Put A Hold On Back To School Time

August 12, 2015
family, lifestyle, motherhood

Put A Hold On Back To School Time! #joyofmom


It started with that special aisle in the market.

My heart began to sink FAST. It was filled with Mead notebooks, lined paper and three ring binders in every color.

“No,” my mind screamed “It’s not that time of the year!” Then I glance again and asked myself, “How can it be here so soon?”

I think every mom feels a bit melancholy when you see that first Back to School sale despite the fact that a clean, beautiful new backpack for your little one does seem like a really good idea. Or maybe it’s that special comforter for the child who is going away to college. Will it be Batman or SpongeBob this year for the little one’s lunchbox? Will it be… STOP. NOT YET.

The first whiff of back to school also begged the question: Where does the time go?

Five minutes ago, it was the last day of school and kids were literally running out those big heavy doors with their hands in the air cheering on summer vacation. Or maybe it was that college student who is finally back from a different time zone with a new maturity. As a mom, I’ve always loved the last day of school because it signals to me that it’s time for some “family time” with the kids.

Gone are those endless nights of homework and projects. Gone are the hectic school schedule of rehearsals and games. Gone is the fact that I can only reach my child through a phone or device, but can’t give him or her a real hug.

Summer is one giant improv where you can find an adventure with your kids at every turn, if you just look for one. I love every part of it from the backyard barbecues where the garden hose attack is on to the lazy family car trips and those big breakfasts at a diner in the middle of nowhere. Summer is sleep overs and sleep ins. Early morning walks. And sweat from that breathless bike ride up the hills. It’s outdoor cafes for heart to heart talks.

Those three months of summer are golden and not just because of the bright morning sunshine declaring another free day to turn into something memorable. Just having this mental break with the kids is priceless, but it moves too fast.

June went by in a blink and suddenly July 4 was over. Gulp, did I hear someone mention Labor Day? Did I really go to the craft’s store and see all the Halloween stuff? Is a giant turkey far behind?

And now…..now, I’m supposed to think about a sale on multi-colored pencils?

Stop the summer. I want to get off the back to school train already.

Quickly, I swung my cart to a different aisle. Then I convinced myself that it’s only mid August and there was precious little time left.

There was still time for another dip in a pool and the promise of movie night at my local park.

But just as I was buying some veggies to grill, my heart sunk. I saw those mini pumpkins in a bin about to be put in the produce aisle as a signal that fall was nipping on my sandals.

Darn it! It’s coming…..but until then I’m enjoying every moment.

Popcorn & Pics: Fantastic Four

August 7, 2015
entertainment, family

Popcorn & Pics: Fantastic Four #joyofmom


Are the kiddos begging you for some fun movie action? Check out the brand new Fantastic Four where we get to meet our quad of superheroes all over again. This time around, the four outsiders find themselves teleporting to a new and dangerous universe where their bodies get rebooted. Once they’re back home, these four must confront their new super powers as they try to save Earth from evil. The cast includes: Kate Mara as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman, Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing.

Behind The Scenes: Jordan said that this is a story of how four strangers turn into a real family. “What I loved about ‘Fantastic Four’ is that it’s about a group of friends who face the odds on their way to becoming that family. They fall apart and come together,” he said. “The message is how you need strong people by your side and those people become your family.”

Fun Fact: Security was running high so there would be no plot or costume spoilers. When Jordan went to the bathroom during outdoor shoots, they had to guard him. “They had to put a gigantic cloak on me because there were photographers sitting on rooftops trying to get a picture of the suits, which could wreck it for the fans. So, we took every precaution.”

This movie is a great escape from the hot weather of early August, so grab your little superheroes and plan to have a fantastic time!

PS: Also remember that moms are full of superpowers {on a daily basis}!

Photo courtesy of IMDB

You Are Who You Eat With

August 5, 2015

You Are Who You Eat With - Joy of Mom

Connection. It’s the most valuable part of a family relationship.

Yet it’s also the first thing to dissolve when we inevitably get busy and distracted. Work demands call our attention. Our older children are busy texting with their friends. Laundry and dishes are a never-ending cycle. We retreat to our phones whenever we get a moment of quiet. We love our family, of course. There is just so much to do.

Then, before we know it, we stop saying what’s important. Our family conversation becomes merely a transfer of information instead of a connection of minds and souls. We suddenly realize that the connection we love is barely there anymore.

Luckily, the Mealtime Movement by Smuckers has been created to combat disconnection and create a connection revolution among families. They declare that “mealtime means taking a moment to enjoy food with humans you care about. And it makes a big difference in how we live and grow.” And we couldn’t agree more.

We love this video that Soul Pancake created for the movement. In the interviews of family members at the beginning, you can see and hear not only the disconnection, but also the longing for a true emotional connection with their family.

The truth of the statement breaks our hearts a little when one of the dads says, “We’re on our phones all the time. It’s really sad.”

Then, when each family sits down to a meal, watches the interviews, and talks…well, we won’t ruin the ending but all we can say is “so many happy tears!”

To learn more about the Mealtime Movement and savoring your time with your family, go to mealtimemovement.com.

5 Best Sunburn Remedies

August 3, 2015
family, motherhood

5 Best Sunburn Remedies #joyofmom


August is here and the days are already getting starting to get shorter. {Yikes!} With hot days ahead and school just around the corner the kiddos along with many of us want to get out there and soak up the last days of fun in the sun. It’s important to protect ourselves in the sun. Despite our best efforts, sometimes we arrive home to find out that our child is tomato red despite all that slathering of 99 SPF block. This weekend there were photos and stories shared about well known sunburn creams that aren’t working despite the fact that moms are trusting these healthy, organic products. Here our tried and true list of sunburn treatments if your little one has unfortunately experienced too many rays.

*Milk has healing powers and works wonders for a sunburn. Grab some gauze or a soft, washcloth and pour milk in a small bowl. Pour the milk in the bowl and make a cold compress, draining the extra liquid. Put the bowl of milk back in the fridge. Leave the compress in place for at least ten minutes. When it becomes room temperature, dip it into cool milk again and reapply.

*Baking soda is another great home product that will soothe your child’s sun issues. Make a paste using cool water (not cold) and place on sunburned areas. Leave on until the sting of the sunburn has diminished. Wash with cool water.

*Aloe is your best friend during a sunburn. Leave your aloe in the fridge, so it’s extra cool and soothing. You can also keep an aloe plant in the house and extract your own gel. Slit the plant leaves down the middle, but don’t cut through. Spread them flat and place what you extract on the burn. You can do the same thing with the store bought gel.

*Even though it might not be your child’s favorite choice, a bath with two cups of plain rolled oats will help heal burned skin thanks to the polysaccharides in the oatmeal. Grab some fun bath toys and make a tepid or cool bath for your child. The cooler water will also be soothing. Another way: Fill a clean, cotton tube sock with the uncooked oatmeal and cinch off the top. Toss this into a cool bath. Then squeeze out the sock to get all the healing properties into the water. Gently pat dry your child with a soft towel.

*If you’re on a car trip and don’t have time for a bath just head to the nearest grocery store and buy a few cartons of plain yogurt. Packed with enzymes that are true healers, yogurt is a great help. Apply the yogurt directly to the burn area including your child’s face and let it remain for five minutes. Then rinse with cool water. The probiotics also help with the healing. You can reapply this treatment several times throughout the day.

*One thing never to do with a child’s sunburn is run a bubble bath. The soap will dry out the skin and make it hurt more!

Here’s to fully enjoying and cherishing the last days of summer, sans sunburn pain, with your precious family!

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

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