Building The Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness

April 8, 2014 by ldecesare

The Hope Center, Kampala Children's Centre for Hope and Wellness, Uganda healthcare, building medical center in Africa, Destiny Africa choir, Kampala Children's CentreI want to share something with you that is very dear to our hearts. This fall, our whole family fell in love.

It was late on a Sunday night this past October when the van pulled into our driveway. We greeted three tired girls and their chaperone who would be our house guests for a week. They are part of a choir called Destiny Africa and were orphans, taken in by the Kampala Children’s Centre in Uganda.

Arms squeezed us in hugs in the dark before we even lifted a bag to help them inside. Within moments, Claire, Shivan and Mary Phiona were laughing and playing a game with Ali, Michael and Anna, while Dorothy settled into her room. In those very first hours before climbing into bed, we already knew that we would be forever touched by these children.

They moved into our home for a week and into our hearts for a lifetime.

Destiny Africa choir, Kampala Uganda, Wasiko,

Mary Phiona, Dorothy, me and Claire

While the girls lived with us, we learned about their home at the Kampala Children’s Centre and the love, education and family it has given them in fulfilling the Centre’s mission of giving the best to the least. They cooked for us, taught us some Lugandan words and traditions and I loved that they called me “Auntie.” I kissed them good-bye each morning and we welcomed them home each night, even when they returned after midnight, just as we would for our own children. We laughed and ate together, joked and prayed together.

As we ate breakfast just the two of us one morning, Dorothy, the first house mother at KCC, shared her story with me and a glimpse into the horrors of the war, poverty and HIV issues that have terrorized Uganda. It is unimaginable to our developed-nation-minds. Only a couple of years younger than me (more years younger than Nick), it was a startling to contrast our lives.

Destiny Africa, The Children's Centre for Hope and Wellness, KCC, Uganda home for orphans, giving tuesday, medical center in ugandaCan you imagine villages where all the adults have died of AIDS leaving children caring for children, trying to survive. Can you visualize not having access to a doctor in an emergency, or even just for a cough, or being gravely misdiagnosed?

This fall while the kids were with us, the Kampala Children’s Centre lost a beloved child, Martine. Hers was a beautiful life lost that most certainly would have been prevented with proper and preventive medical care. Martine’s story magnifies the need for the Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness, a fully equipped medical center on the KCC campus to serve the children there as well as the people in the surrounding community.

Because the need is great and urgent, Nick and I jumped up to help and together, with a great group, we’ve set the goal to raise the $70,000 needed to build this center by June this year and we would be grateful for your support in any way!

If you’re local, you can help by attending the May 15, 2014 cocktail reception at the Newport Yachting Center (it’s a gorgeous location on the water, overlooking the harbor and bridge), sharing this event with others, making a donation, contributing to the silent auction or sponsoring the event.

uganda kids, Destiny Africa, medical center in Uganda, giving tuesday,

Shivan, Mary Phiona and Claire apple picking in Rhode Island

Your gift will make a meaningful, life-changing impact on countless lives. The Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness will incorporate immunizations and communicable illness prevention, health and wellness education, an on-site lab, surgical capabilities as well as dentistry and a pharmacy.

For the children who shared our home, for those who have never left Uganda, for the bright dancers and drummers and for the mothers, babies, fathers and families in the surrounding community of Wakiso, please help us build hope – The Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness.

Thank you!
With love,

Click here to buy tickets
Click here to donate
Click here to learn more and see the beautiful website Nick built – you can contact me through the Mother’s Circle contact page or through the Kampala Hope contact page with any questions.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Child Development Birth to Age 5

March 26, 2014 by ldecesare

Thank you to Early Childhood Education for inviting me to share this infographic on child development from birth to age 5.

Developmental Milestones

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Motherhood: Juggling Eggs

March 17, 2014 by ldecesare

motherhood tips, juggling eggs, long to do lists, mothers job list, gratitude for moms, managing lots of tasks, mom managersIt’s not just that I have too many balls in the air, it’s that it feels more like I’m juggling eggs. Juggling eggs that at any point I may miss catching.

One, or two or three, could fall from the air at any moment and leave me with another mess to deal with on top of the piles of laundry, the never-ending dishes, crumbs and dust, and the towers of papers on any given day.

