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

engineer childhood, let kids fail, failures and mistakes as parents, let kids be kids

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