Equality & First Aid: Let’s Talk Choking Emergencies!

This past Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving, one of the most beloved American holidays.  It happens to be also my favorite holiday, a time to cook to my heart’s content and to get together with family and friends to share wonderful dishes together.  This year however, because of the tireless work of Equal First Aid, I became painfully aware of the need to emphasize the fact that people with disabilities, in particular those who use a wheelchair, don’t have easy access to first aid if they are choking.

This year, I couldn’t avoid thinking about all those instances when a wonderful family occasion, whether it’s Thanksgiving or any other get-together, could result in unforeseen consequences.  This is particularly true for people in wheelchairs.  It is for this reason that the organization Equal First Aid is advocating for first aid that addresses this situation.  Choking is one of those emergency situations that not only requires training, but also necessitates certain positioning that would be nearly impossible to accomplish in a few seconds if the choking victim is in a wheelchair.  The Heimlich maneuver is not as easy as it may seem for some people given certain personal circumstances,  or for people in wheelchairs, in the case of a choking emergency.

A few weeks ago, when I had the pleasure of meeting with the people of Equal First Aid, we discussed what can be done in our immediate community to change this reality and make sure that everyone has access to lifesaving measures.  I thought that by contacting people that I knew and worked with, who wholeheartedly believe in equal opportunities for all, and making them aware of this situation, it would be easy to get this rectified.

To my surprise, I found that people are either not interested or skeptical about changing the status quo.  I am not sure why, but it looks as if first aid is not a priority in people’s minds.  Perhaps it’s the kind of issue that nobody wants to think about because there are no easy answers, and it is just too painful.  But it doesn’t have to be!

LifeVac has been producing airway clearing devices for a few years now.  They are providing the answers to the tough questions we all must answer regarding equality in first aid.  Airway clearing devices are very simple to use and work for EVERYONE, including those of us who have difficult applying and receiving the Heimlich maneuver.  Anyone who has every operated a plunger can operate this device.

Do you want to see this device in action?  Check out this video here of this family who experienced a choking emergency with their baby at a restaurant.  I promise it will make you think twice about first aid. Do you want to know more about Equal First Aid and their mission?  Check them out here.  Do you want to have this difficult conversation about something we should all make a priority?  Check out the LifeVac device right here.

Give the gift of life this holiday season!  Give yourself peace of mind!

Therapists needed!

Are you an early childhood special education teacher?  A speech/language pathologist?  Are you an occupational therapist?  A physical therapist?  Are you interested in working with young children?  If so, I would like to invite you to try the field of early intervention.  I have been working with the early intervention program in New York State for about 20 years now, and it has been nothing short of fulfilling and amazing. 

What is the early intervention program?  Special education law (PL 94-142) provides for services for young children, from birth until 3 years of age, and their families, in Part C of the law.  Parents refer their children to the program if they feel that they are lagging behind in their expected milestones.  Children get evaluated based on those areas of concern.  When the evaluations are completed, if the child qualifies for early intervention services based on the results of the evaluation, a meeting with the early intervention agency and the family will take place, and they will agree on a plan of action to work on.

This plan is very family-centered and it takes into account the fact that the child’s life really centers around the family.  It also takes into account what the family needs so that the skills the child learns while in therapy are carried over to activities in the home.  After all, the hallmark of learning is being able to transfer knowledge and skills from one activity to another.

(Learn more about the early intervention program)

If you live in New York, like me, and you are interested in working as a therapist for the early intervention program you should be aware that most cases (and all cases in you live in New York City) get assigned to you with the help of an agency.  The agency has access to all the cases that need to be assigned to a therapist and their job is to try to bring services to the family as soon as services are approved.  Sometimes, cases can even be assigned really early in the process, so once they are approved, the family does not have to wait to receive services.  It is a win-win situation for all parties involved!

In my years working as a special instructor for the early intervention program, I have worked with different agencies but the one that always stood out not only because of the services they provide but also because they understand their most important asset is the therapists that work with the families, is KinderKare.  I truly recommend them (and I have sent a few therapists their way) for anyone that is seeking a career in early intervention.  You make your own schedule and you decide your own hours!

