Blog Archives

Invitation to Book Clubs

June 15, 2015

An Invitation to Book Clubs | MothersCircle.netAs I work on the second in the Naked Parenting series, I have an invitation to book clubs out there!

If your book club chooses to read Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence, I would love to join you for your discussion either in person locally or via a Skype call.

So if you’re interested, share this invitation to book clubs with your group and let me know. I love to talk with moms, parents, and families about parenting issues, you can even weigh in on what topics you’d like me to cover in upcoming Naked Parenting books.

Discussing things we face in this amazing and challenging job as parents can be encouraging, helpful, and can offer new ideas and tools to try in our own homes.

I hope you’ll consider my invitation and get in touch with me, either in the comments below or contact me here.

50 Things No One Ever Told You About Babies

February 17, 2015

50 Things No One Ever Told You About Babies | MothersCircle.netWhen you’re a new parent, there are plenty of things you can’t prepare for and may not expect. You’ll hear stories from friends, parents, in-laws, it’s hard to sort out what you should believe, what advice you should follow and even with all of those tales and tips, there will still be things no one ever told you about babies.

I’ve surveyed past doula clients and other new moms and tapped into my experience with families adding a new baby to the family to bring you this list of 50 things no one ever told you about babies in five areas of postpartum adjustment.

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

44 and Pregnant?

September 19, 2014

44 and pregnantI had fun writing this piece, 44 and Pregnant?, my first for the Huffington Post. It’s already caused a flurry of questions and comments on my personal Facebook page.

Tell me what you think by commenting directly on the Huffington Post, on the Mother’s Circle Facebook page, or here.

Here’s an excerpt:

I’m late. Not just a little late, but over two weeks late, pushing three. For someone who has always been clockwork regular, I’m really late. I feel a little like I’m in that waiting zone between buying a lottery ticket and the drawing date. You know you’re going to lose, but you spend three days dreaming and planning. With my husband having had a vasectomy six years ago, I know I can’t be pregnant. I can’t, right? Right? But I find myself talking about it, imagining, and thinking, “What if?”

What if I am? My first feelings are filled with the nostalgia of being pregnant and a new mom. I think of the family videos that we love to watch with our two teenagers and our 10-year-old. I long for those pudgy cheeks to kiss, for those adorable little voices learning new words, for those cuddly small bodies. I loved my pregnancies. As a doula, I have a trust and passion for birth, and I savored my nursing days snuggled in with a baby. When I think I might be 44 and pregnant, my immediate gut reaction is happy and gleeful, excited for a possible accident.

Then reality starts to ease into my memories.

Click here to continue reading.

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

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

The Day of Big Parenting Talks

July 23, 2014

talking to teens, talking to kids, big parenting talks, parenting triumphs, tough parenting days, Naked ParentingWhew – I’m exhausted.

Today was a day of big parenting talks, ever have those days? The kind where topics arise that spur in-depth discussions, or behaviors warrant longer sit-downs. Today, I had both types of big parenting talks, and I had them with all three kids at different times throughout the day. It felt like tag from one kid’s situation to another one’s – topped off with a teary moment at bedtime that needed an energetic mommy-pick-me-up.

There were moments of utter frustration and feeling like I wasn’t being heard or getting through, followed by instances of triumph where I felt like I said or did the exact right thing. I’ve joked that we have our “Oprah Days” and our “Dr. Phil Days,” the picture-perfect and the ugly, and the everything in between. Today had it all!

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

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,

Michael’s Birth Story

January 31, 2014

michael's birth story, cesarean birth story, having a c section, c section birth story, birth stories, baby michael, pregnant belly, breech babyA birth story makes a mother. Or grows a mother along her motherhood journey. In honor of Michael’s birthday, here is his birth story.

Three days after my due date (aka “guess date”), I went in for an ultrasound. Nick and I told the technician, “We still don’t want to know the sex of the baby.” To which she replied, “The butt is down.”

My first thought was she was telling us that she couldn’t see the sex of the baby until it dawned on me what she was really saying: the baby was breech. She verified my realization saying, “You need a C-section.”

