Smile Tips for All Parts of Life from a Mom, Wife, and Dentist

December 25, 2017

M&M Sugar Cookies | Merry Christmas

Santa Clause is coming to town! This year, my son has been eagerly anticipating Christmas! He's been on his best behavior all season long, even highlighted his gift list with fun as well as educational value, and of course wanted to leave Santa a batch of cookies for his long journey from the North Pole. 

M&M Sugar Cookies

My dad bakes the best cookies and one of my patients gave me a great idea to make them kid fun by adding M&Ms to the mix!  

  1. 1 cup unsalted butter
  2. 3 cups flour
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  6. 1 cup brown sugar
  7. 1 egg
  8. 2 tablespoons milk
  9. 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1 cup M&M candies (my Dad always suggests semisweet chocolate, so we used Dark Chocolate)

  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat together the melted butter and both sugars on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla extract in small bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  7. Scoop the dough into 1½-ounce portions onto parchment-lined half sheet pans, 6-9 cookies per sheet. (My son tried to make cookie cutter designs but were had little success!)
  8. Place 4-5 M&Ms on each cookie. 
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Each of our M&M Sugar Cookies were unique! However, there were crumbs in front of the fireplace, so I think Santa enjoyed the batch! Happy Holidays!

October 30, 2017

Space Exploration | Happy Halloween

Youth Astronaut Costume

All systems are go! Bouncing off the walls, racing up flights of stairs, and providing cost-benefit-analysis of bedtime protocol---my preschooler is now navigating full course and preparing for lift off!

Our Astronaut Halloween costume by Aeromax was 3-2-1 fun. Outfitted with an adorable youth astronaut helmet and authentic USA spacesuit, it even tops off with an embroidered NASA cap.

Treepenguin Space Wall Decals

Finally, our space decorating expedition with wall decals from Treepenguin was out of this world. Learning how the stars align and the Earth rotates on its axis was a trick and a treat. Warm wishes to you and yours for a Halloween that is happy and sweet!  

September 4, 2017

Fun Things for Kids to do in DC | Huntley Meadows Park

FIELD TRIP! With working overtime as the theme of our summer, I was so excited to finally have a opportunity to take a day off to attend my son's summer camp field trip to Huntley Meadows Park.

Huntley Meadows Park

This 1500 acre reserve of wildlife and beauty is located just 10 miles south of Washington, DC in Fairfax County's Hybla Valley.

The 1/2 mile boardwalk through the wetlands is a perfect trail for young minds to observe and appreciate this brilliant landscape.  

The majestic park is home to beavers, frogs, and dragonflies as well as over 200 different species of birds. 

Wetlands are a huge wonder for young minds, as they purify polluted waters and help to control the destructive power of floods and storms.

Much a part of its historical significance is that the wetland is naturally shaped by the drifts of the Potomac River.

With a solar eclipse and a hurricane, this summer alone showcased the spectrum of how natural wonders can cause both fascination and devastation. It's never too early to start learning about the importance of preserving and protecting our natural resources and Huntley Meadows Park is a great place to start. Happy Labor Day!

August 25, 2017

Secrets of a Glossy Lip

Victoria's Secret Lip Gloss

My grandmother used to always say, "Paint a little bit of gloss on those lips---even if you're just running to the corner store!" Lol! I definitely try to follow this wisdom. I keep a tube of gloss in the inner pocket of every handbag. My favorite is Victoria's Secret Satin Gloss Strawberry Fizz and it's on sale now 2 for $18! 

Fun fact: water is the best lip moisturizer and flavored gloss stimulates our salivary glands :-) 

August 4, 2017

$79 Back to School Special

It should come as no surprise that good oral health is connected to better school performance. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists dental decay as the most prevalent chronic disease among school age children. It can lead to severe pain, early tooth loss and even affects early child development. Toothaches prevent children from playing with peers and tooth loss contributes to poor nutrition, speech and self-esteem. According to the Children's Dental Health Project, children with poor oral health are nearly three times more likely to miss school. 

