Monday, March 30, 2009

Life to the Max: Book Review and Giveaway

When an Airedale Terrier named Max entered the household of Robin Reynolds, he quickly made himself at home and taught Robin and her family many life lessons. In Life to the Max: Maxims for a Great Life by a Dog Named Max, Max narrates his own life (with the help of his “mom” Robin), from his adoption at the Humane Society to his eventual death. He describes his adventures with Bernie, the family’s other Airedale, along with Amber, the puppy they adopted after Bernie’s death. Max also “writes” about the adoption of his human brother, Andrew, as well as the many trials he goes through, such as melanoma and amputation, getting picked up by Animal Control, and the physical problems associated with aging. Through it all, Max always maintains his sunny disposition and teaches his family many “maxims,” such as:

When bad things happen, worrying won’t change anything. Trust you’ll get through it.
Trust that you’ll meet just the right people at just the right time.
Get the most out of life by doing things you enjoy!
Help someone else by sharing the gift of you.
No matter what happens, there are reasons to be happy and grateful.
Never miss a chance to tell those closest to you that you love them.
…And much more!

Life to the Max is extremely well-written and filled with beautiful photos of Max with his canine and human companions. Best of all, this book appeals to everyone, both children and adults. Not only is it inspirational, but it can be read to children to stimulate family conversations about caring for pets, illness, friendship, adoption, aging, and death. It’s not surprising that this book was named Best Gift Book in the 2008 AZ Book Awards and received an Award of Excellence from the Dog Writer Association of America. Twenty-five percent of the book’s sale price is donated to animal rescue organizations. Visit to learn more about Life to the Max and order a copy for all the animal lovers in your life!

I also have an autographed copy of Life to the Max to give away! To enter, leave a comment about your favorite pet and why you love him or her.

For optional additional entries, you can:

- Put a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog. (The code is in the upper right-hand corner of this blog.) Post a comment with your blog’s URL.

- Tweet this giveaway on Twitter or post it on your blog. Leave a comment with your Twitter name or a link to the post.

- Subscribe to Susan Heim on Parenting via email, RSS or as a Follower on Blogger. Leave a comment with your subscription method.

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments on Friday, April 10, 2009.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, liane66!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting Back into Shape After Childbirth

Much to my dismay, my body has never been the same since I’ve had children. My formerly flat tummy is no longer flat. I’ve got stretch marks and saggy skin (especially after my pregnancy with twins). And ... well, I won’t go into any other details. Suffice it to say, this body hasn’t seen a bikini in years! Pregnancy does a lot of strange things to the body, both temporary and permanent. I always thought these changes were just something that I’d have to live with, but I’ve recently been introduced to several products that can help new moms counteract some of the negative impacts of pregnancy on the body and get back into shape faster. Keep in mind that you should NEVER go on a starvation diet or engage in a strenuous exercise program to try to look like some of your favorite celebrities after they’ve just had a baby. That’s just not healthy or safe! But there are programs available that can help you without hurting you.

Bounce Back Fast! Post Natal Core Conditioning (DVD)

This award-winning DVD by Helene Byrne, a nationally recognized perinatal exercise specialist, fitness author and certified personal trainer, is just what your body needs if you’ve recently had a baby. This gentle but effective program helps to rebuild the abdominal wall from the inside out, develop functional core stability and realign the spine. What I especially like about this DVD is that it isn’t your standard workout video. Helene really educates new moms about the physiology of their bodies.

The DVD also contains two different workouts. The first one, “Gentle First Moves,” can be started just a few days after birth. It helps the body to heal from labor and delivery, relieves discomfort, stretches sore muscles, protects vulnerable joints and ligaments, and even starts flattening and firming up that “jelly belly”! Once you can easily do this program, you’re ready to move on to the second workout, “Bounce Back Fast!” This helps you to develop deep core strength, realigns and lengthens your spine, repairs abdominal separation, restores pelvic floor muscles, and much more.

This DVD even includes a free exercise resistance band inside the package, which increases the effectiveness of the exercises. Bounce Back Fast is a fabulous and safe program that new moms can do in the privacy of their own home at their convenience. Each workout is about a half-hour, so it can be squeezed in while your baby is napping.

