Monday, February 22, 2010

Are You A Fan?


Thanks to all of you who regularly read this blog!! 

Recently, I have been dealing with several issues in my family:  a husband injured during the Snowmagedon and Blizzard who is undergoing treatment for torn tendons; 2 kids with variations of some "bug" that's going around; and a dog - who we thought had a spinal disease and was going to be put to sleep... but it turns out it may be just a slipped disc.  In any case, you can imagine my life has been crazy and keeping up with blogging about local issues has been slowed.

I want to remind you, though, that you can keep up with local issues by becoming a "Fan" of our Leesburg, VA page on Facebook.  Just CLICK HERE

Use this as a community bulletin board... we focus heavily on Leesburg issues, but as the county seat, and part of the DC Metro area, we welcome postings about important regional events and issues. 

I will get back to posting a few times a week as soon as I can.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now!!


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

Today is "Do Random Acts of Kindness" Day.

Betcha didn't know that, and I promise I am not making it up.  It's kind of like the "Pay It Forward" concept.

Have you ever been so happy you simply desired to make everyone you saw happy?  I have had this experience.  It's amazing what happens when you ....

*  Bring your babysitter a dozen roses for no reason in particular. 
*  Pass out single roses to people you've never met before.  I did this once at every stop light on the way home.  I would jump out of my car and run to as many other cars as I could while we were stopped and give them a rose.  The looks were hysterical.  GREAT FUN!
*  Pay for gas, drycleaning, or drive through order for someone you've never met before... just because you happen to be at the same place at the same time.

I have done all of these things.... and it does really make you feel so amazing.  TRY IT.  Do it "your style".  I encourage you to do the kind things for people you DON'T know - the confusion is hysterical.  People simply can not believe that there is anyone who would do something nice for no reason at all

When you do something unexpected for someone you do know, it is still wonderful, but is more of an investment in your relationship.  When you do things for people you've never met before, it truly affects their day in a way that is much greater than if the SAME THING was done for them by someone they do know.  Attach no contact information, take nothing more than a smile or wave as a thank you.

DO NOT USE THIS as a marketing effort. 

Just do something nice to do something nice, and do it today.  It is a day where you can TRULY receive the gift of giving.  It may be you've never truly experienced this before... isn't it time?



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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are You Pitching In?

Remember when you could just throw away trash? 

In the "old days" sometimes it seemed like a burden just to throw it in a trash can, rather than pitching it out your car window driving down the road.  Then one day we all looked around and realized what we'd be doing... so we started taking our trash to the dump.  Remember the slogans like "Don't be a litter bug" and "Pitch In"?  Well, hopefully they are memories and not current efforts in your life, because society has moved on.  We moved on because...

Then, we started looking at the dumps... EWWW... we were making WAY more trash than the earth could eat.  And, we thought "there's gotta be a better way".

Well I am working on being green - sometimes I am greener than other times, I admit it.  But I work hard everyday to be a little better.  And, I am conscientious of not being wasteful, that these are lean times and that if I have something that is of value, I want to make sure it goes to the place where it can be of the greatest value.

Just tonight as I was searching through my trash I thought "I am so sick of this... you can't even just throw away your trash anymore..." and thus this post.  But it is worth it.


We tear off the pop tops to soup cans and soda cans (and sometimes rip off my nails doing it), to save to take for a collection at the daycare.  They send it to a company that uses the money from recylcing them to buy wheelchairs and assistive devices for children who need them.  There's another well known option of donating them to a charity that pays for chemo for cancer patients.  Both are very worth while; and both are worth ripping my fingernails since I don't seem to have enough cash to donate to them.. and even if I did, why throw away something of value to someone else?

And then I sort.  I sort the things that can go to curbside recycling - luckily that is about 60-75% of our trash each week (and by the way, that doesn't need to be sorted by paper/plastic/etc). 

Then, I pull out things like hangers and plastic store bags which must go to special places to be recycled (drycleaners and grocery stores usually have special bins for these). 

Oh, and then there's the JUNK.  You know junk?  It used to be good, but now it's just junk - to you, but not to everyone, so I take that stuff to my friend to sell on Ebay, and we usually donate any proceeds to a charity of our choice.