Don't let your child fall behind his peers. Visit your dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene at home by brushing, flossing, and rinsing after meals and before bedtime. Contact us today about our $79 Back to School Special, which includes exam, x-ray, cleaning, and fluoride!

July 17, 2017

Energy Saving Nest

Nest Thermostat

There have been so many changes in the last few months and things have been a bit hectic---I must apologize for being so sluggish on the blog! We finally moved into our first house and we also acquired a dental practice! Needless to say the bills are piling up! Luckily, hubby installed our super cool, energy saving Nest Thermostat!

Controllable from the palm of your hand even away from home, the Nest is simple to use. It cleverly adapts not just to the activity in your home but also changes automatically with the seasons. It might be a little late for Father's Day, but any dad will appreciate the dollars saved by this modern wonder! (Dad---your many lectures about that light bill are finally paying off :-) Click here to find a Nest thermostat for your home.

June 24, 2017

Can You Guess My Natural Tooth Shade?

There are 40 different tooth shades and summer time is the best time to get your brightest one! The longer days provide hours of natural light to illuminate your smile---so show it off! In Office Teeth Whitening produces the fastest results and is actually the most popular cosmetic dental procedure in the world. In the controlled dental setting, a bleaching agent is applied and is blue light activated. Ask your dentist today about ways to achieve your best summer smile!    

In Office Teeth Whitening | Alexandria, VA

May 20, 2017

Healthy Work Life Balance

Work Life Balance

When it comes to work life balance, we often think of flexible shifts, supportive office environments for expecting mothers, and a private place to pump breastmilk for new ones. For many women, the idea of a job that endorses even one of the aforementioned conditions may sound like a fantasy. The reality is that no employment situation is perfect and so many factors outside of the workplace also contribute to healthy and sustainable work life equilibrium. 

By the time our son was four months old, my husband and I were each working forty plus hours away from home. Luckily, we were able to carry out alternating work schedules but for financial and personal reasons, we chose not to outsource childcare. However, while we both enjoyed this opportunity to be at home with our infant, we essentially had to adapt to a new pattern centered around caring for a young child while still being diligent employees at our workplaces. 

This work life balancing act required that we were well-rested and industrious and also emotionally and physically healthy but let’s be honest, our parent relay of what I, in fun, call  “The Baby Toss & Turn” didn’t really allow for diligent fitness regimens and relaxing slow cooked meals. It was more of a daily, hour by hour, detailed program of scheduled naps, constructive play, feedings, and keeping up with house chores. Additionally, tracking milk supply throughout the day and organizing meal prep for the adults was essential to keeping ourselves on course. 

Working from home, traveling for work, and being home full-time require creativity and compromise as healthy parenting remains a function of stable work life balance. Some variables change with high points and low ones in between but what’s important is that even when energy is diminished our outlook as parents remains bright.

I leave you with an article on work life balance and motherhood from Cindy T. Graham, PhD. Dr. Graham is a licensed clinical psychologist and a parent to two young children. After studying psychology at Princeton University, she earned her masters and doctorate from Louisiana State University and completed her training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Graham is a published scholar in the Journal of Child Neurology and Research in Developmental Disabilities. You can follow her on InstagramFacebookTwitter and YouTube and find her helpful tips on her blog, The Mental Health Perspective in Everyday Life at

It might have been seventh grade when I was standing in the kitchen with my mom and we were talking about the future, motherhood, career, etc. At that age I knew I wanted to become a psychologist and have my own private practice. I also knew that I wanted to have four kids. Yes, you read that correctly—4 children. All of a sudden I became quite worried about making all of this work…being a mother, wife, and business owner. I very frantically said to my mom, “Kids, cooking, cleaning, private practice!! How will I make it all work?” My mom, very calmly replied, “Cindy, you will have a husband to help you.” 

Fast forward about 25 years. While I am married with kids, my original hopes of having four children has been downsized to two, and while I do not own my own business, I do work full-time at a wonderful private practice. Furthermore, I have chosen to become an advocate for mental health awareness through social media. I am far more busy than I had imagined I would be. And while I have not achieved a perfect balance of home life and work, there are several changes I had to make to head down that path. (I’m probably doing better at it than I am giving myself credit for, but that’s a post for a different day.) Here is what I have learned since becoming a mom on how to achieve greater balance between my work and home lives.

