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!

Best Disinfectant Wipes

This is a sponsored post. Ideas and opinions are my own.

Now that we are in March and we are all excited for spring, there are a few things that we need to keep in mind.  We may be safely starting to host more people in our homes, having more play dates, and participate in more adult activities. Because many of us are still dealing with safety concerns and perhaps worried about disease transmission, it is a good idea to talk about disinfecting surfaces and doing it in a way that is not harmful to ourselves and those around us.

With this in mind, I decided to try Arm & Hammer Essentials Disinfecting Wipes.  Why these wipes in particular?  I really like to use cleaning products that either eliminate odors or smell good, but don’t act as a “cover” for bad odors.  I’m looking for a stronger odor-eliminating system.  I also prefer products that don’t contain harmful chemicals as I use them on surfaces that are touched by little hands and little pets.

I also prefer to use wipes because sometimes I carry items in my car that may need to be disinfected.  The wipes allow me to quickly and thoroughly wipe those surfaces and gives me peace of mind.  I love how easy it is to pull the wipes out of he container and how the shape of the container makes it easier to store.  When I’m on the go (and I’m normally on the go!), the best product is not only the high-quality one but also the product that is user-friendly.  With the Arm & Hammer Disinfecting Essential Wipes I’m covered on both fronts.

In terms of the particular fragrances, I really like both, Renewing Rain and Lemon Orchard.  They both have a citrus base scent even though the Lemon Orchard is much stronger.  I typically like “lemon” scents in my kitchen so using these two products in my kitchen (in particular the Lemon Orchard) has been a no-brainer.  I remember the day we started using these wipes:  As I was walking in the door from work, I could smell the citrus scent as I soon as I walked in the door, coming from the kitchen.  What a wonderful way to be welcomed in my own home!

But of course, you are not limited to your kitchen!  I use them to clean toys so that they are disinfected and cleaned in between uses, and to disinfect other surfaces, likes knobs and handles.  You can keep them in your car (as I do) or in your purse for when the need arises.  And if you clean your car with it, it will smell incredible when you return to it!

I definitely recommend Arm & Hammer Disinfecting Essential Wipes for your every day, quick fix up messes and for your everyday disinfecting needs!

Happy Cleaning!

Time for Spring Cleaning!

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

It’s been a long winter!  Personally, I cannot wait for the sunny days ahead, while I enjoy the sunny days we get here in New York in March.  March in New York is a mix of sunny and cloudy/rainy days, warm days and cooler days, and some other days that are downright cold.  But every year, when March comes around, the warm and cool mix reminds me of the task ahead:  Spring cleaning!

Typically, I wouldn’t get excited just because I need to do some cleaning. But there is nothing I love more than to take out my blouses, my dresses, my shirts, and short-sleeve t-shirts.  But of course, since I work with very young children and have pets at home, there isn’t a time when I check them out and I find them to be stain-free.  There is always a pesky stain here or there that makes my washing a bit more challenging.

As I mentioned previously (see my previous post here), I’m always on the lookout for good cleaning techniques and cleaning products because when I work with my little ones, sometimes things get messy.  I also love to recommend good products to parents!  Enter Biz and Kids ‘N’ Pets.  These enzyme-based cleaners make life a lot easier!

Why?  You may ask.  Although these products are designed to remove a variety of household stains, my problem usually lies in removing markers and different types of paint (did I mention I work with little kids?).  I also do occasionally need help removing grease and oil stains (I love cooking!), and food.  These issues can be compounded when you happen to miss a stain and leave it aside for a long time, as it happens to me sometimes.

Enzyme-based cleaners are not harsh or harmful to the environment.  They are an excellent choice if you want to use natural products and not use strong chemicals in your everyday wash.  In my case, I pre-treated shirts with Kids ‘n’ Pets Stain and Odor remover spray, and it helped me tremendously.  You can also use the liquid to boost your laundry detergent, to treat your smelly clothes before you put them in the washing machine, and to deodorize.

