Friday, October 28, 2011

Healthy Emotions

My husband, Adam, left this morning for a conference in Houston, TX.  He's gone to conferences before, but this is the first one since Rowan was born.  I always have had a lot of respect for single parents, when he's gone that respect just grows and grows.  Each conference he's gone to has presented me with new and different challenges as a parent.  The first conference Kara was just a year old and she got her first big illness.  I was unable to get much sleep or food.  All she wanted was to lay on my lap and be held.  Going to the bathroom was an adventure: have you ever tried to hitch your pants up when your child is strapped to you and throwing up at the same time?  Other conferences I've had the joys of explaining to Kara why her dad isn't there and why he wasn't going to be home for x days.   I got quite skilled at keeping her distracted from his absence.  This time though I am presented with 2 new challenges.  The first being that I now have two children, one that is awake frequently during the night and needs much of my attention (and body).  The second is one I had not thought of before.

How do you express emotions around your children?  Prior to Kara when Adam would go to a conference I would have cried a bit, gone home, eaten junk food and watched TV, read some books, done a puzzle and stayed up way past my bedtime.  Now I know better than to spend my time watching TV, staying up late and eating junk food.  I'm sure I'll read plenty of books and may do some puzzles. Granted the books may not be more complicated than naming dinosaurs and the puzzles will have less than 50 pieces.  But what to do about the desire to cry?  Do I show Kara how sad I am that her dad has left?  Do I let her see how worried I am about how our time alone will go and his safety?  Or do I keep a stiff upper lip and keep on going as if nothing has changed?  If I don't express my emotions, in a healthy way that is, am I teaching Kara to not acknowledge her own emotions?  Does that teach her to be a stoic and afraid of emotions?  If I show her the tears does that then lead her to fear and worry when she shouldn't have that burden?  Will she feel she needs to take care of me since I am sad?  This also leads me to examine how we deal with Kara's tantrums and other outbursts of emotion.  Right now we ask her to calm down and say that once she is calm we can talk about what is bothering her. But does that teach her that she shouldn't express the emotion?  Would it be better to say "wow, you are really sad/angry/upset.  Let's take a moment to be that way, then we can calm down and talk about what has made you feel that way"?  We do try to acknowledge the emotion by saying "you sound really sad", but is that enough?  Do we need to give her more space to feel and express the emotion?  I want to raise children that are not afraid of their emotions and can express them in a healthy way.  I don't want them learning to stuff their feelings down or to think that it's not ok to let others know how they are feeling.  Emotions can be powerful and influence our thinking more than we often realize or admit.  To have a healthy relationship with emotions would allow them to recognize, feel, and then move on past the emotions so they do not influence their decisions excessively.  The question is- how to achieve that.

Submitted by Heidi-rose Creuzinger, member of NorthMetroDCMommies.  Heidi-rose blogs at Terror at 3 Feet & Rising.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hard Copy or eReader?

So, I need to talk to you about something very important. And yes, it has everything to do with books. I need to know how you're reading these days. Are you reading hard copies of your books - as you always have and always will? Hardbacks. Paperbacks. Mass Market copies that fit in the smallest bags you own?

Or have you gone to the technological side and got yourself a Nook or a Kindle? Any sort of eReader at all?

I can't decide. I love my books. But believe me, I'd have a lot more space in various rooms of my home if I had less of them. And I'd never have to leave my house to buy the latest title that sparks my interest. AND I could carry more than one book at a time with me when I travel (not that that's frequent or anything - but still) and switch it around if I wanted to without worrying.

And no more tearing ads out of magazines to create bookmarks. That would be nice. You know the kind? The little tear outs that are in every magazine? Oh, and magazines! I could subscribe to more and not worry about how quickly I read them and whether or not I'll be able to recycle all those pages well enough to feel a little bit greener.

But I would totally miss the page by page feel. I would totally miss how a book feels in my hands. The weight of it. The smell of it, even. I would miss living in the bookstore like I normally do. More than once a month we head there to take our daughter to play with the trains at Barnes and Noble.

