Nuts and Bolts

By: Sue Anganes


Shop Girl!Whenever my husband has his shop door open, my granddaughter is by his side. She seems to have a natural interest in working with tools and enjoys hanging around and helping when things are being fabricated or repaired.

Last time when she came over she said, “It’s always a treat to see Papou working in his garage!” That really made my heart melt!

Sometimes she just hangs out and scavenges random old parts (shop treasures to her) and collects them in little baggies. Hanging out in my husband’s shop was never a boy’s only place. My husband is good at making sure that his granddaughter has as much opportunity to help in the shop as our grandsons have.Papou and Amelia enjoying her treasures

Back in the day, when my husband was my boyfriend and I was in my very early teens, I would spend hours with him helping while he repaired cars, radios, rebuilt motorcycle and car engines, and welded all kinds of stuff. I even became a ham radio operator at the age of fourteen because he inspired me to learn Morse Code and get my license. I helped him with his work and learned along the way, and I truly enjoyed it.

Passing on his interests to me was a bit odd back in the day; but hopefully, now we don’t limit what our girls become interested in. As a result of my early interests, I rebuilt the engine in my first car, studied electrical engineering in college, and am still known to swing a hammer, work on my own car, shingle a roof, and lay ceramic tile. Hopefully my granddaughter will continue to be a hands-on girl and learn some helpful skills in life that are often relegated to the boys.

Here’s to all the girls with grease under their nails!










My Sleep Training Challenges (and Resolution!)

By: Jillian


I have a son who cries when he’s tired rather than fall asleep. Sound familiar?

This infant is so resistant to sleeping that he has come up with creative ways to avoid nap time. For example, on multiple occasions  he waited until we did our nap time routine to have a huge poop. This pattern began when I started trying “cry it out,” Each time I tried letting him cry for 5 minutes, I’ve gone back into his room only to smell a dirty diaper. It’s like he waits to poop until nap time to get out of sleeping because he knows I’ll change him. Of course, if he didn’t also roll around on the changing pad while I tried to change him the process would not interfere with nap time. But he is so clever with escaping nap time that his skills have also included finding ways to escape being changed. I haven’t decided if this is a typical baby thing so if you Mamas struggle with dirty diapers at nap time and squirming at the changing table then maybe this is not just a clever little “my” baby trick! As I finished writing this my little one pooped and reset our bedtime routine! Babies…

bebe-3401066_1920So, strategy one–cry it out (CIO) isn’t for us at this time. When my son cries it is because he needs something–typically a diaper change! 

Our main hesitation to CIO is that our son  will scream for hours. He also keeps himself busy by standing up in his crib. I wonder if CIO would’ve been more successful if we started it before he was so mobile. 

Up until trying CIO we alternated between me nursing him to sleep and my husband using the 5 s’ from Dr. Karp’s “happiest baby on the block.” The reason I began trying other methods was because I was told our son needs to learn to sleep in his crib and the only way he can do that is if we put him down awake. Besides, I was getting tired of having him fall asleep and then trying to put him down like some sort of ninja–delicately and quietly so as to not wake him up. And when we got really desperate for a change the night he woke every two hours to nurse! Isn’t he supposed to sleep through the night at his age? Isn’t his belly full? In the midst of this nighttime torture, I read that during sleep regressions it’s typical for babies to be more needy. I know he has slept almost ten hours on his own in the past so he CAN do it, so I feel better going with my mommy instinct and just hugging and feeding him when he wakes up. I do wait five minutes just to see if rocking helps and sometimes that does the trick. 

We started strategy two after a few weeks of abandoning traditional  CIO. The plan was to lay him down and verbally soothe him and occasionally rub his back when he wasn’t crying. He cried while laying in his crib, but I felt better not leaving the room while he was crying. The first night he did eventually roll over and go to sleep! To my amazement. Luckily, my husband was in the room at that time rather than me because our son was crying hard right before he rolled over and fell asleep. I would have caved and picked him up when he was just about asleep! Even though he put himself to sleep, he woke up every two hours throughout the night after that. So we were right back to the reason we started trying this method of CIO.

