Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions for Parents

NOTE FROM SUSAN: New Year’s resolutions can be tough to keep, but the following resolutions for parents are definitely worth striving for. They’re easy to do, but they can make a significant impact on your child and the quality of your family’s life. Thanks to ParentingCounts.org for contributing this timely article.
“Resolution day” (January 1st) is almost here. Are you ready? Have you decided on your resolutions? For parents, every year offers new joys and challenges. Here are a few ideas for increasing the joy – and preparing for the challenges – of parenting in 2010.
Love your child for who they are.
Every child is unique with different temperaments and different interests. Every day they are learning and growing – and the new year is a perfect time to take a new look at what makes your child special. You can support them as they struggle to master more difficult skills and celebrate their unique successes with them.
Be a part of playtime.
Play is how young children learn about the world and practice new cognitive, emotional, and social skills. A parent can learn a lot about their child’s developing skills and interests by participating in their play. Your questions, ideas, and attention support your child’s curiosity and creativity. Play interactions with you can also help them to develop skills to use when they are playing alone or with peers.
Talk about feelings.
Understanding and managing feelings is one of the hardest skills children under 5 have to tackle. So respect what they are feeling by recognizing their emotions, listening to their thoughts and helping them to work through their emotions.
Be an example.
Though your voice, your expressions, your gestures and your actions, your child learns from you how to interact with other people and with the world. You are in a wonderful position to set a positive example for everything from solving problems to showing compassion to buckling seatbelts.
Create routines and stick to them.
Children respond to the expected. If you create a bedtime routine that has 3 steps and you do the same things every night, your child finds comfort in knowing what comes next and will respond in positive ways as a result of sticking to the plan.
Make mealtime special.
Whenever possible, make mealtime a time to be together and enjoy a healthy meal. This not only develops a good pattern for eating, but it creates an opportunity to connect as a family.
Make books a part of your child’s life.
Make reading fun. Cuddle up. Let your child choose the books. By reading to your children, you are helping them to increase their vocabulary, inspiring their imagination, and setting the groundwork for a love of reading.
ParentingCounts.org combines comprehensive research with a secure journal for recording children's development and for sharing milestones and achievements with friends and family. The Parenting Counts Center provides research-based information from Talaris Institute on early child development, brain development and parenting -- all in an easy-to-use format. For more research-based parenting information please visit www.parentingcounts.org.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Have Fun on New Year’s Eve … but Be Safe, Too

I never go out for New Year’s Eve because I’m always nervous about being involved in an accident. I’ve quoted these statistics before, but they’re worth repeating: In 2008, nearly 12,000 people in the U.S. were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. And the numbers are particularly high around Christmas and New Year’s.

Women are just as likely to drive drunk as men are. In 2007, 162,493 women were arrested for a DUI, an increase of almost 29% since 1998. Please watch the following video of Emily’s story. She’s just a regular mom, like you and me, who got arrested for drunk driving.



(Email subscribers may need to click onto my blog to view this video.)

If you’re going to be out and about this New Year’s, please pick a driver who isn’t going to be drinking. And be extra careful on the roads because many people won’t heed this advice. And if you think that “just a little alcohol won’t impair me,” think again. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) and the Ad Council want you to know that buzzed driving is drunk driving. It only takes a little bit to impair your judgment and get you a DUI.

I encourage you to follow Buzzed Driving on Twitter (@buzzeddriving) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/buzzeddrivingisdrunkdriving) to get the latest updates and news. You can also visit the Buzzed Driving website (http://buzzeddriving.adcouncil.org/) to sign a pledge to not drive buzzed, play an interactive game that demonstrates the difference between buzzed and drunk, and hear personal stories from people who have driven buzzed. What a great example this would set for your kids! And if you have teen drivers, please get them to visit this site and/or watch the video above.

At holiday events, it’s easy to lose track of a drink here or there, but this can be fatal. This holiday season, keep you and your family safe by spreading this message: Buzzed driving is drunk driving.





Simple & Surprising: A New e-Journal from Clorox – and Win a Clorox Prize Pack! (Giveaway)


I’m excited to tell you about Clorox.com’s brand-new e-journal called Simple & Surprising! Each month, they invite a new guest blogger to share her own real-life moments, along with reality-checked tips to help tackle your own challenges. Readers are also offered a chance to engage in the discussion each month and win a prize!

