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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: 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.

Back to school with Wet Ones® Antibacterial Wipes….Review & Giveaway!


*******************Congrats to Amie!  Look out for an email!

Back to School time means germ exposure!

It’s back to school time, which means kids will be exposed to lots of germs.  A recent conversation I had with a few mothers and some former teachers centered around how to keep kids hands clean while at school and the lack of funding schools have to provide teachers with antibacterial gel or wipes and basic cleaner for the classroom desks.  The one mom and former teacher explained how she actually had to purchase her own surface cleaner to clean her classroom desks once a day herself, since the maintenance staff was so limited and the school’s budget did not include cleaning supplies (or even tissues!) for the classes.  Thankfully she was able to clean her classroom daily, but it made me wonder about just how clean schools, and kids, are especially with cold and flu season almost here.

Wet Ones® Antibacterial Wipes conducted a survey of parents and found that about 49% are concerned about their kids getting sick and 32% are concerned about their kids being exposed to germs.  These results seem to be similar to my personal conversations with parents about this subject of keeping kids healthy and clean.  Personally, I prefer that my child wash his hands with soap and water, but that isn’t always possible, especially while traveling or out on the playground.  I keep a canister of Wet Ones®Antibacterial Wipes in my car, along with a packet of them in my purse, for those situations when we just can’t get to a sink to wash up.  They are especially great for when my son has a snack in the car on a road trip or when we have an impromptu picnic at the playground.  While we also have hand sanitizer gel on hand, I prefer to use wipes for my son because they are good at wiping off the grime he seems to attract.  While they do contain alcohol, they don’t seem to sting the way some other antibacterial wipes I’ve had. which may be due to the aloe added to their formula.  My son and I both also love how the citrus scent smells.  I really can’t stand to wear fragrances, as I have terrible allergies, so I’m really picky about the scents of products we use.  The two scents, Fresh and Citrus, that Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes are available in both smell great and do not bother me.

Wet Ones® Antibacterial Wipes has teamed up with science educator Bill Nye to teach families about ways to avoid germs in a fun and interactive way.  Check out the Wet Ones Healthy Hands Zone to watch science experiments that you can recreate at home with your kids to learn more about germs.  I also found a page on the Wet Ones website written by Dr. Sears and lists 99 tips for back to school success.  I appreciate the advice written by Dr. Sears when my son was a baby and I found a number of great tips on this list, including some great tips about healthy breakfast ideas to start the day and other food tips for picky eaters.

Wet Ones® Wipes Giveaway!

Wet Ones® Antibacterial Wipes would like to give one reader of Mama’s Little Helper a prize package of Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes.

This prize pack includes:

One (1) Wet Ones® Hand Wipes Fresh Scent 40 count canister

One (1) Wet Ones® Hand Wipes Fresh Scent 24 count singles pack

One (1) Wet Ones® hand Wipes Fresh Scent 15 count travel pack

  • To enter, please comment on this blog post with your back-to-school-tip.  (Mandatory Entry!)
  • For an additional entry, Tweet about this giveaway.  You can use the following as an example or make up your own tweet, just be sure to leave your Twitter name in your comment. #Giveaway on Mama’s Little Helper with Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes for #back-to-school cleanliness! @mamasltlhelper http://ht.ly/6qgM7

This giveaway will end on Thursday September 15th at 11:00pm EST.   This giveaway is open to US residents only.  The winner will be contacted by email at the end of the contest and will have 24 hours to respond to the email with information regarding delivery of the prize.  In the event that the winner does not respond in 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen.  Only entries posted on this blog post will count as an official entry.

Energizer Personal Care is providing the prize(s) for this promotion at no cost to Mama’s Little Helper or this reviewer.  This promotion is not being administered or sponsored in any way by Energizer Personal Care or its affiliates, but solely by Mama’s Little Helper. Any questions or comments regarding this promotion must be sent to Mama’s Little Helper and not to Energizer Personal Care.  Mama’s Little Helper reserves the right to modify, suspend, or terminate this contest if the Promotion is removed by the web server or is otherwise compromised by illegal acts, electronic bots, etc.  The winner will receive the prize package in the mail, fulfilled by GolinHarris on behalf EPC.

Disclosure:  Mama Diane received a Wet Ones prize package for the purposes of this review.  No monetary or other compensation was received and opinions expressed here are honest.  I have a four year old boy who is frequently grimy and already used Wet Ones before being asked to do this review!

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

 

Mama’s Question of the week: What do you feed a picky eater?


For this week’s question of the week, Mama is wondering if any of MLH readers have any suggestions for what to feed picky eaters or how to handle picky eaters.  There are lots of strategies listed on various parenting websites.  What works for your picky eater?

On the Mayo Clinic’s website, they give some suggestions for dealing with picky eaters.  They include:

Respect your child’s appetite — or lack of one  If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack. Likewise, don’t bribe or force your child to eat certain foods or clean his or her plate. This might only ignite — or reinforce — a power struggle over food. In addition, your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration. Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming your child and give him or her the opportunity to independently ask for more.

Be patient with new foods  Young children often touch or smell new foods, and may even put tiny bits in their mouths and then take them back out again. Your child might need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she takes the first bite. Encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child’s favorite foods.

Make it fun  Serve broccoli and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods for dinner. Serve a variety of brightly colored foods.

Recruit your child’s help  At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. Don’t buy anything that you don’t want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table.

Don’t be a short-order cook  Preparing a separate meal for your child after he or she rejects the original meal might promote picky eating. Encourage your child to stay at the table for the designated mealtime — even if he or she doesn’t eat. Keep serving your child healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred.

Personally, I’ve tried all of these techniques with my picky eater.  The main thing that seemed to help was to stop preparing separate meals every night.  Most nights, he gets a version of what the adults are eating, minus a spicy sauce since he prefers things plain/un-sauced.  There are some occasions when I know he’ll absolutely not try the main course and I’ll make him something else, but that is a rarity.  The other thing that helps is modeling good eating habits.  He will often be curious about what the adults are eating and ask to try.  He would be perfectly content eating strawberries, blueberries, yogurt and ice cream all the time!  Watching us eat a variety of things sparks his curiosity. The third thing that helped was giving him his own cookbooks and letting him choose the recipes to make.  A friend gave him two Sesame Street cookbooks that are filled with mostly healthy recipes.  He loves to pick out new ones to try.  Some are hits, some are not, but he is part of the process and has fun with it.  While we are not cured of our picky eating, my son is more adventurous now.

So what works for your picky eaters?  Please share your suggestions in the comments!

 

Mama Diane

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!

 

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