Introducing Stempaks

November 10, 2014 by ldecesare

introducing stempaks, what is STEM, what is stempaks, STEM projects for kidsI’m thrilled to introduce you to Stempaks.

Just in time for Christmas, Hanukah and winter birthday gift giving comes Stempaks, “sparking curiosity through discovery and creativity.”

When you subscribe, on a month-by-month or annual basis, your kids will receive a package each month ready-made with projects for them to explore. It’s easy for parents to get as engaged in the topic as they want, or to let kids dive in on their own.

Stempaks is targeted to kids aged 5 – 10 and each month will feature a different theme or topic. This November is focusing on paleontology.

As a blogger, I receive an influx of email requests to review items and I delete the great majority of them, but something stempaks package, science for kids, math projects for kidsin the email from the founders of Stempaks made me reach out to them. Not only are these young entrepreneurs innovative and creating a product that encourages family learning, but one of the founders also served in the military. From the first phone call, I had a great impression and love the concept of this product, I immediately agreed to not only be a beta tester but also to serve as an adviser because I believe in what they’re doing.

When our package arrived, the kids couldn’t wait to open it. Our dinosaur kit came with eye goggles and a face mask which went right on as the kids read through the materials to see what they needed to do.

stempaks, excited kids, engineering for kids, STEM curriculum

stempaks, science projects, dinosaur activities, paleontology

Decked out in their protective gear, they transformed into archeologists and little by little excavated dinosaur bones. They took it very seriously, brushing away the dust and being cautious not to harm a fossilized bone.

goggles and mask, STEM projects

With a focus on the STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, the Stempaks kits are an engaging way to empower kids in these key areas. Click to read about why STEM education is important for everyone.

Conveniently delivered to your door each month, Stempaks supports the activities with additional ideas for digging deeper. For example, in the paleontology pack, other projects included making dinosaur bones, both craft and edible, and creating dinosaur feet and Jurassic eggs.

Check out Stempaks and let me know what your kids discover! As the kids play with the dinosaur skeleton they built from the bones they excavated, they’re already looking forward to what will be in next month’s Stempak!

dinosaur activity, stem activity, STEM for kids, teaching kids STEM

dinosaur bones, dinosaur fossils, discovering dinosaurs, learning about dinosaurs, dinosaurs for kids

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© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Parents Set the Tone for the Family

November 5, 2014 by ldecesare

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

Parents set the tone for the family.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Woo Hoo – Liebster Award!

October 30, 2014 by ldecesare

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

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

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

So here goes!

11 Things About Me

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

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

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

4. I love the beach. Toes in the sand, sun beating down, salt on my skin.

5. After giving up tennis as a kid because I looked more like a ballerina than an athlete, I started playing as an adult about seven years ago and I am absolutely hooked. I love to play and to watch!

6. I’m married to my best friend for 20+ years. I couldn’t be luckier. The story of how we met is unique: I moved in with him and his roommate as strangers to fill a vacant room for a month. We started dating after I moved out, but were engaged only three months after our first date, only six months after first meeting.

7. No surprise here, but my three kiddos are the center of my world, the beating of my heart. I could not feel more blessed and grateful!

8. Since I was 6 or 7, I wanted to be a writer. I’m almost ready to submit the manuscript for my first novel to agents … exciting and scary all at once.

9. We have a pet bird, a cockatiel. Anna is always saying with awe, “It is so cool that we have a bird.” And I agree! Piper is so snuggly, sweet, and what other kind of pet can say, “I love you” and a host of other calls and songs?

10. I love flowers. Gardening and cutting flowers for inside make me so happy, I try to have flowers or flowering plants in the house year round.

11. I can only drink decaf. I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I do love the smell and the experience of sipping a hot cup, but give me a fully loaded cup of caffeine and I’ll be buzzing, talking faster than usual, and on overdrive for days! A morning cup of coffee can actually keep me up at night I’m so sensitive to it. No triple shot espresso’s for me. :-) This, incidentally, is also something that friends tease me about.

Here are my questions from Deborah:

Q. If you couldn’t be yourself, but you had to live someone else’s life, whose would you choose it to be?

A. This is such a tough question for me because I love my life and am happy being me. I’ve been pondering this and as much as I want to play along, I cannot think of anyone! A famous tennis player or author, maybe, Oprah, with her influence and ability to give and give, but everyone has their struggles and pains to go through along the way to their successes, and I’ll just keep mine, my life’s been pretty great. :-)

Q. Are most of your goals wants or needs? Name one.

A. Wants for sure. I have the luxury of being able to pursue my lifelong goal of writing and have consciously reprioritized my life over the last three years or so to be able to write more. Loving it! It’s a want – but in some ways, writing also feels like a need.

Q. If money were not an object, would you prefer to be a stay-at-home mom or have a career outside the home?

A. Hmmm, both. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for sixteen years and I loved it and wouldn’t trade that time for anything. During those years, I was available for my kids but have also run a doula and birth/parenting education business, founded a non-profit, wrote a book, and volunteered countless hours like so many moms do, but it was all on my own time schedule. I have just started a new job outside the home. It’s returning to event planning, a job I loved before leaving for babies, and I’m thrilled and excited to be jumping back in. So the answer is kind of BOTH!

Q. What is your favorite charity or cause?index

A. The Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness – click to read all about this project near and dear to me.

Q. When you think back to your childhood dreams for your adult life, did any of them turn out like you imagined?

A. Being a mom was tops on my list and I’m living the dream. Writing was another constant growing up, and I’m forging ahead on that front, too, after life took me in different directions for awhile.

Q. Would you rather live in a house just a little too small, but always have cash for all the incidental things that come up? Or would you rather live in a large and spacious home, but money would always be tight?

A. ACK – I hate debt, so the former, for sure. Cozy and debt-free, though those wants and desires for more are always lurking, tugging, and tempting!

Q. What character trait do you like best about yourself?

A. I’m sensitive and feel deeply which I think is what makes me thoughtful and empathetic. (And seriously tearful at times, another point of getting teased!)

Q. What is the most important lesson you hope your children take away from what you have taught them?

A. Love yourself. Everything stems from self-love, then you can give of yourself to others wholly and generously. You can accomplish anything with the confidence that self-love inspires. Love and value yourself.

Q. What is your favorite activity?

A. Traveling. Take me anywhere in the world! One of my favorite trips was to Vietnam and Cambodia with my mom.

Q. Where would you go on your dream vacation?

A. Oh so many places to choose from. My dream vacation would be with my family and I think I’d pick somewhere I haven’t been though a ton of favorite places around the world are popping to mind. Right now, maybe a cruise through Alaska, I also really want to do an African safari. Better keep saving …

Q. What is your favorite holiday?

A. CHRISTMAS by far! I love family being together, attending church all season and especially on Christmas Eve wishing our church family a Merry Christmas. I love the season, the giving, the generosities, the spirit of community and kindness. I love writing cards with notes, reaching out to friends, I love selecting and wrapping the perfect presents and having the house decorated, the tree glowing with white lights. I love our Christmas elves and the kids faces in the morning, I love a leisurely breakfast and lingering together, stepping over piles of wrapping paper. Oh, I’m getting excited just thinking about Christmas!

My Nominees for the Liebster Award

Reading With Robin

Rock Paper Snips

A is for Adelaide and …

 

Questions for My Nominees

Q:  Why did you start your blog?

Q:  What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you?

Q:  What is a piece of advice you’d like to share?

Q:  What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing it? Would you still want to?

Q:  What’s your biggest fear?

Q:  Who is your hero? Why?

Q:  If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Q: What do you value most in life?

Q:  What are you really really good at?

