Invitation to Book Clubs

June 15, 2015 by ldecesare

An Invitation to Book Clubs | MothersCircle.netAs I work on the second in the Naked Parenting series, I have an invitation to book clubs out there!

If your book club chooses to read Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence, I would love to join you for your discussion either in person locally or via a Skype call.

So if you’re interested, share this invitation to book clubs with your group and let me know. I love to talk with moms, parents, and families about parenting issues, you can even weigh in on what topics you’d like me to cover in upcoming Naked Parenting books.

Discussing things we face in this amazing and challenging job as parents can be encouraging, helpful, and can offer new ideas and tools to try in our own homes.

I hope you’ll consider my invitation and get in touch with me, either in the comments below or contact me here.

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Still Building Hope

May 18, 2015 by ldecesare

Kampala Children's Centre for Hope and Wellness still Building Hope | MothersCircle.netOne year ago, there was no medical center there. Today, brick by brick, the walls rise with hope.

Tonight is the big event celebrating that progress with some of the children it will benefit! There is no way to meet these kids and not fall completely in love like our family has. We’ve been enjoying two weeks with four kids and the choir director living with us. We’re all concocting ways for them to stay here longer, none of us are ready to say good-bye.

If you’re in Rhode Island, please join us tonight to celebrate this project with a special performance by The Destiny Africa Children’s Choir. See the progress on the center, meet these amazing children and be

Hannah being teacher for the day with Mrs. Ratigan.

Hannah being teacher for the day with Mrs. Ratigan.

inspired by their performance. I cannot wait to hear those drums echoing off the water in the Newport harbor. If you life afar – you can still help by making a donation.

Click here to join us tonight because we’re still building hope. It’s worth the trip over two bridges and staying out on a school night!
6:30 pm | Newport Yachting Center | 4 Commercial Wharf, Newport, RI

Last year, we rallied and raised $82,000 to build the Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness, a medical clinic with lab, dentistry, preventive care, education, immunizations, and pharmacy. The center will serve the children and staff at The Kampala Children’s Centre in Uganda and the surrounding community. The Hope Centre website has more details.

Donations are still needed to add water and solar power. Help us get to the $17,000 goal by donating – your gifts are life-giving and more meaningful than we can even imagine! Thank you!

Claire, Percy and Susan at New England Tech for an anatomy lesson for these future nurses and doctors.

Claire, Percy and Susan at New England Tech for an anatomy lesson for these future nurses and doctors.

For the last two weeks, we’ve laughed, played, swam, eaten meals and prayed together and we’re not ready to see them go tomorrow. Thankfully, they’ll still be in the northeast through July so we’ll be hugging them again soon before they head home. You can keep up on their concert schedule on the Destiny Africa website.

See you tonight under the tents in Newport!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Mother’s Day Wishes and Wisdom

May 3, 2015 by ldecesare

Mother's Day Round Up of inspiring, encouraging, funny posts for moms | MothersCircle.net
Happy Mother’s Day! This is our time of year, moms! Celebrate yourself and the hard work you do all year for your family.

This is the hardest job you’ll ever love. Remember to care for yourself as you’re caring for your kids and give yourself a break. Be kind and loving to yourself and put your priorities on the to do list, too.

Here’s a round up of Mother’s Day Wishes and Wisdom, my favorite inspiring, funny, and encouraging posts for you to enjoy.

Put your feet up, have someone bring you a cup of something cozy and warm, and take some time for you.

Thanks for joining the Mother’s Circle.

Happy Mother’s Day!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Is Your Child Safe From These 3 Dangers?

April 13, 2015 by ldecesare

Keep your child safe from these 3 dangers | MothersCircle.netI am not an alarmist, or a worrier, or overprotective, but I’m aware. I feel like being aware of dangers can help us take precautions and be mindful as we parent.

Being conscious of these three dangers can help us keep our children, and other children, safe. The stories of those effected by these dangers make me so sad for the families who have suffered losses.

Even when my kids were little, I tried to give them space to learn and test their limits at different ages of development, but it’s always important to be smart and alert to possible dangers. Being mindful without being petrified is a healthy approach. (Here are three playground rules for parents that delve into this idea.)

I’m linking to the stories shared by parents who have experienced these dangers and who want to spread the word to help other families avoid their pain.

You very likely have heard about the need to safety proof your house including attaching dressers to walls and securing curtain cords, but have you actually taken measures to ensure your children can’t topple the furniture or strangle in the cords? You certainly are on alert for drowning at the beach, but do you consider the holes in the sand? It’s a favorite beach activity for our family, and being conscious of this possible hazard, we’ve changed how we play at the beach, and still have plenty of fun, even with holes, but holes that are safer.

When Michael was in preschool, he pulled a bookshelf over on himself. We were lucky. We were in the room beside the playroom, we heard the crashing and came running. We were lucky because the bookshelves were light and had no back so that nothing hit him and we found him standing with the shelves framing him and books everywhere. We were lucky.

After that, we always secured the large furniture to the walls until they were much older. In fact, that same book shelf is in Anna’s room now, and even though she’s almost 11, it’s still secured to the wall. It’s a small, simple thing to do that required little and was done from a place of education and common sense safety precautions, not from hysteria. I have worked with families that are overly worried and their fear effect their children.

There have been so many tragic stories that parents have started the Parents For Window Blind Safety organization to educate parents. Since 1986, 571 cases of strangulation have been reported in the United States. According to USCPSC, 49% of window covering strangulations go unreported.

To prevent the dangers to children, they advise going cordless and recommend these window coverings to keep kids safe.

This story of a dresser accident killing their daughter is heartbreaking beyond imagination. Could it happen to you? Might it never happen? Yes, and yes. But the term “better safe than sorry” is filled with truth. Take the time to secure furniture in any room where a child might be left unattended for any length of time.

Sand holes are another danger that may not be on top of parents’ minds when they’re at the beach. This family got extremely lucky, it’s an incredible story you can read here.

These are four recommendations she has to keep your kids safe when digging in the sand:

“1 – When you arrive at the beach, always check nearby for any holes left by others, and fill them in.
2 – Do not dig holes any deeper than knee-high of the shortest person in your group. Yeah, I know this sounds extreme. If this feels more extreme than your group can accommodate, then perhaps you can at least stop at waist-high.
3 – If you do dig holes, fill them in before you leave.
4 – Make sure any children you go to the beach with know that holes and trenches can be dangerous, and that they should let you know if they see any abandoned holed.”

I believe that without being frenetic or anxious, we can be alert, mindful, and cautious to help keep our children, and other children, safe from these and other dangers. Thanks for sharing this to protect kids with consciousness.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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A New Tool For Internet Safety

April 7, 2015 by ldecesare

A New Tool For Internet Safety | MothersCircle.netRegular Mother’s Circle readers may know that I’ve recently had you all vote on my next Naked Parenting topic and I’m taking on the one I find the hardest to write – Naked Parenting: Social Media and Technology.

There’s so much to it that it makes a parent’s head explode, doesn’t it? That’s why I’m happy to share a new tool for internet safety.

As parents, we’re still learning, experimenting with different rules and systems, and keeping ourselves educated. It’s a continual process and important to seek tools to support our family values and to keep our kids safe online. I believe in teaching them good skills but while they learn, it’s great to have a safety net.

So while we keep having discussions and limits, I recently learned about this new internet filter called PYUR that I’ve decided to try out in their pre-order phase. It just launched last week and I’m sharing it here if you’re interested in testing PYUR out, too.

What I like about it so far is that it sounds different from other filters that may be too rigid and undiscerning in their blocking. “Instead of just listing the websites your kids visit, [PYUR] takes a snap shot of what they’re actually seeing on phones, tablets, and computers, learns their online habits, and reports back to you.” Mike Tingey, PYUR CEO explains, “It filters on behavior instead of a page by page” so it’s a more flexible system and allows for more teachable lessons which is one of the goals of parenting kids in our cyber-dominated world.

Once I’ve tried the product, I’ll let you know how we like it in our family.

* I’ve received no compensation for this post, but I will receive a complimentary device and can write an optional review after trying it. You know I’ll let you know what I really think and that I only recommend products that I believe in.

 © Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Think Spring!

March 30, 2015 by ldecesare

Think Spring! Activities and tips | MothersCircle.netAs much as I love snow days, I’m happy to see the mountains melting. I’m ready to think spring and am enjoying the hints of buds and other harbingers of spring.

Here’s a wrap of of some spring season posts to help you think spring!

How to force forsythia – Bring some spring inside with these yellow blooming branches!

Creative ways to dye Easter eggs – This is our Good Friday tradition. What fun Easter egg traditions does your family do?

Starting seeds indoors and gardening with kids – Every April, the kids and I plant seeds and revel as they sprout and grow before transferring them into our outdoor garden. This story comes with a groundhog nuisance, too!

Plan your North Conway, NH vacation – Spring is a great time for a getaway weekend. We’ve had some great trips to this fun area of New Hampshire at different times of the year. Start planning now!

Themed Cakes and Cupcakes – As you plan spring birthdays, religious celebrations, anniversaries, and showers, here are some ideas for beautiful and fun baking to fit into your decor and party theme.

As we get outside again, here are three playground tips for parents and here’s one of my favorites on boys and bruises.

Happy Spring!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Setting Technology Limits for Kids

March 27, 2015 by ldecesare

Setting Technology Limits for Kids | MothersCircle.netThank you to Amy Williams for this guest post. It’s a topic that’s been on my mind as I’m currently writing the second book in the Naked Parenting series on social media and technology. I asked readers for their input on the next parenting topic to address and this is the one I’m tackling now.

Guest Post by Amy Williams, journalist and former social work specializing in teen behavioral health.

The rapid advancement of technology in our world poses new challenges for parents who are already trying to achieve what is best for their kids in different areas of life. As more kinds of technology become accessible to kids of all ages, it is essential for parents to consider how best to protect their children as they grow and develop. How do you set technology limits for your kids?

What is Considered “Screen Time?”

“Screen time” is a common term that professionals in child development use to cover all kinds of screens – such as televisions, tablets, smartphones, video games, and movies – that children are exposed to on a daily basis.

The term “screen time” more specifically refers to any passive time that children spend in front of a monitor. Generally, there is very little movement as people are in front of a screen, and there is no interaction with the larger world. This is a concern as young children grow and develop.

Recommended Technology Limits for Kids

When parents consider daily screen time limits for their children, there are two important factors: how much is appropriate and the quality of what kids are exposed to during that screen time.

From birth to two years of age, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that children get no screen time at all. During this stage of life, babies and toddlers require constant touch and physical stimulation for healthy brain development to occur. When very young children are moving, touching objects, putting things into their mouths, and interacting socially with others, their brain is experiencing growth that is vital to their development.Setting Technology Limits for Kids | MothersCircle.net

Limits on technology are also necessary as children get older. Recommendations state that from ages 2 to 8, parents should avoid showing their children shows that have fast-moving images, as this is not what the brain needs. Screen time limits include 30 minutes to an hour at most in front of a screen, which can be adjusted to two hours per day at the most as kids grow older.

Tweens between the ages of 8 and 12 need careful monitoring and clear expectations to limit time and exposure. Teenagers, who are developing into adults, live socially and complete much of their schoolwork online, practicing a high level of digital literacy.

While the idea of building digital literacy is important, there is little evidence that these skills need to be encouraged in young children. There is plenty of time for parents to introduce different aspects of digital literacy as children grow and develop.

Setting Technology Limits For Kids

Parents do not need to be afraid to put off shelling out the money for electronic gadgets that their kids aren’t developmentally ready for. As children grow and develop, keeping a limited amount of media in the home can also help set limits for kids of all ages.

