Monday, June 29, 2009

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys (Book Review)

I said an immediate “yes” when Tyndale’s publicist asked me to review the book, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, by Stephen James, M.S., and David Thomas, M.S.S.W. The authors are therapists who regularly work with boys and their parents. And they’re also fathers, with five sons between them. As a mother of four sons, I couldn’t imagine a book that would be more appropriate for me!

This is a terrific book to help parents, educators and caregivers better understand boys and their behavior. As a parent, it gave me great comfort in knowing that my five-year-old twins’ “wildness” is completely normal, and that my teenager’s argumentativeness is typical for his age.

In the first part of Wild Things, the authors describe the five stages of a boy’s life. He’s an Explorer from ages 2-4, a Lover from ages 5-8, an Individual from ages 9-12, a Wanderer from ages 13-17, and a Warrior from ages 18-22. My twins are 5, but seem to be straddling the line between the Explorer and Lover stages. My 16-year-old is a typical Wanderer, and my 19-year-old is a Warrior! Each of these chapters gave me great insight into why my sons behave the way they do.

In part 2, the authors really delve into boys’ brains, learning styles, and school behavior. I wish that every teacher could read this book so they’d have an explanation for why boys tend to be more unruly and less cooperative in class. We all know that boys and girls are wired differently, but most classrooms are run in ways that work best for girls, not for boys. Thus, boys often tend to be labeled as troublemakers more often. This book could be a great help to educators in designing a curriculum that helps a boy to learn while meeting his needs for activity, visual stimulation, and experiential learning.

The last part of Wild Things tells us how to nurture a boy’s heart. It also speaks specifically about a boy’s relationship with his mother and with his father. And it emphasizes the need for celebrating “rites of passage” in a boy’s life to help him transition between phases.

The appendix of the book briefly touches on specific topics such as spanking, television time, talking with boys about sex and dating, pornography, homosexuality, ADD and ADHD, and much more.

After reading Wild Things, I really feel that I have a better understanding of my sons. As frustrating as their (mis)behavior is sometimes, I know that it’s an essential part of their journey to manhood. The authors provided very specific tips throughout the book for navigating each stage of a boy’s life, and offered much-needed reassurance for parents like me who are raising “wild things”!

Visit Tyndale’s website for more information about Wild Things and to download the first chapter.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

WIN! “I Got Two Dogs” Hardcover Book and CD by John Lithgow

I’ve always been a big fan of John Lithgow. He’s done it all, from theater to television to the big screen. And, of course, parents know him as a bestselling children’s author! I wrote recently about John Lithgow’s hosting of Turner Classic Movie’s ESSENTIALS, JR. summer movie showcase. To further celebrate this terrific series, TCM is giving away copies of Mr. Lithgow’s most recent children’s book, I Got Two Dogs. Fortunately, I was able to snag some copies for two lucky winners! These books are amazing. They’re beautiful hardcover books with jackets, and they come with a CD on which John Lithgow sings the words from the book in a fun and frolicking song!

I Got Two Dogs is the tale (or should I say “tail”?) of two dogs (of course) named Fanny and Blue. On the surface, they don’t seem to have much in common. Fanny’s coat is white, and she’s a girl. Blue’s coat is gray, and he’s a boy. They’re ten years apart in age. But, despite their differences, they get along famously. They’re not the smartest of dogs, and they don’t know any tricks. But they never run away, and they love to be petted! This book is a loving tribute to “the best darn dogs” ever! I also love the colorful and eye-catching illustrations by Robert Neubecker. Watch this brief video to see John Lithgow sing part of the song:

I’ll say it again: I love John Lithgow! And be sure to watch his summer movie series on Turner Classic Movies, ESSENTIALS JR., which runs every Sunday evening throughout the summer.

To enter to win one of two copies of I Got Two Dogs (hardcover book with CD), visit John Lithgow’s author page at and leave a comment on this page with the name of another book by John Lithgow (besides I Got Two Dogs). As always, you can earn additional entries if you:

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

- Follow me on Twitter (@ParentingAuthor) and tweet this giveaway. Leave a comment with the URL to your tweet.

