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

A mean teacher is blaming her class for her stress and resulting medications. Sharing my thoughts! > More

Just in time for back to school, a mom wrote in lamenting her child’s current school problems. Her child is inheriting her teacher from last year. Meanwhile, the teacher has told her 5th grade class that she takes a myriad of medications for stress caused by the class! This poor mama is asking: what should I do? Should I discuss the situation with the teacher? Write her a note?

How to Handle a Mean Teacher

I have the highest regard for teachers. Teachers must keep a class in order, stimulate children to learn, and accommodate various learning styles. We have this Norman Rockwell-like image of a complacent class taking notes and smiling with clean, shiny faces but that image is far from the reality. Kids are coming into school these days from all sorts of environments. Discipline problems at schools run rampant and respectful behavior is too often lacking on the part of our students.

So an oversized hat goes off to our amazing teachers. Yet in this case, a teacher is clearly suffering from immense psychological stress and taking it out on the kids. This mom asked me what to do, and I give my advice in today’s new video.

Hat’s off to you, mama, and thanks for writing in to explain your situation.

Gratefully,

Why doing things that scare you will make you happier plus our weekly giveaway! > More

None of us like to confront difficulty. We instinctively feel more comfortable with what we know and with what we know how to do. Think of how comforting it is to have someone proclaim you an “expert” in some area. The opposite of this is a fledgling, a newbie, someone who is lost and less adept at the task at hand. Nobody wants to be that person.

That said, I have been finding that there’s a tremendous value in doing the things that scare you most. Doing things that scare you will make you happier because simply put, you feel darn good about yourself when you overcome a challenge.

On my recent trip to see my close friend Sarah (mother of seven!) and her family in Brittany, France I witnessed first hand the value of doing difficult things. Sarah and her family are huge walkers: they have walked for days across areas of France and Italy. No terrain gives them pause. On my first morning, Sarah suggested a picnic on the beach. I put on my sneakers and hat and off we went.

Little did I know that getting to the beach meant climbing over a series of enormous rocks that went on for about half an hour. Below appears  Sarah’s unflappable mom Anne (my beloved French mother) making her way across the stones. Let me note that she wasn’t even wearing sneakers!

climbing rocks in France

At first, I said to myself “no way!” I gingerly wrapped my way around the first rock and looked back, thinking of withdrawing from the group. I considered how easy it would be to fall and break a knee, hip or even a tooth. Then, I took my eye of the landscape and focused on just the rock ahead. Step by step, rock by rock, I made my way. Sarah’s little boys skipped over the rocks as if they were running on a flat carpet, so accustomed were they to this type of landscape.

I fell into a trance, not thinking, not questioning, just doing. Just getting there. A human body walking over rocks. Part of a group of people I love dearly but single in the effort it took.

Once I forgot about how difficult the walk was, I enjoyed it. Two hours later, we had made it over rocks, wet sand, grassy marshes and landed onto a gorgeous beach where the rest of our group met us with a picnic. We feasted on cheese, avocado, ham, bread, chocolate bars and looked out to the rough sea. The kids and Sarah took a dip. I sat in the sun, exhilarated, proud.

rocks in France

Brittany France

beach in France

rocks

The next morning, I woke up and guess what I did? I took the same walk by myself. Challenge makes us stronger. It lifts our spirits because we realize how capable we are. We feel whole and complete. That day, the walk seemed a little tricky, but I didn’t even give it a second thought. Returning home three hours later, though, I was more than ready for lunch!

walk in France

Do something today that petrifies you. When you come out on the other side, you won’t be the same person. That’s growth.

Life beings at the end of your comfort zone.

Sending love,

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 August, July 27, 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

Tips on home organization for back to school. > More

Hey mamas. Melissa here, mother of five and expert back-to-school guru (haha!). Leaving summer behind to start the school year can be stressful and hectic. Get ahead of the chaos and reduce stress by organizing your kids and home beforehand. Here’s how I plan to get my kids ready for the new school year, so as to make back to school 2018 a breeze!

5 Organizational Tips for Back to School

1. Clean Out the Closet

Every morning, your child will go to their closet to select an outfit (or clean uniform) for the day. This process costs more time if it is not easy-peasy, so make it quicker by clearing out old clothes and shoes. Pick a day towards the end of summer during which you and your child go through her closet, making “donate,” “throw away,” and “keep” piles. Going through her clothing and shoes will help you get rid of unnecessary clutter, reorganize their closet, and feel refreshed and ready to start the new school year.

