Sunday, December 28, 2008

Book Review: My Body Belongs to Me, by Jill Starishevsky


Sexual abuse. It’s probably one of the last subjects we want to discuss with our children—or even think about ourselves—but experts say that it’s essential to teach our children that certain parts of their body are private. Unfortunately, most children who are being sexually abused fail to tell someone, perhaps because their abuser says it’s a secret, warns that someone will suffer if they tell, or convinces the child that he or she is at fault. So, how do we talk about abuse with our children without scaring them or giving them the impression that adults are bad?

Jill Starishevsky, an Assistant District Attorney in New York City who has prosecuted hundreds of sex offenders, has written a book to help parents bring up the delicate subject of sexual abuse with their children. My Body Belongs to Me combines simple, rhyming words with lovely drawings to help children understand, “This is my body, and it belongs just to me.” The book also instructs kids to tell someone when they’re touched inappropriately and reassures them that “they did nothing wrong” when abuse occurs.

In approaching the subject of sexual abuse with our children, the author suggests:

• Use this book as a tool to start a conversation and continue to address the subject periodically so kids remember the message.

• Teach children the proper terms for parts of the body so they feel comfortable talking about them.

• Ask your child “What if?” questions such as, “What if someone told you it was a secret?” Help them to get to the answer of telling another adult.

• Teach children that your family does not “do secrets.” If someone encourages them to keep secrets, they should respond by saying that their family tells each other everything.

• Encourage your kids to talk to you whenever they feel scared or uncomfortable. This will help them to know they can always confide in you.

• Let your children know they should trust their feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, and they should tell someone.

In addition to these tips, My Body Belongs to Me also includes a letter to parents and resources for more information. The author has an accompanying website at www.MyBodyBelongsToMe.com through which you can order the book. I highly recommend it for all families with children between the ages of 3 and 10.



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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays from My Family to Yours!



This holiday season, I am grateful for my family, as well as for you -- all of the new friends I've met through this blog! Thank you for visiting and sharing your lives with me. I wish you and your family all the best in the coming year!



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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ear Infections in Children


It’s cold and flu season, the time of year when children are especially vulnerable to painful ear infections. In fact, ear infections are the most commonly diagnosed childhood illness in the United States, second only to the common cold. More than 75 percent of children will have at least one ear infection by the age of three.

Unfortunately, babies are more prone to ear infections than older children or adults because their Eustachian tubes are short (about a half-inch) and horizontal. (Their immune systems are also less well-developed.) Inside your baby’s head, the Eustachian tubes connect her middle ear to the back of her throat, making a passage for fluids when your baby yawns or swallows. The tubes also protect the middle ear from germs that may enter into it via the throat, and they equalize air pressure, which will play a big part in your child’s ability to balance later on. As babies grow, the Eustachian tubes will triple in length and become more vertical, which helps prevent ear infections as the fluid can drain more easily. But until that happens, your baby may be particularly vulnerable to infections.

The most common type of ear infection is formally referred to as otitis media, caused by fluid and bacterial buildup behind your baby’s eardrum. If the Eustachian tubes are swollen due to a cold, allergy or sinus infection, the fluid can become trapped in the middle ear. In this warm, wet environment, bacteria will thrive and produce pus, putting pressure on the eardrum. This pressure causes it to bulge and results in a very painful ear infection.

But colds and allergies aren’t the only cause of fluid buildup in the ear. Fluid can also be prevented from draining if you hold your baby in a horizontal position during feeding. Although it seems instinctive to completely recline your baby in your arms while nursing, this position actually brings more fluid into your baby’s Eustachian tubes. So, be sure that your baby’s head is higher than her feet when she’s being fed.

Most children will have at least one ear infection before their first birthday. Between 10–20 percent will have three or more infections. Fluid in the ear may last an average of a month per occurrence. Repeated infections can cause mild hearing loss, which is of greatest concern when children are developing language skills. Signs of hearing loss in a baby may include failure to startle at loud sounds, not cooing or babbling, not responding to the sound of your voice, not enjoying games like peek-a-boo, and not making 1- or 2-word sounds (“bye-bye,” “dada”) by the first birthday. Because the signs of hearing loss are much more subtle in a baby’s first year, parents should be especially conscientious about having their baby’s hearing checked if he has repeated ear infections.

Signs of an ear infection include:

• Tugging on the ear
• Increased irritability or crying
• Trouble eating or sleeping
• Fluid drainage from the ear (this may be a result of the eardrum rupturing; seek medical attention right away)
• Lack of response to soft sounds
• Cold/flu symptoms, such as fever or vomiting

If you suspect that your baby has an ear infection, be sure to take her to the doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics or just monitor your baby’s condition to see if it clears up on its own. If your child has had repeated ear infections, or fluid behind both eardrums for longer than three months, resulting in significant hearing loss, she may be a candidate for ear tubes. These plastic tubes are placed through a small surgical opening in your baby’s eardrum to drain the fluid, keep infections from recurring, and restore hearing. They usually stay in for 6–12 months before falling out (or being surgically removed).

©2008. Adapted from Boosting Your Baby’s Brain Power, by Holly Engel-Smothers and Susan M. Heim.



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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Start a New Christmas Tradition with Elf Magic Elves


Our family has a new Christmas tradition, and I’m so excited to share it with you. Magic elves have taken up residence at our house! These elves show up at our home between Thanksgiving and Christmas, having traveled all the way from the North Pole. (You can tell that Santa sent them by the snowflake on their hearts, placed there by Santa.) Our elves love to play with our kids during the day. Each night, they head back to the North Pole to help Santa and let him know whether the boys have been naughty or nice that day. After the elves return to our house in the early morning hours, they always find a new place to hide. When the kids wake up, they have a blast trying to locate the elves’ new hiding place!

If you’d like some elves to show up at your house, have your children write a letter to Santa asking him to send a special elf (or two!). Then tell the kids to put crackers and water out because those are the elves’ favorite treats! In the meantime, Mom and Dad, head on over to www.Elf-Magic.com to make sure your children’s wishes come true! Select your choice of boy or girl elves with various hair and skin colors. There are also smaller “pocket elves” that your children will love. And finish up your Christmas shopping by adding adorable tree ornaments, hair bows, T-shirts, picture frames, snow globes and plates to your cart. If you’re Jewish, order a wonderful Hanukkah Helper!

Trust me, you will fall in love with these adorable elves. They are beautifully made, and you can even get accessories to go with them, such as elf clothes, mini sleeping bags and pet reindeer! Each Elf Magic elf comes with a poem that explains his visit, along with some North Pole Snowflakes that kids can sprinkle on him each night so he can return to Santa.

I encourage you to create your own traditions with your family’s elves. Do they like to hear a special Christmas song? Perhaps they want your children to leave them a particular kind of Christmas cookie. Take a picture of your elves in funny places and create your own “elf album”! Your Elf Magic elves will likely return to the North Pole when Christmas is over, but if your children miss them, they can always make a special appearance for birthdays. Happy holidays!







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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Great Gifts for Girls -- Two Giveaways!

It used to be that electronic games were played mostly by boys. But, times, they are a-changing! Game makers have gotten smart and now make some fun and exciting games tailor-made for girls. If you’re looking for a unique toy for the girls in your life, from age three through the teen years, I’ve got some ideas for you.

My Baby Girl and My Baby Boy for Nintendo DS


Almost all little girls love to play with dolls, and now they can do so on their Nintendo DS! The My Baby games allow them to raise their own little baby, from its first month through its fourteenth. They learn how to feed, bathe, diaper, dress and amuse their baby. When their baby is happy, she giggles! When she’s sad, she cries. Children can choose the baby’s name, ethnicity and eye color, and earn rewards for taking care of their baby’s needs. Rewards can be exchanged for virtual toys, clothes and accessories for their babies. Visit http://www.mybabyvillage.com for a sneak preview! Suitable for ages 3 and up.

HURU HUMIs

What’s a HURU HUMI? you ask. Well, you’ve got to see them to believe them! The best way to find out is to head over to http://www.huruhumi.com and check them out. They’re interactive toys for kids aged 10 and up that help develop communication, self-expression and social skills. Best of all, they’re fun! Even my five-year-old boys got a huge kick out of watching the HURU HUMIs answer their questions and talk to each other. You can pick from many different HURU HUMIs, all with unique personalities and interests. Preteen girls will especially get a kick out of these quirky pals!