If you are interested in working with Kinderkare, you can find their information here.  You can always contact me if you have any questions!

Best of luck in your professional pursuits!

A Summer of Happiness (And Messes!)

This is a sponsored post. Opinions expressed in this post are my own.

What a summer it has been!  For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it has been a time to finally enjoy the weather and the company of other people.  After having spent so many months limited by the activities we were able to do, because of weather and because of the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us started to return to some type of “normal” and it felt good!

For me, it was an eventful summer.  I can happily report that after spending almost 20 months apart, I was finally able to see my mother and brother.  They had been unable to travel because of my brother’s inability to wear a mask.  But all of that changed thanks to a very dedicated therapist who after a few months was able to help him tolerate its use (more on this later).  By the spring we were pretty confident that he would be able to wear a mask and travel back to the United States along with my mother!

Enjoying an afternoon outdoors with my mom, my brother Fernando, and his therapist, Silvina.

Having them around has been a dream come true.  But having more people in the house means having more to clean!  As you may know by now, I am not worried when it comes to cleaning and washing.  This is because I have found products that I trust . These products help keep my clothes clean, get rid of pesky stains, and are not loaded with harsh chemicals. I’m talking about my go-to Biz and KidsNPets have the enzyme cleaning power that makes my clothes cleaner and brighter without the harshness of chemicals.

I hosted a few parties in the past few weeks, and I had to deal with quite a few grass, wine, and food stains.  Biz is the product I went to when dealing with these messes.  The enzymes built in this product help fight tougher stains and keeps my clothes nice and bright. It is easier to let your family enjoy the weather outside when you have products you can trust. I could not have done it without the help of these products. It was a busy summer!

Did you go to any parties this summer?  Did you have to deal with pesky stains?  I can’t think of any instance when I didn’t have to fight any stains myself.  Biz and KidsNPets always came to the rescue to make sure that clothes would look clean no matter how tough the stain was.

Give them a try!

Are You in a Toxic Work Environment? 5 Signs To Look For.

You are probably exhausted.  You are tired of the constant criticism and sometimes feel like crying when you get home from work.  You have a knot in your stomach every time the train approaches the station for work.  Are you in a toxic work environment?

Chances are, if you are experiencing any of the situations above, you probably are.  In fact, once you start feeling that way, you are most likely already experiencing some of the first signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Learn to recognize the signs of a toxic work environment so that you can plan your exit if you have to.

What are the signs to look for?

  1. Your boss gives you “busy-work” that does not advance an agenda:  One way that bullies exert their influence over their targets is by assigning work of no consequence.  For example, I worked with an employee who was being told that since her grammar was not “up to par,” (neither was her boss’ grammar), she needed to prove, every day, how she would improve her grammar, by reading, training, going to classes.  The employee’s grammar was just fine, but the boss was trying to put her down and assign her something that would not advance her agenda.  The employee was so humiliated by this and other acts that ended up leaving in the end.
  2. Your boss is overly critical.  Does your boss criticize you for small, insignificant things?  I worked with an employee whose boss criticized her for wearing a shirt that was “too big” or “too red.”  I also worked with someone whose boss criticized her for being “too sweet,” (she worked with families and children).  Their bosses sought any excuse to criticize them in order to make them uncomfortable and anxious, not because there was any reason to criticize them at all.
  3. You constantly feel like you are walking on eggshells.  You don’t know what to do as the rules keep changing. You see that certain rules apply to you but they don’t apply to your coworkers.  And there are rules that apply sometimes, and other rules that apply at other times.  You are surrounded by uncertainty, and even though uncertainty is part of life, it is completely maximized at your workplace in order to increase the anxiety levels. 
  4. Rules don’t apply to everyone the same.  Technically, rules should apply to every employee fairly.  In toxic work environments, some rules apply to some employees and not others.  I worked with an employee who had to submit every decision to her boss, who decided whether she could go ahead and implement her decision, or not.  This happened while others in the same position did not have to go through the same procedures. 
  5. You are constantly being accused of “subpar” work.  And this will happen even when you are submitting quality work that gets dismissed, and while other people submit questionable work that gets accepted.  I once sat at a meeting where a boss questioned every single one of the teams’ accomplishments, making fun of the members of the team, and saying that she did not believe that they could have accomplished the goals.  Every single one of the members of that team resigned in protest.

