Category Archives: Businesses

Feb 06, 2017

Dental Excellence opened in December at Del Ray Towers located at 3116 Mt Vernon Ave. and I was happy to have the opportunity to see their office and meet with Dr. Sheri Salartash. Neighbors are invited to stop in to meet the staff and get a tour. Dr. Salartash is an experienced dentist that wanted to open her practice in a progressive neighborhood that would embrace her desire to practice holistic dentistry. The office provides comprehensive dental care such as ortodontics, cosmetic dentistry, soft tissue laser, implants, whitening along with preventative care. Dental Excellence offers treatment for children as young as newborn that are tongue tied who may be experiencing problems feeding.  Dental treatment begins for children as young as two. Dr Salartash notes that screenings for traditional & physiological orthodontics screens should start early since between the ages of 2-6 years is a critical age. For orthodontics, Dr Salrtash notes that the best results happen before the age of 12.

Dr Salartash focuses on patient education and wants patients to understand and work as part of the team to create a treatment plan. There are numerous things that set this dentist office apart. I was impressed with the massaging chairs, parafin wax treatment, heated blankets, digital x-rays (that are low dose), mercury free dentistry, advanced water filter system and use of NU Calm instead of nitrus. Bonus points go out to this office for having changing stations in the restrooms! Dr Salartash is a new mom herself and dedicated to providing a full range of services to make your child and your experience positive.

The office sees patients on Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri. and Saturday and they work will all major PPOs. They also offer yearly membership rates that include 6 month cleanings and discounts on treatments for those that do not have dental insurance. Be sure to check them out soon!

Oct 27, 2015

I had the pleasure of sitting down to meet with Cathy Canfield recently from Counseling of Alexandria to discuss her practice located in Old Town Alexandria. Cathy has been in her new space at 709 Pendleton St. for a year and a half now and I loved that the space really feels warm and inviting. ca office pics

Cathy’s practice specializes in working with children and also sees adult patients suffering from anxiety and trauma. Cathy uses play therapy and EMDR in her practice with children. She has expanded the practice and has brought in Jackie Sargent who provides art therapy.

I asked Cathy if she could answer some common questions that she gets from parents when they are considering having their child see a counselor.

How do I know my child needs counseling?
I get this question a lot, whether I’m chatting with friends or talking on the phone with a parent interested in services. I hope you keep these tips in the back of your mind in case the need ever arises. Below are some questions to ask yourself or talk to a professional about.
Have their been any significant changes in your child’s life (i.e. divorce, moving, new sibling, loss of someone close, natural disaster)?
Has your child’s moods or behaviors changed drastically for a couple of months-they just don’t seem like themselves?
Do they say things about themselves such as “no one likes me, I hate myself, I’m stupid” that indicate a low level of confidence?
Are they suddenly not interested in activities they used to enjoy? Are their grades at school in decline?
Is your child unable to fall asleep and stay asleep at night?
Do they have fears that don’t seem to make sense?
My child is not old enough for counseling, right?
Counseling for children looks a lot different that what we imagine for adults. I have personally worked with children as young as 3. Some therapists have training working with infants and toddlers. When working with a child this young, you absolutely want someone with specific training in child development and play therapy. Children express their needs and feelings through play, which is why play therapy is essential for young children. They don’t have to talk about what is wrong to feel better. Your child can heal without even knowing what is wrong. Don’t wait for your child to be the right age to talk about it.
The other great thing about children is the sooner, the better. I often see children that parents have waited and hoped for their child to grow out of something, only to find that 3, 5, even 7 years down the road the problem hasn’t been resolved. Kids change quickly and heal at sometimes astonishing rates.
I don’t like the idea of a counselor confronting my child on their issues for years, they’re too young and vulnerable for that. Won’t they be more damaged by going to a counselor?
Counselors trained specifically in working with children will not use this approach with children. Actually, many counselors that work with adults do not use this type of approach with a client. Play therapy is great because while children have an awareness as to why they are coming to see a counselor, the healing process is often painless and even fun. Another option is parent coaching and training. With this option, a child may never enter the counselor’s office. Also, most of the time counseling with children is short-term (4-6 months) because they adapt and change at a more rapid pace that adults often do.
I don’t want to take my child out of school to get to an appointment. Won’t they be behind at school?
Another real challenge is scheduling. It can be a stress getting the kids to school, their after school activities, doing homework and feeding your children. I’ve been there! Counselors that work with children get this. We often work before and after school and sometimes on weekends to accommodate busy schedules. If possible, some counselors will also come to schools or homes for sessions.
I am really against medicating my child. Won’t that be the first thing a counselor wants to do?
I often clarify that counselors and psychotherapists (which are fairly interchangeable terms) do not have the ability to prescribe medications. Only medically trained professionals, such as psychiatrists, pediatricians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are legal able to prescribe medications. As far as recommendations, I will refer someone for a medication assessment as a last resort. Most of the children in our practice are not prescribed psychotropic medications and some children are able to stop taking medication they were previously prescribed after participating in counseling.
I’m still not sure about this. I think my child will grow out of their issues anyway. How do I know this is anything serious?
Children will often go through phases and can grow out of issues, but that’s now always the case. Often, in a short period of time with the support of counseling, children “grow out” of something much sooner than they would without. Psychotherapists (myself included) are in this field to help others and to help you decide if your child needs counseling. We are happy to offer free consultations, answer any questions you have and help point you in the right direction. Feel free to contact us by phone or email if you are curious about the potential benefits of counseling for your child.

