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You Need This to Organize Your Photos

March 8, 2016

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.

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

Ali’s Birth Story

December 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

It never dawned on me at that time to change providers, I just stayed with the doctor I’d been seeing for years, but as soon as Ali was born, I knew I’d made a mistake.

My Christmas Binder

December 20, 2013

Thank you to my friend, Danielle, an inspiring Mom and a believer in the importance of family traditions and rituals. I aspire to be as organized as she is, read here about her brilliant Christmas binder idea.
Danielle is the voice behind Festival Fete’s blog, Festival Fete and her own blog, Rock-Paper-Snips.

Guest Post by Danielle Salisbury, Find Danielle on Facebook

christmas crafts, Christmas baking ideas, Christmas activities for kids, organizing for Christmas, Christmas organization,  Christmas traditionsI admit it. I am one of those super-organized people who I think drive other people crazy. When confronted with a mess, after the initial rush of panic, I actually get joy from creating order out of chaos. I also love a celebration, and with the holidays, I tend to go a little over board and end up feeling overwhelmed. So, finally a few years ago I discovered my own little holiday tradition that keeps me in check (so I don’t go too overboard) and helps me keep a bit of order in the chaos of holiday planning. It’s my Christmas Binder.

In the binder, I have photos, recipes, menus, Christmas “To Do” list, Christmas card list, gift ideas, crafts, table settings, decorating ideas and a gift and tip list. I love being able to reference back to see what we gave the babysitter last year and how much we gave in tips!

organized Christmas, red binder, Martha Stewart Christmas, going overboard for Christmas, limoncello, homemade Christmas gifts, cooking for Christmas, menus for holiday dinner, Probably the the most useful part of the book is my personal notes on menus and what we cooked. For example, the year that I made seafood risotto on Christmas Eve (thinking I would satisfy the Italian tradition of seven fishes in one big dish) we didn’t sit down to eat until 10:00 pm and unfortunately we hardly remember the dish because of all the wine that we were sharing with the risotto during the three hours of cooking! Now I can refer to my notes to see that I shouldn’t start shucking lobster and shellfish an hour before you expect to eat it.

One of my favorite things about this binder is that it is a place where I can put a great idea and say to myself, “someday…I WILL do/make/cook that.” And eventually, some of those inspirations become a reality.

I usually try to come up with one handmade gift item each year, (usually something for eating or drinking) such as a jam, Limoncello liquor, truffles, etc. This year, paging through my binder I found a recipe for cranberry vinegar and decided that would be my foodie gift. The recipe was from Coastal Living Magazine in 2000. So even though it took me 12 years to finally make this – it did happen eventually!

Christmas Tree Trunks

December 16, 2013

what to do with Christmas tree trunks, fresh cut on tree, fresh cut christmas tree, traditions with Christmas tree, christmas tree memories, ideas for christmas tree trunksWe began collecting a fresh cut from our Christmas tree trunks the year Ali, our first daughter, was born. This is one of my very favorite Christmas traditions each year. I save the tree trunk disk until after Christmas when I write something special about that year’s holiday celebration.

The dates of each of my children’s and nephews’ first Christmases and the years of my grandparent’s last ones are marked on the tree trunks. The year it snowed two feet and the years we moved and were expecting babies are noted on others. One tree trunk slice commemorates the Christmas Eve that we were visited by the Fire Department. (It was just broiled asparagus but those guys tore themselves away from “A Christmas Story” to check it out and we enjoyed a cheerful visit.)

tree trunk tradition, writing on Christmas trees, scrooge Christmases past, ideas for Christmas traditions, new baby Christmas tradition, live christmas trees, allergic to Christmas treesSome tree trunk pieces are skinny, others so wide I could write a long story on it. Every year, as we unpack the decorations, the basket that holds our Christmas tree trunks is always poured over and cherished. The kids lay them out, read each one and fondly remember Christmases past, where we were, and highlighted moments.

The first year we moved to Rhode Island, I had the fantastic idea of cutting down a pine tree from our yard, it was too large for it’s spot against the patio. It was not only efficient, the tree had to come down, but also sentimental. I thought how special it would be to have our first Christmas tree in our new home be from our own yard, and besides, then it’s disposal will be taken care of by the town’s tree removal in January – a perfect and practical plan!

