Posts from June 2015

Best Skincare Tips for Moms: Interview with Dr. Paul Nassif

June 29, 2015
by vicki, motherhood

Best Skincare Tips for Moms: Interview with Dr. Paul Nassif #joyofmom


There is just something about seeing the bright, happy face of children that warms our heart. Kids just have that natural glow that can’t be bottled because it’s part pure wonder and never ending joy!

With the focus on wellness now, I know all moms out there want to make sure that their children and the rest of the family are taking care of their largest organ: their skin. What should you eat? Drink? Avoid?

We thought it would be great to get the 411 on all things skincare for both moms and kids from Dr. Paul Nassif of the hit show “Botched.” We asked Dr. Paul for some great tips.

Q: Dr. Nassif, why does stress play such a big part in skincare for moms?
Dr. Nassif: “When your stress becomes at a high level, you’ll find that your skin doesn’t look great because you’re not functioning properly. You really need rest to repair your body and your skin at night. It’s important for everyone, old and young, to get good, quality sleep.”

Q: What should moms omit from their own diets and the diets of their children for good skin health?
Dr. Nassif: “The first thing is diet cola. You don’t want to be drinking chemicals and it’s all chemicals. If you must drink it, practice moderation. But you do have to get off of it as your go-to beverage. It’s the worst thing for you.”

Q: What should you limit with children?
Dr. Nassif: “Try to get rid of excess sugar. I have a sweet tooth, too. But you should really watch processed sugars and not allow too much. Have a small amount of dark chocolate. It’s good for you even if it’s sugar. Remember that most smoothies are full of sugar, too. Limit them or make them at home, so you’re sure of the ingredients.”

Q: How important is drinking clean water for your skin? And what else should we add to our children’s diets for their skin?
Dr. Nassif: “Anything that hydrates you without the sugar or chemicals is great. Water is the best thing for a human being. Make sure to also add some fruit and avocado to your family’s diet. Your skin and their skin will thank you.”

Popcorn & Pics: Max

June 26, 2015
entertainment, family

Popcorn & Pics: Max #joyofmom


This is week two of our new Friday movie column and I couldn’t be more excited! Here’s our choice for the best of the best of this weekend’s movie theater flicks!

“MAX” In our home our four-legged loves are truly our furry babies. This is a beautiful, educational and timely movie about a military war dog that eats, fights and sleeps by the side of his beloved master, U.S. Marine Kyle Wincott. Both man and his pup are serving in Afghanistan when Kyle is mortally wounded.

Without his best friend, war dog, Max is sent to the states to live with Kyle’s family including a teenager named Justin (Josh Wiggins) mother (“Parenthood’s” Lauren Graham) and father (Thomas Haden Church). Can Max fit into a new family? Can they love the dog that their beloved brother and son held so dear? Max teaches us all how important it is that we treat our animals with love and compassion – a great lesson no matter your age.

Behind the Scenes: Lauren Graham (Justin’s mother) Chats about Playing a Mom

Q: What was so appealing about “Max?”
Lauren Graham: “I was struck at how poignant the story was to me. We really delve into the world of these military dogs and how vital their work is for our military. This is also a story about a family healing from loss. They come together over this dog.”

Q: You play a very strong mom here, but different from the moms you played on “Parenthood” and “The Gilmore Girls.” Who is she based on?
Lauren Graham: “She reminded me of my grandmother who was a missionary and Southern Baptist. She was a kind woman, but an incredibly strong one. I also based her on certain traits of my grandfather who was a man of few words, but had this quiet strength.”

Q: Are you a dog person?
Lauren Graham: “I had a wonderful German shepherd. I remember getting my Hannah from a Burbank rescue. It was a crazy, instant connection and the best, smartest, sweetest dog I could ever find as a friend. She was with me during tough times and I even had someone drive her to New York to be with me when I was working. This was a major dog friendship. I haven’t been able to get another dog since she passed. I’m working on it.”