But see, there's another concern. Kindle or Nook? I live off Barnes and Noble, ALWAYS. But I am saving the Amazon giftcards that I have been getting through Swagbucks so I can buy one [a Kindle] for practically nothing. Sort of.

So what do I do? What did you do?

Fill me in on why you switched to an eReader, or why you think you never will. And I'll just keep reading. And reading. And - well - you get the idea!

Happy Reading -- however you do it!

Originally posted on the TriangleMommies blog on 5/7/11
Andrea is a SAHM who blogs about her everyday life, motherhood and more over at http://goodgirlgoneredneck.blogspot.com
Monday, October 24, 2011

Menu Monday Cheddar'd Summer Squash

Photo by: jspatchwork
Cheddar'd Summer Squash

Ingredients:
4 small yellow squash and/or
zucchini trimmed & cut in 1/2
lengthwise.
1/4 cup chopped green onion
nonstick cooking spray
1/8 tsp salt
ground pepper
2oz shredded sharp cheddar
cheese

Cooking Instructions:
1.preheat oven to 400. Arrange squash cut side up in 3 quart baking dish.
2.lightly coat squash with cooking spray. Sprinkle green onion,salt & pepper evenly.
3.top with cheese
4.Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until squash is just tender and cheese is bubbly.


Submitted to The Mommies Network recipe database by "christy."
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reuniting With An Overseas Daughter

As last summer approached, I remember reading posts on UnionCountyMommies (UCM) about upcoming travel plans, family vacations, free movie viewings, and securing memberships to the local water park. But one fellow mommy’s plans really stood out because they were so different from the rest. She was raising money to cover the expenses of a hosting a child from Belarus for six weeks.

And this year, around the same time, I saw similar posts go up again…she was planning, fundraising, and even longing to bring back that same little girl. It was clear her family had had an amazing experience, one that was worth far more than the time, effort, and money they had put into it. I was so moved by her desire to help in this way, and I wanted to get more information about the program. I wanted to learn more about children and let others know how they too, can get involved.

So I was thrilled when UCM member, Heather Efird, graciously agreed to take time out of her busy life and answer all of my questions! The program goes by the name ABRO, which Heather explained stands for American Belarussian Relief Organization. It is a national, non-profit organization whose focus is to improve the quality of life, and the health, of children living in and around areas of Belarus affected by the Chernobyl disaster in April of 1986.

The first group to come over, in 1989, consisted of thirteen children. Today, more than 300 children, ages seven to seventeen, come over each summer. Their time in the United States helps lower the levels of radiation in their bodies, boost their immune systems, and provides an opportunity to receive medical and dental care that they truly need.

The cost just to bring their host child, Alina, back this year was about $2000 she says, money that is to be raised completely by the host family. The Efirds have been able to raise the necessary fees through fundraisers with Yankee Candle, Tupperware, selling poinsettias at Christmas, and car wash tickets through Autobell, as well as soliciting donations.

The host family is also responsible for the costs of day to day living, including clothing, food, and medical appointments, just as if the child was part of the family. And it’s clear that’s exactly what Alina has become to the Efirds. In fact, Heather often refers to Alina as her daughter.

Heather says last summer Alina went to lots of baseball games that her son, Blake, was playing in. They also took her to the mountains, a local animal park called Lazy 5 Ranch, and to the beach in Oak Island, NC. Alina also attended a weekly bible study that was taught in Russian. I asked her to tell me about a favorite memory, but she couldn’t pick just one! “She comes from a low income family and lost her father two years ago. Every day was like Christmas to her while she was with us last summer.” Heather said.

Host families are still needed in order to bring more children here each summer. Heather says, “This is a life changing experience for all that are involved but it's not easy. These children speak little to no English so communication is a big hurdle. No matter how difficult the situation is...the LOVE in that child's eyes makes it all worth it.” The Efirds have been able to call Alina a few times since she left last summer, but say the best way to keep in touch is through a translator and an email address provided by ABRO.

