Favorite Real Thanksgiving Recipes

Now that the candy-comas of Halloween are behind us, let’s look ahead to the real reason to get excited for the Holidays…….FOOD! In case you are as surprised at how fast November is flying as we are, Thanksgiving is THIS THURSDAY! While everyone is gearing up with their elastic waistbands and carving knives for what will hopefully be a wonderful day of fun, food, family, and football, we are excited to share some of our favorite Thanksgiving Day Recipes to spice up your menu this year! Don’t forget – maternity pants make excellent “maturkey” pants – break those suckers out and enjoy.

tenor.gif

The Best Brines for the Main Event

Let’s start with the basics. Nothing will up-level your turkey easier than doing a little brine-action. Here are two of our all-time favorites. Bon Appetit’s simple and stunning dry salt brine for the modern chef, and a classic wet brine recipe from Alton Brown for the traditionalist.

Image 11-19-18 at 13.55

Dry-Rubbed Roast Turkey, Christiana

This recipe IS the picture-perfect roast turkey you’ve been looking for (your whole life). It cooks to a perfect crisp brown on the outside and remains juicy and flavorful on the inside. The best part is you don’t have to run out for any special ingredients. You can cook this with literally just the salt and sugar brine come up a winner. The glaze adds a delicious complexity of flavors as well. We also stuff the cavity with lemon and a bundle of whatever fresh herbs we have on hand.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Diamond Crystal or ¼ cup plus 1½ tsp. Morton kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 12–14-lb. turkey, neck reserved for gravy, giblets discarded, patted dry
  • 12 Tbsp. (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 2×1″ strips orange zest

To Make:

  1. Mix salt and brown sugar together in a medium bowl using your fingers until incorporated. Place turkey on a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle dry brine all over outside and inside of the turkey, and nudging some into crevices. You won’t need all of the dry brine, but it’s good to have extra since some of it will end up on the baking sheet as you season the turkey. Chill turkey, uncovered, at least 12 hours and up to 2 days. We load a large cooler with LOTS of ice. DO NOT let it get warm or you’ll be remembered as the grinch who food-poisoned the family.
  2. Remove turkey from wire rack and rinse baking sheet and rack if needed (turkey will most likely release some liquid onto pan). Line baking sheet with 3 layers of foil and set rack back inside. Place turkey, breast side up, on rack and tuck wings underneath. Let turkey sit at room temperature 2–3 hours.
  3. Place an oven rack in middle of oven; preheat to 450°. Using your fingers, loosen skin on breast. Work 4 Tbsp. butter under skin, spreading evenly over both breasts. Smear outside of turkey with another 4 Tbsp. butter.
  4. Roast turkey, rotating pan halfway through, until skin is mostly golden brown all over, about 30 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, cook vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, garlic, orange zest, and remaining 4 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbling and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to lowest setting and keep glaze warm.

  6. Reduce oven temperature to 300° and continue to roast turkey, brushing with glaze every 30 minutes and adding more water by ½-cupfuls as needed to maintain some liquid in baking sheet, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast near the neck registers 150° (don’t worry; the temperature will continue to climb while the bird rests), 65–85 minutes longer. Skin should be deep golden brown, shiny, and crisp. Transfer turkey to a cutting board and let rest at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before carving.

Recipe by Andy Baraghani

chicken close up dish food

Traditional Turkey Brine, Kristy

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon vegetable broth, homemade or canned. I prefer to use homemade or
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped

To Make:

Combine the broth, salt, sugar, peppercorns, allspice, and ginger in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate the brine. I usually like to add a little herb bundle combination such as Rosemary, Thyme, and Spicy Oregano to the broth. You can also add some dry white wine to replace the sugar!

Place a 14-16lb turkey in a brining bag or large plastic bag. Make sure the entire thawed bird is immersed in liquid and brine for 24 hours.

This liquid also makes for an AWESOME basting fluid as the bird cooks. You can rinse the bird and then cook any way you wish – bag it, baste it, or grill it. Add more wine as needed to keep volume of basting liquid up. Super flavorful and very easy!

Fave Sides

Turkey tends to get all the spotlight on Thanksgiving, but let’s be honest, your dinner is nothing without some stellar sides. Here are a few of our time-tested favorites from stuffing to veggies (yes you can eat them on holidays!) and beyond.

CornBread and Sausage Stuffing, Kristy

fc67sm002-04-main.jpgPhoto credit: Fine Cooking.com

This recipe is so savory and sweet at the same time, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it! I get this recipe straight from Fine Cooking Magazine’s killer Spicy Thanksgiving Feast Menu.

I typically make the cornbread from scratch and leave it out to dry up overnight for that very perfect consistency to create moist, yet not MUSHY stuffing.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb sweet Italian Sausage (w/out casing), cut into chunks
  • 3-4 Tbs. rendered bacon fat or butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery, including leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red and green bell pepper (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • Basic Cornbread crumbled (feel free to use a mix!)
  • 1 cup chopped scallion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Turkey stock or homemade or low-salt chicken broth as needed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

I am a big fan of this recipe, so I typically double the batch in order to have some cook outside the turkey as well.