- Post this giveaway on your blog with a link to this page. Leave a comment with 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.

Two winners will be randomly selected from the qualified entries received by midnight on Sunday, July 12, 2009. Be sure to leave an email address if you don’t have it posted on your Blogger page. The winner will be emailed and must respond within 72 hours or a new winner will be selected. Thanks to Turner Classic Movies for this great giveaway!

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to Kathleen W. and AICORP!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Why Business Travel Can Be Good for You and Your Kids!

NOTE FROM SUSAN: A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Phaedra Cucina, author of My Mommy’s on a Business Trip, would be a guest blogger very soon. Well, today’s the day! Phaedra's column addresses the issue of “mommy guilt,” especially when you need to take a trip away from the children. She explains why traveling without the kids is actually good, both for you and your kids. She is also very interested in hearing what you have to say on this subject. So, I strongly encourage you to leave your comments or questions on this post, and Phaedra will personally answer them!

Business trips, or any trips without the kids, are a touchy issue in most homes and offices. Often trips to the airport start with tearful goodbyes from the children, and the nightly calls don’t always go so well either. Kids can certainly tug at your heartstrings and heap extra helpings of worry onto your already guilty conscious. To make matters worse, those few moms who don’t feel guilty about their time away often tell me they feel guilty about not feeling guilty! Let’s put a stop to this self-inflicted nonsense!

Traveling on business is GOOD for your kids - and for you! Here are just a few reasons why:

At Home:

• Kids and the grown-up taking care of them get special bonding time together that simply isn’t possible when you’re at home

• Kids learn to be more self-reliant and gain self-confidence (This does require a certain degree of proper preparation, which we can talk about in another post.)

• The grown-up in charge gains a special appreciation for everything you do while you’re home, and vice versa

On the Road:

• You get a rare, uninterrupted night’s sleep!

• You get to walk through the airport with only your own bags to worry about, stroller-free, nicely dressed, with perhaps even a hot latte in hand!

• You get to catch up on your reading!

• You get to be so thankful that the crying kid on the plane is not yours!

• You get grown-up conversation over dinner, hopefully with your girlfriends living in whatever part of the country/world you’re visiting!

• You get to give yourself a mani and pedi in the hotel room!

• You get to watch a movie – of your own choice!

• You can get your inbox under control while on the plane/train!

• You can call a long lost friend or family member!

• You can organize your computer files, playlists, and photos!

• You can work out!

• You can REST!

The choice is always yours – you can sit in your hotel room, worried about what’s going on at home and the office, or enjoy this special opportunity to treat yourself to whatever simple pleasure strikes you in the moment.

What’s one of your favorite things about business, or kid-free, travel? What do you can do to make your next trip more rewarding?

Posted by working mom, Phaedra Cucina, author of the children’s book, My Mommy’s on a Business Trip.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tucks Brand Medicated Pads: Review and Giveaway!

I’m lucky to be a Mom Central blogger because they are great about hooking me up with some wonderful products for moms and families. When they asked me to write about Tucks brand medicated products, I didn’t hesitate to say yes, even though the subject of hemorrhoids makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it! But, let’s face it, if you’ve been pregnant, being sore “down there” is just what happens, whether it’s from the effects of pregnancy or vaginal birth.

I’ve given birth to four children, and let me tell you, I was so relieved to have Tucks after I had my kids! I had big babies (my firstborn weighed almost ten pounds, and my last two babies were full-term twins), so my body got a real workout. The only relief I found was through sitz baths and Tucks pads. They contain witch hazel, an astringent that helps relieve irritation and burning due to hemorrhoids.

If you suffer from hemorrhoids or soreness due to pregnancy or childbirth, visit to view the products they offer to make you more comfortable. They even have convenient Tucks Take Alongs, which are individually packed towelettes that you can slip in your diaper bag or purse without making a mess. And they’re hypo-allergenic, dye-free and pH balanced.

