Enter to Win – Naked Parenting Audio Book

April 11, 2016 by ldecesare

Free audio book giveaway Naked Parenting | MothersCircle.net


The original Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence is now available on Audible and Amazon. Soon to also be available on iTunes.

I love audio books and am often simultaneously reading a book at home and a book on tape in my car. Love it!

Enter to win your Naked Parenting audio book by sharing this blog post then providing the link to your share in the comments here.

All shares done by Wednesday, April 13, 10:00 pm will be entered to win one of the five Audible downloads. I will contact winners through their email linked privately to your comment post.

I had the privilege of meeting Gail Hedrick, the reader for the Naked Parenting audio book, in person this February. Through a strange serendipity, we discovered that I was vacationing near her home and we had a terrific breakfast together, chatting and getting to know one another.

In her audition, I loved how Gail’s voice beamed warmth and motherly caring. The Naked Parenting books are all about guilt-free, judgement-free parenting and I felt comfortable and encouraged listening to her friendly voice, just how I want my readers to feel. I knew she was the one to read my book. It’s been a wonderful collaboration.

To enter to win your own download of the Naked Parenting audio book now! Just share and post the link to your share in the comments on this post.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2016

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Listen to Your Mother #LTYM Providence

April 4, 2016 by ldecesare

LTYM cast member Providence 2016 #LTYM Listen to Your Mother Show | MothersCircle.netI am honored to be a part of the 2016 Listen to Your Mother Providence cast, one of this year’s 41 cities to host live shows.

“The mission of each LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER production is to take the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor–in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors.

LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER aims to support motherhood creatively through artistic expression, and also financially–through contributions to non-profit organizations supporting families in need. Each LTYM show donates a minimum of 10% of ticket proceeds to a local cause, as well as providing the cause awareness/fund-raising opportunities.”


In Providence, this year’s beneficiary is Foster Forward, an organization through which Nick and I are all trained and ready to begin mentoring a child. The piece I am reading is directly related to foster care and I cannot wait to share it. Their mission is to “to empower lives impacted by foster care. We have an unwavering commitment to support children and youth, families, and the child welfare system as a whole, to grow, connect, improve, and move forward.”Foster Forward Logo

I would love you to join me! The Providence show is April 28, 2016, 7:00 pm, click here to buy tickets. I will share the video of my performance when it is available sometime in July.

I’d love to hear from you! Have you been to a LTYM show? Have you read in one?

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2016

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Giving Kids Our Full Attention

April 1, 2016 by ldecesare

Giving Kids Our Full Attention | MothersCircle.net

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2016

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Happy Easter

March 27, 2016 by ldecesare

Happy Easter from Mother's Circle | MothersCircle.net

The Sign of Good Character

March 21, 2016 by ldecesare

Sign of Good Character | MothersCircle.net

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2016

The sign of good character and other quotes from Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World.

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Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo – Book Review

March 17, 2016 by ldecesare

Don't Let My Baby Do Rodeo Reveiw | MothersCircle.netA story of immigrants and adoption, a mother’s journey and self-exploration, Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo by Boris Fishman, was a book filled with gorgeous, rich sentences, and the requirement of some close reading.

The conflict between superstitions and traditions and the immersion into another culture, even decades later, is powerful, as are the discoveries of what lies within relationships. Familial bonds, marital and in-law relationships and the dissection of what it really means to be a mother, a parent, a family.

Fear and loneliness, blame and self doubt, lies and truths all tangle together throughout Maya’s tortured journey.

Fishman crafts sentences that forced me to underline and reread them to savor the just-right combinations of words. Some of my favorites:

“Alex rose, the sofa giving him up with a sigh,”

“‘For my father, there’s no gift without a con wrapped around it. You divide what he says by half and subtract, and you start getting closer. He speaks in Fahrenheit, but the truth is closer to Celsius.'”

“…the value of pragmatic deceit…”

“The night shift regularly put him in acquaintance with the glitches and flaws of human design.”

“…every obsession withers if you just hold down the obsessive…”

“…when he agreed to unshell himself, the world loved him.”

“…property of the international imagination.”

“For life’s emergencies, some men carried condoms, Band-Aids, umbrellas. Eugene Rubin carried a jar of roasted peppers.” I add this sentence because I love that image and I completely know who this man is, kind of reminds me of my own father in law.

“…and partly because all their lives had low ceilings courtesy of the state in which they had the misfortune to live. … The Low Ceiling made ambition impossible…”

“It was easier to fear than to regret.”

“…the grass exhaling after being released by the sun.”

“…the subfusc prologue of the morning was pushing up the black sky with impatience.”

“How little it took to unravel things, compared to what it had taken to make them cohere.”

While I loved this story and admire the craft, I did find this book required very close reading. There were multiple times that I wasn’t quite sure that I was following exactly what had happened and re-read immediately or had to go back chapters later to figure out what I’d missed. I wondered: Was there ever really a snake in the tent? And I completely missed that Maya’s fantasy in the shower was a fantasy – I’d read it as though the description had happened. This may simply be “reader-error” but there were enough incidents where as as reader I felt tripped up or a little unsure so I feel it’s worth mentioning.

Listen here to a terrific interview with Boris Fishman on Reading With Robin. I listened in the airport and got sideways looks as I laughed out loud at parts. I regret having to travel and miss his visit to Rhode Island. Boris, one day we’ll meet! Thanks for the good read!

About Boris Fishman

Boris Fishman bio | MothersCircle.netBoris Fishman was born in Minsk, Belarus, and immigrated to the United States in 1988 at the age of nine. His journalism, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. His first novel, A Replacement Life won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal, was one of The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books, and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. He lives in New York.

Find out more about Boris at his website, and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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* I received an advanced reader copy of this book but no compensation for this review. This review is a part of TLC Book Tours.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2016

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You Need This to Organize Your Photos

March 8, 2016 by ldecesare

Organize your photos | MothersCircle.netBe honest. How many pictures do you have stashed on your phone, your iPad, your computer?

Do you do anything with them? Can you easily find the one(s) you want? Can you enjoy the gazillion pictures you take? Does thinking about this make you sweat?

Mother’s Circle readers know that I love keeping record and documenting our family events, big and small, but it is a time consuming and overwhelming task to keep up with the unruly mess of pictures. That’s why I’m excited to tell you about the perfect solution to help you organize your photos.

Here’s what you need to organize your photos

Ruly is the only service that solves the problem of digital photo overload through an innovative digital photo concierge service using a combination of human touch and technology. I love this!

As a social enterprise, Ruly is a unique tech startup because it’s designed to achieve a specific social good objective. Ruly’s photo operations center is in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where the company recruits and invests in local women. Having visited Organize your pictures and help women | MothersCircle.netCambodia on a trip with my mom in 2012, this model immediately spoke to me. Ruly offers women who are too often marginalized and living in poverty a way to build industry-relevant skills, earn exponentially higher wages and emerge as leaders in their communities.

“Ruly was founded on the belief that great businesses can be built with a fundamental ‘win-win’ design,” Chad Mulder, Ruly’s founder and CEO, shared. “Customers desperately need help with their overwhelming photo mess. At the same time, we’re making social advancements that are truly important.”

How Ruly works

So how does Ruly work?