Somehow I’d had an inner wisdom that never reached my consciousness, because in hindsight, I realized that I had asked each doctor I saw for weeks, “Is the baby’s head down?” and I was reassured over and over that, yes, vertex baby. Poor kiddo, we kept rubbing his head, perching Ali or a bowl of ice cream there, and thinking it was his butt!

I tried not to cry, but the tears poured out. Right there, in the ultrasound room. Then we sat in my doctor’s office for a talk, he said because I was past my due date, because the placenta was anterior, baby smiling, crooked baby smile, baby boy, 3 month old boy, lamaze toybecause my fluid could be lower, they wouldn’t try to flip the baby with external version. I would’ve asked better questions if I knew what I know now, but I did ask about other options to turn him. None.

In those pre-internet-accessible days that are nearly impossible to imagine now, Nick and I went to the library and hunted for ways to turn a breech baby, searched for anything we could learn about breech babies at all. Besides one paragraph in the back on one book: Nothing. Crazy since now I have a list of things to give a mom to try to turn her baby, and Google turns up 69,900 results in .31 seconds.

So we waited out the weekend, my parents came down to be with us and to take care of Ali. We watched the Super Bowl together and when we headed to bed, I cried kissing my sleeping daughter, her last night as an only child. Those emotions of adding another child, of displacing the first while knowing you’re giving her the greatest gift of a sibling, overcame me. It was an odd sensation knowing the exact day, and even about what time, I would have my next baby.

5 Ways to Enjoy Parenting More

October 25, 2013

Are you enjoying parenting? Or are you just plodding through the days, bogged down in the tedium of caring for and redirecting little ones (or bigger ones) day in and day out?

5 Ways to Enjoy Parenting More

enjoy parenting more, are you enjoying parenting, sunflower parenting, how to be a better parent, love parenting, how to enjoy being a mom, 1. Slow Down

Yeah, I know, SO much easier said than done! I too often feel like we’re always in a hurry, rushing to pick one kid up only to race to the other side of town to get another kid to a doctor or activity. With three kids all wanting to participate in sports, music, robotics and other enrichment activities, even the best laid schedules end up with some overlap. As parents, we want to provide these opportunities to our kids and allow them to explore something they’re interested in, but it’s worthwhile to strive for balance.

On the days that we have less going on, or a rainy day that cancels a sports practice (thankfully!), I savor the calm pace, the chance to leisurely cut vegetables for dinner, to chat with a child over a cup of afternoon tea. I build in at least one week day in which we have no after school activities and no set place to be. The kids can run around and play with the neighbors after their homework is done and can take a long, prune-making bath instead of a speedy shower.

I find I enjoy parenting more when we slow down. Our weekends, since no one plays soccer, are usually an oasis of slow motion, extended time in PJs, big breakfasts together and working together in the yard. We value the time to play a family game, watch a family movie or do a project together.

2. Focused Time

Every day, I check in, touch base and give focused attention to each child. Even taking a 15 minute chunk to hear about their day, to ask about friends, to ask their opinion on something, makes a big difference in connecting to your child. Connecting, in turn, helps us to enjoy parenting more. Isn’t that the whole reason we had kids in the first place – for the prospect of a special relationship.

Confident Parenting

September 16, 2013

confident parenting, 4 seasons, discipline techniques for kids, reward systems for kids, learning to parent, how to parent, parenting tips, help for parents, learning to parentThere are times we parents find ourselves rattled, off our game or plain old stumped, but it’s at those times, we need to seek resources and find our mojo to return to confident parenting. Parenthood begins in pregnancy and evolves as our kids grow.

The main goal in parenting boils down to raising future adults with solid character (however each family defines that). We are raising children with the hope of them becoming happy, resilient, confident, healthy grown-ups ready to face the world.

We find our parenting style in many ways, through trial and error, doing and learning, reading books, websites, blogs, expert opinions, observing other parents, reflecting on how our parents did the job. In the end, even with support of family, friends, teachers and community members, the job is ours and we need to trust ourselves. Trust that we know our children best, trust our ability and trust ourselves to seek out help when we need it.

Parenting is a learned behavior – you can improve, you can develop skills and you can grow and change.

