Author Archives: Melissa Lawrence

About Melissa Lawrence

Mother of Five Rowdy, Sweet, Sassy Kids Co-Founder, CEO and Co-Executive Produce Learn More About Melissa

When do you get your first menstrual period after birth? My thoughts in today’s new video! > More

A mom of a 2.5 year old and 9 month old wrote in asking “How long after birth does one’s period return?” I answer her question in today’s new video.

When Do You Get Your Period After Baby?

Check with your doctor on this, but my OB-GYN informed me that I could expect my period to come approximately six months after I had stopped exclusively breastfeeding. For some woman, their first menstrual period after birth will come back sooner and for some later. For women that do not breastfeed, experts generally advise that their period will return after approximately six to eight months. Again, though, this can vary greatly from mom to mom.

The introduction of solids and supplementing with formula will greatly impact when your period comes back post baby, advancing the onset of you period.

Can a Period Come and Go While Breastfeeding?

Having gotten pregnant several times while breastfeeding, I do advise breastfeeding moms to take into account that you do not need to get your period to get pregnant. I got pregnant with my second child Lachlan when my first Hedley was only five months old. Exclusively breastfeeding, I had not yet gotten my period.

For more thoughts on the issue, check out my new video and thanks so much for watching. Oh, and weigh in with your own experiences!

xo

Style tips on what to wear with a denim jacket and our Zara giveaway. > More

Hi there fashionista mamas.  I don’t shop that much in stores recently. When I need a break from work or mommydom, I cruise around my favorite sites online, checking for sales and new looks. This Zara embroidered jean jacket caught my eye last month and I snapped it up immediately. When I see something I really like, I act fast lest it be gone. (I’m not as definitive in other areas of my life, that’s for sure!)

What do you wear with a Jean Jacket?

Like leather jackets, jean jackets are tremendously versatile. You can throw them over a spring or summer dress, over cropped pants (as I did here), or even dress them up with leather pants or a fancy top underneath. Jean jackets never go out of style, and they are always cool (even when certain wearers — i.e. me – are not!).

I combined this jean jacket with a Club Monoco white blouse, Madewell brown jeans, and Vince Camuto leopard sandals.

Got any fresh ways to wear a jean jacket? Comment below and enter our Zara fashion giveaway!

Zara Embroidered Jean Jacket

We haven’t been going out much lately, so my sweetie snapped these pics in our apartment.

Zara Embroidered Jean Jacket

Zara Embroidered Jean Jacket

Zara Embroidered Jean Jacket

Now that I have this outfit figured out, I can try it on next week. Always good to be organized!  If you’ve got any style tips for how to wear a jean jacket, comment below. Thanks so much for reading and check back in soon for more fashion posts.

Melissa xo

Zara Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Zara gift card.

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, June 18, 2018 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Zara Giveaway

Thoughts on how motherhood is truly hard work and why we need to stop being so hard ourselves. > More

We moms can be pretty hard on ourselves. Our expectations run high. We expect ourselves to remain patient, to give our best to our children and partners, to nurture our parents and siblings, and to be the best confidants we can to our girlfriends.

Motherhood is Hard Work

Trouble is that time runs short. While you are driving your kid to a birthday party, you forget to call your Mom back. Your son’s looming Latin test means skipping that treasured catch-up time at the Moms’ Night Out. Oh, and don’t forget the hubs. He’s grumpy because you can’t squeeze in the next episode of Homeland.

My perfectionist tendencies used to allow these snafus to drive me crazy. Lately, I’m becoming more relaxed, realizing that there is not time for everything NOW in life, but that there will be more time later, and that my true friends will wait for me. I look at my day as a batting average, remembering the advice of parenting expert Julie Ross of Parenting Horizons. If you get it right seventy percent of the time, Julie says, you’re doing pretty darn good.

Last Sunday began at 7am and wrapped up at around 11pm. After helping with homework, I packed my two girlies into the car and headed to Tribeca where Annaliese attended the birthday party of a good friend. I adore the mom. She’s actually one of my heros: warm, lovely, charming and just a great friend. She generously invited Marielle to participate in the party, which allowed me to witness both girls in creative heaven and to catch up with the host and other moms.

After watching the adorable girls paint their own canvases, I headed upstairs to the empty bar area.  There, I ended up sharing half a glass of wine with a fellow mom I really like but never get to talk to. When the party ended, I drove through the weekend traffic with the girls to Randalls Island, and then ran between two fields to watch them. Once we made it home, I helped Lachlan map out an English essay on To Kill a Mockingbird. He’s getting more mature and wanted to do more on his own. Fine by me. One hot cup of tea and I collapsed into bed.

Here’s the goofy hat I wore around Randall’s Island. I’m super fair-skinned and trying to avoid sun-spots. That’s your 40’s for you, mamas.

All in all, it was a pretty packed day. Nothing about the day felt complete since it was composed of a series of brief encounters. But the brief moments I got to share with some amazing people left me grateful for living my frantic, rich life. Sometimes these encounters are all we can fit in. But they can still sustain you.

Stop Being Hard on Yourself

When you extract the good out of what you get, you feel happy. When you’re delighted with what comes —  versus always wishing for more — you’re content. The old “glass is half full” saying becomes more true as we get busier, doing more of some things and less of others. You have to be grateful for the things you get to do more and not fret over what you get to do less. That’s parenting.

So roll with it, mamas. Take it for what it is and be as happy as you can. Don’t grumble over how things used to be, thrive in your own present life. Floppy hat and all!

Hope you have a great weekend and see you back soon this week for some fun content on CloudMom.

