Dream Dinners 2019 Mother’s Day Contest Winners

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We’re excited to announce that we have six amazing women who are the lucky winners of our recent Mother’s Day contest! The moms who were nominated win, as well as the people who were sweet enough to nominate them. Thank you to everyone who entered. You warmed our hearts and inspired us with stories of some truly incredible moms. We’d like to share the winning stories to celebrate these super moms. Their entries are below, although fair warning: you might want to keep a box of tissues close by!

Kori S. – Beth

KoriMy sweet friend Beth is a working mom of three littles, all under the age of 4 including a set of twin 2 year olds. Her husband Mason is a police officer and in the Army Reserves. Several times throughout the year, he is gone for drill weekends and then for extended times during the summer. A couple of years ago Mason was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer and Beth was by his side, through his treatments. In the past few months, they have experienced three deaths in their family, within just a matter of weeks. Through it all, Beth has persevered with a smile on her face. She is the first one to come to the side of anyone who needs help, even if just a shoulder to cry on, but NEVER asks for help for herself. One of her coworker’s sons was diagnosed with cancer. Beth along with her coworkers have organized fundraiser after fundraiser to help alleviate the costs of the little boy’s treatments. Beth is just a genuine person who is a great friend! She deserves a break from having to prep meals. 🙂

Mickey G. – Maxine

MickeyAfter my daughter passed away we had to leave the Ronald McDonald house. I had separated from my husband during Miranda’s Leukemia and faced the harsh reality of being homeless. Our little van and the belongings within are all we had. My husband had stopped giving me money and locked us out of our house. It was so hard to face the loss of my daughter and feel my whole life come apart. As I drove feeling desperate and alone there was only one person to call – my mom. Her love and compassion were a lighthouse to our family. She took us in even though she lived in a tiny apartment with no extra rooms or beds. We camped out in her front room for nearly two months. It was me and my three kids taking over her only living space outside of her bedroom. She fed us and helped us through the most difficult days we had ever faced. Just weeks after Miranda passed away I was served divorce papers. My mom saw my estranged husband’s desire to have full custody and she took action. She had little money herself and few resources but she went and took out a loan and got money from a close friend. She told me I had to have an attorney. It was a tough divorce but because of her actions we were blessed and I was able to keep my children and I received alimony that I never would have received without an attorney. She protected us and changed the outcome of my trial by sacrificing with love. We moved out of her apartment and we paid her back the money she had borrowed on our behalf. But we can’t repay her for the love she gave us it is ours to keep eternally. For me there will never be enough expressions of gratitude for what she offered us during those months. I am grateful for who she is and how she loves.

Shanna S. – Julie

ShannaI would like to nominate Julie, a woman I admire. As a young, single mom of two children (Josh – a baby, and Brandi – a toddler), living in a one-bedroom apartment, Julie did not hesitate to take in her toddler nephew, Austin, who had a lot of medical issues and was in a full-body cast due to the poor choices of his own mother. Julie obtained custody of Austin and raised him as her own, treating him exactly the same as her own children. Eventually, Julie was pursued by Danny, but a relationship was not on her list of priorities when she had three little ones to care for. Danny was persistent and, in time, won Julie’s heart. Together, they built a life for the children, and brought a 4th one, Madelyn, into the world. Although money was tight and their 3 bedroom home was small, the children were always well taken care of and never went without necessities, and the home was filled with love. All of those children are now wonderful young adults beginning their own families, except Madelyn who is a teenager. In addition to raising such amazing young men and women, Julie was a second mom to many of her children’s friends, and kids in the neighborhood. Her home has always been open to anybody needing a good meal, a shoulder to cry on, or a helping hand. She is known as Mama Jules because she treats them all like they are her own children and has even taken in one or two kids when their home lives were terrible. No matter how rough or overwhelming things get for Julie, she always has a smile and a positive attitude and will never turn her back on somebody in need. She has such a huge heart and great compassion and love for people that is rarely seen in this world and I think she deserves to be recognized for her selfless, giving nature.

Congratulations to all of these amazing winners! These moms, and their love and compassion, are an inspiration. We applaud them for their kindness and courage.

Family Conversation Starters For Around the Dinner Table (and Elsewhere)

Family Dinner | September 18, 2011 | By

From Stacey Seybold Hiller, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist and Owner, Dream Dinners of Indianapolis, IN

Family setting the tableIf your family is like ours, you may work hard to create a family dinner time routine, or other family activity (“forced family fun” as our oldest calls it), and then realize that you are not sure what to talk about.  There are many resources in print and on the internet that have conversation starters for families.

Here are few:

  • What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
  • What cartoon character would you most like to be?  Why?
  • What is the hardest/best thing about being ___ years old?
  • Describe your all-time best day ever.

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New mothers, how to make a smooth return to work

If you decide to go back to work after having a child, give yourself time to adjust. It’s natural to miss your baby and even feel sad at times. Small steps like these can make it easier:

  • If possible, return gradually by slowly increasing the number of days you work per week.
  • Do some tasks at home during your maternity leave such as answering e-mails or online research.
  • Before you return, visit the office to catch up on company news and introduce your baby to your co-workers.
  • If you’re still nursing, talk to your employer about a private room where you and other new moms may be able to pump breast milk.
  • Allow at least two weeks to prepare for the time when you’ll first be away from your baby. You can start alternating breast and bottle feeding when your baby is three to four weeks old.
  • Try to find child care near your workplace and arrange to leave your child there once or twice before you start work. Ask the caregiver to feed the baby while you’re gone.
  • Get support from other working moms at your workplace or through organizations like the La Leche League (www.lalecheleague.org) or the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (www.hmhb.org).

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Women & Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women. Unfortunately, women’s heart attacks don’t always show the classic signs, such as chest pain. Watch for these signs:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Dizziness
  • Back and jaw pain
  • Heartburn that won’t go away

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Kids, Technology and Manners

Parenting & Kids | February 12, 2010 | By

As moms, teaching our children manners  is part of the job. Unfortunately, technology has changed the game – and Emily Post isn’t much help in 2010.

Example? Two of my four children (ages 15 and 13) have cell phones and Facebook accounts. (Our third doesn’t understand why she cannot have both, and our youngest is blissfully oblivious.)  Even though my older kids earned those “privileges” and lose them if certain expectations aren’t met, it’s tough for me as a mom to know how to integrate technology in an appropriate, respectful way in our family.

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Sneaking Nutrition into Kids’ Meals: Good or Bad Habit?

The other day I watched a TV commercial promoting a nutritional supplement drink. It starred a mom pushing it for her daughter, who wouldn’t “touch anything green”.

Those sorts of comments always stop me in my tracks. Is it optional for our kids to eat the healthy foods their bodies need? Is it a good habit to sneak nutrients into their meals? How far should we as moms go to make sure they eat what’s healthy for their growth and development?

I know and understand the dangers behind making kids eat everything on their plate.  Creating a power struggle or negative feelings about food can lead to all sorts of eating disorders and problems.  But I also know that most people — especially kids — have to see, smell and taste a new food multiple times before they are comfortable with it.

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Fast, Easy Breakfast Ideas

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Recipes | January 11, 2010 | By

Breakfast is mostly a cold-cereal affair at my house, especially during the weekdays. I wish it weren’t so! But my kids are old enough to be self-sufficient, so while they’re getting ready for school, I’m prepping for work. Tossing a box of something-or-other on the kitchen table with a jug of milk is about as fancy as I get.

So when I made homemade waffles last week, the kids were stunned. And then, stuffed! For once, I felt like the “good mom” I know I can be. (Wait—Bisquick does count as homemade, right?)

So, I have a plan. Get something fast, easy and healthy — that’s not cold cereal — on the breakfast table more often. I dredged through my rusty repertoire and came up with these ideas.

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5 Bad Habits for Moms to Break

Family Wellness | January 4, 2010 | By

Bad habits: we all have them. But when those habits involve our health – as so many do – it’s even more important to get them under control. Our well-being is what allows us to care for our families as well as model to our kids how to embrace a positive lifestyle. And, of course, our health is at stake!

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Dark Chocolate Takes the Bite Out of Stress

We love good news. And good news that involves chocolate is the best kind of all.

While you’ve no doubt heard that dark chocolate may be healthy for you, in a recent clinical trial, it actually reduced the stress of 30 people who ate it every day for two weeks. Not only that, it also positively impacted other stress-related biochemical imbalances.

Is it magic in a sweet morsel?

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Clean As You Go: Managing the Meal-Prep Mess

InTheKitchen_3The homey goodness of family life is most often nurtured in the kitchen. Here, we gather to savor delicious meals together and enjoy relationships that matter most important to us. Unfortunately, because the kitchen is Grand Central Station to both food and family, it’s one of the hardest areas to keep clean.

A chronically messy kitchen doesn’t promote peace and calm, and trying to cook among a clutter of dirty dishes is downright overwhelming – especially during the holidays. That’s when baking special cookies, preparing more elaborate meals and taking on other traditions can seriously undermine the cleanest of kitchens.

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