Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmas Town Opens

Kids don’t want to go Black Friday shopping…but they DO want to visit Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and the fun starts this Friday after Thanksgiving.

You will start the holiday season by experiencing the theme park aglow with over 8 million Christmas lights, making it the largest Christmas light display in North America! Christmas Town is also known for its festive food and drinkholiday shopping and heart-warming shows that make the spirit of Christmas come alive.

Many of the park rides and attractions stay open during this Christmas event so that the entire family can have a blast as the park turns on the Christmas magic. Enjoy KIDsiderate areas for the young kids, thrill rides for big kids and the brave and lots of merry entertainment. The brand-new for 2017 InvadR coaster will be open, as will the Sesame Street Forest of Fun and more!

Essential to the Christmas Town experience is a mug of the park’s signature peppermint fudge hot chocolate, as well as catching world-champion figure skater Elvis Stojko bringing the magic of Christmas to life on ice in ‘Twas that Night .

For special character experiences, check out Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland for chances to meet Rudolph, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and Bumble the Abominable Snowman. You can also experience Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer like never before as it comes to life in an all-new, immersive, multi-sensory movie experience. You can  meet Santa Claus in his workshop, drop off with him your Christmas list and take pictures with the jolly old elf.

Want to really experience Christmas Town right? Reserve a special dining experience with Santa or Rudolph and friends!

Christmas Town opens this Friday November 24 and continues on select days through Jan. 1, 2018.  Hours are 2 – 10 p.m. each day.

Get tickets to Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Christmas Town!

Best Black Friday Deals and Holiday 2017 Trends

This morning on Fox 5 DC I had a great time talking about the best Black Friday deals coming at us soon, as well as the top trends for Holiday 2017!

My picks for your Black Friday holiday shopping:

LUX LED Lighting  

I’m obsessed with these gorgeous, high tech and sleek LED lights for the home! From Black Friday through December 26th, LUX LED Lighting is offering 30 percent off with promo code LUXLIGHTS. Even better, with each purchase LUX LED Lighting will donate one solar light through Unite To Light which brings light to people around the world without access to electricity, or affected by natural disasters like the recent hurricanes in Puerto Rico

Unite To Light provides portable, solar-powered lamps to communities without electricity. Whether from disaster, lack of infrastructure, or inability to pay, the organization aims to bring light to those who would otherwise live in darkness.

The LUX Toronto LED Task Lamp has 360-degree flexibility, soft-touch silicone overmold and three touch-activated brightness levels. It conveniently has two USB charging ports on either side of its minimalist base to charge your devices while providing warn LED light that’s easy on the eyes. It comes in two finishes, white and black and is built to last. 

The LUX Brooklyn LED Desk Lamp’s curves and modernist lines will make your home shine. It has great functionality with two universal AC sockets, two USB ports and a device shelf perfect for your phone. The linen shade is awesome quality and and so elegant with either the brushed aluminum or black slate finishes. I love the touch-activated brightness levels.

The LUX Brooklyn USB LED Task Lamp also has two USB charging ports, three touch activated brightness options, and an integrated device shelf. Its understated modern design make the Brooklyn USB an efficient option when desk space is limited.

Purchase them all in the LUX LED store at https://store.luxledlights.com and don’t forget to use promo code LUXLIGHTS 11/24/17 – 12/26/17. 

Swann Smart Security Camera

The Swann Smart Security Camera is a top holiday gift for 2017 and is completely wire-free, with a wireless connection to a Wifi router totally rechargeable — no cables, rechargeable internal battery via USB! Unlike competitors, the Smart Security Camera has an internal rechargeable battery so it does not need a hub or home charging base whereas most others can only charge up to 4 cameras on a hub.

It features True DetectTM Heat-Sensing Technology for more reliable motion detection. The device syncs with the Safe by Swann app providing surveillance from anywhere and sends push notifications to your phone to alert you. The footage is stored using internal memory and on the cloud.

It has a Weatherproof IP65 rating for indoor and outdoor use, rain or shine. It records in 1080p Full HD day or night with powerful night vision at a 120-degree angle. 

