Written on November 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm , by Family Circle
There’s nothing cuter than a pet with style, right?
Back in September, we asked readers to submit photos via Facebook and Instagram of their pets dressed up in costumes. We received more than 600 entries. A panel of judges somehow narrowed the list down to 30 finalists–the creativity was endless, and the general public then got a chance to vote on their favorite. Here are the top five winners of our Best-Dressed Pets contest, chosen by you. Fair warning: these pictures are too darn cute for words!
To check out all of the super cute entries, flip though our Best-Dressed Pets Facebook album.
Written on November 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm , by Family Circle
Looking for creative ways to decorate your home for the holidays? Both fragrant and functional, a pretty herb wreath is easy to assemble and perfect for gifting or to hang on your kitchen wall.
Take a look at how easy the steps are!
A few pointers to get you started:
- Select hearty bright-green bunches.
- Give yourself plenty of counter space to spread out—expect to have some loose leaves.
- If making as a gift and not hanging immediately, let wreath dry on a flat surface so leaves don’t droop, exposing the form and wires.
Here’s what you’ll need:
4 bunches fresh rosemary
2 pkg fresh bay leaves
2 to 3 bunches fresh sage leaves
3 large bunches fresh thyme
3 large bunches fresh oregano
2 bunches fresh marjoram
1 8- to 10-inch grapevine wreath
Food-safe floral wire
Wire cutters and scissors
1 24-inch length of ribbon
• Spread newspaper or craft paper on a table. Divide herbs into 8 piles.
• Starting with one pile, stack rosemary, bay leaves, sage, thyme, oregano and marjoram with all stems pointing in the same direction (overstuff piles, as herbs will shrink upon drying). Secure with floral wire, leaving a 6-inch length of wire to attach herbs to wreath form. Repeat with 6 of the remaining 7 piles of herbs.
• Use floral wire to secure one bunch of herbs to the wreath form at the 11 o’clock position. Attach a second bunch of herbs, overlapping the stem end of the previous bunch. Continue around wreath form.
• Arrange the last pile of herbs with stems crisscrossing. Secure in the middle with floral wire, leaving a 6-inch length of wire to attach herbs to wreath form. Affix final bunch to wreath form at the 12 o’clock position (the ribbon will loop over the center of this bunch, hiding the stems).
• Tie ribbon around wreath and hang from a hook or cabinet handle.
This fragrant wreath is featured in our December issue on newsstands now.
Written on November 13, 2013 at 9:30 am , by Family Circle
Written on November 12, 2013 at 9:00 am , by Family Circle
“We talk about sex tapes, affairs, baby bumps…anything and everything to do with our sex lives, except contraception,” says actress and Emmy Award-winning talk show host Ricki Lake. Today the mom of two boys (16 and 12) is asking you to give a shout-out to birth control by having an age-appropriate talk with your kids as part of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s “Thanks, birth control” movement. Here’s why.
Contraception. There. I said it. That wasn’t so bad, was it? As you probably know, my life has been an open book. There’s almost nothing I haven’t talked about on television. I’ve shared every personal milestone over the last two decades with my wonderful viewers, which has enriched my life in profound ways. That’s because I believe that talking helps you bond, open up, lose your fears. Think about it: Years ago, nobody would have dared to say “breast cancer” in public. Now look how many lives are being changed because we have collectively decided that talking about it openly can save lives and make people feel less alone.
So why doesn’t anyone talk about contraception? It’s something 99% of adult women in the U.S. have used. What else can you say that about? My friends at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy asked me to help them launch a national conversation about birth control and what it makes possible–for women, men, families and society. It’s not that there isn’t a lot of chatter out there already about contraception—there’s plenty. But all of it is so negative, so political and so polarizing. So regular people, or people who don’t have a stake in the political battles over contraception, just stay quiet. And when we don’t speak up, we are sending the message to young women in particular that contraception is a taboo subject.
Why is that so dangerous? Because 9 out of 10 single young adults ages 18-29 say they don’t want a pregnancy right now, but 40% of them aren’t using contraception consistently. Which is why single 20-somethings have twice the number of unplanned pregnancies as teens do, and 7 in 10 pregnancies in that age group are unplanned. Consequences for their babies are about the same as for babies born to teen moms. I’ve been working with the National Campaign for nearly two decades to help reduce teen pregnancy, and I’m proud to say that the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is down more than 44% over the past 21 years. One reason for this decline is that we are all talking openly about the importance of preventing teen pregnancy, and teens have gotten the message. Unplanned pregnancy among single young adults hasn’t budged. The fact is that 9 out of 10 women and men ages 18-29 are sexually active, and a shocking 40% of them think that even if you’re using contraception, when it’s “your time” to get pregnant, you probably will. This is exactly why talking openly about contraception—and how to use it correctly—can change lives. If you can’t talk about birth control, how do you know if you’re using it right? Or if there might be a better method out there for you?
We talk about sex tapes, affairs, baby bumps…anything and everything to do with our sex lives, except contraception. The UN declares access to birth control to be a “universal human right.” The CDC calls the advent of modern contraception one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. When women have a say in planning and spacing their pregnancies, everyone benefits. I am grateful every day for the opportunities I’ve had to be a mom and to have a career, all at the same time. That’s because I got to decide when I was ready to start a family—a tremendous freedom that I don’t take for granted. So that’s why I’m asking you to join me and thousands of others to take a moment today to give a shout-out for birth control and all that it makes possible. Share a fact. Dispel a myth. Share one of these cool postcards or videos from the National Campaign. Putting off that talk with your daughter (or son!) about contraception. Today’s the day to have it. Speak up and talk about what birth control makes possible for you, your career, your family. Just saying the words out loud will help make the topic less toxic. Take to social media, use #ThxBirthControl and tell me why you’re saying “Thanks, birth control” with me today. I’m listening!
Ricki Lake is a media advisor to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Written on November 8, 2013 at 10:00 am , by Family Circle
Written by Catherine Holecko
My daughter is a figure skater who’s on the ice at least three times a week and also participates in off-ice training. Extracurriculars, especially other sports, have fallen by the wayside as she devotes more time to skating. She competes as an individual and is also a member of a synchronized skating team (yes, that’s a thing!).
That means I worry when I read the bad press about over specialization in sports. Because I know the concerns are real: Specialization is often driven by parents and coaches, not kids. It can very easily lead to overuse injuries and burnout. It makes sports into a chore and a duty, instead of something fun and healthy.
But here’s the thing: So far, my tween is still on the “fun” side of that line. She would skate every day if she could. She has never complained about going to the rink, never asked if she could skip a lesson or a practice or a competition “just this once.” And while she’s given up some activities to make more room for skating, she has tried many over the years: soccer, karate, gymnastics, flag football. Unlike her brother, who’s more of a sports sampler, my daughter found something she truly loves early in life. And like so many sports today, skating happens to be a year-round commitment—there’s no off-season.
Instead of wringing my hands about whether she’s overcommitted, I keep my eye on my daughter’s health—mental and physical. I regularly ask myself:
How many hours a week is she skating? Research suggests that one hour per week per year of life should be the max. So for my 11-year-old, 10 hours a week is the upper limit—and she’s not nearly there yet.
Is she active in other ways? Overspecialization can crowd out all other activities in kids’ lives, and that’s not healthy. They need free play too—at least half as many hours per week as they spend on organized sports. If my daughter regularly rides her bike to school, dances during gym class or goes swimming with a friend, she’s in good shape.
Is she anxious about her sport? Sure, competitions, tests and try-outs are stressful. But so far, they’re also fun for my skater. She’ll listen to her coach’s counsel about what challenges to take on, but she’s not afraid to say “That’s too much for me right now.” If she doesn’t place well in an event or pass a test, she’s bummed out—but not for long. When she nails that skill the next time, it feels even better.
So I’m satisfied that my skater is training safely. Now, if only adults didn’t insist on asking her whether they’ll see her in the Olympics one day. That’s the standard response from everyone who hears that she skates. Ugh—please hold the pressure, okay?
Catherine Holecko is the family fitness expert at About.com. She lives in Wisconsin with her tweens, husband and dog.
Written on November 7, 2013 at 9:35 am , by Family Circle
Written by Randi Zuckerberg
No matter where in the world I travel to, the first question I’m always asked after giving a speech or chatting with new friends is some variant of “How much screen time do you let your son have?”
Parents everywhere are struggling to raise children in a connected world. It makes sense—we’re raising the first generation of digital natives, and we’re the first generation of parents to have to worry about these issues. Just as parents for decades have been talking to their kids about stranger danger, looking both ways before crossing the street or not eating too much candy, online safety is now another must-have conversation. Here are my main rules and tips to help guide your child toward a safe, smart and healthy digital life.
Rules and Tips to Remember
1. Your body is your business only. Think before you post revealing pictures.
2. Don’t bully or go along with other people who are bullying.
3. Only add “friends” online if you also know them in real life.
4. Always treat others with respect, the way you would want to be treated.
5. If you’re going to put something in writing, make sure you would be comfortable if it was reprinted in a newspaper.
6. Only say something online if you would also say it to that person’s face in real life.
7. Be careful about personal information about yourself or your family. Only share things with people you trust.
8. Be vigilant against predators, lurkers and bullies.
9. Above all, guard yourself and your dignity, and stay safe.
Even if you aren’t very familiar with the latest technology, make it a priority to ask your child what they’re doing online. Take time once a month or so to sit down and have them walk you through their favorite sites. Ask questions. Friend or follow them on social platforms. Ask other parents what sites their children use. And be sure that you follow these digital rules too: Having an online role model can go a long way toward influencing a child’s behavior. In an age where parents are on social media posting their children’s every milestone, keep in mind that this content can live forever online. That naked baby picture, which could be cute today, may haunt your child down the line.
Written on October 30, 2013 at 3:16 pm , by Family Circle
Just one day to go! Halloween is officially less than 24 hours away. If the ticking clock makes you shiver because your house is still not Halloweenafied, don’t fret! We have the templates to help you create candy wrappers to go, a festive table banner and bewitching bottles to dress up your home in no time. Some of our favorite so-scary-it’s-easy projects follow below. You can get step-by-step directions on how to make each at Familycircle.com. Have fun creating tonight! And have a happy Halloween!
Written on October 27, 2013 at 10:00 am , by Family Circle
Don’t just stop at bewitching costumes this Halloween. Go all out with this season’s spookiest home decor. We’re talking gothic centerpieces for your dinning table, spooky accents for around the house, ghostly pumpkin faces for the front steps—it’s all part of getting into the fun spirit of Halloween. Plus, making crafts with the family can be a good time for bonding. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite creative displays. You can make them yourself by following the steps in this story, “Bewitching Halloween Decoration.”
Written on October 26, 2013 at 11:30 am , by Family Circle
Pumpkin lovers rejoice! Today is National Pumpkin Day! And here at Family Circle, we’re celebrating the “it” flavor of fall with our favorite pumpkin recipes. There’s something for all pumpkin craving taste buds with our festive pies, cakes and other sweet treats. A favorite: our Ice Cream Pumpkin Pie (pictured below). Get the recipes to these pumpkin delights and more, here.
Written on October 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm , by Family Circle
With Halloween just around the corner, we have the perfect treat for you—because what’s a little trick without the treat (pun intended). These adorable mini pumpkin cakes are a great addition to a Halloween party menu. The pretzel pumpkin stem and frosting make for a tasty, sweet and salty combination. And they’re easy to make; it only takes five steps. See for yourself in the video above. For step-by-step instructions, click here. Happy Halloween baking!
Written on October 23, 2013 at 10:59 am , by Family Circle
Written on October 22, 2013 at 11:36 am , by Family Circle
Written by Leslie Kantor, Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood.
How many times have you heard someone say, “She’s such a flirt” or “He’s going to be a real ladies’ man” about a baby? Or tease a young child by saying, “Is he your boyfriend?” Apart from being age-inappropriate, comments like these give children ideas about dating and sexuality from a very young age. So it’s no surprise that by the time they reach their teens, young people have a lot of messages to sort out about romantic relationships.
We have to be careful not to push teens into dating, especially younger teens who are still in middle school. Studies show that the earlier teens start dating and having relationships, the sooner sexual activity takes place. Younger teens really should be completely focused on school, activities and family. As they get older and relationships become developmentally appropriate, it remains important that we stay close to our teens and provide guidance while allowing them to develop some independence.
As parents, we all want our teens to have good early relationships, so we should discuss what constitutes a healthy relationship before they begin dating. We can help them to expect good communication, respect, trust, fairness, honesty and equality. It’s also important to teach them not to be aggressive or push anyone into doing anything before they’re ready—if someone feels uncomfortable or resistant, just stop.
Once your teen does start dating, talk with him or her regularly about what’s going on. Listen and give your teen a chance to discuss his/her experiences, then give helpful advice. Parents should definitely get to know their son or daughter’s boyfriend/girlfriend, and the boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents too. Dating anyone more than two years older is risky—there are so many developmental differences that it’s almost impossible to have a healthy relationship with that large an age gap. And be sure to set ground rules: no friends over when adults aren’t home, check in when they go out to let you know where they’ll be and who they’re with, etc. You can find some tips for effectively monitoring and supervising your teen in this video.
Be very clear about your expectations and values when it comes to dating and sex. Planned Parenthood created this helpful tool for parents to start having these conversations. In fact, teens name their parents as the biggest influence in their decisions about sex, so we can help them understand why it’s important to wait to have sex until they’re ready. We have to be willing to talk and listen, and ask direct questions like, “What’s going on physically with you two?” Hopefully our teens will tell us when they are considering sexual activity.
We need to be as loving as possible when we learn that our teens are having sex. You may initially be disappointed or upset, but try to contain your anxiety and deal with your own feelings separately from your interactions with your son or daughter. The most important thing for parents to do is to listen. Stay calm and try to keep the lines of communication open, so your teen knows he or she can continue to come to you. If you do get upset or say something you later regret, you can always go back and say, “Listen, I was feeling startled that I just heard you and your boyfriend/girlfriend are having sex. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. I just want you to be healthy and safe.” Conversations about sexuality and relationships are an ongoing dialogue. Once we know our teens are sexually active, parents can make a difference. We can help our teens think about their relationships and encourage them to always use birth control and practice safer sex.
Through frequent conversations with your teen, you can help to launch his or her love life well (and maybe put some of your own fears to rest too). You may find that these are some of the most meaningful and rewarding conversations you ever have.
For more information about talking with your teen, visit plannedparenthood.org/parents.