Between check-ups, finding nursery inspiration on Pinterest, and discovering all there is to expect when you’re expecting, you deserve to take some time for yourself. And with Valentine’s Day coming up (on a Friday, no less!) you have the best excuse to take a breather from the hustle-bustle of NYC and pencil in a weekend retreat at these soothing spas offering special treats for moms-to-be. By lane, train, or plane – we’ve hand-selected these three getaways especially for you. BY LANE: Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, Pennsylvania Distance from NYC: 95 mile drive from NYC What's there: There is so much to love about the Lodge at Woodloch, a true destination retreat that will have you leaving feeling relaxed and renewed. The 57-room luxury spa allows you to indulge in a full-menu of spa and wellness programming while enjoying the Lodge’s 150 wooded acres and private lake. Add in organic gourmet cuisine, fitness programs and outdoor activities, and you’ve got a weekend’s worth of indulgence. Why we love it: 40,000-square-foot spa, Aqua Garden with heated hydro-massage waterfall pools, and customized spa programs – what’s not to love? But, what makes it perfect when you’re expecting is the Lodge’s Babymoon Escape package. The spa has designed a 360° program of offerings for you and your partner (or a group of your gal pals) aimed at releasing tension and easing worries as you get set to enter this new and exciting chapter of life. Plus, upon arrival, you’ll receive a special welcome gift complete with healthy baby food recipe cards and snacks for when cravings hit! Prenatal fitness classes focused on meditation round out your weekend. Be sure to check out: For an additional fee, you can experience private prenatal yoga with your partner where you’ll learn ways to help alleviate common areas of discomfort. You can even sign up for private healthy baby food cooking demos. Must-try treatment: Moms-to-be must try the Nurturing Body Polish treatment (50-minutes, $135) which includes an invigorating and antioxidant-rich scrub, gentle loofah cleansing, oil massage to help prevent stretch marks, and a refreshing foot massage! Cost: This package (which includes accommodations, spa credit, daily meals and more) starts from $399 per person per night. BY TRAIN: Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC Distance from NYC: 2 hour and 50 minute Acela Express train ride from NYC Why we love it: The Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC, is modern luxury in the heart of our nation’s historic capital. Accommodations are designed with feng shui in mind, making them a tranquil refuge while still maintaining the ultra-luxurious touches Mandarin Oriental properties are known for like marble bathrooms with soaking tubs and reproductions of artwork from the Smithsonian collections. Be sure to check out: Some of the best attractions in the city are within walking distance of the hotel, including the Smithsonian Institute and the White House, so be sure to bring your walking shoes. But after a long day of sightseeing, you might opt for a “night out” in, so check out the hotel’s highly rated restaurant, CityZen. Inspired by the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water, the restaurant features a truly dramatic design with wood floors, crown candelabra lights, 20-foot ceilings, and an open kitchen. Chef Eric Ziebold’s menu changes frequently to turn both seasonal and local ingredients into mouth-watering masterpieces which you’ll be craving long after baby has arrived. Must-try treatment: The Forbes Four Star Spa at Mandarin Oriental sprawls out over 10,500-square-feet and offers its guests indulgent and relaxing full- and half-day programs. These Time Rituals™ begin with reflexology and are followed by a personal treatment consultation (a la carte treatments are also available). Mommies-to-be must try the Half Day New Life Ritual (1 hour and 50-minutes; $310). It begins with a foot ritual and moves into a Zents Body Scrub, a Shea Butter Belly Wrap (perfect for stretch marks!), and an Essential Body Massage to help alleviate all of the lower back aches and pains. Best of all, it includes full use of the hotel’s fitness center, swimming pool, and heat and water experience allowing you to fully immerse yourself into spa and wellness programing long after your treatment has ended. Cost: Rates start at $295 a night, but the hotel also offers great special offers. Amtrak rates start at $84 per way, but if there was ever a reason to spring for the $231 per way Acela Express, being pregnant is it. BY PLANE: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida Distance from NYC: 2.5 hour flight from NYC to Jacksonville plus a 30 minute transfer to the hotel Why we love it: Mix 13 miles of gorgeous coastline with incredible southern charm and you have northern Florida’s Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, the southernmost of the Sea Islands. After a short plane ride from NYC, you’ll enjoy all that the cobblestone streets of historic Fernandina Beach have to offer including eclectic shops and delicious fare. Every room has a balcony to take in a quiet moment before baby and enjoy the stunning coastal views. And if you don’t feel up for going out, the hotel has five great restaurants just an elevator ride away. Be sure to check out: Amelia Island, known as the Isle of Eight Flags, has over 400 years of recorded history! In fact, Fernandina Beach, which was once a bustling Victorian village by the sea, has a 50-block historic district. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride on the cobblestone streets and get transported back in time, or do some window shopping and browse the art galleries on Centre Street. And what vacay is complete without a little sand beneath your toes? Search for shark teeth or just relax on any of Amelia Island’s white-sandy beaches. Must-try treatment: The spa partnered with one of our prenatal skincare favorites Mama Mio to offer six fabulous and cleverly named prenatal services. Among the picks: Lighten Up (30 minutes; $95), which includes a mineral-salt rich Mama Mio Foot Soak and a gentle hand, lower leg, and foot massage; and the Yummy Tummy (60 minutes; $165) which starts with a pulse point oil and gentle skin brushing and is followed by a concentrated serum and deep treatment mask on your tummy and a luxurious lower leg and foot massage. Cost: Rates from $359 a night, but check out these special offers as well. Airfare varies, but we just found a direct Delta flight for $383 for Valentine’s Day weekend! Bon voyage, ladies!
