Blog Archives

Keeping Your Child Safe From Cyberbullying

September 1, 2014

Thank you to TeenSafe for this guest post and helpful infographic on Keeping Your Child Safe From Cyberbullying.

Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat. . . Each of these sites can be a great way for teens to build relationships and connect with their peers. Judging by the growing popularity, it doesn’t look like they’ll be disappearing anytime soon. And while social media sites do have their perks, they are also becoming a breeding ground for hurtful comments and humiliating photos.

Cyberbullying has transformed the bullying of years past, where school hallways and playgrounds took the brunt of the problem. Now, children have no place to hide from their tormentors. Bullies find it easy to inflict emotional pain from behind the safety of their computer screens and often believe that their actions will not have any consequences. However, it’s time for parents to step up and gain the knowledge necessary to fight back against this epidemic.

 

Being aware of what your child is doing online is the first step toward ending cyberbullying.

Check out the infographic below, by TeenSafe.com, for tips on how to help your kids online. Knowledge is power, parents. Let’s do what we can – starting today.

Naked Parenting Offers Tools for the Journey

August 25, 2014

EGnews header, EGreenwich news, east Greenwich RI, EG blog, Elizabeth McNamaraEGNews is a wonderful, local blog covering “Everything About Our Town.”

I’m grateful to editor, Elizabeth McNamara for her story on Naked Parenting, EG Mom’s Book Naked Parenting Offers Tools for the Journey.

If you’re an East Greenwich, Rhode Islander, you’ve got to subscribe to EGNews to be in the know!

Click here to read the story.

Follow EG News on Twitter @egreenwichnews

Like EG News on Facebook

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Naked Parenting Webinar Available

August 21, 2014

naked parenting webinar, parenting webinars, parenting tips, parenting advice, parenting teens, parenting toddlers, bargain parenting books,If you missed my Naked Parenting webinar this week, here is the recording. The book is still on sale until August 25, 2014 so it’s a great time to download Naked Parenting and share it with your friends.

I had a great time doing the webinar and the feedback was rewarding, attendees polled felt that they had learned something that they could apply to parenting right away.

Some quotes from reviews of Naked Parenting on Amazon:

The content is straightforward and to the point – with highly organized “take-away” messages that stick with you throughout the day … helpful techniques that every parent should have in their toolbox!

Practical, reasoned and full of real-world experience.

Many parenting books on the market focus on strategies starting with children’s behavior, Naked Parenting starts with parents-which is often overlooked in other parenting books. Leah provides thoughtful and wise suggestions for parents to consider in many different situations and scenarios of parenting.

This book reads like a good friend kindly whispering in your ear the things you need to hear about parenting.

Such a wonderful read! Leah’s quick strategies started helping me with my 2 year old almost immediately…

It’s an easy read with tons of valuable information!

I am encouraged as a mom from your words.

Naked Parenting is eye-opening. Chock-full of priceless advice for parents with children of all ages.

I’m grateful for these and other wonderful reviews. I hope you, too, enjoy Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence. I hope you enjoy it enough to share it and recommend it, too. Get it now while it’s on sale!

Click here to listen to the Naked Parenting Webinar.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

top mommy blogs, mommy blog directory,

 

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

Naked Parenting on the Patch

August 12, 2014

Click here to read: What is Naked Parenting? article on East Greenwich, RI Patch.

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Tattling or Telling? 2 Questions to Teach Kids

August 4, 2014

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I’m grateful to Mostly Together Mommy {More Than Mommy} for allowing me to guest post.

You can read the full post, Tattling or Telling? on MTMommy.

It can be hard for kids to understand if something is tattling or telling, in this post, I offer two questions as a simple guide to help us teach kids the difference.

As always, thanks for being a Mother’s Circle reader!

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!

3 Playground Rules for Parents – Guest Post

July 11, 2014

playground rules, tips for parents at playground, playground parenting tips, red swing, naptime reviewerI am happy to share my guest post on The Nap Time Reviewer on:

3 Playground Rules for Parents

 

Click here to read my guest post on The Nap Time Reviewer.

As always, thanks for being a Mother’s Circle reader!

