Moisturize naturally with Block Island Organics

I was so excited to be given another opportunity to test and review a product from Block Island Organics. They are a local company whose goal is to provide affordable and safe skin care to everyone. Last summer I rreviewed their sunblock, which was AH-MAY-ZING!  It came in handy on our trip to Disney a few weeks ago! So needless to say when they contacted me about reviewing their new Natural Face Moisturizer SPF 30, I didn’t hesitate. If you are conscientious  about what you put on your face like I am, then look no further! It is a great 2-in-1 antioxidant rich product that offers both daily skin hydration and transparent broad spectrum SPF 30 sun protection. Perfect for the fair maidens like myself!

Block Island Organics

Our moisturizer features organic and natural ingredients like aloe, shea butter, green tea, sunflower seed and pomegranate.  As with all of our products, it’s free of parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, phthalates, dyes and artificial fragrances.  We also don’t do animal testing and use vegan-based formulas.

I thought what a better way to test out this product was to go out for a run along the beach. It’s sunny and super windy and I always come back red-faced from windburn and the sun’s rays. I even have the pictures to prove it. I no longer leave the house for a run without this product on my face. The colder temps are coming and with that brings outdoor sports enthusiasts! This would be perfect for a day on the slopes or those outdoor hikes. But of course, it is positively perfect for everyday use; Naturally!


No moisturizer: Red-faced from the sun and wind


Moisturizer: Who is the fairest one of all? ME!

Block Island Organics can be found online at both their online store and Amazon. They are offering my readers a 25% coupon when you purchase from their website and use code joymarie. The coupon code is good from December 15th-December 23rd 2015. What a great stocking stuffer for a friend or perhaps yourself!

Namaste~ Joy


Top 5 Toys For Sensory Kids

I have put together a list of my Top 5 toys for sensory kids. Why? Because it’s that time of year!  If you have a sensational kid you might have noticed they sometimes don’t play with certain toys. Whether it’s the sound it makes, they way it feels or even how it looks, they are turned off.  I remember getting so frustrated around Landon’s birthday and holidays when he was little because he rarely would play with anything we bought. Once we learned what his preferences were, toy shopping wasn’t so bad.  While every toy doesn’t have to have an educational component to it, I do tend to choose ones that encourage creativity, problem solving and that require him to use his tactile sense.

My TOP 5 TOYS for Sensory Kids

Legos– Great for any age!  You can start with the Duplo set and move along to the standard size Lego as they age. While each set builds a specific design, you can custom create just about anything you want with Legos. Landon and I have built castles, upside down houses, double-decker boats and more all using our own imagination! Blocks of any material can work as well, but we are a Lego family! Great for kids who need to work on their fine motor skills among other things! My favorite gift to give any child!

Photo Credit: Amazon

Playdoh: Landon is 8 years old and stills plays with playdoh occasionally. Now that he is older he prefers modeling clay (same type of concept)- but this is great for working with their hands. It helps develop fine motor skills and creativity. You don’t even have to buy a special set. Grab a few tubs of playdoh, and look in your own cupboard for cool tools to use. Cookies cutters, frosting spreader, rolling-pin and other everyday items around the house. Create!


Books: While books in any form are amazing for kids, I find that touch and feel,  pop up books and books with sound are our favorite. I love Usborne look inside books. They have all sorts of topics for different ages. Starting with a simple book on barnyard animals to space facts or Egyptian mythology. At 8 years old, he still loves a good lift up book.


Puzzles: I love Melissa and Doug for this category. They have so many puzzles to choose from. Chunky block puzzles for the toddler all the way up to 100+ piece for the older child and everything in between. They have even have puzzles where you open doors and puzzles that make noise. This is great for kiddos needing to work on their fine motor skills and those who like toys with sound!


Magnatiles: I love these translucent color tiles that kids use to create endless 3D and 2D designs. They hold together by the power of magnification. They even come with pre-designed templates for kids to follow to build a specific design. Following the templates helps with the skill of following step by step directions!

magnatilesThere are a ton of great gifts for our sensational kids but these are just some of our favorites. Landon goes back to these year after year. And these gifts are great for any kiddo in your life! All these toys I found on Amazon- and offer free shipping, what’s better than that!  Happy Shopping!