Recap for Liebster Award Nominees

I hope all my nominees will accept the Liebster Award. Remember that to accept the award, you must do all of the following:

  • Thank and link back to the person’s blog who nominated you.
  • Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Create 11 new questions for those you nominate.
  • Nominate 5-11 of your favorite bloggers and link them in your post.
  • Contact them from their blog page and tell them.

Thanks again Deborah of Prayerful Mom for nominating me for a Liebster Awaliebster-award-rules-ird!

And I thank you, dear reader, for visiting my site. I’d love it if you’d leave a comment.

I’d also be very grateful if you’d click the banner below to vote for me. (Only once per 24 hours will count.) It can help my site’s rank at the greatest blog directory ever. Thank you!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Why the Coexist Bumper Stickers Bug Me

October 21, 2014 by ldecesare

Click here to read my latest post on Huffington Post, Healthy Living.

coexist bumper sticker, expecting more than to coexist, loving our neighbors, red car with coexist bumper sticker, coexist foundation, @coexistcampaign

You know the “Coexist” bumper sticker? It bugs me. I think it’s simply setting the bar way too low.

We already live together with people of all different backgrounds, philosophies, theologies, colors of skin, shouldn’t we want more than to simply be able to be in the same space together? In teaching our children about life, the tippy top lesson is really all about LOVE. Love yourself, love your neighbors.

Manners, household chores, siblings, homework, athletics, kindness in the lunchroom or boardroom, driving, waiting in lines, everything in life boils down to love. Simply love. Coexisting isn’t loving, it’s eeking by. It’s occupying space side by side.

To be clear, I have nothing against the Coexist Foundation or their mission and work. There are so many organizations of good in this world, the generosity is breathtaking, I simply argue with the word “coexist” as being weak and diluted.

Words like tolerance come to mind when I see the coexist symbols. Does anyone want to be just tolerated? No. People want to be embraced, cared for, loved. We can do that through words, actions, service, beliefs, gestures, donations, smiles, letters, and more whether across the street or across the globe.

I see it as an issue of open hearts and open minds, welcoming and accepting and cherishing each individual. We’re not going to bond, hit it off, or even like everyone we meet but I live my life and teach our kids to live with kindness, to act with love and respect toward everyone they meet. And everyone they don’t meet. Listen actively to another person’s point of view, experiences, and opinions. Disagree, sure, but do it with respect and compassion.

There is an absolute need to be culturally open and inquisitive. That’s one of the million reasons I love to travel, I get a glimpse into different histories, different ways of life, different values. It intrigues me, empowers me, and makes me more curious and more understanding. We grow when we can stretch beyond our own ways and ideas.

I feel the same way about someone who comes from my hometown, who lives down the street, who goes to my church, who seems to be similar to me. They’re still different. They have their own histories and life stories, their own experiences and pains, struggles, triumphs. Those stories and points of view are valuable and I love to explore and share in them, too.

We’re all different even if we belong to a group with an identified symbol. Yet, who can be defined just by one affiliation or one belief system? Who fits tidily under one label? We all have more facets than the best cut diamond, there’s no knowing without exploring and looking deeper. You can’t do that by just coexisting.

READ MORE on Huffington Post

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2013

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You are the Single Greatest Influence

October 16, 2014 by ldecesare

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

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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5 Ways to Create Happy Memories With Your Kids

October 8, 2014 by ldecesare

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.

Telling your kids they are important is not as powerful as showing them how important they are to you. Saying, “I love you” is not as powerful as making your children feel loved. Be mindful of how you talk to your friends and family about your kids. You never want to let them overhear you talking like they are an inconvenience or a chore.

Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don’t realize what messages they are sending. –Virginia Satir

Be funny!

A sense of humor is your best defense when parenthood gets tough. Laughter is also a strong bonding experience. The more you laugh together, the better and closer your relationship will be. I have found humor an especially important tool in getting my children to listen to me when I have a tough time getting their attention. As you know, kids can get a bit wild. Sometimes it seems like they can’t even hear you telling them for the third time that it’s bath time.

I could scream and yell and threaten, but I find it more effective to do something silly and unexpected. Like stick on a fake mustache. Or start talking in a funny accent and pretend to misunderstand what they say. When kids are laughing, it’s hard for them to be grumpy or disagreeable.

Take the time to truly enjoy your children.

The time you spend playing dinosaurs and Polly Pockets now will pay off when your kids still want to enjoy your company as teenagers. Play with them! Play the things they want to. It was gross when I used to turn over logs for my little boy to see what kind of bugs were underneath, but I did it anyway. When my little girl wanted to pour me a 7th cup of “tea” (or 77th), I pretended to drink it cheerfully.

Plan fun activities and adventures together. Really enjoy your children’s company to create happy memories together. Worry more about that than about trying to capture a picture for Facebook. Don’t view your kids’ childhood only through a camera lens.

Create Special Moments for Bonding.

Bedtime is one of the best opportunities for bonding experiences with your kids. I know you’re frazzled and tired at the end of the day, but when you look back on these years, you want happy memories, not regrets!

I regret not having had more time with my kids when they were growing up.  -Tina Turner

Stagger bedtimes by 15 or 20 minutes if your kids are in separate bedrooms so you can spend time with each one. Always read books together. Sing lullabies to your children. Talk quietly together. As your kids get older, they won’t talk to you as much after school about their day, but they usually will open up more at bedtime.

Eventually my kids got old enough that they begged me to stop singing, which is actually quite funny. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but they begged for my lullabies when they were little. When they got older and wanted to read their own books to themselves, we would all pile into my bed, each of us with our own different book, and still read “together.” Eventually they outgrew that too, but my teenagers still like to hang out with me before bed and talk.

Car rides are the other golden opportunity for talking and bonding. Resist the urge to put an electronic gizmo in your kids’ hands for car rides if possible. Ask about subjects the kids are interested in, and let them talk.

When kids grow up talking to you in the car or at bedtime, they’ll be more likely to continue the familiar practices when they’re older. It’s also easier for teenagers to talk to you on a car ride when you’re looking at the road ahead than at home when you’re looking at them. It’s one of those weird truisms for teens. Take advantage of it. Don’t let opportunities for bonding and making happy memories with your children pass by. One day soon it’ll be too late.

To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today. ― Barbara Johnson

About the Author:
image deborah shelby, prayerful mom, mom bloggerDeborah Shelby is a life and happiness enthusiast, full-time working mom, and writer. She shares ideas and inspiration to help busy moms live a happier and better life on her site Prayerful Mom, soon to be renamed Happier Better Life.

 

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Why Handwriting Helps You Learn

October 3, 2014 by ldecesare

Just this past weekend, before this infographic landed in my inbox, a group of us were talking about the importance of kids learning handwriting and cursive writing. Even with the continually increasing use of keyboards and index finger typing, kids need to learn to read and write with their hands.

I’m happy to share this infographic based on research on the topic of why handwriting helps you learn.

Why Handwriting Helps You Learn

 

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We Shouldn’t Engineer Childhood

September 26, 2014 by ldecesare

engineer childhood, let kids fail, failures and mistakes as parents, let kids be kids© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

September is Menopause Awareness Month

September 22, 2014 by ldecesare

fall leaf, changing leaves, The Change, menopause awareness, perimenopause symptoms, pregnant late in lifeToday is the last day of summer. Perhaps figuratively, too. This week, a piece I wrote appeared on the Huffington Post, 44 and Pregnant?, and it stirred a flurry of comments, emotions, private emails, and lot’s of questions and speculations on my Facebook pages. (No, I’m NOT pregnant!) The punchline, it turns out, is menopause. Fitting that September is Menopause Awareness Month!

So as summer creeps into fall outside, it seems it’s also happening within me. Many women reached out to me saying that they have experienced the same moments of wondering and worrying, dreaming and freaking out, that I talk about in 44 and Pregnant. Did you know that women between 40-44 years old account for the second highest unintended pregnancy rate? It’s shocking to think I’m even in the age category to be talking about the “M” word let alone be experiencing the precursors to “The Change.”