Digital Praise 2 –- The ReMix


Dance Praise 2 -- the ReMix combines the latest music from top Christian artists with an action-packed dance game that offers hours of family fun. Simply connect the dance pad to the USB port of your Windows or Mac computer, follow the onscreen arrows and start steppin’ to the music. Includes new music from top Christian artists, including Mandisa, Barlow Girl, Superchick, Pillar, Casting Crowns, tobyMac, Jeremy Camp, Ayiesha Woods, Plumb, and more! With over 50 songs, 4 levels per song, and computer-generated dances, there are over 400 dances to choose from. Preteen and teenage girls will want to hold their own dance party as up to four of them can play on their own dance pads! Visit http://www.digitalpraise.com to learn more about this exciting game!

GIVEAWAYS

Two of the games above are now available for you to win! They include:

1. My Baby Girl or My Baby Boy for Nintendo DS
2. A HURU HUMI prize package, which includes one HURU HUMI, one t-shirt, and stickers

To enter, leave a comment stating which prize you’d like to win. (If you’d like to enter the giveaway for both prizes, leave a separate comment for each.) For an additional entry, post a direct link to this giveaway on Twitter. (Leave an additional comment with your Twitter name.) Subscribe to this blog via RSS or email for a bonus entry! (Leave another comment.) One winner will be randomly selected to win a My Baby game, and one winner will be randomly selected to win the HURU HUMI prize package. LAST DAY TO ENTER: Christmas Eve, December 24, 2008.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to cmgnbox01, winner of a MyBaby game, and mom2anutball, winner of the HURU HUMI prize package!



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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Great Gift for the Writers and Readers in Your Life


Every year, I eagerly await the release of the Bylines Writer’s Desk Calendar. This year’s weekly calendar is filled with 53 great stories from writers in 29 states and 5 foreign countries! Each week features an author sharing his or her insights on the writing life. This year, I have the honor of being one of those authors!

But this is no ordinary calendar or daytimer…it has plenty of features to help writers succeed, such as:

• Ample space for writing notes and upcoming events
• A resource list of writing-related books and websites
• A submissions tracker
• Pages for designating writing goals
• Pages for phone numbers and email addresses
• Pages for recording travel and business expenses
• Listings of “literary” holidays
• Listings of literary festivals throughout North America
• Listings of famous writers’ birthdays

The Bylines 2009 Writer’s Desk Calendar makes a unique gift for any writer or avid reader. The authors’ insights will inspire them with creativity, infuse them with passion for their craft, and even make them laugh. (And, lucky for you, it’s only $13.95!) You can read more about it and order copies at http://www.bylinescalendar.com.



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Monday, December 15, 2008

Helping Teenagers Make It Through High School

I was shocked when I learned that one out of three high school students don’t graduate, usually because they drop out. That’s approximately 7,000 students each day, or 1.25 million a year, who leave high school. Experts say that most of them are capable of getting through their classes, but just don’t receive the encouragement they need to stay motivated. Parental involvement in their education dramatically increases the chances that teens will stay in school, but when that’s not possible, even the support of other adults can make a difference.

I recently heard about a campaign called Boost Up, sponsored by the Ad Council and the US Army, that aims to help teens who are at risk of dropping out to stay in school by providing the support they need. The great thing is that you can help, and it won’t cost you a dime! How does it work?

Just go to http://www.boostup.org and click on the button that says “Send Boost.” This will allow you to send a message to one of the students featured or to someone you know who might need encouragement to stay in school. You can even create your own Boost Up video!

Do you know any teens who are at risk of dropping out of school? Here are some of the warning signs:

• They don’t like school.
• They think their parents don’t care if they go to school.
• They think their parents are too controlling and they tend to rebel.
• They feel they’re not smart or struggle with schoolwork.
• They have trouble with drugs, alcohol or mental illness.
• They regularly skip school.
• There is physical or verbal abuse in the home.
• They feel like they don’t have friends or they’re an outcast at school.

How can you help? Sit down and talk with them about their future. Let them know you have confidence that they can succeed. Encourage them to share their frustrations and remind them that your door is always open. Be a friend and accept them.

Of course, just sending a “boost” or saying “I care” is no guarantee that a teen will stay in school. But imagine the impact if every adolescent heard those words on a regular basis. Have you ever heard a teenager say that he made it through high school because a teacher took him under her wing and let him know that she cared if he passed his classes? Sometimes, that’s all it takes. I strongly encourage you to mentor a teen who is at risk of dropping out. Don’t wait for somebody else to do it. You can be the one to change their future for the better.



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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Seeking Stories for "Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family"


Almost every family has a dysfunctional member or two. What about your family? Did your father-in-law make a totally embarrassing toast at your wedding reception? Does your cousin Vinny have an enormous collection of gnome statues in his yard? Did your Aunt Martha leave all of her fortune to her parakeet? Or does your grandmother dye her hair pink and ride a Harley?

I’m coauthoring the upcoming book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family, and we are looking for your true stories and poems about your off-the-wall, goofy or just downright strange family members. Stories can be serious or hilarious, or both, and should make readers realize that their quirky families are not so different from those of other people!

To submit your stories, go to http://www.chickensoupforthesoul.com and click on “Submit a Story.” Be sure to select “All in the Family” as the book title when you fill out the form. Submit under your real name, but rest assured that we will allow you, if requested, to use pen names for publication and change the names of family members to protect the innocent (or guilty!). We prefer stories and poems written in the first person of no more than 1,200 words.

[Note: We are not looking for stories about divorce or the normal trials and tribulations of raising children and teenagers. Those topics will be covered in other books.]

If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of the book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and the right to resell it.

DEADLINE IS JUNE 30, 2009.
This book is scheduled for publication in fall 2009, in time for the holiday season!



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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Hovering Flight (Novel) Giveaway


[NOTE FROM SUSAN: Today’s post is written by Joyce Hinnefeld, author of the book, In Hovering Flight. Joyce writes on the subject of motherhood, while giving us a peek inside her new novel. Stay tuned at the end of this post to find out how to win a complimentary copy of In Hovering Flight!]

The Paradoxes of Caring

A brief piece in the November 21 issue of The Week describes my novel In Hovering Flight as, among other things, a consideration of “the paradoxes of caring.” The more I’ve thought about that phrase, the more apt it’s come to seem to me.

Addie and Tom, two of the novel’s central characters, care passionately about birds and about the natural world, and also about the work they do in connection with this passion for the environment—Tom as an ornithologist, Addie as a bird artist and, eventually, an environmental activist. They also care deeply about their daughter Scarlet, the book’s other important character. For Tom, there’s a healthy balance and a meaningful connection between his various loves. But for Addie, the people and things she cares about often seem at war with one another. When Scarlet is a baby, Addie finds it nearly impossible to get to her blind in the woods and sketch, much less do any painting. When Scarlet is older and more independent, Addie’s despair over overdevelopment and environmental degradation often pulls her away from her work. Later, her own declining health interferes. So there’s one paradox of caring: for the mother in this book, the various people and things she cares about seem to interfere with this other important thing, her work as an artist.

When I began thinking about what I might say about motherhood and the writing of In Hovering Flight, I thought, initially, that I would write about that term “hovering” in the title. “In hovering flight” is actually a phrase from Roger Tory Peterson’s description of the song of the bobolink in the fifth edition of his Birds of Eastern and Central North America (“Song, in hovering flight and quivering descent, ecstatic and bubbling, starting with low, reedy notes and rollicking upward”); these are lines that Scarlet, who grows up to be a poet, uses when she tries to convince her father that words are necessary to capture the beauty of bird song. But these days the term “hovering” is being used in another context, to refer to the overly protective (and damaging) involvement of so-called “helicopter parents.” In a review in the November 17 New Yorker Joan Acocella discusses several recent books on “the rise of overparenting”—or, “hothouse parenting,” or “death-grip parenting,” or, in Acocella’s terms, “hovering parenting.”

Isn’t it ironic, I imagined writing as I reflected on motherhood and my novel, that that word “hovering” appears in the title of my novel, where I deliberately set out to portray two parents who are the antithesis of smothering, overprotective parents. As an adult, Scarlet sees the debt she owes her parents, who have taught her to love and value her work, however little the world might value it—an important lesson for a young woman who aspires to a life as a poet. She describes a childhood and early adolescence of warmth and freedom, “everything as safe and sure as Eden.” And when she is ready to leave the nest, she flies north, to Maine, with the confidence that, surely, only a child of hands-off, anti-hovering parents like Addie and Tom could possess.

But of course that’s only telling part of the story. Actually, Scarlet leaves home before she has finished school, choosing to spend her last year of high school at the home of her parents’ friend Cora—away from her mother’s despair over her work and over the planet’s decline, and also away from Addie’s increasingly public activism. And here I can see something else in what I was doing, in writing about Scarlet and Addie: I was exploring the possibility that a mother’s passion for her own work, or a mother’s own passions in general, might eventually alienate her from her own child.

My daughter Anna was three when I began working in earnest on In Hovering Flight. She was, in very real ways, my inspiration for the young Scarlet, and my memories of the elation, and also the profound exhaustion, that I felt during her first months were still vivid, and so shaped my writing about Addie’s first months with baby Scarlet. What I didn’t completely own up to in my initial thinking about this piece were the ways in which In Hovering Flight enacts my own personal paradox of caring: for my family (my daughter and husband, and now too my own aging parents), for my teaching, for my work as a writer. The effort to balance all of these is my struggle—and, I know, also my gift—every day. I hope for the ability to hold all of this together as gracefully as writer Scott Russell Sanders, who says in an interview published in the September 2008 Writer’s Chronicle
Like any writer, I struggle to preserve the mental space necessary for creative work. But I’m not willing to abandon the students and others who depend on me, I’m not willing to exploit my friends, and I’m not willing to sacrifice the people I love in order to produce a more nearly perfect book. So I go on struggling to make my imperfect art in the midst of relationships and responsibilities.

The Quakers say that work is love made visible. That’s what I wanted to give to all my characters: work that, for them, is their love, their deep caring—for life, for the planet, for one another—made visible. But I realize now that in having Addie struggle, and at certain points fail, in the effort to resolve the paradoxes of caring, I was being a bit more realistic. When you care that much, and for that many, it isn’t going to be easy—for you or for the ones you love.

Joyce Hinnefeld


GIVEAWAY: To learn more about In Hovering Flight and the author, Joyce Hinnefeld, visit her website at http://inhoveringflight.com/. To win your free copy, leave a comment on this post telling me why you’d like to win a copy of this book. You can win three bonus entries by 1) tweeting about this contest on Twitter (leave an additional comment here with your Twitter name) and/or 2) subscribing to this blog by RSS or email (leave a comment saying you subscribed) and/or 3) placing the “Susan Heim on Parenting” button on your site (leave a comment with your site’s URL). So, in summary, you may leave up to four comments for four chances to win. LAST DAY TO ENTER: Friday, December 19.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to rosannepm, who is a subscriber! Her comment was randomly selected as the winner.



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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cooking with a Baby on Your Hip -- Book Review


I recently ran across a book that defines “hip” in more ways than one. Not only does it give you fun recipes to make while you’re in the throes of parenting an infant (i.e., always with a baby on your hip!), but the cool design and easy recipes in this book are designed to make you feel “hip and happy”!

Cooking with a Baby on Your Hip is the first of a planned series of books by Francinne Cascio Lawrence, who raised “three spirited and diverse young women who grew from being on her hip to being hip all on their own”! Lawrence is also a nationally recognized educator and consultant to nonprofit organizations focused on serving families. She’s compiled a lovely gift-sized book that combines mouth-watering recipes, a shopping list, hip and adorable illustrations, wonderful words of wisdom and humor from the author, as well as smile-inducing quotes. (“New parents’ cooking rule: If at first you don’t succeed, order pizza.”) Recipes include:

Almost First-Thing-in-the-Morning Shake
Angel Hair Pasta Nirvana
Tiny Truffle Cakes
Poco a Poco Polenta
Halibut Cheeks with Avocado Salsa
Scramble & Wrap
Strawberry Coconut Bubble Tea


And, to pamper the new mama:

Foaming Bath Oil
Honey Banana Balm Facial


Cooking with a Baby on Your Hip provides “just the right ingredients to prove that it is possible to have a baby and still have a life”! I highly recommend it if you’re expecting or have a new baby, or looking for a gift for a new or soon-to-be-new mother. Visit www.BabyonYourHip.com to order your copy!





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Friday, December 05, 2008

Great Giveaway from LittleMissMatched! Fun Products for the Whole Family


I recently became a HUGE fan of LittleMissMatched.com. They have the cutest and coolest products! The first thing I noticed when I went to their site was that they sell toe socks. As a child and teen in the 1970s, I just loved my multi-colored toe socks! Every toe was a different color, and coordinating stripes wrapped around my legs. They were the ultimate in “cool”! LittleMissMatched also sells regular socks, but all of them are sold with a unique twist: They come in packs of three…and none of them are identical! Now you don’t have to deal with the dilemma of what to do when a sock gets lost in the laundry. You have a spare sock! And it doesn’t matter which one gets lost because none of them match anyway. They all coordinate with each other. Best of all, LittleMissMatched has socks for the whole family, from babies to adults.

If socks aren’t your thing, you’ll find many other products to love on LittleMissMatched. They sell bedding, furniture, accessories, books, toys, baby clothes, shirts, pajamas...and much more! Looking for some inexpensive stocking stuffers for the holidays? In addition to socks (which would be a fun surprise in your family’s stockings), they have $7 change purses, $7 shoelaces, and $8 wristlets, and they’re all in their signature funky colors and designs. So if your budget is tight this year, this is the place to go. Socks, hats, scarves and gloves will help your family beat the winter cold, and they’re all under $30. (I’ve included pictures of some of their great stuff with this post.)

The owners of LittleMissMatched have generously agreed to give away a “week’s worth of socks” to one lucky winner! You’ll get three packs of socks in the size of your choice, for a total of nine socks! To qualify, visit www.LittleMissMatched.com and come back to this post to comment on which product you love most. For a second entry, tweet this contest with a link to this page, and leave another comment with your Twitter name. You can get a third entry by subscribing to this blog by email or RSS feed and leaving another comment. Last day of giveaway: December 18, 2008. I’ll randomly pick a winner from among the valid comments posted.

Don’t forget to do your holiday shopping at LittleMissMatched.com! And be sure to sign up for their e-newsletter so you can hear about all of their special deals throughout the year.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to our winner, crystalf!





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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Turner Classic Movies Presents: The Family Classics


I loved all the classic live-action Disney films when I was a kid. My absolute favorite was The Parent Trap (the original 1961 version starring Hayley Mills), which I hold especially dear now since I have twins of my own! I remember chuckling at The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) and The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), crying through Old Yeller (1958), and enjoying the adventures in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and The Love Bug (1968). Recently, I found out that Turner Classic Movies is going to air 26 of these classic movies during the month of December! They will also be featuring a brand-new documentary called The Age of Believing: The Disney Live-Action Classics, narrated by Angela Lansbury and containing interviews of classic Disney stars such as Tim Conway, Dick Van Dyke and Kurt Russell. The shows will run every Sunday during the month of December and begin at noon. The line-up includes:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Noon Treasure Island (1950)
1:45 PM Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
4:00 PM 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
6:15 PM Old Yeller (1958)
8:00 PM The Parent Trap (1961)
10:15 PM Pollyanna (1960)
12:30 AM The Barefoot Executive (1971)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Noon The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1970)
1:45 PM The Strongest Man in the World (1975)
3:30 PM The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)
5:15 PM Son of Flubber (1963)
7:00 PM The Age of Believing: The Disney Live-Action Classics
8:30 PM The Apple Dumping Gang (1975)
10:15 PM The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Noon The Black Hole (1979)
2:00 PM Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
4:00 PM Return from Witch Mountain (1978)
6:00 PM Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
8:00 PM Candleshoe (1977)
10:00 PM Freaky Friday (1976)
11:45 PM The Age of Believing: The Disney Live-Action Classics