Naked Parenting Book Trailer

July 10, 2014

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

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

 

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

 

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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

Top Ten Ways to Help a Friend Whose Child is Facing a Medical Crisis

June 23, 2014

helping a friend with sick child, how to help a friend, friend with baby in NICU, what to say to friend with sick baby


Do you know the best ways to help a friend whose child is facing a medical crisis?

My thanks to Kerry Sheeran, Author of The Marathon, a powerful memoir about their daughter’s journey and struggle for life, for this guest post.

It’s not always to know what to do or what to say or how to be genuinely helpful to help a friend whose child is facing a medical crisis, but Kerry’s post guides us through her top ten pieces of advice, from someone who’s been there.

 

 

 

Top Ten Ways to Help a Friend Whose Child is Facing a Medical Crisis

Watching a family member or friend suffer through the illness or hospitalization of their child can leave a person feeling utterly helpless. It can be hard to determine when and how to offer your support. Where is the line between being too pushy and not the least bit supportive? How can you be the person your friend needs during a difficult time in their lives? I have some experience in this department, having been on the receiving end of a tremendous amount of help during the course of five years, eight major surgeries and countless hospitalizations of my six-year-old.

What I learned during those difficult times has served me well when my own friends have found themselves in similar situations, and so I want to share them with Mother’s Circle readers. Without further adieu, I’m pleased to present you with the top ten most important ways to help a friend whose child is facing a medical crisis:

10. DON’T ASK, DO TELL:

Don’t ask your friend: “How can I help you?” Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, your heart is in the right place – but you need to use your head on this one. This is your friend, after all. You should be able to anticipate his or her needs to a certain extent. Think about it before you ask, then propose a way you might be able to step in. Is it garbage night? Is one of their other kids on a travel soccer team? Is their business suffering as a result of their absence?

Figure out what might be the most efficient way to lighten their load, and propose it to them in a matter-of-fact way. “I’ll take Danny to and from his soccer game on Sunday, okay?” “Can I make those deposits for you so that payroll stays on track?” “I’d like to take your garbage out and bring your mail in while you’re at the hospital”. “I’d like to clean and disinfect your house so that it’s all ready for Katie when she gets home.”

Your friend will appreciate the thoughtfulness behind your good deed, given the state of mind he or she is probably in. The last thing a parent of a sick child has time to do is brainstorm ways for you to help them. Not to mention, many people have a difficult time asking for help in the first place. So eliminate that part of the equation by tweaking your offer from “What can I do?” to “Here’s what I plan to do – is it okay with you?” Guaranteed they will be eager to accept a well thought out offer to help.

9. OPEN YOUR EARS:

Resist the urge to talk and constantly advise when your friend is unloading to you. Unless they specifically The Marathon, Boston Marathon book, book cover pink sneakers, The Marathon book cover,call seeking advice, be the friend and confidant your were called to be. Processing the magnitude of a child’s poor health is extremely hard for a parent. Talking through it can be helpful in many ways. Sometimes just saying something out loud is a way for a parent to accept a recent diagnosis, a bad turn or an all around crappy day for their child. Listen to your friend when they are sharing their story with you.

8 Parenting Lessons from Frozen

June 17, 2014

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

So back to the parenting lessons from Frozen …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Family first and love conquers all.

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

Sexting at School

June 10, 2014

sexting at school, book about sexting, girls and sexting, parenting teen girls, advice for parents of teen girlsMy thanks to Benjamin Dancer for this guest post. As a mother of two teens, I am happy to learn and share this information as a means to continue to keep updated and aware. There are so many challenges and things to keep on top of with kids in our high-tech world, it’s important to stay vigilant and educated to best guide and protect our kids.

I love Benjamin’s advice in Sexting at School which is so important to remember: “She needs you to be confident in your role. … Jessica loves you, and she knows that you love her. This is universal: the teenager wants desperately to have her independence, and she is terrified of it. Jessica is not aware of the fact that she is conflicted about this. She’s just a kid. As much as she pushes you away, she wants you to be strong, to love her.”

This is a great, quick read written for parent’s of teen daughters. Download the article-length ebook for free.

SEXTING AT SCHOOL by Benjamin Dancer

I’m a high school counselor, which means I work with parents every day who could use a little grace in their lives. Because I’ve made a career out of my work with adolescents, I see as a matter of course what a parent might be seeing for the first time. This includes a long list of unfortunate life events.

As a parent, I have a lot of empathy for other parents. It’s not easy, especially when you’re going through something for the first time. My life, on the other hand, is a little bit like Groundhog Day. In a sense, I’ve never left high school. Every school year I see the same things. Different kids, but the same behavior: alcohol, drugs, tobacco, bullying, kids running away from home, pregnancy and something newer: sexting.

Baby Names

May 15, 2014

I’d like to introduce you to a new feature on my site to help you pick baby names.

When you were growing up, did you have a list of names you wanted to name your future children? Then, as you realize that you’re naming a real person, it feels weighty and there’s so much to consider.

We think of giving them a name that sounds good out loud, that looks pretty written, that works with your last name, that doesn’t remind you or your spouse/partner of the boy who picked his nose in math class or the girl who made faces at you from the bus window. Lot’s to think about when it comes to baby names!

So give this fun tool a try – have fun with it, get others involved, and maybe you’ll uncover a name you hadn’t considered which fits just right.

I hope this will be helpful to those of you who are expecting. It’s a fun tool that helps you figure out your favorite name for your new baby! You can add your own to pick baby names or search a list, then you can invite your family and friends to play the game.

Rather than just a one-click poll, this game elicits your deeper preferences. Click Get Started below to build and share your very own baby names poll.

Child Development Birth to Age 5

March 26, 2014

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

Motherhood: Juggling Eggs

March 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

The Science of Raising Happy Kids – by Happify

March 12, 2014

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7 Ways to Make your Own Luck

March 11, 2014

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

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

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

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

7 Ways to Make Your Own Luck

1. It all begins with attitude.

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

2. Do the work.

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

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

Floating Wishes – Fun Activity for Kids and Adults

February 20, 2014

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

How to Make Floating Wishes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://youtu.be/bkZUEIkosNI

3. Roll the paper up around a pencil.

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

Short And Well Rehearsed: Kids’ Plays and Performances

January 15, 2014

kids plays, kids performances, acting kids, school plays, kids creating, shakespeare for kids, Growing up, I put on my fair share of plays and performances for my parents and babysitters. I remember one in particular that must have been torturous to my parent’s friend who was put in charge of us while they were at a funeral.

After she took us to see the newest Superman movie, her daughter, my brother, sister, and I acted out the entire movie. The ENTIRE movie, scene by scene. Now the props were exceptional, mind you, we even upended all of the dining room chairs to build the perfect recreation of a cave of icicles, but as an adult I think of what a saint Jo-Ann was to sit and watch us just play. Sure we had rehearsed it a little bit, we had some rough guidelines we all went by, but really, we were just playing and having fun while she sat captive as our audience of one.

[caption id="attachment_3731" align="alignright" width="225"]kids in plays, tree costume, kid dressed as tree, tree in a play, playing as a tree, Michael as a tree.[/caption]

As a parent, we have experienced (and sometimes endured) a litany of our kids shows, dances, plays and performances. I do love to see their creativity and cooperation, I just don’t necessarily care to sit there while they’re creating and cooperating. There is truly great value in kids producing their own shows from their imaginations and in learning to navigate the give and take of each of the participant’s contributions and ideas.

Goal Setting for Kids

January 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

Ten Warning Signs of Teen Marijuana Addiction: What Parents Need to Know

December 19, 2013

signs of teen pot use, signs of marijuana addiction, marijuana addiction, signs of weed use, teen grass use, teen weed useMy thanks to Scott Brand for this guest post on recognizing teen marijuana addiction. Taken one by one, some of these signs may appear to be typical teenage behaviors, but use these signs with an open mind and to be aware of patterns.

For a lot of these signs, the key can be if you’ve noticed a CHANGE in these behaviors. It can be hard for parents to face and accept tough issues in our kids but they need us to advocate for them if they get on a troubled path.

Guest Post by Scott Brand

Do you know the signs of teen marijuana addiction? Do you know what to do if you suspect your teen is addicted?

