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Last Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas


Hey guys and gals, Valentine’s Day is Thursday. Yep, Thursday. And that means you should plan do something sweet for your sweetheart. And we’ve got some last-minute ideas for where you can treat that special someone in your life.

Osprey’s Sweetheart Dinner

Try a three-course meal with salad, a choice of Beef Wellington or Baked Salmon, and a fitting desert of chocolate and almond strawberries at this special dinner for two.

Osprey’s at Belmont

Feb 14 – 16

5 – 9 p.m.

$30 per person

Weekend romantic getaway in Manassas

Want to get away close to home? The Fairfield Inn & Suites in Manassas is offering a special Valentine’s Day package that includes a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider, one rose, and a box of chocolates with your room stay through Feb. 16.

The package starts at $214.

Chick-fil-A Valentine’s Date Night

For those who want a family restaurant as a backdrop for their Valentine’s Day events, Chick-fil-A in Woodbridge has invited guests to join them for Valentine’s Date Night where flowers, candy will be given out each half hour between 5 and 6 p.m.

Thursday 5 – 8 p.m.

Chick-fil-A Woodbridge

2425 Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge

Valentine’s Day story time

Not everyone is a fan of chocolates and candy hearts, and if that sounds like you, come out and hear stories meant just for you at this free story time event at Lake Ridge Neighborhood Library.


10:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.


Sinfully Sweet at Potomac Point

Valentine’s Day events spill over into the weekend at Potomac Point Winery in Stafford County as they will hold their Sinfully Sweet event at 1, 3, 5, and 7 p.m. on Saturday. They’ll offer tours of their coyote wine cave and decadent deserts paired with Potomac Point wines.

It’s $25 per person, $22 for wine club members, and reservations are required by calling 540-446-2107 or by emailing Jane[at]potomacpointwinery.com.

Hockey Warm-up Pants Found: Score!

Mom on the Run


“Beth Beth Beth Beth!!” I am so excited, typing this email. “I found the pants!” I’m dancing in my seat, I’m so happy.

OK – backing up.

For my son’s senior-year season of ice hockey I volunteered to manage spirit wear. Not a big deal: pick the stuff out, get quotes, create an order form, collect orders and money, distribute orders. Right?

021113-freedom-mom-tagPretty much. The process took a little longer than I thought, and involved two vendors for two batches of stuff, screenprinted and embroidered, but ultimately everything came together. Almost everyone on the team ordered something screenprinted – sweatpants or sweatshirt or t-shirt – and a new coach and a new player each ordered an embroidered warm-up jacket, and one previous player ordered a new pair of warm-up pants. Everything came in quickly, was accounted for, and was delivered.

Well, the screenprinted stuff came in and was delivered quickly. The embroidered stuff took longer, and when those three items finally came in, I gave the box to my son. “Give Coach Britt and James their jackets, and give Andrew the pants.” “Uh huh.”

Later that night, “Did you give everyone their warm-up stuff?” But: “None of them was at practice.” Oh, OK.

So, before the next practice: “Don’t forget to give out the warm-up suit stuff.” “Yeah, I know.” That night: “Did you give out the warm-up stuff?” “I gave Coach his jacket. Nobody else was there.”

It took a couple of practices and a bunch of nagging, but finally everything was delivered. I saw the boys wearing their spirit wear. There were no complaints or questions. Everyone was pleased. I was pleased!

Until a month later, when I got the email from Beth: “Andrew never got his warm-up pants.” What? Dang it!

I checked with my son: “Andrew says he didn’t get the warm-up pants. Did you give them to him?” Ha – a month later. I really bothered to ask? “Uhh … I gave out everything you gave me.”

“We gave the pants to Andrew,” I emailed Beth. And she replied: “Andrew says he doesn’t have them.”

I checked with my kid again: “Are you sure you don’t still have the pants?” “I’m sure!” I had him check his hockey bag, the back seat of the car, the trunk of the car, his room.

Beth had her son check his hockey bag, his backpack, his bedroom. No pants. Not at our house, not at their house.

Check again, I told my son, five, 10 times. Five, 10 times he checked. Check again, Beth told her son, five, 10 times. Five, 10 times he checked. No pants. Finally, Beth emailed, “I’m sure they’re buried here somewhere. Don’t worry about it.”

Not worry? No way. This was my project! And my kid! I was so distressed; I needed to find those pants!

So I thought about it. I thought and thought. And – oh! James only got a jacket! Maybe my son thought James got a full warm-up suit? I pulled out a whole-team email, guessed at a James-family email address, and sent out: “You only ordered a warm-up jacket. Did you happen to get a pair of pants as well?”

I was holding my breath. It was a leap, thinking James had the pants, and I made a note to move forward on Plan B, which was to wait a few more weeks, see if the pants popped up, and then pay for a new pair of pants for Andrew. But still, before Plan B came Idea A: maybe James has them. I was hopeful.

And finally, a return email! “Yes, we have the pants. We will get them to Andrew.”

Victorious, I email Beth: “Beth Beth Beth Beth! I found the pants!”

Beth writes right back: “Fantastic!” And then she says, with relief, what we were both thinking: “Neither of our boys is crazy!” Exactly. Exactly.

