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"Katrina is an amazing, hard-working, loving, patient momma! I love seeing her homeschool her oldest son while getting in a workout. It’s motivating to watch her give 110%. And all while loving her boys and a smile on her face!" --Katherine Resendez, Playgroup Captain

"Katrina is so great to have next to you in class! She’s always there with a smile and all 3 boys in tow. She's motivating, works hard, and encourages everyone around her." --Kara Powers, Playgroup Captain

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband, David, and I are high school sweethearts (from rival schools) and we both were born and raised and started our family in southeastern Michigan before leaving everything and everyone we knew to move to NoVa in January 2020. We have three boys: Benjamin, 6; Isaac, 3; James, 2 and our Boxer dog, Otis. I'm very outnumbered by the male species in my house! #boymom

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

I was still on maternity leave with my oldest when my friend invited me to my first Fit4Mom class. I remember after class taking over the mall's seating area with our large group and most moms nursing their babies. At that point I was still struggling with nursing in general and definitely uncomfortable nursing in public, but that gave me the confidence I needed to join in and get tips and tricks needed to make that life easier.

I took a long hiatus with Fit4Mom due to working full-time, but as we transitioned to life with three boys and a move away from life as we knew it and my new SAHM life, I looked up Fit4Mom and planned to join as we got settled in. I joined the 2nd week after moving to NoVa, even before our belongings were delivered because I needed to meet people and find an outlet for my energetic boys! I remember meeting Karlee and connecting with her and her girls in the elevator at STC. Little did I know at that point that Fit4mom would be life-giving in so many ways through pandemic times two months later!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I regularly attend in-person classes at Burke Lake Park, Springfield Mall, and Kingstowne. You may also find me enjoying the Body Ignite and Yoga classes virtually and I pop in from time to time when my kids are engaged with the Fit & Fun Kids classes.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I currently work part-time remotely as an HR Director. I am fortunate to work with a bunch of moms in different stages of life who understand the home dynamic struggle and give a lot of grace to that balance (or unbalance, as many of the days/weeks feel). Remember that mom friend who first invited me to my very first Fit4mom class? She's the Clinical Director, so I get to see her on our weekly team video conferences and our kids often pop in to wave to each other.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Friends, coffee, wine.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I'd like to think I would get a pedicure and a fancy meal either with friends or my husband, but when it has happened, I usually just try to go for a run by myself and do as many errands as possible without kids in tow.

What has being a mom taught you?

I've definitely grown in patience and adapting to change since being a mom.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

My oldest spent the night with his aunt and uncle and hadn't seen his uncle without a hat on before. When his uncle came downstairs in the morning after his shower, revealing his bald head, before any other greeting happened, Ben, with open-gaped-mouth, declared, "Uncle Aaron, you have a silly head!" And from then on, he has been called Uncle Silly Head instead of Uncle Aaron.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Be forgiving of yourself and others.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

The village! I may have three kids, but I'm still learning from moms everyday on how to be better, whether that is tips and tricks shared in passing or just by all the beautiful modeling of different mom styles that I can try to adapt for my family. The village is all-knowing because there are military families, families that have grown up here, and families that explore the area so I have been able to tap into that for all the advice from places to go, insurance questions, best contractors, etc.

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It’s strawberry season! Here are a few recipes to indulge this year.

Vegan Whole Wheat Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • • One banana

  • • 1/8 cup canola oil

  • • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

  • • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • • 1 1/2 cups almond milk

  • • 2 cups of whole wheat flour

  • • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • • 1 pinch of sea salt

  • • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • • 1/3 cup fine granulated sugar

  • • 1 cup of fresh diced strawberries – diced into 1 centimeter pieces

  • • Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 385° and lightly grease your favorite muffin tin with cooking spray.

  2. Wash and dice the strawberries into 1 centimeter size pieces

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the banana until there are no lumps. Add the canola oil, lemon juice, vanilla extract and almond milk and whisk to mix.

