Hi everybody! My name is Sarah, but I typically answer to “Saaaaaa,” “Mom,” or “MAMAAAAA.” Like most moms, I am a lot of things: mother, wife, maid, chauffeur, appointment maker, checkbook balancer, dishwasher emptier, food shopper, laundry putter-away-er, butt wiper, and meal microwaver to name a few. (Yes, you read that correctly. I’m an expert “microwaver.” Cook, not so much.)
I’ve lived in Dracut all my life and have 2 sons, Joey who’s 5 and Jimmy who’s almost 4. Joey was born with a congenital heart defect, called Tetralogy of Fallot, and at 3 months old became internet famous, known as the “Ridiculously Good-Looking Surgery Baby.” (Seriously, google it!) His heart has been fixed, and he’s presently very healthy. Now he’s just known to us as “Ridiculously Talkative.” You would think that Jimmy would never be able to get a word in, but nope. Jimmy is always able to make himself heard, as he is the one who is “Ridiculously Loud.” And energetic. And strong. And animalistic at times. Both kids are really great though, at least sometimes. I mean, it’s usually never at the same time, but hey, I’ll take it.
My husband Joe is great too! Great at breaking things, great at losing things, and great at forgetting things! His adventurous and accident-prone nature always provides us with an abundant supply of hilarious family stories to tell. In all seriousness though, as a firefighter, paramedic, and police officer, Joe is extremely hardworking and always knows what to do in every situation. This is very helpful, and it compliments my cluelessness and indecisive personality quite well. He is also the best cook that I have ever met, and that compliments my eating habits wonderfully.
When my head isn’t spinning from all of the above, I enjoy sitting around and doing absolutely nothing. I’m also fond of cocktails, food (I know I already mentioned that, but really, that’s how much I like it), and good adult conversation. In the warmer weather I love swimming, boating, and hiking with animals, as long as the animals are the 3 human creatures discussed above. Occasionally you might even see me running, which is actually more of an awkward jog accompanied by heavy panting and coughing. Someday, maybe when my kids are adults, there’s a chance that I’ll even have time to read a book again. In the meantime, I’ll just keep writing to let out the insanity that is my life. Thanks for reading!
My name is Allison, but I usually go by Allie. I am a mom to 3 mostly wonderful children. I have a 12 year old, Anthony, almost 2 year old, Dougie, and an almost 1 year old Maddie. I would absolutely not be able to handle all that chaos without my amazing husband, John. I am an elementary special education teacher. I love being able to be home with my kids during vacations and the summer.
I love, no, I would say I have a healthy obsession with anything Disney. I love traveling there and my entire house is full of knick knacks and snow globes. One time my son’s friend even asked me if I knew I had Mickey on my utensils. When the TV is on in my house, it’s usually Lion Guard, which is my 2-year olds current obsession–so much so that he is able to repeat some of the phrases or songs.
In my spare time, I enjoy being outside. I practically live outside in the summer, mostly because my yard is fenced in and my kids can’t escape. I love having people over to my pool and just throwing burgers and dogs on the grill. I’m Italian, so there is always way more food and snacks than I need. Spending time with family is extremely important to me. All of my immediate family lives within 12 minutes of us, and it is a blessing to have everyone so close.
I look forward to getting to know everyone through this blog! I can’t wait to share stories and ideas!
Hi, OCoM readers!
My name is Cassie! I’ve been a wife to Mark for eleven years, an RN in Lowell General’s critical care division for ten, and a mom for almost nine years to Amelia, Elias, and Ari. I am currently homeschooling Amelia and Elias in 3rd and 1st grade and chasing around Ari–who is easily more work in one day than my other two are, combined, in a whole week. When people ask what I do for work, I often say I’m a nurse; but the truth is that I’m mostly a mom these days. I’m really thankful to be in a profession that’s super versatile and lets me flex my schedule a bit; I work third shift a night or two a week at the hospital and very thoroughly enjoy stretching my brain there beyond its usual work of chatting about Legos, Harry Potter, and Lemony Snicket. I love my kids; but as someone who is a little more practical and analytical than creative, it helps me a lot to have time to work in nursing and use that side of my skills and give my creative momming side a break–even if it’s only for a few hours a week.
Outside of school and work, Mark and I take the kids along to all the things we have always enjoyed doing ourselves, even before we had kids. We love to spend time with our church family; take day-long road trips; stroll the beautiful Merrimack River walkways; watch our tortoise eat his lettuce; and most of all, we love to go “Adventuring,” which is a fancy way of saying, “Eating our way through a city while we walk off the calories.” Mark is a project manager by trade, an artist by degree, and a lover of history at heart, so our kids get to experience lots of museums, walking history tours, and gallery viewings; they just checked off their third art opening visit of 2018 a couple weeks ago. I like to think that this makes us all sound very cultured, but we also enjoy lots of sloppy burgers, thrifting, and laughing hard at Spongebob if we catch an episode. It’s all about balance!
I’m excited to start blogging here and sharing a little bit of life with you all. I’ve always loved writing as a creative outlet, but family and work have put that aside for a bit as I’ve gotten established in both of those two (very important!) things. Time to flex the writing brain again!
Cyndy Muchine was born and raised in Kenya. She is a published poet with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Liberty University, VA. She works as a Business Analyst and serves as a Board of Trustee in her neighborhood. She is married with two children. She is the CEO and Founder of Kenya Autism Alliance, a Facebook support group for parents of children with Autism.
