Blog Archives

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.


Six Months - A Love Story |“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.

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!

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.

#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 | 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.

Woo Hoo – Liebster Award!

October 30, 2014

mothers circle liebster, blog awards, liebster award image, what is a liebster awardThank you to Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom for this recognition. I have to admit, I hadn’t heard about the Liebster Award until Deborah nominated me and I am honored to accept.

Deborah and I connected through Top Mommy Blogs and she graciously allowed me to guest post on her blog about 10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism.

I am thrilled to accept this Liebster Award nomination for Mother’s Circle. The spirit of the Liebster is to introduce my readers to other bloggers and in the tag-you’re-it style, I had to answer some fun questions from Deborah, tell 11 things about myself, and choose other bloggers to nominate, and give them my own questions to answer.

So here goes!

11 Things About Me

1. I speak French, I loved it through school and continued in college. When I lived in Bordeaux one summer, I started dreaming in French and forgetting English words when I called home. French opened the door to amazing opportunities for friendship and learning in my life. Click to read about my French Friendships.

2. Since I didn’t want to give up studying French in college, I added it as a third major. I get teased about that every time someone learns I graduated with three majors. Typical over-achiever.

3. Continuing on that theme, my whole life, people have teased me. I learned to laugh at myself young. Still, whenever friends from different parts of my life get together, I end up the butt of the jokes. It’s unifying!

Show the Love for Mother’s Circle

September 5, 2014

show blogger love, Mother's Circle logo, subscribe to Mother's Circle, Leah DeCesare blog, parenting blog, top mommy blog,
Hi, Mother’s Circle Readers, thank you for your loyal readership. I have a few favors to ask of you to show the love. If you would please consider clicking, sharing, following, liking, pinning … I would be so grateful!

The blogging world is busy and populated, and when I began Mother’s Circle, I made the decision to be a content-driven site rather than a giveaway or review space. Those sites are often very heavily trafficked and likes, shares, tweets, follows, pins, and clicks all become ways for readers to enter a contest and better their chances of winning.

For a content-rich site, I’m proud that readers are here who want to read and learn something. I’m happy that those who subscribe and interact do so organically, but today, I’m asking you to show the love.

My goal at Mother’s Circle is to continually provide my readers with practical information that’s well-written, applicable to your life, and hopefully entertaining and enjoyable for you to read. I receive countless requests for reviews and sponsored posts, but I am extremely selective. I write about, or accept guest posts, only for things I believe in and feel you, my readers, will benefit from in some way.

Thank you for your support in helping to give Mother’s Circle a little boost – a shot in the arm as we head into a new season!

Here’s how you can show the love:

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 On Sale This Week

August 18, 2014

Naked Parenting book, Naked Parenting on sale, parenting book promotions, parenting books discounted, parenting books on sale, Have you been meaning to read Naked Parenting but haven’t gotten it yet? Here’s your chance to get it at a discount – Naked Parenting on sale this week only. Click here to get Naked Parenting on sale.

Thank you to my loyal Mother’s Circle readers, I promise to get you some posts that aren’t about Naked Parenting as soon as this week’s promotion is over!

Thanks for your support and for the comments and emails you’ve sent, for the tweets and social media sharing you’ve done – it means so much and I am so grateful!

Please keep sharing your feedback on Naked Parenting – I love hearing from you! Join me this Tuesday for a webinar on Naked Parenting.

Click here to get Naked Parenting on sale.


© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

What is 20 Years?

July 16, 2014

what is 20 years?, 20 year anniversary, platinum anniversary, china for 20th anniversary, symbol for 20th anniversary20 years is our first home with a deep front porch. It’s tearing out ugly mustard-colored carpet to find pristine hardwood floors beneath, it’s stripping wallpaper in dime-sized pieces. It’s sitting on lawn chairs and eating off stacked crates.

20 years is traveling far and wide, young and carefree, climbing historic church towers and hiking stunning canyons. It’s snorkeling, horseback riding, swimming in waterfalls and driving coastlines. It’s Hawaii, France and the Olympics, Prague, Poland and Germany, it’s islands, mountains and oceans.

20 years is the first plus-sign on the stick, the happy tears, the growing belly, the drive home with our new baby girl realizing she was ours to care for and protect and love. Forevermore. And then we were three.

20 years is first cell phones, cool-looking things with an antennae and no such thing as texting. It’s sleepless nights, dribbling giggles, first steps and ABC’s. It’s time with grandparents and families, time with each other. Time together. A family.

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.

Love Thy Body – Agroterra Photography

May 13, 2014

Leah DeCesare, Leah DeCesare RI, Love Thy Body Leah, Agroterra Photography, My talented friend, Lisa Gendron, has launched a project entitled Love Thy Body – Women celebrate themselves in essays and portraits. Lisa invited me to participate and I’m honored to be the first featured in her series.

Click here to read my Love Thy Body essay and to see Lisa’s artistry in photography.

I bared myself in writing and physically for this project. Lisa and I spent a chilly morning together in her studio, chatting while she snapped away, making me feel like a model.

Since the photos accompanying the essay are on the Internet, I was quite selective in what I chose for Lisa to post, but all of the images are something I’ll cherish.

Lisa shared that she treasures an old photo of her own grandmother and told me that it will be so special for my children, and even my grandchildren, to have a beautiful picture of me years from now. I love that thought.

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.

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.

