Tag Archives: Review

Step Right Up! Circus 1903 Is in Boston (Review)

Two nights ago my children and I ventured into Boston to the historic and lovely old Wang Theater (now called the Boch Center) to see the circus. The circus? Yes! Circus 1903! More “Cirque de Soleil” than Ringling Brothers, this show imagines how the circus used to be.

Oh, just one of the fancy emergency exits. #WangTheater #BochCenter #Circus1903 Photo credit: Itsnotlikeacat

You should see what these guys can do when they get airborne! Photo credit: Mark Turner

But instead of clowns and trick ponies and dancing bears, the audience is treated with acrobats; “foot juggling” (think acro-yoga times 1000); aerialists tossing each other through the air (“is he really going to catch her by her ankles?!?”); a gorgeous aerial hoop performance by a former rhythmic gymnastics world champion who, like some of her fellow performers, has previously performed with Cirque de Soleil; and a spectacular juggler.

Photo credit: Mark Turner

We can’t leave out the Cycling Cyclone, who inspires me to get my single-speed bike…working again, at least. I will not be doing handstands while cycling backwards anytime soon. Or the balancing guy, “The Sensational Sozonov,” who I kind of expected to come tumbling down at any second. Bikes also appeared in the Los Lopez highwire act, which practically started with someone riding a bike across a highwire while another person got on the stunt pegs and then did a handstand on the handlebars…and it went from there (“Mom! I have stunt pegs on my bike!” “Child, I’m so glad you’re inspired. What are you going to start practicing first?”).

Please don’t fall!! Photo Credit: Mark Turner

That’s the beauty and reality of a circus on opening night. You get the sense that things are still being perfected, which makes it beautifully real. I think there was an actual stumble or two during the show overall, a great reminder to all of us that these performers work hard and have to practice.

While the show does have something of a storyline, I was too caught up in the physical feats to notice. The ringmaster occasionally called children up on stage. I’d say that encouraging your children to get on stage might not be ideal for kids under age 6 unless they handle surprises and strangers well and have a good sense of humor.

As for humor, my older child found the show amazing and hilarious (when it was funny); my younger son didn’t seem to notice the humor, but he was still mesmerized by the show.

Oh! The elephants! How could I not tell you about them? The elephants are life-sized, a mother and a baby! They look very real, but they are entirely human-powered. They are so beautiful that I wanted to cry. They are moved and supported entirely by puppeteers. You should go see Circus 1903 if only to see the elephants (though you’ll be delighted to all the show has to offer).

So beautiful, this elephant. Photo credit: Mark Turner

Baby elephant. Photo credit: Mark Turner

The show only runs through March 12, so don’t miss your chance! Go this weekend! I have a discount code for you. See below.


Save 25% on tickets to see CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus  at the Boch Wang Theatre!  Visit  http://www.bochcenter.org/buy/show-listing/circus-1903  and enter code MOMS to buy your discounted tickets.  Discount applies to all performances, while supplies last. Valid on all levels, excluding Orchestra Pit.

Back to School: Packing Lunches With Stonyfield, Justin’s, and PackIt

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It’s back-to-school time! Which means it’s time to pack lunches again. Unless, like us, you’ve needed to pack lunches for camp or outings for most of the summer. I’m kind of a professional lunch packer at this point.

It still seems daunting, though. I don’t know why. And last year the second grader was packing his own lunches. Why did this stop when he started camp this summer? I don’t know. I think both kids will be packing their own lunches this year, with my support.

And it’s not just knowing what to pack — how many snacks, who’s eating what this week (turkey? salami? hummus and cucumber? leftovers?) but who can eat what. Like when a particular upcoming first grader has a wiggly tooth, so you have to slice up his apple before you pack it because otherwise he can’t bite it.

But if you have the supplies and a formula, lunch-packing doesn’t have to be a drag.

Here are some key tips for packing a lunch:

Food Containers
We use reusable containers for snacks and lunches. For the main lunch, we use EasyLunchboxes three-compartment lunch boxes, with snacks in other small reusable containers. Yes, I wash a lot of containers, but I’m OK with that.

