Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'm a Coppertone® Water Mom

Fair skin, light brown hair, blue eyes, freckles. A description of my appearance reads like a check-list for skin cancer. Throw in "lived down South from birth to 22" and it's almost a given.

So it came as no surprise in the spring of 2008 when a dermatologist declared the sore that refused to heal in my hairline was actually basal cell carcinoma.

Skin cancer. But not the scary kind.

Basal cell rarely spreads and can be treated by cutting it out. Today I have a pretty cross-shaped scar in my hairline and down the middle of my forehead. And a lesson to be diligent in wearing sunscreen so I avoid sunburns (and skin cancer).

That last part is why I agreed to be a Coppertone® Water Mom. I don't want my children (or anyone else's children) to have a completely preventable scar. So I try to be diligent in applying sunscreen to my kids.

To help me spread the word about Coppertone® and their products they sent me a box filled with great stuff! A beach bag, beach ball, water bottle, 2 full-sized bottles of sunscreen and a ton of sample-sized bottles, as well as coupons.

I'm all for gifting my friends with a free sample of a product that will help protect kids from the harmful UV rays! If you see me, be sure to ask for a sample!

What is your favorite form of sunscreen: stick, lotion, spray, or foam?

Disclosure: As a member of the Coppertone® Water MOMS group, I receive product samples and promotional items to share and use as I see fit.  No monetary compensation has taken place and any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Diet Book for Organic Lovers

O.K. I admit it. I'm a bit of a sucker for diet books. I guess I keep hoping each book is going to tell me I can eat whatever I want, when I want and I'll look slim and beautiful.

We both know any book that told me that would be lying!

My latest diet book is S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim: Conquer cravings, drop pounds, and lose inches by Cynthia Sass. It's... well... predictable.

It begins with a 5-Day, 5-Food Fast Forward. Basically for 5 days you eat spinach, raspberries, almonds, organic eggs, nonfat plain organic yogurt, and some seasonings. The author promises that eating these foods in various combinations will cause you to lose "up to 8 pounds."

I don't doubt this is true. It's called "water weight" and generally happens no matter what diet you go on. Frankly, after eating only those foods for 5 days I'd throw the diet out the window and binge on a hamburger and fries!

After finishing the 5 Day, 5 Food Fast Forward you begin the real diet. This plan calls for you to eat 4 times a day (breakfast, lunch, snack, supper) every 3-5 hours. Makes sense.

Every meal/snack should include: produce, whole grain, lean protein, plant-based fat, and SASS (seasonings). In other words, eat the food pyramid/plate according to correct serving sizes.

Overall I think S.A.S.S. is very basic and a common sense approach to dieting and nutrition. My frustration come from the menus she includes and her insistence on organic foods. She quotes a ton of "studies" to support her claims for organic food and different food combinations.

Warning: I'm climbing on a soapbox.

Folks, just because there is a study does not mean it is scientifically reliable.

If 25, 50 or 100 people were in the study THAT IS NOT A LARGE ENOUGH SAMPLE TO BE RELIABLE. It just isn't. Also, you need to read a study and see what the variables were in it. How did the researcher arrive at her conclusions?

For example, a couple of weeks ago our local news station shared a story from a nearby university in which there were 2 cages of pregnant lab mice. One cage had a turned off cell phone placed on top. The other cage had a turned on cell phone placed on top. After the baby mice were born they were observed for an undisclosed amount of time. The conclusion was that the mice in the cage with the cell phone ON were more hyper and ADD because of the magnetic radiation given off by the cell phone. The hypothesis was then made that if pregnant women spend a lot of time on their cell phones or with their phones on and near their bellies then their babies may be hyperactive.

The above example is terrible science! It didn't tell the distance from the phone to the mice, how the mice were observed or how it was determined that they were hyper. It also didn't test what happened when you used different sized/styles/brands of cell phones. Yet a conclusion was drawn from 2 cages of lab mice.

