Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

May all of you have a fun and safe Halloween! I’ll be trick-or-treating with my twin pirates this year!





Friday, October 30, 2009

Join the Hannah’s Socks Holiday Sock Drive This Season


In Toledo, Ohio, on Thanksgiving Day in 2004, four-year-old Hannah Turner helped her mom, Doris, serve food at a local homeless shelter. She saw a man with holes in his shoes and no socks, and she asked her mom if she could offer the man her own socks. The next day, Hannah’s mom took her to buy more socks and distribute them to local shelters. That year, they collected and donated more than 100 pairs of socks in the area. Over the next two years, Hannah distributed nearly 10,000 pairs of socks to shelters with the help of her mother, family and friends. Since then, Hannah’s Socks has collected more than 100,000 pairs of socks for homeless and domestic violence shelters.

The annual Hannah’s Socks Holiday Sock Drive has just been launched this year, with The Clorox Company as its sponsor. Their goal is to gather and donate 10,000 pairs of new socks to underprivileged children’s programs, as well as homeless and domestic violence shelters.

Wouldn’t this be a wonderful project for your family to adopt this holiday season? It would be a simple but powerful way to teach your children about giving to those in need. Your efforts can take many forms:

- Donate socks

- Host a drop box/sock drive

- Donate funds

- Volunteer to sort and distribute socks

- Spread the word via Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth!

Visit www.hannahssocks.org to learn more about how your family can join the Hannah’s Socks Holiday Sock Drive this year!

Twitter: www.twitter.com/hannahssocks (tweet using the hashtag #HannahsSocks)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/hannahssocks



P.S. Thanks to Mom Central for sharing this terrific cause with me!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Help Your Teen Find Potential Universities Through Inside College!


If your child is in high school, no doubt he or she is starting to think about college, especially if they’re a junior or senior. One of my sons is a junior, and he’s already received plenty of college brochures in the mail! He has no idea what he wants to do yet. It’s a really tough choice.

I recently found out about a site called Inside College, which is an online college guide that helps students find schools that best fit their individual lifestyles. Visitors to Inside College can search through hundreds of lists tailored to specialized interests.

It’s really cool! You can look for universities with certain degree programs, sports teams, student populations, financial programs, and much, much more. There are even fun categories, like “colleges for the clothes horse” and “colleges where geek is chic.” Students can search through hundreds of categories, find potential schools, and then retrieve more information about those schools.

Inside College is also offering a monthly $2,000 college scholarship that is open for all to apply. That would be a welcome gift when it comes time to pay for college! Visit Inside College at www.InsideCollege.com. (If you’re a college graduate, search for your alma mater to see what lists it is on. It’s fun!)




Avoiding the Big Binge for Halloween!


Halloween is almost here, and all that candy is certainly hard to resist. It’s easy to forget the high calories associated with candy -- even bite-size candies can add up! CalorieCount.com is a really fun site that helps you to manage your calorie intake. Just plug in the name of your favorite candy, and it displays the nutritional facts for it!

CalorieCount.com also offers weight management tools, social support and nutritional information to help you reach your diet goals. Their philosophy is that every dieter is different, and for a weight-loss program to be successful, it has to be personal and make sense with your lifestyle.

Mary Hartley, R.D., CalorieCount.com’s Director of Nutrition, has some great tips to avoid candy binges at Halloween:

• The best candies are simple sugar creations like lollipops and hard candies (or gummy bears and licorice, although those stick to your teeth!).

• Buy candy at the last minute and make sure it's not your favorite kind so you will not be tempted.

• If you do choose your favorite candy, limit snacking to Halloween night only.

• Become a candy snob. Buy only really good candy (e.g., Godiva Truffles) and savor each piece mindfully. Take a piece, close your eyes, and see how long you can make it last. Think of words to describe the taste sensation.

• Vow to eat only two pieces of Halloween candy every day. Stretch it out until the kids forget about it.

• Play the game of keeping each piece of candy in your mouth for a full minute before swallowing.

