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Featured Mama of the Week, Teresa H. Berger, author and mom


This week’s featured mama of the week is Teresa H. Berger, author of the book Mom’s Recipe and Activity Guide and mother to one awesome five year old girl.  She also blogs at Life. Suburban. Simple. where she shares tips regarding being green and more earth friendly.

Teresa is currently a SAHM and has always worked in some capacity since becoming a mother.  She has worked as a part-time freelance marketing consultant, full-time marketing director, and most recently full-time SAHM.  She is also a certified group fitness instructor and has taught pre/post natal fitness classes for women for about four years.  Teresa said, “I am a firm believer in maintaining a sense of self-worth when becoming a mother. I have struggled with that the last couple of years because I’ve worked less and less. I do enjoy being with my daughter and creating memories I could never have had the opportunity to had I been consistently working full-time. But at the same time, I’ve learned I need to allow myself “me” time to develop my skills, interests and passions. That is one reason I got certified as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, and why I’m currently training to run a 1/2 marathon in September.”

Parenting presents challenges, and Teresa shared some of the things that she deals with, including time management, which is an issue for her. She said, “even with one child, I’m still learning how to adjust and build in buffer time to account for her wardrobe changes or the random morning tantrum. As kids go from baby to toddler to elementary age and beyond, they still need you, their needs just change.”  She also mentioned that she has a hard time dealing with when she sees her daughter’s feelings get hurt at school or on the play ground.  Teresa mentioned that she is “learning that it is just a part of life but it gets me in the gut to see her hurting (or any child hurting because they’ve been called a name or treated poorly.)”

This Montgomery County mom & author helps fund raise for The National LeioMyoSarcoma Foundation

Teresa’s book, Mom’s Recipe and Activity Guide was written to celebrate her mother’s life, which was loss at the young age of 53 to LeioMyoSarcoma*, a rare form of cancer.  The book honors her memory of her mother and includes many family activities and recipes that kids can help make.  A portion of the proceeds for the book goes to The National LeioMyoSarcoma Foundation.  The book can be purchased through CreateSpace or via Amazon.  Teresa is also involved in fundraising efforts for LeioMyoSarcoma through a local walk.  She said, “the first Sunset Stroll for LMS was held in October 2010 in conjunction with the books efforts to raise awareness and funding for the NLMSF. We are planning a second Sunset Stroll for LMS in October 2012 (hoping to eventually make it an annual event.)”

*Leiomyosarcoma is a rare form of cancer, which affects about four people in every million. It spreads through the blood stream and can affect the lungs, liver, blood vessels or any other soft tissue in the body. Presently there is no cure, only remission if it can be attained, and this rare cancer can reappear anywhere and at any time. Because of its rarity, few doctors know how to treat it and it attracts little research.  From http://www.nlmsf.org/

A great recipe from Mom’s Recipe and Activity Guide:

Teresa shared one of her favorite cookie recipes from her book, Rainy Day Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. They are an easy recipe kids can absolutely help with making.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

• 1 cup butter

• ¾ cup packed brown sugar

• ¾ cup sugar

• 2 eggs

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1½ cups all-purpose flour

• 2-3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (optional—omit if anyone at home has a peanut allergy or if you are sharing with friends/classmates)

• ½ cup flaxseed (good source of vitamin B, protein, and zinc)

• 2 cups rolled oats

• 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

 

In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Add eggs and mix thoroughly. Combine the baking soda, salt, flour, peanut butter and flax seed and stir into creamed mixture. Add oats and chocolate chips and stir until well blended. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Makes about 24.

Teresa uses social media to build and maintain relationships and to stay in touch with family from afar. She said, “I try not to spend too much time on it, because I don’t want to get carried away from my first priority – family. Social media has helped me grow professional relationships and friendships. It’s also afforded me the opportunity to stay on top of what’s going on in the world.”  You can find Teresa on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with her book and her latest project, her second book!  She is also pursuing options to make her current book into an e-reader format!

Teresa takes advantage of living in a great part of Montgomery County that has a wonderful park, Alverthorpe Park.  She said, “it’s got something for families with kids of all ages and because it’s a township park it has summer camps for kids throughout the season. My daughter just took a week-long golf basics camp there and it was so fun.”

Thanks Teresa, for sharing a bit about your life with Mama’s Little Helper’s readers!

 

Mama’s question of the week: What’s on your summer reading list?


What’s on your summer reading list?

For some reason I always associate summer with reading.  Maybe the pile of beach books I collect all winter and save, or that there is more time to relax in the summer with a good book.  Currently I’m reading the Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins.  They are quick reads, perfect for a beach, by the pool, or in the backyard while the kids are playing.  I noticed in the bookstore the other day that the tables are covered with assigned books for summer reading for school kids.  Growing up we never had assigned summer reading in my schools, but I see why it is helpful for kids.  Local libraries often have fun summer reading programs for kids and adults, often with incentives to participate, like raffles for prizes.

On my to-read list for the summer, after the Hunger Games trilogy, is:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird (A classic that I’ve never read for some reason)
  • Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

I use the Goodreads website to keep track of books I’ve read, books I want to read and to find recommendations for new books that I haven’t discovered.  I swap books with a small group of friends so that I always have something new to read.  If I don’t buy a book new or borrow one from the library, I often buy used ones from book sales at the library or the Original Book Swap shop in Horsham.

 

So what is on your summer reading list?  Any recommendations?