Most of the studies presented in diet books (and on Facebook!) are also terrible science, just like the cell phone-lab mice study. Be careful to read the studies your nutritional gurus are quoting. 

Climbing off soapbox.

So, what's my conclusion about S.A.S.S.?

If you enjoy eating organic, non-mainstream food (and your family does as well), then this is the diet plan for you. If you don't enjoy that kind of food, then I recommend you stick with the Food Plate, eat correct serving sizes and exercise. You won't drop the pounds overnight but you're more likely to keep them off long term.

What's your favorite diet/nutrition plan?

Disclosure: Thank you to the One2One Network for providing a copy of S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim to aid in my review. The above review is solely my opinion and was not influenced by anyone.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mother - Daughter Matching Skirt and Dress from Fresh Produce Clothes

"Mommy, can we match our clothes today?"

When you are a five year old girlie you LOVE to match your clothes to someone else. When you are a five year old girlie with three brothers you love to match your clothes to Mama.

Our matching winter outfit was easy - camel suede skirts, brown sweaters, brown boots. But with summer coming up we didn't have anything that matched.

Then Fresh Produce a women's sportswear clothing manufacturer and retailer emailed to ask if I would review one of their products. As I looked over the Fresh Produce clothing website (they have brick and mortar stores but none in Rhode Island) I discovered that they sell not only women's clothes but also girl's clothes.

So I replied asking if Ellie and I could review a matching travel skirt and sundress. Obviously from the pictures they said yes!

We selected a Girl's Surplice Dress in Augustine and a Jersey Tiered Skirt in Augustine both peri colored. Both are 100% knit cotton and SO comfortable!

I think their sizes run a little large. I'm wearing a small, which fits perfectly. 

Ellie is wearing a medium, which fits a bit big. She should get at least 2 summers of wear out of this dress, possibly a third summer with a pair of leggings. She is 5 years old and in the 30-50% range of the growth charts, if that helps you with sizing.

I love how modest most of their clothes are! I especially love that the little girl clothes LOOK like little girls. They are modest, colorful, and stylish.

My one complaint is that the peri color looks blueish on my computer but in real life is purple. This of course is one of the hazards of ordering clothing on line. Everyone's computer colors are set differently.

I like the purple color (although I'm not usually a purple kind of girl) and Ellie LOVES that her dress is purple. Over all it's a minor complaint.

If you are looking for a beach dress, a casual dress, or mommy and me outfits for summer I highly recommend you check out Fresh Produce!

Disclosure: I received products from the brand to aid in my review. The opinions above are solely mine and were not influenced by the brand.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!!

This week's menu includes:

Grilled Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Potato Chips, Fruit
Ice Cream and leftover Birthday Cake

Roasted Chicken and Garden Salad

Grilled Steaks, Baked Potatoes, Garden Salad

BBQ Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Fruit

Homemade Pizza and Pineapples


Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs

What are you eating this week?

Linked to:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Honoring the Military with our Cub Scouts

One of the things I love about Cub Scouts is the way they honor service, especially service in the military. As a way to honor our past military members, for Memorial Day we "planted" American flags on all of the graves at the Rhode Island Veteran's Cemetary with our Cub Scout Pack.

As we worked, we talked about the importance of honoring those who serve our country. Joel and I shared stories of our grandfathers who served in the Army during World War II: my grandpa stepped on a land mine in France and lost part of his leg, while Joel's grandfather served as a doctor at a fort in the States.

Today my family thanks the men and women of the United States military for your service and efforts to keep us safe and free. We also thank the families who equally sacrifice while their loved ones are deployed.

Specifically we thank our friends:
  • Dan in the Navy (and Alicia, Timothy, Samantha, and Hannah)
  • Doug in the Navy (and Heather, Vivian, Evan, and Nathan)
  • Pete in the Army (and Barbie, Morgan, and Warren)
  • Victor in the Army (and Sarah, Richard, and Luke)

If you are active or former military we also thank you!!! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

15 Years and Counting!

Fifteen years ago I wore a beautiful white dress and said, "I do" to a handsome young man in a black tux. It's been a crazy 15 years! But then we started off kinda crazy!

Our courtship lasted 9 months. We had been friends for 3 years, hung out together during summer school before our senior year in college, started dating in August, talking about marriage over Thanksgiving vacation, engaged in January, and married in May.

We were so young!!! (And our photographer was so terrible!)

Lots of great college memories represented in this picture!

Still love these girls! Wish we lived closer!!

Joel and Stephanie, May 2012

I can't believe it's been 15 years! 3 apartments. 1 house. 1 chronic disease. 4 c-sections. 3 employers but 1 job. 2 trips to Malaysia. And too many "I love yous" to count.

I can't imagine doing life with anyone else!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Just a Mom or an Entrepreneur?

I feel like I'm back in school writing an essay on "What I did during summer vacation" only my essay could be titled "What I learned at Bloggy Boot Camp."

After listening to 10 speakers in 8 hours my notebook is FULL of quotes and tips for making Stephanie's Mommy Brain better! Tips like: set office hours for myself; focus on one main purpose; and work towards one goal at a time. And my favorite quote of the day, "Blogging has to serve your family." (Tiffany Romero)

Out of all those pages and pages of notes my biggest take-away is this: think and act like an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur is "a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk."

I have blogged for almost 5 years, but I haven't thought of myself as a businesswoman or an entrepreneur. Instead, I've been "just a mom with a blog about my family and what we do." Not that there is anything wrong with that kind of thinking, if your blog only serves as a creative outlet and hobby.

But, I want more from my social media activities. I want to partner with brands to meet the needs of moms and families so I can meet some of the financial needs of my own family.

In order to reach my goal I'm changing how I think of myself and my blog. I'm not "just a mom" with a quirky little hobby. I'm a business woman with  marketable skills and abilities to help moms and brands meet each other's needs. I'm an entrepreneur.

That's what I learned on my Bloggy Boot Camp vacation. What have you learned lately?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Music on the Hill Concert Ticket Giveaway

Music On the Hill: Concert Series in 
East Greenwich, RI

Music On the Hill is an experience the entire family can enjoy right here in Little Rhody! 

Listening to classical music is not only enjoyable for adults but for kids as well. That's why Baby Einstein DVDs are packed with classical music. Studies have been conducted to show a link between classical music and brain activity. This type of music releases neurons in the brain which helps the body to relax, and once it's relaxed it can absorb and learn. Attending a concert together as a family is a great way to get kids interested, involved, and to appreciate this genre of music.

About Music On the Hill (from their website): "Music on the Hill hosts an annual Festival Series of featuring prominent musicians who have come from, or currently live in Rhode Island during the first two weeks of June. Music on the Hill uses St. Luke’s Episcopal Church as a home base and offer concerts at other venues throughout the state. The Festival offers an enriched musical experience by incorporating “culinary concerts” that include a wine tasting, tantalizing appetizers and an assortment of desserts. Performers enhance the audience experience by sharing some history of the music and composers."

The concerts for 2012 are as follows:

Thursday, June 7, 10:30 am
First Baptist Church, Wickford, RI

Friday, June 8, 7:00 pm
St. Gregory the Great Church, Warwick, RI

Sunday, June 10, 7:00 pm
Beethoven, Borodin & Beyond featuring the Apple Hill String Quartet St. Bernard Catholic Church, North Kingstown, RI

Thursday, June 14, 10:30 am
Dance & Romance
Westminster Unitarian Church, East Greenwich, RI

Friday, June 15, 7:00 pm 6:30 pm wine & appetizers German Giants SS Rose & Clement Catholic Church, Warwick, RI

Saturday, June 16, 7:00 pm
European Hopscotch
Westminster Unitarian Church, East Greenwich, RI

John Mark Pellegrino, artistic director
Tickets for each concert are 

$15 in advance, $20 at the door. 
Students are FREE
Cut-­off for advance ticket sales is June 1, 2012.
For more information, visit
or email

Tickets can be purchased online or at The Savory Grape Wine Shop in East Greenwich (Dave's Plaza on Division St)

To WIN a 4-Pack of Tickets to Music On the Hill simply fill out the Rafflecopter below. Winner has a choice to attend any of the above concerts.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Help me pick which shoes to wear!!

