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.
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!
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Bottom line on restaurants: Stick to the restaurants outside of the casino for a more comfortable, quieter scene.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Like you, and perhaps like many other educators, administrators, and parents, I was excited when the New York City Department of Education adopted the Special Education Reform. At that time, I was working with the specialized district in the city, namely District 75, and I was seeing the influx of students whom I felt could have been given a better chance in a regular school, perhaps with supports, perhaps with a self-contained setting. I was appalled at the numbers of students who were referred to District 75 daily. So, when the special education reform became policy, I could not wait to see its results. What I could not anticipate was how quickly I would get to see its unintended consequences.
For starters, what is the special education reform? To answer this question, I am going to be specific to New York City, even though similar versions of this have happened everywhere in the United States. The New York City Department of Education decided the citywide rollout of this policy would start in the Fall of 2012, with a partial rollout as early as 2010. It entailed following the provisions of the law at its core, regarding diligence when applying the LRE (least restrictive environment) to placement of children in special programs. At its heart, the special education reform “is aimed at ensuring that all students with disabilities are educated to high academic standards, in the least restrictive setting that is academically appropriate, and at the same schools they would have access to if they did not have IEPs,” as then-Chancellor Walcott said in a letter.
As I mentioned, this all sounds good. After all, we are following the letter of the law and applying its provisions. Right? That’s what I thought at the beginning. I felt that too many students were being recommended services in a specialized school that could be managed in a regular school. But what happened after the beginning of the rollout (between 2010 and 2012), was that many of the students who would have stayed at their regular schools in self-contained classes (see the continuum of services here), were now being recommended for District 75 schools.
Why was this happening? Many of the psychologists I talked to told me that since their schools were no longer supporting self-contained classes (whether in elementary, middle school, or high school), they felt that the children they were supporting would be better served in a smaller class, even if that meant transferring them to a specialized school. This was the opposite of what the reform intended! I was appalled, but I was even more appalled at the fact that there were close to zero self-contained classes available for these children that needed them.
Over time, and while I was still working with District 75, we noticed that the influx of students who had specialized school recommendations waned a bit, and for me, this meant that perhaps students were receiving more accurate recommendations at the school level. Little did I know what was happening on the other side of the fence. Students in public schools were being recommended classes in their regular public schools, but the services were far from being accurate for the children they were supposed to serve.
Do you want to learn more about the special education reform and its unintended consequences?
This post is part of the Biz Kids ‘N Pets sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the product provided by the sponsors.
You probably know that in my life as a special needs consultant I constantly get questions about many different aspects of parenting and especially regarding special needs parenting. Some of those questions can be quite complex but some of them are actually quite mundane, so to speak.
One of the issues that we normally talk about is how to teach children independent skills and keep them clean, or the house clean, or their clothes clean, at the same time! I’m sure that most of you already know the answer to that: Trying to do both at the same time is nearly impossible. So what do I recommend as a specialist? Let your child experiment with independent tasks and find a good way to clean the mess. There is just no other way around it!
Of course, I try to find ways to minimize the mess, using adaptive utensils, wearing a smock, or even trying to find cleaning products that will help parents deal with the mess so that I can get to the business of promoting children’s independence. I typically recommend products and use different tips that I have learned along the way to help parents clean the mess that we leave behind.
Enter Biz and Kids ‘N Pets. I jumped at the opportunity to be able to try them myself. Like many other people, at the pandemic’s outset, we adopted a puppy from a local shelter. He is a very active Australian cattle dog that needs a lot of activity and attention. He is also prone to messes! For months (since he was adopted basically, in March), we had been looking for a product that would help us get rid of some of the stains that still remained even after the constant washing.
See those blankets? We are constantly washing them, but we are not always successful removing the stains. We used Biz to treat the stains, and here are the results (before and after pictures below).
What a difference! My husband also tried the Kids ‘N Pets to pretreat other stains, with similar results. These products are designed with the enzymes that are needed to remove a wide variety of stains. As they say, they don’t cut any corners with their products. These products are quality products!
So now, I have a new recommendation for the parents I work with: You can trust the effectiveness of Biz and Kids ‘N Pets. I am happy that I found this product and will continue to use it whenever needed (which is pretty often!).
If you want to find out more about these products, visit their websites here and here.