Writer Moms MasterMind Group on Skype is born!

I am creating an early morning online mastermind group for mom writers.

We will meet for 4 weeks on Mondays at 6AM-7AM EST (before kiddies wake) on skype.

It is completely free and intended to support writer moms in their journey towards completing a writing project (usually a book).

Only 4 spots are available at this point.

If you are a mom and a writer, please drop me a line if you would like to join my master mind writing support group.

My email is: sigalsaban1 [at] gmail [dot] com

We begin Monday June 13, 2016.

Let the writing begin!



“I could never adopt a child”? Think again. A guide for the parent who wants to make a difference in this world.

It is not often that I bump into another mom who leaves me speechless.

Sam is one of those moms.

I am not sure how we met online but I have been following her amazing journey to bring home her 4th adopted child, Elijah, from a Chinese orphanage. Elijah is now brother to three adopted Chinese kids and two biological kids that Sam and her husband have. The story of how the Reids waited for Elijah for years leaves me completely in awe.

Some of you may know that I am fascinated with the concept of adoption. I mean, to take in a child who is literally home-less and family-less and bring him/her into your home and give him the love that every child needs – I simply don’t see a way to make the world a better place than this. That’s just me.

I approached Sam last week and asked her to share her story with me so I could learn the nits and grits of adopting a child from another country because I have no idea where to start. I asked her to mentor me. She agreed gladly. Once I finished reading her story, I just *knew* that i have to share it with you. It is that tremendous.

If you are looking to meet inspirational parents, this post is for you. It is not short but worth every single minute of reading.

Enter Sam.

1. Why did you decide to adopt?

My husband and I experienced many pregnancy losses, both before and after our first biological daughter was born. We had always wanted to adopt “one day,” but decided to move that plan forward because pregnancy had proven so difficult for us.  We decided to adopt internationally because we hoped that our desire for another child would intersect with a child’s need for a home.  We didn’t want to compete with other parents for an American newborn, and everything we had heard about the U.S. foster program seemed too risky for our tender hearts, so soon after losing so many pregnancies (we have since began to think differently about the US foster program, but that is another story!).  Also, we love to travel and liked the idea of having a multicultural family.

While adopting our son, we witnessed firsthand the huge numbers of children waiting in Chinese orphanages.  That experience changed us forever.  How could we go back to our comfortable life, knowing that so many children lacked the health care, education, and attention they need to survive? We have since adopted three more children.

2. Can you describe your kids?

Our oldest, Olivia, was born in 2004.  She is a typical firstborn:  a leader, bright, fearless.  She is almost 10 and loves to read, cook, and sew.  She is also a fencer and has quite a temper, so watch out (LOL).


Nicholas was adopted in 2007 when he was 22 months old.  He is now 9.  I always say that I have two firstborns, because he is also a leader, so he and Olivia butt heads quite a bit.  He loves history, anything military-related, and is very active.  He is sensitive and loving.  He was born with a cleft lip and palate, and has undergone quite a few surgeries to correct these conditions.


Meeting Nicholas for the first time

We were surprised when we found out that I was pregnant with Peter, now 6, while we were already in the process of adopting Nicholas.  The adoption agency that we were using at the time had a policy of canceling adoptions if the parents became pregnant.  Since this was not a rule of China’s but of just this one US adoption agency, we decided to keep this very early pregnancy to ourselves;  we had already fallen in love with Nicholas through pictures and we did not know if this pregnancy would last, anyway.  Six months after Nicholas came home, we welcomed Peter into the world.  He is a sweet, funny, contemplative kid.  He and Nicholas are best buddies.


bringing Nicholas home

Continue reading

How to help your children become good human beings

Books change lives.

I am reminded of that time and again.

Today, I want to write about a random book that I brought home from the library without even knowing what a pearl it is.


The book Clara and Davie was laying around the house since we brought it a few weeks ago. Moving from one book gallery to another, just waiting for someone to read it.
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Children and Homework: Behind-the-scenes sneak peak at the first workshop of our new parenting school

Wow, creating an online school for parents is hard work! 🙂


As many of you know, we are launching our online workshops for parents of the world these days.

