Thursday, December 31, 2009
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had read Bohjalian's Midwives and LOVED it. It was such a thought-provoking novel, and the characters were so amazingly written. I really liked that he told the story from the perspective of the midwife's daughter.
Though I knew he was a New England author, I did not know he had a weekly column. Along the same lines as Dave Berry, his slice of life segments are enough to feel complete on their own, but pieced together tell the tale of life in a small New England town. I may purchase this book to remind me of NE when I'm "home" sick next year.
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Monday, November 2, 2009
Charlie will put down just as much food as H at times, and I know they go through stages of feast or famine but always wonder if I'm making the best choices, or instilling good eating habits. I've been making H eat a vegetable every night in order to 'earn' dessert. While I know that some disagree with that tactic...I don't really care. That's just how I roll. After a couple nights of struggling to get him to eat four tiny peas (one for each year of his age), he now 'willingly' will eat the small pile I put on his plate without being asked. It's amazing how follow-through and consistency get the job done!
I got an email from MomCentral* about Evenflo's new Smart Steps program, and was able to try a few of the products from the new line. I got a sippy cup that's in an insulated sleeve (machine washable, yay!) and has a soft spout that really doesn't leak. I've tried just about every sippy cup, and they have pretty much all leaked when left on their side after they've been abandoned by one of my children, but this one didn't. Love it!
I also got a set of spoons that are flat and look a little bit like mini-pancake turners, but they're meant to be easier to maneuver for small hands and a set of snack cups whose lids double as suctions to keep them from being flung (as easily) from the table.
Some of the tips they have on their website were mainly reassuring, as they're things that I'm already doing. But if you aren't, you'll be surprised how easy they are to incorporate in your life. Here are a few:
- Let your kids be "produce pickers" at the store. If they can pick out their own fruits and veggies – they'll be more inclined to eat them
- Invite your kids to prepare meals with you. All of that mixing, mashing and measuring will make them want to taste what they are prepping.
- Offer choices. Rather than ask "Do you want broccoli for dinner?" ask "Which would you like for dinner: broccoli or cauliflower?"
Not sure how you're doing? Evenflo has developed a quiz on their website in order for you to determine your Parental Feeding Style and where you fall on the Eating Arc. The site is also full of tips and products to either continue the good things you're doing, or things you can tweak in order to help your child get on the path to having a healthy relationship with food. Be it dealing with a picky eater, ideas for revamping your mealtime repertoire or conversation starters to begin a tradition of eating at the table as a family, Evenflo Smart Steps has got ideas for you!*I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Evenflo and received a sample to facilitate my candid review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate
Thursday, September 24, 2009
As I've said before, I didn't discover the bliss that is Baby Einstein until Charlie came along and I had two kids to entertain while I did my daily 'chores', made dinner, occasionally while I sat and knitted (okay, more than occasionally, but who's really counting?)
Like anything in parenting, there is such a broad spectrum of what 'tv time' means. Do you sit your baby in the Bumbo in front of Goodfellas? Hopefully not. But what harm can some Sesame Street or other pre-school/educational TV do so that mama can get dinner on the table?
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Do you have a hard time finding the right toy for everyone when the plethora of holidays, birthday parties and other gift-giving occasions arrive? Sure, there are age guidelines on the box, but they're not always easy to find, and even if a toy is geared for 3+, would a 6 year-old like it? I first heard of ebeanstalk, a website dedicated to selecting good, safe baby toys, when my sister-in-law sent two gifts in a row to H and Charlie from it. The presents were a hit, and also came with a little card explaining what each toy did to aid in development (i.e. sensory stimulation, fine or gross motor development).
I was intrigued when I got the first email from them saying that they need help from moms like me to pick the toys. I already knew that I liked their site content and was excited to be part of their test panel.
The toy they sent is called Automoblox Minis 3-pack (T9, S9 and C9) from Manhattan Toy, who makes great developmental toys. Packaged in a sleek rectangular box, you slide out the inner portion and I found my first positive: no plastic twine encasing every inch of the toy making it a nightmare for parents in the opening process.
