So Thankful

By: Sue Anganes



My parents



This year, I am thankful for still being able to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with my parents.



I am thankful for occasionally getting most of my kids together in one place at the same time.  Kids around the table




I’m thankful that my grandkids live right next door, and often scamper over to watch Netflix on my computer.



I’m thankful for my friend who, when told that “all I want is a Filet-O-Fish” brings me a year’s supply!   Filet-O-Fish



Sue and Alan



And, I’m thankful for a husband who is still my best friend after thirty-three years of marriage.








Share with us what you’re thankful for this year by using #sOCOMthankful

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

By: Emily Matthews


Happy Fall!

I love this time of year and the foods that come with it–pumpkin pies, apple cider, and of course my favorite Butternut Squash Soup. As much as I love Panera’s version, visiting them everyday just isn’t affordable or practical for me or our family so I found a great recipe I can make at home. My kids love this as soup as much as I do! 20171109_162502



1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can pumpkin
1 butternut squash, cubed
2 medium apples, cubed
3 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream


1. In a large soup pot, cook onion in coconut oil until onion is soft. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

2. Add pumpkin, squash,apple, broth, honey, and spices.

3. Bring to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer until the squash is tender.

4. Blend in batches until smooth.

5. Transfer back to the pot and stir in heavy cream. Heat through.


We’re Looking for New Bloggers!

Are you a mom, dad, foster parent, or step parent who feels like you have something to share with our community?


We’re holding a contest to recruit eight new bloggers for the Merrimack Valley Moms Blog! All parents in the Merrimack Valley area  of Massachusetts are invited to enter from November 1, 2017 to December 13, 2017. Each person selected will win $250 and will join our current moms as featured monthly bloggers on the Merrimack Valley Moms Blog!

The Merrimack Valley Moms has been active since 2010, with over 70,000 visitors checking out posts written by local moms.

To enter the blogging contest, make sure to become a subscriber to the blog (if you aren’t already!) and visit to write a short post about why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire parents in the Merrimack Valley. Let your personality come through–funny, witty, moving, engaging. If you’re persuasive, you could win some cash and have the opportunity to become a featured blogger.

Each featured blogger will write at least one post per month. The topics will vary greatly depending on the personalities of the bloggers and their daily experiences in the community–whether it is a review of a great parenting book or a family-friendly local restaurant, balancing work and home life, caring for an aging parent, kid-friendly recipes, or fun crafts to keep kids entertained.

We look forward to reading your entries!

Family-Friendly Halloween Events around the Merrimack Valley

Whether you like to dress up, craft, read, get scared, or just collect candy, this list will have something for you.

Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed any fun events!



Haunted Maze4pumpkins

Free Admission

Everyday 9am-6pm

242 Cambridge St , Winchester, MA 01890-2342 United States


Annual Pumpkin FestivalScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Free Admission

Enjoy corn mazes, hayrides, pumpkin picking and much more!

Each Weekend 10am-5pm

81 Jennie’s Way, Tewksbury, MA 01876




TBT Monster Bash: Grades 6-8Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.24 PM

Kids will watch the movie monster house and create their own monsters


Tewksbury Library Meeting Room-  300 Chandler St, Tewksbury, MA 01876


Paranormal Evening with MGHPSScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.20 PM

Learn what it takes to be a ghost hunter from Mass Ghost Hunters Paranormal Society.  Grades 6-12. Registration Preferred.


Tyngsborough Public Library Community Room, 25 Bryant Lane Tyngsborough, MA 01879


Breakfast with Halloween FriendsScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Full breakfast buffet with pancakes. Kids can take pictures with Halloween friends and those in costume can join the Halloween Parade. Call 978-692-8200 ext 520 to register.


Westford Regency Inn- 219 Littleton Rd, Westford, MA


Merrimack Valley Halloween Book FestivalScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.24 PM

Free Admission


North Haverhill Public Library Main- 99 Main St, Haverhill, MA 01830


Annual Pumpkin Painting at Griggs FarmScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM


599 Boston Rd, Billerica, Massachusetts 01821


The Delvena Theater Company Presents: Salem Witch HysteriaScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.20 PM

Let history come alive by watching and participating as jury members in dramatizations of true stories of the Salem Witch Trials. Register in Advance.