Black Friday deal: Get the Swann Smart Security Camera for $30 off at $119 (normally $149) for the Black Friday deal. This deal will be live from Thanksgiving Day 11/23/17 through Wednesday 11/29/17.

Little Black Pant with Fitlogic

Find your perfect black pant! First pick your size, then add your shape, because within every woman’s size are different body types, curves and lengths.  Usually the Little Black Pant styles are $99.95 but for Black Friday just $39.99, and you can get a second pair for just $44.95! This is possible only on Black Friday with promo code LBP-WTTG at LittleBlackPant.com

Mayka Toy Block Tape

The original Mayka Toy Block Tape instantly transforms virtually any surface into a base for toy building blocks, figures and accessories. This LEGO- and other building block brand-compatible block tape transforms any surface, window or wall into a building surface.

It’s so great for creativity and a super stocking stuffer! It comes three sizes and nine colors. Learn more and shop at MaykaWorld.com.

ZURU Fidget Cube

The coolest trend in fidget products for kids (and adults!), the original Fidget Cube designed by Antsy Labs is an unusually addictive, high-quality fidget toy designed to help you focus. Backed by over 154,926 people on Kickstarter, the Fidget Cube is the ultimate toy for fidgetters of all ages. Enjoy this year’s top trending toy and fidget that stress or anxiety away. Specifically designed for restless hands, the six unique sides fulfill all your fidgeting needs. Glide, flip, roll and click you way into focus!

Made with high-quality plastic, the original Fidget Cube by Antsy Labs is strong, durable and safe for kids and adults alike. Beware of fakes and copies. Great gift idea for friends or family who can’t keep their fingers still. Available in 8 colors and with accessories!

Available at Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, CVS, Amazon, and other retailers. Learn more at http://www.zurufidget.com


The must-get toy for holiday 2017 are Shnooks! They magically grow EIGHT times in size from their unique shnubble-bubble pack! Kids will have a blast popping the bubbles, shaking them up and bringing their new best friends to life! Style their hair, love them and they’ll SHNOOK after you! These cuddly Shnooks come with a comb, friendship hair-clip and more surprise accessories. There are six unique Schnooks available starting December 1st exclusively at Walmart. Get them before they are gone! 

What are YOU going to grab on Black Friday? 

Teen Bedroom Upgrade: New Full Size Mattress from Tomorrow Sleep

Here’s a bad mom confession: Charlie turns 14 next month, but was still sleeping in the IKEA twin bed we purchased him when he was three. The mattress sagged and Charlie’s adult sized legs and feet hung over the end.

Parenting fail!

And the thing that this teenager craves most in the world after days spent at school and sports? Happy sleep.

So when Tomorrow Sleep contacted us about reviewing some of their holistic sleep system products, we were all in. Designed to improve lives through sleep science, Tomorrow Sleep offers an array of sleep system products to help people get a better night’s sleep.

From our research, Tomorrow Sleep provides one of the best hybrid mattresses out there. Their memory foam hybrid mattress is designed to adjust to the sleeper’s body temperature and provide support.

The hybrid construction, available in either medium soft or medium firm, combines cooling high-density memory foam with a breathable, supportive coil system that allows the sleeper’s body temperature to drop the two degrees necessary to enter a state of optimal sleep.

But all of that sleep science information was second to the feedback Charlie provided us, “BEST SLEEP EVER! I am so comfortable!”

Parenting win!

We chose for Charlie the Tomorrow Sleep hybrid mattress in medium firm in the full size for his growing teen body.

Want to get $150 off any $500 purchase of your own Tomorrow Sleep products? Use code SS150 when you shop TomorrowSleep.com (Expires 12/31/17.)


Orchestra: High Quality, Low Price Fashion for Kids (And 10 Winner Giveaway!)

Orchestra, the fab French discount store for kids’ clothes, is now in the U.S. and the clothes are GREAT!