What I am left with is the gross, useless, value-less, disgusting, 'only my dog would appreciate this stuff' kind of trash, like disposable diapers and used kitty litter.  Yuk.  THAT stuff still goes in the regular trash - to the regular dump.  Sorry, Earth, Sorry Mankind... but it's only about 20-25% of my trash, and we do keep it to a minimum.

So, all this... it's work.  It is.  But it takes me less time than it does to shower each day, and in the grand scheme of things, me showering is less important (actually more harmful, truth be told) to the earth than finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.   (Sorry people, some sacrifices I am not willing to make - and I am NOT giving up my daily showers, it's the only thing that makes me feel human some days.)

If you're not already Pitching In, and participating in our collective efforts to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, it's time you started.  It's easier than you'd think....and it's worth it.

Please, just try it... it's not that bad.  Promise. Thanks!
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LoCo to Host Meetings On Express Bus Service to Tysons


Loudoun County will hold two public input sessions on the Express Bus Service to Tysons; one in Ashburn on February 16th (today) and another in Leesburg on February 23rd. 

Please see this link for more details: http://www.loudoun.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=2996



This announcement brought to you by your local real estate expert:
Vicky Chrisner, Keller Williams Realty.  http://www.vickychrisner.com/

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Are You Getting Played? Limestone Overlay District Vote!

The Dulles Association of REALTORS wants you to know about the upcoming vote regarding the Limestone Overlay District!!

This is copied straight from their web site:

Contact the Supervisors and say "No" to the
Limestone Overlay District!


To address a perceived problem concerning limestone sensitive features, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (LCBOS) is expected to vote on a proposed ordinance imposing unnecessary restrictions on property owners living within the so-called Limestone Overlay District on Wednesday, February 17th, 2010. If the LCBOS votes to adopt the LOD, property and home owners within the 14,000-acre district are likely to see their property values take a hit. And if they want to sell the description of their property on all land and tax records will include a unique warning-style notice which may further depress values.

How serious is the limestone problem? Not very. Leesburg is built on top of limestone. So is the new high school on Route 15. And County Planning Commissioners have provided no examples of structural problems as a result of underlying geology anywhere in the LOD. Not one.
The over-reaching, burdensome and potentially unconstitutional LOD proposal is really an anti-development initiative disguised as a public health and safety issue. And homeowners in the LOD are the big losers. Don't get played. Contact the LCBOS and say "No" to the Limestone Overlay District.

Affected property owners in the LOD concerned with the restrictions and potential stigma on their property are encouraged to voice their concerns by emailing the LCBOS at bos@loudoun.gov or calling 703/777-0204.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LIMESTONE OVERLAY DISTRICT

TAKE ACTION - This will take only moments of your time to tell the Supervisors what you think!  Just CLICK HERE

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As always, your local state and national REALTOR associations are working to protect your interests as property owners and fellow citizens.  I'd like to be your personal link to these associations.  Just email me and ask that I add you to my "notify" database when there are important issues that might be affecting YOU.

703-669-3142

For more information on Living In Loudoun County, stay tuned to http://www.livinginloco.blogspot.com/!



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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wine for the Red - Support the Lo Co Red Cross!

The Wine Kitchen would like you to MARK YOUR CALENDAR! 
You are invited to the following community event! 


"Wine for the Red"

The American Red Cross
Loudoun County Chapter
93rd Anniversary Fundraiser

Monday, March 8, 2010
5:30pm - 8:30pm

The Wine Kitchen
7 South King Street
Leesburg, VA



The American Red Cross, Loudoun County Chapter to host "Wine for the Red", Celebrating 93 years of service in Loudoun County!


Invitation from The Wine Kitchen in Downtown Leesburg:

Friends please join us for a fun get together and to show your support on Monday, March 8th from 5:30pm-8:30pm at The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg. Tickets are $25. in advance, $30. at the door, to purchase call 703-777-7171, space is limited...

The event proceeds go the essential and much needed funds to provide disaster relief such as shelter, food, medical and mental health services to local families and friends in need. Thank you for helping us help others.

A great time for a great cause!
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Sledding at Meadow Hill

I am going to share a local secret with you...

There's a little hill a few blocks southwest of downtown Leesburg, located on what's left of a farm - a GREAT SLEDDING HILL! 