Mason Planning Town Hall as Prince William Campus Expands

One educational institution winner of the Governor’s 2012 Volunteerism and Community Service Award was The Campus Kitchen at the College of William and Mary, a student-run organization that uses existing food resources in the Williamsburg area to address the hunger and nutritional needs of individuals in the community. [Photo: courtesy: InShutterVision Photography]

Outside Old Town: What’s Happening Around Manassas 

For Potomac Local News

Today is Deadline to Nominate Volunteers for Governor’s Awards

Do you know an individual, family or group of volunteers who are making an outstanding difference in Manassas, Manassas Park or Prince William County? How about a business, educational institution or community or faith-based organization? Let Governor Bob McDonnell know! Each year the Governor presents Volunteerism and Community Service Awards that highlight the efforts of outstanding Virginians who seek to enhance the lives of others in their communities. This year’s deadline for nominations is Mon., Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. Winners will be announced at a ceremony during Volunteer Week in April. Past honorees from the Manassas/Prince William area include New Dominion Learn & Serve and The Joe 15 Team of Manassas and Volunteers of the Year Bathsheba Felice Bryant and Edward Roman of Woodbridge and Stephen Michalski, MD of Gainesville. For a nomination form and more information, visit the Governor’s Volunteerism Awards.

Love Life at Manassas Mall Feb. 16

Join Action in Community Through Service (ACTS) for Love Life Day at Manassas Mall on Sat., Feb. 16 from noon to 4 p.m. in the JCPenney Court. Find out how you can manage stress, illness or loneliness, and celebrate all the things you love. (ACTS) Helpline is 703-368-4141 or visit actspwc.org.

Birth Matters Virginia, Prince William Chapter Meets Feb. 21

The local chapter of Birth Matters Virginia meets Thurs., Feb. 21 at the Manassas Midwifery offices, 8425 Dorsey Circle, Suite 102, Manassas, starting with a 6:00 p.m. potluck and fellowship. Bring a friend and a dish to share. The mission of Birth Matters Virginia is to improve the culture of birth in Virginia by promoting an evidence-based model of maternity care and supporting care providers who practice mother-friendly care. The meeting topic will be birth options and rights. Come to share your experience as well as learn how others have made a change in their births by enacting their rights. Who should attend? Local moms, doulas, friends, childbirth educators, peer lactation specialists, midwives, obstetricians, chiropractors…anyone who wants to increase evidence-based birth options for the women in the Manassas and Prince William area. “Like” the chapter’s Facebook page at Birth Matters Virginia Prince William.    

23rd Annual Mardi Gras Gala and Auction is Feb. 23

The Prince William Health System Foundation is hosting its 23rd Mardi Gras Gala and Auction extravaganza on Sat., Feb 23, from 6:30 pm to midnight at the Westfields Marriott Conference Center in Chantilly. Black tie optional and tickets are $150 per person. Support of the Gala is vital for the foundation to accomplish its community healthcare goals. Working closely with Prince William Health System and its affiliate organizations, the Foundation helps to provide equipment and community outreach programs that could not normally be funded without raising fees. Tax-deductible contributions may either be directed to the endowment for use when and where needed, or designated for a specific department of any Prince William Health System facility, from prenatal and infant care to prescription drugs for the elderly. The Gala provides an ideal opportunity to socialize and promises to be a fun-filled evening of fine dining, dancing with a live band (the Fabulous Fantoms), and an exciting auction. RSVP by Fri., Feb. 15 at 703-369-8201.

Mason’s Vision – Town Hall Feb. 26 on PW Campus

As the Prince William campus of George Mason University continues to expand in Manassas, the university is soliciting comments about their vision from members of the community. University president Angel Cabrera, recently unveiled a draft Vision document and Working Group Reports. Anyone is welcome to read the documents and let him know what you think. Leave a comment on the website, send an email to vision@gmu.edu, or attend a town hall on Tues., Feb. 26 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the Verizon Auditorium on the Prince William campus. Your participation matters.

Library Seeks Applicants for May 4 Local Author Fair

Bull Run Regional Library is pleased to announce Saturday, May 4, 2013 as the date of its Second Annual Local Author Fair. This will be a great opportunity for authors to promote their published work, whether it is fiction, nonfiction, adult, young adult or children’s. Self-published authors are also welcome. Participating authors will be permitted to sell their works. Space is limited, so apply now. Due to space limitations, the library reserves the right to limit participation by selecting a representative sample of types of work. Applications must be received by Sat., March 22. Authors selected to participate will be notified by email. Tables and chairs will be provided, as well as publicity. If you or someone you know is interested in being a part of this event, please contact Librarian/Adult Program Coordinator Dolores Bowman at 703-792-4546 for an application. The May 4 Author Fair is free and open to the public.

Getting People Off Roads, Knowledge to Workers Should Be 21st Century Transportation Strategy

Al Alborn: Connecting  the Dots

Contributing Editor

I like roads. When I drive Va. 234 from Interstate 95 to 66, or the Prince William Parkway from Woodbridge to Manassas, I am grateful Prince William County’s proactive approach to transportation infrastructure. I’m looking forward to the Tri-County Parkway.

If I understand the math correctly, we just can’t get ahead of our transportation problem regardless of how many new roads we build. Unless we start thinking differently.

We continue to be locked into the old paradigm of moving people to their jobs. If you build things or service things, you do have to get to your job one way or another. The simple fact is that in the Washington, D.C. area, most people work with knowledge. They take information and do something to it adding value.

These people are knowledge workers.

Knowledge workers don’t have to drive somewhere to do their jobs. They only need access to the information with which they work. With today’s technology, knowledge workers may work anywhere.

Telework is the 21st Century paradigm for connecting knowledge workers with the knowledge they need to do their jobs.

The old paradigm is to continue to build roads, trains, buses, carpool parking lots, or other tools to move people to some physical location to work with knowledge. The new paradigm is to move the knowledge to the people who need it to do their job.