We just discovered Orchestra and have fallen hard for Orchestra’s affordable, high-quality clothing for kids. They are so stylish and reasonably priced, and the styles are on-trend but do not look exactly like what every other kid is wearing! The French store has launched their online shopping site for American kids, as well as a brick-and-mortar store at King of Prussia mall in Philadelphia.

The clothing for boys and girls comes in sizes infant through 14. The pricing is especially amazing if you join Club Orchestra for 25 percent off all clothing for just $10 per year! All items on the Orchestra site are listed with two prices, regular and Club, and you can see how you will earn back your $10 in no time. Additionally, shipping is free on orders of $50 or more for Club Members.

Eve and Alice had a wonderful time choosing some casual styles to wear for school as the temperatures drop and the summer shorts are put away. I immediately saw the value in the Club Membership and added that membership to our online cart while shopping and thus snagged Club pricing on everything they chose.

The first favorites Eve and Alice found on Orchestra were girls’ jeans with embroidery and fun patches, paired with long sleeved t-shirts.

On Alice: long sleeve tee with cat print $5.25, slim jeans with sparkly belt and embroidered badges $19.46. On Eve: junior tee with 3/4 sleeves and pompoms $11.96, junior slim fit jeans with badges $18.71.

My girls also selected some comfy and versatile leggings, and each paired them with tunics on top. They both raved about how cozy these outfits were, and I appreciate how the leggings have kept their color and shape with no pilling after several wearings and washes.

On Eve: junior tunic with Aztec motif $14.21, plain ribbed leggings $8.21. On Alice: crepe tunic with oversized checks $17.21, plain ribbed leggings $8.21.

My girls also enjoyed choosing cute cotton socks, tights and underwear from Orchestra. There are adorable patterns and favorite characters, as well as neutrals. I loved how low the prices were on these everyday basics — lower than I have found at my local big box stores or Amazon!

The patterned jeans were a huge hit with the gals, too. They both wear jeans to school nearly every day but are very particular: their denim must have stretch and be soft. The Orchestra patterned jeans fit the bill and look so cool and original compared to what jeans we see for girls in most stores.

On Alice: long-sleeved tee with polka dots and flowers $8.96, printed slim jeans $14.96. On Eve: junior long-sleeved striped tee-shirt with lace pocket $8.96, junior printed slim jean $16.46.

I cannot recommend more highly Orchestra as your awesome new destination for kids’ clothing. The quality is crazy high, while the prices are super low.

Exciting Giveaway: 10 Free One Year Club Memberships to Orchestra!

The first 10 readers who grab them will get a free one year club membership to Orchestra. That means every time they shop on the site, they will instantly receive a 25% discount.  Just add the Club card to your basket, enter code SilverSpringClub and the price for the Club will drop automatically from $10 to $0. 

There are only 10 so act fast! 

We were provided with a shopping credit for review. No additional or monetary compensation received. All opinions are my own. 

Turkeypalooza at the Theater at Arts Barn


Turkeypalooza at the Theater at Arts Barn

Let your imagination run wild as an ordinary house turns into an exciting Thanksgiving adventure on November 24, 2017.

Known for athleticism and comedy, VF Dance Theater presents an interactive story that encourages children to count, read, move, and problem solve. Great for the entire family; recommended for ages 3 and up.

November 24, 2017
11 AM Performance – Purchase Tickets Online
2:30 PM Performance – Purchase Tickets Online

Theater at the Arts Barn
311 Kent Square Road
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878-5727


Best Movies Based in DC (and their Iconic Locations)

I still get excited when my adopted hometown of Washington, DC is featured in a movie. My heart sings when I watch real live on-location shots in DC, as well as films set in DC and faithfully represented (though possibly shot elsewhere).

I especially love catching a glimpse of some of my favorite Washington addresses on film, such as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, East Capitol St NE & First St SE, 2 Lincoln Memorial Circle and more. Addressy, the address verification service for websites, feels the same way and this post is written in partnership with them.

Here are 10 of my favorites, in order.

10. Minority Report at the Reagan Building and International Trade Center: The location for the future’s DC police department’s “Office of Pre-Crime” is this impressive building where we all may have attended a Washington gala or work conference.

