If My Life Were An Ikea Store

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I love Ikea. For those of you who don’t have an Ikea nearby, it’s basically a Swedish-based home furnishings and decor store (with a few
cinnamon rolls thrown in) that gives you the ability to have very modern design at very affordable prices (we’re talking lower than a K-Mart blue light special). It’s a leader in
environmentally-friendly business practices and has been named one of the top 100 companies to work for by Fortune. Our huge area store feels like it’s having a grand opening all
the time even though it’s been open for six years– still filled with customers, still long lines to check out. But in spite of all its sleek, inexpensive stuff, don’t the
Swedish titles for everything sometimes bug you? I mean, at Ikea, it’s not a laundry hamper, it’s “Peva”.A measuring cup is “Fläckig”; bathroom mirrors, …

Being a Better Parent, Kids and Media, Sharing Stories

When Your Child’s Email Gets Hacked: My Look Into the Evil World of Spamming

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I guess our first clue should have been when our preteen daughter, Emmie, couldn’t get into her email account a few
weeks ago– she said it wouldn’t let her in, and she figured that maybe she’d forgotten her password, even though it was the only one she ever used, and it always popped up automatically from
our home computer, anyway. (Her email service says that’s a sign that the account might have been compromised.)  But unknowing doofus parents that we are, we just went on
about our business as she answered the security questions and reset her password (she chose to “change” it to the same one as before). Then yesterday morning, suspicious emails, with blank
“subject” lines, started arriving from her address, several every few minutes, into my inbox and into everyone else’s in her address book. They contained a link to a “pharmaceutical” website, a
site that contained descriptions of just how their products would help male enhancement and performance. It’s bad enough we all get …

Being a Better Parent, Giving Kids Some Freedoms, Overscheduled Kids

Kids and Summer Boredom: Should Parents Come to the Rescue?

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I got screamed at yesterday. Surprisingly, not by my teenager, but my soon-to-be teenager. And just what were those oft-repeated,
often-heard-in-summer-words, this time uttered at the top of her lungs?  “I’M BORED!!!!!!!”  Followed by: “WHAT CAN I DO?!! FIGURE OUT SOMETHING FOR ME TO DO!!!!!!!  Followed by
bedroom door slamming, and after that, crying. Geesh. I thought I was over those years of “Mommy, please fill my every waking void…”

So that I could get even a shred of work done during the summer, I used to do just that, at least two to three days a week: schedule day camps, mothers-day-outs, etc., planning far in advance to
fill the summer calendar, beginning as early as late February. But as kids get older, I think they need to be more responsible for filling in their time, to foster creativity, independence, etc., and
so each summer for at least the …

Raising Teenagers

Teens and Interpersonal Communication: Not Very Personal Anymore

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I’ve been thinking lately about the “lost arts of communication” that are becoming almost extinct among our nation’s youth.

The most obvious, that has been going downhill for many years, is handwriting of course, both print and cursive, as our kids are asked to turn in school papers almost exclusively printed by a
computer once they get into middle school/junior high. They don’t write letters to cousins or “pen pals” anymore– a Facebook message will do just fine, and even summer camps have computers now.
E-cards have replaced birthday cards, e-vites have replaced invitations…so when they do get the chance to use their handwriting, it doesn’t look that great– most elementary schools these days find
little room in their curriculum for perfecting printing or cursive. (I actually took Allison to a couple of private handwriting classes when she was in 6th grade, I was so concerned at what I was
seeing– it helped a little.)

Dallas …

Raising Teenagers

The Texas Teen Driver Written Test: Could You Pass?

