Family Circle

You Make It, We Post It!

Written on April 21, 2014 at 8:53 am , by

It doesn’t get easier than combining five simple ingredients for dinner. Instagram user @theresakay13′s Grandma did just that did just that when she made our Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas. The crowd-pleaser uses a rotisserie chicken, making this is a no-fuss preparation meal that both parents and kids will love.

 

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

 

Parenting Dilemmas: Where Do I Find Resources for Raising a Teen?

Written on April 18, 2014 at 9:49 am , by

By Jill Caryl Weiner

Last weekend, I attended the Brooklyn Baby & Family Expo for work. I must say, as a parent of a teenage daughter and a tween son, I was amazed at the incredible array of resources that were pulled together for this event. There was a panel of pediatricians, demos of the latest gear, advisors on family estate planning, book signings, local and long-distance businesses—from preschools to play spaces to a start-up offering the latest technology in baby spoons.

I think it’s fantastic, but I can’t help but wonder about the resources for parents of tweens and teens. It seems like parents’ magazines pay less attention to the issues and needs of older kids, and some people may even think we have it all figured out. Really? Do we have it all figured out?

I called my friend Jessica to get her take on this. I met Jess 14 years ago, just a month or two after my daughter was born, at a new-parent support group. Arlene Eisenberg, who cocreated the What to Expect book series, led a weekly Q&A to help us struggling new parents and to keep in tune with our concerns. I made some of my closest mom friends through that support group. Before I met these women, I admit, I felt pretty lost.

Jess and I compared this issue of resources—or lack thereof—for teens and tweens vs. babies and came up with a few ideas. Here are some differences.

Brooklyn Baby and Family Expo | Photo by Kelley Brusco

1. Money. The number of businesses out there targeting parents with babies is mind-boggling. For teens and tweens there seem to be lots of test-prep companies as well as camps, but for babies products and services are all across the board. This is actually good news for us parents of older kids. I mean, who needs all that stuff crowding up our homes? Plus the businesses we need are out there, they’re just not as obvious.

2. Shared Issues vs. Specialized Concerns. A lot of new parents share the same concerns about their babies, from feeding and sleeping issues to diapering and teething. But the needs of tweens and teens are more specific to the individual person, as they are discovering who they are and want to be. Parents’ concerns are no longer focused only on the basic necessities but on more specialized issues. Your daughter might require extra help in math or have to wear a retainer, or she might want to volunteer to help the elderly, but those concerns are very specific to her.

3. Bigger Kids, Bigger Problems. The problems we faced as new parents caring for these tiny fragile people seemed momentous. But now most of those issues seem so contained compared to teen and tween problems. Even if it’s just parental anxiety about what might happen (because actually things are going pretty okay), that’s pretty stressful. Parents of older kids may worry about issues ranging from overuse of the Internet, to bullying, to eating disorders, to dating and homework stress and so much more. It can seem like we don’t have anywhere to turn for answers.

Brooklyn Baby and Family Expo | Photo by Kelley Brusco

4. Support Systems. Even though there are a ton of resources available for new parents, these newbies often feel isolated. They don’t realize what’s available, and that’s why an expo can be such a great resource. Parents of tweens and teens have the friendships we’ve made over the years through our children. We have their schools as support systems. Schools offer clubs and teams and have Parent-Teacher Associations gathering experts to speak on issues we’re concerned with. Some recent meetings in high schools around my neighborhood have dealt with eating disorders, bullying—both kid-on-kid and kid-on-parent as well as cyberbullying—saving for college and substance abuse. School counselors are available to meet with students and/or their parents one-on-one.

I really enjoyed the expo. It was like being in a time machine and seeing my husband and kids when this whole parenting world was new and we needed everything. As for life with teens and tweens, Jess and I figured out that although we don’t have it all figured out, we have support systems, including friendships and schools, that are kind of like mini expos we can go to anytime. They’re unmistakable resources that make our lives a lot easier.

Jill Caryl Weiner is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared in Mom365.com, New York Magazine, Time Out New York Kids and The New York Times.

