need to succeed in this world.

You are SO much more than the greatest Mother. You are THE shining example of what every human being strives to become…full of love, courage, beauty and strength. You are truly loved…and don’t you ever forget that!

Enjoy your Sunday, Moms!

Thanks to Fredericksburg Nurses

On the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, I would like announce the winner of Moms of Fredericksburg’s Nurse Mom of the Week Contest. Please read below, all of the messages I received nominating local Nurse Moms. Each one of these Nurses deserve special recognition for doing an extraordinary job serving our Community and being great Moms!

Stephanie Coerper Wins a Massage from Pennie Rose Massage!

I would like to nominate my wife Stephanie Coerper for the best nurse mom. She recently gave birth to our first son Braeden(10 Months ago) She has been an LPN with Allergy Partners of Fredericksburg for the past 2 years.

I have watched her with my son and there is no woman more patient with an infant than her. Our son Braeden was born with reflux, and he was a very fussy needy baby. He would scream constantly if he was not being fed. I did not understand what was going on and thought that he was just hungry. Steph was worried about the situation but I kept assuring her that Braeden was fine. It finally came to a head when our 3 week old was eating 4-6 ounces at a sitting, then spitting most of it back up. She finally said that’s it, we are taking him to the doctor. This is when Braeden was diagnosed with the reflux. If you have never seen an infant with reflux then you are lucky. Me sitting here typing the words does not does not adequately describe the situation. Braeden was screaming constantly. If he wasn’t screaming he was eating. The patience showed by my wife at this time was amazing.

She has continued to be amazing. Watching her with my son makes my heart melt. I am a cop for a local jurisdiction. I work evenings so I am not home a lot of nights to put my son to sleep. When I am home all I can do is watch in amazement as my wife has my son calmed down in 10 to 15 minutes. I am jealous of that time. I can’t get him to go to sleep for the life of me!

She is always planning play dates with our son. We take him to various parks in the area, walking through trails, and to friends houses.

I write about my wife and I see how much she means to my son, but the writing cannot describe the love she has for him. When I get home at night, at 2 AM, the first thing she asks me is “Did you check on Brady” Then she asks about my night. I can’t begin to describe their interaction. My son sees my wife and immediately starts to smile. He puts his arms out to Stephanie, wanting to be picked up. There is no better mom out there. None of this begins to describe how much my wife loves my son. I see it in her eyes every time she looks at Braeden. I hear it in her voice when she calls and asks about him, or talks about him, and I see it in her touch when she snuggles him. I could not ask for a better mommy for my little boy!

There was never any horrible incident that jumps out in my mind. There wasn’t a bad accident and he was born with no complications. Steph just loves our little boy unconditionally, totally, and without any thought of herself. She is the definition of solid steady heartfelt love. Dep Matthew Coerper

I have many friends & co-workers that are nurses & mommy’s, but I have to say that Erin Hewitt stands out most for me. She is a mom to five wonderful children and still manages to work full time on a very busy general surgery floor at Mary Washington Hospital. Erin as a mother is full of patience, sincerity, godliness, love & virtue. All of those attributes remain the same with her at work. She treats all of her patient’s with understanding, kindness and empathy (amongst many other things). On days when she is our charge nurse she is fair with all the staff during our assignments. She helps out everyone the best she can and always makes herself available. I’ve watched her during code blue situations remain calm, but vigorous in her efforts to help & save the patient. I have also observed Erin at home with her children. Like I said earlier, all those traits remain the same from work to home. She is so kind & patient with her children, yet disciplines at the same time. She is a backbone for her family & a lovely wife to her husband, Jason. I know that Erin would never treat herself to something as special as a massage and think a gift like this would blow her out of the water.

Thank you for your consideration. Let me know if there are any other additional comments or thoughts you need!
-Aimee-

I would like to add the BEST nurse of Fredericksburg to your contest.
Ms. Leigh Ann Lazenby of Preferred Pediatrics. My children have had
the pleasure of being Leigh Ann’s patients over the past 2 years. Her
beautiful soft spirit can calm the anxiety of a child, like no other!
Her support to me as a parent is unmatched. Leigh Ann definitely would
like a massage :) Thanks.
Have a beautiful day!
Cindy Blankenship

My friend Bronwyn is a nurse at Stafford Hospital, on top of being a mom to three kids! She has been a great friend to me since I moved here and didn’t know anyone, and she works so hard. Her job is very hard, she often works with older dementia patients and her demeanor and personality is exactly the right one for someone who may be confused and in pain. I forget the name of her specialty, but she calls it Butts and Guts! I know she would really appreciate a massage.
Thank you,
Cristina

I want my mom to win! Her name is Kathy Young. She works at Mary Washington in out patient/same day surgery! She is a wonderful mom and nurse. She is loving and caring, always putting others before herself. Between working full time, quilters guild and being the youth minister for the base’s youth group, she doesn’t get much time for herself!