Melissa

Weekly Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Amazon gift card.
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, May 7, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Weekly Wrap Up Giveaway

A classic women's belted leather jacket in this week's Fashion Post plus giveaway. > More

Hi there mamas.

I’ve never been much of a jacket person. I tend to keep my long down coat on through April and find it again come October. I feel weird in jackets. Ofttimes, there feel too short or too thin. Jackets often don’t sit right with me since I prefer to have my tushie covered; it’s a modesty sort of thing.

Enter below for a JCrew giveaway!

Ways to Wear Leather Jackets

A year or two ago, I realized that having a few black leather jackets in your wardrobe can solve a myriad of fashion dilemmas. A cropped black jacket can look great over a spring or fall dress, keeping you just warm enough. You can pop this cropped jacket on atop black leggings with high heels and bingo, you have a fun cocktail outfit. Black leather jackets are truly one of the most versatile fashion items you can have, mamas!

Browsing a neighborhood secondhand store last winter, I spotted this women’s belted leather jacket. I deliberated, then went back and then returned again. Even though the jacket was vintage and secondhand, it was still expensive. That is probably due to the fact that it is a famous brand (Gucci), constructed of leather so thin it feels like butter, and finished off with a wooden belt buckle. I am so happy I bought this gem of a jacket, though. First of all, no one has this jacket — that’s fun. I get a lot of compliments on it. It is classic and modern at the same time and I know I will wear it for years to come.

A classic women's belted leather jacket and thoughts on a treasured friendship in this week's Fashion Post plus giveaway.

Last Friday, Marc and I headed out for an early dinner with our dear friends Doris and Tripp. I know Doris from my days of working as an entertainment attorney. She’s probably the most enlightened person I know. Doris loves deeply, laughs heartily and lives a meaningful life, taking care of her two boys and advocating for the political changes she feels our society so desperately needs. She does more in a day than most of us do in a month. She also has more friends than anyone I know. People are drawn to her the way bees gather around honey. I’m so lucky to have her as my dear friend.

A classic women's belted leather jacket and thoughts on a treasured friendship in this week's Fashion Post plus giveaway.

A wine industry veteran, Tripp (like Marc) finds himself at a turning point in his life right now and is exploring new opportunities. It was great to swap tips and advice, and today the two men are lunching together. When people get together to try to help each other, only good things can come.

A classic women's belted leather jacket and thoughts on a treasured friendship in this week's Fashion Post plus giveaway.

Underneath the belted leather jacket I wore a flapper style fringe Club Monaco shirt from my dear friend Tamela, and on the bottom fitted Madewell jeans and my fav Sandro strappy sandals with gold studs.

A classic women's belted leather jacket and thoughts on a treasured friendship in this week's Fashion Post plus giveaway.

Ladies, if you are feeling blue, make a plan with someone who lifts you up. Surround yourself with those who wish you well. And have some fun. Enter below for a JCrew giveaway.

Love,

Melissa

JCrew Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Jcrew gift card.

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, May 28, 2018 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

JCrew Giveaway

Tips for staying motivated as a parent and reflections on ski racing in our Wrap Up plus giveaway. > More

Much of parenting can seem like a grind. Think feeding after feeding, changing diapers, taking your kid in and out of the carseat, asking him to please listen, or receiving his dirty napkins like a gift in the palm of your hand. These things happen over and over again. If you’re looking for fresh challenges every day, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If you’re looking for validation — the gratification that you are doing things right or at least okay — you’ll be flattened into dejection, too. Parenting is a long haul. You issue your lessons, crossing your fingers that fifteen some odd years later, a human being will surface who thrives in our world, and who perhaps looks back and appreciates YOU.

Tips for Staying Motivated as a Parent

How to Find Motivation as a Parent

Given how delayed our gratification is as parents, staying motivated to do your best while remaining energetic and optimistic is no easy feat. One way in which I’ve been fortunate to keep myself refreshed while spending loads of time with my children is by traveling, venturing off to new horizons that we discover together. As we discover new places together, conflicts and frustrations fade and we gel into a team. Bonds are formed; memories are created.

As part of these travels and because we are avid skiers, I took up ski racing with my kids two years ago. For a while I held my own, but this year, even little Marielle (7) surpassed my time. Yes, I am the slowest. But I’m not racing to win. I’m doing it to spend time with my kids while challenging myself to be my best, as well.

When my kids observe me tackling something difficult, it teaches them something valuable about life. “Nothing worth having in life comes easy,” I’ve been reminding them. When you do your best, you feel good about yourself, happy. When you don’t do your best, nothing feels good. I truly believe this about life. my yoga teacher Jackie advises: “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

How do you stay motivated as a mom or dad? Chime in below.

Ways to Thrive as a Mom

Every moment cannot revolve around your kids. You need to drink something out of the experience yourself, mama. You’re still a person with dreams. Rather than get frustrated over things you can no longer do or have — such as late nights out, a flat stomach, or days spent reading long novels — find something you can do together with your kids and set some new ambitions. Bike riding, hiking, bowling — whatever it is, find a shared adventure and challenge and plunge in. Make it about your kids and about yourself.

When I crossed the finish line ski racing, my goal was not a certain time or medal but to enjoy the process of being of parent. That, in my book, is the only way to go.

Weekly Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Amazon gift card.
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, April 2, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Weekly Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Thanks for reading. Gratefully,

What to wear to a disco party? A fun female disco outfit in this week's Fashion Post plus giveaway. > More

A few weeks back Marc and I were invited to a fun 70’s disco party. Several hours before see me asking myself what to wear. Scouting out costumes on Amazon a week or two before would have been a great idea, but sadly that idea did not occur to me on time. Into my closet, I plunged!

