Being a Better Parent

Craving “Constants”

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As the oldest child approaches senior year of high school and the youngest breezes through junior high not far behind, a mom can get pretty sentimental, y’ know? It used to be that even when the older child went through big changes, I still felt connected to the “younger child years”, because my kids are […]

Celebrating Holidays

Who Spiked the Punctuation? Why Most Holiday Cards Need A Ride Home From The Party

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Okay, okay, I know…who am I to criticize holiday cards when I haven’t sent any out in…
hmmm…a couple years? But I’ve been wanting to say something about them for a long time. No, not about how good friends I haven’t seen in ages expect me to read the long letters they’ve composed
but don’t even bother to personalize it by signing their name at the bottom, let alone write me one or two lines. And no, not about how some families spend tons of money and time on getting that
perfect holiday card portrait taken by a professional photographer when sadly most of those gorgeous cards just end up in the trash…but my biggest beef with holiday cards is with the use of the
apostrophe. Or, I should say, misuse. I know most adults have long forgotten many punctuation and grammar rules they learned in school, but I think most remember …

Celebrating Holidays

Jim Bob, John-Boy, and Me

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If you’re familiar with The Duggars of Arkansas, the family with “19 kids and counting”, you may have looked at them like they’re crazy. I know I
have. Packing up the family for a road trip must not be too easy, y’ know? And cooking for that many must take all day. But…I bet their holidays are a blast…

For some reason this holiday season, I’m feeling “big family envy” more than ever. Maybe it’s because it’s the first year my mom, who is 87 and lives 13 hours away, is choosing not to spend
Christmas with us or any of her children. (“I’m 87 years old,” she said, “and I don’t want to travel in winter weather, and I don’t want to worry about anyone else traveling to see me.”)  Maybe
I’m missing Cleo, our French exchange student who lived with us from August 2010 to June 2011. Last Christmas was extra special with her here. Or …

Celebrating Holidays

A Thanksgiving Full of Turkeys

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Whenever I used to be on the verge of making a decision that Andy didn’t think was a good idea, to try to
remind me of a past bad “I told you so” decision, he would say two words– “Bill Hicks”. That was in reference to a time when I played a comedy album (on cassette) of that late profane
comedian for my parents, who were visiting from out of town. “I wouldn’t do that,” he warned. “It’s pretty blue.” I insisted on playing it anyway, telling him I’d play side one only, that
the stuff he was thinking about was on side two.”I think you’re wrong,” he warned again.He was right. It was more than blue, and my face was more than red to be listening to it in my
parents’ presence. But now I finally have two simple words that …

Celebrating Holidays

“Valen-tinies” No More: Cards With A Heart

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Gee, I never realized how many “lasts” happen when it’s the last year of elementary school for the youngest child in the family.
  I already posted about the “last” parent preview film for Human Growth and Development.   Lately it’s hit me that coming up is the last Science Fair
(Yippeeee!!) and the last class Valentine’s Day party.

Amazing…over a decade of buying valentines for my kids to stuff in their …

Celebrating Holidays

The Thought That Counts

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As some of you already know, my kids have the ability to earn a set amount of allowance each week, but come “pay day”,
it may not all get paid to them, depending on infractions during the week. For example, $1 off if you leave your plate on the table, $1 off if you leave shoes in the living room, $1 off if
you don’t do your chore-of the-day—we keep a white board on the side of the refrigerator to keep track. My …

Being a Better Parent

Mare E Kriz Muss

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Several years ago for a newspaper story, I interviewed a Dallas mom named Sue about the great lengths she and her family
go to every year to come up with a crazy family photo for their Christmas card—often complete with costumes, props, and backdrops. In one memorable photo, her family is seen atop a fake
“snowcovered roof” dressed as Santa and other holiday characters. The youngest child, a baby, is wailing mightily, one of the dogs is sliding off the roof, and Sue …

Celebrating Holidays

Celebrating the First Year– Excess is Okay

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There’s a long-standing debate about birthday parties for kids who are turning 1—one side says keep it low key or don’t
even have one, don’t waste your money because the child won’t remember it; the other says, have a big blow out.  And as I watch my niece and her family prepare to have the latter for her son
(yep, yet another family birthday falls during the holidays!), I must admit I’m in the latter camp. Because, as I saw it when …

Celebrating Holidays

Putting Cheer (and Maybe Even Love) Back Into Kids’ Holiday Parties and Gift Exchanges

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If the holidays and holiday parties are meant to be infused with joy and cheer, it’s ironic that sometimes,
thanks to gift exchanges, people can leave those parties feeling kind of…well…mad, or at least a bit sour. Kind of like Jim Carrey’s Grinch when he receives a used electric shaver at Whoville’s
Present Pass-it-On…I’ve seen these emotions a few times at adult parties and a LOT at kids’ parties.

First of all, most gift exchanges I’ve seen or participated …