"'I'm a North Reston Mom that is looking for a playgroup for my 2 year old son. His big brother is now in preschool five mornings a week and I'd love for him to be able to develop some friendships on his own. Any suggestions??
Also, I'd love to start a playdate of some sort for my oldest son with other kids that will be going to Armstrong elementary in the Fall of 2009, but not sure where to get started. We thought this would be a good transition step. He's in preschool in Great Falls, so we don't know tons of kids that would feed into Armstrong. Any suggestions??? Thanks for any help you can offer :)" - Kelli
I'm not really sure how to go about finding or starting a playgroup. Most groups of which I've been a part have happened through natural social networking.
One suggestion is to enroll in some activities that include children who are around the same age (something at the community center, for an example). If you find a natural connection with another mom or two, you can invite them for play dates and maybe begin a regular group. Or if you know of other moms in your neighborhood, you can host a get-together so that everyone can meet and maybe plant the idea of a neighborhood play group. You may find groups that are already meeting at a community center or through some simple research. I'll post a few links following this response, though there are undoubtedly more.
I don't have any good suggestions regarding an Armstrong Elementary playgroup, other than to either inquire about posting something in the school or otherwise for anyone who might be interested or to try to get hold of some names and numbers and get bold about tracking down a few parents and planning something.
I hope that has been somewhat helpful, perhaps other readers will have more to offer as well.
Reston Moms and Babies
MOMs Club International, Reston chapter
Though there are tons of yoga studios and teachers in Reston, it is difficult to find any who offer these kind of classes. Of the few I was aware of, none of them have mommy and me classes listed on their schedules anymore. Fortunately, I do know that At Play Cafe will be offering Mommy and Me Yoga on Tuesdays at 11 am starting Sept. 16th. Admission is $20 and includes access to the play areas. Otherwise, perhaps some other readers will know something that I do not. Also, if nothing seems to work out for you and you are still interested in the benefits of doing yoga with baby, there are some great books available - any search at Amazon or a bookstore will bring up a good list including titles such as Itsy Bitsy Yoga, Baby Om, Yoga for mother and baby, Yogababy, and Yoga Mom;Buddha Baby.
"Help! My husband and I are interested in learning more about homeschooling our girls for next year but after googling the internet, we are more confused and scared than before! Are there any sites that you recommend? How "hard" is homeschooling when you are NOT a trained teacher?! We need you!" - Heather
I felt that I could best answer and help Heather in a personal email and since I have also already written a few posts regarding homeschooling, I won't be posting a detailed answer to this particular question at this time. However, your own comments are desired and welcome...as are additional questions regarding this topic. I will return to this topic at some point in the future, so anything you might like to add or inquire about will be helpful. Thanks!
I recently received this question and unfortunately, I don't have any personal experience with childcare options in this area. Would you please help this friend out by offering whatever information or recommendations you can? Thankyou so much!
" I live in College Park, MD but work in Reston 2 days a week. I telecommute the other 3 days. Do you know of a day care facility in the Reston area (preferably near Sunset Valley Drive) that would allow me to enroll my son for the days I work in Virginia? He's only 6 weeks old and I can't stand the thought of being so far away from him on those 2 days." - Lisa
"I am new mother in Reston and I am looking for a gym that my baby can learn to crawl and play with other children his age. The Little Gym in Sterling has the idea but they only offer classes on Tuesday at 2. We are working parents so we need a gym with a little more flexibility. Any ideas? Thanks for your help." Suzanne
Ashburn and Fairfax Corner also have Little Gym's. I don't know whether they offer classes at other times, but if that is what you are looking for, it might be worth checking into. Also, Reston and Herndon community centers often offer baby classes which range to include simple playgroup gatherings to music and movement classes to baby gym settings and more, plus this would be a great opportunity to meet other moms in the area with children similar in age to your own. Also, you may want to check out the At-Play Cafe. Kids 18 months and under are free and the schedule is really flexible as you can go whenever you like during open hours. They have an additional gym studio where they hold classes and parties, but if it is not in use while you are there, it is also open for kids to play in. Leesburg and Chantilly also have a My Gym. And Ashburn has a J.W. Tumbles which offers some great Tumbles Tykes classes. Soon there will be another J.W. Tumbles in Herndon as well. I hope that gets you started and that you find something that is perfect and lots of fun for your family.