The automoblox are wooden cars that are made to be interchangeable, so that three cars can be made into several different ones by simply pulling them apart (they're hooked together by two color coded male/female plugs). For instance, H's set came with a red, green and blue car. Each of them came apart into 2-3 pieces plus the tires and plastic bubble, which looks like the top of a car, are interchangeable and color-coded as well. H is just at the age where color identification is important, and he was able to see the 'right' way to put the cars back together because all the plugs, tops and tires matched. (The set also comes with four black tires)
This toy is marked for 3+, and I felt like it was a really appropriate guideline. The tires come off easily, which is great because it wasn't frustrating for him to pull any of the pieces apart, but they also don't come off so easily that it falls apart as you're rolling it across the carpet. For this reason, though, it's a toy that will be played with out of reach from my 14 month-old. There is a choking hazard warning on the box for small parts.
There were no weird plastic-y smells, and the wooden bodies had some fun details such as drilled out holes where the head and tail-lights will be. The body is made of German beech wood that's triple coated in a non-toxic lacquer so even though your pre-school may be beyond sticking things in their mouths it's just as important that their toys be toxin-free.
The set we were sent can be found for just under $30, and I would absolutely spend the money on it as a gift for Christmas or a birthday. H was occupied for THREE HOURS while Charlie napped...he is a pretty good kid when it comes to entertaining himself, but these three cars kept him busy the whole time! There are also larger toys that come in a single pack. At the very least, we'll be getting the other mini sets (the m9, X9-X and A9-S) so that there are more parts to interchange with.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
When I got the notice from MomCentral about a new site called Gather.com, I was wondering what was different about it. I'm not big on have 1,000 different sites to maintain, but I was intrigued by this one.
My main focus in using Facebook has been to reconnect with friends from the past, and keeping up with what they're doing now. But what if you want to start looking for others who share your interests, views, challenges and dilemmas? Sure, there's meetup.com, but that's all about getting together in person. What if you just want a quick message board, or ways to chat with people all over the country? Trying to go green on a budget and need cleaning solutions? Want a quick recipe, or ways to cope with your crazy toddler while cloth diapering your infant? How about discussing the newest in thriller fiction, or terrace gardening?
Gather.com has created a vibrant and diverse social networking community where you can meet some amazing people who are, you guessed it, gathered together around shared interests and unique passions. Gather hosts thousands upon thousands of groups and conversations on topics ranging from how to cope with your rambunctious toddler to creating a thriving organic garden; from books that you’ll want to stay awake all night reading to the latest pilates moves; and from cooking without recipes to taking the challenge of creating movie reviews in Haiku (tougher than you’d think!).
Does this still sound like it might be something you've already got an account with? Well, here comes the difference...wait for it...
On Gather you earn points for the content you contribute to the site, which can be redeemed for gift cards to stores like Home Depot, Gap, and Target, and even for PayPal cash. In an effort to encourage a free-flow of ideas, the more recipes, tips, stories and advice you share with others in the community, the more points you earn. Now that’s a great incentive!
*I wrote this review while participating in a blog and giveaway campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Gather. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.
Cross-posted at Sexandtheknitty
Thursday, July 23, 2009
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
So far, there are a couple of reasons I really like Smashed. First, she's exactly my age, so when she's talking about things that happend in highschool, etc, it's kind of fun to see the social parallels, but secondly,she's from New England. I'm more than a little obsessed with all things New England since I'm a transplant. (I've watched The Departed and the Dennis Lehane movies more times that I can count). Her bio says she grew up in the 'suburbs of Boston', but when she's talking about a girl who goes to her regional high school andsays "Billie lives in the bordering town of Clinton..." I gasped in excitement, because that's just up the road!
It's a bio that I'm hopingdoesn't turn out to be bogus like that of James Frey.
I wanted to read it before sending it off to my 15 year-old niece as a'cautionary tale' (yep, I'm *that* aunt) and have found that it's really good, frank, and I think that most parents would benefit from reading it even if your kids aren't there yet.
Even though the 'times are different' it hasn't been all THAT long since I was in high school, but I feel like I've forgotten a lot of the nuance. Oh yeah, and I never drank in high school.