  • First Ruly connects to your Dropbox mobile app.
  • Then Ruly’s photo team assess every shot and find your “Keepers,” which are all the good shots that you’ll want over time.
  • Photos that don’t pass Ruly’s technical and photographic criteria, such as unnecessary duplicates, out of focus images and mistake shots are considered “Clutter” (typically 65-70% of all photos). Clutter is separated out, but not deleted so they can always be accessed.
  • Next, photo specialists find your “Highlight” shots. These are the shots that summarize events, periods of time, holidays, etc. Highlights are fully edited using Photoshop.
  • Photos are returned to the Dropbox, organized in easy-to-navigate folders.

Ta Da! Photo organization and you’ve given a woman life skills and income – something to truly feel good about.

Get Organized and Help Impoverished Women

As a social enterprise, Ruly is pioneering the use of a consumer technology service to drive positive social change. Ruly is focused on creating technology jobs for women in developing countries as a way to fight global poverty and include more women in the digital economy.

Ruly recruits women in Cambodia who fall below the international poverty line, trains them with technical and photographic skills, then provides four-year scholarships to earn a college degree in business or technology.

That’s Ruly’s key combination – human eyes and skills plus technology – to give you exactly what you need to get your pictures organized. From there, you can easily create a vacation photo book or find that perfect image for your Christmas card or to frame for Grandma’s birthday. As they say at Ruly: “Your unruly photos can change the world.”

“Apps rely on algorithms to make decisions for you. They reduce the value of your photos to a digital commodity. But with Ruly, you get much more,” continued Mulder. “Ironically, we take so many photos – an estimated 1 trillion this year globally – that they essentially get trapped under their own weight. One minute we take a photo because we’re really inspired, happy or moved in some way. But the next minute, that photo is essentially lost to us. It’s thrown onto massive pile of all our backlogged files. We need a way to rescue all the best photos from among all this unruliness.”

To learn more about Ruly, its social impact, and how you can take the never-ending task of photo management off of your to-do list, visit getruly.com. You are invited to be a part of Ruly’s free beta program. Visit their website to sign up.

* This is a sponsored post.

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Children Must Know They Are Loved

February 19, 2016 by ldecesare

Know They Are Loved | MothersCircle.net

Naked Parenting Guiding Kids in a Digital World Now in Ebook

February 5, 2016 by ldecesare

Naked Parenting Guiding Kids in a Digital World in eBook | MothersCircle.net
Thank you for the great feedback and comments I’ve received on the second in the Naked Parenting series, Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World. I am happy to announce that it is now available in eBook format on Amazon.

I love to hear from readers and every single review on Amazon or GoodReads or elsewhere online is genuinely appreciated. With everyone’s busy lives, it means a lot that someone takes the time to review a book which helps authors.

Click here for the book trailer (I love this trailer – I makes me smile every time! Thanks, my sweet Ali.)

Click here for the original 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence.


Thank you, Mother’s Circle and Naked Parenting readers
for your loyalty and support.

No Time to Read? Why I Love Audio Books

January 27, 2016 by ldecesare

No Time to Read? Why I Love Audio Books | MothersCircle.netI’ve always loved reading. I remember trips to the library and the excitement of my arms stacked with books. I still love that feeling of deciding what book I’m going to read next. But as moms, professionals, volunteers and as life gets busier and busier, it can be hard to find time to read.

Belonging to two books clubs (shout out to my Panera book club friends and Reading Between the Wines pals) gives me the external deadlines that let me “give myself permission” to sit and read. I also love book clubs because I’ve always valued the variety of selections when I’m not the only one choosing what I read. (That’s also why I’ve loved our Mother Daughter Book Clubs.)

Since I’m passionate about reading, I make time for it but I also love audio books so I can read even more. I still visit the library and I still call them affectionately, “books on tape.” Old or old-fashioned? You decide. I load up my car’s CD player and dive in.

I’ve always read a few books at a time so having a book by my bedside, another in my office and a third in the car seems quite normal. Don’t be surprised if you see me on GoodReads and I have several books marked “currently reading.”

I love audio books because:

  • With all the driving I do, I feel like I’m getting something read. It’s surprising how much I get through in my trips around town in a week and it makes a longer drive way more fun.
  • I drive more calmly since I’m not rushing but enjoying a story. I might even argue that books on tape could slow us all down – would it be a stretch to say they could solve road rage?
  • I don’t mind going out to pick up a kid (for the gazillionth time) because at least on half of the drive, I’m alone and get to listen to my book.
  • I’ve caught up on classics – this summer I reread Animal Farm, Madame Bovary and Of Mice and Men.
  • I’m learning Italian. In anticipation of a trip to Italy, I’m learning Italian on DuoLingo (a great app for helping kids with languages too) and supplementing that app with my Italian for the car.
  • I’m an achiever and I love feeling like I’m checking something off, like I’m DOING something during my time behind the wheel.

Maybe it’s time for me to subscribe to an audio book service! #timetoread

How do you make time to read?
What do you love best about audio books?
What are you currently reading?

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2016

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I Hated Math

January 18, 2016 by ldecesare

I Hated Math (And what would've helped) | MothersCircle.netGrowing up I was always a good student, I prided myself on working hard, being prepared and getting top grades. But math was a misery to me – right through college.

I love writing – obviously – and the subjects that didn’t entail numbers were where I excelled. In math I struggled! I mean, I hated math, really hated it.

My dad, an engineer, sees numbers easily, and he couldn’t understand how I just didn’t GET this stuff. We had our share of spats when I went to him for math help. If I were forced to guess a number, I’d say that 90% of the time our tutoring sessions ended in tears and frustrations. That’s 9 out of 10 times – am I right on that?

My poor mother would leave the room and stick her head in a book whenever I asked my dad for math help – she knew the tension that was coming.

There was no Internet or online learning when we were growing up. I needed to learn math in a slow, deliberate, logical way and my dad’s fast-paced brain breezed along wondering how his daughter couldn’t grasp the four different ways he’d come to the same answer. I remember saying, “But that’s not how the teacher showed us,” I needed a straightforward path, step one, step two, step three.

I needed an option that was available whenever I was stuck whether right after school or when I was studying at 11:00 pm. I needed math help that adjusted to my pace, targeted my needs and gave me feedback.

Thankfully, I got through my statistics and upper level accounting classes in college (with a lot of calls home for long distance tutoring and tears). Then I dove into my first job which was glorified accounting – a.k.a. MATH. Working in NYC in the buying offices at Lord & Taylor required lots of math skills and in the real world, I finally got it! I finally felt competent and able to understand why math mattered. I could finally see several avenues to an answer but at what cost?

Growing up I felt tackled by math. I always feeling like something was just beyond my grasp. It was disempowering and maddening. I could’ve used a tool like www.futureschool.com that guides students at their pace and has 24 hour support, and not just in math but in English too. It would’ve save a lot of battles between my dad and me.

I’m grateful for being done with formal math education and now find myself relearning a lot, and in new ways, as we help our kids through school. As a parent I’m thankful for the option of online learning to meet our kids where they are and propel them in the way they need to the next steps of learning.

I work hard not to talk about how much I hated math (and truthfully I don’t really love it now) and while I’ll always prefer words over numbers, I can feel proud that I found success despite my weakness.

My dad sure tried his best and that is what parenting is all about – building on our kids’ strengths and bolstering them where they need it. In today’s era of the Internet, I’m so glad that parents have a lot more tools at our disposal.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2016

* This is a sponsored post.

