Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You’re Not the Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child (Book Review)

Are you raising a brat? Let’s face it, there are going to be days when we as parents will throw up our arms and ask ourselves, “How did we create this monster?” Kids all have their bratty moments, and it’s good to know that there are now some solutions for curbing this behavior in the book, You’re Not the Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child, by Betsy Brown Braun. The author is a renowned child development and behavior specialist, and a parent educator. And she has adult triplets! As a fellow mom of multiples, I’m impressed by anyone who has survived childhood with triplets.

I love how this book focuses not on punishing bad behavior but rather on cultivating positive character traits in your child that will ultimately lead to less bratty behavior. For instance, chapters focus on encouraging empathy, independence, responsibility, respect, honesty, self-reliance, and gratitude. And this book is practical. It provides specific steps and even scripts for parents to use in a variety of situations. Braun wisely advises parents to avoid the lectures, which usually fall on deaf ears, and demonstrate the desired behaviors instead. I found her approach to be firm, but gentle and loving. Of course, this takes practice to implement, but the author encourages readers to focus on a chapter at a time so you can give each technique a thorough try. You can even skip around in the book to sections that help with behaviors that you may be particularly frustrated by.

If your child is inching her way up on the brat-o-meter, I highly recommend that you get a copy of You’re Not the Boss of Me. You’ll find real-life solutions for nurturing desirable character traits in your child and, ultimately, busting through the brattiness. Visit www.betsybrownbraun.com to learn more about Betsy Brown Braun and her new book, You’re Not the Boss of Me! You can read her parenting blog and sign up for her newsletter at http://betsybrownbraun.com/blog/.





DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my candid review. No other compensation was provided. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on sales made through the affiliate link at left.

Join the Belli Annual Birthday Bash to Save on Fantastic Skin Care Products for Moms and Babies!

What is the #1 skin care brand recommended by OB-GYNs? Belli! I wish I had known about Belli products when I was pregnant with my twins because I could definitely have used their Elasticity Belly Oil, Pampered Pregnancy Body Wash, and Stretchmark Minimizing Cream! What fabulous products they have for pregnant women. If you’re looking for a great gift for an expectant mother, you should definitely consider their Belli Pregnancy Gift Box, which contains five different skin care products for moms-to-be.

But Belli isn’t just for pregnancy. They also have an excellent line of gentle and safe products for baby! Check out the Protect Me Diaper Rash Cream and Pamper Me Talc-Free Baby Powder for your little one’s tender bottom. Their Belli Baby Gift Set makes a perfect shower or new baby gift.

Even if, like me, you’re no longer in the early mama mode, Belli has plenty of products to care for your skin. I love the Eye Brightening Cream and their Acne Clearing Products. Body lotions, exfoliators and scar treatments are great for anyone!

And here’s some really good news: Belli is currently holding its Annual Birthday Bash! To celebrate, you get 30% off your order at www.belliskincare.com. Just pick out what you want and use the code BELLIBASH during checkout to save 30% on your order. If you spend more than $75, shipping is free! But hurry because the Birthday Bash (and the discount) will end on 9/6/10.




DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary samples of Belli products to facilitate my candid review. No other compensation was provided.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Help Your Kids Get Essential Fatty Acids with NutraSea Kids!

I’m definitely not an expert on children’s diets, but as a mother I try to read as much as I can to learn more about the nutrients my children need. One phrase that has popped up a lot lately is “essential fatty acids (EFAs).” These can be found in fish, but if your kids are like mine, they pretty much turn up their noses at most fish. Now, Ascenta has come up with a new product called NutraSea Kids, which enables moms to help their kids consume EFAs in a form that’s palatable to them.

NutraSea Kids comes in liquid form with a Very Berry flavor! Kids aged 2-13 need just one teaspoon a day to get the omega-3 and vitamin D they need for development. Ascenta puts its products through rigorous testing to ensure high quality and purity, as indicated by the Pure Check logo on their products.

My picky kids were unwilling to give NutraSea Kids a try, but I dropped a teaspoon into a smoothie for each of them, and they never knew it was there! Click here to learn more about NutraSea Kids and its benefits. If your child has a fish allergy, you should check with his or her doctor before using NutraSea.