Helene Byrne is also the author of a book, Exercise After Pregnancy: How to Look and Feel Your Best, and founder of BeFit-Mom, which provides moms with expert information on prenatal and postpartum fitness and exercise for healthier pregnancies and recovery. Please visit to learn more about the Bounce Back Fast DVD, the Exercise After Pregnancy book and the BeFit-Mom program. (And you get a special price if you buy both the DVD and book directly from!)

The Hot Mommy Next Door (Book)

This book by Alison M. Fadoul chronicles her post-natal weight loss journey, sharing with readers how she quickly transformed into the “hot mommy next door” after giving birth to her second child without resorting to a fad diet. The Hot Mommy Next Door helps to motivate new mothers to get back into shape and lose the excess weight after pregnancy, and provides a sensible meal plan for reaching these goals. The five principles of the Smart Choices Eating Guidelines include: 1) Eat five small, well-balanced meals a day; 2) Eat two and a half to three and a half hours apart; 3) Eat “clean” meals consisting of lean protein, healthy fat, complex carbs, low sodium, and low to no sugar; 4) Drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day; and, 5) Enjoy one “cheat meal” a week. Plenty of tasty recipes and shopping lists are included! Visit to learn more about The Hot Mommy Next Door and sign up for Alison Fadoul’s weekly ezine “Tips from the Hot Mommy Next Door.”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Foods That Make My Mouth Water

One of the great things about being a product reviewer is that I get to try out some really tasty foods! Following are two especially scrumptious products I’ve been fortunate enough to try.

Coombs Family Farms Maple Products

There’s nothing better on pancakes or waffles than real maple syrup. For seven generations (since 1840!), Coombs Family Farms has been making 100% pure maple syrup. And since 1988, they’ve been making certified organic maple syrup! Their products are simply amazing. Besides syrup, they also sell pure maple sugar (to use as a sweetener), pancake mix, and maple candy! I had a piece of the candy and it melted in my mouth. I encourage you to visit their website at They have delicious recipes, information on how they work with small family farmers and are environmentally conscious, an explanation of how maple syrup is graded, the company’s history, and even an “e-letter” that you can sign up for. Compare the taste of their syrups to your usual maple-flavored corn syrup, and you’ll never want anything but real maple syrup again!

Ciao Bella Gelato and Sorbet Single-Serve Cups

Ciao Bella has been selling ultra-premium ice cream and sorbet in pints for a while, but they’ve just come out with single-serve cups that are terrific for a quick portion-controlled treat or to give to the kids. The first two flavors to come out are blood orange sorbet and pistachio gelato. I have to tell you that the blood orange sorbet is awesome! It is so tart and flavorful. I absolutely loved it. The pistachio gelato was very good, as well. Best of all, their sorbet, besides being delicious, is fat-free, cholesterol-free and made with real fruit, with no artificial ingredients or colors. So, it’s now my new “guilt-free” indulgence! (And I love the adorable little spoon that’s under the lid!) Visit for more information.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wett Giggles: A Fun Addition to Your Child’s Easter Basket!

I’m always looking for items for my twins’ Easter baskets that aren’t candy, but aren’t expensive either. These adorable Wett Giggles fit the bill perfectly!

Wett Giggles are soaps made from natural glycerin, essential oils and shea butter, and they have a toy/manicure brush encased in them! The manicure brushes are shaped like animals with cute Shakespearean names, like Hamlet the Frog, Juliet the Duck, and Beatrice the Cow. I just love the little duck for Easter!

My boys always have dirty fingernails, so the manicure brush actually makes it fun for them to clean under their nails. But if your children are too young for the manicure brush, there are two Wett Giggles toys encased in soap without the brush. Or, if you just want to get the toy/manicure brush without the soap, that’s available, too!

Hurry over to to get your Wett Giggles in time for Easter!

Kids and Sports -- and Some Cool Sports Products

My five-year-old twins just finished up the season for their first organized sport, soccer. I must say that it was a mixed success. Sometimes, they got into the game. Other days, they were more interested in what snacks were available. But, all in all, it was a good experience for them in learning the fundamentals of soccer and what it's like to be part of a team. The quick 30-second video below shows the highlights of their season!