9. Enemy of the State at Dupont Circle: Car and bike chases and espionage all center around the Circle, the Dupont/Q Street underpass and surrounding businesses. If you know this neighborhood well you can piece together how some portions of the on-location chase scene sequences are impossible and switch between the Adams Morgan and Dupont neighborhoods.

8. The Exorcist at the Georgetown stairs: These truly are scary steps, whether you are taking them at night as a Georgetown campus shortcut as a summer student (that was me, happily terrified) or running them today while trying to get a good cardiovascular workout (this is not me with much frequency).

7. The American President at The White House (well, a set, really): Although White House sets abound in Hollywood, this Rob Reiner film is known for its particular attention to detail, recreating the interiors of the White House as it looked in 1995. In fact, the sets were again used on The West Wing.

6. Forrest Gump in the Reflecting Pool: Although Forrest has several DC moments, with several “Presidents” via CGI, who can forget Jenny and Forrest’s Reflecting Pool reunion?

5. In the Line of Fire at the Lincoln Memorial: Sitting on the steps of the Lincoln is one of the best places to have a conversation and people watch, even if you are with Eastwood’s pompous, sexist Secret Service agent.

4. St. Elmo’s Fire at The Tombs: Another studio set, but the interiors of the movie’s St. Elmo’s bar are based on — and the inspiration for the film is —
The Tombs. This still-rocking Georgetown bar is located right next to the Exorcist steps, in case you’d like to hit two locations at once.

3. All the President’s Men at The Watergate complex and George Washington University: The film was shot on-site at both the famed office building and the dorms of the university, which stood in for the Howard Johnson Watergate lookout spot. However, The Washington Post newsroom featured on film was a set.

2. Broadcast News at the Jefferson Memorial: The hard news purist producer and the pretty boy anchor famously share a moment outside the Jefferson Memorial, but I adore the entire film for its numerous 1980’s DC settings.

1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington at Union Station and the United States Capitol: No other film expresses a small town kid’s love for DC as keenly as this Capra classic, and I love the scene when Smith spots the Capitol dome from within Union Station with awe. I felt that way seeing it each day when I got off the Red Line at Union Station to walk to my first job in DC, and I still feel it now.

Concussions Are Treatable (So Is Parental Concussion Anxiety) #ReThinkConcussions

This is a sponsored post in partnership with The Motherhood on behalf of UPMC.

The first time I worried that one of my children had a concussion was way back in 2004 when my first toddler (not a UPMC patient) took his very first tumble on the stairs. Every year since, as my three kids have lived their healthy, free lives full of falls, spills, sports, swings, surf and more excitement, the concussion concern has been present. It gnaws at the back of my brain during every basketball game, backstroke heat and mountain bike adventure, even as I cheer my kids on.

Concussion is a fear-loaded word that keeps us parents anxious. But admittedly, I have not always been 100 percent clear on exactly what is a concussion. I had “concussion anxiety”, but not all the facts.

UPMC is working to help parents learn about concussions and concussion treatment through their ReThink Concussions resources. They are working to educate parents, athletes, coaches, and healthcare professionals about the signs and symptoms of concussion and the best approach for treatment. They believe that if we are equipped with the right knowledge and understanding of this complex injury, we can help athletes find the right treatment and ultimately get them back in the game.

UPMC points out that no two concussions are alike; they are complex injuries that present with various symptoms. Every individual will experience concussion differently, and that is why customized treatments are essential.

Another important item I learned from UPMC’s ReThink Concussion resources is that concussions are treatable, and with the correct treatment, patients make full recoveries. This story of a young soccer player’s treatment and recovery, and her father’s process as a parent, resonated with me.

I am bookmarking the ReThinkConcussion page and sending it to my fellow parents. This information and these resources are essential this fall sports season and onward.

“Shel” We Dance: Kids Ballet at Arts Barn November 4

Shel We Dance

“Shel” We Dance at Gaithersburg Arts Barn

The whimsical poems of Shel Silverstein come to life through dance on November 4, 2017.