I went through this experience myself.  I experienced it firsthand.  My boss started bullying me precisely when our project was starting to gain recognition and showed the first few signs of success.  It was precisely this success that led to myself and my team to be the targets of a boss that only cared about her own standing in the organization. 

If you have identified some of the signs above in your own work situation, you are probably in a toxic workplace.  Do you want to know more about my experience and how I was able to get out of it?  Do you need help identifying the situation and need help planning the exit?  Follow my plan here.

Best of luck!

Life’s Stains and Odors: Biz

This is a sponsored post. As always, opinions are my own.

It is almost July and summer is here!  It seems that this summer (2021) people are really looking to get out and do all the things that they were not able to do a year ago, at the height of the Covid -19 pandemic.  I know for myself, my family, and mostly everyone I know, it was a summer when we basically all stayed home. 

This year, we are starting to travel again, and I am not an exception.  Tomorrow (yes, tomorrow!), my husband and I leave for California, to see family that we have not seen for over a year.  It is such a treat!  But with travelling comes packing, and with packing comes the realization that some of the clothes that we were waiting to have an occasion to wear for so long have stains (and perhaps odors) that we need to get rid of, and fast.

Getting ready to travel!

This year I started using enzyme cleaners and washes for my clothes and items that I care about.  There is nothing better to do the job than an enzyme cleaner.  Enzyme cleaners are natural and do not contain all those harsh chemicals that you typically find in other washes.  This time around, as I was doing cleaning (and a lot of it) to prepare for my upcoming trip, and also to prepare to receive guests in my house, I came across clothes that had been put away a little bit too long, needed a serious wash, and some of them (like the shirt below), that were bordering on the yellow.

Rather than wash them these clothes over and over again or subject them to harsh chemicals, I used Biz Powder to treat them, and voila!  Clothes look and smell clean!

I saved this lovely shirt!

If you are looking for a better way to wash, that will work with nature rather than against it, choose the one without the harsh chemicals.  Biz (I used Biz Powder, but there are other products) is an excellent way to make sure that your detergent does it job by adding enzymes that treat all those pesky stains and combat odors to boot.

If you are a busy mom or dad and are looking to counteract all those messy messes that your children leave behind, then this is the cleaner for you.  Go get one and try it!  Let me know how you liked it!

Happy washing!

The OxiClean Stain Pen

This is a sponsored post. As always, opinions are my own.

One of my fears when I go out to work for the day is that I will have a huge stain on my clothes that I won’t be able to remove.  Trust me, it has happened to me on more than one occasion. As a busy children’s therapist, I tend to eat in my car, in a tiny space, sometimes munching on something while I’m driving.

I typically hear the same complaint when I visit a home.  Many moms and dads spend a lot of time doing laundry, washing their little one’s clothes only to wash them over and over again.  And even though children, especially toddlers, can get into big messes, sometimes parents end up washing clothes just for a little stain! 

Does this ever happen to you?  It happens to me a lot.  I can’t tolerate “little” stains on my clothes, and they usually end up in the laundry, even after having been worn a couple of hours.  I have tried other stain pens and sticks before, even from reputable brands, but I have to say the OxiClean Stain Pen really did the trick for me when we went to Boston.  It was a short trip and I only brought one pair of jeans.  I love this pair of pants because they are super comfortable and fit me exactly right.

Was I surprised when I took off my pants after a restaurant visit and saw a stain there!  I was planning to wear them the next day, as they are so comfortable, and we had an entire day planned, touring and visiting various sites in the city of Boston.  I didn’t want to wear anything formal but I didn’t want to wear yoga pants either.  This pair of jeans was perfect. 

Luckily, I had my OxiClean Stain Pen!  I used it to remove the stain (I basically saw it disappear in front of my eyes) and let it dry.  This was late at night and by the morning my pants were absolutely clean.  The stain was gone!

The OxiClean Stain Pen is always in my purse!

Today, I carry my OxiClean Stain Pen in my bag every day.  It is one more tool that helps me keep my clothes clean while on the go.  Are you a busy mom?  Are you usually on the go?  I recommend the OxiClean Stain Pen for you today!

Arm & Hammer Fruit and Vegetable Wash: Review

This is a sponsored post. Opinions, as always, are my own.

Is it just me or does it feel like “not enough” when you wash your vegetables?  I typically let water run on them, make sure that I check for any places where any dirt can hide, let them dry, pat them dry, cook them thoroughly to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.

But if the past year taught us anything is that we can’t be too careful when it comes to washing surfaces, which many times includes food.  A few years ago, I worked with someone who was extremely sick from eating vegetables without properly washing them.  He was in the hospital for a few days until the doctors could figure out what was wrong with him.  It turns out, he got sick from bacteria which, they thought, could have come from not properly washing food.

This was a few years ago, long before the age of Covid, and this situation helped me realize how important it is to keep our fruits and veggies clean.  I wash even those packages that claim “pre-washed” or “ready to eat.”  The issue here is not the washing, but what do we wash with?  I would typically just use water, as I said before, let the water run and do what it’s supposed to do.  But is this enough?

Enter Arm & Hammer Fruit and Vegetable Wash:  This is how your vegetables and fruits get washed properly.  I would not use anything but water on my food as I do not want to contaminate my food with harmful chemicals.  The Arm & Hammer Fruit and Vegetable Wash contains natural products that help eliminate pesticides, wax, and the pesky dirt that lives in your vegetables.

With this product, you can see the difference as soon as you wash your fruits and vegetables.  It is really that simple.  What about the taste?  You may ask.  I can assure you there is no taste residue.  Your fruits and vegetables will taste perfectly fine, better even, once you are done cleaning them with the Arm & Hammer Fruit & Vegetable Wash.

If you are looking to upgrade your washing technique when it comes to your produce, then you have to try this product.  It will put your mind at ease, making sure that you and your family, especially your little ones, are safe from unwanted pesticides and other chemicals.

Happy Washing!

Fresh-Smelling Kitchen: Arm & Hammer

This is a sponsored post.

My work with families and children takes me to every one of my children’s homes, and even though I’m there for play therapy, I typically get very practical questions like how to clean children’s messes, or how to cook vegetables so that children find them appealing, or how to make the house smell better.  Young children tend to be quite messy and leave a trail of not-so-pleasant odors sometimes. 

Because of this, I am always on the quest for cleaning products as well as for products that make the house smell clean and pleasant.  I have tried many different things which I’ve shared with my families, and conversely, there are many products that they share with me whenever they find something that they like and is effective.

I have traded information on candles, incense, and now, the Arm & Hammer Garbage Disposal Cleaners which help keep your kitchen smelling fresh.  If you follow the instructions (run disposal and water for a minute, then turn off disposal and run water on a slow stream, then drop capsule into disposal and turn on for a few seconds), then you will have a fresh-smelling kitchen whose freshness will last for days. I know: We tried this in our own kitchen!

I really like getting home and being greeted by the citrus smell stemming from the kitchen.  Nobody likes getting home to unpleasant smells (right?).  My husband knows this and always prepares the house before I arrive so that it always smells pleasant.  One day, as I am approaching the kitchen, I noticed the citrus smell.  I knew that it was coming from the kitchen, but I couldn’t really tell from where exactly it was coming from.  As it turns out, he had used the Arm & Hammer Garbage Disposal Cleaners in the disposal.

What I noticed using this product was that the citrus smell that I really like stays in the air for a few minutes, but the unpleasant smells from the garbage disposal disappear for days, even weeks!  I has been a while since we started using the Arm & Hammer Garbage Disposal Cleaner balls and the bad smells have not returned!

Bottom line:  For busy moms and dads who are struggling with the day to day activities of taking care of their children, cooking, cleaning, AND keeping their homes smelling fresh, this is a simple and easy product, easy to use, that can save you lots of time around the kitchen. 

Next time you get home, and you are greeted by the fresh citrus smell from this Arm & Hammer product, you will thank me!

Boston & Salem: Accessible Travel


I must admit that I am a fan of Boston.  I have loved American history since my school days (in Argentina!) and find it fascinating that I get to relive parts of it when I visit Boston.  Plus, who wouldn’t like such a vibrant, historic and progressive American city?  Now that states have begun to open up (and with Covid rates really low and vaccination rates high in Massachusetts), you could see tourists everywhere in Boston.  We were part of them.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is a unique city as it tries to blend the old and the new.  It is here that we found it quite challenging to recommend navigating the city without a guide or someone who could point to all the “new roads” if you or your loved one has difficulty with motor skills.  There were certain areas that needed to remain untouched for historical reasons, and some of them were extremely difficult to navigate for those of us without physical disabilities.  They would be impossible to navigate for those who have motor difficulties.

If you are interested in travelling to Boston, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy the historical sites, wonderful views of the Back Bay, and wonderful heritage of food.  Make sure that you have someone with you who can test the area and most of all, avoid the “old” area of town.  Stick to the new construction, which is all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, and you should be able to absorb the beauty of this wonderful city.

The Public Gardens

Boston is a bustling city that is still a little quiet due to Covid, but could become quite crowded in the summer months.  If you or your loved one can become easily overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the city, Boston offers a lot of different spots that can serve as oasis.  Those are some of the hidden parks, squares, and lots of restaurants and cafes that can offer you a moment to unwind, relax, and enjoy your surroundings little by little.  Make sure you include them in your itinerary and you should be able to avoid the noise of the crowds.


Salem, Massachusetts

Salem is about a 45-minute drive from Boston, and a must-see if you like quirky, fun cities, that have something unique to offer.  We had a wonderful meal at Gulu Gulu café (lots of vegetarian and vegan options!), walked the pedestrian walkway, had hot chocolate at Kakawa Chocolate House, a must-visit if you love hot chocolate, and spent about 30 minutes doing the Witch Hunt Museum tour.

Gulu Gulu Cafe

Salem is an accessible city, with plenty of opportunities for people with limited mobility and motor difficulties to navigate and not have to miss a beat.  There is a lot of sensory stimulation around, from the colors, noises (music, cars, people, etc.), and the ambiance.  But there are lots of places to stop and relax.  If you have limited mobility, are easily scared, or have sensory issues, then perhaps skip then With Hunt Tour and walk the pedestrian walkway.  There are plenty of places to stop and take a few minutes to unwind.

Salem, Massachusetts

The Bottom Line

Visit Boston!  Visit Salem!  They are both fun and vibrant cities that are longing for tourists to return!  Just remember our advice:  Stay within the new sections in Boston, and if you want to visit the oldest and more historic areas, go with someone that can point the alternative routes.  Keep in mind that you may need to find a park or restaurant to sit down and have a bite to unwind.  You may have to do the same if you visit Salem, with fewer physical barriers if ambulating the city.  Most of all, enjoy yourself and have fun!

Accessible Travel: Encore Boston Harbor

General impression

If you are thinking of visiting the Boston area, and you don’t mind staying at a hotel that is not located specifically in the downtown area of Boston, then the Encore Boston Harbor is a good choice. The Encore is a spacious, luxurious hotel, located just on the outside of most of Boston’s attractions, about a 15-to-20-minute drive if you are stuck in traffic, but potentially less.  During our stay, we did not mind giving up the central location for a roomier, more luxurious, comfortable stay.  This hotel is a five-star hotel in terms of what it has to offer. 

Hotel Lobby

Health and Safety Standards

During our stay, we observed a top-notch staff that took care if the smallest details.  The hotel lobby was shining bright, the restroom facilities were constantly being cleaned, and the restaurants and stores did not have a spec of dust in them.  Our rooms were no different.  They were cleaned with the utmost care every time.  I noticed that if there was a tiny stain on a mirror, it was gone by the time we came back.  The room smelled clean and felt luxurious every single day.

Bottom line on cleanliness:  Cleanliness standards are clearly high in this hotel.


Here is where I would say the hotel lacked in terms of what we as a team needed to accomplish to be able to give you a thorough in-depth coverage of what a family of a person with disabilities or a person with disabilities would need to know in terms of staying at this hotel.  We emailed the hotels press room many times, prior to our arrival and once we arrived, we informed the check-in desk we were bloggers in need of guidance.  We were told that we would hear from them shortly, but never did.  This is not a sponsored or affiliate post, and everything that we were able to see was on our own. 

Bottom line on responsiveness:  We would have liked the hotel management to be able to explain possible accommodations and adaptations that they could provide to our community, and hope that this article helps provide them with an understanding of how important this is for all of us.

Hotel Restaurants

We did not have the opportunity to visit every restaurant in the hotel, but of special mention here are Cheese Meet Wine and Rare Steakhouse.  The service was absolutely excellent, as they accommodated our dietary needs, and they also had accommodations for those individuals that may need to use a wheelchair for access.  These two restaurants are located outside of the casino and are shielded from the noise and the overstimulation of the colorful casino environment.  Both Cheese Meet Wine and Rare Steakhouse provide for a more soothing ambiance, and a rest from the noise.  Special mention to Rare Steakhouse:  I am a vegetarian and they provided me with the most delicious vegetarian meals and wine pairings.

Dinner at Rare Steakhouse

Bottom line on restaurants:  Stick to the restaurants outside of the casino for a more comfortable, quieter scene.

Dinner at Cheese Meet Wine


Luxury is the key word here.  You cannot describe the Encore without describing the spacious rooms, comfortable beds, spacious bathrooms, and great amenities in each room.  However, in terms of accessibility, and during our stay, we were not given an accessible room.  To be specific, we are describing accessibility here as the ability of a wheelchair to access a toilet seat, and the ability of a wheelchair user to access the height of the bed as well as other amenities in the room.  The room did have accessible features such as an iPad to access television controls, request help, or order room service.

We did not book an accessible room because we believe in leaving those rooms for people who really need them. But we did contact the hotel, weeks in advance, as we mentioned earlier, and reminded them as time drew near, of our impending visit.  We wanted to be guided through the accessible accommodations to give them a fair review on our blog and be as informative as possible.  We also reminded them on our arrival that we were here to blog and write about this space and wanted to talk to someone that could provide with guidance.  They took our information at the desk, but we were never contacted regarding this.

For those visitors with sensory issues, the rooms offered pale colors and a variety of adjustments that could make your life easier.  I found that the room colors were quite comforting to the eye, the noise level was music to my ears, and the ability to adjust lighting, television orientation, and places to sit in comfort enhanced my visit and made it very easy to adjust to the hustle and bustle of the Boston area.

Room with a View at Encore Boston Harbor

Bottom line on accommodations:  We can only write a review based on our room, which was not specified as accessible.  It did have some accessible features.  For example, it was very spacious, had a comfortable couch to sit and a forward -facing television that could change orientation as it was bracketed to the wall.  The room controls were operated by an iPad, so one did not have to move from wherever we were in order to change any setting in the room.  Once could order in-room dining as well as control the television settings right from this iPad. 

Our View at the Encore Boston Harbor


Again, you could not accuse the Encore Boston Harbor of not being luxurious.  The exquisite, manicured garden, the sculptures, and the attention to detail are just one of a kind.  The outdoor space also has wheelchair accessible ramps that allowed wheelchair users to access the lush gardens outdoors.  A note for those guests with sensory issues:  Although the sculptures and flowers may be pleasing to many guests, they may overwhelm children or even adults who are easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli. 

Bottom line on outdoor garden:  Proceed cautiously if easily overwhelmed but do venture out if you can and absorb the scenery.

Outdoor gardens

Bottom line on the Encore Boston Harbor:  We had a wonderful, luxurious, comfortable stay.  We wished we could have had a much better view of the accessibility of the place, but we hope that next time we visit we are able to connect with the management ahead of time.  We also noticed the physical accommodations present at the hotel, in general, but also noticed how difficult it would be for someone with sensory issues (for example, someone with ASD), to navigate the highly stimulating environment.

Stay tuned for more on our visit to Boston, Massachusetts!