In today’s economy, perhaps a strategy that reduces the resources devoted to building and maintaining roads by simply taking people off them might be a good thing. This would help us win another battle, lower taxes.

The word “transportation” is defined as moving people around. I suggest it’s time to redefine that word to include moving information around.

Transportation authorities all need to incorporate telework strategies for incorporating today’s technology and public policy into transportation planning to take people off the roads. Broadband, wi-fi, cyber security, and telework friendly public policy are the tools that will help us get ahead of the problem of moving people around every morning and evening.

Using the right tools, we can focus on moving fewer people around.

The simple fact that telework is good public policy because it reduces the cost of Virginia’s transportation infrastructure and allows us to finally get ahead of the demand to get people to the knowledge they need to do their job. It improves public safety, reduces road building and maintenance costs, creates jobs, is good for our residents quality of life, keeps discretionary dollars in their communities instead of sending them “north.”

A few politicians “get it”. Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Frank Wolf successfully passed the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 mandating Federal Employees be allowed to telework. Congressman Connolly is now working on Telework 2.0 to extend this mandate to Federal Contractors. Virginia Delegate Rich Anderson is working with other Delegates to use telework to create jobs, reduce traffic, and improve the quality of life of Virginia residents. Delegates Anderson, Comstock, and Ramadan just hosted the first Northern Virginia Telework Summit to increase public awareness of its potential. Ramadan just successfully passed a telework tax credit in the Commonwealth’s House of Delegates. Governor McDonnell recognizes it’s a good idea.

I still do not see our transportation planners at all levels “connecting the dots” between telework and transportation planning. I haven’t found the Government entity who has re-defined their mission to include the tools and infrastructure to take people off the roads.

People are locked into mental models of the way things were. We need a few leaders who may ponder the way things could be: knowledge workers who stay here instead of commuting to Washington D.C. to do a job that they could just as easily do on their back deck, or Starbucks.

It’s not lost on me that one of the reasons government emphasizes roads at all levels is because that’s what our business infrastructure knows how to do. If all you are really good at is building more roads, you focus on building more roads. You also look for politicians who are interested in building more roads.

If there is a huge opportunity here for existing businesses to redefine themselves for “what’s next”, for existing businesses to expand and add jobs to meet the demand of a large percentage of the local population working within their community, and for new businesses to provide a range wide of services to support a telework community.

Telework is a business development opportunity. Prince William County’s Economic Development Team needs to integrate telework and the businesses it both attracts and creates into its strategy.

To do otherwise it to “miss” perhaps the 21st Century’s greatest tipping point in how people perform work and the business opportunities that come after the nature of work changes.

Hudson Taking Over Police Department ‘Renowned for its Reputation of Excellence’

Prince William County Police 

I am truly humbled and honored to be chosen to serve as just the third Police Chief of the Prince William County Police Department. As a career-long member of this Department, I am thankful and proud to have worked alongside dedicated officers and civilians who strive to provide exceptional service to the citizens of Prince William County.

I want to thank Lieutenant Colonel Barry Barnard for his leadership as the Acting Chief since Chief Deane retired on September 1, 2012. Over the past months, LTC Barnard has wisely guided this Department, with steadfast devotion to the well-being of the organization and to each of us. I am pleased to be making this transition with his unwavering support.

It was a privilege to work for Chief Deane for his entire 24 year tenure as Chief of Police, as well as for our first Police Chief, George T. Owens. Both men set an exemplary standard for our Department. Chief Owens founded this Department in 1970, and was responsible for laying its foundation of principled service and commitment. Chief Deane continued this tradition, earning international recognition for integrity and high standards. Because of their tireless and dedicated leadership, this Department is widely renowned for its reputation of excellence.

I have a deep personal commitment to this County, its government, and its citizens. I’ve lived in Prince William County since 1976 and graduated from Gar-Field High School. My wife works for the Prince William County School system, and we were blessed to have our children and now grandchildren here. I am very proud of this community and am privileged to now serve as its Chief of Police.

I was hired as a police officer with this Department in 1982 and have enjoyed many varied experiences since then.

Most recently, I served as Assistant Chief of the Operations Division and the Criminal Investigations Division. I also served as the commander of Special Operations, Internal Affairs, and the Vice/Narcotics Bureau. I had the pleasure of supervising units in CID, the Academy, and Patrol. As an officer and detective for over thirteen years, I served on the SWAT team, as an Academy Instructor, a plain clothes Detective, and a Patrol Officer. Each assignment increased my understanding of the diverse activities of our job. Every day brings progress and innovation. I will do my utmost to build on the Department’s many great strengths and help prepare our next generation of leaders for the complex challenges of the future.

I believe strongly in open communication, teamwork, creativity, and accountability to the citizens we serve. I cannot fully express how honored I am to have the opportunity to work alongside all of the members of our department as we serve the citizens of Prince William County together.

Cold Weather, Time Crunch Weighs on Those in Slug Lines

Slug Tales


 Man, I hate the cold.

That taste of 70-degree weather was such a tease, just to be followed by a dusting of snow at the end of the week. And unless the snow is significant enough to close the government, or at least get us a telework day, I’m not interested.

I hate walking our puppy in the snow; it’s too distracting for him and he only wants to eat the snow or play in it. I hate cleaning my car off in the morning, and I don’t drive well in icy conditions (really, does anyone?). But more than anything else, I dread slugging in the cold.