Since this is their second year hosting through the program, I asked Heather what it was exactly that made her family want to sign up again. Thoughtfully, she said, “When we first got involved with the program I kept thinking about how much we would change this child's life forever. The thing that she will never realize is how much she has changed OUR family. I never knew how this would affect my life forever.”

As Alina’s travel date gets closer and closer, I can’t help but imagine what a wonderful reunion it will be for all of them!!

For more information on how to help with donations or to become a host family, please visit http://www.abro.org/

Originally posted by Heather from UnionCountyMommies.com on The Mommies Network National Blog, 5/26/11
Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Monday Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup & Cheesy Green Onion Cornbread




You Need (for the soup):
1 Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
Chicken (2-3 breasts, 4 thin breasts, 5-6 cutlets, or any leftovers you can shred up)
1 Can Black or Pinto Beans
1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
2 Cans Chicken Stock
2 Cans Enchilada sauce
Frozen Corn (a whole 15-16oz bag)
Oregano
Cumin
Chili Powder
Salt & Pepper

You Need (for the soup toppings):
Avocado
Sour Cream
Shredded Cheese
Tortilla Chips
Note:
  • I recommend you use the Ortega brand of enchilada sauce - not because I have any brand loyalty or endorsement (ha), but because it has a meaty/taco-y base rather than a tomatoey/pepper base. The other brands are a LOT more spicy. It depends on what you like, really, but I prefer the way the Ortega brand tastes in this soup.

Soup Instructions:

1. Cook/shred your chicken. The easiest way to do this if you're using fresh chicken is to boil it for about 25 minutes, and then shred it on a plate with forks. If you're using leftovers, just shred it up! I get this boiling right off the bat.

2. Chop up your onion to a fine dice & mince your garlic. Sweat these out in some olive oil right in the pot you plan to make your soup in.

3. When the onions & garlic are cooked down a bit (somewhat translucent), add in your diced tomatoes & corn. Then season with the list of spices - they all call for 1 tsp but I like to play around with it so add what you like! Don't go crazy on the chili powder until you know how spicy the enchilada sauce you're working with is.

4. Add in your chicken stock, enchilada sauce & water. Stir & check for seasoning - add more of whatever you'd like if you think it needs it. You can also add your jalapenos now, if you got them. And - if your soup is a bit too acidic for your liking you can add a few pinches of sugar to help.

5. Shred & add in your chicken if you haven't already. Then simmer for 10-15 minutes.

6. Cube up your avocado & get your toppings ready while you wait for the soup to simmer.

I top mine with everything from the topping list above - but have fun, play around with it! The sour cream cools it down a lot - and the avocado tastes incredible with all the other flavors in the soup!

You Need (for the cornbread):
A box of Jiffy mix (or any other cornbread mix)
Ingredients to make you cornbread (I believe mine was 1 egg & 1/3 cup of milk - follow your box instructions)
Green Onions, sliced or snipped into O's
Cheese (I used a Mexican blend to fit the Mexican theme)

Cornbread Instructions:
*If you're making these together, I suggest doing this first & popping it in the oven before getting to work on the soup!

1. Prepare the cornbread mix as the package instructs in a mixing bowl.

2. Chop up or snip green onions with kitchen shears and add it to the batter. I snipped up 1 bunch (the size grocery stores usually sell them in) and put about half in the mix - the other half we used as a topper for the soup.

3. Mix in a few good handfuls of your cheese - I used about half the bag, otherwise the cheese gets kinda lost in the cornbread.

4. Bake according to box!
Recipe submitted by Jenn Rychlicki (mrsLicky) from Buffalo Mommies
Friday, October 14, 2011

How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

If you grew up in the kind of neighborhood I did, then you remember people sitting out on their front porches in the evenings, kids playing out in the neighbors yard until it was too dark to see and the mad rush to the ice cream truck when that little jingle was first heard on the street.