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My 16-year-old finally got her learner’s permit the other day, taking over six months to finally complete the 6 hours of required online
reading she had to do before applying (remember, we’re doing “parent taught”). Based on the guidelines from the course we purchased, and the TX Dept. of Public Safety’s online instructions for
getting a driver’s license, I told her she wouldn’t have to take a written test until she actually applied for a license, and a driving test then, too. Luckily, two days before we were to go in
to apply for the permit, I found out, from another mom, that I was wrong.The written test was required for the permit. “But it probably won’t be a big deal,” I told her. I
couldn’t imagine they’d make it hard on someone who is just getting started learning to drive, who hasn’t even been …

Great Books to Read, Kids and Media, Movies, Travel With Kids

Pottermania: What a Fun Ticket to Ride It’s Been

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We all have “I remember when” things we can say, that vary depending on our age, when it comes to historical
events that we’ve experienced. The day Kennedy was shot, the first moon walk, personal computers become a household item, 9/11…history-making events and milestones are happening all the time.
But not every generation can say they grew up amidst the worldwide excitement and hysteria over something creatively great, as it’s being created. For example, lots of people will
continue to love the music of The Beatles, but only some can say they grew up looking forward to every Beatles record release or being one of the first in line at the record store to buy
those releases, or saw the Beatles in person, “live in concert”.  And many people will continue to love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and watch the movies on DVD, but only some will be
able to say …

Being a Better Parent, Giving Kids Some Freedoms, Sharing and Venting

“Good for the child” is not always good for the group

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Emmie spent every afternoon last week at a girls’ science and engineering camp at Southern Methodist University
(probably the best bargain on that campus—only $50 for the whole week, and two days included lunch!). She really enjoyed rubbing elbows with professional female engineers, learning more about the
different types of engineering, working on projects, and making friends with girls from all over the Dallas area and even from as far away as Houston, ranging in age from 12-18. The only thing she
didn’t like about it, which she complained to me about every day, were the girls who talked all the time to each other and didn’t pay attention, making it hard for the few that wanted to pay
attention. And unfortunately, there were only a few who really wanted to pay attention. Emmie says that on the first day, when the facilitator asked each girl to tell the group why …

Kids and Money, Raising Teenagers

A Tale of Two Phones

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Can I get my phone today? Can I get my phone today? Can I get my phone today? Can I get my phone today? Can I get my phone today? Can I get my phone today? Can I get my phone today? Can I get my phone today? Can I get my phone

More than we heard, “Are we there yet?” on our recent road trips, the question/pleading/mantra/broken record of “Can I get my phone today?” has been
heard daily around our house, and in stereo, since Cleo went back to France on Monday.   We were able to get a new, free phone from our cell phone plan when Cleo arrived last summer
(she paid us monthly for calls/texting), and both Emmie and Allison were hoping it might become theirs when she left.   Emmie has never had her …

Raising Teenagers

Hard To Say Good Bye, But Worth the Pain

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Our exchange student begins her journey home today after living with us for the past 10 months.   It’s hard to believe that
this day, that once seemed so far away, is here.   It’s been a bittersweet last few days as we’ve all seen it looming larger and larger on the horizon…I cried in the car on
Saturday, Emmie cried last week, Cleo cried yesterday…we all cried today.   Cleo doesn’t want to leave and we don’t want her to leave, but she must, and so we have to learn
how to deal with this new kind of loss, new for all of us.   We’re saying good-bye to a daughter, a sister, and a friend.   Not gone forever, but gone from
our everyday life, gone from our family dynamic, and so very far away.

Earlier …

Dealing With Back Talk, Humor, Travel With Kids

Uncool and Biblical

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On our recent family trip to Iowa we took a tour of an Amish community– rode in a van with a tour guide through rolling farmland and saw
homestead after homestead of Old Order Amish families, working in gardens, driving wagons down the highway, running through the fields barefoot… there are 2,000 Amish living near Kalona, Iowa
(almost 200,000 in the U.S.) and according to our guide, the community is growing, thanks to their large average family size.   It was fascinating, like something straight out of the
movie, Witness, but Emmie thought it was just plain stupid that anyone would want to live like that. No electricity (the Amish stores we visited used only skylights for lighting),
no in-home phones, schooling only through the 8th grade, long pants and dresses all the time, even in the hot summertime… They subscribe to this type …