Extending New Blogger Contest

We’re extending our search for new bloggers through December 31st!

OCOM checklistHave you been wondering if you have what it takes to be a blogger for Our Circle of Moms? 

 

Do you live in the Merrimack Valley?

Do you care for children? Are you a mom or dad? Are you a foster, adoptive, or step parent that has chosen to be a special part of a child’s life? Have your children grown up and left the nest? If you care for children or have cared for children, then you have what it takes!

Worried about what to write about each month? Many of our bloggers share anything from funny stories about their kids, reconnecting with family, recipes and crafts, to struggles with diabetes and autism. We’ve included links to examples below:

Enjoy All the Tired, Messy, Blessed Moments

Pokemon Go Means Family Go Out Together

Handprint Tote Made for Mom

A Cool Summer Snack – Tzatziki

The Uncertainty of Autism

Growing up with Juvenile Diabetes

 

So if you checked those boxes and also want to be a part of a great parenting community plus want the chance to win $250 (and who doesn’t?), then visit http://bit.ly/OCOMcontest and tell us about yourself!


Our Tree Tradition

By: Sue Anganes

 

During the very early years of our marriage, money was often tight. It was always especially tight around Christmas. One year, we bought the smallest of gifts for our older kids and wrapped a couple of “bottom of the toy box“ toys for our youngest boys to open on Christmas morning. They had no idea that the toys were ones that we already had! That particular year it didn’t look like we would be buying a Christmas tree, but on Christmas Eve my husband came home with a $15 bargain tree. It was the only Christmas gift from my husband to me. It was very special because it was my heart‘s desire. I think that it was probably the one gift I remember most some twenty-five years later.

Picking a Christmas tree has now become a family tradition and a big event. It’s even become more exciting than when the kids were little. For the past five years or so we’ve all headed together to Rollie’s Christmas Tree Farm in Lowell, MA, and picked out fresh trees.

Our Family

 We took a group picture this year. One of my daughters wasn’t able to join us because she had to study (she’s too studious!), and I wasn’t in the picture because I was the one who took it!

 

Tractor Ride copy

Rollie’s has a tractor and trailer that we all pile into (it takes two tractors to bring us all) and we ride to the top of the hill to pick out trees.

 

Our oldest three kids are married so they pick trees for their homes; and my husband and I and our kids who still live at home, pick out one for our house.

My granddaughter

 My granddaughter Amelia found a tree that she wanted.

 

The friendly Rollie’s Farm guys cut the trees that are picked, and we pile them back into the tractors and head back down the hill to pay. This year my sons with pickup trucks delivered our trees to the appropriate homes and then everyone converged on our house like a flash mob and we all had hot tea and cocoa.

 

If you asked my kids “What’s the one rule that everyone has to follow when decorating the tree?” they would  respond that mom always says, “I do the lights!” I love arranging the lights on the tree! That’s my job and no one takes it! Everyone else can decorate the tree otherwise, but “I do the lights!”

 

One year when our youngest two boys were about four and six, I came home from the supermarket with a little potted tabletop rosemary bush shaped like a tiny Christmas tree. I jokingly told the boys that it was our Christmas tree this year. They both started crying (which makes me chuckle now), but they were so disappointed! I reassured them that it wouldn’t be our Christmas tree! Picking out a real tree was something important to them even at that age.

IMy Little Tree

This year I found another little rosemary Christmas tree. It’s too late to trick my grandchildren with it!

 

There’s something about our Christmas tree that is so special to me. I love the beauty of the lights, the peacefulness my tree emits into the surroundings, the memories of loved ones it recalls in the forms of the various ornaments both made and received as gifts over the years, and the fresh smell of pine that evokes memories of past Christmases. My tree will always be my favorite gift of the year.

This year may you experience Hope, Joy, and Peace, which is the true meaning of Christmas.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

Our Tree


Surviving the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

That’s what people tell me all the time, but honestly it’s the hardest time of the year for me. It’s a stark reminder of the parents I’ve lost and the siblings that I can’t connect with anymore. I know I’m lucky to have my husband and daughter and the wonderful in-laws that have accepted me as a part of the family, but I still get down this time of year. In fact, coupled with my bipolar, the holiday season was a frequent time of hospitalizations for me. Some years, it was all I could do just to make it to January.volunteer-1326758_1280

Over the last few years however, I’ve been able to refocus myself on others during the holidays and that has helped me tremendously. By volunteering at the local food bank, I’m able to remind myself of the blessings that I have and the family I still have. I still struggle sometimes, because it’s hard when you miss your family around the holidays but helping others has certainly helped me.

Consider volunteering at a local food bank or homeless shelter this year or even donating much needed supplies.

It still might not be the most wonderful time of the year for you, but the joy helping others brings you may help you more. The joy of giving of your time is the best gift you will receive all year, and maybe–like me–you’ll find yourself not only surviving but enjoying the holidays once more.

 


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

 

Grandkids

 

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

 

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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.

Enjoy!


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?

binoculars-796423_1920

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 http://bit.ly/2gWrfdP 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!

 

ALL OCTOBER

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

 

 

OCTOBER 18

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

3pm-5pm

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.

6:30pm-7:30pm

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

OCTOBER 21

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.

8:30am-11:30am

Westford Regency Inn- 219 Littleton Rd, Westford, MA

 

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

Free Admission

10am-4:30pm

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

10am-3pm

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.

2pm-4pm

Dracut Library- 28 Arlington Street, Dracut, MA 01826

OCTOBER 22

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

 

 

OCTOBER 23

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

6:30pm-7:30pm

Dracut Library- 28 Arlington Street, Dracut, MA 01826

 

 

OCTOBER 24

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.

10:30am

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

OCTOBER 25

Puppets, magic, and humor help children ages 3-12 can learn how to stay safe while trick-or-treating. Registration Required.
6:30pm-7:15pm
Billerica Library Meeting Room, 15 Concord Rd Billerica, MA 01821

OCTOBER 26

Come in costume so that after the stories, you can fo trick-or-treating in the Library and Town Hall.
1pm-1:30pm
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.
4pm-5pm
Chelmsford Public Library McCarthy Meeting Room, 25 Boston Rd Chelmsford, MA 01824

OCTOBER 27

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

8:30pm

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

 

 

OCTOBER 28

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

9am-4pm

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

11am-2pm

5 Littleton Rd, Ayer, Massachusetts 01432

 

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

12pm-3pm

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

1pm

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.

2:30pm-5pm

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

3pm-8pm

SpringDell Farm- 571 Great Rd, Littleton, MA 01460

 

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

4pm-5pm

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!

5:30pm-7pm

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

 

 

OCTOBER 29

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

10am-1pm

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

1:30pm

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

4pm-6m

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

 

 

OCTOBER 30

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.

3:30pm-4:30pm

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.

4:15pm-5:15pm

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

 

 

OCTOBER 31

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

10a-12pm

Pollard Memorial Library, 401 Merrimack Street Lowell, MA 01852

 

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

2:30pm-6pm

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

 

 

 

 

halloween-151843_1280

 

= 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 https://www.lowellgeneral.org/health-and-wellness/health-and-wellness-programs/for-tweens-and-teens