Planning your pregnancy is key when you have a genetic disorder

Nov 19th 2007 Landon's Birthday

Nov 19th 2007 Landon’s Birthday

My son just celebrated his 8th birthday and I thought, “Damn, I am old!” No, not really, it instead got me thinking how unconventional my pregnancy actually was. Most of my friends are surprised by the news they were expecting and for them that’s ok. For others, including myself, extra care and planning must come into play before you conceive.

I have a genetic disorder called Phenylketonuria, PKU for short. To keep it simple, my body doesn’t break down protein correctly. For pregnant women with PKU, it is essential to maintain low Phe levels, which happens when you limit the protein you intake. Without proper treatment before and during pregnancy, developing congenital heart disease, growth retardation and microcephaly are just some of the concerns you face.

At our pre-conception appointment at the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic at Women & Infants, the doctors gave us a round of applause. Literally, clapped for 1 minute while we stared in disbelief. They wished other perspective parents who had genetic concerns would come in sooner like we had. Thanks to screenings such as Horizon genetic carrier screening, more couples at risk of having a child with a genetic disease are being detected earlier. This allows for diagnosis in the newborn period, prenatally and even pre-conception. To learn more about the benefits of Horizon genetic screenings click here.

genetic carrier screening

For 7 months prior to conception, I was poked and prodded weekly. I ate only 3-5 grams of protein a day from natural food. The rest was medical food that tasted like cardboard! Now that I think of it, I think actual cardboard might have tasted better. I drank a putrid amino acid formula and took 100 pills a day! I HATE pills period. Even at 32, I still ask for some medicine in liquid form. Finally, my Phe levels were safe. Although my levels were “safe” for a fetus, it did not mean our child would not inherit PKU. However, the chance was indeed lower.

Like I said before, some people plan in advance to start their families – for some, it’s a big surprise! When you’re thinking about starting your family, your doctor will often ask you about your family history. Since I am adopted, I don’t much about my family medical history. However, I am so thankful I did know about my PKU, which made me pro-active in my attempts to start a family. Did you know there might be surprises in your family tree? Genetic carrier screenings can help you make informed reproductive decisions as you start your family.

Because of my PKU, a genetic carrier screening was done to uncover a more accurate percentage that my unborn child would have PKU. At our genetic screening we learned our son could be born with a heart malfunction or cerebral palsy, among other things. I didn’t know it’s common for people to be carriers of 4-6 different recessive genetic conditions.

Flash forward to Nov 19th 2007; Landon John Friedman was born without PKU, although he is a carrier. This journey tested us physically, emotionally and financially. It was the journey of a lifetime, for it brought us to Landon. The moment you decide parenthood is for you, take control of your future pregnancy. You can never be too-informed, especially when it comes to the health of your unborn child.


 Namaste ~ Joy ( Landon’s Proud Mom)

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sensitive Santa Programs Are A Breath Of Fresh Air For Special Needs Parents

The holidays are just around the corner. Menu’s are being planned, family is coming to town and gifts are being purchased. If you have children, then I am sure planning a visit to Santa is in the works too! For some, a visit to the jolly-old-elf is no biggie, while for others it can be overwhelming. This is especially true for those with special needs children. The lines, the noise and the crowds are sometimes just to intense for a sensory kiddo, just like my Landon.  Heck, I don’t even like lines, waiting and loud noises…

If you share my same sentiments, then you are in luck!   Starting this Sunday November 22nd, over 120 Simon malls will be offering the Caring Santa Program. This program is  made possible thanks to Autism Speaks and their association between Noeer Corporation and AbilityPath. This program allows families of children with special needs to enjoy their experience with Santa in a more controlled and welcoming environment, usually before the mall opens. As a mom to a sensational kid, I am so thankful to these companies for providing this program for the special needs community.
If you think this event would be something that would benefit you and your family, I urge you to register for the Caring Santa program at your local Simon mall. Most time slots will be 2 hours before the mall opens to the public on November 22nd or December 6th. For my local friends, Emerald Square Mall will be offering their Caring Santa program on December 6th from 830-1030am, with some time slots already filling up. It is FREE to register- and you must have a reservation to take part in this program.

