AquaTots is Coming to Indianapolis...

And here’s why you’ll love them!


You know that feeling when you meet someone and just click? That’s how I felt walking into AquaTots – or rather the building that will soon be home to the newest swim school facility in greater Indianapolis.

Right as I opened the door, two bright, smiling faces greeted me. They said hello. They were juggling a toddler on one hip and a sleeping baby in a stroller, but didn’t miss a beat in welcoming me to what will soon house a large, 4.5-foot deep, all-inclusive swim school ‘experience.’  

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Playground Fitness


Get Fit at the Playground!


With summer here already and the temperatures finally warming up, it’s a great time to get outside with your little ones and enjoy all the parks around Hamilton County! And while you are there playing with your adorable kids, you might as well get in a little workout!


I'd like to share some fun ways that you can get fit at your neighborhood playground! 




Cardio Jumps

Standing next to a balance beam or another low ledge, such as the side of a sandbox, then hop sideways over it. Jump back and forth continuously for one minute, landing with knees slightly bent to absorb the impact. If your little one is old enough, you can hold their hands so you can both jump together and make a game out if it!


Swing Plank with Push

To work your arms and core muscles, stand about two feet in front of a swing, placing both forearms in the middle of the seat. Slowly lean forward, pushing the swing away from you until body is straight. Hold for three seconds. Next, use arms and abs to bring the swing back in front of you. Have your little one on the swing next to you, so they can have fun as well, while you get a great core and arm workout!


Ladder Squat

To work on your hips, thighs and buns, climb halfway up a jungle gym ladder and lightly grasp the handrails. Slowly lower your butt until thighs are parallel to the ground; hold for three seconds, keeping abs engaged and squeezing lower-body muscles. Carefully return to start position. While you are doing this exercise, have your little one on the opposite side of the ladder standing or in their stroller so you can play a fun game of peek-a-boo!

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Strawberry Basil Lemonade: Recipe of the Week




All this hot weather has gotten us screaming for a nice cold glass of lemonade!  With strawberries in season and basil blooming, this is one of our favorite lemonades.  Enjoy!



Handful of Basil

1 container of strawberries




You can make your own lemonade or buy some.  To make an entire pitcher, add all the strawberries and basil. 

Use a wooden spoon to muddle them. (Smash them up.)  Once it is muddled, you can add your lemonade and ice.  Voila, a delicious and refreshing treat!



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Mom of the Month: Trisha


It is hard to believe that this CityMom ever described herself as shy considering that she now serves as the voice for The Riley Children’s Foundation and performs regularly in local musical theater. Trisha Shepherd had her first solo performance as a munchkin kid in a local production of Wizard of Oz, and from that point forward she was “absolutely hooked”. She developed her voice and has been using it proudly ever since.


Mom to three busy children—Calvin, 13; Clara, 10; and Daisy May, 6—Trisha is always on the move. “My life is very busy. It’s nonstop, but I’m not complaining”. Trisha is used to being busy. Before serving in her current role at Riley, Trisha worked for many years as a news anchor. Although she was incredibly successful, Trisha struggled with the demands her career put on her family. She grew tired of missing evenings with her family and the rigidity of her schedule. So, she decided to make a change and leave her career. The transition was big and at times scary, but from it came exciting opportunities. Trisha published Know When To Run last Summer, which chronicles her struggle with and decision to leave her job as a news anchor. 

Trisha is enjoying this new chapter in her life as a busy professional, but one who finally gets to spend lots of quality time with her children. Her son plays on a traveling baseball team, which can be quite demanding, and she is adjusting to life as a single parent. Trisha says she is learning to be humble and ask for help when she needs it and recognize that she doesn’t have to do everything.


Her job as the Lead Storyteller for the Riley Children’s Foundation is right up her alley. It is journalism at the core, according to Trisha, and she has “the best stories to tell.” Another great perk of her job is the flexibility that allows her to attend her son’s baseball games, freelance for Indy’s Child magazine, and to participate in her other love: musical theater. Trisha is currently rehearsing for the show Billy Elliot in which she plays Bill’s dead mother. The show will be performed at Marian University. Trisha tries to perform in at least one show a year, and now her daughters are getting involved, making it a family affair.