  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon and sugar. Mix the dry ingredients fully but don't combine with the wet ingredients just yet.

  5. OK, it's show-time! Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold them together until barely moistened. Add the strawberries and fold them into the mixture, minimizing the amount of mixing.

  6. Using an ice-cream scoop, place some batter in each well of your muffin tin. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon sugar over the top and place the tin in the oven on the center rack.

  7. Check on the muffins after fifteen minutes. They will be a light golden color and a toothpick inserted into the center of the largest one will come out clean when they are done baking.

  8. Place the tin on a wire rack for five minutes to cool, then invert the muffins onto the rack and allow them to sit upside-down for a few minutes. This will allow any extra moisture in the bottoms to move back toward the tops for better consistency.

Strawberry Yogurt Pops

1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups vanilla frozen yogurt

  1. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit has broken down, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate, uncovered, until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.

  2. Let frozen yogurt soften for a few minutes at room temperature. Stir with a sturdy flexible spatula until pliable.

  3. Alternate layers of 1 TBSP each of the frozen yogurt and compote into each of six 3-ounce popsicle molds until they’re almost full (you can also use small paper cups). Stir to swirl. Insert sticks. Freeze at least 6 hours.

Strawberry Breakfast (or anytime) Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour divided (284g)

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (170g)

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (113g or 4oz)

  • 1 cup sour cream (8-ounces)

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten

  • 1 cup quartered or diced strawberries (6oz) plus 7 or 8 halved strawberries for topping

  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar for topping

  • powdered sugar for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups of the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and granulated sugar. Make a well in the center and set aside.

  3. In a small bowl combine 1 cup diced strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup of flour. Toss to coat. Set aside.

  4. In a separate small mixing bowl combine the melted cooled butter, sour cream, vanilla and the lightly beaten eggs. Fold together with a rubber spatula until blended. Add the sour cream mixture to the flour and sugar. Fold together until the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in the 1-cup of chopped strawberries and any extra flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Allow the cake batter to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

  5. Scatter the remaining sliced strawberries on top of the batter, then generously sprinkle with coarse or granulated sugar. Bake at 350°F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no wet batter. The top should be light golden brown.

  6. Cool slightly before serving either warm or at room temperature. Dust the top with powdered sugar and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

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One of our Run Club moms shared that after returning home from our weekend meetup her husband asked, “How was Run Club? Or can you not talk about it?” We had a great laugh about his reference to the infamous rules of Fight Club. Later on, I got to thinking about using Fight Club rules as an outline to make up rules for Run Club. I hope you enjoy this fun play on the theme and learn a bit more about our awesome group. Here goes....

THE RULES OF RUN CLUB

1st rule: Everyone is invited.

From moms with babies to moms with teens or grown children, we welcome anyone who wants to improve her health and fitness, and connect with other moms. No running experience is required. Our program will help you find your happy pace and, we wouldn’t be surprised, if you develop a love for running.

2nd rule: EVERYONE is invited.

Run Club is a great outdoor activity that you can bring your family to enjoy! Some of our moms run with a stroller, bring their spouse/partner, and even older kids who can run along with them. Unlike Fight Club, which you can’t talk about, our moms love to talk with their families about our running adventures and occasionally bring them along for the fun. Of course, moms can also enjoy the time to run alone, too.

3rd rule: If someone says “I can’t” or has pain, it’s okay for that run to stop.

One of the best parts of training with a certified Run Club+ coach is access to her knowledge and experience. Your coach knows the mental toughness needed to push through running excuses and setbacks. She will be your biggest cheerleader, but also a voice of reason. If you encounter a physical problem, your Run Club coach will encourage you to seek medical care. Sometimes we moms need a coach to help us recognize when we should listen to our body’s signals. By recognizing the early warning signs of an injury, you can address it and get back to running sooner than if you let it get worse. Your Run Club coach is happy to help you navigate what can be an otherwise lonely or upsetting journey through an injury or setback.