Of course, with any sort of vaginal or rectal discomfort or soreness, always check with your physician before using any sort of treatment. If you get the okay, pick up some Tucks brand medicated products right away. Your sore tushie will thank you!

You can also enter to win a box of Tucks Take Alongs, which contains 12 individually packed medicated towelettes, just by leaving a comment below. Even if you’re not feeling the effects of pregnancy or childbirth, this would make a welcome gift for a pregnant friend. As always, you can earn additional entries if you:

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

- Follow me on Twitter (@ParentingAuthor) and tweet this giveaway. Leave a comment with the URL to your tweet.

- Post this giveaway on your blog with a link to this page. Leave a comment with 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 received by midnight on Sunday, July 5, 2009. Be sure to leave an email address if you don’t have it posted on your Blogger page. The winner will be emailed and must respond within 72 hours or a new winner will be selected.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, Lia!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Make This a Summer to Remember: Teens and Volunteerism

My 16-year-old son hasn’t been able to get a job this summer, despite putting in numerous applications. But that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been busy. He’s taking a junior lifeguard course at the beach and is on the city’s swim team. And he’s also been spending his time doing volunteer work. This week, he’s helping out with our church’s vacation bible school. And in July he’ll be heading to Costa Rica with his youth group for a mission trip.

My older son, now 19, says that one of the most amazing experiences of his life was the trip he took to Costa Rica in the summer of 2005. He spent almost the entire ten days of the trip building houses for local residents. It was hard, dirty work. The conditions were primitive (no hot showers or air conditioning!), and the days were long. I never thought that my typical teen—who balks at having to mow the lawn—would be willing to climb up on a hot roof every day, but he loved every minute of it! The feeling of camaraderie with his fellow workers, and the eternal and loving gratitude of the people he was helping, made this an unforgettable experience.

Encouraging teens to do volunteer work is one of the most important things you can do for them as a parent. And the amazing thing is, once they get a taste of it, teenagers love to volunteer! My son grumbled when he signed up to help out at vacation bible school, but he’s been having a ball. He and his friend do the morning skit and then they make the snacks for the day. He comes home in a great mood after hanging out with other people and having a good time.

Fortunately, my sons are in good company. In 2004, 55 percent of American teenagers volunteered—almost twice the rate of adults, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. And students who do volunteer work actually do better in school than those who don't volunteer. Albert Schweitzer once said, “The only ones among you who will be truly happy will be those who have sought and found how to serve.” In fact, volunteering provides many benefits for teens, including increased self-esteem, a feeling of being valued, the opportunity to meet new people, the acquisition of valuable new skills, and a lifetime of wonderful memories and experiences.

Volunteer opportunities for adolescents aren’t difficult to find. Some organizations may have age restrictions if the job involves a certain amount of risk, but opportunities abound for all ages! One of the best places to start is with your local church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship. Other places to look are the Parks and Recreation Department, summer camp programs, hospitals, nature centers, libraries, children’s museums, community and teen centers, and just through word of mouth. One of my sons had a great time as a volunteer at a boat show, which raised funds for charity. My boys have volunteered at Battle of the Bands programs, pet shows, bike races, holiday festivals, and much more. Don’t be afraid to ask around. Most people jump at the chance to put a volunteer to work!

When teenagers learn to serve others, they become empowered. They grow up knowing that they can make a difference in the world. Just imagine what this kind of attitude can accomplish when our adolescents are soon the leaders of society! Making the world a better place starts by showing our kids how they can be part of impacting the future through volunteering.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball Review (Wii)

Thanks to the great people at Role Mommy, my family received a complimentary copy of the new Wii game, Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball. This game is rated E-10+ (suitable for those aged 10 and above), so I took it to an “expert” -- my teenaged son, an experienced gamer -- to play and review. Here’s what he had to say:

It has long been debated on Internet forums and gaming websites: If a pirate and a ninja were to face-off, who would win? For years, geeks, nerds, and dweebs alike have debated this question. In the new video game by SouthPeak Games, Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball, players can finally answer that age-old question, that is, if they don’t mind trading in the cutlasses and katanas for rubber balls!