Don’t try to do it all. Trust me, this is a bad idea. It is darn near impossible to accomplish. At least I have not figured out how to do it all. So if you are looking for tips on trying to do it all completely on your own you may want to check out a different post. Besides, the proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” exists for a reason. No matter how much you may feel like you should be able to get it all done know you don’t need to put that kind of pressure on yourself. My husband, my kids, and I live about 4 hours away from our closest family member so we have to lean on our village as necessary. Humans are social beings for a reason and it is healthy to call upon others when you need help. My husband does help with chores around the house and with caring for the kids. For example, we have our own days for drop off and pick-ups of the boys. For the days of the week one of us drops the kids off, the other picks up (and the one who did the dropping off works late that day). Also, we have used daycares and preschools that offer before and after-care services to accommodate our work schedules.

Automate what you can with delivery and pick-up services. This has probably been the biggest game changer for me. Many of the regular household supplies we need I have delivered to our house. Some by subscriptions (through vendors such as Amazon and Target) where I pick the frequency I want certain items delivered. This was a HUGE time saver when my boys were younger…diapers and wipes came automatically each month. I have everything from hair care supplies to bath wash to air purifier filters coming at regular intervals via online subscriptions. I don’t have to think about purchasing these items. Then there are pick-up and delivery services. It is great to be able to order what I need online and pick them up at the store (usually groceries—except produce, I like to pick out my own produce). This saves tons of time!! If I happen to forget something important I need, rather than running out to the store, I use any of a number of online delivery services which will bring me what I need for a nominal fee as long as I meet the minimum purchase requirement (examples include Amazon Prime Now and Instacart). This allows me to get various chores done around the house. And automatic bill paying is a necessity. I am somewhat of a control freak so this was difficult to let go of. I still check to make sure that correct amounts come out, but it does not take nearly as much time as setting up each payment used to take.

Have a plan but be flexible. What I mean is to know how you are going to tackle everything you have on your plate. Working as a psychologist in private practice allows me to set my own hours so I am able to squeeze my work week into 3.5 days. It makes for some long days at the office, but for me it is worth it to have a day and a half each work week to accomplish other responsibilities—things like doctor appointments, post office runs, and other incidentals that need to get done during regular business hours. Fridays and Saturdays are days for cleaning. Sundays are for laundry. And also for cooking meals in advance. I make 2-3 dishes in a large enough amount to feed our family for 2-3 meals. If I am feeling particularly frisky, I will make that much plus an additional meal to store in the freezer—perfect for when you need a quick meal one night and have nothing prepared but don’t feel like getting take out or fast food. I defrost, reheat, and serve. This means I plan my meals for the following week by Saturday afternoon so that the shopping can be done in advance. If you are not into spending a large chunk of your weekend cooking meals, then plan to prepare quick meals each weekday. Or prep on the weekend by cleaning, chopping, seasoning, etc. and then cooking the day it will be eaten. Most importantly, even the best laid plans can go awry. So BE FLEXIBLE. (This is coming from a lady who LOVES her routines.) Often, getting stuck in our regular routine can make it difficult to adjust our path when something gets messed up. You may have to change your routine for a day or two, or you may have to change your routine for an extended time. Know that you can handle it. Know that you will adjust. Know that whatever comes you can figure out a way around it.

These are a few of things I have learned to get my life on a path of balance. I’m fortunate to have a career that allows me to adjust my work schedule in a way that fits with my life. It is not what I envisioned for myself when I was younger, but it works for my family and me. I recently reminded my mom of the conversation we had when I was a pre-teen about balancing life and work. “Mom.” I said, “You made it seem like it would all be easy.” To which my mom said, “I couldn’t tell you the truth. In that moment you needed hope.” My wish is that after reading this you, too, have the hope you need to know that although it may not be easy, balancing work and life is do-able.

