Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Reliable Wife A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goolrick's novel, an idea which was first explored after he read Wisconsin Death Trip in the 70's, is another of those quick reads that's got a lot of depth at the same time. I flew through this book in two days, mainly because I couldn't wait to see if what I thought was going to happen would.

Ralph Truitt is a Wisconsin businessman living in the small town of his family's name. A man haunted by the ghosts of deeds and relationships past, he puts out a want ad for 'a reliable wife.' Answering the call is Catherine Land, a woman who also has her share of dark corners and regrets.

Together they explore the landscape that may or may not become their lives. Set in one very long Wisconsin winter, the novel delves into an array of relationship dynamics with twists and turns while also giving a glimpse at some of the vignettes that inspired Goolrick to write about a Wisconsin winter in the first place.

The lives that go terribly wrong in the turn of a thought, minds gone mad when the snow sticks around too long.

While it could easily have been a very bizarre tale that took everything just a step too far, I felt like he kept a nice balance between predictable love story and a novel with deception and twists; sex and sexual themes seem to have a heavy hand, but it didn't feel gratuitous.

No spoilers, this is one to delve into post-haste.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sonicare for Kids!

Many parents find that one of their battles is a struggle with their children to get them to brush their teeth the recommended twice daily, or to get them to brush for the desired two minutes. I'm lucky in that H definitely loves to brush his teeth; a tube of toothpaste, if not closely monitored, can be used within a month's time because he will stand at the sink and brush every time he washes his hands. That's great, right? Well, it would be if he got more tooth-paste on his teeth than he did on his face, or if he wasn't quite so excited about the rinsing phase, and spent more time on the brushing itself.

I didn't want to dissuade his eagerness to brush, but I also wanted him to understand that there could be too much of a good thing by brushing too often (I counted one day and it was 9 times...). Also, because I come from a family of obsessive-compulsives who brush way too 'briskly' I didn't necessarily want him to pick up my form, but I did want him to make sure that he wasn't missing any major sections and, mostly, I wanted it to remain fun for him so that it would be a good habit instead of a dreaded one.

In Massachusetts, they recently instituted a new law that daycare providers and pre-schools who have children that stay for a meal period (or more than four hours) have to brush their teeth while there. I thought this was great, as it's one more way to ensure that the sticky residue from the fruit snacks I swore I'd never let my kids eat gets brushed away expeditiously. As an aside, I was a little shocked to learn last week that raisins are just as bad in regards to sugar (yes, it's fructose instead of corn syrup, but still) getting stuck to their teeth as fruit snacks! Just when you think you're providing a healthy alternative...but I digress.

I was offered the chance to try the new Sonicare for Kids electric toothbrush, and I couldn't wait to tell H. He was ridiculously excited, but what boy doesn't love to get new electronics? It came with different 'face plates' that could make the brush handle more customizable, and two brush heads; one designed for 7+ year-olds, and one designed for 4+year olds. Because H loves to brush, but Charlie primarily bites down, or chews, on the toothbrush, I decided to use one for each, even if the ages didn't exactly correspond. The brush heads were comparable to the ones they currently use, so I thought it would be fine.

After letting it charge for the full 24 hours, which is recommended, I let Henry go at it after briefly explaining to him that he just needed to push the 'big button' once, then when it beeped at him, he needed to brush another area of his mouth. The first brushing session went really quickly, because for the 4 year-old setting (which I had already designated) it starts out at 1 minute, and then increases up to the recommended 2 minutes gradually after each full session with the brush is completed.

It beeps little tunes to move to each quadrant of the mouth, and then plays a longer tune as it shuts off and your time is complete. When it played the 'el fin' song the first time, H looked at me and said 'Is my tooth brush telling me I did a great job?' I would never have thought of that, but told him that it certainly was.

After just a week of him using the brush, he's able to do so independently in the morning, with me watching for the evening session to make sure he's getting all the nooks and crannies. I am able to use it on my almost-two year old just fine, and I'm getting his front teeth and insides of the back teeth much better than before because he doesn't seem quite so tempted to bite down on the vibrating head.

I like the musical cues, because I feel like it makes it really easy for H to use the toothbrush very independently, and at his age, he's really excited about anything that he can do fully on his own. There is only one button they need to push, and they don't hold it down the whole time, it's just a simple press and release. The gentle setting for the 4+ group versus the more vigorous cleaning for the 7+ group only has to be chosen once, but can be changed with the press of a button.

I did put it in my mouth to see what it felt like, and have to say it would take a little getting used to, because it's kind of a ticklish sensation, like when you get your teeth cleaned at the dentist's office, but the surface of the tooth I tried it on felt squeaky clean!

I've been wanting to get a Sonicare for quite some time, and will definitely invest in it now that I see how much easier it's made my kids' routines at night, and how clean my 'test tooth' felt after using it just briefly.

You can currently purchase Sonicare for Kids at Target and, but beginning May 3rd it will also be available at Wal-Mart stores nationwide. At $69.99 it is an investment, but investing in your child's dental health is definitely a worthy one! The replacement heads come in a 2-pack for $21.99. Also, keep in mind that if your budget is tight and you've got two kids, you could purchase one set, and the stand will accommodate both heads, or three kids could even share, storing one of the heads on the handle itself.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by MomCentral on behalf of Sonicare and received a free Sonicare for Kids toothbrush to facilitate my review.
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Remains Silent Remains Silent by Michael Baden

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book had a lot of potential, and I read it mainly because it sounded like it could really be along the lines of the Kay Scarpetta books.

I guess the word that could really describe this would be 'unsophisticated'. It was almost as if you were reading the pitch for this book and not the actual book. The rough outline. The character development was pretty lazy, and there was no real build-up...the portions that were supposed to leave you breathless barely registered a change in heart-rate.

I had the second one out of the library, but after reading the first chapter, I realized that my hopes that the editors would have taken a more heavy hand with this one were going to be dashed, so I returned it. What a disappointment! I was really hoping to find the next great medical drama/thriller series.

No cigar on this one.

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