This ballet is inspired by the works of Shel Silverstein and is a perfect day at the ballet for children. Presented by Metropolitan Ballet Ensemble, the poems of Shel Silverstein are happily, crazily and engagingly interpreted through dance. Meet the performers and enjoy snacks and a craft activity afterwards. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

November 4, 2017 • 11 AM
Purchase Tickets Online

Theater at the Arts Barn
311 Kent Square Road
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878-5727

Visit the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Jamestown Settlement

If you are looking for an affordable but incredibly exciting walk through history, I have just the drivable trip for you. Head to the Yorktown’s American Revolution Museum and Jamestown Settlement in America’s Historic Triangle in Williamsburg, Virginia. Both of these destinations will make bring American history to life in a modern, engaging way for your family.

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation recently invited my family and I to take in the Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and we were blown away by a weekend of excitement and learning – two concepts that together are the Holy Grail of parenting!

I heartily recommend the purchase of the Jamestown and Yorktown Four Site Value Ticket for the perfect two-day experience of these incredible areas. With this ticket you gain access to two premier living-history museums – Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown – and two National Park sites – Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield. We spent Saturday exploring both Yorktown sites, and then Sunday focused on the Jamestown destinations. Our itinerary was enjoyable for all five members of our family, from the first grader, to the middle schoolers and up through the forty-something parents.

The Brand New American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Newly opened this spring, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is the result of the museum’s 10 year transformation from its previous incarnation, the Yorktown Victory Center. I remember the older version and was blown away by the new. The museum now presents a state of the art gallery with interactive displays, a “4D” experiential theater, expansive artifacts, films and living history areas.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown covers the story of the nation’s founding, from the beginning of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond. Of course, special note is given to the Battle of Yorktown, where in the fall of 1781 General George Washington, with allied American and French forces, besieged General Charles Lord Cornwallis’s British army. In an unprecedented move, Cornwallis surrendered, effectively ending the war and ensuring independence.

The experiential, 180-degree theatre showed the “4D” film, The Siege of Yorktown, which transported us to the battlefield of the 1781 victory. The massive, curved screen and dramatic special effects truly brought this historic battle to life for the family. I do not want to spoil some of the effects that surprised us, so take my word for it and do not skip the film!

Outdoor Living History: Yorktown Continental Army Encampment and Revolution Era Farm

Outside the impressive new galleries are the living history areas which are packed with “back in time” adventure for kids. In the Continental Army Encampment visitors can explore soldiers’ tents, try on military coats, and join in periodic wooden-musket drills. Spring through fall, visitors also may be recruited to join an artillery crew to learn the steps to prepare a battalion gun or mortar for firing.  Historical interpreters present daily flintlock musket demonstrations in the encampment.

The encampment represents a portion of an American regiment and includes soldiers’ tents and quarters for officers, a surgeon and the quartermaster, an earthen “kitchen,” and an area where the women who followed the army – usually family or spouses of the soldiers – performed the needed domestic duties for wages.

The onsite Revolution Era Farm, with colonial history interpreters, offers a unique opportunity to witness a typical rural lifestyle at the time of the Revolution. The setting includes a dwelling, separate kitchen and tobacco barn.

We visited on the 236th anniversary of this decisive Revolutionary War victory, and there were artillery demonstrations, Yorktown re-enactors and the Fifes and Drums of York Town performed. Such celebrations and special programs are a frequent occurrence and you can see upcoming events on the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation events page.

Yorktown Battlefield 

Our tickets included entrance to the Yorktown Battlefield, a National Park located just a short drive from the American Revolution Museum. It was fascinating to walk this battlefield that has been remastered to reflect its state during this last major battle of the Revolutionary War.

Jamestown Settlement 

The Jamestown Settlement museum focuses upon 17th century Virginia history, from the time of the first settlers until this early capital of Virginia was moved to Williamsburg. This interactive gallery is instructional and provided a realistic, non-glorifying perspective of this period.

