Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Love Shutterfly

Our Christmas cards - pretty!
Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


It's the most wonderful time of the year. That gets overused a lot, particularly now - but it's really true. So many of us (myself included) find themselves so bogged down in all the trappings of the holidays that they forget to actually BE there during the holidays. Oh sure, they're there - in body, anyway, but maybe not - maybe they're in the kitchen or running to the store for that last minute perfect bow. Or maybe it's their brain that's missing - counting down what they should have done differently, or could have done better.

Just picked up "Celebrating and Savoring a Simple Christmas" (check out this link to get your own: and I'm really looking forward to losing the rat-race-get-it-all-do-it-all holiday mentality and simple things down.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Wolves, waterslides and a room with bunk beds and a TV - what's not for a kid to love?

At about noon on Friday we picked up Ian and set off "on an adventure, for a surprise". About 3.5 hours later, we arrived at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg - and I thought the kids' eyes were going to fall out of their sockets when they saw the place. We'd arrived about half an hour before our room would be ready (4pm) but that's OK - GWL allows you to use the waterpark from 1pm on the day of arrival! We left our suitcases in the car and booked for the slides. Once we were changed, we took the kids to get measured (what slides they can go on is height-dependent - Ian could go on all but one with adult supervision, and Megan could go on all but two, ditto) and grab some towels. Please note: seating appears to be ample, but that is deceptive given how many people there are at the park. If you see an empty table (or even a pair of vacant chairs next to a trash can) - GRAB IT. RIGHT NOW.

There are several areas of the park. Right as you walk in you see a massive wooden structure with two slides, many rope-net areas for climbing, a number of spray apparatii and small buckets for drenching unwary (or just unlucky) travellers below, and a ginormous bucket on top of the whole thing. That mama dumps its load every 15 minutes or so and as mentioned, it's a HUGE thing so there is a LOT of water coming down (scared the crap out of poor Megan when we were waiting for a slide though). Over to the right is a toddler area with small slides, and just past that is a wave pool (that was a big hit with my kids). To the back are the bigger, faster slides and the family raft slides, and on the left is a lazy river and a "games" area - think lily pads and water basketball.

- Doors open at 9am, and close at 9pm. You can begin playing at 1pm the day you arrive, and you can continue playing until close the day you check out. Check out is 11am.
- Let me reiterate. Grab a table or chairs ASAP. If you want a table, I'd advise getting to the doors before they open at 9am. We were there about 9:30 and were SOL, thus the chairs-by-the-trash-can scenario mentioned earlier.
- Lifejackets are provided, but seem to get sparse as the day goes on. You are allowed to bring and wear your own, however.
- There is a snackbar in the waterpark, but it, like most of the food options onsite, is very expensive. I'd advise packing food (or heading to the Super WalMart down the street for some) and eating in the room (the rooms have microwaves and mini-fridges) or there are several food options just offsite (Sonic, IHOP, CFA, Burger King).
- Saturday arrival is INSANE. We were leaving about 1:30 and the line to check in was past the doors. By contrast, we arrived Friday at 3:30 and waited behind one person.
- Locker rentals are available for $10 per day.

We ate offsite, so I can't speak to the quality of the restaurants. There is a Great Clock Tower show twice daily (at 10am and 8pm) which is popular with the littler kids, and for the older kids, GWL offers MagiQuest (think running around with wands, swooshing various items around the hotel and lots of excited screaming - wands run $13-25, with game activation coming in at $13). There is an arcade, various gift shops and snack shops (Pizza Hut and robot ice cream were the ones we heard about the most), in addition to a snake show on Saturday as we were leaving (VIPER).

We got a KidKamp suite, which the kids LOVED with a passion. Ian slept on the top bunk, Megan got the bottom and both went crazy for their very own in-room TV. The adults got a full bed, with a full-size pullout sofa as well.

Overall impression: very positive. It's (not surprisingly) supervision-intensive with smaller kids - think 7 and under - but the lifeguards are plentiful and vigilant, everyone is polite and helpful, and everyone will likely have a Great Wolf Time! :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Everything Shatters

How's THAT for a dramatic title?

No, it's not an angst-filled teenage love song, or a poem scrawled on the back of the shop building behind the school. What I'm talking about is...tile floors.

Yes, they look awesome. Yes, they're super easy to clean. But boy can you not drop one single breakable thing, or else - yep, it shatters. And with little kids (and a mother who's been described as klutzy on more than one occasion)? Things break a lot. A lot a lot.

A Twilight glass was the first casualty of the new floors. Then the ferret ceramic pepper shaker. And most recently, as of five minutes ago? The Precious Moments angel my inlaws gave Megan for her birthday eight days ago. Thankfully the angel didn't shatter so much as break into several large pieces, so it's an easy fix with some Super Glue.

Perhaps it's time to invest in some rugs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In Which The Plague Descends

You know how, when you're relatively sure it's going to be a bad winter for illness (because with kids in school, it's always - but *always* a bad winter for illness), you're always on your toes, walking on eggshells, waiting for it to happen? Analyzing every cough, every sniffle, every listless eye? And then, when nothing happens, you give a deep sigh of relief before mentally high fiving the universe and shrieking "We made it! WE MADE IT! HALLELUJAHS, HALLELUJAHS!"?

Yeah. Not so much.

I have a drainage sore throat and a double ear infection, all of which started right after Megan's party with friends for her birthday. All of which continued through a weekend of birthday festivities featuring two birthday parties for friends (including one at Chuck E Cheese!). All of which, despite a trip to the doctor, a day of rest and a cycle of meds, is still hanging around.

M has strep. I is under the weather. J is congested and feels yucky.

That high five was a tad premature, methinks.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Caw! Caw!