Fun Fact: Max in the movie was actually played by a Belgian Malinois, one of the favorite breeds to serve as military working dogs (MWD). The dogs have a 270-degree field of vision and can run 30 miles per hour!

This sweet and touching movie reminds us that our fur babies are truly a gift in our life. May we cherish them, every day. And give them the love and devotion right on back.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Ent.

Mommy Summer Tips: Part 2

June 25, 2015
by vicki, family, motherhood

Mommy Summer Tips: Part 2! #joyofmom


Yesterday’s blog focused on some of my favorite mommy summer tips. There wasn’t enough space for all of my faves, so here are a few more!

Hair Rising: Moms, it’s summer and there is a lot of running around, and a lot of humidity. This means less mommy time for us, which is fine. But what are you to do if you have a big business meeting or a major summer event looming? Your hair actually looks better after you slept on it and the natural oils provide the shine. Don’t wash, just go! It frees up time and the look is perfect.

Move It: Studies show that when you’re dragging, a summer nap might not be the best thing. So ditch those pillows and have the entire family grab their sneakers. Regular exercise actual boosts energy levels. Even a walk or bike round around your neighborhood, playtime at the local park, or a little yoga video in the living room will boost moods and energy.

Your Wee Master Chef: It might be tempting to eat out more in the summer, but that means extra calories and extra expense. Why not encourage your kids to become little master chefs? Kids love to cook dinner for the grown ups in their lives. Have the little ones be your assistant chefs and the older ones can work to make salads, side dishes and even put the dinner on the plates. Other children can host and another act as the waiter or waitress. Everyone has a job and each child can help decorate the kitchen that day to make it your own special “must try restaurant” located in your very own kitchen.

Theme Park Bound: If you have Disney or another theme park on the summer agenda be a bit strategic about when you go. Kids (and their parents) hate to stand in long lines so consider visiting in the morning or evening where you can avoid the crowds and the heat of the day. You can easily fit in some fun pool time at your hotel to occupy the afternoons. Also bring along some clip on fans for strollers to keep your toddlers cool.

For Pregnant Mommies: Consider taking off your rings on those extra hot days. Fingers will swell in the heat and some mommies to be have even had to cut off their wedding rings because soap, water or even lotion didn’t work. It’s easier to remove them for a few months to avoid that situation. Also future mommies should ask their doctors about using a SPF that’s higher than 15 as the sun increases melanin production, which leads to pregnancy mask. Best yet is to stay out of the sun.

Chore Jar: One of our mommy readers sent us a fabulous idea! She told me she writes down 10 to 15 chores for the next seven days and then folds the paper and puts them in a jar. On Sundays after dinner, the family holds a “chore lottery.” Each of the three children reaches into the jar and pick their chores for the week. It’s fair (and fun!) way to divvy up the chores plus when the work is done the piece of paper is put into a special mom jar to let her know. Add some fun things to the jar like: 1 frozen yogurt if your chore is done by Wednesday. Surprise your little love bugs with a slip that says: You Have the Week Off! Love, Mom!

Photo courtesy of Leah Zawadzki/Lily Blue Studios

Mommy Summer Tips: Part 1

June 24, 2015
by vicki, family, motherhood

Mommy Summer Tips: Part 1! #joyofmom


It’s the season of beaching it, holiday weekends and having fun in the sun. Who doesn’t love summer, where the days are warm and the nights mean running the grass trying to catch lightening bugs.

This is Part 1 of my favorite list of random + best of mommy summer tips that will truly make your living easy.

Set A Routine: Make sure to keep some kind of routine that keeps everyone on track including times for meals, outings, etc. Despite how some family members may feel, a schedule (even a relaxed or flexible one) actually is a good thing. It ensures that you and your family don’t miss out on any special things on your summer to-do list.

“Bugging” Out: Who doesn’t love playing in the sandbox? The only issue is those bothersome bugs that scare your child or even bite him or her. Stop bugging out by first removing the old sand. Get rid of or sift through it to make sure there aren’t any bugs. Then mix a small container of cinnamon into the sand. Cinnamon actually repels bugs, and, most importantly, is safe for your kiddos.

Beach Babies: I love to romp around a sandy beach with my kids, but I’m not so thrilled about sand all over the car. Here’s a great way to keep the sand where it belongs: When your kids are done for the day dry off their feet and legs in the parking lot. To avoid any residual sand take a simple bottle of corn starch baby powder (that you can keep in the car) and sprinkle it on their feet and hands. Sand and powder repel each other.

Road Trip: I just love the essential oil aisle at Whole Foods! And summer is the perfect time to put those yummy smelling oils like orange to good use. I put a small amount on my fingers and lightly dab {my car} air conditioning vents plus place little drops on the floor, in both the front and back. Every time we get in the car we smell a fabulous, sweet and, just simply, happy smell!

Too Much Fun In the Sun?: Of course, contact your pediatrician immediately for a serious sunburn or if your child is a baby. For mild sunburn, Moms need to remember that it’s crucial to keep your child hydrated with water and out of the sun after a burn. You can also take a bag of frozen veggies out of the freezer, wrap it in a towel and place on the burn. It’s important to use the towel, so the icy veggies doesn’t cause more damage.

Tomorrow: Part 2 of Mommy Summer Tips

Photo courtesy of Leah Zawadzki/Lily Blue Studios

Popcorn & Pics: Inside Out

June 19, 2015
entertainment, family

Popcorn & Pics: Inside Out #joyofmom


Don’t you love it when you discover a movie that you simply LOVE! You want to share it with your girlfriends, so they can enjoy the magic, the emotions and the laughter. Whether it’s a fab family movie, heart-pounding action-adventure or a heart-warming chick flick/rom com, I love them all. We’re excited to bring you our Joy of Mom flick picks each Friday, so you know what’s worth your precious time. Happy screenings!

Inside Out” This is the summer film for the entire family. You’ll fall in love with 11-year-old Riley, who must deal with real world problems when she must move from her beloved home in the Midwest to the unknown of San Francisco, due to of her father’s new job. Suddenly, all of her inner emotions appear at Headquarters inside of Riley’s mind. The emotions are Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Anger (Lewis Black). Amy Poehler voices the emotion of Joy. Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan are on board as Riley’s parents.

Behind the Scenes: Amy Poehler chats playing “Joy”

Q: Did you worry that Joy would be too joyous?
Amy Poehler: “I just didn’t want her to be overjoyed and annoying . You have to walk a fine line.”

Q: Why did you name your book “Yes Please?”
Amy Poehler: “I liked that it was a question and kind of an answer.”

Q: You have two sons. Any advice for moms?
Amy Poehler: “At the end of the day, as a mom, I believe you have to give yourself a break and not pay attention to other people’s thoughts, opinions or advice.”

One More Thing: Don’t be surprised if this film is nominated for a 2016 Oscar!

Photo Courtesy of Disney PIXAR

Yellow: The Color of Joy

June 18, 2015
by vicki, family, lovely

Yellow: The Color of Joy! #joyofmom

My friends were having a backyard wedding and on their intimate list they included Daisy, their 84-year-old widowed neighbor from across the street. She arrived in her spry way holding a big box with a note on top. The bride and groom opened the presents later that night and smiled at their new yellow dishes, bowls and coffee mugs. The note read: “For those days when you need a little yellow in your life.”

Daisy was absolutely right. Yellow has been called a “joy ray” which appealed to me at Joy of Mom! It has also been dubbed “the color of being happy and blissful.” And, since I can remember, yellow has alway been my fave color.

Just the other day, I was in the Container Store and needed a little yellow in my life on a rainy and cold Chicago {almost} summer day. Thunderstorms were looming and the sky was a greenish-black. I just love these cozy days and was excited to bring a little yellow home with me. I bought 18 bright yellow hangers for $5.76 cents and I was quite excited to get home and sprinkle a little sunshine in my closet. (Plus I always love me a little organizing!)