4th rule: Only 2 moms are needed for a meetup.

We have planned group runs on Saturdays at local parks and trails. But our moms are running four times a week and cross training twice a week, so we use weekday meetups to foster motivation. Sometimes we meet at a high school track to run laps or complete a strength workout. Other times we checkout a new trail or park. Any of our moms can reach out to the group and make a meetup. After all, it only takes two moms to make it an running meetup.

5th rule: One run at a time.

Never ran more than a few blocks? No problem! You can gain the endurance and experience to complete your first 5K race. We will get there by focusing on just one run at a time. In Run Club, we will help you empty your mind and stay present in the moment. That’s the beauty of running! You focus on the task at hand, not worrying about the past or future. If you have a “bad run,” we will help encourage and lift you up.

6th rule: Yes shirts, yes shoes.

Fight Club rules say “no shirts, no shoes” but in Run Club we have fun with shirts and shoes! Our moms proudly wear Fit4Mom Run Club tank tops and shirts from races that we complete together. There is something heartwarming about showing up to a run, someone seeing your race shirt and saying, “I remember when we ran that race together!” We share an inspiring sense of community, camaraderie, and team pride.

As far as shoes go, each mom needs the right support and style to fit her needs. We help moms find the right pair of running shoes with our gear event at a locally owned running store. Our moms get a free gait analysis and shoe recommendation plus an special discount on their purchases. Plus, a shopping trip with mom friends is always a fun treat!

7th rule: Runs will go on as long as they have to.

Alright, this Fight Club rule was admittedly hard to adapt. Bear with me as I bend it to Run Club style. Another great aspect of our program is our approach to pace and distance goals. For our beginning runners, we provide a training plan that starts with time goals (i.e. run/walk for 20 minutes) and we use run/walk intervals to ease mom into running. As mom gains endurance, she will transition to time+distance goals, such as run 1 mile steady pace, then 10 minutes of run/walk intervals. Finally, mom will move into running for a set distance, such as run for 3 miles. This gradual approach allows mom to build her running program gradually to prevent injuries and gain confidence in her abilities without worrying about pace.

8th rule: If this is your first time at Run Club, you have to run.

If you run, you’re a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run, you are a runner. Our Run Club program is designed to help novice runners ease into running with intervals of walking and running. Our program also meets the needs of experienced runners looking to improve their pace by adding speed work and strength training. Bottom line, you are welcome in our club and you will LOVE this awesome community of mother runners. I know that I do. ️

Run & be happy, Megan

Fit4Mom Run Club+ Coach

Our Spring 2021 Mini Session starts on Saturday, May 22nd. Over the course of 4 weeks, we will meet at various trails, parks, and track to run, grow stronger, and enjoy the community of running. You will receive a custom training plan, loads of great advice and information, and access to our private Facebook group. You can join us for just $75 by signing up here:

https://fit4mom-lortonspringfield.pike13.com/events/8331560

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"Nikki, you are always so positive and upbeat. I can’t help but smile when I see you online. I’ve witnessed you working out virtually with kids literally circling around you and you do not let it phase you one bit. You inspire others by showing the chaos that is real - motherhood is no joke. So to show up for some much needed self care is just what it’s all about. You’re a great mom - keep it up. Let that light shine bright mama - you are motivating and inspiring so many beautiful souls around you!" --Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

"Nikki's energy is the best! I miss her smile in person but love seeing it in all her creative and inspiring posts about her virtual workouts! She is so genuine and sincere. Keep up the awesome work mama!!" --Joy Robb, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Nikki is a blast to have in Body Ignite and it’s so fun to wiggle & stretch with her daughters at Fit&Fun Kids! Nikki works hard in class and I find her creative (challenge) posts in Our Village so motivating. If you haven’t met Nikki yet, make it a priority to do so!” --Cristine Glei, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband is Michael and he’s from North Carolina. I am originally from Ohio but lived in DC for 14 years before we got married. And then I moved here to Woodbridge to be with him. We have two daughters--Layla is four and Lena is 21 months.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class I think Lena was eight weeks old? Sultana had invited me. We were at Potomac Mills mall and I remember I loved it and Missy signed me up right away.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