The second night we tried bedtime routine and laying him down with verbal soothing. he went back to his old tricks and had a dirty diaper right before he fell asleep! This was an hour after my husband started sitting with him and verbally soothing him so we were very frustrated. I ended up nursing him to sleep. 

After trying method 2, I realized that our son may be in a growth spurt because he has been nursing a lot more than usual and eating solids more too. He also cut two teeth and learned to walk with support so it was a big week!

Ultimately, my son likes when we comfort him and I like to comfort him so it was a difficult thing to try variations of CIO. It doesn’t help that I worry he is crying for a reason–in pain from teething, hungry, needing a new diaper, or just wanting to be snuggled.

I found this post helpful for providing multiple options to sleep train:

How do I teach my baby to soothe herself to sleep?” via BabyCenter

The most useful idea is making bedtime earlier and feeding first rather than last; I have ended with nursing rather than a story. I’m not brave enough to wake him up from nursing to continue his bedtime routine though. 

Today at nap time, I nursed and switched to pacifier and put him down before fully asleep. He slept two hours after that! But then at bedtime that approach didn’t work so I nursed him to sleep and laid him down. About 30 minutes later, he rolled over and slept for 2 hours. Apparently, his sleep patterns and schedule is as variable as he is from one day to the next. Sound familiar??

Ultimately, I hope to one day have a baby who I can lay in bed and actually goes to sleep! But for now, we have abandoned those sleep training methods. This post made me feel better about my choice: 5111WMvH6cL._SX260_

“Night Weaning” via KellyMom

If you want to feel better about not using CIO, then check out this book. This is the cheapest I’ve ever seen it and worth way more than $1.99. The best part is that anyone can put baby to sleep. Mamas of the world rejoice, you can sleep BEFORE baby does!

Springtime Is Park Time!

By: Juli Couture


Spring has Finally Sprung!

After many months of horrific winter weather followed by equally miserable conditions during April vacation, we are ready to shed those winter blues and finally breathe in the fresh air! I have listed for you a few of our favorite spots to visit when the weather starts warming up. These places have a little something for everyone to enjoy while getting a daily dose of much-needed Vitamin D!



Field Of Dreams, 48 Geremonty Drive, Salem, NH
Field of Dreams offers a massive wooden play structure, with areas of play for all ages and ability, there are also little-wooded trails to explore and even grassy areas perfect for a picnic. In the summer months, they even have concerts on Thursday nights starting at 6:30 pm.

Castle in the Trees, 300 King Street, Littleton, MA
Castle in the Trees recently got a huge makeover and is better than ever before! They have a massive…you guessed it…CASTLE-themed play structure for the adventurous kids, as well as another attached play area for the 3 to 5 year olds. They are surrounded by grass and sporting areas. Plenty of room to burn off all that built-up cabin fever!

Veteran’s Memorial Park, 80 Broadway Road, Dracut, MA
As the weather gets warmer, there’s no better place to cool down. VMP has sporting fields, playground, covered picnic area, and the most cherished attraction of all – a splash pad! Bring some snacks and your sunscreen and let your kids run wild!

Lynch Park, 55 Ober Street, Beverly MA
While it may not be around the corner, Lynch Park is absolutely worth the drive and the non-resident parking fee. Lynch Park is an enormous, well-maintained park with lush green fields, a playground, a stunning rose garden, a beach, concessions (typically open during the summer only), and a wonderful splash pad! There truly is something for everyone and it is the perfect place to pack up a lunch and spend the day. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy it.

Endicott Park, 57 Forest Street, Danvers MA
Lastly, Endicott Park has 165 acres of open space, fields, and woods with scenic trails. It also has a large playground, plenty of green space for running around and picnicking, and–best of all–animals! Endicott is home to a variety of barnyard animals; also, Danvers’ dog park is located within Endicott, so you can really bring the whole family! There is a small fee for non-residents to park and the barnyard will always gladly accept donations as well.