When I think about the Super Bowl, two things come to mind: funny commercials and tasty snacks. If you're hosting the Super Bowl and have kiddos around, the name of the game (pun intended) is to offer a spread of snacks loaded with proteins and vitamins that will keep everyone's energy levels up the entire game, and won't make your friends rely on greasy items.
Try these healthy go-to treats for your viewing party that even your toddler will love:
Skinny baked mozzarella sticks
Serves: 16 pieces
Time to cook: 1 hour and 18 minutes
- 8 sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese
- 1 large egg
- 5 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp parmesan cheese optional
- olive oil cooking spray
- Cut the string cheese in half and place it in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Beat egg in a small and set aside. In a separate bowl mix the parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and set aside.
- Dip one string cheese in breadcrumb mixture than in egg mixture and then back in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat this for all the pieces. Place sticks on a greased foil or pan. Return the cheese stick back to the freezer for at least 30-45 minutes. Note: do not skip this step because the cheese will melt if they are not frozen.
- After the cheese is finished freezing, heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray the cheese lightly with cooking spray and place in the oven. After four minutes flip the cheese sticks and continue baking for another three minutes or until they are golden. Do not overbake because the cheese will melt. Serve hot with your favorite marinara sauce.
Broccoli cheese balls
Serves: 20 balls
Time to cook: 35 minutes
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup almond flour or panko or Italian breadcrumbs
- 1 cup shredded cheese mozzarella, cheddar, or favorite melting cheese
- 1/4 cup minced onion or shallots optional
- 2 tbsp cilantro chopped optional
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cajun or taco seasoning or favorite seasoning blend!
- Pinch of salt and pepper black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Steam broccoli in boiling water or microwave until tender. Chop broccoli using a knife or food processor until finely minced.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped broccoli, eggs, almond flour, cheese, parsley and spices. Mix until well incorporated.
- Scoop about 1 tablespoon of mixture and form into a ball. Place on a lined baking sheet and spray or drizzle lightly with oil. Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through.
- Serve on a salad, in a sandwich, with rice, or as an appetizer or snack with your favorite dipping sauce.
Chicken taco lettuce wraps
Time to cook: 30 minutes
Grilled taco chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 leaves romaine lettuce rinsed
- 1 avocado diced
- 1 tomato diced
- 1/4 cup onion diced
- 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour-cream or mayo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 jalapeno optional
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Pinch of salt
To cook chicken
- Add the chicken, garlic, olive oil, and spices in a large bowl or zip-seal bag. Place in fridge and let marinate for at least 15-30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Place chicken on a grill or pan heated to medium-high heat. Let chicken cook until it is no longer pink on the inside, about 9-10 minutes per side (or until it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees).
To make cilantro sauce
1. Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blend for one minute or until creamy.
- Layer lettuce wraps with chicken, tomatoes, onion and avocado. Drizzle with cilantro sauce or your favorite taco sauce.