They also make NutraSea+D for adults in a delicious Apple flavor! It is an omega-3 supplement with vitamin D, another essential nutrient. If you don't like to swallow pills or aren't a fish lover, this product is ideal. Click here for information about NutraSea+D. I’ve been using this myself!



DISCLOSURE: I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of NutraSea Kids and received NutraSea samples to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

I See the Sun in China: Helping Children to Learn About Our World (Book Giveaway)

I’ve always had a strong interest in different countries and cultures, and I want to pass that same love on to my children. One way to do that is through reading books that let kids experience life in a foreign country. This can be especially effective when it’s through the eyes of a child. An excellent series for doing this is the I See the Sun Series, published by Satya House Publications. The books in this series help children experience “a day in the life” of a child in a different country.

My kids and I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this new series, I See the Sun in China, by Dedie King and illustrated by Judith Inglese. The first thing you notice when you pick up this children’s book is that it’s written in both English and Mandarin Chinese! My kids were fascinated by the Chinese characters, even though they were unable to read them. The next thing that stands out is the artwork. It’s done in sort of a collage format, with a mix of photographs, drawings, and paper cut-outs. It’s very unique and striking.

Finally, your kids will love the story about a little girl who lives in a rural area of China and takes a ferry to visit her aunt in the city of Shanghai. She is amazed at the huge skyscrapers in the big city, so different from her hometown. She and her aunt do many fun things in the city, taking readers along with them. Children learn, for example, that Chinese people often eat “congee,” a form of rice porridge, for breakfast. The Chinese also play games like Mah jong and do Tai Chi exercises. I See the Sun in China is an enchanting way to introduce children to daily life in China.

I See the Sun in China recently received a 2010 Preferred Choice Award in the Books for Kids category from the Creative Child Awards Program. And I’m thrilled that this book is just the first of a series. Coming soon will be I See the Sun in Nepal, I See the Sun in Afghanistan, I See the Sun in India, and I See the Sun in Russia. As modern technology enables us to interact more with people from different countries, it’s very important for our children to acquire a global perspective at an early age. I hope you’ll start by reading I See the Sun in China to your kids, and then moving on to all the books that come out in this terrific series. Go to www.iseethesunbooks.com for more information.


GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader will receive a copy of the book, I See the Sun in China. To enter, leave a comment on this post with the name of any country that you’d like to learn more about or would like to visit. You must do this to enter the giveaway.

You can earn optional, additional entries by... (leave a separate comment for each)

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting (@ParentingAuthor) on Twitter and tweeting about this giveaway. You may tweet 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)

- 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 Monday, September 13, 2010, at 11:59 PM EST. 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, Mama Zen!




DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on sales made through the Amazon link in this post.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Have an Indulgent Escape in the Shower with a Waterpik EasySelect Showerhead

Did you know that Waterpik makes showerheads? I recently had the opportunity to try the Waterpik EasySelect Showerhead, and I am delighted with it! I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like a wimpy shower. I hate being cold, so I want a strong blast of hot water! The Waterpik EasySelect Showerhead delivers that and more. In fact, their patented OptiFLOW technology increases water force by up to 30%. Moms, this is the massage you’ve been dying for!

Even if you don’t like a strong shower like me, this showerhead is ideal because it has five different spray settings to please everyone: full-body spray, powerspray, water saver, circular massage, and mist. And you can easily change settings while you’re in the shower because the spray selector is on the handle, so you’re not reaching through the water stream. My boys love the mist setting because they can pretend they’re in a rain forest! It also comes with a flexible 5-foot hose so you can pull it down to rinse your little ones’ hair. And even the most unhandy person can install it in minutes.

We are huge fans of our new Waterpik EasySelect Showerhead. I dread taking a shower anyplace else because this one is so invigorating! If you’re tired of your wimpy showerhead and want different showering options for everyone in your family, I urge you to check out the Waterpik EasySelect Showerhead. Go to www.waterpik.com to check it out and find a retailer near you!