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Noon The Shaggy Dog (1959)
2:00 PM The Shaggy D.A. (1976)
4:00 PM The Love Bug (1968)
6:00 PM Herbie Rides Again (1974)
8:00 PM Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977)
9:45 PM Herbie Goes Bananas (1980)
11:30 PM The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973)

I’m getting my TiVo ready so I can tape all these wonderful classics to share with my kids! I encourage you, too, to share them with your family. These are delightful films that deserve to be rediscovered by today’s children. They’re full of fun, adventure, and plenty of magic! You can learn more on the Turner Classic Movies website at www.tcm.com.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Boosting Your Baby's Brain Power -- Giveaway


I’m pleased to announce that today is “launch day” for my new book, Boosting Your Baby’s Brain Power, which I co-authored with Holly Engel-Smothers. I’m so excited about this book, which has lots of great information and tips for new and expectant parents who want to learn how to help their babies reach their full potential. The following is from the book’s preface:

If you’re like most parents, you’ve undoubtedly wondered at one point or another whether your baby’s development is “normal.” You’ve asked yourself questions like, Shouldn’t she be talking by now? When will he roll over? Why isn’t she progressing as quickly as her older brother did? Sure, there are plenty of lists available that tell when your baby should be walking and talking, but very little has been written about how parents and caregivers can play an important part in helping babies reach these critical milestones.

Of course, you can talk to your pediatrician about your concerns—and we encourage you to do so—but these visits are frequently not conducive to getting all the answers you need. At your 10–15-minute appointment, nurses and doctors often work in tag-team fashion to get patients in and out on time, leaving very little leeway for in-depth discussions. So, where can you turn to find out what you really want to know?

After all, getting this information is not just a matter of calming your fears—although that certainly helps. However, it really goes beyond determining whether your baby’s development is on track. In fact, not educating yourself about these crucial developmental milestones could affect your child’s entire future! You see, first-year developments must be met before any more progress and learning is possible in later years. They are the building blocks for life! And any problems relating to development must be addressed while the brain is still young and malleable in order for early intervention to be optimally effective.

The fact is that the first year of life is an extremely vital period of time that lays the foundation for whether your little one will be able to walk, talk, smile, dress herself, draw a picture . . . even get into college! It is an astonishing thing that demands respect from sleep-deprived parents like yourself.

Baby development is not simply a list of “to-dos” or “have dones” to check off. It is a long-term building event, with each day being important in how your baby develops the next day, and each event being important in how your baby develops for the next event. Nourishing food, comfort, face-to-face interaction, tummy time, music, and even the lilt of your voice are all brain developers. It is not a random happening when a milestone is reached. Just like an athlete has to practice his sport in a certain order to build up to the main event, so do infants have to take “baby steps” toward optimal brain development, which is created and driven by experiences with Mommy, Daddy, and caregivers. You play a critical role in your baby’s life because milestones need personal experiences to be reached.

Of course, we all want the best for our baby. We want him to reach his full potential. We want to know how we can help that incredibly complex little brain make all the right connections for a full and fruitful life. And this book will show you how to do just that. Each chapter of Boosting Your Baby’s Brain Power features one of baby’s key developing areas—such as vision, hearing, language, motor skills, and temperament—and shows you how you can help your baby’s brain to grow so that he will excel in these areas. Chapter include:

Chapter 1: Baby’s Got Brains: Jumping Through Vital “Windows of Opportunity”

Chapter 2: Attachment and Baby Brains: Spoiled Rotten Is a Good Thing

Chapter 3: Language: Getting Baby Ready to Read

Chapter 4: Vision: Seeing Is Believing—and Bonding

Chapter 5: Hearing: Little Ears Do Big Things

Chapter 6: Motor Skills: From Crawling to Walking to . . . Watch Out!

Chapter 7: Temperament: Is Your Child a Shrinking Violet or a Thorny Rose?

