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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!!

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"Having Aneesa and Amin in my classes is so much fun. She is such a patient mom and never skips a beat. She’ll get snacks for her babe even while doing jumping jacks. Now that’s one tough mama! Both of their smiles are so contagious - makes my day! I’m super glad Aneesa took a chance on us - love her to bits!!!" -Shannon Link, Fit4Mom Owner

"Aneesa is a great mama to workout with! I love her positive, upbeat attitude every class. She’s so caring and supportive of all the moms in the village."-Kara Powers, Woodbridge Playgroup Captain

"Aneesa always comes to class with a huge smile on her face and radiates joy each class! She is kind, thoughtful, encouraging and a wonderful mom to be around!"-Cat Sethian, Fit4Mom Instructor

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

My husband Adeel and our 18 month old Amin. I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and my husband and I are of Pakistani origin. I came to the US 17 years ago.

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

My first class was in Sept 2019 at Springfield mall. I remember feeling exhausted but so happy to have met other new moms. Mommies were working out even with fussy babies and kids throwing tantrums and food on the floor. It was all chaotic but everyone was having fun! Until I started Fit4Mom I always felt embarrassed if my baby would cry in public. I loved that there was no judgement and I could get a great workout with my baby.

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

I'm usually at Lorton or Burke, but if it works with naptime, we'll venture out to Springfield or Kingstowne.

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

Before I decided to stay at home, I was a Process Engineer working in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. The job was pretty demanding but fun! I would love to go back to working soon once my kids are older.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

The beach, my family, and watching my shows alone in bed at the end of the day.

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

Go somewhere outdoors with my husband or my girlfriends and then eat a nice quiet dinner without any interruptions.

What has being a mom taught you?

Most of all... patience and gratitude! Being a mom has made me learn to thank God for everything I have regardless of how hard some days can get.

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

Amin and I were at the park last week when it was a bit crowded. My toddler noticed another kid’s snack sitting on the bench. He quickly snatched it and sprinted away screaming “apple! apple!” while the other kid ran after him. So there I was trying to run after two very fast toddlers in the middle of the park while other moms laughed at me.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Don't sweat the small stuff; your kids will be okay! Trust your instincts and take advice and help as you need it.

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

I love that the classes benefits me and my son and we enjoy it together. Amin enjoys the nursery rhymes and playgroups while I can feel strong and energized after every class from the workouts and conversations with my village. If you're on the fence, just show up to one class and give it a try!

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For the mom who was up till 2 am stressing about a big presentation at work or just binge-watching Netflix, here’s hoping you got to sleep in for a few hours. I give you permission to have your AM routine consist solely of getting enough caffeine in your system to make sure everyone has some sort of morning nourishment (tortilla chips count as breakfast, right?) and occupation (school, toys, whatever they were screaming for 5 min ago). Sometimes morning routines cross over into survival mode and that’s just how it goes.

Pair hectic mornings with our lunchtime express classes for a quick energy boost. Start with that or get your sweat on at our 8 pm Body Boost and Body Ignite classes.

For the early-bird mom whose kids still sleep till 7 and you somehow can restrain yourself from pushing the snooze button again--Body Boost/Ignite 5:30 am is for you. Get that workout in, then go collapse on the couch with your 10 minutes of silence, chugging coffee before the hooligans emerge from their (never long enough) hibernation. Great job--you’re well on your way to checking off many items on your to-do list before you crash and burn in the mid-afternoon. (Or to avoid this, pair with a mid-afternoon Digital Library class while the kids watch a movie.)

For the sleep-deprived mom with young kids who wake before the crack of dawn--9:30 am virtual/in-person classes. Bring your kids...or don’t. The good news is you have so much time to get all your and your kids’ stuff together... haha jk. The bad news is that that pesky spawn always seems to be undoing your preparations. Fear not! Plan for the 9:30 class, but if it doesn’t work out, naptime Digital Library class is waiting for you. Choose a class for 20 min (or 45 min or an hour if you’re feeling lucky) and pair with 1 item from your to-do list. Check off “exercise” from your “this makes me human again” list, check the time, and try to sneak in one more item. 5 min of silence or a quick shower or a healthy snack? So hard to choose but we know you’ll make the right choice for you. (Naptime is sacred. Don’t waste it on practical pursuits if you can afford not to.)

