Let Children Leave Their Comfort Zones


By: Amy Dienta

IMG_9606Trying to get kid to do things out of their comfort zone and still make them comfortable doing it is such a hard task. Sometimes you have to let the child lead.

My son Omar has autism; and over Christmas, he wanted to see Santa, but he couldn’t do it. He chickened out each time. 

On Christmas Eve, he woke me up at 5am saying he had to see Santa. He had to do it. So we got to the mall as soon as it opened. As we walked toward Santa, he kept asking me to pick him up. 

We were on the second floor of the mall and he could see Santa interact with kids. He watched this for 30 minutes and then determined we could continue on. 

As we got closer, he told me, “Mommy, I’m just going to watch the other kids, I’m scared.”


Finally, he decided we could wait in line. Finally, he saw Santa! 

So to all parents out there, have patience with your children and they will figure out some things on their own. He needed time to stop and watch and watch closer. But he did it! He saw Santa! 

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken

By: Amy Koehler


I made a resolution to have more healthy home-cooked meals this year. I’m not even a full week into the New Year and I already remember why we didn’t have them much before. Between taking care of Jenny (3) and Nate (5) and working full time, it’s a daunting task to also have dinner on the table.

Thank goodness for my slow cooker! It lets me fix it and forget it until it’s time to eat.


Here is one of my favorite weekday slow cooker recipes:


Spicy Chicken and Quinoa

(spicy is really a misnomer here because I tone mine down so much for the kids)


– 2¼ cups water

– 1 cup quinoa

– 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese

– 2 bell peppers, cut into bite sized pieces

– 2-4 chicken breasts (cut in half if they’re big)

– 1 jar (16 oz) salsa, heat level of choice (I use mild for the kids)

– 1/2 cup jalapeños (optional)

– 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed



1. Pour water into a slow cooker. Add quinoa.

2. Add cream cheese, bell peppers, jalapeños and chicken breasts to the slow cooker. Pour the jar of salsa over the chicken.

3. Set the slow cooker to low and let cook on low for 6 hours.

4. Add the can of black beans and let it continue to cook on low for another 2 hours.

5. Serve and enjoy!

My Grown Up Christmas Wish List

By: Sue Anganes


unnamed-copyThis year, Christmas feels a little different to me. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, or maybe it’s just life’s circumstances, but it somehow feels different.

When asked what I would like for Christmas, I couldn’t think of one thing to put on a list. Not one. I feel as if I have everything that money could buy. My joy is in what I already have, my husband, children, and my grandchildren. The things I wish for cannot be purchased from a store or on Amazon. So much in the world is spinning around us and out of our control. It often is very upsetting to me.


If I could add things to my wish list, these are the things I would ask for this year: the division in our country reconciled, a cure or treatment for my two youngest sons’ neurotransmitter disease, comfort for my friends who have lost loved ones this year, peace in this broken world, refuge for the refugees, and love to prevail above all other things.

Some of these things can start right within my own family. I will be striving this Christmas, and throughout the New Year, to have love prevailing in my home and with my friends and family. Hopefully, that will make a positive difference in my little space in this world.

I wish all the readers a very Merry Christmas and Hanukkah. Peace and Blessings be on your families.

Donating Your Hair for a Good Cause

By: Justina Scharf 


My hair grows very quickly so every few years I try to donate it.

I usually try to donate to Wigs for Kids but this year I was about an inch shy of their 12 inch requirement so I decided to look into who else I could donate my hair to. I ended up donating my hair to Children With Hair Loss, but their are so many great place to choose from.

Hopefully, this list helps you if you end up deciding to donate your hair to those in need.


1. Wigs for Kids

Wigs for Kids — Hair Donations
24231 Center Ridge Road
Westlake, Ohio 44145

– Minimum of 12 inches.

– Hair cannot be permed, color-treated, or highlighted. Temporary coloring or highlights that washout are acceptable, but must be completely washed out before cutting.

2. Children with Hair Loss

12776 Dixie Hwy
South Rockwood, MI 48179

– Minimum of 8 inches. (Longer is Preferred)

– Non-chemically treated hair is preferred (but any hair in good condition will be accepted).