Nowadays, that scene is almost non-existent. Many parents are working late, then have to pick up the kids from their day care provider and rush home to make dinner, spend a little quality time with the kids and then off to bed to start all over again. Parents are worried that the streets aren't safe. People drive everywhere, and the most you see someone is when you are both getting into your car at the same time.

There are many benefits to having a close relationship with your neighbors. Research shows that neighborhoods where people know each other by name and are connected to one another have lower crime rates. It has even been shown that kids who live in tight knit communities do better in school.

Maybe it is time for us to bring back the days of yesterday, and get to know our neighbors. One way you can do this is by making a neighborhood directory. Send a letter (or even better, deliver it in person) asking your neighbors if they would like to be included in a neighborhood directory. A sample letter can be found here. Have them complete a form that provides you with information to put in the directory. A sample form can be found here. Once you have collected the completed forms, print a directory and distribute it to your neighbors. You can also email the directory to them to save on paper costs.

Another idea is to start a website for your neighborhood. You can get a free website from Geocities (http://www.geocities.com) or Neighborhood Link (http://www.neighborhoodlink.com). You can put a calendar of events in your area on the site, or perhaps list the email addresses of the residents. A bulletin board can be used to post announcements or special needs.

What about an old-fashioned potluck dinner or backyard barbecue. Invite your neighbors and ask them to bring a covered dish or dessert to share! What a wonderful way to get to know the people in your neighborhood. You might enjoy it so much that you turn it into a monthly event!

In this day and age, it is even more critical that we know those who live around us. Our very safety might depend on it. But there is also so much joy to be found right in your backyard! A host of new friends (and babysitters!) can be found just a stone's throw away from your front door. And perhaps, all of your neighbors are just sitting there waiting for you to make it all happen!

Originally posted on CharlotteMommies.com
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Fun and Safe Halloween



Halloween has always been a favorite of mine. I don't know if it was the candy, the dressing up, the neighborhood involvement, or the general feeling of happiness that everyone, old and young, felt. I think I went trick-or-treating longer then any of my friends and was always the one trying to talk my other 18-year-old friends into going with me. If I wasn't trick-or-treating, I was throwing a Halloween party. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to celebrate one way or another. I love Halloween so much; I even brought my oldest child trick-or-treating three days after giving birth to her younger sister. Nothing was going to keep me from sharing with her something that I grew up to love so much.

Unfortunately, times have changed since I was a young child walking the streets for candy and fun. Special care must be taken to be sure the excitement of Halloween doesn't turn into disaster.

The National Safety Council offers some great advise for parents and children to be sure to enjoy the special night safely. "There is no "trick" to making Halloween a real treat for the entire family." Before planning your night of fun, check to see if your community has an assigned time for trick-or-treating and go over these safety tips as they pertain to your children

Halloween Safety Tips from the NSC

Both children and adults need to think about safety on this annual day of make-believe.

MOTORISTS
The National Safety Council urges motorists to be especially alert on Halloween.
* Watch for children darting out from between parked cars
• Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
• Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
• At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.

PARENTS
Before children start out on their "trick or treat" rounds, parents should:
• Make sure that an adult or an older responsible youth will be supervising the outing for children under age 12.
• Plan and discuss the route trick-or-treaters intend to follow. Know the names of older children's companions.
• Instruct your children to travel only in familiar areas and along an established route.
• Teach your children to stop only at houses or apartment buildings that are well lit and never to enter a stranger's home.
• Establish a return time.
• Tell your youngsters not to eat any treat until they return home.
• Review all appropriate trick-or-treat safety precautions, including pedestrian/traffic safety rules.
• Pin a slip of paper with the child's name, address and phone number inside a pocket in case the youngster gets separated from the group.

COSTUME DESIGN
• Only fire-retardant materials should be used for costumes.
• Costumes should be loose so warm clothes can be worn underneath.
• Costumes should not be so long that they are a tripping hazard. (Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween.)
• If children are allowed out after dark, outfits should be made with light colored materials. Strips of retro reflective tape should be used to make children visible.