We are still in Woodbridge and plan even if we move to stay in the Northern Virginia area. My Fit4Mom routine is entirely virtual right now. I am in Body Well and I love Body Ignite and the 30 minute yoga class. Those are my usual classes during the week.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

My current job is a stay at home parent. Before we had Layla I was a nonprofit manager. I’m not a social worker but I was the supervisor of the social workers and the Program Manager at Isaiah House, which is a therapeutic day program for adults in DC experiencing homelessness and serious and persistent mental illness. Before I managed that program, I worked at lots of different programs at SOME(So Others Might Eat) and N St., Village.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Brunch, Animal Crossing (video game on switch), and chocolate. Also I love cats. But Michael is allergic.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go on a date with my husband. Oh how I miss dating him LOL.

What has being a mom taught you?

So many things! One of them is to leave well enough alone. Another thing I’ve learned is perspective I think. We are used to get really worked up about issues at work, or little dramas going on with people… And now I realize what the priorities are and I can keep everything a little bit more in perspective.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I used to take Layla into DC a lot. We were a one car family back then and Maik will drop me off at the Metro train and Layla and I would ride in together. She was about 18 or 19 months old and she asked to get out of the stroller and sit with me so I put her with me on the metro seat next to the window and she turned around and licked the window. I was like “well, that happened.”

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Have grace for yourself. Ask for help. Be proud of what your body has done. You’re raising little humans! That’s amazing!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

Making friends! I only had one friend in this area when I moved here and now I have a whole bunch and I love everyone. It’s just been so good for me to have a community. Obviously the exercise is great too. But my favorite thing is all of you.

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Here’s to our latest group of mamas enrolled in our Body Well 8-week program! With nutrition and fitness coaching combined, these sessions are great for when you’re antsy for a change but aren’t sure if you need a physical, mental, or spiritual boost. While we can’t provide all the magic in a blog post, here are a few favorite snack recipes to give you a small taste.

Carrot Breakfast Cookies

(Makes 12 cookies; serving size 2 cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1 cup raw pecans, chopped
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup oil of your choice
  • ¼ cup applesauce

  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the oats until they are a flour-like substance.

  2. Add baking powder & spices to blend.

  3. Add the syrup, oil, carrots, pecans, and raisins to the bowl and blend. The dough should appear wet.

  4. Drop ¼ cup dough onto your prepared baking sheet & gently flatten each cookie to about ¾ inch thick.

  5. Bake at 375 degrees F until the cookies are golden and firm around the edges, 12-15 minutes.

  6. Cool the cookies for 10 minutes.

Green Smoothie

  • 1 cup milk, dairy or non, of your choice
  • Small handful of raw almonds
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • Large handful of spinach or kale
  • Optional: scoop of protein powder

Blend milk and almonds until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend, and enjoy.

No-Bake Oatmeal Bites

(Makes 12 Servings - Serving Size: 2 Balls)

Ingredients:

  • 1 C (dry) oatmeal
  • 1 C toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 C carob or mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll into balls about 1” in diameter. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week. Can be frozen. Makes about 24 balls.