Today I want to give you a behind the scenes look at our first workshop about children and homework called “7 Steps to getting your child to do his/her homework gladly and independently“.

Why did I pick this topic for our first workshop?
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Saying goodbye to chocolate: A step by step guide for moms

What is it about moms and chocolate? Am I imagining or are many – MANY – of us addicted to this yummy brown anti-stress medicine disguised as food? 🙂


Ok, I confess. I am a chocoholic. Yes, I am addicted to whatever it is that they put in chocolate and it is on my mind in my mouth daily.

So, what’s the story with moms and chocolate? What do Continue reading

My dream come true: Launching our online Academy for parents of the world

Are you having difficulties breathing as well or is it only me?

It must be me then!

I am so SO excited to launch my brand new project in The Mom and Dad Academy:

The Educated Mom Project!!

I work with many moms and through the years I have found that a mother’s life is very Continue reading

How to hire a great mother’s helper

I believe every mom should have a mother’s helper. Period. Several mother’s helpers are best but one is a minimum.

Mother’s helper is a concept I bumped into when we first moved to the US in 1987. We went to spend time “in the country” (upstate NY) and moms who spent summers in “rest colonies” took themselves a mother’s helper. I was 11 so I was a bit young to earn money that way, but evidently the concept stuck in my memory.

Fast-forward to 2005, I was a new mom and seeking help. Naturally, the options were to hire a babysitter or a nanny. But, there was a problem. A babysitter takes care of the baby while mom is away for a few hours and a nanny spends the day with the baby and often does minimal house tidying that is baby related – while mom is away.

That is *not* what I needed.

What did I need? I needed to replicate myself. I needed for someone to help me with a little bit of everything while I *stay* in the house. Changing diapers, doing dishes, cooking, folding laundry, sweeping, organizing closets, holding baby when he cries, tidying toys, special projects, watering garden, tidying restrooms after toddlers, feeding and cleaning after kids meals and more and more. You know, everything mom does.

That’s when I remembered the concept of mother’s helper from 25 years ago.

In the last 9 years since I became a mom, I have had many mother’s helpers. Some stayed longer, others left after a couple of months. Some are my dearest friends and biggest supporters today even after we have changed countries and states.

Why should you hire a mother’s helper? If you needed help at work and were swamped with tasks, you would hire a personal assistant, wouldn’t you? Yes, you would. Then why is it that the modern mom who is often a full time worker outside or inside the home, whose task list is inhumane, who is not sleeping at night, who is in charge of household maintenance AND childcare AND budget AND cooking AND providing emotional support for everyone AND the list goes on and on – Why doesn’t she have legitimacy to hire help?  I almost feel like moms are considered “weak” or “incompetent” if they can’t do it all by themselves and they need to hire someone. That isn’t fair.

And you know what else isn’t fair? Our society prides itself with equal rights for women. Yes, you women of the world can go out there and make careers for yourselves. That indeed is an accomplishment for the feminist movement. But – and this is a big but – although you are out there working and earning a salary, you still need to take care of the household and kids just like you did before this feminist revolution. That is infuriating! Yes, make a career but we won’t decrease your responsibilities in the home because – helllllo????!! – you are THE MOM.

This creates an impossible situation for moms. IMPOSSIBLE. If you are mom reading my post, chances are that you are overworked, fatigued, stressed, maybe not 100% well health-wise, overweight, sleep deprived and generally finding it hard to stay positive when the responsibilities are endless and the show must go on. Because if mom stops for a second, everything collapses.

In the past, moms lived in communities and supported each other daily. Today, you, Mom, are alone with the house tasks. Yes, dad is involved sometimes and I have been fortunate to have a partner who is very involved, but still the majority of the responsibility is on mom.

You have no choice but to take help.