And there is a lovely little sign that reads:



  
"The Meadow Hill
Private Property. 
The children of Leesburg may use this hill, if...
RULES:
1-Sled at your own risk.
2-Small children must be attended.
3-Don't bother the livestock.
4-A wood fire only.  Do not burn tires."

The rules seemed reasonable to me... so my kids, my neighbors and I greatly enjoy free use of this hill.  The hill is surrounded by townhomes, and a few small single family homes with very little yard of their own.  None of those homes have any space of their own to sled, so the hill offers a special kind of wintertime fun to the neighborhood children.

Although my home is on the opposite side of the farm, and we "could" sled in our our yard, this is way more fun.  There are more friends to play with, and the snow is well packed by the time we get there, which makes sledding awesome! 

The younger children enjoy the sledding.  The older kids tell mom and dad they are watching their baby brothers and sisters....but they are really there to flirt.  Younger siblings don't much like this, and I have witnessed more than a few snowball fights as a result. 

Oh, to be a kid again!

My family missed the bonfire "they" had the other night (I don't even know who "they" are, since it seems permission to burn a fire is granted widely).  Although I am not sure if burning an open fire inside the Town of Leesburg is legal, I'd have risked it; and I bet we would have had a great deal of fun.  Hopefully, we'll catch the next one.

I'd like to thank the Cook Family for "lending" us the use of 
Meadow Hill! 

It's become a wonderful addition to our community ammenities!


Looking for more things to keep kids occupied on snow days?  Check out some of these posts:


And stay tuned to LivingInLoCo.Blogspot.com to learn more about
And don't forget to check out my real estate web sites for your real estate needs:


(Washington DC Metro Area, including Fairfax and Loudoun County)
Note:  The personalized report will be automatically emailed to you within minutes of your request.



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Furry and Feathered Friends In The Snow

You're probably sick of thinking about and talking about the snow here in Loudoun.  Me, too. 

But I saw this movie clip on a Facebook page recently:


........And I wanted to remind you to think of our furry and feathered friends.  You think YOUR house took a beating in the winter storms?  Imagine theirs. 

And, those not in hibernation didn't even get to go to the grocery store to stock up on their favorite treats before the storm(s) hit.  So, throw them a few crumbs, will ya? 

When the storm began, my kids and I prepared bird and squirrel feeders.   It's a fun and easy project, and will keep your kids occupied this weekend or on Monday.  No kids for cheap labor?  No worries, you can call me and I can drop off a few (kids) at your house.... or you could just throw some bird seed, nuts, bread crumbs and corn outside - that assortment should satisfy most of the critters you won't mind seeing outside your back door..... and I know our furry and feathered friends would sure appreciate it! 


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If you are looking on information on Loudoun County Public Schools, the Snowmagedon in Loudoun/Dulles area, ideas for things to do on Snow Days, or other info on living in Loudoun County, stay tuned to this blog!  Area information can also be found on my real estate web site, where there is also a HOME SEARCH tool to find houses for sale, or run an automated 'Market Snapshot' to see what what homes in your neighborhood sales.

Vicky Chrisner * REALTOR
Keller Williams Realty * Leesburg, VA
703-669-3142

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Snowmagedon - The Aftermath

Snowmagedon 2010 has come and gone in the form of 2 blizzards (or near blizzards) within days of one another. 

Here in Leesburg, we've gotten almost 60 inches of snow in 4 weather "events" in an 11 day stretch. 

Say it with me: "snOMG"!

* * * * *
All around us....



Trees have fallen....

Driveways and sidewalks remain untouched.....

Icicles are pulling on gutters, while the weight of the snow pushes down from above.....and gutters are falling (or will)....

Roofs and windows that haven't been cleared are collapsing and leaking....
and so are basements (or they will be soon)....






Have no fear, LoCo!  This, too, shall pass.  If you're in need of a licensed, insured contractor to help with these types of storm damage issues or others, I have a recommendation for you.....


William Beach
Beach Carpentry and Contracting
Leesburg, VA
Home Office: 703-443-8946
Cell Phone: 703-898-2789





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Looking for other information on the Snowmagedon in the Loudoun Area?  Check out these posts:
Snowmagedon:  Important Safety Tips
Snowmagedon In the DC Metro Area
LCPS and the Snowmagedon
and stay tuned for even MORE information!