DISCLOSURE: MomSelect arranged for me to receive a complimentary Waterpik EasySelect Showerhead to facilitate this review. No financial compensation was provided.

The Power of Unconditional Love: The Key to Potent Leadership in the 21st Century

Guest Post by Johnny Tan
Author, From My Mama’s Kitchen

In a recent exclusive interview, Yahoo! News and The Huffington Post reported that Warren Buffett, known as the Oracle of Omaha and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, learned the lesson of his life. Apparently, while attending the Allen & Company conference, an annual gathering of technology and media leaders in Sun Valley, Idaho, Mr. Buffett credited his father for having taught him the most important concept of his life -- the power of unconditional love.

According to Buffett, “… there is no power on Earth like unconditional love. And I think that if you offered that to your child, I mean you’re 90 percent of the way home. There may be days when you don’t feel like it, it’s not uncritical love, that’s a different animal, but to know you can always come back, that is huge in life. That takes you a long, long way. And I would say that every parent out there that [who] can extend that to their child at an early age, it’s going to make for a better human being.”

As an expert on the subject, I am impressed with his acknowledgment. Although the credit to the source of this awesome teaching is different, for this CEO it was his father, and for me, my 9 moms. Thus, the validation of this awesome power is unequivocal.

The wisdom of this knowledge opens an additional window of opportunities for creative communication, unparalleled understanding and respect that would otherwise not exist because of the limits induced by our own conscious and subconscious self-centeredness. Whether fatherly or motherly love, when it is given without regard to conditions to your loved ones at any age, and in any setting, in our personal or professional life, it will serve as a catalyst to catapult an individual to a higher level of self-actualization.

It is true, as Buffett said, there may be days we don’t feel like it, but to know you can always rely on this level of devotion is a huge vessel in life. With the thorough understanding of the power you can create, foster an environment that promotes harmonious relationships in both your home and business life.

In your home, you can create a perfect setting that offers a fresh perspective for embracing natural nurturing instincts. This approach empowers loved ones from within and allows them to achieve individual excellence. From identifying their personal strengths and weaknesses to formulating a plan of action, helping them accomplish their personal dreams, goals, and desires becomes a heartfelt passion.

When you unleash the power of this phenomenon into your business, you demonstrate potent leadership with a unique approach. You are now teaching, coaching, and counseling individuals and team members to achieve the synergy of corporate oneness. This will enhance personal and professional development, and create a happy working environment, resulting in better interpersonal relationships, increased productivity, and improved profits.

As my Italian foster mom, Carol, would say, as indicated in my book, From My Mama’s Kitchen, “Wisdom comes when we combine knowledge, understanding and compassion. We do not need more logic in our life. We need to use our rationality to work collaboratively with our intuition instead of using it to overrule what we instinctively know.”

This sage of Omaha successfully used the power of his dad’s technique for his personal and professional life. Although my own dad had passed on at a critical time in my life, I did not lose the opportunity to learn this valuable lesson thanks to my 9 moms. The power of unconditional love transcends genders and cultures. It reminds us that we are all part of the bigger world. Always remember that we all have the same potential. It’s just a matter of what strengths we are willing to utilize. We can choose to use it at any time for the greater good of our family or to enrich our business with spicy leadership.

So when do we use this power? To answer this question, I would like to share with you this recipe for living from my German mom, Dianne, as indicated in my book, From My Mama’s Kitchen, “Every once in a while a situation may occur that requires us to radiate our energy of positive goodwill, compassion, and love for others. Until we try to put ourselves beyond our comfort zone, we will not realize we have what it takes to make a difference in that person’s life and in ours.”

Throughout our life’s journey, we will continue to gain and encounter new experiences. Some experiences, good or bad, will stay with us for the rest of our life. It is how we manage them that will ultimately determine our idea of success or failure. Applying the power of unconditional love to either situation will always lead us to living a memorable and satisfied personal and professional life.

Johnny Tan
Motivational Speaker
Talk Show Host: FMMKTalkRadio
Award-Winning Author: From My Mama’s Kitchen -- “food for the soul, recipes for living”
(Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient -- Inspirational/Motivational)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Season Five of Curious George Is Coming on PBS Kids!