Lunch Bag
A sturdy, reusable lunch bag can last for the whole school year and sometimes for a few years! PackIt makes a great freezable lunch bag which contains a freezable gel. Just put it in the freezer overnight, then in the morning pack your child’s lunch in it. The lunch bag will keep the food cold for hours.img_9328.jpg

Lunch Food
Sandwiches are popular with my kids:

  • salami
  • PBJ
  • hummus and cucumber

Sandwich alternatives:

  • mac&cheese in an insulated food jar
  • leftover pasta with pesto
  • hummus, veggies, and crackers
  • cheese and crackers

I also pack veggies and fruit in the other compartments of the bento box.

Besides the “main course,” I include:

  • fruit — berries, a sliced or whole apple, cut-up oranges, grapes
  • veggies — baby or big carrots, grape tomatoes, sliced cucumber
  • something crunchy/salty, such as pretzels
  • Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers (these are great to keep in the freezer)
  • a granola bar (in case an extra snack is needed)img_9329.jpg
  • Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and Pretzels snack packsimg_9334-1.jpg
  • maybe a packet of Justin’s Honey Almond Butter (who am I kidding, these are for me! Great pre-run fuel and a handy afternoon snack at my desk)img_9338.jpg

A reusable water bottle. That’s all I send my kids with. But you could also include a juice box or milk.

By the way, could you sense a theme here? Reusable containers, few processed foods, and products from companies like Justin’s and Stonyfield that make sustainable practices their mission? I like supporting companies that have values similar to mine.

Oh — not that I’m telling you what to do, but because these tips can help you save time packing lunches — if you have some extra time, check out the recipes on the Justin’s site! I want to try the spicy peanut soba noodles and the granola bars, for starters.

Happy school year, and enjoy packing healthy lunches!

Menotomy Grill and Tavern: Restaurant Review

I don’t go out to lunch. If I do, it’s because I’m working at a cafe with wifi and need to grab something to eat. But recently the Menotomy Grill and Tavern in East Arlington hosted a small group of bloggers for lunch (including me, hooray!). Menotomy Grill is a cozy restaurant with a Colonial tavern feel.

Menotomy Grill fills a niche for Arlington: a restaurant where you can get a good lunch or relaxing dinner or go for drinks and watch the game (what game? I don’t know these sports-games-things–but you know, the game) on the big screen at the bar. I’ve previously been there to meet friends for drinks. It’s a place in Arlington to meet friends for drinks! I’ve been there for dinner with my husband and, another time, with my mother–and another time, with a friend–for dinner. It’s fine for dinner.

This was my first time having lunch there.


OK, so maybe the ductwork undoes the cozy feel of this particular chandelier, but trust me, this place is cozy. #blamethephotographer

The place is called Menotomy Grill because it harkens back to when Arlington was called Menotomy [I can also tell you why the Jason Russell House is famous and what East Arlington used to be famous for (answer: lettuce); I know my Arlington history]. The American Revolution hit this town hard, and like the Warren Tavern in Charlestown (but with a more spacious feel), Menotomy Grill has some features that bring you back to colonial days: the stone fireplace, the wood tables and floors, and the iron/candle replica light fixtures. I’ll admit it: I am very partial to the light fixtures.


The place has a lot of nice historical touches. You could spend a lot of time near the bathroom, studying the old maps of the town.

It also has a decidedly modern feel and upscale vibe.

Menotomy Grill has a decent wine list and a very good beer list, plus ciders and cocktails. I failed to take note of their current list at this lunch, as I had seltzer, but I’ve had wine and beer there at dinner and have enjoyed my selections.

Let’s talk about the food, right? That’s what we’re here for. I think among the six of us we ordered most of the appetizers. I would not have selected the Fried Dill Pickles ($7), since I don’t like fried food, and I’m a pickles purist, but they turned out to be mightily addictive, even if if you didn’t bother dipping them into the spicy remoulade they were served with (also kind of addictive). They didn’t need it. They were like the seared tuna of fried pickles: hot and tender on the outside, cooler and with more substance in the middle. The perfect meld of temperature and texture. I want to go back there right now, just thinking of those pickles.

We also tried the Chipotle Citrus Wings (served with peppercorn ranch, $11), which sounded good and looked pretty. IMG_3535.JPG

The wings had a nice kick to them but failed to deliver in other ways: they were almost soggy, and the meat wasn’t falling off the bone the way I like it to be.