Female Disco Outfit

I’ve always loved bell-bottomed jeans and fortunately, I never part with jeans I like. So the first item I decided upon was this pair of Madewell wide bell-bottoms. Then, I fished out some pale “summer boots” from a few seasons before. The color had a seventies feel.

Got some good disco outfit ideas? Weigh in below and enter our $50 JCrew giveaway!

what to wear to a disco party

Off the shoulder blouses have made a comeback. This fun JCrew top with brightly colored shimmering stars seems disco-y enough. On you go, top.

I’m not one for heavy jewelry but some bangles seemed inevitable.  Then, an oversized purple plastic wring.

Marc had headed to the costume store to pick up his own Disco shirt — check my Instagram page for the look — and he generously offered me this faux-gold shimmery disco necklace. Outfit complete!disco female outfitwhat to wear to a 70's party

Have fun with your look, mamas, and dare to look a little silly too. We all need a laugh once in a while.

That’s it for this week’s fashion post. Make sure to check back in for more next week and don’t forget to enter our Jcrew giveaway.

Melissa

JCrew Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $50 Jcrew gift card.

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, April 30, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

JCrew Giveaway

Why teaching kids about civic responsibility and getting them involved in their community is important. > More

Last week, I attended a cocktail party hosted by my friend Mila. Mila has recently launched a fascinating podcast called Future Hindsight. She describes the podcast as follows: “Future Hindsight is the place where civic engagement meets civil discourse. In conversations with experts, everyday citizens, and activists, we explore the ways in which we all have the power to shape our society …”

How to Teach Your Kids About Civic Responsibility

How to Teach Your Kids About Civic Responsibility

At the party, I caught up with fellow moms and Mila spoke briefly about her new endeavor.

I came away from the event impressed. Having grown up in a family that was politically astute (both of my parents were active in Connecticut politics and I grew up in a household where we talked about our society, current events and how to change things for the better on a daily basis), I often feel that my own family lives in too much of a bubble. We are so overwhelmed by our daily lives that we don’t talk enough about the responsibility we have to make our society work better for others.

Civic Engagement Activities for Kids

Mila’s venture targets us adults — encouraging us to get involved, to participate in our world. Yet she got me thinking about the generation of kids we parents are raising. So busy are they with school, sports, and activities that they barely have time to notice how others who are differently situated experience their daily lives. How do you get your kids to look outside of their own experiences and see hardship and struggle elsewhere; and to understand as fellow human beings, we are obliged to help?

If you’ve done community service with your kids or encouraged them to help others, please share below!

I haven’t answered that big question, but I do have a happy story to share. Last weekend, I spent four hours with Lachlan making bagged lunches at a neighborhood church soup kitchen. As part of his Catholic confirmation, Lachlan is required to perform ten community service hours. At the church basement, we prepared sandwiches, ladled soup into paper containers, folded napkins, and then packed brown paper bag lunches, popping in hard-boiled eggs and brownies donated by a local woman to complete the task. Then, along with an amazing team of other adults and kids, we handed out the bagged lunches to people who showed up.

Why teaching kids about civic responsibility and getting them involved in their community is important.

As folks entered the church to collect their lunch, Lachlan said “Hello, Sir … Hello, Ma’am” to each and every one and called to them “Have a nice day!” as they left. And on the way home, he said to me: “Mom, let’s go back next week. I don’t need any more service hours for my confirmation, but it’s good to go anyway. It’s good to help the less fortunate.”

This might have been one of my proudest moments as a mom. Although Lachlan’s ten hours are complete, we plan to go back next Sunday and Hedley wants to join in.

For the rest of the day, Lachlan seemed settled and focused to me, and less likely to get involved in a spat with a sibling. Helping others — something I know my family needs to do more of — lifts us up and makes us feel connected, important. These experiences tap into our shared humanity.

Dive into the world and get involved and teach your kids to do the same. It’s a habit that will last a lifetime.

Ann Landers — 'It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.'

Thank you for reading.

Gratefully,

Melissa

Weekly Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Amazon gift card.
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, March 19, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Weekly Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

A transparent Zara dress with celestial motif in this week's clothing giveaway. > More

Hiya fashionista mamas. Valentine’s Day this year became a special night for Marc and me. We hadn’t been out to dinner together in months so a calm meal and yummy food proved to be the perfect fix!

Describe your ideal Valentine’s Day below and enter our Weekly Giveaway!zara-transparent-dress-giveawayWhile getting ready for our dinner, I was determined to make it to the restaurant Marc had selected in our neighborhood on time. This required getting ready in a jiffy. Meanwhile, I wanted to look a little special.

I settled upon this transparent dress from Zara with a celestial motif, gold-studded booties from Designer Shoe Warehouse, and a black sparkly bag from Karen Millen.

I’ll confess: I have a terrible trait when it comes to clothes. I get tired of things really fast. Once I have worn something a few times, I need to mix and match it with something new lest I get bored. I had worn this dress before with over the knee fitted suede boots, so these booties were the new twist as was the clutch.

zara-giveaway-blogger-mom

zara-black-dress-giveaway

In the market for something new? Enter our Zara clothing giveaway below to win a $50 gift card from Zara.

Thanks for reading!

Melissa

Prize: One (1) $50 Zara gift card.