I’ve loved Curious George ever since I was a little girl. Who can resist that spunky little monkey and his friend, the man with the yellow hat? Back then, we could only enjoy Curious George through his books, but thanks to PBS Kids, today’s children can watch him on TV, too! This Labor Day, September 6, begins the fifth season of this Emmy Award-winning series.

In the premiere episode, “George and Marco Sound It Out,” George meets eight-year-old Marco, who performs with his family in a pan-Latin band. When the bandstand where they perform is taken down, George and Marco must find another place for the band to play. Along the way, George learns all about Hispanic food, music and festivities!

My children and I were able to preview this episode, along with another new episode called “A Monkey’s Duckling.” My boys love Curious George and were fascinated by these new adventures from beginning to end. Kids and parents can also visit Curious George on his own website at http://pbskids.org/curiousgeorge/. There they’ll find a lot of fun games, video clips, and printables!

I hope that you and your children will join Curious George for his new season starting on Labor Day! Click on “TV Schedule” at the website above to find out when Curious George is shown on your local PBS station.



DISCLOSURE: I received a press copy of the Labor Day showing of Curious George. No other compensation was provided.

Back to School with Bari Koral!

I love Bari Koral’s music for kids. Her tagline is “rock songs for kids that parents dig,” and I couldn’t agree more! Just in time for back to school, Bari has released a new video called “The Backpack Song.” Check it out!



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


This song is on her CD, “Rock and Roll Garden.” Go to www.barikoral.com to hear more of Bari’s foot-stomping music and order her CDs! Find out why the New York Post called her the “Sheryl Crow for Kids”!




DISCLOSURE: No compensation or products were exchanged for this post. I just love to spread the word about great family-friendly music and artists!

Including Sign Language in Early Childhood Curriculum

Guest Post by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

One of the keys to surviving in a tilted economic system in which opportunities to achieve a decent standard of living will be limited is versatility -- and the ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways with the widest possible audience. This includes bilingual ability as well as the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways for the benefit of the disabled -- primarily the deaf.

At the same time, a growing shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language has led to more career opportunities -- and if current trends continue, it’s likely that skilled ASL interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a commodity is destined to be in short supply.

Signing Before They Can Speak

A great deal of research has clearly demonstrated that the early years -- ages 2 to five -- are the best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.

This is not as odd as you may think. As you know, many indigenous peoples around the world, including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals -- who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words -- depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate.

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:

“...by 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children
can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children
can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces
frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves
before they know how to talk.” (Glarion, 2003)

The author also cites study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that “using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration ... [he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music” (Glarion, 2003).

The Best Time to Start

Not only does early childhood education in signing give pre-verbal youngsters a way to communicate, it can also strengthen the parent-child bond -- in addition to giving children a solid foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future. The evidence suggests that the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk -- and the implications for facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Zionsville educational day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of Indiana educational day care preschools delivering the progressive, early childhood Balanced Learning® curriculum.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to School with Super WHY! (DVD Giveaway)

PBS Kids has some really great shows, and one of them is Super WHY! Children love it because it’s fun, but parents like that it helps kids learn the fundamentals of reading through interactive storybook adventures. If you’re not acquainted with Super WHY yet, it features a team of superhero characters with literacy powers who jump into books for answers to everyday preschool challenges. Children watching the show are superhero sidekicks who are encouraged and empowered to participate in the reading fun through research-based literacy games.

If your child is getting ready to go to school for the first time or preparing to go back to school after summer vacation, Super WHY’s literacy experts have some tips for what you can do as a parent to help your child acquire early reading skills while preparing for the start of school:

Visit the library or bookstore: Find books that start a dialogue about school to help get young children feeling comfortable and confident about this new experience. Read the books together and identify key words.

Practice going to school: Point out places that are familiar to your children on the way to school and encourage them to read or find letters on the signs as you pass -- even their school sign!

Tool up: While shopping for school supplies, read the list out loud and have kids spell out words like pencil or paper.