To Make:

Up to 3 days before: Prep cornbread and leave out overnight to dry out. Crumble up. Store until ready.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add enough rendered bacon fat or butter to the pan to get about 5 Tbs. total fat. Add the onion, celery, peppers, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook briefly until the onion is softened. I will pour about 1/4 cup of white wine in the pan here and scrape up any browned bits in the pan. Combine in a large bowl with the crumbled cornbread, scallions, parsley, chives, and pepper. Toss to combine. 

(If cooking in a turkey, put the stuffing in the bird just before roasting. Pack the stuffing loosely, leaving enough room to fit your whole extended hand into the bird’s cavity. Cook the stuffing in the bird to 160º to 165ºF, checking with an instant-read thermometer. If the bird is done before the stuffing is, take the bird out of the oven, spoon the stuffing into a casserole dish, and continue to bake it while the turkey rests.)

If baking some or all of the stuffing in a casserole, pour a cup or two of stock over the stuffing to replace the juices the stuffing would have absorbed from the bird. If you want to be “extra” pick up some turkey wings in addition to your bird and place over the top to drip juices into it. Bake it covered until heated through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. For a crunchy top, uncover it for the last 15 minutes of baking. I usually add some pads of butter here as well, for some extra flavor as the top is roasting.

Simple Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Christiana

green round vegetables

Feel like you need some greens to balance out all that turkey and stuffing? Us too, us too. But let’s be real, with all the activity in the kitchen, we like to keep our veggies easy-peasy on Thanksgiving Day. Luckily, harnessing the delicious, nutty flavor of Brussels sprouts requires very little effort. Even better, if you prep and slice the sprouts ahead of time, this dish can be in and out of the oven in 35-45 minutes, which also happens to be the perfect amount of time for your turkey to rest before serving. Boom-shakalaka.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package or about 1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tsp or more good kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp or more fresh ground black pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp oil of your choice (use bacon grease if you have it!)

To Make:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim and halve Brussels sprouts, pulling off any loose or browning leaves.
  2. Prepare a sheet pan with oil of your choice and spread Brussel Sprouts evenly in a single layer. Toss with remaining oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 35-45 minutes until outer leaves are crispy and golden to medium brown.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot!

Sweet Potatoes In Orange Cups (Plus Cocktail), Annie

potatoes cutting board wooden cooking
Photo by Ela Haney on Pexels.com

These are a bit labor intensive so usually one I bring if I’m not the host. They transport well and are impressive and reliably delicious! You’ll end up with a whole bunch of orange innards that you can utilize to make a fantastic light pre-dinner cocktail or mimosas for morning after. Makes 8 servings, modified from recipe by Emeril Lagasse.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs – about 7 large sweet potatoes (orange for traditional, white/Japanese if you wanna be fancy)
  • 4 large oranges
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (or 1/2 C coconut oil for dairy-free)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice (reserve the rest for cocktail)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or 1/2 cup coconut cream for dairy-free)
  • 1/4 cup brandy (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

To Make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let rest until just cool enough to handle.
  2. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Make the orange cups by cutting the oranges in half around equator and scooping out the pulp, leaving only the shell. Set aside.
  3. Peel the potatoes and put into a large bowl. Discard the skins and any tough, stringy fibers. Add the butter, and with an electric mixer, beat out the lumps. Add the 1/4 C sugar, eggs, orange juice, heavy cream, and brandy, and mix until smooth. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and mix well. Re-season with salt, more sugar or more spice to taste.
  4. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the orange cups, mounding and smoothing the top. Bake until puffed and slightly golden, about 20 minutes. For an indulgent, fun “traditional” spin, top with mini-marshmallows and broil or torch to brown.

The Grand Finale

Perfect Pie Crust, Annie

person holding knife and fork cutting slice of pie on brown wooden table
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

To me, Thanksgiving means homemade pie. I mean, after all the gratitude, etc… of course. I could happily do the whole holiday without a turkey, mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce altogether. Know that if you come to my house with a store-bought pie on this special day, you will be turned away at the door. jk. I’m not that crazy. I will throw that sh*t straight in the trash when you’re not looking though.