Chapter 8: Going to the Doctor: Why the Doctor/Patient Relationship Is So Vital

So, are you ready to get started? We hope you are because the earlier you start in engaging in activities that help your baby’s brain, the better for your baby’s development and future progress. Even if your baby is no longer a newborn, it’s never too late to begin helping her to reach critical milestones. We’d venture to say that being a parent is the most important job you will ever do. You are the most influential person in your child’s life, and that begins even before your baby’s birth. And, just as importantly, engaging in play with your baby will build a stronger bond between you and your baby, one that gets your baby off to a great start and a lifetime of memories for both of you.

Boosting Your Baby’s Brain Power is now available at a super-reasonable price from Amazon. It makes a great gift for a friend, relative or teacher who’s pregnant or has a new baby.

I’m also giving away a free autographed copy of the book! Just leave a comment explaining why you’d like to win this book by December 16, and I’ll randomly pick a winner. If you tweet about this contest on Twitter and leave a separate comment with your Twitter name, you’ll receive a second entry. Subscribe to this blog via RSS Feed or email, and earn a third entry by leaving an additional comment!

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to Jinxy and Me, whose extra entry for subscribing was randomly chosen as a winner!

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Friday, November 28, 2008

The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice – Review and Giveaway


My husband is quite a television connoisseur, so he was extremely excited when he heard that the third installment of one of his favorite TV specials, The Librarian, was going to be shown on TNT on Sunday, December 7, 2008, at 8:00 PM (EST). He was even more excited when I got my hands on a preview copy of the film! He popped it into the DVD player as soon as it hit his hands. Fortunately, for both of us, the movie did not disappoint. Mike loved it and said it was even better than the previous one. In case you’re wondering what all the excitement is all about, here’s what happens in the third installment of The Librarian:

The world is in danger of being overrun by vampires, and the only person who can prevent it from happening is Flynn Carsen in the third installment of TNT’s hugely successful Librarian franchise, starring Noah Wyle (ER). THE LIBRARIAN: CURSE OF THE JUDAS CHALICE, co-starring Bob Newhart (Elf, The Bob Newhart Show) and Jane Curtin (Our Town, 3rd Rock from the Sun), sends the bookish hero Flynn to New Orleans, where he tries to undo a nefarious vampire plot and rescue a kidnapped professor (Bruce Davison -– X-Men, Knight Rider) with the help of a beautiful chanteuse (Stana Katic -– Feast of Love).

THE LIBRARIAN: CURSE OF THE JUDAS CHALICE was directed by Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation), who also directed the second Librarian installment, The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines. The story opens with the kidnapping of Professor Lazlo (Davison), a brilliant language and history expert at the University of Bucharest. Elderly and using a crutch to walk, he is taken hostage by a group that wants to force him to locate the Judas Chalice. They hope to use the cup -– which was made from the 30 pieces of silver Judas received for betraying Jesus -– to bring the notorious Prince Vlad Dracul back to life and foist evil on the world.

Meanwhile, Flynn heads to New Orleans for what he hopes will be a vacation. He has been summoned through mysterious dreams by Simone Renoir (Katic), a gorgeous New Orleans jazz club singer. She has made it her mission to keep the location of the Judas Chalice a secret so it won’t fall into the wrong hands. When the secret is accidentally revealed and the cup taken, Flynn and Simone must do everything in their power to prevent Vlad Dracul from casting the entire world into shadow. Helping from the sidelines are Judson (Newhart), the enigmatic and always surprising head of the Library, and Charlene (Curtin), the extremely serious-minded, no-nonsense personnel director.

The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice is action-packed and will keep the whole family riveted to their seats. And if you missed previous installments in the series, you’ll still love this one. Even better, you now have an opportunity to win a copy of The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice on DVD! From now until December 15, 2008, just leave a comment on this blog telling me either what you enjoyed most in the previous Librarian movies, or why you’re looking forward to the third installment, or, if you’re reading this after seeing The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice on December 7 on TNT, then leave a comment telling me your favorite part of the movie. I’ll randomly select a winner after December 15 to win a free DVD copy. (Please make sure you leave a valid email address. If I don’t hear from the winner via email within 5 days, a new winner will be selected.) Learn more about the movie on the TNT website. Good luck!

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to our winner: Charlotte (Life's a Charm!).



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