Posts from July 2015

Popcorn & Pics: Shaun The Sheep

July 31, 2015
entertainment, family



Just say baaaaa. Mommies can rejoice because there is FINALLY a big screen movie for the little ones. Shaun is the most adorable little sheep and a little brainiac barnyard boo boo who decides to take the day off and have some fun. Of course, our little furry guy gets into way more trouble than he anticipated. He has a major mix up with a farmer and has to climb a very steep hill on his way to a place called the Big City!

Behind The Scenes: Shaun is a British stop-motion film based on the animated TV series and also a spin-off of the hit “Wallace and Gromit” franchise. Shaun in the series has madcap adventures around his farm where he is the leader of his flock. You know this is a quality project because it’s from the legendary Aardman Animations and commissioned by the BBC. If your child falls in love with Shaun, you can order the seasons on Amazon.

Fun Fact: The series even has its own spin-off called “Timmy Time” starring Shaun’s small cousin and aimed at preschoolers. Don’t dare call these creatures livestock. Call this love-stock!

Photo courtesy of IMDB

We Time Vs Me Time

July 29, 2015
family, lifestyle, motherhood

We Time Vs Me Time! #joyofmom


I remember the early days when my son was a baby and taking a shower was an actual event. Could I leave the baby for a few minutes even though he was sleeping? Was my husband watching? Should I pop out of the shower in my terry cloth towel and check one more time? Do you know how many little drips were in the hallway when I checked on the person who was checking on my son?

As mothers, our time goes from “me” to “we” the minute that we gaze at our beautiful children for the very first time. It begs the question: Is it selfish to take a little time for yourself? I was reading a recent story on Yahoo Parenting where “The Biggest Loser Host” Alison Sweeney said, “I try to impress upon parent contestants the same thing I tell myself: It isn’t selfish to give yourself the time and energy you need to be healthy.”

I think Alison makes an amazing point. I know so many moms in yoga class or who run around the track by my house who feel so guilty about taking that bit of time to work on themselves. Surely, there are a million things to do at home or with their child. Was it fair for them to take that hour (door-to-door) to do something for themselves. I say a resounding yes! A healthy mother can only give so much more to her children, and so can one who is engaged in life and striving to be her own personal best.

In this interview, the lovely Alison went on to say, “Working out, getting to sleep on time…those things make me a better parent. Being the strongest me I can be allows me to be there for my family.”

Absolutely, 100 percent, true. I believe that you’re a child’s first and number one teacher. Your lessons are the 24-7 kind and those little eyes are always watching. Do you want your child to see a frazzled Mommy who eats junk food and never exercises, only to lament the fact that she feels those extra pounds? Do you want your son or daughter to have a mom with little to no energy reserve? Or would you rather defy the age on your driver’s license, take time for yourself in the name of health, and be on that playground kicking that soccer ball and running like the wind? You also want your child to see you in other roles: as a caring child to your own parents, as a good friend and a great partner to your mate.

I know that it’s tough to take any time away from your child, especially in a world where many of us have to spend hours away due to work. The idea of another chunk of time away isn’t optimal, but it’s often necessary. Perhaps you can involve your child in exercise. If not, take a little “me time” and then bring all your gusto to your “we time.”

It isn’t selfish. It’s your best self that will be on the Mommy front lines – for your child, your family, and you.

Get The Itch Out Of Summer

July 27, 2015
family, motherhood

Get The Itch Out Of Summer! #joyofmom


Ah, summer! I love everything about it from the beach to the long, lazy nights in the backyard hanging out with my family. The music is playing, the food is yummy and then….darn it! Another bug is feasting off my arm or leg.

The one thing I don’t like about this season is these “souvenirs” from our time outdoors. It’s especially tough for moms of little ones who just want to scratch and scratch. Why? It itches, Mom!

First a little info: It itches because mosquitos do drink our blood as food.

You start to scratch because the little buggers inject you with anticoagulant to stop your blood from clotting while they drink. The end result is a minor allergic reaction or red bump that’s itchy.

Here are a few of the most natural, DIY bug bite treatments for your kids. Of course, see your doc if the condition persists or seems serious.

*Your first course of action is to keep some antihistamine cream or stick at the ready to stop the swelling and itch. Let’s say it’s missing or you’re out of it. Rush the bite victim into the kitchen where you can have some damp and chilled (keep them in the fridge always) green tea bags on hand. The cold of the bag will stop the itch and the actual compounds in the tea stop the inflammation.

*Always keep aloe vera in your fridge or grow an aloe vera plant in your home. This plant has amazing anti-inflammatory properties and will draw the sting out of a bug bite. If you keep cold aloe gel in the fridge then the chilliness of it will also stop the itch.

*Still itching? Crush one regular aspirin and mix it with a few drops of water to make a paste. Put the paste right on the bite. The salicylic acid in the aspirin (also anti-inflammatory) gets rid of the itch.

*Insist that your little one takes a quick bath. Take half a cup of oatmeal and put it in the tub as you run the water to help cope with the itch.

*Rubbing alcohol can remove the itch, but going on it can sting, too. Warn your child and say that you’re zapping the bug juices together.

*Do you like to camp? Always keep some honey on hand because it contains a natural antiseptic ingredient. This is also a good way in the wild (or the wilds of suburbia) to prevent infection. (Don’t do this is you plan to stay outdoors, however, as the sugar in honey could bring more bugs your way.)

*Another quick kitchen cure is to rub a basil leaf on the bite. Many moms insist that the itching stops immediately.

*If your kids turn bites into little infections because they scratch all night long then try to make a game out of not itching. Put a piece of clear scotch tape over the bite before bedtime and tell them that there will be a special surprise in the morning if it’s still there.

*You can mix baking soda with warm water by taking one tablespoon of it mixed with one pint of water. Gently apply to bite with clean fingers or a cotton ball. Leave on and then wash.

*Mix baking soda with a few drops of household cleaning ammonia to form a paste. Place on the bite, allow to dry and later wash with warm water.

*Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and place it on the bite. Leave for several minutes and then wash with warm water.

*Create a thick paste from a pinch of corn flour with several drops of apple cider vinegar. Place on the bite. Allow the paste to dry and the itching will have stopped. Wash with warm water. If your child is squirmy then put a bandage over the mix to keep it in place until it dries.

You can even try a variety of all of the above to get the itch out. Here’s to enjoying the rest of our cherished summer time with our family ~ sans the itchy bug bites!

Popcorn & Pics: Pixels

July 24, 2015
entertainment, family



If your kiddos have a hard time putting down their favorite games then this is the movie that will finally let their fingers take a rest because it’s about video games. One of our favorite and most lovable comedians Adam Sandler stars in the story of aliens who misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war and then attack Earth in the form of our favorite video game characters. Yes, that’s Pac Man gobbling up San Francisco! Along with Adam, the film also stars Kevin James, Peter Dinklage and Michelle Monaghan. It’s perfect, mindless, end of summer fun from director Chris Columbus who gave us the first “Harry Potter” film.

Behind The Scenes: Get ready to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop in a very different way. Star Kevin James plays the President of the United States. “It’s a different role for me,” he says. “As president, I’m commanding, yet accessible.” Kevin adds, “He’s a good guy in a family film, which makes me really happy because those are my favorite films.”

Fun Fact: The busy Dad of four did the film for one reason. “Like most parents, I really want to sit next to my kids in a movie theater and laugh with them,” he says. In the end, you can sit next to your kids, grab a little popcorn and let “Pixels” cool you off on a hot summer day.

Enjoy Pixels and, most importantly, enjoy it with your precious family!

Photo courtesy of Sony

10 Ways to Declutter Your Mommy Life

July 20, 2015
family, motherhood

10 Ways to Declutter Your Mommy Life Before Summer Is Over! #joyofmom


Tick, tock, tick, tock. That sound you’re hearing in your heart is summer beginning to wind down.

For most of us, there are only six more weeks (!) until the new school year begins. Are you already asking yourself: Where did my summer go? If so, it’s time to declutter your Mommy life and make some real time to enjoy the last weeks of the glorious and gorgeous warm weather months. Here’s how:

Step 1: Slim Your Schedule. Of course, there are those never-seen relatives coming to town and invites to pool parties from that child your child barely knows. It’s time to go through your schedule and only say “yes” to those activities that really make sense. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with “should I do’s?” then say no to two out of three of them. The goal is take some family time out just for your little tribe. Leave one or two free nights a week for your family to do something fun and spontaneous like a bike ride or movies in the park. Summer is about seizing the moments.

Step 2: Put Down the Social Media. You might get on your kids for bringing their devices to dinner, but how many summer nights have you wasted just hanging out on IG or FB. Stage a Social Media Takedown night once or twice a week where no one touches a device from the hours of 7 to 10 p.m. You might be met with “seriously, mom?”, but it will be worth it to have your child back from Snapchat and Instagram.

Step 3: Don’t Rush the Season. Sure, your kiddos might want to load up on all the back to school stuff we’re already seeing at the stores, but put the brakes on. It’s still really early and you don’t want to be in school mode just yet. Why not re-focus on summer, the precious slower moments, and that great pool, park or picnic. Don’t end your summer before it’s really over.

Step 4: Do a MAJOR Summer Cleaning. I love spring cleaning, but now that the kids have been home for weeks the house is starting to look like a mess again. Instead of endless little cleans, stage a whopper one. Have your kids donate old toys and clothes, while they also help you de-clutter the kitchen. Purge the old pots, pans and gadgets that should be in that giveaway box. As a Mom, get rid of your old beauty products that have been lingering over a year (when the chemicals change and can become dangerous). Clean out every room in the house by going through doors and closets. A huge purge feels good and leaves room for what’s new and fresh. Reward the family for a hot, sweaty job well done with some fun beach or pool time.

Step 5: Figure Out Finances. We’re more than halfway through the year. It’s a good time to get a grip on family finances before the holiday season sneaks up on us. Look at your credit cards and figure out how to start saving now. You’ll be glad you paid attention come November-December.

Step 6: Have A Mid Summer Fiesta. All the graduation and holiday parties are over now leaving many families with nothing to do on weekends. Get together with another mom or 2 and through a mid-summer fiesta at a local park or a yard. It’s something to look forward to during the dog days of summer and a way to reconnect before the busy back-to-school rush starts.

Step 7: Plan a Date Night With Your Mate. With all the family fun of summer, you might forget about a little couple time. Get tickets to that great outdoor concert or book a table to dine al fresco. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but make the time to plan an amazing night out with your love.

Step 8: Live in the Moment. There will always be chores and things to do, but you need to know when to shut all that into the OFF position. The key is living in the moment because this moment will never be here again. What’s better than chasing fireflies in the dark? Or grabbing some frozen yogurt and sitting on the curb while half of your neighbors show up to do the same thing? Summer is about the little moments. Make sure that yours is not spent in front of a screen (TV or computer) and you’re getting out there to enjoy the balmy nights.

In the end, you can de-clutter your Mommy life by focusing on what’s important: Your family. Summer 2015 will soon be a memory, but what you’ve done to make it memorable will last a lifetime.

Popcorn & Pics: ANT-MAN

July 17, 2015
entertainment, family

Popcorn & Pics: ANT-MAN #joyofmom


He’s just an uber-busy Dad who wants to protect his daughter. He’s also a sleek suited superhero who knows how to shrink way, way, way down! (Please don’t take him to a picnic either) Introducing…Ant-Man, the next big budget action flick of summer starring one of our movie favorites, Paul Rudd from “This is 40.” Paul plays the duel roles of Scott Lang and Ant-Man in the story of a man who must find his inner hero to conquer major odds. When his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) plots a heist to save the world, Scott find the ability to shrink down to ant size and grow in strength at the same time. Why? “He’s basically just a man trying to protect his daughter from harm,” says Rudd. “Isn’t that the best reason of all to save the world? You want to protect your kids at any cost.” (Gotta love that!!)

Behind the Scenes: Rudd is 46, but got into super shape for the film by leaning out his diet and giving up his beloved burgers. Yet, he still worried about a scene where he had to show his six-pack. “I am very self-conscious,” Rudd said. “The day we shot that scene, I think I ate only one almond. And I still felt so bloated!” He did love wearing the sleek Ant-Man suit. “I even wore it on my day off,” he joked. “I wore it home. You should see me do karaoke in the Ant-Man suit.”

Fun Fact: Rudd is a Dad to son Jack, 9, and daughter Darby, 5, with wife, Julie Yaeger. “Originally, my son said I wasn’t cool enough to be Ant-Man!” Rudd fretted. Then they went to an early screening. “My son said, ‘Dad, you killed it!’ That was the best review of ever.” (Is that so sweet…. I literally have chills now.)

This is a fun movie for families where you’ll be rooting for the little guy with the huge heart!

Photo courtesy of Marvel

Recipe: Beauty Juicing

July 15, 2015
family, recipes

Recipe: Beauty Juicing #joyofmom


She takes care of the skin belonging to some of Hollywood’s biggest mommies including Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts. Joanna Vargas, celebrity esthetician and organic skincare specialist, says that true beauty begins from inside.

To that end, she’s passionate on juicing to be healthy and have gorgeous skin. Juicing aides in detoxing, weight loss and glowing skin. It also combats the damaging effects of stress, toxins and even aging so your skin can look radiant.

In the spirit of getting us going, she shared a few of her favorite juice recipes with Joy of Mom! Thanks Joanna!

Joanna’s Favorite Green Juice

This recipe will hydrate your skin and encourage your lymphatic system to drain, getting rid of bloating and glowing.

“The greens instantly hydrate the skin while encouraging lymphatic drainage, so you are de-puffed and glowing!”

1 green apple
1 handful parsley
1 handful kale3 stalks celery
1/2 cucumber
1/2 lemon
1 inch ginger
2 handfuls romaine

Blend and enjoy.

Knock Out Your Craving for Sweets

This will help get rid of your sugar cravings:

Ginger to taste
4 carrots
1/2 apple

Blend and enjoy.

Super Eight

This veggie-only juice helps relieve stress and aid weight loss.

1 Kale Leaf
1 collard leaf
Handful parsley
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
1/2 red pepper
1 tomato
1 broccoli floret

Blend and enjoy.

A few variations:

Level One:

4 celery
1/3 cucumber
1 bunch parsley
1 apple
Ginger to taste
1 lemon

Level Two:

4 celery
1 bunch parsley
2 handfuls spinach
2 carrots
1 apple
1 bunch cilantro
Lemon and Ginger

Level Three:

4 celery
1 bunch parsley
2 handfuls spinach
1/3 cucumber
2 carrot
1 beet
1/2 kale
Lemon and Ginger

Happy juicing! And here’s to our health and beauty, inside and out!

Essentials To Bring On Family Summer Vacation

July 13, 2015
family, motherhood

Essentials To Bring On Family Summer Vacation! #joyofmom


You’re vacation bound! Get out the suitcases, grab your swimsuit and tell the kiddos to jump in the car. Zoom to the airport and you will be one of millions of moms this month who jump into summer vacation season. Whoo—hooo! Relaxation, plus some well-needed family fun times is just around the bend, over the woods, or through the clouds.

It’s that time of the year to love, laugh and linger at the beach or your favorite destination. As the family vacation season hits us, I wanted to remind moms of several essential items to pack in their carry on airplane bag, which is a mom’s secret weapon on both long or short plane rides.

Happy summer vacay!

My list of favorites.

1. A Fast $20. Kids always want something at the airport, so it’s helpful to have a quick $20 bill in the pocket of your carry on to buy a few {healthy} treats, but not go overboard. Make a game out of it and allow the kids to only spend that money. Or if your kids are bringing their own money and they’re under 12 then put their stash in bags in your carry on. That way, no one is losing their vacation funds.

2. Extra wipes. Kids seem to find goopy, sticky stuff whenever and where ever possible. A savvy mom will have a fresh pack of wipes on hand at all times. Also, the airplane tray that pulls down is always full of germs. It’s a great idea to give it a quick wipe for your kids touch it.

3. Earbuds for all. The worst thing ever on the plane is having a movie and not enough buds for everyone. Make sure to buy/collect some new ones and have them with you to dole out and then collect them so you can issue them out again.

4. Chargers. No longer is my charger packed away where I can get to it. We don’t need that stress of watching our battery drain, planning when we next need to use our phone, and estimating what’s left on the battery. (And doesn’t our phone always seem to drain on hyper speed when we feel we’ll need it most!) Bring at least two chargers (in case one doesn’t work, get’s lost, etc.) and make sure one is in your purse, at all times. It’s a “whew…” to take off our mental to-do or worry-about list. I take the rest of the chargers for electronics, group them together in a bag, and pack away. Easy to find and ready to use when we need them.

5. Gum. Kids hate when their ears pop, so make sure your gum supply is ready to avoid any mid-air tears from pressure changes. Most of us don’t chew that much gum anymore, so it’s an easy item to forget. And if you can plan in advance, there is great tasting healthy chewing gum that you can order online or find at a local market.

6. Nuts and Raisins. Why buy all that expensive, often unhealthy food that the airline sells like cookies and chips. Instead, bring a homemade trail mix packed with almonds, a few chocolate chips and raisins. It will be a treat, an energy boost, plus a much better way to snack.

7. New Chapter Book or Comic. Kids bored on the plane? There’s nothing like something brand new to read that will get their attention. Save it for the trip, so it’s a surprise and then watch them get into it. Make it a contest to see who can read the longest.

8. Deck of Cards. A long plane trip or car ride is the perfect time for fun card games, which will really pass the time and double as a family activity.

9. Cheat Sheet Package. Once you land, you don’t want to be searching for your hotel confirmation or maps. Take one of those big plastic sealed baggies and place in it a copy of your hotel info, all confirmations including car and hotel, plus a map of the new city or any directions you’ve printed out in advance. You can later use that bag for wet swimsuits.

10. Your Inner Child. Hey, moms, you’re on vacation, too. Pack something for you in the bag from a guilty pleasure book or magazines to your favorite CDs for the car or plane ride.

Enjoy! Have fun! That’s what vacation season is all about! And, as always, safe travels!

Photo courtesy of Piper+Claire

Popcorn & Pics: minions

July 10, 2015
entertainment, family


Popcorn & Pics: minions #joyofmom


I wish you could see the big yellow circle on my kitchen calendar because I’ve been waiting – along with all the kiddos out there—for the family fun event movie of summer! Do I need to say their names? Hint: They’re bright yellow and have energy to spare! You don’t know what they’re talking about most of the time, but can’t get enough of listening to their jibber-jabber. In their first ever stand alone movie, Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock). She’s a super-villain who along with hubby Herb wants to take over the world. The Minions prove to our kiddos that it takes a village of yellow creatures to band together and save man and minion kind! My heart is with the Minions here!

Behind the Scenes: Sandra Bullock says that she had “a total blast” playing a bad girl. “That’s how bad I am in real life,” she joked. “Actually, it’s always fun to play the bad girl because it’s so meaty.” Is her preschooler son Louie excited to see his mom animated and ready to wreck some havoc. “He doesn’t know it’s me in the movie,” she says. “I want him to just enjoy the movie. I can tell him when he’s older.” {Don’t you love that!!}

Fun Fact: Moms, if you loved “Mad Men” then listen hard because Sandy’s hubby is played by none other than Jon Hamm. Other celeb voices in the movie include Michael Keaton, Allison Janney and Steve Carell. A lot of the big stars are here because they know that it’s the Minions world. We just live in it! And your kids will love living in it!

I know we’re going to be in a yellow mood this weekend with my favorite animated friends. Minions rule!

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

Summer Sun Protection Tips for Your Family

July 6, 2015
family, links i love, motherhood



Baby, it’s hot outside! In fact, most of the country is stuck in a major heatwave these days from 115 out West to 90 percent humidity in NYC.

Families are active and mommies know that sunscreen is our best friend along with easy sun blockers like floppy hats and sunglasses for yourself and the little ones. Even if it seems like the sun is hiding behind clouds, our skin can still be harmed by the sun’s UV rays (especially children!). It has been proven that children are especially at risk of developing health problems later in life if they experience sunburn.

To avoid burns, it’s recommended by pediatricians to apply sunscreen on our children every day, throughout the day, and to wear sun hats to shield their face and eyes. Here’s our personal favorite sunscreen and hat brands for optimum skincare and sun health for you and your family.

Badger Balm is a broad spectrum protector against UVA & UBA rays using the safe mineral zinc oxide. It contains no Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, or other harsh chemicals that are typically found in sunscreening agents. Instead, it is made with an organic base of sunflower oil, beeswax, and vitamin E. Badger Balm is water resistant for at least 40 minutes, hypoallergenic, and is not tested on animals.

We also truly love Goddess Gardens. This too is an all-natural broad spectrum SPF 30 protector, with zinc and titanium as its active ingredients. You won’t find any synthetic chemicals, paragons, or alcohols in this sunscreen. It is a certified organic product, water resistant for 40 minutes, and comes in a recyclable container.

For babies with the most sensitive skin California Baby is the way to go. Fragrance-free, mineral-based, and PABA free, this sunscreen is perfect for those with skin sensitivities or fragrance allergies. California Baby’s most active ingredient is a highly micronized Titanium Dioxide that scatters and reflects dangerous UV rays. This brand comes highly recommended by leading dermatologists and allergists, and has won many awards for its products such as “Best Sunscreen” from WebMD and babble, and best eco-friendly baby skincare by SheKnows Parenting Awards two years in a row.

To ensure your baby’s face stays completely away from the sun’s harmful rays, sun hats are imperative. Our two favorite brands are Flap happy and i play. Flap happy is a great brand because they have an assortment of floppy hats, flap hats, and crusher hats. Our personal choice is this flap hat with ties. It was designed to provide excellent sun protection by its large brim to shade the face, a flap that covers the ears and neck, an elastic band inside to help the hat fit snuggly around the head, and ties to keep the hat from falling off. This hat can be worn in or out of the water for all-day sun protection.

Our pick from i play is this mod brim hat with ties. This hat has a wide brim and special UV-protective fabric that is breathable, wicks away water, dries quickly and keeps your baby cool and shaded all day long. This hat also has the ties to keep in place, and can be worn in or out of the water. (i play also has a matching swimsuit in the same pattern, so cute!)

Sun protection is an important topic for everyone in the family, especially the little ones. Applying sunscreen each morning is a positive habit that everyone should introduce into their routines. Even in cloudy weather, our skin can be damaged from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. It’s important to apply sunscreen to your children every morning if they are planning to spend time outside, and re-apply every 2 hours as needed. As always, babies under 6 months should be kept out of the sun completely.

Here’s to enjoying the warmer weather, sunshine, and, of course, precious family bonding time outside this summer!

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