Dracut Library- 28 Arlington Street, Dracut, MA 01826


From the Pumpkin PatchScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Children ages newborn through 13 from low-income families are invited to pick out one free costume.

12pm-3pm (While supplies last)

UTEC- 35 Warren St, Lowell, MA 01852




Zombie Apocalypse Scavenger HuntScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.20 PM

Teens ages 12-17 can dress as zombies and solve riddles in a scavenger hunt for food, water, and safety. Register in Advance


Dracut Library- 28 Arlington Street, Dracut, MA 01826




Annual Unscary Halloween CelebrationScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

All children and adults welcome. Celebrate Halloween with stories, songs, costumes and more.


Pollard Memorial Library Meeting Room, 401 Merrimack Street Lowell, MA 01852


Puppets, magic, and humor help children ages 3-12 can learn how to stay safe while trick-or-treating. Registration Required.
Billerica Library Meeting Room, 15 Concord Rd Billerica, MA 01821


Come in costume so that after the stories, you can fo trick-or-treating in the Library and Town Hall.
Tyngsborough Public Library Storytime Room, 25 Bryant Lane Tyngsborough, MA 01879
Children grades 4-12 can compete individually or in teams to see who can make the most amazing Halloween themed cupcake. Cupcake and decorating materials provided.
Chelmsford Public Library McCarthy Meeting Room, 25 Boston Rd Chelmsford, MA 01824


Halloween Theme Public SkateScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Wear costumes and skate. Chance to win raffles, prizes and giveaways. $5 admission, $5 rental skates


Chelmsford Forum- 2 Brick Kiln Rd, North Billerica, MA 01862




Drop in Craft- Halloween Door Knob HangerScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM


Dracut Library Children’s Room- 28 Arlington Street, Dracut, MA 01826


Halloween Bingo & Craft for KidsScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Children ages 4-10 can come for bingo or crafts or both!

11am-11:30 – Bingo

11:30am-12pm – Craft

Tyngsborough Public Library Community Room, 25 Bryant Lane Tyngsborough, MA 01879


Trunk or TreatScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM


5 Littleton Rd, Ayer, Massachusetts 01432


Monster Bash and Halloween StrollScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.24 PM


Downtown Lowell and Lowell High School


Halloween Family Movie & Pumpkin DecoratingScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Children and families of grades K-4th watch a Halloween movie in costume. and kids K-4 will be able ot decorate mini pumpkins. Sign-up fro pumpkin decorating required


Pollard Memorial Library, 401 Merrimack Street Lowell, MA 01852


Halloween Parade and Party at the North Town HallScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Wear costumes and meet at the North Chelmsford Fire Station to participate in the costume parade. Party will be held at the Chelmsford Community Center after the parade. $3/person with a $10 family cap donation suggested.


31 Princeton St, North Chelmsford, MA 01863


7th Annual Halloween Bash in the DellScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

$5 entry fee


SpringDell Farm- 571 Great Rd, Littleton, MA 01460


Spooky Story Contest CelebrationScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.24 PM


Chelmsford Public Library McCarthy Meeting Room, 25 Boston Rd Chelmsford, MA 01824


Great Pumpkin WalkScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Bring carved pumpkins for chances to win prizes!


25 Bryants Lane, 120 Westford Rd, Tyngsboro, MA 01879




19th Annual Safe HalloweenScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM


Tewksbury Memorial High School, 320 Pleasant Street, Tewksbury, MA 01876


Roudenbush Annual Westford Halloween ParadeScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Parade starts at 1pm at Frost

Westford, MA


Halloween Theme Public SkateScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Wear costumes and skate. Chance to win raffles, prizes and giveaways. $5 admission, $5 rental skates


Chelmsford Forum- 2 Brick Kiln Rd, North Billerica, MA 01862


Trunk or Treat Chili Cook-offScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

To enter chili into the contest, contact the church office


United Methodist Church of Westford- 10 Church Street, Westford, MA 01886




Pumpkin Chunkin’ CatapultsScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.24 PM

Grades 5-12 will build a catapult using ordinary objects to launch a candy corn pumpkin Registration Required.