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 –

Music For Newtown Auction Live Today

January 22, 2014

music for newtown logo, music auction, lorde autograph, signed guitars, autographed music memorabilia, sandy hook, green music note, The second Music for Newtown Auction goes live this afternoon, January 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm EST. You can keep bidding on your favorite items through January 29, 2014.

Visit the auction here:

We grew up in Newtown, it’s my hometown and last year’s atrocity moved my sister, Beth Bogdan to start the Music for Newtown organization. Major musicians have donated autographed items, meet and greets and tickets. All of the proceeds will benefit the Resiliency Center of Newtown which offers long-term healing to anyone impacted by the tragic events of December 14, 2012.

Auction items include an autographed guitars from Florida Georgia Line and Anberlin, signed FLAGA Line Guitar, autographed guitar, Music for newtown auction, signed guitar, bidding on music memorabiliaposters from Black Sabbath, Neon Trees, Black Veil Brides and Colbie Caillat. There are also signed photos from Nickelback, Ellie Goulding, The Avett Brothers, and Psy, signed CDs from Bon Jovi, Cassadee Pope, and Ben Howard, and signed vinyl from Jack Johnson. Lorde donated a few items including autographed “Royals” sheet music. Also up for auction are a signed drumhead from The 1975, signed lithograph from AFI, and a signed set list from The Naked and Famous. Austin Mahone and 3 Doors Down have donated tickets and Meet & Greets to upcoming shows.

All proceeds from this auction will benefit The Resiliency Center of Newtown. “The Resiliency Center of Newtown offers long-term healing to those impacted by the tragic events of December 14, 2012 to help these individuals reach their full potential, and is a Program of Tuesday’s Children, a 501c3 non-profit organization or Resiliency Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath autograph, bid on Black Sabbath items, MFN auction, sandy hook,Center of Newtown is a program of Tuesday’s Children.” All services are offered free of charge and confidentially.

Beth Bogdan founded Music For Newtown to unite the music community to provide support to those affected in her hometown of Newtown, CT. The first auction was held in March 2013, three months after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, to raise money for the “Sandy Hook School Support Fund.” Items were donated to the auction by Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Gotye, Elton John, The Eagles, Blink 182 and many more. There were a total of 96 items and during the 3 day auction over $35,000 was raised.

The auction will go live from January 22- 29, 2014 at Royals, signed sheet music, signed Royals music, Lorde autograph, Lorde signature, Royals by Lorde, MFN auction, raising money to help newtown,

Donations are also accepted directly through the site during the auction or by sending Music For Newtown a check made out to “Resiliency Center of Newtown.”

For more information contact Beth Bogdan at:

Services Donated by:
Logo Design: Christopher Kornmann for spit and image
Website Design: Orange Hat Group
Printer: Remsen Graphics


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:
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!


December 3, 2013

#GivingTuesday is all about putting giving first.
When we give with a full heart we can change the world.
How will you participate in #GivingTuesday?

#givingtuesday, charities to give to, best charities, places to give, giving tuesday, what is giving tuesdayWhile avoiding all crazy lines, (we turned right around if there was anything ridiculous), I did my share of weekend gift shopping. My favorite moment was when Ali and I were leaving a store, both of us with bags in our hands. With a big grin, she turned to me and said, “I love this feeling. These are gifts I bought with my own money.” Giving in itself gives the giver a boost of happiness. Of course, that’s not why we give, but it’s a wonderful side effect.

On this #GivingTuesday, here are a few of my favorite organizations:

The Children’s Center for Hope and Wellness

In October, three beautiful girls and a pastor from Uganda moved into our home for a week and into our hearts for a lifetime.

Just like every other host family and all the people who see these kids perform across New England as a part of Destiny Africa Children’s Choir, these kids touch people to their core. Their needs in Uganda are great. While the choir was here touring, back home, a young girl died from a preventable illness. Martine would still be alive today with proper medical care and her story brings a greater urgency to the need to build The Hope Centre.

Destiny Africa, The Children's Centre for Hope and Wellness, KCC, Uganda home for orphans, giving tuesday, medical center in ugandaLast night, I hosted a group of women who are joining together in a huge fundraising effort to build a much needed medical center for the orphans who live at the Kampala Children’s Centre, for the over 300 local children who attend school there and for people in the community at large.

Help us build The Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness and make an incredible impact. They can start building with just $20,000 and for only $70,000, it will be built and functioning – what Destiny Africa, Kampala Children's Center, hosting a family from Ugandawould that take in the U.S.? This project is dear to my heart and we are determined to make this happen!

Please consider giving to save precious lives. The website for the Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness will be up in a week or so, in the meantime, you can contribute by PayPal at the Kampala Children’s Center, mark your donation for the medical center. Every single dollar matters. THANK YOU!

Clean Birth.Org is an organization that speaks to me, both in my work as a doula and birth educator and because of clean birth logo,, cleanbirth kits, birth in laos, my affection for Southeast Asia.

The Grace Box

November 13, 2013

saying grace, teaching kids to pray, faith and family, faith and kids, prayers, dinnertime prayers, ideas for grace, box of prayersThe Grace Box sits on our kitchen table and represents more than the slips of paper it holds. I believe that the key to happiness in life is gratitude and daily grace before meals builds in both being thankful and teaching thankfulness to our kids.

