Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479.

Spring is a magical time in the D.C. Metro area, where cherry blossoms bloom, temperatures warm up, and outdoor activities abound.

Whether you’re a local Fairfax resident aspiring to become a D.C. tourist or just ready for some spring fun around the area, there are plenty of exciting things to do and explore during this vibrant season.

Become an Outdoor Explorer

Take advantage of the mild weather to explore the region’s parks and outdoor spaces. Visit Great Falls Park for breathtaking views of the Potomac River and hiking trails, or head to Shenandoah National Park for a day of scenic drives and wildlife spotting. Additionally, local parks like Burke Lake Park, Rock Creek Park, and Theodore Roosevelt Island offer serene settings for picnics and outdoor recreation near Fairfax County.

Become the Historian of the Family or a Museum Junkie

Spring is an ideal time to explore the area’s wealth of museums and historic landmarks. In Fairfax County check out the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center, Reston Museum, Lucy Burns Museum, Gunston Hall, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.

Of course, you can also wander through world-class museums in D.C. that are free, such as the National Museum of American History and the National Gallery of Art, to immerse yourself in art, culture, and history. Don’t forget to visit iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol Hill for a glimpse into the nation’s past and present.

Outdoor Dining and Farmer’s Market Guru

Indulge in the diverse culinary scene of Northern Virginia and D.C. by dining al fresco at local restaurants and cafes. Many establishments offer outdoor seating options, allowing you to savor delicious meals while soaking up the sunshine. Additionally, explore the vibrant farmers’ markets in the area, such as Mosaic, Fairfax City, Reston, Eastern Market and Dupont Circle, to sample fresh produce, artisanal goods, and gourmet treats.

Outdoor Festivals and Events

Spring brings a flurry of festivals and events to the region, celebrating everything from music and art to food and culture. Attend the Virginia Gold Cup, a beloved horse racing event held in May, or explore neighborhood festivals like the Manassas Spring Carnival, Earth Day Fairfax, Shipgarten’s Sour & Gummies Festival, and Reston StreetFest. Check local event calendars for the latest happenings and plan your spring itinerary accordingly.

With its array of outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and culinary delights, spring in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. offers something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re admiring flowers blooming, exploring historic landmarks, or indulging in local cuisine, make the most of this season in our area!

Sharmane Medaris | Live Fairfax | www.soldbysharmane.com | [email protected] | @soldbysharmane | 813-504-4479 | 374 Maple Avenue Suite 202, Vienna, VA 22180

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

McLean-based Golden Boot Soccer has been a leader in youth soccer skill development and fun for nearly 30 years, and this summer features even more of their popular camps.

These morning, half-day and full-day programs for ages 3 to 13 combine positive, professional trainers with engaging activities and challenges, often featuring their signature cogno-technical approach.

“Cognitive training is a fancy way of saying we train the body and brain together,” says Golden Boot president and founder Tamir Linhart.

Tamir Linhart

“Our specialized curriculum improves soccer intelligence, reaction time, decision-making, situational awareness, and memory, while also developing technical skills such as passing, receiving, dribbling and finishing. The result is players who are always thinking ahead and are able to make positive and intelligent decisions on the field.”

Cognitive training is folded into each Golden Boot session, using innovative and creative activities appropriate to each level.

This summer, Golden Boot offers a variety of options for all ages and levels, including special camps for travel players, a VIP week featuring college and professional coaches, and an international week focused on Italian pro clubs. Most weeks feature morning Lil’ Boots camps for ages 3-4 and 5-6, plus half-day or full-day options such as Ball Mastery (ages 7-8), Positive Touch Footskills (ages 9-13), Art of Scoring Goals (ages 9-13) and Goalkeeper Training (ages 8-13). All full-day camps include indoor access, giving players air-conditioned breaks throughout the day.

“We plan our schedules with kids’ needs in mind,” explains Linhart.

In addition to Fairfax, Golden Boot has more camps planned in McLean, Vienna, Burke and Arlington, plus weekly skills classes on Saturday mornings.