So whether your kids enjoy running wild through the grass, getting sandy toes, swinging to new heights, or simply taking in the beauty of nature, I hope you find this list of places to visit helpful and you discover a place you all can enjoy!


Mediterranean Diet Month

By: Cassie Van Der Hyde


Do you ever hear about those “awareness months” and think, “Are you kidding me? Who comes up with these things?” I do. Every time. I wonder who designates these days, how they could possibly gain traction, and why the world needs them.

My day has come, though! This month is International Mediterranean Diet Month and it combines three of my passions: cardiac health, supremely tasty food, and Being Greek!

If you aren’t Greek, I’m sorry! I am, and it’s true that Greece was the cradle of democracy, Greek is a major root of the English language, and also that our food is so very, very tasty. The Mediterranean diet is not Grecian only, but growing up with a Yia yia and all the traditions that came with having her in my life has given me a special love for the food of the Mediterranean region in general.

Not only is it delicious, but many studies suggest that there are heart-healthy benefits to it as well. I started out my career as a nurse in a cardiovascular and cardiothoracic unit caring for post-op cardiac bypass and vascular bypass patients, so I love to preach those heart-healthy habits whenever I can!


The Mediterranean diet doesn’t have to be a list of do’s and don’ts to follow. It’s basically a reorganization of food habits:

1. Go heavy on the veggies, beans, and spices!

2. Make meat a garnish and not a main!

3. Go whole grain whenever possible!

4. Go vegetarian whenever possible!

5. Add in healthy fats for satiety–fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds!


After I had kids and I was starting to rethink my postpartum waistline and my own cardiovascular health as I aged, the first thing I did was start looking back to all the food I remember my Yia yia making when I was a kid. Things like lentil soup, rice with a bit of tomato-stewed chicken, salads, chickpeas, and lots of greens. All of these were great building blocks to a more vegetarian diet and a very simple, flavorful way of cooking that didn’t depend entirely on grains and meat to carry the meals. This had a benefit I didn’t anticipate at the time–not only was I eating healthier, but cutting out meat as a main and using so many veggies with all those beans really cut back on our food bills.

If you’re looking to start amping up your Mediterranean a bit, here are some of my very favorite simple staple recipes for everyday cooking. I make the horiatiki salad for at least one meal a day, sometimes two! Make sure you really beef up and diversify your spice selection and buy the best olive oil you can and you’ll be ready to chef it up!


Horiatiki (Greek Salad) –


Gigantes Plaki (stewed lima beans)


Tabboule (bulgur salad)


Fakes (lentil soup) –





What I Really Want for Mother’s Day

By: Sarah Powling


Recently my boys, ages 5 and 4, wanted to have a tea party for me in preparation for Mother’s Day. It was so thoughtful and cute, and I really did appreciate it, I swear. They spread out the blankets from their beds onto my kitchen table, brought every single stuffed animal that they owned, insisted on real tea cups, etc. IMG_3932

They really did go all out for me, while I stood there boiling water and fielding questions about why I didn’t have a real tea pot. It was so nice that I got to add these small tasks to my morning to-do list, while I packed lunches and made breakfasts. Oh how exciting it was when there was a spill on the table cloth bedding! I was hoping I could add more laundry to my list that day! And I can’t forget to mention how lucky I was to then get to hear the beautiful sound of my voice 5 different times as I told them that it was time to clean up. How fun to be able to experience the gradual increase in volume of my shouting!

Okay, all kidding aside, I actually did tear up, as I was truly grateful that my boys would even think to do this for me. I completely understand how lucky I am, and I wouldn’t change them for anything. I realize that what I’m about to say makes me sound like an unappreciative monster, and I promise I love my kids. But–for the love of God–why is it that even when they are being good and doing something for me, it still requires me to do extra work? I love them, and I honestly do hope that they want to have a tea party with me every year for Mother’s Day, but besides all of that cute stuff, here is what I really want for Mother’s Day.

1.) A clean bathroom. I would love to be able to sit down on the toilet without feeling some kind of wetness. I would love to be able to turn on the faucet without getting all goopy with toothpaste. I would love to be able to dry my hands on a towel that wasn’t brown and crusty from God knows what.