Trisha describes her personal mom style as laid back. She said, “I embrace going for it and doing what you love even when it’s challenging.” She is not afraid of a little mess and chaos. She recently threw her daughter’s birthday party on Mother’s Day, which is emblematic of her relaxed and whimsical parenting style. She said it was the only day where there weren’t a dozen other plans already, so she figured why not? She doesn’t like to overthink things.

Trisha has enjoyed her involvement with theCityMoms. She likes that the group can be “as much or as little as you want it to be.” She appreciates that she can meet such a variety of people and “network with supportive women”. She has especially enjoyed practicing her Spanish with certain members of the group and meeting people that she wouldn’t ordinarily cross paths with in her daily life.

What does the future hold for Trisha? She would like to publish another book. She will continue to tell the touching and emotional stories about the amazing work being done at Riley Hospital, and she will embrace the business of being a single mother to three busy children. She said, “Enjoy what you have even if it’s simple.”

And now for the important questions…

Q) What five items would you bring to a desert island?

1. Piano

2. Mini Mexican restaurant

3. Good wine

4. Her kids

5. A hammock

Q) What is currently playing on your ITunes right now?

The Billy Elliot soundtrack, in particular “The Letter”

Q) What are you currently reading?

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Q) What is a fond recent mom memory?

Throwing a Mother’s day birthday party for my six year old daughter. It was the only free day ;) My 10 year old made me a bouquet of flowers from her last show. They were wilting and near death, but the gesture was so sweet.


Q) What has been a cringe-worthy moment lately?

Her son texted her saying he urgently needed a specific piece of masculine sports equipment. She rushed to bring it to him in the middle of a muddy field. She is sure he was mortified.

Q) What is your guilty pleasure?

“It’s awful, but watching “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” with some friends and some wine.”


Stay tuned next month to see which CityMom Trisha thinks you should know!

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Ask Amanda: Child Anxiety


This is a combined question from two concerned moms.

Q) My five year old has started showing signs of anxiety, stomach hurts every night at lights out. How do I support her without being either dismissive or enabling?

I'm interested in learning more about this, too. My almost 5 year old gets overwhelmed easily and has a hard time calming down. I wonder if he has anxiety, too.

A) Anxiety can be an underlying cause of a variety of undesired behaviors in children, from inattention to sadness and withdrawal. Read more about the signs of anxiety in children HERE.

What Not To Say

You’re not alone in your concerns about being too dismissive or enabling. Often, parents are unsure how to respond when their child bombards them with worries and fears.

Avoid statements like, "It will be okay" or "Don't worry about it" or “It’s not a big deal.” These can minimize their feelings.

Instead, we want to help them identify what they're feeling and show empathy. We want them to know that even if a feeling is uncomfortable and overwhelming, we can still figure out a way to resolve it.

Try these more reassuring statements instead, "I can see you're upset" or "I can tell this is a big deal for you."

We can acknowledge and help them label their feelings in this way without encouraging the anxiety. Labeling can help them seem more concrete and easier to resolve, rather than just some vague, confusing discomfort.

Encourage Self-Help

Of course we want our children to feel safe and supported. We can do so more effectively by helping them generate reassuring statements for themselves, rather than relying on us to do it for them.

Trying asking questions that challenge the irrationality of the fear. “How likely is it that [insert fear/worry] will happen?” Or, “What are the odds that your fear will come true?”

A simple example might be if they are afraid of the dark or don’t want to go to sleep at night. We can reassure them about all the times they were in the dark or slept by themselves and nothing bad happened.

Ask about things they can do to feel less afraid. Or ask what might help them feel safer. Maybe they would like an extra blanket or stuffed animal. 

If they're worried about a test or grade, ask them what they can do to feel more confident. 'What could you do to feel more prepared/confident?'

If they can't think of anything, ask "Would you feel better if you studied more?"

Sometimes, if the child is mature enough to articulate their needs, we can simply ask, "How can I help you?" or simply say, "Let me know how I can help."

We want to encourage self-sufficiency, but we also want them to know we are here, if and when, they need us. We don’t always have to jump to their rescue. If we are confident in their ability to handle it, then they will be to.

If they're already pretty upset, just listening (and a hug or two) can work wonders. As they talk it out, they might be able to discover a solution.