Menopause is medically defined  as cessation of menstruation for one full year, but every woman’s different and our bodies may start seeing a range of symptoms in the decade or so leading up to menopause, called perimenopause. The Menopause Awareness Month site says: “There are 34 different symptoms of menopause. Some physical. Some physiological. Some psychological. All frustrating and debilitating.”

On the list of exciting possible symptoms: mood changes and mood swings (that’s always a joy), joint pains, irregular and erratic periods, insomnia, memory loss, itchy skin, headaches, weight gain, and the ever-so-famous hot flashes …. And have you ever experience night sweats? There’s nothing like waking up slippery and soaking. (If it happened to you after your babies were born, you’ve gotten a peek into the future fun.) Oh, and as an added bonus, with menopause, women’s chances of osteoporosis and heart attack increase.

As a northeasterner my whole life, I’ve always said that I love the four seasons, the changing air, temperatures, colors, and ways of life as the year circles round. So on this, the last day of summer, my optimistic nature also makes me look at perimenopause with a positive lens. What comes next? While the symptoms might be difficult, annoying, and worse, what will life bring as I age? I enjoyed life with three of my four grandparents all of whom lived into their mid-late 90’s. I want to live long and see my grandchildren have children, I want to be a great grandmother, too. I feel very blessed that my own kids knew my grandparents so well.

I watch my mother and women her age, and older, who are so vibrant, active, and who are living life fully and giving much to others and the world around them. The autumn of life brings an easing of the daily tasks that life with children at home and active schedules brings, it affords more leisure, more time to slow down and do things you care about most. That’s a lifestyle I aspire to, and I try to implement those lessons now, instead of waiting for later.

My point is, menopause and perimenopause can be a time we welcome, just as we can celebrate a young woman beginning her menses and all that it means, all the hope and joy it holds. I’m working to embrace this change, this transition, and one day, maybe I’ll even be able to see it as a transformation.

So, happy Menopause Awareness Month! Whether you’re far from this time, still having babies, or if you’re on its doorstep as I am, it’s part of being a woman, it can be empowering if we allow it to be.

Screw the hot flashes and night sweats, here I come, watch out!

Some resources:

Hormone Health Awareness

Menopause.org

Menopause Awareness Month – official site

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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44 and Pregnant?

September 19, 2014 by ldecesare

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.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Delight in the Journey

September 15, 2014 by ldecesare

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

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Show the Love for Mother’s Circle

September 5, 2014 by ldecesare

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Hi, Mother’s Circle Readers, thank you for your loyal readership. I have a few favors to ask of you to show the love. If you would please consider clicking, sharing, following, liking, pinning … I would be so grateful!

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

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

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

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

Here’s how you can show the love:

1. Subscribe

If you don’t already receive new Mother’s Circle posts into your inbox, please subscribe by adding your email in the box in the sidebar. You’ll get an email whenever I publish a new post. You can see how frequently, or infrequently, I post. I try to post at least once a week but sometimes I have a short lull, other times I have a burst! :-) Depends on what’s happening in life – you get that, I know!

2. Follow Me on Pinterest

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So I’m not a huge Tweeter or even much of a Facebooker – I could spend more time on either – but I LOVE Pinterest! It’s seriously my social media of choice.

I would love to have you follow me on Pinterest and go ahead, pin and re-pin! You can click here or use the Pinterest logo in the sidebar and the Pinterest share buttons on the bottom of each post to pin things.

 

3. Like Mother’s Circle on Facebook

If you haven’t already liked Mother’s Circle (and Naked Parenting) on Facebook, your likes matter! You can click right from the sidebar (I try to make it easy!) Invite your friends to like Mother’s Circle, too!

4. Share

Thank you for sharing Mother’s Circle posts via the share buttons on the bottom of each post. You can also share posts on Facebook directly from the Mother’s Circle or Naked Parenting Facebook pages. Shares help! My recent post, Why you should fart in front of your husband, within 36 hours of it being live on FamilyShare,  had over 3400 shares from the FamilyShare post and over 3400 shares on Facebook – and 4600+ likes on Facebook. This post has had a crazy amount of views, within 36 hours, almost 100,000 views! Sharing posts matters – especially if “fart” is in the title, apparently! (Update: Now this post has over 123,700 views and over 10,800 shares!)

5. Top Mommy Blogstop mommy blogs, mommy blogs, RI blogs, vote for blogs, blog directory,

Mother’s Circle used to be on page one of this immense mommy blog directory; I was number seven for awhile but have since fallen to page three. You can help by clicking on the Top Mommy Blogs image at the end of my posts or in the side bar. You’re allowed one vote every 24 hours, so even if you click just once a week or once in a while, it helps! You just have to click, it will take you to the home page, and once it loads the page, that’s a vote. No need to do any more.

Thanks for your votes for Mother’s Circle and helping to bring us back to page one!

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I truly appreciate you taking an extra moment in your packed-full day to show the love for Mother’s Circle! Thanks for a click and a share now and then! You rock!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Why You Should Tell Your Kids Their Artwork Stinks

September 2, 2014 by ldecesare

praising kids, how to praise kids, giving specific praise
Sounds awful, right?

Read my latest post on FamilyShare,  Why You Should Tell Your Kids Their Artwork Stinks to learn why I wouldn’t quite say it that way, but why I won’t give hollow praise, either.

Do you ooh and aah at every scribble and pencil mark? Here are some practical tips on how to best praise children and on organizing their artwork. Children sense insincerity and feel really proud when they know they’ve earned your praise.

Okay, I know. Telling your kids their artwork stinks sounds horrible. I wouldn’t quite say it like that, and I would keep in mind how young the kids are. But if you “ooh” and “aah” at every scribble, pencil mark or blobbed together Play-Doh sculpture, this is for you.

If you find yourself telling your child that every piece of artwork is wonderful, ask yourself if you may be saying, “That is so pretty,” without really thinking or paying attention. Sometimes praising kids, how to praise kids, kids artwork, we say something just to acknowledge a child who’s madly chanting, “Look, Mommy, look! LOOK!” Yes, it is easy to just stop the crazy with a quick compliment, but piling on hollow words is exactly that: hollow. Instead, I believe in being truthful with our children.

I find that when complimenting a child, it’s important to be specific and comment on things they have the control to improve. The details in praise let kids know we’re really paying attention. It gives them a glimpse of themselves from a parent’s point of view. In my work with new parents, I’ve experienced that throwing around the “good jobs” doesn’t work to improve kids’ self-esteem in the way so many parents imagine that it would. Sure, it’s important to notice the good things our kids do, and telling them does build their confidence, but how we do it matters. Broad brush strokes of “that’s wonderful” don’t do the trick.

Click here to read more.

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Keeping Your Child Safe From Cyberbullying

September 1, 2014 by ldecesare

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.
Protecting Your Child From Cyberbullying

 

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Giving Kids Our Undivided Attention

August 28, 2014 by ldecesare

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Why You Should Fart in Front of Your Husband

August 26, 2014 by ldecesare

  Why you should fart in front of your husband, farting in marriage, farting in relationships, passing gas, flatulence in marriage
Yup, I did it. I wrote about farting.

I think you’ll enjoy this post on FamilyShare about Why You Should Fart in Front of Your Husband. (They’ve changed the title, but I’m sticking to my original headline!)

Even if you don’t agree with me, I think you’ll get a laugh. (Tell me farting isn’t funny!)

Clearly a popular topic, it was posted yesterday at 3:00 pm EST and by midnight it already had over 32,000 views. This morning it’s pushing 60,000 views as I post this.

I would love to hear your comments and stories once you’ve read it! Comment here or on FamilyShare.com, I’ll see them!