The Grace Box used to be a small envelope that Ali decorated in Sunday school, over the years, we’ve collected short prayers and dinnertime graces and upgraded to a larger container. The prayers came from Sunday school classes, magazine clippings and the weekly prayers our old church in New Jersey used to distribute in the Sunday bulletin. We have a small children’s book of prayers that fits in neatly and an embroidered prayer on the wall that Anna favors reading when we sit at the table that’s closest to the framed words.

Happify Is …

October 22, 2013

Have you heard the buzz around Happify? Have you wondered, What is Happify? Here’s my answer:

Happify Is …

happify, what is happify, happiness is, introducing happify, is happify a gameAs a beta tester – a Happify Pioneer – I shared my experience with Mother’s Circle readers in February in my Introducing Happify post. (Read that post for more details on what Happify is all about!) Since then, Happify has added many new features and today is the official public launch. Now, without needing an invitation, anyone can jump in and start their Happify experience and answer the question “What is Happify?” for themselves.

From their blog: “At Happify, we’re passionate about helping people find happiness, contentment and fulfillment through fun activities, games and exercises based on proven scientific research from the top minds in the country.”

Happify is … Fun

Sign up and try out the games and exercises, the Happify app, and the many new tracks, several created and “hosted” by celebrities or professionals. Within our busy, stressed days, one way people find relaxation is in social media, Happify is an escape from the daily hub-bub with a purpose! It’s a mix of video game, self exploration, Pinterest boards, social interaction (on posts and through threads) and online gratitude journal. It’s fun with a benefit – the activities are all based in the science of happiness (the science of happiness is also explained on the Happify website.)

Happify is … Spending time together

There is a new game called “Uplift” since I last posted in which you spot and click on positive words. Whenever I

[caption id="attachment_3490" align="alignright" width="300"]Happify tracks, Happify activities, what is happify, should I get on happify, how do I get happier Some Happify Tracks[/caption]

get to the games in a track, I save them to do with my kids. They love the search and find scenes that encourage us to slow down and savor the visuals and I love that we slow down and savor the time together.

This summer, I did a track called “Raise Happy and Resilient Teens” and there were activities that Ali and I did together and some that I turned over to her to do on her own (she’s been dying to join Happify.) It was a small thing but it spurred some nice conversations between us.

Mammograms and Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 14, 2013

This post was originally published May 31, 2012, I am reposting it in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Take care of yourself!

mammograms, spot mammograms, breast cancer awareness month stories, my mammogram story, story of mammograms, story of mammogram call backThere was a message left at 1:27 pm yesterday, the day after my mammogram, “Please call us back.” Call them back? What about just waiting for that nice letter that arrives next week to tell me everything is okay?

Hours had passed and kids swarmed the kitchen as I listened to the message. I waited until I dropped them off at afternoon activities, I was alone in the parking lot and I clutched the note paper with the number of the Anne Pappas Center scribbled on it. The woman who answers is so busy she needs to call me back. “Breathe,” I tell myself and I wait. At 4:55 pm, I worried that I hadn’t heard and that they’d close for the night, I couldn’t wonder overnight, so I called back apologizing for my repeat call. She was very sweet, just very busy and promised to call me before she left.

True to her word, she called me reporting that they want to do an ultrasound, we were able to schedule it for the next day, today, two days after my original mammogram.

I have had mammograms for several years now starting with a diagnostic check of a lump in my right breast, everything has been fine with that year after year. I wondered if something had changed. I prayed. I thought of my friends who had fought and are fighting breast cancer at a young age, at my age. I thought about how the kids have giggled at me crying to the Martina McBride song, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.”

I’m not in a high risk category; I have no family history, I had my first full term pregnancy and birth before age pink ribbon tree, pink ribbons, breast cancer awareness ribbons, tree of pink ribbons, 30, I breastfed three kids. Breastfeeding has a cumulative protective factor and I’d nursed two babies for over a year each and my third for two years (a long time from our culture’s viewpoint, but in my doula-ing-breastfeeding-birthie world, not long enough. I digress). I’m not high risk, but, really, I know that doesn’t mean I’m not AT risk as a woman with boobs.

Nervous all morning, I distracted myself by watering my vegetable garden, vacuuming, organizing my desk and making hard boiled eggs. My calendar alert nudged me to my car, I was suddenly very jittery and the drive to Providence seemed longer than normal.

In the waiting room, I overheard a very young woman checking in and she mentioned that last year she had to come back in for an ultrasound, when her body moved slightly toward me, I croaked out, “That’s why I’m here.” I don’t know why I told her or what made be blurt it out to a stranger.

Trading in the Mini-Van

October 9, 2013

trading in the mini van, not wanting mini van, why get a mini van, upgrading from mini van, good bye to mini van, gold mini van, tire treads, I swore I’d never drive a mini-van.

Then, almost thirteen years ago, with a growing family, we shopped around and, without wanting to, I loved the Honda Odyssey. It was the first mini-van to have the third seat that folded INTO the car so it laid flat. We’ve used that feature for furniture, bulky shrubs and lugging stuff from Home Depot more times that we can count. The entire contents of my trunk have spewed all over a parking lot on numerous occasions as I reconfigured the car to fit a new patio set or the tag sale treasure I couldn’t pass by!

But now it is time and I’m trading in the mini-van.