Dove Beauty Experiment Hits a Rough Patch for Women

Written on April 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm , by

By Reisa Feigenbaum

 

What does it take to make women truly feel beautiful? Apparently, something as simple as a patch can do the trick.

Recognizing that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, Dove invited 10 real women to take part in a two-week-long social experiment to enhance their sense of their own beauty through the power of a “beauty patch.” Little did they know that the patch contained nothing. But it helped us all learn a powerful lesson about self-perception.

The big reveal is inspiring, with an unforgettable message. After these women found out that their boost of confidence came through their own volition, their lives were forever changed in a way they could never have imagined.

The latest campaign has an important takeaway: Beauty is an empowerment that lives inside every woman.

“We hope to inspire all women and help change the way they see themselves,” says Jennifer Bremner, brand building director of skin cleansing for Dove.

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You Make It, We Post It!

Written on April 14, 2014 at 10:11 am , by

We’re always in the mood for a little something sweet—and so is Instagram user @Switbie_18! She did a great job re-creating our Truffles. They’re perfect as a hostess gift or for indulging at home. Watch below for a step-by-step tutorial from one of our food editors on how to make this dessert.

 

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

 

How to make chocolate truffles

To the Drill Sergeant in My Head

Written on April 10, 2014 at 11:27 am , by

Written by Rachel Macy Stafford, The Hands Free Mama 

 Stress

Before I began my Hands Free journey, I pushed and pressured and rushed my way through life until I became too busy to breathe. I became too stressed to laugh. I became too distracted to see the precious moments slipping right through my multitasking fingers.

Through a painful revelation while out for a run one day, I realized I was missing my life—the best parts of life. I decided to take small steps toward change. I created designated times to use technology so it no longer consumed my time and attention. I lowered my standards from perfect to good enough. I stopped trying to do it all and made sleep a priority again. I began putting my family, my health and my happiness back on the priority list.

It’s been three and a half years since I began my Hands Free journey. I have not been cured of the Disease of Distraction, but I have made significant progress. I live in today, rather than putting life off for someday. I know my children and my spouse as unique individuals. My smile and laugh have returned. Living Hands Free has not only become the practice of my life but is now a necessity. Like food, water and air, I need it. I want it. I crave it. Connecting to what (and who) matters is what I live for each day.

But it is not always easy. Technology, responsibilities, deadlines and the pressures of daily life are always tapping me on the shoulder, beckoning me away from what matters most. And when I take time to rest, relax, play and simply be, my inner drill sergeant yells, “There is no time for this!”

Three and a half years ago, I would have listened to that demanding voice. I would have jumped up in the name of productivity, perfection, validation and people-pleasing. But now things are different. My Hands Free voice drowns out the drill sergeant, and here is what it says. May these words help you let go and live a little today.

To the Drill Sergeant in My Head

If I don’t have time to cuddle that warm, pajama-clad body with glorious bedhead first thing in the morning,
If I don’t have time to press my lips upon the cheek of the man I love at nighttime,
Then I have to ask.
If I don’t have time to call my aging parent for a quick check-in,
If I don’t have time to offer a smile to the weary cashier at checkout,
Then I have to ask.
If I don’t have time to listen, really listen, to what my child has to tell me from the backseat of the car,
If I don’t have time to tell her all the things I love about her from the edge of her bed,
Then I have to ask…
What DO I have time for?
Clearing the inbox
Scrolling the newsfeed
Cleaning the kitchen counter till it shines?
Buying things I don’t need
Saying yes because I can’t say no
Filling my days till my calendar overflows?
I have to ask…
What do I think makes life worth living?
I know. I know.
It’s the pajama cuddles,
It’s the nighttime kisses,
It’s knowing I said “I love you,” just in case my dad’s ripe old age catches up with him today.
It’s the dandelion bouquets,
It’s the uncontrollable laughter,
It’s the worries my child confesses at the most inconvenient times.
Today I refuse to be too busy,
Too rushed,
Too impatient,
Too distracted,
To experience these moments—these moments that make life worth living.
Today I will not place life’s most pressing matters over the moments that matter most in life.
Because if there isn’t enough time to truly live, then I need to ask myself what I am living for.

