Squeezing the Charmin Ultra Strong–You Just Can’t Stop Yourself

charmin ultra strongOkay, I admit it. As a single dad on a budget, I have a bias towards bargain brands, and toilet paper is no exception. I’ve used my favorite warehouse brand TP for decades and never made a connection between it and the underwear skid marks (I always assumed it was operator error—mine and the kids’). So when the folks at Charmin sent me some Charmin Ultra Strong and asked me to review it, I wasn’t terribly excited. I mean, toilet paper is toilet paper, right? Coincidentally, though, it was time to install new rolls in two of our four bathrooms, which gave us a chance to do a butt-cheek-to-butt-cheek comparison.

The difference was immediately noticeable in several ways. First, Charmin Ultra Strong is really soft. It made all those commercials with the family of bears seem a little less silly (plus, they always make me miss Mr. Whipple, who, sadly, died in 2007.) That by itself wouldn’t have been enough to get me to switch brands (although if I lived in Morocco, where the TP feels like sandpaper or one of many countries where they use newspaper, I would have switched immediately).

Second, there were fewer skid marks (aha! So it might not have been operator error after all). Maybe it’s just our family’s diet, but even with bleach, those marks never got completely out of our underwear, which meant I needed to buy replacements pretty regularly. The difference seems to be Charmin Ultra Strong’s washcloth-like texture. Human bottoms are apparently kind of like English muffins, in that they both have all sorts of nooks and crannies. Regular, flat TP can’t clean out those hiding places very well unless you use a ton of it and wipe three or four times (and, let’s face it, who’s got time for that?). But Ultra Strong’s texture did the job after just one wipe. The bottom line? You end up with cleaner underwear and use less three or four times less toilet paper to boot. Actually, let’s call it half as much: Ultra Strong is so soft that you may end up giving yourself an extra wipe just because it feels so nice. Either way, the trifecta of using less TP, cleaner underwear, and softness is definitely reason enough to switch.

Disclosure: I received free product and some compensation to facilitate this review. However, it would take more than a few rolls of toilet paper and a few bucks to make me give something a thumbs up that I don’t honestly believe it deserves.

photo credit: charmin.com

Join the #WarmSmiles #Twitterparty August 18, 7-8pm eastern,


Join @sunstargum, @strollerincity, and me, @mrdad, for a prize-filled Twitter Party celebrating the end of summer!

Learn some great strategies for how to make the most of these last golden days, and share your own.

Here’s what you could win:

2 prize packs ($25 estimated value)

  • Sunstar GUM® products:
  • #warmsmiles twitter party1 GUM® Crayola SQUEEZE-A-COLOR Toothpaste
  • 1 GUM® Lalaloopsy/Power Rangers/How to Train Your Dragon Toothbrush
  • 1 GUM® Flossers
  • 1 GUM® Crayola Kids’ Flossers
  • 1 GUM® Technique Toothbrush

1 prize pack ($50 estimated value)

  • $25 Target gift card
  • Sunstar GUM® products:
  • 1 GUM® Crayola SQUEEZE-A-COLOR Toothpaste
  • 1 GUM® Lalaloopsy/Power Rangers/How to Train Your Dragon Toothbrush
  • 1 GUM® Flossers
  • 1 GUM® Crayola Kids’ Flossers
  • 1 GUM® Technique Toothbrush

1 prize pack ($75 estimated value)

  • $50 Target gift card
  • Sunstar GUM® products:
  • 1 GUM® Crayola SQUEEZE-A-COLOR Toothpaste
  • 1 GUM® Lalaloopsy/Power Rangers/How to Train Your Dragon Toothbrush
  • 1 GUM® Flossers
  • 1 GUM® Crayola Kids’ Flossers
  • 1 GUM® Technique Toothbrush

1 grand prize ($150 estimated value)

  • $100 Target giftcard
  • Sunstar GUM® products:
  • 1 GUM® Crayola SQUEEZE-A-COLOR Toothpaste
  • 1 GUM® Lalaloopsy/Power Rangers/How to Train Your Dragon Toothbrush
  • 1 GUM® Flossers
  • 1 GUM® Crayola Kids’ Flossers
  • 1 GUM® Technique Toothbrush

Quality Time: Family Night Fun With Teenagers

A guest post by Harry Vincent


When the kids are tiny they’re easy to please. When they grow up, things get much harder. Here are some fun ideas for a more mature family that doesn’t want to give up family time.


Cook a Large Meal Together

Cooking is usually something reserved for the parents, but teens should learn this valuable life skill sooner rather than later. If your teenager doesn’t have any real cooking skills, then family cooking can teach them everything they need to know (or at least the basics) while simultaneously giving you more family time. Everyone wins.