One of the problems with soccer is the cleats! My boys loved to stomp all over our hardwood floors and drag in mud from the field. So, I was very excited to hear about Cleatskins, which are non-slip rubber soles that fit over plastic and rubber cleated footwear to protect your floors, as well as extend the life of your athletic footwear. Cleatskins come in many fun colors, and fit shoes for both youth and adults for baseball, softball, soccer, football, lacrosse, and more. If you or your kids play sports, I encourage you to visit to check out the selection and find out where you can get a pair!

Another great sports product I've recently come across for my boys is the new Bell Sports bike helmet. We've always had trouble trying to get our boys' helmets to fit snugly and properly because the straps never seemed to cooperate! Bell's new helmet, with its "True Fit" technology, is designed to take care of that problem. Both of my twins now have one of these helmets, and we love them. The boys, of course, don't care if they fit well, but they love the cool designs! If you're having trouble getting your child's bike helmet to fit properly, I encourage you to try Bell's new helmet, which you can now find at Target, Toys'R'Us and other retailers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Dreaded Pink Eye Strikes Again!

One of my twins came home from preschool on Monday with pink eye. It’s the second time in just a few months, and he also had it a year ago (along with his twin brother). Unfortunately, pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, is highly contagious, so it tends to circulate frequently in the schools.

The first sign for my kids is usually the “gunkiness,” as I call it. Mucus oozes out of the corner of their eye. The affected eye(s) also get red, which you can see especially well if you pull down on the lower lid. Some kids may complain about watering eyes, swollen eyelids, itchiness or soreness, crusty eyes when they awaken from sleep, or the feeling that something is in their eyes.

Pink eye can be caused by either a virus or bacteria, so it’s important to get to the doctor for some medication because the bacterial kind won’t go away on its own. (The viral form will usually disappear by itself in 7-10 days.) People with allergies may also suffer from allergic conjunctivitis.

And, yes, adults are at risk of contracting it, too! Everyone in the house should wash their hands frequently. Don’t share towels or pillowcases. Encourage your children to keep their hands away from their face, especially their eyes and nose. Kids with pink eye need to stay home from school until their eyes are better to prevent spreading it to their classmates. If you also come down with pink eye, wear your glasses instead of contact lenses while you’re undergoing treatment (and throw out your old pair of lenses) and replace all of your eye cosmetics.

Source: The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Technorati Tags:
, , ,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Money-Saving Tips for College Students and Their Parents

This time last year, my oldest son was contemplating colleges, majors, and finances. I’m thrilled that the choice he made turned out to be the perfect one for him! He loves his university and his field of study, and his scholarships and prepaid college plan have definitely come in handy. But for anyone with a student in college, or soon to be in college, money is always a big issue, especially in today’s tough economy. So I asked Marie Pinak Carr, who coauthored the book, Sending Your Child to College: The Prepared Parent’s Operational Manual, with her daughters, Katharine Carr, Ann Carr and Elizabeth Carr, to give families with college-bound kids some suggestions for saving money at college.

Ten Tips for Saving Money
By Marie Pinak Carr

This year, more than ever, college bound students and their parents will want to spread their spending dollars as far as possible. I have sent three daughters to 4 different colleges and here are 10 tips that will help parents save money.

1. Don’t pay for health insurance twice. Read the tuition bill carefully. There is often a charge for health insurance that you can opt out of with the proper certification from your insurance companies. Many states have laws in place that require all full-time students to have medical insurance. As a result, regardless of your current medical insurance coverage, you might be billed for the insurance offered through the college.

2. Remember to think green and reuse and recycle as much as possible when procuring items for the dorm room. Take advantage of the summer holiday sales. Target, Wal-mart and Staples have incredible school supplies sales in July. Stock up on school supplies, especially binders and spiral notebooks that college students need for every course.