Sep 22, 2015

Going to the dentist has a bit of a stigma, perhaps. Add a small child to that equation and you may start to feel your anxiety climb. I know that I used to dread taking my kids on their first dental visits. We would have to load the kids up, drive way outside of my beloved Del Ray community and hike across town to get to a dentist that “got” kids. Fast forward six years and now there’s a Pediatric dentist office in Old Town that REALLY gets kids! Parker-Gray Pediatric Dental Care opened last year and has really made waves in our community.

Parker-Gray-Pediatrics-Hi-Res-6Every parent knows that the key to a successful dental visit for your kid is to make the child comfortable. Parker-Gray gets an A+ for creating an office space that can capture kids’ imaginations and help them to feel at ease. Their waiting room has play equipment for younger kids, video games for older kids and a massive fish tank to mesmerize the kid in all of us! The treatment area is just as inspired and has a sink area where kids can train to master good oral hygiene and get educational support for good dental health. The staff provides compassionate and complete oral care and is trained to work with the youngest of clients.

Dr V and Dr S The owners, Dr. Heidi Vatanka & Dr. Kesha Stephenson met while studying dentistry at Howard University and a shared passion for pediatric dentistry led them to open Parker-Gray Pediatric Dental Care.  (You may recognize Heidi as a mom that lives in Del Ray!)

Parker-Gray-Pediatrics-Hi-Res-4The office is located in a great historic building that was originally constructed in 1944 as a school for African-American children during WWII. You may recognize the newly remodeled building as you go through Old Town; it’s at 224 N. Fayette St. situated right next to a park – how perfect for a Pediatric Dentistry!

The office provides routine and emergency dental care and plans to expand into orthodontic care in the future. The staff recommends that children be brought in for their first dental visit as soon as their teeth start to come in. Call today at 703-519-7275 and set up your appointment to tour their practice. I promise you’ll be glad you did!

Sep 14, 2015

The Alexandria YMCA has a long history of serving local family. This past year they took another step forward and began offering daycare services. The YMCA has had a relationship for many years First Assembly of God, Alexandria at 700 West Braddock Road offering summer camps at their location. The preschool is located on the lower level of the facility. YMCA Camps are offered on upper levels of the facility. The YMCA Academy offers preschool for children 18 months through pre-K. They currently offer three classrooms with a low ratio of students to teachers.IMG_6856

The Academy’s goal is to provide a pre-school program designed to stimulate the natural curiosity of our kids. Through hands on fun learning activities, the Academy aims to lay the foundation for the future so that children grow to be caring, respectful, honest and responsible lifelong learners. IMG_6851The classrooms are large, spacious and colorful. Every quarter, the Academy offers either a parent lunch or special activity for the children. Children have the opportunity to take swim lessons and ballet lessons through the YMCA programming as a part of the program.

IMG_6852Access into the Academy is monitored via key code. Daily activity logs are given to parents and important information is communicated via email. Children have lots of outdoor space on First Assembly’s large lawns, a new outdoor leaning space is being designed that is set to officially open in October of this year and they have use of a large indoor space to play in the church during inclement weather. Hours of the Academy is from 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks are provided as part of student tuitions.IMG_6857
New for this school year the academy has expanded its age groupings from 6 weeks to preschool.

Be sure to check out the YMCA Academy. Call 703-838-8085 to get further information or contact Paloma Jimenez at

Jul 01, 2015

Special thanks to guest blogger Meg Jewett for her review of Kaizen’s brunch!