Learn more about PRTCThe walk from my car to the slug line in the morning and back in the evening seems so much longer in the cold, especially with that biting wind and all the nasty rain and snow we’ve had lately. It’s almost painful just to stand in the slug line, counting down the number of riders in front of you before you’re in a warm car.

As much as I love slugging, cold, dreary weather can make it pretty miserable. And the unpredictability of slugging, of not knowing how long you’ll be waiting in the slug line, freezing and shivering and pathetic, well, that’s pretty much the worst.

If you don’t slug, you may think I’m being overly dramatic. And if you do slug, and you hate the cold as much as I do, you know just how right I am about this.

Yesterday evening, I left my office just after 5 p.m. and, much to my dismay, walked out the door to find a very long slug line filled with people headed for the Horner Road Commuter lot in Woodbridge. My heart sank, as it usually does when this happens, and I trudged to the end of the line. Five minutes passed and then 10, then 20. It seemed the slug line was barely moving, and I silently cursed each car that created any sort of obstruction in the road, preventing slug drivers from possibly getting to us faster.

I tried counting all of the people waiting ahead of me in line, but stopped after about 12. It seemed hopeless. What if it gets too close to 6 p.m. when the restrictions are lifted in the HOV lanes, and I end up on the bus again? I stayed pretty calm when that happened last week, but I may not be able to handle it again tonight.

Finally, I got closer to the front of the line, but I refused to get my hopes up. I made that mistake last week, and then waited at the very front of the line until after 6 p.m. but wound up taking the Metro back to the Pentagon to take the commuter bus to my car to drive home. Yeah, it’s a trip.

I just couldn’t do it again.

Checking the time again, I continued to worry. After 5:30 p.m., and still no ride. And I wasn’t even next in line! Tomorrow, I need to bring gloves, I reminded myself. My hands were nearly frozen and I could picture them sitting in the passenger seat of my car, right where I left them that morning.

Next thing I knew, we were moving up again. Two people were in a car, with another car waiting behind them, and there went the next two. Finally, I was at the front of the line, and a few minutes later, there was my sweet, sweet chariot (or Ford Explorer, but whatever).

It was about 35 minutes of unpleasantly cold, sheer torture overall, but getting into that warm and toasty SUV and napping on the way back to the commuter lot was just what I needed. Of course, the bus runs on a more predictable timetable, but when something throws that schedule off, you can be stuck waiting, or worse – standing in the aisle the whole ride home. My preference is almost always to slug. Besides the possible wait time, it’s just faster than any other alternative.

As much as I hate the cold weather, I don’t love sweating in the scorching hot sun in the summertime, either. I’m sure I’ll be complaining about that in a few months, but for now, I’m just so over winter. Bring on the heat!

 Laura Cirillo works for the federal government and lives in Prince William County

Hylton Boys & Girls Club Plans Final Bingo Night

DALE CITY, Va. – All good things come to an end, and so is true for bingo at Hylton Boys and Girls Club in Dale City.

The popular Friday night attraction will end it’s run on Feb. 15. The final session will be called, appropriately, Achy Breaky Bingo.

“We’ve invited all of our old volunteers who gave a lot of their life and energy to making it a success,” said Prince William / Manassas Boys and Girls Clubs Director Glenn Vickers. “It will be good to have them all back for this.”

The Clubs once relied on the funds generated from bingo night, but an increased need to serve the community in other ways, and an increased enrollment at the Boys and Girls Clubs has prompted the organization to find new ways of raising funds, said Vickers.

“At one point, bingo made up six to eight percent of our annual funding, but now the clubs take into account for our formula for impact and have changed the way we fund our Clubs,” Vickers added.

Staff at the Boys and Girls Clubs will now focus winning more grant funding for the facilities.

The bingo sessions at the Hytlon Club begin at 6 p.m. and the players have their rituals, as many bring family photos and other family heirlooms to set up on tables to bring them luck.

Most games dole out prizes of $100, and a jackpot prize of $1,000 is also awarded at the bingo sessions.

NOVA Hockey Team Retiring Founder’s Jersey at Prince William Ice Center

For Potomac Local News 

DALE CITY , Va. – On Saturday, hockey players, students, and fans will gather at Northern Virginia Community College to watch the final game of the season and to honor former team captain Rob Lucier who died in October. Lucier’s #3 will officially be retired during a ceremony prior to the game.

“Rob was more than a Captain; he was a friend. Rob loved to talk about how he came up with the idea for a program- it was the pride of his life,” said NOVA Head Coach Barrett Haga. “Everywhere he went he talked about NOVA Hockey. Rob loved the game so much that he would teach hockey to his friends, and many of those friends play for NOVA today. His influence on the program will be felt for generations.”

Rob, who had recently relocated to Spartanberg, SC, tragically took his own life.

In 2009, Rob Lucier worked with officials at NOVA to use $3,000 from the student budget to buy 10 practice slots and fund one game. More than 30 interested students showed up to try out for the team and the NOVA hockey program was declared a success.

Current team co-captain Steve Morales appreciates how hard Lucier worked for the sport and for the school.

“I try not to take my time on this Earth for granted,” Morales said. “Rob put a lot of time and energy into this program and I’m sorry I never got to meet him.”

Head Coach Haga went on to say, “Rob was so proud of how far the program has come since that first practice at Mt. Vernon so long ago. We spent countless hours putting in the pieces needed to build this program. Retiring his jersey is the right thing to do to honor his memory.”

Lucier’s parents Gary and Debbie will be at the game in February and are touched by the retirement of his number.

