Zoe’s First Day of Preschool

By: Danielle McFadden

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This month, we ventured into new territory… preschool! Zoe has been home with my husband Adam since she was born so this was a BIG deal in our house. The first day I dropped Zoe off, she practically ran away from me to go and play with her friends – I had to ask my (not even) three year old for a hug and a kiss goodbye. Who would have thought?!

Drop off the past couple of weeks have been a little more difficult with some tears as we say goodbye, but the staff at Building Blocks has been incredible. They are working with us to master the art of potty training and always fill us in on Zoe’s day. I can’t say enough about them (a special thanks to Mrs. Gray)!

I love that Zoe is finally getting that socialization piece that stay-at-homes kids don’t get. Hopefully, soon the word “SHARE” won’t be as taboo for my little fire cracker. It’s adorable to hear her talk about her friends and see her excitement when I open her backpack to see the projects she’s been working on. It’s also great that Landry gets some alone time with Adam a couple days a week.preschool-1

Cheers to a great school year and the beginning of many more first days of school!


The Weight of the World

By: Sue Anganes

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Sometimes, we feel as if we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. There are many pressing issues in life, most of which we have no ability to fix.There are our own personal issues that weigh us down, as well as issues that our friends and family are going through that also feel heavy to us. There are also the issues of this world: poverty and pestilence, war and politics, terrorist attacks both in the past, and ones we fear for the future. Life brings us different issues at various times. Medical, relationship, marriage, job, school, mental health, substance abuse and parenting issues all can weigh upon us and on occasion give us a feeling of hopelessness or despair.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. It is always important to know ahead of time how to cope with feelings of hopelessness or despair before we encounter them. I think everyone at one point in their lives has had these feelings.

Since suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, we, as moms, should know the warning signs and know what to do if a loved one is suffering from depression.

  Threats or comments about killing themselves can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous

  Increased alcohol and drug use

  Aggressive behavior

  Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community

  Dramatic mood swings

  Talking, writing or thinking about death

  Impulsive or reckless behavior

 

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately. – See more at: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx

It’s always important to get the medical help you may need for your loved one. Not taking thoughts of suicide seriously can have a devastating outcome. If you think your friend or family member will hurt herself or someone else, call 911 immediately.

 

Information has been taken from The National Alliance of Mental Illness. For more information go to: 

http://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Suicide-Prevention-Awareness-Month


My Disney World Top 10

By: Amy Dienta

My family and I recently came back from our 5th family trip to Disney World. Here are my top 10 favorite Disney World things to do. Be warned, I love Disney World.

10. Take the Magical Express to the Resort.  I love not having to bring my luggage and drag it to the room. I take the Magical Express and my luggage arrives on it’s own.14212079_10208334895989109_6189495580236900881_n

9. I love the smells of Disney. Every resort has it’s own smell; and when I am home, certain smells remind me of my vacation. Animal Kingdom Lodge has this wonderful campfire smell.

8. The transportation options are endless and fun. From Beach club, we could take a boat ride to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. You can also hop on the monorail to arrive from Grand Floridian, Polynesian or the Contemporary.

7. The different food from all around the world I can try. Margaritas in Mexico and falafel in Morocco and then head over to England for Fish and Chips while watching Illuminations. The dining is endless. I love sitting at a table spending time with my family, talking and laughing. We choose to do one sit down meal a day and slow down and enjoy or time together.

8. The themes of the resorts. We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge last year and it was amazing. Zebras and Giraffes right out the window. This year we stayed at Beach club, which has actual sand in the pool. Want to live in Mardi Gras and southern Charm try Port Orleans French Quarter. Want to see your favorite movie characters up close, Art of Animation has life size Cars from the movie or Little Mermaid Rooms. Everyone has a favorite. I enjoy trying a new one each trip. Make sure you plan actual time to enjoy your resort.

7. The fireworks, parades and shows are amazing. I love each of them and each park has it own nightly shows. The new Star Wars one is amazing.

6. Memory Maker makes it so I hardly have to remember to take photos. Everything goes to my account via my magic band and I can see them from my phone.

5. Magic Kingdom is open longer some nights for guests staying at a Disney Resort. I love this. I usually stay with my older son until 1am or 2am depending on when the park is open until. This year it was raining and we rode splash mountain by ourselves 4 times in a row in the rain. Why not,we were already wet.