The game features a story mode campaign that is comically cheesy and filled with puns, making it especially appealing to tween boys. There are two different campaigns and five unlockable campaigns. These campaigns are fairly difficult, which may frustrate young children, but will challenge mid-level gamers. And the game, while being centered on pirates and ninjas, does feature other bizarre factions that you would never imagine to square off on a dodgeball court, including aliens, robots, zombies and even mushroom men (each with their own story campaign)! There are also eight different dodgeball arenas. Although they all are the same rectangular shape, some arenas feature obstacles that can change the way the match is played (such as gravestones you can hide behind or trees you can jump around).

The game also includes an interesting additional game type: Dodgebrawl. This is essentially the same as regular dodgeball but without the rules and boundary lines. Where this game does shine, though, is in the multiplayer mode. Up to four people can play competitively or cooperatively for any team they choose. There is definitely something satisfying about leading your own team of misfits to victory when you are playing against a friend. And teaming up to bring down the AI [artificial intelligence] is also very enjoyable.

If you’re a very serious gamer, then this probably isn’t the game for you. Tweens (ages 10-13) will appreciate this game the most. You can read more about Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball at the SouthPeak Games website. You can also watch a video for the game here.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Get Your Groove On with Gustafer Yellowgold!

“Hey, man!” I said to my teenage son. “What’s happenin’? Those are some really groovy threads you got on!”

Yes, I’m stuck in the sixties after watching Gustafer Yellowgold’s Mellow Fever DVD. It was a psychedelic trip! I even had my tie-dyed shirt on while I was watching it! This quirky DVD is mostly meant for kids, but adults will feel like they’ve traveled back in time to the days of Yellow Submarine and The Brady Bunch while watching this collection of animated music videos.

Each song tells about the life of a yellow alien with a pointy head who hails from the sun and arrives in Minnesota in his Sunpod. His many adventures take place in the treetops, in Butter Pond Lake and underwater! He also meets friends like Slim the eel, Wincey the ferret, Sisson the blue worm, and Forrest Applecrumbie, the pterodactyl! (Okay, I don’t think they had pterodactyls in the sixties, but this is a cartoon!)

So, while I’m taking a quirky trip down memory lane, my five-year-old son was mesmerized and saying things like, “Why does he comes from the sun? No one lives on the sun!” I was busy reading the song lyrics at the bottom of the screen so I could try to explain this kooky creature to my son. Fortunately, he had moved onto his next question.

There’s also a Bonus Feature on this DVD with “real people” who are interviewed about their mysterious sightings of Gustafer Yellowgold. It’s a hilarious mockumentary similar to those about people claiming to see the infamous Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster.

All the videos on this DVD are available in normal or karaoke-style play. And there’s also an accompanying CD so you can get funky in the car with Gustafer Yellowgold. And should you become a Gustafer Yellowgold groupie, you’ll be happy to know that there are two other DVD/CD sets: Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World and Gustafer Yellowgold’s ‘Have You Never Been Yellow?’.

You and your kids will also enjoy going to to play games, get downloads, watch videos, and buy Gustafer Yellowgold DVD/CD sets and merchandise. And find out if a live Gustafer Yellowgold show is coming to an arena near you! Gustafer’s creator/illustrator/songwriter, Morgan Taylor, takes Gustafer Yellowgold on the road for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So, grab your bell-bottoms and your headband and watch Gustafer Yellowgold’s Mellow Fever! He’s one cool character that you and your kids will never forget.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mothercraft Power Hour Giveaway

As a mom, have you ever felt like your life is spiraling out of control? If you’re feeling guilty, disorganized, unfulfilled, stressed-out or all of the above, you may need to talk with someone who’s caring and objective (i.e., not your mother or mother-in-law!) and can help you to see things more clearly and find some real solutions.

I recently made the acquaintance of Carley Knobloch, founder of Mothercraft, a life-coaching company that helps moms regain control of their families, optimize their lives and live their dreams. Mothercraft empowers moms to make unique career choices, parent purposefully and craft truly amazing lives.