The above was written when I was only about a third into the book...I have to say it went downhill from there. She was either grossly exaggerating her drinking in parts, or in fierce denial in others because she'd talk about slugging drink after vodka-filled drink for hours on end on a regular basis, while maintaining a certain level of function; but at others would say things about how 'some' people could tolerate 3 long island iced teas while she was blasted after just two.
I also felt like she never, really, admitted that she had a problem. Saying instead that she didn't have a "genetically based reaction to alcohol that addiction counselors call 'a disease'" or "I drank for the explicit purpose of getting drunk, getting brave, or medicating my moods."
Even though the book is aimed at being a cautionary tale for teen-age alcohol abuse, it's more a cautionary tale for not owning your alcoholism. She was/is an alcoholic. Period. I'm disappointed that she never admitted that. She only says that she stopped drinking because her husband enabled her to feel in a way that she formerly couldn't without alcohol...um...that's alcoholism.
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Monday, July 13, 2009
After one too many nights of a pre-schooler in my bed, I was desperate to find a reward that would make him stay in the bed in that one room in the house otherwise known as his bedroom. When I was sitting for a friend, her son had this nightlight in his room and I asked him about it. He was very eager to show me all the things it could do by remote control. Yep. This nightlight is the size of an average wall clock and can either be turned on to a full moon, or through each of the phases. I really like it so far, and lo and behold, the child has slept in his own bed for two nights in a row! A great feature is that it turns off automatically after a couple of hours so that batteries will last longer. I just let H keep the remote on his headboard, and he's come to get me once in the night to help him turn it back on, but at least it's not on all night...
Friday, May 29, 2009
For anyone not from here, it's kind of a mix of Red Robin and Dairy Queen; the Friend-z being the same idea as a blizzard. Once I started going, it's become a favorite for my kids. The options for families are pretty extensive, and the kids meals include an ice cream treat at the end, that kids get to pick themselves and they go way beyond the plain hot fudge sundae. When we went last week, H chose the Monster Mash Sundae which is carefully decorated to look like a monster head. In addition to having a lot of choice, the cost is really reasonable. I usually get one meal for both kids to share with an extra side of apple sauce, then I did the 'create your own for 9.99' so we got out spending just over $20 for three people, including tip!
At one point they were featuring "Sprinkle Vision" which were 3.d glasses that the kids could wear to identify codes on the menu and paper place setting that they could then enter at the website when they got home.
On Saturday, June 6th, they're having a free ice cream day so stop in to Friendly's for a fun family day!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. I've read several Jodi Picoult books, and my favorites have been Nineteen Minutes, Salem Falls, Harvesting the Heart and My Sister's Keeper.
I had read Nineteen Minutes as my first intro to Ms. Picoult, so was excited to see the return (or origination of) Jordan McCafferty and Selena.
In this book Jack is a Columbia educated History PhD who was teaching and coaching soccer at an all-girls prep school when he's falsely accused of having a sexual relationship with one of his players after her father finds a diary full of sexually explicit entries featuring Jack, and a package of birth control pills. Excited by the idea that they could be true, she quickly falls into the role of victim, and it's too late to turn back.
The book opens as Jack is released from his eight-month jail sentence and vows to start over again. When he reaches the sleepy town of Salem Falls, things fall into place for him, and he tried to do everything right, including notifying the Detective of his residence in accordance with his obligation to report as a sex offender.
From there, word spreads and a modern-day witch hunt ensues. Throw four teen-aged Wiccan girls, and the half-truths, mis-representations and false accusations build. It was really interesting to me to see how easily a false allegation can get out of control, but I thought she also did a very good job of not minimalizing the trauma or rape, or of making it sound like there were a large percentage of allegations that ended up being false.
There was one relationship dynamic which was really not addressed that I picked up on right away (between Gilly and her father, Pharmaceutical giant Amos Duncan). I don't know if it's because of my former job, or if there was just some really obvious foreshadowing, but I was a little disappointed that the "could be a relative" DNA issue wasn't picked up on by the defense attorney, the DA's office or any of the law enforcement. I know that in that line of work, we're all cynical enough to explore that angle if things don't fit. I don't like including spoilers in my review, but I had to include this because I kept waiting for that to be the answer of the missing DNA link, and it never happened. The "dynamic" (Read: ABUSE) isn't out-right identified until the last line of the book, so all you cheaters who like to read the last page or last chapter first, you'll already know.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009
If you've ever wandered up and down, up and down, and up and down the toy aisles again at Target or other department stores, you know what I mean when I talk about the agony that is selection. Considering everything from age-approriateness (is 3+ really okay for a 2 year old, or too boring for a 5 year old?) to whether or not it will foster development, it's a jungle out there
There are tons of books and websites out there to help you on your way, but the most foolproof ones I've found are The Baby Gizmo (which I've posted about before) and Ebeanstalk.
Ebeanstalk is dedicated to a baby's development. And we select the best baby toys matched to a baby's development. To see great information on how a baby grows up, check out the info on our baby toys page.
Because I've got a slew of showers, new babies and, of course, C's first birthday, I thought I'd post some pointers found on their site.
Picking toys for a baby is not as simple as it sounds. Here are some quick baby facts:
- Toys for a newborn baby: A newborn baby is briefly looking at objects and attempting to imitate facial expressions. They can follow objects with their eyes and usually quiet down, when they are picked up.
- Toys for a three month old: They will enjoy ‘frolic play', reaching for objects and will repeat enjoyable activities. Believe it or not, they will respond to ‘no' (about half the time) and will start babbling.
- Toys for a six month old: They'll search for hidden objects (object permanence). They'll reach for themselves in the mirror, play peekaboo, crumple paper, roll from their stomach to their back and even respond to their name.
- Toys for a nine month old: They are pushing toy cars, playing pat-a-cake and looking for hidden sounds. The baby toys they are playing with are also getting more fun.
Monday, May 18, 2009
rating: 4 of 5 stars
Again, Ms Darling delivers witty sarcasm spliced with the naivete of a teen-ager. Her angst-filled journal entries are so fun to read because she's not depressing, just hillarious, self-depricating and not afraid to point out what's wrong with "Skanky and Skankier" and the rest of the gang in the Honors class at Pineville High. I'll be taking a little break to finish Harvesting the Heart, but then it's right on to #3. This time, I made sure I had all of them from the library before starting so I could speed right through. Another one day read.
And Marcus? Again, like Stephanie Meyers' Edward, is it wrong to be in lurve with an 18 year-old? Probably.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I was ecstatic when I saw that my High School's field (listed under Union High School-Old Field, Union, OR) had made the final cut and is now a contender for the final 30 that will be renovated! You can vote once a day, every single day until May 31st. Vote, and vote often! If a field in your community has not been selected, I would love for you to put your support toward my hometown.
The track that you see in the picture is the old cinder track that was our one and only during my heyday at UHS. After I graduated, they wrote grant after grant and worked to have a regulation track (the cinder track is not regulation) and football field built down the road from the school.
The hope is to have the track at the old field removed so that the entire space can be returned to it's previous stat, irrigated and utilized as a large field for Little League and other activities. The town's Little League space is currently at the local Stock Show grounds, which is also used for parking and the annual carnival, so is not ideal.
Friday, May 1, 2009
This is just another example of it taking a village...if we all do our part and enter the playspaces we use, other moms and their kids will benefit from our 'expertise' and get outside with their kids as well! After a looooooooooong winter moms and kids are itching to get outdoors and shake their sillies out.
We hope you can help by adding the playspaces you love!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I used the Margherita sauce on home-made pizza dough and then covered it in Mozzarella cheese and the added some other veggies to help beef up the nutrition. If you're stuck on what to make, the Ragu site also has recipes for the new sauces, including an upside down deep dish pizza which I was originally going to make but forgot to thaw the ground beef. C'est la vie, right?
The sauce was flavorful, and didn't have that weird aftertaste that some jarred sauces can. The best part is that it's got a full serving of vegetables per half-cup of sauce. Lord knows I'm always looking for ways to make H eat more greens! (or reds in this case).