4. Fast passes – Long waits can be reduced to nothing. At 60 days out, you can book fast passes. These allow you to basically skip the line at a certain time.

3. Total relaxation – From when I get on the plane, the only decision I need to make is what drink I would like at thebar or what I would like for dinner. Everything is planned and set up already. Need to change it? You can with the app on your phone or by calling.

2. The Disney Cast Members as so wonderful, cheerful and helpful. Have an issue? Let them know and they will try to fix it asap.

1. Spend14102283_10208334891949008_816780697359485008_ning uninterrupted time with my family!


Knee Surgery….Again

By: Ashley Evans

 

The first time I had knee surgery was prior to my sophomore year of college after I tore my ACL and meniscus while sliding into home during our championship softball game. As an athlete, having the surgery at that time was an obvious choice. The success rate for ACL reconstruction surgery is about 96% so I was confident that I wouldn’t have any problems, especially with physical therapy and always choosing to wear my knee brace when doing anything athletic.

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Summer and my post-op knee brace have not mixed well!

Fast forward to earlier this year when I was ice skating with my kids. As I pushed off, I felt that same sickening pop I’d felt the first time and I went down on the ice. A MRI confirmed what I already suspected: I had torn my ACL again. An only 4% chance to retear my ACL had happened to me.

This time the decision to have the surgery wasn’t so easy. I wasn’t as involved in sports though I loved going out with my kids, helping coach my 8-year-old daughter’s softball team and my fitness classes at the Y. However, I had a 3-year-old son at the house, could I really afford to have a knee surgery that would make me have limited mobility for at least two months?

My husband finally convinced me to get the surgery—helped in part when while playing with our son one night, I ended up injuring it again.

Not being able to drive has been tough especially with all of the summer events that our family likes to enjoy and the physical therapy that I’m required to attend three times a week; but with my husband and mother-in-law’s help, we’ve been able to make it work. I can tell that the surgery will be worth it in the end.

And the extra snuggles that I’ve been getting from my son and daughter are making the recovery process so much sweeter.

So while I may be in a minority of people that have to go through two ACL surgeries for the same knee, I couldn’t be more blessed be spending the majority of my time with the people I love.

 


Best Chicken & Dumplings Recipe

By: Emily Matthews

 

My kids went back to school this week, so we had our annual back-to-school meal: homemade chicken and dumplings.

This started a few years ago when my daughter started kindergarten since with all three children out of the house, I actually had the ability to focus on all of the steps involved in making this delicious recipe.

It is a recipe that has been passed down through my family over the years and it is easily the best chicken and dumplings recipe I’ve ever had.

Chicken_dumplings

INGREDIENTS

Chicken:

1 stewing chicken (at least 5lbs)

3 qts water

2 tbsp salt

 

Dumplings:

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup shortening (I highly recommend the butter flavored Crisco)

Water

 

DIRECTIONSchicken

In a large pot, boil chicken, salt, and water. Simmer a few hours, until tender.

Debone chicken and tear in bite sized pieces. (Let the chicken cool for a bit first)

Return chicken to broth. Skim off fat.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar; mix in the shortening until it resembles cornmeal.

Add water until dough adheres together.

Shape the dough into a ball and roll it out and cut it into 1×2 inch strip.

Heat the broth to boiling and drop the dumplings in the broth. Stir, reduce heat.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

The great news is that this is even better as leftovers…if you have any….

 


A Gold Medal

By: Sue Anganes

Archery

Every mom has a naturally skewed view of their children. In a mom’s  eye, their child is the best athlete on the field, the sweetest sounding musician in the school orchestra, or the smartest kid in the nursery school. It’s natural for a mom to feel this way. It’s built into our psyche—a way to keep us bonded to our children. They are number one in our eyes, the Gold Medalists in our lives; and it shouldn’t be any other way. I can remember visiting with friends when I had my first newborn daughter. The wife also had a newborn, a son, almost the exact same age. I had the irrational thought in my mind of wondering why the other parents didn’t think my baby was better. Really? I can’t imagine that I wondered that back then, but it did make me think later in life just how much we attach and bond with our own children. 

 

In the Olympics of Life, we wish for our children to succeed. Moms do just about anything to ensure that everything and every opportunity that could propel our kids to success is placed before them. Our standard is Gold and we push them along in sports, education, and the arts, hoping for excellence while cheering them along. 