Of course, times are tough, and not all of us can afford personalized counseling. That’s why I’m so excited that Carley is offering to give away what she calls her Mothercraft Power Hour! It’s a one-hour coaching session dedicated to you, your work, and your life as a mom. During this “mother of an hour,” you’ll get focused, get organized, and get closer to being the balanced and inspired mom you want to be! You can learn more about Mothercraft at

Here’s how to enter to win this amazing Mothercraft Power Hour. Just go to and tell us what your biggest struggle is as a mom. Please note: Leaving a comment on this post will not enter you into the Mothercraft Power Hour Giveaway. You need to click on the link I just provided and enter the contest there. A lucky winner will be randomly selected from the entries received by July 15, 2009. Good luck!

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Friday, June 19, 2009

How You Can Help Children Who Have Lost a Parent

Many of our children will spend Father’s Day with their dads, but not all kids will have this opportunity. In fact, I was astonished to learn that 1 in 20 children will experience the death of one or both parents by the age of 15! And, by age 10, 1 in 7 children will experience the death of a loved one.

Mark Hundley’s daughter is one of these statistics. When she was just seven years old, her mother was killed in an automobile accident. At that time, there were few resources available to help her through her grief, especially for children. Mark, a psychotherapist, was fortunate to be able to find the help that he and his daughter needed through his contacts, but he hated the thought that many other children in his daughter’s position would not get the help they needed. Thus, he co-founded the Journey of Hope Grief Support Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing group grief support to children, adolescents, and their parents or adult caregivers. The mission of the Journey of Hope Grief Support Center is to provide support at no cost for children, teens, young adults and their families as they learn to mourn the death or impending death of their loved one in a safe, caring and nurturing environment. The Journey of Hope Grief Support Center is located in Plano, Texas, but is part of a larger network of similar programs around the country.

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Mark Hundley online, and he is very sincere and dedicated to helping children and other family members cope with grief. (He even sent me a complimentary copy of his audiobook, “Awaken to Good Mourning,” to help a friend of mine who had experienced the loss of her son.) Now, Mark has started a campaign called One in a Million to help raise money for grief support. He knows that times are tough, so he’s asking for donations of just one dollar! He figures that if a million people donated only a dollar, they could raise enough money to make a real difference in the lives of children who have lost parents or loved ones.

You can see more of Mark’s message by watching this video at Please seriously consider a one-dollar donation to the Journey of Hope Grief Support Center. A dollar is but the cost of a soda to us but could go a very long way toward helping a child get through the devastating loss of a parent. Go to to help.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Order a Frosty from Wendy’s to Support a Good Cause (Plus, Enter the Mom Central Wendy’s Giveaway!)

When you order a Frosty from Wendy’s during Father’s Day Frosty Weekend, they will donate 50 cents from the sale of each Frosty to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The money goes to the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, which helps pay for full-time adoption recruiters at local agencies across the United States who try to find suitable parents for foster care children who need good homes and families.

Your kids can also get involved in this great cause by creating a fun Father’s Day eCard on For every card they send, Wendy’s will donate an additional 25 cents to the Dave Thomas Foundation. Kids can attach coupons for favors for Dad, such as “taking out the trash” or “washing the car.”

The Mom Central website would like your help in spreading the word about Wendy’s Father’s Day Frosty Weekend and They are giving $5 Wendy’s Gift Cards to 500 Mom Central members who enter the giveaway by Friday, July 3, 2009 at 11:59 ET.

To enter to win a Wendy’s gift card, click here and leave a comment sharing your favorite tips for feeding your family on the go. (You must be logged in to Mom Central to comment. You can register on the site if you haven’t already.)
Happy Father’s Day!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Battle Wrinkles and Get Younger-Looking Skin with L’Oreal

Bzz bzz! I’m what’s known as a BzzAgent, and I’ve been issued my first assignment! What’s a BzzAgent, you ask? BzzAgents are members of They get to try out some really cool products and tell people all about them. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Well, I was really excited when they sent me my first gig -- to try L’Oreal Advanced Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair products for eight weeks. I’m in my mid-forties, so anything that’s going to help minimize the wrinkles that have been creeping onto my face in recent years is welcome! They sent me a bottle of their Advanced Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair SPF 15 Day Lotion and a bottle of their Advanced Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair Night Crème.

