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American Evolution Woman's Achieve Summit

Some professional developments feed your professional knowledge. Other trainings feed your soul. Tuesday's Women's Achieve Summit was a soul feeder. For 400 years women in Virginia have been achieving. Native American tribe leaders, astronauts, soldiers, entrepreneurs, educators, and political leaders. But stories of women often involve struggle, and we have had to work twice as hard as men. I believe the reason that educators are paid so little is because we are a profession dominated by women, and therefore not taken seriously. But "well behaved women seldom make history", and times are changing.

The conference started with host Queen Latifah speaking briefly before interviewing Wendy Lawrence, Senator Mark Warner, Dr. Jewell-Sherman, and Eboni Williams among others. Story Slams, brief stories of inspiring women who have made a difference in Virginia, took place throughout the day. Women in the military. Women pushing through important laws that help protect our children. Dr. Deborah Jewell-Sherman, former Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, was the highlight of the day for me, with profound knowledge, like "as women, we don't just have to shatter a glass ceiling, we stand on a glass cliff." Her advice for being a bad ass woman: 1. get a dog 2. you can have it all, although it might not always be at the same time, and 3. put family first always. She says that "there is no stopping a woman who knows her worth and wants to change the world." 

So what can we do as moms to teach our girls, and our boys, about the power of women? What does a mom of boys like myself do? We surround my boys with books of both men and women who made a difference in history. We highlight the female superheroes. We teach boundaries for all people, so that our boys know that when someone says no, they mean it. We model how we should all treat each other, and the expectations, roles, and responsibilities that we all have. That means that boys should be expected to do traditionally female chores too. It also means that we model how we expect men to treat us. What we accept shows our boys what is and isn't okay. Our kids are watching, and as women and moms it is our responsibility that the generations that come after us exceed ours and the ones that came before us.

Howl-O-Scream 2019

This fall marks the 21st anniversary of Busch Garden's Howl-O-Scream, and while I wouldn't bring my kids anywhere near there after 5:45, the mornings are perfect for kids. The Count's Spooktacular takes over the Sesame Street Forest of Fun with different themes each weekend. October 19th and 20th Bert and Ernie will turn it into a pirate party and the weekend of the 26th and 27th Rosita is throwing a Halloween Fiesta.
Be sure to walk past Oscar's Wiggly Worm into the back area to find the hay mazes where kids can trick or treat. All candy is nut free and they have vegan options too. For kids who can't eat any sweets they have tattoos too. In this area you'll find coloring pages, hop scotch, and corn hole too. Hit it at the right time and you'll see the Count's Countdown to Halloween, or join in on a costume dance party.
The kid's rides are still open in the Forest of Fun and Land of the Dragons, but closed elsewhere in the park. While the scares don't start until 5:45, the park is decorated with werewolves, skeletons, and ghosts. If you're kid is likely to get scared, stay in these two areas. The best way to get between the two without seeing the decorations is to go through Scotland, down the stairs and across the bridge. Be aware that there are several rides closed throughout the park, including the rest of the kidsiderate rides. Both kid areas close at 5:00 to give enough time for people to leave the park before the lights go down. Kids can wear costumes that don't include a mask.

We love having Busch Gardens so close. The fall is the perfect time to go because the weather is perfect! 

Barnes & Noble: VB Train Table

We are always looking for free little places to engage kids. We did a post a long while back about the awesome Barnes & Noble free story time. We love free stuff, and their story time is more than just a story. It includes a snack and a craft too. (Lynnhaven's is on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and that post is kinda old so call your local store before you go) But sometimes you need a quick spot to play for a few minutes so that you can enjoy a coffee. This Barnes & Noble comes equipped with a free to play on Thomas train table! While RT played on the table, Bubbie had a latte at the cafĂ©, and I sat back and relaxed.
I'm always really thankful to find spots like this. We did a post on the Lynnhaven Tot Lot, which is great for little ones but can be crowded and loud sometimes. This is a nice spot to hang for a little while to get away from some of the shopping and noise. While there, we spotted one of our favorite book series, Little Blue Truck- which if you haven't checked out, you should!

Virginia Children's Festival

The Virginia Children's Festival is something that I've always wanted to take RT to, but I was honestly overwhelmed with the idea of it. I'll be honest; there were a lot of people... but also a lot to do, see, and eat. The festival costs only $5.00 to enter per person and is gated off, which I really liked for an event for kids. There was a good amount of security and staff working, which I feel is always worth a few bucks. There was a lot to do, even for little guys.
Some of the highlights were riding the train, watching the boats go by, and the toddler zone. This area had ball pits, trampolines, rocking horses, and lots of play cars and trucks. All around there were crafts to make, included in the cost of the admission. We also were able to catch parts of the constant shows on several stages. Kids could play bucket drums, touch and climb in trucks, or sit for one of the several story times happening around the park.

The festival stretched all the way from Nauticus to Waterside, full of over 100 vendors and areas to play. Buckets of legos, cartons of chalk, corn hole boards, and jenga blocks lined the pathways. The photo opportunities were also abundant for kids who will tolerate that; mine won't! Disney princesses, Storm Troopers, Pete the Cat, SuperWhy characters, and several super heroes were on the scene too.

The weather was perfect, the food was tasty, and we all came home and crashed for several hours after! This is a repeat event for us!
Trying to get this many kids in a picture volume 800....

Rosh Hashanah and the PJ Library

Rosh Hashanah literally means "head of the new year". It is customary to hear the shofar blown to awaken the spirit and soul, to eat apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year, and as we do for most Jewish holidays- a celebratory meal with friends and family. This year I received a grant from the PJ Library to have a little birthday party for the world. We had some of RT's toddler friends over for a meal, some play time, and singing Happy Birthday.
It's so nice to have a houseful of kids all playing and running around together. I love when RT gets excited about having his friends over. It totally makes the toddler tornado of mess worth it! For those who don't know, the PJ Library is a nonprofit that sends a monthly book to Jewish kids. These books focus on holidays, hebrew learning, Shabbat, and Jewish values. 
This time of year is busy, bustling, and fun. But it's always hard too. It's no secret that I struggle with some of the life and death passages, prayers, and imagery that the high holidays brings. I flat out disagree with some of it, and I don't understand a lot of it. Kol Nidre, the night before Yom Kippur was the most important of the year for my dad. Going to that service without him is almost as gut wrenching as the Yizkor, or Remembrance service on the afternoon of Yom Kippur. But to remember someone means not just remembering what you loved about them, but to do the things they loved. Memory is a theme woven into the fabric of Judaism again and again and again. We say "may the memory of the righteous endure as a blessing", and a blessing they have been. I wish my dad could have seen my two boys grow up and that we could have attended services together. But a new year brings a new cycle of holidays, a chance to reflect, and a chance to improve on the year before. It also brings new milestones, new ticks on the growth chart, and new experiences. Wishing you a happy, healthy, and sweet new year, Shana Tova!