Eggplant pizza bites
Time to cook: 35 minutes
- 1 large eggplant cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup pizza sauce
- 1 cup mozzarella shredded
- Sprinkle the eggplant with the coarse salt, let sit on paper towels for 10-15 minutes and wipe dry.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bow, combine the crushed garlic, olive oil and Italian seasoning. Brush the mixture onto both sides of the eggplant slices and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove eggplant from oven and flip eggplant slices, top each slice with a tablespoon of marinara sauce, and a sprinkle of cheese. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.
Recipe from Gimme Delicious.
Rice krispie chicken tenders
Time to cook: 20 minutes
- 1 lb raw chicken, cut into long thin slices
- 2 cups brown rice krispies (or regular if you desire)
- 1/3 cup egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Sea salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Place egg whites in a shallow bowl.
- In a separate bowl, add rice krispies and smash with the bottom of a cup until it is a crumb like texture (some will be almost a flour consistency, but don't smash long enough for all of the krispies to be completely crushed). Add seasonings in bowl.
- Dip each slice of chicken into egg whites, then coat completely on both sides, and place on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.
- When all are on a baking tray, lightly sprinkle a little more sea salt onto tenders and place them in the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes, remove and flip and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Combine yogurt, mustard, bbq sauce, honey and seasonings in a small bowl.
- Serve with chicken tenders for dipping.
I have a love-hate relationship with maternity clothes. On one hand, I love them because they make me feel comfortable as my bump grows, without anything getting in the way of my breathing or baby's movement. On the other hand, I've really struggled finding items that are my style—which I admit is very particular—or don't cost a ton of money.
During my first pregnancy I bought a bunch of basic pregnancy outfits and tried to include some of my non-maternity favorites in the mix. Sometimes it worked, sometimes in the middle of a work day I had to run to the bathroom to unzip my high waisted skirt because it was too much to handle. By the time baby came, I realized I had spent a ton of money on clothing that I barely wore, and passed them on to other pregnant friends (some items still with tags on.)
With my second pregnancy, I decided I needed to be comfortable above all, but also not spend a ton of money on fast pregnancy fashion because these months go super fast and I'm trying to be more environmentally conscious. I had tried clothing subscription services before (hello wedding season!) and loved being able to wear different outfits I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. After doing some research, I found three subscriptions that offer maternity clothes. I tried them out in an attempt to dress better while sporting a huge bump and to save money and keep my closet decluttered. The best part was that if I really loved something, I had the chance to purchase it at a super discounted price.
Here are the three maternity clothing subscription services I tried:
About the service: This is a fairly new service and it's currently priced at $149 a month. Once you sign up, you take a style quiz by picking from a group of eight photos of the looks you like the most. Once you are done defining your style, you give your current sizing and then tell your stylist what you are looking for. You get four pieces at a time that you can wear as many times as you want, then return and get new items to wear.
More to know: Unlike other clothing services, you cannot pick from an endless list of clothes what you'd like to receive in your shipment. Instead, you have to go through a stylist who sends picks for you. To be honest, I found this a little annoying since I kept asking for rompers and pants, but kept getting blouses and dresses in my orders. So it did take some back and forth until my stylist sent me things I actually wanted to wear.
My thoughts: I received a mix of maternity and non-maternity clothes that were all bump friendly. The quality of all of them was great and some came with tags, which meant I was the first one ever wearing that piece of clothing.
About the service: This subscription is priced at $88 per month for six pieces at a time. The difference between Nuuly and other services is that you cannot return items to get new ones during the month—you return all of them at the same time and get six new ones the next month. This was a bit of a learning curve for me as I was used to sending back things that didn't fit or I didn't like to maximize my month of rental.
More to know: This service provides clothes from more edgy brands, like Urban Outfitters, Reebok and DL1961, which actually made it my favorite service because it was super aligned with my style. They offer both maternity and non-maternity clothes, so I was able to get super cool dresses (like the one pictured above) in a bigger size than my regular size to wear with my growing bump.
My thoughts: Their maternity catalog is pretty limited, however they have super unique items. One of the pieces I requested was already rented by the time my order was placed and they sent me something totally different to what I wanted. I understand the effort to make sure I was getting the full six items in my order but it was a non-maternity summer dress that didn't work with my bump.
Rent the Runway
About the service: I went with their Unlimited Plan which is priced at $159 for four pieces at a time (you can exchange over and over again during the month). Their return service is super fast so if you are organized and return pieces you don't love quickly, you can get so many new things to wear in a month.