By: Sue Anganes
Rare Disease Day takes place on the last day of February each year. The first Rare Disease Day was celebrated in 2008, on February 29, a “rare” date that happens only once every four years. Ever since then, Rare Disease Day has taken place on the last day of February–a month known for having a “rare” number of days. The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness among the general public and lawmakers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.
Building awareness of rare diseases is so important because 1 in 20 people will live with a rare disease at some point in their lives. Despite this, there is no cure for the majority of rare diseases and many go undiagnosed.
Walking to the Clinical Center at the NIH 2013
Once again, I am writing about Rare Disease. For the past nineteen years, my family has been affected by a rare disease. We were told the disease occurs once in every 1,500,000 people. For the first fourteen years of our journey, we were searching for a diagnosis for our two youngest sons to a very perplexing neurological disorder. We saw over fifteen specialists in various Boston hospitals without ever getting a definitive diagnosis. In 2013, we were accepted into the Undiagnosed Diseases Program at our nation’s only federally funded research hospital, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. After a week on intensive testing, we were sent home to wait for possible answers. One month later we received a call from the NIH with a possible answer. We flew back for another week to trial a medication. Although there were no immediate improvements with the medication, the boys have now been on it for over four years with some positive results.
As with many who have rare diseases, there are often no cures, and most of the time no treatments. We were fortunate that the doctors at the NIH were researchers and were willing to try things that other doctors may not have tried. For a whole year, we fought to obtain another medication that might possibly help the boys. We had to fight for approval through the drug manufacturer for a medication that wasn’t FDA approved for their condition. We also had to fight with our insurance company; because the medication was considered an Orphan Drug and we were not using it for its intended usage, our insurance wouldn’t pay for it. We were basically using it experimentally for the boys. After a year of petitioning and negotiating, we gained approval for use of the medication.
Having a Rare Disease connects you to a world that most people don’t navigate through; genetic testing, experimental medications, physical therapy, wheelchairs, and numerous specialists become a part of your everyday life. I’m thankful for a day to recognize the battle that those with a Rare Disease face, for those who work legislating laws to help those with Rare Disease to obtain the care and medications that keep them alive, and for those researchers in the field who dedicate their lives for treatments and cures for Rare Diseases.
Hop on over to Showcase Cinema de Lux this weekend to meet the bunny of the hour himself, Peter Rabbit! Peter will be visiting Showcase to meet fans and take photos in the lobby.
There will also be lots of free family activities including face painting, balloon twisting, airbrush tattoos, caricature art and crafts. This event is free and open to the public – no movie ticket required! Don’t forget your camera!
For information about Showcase Cinema de Lux or to view showtimes and reserve tickets, please visit showcasecinemas.com.
As a woman who has dealt with bipolar disorder (manic-depression) for many years, I have experienced a variety of responses to and misconceptions about the disease.
Here are 6 of the many things that I wish people understood about bipolar:
1. I feel like I have to hide who I am and what goes on with me if I am struggling. I feel like I have to wear a mask. That makes other people feel better/comfortable, but it is taking everything within me to put on the act. If I show people what is really going on it would scare most people away…even those closest to you sometimes.
2. Bipolar is a disease, just as diabetes is. It’s treatable with medicine; but, just like diabetes, there are many different factors that can cause an unbalance. It may mean needing a tweek in medicine or trying new medicine, but there are times when none of that works and you just have to deal with it the best you can.
3. Bipolar does not mean you’re crazy. It also doesn’t mean that you have paranoia, schizophrenia, or any other mental illness. Sometimes, those diagnosed with bipolar also have other mental illnesses; but saying that they are all the same or that one always goes with the other is like saying that diabetes is the same as pancreatitis or that those with diabetes are always overweight.
4. You cannot fix me. No matter how much you try to make me laugh or whatever please understand it is a chemical imbalance. The best thing you can do for me is show me you love me, extra hugs, a text saying you are thinking about me etc. The worst thing you can do is put pressure on me to not be depressed anymore. Depression is not just something you can just snap out of.
5. Sometimes we don’t recognize that we’re in the Mania phase. If you’re close to someone and see the signs of mania help them to stay grounded. Irrational thinking/behavior goes with Mania and it’s called irrational for a reason. Many times we think we can do things that aren’t possible, including thinking “I feel great/better, so I don’t need my medicine anymore!” I need to be gently steered in a different direction.
6. Many times we think the Mania side is great because we get a lot done and we tend to be the life of the party. However, it is hard to concentrate and stay on any one subject for more than 2 seconds. Not to mention the down is coming; and when it does, it comes hard–which can be exhausting not only to the person going through it but to those around them.
The results are in! After reviewing all of our amazing contest entries and much deliberation, we are excited to announce the moms that will join our team as featured bloggers on the Merrimack Valley Moms Blog.
Please welcome Juli Couture, Cyndy Muchine, Jillian Shillaber, Jenna Mahoney-Pierce, Cassie Van Der Hyde, Sarah Powling, Allie Stilian!
We can’t wait for our readers to get to know all of our new bloggers.
Each mom will write one post per month, beginning in April. The topics will vary greatly, depending on the personalities of the bloggers and their range of daily experiences in the community. Please be sure to stay tuned and to learn more about our new Merrimack Valley Moms bloggers in the coming weeks! Congratulations to our new bloggers and thank you to everyone who entered!