– Will take chemically treated hair in good condition.

– Gray hair is accepted.

3. Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Attn: 192-123
806 SE 18th Ave.
Grand Rapids, MN 55744

– Minimum of 8 inches.

– No dyes, bleaches or chemicals.

– No more than 5% gray

4. Locks of Love

234 Southern Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL 33405

– Minimum of 10 inches.

– Hair that is colored or permed is acceptable.

– Hair that has been bleached (usually this refers to highlighted hair) is not usable. **If the hair was bleached years ago and has completely grown out it is fine to donate.

– Gray hair is accepted and sold to offset manufacturing costs.

– Dreadlocks, wigs, falls, hair extensions and synthetic hair are unusable.

– Hair cut years ago is usable if it has been stored in a ponytail or braid.


Donation Tips:

– Your hair must be clean and dry. (Wet or damp hair can mold during shipping)

– Pull curly or wavy hair straight to get an accurate length.

– Layered hair is usually okay as long as the shortest length meets the minimum length requirement.

– Cut hair using an elastic band. Make sure to cut above the elastic. Leave it in a ponytail or braid.

– Place hair in a ziplock bag and send in a a padded envelope. ( I usually also wrap my hair in a layer of tissue paper to keep it all together during shipping and delivery)

Have you found any other great places to donate your hair to?



A Thankful Thanksgiving

By: Sue Anganes


Nothing ever stays the same. We often strive for tradition during the holiday season, but usually life does not allow us to do things the same way every year; kids grow older, new babies join the fold, marriage expands the family, and loved ones are lost. My secret to enjoying the holidays without stress is to be thankful for the people and loved ones around me. I try to focus on the things that truly matter—people and relationships—and try not to let the little details of the holidays become overwhelming.

This year, members of my extended family are moving to Europe for a couple of years due to a job assignment. My family will be joining their family for our Thanksgiving feast. We haven’t celebrated with them in the past, but this year our celebration will be all the more special, but also bittersweet. We will have one last large family gathering before we lose them for a couple of years. We will all be bringing our favorite dishes and desserts to share, and hopefully be relieving some of the cooking burden for our hostess. 

Because I won’t be hosting and making the turkey at my house this year, I’m buying and saving a big bird in my freezer to cook some time mid-December when we will have another mini Thanksgiving feast at home. No one can ever have enough turkey leftovers! 

Growing up with Juvenile Diabetes

By: Steven Matthews


I was 11 when I was first diagnosed with diabetes. I would later find out that Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1) affects nearly 1.25 million Americans, but at the time all I knew was that it had affected me and my family.infographic-type-1-diabetes

Diabetes doesn’t run in my family so when I started losing weight suddenly, was constantly thirsty and was always tired and lethargic, my parents took me to the hospital not knowing what to expect.

What doctors found was that my blood sugar was close to 600. I spent a week in the hospital as they worked to get my blood sugar regulated and teach me and my family how to handle my new life with diabetes.

My whole life seemed to change overnight.

Between nutritionists, endocrinologists, technicians and all the others, I spent the next few months surrounded by doctors almost constantly. I was giving myself insulin injections about 6 times a day and checking my blood sugar 8-10 times a day and had to call my doctor with numbers every week.

I had to make sure that I was staying active, but doing so without causing my blood sugar levels to spike or dip too much. Hours of gaming with my friends became a thing of the past.

My parents had to work with my school in order to make sure that I could take my insulin at certain times and was eating the right kind of foods in the cafeteria. When I say the right kind of foods I mean nothing to sugary, not too many carbs and NO more orange juice. I remember that being the worst part for me , because I loved orange juice.

And I was carrying my insulin and test strips everywhere I went in my ninja turtles lunch box.

Go to school. Ninja turtles lunch box.

Go to dinner. Ninja turtles lunch box.

Go to the beach. Ninja turtles lunch box.

Everywhere I went I had to pack that thing with me and hope that I didn’t lose it somewhere, which at that age is always a concern.

