Medieval Anniversary Times

By: Christina Neil


My husband and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary this weekend, and for the first time in three years, we were able to leave children and work behind and just enjoy our time together.

Honestly, I felt guilty dropping my 3-year-old daughter off with her Aunt Ali before hopping on a plane for a much needed long weekend away. I didn’t feel too guilty for long though as we enjoyed a romantic weekend in Myrtle Beach, SC. It was a welcome reprieve from all of our winter weather. Of course, it was still too cold to go into the water but we enjoyed walking along the beach and waking up to beautiful sunrises outside our beachfront room.Medieval times

But strangely, the activity that reconnected us most wasn’t those moonlit beach walks or classy, romantic dinners; it was our visit to Medieval Times.

My husband saw that there was one nearby and had enjoyed it when he’d gone as a kid so he convinced me, a skeptic from the start, to go.

For those unfamiliar with Medieval Times, it is a combination of a dinner and jousting show. You get separated into teams to cheer for individual knights. You eat all of your food with your hands.

To me it sounded weird and childish–and it was. But it was also super fun! We got to yell and cheer; I was even thrown a flower by one of the knights. We also bought an axe for my husband’s man-cave. It sparked conversation and laughter for us. We got to forget that we were adults with responsibilities for a few hours and just be kids again. We got to be carefree and enjoy our marriage and each other.


Coloring Books Aren’t Just for Kids

By: Amy Koehlercoloring-


Get up, get the kids ready for school/daycare, go to work, pickup kids, make dinner, get kids ready for bed, pickup the house, fall asleep, repeat.

It’s a stressful cycle. I love my kids and want to spend time with them while I still can, but some days I don’t have any energy left.

Enter coloring books. One night while I was trying to keep the kids distracted while I was getting dinner into the oven, I sat them down with their coloring books and once everything was in the oven, I joined them.

coloringColoring the flowers, princesses and cars was easy; it was relaxing; and—best of all—my kids loved that I was doing it with them.

Now it’s something we do together on a regular basis and I’m starting to understand why they sell so many adult coloring books.

Quiet! Mom Has A Headache!

By: Kelly Samuels


I remember the first time I saw this commercial and how much the kids reminded me of my own.

I just wished that the medicine worked that quickly for me.

I am one of the 38 million Americans who suffer from migraines.

Migraines aren’t just quick and easily treated by a couple tylenol.

They are debilitating. Every sound, smell, step and shred of light is agonizing and nauseating. I have blind spots in my vision which makes walking, let alone driving, a dangerous task. The pain in my head feels like someone striking me with a hammer non-stop for hours sometimes days.

As I retreat to a quiet dark corner and lock myself away from my children, husband, and the rest of the world while I wait for it to pass, I am overwhelmed not just with the pain of my migraine but with guilt.

Guilt over losing another day with my kids. Guilt over leaving my husband to handle all of the household duties and care for the kids by himself. Guilt over missing my daughter’s dance recital or son’s baseball game. Guilt over the knowledge that my kids are trying to play more quietly and subdued so they don’t disturb me. Guilt over barely talking to my husband for days while I hide away. Guilt over something I have no control over but badly wish I did.

Even though I know that I have worked hard to prevent the migraines by changing my diet, taking vitamins and supplements that are rumored to help, exercising more, and taking prescription medication, I feel like a failure. Like I should have been able to prevent it somehow.

My doctor, husband, and even my children, as they get older and understand more, all tell me that it isn’t my fault. That there is nothing to be done but to hope that the Imitrex will work in keeping the headache away when I first feel it coming on. But that doesn’t lessen the guilt when I’m losing the battle to the migraine pain. Losing that precious time with my family.

I’m hopeful that one day doctors will understand more about these headaches and find a more permanent cure. But until then, I’ll treasure the good days that I get to spend pain-free with my family and hope that the guilt goes away when I miss the other days.

Care About Rare

By: Sue Anganes


February 29, 2008, a “rare day” because it was a leap year, was the first Rare Disease Day in Europe. For the first time patient groups from different countries representing a variety of diseases collaborated on a large-scale awareness-raising campaign in favor of rare diseases. The success of that day gave way to a yearly event on the last day of February with the aim of becoming a world awareness day. The 10th annual World RARE Disease Day will be held on Tuesday, February 28, 2017! On this day, various activities take place all over the United States as well as countless locations around the world.__starter-file

Rare Disease Day is something my family participates in because we are battling one of the 7,000 known rare diseases. My two youngest sons are affected by a very rare neurometabolic disease – a neurotransmitter disorder. There are only one in one million persons affected with this disease.  Often those with rare diseases wait many years for a diagnosis. In our case, it was ten years before we had any idea what was wrong. In 2013, my boys were accepted into the Undiagnosed Diseases Program at the Nation Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. The NIH is our government’s research hospital and employs the world’s top researchers in medicine. We spent one week at the NIH undergoing tests, and then returned a month later for a trial of medicine. Three and a half years later, we are still experimenting with various medications.

This last day in February, we will once again participate in Rare Disease Day. It will mostly be a day to think about where we started in our medical journey, where we are now, thankfulness that we live in the greatest country and have the best hospitals and researchers right here, and hopefulness in obtaining a treatment or cure sometime in the future.


To learn more about Rare Disease Day and find out how you can participate, visit the links below:

Arrow Valentine Cards

By: Susan Turk


My daughter has a Valentine’s Day party at school this year and it’s one of those where every child gives everyone else in the class a Valentine. It’s sweet and inclusive making sure that nobody’s feelings get hurt, but buying those cards can be difficult if you’ve waited until the last minute like me and the good ones at the corner drugstore are sold out and the snowstorm outside is keeping you from going anywhere else.

So this year we decided to make our cards out of stuff we already had and added bonus it gave us something to do while we were stuck inside with the snow.


You’ll Need:

– Scissors

– Colored paper

– Glue stick

– Laffy Taffy Rope (any kind of long candy will also work)


1. Fold paper in half and cut out a three large hearts. This will ensure that all of the hearts are about the same size and shape. (Don’t let young children use scissors)20170209_130016

2. Glue two of the hearts together with the top of a Laffy Taffy Rope between them. This will be the arrowhead.

3. Fold four hearts in half vertically. Glue two of the folded hearts together. Do the same with the remaining two hearts. Then glue the two pairs of feather hearts together with the bottom of the Laffy Taffy Rope in the middle. This will serve as the feathers.

4. Repeat as many times as necessary for the kids in the class and decorate as you want. (We just wrote names on ours)



Cheap and Easy Fettuccine Alfredo 

By: Amy Dienta


Fettuccine AlfredoINGREDIENTS

– 1 box of Fettuccine noodles 

– 1 tablespoon butter 

– 1 teaspooon flour 

– 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

– 1 cup fat free Milk 

– 2 tablespoons low fat cream cheese 

– 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 

– Salt and pepper 


1. Cook Fettuccine 

2. In a different pan set to low, add butter and melt it 

3. Add garlic and flour to the pan 

4. Mix with a wooden spoon for 1 min (be careful not to burn butter) 

5. Add milk and cream cheese to the pan and combine using a wisk

6. Cook until it just starts to boil 

7. Add in Parmesan cheese 

8. Toss pasta into sauce and eat! 

This is excellent with broccoli and cooked chicken, as well! 

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!