Having grown up in a home with amazing cooks who didn’t really do any baking, I went through a LOT of trial and error learning to make pie, and specifically pie crust. SO easy to mess up and end up with a gooey or dry crumbly mess. SO hard to get reliable, flaky, pretty results. It wasn’t until America’s Test Kitchen went and got super nerdy on the process that I found a perfect recipe that is ultra-easy AND reliable. It is not healthy, like, at all. If that’s your goal, skip pie. Here it is. Works with any filling you desire. Go forth and be thankful. Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

Ingredients (makes 1 crust):

  • 1 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour – DIVIDED to 3/4 C and 1/2 C (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 6 TBS cold, unsalted butter cut up into ~8 pieces
  • 1/4 C cold vegetable shortening, cut up
  • 2 TBS cold vodka or 1.5 TBS vodka and 1/2 TBS alcohol based vanilla extract
  • 2 TBS ice-cold water
  • Optional (spices, citrus zest…)

To Make:

  1. Process 3/4 C of the flour (NOT ALL OF IT), salt, sugar and spices if using in food processor a few times till mixed
  2. Open lid, sprinkle butter and shortening around the top. Close, process ~ 10 seconds until it resembles cottage cheese. Open up, scrape down sides.
  3. Add remaining 1/2 C flour and pulse until evenly distributed and dough is broken up. Usually 4-6 pulses. Empty into a cool dry bowl.
  4. Sprinkle water + vodka over the top and fold in with rubber spatula until dough is tacky and sticks together.
  5. Flatten into 4″ disc onto piece of saran wrap or wax paper and refrigerate AT LEAST 45 minutes.
  6. Take out, let come to temperature and roll out on some more flour to desired size. Put in pan and trim – enjoy bites of boozy dough from the edges 😉

The Lazy Gal’s Dessert, Margo

Image result for oreo trifle

This dessert is 100% easy and 100% delicious. It’s my go-to and is always a hit!

Ingredients:

  • Oreos – 1 package, crushed (this part is fun for kids – throw ’em in a double layer of gallon baggies and let them go to town smashing them)
  • 1 boxes Chocolate pudding mix, prepared as directed
  • 1 tub Cool whip or other whipped cream

To Make:

  1. Layer as follows: 1/2 crushed Oreos, 1/2 pudding, 1/2 whipped cream, 1/2 pudding, 1/2 whipped cream, 1/2 Oreos into trifle bowl or whatever you got that’s glass to show off the layers.
  2. Chill. Serve.

The Bevs

Orange Cardamom Sparkling Cocktail, Annie

For the rest of the orange juice from above or fresh squeezed orange juice from whatever else… adapted from this recipe by the awesome Gabriella. 

sliced lemons

Vanilla-Cardamom Simple syrup: bring 3/4 C granulated sugar, 1 C water, large pinch ground cardamom or a few cracked cardamom pods and a split vanilla bean just to a boil then take off heat until cool.

Cocktail: Shake 1 part cooled syrup + 2 parts fresh orange juice with ice. Pour into champagne glass, top with 2 parts dry sparking wine such as Brut or Blanc de Noirs. Garnish with orange slice if desired.

Wine, Margo

d5a5bac3-c516-466a-beca-d5d3b4936b72-2203-000002cbac9a288f

I may not be known for my cooking, but my company and my ability to bring beverages is unparalleled!

Ingredients:

  • White wine
  • Red wine
  • Rose wine

To Make:

  1. Open bottles
  2. Pour in glasses
  3. Enjoy food, drink, and conversation with wonderful people. Ignore the rest.

 

xoxoxo,

Christiana, Kristy, Annie, and Margo – who are all grateful for YOU!

Plane Travel with Littles: Carry-On Packing List

We didn’t necessarily intend to travel a ton with our two little ones but life keeps putting trips in our path and we aren’t ones to say no just because we have young children. That being said, we have worked out a pretty solid standard packing list for our carry-on bags through trial and… *ahem* error. Some items are universal, while others of course depend a bit on age of baby/kid, so that’s how I’ll divide it here.

17855440_10100114429978346_1648259230845133450_o.jpg

Our strategy with liquids is to show up to the airport with empty bottles and obtain water or milk or juice while we are there – much easier than the TSA hassle. If you’re flying with breastmilk, it’s best to have it frozen. Hot water is readily available to thaw it.

Universal list

Of course your own wallet, phone, charger, chapstick, scarf, sunglasses, medications and earphones….

flatlay photography of woman s things
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com
  1. Extra outfit (including underwear x2 for potty trained kids) for child in plastic baggy
  2. Extra outfit for you in plastic baggy (can’t stress the importance of this enough – kids can be naked wrapped in a blanket if sh*t hits the fan, you? not so much)
  3. Snacks: 1 per hour of travel. If baby is still nursing, these are of course for you since you are their snack. You’ll want these to be tempting enough that you can convince kids to eat easily during take-off and landing to pop their ears.
  4. Smallish blanket and lovey/stuffie
  5. Wipes – even if you’re well out of diaper change years, these are a good idea for wiping hands/noses/alllll the other messes and spills
  6. Cash in small bills – trust me, you’ll be a much happier traveler if you can pay people to move your luggage, use valet, and buy a snacks from a cash-only stand in case of emergency.
  7. Color photocopy of your child’s birth certificate and/or their passport. This is usually all you need to show for young kids and you can keep the actual identification packed deeply and safely in a zipper pocket so it’s not lost.
  8. Empty bottle, water bottle or sippie cup that seals completely – high altitude will otherwise make a major leakage issue!!
  9. Hand sanitizer. I prefer this spray, because it’s compact, smells nice and is easy to use and won’t leak.
  10. Empty gallon baggies x2 to contain dirty clothes, random snacks, puke…. whatever!