If there’s one thing that’s constant at Golden Boot, it’s their commitment to innovation and growth.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Live Fairfax: Seasons 52

Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479.

In the heart of Tysons Corner, Seasons 52 offers a culinary experience that celebrates the best of each season. With a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients and a commitment to calorie-conscious dining with an ambiance that will provide an elevated experience every time.

One thing that I definitely appreciate and have experienced first hand is the reality that Seasons 52 takes pride in crafting dishes that are not only delicious but also mindful of calorie counts with nutritional values.

By utilizing natural ingredients and innovative cooking techniques, they create flavorful meals without compromising on health. From vibrant salads to succulent entrees, each dish is thoughtfully prepared to provide a balanced and satisfying dining experience.

If you are planning a special occasion you definitely want to check out the unique event space with customized menus that will wow you attendees. Why settle for your typical ballroom space?

Get the insider scoop with this exclusive video with Managing Partner,  Matt Beverley. You will definitely want to add this to your dining adventures!

Sharmane Medaris | Live Fairfax | www.soldbysharmane.com | [email protected] | @soldbysharmane | 813-504-4479 | 374 Maple Avenue Suite 202, Vienna, VA 22180

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

Gone are the days when spas were simply places where you would choose from a menu of three or four massage options. Today, trends in day spas and the self-care industry are in step with a broader trend of personalized wellness.

“People today want products and services that are customized to their specific needs, whether related to skin care or body work,” says William Wesley Myers, assistant vice president of wellness strategies for Mather, the organization that recently opened The Mather, a Life Plan Community for those 62 and better in Tysons, Virginia. “This trend is not surprising — it’s similar to what’s happening in other wellness areas, such as boutique fitness centers and exercise studios, the prevalence of personal training, and even individualized dietary supplement plans.”

The spa at The Mather, called Marzenia (the Polish word for hopes or aspirations), offers luxury services that are based on a mix of high-tech and holistic features. For example, residents might begin their spa visit at the Blend Bar, which features a live herb wall, collection of dried herbs and aromatics, and library of global wellness recipes. Working with a spa professional, they can concoct their own unique natural therapies, whether that means mixing a detoxifying mud or making a revitalizing scrub. “We offer a range of solutions that’s as diverse as the needs they meet, each crafted to address specific conditions of the skin and body,” explains William.

Holistic treatments such as this are a powerful spa trend. “People today are more conscious of what they put in — and on — their bodies,” says William. “By offering natural ingredients and therapies, we avoid introducing chemicals and, at the same time, lessen our community’s environmental footprint.” The Mather is working with Comfort Zone, an Italian company that uses natural products with a focus on global sustainability. “We use their line of regenerative, effective, and sustainable face and body products, treatments, and rituals, which are developed in a scientific botanical garden in Parma, Italy,” says William.

Residents of The Mather can also enjoy the all-natural therapeutic benefits of Marzenia’s Breath Lounge, which features a wall of Himalayan sea salt and a halogenerator that releases microscopic salt particles into the air. “Evidence-based research shows that this treatment promotes respiratory health, reduces inflammation, and enhances relaxation,” says William. “Regular sessions can significantly enhance your overall wellness, offering both physical and mental health benefits.”

Another spa trend, which may seem to be the flip side of holistic treatments, is offerings based on technology. “Today’s consumers are not afraid to embrace high-tech options, particularly when we can show them the research backing up the outcomes,” says William.

One example of this is the Gharieni Welnamis spa wave bed, which uses computer-controlled vibrational therapy and audio frequencies to train the brain to relax. Similar to meditation, certain sounds heard through stereo headphones slow mental activity, while the bed’s vibrational frequencies target the body’s energy centers.

“The wave bed can specifically target stress, depression, and poor sleep, as well as headaches and difficulty focusing,” says William. “The technology was developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorders of American veterans — but we offer it to allow residents to select their desired wellness journey.”