L’Oreal Advanced Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair products contain powerful anti-aging ingredients. These include Pro-Retinol A, which helps to reduce the size and depth of deep wrinkles so you have smoother skin. It also includes Fiber-Repair Complex, which helps to restore your skin’s fibrous support network to even out the surface of deep set wrinkles. The Day Lotion has an SPF 15 to help protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. It can be used alone or under your regular makeup. The Night Crème, of course, gets to work on your skin while you sleep! These products are only $19.99 each and are available at most major retailers, including CVS pharmacy, Walgreen’s, Rite-Aid, Target and Wal-Mart. Click here to watch a video for more information on these products.

But, of course, I wasn’t about to take the company’s word for it that these products are great, so I tried them myself! First, I love the little pump bottles they come in. They’re super-easy to use and just dispense a little lotion at a time so you don’t use too much or waste it. And it just takes a little amount to cover your entire face and neck. I focused especially on my “problem areas,” which are my forehead, the corners of my eyes, and the space between my nose and mouth. I loved the Night Creme because it wasn’t too heavy. The Day Lotion was even lighter, and I like that it contains sunscreen. I always cover my face with loose powder to help even out my skin tone, and it easily went over the lotion without clumping or sticking. I was also worried about acne because I tend to get little breakouts and was concerned about adding too much moisture to my skin. But that wasn’t a problem at all! Using the lotion didn’t cause breakouts, and now I’m a convert to using moisturizer 24/7. I even went to the beach with only the Day Lotion on and I didn’t get burned at all.

So, how does my face look? Great! Of course, I don’t look like a college student again, but I definitely think my lines look less noticeable, and my skin looks healthy. I’m thrilled that I’ve found a moisturizing line that really works for me because I know that taking care of my skin is very important now that I’m entering middle age (cringe). Following are some more tips from L’Oreal for younger-looking skin:

1) Focus your regimen on your primary skin concern like breakouts or aging and select your products accordingly.

2) Don’t overload on products. Too much of anything can cause irritation, strip skin of moisture, and make it more sensitive.

3) Don’t wash your face until you’ve washed your hands. If you use a washcloth, make sure it’s a fresh one every time so there’s no bacterial buildup.

4) When cleansing or exfoliating, use tiny circular motions upward and very gentle pressure.

5) Use warm water to rinse. Hot water can over-dry. Cold water won’t rinse off the cleanser.

6) Don’t over-clean your face. Cleansing more than twice a day can over-dry your skin.

7) Toner actually prepares your skin to accept moisture better. While skin is still damp, smooth on moisturizer to seal the moisture in.

8) It’s not just what you apply but also how you apply it. Take a few extra seconds to massage in moisturizer to spark circulation and enhance radiance.

9) Go gently when you apply eye cream. Dot in a full circle all around the eye. Never pull or tug. Use your ring finger to apply. It’s the weakest finger so you won’t apply too much pressure.

10) Smooth a little eye cream around your lips every day. The area around the lips, like the area around the eyes, is very delicate and requires extra care.

So, there you have it. I’m pleased that I got to try out such a terrific product for my first assignment as a BzzAgent. I encourage you to give L’Oreal’s Advanced Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair products a try for yourself. They’re a great addition to your daily skincare regimen.

BzzAgent Badge

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

FREE Deals for Dads for Father’s Day

Yesterday, Cheryl Maguire, founder of SwapSavers, a social network for frugal folks who love freebies, coupons and rewards, provided a great list of free activities that you and your family can enjoy this summer. If you missed the post, please check it out here. Today, in honor of Father’s Day (which is just a week away!), Cheryl has generously provided this list of places that are offering FREE deals for dads. Can't beat that!