We also tried the flatbread as an appetizer. Menotomy Grill usually has two flatbreads on the menu (Margherita ($10) as well as Grilled Steak and Caramelized Onion ($12). The day’s special flatbread was smoked salmon on cream cheese on an everything dough. The special sounded like a creative combo, but we decided to try the Margherita, which was fairly crispy and very tasty. The sauce was perfect.

The House Smoked St. Louis Ribs (with guava BBQ sauce and Napa cabbage/pickled jalapeno slaw, $11) was tasty. If you’re hoping for saucy ribs, these are not them, but they were perfectly cooked and nicely porky. The Napa cabbage slaw underneath the ribs was fantastic, and I could easily envision this dish as a salad tipped with some meat cut off the ribs.


It’s hard to see the lovely salad under all the ribs.

Another blogger ordered the Wedge Salad ($9). It was everything you wanted in an wedge salad: crisp fresh iceberg lettuce, heirloom cherry tomatoes, a generous sprinkling of bacon cubes (I’d call them lardons), a confident splash of buttermilk bleu cheese dressing. Oh, and avocado. I don’t think it needs the avocado. It’s heaven on a plate, crunchy/creamy/crisp/fatty/fresh/salty/startling. I would go there just for that.


We tried a bunch of sides (each $6). The House Baked Beans are good, the Edna’s Potato Sausage Stuffing thick and meaty and delicious. The Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Mustard are tender and tasty, though a touch more watery than I prefer (I like them simple, just roasted with garlic). We also tried the various fries: Sweet Potato, Herbed Parmesan, and regular. They’re all crispy and good.


I’ve had the Grilled Vegetable Panini before, at dinner (lots of grilled vegetables and cheese). This day, we all tried the Menotomy Cheeseburger ($13), topped with cheddar, lettuce, red onion, and a smoked tomato jam (add a fried egg or bacon for additional charge). It was a good burger: slightly but not overly fatty, off-set by the crisped grilled bun and the startling sweet touch of the tomato jam. I’d go back there for that (and the Wedge Salad!).

The Greek Salad ($9) has a nice dressing and is big. Others ordered the Herb Roasted Chicken, the Grilled Hanger Steak, the Grilled Chicken BLT, and the day’s special sandwich (a grilled ham and cheese club with house-made chips) and reported back very positively.

We didn’t try the desserts. We had no room.

But I’ll be back, to the cozy Colonial-tavern space.


[Disclosure: We were hosted for lunch. All opinions are my own.] 

Cavalia “Odysseo” Review: A Magical Otherworld

I should start this review with a big disclaimer: I am afraid of horses.

I wasn’t always. I spent my childhood on horseback, practically, with my friend Tina (on her own horse, usually). I lived on a small farm with some horses and ponies; she lived up the road on a small sheep farm with a horse and a pony. We made up a crazy course through the woods, with jumps including logs and gullies and small shrubs, and we raced through it bareback. Sometimes we’d even ride without bridles, pretending we were wild girls who lived in the woods with our horses (go ahead and laugh).

Riding wild or not, I fell off plenty of times. I got kicked more than once. One time, our old mare Misty even stepped on my face (well, it was more of a kick/graze; she started to put her hoof down on my cheekbone and fortunately moved it forward off my head in the nick of time, leaving me with merely a bruise and a bump).

None of that fazed me. We continued to spend all our time riding, grooming, cleaning hooves, making up stories about ourselves and our horses. Sometimes I’d ride my horse to her house and we’d ride the trails near her, which included an exciting creek crossing.

But then when I was 14 years old, my family bought a horse that was not quite broken. She was to be mine, but I wasn’t experienced enough to handle her. Let’s just say that by the time we sold her, she probably needed to be completely retrained, and I was scared of horses for life.

Grand Cavalia II | Credits: François Bergeron

This didn’t stop me from saying “Yes!” to the opportunity to check out the new Cavalia show, “Odysseo.” Imagine that one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil started a different show and decided to include 63 horses. That’s right — 63 horses, 23 of them stallions. That number was announced in an on-screen quiz before the show, which only built my tension. I mean, that is a lot of horse testosterone, right?