2-12 months

First of all, this list starts at 2 months because I do not recommend you take a baby on a plane younger than that unless absolutely necessary. There are a LOT of potential germ exposures and if that tiny newborn gets a fever, it’s considered a medical emergency and they would need multiple invasive tests to make sure they are safe. That being said, if you’re forced to travel between birth and 2 months, the list would not actually be that different. This assumes you’ll have baby as a lap-rider, not in their own seat – if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford the latter, you’ll also have the carseat.

  • Diapers: 1 per hour of total travel (car to airport, time in airport, plane, waiting for bags…. the whollllllle time) plus enough to get you to a store to buy more at the destination.
  • An extra extra outfit for baby – 2 total outfits. If you know your baby is prone to lots of pukes or blow-outs, do 3.
  • Extra pacifier (if your baby takes one) on a leash
  • Baby carrier of choice
  • Extra muslin or thin flannel blanket
  • Entertainment Ideas: You want things that are small to pack, can be cleaned and are not going to get lost between or under the seats when baby plays “throw on the floor” repeatedly.
Bright Starts Clack and Slide Activity Ball
Activity Ball: can be put on a leash so you don’t lose it under the plane seats and can be wiped down if dirty
Baby Paper Crinkly Baby Toy, Triangle Print
Krinkle paper: no one knows why babies love this so much but they do.
Baby Teething Necklace for Mom, Silicone Teething Beads, 100% BPA Free (Gray, Mint, White, Gray)
Teething necklace: you’re gonna get slobbered on anyway, might as well have it be something easy to clean.

If you breastfeed exclusively, that’s it!

PRO TIP: Do whatEVER you have to do to wait to feed baby during take-off and landing. Hold out until the plane is actually accelerating down the runway or your own ears pop. IGNORE the people giving you dirty looks as baby screams while you’re on the runway or in the initial descent. This is the best way to make sure their tiny ears pop. For older kids – hold out with those fruit snacks, juice boxes, etc… for the same time period.

If you pump:

If you formula feed:

  • Empty bottles with nipples and caps x2
  • Formula servings for twice the amount your baby would normally eat in the TOTAL travel time. ie: if the time from leaving your house to arriving at the final destination is 8 hours door-to-door and baby usually takes in four 4oz bottles in 8 hours (16oz) pack enough formula for 32 oz of bottle. This ensures you’re ok in case of delays, dropped/lost bottles and baby eating extra for comfort, etc… We loved this Joovy container to keep servings straight, but you can also just pack in baggies.

1 year through potty training

    • Optional: 1 bottle of milk in a cooler bag if you’re worried there’s not a cafe or shop you can buy some milk past security.

Potty Training and Beyond

A note about screen time here…. should you plug your kid into a screen for hours on end on a regular basis?? NO. Should you let them watch 2 movies back to back on a plane so you can read a kindle book and relax? Heck to the yes! Embrace the screen time during travel, it will save you so much sanity which you’ll need when dealing with checked luggage and rental cars.

  • Tablet loaded with a couple games, movies or shows. We Real M*thers love Endless School Bundle, Daniel Tiger’s Grrriffic Feelings, Shape Builder, Magic Fingers Lite and Peg + Cat Big Gig. Post coming soon with more info on this!
  • Headphones

These are super comfy, pack down small and come in all different fun styles.

  • Water wow pads and MagnaDoodles are still great fun for bigger kids, and coloring books are also a great option at this age.

To Gate-check or Not To Gate-check

There are a lot of arguments for/against the gate-checking of strollers and car seats. On the one hand, it can be convenient to have all of that right when you arrive. You don’t have to wonder if it’s actually going to make it to your destination because gate-checking tends to be super reliable. On the other hand, schlepping that mountain of stuff through the airport, folding it up on the jetway, waiting around for it on de-planing and schlepping some more is, well…. a schlep.

My strategy has always been to travel as light as possible, so we have usually rented at the destination. You can add a carseat to a rental car with any major company and get cribs and even high chairs from most hotels. You can also arrange rentals of strollers, bouncers, pack & play cribs and more through companies like Baby’s Away. They deliver and pick up from homes or hotels and have been fantastic for us.

Dr. Annie is a married mom of 2 with another one on the way and family physician with travel to more than 20 countries under her belt.

 

Strong Women Series: Niroshika De Silva and Tutu School

About a year ago, I (Annie) had the absolute pleasure of having this amazing woman twirl into my life at a mutual friend’s wedding. She has created the dance studio of dreams – balancing the fun of dance, high quality teaching with a focus on joy, healthy body image and growing in strength as much as beauty as a dancer. With a degree in psychology, she knows what she’s talking about here – and she’s now a proud mama of her own little tutu-wearer. Talk about inspiring! 

In a quaint space where the lights of chandeliers bounce off of perfectly pink, purple, and yellow walls, little dancers giddily curl up on polka dots to whisper and then scream,

I LOVE BALLET!

With their enthusiasm radiating through the room and their excitement contagious beyond belief, it is clear that they absolutely do. This. This right here is the magic of Tutu School. To make sure that every child should know what it feels like to dance without feeling self-conscious about being “right” or “perfect.” To freely let their bodies flow to the scores of classical music, using their imaginations, to tell a story about empowerment, courage, and perseverance. And most importantly? To feel proud of the art that they create with their hearts and minds. Ballet at Tutu School is so much more than twirling. It’s a whimsical home for many children where they can learn important developmental skills and life lessons…they just happen to do so while wearing tutus or princely capes.

43601448_964459970409775_8803192835076521984_n.jpg

As a former ballerina and current owner of Tutu School Union City, I can attest to the fact that BALLET.IS.HARD. Like REALLY hard. I stuck with it for my entire childhood and most of my adulthood because I wholeheartedly loved it but there were plenty of moments when it was also a love-hate relationship. In a somewhat strange way, I thrived in the ballet world through all of the competition because I succumbed to it and adopted the world as “my normal” since I didn’t know any better.

43408522_276384532980877_7804811688368144384_n.jpg
Little Niro, Swan Lake, San Francisco Ballet

As horrible as that may sound, I don’t regret living in the world of ballet for one second because I don’t think I would be half the person I am today if I hadn’t. I learned to be ambitious, perseverant, and a whole host of other important skills that allowed me to become the psychologist and business woman I am now. However, I think if I had a tutu school experience as a child, I don’t know that I would have battled with myself as much during my tween years when I was confused about loving and hating ballet at the same time.

Many of us may recall the days when we explored ballet as young children. The odds are, you decided not to stick with it for a variety of reasons but a common one is that it was just strict and competitive. No one likes being told that they don’t have what it takes or only speaking when you’re spoken to (and let’s be honest, even then…just don’t open your mouth…just don’t). These classroom environments are designed to create the level of physical and emotional strength required to be a professional ballerina…except that it doesn’t leave room for continuing the appreciation of the art form when you’re young and unsure if you want to be a ballerina or not.

43622185_2059984970699321_3165030944532856832_n.jpg

Enter Tutu School. A whimsical boutique ballet school designed for young dancers to introduce children to ballet while fostering an everlasting appreciation for the art form because of the incorporation of creativity and imagination. In any given class, a child may leap like a fiery dragon, fly on the tops of their toes like a butterfly, or stretch like a rainbow in a magical garden. Children learn themes of bravery, forgiveness, and unconditional positive regard in classical stories such as the Firebird, Giselle, and Swan Lake. And just in case that’s not enough, they practice and develop skills of executive functioning, sharing, turn taking, and perseverance through learning short phrases of choreography and “performing solos” while dancing across the floor during class activities.

43401201_292589391572368_7615642392141496320_n.jpg
Photo Credit Andrew Weeks Photography

As a mother of a daughter who already is showing interest in sparkles, headbands, and pink (guys, she’s seven months…am I in trouble?), I can absolutely say that I will expose her to classes at Tutu School. If she loves it and wants to pursue more formal training, great! If she doesn’t, that’s ok too (I’m not hyperventilating…I swear!) but she will gain invaluable skills from ballet classes at Tutu School that she can take with her no matter what she decides to do.

If you’d like your little one to experience the magic of a Tutu School class, then by all means, register for a free trial class! There are locations all across the Bay Area and in several other states as well! Classes are geared for children ranging between the ages of 18 months to 8 years old and they’ll skip, gallop, and leap their little hearts out. Be prepared for a whole bunch of cuteness!

If you’re not in the Bay Area, look for studios that mention that they base their children’s classes on creative movement until the age of 8, which is the developmentally appropriate age to start formal ballet training. If the studio offers a Trial class, that’s a good way to see if they uphold that philosophy or not!

What are your favorite dance memories? Do you still boogy in the kitchen with your kids today? Comment below!! Also, let us know about other #strongwomen we should feature here! 

43548768_245338792997253_4145805452631867392_n.jpg

 

Niroshika De Silva is a mama, dance teacher extraordinaire, and owner of Tutu School Union City with a degree in psychology.

http://www.tutuschool.com

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Air

The exhilarating feeling of getting fresh air on a perfect fall-ish day is something I always forget how much I love until I get the opportunity to do it. Sometimes, I even have to be forced into it by what could be seen as an unfortunate turn of events…

Saturday, I decided to spend the majority of the day outside with the kids.  It was gorgeous.  We took a long walk/run throughout the neighborhood.  Levi asked, “Do you think Aiden (our neighbor who we’ve only seen once) wants to come out and play?”

Usually, I would say, “He’s probably busy, bud.”  But that day, the fresh air must have gone to my head.  “Let’s knock on his door and find out!”  After all, that’s how I made friends when I was a kid.