Create a cozy study space with your child: Before the school year even starts, set up an area together that is comfortable and quiet. This can also be a place to spend quality time reading.

Head over to http://pbskids.org/superwhy for super useful -- and fun! -- online content, activities, games and more designed to help parents engage kids in reading!

GIVEAWAY

The all-new Super WHY DVD, "Attack of the Eraser: A Comic Book Adventure," is available just in time for the start of school with FOUR “super” reading-powered episodes, including “Attack of the Eraser,” “The Story of the Tooth Fairy,” “The Cookbook,” and “The Big Game!” Here’s your opportunity to win a copy! To enter, go to http://pbskids.org/superwhy, and then return here to leave a comment about something you liked on the site. You must do this to enter the giveaway.

You can earn optional, additional entries by... (leave a separate comment for each)

- Following PBS Kids (@PBSKids) and Susan Heim on Parenting (@ParentingAuthor) on Twitter and tweeting about this giveaway. You may tweet 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)

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

- Liking PBS Kids 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 Friday, September 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, Kelly D.!



DISCLOSURE: No products or compensation were provided for this post.

Yes, Busy Moms Can Earn a College Degree! Here’s How…

I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but always wish I had stayed in college to get my master’s degree. Over the past twenty-some years since graduation, I’ve considered going back to college, but with four children and the need to earn a living, it always got put on the back burner. But now that it’s becoming easier and more acceptable to earn a degree online, the possibility of getting my master’s is becoming much more of a reality. I recently learned about American Public University (APU), which offers 100% online degrees -- an extremely attractive option to busy moms like me! Here are some of the advantages of earning a degree through APU:

Flexibility and Variety: They offer more than 100 online degrees and certificates, and students can do their coursework on their own time and schedule. Associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees are available in a wide variety of fields.

Affordability: APU’s undergraduate tuition is just $750 for a 3-credit course and $900 for a graduate course. In fact, APU’s overall cost for undergraduate tuition, fees and books is $21 per semester hour less than the average four-year public university. They also offer a Book Grant program to help with the cost of course materials, as well as a transfer credit program.

Quality and Credibility: If you have a four-year degree, you can expect to earn, on average, over $800,000 more over your lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. Have a higher degree? You may earn over $1 million more than a high school grad in your lifetime. APU is a member of the American Public University System, recognized as a leading education provider by a large number of military, federal, private and public sector employers. APU’s sister institution, the American Military University, is the #1 education provider to the US military.

Does the thought of a college degree sound attractive to you? Go to www.studyatapu.com/moms to learn more about American Public University’s online degree programs for moms. This could be the opportunity you’ve been looking for to earn a college degree. Maybe it’s finally time for me to pursue my master’s degree, too!




DISCLOSURE: I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of American Public University. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

How to Sue a Telemarketer in Small Claims Court

NOTE: If you get annoyed by telemarketers calling your house at all hours of the day, you’ll want to check out Steve Ostrow’s new book, How to Sue a Telemarketer: A Manual for Restoring Peace on Earth One Phone Call at a Time. The following is an article provided by the author that explains new legislation against telemarketing and what your options are for getting the calls to stop.

Congress has spoken! Anti-telemarketing legislation has been passed. Under reasonable restrictions, certain tactics by telemarketers are prohibited and court actionable. Violations can be enforced by the State via the attorney general’s office, the public via class action lawsuits or private lawsuits, and individuals via the small claims court.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) started the ball rolling. Congress was torn between the special interest lobbyists and the people’s vote. The green cash of the lobbyists stalled the legislature for numerous years, but eventually the annoyance of the telemarketing industry became too much. The door opened and the unfettered invasion of free speech was outweighed by the consumer’s right to privacy. After strong objection and outrage by consumers groups, the common sense legislation protecting the privacy of one’s own home was long overdue.