Remember back when you first found out whether or not it was a boy or a girl? You probably immediately had visions of throwing footballs, going to baseball games and in-your-face-shouting-matches over the car keys (if it was a boy) or ballet recitals, two-for-one pedicures and in-your-face-shouting-matches over knee-length vs. barely-there (if it was a girl).

Me? Not so much. I was an English major in college, an unofficial minor in women's studies and bona fide grrrrrrila girl. When I found out my son was, in fact, a boy, my major hang up was how to make his room as neutral as I could, while still staying in the society-dictated (and daddy-to-be-preferred) blue palette. Enter shades of marine blue, pale blue and green, boats and birds. I stayed away from the football-emblazoned sleepers and wouldn't have bought a onesie that said "Daddy's Li'l Rookie" if you'd paid me to take it out of the store. Every once in a while as he got older I'd succumb to a shirt with a dump truck in his favorite color (orange) on it, but I made sure to balance that out with a pale heathered lavendar shirt that picked out "LOVE" on the front. (For the record: he looked beautiful in both.) Likewise no gender specific toys really, yet move the clock forward to his second birthday - the child knew cars, trucks, buses, boats, planes, trains and the occasional starfighter. Now, at almost 5, he plays Transformers and Star Wars with a furrow of concentration between his eyebrows and a huge grin. It must be in the genes.

So when it came time for baby #2 to make her gender known, I'd already somewhat given up my rigid stance, at least in my subconscious. And Daddy took the reins and ran with them. Her wall colors? Purple and purple. Her bedding set? Shades of purple with flowers and butterflies. Gone was the pretty green, ivory and light red dragonfly set I'd mentioned - this was a room for a tiny princess. Except that she wasn't a princess, dammit (I thought to myself). She was a little girl. MY little girl. A little girl who, as she grew, developed a penchant for talking, telephones, jewelry and all things sparkly, shiny and PINK. This is ironic because, in a conversation in the late-pregnancy days, I remember saying "She won't wear pink. I just won't buy it. She won't know any different. Khaki is good, and blue and green. It'll be fine." This is also ironic because I wear dresses on my anniversary, at weddings and funerals. That's about it. My daughter puts on a dress, looks down at herself, smiles, swishes her hips and says, "pretty!" And she is.

Today's purchases: Skechers Twinkletoes. Hot pink coat with pink and purple plaid lining. Pajamas with castles on them. Put them all together with a pearl bead necklace and suddenly, it's Princess, enter stage right.

Mama, exit stage left and head straight to the dressing room for your steaming plate of crow. Tastes like chicken.

And for the joy on her face, I'd eat every bit and ask for more.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

$1 Movies at Regal Cinemas Manassas

Having two children who were born in Woodbridge, I was a ginormous fan of AMC's Summer Movie Camp. What's not to love? You go the week before, you buy your tickets, you show up day of, no line, you buy popcorn, you sit down, you watch, you laugh, you leave. Excellent.

However, given that AMC decided to cancel their summer program for the 2011 season (sad!) and coupled with the fact that my family and I moved out to Bristow in the spring, I'm now in the market for a new dollar-kids-movie-on-the-weekday venue.

Enter Regal Cinemas Manassas. Remember all that stuff I said earlier about what's to love about AMC? Yep, after reading this you'll be missing it as much as I do - even if you'd never been to an AMC before in your life.

The past Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny. The perfect day for the pool, except we were all a little tired of the pool. Great day, thought Mom, for a movie. Let's go see "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs".

I drove up to the theater at 9:31 and was greeted by the sight of a line of parents, children, and (what I assume to be) various daycare and church groups snaking from the front doors halfway down the building. This did not bode well for my littlest, who at two is not fond of standing still in lines. As it got closer to 10:00, the line moved along and we bought our tickets right around 10:07 (yep, almost 10 minutes after the movie started, and we got there almost half an hour early). After having bought a kid's pack (small drink, small popcorn and bag of fruit snacks, $5.75) and taken a fast restroom break, we made our way into the theater, only to available seats. Not one. Not even that lone, one-third-of-the-way-across-the-fourth-row-from-the-top no-mans-land seat.

Trekked out of the pitch black theater juggling a two year old, four year old and a tray of food, to find a manager. The one I found was having his ear chewed by another mother annoyed that it had taken so long to get through the line that she and her kids had missed the beginning of the movie (can't blame her for that, I was less than ecstatic myself). After she had her say, it was my turn. I suggested to the manager that they allow pre-show ticketing (his response: corporate does not allow this, nor are they allowed to open the doors any earlier than 30 minutes prior to showtime) and then asked what to do about the no-seat-in-our-movie situation. He informed me that theater 9 was showing the same movie and I should go there - please note: there was *no* signage to this effect anywhere.

Cue trekking to the other theater, which was pleasantly not crowded - perhaps because they were showing a movie with a younger target market (VeggieTales: The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything). Luckily I hadn't mentioned that we were supposed to be seeing "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"!

The trip after that was fine. The movie quality was great, the patrons were great, my kids were well-behaved and enthralled by the antics of the VeggieTales crew, and my stress level went down considerably.


Pros: Inexpensive for tickets (can't beat $1 a seat). Movie quality excellent.

Cons: You may not get to see the movie you originally planned on seeing. You may have to stand in line a good long while for tickets (or if -as I do - you have a small, impatient child, partner up and get one partner to stand in line while the other amuses the kids elsewhere until showtime). You may need (or choose) to forgo concession in favor of a seat. (And that's another thing - it's not like you can leave your kids in the theater - if they're small - to go get food, and if you get up to grab some popcorn you'll lose your seat! But I digress.) Pee fast.

Overall review: OK. I love movies, and even though it was a lot of hassle and stress, my kids loved it.