For the moms with older kids who can take care of themselves, congrats! You’re living the dream. Tell us your secrets! (Even though it may be just “patience, you’ll get there.”) Sure, they can now get themselves ready for school, do laundry, and get their own snacks 500 times a day, but know that they DO still need you. Keep taking care of yourself--working or stay-at-home, figure out when you’re at your best after a workout and build your schedule with that. Pair with a cup of satisfaction that you’ve made it with a side of nostalgia for the old, insane days of kids running amok. (C’mon, you know you miss it. A little. Deep down.)

In conclusion, no matter where you are in your motherhood journey, no matter how much you prepare for how you THINK your day will go, something’s gonna mess up your plans. But don’t worry, we got you. Join us for live instruction or recorded--either way we’re here to provide community and connection and YES, I KNOW RIGHT?? support for anyone who finds us. Choose your own adventure!

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Some nights are more stressful than others. We get it. Sometimes it’s just easier to order pizza, but occasionally, cooking can be a destressor. Here are some ideas for quick weeknight meals and one delicious dessert for when you just need some comfort food and a dinner win:

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)

  • 12 fresh sage leaves (optional)

  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) diced butternut squash*

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta (I used shells)

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 8 ounces good-quality sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*

  • fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil.

  • Meanwhile, heat the butter in a separate large sauté pan until melted. Add the sage leaves (if using) and sauté for 1-2 minutes until crispy. Transfer the sage leaves to a separate plate and set aside.

  • Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Then add in the butternut squash and vegetable stock and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the stock reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and mashes easily with a fork.

  • Transfer the squash mixture to a blender. Add in the milk and give the mixture a quick stir. Then very carefully (I recommend slightly opening the cap on the blender lid, so that excess steam can escape) pulse the mixture until smooth.

  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water for later. Then drain the pasta.

  • While the pasta is cooking, return the butternut squash mixture back to the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add in the shredded cheddar cheese, and stir until it has melted into the sauce.

  • Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper as needed. (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.)

  • Then once the pasta is drained, return it to the stockpot. Pour the butternut cheese sauce on top of the pasta, and toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add in some of the hot starchy pasta water to thin it out.

  • Serve warm, garnished with the crispy sage leaves if desired.

Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lb. chuck roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp. chopped thyme
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • 3 c. low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lb. baby potatoes, halved
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias into thick chunks

DIRECTIONS

  • Season chuck roast generously with salt and pepper. Turn Instant Pot to Sauté setting, set for 15 minutes, and heat oil. When oil is shimmering, add beef and cook until seared on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove beef then add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, herbs, and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour, then whisk in wine until combined. Bring to boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

  • Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, potatoes, and carrots and 1 tablespoon salt and a bunch of freshly ground black pepper. Place beef on top of mixture. Lock lid and set to pressure cook on high for 1 hour.

  • Follow manufacturer’s guide for quick release, making sure to wait until cycle is complete before unlocking and removing lid. Let beef rest in sauce for at 10 minutes.

  • Slice roast against grain.

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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! :)

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

  • Microwave mug cake for 60-90 seconds on high

  • Carefully remove from microwave and enjoy!

Easy Chicken Skillet Enchiladas

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces cooked chicken (about 2 cups shredded)

  • 1 teaspoon oil

  • 1/4 yellow onion, minced (about 1/3 cup)

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 4-ounce can mild green diced chilis

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 8 taco-sized flour tortillas

  • 8 ounces cotija cheese

To serve:

  • Cilantro

  • Radishes, thinly sliced

  • Sour cream

  • Avocado

  • Jalapeño

METHOD

1 Shred chicken: Shred the leftover chicken so it’s ready when you need it. You should have about 2 cups.

2 Make the sauce: In a large, high-sided skillet set over medium heat, add the oil. Once the oil shimmers, add onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute, just until softened.

Add tomato sauce, water, diced green chilis, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Stir together, then let the sauce simmer on medium to medium-low while you assemble the enchiladas.

3 Assemble the enchiladas: Put about 2 tablespoons of shredded chicken down the center of each tortilla. (You don’t really have to measure the meat. Just divide it evenly among the tortillas!) Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon cotija cheese (just eyeball it) across the chicken, and spoon 1-2 teaspoons sauce over the cheese.

Fold in the sides of the tortilla, roll it up, and put it seam side down in the sauce. Nestle them in the pan. Repeat this until the pan is full. Spoon sauce over the top of the enchiladas.