Our gold Odyssey has driven us the equivalent of around the world – FOUR TIMES! Yup, 204,089 miles to visit grandparents, take vacations and camping trips, attend far away weddings and to make 1,492,648,112,951 trips to the grocery store. She’s welcomed two babies, endured coffee spills, melted crayons, throw up and seasons upon seasons of winter salts and summer sands. Her cup holders and Michael’s “secret compartment” have collected countless treasures like acorns, seashells, rocks, candy wrappers, food bits, and handfuls of the green Stop & Shop twistie ties.

It’s hard not to feel a little nostalgic as we part ways. I’ve never been much of a car person, sure I like a nice car, but mostly I care if it’s functional and safe and doesn’t cause me problems. But it’s time to let this golden capsule go. She’s car mileage, over 200000 miles on car, odometer reading over 200000, high odometer reading, gold honda odysseyserved us well.

We’ve long ago lost the knob cover for the bass on the radio, I have to fiddle with the temperature knob in just the right way to make the kids get heat or AC in the back, and the thingy on my seat belt that holds up the metal latch is gone. You have no idea how important that silly nodule is until you have to dig between the seat and the door to find the buckle 32 times a day! Yup – I’m trading in the mini-van.

Memories match the marks. There’s the white smudge on the ceiling from the sheet rock when we redid our basement playroom, there’s the stain from my Dad’s spilled coffee mug when we were house hunting in Rhode Island, and there are still a few pine needles from the year we stuck the tree in the car instead of on the roof. There’s the small scratch from Michael’s scooter riding a little too close to the driver’s door, and there’s the gash on the back bumper from that snow-covered, too-low-to-see-in-the-dark rock – oops!

We have a “system” we are used to in this family car. We have the hand sanitizer in a specific pocket that we all can reach, there are hair brushes and pencils, workbooks and song lyric books, How to Learn French read-alongs and enough Lego’s hidden all over to build another car. We know who sits where, even when we fit grandmas and grandpas in with us. Without looking I can reach a napkin, a CD, or toss a kid a snack.

This car has listened to singing, lot’s of singing. From lovely notes and off key sounds, to shout-it-out singing, rock-and-roll singing and singing you may not call singing. (I think we may have the very last car running that still has a cassette player. How will I play those mixed tapes from high schgold honda odyssey, old odyssey, trading in odyssey, good bye to old car, kids saying good bye to car, missing old car, ool now?) This car has heard peals of laughter, endless joking and moments of screaming and ranting. She’s heard soft spoken adult talks, heart-to-heart teen talks, unguarded secrets spilling and endless toddler tales.

Blessingways for Moms-to-Be

June 27, 2013

flower wreath, flowers in hair, flower wreath for hair, white flower wreath, agroterra photography, lisa gendron photos, celebrating motherhood, ways to do a blessingwayA Blessingway is a special ritual which honors a woman during a time of transition or celebrates her in a new life journey. Blessingways for Moms-to-be create a beautiful circle of support and love around the expectant mama. Just as elephant mothers surround and protect another birthing elephant, so too, we encircle and offer support to a sister, friend, cousin who is becoming a mother for the first or fifth time.

A blessingway differs from a baby shower in that it focuses on the woman and her transformation into mother in a deeper way than at a party with a showering of gifts. Gifts may be included, but instead of practical items or pretty clothing, gifts are symbolic or carry special meaning, such as an heirloom being passed down, or the gift of a poem being read. A woman may have a traditional baby shower and also savor the ritual of a blessingway. These ceremonies welcome and honor a woman as she enters into the Mother’s Circle.

Blessingways for Moms-to-be celebrate women as they enter the sacred circle of motherhood. They should be planned and created with love in the details and should reflect a mother’s personal beliefs and values. Whether a mother is spiritual or not, a ceremony may be designed specifically to have deep meaning and importance to her by incorporating her individual practices and thread ceremony, red thread, matriarchal lineage, henna on belly, pregnant henna art, belly art, pregnancy belly art, blessingways for moms,

Some elements of blessingsways for moms-to-be could include a salt bowl in which each guest adds something to the Epsom salts, such as fragrant oils or dried flowers, and mixes it while saying a prayer or giving a special message to the mother. Another idea is to have a laying-on-of hands ritual in which trusted women gently hold their hands all at once on the mother, upon her head, shoulders, back or belly according to her comfort. Everyone sends thoughts and messages of love and peace to her as they quietly rest their outstretched palms and fingers.

Summer Solstice Activities

June 21, 2013

summer solstice activities, strawberry, strawberry picking, strawberry in hand, when to strawberry pick, strawberry lemonade recipe, homemade strawberry lemonadeHow will you spend the longest day of the year? Here are some summer solstice activities to do for yourself or with your kids.

In astronomical terms, the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere marks the start of summer and the time that the sun is at it’s northernmost point in the sky. But the day is also full of spiritual meanings, symbolic meanings, and personal meanings.

The day marks a sort of tipping point in the year when we reach the longest day and shortest night and it marks a reversal as days shorten following the solstice. There are myriad ways to acknowledge this celebrated day. Add your own ideas to this list in the comments.

Do you have any family rituals or traditions around the summer solstice? Take a moment to enjoy some summer solstice activities alone or with your family.

A Special Thank You to My Dad

June 15, 2013

My Dad is a loyal Mother’s Circle reader, another example of how he supports me.
So I’m delivering a special thank you to my dad for Father’s Day right here.

special thank you for my dad, personal note to dad, thanking fathers, letter from adult daughter to father, thank you note to fathers, acknowledging dads, adult daughter's letter to father,Dear Dad,

I’ve always told you that I love you and I still shower you generously with “I love yous.” I hope you really know what is behind those words and how very much I love you.