Click here to read the post on FamilyShare.

 

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Naked Parenting Offers Tools for the Journey

August 25, 2014 by ldecesare

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 by ldecesare

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

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6 Birthday Ideas for Teen Girls

August 20, 2014 by ldecesare

teens birthdays, half birthday, cooking party, camping party, balloons in skyI am proud to be a contributor on FamilyShare.

Please click to read my article, 6 Birthday Ideas for Teen Girls.

Once the pink frills and princess themes are outgrown, how can you make a teen girl’s birthday special? Much of her enjoyment comes as she plans her party herself, down to the littlest details, so ask your daughter how she wants to celebrate and get her involved. My oldest daughter loves planning her birthdays. She even likes to bake and decorate her own cake with gobs of colors, swirls and sprinkles.

Read More

10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism

August 19, 2014 by ldecesare

10 tips to teach kids, volunteerism, teaching kids to serve, serving and giving, teaching kids to appreciate what they haveI love this post and have been wanting to write about service and volunteerism for awhile now (I’m even thinking this may be my next Naked Parenting topic. You can vote here.) It’s so important to teach our kids perspective, giving, and gratitude in our world of plenty.

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.

  1. Make volunteering a family tradition, perhaps serving meals at a community kitchen every Easter or collecting cans for the food pantry every fall. Our town has a monthly dinner at which we volunteer regularly. The kids feel a pride in knowing what to do now and they return home with hungry bellies after working through dinnertime, but they don’t complain anymore as they’ve learned that those they just served may not know when their next meal will be.
  1. Host a touring group from another country. Often through churches or schools you can find groups that travel and look for local families to house them for a few days or a week. These opportunities to connect with kids of other cultures and to learn about varied life circumstances can be invaluable. We’ve hosted children from Uganda as part of the Destiny Africa Children’s Choir (www.destinyafrica.org) and that involvement led us to spearhead a major fundraising effort to build their community a much-needed medical center (see #8). (www.KampalaHope.org).
  1. Grab a few garbage bags and take a clean-up walk. We’ve done this in different ways with our kids: in our neighborhood, on woodsy hikes and as a part of organized efforts to clean the state parks. Cleaning up without recognition or reward teaches kids good citizenship.
  1. Have kids make donations with their own money. As kids get old enough to earn money from odd jobs or an allowance, encourage them to set aside money to give to causes they believe in. Perhaps its the local animal shelter or a camp that helps disabled children. Teach kids to allocate their money three ways: saving, spending and giving so they learn the importance of giving a portion away.
  1. Get involved with a literacy group such as Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and collect books and read to children. Activities that get you and your children face-to-face with those you’re serving are so important and valuable. Children can relate to other children and it makes the lesson of giving more concrete for them.
  1. Only if it’s truly the child’s decision and desire, allow them to request donations for a charity in lieu of birthday gifts. I’m always a little leery of this if it’s a parent’s influence but when it’s the child’s wish, it can be very effective. Recently, one of my daughter’s friends accepted donations for Heifer International for her 10th birthday and she was so excited selecting the animals she was able to donate to those in need. She was able to change lives in a way she can’t even fully grasp but will feel proud of for years.
  1. Participate in “Giving Trees” at Christmastime. Opportunities to give and teach service to children abound around the holidays. Allow your children to select the child or family they want to support, then take them shopping to choose the toy or item the anonymous child requested. If you have several children, you can have them each pick a tag from the tree. Again, if older kids have their own money, having them make the purchase, or part of the purchase, adds to their learning.
  1. When your child’s school has a fundraising campaign for a cause or to help a local family in need, have your child bring money from their own piggy bank. It’s exponentially more valuable than bringing in a parent’s money. The amount isn’t what’s important, it’s the giving of something that is their’s that matters most. When our daughter’s school chose the Kampala Childrens’ Centre for Hope and Wellness (the medical center in Uganda we were working to build) as the recipient of their “Change for Change” drive, kids were baking cupcakes to sell and donating the proceeds, other kids made jewelry to raise money to donate and many students brought in baggies of coins to add to the collection. These kids had seen the Destiny Africa Choir perform in their school and were so inspired that they rallied to contribute. In the end, that school raised $2000.00 alone.
  1. Have your older child volunteer at a local shelter, food pantry or nursing home. The consistency of building relationships and a connection to something that matters to them over time will teach empathy, caring and will have lasting value.
  1. Participate in larger service-oriented trips and activities. Annually, our church youth group travels to an impoverished area in South Carolina where they give up their school vacation to repair and rebuild homes for those in great need. These high schoolers return home changed and wizened from the experience. Seek out other service activities, such as participation in World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine teaching kids about world hunger issues, can be powerful for tweens and teens.

Thank you, Mother’s Circle readers, for your support, your sharing, your votes on Top Mommy Blogs, and your kind emails and comments! Thank you for clicking on the image below to vote!

Enjoy volunteering with your kids!

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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This post originally appeared as a guest post on Happier Better Life, Deborah has since stopped blogging so the full post is here. Check out my 10 Tips to Teach Kids About Volunteerism.

Naked Parenting On Sale This Week

August 18, 2014 by ldecesare

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 – and join me this Tuesday (tomorrow) for a webinar on Naked Parenting.

Click here to get Naked Parenting on sale.

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

 

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Naked Parenting Webinar

August 17, 2014 by ldecesare

Naked Parenting logo, Naked Parenting book, parenting tips, teen parent help, toddler parent helpJoin me for a Naked Parenting webinar on August 19, 9:00 – 10:00 PM EDT

I’ll present the 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence and answer participant questions. You’ll leave the webinar with practical tips you can start using right away.

 

Register now and feel free to invite your friends:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/354589086

Naked Parenting is parenting stripped down to the bare basics to focus on seven keys to raising kids who are self-sufficient, confident, respectful, and resilient. In this session, we’ll discuss these seven keys:  love, honesty, communication, responsibility, discipline, mistakes and gratitude.

Naked Parenting approaches parenting in an honest, direct and realistic way. Guiding children with love, nurturing their strengths and self image, and instilling personal responsibility are at the heart of this approach.

Title:
Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence
Date:
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Time:
9:00 PM – 10:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Naked Parenting Webinar.

Kappa Kappa Gamma’s Lifestyle Learning webinar series is open to the public. You are encouraged to share this Kappa-sponsored learning opportunity by forwarding the invitation to others who may be interested. Thank you.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

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Naked Parenting on Benjamin Dancer’s Blog

August 12, 2014 by ldecesare

Click here to read about Naked Parenting on Benjamin Dancer’s Blog.

Benjamin Dancer wrote a guest post on Sexting at School for Mother’s Circle and is an author, his newest book is Partriach Run.

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Naked Parenting on the Patch

August 12, 2014 by ldecesare

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 by ldecesare

tattling or telling, more than mommy, mostly together mommy, guest post Leah DeCesare, 2 questions,

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!

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© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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The Day of Big Parenting Talks

July 23, 2014 by ldecesare

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!

A few of today’s big parenting talks revolved around Michael who really wanted to go out on a power boat with two other 13 year old boys and no adults. Um, nope. I wasn’t comfortable with that and gave him a, “no” answer which, of course, made him unhappy. He was disappointed, I wasn’t budging, but felt his disappointment. He tried a bunch of tactics, to his credit some were quite creative, but my answer was still a negative, and with me, you’ll never get anywhere with begging, however clever the form.

We talked about safety and choices, among other things. He was so focused on missing out and not getting what he wanted that it dissolved into some snippy talk to me which led to him lose a privilege. Told you, tough day.

As he biked home, he was in a state of upset and even welled up with tears. And here comes my mommy-win moment, ready? It’s not even monumental but it worked! I calmly (that always makes the biggest difference) told him to, on his ride home, think about what he could have done differently, not to think about the wrongs he thought were done to him, and I left him alone, sulking and peddling away.