4 Top with cheese and cover: Sprinkle additional cotija cheese over the top of the enchiladas. Cover with a lid and let them simmer until the cheese is melted and the tortillas look puffy, like they soaked up some sauce. This should take about 5 minutes.

5 Garnish and serve: Lift the lid and sprinkle cilantro and thinly sliced radishes over the top. Serve alongside sliced avocado, jalapeño, and sour cream.

Nacho Bread Pizzas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 loaf baguette or semolina bread, day old is fine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped or 1 pickled hot pepper of any kind, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup prepared salsa, any variety
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar, smoked Cheddar, Monterey Jack or pepper Jack
  • 1 heart romaine or 1/2 iceberg head, shredded
  • 1/2 cup green olives with or without pimiento, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion or 2 to 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 plum or vine tomatoes, seeded and diced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Split bread lengthwise. Hollow the bread out and cut each half in half across, making 4 boats.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  3. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil, 1 turn of the pan, garlic and hot peppers. Drain beans. Add half of the beans then mash the remainder of the beans in the can using a fork. Add mashed beans to the pan and combine with whole beans. Season beans with hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. When the spicy beans are hot through, spread them evenly across all of the bread. Top with salsa and liberally sprinkle with cheese, covering bread to all edges. The boats will only be half-full. Melt cheese in the oven until it bubbles and begins to brown.

  4. Top Nacho Bread Pizzas with lettuce, olives, onions and tomatoes and serve. .

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Motivating Mom of the Month-Dec 2020: Tammie Kheocha-on

"I love seeing Tammie at class every week. She always comes with a smile and is ready to love her kiddos and get in a good workout. I chatted with her briefly at her first class at STC and she said she needed something to get out of the house so she joined Fit4Mom. I think we all totally get that! I’ve loved getting to chat with her after class as our kids pick up leaves at Lorton Station." -Katherine Resendez, Burke Playgroup Captain

"Tammie makes a point to make time out of her busy schedule as a nurse to come to stroller strides each week! She works hard in class and prioritizes her health- both mental and physical, even with two kiddos! She is super kind to everyone she meets and has the best can-do attitude. I always look forward to seeing her in class because she’s so warm and caring." -Cat Sethian, Fit4Mom Instructor

"I fell in love with Tammie at her first class at STC. She brought her Mom because she was worried about coming to class with two littles. They stayed for playgroup and we got to chat a bit. There was no hesitation on her part to become a member. She was hooked - online & in person - she’s there and ALWAYS gives no less than 100%. Tammie is such a warm and patient mom to her two littles. I love seeing them at class. I’m always guaranteed a big ear to ear smile from her daughter Isa. Makes my day! I’m so thankful she found our tribe and made it hers!" -Shannon Link, Fit4Mom Owner

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

I grew up in the Lower Hudson Valley region of New York, but my family is originally from Thailand. Diego, my husband, is from Valencia, Spain but came stateside to support my career. Isa (Isabel) is our spunky 2.5 year old and she really loves being a big sister. I can't believe that our baby boy Eli (Elias) is almost 8 months old now! We also have two cats that tolerate us.

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

My first class was in July. My mom was visiting and I made her come with me to bail me (or a kid) out if we needed it. Some of my friends from another Fit4Mom group said that they mainly saw younger babies go to class, so I was nervous to bring a toddler and a baby. Turns out, I was in excellent company (that's the theme by the way).

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

I mainly go to in-person classes in Springfield, Kingstowne, and Lorton because I love bringing the kids outside, incorporating them into the classes, and meeting new friends. I'm prepared to bundle them up for the cold months. In the summer, I mostly attended virtual classes because I was still learning how to navigate getting out the door with two kids.

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

I work full time as an ICU nurse in DC. The job itself is a mixture of gross, frustrating, and sometimes rewarding..like parenthood. There is a lot of crossover actually! So far, if I have a day off, chances are high that I'm at Stroller Strides.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Pocket foods (empanadas, pitas, calzones, hand pies, etc.), TV comedies, and dancing.

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

Take Diego on a date because he really deserves it.

What has being a mom taught you?

The learning process doesn't stop for moms or babies. Fit4Mom gave me the confidence to be out and about alone with my toddler and baby. On my maternity leave, I traveled to NY alone with them twice after getting the practice from going to Stroller Strides. We are all just trying to figure it out.

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

In the before times when we could travel, Isa cried and screamed for 45 minutes on a flight and my nose was bleeding. I didn't look at anyone in the eyes because I was so embarrassed.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

We don't have to do this mom thing alone.