May 12, 2017

Army Green & Petal Pink | Happy Mother's Day 💐

Khaki Green Slim Cargo Pants

When I worked as a dental provider for the military, I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing military families. Moving from duty station to duty station every few years, keeping up with the kids' busy schedules, and supporting their spouses requires some heavy maneuvering and strategic planning. When the going gets tough, here are some looks to get you going:

Extra pockets and comfy layers are always in style. Happy Mother's Day!

May 7, 2017

Hands-On Measurement | DIY Educational Activities for Kids

Rain rain, go away! Come again, another day! The rainy weekend didn't dampen our rhythm and being stuck indoors presented an opportunity for some arts and crafts. is an excellent resource for interactive reading, writing, and math activities for children pre-K through 5th grade. This Hands-On Measurement exercise is a brilliant way to flex those developing math skills.  

Here's what you need: scissors, paper, child's hand, and crayons.

1. Trace your child's hand or let him do it all by himself!

2. Cut out your design. If you used plain white paper, color it for more fun! Discuss this crafty new tool as a device for measurement. Ask your child if he thinks many things are bigger than his hand, smaller than his hand, or the same size as his hand.

3. Give your child a bag or pail and have him hunt around the house for an assortment of toys or household objects. (When the skies are clear and the weather is nice, try searching for items outdoors.)

4. Have him choose a few items of various sizes. Help him use his hand cut-out to measure each one. 

DIY Hands-On Measurement Activity

5. Compare and contrast the different objects. Line them up in size order. Examine which one is shorter, taller, wider, or longer. Apply the same ideas to your pets and other family members. is a full of wonderful guided lessons like this one for the whole family. Click here to find this fun Hands-On Measurement game and other math focused activities.

May 5, 2017

Natural Bristle Toothbrush for Sensitive Teeth

Natural Boar Bristle Toothbrush

Chew sticks in Africa, horsehair in Egypt, coconut husk in the South Pacific and many other natural materials from all over the world have been incorporated for oral hygiene use. Although the Ancient Chinese were said to have used boar bristles to clean their teeth, the first nylon toothbrush wasn't manufactured until 1938 by DuPont and was later adopted for more effective use by Johnson & Johnson in 1977. While nylon is more widely popular today, natural boar bristles like Fuchs Natural Brushes, are much softer and useful for those with sensitive teeth and gums. 

Who can we credit for the custom of daily toothbrushing in the United States? Upon their return home from World War II, US Soldiers continued the habit of toothbrushing that was regimented during their military service. Teeth should be brushed for two minutes, three times daily. Young children should be supervised and until they are able to tie their shoelaces, parents should perform "military checks" to ensure that all surfaces have been cleaned properly.

April 27, 2017

Gift Ideas for Mom | Happy Mother's Day

Kitchenaid Mixer
This Mother's Day, I'm looking for some fun ways to get things cooking! We just moved into our newly renovated home and I must admit, I can't wait to finally conquer the kitchen. Here are some items at the top of my list (hint, hint):

1. Kitchenaid Artisan Mixer. I've ordered this popular item half a dozen time for friends and family. The popular 325 Watt, 10 speed mixer comes in 47 different colors and is equipped with a flat beater, dough hook and wire whip. Maybe I can finally perfect my mother-in-law's recipe for Hubby's favorite Serbian croissants.

2. Zojirushi Rice Cooker. As I mentioned in my last post, 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me, I lived in Japan as a child where rice was king. This high tech cooker not only prepares all types of rice varieties but doubles as a steamer and even bakes cakes. Plus, the stainless steel exterior is easy to clean.

3. Artand Place Mats. These woven vinyl place mats are super sturdy to resist heat, stains, and wear because getting the food on the table should be the biggest task. The cool design will complement any decor.

4. CucinaPro Crepe Maker. This 12 inch non-stick griddle gets super hot and can also cook pancakes, bacon and more. The included batter spreader is perfect for those ultra thin crepes that we just love to fill with hazelnut spread, fruits, and whipped cream!

5. Joy of Cooking. My mom still keeps hers handy and this book was my first official wedding gift! This timeless kitchen essential is packed with ideas for healthy cooking, easy recipes, as well as tried and trusted meals du jour! This best selling cook book is a must have for every kitchen.