When he got home, he was calm and we had another big talk, one that he heard with a more open mind. He was able to express his emotions and verbalize his wrong-doings, he was able to recognize possible safety issues. He even told me that when he left the beach he was thinking he was having “the worst summer ever,” but while biking home, he thought about all the really fun times he’s had this summer. How proud I was that he was able to put things into perspective and find appreciation and gratitude from within an emotionally charged afternoon.

This thing called parenting is not easy. It’s not meant to be, we’re guiding young lives and teaching them responsibility, self-sufficiency and how to love and care for themselves. Taking the time and energy to be consistent, to stand by your family values, to come up with creative solutions, and to repeat things endlessly, all adds up and it’s worth it.

So if you feel beaten up – and beaten down – be kind to yourself. Take time for yourself in your days. Smile and pat yourself on the back. It’s often helpful to seek out new ideas, suggestions, and fresh ways to look at a parenting situation. Talk to trusted friends and family, read blogs and books and be open to other ways of trying things as a parent.

It takes boundless creative energy to parent, find things that encourage you and give you tools to help along the way. My hope is that you will find those things in my new book, Naked Parenting.

What kinds of big parenting talks have you had recently?

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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What is 20 Years?

July 16, 2014 by ldecesare

what is 20 years?, 20 year anniversary, platinum anniversary, china for 20th anniversary, symbol for 20th anniversary20 years is to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. It’s needing notes to remember the words, a congregation of friends chuckling.

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

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

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

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

20 years is a baby boy, the first in a generation, smiley and sweet. The gift of a brother for his sister. It is outdoor wedding photo, wedding 1994, wedding photography,saying goodbye to our first house and moving over the river. The house of dreams, a front porch covered in vines, that we filled with infinite love.

20 years is birthday parties and christenings, first days of school and scraped-up knees. It’s toddlers and tea parties, Play-Doh and sledding, bicycles and finger paints. It’s welcoming an 8-year old Little Sister and making our son a big brother with a water baby blessing our lives. Our family complete.

20 years is moving once more to honor our values, to live what we believed. It’s family dinners and home movies, it’s being there, planting gardens, building tree forts, and continuing traditions. Shorelines and friendships, school days and camping trips, first bus rides and kids growing big.

20 years is teamwork and connecting as partners and best friends. It’s talking and debating, deciding and dreaming, hoping and laughing. It’s holding hands, rubbing shoulders, nudging snores, and dancing slowly. It’s silly jokes, knowing glances, being understood. It is freedom to be who we are, authentic, whole, and safe.

20 years is a gift. A blessing, a treasure. It is at once a forever and a beginning.

My heart is yours. You always have been, and always will be, my true companion, my soulmate, my knight in shining armor, my Mr. Right, my perfect steak knife.

I love you. I live you.

Happy 20th Anniversary, My Love.

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

20 years ago, engagement photo, young couple, 20 year anniversary, hello summer party, orange shirt, happy 20th anniversary

Prince George’s First Birthday

July 16, 2014 by ldecesare

prince george effect, prince geoge birthday, when is Prince George's birthday, cupcake with crown, birthday crown cupcakeSo, I’m not much of a royal-watcher, but years ago, I lived in London for four months and, because of that, I have a love of England. As Prince George’s first birthday approaches, I’m thinking of my time there.

My flatmates and I would explore Hyde Park, shop at Boots, and poke around Portobello Market on weekends. Once, after I’d heard words almost exclusively in a British accent for months, I came home and in all seriousness, reported that I’d heard a lot of foreign languages that day, which wouldn’t be odd except that I was talking about American English!

While in England, I loved walking to school from my flat, remembering to LOOK LEFT before stepping off a curb, and “minding the gap” before hopping onto the Tube. I loved going to the theater, local attractions and taking side trips around the English countryside. We even once spotted Princess Diana taking her boys to school. It crossed my mind then, how difficult parenting as a royal would be, but as a mom, I feel it even more acutely now, watching Kate and her young prince.

Yup, I really loved my time there and my visits to London and England since. While there, I was immersed in the castles, the history, and even the Royal Family; it really can’t be avoided. Decades since, and a mom three times over, I both chuckle and sadden at the attention George and his parents receive. Parenting is tough: tantrums in the market, meltdowns at restaurants, bickering siblings waiting in line at the bank. Can you even imagine doing all that on a global stage? Sure George is only one year old, but we parents all know what’s coming.

Little George is even already setting trends as the small “Pre-King.” Have you heard about the George Effect and how items that look like whatever he wears are selling out by the droves and shutting down websites? I wonder what the wardrobe will be for Prince George’s first birthday celebration. No doubt we’ll see it in stores and catalogs before he’s even done celebrating on July 22nd.

To honor a very royal summer, 888ladies is celebrating with their online bingo game about the royal family. This July 22nd, on Prince George’s first birthday, this online bingo jackpot is seriously royal so players can celebrate, too.

Happy First Birthday, Prince George!

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

This is a sponsored post. All opinions and statements are my own.

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3 Playground Rules for Parents – Guest Post

July 11, 2014 by ldecesare

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!
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Naked Parenting Book Trailer

July 10, 2014 by ldecesare

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!

 

 

naked parenting book trailer, naked belly, belly button,

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Naked Parenting – New Parenting Book from Mother’s Circle

July 9, 2014 by ldecesare

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

“Leah is such a gifted writer, woman, mother and more! . . . I am truly inspired by her wealth of wisdom and knowledge . . . this book will touch and inspire parents to not only enjoy parenting, but to embrace all it has to offer for themselves and their children . . . Naked Parenting offers a nonjudgmental, open-minded approach to parenting . . .”
– Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Co-Author, Creator and Director, Orgasmic Birth, and Chair, International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization (IMBCO), debrapascalibonaro.com

“As an author and an educator whose focus has always been on helping children to maximize their potential, I highly recommend Leah DeCesare’s Naked Parenting  . . . use of her recommended strategies and knowledge of the principles upon which they are based are practical and effective tools for all parents who want to raise their children to be successful and fulfilled.”
– Carol Cooke, author of America’s Answer to the Tiger Mother

“Naked Parenting is a fantastic resource for parents with children of any age. Leah provides a transparent and honest lens on parenting with beneficial and practical advice. An engaging read!”
– Dr. Claire Nicogossian, Clinical Psychologist, momswellbeing.com

“A parents go-to peace book for creating a positive, happy and nurturing environment while raising responsible, respectful, and productive children. A practical guide for all parents who know they’re not perfect!”
– Kara Ratigan, Elementary School Teacher

 

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Song Lyrics for the 4th of July

July 4, 2014 by ldecesare

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your friends, family, parties and picnics today, and take a moment to remember what it’s all about.

Here are some of my favorite song lyrics for the 4th of July.

I thank god for my life
And for the stars and stripes
May freedom forever fly, let it ring.
Salute the ones who died
The ones that give their lives
So we don’t have to sacrifice
All the things we love

Zac Brown Band, Chicken Fried

If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.

Lee Greenwood, Proud to be an American

He’s got the red, white, and blue flyin’ high on the farm
Semper fi tattooed on his left arm
Spends a little more at the store for a tag in the back that says u.s.a.
Won’t buy nothin’ that he can’t fix,
With wd40 and a craftsman wrench
He ain’t prejudice he’s just, made in America

His wife, she’s that wife that decorates on the 4th of July
But says “every day’s independence day”
She’s golden rule, teaches school,
Some folks say it isn’t cool but she says the Pledge of Allegiance anyway.