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

My favorite thing about Fit4Mom is that it gives us a safe space to be social(ly distant) while I get an excellent workout in. Someone thinking about joining should just try a class and check the vibes out for herself. No one is judgmental when your kid has a meltdown or cries the entire class either. No one is judgmental if you pee yourself a little doing jumping jacks either.

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When you shop from a small business, an actual person does a happy dance. And ladies, for us that means another MAMA does a happy dance. This happy dance shows her that she too can contribute to the household finances, this allows her to shop for her kids, this allows her to treat herself to the things she's been dreaming of for a long time, because she always puts her family first.

SHOP LOCAL from our amazing mom-preneurs right here in our village! Check out our 2020 Shopping guide below:

Jessie - I’m a lifestyle and portrait photographer.

Jessie Billone Photography

https://jessiebillonephotography.mypixieset.com/

Instagram.com/jessiebillonephotography

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Katherine - I am an Usborne Books & More consultant! Our books are the most exciting, engaging, and educational books on the market today. They are high-quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated, and best of all, they are the books kids love to read. Choose from over 1,800 bright, colorful, and fun titles covering a wide variety of subjects. https://v9331.myubam.com

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Alissa - me too!! https://g10459.myubam.com/ LOOVVVEEE Usborne for my kiddos, relatives kids, friends kids!! I'm having a stocking stuffer sale this weekend (through monday night). Sales on different books plus 10% off so if anyone would like info on it let me know!

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Colleen - I am a Matilda Jane Trunk Keeper. We are a boutique line of clothing for baby, girl, tween and women!

Www.matildajaneclothing.com/ColleenGoldfein

Colleen Goldfein Independent Trunk Keeper w/ Matilda Jane Clothing #580341

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Andrea - I’m a Stella & Dot Ambassador and preferred vendor with

Fit4Mom LSBWK NoVa

Enjoy an extra 10% off your order!! We are a family of brands including on trend jewelry, accessories, bags, apparel, charm jewelry, diamonds, clean beauty and cleanical skincare. Almost our entire site is on sale for Black Friday through Cyber Monday!! There’s also a free gift with purchase. www.stelladot.com/sites/armhfyi

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Ashley - I am a Poofy Organics guide. All handmade beauty and home care products, most of which are organic. 15% off everything on the site today!!!! Also super cute holiday gift sets.

https://ecomamabear.poofyorganics.com/

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Megan - I have been a Rodan+Fields Independent Consultant for 3 years. My goal is to help others find skincare solutions that will give them the best skin of their lives plus the confidence that come with it. Fit4Mom members can get their preferred customer fee ($20) waived when they order with me.

https://meganschmid.myrandf.com/

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Jennifer - Hey y’all! I have an online Baby and Children’s Boutique with Apparel, Accessories, & Toys. Free Shipping always or you can do a local pickup if you need quicker! Entire site is 30% off this weekend! www.emmasfavoritethingsboutique.com

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Stephanie - I am the owner of Instagram.com/sweetbcreates

I make finger puppets, felt dress up dolls, and reusable flat coloring dolls. Many other items coming soon!

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Leslie - I know there's a few of us sideline sisters here as I'm a Rodan + Fields consultant too. It's been great helping others both have the best possible skin and seek a source of additional income! The products work so it's been easy! Right now there's a great 20% off sale and free preferred enrollment!

Lpope33.myrandf.com

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Giovi - I own a small business doing personalized creations.From birthday top,towels,personalized puzzles,and much more

Give A craft 30

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Courtney - I’m a Color Street Stylist. Color street is 100% nail polish strips.

They are always B3G1 ! Colorvaria Nails

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Shaina - Hi all! I'm Shaina and am an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay in addition to a mom of an almost 4 year old son and almost 1 year old daughter. I love helping people look and feel their best with skin care and makeup that is good for your skin. I am also a preferred vendor with

Fit4Mom LSBWK NoVa offering members 20% off. Happy to answer any questions! www.marykay.com/sgoldschlag

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Kyle - Beautycounter's Clean Promise: More than 1,800. That’s how many ingredients Beautycounter restricts in our formulations. The US, Canada, and the EU? Just 30, 600, and 1,400, respectively. I'm a Contracting Officer for the government by day and have a 4 1/2 year old and almost 2 year old and I thoroughly believe in Beautycounter's mission and products and cannot wait to share them with you.- beautycounter.com/Kylekrzywicki

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Miriam - I have 2 crazy boys. My husband and I decided to switch to a keto(ish) diet about a year ago and discovered pure therapeutic ketones. They provide more energy, better focus, improved mental clarity, and fat loss. I mostly use them for the clean energy without the crash that I was getting from coffee. If anybody is interested in learning more, i would love to answer any questions you may have.

http://miriamlamagna.ShopKeto.com

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Francesca - Currently selling ornaments for the holiday season https://www.etsy.com/shop/foreverlybyfrancesca

It’s always been a dream of mine to open up a craft shop and do what I do best, which is to let my creativity run free.