Another wellness-tech option available in The Mather: a private sauna, which uses infrared light therapy to boost circulation, relieve muscle tension, and promote cellular renewal. “This advanced technology gently heats the body, promoting deep muscle relaxation, enhancing detoxification, and boosting circulation, all within a comfortably warm environment. It’s an ideal start to stimulate your body’s natural healing process,” says William.

Those interested in self-care have so many more options now than in the recent past; it should be easy to build effective, personalized treatments that target personal goals and needs, whether that treatment involves live herbs or audio frequencies. “Everyone’s wellness journey is unique, and there’s no reason you can’t use a spa visit to create your very own transformative experience,” says William.

The Mather in Tysons, VA, for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be. It opened in March 2024.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

If you’re asking, “how can I spice things up in the bedroom?,” then you’re asking the wrong question. The real solution, according to Espinoza Therapy, is understanding what’s holding you back.

It’s not about trying new tricks to spark romance. It’s about figuring out the obstacles that block intimacy every day.

These obstacles might be:

  • Mental health issues, like stress or anxiety
  • General tiredness or exhaustion with your life
  • Tension in your relationship caused by ongoing arguments

All of these can seriously affect how you feel about connection, romance and pleasure.

So what should you be asking instead?

Start by identifying the blocks to intimacy in your life, and working together with your partner to overcome them. This will create a stronger bond and a more intimate atmosphere. The key is knowing that relationships – and the people in them – are complicated. Real intimacy needs honest communication, understanding, and empathy.

If you want to dig deeper with the guidance of a qualified therapist, contact Espinoza Therapy for a free 15 minute video consultation.

Let us help you communicate better with your partner, for a more intimate and satisfying relationship!

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA and D.C. with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

The Vienna Jammers is a percussion ensemble with more than 135 children ranging from age 8 to 18 based in Vienna. Their ensemble members are devoted to sharing their passion for music with the community. The Jammers were created and are run by a beloved Vienna Elementary School teacher, Dave Reynolds.

The Big Jam is their biggest event of the year! Each of their ensembles will be performing a variety of originals, cover songs, and traditional pieces from around the world, with music guaranteed to entertain audience members of all ages.

The kids perform at Capital One Hall on Saturday, April 13th at 7pm (doors open at 6:30pm). This year the special guest is Yasmin Williams, a local musician and guitarist.

You may have seen the Jammers in the Vienna Halloween Parade on their float or when they play on the Town Green at ViVa Vienna every Memorial Day. It’s a great way to expose kids to some music options if they’re at all interested in getting involved. It’s also a fun show to watch.

Tickets start at $15.

I’m not only a sponsor of the event, but I’m also the mom of two Jammers. It’s a great organization and it’s one of my favorite days of the year.

Capital One Hall (via Capital One Hall/Facebook)

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A world of inspiring flavor

Intriguing international dishes. Flavorful fresh ingredients and from-scratch recipes. Inspired, ever-changing menus. An in-house beverage program featuring craft cocktails and an enviable wine list.

These are all things you might enjoy at a five-star resort or world-class hotel… and you’ll also find them at The Mather, a Life Plan Community for those 62 and better that opened in Tysons this month.

“It’s time to scrap outdated ideas about food and beverage offerings in senior living,” says Thad Parton, AVP of Restaurant Operations for Mather, the parent organization of The Mather. “Residents at The Mather are connoisseurs of fine food and wine, world travelers, and discerning diners who seek out top-rated restaurants wherever they live and travel. Our menus and experiences are designed to meet their expectations and tastes.”

Each of The Mather’s three restaurants, as well as its bar and lounge, has a distinct menu, and all are rotated regularly to offer creative new selections. Menus showcase cuisines from around the world including sushi, Berkshire Pork Bao, Mushroom Biryani, and crab cakes with mango-habanero salsita.

The Mather’s enticing food and beverage program is supported by the culinary standards and philosophy of Mather. Mather has been highlighted by the New York Times as a prime example of senior living residences offering residents top chefs and “foodie delights.”