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"It’s always so great to see Suzi and the girls at Stroller Strides! She works hard and is encouraging to other moms during class. Her positive attitude is definitely her twin mom super power!" -Karlee Goeres, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Suzi is a dedicated Stroller Strider. She's always pulling in early, ready to workout! She juggles her twins and all the snacks and things with grace. She shows up on the not-so-nice days as well as the perfect weather days and puts her whole self into the workout. We're so glad to have Suzi and the girls in our village!"-Bekah Johnson, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Suzi is always such a delight to have in class! I love seeing Suzi at Kingstowne and Burke Lake nearly every day of the week. She brings such contagious energy, positivity and kindness to every workout. Not only is Suzi one of the first moms to show up for class each day, but she brings her two adorable twin girls with her with ease! During class, Suzi is always pushing herself and challenging her limits. Her hard work always motivates other moms around her to do the same. I always look forward to any class I see Suzi is registered for because I know her and her girls' smiles will brighten anyone’s day!" -Cat Sethian, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I am originally from Marion, MA and I now live in Burke with my husband and 19 month old twin daughters (and our dog Frank). I have been in the DC area for eight years and moved here when my husband and I got engaged.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

I went to a pop-up in Lorton last November. I remember I was late and the process of getting my double stroller out and loading the kids felt like a lot. I had no idea how to dress them for the weather, but it was such a fun class and everyone was really welcoming.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I just do Stroller Strides. I try to go to Burke Lake twice a week and sometimes also to Kingstowne. I am so excited to be able to exercise while my kids are awake so that I can use their nap time for other things. They also really love seeing everyone- especially the kids and Shannon!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I have been a high school science teacher for many years. But this year is my first staying at home. It has been a big adjustment but I feel grateful that I can do it and that my husband has worked from home for the past year.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Sailing, gardening and family cook outs.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would go on a fun date with my husband or get a massage/ facial/ mani/pedi. I am not a huge spa gal, but after this year I am really looking forward to it.

What has being a mom taught you?

It has taught me that I am more patient, empathetic and creative than I think. It has also helped me to recognize how much my own parents love me and how hard they worked to give me an amazing life.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

This past weekend, a man jogged by us on a walk and passed gas. Very loudly, one of the girls yelled out "Toot Toot!" That was both funny and embarrassing for all.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

This is a hard one for me to answer. I think I would try to encourage everyone to find people who support them and make them feel good about themselves as women as well as moms. And to try to be that person in the lives of other moms.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I joined because I wanted to meet other moms. That was my #1 priority. We moved to Burke in June of 2020 and I knew no one. I also wanted to keep being outside as much as possible as we headed into winter and work on my strength and fitness. I feel like I am accomplishing all of those things and I would definitely (and have) recommend joining.

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Just a few ideas for fun spring crafts to celebrate this weekend.

Bumble Bee

  • -toilet paper tube
  • -paint
  • -pipe cleaners
  • -scrap paper
  • -glue

Smash the toilet paper tube until it’s mostly flattened (staple into shape). Paint with yellow and black stripes! Cut out wing shapes and glue on. Add eyes and pipe cleaner legs, antennae and stinger.

Flower Vase

  • -plastic bottle
  • -bottle caps
  • -paint
  • -cardboard
  • -pipe cleaners
  • -glue (hot glue is easiest)

Pour a small amount of paints inside the plastic bottle (2 or 3 colors) and put the cap back on. Share and swirl the paint. Pour out any excess.

Gather your bottle caps and paint, if desired. Glue on to the cardboard backing in flower shapes. Glue on the top part of the pipe cleaners and paint leaves (or use paper cutouts). When the bottle is dry, gather the pipe cleaners into the bottle and hot glue the bottle onto the cardboard.

Egg Carton Flowers

  • -egg carton
  • -paint
  • -decorations (beads, glitter, sequins, seeds, etc)
  • -pipe cleaners
  • -green construction paper
  • -glue (hot glue is easiest)

Cut out the individual egg cups from the carton. Cut the sides partway to make “petals” and fold down. Paint as desired. Hot glue decorations in the bottom of the flower cup. Cut out leaf shapes from green paper and glue on. Add pipe cleaner stems OR glue the flowers together on a cardboard base and hang.