Confident parenting encourages us to both examine ourselves and our habits, and to reject advise we don’t agree with, even if it’s from an “expert” or printed in a book. It’s okay to get comfortable trying stuff out, I loveblowing bubbles, child blowing bubbles, games to play with toddlers, crafts for toddlers, pudgy toddler hand, the idea of building up a parenting “tool bag” with tools gleaned from different sources. Tools can be stories to illustrate an idea, motivational tools, demonstration of a skill, reward charts, discipline techniques, family rituals, morning or bedtime systems, distraction tricks, setting clear limits … anything we use in teaching and guiding our children.

How to Choose a Baby Carrier

September 4, 2013

how to choose a baby carrier, how to choose a baby carrier or wrap, babywearing tips, babywearing safetyA big thank you to my friend Angie Howard McParland for this information-packed post on babywearing and how to choose a baby carrier that is right for your family. She shares pros and cons on 5 different types of baby carriers and important tips to safely practice babywearing. Click here for 5 Reasons to Use Babywearing.

I remember when I first learned about babywearing before my son was born just over two years ago. I heard that the Moby wrap and Ergo carriers were good things to put on a registry as they could allow me to simultaneously snuggle with my new baby and do things around the house or avoid lugging a stroller. I started out with a Moby wrap and quickly dove headfirst into the world of babywearing, and figuring out how to choose a baby carrier that was best for us.

I tried out all sorts of new carriers and as my baby grew and I gained confidence and education about the vast array of babywearing options, I found that different carriers suited us best at different times and quickly amassed a collection. However, it babywearing toddler, ways to carry a toddler, using a wrap to carry a toddler, moby wrap for back wearing, can be overwhelming! It’s easy to be paralyzed and confused by the number of options and sometimes it seems that you need to learn an entirely new vocabularly: rucksack, tightening rails, Tibetan tie, rebozo pass….what?!

To try and demystify carrier options, here is a quick overview of the different types. All of this information is no substitute for trying them out yourself, though. What works for one wearer and wearee isn’t necessarily the best fit for another, so it’s best to try out options and venture out to your local babywearing group, if you have one. These groups are invaluable for learning how to use different carriers, meeting other parents. Most groups also maintain a lending library where you can actually borrow carriers before purchasing.

Being a Mom is Messy

August 22, 2013

Being a Mom is messy. It’s messy in a multi-dimensional, chest-deep, figurative, literal kind of way from pregnancy right on past the teen years. From up-the-back poopy diapers to teenage heartache, Moms are in the thick of it start to finish. Motherhood: A Messy Gig. Here, Mom, hold this … dried up cricket, handful of […]

Rhody Bloggers

August 12, 2013

rhody bloggers, bloggers in RI, anchor blogs, mommy bloggers, Rhode Island blogs

I’m proud to be a part of a fantastic group of women bloggers in Rhode Island, the Rhody Bloggers. Many I am grateful to call my friends, others I know only online but reading their blogs makes me feel like I really do know them! We have a wealth of amazing writers, thinkers, creators, travelers, doers, givers, entertainers, adventurers among us – enjoy perusing their blogs, listed below.

Stop by for a visit when you have a chance!

Introducing the Rhody Bloggers:

World’s Okayest Mom

August 6, 2013

world's okayest mom, worlds okayest mom, world's best mom, world's greatest mom, best mom ever, good enough momI just saw a mug emblazoned with “World’s Okayest Mom” and laughed out loud. That’s a title that says it all. I love that my kids think I’m the “Greatest Mom,” and my youngest still tells me, “You’re the BEST Mom in the whole wide world,” but I know the truth.

There are Moms that do it better than me, I’m certain, or Moms that do pieces of this Mommy gig better than me. But in the end, we’re all doing our best and sometimes, just being the World’s Okayest Mom is quite enough. I had a friend who used to tell me about her standards for babysitters, “If the kids are alive when I get home, I’m good” which made me realize I could lighten up my own expectations and the same goes for myself as a mother.

Sometimes good enough is just plain okay!