Regardless of a child’s age, it is extremely important to set technology limits. These can include:

  • Keeping kids involved in activities. Children need social interaction and different stimuli to help their brains grow and develop.
  • Keeping technology out in the open. There is no need for kids to have technological devices in bedrooms.
  • Using parental controls. Most electronic devices come with ways for parents to set time and content limits.
  • Implementing monitoring software, which helps parents see exactly what their kids are doing online.
  • One easy basic rule for parents to include is to allow no screen time during the week except what is needed for homework and limited access to technology on weekends.

It’s important that, before these guidelines are set, everyone involved is in agreement. Disagreements in parenting philosophies has been shown to be one of the ten most frequent disagreements in marriage. Carefully thinking through this important issue will help parents maintain healthy technology limits for their kids as they grow and develop.

Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she has learned a lot of things the hard way, and hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be. Follow Amy on Twitter.

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7 Fun Yogurt Ideas for Kids

March 20, 2015 by ldecesare

Fun Yogurt Ideas for Kids | MothersCircle.netI’m not a nutritionist, but I’ve always had an interest in reading and learning about nutrition. I feel good about providing my kids with an example of healthy eating, moderation, balance, and variety as I help guide them to make their own healthful choices about what they put into their bodies.

This journey starts as soon as little ones are off the breast or bottle and we introduce new foods. Yogurt is a terrific early food with great nutritional benefits.

Here are some creative yogurt ideas beyond smoothies and breakfast as a great way to offer kids healthy options.

*I received no compensation of any kind for this post.

The Health Benefits of Yogurt

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says that yogurt is an ideal first food for toddlers and is a great source of protein and calcium.
  • Yogurt contains live and active cultures which are beneficial bacterias for a healthy digestive tract and immune system. My GI doctor said that we should be having these kinds of probiotics in our diets daily.
  • Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium keeping kids, and you, satisfied longer while also contributing to bone health.
  • Like other dairy foods, yogurt is a good source of not only calcium, but B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium.
  • In our family, we are partial to Chobani’s products. They contain 25% less sugar than competitors and more protein per serving – there is no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, modified cornstarch, or preservatives and I love that Chobani donates 10% of their profits to charity. Click here to read about Chobani’s beliefs.
  • Click here for more health benefits of yogurt on WebMD.

 7 Fun Yogurt Ideas for Kids and Families

1. Yogurt Pops

Freeze your kids’ favorite yogurt flavors mixed with a little bit of unsweetened fruit juice in ice cube trays and put Popsicle sticks in each cube. Allow to freeze, pop them out and into a plastic freezer bag or container. They’re the perfect summer treat or great for a teething child. It’s a dessert or snack you can feel happy about giving them!

2. Healthy Party Fun – Yogurt Bar

Not just a fun idea for a brunch, set up a yogurt bar for a tween’s sleepover party breakfast, a camping trip snack, or a special weeknight dessert treat. Put out a bowl of vanilla or plain yogurt and bowls full of toppings including: nuts, dried fruits, shredded coconut, fresh or frozen berries, sliced bananas, Chia seeds, milled flax seed and wheatgerm (see #4).

3. Yogurt for Dessert

We have yogurt instead of dessert as is or with some fresh or frozen fruit. Growing up my mom served fresh strawberries for dessert and we dipped them into sour cream, then into brown sugar. My kids love this too, it’s especially amazing after our annual strawberry picking trip. Instead of sour cream, serve it with plain yogurt to get the added nutritional benefits of yogurt. My absolute favorite Chobani flavor is coconut. If I need something sweet, it’s the perfect thing and I feel satisfied without having had something unhealthy.

4. Add Even More Nutrition

We’ve always added flax seed and wheatgerm to our yogurt to add more nutritional punch. When the kids were little, it was so funny when another parent would ask me after their child came home from our house, “What do you put in your yogurt? Lilly has been asking for it all week.”

My brother used to tease me when my kids hollered out, “Mommy, can I please have more wheatgerm?” I believe whatever we grow up with becomes normal, they just accepted that yogurt had wheatgerm and flax seed sprinkled on it.

5. Yogurt as a Recipe Substitute

Add yogurt to bread recipes, make a cucumber salad with plain yogurt, use yogurt as a dip substituting sour cream. You can really use yogurt in any recipe that calls for sour cream – soups, dips, baking, chili, sauces, guacamole, salad dressings … Many things that call for mayonnaise can also be substituted for yogurt, such as cole slaw and pasta, egg, tuna, or potato salads.

6. Make Yogurt Cheese

Create a fun activity to do with kids that is also a healthy snack. Kids are always more likely to love foods they help prepare or grow. (Click here for our story of gardening with kids and groundhogs.)

-To make soft yogurt cheese, rinse about 16 inches of cheesecloth in cold water and wring it out then fold it in half and lay it inside a large strainer (the sides will hang over.)
-Place the strainer over a large bowl and scoop 2 3/4 cups of plain yogurt into the strainer. Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or for 10 to 12 hours.)
-There will will liquid in the bowl, throw it away. Lift the ends of the cheesecloth and put the cheese into the clean bowl then enjoy! You can store your yogurt cheese in the fridge for up to 4 or 5 days.

7. Frozen Yogurt Drops

Place little blobs (yes, that is a technical cooking term) of yogurt onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. You can use a piping bag or a plastic bag with a corner cut off if you prefer neater looking drops, they kind of come out looking like the old-fashioned candy dots on paper strips. Use different flavors of ice cream to create different colored drops.

Once the blobs are all over the wax paper. Place the cookie sheet into the freezer for about an hour – if you have bigger dots it will take longer. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a container and keep in the freezer, or serve right away.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Planning Your North Conway Vacation

March 10, 2015 by ldecesare

Planning Your North Conway, NH Vacation | MothersCircle.netAre you planning a North Conway vacation? We’ve been to North Conway, NH for long weekends both with and without kids.

While you can surely find extensive lists of restaurants and attractions nearby, here are recommendations from our personal experiences. No one has sponsored or asked me to review them, these are all just for you based on our times in NH.

I have to admit, while my husband and I had a wonderful North Conway vacation alone last summer to celebrate our 20th anniversary, it seemed that everyone around us had their kids and I felt like I’d have preferred to have them along with us. Sleeping in was thwarted as we heard kids jumping and thumping in the room above us and screaming up and down the corridors at the Attitash Mountain Grand Summit Hotel and Resort.

There were kids splashing and kicking as we dipped in the pool, kids coloring and munching fries at every meal out. So while we were without our own kids, it didn’t feel like such a kid-free weekend. Maybe leaf-peeping season brings out more solo couples, but with Storyland and Santa’s Village right nearby, and skiing in the winter months, I doubt there’s much time when this isn’t a very kid and family-oriented getaway location.

Here are a few tips and ideas as you plan your North Conway vacation.

Places to eat in North Conway, NH:

Diana's bath, hikes and falls in NH, water falls, Bartlett NH, kids hikes, outdoor activities

Diana’s Bath

We loved Sunrise Shack for breakfast, count on a wait, especially on a weekend morning, but they offer self-serve coffee, a big log bench outside, and the food was worth the wait. Inside felt fresh and bright, not at all like what you might expect from the outside appearance.

If you’re a coffee lover, The Met Coffee House was a great find along the main strip in town.

For dinners, we loved the nicer dining experience of the White Mountain Cider Co. (Nick cannot recommend the cod more highly, he is still going on and on about it), and Moat Mountain Smokehouse was terrific, too, if a little busy. There’s a great lawn for kids to run around on while you wait and if you go at peak times, you’ll wait. We ate on the closed-in porch and it seemed to empty out around 8:30 pm. Everything was delicious, including the house brewed beers and tasting flights. Loved the brisket, and the sides of mashed potatoes and cole slaw were noteworthy.

For dessert – you’ve got to try the fried ice cream at Margarita Grill. We enjoyed our farm-to-table meals as well and I practically licked the plate their homemade bacon ranch dressing is so yummy! This is across the street from a great campground we stayed at two years ago, Glen Ellis, with kids and another family.

Things to do in and around North Conway, NH:

Take a hike to Diana’s Bath. Go early, bring a snack or lunch, a towel to dry your feet. Friends recently did this hike during a mild December trip and found it a terrific outing in the winter as we had in August.

lost river gorge, boulder caves, hikes with kids, things to do NH, things to do with kids, vacation with kids, weekend with kids

Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves

 

Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves is a good day trip or excursion on your way home. It was a little pricey for what it was but the wooden walkways are in great condition and it was a really interesting, fun adventure through the gorge and crawling, climbing and eeking through rock formations.

The first time we went with the kids and friends, we were skeptical about going to Story Land and expected it to be outdated and awful but we ventured there for the kids. We were impressed and happily surprised. Even our oldest daughter and my Little Sister who were 13 and 17 at the time, had a terrific time! They loved the rides, the circus, the tall swirly slushies, and the silliness of being kids.

ferris wheel, views in NH, Santas village, camping in nh, camping santas village, kids and amusement parks

From the top of the ferris wheel in Santa’s Village.

The following year, we stayed a little further north in Lancaster, NH at the Mountain Lake Campground to be near Santa’s Village. This time, Ali opted out to stay home for a friend’s birthday party and we got cute cabins with beds, lights and mini fridges! It was a great way to “camp.” We cooked out, had s’mores and the usual camping fun but we also played Apples to Apples on the front porch overlooking the lake and enjoyed the ease of set up and clean up in the cabin.

For things to do, I’d also recommend Santa’s Village which is about an hour north of North Conway. The kids, while not really little when we went, were so excited. Even Michael, who was in 7th grade at the time, had fun on the rides, petting reindeer, finding the elves around the park to mark their tags, and we got a great picture with Santa in August. (Plan ahead and you could have a great Christmas card photo ready to go!)

There are tons of things to do on a North Conway vacation!
Share in the comments things your family likes to do, places you like to eat and stay to serve as a resource for people planning their trips.

This North Conway Village website links to maps that promote the best resources in the Valley and White Mountains.

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© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Vote on the Next Naked Parenting Book

March 1, 2015 by ldecesare

vote for parenting book, parenting book topics, social media for parents, money and finance for kids, teaching kids money, technology and parenting, When I wrote Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence, I had it planned to be a series. I will be taking the seven keys and applying them to different topics.

I need you to vote on the next Naked Parenting book topic.

Now that I’m in a good place with my first novel and querying agents (He’s Such a Fork), I’m ready to start working on a second Naked Parenting book.

I have outlined three topics, please leave a comment and let me know which you’d like to read about next.

 

 

Vote on the Next Naked Parenting Book:

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Nick, Ali, and me at a book signing at Symposium Books in East Greenwich. Click here for upcoming book signing events.

– Giving and Service

– Money and Finance

– Social Media and Technology

Many thanks to my loyal Mother’s Circle and Naked Parenting readers. I so appreciate the outpouring of support and the fantastic reviews on Amazon.

Please vote in the comments and please share with your friends who might like a say on the next book in the series.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Life On Hold

February 20, 2015 by ldecesare

life on hold, waiting on hold, huffington post leah decesare, phone calls, holding phone, Please click here for my newest post on Huffington Post: Life on Hold.

This is how it begins:

Yesterday, I dialed my insurance company, punched in my card number and then, while I wait on hold again, I grabbed the phone and started driving kids around. (For anyone who’s worried, my car has Bluetooth and we all had to suffer the hold music in the car without me having to touch the phone.) I picked up the neighbor, drove 15 minutes on the highway to tennis, waited for my daughter to come out, drove 15 minutes back home and was still on hold the whole time.

I’d been given the option to have them call me back. Sounds brilliant, right? Not so much. When I’d called the first time, before the kids were even home, I happily agreed and pressed “1” to have them return my call, all without losing my spot in the queue. Perfect!

Twenty minutes later the phone rang, I had since forgotten to expect the call back (does anyone else get sidetracked that easily?) Even if someone were home, no one in my family would dare answer the home line, so it was me who picked up the phone. Answering, I remembered, “Oh yes, great! Thanks for calling back. Wait? What? I didn’t want the billing department. I was on hold for the technical department.”

“Let me transfer you.”

“Wait! Wait, wait …” There goes that music and I’m back in the general queue all over again, 45 minutes after my original call. ARGH!

Click here to read more.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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50 Things No One Ever Told You About Babies

February 17, 2015 by ldecesare

50 Things No One Ever Told You About Babies | MothersCircle.netWhen you’re a new parent, there are plenty of things you can’t prepare for and may not expect. You’ll hear stories from friends, parents, in-laws, it’s hard to sort out what you should believe, what advice you should follow and even with all of those tales and tips, there will still be things no one ever told you about babies.

I’ve surveyed past doula clients and other new moms and tapped into my experience with families adding a new baby to the family to bring you this list of 50 things no one ever told you about babies in five areas of postpartum adjustment.

Things No One Ever Told You About Physical Recovery

  • It’s not all bad.
  • You get your bladder and lungs back.
  • Sleep is more physically comfortable (when you do sleep.)
  • Sleep deprivation cannot be described!
  • Everyone says “sleep when the baby sleeps” – do it, it’s really true.
  • Accept support – from mom, mother-in-law, friends, a postpartum doula.
  • Allow yourself one event (visitor, doctor, walk outdoors) and take two naps per day.
  • Stay in PJs until get your 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • For the hospital and after, pack clothing for nursing, something with access.
  • You’ll still need maternity clothes to wear after baby arrives, you won’t be back in normal sizes right away.
  • You may have constipation and you may feel like want to hold back. Prevent constipation with high fiber foods, dried fruits, water and movement.
  • Do what the baby does: Sleep – Eat – Poop but adapt for mom: Sleep – Eat – Feed
  • Your breasts leak in the shower – and other places, like during sex.
  • Even if your breasts got larger during pregnancy, they may get larger still after baby.

Things No One Ever Told You About Emotional Adjustment

  • One Mom: “Every day feels new and interesting!”
  • You may not feel like yourself, emotions may be hard to understand.
  • You may experience disappointments with birth and grieving the loss of your ideal.
  • It’s pretty normal to be crying one moment, laughing the next.
  • If you find it hard to find any enjoyment, take the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.
  • Postpartum mood disorders are common and treatable. Get help if you don’t feel right.
  • Dad’s often have feelings of helplessness about the birth and afterwards. Dad’s can also experience postpartum depression.
  • The postpartum time can feels like an array of moments in time rather linear.
  • Mom can feel “stuck at home” and isolated with a new baby.
  • After a Cesarean section, moms can’t drive and may feel even more isolated.

Things No One Ever Told You About Caretaking

  • You’ll get pooped on.
  • And if you have a boy, cover up that little penis when you’re changing diapers.
  • Babies are really slippery when wet.
  • How do you put these onesies over the head?
  • There are hundreds, thousands of ways to change diapers, give baths, and care for babies. You’ll find your own ways to do things. baby sitting under yellow towel, baby under blanket, baby happy, tips for babies, tips for moms, new parents, help for new parents, what to expect for new parents
  • Taking care of a baby is ongoing, seemingly endless, and repetitive.
  • It’s okay to feel like caretaking tasks are a little boring.
  • Babies are resilient and if you try, they know you are responding to their needs.
  • Remember to break the latch on your breast before you take the baby off!
  • You’ll get advice from everyone (you don’t need to follow it.)
  • You will know your baby’s temperament best, trust yourself.
  • Trial and error is often what it’s all about. You’ll develop your parenting style and learn about your baby.
  • Much of parenting is learned. Read books, blogs, seek help from trusted sources.

Things No One Ever Told You About Attachment

  • Attachment is the work done to form relationships – the prospect of this relationship is the main reason for having a baby.
  • Bonding is already occurring during pregnancy.
  • Attachment takes time and work and sometimes it doesn’t happen right away.
  • Attachment doesn’t end, it’s ongoing, and requires change.
  • It used to be believed that babies didn’t interact but they do engage their parents. The relationship is reciprocal.
  • Healthy closeness in infancy leads to healthy emotional closeness in adulthood.
  • Most attachment has both positive and negative elements (meaning it’s not only one single emotion.)
  • Some situations may make attachment work more challenging (baby’s health, birth experience, mom’s health, etc.)

Things No One Ever Told You About Relationship Changes

  • Mom quote: “It’s hard to be a ‘non-producer’ and being home every day after years of working outside the home.”
  • Mom quote: “It felt like an assault on our marriage.”
  • Some moms can feel disappointed in their partner during the birth and/or with the new baby.
  • Your relationships will shift with your own parents and in-laws, your siblings, your friends as well as your spouse/partner.
  • Allow time to adjust and communicate about your feelings.

I appreciate your vote! By clicking the image below, you’ll be directed to Top Mommy Blogs which is one vote for Mother’s Circle. Thank you for your support and for helping Mother’s Circle get back on page one!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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What I Love About Snow Days

January 27, 2015 by ldecesare

What I love about snow days | MothersCircle.netI love snow days!

I love the disruption in our normal schedule and the community feeling of hunkering down. I even love the preparation and the anticipation of a storm coming.

I love that regular responsibilities and expectations fall away – drifting with the snow. Obligations forgiven.

I love how the snow absorbs the sound and how neighbors come out waving and shoveling walkways after the storm. I love the sounds of the kids laughing and sledding and playing.

I love hot cocoa and marshmallows and remembering my mom having it ready for us when we came in from a snowy day. I love kissing the kids’ rosy, chilled cheeks and noses when they finally drag themselves in from the snow.snowy branch, Juno, blizzard, kids in snow, snow days fun,

I love how snow days slow us down. It’s what I crave and snow days grant us – or force us – time to stay still, to be home with family with nowhere to go or be. Snow days make us live in the moment and be present.

That’s what I love about snow days!

Share with us – what do you love about snow days?

(And while you’re sharing – I’d really appreciate if you would click on the image below to vote for Mother’s Circle! One click and you’ve helped my ranking on Top Mommy Blogs! Thank you!)

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Feeding Your Preemie in the NICU

January 19, 2015 by ldecesare

Feeding your preemie in the NICU | MothersCircle.netThank you to Prolacta for this guest post on feeding your preemie in the NICU. It’s stressful, emotional, and challenging to have a baby who’s born early, and as parents, you want to learn about and do what’s best for feeding your preemie. Here is some science behind NICU infant nutrition.

In honor of the nearly 500,000 babies born prematurely each year (according to the Centers for Disease Control, that’s 1 in every 8 infants born in the United States), we’re sharing good news about the latest in medical advancements that are helping more preemies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) survive and thrive.

Critically ill, premature infants have special dietary needs requiring higher levels of fat, protein and calories than full-term babies need. Mounting scientific research supports the use of an exclusive human milk diet for preemies and this has led to a rise in use among NICUs across the country. Based on this research, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a recommendation that all preterm infants receive breast milk, be it a mother’s own or donor milk.1

While feeding preterm infants a diet of 100% breast milk may seem like an obvious solution to those who breastfeed, the reality is that for generations, preemies in NICUs were fed cow-milk-based formula. Even if a mother’s own breast milk was available, it was typically “fortified” (to add extra nutrients) with a fortifier containing cow-milk protein.

A peer-reviewed analysis by Steven A. Abrams, MD, Medical Director of the Neonatal swaddled baby, soothing babies, learning about babies, learning to comfort baby, parenting classes, birthing classes, should I take a childbirth class?, dads and birth classes,Nutrition Program at Baylor College of Medicine, found that as the volume of milk containing cow milk-based protein fed to infants in the control group increased, so did the likelihood of developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) or sepsis.2
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is inflammation which causes death of intestinal tissue. It most often affects premature or sick infants and occurs when the lining of the intestinal wall dies and the tissue decays. NEC affects up to one in six babies weighing 1250 grams (2.756 pounds) or less at birth who receive bovine (cow) components in their diets.3,4 NEC is one of the leading causes of mortality among preterm babies.5

Sepsis is a potentially fatal bacterial infection of the bloodstream resulting in widespread inflammation.

Leading hospitals across the country currently provide an exclusive human milk diet to preemies in their NICUs through the use of specially formulated human milk-based Neonatal Nutritional Products from Prolacta Bioscience that are clinically proven6,7,8 to improve health outcomes and decrease mortality9 for critically ill preemies in the NICU. Prolacta’s products are derived from 100-percent human breast milk and are formulated to meet the needs of extremely premature infants in the NICU. Some hospitals have also partnered with Prolacta for a donor milk program in which mothers can donate their excess breast milk to support their local community hospital.

The statistics on preemies are staggering: more than 40,000 babies are born each year weighing less than 2 pounds 12 ounces – so small one could fit in the palm of your hand. These fragile preemies are fed through a tube, and spend the first 70-90 days of their life in the NICU where specialized nutritional support is vital to their survival.

Another study published in the Journal Breastfeeding Medicine concludes that a diet of 100 percent breast milk results in lower mortality for extremely premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).10 It is encouraging that much scientific evidence demonstrates that an exclusive breast milk diet has the best health benefits and outcomes for extremely premature infants. With greater awareness for prematurity awareness, and the growing science in the field on human milk-based nutrition, the outlook for feeding preemies in the NICU is brighter than ever.

Citations:

1. American Academy of Pediatrics, “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.” Pediatrics. 2012;129:e827
2. Abrams S, et al., “Greater Mortality and Morbidity in Extremely Preterm Infants Fed a Diet Containing Cow Milk Protein Products.” Breastfeeding Medicine. 2014;9(6):281-285
3. Sullivan S, et al., “An Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet is Associated with a Lower Rate of Necrotizing Enterocolitis than a Diet of Human Milk and Bovine Milk-Based Products.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2010;156(4):562-567
4. Cristofalo E, et al., “Randomized Trial of Exclusive Human Milk versus Preterm Formula Diets in Extremely Premature Infants.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2013;163(6):1592-1595
5. Ganapathy V, et al., “Long Term Healthcare Costs of Infants Who Survived Neonatal Necrotizing Enterocolitis: A Retrospective Longitudinal Study Among Infants Enrolled in Texas Medicaid.” BMC Pediatrics. 2013;13:127
6. Sullivan S, et al., “An Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet is Associated with a Lower Rate of Necrotizing Enterocolitis than a Diet of Human Milk and Bovine Milk-Based Products.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2010;156(4):562-567
7. Cristofalo E, et al., “Randomized Trial of Exclusive Human Milk versus Preterm Formula Diets in Extremely Premature Infants.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2013;163(6):1592-1595
8. Hair A, et al., “Randomized Trial of Human Milk Cream as a Supplement to Standard Fortification of an Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet in Infants 750-1250g Birth Weight.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2014;165(5):915-9209. Abrams S, et al., “Greater Mortality and Morbidity in Extremely Preterm Infants Fed a Diet Containing Cow Milk Protein Products.” Breastfeeding Medicine. 2014;9(6):281-285
10. Ganapathy V, et al., “Long Term Healthcare Costs of Infants Who Survived Neonatal Necrotizing Enterocolitis: A Retrospective Longitudinal Study Among Infants Enrolled in Texas Medicaid.” BMC Pediatrics. 2013;13:127

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Reading With Robin is Back!