Start with simple things like cooking pasta or baking lasagna. Then, over several weeks, you can work up to more challenging cooking feats like baked goods and soufflés. If you’re feeling especially daring, brew some beer or some other alcohol at home (though they might feel that it’s unfair if they can’t drink anything).

fermented beverages that aren’t alcoholic is also an option and will teach them a lot about how their favorite store-bought foods are made (think pickles, sauerkraut and the ever-popular kombucha).


Have an Upgraded Movie Night

Instead of renting a DVD, start off by streaming a new movie from iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play. If you’re one of those families who still doesn’t have high speed Internet, look at these Time Warner Cable Internet Plans.

To kick things up a notch, take the party outside and throw the movie up on a big screen. You will need a projector for this. Is it an investment? Yup. Will it be fun? Are you kidding? You remember how much fun the drive in was when you were a kid? You can bring that experience home. Your kids will love it.


Choose Unusual Activities

When the usual stuff gets boring, and it eventually will, it’s time to kick things up a notch. A few ideas include:


Rock Climbing

Indoor rock climbing is becoming more popular and, if you’ve never tried it as a family before, you should take your kids. Maybe they’ve been with their friends, but there’s no reason why this can’t also be a family activity.

Is it unusual? Maybe. But, you will also build team and trust skills, spotting each other as you climb to the top.


Go-Kart Competitions

How many families do you actually see go-karting together. Not many. And, that’s precisely why you should try it. Go-karting is fun and you can kick things up a notch by racing against each other and keeping score.

The way you would likely have to do this is by racing for time. At least one family member would have to sit out each round and time the others. Rotate drivers so that everyone races the same number of times. At the end of the night, add up the times and the lowest total time gets a prize – maybe a free drink or a sundae or something else (and if you win, yes your kids should totally pay for it!).


Have a Sing-A-Long

It might sound cheesy, but it’s not if you put some time into it to make it special. First, you need the right setting. Dedicate a room in the house for family games. If you’re going to do family karaoke, you had better nail it or it’s going to be torture for everyone.

A lot of people like karaoke because it’s silly, you can goof off, and no one actually expects you to sing well. But, what would happen if you flipped this game on its ear, took singing lessons, and held a family competition?

That’s exactly what you should do.

Buy your family a good microphone from a company like Blue Microphones, and get a shock mount with a pop filter. Now, take some singing lessons as a family. Think of this as training for the competition.

When you feel you’re ready, pick songs and pit family members against each other. Everyone votes for their favorite singer. You could even get extended family in on the action if you needed impartial judges. It might be unusual, but at the end you will have accomplished two things: you will have learned a very good skill (singing) and you will have brought your family closer and shown your appreciation for their new talents.

And, that’s not strange. Matter of fact, that’s what family should be about – coming together.


Harry Vincent is a family therapist. He likes to share his insights on family living. His articles can be found mainly on lifestyle and family websites.

Mythical Childhood Characters: Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Truth

Spoiler alert: Santa and the Tooth Fairy are not real.  However, millions of children the world over take delight in believing such things.  When is the right time to align their beliefs with the truth?  Such is a tough question for moms and dads who are joyful about seeing their children excited yet feel guilty about fibbing to their kids, especially while teaching them that telling lies is bad.

When is the right time to tell them and how should you break the news?

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For Kids of All Ages: Visiting the World Famous San Diego Zoo

A guest post from Fiona Moriarty


To get the most out your visit to a world famous attraction like the San Diego Zoo, you need to plan ahead and put together a must-see list.

To help you enjoy a fantastic, action-packed day at this iconic zoo, here is a look at what’s available and how to see as many of the attractions as possible.


Save Money before You Get There

There are a number of approaches that could help you land your zoo tickets at less than full price.

Once you have found your ideal San Diego hotel through a website line Hipmunk, check with the hotel to see whether they can get you discounted tickets, which you can then pick up after you have checked in.

You might also be able to save by taking advantage of one of the bundle deals available through the zoo’s website. There are also a number of online resources that maintain lists of available discounts and offers. And if you plan to go in October, San Diego Zoo has been offering free entry to kids aged between 3-11 years, as long as they are with a paying adult.

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Spring Cleaning

So, it’s spring. The perfect (and somewhat cliche) time to clean up the house. Spruce it up, declutter, get the screens into the windows- you know, the whole jam. It needs to happen- spring is a good a time as any! Get all that winter “ew” out of the house, too.


There’s never a bad time to clear the clutter out of your home or garage or to do a wardrobe purge. When you donate your stuff to Goodwill, the revenue from the sale of your donations helps fund job training and placement opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantages directly in your community. That’s cleaning with a purpose.

Have you heard of the the “Donate Stuff. Create Jobs.” campaign? Thanks to the programs and support services made possible by donations of clothes and household items, more than 261,000 people earned jobs in 2013 – that’s one person finding a job every 27 seconds of every business day. So you’re literally donating your stuff AND helping to create jobs.
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