Just go to http://www.clorox.com/our_story/understanding_bleach/simpleandsurprising.php to read the latest post. December’s post is by Anne-Marie Nichols from This Mama Cooks! In the spirit of the holidays, Anne-Marie shares her take on baking cookies with the kids and ways to simplify the cleanup, whether it’s a big holiday meal or a weeknight dinner. And don’t forget to check back in January to find out if the 5-second rule is really worth following. (I’ve always wondered about that!)

GIVEAWAY

Clorox has also generously offered two readers of this blog the opportunity to win a Clorox Simple & Surprising Prize Pack that includes various Clorox cleaning products! To enter, visit the Simple & Surprising e-journal at http://www.clorox.com/our_story/understanding_bleach/simpleandsurprising.php and come back here to leave a comment on this post about something you learned on the site or something you really liked about it.

You can earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following me (@ParentingAuthor) and Clorox (@Clorox) on Twitter and tweeting about the new Simple & Surprising e-journal or this giveaway. You may do this twice a day. Leave a separate comment with the URL of each tweet. (It’s easy to tweet this giveaway by using the Bookmark button at the bottom of this post.)

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

- Putting a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog (the code is in the upper right-hand column of this site) and/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. (3 entries; leave a separate comment for each)

- 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 and/or Kindle (see sign-up options on left sidebar). Leave a comment for each subscription method.

Two winners will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Friday, January 8, 2010, at midnight ET. Please leave an email address on one of your comments if it’s not available on your Blogger profile. Winner must respond within 72 hours or another winner will be drawn. U.S. addresses only.

CONTEST CLOSED.
Congratulations to the two winners: Deane and Amanda!





DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation for posting this review and giveaway.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Save the Sippies! (Giveaway)


Have you ever thrown away a sippy cup because the straw got moldy or impossible to clean? I have! In fact, I’ve thrown away a lot of cups over the years and even quit buying those with straws because I was never confident that they were getting clean inside.

Not surprisingly, an enterprising mom – Jennifer Reyes – set out to solve this problem when she got tired of replacing sippy cups! Jennifer is the inventor of the Sippy Straw Cleaner, a tiny brush that is small enough to fit inside straws and really get them clean!

And Jennifer really did her research. Her Sippy Straw Cleaner is FDA-approved, BPA-free, meets all the requirements of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and fits all major brands of sippy straw cups!

The Sippy Straw Cleaner is made of a nylon bristle tip, a stainless-steel rust-free wire stem, and a polypropelene handle so that it’s easy to hold. And there’s even more good news: A Sippy Straw Cleaner package comes with TWO cleaners and only costs $3.98! (By not having to replace just one sippy cup, you’ve already paid for your new brushes.) I received a package to use myself, and they are awesome. The Sippy Straw Cleaner really does enable you to get inside those straws and scrub away!

You can purchase this award-winning product and get more information at www.strawcleaner.com. Or just click on the banner below!



GIVEAWAY

Jennifer is also generously offering a complimentary Sippy Straw Cleaner (with two brushes) to one lucky reader of this blog! As your required entry, please visit www.strawcleaner.com and leave a comment on this post about something interesting you learned on the site. You must do this first step to enter the giveaway.

You can earn optional additional entries by:

- Following me (@ParentingAuthor) and Sippy Straw Cleaner (@sippystrawclean) on Twitter and tweeting about this giveaway. Leave a comment with the URL of your tweet. You may tweet twice a day. Please leave a separate comment for each tweet. (It’s easy to retweet by using the Bookmark button at the bottom of this post.)

- Becoming a fan of Sippy Straw Cleaner on Facebook. Leave a comment letting me know that you joined.

- Putting a Sippy Straw Cleaner button or banner on your blog or website and leave a comment with your URL. You can get the code at http://www.strawcleaner.com/pages/SAVEthesippies.htm.

- ***FIVE ENTRIES*** Purchasing an item from www.strawcleaner.com. You’ll receive 5 extra entries for each item you purchase! Please leave five separate comments.