“Although Rob certainly left a great legacy in the NOVA sports program, his direct or indirect impact on individual lives is what inevitably will mean the most,” said the Luciers. “We remain forever grateful to all those who befriended, advised, coached, and instructed our son Rob during his time at NOVA”

The hockey team will play against George Mason University at the “Battle of Northern Virginia” at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Prince William Ice Center in Dale City, states the team’s Facebook page.

Manassas’ Hylton Center Launching Lunchtime Performances

The Virginia Virtuosi [Submitted photo]

MANASSAS, Va. -- The Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas wants to be a lunchtime destination.

QuinTango [Submitted photo]

QuinTango [Submitted photo]

The center will begin hosting weekday performances following a catered lunch. The series, Matinee Idylls, will be held inside the center’s Gregory Family Theater.

More in a press release:

Matinee Idylls kicks off on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. with a buffet luncheon from Carmello’s, one of the fine dining restaurants in Old Town Manassas, followed by a one-hour concert by OperaBelle, a “soaring” trio of professional operatic sopranos, featuring Prince William’s own musical treasure, soprano Angela Knight, as well as soprano Katherine Keem and mezzo-soprano Anna Korsakova, in a program of thrilling arias, duets and ensembles. All three singers have performed with the Washington National Opera and Washington Concert Opera, and have had extensive solo concert careers.

OperaBelle [Submitted photo]

OperaBelle [Submitted photo]

The series continues on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. with lunch and then a performance by QuinTango. This critically acclaimed quintet of two violins, cello, bass and piano is dedicated to the musical performance of the sizzling art of tango. QuinTango was founded in 1995, and has been invited to perform at the White House, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., among others. The WAMMIE Award-winning ensemble also presents music education programs through the Washington Performing Arts Society.

The inaugural Matinee Idylls series concludes on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. with lunch and a performance by The Virginia Virtuosi, featuring three outstanding chamber musicians on violin, viola and bass who make the classics come to life. This performance, titled “Casual Classics,” features ensemble member Mark Bergman’smoving and elegant portrait of our nearby national park in “Shenandoah Suite.” The ensemble has performed throughout the greater Washington, D.C. area, including at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Kennedy Center, among others. The Virginia Virtuosi has also partnered with the Virginia Commission on the Arts on music education programming for youth and adults in the region.

A coffee and dessert reception is planned with the artists following each show. All told, the experience is expected to last two and a half hours, according to a Hylton Performing Arts spokeswoman.

Tickets for the show are $38 each and include lunch, the performance, and the dessert reception, and they can be purchased at the box office or online.

‘Grow Your Health’ Festival to Focus on Nutrition, Local Food

FAIRFAX, Va. – The Grow Your Health Wellness Festival, a project of the Northern Virginia Whole Foods Nutrition Meetup Group, will be held on March 10, 2013 from noon – 5 p.m. at Woodson High School in Fairfax.

The festival includes a screening of the food documentary, In Organic We Trust, a “pop-up”café selling local farm fresh meals from Fields of Athenry Farm’s Chef Wes Rosati (former Executive Chef at Lansdowne Resort), and classes and exhibits on gardening, school lunches, local food and wellness. Prominently featured in the film is the school garden at Watkins Elementary School in Washington DC.

Dr. Carmel Dekel Wiseman, DC, DICCP in Northern Virginia and Tel Aviv, originally had the vision for the Grow Your Health Wellness Festival after seeing the film at the Environmental Working Group conference last year. “I was originally concerned about the quality of the food my family eats and the direct impact that food has on my patients’ health. Then a vision formed of communities coming together to watch the film and developing local solutions such as learning to start your own garden, tending community and school gardens, and sourcing local food. The sky is the limit for what we can do to support our local economies, improve our health and create healthy thriving communities by coming together to improve the quality of our food.”

To empower festival attendees to improve the quality of the food they eat, start gardens and build community, classes and wellness exhibits after the film screening will support them to take action. Local gardening schools, Prior Unity Garden and Love & Carrots will offer classes.

· Gardening class topics include Starting Your First Garden, Managing Bugs and Pests without Chemicals, Feeding the Soil, Herb & Container Gardening, Gardening with Kids, and Advanced Gardening Methods (Biodynamic Permaculture and Foodscaping)

· A panel of local experts will discuss the solutions presented in the film: organizing school gardens, urban farming, better school lunches, and how to buy local.

· Local wellness exhibits include Bob’s Bakery, Prior Unity gardening services, Smart Markets, United Wellness Center, Vital Healthy Life, and Sunrise Nutritional Therapy.

Tickets are available online, at the door. More details can be found at grow-your-health.info. The advance sale ticket price of $10 adult, $5 children under 18 (babies free), includes the movie and either a gardening class or panel discussion. Lunch is purchased separately. Tickets at the door will be $15. Proceeds from this event over and above expenses will be donated to support the nutrition education efforts of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Direct media inquiries to Kimberly Hartke at 703-860-2711.


Our Favorite Super Bowl XLVII Commercials

With rates as high as $3.75 million for a 30 second Super Bowl TV commercial, Advertisers, if nothing else, want to leave a lasting impression on you.

So, did it work?

A number of new commercials played during the big game Sunday night. Pepsi, Doritos, Volkswagen, Audi, and others used humor to drive home their marketing message.

Here are some of our favorites. Tell us which commercials you liked best.

Go Daddy kiss

Oreo whisper fight

Volkswagen get in, get happy

Audi prom kiss

Taco Bell viva young

M&Ms pinata

Mom Blocked from Child’s Facebook Page: Is it Fair?

Mom on the Run


It’s a quiet weeknight and I’m home alone. It’s not quite bedtime, I’ve already checked email, I don’t feel alert enough to read a book or do a crossword puzzle, so TV it is. I scan the list of DVRed shows – does anybody watch TV as it airs anymore? – and settle on “How I Met Your Mother.” A half-hour show, no brains required, perfect.

As the show runs I putter around. I’m up and down, up and down, doing little things. The dogs go out, then scratch at the door 012113 Freedom center_edited-1to come back in. I look over, see a drink bottle, carry it to the recycling bin. I think about tomorrow and set out my son’s lunchbox, just to save myself a minute in what is always a rushed morning.

I don’t pay much attention to the show: no brains required.

Until one of the characters comments that her dad has sent her a Facebook friend request. “No, no!” cry her friends. “Don’t do it!”

What? Riveted, I move into the family room, perch on the edge of the sofa. I lean forward, listening hard. I need information. The characters on-screen – in their late 20s and early 30s, I think – helpfully complain about how terrible it is to be Facebook friends with their parents. Not that they don’t want their parents to know what they’re doing, but their parents’ own postings, the characters whine, are inappropriate, repetitive, and annoying.

Huh. I sit back, and consider. My 21-year-old daughter, currently a junior in college and studying abroad for the semester, recently blocked me from her Facebook page. I can see the pictures and comments she had added before she blocked me, and I can see a recent post where she mentioned me, but that’s it. And I don’t know why.

It’s embarrassing, being blocked by my own kid. It seems unfair. I just wired her a pile of cash for the semester abroad. The post where she mentioned me is actually thanking me for sending her a care package – at great expense, to fly all the way to Europe. I’m a good mom!

And even worse, my daughter hasn’t blocked my friends. We have 108 mutual friends – 108! – and it is embarrassing when Christy asks, “Oh my gosh, don’t you love those shoes she bought?” and I have no idea what the shoes look like.

When Donna exclaims, “I love all the pictures she’s posting!” I can’t talk with her about them. And when Steve from church, who barely knows my first-born, says, “It sounds like she’s having a great time over there!” I can only nod.

I can’t figure out how to fix it. When she left to spend a weekend in Berlin I emailed, “Since I can’t see your Facebook page, please text me occasionally so I know you’re alive.” I got an “OK” in response, but no confirmation that she picked up on the hint.

I asked her brother: “Do you know why your sister blocked me on Facebook?” and he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know. She didn’t block me.” And I mentioned it to my husband, who is not blocked, hoping he would pull rank and tell her to re-friend me, but either he hasn’t asked, or she hasn’t complied. Sighhh.

So now, watching “How I Met Your Mother,” I have to reconsider: was it my posts? I don’t play Farmville or any of those games. I don’t write and upload book reports. I don’t think I have embarrassing posts, and I virtually never link her to them, anyway.

And now, reminded of my social media humiliation, I sink deep into the sofa and pout. My kid has blocked me from Facebook. And apparently that’s normal and funny enough to become sit-com fodder. Stupid show. I pick up the remote, turn it off, and go to bed.

Snowflakes Fall Across Area Sunday

Snowflakes fall over Lake Montclair in Prince William County. [Photo: Mike Stalter]

Snow fell across the region today. Here’s a view of the fat flakes as they fell over Lake Montclair in Prince William County.

The snow came on a Sunday when traffic volume on most area roads is lighter than normal. Little if any of the snow accumulated.

More snow showers are expected Monday and Tuesday nights with little to no accumulation possible, the National Weather Service states.

This Super Bowl, is 3 Remotes Too Many for 1 Old School TV?

Mary Davidson

Mary Davidson

The big question on everyone’s minds today seems to be, will it be the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens.

One thing for sure is the big party will not be at my house. I may be the only one out there that still has an old school big box TV — not the flat screen type. And I only have one at that.

This one TV requires three remotes, go figure. Sure I could scrape up the change to get a new flat screen TV, but the one I have still works and I refuse to just throw it out.

A family member told me even Goodwill won’t take them any more!

The Super Bowl party I have been invited to is at a family member’s home. They have multiple flat screen TVs, including one in a theater restroom, just so you don’t miss any thing.

And get this: only one remote is needed!

The Rules of Prince William’s Most Expensive Board Game

Contributing Editor

Players are broken up into two teams, the Reds and the Blues. They come in different shades ranging from scarlet to pink, baby blue, to midnight. The color of a piece determines the moves the public may expect it to make. They play behind a wooden board called a Dias.

They may switch colors or shades at will. Sometimes they all turn purple.

Like all games, it’s a math problem. It’s more like Chess than Checkers. Graduate level courses on political calculus are necessary to really understand or play the game well.

It takes five votes to get anything done in Prince William County — five votes.

With six red and two blue pieces on the board, one would think that the game always comes to a quick end. That is seldom the case. Imagine those eight pieces constantly changing shades of color. Never changing shades, or never being one of those five votes, makes a piece irrelevant to the game and not worth watching.

Pieces may collect IOU’s for future votes and “trade moves” to win by losing. They keep track of the moves they trade. Every piece needs to win occasionally regardless of color, and those “IOU’s” come in handy when its time to collect.

Like Monopoly, this game is about money.

All of the wealth of Prince William County is like that money and those houses and hotels in the Monopoly box. Last year, the game cost $2.5 billion.

The goal is to get as much of it as you can and spend it on things to improve your position on the Board. While its ok to take a “chance” once and awhile, “going directly to jail” is something you want to avoid.

There are few rules. All of the pieces are kings. They have absolute discretion in the moves they make, however, they are limited to the number of moves available. They only have two choices: yes or no. The pieces make up the rules as they go along, and they all play to their own rules (which may be changed at will).