The eggs are all labeled, there must be at least a dozen up there: carpool, doctors appointments, manage a fundraiser, check homework,  write a book, supervise play rehearsal, doula work, grocery shop, teach childbirth classes, read for book clubs, read for work, read for pleasure, read emails, endless emails, more emails, sort mail, sort school papers, sort junk papers, donate clothes the kids have outgrown, purge the kids’ toys, paint the chips in the trim, buy birthday gift, go to the gym (how long has it been?), make eye doctor appointment, and the to-do eggs go on and on and on …

Yet, even when I’m feeling rushed and busy, even overwhelmed and invisible at times, I’m grateful for the things my eggs don’t say. I’m not juggling eggs that say sick child, ill parent, unemployment, bad marriage, poor health or any number of other things people all around are managing right along with their dirty clothes and dirty dishes.

Being grateful always centers me and brings me back to what’s important in life. Being grateful even helps me realize that if I should drop an egg or two now and then, it’s okay. Life will continue, most of the time no one will even know an egg cracked or shattered. So I pause, smile, breath.

Moms out there, who gets what I’m saying?

Read this Thank You Note to Moms, it’s one of my favorite and most popular posts, it’s the thank you note that all moms deserve to get!

Back to juggling eggs, but now with a new calm. Besides, I do like scrambled eggs.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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The Science of Raising Happy Kids – by Happify

March 12, 2014 by ldecesare

parenting infographic, happify, introducing happify, what is happify?, parenting basics, raising happy kids, the science of raising happy kids, happy kids, happy parenting,

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7 Ways to Make your Own Luck

March 11, 2014 by ldecesare

4 leaf clover, make luck, lucky 7, lucky clover, I'm unlucky, happy st. paddy's day, st. patty's day luck, be generous, attitude, what's luck got to do with it, law of attractionI wish people, “Good Luck!” as a vote of confidence, a hope for success, but I only have a limited belief in luck. Instead, I believe we make our own luck.

Two people could be handed the same situation, the same resources (or lack thereof) and can create completely different outcomes. Some might dismiss it as “lucky” or use it as and excuse, “I’m just unlucky,” or “She’s luckier than me.” I don’t believe that’s luck, it’s attitude, how you choose to look at the world and interact within it.

These are lessons Nick and I work to instill in our kids at every opportunity. We believe in these principles in our own lives, as parents and contributors to society. Let’s call it “The Luck O’ the Italians,” since we don’t have a lick of Irish between us! It’s a recipe to make your own luck!

Here are LUCKY NUMBER 7 Ways to Make your Own Luck!

7 Ways to Make Your Own Luck

1. It all begins with attitude.

Attitude is everything in life. How you view the world and your corner of it, is up to you. No one says it better than Charles Swindoll in his Attitude poem. Every moment of every day provides you with a choice. How will you approach it? Will you embrace it, run from it, complain about it, greet it with joy? You can bemoan your lot in life or you can do something about it. That takes me to tip number 2.

2. Do the work.

Even when it seems like things come easy to some people, they’re working for it. Sure we all have our talents and skills that make certain things more pleasurable or easier for us. Even when using our gifts and strengths, making our own luck takes forethought, planning, effort, and a go-for-it spirit. Dreaming alone doesn’t do it, it’s the action that gets you to your goal.

It takes work – hard work – to be the parent we want to be. Thinking about it, reading about it, hoping for it won’t do it – they’re tools and can help – but we need the action. It can take a lot of work to reevaluate what we’re doing that’s not working or to reflect on why we keep getting the same unwanted behaviors from our kids.

3. Make the tough choices.

We always tell the kids that almost always, the right thing to do is the harder thing to do. And so it goes, I see examples daily. As parents, it’s easy to take the path of least resistance, to give in because you can’t take any more whining and begging. If your end goal is well-behaved kids, then letting things slide or walking away from a moment needing clear discipline won’t get you there.

It’s tough to keep a child home from a birthday party because of backtalk. It’s tough to walk your child back to pick up his toys for the 28th time or to apologize for grabbing. It’s tough to stick with your “No” answer when there’s a melt down in public. They’re all tough parenting choices, but people with well-mannered kids aren’t lucky. They made those decisions and they worked and followed-through to teach their children respect and courtesy.

4. Be ready, even if you’re not ready.

three 4 leaf clovers, three clovers,  pressed flowers, pressed clovers, lucky clovers, teaching kids confidence, teaching kids to believe in themselvesPeople who make their own luck don’t wait around until they’re ready. They have their eyes open for an opportunity and accept a challenge when it comes their way. They also make their own opportunities by building contacts, relationships, and taking actions to position themselves where they want to be. Then they jump in even if they don’t feel quite “ready.”

This means, don’t wait to grab that job until you have another credential, sell them on you! Are you thinking of writing a book but don’t know where to begin? Start writing (see tip number 2).

Is someone offering to take your kids for the weekend but you have a million excuses as to why you couldn’t possibly take them up on it? Pack up and be ready for some guilt-free, self-nurturing time either alone or with your spouse. Grab opportunities. Ready or not – here they come.

5. Trust your instincts.

Do you justify away a feeling? Do you talk yourself out of believing what your heart is telling you? People who make their own luck trust their instincts. It may not always be logical or practical, but their intuition guides them – and they listen to it.

Even though parenting is a learned behavior in so many ways, our instincts play a strong role. Even for those who feel naturally inclined to the job or had good parental role models, parents still need to seek out help, advice, read books and blogs. There are times to dig deeper to find ideas for your current parenting dilemma or to spark better ways to manage everyday parenting life.

Within that context, trust yourself. Trust that you know your child best. Trust that feeling when you think your child needs extra help and be his advocate. Trust when you think he’s in trouble at school, doing drugs, being bullied, in over her head online. You get a gut feeling when you’re not on the right path in a parenting decision (see tip 3) and let that feeling direct your actions.

6. Believe in yourself.

To make your own luck you need to believe that you can. Confidence. It’s the key to being able to handle whatever comes your way. Believe that you can handle it, that you can find solutions, get support, figure it out. It doesn’t mean you need to do it alone, but believe you can put the right team in place, that you can sleuth out answers, that you can problem solve effectively.

Believe that you are a good mom. Believe that you can teach and guide your children to become happy, confident adults. When you believe in yourself, you are giving your children an incredible gift by showing them how to believe in themselves. All the self-esteem boosters in the world won’t be as effective to a child whose parent doesn’t believe in herself.

7. Be generous and giving.

Open hands can receive more than fists. Sharing, serving, giving through acts of kindness, community service, or just a thank you note help to make your own luck. The intention behind generosity must be genuine, meaning you don’t give in order to get. Call it karma, call it the Golden Rule, call it the Law of Attraction. Giving feels good, sets a positive example for kids and helps others.

Make your own luck by being generous of mind (share your knowledge), of body (spend time with the elderly, your kids, your family, volunteer), of gifts (small, large, goods, or money), of spirit (give your heart, your caring, your love, give YOU)!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Go on and make your own luck – you don’t need a leprechaun or a rainbow!


© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2013

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The Fork Book is coming …

March 2, 2014 by ldecesare

The Fork Book, Fork Book logo, what is the Fork Book, a novel about guys, novel about forks, forks knives and spoons,
Have you noticed a slowing in frequency of my posts lately? I finished the first draft of my first novel in December last year and since then, I’ve been immersed in my first rewrite of The Fork Book.  I write between laundry, shuttling kids, shoveling snow, planning a fundraiser, cooking, shoveling snow, reading some great books (just finished The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – a terrific read!), vacuuming and, yup, more shoveling.

It’s amazing to me to be able to say, “I have a manuscript for my first novel.” Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be a writer. Blogging got me back into regular writing, but even back then, I meant writing books, stories, fiction! I recently found a picture from when I was eight years old, the heading question was: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and I drew myself on a way-too-neat desk, writing (with a pencil!). I’ve prioritized my life to follow that life-long dream and I’m so close, I am giddy!

I want to tell you, my loyal readers, first about this new venture. I don’t know yet, about a time line for when the book will be available, it’s still a ways off, but I’ve got an editor and I’m rewriting like crazy!

Read my first blog post on Why Matthew McConaughey is a Steak Knife.

In the meantime, please subscribe on and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I will be blogging about the types of guy-utensils and you’ll be among the first to know about its launch!

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© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014