Family Circle

Disney Princesses and the Meaning of True Love

Written on May 13, 2014 at 5:29 pm , by

 By Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Carry On, Warrior

We were watching Sleeping Beauty recently when my kindergartner pointed at the unconscious princess on the screen and said, “Mama, what’s wrong with her?” (Like death and taxes, princess movies can’t be avoided, especially by mothers of little girls.) My older daughter, Tish, 9, replied, “She’s sleeping and waiting. She can’t wake up till she finds true love.” Amma looked right at Tish and demanded, “Well, how’s she going to find anything if she stays asleep?” I laughed and thought: Excellent point. Then Amma asked me, “Mama, what is true love?”

I stopped laughing and stared at her. It seemed clear that my usual response—Let’s Google it!—wasn’t going to cut it. Amma’s thoughtful question required a thoughtful answer. I promised to get back to her and then pondered her question all day: Mama, What is True Love?

Sleeping Beauty got it halfway right. True Love is what wakes us and allows us to start living instead of just surviving. But I’m not convinced that life is a quest to find that singular soul mate who “completes us” (as Disney, with help from Jerry Maguire, may have us believing). I’m afraid this is a setup for bitter failure, because no one will ever complete us and nobody makes us happy. Our state of mind is more of an act of will than an uncontrollable result of circumstances and other people’s behavior. Happy people are not those who have found one perfect person to love: They are those who have found a way to truly love life—in the midst of all its imperfections.

At dinner that night I told my girls that as human beings we need to fall in love—with life first, which is the greatest relationship they will ever have. I explained that True Love is a decision some people make to trust, to always look for the good, and to consider every failure or distressing experience a necessary part of the journey. They don’t expect a prince to whisk them away because they don’t want to be whisked anywhere. And they don’t lie down and go to sleep. They stay awake and engage because they believe that life is ultimately on their side, even when it causes pain.

“Why does it have to hurt? Why does it have to be hard?” Tish asked me. “You know how math is your hardest class right now, but it’s also where you’re learning the most?” I explained. “It’s like that. Life is about learning, and we learn best when things get hard.”

This led to a discussion of the difficult things we often face. We talked about life’s ups and downs and excitement and dullness. We talked about how folks come and go without warning and often surprise the bloody hell out of us with their selfishness and their selflessness.

I asked my girls how they imagine they might respond to the beauty and brutality that life will ultimately put before them every single day. I firmly believe it is best to talk about these inevitable happenings before they happen—because I don’t want it to ever be a surprise. Nor should they view it as something personal. No matter who we are or how many rules we follow perfectly, there will be great pain and loss and joy and triumph. Life happens to all of us, whether we want it to or not.

My Amma must have been pondering the same thing because she wisely said, “I think we have to keep trying to love life even when it hurts our feelings.”

So we thought together about what we can do to keep loving life even when it hurts our feelings. The fix isn’t to seek out a new drug or drink or car or dress or diet or prince. Nor is it to curl up and go to sleep. No, we keep our feet on solid ground and we find the people, things, activities that make our souls sing, filling us up with beauty so we can make it through, even during our darkest moments.

And that beauty should be spread far and wide—in friendships and mountains and poetry and bike rides and work and art and always, always in service to others. You may find it in your children. Your dog. That majestic tree in the front yard. Deep breaths. Bluegrass music. Your partner. The ocean. Books. Yoga. The quilt your mama made with her own two hands. For me, these things are all my soul mates. It takes the whole world to fill me up, to “make me” happy. I’d never pin that job on just one person.

My girls and I agreed together that our best partner is the one who will most lovingly and supportively witness our journey—and the one whose journey we find most worthy of witnessing. And that, in the end, is the beginning of a truly beautiful relationship.


Glennon Doyle Melton is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir Carry On, Warrior, and founder of the online community



Three Ways to Streamline Your Workout

Written on May 12, 2014 at 4:14 pm , by

By Maria Masters

You don’t have to trek to the gym to attend a boot camp or yoga lesson—all you need is an Internet connection. The newest way to exercise is by viewing a session via your TV, laptop, tablet or smartphone. With these three fun (and affordable) sites, there’s never a reason to cut class.

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.,, $85

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

Kimberly Ostrich Tote, Emilie M.,, $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, 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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