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New products, Father's Day gifts and a book worth reading

June 17, 2010 - Betsy Bethel

I receive so many e-mail pitches a day (at least 100), that it's so tempting to do a mass delete. But some obscure part of my conscience won't let me, so I scroll through each one (barring the political ones), giving each an average of 3 seconds to lure me in. Here are some items that have hooked me today.

— Don't Bite Me is a new insect repellant that comes in a patch form, is DEET-free and contains aloe and vitamin B1, which the pitch states are "metabolized in the body to reduce human odors that attract insects." I'm skeptical, so I requested a sample. I'll let you know how it works!
— Spiffies disposable oral hygiene cloths are soaked in Xylitol solution and can be used to clean your baby's gums and first teeth. Xylitol helps prevent cavities, which is the No. 1 childhood disease, and is safe for babies. You might want to use caution and just give your teething baby the wipe, though. It surely will make its way into his mouth immediately — and will save you from being bitten!

Father's Day ideas

— Father's Day gift ideas from moms across the country, released by the Parent Tested Parent Approved online community, include the customary tools (wrench sets, power tools), tech (from video games to iPads) and time off to go fishing, hunting, golfing or even to sleep in. Believe it or not, the release states, "Dad also wants to learn. A number of moms in the PTPA network are signing their husbands up for courses in subjects such as cooking, cake decorating and wine appreciation." Something tells me they'll appreciate those as much as they would a new tie or socks. For the more adventuresome, some dads will be treated to windsurfing, deep-sea fishing and driving a racing car. I'm not so sure those are gifts or death wishes! Oh well. I'm glad my hubby is easy to buy for in general — books, books or books will be good.

Speaking of books
— A pitch about "Halfway to Each Other" by Susan Pohlman popped up again today. It interested me the first time I got an e-mail several months ago, and I ordered a copy. I read it last month, and really enjoyed it. The book is autobiographical, about a husband and wife living the American dream in California but who are unhappily married and planning to divorce. Instead, in a ludicrous move, they sell their house and cars and move with their two children to Italy for a year. As they navigate through the labyrinth of living in a foreign country, they inevitably find themselves drawn together but not without making several wrong turns first. Pohlman is genuine in telling her tale, not skipping the unkind or childish thoughts that go through her head in the day-to-day battle to make things work. From the hit-or-miss bus system to the gypsies to the large and boisterous neighbors downstairs (and the bordering-on-absurd fact they can never figure out the patriarch's first name) — the book is both exciting and ridiculous, touching and wistful, introspective and educational. — and it's an armchair vacation to an everyday Italy not found in guidebooks. The book is available in hardback wherever books are sold; paperback release date with a post-Italy epilogue (which I'm anxious to read) comes out Sept. 1.


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