Growing up, you could always make me feel special. You would ask me to go for a ride and we’d talk in the car, you’d take me out to breakfasts where you’d check in on my life and I still cherish the memory of those times alone together, just the two of us. I even recall with a smile the breakfast on that family vacation after the night I got in big trouble; I was worried when we sat down, but left knowing I was loved despite questionable judgement.

[caption id="attachment_2816" align="alignright" width="245"]me and my dad, 1989, 1980s haircut, growing up with dad, letter to dad from adult daughter, Me and my Dad in 1989 – my haircut shows it.
We’re outside of Newtown High School.[/caption]

As a teenager, when I was still creating my self image and figuring out boys and emotions, I felt happy when you’d pay me a compliment. You did it sparingly so I knew it was always genuine. All dressed up to go out with friends, you’d say, “Hey, you look cute!” and I would leave the house feeling confident because of those words, because my Dad noticed me and was proud of me.

Even today, I glow inside when you tell me you’re proud of me. It still means everything to have your approval and I glow in your praise. It matters to me that you see me as a good mom and wife, it matters to me that you care about and take an interest in the things I do and the work I pursue.

A Thank You Note to Dads

June 14, 2013

thank you note to dads, note to fathers, fathers day notes, fathers day thank you, thank you letter to dads, letter to father, hand written notes, importance of hand written letters, handwriting,One of my more popular posts is A Thank You Notes to Moms. So for Father’s Day, here is A Thank You Note to Dads, but this thank you note has a twist, it’s not from the kiddos, it’s from Mom.

Dads, one day years from now, perhaps you can imagine your children being grateful, sincerely grateful, for all you do for them. One day they may write their own thank you note to you, but this is a thank you note to dads from us, your loving wives and partners in parenting. A note you can appreciate now before you take a nap, go golfing or crack open a beer for Father’s Day. Yeah, go ahead, you deserve it!

We Moms admit, that far too often we take you for granted; we’re too quick to huff or point out something you haven’t done or something you’ve done “wrong.”

In the hectic pace of the days, the blur of weeks and the racing into months, we forget to slow down and recognize all the things you have done. We can forget to acknowledge all the many things you do right and well. So here is a big thank you for all you do for us and our families.

My Story of Lyme Disease

May 22, 2013

my story of lyme disease, deer tick, image of deer tick, tick on leaf, headaches and lyme disease, acupuncture for lyme disease, acupuncture, symptoms of lyme diseaseThis is my story of Lyme Disease. It was June 2007, I was on my way to New York City for a doula training. Arrangements and “spreadsheets” for the kids’ schedules were taken care of and I had three days to immerse myself in something I love. I had dinner plans to visit friends in NYC and was happy to be staying with my brother and sister-in-law.

The first morning I woke up stiff and creaky and moved myself through some yoga poses and stretches to relieve the pulling. I just felt “off” and tight with underlying soreness through the day, as if I may have been about to get sick.

The second night, I woke up in the middle of the with painful aching all over. What I’d put off as stiffness from an unfamiliar bed didn’t fit with this growing pain. Yet, I stretched in the predawn hours and again after halting dozes. I got through another day, still enjoying the training but increasingly distracted from my achiness. I met a friend for dinner, excited to see her I didn’t want to cancel, but I was struggling.

By the third night, barely sleeping, tossing in pain and sweat and chills, I really knew something was wrong. That day a woman in the training did reiki on me, another massaged my back, the trainer (my dear friend Debra Pascali Bonaro) suggested I lay down on the bed in the room adjacent to the training where I could listen from a horizontal position.

I vividly remember the emotions I had sitting in Penn Station alone, waiting for my train. I felt grateful that at the last minute, I’d decided to take the train instead of driving. I couldn’t believe how dramatically different I felt with each passing day. I hunched on a bench rocking myself and trying anything to distract myself from the pain. The train ride to New London where my Dad met me was excruciating; I curled up and tried to be still, tried to rest. I don’t know how I drove the last leg of the trip to get myself home.

Happy Mother’s Day

May 9, 2013

Happy Mother's Day, daffodils on red ground, flowers for mother's day, mothers day flowers, daffodils for moms, cream daffodils, spring flowers in vase, Happy Mother’s Day! I love the idea of slowing down to think about motherhood in both directions: about my own Mom and about what it means to have my children in my life.

Since I’ve become a Mom, I’ve thanked my mother for all the unseen sacrifices and her unending love, support, guidance and cheer leading throughout my life. I’ve apologized to my Mom for my fresh back talk, for saying hurtful things in angry bouts and for taking her for granted.

My Mom was and is always there for me. When I got home from school after holding in tears all day, when I had a teen drama at the dance and couldn’t wait to be home, when my babies were born and I needed mothering, when I need advice on how to manage these slippery night sweats that have crept into my life.

My Mom was a good Mom and raised me with loving discipline; I always knew I was loved. As an adult, she is my friend, and I’m so deeply grateful for that.

With my kiddos, I’m still in the active parenting stage and not yet at the best friend phase. Though, I recently realized with shock that we are on “the flip side.” We have fewer years left with kids in our house (only nine short years) than years we’ve had kids in our house (over fourteen years). Our children are part of us, entrusted to us to love, nurture, teach and cherish and it feels like not enough time left with them in our home. (Okay, yes, I know they often come back, but we’re brainwashing them with the expectation of getting a job and their own apartment after college, I’ll let you know how that goes.)