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Share Your Birth Story on Mother’s Circle

January 10, 2016 by ldecesare

Share Your Birth Story | MothersCircle.netMoms need to share their birth story, or stories, sometimes many times, as a part of the emotional work of integrating her birth(s).

There are so many valuable reasons to tell our stories, to share our births, and to find our strengths through the retelling.

Whatever path your birth led you on, we each make the best decisions for ourselves and our families with the information we have at any point in a labor or birth. We need to be kind in our judgments of ourselves as birthing women. Honor the moments that make us mothers.

Whether a first baby or fourth bundle, women remember the birth story for each of their babies throughout their lives. We carry those feelings of awe or disappointment, of bliss or worry, of empowerment or loss.

Readers, Twitter followers, and birth story junkies have reached out to me over the years which prompted me to post the stories of each of my very different births. A  hospital birth with epidural, episiotomy and even an unnecessary vacuum extraction, a Cesarean section and a natural, unmedicated water birth.

You can read about Ali’s birth, Michael’s birth and Anna’s birth on Mother’s Circle and I invite you to share your birth story with Mother’s Circle readers. Have you already written it? Do you feel the need to write it? Was it last week that you birthed or thirty years ago? I’m offering you a forum and a place to share your own birth story if you want it.

Please submit your story to me on my contact form and include a note giving me permission to publish your birth story on Mother’s Circle.

I look forward to hearing your sacred stories and holding a place for you here.

Note: Not all submissions will be published
and Mother’s Circle retains the right to copy edit any submissions.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2016

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Posts of Christmases Past – A Roundup

December 15, 2015 by ldecesare

Posts of Christmas Past | MothersCircle.netI love Christmastime and am rounding up some posts of Christmases past. Happy Preparations and Merry Christmas!

Take some time to Pause Smile and Breathe and enjoy the preparations and festivities.

Wondering what to do with your Christmas Tree Trunks? Here’s one of our family’s favorite traditions.

Need some new elfin inspirations: Elf ideas and More Elf Ideas.

Besides Christmas cookies, we love this refreshing, healthy and festive dessert. We serve these pretty Clementine Granitas on Christmas Eve.

Anyone in your family celebrate a December Birthday? Thoughts on birthdays close to Christmas.

Here’s a great Christmas organization guest post about using a Christmas Binder to file craft and activity ideas to select from each year.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Naked Parenting Book Trailer

December 3, 2015 by ldecesare

Thank you to my daughter, Ali, and her tech savvy for creating this Naked Parenting book trailer for the new Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World, available now.

To read more about what the second in the series is all about, click here.

Thank you for making the original Naked Parenting #1 on Amazon all day on CyberMonday! Rankings change hourly and I was thrilled to see the book downloads skyrocket.

Click here for the original Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence.

Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World Book Trailer | MothersCircle.net

Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World

December 1, 2015 by ldecesare

Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World | MothersCircle.netIntroducing the newest in the Naked Parenting series – Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World.

From social media, apps, video games, texting, cyberbullying, privacy, and identity theft, guiding kids in a digital world can be overwhelming. Parents need concrete strategies to manage technology in our homes in ways that fit our family values and culture.

Naked Parenting is parenting stripped down to the bare basics focusing on seven keys to raising kids who are self-sufficient, confident, respectful, and resilient. The seven keys – love, honesty, communication, responsibility, discipline, mistakes, and gratitude – guide the discussion in this book on technology.

Naked Parenting approaches parenting in an honest, direct, and realistic way. Guiding children with love, nurturing their strengths and self image, and instilling personal responsibility are at the heart of Naked Parenting.

It’s hard, if not impossible, for parents to keep up with the pace of technology – forget juggling work, kids, commitments, volunteer jobs, and laundry. The good news is you don’t need to be literate in every new thing that crops up. However, you do need an awareness and a parenting framework that adapts to whatever comes next.

We need ways to manage technology in our homes in a big picture, broad way that will teach our children good digital citizenship, online responsibility, self-regulation, and how to benefit from technologies while staying safe.

It’s a huge and important job. So how do we tackle all of that?

Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World gives usable tips applicable broadly to the digital world from a parenting perspective instead of from a techie viewpoint. While some specifics are used in examples and stories throughout the book, this is not meant to teach you any details about any currently popular Internet or mobile innovation. With the rapid changes in technologies, I want to give you tools that transcend specific platforms, devices, video games, or the app of the moment.

The principles of Naked Parenting overlap, interrelate, and reinforce one another. Understanding these seven keys will help you apply them across the countless scenarios of parenting through all stages and ages.

Thank you to my Mother’s Circle readers for your kind comments and emails. I love hearing your feedback in comments, on social media, or in my inbox.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare

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Get Naked (FREE) for Cyber Monday

November 29, 2015 by ldecesare

Naked Parenting Free #CyberMonday | MothersCircle.net
Enjoy Naked Parenting for free on Cyber Monday. Kindle downloads of the original Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence are free starting today at midnight until midnight on Monday, November 30, 2015 as we kick off launch week for Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World.

Do you struggle to manage technology and electronics in your family? Does screen time and social media stress you out? Do you feel outpaced by video games, apps and the endless Internet and mobile innovations popping up?

The second book in the Naked Parenting series is for you. Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World, available today in paperback, is an easy-to-read guide for parents and caregivers seeking more balance in their homes surrounding technology.

Using the seven keys to raising kids with confidence – love, honesty, communication, responsibility, discipline, mistakes and gratitude – the second Naked Parenting book walks parents through using their family values and working together to create a media plan that meets your family’s needs and culture.NOW AVAILABLE! Naked Parenting; Guiding Kids in a Digital World | MothersCircle.net

The Tech Talk, like other important parenting dialogues, is never a one time chat but rather an ongoing discussion and conversation as we help our kids to self-regluate and understand how to conduct themselves in the digital realm.

Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World supports parents as they guide their children, from toddlers to teens, in cyberspace. It’s not an easy task but it’s necessary and unavoidable.

Get Naked and download your free copy of Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence for Cyber Monday and be one of the first to read the new Naked Parenting book.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

Technology and Parenting – 5 Ways to Be Intentional

November 19, 2015 by ldecesare

As I prepare to launch my second Naked Parenting book, Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World, I share with you this guest post on technology and parenting.

Guest Post by Hilary Smith

Modern Parenting: The True Impact Of Our Technology

Technology and Parenting | MothersCircle.net

When it comes to technology and parenting, snapping a lot of selfies or spending a lot of time scrolling social media can inadvertently harm our children. We are sending messages to our sons and daughters that they are less important than our devices. Whether it’s intentional or not, our actions often leave children feeling neglected.

This side of technology is important to consider, because our devices have become ingrained in almost every aspect of our daily lives. Technology has the power to enhance our lives in so many ways that if left unbalanced, it can surprisingly have negative influences on our families. There is no doubt technology has a time and place, but parents need to step back and take an in-depth look at how our beloved devices and social media can affect our children.

Technology And Parenting

Our devices can result in a child feeling anxiety or depression. When we focus on work emails or updating posts we involuntarily reinforce the concept that our sons and daughters are not important enough to merit our full attention. There is a direct correlation between parents who overuse their devices and feelings of neglect in children.