There are various rooms, all grouped by time period, showcasing the changes in this area of Virginia as English settlement increased, beginning with its Old World European origins throughout the first century of English colonialists. The museum explores not only the English settlers’ lives, but those of the Powhatan Native Americans and the West and Central African slaves brought to this land against their will.

There is a touch-screen feature that allows you to compare and contrast each culture living in Jamestown during the 1600’s. It was essential to me as a mother that these historic facts were presented, as I remember in my own upbringing and history lessons those multicultural perspectives were often left out and glossed over.

Jamestown Settlement Ships

My family and I enjoy boarding the three moored Jamestown Settlement Ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery. These ships are sea-worthy re-creations of the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607.

James Fort

The kids especially loved running around James Fort, the recreation of the 1610-era Virginia Company of London military outpost. Inside the fort are buildings to explore, such as dwellings, an Anglican church, a court of guard, a storehouse, a cape merchant’s office and a governor’s house. Historical interpreters were posted throughout the exhibits providing interactive learning and experiences.

Powhatan Indian Village

The re-created Powhatan Indian Village is based on archaeological findings at a site once inhabited by Paspahegh Indians, the Powhatan tribal group closest to Jamestown, and descriptions recorded by English colonists. It was intriguing and so fun to explore the Native American homes.

Historic Jamestowne National Park 

Our tickets included entrance to Historic Jamestowne National Park, the actual site of the settlement. While there we Park Ranger guided tour, taking in the outdoor archaeology and structures and retracing the steps of Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, the settlers and first slaves.

My advice? Open your calendar now and find a free weekend to spend in Jamestown and Yorktown!

Want to get into the Yorktown and Jamestown spirit right now? Take the How Revolutionary Are You? quiz at HistoryIsFun.org!

Thank you to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation for inviting my family and I to visit for a weekend and hosting our stay, tickets and lunches. No monetary compensation received. All opinions are mine. 

Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets More Than Pink Discount Card

Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets’ More Than Pink discount card gives us the chance to shop, support and save … all while donating to the fight against breast cancer. Get yours before October 31!

I just visited Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets to shop for essentials for my family and get an early start on holiday gifts. While there I saved BIG and also made a donation to the mission to end breast cancer.

I went to guest services and made a $10 donation to Susan G. Komen, and in turn I received an exclusive 25 percent off discount card for use at participating Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets stores. You can also make your donation and receive your More Than Pink discount card online ahead of your visit, on-site at guest services, or at the Jockey, Movado Company Store and UGG Australia locations.

The More Than Pink discount card provides a donation you will feel great about, with 100 percent of your donation going directly to Susan G. Komen. Simon, the parent company of Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets, has guaranteed a minimum of one million dollars donated through the Be More Than Pink cards, and Simon is working to raise as much as possible.

And just that $10 donation will help you save big in your shopping … you will earn it back in no time! The card gives you 25 percent off one item of your choice at stores like Vineyard Vines, kate spade new york, Michael Kors, Aéropostale, adidas and so many more.

I was able to purchase an incredible item at kate spade new york for my mother for Christmas — already marked down to 60 percent off – for an additional 25 percent off. The total savings was unreal. (I would post a photo of it but she reads here!)

At Vineyard Vines a kind young sales associate helped me select items for my son Charlie to wear this fall and holiday season, providing advice on sizing and style. I picked up the exact same styles I saw in the current catalog at 30-50 percent markdown, and again, I saved an additional 25 percent off on the highest priced item using my More Than Pink discount card.

I found additional gifts for my family at Michael Kors and adidas, and using my discount card I saved that big 25 percent off the most expensive item, in addition to other markdowns. Every time I used my More Than Pink card, the sales associates remarked about how this was such a great program and that both breast cancer advocates and couponers were enthusiastic about the deal.

By just making a small $10 donation, I saved so much more. It was like getting cash back. Most essentially, I helped contribute to an important cause. I recommend that you definitely take part in the More Than Pink discount program at Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets before it ends on October 31st!

This post was written in partnership with Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets, A Simon Center. All opinions are my own.