I’m a Filipina army brat raised in Germany, from Colorado. I’ve been working in the nonprofit world for over 10 years but it’s always been my passion to do crafty things. My shop is named after my daughter, Everly, for whom my inspiration and reason for all things comes from. My husband and I are expecting are second next year in May!

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Jessica - I'm a mom to almost 3yr old Mariam & I'm a consultant with Norwex

https://jessicamoodykhatib.norwex.biz

"Work smarter, not harder" is a big motto for me, and I definitely hate wasting time with products that don't actually work!!

My WHY for being a consultant is that Norwex products are Efficient, Safe, & Green

Never heard of Norwex? Norwex is a green cleaning and personal care line. Our mission is to radically reduce toxic chemicals in your home & improve quality of life!

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Becky - If you are looking for natural solutions for your family and health, I can show you how doTERRA can be a part of your daily routine!

Find some peace and calm this holiday season! Our Village members receive a special gift with enrollment.

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/site/rebeccakrispin

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Cherie - I make kid-safe resin letter and number sets. They’re perfect for sensory bins and teaching ABCs!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/CraftyCherieShop

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It’s that time when we think about celebrating the end of another year and showering our loved ones with presents. But take a moment to pause and remember those who may not be in as fortunate circumstances as us.

While volunteer opportunities are limited, many organizations are still in great need of donations. I’ve compiled a list of local groups that could use your help! (And while you’re at it, think about setting up a monthly or quarterly donation to support them all year long. Usually this takes as little effort as checking an option on the online form). Click on the name to go to the website for each organization to see what household items they might also accept.

Thank you in advance and thank you to everyone who supported our toy and food drives this week!

Lorton Community Action Center

https://donate.onecause.com/lcac/donate

Mission: “To enhance the quality of life by providing food, basic needs, and self-sufficiency programs through the generous support of our community. LCAC's goal is to break the cycle of poverty and prevent homelessness. We do this through a variety of services and programs.”

LCAC's most immediate needs are :

  • Pasta (any kind)

  • Canned pasta sauce

  • Canned diced tomatoes

  • Canned fruit

  • Children’s snacks (granola bars, fruit snacks, etc)

  • Size 6 diapers

Shelter House

https://shelterhouseinc.salsalabs.org/DonationPage/index.html

Mission: “To prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence by engaging the community, building effective relationships and providing crisis intervention, safe housing and supportive services.”

Echo (Springfield)

https://www.echo-inc.org/sample-page-2/donating-money

Mission: “The purpose of Ecumenical Community Helping Others (ECHO), Inc. is to assist people in need in our community, those who suffer the effects of long-term poverty as well as those who are experiencing an emergency financial need. To that end, we provide food and financial assistance to help families or individuals through a crisis. We offer access to donated clothing, school supplies, and household goods such as bed linens, cookware, and small appliances to ease the burden of those who struggle with long-term low income. We conduct a large holiday meal program for families and a Christmas gift program for children.”

Bethany House

https://www.mightycause.com/donate/Bethany-House-Of-Northern-Virginia

Mission: “The mission of Bethany House of Northern Virginia is to provide a safe place of healing for women and children who have experienced domestic violence. While providing confidential, secure shelter, counseling, life-skills training, and transition support, we share the knowledge and love of Christ - the only true "safe place" and provider of every need.”

Immediate Needs:

  • Monetary Donations

  • Grocery Gift Cards (Giant, Safeway, Harris Teeter, Aldi, CVS)

  • Gas Cards

  • Clothing Gift Cards (WalMart, Target, Ross, Marshall's)

  • Toilet Paper

  • Paper Towels

  • Body Lotion

  • Deodorant (Men/Women)

  • Trash Bags (Kitchen size and 30 gal.)

