Spring has Sprung. Get Outside for Learning and Fun!

By: Martianne Stanger

It was a long, cold winter.  Now spring is finally here!  So, put away the coats and snow boots and break out the daypacks.  It is time to get outside to take advantage of lots of hands-on learning and fun.

Five favorite things we already have on our May calendar as possibilities are:

1. Exploring habitats with friends at Pratt Farm in Middleboro.

Martianne1

We have plans to spend four afternoons walking there to explore the woodlands, field and streamsk, as well as to create environmental art or structures out of fallen logs.  Perhaps there is a trail near you where you could do similarly.

2. Enjoying the 3rd annual Police Services Day on Saturday, May 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Plymouth Public Library. 

police day riot gear

Last year the kids thoroughly enjoyed petting the police horses, watching the police dog demonstrations, climbing on and in all sorts of police vehicles, trying on riot gear and more at this fabulous free event.  We look forward to more of the same this year!

3. Climbing on vehicles at the 9th annual DPW Day on Thursday, May 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Plymouth Public Library. 

dpw day

What child doesn’t love scaling tall construction vehicles, pretending to drive and collecting freebies?  I know mine love these activities every year!

4. Visiting Coggeshell Farm Musuem

We’ve never been before and are looking forward to seeing this living history farm set on 48 acres in Bristol, Rhode Island with friends.  We’ve heard awesome things about how the place brings Bristol’s agrarian society in the year 1799 to life through live interpretation, historic structures, and heirloom plants and animals.

5. Overcoming Mom’s Black Thumb

Every year we say we’ll plant a produce garden.  Some years life’s pace precludes our efforts.  Other years, my black thumb destroys them.  This year, we hope to change all that and already have a few seedlings going on the front window sill.

What outdoor fun and experiential learning does May hold for you and yours?

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Where Will They Be?

By: Heather Desmond O’Neill

As part of my job, I’m constantly asking teenagers what their vision is for their future.  It’s a bit overwhelming to be 14 years old, sitting at a table full of adults – some you know, some you don’t – and have to answer a question about what you want to do for the rest of your life.

I find myself thinking about what my boys will be like.  If you were to ask me today where I thought they’d be in 5-10 years, I’d tell you, “Hopefully in one piece.”  The way things go in my house – the Jimmy SuperFly Snuka Splash from the couch or the Evel Knievel style jumps in the driveway – I’m hoping they will have all of their limbs and still be able to form complete sentences.

At their ages now, they will still be in middle/high school in 10 years.  But what about 20, 30 years from now?  Where will they be?

MoneyChances are, they will be in debt.

Much like their parents.

How did we get this way?  School loans, car payments, mortgage payments, credit card bills.

My husband and I both work.  We cannot survive otherwise.  Most of the families I know have two working parents. Not because they want to, but because they have to.  In addition to the above-mentioned bills, they also need to secure childcare.  If they’re not paying for daycare, they are paying for pre-school, full-day kindergarten or even private school.

Those who are fortunate enough not to have exorbitant daycare costs, often work opposite shifts.  This is how our family gets by.  I often joke with people that my husband and I have a great marriage … we never see each other, so we never fight!

Many of our friends, ourselves included, struggle to meet the demands of the monthly bills.  It’s terrifying and exhausting to crunch the numbers each month and figure out what’s left for us to save and/or spend for the little “extras” I always want my boys to have.  Some months there is nothing left.  Others we come up short. The months when we actually feel like we have gotten ahead are rare.

I can’t predict the future.  But I do know that my children will most likely have school loans, mortgage/rent payments and a car payment.

I want better for my boys.  I want them to feel as financially secure as they feel loved by us.  My vision for them is that they go to a reputable college, earn a degree where they can both earn enough financially to live the lifestyle they choose and be happy.

I don’t know how or if they will get there, but I do know that my husband and I will do whatever it takes to make this vision a reality.  We’re sacrificing now so that they can.  I just wish it wasn’t so damn hard.

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Prom Safety Tips

By: Alison Puzia, Guest Contributor

With spring comes prom, for many high schoolers. Moms, this thought may have you cringing as you flashback to your own prom experience. If you’re concerned about your teen’s safety at prom, read on! We have compiled a list of tips to help you help your teen have a safe, memorable prom experience.

Prom1. Host the after-party

If the after-party is at your house, you can keep an eye on what’s going on. We suggest making it a sleepover event, to ensure that no one is driving late at night. The students at your house may not be drinking, but there’s no guarantee that other drivers on the road made the same decision.

2. Meet the date

You’ll feel a lot better sending your teen off to prom if you’ve met his or her date. Invite your child’s over for dinner the week before- it’s a casual way to familiarize yourself with him or her and confirm that your student picked a good one!

3. Endorse spray tans

Many girls get their first tanning bed salon membership right before prom season, to prep for the event. In Massachusetts, tanners between the ages of 14 and 17 must have a parent or guardian sign a permission form to tan. Don’t be afraid to say no. We all know the facts about how damaging UV rays can be to skin, and the correlation with melanoma. Instead, offer to pay for your daughter to get a spray tan- a safe alternative that will leave her looking just as bronze as the other girls.