                                                     FACE DESIGN
• Masks can obstruct a child's vision. Use facial make-up instead.
• When buying special Halloween makeup, check for packages containing ingredients that are labeled "Made with U.S. Approved Color Additives," "Laboratory Tested," Meets Federal Standards for Cosmetics," or "Non-Toxic." Follow manufacturer's instruction for application.
• If masks are worn, they should have nose and mouth openings and large eyeholes.

ACCESSORIES
• Knives, swords and other accessories should be made from cardboard or flexible materials. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
• Bags or sacks carried by youngsters should be light-colored or trimmed with retro-reflective tape if children are allowed out after dark.
• Carrying flashlights will help children see better and be seen more clearly.

ON THE WAY
Children should understand and follow these rules:
• Do not enter homes or apartments without adult supervision.
• Walk, do not run, from house to house. Do not cross yards and lawns where unseen objects or the uneven terrain can present tripping hazards
• Walk on sidewalks, not in the street.
• Walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic if there are no sidewalks.

TREATS
To ensure a safe trick-or-treat outing, parents are urged to:
• Give children an early meal before going out.
• Insist that treats be brought home for inspection before anything is eaten.
• Wash fruit and slice into small pieces.
• When in doubt, throw it out.

HALLOWEEN PARTY THEMES
Whether you decide to go trick-or-treating or hold a Halloween party for your friends and family or even invite your whole neighborhood, here are some fun party ideas that can easily and inexpensively be put together. Use your imagination and add to these party themes with some of your own ideas. Remember to ask your neighbors for their help and candy donations.

Barnyard Bash
Invitations: Cut out animal shapes on construction paper and write the party information on these. Hand deliver to your guests.
Decorations: bales of hay, bunches of dried cornstalks, autumn leaves, pumpkins, gourds, dried corncobs.
Serve food in western bandannas attached to sticks. Be sure to make a scarecrow. Carved out pumpkins make great serving dishes or chip bowls.

Witches, Wizards and Goblins
Invitations: Buy several cheap plastic magic wants. Print out invitations on white paper with important information. Scroll up around want. Tie with orange and black ribbon. Hand deliver to guests.
Decorations: String Christmas lights around the entrance way. Hang silver and gold stars through out the party area. Mylar gold and silver balloons can also be hung. Cut out ghost shapes in Mylar and hang. Glow-in-the-dark tape attached to walls, doors, lamps etc. is nice when lights are low. Grave markers can be made from Styrofoam sheets - use felt-tip markers to make inscription.

Cats and Bats
Invitations: Cut out the shape of cats or bats in construction paper. Write important party info on these. Hand deliver to invited guests.
Decorations: Have guests enter through a cat door (place a dark blanket over half the doorway and let guests crawl through). Hang black crepe paper and cobwebs everywhere. Hang black silhouettes of cats and bats throughout the house. Black balloons are a nice touch.

Monster Mash
Invitations: Buy inexpensive eye masks at party store. Write important party information on mask and hand deliver to guests.
Decorations: Bats hung everywhere! Make a coffin out of cardboard and leave at entrance way for kids jackets etc. to be placed inside. Hang black and green crepe paper or streamers.

Nightmare at Haunted House
Invitations: Cut out tombstone shapes on construction paper. Write party info in the form of an epitaph. Hand deliver to guests.
Decorations: Hang spider webs, plastic insects, phony tombstones, ghosts, balloons, witches and bats. Use back and white candles (out of reach of children). Hang ghosts made from white pillowcases. Use white balloons with black eyes drawn on them with markers. Ask florist to save dead flowers and wreaths that would be thrown away. Create a headless heathen by stuffing old clothes with newspaper and prop up at front door. Dry ice makes a special affect at these parties. (*Please be sure to use the dealers safety recommendations for the handling of dry ice-NEVER allow children to handle dry ice)



Photobucket
Monday, October 10, 2011

Menu Monday Berry Salad with Yogurt

Berry Salad with Yogurt

Ingredients:
1 cup no-fat/low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup honey - any kind will do
1 to 2 tablespoons milk (as needed to thin dressing)
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
4 cups of Berries -Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.
fresh peppermint leaves, whole or finely cut

Cooking Instructions:
Wash, stem and sort berries. In a small bowl combine
yogurt and honey and whisk together. Add cinnamon and
nutmeg and whisk until well incorporated. Add milk
until you reach your desired consistency. Place berries
in serving bowls and drizzle the yogurt dressing over
the top. Garnish with mint and serve immediately.