Did the kids get fed mostly nutritious meals? Did they finish their homework (even if I never sat with them to help or check it out)? Did I tell them I love them? Did they get to their activities mostly on time? Were they alive for bedtime? Then I did a pretty good job that day! So all the other stuff adds up to wonderful bonuses.

Top Mommy Blogs

August 1, 2013

top mommy blog approved, top mommy blogs, mother's circle blog, blog directory, mommy blog directory, Top Mommy Blogs is a directory of Mommy Blogs that are ranked, categorized and rated. They boast over 4500 blogs in 30 different categories. I’m a member and that’s the huge number of blogs I’m competing with! :-)

I am currently ranked #4 in the Family Life category and #25 overall. I’ve been as high as #19 and I’m working to break into the top 15.www.motherscircle.net, parenting, VBAC, doula, childbirth, breastfeeding and fenugreek, parenting advices, smart parenting tips, practical parenting, mommy blogs, top mommy blogs

Here’s my shameless plug for votes!

As a Mother’s Circle reader, I hope you’ll consider voting for me, your vote will count once in every 24 hour period, so if you’re really enthusiastic, please click every now and then! Every click helps me! And clicks from different IP addresses are terrific if you happen to work and live using different IP addresses. (Now I’m really asking a lot of you!)

5 Reasons to Use Babywearing

July 15, 2013

reasons to babywear, why baby wear, why wear your baby, benefits of babywearing how to use babywearing, is babywearing safe, is it safe to use a baby carrier, is it safe to use a sling, is it safe to use a baby wrapThere are certainly more than 5 reasons to use babywearing in your family, but in this guest post, Nancy Parker gives us her top five reasons. See my notes at the end of this post for additional benefits.

Is babywearing safe? Done properly and with attention to how to safely wear your baby – YES! So many mothers I work with (and when I had little ones myself) swear by babywearing. Keep up on recalls and safety precautions with carriers as with all baby products. In 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about sling carriers.

One Mom tells me, “I quickly fell in love with wrapping and how close it brought my baby and me, how hands-free I could be when I put him on my back, and how much of a supermom I felt like when I could get him to sleep anywhere at a moment’s notice by throwing him in the wrap.
I also loved the puzzles of learning new carries with my wrap and the sense of accomplishment at getting a nice tight wrap and mastering a new style for the first time. The more we wore, the more patient he was with me while I learned, the more patience I had with him with sleeping and eating, AND I could get things done around the house while simultaneously snuggling my baby and bringing him comfort. I even took him to work with me for the first six months of his life and [babywearing] made that possible!
Having a second baby only 21 months later means that babywearing is a part of our daily (hourly?) routine. I can play with the toddler or take him to the park with my infant snuggled in on my chest or back and can nurse discreetly while still chasing after the two-year old. We never feel stuck at home and I rarely lug along a bulky stroller (although it certainly has it’s place as well).”

Here are 5 Reasons to Use Babywearing

Why You Need Mommy Time

July 10, 2013

why you need mommy time, ideas for mommy time, taking care of mom, making time for myself, making self priority, kids painting, kids artwork, painting in orange and blue,Mommy time is a way to fill ourselves up to be able to be better in all of our roles. As Moms, we spend much of our days focused on kids. Kids’ meals, kids’ behaviors, kids’ activities, kid’s homework, kid’s bathing, brushing, towel-dumping, rule-not-following, stop-touching-him stuff.

You deserve some grown-up time. Guilt-free parenting is my mantra and giving yourself time should be a priority on your to do list. Go ahead and do something to fill yourself up.

When we feel fulfilled and like our own lives are valuable independent of being someone’s Mommy, we open ourselves to personal growth and in turn to being better mothers, wives, friends, people.

You’ve heard the expression: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.” It’s so often true, as Moms, that we set the tone of the family. We set the example. We create the culture over the long term and create the mood in the short term.

How we greet the day and the people in our homes matters to the family culture. We are key in sculpting the family dynamics and when we feel whole as women, we are better able to weather the tedium and build the home lives we imagined when first dreaming of a family.

So here’s a quick list of some ideas for Mommy Time to get you thinking about what you can do for yourself. Start today!

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 beliefs.red 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.