My vote is for a dear friend, Carrie Combs. She is the most compassionate and caring person I know and many will agree! She has graduated and become a nurse more recently but she has worked hard and diligently to make it to this point. We each have a teenage boy and toddler age kid as well so, I know it’s hard to have to be caring ALL the time but I know any day, any time I can call Carrie for help, an ear, or a favor and she will be there for me as she is with her patients at the Culpeper Hospital!
Have a Great Day! Georgette Gunter

The nurse I’m entering is Julie Weathers at Pratt Medical Center. She is a Certified Nurse Midwife, and she works VERY hard. She delivered my first son, and will be delivering my 2nd in June. The reason she deserves to win is that her job, as she put it, is not a 9-5 job, and unless she is out of town, she is on call ALL THE TIME. She deals very personally with each of her patients, spending time with them and getting to know them as people, and does her best to put people at ease about the whole process.
A fantastic nurse! Thanks for your consideration! Submitted by Victoria

Tips for Moms – Grocery Shopping 101

I spend a minimum of 6 hours each month in local grocery stores shopping for my family of 5. As a mother, this is without a doubt, one of my most important responsibilities! Moms, the buck stops with us. And although our husbands would probably disagree, its so much more than just making sure the refrigerator is fully stocked with food. For us moms, we also need to make sure that food we purchased is going to nourish us and keep our families healthy for years to come.

I’ve known for quite some time about the negative connotations frequently associated High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Sometimes, however, I have a difficult time explaining to others exactly WHY I try to stay clear of this ingredient when shopping in the grocery store. In an effort to better educate myself regarding this popular sweetener, I began doing some personal research. Marion Nestle’s article for foodpolitics.com, provided a simple explanation as to just what it is, and why you may want to avoid it. Although often-times presented as such, HFCS is NOT public enemy number one! In fact, it is actually fairly similar to sucrose, or what most Americans refer to as common table sugar. Both products contain glucose and fructose in varying amounts, and both are consumed at nearly the same rate per year. Sucrose, however, is more expensive than HFCS which means you’re likely to see plenty of processed food items containing the corn based product at your local grocery store. Not surprisingly, companies who manufacture what we Mother’s commonly refer to as ” junk food” tend to utilize HFCS for this very reason. Nestle’s point in showing the similarities and differences between the two sweeteners is that since our bodies prefer to metabolize fructose as fat, both HFCS AND sucrose should be consumed in moderation. Please take a look at her article for additional information.

2 BBQ Sauces, 1 with high fructose, 1 without. The difference in price is approximately 20 cents.

BACK TO 26 IN 36 WEEKS

Wow – How ironic is it that it took me 36 weeks to transform my 36 year old body back into its 26 year old form? That realization makes me see, literally, just how hard we Mommies have to work to look our best!

In August of last year, I turned 36 years old just as we were preparing to celebrate our youngest son’s first birthday. Throughout the entire summer, I struggled to balance the needs of my three children with my need to find time for physical exercise. I agonized over how challenging a third child made each day, forcing me to continually redefine my priorities, while, at the same time, honoring my vow to regularly use the gym. There was never a shortage of excuses to skip the gym. Dinner, school work, dishes, laundry, bed-time routines, baths, bed, etc., etc. Everything and everyone but me came first. By the end of the day, I was absolutely exhausted and couldn’t find any time (or reason) to satisfy my personal needs.

The only way to make myself accountable to AND for my own health was to hire an athletic trainer at a local Fredericksburg gym to help whip this mommy’s butt back into shape! For 12 wonderful weeks, I was physically and mentally devoted to reclaiming my youthful appearance, overall fitness level, and most important, just being the BEST I could be. I made it through the intense workouts and dietary changes by taking it one day at a time. I no longer ate table scraps all day to keep my body fueled for my busy schedule. I began making sure this mommy got her veggies, fruits, water, protein and all of the other necessary foods to provide nourishment, strength, and focus. In the beginning, it really wasn’t about how I looked, it was the self realization that I was in horrible shape after enduring the details of my initial fitness testing. I looked okay but my body fat, endurance, and overall fitness level had declined sharply compared to before I had children.

