Family Circle

Every Mother Counts

Written on May 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm , by

By Reisa Feigenbaum

Just in time for Mother’s Day, the folks at handbag e-tailor Emilie M. have chosen to sponsor a charity that’s dear to their hearts and consistent with the brand’s mission of supporting women in all walks of life. As a mother herself, Emilie was undeniably drawn to a cause that strives to provide the love of mothers to millions of children.

“From the first day, motherhood is a journey of dedication and giving. Giving a hand, giving advice, giving encouragement, giving smiles, giving love. For all the things our mothers give us, shouldn’t we give back?” asks Solomon Hedaya, president of Emilie M.

Between April 15 and May 31, 5% of the brands’ proceeds will support Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit founded by model and mother of two Christy Turlington Burns, dedicated to making pregnancy safe for every mother by informing and engaging audiences to take action and support maternal health programs worldwide.

Nothing beats a gift that gives back. You’ll find a collection of timeless accessories for any mom on a budget (all under $110), including statement-making silhouettes in polished styles from printed canvas and neutral linen to colored croc and tri-tone color block.

Irene Ostrich Shoulder Bag in Rose, Emilie M., emiliemshop.com, $85

Leslie Compartment Double Shoulder, Emilie M., emiliemshop.com, $90

Kimberly Ostrich Tote, Emilie M., emiliemshop.com, $110

 

What Many Moms of Kids with Disabilities Won’t Tell You

Written on May 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm , by

After coming to terms with her son’s disability, one woman reveals what many moms of kids with special needs won’t tell you. 

Author’s Note: This is a story about my journey as a mom, but I can’t tell it without relaying the private details of my son’s condition. That’s why in addition to writing this piece anonymously, I’ve also changed his name as well as the names of other family members in the article. 

At first they sounded like a cross between a robin’s chirp and a hiccup. Short bursts of noisy air that made other kids wonder if my son—whom I’ll call Aidan—had asthma. “Can he breathe okay?” they’d ask, their foreheads creased with concern.

Aidan was 6 years old and at the end of first grade when the symptoms started. If someone had told me I would spend years monitoring those noises—silently counting how many times they happened per minute (often more than 10), I would have said they were crazy. Nor would I have believed I’d get emails from teachers informing me Aidan’s squeaks and compulsive throat clearing made it hard for other students to concentrate. Or that at their peak, those sounds would morph into chin, neck and arm jerks so dramatic that people on the street—and in stores and on playgrounds—would glance his way and whisper.

Shortly after the outbursts began, his pediatrician explained that the sounds are called tics, and they tend to go away over time. She also said if the tics are both vocal and motor, occur many times a day and last over a year, they can be classified as Tourette syndrome. TS is a lifelong condition whose signs are usually noticed in early childhood, and may improve in the late teens and the 20s. She guessed Aidan’s were a phase. I wasn’t so sure.

For the next three years, Aidan’s tics came and went, so we never got a diagnosis. Then they escalated to include stepping back and forth over sidewalk cracks and brushing his fingertips against textured surfaces like a wicker chair. (As I’d later learn, kids with TS often have other neurological challenges, including varying degrees of ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder.)

 In the fall that he entered fifth grade, concerned emails from his teacher started almost immediately and his episodes began lasting longer. A specialist officially diagnosed him and I felt like my cherished expectations for him were instantly and cruelly revoked. He’s bright enough that I had assumed school would be his place to excel. Instead, he sometimes couldn’t even write his name because his shoulder was shaking so badly. I worried: Would he be bullied? Would he ever be able to play sports?

Aidan’s neurologist counseled a wait-and-see approach. Tics aren’t life threatening, after all, and Aidan doesn’t have coprolalia, the much-hyped but less common subset of TS where people blurt out swear words or other socially inappropriate comments. In some cases, medication can be the most effective treatment for TS, yet the neurologist wanted to be conservative and watch what happened to the tics over time.

My fears about Aidan’s daily life, however, made it impossible for me to take the long view. I coped by waking up in the middle of the night and weeping to my husband, James, that Aidan’s life was ruined. When he tried to reassure me by pointing out that our son had friends and was, except for the problems at school, happy, I just thought he was in denial. Once in a while, I’d confide my concerns about Aidan to friends, although I quickly noticed problems like mine weren’t typical book club banter. My friends were sympathetic, to be sure. But because my family’s issues were so different from normal family ups and downs, I felt alone in my troubles.

In my isolation I became jealous of families with “typical” children, silently getting angry when another mom complained about an incompetent hockey referee or a teacher who failed to place her child in the highest reading group. I’d always enjoyed hearing stories about my friends’ kids. Now they just felt like reminders that my own family was in crisis. Get a real problem, I thought.

I began trolling the Internet seeking help and meeting with any mom I knew whose child had any kind of neurological disorder. In addition to biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy, I signed Aidan up for acupuncture and had him work with a Chinese healer to learn Qigong, a mind-body practice geared toward improving energy flow through the body. Looking back on those days, I can see that I was searching for something—anything—to ease not Aidan’s anxiety, but mine.

At Aidan’s 11-year checkup—were we ever not at a doctor’s office?—the pediatrician was talking to him about his tics when I interrupted to show her how on top of it I was. She was checking his spine when I rattled off the treatments we were pursuing.  “Hmm,” she said, pulling out her stethoscope. “Maybe that’s too much.”

And it was. That’s when I realized that for months—maybe years—I’d been seeing Aidan only as a boy with Tourette syndrome, not as the kid who loved his cat, played tennis and wrote his own hip-hop lyrics. For the first time, I understood the message I was sending him with all those treatments: You are not okay with me.

When we were in the car, I asked Aidan which therapies he wanted to continue, suggesting that we keep cognitive behavioral therapy because I could tell it was helping him feel less anxious. He agreed and said he also wanted to continue with acupuncture. That decision not only eased our budget, it also freed up my time, which was another stressor on our family life. I realized that I’d wrung myself dry trying to fix Aidan. I had a job, a husband and two other children who also needed my attention. Aidan wasn’t perfect. And neither was his mother.

Realizing I didn’t need to be 100% responsible for Aidan’s life was a shocking relief, changing my relationship not only with my son but also with my friends. I started spending more time with moms of children who had challenges, and felt safe enough with them that I could laugh about my manic pursuits of therapies and 3 a.m. Internet forages for clues to Aidan’s future. Being honest with people I trust about my son and my fumbling attempts to help him let me cast aside the facade of the perfect mom. It allowed me to be cared about simply as a person.   

For three years, Aidan’s tics were controlled by medications that I would have been too scared to try if I’d listened to the Internet chatter instead of Aidan’s neurologist. Prescriptions are a big step for any family, so I’m glad we explored other options first. I am also amazed at how many moms toss around startlingly judgmental declarations about the evils of prescription drugs. In Aidan’s case, meds literally made it possible for him to start a new middle school as just another kid. Yes, he gained 15 pounds, complained of a dry mouth and had perpetually chapped lips, but experiencing less severe tics gave Aidan the confidence he needed to make new friends.

Today Aidan is in ninth grade and no longer takes medication to control his tics, though they sometimes bother him when he reads. (He’s learned to make adjustments.) Aidan’s on the debate team, plays hockey, gets good grades and, most important, has close friends, some of whom knew him during the worst of the tics. He has the high school life I’d always envisioned. The neurologist even dialed back Aidan’s diagnosis from Tourette syndrome to chronic tic disorder, although I’m convinced we were—and are—dealing with TS.

I can’t imagine I’ll ever like what this disorder means for Aidan, although I can tell that he’s a more empathetic person from having challenges. I’m also grateful for what my kid with special needs has taught me about myself. Looking back on my life before TS, I can see that I was pretty smug about my bright and sweet son, basking in the satisfaction of what I felt I’d created. These days I’m a humbler mom who doesn’t care as much as I used to about what my kids achieve. Instead, I simply want them to be happy.

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You Make It, We Post It!

Written on May 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm , by

If you ask us, any day is perfect for a freshly baked dessert. Even better when it involves chocolate—and there are jelly beans on top! Instagram user @rkenn421 re-created our Brownie Bird Nests by jazzing up a basic brownie mix. Find more of our delicious brownie recipes 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.

You Make It, We Post It!

Written on April 28, 2014 at 11:38 am , by

Easter’s over but we still can’t get enough of these cuties. Instagram user @adreeneyc did a perfect job re-creating our April cover stars, Coconut Chicks (recipe here). The secret ingredient? Donut holes! Find more of our creative cover recipes 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.

Mixed Bag of Savings

Written on April 25, 2014 at 3:09 pm , by

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best deals on the Web! We love a bargain as much as the next person, so check back every Friday for our favorite family-friendly discounts.

 

From swimwear markdowns to a National Pretzel Day giveaway, there’s something for everyone in this week’s roundup of free stuff and discounts.

 

• With the summer months fast approaching, don’t miss the chance to get 15% off swimwear and cover-ups at Target.

• What a way to welcome May! Carvel will be giving out free junior cones from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the first of the month.

• It’s worth a try! Sign up for a free sample of Calvin Klein’s Beauty fragrance.

• Satisfy your office supply needs with a variety of Staples coupons. Act fast—they expire tomorrow.

• April 26 is National Pretzel Day! Stop by the nearest Pretzelmaker tomorrow for your free soft pretzel—salted or unsalted.

• Try a free 30-day trial of Daily Burn, complete with workout videos and a built-in support system.

• Who’s up for brunch? You have until Sunday to save 20% on Build Your Own French Toast at Denny’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.23.14: Wednesday Wisdom

Written on April 23, 2014 at 10:34 am , by

Celebrate Earth Month, the Green and Gorgeous Way!

Written on April 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm , by

By Reisa Feigenbaum 

To celebrate Earth Month and show appreciation for our precious (and delicate) planet year-round, we’ve put together a list of all-natural, eco-conscious products free from chemicals and chock-full of good-for-you ingredients from some of our favorite environmentally minded beauty brands. Happy Earth Day!

1. KIEHL’S Limited-Edition Label Art Series Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque, $23 
Remove dirt, toxins and dry, dead skin cells with this complexion-smoothing masque. It’s made with Amazonian white clay, which is known for its skin-detoxifying properties. For the month of April, 100% of net profits (up to $50,000) will benefit Recycle Across America, which is dedicated to stimulating the environmental economy.

2. KISS MY FACE After Play Air Power Crème, $12
While many SPF products contain chemical additives harmful to marine life, Kiss My Face offers sun care that is free of parabens and artificial fragrances, and rich in sustainable plant-based ingredients. This protective spray is full of antioxidants like green tea, goji berry extract and vitamin C, which work as hydrating defenders against harmful UV rays.

3. ORIGINS Limited-Edition Earth Week Tote, free with $65 minimum purchase
Look and feel good with the ultimate eco-friendly tote, which features Origins’ “Do Good” philosophy in eight languages. From April 17 to 26, Origins is gifting the tote with any purchase of $65 or more. Plus, Origins will plant a tree that will help to bring forestation to areas in need.

 

4. ALBA BOTANICA Good & Healthy Range, $10 each (Anti-Oil Weightless Moisture, Oil-Free Radiance Cream, Tinted Perfector, SPF 15 Moisturizer and Spots Be Gone Corrector)
The name says it all: Alba Botanica’s new line of Good & Healthy facial moisturizers is just what the environment ordered. Powered by extracts from leafy greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard, this certified organic range will rejuvenate your complexion, no matter what your skin type.

5. KORRES White Grape Body Butter, $29
This apothecary-inspired body cream has softening shea butter and hydrating quince extract plus sunflower, almond and avocado oils to nourish and restore the skin’s elasticity. Plus, the company’s plant operates entirely on renewable energy, and 99% of its packaging is recyclable.

 

6. AVEDA Light The Way Candle, $12
According to Aveda, every scent matters. The company is donating 100% of the proceeds from the sweet and spicy candle to Global Greengrants Fund, a nonprofit that channels high-impact grants to solve environmental problems.

 

 

 

 

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