Score is kept electronically. The public may see who wins or loses individual moves by watching a set of red or green lights record their latest move.

People desiring to influence the game may do so by speaking directly to the players, or by paying campaign contributions.

The cynical suspect that we aren’t really watching the game at all, and that the real moves occur off the board. We wonder who is really playing? Surprise outcomes are not unusual.

Who is really moving the pieces? If you take your eyes off the board for a while and connect a few dots, you can figure it out.

A new set of the game starts every year. We call preparing for a new set of the game called Budget Season, where the players refill the Monopoly box with our money. The goal is to take “just enough” to stay in the game for four more years. “Too much” is a relative value judgment. The Red players differ on what is “too much” while the blue players think in terms of “never enough”.

While the pieces in the game make the moves, we ultimately have the power. We pay for the game. For the Reds and Blues, the tricky part is convincing the public that they are spending it on things that are really part of the game.

The game comes to an end every four years, and then we start over. The goal for a piece is to survive for another game.

Occasionally, a piece stops enjoying the game and drops off the board because the game isn’t as much fun for some as it used to be. In the past the pieces moved around in relative obscurity with little public interest in their moves. Now, many of us watch the game closely these days.

That’s changing the moves on the board, and perhaps the game itself.

Like all games, you can’t win if you don’t play. After all, its our money.

Deployed to Afghanistan, Stafford Soldier Refuses to Miss Polar Plunge

Soldier Steve Costa, of Stafford, deployed to Afghanistan six months ago but swore he wound't miss the Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics of Virginia. [Submitted photo]

Potomac Local News Features Editor

Just because he’s been deployed to Afghanistan doesn’t mean Steve Costa will miss this year’s Polar Plunge at Virginia Beach.

The solider from Stafford, along with hundreds of other supporters of Special Olympics of Virginia, will dive into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Feb. 2 to raise money for the organization that supports athletes with disabilities.

Though he’s still in Afghanistan, this event is something Costa swore he wouldn’t miss. After being deployed six months ago, he decided to pull together 10 to 12 of his fellow soldiers who are also deployed, and they ordered a large backyard pool and planed to plunge on that day with all of the other Plungers at Virginia Beach.

“To date, he and his co-workers have raised closed to $4,000. They’ve been asking for donations from their friends, from their loved ones, their co-workers, from everyone they know,” said Special Olympics Virginia spokesman Tim Doyle.

Costa’s love for Special Olympics stems from his experience as a coach for the games.

“I have been a Special Olympics coach for over two years now. A very good friend, Ms. Theresa Wink, invited me to help at a practice one day – and next thing you know, I was attending each week. There’s nothing like the smiles on the kid’s faces when they earn their medals – it’s truly rewarding,” stated Costa in an email to Potomac Local News.

This 17th annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics of Virginia has served as one of its largest fundraisers, and has spawned other Polar Plunge events throughout the state. In addition to the Plunge, there will be a festival with live bands, sand and ice sculpting, a 5K race, and a Peewee Plunge for tots to test the frigid waters.

And while the end result is all fun and games, participants worked hard to become a part of the plunge, raising a minimum of $100 each. These plungers have gotten creative by hosting parties, using social media, and asking all of their loved ones and social networks to donate. This has been a great success for the Special Olympics of Virginia, said Doyle.

And Doyle isn’t surprised by Costa’s decision to make the plunge in Afghanistan. He believes it showcases the type of volunteer that he is.

“It’s a very strong statement of how committed he is – how much he believes in our program that he would actually consider doing that while he’s over there in harm’s way. I don’t believe you can get much stronger than that. Steve is just like many, many of our volunteers. He’s very dedicated to our program, he helps us year round,” Doyle said.

The money that is raised from Costa’s group and the other Plungers will allow the Special Olympics of Virginia to host their year-round calendar of activities for individuals with both intellectual and combination intellectual-physical disabilities.

“[Raised funds] are used to fund Special Olympics programs throughout the whole year. A lot of people have the misconception that the Special Olympics is a one time event, when in fact, Special Olympics is something that goes on every day. The Special Olympics provides year round sports, training and competition to people with intellectual disabilities. They are solely funded through the generosity of the community,” said Doyle.

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Winter in Afghanistan. [Submitted photo]

Sentara Offers Virtual Doctors Visits to Combat Flu

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Now you can fight the flu through your telephone or computer.

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center now offers patients the option of calling a phone number to speak with a doctor. The service, Sentara MDLIVE, is also available online and patients can use their webcams, according a press release.

During the consultation, doctors will be able to diagnose and prescribe medications if necessary.

More in a press release from Sentara:

How does it work?

Log on to www.mdlive.com or call 1-800-335-4836 to get started. For less than the cost of a visit to an urgent care or emergency room, you’ll consult with a board-certified doctor using your computer and a webcam or the telephone. Virtual appointments are usually scheduled within minutes of registration and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sentara MDLIVE doctors will diagnose, recommend treatment and prescribe medications when necessary – including Tamiflu. They send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy of your choice.

Log on to www.mdlive.com or call 1-800-335-4836 to make an appointment and get relief without the wait.

New to virtual appointments? Check out these tips as you make your first appointment with Sentara MDLIVE.

Your living room can be a doctor’s office.

Prior to your appointment with Sentara MDLIVE, take your temperature and gather a list of the medications you currently are taking including vitamins and herbal supplements.

Lists and questions are helpful.