What is it about yellow that warms or brightens us? First, it’s not just in our imaginations. According to studies done in Amsterdam, adults reported feeling happier around both green and yellow, which are natural mood boosters because they remind us of green grass and life empowering sunshine. A report in Psychology Today said that the color yellow naturally brightens spirits.

Now that we know yellow is something sanctioned by science, in addition to how we know it can stir our soul, how can we add more of this fab color and feeling into our lives?

Here are a few ways:

~ Paint your child’s playroom your or their favorite shade of yellow to bring the sunshine in, especially if you live in a colder climate. Or be on the lookout at sales or even garage sales for a giant yellow throw rug to put into a child’s room, basement or family room.

~ Treat yourself to a bunch of daffodils or yellow tulips. It’s a great way to bring that pop of yellow into your kitchen where you can look at them all the time. Or if you prefer a strong flower why not buy some large yellow sunflowers and keep them in your bedroom, so you can wake up to yellow even on gloomy days?

~ Use yellow strategically. Hard getting up in the morning? Why not try a yellow soap or scrubbing puff in the shower? Or buy a piece of pottery painted yellow to put next to your alarm clock? Have that big pot of daisies as the view while you eat breakfast.

~ Buy a bag of lemons and keep them in a bowl in the kitchen or even a few in the bathroom. By the way, scientists also have proven that the scent of citrus wakes us up and sparks our creative juices!

~ Buy a favorite article(s) of clothing in yellow including a T-shirt or soft, comfy sweat jacket as your go-to grab after the gym.

~ Plant a garden with your favorite yellows including sunflowers, yellow peppers, or even try a small lemon tree, which will last for years of all that good lemon mood boosting!

As for me, I’m yellowing up my closet tonight. It’s the perfect way to bring a pop of happy each time I open the door. (And, I’ll be pulling together a bag of clothes although I really like, I haven’t worn in a while. I do this regularly… Even tho I don’t have a lot of clothes, I love going through what I have and passing them on to other moms and women who would love or need, like business clothes I rarely wear, etc. {Will share more on the gift of giving, recycling, and passing it on in another blog!}

Fab plates, cups and bowls courtesy of: Anthropology

Father’s Day

June 16, 2015

Happy Father's Day! #joyofmom


Father’s Day

He’s the guy who provides the best bear hugs. Or walks the puppy in the rain.

When your little one is sick, he is the one who stands there like a rock saying, “It’s going to be okay. Really.”

Dads make it all worthwhile with their love, kindness, strength and support. Just like Mother’s Day, I don’t think that we should just celebrate fathers just one day of the year — but it sure feels good to honor them, which is what I’ll be doing Sunday as a reminder to do this throughout the year.

It begs the question: What can you get Dad for Father’s Day?

Gifts can range from low to no cost like a beautiful picture or journal your child draws or writes in, to the more expensive offerings that reflect Dad’s interests. In the end, it’s all about the thought and intention. Personally, I know that love is the best present and spending time with Dad is the real win for the whole family.

Here are a few of my other favorite Dad’s Day gift ideas:

For the Golfing Dad: Want to show Dad some love on the golf course? Try the personalized I Heart Dad golf ball set of three golf balls, so Dad can get some love when things get rough. There is also a custom silver golf ball marker called Kiss My Putt with personalized two names on it. You can write Best Dad or Best Grandpa.

For the New Dad: Men as well as women do their fair share of brining baby along. But Dad doesn’t want a mom diaper bag on his shoulder. Why not get him a manly men’s messenger diaper bag in male colors like dark grey or even camouflage. These bags are roomy and scream, “Dad with a little dude or dude-ette on board.”

For Dads of Teens Who Love Fitness With The Kids: Try a Spikeball for Dad to bring out after the final burgers are grilled. Kids and parents of all ages and every athletic ability can enjoy all summer.

For the Stressed Out Dad: Level Naturals. Established in 2009, this natural brand founded by Jonathan Andrew and Sabrina Robertson uses ingredients that are all organic and don’t look too female. Their soaps and bath bombs are the bomb. And you can even try a shower bomb that transforms your home into a spa. Just drop the shower bomb near your feet under direct water, but away from the drain. Dad’s stress will melt away thanks to the organic menthol and eucalyptus scent mixed with the steam. Inhale. Exhale.

For the Dad Athlete: If your man is working towards the kind of six-pack you want around the house then give him the fitness gift that gives to everyone as Dad remains healthy and strong. Smart Fit Bands combine beautiful design and HD screen with waterproof watches that track your food, fitness activities, sleep and even include social media and historical data. Dad even gets amazing workouts from celeb trainer extraordinaire Shawnee Harkins.

For the Dad Who Loves Clean Scents: Forget about him stealing your beauty products. Get him on an anti-aging regime that’s actually manly with Das Boom products. Try their Everything Bar Soaps in scents including West Indies soap (Bay Rum, Smoke), Bourbon County (Bourbon and Leather) or Denali soap (juniper, pine and cedar). There’s even a Detroit soap (tobacco, musk and motor oil). Soaps are available in bar or liquid form, plus they have amazing shaving kits including the Everything Shave Box complete with a hand-forged steel straight razor, boar bristle shaving brush, pocket comb and everything bar.

For the Dad Who Loves the Great Outdoors: It’s a timeless product that makes everyone smile. Why not get Dad a new Schwinn bike. He can tool around with you and the kids or get his mountain man biking guy on for fitness outings. A new bike and a big bow around it is a timeless gift that keeps giving.

For the Dapper Dad: If he’s a bit Don Draper then get him a vintage looking Graham iPhone Case. It’s soft, durable brown saddle leather that looks rich, plus it’s functional with a camera hole in the back of the case for easy photo needs. There is also free monogramming if you order early enough and a space for money and credit cards.

Give Your Dad the Gift of Beautiful Memories: Give him the gift of the stories you share, written in your own words. And when you’re finished, this book will be a keepsake—a commemoration of his love, his hard work, and everything he means to you.

For the Well Groomed Dad: Stay groomed on the go with the Minimergency Kit for Him. This mustachioed flip-top tin is the size of a deck of cards, yet it contains 13 personal care essentials for men.

Let’s celebrate all the great moms and dads out there! And let’s never forget the very best gift is your happy child saying, “Love you, Mommy. Love you, Daddy.”

And celebrate all the great moms and dads out there who know that the best gift is that happy child screaming, “Love you, Mommy. Love you, Daddy.”

Saying So Long

June 9, 2015
by vicki, family, motherhood

Saying So Long! #joyofmom


Saying So Long

How do you say goodbye?

It’s a lesson I’ve tried to teach my daughter over the years. Yes, she has said goodbye to her teachers, close friends who’ve moved, beloved and cherished pets. What happened the other day was a different kind of farewell. My daughter just graduated from college and it’s bittersweet to say so long to a place that has been a home for four years. Even more so to leave two roommates that are now family.

The girls have done much more than live in an apartment together. They’ve grown up together during the years when their families were far away. They shared their hopes and dreams, fears and traumas, joys and sorrows during a time when they were taking those first shaky steps as independent young women.

They’ve also shared the world’s traumas that were a little too close for comfort including the Boston bombing. Then there were natural disasters including the hurricane, which coincided with their move in day! And the record-breaking snowfall in Boston. As well as the countless days (over the past two years) where Bostonians were mandated to stay off the streets for their own safety.

They grew from it all. In the coldest parts of the winter, there was often a warm bowl of soup waiting when you got home. If the news was scary, there was another roommate on the sofa next to you. When school was stressful there was an open ear and heart at the kitchen table.

These girls were not just an amazing support system for each other, they were a long-distance mom’s best friend! If one of them wasn’t around, we moms could easily ask either of them, “Is she OK? “ The moms trusted their answers because the happiness of everyone in that little apartment meant something to each of them.

Their friendships were beautiful, real, wild and complex and also delicate. Living together brings all the little life issues to the bigger moments. It warms my heart to know that the girls weren’t alone and could walk into another room and find someone who deeply cared.

Last week, graduation was a happy and sad event as the girls are leaving Boston and scattering to different parts of the world. They’re starting new lives as they continue on their separate paths to make a mark, and a difference, in the world. There was the inevitable packing up of the apartment as they also put away their day-to-day bond. No, it will never be the same. As usual, time moves us along and people scatter. Of course, there are phones and iChats, but it will never be the same as walking in that front door and saying, “I can’t believe what happened to me today.”

This is another life lesson our kids learn. Friends will come and go. Bonds will strengthen and occasionally break.

How many of you moms reading remember an old friend you haven’t spoken with in years? Did you remember to keep in touch? Did you have time? Could you still reach out?

I shared with my daughter the importance of cherishing the beauty of close friendships as one of life’s true gifts, and the importance of adding action to those feelings. In other words, pick up the phone, make a plane reservation, and don’t allow too much time to slip by. She already knew this. She’s been an old soul. Always.

As I write this, my eyes are welled with tears as I think about one of my best friends from college and how we lost 25 years of precious time. We reconnected two years ago when her beloved mother passed on. Another friend from college reached out to me to let me know, as she feared I wouldn’t hear the news. I literally dropped everything and ran right over to be by her side. I would have traveled around the world to do so. When our eyes finally met, we agreed in an unspoken look (that only old friends know) to never lose touch again. We haven’t. And we won’t.

When the last box was packed in Boston just days ago, I hugged the girls and told them that I loved them. And I thanked them for being there for my daughter and for each other.

Ines (one of her roommies) left a little note in each of the girls’ rooms the last day reminding them to keep striving for their dreams and to remember that the other two are only a phone call away no matter where their journeys take them – and that they must vow to call each other.

I guess that’s how you say goodbye.

With a note.

And a promise.

The Power of Organizing

June 1, 2015
by vicki, inspiration

The Power of Organizing! #joyofmom


The Power of Organizing

There are things in life that instantly make us feel better. A warm hug. The smell of lilacs this time of year. Chocolate!

I want to add one more to the list: De-cluttering. There is a power that comes with organizing that is truly day, month and year changing. Nothing makes me feel instantly better than organizing and arranging. If I have a ton of things to do, I’m the type of mom who will stop for a few minutes and know what needs to be done first: I’ll organize.

Even if it’s tackling one drawer, one corner of a closet, or one cozy nook at a time. When I was recently in Boston helping my daughter pack up after graduation, she looked (and felt) overwhelmed with the proof (aka piles!) of how four years of living can accumulate pretty quickly. Plus there were so many things to do in order to move her life back to Chicago.

In the midst of all this chaos, I couldn’t help but notice her purse (open on her kitchen table) and how it looked like a microcosm of the clutter around her apartment. We gave each other a knowing look (afterall, she is my daughter!) and then we dumped the thing. It was actually fun to remove all the old gum wrappers and dust bunnies while tossing the unnecessary receipts. She said she actually felt better! A lot better. And instantly so.

My rule: If you don’t need it, toss it! The good news is that science backs me up here. Researchers at Princeton University Neuroscience Institute conducted a study that indicated that clutter is actually bad for your brain. They found multiple stimulations in your visual field at the same time compete for your neural representation and limit your ability to process. My other rule: if it doesn’t bring you joy (looking at it, using it, living with it) it’s time to pass it on to someone who will be happy to have it and use it.

So for today, I wanted to share a few inspirational items to get your organizational juices flowing.

Let’s get started!

xo, Vicki

~ Trust us, it’s really life-changing The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Clear bins help you quickly see what’s inside, and come in endless sizes

~ With bins this cute, getting them to help cleanup shouldn’t be too hard (we hope)

~ Modern, yet classic, for letters, notes and office supplies

~ Organize all your shower essentials

~ A lovely way to store + organize (and hide) towels and toilet paper

All rights reserved © Joy of Mom · Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie