Visiting my parents & my dad left this motivational note on the fridge for my 18yo brother this morning. Hilarious.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Kristina Schnack Kotlus, and I live in Woodbridge, Virginia with my awesome husband and 3 great kids, who I home educate using a classical model. I have a degree in Comparative Religion and used to work as a Children's Minister. I am a Prince William County native- I grew up here and only left for college before coming back! I like pink, sparkles, iced tea, and reading.
How did you first become involved in with blogging?
I used to keep a calendar of events for friends in a mommy group, and since I'm a true local, I always knew about various places around the area. A friend encouraged me to make the information accessible to everyone, so PwcMoms.blogspot.com was born. It took off, and now, thanks to some work from my web guru/husband, it's now just PwcMoms.com
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working on your blog?
We've had so much fun meeting people! Since my children are home schooled, they come everywhere with me and we've had a blast meeting everyone from local business owners at places like Swim Kids to local media moguls like Rebecca Barnes from Prince William Living to fun personalities like the Ringmaster at Ringling Brothers or Elmo. My favorites, though, are the local business owners who are also moms. Their ability to juggle family, children's activities, and a business is such an inspiration to me.
What do you do when you aren’t working on your blog?
My kids take up a lot of my time. They play hockey and football and are year-round swimmers. My daughter just took up figure skating, and the boys are in art, piano, and scouts. I really love entertaining, so I'm always cooking up a storm for dinners or hosting game nights, and I've been really trying to convince myself I love running. I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April and I'm doing some local 5k's while I decide on my next race. I'm slow, but I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish! My whole family is local, too, so we enjoy boating and camping with them, as well.
What websites do you visit every day?
Proverbs31.org for my morning devotion, PotomacLocal.com, Google News, Twitter, InsideNova.com, and Facebook. Unfortunately, writing/interviewing, school and our family doesn't let me read as many blogs as I'd like! I have a few homeschool blogs that I love, but I don't visit them very often, either!
What is your favorite drink – and where can you find it in Northern Virginia?
I actually don't drink very often! I'm fun enough on my own ;) But, at our last MamaMafia dinner at Manzo/Carmellos, I definitely loved their martini menu. All of it.
What book do you casually put out on your coffee table to impress visitors?
I'll admit to casually throwing down a scrapbook or two, but other than that our coffee table usually prominently features Ranger Rick and Cobblestone!
What are your top 3 favorite people/places/things in Northern Virginia?
Person- Delegate Rich Anderson. When my son (at age 5) wanted to get involved in politics, he didn't laugh me out of his office when I showed up to volunteer with a 5 year old in a suit, a 3 year old asleep in a stroller, and an infant in my arms. He's also so kind about my website and sent me a congratulations card when I won Blogger of the Year from Northern Virginia Magazine and when I broke 2,000 Facebook fans, even though I'm sure he doesn't read my site often!
Place- Historic Occoquan. This was hard for me, because there are so many great places out there! We love the Workhouse Arts Center, Potomac Overlook Park, Mount Vernon, and more, but Occoquan is such fun to walk with a few girlfriends!! I worked at Touch of Gold for awhile and just really fell in love with all the great local merchants. Walking around to shop and then grabbing a sandwich or cupcake and sitting in the gazebo by the water is a great way to spend a weekend!
Thing- Art Lessons at Edgemoor Art Studio. This isn't your typical arts and crafts lesson, Ruth Johnsen really teaches these kids art using classical concepts and artists while still leaving room for imagination. I spend $180 a month on lessons for my kids and would cut out just about anything else before letting these go.
What is your goal for retirement?
This question sounds like it would require some kind of foresight or planning. I'm going to skip it on principle. In a previous interview, I said that I love my community and love telling its stories. As long as I can keep doing that and being happy, I hope there will be a place in my life for my website. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Do you have any advice for women who would like to start their own blog?
Learn to knit. It's way less drama.
Connect with Kristina:
Guest blog post from local photographer Kristin Wardrick about her experiences traveling and sponsoring a child in Haiti.
On my first trip to Haiti in 2003, I fell in love with the people and the place. Even in complete poverty and dire situations, the people were so happy. My parents has been to Haiti twice before and had asked me if I would go with them. On this trip, we interviewed and measured 57 children to enter them into the sponsorship program that my parents were starting for the first time. No education in Haiti is free and with most of the population living on less then two dollars a day, for a lot of children education is only a dream. Education is also what saves a lot of them as children are entered into school at age 3 it provides a safe place for them to be while their parents are looking for work and most schools give them a meal which for most of them is the only thing they eat that day. Education also gives them a step up to actually go out and find work once they have completed school.
On my 3rd trip to Haiti I remember seeing this little girl screaming and clinging to her mother. Completely terrified of the "blancs" (french for white) wanting to take her picture. I remember my friend Tiffany struggling to try to capture her sweet face in hopes of getting someone to sponsor her so she could attend school. I think at best w e have a photo of the side profile of her face with tears streaming down and her clawing her laughing mother who was telling her "the blancs wont eat you." She was one of the many young children that we had photographed but by far one of the worst photos.
Something stirred inside me and I knew that finding a sponsor that would choose to sponsor a child with hardly a photo of her probably was not going to happen. I walked over to my mother who was interviewing the children and told her that I would sponsor the "screaming girl" whose name was Chama. As my trips to Haiti continued so did my relationship with Chama. She was a bit shy at first and then the shyness grew into excitement to see me. I would look forward to seeing her just as much. I would think of her all the time in my usual day-to-day busyness but never thought much about what she was thinking about. On my trips I would hear that she was not a big eater and how her mother would tell her she needed to eat or that I would be sad and crying. Or how she prayed for me and my family every night. I would receive letters every once in a while with all sorts of flowery language which is such a cultural thing wishing me Gods blessings and how much she thought of me. On my last trip Chama didn't know I was coming and her mom hid me in her house and went and got her to come home.
I remember standing in the back room of the cinderblock house with no electricity and sheets in the doorways blowing in the breeze with my heart beating out of my chest. I then reflected on where the relationship had started and how far it had come. From a horrible photo of a screaming child, to the girl who tells me her skin color is from her Haitian mother but her face looks like her "Mama blanc". When I finally popped out from behind the curtain, I remember the look on Chama's face of complete shock and then a koala bear hug with tears streaming down her face.
At times it’s still hard for me to grasp how big our relationship is with the separation that our lives have by distance and material things. It’s hard for me to grasp how such a small thing in my life in terms of the $50 twice a year for school sponsorship can grow into something so big. Even if it never did, it still is special to me to think that somewhere out there the life of a small child is changing drastically because you were willing to give something as important to them as the ability to go to school. You never know where giving is going to take you! I encourage you to see! The program has been running for 9 years now and has over 1500 children from 11 communities in Haiti. The program is all run by volunteers so 100% of the money you donate to the children goes to the children. None of it is used for overhead, expenses, or operational fees.
Sponsor a child at hishandsforhaiti.org at the "children in need" page or follow what is going on with the program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HisHandsSupportMinistries. For more information, you can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Kirstin Wardrick
If you saw what my fridge looked like, you would think that I am a single male living alone. Maybe it's time to get groceries?
My parents came to visit on Saturday. Our goal was to go to the Nationals game as a family. Game started at 7 and we got there at 4:30 so that my little brother could watch batting practice. Even arriving super early, there were barely any seats left! I guess that's what you get when your hometown favorites are the top team in baseball! Our options were $195 box seats or $20 standing room only tickets. My mom and I made the executive decision to skip the game and let the boys hang out at Nationals Park.
Instead, we detoured to Theodore Roosevelt Island and watched the boats and kayak as they ventured down the Potomac. Later, we headed to Gravelly Point and laid in the grass and watched the air planes land overhead.
We grabbed dinner in Clarendon at BGR. Their servings are gigantic! We ordered some mini sliders and a veggie burger (which the manager touted as the best veggie burger in DC). I was skeptical, but my mom and I agreed that it was delish! B ended up eating only a brownie and skipped the burger and fries - which is very unlike him. Maybe they have the best brownies in DC too!
Found these little guys in my back yard!
So stinkin' cute right now... but they will soon be destroying all of my flowers.
We were in Rockville on Saturday for a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese and decided to meet up with some cousins in DC for a late lunch. We headed to Dupont Circle to check out the Lebanese hot spot: Kababji. We didn't know until we showed up, but the restaurant had a lounge-type atmosphere. Our party was 4 adults and 4 kids under 10, so we offered to sit outside.
Just as we were seated, the rain came down and moved our party into the dining area. The manager was super nice, but told us that the area was set up for a large private party later in the evening - and as long as we could be out in 1.5 hours, we could eat inside (wasn't that nice of him?). I was kinda put off because the restaurant was basically empty... but we promised not to stay long and we sat down and ordered.
The food was really really good. So good that I forgot to take pics of the appetizers until they were almost gone. They had all of my favorite plates - and I could have probably eaten just appetizers as my main course. Their selection of kabobs was fresh and plentiful. All are displayed in a case (imagine: Wegmans) around the fire right when you walk in. After dinner, the manager brought us complimentary baklava for the whole table. Maybe it was a peace offering for insisting we leave early, but we eagerly accepted it.
I would definitely go back for date night... without kids :)
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On Saturday afternoon, I was lucky enough to snag some free tickets to the Brothers of the Sun Tour @ FexEx for Sunday. While I like country music, I don't know every word to every song... but who doesn't know a tune or two by Tim McGraw or Kenny Chesney? We went on a double date with my brother and his girlfriend - such a great time!
We had club level tickets which included leather seats, marble floors in the restrooms, and ice cold air conditioning. I'm sure it probably wasn't a traditional country music experience (I also didn't have a single beer), but it was perfect to ease me into the crowd. If you aren't a fan of country music, I'm pretty sure seeing Tim McGraw in tight white jeans will change your mind.
There was a really neat general admission section near the stage called the "sandbar" which should have been more appropriately named the "standbar" because there was no seating at all, standing room only. The concert started at 4:30 and went on until about 11.... so long. At first, I was envious of their proximity to the stage, but after the 2nd act, I was happy to be seated on cushy leather while I watched the sandbar-ers fighting for their space.
The only downfall of our great seats was the terrible pictures that came from them. I only took my cell phone ... so if you want to see some decent pictures, you can check out WMZQ (although it doesn't look like their pics are much better than mine).
Hi! my name is Andrea and I'm a not-so-average Northern Virginia blogger, mom, and transplant from the Midwest. I host Girls Night Out events, meet ups, and write about events and my adventures in the DC area. I love to travel, brunch, and drink wine with my neighbors! I'm known to live on the wild side and order Venti iced double shots at 5pm.
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