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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.


June 18, 2007

eHarmony Marriage

When the Parent Bloggers Network offered the chance to take a look at eHarmony's new Online Marriage Counseling Alternative, I was pretty excited. Like many couples post-kids, we rarely take time to focus on our marriage. And even though we are very much in love, there are plenty of areas where we, like most couples, could use some strategy and guidance to help make our marriage even better.

With our busy schedules, tight finances, and lack of red-hot burning issues between us, we've never been motivated to pursue counseling together. We'd rather spend the time and money needed for a counseling session on a babysitter, so we can talk amongst ourselves. But over the years, we've learned to avoid certain topics, and we've put up walls around sensitive issues - nothing major, but things that really need to be aired out.

You know how it is... sometimes starting the conversation is a thousand times harder than talking it out, once the subject is raised. A good counselor will help identify these 'hidden' issues, and will help facilitate the conversation, opening those doors so that you can get to the bottom of it, together. I've heard that one of the problems with couples therapy can be personality and trust issues between one or both partners and the counselor as well. Add to that the assumption that therapy means something is wrong, and you have a recipe for avoidance.

The folks at eHarmony recognize the different reasons that people seek out marriage counseling. While many people wait for their pants to catch on fire before turning to counseling, others use counseling from the first months of marriage to help build their relationship skills. Some, like me, want to tune up their marriage, throw some light into those dark corners and mend any broken seams. There is something for everyone here.

One of the most recognized dating services on the internet, eHarmony is tapping into great market with eHarmony Marriage. Like with their dating service, eHarmony offers a comprehensive, highly individualized questionnaire that will identify your strengths and weaknesses, resulting in a very clear plan of action for improving your marriage.

The second step is the Marriage Profile. After individually filling out your own questionnaire, eHarmony puts together a marriage profile. My own profile was dead-on, and I eagerly read through the resulting information. There are pages and pages of great, insightful information and personalized plans to act on included with the profile. I was quite impressed.

The third step on eHarmony Marriage takes you through twelve 20-minute online video exercises. I didn't have the chance to view them all, but I enjoyed the ones I watched. They were entertaining, not preachy at all, and featured couples-in-the-street and sketches that helped illustrated the subject at hand. The video exercises also give personalized feedback and activities, which is a great way to reinforce the subject, and help you get the most out of the information.

Honestly, what really appealed to my internet-addicted, nerdy heart was the fact that this information is online. You can curl up with your honey in your bed after the kids go to sleep and view a video or two. You can be inspired or prodded to raise these important subjects without dragging anyone to a counselor's office. This is good stuff.

For the purpose of this review, I went through the process without my husband - but I'm convinced that eHarmony Marriage is exactly what we need to put a new spring in our steps. I can't wait to see how our relationship will improve.

For other reviews, check out the Parent Bloggers Network. And to find out more from eHarmony Marriage, click to visit.

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.

April 9, 2007

Cozi - Software for Busy Families

Today is the first stop on The Parent Bloggers Network's latest product tour for the fantastic new family management software, Cozi. As the chief appointment setter and keeper, tracker of all things schedule, as well as shopping master of the TKC universe, I spend a lot of time jotting things down. I scribble them on the calendar. I send myself emails. I write on scraps of paper. I'm pretty good about keeping myself straight, but the rest of my family is in the dark much of the time. It can be exhausting to explain to your husband for the 17th time that no, he can't book a tee time for this weekend because you already have plans with friends. He should know this stuff...but how? Half the time, this information is scribbled in the margin of the magazine I was reading a week ago. It never made it onto the calendar...not that he's really good about checking that, either.

Enter Cozi. From a single intuitive command center screen, I can quickly enter the family's schedules, appointments and parties for the upcoming weeks. It took me five minutes to set up the kids' school hours, my husband's work schedule and evening appointments, a few social activities and holiday plans. Jumping down to the bottom of the same screen, I was able to enter our constantly updating list of grocery and household items that need to be replaced.

Because, oh, how the grocery lists fry me. I make them and shop to them, but it is that midweek out of milk and that one thing you can't remember trip that always kills me. I spend $20 on miscellaneous crap that has nothing to do with the lightbulbs that were the only other item I needed. Even worse is asking my husband to stop on the way to pick up a few items. He'll get to the store and call me, and if I'm busy, or scattered, we always end up with that one crucial thing missing.

But! Get this! I programmed Cozi's toll-free number into each of our cell phones, and then gave it a call from the aisle of our local grocery store. Cozi read me my grocery list (because I don't have text messaging - that is another option...makes me ponder texting, to be honest) right there in produce. I thought I had everything, and yet I had missed several items. Have a few kids, lose a few brain cells, no worries. You've got Cozi to remember that you are out of laundry soap.

My husband has been able to check the time and location of a dinner meeting via his phone, and we've been playing around with adding family photos to create a custom collage screensaver. You can also send email or phone messages quickly from the same screen.

Cozi is simple, effective and free. Free, free free free free. Which rocks. GIve it a shot, and see if your family doesn't think you're a scheduling genius.


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