The set of the show is breathtaking. The tent is enormous, but inside is intimate. You start out looking at a lovely forest, mystical and magical. The trees can slide out of the way, revealing a hill. That’s right, a hill. A hill that actual horses can run on. Lots of horses. The landscapes in this show (more accurately, of this show) are breathtaking, with a moving-graphics backdrop the size of three IMAX screens:

“To give life to this extraordinary equestrian adventure, Cavalia created a 17,500 square feet stage, in the middle of which rise two hills each three storeys tall. Some 10,000 tons of rock,earth and sand are trucked in and then sculpted to create the vast space of freedom where human and horse come to play in complicity.”

(from Cavalia.net)

A full-size carousel also makes an appearance for an unforgettable segment of horses and gorgeous, compelling pole acrobatics.

The opening scene made me a little nervous. Suddenly a lot of horses were running free on the stage, which was surrounded only by a low wall. Knowing there were so many stallions, and that most of the horses were totally free (no halters, ropes, nothing — just bare horses running) and watching all the nipping they were doing to each other (more than once during the show, I feared some kind of horse-fight would break out), well, it was hard for me to relax and just enjoy the beauty of the animals.

I needn’t have worried. The trainers are exceptional, as are the horses. And the group’s attitude towards their horses is as follows: “The Cavalia approach is based on training methods designed to ensure the horses enjoy training with us and performing on stage. Trainers pay close attention to the horses to ensure that every request is adapted and respectful of what they are ready to offer.” It’s obvious, as you watch the humans and animals together.

Human Pyramid / Pyramide Humaine | Credits: François Bergeron

The acrobatic team was fantastic, and the leaping stilters were a sight to behold. But — again with the worry! — all the horses and stilters leaping together over jumps made me think, “STOP that! Someone’s going to get hurt!” (I admit I had this thought a few times during the show, seeing as I’m afraid of horses and all.)

Numerario | Credits: François Bergeron

While much of the action takes place on the ground (let’s just call the stage “the ground,” for that’s really what it is, for all intents and purposes), the show also contains some stunning aerial performances, especially in the second half. My favorite was the silks act, with riders and horses pulling the aerialists into a graceful pattern. One thing I appreciated about the aerialists was having my vision pulled up, with much to see on every level instead of just looking toward the stage ground.

Yhi | Credits: Pascal Ratthé

Though parts of Odysseo did seem to border on dangerous at times (I really didn’t used to be this way, I swear!!), most was just gorgeous. In “Arabians Liberty,” for example, a woman kneels in the center of the stage/ground while a herd of horses cavorts around her. They speed up; they slow down. They come over to her. We cannot hear her commands; the horses seem to be making their own decisions, yet as a group.

This woman, Elise Verdoncq, continued to display such a quiet confidence and control over the horses, who clearly respect her. In another scene, when humans and horses run together, with four horses per human, the other trainers frequently turned their heads to check in with their animals. Verdoncq did not need to, trusting that they were following her lead (they were). While the riders in the show demonstrated some serious riding skills and horseback acrobatics, I especially enjoyed watching Verdoncq’s quiet connection with the animals.

And the musicians! Did I even tell you? Much of the music was live (with an actual vocalist, who sometimes was on stage amongst the horses!!), and they were in a clear box up in the trees by the audience! Musicians in the trees, like fairies!

It was those little touches that really pleased me — the surprise and magnitude of the hill, or the horses running wild and nipping each other but yet under a fair amount of unseen control by the performers, or the lake. The lake! There’s a lake. It just kind of appears (80,000 gallons, but really, it just kind of creeps in), mesmerizingly, for the horses and acrobats and everyone to cavort through. (We were, to be honest, slightly underwhelmed by the finale; I’d expected something much splashier and more raucous, but perhaps it was because we were sitting at the far edge of the seating area).

Les voyageurs VI / The Travelers VI | Credits: François Bergeron

Though we were encouraged to bring our children, I thought mine were too young for an 8 p.m. show. Plenty of children were in attendance, though, and people I spoke to said their children loved it. I imagine they would, as would anyone who likes to see a magical otherworld filled with horses and acrobats, fairy singing and drums, leaping stilters and flying aerialists, and more horses, cantering and leaping and turning and waking up in the dunes and splashing through the lake and moving amongst the people, who moved amongst the horses, human and animals perhaps not so distinct after all.

It’s a gorgeous and amazing show, all in all.