We knocked on the door and his grandma answered.  They already had plans and were about to head out for the day, but she encouraged us to try back tomorrow.  I promised we would.  Success, just delayed a bit.

On the walk back, we decided to take the long route, down the back gravel roads.  Levi asked lots of good questions about the trees, the holes that (hopefully) were bunny burrows, and imagined some rocks were dinosaur fossils from a T-Rex who used to roam in our area long ago.

When we arrived back home, off to the trampoline we went.

Image may contain: 1 person, playing a sport, shoes, sky and outdoor

Then, to the swing set.  Then, the kids got some ice pops and rode around in Levi’s little Jeep.

Image may contain: Lee Cook, smiling, outdoor and nature

Idyllic is certainly a word that comes to mind.  When I envisioned having kids, this was the dream.  A blue house on a cul-de-sac.  Riding bikes, taking walks, swinging and ice-pops.  Watching my studly husband fix things outdoors with his muscles shining in the sun.

Image may contain: tree, car, outdoor and nature

You know what I didn’t dream of?  Realizing I had lost my keys somewhere on that long, long walk and having to retrace my steps 2.5 miles to try to find them, only to come home and find them wedged under the sun-visor of the stroller.

Still, I had had such a good day that I managed to laugh at myself and carry on.  I think the universe knew I needed more fresh air and had to force me into it 😉 For dinner, we went out for pizza and got the kids some ice cream. After all, we burned a lot of calories with our accidental adventure!

Despite my absent-mindedness, Saturday was a blazing success, and a nice reminder to enjoy the weekend, and ignore the chores sometimes.  They can wait, and they won’t mind.  But my kids can’t, and they do. Three cheers for the power of fresh air! Go get yourself some!

What are your favorite fall fresh-air activities to do with the family? We want to hear all about it!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, closeupMargo is a financial advisor back in school again and a married mom of 2 in Maryland.

 

Disaster Preparedness, Baby & Child

As Hurricane Florence stares down the eastern seaboard and wildfires continue to rage in California, it would seem remiss to ignore that a natural disaster will likely touch all of us in some way at some point in our lifetime. Disaster preparedness is a major issue for everyone, but particularly for those of us with small children. Infants, pregnant/nursing mothers, and young children have particular needs that may not be covered by your standard emergency kit or checklist.

fire fighter wearing black and yellow uniform pointing for something

 

To save a lot of googling, anxiety, and time (we know you already don’t have any…), we’ve compiled some of the best official disaster preparedness resources and thrown some emergency prep essentials from our own professional and parenting experience in the mix too. Some of these items are simply for comfort, while others could truly save lives.

first aid case on wall

Basic Disaster Survival Kit

According to experts at the American Red Cross, a basic disaster supplies kit should include the following items:

  • A supply of water (one gallon per person per day). Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers. Identify the storage date and replace every six months.
  • A supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food and a non-electric can opener.
  • A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags.
  • A first aid kit and prescription medications.
  • An extra pair of glasses.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
  • Credit cards and cash.
  • An extra set of car keys.
  • A list of family physicians.
  • A list of important family information; the style and serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers.
  • Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.

You can view and download the complete American Red Cross emergency preparedness checklist here.

woman holding baby while sitting on fur bean bag

 

Extras for pregnant moms-to-be, infants and children:

While the Red Cross checklist is a great place to start, “special items for infants” doesn’t exactly help the stressed-mom-trying-to-pack-everything mode we all enter when trying to provide for the safety and welfare of our children in the face of disaster. Luckily, the March of Dimes created an emergency checklist specifically for pregnant moms and parents with small children. They suggest adding the following items to your family’s disaster preparedness supplies.

Pregnant Mothers:

If you’re expecting, your disaster preparedness kit should include basically what you plan to pack in your L&D hospital bag, along with some (admittedly rather scary-sounding) emergency birth supplies, as follows.

pregnancy pregnant motherboard parenthoof

 

  • Emergency birth supplies (such as clean towels, sharp scissors, infant bulb syringe, medical gloves, two white shoelaces, sheets, and sanitary pads)
  • two blankets
  • closed-toe shoes
  • maternity and baby clothes
  • prenatal vitamins and other medications
  • nutritious foods, such as protein bars, nuts, dried fruit and granola
  • extra bottled waterbaby sleeping on white cotton

 

For baby & child:

If you have an infant/toddler/small child, think about adding the following supplemental items to your emergency supplies to keep baby happy and healthy.

  • Baby food in pouches or jars and disposable feeding spoons
  • Extra baby blankets, clothes, and shoes
  • a thermometer
  • copies of vaccination records
  • antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer
  • dish soap
  • a portable crib
  • baby sling or carrier
  • diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
  • medications and infant pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • small disposable cups
  • ready-to-feed formula in single serving cans or bottles

For more information, you can access the full March of Dimes emergency preparedness checklist here.

brown bear plush toy on bed

 

Additional Real As A M*ther Essentials

From our collective Real M*ther experience, the following items can also be invaluable for baby, child, and parent during extended power outages and temporary lodging situations that often accompany storms and natural disasters.