2.) No underwear anywhere except the underwear drawer. I would love to walk through my living room without tripping over tiny fire truck boxers. I would love to not have to wonder how on Earth underoos ended up in my kitchen sink. And I would love for my husband to actually use the hamper for once.

3.) A Mama Free Day. No, not the kind where mom goes to the spa and gets a day free of kids. Although, that would be lovely too. I’m talking about a day that is free of the word “Mama.” I want to go a whole day without anybody calling my name. No “Mama, why?” No “Mama, look.” And no “Mama, help!” Just a day free of hearing that word would do a number for my sanity.

But I realize this is not possible. And deep down of course, I’m happy and grateful that it’s not possible. Someday they will be grown up, and I know I’ll be missing them and longing for our Mother’s Day Tea Parties. So until then, pinkies up!

5 Stories from Daycare Every Parent Should Learn From

By: Marissa 


As a Daycare Teacher there are many stories to tell.  

Recently, there have been a few that I think should be shared as a learning tool for parents. Communication is key for caring for your child! Please share with your Daycare provider, we would rather have too much info than not enough!

1.  Give us details about napping routines.

After about 3 days of a baby not getting enough sleep time during the day I was asked “Why is baby not napping?” My professional answer is: “There is so much going on in the classroom that the little one was too distracted. We also have to follow safe sleep rules; that means on back, in a crib (not a swing), no blanket/lovie/wub-a-nub (not until 12 months old), no swaddling but sleep sacks are allowed and pacifiers.” Come to find out this particular baby has a very strict nap/sleep routine, they are put in one of those new Merlin suits, given a pacifier, snuggled for no more than 10 minutes then put in a crib and the lights turned off. Well, we were never told this routine when the baby started daycare or given one of these suits. Please make sure to give us the supplies we need for nap time.  Also, be prepared for a change in naps if you have a routine that we cannot do (swaddling or being left in a swing); there are some things that are not allowed.

2.  Overpack for daycare, just don’t overfill!

A baby comes in with 2 bags of frozen breastmilk and one clean bottle and 3 clean nipples for the entire day. I asked the parent where the others bottles were, to which the reply was “just rinse that one out.” The first issue is each bag has approximately 8oz of frozen breastmilk and baby only drinks 4oz at a time. To thaw these frozen blocks of milk, we run them under the faucet. Most times these overpacked bags breaks leaking the precious pumped milk down the drain. Mom is horrified to hear that milk was lost. Don’t overpack freezer milk bags. Put anywhere from 2-4oz in the bag and lay them flat in the freezer. Easier storage, easier thawing, and less wasted milk. The second issue is we cannot properly clean, dry and sterilize bottles (most places don’t). We ask for clean bottles with nipples for each feeding plus one, just in case. Make sure your overpack for daycare!

3. Pack a variety of foods.

11-month-old baby loves food. In fact, she tries to eat other babies food off the highchair if they are eating at the same time she is. She comes in with the same food everyday for the past couple of weeks. Every day this baby gets a waffle and a pouch of food for breakfast (usually applesauce), nuggets and a pouch for lunch (veggies hidden in applesauce), snacks are bananas and Cheerios. This poor little girl has been battling with constipation for a week now and the parent can’t seem to figure out why. Applesauce (unlike apple juice) is binding. She is getting 2 servings of applesauce and a banana a day for about 3 weeks now. We have written down on the daily note that she tries taking different foods off of highchairs. I have handed the parent a list of finger foods on 3 different occasions. Word to the wise, pack a variety of foods–as long as they have had them with the parents before, so you know there is not an instant allergic reaction.

4.  Stick to a feeding schedule.

A mother brings in her baby screaming. This child is known for controlling what and how much he eats at daycare. Mom informs us that she purposely didn’t feed him so he will be hungry for us. Well this kid is too far gone on the hysterical, crazy train to eat. I couldn’t even give this kid a bottle. He was so hysterical he fell asleep for 3 hours. So now this baby hasn’t eaten in over 7 hours. Mom was so mad we didn’t feed him. I cannot force feed a child; I am also not going to put a spoon in a crying child’s mouth so they choke. If your child is trying to gain control over food, stick with a feeding schedule and be explicitly clear to the daycare teacher!