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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jumping Jacks Sports - Snow Day Camps and MORE!

With all the recent snow, cabin fever is setting in throughout Loudoun, with school canceled for 6 days in a row due to weather... then add weekends and previously scheduled days off, and the kids just aren't going to school these days at all! 

In our house, we've done some common and uncommon outdoor and indoor 'snow day activities'; we've done 'kid friendly recipes for snow days'.  At some point, these kids need a change of scenery and people with whom they can interact.  But, school is closed.  Daycare is closed.  Many businesses are closed. It's cold outside, and yet they need to burn off some serious energy. 


My cure for cabin fever this bad?  I take them somewhere that they are encouraged to climb the walls:  Jumping Jack Sports! They plan 'impromptu' snow day camps most days that school is canceled. They offer half day or whole day camps, and popin playtimes on snow days!  Check their web site for information on these camps, since they are often planned very 'last minute' after school closing decisions have been made.

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What is Jumping Jack Sports? 

A kids gym.  Unlike others we have in the area, this one is run by a mom, and I can tell.  Jumping Jacks is targeted toward a wide age range of children and their families. 

In the main gym, you'll find an inflatibles obstacle course, and a large moon bounce with basketball hoop inside.  There are gymnastics mats, a climbing wall and all kinds of fun toys - like hula hoops, scooters, inflatible horses, etc. Upstairs is an XRKade filled with active, virtual reality type games like boxing, bicycling, skateboarding and more.  The XRKade is particularly popular with older kids.

This is a special place, run by a true mom and business woman who believes that fitness is supposed to be fun, and having fun is not just for little kids.  So, Jumping Jacks offers much more than it's competition.

Yes, birthday party packages are available and there is a nice private party room available for serving refreshments.  But, because of the variety of features, even adults will enjoy this kind of an adventure, and JJS offers team building corporate events, too.

Yes, there are classes, but it's not just for the little ones, the age range is 2 to 12 for the various classes.
There are day camps for summer and school holidays. This has saved me more than once, and unlike a drop in daycare option or babysitter, my kids get very excited when they end up spending the day at Jumping Jacks, so there's no fussing, whining or crying, and it prevents or cures cabin fever.  If your kids are there for the whole day, they have arts and crafts and non-gym activities planned, too... but the real draw IS the open play, space, and options to do the high energy stuff that gets them into trouble at home.

JJS also offers Family Challenge Nights. They have events and races planned based on expected attendance and age groups, and they even serve dinner.  You race and play (REALLY play) with your kids of all ages and it is truly great fun. It's a much better alternative to watching a movie and ordering pizza at home - better for you, and way more exciting!  You will get your heart rate up, probably break out into a sweat and work off stress and calories while having a great time with your family.... but nothing about it will feel like a work out. Isn't that what we all need in our lives?





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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How Many Snow Days Does Loudoun County Have?


I have gotten the question a lot lately:  How many snow days does Loudoun County have in their school calendar?    It does seem like they are taking an awful lot of days off.  As a mom who gets stuck at home with the little ones quite often when there's a snow day, I feel your pain!

The answer is 15; LCPS has 15 days built into their calendar.  Therefore they will not have to alter their schedule or change graduation dates based on weather closings.    The LCPS system has had this schedule in place since 1990.

They have this many snow days, not because they are actually scheduled for 15 more days than is required, but because of the length of the school days.  So, they accumulate enough 'hours' to allow them to take 15 snow days.  I don't know that Loudoun has ever used that many snow days in a year. 

For the 2009-2010 school year, AFTER missing the entire week of February 8th through 12th because of weather closings, they will have used 10 snow days, I believe.  Even if the county extends beyond the 15 snow days that are built in, under current regulations there would be no requirements for those additional days to be 'made up'.
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Thanks for this question... and please don't hesitate to contact me regarding your LoCo questions. 
I am happy to help!

For other posts on LCPS, check out:


As a fellow mom who is also working to dig up ideas on how to keep my kids occupied without driving me crazy on snow days, I have created several recent posts on creative kid friendly recipes and family activities for snow days, as well as important safety tips and more - so check out the blog.  It's here for you, and so am I.  Let me know what other LoCo info you need.