I don’t know about your family, but for the 5 of us, weekends race by at a pretty incredible clip. Sometimes I feel like I should just hurl hardboiled eggs and a clementine or two out the window to passing kids as they race to soccer or swim or between sleepovers and birthday parties. Every once in a while, when all of the stars align, and generally there is a torrential downpour or half the class has chicken pox, we have time for a family brunch, and darn it, we are going to enjoy it. Next comes the selection process though, and that is almost as exhausting. Between wheat intolerance, vegetarian principles, and insatiable appetites, there lies a small patch of agreement where a yummy breakfast could land. We’ve just recently stumbled upon a restaurant that lands just there and serves something other than a Frappuccino. Join us sometime at KAiZEN Tavern. First, get over that “You’ve got a baby, in a bar.” moment, and the fact that at night they serve sushi. There is something to their quirky mix of neighborhood warmth, streamlined Asian aesthetic and the add-ins that just happen to be favorites of the smiling manger, Allen Smith. Our picky eater scarfed down the French toast and passed the sausage to her little sister, who loved the fact that Mr. Smith babied her with some extra tweaks to her breakfast tacos so there was nothing to spicy or too red (her latest phase!). Our more adventurous teen went for the bento box, feeling proud to have avoided anything with syrup and made Mom proud with thought about a balanced plate of protein and veggies. The mood there is relaxed and cheerful and the small space is definitely filled with lots of “regulars” chatting with the staff and friends at other tables. They are happy to make orders to go for family members who slept in or for anyone needing to get scooting to the day’s events. This includes sending you off with sake or something bubbly too, if you have a festive picnic in mind or maybe just brunch in bed for someone extra deserving of a little peace. My husband and I enjoyed trading tastes of each other’s Pork Belly BLT and the breakfast take on a Philly, washed down with Del Ray Fizz—the house mimosa that was just the extravagance our easy morning deserved. We’ve never been much of short stack of flapjacks and grits and gravy gang, but this blend of comfort foods and stylized fair was refreshing and fun without making a family feel out of place on a savored Saturday morning together. Now I’m sort of hoping no one makes it to All-Stars, or is invited to the PaintThis birthday next weekend either. Hope your crew can sneak in a little time together this week too over some great local eats, and maybe we’ll see you on the Avenue!
Kaizen is located on 1909 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria VA 22302. They are open Monday through Friday. 4:30-9:30pm with a happy hour specials from 4:30-7pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30-2pm for Brunch and 4:30-9:30pm for Dinner. Children are Welcome and reservations are welcome but not required.

May 01, 2015

I recently visited Local Motion Studio on the edge of Old Town and had the opportunity to meet with the owner Sara Lavan and Children’s Program Director Kylie Murray. I was so excited to hear about all the amazing programs that Local Motion Studio has for children and even more excited to hear about the hot summer programs that they have coming up. Local Motion has two types of programs that they are offering children. The first is a basic weekly class set up and the second is an enrichment camp structure where the children attend for the week.

group pic wild thingsTheir ‘basic’ classes are anything but basic when it comes to the curriculum. Their creative movement class starts at age 2 (with a caregiver) and goes up to age 6. In this youngest class kids learn movement and parents take away concepts to use at home. This class also helps kids learn the structure and organization of being in a class. Local Motion Studio brings in multi-cultural music, incorporates props, collaboration and coordination into all of their movement classes.  The 5-6 year olds even begin to create choreography. Also as part of their ‘basic’ summer classes, they will be offering kids’ yoga. Children will learn in a fun environment basic mindfulness, breathing, meditation and asana. All of their summer classes are set up so that you can choose to attend for 8, 9 or 10 weeks. It’s all about flexibility for your summer schedule!

The enrichment camps offered this summer at Local Motion are week-long camps that are two hours in length each day and will enrich your child’s body and mind. The Yoga Camp incorporates storytelling, creative movement, games and crafts. This class is offered for children ages 5-7. Dance Camp brings together exploration of movement and culminates in an original performance piece they will perform at the end of the week. This camp is for children going into grades 1st through 4th. The Theater Camp will be the final camp offered during the summer and it is also for children going into grades 1st through 4th. In theater camp children will work together in games, improvisational theater, playwriting and movement activities to help develop basic theater skills of vocal expression, storytelling and character creation.

You can sign up today on Local Motion Studio’s website!

Leaping boy

Apr 15, 2015

New parents have to make many tough decisions. Among them is how to handle all the crap that comes out of our precious new children. I grew up wearing cloth diapers. My mother swore by them. The diaper pins held sentimental attachment for me as I grew older and remembered seeing my youngest sibling toddle around in her cloth diaper. My mom was a trooper and did all the cleaning herself. When I had my first child, I decided that I didn’t have the time to invest in cloth diapers although I hated seeing the loads of diapers that we sent out to the landfill. Fast forward nine years out of diapers and I stumbled upon Modern Diaper Service. My oldest was at rock climbing camp and needs a harness now more than a diaper but I was curious when I saw their sign and went in for more information. The owner, Dennis, was very kind and gave my son and I a tour of their facility. I was blown away. I felt like I had stepped back in time. I had no idea that Alexandria has been home to a full service diaper company since 1974 (that’s one year before I was born for those wondering). Even my son enjoyed seeing the testing that they do on each and ever load of laundered diapers to ensure that they are PH balanced to fight diaper rash.IMG_2443[1]

Modern Diaper advertises that for less than the cost of many brands of disposable diapers you can give your baby the Comfort of 100% Cotton Diapers and free yourself from the inconvenience of washing diapers at home. They have incredible industrial equipment that ensures that their diapers get the cleanest wash possible. Each diaper is inspected by hand!IMG_2445[1]

Now the details of their service! Your first delivery of diapers includes a plastic diaper pail along with waterproof velcro diaper cover and instructions. You’re not going at this alone moms and dads! They also sale additional velcro diaper covers, waterproof pants, diaper pins, liners and training pants. They offer 2 Sizes of Diapers and 6 Choices of thickness. They pick-up and deliver at your door step in Alexandria and through out the DMV and your service date is the same each week. Looking for a great shower gift for new parents? You can get new parents a gift certificate for their services.

You can contact them at 301-853-3993 or 703-82303993 or even go visit them at 5318 Eisenhower Ave. in Alexandria.



Sep 25, 2014

Schools are back in session so many of us have pulled the lunch boxes back out and are probably already finding ourselves in a rut with the daily variety and even spread thin getting homework done, delivering everyone to various practices, getting clothes/uniforms ready and getting the darn lunches packed.


Bon Vivant (formerly SEVA Cafe) has come to the aid of moms and dads and is now offering daily packed lunches. The lunches are $6.50 and they will donate 25c to the school of your choice for each meal purchased.

Pick up the lunch after 5 p.m. the day before and you are set!

Here is their current lunch box menu:

Sandwich: Pasture-raised chicken + mayo
Snack: 100% grass-fed local yogurt
Fruit: Apple, banana, peach or other seasonal fruit

Sandwich: Almond butter + jelly
Snack: Hummus + chips
Fruit: Apple, banana, peach or other seasonal fruit

Sandwich: Tarragon chicken salad sandwich
Snack: Ester’s granola bar
Fruit: Apple, banana, peach or other seasonal fruit
Sandwich: 100% grass-fed beef + mayo
Snack: Pretzels
Fruit: Apple, banana, peach or other seasonal fruit

Sandwich: Free-range Ham + local raw cheese
Snack: Variety of cut veggies like carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers
Fruit: Apple, banana, peach or other seasonal fruit

Bon Vivant has additional items that you can add to your boxed lunch such as cookies, brownies, apples, bananas, yogurt, hummus, chips and drinks from their fridge.

photo 3


photo 1If you haven’t been in to Bon Vivant yet, you’re really missing out on some excellent tasting and good for you food. As an extra bonus, they offer a play room for kids so it’s a great place to meet friends, eat out or just a relaxing change of scenery during the day.

photo 2


Sep 17, 2014

hsstudiofrombackboogieLast week I had the pleasure of meeting with Claire Portolese, owner of Tippi Toes DC to learn more about the dance classes they offer here in Del Ray. Tippi Toes operates out of Mind the Mat Studio in Del Ray, Saffron in Clarendon and numerous locations in DC.


Tippi Toes offers a Toddler & Me class for ages 18 months – 3 years old. For children that advance out of Toddler & Me classes, they offer Baby Ballet which is for children 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 years old. Their Ballet/Tap/Jazz class is offered for ages 3-6 years. My daughter took their Hip Hop class for ages 6-12 and had a great experience.

Tippi Toes offers summer and spring break classes along with providing programs for numerous in school and after school clubs in the DC-VA area. They also offer birthday parties for children 3-7 years old and their parties come with your own princess instructor!


Be sure to sign up online for their classes!