Fashion Blog Giveaway Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on March 21, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Zara Giveaway

Looking for ways to limit screen time? Here are some easy ways to limit screen time as a parent. > More

I don’t know a parent out there who isn’t looking for ways to limit their kid’s screen time. No matter how hard you try to leave iPads, iPhones, computers and video games at bay, kids find them. Take away their phones and they find a way to stream games on their school-provided iPad. Hide the iPad at the back of your closet and lo and behold, they find it. It’s a constant battle in any household with parents who want to put limits on their kid’s tech activities.do-i-limit-screen-time-kids

We all know the dangers of excessive screen time. Research indicates that internet addiction is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions associated with emotional processing, executive attention, decision making and cognitive control. Even children who are not addiction per se have been observed to be impulsive, moody and lacking concentration.

In short, experts basically agree that we should limit screen time as much as possible allowing our kids to talk, play, and ideally. Easier said than done, right parents?

Our household is stricter than many when it comes to tech, yet as my kids have gotten older controlling how much time they spend playing games has proved more and more challenging with each passing year. Today’s video is about what we’ve done in my household to try to place limits on screen time. Weigh in with what happens in your household.

Easy Ways to Limit Screen Time

Some simple ways we’ve used to limit screen time include: asking children to place iPhones in our bathroom when they get home from school or an activity and monitoring them during homework time by asking them to do homework in public areas and sneaking up on them and checking that they are not watching videos or playing games instead of actually doing the homework. Yup!  For more tips, watch my video!

Things to do Instead of Screen Time

As I expand upon in my video, instead of screen time, try encouraging your kids to read, board games, and even watching a good movie together. Anything is better than just sheer video games they play on their own.

Video games can be creative for kids so I’m not saying they are all wrong. I am saying, though, that if your household is anything like mine, you can do with fewer video games and more time reading, talking, and pitching in with bed-making and doing dishes.

Watch my video for more tips and thanks for watching.

Thanks for watching,

Melissa

Kids coding classes have inspired my daughter. Thoughts on coding for girls and our weekly giveaway. > More

Hiya mamas. I wouldn’t say I consider our family a techie bunch. We’re more readers and history lovers. So when a friend of mine suggested that Annaliese and her daughter take kids coding classes this past month, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Since Annaliese was game (forgive the pun), I was too.  Third-grade girls from Annaliese’s school and another school came together for four hours each Saturday for the “coding camp” and on the final day, they presented their games to a proud group of parents.

Got some girls who like to code? Describe how, when and where and enter our weekly wrap up!

girls-who-code-new-york-city

STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math — is a hot term right now. How awesome that our school is now prioritizing giving girls equal exposure to these areas. For centuries, they have been dominated by men.

Coding for Girls

For these third graders, coding means using an interface to design an interactive game. Annaliese devised a game with a horse that moved along a maze. Her game included milestones and a prize for the winner. In the midst of her presentation, her game stopped suddenly and the teacher pointed out that she needed to go back to her code to fix the glitch. All part of the learning.

kids-who-code

kids-coding-nyc

Whenever an opportunity arises for your kids to get out of the house and learn, grab it, even if the activity in question is one they’ve never done before.

Thanks so much for reading and make sure to enter our giveaway below.

Gratefully,

Melissa

Weekly Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Amazon gift card.

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, March 5, 2018 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Weekly Amazon Giveaway

How to wear over the knee boots plus a fun night out in this week's fashion post plus Zara giveaway. > More

Hiya fashionista mamas. I’m a big fan of over the knee boots. I have two pairs of black boots that go over the knee, both suede — one with flat heels and the other with high-heels — and I find I live in them during the winter for evenings out. They look nice, plus they keep your legs nice and warm. It isn’t always easy to figure out, though, how to wear these thigh-high boots. They don’t really work over jeans, nor thick pants, and you have to be careful in your selection of skirt or dress.

What Kind of  Dress to Wear with Thigh High Boots

Last Thursday night, my boys’ school held a Parent’s Reception in their new building. My friend Patty was one of the event organizers so I knew I wanted to be there to support her. I feel like I wear the same dresses over and over so I decided to try for something new.How to Wear Over the Knee BootsHow Do I get Thigh High Boots to Stay UpI took a simple crew-neck black sweater, a stretchy black skater’s skirt from Club Monaco, and these funky, purple velvet over the knee boots from Zara. I added a purple plastic ring and some garnet-colored drop earrings. The purple theme complete, I was ready to go.Over the Knee Boots Outfit What Kind of Dress Do I Wear with Thigh High BootsA friend asked me “how do you get those thigh-high boots to stay up?” This pair from Zara was pretty steady but I did have to pull them up a few times during the course of the evening. When they fell, though, the wrinkles looked kind of fun, too. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Another nice way to wear these boots is to pair them with a long dress. You won’t show off the “thigh-high” part, but your legs will be warm and your calves will look spectacular.

Thanks for reading and check back in next week for another fashion post.

Melissa

Zara Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $50 Zara gift card.

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, March 26, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Zara Giveaway

Worried about your baby reaching developmental milestones? My two cents in today's new video. > More

A mom wrote in asking “why isn’t my baby reaching milestones.” I ponder her concerns and give some tips in today’s new video.

Mama, your first concern is that your baby is not sitting up for long periods of time. He sits up but then lurches backward. He does not crawl. And he despises tummy time.

When to Worry about Baby Not Reaching Milestoneswhy isn't my baby reaching milestones

As I share in the video, I had many and recurrent concerns about my babies not reaching their milestones. All of my kids sat up late, crawled late, walked late and talked late. It was so stressful. I remember hanging out with my new mom friends and feeling a growing pit of dread in my stomach, so concerned was I that there was something wrong with my baby.

If this pit has landed in your stomach, check with your doctor and ask him what a normal range is for these developmental milestones. Then, ask him what you can do to encourage your baby to grow stronger.