The doctor will ask you questions to understand your medical history and symptoms. Before your visit, jot down key information such as your symptoms, when they began and how you are currently feeling. Also, write down any questions you have to be sure they’re addressed during your virtual appointment.

Jot down your pharmacy contact info.

Have the name, address and phone number of your pharmacy ready in case the doctor needs to send a prescription for you.

Eliminate distractions when it’s time for your virtual appointment.

Find a quiet space when it’s time for your appointment. Eliminate background noise as much as possible – for example, turn off the television in the background or find a room away from other family members.

Virtual visits can play an important role in your healthcare.

Virtual visits can provide you with convenient access to a quality doctor, and can serve as an important first step in getting you the treatment you need. However, telehealth is not appropriate to use in an emergency. It also doesn’t replace your primary care doctor. Be sure to follow up with your primary care doctor if your condition does not improve or you start to feel worse.

Virtual visits may be covered by your health insurance or qualify as a reimbursable HAS expense.

Some insurance plans cover all or a portion of virtual visits. Check with your insurance plan first to be sure your visit is covered, if not the consult is available for the low $45 fee. If you have a Healthcare Spending Account (HSA), keep your receipt as virtual visits often qualify as an expense for most HSAs.

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Workshop Scheduled Wednesday

LAKE RIDGE, Va. – Coping with Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult, so that’s why an area senior citizens home wants to help families recognize the signs of the disease.

A special seminar will be held at the Westminster of Lake Ridge where the top 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s will be discussed.

More in a press release:

The 10 warning signs include:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

4. Confusion with time or place

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

8. Decreased or poor judgment

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

10. Changes in mood and personality

One in eight older Americans, some 5.4 million people, is living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the nation that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

The workshop starts at 1:30 p.m. and goes until 4 o’clock Wednesday, Jan. 30. Those involved with the workshop said early detection of Alzheimer’s is important because patients can begin drug therapy, enroll in clinical studies, and plan for the future.

Mom Reflects on Son’s Love of Football, Upcoming Ride to Norfolk State University

Cameron Marouf, 18, a senior at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, will head to Norfolk State University to play the punter position for the school’s football team. (Submitted photo)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Nancy Marouf’s 18-year–old son, Cameron, a senior at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, will attend Norfolk State University on a full scholarship to be the football team’s punter. Being from northern Iraq, Marouf said football was an adjustment for their family as their American-born son taught them the rules of the game.

More in a first-hand account from Nancy Marouf on her son’s achievement:

Cameron Marouf, only child of Salam and Nancy Marouf, first generation Kurdish (northern Iraq) American, is a natural athlete with keen eyesight and a talented foot. Educated in Prince William County schools – Henderson, Porter Traditional and now Forest Park, he is a hometown child. Although he has played T-ball, baseball, a lifetime of recreational soccer and a bit of travel soccer, his greatest athletic gift, at this point, has been as the punter and kicker on the football field.

With the arrival of Coach Coccoli in 2011, Forest Park’s head football coach, there was a need for a kicker. Coach Qura, Cameron’s soccer coach at Forest Park, suggested several young men. Cameron just happened to have been the first telephone call. Although understanding Coach Coccoli’s need, we were quite surprised by the opportunity. Cameron tried out and Coccoli that noticed Cameron’s foot. He said,

“Cameron has a division one foot,” said the coach.

“Don’t play with me as we don’t know anything about this football world,” I replied.

And, the party started. All of this was a new world.

We took Cameron to several kicking camps/classes – Before you Kick (held at UVA); Coach Doug Blevins (former NFL coach); Virginia Tech camp (met Coach Beamer), and some other local camps in the area.

With a dad that only knew soccer to transition into football was a feat in itself. His dad didn’t know about cheerleaders, what “starting” meant, the bands, halftime, etc. It was truly a story in itself to watch this transition.

It took about three games for dad to decide we had to be there at 6 p.m. to watch Cameron kick and prepare for the game. The most I could contribute was being the best cheerleader. So many parents who have been involved in football for years were so forthcoming and welcoming. We couldn’t ask for more. They also enjoyed dad’s transition from soccer to football!

Fall 2011 and fall of 2012 were our only football seasons. Cameron had no less than 6 – 8 people in his cheering section at every game. Everyone from family, day care providers, neighbors, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandpa, great uncles and aunts, our company clients, etc. were there to support him.

I was researching all that I could find about college football, recruiting, colleges, divisions and asking the coaches too many questions. Technology was a large part of this process between videos and emails. By the time the season was finished, the college coaches began to stop by the school, call us at home and or email the coach. It was coming at us from all sides.

I had to make a file box to keep the information organized as there was so much of it and coming to us so quickly. For about three weeks in December, Cameron was coming home on a daily basis to tell us about the coach and school he had met that particular day. We had inquiries from Assumption College in Maine, Stevenson College, ODU, Bridgewater, University of Richmond, Ferrum, and Norfolk State.

We were invited By Coach Butler and Head Coach Adrian, of Norfolk State, for an official visit in January. It was a great experience and reconfirmed our concerns for a healthy successful academic support system.

The bonus was the connection from the head coach to his staff. He will have tutors, scheduled study time, a personal punting/kicking coach, practice clothes, away game clothes, home game clothes and shoes. We could not ask for more as parents.

He has been taught how to take care of his room, home responsibilities and his laundry. We have felt that we are on a cloud and just can’t believe what we are experiencing. We just know it has all been a gift from God for this plan for our family.

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Cameron Marouf, 18, a senior at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, will head to Norfolk State University to play the punter position for the school’s football team. (Submitted photo)

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