Marijuana is also referred to as cannabis, or weed, grass, pot, dope, ganja, Mary Jane and countless other slang terms. Whatever the term, marijuana has been hypothesized by some researchers to be a gateway drug that leads to more serious teen drug abuse. Marijuana is the most often used illegal drug in the United States.

Ten Early Warning Signs of Teen Marijuana Addiction

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.

5 Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

November 4, 2013

tips for conferences with teachers, ideas for successful teacher conference, communicating with teachers, school conferencesIn the season of parent teacher conferences, how can you get the most of those 15 minutes with your child’s teacher?

5 Tips for Successful Parent Teacher Conferences

1. Be prepared

Think ahead about what you’d like to discuss with your child’s teacher and what questions you’d like to ask. Ask your child ahead of time if there is anything he’s concerned about or would like you to talk about in your conference. What they share may surprise you. You may also seek input from a spouse or a childcare provider, anyone who spends a lot of time with your child.


2.Write it down

communicating with teacher, woman holding books, math on black board, school success, tips for school success, improving reading speed, third graders, tips for conferences, communicating with teacher, woman holding books, math on black board, school success, tips for school success, improving reading speed, third graders,Inevitably, you have some specific thing you’d like to ask the teacher and you’ve forgotten what it is when you walk into the classroom. So often, the teachers are on a tight schedule with parents stacking up outside their door, so you want to maximize your turn. Especially if you have more than one child, writing down some notes and questions is even more important.

Besides questions, you might jot down some things you’d like to share with the teacher, such as an activity or project your child particularly enjoyed or a family or health issue that you want to bring to her attention.

3. Listen

Hear what your child’s teacher wants to share with you about your child. Does she see things that you’re not aware of? Can she provide information about your child’s social interactions, respectfulness of others and general manners and behavior when they’re outside of your purvey? Perhaps he has some worries about your child academically or organizationally.

Hear what she is saying without evaluating or judging. Listen with an open mind to learn more about your child and how she may be perceived or where he may be struggling. Your child’s teacher sees your child in a unique setting for at least six hours a day. She has a valuable perspective and insight into your kiddo.

Should You Let Your Kids Watch Scary Movies?

October 30, 2013

Many thanks to Kate Oliver of www.help4yourfamily.com for this guest post on scary movies and gauging your child’s developmental readiness for viewing them.

By Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C

scary tv shows, kids and scary movies, kid with bowl of popcorn, what age is it ok for kids to watch scary movies, when can kids see scary moviesIn my house, Halloween is second only to Christmas. My children are still at an age where they want to dress up and trick or treat. They are eight and ten and they love to get a little bit scared sometimes as well. It is all part of the Halloween fun. Many holidays have special movies attached to them as well. Unlike Christmas, with, tales of Santa Claus and reindeer, and Easter, where we learn about a sweet bunny that brings treats, Halloween has movies of a different sort.

Sure there is Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin, but then there are the other movies…the scary movies.
In my work as a child therapist one issue I help kids overcome is sleep problems including nightmares. It is interesting to me that many times when children have nightmares, they are linked to watching scary movies, or even just the news. During this season of scary movies, let’s be especially mindful of the impact of what we decide to let our children watch.

teens and movies, teen nightmares, TV and teens, teens eating popcorn, boy in striped shirtI am certain my husband and I are not the only ones who have thought back to a movie we watched as kids, looked it up on Netflix and excitedly introduced it to our children only to be surprised at just how many four letter words were in say, ET and The Karate Kid. I certainly do not remember, as a kid, taking note of the language that was flying through those movies. I think many times when parents watch a scary movie with their children; they do so because they remember that excited and scared feeling they had watching the same movie.

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.

4 Habits to Teach Your Children ASAP

October 4, 2013

Guest post by Ken Myers

4 habits to teach your children, what to teach  your kids, teach your kids these habits, When it comes to habits, our little ones learn from our actions as parents. If we want our children to exhibit the mannerisms and attitudes we value, we need to start teaching them early. Children are susceptible to input from a very early age and guiding them is our job to help promote a brighter future.

With all of the habits and manners we wish to teach our little ones, which ones are more important to focus on?

 Here are 4 habits to teach your children starting today.

How to Support your Child Through Divorce

September 25, 2013

Guest post by Fiona McGlynn

how to support your child through divorce, helping kids through divorce, tips for divorce, divorce books for kidsDivorce can be a very confusing and emotionally fraught time for kids and parents alike. Based on my experience as an adult child of divorce, here are 5 ways to support your child through divorce.

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 […]

Back to School

August 16, 2013

back to school, girl on school bus, saying good bye on first day of school, first day of school, happy back to school, moms and back to schoolBack to school. It has a ring to it today. Today, I started the countdown to the first day of school. 12 days.

We’ve had a summer filled with sand and sunshine, family time and fun times, late nights and leisurely mornings. We’ve savored gallons of ice cream, bushels of corn on the cob and a few lobsters, too. We’ve reveled beneath sprays of fireworks, napped under beach umbrellas and snagged a few fish.

Summer has given us fresh garden squash and cucumbers (the tomatoes are coming), sailing breezes and time for stacks of favorite books and splashing in pools. Summer has given us easy, outdoor summer dinners, slow summer days, happy summer memories.

Why New Parents Need Postpartum Support

August 14, 2013

the value of postpartum support, why new parents need postpartum support, help for new parents, supporting new parents, help with new baby, What does postpartum really mean? Is the work of postpartum completed in six weeks? Two months? Five months? Is there a “right” time to have mastered your new role as parent or your new role as parent of two, three, twins? Why do families need postpartum support?

Postpartum, the time period often defined as the time it takes for the uterus to contract (involute) back to it’s pre-pregnancy size or six weeks, really lasts much longer and involves so much more than the physical restoration of the uterus.

The disparity between expectations and the reality of a newborn can leave parents feeling out of control of their lives. Even with appropriate expectations, for example, adding a second or third child to the family, the time intensive requirements of caring for a newborn can clearly be challenging.

Before the addition of a baby to your family, you have control over how you spend your time in working, leisure, sleeping, self-caretaking and other activities. It is hard to anticipate how dramatically that will change after your baby arrives and hard to imagine just how overwhelming that can be to new parents.postpartum depression help, support after babies, help with twins, help with newborns, postpartum doula

A day in the life of caring for a newborn consists of:

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!)

Math Kisses

July 23, 2013

Math kisses, bedtime math, teaching kids math, learning math with fun, fun ways to learn math, fun ways to teach math, making math part of your day, math routines, how to teach math, ideas to teach young kids mathMath kisses grew in our family from a song that a babysitter when I was about eight years old first sang for me.

It’s a silly little ditty:

“Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
It’s time to go to bed,
Boop Boop!”

And the babysitter accented the “boops” with her hips as she left my doorway.

When Ali was little, I sang it to her and soon it was a regular part of our bedtime routine. Over the years and through three children, the song has grown, changed and evolved.

Each child has added his or her own individual enhancements. A second verse bloomed, “I love [insert kids’ name here], I love [kid sings Mommy/Daddy as parent sings kid’s name], I love [you get the idea], it’s time to go to bed, boop boop.” bedtime mathMichael now says “wee-ooo” instead of “boop boop.” Another addition, we sing the names of everyone in the family (and our bird, Piper) and new phrases have crept in, too, (“I love Ali, so much, I love Michael, so much…”)

As the song has lengthened, perhaps initially to delay the actual bedtime, it has remained a special part of ending the day. I don’t know how or when, but years ago, Anna began giving two kisses in between each phrase and instead of the boop boops. One night I realized she was counting the kisses on her fingers, we would end up with 16 kisses and run out of fingers, and then we always had to kiss four more times to get to an even 20.

I suggested she count by twos using one finger for each pair of kisses, so Anna started learning and practicing counting by twos. We added a challenge and I’d give her one kiss before singing and she’d need to count by twos on the odd numbers. Without knowing, we had fallen into a special bedtime routine of math kisses.

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!

The Meaning of Independence Day

July 4, 2013

meaning of Independence day, watercolor flag, painted flag, declaration of independence in full text, proud to be an American, American independence, teaching kids American historyToday, reflect for a moment on the meaning of Independence Day. Think about the reasons we can luxuriate at picnics, beaches and parades today and throughout the years; the reasons we can share our thoughts freely, speak out against our own government, and practice any religion we choose.