Here are some ideas, and watch my video for more details:

tummy time. Try lying on the floor yourself on your back and putting your baby in tummy time on your own stomach.

-if your baby likes being on his tummy, try encouraging your baby to reach for things to encourage crawling

-try gently pushing your baby off on his own with your hands.

-make sure you create a safe environment in which your baby can explore freely.

For more tips, watch my video. Stay calm, get all the information you need, and remember: the most important thing is to love and support your baby, the rest will fall into place.

Gratefully,

Melissa

Motherhood is hard, so here are 10 cool ways to help out a new mom in your life! > More

Hello everyone! Today’s topic is one that is near and dear to my heart – helping a new mom. After having each of my five children, I was so grateful for all of my wonderful friends and family who offered to help me out. Taking care of a newborn is hard and helping hands are always welcome. So here’s a list of ways I found were helpful for me as a new mother that could inspire you!

How to Help a New Mother10 Ways to Help a New Mom

  1. Offer to run errands: With a very young baby in the house, it can be hard for a new  mom to make it out the door for even the simplest of errands. I thought it was so nice when my friends would call or text saying they were at the store and were wondering if I needed anything. Even having a friend pick up simple milk or eggs for you can be a huge help!
  2. Provide reading materials: Breastfeeding a new baby is a tough job. Hours and hours are spent sitting down to nurse or pump. Give the new mom in your life the gift of a good distraction by providing fun books or magazines to read while she’s nursing. And if you don’t want to choose for her, get her a gift card so she can buy her own!
  3. Stock up on snacks: If you’re wondering what to bring a new mom, food is always a good option. I remember my friends would bring over healthy granola bars, dried fruits, and even fun foods like frozen pizza or cookies to help keep me energized and feeling satisfied. It is so hard to find the time to whip up fancy snacks or meals as a new mom, so these ready to eat foods were the perfect gift!
  4. Offer to help around the house: I was so appreciative of friends and family who took the time out of their day to help with little things around the house. When my husband had to work, it could get pretty lonely in the house without adult contact. It was nice to have someone to talk to (and who could talk back!) while I ran errands around the house like folding laundry or whipping up dinner.
  5. Help her get outside: It can be quite monotonous stuck inside all day with a screaming baby. Help relieve some of her cabin fever by offering to help get her and her family out and about. This can be as easy as just offering to dress her other children (if she has them) and pack some on the go snacks. Everyone needs an extra hand once in awhile with a stroller, offer to take it off her hands for a bit when going for a walk or even running errands.
  6. Babysit her (other) kids: Take some of the stress off her hands by offering to take care of her other children for a day. Everyone will be happier. The new mom in your life can focus on meeting her new infant’s needs and the other, older kids will have free time to laugh and play at their leisure in a different house, rather than having to patiently wait out another diaper changing session or nursing stint. I remember when my fifth child, Marielle, was born, it was always a blessing when someone offered to take the four older ones out of the house. Made for some good quality one-on-one time with my little angel, too.
  7. Be available: Whether you’re next door or across town, reassure your friend that she can count on you for anything that comes your way. It was so reassuring knowing that my friends and family were just a phone call away and could get to my place even in the wee hours of the morning if an emergency presented itself.
  8. Rock-a-bye Baby: As much as you love your little one, sometimes it feels so good to get your baby off your hands (literally) for even a little bit. I had wonderful friends who would come over and offer to rock the baby for a bit while I took a (much-needed) hot shower or took a (much-needed) nap. You’ll feel rejuvenated and excited when you see your new baby again!
  9. Keep Clean: Offer to help clean around the house while she handles the newborn. Or, pay for a one-time cleaning by a reputable home cleaning service. She will be eternally grateful! Also, speaking of cleaning, don’t forget to thoroughly wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before holding the baby.
  10. Ask: When in doubt of what the new mother needs, ask her. Maybe she’s craving a certain food from the store or just needs someone to listen to while she vents. No act of kindness is too small when it comes to helping out a new mom and you will be so appreciated!

Motherhood - Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.Do you have any rules for visiting a new mom that you would like to share? Comment below with yours!

Looking for a list on pregnancy food no-no's? Here are 10 foods to avoid during pregnancy! > More

Hello, hello!
If you’re like me during my five pregnancies, you were fighting off cravings left and right! While they are tempting, there are definitely foods to avoid during pregnancy, and here’s an easy list of pregnancy food no-no’s to keep in mind when you’re expecting.

What Not to Eat when You’re Pregnant10 Foods to Avoid when You're Pregnant

  1. Caffeine: Sorry to all those coffee and tea-lovers out there, you’ll have to kick the habit when you’re expecting. Caffeine can actually work as a diuretic and lead to lower birth weight. Because it can be found in teas, coffees, and even chocolate, it’s best to read the labels before consuming anything that might contain caffeine!
  2. Unwashed Produce: Unless properly washed and peeled, eating produce can lead to ingesting harmful pesticides, which can cause considerable damage to your fetus! Beware and be hyper-vigilant when it comes to washing before eating.
  3. Unpasteurized Dairy Products: These dairy products may contain listeria, so before picking up milk or cheese at the store, check that it’s been properly pasteurized.
  4. Seafood high in Mercury: Eating fish high in mercury, like shark or swordfish, can put your baby at risk for developmental delays and brain damage. Check out this site for more info on which fish and seafood to avoid.
  5. Raw/Undercooked Eggs: Mmmm I love runny eggs. So it was hard to give them up during my five pregnancies. However, eating raw or under-cooked eggs, or even foods that contain raw eggs like mousse, cakes, and mayo, can lead to salmonella poisoning, resulting in diarrhea and vomiting.
  6. Leftovers: Sorry mamas, these foods can yield bacteria growth, even if properly stored in a fridge. The best thing for you and your baby is to eat fresh and well-cooked foods using clean utensils.
  7. Raw Vegetable Sprouts: Sure, they’re packed with vitamins and minerals, but raw sprouts can be hiding harmful viruses and bacteria. Wash and cook them properly before consumption.
  8. Processed junk food: Eating junk food is not recommended, whether we’re pregnant or not. But if you’re expecting, they should really be avoided as they can
  9. Undercooked/raw meat: Avoid uncooked seafood and rare or undercooked beef as they can put you at risk of contamination by bacteria and salmonella. Check my site here for info on safe meats and proteins to eat during pregnancy.
  10. Alcohol: Sure, this one seems like a no-brainer. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to more likely premature birth, birth defects, and fetal alcohol syndrome. You might think that one glass of wine is ok, but according to the Surgeon General, there is “no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.” It’s just not worth the risk, mamas.

Not every day of pregnancy is easy, but every day brings me closer to you!I hope this list serves as a healthy reminder to avoid these foods as much as possible. For more pregnancy do’s and don’ts, make sure you talk to your doctor before starting your pregnancy diet! What were your favorite foods that you had to give up during pregnancy? Comment below!

Happy and healthy pregnancies, mamas!

Traveling with kids soon? Check out my top 10 family travel tips that will hopefully make it easier! > More

Hello, hello!

Today’s topic is one that most parents probably dread – traveling with kids. As much as I love them, it is certainly overwhelming traveling internationally to places like Spain and France with my 5 kids on a plane and sometimes with no hubby to help. But somehow we all survived and here’s the travel vlog to prove it! Whether you’re planning for international travel with kids or a family road trip, read below for some tried and true tips for easier family travel.
10 tips on plane travel with children

My Top 10 Family Travel Tips

  1. Be Prepared : Double (and triple) check your flight status and gate number, pack your bags and passports to TSA regulations well in advance, and know beforehand who is responsible for carrying what through the airport. With five kids, it was nice that I wasn’t stuck dragging all of the suitcases…my two oldest boys were happy to help!
  2. E-Boarding Passes : This one was a life-saver! We saved so much time by not having to check in and print out our boarding passes there. And the lines to check in our bags were miraculously short. Definitely worth printing the boarding passes at home!
  3. Remind them about security rules : Before snaking through security lines with the kiddies, remind them of the rules about taking their shoes off, putting their belongings on the moving conveyor belt, and of course, not making “bomb” jokes under any circumstance.
  4. Liquids and carry-ons : Make sure you’re familiar with the TSA 3-1-1 guidelines and the carry-on regulations for your airline, but don’t be afraid to carry on as much formula and breast milk as you need for your little one! Also, bring extra snacks for your other children as some flights, even longer ones, don’t offer food service on board.
  5. Ignore your fellow passengers : This one was a toughy for me. As soon as we boarded the plane, the folks near us immediately started grumbling about my five kids and talking about needing earplugs. It can be so disheartening to find yourself in a situation where the people around you are so unwelcoming! But, I got my sweet revenge because my five kiddies were absolutely a delight – thank goodness! It’s best in these situations to focus on yourself and your family’s needs, not on the grumpy passengers around you!
  6. Safety First : Airports can be daunting for little ones. Make sure your kids stay with you at all times and, if they are older, like my boys were, have them carry their passport in a secure pack around their neck. I wanted them to practice that for later trips. Give your kids instructions for what to do if you do happen to lose sight of each other (God forbid!) and make sure they know your phone number in case they get lost.
  7. Set ground rules : Before taking off, it was good to remind my children of some basic rules when it comes to flying. First, there was no kicking the seat in front of you, keeping your voices relatively quiet, and helping out a sibling if they needed anything. With five kids in two rows of seats, it was hard to keep an eye on everyone at once, but I felt better knowing they knew what I expected from them.
  8. Screen time : Usually I am a big stickler about limiting TV time at home, but when it comes to flying, those rules went out the window! It was nice for my kids to be able to plug in their headphones and watch their favorite movies on the plane. It definitely kept them quiet and distracted for a while!
  9. Bring activities : Once your kids are settled in for the long flight or car ride, bring out the books! My boys love to read, and my girls loved having sticker books to play with. Again, a great activity that will keep them relatively quiet and distracted.
  10. Sleep : This one was tough. Even though we had our own pillows and blankets, finding a comfortable position to get to sleep was hard. I got very little sleep on the way to Spain and it was a mixed bag for my kids. I decided to forego an afternoon nap (*gasp*) and put them to bed early that night. It seemed to do them some good. We all got a decent amount of sleep and were ready for the next day!

Any more tips on traveling with kids on a plane or by car? Let me know in the comments below! Also, I would love to hear any memorable stories from your trips with your kiddies!

CloudMom says "thanks mom" in our annual giveaway. Click through for cute gift ideas and to enter. > More

Well, Mother’s Day came and went this past Sunday, but so frantic was I with two family confirmations and my high school reunion that I did not manage to get our annual Mother’s Day giveaway out in time. But rest assured, I would never give up on you special people when it comes to Mother’s Day! SO, we might be a few days late, but not to worry. This year, in tribute to our mamas, as a way to say “thanks mom” for all each of you do everyday – and to welcome in Spring — we’re launching an amazing giveaway here on CloudMom!

First up, from our lovely sponsor Tara Wilson Designs — who, as a mom of two boys, knows intuitively what moms like – a large silver box and medium box ($360 value!). Both make wonderful display boxes for photos and special items. Tara Wilson Design’s sleek yet classic items match with any decor, and allow you to bring your children’s faces into your everyday surroundings. If you’re ever on the lookout for cute gift ideas, check out her other trays, frames, and boxes here.

tara wilson designs boxes

Next, to keep mama feeling good and looking fit, a $100 gift certificate from our loyal sponsor Onzie Yogawear. Onzie’s vibrant yet comfortable leggings and tops will take you from the yoga studio into your day with aplomb. You’ll feel modern, fresh and fearless in these colorful patterns. Plus the soft fabric of Onzie’s looks ensures ease and comfort.

onzie yogawear

Next up, from another loyal sponsor Helen Ficalora, a sterling silver charm necklace (ARV $115) that just says MOM. What more is there to say in tribute to you?

sterling silver MOM charm necklace by Helen Ficalora

Lastly, a $50 Amazon gift card so mom can treat herself to whatever she wants.

$50 Amazon gift card

You deserve any piece of goodness coming your way, mama, so enter below! I’m crossing my fingers for each of you hoping that you win.

Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

Thanks so much for following CloudMom and check back in soon for more!

Gratefully,

Melissa

“Thanks Mom” Giveaway

Prize(s):

$600+ prize package that includes:

  • $360 Tara Wilson Designs Silver Box Set
  • $115 Helen Ficalora Sterling Silver “MOM” Necklace
  • $100 Onzie Yoga Apparel Gift Card
  • $50 Amazon Gift Card

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, June 19, 2017 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Thank You Mom Giveaway

Discussing cow's milk sensitivity and the benefits of goat's milk plus enter our giveaway with Kabrita! > More

This post is brought to you by Kabrita goat milk food products.

Recently many moms and dads have written in asking me “is goat milk good for babies?” Well, the answer is a hearty YES and today I’m thrilled to introduce a terrific product to you all, Kabrita goat milk food products. Kabrita makes goat milk formula for babies aged 12-24 months and goat milk yogurt and fruit for babies in handy, portable pouches which babies can enjoy as of 6 months of age. I talk about the advantages of goat’s milk formula in today’s new video.

benefits of goat milk giveaway

Have a little one who’s suffering from constipation, asthma, ear infections, bloating, gas or eczema? Enter our giveaway below to win a generous basket of Kabrita products.

Goat Milk vs Cow Milk

Goat milk protein forms a smaller, softer, and looser curd in the gut than cow milk. And, it is degraded faster than cow milk protein. For some children, cow milk protein may be difficult to digest and may cause mild to moderate symptoms such as colic, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, chronic congestion, recurrent ear infections, and eczema.Allow me to sing you the song of my people.Naturally easy to digest, and delicious to boot, KABRITA goat milk foods are naturally easy to digest and may be a solution for the symptoms that may be associated with cow milk sensitivity. KABRITA goat milk is produced in The Netherlands, one of the leading producers of goat milk globally, and locally at America’s first Non-GMO Project Verified goat milk dairy farm.goat milk vs cow milkKabrita goat milk formula also is fortified with 22 vitamins and minerals, providing babies aged 12-24 months with exactly the nutrition they require at this age. Ordinary goat milk, rice milk, or soy milk are not appropriate for babies this age because they do not contain these nutrients.
is goat milk good for babies - KabritaSO, with all that data in front of your mommy or daddy eyes, why not give goat milk formula and goat milk yogurt a try? You’ll be happy you did.Happiness is knowing your baby is no longer experiencing tummy issues.Oh, and don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win a generous basket of goodies from our lovely sponsor Kabrita.

Thanks for watching.

Melissa

Kabrita Giveaway

Prize: A $440 prize package from Kabrita that includes:Kabrita giveaway prizes

  1. A case (12) of KABRITA Goat Milk Formula. Powder.  (ARV $239.99)
  2. A case (12) of KABRITA Whole Goat Milk Powder (ARV $156.99)
  3. A case of KABRITA Goat Milk Yogurts (6 pouches of each flavour) (ARV $43.99)

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, May 29, 2017 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Kabrita Goat Milk Formula Giveaway

This is a sponsored post. CloudMom received monetary compensation for this post. The ideas expressed in this post are my own.

A Club Monaco sweater dress provided coziness on a snow day and a needed break from family tensions. > More

We’re celebrating the reliably-hip brand Club Monaco this week and honoring the versatile sweater dress, a great option for moms that work at and away from home.

This week’s post includes a simple variation from last week’s dress outfit, consisting of a black Club Monaco sweater dress with knee high boots. For this week, I matched a blue turtleneck sweater dress with a white belt to give the dress some definition and the outfit some color contrast.club monaco navy dressThrowing my hair up in a casual twist made for another small change. Mamas, always look for small ways to change and adapt your look. Although these changes are tiny, they help keep life different and fun. Even changing your earrings or your perfume can do the trick. It’s all in how you feel!club monaco sweater dressclub monaco navy sweater dressMy comfy Stuart Weitzman black over-the-knee suede boots completed the look. If you’re wondering how to style knee high boots, try tight-fitting leggings with a long loose blouse, shirt skirts or dresses like this one.club monacoTurning away from the fashion for just a bit, a blizzard hit New York today and the kids are home. Snow days can be L-O-N-G. I remember my mother packaging us up and tossing us outside for most of our snow days, asking us to move logs of wood from our barn to outside the door. Another “trick” she employed was claiming to bake a cheesecake which, she claimed, would crack should we kids open the door to re-enter. Smart, right? Well, since we live in an apartment, we can’t simply throw the kids outside. Snow days run long, and tempers can run thin.

One parenting expert I know recommends sitting down and drinking 10 glasses of water when you’re about to lose your temper. Getting to the 10th glass is unlikely, but by the third, you’re likely calmer and more adroit at handling the situation that confronts you.

Add to this tidbit of parenting advice the technique I tried right before writing this post. With one of my children in a full-on fit, I went into my bathroom, breathed deeply, and gave myself 10 minutes to get dressed, put on makeup, and do my hair. I emerged a new mama, refreshed and ready to resolve the strife.

Keep your cool. Take time to yourself. Splurge once in awhile. Life with kids is forever complicated — strive to be happy.

Thanks for reading,

Melissa

Club Monaco Card Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $50 Club Monaco gift card.
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, April 17, 2017 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Club Monaco Gift Card Giveaway

Tips on preparing for a second baby, how to avoid sibling jealousy and more in this video. > More

Thirty-four week pregnant Priscilla wrote in with concerns over the upcoming arrival of her second baby. Priscilla’s older child being five and having been royalty in the home for the entirely to her five-year-long life, Priscilla asked me: “how will I love this child as much?”, “how will I balance caring for two children so different in age?”, and “will my older child suffer?” I answer her questions and talk generally about having a second baby and making it work for the first child in today’s video.
Will I Love Baby #2 As Much?Priscilla, I love your questions, and I’m honored to attempt to answer them. Although my first two came a mere 13 months apart, I did struggle with and worry about my time with each child and I do have some tips.

First, some observations on why this situation is such a big deal for parents and kids. Let’s face it, your older child’s world has been rocked to the core. My husband tells a funny analogy. It’s like being married and then one day your husband comes home and says “honey, I have another new wife, but I love you just as much.” In all seriousness, when you think about it, that is how the arrival of a new baby can feel to an older child. When my second, Lachlan, arrived his older brother Hedley didn’t crack a smile for a few weeks. At only 13 months, he sensed that the entire household had changed and that a competitor for his parents attention was on the scene.

Helping Older Siblings Cope with the New Baby

That being said, I have two main tips for dealing with the emotions of older children when a new baby arrives in the house. First, once the new baby comes, carve out special dedicated time with your older child. Bring them to school, to the park, to an activity, and carve out reading time for them. Look at this time as an investment in your relationship. The more secure your older child feels, the more happy and pleasant he will be, the fewer tantrums you’ll have to field, and the more easily joyful times you’ll have down the line. Spending dedicated time with your older child reassures them and reduces sibling jealousy.
Siblings: Your only enemy that you can't live without.Number two, involve your older child in taking care of the younger baby by making him or her your first lieutenant. Ask them to do small tasks like bring you diapers and wipes. Allow them to do gentle pats. When you do the bath, depending on your older child’s age, encourage him to wash the feet. Make your older child feel as if your younger child is allowing for more rather than less time with their parents, rather than taking their parents away. Making your older child an active participant in the care of your younger child encourages responsibility and reduces sibling rivalry, since the older child steps into the role of a caregiver and out of that of a rival.

In terms of loving your baby, our love is infinite and only deepens with time. We have enough room in our hearts for as many babies as the world bestows upon us. Just make sure you take care of yourself while you’re busy giving out all that love.

For more tips, watch today’s video. Oh, and here’s a video I filmed when Marielle was a little baby on what worked for me then.

Thanks so much for reading!

Melissa

Your kids will love these healthy after-school snack ideas! > More

Hello, hello!

As a busy mom of five, it seems like my kids are always running from school to one activity or another. They barely have enough time to eat dinner before going to bed! But eating healthy is important for my growing boys. So I’ve been thinking about healthy after-school snacks for on-the-go that my kids could take with them to their activities. For my list of snacks to fuel your tween, read on!
10 Healthy Snacks for Tweens

10 Easy Snacks for your Healthy Family

  1. Layered Hummus Dip : Serve this hummus alongside pita bread, tomatoes, and carrots, and you have a perfectly balanced after-school treat.
  2. Turkey Pinwheels : Opt for these adorable mini sandwiches when your kids get home. The protein in the cheese and turkey will keep them going until dinner is served!
  3. Ants on a Log : This classic never goes out of style. Even though my boys are older, they still love the celery, peanut butter, and raisin combo!
  4. Banana pops : Opt for bananas or almost any fruit. Blend their favorite fruits in a blender, fill a few ice pop molds, and wait overnight. A cold pick-me-up for after school that you can feel good about!
  5. Granola, Yogurt, and Berry Parfaits : Sounds fancy, but it’s actually super easy to make! My kids love them, and I know yours will, too!
  6. PB&J Bites : Your kids will love this new twist on an old classic! And you’ll feel better knowing that the peanut butter, quinoa, and oats will keep them energized until dinner.
  7. Organic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies : This is one of my family’s favorite recipes. They are delicious and I don’t feel as guilty about them because they’re organic and filled with healthy oats!
  8. Leftovers : Never underestimate the power of leftovers. Especially if you kept extras from a healthy dinner or lunch the other day, a small serving would make a great after-school snack!
  9. Peanut Butter Dip : Easy to make and easy to eat! Served with apple slices, celery sticks, or pretzels, your kids will love mixing and matching at snack time.
  10. Homemade trail mix : These are perfect for little baggies to take anywhere! Customize them to your kids’ tastes, but as a suggestion, combine 1 cup whole-grain toasted oat cereal with 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup dried cranberries for a healthy alternative.

healthy snacks pie chart

Hope you’ve enjoyed these healthy snack ideas! Comment below with your own!