Toby Keith, Made in America

Drivin’ down the street today I saw a sign for lemonade
They were the cutest kids I’d ever seen in this front yard
As they handed me my glass, smilin’ thinkin’ to myself
Man, what a picture-perfect postcard this would make of America

It’s a high school prom, it’s a Springsteen song, it’s a ride in a Chevrolet
It’s a man on the moon and fireflies in June and kids sellin’ lemonade
It’s cities and farms, it’s open arms, one nation under God
It’s America.

Rodney Atkins, It’s America

Grateful to be an American!

Thank you, always, to our US Troops all over the world!

Happy 4th of July!

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

June 23, 2014 by ldecesare

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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.

I also think these tips are applicable and great to keep in mind for helping a friend who is sick herself.

 

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

Guest Post by Kerry Sheeran

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.

Don’t tell them about someone else you know with a similar saga.  Such stories can’t possibly help to alleviate your friend’s sadness or stress.  Just open your ears and hear what they have to say.

A good listener is always genuinely appreciated.

8.  ASK BEFORE YOU VISIT:

Always check with your friend before “surprising” their child with a visit.  Whether it’s at the hospital or their home, it may or may not be exactly what the doctor ordered.  Sometimes visitors can brighten an otherwise dreary day.  It can be the happy distraction that a friend or child needs.  But other times it may do more harm then good.  Timing is everything  – so be sure your visit is at a time that works for everyone.  Often tests or surgery can wear a patient out, making sleep their #1 priority.

Make sure you’re coming on a day he or she is up for visiting.  And 30 – 40 minutes is more than sufficient.  Also, ONLY visit if you are in good health.  The last thing a compromised immune system needs is another virus to fight off.  Your germs aren’t welcome in the company of a child who is trying to recover, so leave them and yourself at home until you are better.  The child’s health is ALWAYS more important than a visitor “showing face.” Be sure to weigh what is best for the parents and child before executing your travel plans.

7.  FOOD IS LOVE:

Who doesn’t love a home-cooked meal? Not many people, that’s who. Unless you are told otherwise, fire up your stove-tops and throw some cookies in the oven. Everyone needs to eat. But nobody has time to cook when they are helping their child through an illness and/or hospital stay. And, by the way – in case you’ve never heard:  HOSPITAL FOOD STINKS. There, I said it. It may be tolerable for a few days, but once you hit the week-mark – it all starts tasting the same.

Cooking for your friend (or even their child) is a wonderful way to show how much you care. It does, however, require some coordination with other friends. Start a “food chain” and space out food deliveries so that your friend isn’t getting bombarded with three meals in one night, and none for seven days straight. Talk amongst yourselves when it comes to the menu. Elect one person to be the point person to run questions by regarding food allergies and delivery times.  Don’t ask your friend questions like: “What would you like me to make you?” Again, that’s putting them in the position of asking a favor of you. Coordinate with the point-person and pour your heart into your meal. Your “eaters” will taste your support and dedication in every delicious bite.

6.  HELP THEM TO ADVOCATE FOR THEIR CHILD:

Patient Advocacy is an extremely important role for any parent with a child in crisis.  It requires questions, research, lots of notes and a clear grasp of the medical situation at hand. The problem is, many times a parent can become debilitated by their own emotions, thereby leaving facts, figures and health records on the back burner.

Suggest they bring a notebook to every appointment or ask them if they’d like your assistance.  Maybe you could be a note-taker for them? Perhaps you are a doctor, nurse – or just a very organized friend with a knack for details. Offer to put together a binder with sections labeled: Calendar, Hospital Records, Diagnoses, Questions, Medications, Research and Treatments. Jot down a list of questions for them to ask their childs’s physicians or nurses, and mark important dates on their calendar.

Be their brains, temporarily, and get them on track for success with their child’s care, while being sure to respect boundaries and maintain privacy.  It’s one of the best gifts you can give a friend whose mind is probably spinning out of control as it is.

5.  KEEP THEIR OTHER KIDS OCCUPIED AND HAPPY:

Part of the stress of having a sick child to care for is a parent’s inability to give their focus and attention to their other children.  The physical and emotional distance from their “healthy” children, while unavoidable, can invite emotions of guilt and sadness from the parents, and jealousy and resentment from the kids.  Help lighten this additional burden on your friend by stepping up and using the art of distraction with their offspring.

If your family is going bowling, invite your friends’ kids along. Set up play-time or sleep-overs. Make them feel special and loved. Talk to them. Ask them how they are doing. As stressful as it may be for your friend, this is a child’s sibling who is sick. It’s just as scary – if not more – for a young one to witness their brother or sister in failing health. Couple that with absent parents, and a kid can feel downright sad. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and offer to bring them to visit their sick sibling whenever they can. Feed them, hug them and tie their shoes. Be a “stand-in” mom or dad.  Your friend will appreciate this kind of help more then you could ever know.

4.  KEEP YOUR ANXIETY TO YOURSELF:

mom with baby in NICU, sick baby, sick baby with mom, helping friends when they have a sick baby, helping when baby in NICU, how to help family with ill baby, Repeat after me:  It’s not about YOU.  Don’t say things like: “I don’t know how you’re holding it together…I’d be a total mess!” or “I’m so worried about you, this is too much to take!” or “I feel helpless.” It’s hard enough for your friend to manage his or her own worries and fears. It’s not fair to pile yours on top of them.

Be a positive force, while staying realistic about the child’s condition. It’s not a good idea to suggest things like: “Everything’s going to be fine,” or “God only gives you as much as you can handle.” The simple fact is that your friend will be forced to handle whatever comes his or her way.  The alternative would be crawling up into a ball and hiding from their worst fears – and that is precisely what you should be trying to steer them away from doing.

Encourage your friend to stay strong and take care of him/herself.  It’s your job to hold them up when they feel weak. A sick child will benefit in many ways from a parent who is keeping it together.

3.  SEND GIFT CARDS THAT PAY FOR COFFEE, GAS OR PARKING:

Flowers and balloons are a nice gesture, but a lot of hospitals don’t encourage either (because of latex and pollen allergies).  Maybe this is my über-practical side talking (I’ve been guilty of worse), but if you really want to brighten your friend’s day, pick up the tab for a day of parking, gas or coffee.  The daily expenses associated with having a child in the hospital can really add up.  Hospital bills alone can send some families into a lifetime of debt. Treating your friend to something as simple as a cup of coffee sends the message that you understand their burdens and wish for them to have some relief – if only for a few minutes.  It’s a thoughtful little gesture that shows you are thinking about them.

2.  KEEP THEIR CHILD IN YOUR PRAYERS:

It’s a simple thing that means so much.  Do not dismiss the almighty effect of positive thoughts, good vibes and prayers.  It’s the least (and, perhaps, the most) you can do for your friend and their child.

1. REACH OUT WITH THOUGHTFUL PHONE CALLS, EMAILS AND CARDS:

Don’t ever assume you are bothering someone by letting them know how much you care for them and their child. They may not be able to return your calls or write back (and DON’T take it personally if they don’t) – but they will feel your love and support in every word you write or speak.  If they can answer the phone, they will. Some people like to talk and some do not. This is their decision to make.

Whether your friend is Kerry Sheeran image, headshot Kerry Sheeran, The Marathon author, photo of Kerry Sheeran, photo of Marathon authorholding vigil at their child’s hospital bed, or care-giving at home, they are most likely extremely overwhelmed with responsibility. Give your friend a pass on social etiquette and simply know that your thoughtfulness is appreciated.  I’ve never met one parent who has said: “Gee, I’m so glad nobody called or wrote while my kid was in intensive care.”

Never EVER underestimate the power of love and compassion.

About the Author:

Kerry Sheeran, author of The Marathon, a gut-wrenching memoir based on the gripping ride of a mother and father forced to seek answers to life’s biggest questions as their child fights to survive.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book benefits prenatal and neonatal research and care at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Available on Amazon.com and in local stores.  For more information visit www.kerrysheeran.com.