Super Powers


Try teaching your kiddo some Fear Fighting Super Powers, like deep breathing.

Have them pretend there's a balloon in their belly, inhaling to blow it up and exhaling to let the air out. There's a cute Sesame Street video on YouTube with Elmo, Colbie Caillat, and Common singing a song about "belly breathing." Check it out HERE

Another Super Power is to use progressive muscle relaxation.  

One kid-friendly strategy is to pretend they are an uncooked piece of spaghetti, all rigid and straight. Then, they go limp, like cooked spaghetti, to relax all over. Each time, have them count to five before switching.

They can also try it with different body parts. Start with their feet by curling their toes tight, while inhaling, and then exhale as they relax their feet. They can progressively do this with all their parts from bottom to top or head to toe.

Doing these exercise a few times should relax them or at least calm them down enough to have a more rational conversation about their fears. It might just distract them enough that they forget the whole thing!

I love these techniques because kiddos can do them anywhere without necessary equipment. Added bonus, they work for mom and dad, too!

What super powers have you found helpful to fight your kiddo’s fears? Share in the comments below!

Thanks for taking the time,


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Crispy Glazed Tofu Bok Choy: Recipe of the Week
There are many things I would like to take credit for.  Most I cannot, like this recipe, totally stolen and only slightly modified. However, I can take credit for finding a recipe that had all four kids asking for seconds of tofu and bok choy.  This is delicious, and if you cringe at the thought of tofu, consider substituting diced chicken. After all, the secret is in the sauce.
Ingredients for the tofu:
14 oz package go extra firm tofu
1/4 cup plum sauce
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp soy sauce (we use low sodium)
1 Tbsp rice wine or cooking wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
If you have never worked with tofu before, there are a few things you must do: 
1. Open and drain the package
2. Take the tofu out and lay it on a plate or a cutting board with a paper towel under it
3. Place another towel on top of it, and then put something solid on it, like two plates or a pan, and squeeze
That’s it, easy peasy.  Just let the water squeeze out until you are ready to use it.  15-30 minutes.
In the meantime, add all the ingredients other than the oil to a bowl and whisk together.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat until it shimmers.  It’s time to cube your tofu!  This is truly one of the most satisfying and calming kitchen chopping routines you can do.  I can’t explain it…
Add tofu to the pan in a single layer.  Do not stir for three minutes in order to get a nice brown crust, then go to town.  Stir frequently for the next 6-8 minutes until tofu is browned on all sides.  Add the sauce and stir well, cooking for 2-3 minutes.  You want everything covered and caramelized.
Ingredients for the bok choy:
*you may want to follow the recipe in the link, but I do a simple preparation
2tsp sesame oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 baby bok choy
Chop the bok choy in half length wise.  Coat a skillet over medium high heat with the oil.  Sauté the garlic and then add the bok choy.  Cook for 3 minutes until wilted and bright green.  Add chicken broth and cover.  Steam until tender.
That’s it!  I did add toasted sesame seeds because I was feeling ambitious and I already had some.  Enjoy!
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Dogs and Kids: What You Need to Know

May 15th through May 21st is national dog bite prevention week. As a veterinarian I will tell you that all dogs bite given the right (or wrong) circumstances, and children are at the biggest risk of being bitten. The most common behaviors that lead to dog bites towards kids are ones that, to us, are extremely normal. For babies and toddlers, the biggest risk factors include dogs guarding food/toys, toddlers falling or stepping on the dog, or pulling on the dog’s fur, ears, or tail. For older children bites tend to be triggered by hugging and kissing the dog, or petting the dog in a way or at a time the dog doesn’t like. As a mom, I want everyone in my household to be safe, healthy, and happy (this last one is not always a reasonable goal, I realize).

The biggest thing to remember is that most bites come from dogs that kids know. Please check out the website for a really great video on how to look at kids’ behavior from the dog’s perspective and for some great resources on dogs and kids. I also recommend my favorite books, “Living with Kids and Dogs… Without Losing Your Mind” by Colleen Pelar and “Raising Puppies and Kids Together” by Pia Silvani and Lynn Eckhardt.


Rusty and Torchy showing off their sit stay.