Billerica Library Meeting Room, 15 Concord Rd Billerica, MA 01821


Halloween PartyScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

A not-so-scarey Halloween Party for children age 2 to grade 3. Advance Registration Required.


Dracut Library Meeting Room- 28 Arlington Street, Dracut, MA 01826




Trick or Treat at the LibraryScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM

Children in costume can visit the Tewksbury Library to receive treats from all 4 service desks anytime between 10a and 9pm.

*For ages 3-6 there is a Halloween story time from 11-11:30am

* For grades 6-12 there is a Halloween Fest open from 3-8pm

Tewksbury Library- 300 Chandler St, Tewksbury, MA 01876


Halloween Drop-In CraftScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.30 PM


Pollard Memorial Library, 401 Merrimack Street Lowell, MA 01852


Westford Farmers Market – Halloween Dance JamScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.31.24 PM


Westford Town Common- 10 Lincoln St, Westford, MA 01886







= 1-4. Events with more pumpkins could be too scary or intense for younger children



Babysitting–Is Your Child Ready or Not?

By: Erica Williams

Girl babysitting

A few months ago, my twelve-year-old daughter came to me and said she wanted to start babysitting. It seems her best friend had started and was making shopping money and she wanted some of that for herself.

I remember starting to babysit when I was about her age but it was terrifying to think that my baby would be on her own watching another baby. How did I prepare her?

I started looking into different options and found the Babysitting Basics Class at Lowell General Hospital.

I’m so glad she went! She met with kids around her age to learn things that I only wished I known at her age, including CPR!

I highly recommend that any parent that has a daughter or son that is wanting to start babysitting take the course at Lowell General. They will learn a lot and get tips on safety and child care. It will give them confidence going into their first job and you peace of mind knowing they have the tools to succeed.

My daughter has been babysitting using the skills she learned in her class and loving it and the money she’s been making for those weekend shopping trips with her friends.


You can find out more info on the Babysitting Basics Class at

Making It Through Maria

By: Jenn Rivera



                     Before the hurricane

Months ago, my family planned a reunion for September in Puerto Rico. Due to scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t going to be able to attend, but my schedule cleared at the last minute. It had been awhile since I had seen my extended family, so even though my kids and husband couldn’t go due to work and school, I hopped on a plane with my brothers and mom and met my aunt, uncles, cousins, and their families in Puerto Rico.

When we landed on September 18th, our goal was to check on our elderly grandparents, to make sure everything was back in order after Hurricane Irma and to get all their supplies restocked for Hurricane Maria. We and the locals expected Maria to pass and be back to our normally scheduled lives and vacations fairly quickly.

We were wrong.

Hurricane Maria hit the island head on. We immediately lost our power in the rental house we were staying at, and with it went our running water. We fought as a family to keep our place from flooding and the wind from breaking down our doors. We listened in horror as the wind battered our house and broke the skylights. We thought that getting through the storm safely, was the accomplishment but when the skies finally cleared and the wind finally stopped, we opened our doors to a whole new Puerto Rico. The once lush and tropical island had been stripped bare of trees and leaves, houses were destroyed, and the power was out.

I couldn’t even get through to my husband or children on my phone because the cell towers had been knocked out. Luckily, one of the cousins had a little reception if you stood in the right place in the house so we all made our “we’re okay” calls on his phone and heard the terrible news:

There was not one area of the island that wasn’t affected.

We were trapped with nowhere better to go in a house with no power, no running water, a door that no longer locked thanks to the storm, and 11 terrified people. We were quickly running through the meager “hurricane” provisions we had bought prior to the storm. They consisted of some chips, crackers, granola bars and other snack foods.