If you have little furry children, like I do (both dog and cat), you may want to use the spray to remove the odors from blankets or kitty litter.  I usually smell them more as the weather gets warmer, so having a spray bottle of the Kids ‘n’ Pets stain and odor remover is a great solution.

And don’t forget to check out the Biz Stain and Odor Eliminator for your wash.  If you have any clothes that look like they need a second wash, or whites that are far from whites, or any other stain or odor issue, give this enzyme-based product a try.  You will not regret it.

For more information about these products, check out their website, here for Biz products and here for Kids ‘n’ Pets. See their information about enzyme-based cleaning, and then try them for yourself. I started using them and I haven’t stopped. 

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Butterflies and Second Chances by Annette Hines: A book review

I recently read Butterflies and Second Chances, a memoir written by Annette Hines.  Annette wears many hats (wife, daughter, lawyer), but she writes this memoir as a mother of a child with a disability.  In a way, this is also a memoir for her daughter Elizabeth.  As I read Annette’s book, I was drafting my own memoir, and I could not help but notice how many parallels there are between her story and mine.  This holds true even though we had different roles in our families (she is a parent; I am a sibling), and we were separated by many years and miles in between.

Even though I noted some differences in stories, what stood out the most was the incredible similarities.  Annette evolved from being an “outsider” with little knowledge of what it meant to be part of the community of parents, family members, and people with disabilities, to being on the “inside.” She narrates with so much emotional depth how she became an insider after her daughter Elizabeth was born and medical issues began to surface.

Much like Annette, I evolved too, although my own evolution came much earlier in my life, as my brother was born when I was 7 years old.  I also became an insider little by little, learning more and more through the years, and adding my voice to the fight for equality when I became an adult.  Just like Annette, I remember the constant looking for answers.  My parents always had questions that mostly remained unanswered.

And much like Annette’s second daughter, Caroline, I felt like I was the “do-over” kid, even though I was born first.  In my case, I felt the pressure to be the “perfect daughter” all by myself, and I made sure that I would not give my parents the smallest headache.  I assumed that they needed a perfect daughter, an overachiever, a workaholic.  My long periods of perfection were accompanied by some periods of rebellion, which in retrospect were just a cry for help and my own way to show human needs.

Annette and I are also remarkably similar in our choice of loving partners.  We both married men who have supported us and provided the scaffold we needed in times of need.  In her memoir, Annette recounts how her husband stuck with her through thick and very, very thin.  I recently heard her say that she would “walk through fire” for her husband.  I remember thinking right at that moment that I would do the same for mine.

Annette’s career revolves around service to people with disabilities and their loved ones.  It did not start this way, but naturally, over the course of her life, service to the community became her profession as well as her life.  My own career and life are sometimes indistinguishable from each other.  I cannot divorce one from the other.  I have worked so hard to be an advocate that I can honestly say that my friends and family are advocates too, and many of them have chosen a profession of service to this community as a career.

Becoming part of the special needs community is a process, and no one is ever “done” learning better ways to be a full participant in this community.  In my own practice, I refer to the community as a big family, one that is constantly growing and extending its arms around the world so that we can all earn the respect that we deserve and claim our place in the world.  Annette’s focus is on building an ever-growing circle of friends, families, professionals, and caregivers, so that nobody ever feels that they must go it alone.

The parallels in our lives are so real and profound.

Thanks Annette, for allowing us into your life.  You made it easier for me to tell mine.

Get Butterflies and Second Chances here!

The Special Education Reform and Its Unintended Consequences: Part 2

The Special Education Reform as addressed by the New York City Department of Education intended to align process and policy more closely by emphasizing the core principle of the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) and asserting that every student with an IEP would receive instruction, to the extent possible, with their peers who do not have an IEP (see Part 1 here).  Furthermore, the NYC Department of Education emphasized a policy that would consider strong academic standards and scores.  At face value, this sounds like the right approach.  Who wouldn’t want all children to be able to learn together and with the highest standards, right?

The problem with this approach is that as I mentioned many times before, the NYC Department of Education targeted equality, but not equity.  What does equity mean, as opposed to equality?  Placing two students, one with an IEP that calls for a self-contained class, and another one without an IEP, in the same 25-student class, is equality, but it is certainly not equity.  Too many adjustments would have to be made in order to serve this student’s needs, and even then, it may not work.  The appearance of equality does not support the reality of what students actually need.

This is exactly what is happening in many public schools in New York City.  I am sure that this is also happening throughout the nation.  The rush to make the “reform” a place where ALL students get the SAME education on the account of equality has resulted in extreme lack of services and desired outcomes for students with disabilities.  When I was still working with the NYC Department of Education, I saw cases like this almost daily.  I was told by the powers-that-be that my role was not to place students in specific classes or even provide information regarding the school’s classroom provisions. 

Once, I was told that giving information to a parent with a child with special needs, who happened to be actively seeking information, was unacceptable.  “That information should have never left your mouth,” my immediate supervisor admonished.  My supervisors’ supervisor (the person who managed all field enrollment in the city), once toyed with the idea of banning access to the special education system to all employees, so that we could not “see” what kinds of services the students needed.  It was not our job, she said, to deal with the family’s need to have their child placed correctly from day one.  This was the school’s “problem,” not ours.  Therefore, why would enrollment personnel have access to this information? She concluded.

Many children with IEP recommendation go without their recommended services and their recommended placements.  The approach of treating every student the same does not translate into treating every student with equity, with the supports that each individual student needs in order to succeed.  Children deserve to have these services in place from the first day of school.  Letting schools “figure out” how they will service the students robs them of months, if not years, of a proper education.

If you have a child with an IEP and you feel that your child is not making progress, you are probably in this situation. 

If you want to know how to best deal with this issue, join our private/free Facebook group so that we can discuss this better, and subscribe to my YouTube channel for updated information.

Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

Using Behavior Charts to Prevent Tantrums and Power Struggles

How do I manage my toddler’s tantrums?

In my years of practice, I have been asked this question over and over again. And if you have visited my YouTube Channel, you have seen the recommendations that I have made. Now that schools in New York City are closed again due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in the city, this is a question that has come back with a renewed urgency.

Check out this video on how to stop tantrums and my course here.

How do I keep my children from fighting when I have to work from home?

One of the first tools that I suggest when parents tell me that they are having difficulty with their children at home, is the use of a behavior chart. At its core, the behavior chart is really a reward (reinforcement) chart that keeps track of children’s responsibilities at home and helps build responsible behavior. If you use this consistently, it really works!

You can find effective, cost-effective behavior charts here and here.

Don’t forget to leave questions and comments! Do you need a recommendation for a particular toy/product? Please let me know.

Cheers!

Dr. Klimek

Unconditional Love

My list of angels and superheroes could never be complete without the special place that Omar, Daniela, and Martin, as well as their mom and dad, my uncle Pedro and my aunt Pierangela had in my life.  They are my cousins, but in reality they are so much more than that.  Truth is, I tried to write this piece so many times, but words are not enough to express my immense gratitude to them.

Daniela and me

My childhood and my life in general were simply made better because of them.  Around them, we were just a family.  We were not special, different, and didn’t need to be “accommodated.”  Life was simply life.  Love was simply love.  And my youngest brother with disabilities was their cousin too. They saw him for who he was.

Daniela and Martin

They presented a micro social experiment of what could be possible.  They presented an alternative. I felt safe.  I felt understood.  I felt heard.  And what’s more important, I felt that my little brother was a person first.  When I was growing up, it was not uncommon for people to see disability first, then, perhaps, the person behind it.

Omar and Daniela

At my cousins’ house this was not the case.

Daniela with my brother Fernando

To Omar, Daniela, Martin, and my late uncle Pedro and late aunt Pierangela, THANK YOU.

Daniela and Martin
Thank You!

Lola Koala Travel Adventures by Dr. Tinita Kearney: Children’s Book Review

September is Children’s book month and I’m so excited I get to review Dr. Tinita Kearney’s Lola Koala Travel Adventures!  This is a skillfully designed book, that takes children through the “Ws:”  WHO/WHAT/WHERE, and also helps them answer YES/NO questions.  As an educator, I know how much young children can struggle to learn these skills.  This is why Dr. Tinita Kearney (Dr.T), a speech pathologist by training, has focused on these language skills and has made them FUN TO LEARN.  Learning and playing are one and the same when it comes to young children. 

Question for the author:  What inspired your story?

Dr. T:  School year after school year I am met with a caseload of unique, eager-to-learn elementary-school-aged students with not-so-unique speech and language issues. And while a percentage of these students have difficulties that require intensive therapy (plus the dedicated involvement of the family and school team), a good portion requires much less involvement from me. It’s this group that I aim to help with my books–by empowering their families to build their language skills at home with consistent, fun practice and resources!

Ready to get a preview of the book?  Take a look at this lovely video of Dr. T reading to her daughter:

Lola Koala Travel Adventures

Looking for a way to teach your toddler how to answer the most important questions (Who/What/Where/Yes and No)?  Grab a copy of your book right here.  Enjoy!

How to Deal with Your Toddler’s Tantrums

If you have been home for a while, dealing with your toddler’s tantrums is probably at the top of your list. Parents find it very difficult to get anything done while their children are kicking and screaming at the top of their lungs!

It’s no secret that toddlers have tantrums.  For some lucky parents, tantrums are a rare occurrence, and for other no-so-lucky parents, tantrums are the order of the day.  How do you deal with your toddler’s tantrums once and for all?

For starters, it is important to understand them.  Why is it that tantrums occur at around this age?  What makes our toddlers want to engage in them?  How do we understand children when they are having a tantrum? 

Dealing with tantrums is not easy, but we have streamlined the process by 1) Understanding your child’s tantrums, and 2) Eradicating or significantly decreasing them.  We explain this in our new course, The Tantrum-Free Toddler.

Don’t lose your mind trying to deal with children at home who demand your attention while you have new remote work responsibilities.  This is the right time to work on modifying that behavior!

If you follow the tried and true behavioral methods that we outlined in the course, consistently and diligently, we promise a tantrum-free child in a matter of days.  Don’t miss this opportunity!

This course is just $20, but it won’t be for too long! Grab your copy before the cart closes on April 15!

Personal Stories: Learning from Our Collective Experience

Personal Stories define us.  This is what we tell ourselves and tell other people about us.  They are part of what we use to understand ourselves, understand the world, and come to terms with the choices that we make throughout our lives.

This is why I’m opening this section to the special village in its entirety.  Do you have a story that you would like to share?  Did you learn from any particular experience that you had with your child (brother, sister, grandchild, etc.)? Is there anything that you would like to share with the world so that you can enlighten all of us?  We want to be here to share our experiences and support each other.

I would not be in this space if it weren’t for my youngest brother, Fernando.  He is seven years younger than me, and five years younger than our middle brother, Hernan.  I have so many stories to share about how tough it was to grow up in a time and place when caring for the disabled and including them in every aspect of life and decision making was not mainstream.  I grew up understanding how judged my parents felt.  I grew up feeling the isolation that stemmed from this experience.

The good news is that none of this stopped us.  Families can be very resilient and can thrive in the shadow of extreme pain.  It is because I want to showcase that resilience and foster an environment of understanding that I would like to feature YOUR story.  Share your thoughts (or your story) with me at ourspecialvillage@gmail.com.

Fernando 🙂

Hope to hear from you!

Dr. Klimek