The Tribe I / Tribu I | Credits: JF Leblanc

Oh, and we got to go to the after-party! If you buy VIP tickets to the show, you get a pre-show buffet dinner, open bar, excellent center seats, free desserts during the 30-minute intermission, and a party after the show, as well as a post-show tour of the stables. Unfortunately, we’d already pressed our sitter to stay extra-late, so we stopped by the party only briefly before we had to head home, skipping the stable tour and our chance to meet some of the performers.

Due to popularity, Cavalia has added several shows, extending Odysseo’s Boston-area stay until August 25. You can like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cavalia and follow them on Twitter: @Cavalia #Odysseo

Disclosure: I received four complimentary tickets to the show and to the VIP after-party. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own. All photos are from the Cavalia Odysseo website and are used here with permission.


How Do YOU Wash Dishes? Cascade Platinum (sponsored)

We live in a fairly un-updated apartment. Our rent is way below market, so we don’t ask our landlords for much. When our dishwasher failed, of course, we requested a new one, because 1) I’d gotten used to it and 2) if we weren’t going to have a functional dishwasher in that space, then give me some functional cabinets instead! (The landlord replaced it with a slightly used one, I believe.)

[Oh, DISCLOSURE: Here’s where I need to mention that “I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.” Plus, my dishes are clean, and so is my dishwasher!]

Before I moved into this apartment with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, I hadn’t had a dishwasher my entire adult life. Even for someone who likes to cook as much as I do, that’s not a big deal. I always hand-washed my dishes and didn’t mind it. And I have friends who throw elaborate annual holiday dinner parties for 26 guests, and they don’t have a dishwasher; they have a system involving their bathtub and half of the next day. Impressive, right?

But now I have a dishwasher, and two children, and multiple snacks, and all the meals, etc. And sippy cups. Oh, the sippy cups. Or straw cups, these days. In any case, a million-and-a-half cups and snack containers and bowls and plates and big mixing bowls and cutting boards and knives and serving spoons and pots and skillets to wash…every single day.

I really appreciate having a dishwasher, even if it isn’t a brand-new one. And I was happy to get the chance to review the Cascade Platinum Pacs. We normally use either a powder or liquid, having to put it into both compartments.


The Cascade Platinum Pacs? So easy. You just throw one into the main wash compartment, close the lid, and go! Plus I do notice that our dishwasher seems to be a lot cleaner and our dishes shinier. Sometimes I post food pictures on my blog, and I’m not the world’s best food photographer, so shiny dishes can only help, right? I mean, who isn’t photographing their meals these days?

So easy!

So easy!

Cascade has a partnership with Gail Simmons, the Top Chef judge and editor of Food+Wine magazine. She knows that it’s not just the tasty food that counts in this world of food-sharing social media; presentation counts, too. Dishes sparkle; flatware shines; glass have no spots, of course! You can find some beautiful food photos over at A Beautiful Bite; she has a thing for old Pyrex and a knack for staging. I’m telling you, food blogging really is about the photos!

If you’re new to food presentation, Simmons suggests this:

The easiest recipes pop with unexpected, gourmet presentations.  Drizzle bright sauces on sparkling white plates or layer desserts in crystal-clean glassware. Keep your presentation sparkling with Cascade Platinum, which keeps dishes perfect for anytime entertaining and impromptu guests.

Thankfully, we don’t have an “impromptu guest” thing most of the time, because our home goes from tidy to trashed in very little time, thanks to my darling children and their active selves. But when we do, I know my dishes look good.


I will say that though Cascade Platinum Pacs were pretty powerful in their cleaning action, there were a couple of things that really did need a scrub before going into the dishwasher. Cooked egg on a metal spatula, for example. Or a spoon with—was that peanut butter??—on it. But just that one spoon. We handle a lot of peanut butter around here, and it normally comes off just fine. I don’t know what on that spoon was so resistant to the chelants and other cleaners in the Platinum Pacs.

Want to learn more? Check out the Cascade Facebook page. You can also enter a contest, Cascade “My Platinum.” It’s a four-week Instagram contest which encourages fans to upload photos. Check out this week’s theme and show off how sparkly Cascade makes your dishes!

To enter, visit #MyPlatinum Instagram. Each week, two contestants will be selected to receive a brand new Whirlpool dishwasher. A grand prize winner will receive a Platinum kitchen makeover (oh, wow, can you imagine?).