Leading psychologist, Catherine Steiner-Adair, noted, “We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don’t matter, they’re not interesting to us, they’re not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”

Constantly checking our cell phones or devices can deprive children of valuable interaction with adults. Talking and playing with our kids might leave you feeling as if you are wasting your time, but parents need to realize that face-to-face interaction is how children learn and develop communication skills. Research and studies have proven how daily dialogue and conversations are crucial elements of child development. Not surprisingly, researchers have linked the amount of words a child hears with their ultimate chances for success.

There are correlations between social media usage and the promotion of narcissism in children. Every photo snapped or milestone updated is sending the message they are important- so important that they their images are being flooded across countless feeds. As children age, they may value their self worth based on their digital presence. While indirectly, we are breeding mini entitled narcissists and may be fueling a lack of empathy.

Overusing the Internet and Smartphones can form very real addictions. The natural development process of a child’s brain naturally predisposes adolescents to addictions. Our children are exposed to digital stimulants through our Smartphones and other technologies at a very young age and we need to be cautious that we are modeling a healthy relationship with our devices.

Our technology can interfere with our ability to bond with young children. In the Attachment Bonding Theory, children need to develop close and trusting relationships with parents to support brain development and life skills needed to succeed in life. Our dependence on technology has the potential to hinder the bonding process.

5 Ways To Be More Intentional With Our Technology

Technology is here to stay, but if we are aware of how our personal relationship with technology is affecting our parenting, we can correct the problem. The solution to this problem is all about balance and intentional choices:

1. Set aside a predetermined amount of time everyday for technology.

By selecting a certain amount of time, say a half hour during nap times or after the kidlets retire for the night, you are allowing yourself to peruse likes and comments without any guilt. The key is to make sure you log off after the amount of time has elapsed and focus on the family.

2. Develop zones in the home where there is no technology.

These “no phone zones” allow family time during meals and reserves the bedroom for sleeping.

3. Take advantage of time spent with children.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your to-do list, but those precious moments spent in carpools or while setting the dinner table are perfect opportunities to fit in a quality conversation.

4. Create ongoing dialogue in your family about technology.

It is estimated that most three year olds already log onto the Internet! Teach social media etiquette early and build on that foundation with more sensitive topics like sexting and cyberbullying when the child is the right age.

5. Lead by example.

Our children are experts at watching us and learning from our actions. Make sure you are portraying the values that matter.

We are raising digital natives and need to ensure our children have the right skill set to navigate this evolving landscape. It’s vital that we challenge ourselves to put down our devices on occasion to be present in our children’s lives. After all, it won’t matter how many grumpy cat videos you watched thirty years from now. What will matter is your family and the memories created along the journey.

About the Author:

Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Affirmations *

November 7, 2015 by ldecesare

Everything You Wanted to Know About Affirmations | MothersCircle.net*But Were Afraid to Ask

Thank you to author and artist, Susan Singer, for this guest post on the power and use of affirmations.
Try them for birth, for your health, your mental state and well-being, and even for goal-setting and reaching your dreams.
Here, Susan walks us through the whys and how-tos of using affirmations.  

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a positive statement of belief. Ex:  I am happy and prosperous.

When did affirmations start?

Affirmations have been around for as long as people could speak – we all know people with sunny dispositions who tend to look on the bright side of life – but in 1952, affirmations became mainstream when Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking.  It stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 186 consecutive weeks and has since sold around five million copies.  This small book introduced affirmations and the power of thinking positively to millions of avid readers who were ready for a shift in their thinking.

In 1978, Louise Hay wrote Heal Your Body which began as a small pamphlet containing a list of different bodily ailments and their probable metaphysical causes. Her premise is that the way we think actually helps cause our physical ailments, and that if we examine those beliefs and work with affirmations to change them, we can heal ourselves.  Her pamphlet was later enlarged and extended into her book You Can Heal Your Life, published in 1984 and has since sold over 35 million copies.

One of my favorites of her affirmations is about urinary tract infections about which, she says:
Probable cause: Anxiety. Holding on to old ideas. Fear of letting go. Being pissed off.
New thought pattern: I comfortably and easily release the old and welcome the new in my life. I am safe.

What can affirmations do for me?

Affirmations change how you speak, which can change what you think, which can change how you perceive what happens in your world, which can change what continues to happen in your life.

For example: A young woman in her 30’s, let’s call her Mona, thought she had it all – a husband, three young children, a house, two cars, a cat, a good part time job.  She thought her life’s path was clearly delineated and good.

Then her husband came home from a business trip and informed her that their marriage had reached an end time.  It was over. Done.using affirmations in labor and birth, affirmations for moms,

Her husband moved out.  Her new reality began.   She was full of anger, resentment, hurt, and grief and often felt furious with her ex for betraying her. When her children weren’t around, she stomped around the house cursing her ex, crying, and raging against the world.

Then one day at work, she got into a conversation with an older colleague. The woman began complaining about her ex-husband, saying what a jerk he was.  Mona noticed how dry and brittle the woman seemed, how drawn and bitter. She asked how long she’d been separated and learned to her surprise that the woman had divorced her husband more than twenty years before and was actually happily remarried. Mona realized she did not want to be like that woman. In that moment, she chose to create a reality she wanted to live into, one which would empower her and give her life-affirming choice from there on out.  She decided to affirm:

This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am experiencing unbridled joy.

You may be thinking: Yeah, right! That sounds ridiculous, she was just lying to herself. Which leads us to how affirmations work.

How do affirmations work?

Our brains are hardwired through genetics, upbringing, and past experiences to think in a certain way and to expect life to have certain outcomes.  For example, if you are raised wealthy, you tend to expect to have enough of what you need in life.  If you think you always have bad luck, you might tend to notice the bad luck you have more than the good.

Mona was hardwired through societal values and family experience to perceive her ex as a jerk and to blame him and to be full of rage and resentful.  Her parents had gotten divorced, and her mother was still angry ten years later even though she had initiated the divorce.  Mona got a lot of compassion and pity from her friends when she complained about her ex.  Certainly her feelings were justified. Mona could have continued to perceive herself as a victim and to be pissed off at her ex.

But how would it have served her?  Her ex was with another woman and wasn’t coming back.  He didn’t seem to feel guilty.  Her misery didn’t do anything but make her miserable and affect her children negatively.

Instead, by using an affirmation, she created an equally plausible but far more positive possibility:

This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I am experiencing unbridled joy.

Yes, it sounds absurd, given her situation, but it helped her create a vision of how life could be if she let go of the resentment and bitterness and recognized that perhaps, in fact, it just might be the best thing that ever happened to her.  Maybe, just maybe, there were wonderful surprises awaiting her which she never could have experienced if she had remained in her marriage.

That sounds great! How do I begin?

To use affirmations in your life:

  1. Become aware of your negative beliefs.  What underlying beliefs are potentially causing problems for you?  For example, perhaps you believe you are terrible in math because your second grade teacher told you that you couldn’t add 2 + 2.
  2. Write the negative belief down very clearly and simply.  In this example, it would be “I am terrible at math.”
  3. Turn the negative statement into a powerful positive one.It is important to use only positive words here because our brains are like a 2-year-old. If you tell a toddler, “Don’t touch the stove!” he will touch the stove.  He doesn’t hear “don’t!”  It’s better to tell him what he should do, for example:  “Come to Mommy and let me give you a great big hug!”  Stove forgotten.Our adult brains function that same way, so it wouldn’t be helpful to write, “I’m not terrible at math.”  More helpful, but still not perfect, would be, “Maybe I can add 2+2.  My second grade teacher was stupid and a jerk.”  Placing blame elsewhere robs us of our power to change things.More powerful would be: I am excellent at math!  I love math!  I can’t wait to learn more!These may sound a bit absurd compared to the entrenched beliefs, but just imagine living with these voices in your head rather than the others.  Feels much better, doesn’t it?