But, you say, we can’t afford it. That is rubbish. If you can afford to eat out, if you can afford to go on a yearly family vacation, if you can afford to buy coffee in starbucks daily – then you can afford to hire help.  Set your priorities straight and make sure it is understood by everyone that mom isn’t weak – she is just human and the list of tasks that the modern mom has to do is inhumane.

Why do I recommend hiring several mother’s helpers? This is one of the best tips I can give. If you hire several helpers who take on different short shifts during the week, you can leverage their abilities. We had one who loved to cook, was great with the kids but preferred not to fold laundry. Great! We had one who was terrified of being with the kids but made my house spotless and could be just with the baby. Excellent! We had one who was so talented at being with the kids but preferred no housework. Wonderful! One wanted morning shifts, another wanted afternoons, and another preferred weekends. I leveraged their talents and had a team ready to support me whenever our family needed it. I like short shifts – 2-3 hours at a time – because that was all we could afford and frankly helpers get tired after a few hours. I like energetic people around me since I basically have no energy myself after the long nights.

But, won’t my child be overwhelmed with so many people coming and going? You ask. Children need stability, you say. Well, I beg to differ. Yes, kids need stability. But if you have several regular helpers coming by, the kids get exposed to different people. They were exposed to an Argentinian, a Filipino, a Polish American, a Russian Grandmother type, a cadet on leave from the US military, a teacher, several college girls, and more. I brought the world to them on a silver platter. From each one, they learned something new and they learned to communicate in a variety of ways in order to get what they want. Not to mention the different languages that they were exposed to daily. Oh, and yes, they learn that people come and people go and family always always stays.

How to hire your very own mother’s helper

1. Create a sign or message and post it online or offline. Great offline options are a local university, churches and synagogues, near high schools. Online options are Craig’s list, Facebook, mommy groups. In the sign, make it clear that the job description involves dishes, laundry, tidying and organziing, childcare. The more specifically you describe the position, the better the chances that those who contact you are ready and willing to do the tasks. It makes it clear that this is a position for a hard worker and it encompasses many tasks in the house. Important to note: a mother’s helper is *not* a cleaning lady. She will not sparkle your house. She can do daily home “cosmetics” but you would need to hire a cleaning person to do an overall cleaning project. Always ask for references in advance and call the references. This is your family we are talking about!

2. Set up interviews: I have had a ton of girls cancel on me when we set up interviews. Its infuriating – especially when you have 5 kids who you rush to toss into bed so you can be available to meet. Anyways, make sure to tell the interviewee that you expect her to come at the set time and to absolutely let you know if she is going to cancel. Prepare a list of all of the house tasks which you expect for the mother’s helper to do and share it with your interviewee. This is so there are no surprises or disappointments. She will know what she is getting into. Ask her to let you know, which tasks on the list she feels she will like best and which she is not so good at. This will help you understand what skills you can leverage on her shift.  What I usually tell the women that I am about to hire is this:

1. I am a tired, overworked mom. You are here to make my life easier. That is why I am hiring you.

2. Me and you are going to be coordinated as in a dance. On your shift, you will need to be in tune with me and see what help I need at every moment. We are going to be a team. We will dance together so stay in sync with me.

3. I expect you to come here after you have slept at night. Don’t come here tired because I am tired and that is why I need for you to be full of energy. (This is super important, especially with college girls who stay up all night and would come to the shift completely tired and out of focus. I sent them home to sleep and told them not to bother coming when they are so tired).

3. Once you are going to hire the mother’s helper, commit to a mutual trial period where you both can see how it is working out. A week is a good time frame. Decide that she will work with you during that week and after one week you will sit and discuss whether you want to continue this arrangement or not. Of course she is paid for the trial period.

4. Payment: Ask around your neighbors and other moms what is the acceptable rate to pay a babysitter or mother’s helper. This will help you set your hourly rate.

5. Meals: I always tell the mother’s helper that meals aren’t part of the deal but what ends up happening in reality is that the mother’s helper becomes a part of the family and we invite her to sit and eat with us during meals. Not daily, but often enough. If its a short shift (2-3 hours), we don’t provide meals. If its longer than 4 hours, I always offer a meal (although you don’t have to – I have had girls bring their own meals and take a short break to eat it).