January 16, 2015 by ldecesare

RWRlogo_finalMy dear friend, Robin Kall, will be back on the air today with her Reading With Robin program after a two year hiatus. Lifetime lover of books, radio host, and entrepreneur, Robin works tirelessly to advocate for all things literary.

Affectionately referred to as the Fairy Bookmother, Robin connects writers to readers, hosts beloved authors events, and is never without a book. When we go out, I have to bring a notebook to record the names of authors I need to read and all the fun ideas we brainstorm together.

Please tune in today and every Friday afternoonReading with Robin, Robin Kall, RI Robin, book lovers, for the return of Reading With Robin, 4-5:00 pm eastern. You can also listen to AM790 WPRV on the i Heart Radio app.

On today’s show, I’ll be calling in to talk about Naked Parenting and my book signing next week on January 22nd at Symposium Books in East Greenwich, RI.

She’ll be sharing her favorite authors, telling stories and having a great on-air time. Today’s show is going to be a free-for-all so we’ll see what happens. After all, it’s LIVE!

Break a binding, Robin!

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More Favorite Books For Book Clubs

January 14, 2015 by ldecesare

More favorite books for book clubs | MothersCircle.netLast summer, I listed some of my favorite books for book clubs, after another year of reading, here are some more favorite books. At the end of this post, take a peek at some of the author’s I’ve met – and I absolutely recommend their books, too! Loved Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street, The Baker’s Daughter, Those Who Save Us, The Beauty of Humanity Movement and others by the authors in the photos! ENJOY!

My newest Favorite Books for Book Clubs:

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
I’ve loved Liane Moriarty’s work and this one was intriguing and left our book club discussing a lot of what ifs. The husband’s secret was nothing like I thought it would be!

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
Get out the tissues! I couldn’t put this book down and loved the contrast of the two main characters one an adventurer but unable, the other able but inhibited. So many wonderful discussion points and seriously, even my friends who are non-criers, cried. Sign of a good book if you ask me!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The paperback cover GLOWS IN THE DARK! Most fun discovery as I turned out my lights and saw it glowing on my nightstand! Hearing Robin Sloan speak was a blast, too. One of my favorite lines was when the protagonist is explaining developing a computer model of the book store and I was thinking, “Wow, that’s impressive.” The very next line in the book was, “And if you’re impressed by this, you’re over 30.” I fell over laughing! YUP! I am!

(Did you see my post 44 and Pregnant on Huffington Post? Tells you I’m way over 30!)

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom and The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
I loved both of these and couldn’t help but see tons of parallels and similarities from the importance of a tree in both and the main character being a red head with freckles. The stories are both written beautifully and I deeply enjoyed both.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I love symbols and love gardening. This book both broke and warmed my heart. It also made me want to open a flower shop!

Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch
Read this over the summer in a flash, enjoyed it, fun story and well-written. It’s been months since I’ve read this and so as perimenopause steals  my memory (good excuse), I don’t recall if this had topics that are in-depth enough to spark lively book club discussions, but I do know I liked it!

good reads, book club books, what to read, reading suggestions, meeting authors, signed books

Not only do I love reading, I am crazy for meeting authors! I love to hear authors speak and to get my books signed. Here is a little photo gallery of some of the authors whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet. Many thanks to my friend, Robin of Reading with Robin, and the fantastic author events she plans for our small state with big readers!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare

Elin Hilderbrand, The matchmaker

Elin Hilderbrand, her latest book is The Matchmaker

Image Camilla Gibb, Camilla Gibb author, photo camilla gibb, Leah Decesare with Camilla Gibb, Leah DeCesare, book signing, author book signing, signed copy of beauty of humanity movement, beauty of humanity movement writer

Camilla Gibb, author of Beauty of Humanity Movement

those who save us, The Muse Jenna Blum, Storm chasers,

Jenna Blum is a treasure to writers! So supportive and encouraging! Read Those Who Save Us and Storm Chasers.

Love Sarah McCoy's book The Baker's Daughter. Reading her newest, not out yet, The Mapmaker's Children right now! LOVE!

Love Sarah McCoy’s book The Baker’s Daughter. Reading her newest, not out yet, The Mapmaker’s Children right now! LOVE!

Susan Jane Gilman, John Searles, Dani Shapiro, Leah DeCesare

Loved meeting Susan Jane Gilman (Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street), John Seales (I want him to be my friend! Author of Help for the Haunted) and Dani Shapiro (Devotion).

saving grace, tempting fate, another piece of my heart

Jane Green writes two books a year! Her newest, Saving Grace, will be out in January.

Robin Sloan, Penumbra's 24 hour library

Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan

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Pain to Power Online Childbirth Program

January 7, 2015 by ldecesare

pain to power, online childbirth, debra pascali bonaro | MothersCircle.netI’m excited to introduce and support Pain to Power online childbirth program created by birth-powerhouse, Debra Pascali-Bonaro. Debra is a long time friend, mentor, and colleague, we worked together to revise and update Nurturing Beginnings, and I’m happy to share her latest project with you.

Debra is the Founder & President of Orgasmic Birth and creator of Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret Documentary that explores the intimate nature of birth. She’s been a birth worker for over 30 years, helping new families all over the world unlock pleasure in birth and life.

Debra has trained thousands of doulas and birth professionals around the world in the practices of gentle birth support. And now, she’s bringing all of this knowledge to you through her latest creation.

Pain to Power, a 9-week online childbirth experience.Pain to Power with Debra Pascali Bonaro | MothersCircle.net

This enlightening, educational journey is going to guide you to awaken your inner wisdom and get in touch with your intuition. Debra is going to provide you with all the information you need to create a birth plan that will give you the intimate, controlled, safe birth experience you desire.

If you feel lost in the maze of childbirth information and struggling to find a way to make your childbirth experience enjoyable, this all new online childbirth experience is for you. Pain to Power will provide you with the knowledge, tips and tools you need to have a safe, pleasurable childbirth experience.

Through this 9-week program you will also have access to amazing bonuses like real-life birth stories, expert interviews, videos and resources from InJoy Video and Lamaze International.

Pain to Power with Debra Pascali Bonaro | MothersCircle.netAs a Mother’s Circle reader, you know I only share products and programs with you that I know deliver on their promise and I know you won’t find a program with this much value anywhere else. I believe in empowering yourself with education and that childbirth education is so important and this is a program with top birth professionals right in your own home.

Visit: paintopowerchildbirth.com now to register and receive access to a 
FREE 3-part video series.

If you want to unlock your power, unleash your pleasure, and experience birth in a whole new way, Pain to Power is for you and I’m honored to share this program with my Mother’s Circle community.

NOTE: Mother’s Circle is an affiliate because I believe in the value of this program.

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How to Make Clementine Granita

December 23, 2014 by ldecesare

How to Make Clementine Granitas | MothersCircle.netMaking clementine granita has become a Christmas tradition in our house. I first made it a few years ago for a fresh, festive, and light Christmas Eve dessert. Served with platters of rich Christmas cookies, clementine granita is the perfect balance.

Everyone loves it and now Anna requests and expects it as part of our Christmas preparations. She’s really the one who has made this a holiday staple, and she does much of the work to make these delicious and pretty desserts.

Ingredients:
12 clementines, plus 12 more for juicing
1/2 cup sugar
1 slice (1/2 inch) peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Here’s how to make clementine granita with pictures to guide you. We use Martha Stewart’s Clementine Granita Recipe.

Cut the tops off of twelve clementines, you’ll need to juice the insides of these as well as another twelve. You can use orange juice for the extra if you prefer. Also, juice the fruit that is in the tops.

cut oranges tangerines mandarins

Next, make a simple syrup with the water and 1/4 cup of the sugar, add a few slices of fresh, peeled ginger. Bring to a boil and mix so that the sugar dissolves completely. Set aside to let cool while you prepare the rest of the clementines. Before you add this mixture to the juice of the clementines, you’ll discard the ginger slices.

making simple syrup, fresh ginger,

Carefully remove the insides of the clementines and put the pulp into a sieve or colander. Try not to tear the peel as that will become your bowl. You can see that I did rip a few a little bit, I don’t use the ones I really mess up but will use a peel if it has only a small tear. You decide how particular you want to be.

hollow clementines, clementine peels empty, using orange peel as bowl

clementine pulp, juicing clementines,

Anna loves this part and uses a potato masher to squish and squash the clementine pulp so that the juice is pushed through into the bowl below the colander. If you have a better or easier way to juice the clementines, go for it! When the simple syrup is cooled, add it to the juice (add more orange juice here if needed), and add the lemon juice. You’ll freeze this mixture.

clementine juice, mandarins, orange dessert

Take the clementine skins moisten them before rolling them in sugar. Martha Stewart uses water to dampen the outside, but I like to swirl them in the sticky, juicy leftover pulp in the colander instead. I find that the sugar sticks to it better.

coating orange peel in sugar, using fruit as dish, refreshing light dessert

 

sugared clementine peels, orange peels for serving, using fruit as bowl, fruit desserts

Using a plastic container or a glass baking dish freeze them. Something with sides works best so the shells don’t roll around. Once the clementine granita mixture and the sugared clementine peels are frozen, use a fork to scrape the granita filling and scoop into each shell. Try to do this swiftly so that it doesn’t melt. Then refreeze the filled clementines.

shaved granita, homemade slushie, homemade italian ices, palate cleanser dessert,

clementine granita, orange desserts, martha stewart Christmas, Christmas desserts,

When you’re ready to serve your clementine granita, place them with a garnish or alone on individual dishes, or together on a decorative platter or pedestal. Enjoy!

clementine granita, mandarin desserts, tangarine desserts, orange desserts, cooking with clementines, cooking with oranges

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Ali’s Birth Story

December 16, 2014 by ldecesare

Ali's Birth Story | MothersCircle.netIn writing and posting my kids’ birth stories, the youngest got to go first for a change. I wrote Anna’s birth story, a water birth, first, then Michael’s cesarean birth story second, now to honor our oldest, here is Ali’s birth story. She’s heard it every year for her birthday (click here for six birthday ideas for teen girls) so it’s not new to her, but sixteen years later, it’s time I wrote and shared it here.

Being pregnant with my first baby was truly my dream come true. I had always wanted to be a mother and I loved being pregnant. Every minute of being pregnant. I was ecstatic and I admit that, within the glow and growth, I was a bit of a looney first time mom in some ways.

I held my breath while passing a smoker on my way to work in New York City or when a bus spewed exhaust in my direction. I was hyper-aware of everything that I put in my body and every bite I took was to nourish my baby.

I even recorded my daily servings of green vegetables,  yellow vegetables, calcium and so on. Yes, I got teased about that – and still do by a few friends who were with me through it. I was in love with my baby from the moment the plus sign showed up on that stick and I devoured everything I could to learn about pregnancy, labor, and motherhood.

I had always trusted birth and believed in my body’s abilities.

It never dawned on me at that time to change providers, I just stayed with the doctor I’d been seeing for years, but as soon as Ali was born, I knew I’d made a mistake. At each visit I asked questions, I talked openly about things I envisioned and hoped for in my birth and specifically talked about avoiding medications, an episiotomy, and other interventions. In hindsight, I can see clearly that he verbally patted me on the head, reassured me, then in my labor, he did what he wanted.