5.  Don’t confuse checklists for checkups.

At the daycare I work at, we give out developmental checklists every 3 months in the infant room. This checklist is just to show what we have observed at daycare. I handed a parent the developmental for a 4-month-old. They looked it over and asked if I thought their child was delayed. “They don’t do anything, do they have cerebral palsy.” In no way am I trained to answer that question. I am not a pediatrician. In fact, I am not any sort of specialist, nutritionist, behavior specialist, therapist, speech pathologist…the list could go on. The developmental checklist is a tool–it is just a snapshot of what we were able to see at school when the parent is at work. Parents are given a copy of the checklist to talk about with their pediatrician and ask if additional support is needed. It is in no way the be-all and end-all to what your child can do.  

Everything is New for a Day

By: Sue AnganesSoap Dishes


“Go wash your hands” were four simple words to my grandson. Later after he had gone home, I went into the bathroom. It was then I noticed my soap dish. I’m not referring to the “regular” soap dish, I’m referring to my new, birthday/Easter gift soap dish with the fancy tri-colored, multi layered, sparkly topped, virgin soap. It’s the one I have for display–the “grandmother-mother-in-law-aunt who lives alone” type soap display. Up until this point, no one in my family had dared touch it.

Used soapI found the soap on its side, fancy label pulled off, and bubbly from use. Next to the now defiled soap was my regular soap dish. This soap dish had a hodgepodge of various sized soaps–all different colors and scents that my husband regularly brings back from his trips while traveling for work. There’s a virtual Disneyland worth of enjoyment in my “regular” soap dish, but it wasn’t exciting enough to entice my grandson.

My sister once told me, “Everything is new for one day.” I think of it as, nothing is perfect. These things are always going to happen, so “go with the flow.” Don’t let things stress you out.

Turn back the hands of time to when we had installed a white tiled floor in our family room. I’m skilled at laying tile so I was the one who spent hours on my hands and knees, cutting and setting tile, and then later grouting it all to a spectacular finish. Now move forward in time, possibly a year or so later when the floor was still pristine. I observed my husband holding a big heavy gear that he had finished machining in our garage. In slow motion, I saw him fumble with the gear and watched as it dropped to my new white tiled floor and bounce across the tiles, chipping as it bounced along.

Everything is new for a day.

Once, when we were doing the finishing touches on an addition to our house, I returned to a room I had just painted to find that my four-year-old had taken a black ballpoint pen and had made a line completely around the empty room on the wall. It took three coats of paint over the pen mark to cover it up.

Everything is new for a day.

I could go on and on about these moments; the time a potato exploded in my oven on the VERY FIRST DAY that I cooked in it. Laying down new linoleum in the kitchen and gouging a big tear in it while pushing the refrigerator back into place–and these are the little things. Life can throw us some very big obstacles sometimes.

Broken things can be replaced. Someone will most certainly give me a new bar of soap for my birthday, tiles can be reset, and ovens can be cleaned. There is almost always a solution to our problems.New Day

When I wake in the morning, I say to myself, “It’s a new day.” I know that I will probably get numerous dings and chips throughout the day, but that’s how life is. I can’t let it stress me out. I can’t let it overwhelm me. Tomorrow will be a new day too. We always have a chance to start fresh again.



**In memory of my friend, Kim, who three years ago, let the chips and dings and obstacles in life overwhelm her:



Parenting Questions: How Do I Help My Gassy Baby?

By: Jillian


Have you ever spent the time you “should” be sleeping on Google for answers to your baby questions? I have. I have noticed that I keep searching the internet for the same answers at different times!

adorable-baby-child-40724My most frequent question; gas. I was using gripe water and after reading this article from Kelly Bonyata, I’m concerned about that!

Ultimately, I take the approach of less is more–whatever I can avoid giving to my baby the better!