"My wife and I are looking for a nanny-share situation in Reston. We don’t know where to begin looking. Any recommendations?" - Gary
To be honest, I'm not really sure where to point you either. I know that there are lots of agencies that will help you find something for a fee - you can check that out with a simple online search. You might try Craigslist as well. These things are usually the result of just getting the word out through talking to friends, co-workers, other parents at play groups, etc.... And you can always submit something to classified sections of the local papers. I'm hoping that my readers might have some good tips for you. I really do hope that a great situation works out for you guys soon!
"Could you talk home schooling and how a family could plan for something
like this or even simply explore and evaluate this option. It seems like a
huge undertaking of a responsibility but well worth the results - my added
concern is the lack of social aspects for a home schooled kid and support
for that in the community." - Vj
I am glad that you asked, because other people have similarly asked me about homeschooling recently. Interestingly, I've been asked about this topic by people who weren't previously aware that my husband and I will begin educating our oldest daughter from home beginning this fall. I think that shows that this option is growing in popularity. Many parents will toy with the idea, some will explore it further, and some may decide that this is the best option for their family. It can seem daunting to even approach and it is unfortunate that many people will disregard homeschooling as a viable option without taking any time to evaluate it. I won't spend my time trying to convince everyone who reads my blog to home school, but I do think that I will give some more consideration to your question and do a series of posts this week on how to explore the option. I'm sorry to make you wait for that, but it will be too much to cover by answering here.
If you would like to ask additional questions or make comments regarding this topic as I consider posting more this week, please feel free to do so. I would love to hear from you!
"My son is six months old and is rolling over like a champ. The problem that comes with that is now he loves to sleep on his stomach, and only his stomach. His doctor told me not to let him do this because of SIDS, and that I'd have to be vigilant about it (but he also said, confusingly, that I didn't have to "police" his sleeping). So, I tried wedging a towel on the side he rolls by his legs and that works for a couple of hours, but by the morning, he's kicked it away and is on his stomach. So I called the Doc's office, and his nurse suggested a positioner/wedge-type device. I found several at Babies R Us, but every single one had a warning on it to discontinue use after 6 months of age, or when they learn to roll over. I bought one anyway, and tried to use it last night, but once again in the morning, he had kicked it away and was on his stomach (oh, his face is always turned to the side, though). The "What to Expect" book says that it's a fruitless, pointless fight to get them to sleep on their backs at this point if they prefer sleeping on their stomachs, but obviously my doctor thinks differently, and I honestly don't know what to do. Any advice would be most appreciated." - Jenna
While I don't have any particular experience that would lend help to you, I do seem to remember reading something just like this somewhere. And while I can't quite put my finger on it, the gist of it was simply to do the best you can and not worry. It seems like you've explored every avenue and I don't think there is much else to be done. While children are at risk for SIDS between one month and one year, the most deaths due to this occur between 2 and 4 months. Since your son is beyond that age and is fairly mobile, I wouldn't stress about it too much. At some point, my second daughter decided that sleeping on her stomach was preferable and that's how I found her every morning, unfortunately I don't remember much more than that. I know that this kind of thing can be terribly frustrating, however, and I believe that your doctor's confusing messages might boil down to something like this " you don't need to be so obsessively worried about this that you hover over the crib all night, but definitely put him down to sleep on his back and roll him over when you do check on him or notice." It sounds like you have a strong, assertive, healthy kid on your hands and that is something to be grateful for. - Restonmom
"Given what you know of the ‘Reston scene’, if you will, would you choose Saturday or Sunday afternoon? In other words, when do you feel parents are least likely to have a conflict? On one hand Saturday is chores and errands day, but on the other hand, Sunday is chill out day." - Gary (on planning a 5th birthday party)
What a great question! One that I'm sure all parents have struggled with at some point. It's a difficult one to nail down. My thoughts are this: If the party is to take place during the school year, I'd consider Saturday. However, if school is out, then Sunday afternoon might be a good choice. During the school year, parents are often hesitant to make plans for Sunday because either they are running around doing last minute things preparing for the week ahead or trying to have one more pull-together and restful day before school starts tomorrow. It also is a common time for soccer teams to have games, for example. However, during the summer months, Saturday becomes mom and dad's days for catching up on yard work, vacation, cook-outs, errands, chores, family, and more and Sundays take on a more lazy feel. Either way, your best bet is just to make sure that you give enough advance notice of the event. I hope that helps some and I wish you the best with the party!
We'd love to hear your comments on this one!
Thanks for your question - a great one! I'll be there's a bunch of moms wondering the same question as they look ahead to fall preschools. "Pre" school is really a big tutorial for what's to come...so don't worry to much about preparing a child to go and be preparing for school and other activities - that's kind of what it's all about. The best suggestions I can make are simply to talk to your child to reassure them in advance of such a big transition in their routine - talk about preschool, other kids who go, read books about it, etc. Keep reinforcing all the good manners, sharing, etc... that you are already working on, and begin to let them take on some bits of responsibility like getting dressed or helping to pack snacks/lunch so that they can feel excited about this new preschool thing that only "big kids" get to do and so that they feel a little bit empowered to handle life. I would teach the child the name of the teacher and make sure that they know they can talk to him/her. For example, my daughter Hope (who has been well potty trained for a long time) had a bit of an accident during class when she started ballet simply because she didn't realize that it was okay to ask the teacher to leave instruction to go use the bathroom. It seems obvious, but sometimes children are timid about things like that. And, make a special "good-bye" ritual to ease the separation anxiety - such as a special phrase, handshake or whatever. I hope these tips are helpful, but I especially help that some other moms who have been through this will offer some comments here since we aren't sending our daughter to preschool. Best wishes - preschool is an exciting time!
"As a mom of an almost-12-year-old daughter, I've been really bothered by the TV commercials for Gardasil (the vaccine being promoted for young girls to guard against Human Papillomavirus). Several states currently have bills trying to make this a mandatory vaccine for girls entering 6th grade (with, in most, if not all cases a parental opt-out). I know you often address medical issues, and specifically vaccine related ones. I've been doing some research on it myself and was wondering if you had looked into this at all or had any thoughts on the topic." Jessi
This is a great question and one that could be addressed from many angles. For my readers who don't know, Gardasil is a vaccine recommended to girls from 9-26 years of age for the prevention of HPV, a disease which is transmitted sexually, and which may cause cervical cancer or other cancers. It is the most common STD, over 50% of all sexually active people acquire HPV at some point in their lives. The really great thing about this vaccine is that it is a huge medical breakthrough in preventative medicine against cancer - and that is amazing and worth celebrating. The debatable issue is safety - as for now, it appears safe and lacks any evidence which really critically holds up against that. However, being very new, there is much more research that needs to be done. The downside to this vaccination is that the disease it addresses is totally preventable with abstinence or in the context of a faithful marriage, and perhaps that is the issue upon which more attention and education should be applied. As far as making the vaccine mandatory within schools, this may seem a new issue because of the targeted age....however, it is really quite in line with the already implemented practices of having elementary school children required to be vaccinated against certain infectious diseases such as measles. The general idea is that by implementing mass vaccinations some diseases can eventually be completely eradicated or made to be extremely rare throughout large populations. There are so many things we could talk about surrounding this topic, but I'll simply leave you all with a final story: I went to high school with a young woman who later fell in love and got married with the hopes of starting a family. Sadly, she experienced a rape and she was infected by HPV. Due to the cancer, her chance of ever having children was lost. Her cancer is terminal, and right now she is dying. She is just 30 years old.
Dear Readers, please feel free to comment with your own thoughts or feelings.
" I don't know how well you will know this or not but I was wondering if it is natural for toddlers to hump as they go to sleep. I was at a day care the other day and I was told that it was natural. I saw your blog and thought I would email and see what you thought or if you know of any books or websites that I could go to. I have never heard that and it is something that I want to be cautious about. Thanks." Dottie
I'm so glad you asked this question! This is something which may feel very embarrassing to parents who might have real concerns and questions. I actually can speak to this and am glad to have the opportunity. This activity, humping - or otherwise masturbating, by young children is extremely common. Just as children explore and learn about all the other parts of their bodies, like hands and feet and ears....they will eventually discover that rubbing or playing with their genital areas can feel good. This behavior becomes particularly common at times when a child is tired, stressed, watching t.v., or bored. It is done simply for soothing, comfort, or because they like the way it feels - it is not related to sex or fantasy for young children. I have experienced this with my own daughter and I admit it is really kind of a weird and potentially uncomfortable subject to deal with. There are a few key things that are helpful to remember: first, that it is very common. Secondly, that it won't hurt the child or lead to strange sexual thoughts or practices - nor is it a symptom of poor parenting or abuse. Third, it is important for children to learn about and appreciate all of their body as well as to have a relationship with their parent that will allow good communication about sexual values and so forth. Therefore, it is important to be careful as adults how we react to this behavior. We don't want to communicate anxiety or shame or punishment or fear. The best thing to do is just to totally ignore it if it is happening at bedtime or while the child is alone in a private setting. In any setting, it should be handled matter-of-factly but unashamedly. Young children don't have discretion between private and public behaviors.....in the same way that you would discourage a child from other behaviors in public, you can discourage this behavior as well - either by offering distraction or simply telling them that if they would like to do that they will need to go to the bathroom or to their room and not do it when other people are around. And one last thing to keep in mind, is that this behavior can't really be completely stopped and a parent or caretaker should not show any punitive action or demeaning attitude to the child but should learn how to teach them and direct them to what is appropriate and what is valued by their family. This is a good opportunity to start establishing natural and good means of communication with your children about their feelings and their bodies. This can be a bit embarrassing for the parent to ask questions about, but a pediatrician can be very helpful in answering more questions about this. It is very common, and I believe there is lots of information
Have you experienced this with your children? How did you feel or react? Did you talk to anyone such as your pediatrician about it?
"I am going to be staying at a hotel in Reston with my two girls, aged 7 and 8, at the end of March. The hotel does not have an indoor pool. What activities are there in the Reston area for a 1st and 2nd grader (apart from Reston Zoo), and where is an indoor swimming pool that would be open to non-Reston residents? thanks for the help!" Patti
Welcome to Reston. I hope that you and your daughters will have an enjoyable stay. Assuming that the weather is nice, you might like to visit Frying Pan Farm Park - a local working kid-friendly farm with lots of animals (new babies this month too!), a playground, a farm market, and lots of room for picnics. The website doesn't do it any justice, it's definitely a favorite around here! There are several great playgrounds in the area too and tons more to do besides. I've compiled a resource of activities in the area in the For Your Interest section in the right hand column of this page - click on "places to go" and "hands on fun" and you'll find a pretty comprehensive list of all kinds of things. As far as an indoor pool - I know that the Reston Community Center and the Reston YMCA both have indoor pools - however, I am unsure of their policies regarding visitors.
Readers, please feel free to comment and offer your suggestions to our friend Patti. Thankyou!
"We are moving to Oakton this spring and I am looking for summer camp-like activities for my 3 and 5 year olds. Any art or science like activities in the area that you know about? Thanks for your time!" Jen
Welcome to the area! There are so many camps here that you'll have more difficulty deciding among them. While I am most familiar with the Reston area, most of the neighboring communities will also have a lot to offer you. Narrowing it down to art and science for 3-5 year olds, I can hopefully give you a few places to start. The Reston Association has some good camps which might fit what you are looking for, specifically "Nature tots" (3-5), "Hug a tree" (5-7), and the mini camps (5-10). If you can get past the sub-par names, they are worth checking out. The Reston Community Center also hosts a variety of camps that would be worth taking a look at as well. I don't know if either of your children are girls or are interested in dance or performing arts, but the Reston Conservatory of Ballet offers some spectacularly cute summer camps too. You might also want to check out Abrakadoodle for some good art-based camps as well as Curiosity Zone (in Ashburn) which has some really cool science based camps for ages 4-6. Frying Pan Farm hosts summer camps for youngsters as well where they get some fun experience around the farm and animals. These are all basically week-long day camps (as opposed to overnight camps) which is what I suspect you are looking for. There are a myriad of other camps that I am neglecting, so if none of these seems to fit what you are looking for, the community center and other local businesses often carry publications which list every camp available in the area. I do hope that you will enjoy Oakton and find just what you are looking for. Thanks for your question, very apt as many parents will soon be researching summer camps as well!
If you know of any other camps to suggest to Jen, please help our friend out by leaving a comment. Also, if you have kids who have attended camps, we'd love to hear about your experience - positive or negative. Thanks!
"I wondered how far apart your girls were, and if you had any good thoughts on what to think about when adding to your family with a second child. My husband and I in the process of making that decision and trying to think of that issue from every angle!" - B. K.
My girls are EXACTLY two years apart - in fact they will celebrate their birthdays on the 12th and 13th of this month. I don't think anyone can tell you what is going to be best for you and I don't think you can be totally prepared. What I can tell you from my own experience is this: having a newborn and a two-year-old is challenging no matter how great your kids are. Having a two-year old and a four-year old is challenging no matter how great your kids are. Having them any closer together just increases the challenge. And having more than one child is just inconvenient in general (as in, how do you fit two kids plus groceries in a cart?) But, I love the way my girls play together now, the sister moments they have. I love that their interests still overlap a bit and that I can sweep them both up in my arms at the same time (at least for a moment). Spreading them out a bit may have given me a bit more sanity at times and who knows what things will be like when they are both teenagers....but for us, two years difference is great and we are totally enjoying it! When you want another baby, just do it. That's the best time - any child who is brought into this world because they were really wanted to be there by their parents and loved no matter what, has it made. Regarless of timing, it will bring both challenges and unique blessings. I don't think there is any perfect time - whether financially, emotionally, or whatever. Just be ready to give your heart away one more time - it is so amazing the way you can love more than one child at the same time and love them both so completely. But I will say this....having a second really changes things. It pulls your attention away from the first sometimes, and you can't avoid that. And, the second never gets the one-on-one time you have had with the first, either. It's not necessarily a bad thing, just different. So whatever you do, make sure to really enjoy these moments when you only have the one, they are special and you'll never forget them.
"I wondered if you had any good suggestions of activities that I could be doing with my not talking, not walking one year old son. I feel like there are so many resources out there for activities applicable to ages 2-5, but I'd like some fun, educational, and special activities that I could do with my one year old too."
Thank you so much for your question! I'm sure there are a lot of moms out there wondering the same thing! It is difficult to find activities at this age, but every child, whether they can express it or not, has such a desire to learn and experience things. All you need is a bit of inventiveness...the great thing is that at this age, anything can be a wonderful activity! I carried my babies on trips outside to touch everything - bark, fuzzy and smooth leaves, cold rock, grass, flowers...telling them all about the colors and textures. Or took them down the candle aisle or pulled out my spices and smelled them together. I pointed out everything I saw no matter where we were - birds, tall buildings, trucks, the colors of cars, the squares on the sidewalk. Just managing our chores became full of fun learning moments together. Once we let Maddie fingerpaint by taking off her clothes, laying out a canvas squirted in paint and letting her play in it. It was a mess and she went straight into the bath, but it was fun and we still have her "abstract" art. But, if you are really looking to get out, many communities offer classes for young babies and their moms such as swimming, music, and infant massage. Or you can take your son to a story time at a local library or bookstore - even if it doesn't seem like he is paying attention, he is actually taking in quite a lot about the story as well as the world around him. Pet stores are a great place to visit for a treat - to watch the colorful fish swimming, pet a super soft bunny, or listen to the birds. I hope that this helps a little bit and I wish you and your son many fun and special moments together!
comments are open, please help by contributing your ideas too!
"We have had "professional" photos taken at Penny's and Picture People at Dulles Town Center. I've been relatively happy with our Penny's experience, but horrifically disappointed in Picture People. Have you tried any of the portrait studios in our area? Do you have any recommendations? Our recent experience has been really traumatic for both Audrey and I since she was terrified of the people and rooms at both locations. Any tips on getting a 2 year old to cooperate with photos? At the studio they told us it would probably be a battle until age 3??? " Audrey's mom, Reston
Dear Audrey's mom,
I'm sorry for your traumatic experiences. We have used JCPenney's and been pretty pleased both with quality and cost. I have heard that where Target stores have studios it is basically the same company as JCPenney's. My niece and nephew got some really gorgeous pictures taken at Target! Also, if you are in need of a ton of pictures for low cost just to send out to family or something, Wal-mart is great. I think quality really depends a large part on what photographer you get. As far as getting a 2 year-old to cooperate - I can only suggest that you think creatively. I suppose you could always try a small bribe (is that terrible?) promise her a specific little treat after she sits and smiles for the camera or find a toy camera or your own camera and let her take a few pretend snapshots of you sitting and posing in the same place she'll pose before her own picture? Talk it up beforehand as something really great and let her pick out a "special" piece of clothing or accessory to wear for the picture? Go and pick out a pretty picture frame and tell her that after she has her picture taken, you'll put a special picture of her in the frame and put it in her room just for her? I don't know what might break the barrier for being afraid of the rooms or the people.....some children just take more time to warm up to things like that. If that's the case with Audrey, then there probably isn't much you can do but be reassured that it will get better as she gets a little older. Otherwise, I'd recommend sticking with JCPenneys and not giving up - some days are just better than others and some photographers too.
Comments are open for other readers to contribute too.
"Do you have any toys that you think are just absolute necessities? We have a lot of the basics,
but I'm looking for something that is special,educational, something that can be passed down, a real
treasure for my young daughter. It doesn't necessarily have to be expensive, loud, or technologically advanced." A.G., Reston
There are way too many toys out there to choose from, don't you think? What a great question! Here is a list of some toys that make my own "essentials" list:
KITCHEN - I think every girl or boy should definitely own a play kitchen! Some very nice wooden sets are available which could be repainted and handed down.
DRESS-UP TRUNK- yes, for boys and girls! You can use any container, we have an antique chest that was passed down to us. Fill it with costumes from halloween, hats, shoes, old clothes from your closet.....
FURNITURE - I am a sucker for child-sized furniture, a nice set of table and chairs will go a long way - you can have a wooden one custom painted for something special. I love to see my girls sit in the chairs painted with the names of my husband's siblings when they visit their grandparents, at my house we also have a table painted by my sister, and a wooden tea hutch that too was passed down, plus a rocking chair from my own childhood - we treasure them all and use them constantly!
TEA SET - for a little girl, this is a classic! Whether plastic for the bathtub or a nice porcelain set (which by the way you can find nice ones for cheap now) - it's a must!
DOLL HOUSE - every little girl should have a doll house at some point - and would you love to have had one handed down from your mother or grandmother?
CRADLE - a nice wooden doll cradle will get tons of use and can hang around for a long time, another classic!
CARS - a great set of good quality cars or trains is a winner for girls as well as boys.
PLAY-DOUGH - it may be messy, but it's a given.
PUZZLES, BOARD GAMES, AND BUILDING BLOCKS - all hit the top of my list too.
Comments are open for other readers to contribute too, I'd love to hear from someone who has boys!
"Could you please recommend a Thai restaurant near Reston, Sterling or Herndon? Nothing too fancy or expensive. Do you have any favorite restaurants that we must try other than the big chains? Also, what are your favorite activities for 2 year olds in our town? Now that we know about all the storytimes at the local libraries, we plan on going, but what else can we do around here? We've hit Frying Pan Farm, Reston Zoo, the local school playground, Reston Farmers Market, etc. Is there something I'm missing that we MUST do? " Ashlye, Reston