The 1991 original law was pretty weak and without sharp teeth. A free bite at the apple was given and the first offense by a telemarketer to a residence was forgiven with only a simple apology. A second offense was required in order to make an unsolicited commercial call actionable. Basically business did not change under the original law. In 2003, over great objection from the special interest groups, came the National Do Not Call Registry. Yes, 2003 was a great year for the peace and quiet in a consumer’s home. Instead of a consumer requesting individual companies from not calling the home telephone soliciting their service, a residential consumer could sign up at one location and prohibit almost all telemarketers from calling the home phone number. The burden shifted to the telemarketing companies to check “the registry” rather than having the consumer contact the merchant and opt out. Penalties were instituted which are collectible by attorney generals, lawyers, and individuals through the small claims process.

Under the TCPA and the Do Not Call Registry, there are several different violations which are collectible. The most popular ones are:

1. Calling a residential telephone number that is on the National Do Not Call Registry;
2. Using a pre-recorded dialing device to initiate a commercial sale;
3. Using a blocked telephone number when initiating a commercial sale;
4. Soliciting a consumer before 8am or after 9pm;
5. Failure to provide a copy of the company’s Do Not Call Manual after demand for a copy.

Each violation is actionable separately, or can be “stacked” together when multiple infractions are incurred. Even though the courts are supposed to punish each violation with a $500 penalty, different judges will approach cases differently. Some judges will allow you to “stack” as many violations into one case as possible. Others may limit you to one, two, or three causes of action. Regardless of the amount of the judgment, you are able to prosecute the invasion of your peace and privacy in your home through the small claim courts.

Penalties under the TCPA may be “trebled” when the court finds that the violation is intentional. It can be tedious to understand when a telemarketing violation is intentional and when it is not. Rationally thinking, all solicitations by telemarketers are intentional; they are intentionally picking up the phone at their boiler rooms and randomly telephoning as many people as possible making their commercial pitch. It is not accidental that your number may be called, just random bad luck. I guess the easiest way to understand the intentional tripling of damages is using the playoff basketball foul analogy. Some fouls are hard basketball fouls, some are flagrant one fouls, and others flagrant two. Sometimes you just shoot free throws, other times you get ejected from the game. Sometimes the court awards you $500; sometimes the atrocious call telephone solicitation can be awarded $1,500. It’s all up to the ref.

If you are a Democrat and you get a telephone solicitation from a Republican candidate, slow down before you start licking your lips about bringing the opposing political party to its knees. Under the TCPA, certain types of speech are exempted from lawsuits under the Act. Always remember, the violations under the TCPA were balanced with the First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech. Certain solicitation exceptions are specifically carved out:

1. Tax exempt non-profit organizations, including political parties and campaigns;
2. Organizations with which you’ve had a prior business relationship;
3. Organizations with which you’ve given prior written permission and not expressly revoked;
4. Calls which are NOT COMMERCIAL.

Convenience is a big part of our lives. All of us would like to nail these pesky telemarketers; sometimes it is easier just to hang up the telephone. However, if you are in the mood to make some cash and fight back against these commercial parasites, the good news about small claims court litigation is that it can prosecuted in our home backyard. Since the violation occurred at our telephone, the proper jurisdiction for the action would be our local court.

Steve Ostrow is an attorney, celebrity impersonator and the author of the new book, How to Sue a Telemarketer: A Manual for Restoring Peace on Earth One Phone Call at a Time. To date, Steve has successfully sued, or settled, won and collected, over 10 judgments against telemarketers. To find out more and order his book, go to www.howtosueatelemarketer.com. Watch Steve on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/SueTelemarketers.


Join us on the How to Sue a Telemarketer virtual tour. To learn more about the tour, visit http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/07/05/how-to-sue-a-telemarketer/. You can also learn more about How to Sue a Telemarketer at http://howtosueatelemarketer.com/.

DISCLOSURE: No compensation of any kind was exchanged for this post.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Meet Nito the Assistance Dog in a Series of Delightful Children’s Books!

Nito, the star of a series of children’s books by Judith M. Newton, is very special because he is an assistance dog! Assistance dogs aid people with all kinds of disabilities. In her delightful books, Newton teaches children about the training required and the tasks performed by assistance dogs like Nito.

In the first book, Nito’s Tale, Nito is just a little puppy when he is selected for the training program through Assistance Dogs of the West. He is lovingly groomed to take on his new responsibilities and takes pride in his red vest and ability to perform his job. At the end of the book, he graduates and becomes sad at the thought of leaving his friends at the school. But then he realizes that he will soon have a new home with someone who needs him!

In Nito Meets Chloe, Nito is adopted by his new family and becomes the assistant to Chloe, a little girl in a wheelchair. He helps her dress, goes to school with her, cares for her at the pool and the store, and even goes out for pizza with her! He’s a little scared, though, when he and Chloe ride on a Ferris wheel. At the end of the book, Chloe’s mom has a very special surprise for them!

Nito has done a great job taking care of Chloe and learns that he’ll be named Service Dog of the Year in Nito and Chloe Get an Invitation. They head to Washington, DC, where Nito will be presented with his award by the US President! Nito travels on a plane for the first time and sees many historic sights in Washington. He and Chloe are moved by a statue of President Roosevelt in his wheelchair with his dog Fala by his side. At the end, Nito receives his award and even takes a splash in the White House swimming pool!

These three lovely rhyming books (adorably illustrated by Sue Blackburn) are a wonderful way to teach children about disabilities, assistance dogs, and the Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW) program in Santa Fe. In fact, profits from the sale of these three books support the ADW’s programs. Please visit www.assistancedogsofthewest.org to order these books and support this valuable program!



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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Moon Dough Play Sets Are Out of This World!

Recently, my husband and I both had to be out for a few hours, and my twenty-year-old son was recruited to watch our six-year-old twins. Fortunately, I’d received a Moon Dough Barnyard Play Set to review, and that kept all of them occupied for most of the evening! When I came home, the boys were all excited to show me their Moon Dough creations.


Moon Dough is hard to describe. It’s kind of a combination between play dough and sand, but it never dries out so you can use it over and over again. There are some really cute kits available for Moon Dough, such as a Pizza Shop, a Magical Molding Doghouse, and a Burger Shop! We received the Moon Dough Barnyard (pictured below). You can make cows, pigs, sheep, and horses when you put the Moon Dough in the silo and turn the crank. It even comes with a play mat so kids can create their own farm scene with the barn and the animals they’ve made.


I was told that the kit is for ages 2-4, but my 6-year-olds had a great time with it and asked to play with it again the next day! Moon Dough is hypo-allergenic and wheat-free, and it’s easy to clean up. It comes in eight colors and is available at many major retailers, such as Toys “R” Us, Target, Walmart, Kmart, Amazon and more. Go to www.moondough.com to learn more about Moon Dough and the fun play sets!

LINKS

Website: www.moondough.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MoonDough
Twitter: www.twitter.com/moondoughtoy





DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary Moon Dough Barnyard Play Set to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on sales made through the link at left.

My Favorite Family Time Ideas

LEGO® and TwitterMoms are asking bloggers: What are your five favorite family time ideas? Here’s what our family does to ensure some fun quality time together!

Movie Night: On Friday or Saturday night, we pick a family-friendly movie and settle down in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn! Last weekend, we all watched the original Nanny McPhee movie. It was great!

Game Night: Whenever my parents visit, we break out the Scrabble board. This is a great way to involve my teenagers in a family-oriented activity and involve multiple generations.

Beach Day: There’s something for everybody at the beach! We’re fortunate to live near the ocean, so we head over there a few times a month for a family-friendly -- and budget-friendly -- day!

Fun Event: I seek out local events that the family can attend together. For example, I recently wrote about taking the kids to a Turtle Hatchling Release where we watched baby turtles being released into the ocean.

Make Your Own Pizza: Friday night is pizza night at our house. Sometimes, we’ll make individual pizzas and let everyone select their own toppings. This is a lot of fun and a great way to empower kids to make their own meals!



DISCLOSURE: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and LEGO blogging program, making me eligible to get a prize pack. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Googly Rings and Charm Necklaces Are the Hot New Collectibles! (Giveaway)

I’ve written before about Googly Bands. Kids all around the country are crazy about these collectible bracelets. And now they can collect and trade more than bracelets because Googly Rings and Charm Necklaces have arrived! Here’s a picture of one of my sons showing off his new Googly Rings. He and his brother are constantly trading them back and forth.


As you can see in the panel below, there are many designs available and more to come, I’m sure.


And here’s what the Charm Necklaces look like. Inside each package are a long rubber necklace and 12 charms that can be strung on it. Like the rings and bands, the charms come in all different shapes and can be traded.


Check out all the great Googly products through the links below. Click here for a list of major retailers that sell Googly Bands, Rings and Charm Necklaces!

LINKS

Website: www.googlybands.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GooglyBands
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GooglyBands

GIVEAWAY

I have a package containing a Googly Charm Necklace along with 12 Charms in the “Heels” design to give to one lucky winner! The charms look like little designer shoes in various colors. (See bottom right design in the picture above.) To enter, leave a comment here with your suggestion for a design for Googly products! You must do this to enter the giveaway.

You can earn optional, additional entries by... (leave a separate comment for each)

- Following GooglyBands (@GooglyBands) and 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 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)

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

- Liking Googly Bands 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, September 8, 2010, at 11:59 PM EST. 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, CathyB!



DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary Googly Rings and a Charm Necklace to facilitate this review. The Charm Necklace is being given away in this contest.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Baby Sea Turtles

We're fortunate to live near the Atlantic Ocean because we had the opportunity to take the boys to see a Turtle Hatching Release. The baby turtles scheduled for release were found by marine biologists at the bottom of turtle nests in the sand because the turtles weren't able to get out. Since they were found in the morning, they couldn't be released to head into the ocean right away because they'd get burned up by the sun and disoriented by all the light. Therefore, the scientists took them back to the lab for a week or so and then brought them back to the beach at night to encourage them to swim out to sea where they belong. This is a little green sea turtle right before it was released that evening. (I know he looks black, but he's called a "green turtle" because he's a herbivore and eats only plants from the ocean.) If you look closely in the second picture, you can see that it actually has a "belly button" where it was attached to the inside of its egg. We went down to the sand to watch the baby turtles go out to sea around 9:00 PM, but unfortunately we weren't allowed to use flash photography, so none of those photos turned out. We released 59 loggerhead turtles and 6 green turtles. It was quite a sight!



Find a Great Baby Photographer and Enter the “Smile Baby” Contest!

It’s not easy to find a photographer for your precious little one. Let’s face it, taking pictures of babies and children can be extremely challenging, and not all photographers have the desire or the expertise to tackle the job. So, you need to find someone who specializes in children’s photography. Now there’s a great online resource for doing that. It’s called, naturally, BabyPhotographers.com!

This site is so easy to use. Just type in your location, and a list will come up of the nearest baby photographers. When I searched on my hometown, I located three baby photographers in my city, plus one in a city not far away. Each listing gave a brief description of their work, their contact information, and even a map to their location. How simple is that? Now I can call them and compare their services and prices. This is much easier and more productive than trying to pore through the yellow pages. I also love how this site includes helpful articles such as, “Photographers’ Top Secret Tips to Make Every Photo Session Successful” and “Top 5 Photo Apps for iPhone.”

Photo by Kiralisa Photography
Another exciting thing about BabyPhotographers.com is that they’re currently holding a “Smile Baby” contest where you have the chance to win a $2,000, $1,000 or $500 gift certificate to the photographer of your choice from within the BabyPhotographers.com site! All you have to do is describe in 100-200 words how you get your baby to laugh for the camera. Go to www.babyphotographers.com/content/contest.html for complete rules. The contest ends on September 30, 2010.

The holidays are coming up. Wouldn’t a beautiful photo of your little one make the perfect gift for your family? Go to BabyPhotographers.com and make an appointment with a local photographer right away!

Website: www.babyphotographers.com
Contest: www.babyphotographers.com/content/contest.html
Twitter: www.twitter.com/babyphotogs
Facebook: www.facebook.com/babyphotogs



DISCLOSURE: As a thank you for this post, Team Mom is entering me into a drawing to win a gift certificate for the photographer of my choice from the Babyphotographers.com site. Baby photo above courtesy of Kiralisa Photography.