How to Soothe a Crying Baby

June 4, 2013

calming a baby, soothe a cryng baby, how to get a baby to stop crying, harvey karp, Leahs soothing skills, mother's circle soothing skills, baby in hospital blanket, how to calm a baby, how to hold a baby, how to swaddle a babyA crying baby can cause a new parent (or even a seasoned parent) to feel stressed or helpless. Learning effective infant soothing can help any parent remain calm in the face of shrieks and howls.

The reality is, with an infant, you have to accept some fussiness, some crying. In the early weeks and months, an awake baby needs your attention, but here’s how to confidently soothe a crying baby back to calm.

I have to admit, when I first heard of Harvey Karp’s “Happiest Baby on the Block” I actually rolled my eyes and thought, “How superlative. Seriously?” but then I saw Dr. Karp speak at a conference in 2006 and I was sold. Since then, I’ve used his 5 S’s technique for soothing more babies than I can count. I’ve taught it and recommended his books/DVD to oodles of parents and caregivers. It really is magical when done with attention to details.

These infant soothing skills fall into the category of “Things-I-Wish-I-Knew-When-My-Own-Kids-Were-Babies,” and here, I need to give a nod to my husband. When I raved to him about this fantastic trick to gets babies to sleep, he smiled. He told me that that was exactly what he’d done with each of our sweeties when they were fussing up a storm. He would quietly send me to nap and scoop up our wailing angel and he’d swaddle, shush and walk and jiggle. He described how their heads would shimmy and how predictably it worked. I believe many Dads, partners, and family members have perhaps used their own style of the 5 S’s, but, alas, we weren’t the ones to write the book.

baby crying, mom with crying baby, how to soothe a crying baby, how to help a baby crying, what to do when a baby cries, harvey karp, happiest baby, The basic premise of “Happiest Baby on the Block” is that human babies are born too early and so in the “forth trimester” (the first three months of a newborn’s life) we need to recreate a womb-like environment for the baby. Before birth, a baby has been hearing Mom’s heartbeat, the swooshing of blood through her arteries, he’s been lulled and rolled into sleep as Mom moves, walks and goes about her daily life. Your baby has been folded up snugly, upside down (ideally) with his little limbs bumping into something with each movement.

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.

Leadership Skills for Moms Part 2

April 25, 2013

walking in woods, walking under branches, kids hiking, kids in woods, brother and sister getting along, siblings on walk, leadership skills for moms, leadership tips, parenting tips for teens, In Leadership Skills for Moms part one, I applied the principles from Kouzes and Posner’s book, The Leadership Challenge to motherhood. As Moms, we certainly hold many leadership roles, whether we acknowledge that label or not, we ARE leaders.

Where are your leadership strengths? How do you want to grow as a leader? What’s one thing you can do today to take a step to become the Mom Leader you envision?

Based on their research, Kouzes and Posner defined five practices of exemplary leadership:

1. Model the way
2. Inspire a shared vision
3. Challenge the process
4. Enable others to act
5. Encourage the heart.

In Leadership Skills for Moms part one, I discussed model the way, inspire a shared vision and challenge the process. Here, let’s talk about the last two principles, enabling others to act and encourage the heart.

Using These Leadership Skills for Moms

Enable Others to Act

How do you get a 3 year old to put on his shoes so you can get out the door? How do you get a 7 year old to pick up his Lego’s? Get a 12 year old to clean her bedroom? A 15 year old to do his homework independently?

Leadership Skills for Moms

April 21, 2013

girl jumping on trampoline, leadership skills for moms, launch trampoline park, leading the way, model the way, parents as leaders, teaching kids leadership, challenge the process, leadership challengeI’ve just enjoyed a weekend of leadership training (and got stuck in Columbus!) Since “Mom” is my main job title, I gave a lot of thought about how to apply these principles to motherhood.

So here it is: Leadership skills for Moms!

Moms are leaders in their family and to their kiddos; we can benefit from bringing a consciousness to how we behave as leaders and models for our children.

These concepts will apply to you in every aspect of your life – career, PTA, in relationships, coaching the soccer team – but let’s look at them from a Mom’s viewpoint.