Now that all the important facts and figures are out of the way, I really do believe that having dogs and kids under the same roof should be fun. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t effort involved in keeping the relationship happy, there is. I don’t always feel like training my dogs so that they learn to be calm around Jack or helping Jack pet the dogs in a way that is nice and not painful/terrifying. So, when I need to take a break, I do. Seeing them enjoy their time together is well worth the effort I put in though.

Having a toddler and two high energy dogs is very different from what our household was like when Jack was a baby. Jack now occupies the same space as the dogs, and his interest in them can be painful. As a mom who has been pinched and bitten (rarely) and had her glasses forcefully removed from her face on many occasions, I am well aware that his love can be painful. He is also a very enthusiastic hugger, which I love, but would pretty much terrify my dogs. I understand that he is a toddler, and he doesn’t know any better. If he did that to my dogs, however, they would just think the small strange dog-like tiny person was hurting them, so this behavior is actively prevented. I want the dogs to see Jack as a tiny treat dispenser and for them to know that good things happen when Jack is around.


Kit Kat is the best with Jack and helps us teach him to be gentle.. No squishing or pinching the kitty either!


Here are some ideas for building a happy relationship between your dogs and your kids:

  1. Training should always be fun! Get your kids involved in training. How much your kids will be able to be involved will depend on their age. My essential life skills for dogs are to be able to sit, stay, come, and walk politely on a leash in a wide variety of circumstances. Plus, there are all kinds of exciting dog sports and activities available. As soon as Jack is able to drop treats on the floor he will start helping me train the dogs. I think we will use cheerios in case Jack decides to eat some of the treats.
  2. Practice gentle touches. We are working with Jack on gentle touches (flat open hand, ideally with only two fingers) using board books and stuffed animals, and of course John and myself. If Jack is petting the dogs, he has to let me help him or we go do something else. There is no grabbing, pinching, squishing, hugging, or laying on my dogs.
  3. Promote togetherness. Walks and fetch are great for this because they are together but not touching. For fetch I hold Jack because I don’t want him knocked over by my rambunctious dogs. Eventually we will work on teaching him to play fetch with the dogs.
  4. Set the ground rules. Both kids and dogs should have a set of rules they have to follow that encourage polite calm behavior towards each other. These rules will be different depending on your kids and your household, but they should involve doing things both kids and dogs enjoy. What types of play/behavior is appropriate will change as your kids get older but will always depend on what your dog enjoys.
  5. Take a break. Your dogs and your kids should have things to do that don’t involve each other. Rusty and Torchy have a great new game where I sprinkle cheerios in the back yard and they wander around eating them for hours. I am wondering how we haven’t been doing that their whole life! And when the dogs are busy with their puzzle toys and Jack is asleep, John and I can even sit and have a glass of wine with no interruptions!
  6. Ask questions and get help when you need it. Look for certified trainers in your area or ask your veterinarian. I am always happy to answer questions and point you in the direction of someone who can help you.



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Homemade Mac and Cheese: Recipe of the Week

Hello, lovelies! Did you know it is almost as easy to make your own macaroni and cheese as it is to open that famous blue box? Really, it’s true! And you don’t have to use a powdered cheese substance! You just need my go-to recipe below. My daughter loves this warm, cheesy comfort food. I love that I can add in meat or veggies, and she will eat them! You could also use the cheese sauce over veggies and skip the pasta.



Prep time: Less than five minutes


Cook time: 15 minutes


Servings: 4, or maybe less depending on how you define a serving!






2 Tbsp flour (I have used whole wheat, and it’s great!)


2 Tbsp butter


½ tsp of dry mustard (optional)


1 cup of milk (I use whole)


1 ½ cups of dried elbow macaroni, or any appropriate pasta


1 to 1 ½ cups of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese


Salt and pepper to taste




Suggested optional mix-ins: shredded chicken or pork, tuna, deli meat, peas, diced avocado, jalapenos, toasted breadcrumbs





Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Make sure to add plenty of salt to the water. That’s how the Italians do it, and it really makes a difference. If your pasta is fully cooked before you finish your sauce, make sure you save a tablespoon or so of the cooking water for your sauce and do not run water over the pasta.


Meanwhile, melt the butter in another saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk briskly for 1-2 minutes until it is fully incorporated and begins to turn a golden brown color. This is called a roux. Whisk in the mustard, if using. I like the flavor it adds.




Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in the milk. Bring the heat back up to medium and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken (it should hold its form on a spoon).



Gradually stir in the grated cheese. A note on cheese: I have only shredded my own cheese off the block for this. You can use bagged shredded cheese but it may not result in as creamy a sauce because of the anti-caking agent. You also are not limited to just cheddar cheese! I have used a combination of cheddar and parmesan, gruyere, Monterey Jack, you name it.



Mix in the reserved pasta water and then the pasta. Season, add your mix-ins and serve!






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If She Only Knew...



A while ago, I posted a picture on Instagram of a flower my daughter gave me. She handed it to me, gripped in her chubby little hand, asking me to keep it in my pocket all day while I was at work so I could remember her while I was away.


I smiled sweetly at her and stuck it in my pocket, completely in awe of a little girl that means so much to me and is so much a part of who I am. Of course, little thing, I would love to carry this bent, fake flower in my pocket for you. I couldn’t believe she had to ask me to remember her while I was gone. I know she’s just five and it’s not that deep for her, but for me, it is.


As a mom, it was big and deep and encompassing.


And until the moment she has her own children, she won’t get it. She won’t understand the depth to which everything I do revolves around her (and her sister) in some way. She can’t understand no matter what I’m thinking about, my children are there on the edge or front and center, taking up space, love, worry, and joy. They are in my work conversations, my drive home, my time at the gym, and my quick run to the grocery store. They are in my emails, my weekend plans, my hopes for the future, and my forever.


I am their mother, and it’s not just because I birthed them. It’s not just because I have constantly bruised shins because they climb on me and run into me all the time. It’s not because they look like me, act like me, laugh like me.


I am their mother because I decided to make their lives my life’s work. Not my only work, but my greatest work, my best work. So everything I do, whether I consciously think about it or not, is for or about them.


They will not understand this--can’t possibly fathom this--until they are older and have their own kids. Until their lives revolve around little ones who rely on them totally, and who slowly turn into bigger ones that don’t really need them as much. They will learn this one day, just as I had to, just as my mother before me. They don’t know and then, suddenly, they will know, and it will take their breath away. And they will never breathe quite the same again.


My children are in my bones, my being, and my blood. They’re in my laugh, my tears, and my dreams.


And, as of last recently, they’re in my pocket, too.



Posted originally on Trusty Chucks in November 2014.

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Chunky Rainbow Salsa: Recipe of the Week



Recipe from the Beachbody Blog.

With warmer weather rapidly approaching, we are all thinking about grilling out more regularly, attending neighborhood parties, going on vacations, and spending lots of time by the pool. With all of these celebrations, it’s easy to over-indulge and regret it later. An easy tip I use to keep myself on track with my health and fitness is to bring one of my own dishes to share. That way, I know all of the ingredients, and I am in complete control of what goes in my body! {Type A personality here!}

This is one of my fave recipes to take to a summer party! It’s quick. It’s healthy. It’s SIMPLE!!! And, my bowl is always EMPTY within minutes! It’s easy to #tastetherainbow with this vibrantly colored salsa made with tomato, mango, avocado and bell peppers. #fitfuel #payfitforwardwithBigD


Total Time: 15 min. Prep Time: 15 min. Cooking Time: None

Yield: 8 servings, about ⅓ cup each


1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped {*I use 2 tomatoes}
1 medium green (or red or yellow) bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium mango, peeled, cut into ¾-inch cubes {*if you can’t find a ripe mango, frozen works great, too}
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped {*I use only ½ onion; personal preference}
3 fresh cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 medium avocado, cut into ¾-inch cubes




Combine tomato, bell pepper, mango, onion, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium bowl; mix well.

Gently fold in avocado.

Serve immediately.


*** Want to make it spicy? Add finely chopped jalapeño or habanero. Serve with baked corn tortilla chips; eat as a side salad; or spoon over grilled fish, chicken, or pork chops.


Nutritional Information:

Calories: 68 • Total Fat: 4 g • Saturated Fat: 1 g • Cholesterol: 0 mg • Sodium: 4 mg • Total Carbohydrate: 9 g • Dietary Fiber: 3 g • Sugars: 5 g • Protein: 1 g


21 Day Fix Containers: 1 green + ½ purple

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