• Put the candy in the freezer. Your teeth will break if you try to gobble it down.

• Give away half of the candy to the local Shelter for the Homeless or the Food Bank. Feel the joy of giving.

• Chop up the chocolate candy and bake it into cookies. Throw a little party and serve them to the guests.

• Do not buy the candy on sale on November 1st!

• Save half of the candy for Santa Claus. Santa said he needs the candy as payback for the gifts. Want proof? See how overweight he is!

If you’re struggling to maintain or get to a healthy weight, particularly during Halloween and the holiday season, I encourage you to check out the terrific resources at CalorieCount.com.




Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Please Join Me on Blog Talk Radio's Power Women Magazine to Talk About Our Wild and Wonderful Families!


Do you have a dysfunctional family? Is your family tree filled with plenty of “fruits and nuts”?

You’ll want to join me on Thursday, October 29, at Noon EST where I’ll be talking about my new book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family, with Deb Bailey of Power Women Magazine!

You’re certain to recognize some of your relatives in these tales of wacky and unusual family members.

Please go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/powerwomenmag and join us for the live show or visit the archives later.





MADD: The Power of Parents to Curb Underage Drinking


I’m the mother of two teenagers. One of them has had his driver’s license for several years, and the other will be getting his very soon. Of course, it’s great having two drivers in the family because that means fewer trips for me! But, on the other hand, it’s just another thing to worry about. Will my boys be safe drivers? Will they make good decisions when it comes to driving? We’ve certainly had plenty of discussions with our boys about not texting, talking on the phone and drinking while driving. As a mom, I’d like to think that I’ve taught my sons well, and they wouldn’t drink at their age, especially if they’re going to get behind the wheel. But I know that statistics say that all teens are at risk. Approximately 6,000 people will die this year as a result of underage drinking. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) wants parents to know that this statistic can be drastically reduced by talking to your kids about drinking and driving. In fact, they note, 74% of kids will turn to their parents for advice about drinking.

MADD has just launched a new initiative called The Power of Parents: It’s Your Influence (www.thepowerofparents.org). This program provides parents with the information and tools they need to communicate with their kids about underage alcohol use. For example, they have a quiz to help you assess if your child is drinking, five steps for keeping your teen safe from underage drinking, and resources for helping you to cope with troubled teens or just learn more about them.

Following are seven tips for getting through to your teen:

1. Communicate before a problem starts. Have important discussions now, before there’s blaming, anger, or punishments. Agree on a time to start talking together about the dangers of alcohol.

2. Discuss rules and consequences. Explain how you expect your son or daughter to act, and why. Tell your teen plainly that you don’t want him or her drinking. Agree on consequences of broken rules.

3. Show you care. Gently touch your teen on the arm or back to show affection. Tell your teen you love them and want them to be healthy and safe. Explain that’s why you need to talk together about the dangers of underage drinking.

4. Pay attention. Even when life gets hectic, take time out to listen to your teen. Monitor where your teen is and what your teen is doing, constantly.

5. Share family activities. Have dinner together at least three times a week.

6. Give and get respect. When your teen talks to you, listen and reply respectfully. Insist that your teen treat you with respect, too.

7. Enforce consequences consistently. If your teen breaks the rules, stay calm and enforce the consequences.

You can learn more about MADD’s initiative, The Power of Parents, at www.thepowerofparents.org. You can also visit the following MADD sites:

MADD blog: http://maddparents.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/maddparents
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/MADDs-Power-of-Parents-Its-your-influence/131838435851
Safety Quiz: http://www.madd.org/parents/highschool-drinking2.html
Support 21 Survey: http://support.madd.org/support21

Please talk to your teens now about underage drinking and safe driving. And keep the lines of communication open. It could save lives, including that of your child.





DISCLOSURE: I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of MADD. A donation was made to MADD in my name to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Have a Happy Halloween from Tiger’s Milk! (Giveaway)


Halloween is just around the corner! And if you’re like me, you haven’t bought your Halloween candy yet. Before you do that, Schiff Nutrition would like to suggest an alternative! They’re the makers of Tiger’s Milk bars, nutritional bars that contain 16 vitamins and minerals, as well as up to 10 grams of protein, in each bar.

