Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review & Giveaway! 500 Acres and No Place to Hide: More Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl

500 Acres and No Place to Hide: More Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm GirlThe great folks at Penguin sent me Susan McCorkindale's hilarious memoir, 500 Acres and No Place to Hide: More Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl (NAL; August 2011). It is the follow-up novel to her first memoir Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl and, like the first, it is really a lot of fun!

Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm GirlBorn and bred Jersey Girl, Susan McCorkindale, was a high-powered Marketing Exec at Family Circle until her husband convinced her and their two young sons to move to a 500-acre beef cattle farm in Virginia. Life down South is verrry different than life in Ridgewood, NJ (how can a girl survive without a Starbucks or Bloomies for miles??) and Susan's memoirs chronicle the family's acclimation to their new rural habitat in side-splitting detail.

I really enjoyed both of Susan's memoirs--she is self-deprecating like the majority of us and the jams she gets herself into are hilarious and strangely familiar (Getting chased by a herd of cattle on her morning run? Check. Dropping a ham on the floor, washing it and serving it anyway? Why not?) And while some may be turned off that Susan is a bit of a moneyed princess who does farm work in her Jimmy Choos, I just found her unwillingness to give up the Jersey in her made me laugh even more.

My only beef (haha--beef, farm, you get it?) are the million footnotes. I'm a lover of the footnote and comments in parentheses as you can tell, but even I felt some of Susan's were superfluous. So, a little editing of the footnotes would have been nice, but the books are enjoyable anyway.

The giveaway!
Penguin is generously offering a copy of 500 Acres and No Place to Hide to a lucky Rockland Mother reader in the United States! If you're interested in winning a copy of the book, please comment below before 11:59 on August 31st.

Good luck!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Author Guest Post! Cynthia Ellingson author of The Whole Package

The Whole PackageHave I've got a treat for you today! Cynthia Ellingsen, author of the newly released and perfectly named novel THE WHOLE PACKAGE is here as a guest blogger. You're definitely going to want to hear more about Cynthia and her book--which is about a restaurant where scantily clad men do the serving. Yes! 

A full Rockland Mother review and giveaway of the book are just a couple weeks down the line too, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that. In the meanwhile, sit back and enjoy today's guest post! 


Hi Rockland Mother! Thank you so much for having me to guest blog.

The Whole Package was released on August 2 and it’s been a delight to hear from readers. I’m going to share with you some of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since the launch of the book.

What is The Whole Package about?

The Whole Package is about three women, friends for life, who open a restaurant staffed by scantily clad men. Very attractive, scantily clad men.

Seriously, what’s the book about?

Even though there are some very attractive, scantily clad men, the story is actually about friendship. The three main characters, Jackie, Cheryl and Doris, are best friends who have lost touch. The book is about the three of them coming back together.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took about six months to write the rough draft of The Whole Package and about a year to polish. I love to drink coffee while I write (wine doesn’t work when I’m writing - I’d nod off over the computer!) so that probably equals about 1,620 cups of coffee.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, yes and yes. In third grade, the teacher designated Friday as story writing day. He would create these blank books with wallpaper covers and we were expected to write a book every Friday. While most of the class would feign illness, I would happily scribble away.

How did you pursue a writing career?

Unfortunately, I didn’t. Not for years. I went through that thing in middle school that a lot of girls fall victim to - the ol’, “boys will only like me if I’m dumb”. So, I didn’t pursue writing as a career until I was older, wiser and... okay, fine. Smarter.

What do you hope readers will get from reading The Whole Package?

I just got a wonderful email from a reader that can help me answer this question. In her email, she talked about the various themes in the book. One message she settled upon was the importance of staying true to who you are. (One of the main characters, Jackie, is a painter who has long since given up the desire to paint. It’s only a tiny part of who she is but it’s very significant in terms of what makes her happy.) The reader pointed out that, in life, we often lose sight of what it is as women that truly makes us happy. The Whole Package reminded her the importance of staying true to who she is and to set aside time and enthusiasm for those things that bring her joy.

I hope that all readers can find a similar message as they read The Whole Package.

Thanks for reading! I hope to hear from you, too, at

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Cat Named Finn

I haven't mentioned yet that we adopted a little kitten a couple weeks ago from Hi-Tor Animal Care Center. We named our 4-month-old ball of terror Finbar (Finn for short) and he is causing quite the stir in our little family. He is ridiculously energetic which means Andrew and he are perfectly matched for play--except that Andrew has the strength of a million babies and often threatens to whack, suffocate or crush Finn and Finn has razor sharp teeth and claws that he bares indiscriminately.

Aww, look at Finn in this picture! He is so stinking adorable. We just didn't realize how much work a tiny kitten would be! We thought that cats pretty much take care of themselves, and we were wrong--small kittens want your constant attention just like human babies, and will trip, scratch and bite the hell out of you if you don't keep a spray bottle ready.