In conclusion, I want to say a few words to the former mother’s helpers – and the current one – we have had that I know are reading this post. Girls, moms, ladies – you were truly the wind beneath my wings. No words could describe how much your help meant to me and still means to me today. The warmth and caring and love that you have given us and the kids was not something I could pay you for. You have huge hearts and I bless the day that I hired you several years ago.  Meeting you in the mornings after long sleepless nights was like a breath of fresh air. Some of you came in the afternoons so that I could rest. I don’t know how you did it – keeping 4 kids occupied quietly while mom tries to nap is an impossible task – and you were so talented at it. I wish for every mom reading this post to have the fortune of hiring someone as wonderful as you – and you know who you are. I am indebted to you always.

Take care of yourselves, moms and dads.

Making mom’s life easier: How to create a Mom Learning Circle for yourself

I have to share something magical that I have done for myself and makes me tremendously happy.

About a year ago, I thought to myself: I wish I had other moms to talk to about subjects that trouble me. I am sure there are other moms out there who need solutions for various problems (child tantrums, house organization, fitness, budgeting, menu planning, weight loss, health concerns, personal goals, gardening, anything). I mean, we are moms. So, of course we have worries.

In the faraway past, when mankind lived in small village communities or even in tribes, women would head down to the river every morning to wash their laundry by hand. They would sit there in groups and scrub their families clothes and talk about their lives, laugh together, cry together, share problems and get each other’s advice and support. The kids would play nearby and this would be done daily. What a tremendous network of support! After that, they would start a fire and get the day’s cooking going together in the village cooking area. More and more talking and sharing takes place. We are moms. We *need* to talk and we need to support each other. In the evening, everyone would sit by the fire, do handiwork or sew or just be – a community.

Fast forward to today:

I wash our clothes in the basement – alone.

I cook in our kitchen – alone. (Sometimes with the company of an audio book)

In the evening, it’s just me and Guy after the five kiddies go to sleep. No community. One family unit on its own. Surrounded by other family units – on their own.

Is it me or is something very very missing here?

Have we gone astray in our society and taken away something so very important?

Anyways, back to my story.

So, about a year ago, I told Guy that I am going to start Mom Learning Groups so I can get better at skills that I don’t yet have and do it along with other moms who are struggling with the subjects that I am concerned with. I created several groups. Some met just once. Others met for several months and then dissipated. One is still running and it so empowering that I have to write about it.

We are a group of 5 moms. All of us are somewhat over-weight. All of us want to reach a place where we feel healthier. We meet once a month. The rest of the discussion is online – daily. Sometimes – hourly.

How do the face to face meetings run? We meet only once a month. Each month another mom hosts in her house after the kids have gone to bed. There is no food being offered – only tea. Lots and lots of tea. This way we get to focus on the subject matter and not on distractions. We do a rotation. Each one talks about where she is in her life these days, how are her relations with food and exercise, what’s going on at home or work that is contributing to emotional eating, etc. Seriously, there is so much to talk about. At first, each one reveals just a little. Slowly, trust builds and we open up. And we share. We are washing our laundry in the river – except we are doing it in a living room and there is no laundry.

How do the online interactions continue? We decided that each one of us is in charge of a different category in our online Facebook group.

Mom 1: In charge of opening a post where we each update on every single meal and snack we eat daily.

Mom 2: In charge of opening a daily post on waters. Who drank how much today.

Mom 3: In charge of opening  daily post on exercise. Who worked out and for how long?

Mom 4: In charge of how everyone is feeling today. We each write how our day is going. This helps alleviate emotional pressures and just share.

Mom 5: In charge of the daily “confession corner” where each mom confesses if she has overeaten or made poor food choices. Also in charge of the “pat on the back” corner of our group where we pat ourselves on the back for making good food choices.

5 moms running a support group where we self-coach with the support of others. There is no diet plan. This is a personalized self-coaching arrangement and the fruits it is bearing are wonderful.