It was the last weekend before my due date and Nick and I snuggled in bed on Sunday morning deciding to do something we never did. We planned to stay in bed all day, watch movies, and do absolutely nothing but enjoy each other quietly in advance of the unknown just around the bend. Many of my friends’ first babies arrived well after their due dates and I was in no hurry and even looked forward to having some time out of work and at home before I gave birth. So that lazy Sunday morning, I went to the bathroom and something was different, excitedly, Nick and I scoured the birth books to read about mucous plugs and determined this was it. We changed course, got dressed and ran out to finish all those last minute errands. No day in bed after all, and not again for a very long time after.

Over night I was feeling crampy, a dull ache and around 3:40 am, I had some long, low, cramps under my abdomen. I jotted a note that said, “feeling what I think are contractions.”

On Monday morning, Nick reluctantly went to work in NYC and I had an appointment with the doctor.  He told me I had a closed cervix and that I could still be a week away from labor. After that exam,  I spent the day with my sister cooking soup and experiencing irregular and far apart contractions. My sister had been living with us for three months and it was perfect having her there for me at such a special time. She and Nick had taken over the cooking for those months, pampering me, and she still teases me that the day I decided to prepare a meal was the day I was in early labor. It’s that nesting instinct, I guesslaboring in bed, stuck in bed during labor, epidural in birth, movement in birth, freedom of movement in birth, position changes in labor!

Nick came home early and contractions by evening were about 10-12 minutes apart. After 9:00 pm, my sister came with us to the hospital and in our eagerness, we did what everyone doesn’t want to do: we got there too early! I tell clients now that nothing happens faster when you get to the hospital but it’s true that there’s such a strong desire to have your baby and the excitement propels us forward.

The doctor asked the nurse to check me and she told me I was “a loose two fingers” which meant about 2 cm dilation. I had changed since the morning check but still wasn’t in active labor. They monitored me for an hour and a half, nothing changed so home we went.

The doctor prescribed me sleeping pills. You already know how particular I’d been with what I put into my body for the whole pregnancy, and now he wanted me to take pills? I talked to Nick and to my mom and we debated whether I should take them or not. After much deliberating, I decided to take half the dose he’d prescribed. Very quickly, I became dopey and fell into a deep sleep. It didn’t last long, however, and I was awakened by strong, steady contractions. We still chuckle about how I got up to go to the bathroom after being roused by a doozy, I was so out of it from the medication that I walked into the door frame stubbing my toe and Nick slept right through my agony. I let him sleep as I attended to my now strong contractions and passed out between them.

Around 2:00 am, my contractions were about 2 -3 minutes apart and we headed back to the hospital. All I remember was being in bed. Being stuck in bed. After being in the world of birth and babies for over fourteen years now, I see so much of this first birth in a whole new light. I remember being in bed, no freedom of movement, I was on my back, restricted. Of course it hurt more. I remember my doctor coming into my room in a tuxedo. I remember him suggesting medications to me. Didn’t he tell me I could have a medication-free birth? When he said that, I vividly recall thinking, not that he’s in a tuxedo, but I thought, “he sees women in labor all the time and if he’s suggesting medication, I must not be doing a good job.”

What I didn’t see was that it wasn’t me or my body, but it was his way of practicing, perhaps his impatience, that motivated his offer of medication. First he said we could try a narcotic. We did at 3:15 am. That did nothing except make me loopy again, and at 4:30 am, with me still in bed, he then stood there in his tuxedo recommending an epidural. His actions disregarded me. But not for the last time.

meeting great grandma, baby and great grandmother, baby named for great grandmother

Here my grandmother meets her great-granddaughter for the first time. Her namesake.

The anesthesiologist did his thing, but he wasn’t successful, so he tried again. When he placed the epidural the first time, it affected only the right side of my body, so he explained that he added more medicine and rolled me to the side in hopes of it helping my left side. It didn’t work and he started over. He redid it, then they immediately started a Pitocin drip. Less than an hour after the epidural was place, by 5:30 am, I was fully dilated and the baby had descended well. Soon after, they turned off the epidural to let it wear off before pushing.

We took a nap and I started to push at 7:00 am. The benefit of an epidural in this scenario is that my body continued to work to move the baby down while I rested, it’s called passive descent or laboring down. So that even though I was fully dilated, I waited to push.

The nurse who replaced our overnight nurse was a grouchy woman who treated me like an object. I remember being shocked that without asking me or even saying anything, she pressed on my abdomen into my bladder and made me urinate onto the pad on the table. She did it on purpose to empty my bladder but I felt violated.

My legs were so leaden and heavy that Nick and Nurse Grumpy had to lift my legs for me. I laid in that bed, in what I now know to be the single worst position for pushing, and I pushed with gusto. With each contraction, my assistants handed me my own legs and I moved our baby closer to my arms.

Nick was an amazing support. His encouragement helped me feel like I was making progress when I could feel nothing. As he expressed his amazement, it helped me press on. Not quite an hour later, without warning, against my wishes, as Nick watched, the doctor cut an episiotomy. Then he used a vacuum extractor. He pulled our baby out into the world.

Later, Nick told me that it looked like it might have saved me a push or two, Ali’s head was there, visible, and staying low between my legs. We had no understanding then of why he did that. I get it now. Sadly, I get that it had nothing to do with medical necessity, had nothing to do with me or my baby’s health. It had only to do with the doctor who’d shown up at my bedside from a party at two in the morning and he must’ve been tired by 8:00 am. Call me cynical, but I’ve read my records and have attended about 60 births since then. Of course, it’s in hindsight that I can see this all so clearly. This birth and each of my births have made me who I am and have made me a better birth educator and doula because of these experiences.

In that moment, at 8:01 am, as Ali was born and placed on my chest, I didn’t think about anything but her slippery body in my arms. In that moment, my birth had given me my daughter, had made me a mother. I was transformed forever.

baby and aunt, sisters with baby,

My sister meeting Ali. She has always been the best aunt to her and all of our kids.

Ali had gigantic eyes the color of ink, her black hair stood on end, and she was perfect. Nick described my look as one of “love and wonder” as I first gazed at our baby. It was a miracle, the fulfillment of our deepest desire. We were parents. Even as the pediatricians whispered and looked at her foot, I wasn’t worried. She was completely perfect.

They examined her and spoke to us with a seriousness in their voices. Her foot was bent back but they were

encouraged because it was moveable, unlike how a club foot would be. I remember feeling no sense of worry, only peace. She had kicked me vigorously in the same spot for a long time at the end of my pregnancy. I could see and feel her foot through my belly and as the doctors considered and discussed, in my heart I knew it was just from her regular pokes, I knew she was perfect. And, of course, she is. (Ask Nick, I’m always right!) 😉

I couldn’t be more grateful for our Ali. She made me a mommy. She gave me what I’d always wished for and more. Much more. She’s a gift every day, a joy, a blessing, and a source of pride. Sixteen years later, my sweet baby, is still my sweet baby.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Remembering Newtown

December 14, 2014 by ldecesare
painting of Newtown, praying for Newtown, growing up in Newtown, blue and gold, Castle Hill Rd Newtown, names of Sandy Hook vicitims

Watercolor Painting of Newtown by Jane Bogdan of Newtown, CT

Today and all the year through, I’m remembering Newtown.

I remember my hometown with love in my heart and prayers of healing and strength.

On this second anniversary of the horror in Sandy Hook, I remember each life lost and the enormous ripples surrounding each loss.

To my friends still in Newtown and nearby, I am holding you in my heart. To my Newtown friends spread across the country, you are close to me, too. To everyone who calls Newtown home, I am praying for you. We are united by our connection to that special place, a place we claim as our own, and we hurt for those who still suffer and grieve, who have the presence of a loss.

Join me in remembering Newtown and praying for the families of:

Charlotte Bacon
Daniel Barden
Rachel Davino
Olivia Engel
Josephine Gay
Ana M. Marquez-Greene
Dylan Hockley
Dawn Hocksprung
Madeleine F. Hsu
Catherine V. Hubbard
Chase Kowalski
Jesse Lewis
James Mattioli
Grace McDonnell
AnneMarie Murphy
Emilie Parker
Jack Pinto
Noah Pozner
Caroline Previdi
Jessica Rekos
Avielle Richman
Lauren Russeau
Mary Sherlach
Victoria Soto
Benjamin Wheeler
Allison N. Wyatt

More Christmas Elf Ideas

December 11, 2014 by ldecesare

Christmas Elf Ideas, Add your Christmas elf ideas, Elf hanging in treeThere are the families who Elf and the families who Don’t. I’m staying out of the strange new fray between the two camps, though we fall into the “those-who-elf” group. Our elves have brought so much magic and joy and a whole new layer of fun to our Christmas celebration and preparation. Click here for my last post on Christmas elves.

So if you’re an elf family, enjoy this round up of Christmas elf ideas. If not, go ahead, click on another post in my side bar – enjoy – it’s okay to not want to get involved in the “Elf thing.” I’ve had to apologize more than once when moms have called me in desperation after one of my kids shared that all you have to do is put out crackers and water and – shazam! – You get an elf! Oops – sorry – and here’s the website. (I think these elves are cuter than the Elf-on-the-Shelf and you can get different genders and hair colors to make them more personal to your family).

We started happily with one elf for our whole family which lasted for years. Then, after my son saw that a friend’s family had an elf for each child, he came home and wrote a secret letter to Santa asking for two more girl elves for his sisters. What a Elves in dishwasher, elf on shelf ideas, creative ideas with elvesgenerous, loving request. He was acting selflessly and thoughtfully at 7 years old.

Since this was two days before Christmas, Santa responded that he was too busy and needed the elves. He told Michael that he would consider his request after Christmas. Just before the new year, Zibby and Jilly showed up to join Crispin and have been a part of our family ever since. Since they’ve arrived, the mischief has escalated!

Though I love our elves, after years of their Decembers with us, I need more ideas!

They’ve made terrible messes of the very things I needed to clean out – the pantry, the spice cabinet, under the sink – so I got a job done as I picked up after them.

They’ve done creative things like a floor-full of snowflakes, “decorating” our bathroom with toilet paper, and carving messages into bananas so that by morning they show up to be read by the kids. And they’ve hid. And hid and hid.

So as one elf family to another, here are some photo Christmas elf ideas and some links to others. Happy Elfing!

Here’s my round up of Christmas elf ideas:

A new idea that I’ve found is kindness elves – I LOVE how the elves deliver suggestions of ways to spread joy and kind acts in your community and beyond. Fantastic way to teach kids about volunteerism and service.

Christmas Elves on Mother’s Circle

From Blogher – 25 New Christmas Elf Ideas

50 Elf on the Shelf Ideas  at i heart naptime

Target has a Pinterest board full of Christmas Elf Ideas – Some I find very hilarious!

More fun Christmas Elf Ideas on Kids’ Activities Blog

And a photo gallery of some elfin adventures chez DeCesare

elves hiding in cereal, creative elf ideas, hiding elf on shelf, funny elf on shelf ideas

 

Elves with Bananas, writing messages in bananas

elves get into the popcorn, Christmas elves baking,

celebrating birthdays with elves, christmas birthdaysChristmas elf ideas, studying for a test, wishing child luck on a test,

Elves in a jar, elves hiding, elf on the shelf ideas

baking elves, elves cooking, elves with flour

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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#GivingTuesday 2014

December 1, 2014 by ldecesare

#GivingTuesday Roundup |MothersCircle.netTo me, #GivingTuesday is one of the best commercialized ways to spotlight giving and service over self. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving and the Christmas and holiday season are all about?

