A Cool Summer Snack – Tzatziki

By: Sue Anganes


Sometimes when it gets super hot and muggy I don’t feel much like eating, or even cooking for that matter. Here’s a recipe that’s super easy to make and is also healthy. It’s great for a light lunch, or an afternoon snack. I love to eat it with pita chips, pita bread, or veggies. In Greece, it’s eaten as a compliment to grilled lamb, gyros, roasted chicken, or falafel. 

Tzatziki IMG_4171


– 1 cucumber peeled, seeded, grated, and drained ( I use a food processor to shred it. Some people just chop it in a food processor or by hand)

– 2 cloves minced garlic

– 2 cups plain Greek yogurt

– 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

– Salt to taste

– Oil to garnish



1. Squeeze out the grated cucumber to extract as much water as possible.

2. Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Taste for salt and lemon and add more if desired.

3. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more to let the flavors combine.

4. Drizzle with olive oil when ready to serve. Enjoy!


5 Tips to Help Your Child Succeed in College

By: Kristen Nida (Guest Blogger)

We are so excited to have our college students home for the summer that we have gotten another one of our college students to agree to write about how we as parents can help our children prepare for college.


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As a recent graduate, I can still look back and remember exactly how I felt the night before I left for college. When your child is preparing for college, there are likely many mixed emotions flying around in his/her head. This period of time is full of excitement, nerves, and jitters. This is when your child needs your voice of reason the most, although your child may not outright ask for it. There are many steps to take early on in college that will enable your children make the best of their time there. They are often overlooked in the midst of all of the excitement.

1. Start Off Strong: As a freshman, your child will more than likely be taking basic courses that are mandatory for all majors. These are the courses that will have the greatest impact on overall GPA. Something I was unfortunately not told until my junior year of college was that it is much easier to maintain a good GPA when you start off strong than it is to try to boost a low GPA as an upperclassman. Therefore, advise your child to not fool around in these basic courses; they have a much larger impact than one would think. Doing this will also allow your child to not be weighed down with stress in the last years of college when the coursework becomes harder.

2. Focus on the Education, Not Just the Degree: I will admit, there were nights that I did not get one minute of sleep the night before an exam due to procrastination. However, this is not a healthy or helpful study habit. Although this way of studying may get a good grade, it will not ensure that your child actually knows and understands the material in the future. Whether your child will need to know the material for a following class or for a future job, it is important to learn the material rather than simply memorize it periodically for exams. Not to mention, the more your child pays attention in class, the less time that needs to be spent studying when it’s time for exams.

3. Look for Internships in Your Field: Looking back, one thing I certainly wish I would have done sooner was look for an internship in my field. When looking for a job after college, I found very quickly that even most entry level positions require some degree of experience. For those few positions available that may not require prior experience, it surely can give your child an advantage over the other applicants to have internship experience. Not only will an internship look great on your child’s resume, gaining experience in the field your child is interested in can help determine whether this is the right career path or if it’s time to look in a different direction.

4. Get Involved: While making good grades is clearly an important part of college, considering good grades lead to good careers, remind your child to enjoy everything the college has to offer. Your child will hear this over and over again, but getting involved is the best way to make the most of the college experience. Therefore, advise your children to go to sporting events, join clubs, go to campus activities, anything that will get them out of the dorm rooms and involved on campus. This is the time for each student to embrace personal interests and join clubs that celebrate these interests.

5. Find the Group of Friends That Fits You: As freshmen, many students feel overwhelmed and a little lonely at a new school where they may not know anyone yet. However, something these young students do not realize is that every other freshman feels the same way. Therefore, make sure to remind your children to be friendly and put themselves out there. Once they find the group of friends that they feel comfortable in, every part of college—even studying—will be more enjoyable.

How to Survive College: Roomate 101

By: Meg Cowan (Guest Blogger)

We are excited to have a college student guest blogging for Our Circle of Moms on the problems that our kids face when they head to college. Check back for her next post in June.


This past August, I left my home state for college in South Carolina. I was moving entirely away from everything and everyone I knew for the first time. I was excited. Still, I felt twinges of anxiety without having a support system in place. Out of everything, I felt the most anxiety about living with eight total strangers for the foreseeable future.


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Fears of my female roommates plagued me. I had heard the horror stories. Unfortunately, it is likely your child will not like their roommate or suitemate. If your child’s roommate or suitemate ever insults your child, steals from them, threatens, or hurts them, you should encourage and help your child get out of that living situation immediately.