Spending Mother’s Day in the ER

May 7, 2013

mother's day in the ER, emergency room on mothers day, spending mothers day in hospital, hospital for mothers day, broken toe, er for broken toe

This was originally posted in May 2012 when we spent Mother’s Day in the ER and found some unexpected joy. Nick promises this year we’ll have a little more traditional Mother’s Day!

It certainly wasn’t how we’d planned to spend a preciously sunny Mother’s Day, but it was a day that tested me to live what I believe, a day that reminded me that I already know the value of gratitude.

I was reading a book in the hammock, feeling the warmth on my skin, listening to the kids take their first splashes in the pool (we finally figured out that opening it early makes a difference to a short Rhode Island pool season). My husband was tinkering around as he kept an eye on the kids; to give them access to the towel hooks, he moved the grill three inches to the left.Mothers day in the ER, gratitude on Mother's Day, mother's day lessons, being together on mothers day

Those three inches cost us eight hours in the emergency room. A heavy, cast iron grilling pan slipped off the side shelf and landed squarely on my husband’s right big toe.

Though he hopped around swearing beneath his breath and blood dripped, dotting everywhere he hopped, we didn’t think it would be so dramatic. At the advice of our nurse and doctor neighbors, we went to the hospital for a look and a tetanus shot.

The kids rallied, threw on cover ups, grabbed iPods (thank goodness) and off we headed, with Nick’s toe still bleeding all over.

Stuck in Columbus with my New-Old Friend

April 25, 2013

New friends, new-old friend, fast friends, friends at first sight, smiling sisters, kappa sisters, KKG sisters, leadership academy Being stuck in Columbus, Ohio wasn’t my plan. When my kiddos were younger, a little time alone in a hotel would sound dreamy, but I wanted to go home to my kids who would be in school all day after I returned. While I’m disappointed and missing my family after three days away, I’m making the best of it and I am thankful for my “new-old friend.”

I came to Columbus for an inspiring leadership workshop. It was a refreshing weekend that afforded me the time to reflect, plan, and define my visions and goals for not only myself and my life but also for the organizations of which I am a part. (Stay tuned this week for leadership skills for Moms.)

I feel invigorated and centered. I’ve filled myself up and I am energized to go home and shine in my roles as a Mom, wife, friend, writer, business owner, volunteer, educator, doula…. I couldn’t wait to get home and hug the kids and Nick who would be waiting for me at the airport! My head and heart were happy to be going home – but they’d have to wait.

The Meaning of Valentines

February 14, 2013

stack of hearts, paper hearts, homemade valentines, valentine hearts, craft hearts, make your own valentines, colorful hearts“What was Valentine’s Day originally for? For sharing love?”

That’s what our third-grader asked as she glued hearts onto her shoebox Valentine mailbox for school. She had just finished gleefully and proudly writing out Valentines for her classmates. She’s the third child so she gets store-bought Valentines now. I found cute ones that she loves, but I laugh and shrug at one more thing that I’ve let go of as the years pass: Homemade Valentines.

When the kids were younger, they created exuberantly, sitting among construction paper hearts, white lacy doilies (with all the little teeny flakes that fall out as you pull them apart) and scraps of pink, red and white. They rubber stamped cupids and hearts and Valentine’s Day wishes, they decorated rectangles into book marks and glued and glued and glued.

I drew the line at glitter. Have you ever tried to clean up a glitter spill? It will never ever actually completely go away, you will still see glitter at Christmas and in time for the next Valentine’s Day.

As my Mom did growing up, each Valentine’s Day, our tradition is to have a special family dinner. I’ll set the table homemade valentines, making valentines, what do valentines mean?, why do we send valentines?, valentine mailbox, doilies, valentine doilies, in the dining room with linen napkins, candles, Valentines and a small package at each place, a new book for each kid. I don’t make my own cards either, I buy my Valentine’s, too. (I’m a Hallmark girl – I love buying and sending cards!)

I savor selecting the perfect cards. For Nick, I often choose several. This year, I mailed a funny one to his office and he’ll have another waiting at dinner. I’ll find Valentines at my seat, too. Those poems and pictures lovingly made at school that warm my heart and the one that makes my heart flutter as I catch my husband’s eye across the table.

Our Valentine’s Day is about all of my sweethearts: the man I married and the three I birthed. We don’t need February 14th to ourselves, other evenings, Nick and I will have our date nights. But tonight, we’ll reminisce about our first Valentine’s Day together 20 years ago and we’ll enjoy our kiddos and family time.

valentine love letter, love letters, sealed with love, wax seal on letter, hand written letters, red wax seal, sealed envelope, romantic letter, While the old-fashioned, nostalgic fun of making your own Valentines has perhaps seen it’s day in our house, in the end, it really doesn’t matter. Valentine’s Day is about the intention and the thought. It’s about acknowledging and appreciating our friendships and relationships.

At eight, Anna said it perfectly: Valentine’s Day is all about sharing love, however you do that.




Introducing Happify :-)

February 6, 2013

happify trademark, happify logo, what is happify?, so do I get happy?, happiness projectIt’s finally time to introduce you to Happify! Two months ago, I was invited to try out Happify and provide honest feedback as I used the site and now Happify is open for new users! Check it out here.