Anker cell phone charger

This rechargeable cell phone charger can provide you with extra hours of phone battery life when the power is out. Given all that we rely on our cellular devices for these days, it’s smart to have a way to access important information stored on your phone.

Nursing supplies for breastfeeding moms

Nursing pads, lanolin ointment/coconut oil, breast pump (with batteries and/or manual!) and bottling supplies, nursing pillow and extra blankets. Extra pacifiers.

 

Battery powered lanterns

Candles are too dangerous, and flashlights become play-things in our house full of little ones. These waterproof Energizer lanterns are functional, bright, and provide hands-free illumination for a whole room. They also have a nightlight setting for which is great for kids’ rooms at night, and a 350 hour run time. We have three and use them almost constantly for one thing or another.

baby s green and purple highchair

 

Non-perishable kid’s protein sources

Getting your kids to eat is hard enough in perfect weather. When conditions may be challenging (OK, basically anything that involves the refrigerator not working is challenging with kids, but hangry kids won’t help) keep their bellies full with healthy, non-perishable protein sources. Some of our favorites are:

  • Earth’s Best baby yogurt pouches;
  • Nut butters like these Justin’s single-serve almond butter pouches (and don’t forget the Nutella!);
  • Larabars (natural ingredients, but soft enough for little ones to munch);
  • Horizon organic milk boxes (no refrigeration required); and
  • Snap Pea crisps (5g of pea protein per serving!)

Additional medicines for baby & child

Children’s Benadryl, Allergy/Asthma medications (as required), Simethicone drops or Gripe Water for little tummies. Band-aids, peroxide, and Neosporin for slips and falls and bumps.

Battery operated fans

In the hot summer months of hurricane season, the air circulation provided by even a small fan can go a long way to help kids and adults sleep comfortably during power outages. These O2Cool portable fans can be battery operated, no cords required.

man person cute young

 

Battery powered sound machine

A little sleep goes a long way for everyone. A comforting song or white noise is a great way to help little ones (and adults for that matter) sleep in cramped, loud, or new environments, and when the electricity is out these battery powered machines can be a big help keeping little ones asleep without draining your phone.

brown and white bear plush toy

 

Comfort Objects and distractions

Stuffed teddy, puzzles, favorite books. Whatever makes your kids feel comfortable, along with a few activities to keep their minds active and away from potential disaster-related anxieties.

Birth Certificates

If you are concerned about damage to your home or potential evacuation, you can avoid a lot of potential hassle by bringing your child’s birth certificate along. Many times, we forget that children need ID in several situations too!

four person taking selfie while wearing blue volunteer t shirt

 

Your Village

Remember that no matter what your circumstances, no one experiences a natural disaster alone.  Reach out to neighbors, school groups, church groups, and shelters. Get out of your comfort zone and connect. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help, and how many you can likely help as well. At the end of the day, we are all the village.

fullsizeoutput_66b

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone recovering from, and preparing for a natural disaster. Be safe y’all.

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe & wine explorer.

Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography

Dr. Annie Answers: Back to School Sniffles

Is back-to-school time giving anyone else the sniffles yet? No, I’m not talking about the emotional “my baby is growing up ones”. Though, holy pregnancy hormones, Kindergarten meet-and-greet had me reaching for the tissues tonight!!

Seriously though, I’m talking about the cold virus, mucus-attack-from-all-the-new-people-germs ones.

Cold and Flu Season

“Back-to-school” in my line of work means office visits are about to pick back up to packed days of people suffering with upper respiratory infections (URIs). If your kid is in daycare or just starting school after staying home with you – get ready for the fall/winter viral rodeo! We expect normal young children to get between 6-8 viruses per ‘school season’ in those first few years of exposure. Yep, that means pretty much one per month. This is all part of developing their little immune systems. Yayyyyy! Not.

Don’t despair though, people – once they get this immune system 101 out of the way, the frequency of illness decreases dramatically – generally by the time they hit 5-7 years old. Not everyone thinks this is a good thing – there were many, many tears from my 5 year old last year when 3 year old sister kept getting fevers and staying home from daycare with me, “I never get sick!!! It’s not FAIR!!!”. Proof that you can’t please everyone as a mom.

What the health?

Three questions come up over and over and over again in my office:

  1. Is it contagious?
  2. Do they need antibiotics?
  3. Do they need to stay home from daycare/school?

The answers to those, respectively are:

  1. “Yes, duh. If you are acutely sick with pretty much anything that is not food poisoning or an actual venomous snake/insect bite it is contagious”
  2. “Probably not. 85-95% of these are viruses not bacteria so antibiotics will do nothing except mess up your kid’s microbiome, probably give them diarrhea and probably increase rates of obesity.” Did that last part catch your attention? Check out This Article in Scientific American if you want to read a little more…
  3. “That depends.”. Let me expand on number 3 a bit.