In our family, kindness is most important. It makes me far prouder to hear that my child invited a left out child to sit with him at lunch than to have him get a perfect spelling test grade. Seriously, what’s really important?

After a big turkey dinner and time with family, after dabbling in Black Friday weekend sales, I love the idea of kicking off the season with #GivingTuesday.

How do you make giving and service a tradition in your family? What ways do you help your kids prioritize serving? What will you give during this season of giving – time, money, blood, food?

Here’s a round up of #GivingTuesday news, posts, and ways to give back.

#GivingTuesday on Mother’s Circle

Nearest to my heart, please check out the Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness.

10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism

Forbes article: Will 2014 Be GivingTuesday’s Breakthrough Year?

Blessing Bags for the homeless

This is the official #GivingTuesday website
Learn about their #Unselfie campaign for #GivingTuesday.

#givingtuesday, #unselfie, teaching kids about giving and service, Cyber Monday,

5 Fun Ideas for Families this Giving Tuesday

Use Charity Navigator to help you decide which charities to support

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Black Friday Weekend Sale on Naked Parenting

November 28, 2014 by ldecesare

It thrills me to hear when people love Naked Parenting enough to buy it as a gift for other parents, for their children, grandchildren, or friends. For a limited time, get your paperback copy of Naked Parenting for 50% off the regular price.

I love finding the perfect gift for someone and all of the preparations of the Christmas season. Enjoy your time getting ready and whether at home in your PJs or out in the crowds, find ways to feel grateful and keep your focus on what is important to you in life.

Naked Parenting On Sale | MothersCircle.net

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

How to Live in the Gratitude Circle

November 26, 2014 by ldecesare

How to Live in the Gratitude Circle | MotherCircle.net Do you live in the Gratitude Circle?

It can be tough sometimes but it’s so worth it when I get there. I find that the more I give thanks, the more I have to be thankful for. The Gratitude Circle builds gratefulness from gratefulness. The more you count your blessings, the more blessings you have to count.

Looking actively for things to be thankful for multiplies those very things. By seeing them, we automatically increase them. I have a 5-year gratitude journal that I love, it’s a quick way to remind myself every day of all I have in my life and it helps to make gratitude a habit. Create a structure for yourself that builds thankfulness into your day.

In seeking out things to be grateful for, we initiate the Gratitude Circle and discover abundance in our lives. It’s as if there is an exponential growth when we consciously, mindfully choose to be grateful.

The Gratitude Circle also sweeps others into its pull. The smile you share, the kindness you pass along, the handwritten note you mail, all spread the Gratitude Circle in its outward ripples. The more grateful we are, the more we can share it with others just by the way we feel and live.

I strive and work to live gratefully each day and to teach our kids to do the same. I believe that gratitude is so important that it is one of the seven keys in my book Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence. I feel that if we can live gratefully, it’s the secret to happiness.

Taking time to pause, smile, breathe, pray, hold hands, and be thankful escalates a positive cycle. Living within the Gratitude Circle reduces our stress and increases our well-being and How to Live in the Gratitude Circle for Thanksgiving and all year round | MotherCircle.nethealth. It leads to better sleep and a better quality of life. Being grateful keeps us focused on the positive and what really matters. Who likes a complainer? Living gratefully also improves relationships, the harmony within your home, and interactions with family and strangers alike. All of which serve to increase our well-being and lower our stress continuing the circle of gratitude.

Studies have shown that humans have a negativity bias, we can counter that by consciously concentrating on the the gifts around us. It’s absolutely not easy, and often downright challenging, to stay in the Gratitude Circle – but it feels peaceful when we can get ourselves there.

So this Thanksgiving, and every day thereafter, strive to step into the circle, be mindfully grateful and grow your own Gratitude Circle for you and your family.

I wish you many blessings and a Happy Thanksgiving!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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A Child Who Knows She is Loved

November 20, 2014 by ldecesare

a child who knows she is loved, Naked Parenting quotes, bleeding heart flowers

Thank you for reading and reviewing Naked Parenting.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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A child who knows she is loved can step out into the world with confidence.

Book Journeys

November 13, 2014 by ldecesare

BOOKJOURNEYSI’m excited to be speaking with Dr. Angela Lauria of The Author Incubator this afternoon on her Blog Talk Radio show, Book Journeys. Click this link to listen live at 3:00 pm EST today or for listening in after.

Angela is the creator of the D.I.F.F.E.R.E.N.C.E.  process for writing your book and she has been helping authors birth their books for over 20 years. You know I love the birthing analogy as a doula!

Almost two years ago I worked with Angela on my novel (which, after many rewrites, going through an editor, and more rewrites, is currently out with beta readers for feedback! YAY!) She helped keep me accountable and taught me so much about working with editors, book marketing and the world of publishing. I loved our sessions and I was able to talk through plot Blog Talk Radio, Book Journeys, Angela Lauria, help writing a bookpoints and structure.

Though we worked together on my novel, The Fork Book (a working title), today, we’re talking about Naked Parenting. For anyone interested in writing and/or publishing, Angela is a tremendous resource.

If you’re interested in a signed copy, send me a note here and I’ll ship you out one for your or for a gift.

Listen in here at 3:00 pm EST today. See you on Book Journeys!

Cut and paste this url if you have trouble with the above link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/book-journeys/2014/11/13/leah-decesare–book-journeys-author-interview

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Introducing Stempaks

November 10, 2014 by ldecesare

introducing stempaks, what is STEM, what is stempaks, STEM projects for kidsI’m thrilled to introduce you to Stempaks.

Just in time for Christmas, Hanukah and winter birthday gift giving comes Stempaks, “sparking curiosity through discovery and creativity.”

When you subscribe, on a month-by-month or annual basis, your kids will receive a package each month ready-made with projects for them to explore. It’s easy for parents to get as engaged in the topic as they want, or to let kids dive in on their own.

Stempaks is targeted to kids aged 5 – 10 and each month will feature a different theme or topic. This November is focusing on paleontology.

As a blogger, I receive an influx of email requests to review items and I delete the great majority of them, but something stempaks package, science for kids, math projects for kidsin the email from the founders of Stempaks made me reach out to them. Not only are these young entrepreneurs innovative and creating a product that encourages family learning, but one of the founders also served in the military. From the first phone call, I had a great impression and love the concept of this product, I immediately agreed to not only be a beta tester but also to serve as an adviser because I believe in what they’re doing.

When our package arrived, the kids couldn’t wait to open it. Our dinosaur kit came with eye goggles and a face mask which went right on as the kids read through the materials to see what they needed to do.

stempaks, excited kids, engineering for kids, STEM curriculum

stempaks, science projects, dinosaur activities, paleontology

Decked out in their protective gear, they transformed into archeologists and little by little excavated dinosaur bones. They took it very seriously, brushing away the dust and being cautious not to harm a fossilized bone.

goggles and mask, STEM projects

With a focus on the STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, the Stempaks kits are an engaging way to empower kids in these key areas. Click to read about why STEM education is important for everyone.

Conveniently delivered to your door each month, Stempaks supports the activities with additional ideas for digging deeper. For example, in the paleontology pack, other projects included making dinosaur bones, both craft and edible, and creating dinosaur feet and Jurassic eggs.

Check out Stempaks and let me know what your kids discover! As the kids play with the dinosaur skeleton they built from the bones they excavated, they’re already looking forward to what will be in next month’s Stempak!

dinosaur activity, stem activity, STEM for kids, teaching kids STEM

dinosaur bones, dinosaur fossils, discovering dinosaurs, learning about dinosaurs, dinosaurs for kids

archeologists, paleontology for kids, learning about dinosaursdinosaur bones, dinosaur activities, stempaks, STEM activities

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Parents Set the Tone for the Family

November 5, 2014 by ldecesare

parents set the tone, parents set example, culture in family,

Parents set the tone for the family.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Woo Hoo – Liebster Award!

October 30, 2014 by ldecesare

mothers circle liebster, blog awards, liebster award image, what is a liebster awardThank you to Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom for this recognition. I have to admit, I hadn’t heard about the Liebster Award until Deborah nominated me and I am honored to accept.

Deborah and I connected through Top Mommy Blogs and she graciously allowed me to guest post on her blog about 10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism.

I am thrilled to accept this Liebster Award nomination for Mother’s Circle. The spirit of the Liebster is to introduce my readers to other bloggers and in the tag-you’re-it style, I had to answer some fun questions from Deborah, tell 11 things about myself, and choose other bloggers to nominate, and give them my own questions to answer.

So here goes!

11 Things About Me

1. I speak French, I loved it through school and continued in college. When I lived in Bordeaux one summer, I started dreaming in French and forgetting English words when I called home. French opened the door to amazing opportunities for friendship and learning in my life. Click to read about my French Friendships.

2. Since I didn’t want to give up studying French in college, I added it as a third major. I get teased about that every time someone learns I graduated with three majors. Typical over-achiever.

3. Continuing on that theme, my whole life, people have teased me. I learned to laugh at myself young. Still, whenever friends from different parts of my life get together, I end up the butt of the jokes. It’s unifying!

4. I love the beach. Toes in the sand, sun beating down, salt on my skin.

5. After giving up tennis as a kid because I looked more like a ballerina than an athlete, I started playing as an adult about seven years ago and I am absolutely hooked. I love to play and to watch!

6. I’m married to my best friend for 20+ years. I couldn’t be luckier. The story of how we met is unique: I moved in with him and his roommate as strangers to fill a vacant room for a month. We started dating after I moved out, but were engaged only three months after our first date, only six months after first meeting.

7. No surprise here, but my three kiddos are the center of my world, the beating of my heart. I could not feel more blessed and grateful!

8. Since I was 6 or 7, I wanted to be a writer. I’m almost ready to submit the manuscript for my first novel to agents … exciting and scary all at once.

9. We have a pet bird, a cockatiel. Anna is always saying with awe, “It is so cool that we have a bird.” And I agree! Piper is so snuggly, sweet, and what other kind of pet can say, “I love you” and a host of other calls and songs?

10. I love flowers. Gardening and cutting flowers for inside make me so happy, I try to have flowers or flowering plants in the house year round.

11. I can only drink decaf. I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I do love the smell and the experience of sipping a hot cup, but give me a fully loaded cup of caffeine and I’ll be buzzing, talking faster than usual, and on overdrive for days! A morning cup of coffee can actually keep me up at night I’m so sensitive to it. No triple shot espresso’s for me. :-) This, incidentally, is also something that friends tease me about.

Here are my questions from Deborah:

Q. If you couldn’t be yourself, but you had to live someone else’s life, whose would you choose it to be?

A. This is such a tough question for me because I love my life and am happy being me. I’ve been pondering this and as much as I want to play along, I cannot think of anyone! A famous tennis player or author, maybe, Oprah, with her influence and ability to give and give, but everyone has their struggles and pains to go through along the way to their successes, and I’ll just keep mine, my life’s been pretty great. :-)

Q. Are most of your goals wants or needs? Name one.

A. Wants for sure. I have the luxury of being able to pursue my lifelong goal of writing and have consciously reprioritized my life over the last three years or so to be able to write more. Loving it! It’s a want – but in some ways, writing also feels like a need.

Q. If money were not an object, would you prefer to be a stay-at-home mom or have a career outside the home?

A. Hmmm, both. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for sixteen years and I loved it and wouldn’t trade that time for anything. During those years, I was available for my kids but have also run a doula and birth/parenting education business, founded a non-profit, wrote a book, and volunteered countless hours like so many moms do, but it was all on my own time schedule. I have just started a new job outside the home. It’s returning to event planning, a job I loved before leaving for babies, and I’m thrilled and excited to be jumping back in. So the answer is kind of BOTH!

Q. What is your favorite charity or cause?index

A. The Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness – click to read all about this project near and dear to me.

Q. When you think back to your childhood dreams for your adult life, did any of them turn out like you imagined?

A. Being a mom was tops on my list and I’m living the dream. Writing was another constant growing up, and I’m forging ahead on that front, too, after life took me in different directions for awhile.

Q. Would you rather live in a house just a little too small, but always have cash for all the incidental things that come up? Or would you rather live in a large and spacious home, but money would always be tight?

A. ACK – I hate debt, so the former, for sure. Cozy and debt-free, though those wants and desires for more are always lurking, tugging, and tempting!

Q. What character trait do you like best about yourself?

A. I’m sensitive and feel deeply which I think is what makes me thoughtful and empathetic. (And seriously tearful at times, another point of getting teased!)

Q. What is the most important lesson you hope your children take away from what you have taught them?

A. Love yourself. Everything stems from self-love, then you can give of yourself to others wholly and generously. You can accomplish anything with the confidence that self-love inspires. Love and value yourself.

Q. What is your favorite activity?

A. Traveling. Take me anywhere in the world! One of my favorite trips was to Vietnam and Cambodia with my mom.

Q. Where would you go on your dream vacation?

A. Oh so many places to choose from. My dream vacation would be with my family and I think I’d pick somewhere I haven’t been though a ton of favorite places around the world are popping to mind. Right now, maybe a cruise through Alaska, I also really want to do an African safari. Better keep saving …

Q. What is your favorite holiday?

A. CHRISTMAS by far! I love family being together, attending church all season and especially on Christmas Eve wishing our church family a Merry Christmas. I love the season, the giving, the generosities, the spirit of community and kindness. I love writing cards with notes, reaching out to friends, I love selecting and wrapping the perfect presents and having the house decorated, the tree glowing with white lights. I love our Christmas elves and the kids faces in the morning, I love a leisurely breakfast and lingering together, stepping over piles of wrapping paper. Oh, I’m getting excited just thinking about Christmas!

My Nominees for the Liebster Award

Reading With Robin

Rock Paper Snips

A is for Adelaide and …

 

Questions for My Nominees

Q:  Why did you start your blog?

Q:  What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you?

Q:  What is a piece of advice you’d like to share?

Q:  What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing it? Would you still want to?

Q:  What’s your biggest fear?

Q:  Who is your hero? Why?

Q:  If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Q: What do you value most in life?

Q:  What are you really really good at?

Recap for Liebster Award Nominees

I hope all my nominees will accept the Liebster Award. Remember that to accept the award, you must do all of the following:

  • Thank and link back to the person’s blog who nominated you.
  • Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Create 11 new questions for those you nominate.
  • Nominate 5-11 of your favorite bloggers and link them in your post.
  • Contact them from their blog page and tell them.

Thanks again Deborah of Prayerful Mom for nominating me for a Liebster Awaliebster-award-rules-ird!

And I thank you, dear reader, for visiting my site. I’d love it if you’d leave a comment.

I’d also be very grateful if you’d click the banner below to vote for me. (Only once per 24 hours will count.) It can help my site’s rank at the greatest blog directory ever. Thank you!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Why the Coexist Bumper Stickers Bug Me

October 21, 2014 by ldecesare

Click here to read my latest post on Huffington Post, Healthy Living.

coexist bumper sticker, expecting more than to coexist, loving our neighbors, red car with coexist bumper sticker, coexist foundation, @coexistcampaign

You know the “Coexist” bumper sticker? It bugs me. I think it’s simply setting the bar way too low.

We already live together with people of all different backgrounds, philosophies, theologies, colors of skin, shouldn’t we want more than to simply be able to be in the same space together? In teaching our children about life, the tippy top lesson is really all about LOVE. Love yourself, love your neighbors.

Manners, household chores, siblings, homework, athletics, kindness in the lunchroom or boardroom, driving, waiting in lines, everything in life boils down to love. Simply love. Coexisting isn’t loving, it’s eeking by. It’s occupying space side by side.

To be clear, I have nothing against the Coexist Foundation or their mission and work. There are so many organizations of good in this world, the generosity is breathtaking, I simply argue with the word “coexist” as being weak and diluted.

Words like tolerance come to mind when I see the coexist symbols. Does anyone want to be just tolerated? No. People want to be embraced, cared for, loved. We can do that through words, actions, service, beliefs, gestures, donations, smiles, letters, and more whether across the street or across the globe.

I see it as an issue of open hearts and open minds, welcoming and accepting and cherishing each individual. We’re not going to bond, hit it off, or even like everyone we meet but I live my life and teach our kids to live with kindness, to act with love and respect toward everyone they meet. And everyone they don’t meet. Listen actively to another person’s point of view, experiences, and opinions. Disagree, sure, but do it with respect and compassion.

There is an absolute need to be culturally open and inquisitive. That’s one of the million reasons I love to travel, I get a glimpse into different histories, different ways of life, different values. It intrigues me, empowers me, and makes me more curious and more understanding. We grow when we can stretch beyond our own ways and ideas.

I feel the same way about someone who comes from my hometown, who lives down the street, who goes to my church, who seems to be similar to me. They’re still different. They have their own histories and life stories, their own experiences and pains, struggles, triumphs. Those stories and points of view are valuable and I love to explore and share in them, too.

We’re all different even if we belong to a group with an identified symbol. Yet, who can be defined just by one affiliation or one belief system? Who fits tidily under one label? We all have more facets than the best cut diamond, there’s no knowing without exploring and looking deeper. You can’t do that by just coexisting.

READ MORE on Huffington Post

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2013

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You are the Single Greatest Influence

October 16, 2014 by ldecesare

know it all, teen years, parents influence in kids lives, parenting teens

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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5 Ways to Create Happy Memories With Your Kids

October 8, 2014 by ldecesare

Thank you to Deborah Shelby for this guest post on ways to create happy memories with our kids. I love her ideas and nodded reading this as they reinforce so many of the principles I write about in Naked Parenting. Enjoy the read, and your kiddos!

 Guest post by Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom.

owl, create happy memories, no regrets parenting, have fun with your kids, messy projects, Motherhood is tough. Trying to take care of your family, your home, your work, balancing it all, and making your family’s lives run smoothly are exhausting.

I know you’re busy and tired and at times overwhelmed. But imagine five years from now, or ten years from now, what do you want to remember about this time in your life and your children’s lives? In twenty years, how do you want your children to remember their childhoods?  What kinds of memories will they have of their mom and their family life?

As a mother of teenagers, here are a few lessons I’ve learned to create happy memories and bond with my kids:

The best memories and most fun are the messiest activities!

I can’t tell you how many of my kids’ friends loved playing at our house for Play-doh alone. Most of them were not allowed to play with it at home because it’s so messy. There’s real work involved in the cleanup, and it’s time-consuming. It gets ground into the carpet. I get it. Yes, it’s a pain. But 10 years from now, your kids will treasure those fond memories of creativity and squishy, moldable fun!  Put an old shower curtain under the table that you can roll up and take outside to clean.

I also gave my children plastic aprons, and I allowed them to paint and have stamp pads and make mess pretty much any time, as long as they followed the rules. They learned quite young how to be respectful of our home and help clean up and how to be responsible with their supplies. They took care of rinsing paint brushes and cleaning their rubber stamps.

Another messy activity you shouldn’t deny your kids is letting them jump in mud puddles. We always kept rubber boots for the kids, and stomping in mud puddles was incredible fun. Yes, you’ll have more laundry. But again, you’re giving your kids wonderful, happy childhood memories.

Nurture your relationship with your kids by giving them your undivided attention.

Make sure your children understand how important they are. If you want them to talk to you about their lives when they are teenagers and young adults, you’ll have to listen to those excited, shrill, little-kid voices first. Listen when they want to tell you something. Whenever possible, stop what you’re doing when they want to show you something. Make time for what is important to your children.

Telling your kids they are important is not as powerful as showing them how important they are to you. Saying, “I love you” is not as powerful as making your children feel loved. Be mindful of how you talk to your friends and family about your kids. You never want to let them overhear you talking like they are an inconvenience or a chore.

Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don’t realize what messages they are sending. –Virginia Satir

Be funny!

A sense of humor is your best defense when parenthood gets tough. Laughter is also a strong bonding experience. The more you laugh together, the better and closer your relationship will be. I have found humor an especially important tool in getting my children to listen to me when I have a tough time getting their attention. As you know, kids can get a bit wild. Sometimes it seems like they can’t even hear you telling them for the third time that it’s bath time.

I could scream and yell and threaten, but I find it more effective to do something silly and unexpected. Like stick on a fake mustache. Or start talking in a funny accent and pretend to misunderstand what they say. When kids are laughing, it’s hard for them to be grumpy or disagreeable.

Take the time to truly enjoy your children.

The time you spend playing dinosaurs and Polly Pockets now will pay off when your kids still want to enjoy your company as teenagers. Play with them! Play the things they want to. It was gross when I used to turn over logs for my little boy to see what kind of bugs were underneath, but I did it anyway. When my little girl wanted to pour me a 7th cup of “tea” (or 77th), I pretended to drink it cheerfully.

Plan fun activities and adventures together. Really enjoy your children’s company to create happy memories together. Worry more about that than about trying to capture a picture for Facebook. Don’t view your kids’ childhood only through a camera lens.

Create Special Moments for Bonding.

Bedtime is one of the best opportunities for bonding experiences with your kids. I know you’re frazzled and tired at the end of the day, but when you look back on these years, you want happy memories, not regrets!

I regret not having had more time with my kids when they were growing up.  -Tina Turner

Stagger bedtimes by 15 or 20 minutes if your kids are in separate bedrooms so you can spend time with each one. Always read books together. Sing lullabies to your children. Talk quietly together. As your kids get older, they won’t talk to you as much after school about their day, but they usually will open up more at bedtime.

Eventually my kids got old enough that they begged me to stop singing, which is actually quite funny. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but they begged for my lullabies when they were little. When they got older and wanted to read their own books to themselves, we would all pile into my bed, each of us with our own different book, and still read “together.” Eventually they outgrew that too, but my teenagers still like to hang out with me before bed and talk.

Car rides are the other golden opportunity for talking and bonding. Resist the urge to put an electronic gizmo in your kids’ hands for car rides if possible. Ask about subjects the kids are interested in, and let them talk.

When kids grow up talking to you in the car or at bedtime, they’ll be more likely to continue the familiar practices when they’re older. It’s also easier for teenagers to talk to you on a car ride when you’re looking at the road ahead than at home when you’re looking at them. It’s one of those weird truisms for teens. Take advantage of it. Don’t let opportunities for bonding and making happy memories with your children pass by. One day soon it’ll be too late.

To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today. ― Barbara Johnson

About the Author:
image deborah shelby, prayerful mom, mom bloggerDeborah Shelby is a life and happiness enthusiast, full-time working mom, and writer. She shares ideas and inspiration to help busy moms live a happier and better life on her site Prayerful Mom, soon to be renamed Happier Better Life.

 

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Why Handwriting Helps You Learn

October 3, 2014 by ldecesare

Just this past weekend, before this infographic landed in my inbox, a group of us were talking about the importance of kids learning handwriting and cursive writing. Even with the continually increasing use of keyboards and index finger typing, kids need to learn to read and write with their hands.

I’m happy to share this infographic based on research on the topic of why handwriting helps you learn.

Why Handwriting Helps You Learn

 

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We Shouldn’t Engineer Childhood

September 26, 2014 by ldecesare

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September is Menopause Awareness Month

September 22, 2014 by ldecesare

fall leaf, changing leaves, The Change, menopause awareness, perimenopause symptoms, pregnant late in lifeToday is the last day of summer. Perhaps figuratively, too. This week, a piece I wrote appeared on the Huffington Post, 44 and Pregnant?, and it stirred a flurry of comments, emotions, private emails, and lot’s of questions and speculations on my Facebook pages. (No, I’m NOT pregnant!) The punchline, it turns out, is menopause. Fitting that September is Menopause Awareness Month!

So as summer creeps into fall outside, it seems it’s also happening within me. Many women reached out to me saying that they have experienced the same moments of wondering and worrying, dreaming and freaking out, that I talk about in 44 and Pregnant. Did you know that women between 40-44 years old account for the second highest unintended pregnancy rate? It’s shocking to think I’m even in the age category to be talking about the “M” word let alone be experiencing the precursors to “The Change.”

Menopause is medically defined  as cessation of menstruation for one full year, but every woman’s different and our bodies may start seeing a range of symptoms in the decade or so leading up to menopause, called perimenopause. The Menopause Awareness Month site says: “There are 34 different symptoms of menopause. Some physical. Some physiological. Some psychological. All frustrating and debilitating.”

On the list of exciting possible symptoms: mood changes and mood swings (that’s always a joy), joint pains, irregular and erratic periods, insomnia, memory loss, itchy skin, headaches, weight gain, and the ever-so-famous hot flashes …. And have you ever experience night sweats? There’s nothing like waking up slippery and soaking. (If it happened to you after your babies were born, you’ve gotten a peek into the future fun.) Oh, and as an added bonus, with menopause, women’s chances of osteoporosis and heart attack increase.

As a northeasterner my whole life, I’ve always said that I love the four seasons, the changing air, temperatures, colors, and ways of life as the year circles round. So on this, the last day of summer, my optimistic nature also makes me look at perimenopause with a positive lens. What comes next? While the symptoms might be difficult, annoying, and worse, what will life bring as I age? I enjoyed life with three of my four grandparents all of whom lived into their mid-late 90’s. I want to live long and see my grandchildren have children, I want to be a great grandmother, too. I feel very blessed that my own kids knew my grandparents so well.

I watch my mother and women her age, and older, who are so vibrant, active, and who are living life fully and giving much to others and the world around them. The autumn of life brings an easing of the daily tasks that life with children at home and active schedules brings, it affords more leisure, more time to slow down and do things you care about most. That’s a lifestyle I aspire to, and I try to implement those lessons now, instead of waiting for later.

My point is, menopause and perimenopause can be a time we welcome, just as we can celebrate a young woman beginning her menses and all that it means, all the hope and joy it holds. I’m working to embrace this change, this transition, and one day, maybe I’ll even be able to see it as a transformation.

So, happy Menopause Awareness Month! Whether you’re far from this time, still having babies, or if you’re on its doorstep as I am, it’s part of being a woman, it can be empowering if we allow it to be.

Screw the hot flashes and night sweats, here I come, watch out!

Some resources:

Hormone Health Awareness

Menopause.org

Menopause Awareness Month – official site

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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44 and Pregnant?

September 19, 2014 by ldecesare

44 and pregnantI had fun writing this piece, 44 and Pregnant?, my first for the Huffington Post. It’s already caused a flurry of questions and comments on my personal Facebook page.

Tell me what you think by commenting directly on the Huffington Post, on the Mother’s Circle Facebook page, or here.

Here’s an excerpt:

I’m late. Not just a little late, but over two weeks late, pushing three. For someone who has always been clockwork regular, I’m really late. I feel a little like I’m in that waiting zone between buying a lottery ticket and the drawing date. You know you’re going to lose, but you spend three days dreaming and planning. With my husband having had a vasectomy six years ago, I know I can’t be pregnant. I can’t, right? Right? But I find myself talking about it, imagining, and thinking, “What if?”

What if I am? My first feelings are filled with the nostalgia of being pregnant and a new mom. I think of the family videos that we love to watch with our two teenagers and our 10-year-old. I long for those pudgy cheeks to kiss, for those adorable little voices learning new words, for those cuddly small bodies. I loved my pregnancies. As a doula, I have a trust and passion for birth, and I savored my nursing days snuggled in with a baby. When I think I might be 44 and pregnant, my immediate gut reaction is happy and gleeful, excited for a possible accident.

Then reality starts to ease into my memories.

Click here to continue reading.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Delight in the Journey

September 15, 2014 by ldecesare

Delight in the journey of parenting, raising responsible adults, job of parents

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Show the Love for Mother’s Circle

September 5, 2014 by ldecesare

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Hi, Mother’s Circle Readers, thank you for your loyal readership. I have a few favors to ask of you to show the love. If you would please consider clicking, sharing, following, liking, pinning … I would be so grateful!

The blogging world is busy and populated, and when I began Mother’s Circle, I made the decision to be a content-driven site rather than a giveaway or review space. Those sites are often very heavily trafficked and likes, shares, tweets, follows, pins, and clicks all become ways for readers to enter a contest and better their chances of winning.

For a content-rich site, I’m proud that readers are here who want to read and learn something. I’m happy that those who subscribe and interact do so organically, but today, I’m asking you to show the love.

My goal at Mother’s Circle is to continually provide my readers with practical information that’s well-written, applicable to your life, and hopefully entertaining and enjoyable for you to read. I receive countless requests for reviews and sponsored posts, but I am extremely selective. I write about, or accept guest posts, only for things I believe in and feel you, my readers, will benefit from in some way.

Thank you for your support in helping to give Mother’s Circle a little boost – a shot in the arm as we head into a new season!

Here’s how you can show the love:

1. Subscribe

If you don’t already receive new Mother’s Circle posts into your inbox, please subscribe by adding your email in the box in the sidebar. You’ll get an email whenever I publish a new post. You can see how frequently, or infrequently, I post. I try to post at least once a week but sometimes I have a short lull, other times I have a burst! :-) Depends on what’s happening in life – you get that, I know!

2. Follow Me on Pinterest

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So I’m not a huge Tweeter or even much of a Facebooker – I could spend more time on either – but I LOVE Pinterest! It’s seriously my social media of choice.

I would love to have you follow me on Pinterest and go ahead, pin and re-pin! You can click here or use the Pinterest logo in the sidebar and the Pinterest share buttons on the bottom of each post to pin things.

 

3. Like Mother’s Circle on Facebook

If you haven’t already liked Mother’s Circle (and Naked Parenting) on Facebook, your likes matter! You can click right from the sidebar (I try to make it easy!) Invite your friends to like Mother’s Circle, too!

4. Share

Thank you for sharing Mother’s Circle posts via the share buttons on the bottom of each post. You can also share posts on Facebook directly from the Mother’s Circle or Naked Parenting Facebook pages. Shares help! My recent post, Why you should fart in front of your husband, within 36 hours of it being live on FamilyShare,  had over 3400 shares from the FamilyShare post and over 3400 shares on Facebook – and 4600+ likes on Facebook. This post has had a crazy amount of views, within 36 hours, almost 100,000 views! Sharing posts matters – especially if “fart” is in the title, apparently! (Update: Now this post has over 123,700 views and over 10,800 shares!)

5. Top Mommy Blogstop mommy blogs, mommy blogs, RI blogs, vote for blogs, blog directory,

Mother’s Circle used to be on page one of this immense mommy blog directory; I was number seven for awhile but have since fallen to page three. You can help by clicking on the Top Mommy Blogs image at the end of my posts or in the side bar. You’re allowed one vote every 24 hours, so even if you click just once a week or once in a while, it helps! You just have to click, it will take you to the home page, and once it loads the page, that’s a vote. No need to do any more.

Thanks for your votes for Mother’s Circle and helping to bring us back to page one!

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I truly appreciate you taking an extra moment in your packed-full day to show the love for Mother’s Circle! Thanks for a click and a share now and then! You rock!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Why You Should Tell Your Kids Their Artwork Stinks

September 2, 2014 by ldecesare

praising kids, how to praise kids, giving specific praise
Sounds awful, right?

Read my latest post on FamilyShare,  Why You Should Tell Your Kids Their Artwork Stinks to learn why I wouldn’t quite say it that way, but why I won’t give hollow praise, either.

Do you ooh and aah at every scribble and pencil mark? Here are some practical tips on how to best praise children and on organizing their artwork. Children sense insincerity and feel really proud when they know they’ve earned your praise.

Okay, I know. Telling your kids their artwork stinks sounds horrible. I wouldn’t quite say it like that, and I would keep in mind how young the kids are. But if you “ooh” and “aah” at every scribble, pencil mark or blobbed together Play-Doh sculpture, this is for you.

If you find yourself telling your child that every piece of artwork is wonderful, ask yourself if you may be saying, “That is so pretty,” without really thinking or paying attention. Sometimes praising kids, how to praise kids, kids artwork, we say something just to acknowledge a child who’s madly chanting, “Look, Mommy, look! LOOK!” Yes, it is easy to just stop the crazy with a quick compliment, but piling on hollow words is exactly that: hollow. Instead, I believe in being truthful with our children.

I find that when complimenting a child, it’s important to be specific and comment on things they have the control to improve. The details in praise let kids know we’re really paying attention. It gives them a glimpse of themselves from a parent’s point of view. In my work with new parents, I’ve experienced that throwing around the “good jobs” doesn’t work to improve kids’ self-esteem in the way so many parents imagine that it would. Sure, it’s important to notice the good things our kids do, and telling them does build their confidence, but how we do it matters. Broad brush strokes of “that’s wonderful” don’t do the trick.

Click here to read more.

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Keeping Your Child Safe From Cyberbullying

September 1, 2014 by ldecesare

Thank you to TeenSafe for this guest post and helpful infographic on Keeping Your Child Safe From Cyberbullying.

Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat. . . Each of these sites can be a great way for teens to build relationships and connect with their peers. Judging by the growing popularity, it doesn’t look like they’ll be disappearing anytime soon. And while social media sites do have their perks, they are also becoming a breeding ground for hurtful comments and humiliating photos.

Cyberbullying has transformed the bullying of years past, where school hallways and playgrounds took the brunt of the problem. Now, children have no place to hide from their tormentors. Bullies find it easy to inflict emotional pain from behind the safety of their computer screens and often believe that their actions will not have any consequences. However, it’s time for parents to step up and gain the knowledge necessary to fight back against this epidemic.

Being aware of what your child is doing online is the first step toward ending cyberbullying.

Check out the infographic below, by TeenSafe.com, for tips on how to help your kids online. Knowledge is power, parents. Let’s do what we can – starting today.
Protecting Your Child From Cyberbullying

 

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Giving Kids Our Undivided Attention

August 28, 2014 by ldecesare

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Why You Should Fart in Front of Your Husband

August 26, 2014 by ldecesare

  Why you should fart in front of your husband, farting in marriage, farting in relationships, passing gas, flatulence in marriage
Yup, I did it. I wrote about farting.

I think you’ll enjoy this post on FamilyShare about Why You Should Fart in Front of Your Husband. (They’ve changed the title, but I’m sticking to my original headline!)

Even if you don’t agree with me, I think you’ll get a laugh. (Tell me farting isn’t funny!)

Clearly a popular topic, it was posted yesterday at 3:00 pm EST and by midnight it already had over 32,000 views. This morning it’s pushing 60,000 views as I post this.

I would love to hear your comments and stories once you’ve read it! Comment here or on FamilyShare.com, I’ll see them!

Click here to read the post on FamilyShare.

 

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