To win, users have to both register and upload a photo with the #MyPlatinum hashtag and tag @MyCascade.  Participants that have not registered will be disqualified from winning.

Each week will have a 6-day entry period where Instagram users can enter the contest with their #MyPlatinum Photo. Cascade will choose two weekly winners and one final grand prize winner after the entry period has ended. Please be sure to include both the #MyPlatinum hashtag and tag @MyCascade in your entries to the contest!

Week 4: My Platinum Table (Entry Period: 6/24-6/30): Show us your sparkling tablescape for your most special celebrations!

Grand Prize Winner (Entry: 6/3-6/30)



Rite Aid Tugaboos Review

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Rite Aid Tugaboos diapers.

I recently had the chance to try Rite Aid Tugaboos diapers for Ben. It was a brand we’d never tried before.Rite Aid tugaboos logo

Lately, the only diapers we use are nighttime pull-ups for Ben (and wow, is it nice to not need diapers the rest of the time!). So when I received the Tugaboos, I thought, “Wow, these will be hard to review!” The diapers are very thin and light, and I knew there was no way Ben would get through the night in one of those without massive leaks.

The first night, I changed his diaper after a few hours, while he was sleeping. The second night, I forgot to. Uh-oh. Would we face wet pajamas in the morning? Wet sheets? Worst of all, a tired child who’d woken up to early because he was wet?

No,. no, and no. It turns out that the thin, light, cottony-soft Tugaboos can easily hold their own against our regular night-time pull-ups. I wouldn’t have believed it, except that the Tugaboos continued to keep Ben dry through the next several nights. Rite Aid tells me that the Tugaboos have recently been improved for added leakage protection and faster absorption. I don’t know what they were like before, but they sure have maximum absorption and leakage protection now!


So thin and light compared to the night-time pull-ups we normally use, but just as much absorbency!

Ben is used to pull-ups for night, which feel more “big boy” to him, I think, but he didn’t protest the regular diaper aspect of the Tugaboos. (If he had, I could have simply put the tabs on first and had him step into them. The waist and side panels are pretty stretchy and soft.)

And for those whose children have sensitive skin, the Tugaboos boast a hypoallergenic inner liner.

Rite Aid diaper size 2 42 ct

Want to win a Vera Bradley diaper bag through Rite Aid? See details below!


For the month of June, all Tugaboos purchases will earn an entry into the Tugaboos and Vera Bradley Sweepstakes!

With every in-store purchase of qualifying Tugaboos products using your wellness+ card at any Rite Aid store between June 1-30, 2013, you will receive an entry for a chance to win one of (25) Vera Bradley Designer Diaper Bags filled with select Tugaboos products.

To enter without making a purchase, complete this entry form now: https://riteaidtugaboos.dja.com/.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Rite Aid.

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Vicks Behind Ear Thermometer: Review, Charity Click, and Giveaway!

Did you hear? It’s flu season!

Just kidding. How could you not hear about it? It’s a trending news and social media topic, not to mention a subject of hot discussion at the water cooler, in the cafe, on Facebook, and a few cities have declared states of health emergencies due to hospital overflow….and everyone seems to know someone who’s entire family has had the flu or otherwise been sick, even if the whole family received the flu shot (and that’s all I’m gonna say about that, because there are some hot opinions on that topic!).

Vicks has come up with a Cold & Flu Survival Guide from pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics fellow Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg. For every email, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest “Share” of Dr. Jen’s Survival Guide, Vicks will donate a Behind Ear Thermometer and Vicks Starry Night Humidifier to Baby Buggy, a non-profit founded by Jessica Sienfeld and dedicated to providing U.S. families in need with essential items for their children. Go to the Cold & Flu Survival Guide to share their message so more families can get the items they need this flu season!

My family got the flu, all except for me. Yay, me! Someone had to be upright to take temperatures, dole out medication to miserable children, clean up vomit, sooth sick children, provide drinks and popsicles and heat soup and put on videos and read books and comfort the sick for those long five days…

It wasn’t fun, but we were lucky: C was well enough to get out to work (he had a pretty light version), and he was able to pick up supplies (ginger ale, juice, bendy straws, saltines, soup) on his way home.