The Mather takes local, seasonal food to the next level, adding inspired touches from inside their community:

  • A dedicated bake shop/pastry shop features a German-made, state-of-the-art bread oven.
  • On-site honey production by Italian honeybees will be available (starting late spring 2024) through a partnership with an urban beekeeping program.
  • Specially trained team members make coffee and espresso drinks to order, using beans from an Alexandria-based coffee roaster.
  • A hydroponic micro-farm provides opportunity for year-round fresh herbs and edible flowers to be used for special culinary events and resident programs.

In addition to these special touches, The Mather will use technology to enhance residents’ culinary experiences. A country club-style plan allows them to draw on a prepaid account for meals, drinks, guest meals and private catering, CUISINE2GO food, and more. They can also use an in-house app to order food for pickup or delivery and make restaurant reservations. And a robot server will be on-hand in the restaurants to help with bussing tables and delivering food.

“The Mather restaurants and event spaces are truly inspiring us to take our culinary processes, creativity, and service to the next level,” says Thad. “It’s been rewarding for our team to break new ground while we build a cutting-edge food and beverage program for residents.”

The Mather, which opened in March 2024 in Tysons, VA, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Reston celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and remains a model of a true planned community — one that stresses quality of life and the ability for residents to live, work and play in their own community.

Founder Robert E. Simon had that goal of quality of life and common shared scenic beauty, and those guiding principles remain, even as Reston has changed over the years. 

Today, Reston Association and its Board of Directors are the ones tasked with ensuring we have a community that is sustainable, inclusive, and resilient. It is those qualities that make Reston a great place for people to call home. Those qualities are fundamental to maintaining excellent property values and our prized community amenities. So it’s important that all of us within Reston Association take time to cast votes this month in our annual Board of Directors election.

A total of four seats are open in this year’s election, and the candidates for each seat have shared priorities and goals. These individuals are the ones tasked with guiding the policies and procedures for the Association, approving the annual budget and assessment, and helping to ensure Reston remains a unique and welcoming community.

If you value being a part of the Reston community and want to ensure its place in the future, I urge you to take a moment to learn about the candidates and cast your vote in the Board of Directors election. Ballots were mailed to all households within the Association and must be either mailed back or submitted online no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, April 1, 2024. The results of the election will be announced at the 2024 Annual Members’ Meeting on Tuesday, April 9. All RA members are invited to attend the reception and meeting; registration is required.

By Ed Abbott, Chair, Reston Association Elections Committee

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

What do I do if school doesn’t fit my kid?

That’s the question that so many of the parents and families ask when they’re looking at small independent schools like The Howard Gardner School. There are any number of reasons that their current school might not fit.  

  • “My son is surviving, but they definitely aren’t thriving” 
  • “My daughter stopped doing gymnastics, and doesn’t ride horses anymore. She just does schoolwork.”
  • “I don’t think the school ever really ‘got’ my kid… they’re just different”

These are quotes pulled from parents looking at HGS this year. Our families are a diverse group from all different backgrounds. Our students are just as varied with all kinds of reasons for being at The Howard Gardner School. The common thread is that school wasn’t working.

When school — as we think of it now — was invented, in the 1800s, it was in answer to the industrial revolution. Desks in rows and columns, classrooms with the same number of students as factories had workers in each shift. Even a curriculum contained by four walls and a textbook, set to a standardized approach for a standardized set of goals.  

A few things have changed in the last two hundred years  

Public school in the United States was and is a ground-breaking, crucial program with an audacious mandate: Educate every single citizen of the most diverse nation in the history of the world. Public educators are dedicated professionals seeking to do just that — but the mandate is virtually impossible. What works for one student might be antithetical to the needs of another. What makes one kid excited might make another kid anxious. As a result, typical schools seek to do the most that they can for as many students as they can. It’s a laudable and practical approach to a truly difficult circumstance.

But what if your kid doesn’t fit?

The parents, families, and kids who are exploring The Howard Gardner School are obviously considering a new school setting. It’s a wonderful truth that this region has an incredible array of top tier public and private schools. In particular, this area’s set of intentionally small schools is truly impressive. The Washington Small Schools Association and the Virginia Small Schools Association can provide interested families with information and ideas about how to find a school that fits. 

In fact, the admissions staff at these small schools will take the time and effort to help each individual student find and access the best possible fit for them. Because each small school can be a different place — with programs, teachers, even campuses that fit different kinds of kids.  

At The Howard Gardner School, we work with a very small number of students, in very small classes, designed around experiential programming. For instance, we take thirty-six field trips per year. Our students have multiple overnight travel opportunities each school year. And because of the needs of the teenage brain, we start the school day at 10 a.m. If sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, or slogging through another two hours of homework at night isn’t the right fit for your kid, HGS could help you find a better one.

Our mission here at The Howard Gardner School is to help bright, creative, non-traditional students use their unique strengths to thrive academically, intellectually, and emotionally. 

Please check out our website at www.TheHowardGardnerSchool.org, and call or email to learn more about how to find the best fit for your kid.

There is a place where each young person can find their fit and thrive. The process is a bit like being in a dark room — the hard part isn’t turning on the light, it’s finding the switch.

The Howard Gardner School
Serving bright, creative, non-traditional learners in grades 6-12
Alexandria, VA & Sterling, VA
703-822-9300

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA and D.C. with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Last week you may have read some headlines about how the “6% real estate commission” as we know it is dead. There was a class action lawsuit that the National Association of Realtors ® agreed to settle last week for $418M. Here’s what you need to know about how that impacts you:

What the lawsuit was about

There was an argument that real estate commissions were fixed and it wasn’t clear that the seller was also paying the buyer’s commission. Worth noting: the original lawsuit was filed in Missouri where real estate practice may differ from the way we do things in the D.C. Metro area. We have ALWAYS had forms that the seller signs and that the buyer is required to sign to create representation agreements that clearly spelled out how, and how much, agents were getting paid. And buyers and sellers have always had options of how much service they want and what they were willing to pay for it — always.

What this means moving forward

Part of the lawsuit settlement, if approved, includes the following changes to how real estate is done — the MLS will no longer have a buyer agent commission (also known as selling agent) listed as part of the advertisement. In fact, the MLS will be prohibited from publicly offering one starting mid July of 2024.

There are lots of details to be worked out, including a court approving this settlement, but here’s what you really need to know about buying and selling real estate in the coming months:

  1. Until July, you might see subtle changes but the big changes won’t take effect until then.
  2. Sellers CAN still choose to offer compensation to the buyer’s agent, but how that’s advertised will be different — still TBD.
  3. Buyers who want their own representation will now have to pay for their own agent. You will have to discuss this with your real estate agent and have a signed agreement prior to seeing any houses. 
  4. Buyers can ask for closing cost credit from the sellers as part of their offer to cover the commission of their agent, if they don’t want to or can’t come out of pocket to pay the agent directly as part of their closing costs. Sellers can agree or disagree.

There are parts that bother me that I think got severely overlooked:

  1. Buyers who plan to use a VA Loan (used by our Veterans and/or active duty military) are NOT allowed to pay any fees related to a real estate agent as part of their loan. They don’t even have the option. So unless the VA figures out how to handle this new policy, there’s a lot of uncertainty related to using a VA loan and representation.
  2. First time buyers and FHA buyers — usually believed to be smaller down payments (FHA is a 3.5% minimum and a conventional loan can be as little as 3%), will now also have to come up with more money to pay at closing to hire an agent unless they can get a seller credit to off-set the cost.

I believe the intent of this was to make the process clearer — and that’s a good thing — but the experts think this will bring down home prices because prices were inflated to account for commission. However, I think they’re actually making the entry into owning homes harder. Buyers don’t know what they don’t know and not having an experienced professional to guide them through the process and protect their interests will end up hurting them in this major life purchase. 

More to come on this as things get cleaned up and new policies get put in place, but change is coming.

A miniature house with a key (via Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash)

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

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