Find Kerry on Twitter: @kerrysheeran6
Find Kerry on Facebook
Find The Marathon on Goodreads

©Kerry Sheeran 2014, Ocean State Press

 

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8 Parenting Lessons from Frozen

June 17, 2014 by ldecesare

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 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. They 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 line of 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.

As parents, we need to nurture, support, and encourage kindness and caring among siblings. Take them to each others’ ball games, concerts, tennis matches, and don’t allow cruelty or meanness. Sure they will be angry with each other at times, but as parents, it’s all about how we coach them in expressing that frustration, how we ask them to talk about it face-to-face, how we create the space for them to really hear the other siblings point of view.

Teach your kiddos to stick up for one another, to respect the space, belongings, and opinions of the others. They’ll still bicker and argue, as siblings do, but they’ll build friendships that are deep. Seeing our kids being wonderful and loving together is one of the greatest rewards as a mom!

3. Be honest and foster open communication.

In Naked Parenting, two of my key principles are Naked Honesty and Naked Communication. KEY to parenting with confidence and raising kids who are resilient and respectful.drawing of Sven, reindeer from Frozen, tips from Frozen, tips for parents, how to raise confident kids, Frozen characters

If Elsa and Anna’s parents had been open and honest with Anna and had allowed Elsa to be honest about who she was, well, there would be no story, but besides that plot point, they would’ve raised more stable, happy, and well-adjusted kids. By teaching her to hide and be secretive, even within their family, their parents’ actions hurt everyone.

Along with honesty in your speech and actions, families need honesty in their communication. If you have a problem talk about it. Everyone has different ways to cope with the situations in life, every family will guide their children differently, but talk about it. Even young children can understand so much, and setting a family culture of open communication at the outset will serve you well as kids grow older. I’m so proud and grateful that our kids, even as teens, really still talk to us and come to Nick and I with their problems.

4. Help kids accept and embrace differences.

Encourage kids to accept others, no matter how unlike ourselves they are. We are all different, unique individuals and that’s a beautiful thing in life. Anna opens up easily to, well, to both guys she meets, but she was equally as comfortable with Kristoff as she was with Hans, as kind in the uncertain meeting of the trolls as she was with familiar Olaf. We all have strengths and weaknesses and, without being dishonest, we can re-frame things for our children and  help them see themselves positively no matter what their excel at or struggle with.

5. Teach personal responsibility.

Naked Responsibility is another key in Naked Parenting and a huge component in raising kids with confidence. It bugs me that Elsa doesn’t take personal responsibility for her actions. She dismisses it and tries to turn her back on the consequences of her rage, “The cold never bothered me anyway,” she sings. How selfish!

I am big on spelling it out for our kids when they’re not taking responsibility for their actions in any situation. From an early age, kids need to understand the connection between their actions and the outcomes.

6. Be able to laugh at yourself.

trolls from Frozen, what do the trolls from Frozen represent, unconditional love in parenting, unconditional love in Frozen, drawing of trolls, Kids who learn not to take themselves too seriously, kids who can laugh at themselves will fare well in life. Do you set this example? Can you take a joke or a jab? Olaf represents humor in times of trouble. He represents so much more, too, innocence, childhood joy, youth. All things that are important to remember as adults, all things valuable to see and treasure in our kids. Let them be kids, let them be playful and jolly and silly and join them!

7. People aren’t always who they say they are.

So this is a tough lesson, but kids somehow sense it and can learn it younger than you might imagine. Just this week, our youngest was telling me about the inconsistencies she recognizes with what friends say they believe and how they act.

And as a parenting lesson for teens – well, this one is loaded! Navigating friendships and high school group chats, who’s posturing for the boys (or girls) and who’s being sincere, and PLEASE don’t jump in when you barely know the guy! He could be the bad guy! (I’m also working on a big rewrite of my debut novel, working title, The Fork Book, and Hans is the definition of a fork!)

8. Sometimes the enemy is yourself.

So this one, I blame on the girls’ parents to start. The King and Queen should’ve been accepting of their daughter for who she was (see lesson #1), instead they taught her to close herself off and “conceal, don’t reveal.”

Elsa was her own enemy. She kept herself inside and didn’t trust herself which led her to not trust anyone else. Now this is hard to teach! We see the stubborn toddler digging in his heels and making everything worse for himself, we see the teen talking back and losing privileges or avoiding a chore only to earn extra ones as a result.

New and unpredictable feelings, like in puberty, can be scary and leave adolescents feeling uncertain and confused. Trying to see the driving force behind tween and teens actions, without giving them a pass for rudeness or disrespect, can allow parents to respond with empathy, compassion and in a productive instead of destructive way.

Share with us.

What parenting lessons from Frozen do you see?

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Sexting at School

June 10, 2014 by ldecesare

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.

Take an adolescent boy with an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, which by definition means he is incapable of fully contemplating notions such as consequence; take this teenager raging with sex hormones and give him a tiny device that he will carry with him everywhere, a device capable of sending messages instantly to anybody, anywhere in the world and install a camera in that device. What do you imagine might go wrong?

When you and I were teenagers, we were no less reckless, no less idiotic with our choices, no less eager to use our bodies as grownups. The difference is that our stupidity has been forgotten by history. Back then they didn’t have a massive network of servers positioned strategically across the globe to capture and record, forever, the embarrassment of our adolescent choices.

Over the last seventeen years in my work of mentoring adolescents and partnering with their parents, I’ve seen a lot of parenting styles. I’ve learned some important strategies in dealing with the situations teenagers present–strategies the average parent doesn’t have the time, through repetition, to learn. I feel confident telling you that there are some really good ideas out there. And some really bad ones, too.

Because I’m a writer, it occurred to me to write it down, what I’ve learned over the years. I’m a parent. I know it just as well as you do: we need a little grace in our lives.

Being a mother in the age of smartphones can be an unsettling experience. My article-length ebook, SEXTING AT SCHOOL, is about a teenage girl who got in trouble with the law for sexting at school. The ordeal precipitated an identity crisis for the mother, through which she learned to trust herself and to guide her daughter.

The story I tell is a composite of a dozen mothers and a dozen daughters I’ve work with over the years. After the story is told, I analyze it–elucidating what I believe to be the important parenting considerations.

Here’s the bottom line: you and I are human beings. The behavior of our kids confronts us with ourselves. So the first step, I think, in being a parent is to be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself so that you can teach your kids to be kind to themselves. Such a simple task can be so much more difficult than it sounds.

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Excerpt from SEXTING AT SCHOOL:
“The police called it child pornography. So I understood Nicole’s concern: she wanted to talk to me about her daughter. Jessica was fourteen and three years younger than her boyfriend. He had been distributing images of Jessica through his phone. Nicole was worried; she was scared, and understandably so. Jessica still thought she was in love.”

SEXTING AT SCHOOL is a FREE download at Goodreads.com
Or if you’re feeling generous, you can buy it for $0.99 at Amazon.com

About Benjamin Dancer:
benjamin dancer, author benjamin dancer, counselor Benjamin Dancer, PATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN, FIDELITYBenjamin is a high school counselor at Jefferson County Open School where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. He wrote the novels PATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN and FIDELITY. He also writes about parenting and education. You can learn more at BenjaminDancer.com
Benjamin Dancer on Facebook
Twitter @BenjaminDancer1

Baby Names

May 15, 2014 by ldecesare

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 more weighty! There’s so much to consider when choosing baby names and middle names and twin names …

There are thoughts of giving your child a name that sounds good out loud, that looks pretty written, that works with your last name, that is individual or classic or meaningful. And then there’s always selecting a 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.

I hope this new tool helps you find the perfect name for your little one!

 

Love Thy Body – Agroterra Photography

May 13, 2014 by ldecesare

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how my piece begins:

I have a what feels like a confession, but I have no apologies. I love me. I love who I am: my spirit, my mind, my heart, and yes, I love my body. Loving my body is like a guarded secret, something that seems unacceptable to admit. It’s not that I don’t see my body’s flaws, lumps and wrinkles, it’s that I embrace them and accept me wholly. Today, I give voice to the joy my body brings me; no hiding that I’m happy with who I am inside and out.

So I bare myself for you. Please read my Love Thy Body essay then come back here and leave a comment to let me know what you think!

Here’s the link to the post on Agroterra Photography.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Regrowing Lettuce – Fun Activity for Kids

April 30, 2014 by ldecesare

grow lettuce from lettuce, science project for kids, romain lettuce, using stump of lettuceA month ago, at my friend’s house, she had a row of Romain lettuce stubs floating in glasses of water on her window sill. Puzzled, she explained to me that she was regrowing lettuce.

She’d learned about it from this post about thirteen different vegetables that regrow themselves. I was intrigued and introduced this new fun activity for the kids.

I used the short tea cups (who uses those little things?) that came with an old set of dishes. We put the cut off stumps of Romain lettuce filled with about 1/2 – 2/3 water and changed the water ever two or three days.

We started to see the lettuce sprout with tiny fresh green the very next day! We were amazed that we were actually regrowing lettuce! All three kids found something to love about it,  Ali wanted to show her high school biology teacher and carted off some Romain stubs to school. (I’m not sure they made to the classroom, but her interest was there!)

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Then after another few days we saw more growth.

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At the same time, we also planted one stump into a pot of dirt since the article said the leaves would grow bigger in dirt. Sure enough, they really did grow fuller. I plan to start putting them right into my garden from spring until it’s too hot in early summer.

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Finally, after regrowing lettuce from about five ends, with a few of them having formed stems up the center, we picked our crop.

As we put the leaves into the bowl, they smelled bitter to me and I thought, “Well, it was a fun science experiment but these aren’t going to taste good.” The harvest was small but a bright, healthy green; that night, instead of individual salad bowls, we passed the serving dish and each took a few bites.

Surprisingly, despite the smell, our regrown lettuce tasted delicious! Not at all bitter, but fresh and tender.

So on we grow and regrow. Now we’ll have to experiment with other ends of lettuces.

Try regrowing lettuce and tell me your results.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Nurturing Beginnings by Debra Pascali-Bonaro

April 22, 2014 by ldecesare

Nurturing Beginnings cover, baby with wings, doula guide, books for doulas, Debra Pascali-Bonaro book, Announcing the newly updated Nurturing Beginnings, Debra Pascali-Bonaro’s terrific postpartum doula guide. I’m proud to share this with you because I worked with Debra and her team to revise and contribute to the updated version. Click here to purchase Nurturing Beginnings on Amazon.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro was first my doula trainer, then my mentor, then my friend.

We met in 2007 in New York City at a doula training, as the workshop progressed, I felt achier and sicker and on the last day, I listened to Debra lying down with my eyes closed. (It turned out I had Lyme Disease).

Then I invited Debra to teach several doula trainings I hosted and we attended conferences together. We had pajama talks, chats over glasses of wine and on long walks. We talked about issues monumental and trivial, and everything in between. We shared our families and pondered world problems with our toes in the sand and at restaurants over meals.

So when Debra asked me to be a part of this project, I jumped at the chance. I am proud to have helped to edit, contribute and update this version of Nurturing Beginnings. I am honored to be a co-author beside Debra Pascali-Bonaro.

Nurturing Beginnings takes you through the new mother’s journey and into your own as you explore what it means to be “in service of a postpartum woman and her family.” Nurturing Beginnings was one of the first comprehensive postpartum training manuals and is on the current DONA Reading List for Postpartum Doulas.

Chapters include: The Role of The Doula, Home Visiting, Providing Care with Caution: Protecting Health & Safety in The Home & Car, Honoring Postpartum Women and Teaching Self-Care, Easing Postpartum Adjustment, Appreciating Your Clients’ Cultural Diversity by Karen Salt, Supporting The Breastfeeding Mother (Donna Williams & Opal Horvat Advisors) Newborn Basics: Appearance, Behavior, and Care, Offering Support to Partners and Siblings, Unexpected Outcomes: Caring for The Family at a Time of Loss, Nurturing Yourself by

Leah DeCesare, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, DONA, doula workshop, Orgasmic Birth,

Debra and me at the DONA 20th Birthday Conference
Cancun, Mexico, July 2012

Carlita Reyes, Pursuing Professional Development and Building Your Practice plus poems by

Maureen Cannon and “A Doula Speaks” writings from the authors adding insights to the chapters.

Nurturing Beginnings has a tremendous amount of links and resources valuable to birth-workers of varying levels of experience.

Enjoy reading Nurturing Beginnings and making it a valuable tool among your birth resources.

Click here to purchase Nurturing Beginnings on Amazon.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Building The Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness

April 8, 2014 by ldecesare

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

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

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

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

Destiny Africa choir, Kampala Uganda, Wasiko,

Mary Phiona, Dorothy, me and Claire

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

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

Destiny Africa, The Children's Centre for Hope and Wellness, KCC, Uganda home for orphans, giving tuesday, medical center in ugandaCan you imagine villages where all the adults have died of AIDS leaving children caring for children, trying to survive. Can you visualize not having access to a doctor in an emergency, or even just for a cough, or being gravely misdiagnosed?

This fall while the kids were with us, the Kampala Children’s Centre lost a beloved child, Martine. Hers was a beautiful life lost that most certainly would have been prevented with proper and preventive medical care. Martine’s story magnifies the need for the Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness, a fully equipped medical center on the KCC campus to serve the children there as well as the people in the surrounding community.

Because the need is great and urgent, Nick and I jumped up to help and together, with a great group, we’ve set the goal to raise the $70,000 needed to build this center by June this year and we would be grateful for your support in any way!

If you’re local, you can help by attending the May 15, 2014 cocktail reception at the Newport Yachting Center (it’s a gorgeous location on the water, overlooking the harbor and bridge), sharing this event with others, making a donation, contributing to the silent auction or sponsoring the event.

uganda kids, Destiny Africa, medical center in Uganda, giving tuesday,

Shivan, Mary Phiona and Claire apple picking in Rhode Island

Your gift will make a meaningful, life-changing impact on countless lives. The Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness will incorporate immunizations and communicable illness prevention, health and wellness education, an on-site lab, surgical capabilities as well as dentistry and a pharmacy.

For the children who shared our home, for those who have never left Uganda, for the bright dancers and drummers and for the mothers, babies, fathers and families in the surrounding community of Wakiso, please help us build hope – The Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness.

Thank you!
With love,
Leah

Click here to buy tickets
Click here to donate
Click here to learn more and see the beautiful website Nick built – you can contact me through the Mother’s Circle contact page or through the Kampala Hope contact page with any questions.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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Child Development Birth to Age 5

March 26, 2014 by ldecesare

Thank you to Early Childhood Education Degrees.com for inviting me to share this infographic on child development from birth to age 5.

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

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Motherhood: Juggling Eggs

March 17, 2014 by ldecesare

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.

Being grateful always centers me and brings me back to what’s important in life. Being grateful even helps me realize that if I should drop an egg or two now and then, it’s okay. Life will continue, most of the time no one will even know an egg cracked or shattered. So I pause, smile, breath.

Moms out there, who gets what I’m saying?

Read this Thank You Note to Moms, it’s one of my favorite and most popular posts, it’s the thank you note that all moms deserve to get!

Back to juggling eggs, but now with a new calm. Besides, I do like scrambled eggs.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2014

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