Let me just say the commitment I made to myself was so strong, nothing would, or could, stop me from reaching my goal. It took an enormous amount of sweat, tears, pain, and devotion to make it to the proverbial finish line. BUT, in the process, I gained a heck of a lot more than just a size 6. I showed my children that mommy is important; that mommy needs to be healthy; and that mommy CAN do it! If I can reach my goals and achieve great personal success, you can too! It just takes confidence, and with each obstacle you crush, the increase in self-esteem will carry you through the next challenge. Self doubt is the ONLY thing standing in your way.

When I turned 36, I literally could not run 1 mile. This past weekend, I ran 13.1 miles with over 5000 Fredericksburg locals. Many of those runners were Moms, just like you and me!

Me and Drew Carey at Packet Pick-up

What you should take away from this post:

1.ANYTHING is possible if believe in yourself and find that reason.
2.SHOW your children how to achieve goals. It’ll mean a lot more than just telling them.
3.ONE day at a time is really the only way to overcome obstacles.

Flavor does more than make this Mom’s mouth water.

Most people who know me, understand the passion I have for all things Food. I can eat, talk, learn, and read about food all day long. Real food, that is. Food that is grown by farmers and sold by stores staying true to the “farm-to-table” movement. For those of you unfamiliar with Flavor magazine, it is the only independent publication, within the Washington DC and Virginia areas, dedicated to sustainable farming, chef owned eateries, and Virginia wine. In addition, Flavor magazine can be used as a resource for learning more about mindful eating, and making the right choices for the entire family.

I am thrilled for the opportunity to share some of the articles contained within Flavor which recently featured some of Fredericksburg’s finest restaurants.


On Location: Fredericksburg
April 1, 2011 by flavorma

Filed under Articles, Travel
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By Jennifer Pullinger, Photo by Donna Hopkins

Don’t go to Fredericksburg just for the history; go to find out what makes its local food scene one of the most buzz-worthy in Virginia.

With Civil War Sesquicentennial commemorations cropping up across Virginia this year, there’s no better time for a weekend getaway to Fredericksburg. Most know of the city’s historic role in “The Late Unpleasantness.” What you may not know is how well Fredericksburg deserves its reputation as a hotspot for locavores. Indeed, one of the city’s historic district jewels has earned a rare distinction: Epicurious.com recently named Poppy Hill Tuscan Kitchen on Charles Street one of “The Top 10 Farm-to-Table Restaurants” in the U.S.
If Poppy Hill is packed the day you’re visiting, simply head down the street to another favorite, La Petite Auberge on William Street, known for its French and regional fare comprised of seasonal, locally grown produce. For some post-meal rest and relaxation, and for the full Fredericksburg area experience, check in at La Vista Plantation, a bed and breakfast located near the sites of some of the Civil War’s most famous battles. In the morning, innkeepers serve guests a hearty breakfast that includes Smithfield Bacon and fresh eggs from hens that freely roam the property.
Start day two at Hartwood Winery, a short 10-mile ride from Fredericksburg. Make sure you sample the Rappahannock Red, which the vintner has been producing for 35 years. For more home brewed beverages, duck into Lee’s Retreat at the Blue & Gray Brewing Co., where you can find beer brewed on site, Virginia wines, and weekly food specials often made with fresh ingredients from nearby farmers.
Before your Fredericksburg jaunt wraps up, pop into Bistro Bethem on William Street. Its menu features a range of locally sourced ingredients, including eggs, greens, vegetables, and herbs. Bistro Bethem diners can also enjoy rabbit, pork, and turkey from local farms.
If it’s seafood you prefer, get some Chesapeake Bay crabs to steam at home at B&G Seafood Market off Route 3. You can also stock up your pantry at Miller Farms Market in Locust Grove. It’s worth the side trip through the countryside to load up on wildflower, tulip poplar, and Dutch clover honeys; Highland County maple syrup; lamb from Retreat Farms in Rapidan; and grass-fed bison from Brookneale. In April Miller will offer a freshly picked Mesclun mix, and with the kick-off of the growing season in May, strawberries ⎯ the ideal way to savor your sojourn to through the historic Fredericksburg region.

CONTACTS:
Poppy Hill Tuscan Kitchen
1000 Charles St. Fredericksburg, VA
(540) 373.2035
www.ciaopoppyhill.com
La Petite Auberge
311 William St., Fredericksburg, VA
(540) 371.2727
www.lapetiteaubergefredericksburg.com
La Vista Plantation Bed & Breakfast
4420 Guinea Station Rd., Fredericksburg, VA
(540) 898.8444
www.lavistaplantation.com
Bistro Bethem
309 William Street, Fredericksburg, VA
(540) 371.9999
www.bistrobethem.com
Hartwood Winery
345 Hartwood Rd., Fredericksburg,VA
(540) 752.4893
www.hartwoodwinery.com
B & G Seafood Market
4901 Plank Rd., Fredericksburg, VA
(540) 548.3474‎
www.bandgseafood.com
Blue & Gray Brewing Co.
3300 Dill Smith Dr., Fredericksburg, Va. 22408
(540) 538.2379
www.blueandgraybrewingco.com
Miller Farms Market
12101 Orange Plank Road, Locust Grove, VA
(540) 972.2680
www.millerfarmsmarket.com

Jennifer Pullinger, a freelance writer in Richmond, VA, has been following food culture since 2001, when she worked with Rachael Ray to secure her first appearance of “The NBC Today Show” and her first meeting with The Food Network.

Day Trips for Families in Fredericksburg – Washington Nationals

Need to expand your horizons beyond the immediate Fredericksburg area? Numerous day trips are available to adventurous mothers. Today, my Husband and I took our kids 50 miles north to Washington DC, home of the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team. On Signature Sundays, Harris Teeter Family Fun Pack tickets generally range in price from $14-$25, depending upon seat location within the stadium. With each ticket, you are eligible to receive a voucher redeemable for 1 “NatsDogs” hot dog, 1 bag of chips, and 1 drink. (HINT: You must pick up your voucher PRIOR to entering the park at the Ticket Services Office.) In addition, kids aged 4-12 can run the bases immediately following the game. Great fun if your child has an interest in baseball!

We were able to park at the garages attached directly to the stadium which made things much easier, although it tacked on another $40 expense to our entertainment budget for the day. (There are cheaper garages in the vicinity that are priced more reasonably at $25). My children were absolutely thrilled to receive a free bat and ball as we entered the stadium. The stadium employees were pleasant and courteous, not always the case in other cities. A great resource to learn more about the Nationals stadium, as well as any other ball park is Baseball Parks.com.

Tips for making the best out of your trip to the ballpark from Fredericksburg:

1. Purchase tickets on www.stubhub.com (try to find a season ticket holder looking to sell premium seats for a fraction of the price.)
2. An informative ballpark blog with a few articles on the Nationals Stadium – visit Ballpark Insider.
3. Because food is extremely expensive to buy inside the park, I HIGHLY suggest you pack all of your snacks and beverages. Unless, that is, you have a limitless budget for food.
4. Have realistic expectations regarding your child’s ability to tolerate the heat. On Sunday, it was hot and humid with little breeze to mitigate the situation. So, unless you are fortunate enough to find seats in the air conditioned sections, you’ll most likely be dealing with some intense heat.
5. For Signature Sundays, plan to arrive at the game at least 90 minutes prior to the start. You’ll definitely want a good spot in line for the meet and greet with designated players who sign autographs and pose for pictures. This usually begins at 12 noon and is not to be missed. Players will only sign 1 item per fan and they are only available for 15 minutes.
6. You’ll have to wait until the game is over but children (ages 4-12) can actually run the bases down on the field.

Volunteer

The excitement I have for events marked on my calendar this Spring is similar to the feeling I had anticipating the birth of my second son in March of 2006.  Actually, it’s bizarre that I’m comparing the launch of my new business to the birth of a child.  However, I feel as though I  have created, nurtured and will now begin to introduce my fourth child to all of Fredericksburg.   This time though, I’ll be juggling the needs of my first three children with the demands of a prospering business, also known as “baby url” www.momsoffredericksburg.com.  Read More…

Home is Where the Heart is

What do you think of when you think of Home?  Some of you may think of your childhood home, or the town you grew up in.  Maybe you’ve spent the last several years living in places that just don’t give you the same positive feeling like when you re-visit your hometown.    Read More…

Diary of a Mom on a Mission

Ever felt like you’ve just been dragged through the mud?  I don’t mean “literally” but, if you understand what I’m referring to, then you can appreciate the tears rolling down my face as I sit here blogging away.  My tears are from the the joy of realizing my future as an Mommy Entrepreneur is going to be okay. Read More…

Relocating

Maybe your Husband just received new Orders, or you’re voluntarily relocating your family to enhance their quality of life. Most likely you feel overwhelmed at the very thought of moving again. Trust me, I’ve been there. My family has been there.  Multiple times. Our last move occurred just over two years ago when my Husband received a unique opportunity to change fields. I, of course, had an enormous “to do” list with no friends or family to call for advice in the Fredericksburg area. Read More…