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One of the perks of blogging that I never anticipated is the occasional opportunity to review products.   Although I am getting these products for free, I’ll give you the straight scoop on them.  If I like them, I’ll say so.  If not, you’ll know that too. And I’ll say right up front that affordabilty is an important issue to me. Today I have 3 products to talk about.  (And, oh, I’m even giving out owls!!)

1.  First is a spray called Clorox® : Clorox® Anywhere.  This morning I used it to clean my counters, my sink, my kitchen window and my appliances. I liked that I could use it for anything, even my stainless appliances.  (Supposedly you can even use it to clean bottles, but that idea wigs me out a little. Chemicals in a baby’s bottle?  Ew!)  It is very mild-feeling, almost like water, but did a good job cutting grease and shining windows.  It did not get my porcelain sink as clean as my beloved ‘Barkeeper’s Friend.’  But otherwise it did well.   I am not sure if I would buy it again, but for a person who really wants a go-anywhere cleaner, this seems like a good option. I’m giving this product a 3 owl rating.

2.  The second product is Yoplait – Products – Whips.  I actually had my college-student daughter try these out for me. She said they were tasty.  But she didn’t feel they were a very good value for the money.  Not only is the serving size a little smaller (4 oz instead of 6, I think) there is also a lot of air whipped into the yogurt (I don’t know why this surprised me– it says ‘whips’ right in the name!)  So that means you’re getting less food for your money.  Unless I had a really good coupon, I probably would not buy this product.  I’m giving this product one owl.

3.  The final product for today is a game called  Career Expedition.   I was so pleased that Kelly from Pass The Torch  sent this one for me to review!  As a homeschool mom, I also play the role of guidance counselor, and a big concern of mine is helping kids along a viable career path. So I appreciate any help I can get in this.

 The other evening I sat down with 7 of my 8 kids and played this.  As could be expected, the 1 and 4 year olds were too young to get much out of it, though the 4 year old enjoyed counting tokens and rolling the dice.  Also playing were two 8 yr olds, and a 12, 14, and 18 year old.  

The goal of the game is to get the chance to fill in all the sections of a little worksheet that helps you discover your likes and dislikes.  You do this by answering questions about your likes and strengths, and by drawing ‘Navigation’ cards that demonstrate how various decisions can set you back or move you forward in the game of life.

All of the kids were immediately engaged in a thoughtful way with the questions.  We had to paraphrase and explain some of the terms to the 8 year olds, but even they were able to state their preferences, for example, regarding whether they’d like to live in a big city as adults, whether they’d like to travel a lot, and if they’d like to do indoor or outdoor work.

The game took us 45 minutes or so to complete, and afterwards all the teenagers were looking at their sheets in an appraising way, trying to ‘read’ what these answers might mean for their future.  Several even carried their paper away with them, to ponder further.  

One thing that my 18 year old wished for was actual lists of careers included with the game, so that you could look at your responses and then read about some possible career choices to match those preferences.  I agreed.  Info like that would really make the game more meaningful and complete.

But overall the game was worthwhile. I liked the discussion it generated. And it was a good chance to really listen to my children talk about their likes and dislikes.  Though this game was created to be used in a school setting, I think it would also be good for homeschooling families like mine, where lots of kids could benefit from the insight.

Kelly is offering a 50% discount to my readers who mention they saw the game here and buy the game during the month of October.  What a deal, eh?  Taking into consideration the discount, I am giving this game 4.5 owls. So click on over and check it out.

Here concludes this way-too-long post.

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…why you should always investigate when a kid gets way too quiet
Thankfully it was only a small bottle of lotion. And, boy, did she smell yummy for the rest of the day!

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Now that we’ve got my 4 year old’s room all Pretty in Pink, my two 8 year olds have been hounding me to do something about theirs. They have some blue ‘gingham’ checked paint and a train wallpaper border that’s been up since they were babies and is now looking a little tired. Translation: they’ve peeled away great chunks with clever bored fingers at bedtime. (The moral of the story : NEVER put a wallpaper border in a kid’s room where he/she can reach it! ) The cute train quilts also have given up after years of washing and are trailing stuffing out their ripped edges.

Time for a redo.

My starting point is this cute reversible bed-in-a-bag set for their bunk beds. I’m going to paint the walls green, probably darker camo green below and light camo green above an orange stripe like the one shown in the picture. And since their request was for a Star Wars room, we checked out allposters.com and found some fun 8×10 Star Wars posters that we are going to mat and frame. (no more curling posters for me!)

I’m going to make them new curtains out of one of the dust ruffles that came in the bed-in-the bag, since the upper bunk of the bed doesn’t need a dust ruffle. It will all probably take me a week or two, since I haven’t even bought the paint yet. But I’ll show you the finished project when I get it done.

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Works For Me

Playing Works For Me Wednesday with Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer again. This week’s idea is a simple thing. For the longest time I have hated my colanders. It seemed they were always either tipping over, letting all the spaghetti slop into the sink. Or I would have that dreaded drain backup problem– you know, when the disposal hasn’t been run and the water backs up into the sink….and into your pasta. Yech…. (Please tell me it’s not only me who has this problem!)

Anyway, I finally got fed up a few months ago and went on a colander hunt. I found this beauty for $15 at Walmart. The colander is huge–a plus for my family! It is suspended at the top edge of the sink with sturdy arms. The arms are adjustable to fit varying sizes of sinks, and the whole thing is very stable. You don’t even have to totally empty the sink of dishes because it sits so high. Works for me!!

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After many months of waiting, my friend Anne finally got baby news– Adoption Journal: the most joyful news! Go help congratulate her!

Also, the 2006 Blogs of Beauty Awards – Nominees and Finalists list came out today. Though I’m not a finalist, I was so honored to see I’d been nominated in 4 categories. Thanks, y’all! Go check out the finalists!

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On Saturday I asked for ideas to celebrate my anniversary. You all shared lots of fun ideas, but I am giving the Golden Keyboard to Brianna this week for the sheer humor of her response. Now that’s what NOT to do! Thanks for sharing, Brianna!

And in more contest news, today I launched a contest over on my Ethiopia Adoption Blog for adoptive parents. Go check it out– there’s a prize and everything! Spread the word– the more the merrier!

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Garden in July

Our garden has been growing like crazy since I showed it to you 5 weeks ago. You should be able to click on any of these pictures to enlarge them. The first one shows most of the garden. Left to right, we have corn, tomatoes, cukes (on wire) pumpkins, peppers, and cabbage. In the background you can see more corn. Our orchard is on the far right. Next we have grapes and cabbage. My daughters are standing next to the corn to show you how tall it has grown. You can see it is starting to tassel.

The yellow flowers are squash blossoms on a volunteer squash that decided to come up in the raspberry patch, 40 feet from the actual garden. We decided to let it do its thing, and it will probably give us our first squash of the season. My daughter is standing alongside the tomatoes– we have lots of green ones, but not a speck of red yet..
I pointed out the apples to the one year old, who promptly picked one and started gnawing on it– very, very green still, of course. And here are some of the raspberries. I made raspberry apricot jam this afternoon that I would show you if I wasn’t so tired of uploading pictures at the moment!

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On March 31, 2006 the Department of Defense announced the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Tech. Sgt. Walter M. Moss Jr., 37, of Houston, Texas, was killed in the explosion of an improvised explosive device while conducting safing operations in the vicinity of Baghdad, Iraq on March 29.
As an American citizen I thank you, Tech. Sgt. Walter M. Moss Jr, for your courage and your sacrifice. I thank your family for all they have given for the cause of freedom. We are forever in your debt.

If you would like to leave a message for his family, please visit his Guest Book – Tech Sgt. Walter M. Moss. If you would like to remember a fallen soldier on your website, please visit some-gave-all.com

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Don’t miss…

…the Carnival of blogging chicks today!

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Q-Tips, maybe?

The other day the 4 year old was singing a song she made up. The 18 year old was amused and asked her about it.

The 4 year old explained: “I just had that song stuck in my ear.”

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