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"I met Teresa at the crack of dawn one morning at My Gym Alexandria before a Body Back class. She and I quickly became members of the “early morning crew,” and I knew I could always count on seeing her friendly face at all of those early morning workouts! Teresa’s kids are a little older than mine, so she gave me hope that I would get through the super difficult toddler years and find a light at the end of the tunnel. Teresa has always been such a fun mom to talk to and get to know, and I really miss seeing her in person at our early morning classes. I’m always so happy to see her name and her familiar, friendly face pop up in the Zoom window when our paths cross in class these days!"-Amy Vanden Boogart

"Teresa is so amazing at making time for herself to work out. When we were doing in-person classes, I could always count on seeing her bright and early twice a week at Body Back class. She's really committed and she's so supportive of other moms in class also!"-Amanda Martin, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Teresa is so dedicated! It’s amazing how she wakes up multiple times a week SUPER early to fit her workout in! She is very encouraging and always there if you need advice or support! Keep going strong, mama!"-Annie Sevel, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I'm originally from Vinton, VA

Husband Ed, son Mason (12, going to Middle school next year!), daughter Mackenzie (7)

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

February 2009, Thomas Jefferson Center, Arlington. I remember being nervous, and waiting for others to show up with strollers to ensure I was in the right place.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

Early 5:30am classes. My kids are too old for strollers.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I'm a Human Resources Business Partner for a government contractor

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Watching my kids activities, Dark Chocolate, Coffee (decaf)

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go clothes shopping

What has being a mom taught you?

I am stronger than I thought.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Most embarrassing is that my daughter likes to blame everything on everyone else and tells her teachers.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Take time for yourself!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

The flexibility in the workouts and the early morning options! I really appreciate that I can work out at home. I've also loved getting to know other moms who struggle with the same challenges.

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Four days till Valentine’s Day! Here are some last-minute, easy DIY Valentine’s for any age to make.

1) Toddlers--Painted hearts

-Cut out a heart shape from paper and place it on another piece of paper. Let the kiddo paint the whole thing with fingers, pom-poms in a clothespin, or sponges. When done, lift up the heart and have a heart-shaped space to write a love note to Grandma.

-Or have the kiddo paint all over a piece of paper and just cut out a heart shape from there. Write Grandma’s note on the back when dry! Done and done.

2) Preschool--”I love you to pieces” art

-Draw a big heart outline on a piece of paper and write “I love you to pieces” outside of it. Give paper or tissue paper to your kiddo and have them rip it into smaller pieces. Let them practice with glue to affix the bits inside the heart as a mosaic.

-Or fold a paper in half and trace their hand so the wrist is on the fold. When you cut out and unfold, there should be a heart shape formed with the thumb and forefinger. Use tape or contact paper to cover the heart, leaving the sticky side up so your kiddo can add the small bits of paper in a mosaic on top. No glue involved! Don’t forget the cute saying written on the hands.

3) Elementary--Heart Animals

It is so hard to choose just one--google for a million ideas of animals made with heart shapes (puppies, hedgehogs, owls, pigs, kittens….) For this example, cut out the body of a peacock (like a bowling pin) and then a bunch of hearts in different colors. Show your kiddo how to make symmetrical hearts with folded paper. Glue in a pleasing arrangement of feathers on a card and glue the body on top. Add details and a cute message.

4) Older Kid--Clay or Cardboard ‘Cookies’

Cut out heart shapes from cardboard or make the below dough recipe. Embellish to look like delicious cookies using paint, glitter, glitter glue, buttons, yarn, sprinkles, sequins, jewels...whatever you got that you can trust your older kid with! Look up fun cookie Valentine puns to write on the back when they are dry.

Recipe for White Clay Dough

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup baking soda

  • 1/2 cup corn starch

  • 3/4 cup of warm water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Mix dry ingredients in a cooking pot, and add the water. Stir over medium heat while the mixture bubbles and thickens. Continue stirring as mixture pulls away from the sides of the pot and becomes similar in consistency to thick cake frosting.

  • Remove the pot from the heat, and allow the dough to cool until it’s comfortable to handle.

  • Turn your dough out onto the counter or a cutting mat and knead it into a smooth, supple ball of dough.