Happify is a cross between a new social media, an interactive game and a shared (or private) gratitude journal. The site is based on scientific studies of happiness that show that what we DO makes a difference in how happy we are in life. Through quizzes, games, prompts and activities, participants on Happify learn ways, and take actions, to be happier and to better appreciate things in their lives.

There is an initial assessment of how happy you already are. I’m pretty happy by nature, so I wasn’t out looking to get happier, but it’s also important to actively do things to nurture my own happiness. I have really enjoyed doing these small activities as a reminder to slow down and appreciate just how much I have in my life.unlock your happiness, happiness skills, happiness test, studies on happiness, how to be happier, blue brain, join happify,

Starting out, users select a track to follow. You can choose from things like: Enjoy Parenting More, The Art in Happiness, Talkers and Listeners and Nurture my Body and Soul. You’ll then have different activities opened to you each day. If you’re gung-ho and ready to do more, there is also a skills section where you can do more activities. I completely cracked up one day when I just kept doing more and more activities and a message came up that congratulated me and addressed me as “You’re an over-achiever!” Hilariously on target!

There are five main skills and all the activities fall under one of these: Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give and Empathize. As you work through different tracks (here’s the video game-like part) you earn gold or silver for completing tracks within certain time frames, and you move up different skill levels as you finish and “Happify” activities.

You’ll do guided activities with prompts like, “Take a walk with a camera,” “Mix things up,” “Give a small gift,” and suggestions for doing and reflecting on what you did. Some things are silly like trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand to try to shake things up in your normal routine, while other things might be more sentimental, pensive, or celebratory of you or someone else. Some activities are quick, some you make a plan and pledge to do it then report back after you’ve done it. At any point, you can click and read the science behind the activity, the “Why it Works.”Happify, the science of happiness, studies on happiness, brain with gears, colorful gears, what is happify?, happiness assessment,

You can post pictures with certain activities either from your Facebook photos, Happify stock images or by uploading something from your computer, here the posts look a little like Pinterest with social interaction features for liking and commenting.

I’ve been enjoying my time on Happify. It’s nudged me to really mull things over, to cherish the everyday ho-hum stuff and to share my happiness in different ways. It’s challenged me to recognize and acknowledge my positive impact on others and to consciously live according to my values. Give it a try!


** The opinions stated here are my own and I was not required or asked to write a review, only to use the site. As a pioneer tester of Happify, I received a t-shirt and a copy of the DVD “Happy.” **



Thankful Thursday

January 24, 2013

Fellow Rhody Blogger, Joanna at Baby Gator’s Den, began a Thankful Thursday post series. This week, I’m jumping on board. I believe that gratitude is the key to happiness and while it’s an active, conscious process, I work hard to count my blessings all day long, every day.

family, thankful for family, smiling family, happy family, thankful thursday, secret to happiness, THANKFUL

T – I am thankful for time. Today I had time to have breakfast with friends and read for my book club tonight. Time to myself, time with my kids, time with my friends. Treasured time.

H – I am thankful for heat. The warmth in my home, in the hot shower, in my car, the scarf around my neck.

A – I am thankful for aspirations, for goals and dreams and things to look forward to.

N – I am thankful for Nick. Nick, my dear, sweet, catch of a husband. My true companion, my knight in shining armor (still not even tarnished after almost 19 years of marriage!), my very best friend.

K – I am thankful for my kitchen and kisses. As in most homes, our kitchen is our center. Family dinners, mobs of friends, spilled drinks, dishes of food, laughter overflowing, scribbled homework, and free-flowing kisses. Romantic kisses and kid kisses. Good bye kisses, welcome home kisses. Smooshy kisses and quickie kisses. Kisses on the head, kisses on the cheeks, kisses square on the lips. I’m thankful for our kitchen and kisses.ukulele, green paisley uke, bohemian rhapsody on ukulele, musical giftedness, thankful thursday, green paisleys,

F – I am thankful for family. The top of my gratitude list each and every day, each and every moment. My greatest joy, my deepest love.

U – I am thankful for ukuleles. My daughter picked up a ukulele in the music store and instantly plucked out songs. That year, Santa brought her a cute uke covered with green paisleys. She has an impressive musical gift and listening to her compose, sing and create music with her friends and father makes me smile and brings me joy.

L – I am thankful for life. Thankful for another day. THIS day. I embrace it, welcome it and cherish it.

Today, I am Thankful.


Pause. Smile. Breathe.

December 20, 2012

woman in red, smiling wrapping gifts, how to wrap a gift, importance of smiles, breathing to relax, Christmas gifts by the fire, gold and red gift, enjoying Christmas, carpe diem ChristmasPause. Smile. Breathe.

Take a moment to pause, breathe, savor the now. This very minute, this exact place and time. Are you rushing around? Is your list a scribbled mess that keeps growing as Christmas nears?

Take this moment to pause, smile, slow your breathing and think of one thing that makes you feel grateful. Hold on to that.

It’s such a busy time of year, busier than our normal hurriedness. We have excited children, family visiting, traveling to do, cooking, baking, entertaining, wrapping, shopping, more wrapping, finishing off the cards and and and …

It’s all too fast, too busy, it takes effort to slow down and to soak in the joy of Christmas.

