I grew up with Spot Shot carpet cleaner. My step-dad, whose mantra should be “Save money or die,” very rarely endorses a brand name product. He would much rather stick to the cheaper generic alternatives, whenever possible. However, when he finds a brand name product that outshines any other similar products on the market, he sticks with it for life, and will use nothing else. Plus, he recommends it to everyone he knows! The original Spot Shot carpet cleaner has long been one of these much-lauded brands. When I was growing up, I was taught that no other carpet cleaner would stand up to the job, and I might as well be throwing my money away if I used anything else. That’s how passionate he is when he chooses to back a brand name!

The one, huge drawback to Spot Shot Original–the thing has caused me to avoid purchasing it for my entire adult life–is the odor. The fumes from my step-dad’s beloved Spot Shot could practically set a person’s nose hairs on fire! I’m not kidding! With such potent fumes, I didn’t feel comfortable using the product around my children or pets. To my way of thinking, anything with fumes that harsh can’t be non-toxic, right? I had to make due with alternative products, some baking soda and vinegar, and a whole lot of elbow grease. That method works okay, but it’s not nearly as easy or efficient as the Spot Shot I used when I was a girl.

That’s why I was thrilled when MomCentral and Wd-40 offered to send me a Spot Shot demo kit, so I could test out the new and improved, non-toxic (YES, I said non-toxic) and environmentally friendly (YES, I said environmentally friendly) Spot Shot. I couldn’t wait to try it! The million dollar question was, of course, would it work as well as the old, fume-laden Spot Shot?

I received my Spot Shot demo kit in the mail. It was really cool, by the way, including a small carpet square, and bottles of amonia and chocolate to dump on said square. With my kids at a safe distance, I slathered the square with the amonia and chocolate sauce. Here’s what it looked like:

If I had a stinky, smelly mess like that on my living room carpet, I’d be extremely peeved, to say the least! After messing up the carpet square, I was supposed to spray the new Spot Shot on the stain and ammonia, then blot with a rag (also provided in the kit!). Then I was supposed to spray and blot, spray and blot, etc, until the stain and odor were gone. In less than five minutes, with absolutely no scrubbing, I had one very wet, spotlessly clean, totally odorless carpet square! Here’s what it looked like:

My son, who watched the proceedings very carefully, simply said, “COOL!” and I have to agree! I was amazed! Not only does the new Spot Shot work just as well as the original, but it has almost no odor at all! I’m hooked on the new, environmentally friendly, non-toxic Spot Shot, and I believe in it as firmly as my step-dad always has believed in the old version. Sorry, Rich, but it looks like a new best carpet cleaner has come to town!

Noodleboro

Sometimes, I feel like listening is the last skill my kids will ever learn, if they learn it at all! Some days, I feel like I’m a record player that’s gotten stuck, because I have to repeat myself so many times! “Put on yoru shoes. Put on your shoes. Put on your shoes.” “Don’t put things in the oven. Don’t put things in the oven. Hey! Do NOT put that in the oven!” Know what I mean?

My children’s listening skills could definitely use some work. That’s why I was super-thrilled when MomCentral offered me the chance to test out and review one Noodleboro game from Hasbro. I was even more thrilled when I received the Pizza Palace game, which is all about learning to listen! As soon as the box arrived, my kids and I cracked it open and gave it a whirl. I have to admit that the first couple of times we tried to play the game were rough. My kids, with their selective hearing, were so excited about the new game and all the funny pizza topping cards (dinosaur skull, stinky socks, etc.), they were completely ignoring me! They wanted to carry the cards around and forget about the game! Then I had a brilliant (if I do say so myself) idea that changed our experience with this Noodleboro game from stressful to enjoyable.

I have always believed that we, as parents, teach our kids more by our actions than by our words. If we want our children to listen to us, we have to listen to them. Still, it takes time. I do try to listen, really listen, to my kids when they’re speaking. Part of me thinks that this non-listening phase is just something kids go through, and they’ll eventually grow out of. But, it would be nice if this game helped them work on their listening skills now. So, I decided to play the game in reverse! Normally, in the Pizza Palace game, the parent orders a pizza with various toppings, and the child has to listen in order to fill the order correctly. We switched it around, and I made the pizzas. My kids loved it, and after I showed that I could listen to them well enough to make their silliest, most complicated pizzas, they were willing to settle down and test out their own listening skills. Much to my surprise, they both did exceptionally well when their turns came! So now I know that they can listen, when they want to!

The bottom line is this: The Noodleboro Pizza Palace game isn’t a miracle fix for teaching kids to listen, but I don’t think there ever will be a miracle fix for teaching kids good manners. It’s something you have to work on, again and again and again. And since we have to work on it so much, why not enlist the help of a product that will make the learning fun?

The Noodleboro games come with a book that teaches a lesson about the skills in question, and also a cd taht has fun songs and reads the story out loud. My daughter loves the book and still reads it almost daily!

In addition to the Pizza Palace game, there’s a Picnic Basket game (please & thank you) and a Fun Park game (sharing).

You can win a Noodleboro game! Take this quick, easy survey and be entered to win one of 200 Noodleboro games, thanks to MomCentral and Hasbro! Here’s the link: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/?p=WEB2285CWRZFAU

Can you remember it? The sounds, the smells, the sights! Ahh…it sure takes me back! When I was a kid, I went to the circus every year. Sometimes, I went twice, one of the only great things about having divorced parents. It had to be one of the most exciting times of the year, hands down. For a young kid, going to the circus is the next best thing to meeting a super hero in real life! All those amazing performers and exotic animals! One year, my sister got to ride an elepant. AN ELEPHANT!! I’m not sure if I remember the actual event or just a picture of it. Now that I think about it, I was probably too young to ride the elepant, or else I would have been in the photo, too. Anyway, my point is this: the best circus in the world, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, might be coming to a town near you, and I have a code to share with you that will give you 20% off your tickets!!
If you’re still not convinced that you should take your kids to the circus, take a look at this face:
Wouldn’t you LOVE to be the one who puts a look like that on your child’s face? You can, by making the circus a family tradition, like my parents did. To help start the family traditions early, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has started a wonderful program called Baby’s First Circus, This program allows babies to receive a free ticket voucher that can be exchanged for a free ticket to any Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performance, anytime, anywhere. No expiration date! Isn’t that awesome?
To get the discount, go to ringling.com and order your tickets. On the order page, there will be a spot to type in a discount code. Don’t forget to use the code!! Here’s the info:
*The 20% discount code for Ringling Bros. Circus. Code: MCC
 The code is valid for the circus shows in the following cities:

Indianapolis, IN – Sept. 4-7, 2008
Kansas City, MO – Sept. 10-14, 2008
Grand Rapids, MI – Sept. 18-21, 2008
Denver, CO – Oct. 2-13, 2008
Boston, MA – Oct. 8-13, 2008
Cleveland, OH – Oct. 24 – Nov. 2
Chicago, IL – Nov. 6 – 30, 2008
St. Louis, MO – Nov. 6-9, 2008
Auburn Hills, MI – Nov. 12 – 16, 2008
Highland Heights, KY – Feb 27 – Mar. 1, 2009
Cincinnati, OH – Mar. 4 – 8, 2008
Feel free to share this code with family and friends!! Thanks to MomCentral for spreading the discount code love!

When my kids were in diapers, I struggled frequently with tough diaper rash. When my son was a year old, he had an allergic reaction to some cheap diapers that gave him the worst diaper rash imaginable! His poor little bottom was raw and red and peeling, with little red dots around the edges of the rash. When we took him to the doctor, she informed us that the allergic reaction had been aggravated by a yeast diaper rash, and recommended that we use over-the-counter steroid cream as a treatment. Eventually, the rash went away, but I’ll never forget how horrible it looked, or the profound sense of guilt I had, even though the rash wasn’t really my fault.

When my daughter came along, she frequently had yeast diaper rashes, but I knew enough to buy the over-the-counter cream before the rash became too horrible. Still, with just steroid cream as a treatment, that pesky rash kept creeping back. It never went away for good until she was potty trained. I got to the point where I felt there was nothing I could do to completely tackle that rash!

I wish that Vusion ointment had been around when my kids were in diapers! Vusion is a new treatment for yeast diaper rashes that is so effective it can be obtained through prescription only. It’s also gentle enough that it has been approved by the FDA to treat babies as young as four weeks old, which is how old my daughter was when her first round of yeast diaper rash cropped up. It would have been so nice to be allowed to stop worrying about diaper rashes and focus on other, happier things, like spending guilt-free time with my kids! If your baby has a rash that just won’t go away, ask your doctor about Vusion ointment!

Thanks to MomCentral, for allowing me the chance to help spread the word about Vusion Ointment. Click here to download a coupon for Vusion Ointment.

I am always on the lookout for new ways to effectively and safely clean my house. I love the do-it-yourself cleaner recipes and my husband knows that I would much rather use baking soda and elbow grease when tackling a tough cleaning job than harsh, smelly chemicals. I have yet to find an effective homemade dishwashing liquid, so I was thrilled when MomCentral offered me the opportunity to try a sample of Clorox Greenworks Dishwashing Liquid.

When I first heard of the Greenworks line of cleaning products, I was very skeptical. For one thing, Clorox has become synonymous with chlorine bleach, which green parents don’t usually touch with a ten foot pole! I had to wonder if Clorox was just jumping on the green bandwagon and trying to pass off less-than-green products as the real thing. However, after visiting the Greenworks website, many of my questions have been answered. I discovered that all Greenworks products are at least 99 percent natural, and that these products were in development for five years. They even delayed Greenworks’ original release date, so that the formulas could be further perfected! Also, this new dishwashing liquid has been approved by the Sierra Club and the EPA. What better endorsement could there be?

After learning these handy bits of information, I couldn’t wait to try the Greenworks dishwashing liquid. After all, now that my two-year-old daughter helps me wash dishes, I am more conscious than ever about what I put into my dish water. There’s no way I’m going to needlessly expose her to harsh chemicals! Another reason for my enthusiasm about this product is that I live in the country, with a septic system. My family drinks well water, so I have to think twice about every single thing that goes down my drain. I can’t afford to contaminate my family’s water source!

After trying Greenworks Dishwashing Liquid, I must say that I was extremely pleased! It creates just as many bubbles as every ultra-strength dish soap I’ve tried, without any harsh chemicals. It also smells wonderful. There’s no lingering, synthetic odor that most dish soaps leave behind. Greenworks dish soap has a pleasing aroma that I couldn’t get enough of! The best part is that this product is offered in five different scents: Original, Water Lily, Tangerine, Free & Clear, and Simply Lemon.

At first, this product sounded too good to be true. I mean, a natural dishwashing liquid that cleans as well as the chemical-soaked competition? It just couldn’t happen, right? WRONG! Greenworks Dishwashing Liquid works every bit as well as any dish soap out there. It kind of has me wondering exactly why all those other companies are still using harsh, synthetic ingredients! Look for it very soon in a store near you!

I am presenting this Things I Love Thursday post in connection with The Diaper Diaries. Check it out!

My hair is very hard to care for. It’s definitely not straight, but it’s not curly enough that I can pull off those messy ponytails that actually look good. My ponytails just look…messy. I have a HUGE problem with frizz, which becomes about 100 times worse in the summer. And since I had kids, my hair has never been the same. Maybe that’s because I have a lot less time and money to spend on my hair than I did pre-kids. Either way, I’m thrilled that MomCentral offered me the chance to test out several Suave hair care products, and also some wonderful summer hair care tips from celebrity hairstylist Luke O’Connor!

I have long felt that the Suave Professionals hair care line is amazing! You can’t beat the price, and they perform every bit as well as their super-expensive counterparts. Even with great products, though, if you don’t know what you’re doing with your hair, it’s not going to look as good as it could. That’s why Suave has teamed up with Luke O’Connor to spread the word about their fantastic, affordable products, and a summer hair care regimen that works wonders!

I LOVE Suave Professionals Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner! They claim to make hair five times smoother, and I have to agree wholeheartedly! After using these products and styling with Suave Professionals Extra Hold Mousse and Hairspray, my hair looked better than it had in years, and even though I used the blow-dryer, my hair was less frizzy than when I don’t use those products and let it dry naturally! After testing the Suave Professionals Hair Care line, I’m even more sold on Suave than I was before!

Help Your Hair Survive the Summer in Style with Tips & Tricks from Suave Celebrity Hairstylist Luke O’Connor:

Shine Through Summer

Chlorine from the pool can quickly turn hair dry and dull. Look for hair products specially-designed to infuse shine. Also, blow dry hair from roots to ends, making sure you do not ruffle your hair. By doing this, you’ll keep the cuticle of your hair lying flat, thus reflect more light, and producing more shine.

How to get the Shine: Suave Vibrant Shine Shampoo and Conditioner is formulated with silk amino acids to restore shine and luster to dull hair for bright, shimmering strands. Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

 

Don’t Let Your Hair Fall when Temps Rise!

Hot summer weather and humidity can cause your hair to lose its shape. Apply a little mousse to damp hair to add body and help control your style. For added fullness, flip your head over and blow dry the roots. When you flip your head upright, your hair will be at maximum volume.

 How to get the Shape: Suave Professionals Extra Hold Mousse helps to lock in style for all-day hold and is great for hair that needs body and control. Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

 

Hold That Look

Heat and humidity can be tough to battle, and here’s where the right hairspray comes to the rescue. To keep a soft, full, long lasting look, use an extra hold hairspray and keep the can 8-10 inches away from your head while spraying all over. This allows the fine mist of spray to penetrate the roots and hold the hair in place.

How to get the Hold: Suave Professionals Extra Hold Hairspray helps to lock in style for all-day hold and helps to control fly-aways. Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

 

Make Summer Styling Smooth Sailing

Frizzies and fly-aways suddenly appear during the summer months with humidity at an all-time high. Achieving frizz-free hair starts in the shower with a shampoo and conditioner specially formulated to fight frizz. When blow drying hair, again be sure to blow dry from roots to ends to smooth the cuticle.

How to get rid of Frizz: Suave Professionals Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner moisturizes and smoothes curly, frizzy or dry hair leaving it looking salon-smooth and healthy. Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

 

Fight the Fade

Have color-treated hair? Lock in your color and keep hair healthy during the summer by protecting your hair with products designed to fight the elements, such as color-protecting shampoos, waterproof gels, and UV protectors.

How to fight the Fade: Suave Professionals Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner has a gentle formula that nourishes and defends hair against harsh environmental elements and helps protect color from fading. Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

 

 
 
 
 

 

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