Fit 4 Mom- Los Angeles

Helping moms make strides in fitness, motherhood and life

Busy Bag Break Down

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Plum Mom’s Club Busy Bag Exchange a huge success!  For more information on how to hold your own Busy Bag exchange click here.  Beth put together this handy breakdown of the activities.
Counting Cards
  • use small objects or your favorite snack to help your child learn to count
  • save this one for your next flight.  It’s perfect for an airplane tray table!
Velcro on Craft Sticks:
  • Use these to practice making shapes.  Our kits come with a square and a triangle.  Model making the shape for your child first.
  • Want to expand this busy bag?  Double up the shapes – that way you can have a model for your child to work from.  Want to expand it some more?  Make more shapes – a diamond or a rectangle would be good.  You could go hog wild and make them for learning letters as well!
Pipe Cleaner Fine Motor Practice:
  • This is great for fine motor skills.  Is your child too young to get the pipe cleaners in the tiny holes?  Open up the lid and talk about “in” and “out”.  As s/he gets old enough to put the pipe cleaner in the holes, notice that each colored pipe cleaner has a color coded hole to go into – now we’re learning colors, matching, AND fine motor skills!
Memory Match:
  • You can play this like a typical game of memory, keeping the cards face down and trying to find a match.  We start with just a few pairs and work our way up.  You can start with the cards face up and just ask your child to find a particular item or animal.  Then, when you find it’s match you can talk about how they’re the “same” and count them, “One elephant, two elephants!  We have TWO elephants!”.
  • Grow with your ideas: Have your child find a certain colored animal, write the name of the item on the card and start learning letter recognition and spelling!  In that same vein, make corresponding cards that only have the name of the item on it and your (much older!) child can find its matching picture!
Lego Match:
  • Legos are always fun to build with!  Now you can try matching the pictures up as well!
  • Grow with you ideas: Put a sticker on the two legos, so that half is on one and half is on the other (the bottom of the elephant on one, the top on the other), then carefully cut them apart.  Now you have trickier things to match.  Want to work on letter recognition?  You can make Legos pairs with capital and lower case, a blob of color and its word, the animal and the word… the list is never ending!  Did I mention that they’re still super fun to build with? 🙂
Discovery Water Bottle:
  • These are fun to shake up like a snow globe, or a maraca!  Roll them back and forth, move them around talking about prepositions (up, down, in, out, under, over).  Ask what your little one sees – colors, shapes?
  • Hints: If yours gets abused and starts leaking – all is not lost, simply cut the top off and pour the fun innards into a new bottle and glue again.  Whew! 🙂
  • Love this one and want another?  Try one with food coloring and half oil / half water for a lava lamp look.  Try one of the tiny kid sized water bottles for little hands!
Race Car Shapes:
  • Laney already included pretty awesome directions, but in case you lost yours:
  • The race car can be driven along the “highway” of each shape.
  • Included playdough can be rolled out and molded into each shape.
  • Use blocks, manipulatives, or household items such as cotton balls along each highway card!
  • Grow with you ideas: As always, you can add more complicated shapes as your child grows, or use letters and numbers as your race tracks.  Feeling really rambunctious?  Run fun tape (we use painters tape!) along 3-D surfaces of your house (couch cushions for example!) and the world is your race track!
Pom Pom Stuff It In:
  • As the name suggests, hours can be spent just… stuffing them in!
  • Want to “up” the game, sort by color!  Talk about “in” and “out”.
  • Helpful hint:  Need an easier hole for pudgy fingers?  Just cut a slit along the sides so it gives a little as the pom pom gets stuffed in.  No need to cut the whole circle!
Paper Clip Sort:
  • Match the colored clip to the colored card!
  • Little fingers will probably struggle to clip onto the card, so teach your child to lay the clip on the card as an alternative – older fingers will love practicing their dexterity!
  • Count the clips!
Play Dough Mats:
  • The game is imagination and the sky’s the limit – decorate the characters on the mats as the words suggest.  Make numbers, or shapes and learn about colors!  All out of play dough – then make your own!  We found a great no-cook recipe here:
  • I think this would be perfect for sitting at the table waiting for a meal at home or at a restaurant!
Rainbow Rice:
  • This is great on a sensory table!  Don’t have a sensory table?  Dump it in a tupperware tub, or a mixing bowl and go to town.  Keep the colors separate at first, and then let your child mix them one at a time.  Rice is fun to scoop with measuring cups (liquid or dry), pour through funnels, stir with spoons and really anything else you can find in the kitchen to play with.
  • Helpful hint: spread an old sheet or blanket on the floor.  When your child is done playing, simply gather the blanket up and pour the spilled rice back into your container.
Button Snake:
  • Practice fine motor skills by fishing your button through the felt!
  • Have an expert on your hands, felt is cheap and easy to work with, simply make more!
    • Make more in matching colors – then your child can find all of the red to fish on.
    • Make different shapes to sort!
    • Make interesting patterns with the different colors and shapes!
    • Make the button holes easier or more difficult to push through.
  • Travel with a baggie or cup for the un-buttoned felt pieces 🙂
Pinchers and Pom Poms:
  • Can anyone say hours of entertainment?  Just pick the pom poms and paper clips up with the tongs and put them into a handy receptacle (bowl, cup, you name it)!
  • When your Little Miss or Mister needs more challenge, s/he can pick up just one color, or a certain number of them.
  • We saw a child online who likes picking the pom poms up with the paperclips – let them run wild! 🙂
  • When they get much older, whip out the chop sticks for practice!  Or maybe Mama can use the practice right now 🙂
Pizza Factory:
  • Why, oh why isn’t Charlotte old enough to play with this yet?  It’s so darn cute, the 11 year old I nanny for went bonkers over it!
  • Little ones can just have fun with the felt sticking to the felt
  • Bigger kids can follow the recipe cards and cook up a recipe just to your liking
  • Getting bored with the included recipes?  Make your own!  Getting bored with the toppings?  Felt’s super easy to cut – add some household favorites!
  • Have a budding math genius on your hands?  Make the cards math problems! (eg: Add 2 pepperoni, take 1 pepperoni away)
  • Work with colors: Make a pizza with only green toppings!
AaBbCc Spoons:
  • These spoons are super nifty.  Lay the clear-spooned lower-case letter on top of it’s white capitol letter, then you can see them both together!
  • Start with just a few letters.  Do you want to teach his or her name first?  Mom?  Stop?  Some other often-viewed word (one of my nanny charges’ first spelled words was GAP from the tag inside her play tent, I kid you not!)
  • Work up to more and more letters!
I Spy Bottles:
  • These bottles came with a card with a picture of each and every item that can be found buried in the bottle!
  • If your child isn’t old enough or patient enough to use the card, just take the card away and see what they can find on their own!  It’s a 3-D I Spy! 🙂
Heads and Tails:
  • The ring is just for storage purposes.  Take the cards off of the ring and start matching!
  • Start with the cards up, let your child match the front of the animals to the back.
  • Notice the awesome color and item labeling for learning!  (“Can you find the purple animal?  It’s a cat!  C-A-T!”)
  • Once your kiddo’s good at this, you can play it like the memory game with the cards face down.  Start with just a few cards and add more as your child progresses.
Coloring Fun:
  • Every kid likes to scribble away and play with stickers.
  • Keep this stocked with stickers (those free return address labels and fake stamps, anyone?!) crayons and the like for back seat fun for older kids and supervised fun for littler kids.
Pasta Sort:
  • Just like with the Rainbow Rice, you can play with this on the sensory table, but since it’s bigger there’s tons of other fun ways to play with this:
    • pull out some cups and sort by color, or shape!
    • String the noodles (fine motor skills anyone?)
    • Practice making patterns while stringing them
  • Helpful hints: if you’re able to leave these out of the bag for a few days, the alcohol smell will diminish, also, if your child gets these wet or in his or her mouth, the color will bleed.
Paper Clip In & Out:
  • babies can shake it up
  • little ones can put the clips in & out
  • preschoolers can link the clips together
  • sort them by color or create patterns
  • Count the clips!
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Meet Our Moms

