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September 8, 2007

Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups, and Holding Out

Cover Girlology Hang-Ups.jpgToday is Three Kid Circus Auditions' stop on the Parent Blogger Network Blog Tour for Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out, the highly-anticipated book from Melisa Holmes M.D. and Trish Hutchison, M.D.

Apparently I'm the last person on the planet to get wind of Girlology - this popular educational curriculum created by Dr. Holmes and Dr. Hutchison spawned a website: www.girlology.com and the original book, Girlology: A Girl's Guide to Stuff That Matters. This fantastic series of books tackles some of the toughest topics for young women with confidence and directness. Rather than preaching or admonishing girls to follow a rigid, antiquated set of rules, Holmes and Hutchison present case studies - in the form of anecdotes - that delve into the real-life situations that most girls will encounter, or at least hear about through the grapevine, and then break down the important issues in a concise, straight-talking question and answer section.

As a mother of a sooner-than-I'd-like-to-be tween, I'm already bracing myself for the inevitable questions - and I'm coming up short. I'm absolutely thrilled to know that there is a wonderful series of books that takes on these topics. (I can't imagine discussing some of these topics with my now-eight-year-old daughter, even when she is older, but just because I'm having a hard time envisioning a discussion about whether oral sex does or doesn't count as 'real' sex, doesn't mean that her friends won't go there - and probably not when they are in college, either.)

I really liked this book - Holmes and Hutchison had this to say about Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out:

Our new book is definitely for the teen that still needs advice, but also needs more detailed information for "damage control." By this age, they're past the puberty stuff and they've already established some personal values and behavioral patterns. Some are already having sex, and many are thinking about it. Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out still emphasizes the importance of a committed adult relationship as the best setting for sexual intercourse, but it offers viatl information that can help teens make smart and safe decisions about their health, relationships, risk taking and sexual behaviors.

I really enjoyed the open-minded approach - good and bad decisions are presented and analyzed. The great Think it Through sections at the end of each chapter are a fun, eye-catching way to help young women work through a situation and come to some very important conclusions.

Girlology is a great find - especially for those of us who don't know how or where to start with all of this. I'm putting this one on the shelf for later years when my daughters are ready - I have no doubt that it will be a welcome resource for both of us.

To see what other Parent Bloggers Network tour members had to say, please check out the roundup.
Click here to get your own copy of Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out.

And to find out more about Girlology and the authors, visit www.girlology.com.

June 25, 2007

Kaboom Cleaners

When the hot mamas over at the Parent Bloggers Network asked me to review Kaboom Shower, Tub & Tile Cleaner and Kaboom Never Scrub! - I was embarrassingly into it. Who gets excited about these things? Shower cleaning spray? Toilet cleaning solution? What is wrong with me?

Fine, I'll admit it. I hate cleaning my bathroom...and the number one reason is the hellish fumes from chemicals. Look, I've almost Super Mom'ed myself a few times, and while it would be cool if I was able to produce cleaning solutions from my fingertips, the reality is I'd probably just kill a few brain and lung cells, and maybe hallucinate for a few days. Or die. CLEANING YOUR BATHROOM IMPROPERLY CAN RESULT IN DEATH - did you know that? All the more reason to avoid it like the plague. Or, you know, make your husband do it.

So, with my reluctance to do the whole bathroom-as-gas-chamber thing (who designed my bathrooms with zero natural ventilation?) it is unsurprising that I have a soap scum issue. And the occasional under-the-rim cleaning issues. I'm not going to elaborate further. Try not to dwell. Doo dee doo dee doo, la la la. Moving on --

So, when the offer to try this Kaboom stuff out for free came, I checked out the website, and lo and behold, look who's hawking this stuff? It is that OxyClean and Orange-Glo guy! He's like the Emeril of cleaning products. He's personally responsible for my initial purchase of OxyClean, which I just freaking can't do without. He's so enthusiastic about cleaning. Which, personally, is pretty hot - hey baby, I got a soap scummy shower with your name all over it. Heh.

When the products arrived, I was eager to see if they could do what they claimed to do. I'm not a big fan of in-tank chemicals for the toilet - it always seems like the kids are forgetting to close the lid, and the dog and cat have been known to drink from the toilet frequently. I gave it a try, though, and I will say, this stuff totally works. I've got a sparkling bowl, and my hysteria over keeping the lid down so that no one drinks the water AND TOTALLY DIES OMG is really unfounded.

As the box recommends:

Bowl water not harmful to children or pets. However it is not recommended that pets regularly drink from the toilet.

Now, the Kaboom Shower, Tub & Tile Cleaner - I am fume-phobic, remember? But this stuff actually has a fairly pleasant aroma, for a cleaner, and it didn't leave me with watering eyes and wheezing lungs. Even better, it didn't take much of it to completely dissolve the soap scum on my tile shower, and it even cleaned the orange stains from my grout. Woo hoo! You just spray it on and let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then wipe. Awesome.

I enjoyed MY Kaboom experience... to read what other reviewers had to say, visit the Parent Bloggers Network review roundup. To find out more about Kaboom products, visit their website.