To learn more abut the Caring Santa Program and to see other malls participating click here. It was only about a few years ago that I found out abut this amazing program and boy would it have came in handy during Landon’s early visits with Santa! If you can’t find a sensory-friendly event near you, I urge you to contact your local mall to request one for next year. You never know if your request will be heard unless you try!

Merry Holidays


Landon, Christmas 2008

Embrace the holiday spirit at Edaville’s Festival of Lights- **Giveaway**

Nothing gets me in the mood more than seeing the twinkling lights that illuminate neighborhoods and stores this time of year. The lights seem to bring my “inner child” out and help me embrace the true meaning of the holidays. After all, the holidays seem to be the busiest time of the year and sometimes we forget to slow down and just enjoy everything that it brings. Family, love, joy, hope and togetherness are just some things we should hold on to during this magical time. Edaville hopes you will enjoy this time with your family while visiting their park and taking in the splendor that is over 10 million lights on display!

Edaville USA’s Festival of lights has been a tradition for over 70 years. Generation after generation returns to the park to recreate priceless family memories. Young and old alike enjoy the park from the train ride to the Ferris Wheel and don’t forget the newest addition troublesome trucks! There is something for everyone!


Passengers relax comfortably in warm and dry coaches while riding through a spectacular holiday setting featuring an explosion of lights pulled by Thomas the Tank Engine!  Kids of all ages will enjoy an array of vintage amusement rides, Thomas Land rides, and a visit with Santa in one of our indoor play areas. Stay for a delicious full meal or enjoy seasonal treats while roaming our sprawling and beautifully decorated grounds featuring thousands of Christmas displays.

The tickets are available any day except Saturdays and do not include the Polar Express or VIP Santa visit

November 20 – January 1, 2016 (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

4:00PM – 9:00PM Weekdays

3:00PM – 9:30PM Weekends

General Admission $29.00, Children under 2 are Free

I am honored, thanks to Edaville, to offer two FREE admission tickets to the Festival of Lights to my readers as a giveaway! And in honor of my son’s 8th birthday- I will choose a winner this Saturday Nov 21st and announce it that very same day! I hope this will become a new family tradition that you can enjoy for years to come! 



Living with Sensory Processing Disorder

My world is sensational, thanks to a 7-year-old boy named Landon. Some day’s loud noises are our friend and then the next day they aren’t. On most days sunlight is the enemy, food is surely our foe and bedtime is never quick or painless. Anxiety leads to sadness and sadness leads to frustration and frustration leads to anger. You see, my Landon has Sensory Processing Disorder, better known as SPD. Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. A. Jean Ayres, PhD said it best when she referred to SPD as a neurological “traffic jam” in the brain.


SPD can affect our senses such as vision, audition, tactile, olfactory, taste, proprioception and the vestibular system. It can affect one sense or multiple senses at once. All of Landon’s senses are affected by SPD. While some days only certain things act as a trigger for him, he does have days where he has a full blown “sensory day”. Call it mother’s intuition, but I can tell if he is going to have a “sensory day” within 1 hour of him being awake.

During Landon’s test for developmental delays and learning disabilities, it was discovered that Landon was in fact gifted. While some people are not convinced that there is a link between gifted minds and SPD, there is more research being complied on this topic everyday to say otherwise. Paula Jarrad, MS, OTR conducted a research study in hopes to bring awareness to the prevalence of SPD in gifted children.

 “The ‘double-edged sword’ of giftedness often bestows, among other features, a global heightened awareness to sensory stimulation, an endowment of amplified mental processing speed and attention capacity, and unusual challenges with frustration, pain, noise, and emotional hypersensitivity,” Jarrard learned from her review. “As many as one-third of gifted children may exhibit sensory processing disorder features, significantly impacting quality of life.”

I find her results to be very accurate in how it depicts life with my sensational kid.

Preliminary research states that SPD is often inherited, which means it is coded into the child’s genetic makeup. However, as in many developmental and behavioral disorders, genetic factors and environmental factors can affect the child. Only with more research will doctors be able to identify the role that each factor plays. While navigating this path with Landon, I uncovered that I also have SPD. At first, I was sad to think I might have passed this onto him, but Landon is who he was meant to be, and he, nor I will ever apologize for being “sensational”.