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Vicky Chrisner
703-669-3142
vchrisner@kw.com

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Snowmagedon Continues! Important Safety Tips

If you're living in this Loudoun/Dulles or the surrounding area this is not news to you.... We JUST had 34.5 inches of snow, and 2 snowfalls within the previous week totaling about 10 inches of snow, and now we're expecting another 5-9 inches beginning tomorrow.

Because our area rarely experiences this kind of snow (well, this is actually the snowiest on record), we simply aren't equipped.  So, be patient.  Life will return to 'normal'.  For now, relax and enjoy.

Streets:   VDOT is calling in reinforcements from areas nearby that have completed their own snow removal because they didn't get the 'dump' that we received.  (FYI - the Town of Leesburg has done a great job of snow removal).  Relax - the calvary IS coming!

Electricity:  While I didn't lose electric, many did, and some are still freezing in their homes.  THIS is why I insist on having multiple heat sources in my home.  A woodstove and fireplace, and a gas stove.  Think about that if you are buying in the Northern Virginia area.  Admittedly, gas fireplaces are convenient and the newer ones sometimes put out a decent amount of heat - and they'll work without electricity in most cases.  But, with a wood fireplace YOU are in control.  I always say - if there are trees around me, I will be warm.  That's the country girl in me. (Loudoun used to be country, and some of it still is.)  Click here for the Dominion Virginia Outage Map: http://outagemap.dom.com/DomComFlexOutageViewer/index.html

Important Reminders:  I am getting emails and texts and want to pass along the important reminders to you.

1 - Roofs are caving in.  If you have a flat roof, please remove the snow from it - if it collapses, it could kill your family, not to mention ruin your home or business.  If you have a roof that's at an angle, well, advice is conflicting.  I say if you can knock the snow nearest your gutters loose (like with a shovel or broom, etc.), then do it.  Generally it will cause it to slide, much of it sliding off your roof (think avalanche, and don't stand where it will fall).  This will relieve pressure.  If you can reach any part of your roof from a window, try.
2 - Please clear the snow from around your fire hydrants.  If there is an emergency in your neighborhood, please don't lose valuable time having to find the fire hydrant.  It can be the difference between life and death.
3 - Make sure your home and address are clearly visible from the street, so there's no delay if emergency services needs to get to you.
4 - Check on your neighbors - especially those that are olders or ill, but really, check on them all, and call authorities if needed.  If you are truly buried in the snow, they WILL send in the national guard - this happened in 1996 to my neighborhood in Ashburn when a boy got stranded at a babysitter's house during a blizzard and ran out of a critical medication he needed.
5 - Clear the snow from around your heat pump - covered HVAC systems can't breathe and this puts strain on the system and you could lose heat.  That would stink. And, oh, yeah, it's a rather costly repair.
6 - Clear snow from around the gutters, windows, and doors to prevent leaking.
7 - Remove snow from decks and porches.
8- If you are experiencing problems - downed trees, need help clearing your driveway/sidewalks, repairing roofs, sidings, decks or porches contact a qualified contractor.  I recommend William Beach  (Beach Carpentry and Contracting, based in Leesburg): 703-898-2789 or 703-443-8946.
9- Stay informed about important weather related news.  Sign up for Loudoun Alert.
10- Loudoun has many useful tips and resources available online.  Visit the web site: http://www.loudoun.gov/

You are strongly urged to do these things NOW, so as to avoid further complications when the next storm hits - tomorrow.

Stay tuned to Living In Lo Co continuing local information.  Personally, I am getting a little tired of writing about snow... but what else could I possibly write about at this particular time?  This is truly historic and a little mind blowing.  Hang in there!!

For further family snow storm survival tips, check out these posts:


And, of course, there will be more to come!!!! (posts, that is, but snow, too)


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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fun Recipes for Kids - Great for Snow Days!

The Washington DC area just experienced the 'Snowpocalypse', where Loudoun received a whopping 34.5 inches of snow.  Coming amongst the snowiest winter we've ever had, and this being our second blizzard of the year, many local school systems have used up all their snow days.  Loudoun County schools were out last Monday for a teacher workday, and Friday for a snow day, and the county made the call on Saturday that there would be no school Monday or Tuesday.  And, guess what?  There's more snow in the forecast for Tuesday night.  Oh, my!  Children and their parents are getting cabin fever, big time.  So, this post is dedicated to you!

These are a few fun recipes that I like to pull out on snow days to help keep them 'special'.  (They are all light on the cooking and ingredients and heavy on the fun.)  These are 'craft-like' recipes that will entertain kids for a while! (A couple are healthy, too.)

HOMEMADE DONUTS: 
Heat vegtable oil in a pan - about an inch and half deep-on medium high.  Open a can of biscuits.  Have the kids use a bottle cap (like from a soda) like a cookie cutter to create holes in the middle of each donut.  Test the heat of the cooking oil with a donut 'hole'.  Pop it in the oil, it should take about 30 seconds or so to lightly brown on one side and then flip it and cook the other side, and when both sides are evenly brown remove.  Adjust the temperature of the oil as needed and keep testing until you've got it right. (Tip: Use serving spoon with holes to cook the holes, use a fork for the donuts.) Place cooked donuts and holes on a plate lined with a paper towel. 
TOPPINGS:  Let the kids add their own toppings.  Today, we had topping choices of cinnamon and suger; melted chocolate chips, icing made from powdered sugar and milk, sprinkles and chopped peanuts.  Sometimes we use icing from a can, sometimes just powdered sugar.  It's always fun. 

SNOWCONES:
What could be simpler?  If you have leftover snowcone syrups on hand, just grab a bowl of snow and a spoon and add your favorite syrup!  No leftover syrups?  Use condensed frozen (thaw them first) fruit juices or punches, or even use powdered KoolAir or other drink mixes!

SNOW ICE CREAM: 
The simple version is taking sweetened condensed milk and mixing it with snow - presto magic!  That's a little sweet for me, so I often add regular milk to the mix, but be careful to keep the consistency ice cream-ish.  Some people recommend using flavored milk (vanilla, chocolate or strawberry).
FLAVORS: Add whatever flavors you have around - this is a great excuse to go on a search and rescue mission for less used flavorings in your spice cabinet.  Most people add vanilla.  A friend used flavored syrups in hers.  I add fresh fruit - berries are great and banana is my favorite - just blend them with a little milk and some crushed ice (snow doesn't 'blend' well).

SNOWFLAKES:
Give the kids mini-marshmallows and toothpicks and demonstrate how to 'build' a snowflake.  After that, they will use their imaginations and make all kinds of things - houses, satellites, whatever.  The point is it is a craft and a snack!!

SNOWMEN:
Give the kids large marshmallows and have them 'glue' them together using a bit of decorator icing, and then decorate faces, add 'clothes' etc with the decorator icing. Toothpicks or pretzel sticks make great arms!

MARSHMALLOW PIE:
Crush up graham crackers (the first time I made this, I used Teddy Grahams and I think they are the best, but usually I use regular graham crackers).  Mix with melted butter and flatten with fork into a pie (or round cake) pan to form a crust.  Sprinkle chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar (I like Hersheys), on top.  Then, add large marshmallows.  Bake in oven at 350 until it looks like the picture.  YUM!  Better than s'mores!

FANCY FRUIT:
Melt baking chips - milk chocolate, peanut butter, white chocolate.  Cut up your favorite fruit - bananas, any kind of berry, or anything that 'fits your fancy'.  Let the kids dip their fruit in the melted chips.  For added fun, let them roll the fruit in sprinkles or chopped nuts. I am such a sneaky mom!  I trick my kids into eating fruit. You can also do this with large marshmallows or cookies (like store bought Oreos, chocolate chips, Nutter Butters, etc.).

FONDUE:
Don't forget how much fun fondue can be.  No, you don't need a fancy pot.  Just melt your favorite cheese with some milk and use skewers (forks if you don't have skewers) and dip in your favorite veggies, chicken or other meat. 

Hope something in here gives your next Snow Day a new twist!!  Be sure and read the other Snow Day Activities posted a couple days ago.  It looks like you're gonna need them.... I hear that there's more snow on Tuesday.  I have heard rumors of anything from 5 to 10 inches.  Sigh.