[caption id="attachment_1032" align="alignleft" width="300"]elves with tree stumps, tree stump tradition, Christmas tree cuttings, elfmagic.com, silly elves, crispin, Elves playing with the tree trunk cuttings[/caption]

Nick assured me the tree was way too big to be our tree and wanted to cut just the top off, I hemmed and hawed and insisted and finally, in the tree went. It was way too big.

Organizing Kid’s Artwork

September 19, 2013

organizing kids artwork, still life pastel, vase of flowers in pastels, kids pastels, how to save kids artAs we start the new school year, how will you manage organizing kid’s artwork projects and the heaps of paintings, drawings and craft creations? Whether you have a preschooler’s colorful stick figures or a teen’s 3-D science presentation, here’s a solution that I love!

Many years ago, before I was in the digital mode for photography, and pre-smart phones, I read about an idea that stuck with me: take pictures of your children’s artwork and then assemble a book of the pictures. I’ve only done this for the last four school years, but with everything electronic now, it’s a task that’s quite easy, with a little organization. (So why haven’t I started last school year’s book yet?)

When I do start it (writing this is motivating me to get to it) I use and really like Shutterfly. (You can click the link on the sidebar to go directly to Shutterfly). I am comfortable with their tools and products, they offer frequent discounts on photo books and their customer service has been exceptionally responsive when I’ve had any questions. There are other options out there (iPhoto, Tiny Prints, Snapfish, Mixbook, Lulu) for you to peruse.

When a kiddo comes home with a Groundhog Day hat, I put it on their head and take a picture, then throw away the hat. When the paints come out and the creativity flows into stacks of masterpieces, I snap a shot of each one, and toss them.mermaid painting, mermaid art, drawing mermaids, kids art tips, art books, photo books for artwork, ariel painting, how to organize kids art

First Day of School Traditions

August 28, 2013

first day of school, first day of school traditions, family traditions for school, starting school, back to school, back to school 2013, first day of school nervousBack to school is like a parent’s New Year’s. The calendar rolls into a new school year, new goals are set, there is hope in the air for a fresh year. My mind visualizes the academic year and on the first day of school, and like on the first day of a new year, I tend to reflect back.

As I’m sure so many people do, we have the tradition of taking pictures on the first day of school. The images mark their moves through the grades and even offer proof of unrecognized growth from September to June. I love family record-keeping projects like photo books to highlight the year’s events and kids art photo books.

The first day of school pictures are filled with emotions as I remembering their first day of school jitters (and my own) and how quickly they evaporate. The excitement of wearing a new shirt, meeting their teacher(s) and the anticipation of seeing friends all jump out of those pictures. I laugh at how their over-loaded back packs, filled high with supplies, causes them to tip and lean.

Their first day nervous-excited grins peer out at us, year after year. The pictures mark my babies growing up. Right. Before. My. Eyes. How is it that I just dropped off Ali for her very first day of preschool? I can vividly remember each of my bright-eyed Kindergarteners eagerly jumping on the school bus and waving good-bye through the window. Another proud step toward independence as my heart squeezed and I was left waving at the departing bus, swatting at a tear.

[caption id="attachment_3282" align="aligncenter" width="300"]first day of school pictures, school pictures, school traditions, family pictures, recording family life, My three kiddos off to school this morning.[/caption]

What Was Your Childhood Bedroom Like?

January 26, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”

I’ve accepted her invitation, this is my second post in the series. Last week was about how I got my name.
This week’s prompt is: What was your childhood bedroom like? Give a tour. How did it change as you matured?

[caption id="attachment_1549" align="alignleft" width="231"]sisters dressing up, kids playing house, girl dressing up as boy, sisters getting along, sisters laughing, siblings playing, pink suitcase, A favorite activity, Beth and I dressing up. I was 7, she was 5.[/caption]

I lived in one house, in one bedroom for my entire childhood. Until my later years of college, I even came home to that bedroom from school. (It was fair that I eventually got bumped, my brother had grown up with the booby-prize of a bedroom.)