Other examples of creating positive affirmations from negative thoughts:

Change: “I’m too fat.  I have to lose 50 pounds before I can be happy.”
To: “I love my body exactly how it is.  I choose joy now.”

Change: “I’ll never have enough money.”
To: “Money is flowing in ceaselessly from all directions, expected and unexpected.”

OK, I have my affirmation written.  Now what?

breastfeeding illustration, breastfeeding affirmations, using affirmations for nursing, If your negative beliefs have been running the show for quite some time, they will take some prodding to loosen them and let them disappear.

Our brains have many neural pathways, many of which are firmly entrenched, keeping our negative thoughts in the forefront.  The job of affirmations is to help offer our brains a new path so we don’t go automatically down the same tired old pathway.

If you’re used to believing you’re awful at math, it’s going to take some work to break that pattern and to build a new one.

I recommend the following:

  1. Speak your affirmation out loud at least 100 times/day.  When stopped at a traffic light is a great time to practice this.
  2. Write your affirmation at least 100 times/day.  When you first get up or before you go to bed are great times for this since your brain is most open at those times.
  3. Each time your negative thought intrudes, replace it with your new positive thought and imagine positive scenarios which fulfill that belief.  For example, getting a 100% on a math test, enjoying your math homework, teaching someone else how to do a math problem with enthusiasm.
  4. Notice when things are different than your old belief would have had you expect so you see that the affirmations are working.

What is the expected outcome of using affirmations?

I can’t foretell your future, but I can tell you what happened for our friend Mona.

Once she replaced her resentment toward her ex with the excitement of possibility, she began to feel anticipation, wondering what sort of new joy would crop up each day.  She paid attention each time she felt joy and recognized her affirmations were coming true.  Susan Singer, how affirmations work

Ultimately, she began to explore her creativity and has become a well-known artist whose works are recognized for their life-affirming joyful tone. She also used positive thinking to create a vision of the man she wanted to bring to her as a life partner.  She was blessed to meet and marry him about ten years after her ex left her to greater possibilities.

So, will this happen for you?  I certainly can’t promise it, but what do you have to lose by trying?

Try creating a powerful positive statement to counteract an old negative belief and see what happens.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll create a new and better reality!

About the Author:

Susan Singer is the author and illustrator of Birth Affirmations, a small book containing 69 affirmations and 29 delicate graphite illustrations intended to empower the expectant mother and to create a positive mindset for giving birth and being with her baby.KimBrundagePhotography_RichmondVA_SusanSinger

 In addition, Singer is also a prolific full-time artist who has produced dozens of one-person art shows on topics mostly related to the human body:  Pregnant Nudes, 12 Naked Men, Scar Series, and Beyond Barbie, to name a few.  All of her work, including Birth Affirmations, has at its core the intention to empower others and to help them follow their own passion in order to live the most amazing life possible. You can see her artwork at susansinger.com and can purchase Birth Affirmations at BirthAffirmationsBook.com.

Fall Back: How to Get Extra Hours

October 29, 2015 by ldecesare

Fall Back: How to Get Extra Hours | MothersCircle.netIt’s that time of year, pumpkins, costumes, and daylight savings. For fall back, we gain an hour, what busy mom doesn’t love that? But I play a little game that gives me more than one extra hour.

Fall back is my day of extra hours.

Despite the darkness falling earlier and heralding cold days ahead, during  daylight savings time, I like the few hours I gain during this one day of the year.

At bedtime on Saturday night, I change only the clock in my bedroom – this is for the obvious reason of not arriving at church or Sunday morning activities an hour early. (If you don’t need to get up for anything special, you can instead give yourself the hour first thing in the morning). I find it thrilling to get into bed at my typical too-late hour and magically, it’s only midnight again!

On Sunday, I’m up and at ’em and ready to claim my extra hours. First, I putter around with my morning yoga poses, make the bed and brush my teeth and eventually, after finding a dozen more things calling my immediate attention, I finally get to the kitchen. As I start my breakfast, I have my first momentary panic that I’m late or that I’ve wasted my morning, “How could it already be that late?” I lament. But then – wait a minute – I turn back the kitchen clock and I get my second extra hour of fall back. Woo Hoo! Now I have time to sort through the mail as I sip my hot beverage.

Once I’ve tossed catalogs and shredded heaps of blahmail, picked up socks under the table (why are there always two mismatched little girl socks in the kitchen?), and spent time zinging between tasks, I make my way to my office.

I love my pale yellow corner office, and since it’s Sunday, I decide to treat myself and sit with a book to start my day. I snuggle into my tiny couch and luxuriate in the pages (or in the animated page-turning depending). Deep into the story, I’m deaf to the ticking. When I return to real life and notice the clock above me, I throw my head back wondering how it could already be lunchtime. That’s when I change the office clock and get my third extra hour.

To be honest, sometimes I don’t change this one right away because that clock is a pain. The nail it hangs on slips out of the wall and it’s a two-person job, or a one-person hour long frustration, which then defeats the purpose of my day of collecting extra hours.

Since it’s not yet lunchtime, I plunk in front of my computer, who’s clock is automatically already changed, so no fun there. As I pummel through cyber tasks feeling the excitement of checking things of my list, Anna pops in to ask if we can watch family movies. Off we head to the family room where I gasp out loud scaring the child. It can’t possibly be so late that we missed lunchtime altogether. And here it is, Fall Back: How to get extra hours | MothersCircle.netmy fourth hour gained. Racking them up in Fall-Back-O-Rama.

After eating lunch I watch my children as sweet adorable little ones with sweet adorable little voices and cheeks that I could smoosh again. After considering how amazing it would be to be pregnant and have another baby,  and after I laugh at the thought of being my age and pregnant again, I dive into a project. I work on a photo book or writing a book. It’s a good feeling to be productive, to preserve our family memories, to move forward on something that’s been hanging over my head, but I also love a good afternoon nap on a fall day.

Wait – wait – wait! It’s dark outside. What time is it? My office clock taunts me with the late hour, you should be thinking of dinner, your day is winding down, time is passing, it mocks. But then, realizing I never changed it, I triumphantly yank it off the wall, the nail tumbles behind the couch, and I ceremoniously twist that big hand back with the little hand close behind. And I just got my fifth extra hour.

Boo Ya!

If you’re really wise on your day of extra hours, you can even extend it into Monday. You guessed it, don’t change your watch until you’re on your way out the door. Just when  you’re feeling like you won’t possibly have enough time to do what you need, that extra hour comes to the rescue.

What will you do with your extra hours this Sunday?

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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5 Tips for Hiking With Kids

October 2, 2015 by ldecesare

I am so happy to share this guest post with you by friend and fellow-author, Jeanine Silversmith.
Her new book, The Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide and Journal is now available and is the perfect and one-of-a-kind resource for hiking in Rhode Island with family of all ages and abilities.
Wherever you’re taking a hike, use these 5 tips for hiking with kids.

Guest Post by Jeanine Silversmith

5 Tips for Hiking With Kids | Motherscircle.netHiking is an easy, usually free, way for you and your family to have fun while enhancing your health and well-being. Research shows that unstructured play and interaction with the natural world are important for healthy development in children as well as the physical, mental, and emotional health of both children and adults. Time in nature provides opportunity for physical activity, critical and creative thinking, personal interaction, and so much more.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re hitting the trails with children.

1. Be prepared

Before heading out, take some time to plan and prepare your family for your adventure.

Check the distance, terrain, and other information about your hike to determine if the trail is appropriate for each person in your group. When hiking with kids, involve them in picking the spot and get them excited about it.

Wear appropriate shoes such as hiking boots or sneakers and dress in layers of weather appropriate clothing (e.g. absorbent synthetics, fleece, waterproof jackets). Protect yourself from tick bites by using a repellent that contains Permethrin on your clothes and wearing long, light colored pants tucked into long, white socks.

Eat a satisfying and nutritious meal before heading out to prevent fatigue and irritability. Don’t underestimate how many calories your kids will need on the trail. I’m constantly amazed at how much my own children eat while and after we hike.

Bring a first aid kit, watch, fully charged cell phone, and plenty of water. Pack snacks that your kids really love. You can even come up with your own family GORP (“good old raisins and peanuts”) recipe using chocolate-covered raisins, dried fruit, M&Ms, nuts, butterscotch chips, etc. And make certain everyone has their own whistle, which can be heard farther away than a person’s voice, and takes less energy to use in the event of an emergency.

2. Hike smart

During the hike, keep everyone safe, motivated, and happy along the way.

Kids are usually much more likely to follow rules that they’ve had a hand in setting. So before you start, work together to set behavioral expectations. My golden rule of hiking, which we repeat at the start of each and every outing, is “Stay on the path, stay with the group, and if you’re lost, hug a tree.”

Your group should be able to see each other even if they spread out along the path, and everyone should stop when the trail curves and at trail intersections. If you do get separated or lost, staying in one spot helps searchers find you far more quickly, and you won’t be injured in a fall or in another type of accident. Hugging a tree or another stationary object and even talking to it or singing a song helps keep you calm—and then you get to call yourself a tree hugger!

Confirm your position by regularly checking your map and using the trail markers, and keep an eye on the time and the weather.

3. Take frequent breaks

Young or inexperienced hikers tire quickly. Offer snacks and drink regularly and as motivation to get to that next bench, tree, etc.

Remember the ultimate goal when hiking with kids is to get outside and have fun! (See tip #4) Go at your children’s pace and be willing to turn around sooner rather than later, even if you don’t “finish” the hike.

4. Have fun!

Praise and encourage your child(ren) along the way. If you find your kids are getting bored or tired, sing a song, ask a riddle, or play I Spy or 20 questions. Click here for a list of fun, simple activities.

Relax, laugh, and show your children how much you’re enjoying yourself. It is the best way to help them do the same.

5. Rest and Reflect

Talk with your kids about the hike and thank them for coming with you. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like and what they would want to do next time. And don’t forget to do a tick check immediately upon completing the hike, and again when you return home.

About the Author
Jeanine Silversmith grew up playing outside in the suburbs of New York City and found a love of hiking when she was a college student in Buffalo, New York. An environmental educator and mother, she established  RI Families in Nature in 2009 and works to engage students in outdoor learning experiences in both formal and informal settings. She lives with her family in Wakefield, Rhode Island.

RI Families in Nature, Hiking tips, Tips for hiking with kids, RI hiking trails

Back to School and Back to Basics

August 21, 2015 by ldecesare

Back to School and Back to Basics | MothersCircle.netTo me, the start of a new school year is a time for fresh starts, new goals, and getting back to some basics that may have slipped and drifted during the summer months. (Anyone else feel like the World’s Okayest Mom?)

We’ve all enjoyed more ice cream and hot dogs than a person should consume in a year’s time, but boy it’s been fun and yummy along the way. I’ve also been staying up later and sleeping later along with the kids. I’ve joked that I’ve shifted to Pacific time this summer which is only slightly untrue.

I love summertime and will never complain about the heat because I prefer it any day to the frigid, shivery days of winter. (While I love snow days, I am no good at being cold.)

I cherish summer’s freedoms and being unhitched from time and schedules. Reading on the beach and lazing with a book and a fancy drink (or just a water with lime) until the sun sets is my favorite summer day. Picking vegetables from the garden, cutting flowers for my desk and the tables, and watching shooting stars are some of summer’s great pleasures. It’s the season for tons of time to hang out with the kids and family and to connect with friends far and wide.

I love summer and am not ready to say good bye, but as back to school approaches, it’s clear it’s time to get back to basics, or as one friend called it, “Crack Down September.”

Time to go back to bed making and towel hanging, regular bedtimes and routines. Back to school and back to basics also means some time apart to tame the end-of-summer bickering and to have the house stay clean longer than an hour.

I have loved getting to meet new people and hear comments from parents who’ve read Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence. Just last week a woman on an airplane bought my book the second we landed – what a compliment, and what a rush last spring as a woman overheard my name and NOW AVAILABLE! Naked Parenting; Guiding Kids in a Digital World | MothersCircle.netexclaimed, “You’re Leah DeCesare? The one who wrote Naked Parenting? I love that book!” What an incredible moment for a writer.

As we embark on a new school year and work on getting back to basics, allow me to suggest this fast and easy read to give you some fresh ideas and some sparks of encouragement.

Once the kids are back to school, for me, it’s back to writing. I’m hoping to get you the next in the Naked Parenting series this fall: Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World. It’s the next topic Mother’s Circle readers voted on and I’m getting ready to deliver for you.

Cheers to a great back to school and a successful school year for your family!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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Six Months – A Love Story

July 16, 2015 by ldecesare

In celebration of our 21st anniversary this month, I am sharing our love story. All these years later, we still love to tell this story to willing listeners in our own “Harry Met Sally” story-style.
Names have been changed to conceal identities.


Six Months - A Love Story | MothersCircle.net“Honey, you never know, you could meet someone and be engaged in six months,” my mother tried to reassure me with the fantasy scenario. At 23 years old, I wondered how supportive my parents would be if that really happened, but I knew she was just relieved that Dave was no longer a husband-possibility.

If I were being honest, I was relieved, too. We had held on to the summer relationship only because we both moved to New York City that September. I had let myself swirl into a beachside romance. I betrayed myself to be with him. The breakup was right, I knew, but it felt like a failure and it still made my heart hurt.

Alone in my new room, leaning against the boxes and wiping at my tears with wet fistfuls of tissues, I hoped neither of my roommates were home. No one wants to live with a sobbing girl bringing in drama the first week, especially not two guys. I peeked out my door, sliding my arm across my eyes as if that would conceal the swelling and redness. The living room was empty and the apartment was quiet except for the distant car horns and city drone from fourteen floors below.

Meandering through the empty apartment, I sought clues about the two men I had just agreed to move in with. I examined the posters in the living room, the titles of the books, the few framed photographs. There were photos of my new roommate, Nick, smiling with a long-haired brunette and a picture of the couple among friends with Tim, my other roommate, towering in the background.

How odd it felt to be living with strangers. Yet it was intriguing, too, the idea of flipping things upside down, of moving in together before knowing one another. It felt a little like freshman year at school, hoping the college computers matched you with a compatible roommate. At least here it was temporary if things didn’t work out, and in less than 45 days, the lease would end and we’d all be packing.

Peering into the fridge for a cold drink, I felt the stretch of my salted cheeks as I grinned at the bare shelves. It was empty except for cans of beer and a jar of mayonnaise. Boys. It figured. Closing the fridge door, my eye caught the bumper sticker that crossed the face of the microwave. When Dave had dropped off some things a week earlier, before the breakup, he’d burst through the apartment criticizing everything.

“These guys are losers,” he’d concluded. “Who still listens to them?” He had said pointing at the bumper sticker. He dropped my stuff in my room and headed back to the hallway.

“Let’s go. I’ll teach you how to use the subway.”

“I know how to use the subway,” I told him, “I’ve been working here for two months and I’ve been coming to New York my whole life.”

Dismissing me, he marched ahead to the elevator, saying over his shoulder, “You’re not ready to use the S train, let’s just start with a simple line.”

The S train is a shuttle between two points. I thought, how much more simple does he think I need? But I followed him anyway. As I stood in my new kitchen remembering, I felt a dread in my stomach lurch up and kick me, another acknowledgement that Dave was not the right man for me. Anger fought against shame, disappointment entwined with betrayal. I hiccuped and let the water run in the sink. No more tears for Dave, I decided, and gulped down metallic city water from a pilfered bar glass.

Later, out with some friends who had also moved to the city after college together, Holly asked me, “Who are you living with? How did you meet these guys?”

I explained my long commute home to my parents’ house in Newtown, Connecticut while working twelve hour days and trying to find a place to live in Manhattan. A co-worker, the guy who’d recruited me, concerned with my hours and extended train ride, suggested I meet with his friend who had an open room for a month before the lease was up.

Recalling that afternoon when I knocked on the strangers’ door, I told Holly about the dark-haired, thick-browed guy named Nick who’d answered. His eyes seemed to widen with his smile as he welcomed me into the three-bedroom apartment, clearly decorated by bachelors. As we toured the small space, the other roommate nodded and muttered, “Hi,” from his bed, not bothering to look away from the television. I thought I heard Nick whisper a reprimand to him before he led me into the bedroom that would be mine.

“Wait, did you say Nick DeCesare?” Holly gasped as I recounted the story. “I know his girlfriend, Sue. Oh my gosh! Nick would make the best boyfriend or husband,” she said, her face falling into a dreamy stare.

I’ll never know, I thought vaguely, he has a girlfriend.

I hadn’t yet met her but it wasn’t long after that night that I did. They were watching a movie on the VCR when I came home. Nick introduced us and I noticed that he kept his gaze away from mine. He busied himself in the open-walled galley kitchen while she and I politely asked the basic get-to-know-you questions. Holly’s words circled in my head as Sue edged toward Nick and laid a hand on his back, visibly claiming him. He glanced up, his eyes not meeting mine, and invited me to watch with them. Sue flinched.

“Thanks, but I have plans, I’m just home to get changed. Nice to meet you, Sue.” I scooped up my work bag and slipped into my room hoping my exit would comfort her. How could I let her know that her boyfriend wasn’t on my radar? He was taken and that was enough for me, no matter what Holly proclaimed.


One night, about a month after Leah moved in, I made Tim cancel his plans so the three of us could watch the football game down the block. I needed an excuse to spend some time with her before we all moved out. She was so interested in learning the game rules and plays and, I swear, every time she turned over her shoulder to ask me a question, I worried that she’d catch me staring at her back. There was this little spot which was exposed between her scarf and the scooped neckline of her shirt and I just couldn’t stop looking.

Ever since that Thursday when she knocked on our door, I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her. When I saw her standing there, I felt like I’d been struck. I never believed in love at first sight, not until that day. I couldn’t even look at her I was so afraid that she’d see what I was feeling, and then I thought I’d never see her again.

Tim came home the next day with a check from some other girl and he’d already told her she could have the room. I made him tell her it was taken. Tim and I had been friends for a long time, but this was something he couldn’t understand. He’d never seen me act so decisively and irrationally, but he did it for me. Without even knowing if Leah would agree to move in, he gave the check back. When Leah finally called to take the room, I admit I did a little private Elvis dance.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think about Sue. Of course, I did. I mean, we’d been together since the beginning of college but we were more just convenient friends than anything else by then. It was easy to stay a couple since we had all the same friends and were always together. We were hanging out because it was comfortable. She felt that way, too. The night she first met Leah, Sue even whispered to me, “She’s so pretty and nice. You two would make a great couple.” Though I was thinking the same thing, I realized it was a strange thing for a girlfriend to tell her boyfriend.

There was one night a few weeks after that when Tim was away and only Leah and I were in the apartment. I’d been working so many late nights that we hadn’t seen each other much, though I often declined going out with friends to be home, just be around her. Some nights, when I got home late, I would see the light on in her room and I would wait up, staying in the living room, making up things to do, hoping she would come out. I stared at her door until the line of light beneath it went dark.

In the mornings, I lay awake in my room listening to her get ready. She was just on the other side of the thin wall from me, but so far away. Leah was thoughtful and quiet but I strained to hear the familiar clicks of her lipstick opening and closing, to hear the sound of her brushing her teeth. Once I heard her heels cross the room and the door lock behind her, I would get ready in the cloud of her steam and perfume.

So the night we found ourselves alone, I asked her if she’d like dinner and when she agreed, I put everything into that meal. My mother’s pasta sauce recipe, salad, bread, and wine. We ate slowly and talked for hours. I felt something I’d never felt. Ever. It was electric and I knew I wanted this. When she stood to go to bed, words and thoughts were jumping through my mind but I just sat there until, as she stepped to leave, I blurted, “Want to watch a movie?”

We viewed her choice with a couch cushion’s length between us, then said goodnight and went to our separate rooms. I felt like I had been treading water, just going through life, and it was like God knew that I needed a change and put her right into my living room.

Finally, I mustered the courage and shook off my stagnation. I was afraid to hurt Sue’s feelings but I did what I had wanted to do for a long while. She cried a little, but agreed that the time to split up was past due. We had been good friends, but we were not in love. I knew I was in love, but not with Sue. When Leah walked into my apartment, something awakened in me, I felt the shift and I didn’t want good enough anymore. Walking home from Sue’s, unattached, I felt light but unsure of how I would find my way into Leah’s heart. I didn’t have a plan, but I knew I had to try.


As the fall wore on and the New York air grew crisp, moving day arrived. I found a friend of a friend to live with and we spent weekends rejecting available apartments until we found one we both liked. Right before I left, Nick asked me again, “Are you sure you don’t want to stay on and the three of us can sign a new lease here?”

I smiled, tempted. Over the few months together, I had gotten to know the guys better, especially Nick. It was fun and easy living there but I wanted to be in an apartment with another girl. I wanted to decorate together, to comfortably walk around in pajamas, or a towel. By then, I recognized that twinge. I was realizing that I liked Nick a little bit.

Sue wasn’t around very much, but then, neither was Nick, so I couldn’t gauge if it meant anything. Sometimes I heard him come home late after I was already in bed reading. I would listen for him and try to think of reasons to emerge, but then I thought of Sue and turned off my light to sleep, moving out was the best decision. One night he made me dinner, we talked and laughed until late, it felt right. Except for the girlfriend. I thought of the post-breakup rebound warnings and worried that I was only interested in him because of things ending with Dave, but it seemed like more than that. Though I also wondered if Nick was just being friendly and I was reading too much into an evening between roommates.

One weekend, both my roommate and I had friends visiting, our small apartment overflowed with air mattresses and sofas became beds. Under the guise of wanting some guys to join us out, I called Nick and asked if he and Tim had plans. Nick said he’d gather some friends and meet us. At the small bar with live music blaring in the background, our friends intermingled, but Nick stayed beside me. In an impromptu game of sorts, periodically, everyone shifted around the table, changing who they were talking to, but Nick and I never moved. It was as if being out of our apartment freed us and we opened to one another, shouting into  each other’s ears over the drums. He told me he broke up with Sue, and before we said goodnight, he had asked me out.

My friends teased me because I couldn’t stop smiling. I didn’t care, he asked me out.


She said yes when I asked her. It took me all night but I finally asked her out, and she said, “Yes.” I couldn’t believe she’d called that night. Tim and I had plans to go to a show, but I persuaded him to forget it and come with me. I got a few more guys to agree to skip it and come, too. There was no way I was going to let this opportunity pass.

I didn’t wait the standard two days, I called her the next day to make plans and we went to dinner and a movie that week. I still remember what she was wearing. It was so easy to talk with her, I was happy when we were together, and yet, in the theater I felt like I was twelve again. I hesitated over and over before finally reaching out to take her hand. With her fingers between mine, it was simple but it felt like my chest was exploding. I couldn’t concentrate on the movie, I only thought of the feeling of her skin against mine.
She lived in midtown and Tim and I had a new apartment uptown, I got us a cab and we drove to her apartment building. Standing on the sidewalk, those schoolboy inhibitions washed over me, I was so afraid to mess anything up.

“I had a good time tonight,” she said, looking up at me.

I leaned forward, wanting to kiss her, moving to kiss her. I had thought of this moment, this kiss, for months, and I closed the space between us. My lips neared hers, hovering, prolonging the incredible tension, until she shifted, moving her lips into mine.


It was the perfect kiss. I had fallen in love with this man. This man that Holly had prophesied would make the best boyfriend or husband.

I knocked at his door and our love story began. It was the day that changed my life. We moved in together as strangers in September. Our first date, our first kiss, was in November. In March, Nick and I were engaged. It was exactly six months after that phone call. My mom turned out to be right.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015

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5 Tips to Improve Your Relationship With Your Teen

July 8, 2015 by ldecesare

Thank you to Karen Corcoran-Walsh for this guest post on how to improve your relationship with your teen. Karen’s profession is in helping teens and adults with substance abuse and these tips are so valuable in helping teens avoid drug abuse problems. They are lessons that are important to all parents with kids of any ages and are things I talk about in Naked Parenting, I believe in these ideas.

By Karen Corcoran-Walsh

5 tips to improve your relationship with your teen1. Spend time with your teen

It’s all too easy for parents to be sidetracked right when their children need them most — in the teenage years – because our teens are so much more independent now. Our teens need our undivided attention. The fact of the matter is, parents need to spend more time with their children when they reach adolescence, not less.

Unfortunately, this is also the time when the kids get busy with school, sports and youth group activities, and parents are often at the peak of their careers. We’re all busy, but it’s essential that you chisel out time on a regular basis to give your teen your full attention.

A busy, stressed-out parent may allow things with their teenager to go on autopilot, and to allow them segregate themselves and spend too much time alone. When their teen makes mistakes, and they will, the parent may respond in ways that don’t always convey unconditional love. This engenders the building of the proverbial wall between the parent and teen in their relationship and suddenly the teenager and parent become distant.

You see, teenagers need their parents more than they will ever admit. And when the relationship is broken, it is all too easy for a teenager to start down the wrong path in life. When they do, it is a wake-up call for the parents.

Relationships with teenagers thrive when time is spent together, in a setting where everyone agrees, that nobody is perfect and unconditional love is received by all.

2. Feel the Love

Your teenager’s most fundamental need is to feel loved by you. By feeling your unconditional love, he or she is better equipped to handle the bumpy road of adolescence. Your teen needs constant affirmation of your love. Think of it like a bank account that only accepts relational currency.

On the flip side of the coin, every negative interaction is a withdrawal. If you withdrawal more than you deposit, you deplete your teen’s account, leaving your teen feeling abandoned and unloved. Instead of expressing that to you, he or she may misbehave, act out in school, have tantrums, or rebel. This turns opportunities for connection into power struggles which leave everyone angry and discouraged.

Your goal is to keep your teen’s emotional bank account as full as possible. By doing this, when the inevitable “clash” arises, your teen has enough relational currency to cover it.

3. Spend Time Together … One-on-One

Of all advice you hear or read, this one you cannot ignore. Spend individual and focused time with your teen each and every week. Make it a habit. Take your teen out for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, malls, movies – the list is endless. Even if they resist or say they are too busy, you must insist. This tells your teen “You are worth spending time with.” Drive together or meet in a place you can talk and come prepared with a topic to discuss that interests your teen. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Remember, your positive interactions with your teen must outweigh the negative.

4. Listen

Listening is one of the most powerful, yet under-appreciated ways of displaying affection and to improve your relationship with your teen. True emphatic and active listening demonstrates a sincere interest in the other person. You can do this by asking questions and listening intently to what your teen is saying. Remember, listen more and answer less.

5. Show Your Teen Affection

Showing your teen affection can be a tricky thing. Due to developmental changes, you may find that the way you expressed love in the past may not work as well now that he/she is an adolescent. Your teen may act embarrassed of you or reject you and push you away. For this, a pat on the back, touch on the shoulder, high five or fist bump may be more appropriate now. Follow your teen’s lead on this one, especially when it comes to timing, place and manner. If you’re not sure what to do, ask, trust me, he’ll tell you. Although it may seem like your teen doesn’t want your affection, nothing could be further from the truth.

When you keep your teen’s emotional bank account full, you’re able to form a stronger connection between the two of you. A strong connection leads to better communication and a deeper mutual understanding  and helps you to improve your relationship with your teen. Make regular deposits!

Karen Corcoran-Walsh owns and runs two substance abuse treatment centers in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. One is for teens – Inspirations for Youth and Families – and the other is for adults – the Cove Center for Recovery. They are both licensed to treat dual-diagnosed clients.  In layman terms, dual diagnosis is the term used when a person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) and a problem with alcohol or drugs. A person who has a dual diagnosis condition has two separate illnesses, and each one needs its own treatment plan. Click here to read an earlier guest post on Mother’s Circle by Scott Brand, Ten Warning Signs of Teen Marijuana Addiction: What Parents Need to Know.

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Happy Fourth of July

July 4, 2015 by ldecesare

Happy 4th of July | MothersCircle.netHappy Fourth of July!

I love the traditions, the visible patriotism everywhere, the time with family and friends that the Fourth of July brings, but I also like to reflect on what Independence Day really means.

Here is a round up of a few past Fourth of July and patriotic posts. Have a restful, fun, and appreciative holiday weekend and let’s share and keep that pride of the United States of America with us throughout the year.

The Meaning of Independence Day – with the Declaration of Independence in full.

Song Lyrics for the Fourth of July

Fly Your Flag

Remembering September 11

I’m proud to be an American and toast the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Happy Fourth of July!

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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.

Thank you for clicking on the image below to cast a vote for Mother’s Circle. Each click lands you on the home page and will help bring Mother’s Circle back to page one on Top Mommy Blogs! Thank you!

© 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.


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


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.

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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