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Snowmagedon In the DC Metro Area

The Washington DC Metro area has been hit with what many are calling "Snowmagedon"... our second blizzard this year.  Friends from upstate New York are wondering aloud 'When did I move back to Buffalo?' I want to assure you that we DO have winters like this, but not often.  And, we do have winters where it is ice storm after ice storm, but that's not common either. Or, we can have winters where we are lucky to geta few inches of snow enough to take a nice photo.  To be honest, the beauty of living here is that you never really know kind of winter you're going to have.

This storm, I believe, hits the #1 spot for most snowfall in just about all areas in our region.  Here in Loudoun, the 'official' snowfall count is 34.5 inches.  That seems about right for what I found at my home in Leesburg, the county seat.  We had mounds yesterday shoulder height from drifting and snow blowing.  Except for the fact that my husband is working when we get snow like this, I actually didn't mind (after my dad fixed my snowblower - thanks, Dad!!).  It's rather fun.

Follow this link and enjoy the pics (CLICK HERE) - I love the one with the white dog jumping, and the one with the snowplow/sand truck on it's side in a ditch.  There are photos of the organized snowball fight in DuPont Circle (DC), of the historic church collapse, and the downed power lines; grown ups working trying to clear a path to.. well, nowhere in many cases.....and kids, dogs and grown ups playing everywhere.  The Mighty Midget - that's here in Leesburg.  Enjoy.  I will post again later with my own pics and some from friends. 

The moral of this story, my friends, is that you should NOT be like my son and get rid of your winter coat - even if you think you won't need it any time soon.  Here in Northern Virginia, you need all kinds of clothes.  You'd think my son would have known that.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Snow Day Fun for the Whole Family!

Some days you wake up and this is what you see from your front door.  Within minutes, the kids are bouncing off the walls and you haven't even finished your coffee.  Oh, Joy!  Another day in paradise.

Okay, so do what you can.  Pick a house project (clean up the family room) altered with a fun project (snowball fight).  You are more likely to get a few things done and keep the kids from driving you crazy if you give them NO UNSTRUCTURED TIME, and rewards for what they don't like to do and you are thankful for.

Indoor Activities: 

Of course, there are always the good old fall backs... 
* Board Games * Cooking Projects * Watching Movies * Reading Books *  Make S'mores (if you don't have a fireplace to roast marshmallows, use the microwave! * Make hot chocolate *

But, Snow Days should be special.  Do something special!
* Watch Home Movies * Start A Scrap Book * Organize A Photo Album * Go online and start Ancestry Research * Play dress up w/the kids (you can do this and secretly be having them try on clothes so you know what needs to go to charity) * Have an 'At Home Spa Day' * Have a Video Game Competition with the WHOLE family * Blast the stereo and have a dance party * Make sock puppets and do a puppet show * Do a puppet show (stuffed animals are great for this), a home version of your favorite game show, a play, a dance show, a shadow show, a stand up comedy show (Favorite childrens book make great screen plays, older kids can enhance the story a bit; for the comedy show, look up jokes on line) * Bird watch - cardinals and blue jays are usually seen in our neighborhood on snow days and they look particularly beautiful with fluffy feathers and against the white background. * Make snow Ice Cream or edible snowflakes or snowmen (Click HERE for recipes)*  Bring the snow indoors and do experiments - melting, freezing, coloring it, build a mini snowman indoors - and keep it in the freezer for a hot summer day! *

Outdoor activities:

Again, there are the oldies but goodies:
* Build a snowman * Have a Snowball Fight * Make a Family of Snow Angels *  Make an igloo * Go sledding *

Since the oldies but goodies can't be done everyday, don't skimp on them!   But, throw in some new stuff:
* Get out the sandbox toys and make snow castles and such * Get out squirt bottles and water guns, add food coloring to the water and have the kids decorate the snow (finally!  yellow snow that doesn't stink) * Decorate a tree with strings of popcorn, or make a bird feeder (take a disposable cup from the trash, smear peanut butter on it, add stuff birds and squirrels eat - bread crumbs, bird seed, raisins, popcorn, nuts (we always end up with extra crushed walnuts and stuff after the holidays, then hang it from a tree or something you can see from inside). * Go for a nature hike and see whoever you see - and take photos *

For mommies and daddies that might have trouble getting in the mood, face it, you're going no where.  What's wrong with skipping the coffee and having a mamosa for breakfast... or heating some red wine and adding mulling spices for a tasty afternoon treat?  You might find you have a little more fun being silly with the kids when you really don't care if there are dishes in the sink.