  • Dish Soap

  • Cleaning Supplies (Fabuloso, Pinesol, bleach, Lysol wipes)

  • Body Wash

Second Story

https://www.second-story.org/givenow/

Mission: “Second Story transforms the lives of children, youth and their families by providing safe havens and opportunities for them to grow and thrive. Our programs provide support at critical turning points in their lives.

Though these safe spaces are the first step, we also work closely with youth and families to help them achieve their goals and work toward self-sufficiency, breaking cycles of homelessness, abuse, and poverty. All of our programs are located in Northern Virginia, though depending on the circumstance youth outside of our community can receive support as well.”

Doorways for Women and Families

https://www.doorwaysva.org/donate/

Mission: “At Doorways, we envision a community where all people live free of violence and have safe and stable housing. That’s why we work to transform the lives of adults, youth and children who are facing homelessness or suffering abuse in our community. Through the generosity of our partners and supporters, we help our most vulnerable neighbors survive crisis, rebuild their lives and achieve brighter futures.”

Northern VA Family Service

https://www.nvfs.org/donate-online/

Mission: “To empower individuals and families to improve their quality of life, and to promote community cooperation and support in responding to family needs.”

Food for Others

https://www.foodforothers.org/donate-now/

Mission: “Our mission is to distribute food to our neighbors in need by mobilizing our giving community and volunteers.”

Most Needed:

  • Canned Chili
  • Canned Chicken
  • Canned Fruit
  • Canned Soup
  • Spaghetti Sauce

Gracing Spaces

Click here for list of home goods they accept:

https://www.gracingspaces.com/home-goods

Mission: “Gracing Spaces, a ministry of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, furnishes apartments for families transitioning out of homeless shelters. We work with non-profits such as FACETS, Fairfax County Public Schools, and many others to provide basics of living. We "Grace" each space with furniture, beds, kitchen items, pictures, shower curtains, rugs, bedspreads and more to make an apartment a home. We load our truck with HOPE for each family and an opportunity to begin a new life together in Fairfax County.”

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington

https://secure.ccda.net/Give/Give/Donate/Giving.aspx

Mission: “Catholic Charities brings hope to those in need by providing them with the basic necessities of everyday living as well as the transformational tools and resources necessary for independent living.”

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It’s holiday time! This week our Playgroup Captains wanted to share some of their favorite holiday traditions, new and old.

Karlee Goeres

Some favorite Christmas traditions that I had growing up were going to our Christmas Candlelight service at our church and opening new pajamas on Christmas Eve. I’ve enjoyed carrying on the same traditions with my husband and our two daughters the past few years, but I also look forward to making new memories and traditions as our girls get older.

Katherine Resendez

I love decorating for Christmas. Opening the boxes is almost like Christmas early with all the decorations and ornaments you haven’t seen for a year. I also love all the baking and food that comes with the season. Growing up I would help my mom and grandparents in the kitchen making cookies and cooking Christmas dinner, and now I love using some of those recipes with my own family! Also, my grandma gave us Advent calendars every year which was the only time we could have chocolate before breakfast! She sent one to Lilyanna who still doesn’t quite get it, but mom and dad are happy to help her with the chocolate.

Kara Powers

Favorite Christmas tradition we have is decorating the tree & listening to Christmas music. Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, which we used to do growing up. Some new family traditions we’ve started with the girls are matching family pajamas, driving around to see Christmas lights, and baking cookies together.

Speaking of cookies, this week seems like a good week for baking! Here’s a delicious recipe to get you started. Make dough early and then after it refrigerates, get the kids involved in rolling out the candy canes like playdough and embrace their creativity.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

  • 1 egg

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Red food coloring gel

  • 2 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candies

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, both sugars, both extracts, and egg on low, just until combined. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.

  2. Divide dough in half, making sure you have 2 equal portions. Add red food coloring gel to half of the dough until the desired color is reached. Wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 3-4 hours.

  3. In a small bowl, combine peppermint candy and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  5. To make a candy cane cookie, take 1 level teaspoon of each dough. Roll each teaspoon into a 5″ rope (use a ruler, if necessary). Place one red and one white rope next to each other and begin twisting the two colors together, while pressing ends together so that they won’t unravel.

  6. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, curving the top to one side to form the look of a candy cane. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately sprinkle cookies with the sugar/peppermint mixture. Movie cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

This recipe adapted from the Betty Crocker Original Candy Cane Cookie recipe

https://homecookingmemories.com/candy-cane-cookies-recipe/