This weekend’s workshop curriculum was based on Kouzes and Posner’s book, The Leadership Challenge. Through their research, they defined five practices of exemplary leaders:

1. Model the way
2. Inspire a shared vision
3. Challenge the process
4. Enable others to act
5. Encourage the heart.

Today’s post will cover the first three, check back tomorrow for discussion on principles four and five.

Using These Leadership Skills for Moms

Model the way

Isn’t that the first sentence in the Mommy Job Description? We are our children’s first role models, the one they turn to to learn about themselves and their place in the world. They look at us to learn how facial expressions reveal emotions, to see if they should cry or not when they’ve fallen down and to search our eyes for approval.

We model the way all day long, every day, whether we’re kindly carrying a bag of groceries to a sick neighbor or yelling at another driver for cutting you off. Our kids may not always listen, but they sure do always HEAR!

Top Mommy Blogs

April 12, 2013

Top Mommy Blogs is a directory of Mommy Blogs that are ranked, categorized and rated. They boast over 4500 blogs in 30 different categories. I’m a member and that’s the huge number of blogs I’m competing with! :-)

I am currently ranked #15 in the Family Life category (#69 overall) and I’m working to break into the top 10 in my very populated category. I would appreciate your votes!

As a Mother’s Circle reader, I hope you’ll consider voting for me, your vote will count once in every 24 hour period, so if you’re really enthusiastic, click every now and then! Every click helps me! And clicks from different IP addresses are terrific if you happen to work and live using different IP addresses. (Now I’m really asking a lot of you!)

All you need to do is click on one of the Top Mommy Blog images
in my side bar or at the bottom of my blog posts and
once you land on the Top Mommy Blogs home page, you’ve voted!

Thank you!

This is one time when “vote early vote often” is actually legal! Click once in each 24 hours and it’ll count!

top mommy blogs, vote for me, mom bloggers, mothers circle blog, top mommy blog voting,

I know you’re a busy Mom and I thank you for taking a moment to vote for Mother’s Circle on Top Mommy Blogs! I’m so happy and grateful to have your support!

Happy Friday – Have a wonderful weekend!

xo
Leah

 

What Do Your Kids Want to Be When They Grow Up?

March 27, 2013

STEM careers, kids strengths, when I grow up, I want to be, career choicesIn this week’s Mom Before Mom post, I wrote about what I wanted to be when I grew up it made me think about what my kids say now that they want to be. For some kids, they set their minds on something and never waiver. For other kids, the ideas change weekly, their interests broad and open.

Michael just today came home and announced, “Mom, do you want to hear what I want to do when I grow up?” I was stunned and thought, “Be a psychic?” He had no idea what I was writing about! This most recent idea, though, was more of an event plan than a career path, he wants to climb Mount Everest and glide off the top. (Ugh, see my Boys and Bruises post!)

What do your kids want to be when they grow up? How do we nurture the things that make them happy? How, as parents, can we encourage them to explore and guide them to discover their strengths?

It begins young with exposure to many different experiences. Going for a walk and taking the time to stop and touch some moss or poke a mushroom with a stick is a beginning. So are things like kicking the ball in the backyard, marching through the house with musical instruments or early forays into watercolor still-lifes and Play-Doh sculptures. These are valuable activities at all ages.

Offering varied opportunities isn’t generally the hard part, there are a million and one possibilities, activities, teams, clubs, events and chances to try things out. It’s harder to know how to limit what our kids join, as in all things parenting, it’s about finding that balance.

In the adolescent years, kids tend to begin to specialize in certain activities, they’ve narrowed down their sports and extracurricular time to more focused interests. Those activities may not be what they would pursue as a life path. Or could they be?

Young Women’s Birth Survey

March 18, 2013

If you’re a woman aged 18-26, click here to take the survey. Thank you!

mothers circle logo, birth survey, what do women fear about birth, college women and birth, birth questions, survey for young women, I have always trusted my body and trusted the process of birth even before I knew babies and mamas would be my profession. I’ve been in the birth world as a professional for over a decade, as a Mom for over fourteen years and it still saddens me to witness how much fear is tied up with birth.

As a doula* and childbirth educator, I work with families starting late in the second trimester, or later, more than midway through their pregnancy. I have found that the short time we work together is simply not long enough to reverse decades of fear a woman may carry. She may not even consciously realize her trepidation and angst, or its depth.

My motivation to conduct the Young Women’s Birth Survey sprouted at a conference with collegiate women in 2010. A group of young women asked what I do and after explaining what a doula is, I was shocked to hear the reactions of these young, healthy women who wanted to be mothers one day. They shared how afraid they were of pregnancy and birth. One young woman believed her body couldn’t hold a baby and another announced that she only wanted a C-section.

How to Decide Whether to Have Another Baby

February 27, 2013

baby number 3, another baby?, deciding on another baby, how to decide on another baby, questions to consider before new baby,How do you decide whether to have another baby? This is an intimately personal choice, everyone and every circumstance is different, of course, but the kinds of things that go into this decision are often quite similar.

Even though this is such a private choice, often outsiders offer unsolicited input. Nick and I always knew we wanted three children. We had a girl and two years later, a boy. Then when I was pregnant with our third baby, someone actually said to me, “Oh, why would you do that? You have the perfect family!” Um, seriously? You have your perfect family, I’ll have mine.

There is so much that goes into family planning decisions. It’s tough to sign up for another pregnancy when you look ahead at going through sleep deprivation, being tied down for nap schedules and managing babyhood, all while ALSO dealing with the needs of toddlers and school-aged kids.

Maybe you feel that things are going smoothly now, well, usually. Your kids are walking on their own, maybe they’re all even going to the bathroom by themselves. Nap times are extinct, diaper bags have been donated and you’re sleeping through the night (most of the time). So it’s hard to think about going back to square one just when you’ve really got a rhythm to your daily life.

My younger brother once said of growing families to Nick, “Everyday, you guys are moving closer to freedom and everyday we’re further away.”

If you’re struggling with this decision, you’re not alone in your conflicted feelings. I’d venture to say that most women and couples explore the idea to have another baby at some point. It’s a modern day battle between head and heart, between practicalities and emotions.

Favorite Home Cooked Meal

February 1, 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 third post in the series.
Last week’s post: What was your childhood bedroom like?

This week’s prompt:
What was your favorite home cooked meal as a child? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

salmon with asparagus, salmon dinner, kids eating fish, getting kids to eat vegetables, healthy snack ideas, healthy dinner ideas,My Mom cooked homemade meals every night. We ate at the table my Dad built. My parents, my sister, brother and I each had our own spot at the table, literally and figuratively.

We had our seats, but we also had our say. More than the food, I remember the discussions, the laughing, the problem solving, and the sharing that happened around that table. We devoured side dishes of daily check ins, gobbled up glimpses of business decisions when my Dad purposefully told stories from the office. We were fed lessons from the news along with our green beans and explored family values and decisions.

On the nights when my Dad was on a business trip, we would get visits from an imaginary Italian woman, Granny Fanny Nesserole. My Mom would slip into this persona and accent while we tumbled into fits of laughter.

My Mom made dinners special. It was usually our job to set the table, but some nights, she would set the table in an extra special way, with flowers, candles, pretty china and she would serve an appetizer before the main course. On Valentine’s Day, we would come to the table and each find a card and small package wrapped in green salad, wooden salad bowl, family dinner traditions, pass the salad, tomato salad, mom before mom, pinks and reds.

We always had a salad with dinner. My Dad would ask for the salad bowl when we were all done and he’d eat the rest right out of the serving bowl. Sure, we learned manners at the dinner table, but that was his thing and we thought it was normal. One night, I remember my Mom was serving liver (back in the 70’s when it used to be healthy) and my Dad, before taking a bite announced, “If that’s what I think it is, no one touch the salad!” A bit of family lore.

Writing Life

January 28, 2013

writing journals, diaries for kids, national novel writing month, record keeping families, traveling, Bermuda, France, cruises with families, Writing has always been something I’ve loved. I got my first diary when I was eight years old, a yellow book with white flowers on the cover, gilded pages and a golden lock.