I have given you several ideas for fun today, and every snow day.  But, whatever you do, promise me you'll do two things:
*  Take pics and record video clips - put it on a DVD entitled Snow Days - and add to it EVERY snow day.  

In the future, start each snow day with watching the videos from the previous show days - this gets more special once there are multiple years of clips, especially when they are back to back and you can see the progression of their growth in such rapid succession.  Then, when the kids move out of the house, have the clips put together with a sound track and a real movie made of it - and give them a copy to keep.  I bet they will continue to watch it on the morning of EVERY snow day all of their lives, and even show it to their children....thinking how much they love you every second. 

I bet you watch it even more often, snow day or not. It will be an always treasured video, I PROMISE.



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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Take Time To Taste The Snowflakes

So, today I was on Facebook (according to a recent quiz, I am 66% addicted). 

We were all chatting about the woodchucks and groundhogs (what's the difference?) that did or did not see their shadows (most did). 

How Addicted to Facebook Are You?
One REALTOR friend in Michigan said that the spectators that went to see Woody the Woodchuck were all dressed in bikinis and bermuda shorts, trying to fake Woody out.  It didn't work - he, too, was scared when he saw his shadow, and predicted 6 more weeks of winter.  Those woodchucks are smarter than you'd think.  Smarter than the spectators, anyway.  It's cold in Michigan.

When I told this to my husband he simply commented that all the news reports this morning were focusing on the fact that the spectators of every city that does this had been up drinking all night.  Hmmm... now it's all starting to make sense.

Then, they announced that most of Northern Virginia would be getting 3 to 6 inches of snow tonight... and to make matters worse (or better), they are now predicting maybe another foot of snow this weekend.... that's on top of the 6-ish inches of snow we got 3 days ago.... and this is not our first snow.  Heck, our first snow of the season came before Christmas and was about 18-26 inches here in our area. 

One of my clients said "I thought when we moved to Virginia we'd have mild winters"..NOT!  (Sorry, Jodi.) Not this year, anyway.  It's only like this about every 5 years, it's just that we're overdue - we've been spoiled since 1996.  To average things out, we'll have to have 3 winters in a row with lots of wintery precipitation.  (Maybe that's a warning to you.)

Another REALTOR friend posted this: "Here Mr. Groundhog,  Mr.Tony Soprano has some concrete shoes he wants you to try on. Can you say Anacostia?" (The Anacostia is a river in DC.)  NOT NICE!  I like Phil!   (Phil is in Punxsutawney, PA- a place I MUST be next year...it's on my bucket list).  Phil is just calling it like he sees it.. and apparently YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH, Steve!

Anyway... I was leaving to go pick up my kids, just as the flurries started to come down.  One of the little girls was outside in her front lawn, arms spread open, looking toward the sky, mouth wide open and tongue hanging out. 

Ahh... I remember tasting snowflakes, fresh ones, falling from the sky.  It's been too long.

Then, I picked up my kids at daycare.  We walked out to the car.  They both, instinctively, stuck out their tongues to get a taste.  The kids are all on the same page.  What is wrong with us?

This time of year there aren't many Roses to 'Stop and Smell'.  So, I am going to encourage you ALL to 'Stop and Taste the Snowflakes'.  When I did that tonight, I suddenly felt excited about the falling snow.  Thrilled that we'd have six more weeks of this possible miracle. 

A new perspective changes everything.

Stay tuned to http://www.livinginloco.blogspot.com/.  In the morning, I will be posting some ideas on how to prevent cabin fever.  Crafts, games and special snacks...for kids and parents alike.

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If you're looking for more information on what life is like here in Loudoun County, check out my web site, my Loudoun County blog (LivingInLoCo) or just give me a ring.  You can use the HOME SEARCH tool to find houses for sale in Loudoun or you can run an automated 'Market Snapshot' (click here) to see what the real estate sales in your Loudoun County neighborhood have been recently if you're thinking of selling.

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