Their regular size bars (1.23-oz.) are available in 4 delicious flavors:

Protein Rich
Peanut Butter
Peanut Butter & Honey
Peanut Butter Crunch

Their king size bars (1.94-oz) are available in the Protein Rich and Peanut Butter flavors.

But, as everyone knows, nutrition bars should also taste good (so many don’t!), so I wanted to try them. Schiff Nutrition was kind enough to send me samples of all of their flavors, and I thought they were delicious! My kids like them, too, and my husband’s been taking them to the gym. The editors of American Way magazine (Nov. 2008) named Tiger’s Milk bars as one of only six “Most Edible” energy bars (of 30 taste-tested).

You can get Tiger’s Milk bars at many food and convenience stores, including Trader Joe’s, Albertson’s, Ralph’s, Chevron, Meijer, Fred Meyer, and 7-Eleven. Visit www.tigersmilk.com to find a retailer near you.

GIVEAWAY

Schiff Nutrition is generously giving away a box of 24 Tiger’s Milk bars to one lucky winner! To enter, visit www.tigersmilk.com and then leave a comment here telling me which flavor you’d like to try. You must do this to enter the giveaway.

As always, you can earn optional, additional entries by doing any of the following and leaving a separate comment for each:

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting on Networked Blogs. Click on “Follow This Blog” on the left sidebar. Leave a comment for 1 extra entry.

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting through Google Friend Connect. Click on the “Follow” button on the left sidebar. Leave a comment for 1 extra entry.

- Following me on Twitter (@ParentingAuthor) and tweeting about this giveaway. Leave a comment with the URL of your tweet. You may tweet once a day. Please leave a separate comment for each tweet. (It's easy to tweet by using the Bookmark feature at the bottom of this page.)

- Putting a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog (the code is in the upper right-hand column of this site) or a text link on your blog roll. Post a comment with your blog’s URL.

- Posting this giveaway on your blog with a link to this page. Leave a comment with a direct link to the post.

- Listing Susan Heim on Parenting as one of your Favorites on Technorati. (See “Add this Blog to My Technorati Favorites” banner on the left sidebar.) Leave a comment with your Technorati user name.

- Subscribing to Susan Heim on Parenting via email, RSS or Kindle (see sign-up options on left sidebar). Leave a comment for each subscription method.

- Entering the GE Appliance giveaway. Click on the picture of the stove near the top of the left sidebar. Leave a comment on this contest page each time you enter. You can enter daily!

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Tuesday, November 10, 2009, at midnight ET. Please leave an email address on one of your comments if it’s not available on your Blogger profile. Winners must respond within 72 hours or another winner will be drawn. U.S. residents only.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, Alicia Webster!





DISCLOSURE: Schiff Nutrition sent me an assortment of Tiger's Milk bars to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.

A Worldwide Day of Extraordinary Prayer for Children and Schools


Moms In Touch International is hosting Arise! Cry Out!, a worldwide day of extraordinary prayer for children and schools on November 14.

What is Moms In Touch? This is from their website:

Are you a mom who deeply loves her children and longs for them to grow up to be loving, confident and successful? Do you fear that influences outside your control will steal their hearts? You are not alone …

Fern Nichols is a mom just like you. When her sons entered junior high, she had the same apprehensions. But overriding those fears was a deep trust that God, and only God, could protect and keep her children. Only God could change the lives of friends and coaches and teachers. She knew that if moms gathered together to cry out to God for the needs and concerns of children and schools, that He would not only hear those prayers, but answer them.

Fern called like-minded moms who gathered each week to pray for their children and school, and thus began the first Moms In Touch group. What started so simply in 1984 has grown into a worldwide community of praying moms in every state and in more than 120 countries around the world.

Moms In Touch International is:

• Two or more moms who meet regularly to pray for their children, their schools, their teachers and administrators.

• Mothers, grandmothers or anyone who is willing to pray for a specific child and school.

• Moms who believe that prayer makes a difference.

Visit www.MomsInTouch.org for details about their organization and the Arise! Cry Out! event on November 14.





Monday, October 26, 2009

Pledge to Make More Time for Kids by Joining Frigidaire and Jennifer Garner for the “Make Time for CHANGE” Campaign (Giveaway)


About a month ago, I was one of the bloggers chosen to announce the new spokesperson for Frigidaire’s new campaign: Jennifer Garner! To refresh your memory, this new campaign has two goals: to introduce you to Frigidaire’s new time-saving appliances, and 2) to encourage you to spend more time with children and support a worthy cause.

Here’s how it works: Go to http://make-time-for-change.com/ and simply make a pledge to find extra time for a child on November first. Why November first? That’s the day we move our clocks back and gain an extra hour -- time that can be spent helping a child.

For every pledge they receive, Frigidaire will donate $1 to support the CHANGE (Creating Healthy, Active, and Nurturing Growing-up Environments) program and Save the Children’s efforts to help needy children. Save the Children promotes healthier lifestyles for children who live in poverty by providing nutritious snacks and opportunities for physical activity.

Your pledge will also enter you into a drawing for a chance to win a new Frigidaire Professional double wall oven! And if you purchase one of these ovens, Frigidaire will donate $100 to Save the Children’s U.S. programs. In fact, they’ve committed $250,000 in total to this terrific cause.

So, if you haven’t done so already, please go to http://make-time-for-change.com/ and join Jennifer Garner and Frigidaire in helping kids.




Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dear Santa, Please Bring me a nook for Christmas!


A wireless eBook reader is on my Christmas list this year, so I was really excited to get the news that Barnes & Noble has a brand-new one called a nook! I haven’t seen one yet (they start shipping at the end of November), but it looks amazing! Here are some of the features:

Easy Reading

The nook is about the size and weight of a regular paperback book! The E Ink Vizplex display is very easy on the eyes, with clear and crisp text, just like a book! You can adjust the text size, and there’s no glare or backlight.

Color Display

I love how it displays the covers of your books in color at the bottom of the screen. Just scroll through the covers and pick a book!

Wireless Downloads


You can browse and instantly download eBooks, magazines and newspapers on AT&T’s 3Gwireless network. There is no set-up required and no additional wireless costs. The AT&T Wi-Fi network is free at Barnes & Noble stores.

Lend to a Friend

You can lend your eBooks to your friends for free for up to 14 days! Just send it to your friend’s nook, iPhone, iPod touch, PC or Mac, or select BlackBerry and Motorola smartphones using B&N’s eReader software.

Bookmarks

You can always go right back to the last book you were reading and find exactly where you left off. And if you left your nook at home, you can pick up your iPhone with your eReader software installed and be reunited with your book at exactly the same spot!

Lots of Storage

The nook can hold up to 1,500 eBooks and other printed content. And you can expand the memory. A 16GB MicroSD card can hold up to 17,500 eBooks!

Photos and PDFs

I really like that the nook also reads PDF-format documents. Imagine how handy this will be for business, when so many documents are transmitted in PDF. You can also transfer your favorite photos and create custom screensavers.

Accessories

The nook has a removable back cover that you can swap out with one of four additional colors. There are also a range of accessories available, like covers and lights.

Great Content

B&N’s eBookstore currently has over a million titles available. Most bestsellers and new releases are only $9.99. More than 20 newspapers and a wide range of magazines are also available.

Barnes & Noble’s nook will begin shipping at the end of November, but they’re taking pre-orders now at www.nook.com. It’s competitively priced at $259 with free shipping! You can also watch a very helpful video about the nook.

So, Santa, if you’re reading this, please bring me a nook! I really, really want one for Christmas!







DISCLOSURE: No product samples or compensation were provided for this review. I have not tried this product yet, so consider this post informational and not an endorsement.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is Your Child Safe in the Car?


In September, I wrote to tell you about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Child Passenger Safety Week. Even though the use of child safety seats is at an all-time high -- 99 percent of children ages 0-12 months old were secured last year, as were 92 percent of children ages 1-3 years old and 89 percent of 4-7-year-olds -- three out of every four seats are used incorrectly.

Therefore, the NHTSA would like parents to know that there are wonderful resources available for free all year round to help them make safe choices about car seats and to use their car seats properly for maximum safety. They include:

- Twitter: An actual safety expert mans the @ChildSeatSafety account on Twitter, and they will continue to answer any questions that parents have about child passenger safety.

- Facebook: NHTSA has a Facebook page at http://facebook.com/childpassengersafety where parents can learn about everything from the LATCH program to locating inspection offices.

- Website: The Ad Council and the NHTSA have created a site with all the resources parents need to keep their smallest passengers safe at http://childcarsafety.adcouncil.org/. You can find your local inspection station, watch instructional videos, and even take a fun quiz!

Please click on the brief video below for valuable information on child passenger safety! (Email readers, please click on the title of this article to access the video on my blog.)






Surf Sweets Offers Great Ways to Celebrate a Green Halloween!


Back in March, I reviewed delicious Surf Sweets products -- naturally sweetened gummy candies and jelly beans. My family loves them! For Halloween, Surf Sweets has teamed up with Green Halloween, a non-profit grassroots initiative that strives to create healthier and more Earth-friendly holidays. They’ve created a fun party guide that parents and kids can use to make their own Green Halloween celebration.

The Surf Sweets downloadable Green Halloween party guide provides great party planning tips, fun party activities, and three new Surf Sweets Halloween treat recipes that are so delicious they’ll make ghosts boast and ghouls drool.

Among the many great Green Halloween party tips offered are:

- Plan for only enough food and drinks as you need to minimize waste -- make a list before you go shopping

- Make “treat & treasure” bags from recycled goods or old pillow cases

- Consider using decorative items from nature -- pumpkins, gourds, apples, hay, corn

- Compost all food scraps and natural d├ęcor items. Pizza boxes and other food- contaminated paper and cardboard items may also be composted or included in yard waste

- Recycle aluminum cans, water bottles, cups, paper goods, food containers and more

- Use healthier, non-toxic cleaning supplies, such as vinegar and water

Surf Sweets’ three delicious new Halloween treats include Popcorn Candy Worm Cake, Mummy Gummys and Witch’s Cauldrons. Each recipe with a photo, and videos with step-by-step instructions for preparing each treat, is available on the Surf Sweets website at www.surfsweets.com/fun/php.

This year, I hope you have a happy Green Halloween!




Small Talk Six: In-Laws and Outlaws


This week’s topic on Small Talk Six is “6 things (good or bad) that you credit your mother-in-law for.” (What’s Small Talk Six? Click here to find out.) This is very timely for me because my in-laws happen to be visiting from Alaska right now! I really like my mother-in-law, so you won’t be reading too many complaints here…

1. She trained my husband to do housework. He does laundry, cleans, cooks… I’m really fortunate that he helps out with these things because I hate to do them!

2. She doesn’t offer advice unless it’s asked for. She’s never been nosy or interfering.

3. She is strong in her faith. I never really enjoyed going to church until I met my husband and started attending his church. Now it’s a big part of my life and has been a wonderful influence on my children.

4. She’s always in a good mood. She doesn’t hold grudges or get upset about things. She’s peaceful to have around.

5. She encouraged my husband to be successful in life. Even though she and my father-in-law never went to college, she had a very successful business career. There was no question that my husband would go to college and value education.

6. Here’s the one negative… She’s too perfect! Sometimes, I feel like I don’t live up to my husband’s expectations because he would like me to do things as well as his mom does. He got a little spoiled by her good cooking, etc., and doesn’t always understand why I’m not the same.

So, now it’s your turn! Leave a comment on this post describing some of “things (good or bad) that you credit your mother-in-law for.” And then click HERE to find links to other bloggers’ Small Talk Six lists for the week.