Kara (aka Hattie’s mom) is one of our LA Striders!   It’s women like you who make Stroller Strides one of the best mommy & me activities in Los Angeles.  Thank you for letting us get to know you!

1.Who are the members of your family? Where are you from?  My family consists of myself, my husband Christopher, and our daughter Hattie.  We are originally from Dallas, Texas.  We moved to the Los Angeles area around seven months ago.
2. What is or was your career?  I am a teacher.  I taught fourth and fifth grades for ten years before Hattie was born.  I am taking a little time off to spend with my girl, and I plan to return to teaching at some point.
3. How long have you been a member of Stroller Strides and what has it done for you? I have been a Stroller Strides member for three or four months.  Stroller Strides has introduced me to so many wonderful moms!  Moving to a new state two weeks before Hattie was born was very isolating for me.  Stroller Strides helped me meet people and work out at the same time.
4. Other than Stroller Strides, what is your favorite thing to do with your child in L.A.?  Hattie and I enjoy swim class and going to visit Daddy at his office.  We love playing in the yard and enjoy the California weather. 
5. What is something that has surprised you about motherhood?  I always knew I would love my child with my entire heart.  I never knew I would love her laughter so much.  I will do anything to make her giggle.
6. Favorite quick & easy dinner that your family enjoys eating. My husband loves the pork chops I make.  Basically the pork chops are covered in french fried onions and baked for twenty minutes.  It’s super quick and yummy.
7. Favorite website(s)? The baby center website is always helpful.  I even got the app for my phone.  I also get good recipes from
8. List three current obsessions.
I love to read after Hattie goes to bed.  I am currently reading a biography about the Duchess of Devonshire.  I am also crosstiching a Christmas stocking for Hattie.  I hope to have it done in time, but in reality she may use it for her second Christmas!  Finally, I am always on the lookout for good recipes for our food swap group.
9. What is your child’s favorite thing about you or favorite thing that you do?
I hope that Hattie’s favorite thing about me is that she knows I will always love her and do what is best for her.  On a more practical note, Hattie loves to be bounced up and down.  She gets a kick out of it.  She also loves to be tickled.
10. Before I was a mother I swore I would never… let Hattie sleep in our bed.  Well, that lasted about two weeks.  I had been up so many times one night, I didn’t have the energy to put her back in her own crib.  Then it was all over!
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Double Arm External Rotation plus, Plie Squat

DIRECTIONS:Hold onto the handles of the tube in each hand and choke up onto the tube to create tension. Get into a plie squat and begin lowering and rising up in and out of the plie. Add in the external rotation, keeping the elbows glued to your sides.
• Keep elbows tight to the waist and elbows bent at 90 degrees
• Keep belly tight and spine in neutral throughout movement
 • There may be a need to discontinue the rotator cuff exercise before the plies, as they are MUCH smaller muscles.
 • B R E A T H E
To make this less intense, perform exercise without one of the movements and/or without the tubing.
*content courtesy of Stroller Strides Corporate
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Beth made this tasty dish for the food swap a few weeks ago.  She got the recipe from The Greens Cook Book.  Here’s what she said about this dish..

This is how the recipe appears in the cookbook, but I usually don’t do the spice roasting, I just shake the spices from their jars right into the sauteing onions so they get some heat there before I add the tomatoes.  I rarely eat this as a soup – I most often use it as a filling for enchiladas.  I throw it in tortillas, line a baking pan with enchilada sauce, pop the filled tortillas in, cover them with more sauce and sprinkle with cheese if it’s a dairy crowd. Then I bake on 350 until they’re warmed through.   I usually serve with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.

2 cups Black turtle beans
1 Bay leaf
4 tsp Cumin seeds
4 tsp Dried oregano leaves
4 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 Chile negro or ancho chile, (for chili powder)
or 2 TB Chili powder, or more
3 TB Corn or peanut oil
3 med Yellow onions – diced into 1/4-in squares
4 Garlic cloves – coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 lb Ripe or canned tomatoes -peeled, seeded and chopped- juice reserved
1 TB Rice wine vinegar (or more)
4 TB Cilantro, chopped

Green chiles: 2 Poblano or Anaheim, – roasted, peeled & diced
or 2 oz Canned green chiles, – rinsed well and diced
1/2 cup Grated Muenster cheese – (or more)
1/2 cup Creme fraiche or sour cream

SORT THROUGH THE BEANS and remove any small stones. Rinse them well, cover them generously with water, and let them soak overnight. Next day, drain the beans, cover them with fresh water by a couple of inches and bring them to a boil with the bay leaf. Lower the heat and let the beans simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. (Or pressure cook as I do).

Heat a small heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, and when they begin to color, add the oregano leaves, shaking the pan frequently so the herbs don’t scorch. As soon as the fragrance is strong and robust, remove the pan from the heat and add the paprika and the cayenne. Give everything a quick stir; then remove from the pan–the paprika and the cayenne only need a few seconds to toast. Grind in a mortar or a spice mill to make a coarse powder.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. To make the chili powder, put the dried chile in the oven for 3-to-5 minutes to dry it out. Cool it briefly; then remove the stem, seeds and veins. Tear the pod into small pieces and grind it into a powder in a blender or a spice mill. (Or use powders chile, we have lots available here)

Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onions over medium heat until they soften. Add the garlic, salt and the ground herbs and chili powder and cook another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Simmer everything together for 15 minutes then add this mixture to the beans, and, if necessary, enough water so the beans are covered by at least 1-inch.

Continue cooking the beans slowly until they are soft, an hour or longer, or pressure cook them for 30 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. Keep an eye on the water level and add more, if needed, to keep the beans amply covered. When the beans are cooked, taste them and season to taste with the vinegar,
additional salt if needed, and the chopped cilantro.

Prepare the garnishes. If you are using fresh green chiles, roast them over a flame until they are evenly charred. Let them steam 10 minutes in a bowl covered with a dish; then scrape off the skins, discard the seeds, and dice. Serve the chili ladled over a large spoonful of grated cheese and garnish it with the creme fraiche or sour cream, the green chilies and a sprig of fresh cilantro.

Though served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon, this chili is a great deal thicker than most soups–thick enough in fact to be served on a plate right alongside fritters or cornbread. It also, however, can be thinned considerably with stock, water or tomato juice to make a thinner but still very flavorful black bean soup. When thinned to make a soup, it can be served as part of a meal rather than a meal in itself.

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