That said, we are smitten with Finn and Andrew is often brought to hysterics by his antics so this "kitten-period" is well worth it (we just hope its just a very short period...) I will be sure to post pet-related product review now that I need to learn by trial and error the best ways to tame the beast and his poop.

If you're interested in adopting a kitten from Hi-Tor, they've got an adopt one kitten get one free promotion going on this summer. The adoption fee is a hefty $145 but it includes spay/neuter, shots, and a free local vet visit. They didn't require an interview or any references when we went, so we were able to walk out the same day with a cat, but I'm not sure if that is a good thing! (Although in NYC they almost require a urine sample for you to adopt!)

They've also got dogs, small animals, adult cats, and the occasional barn animal (rooster, anyone?) to love. Check them out!

Monday, August 15, 2011

That's More Like It! Hefty 55 Qt D Style Touch Lid Wastebasket

You'll probably recall my hate letter to my Simple Human Round Trashcan. While sleek looking and metal, it was so small as to be useless and was constantly leaving me with ripped trash bags and garbage on the kitchen floor (yuck!) Well, we finally got our asses in gear and bought another--albeit plastic--wastebasket and it is a winner!

We bought Hefty's 55 Quart "D" Style Touch Lid Wastebasket at a local Target (Spring Valley, NY) for about $17.00. The trash can is large enough for all of our kitchen trash and not once has my garbage bag become lodged within it or shred into a million  pieces. It looks great in the black color we purchased--because white gets dirty so easily--and the touch lid is wonderful. This is a push button lid which needs to be manually closed, which I actually prefer over the step trashcans because you can leave the lid open for big jobs.

The cons are that, if your husband is like mine and shoves garbage in the can until it is brimming, you will need stretchy trash bags such as the ForceFlex bags so that the bags do not slip down into the wastebasket. Also, as mentioned, this is a plastic wastebasket so it will retain some odors from particularly stinky garbage. I've found that the odors actually dissipate fairly quickly, but I still like to spray inside the can with Lysol between the stinky bag changes.

Hefty 13.5-gal Touch Lid Wastebasket WhiteOh, and I can't seem to find the "D' Style Wastebasket anywhere online anymore except at Walmart ($16 in White HERE). It seems that the similar Hefty 13.5-gal Touch Lid Wastebasket has taken its place ($14.97 at Walmart in black and white HERE.)

I'm really floored that these inexpensive trash cans have the stupidly expensive Simple Human models beat. Serves me right to get all fancy when all we had to do was visit a local store and trust a brand who really knows their garbage (er, stuff)!

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Heart Huggies Slip-Ons

Huggies Little Movers Slip-On Diapers, Step 5, 50 Count (Pack of 2)I've been using the new Huggies Little Movers Slip-On Diapers for about a week now and I am a fan! The slip-on design makes my life so much easier (if you've ever tried to fasten a regular diaper on a running toddler, you can understand) and they have nifty opening side tabs so that you aren't pulling a dirty diaper down your kid's legs.

I also really like the fit of the diapers--Andrew is 33 inches long and 25 lbs and the size 4s (22-37 lbs) are snug like underwear without the between-the-knee sag of other diapers. I think we could even go up to a size 5 (27+ lbs) since Andrew is on the tall side now and he'll outgrow the 4s lengthwise in a hot second, but the side panels are so stretchy and soft, the 4s fit like a glove. Oh, and gone are the sharp edges of the regular Little Movers size tabs--Andrew was really getting cut up and sore from those!

Absorbency-wise, they are as absorbent as regular Huggies--which means we still have overnight leaks at times like we have in EVERY brand of diaper we have tried. I'm so used to changing sheets that I wasn't surprised, though. I don't think any diaper can withstand the pee that springs forth from Andrew overnight!

Price-wise, ouch. Amazon is listing the 100 pack of size 5s, 112 pack of size 4s, and 132 pack of size 3s (16-28 lbs) at $50.16 today. isn't much better right now: $49.99 for a smaller quantity of diapers--but you can get $5 off the price if you join the site's free Take 5 loyalty program. I think I'm just accustomed to the price of Luvs and other discounted brands--guess you pay for the convenience of pulling up!

So, what's the difference between these and Pull Ups or Easy Ups? Well, they are priced pretty similarly, but the Slip-Ons come in smaller sizes. Pull-Ups do start at 18+ lbs for the 2T-3T size, though, (and in a nighttime version!) so I will be trying those down the road and--you guessed it--reviewing them right here. Speak up, though, if you have experience with trainers or slip-ons that you'd like to share--I'd love to hear your opinion too!

Update: It looks like the box of 100 size 5's won't be available to ship for 2-3 weeks from Amazon! If you order the 80 pack ($47) and sign up for the subscribe and save option, though (it is free and you can cancel whenever you like) the 80-count box is $33 for a limited time--that's an extra 15% off the normal 15% subscribe and save discount.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Simply Awesome Play/Birthday Venue: The Playroom in Nyack, NY

Andrew's favorite: the ball pit! 
My mother, Andrew and I stumbled upon The Playroom Nyack just after its grand opening in July. This place is the Shangri la of indoor play places--much smaller than Wee Play in Nanuet, but a million times cleaner and brighter (and more fun for caregivers too).