In order to better understand if a child is having sensory issues, try using the “Sensory Checklist” here.  This checklist is usually broken into age categories.  After reading the entire checklist, you might think that most kids exhibit these characteristics and it is not a big deal. However, it is when the symptoms of these characteristics become severe enough to affect normal functioning and disrupt everyday life that it becomes a challenge. Behavioral therapy, play therapy and social skills groups are just some of the ways you can treat SPD. You must find the right balance that works for you and your sensational kid.

My child has been labeled fussy as baby, grouchy as a toddler and now anxious as a 7 year old. I tear these labels off. Labels are for jars, not for my son. Having SPD doesn’t define us. Instead it shapes us. We might move to the right while others move left. But in the end, we are all on the same journey. We want to learn, grow, socialize, love and explore just like the rest of you. We just have a harder time navigating through it all. We do things a little differently, as does everyone in some way, shape or form. And last time I checked, being different makes us unique. The world is better place when we are free to be who we were meant to be.

A fully edited and more descriptive version of this story has been published in RI Parent Magazine, October issue.  It was chosen as the cover story and features my little boy! 

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.59.26 AM

Namaste ~ Joy

Baked Apple Chips & 21 day fix approved

Apple’s are delectable. I will take them anyway I can get them. Sauce, Pie, Cobbler, Crisp, Chips or right off the core! I have made & consumed them in all these ways except Apple Chips. I occasionally buy a bag of dried apple chips, but they always end up disappointing. They are either too sweet, not sweet enough or just a pile of crumbs at the bottom of the bag. And to top it off, they are not cheap. Usually no less than $3 for a small bag. A few weekends ago, thanks to Storm Neptune, I had some time on my hands. I made Apple Chips for the 1st time. And let me tell you, it certainly won’t be the last.

photo 1 (29)

It’s quite simple really.  Apples, Cinnamon and  Sweetener are the only ingredients you need. Add a baking sheet, some parchment paper, a sharp knife (or mandolin cutter) and you are in business. Preheat your oven to about 200 degrees. The low temp allows you to keep them in the oven longer. They will crisp up nice and slow and ensure that you won’t burn them. Slice your apples as thin as you can. The thinner the apple slice, the faster they will crisp up in your oven.  Lay the apples on a parchment paper (or slip mat) lined cookie sheet. Mix together about 1 tbsp of cinnamon and 1 tbsp of sweetener of your choice. I used stevia. This will cover about 2 apples. Adjust depending on how many apples you use. Sprinkle the mixture on the apples. You can do both sides if you want, but I prefer only doing one side. Place in oven and set timer for 1 hour. Flip after one hour and put back into oven for another hour. After 2 hours are up, I shut the oven off and let them sit in the oven for another 30 minutes or so. I did a workout, took a shower, washed the dishes and checked my email all while these bad boys cooked (crisped) away!

photo 2 (28)

I love this recipe and will be making it again and again. I can ensure there are no added and unwanted ingredients, especially added sugar. For those who follow the 21day fix plan (which I LOVE), as long as you stick with the recipe above, you can enjoy these for a mere PURPLE container! This 21 day fix recipe for baked apple chips is so easy to make, it will become a staple snack in your house! time I think I will add only cinnamon, as I love the flavor. If you love apples as much as I do, this is a must try. Let me know if you try these!

photo 4 (22)

Happy Snacking ~ Namaste

DIY Valentine’s Day gift for Mister

Valentine’s Day is upon us. Most believe it is a made up holiday that’s sole purpose is to make us dive deeper into our wallets and spend more money. And right after the holidays? Who has tons of extra money laying around? I don’t. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t like to give my special someone a token of my affection. This DIY Valentine’s Day gift for Mister (or Mrs.), is perfect. It cost under $10 to make and you really do NOT need to be an expert artist.

Tools needed:

White Ceramic Mugs- found at The Dollar Tree: 2 of them

Pencil with eraser

Permanent Markers in 3 different colors- Paint markers or Sharpies work best



Directly across from the handle on the mug (other side of mug), start drawing a large heart. It took me a few tries until I had both “humps” on the heart looking right! Do this step for both mugs. Place the heart drawings onto each other, so that the handles are on the outside. The two hearts should make one larger one. If not, erase a few spots and work on making them look cohesive. Once they do, color the hearts in two different colors. Add your names, Mr/Mrs, Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Mrs/Mrs…. You get the idea. Let dry for 24 hours, wrap and  then enjoy a cup of cocoa, tea or coffee with the one who makes your heart complete.