May 21, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Mamasource.com

Today on Three Kid Circus Auditions, I'm trying out a great new site for moms - Mamasource.com. When the hot mamas over at Mother-Talk were putting together this blog tour, I jumped at it. I've checked out a lot of community sites for mothers over the years, so I was eager to see if Mamasource.com had something new to offer.

From the "About Mamasource" page:

Mamasource is a safe and easy way to connect with other moms in your local area. Find the advice, referrals and insight you need, in a supportive community of moms helping moms. As a Mamasource member, you can:

Ask other local moms any question you need help with.

Read the questions other moms have asked- and see what answers they have received.

Share your own advice and practical referrals with other moms who need your help.

Mamasource is a free service, but to protect our members we are an invitation-only community. We have a strict no-spam policy and your personal information will never be shared with advertisers.

Well, that's refreshing. So many of the other mom-communities exist to sell advertising dollars or promote products from the sponsors to the highly desireable mom demographic. And while there's nothing wrong with that approach, it is cool to see a site that is not riddled with ads and flair.

I like the local focus, too. Mamasource.com allows users to review local services and recommend everything from hair stylists to restaurants. Personal recommendations on great businesses are always helpful, and when you have kids, hearing it from another mom has extra clout.

I also really love the "a little about me" footer that is inserted after any request. This is a snippet from your profile that can be customized with each post you make. So, you could be asking for advice on great travel tips, and in your "a little about me" footer, you could mention the ages of your children and your frequency of travel, so that you are more likely to get appropriate suggestions. As a long-time discussion board user, I think this handy feature will cut down on "ass-vice" that can result from commenters who don't know the whole story.

Mamasource.com makes finding peer advice easy and supportive. Even their great FAQ page gives 'insider' tips on netiquette to help new users feel like old pros - because let's face it, at one time of another, we've all stumbled across a discussion board or blog where it is all caps, all the time, or full of abbreviations that defy logic. These simple suggestions will take the mystery out of it, and keep everyone happy.

Mamasource.com is still fairly new - my local area includes moms from all over California, for example. I'm sure as the member roster grows, the regional focus will be enhanced. I'm looking forward to seeing this community flourish. Take some time and check Mamasource.com out!

Want to hear what other bloggers have to say? Check out Mother-Talk's reviews.

May 1, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Writing Motherhood

Today is Three Kid Circus's stop on Mother Talk's latest blog tour, featuring Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues. It is four o'clock in the morning here, and I've been up half the night with scattered thoughts. I've had a rough couple of days with my kids, feeling irritable and easily annoyed. They seem to have a endless supply of energy while my tail is dragging. I haven't wanted to write about it, because it seems self-serving and whiny.

And yet, it is also my experience, my right now. As a blogger, I've become mindful of "my audience" and will often avoid writing about the negative, the heavy, the self-pity. As a writer, I've learned that the best way to send those demons packing is to write them away. And as a mother, I've experienced the guilt and doubt associated with writing my own story - I'm justamom, right? I am wasting time on writing, when I could be folding laundry. Right?

Lisa Garrigues has wriiten a powerful and empowering guide for mothers who feel the urge to write. Writing Motherhood is a roll-your-sleeves-up-and-prepare-to-get-dirty workshop in a bright orange slipcover. Lisa doesn't just tell you how she writes - she shows you how to capture your own stories, one prompt or invitation at a time.

Central to the Writing Motherhood method is the creation of your Mother's Notebook. I cracked up when I read Lisa's recommendation that you start with a disclaimer:

Almost every time one of my students prepares to read aloud a passage from her Mother's Notebook, she offers some excuse for her writing: I haven't slept in days. I had a root canal. My children were screaming bloody murder when I wrote this. The inclination to disclaim our writing has become a running joke in my classes, but we can't help ourselves. Apologizing before reading our writing, it seems, is as automatic as clearing our throats before speaking.

Joking aside, I tell students to reserve the first page of their Mother's Notebook for a Disclaimer, and overall apology for their writing...Title the first page of your notebook "Disclaimer" and write down - in list or paragraph form - every excuse you can think of to explain the lack or lackluster of your writing...

Get it all down - the excuses, the self-doubts, the self-incriminations. Then whenever you feel discouraged about your writing, read over your Disclaimer and recognize the sniviling voice of your self-critic for the wimp he (or she) really is.

*scurries off to write Disclaimer*

In quick, fifteen minute bursts, Lisa teaches even the most reticent mother to capture her stories. Rather than rigid style guidelines and write-by-the-numbers lessons, Writing Motherhood is all about the journey. There is no universal mothering experience. Lisa gives each writer the freedom to find and explore their own path, while providing a solid framework to build on.

Each lesson is illuminated with Lisa's personal experiences, and those of her classes of writers. From the pre-baby years through empty nest syndrome and caring for aging loved ones, Writing Motherhood encourages women to capture the triumphs and heartbreaks that make up our lives.

The book is organized into two parts - the first is a step-by-step guide to building and filling your Mother's Notebook, and filled with suggestions on how to find the time and space to write. It is also full of inspiration and validation - something every writer needs.

*scurries off to buy notebook and dig moat*

The second part of Writing Motherhood focuses on the life-cycle of motherhood.

Part Two follows the chronology of raising our children from birth to adulthood, but motherhood does not follow a straight path. As mothers, we spiral back year after year to the same issues and emotions viewed from a different perspective. So whether you are raising toddlers at twenty or at fifty, whether your parents are agile or aged, you will find inspiration and relevance throughout the book.

On every single page, I found my eyebrows shooting up and my fingers wiggling, eager to put these wonderful writing lessons to work. I am very impressed with Writing Motherhood, and I highly recommend it. In fact, I think this would make a fantastic Mother's Day gift.

For more reviews from the mamas at Mother-Talk, click!

April 25, 2007

Let's Get Ready for 1st Grade

Today is Three Kid Circus Auditions' stop on The Parent Bloggers Network review-tour for the awesome, award-winning Let's Get Ready for... titles produced by Cedar Valley Publishing. Let me just start off by saying that I wish I had requested both titles, because these books are fan-freaking-tastic. Since I was sent the 1st Grade version, my review will focus on that title alone.

Packed into this lightweight volume is literally all the required curriculum that your kids will be expected to master in 1st grade. Think I'm kidding? I showed this book to my son's 1st grade teacher, and she couldn't spot a single concept from the standardized curriculum that was missing from this book. And my son, who is in the final month of 1st grade, also recognized these concepts as things he covered in class this year.

The information is organzied into kid-friendly pages full of colorful illustrations and large text. Each concept has its own page, perfect for introducing or reviewing. Unlike many of the popular worksheet books available, this book is something that even my four-year-old was happy to sit down and flip through the pages. There is no pressure here, only solid information that I believe would be beneficial to every parent and student to have at their fingertips before the school year even begins.

Academic requirements are so much more intense than they were when we were kids. Take the mystery out of wondering what your child should know, and pick up a copy of Let's Get Ready for">Let's Get Ready for 1st Grade (or Kindergarten) today.

To see what the rest of the Parent Bloggers Network Reviewers had to say - check it out here.

January 23, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Babyproofing Your Marriage

Today is Three Kid Circus's stop on this week's Mother Talk Blog Tour for the highly anticipated new book Babyproofing Your Marriage. The tagline reads: How to laugh more, argue less, and communicate better as your family grows. I think most marriages could do with a few helpful pointers in those areas, right?

I'll admit, when I first cracked open Babyproofing Your Marriage, I was put off. I did my usual open the cover, jump around reading random pages, scan the final pages, and I wasn't ready for what I found. At first pass, the language seemed flippant, the anecdotes I read seemed overly negative, and the vibe of the book seemed harsh.

Don't do what I did. Start at the beginning, and read the book as it is meant to be read. Despite my initial reaction, I settled down into a chair after a long day, and dove in. When I surfaced several hours later, pages were turned down, passages were highlighted, and my husband was reading over my shoulder. I honestly think my knee-jerk reaction to the first few anecdotes and passages I read was due to the real-life experience I have with many of the emotions and realities recounted in this book.

Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill and Julia Stone are all longtime friends, and it comes across in the writing. The tone is chatty, humorous and down-to-earth. The three authors have seven children between them, "...none of whom have yet set foot in a Kindergarten. Needless to say, we lived this book as we wrote it." Ah, my favorite kind of 'experts!' Those that are walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

Cockrell, O'Neill and Stone conducted a bazillion interviews with parents, and present the good, the bad and the ugly in a straight-forward manner. They note early on:

Athough this book is written by women, men get a fair shake and a loud shout. This is not a girl's bitch session; though we don't pull any punches. We've done our best to get the guys' side of the story straight. We didn't always like what they had to say, but we can pretty much guarantee that whether you are a man or a woman, something in here is going to tick you off. Fair enough. Just try to keep an open mind. We found that even the most inflammatory comments helped us learn something.

With my mind locked in the open position, I jumped in. With chapters discussing everything from keeping score to the "Sex Life" of New Parents, dealing with extended family and adding more children to the family, the authors leap right into the middle of the subjects that most new parents struggle with. Even eight years after the birth of my first child, I still found myself wincing over some of these problem areas. Babyproofing Your Marriage is written with newbie parents in mind, but many of their astute observations and troubleshooting tips can be applied by seasoned parents as well.

My appreciation for Babyproofing Your Marriage continues to grow as I reflect back on some of the passages I reacted strongly to. Even though I've hashed over these trouble spots with friends time and again, and I know that most of my friends had similar struggles, it would have been very empowering to know that some of these problems are almost universal, especially as a newly minted parent.

Babyproofing Your Marriage offers tools to get the conversation started, and suggestions for resolving some of the strife that comes from adding a new member to the family. I think that Babyproofing Your Marriage is a great addition to the growing library of parenting books that tell it like it really is.

For more reviews from your favorite Mother Talk Bloggers, check here
.
Babyproofing Your Marriage is on sale today!

For more about the authors and the book, you can visit their site