Those early entries in my daisy-covered diary, written in second-grader printing, were simple recordings of my days, “I got up, I went to school. After school, Karen came over to play. We played outside. It was great!” My report-style writing evolved to reflecting on events, venting deep emotions, exploring relationships and pondering life. Recording daily details continued at a new level, and often my diaries became references for where we spent a certain Thanksgiving (settling some bets), what year we threw the 80’s party or when I dated “that guy.”

In re-reading old journals, it’s shocking to me how many things – big things – I’d forgotten, not just minutia but things like auditioning for the school play, I did that?

For my year 2000 project, I set out to transcribe all hundred-something hand-written books. While I didn’t make a big dent in that idea, as I worked, I marveled at how I could read and find myself feeling 12 or 17 again, I could instantly be back in a moment in my past. At other times, it was as if I was outside looking back in a motherly way at my younger self, I saw and experienced that memory in a whole new way, with a new perspective colored by experience.

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.

How Did You Get Your Name?

January 17, 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.

The idea is that our children only know us “Mom,” “Mommy,” or “Mama” but don’t know who we were before we had that name. Each week, Carla will provide a prompt which will result in a collection of stories from me to my children, giving them a glimpse into me, before I was their Mom.

Our first prompt: How did you get your name? Did you always love it? Have you ever wanted to change it?

leah name, cut out letters, ransom note style words, collages, magazine letters cut out, meaning of Leah, Hebrew Leah, crafty name,

I don’t think my parents had a reason for naming me Leah, except that they liked it and the second runner up, Jennifer, had just been used by my Mom’s friend. My middle name is Jane, after my mother, which is special to me now, though I’m not sure I appreciated that when I was younger.

Growing up I looked my name up in a baby name book for it’s meaning: the weary one. Seriously?! For someone who loves the meaning behind things, this was a bummer, and anyone who knows me will confirm that I tend to have a lot of energy. A-Lot-Of-Energy! (Over years of my overachieving ways, though, I have over-committed myself at times and have felt weary.)

I’m not sure I prefer the more modern meaning: delicate. I’m pretty bold, self confident and consider myself a strong, passionate woman. However, when I really consider the meaning, I think my heart is empathetic, open and honest, and so it can feel sensitive and fragile. I hate feeling misunderstood – I’d never make it in politics!

As a kid, I was the only Leah. There was another girl about six years younger than me, who spelled her name Lea, but until college, she was the only other person I’d ever met who had my name.

Generally, I liked being individual and having an uncommon name, but I craved something personalized. Other girls had signs on their bedroom doors announcing “Carrie’s Room” or had stickers, hair clips or jewelry labeled with their names. Nothing ever had Leah on it. Nothing.

Family of Circles

January 14, 2013

family circle time, silver circle necklace, silver rings, cute things children say, grateful mommy, happifyI love the symbolism and images of circles, so when I found this necklace full of circles, (at a bargain price, which made me even happier) I scooped it up.

One day when I was savoring the feeling of fiddling with the loops around my neck, my daughter sat on my lap to join me in playing with the necklace of circles.

She was at an age when it was routine to label things to represent family members, to notice ascending and descending sizes and correlate them to each of us. So, my necklace was bound to become our family of circles.

As she fanned out the circles, she began, “This one is Daddy, this one is Ali, this one is Michael and this one is me,” she paused for just a second, there are only four silver rings but five in our family. Then she touched the tiny one and announced, “And this is you, Mommy!”silver rings, importance of moms, kids love their moms, ascending order, math game

Even though this was only a child’s musings, the usual assigning the family to objects, I had a moment of pause. A moment with a wisp of a sinking feeling that I was viewed as small in her eyes. But before I could register theses thoughts or give a name to my emotion, she continued.

“Mommy, you’re the little one because you hold us all together.”

 

 

 

 

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.)

What is a Mother’s Circle?

November 8, 2012

I’ve always loved symbolism, something simple holding a greater, deeper meaning, and the circle, specifically, strikes me. It has a feeling to me, it feels whole and balanced, it feels like an embrace, inclusive. A circle is never-ending and strongly feminine, while also united with the masculine. I chose the name Mother’s Circle when I […]

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