Can’t wait to give mine to my Mister! I would love to yours if you make one! Email, Facebook, Tweet or Pin me!


Domestic Violence

By now most have you have seen the many commercials being aired featuring celebrities, sports personalities and more, talking about domestic violence. If you haven’t, then you must reside under a rock. Some are full of heartfelt words while some leave us to watch them utter nothing but silence. It is with that silence that puts a taboo judgement on these victims. Domestic & Sexual Abuse should not be swept under the rug any longer. Silence is never a good thing when it comes to hiding any type of violence.  Too many women & children (and even men) are falling victim. Victim to the horrendous act, victim to the aftereffects and victim to the blame game. No more.

New Hope, Inc, located in our close neighbor of Massachusetts. New Hope is a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organization whose mission is “Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence in Our Community”. New Hope serves 54 communities within Central and Southeast Massachusetts.

Join New Hope, Inc on Saturday, January 24th for a night under the stars at Briggs Garden & Home (295 Kelley Blvd. North Attleboro, MA). Sample over 50 fine wines, 25 craft beers, delicious local cuisine, while enjoying a live musical performance by Gay Barboza. Bid on a trip to Walt Disney World (who doesn’t love MICKEY MOUSE?), just one of the many featured live auction items, hosted by comedian David DiLorzena. Tickets are $50/ per person and are available online at: or by calling (508) 226-4015. All proceeds benefit New Hope, Inc. – a nonprofit organization working to end domestic and sexual violence in our communities.

Can’t attend? Consider donating to the cause.  Visit their site for future events and gatherings. And remember the name New Hope, Inc, because chances are you know someone who has fallen victim to domestic violence or sexual abuse. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and estimated 1.3 million women have fallen victim each YEAR and 1 in every women will experience domestic or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Help end this pattern of abuse. For our children. For our children’s children. For the greater good of humanity.



The Football Bitch- NFL Playoff Review

Although it is the end of the season with just 2 weeks left, this Football Bitch has decided to write about football more periodically. So next year, be on the lookout for more posts and possibly a podcast of my live antics while watching the game.

I love football. Yes, I am New England Patriots fan. But I am a fan of the game first. I am not just another hometown fan. While I do reside in little Rhody, I was born and raised in New Jersey. I am proud of where I came from, but that doesn’t mean I had to be a team player when it comes to the sport teams. Sure, I had box seats at Yankee Stadium and tailgated many Jets & Giants games, but they were never my team. I went because I loved football and my Dad made me go to those baseball games (I HATE BASEBALL). My team has always been the Patriots. Something about the name, the colors, the history just drew me in.

This past weekend was a field day for amazing plays, bad calls, records being set/crushed and true colors being bled all over the field. I am here to tell you some of my favorite highlights from the weekend.

Best Play of the Weekend: QB12 Brady lateral pass to WR11 Edelman (QB11 for this play) who then chucks it long to fellow WR80 Amendola for a 51-yard touchdown. This was the longest TD ever by a non-QB in NFL playoff history. So- it’s double dose of awesome-sauce- Best Play & Record Setting!

Worst Call of the Weekend: Pass Interference  call on CB24 Revis for his tight coverage of WR89 Smith. Let’s clear something up- Revis was on the JETS- I loathe the JETS- but he was a beast then and still is.  Rarely ever getting penalties because he is the BEST at his job. Only 6 pass interference calls in his 8 year career. You don’t call PI’s on the best corner. The refs got this one wrong.

True COLORS (a Cyndi Lauper classic): QB12 Luck is the new prince of the COLTS!  He was truly unstoppable. He looked so cool in the pocket. He came into that game to play. He had no reservations about his game-plan whatsoever. QB18 Manning on the other hand, came in with tons. He had the weight of Denver on his shoulders. He is the BRONCOS. Luck played with poise, elegance, grit when needed and had fun. Manning played with a choppy run, a weaker arm and a fear of losing. He lost his spirit. He is one of the ALL-TIME great QB’s, but sometimes father time catches up to some sooner than others.

Opinions are welcome and encouraged. It leads to healthy debate. But, remember the Patriots are #1- that’s not up for debate 🙂