Submitted to The Mommies Network recipe database by "Heather"
Sunday, October 9, 2011

National Support at Your Fingertips

What if you had a place to go that had the same great support as your local chapter, but with more specialized forums and thousands of members across the United States?

What if that place offered encouragement to mommies in specific situations, such as stay-at-home, work-at-home, and military mommies?

What if that place provided interaction in groups discussing the latest Twilight books, couponing tips, and other hot topics in today's culture?

What if you could get all that for free?

Well, wonder no longer, because it's here at The Mommies Network National Forum. With 3,000 members and growing, the National Forum offers the same great support you've come to know from your local chapter, but with a twist. It features unique forums not available on your home site, including couponing, family vacation tips (including Disney), and alternative medicine.

Looking for someone to chat with about Twilight and other vamp books? Check out our "Everything Vamps" subforum in Books, Movies, & Entertainment. Are you a stay-at-home, campus, or military mommy looking for a friend? Talk with those in your situation in one of the Our Work subforums. Do you have a child with special needs and desire interaction with other mothers who are dealing with a specific condition? We have subforums related to specific diagnoses in Our Kids With Special Needs.

Members of this free site may purchase a Premium Membership, which contains extra forums, such as Debate This and Classifieds, along with other perks.

Mommies across the country are chatting it up in these and many other groups in the National Forum. So skip the "what ifs," and join us for enhanced support on a national scale!

If you're interested in being on the ground level of the action, consider becoming a Support Coordinator or Posting Diva for the National Forum.
Monday, October 3, 2011

The Mommies Network Presents ... Mommies Talk

Mommies Talk Webinar
The Mommies Network Presents ... Mommies Talk!
Mommies Talk is a monthly webinar series that engages, informs, and supports our members.

Get your kids to listen — the first time. No nagging or yelling required. October's webinar, presented in partnership with Positive Parenting Solutions, offers tools and strategies you can use right away. Discover how this webinar will be your answer to better behavior and parenting peace!

There are two dates to choose from: Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 2 p.m. EDT and Thursday, Oct. 13, at 9 p.m. EDT. To ensure that this webinar proceeds as scheduled, we need at least 120 participants. If you are interested in attending, please click here to sign up as soon as possible.

Email jennifer.zaranis@themommiesnetwork.org with any questions about the Mommies Talk webinar series.

Menu Monday French Muffins


French Muffins were always the first request on a Saturday morning when I was young. Especially if we had friends sleeping over. We would beg and plea for our Mom to make these. She really only made these muffins for sleep overs and special occasions. When she did make them, I can remember waking up to the smell of cinnamon filling the house.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 1/3 cup shortening


1/2 cup sugar and One Egg


Mix shortening, sugar, and egg.


1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 cup Milk


Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Alternating with milk.


Fill muffins cups 2/3 full. ( note to self: next time use muffin liners or remember to spray )
My mom always used muffin liners and would tell us that whoever found the muffin with two 
liners was the lucky one for the day!


Bake 20-25 minutes. Twenty Minutes was how long it took in my oven.


While the muffins are baking, mix 1/2 cup confectioner sugar and 1 tsp. of cinnamon in a bowl. 
Also melt 1/2 cup margarine in a bowl. 


Immediately after baking roll muffins in melted butter, then in cinnamon-sugar mixture. 

SERVE HOT!

You won't have any left over after your family and friends get their hands on these muffins.

Post submitted by Kathy (absolutelykathy) from CentralPiedmontMommies.
{Originally submitted to CentralPiedmontMommies Blog on 5/9/2011}
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