The kids felt cruddy with strong fevers for several days, plus one day of vomiting. I knew enough to keep them hydrated any way I could (popsicles for breakfast? Sure!!), and I was also doling out ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help keep them from being totally miserable.

To monitor their temperatures, I had a choice of:

  • standard digital thermometer (neither likes to sit still while I hold it in his armpit);
  • temporal artery thermometer (a.k.a. forehead scanner), which they both hate, so I’d often get readings of 97;
  • in-the-ear thermometer (accurate when I COULD get it into an ear, which was….hahahahahaha! You think a sick toddler will let me stick something in his year and hold still while I do it?) and
  • Vicks Behind Ear thermometer (place it behind ear, press button).

The Vicks Behind Ear thermometer wins. Besides showing the temperature almost immediately, the backlight is either green, yellow, or red, depending on the temperature. So if you’re half asleep and the thing is green, awesome, Yellow, give a second look. Red, turn on the light and prepare yourself to deal with a high fever.

The only thing I don’t love about that Vicks thermometer is that it doesn’t shine a small light. I mean, if it can do green/yellow/red, surely it can light up like the face of a cell phone so you can see where you’re aiming it, right? Sometimes (often!) I had to turn on the bedroom light or wear a headlamp to make sure I was getting it in the right place, which made the whole green/yellow/red thing slightly moot.

But otherwise, I was comparing temperatures, sometimes, from forehead scanner/ear thermometer/behind-the-ear thermometer. Every single time–two boys, one week, many fevers–the Vicks Behind Ear thermometer was the easiest to use, least objectionable for the child, and most accurate.

One lucky reader here can win either the Vicks Behind Ear thermometer or a Vicks Starry Night humidifier (winner’s choice). Can you imagine getting through cold/flu season without either?

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Easy entries! For each item that you do, please leave me a comment saying that you have done so.

Giveaway ends (and winners will be chosen) January 25. Winners will have 24 hours after notification to respond and claim prize. Thanks!

  1. Leave a comment with your email address, letting me know which item you’d prefer to win!
  2. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so (and what your Twitter handle is!).
  3. “Like” the Its Not Like a Cat page on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so..
  4. Go the the Vicks Cold & Flu Survival Guide and share their message so they donate to BabyBuggy (and leave me a comment telling me whether you did it by Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or…).
  5. Extra entry if you go to the Vicks Cold & Flu Survival Guide and share again by a different method.

All winners should be in the U.S. for shipping purposes. I was not compensated in any way for this review. Vicks is providing and shipping the giveaway prize. I did receive a Vicks Behind Ear Thermometer at an informational presentation about a year ago. All opinions are my own.


Heart of Haiti: Support a Good Cause (and Giveaway!)

Did you know that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? And that they weren’t exactly a well-off country before the most recent terrible earthquake?

But hope runs strong there. Willa Shalit, an artist and social entrepreneur, founded Heart of Haiti, a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative, along with Macy’s and The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. According to Macy’s,

The Heart of Haiti initiative provides artists with an opportunity to make a living feed their families and pay their children’s school fees. Already, The Heart of Haiti collection has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,000 people in the country.

I was sent a beautiful handcrafted horn bracelet from the Heart of Haiti collection to review. When my older son saw it, he gasped in delight and said, “Wow, it’s like a zebra!” It’s lovely, stylish, and comfortable. I’m not used to wearing bracelets, since I’m constantly carrying small children around, so I was surprised that this bracelet is really comfortable to wear and seems very durable. I don’t see it on the site right now, but there’s a lot of other jewelry that catches my eye!


Horn Bracelet from Heart of Haiti

The collection also includes housewares and home decor items such as picture frames, bowls, trays, and stunning candle holders. It also features quilts, metalwork, papier-mâché items, and paintings. Most of the items are made from recycled and sustainable items “such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums & local gommier wood.” Heart of Haiti products are available exclusively at 25 Macy’s stores around the country and on www.Macys.com/Haiti.

One lucky winner here will receive a Heart of Haiti songbird picture frame (ever wish you could win your own giveaway? I do!).

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Winner must live in the U.S. Enter via Rafflecopter below to for your chance to win!Winners will be announced December 30 by 8 p.m.

Disclosure: I was given a Heart of Haiti bone bracelet to review. I was not otherwise compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway