Saturday, January 30, 2010

Find Your Dream Job with “Conversations: Find Your Niche!” (Book Review and Giveaway)


When I was in high school, I really had no idea what I wanted to do for a living. I loved reading and writing, but I was told by many people at that time that if I majored in English or Literature in college, the only career I could have was in teaching. As much as I admire and respect teachers (my sister and sister-in-law are both teachers), it just didn’t seem like the right fit for me then. I heard that accountants made good money, and that there would always be a need for them, so I decided to major in accounting. But when I really got into my core accounting classes in college, I realized that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life crunching numbers and filling out tax forms. Still clueless about what I wanted to do, I switched to Business Administration, figuring it was broad enough to encompass a variety of careers. Now, more than 20 years after my college graduation, I make my living as an editor and writer! I’m doing exactly what I loved in high school. I just wish I’d followed my heart instead of other people’s advice and pursued it through college. I definitely would have enjoyed my studies more and might have been able to start my writing career much sooner than I did.

My oldest son is very fortunate because he’s known for a long time that he wants to be an engineer, and now he’s studying engineering in college and absolutely loves it. However, my second son, a junior in high school, is following in my footsteps in terms of having no idea what he wants to do with his life! I’m hoping it doesn’t take him as long to find his choice of career as it did for me! Fortunately, there are many more tools available today to help people figure out where their aptitudes and interests lie. One excellent resource is the book, Conversations: Find Your Niche!, which was compiled and edited by Van Twelves and published by Keeper Press.

The book starts out by telling us why it’s so important to find your passion. “You might think that career planning is a bore, but that process is downright thrilling compared to spending forty years in a career meant for someone else.” How many people do you know who hate their jobs or wish they’d done something else? According to this book, “Nearly three-fourths of American workers wish they had a different job.” Are you one of them? Or do you fear that you will end up in a job you dislike? Read on…

Conversations: Find Your Niche! introduces a procedure called the Find Your Niche Roadmap, which helps greatly in the decision-making process. But the real meat of the book is a series of 150 interviews with people in all walks of life. These people range from a jewelry store manager to a financial analyst, from a civil engineer to a flight attendant, and from an elementary school principal to a senior graphic designer. They are asked to describe their job and their duties, what they like and dislike about their job, the skills and education required for their job, the opportunities involved, and much more. There’s also a section for each occupation that provides the typical education level required, the annual salary range, and the job description. This book is a goldmine of information to help people learn about all sorts of occupations -- perhaps in areas that they never even thought about!

And Conversations: Find Your Niche! isn’t just for teenagers. It’s for anyone who is at a crossroads and seeking a new career or direction for their lives. If you no longer enjoy what you do, or have been laid off and feel you’re ready for a career change, this book will be of great benefit to you. And this huge 600-page book is available for only $19.95 on Amazon! That is a major bargain for this extremely comprehensive and helpful book.



GIVEAWAY

My high-schooler is getting my copy of Conversations: Find Your Niche!, but I have another copy to give away to one lucky reader! To enter, go to www.keeperpress.com and leave a comment here mentioning something that you learned on the site. You must do this to enter the giveaway.

You may earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following me (@ParentingAuthor) and KeeperPress (@keeperpress) on Twitter and tweeting about 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.

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Sunday, February 14, 2010, 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. addresses only.

CONTEST CLOSED.
Congratulations to the winner, windycindy!





DISCLOSURE: I received two complimentary copies of this book -- one to facilitate this review and one to give away to one lucky reader! No other compensation was provided.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Emmitt Smith and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) Are Teaming Up to Prevent Sports-Related Injuries Among Kids


NOTE FROM SUSAN: Sports-related injuries are very common among children. My oldest son required stitches in his forehead when he was pushed into a wall during a basketball game, and my niece and nephew have had several broken bones and teeth between them while engaged in sports. As you’ll read below, kids and sports are often a dangerous combination, especially if proper safety equipment isn’t used. The following information comes from the American Association of Orthodontists, which is working with football hero Emmitt Smith to spread the word about ensuring that kids use mouth guards and other safety equipment while playing sports.

Kids are at risk for serious injuries on the playing field, but coaches and parents are standing on the sidelines. Mouth guards are a small piece of safety gear that can provide big protection, but not all athletes are heeding this warning. To get the message out, former football great and father of four, Emmitt Smith, has teamed with the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) for a sport safety campaign. The campaign works to educate parents, coaches and kids on the importance of using facial protection during organized and recreational sports.

Injuries can happen at any age or skill level – More than half of the seven million sports- and recreation-related injuries that occur each year are sustained by youth between ages 5 and 24. (From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Collision and contact sports have higher injury rates, and mouth guards should be worn in all contact sports. Specifically, baseball, soccer, basketball and football account for about 80% of all sports-related emergency room visits for children between 5 and 14 years of age. (From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Mouth guard use is very low – 67% of parents surveyed said that their child does not wear a mouth guard – yet, 70% said that their biggest fear when their child plays organized sports is that they will get hurt. (From the AAO)

One out of every four (27%) parents surveyed said their child has sustained an injury during an organized sport that resulted in a trip to the emergency room. (From the AAO)

Most coaches and leagues are not advising the use of mouth guards
– Of the parents whose children do not wear a mouth guard during organized sports, including practice, 84% said it’s because the league or coach does not require it. (From the AAO)

Hard hits occur no matter what the sport
– The average high school baseball pitcher can throw a fast ball between 75-85 miles per hour. At this rate, being hit in the mouth with a baseball can be compared to being hit in the mouth by a speeding car on the highway. (From eFastball.com)

Cheerleading is one of the most dangerous sports for women, accounting for 65% of all catastrophic injuries in high school girls’ athletics. (From MSNBC.com)

Children with braces need to wear mouth guards – One out of every three (31%) parents reported that their child had orthodontic treatment or braces while playing an organized sport. (From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Lacerations can easily be sustained if an orthodontic patient’s mouth comes in contact with a ball or the ground and is not properly protected.

Some mouth and jaw injuries can result in a lifetime of orthodontic work to correct damage that could have easily been avoided.

Below are tips from the AAO on how young athletes can better protect their face and smile while on the court, field or ice.

Wear a mouth guard.
Mouth guards can help prevent jaw, mouth and teeth injuries and are less costly than repairing damage caused by a collision or fall. For athletes with braces, discuss with your orthodontist the best type of mouth guard for your sport and any additional safety precautions necessary to avoid lacerations or dental trauma.

Wear a helmet. Helmets absorb the energy of an impact. Helmets should be worn for recreational activities like biking, skateboarding and in-line skating as well. To find out more on the helmet laws in your state, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website.

Wear protective eyewear.
Eyes are extremely vulnerable to injury during sports like soccer, baseball and hockey. Injuries can be caused by flying objects or by a fellow athlete’s elbow.

Wear a face shield
to avoid scratched or bruised skin. Hockey pucks, basketballs and racquetballs can do severe damage.

Also, keep in mind the following:

Stretch before and after a game or practice. This can reduce the risk of pulling or straining a muscle. Work with your coach and teammates to develop a stretching routine that best suits your sport.

Be observant even as a spectator.
Stay alert while watching a game to avoid foul baseballs and flying hockey pucks coming your way. Also, watch your step when climbing bleachers.

Use good judgment.
If an activity carries risk of dental or facial injury, gear up. Without it, a pick-up game of basketball or flag football could result in a trip to the emergency room.

For more information on the AAO and Emmitt Smith, visit http://www.braces.org/sportsafety/. There you can find a free downloadable poster of Emmitt Smith and more information on how kids and adults can “Play It Safe.” Find us on Twitter (@braces) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/AAOBraces).





Thursday, January 28, 2010

Even Firefighters Go to the Potty (Book Review and Giveaway)


When my twin sons were potty-training, I was desperate to find tools and techniques that would help my boys to be successful. I was recently introduced to a new children’s book that I wish had been around when my boys were training. Even though they are now six years old, I read it to them anyway, and they absolutely loved it!

The name of the book is Even Firefighters Go to the Potty, and it was written by Wendy Wax and Naomi Wax. (Colorful and adorable illustrations are by Stephen Gilpin.) It’s a lift-the-flap book that shows kids that even big people whom they admire -- like firefighters, umpires, construction workers, and pilots -- take time out from their busy day to use the bathroom. For example, the first page says:

Clang! Clang! Clang!
The fire alarm is ringing!
The fire truck needs to go.
But where did the firefighter who drives the truck go?


And then the child lifts the flap on the page to find a firefighter sitting on the toilet -- polka-dot boxers and all! My boys laughed so hard every time they lifted a flap and saw someone on the potty. Some of the characters also set good examples, such as the waiter in the restaurant washing his hands in the rest room and the doctor being sure to flush.

Even Firefighters Go to the Potty is a wonderful addition to the tools now available to help children toilet-train. Kids will love the funny pictures, the guesswork involved in figuring out where the people in the story go, and the fun of opening the flaps to find the surprise inside. The humor will get them laughing and feeling more relaxed about going to the bathroom.

I love this book and strongly recommend that you get it for the little toilet-trainers in your life! Go to www.evenfirefightersgotothepotty.com to view several pages of the book, learn more about it, and order a copy. Even Firefighters Go to the Potty is also available through major booksellers and Amazon. You can learn more about coauthor Wendy Wax and her other books at www.wendywax.com.



GIVEAWAY

I have a copy of Even Firefighters Go to the Potty, signed by coauthor Wendy Wax, to give away to one lucky winner! To enter, go to www.evenfirefightersgotothepotty.com and find out who else goes to the potty in the book that I didn’t mention in this review! (Hint: There are two others listed.) Leave a comment on this post with the occupation of one or both of them. You must do this to enter the giveaway.

You may earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following me (@ParentingAuthor) on Twitter and tweeting about 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.

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Friday, February 12, 2010, 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. addresses only.

CONTEST CLOSED.
Congratulations to "Anonymous" with email address: theyyyguy@yahoo.com!





DISCLOSURE: The author sent me one copy of this book to review and then give away in this contest. No compensation was provided.

Get Free Samples of Pampers All-New Cruisers to Celebrate the 2010 Olympic Games!


When my four boys were in diapers, I always put them in Pampers. Every time I tried a different brand, they leaked or were clearly less comfortable on my boys. I always went back to Pampers! And I always recommend Pampers for new and expectant parents who will be using disposable diapers.

In March, Pampers will be unveiling their completely redesigned Cruisers diapers. Pampers promises they will perform just as well as the Cruisers we know and love, but the new Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max are designed to lock wetness away up to 12 hours, making this their driest diaper ever.

To celebrate the launch of their first-ever high-performance diaper, Pampers has outfitted two Team USA medal contender athletes -- 2006 Olympic gold medal speed skater, Chad Hedrick, and 2007 World Skeleton, Noelle Pikus-Pace -- and their families with branded Team USA Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max as they head to Vancouver for the Olympic Winter Games.

Although these Team USA diapers are not for sale, parents everywhere will be able to request a free sample three-pack of Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max on Pampers.com starting on Friday morning, January 29, 2010!

And here’s something really cool: If your sample includes a diaper stamped “Team USA” (randomly inserted in select sample packs), your baby will win a year’s supply of Pampers diapers!

For the first time ever, babies will have their gold-medal moment this Olympic season by sporting their own high-performance gear -- Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max. Hurry to Pampers.com to get your free sample pack before they run out, and you might win free diapers for a year!






DISCLOSURE: This is not a sponsored post, and I received no product samples or compensation to post this information.

The Penny for Your Thoughts Book Project to Support Food Banks


I recently signed up to create a Penny for Your Thoughts book for the Penny Experiment project. What’s the Penny Experiment? Here’s how founder Jeffrey Strain describes it:

“On November 24, 2009, while walking to the local coffee shop, I spotted a penny on the sidewalk near a group of shops. I stopped, bent down and picked it up. As I did, a group of teenagers that was standing nearby watching me started to snicker.

“Their implication was clear. They believed that the penny was worthless and I was foolish for picking it up. I, on the other hand, saw things a bit differently. I have always picked up coins, but their reaction got me thinking. What is a penny really worth? What can one achieve when starting with only a penny?

“As I thought about this, I became more convinced that there is value beyond what most people see in the money that is lying on the ground. I believe there is enough value in that penny that it can ultimately help a large number of people. This is my journey as I try to see if I’m correct by turning that ‘worthless’ penny into $1,000,000 of food for local food banks.

“As I begin this journey, I’m not exactly sure how I am going to achieve this goal. That is part of what should make this journey interesting to follow. I also hope that the journey ultimately shows that one person with one penny and a bit of determination can make a difference. I hope that you will join me on this journey and it will inspire you to try and do the same…”

One way in which Jeffrey is going to reach his goal is through launching 100 “Penny for Your Thoughts” books into the world. Volunteers, such as myself, start with a blank book, and write something special inside it. Then they pass it on to another person, who does the same. That person passes it on again, and so on and so on, until the book is full. When it’s done, it is sent back to Jeffrey, who will scan pages to show on his website (www.PennyExperiment.com) and then he’ll sell the actual book. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to buy food for food banks!

Since I’m a writer, I got the idea to send my book to other writers so we can fill the book with writing advice, inspirational quotes, etc. Jeffrey encourages “book launchers” to get creative in decorating their books, but since I have no artistic talent, I purchased a beautiful journal with author Charlotte Brontë’s signature embossed on it, along with an excerpt from her famous novel, Jane Eyre, reproduced in her own handwriting. Here’s a picture of the book.


The spine and back of the book have gorgeous decorative embossing, and the back cover says:

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
Jane Eyre – 1847


Here’s a photo of the back:


Inside, I’m going to instruct writers to include their favorite inspirational quotes, their best advice to budding writers, their signature, and anything else they’d like to include for those who love to write or read books!

On my page, I’m going to include my favorite “writer’s quotes”:

A woman’s destiny, they say, is not fulfilled until she holds in her arms her own little book.—Caroline Mytinger, Headhunting in the Solomon Islands, August 18, 1942

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.
—Mary Flannery O’Connor

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”―Erma Bombeck

My Penny for Your Thoughts book has been assigned #6 out of 100! If you’d like to launch your own book as part of the Penny Experiment to raise money for food banks, just click HERE to get details. Jeffrey has several other projects going, as well, so I encourage you to visit www.PennyExperiment.com to see the other exciting ways in which money is being raised. You can also follow this project on Twitter at http://twitter.com/1millionmeals.

I’m excited to be a part of this inspirational project. Kudos to Jeffrey Strain for starting the Penny Experiment to help the hungry. Please spread the word. I hope it’s a huge success!




Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Avoid Dry, Chapped Lips This Winter with Neosporin Lip Health Products!


I’m very grateful to Mom Central for including me in their Neosporin Lip Health 3-Day Challenge! The timing couldn’t have been better. Normally, I don’t have much of a problem with chapped or dry lips (I live in Florida, so I rarely get the harsh winter weather), but when I have a cold, my lips always get dried out. And when I received my Neosporin samples, I was right in the middle of a serious cold! So, I was very anxious to try the Neosporin Lip Health products. Here’s what I received:



Neosporin Lip Health Overnight Renewal Therapy

Neosporin Lip Health Daily Hydration Therapy


I used both products faithfully every day and night (with several applications throughout the day as it got wiped off when I used a tissue), and I was thrilled to find that I didn’t develop chapped lips! Even with a bad cold, my lips stayed nice and soft, with no drying or pain. Hurray! These products are definitely “keepers” for me!

Neosporin’s Lip Health line uses lipids, fatty acids and antioxidants, as well as peptides, vitamins and emollients, to help soothe and hydrate your lips. The Daily Hydration Therapy also contains a sunscreen (SPF 20) to protect lips from sun damage. (If you’re out skiing this winter, lip protection is a must!) I love how smoothly both products go on. They’re not gooey or sticky. And they’re easy to throw in your purse or the car for quick applications on-the-go.

Look for Neosporin Lip Health products at CVS, Target, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Walmart, and other great stores! You can also get a coupon on their website at www.neolips.com.





DISCLOSURE: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Neosporin and received a sample of the Lip Health Overnight Renewal Therapy and the Lip health Daily Hydration Therapy to facilitate my review and a $20 thank-you gift certificate.

Making a Family Home (Book Review)


There’s a big difference between having a house and a home. A house is a dwelling place that provides shelter. It might be an apartment, a condo, a standard house, or even a tent! But a home is something different altogether. As author Shannon Honeybloom says, turning a house into a home “is a process of imbuing our space with soul and spirit, surrounding our family with love, care, comfort.” In her new book, Making a Family Home, she tells us how we can make each room of our home a place filled with “harmony, rhythm, and beauty” for our loved ones.

I love Honeybloom’s simple ideas for fostering family togetherness. For example, she writes, “Our home does not have a front porch, but we have created a front-porch area out front by placing a bench in our yard and hanging a swing bench from a tree. Both swing and bench are wonderful places from which to watch the children play and catch up with the neighbors. We also nailed slats to our big front yard oak tree—the children love to climb on it, and survey the neighborhood from the arms of the tree. These two things—the swing bench and making the tree more accessible—have greatly increased our use of the front yard.”

For the living room, Honeybloom notes, “The arrangement of the living room and the use of the room can encourage empathy, interest, love. Comfortable seating can be arranged in the living room so as to encourage conversation and contact among family members and guests. Chairs and sofas arranged in a kind of circle encourage more interaction than lining up all the furniture against the wall.”

Honeybloom covers just about every room in the house, including the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, attic, basement, backyard, entryway, playroom, and more. Throughout the book, she shares her wisdom on parenting and creating meaningful childhoods for our kids. Beautiful photographs by Skip Hunt adorn almost every page of Making a Family Home, effectively capturing a feeling of simplicity and joy in the home.

Making a Family Home is a beautifully written, creative and practical book for anyone who dreams of creating a home where their heart will reside. Please visit www.shannonhoneybloom.com to learn more about Shannon Honeybloom, find more parenting and homemaking advice, and order Making a Family Home! It’s also available through Amazon and other booksellers.






DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Character Is the Key: How to Unlock the Best in Our Children and Ourselves (Book Review and Giveaway)


We hear a lot about “character” these days, especially when it comes to our politicians, athletes, and movie stars. Our children often hold these people in high esteem, so we worry when their idols have less-than-admirable character. Some schools even have character education classes in an attempt to teach kids about honesty, fairness, and integrity. This is terrific, but it’s also important to mold our children’s character in the home. It’s our job as parents to help our kids develop an inner compass so they know right from wrong, have strong moral values, and look at life positively. So, how can we do that when the world outside our homes seems to guide kids in a different direction?

A great start is to read psychotherapist Sara Dimerman’s new book, Character Is the Key: How to Unlock the Best in Our Children and Ourselves. Dimerman points out that kids are great mimics, and therefore parents can build strong character in their kids by modeling it in their own behavior. Sounds simple, right? But we all know that when the stresses of life take over and our kids are behaving poorly, “crazy mom” or “angry dad” (those are my terms!) often take over. It’s easy to say we should model good behavior, but it’s much more difficult to actually do it. Dimerman recognizes the difficulty in this and shows readers how to “model with intention.”

But all this leads to the question: “If my children are having difficulties, does that mean my character is lacking?” Being a mom of less-than-perfectly-behaved kids, I was very interested in Dimerman’s response:

“No, it doesn’t. Parents who want help with their children are people of good character. The problem is that we don’t always show our best side to our kids… [W]e may unconsciously channel poor behaviours that our own parents used, and beyond that, as working parents we are often too busy or too tired to summon our best. And it’s partly about awareness: parents aren’t always conscious of how they come across to their kids, and how with a few small tweaks, they can learn to model the characteristics they would like to see in them. That’s what modeling with intention is all about.”

Dimerman provides strategies for unlocking the best in our children -- and in ourselves -- and then gets specific with techniques for acquiring the attributes of empathy, fairness, courage, honesty, initiative, integrity, optimism, perseverance, respect and responsibility. Character Is the Key gives parents hope and the tools they need to raise kids with good character and bright futures.



GIVEAWAY

Sara Dimerman has generously offered to give a copy of Character Is the Key to one lucky reader of this blog! For your first (required) entry, please visit her website at www.helpmesara.com and leave a comment here sharing something you learned.

You may earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following me (@ParentingAuthor) and author Sara Dimerman (@helpmesara) on Twitter and tweeting about 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.

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Sunday, February 7, 2010, 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. addresses only.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, Jessica!





DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.

Rebel Without a Minivan: A Hilarious Account of Life in the Suburbs


Tears are running down my face right now because I’m reading Tracy Beckerman’s Rebel Without a Minivan: Observations on Life in the ’Burbs. The reason? I can’t stop laughing! City girl Tracy Beckerman has a wonderful and witty way of describing her life in suburbia, where she traded in her beloved four-flight walk-up for a house with a pool and a picket fence. How’s a city girl to survive? By writing about it in a newspaper column called “Lost in Surburbia,” which now runs in more than 400 newspapers and reaches more than 3.5 million people a week.

Now Beckerman has a book, Rebel Without a Minivan, in which she tackles the topics that make all moms cringe: shopping for school supplies, explaining sex to children, peeing in the pool, and the “serious business” of grilling! All are told in short, snort-inducing stories that busy moms can squeeze in while waiting in car line, warming the bench during soccer practice, or grabbing a quick cup of strong coffee. Check out this excerpt:
“One day, I happened to lift up the rubber bath mat in the kids’ bathroom to rinse the tub after one of them took a particularly filthy bath, and saw black. Literally.

“The bottom of this formerly white bath mat was covered in a living, breathing black mold that pretty much completely grossed me out.

“I don’t gross out easily. I routinely have to clean up after numerous pets, not to mention two kids and a husband, so being grossed out is something I’ve gotten used to. But this math mat was beyond gross. It was the bath mat from the black lagoon. An entire civilization of sticky fungus breeding in my bathtub. Mutant mold from outer space. I was sure if I didn’t get rid of it immediately, it would continue to multiply and grow until it enveloped my entire bathroom, then my house, and eventually the world. Yes, it was my duty as a member of the human race to kill it.”

I really think Beckerman has a camera set up in my house. I have four dirty, smelly sons and, therefore, I have mold. Lots of it. Ick! Anyway, if you’re up to your eyeballs in pacifiers, doggy doo, laundry soap, and germ warfare, pick up a copy of Tracy Beckerman’s Rebel Without a Minivan. If a city girl like her can survive life in the ’burbs, you can, too. The chuckles induced by this very funny book will definitely ease the ride!

P.S. Visit Tracy Beckerman's website at www.lostinsuburbia.net.







DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Join Nick Jr.’s Dora the Explorer in a Trike-A-Thon to Benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital


Dora the Explorer is currently inviting children and their parents to participate in a Trike-A-Thon at their local daycare center or pre-school! This fun, week-long curriculum and fundraising program teaches kids about trike safety and raises money to help kids battling cancer and other deadly diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®.

The program teaches children riding safety lessons through a series of interactive stories. The week ends with kids bringing their trikes and riding toys to school and practicing the rules they learned. Volunteer coordinators (typically pre-school teachers or daycare operators) receive a Trike-A-Thon kit to help organize and plan the event. The kit includes a storybook, coloring sheets, posters, a Trike-A-Thon DVD and other materials needed to carry out a successful event. All of these materials are free. There is no cost to pre-schools or daycare centers to coordinate an event. Parents help their children gain sponsorship from friends, family and co-workers to participate in the Trike-A-Thon.

More than 8,600 pre-schools and daycare centers across the country participate in the Trike-A-Thon program. Their efforts contribute more than $7.7 million to St. Jude every year! Click HERE to check out a video about the program. Go to the Nick Jr. site or the St. Jude site to learn more about the program and sign up your pre-school or daycare center!




Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Hearts at Home Living with Less Contest


I am excited to share a fun opportunity with you!

To celebrate the release of Hearts at Home’s newest book: Living With Less So Your Family Has More, by Jill and Mark Savage, the Hearts at Home blog is launching the Living with Less Contest.

Email Hearts at Home a story or money-saving tip that gives a peek into your daily experiences representing the humor, richness, or spiritual aspects of what it’s like to live with less.

Better yet, blog readers will benefit as many of the money-saving entries will be posted on the Heart’s blog throughout the month of February!

For contest details, go here!




Friday, January 22, 2010

Get a Taste of Reading with Super WHY!


If you’ve got young kids, you’re most likely familiar with the terrific Super WHY show on PBS Kids. If you haven’t yet discovered this show, here’s what it’s all about: “Each episode of Super WHY, the award-winning literacy series from Out of the Blue Enterprises, engages young viewers in fun, interactive alphabet and word games, as well as imagination-stimulating spelling, vocabulary and comprehension activities, helping to instill a life-long love of reading all along the way!” Kids love it!

I’m excited to tell you that, on January 29, 2010, Super Why and his friends will be soaring into a new kind of book -- a cookbook! In this episode, Whyatt wants to bake Baby Joy a special birthday cake, but he doesn't know how. The Super Readers jump into a cookbook and get the information they need from a rhyming chef with a silly sense of humor as well as a recipe for fun! In the end, Whyatt learns how to cook up the perfect birthday for his little sister.

After the show, why not create your very own yummy reading adventure with your kids?! Encouraging preschoolers to read recipes, signs and more helps them navigate their world and gives them a real reason to use their newfound literacy skills. Asking questions will expand their creativity as well as reinforce comprehension. It can also inspire them to write their own signs, recipes or stories. Here are some great tips for combining cooking and literacy:

- Pick out a simple and tasty recipe with your budding Super Reader. Ask her to point out all of the letters and words she already knows in the ingredients.

- Write a grocery list together, sounding out the words as you go along.

- At the supermarket, have your kids help read the signs so you can find the ingredients you need.

- As you cook, read the recipe out loud every step of the way.

- Before serving your delicious treat, create colorful place cards for each member of the family, assisting your preschooler in writing out the names. Have fun -- and bon appétit!

And don’t forget to watch the new episode of Super WHY on January 29th! Check your local listings for show times.




Thursday, January 21, 2010

Listen Up! Protect the Precious Ears of the Little Ones You Love


NOTE FROM SUSAN: I recently received the following information from Global Influence, on behalf of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). If you or any of your children use headphones, it’s important to use them wisely to prevent hearing loss, which is increasing among children. This article explains more.

Did you know that when MP3 players are purchased as gifts, the majority of purchasers are moms? That finding emerged at the Mommy Tech summit at the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show.

But do you know about the potential risks? Kids often don’t know how to use audio technology safely, and they can harm their hearing as a result. In fact, hearing loss among young people is reported to be on the rise and there are strong concerns that a generation of young people could end up with prevalent hearing loss.

“For some time, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has warned that hearing loss in the United States could rise significantly due to the misuse of personal audio technology,” ASHA President Tommie L. Robinson, Jr. explains. “Unfortunately, a report released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation cites some alarming trends about excessive entertainment media consumption among our nation's children, indirectly supporting ASHA’s concerns. This should be a warning to parents that they must regulate children's exposure and fully understand the potential health threats associated with misuse and over exposure to such technologies.”

“ASHA will continue to bring these issues to the forefront and appreciates the Kaiser Family Foundation's contributions to the national dialogue,” Robinson adds.

According to a 2004 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children were reported as being exposed to 6 hours and 21 minutes of media (TV, music, internet, etc) per day. By 2009, this statistic had increased dramatically to 7 hours and 38 minutes per day. When media multitasking is taken into account, this leaps to 10 hours and 45 minutes per day. This massive consumption of media has led to decreased grades in school and ASHA contends it puts kids at an increased risk of hearing loss.

One thing that is clear from the study is that parents can be very positive influencers on how their children use entertainment media.

Whether your child received an MP3 player, gaming device, cell phone, laptop, or any other device with headphones, don't overlook the important health threat of hearing loss. Now is the time to reach out to other parents about the importance of hearing loss prevention, the damaging effects of excessive media consumption, and the resources available to them through ASHA.

Here are two simple ways to protect your children’s -- and your own -- hearing.

Keep the volume down. A good guide is half volume.

Limit listening time. Give your hearing “quiet breaks.”

Find more information and statistics at ASHA's website. You can also follow their Twitter feed or fan them on Facebook to get real time updates on their work.