We called our airlines to find out how this would affect our return flights and were told that we wouldn’t be leaving the island until October 3rd.

October 3rd? With no money, no water, no power, without my babies? That was not happening. I think that was the moment I truly started panicking.


            After post-hurricane “cleanup”

We made it through the next fews days on the grace of God and the kindness of strangers. Just when we started running out of food and water, the restaurant under us came back to find that had damage that would prevent them from opening for a very, very long time, so they gave us a couple cases of water and some bread and other non-refrigerated perishables and left. Just as we were running out of money, we discovered one working atm and were able to get the money necessary to purchase from the cash only businesses that had been able to open up thanks to generators. When it was time for our rental to be over, the person who’s place it was told us we could stay as long as needed rent free, he just wanted to make sure we had a safe place to stay.

We had enough gas left in our cars to visit my grandparents, make sure they were as okay as anyone without power or running water could be. We were able to repair a couple of the more minor damages to their home and due to our finding cash, were able to purchase them supplies since they refused to return to the states with us. When we returned to our house that night, we knew that the last time we’d be able to drive our rental car was to return it and that might be pressing our luck, because we were so low on gas and there was none on the island.

We decided it was time to head to the airport and see what would happen, we’d already missed our initial return flight date and things didn’t sound like they’d be getting any better.

When we got to the airport we said goodbye to our cousins, aunts, and uncle, and we all headed our separate ways since they were flying out on a different airline than us; all of us wishing the others luck, but knowing that in all likelihood none of us would make it out that day.

We were right, we didn’t make it out of the airport and home for another 4 days. We were hot, tired, dirty, and thirsty, but when we boarded that air-conditioned flight out of San Juan, I don’t ever remember feeling so grateful. I was feeling cool air for the first time in over a week and I was on my way home to see my babies.

Our family was lucky to get out and to have faired so well compared to others on the island. My heart goes out to those still in Puerto Rico, those with homes destroyed, my family that lives there, and the people who were with us in the airport who didn’t make it out when we did.

Easy Vegetable Soup

By: Justina Scharf


As a single mom of two kids, I need all the help I can. That’s why I love my crockpot. I can start it in the morning, drop the kids off at daycare and school, head to work and when we get home, it’s ready for dinner.

This is by far one of my favorite recipes because my kids like it and I can keep the ingredients on hand at all times.



– Beef roast, cubed

– 2 cans green beans

– 2 cans corn

– 2 cans carrots

– 2 cans diced tomatoes

– cubed potatoes or 1 can kidney beans*

– brown gravy powder

– 2 beef bouillon cubes

– 1 cup of water

– spices to taste: black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano



1. Combine all ingredients in a crockpot.

2. Cook on low for at least 6 hours.


That’s it: two steps before you’re enjoying a delicious dinner that the kids will love. It couldn’t be more easy!


* I use whichever I have on hand, but don’t use both otherwise it can get a bit too starchy

Home Again On My Own

By: Emily Matthews


I’ve been stressed. I’ll admit it, and so will my kids and husband. So when my husband offered to take the kids for a Daddy Day and told me it was time to have a Mom’s Night Out, I didn’t have any problem saying yes.

Usually, when he takes the kids to give me a night out, I’ll call up some of my girlfriends and we’ll go out to eat and catch up. This time was different. I was in no mood for anyone. I just wanted to be on my own. But I also really wanted to see the new chick flick, Home Again with Reese Witherspoon. So I did something I’d never done before…

I went on my own.

It was liberating. No kids wanting to go to the bathroom or telling me they were bored. No husband discreetly trying to check the scores on his phone or rolling his eyes at the love story. It was just me, Reese, and the handful of other ladies in the theater who seemed to be doing the same as me.

I really enjoyed the movie, but I have no idea how much of that was the storyline and how much of that was the freedom of being able to enjoy it on my own.

All I know is that I can guarantee that I’ll be making more just me trips; it was just what this mommy needed.