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

- Posting this giveaway on your blog with a link to this page. Leave a comment with a direct link to the post. (3 entries; leave a separate comment for each)

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Friday, January 15, 2010, at midnight ET. Please leave an email address on one of your comments if it’s not available on your Blogger profile. Winner must respond within 72 hours or another winner will be drawn. U.S. addresses only.

CONTEST CLOSED.
Congratulations to the winner, tattwo!





DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary Sippy Straw Cleaner to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Your Favorite Holiday Photo Could Win Money for You and Your Local Food Bank!


Did you take an adorable picture of your kids opening their gifts this Christmas? Or a snapshot of the family pooch napping under the tree? Perhaps you have a treasured photo from Hanukkah or another family gathering. Now, your favorite holiday photos will not only warm your heart, but could also warm your wallet!

With DOLE’s “Share the Goodness” contest, you can enter for a chance to win $5,000 for yourself and $5,000 for your local Food Bank. Through the virtual DOLE mosaic poster, you can easily upload your favorite holiday photo to enter to win the contest. Even if you don’t enter the contest, you should log on to visit the mosaic. It’s very cool as it’s created by thousands of photos!


Their website also features great recipes using DOLE Canned Fruit to include in holiday and everyday meals. After you register, you can send an eCard to family and friends to let them know about the contest and to gain extra entries. You can also gain multiple entries by uploading up to 20 photos (5 per day). And if a friend you referred is the grand prize winner, you also win $2,000!

Hurry and enter for a chance to win by going to www.DoleShares.com. The last day to enter is December 31, 2009!




Saturday, December 26, 2009

Small Talk Six: Hopes and Dreams for 2010


This week’s topic on Small Talk Six is “6 things you are looking forward to in 2010”! (What’s Small Talk Six? Click here to find out.) Here are 6 things I hope to achieve this coming year!

1. I’m hoping to start writing my first fiction book in 2010. I’ve had 7 nonfiction books published so far, but I have always dreamed of writing fiction. So, I’m hoping that I’ll at least make significant headway on it in 2010, even if it’s not published until the following year.

2. I’m hoping we can start looking for a new house. Our house is very small for four kids, two parents, and two home offices. I’m extremely grateful we have a nice home and a low mortgage, but I’ve been dreaming forever of finding my “dream home.” I hope this will be the year when we can make that happen since housing prices are low.

3. I look forward to seeing my children grow and mature. My oldest son will be more than halfway through college in 2010. My second oldest will turn 18 and start his last year of high school. And my twins will finish up their first year of elementary school. They’re all growing up so fast. It will be interesting to see what the year holds for them.

4. I’m hoping to be able to figure out what I want to spend my time doing. I feel like I’m being pulled in ten different directions right now. So, I hope to find some focus in 2010, and shed those things that aren’t a productive or enjoyable use of my time.

5. I'd like to see more movies and read more books. I usually choose working instead of relaxing with a good book or movie. I hope to give myself permission to just enjoy life more this year.

6. I’d love to take a vacation. We recently went to Disney World for a few days, but that was the first vacation we’ve had in years, and that was more for the twins. I would love to go someplace new that I’ve never explored before.

So, now it’s your turn! Leave a comment on this post describing some of the “things you are looking forward to in 2010.” And then click HERE to find links to other bloggers’ Small Talk Six lists for the week.




Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Story

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
(Luke 2:1-20 NIV)





Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Try the Lighter, Safer, Greener Technology in Eyeglass Lenses from Airwear!


I’ve written about “green products” before, but I never knew until recently that you can also get eco-friendly eyeglass lenses! They’re made by Essilor, and they’re called Airwear. They use 100% recyclable cardboard made from 100% wooden fibers in their packaging. And all Airwear lenses are manufactured using 100% recycled water. The waste produced from making Airwear lenses is then used to make things like cars and toys.

And here’s even greater news: Airwear lenses are 30% lighter, 25% thinner, and more scratch- and impact-resistant than traditional lenses. They’re a polycarbonate lens, which is the same material they use to make CDs, DVDs and bulletproof glass. NASA uses the same material to make visors for astronauts!

Fortunately, Mom Central arranged for me to try a pair of Airwear lenses. I went to Sears and purchased a new pair of frames. (I’m terrible at choosing things for myself, so I asked the salesperson to select them for me! You can see the results at right.) Then I sent the frames into Airwear along with my prescription. My frames and lenses were returned to me, and I’ve been wearing them ever since! I went back over to Sears to have the frames adjusted on my face, and I asked them to check the accuracy of my prescription. I was told that Airwear got my prescription exactly right!

I haven’t yet had any serious accidents with my Airwear lenses, but I know that it’s only a matter of time with my boys…! I can’t wait to see how the lenses hold up. And I also have to mention that they’re extremely light. My glasses don’t feel heavy at all with my Airwear lenses. But that doesn’t mean they’re not strong. Airwear says their lenses are virtually unbreakable, which can help prevent eye injuries. And Airwear lenses provide 100% protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Don’t Airwear lenses sound perfect for a busy mom or dad like you? If you’re ready to replace your old, scratched-up lenses, I encourage you to visit www.airwear.com to learn more about the technologically advanced Airwear lenses. You can get Airwear lenses at most eyecare professionals across the United States, and they’re available in Single Vision and Progressive prescriptions. I’m really glad I got mine!





DISCLOSURE: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Airwear and received a pair of Airwear eyeglass lenses to thank me for taking the time to participate. I purchased the frames at my own cost.

Readeez Is Giving Out Free DVDs to New Facebook Fans!


Just a quick note to let you know that Readeez is offering new fans on their Facebook page a free Readeez Appetizer DVD!

What is Readeez? A Readeez is a short video that semi-magically teaches reading. The secret? The words you hear are the words you see. Readeez teach phonics and sight words in a natural, memorable, enjoyable way. They’re learning disguised as smiling!

More than 50 of their videos can be viewed on their Facebook page. They are extremely creative and cute! I’m going to be doing a more formal review of their products in the near future, but I wanted you to know about the DVD giveaway before they’re all gone.

Just go to http://facebook.com/Readeez and click on “Become a Fan.” And check out their awesome videos (on the Video Tab) while you’re there!




Kmart’s Extended Hours and Bluelight Specials!


Do you still have some last-minute holiday shopping to do? No worries! Kmart has extended their shopping hours to 6am-12am through December 23rd and 6am-10pm on December 24th!

And here are the Bluelight Specials for this weekend (12/26 to 12/27) if you received some cash or gift certificates for Christmas that you'd like to spend:

• Gen gemstone earrings (reg. $39.99) sale price: $9.99

• Mushabellies (reg. $24.99) sale price: $7.99

• Digital Photo Keychain (reg. $19.99) sale price: $8.99

And if you’ve been joining in on Kmart’s Twitter contest, just a reminder that the last day to enter the #KmartBLS sweepstakes is December 23. So keep the tweets coming and use the #KmartBLS hashtag before the contest is over! All those following @KmartDealsnNews on December 23rd will be entered to win the Grand Prize of a $500 Kmart shopping spree! The winner will be drawn on the 30th. For full details, make sure to check out http://tr.im/kmartbls Good luck!




Enter to Win $5,000 from LuShae Jewelry


LuShae Jewelry asked me to help spread the word about a terrific new contest they’re running where they’re giving away $5,000 cash (to spend anywhere you want)!

To enter: Simply display one of their jewelry badges on your blog, website or social profile page. That’s it! You will be automatically entered each and every month. The giveaway is open to all countries.

Each month, they will do a random drawing to give away $200. And on October 1, 2010, they will do their annual drawing for $5,000! All you need to do to qualify is leave their badge on your site.

Plus, every entrant will also receive a 15% discount off the entire LuShae Jewelry range. (And they have some beautiful jewelry … check it out!)

Just click HERE to grab a button and enter your contact information. Good luck!




Monday, December 21, 2009

Make Math Fun for Kids with Munchkin Math DVDs


Ask any child what her favorite subject is in school and she probably won’t say “math”! I remember math as being a rather “dry” subject when I was in school. I did well in it, but I really didn’t find it interesting. But Wendy Miller, a teacher and mom of three boys, is out to change math’s boring perception. She developed a series of fun DVDs for kids called Munchkin Math!

Munchkin Math DVDs are targeted to preschool and early-elementary school children, and are based on a program called Standout Math, a curriculum that is taught in more than 30 states. These videos use a multi-sensory approach—auditory, visual, and kinesthetic—to help kids not only understand math concepts, but also remember them. Check out the preview below of one of the Munchkin Math DVDs:



Currently, there are three different Munchkin Math titles: Shapes!, Telling Time!, and Counting Money! Unfortunately, my review copy was delayed in the holiday mail, but I logged on to YouTube to get a preview of these fun DVDs. I found them to be a very engaging way to introduce young children to math concepts and hopefully encourage a life-long love of math!

I encourage you to visit www.MunchkinMath.com to learn more about these terrific DVDs, watch a video preview, and order one or more for your child. If your son or daughter is already in school, Munchkin Math DVDs are a valuable way to supplement what they are learning in the classroom. (And they won’t feel like homework!)





DISCLOSURE: I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Munchkin Math and was sent a sample DVD to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central also sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Calling All December Babies! America’s Cutest Last-Minute Tax Deduction


I’ve been fortunate to have three December babies! My oldest son and my twins were all born in December. It’s not so great having to buy birthday gifts along with shopping for Christmas, but I was lucky to squeeze in last-minute tax deductions in the years of their birth! Considering that the typical family spends more than $221,000 raising a child through age 17, every little bit helps!

MomSelect just informed me that TurboTax®, the nation’s No. 1 rated, best-selling tax preparation software from Intuit Inc., is conducting its third annual nationwide search for America's Cutest Last-Minute Tax Deduction. The parents of one lucky baby, born in December 2009, will win $5,000!

To enter, parents or legal guardians should submit a photo of their baby born between December 1-31, 2009, to www.cutesttaxdeduction.com. The deadline for submissions is January 7, 2010. Judges will select 10 finalists, and America will determine America's Cutest Last-Minute Tax Deduction and the $5,000 grand prize winner!

Now, why didn’t they have this contest during the years that my boys were born? I know they would have been voted America’s Cutest Last-Minute Tax Deduction!





DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary baby onesie as a thank-you for spreading the word about this contest. I sent it to my brand-new baby niece!

The Dog Who Saved Christmas! A New Fun Family Film


If you still have some shopping left to do, I have a great idea for something that the whole family will enjoy. It’s a new DVD called The Dog Who Saved Christmas! It has an all-star cast that includes Dean Cain, Gary Valentine, Elisa Donovan, Adrienne Barbeau, and Mario Lopez … although you never get to see Mario’s heart-stopping dimples because he’s the voice of a dog!

The Dog Who Saved Christmas is the story of Zeus, a yellow Labrador who is put up for adoption after he can no longer work as a K9 dog because he’s lost his bark. He’s adopted by the Bannister family, but is almost returned to the animal shelter when they discover his disability. You see, there has been a rash of robberies in the neighborhood, and they wanted Zeus for protection. The kids and their dad fall in love with Zeus, but the mother was never crazy about having a dog in the first place, so she’s ready to return him. (There’s also that disgusting habit that he has of drinking out of the toilet!)

Before Zeus is returned, the family heads out of town to visit Grandma and leaves Zeus home alone. Now, this is when the movie really reminds me of Home Alone because two bumbling idiots attempt to rob the house, and Zeus manages to scare them off by throwing a bag of flour and Christmas ornaments at them! While the thieves are out to prepare for another attempt at breaking into the house, Zeus has an encounter with the neighbor, otherwise known as the “Crazy Cat Lady.” She tells Zeus that she was once afraid of dogs because one had attacked her, but she learned to overcome her fear. She thought that Zeus also had a traumatic event in his past that caused him to lose his voice. When Zeus finally faces his fears and is able to bark, he manages to finish the job he started with the burglars, who are captured when the family returns home. Needless to say, the Bannister family decides that Zeus is a good guard dog—as well as a beloved family pet—and they decide to keep him!

I watched this movie with one of my six-year-old twins, and he really liked it a lot. It’s a great family movie because kids love dog stories, and it teaches them a lesson about conquering their fears, celebrating differences, and rooting for the “underdog”! Originally shown on ABC Family, The Dog Who Saved Christmas is now available on DVD. This movie would be an excellent addition to your family’s holiday movie collection.






DISCLOSURE: I received a Screener DVD of The Dog Who Saved Christmas to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.