I’m a patriot, I love our country and deeply believe it’s the best place to be in the world! I believe in teaching my children, and America’s children, about our founding and guiding documents, these are what make us The United States of America.

So along with watermelon and hotdogs, this year we’ll be reading and listening to The Declaration of Independence in our family as the beginning of a 4th of July tradition.

The meaning of Independence day starts here, with The Declaration of Independence. Click here to listen to celebrity reading of The Declaration of Independence. I am proud to be an American and hearing this is moving and powerful.

Today, I wish you a “Happy Fourth of July!” and I’m remembering what it really means.

The Meaning of Independence Day – The Declaration of Independence

Camping Activities for Kids

June 25, 2013

sun through trees, woods, woodlands, camping activities for kids, things to do with kids, outdoor activities, camping ideas, fun with kids, camping recipesCamping activities for kids can spring up naturally from your surroundings and basic camping preparations. We’ve been camping with our kids since Michael was a baby (that was a sleepless weekend with a pack and play in a tent and rising with the birds … but that’s a story for another post!)

Both Nick and I grew up camping with our families, his family more than mine. We both have warm and happy memories of evenings around a campfire, searching for the perfect marshmallow roasting stick and spending time with our parents. Before our kids were born, Nick and I did some camping together and with groups of friends. We camped in Saratoga, NY, and spent our days at the races and along the water in Virgina. It was the perfect activity for our fresh out of school salaries.

Years later, when our children were still little, we ventured out on a few single-night camping outings. We pitching tents, putting up a tent, how to put up a tent, tent camping, tents and kids, kids putting up a tent, kids helping with camping, would load everything up and leave early on a Saturday morning to a campground nearby. Sometimes we were only 20 minutes from home but once you’re inside a wooded campground with streams, ponds, pools and fire pits, no one could tell where we were!

The kids, older now, love camping and we are building memories of unplugged family time. Our number one camping rule: Electronics are not allowed.

Remember when camping, hiking, climbing and exploring in the woods to check for ticks. Click here for 7 tips to protect your kids, and yourself, from Lyme disease.

Kids find their own fun with what’s around and here is a list of more camping activities for kids.

Fame Obsession Among Kids

June 19, 2013

fame obsessed, obsessed with being famous, zac brown band image, I want to be a rock star, I want to be famous, my kid wants to be famous, kids want fame, I’ve pondered fame and what it means to be famous over the years and I’ve worried about the disproportionate value our young people place on fame. I believe that fame obsession among kids, from teens down to younger children, can have unexpectedly negative effects.

In a culture decades into reality TV (remember when the “experts” were predicting it would be short lived?) it’s difficult for kids to see anything but the positives and coolness of being famous. That’s the value system we’ve fed them their whole lives: Being famous is a goal, it’s a free ticket to whatever you want, strive to be famous.

Even in a household that limits television or even restricts it all together, that message is pervasive. In school bus discussions, on morning news loops and papers, splashed across magazines at the grocery store check out line. Fame is held high, coveted, envied.

A 2009 UK study found that the career goals of today’s kids versus 25 years ago vary greatly with the top three slots today being pop star, sports star and actor. Of the three, only sports star even showed up on the list 25 years ago, in 7th place.

In the extreme, fame obsession among kids and teens can lead to real-life consequences. From imitation in styles and risky behaviors, to misplaced goals and priorities, to outright craziness as portrayed in the film The Bling Ring, in theaters nationwide Friday. The Bling Ring is based on the true story of teens breaking in to celebrities home and stealing millions of dollars of stuff in an effort to live like the stars. Click here to read a Mother’s Circle post on The Bling Ring and Internet Safety.

Clearly, that’s on the far end of the spectrum. In my life and as a Mom, I strive for a balance. I love going to the movies and I’ve had my times of pining after Rob Lowe and Shawn Cassidy (I’m giving away my age!) but it had perspective. It’s normal to be star struck to a degree, even the stars say they get star struck. It’s our job to teach our kids the difference between a healthy admiration and fanaticism.

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