Lauren, the owner and a Rockland local, has thought of everything to make The Playroom the best indoor play destination in Rockland. From the cheerful walls which were painted by local college students to resemble Dr. Suess illustrations to the fun Kids Bop playing in the background and the amazing toys (a ball pit, Little Tykes Sizzle N Serve kitchens, a bouncy castle, a huge sandbox, and more.) There is also a great space for parties which start at $250 for 10 kids (contact the for details). With the sandbox and large castle rock wall and slide to the back, I'd say babies through kids age 10-ish will have tons of fun at this venue.

Check out the photo gallery HERE and drool!

What's more, there's a lounge dedicated to caregiver comfort, complete with comfy leather couches, a flat screen TV, and a Keurig coffeemaker. (Drinks and healthy snacks are also available for the kids for a fee.) And while it is such a pleasure watching over your little one in such free caffeinated luxury, at certain times The Playroom will be offering drop-off childcare services and staff members to play with your little ones so you can take it even easier!

Seriously, I am over the moon in love with The Playroom and, more importantly, so is Andrew! Andrew had a ball, and I was just so impressed at how friendly Lauren was and how clean the facility was (the bathroom changing table actually was stocked with liners--a rarity!) Entry is $15 for the day and you can come and go as you please from 10am-6pm daily. You can also buy a monthly pass for $65 until September 1st and special deals come along with that (guest passes, a t-shirt, etc.)

Check the Playroom out online HERE or on Facebook and do contact them directly for more specifics about memberships and parties. Speaking of... I better get a move on and book Andrew's 2nd birthday party there before you all book the place up!!

68 Main Street
Nyack N.Y. 10960
Phone: 845.512.8265

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dr. William Greenberg at Pomona Pediatrics (Pomona, NY)

Andrew had his 18-month check-up last week and we were finally able to check out Pomona Pediatrics after going to Clarkstown Pediatrics a couple months earlier. We had a relatively nice experience there, and I'm pretty sure it is indeed the practice we will stay with... I'm really just still mourning the fact the we can no longer go to the amazing Dr. Paul in Queens!

That said, the office staff at Pomona Pediatrics was very friendly and we were acknowledged as soon as we entered. Our nurse was super nice and made accommodations for squirmy Andrew (he was allowed to sit on the scale rather than stand and she marked his height on a piece of paper rather than making him lay down on the table.)  And Andrew really like Dr. Greenberg (complete bio HERE).

While a little bit stern seeming at first, Dr. Greenberg actually joked a lot with Andrew and put him at ease. I was particularly amused when he "listened" to Andrew's Mickey Mouse doll with his stethoscope and said "I hope you have good insurance for this one!"

Dr. Greenberg also took the time to answer my questions and go over baby safety tips with me, and he reassured me that, come time to give Andrew more vaccinations, I would be able to hold him in my arms rather than go through the trauma that was trying to restrain him at Clarkstown Peds. He also mentioned that, while they do take temperatures rectally for kids Andrew's age, they were looking into getting a head-scan thermometer that would be less invasive (please get on that soon, people!)

The few negatives that I saw were that the nurse did not take Andrew's temperature and that the waiting area is in dire need of new seating (the seats are ripping apart). Also, there are a bunch of very large, somewhat-cobweb-y stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling. But, while I found them a bit creepy, Andrew was beside himself with happiness looking at the huge Dora, Minnie Mouse, Elmo, etc. hanging above him (I guess the office staff knows best... but please get up there with a duster!)

Also, upon leaving, we were not ask to schedule to next appointment and I just find it frustrating that both Clarkstown and Pomona Peds dropped the ball on this. Regardless, we'll be returning to Dr. Greenberg for our next appointment when Andrew turns two in January. I'll be sure to keep you posted with a follow up review!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Intriguing--Huggies Little Movers Slip-Ons

Huggies Little Movers Slip-On Diapers, Step 4, 56 Count (Pack of 2)
$50 for a box of 112 (Amazon)
Andrew hates having his diaper changed, and I more often than not have to get his diaper on and off while he is standing. So, I was reaaly intrigued to hear that Huggies just released a slip-on version of their Little Movers diaper: Huggies Little Movers Slip-On Diapers.

These diapers were just released today on Amazon, so I haven't had a chance to try them out, but I will definitely be buying a box to see if they a) work, b) are worth the almost $30 increase from the regular Little Movers and c) are not just a glorified version of Pull Ups. I'm supposing that they do have a lot in common with Pull Ups--slip on design, easy open side tabs for changing--but fill the smaller sizes gap (sizes 3, 4, and 5) that  Pull Ups do not cover.

I'll try them out and get back to you STAT. Until then, may your changing times be peaceful and your diaper-fastening fingers swift!