More to know: They have the biggest catalogue of maternity clothes and brands, including Hatch. Like Nuuly, you get to pick what you want from their options. It can be a little overwhelming since you scroll through pages and pages of really good quality stuff so I recommend going into it with something in mind (do you need jeans or a party dress?).
My thoughts: Because the service is so popular, I got some clothes that were super worn already and even damaged. I returned those immediately and got new items, but you really never know in what condition they are going to be in, despite the service trying to keep super worn clothes out of their rental catalogue.
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When infectious diseases make headlines parents naturally get a little worried, and this week coronavirus is in the news constantly. The coronavirus has infected more than 600 people worldwide, though mostly in China. As of Jan. 23, Chinese authorities have reported 17 deaths from the virus so far. Only two cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and officials are monitoring 63 suspected cases.
Here's what you need to know, mama.
1. Don't panic.
According to the World Health Organization the coronavirus outbreak is not an international public health emergency.
"CDC believes the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time, but the situation is evolving rapidly," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a conference call with media on Friday. "We have our best people working on this problem," Messonnier explained, adding that we will likely see more cases in the coming days.
2. There have been no fatalities in children.
The youngest victim of a confirmed case of novel coronavirus is 36 years old. Most of the fatal cases in China have been in people over 60 and more men than women have been impacted.
3. The family of coronaviruses is a spectrum of severity.
According to the CDC, most people will be infected with a coronavirus at some point in their lives. The common strains of coronavirus cause "moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold" while more severe strains, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrom (MERS) can be fatal.
The strain that is making headlines is a severe and novel coronavirus. It's new and the similarities to influenza make it difficult for experts to distinguish it from all the other respiratory illnesses floating around this time of year.
4. There is a test for it.
When public health officials suspect someone may have coronavirus they can send respiratory and serum samples to the CDC and find out if it's coronavirus or just the flu within about 24 hours.
5. There are steps to take for prevention.
To prevent the spread of the virus the U.S. State Department has issued its most severe travel advisory for the area of China (the province of Hubei, where the city of Wuhan is) most impacted by the coronavirus.
The CDC offers the following tips for protecting your family from the coronavirus (as well as other respiratory illnesses):
- "Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds."
- "Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands."
- "Avoid close contact with people who are sick."
Every generation has its parenting trends. “The Greatest Generation" had the idealized “perfect family"—a “picture perfect" two-parent, gender-divided home in the suburbs, that was probably more trope than reality.
The Baby Boomers brought us parent-as-life coach/ friend/chauffeur and manager. At best, it's a nurturing style done out of love and wanting the best for your kids. At worst, it's called “helicopter parenting," the idea that parents try to protect their kids from all harm and difficulty, only to make their kids incapable of caring for themselves.
And our Millennial generation has a “free-range" parenting trend, a backlash against the overly-controlled childhood aimed at teaching kids to rise to life's challenges.
All of this talk about gender roles, helicopter parenting, grit and independence has me wondering—what kind of parent do I want to be?
Do I want to give my kids a picture-perfect childhood? Do I want to control them and make sure every good thing is done to them and for them? Do I want to set them free to figure it all out on their own? Defining the parent I want to be—and deciding what values drive my day-to-day parenting decisions—can be complicated.
The truth is, “helicoptering" comes easy to me, even when I know it's good for my children to work hard, face obstacles, and experience the pride of genuine achievement.
I don't want to helicopter—but I want to make sure my kids have the best opportunities in life, especially in things that I may have missed out on in my own childhood. (Though I'm sure I'm pushing my own values on them and they will find their own way to rebel....)
I don't want to helicopter—but I want to make sure they always look both ways before they cross the street, have their carseat properly installed, and are aware of dangers in our world. (Though I teach them these things and do my best to keep them in safe situations...)
I don't want to helicopter—but having faith that they'll be safe when they're out of my sight is really hard for me. (Though I say a prayer and trust in the universe...)
I don't want to helicopter—but sometimes doing things for them can be so much easier/ faster/ better than letting them do it for themselves. (Though I try to be patient...)
I don't want to helicopter—but I set up play dates, schedule after-school activities, and encourage them socially so that my children can make new friends. (Though I'm sure they will find true friends in their own time...)
I don't want to helicopter—but watching my little ones struggle can be hard for my mama heart. (So I hope they know I'm doing this because I love them...)
I don't want to helicopter—but protecting my kids comes easy. Giving them space to struggle and grow is essential, but hard, for both of us.