3. College books are expensive, often more than $100.00 each. Remember that the local college bookstore is not the only source for these books and that there is a surcharge for the convenience. After registration and before classes start, have your child go to the bookstore with a pad and paper. Look up the books needed for a particular course and jot down the title, author and ISBN number. This will assure that you have the correct edition. Next search the best price on the web and at other stores.

4. Utilize the meal plan to the max. Rent a fridge/micro combination unit for the dorm room to fill with extra fruit, bagels, etc. that your child can procure from the dining hall for those evening snacks. Take extra napkins, prepackaged condiments, salt, pepper, etc. when in the dining halls and other fast food restaurants that you visit. Use these for those late night snacks.

5. Drink water. Buy a water filter and fill a reusable bottle. It’s cheaper, healthier, and will help avoid the “Freshman fifteen.” Tea drinkers, take extra tea bags and sugar packages from the dining hall.

6. Don’t forget to utilize the college print allowances. Most colleges provide each registered student with a set number of pages that they can print from any of the networked printers on campus. This could be as many as 1,000 pages per student per semester. This not only saves the cost of paper but also ink for the printer.

7. Use skype ( as a means of communicating. This is a free downloadable program that allows any pc to talk with any other pc anywhere, anytime.

8. Avoid fees for using another bank’s ATM.

9. Use the student discount. Movie theaters, bookstores, museums, and even name brand stores now offer students discounts on their purchases.

10. Leave the car home.

Marie Carr is the mother of 3 college daughters who has spent the past six years sending them to 4 different schools and to study abroad. She has been an active participant on three college parent councils and coached hundreds of parents of college bound students. Her book, Sending Your Child to College: The Prepared Parent’s Operational Manual, is available in bookstores or from

Friday, March 20, 2009

Win $50 from Photofiddle for a Perfect Mother’s Day Gift!

In January, I told you about a terrific website called Photofiddle, which takes your photos and turns them into works of art! Now, just in time for Mother’s Day, they’re generously offering readers of this blog a $50 gift certificate to be used for a Photofiddle masterpiece.

In case you missed my previous post about Photofiddle, here’s how it works: You email your favorite photo to them, and they morph it into an unbelievable piece of artwork that looks like a real painting or sketch! They have a wide variety of art styles to choose from, such as Modern, Oil Painting, Low Detail Watercolor, Fantasy, Impasto, Kaleidoscopic, Color Sketch, Pop Art, and many more. You can preview your picture in all of the various styles and pick the one you love.

This is a one-of-a-kind Mother’s Day gift that she will cherish forever. You can give Mom a picture of the children that looks like it’s been painted by an artist! Or surprise her with a picture of her adored pet or favorite flowers. The possibilities are endless. And don’t forget gifts for Grandma and your special aunt. Head over to to check out their incredible samples and learn more about their services.

So, how do you enter to win the $50 gift certificate to Photofiddle? Just leave a comment here describing the photo you would submit and who your Mother’s Day recipient would be (your mother, grandmother, sister, etc.).

For optional additional entries:

- Put a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog. Post a comment with your blog’s URL.

- Tweet this giveaway on Twitter or post it on your blog. Leave a comment with your Twitter name or a link to the post.

- Subscribe to Susan Heim on Parenting via email, RSS or as a Follower on Blogger. Leave a comment with your subscription method.

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments on April 2, 2009.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to my2boyz, who won the $50 Photofiddle gift certificate for putting the Susan Heim on Parenting button on her blog roll.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Religious Books for Children (and Giveaway!)

In today’s troubled world, parents can use all the help they can get in teaching their children about morality, values and human kindness. Sharing faith-based or religious books together is one way to “get the message across” without being heavy-handed. The following wonderful children’s books have recently crossed my path:

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name
By Sally Lloyd-Jones
Illustrated by Jago
Publisher: Zondervan

Yes, there are plenty of children’s bibles on the market, but this one stands out for its vivid and beautiful illustrations, as well as its lively storytelling. For instance, in the story where Jesus feeds 5,000 people with just a few fish and some loaves of bread, we read: “As Jesus’ friends started to hand out the food, do you know what? It was the strangest thing, no matter how much they broke off—there was always more. And more. And more. Enough for 5,000! Everyone ate as much as they wanted—seconds, thirds, even fourths—until they were full. And there were still leftovers.” Can you see children’s eyes opening in amazement? They’ll love hearing these stories from the Old and New Testaments told in such a fresh way.