2. Make a Family Calendar

In my experience, keeping the schedules of five children straight requires keeping everything perfectly noted and in the same place! A few years ago I began buying big desk calendars and hanging them on the wall in my kitchen. Each member of the family has their own colored marker, which they will use to write down events, assignments, or activities to remember. Now at a glance I can see what each of us has to do on a given day and for the entire month. You can make this calendar’s cute, like a decor piece, by adding stickers, a frame, or anything else you want. You can also create a shared family calendar online by using a shared gmail calendar. Whatever works for you: just keep it in one place and make sure everyone has easy access to your home organization system. 

3. Create a “Homework Zone”

Even if each of your children does not have his own room, each child should have a designated space to do his homework after school. Whether it be a desk or shared table, give your child a sense of ownership over their space. Let them decorate the area and stock it with school supplies, so that they will be excited to do homework there each afternoon. Designating an area for schoolwork will also help your child stay organized, because all of their work will be in one place and decrease the probability of losing papers or assignments. Keeping your child’s homework area organized will translate to good habits regarding school organization,as well. 

4. Establish a Routine

The hardest part of back to school for me is the transition from loads of free time to a daily routine of school, activities, and appointments. I like to get my kids used to the school routine a day or two before the year begins. Going to sleep a little earlier, turning off electronics, and waking up at a reasonable hour makes the adjustment smoother by easing them into the routine.

5. Stash Supplies

You never know when your child is going to come home with a project to do, and there may not always be time to shop for supplies. I combat this stress by having a drawer in my home filled with poster board, glue sticks, glitter and other art supplies we have needed over the years for projects. Now, when my kids have to do a book report quickly, I reach for the supplies in this drawer and they can get started working right away. Trips to the craft store will still happen, but they will be much less frequent if you buy a few extra of everything to have on hand during the year. Back to school supplies shopping isn’t just for what your kids need in September; think ahead to what they will need during the year. 

The school year lurks right around the corner. I hope these simple organizational tips will make your family’s transition from summer easier, combat the back to school blues and settle your family into the groove of back to school.

Let me know how you get your family ready for school in the comments below. Thanks for reading and best of luck for a fabulous school year!

Does putting cereal in your baby's bottle help them sleep at night? My thoughts in today's new video. > More

A mom wrote in asking about her 9 month old baby who won’t sleep, wondering if putting cereal in her baby’s bottle is a good idea. My thoughts in today’s new video.

Does Cereal in Bottle Help Baby Sleep?

Helping 9 Month Old Baby Sleep

First up, how to make a 9 month old baby sleep! It’s a subject I’ve tackled again and again since I get so many questions from viewers whose babies are not sleeping. We’ve all been there! My mantra is: regular feedings during the day (every three hours for a breastfed baby and every four for a formula fed baby); make sure baby is awake and full; and try a “top-off” feed at 10pm-11pm at night. When you stick to this sort of schedule, sooner or later the baby begins to do longer stints at night because the baby is awake for much of the day and consuming the majority of her calories during the day.

Does Cereal in Bottle Help Baby Sleep?

Now on to the issue of putting cereal in a bottle, which I thank you for, mama, since I’ve never been asked this question before. Meanwhile, my own mother did this, as did generations of mothers who had begun to bottle feed their babies. However, as appealing as this idea might seem, it is a “no no.” I went to Dr. Greene for the reasons why, and walk through his points step by step in the video.

How was your baby doing at 9 months of age? Weigh in below and thanks so much for watching.

Gratefully,

Melissa

 

Toledo is a must see that offers a valuable lesson for our kids on cultural and religious tolerance. > More

Hello all! Two weeks ago, I took the speed train from Barcelona to Madrid with my three boys. The day we arrived, we visited the Reina Sofia museum and saw Picasso’s Guernica, perhaps the most well-known painting of the 20th century. Guernica bears witness to the atrocities committed against the Spanish people during the Spanish Civil War in the early part of the 20th century. The next day, we stepped back in time, visiting Toledo, the former capital of Spain.

Is Toledo Spain a Must See?

If your family is lucky enough to be able to travel to Spain, I highly recommend you visit Toledo. In this picturesque city set high on a mountain overlooking miles and miles of barren ground, centuries of Spanish history shine through.

