Friday, July 30, 2010

Coming Soon: A New Romance Novel from Cynthia Roberts -- and a Chance to Win Great Prizes!

I have some great news to share with you! Come September, I will be participating in a huge blog tour put on by Cynthia Roberts, author of the upcoming romance novel, Wind Warrior!

WindWarriorReleasePartyBadge

There are some pretty exciting prizes for everyone involved. Cynthia is giving away $600 worth of wonderful items! YOU could win one of five fabulous prizes! There will be something romantic, something succulent, something exquisite, and two others that will offer you lots of choices... Curious? Check out what you could win on the official blog tour giveaway website here! You can also learn more about how this giveaway will operate.

I’m looking forward to being a part of this great blog tour, and I hope you are, too!

Enter the Master Lock Sweepstakes to Win Great Prizes for Students!

Master Lock is launching a really cool, quirky web series geared toward teens to answer the age-old question: “What is the Secret Combination to Surviving the Teen Years?” The series and accompanying sweepstakes are an effort by Master Lock to connect with teens and expose them to two new combination locks.

The series and sweepstakes are launching on August 2. Students can enter daily drawings for a chance to win an iPod Touch or Master Lock combination locks. After watching all ten videos, from August 13-29, participants can piece together the master combination and enter for a chance to win the grand prize of a new iPad with a gift card good for a two-year data plan, along with other prizes!

Go to www.masterlock.com/secretcombination to enter.

Also, stay tuned to this blog as I’ll be reviewing Master Lock’s combination locks in the near future!

Five Question Friday: 7-30-10

This week, I’m trying out a new meme called Five Question Friday! It’s hosted by Mama M. at Five Crooked Halos every week, where she posts a series of five questions to be answered. This week’s participating bloggers can be found here. If you’re a blogger, feel free to join us on your blog and then leave a link in a comment below so people can visit. If you’re not a blogger, but would like to answer these questions too, feel free to do so in a comment. I’d love to read your answers! So, here goes…

1. Did you have a favorite blanket or toy as a kid? If so, do you still have it?

Apparently, I had a little stuffed lion that I loved. There are pictures of me carrying it around. Unfortunately, my mom got rid of it when I outgrew it. I’m kind of sad that I don’t have it. My oldest son had a little blue stuffed bunny that he received from the Easter Bunny one year. He slept with it for years! He’s now 20, but I kept the bunny for him so he can pass it on to his own child some day.

2. Do you dream in color?

Definitely. I have very vivid dreams. I love to sleep because I never know what adventure I’ll go on next!

3. How tall are you? Do you wish you were shorter or taller?

I’m 5’5”. I’m happy with my height -- not too short and not too tall. I’m short for my family, though. Most of the men in my family are six feet or taller. My mom and sister are 5’6” and 5’7” respectively.

4. If you could have anyone’s (celeb or other) voice as the guide on your GPS, who would it be?

Colin Firth. That dreamy English accent would probably make me run off the road, though.

5. Do you return your shopping cart to the corral or leave it wherever in the parking lot?

I always return it to the corral unless I can’t find one! Otherwise, I’ll take it up to the front of the store if it’s not too great a distance and I don’t have the kids in the car.

Welcome to the 39 Day Countdown to Book 10 in The 39 Clues Book Series! (Giveaway)

In September 2008, Scholastic launched an amazing multi-media adventure series for kids called The 39 Clues. Since then, kids between the ages of 8-12 have been crazy about the books, collectible cards and online game! Book 1: The Maze of Bones, written by Rick Riordan, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Book 2: One False Note did the same, and every book in The 39 Clues series since has appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Movie rights for The 39 Clues have been acquired by DreamWorks Studios with Steven Spielberg eyeing to direct.

Here’s a complete list of authors and publication dates for all 10 books in The 39 Clues series:

Book 1: The Maze of Bones (September 9, 2008)
by Rick Riordan
Book 2: One False Note (December 2, 2008)
by Gordon Korman
Book 3: The Sword Thief (March 3, 2009)
by Peter Lerangis
Book 4: Beyond the Grave (June 2, 2009)
by Jude Watson
Book 5: The Black Circle (August 11, 2009)
by Patrick Carman
Book 6: In Too Deep (November 3, 2009)
by Jude Watson
Book 7: The Viper’s Nest (February 2, 2010)
by Peter Lerangis
Book 8: The Emperor's Code (April 6, 2010)
by Gordon Korman
Book 9: Storm Warning (May 25, 2010)
by Linda Sue Park
Book 10: Into the Gauntlet (August 31, 2010)
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

So, what exactly is The 39 Clues series all about? Here’s a description:
The 39 Clues series centers around the Cahills -- the most powerful family the world has ever known. But the source of the family’s power has been lost. Grace Cahill, the last matriarch of the Cahills, changed her will minutes before she died, leaving her descendants an impossible decision: receive a million dollars or a clue. The first Cahill to assemble all 39 clues hidden around the world will discover what makes the family so powerful -- a reward beyond measure. It’s Cahill versus Cahill in a race to the finish, with readers hot on the heels of the main characters, fourteen-year-old Amy Cahill and her eleven-year-old brother, Dan. The series highlights famous historical figures kicking off with Benjamin Franklin in The Maze of Bones, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in One False Note, Toyotomi Hideyoshi in The Sword Thief, Howard Carter in Beyond the Grave, Anastasia Romanov in The Black Circle, and Amelia Earhart in In Too Deep.
I was thrilled when Scholastic selected this blog as its third stop in their 10-stop blog tour of the 39 Day Countdown to Book #10! I hope that you’ll keep following this tour for exclusive content about The 39 Clues series. The next stop will be at ManicMommies.com on Monday August 2nd, where the author of Book #4, Jude Watson, will be guest posting! You can also visit www.The39Clues.com to learn more about this ground-breaking series.

But meanwhile, here’s my exclusive treat for you! Since I’m Stop #3, this video is from Book #3 author, Peter Lerangis:



[Email subscribers, please click on the title of this post to access the video online.]

GIVEAWAY

And I have more exciting news… To celebrate the release of the final book in this amazing series on August 31st, Scholastic has generously offered the readers of this blog the opportunity to win the complete 39 Clues book series! And, as a bonus, book #3 will be autographed by author Peter Lerangis!

To enter, leave a comment on this post sharing who will be the lucky recipient of this prize if you win! You must do this to enter the contest.

You can earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting (@ParentingAuthor) and Scholastic (@Scholastic) on Twitter and tweeting about this giveaway. You may tweet this giveaway twice a day. (Please space them at least an hour apart.) Leave a separate comment with the URL of each tweet. (It’s easy to tweet this giveaway by using the buttons at the bottom of this post. 1 entry per tweet.)

- 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. (1 entry for each subscription method for up to 3 entries)

- NEW! Liking Susan Heim on Parenting on Facebook. (1 entry)

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

- 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. (1 entry for button; 1 entry for text link)

- 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 Tuesday, August 31, 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. Contest is open only to US residents.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, shellycox!



DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this series as a thank-you for my participation in this blog tour. No other compensation was provided.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book A Brighter Future with Macy’s and Reading Is Fundamental!

Just in time for back-to-school shopping, Macy’s has a great deal for parents that will not only save them some money, but enable them to contribute to a worthy cause!

Through the Book A Brighter Future initiative, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy's have teamed up to raise awareness of and support for children's literacy.

How can you help? Through August 1, 2010, Macy's customers can give $3 to this cause and receive a coupon for $10 off one purchase of $50 or more at any Macy's store nationwide. Macy's will give 100% of every $3 donation they receive to RIF!

Go to www.rif.org/brighterfuture to learn more about this program and even enter a sweepstakes to win a $1,000 Macy’s gift card!

Vision and Eyeglasses for Children

Guest post by Hillary Rubin

When I was in elementary school, I told my parents I needed glasses. My dad thought it was because I wanted to look just like my older sister who had just gotten glasses. In reality, I actually needed glasses. My 3rd grade teacher confirmed for my parents that I was squinting a lot just to see the board. One eye exam later, I had new eyeglasses ... that looked just like my older sister’s frames.

Children often have a hard time communicating their thoughts and feelings, and adults generally have a hard time interpreting what their child is trying to say. For these reasons, we may not notice when our child is having a hard time seeing and may need eyeglasses. Eye problems can develop in children as early as their pre-school years. Around 10% of all pre-schoolers have vision problems. While most kids may not receive their first eye exam until kindergarten or first grade, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends having your child’s eyes tested as early as six months old because early detection means early correction and prevention of other problems.

The basic, informal eye exam that takes place at your child’s school may be basic enough to detect a slight ocular problem, but taking your child to the ophthalmologist once every two years will benefit your child’s vision. An ophthalmologist can check your child’s peripheral vision, as well as his near and distance vision that may need correction with prescription glasses.

If your child is in the toddler years, detecting an eye problem may be easier than you think. If your child is telling you that things look funny, or if you’re watching him read or draw and you notice him squinting or failing to focus on the activity, it may be a sign that your child needs to have his vision tested. Your child may not need prescription eyeglasses, but having his eyes checked at an early age can help prevent vision problems later on in life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Enter if You Dare! (Review and Giveaway)

Many people are fascinated by the unusual and bizarre things of this world, from two-headed lizards to sword-swallowing to tiny people! And Ripley’s Believe It or Not definitely leads the pack in uncovering and showcasing the strangest stories around the globe. One way in which they do this is through their annual “Yearbook of the Weird.” Each year, they put out a huge hardcover book with fascinating stories and photos that are guaranteed to shock and entertain. This year’s offering is no different.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Enter if You Dare! features chapters such as Animal Antics; Extreme Sports; Body Oddity; Bizarre Mysteries; Fantastic Food; and, Amazing Science. I just finished reading the book Twilight, so I was especially interested in this book’s double gatefold that tells all about vampires! Did you know that special anti-vampire kits were actually made and sold in various countries? They’re now extremely valuable collector’s items. Another foldout page has a life-size photo of tiny sixteen-year-old Jyoti Amge, who is just 23.5 inches tall! I was fascinated to read that she loves being small and revels in the attention she receives. Other features in the book include “Ripley’s Revealed,” which provides in-depth information on subjects like sword-swallowing and fire-eating. There are also “Ripley Research” boxes that tell the science behind some of the things you see in the book.

As I write this, one of my six-year-olds is bugging me to look through this book again. It’s definitely a hit with everyone in the family! Go to www.ripleybooks.com to learn more about Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Enter if You Dare!, as well as Ripley’s other books and products.

GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader will receive a copy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Enter if You Dare! This brand-new hardcover book has a purple and silver holographic foil cover and is chock-full of beautiful photographs. To enter, leave a comment on this post sharing who will be the lucky recipient of this book! (It’s okay if it’s YOU!) You must do this to enter this giveaway.

You can earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting (@ParentingAuthor) and Ripley’s (@RipleyWorld) on Twitter and tweeting about this giveaway. You may tweet this giveaway twice a day. (Please space them at least an hour apart.) Leave a separate comment with the URL of each tweet. (It’s easy to tweet this giveaway by using the buttons at the bottom of this post. 1 entry per tweet.)

- 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. (1 entry for each subscription method for up to 3 entries)

- NEW! Liking Susan Heim on Parenting on Facebook. (1 entry)

- Liking Ripley’s on Facebook. (1 entry)

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

- 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. (1 entry for button; 1 entry for text link)

- 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 Wednesday, August 11, 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. Contest is open only to US residents.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, peg42!



DISCLOSURE: I received one copy of this book to review and pass along in this giveaway. No other compensation was provided.

Help Prevent Lice Outbreaks with Lice Shield Products

Lice! It’s a word that no parent wants to hear. If your kids are in school or go to camp, you’ve probably received a letter at one point announcing that someone was sent home with lice and to watch for signs of lice on your child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are between 6 million and 12 million head-lice infestations in the U.S. every year, mostly in kids between the ages of three and twelve. These little buggers can be extremely hard to get rid of, so prevention is key.

One preventative product you might consider is Lice Shield Shampoo & Conditioner in 1. Lice Shield is designed to repel lice through a blend of natural oil extracts like citronella, rosemary and eucalyptus, which have been found to reduce the likelihood of lice infestation by over 80%! They also make Lice Shield Leave-In Spray, which can be sprayed in sports helmets and hats to help prevent the spread of lice, as well as used as a detangler. Both products are free of harmful pesticides.

These products are gentle enough to use every day, although I found the scent to be a little strong for daily use. However, I’m definitely keeping them on hand in case I get a note this year saying that head lice has appeared in my children’s classrooms. They’ll be using Lice Shield until the threat has passed!

Go to www.liceshield.net to learn more about Lice Shield products and how they may help your family escape the dreaded lice infestation! You can find Lice Shield at Walgreen's and other major retailers.



DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary samples of these products to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.

Promoting Good Brain Health by Minimizing Lead Exposure

Learning disabilities and ADHD are two of the most common and widely recognized lead effects. And both are outcomes that can easily be prevented.

Guest post by Dr. Sandra Cottingham, co-author of LEAD BABIES

School-aged children begin to rhyme words, learn the alphabet or notice when the words start with the same sound. These skills are early signs that the brain is functioning as it needs to and that all is well. When young learners struggle with these types of tasks, it is our first clue that the brain is not functioning as it should. Learning and behavior challenges such as a learning disability, ADHD, and even decreased IQ are typically the result of exposure to lead before a child is born or shortly after.

For those who need a dose of hard science to fully grasp the connection between lead and brain development, in utero brain development rolls out something like this…

Around week 12 of pregnancy, critical brain development gets underway. In the next couple of weeks, the visual cortex, the area of the brain responsible for high-level visual processing, will form. Next, the temporal cortex will form as the centre for auditory and visual processing as well as receptive language function. Then, the frontal cortex begins to build and eventually will be the main center for high-level cognition, motor control and expressive language. Because a foundation of damage will not support what is constructed on top of it, avoiding toxic exposure during pregnancy is critical to ensure a child’s capacity for learning later in life is not compromised. The need to avoid heavy metal exposure does not end there. While construction of these three areas of the cerebral cortex begins in early pregnancy, it will continue to evolve throughout childhood, right into adolescence.

It is key to realize that in the case of an unborn baby, the primary source of lead is the baby’s mother. Lead accumulations in bone and tissue are released during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and are delivered straight to baby! Therefore, expectant mothers should be especially aware of their own toxic exposure, not only during pregnancy, but also prior to becoming pregnant. Since lead damages sperm, the importance of avoiding lead exposure prior to conception also applies to men.

So the important questions remain…

How much lead can cause damage?

There is no safe amount of lead. Try dropping three granules of sugar into the palm of your hand the next time you sit down for coffee. The equivalent amount of lead would permanently damage the brain of an unborn child. Physically, it is a surprisingly small amount!

How can you eliminate lead exposure in and around your home?


There are three major categories of lead sources that need to be investigated and addressed.

1. The first is often overlooked, but may well be a significant lead source for a family -- your water. Along water’s pathway to your faucet, there are many opportunities for it to become lead-contaminated. Water can be checked with a simple home test kit, and water filters are an easy solution to a lead problem.

2. The second category is a little more complicated and a bit more work to assess -- but equally as important. Anything you might have bought and carried into the house needs to be considered. And while that list of products and possibilities may at first seem endless, this process will help you hone your consumer skills for future lead-free purchases. If an item is chewed, sucked on, or touched frequently, it should be tested as a priority. Watch your family’s habits closely and test as you go. Having a variety of test kits handy allows you to choose the best one for the job at hand. It is also important to check recall lists every few months. Links can be found and book marked on our site at www.enoughlead.com.

3. The third area of risk for lead exposure involves surfaces, both indoor and outdoor -- paint, furniture finishes, dust, and soil. Again, prioritize. The paint in the nursery, and the clear finish on the crib would obviously be a high priority. Exposed sand and soil in the yard are tracked in on shoes and pets, and should be covered with ground cover, mulch, etc.

Parents and parents-to-be have a tremendous responsibility to educate themselves about the myriad of lead sources in the products we buy, in the foods we eat, and in the practices we employ in the maintenance of our homes and yards.

While it does take some time and effort to create and maintain a lead-free home environment, it pales in comparison to what it takes to manage and compensate for learning and behavior problems that will have lifelong impact.

Visit www.enoughlead.com for some free resources to help you and your family identify and remove lead exposure sources in your home.

Dr. Cottingham’s book, LEAD BABIES: How Heavy Metals Are Causing Our Children’s Autism, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Low IQ and Behavior Problems, is an empowering and comprehensive guide to understanding and responding to your family’s specific lead exposure risks.

Contact Dr. Cottingham with questions or comments at http://bit.ly/cHpag2.

Avery Dennison Celebrates Teachers with a National Sweepstakes!

School budgets are being cut across the country, and often that means a shortage of supplies for the classroom. The non-profit organization, World Vision, has found that teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money each school year on supplies for their students. Avery Dennison Office Products Company is launching a national sweepstakes to help ease this burden on teachers.

From now until September 15, 2010, teachers can go to www.avery.com/teachersweeps every day and enter to win the following prizes:

One (1) Grand Prize Package:

- Goodie bag of Avery products valued at $500
- SpaFinder® gift card valued at $350
- Starbucks® gift card valued at $150

Three (3) Second Prize Packages (valued at $200 each)

Five (5) Third Prize Packages (valued at $80 each)

Avery Dennison has also partnered with Box Tops for Education. Now through September 15, when teachers submit a copy of their official school supply list to General Mills, listing one of more than 1,000 specially marked Avery brand school and office supply products, they earn a chance to win 10,000 Bonus Box Tops for their school. (Schools are limited to 10 classroom supply list entries.) Guidelines and a sample school supply list can be found at www.avery.com/btfe and www.btfe.com.

Both the sweepstakes and the Box Tops for Education program are great ways in which Avery Dennison is striving to help teachers get much-needed supplies for their classrooms. If you’re a teacher, I hope you’ll participate in these opportunities, and if you’re not, please share this news with all the teachers you know! School supplies not only make life easier for teachers, but also help improve educational quality for our children.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Products to Promote Healthy Sleep for Babies (and Snooze Wrap Giveaway)

Sleep! It’s the #1 issue I hear about from parents of infants. They want to know how to help their baby sleep better (and, consequently, help themselves get some sleep!), but in a way that’s safe and doesn’t put their child at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). A company called sootheTIME has been working with pediatric specialists, along with First Candle and CJ Foundation, to help increase awareness and reduce the incidence of SIDS. One of the ways in which they are doing this is through their new line of bedtime products for infants called zzzTIME, which are designed specifically to promote healthy and safe sleep practices for babies.

Their products, pictured below, are designed to:

• soothe babies
• provide optimal temperature control and
• help parents integrate safe sleep practices recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics into all the environments in which the baby sleeps, including home and daycare.

Here are the terrific products they offer:


If you’re expecting or have a new baby, now’s the time to prepare to help your baby develop good sleep habits. I encourage you to check out the zzzTime products at http://soothetime.com/zzztime/.

GIVEAWAY

I have a Snooze Wrap to give away to one lucky winner! To enter, go to http://soothetime.com and leave a comment on this post with the name of another line of products they sell besides zzzTime. You must do this to enter the giveaway.

You can earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting (@ParentingAuthor) on Twitter and tweeting about this giveaway. You may tweet this giveaway twice a day. (Please space them at least an hour apart.) Leave a separate comment with the URL of each tweet. (It’s easy to tweet this giveaway by using the button at the bottom of this post. 1 entry per tweet.)

- 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. (1 entry for each subscription method for up to 3 entries)

- NEW! Liking Susan Heim on Parenting on Facebook. (1 entry)

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

- 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. (1 entry for button; 1 entry for text link)

- 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 Tuesday, August 10, 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. Contest is open to US residents only.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, Aisling!



DISCLOSURE: No products or compensation were exchanged for this review.

Discover the Forest: Head Outdoors This Summer!

For the past several summers, I’ve written about the USDA Forest Service’s initiative, Discover the Forest, because I think it’s so important to get kids out of the house and into the great outdoors. Now that the kids are out of school, this is a perfect time to head to a national forest, wildlife sanctuary or park. So, where do you start?

Just go to www.DiscoverTheForest.org to find…

• An excellent, easy-to-use “nature finder” tool where you can type in your zip code and find the nearest forest, park or nature sanctuary

• Lots of fun online games that will teach parents and kids interesting things about nature, such as how to identify wildlife tracks or use a compass

• Tips for parents on how to help get their kids outside and enjoying nature, including an activity book of stuff to do when outside

If you’re on Facebook, go to facebook.com/DiscoverTheForest for access to fun photos, tips, nature information and much more.

Miss America has joined forces with Discover the Forest, too! She’s made a video in which she shares her memories of spending time outdoors as a child, and talks about why you should make sure to help your kids experience nature as well. You can view the video here.

Summer’s almost over. Make this your best summer yet by taking the kids outdoors!

My New Favorite Musical Group: Alpha Rev!

Have you ever listened to a new CD and loved it instantly? That happened to me recently with Alpha Rev’s debut CD, New Morning. Check out this video of the title song. Wow!



I was surprised to learn that Alpha Rev was actually formed in 2005, but they are just now releasing their first album. Their songs have been featured in various television series, including Melrose Place, NYC Prep, and Greek. The members of Alpha Rev include singer and lyricist Casey McPherson, Derek Dunivan (guitar), Tommy Roalson (drums), Dave Wiley (cello), Alex Dunlap (bass), Brian Batch (violin) and Derek Morris (keyboards).

I don’t know how to describe their sound other than “fantastic”! My son in college watched their video and said they sound like Coldplay. Often, I have to listen to a CD multiple times before I really get into the songs. That wasn’t the case with New Morning at all. I was hooked the first time I listened to it. I hope you’ll check out these amazing guys at the following links and get their CD!

ALPHA REV LINKS

Website: www.alpharev.com
Myspace: www.myspace.com/alpharev
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AlphaRev
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AlphaRev




DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary access to listen to this CD online. No compensation was provided. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on any purchases made through the Amazon link at left.

Hurry for Your Free Squiz Cards!

I recently ran across an amazing deal on Twitter! For a limited time, Squiz Cards is offering 50 Squiz Cards plus a dispenser for free!

What are Squiz Cards? They’re like little calling cards or business cards that come in a waterproof dispenser, which you can attach to your keychain, belt loop, or bag. Just hand one to new acquaintances, and they now have a way of contacting you!

There are THOUSANDS of templates to choose from, or you can even upload your own! You get to pick the font style, size and color. They have beautiful photography, funky designs, and much more. Basically, you create your own unique card. I just ordered mine and I even got free shipping! They didn’t even ask for my credit card number. It was all free.

I’m sure this offer won’t last long so you’ll want to hurry to get in on it. Just go to http://bit.ly/squizcard, design your Squiz Card, and then enter 7FHDV at the checkout. That’s all there is to it!

Thanks to Squiz Cards for this amazing offer. I’m excited to get my new cards!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Crayola Chalkboard Floor Puzzle: It’s Both a Puzzle and an Art Project!

My kids and I are huge puzzle fans. I’ve always loved doing jigsaw puzzles, and now my twins like them, too. When they’re getting a little crazy in the house, especially on a rainy day, I know that I can always settle them down with a fun puzzle or two.

We recently put together a new puzzle that has a unique twist: you can draw on it with chalk! The Crayola Chalkboard Floor Puzzle, from the Lafayette Puzzle Factory, adds another layer to the fun of puzzling because not only do you get to put it together, but then you get to add to the scene by coloring it with the enclosed chalk!

The Crayola Chalkboard Floor Puzzle consists of 48 large pieces that create a 2 foot by 3 foot puzzle. The big size makes it easy for several people to construct it together. The puzzle we have shows a colorful scene from outer space with astronauts and aliens flying around in space ships. Several sections of the puzzle feel like a black chalkboard, which you can actually draw on with chalk! When you’re done, you just erase it and decorate it again. There are also two other designs available for the Crayola Chalkboard Floor Puzzle: USA Map and Playground Fun!

As you can see in the photo at left, my son had a lot of fun putting together the “Space Zone” floor puzzle. My only suggestion for improvement would be to include more chalk with the puzzle. There was just one piece of sidewalk chalk enclosed, so we had to supply our own to add more color or allow someone else to color at the same time. Other than that, this puzzle is terrific! The quality is excellent with very sturdy pieces that will last a long time.

The Crayola Chalkboard Floor Puzzle is available at Toys “R” Us stores and on their website. Check out all of the other fantastic puzzles made by the Lafayette Puzzle Factory at www.lpfpuzzle.com.



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

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pop On Pals: A Whole New World of “Popabilities” for Toddlers

When children are between the ages of 2 and 4, their imagination really starts to kick in! This is a great time to begin to give them toys that will encourage their creativity. I have a suggestion: Pop On Pals! These playsets and vehicles are designed with toddlers in mind. They are sized to fit toddlers’ little hands, help them develop fine motor skills, encourage imaginative play, and come with lights, sounds, and music to entertain them!

I was sent the Pop On Pals Amusement Park playset for review. It comes with a figure who can ride on the Ferris wheel (which turns and plays music), swing back and forth on a dragon swing, take a car down a roller coaster, and more! Each figure in the Pop On Pals line of products comes with several “rings” that can be put on to change the figure’s appearance.

The Amusement Park comes with one figure (and three rings), so if more than one child will be playing, you’ll probably want to pick up a Pop On Pals Pal Pack, which gives you extra figures and rings. My six-year-olds have even enjoyed playing with the Amusement Park, so I’m betting your toddler will find this toy a lot of fun!

Go to www.poponpals.com to learn more about Pop On Pals and find a retailer near you!




DISCLOSURE: I received a product sample as a Team Mom blogger. No other compensation was provided. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on sales made through the affiliate link at left.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Teddy Bears Personalized Giveaway and Discount!

I recently wrote about the beautiful personalized teddy bear I got for my son, Austen, at Teddy Bears Personalized. You may recall that they have the most wonderful high-quality stuffed animals that can be personalized with a name or message. Here’s the one we received:

It’s hard to believe, but it’s even more adorable in “person” than it is in the photo. Now the very generous people at Teddy Bears Personalized are offering you a discount, plus the opportunity to win your very own Funky Friend! Here’s how this all works:

VOTE!

First, Teddy Bears Personalized would like to know which Funky Friend is your favorite! What’s a Funky Friend? Just go to www.teddybearspersonalized.com and click on “Funky Friends” on the left side of the screen. Check out the three adorable critters there, and then come back here and look for the Poll posted on my left sidebar near the top. It says, “Which Funky Friend from Teddy Bears Personalized is your favorite?” Click on the one you like best and then click "Vote." That’s all there is to it! NOTE: There were some technical difficulties with Blogger's poll feature not tallying. It seems to be working now, but if it shows "0" votes again, you can still vote by leaving the name of the Funky Friend you wish to vote for in a comment below. Thanks!

DISCOUNT

Just for voting, Teddy Bears Personalized is offering a 15% discount on any order from their site! Just go to www.teddybearspersonalized.com, place an order, and when you’re checking out, type “I voted in the Funky Friends poll on Susan Heim on Parenting” (or something like that) in the Notes box. They’ll give you a credit back worth 15% of your order!

GIVEAWAY

Also, just for voting, you will be entered into a giveaway for the Funky Friend of your choice from Teddy Bears Personalized! To enter, just leave a comment on this post letting me know which Funky Friend you voted for. This is MANDATORY to enter the giveaway. (When the contest is over, I’ll announce the winning Funky Friend in a new post!)

You can earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting (@ParentingAuthor) on Twitter and tweeting about this giveaway. You may tweet this giveaway twice a day. (Please space them at least an hour apart.) Leave a separate comment with the URL of each tweet. (It’s easy to tweet this giveaway by using the button at the bottom of this post. 1 entry per tweet.)

- 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. (1 entry for each subscription method for up to 3 entries)

- NEW! Liking Susan Heim on Parenting on Facebook. (1 entry)

- Liking Teddy Bears Personalized on Facebook. I’m sure they’d love a nice comment on their wall! (1 entry)

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

- 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. (1 entry for button; 1 entry for text link)

- 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 Sunday, August 8, 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. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents!

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner: ♥Heαther♥!



DISCLOSURE: I won a personalized teddy bear from Teddy Bears Personalized in a blog contest. No compensation of any kind was provided in exchange for this post.

Fix Droopy Drawers in a Snap with Dapper Snappers!

When I was a kid, I was a Skinny Minnie. I was called names like Skeleton and Bones because I was so thin. Kids used to say that I was going to blow away in the next strong wind. I ate well and was healthy, but I was just built small. Whenever we bought jeans, my mom would get out her sewing machine and sew big “darts” in the waistband of my pants or skirts so they wouldn’t fall down.

I’m now the mother of four sons, and they’re all thin, too. My twins are now six, and I usually buy their jeans at JCPenney because it’s one of the few places that has affordable jeans in Slim sizes. Otherwise, I have to look for pants with tight elastic. But I recently learned about a terrific product that was invented by a mom who also has a skinny son. They’re called Dapper Snappers! This simple invention is really brilliant.

As you can see in the pictures on this page, Dapper Snappers go through the belt loops on the back of pants and just snap into place. They’re adjustable to four different sizes and come in lots of great colors for boys and girls. You can purchase them singly or in multi-packs! Dapper Snappers can be used on kids from ages 9 months to 6 years. And they work well if you’re potty-training because they don’t need to be removed to get your child’s pants off.

If you’ve got skinny kids like me, go to www.dappersnappers.com to order some Dapper Snappers or find a retailer near you!

LINKS

Website: www.dappersnappers.com
Blog: http://blog.dappersnappers.com/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/DapperSnappers
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DapperSnapperFans



DISCLOSURE: I received a sample of Dapper Snappers to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.