The Miracle of Me: From Conception to Birth
By Amy B. Pedersen
Designed by Betty Hood

Children are always fascinated when their mother or another woman is expecting a baby. They want to know how that little child can fit into Mommy’s tummy and what he looks like inside. The Miracle of Me takes children on a week-by-week journey through pregnancy from the baby’s perspective! And it’s all told through the use of beautiful poetry and fascinating photography. For example, Week 2 says, “I’ll be such a blessing, just you wait and see, I’m a miracle of life—a gift from God—that’s me!” Week 21 shows an incredible in-the-womb photo of a baby sucking her thumb. The accompanying verse says, “I bend and stretch and I bump Mommy’s tummy and I am already very smart. I look like a small newborn and I’m stronger now, especially my muscles, bones, and heart.” Children and adults alike will be fascinated by this look into the miracle of a baby’s development. Learn more about The Miracle of Me and order at

Genevieve’s Gift: A Child’s Joyful Tale of Connecting with her Intuitive Heart
By Rosemary Serluca-Foster
Illustrated by Betsy Franco Feeney
Publisher: Rosedove Productions

If you consider yourself more spiritual than religious, you’ll love this book. When Genevieve has trouble figuring out what to get her friend for her birthday, her mother tells her, “When you need an answer, listen to your heart.” This award-winning book teaches children how to trust their intuition and to have confidence in their innate abilities to solve their own problems. It helps children to honor their inner guidance, develop self-awareness, express their feelings, spark their creativity, and cultivate courage and self-respect. Proceeds from the sale of Genevieve’s Gift also benefit the National Down Syndrome Society. You can learn more about the author’s Kids-R-Intuitive Workshop and order personalized, autographed copies of this book at

The Living Lights Berenstain Bears series
Written and Illustrated by Mike Berenstain
Publisher: Zondervan

I’ve written on this blog before that my children and I love the Berenstain Bears books. So, I was excited to see that the founders’ son, Mike Berenstain, is now doing a line of books with Zondervan, a big Christian publisher, through their Zonderkidz division. Titles in the “Living Lights Berenstain Bear Books” include The Berenstain Bears: God Loves You!, The Berenstain Bears Go to Sunday School, The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers, and The Berenstain Bears and the Golden Rule. There’s even a Bible verse at the front of each book. These wonderful books teach children about trusting in God, being kind to others, and more. We’ll definitely be in line for the new books in this series coming out this year!


The authors of The Miracle of Me and Genevieve’s Gift have each generously offered a free copy of their book to a lucky reader! To enter, leave a comment on this post telling which book you’d like to win. If you’re interested in both, leave two separate comments with your wish for each. I will randomly draw the names of two winners—one for each book—on April 1, 2009. Happy reading!

Congratulations to tutugirl, winner of The Miracle of Me, and Amber B, winner of Genevieve's Gift!

Technorati Tags:
, , , , ,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Take Your Pix Board Book Albums: Photo Albums That Even Little Kids Can Handle! (Giveaway)

My twins love to look at pictures of themselves when they were babies. They can’t believe that the infant in the picture is really them! I love to share these memories with my kids, but at the same time I’m always paranoid that they will damage the albums if they handle them too much. So, I was thrilled when I found out about the new Take Your Pix photo albums from Board Book Albums. They make my precious family photos much more “kid-proof”!

The photo album feels like a child’s board book, with thick, sturdy pages. Photos are inserted from the top, so they won’t fall out the sides. The pages even have a notch on the edge that makes it easier for little fingers to turn the pages. Each album is 7" x 7" with 10 pages. It holds 20 4" x 6" photos and has a cover photo frame that holds a slightly smaller photo (about 4" x 5", so you can just trim a 4" x 6" photo to fit). Take Your Pix albums are also free-standing so you can put them on display!

These albums are easy and fun to decorate, so if you’re into scrapbooking or are creative, you’ll love to design your own. You can also encourage your kids to make their own board book album. They can put in their favorite photos and decorate the pages and cover with markers, stickers and stamps. There’s also a line of pink, blue and yellow albums called “My First Photos” that make perfect baby shower or first birthday gifts. Babies love to look at faces, so why not create an album of family members’ faces that they can look at over and over again!

Would you like to win a fabulous Take Your Pix board book album? I can offer three lucky winners the album of their choice. Here’s how to enter. Go to the website at and look around. Then come back here and leave a comment giving your own idea about how you would use your album. Would you have a particular theme or decorate it in a certain way? Would it be for a particular person or commemorate a special event? On March 30, 2009, Laura Miranti, a mom and inventor of the Take Your Pix album, will pick her three favorite ideas and send the winners a free board book album of their choice. (U.S. and Canadian customers only, please.)

If you’d like to buy one now (and the prices are terrific), you can do so through the website at or by calling 1-800-506-9683.

Get creative and good luck!

CONTEST CLOSED. There were so many great answers that Laura could only whittle it down to 4 winners. Congratulations to Sharon Harmon, Kathleen W., yellowlabs, and Angie. Message to "yellowlabs": You did not leave an email address and there's none on your Blogger page. Please forward your contact information to smhparent [at] hotmail [dot] com. Thank you!

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , ,

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crash Course for New Dads: Book Review and Giveaway

Greg Bishop wasn’t your typical boy growing up. With twelve brothers and sisters, he was expected to help out with his siblings, and he had changed plenty of dirty diapers by the time he became a father of four himself. But Greg knew that most expectant and new fathers didn’t have the same confidence in their parenting abilities as he did. So, on Father’s Day 1990, he got four dads and their babies (aka, the veteran dads) in a room with a dozen men who were soon to be daddies (aka, the rookies), and they talked for three hours. The veterans shared their experiences—and their babies—with the rookies, and a great idea was born. Boot Camp for New Dads has been a hit ever since. It has graduated more than 200,000 veterans in 260 communities across 43 states and in the US Navy, Army and Air Force. (To find a location near you, go to

In the process of educating fathers-to-be, Greg has also written many books and articles. His newest book is Crash Course for New Dads: Tools, Checklists & Cheat-Sheets. This amazing book is filled with guy-friendly lists, forms and charts to prepare men for fatherhood. I can’t even begin to tell you all the great information contained in this book, but some of the highlights include:

What You Need for the Hospital
Handling an Emergency Birth
Learning to Care for Your New Baby
Troubleshooter’s Guide to Crying Babies
How to Support a Mom-to-Be
Baby Blues & Postpartum Depression
Getting Your Love Life Back
When You Become Overwhelmed or Close to It
Infant CPR & Choking Basics
Preparing for Your Family’s Future
…and much, much more

Every father-to-be should read this book. (If he can attend a Boot Camp for New Dads program, that’s even better!) Even moms-to-be will benefit from its practical and organized tips and advice for handling the demands of new parenthood. Greg’s books and programs can’t be beat for the quality of information they provide and the reassurance they offer future parents.

Greg and his wife Alison have generously offered:

a) a 20% discount off your order between March 18 and April 17, 2009! Just enter the code sheim when you check out. Here are links directly to their book pages:

Crash Course for New Dads

Hit the Ground Crawling


b) a complimentary copy of BOTH Crash Course for New Dads and Hit the Ground Crawling to one lucky reader of this blog. Here’s how you can enter:

Visit their website at and come back here and leave a comment with the name of one of the articles offered on the site. As always, you can earn optional, additional entries if you:

- Put a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog. Post a comment with your blog’s URL.

- Tweet this giveaway on Twitter or post it on your blog. Leave a comment with your Twitter name or a link to the post.

- Subscribe to Susan Heim on Parenting via email, RSS or as a Follower on Blogger. Leave a comment with your subscription method.

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified entries on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, from the valid comments received. Be sure to leave an email I can use to contact you if it’s not readily available on your blog link.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to our winner: trishden!

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , ,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pencil Portraits of Your Children Make Beautiful Mother’s Day or Father’s Day Gifts!

My husband’s favorite gifts last Christmas were the hand-drawn pencil portraits I had made of our five-year-old twins. Portrait artist Darla Dixon does an incredible job of drawing portraits from photographs. I sent her recent photos of our twins, and she mailed back amazingly life-like drawings of the boys. The pictures now proudly hang in our home’s entryway along with our family photo.

If you’re looking for a unique and beautiful gift for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, surprise your loved one with a pencil portrait of your children! Darla draws babies, children, adults, and even beloved pets! If a family member has passed away, she can draw a lovely portrait of them in remembrance. Single or multiple subjects can be shown in one picture. Darla did separate portraits of my twins so they could each have their own to keep when they are grown.

Darla has four children of her own, so she knows how important it is to have treasured keepsakes from childhood. My portraits will be family heirlooms that can be passed down through the generations. I encourage you to visit Darla’s website at to see more samples of her beautiful work and contact her. I know you’ll love her portraits as much as I love mine!

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , ,

Friday, March 13, 2009

Recommended Reading: "Family Life" by Gina Chen at The Post-Standard

Today, I wanted to share a little “blog love” with a fellow parenting blogger. Gina Chen is the Family Life Editor for The Post-Standard of Syracuse. Gina has been a newspaper reporter and editor for 18 years, and she and her husband Peter have two young children. In the past, Gina has covered stories on crime, courts, government, religion, and more, but her favorite job is now writing about what is most important to her -- family. Gina writes about all kinds of topics related to parenting in her column, such as babies, teens, current news and school issues. She often does giveaways, too!

I’m thrilled to be Gina’s guest blogger today! You can read our interview and column by clicking here. I encourage you to check out Gina’s column daily at If you’re on Twitter, you can also follow her at Thanks, Gina, for allowing me to sit in your blogging chair for a little while today!

Technorati Tags:
, , , ,

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hearts at Home Offers Terrific Resources for Mothers (Giveaway)

When teacher Jill Savage decided to stay at home with her five kids, she realized that she still missed the stimulation of attending teacher conferences where she could learn about new ideas, receive encouragement from her peers, and educate herself on current techniques. Now that motherhood was her full-time job, she wondered how she could receive the same sort of benefits that she received at the teacher conferences, but on the subject of motherhood! In 1994, she shared her idea with a small circle of other women in Central Illinois. They decided to hold a conference like Jill envisioned. If they were really lucky, they thought, maybe 500 women would show up. Imagine their shock when more than 1,000 came from 10 different states! Jill knew she was on to something good, and the Hearts at Home organization was born.

Today, the Hearts at Home mailing list has grown to over 100,000 women. They offer conferences, a newsletter, online chat rooms, articles, a blog, a radio show, books, music, DVDs and many other services and products to, as their mission statement states, “encourage, educate and equip women in the profession of motherhood.” The video at the bottom of this post highlights some of the wonderful things that Hearts at Home is doing for mothers.

Hearts at Home products and services are extremely helpful for mothers and of the highest quality. Visit their website at to learn more.

Would you like to win a Hearts at Home prize pack? One lucky winner will receive:

1) Motherhood: One Day at a Time, a countertop perpetual calendar with a year’s worth of quotes to motivate and encourage a mom to do the most important job in the world;

2) I’m Glad I’m a Mom book, edited by Hearts at Home founder Jill Savage, which contains 58 inspirational stories from other moms; and,

3) a Just for Moms Planner, with calendar pages, an address section, pages for notes, and inspirational quotes for moms.

To enter, visit Hearts at Home at, and come back here to leave a comment mentioning another product or service they offer that was NOT mentioned in this post. For additional optional entries:

- Put a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog. (The code is on the top right side of this page.) Post a comment with your blog’s URL.

- Tweet this giveaway on Twitter or post it on your blog. Leave a comment with your Twitter name or a link to the post.

- Subscribe to Susan Heim on Parenting via email, RSS or as a Follower on Blogger. Leave a comment with your subscription method.

Enter by midnight on Sunday, March 22, 2009. One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments the following day. Please be sure to leave an email address if you don’t have one on your blog profile page.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to our winner, Liza767!