 

Rachel is the New York Times best-selling Author of Hands Free Mama. She resides in Alabama with her husband and two daughters, who inspire her daily. You can join her on her journey to let go of distraction and grasp the moments that matter at www.handsfreemama.com

4.9.14: Wednesday Wisdom

Written on April 9, 2014 at 12:25 pm , by

Wednesday Wisdom

Your “Useless” Gown Could Be the Perfect Prom Dress for a Teen

Written on April 9, 2014 at 9:17 am , by

By Dori Katz

Getty Images
Nocturnus / iStock Vectors

Having been a bridesmaid over 10 times (yes, it’s true), I’ve accumulated quite the assortment of solid-colored chiffon and taffeta gowns. While every bride promises you’ll be able to wear your bridesmaid dress again, we all know that never happens. I’d been looking for some way to repurpose or give away my collection and finally found the perfect recipient: W GIRLS INC. Project G.L.A.M.

W GIRLS INC. Project G.L.A.M. provides underprivileged teens with prom dresses and accessories so they can attend and enjoy this monumental high school event. To date, they’ve dressed over 8,000 girls! As a beauty and fashion editor, I know how much it means to put on a pretty dress and instantly feel good. I truly hope I can help a few teens shine brightly at their prom this year.

The organization takes new and gently worn dresses and accessories year-round. Donating is super easy: Either drop off your items at one of the many pickup locations or send them by mail. For more info, check out their website, here.

 

 

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Is It Still PC to Buy Your Daughter a Barbie?

Written on April 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm , by

By Julie D. Andrews

Barbie’s back…and making headlines. She’s got a hot new Twitter feed boasting 200K-plus followers. She’s “unapologetic” about scoring the cover of Sports Illustrated‘s famous (or infamous, depending) swimsuit issue. And she has a new cousin: Entrepreneur Barbie (pink-yet-sophisticated shift dress, check; smartphone, check; tablet, check).

Modern makeover or not, Barbie still evokes body-image controversies, making us unsure about coughing up 20 bucks so our girls can tote around the hot-to-trot miss.

Confession: I played with Barbies. And I liked it. A lot. (I also loved pink and still do, but now I call it fuchsia.) I didn’t know Barbie’s body proportions weren’t realistic. I also didn’t realize most men were not Ken—without six-pack abs, towering height and billowing ascots.

It’s not fair to ascribe adult hangups to kids, to burden their playful little hearts with body-image stressors. Dolls, by nature, are aspirational. They wear stylish clothes and inhabit lavish dollhouses. My Barbies had it all, sans regret: hot-rod convertible, flashy mansion, steamy boyfriend, runway wardrobe. But they also drove Tonkas (thanks to my brother), zoomed to important meetings and fraternized with G.I. Joe operatives on secret-spy missions.

Some researchers say it’s this mix that’s important for girls. A recent study concluded that playing with only Barbies could limit girls’ career choices. Take-home? “The most important thing is to make sure there is a wide variety of toys to play with,” said researcher Aurora Sherman.

But maybe it was something else that “saved me.” Maybe I was just who I was no matter what I played with. I was me, playing Barbies. Or me, climbing trees, jumping off rocks (once nearly chomping off my tongue), leaping into pools not knowing how to swim (a story my mother still tells) or refusing to part with my Wonder Woman slippers. I boldly went—and, by extension, so did my Barbies—jumping off buildings and kung-fu kicking too-fresh boys. Perhaps I saw Barbie as just like me, not the reverse.

Not everyone agrees (some screens are likely iced in steely stares). Artist Nickolay Lamm’s recent online crowdfunding campaign to manufacture Average Barbie, officially named Lammily, raised $95K within days.

That’s cool; I get it. But I can’t help but wonder if girls would know the difference if we didn’t point it out to them. I don’t want girls to settle for “good enough” but to go for gold and dream up lives they can aspire to. As comfortable as they are, sweatpants don’t fly in the corporate world.

So, secret’s out: I can’t wait for my niece to get her first Barbie and to rekindle my glory days of inventing story lines. For good measure, I’ll ask about Barbie’s board meeting and whether her startup’s secured expansion funding.

 

Julie D. Andrews is a writer living in New York City. Her new book, Real Is the New Natural, dismantles the negative, destructive messaging about body image and beauty bombarding us daily under the guise of health. Moms are calling it an excellent vehicle for propelling discussions about tough topics with their daughters.

You Make It, We Post It!

Written on April 7, 2014 at 2:52 pm , by

Our Hoisin-Glazed Pork, Bok Choy and Snap Peas dish is good for you, easy to make and—better yet—costs less than $3 a serving. Instagram user @dmajusavel re-created this budget-friendly meal using chicken instead of pork, a great swap, depending on your personal taste. Find more of our signature Healthy Family Dinners here.

 

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef? 

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

 

Holiday Traditions in Blended Families: Easter Edition

Written on April 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm , by

By JM Randolph, the Accidental Stepmom

It’s time to break the silence on one of the more problematic issues facing blended families today: what to do about the Easter Bunny.

For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, my stepkids adjusted far more easily to all holiday celebrations other than Easter in our new family situation. I place the blame squarely on that nebulous bunny.

When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny brought the baskets and hid the eggs that my sister and I then found, but even then I knew it didn’t happen the same way at everyone’s house.

The Easter Bunny has no standards. He has neither sidekicks nor clearly delineated responsibilities. In the realm of mythical childhood mascots, every other one of them has a well-defined job description. At least with Santa, you can connect the goodness and giving part of his gig to the deeper spiritual nature of the holiday. The validity of connecting a bunny to an empty tomb is a stretch. Even if we connect him to the prolific…proliferation…of bunnies in order to symbolize the rebirth and fertility of spring, in no tradition anywhere does a rabbit lay chicken eggs.

Trying to understand the Easter Bunny is like reading a technical manual that has been badly translated from Arabic to French to Chinese to English. Some words are there on the page, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense.

My husband wasn’t terribly helpful when it came to sharing Easter traditions. “That was their mom’s holiday,” he said. “I did Christmas.” So that first year, we guessed. The Easter baskets were ready when they woke up in the morning. They contained bubbles, chalk, Frisbees, balsa airplanes, two Hula Hoops and enough candy to send a small village into a stupor.

13-year-old girl: What’s all this?

Me: Easter baskets. From the Easter Bunny.

13-y-o: Why did the “Easter Bunny” come so early? He usually doesn’t come until after church and he only brings candy. [Insert sarcastic teen voice.] Mom would get us all in the car to go to church waaay early, and suddenly remember that she forgot something in the house. She’d go back inside for like fifteen minutes, and then when we got home from church the “Easter Bunny” would have miraculously delivered the Easter baskets.

Me: Easter is all about the miracles.

Where things really broke down was the egg hunt. If you’re not raised with the belief that the Easter Bunny hides the eggs, nothing will convince you otherwise. Not even the 4-year-old was buying it.

The only egg hunts they had done were at churches or parks in large groups. These kids are super competitive to begin with, so we hid some easy, some hard, and let them stagger the start youngest to oldest. That only made the oldest notice all her siblings occupied in the back and immediately move to the front yard to find every single egg there in about ninety seconds.

They were sorely disappointed that only real eggs were hidden. Apparently there were supposed to be plastic eggs filled with candy and money.

Easter remains the holiday that I never get right. I’ve stopped trying, and instead look for ways to amuse myself.

I have to give the Easter Bunny due credit: He saved me one time by stepping in for the Tooth Fairy. After the Tooth Fairy forgot to show up several nights in a row, the Easter Bunny covered the duties and wrote a note of apology, which was unquestioningly and gleefully accepted by the loser of the tooth (the Easter Bunny being more generous than the Tooth Fairy).

I was interrupted during story time the other day by the 18-year-old barging into her brother’s room to ask me to pass along to the Easter Bunny the fact that she doesn’t like the large robin’s eggs candy, only the small ones.

I decided it’s time for the Tooth Fairy to repay the debt to the Easter Bunny by taking over duties this Easter.

JM Randolph is a writer, stagehand and custodial stepmom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family and blogs at accidentalstepmom.com.

 

Good Reads: Four Books for Pet Lovers

Written on April 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm , by

By Cristina Corvino

Raise a paw to these clever new canine and feline books. From an addictive game of I Spy to an irresistibly catchy tune come to life, these are sure to satisfy your Internet pet craving for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat vs. Human: Another Dose of Catnip by Yasmine Surovec

Explore the unique and unconditionally loving relationship that only cat parents understand best. Yasmine Surovec, author of the successful blog catversushuman.com, debuts 21 brand-new comics for your enjoyment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find Momo by Andrew Knapp

We spy…a black-and-white border collie. Based on designer and photographer Andrew Knapp’s addictive blog (gofindmomo.com) and Instagram account (@andrewknapp), Find Momo includes images of his dog camouflaged in unusual landscapes. Warning: Once you start searching, it’s hard to stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downton Tabby by Chris Kelly

Felines sit atop their aristocratic thrones in this amusing storybook parody of the PBS television hit Downton Abbey. Among the lessons you’ll learn: “How to Argue with Lord Grimalkin About His Most Deeply Held Beliefs.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does the Fox Say? by Ylvis, Christian Løchstøer and Svein Nyhus

Sing along to the viral hit song (over 380 million views and counting on YouTube!) by Ylvis as you read the entertaining lyrics and get lost in the charming illustrations. What do you say to that?

Chew on This: Talking Breakfast with Teens and Tweens

Written on March 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm , by

By Danielle Blundell

The ironic thing about breakfast is that we’ve been hearing it’s the most important meal of the day for years, yet many of us skip it anyway. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become better about eating in the morning. But for teens, staying up late watching TV or texting with friends, then hitting the snooze button repeatedly in the a.m. sometimes makes breakfast a luxury reserved for the weekends. A good analogy to illustrate the importance of breakfast for kids—and even ourselves—might be sports. Performing like an athlete requires the proper fuel, and it all starts with breakfast.

To that end we asked the New York Giants’ colorful running back Victor Cruz and The Chew’s Carla Hall, who’ve partnered up with Fuel Up to Play 60 to increase school breakfast participation across the country, for their tips on getting tweens and teens excited about breakfast. And who better than skeleton silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace, fresh off the Sochi podium and now spokesperson for Kellogg’s Give a Great Start Program, for additional ideas, since she’s mom to—and chief breakfast maker for—children Traycen and Lacee.

1. Convenience is key. 

Kids are always on the go, so breakfast options should be flexible too. Stock up on breakfast bars and instant oatmeal, or prepare baggies of dry cereal ahead of time, like Pikus-Pace does, for kids to grab fast from the pantry. Cruz remembers, “Even if I was running late, I always fit breakfast in because of my mom. She’d say, ‘At least eat some cereal,’ or she’d have a granola bar ready for me to eat in the car on the way to school.”

2. Splurge once in a while.

Sure, a well-balanced, healthy breakfast is ideal, but sometimes kids form good habits faster when you let them indulge in their favorites from time to time. For Cruz, it’s French toast. “I’d eat that every day if I could,” he says. Hall favors pancakes. Make it a point to get the family together and enjoy a splurge breakfast at least once a month.

3. Go pro athlete with your menu.

“On game days, I’ll have a vegetable omelet for protein, oatmeal for extra energy and a glass of orange juice,” says Cruz. Before your athlete’s big game or on a test day, give that combo a try. You don’t even have to bust out a pan or skillet if you don’t have the time. Hall uses an on-the-go omelet recipe made with eggs, a little bit of milk, cheese and veggies or meat that she shakes up in a microwave-safe Mason jar and microwaves for 2 minutes.

4. Make breakfast a group effort when you can.

“Today’s kids are more little foodies than we think,” says Hall. “Getting them involved is key, and it starts with taking kids to the store to pick items out. Or ask them for a list.” Let kids customize their own jar omelets or pick out the fruits they want to top their cereal, oatmeal or yogurt. And remind them that not everybody has it so easy when it comes to breakfast. “Everyone deserves a great start, but every day one in five kids don’t get breakfast,” says Pikus-Pace. You and your teen or tween can help. Watch her video and share it with the hashtag #greatstart on Twitter or Facebook, and you’ll provide a meal to a child in need through Kellogg’s.