  • Roll out and cut into “cookies.” You can press decor like jewels or buttons in when wet or let dry at room temperature and paint/add decorations after.

5) For your significant other--Scratch-off Ticket

Click the above link for instructions for this simple gift. If you don’t have the plastic, you can also color the hearts with a white crayon and then paint over that for easier scratch-off-ness.

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Happy National Chocolate Cake Day! Obviously, we couldn’t let this one slide by without acknowledgement--if you’re reading this from Body Well...stop and come back in a few weeks…

Feathery Fudge Cake (This one is our family recipe. You don’t mess with a classic.)

For the cake:

  • ⅔ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 ½ oz melted unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cups ice water

  1. Cream together butter and sugar. Add in vanilla and eggs gradually and whip until light.

  2. Cream in melted chocolate.

  3. Sift together flour, salt, and soda. Add to creamed mixture alternatively with ice water. Beat well after each addition and scrape sides often.

  4. Bake in 2 greased or paper-lined 9” cake pans at 350 deg F for 25-35 min.

For the frosting:

  • 6 oz butter
  • 3 oz melted unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 ⅓ oz evaporated milk
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt

  1. In saucepan, combine butter and chocolate. Let melt slowly.

  2. Add sugar, milk, soda, and salt. Cook until it forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water.

  3. Let stand until warm, about 110 degrees F.

  4. Beat well and frost cake while warm.

Secondly, it's my next-in-my-baking-cue recipe, straight from Smitten Kitchen:

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

CAKE

  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) unsweetened cocoa, any variety, sifted if lumpy

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup (145 grams) dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) water or coffee

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cider vinegar or white vinegar

GLAZE

  • 3/4 cup (135 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

  • 2 tablespoons (10 grams) cocoa powder

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon (20 grams) light corn syrup (for shine)

  • A pinch or two of flaky sea salt

Make cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of 9-inch round cake pan with a fitted round of parchment paper and coat the bottoms and sides with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add brown sugar and olive oil, and whisk to combine. Add water and vinegar and whisk until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is springy and a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few sticky crumbs (but not wet or loose batter). Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then cut around it with a knife to ensure it is loosened and flip it out onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

Make glaze: Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, olive oil, corn syrup, and salt in a medium bowl and microwave to melt, in 15 to 30 second increments, stirring between each until just melted. Whisk until smooth. Pour over completely cooled cake and use spatula to gently nudge it down the sides.

Cake keeps: At room temperature for 2 to 3 days and up to a week in the fridge. On day 4 in the fridge, ours was as moist as day one, basically a miracle.

Finally, the best single serving mug cake I have found from Table For Two Blog:

Dark Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon warm milk (you'll want to pop this in the microwave for like 30 seconds so it's not super cold otherwise it'll seize up the coconut oil)

  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and dark chocolate chips.

  2. Whisk in the milk and coconut oil until all ingredients are combined and batter has no clumps.

  3. Pour batter into a microwave-safe mug. Mine was a 14-ounce mug. You want enough head space for the cake to rise without pouring over.

  4. If you're adding peanut butter or any nut butter spread, at this time, put it in the middle of the batter. Just drop it in the middle, no need to push it down and sink it in the batter. It does that on its own when it cooks! :)

  5. Place a paper towel into the microwave and set the mug on top (this is to catch any batter if your mug cake overflows).

  6. Microwave mug cake for 90 seconds on high (PLEASE READ NOTES CAREFULLY BELOW)

  7. Carefully remove from microwave and enjoy!

Notes

Please note that ALL microwaves are different therefore can yield different results and can overcook this mug cake if you aren't careful. My microwave is 950 watts and I cooked mine on 100% power for 90 seconds. This is slightly longer than the original chocolate mug cake because the batter is thinner because the liquids are warm vs. cold liquids. Knowing this information, it may help you better judge how long to cook yours for and at what power.

Buen Provecho!!