4. Get a limo, party bus, or older sibling to drive

Getting a limo or party bus not only prevents students from drinking and driving, but it’s a cool way for them to arrive to prom. Many reputable limo and party bus companies ban alcohol on board, so you won’t have to worry about your child drinking. If that’s not in the budget this year, ask an older sibling to drive. Your high schooler won’t mind (it’s not like they’re being driven to prom by their parents!) and you will be assured that your teen isn’t in the car with someone who has been drinking.

5. Know the group and the plan

Make sure you know who your teen is going to the prom with, including who is in his or her group. Stay up to date on the plan- know where the group will be taking pictures beforehand, eating dinner, and going afterward. If these events aren’t at your house, don’t hesitate to call the parents who are hosting. It’s completely normal and encouraged – despite what your teen may tell you.

  1. Give your teen cash beforehand

Make sure your high schooler has enough cash on him to take a cab home in the event that his or her driver has been drinking. Along the same vein, make sure that your child has the number of a reputable cab company saved in their cellphone.

7. Know all of the school’s prom-related, drug-related, and alcohol-related policies

If you know the school’s policies, you’ll be able to explain them to your teen. Of course, they will have heard all of this information from the school, but you will be able to illustrate exactly how it will affect them. For instance, if your senior has a college scholarship, you can remind him that he can easily lose it if he gets an underage drinking citation.

8. Warn your teen not to leave items unattended

If someone else is drinking and doesn’t want to be caught with the evidence, it would be very easy for him to slip it into an unattended purse. Don’t let this happen to your high schooler. Even if he or she hasn’t been drinking, possession of alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal in Massachusetts.

9. Talk to your kids

This one is the most important. Make sure your children know that they can feel safe coming to you if they are in a difficult situation on prom night. Whether it is calling for a sober ride home or checking in to ask for advice on saying no to alcohol, your teen should feel comfortable coming to you. If they know you won’t get mad at them if they come to you, they will be much more likely to ask for help before they get into actual trouble.

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Lemon Chicken Soup

By: Tanya Pimental

Spring is technically here, but alas it was twenty degrees when the kids let for school this morning.  Temperatures like that make me crave soup. With plans to grocery shop already on my agenda, I started to think about putting something together that wasn’t full on winter comfort food, but would fill our bellies with warmth.  This soup is a great way to transition from winter to spring. I even have high hopes for the left-overs tomorrow.

dutch oven

 

Ingredients:

  • 64 oz. low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4 lemons
  • 1 small vidalia onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1.5 cups long grain rice
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper

ingredients

I started out by bringing the chicken broth to a boil and added the chicken. Salt and pepper. I boiled it until done, which was about 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, I roasted the garlic in the oven at 375 degrees, covered in olive oil.

Remove the chicken and reduce the broth to low heat, and add in the diced carrots and onion.  Mash the garlic and add it to the pot as well with ½ cup of lemon juice. Add 1.5 cups of long grain rice. Let the chicken rest and cool while you simmer the broth for another 30 minutes to cook the rice and veggies. Shred up the chicken and add back to the soup, and toss in the baby spinach.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs and ½ cup of lemon juice. Add a little bit of the hot broth to the egg/lemon mixture slowly so it warms the egg/lemon but doesn’t cook the eggs. Then add the egg/lemon mixture very slowly while stirring it into the broth, keeping it off the heat. Mix well. 

If the soup is too thick, thin by adding water or additional broth.  I did have to add an extra cup of water to mine.

Serve with warm, crusty bread and enjoy!

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A Rocking Good Birthday Party

By: Heather Desmond O’Neill 

“Mama, I want to have a rock star birthday party!” says my soon-to-be six-year-old.

I guess it would be a nice change from the Gymnastics place where everyone seems to be having his or her parties (including us, last year).

There is a small hall not far from where we live that would be perfect. There’s no way I could fit kids and their parents in our home. AND…The hall rental was much cheaper than the gymnastics place…#winning!

So we made it happen. And the kids … and parents … had a ball!

I asked the kids to dress up in their best “Rock Star”attire. We set up a red carpet, so as the kids entered the party they “walked the walk” to a photo area that my mom had decorated and littered with boas and sunglasses. (It pays to have a mom who used to own a dance studio). Check out Elvis as he struts his stuff.

Elvis

Once the kids had their pictures taken they ran to the center of the dance floor to a drumming circle. Kids began playing their own rhythms, and smiles and laughter quickly ensued.

Red carpet

IMG_8443

Red carpet

Family is a great resource to lean on. My sister-in-law is a music teacher and led the little musicians in lessons in dynamics, musicality and timing …. Although, I think they were just really happy to bang the drums as hard as they could. She then brought out Boom Whacker sticks and we had about 25 kids running around whacking these musical sticks on the floor. There was pure joy from the 6-year-old boys who were told it was ok to bang drums, whack sticks and run around. What’s better than that?

Drumming

 

Party

An extended family member, Uncle Pags (i.e. Rob Pagnano and his side-kick Chris Barone of Six Foot Sunday), were on hand to play for the kids and adults (it was so great to finally break away from the Frozen soundtrack). I think this was the part that the parents liked best.

The cake

We fed the kiddies pizza, cake and ice cream, printed out their rock star pictures (the VuPoint Solutions Photo Cube is amazing) and gave them inflatable guitars to rock out at home with. All in all, the Rock Star birthday party was a success!

Birthday party

Before going to bed that night, my exhausted, overjoyed, newly six-year-old said through half opened eyes, “Mama I loved my party, I just wish it didn’t go by so fast.”

The best things in life always do.

Posted in Events, Mommy Advice, Family, Heather Desmond O'Neill | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Attention Area Moms: Here’s Your Chance to Become a Signature Mommy Blogger!

Signature Moms

We’re excited to announce that we’re sponsoring another Signature Moms Blog Contest! All mothers in the South Shore area of Massachusetts are invited to enter from April 2, 2014 to May 1, 2014. The contest will culminate with four or five moms winning $250 each. Selected moms will join Sandy Churchill, Anne Marie Holloway, Janice Johnson-Plumer, Heather Desmond O’Neill, Tanya Pimental, Martianne Stanger, and Rachel Ventura as featured bloggers on the Signature Moms Blog.

The Signature Moms Blog has an active subscriber base of more than 3,400 followers, and in just over three years has seen over 150,000 visitors checking out local, mom-specific posts from featured area bloggers selected from similar contests. In that time, the blog received several awards from leading healthcare organizations such as the New England Society for Healthcare Communications and the Healthcare Advertising Awards.

To enter the contest, visit Signature Healthcare’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/MySignatureCare and become a fan by clicking the Like button. Upload a video or post a short essay on why you’d be a great mommy blogger. If your post is persuasive – whether it’s funny, touching or engaging, you could be one of four area moms selected for a $250 prize and the opportunity to become a Signature Moms featured blogger.

Each featured blogger will be asked to write two posts a month. The topics will vary greatly, depending on the personalities of the bloggers and their range of daily experiences in the community. Some of their blog posts will come in the form of video posts. The bloggers will meet in person quarterly at ‘blogger brunches’ to share ideas and brainstorm upcoming topics.

Make sure to visit us on our Facebook page and leave us a message on the Wall stating why you think you’d be a terrific mommy blogger – and you could win!

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Spring Break 2014

By: Alison Puzia, Guest Contributor

sandSpring break is almost here! If you want to stay in the area, but still do something fun with the kids, check out these awesome mini-trip and staycation ideas!

1. Visit Mystic, CT

Take a day trip or spend a long weekend in Mystic, CT. It may be too cold to enjoy the ocean, but it is always fun to take a walk down the beach, no matter the weather. If you prefer to stay indoors, there are lots of fun family friendly activities in the area, like the Mystic Aquarium.

http://www.mysticseaport.org/

2. Explore Boston

The Boston CityPASS includes admission to 5 Boston hot spots- the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Skywalk Observatory, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and your choice of either the Harvard Museum of Natural History or the Old State House. The pass is valid for 9 days, so you and your family will have the luxury of being able to take your time and really get to know the city.

http://www.citypass.com/boston

3. Discover the witches of Salem

In Salem, you will have your pick of museums dedicated to the Salem witch trials. Explore Massachusetts’ spooky side with your family, while learning a little more about our state’s history.

http://www.trekaroo.com/places/northeast-massachusetts-salem-massachusetts/activities

4. Take a long weekend on Cape Cod

The Bayside Resort Hotel offers tons of Spring Break fun! The kids will never be bored as there are tons of family-friendly activities hosted by the resort. Karaoke parties, ice cream socials, Wii video game tournaments, and scavenger hunts are just a few ways for your kids to spend their time on Cape Cod.

http://www.baysideresort.com/cape-cod-hotels-resorts/connecticut-ct-spring-break-family-packages

5. Take a tour of the Newport mansions

Guided tours of several of the mansions of Bellevue Avenue are the perfect way to explore the social, landscape and architectural history of the area. Your kids will be amazed with these properties. Plan your visit today.

http://www.newportmansions.org/

6. Spend the weekend at Smugglers’ Notch Inn

Explore scenic Vermont at this beautiful inn. Enjoy horseback riding and llama treks, hiking, rock climbing and other outdoor activities the whole family will enjoy!

http://www.smuggsinn.com/index.htm

7. Visit our nation’s first town

Plymouth, MA is full of historical, kid-friendly attractions your whole family will love. Visit the beautiful Plymouth Plantation or spend time touring the Mayflower II. This trip will get your kids excited about their nation’s history.

http://www.plimoth.org/what-see-do/mayflower-ii

Does your family already have Spring Break plans? Tell us about them!

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