There will certainly be disagreements about quiet hours and complaints about whose turn it is to take out the trash, but this is normal. My advice when dealing with roommates is, firstly, to pick your battles. For example, the thermostat temperature is not worth a huge fight. When your student first moves in, recommend they work together to collectively pick a temperature the thermostat should stay at, having it err on the side of being too cold. That way everyone can wear however many layers they feel comfortable in. You can always add more layers, but you can’t necessarily remove more layers.

One piece of advice to give your kids about living with others that you may not think of is to be considerate about having people over. If your child has a significant other who is over all the time, this can be disruptive to the others living with your child. Whether it is a significant other or just a hookup, no one wants to have a stranger sleeping over in his or her room every night. Encourage your child to give their roommates’ warning if they are having someone over, especially if they will be spending the night.

Another roommate problem students commonly run into is that their roommates do not clean up after themselves. As parents, I recommend teaching your child how to clean and the importance of cleaning up after themselves. They can also set guidelines to at least keep the common areas clean. My roommates did not seem to realize that if they would clean their shower and toilet then the mold they were disgusted by would disappear. Several of them did not even know how to unclog a toilet, leading to a tense situation where eight girls were using one bathroom for an extended amount of time because they were unwilling to take care of the situation. It was disgusting and went on long enough that I even offered to buy these girls a plunger. Teaching your child how to do basic cleaning chores, such as doing their laundry and unclogging a toilet will make their life and the lives of those living with them more enjoyable. However gross tasks like unclogging a toilet are, your child should be able to be responsible and mature enough to do it, for the sake of the entire living group.

Living together with strangers in a completely new environment is stressful, but throughout college these tips will make your child’s life with roommates easier.


Taking Care of Myself

By: Sue Anganes



My life has revolved around caring for my six kids for the last thirty-two years. My youngest is now sixteen. In a certain sense, I should have realized this a long time ago, but I am just now figuring out that I need to take care of myself. I don’t mean getting my nails done or refurbishing my wardrobe—that would all be fine, but I mean taking care of my health.unnamed

I have always been relatively healthy and never needed any daily prescriptions for medical issues; but recently, I started falling apart. I was exhausted all the time. I couldn’t do any type of physical activity without exhaustion afterward. The breaking point was a few months ago when I had a horrible flare-up of pain in my hands, wrists, and elbows. It came on overnight; and by morning, it was obvious something was not right. I couldn’t brush my hair, type, open a doorknob, open my car door, grab my steering wheel, or pick up my grandson. It even hurt too much to push an elevator button with my index finger. I couldn’t sleep because even if I moved a little, the pain would wake me up.

After a week of suffering, my husband FINALLY convinced me to see my doctor. My doctor did some labs and then sent me to a rheumatologist. More detailed labs were ordered, and I had x-rays and an MRI done. It was determined that I had arthritis. From the looks of it, I probably had it for a long time. The doctor put me on a medication, and guess what, I feel FANTASTIC! I really feel so much better. After being on the medication for about six weeks, I have tackled painting some bedrooms and painting a family room and hallway. I’ve started walking again and was able to do some spring raking. I still have some pain, but it is nothing like what it was to begin with. I feel like I have my life back. I have so much more energy now that I’m not trying to physically drag myself out of my chair.

Why did it take me so long to see a doctor and get myself help? This was an issue for me for a long time before the horrible flare-up. I think that I have been so busy taking care of my home and family that I kept putting my own important needs to the side. I also felt guilty admitting that I had pain, since, as I have mentioned before, my two youngest sons deal with a rare disease that causes them to be in pain every day, and I have a daughter who has had arthritis since she was seven years old. I didn’t think that I had the right to complain. Foolishly, I also thought that if I didn’t acknowledge that there was something wrong, that it would go away. Silly? Yes! I should have addressed the problem long ago.

The past few weeks, I have felt better than I have in years. I am enjoying my walks outdoors, and I’m so very thankful for taking care of myself for once and feeling better.

#Blessed… But Exhausted

By: Michelle Johnson


I am three months into motherhood so I am still learning everything and will be for the next 30 years. But what I have learned is that I’m always exhausted!

MichealaI hate admitting that because we had such a hard time conceiving Micheala and had a few miscarriages along the way. During that whole time, I kept thinking that once I became a mom everything would be perfect. That we would be this beautiful, happy family and I’d be able to dress this little human in cute clothes and teach them all of the hundreds of things that I’ve learned in parenting books. I had ideas about how I would do everything from cloth diapering to handling their crying.

Enter reality. I quickly learned that I knew nothing. Who has time for cloth diapers? I will gladly pay for disposable if it means less laundry and less mess. Gladly!

And I said I wasn’t going to pick up my baby and bounce her or drive her around in the car to quiet her crying or get her to sleep. Wrong. You can find my husband and I bouncing and driving at all hours if it means a couple hours…or minutes…of peace and quiet.

I haven’t had time to get my hair done since before she was born and I haven’t even had the energy to care. I’m sure at some point I’ll be able to see through my bleary, exhausted eyes and actually panic at how ragged I look but right now what I’m noticing is my beautiful, tiny daughter. And when we go out people don’t even seem to notice that I’m in sweats and a stained tee, they only see the chubby baby cheeks and small baby feet.

So I may be tired and exhausted but I’m so very blessed to call this precious bundle of pure joy mine.

Now excuse me, she just woke up and started crying again so it’s time for a car ride…

Quick and Easy Mini Chicken Pot Pies

By: Susan Turk


Between work, sports, church and all of the other thousand things it seems like my family is running to and from every day, dinner can be impossible to get on the table in a timely manner. That’s why I love these mini pot pies! They are so easy and can be ready in about 20 minutes. The added bonus is they’re delicious enough that the whole family wants to eat them and they’re the perfect portion size for my kids, who often have bigger eyes than stomachs.

mini pot pies


– canned biscuits (I like using the flaky layer kind when I have them)

– 1 can of cream of chicken or cheese soup

– frozen mixed vegetables

– pre-cooked canned chicken, drained

– spices to taste (garlic, pepper, salt)



1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F or the temperature directed on the biscuits you’re using. Grease muffin pan.

2. Press the biscuits into the muffin pan, leaving some of the biscuit hanging over the top.

3. Mix the can of soup, frozen vegetables, canned chicken, and spices together in a large mixing bowl.

4. Spoon your mixture into the biscuits that you have pressed into the muffin pan.

5. Fold the top of your biscuit over the mixture

6. Follow the baking instructions on the back of your biscuits, usually 12-16 minutes or until golden brown

7. Serve and enjoy!

Parents Need Support, Too

By: Amy Dienta


Special needs parenting is not for the weak. It takes patience, love, support and time. It’s making decision after decision about things that are out of your control. It’s coordinating a million things and picking up a screaming child on the floor because the design of the bagel bites box changed. It’s like bullfighting at times. I saw a study that being an autism parent is comparable to the PTSD of a soldier returning from war. 

I want to let you all know that it’s ok to take a break from being a parent for awhile. All Parents, especially parents of special needs children, need the support of others. Someone to say, my child painted with poop on the wall today. Or my child did this in school today. Someone to cry to when it gets so hard when you tell your child to stop eating markers for the 500th time or clean that poop off the wall again! 

I recently lost someone I cared about and who has a special needs child to suicide. I’m not saying the child or the special needs had anything to do with the suicide; but please, don’t ever be afraid or let social stigmas stand in the way of you getting help if you need it. Help comes in many forms, such as time away from the kids, a therapist, a trip to the salon or talking to another parent at the park. 

Please make sure you have a support system in place for yourself and your child. Your spouse, your parents, your relatives, other autism parents, the children’s teachers, your child’s and your doctors and specialists should all be a part of your web of support. 

Another thing that helps is finding something that soothes you: wine, chocolate, a good book, exercising or a cup of coffee. When you feel stressed out, do one of these things and relax. Take a few minutes and get some time to recoup. Put on the TV or give your child their tablet and let them watch it. Breathe and calm down. 

If you see another parent stressed out, try to see if you can help them. You never know how a smile or a joke can help them make it through their day.  Offer to babysit a friend’s children if the parent needs a minute off. 

The stress level of a special needs parent can be overwhelming. If you have supports set up, when you need them they will be there for you. Don’t ever forget that you can do this, and you are strong and can handle anything life throws at you. 

Autism Awareness: Light it Up Blue Event

In honor of Autism Awareness month, Burlington Parks and Recreation will be hosting a Light it Up Blue event! Amy Dienta, one of our bloggers, will be one of the speakers. There will be games, crafts, pizza and fun for the whole family!

Please join in on the fun!