Toledo, Spain

beautiful Toledo, Spain

Toledo harbors a mosque, since Arabs were here; the former synagogue Santa María la Blanca, which welcomed worshipping Jews; and an elaborate Catholic cathedral complete with paintings by famed Spanish painter, El Greco.

Built it 1180, Santa María la Blanca is considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing. Ironically, it is now owned and preserved by the Catholic church. Constructed by Islamic architects for Jewish use, it includes sparkling white walls and artistic motifs reminiscent of Moorish architecture (the architecture of North Africa and parts of Spain and Portugal where the Moors were dominant between 711 and 1492).

Spain

visit to Toledo Spain

During the Middle Ages, Jews, Christians and Arabs lived side by side in Toledo, appreciating a climate of mutual respect and religious tolerance. Sadly, that spirit did not endure. But the memory of this diverse, multi-cultural community remains.

beautiful door in Toledo

place of worship in Toledo Spain

place of worship in Toledo

Walking through Toledo’s places of worship with my boys, we thought about our current world, so filled with division and conflict. How ironic that during the Middle Ages, religions co-existed more peacefully than they do in many areas of the world today.

Toledo Spain with kids

I hope you enjoy these photos and here’s to accepting, appreciating and learning about people who don’t resemble us, who believe differently, who live differently, yet who love their children passionately as we do.

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, July 30, 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

Few baby sunscreens offer gentle protection for newborns. Top sunscreens for baby and a giveaway! > More

Hey Mamas! After stepping outside into the (gasp!) 95 degree heat this morning, I decided it was high time to share my favorite baby sunscreens for summer. As a new mom, sun safety preoccupied me and I might have even gone overboard: so nervous was I about my babies getting sunburned that I avoided the sun entirely, opting to sit in the shade or NOT go to the beach. Kind of silly when you realize that the market does not include protective baby sunscreens gentle enough for newborns. Below you’ll find five amazing sunscreens that will keep your baby protected from the sun’s harsh rays.

Top 5 Baby Sunscreens

1. Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 50)

Formulated specifically for babies, Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen goes gently on the skin. Hypoallergenic and gentle on the eyes, it offers an SPF of 50. If your baby wails over a drop of sunscreen in the eyes, this is the product for you. Purchase Pure & Free Baby here.

baby sunscreens

2.  Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream (SPF 30)

With scents of tangerine and vanilla, Badger’s Kids Sunscreen Cream includes few ingredients. Other than the obligatory zinc oxide, only sunflower oil, beeswax, and vitamin E have been added. An 100% organic sunscreen, its hypoallergenic, resists water and sweat for almost an hour, and appeals to babies with sensitive skin. Consider this resistant yet healthy brand for beach days or sweaty activities! Also consider how environmentally conscious Badger sunscreen is: even the sunscreen’s tube was recycled and biodegradable. Buy Badger here.

badger sunscreen

3. Nurture My Body Mineral Baby Sunscreen (SPF 32)

Ok, now for a fancier but still great choice. Nurture My Body formulates their baby sunscreen from just eight ingredients, including shea butter. Fragrance-free, plant based, and devoid of artificial or harmful ingredients, Nurture My Body is formulated for babies aged 0-6 months. It’s so uniquely safe that it might be worth a try despite the higher price. Try this sunscreen here.

mineral sunscreen

4. Burt’s Bees Baby Nourishing Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 30)

Burt’s Bees organic sunscreen contains coconut extract and vitamin E. Water resistant qualities ensure that you don’t have to reapply constantly (although you should reapply every two hours). A mineral sunscreen, Burt’s Bee’s Baby absorbs quickly into baby’s skin and smells lovely. Buy it here.

organic sunscreen

5. Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen (SPF 30)

An Australian company, Blue Lizard developed a special UV technology for this renowned sunscreen. When it senses harmful UV rays, the Blue Lizard bottle changes color to alert you! No more UV check-in’s on the phone. Blue Lizard is well-regarded by pediatricians for it’s safe, protective properties. I used this on my kids for years and nary a sunburn did we see. You can buy this sunscreen here.

blue lizard sunscreen

 

So there you go. These five products should give you all something to think about it. We’re giving away TWO bottles of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen to whatever sun-savvy mom gets picked as our lucky winner. Thanks for reading and see you all back soon on CloudMom.

Melissa

Baby Sunscreens Giveaway

Prize: 2 Bottles of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen (Total value = $30)

  • 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, August 20, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Baby Sunscreen Giveaway

Rock it on the beach with these hip maternity bathing suit styles that are cute, comfortable and yes, sex > More

Hey mamas! Let’s face it: bathing suits can be a tricky part of pregnancy. We all felt it: bloated, stretch-marked, and well, just not sexy. I’m here to tell you to take pride in your pregnancy body! You are growing a human being in there, and your changing body bears witness to your generosity of spirit and strength of purpose. Don’t give up on the beach nor hide yourself in a tunic. You can and will look great on the beach this summer, clad in fashionable swimwear once you find a style that suits your unique pregnant body. With that being said, check out these maternity bathing suits to find the one that works for you.

Expecting and stressed about what to wear on the beach? Enter our giveaway to win an Oceanlily Over the Belly Maternity Bikini Bottom!

1. Cache Coeur Bloom Maternity Tankini

Tankinis flatter many different body types and come in a plethora of cute styles. Some pregnant women dread the constricted feeling of a one-piece. Tankinis such as this Cache Coeur Bloom maternity tankini let your belly breathe! The strapless look highlights your shoulders, bosom, and arms, flatters your belly, and adds enough panache for you to strut your stuff! Find this tankini here.

maternity tankini

2. Oceanlily Over The Belly Maternity Bikini Bottom

The belly bikini bottom solves a few issues. The high waisted bottom keeps your belly secure, covers up stretch marks, and can be combined with any sort of top: bikini, tankini or swim shirt.  You can find these versatile bottoms here.

maternity swimwear

3. PregO Maternity Women’s Maternity Dot Roll Waist Bikini

For those looking to wear your bump with pride, maternity bikinis like this model offer a raised waist for extra support. This waist will continue to stretch throughout your trimesters, while supporting your pregnant belly. Especially designed for pregnancy, this bikini’s breast cups are soft, flexible, and can be removed for extra comfort. Meanwhile, with or without the cups, the top remains supportive and feminine. Find this bikini here.

maternity bikini

4. Motherhood Smocked Waist Maternity One Piece Swimsuit

Simply designed with an adjustable halter neck and flattering v-neckline, Motherhood one-pieces offer a classic interpretation on pregnancy swimwear. A durable nylon material supports your breasts and growing belly during pregnancy, stretching generously as you grow. The ruching along the sides of this suit lend extra character. Whereas many bathing suits lack support in the breast area and bottom, this suit addresses that, holding you in and up and making it possible for you to move freely on the beach or in the pool. Find this swimsuit here.

maternity bathing suit

5. Momo Maternity UPF 50+ One Piece Halter Swim dress

Introducing: swim dresses! Comfortable, flattering, and subbing in for a cute sundress, the swim dress speaks to the more demure among us who want to be out there while having most of it covered. With integrated UPF 50, this swim dress guarantees that only 1/50th of the sun’s rays will touch your unborn belly. Nautically-inspired and perfect for any waterside summer outing, this swim dress can be found here

pregnant bathing suit

There you have it, expecting mamas! Don’t hide your bod, but instead cherish this special time as offering some new fashion opportunities! Find a style that suits you, head on out to the beach or pool, and send a picture to me.

Enjoy. Stay healthy. Feel good. Feel pretty. There’s a baby coming! And don’t forget to enter our giveaway! 

Melissa xo

Oceanlily Maternity Swimwear Giveaway

Prize: Oceanlily Over The Belly Maternity Bikini Bottom (ARV $34.00)

  • 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, August 27, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Oceanlily Maternity Swimwear Giveaway

Asking yourself what to look for in a diaper bag? Meet one of the best diaper bag backpacks on the market > More

This is a sponsored post.

You’ve gotten some very special news. Within months, you’ll be asking yourself — among other things —  what to look for in a diaper bag. Indeed, the diaper bag is one of your most essential baby gear items.

You’ll be asking a lot from this small contraption! Your diaper bag needs to be roomy (with multiple pockets and places to put baby’s things), durable enough for rain and shine, convenient to pack and carry, and stylish to boot since you’re living with it day in and day out, toting it around with you and your baby from morning to night.

Today, I’m excited to be introducing you CloudMamas and Papas to one of the best diaper bag backpacks on the market today and announcing a generous giveaway.

Listen up: THREE lucky winners will each win one a Swish diaper bag plus your choice of a Swish Baby Head Shaping Pillow or the Swish Baby Silicone Food Freezer Tray!

Benefits of Swish Baby Diaper Backpack

best diaper bag backpack for baby

Reasonably priced, roomy yet compact, and including enough insulated pockets to house multiple bottles of milk, changes of clothing and diapers, burp cloths, your wipes dispenser (which gets its own cute side pocket), and even a spoon, the Swish Baby Diaper Bag backpack has you covered. Let’s list its features:

  • multitude of pockets
  • three insulated pockets for milk bottles
  • side pocket for wipes dispenser with a magnetic closing system
  • side insulated pocket
  • foam padded back cushion of the backpack for back pain relief
  • hidden back pocket where valuables can be stored
  • unisex diaper bag, suitable for both moms and dads
  • light-weight, fashionable yet neutral fabric
  • complimentary baby bundle that comes with the backpack (including a changing pad, pacifier clip, and insulated bottle holder).

Moms and dads balance a lot — work and parenting, family and friends, household duties and lunches in the park with new parent friends. You need a bag that works for you, making it all easy. That’s the Swish.

swish baby diaper bag backpack

Here’s a nifty diagram of the Swish Baby Diaper Bag’s features, which you’ll see up close in my video above.

swish baby backpack diaper bag review

Lightweight and clad in neutral, modern fabrics that go well with what you’ve got going on, the Swish doesn’t miss a beat. When you’re sporting a bag like this, neither will you.

Three lucky winners with be awarded a Swish Baby Diaper Bag Backpack plus their choice of: a Swish Baby Head Shaping Pillow or the Swish Baby Silicone Food Freezer Tray.

Swish Baby has graciously given us a discount code for CloudMom readers! Use the code DSJK3948 for 25% off your purchase!

Thanks so much for watching and make sure to enter our giveaway below. I’m crossing my fingers for each one of you awesome mamas and papas to win!

Melissa

Swish Baby Giveaway

Prize: Three (3) winners will each win one (1)  Swish Baby diaper bag (ARV $39.99) + your choice of a Swish Baby Head Shaping Pillow ($25.95) or the Swish Baby Silicone Food Freezer Tray ($14.95)!
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, August 6, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

This is a sponsored post. CloudMom received monetary compensation for this post. The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own. 
Swish Baby Backpack Diaper Bag Giveaway

Answering questions from a viewer about a 6 month old baby's sleep schedule and catnapping! > More

A mom wrote in asking about her 6-month-old baby’s sleep schedule with the perennial question: should I wake my baby up, or just feed him when he wakes. Mama, you’re asking the right person. I might not have all the right answers, but I have spent countless days and nights pondering the same question. So I definitely have a lot to say!
Should I wake my baby up?
By 6 months, if you are following a schedule, the way I did, your baby’s day might look something like this: 7 am feed, nap, 11am feed, nap, 3pm feed, nap, 7pm feed, nap. Now, the question for babies this age becomes: what happens between 7pm and 7am the next morning? You say your baby is not “catnapping,” but rather sleeping from around 8pm to 2am, at which point you are doing a nighttime feed. You baby then goes back to sleep and you feed him again come morning.
OK, so this is definitely one way to go, and a lot of moms do this. On the plus side, you are giving your baby consistent feedings and also making sure your breast milk production stays robust during the course of the night. However, this schedule can be exhausting since it cuts your night into two chunks: you might be able to sleep from say 10-2, and then from 3-7, but that’s tiring. I found that I much preferred waking my baby up for a “top off” feed at 10pm or 11pm and then going to bed with my fingers crossed that he would sleep through to the next day. Once my babies had the maturity to sleep through the night following this schedule, I myself could sleep from 11 or 12-7am, and suddenly, my bleary eyes cleared and my crabbiness subsided — ha ha.

When can you let your baby sleep through the night without feeding?

So my answer to this question is — and you have to visit your doctor to make sure your baby is growing on schedule — as soon as they can! The way to get babies to sleep through the night, in my book, is to feed them consistently during the day so that they are awake for much of the day and consuming the calories they need during the day. I have tons of videos about this, so check them out!
That dreaded moment when you put down a sleeping baby and your hand is trapped under him and you would rather saw your arm off than risk waking him.
Thanks so much for watching and best of luck getting your ZZZ’s.

Experiencing pregnancy nausea? Here are five home remedies for morning sickness that worked for me! > More

Hi there mamas. Although very common in the early months of pregnancy, morning sickness can be hard to remedy. I had it a lot with my first and second pregnancies and for some reason, less with pregnancies three-five. I remember feeling so overtaken with nausea that I had to run away to the bathroom. The five tips I set forth in this video are the ones that really helped me – and I hope they help you too!

5 Tips for Morning Sickness

5 remedies for morning sickness

Number one — and I know I say this a lot — stay hydrated. Eight tall glasses of water a day. I would try to avoid sugary sodas, lemonades or anything with artificial sweeteners – not healthy enough for you right now. When in doubt, drink a glass of water. This will help alleviate the morning sickness and is heathly for your pregnancy anyway.

Number two, consider putting together an “emergency pack” with fresh scents, toothpaste and toothbrush (in case you do get sick), or even a scented hand lotion. Anything that can lift your spirits and help you feel clean and fresh.

Continuing on the scent front, nice-smells can work wonders. Ginger, for example, is said to be one of the most effective treatments for morning sickness. You can cut up pieces of root ginger and suck on them, or mix ginger in with your food.

For more tips, check out today’s video and please weigh in with your own.

Thanks for watching!

Ideas on how to celebrate a teenager's birthday in this week's wrap up and giveaway. > More

Hi there everyone. As my kids have gotten older, finding fun things to do for their birthdays has proved more challenging. The small home party with a movie and pizza has become a tougher sale. Meanwhile, the bigger class-wide party at a bowling alley or nearby soccer school has come to seem “babyish.”

When my kids were in their early years of grade school, I tried to include their entire class in parties. So we held low-budget parties at places that could accommodate larger groups. Think your local kids gym, soccer school, bakery or crafts studio. You name in and — amongst my five — we tried it.

During my boys’ Middle School years, we have held parties with groups of around 4-6 boys. We either took the boys to the park for basketball or soccer and then to our local Chinese restaurant, or to our local movie theater and then to dinner nearby. Our neighborhood theatre offers cushioned, reclining seats so you can imagine that after a long week, settling into one of these seats in a nice cool environment with popcorn and a box of candy was an attractive prospect!

As my kids have approached the end of Middle School, and my oldest hits High School near year, we have tried to reduce the party size even more and come up new, more exciting plans suited to our boys’ interests.

This year, Hedley and Lachlan each invited three friends and we went to a NYCFC soccer game! It was a blast for all. Marc found the tickets online for about $40/each and look how great these seats were. Soccer in the US still lags in popularity behind baseball and basketball so the tickets tend to be more affordable. Take this into account when planing sports outings with your boys.

fun place to go for teenage birthday

How to Celebrate a Teenager’s Birthday

Whether it be soccer, basketball, another sport or any other sort of activity, I think the main idea when it comes to parties for kids aged 13 and up is that the activity in question gets them excited, taps into a passion of theirs, and allows them to bond with friends.

celebrating a teenager's birthday at a soccer game

Have some cool teenage party ideas? Comment below and enter to win our weekly giveaway!

The younger brother, Beckett was thrilled to tag along.

cool birthday celebration idea for teenagers

soccer game for teenager's birthday

Marc and I enjoyed our burghers and beer while a happy group of nine boys yelled, cheered and jumped up and down. We took the subway home and all was good.

Let me know what you all do for birthday parties (no matter what age) and thanks so much for reading.

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, June 25, 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

An adorable Children's Place Cut-Out Shoulder Dress for Girls in this week's fashion post plus giveaway. > More

Summer is here and, after a long, snowy winter, I’m excited to be talking summer dresses for girls. Take a look at my latest find and make sure to enter our giveaway below.

Cut-Out Shoulder Dress for Girls

The cut-out shoulder has become a favorite for moms and girls. I adore the slightly modern, updated look with more traditional fabrics. Prepping my my sister Kirsten’s wedding last weekend, I wasn’t sure what to put on my girls for the rehearsal dinner, a casual affair we hosted at our apartment. I found these adorable Children’s Place dresses online for under $10 each. For a price like that, you can’t go wrong.

Both my girls and me generally wear dresses come summer. Dresses are a one-stop solution. There’s no fussing with matching tops and bottoms and if you buy the right kind, wrinkling is not a problem either. People are so casual these days that you can match dresses with tennis sneakers or any casual sandal or flip flop. Here’s CloudMom Baby Marielle in her dress, a size 8-10 — gasp!

summer floral dresses for girls

Putting together your children’s summer wardrobes? Enter below to win our Children’s Place giveaway!

Such a pretty dress from front to back …

cut-out shoulder dress for girls

And here’s Annaliese. I couldn’t get the girls to smile at the same time so please accept my apologies for this picture! Kids rarely do what we ask on command.

girls summer dresses

floral summer dress for girls

What’s on your shopping list this summer? Enter our Children’s Place giveaway and see you back soon on CloudMom.

Children’s Place Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Children’s Place 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, July 30, 2018 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended

Children’s Place Gift Card Giveaway

xo

In the market for children's yoga wear? Check out Onzie Yogawear's spectacular new collection. > More

Hello mamas and papas. If, like me, you adore yoga and yoga clothes, you’ll be thrilled to know that Onzie has recently launched a children’s yoga wear line. Outfitted in their new Onzie tops and bottoms and looking “just like Mommy,” my girls headed out to the park on a recent spring day. With matching outfits, we were looking and feeling good!

Onzie Yoga Apparel for Kids

Looking for kids activewear? Enter our onzie giveaway!

The dipped back of these soft black tops, with their loose shape and cropped length, complimented the glossy, fitted leggings.

Yoga Apparel for Kids

Yoga Apparel for Kids

When it comes to finding the right yoga clothes for kids, I recommend style, comfort and colors and patterns that are fun and fresh. I don’t see my girls (yet!) in all black. The black tops combined with Indian-style prints on these soft and comfortable pants strike the perfect balance. Some colorful sneakers sealed the look.

Onzie Yoga Apparel

My girls don’t do yoga yet but their new clothes inspired a few creative poses.

Yoga Wear for Kids

Have fun with it. Dare to be different. Wear what makes you feel good.

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

Melissa

Onzie Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $100 Onzie 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, July 9, 2018 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Onzie Yoga Wear Giveaway

Many parents ask "what can I give my baby for constipation?" 5 remedies for infant constipation. > More

Hello mamas and papas. I have been getting a lot of emails and YouTube comments lately from new moms and dads asking: “How can I help my baby poop? Indeed, a baby’s poop means a lot: it indicates that your baby is eating and drinking enough, absorbing the vital nutrients your baby needs to grow.

In this video, I talk about our experiences with poop! and give some simple, healthy home remedies for infant and baby constipation.

What can you give a baby for constipation?

5 Tips for Baby Constipation

We parents can tend to over diagnose infant and baby constipation, thinking that when a baby does not poop every day, there is a problem. In fact, some babies tend to “save it up” and poop a lot every few days. My doctor explained to me that this can be normal. So your first question is: is my baby actually constipated?

If indeed you think your baby is constipated, there are some very simple things to try. I set forth five tips in today’s new video.

For starters, switch it up. Rice cereal, banana, even carrots can be binding and cause constipation. Concentrate on high fiber foods such as broccoli, pears, peaches — all of these can help babies make a bowel movement, just as they help we adults.

Some doctors recommend giving baby a very small amount of apple or prune juice in a bottle.

A warm infant bath can also be helpful.

For more tips, watch my video. Thanks so much for tuning in and see you next time on CloudMom.

xo

Looking for summer dress inspiration? Check out this Zara floral print dress and enter our giveaway! > More

Hi there, mamas! Nothing feels lighter and fresher than a thin cotton summer dress. Part of Zara’s 2018 summer collection, this floral print dress with sleeves includes a fun tie-waist and vibrant color. I wore it to lunch with my friend Avery last week.

Do you favor floral dresses with sleeves? Enter our Zara giveaway for a chance to shop for one!

Zara Floral Print Dress for Summer

A mom of four (including a newborn), Avery is a powerhouse financial genius and manages a busy job alongside her little ones. I don’t know how she does it! Avery loves following the retail industry and the first question she asked me as we sat down was: “where is that dress from,” and then “can I take a picture?” “Yes!,” I replied and bingo, another CloudMom Fashion post was underway. Avery, thanks for being my photographer.Zara Floral Print Dress

Floral Print Dress for Summer

Have a great week ladies and make sure to enter our giveaway below!

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, July 9, 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

Good luck!

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,