Mama’s Question of the week: children’s books


Reading to children, even at the youngest ages, is a wonderful way to bond with them along with teaching them to enjoy all the benefits of reading.  Favorite books change as children grow, although sometimes there are family favorites that last despite the child’s age.  What are some of your family’s favorite books to read or favorite author of children’s books?  Please join in the discussion by commenting below!

At our house, anything by Sandra Boynton is a favorite, especially the Going to Bed Book and Hippos Go Berserk.  We never tire of those two.  Another favorite author is Mo Willems, who’s pigeon series and Knuffle Bunny books are keepers.  A third favorite, which is just a silly story, is New Socks by Bob Shea.  My son received this book as a gift and we crack up every time we read it.  Books are the one thing I never hesitate to buy my son as a gift, since they bring us such pleasure.  We also enjoy visiting our local library to discover new books.  The ones that we keep borrowing over and over I end up buying for our personal library.  I hope my son always enjoys reading as he grows up!

 

Do you have a question that you’d like to see asked here?  Please email it to Diane@mamaslittlehelper.org

The Anybook, a great holiday gift idea for preschoolers


My son adores reading stories and being read to by anyone willing.  We read to him at least twice a day, before nap and before bedtime.  He has amassed quite a library of books, mostly because I am a big fan of books, particularly picture books.  (I’ve been buying them since we got married whenever we went anywhere special, so he already had a collection before he was born.)  He now recognizes logos of brands and can “read” them to us, as well as recognize the alphabet, but he isn’t reading books on his own yet.  He does enjoy looking through books and pretends to read them, especially ones he has memorized.

Recently we started using the Anybook device in addition to his story times.  This is a small electronic gadget that is shaped like a bulky pen or marker. The Anybook is a new gadget by Franklin Discover and is used by a reader, such as mom or dad, to record a book in your own voice.  The child can then use the device like a speaker to listen to the story, even when playing alone.  The Anybook uses stickers on each page that activate the recording on that page.  The Anybook works with every book in your personal library!  The gadget we are using is the Anybook DRP-4000, which holds up to 60 hours of recordings.  It can also delete books as needed, once the 60 hour threshold is met, so it can be enjoyed for years.  It runs on two AAA batteries and does not require software or a computer to use.  Unlike some of the other reading gadgets on the market for kids that I’ve investigated, the Anybook does not need special books to go with it.  As its name implies, it can be used with anybook in your personal library!

I started first with a short board book, one of my favorites, Chicka Chicka abc.  After putting a small circle sticker on each page, I then used the Anybook’s record mode to record my voice reading the words on each page, while touching the sticker on that page with the device.  I recorded each page of the book and then was able to play back each page by touching each sticker.  It was that simple!  I was surprised by several things: how I sound during playback, how important enunciation is, and how amazing this gadget is!  I did have to re-record two of the pages because I thought they sounded a bit muffled, but once I figured out how far away to hold the device from my mouth, it turned out great! (Speaking directly into it seemed to be too close, so holding it down a few inches from my mouth, similar to how one holds a microphone, seemed to do the trick in improving my recording quality.)

The stickers that come with the Anybook are the key to making it work.  They use a unique code, which seems like magic to me, to recognize the assigned recording for each page of the book.  They are about a half inch sized circle and the ones that came with my Anybook are white.  The Anybook sticker pack has approximately 400 recordable stickers and also includes four sheets of stickers that are pre-recorded with sounds, such as a train, a child laughing, clapping hands, a phone ringing, as well as some animal sounds.  There are also two sheets of faces stickers representing moms and dads, grandparents, and brothers and sisters.  These stickers can be recorded, so for the mom one I recorded my voice saying “Mommy.”  I will place this mommy sticker on the front of the books I read, and my husband or parents can use the other stickers for when they record their books.  The stickers can be removed from a book and re-used.  I was able to peel the sticker and move it quite easily when I realized I wanted to move a sticker to another spot on the page.  If the stickers can be used in other books and re-recorded over, so to speak, so until the sticky part stops sticking, they are reusable.  Additional sticker packs are available for purchase from the manufacturer.

To say that my son liked “reading” his book with Anybook is an understatement.  He kept asking me if the voice was me and went through the book several times in a row.  It was very exciting to him to hear his mom read to him through this gadget.  I later recorded a second book; A is for Angry, by Sandra Boynton, a favorite author of ours.  He enjoyed reading and using the Anybook reader gadget just as much.  With this book, I even added a few things to the recordings, the way I add extras when I read, such as asking him to recite the alphabet at the end of the story.  I also used the Mommy sticker on the front and included a personalized greeting with the title of the book.

The Anybook by Franklin Discover is sure to be a hit this holiday season.  I am going to recommend it to a friend of mine whose daughter adores reading so much she would be happy to be read to all day.  This is the perfect gadget for a family with a parent that travels or is in the military.  What a great way to be there for a child by being able to read a story to them even when you can’t be there in person.  I am planning to have my husband record a few books for my son so that when he is away on his next business trip or even just at work during the day, my son can listen to daddy read to him.  I also am hoping to have my son’s grandparent’s record a book so that we have their voices recorded for him.  With it being so easy to use, a book can be recorded in just a few minutes more than it takes to read it.

Disclosure:  I was provided with a complimentary Anybook gadget and stickers set for the purpose of this review.  The opinions and experience expressed here are honest and my own!

Mama Diane

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