6. T-Fal Cookwear Set. Pots and pans, anyone? No one likes clean up but cooking with heat safe tools can make things much healthier and more fun! This set includes three frying pans, two sauce pans and a 5-quart Dutch Oven.

Ok, what's missing? What's your favorite kitchen gadget? Any cool recipe suggestions? Happy Mother's Day!

April 20, 2017

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

Thank you Brittany Bertuzzi at for passing the mic! This challenge to share 20 things about myself that people may not know was definitely not easy, but here we go! 

1. I am the second oldest of 🔢 sisters 👩👩👩👩 and I was named after Brigitte Bardot (my mom was watching one of her films right before she went into labor).

2. I was born in Philadelphia but I've lived on 3 different continents 🌎🌏🌍 and have traveled to 20 different countries. 

3. When I was ten years old, my family moved to Omiya City, Japan 🇯🇵 and my sisters and I attended a Japanese public school 🎒 for a whole year. Maybe that's why my favorite type of food is Asian Fusion and I love wasabi!

4. My first 2 vinyl records were the "Annie" soundtrack and Micheal Jackson's Thriller (my older sister and I used to play them on our Fisher Price record player) but my first cassette tape was Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 🎤 and she is by far, my all-time favorite pop star! 

5. I was a competitive swimmer for 10 years 🏊 My prime was the backstroke. (I don't miss those 5:30 am ⏰ practices before school!)

6. My mother is a bilingual educator 👩🏫 and commanded us to learn Spanish. So glad that I did because I use it every single day, just as she predicted!

7. As kids, most of our pets were reptiles. We had a 20 ft Boa 🐍 named Noah! 

8. My favorite doll was my Business Barbie 💼 Of course, she had a pink suit and a white hat with a pink polk-a-dot bow 🎀 around it! 

9. My favorite candy 🍭 is Starburst and I still go back and forth favoring pink over red 🍓🍒 but I eat more chocolate now that I know it dissolves faster on your teeth!

10. The first movie 🎬 I saw in a theater was ET (Extra Terrestrial). My dad always reminds me that I was so scared that cried the whole way 😰 through with my hands covering my eyes!

11. I love comedies, especially romantic comedies! My favorite comedian 🎭 is Eddie Murphy and my favorite movie 🎟 is Boomerang!

12. My first car was a 1985 Volkswagen GTI 🚗 It was a stick shift so I had to learn how to drive a standard! 

13. Dentistry 😁 is my third career, following my roles as a music industry executive and newspaper columnist!

14. I've always enjoyed creative writing. In high school, I wrote poetry ✍🏽 about everything under the sun. My favorite poets are Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni. Years later, I even started a Greeting Card company to house my poems. I incorporated and everything but never went to print 

15. My favorite author is Toni Morrison 📚 and I love every journey, every character, every struggle, and every triumph. I also get a rush when I hear her natural spoken voice. She's so eloquent and poised. 

16. As a teen, I was fanatic about Hip Hop 🎧 culture! I once cut school and took Amtrak 🚅 to NYC to hang out with The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest and Common! (I literally just told my mom just last month!)

17. One of my favorite rap albums 🎼 is Low End Theory and the first rap song I ever memorized was "Check the Rhyme" by A Tribe Called Quest. (RIP Phife Dawg 😔)

18. My first job out of college was at MTV 👩🎤 in Times Square. I worked in law and business affairs, and I drafted contracts for everything from lighting 💡productions to VIP arrangements!

19. New York City 🗽 is the greatest city in the world! I've lived in Harlem, the Bronx, Long Island and Brooklyn. So, it's no surprise that my favorite TV series 📺 is Sex and the City 💋

20. One of things I enjoy most about dentistry is that it grants opportunities to meet all kind of interesting patients, especially in Washington, DC 🏛 I've had the honor of providing treatment for a sitting US Supreme Court Justice, a former Sec of Defense, and a French Army Commander.

That's all folks! I challenge you to share 20 fun facts about yourself. You might be surprised, this task turned out to be a lot of fun!  

I love comments! Let us know what you think!

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