Did we know each other before this? Some moms knew each other. I didn’t know anyone. I just posted in an online “Natural Moms” group and they moms contacted me. Do I know these moms today? I would say yes. The intimacy that is formed in such a small group setting is really special.

So, What is my message to you today, Mom? Create your tribe. I have a vision that all over the United States moms will get organized in intimate groups to learn and support each other in specific subjects. Wouldn’t that be a tremendous crutch for you moms? Wouldn’t it be great to know that once a month (twice a month? once a week? you decide) you sit together in the safety of someone’ s home and talk about a subject that is concerning you? Learning together is really powerful. You have to try it to find out.

The cost? zero dollars.

The value? A million dollars – and much more than that.

Let’s create modern mini-tribes, ladies. Let’s empower ourselves and each other. Frankly, no one else will do it for us. We can use the internet to help in this creation but don’t make the mistake of skipping face to face interaction. Intimacy and trust are created when you see each other’s eyes, each other’s facial expressions, each other’s pain.

How to create a Mom Learning Circle

1. Pick a subject or a skill that you would like to get better at (gardening, handiwork, childcare, weight loss, anything).

2. Start spreading the word online or offline that you are looking for committed moms to join you in this journey.  Be very careful with the moms that you choose to join you. Often, moms *think* they are committed to a cause but their reality will not allow them to actually be fully committed. Some moms are not the committing type. Choose your partners carefully. I can’t emphasize this point enough. And the ones that are chosen – they will thank you forever because you are bringing a gift into their lives- and into your life. Limit the group to 5-6 moms at the most.

3. Set a date for a face to face meeting. Don’t start interacting online until you have met and everyone feels comfortable. Decide on ground rules and what your goals as a group and as individuals are. Divide responsibilities. Who is in charge of what.

4. Open a Facebook group just for you ladies. Decide on a format where each mom is in charge of some part of the daily reminders and coaching.

Okay, everything is ready? Let the flying begin! You can take this anywhere. Moms are so creative that I predict beautiful outcomes. Don’t expect too much too quickly. Its a long process. It takes time.  Don’t be disappointed if some of your mini-tribes fail. Check to see if you can add different members to spice it up and say goodbye to other members who are less committed or just start another learning group.

Oh, and most importantly, tell me how it went! 🙂 I am soooo curious to see if this experiment improves the lives of moms out there. You are tremendous women! You deserve some comfort and support and mothering. Yes, we all need some mother-to-mother mothering.

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooo, moms! 🙂

When do I find time to read? An inside look at life of an Ever-Learning Mom

Every Tuesday I meet a good friend in our sun room for a knitting session. I am learning to knit. She is an amazing knitter. We knit and have the best conversations about life. I share with her interesting things that I learn from books.

Friend: So, I don’t get it, when do you find time to read?

Me: Hmm…I don’t know…all the time.

I found it difficult to answer this question because my books surround me wherever I am. I have 5 set stations in the house with books being read by me daily. Five minutes here. Three minutes there. You won’t believe how much learning you can get done in small bites.

Let me give you a tour of the house today through my Mama Reading Stations.

By my bed, I have The Divided Mind. What a life changer this book is for me! I have a couple of more pages before its done.


In the upstairs privacy room, I have The Sensory Child Gets Organized. I am just in the beginning but this is supposed to help me with my “smart but scattered” kiddo.


In the kids playroom. They play. I read.


In the first floor privacy room, I am reading the 21 Day Sugar Detox. Can you tell I am on a mission to get healthier?

IMG_20140215_085436So, what does the Ever-learning Mama do when there is just zero time to sit down and read a book? It happens often.

She listens to audio books while she cleans the kitchen. Here is my audio book station – right there on the kitchen counter – where I am currently listening to Geneen Roth’s Take Back Your Life.

IMG_20140215_085527So, how did I become the Ever-Learning Mom?

I think its a combination of things.

1. I grew up in a household where my father had a different book waiting for him in every room. In fact, he still does all these years. In the bedroom he would read books about the human body and medicine. In his study, he would have books on electricity and technical know-how. In the living room, a book on the history of WWII. He was like a book nomad, wandering from book to book. Always learning. I guess I got bitten by the bug. Surprisingly, I didn’t read many books until I reached the age of 25 or so.

2. I think that I am a solution seeker. I think complaining about a problem without going out there and finding solutions in order to change it is just a waste of time and energy. I don’t have time and energy to waste on complaining. The solutions exist. I just need to find them.

3. I assume that for every single problem in family life or my personal life or professional life that arises, someone has thought about and confronted in the past and probably wrote about. So, I just need to find it. None of my problems are out of the ordinary. We are all humans. Someone out there has experienced this and wrote about it so I am going to find it!

4. I see – really really see – how every single books changes me and influences my life tremendously. I am a better mom because of books. I feed my family better because of books. I am a better world citizen – because of books. So, how can I *not* invest time in this absolute treasure that the human being has created. Books are tremendous.

I love other Ever-Learning Mamas. I seek them out – and when I bump into one. Its magic. It feels like I am meeting a soul-sister.

How to become an Ever-Learning, Solution-Seeking Mom

1. Think of a challenge from your family life, personal life or professional life that is really troubling you.  For example, temper tantrums of a child or tense relations with your partner.

2. Open up Amazon.com and start searching for keywords related to your problem.

3. Make a list of relevant titles that could help you with your problem.

4. Order the books online or (better yet) – order them from your library’s catalog online.

5. Place the book in a strategic place in the house which you know you may get a chance to read for 2-5 minutes daily. Restrooms are the best. By your bed is another good one.

6. If you know – you just know – that you won’t be able to read the book – not even for a couple of minutes each day- get the audio book and set up a CD player in the kitchen. I mean, you have to do the dishes at least once a day, right? Well, why not work towards solving a problem of yours while you sweep the kitchen and tidy the stove top. You can cover a lot of ground. Believe me. I do it daily. Important to note that the kids will be able to hear it as well. There are pluses and minuses to that but be selective with what you are listening to out loud because they are listening as well.

Okay, enough writing for today. I have books just begging for my return! The kids are in martial arts with Dad. Baby and toddler are sleeping. I know it may be just a few minutes of reading but I am filling my toolbox with tools I can use today. And that feels tremendous.

Seek solutions, Moms. You know where to find them now.

How we create memories in our super tiny kitchen

This is our kitchen.

It is tiny.

Super tiny.

In fact, it is about 11 feet by 6 feet.



We often dine in our sun-room but during the winter it gets very very cold out there no matter how much we try to warm it up.


So, we needed a solution because the kids were freezing during meals.

Guy and I stood there and looked at our tiny kitchen. There is no way we could fit anything in here. Its tiny!

Then we decide to try something.

Guy grabs the Ikea table and little chairs and brings the baby chair from the sun room.

Will all of the kids fit in here?



Its cozy, to say the least.

And we bump into each other all of the time.



And things fall and break often.

0_1 (8)

And I have no room to move or cook or clean.

Its tight.

photo 4 (7)And sometimes we have to be creative and utilize whatever we can during a cooking session because we have 7 people to feed and not much room for preparations.

photo 3 (6)


But – and this is a huge but – we make it work.

And this is our message to our kids when they complain.

We have a big family, Kids. The budget is limited. So, we make it work with what we have.

Oh, and we have each other.

And that’s worth more than any fancy kitchen.

I know that one day we will have a fancy shmancy kitchen.

Of course we will.

But, I hope you kids will never ever forget the special moments that we shared in our “cubicle” kitchen.


Because you will know that Mom and Dad made things work. We took the cards that life dealt us and made the best darn life two parents can make. And – we were happy. And so were you.

Don’t ever forget the tiny kitchens of your life, Kids. Usually that is where your most memorable moments will happen. Oh, and I want you to have lots of those.

Go into the world and make memories, Kiddos.