But I got used to it. Healthy food choices became normal, getting the right amount of exercise was second nature, and that lunch box was a permanent fixture in my life.

Now that I’m older I have an insulin pump which gives me more freedom from the multiple injections and means I only carry a blood sugar testing kit with me now. Most people don’t even know I am diabetic anymore they just think I make healthy food choices and exercise because it’s good for me… which is true, it’s just not the only reason.


Even though I think my diabetes has made me make better life decisions than I would have made otherwise, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t make it easy or mean that I don’t worry that my kids might get it. The day my first son was born I looked at him and thought what if…

We’ve been incredibly blessed so far that none of our three children has developed juvenile diabetes, but I constantly find myself monitoring their behaviors, looking for any symptoms in them. But if one of our kids develops it at least I’ll know more than my parents did and we’ll get through it together as a family.


Learn more about Juvenile Diabetes at http://www.jdrf.org/



Helping Children Through Pet Loss

By: Elaine Bearden


ZoeyRecently, we lost our pet yorkie, Zoey. Zoey was a huge part of our family for 14 years and her absence has left a huge hole in our hearts. My husband and I called her our second child and treated her as such, especially after our daughter left for college. She helped fill our empty nest with her kisses and cuddles and her never ending curiosity and love.

Breaking the news to my daughter, who is now married and lives out of state, was difficult for me because I had to accept the reality of my fur baby being gone. Having buried our fair share of hamsters, goldfish and other pets while she was growing up, I hadn’t fully expected my daughter to take it so hard.

Though she knew it was coming since Zoey was 16 and had been having health issues, it was still a shock for her to know that our little dog who she had spent so many years with would not be there to greet her when she came to visit us anymore.

Kids have different views of life with a pet. They’ve spent formative years having that pet within their daily lives and their grief no matter the age is understandable and valid.


Tips to Help Your Child Through the Death of a Pet

Share your Grief.  Let your child see the hurt you might be feeling over the loss of the pet. If you aren’t grieving the loss, respect their feelings, without making them feel ashamed, guilty, or minimizing the loss that they feel.

Reassure them. A pet’s death can raise a lot of questions and fears, especially in younger children. They may ask you about where the pet goes when it dies, whether they will die, whether you will die, and whether they were responsible for the pet’s death. Think about the answers to these questions before talking to them. I remember when my daughter was young and had accidentally killed one of her pet hamsters and we had to explain to her what happened. It was hard for her to hear but she was more careful with her future pets.

Give them closure. If it’s possible, give your child time to say goodbye to their pet before the pet dies. Or have a memorial or funeral service after so they can say goodbye in their own way.

Remember the good times.  Talk about the good memories each of you has with the pet. It will help your child replace thoughts of the tragedy with thoughts of happiness. My daughter’s husband texted me the other day and let me know that she had come across a toy that she had already bought to give Zoey for Christmas and it had caused her to break down, so I texted her a story about Zoey’s first day with us that my daughter had forgotten. It was just the thing she needed to pull her from her sadness into laughter.

Don’t feel the need to replace the pet right away. It’s okay to wait. Don’t let the empty place your pet left make you feel like you have to fill that void. Depending on the age of your children, they might beg you to get a new pet immediately. Only you can gauge whether you and they are truly ready for a new pet. If you or another of your children aren’t ready, talk to the child who is wanting a new pet right away about the need to let hearts heal and honoring the pet’s memory.

Priceless MOMents and Milestones

By: Danielle McFadden


I can’t believe that Landry is 7 months old. It feels like yesterday that I had him; yet, it seems like he’s always been a part of our family.

pricelessOur little ones grow at an amazing pace. In just half a year, Landry has learned to eat, roll, sit and begin to try to talk. He’s as proud of himself as we are of him. There’s nothing like the expression on a baby’s face when they experience something for the first time. I was looking through my camera roll and came across this picture of Landry pulling himself up into a sitting position. I think it perfectly sums up how priceless these little milestones are.


What priceless moments and milestones have you experienced this month?

*Share them in the comments and on Twitter using #PricelessMOMents