 

What happens, however, when our Gold Medalist becomes disqualified? They jump the starting gun,  fall off the balance beam, or don’t place in the finals of life. Our direction and hopes for our kids are often shattered. But life never goes how we plan it. No matter what we do, things and situations change, often in the blink of an eye. It has been so important for me to learn to be open to change in every part of my life. I have slowly, and sometimes painfully, learned how to accept change and move forward from whatever place or situation I find myself in at that phase in life. 

 

After my two youngest sons were diagnosed with their neurometabolic disease, I couldn’t figure out how to move forward. I was lost and in a rut of depression and confusion. What did the future hold for them, and how were we going to even make it to the “future”? It took a long time to realize that we didn’t have to stay in the Olympics of Life event that we started in! If we couldn’t go for gold in one event, move on to another! They are not competing in the Olympics of Life event that I envisioned that they would be competing in, but they are competing. They are competing in a different event; racing forward with their talents, intellect, and abilities, and reaching for that gold medal. I see the race they are running—it’s right there before them—and I will be so excited to see them standing on the podium, one day in the future, with their gold medals around their necks. 


Pokemon Go Means Family Go Out Together

 

NidoKing

Becoming a gym leader with his Nidoking fulfilled all my husband’s childhood fantasies

I’ll admit it, my family has become a bit obsessed with the newest fad, Pokemon Go.

My husband and I both grew up at the height of the Pokemon craze and have passed that love on to our kids. When Netflix got the original Pokemon a few months ago, we swapped out our kids normal cartoons for those until they were as hooked as we were.

As you might expect, we were thrilled when Pokemon Go launched last month.

We knew that we would be playing and I knew my four and six year old would try to steal my phone in order to play. What I didn’t expect is how much exercise we’d be getting and how much fun we’d all have playing together.

Going on PokeWalk

Getting ready to go for a Poke Walk with the kids. First stop the Poke Stop across the street

Pokemon Go makes you walk around to catch Pokemon, hatch eggs and get other necessary items. So my kids now beg me to go on poke walks when before it was difficult to get them to want to leave the house during the summer. My husband makes plans to go on walks with the family when he gets home from work, when before he just wanted to relax and destress. And spending this time with my family has kept me active and more scheduled which helps me keep my manic-depression better regulated. It’s amazing how close this game has made us as a family. We talk more, we spend more time together and we’re healthier.

All because of little monsters you catch on your phone

 

But don’t worry you won’t hear about my family walking off a cliff for them anytime soon.


Captured Moments

By: Sue Anganes

Sometimes, I get writer’s block. I know I need to write a blog post, but why does my mind go blank? So many things have happened, yet nothing comes to mind that would even be the least bit entertaining to anyone else.

Maybe that’s the case with most of us as moms—everyday events happen and usually there’s no big, special event that demarks one day specifically from another. We are fortunate in this era of time to be able to capture glimpses of these days through digital media, and look back and realize that the sum of these uneventful days adds up to a thing of beauty. In this post, I’m going to share just a few glimpses into my family’s day to day events, some that that will be precious to me in years to come, and some that have already become sweet memories. I hope, we are all able to take note of and hold dear to the “uneventful” while it is happening right before our very eyes.

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Silly Guy was my son’s favorite stuffed animal. Now, my son is a young man.

 

 

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This was a wedding rehearsal fashion faux pas with my daughter. Unknowingly, we both wore the same dress and pretty much the same shoes. How could we not laugh!

 

 

 

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Sharing an ice cream sandwich with my grandson…this age does not last long! I am going to cherish every moment.

 

 

 

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I enjoy having lunch with my youngest two sons. Before I know it, they will be off on their own just like their older brothers. I love spending time with them while I can.

 

 

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I was always hiking with my kids when they were younger. Here, my oldest daughter was carrying my youngest son. Now, she is the mom to my three grandchildren!

 

 

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Here are my husband and sons trudging uphill to our appointments at the National Institute of Health. We really didn’t comprehend at the time that the weeks we spent at the NIH were a turning point in our boys’ lives.

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This year we enjoyed the magnificent sunset just before the Fourth of July fireworks began. This picture will help me keep the memory of that day vivid in my mind.

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Last week my sons were standing on the top of Cathedral Dome. This is something eventful because both sons have a metabolic disease which makes it hard for them to walk. We drove up to the top of the ledge by car and they walked to the edge. It was not wheelchair accessible obviously so they walked on their own.

What will tomorrow bring? No one knows. This year we still made it to the top.