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Featured Mama of the Week: Erica of Mommy’s Fabulous


This week’s featured Mama of the week is Erica from the blog Mommy’s Fabulous.  Erica is the busy mom to a toddler and an infant.  She feels blessed to have a girl and a boy and remarked that they are done!  Eric is works at home full time currently.  She said, “Before last summer, I worked outside of the home full time. I am a writer/marketer/social media manager. I wear a lot of hats, but I primarily work in health care. Before I had my own company, I used to think, “Wow, my job would be so awesome if I could just hang out and talk to my friends all day.” And, with all the social media work I do, I feel like I am doing my dream job. I am really passionate about health care communications, social media and blogging. I love it all.”

Erica’s business is called Fabulous Communications. She was blogging at Mommy’s Fabulous prior to starting her business and wanted to tie in her business to her blog. On her website, www.fabulouscommunications.com, you’ll find information about her marketing and writing consultations that specializes in digital and print media marketing, social media management and content strategy for businesses and health care.

In discussing social media, Erica explained the following:

Way back in the day before “social media” there was this thing called “word of mouth.” It’s how you learned about businesses, brands, products and services. Today, we post questions on our walls, search resumes on LinkedIn and interact with brands on Twitter. It’s different, but it’s the same. Social media has helped small businesses find their voices, and has allowed customers and potential customers to explore a brand before they try – or maintain a relationship once they are connected. For me, social media has let me do what I do best- interact and promote with other people via conversations. That’s what I enjoy the most. My husband and I met online in 2004 – before the explosion of social media, but I would surmise we would have connected on Facebook if we met today.

Parenting presents many joys and challenges.  Erica enjoys teaching her children new things, and watching them interact with one another. She mentioned that her “absolute favorite thing about being a parent is never being able to go to the bathroom alone. Who knew I spent 32 years not knowing the joy of having company while I go to the bathroom?”  This is something that many moms seem to discover!  A challenge for Erica is having patience with her children.  She wants to encourage her daughter to do things for herself, but at times it is hard to not do them for her.  Her advice to new parents is to encourage them to develop patience, as each stage of parenting presents different tests of patience.  Whether it’s dealing with an infant that cannot communicate with you besides crying or a toddler who takes forever to complete minor tasks or a teen who needs to learn from their own mistakes, patience is a characteristic of parenting that repeats throughout the ages of development.

The best advice about parenting Erica was given was about sleep schedules.  She said, “I had no idea how important sleep was, and while sleep training was difficult in the beginning, the payoff is SO worth the trouble. “

Erica enjoys taking her kids out on the weekends.  As a family they visit Sesame Place, the Please Touch Museum, and the Philadelphia Zoo.  They also really enjoy visiting the boardwalk.  Erica and her daughter are also fans of crafts and Play Doh!  Erica said, “my toddler loves driving us crazy, playing with dog food, and running away from us in parking lots. Oh yes, this is a fun stage :) My 4-month-old currently enjoys sleeping through the night, smiling and batting at toys on his playmat. Obviously, he is the easier of the two.”

Erica mentioned that she “hates cooking but it is a necessary evil… or is it? Here is my favorite recipe.”  Erica has a great sense of humor!  To relax Erica enjoys editing home movies, as she is a video editor by trade.  “I haven’t had time to do it in a while, but I love editing them to music, and creating non-traditional “home movies” that we all like to watch. I also love to exercise – and to just zone with music and sweat in a Spinning class or running in the park.”

You can catch up with Erica on her website, on her Facebook page, or on Twitter!

Thanks so much Erica for being a featured mama of the week!

 

 

 

Featured Mama of the Week: Jean Marie Keenan-Johnston


This week’s Featured Mama of the Week is Jean Marie Keenan-Johnston, a mom to two little girls; one is almost four years old and the other is two. Jean Marie was employed as an eighth grade teacher at a charter school until she became disabled and was later diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  This past spring, she was also diagnosed with breast cancer.  She blogs about her life experiences with her disability and illness at We Vow for Worse or for Worse, sharing what life is like living with disabilities.  Jean Marie was gracious enough to share her story with Mama’s Little Helper despite being a few weeks post double mastectomy surgery and just days post hernia repair surgery!  She is an amazing woman and mother, and this is her story, mostly in her own words.

 

Jean Marie Keenan-Johnston and her daughters

Jean Marie and her husband went from being newlyweds to expectant parents in a matter of days and were very happy about it!  Starting a family was very exciting for them.  They now have two beautiful little girls who both enjoy singing, dancing and music, playing dress up and being crafty with mom.  Sharing hobbies and interests with the girls is something that Jean Marie really enjoys about being a parent.  While she would encourage them to do whatever activity they found interesting, she loves that they both enjoy craft activities, even if the youngest isn’t quite ready developmentally to participate all the time.  Being a teacher and a mom helps Jean Marie in providing educationally appropriate activities for both girls.

Being a stay at home mom due to health reasons has also been a blessing.  Jean Marie is grateful to have time at home with her girls while they are young.  She said, “it may create lots of limitations for my family when it comes to income, but I prefer to look at it as a blessing since it gives me the opportunity to watch my children enjoy their childhood and reach each and every special milestone, something I would have missed out on if I was teaching other people’s children instead.”

Regarding handling challenges as a parent, Jean Marie shared the following:

Until recently, my greatest challenge was my disability, fibromyalgia.  I was diagnosed when my daughter was eight months old, over a year after my symptoms started during my first pregnancy.  Fibromyalgia took away a lot of my independence, endurance and stamina as well as qualities that made me the kind of teacher I was proud to be, such as excellent reading comprehension, grammar and spelling, a good memory, strong organizational and problem-solving skills, and the abilities to multi-task and quickly change my course of action when the need presented itself.  As a mom, I had to find ways to do things differently.  For example, diaper changes were done only in the living room to reduce the amount of lifting that needed to be done. When my oldest was 10 months old, I was no longer able to take her (and later her sister) out without help as I was unable to get her in and out of car seats, high chairs, or strollers without difficulty. I found I was only able to drive short distances from my home. My ability to do housework was greatly affected too, and many days cooking dinner was impossible.  So my husband and I had to find ways to work around my difficulties.  Unfortunately since my husband doesn’t know how to cook very much, we relied heavily on takeout or easy-to-prepare meals on the nights I couldn’t cook, but I did my best to be sure we had lots of healthy foods in the house to balance it out.  Routines were created to work around my limitations, and we had to rely on family, friends and other helpers to help get the girls and me out of the house for fun.  It was only recently that I was able to take my oldest out with me for easy errands because she’s now old enough to help get herself in and out of the car.

Once the cognitive dysfunction set in, I realized I couldn’t keep this condition to myself.  I was starting to upset newly found friends by misspeaking, and my memory problems were affecting my relationships as well.  I didn’t want to upset others by canceling plans with little explanation.  So I made a very difficult decision to share my condition with others so they knew all the personal faults that come with it and can understand why I need to say no so often as well as why I’m the sore, tired self I become after a very busy day with them.  Some activities put me out of commission for several days, so I had to figure out what I could do and what I needed to say no to in order to be able to care for my children afterwards.

This past spring, after dealing with fibromyalgia for about 3 1/2 years, I was diagnosed with Stage 3A breast cancer.  I’ve been hospitalized three times, had three surgeries and two transfusions, and completed six cycles of chemotherapy.  I still have two surgeries ahead of me as well as six weeks of radiation that will require daily trips to the hospital.  While my chemo is finished, I still need Herceptin treatments every three weeks that will be completed next May.  I’m also starting Tamoxifen in the coming months.  Cancer has been a huge hurdle for me as a parent.  I’m lucky enough to have a great support system.  My husband is a teacher, so he was able to be available the entire summer to accompany me on my treatment appointments.  When he wasn’t available, my father took me.  This was extremely important to me because chemotherapy caused my fibromyalgia to flare badly, affecting my ability to drive even more than usual.  My mother lived at our house for days on end to care for my children and help me get through the tougher days of side effects.  Friends and family took my children for full days of play date fun or they dropped off dinners for my culinary-challenged husband.  My Facebook page has been covered with supportive comments and prayers for my recovery as well as wishes of strength for my family to get through this!  I haven’t had one day that I felt alone during this journey! However no matter how many friends and loved ones tell me I need to put myself first in this fight, as a mother it’s been probably the toughest part of this fight!  I have a very strong caregiver personality which explains my desire to go into teaching as young as fifth grade.  This whole time I have been very concerned about how my children are getting through all of this.  Their very limited social life (due to my disability) seems even more reduced.  I’ve seen evidence of their difficulty dealing with my many “disappearances” due to treatments, surgeries and doctors’ appointments in their behavior.  My oldest is still having problems completing her potty training, and my youngest has had problems at different times with separation anxiety when I leave.  But we’re all just dealing with everything the best we can, one day at a time.  Cancer can impose stress on pretty much every aspect of life…financial stresses as we deal with greater medical expenses and the need for even more help than usual; fear of the unknown as I start each new step in the treatment process; physical and emotional stresses as we all deal with the side effects of treatment, whether it be me suffering the side effects, my husband acting as my caregiver while trying to work full-time and care for our children, or my children trying to figure out as a toddler and preschooler what’s going on with Mommy and why is she still too sick to spend time with us.  Those who care about me tell me everyone else is doing just fine and I should worry about me getting better, but I don’t know how to stop worrying about those I love.  I’ve fought for over four years to attain a balance with fibromyalgia, and I’ve been unsuccessful.  Having cancer isn’t going to just magically make “balance” appear.

My fight against both cancer and fibromyalgia is far from over, but I know I’m not in this alone!!!  I am forever grateful to my husband, my parents and other family, and my friends for all the endless love and support they’ve shown me!  They’ve done everything within their power to take away added stress so I can focus on winning the fight of my life.  And they’ve been working hard to give my girls the childhood they deserve despite the obstacles Mommy’s health has imposed.  I’m very blessed, and for that I’m thankful!

 

Jean Marie Keenan-Johnston

Through everything medically Jean Marie is dealing with, she is still parenting her daughters to grow into healthy, strong, and kind people.  She wants her daughters to understand the importance of standing strong for oneself.  Through everything she has experienced in the past four years she said she has “learned who my real friends are, I’ve learned how to be my own advocate when it comes to finding answers, and I’ve learned I have an inner strength I never knew I had.  I knew I was strong, but I don’t think I’ve ever known the true strength and optimism I was capable of until I really had to open my eyes wide enough to see it!  I want my daughters to see how hard I fought to be well so they can know how to do the same if their lives ever call for it.  And I want my daughters to also understand why I have shared my story with others, in the hopes of showing others they’re not alone in their fight!  Just as important, I want them to see how love helps pull you through tough times and how when you love someone you do your best to stand by their side and help them find the strength they need to overcome.  While I did have a huge support system while battling cancer, there were some who I never expected to completely disappear from my life.  I want my daughters to learn that’s not acceptable…you don’t do that for people you love who depend on you.  No matter how busy you are or how tough it may seem to remain strong for them, you stand strong by the side of your friends and family when they need you.”

Thank you Jean Marie, for sharing so much insight into parenting while dealing with disabilities and medical issues.  Mama’s Little Helper wishes you and your family well during your healing journey!

Jean Marie Keenan-Johnston and her family

 

Featured Mama of the Week: Jessica Mudrick


This week’s Featured Mama of the Week is Jessica Mudrick, a Realtor, owner of the blog Delaware County Moms, and mom to two amazing kids, Olivia, 8 and Ryan, 4.  Jessica’s kids both enjoy to doing arts and crafts, gymnastics, and playing baseball, by their own rules!  Jessica said, “Olivia loves to read and is  into fashion and Ryan is into cars, dinos & digging in the dirt.”  Watching her kids become their own people with their own opinions is Jessica’s favorite thing about being a parent.  She finds her kids to be very funny, keeping the family laughing all the time.  The challenges she faces as a parent are similar to most parents, dealing with keeping the kids’ rooms clean and talking back to mom and dad.  As parents, they set clear consequences for not following the house rules, but they also accept that they really do have great kids and having a messy room isn’t all that bad! Jessica also mentioned Respect is a big thing our home. We want our kids to respect us, teachers, each other and themselves. Respect is hard to teach, but we often ask how they would feel if we said or did X to them…we also try to respect them & let them have options and choices when possible.
Jessica is able to balance being a Realtor and a website owner around her children’s and husband’s schedules.  She is able to schedule office time during the day while her kids are at school and schedules appointments to show houses and meet clients in the evening or weekend when her husband is home.  She also is able to rely upon her neighbor or brother (who lives down the street) for childcare, in addition to friends and her in-laws.   Jessica’s website, Delaware County Moms, is a resource for parents in and around Delaware County to find fun activities, family deals and some awesome local giveaways.  She recently co-hosted an annual Philadelphia Costume Swap with Trina O’Boyle from O’boy Organic last Friday, which is a great event to check out next year to find and recycle Halloween Costumes!

Using Social Media tools, like Facebook, help stay connected!

To stay in touch with friends, or to connect with new clients, Jessica uses social media to help.  Facebook has been the most helpful for her, and she is starting to use Twitter more now that she knows other to connect with there.  Jessica mentioned that she finds she is most effective making connections on Facebook out of all the social media platforms.  It helps her share photos, view friends’ photos and remember birthdays easily. She also is able to post new house listings on her Facebook page, which is a big help with her business too.  The downfall of Facebook is how much time one spends on it without realizing it.  Jessica said, “But I really have to watch how much time I spend on it…because I can sit there for an hour and not realize it, so I am now very aware!”
Parenting is a fun and rewarding job for Jessica and she enjoys spending time exploring the world with her kids.  They visit the arboretum in their neighborhood where exploring the outdoors is fun for all.  They also live in a neighborhood filled with kids so there are always lots of playmates around to run around with or ride bikes.  Jessica works on instilling in her kids kindness and charity for others by setting examples of volunteering for Cradles to Crayons and Philabundance.  She likes to show her kids how to help others in the community, since there are so many struggling.  She said, “I feel that even I only help one person, that is one person whose life has been made easier and that makes me feel so great!”
Jessica shared a family favorite recipe with Mama’s Little Helper readers.  She said, “This is my Grandma’s recipe and she makes it every year for Christmas breakfast and if we can’t make it back to my home state of Ohio, I make it Christmas morning for my family.  It is also a great go to dinner because you make it the night before.”

Ham & Cheese Strada

  • Sliced Italian Bread (you can use any bread but heartier bread holds up better)
  • Ham
  • American cheese

Grease a pan and make sandwiches with bread, ham & cheese.  Mix 1 egg, ½ cup of milk per sandwich and add 1 tsp. of mustard (add more if you like mustard J) Take egg mixture and pour over sandwiches cover for at least 1 hour or overnight.  Cook @ 350 for 45 minutes to an hour.

We like to eat ours with fresh sliced tomato.

 

Thank you Jessica, for being a feature mama of the week on Mama’s Little Helper!

 

Jessica Mudrick, from DelcoPAMoms

Featured Mama of the week: Barb Hoyer


This week’s Featured Mama of the Week is Barb Hoyer, blogger at A Life in Balance and mom to five kids!  She has four sons, ages 15, 7, 5, and 3 and one daughter, age 4.  Her kids love to play with Legos and most days you’ll find their basement floor covered in those little bricks.  Barb loves to see the creative side come out of her kids and she encourages them to express themselves in creativity and through play. Her oldest son has developed into a wonderful writer and she is encouraging him to explore his talents in high school.  Barb herself has always needed a creative outlet, whether it be writing, photography, drawing, painting or knitting.

Family meetings held weekly are a great way to connect with the family!

Being the parent of five and running a household of seven people takes a lot of organization and comes with challenges.  Managing all of those people in one house, with all of the noise and mess, is difficult.  Barb mentioned that during this school year she plans to implement some changes at home to make life go more smoothly, especially with all of the activities the school year brings. Barb and her husband are planning to hold weekly family meetings during their Sunday night dinners when they know the family will all be together.  This is such a great idea for any size family!

Barb is currently a stay at home mom (SAHM) although she was also a working mom for a while in the past.  She said, “I’m a SAHM, though I did spend a year working on a Shaklee business. I became a SAHM when my oldest was about 4, and we decided I would homeschool him. When I was working, I worked in the fundraising offices of several nonprofits. My last gig was an Office Manager/Special Events Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania Library Development Office, my favorite job. My boss was fabulous and being a dad himself, very flexible about my working from home at times.  I love being a SAHM because my skills in running an office have translated to the home though it’s taken me awhile and 5 children to realize this.”

Barb’s blog, A Life in Balance is all about how she is working to keep balance in her and her family’s life. She mentioned regarding her blog, “No one has exactly the same situation as me, but they can identify with the issues I deal with whether it’s replacing an appliance or feeding a family while watching the grocery prices continue to rise and rise. I also want to discuss as a mom how to have a healthy balance in our lives and what that looks like. I want my readers to take what they like and leave the rest.”  Barb is an avid gardener too, and shares a great deal about gardening on her blog.  Barb shared her favorite family recipe with Mama’s Little Helper readers too: Chicken Parmesan.

Social media has become a resourceful tool for Barb, especially when talking on the phone can be challenging with five kids interrupting!  “I use Facebook and Twitter a lot for my blogging, and Facebook for connecting with my family and my husband’s family. I love both as social media tools and yet, I am mindful that they are tools. I think face time is just as important, and I also like to pick up the phone to chat with distant relatives from time to time. I tend to rely more on Facebook and Twitter right now because my kids have phone radar and always want my attention when I’m on the phone. I usually have to retreat into the bathroom (my Gibbs-style office) to have a conversation. Interruptions from the kids are not interruptions when I’m using social media.”

Teaching respect in a family of seven is very important, especially in regards to other’s toys, possessions and space.  With four kids sharing a bedroom, Barb found that using a combination of boundary setting with locking cabinets and gates, along with reinforcement of rules repeatedly helps. She mentioned that one of the first topics to be covered during family meetings will be formulating a written list of rules for the family and posting them publicly.

Having five kids means Barb’s received lots of tips and advice from others over the years regarding parenting.  She said “the best piece of advice was to pay attention to what might be affecting my kids when they misbehave. I can tell when they’re tired, and I will often suggest that they spend a little time by themselves until they’re ready to be with us again. For the really young ones, I make sure that they get the much needed nap to be their happy, bright selves again.  Barb’s advice to a new parent is “a baby can never be held too much. I used a Bjorn to carry my four young ones, and my oldest spent a lot of time in car seats or strollers. I think that level of touching between a mom and baby has made a huge difference in my children’s lives. If I could raise my oldest again, I would carry him a lot, have a family bed, and breastfeed him.”

Barb likes to spend her “alone time” walking.  She used to be a longer distance runner before being a parent and loved to run five miles at a time.  Currently her best walks are up to an hour long.  Pounding the pavement really helps her walk out things and de-stress.  She uses her cell phone and sends herself emails while walking if she thinks of things to do, that way she doesn’t risk forgetting a thought before she gets home.  Then she can move on to the nest issue.  What a great way to wind down!

Barb Hoyer from A Life in Balance

Thank you Barb, for being a featured mama of the week on Mama’s Little Helper!

 

Featured Mama of the Week: Paige Wolf


This author of Spit That Out! loves raising her family in Philadelphia

This week’s featured Mama of the week is Paige Wolf, mother of one cute two year old son and owner of Paige Wolf Media & Public Relations, which she has had for 10 years. Paige said,  ”in the past few years I have been fortunate enough to work with green and sustainable clientele.  Paige Wolf Media & Public Relations offers communications services to clients who contribute to a sustainable world and positive change. My clients range from national green beauty companies to local nonprofits to large community events.  In addition to that, I am the author of Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt and I blog at www.spitthatoutthebook.com about making green living more practical, manageable, and affordable.”

Paige utilizes social media.  She said, “I am addicted to Facebook and Twitter.  Someone once said, “Facebook is about who you know and Twitter is about who you want to know.” I think that’s very true and why both mediums are equally important.”

Regarding childcare, Paige shared that her son is now in preschool five days a week, which he loves. He started at 14 months going 3 days a week. Prior to that he was cared for by a part time nanny. Paige said that her husband is able to work from home some days as well, so they’ve managed to balance their time!

Paige’s son, Sam, loves to play outside in their tiny city garden, color, and generally make a mess.  She said she views her son as “a little mini version of yourself and your spouse that you created and how funny, smart, and adorable they are!”  Her current challenge as a parent is dealing with the terrible twos.  She said that she relies on other moms for advice and tries whatever works!  Paige and her family live in Philadelphia and love their neighborhood.  She said, “love having Seger Playground across the street! Also right by Whole Foods and my son’s preschool – it’s a regular loop around the neighborhood filled with familiar faces and wonderful city scenery mixed with plenty of green spaces!  We love the park, going to festivals and outdoor activities – there is always something to do in the city and it’s usually walking distance!”

In regards to feeding her family Paige mentioned “we get a CSA (community shared agriculture) share from a local farm delivered to the city. I love that it challenges us to try new and healthy things, and finding ways to incorporate all these fruits and veggies into our meals! Sometimes we do get stuck with something we hate – like beets – so we share them with the neighbors!”

Paige’s bookSpit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt, covers a wide range of parenting tips.  To sum it up, Paige’s advice to new parents is that just because your feel you can’t do everything does not mean that you should do nothing.  This applies not just to green living but various aspects of parenting including activities, quality time and so on.

Thank you, Paige for sharing a bit of your life with Mama’s Little Helper readers!

 

Paige Wolf, author of Spit That Out!

If you know a mom who you would like to see featured here, please email Diane@mamaslittlehelper.org.

Featured Mama of the Week: Amy Benninger from Lehigh Valley Little Ones


This week’s featured Mama of the week is Amy Benninger.  Amy is the owner of the website Lehigh Valley Little Ones/Lehigh Valley Family Fun, a great resource website for parents of kids in the Lehigh Valley Area.  Her website has an activities calendar, information about area parks, a community bulletin board, birthday party ideas, and seasonal activities, just to name a few.  Not only is it a great resource for families living in the Lehigh Valley, but it’s also a good place for Bucks County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia families to research ideas for day trips to the Lehigh Valley.

Family comes first to this Lehigh Valley Mama!

Besides authoring and managing her website, Amy is the mom to two kids, ages 7 and 4.  Her children love to swim and “just be kids!”  Amy enjoys being there for her kids accomplishments and supporting them when they fall.  One of her parenting challenges is staying focused and remaining calm.  She feels that she is “still a work in progress, but learning every day not to stress the small stuff in life.”  She focuses on remembering to prioritize what is important now and moving on from there.  A favorite place to pass the time is hanging out in the back yard watching her kids on the swing set.  Amy works hard at teaching her kids to respect the Golden Rule  She said, “we speak often about the “Golden Rule” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you don’t want some to do it to you…don’t do it to them. I have them repeat it all the time.”

Family time is very important to Amy.  Her advice to new parents is to put the computer and phone away during times with your kids.  She said, “I, myself, forget this rule all of the time. And my youngest reminds me frequently. They are so impressionable and they notice everything. Now is the time to show them you listen, care, understand.”  She also mentioned that the best parenting advice she ever received was to listen to other people’s advice and then do what you want!

Amy is a stay at home mom (SAHM) and has been since the winter of 2005.  She mentioned that she left her full time job because she couldn’t handle leaving her daughter at daycare anymore and she knew she wanted to be with her full time.  ”Prior to having children I was an Account Manager in the Direct Mail Industry. I am now the owner of a website resource – Lehigh Valley Little Ones.com. It is a FREE website resource for Parents, Grandparents, Caregivers or WHOMEVER to find stuff for their kids to do in the Lehigh Valley, PA & surrounding areas.”

Amy founded her website because in 2008 she was trying to sign her daughter up for ballet lessons and having trouble.  She said, “after being frustrated, I realized how awesome it would be if there was a centralized location of kids information for the Lehigh Valley area.  That is how Lehigh Valley Little Ones came into being. I love being my own boss and I love spreading the word about great programs for our LV kids! There are tons of great things out in the Lehigh Valley…I just want to help spread the word.”

Social Media helps Amy stay connected to her audience.

When asked about her use of social media, Amy replied that using social media has been a huge benefit for her website.  She said, “we have begun holding contests on our site – featuring prizes from local, Lehigh Valley companies.  Without social media, we would rely heavily on search engines. But social media has allowed us to talk to our Viewers and get their feedback. We have found that Facebook & Twitter have been our best outlets.”  You can find Lehigh Valley Little Ones on Facebook and Twitter, where parents can stay up to date with the weekly events and activities occurring in the Lehigh Valley.

So if you live in the Lehigh Valley area or are planning a visit, be sure to check out Lehigh Valley Little Ones and Lehigh Valley Family Fun!

 

Amy Benninger from Lehigh Valley Little Ones

Thank you Amy for being a Featured Mama of the Week on Mama’s Little Helper!

 

If you would like to nominate a mom to be featured here, please email Diane@mamaslittlehelper.org!

Featured Mama of the week: Kelly Raudenbush


This week’s featured Mama of the week is Kelly Raudenbush, who writes the blog Boy Girl Boy Girl Boy Girl.  She also has an adoption support blog, a small business/fair trade website, and a nonprofit, the Sparrow Fund.  Kelly is the mother to four children ages 9, 7, 5, and 2. The two year old girl was adopted from China in 2010.  Kelly mentioned that “parenting has been a challenge as our eldest has a myriad of disabilities and we’ve faced the world of IEPs and such head on. Parenting took on all new meaning when we decided to adopt from the special needs program in China (our youngest from China has a heart condition.)”

Kelly and her husband work on instilling certain values in their children.  She said, “we want our children to have hearts that break for that which breaks God’s heart. We desire our four children to be full of compassion, and we involve them in the work that we’re doing as much as we can so that they too can own our passion so that we can have one more child with a forever family and one less orphan in the world.”

Kelly helps support adoptive families in many ways!

When asked about her work status, Kelly stated that she calls herself a SAHM, but also plays an active part in a lot of different projects. She edits dissertations professionally from home and is the owner of a small business called Jiayin Designs. She said, “additionally, having had our lives and hearts changed through our journey of adoption, I facilitated and administrate a website and forum named We Are Grafted In and my husband and I recently founded a nonprofit called The Sparrow Fund to support adoptive families.  I always knew I wanted to be home with my children when they were young–this season goes so quickly and I didn’t want to miss it for things that I could do in another season of life. I feel like now I have found a great way to be home with my kids and serve them as much as possible while also nurturing my passion for learning and supporting families around me.”

Kelly described her businesses that she started.  She mentioned Jiayin Designs which “was started soon after we returned home from China with our daughter. After we were matched with our daughter and while we waited to travel, my parents, who teach English in China, gave me a silver charm hand cut with my daughter’s Chinese name on it. It became a precious treasure to me as we waited to bring her home and now a wonderful way to celebrate her history. With the help of one of my parents’ Beijing staff members, we launched Jiayin Designs to bless other adoptive families with the same treasure as well as other handmade items to help them incorporate and celebrate their child’s heritage as well as provide employment to Chinese artisans.”

Kelly further mentioned that “as we pressed on in our adoption journey, we found a real need for an online resource and forum for support and encouragement for adoptive families from a Christian worldview. We launched We Are Grafted In about 4 months after we came home with our daughter. About 230 posts and 140 contributors later, we have been able to offer real, honest, and beautiful pieces to support pre-adoptive and adoptive families.”

Kelly and her husband launched The Sparrow Fund in the Spring of 2011 to help support adoptive families.  They use funds for the purpose of giving grants to adoptive families specific for the use of pre-adoption support and counsel including medical reviews of children’s files, in-country support when they travel to bring their child home, and post-adoption support when they come home and are adjusting to their “new normal.”

Thank you Kelly, for sharing a bit about your life and these great adoption resources with Mama’s Little Helper!

The Raudenbush family

 

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