Smokey Bones--Dads eat free, pick up your coupon at Smokey Bones (or they may email you one through the bones club -- they did for Mother's Day).

ESPN Zones Get a free breakfast from 9:30 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. at participating places in CA, GA, MD, IL, CO, NV, NY and DC. Reservations are required
ESPN Zones

Texas de Brazil Dads eat free with the purchase of another meal
Texas de Brazil coupon

T.G.I. Friday's buy one, get one free entree coupon that anyone can use until June 22
BOGO TGIF Coupon exp 6/22

TCBY Dads get a free ice cream cone or cup at TCBY

Putting Edge Dads play free at participating Putting Edge Fun Centers
Putting Edge

National Park Admission June 20-21, 2009 (Father’s Day weekend) more than 100 national parks that usually charge entrance fees.
FREE National Park Admission list

Michael's June 14, kids can decorate special t-shirts for free for dad
Michael's workshop schedule

Museum/Zoo Admission This year I got into a zoo for free for Mother's Day. Call your local zoo or museum and find out if they are offering free admission for Father’s Day.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

FREE Summer Activities for Kids and Families

Today’s column is by Cheryl Maguire, a mother of three and founder of SwapSavers, a social network for frugal folks who love freebies, coupons and rewards. Cheryl is also a writer who contributed to It’s Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence. Thank you, Cheryl, for these great resources for free entertainment for the kids this summer. Readers, look through this list to see if any of these merchants are near you!

1. FREE Movies for Summer Reading at Showcase

BOOKWORM WEDNESDAYS, Every Wednesday at 10:00 am beginning July 8th for six weeks. A fun and rewarding summer reading program developed to encourage young children to read during the summer months. BOOKWORM WEDNESDAYS entitles kids to free admission to a select children’s film when they present a book report at a participating Showcase Cinemas, Multiplex Cinemas or Cinema de Lux box office. Accompanying parents or guardians and children under six receive free admission and do not need to submit a book report.
Showcase Website

2. FREE Camp at Apple Stores 8-12 yrs old

This summer, your kid could make a movie, create a photo slideshow, write and record a song, put on a show for everyone, and have a blast doing it all. At Apple Camp, kids learn how to do cool stuff on a Mac and discover their hidden talents along the way. Apple Camp occurs at every Apple Retail Store, and each free workshop lasts three hours. Sign up your kid today and get ready for an adventure.
Apple Website

3. FREE Museum Admission from Target

To see the list of museums in your area or the days/times you can go, visit the website. Before you go, you should also contact the museum and find out more information. I noticed that for some of the museums you do have to pay a small fee ($1).
FREE Museum Admission from Target

4. FREE Family Movies at Regal Theatres

Free Family Film Festival Beginning June 2009!
When school’s out, kids around the country can visit selected Regal theatres for the Free Family Film Festival. It’s a fun-filled nine weeks of movies for kids and parents. Since 1991, Regal has provided this service to the community, and best of all it’s FREE!

Selected G and PG movies start at 10AM each Tuesday and Wednesday during the festival. First-come, first-served seating is limited to theatre capacity. The Free Family Film Festival is safe, lots of fun and a great way for kids to spend a weekday morning in the summer. Tickets for the 2009 Free Family Film Festival are exclusively available at select theatres’ box office on the day of the show.

You can also select a state from the list below to see participating theatres in your area!
Regal Website

5. Kids Bowl Free All Summer

Bowling centers from around the country are giving away 2 free games of bowling each day as an opportunity for kids and families to enjoy bowling during the summer months. The “Kids Bowl Free” program is only available at the centers listed.

Each child can bowl 2 free games every day throughout the duration of the program. Each center has its own age restrictions, as well as any times the coupons are not valid during the day. You do need to register to get a bowling pass.
Kids Bowl Free All Summer
List of Bowling Centers

6. FREE Family Movies at Clearview Cinemas

8 free movies this summer on Thursdays at 10 AM
Clearview Website

7. FREE Museum Entry with Bank of America Card (first weekend of the month)

Get free admission to participating museums with your Bank of America Card the first weekend of every month. Free admission is one per card.
FREE Museums Entry with Bank of America Card

8. FREE Book from Barnes & Noble when you read 8 books (for kids)

1. Kids read any eight (8) books of their own choosing.

2. Kids use the Summer Reading Journal to tell their favorite part of each book. A parent/guardian signs the journal when it’s complete. You can also get a Spanish-language Reading Journal.

3. Children bring their completed Reading Journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 26th and September 7th, 2009.

4. They’ll receive a coupon for a FREE book! They choose from a list of exceptional paperback titles.*

*Eligible books will be listed on the coupon. Choices must be made from available stock. No special orders. Limit of one (1) form per school-age child (grades 1-6), please. Incomplete forms will be ineligible for free books.
Summer Reading

9. FREE Membership at Lifestyle Fitness (for teens)
From May 15-Aug 15, must register by June 30th
Ages 12-17 can get a free 2-month membership
FREE Membership at Lifestyle Fitness (for teens)

10. FREE Family Activities at Bass Pro Shops
May 30-July 5 there are different activities on Saturday and Sunday.
FREE Family Activities at Bass Pro Shops

11. FREE National Park Admission
National Park Service Announces Fee-Free Weekends Across the States
America’s Best Idea – the national parks – gets even better this summer with three fee-free weekends at more than 100 national parks that usually charge entrance fees.

Mark your calendars for fee-free weekends this summer:

June 20-21, 2009 (Father’s Day weekend)
July 18-19, 2009
August 15-16, 2009
FREE National Park Admission

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Announcing Mom Central’s Father’s Day Gift Guide and Giveaways!

I love Mom Central! Founded by nationally acclaimed parenting expert and bestselling author, Stacy DeBroff, this website offers plenty of parenting advice, giveaways, reviews, ideas, interviews and more. I subscribe to the Mom Central newsletter and look forward to its arrival in my in-box.

In honor of Father’s Day, Mom Central has just posted its favorite gifts for Dad in their new Gift Guide! From DVDs and custom steak brands to a seven-person domed tent, a digital camera and imported beer steins, there is something for every father and grandfather. And the gift ideas are organized by price, so you can browse and still stay within your budget. The gift guide can be found at:

Also, Mom Central is having a new giveaway for dads every day! Prizes include barbeque accessories, a Jeep tent built for 7 people (see the photo on this page), CDs, DVDs, books, razors, and much more. Check here for a link to the daily giveaways:

On Mom Central, you’re sure to find a great idea for the men in your life for Father’s Day. Perhaps you’ll even win a great gift for them! However, I’ve already warned my hubby that if I win the digital camera, it’s mine! If he’s nice, I just might share it with him, though.

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Is There a Wonderful Grandparent in Your Child’s Life? Check Out This Contest and Special Offer from GRAND Magazine

If your child has a very special grandparent, I encourage you to enter GRAND magazine’s fourth annual GRANDParent of the Year contest. One GRANDparent and ten finalists will be honored by GRAND magazine and Humana in their tribute to men and women whose lives demonstrate the unconditional loving bond between grandchildren and grandparents.

The GRAND prize winner receives a 5-day, 4-night Orlando vacation for four! This exciting vacation includes:

• Round trip airfare to Orlando
• Hotel accommodations
• Two fun-filled days at Walt Disney World®, SeaWorld® Orlando or Universal Orlando®
• Admission to one of Orlando's popular water parks
• Dinner at Arabian Nights
• Full-size rental car

Nominations are accepted from everyone: grandchildren, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, neighbors, and friends. Simply write 150 words (no longer, as they do read every entry!) and tell why your nominee should be the 2009 GRANDParent of the Year.

The deadline to enter is Monday, August 10, 2009.

The rules and entry form are at

Special Offer!

You can also send your child's grandparents a free online subscription to GRAND magazine! Just click here to sign them up. Your shopping cart will show a price of $0 once you enter their contact information.

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