Birth Hill Road in Newtown, Connecticut. A white colonial up on a hill and my bedroom was in the back corner, facing “the Big Rock” in the woods. My sister, Beth, and I shared that room when we were little, my Mom painted Raggedy Ann dolls over our beds in place of head boards. Each doll held a flower and faced the other.

Once, years after the Raggedy Anns were painted over, when we had redesigned the layout of the room and had our beds meeting in an “L” shape, our little brother was running from tip to tip of each bed and then tripped, perhaps on a sister’s foot if memory serves me, and launched into the corner of a windowsill. Hospital. Stitches. Angry Mother.

I’m not sure how old I was when Beth moved down the hall. Her new room was very cool. My Dad built cabinets and shelves out from the wall so her bed nestled into the wall. Book shelves and curtains made it a cozy nook.

My memories of when I had the room to myself are of tons of matching furniture, my parents had bought a double set for when I had my roommate. On my own, I loved organizing the shelves and my closet, I was neat and savored having my own space. I had forgotten until writing this, I had a bunny collection on one of those shelves, various ceramic bunnies in all sizes and poses, wonder where those are now.

As a teen, I got my own phone in my room for Christmas, it was just a house phone, connected to the one family phone number, but it was MY phone, in MY room with privacy! It had a really long cord and no cradle, it was 80’s hip and could be hung up on any of my many dresser surfaces.

I didn’t have much input into the decor or scheme really, which didn’t bother me, but I loved arranging the things I had and keeping my space organized. The colors were peachy and a green shaggy kind of rug, evidence of my 70’s childhood. The dressers had hutches attached to most of them and there were sweet little apricot flowers and a basket weave-type pattern in them. Not my style now, but I loved them then.

Over the years, it changed and my Dad even put in another window facing the woods in our back yard. He was always an awesome builder and woodworker but my Mom would attest (and complain) that he wasn’t big on prep or clean up work. He loved the demo part of the job and cut the hole for my new window without putting down a drop cloth. For months and months after that job was done we heard pieces of sheet rock going up the vacuum (remember, it was shag carpet, lot’s of room to hide plaster chunks!)

That room framed my ordinary everyday life: Late nights of homework, sleepovers with friends, talking with boys, posters on the back of my door. And that room framed the extraordinary life moments: Primping for dances, gowning for proms, talking with boys.

Years after I moved out, my bridesmaids and I stood in my old bedroom in front of an air conditioner in the no-longer-new-window, lifting our dresses to the cool breeze on that scorching July day. I was so thankful that Nick, my husband got to know the home and room I grew up in, but my kids never did.

When my parents sold the house and moved out not long before our first baby was born, the whole family was together and we walked room to room and everyone shared a memory for each room. Laughter, tears from laughter, tears from sadness, sadness from good-bye. Nearly three decades of family memories lived in those rooms, so many of them in my corner of the house.

Family Movies – Record the Everyday Stuff

January 7, 2013

family watching movies, watching family movies, man laughing at movie, funny family videos, capturing funny moments, family snuggling on couch, girl in green shirtFamily movies are favorite viewing material in our house. In the busy days leading up to Christmas, the kids had been begging and asking to watch family movies but we weren’t able to make it happen until this weekend.

The fun begins when the kids try to agree on what era of family life we want to watch: the pre-Anna years or the pre-Anna and Michael years, what ages, what season, what holidays and what favorite moments.

Highlight moments are the “ouch” dance, the bowling video and the broccoli face movie. There is no limit to the number of times we can crack up and rewatch the same silly scenes.

Holidays and special events are always fun to watch but the best movies are always of the everyday stuff. As toddlers, I recorded the songs they wouldn’t stop singing, the daily afternoon dance fests in the family room and the chatter from the high chair.

There are so many moments we caught on tape (yes, tape, the old fashioned way to take family movies) that we had forgotten about. Things we thought we’d never forget like the funny pronunciation of “ball-al-let” and “pregament”, the joke retold a million times and the preferred outfits and pajamas bring back a warm rush of feelings.girl playing with play doh, play doh, toddler with play doh, iphone movie recording, videos on iphone, bow in girls hair,

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