I’m trying to make that effort. I love this time of year, I love the music, finding the perfect gift, I enjoy wrapping packages up pretty and having candles in all the windows. I love my friend’s annual cookie swap, the Christmas Pageant at church, the festive celebrations, baking with the kids and especially spending time with family and friends. It does get busy but I choose to savor the preparations and anticipation of the Advent season. smiling woman in glasses, smile to relax, benefits of smiling, the key to happiness, gratitude at Christmas, how to be grateful, how to host a cookie swap, baking with kids

Hold onto that which makes you thankful. Amidst life’s pains and tragedies, finding something to cherish, finding gratitude, really living in the here and now, that is the key to happiness.

Merry Christmas and Happy Getting Ready!

Thank You Note to Moms

December 14, 2012

A Thank You Note to Moms

I was sitting and imagining what it would be like to receive a thank you from my kids.

We don’t become Moms for recognition or acknowledgement, we do it for the relationships we build with our children. We do it from a place of selfless, boundless love.

But we deserve to be thanked for our tireless, passionate, endless work as Moms. We don’t get sick days, personal days and we really don’t even get Mother’s Day off, do we?

So here is the thank you note every Mom should get. This is for you!

Never say you’re “just a mom” and know that your work is the most important there is!

mom and daughters, two girls, sisters, thanks Mom, appreciating Moms, Mother's Day, ideas for thanking Moms, raising children, disciplining kids, Dear Mom –

Thank you for all you do for me and our family.

Thank you for picking up my socks, my Legos, my bouncy balls, my crayons, shoes, towels and cars, my books, my crafts, my underwear, my DS games, teddy bears, magic markers, my pajamas, more Legos, my Play Doh, my Squinkies, my hair clips, my slippers and all the things we leave in a path behind us everywhere around the house.

I know you spend a lot of your day just picking up the things we left around between coming home from school and going to bed. I just wanted you to know I appreciate it!

Thanks for cooking for us, it must really take a lot of work to plan meals, to go to the grocery store, to read labels and pick the best foods to keep our bodies healthy. It must take a lot of time and energy to put the food into the cart, out of the cart to pay, into the cart, out of the cart to the car, out of the car, into the house, out of the bags and then into the pantry; all before you cook us dinner. Great job! (I’ll try not to say, “Eww” or “Yuck” anymore.)

Traditions of Gratitude

November 15, 2012

I try to live gratefully every day. It’s an active process, one that takes regular reminding and effort, but it’s gratitude, I believe, that is the key to happiness. My whole life, my grandmother’s mantra was, “Count your blessings,” she embodied this philosophy and truly lived with gratitude. As Thanksgiving approaches, (can you even believe […]

The Importance of Grandparents

September 14, 2012

My Grandmother would’ve been 100 today. We had a special connection, my grandma and me, a deep and spiritual bond, a unity of our hearts. My Gramps, too, was a main character in the scenes of my story. My life, and the lives of my sister and brother, were immeasurably impacted by our relationship with […]

Big Sister, Little Sister

August 20, 2012
[caption id="attachment_521" align="alignleft" width="250"]sisters Our first meeting[/caption]


I met my Little Sister when she was seven. We sat in a booth and started to get to know one another over chicken with broccoli. I remember she politely made sure to empty her mouth before speaking or answering any questions. We were both hoping to make a good first impression, and even more, a lasting connection.

When I toasted, “Here’s to new friends!” this sweet second-grader looked up at me and corrected, “Here’s to sisters!” She has been a part of our family ever since.

I Live You

July 16, 2012
[caption id="attachment_340" align="alignleft" width="250"]Family love I Live You![/caption]

We’re a family who uses the words, “I love you” very generously. We’re affectionate, we kiss, we hug, we snuggle and we say, write, text, email “I love you” all the time. For the last few months, either from my fingers or my autocorrect, whenever I try to type “I love you” somehow, it’s coming out “I live you.” I thought about that, and actually, that’s true, too!

At first it was a joke, my daughter and husband would text me back, “I live you, too,” but now they know that “I love you and I live you!” I realized that there are so many ways we live the ones we love.

We live them in their daily habits, in their nuances of behavior, the way they tilt their head, puzzle their eyebrows or jiggle in laughter. We know our loved ones intimately and we barely recognize how much we know their familiar responses, their subtle mannerisms, and how we feel their presence, or absence, in a space.

Vietnam is More Than a War

May 29, 2012

When you hear Vietnam, do you immediately think “war”? It was the first word association I had when I heard my parents were planning to visit Vietnam for a vacation. Months later, through a series of lucky events, I ended up going in place of my Dad.

War has, indeed, been a repeating theme in Vietnamese history and without a doubt, the Vietnam War is more present and visible there than in the US, but traveling there, we also got a glimpse into the complexities and treasures of a culture and a people that run deeper than what they call the American War.

We landed in Hanoi at 10:00 pm on February 1, 2012, haggard and fatigued after the long flights, we met up with our tour group and guide, Quang, a 47 year old for whom, by the end of our time together, we would feel a special affection.viet name, vietnamese hats, conical hats, women in vietnam

Since this was a tour group and planned for people more my parents age, it turned out that Quang and I were closer in age than the others. As he shared his life stories, I found myself continually figuring out what I was doing while he was swimming in flooded bomb craters during the rainy season or what it would feel like to have my brother leave home for another country, facing pirates and dangers, never to see him again.

What kind of parallel did his life have to mine growing up only 5 years apart? The comparisons were dramatic, I was safe, doing homework, school activities and swimming at beaches, my family was together, and in the post-war years, I happily studied at college and lived a carefree, peaceful, and fun-filled life. Quang grew up with the war.