And in case you’re wondering – no, that is not how I communicate with patients at my office. But this is Real As A M*ther and I’m gonna shoot you straight here.

To Stay Home or Not To Stay Home

That is the question, amiright? For me, staying home with one of my kids sick means either my husband or myself cancel 15-25 patients’ visits that they’ve been waiting for sometimes for weeks. Plus using my nearly non-existent PTO (no, doctors do not get great benefits a la Google employees). If I don’t really need to keep my kids home, I’m not gonna.

On the other hand – I know that other people who’s precious little ones are in our daycare or school are in a similar boat, so I’m also not going to go all Typhoid Mary and send my kids in to take down the class.  Here are the rules we go by – some dictated by science and some by school policy and some by just plain ol’ common sense.

  1. Pukers stay home until they’re eating normal food for 24 hours without relapse. This one is science + common sense.
  2. If fever happens (over 100.4F on oral or rectal thermometer), kid stays home until fever-free for 24 hours. This one is usually a daycare and school policy. It’s a little arbitrary since you can still be contagious with a virus for several days after the fevers go away. Usually you’re shedding less of the viral badness by then though. I would go with this as a minimum rule *but* if your kid has no temperature and yet still seems pretty sick, give it another day or two. 
    • IMPORTANT: This rule is different if you choose not to give your child a flu shot or the other routine childhood vaccinations. I’m not getting into any rights/wrongs here, but bottom line, if your child does not have flu or other major immunities and they get a fever, you MUST quarantine them for at least 10-14 days after any febrile (fever) illness. That means at HOME. Not taking them with you to Target to pick up a few things. Not hanging out at the library or the park. You do not get to take those germs in public to potentially kill other babies or people with weak immune systems. Period. Moving on…
  3. Diarrhea is a little tricker… in so many ways. This generally also earns a home-stay until it at least slows down to non-urgent, soft but not watery poos only a few times a day (I’m not being gross, you’re gross. Doctors have no TMI mode). If your kid is potty trained and old enough to wash their hands well or little and still fully in diapers, they can go back then. If they’re still in potty training mode and likely to have an accident, they should be kept home until they’re back to normal because that poo is still highly contagious for up to 2 weeks and who knows where it will end up. 
  4. Sniffles and coughs are generally ok to go in if they come without fever or rashes. However, if your child has asthma and needs to be watched more carefully or seems too sick to be able to be managed with only the offer of tissues or sips of water, keep them home until they’re better.
  5. Mouth sores, fever with a rash or a very sore throat should usually be checked out by a doctor before going to school. Some kids will get a ‘viral exanthem’ or viral rash at the end of the fever part of illness that is fine if it’s super mild – like you barely can tell it’s there, but if you’re not sure, get them checked.
  6. If they’re given antibiotics because the doctor is SURE it’s something bacterial like strep throat or true pink eye, they need to be on the meds and ALSO fever free for 24 hours before returning.

Gesundheit!

Got it? Great! Tell your friends and your mom and your sister and your cousin with all those kids. And as always, remember I’m not your personal doctor so take this as fun information and ask them specifically about any questions or worries. Getting your kiddo checked out in the office is always an option.

DSC_4458BW Dr. Annie is a family doctor, mom of 2 with 1 on the way and expert booger catcher in the Sacramento area.

10 Reasons why your kids are like law school roommates from Hell

As I transition into this season of my life where I spend more of my day surrounded by children than adults, I have noticed some striking similarities between my darling young children and another group of people with whom I was privileged to spend a good number of my days as well. Wait for it… law students.

adult blur books close up

Now, you may think “whoa, whoa, whoa my kid is definitely not a blood-thirsty litigator-to-be or self-righteous mumbler of constitutional convictions!”  I hear you. But truly, neither are most law students.  Actually, based on my (dare I say, experienced?!) observations, law students and young kids share some pretty similar day-to-day living habits. And really, this list just makes me laugh out loud.

10 Reasons why your kids are like law school roommates from Hell:

1. They attempt to use words in discussion that they don’t really understand yet.

2. They try to pass off pajamas as proper clothes. (Particularly to school.)

3. They pass out in random places, at random times.

4. They try to steal, and subsequently lose ALL your notes.

This includes lists, calendars, and pretty much anything else in paper form.

5. They start arguments over the smallest issue for no apparent reason.

6. They seem to exist entirely on snack food.

And leave said snack food in ALL the couches.

7. They say they “want to read” with you and then bolt after the first few pages.

8. They unapologetically raid your groceries.

IMG_6628

9. They continue to debate an issue ad nauseum long after a decision has been reached.

10. They can, without fail, think of 998 other things that urgently need doing before homework.

In reality, I had two super-fab law-school roommates who are now both super successful #lawyermoms and (unlike myself) fully understood the words they used and did NOT pass out in random places. But let’s be honest, we were all kind of like this all “knew someone”

Keep laughing friends, Monday is already partway through! Cheers to your week (perhaps with your littlest roommates) from REAL AS A M*THER!

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography