Blog Archives

Help Your Kids Prevent Cyberbullying

August 30, 2016

This is a post and accompanying infographic are contributed to Mother’s Circle by several anti-cyberbullying nonprofits to guide parents in helping our children to prevent cyberbullying.

There’s no way to deny that technology is an important part of modern life. Teens check their social media profiles over one hundred times a day. This is a pretty insanely high number, so, as a parent, you may be worried about what exactly they’re doing while they’re busy tweeting, texting, and snapchatting. A very common concern for parents right now is cyberbullying. How can you protect your kids online? Keep reading for a few tips.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is similar to the kind of bullying you grew up with, except that it takes place entirely using electronic technology. Sometimes, this bullying comes as a response to something your teenager posted online or did in person, but other times, it’s entirely random. It’s definitely a sad situation to face, but a little bit of education and preparation can help you prevent it from happening again.

Anomynity

Websites like Ask.fm and YikYak allow teens to share their thoughts openly and anonymously. For some, this can be a bit of a freeing activity, but it can quickly lead to disastrous effects. Having an honest conversation about these apps will help your teen make responsible choices about the internet and better understand your point of view.

Be Supportive

If your teen is have trouble with cyberbullying, don’t lay the blame on them. At this point, it doesn’t do any good to remind them of how they could have prevented the bullying from taking place. Instead, be supportive and accepting of their struggles. When they’re feeling a bit better, you can have a discussion about internet safety going forward.

Set An Example

While you’re worrying about your kids having issues with cyberbullying, so are plenty of other parents. Talk to your children about how to not become cyberbullies themselves. Remind them that everything they put on the internet is permanent, and that they could seriously hurt someone with their words.

Honesty

Honesty is the best policy. Tell your kids that cyberbullying didn’t exist when you were their age, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them with it. In order to work with your kids on this issue, they have to trust you. If you pretend to know lots about technology, they’ll quickly lose this trust. Be honest- admit when you don’t know the answer to something, then go and figure it out together. [Honesty is one of the keys to parenting with confidence in the Naked Parenting series.]

Infographic

For younger teens, the infographic below is a great resource to educate them on the risks and benefits of social media use, especially as it relates to cyberbullying.

LTYM Listen to Your Mother – I’m Ready

July 18, 2016

LTYM cast member Providence 2016 #LTYM Listen to Your Mother Show | MothersCircle.netI am thrilled to share my reading, I’m Ready, in this year’s Providence Listen to Your Mother show. Let me know your thoughts, as always, I would love to hear from you.

It was a privilege to be a part of the LTYM community across the country and across the years of cast members. Thank you to Ann Imig and the Providence producers: Chelley, Brianne, Lauren, and Kirsten.

Full text on this post on Mother’s Circle. Click below to read more.

How Dave Wadapadatuckachuck Got His Name

June 13, 2016

How Dave Wadapadatuckachuck Got His Name | MothersCircle.netHere’s the story of Dave Wadapadatuckachuck. He joined our family about four years ago.

One night at the dinner table, Anna, I think she was about eight, asked about changing names when you get married. We told her she doesn’t have to but can change her name if she wants, and in one joking invention, I blurted out, “Like if you marry Dave Wadapadatuckachuck, you’d probably want to keep DeCesare.” We all burst out laughing and since then, Dave has been hanging around.

Once, the kids joined a building contest at a science workshop and they were “Team Wadapadatuckachuck,” that poor leader struggled when he had to announce their name. Then there was the time when, in some other dinner table discussion years later, I mistakenly threw out Dave’s name but associated him with Ali instead of Anna. With perfect comedic timing, Anna turned to Ali and with feigned indignation said, “You stole my man!” Talk about a fall out of your chair moment!

Giving Kids Our Full Attention

April 1, 2016

Giving Kids Our Full Attention | MothersCircle.net

The Sign of Good Character

March 21, 2016

Sign of Good Character | MothersCircle.net

Children Must Know They Are Loved

February 19, 2016

Know They Are Loved | MothersCircle.net

Posts of Christmases Past – A Roundup

December 15, 2015

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

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.

Naked Parenting Book Trailer

December 3, 2015

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 Naked Parenting 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

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.

Get Naked (FREE) for Cyber Monday

November 29, 2015

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.

5 Tips for Hiking With Kids

October 2, 2015

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

Back to School and Back to Basics

August 21, 2015

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.

Six Months – A Love Story

July 16, 2015

On our 21st anniversary, 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.

LEAH

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.

5 Tips to Improve Your Relationship With Your Teen

July 8, 2015

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.

Still Building Hope

May 18, 2015

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

[caption id="attachment_4931" align="alignright" width="225"]Hannah being teacher for the day with Mrs. Ratigan. Hannah being teacher for the day with Mrs. Ratigan.[/caption]

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!

Think Spring!

March 30, 2015

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?

Planning Your North Conway Vacation

March 10, 2015

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:

What I Love About Snow Days

January 27, 2015

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.

How to Make Clementine Granita

December 23, 2014

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.

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

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

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.

cut oranges tangerines mandarins

#GivingTuesday 2014

December 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

How to Live in the Gratitude Circle

November 26, 2014

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

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

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

A Child Who Knows She is Loved

November 20, 2014

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

Parents Set the Tone for the Family

November 5, 2014

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

You are the Single Greatest Influence

October 16, 2014

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

5 Ways to Create Happy Memories With Your Kids

October 8, 2014

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

Guest post by Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom.

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

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

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

The best memories and most fun are the messiest activities!

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

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

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

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

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

We Shouldn’t Engineer Childhood

September 26, 2014

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

Delight in the Journey

September 15, 2014

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

Giving Kids Our Undivided Attention

August 28, 2014

parenting quotes, Naked Parenting quotes, raising kids with confidence, parenting tips

10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism

August 19, 2014

10 tips to teach kids, volunteerism, teaching kids to serve, serving and giving, teaching kids to appreciate what they haveThank you to Prayerful Mom for allowing me to guest post. I love this post and have been wanting to write about service and volunteerism for awhile now. It’s so important to teach our kids perspective, giving, and gratitude in our world of plenty.

Check out my 10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism.

Do you struggle to teach your children about the value of “stuff” and the importance of helping others? Do you search for ways to teach your kids to appreciate what they have and to offer some perspective?

Set the example and volunteer together, locally and globally. Explain to your kids why you give money to whom you do. Use a variety of ways to teach the lessons of serving and gratitude. Multiple experiences and regular volunteerism, or involvement in a cause, will have a greater impact on children than the once-in-a-blue-moon approach.

Here are 10 tips to teach kids about volunteerism

Thank you, Mother’s Circle readers, for your support, your sharing, your votes on Top Mommy Blogs, and your kind emails and comments!

Enjoy volunteering with your kids!

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

Naked Parenting Book Trailer

July 10, 2014

Yesterday I posted about my new book – Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence. It’s now available on Amazon.

Here is the Naked Parenting book trailer, come on – Get Naked!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SnD4FkV3go

 

naked parenting book trailer, naked belly, belly button,

Naked Parenting – New Parenting Book from Mother’s Circle

July 9, 2014

Naked Parenting book, image Naked Parenting, raising kids with confidence, honest parenting, tips for being confident parent, parent book for teens, parent book for tweens, parenting book for all ages, I’m proud and excited to announce the publication of Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence.

Over the thirteen years working with new parents and helping families transition to parenthood, I’ve received many calls and emails from clients, from the immediate postpartum period to years later, asking parenting questions. Many clients and blog readers have asked or suggested I write a book – so here it is!

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. Nudity not required.

Naked Parenting describes my parenting principles and philosophies and allows readers to apply these ideas to their own style of parenting using their own household rules and values. I share specific tips, examples and suggestions that families can begin using right away.

It’s a quick read that will leave you ready to try new techniques in your family. One early reader was heading on vacation after finishing Naked Parenting and told me she was going start the next day by focusing on one aspect she’d learned in the book that really resonated with her. Another early reader felt like she was sitting talking with me over a cup of tea as she read it – what a compliment – and I hope you feel that way, too. Pour yourself some iced tea and join me!

I’d love to hear how Naked Parenting impacts your family – use the contact form or share your thoughts in the comments below. As a Mother’s Circle reader, you already know a lot about my writing style and parenting ideologies, and I hope you will enjoy Naked Parenting. Click here to see Naked Parenting on Amazon.

Thank you for your readership and your support!

I’m grateful for the advance praise for Naked Parenting

Song Lyrics for the 4th of July

July 4, 2014

4th of July songs, country song lyrics about America, American songs, Independence Day songs, Happy Independence Day!

Last year I posted the meaning of Independence Day including the entirety of the Declaration of Independence. This year, I’m celebrating this great day with song lyrics for the 4th of July.

After years of resisting, and fighting my dear friend, Dana’s, attempts to make me listen, in the last eight years, I have become a country music fan. I get teary-eyed listening to the stories or laugh along with the songs with a sense of humor.

I love Zac Brown Band (I took my daughter for a one-on-one mother daughter weekend to see them perform and have written about his Camp Southern Ground) and get a little choked up still at the patriotic part in Chicken Fried. At our local elementary school, the kids sing Lee Greenwood’s Proud to be an American and I swear I cannot keep it together hearing those sweet little voices sing those incredible lyrics.

8 Parenting Lessons from Frozen

June 17, 2014

parenting tips, parenting lessons from Frozen, lessons from the movie Frozen, kids watching Frozen, drawing of Olaf, Olaf the snowmanI know, I know, we’re all “Frozened-Out,” but I had to finally share the parenting lessons from Frozen that I’ve been thinking about. I’m a little delayed in putting these Frozen thoughts to paper – um, to blog post – since I’ve been busy writing a parenting book, Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Your Kids With Confidence. Details coming soon!

So back to the parenting lessons from Frozen …

How many times have you seen Frozen in your family? Three? Five? Eight? Have you hit a dozen times? How many times have you sung/heard/hummed “Let it Go”? That’s got to be nearing the hundred mark at least! Hasn’t “Let it go” become the new theme song and theme phrase for everything? Don’t stress – let it go – then your head goes right into the lyrics.

Frozen is one of my favorite movies, not just my favorite Disney movie, but I think I have to add it to my list of all favorite movies. And, having seen it more times than I’d like to admit, I can’t help but see some great parenting lessons from Frozen.

1. Accept your children for who they are – and nurture it.

This one hits you right in the face at the start of Frozen. Poor Elsa wasn’t accepted unconditionally, sure, her parents, the rulers of Arendelle, thought they were doing the right thing, but they squelched her essence, even made her ashamed and embarrassed by who she was. Her parents didn’t let her be herself, instead she had to hide her true self.

I cringe to admit it, but there are times we do this as parents, sometimes in small ways that are almost hidden. The key is to recognize it and take a different action course. Do you want your book bug to be more athletic? Do you want your daughter to play field hockey like you did? Do you encourage your art-loving son to join the soccer team? Do you expect A’s from your B student?

Encouraging them to fulfill their potential and offering opportunities for diverse experiences are wonderful but there can be a fine line, can’t there?

In Naked Parenting, Naked Love is the first key – 100% full, generous, crazy-love for our kids and making sure they know it to their core, without a question. Wholly accepting them for who they are, helping them shine in their strengths and learn from and grow from their weaknesses, that’s our job as parents. I think the Frozen trolls are a wonderful example of unconditional love and acceptance.

2. Family first and love conquers all.

Tagging onto the first lesson, sisterly love and bonds are a main Frozen theme. Didn’t you think for awhile that the “only an act of true love can save her” was a kiss from Kristoff? I let the screenwriters take me right along that thinking for most of the film – but then the ultimate lesson was that it was a sister’s love that saved her, not a romantic love.

Building The Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness

April 8, 2014

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

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

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

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

[caption id="attachment_3617" align="alignright" width="300"]Destiny Africa choir, Kampala Uganda, Wasiko, Mary Phiona, Dorothy, me and Claire[/caption]

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

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

Child Development Birth to Age 5

March 26, 2014

Developmental Milestones
Source: Early-Childhood-Education-Degrees.com

Motherhood: Juggling Eggs

March 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

The Science of Raising Happy Kids – by Happify

March 12, 2014

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

7 Ways to Make your Own Luck

March 11, 2014

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

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

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

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

7 Ways to Make Your Own Luck

1. It all begins with attitude.

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

2. Do the work.

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

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

Floating Wishes – Fun Activity for Kids and Adults

February 20, 2014

floating wishes, flying dreams, fun family activities, fun youth group activities, activity for churches, sunday school activities, blessingways, activities for families, family rituals, traditionsFloating wishes has become a tradition for Valentine’s Day in our family but could be used for birthdays, New Year’s goals, Blessingways, or to mark any special celebration or ordinary day.

How to Make Floating Wishes:

1. Cut squares out of any color tissue paper you like.

Match the color to the theme of your event or celebration. Cut the squares about 3″ x 3″ with very even edges to help them stand up later.

2. Pass out the tissue paper squares and pencils and write on the squares.

Distribute the papers to your guests or family and ask them to write their wish, dream, prayer, gently with the pencil on the tissue paper.

You may provide different directions to your participants depending on the occasion. For example, this Valentine’s Day, Anna handed out three pieces of hot pink tissue paper to each family member and told us that one was for a wish, one was for a dream and one was a thought for the world.

If you used this for a church retreat or youth activity, perhaps you’d have everyone write a prayer in general or for a specific person or cause. As a part of a Blessingway for moms-to-be, you might have everyone write a special thought for the new mother, the new baby and her family.

http://youtu.be/bkZUEIkosNI

3. Roll the paper up around a pencil.

Use the pencil and roll the tissue paper into a tight tube around the pencil. When you take it off it will loosen, that’s okay, but you want it to be able to stand up on one side like a toilet paper tube.

What’s in Your Happiness Toolbox?

February 5, 2014

happify, vintage buttons, buttons in spiral, happiness toolbox, how to get happy, ways to be happier, science of happinessI’ve been honored to be one of the first Happify Pioneers and recently wrote a guest post for the Happify blog: What’s in Your Happiness Toolbox?. (If you’re wondering: What is Happify? Click here to learn more.)

In birth, parenting and in happiness, it turns out, I like the idea of having options, a variety of tools and ways to handle a situation, confront a setback or solve a problem. Visually, I picture a toolbox of choices.

In teaching childbirth education classes, I expose families to a wide range of options for their birth experience including choices for relaxation, movement, labor and birth positions and the very first decisions as parents.

I love the quote by Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, authors of A Good Birth, A Safe Birth, who said: “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.” As in birth, so it is in life. You have lot’s of options to increase your contentment and happiness –

Goal Setting for Kids

January 9, 2014

goal setting for kids, setting goals, new years goals, notebook paper on bulletin board, how to have kids set goalsGoal setting: it’s way better than “making resolutions!” Goal setting is a life skill and a gift to teach our kids young.

I love the Napoleon Hill quote, “A goal is a dream with a deadline,” we can dream, but we need to quantify it to help us achieve it.

Teaching and modeling goal setting to kids is setting them up to strive in life, it’s putting action behind the words: “You can do anything you set your mind to” or “you can be anything you want to be.” Teaching kids how to set goals and map out mini-goals along the path is giving them the tools to really be anything they want to be.

Effective goal setting includes writing it down. Good, old-fashioned pen and paper! You can have your kids illustrate the goal or cut out magazine pictures and make a collage around their written goal. Hang itset goals, alphabet blocks, goal setting tips, activities for goal setting, I want to be a better reader, get straight A's, mini-goals, quotes on goals somewhere prominent, above their bed, beside the bathroom mirror, somewhere they can see it during daily tasks (like teeth brushing, hopefully!)

2014 Reasons to be Grateful

January 1, 2014

2014, 2014 reasons to be grateful, list of blessings, get happy, feel grateful, thankfulness list,One thing I know for sure is that GRATITUDE is the key to happiness. Being able to see the good around us, taking note of the blessings in our lives, even when things are in chaos, is not always easy, but within it lies happiness and contentment.

I had the idea to list 2014 reasons to be grateful, so here goes, I’m challenging myself to find that many.

1 Amazing husband
3 Incredible children
2 Supportive parents
2 Caring in-laws
2 Kind-hearted sisters
1 Fun brother
3 Precious nephews
10 Fingers to work, type, touch, cook, live, DO
1 Healthy heart
1 Mouth for kissing, smiling and talking
2 Arms to hug my family, to play tennis, do yoga, and do a million other things
7500 Body Parts: Okay, so before I list every body part, the American Association of Anatomists has 7,500 listed parts and that’s 7500 reasons to be grateful – even if I can’t pronounce them all. But let’s keep going, I allow for 25 parts that I can easily be thankful for: my eyes, arms, hands, lungs, ears, legs, heart, mouth, fingers, and brain.
100 = 25 Healthy body parts on my three kids and husband
250 = 25 Healthy body parts on my parents, in-laws, sister, brother and nephews

So we are up to 378 reasons to be grateful – let’s keep going! This will be harder than I thought but it’s making me happy just counting my blessings.

I’m thankful for:
Friends
The 500 kids of the Destiny Africa Choir and at the Kampala Children’s Centre
Our church and the people thereDestiny Africa, The Children's Centre for Hope and Wellness, KCC, Uganda home for orphans, giving tuesday, medical center in uganda
Newtown, my hometown
Books – I’m sure I have over 2014 books to be thankful for!

p-_j53ayb9sRH9s