Monday, April 20, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Just a little background...without my glasses I can see about as well as an octegenarian with cataracts. So, I can shower and pretend that the building mildew isn't really there. Were it someone else's shower that I happened to peek into, I would chastise them in my head, wondering how someone who looks so clean could be getting in that state in a place of such utter filth.
To make matters worse, I have a fiberglass shower that has the pebbly bottom which has obtained tiny scratches from my abrasive cleaner so it's impossible to get all the way clean.
So there I was, standing in sports bra and undies (just like my mother before me) spraying the shower down prior to jumping in and giving it a good scrub. I read the instructions while I was spraying and noticed the phrase "no scrubbing"...okay, right. That's never true. Then I read on to learn that I merely had to spray on and leave until the stain disappeared and then wipe it off.
Sweet. I'm standing here waiting to take my shower, and it'll probably take like 20 minutes to make the amount of filth that I have to 'disappear.' I also noted that it may take heavy mildew stains two cleanings to get it all the way off.
Well, I must not be quite as filthy as I imagined because I turned around and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me...could it seriously be disappearing in less than a minute? Yes. Yes, it can.
While I have to say that the fumes were quite strong, I was willing to suffer damage to my lungs if I had to in order to get that shower clean. I'd tried gels with bleach and other harsh chemicals to no avail, so I was ready and had the vent fan going. Absolutely make sure it's well-ventilated and I'd even open a window to air it out. The fumes are the only drawback of this product.
I got the sponge wet and ran it down the shower walls and then turned on the shower and let it run in the shower getting on all three walls for about 30 seconds before re-wetting the sponge and wiping to make sure the chemicals were off the wall before jumping in for my shower.
You only have so much time before naps and quiet time end, after all.
I honestly cannot believe how quickly and easily it worked, and it lived up to it's claim of no scrubbing required.
The absolution of the after...with and without flash
Monday, April 13, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Because I get a little 'connected' with my characters (aka, I have a hard time accepting that SJP is not really Carrie Bradshaw), I googled Mrs. Beeton and was excited to learn that she was real, and so is her Household Guide. I then got even more excited when they made a reference to a "Delia" (Delia Smith) who is an iconic chef in England. She is a modern figure who announced her TV retirement in 2003 and then filmed a 6 part mini-series in 2008, which aired on BBC. "The Delia Effect" is in reference to the fact that she caused such things as a 10% surge in egg sales after her segment on omelettes and several other overnight sell-outs or "a run on previously poor-selling product as a result of a high-profile recommendation." She also wrote a bestseller How To Cheat at Cooking. But alas, it was just a coincidence of the name, as Adelaide reports that no characters were based on true figures.
Debra Adelaide is the author of two other novels, The Hotel Albatross and Serpent Dust, and the editor of four themed collections of fiction and memoirs, the latest of which is Acts of Dog. She has worked as a researcher, editor and book reviewer, and has a PhD from the University of Sydney. She is now a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Technology, Sydney.
Friday, March 27, 2009
rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet just after finishing The Piano Teacher, both of which were debut novels written about the time period of WWII, but from opposite sides of the Ocean. The storyline of this novel is so compelling and it was just so refreshing to be reminded of the purity and innocence of love; even during a time of such injustice. The characters came to life for me, and the pages practically turned themselves. The speed of the read cannot be mistaken for lack of depth. Overall, a very good book.
View all my reviews.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Between January 15 and February 28, 2009, individuals can nominate eco-friendly community projects for a Green Heroes grant by submitting a photo and short essay about the project for consideration online at www.greenworkscleaners.com/greenhero. Each winner - or "Green Hero" - will receive a $10,000 grant to help their eco-friendly community projects grow and flourish!
Then, beginning on March 16 through April 10, 2009, the public will have the opportunity to vote online for their favorite eco-friendly community project. The final five Green Heroes will be announced on April 22 - just in time for Earth Day.
For more information about the Green Heroes Grant Program, including official contest rules and entry guidelines, log on to www.greenworkscleaners.com/greenhero.