Being a Better Parent, Charities

10 Ways for Overcommitted Parents to Say No

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Lately, I’m often reminded of something a friend of mine once said in a Christmas card note, just after she’d listed all
the volunteer activities in which she was involved, like PTA and Girl Scouts: “It’s ironic that the things we do to benefit our children keep us from spending quality time with them.”  At the
time, I’d barely started a family and couldn’t relate. 16 years later, with at least 13 of those years spent on various volunteer boards, I can. And now that my husband has gotten involved as an
office-holder in “stuff” like PTA as well, we’re doubly aware. This year, we’re officers or committee chairs in 10 organizations combined, and in one, we each hold both a board position and

Luke the Dog

Two Dog Nights, Three Kid Days

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Emmie with Ben Arffleck and Luke

The kids are out of school again today, for an unprecedented five days in a little over a week. This snow and ice mix is definitely giving North Texas some Three Dog Nights (for those of you that
don’t know, that’s Australian slang meaning, it’s so cold you’ll need three dogs to keep you warm—and yes, the 70’s pop band took their name from that as well). But in our house, we’re actually
having Two Dog Nights. A few days ago, our adoption was completed for a shelter …

Great Parenting Tools, Kids and school

“I’ll Do My Homework Later”: Helping Kids Battle Procrastination

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It’s tough sometimes being an anti-helicopter parent, who seeks to help their children learn life lessons by not jumping in and taking over
everything.   It’s like standing by and watching a train wreck, after you’ve warned the engineer several times of danger ahead.   To borrow again from the
train metaphor, lately our house is like “Procrastination Station”, and even though I keep warning my kids, the trains keep wrecking.  

“Emmie, …

Celebrating Holidays, Charities

“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 …

Domestic Engineering, Sharing and Venting

Confessions of a Burnt-Out Scrapbooker

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Hope everyone had a nice MLK holiday weekend. I spent part of mine trying to catch up in “preserving memories”- a.k.a. keeping up with family
photos, and what a daunting task it has been!  It used to be so simple when my kids were little.   I’d snap pictures on my camera, get them developed at the
drug store, and put them in a “magnetic” album—you know, one of those with sticky pages and clear plastic to …

Being a Better Parent, Raising Girls, Raising Teenagers

The Talk, The Film, and Teaching Kids About the Birds and the Bees

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As I got out my brand new 2011 calendar the other day and was going through the stacks of papers and emails in the “add
to calendar” files, I found one about “The Film”. You know, that film, the one on human growth and development that they show to kids in upper elementary grades (well, there’s one for
girls, and a different one for boys). Around here, there’s a film every year beginning in 4th grade and continuing thru 6th. The subjects …

Raising Teenagers

Working to Drive

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Nothing like starting off the new year running. Not me, I mean my minivan. It’s still going, at
just under 200,000 miles– and it’s about to be driven by my daughter Allison. Yesterday I finally signed her up for online driving instruction, and after she completes the first six hours, she can
get a learner’s permit and start “practice driving”, with Andy or I next to her. Parent Taught Driver’s Ed, that’s what we’re doing, and I actually can’t wait to get started.  Because each hour

Celebrating Holidays, Kids and Money

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, Celebrating Holidays

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 …