May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

iStock_000017881451_LargeMay is designated as National Skin Cancer Awareness month. Coincidently, it also happens to be the same month when the bitter memory of winter starts to melt away and we welcome spring and summer with open arms. But before we pack up the kids and head outside, let’s stop for a second to talk about skin cancer.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Currently, 13 million Americans are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, and nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. But there is some good news- because skin cancer is predominantly a lifestyle disease it is also highly preventable!

Here are some helpful tips to ensure that you and your family stay safe in the sun this summer:

  1. Seek the shade: Especially between the hours of 10 AM to 4 PM because this is when the sun is at its strongest. A good rule of thumb is the shadow rule—if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful UV radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer the UV radiation is less intense.
  2. Avoid burning: No one enjoys sunburn to begin with, but research shows that your risk for melanoma doubles if you have had five or more sunburns during your life.
  3. Cover up: Clothing, UV-blocking sunglasses, and hats are a great way to protect you and your family from the sun’s harmful rays. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection; so the more you are able to cover, the better.
  4. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen: You should use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher every day. If you know you are going to be outside for an extended period of time use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  5. Apply Constantly: You should apply your sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outside and reapply every two hours, or immediately after sweating or swimming.
  6. Keep newborns out of the sun: Sunscreens may be used on babies over the age of six months, but they should also be protected by shade and clothing. Children are very sensitive to ultraviolet radiation. Remember, one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.
  7. Know the Warning Signs: The ABCDE’s of Melanoma
    Moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are usually harmless — but not always. Anyone who has more than 100 moles is at greater risk for melanoma. The first signs can appear in one or more atypical moles. That’s why it’s so important to get to know your skin very well and to recognize any changes in the moles on your body. Look for the ABCDE signs of melanoma, and if you see one or more, make an appointment with a physician immediately.
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Play Ball!

By: Jessica Aldred 

baseball-642884_640Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd…bring me a screaming 1 year old and bored preschooler and my days at the ball field are anything but enjoyable. This year is especially difficult as the baby is on the verge of walking- yet insists on crawling laps around the fields- and my preschooler is more interested in the snack bar than the game.

To be honest, it’s mostly the baby. I could totally bribe my middle man with some sort of candy or treat and buy myself a decent chunk of time. I’ve tried baby carriers, strollers and even just letting him crawl but it always ends in an early departure for us. Add to this the sun, the bugs and the 5 night a week commitment and I’m defeated. It’s only two weeks into the season and I’m ready for that final game and the token ‘everyone’s a winner’ trophy.

I feel pretty guilty actually. Due to my husbands’ position as Assistant Coach this year, he has to be at every game so he can’t even help me out or stay home with the little ones while I get to watch my eldest take a few swings. I guess you sign up for this stuff when you start having additional kids but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. This isn’t the first time we’ve run into this issue, but it is the first time that one of us has had to be on the field. As a result, we can’t take turns attending games or play ‘pass the baby’ while we both try to enjoy a few minutes of the game.

I watch other little kids skip and play with the butterflies (or mosquitos), and sit calmly on beach blankets spread out beyond the outfield. I often find myself thinking “what the heck is wrong with my kids?” I don’t need to be reminded that they’re “active” little boys, but it just seems like we never have those calm moments where we can actually enjoy an activity. Someone is almost always in need of something, having a meltdown or is screaming that they’re bored. While I doubt I’ll get to see my son play too many times this season, I do intend to suck it up and drag the whole lot of them down to the field and grin and bear it for a game or two.

If you see, or hear us coming, just put your head down and move along. I’m interested to hear how other parents deal with this juggling act and actually getting to watch your older kids play.

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Playground Moms

By: Kathy Trainor 

The slide, the swing and the see-saw- all places for kids to explore and play. You see groups of moms setting up shop in the bench and you are left looking around going OH BOY what did I get myself into.. Even if you have your favorite coffee with you the people watching is going to blow your top. As I write this post I keep in mind this is all in fun and humor.  Unknown3

Everyday moms: They know the best bench, they hog all the shade on that 90 degree day.  They will often offer to share snacks with other moms’ kids.  They know each other so well they don’t even schedule the next play date because they know they will be there at 10 am tomorrow.  These moms make you think, “I need to be better organized.”

Earthy Crunch Mom: This mom you can see right away you can see her from the parking lot. She has the bio diesels car. She brought all 4 children in backpacks. She also just made some home-made medication out of plant for her child’s head gash. This mom is very groovy to talk to, but often leaves you saying wow I wish I had that will power to play it so cool and last so long at what she does.  She is truly empowering right?

Drill Sgt. Mom:  This spit fire of a mom is me. I have given so many time outs in the middle of the mulch it makes “regular moms” give up the shady spot over on the playground because they don’t want to hear me anymore.  People often look at this mom as a bit anal retentive, but I say to ROCK ON! You know your rules and they are the same at home and away.

Cool Mom: Cool mom looks like she walked off a runway shoot. She pushes the swing cooler, she makes cooler sandcastles and often knows she is being so cool she makes a point to be loud about her cool-ness.

The Day-Care “Moms”: These woman have 2-3 extra kids in tow. They could be a nanny, a baby sitter or the poor mom who get stuck on sitter duty for the day. They are often trapped because if the kid they are watching rips a shovel from another kid they have to keep calm and not flip a lid. Otherwise they may be out of a gig.

Double Trouble Mom  (or triple):  This mom has twins, or 2 children under the age of 2 or maybe 3 under 3.. She spins faster than a Tasmanian devil and look like she could use your coffee and a shot of khalua too. I feel for this mom only because she is really me . She knows she has control at home, but in public her children have turned into evil spawn who always run the other way from each other

Social Media and Texting Moms:  This mom got a pretty cool bench but really doesn’t need it. Now don’t get me wrong I wish I could bury my head in my tablet while my kid climbs the fence and ignore the fact they are causing Sammy to fall off the see-saw.  I partly envy her. For all I know, she’s working.  I just wish I was able to tune it all out.

Lonely Mom: This is also me. I have 2 children 14 months apart. I just want to talk to someone other than the wall.  She wants to set up playdates. She wants to run with the wind and leave children behind, but she would really love to be part of the regular mom crew so she can just talk.

 A+ Mom: Another mom that goes over the top she has Green Snacks and some how her stroller has solar panels and her children shoes are recycled from cloth diaper poop. I really can’t say much more cause I am not A+ mom- I am totally more of a D- mom At least I’m not an F- mom, right?

Older moms : This one is hard because they are often as young as you or not. They can also be grandparent as parents. Regardless, they have a passion and love for this child. The child can do no wrong and is often being told candy and ice cream are the next stop. Don’t be fooled, they are old school and will expect all children to be perfect like their little angel.

Dads: Dad’s are the best play ground type . The know the rules, ever very social and truly enjoy their time at the park.  They also tend to have less issues getting their child to leave the playground.  You never see a dad with a toddler gripping the slid not wanting to leave.

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Food Safety Tips

shish-kebab-417994__180‘Tis the season for picnics, cookouts, and other outdoor parties! As the weather starts to warm up, and many of us start planning summer picnics and barbeques, it’s important to brush up on our food safety tips to ensure that everyone stays healthy.

Eating outdoors in warm weather can present a food safety challenge. Bacteria in food multiply faster at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, so summer heat makes the basics of food safety especially important.

Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take to keep your family from becoming ill.

1. Wash Your Hands

While it may seem basic, not everyone does this! Wash hands well, and often, with soap and water after using the bathroom and before cooking and eating. And always wash your hands between touching raw food and other food items or surfaces. Keep anti-bacterial wipes or hand sanitizer near by, in case your find yourself outside with nowhere to wash your hands.

2. Avoid Cross Contamination

Don’t use a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for anything else unless it has been properly washed in hot, soapy water first. Keep utensils and surfaces clean. Thoroughly wash all raw fruits and vegetables that you plan on eating.

3. Marinate Food in the Fridge, Not On the Counter

Also, never reuse marinade that was used on raw meat. If you want to use marinade for cooked food be sure to reserve a separate portion.

4. Food Temperature 

To be certain that foods are all the way cooked, be sure to use a food thermometer. Internal temperatures should be at least 165°F for poultry, at least 160°F for burgers and egg products, and at least 140°F for steaks.

5. Refrigerate and Freeze Food Right Away

This may be hard to remember while a party is going on, but food should never be left out of the cooler or off the grill for more than two hours. When the temperature is above 90°F, food should not stay out for longer than an hour. Not sure how long the food has been sitting out? When in doubt, throw it out. 

6. Keep Hot Food Hot

Hot food should be kept at or above 140°F and should be wrapped well and placed in an insulated container. If you are bringing hot take-out food such as fried chicken or barbecue to an outdoor party, eat it within two hours of purchase. In addition to bringing a grill and fuel for cooking to an outdoor location, remember to pack a food thermometer to check that your meat and poultry reach a safe internal temperature. When re-heating food at the outing, be sure it reaches 165°F.

7. Keep Cold Food Cold

Cold food should be held at or below 40°F. Foods like chicken salad and desserts that are in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.

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How the Signature Moms Bloggers Celebrate Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! To celebrate we asked the Signature Mommy Bloggers how they planned to celebrate their special day!

UnknownKathy – We are taking part in a BBQ cook off competition for our BBQ Cook off team.  We are cooking ribs chicken pulled pork and Brisket!

Jessica – This Mother’s Day will be my first as a mom of three! This time last year I was impatiently awaiting the arrival of #3. I’ll spend it waking before the sun, wiping bums, and filling bellies- all those things that come with being a mom.

Heather – One of my favorite Mother’s Day’s was my first.  We celebrated at brunch with family and honored all of the moms- my mom, my mother in law, my grandmother, my sister in law and myself and then my husband, 2 month old son and I went home to nap. It was glorious! Best Mother’s Day ever.

Carolyn– For the second year in a row I will be sending the weekend in Providence RI, at a basketball tournament. My son has games on Saturday and Sunday. I enjoy watching him play and I get to spend time with other basketball Moms. I think all the players and coaches go out of their way to make us all feel really special on that day, and my husband and son always find time to celebrate me. So I will have a great weekend!

Rachel – This year, my family and I are actually in Florida visiting my in laws. So we will spend Mother’s Day with my mother in law. We will most likely go to the beach in the morning then out to a nice lunch. Unfortunately, we need to head back home later in the afternoon. So the rest of my Mother’s Day will be spent in the car, driving back to Massachusetts.

 

Posted in Carolyn Coleman, Heather Desmond O'Neill, Jessica Aldred, Kathy Trainor, Mother's Day, Rachel Ventura, Signature Moms Blog | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wow!

By: Carolyn Coleman 

This is the word I think of when I think of my son. My son turned 16 a few days ago and I thank GOD every day for such an amazing gift. I look at him and I see joy and happiness; I see a young man with a great heart and a kind spirit. Even at 16, he is the kid that can become friends with anyone he meets. I still find it refreshing to go to a parent teacher conference and hear his teachers tell me how great he is and what a pleasure he is to have in class.

Let me step back as to how this gift came about. After being married for almost ten years and helping my husband raise his twin boys, I had been trying, unsuccessfully, for several years to get pregnant. After several trips to the doctors and seeing specialist, I was finally told the only way I would be able to get pregnant would be through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). So this would be the route my husband and I would take. After a few attempts with IVF, I was finally pregnant, but only to find out that it was an ectopic pregnancy. My doctor at that time decided to treat me with a medication to dissolve the pregnancy. In January of 1998 I was rushed to then Brockton City Hospital by ambulance because the ectopic pregnancy had ruptured. Although I knew this pregnancy would not last, I was heartbroken about my loss. That night in the emergency room I was devastated. I remember being in a lot of pain, and the nurses telling me that they were waiting for the on call ER OB GYN to come in to see me. When this OB GYN came in I remember her talking to my husband and me, and telling us that I need to have emergency surgery to have both of my fallopian tubes removed. I was devastated because I was sure that I would have no chance of ever carrying a baby. The next morning the OB GYB who performed the surgery came in my room to talk to me and I was crying because I was certain I would not be able to ever have a baby. Well this doctor assured me that I would be able to carry a pregnancy and give birth. From that moment I called her my Guardian Angel, this was the most sympathetic doctor I had ever meet. Once I left the hospital I went to see her and she became my new OB GYN. When we decided to try again, she was with me through the entire IVF process she and always gave me reassurance that everything would be OK. Without her I don’t know if I would have tried to get pregnant again. She delivered my baby at Brockton City Hospital and 16 years later she is still my OB GYN.

My son is doing normal 16 year old things; he has his learner’s permit, he’s working hard in school and still playing on an elite basketball team.

Special Thanks to my OB GYN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Hi Ho! It’s Off to Work I Go!

By: Jessica Aldred

After nearly 7 years of being home with my children, I finally bit the bullet and reentered the work force full time. While I’ve always worked part time from home, or where my kids could come with me, I haven’t had a full work week, in an office, in years. Holy culture shock!

As if leaving my clingy 10 month old wasn’t hard enough, I now trudge through bumper to bumper traffic 3 days a week. While I’m only required to be in office 20 hours a week, once I get there I feel like I should just hunker down and get as much work done as possible. However, every moment spent in the office is time that I’m away from my home and the ease of running to get a sick kid, kiss a boo-boo, or toss dinner in the oven. I’ve got a great support system helping out from the child care angle, but it’s been very trying for this anxiety ridden mama.

You’d think that by the third kid, you’d be tossing him at whoever walked in the door to watch him, but it’s not that easy. Yes, I cried half way to work that first day and I don’t care who knows it. They drive me nuts when I’m stuck with them all day but I certainly miss their crazy antics while I’m away. With that said, there is certainly something about getting ready for work and being a full-blown adult for the day that is somewhat refreshing. The ease of working from home part time can’t be beat, but there’s something about putting on work clothes, grabbing a coffee and having some semblance of peace for the day, if traffic and meetings equate to peace anyway.

I knew this day would come sooner or later-I had planned on it actually, I just didn’t imagine I’d be leaving an infant at home. I had visions of putting both of my older boys on the bus and taking off for work, but never of leaving that gummy grin behind. I spent a lot of time, and money, on my education so abandoning the career I had always dreamed of was never in the cards. With the ever changing health care coverage offered by companies these days, my hand was somewhat forced to jump back into a full-time spot sooner than expected. It certainly helped that a fantastic opportunity came my way that I just couldn’t let slip by.

In addition to the emotional response of reentering the work force full time, I’ve also found the juggling act of 3 active boys and a home increasingly challenging. It was to be expected I guess, but man are we busy. It’s only my oldest two that have started with the sports and activities but I can only imagine how many directions I’ll be pulled once they’re all in school and activities. Don’t even get me started about the homework issue.

As I navigate this hectic schedule while scrambling to provide for my family, I often wonder: How are you handling this juggling act? Shout it out! We’d love to hear your perspective.

Posted in Jessica Aldred, Signature Moms Blog, working mom | Tagged , , | 1 Comment