I'm going to Bloggy Boot Camp in Philly on Friday and I need your help selecting my shoes!!!

On Friday afternoon I'm attending a welcome reception at the hotel for the #2012BBC attendees. Then in the evening I'm walking a few blocks to a cocktail party/networking event at a restaurant.

Here's the outfit I'm wearing: navy, green and cream floral skirt (falls below my knees); navy knit top; denim jacket; silver jewelry.

If the weather turns cool or rainy I'll wear brown boots. BUT if the weather is warm I need to choose between the 4 pairs of shoes you see in the picture.

What do you think?

Here's a close up of the shoes. The pewter ones also have a texture to them. The cream shoes have a small heel while the other 3 are wedges.

On Saturday I'll attend the actual conference from 9-5. Lots of sitting with a little moving around between sessions. At 5:30 there will be another cocktail party/networking event at the hotel. It's all kinda dressy casual.

Here's the outfit I'm wearing: floral skirt (falls below my knees); green sweater set; silver jewelry; I may exchange the green sweater for the denim jacket if I get cold.

So which shoes?

Here's a close up.

I'm not really a fashion person so please leave a comment with your opinion about which shoes to wear with the blue-green skirt and which to wear with the floral skirt. THANKS!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Moms Need Business Cards, Too!

Has this ever happened to you?

You just met a mom at the playground and spent the last hour talking while your kids ran around burning off energy.

The two of you really clicked. She loves chocolate, you love chocolate. She has a 5 year old, you have a 5 year old. She runs marathons, you run ... well, you walk around the neighborhood briskly on sunny days.

You'd like to get together again. Who knows? She might be your next BFF. But before you can exchange phone numbers or email addresses you've got hot sweaty children climbing all over you asking for snacks and drinks and whining about having sand in their shoes.

What's a mom to do? You could decide the friendship just isn't meant to be, say "nice chatting with you," and walk off to your minivan. OR you could do like my friend, Jen, does.

Mommy Cards

Jen buys "mommy cards." Mommy cards are business cards for moms. On a mommy card you can put your phone number, address, email address, Facebook profile, Twitter profile, the names of your kids, photos of your kids; whatever information you want to hand to someone quickly.

I think Jen's mommy cards are an awesome idea and I've totally used it! Now you can use the idea, too!


I have partnered with UPrinting to give one lucky mom her very own "mommy cards" (or blog business cards for those lucky enough to be headed to Blogher, Bloggy Boot Camp, or Allume!).

Giveaway entries:

Visit UPrinting Business Cards Page and leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite business card die-cut shape and your email address.

  • This giveaway is open to US residents only, 18 years old and above. 
  • No prize substitutions allowed.
  • Winners are allowed to win once over a six-month period
  • Only email addresses used for the giveaway will be eligible to claim the prize. 

I will randomly select a winner the morning of Friday, May 4th. Congratulations Mama Luvs Books! The winner will receive:

  • 250pcs Customizable Die-cut Business Cards for one winner 
  • 2x3.5" Rounded Corners, 2x2" Rounded Corners, 1.75x3.5" Rounded Corners, 2x3.5" Leaf, 2x3.5 Rounded one corner, 2x3.5" Half Circle Side, 2x3.5" Oval, 2.5" Circle 
  • 14pt Cardstock Gloss / Matte / High Gloss (UV), or 13pt Cardstock Uncoated
  • 6 Business Days Turnaround time 
  • Free US shipping only

I'm really excited that I can give away such a great prize to one of my readers! Don't forget to include you email address so I can notify you if you win!!

Disclosure: You should assume that the owner of this blog will receive free print products in exchange for the post. Any and all reviews posted are based solely on my own experience and may be atypical. Please practice due diligence in making any related purchase decisions.
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