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Parenting
05/07/2010
IconTeacher's Pet The Movie Reporter Films Reviews from a Family Perspective by Phil Boatwright With the synopsis and content, you can decide if the new films are suitable for your viewing. Video alternatives contain the same theme, but lack the offensive material. TEACHER'S PET: Disney animated adventure, with the voices of Nathan Lane, Kelsey Grammer, Shaun Fleming, Debra Jo Rupp, David Ogden Stiers, Jerry Stiller. W-Bill Cheri Steinkellner. D-Timothy Bjorklund. A talking dog named Spot fulfills his ultimate wish to become a #147;real boy#148; when he hooks up with a mad scientist. Spot becomes a canine #147;guinea pig#148; in the kooky doctor#146;s evolutionary experiment, with the dog successfully turned into a human. The only catch is that the silly scientist didn#146;t calculate for #147;dog years#148; and Spot finds himself in the body of a middle-aged man! The fur really flies as his pals (led by best friend and master, Leonard Helperman, a cat named Mr. Jolly, and a boisterous bird named Pretty Boy) help him out of his #147;tight Spot#148; and try to right this genetic wrong. Cute, with a creative storyline and a wonderful voice performance from the witty Nathan Lane, this is a lot of fun for kids and, unlike a lot of animated adventures for little ones, tolerable for accompanying adults. Full of vibrant drawings and lots of energy, the plot makes room for life lessons concerning selfishness and helping others fulfils their dreams. PG (A trip to a Jerry Springer-like program has the audience members chanting #147;wacko#148; at the mad scientist during the show. Later, the boy and dog go to the mad scientist#146;s house #150; the address consisting of the numbers 666, a biblical numerology that refers to the anti-Christ. Because the scientist is attempting to turn animals into humans, the question of nature vs. science is touched upon. But the storyline doesn#146;t seriously address this subject. At one point both dog and boy are strapped down to an operating table and undergo transformations. Other creatures that didn#146;t do well during transformations appear as freaks. But they are more comical than scary. I felt the filmmakers were careful about what they put in front of their intended audience. As always, however, I suggest a parent attend when taking any child under ten to a movie. You just never know when parental comfort is going to be needed #150; and no other relative can meet that need quite like a Mom or Dad). Download Boatwright#146;s book #147;How To Choose A Good Video Every Time!#148; FREE when you subscribe to his weekly film guide. For further information, visit www.moviereporter.com . "Know Before You Go" reg;Philip Boatwright, Editor Film/Video Reviews from a Family Perspective, Email: moviereporter@sbcglobal.net . Published by C. C. Publications, 835 Northstar Ct., Tonganoxie, KS 66086. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconThe New Year At A Glance: Taming The Sign-Up Activity War by Jodie Lynn It's another New Year. How are you proposing to keep your new resolutions intact? Get your family organized today to ensure a rested, easier and more positive year. It may alleviate stress later. Many moms want to be better organized but lack the tools or motivation to do so. For many families, the second part of the school year is just as busy, if not more, than the first part. Hard to believe? It's true! Why does this seem to ring so true? Well, this is the catch-up and make-up segment of your child's progress. It's the final stretch to make and take everything academically back up to snuff. Not only this, spring and summer activities take a "snooze and lose" attitude towards early sign-up, especially things like summer camps. Work-at-home parents try just as hard as any other career-oriented individual to review commitments and family plans. Sometimes, with children in school and a few at home (under foot while you try to work) things can get pretty hairy! It's a double whammy that often times delivers a double headache, not to mention back pains! Set systems into place that streamline days into making better use of time and allow for family activities. Begin by making this new year and upcoming spring a more positive one by squashing the over-scheduling dilemma today in the month of January. Here are a few good tips to get you started and hopefully keep you from pulling out your hair! Review individual needs: Sit down with your children separately and look over their activity schedules for the spring and even the summer. Ask them what they would like to do, instead of assuming. Just because you think they#146;d like it, or even if they participated last year doesn#146;t necessarily mean they want to do it. Letting them choose is better in the long run, unless it is something they obviously need, like summer school for enrichment or for poor grades. Tell them why you are making a calendar and organizing so much. Let them know that getting organized will help everyone in the family with time management and will make you a happier mom. Write it down for visual aid and better motivation: Although there are plenty of tools and aids on the market today to help busy moms, they are no good if not efficient and easy to use. A simple calendar will work, especially one of those larger ones with more writing room, or you can use some computer or Palm software. Plan your month day by day trying to include various details that will make up the day like meals, appointments, practices, games and etc. It sounds like a lot of work, but you will save so much time in the end as you will know what to expect for every day. Personally, I go with my computer planner/calendar. Many of today's computers come with a daily planner/calendar that can be filled in and printed out for a handy visual aid. If you need more space, the squares of each day can be adjusted to print out a little bigger. Make a copy of each month and keep it with you. Give a copy to your spouse and anyone else who may need it and hang one in an area for other family members to see as well. To utilize a better charting system, use the first initials of each family member's name and color code it. For example, mom is orange, dad is green, son is blue, etc. If they want to check the family calendar for their daily schedule, they can easily find it by the specific color code. Just remember, the best laid plans can and do go astray -- so be flexible. Have it all at a glance: Include columns in your plan for special help, other appointments and daily reminders for best success. Make a list of names, times, activities and locations so other family members can help out, even if it is just giving a ride. Manage time by going as far as planning meals and other necessities on the same sheet. Keep a column open to write down meals and items needed for a specific meal, doctor appointments and etc, to help in planning what can be done on days of practice or game days. Keep a space on the calendar handy for preprinted numbers of neighbors, childcare professionals, vets and/or relatives for emergencies. For example, on Monday if you can visually see that it takes 20 minutes to get to your son after school, and another 20 minutes to get him to basketball practice (and you know that you can't make it because you have to stop at the store) call someone from your emergency help list. Have them pick up your son or go to the store and pick up certain ingredients for dinner. Chart family time with rescheduling: Schedule family time into each month. Be upfront with family members and let them know an activity may have to be changed or switched if it's not working for the family as a whole. Make family time an important time and treat it as a priority. If you see after a while that certain activities conflict with certain days, reschedule them. For example, if your daughter's dance class on Tuesdays creates a large overlap with a planned family activity and gets everyone in a bad mood every week, change it. It's not worth the hassle if everyone gets in a bad mood because of one day each week. Remember that one day a week adds up to several weeks a year and resentment and blame will soon follow. Make time for yourself: Don't think for one-minute moms don't need time for themselves. At least three times a week, or at least three hours, go do something for you. Take a walk; go for a run; attend an exercise class. Maybe consider joining a book club or visiting a nursing home. Do something - anything - away from kids. Don't feel guilty about it -- just do it. If you "FLS" (feel like screaming) -- you will! It's like the old saying goes -- "If mama ain't happy -- nobody is." Jodie Lynn is an internationally syndicated parenting/family columnist. Her latest book is Mommy-CEO, revised edition, Martin-Ola Press . (It's not just for moms!) Please see ParentToParent.com for more details. 2004 Jodie Lynn. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWhat Do I Tell People About Why I Am A Stay At Home Dad? by Jodie Lynn "What do I tell people about why I am a stay at home dad without getting upset at all of their questions?" You are very lucky to say the least to be in a position to stay at home with your children. You should remind these people who are asking questions that it is your decision and the best plan for your family. Most of the time people are just curious and really don't mean to be nosy. But go ahead and tell them that it is your decision and it is a personal one made within your family. Let them know they should also consider the option for themselves should it ever be presented. There's no need to debate the topic. Just offer a smile and a hug to your children in front of this person. Usually there are two types of questions. One is supportive and curious and the other is trying to assess whether or not you are as good of a role model as the mom would be. The first one can be answered by reflecting on the awesome experiences everyone in the family is benefiting from and offer input into whether or not they might try it for themselves. And, for number two, be polite and say your instincts are more family friendly than your spouse who is really good at what she does in the business world. It is important for society to finally become educated in this area. With the recent layoffs, firings, company closings and/or delays in promotions, we will probably see more dads deciding to work at home or just take an early retirement so they can be there for the kids. It has been the experience of many dads that being home for children offers a positive and educational endeavor for the whole family. As many families know, the first three to five years of a child's life is crucial for all types of development, coordination, self-esteem and much more. But society is also seeing how important it is for someone to be home when older kids come home from school as well as for our teenagers. "It keeps us grounded and helps us keep them motivated for good grades, behavior and better moral standards to say nothing of their safety," says one father who wrote to me on the topic. Another dad says "there is so much they can get into, talked into or feel the need to perform that I am glad I can meet and greet them at the front door. I say, "BRAVO!" to all dads who are taking an active role in helping to raise their own children. Jodie Lynn is an internationally syndicated parenting/family columnist. Her latest book is Mommy-CEO, revised edition, Martin-Ola Press . (It's not just for moms!) Please see ParentToParent.com for more details. 2004 Jodie Lynn. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconAn Encouraging Word Homebodies By Cheryl Gochnauer Cheryl@homebodies.org Copyright 2003 My inbox has been filling up with email as Homebodies readers share their experiences regarding peers who either praise or criticize their decision to stay home with their children. Nisi wrote in to compliment her sister-in-law, who seems to be just the kind of wonderful, supportive relative at-home parents hope and pray for: #147;I have been a stay at home mom since my first child was born 14 years ago,#148; Nisi says. #147;We have four children, the 14 year old, a 12 year old, an 8 year old, and the light of our lives, a darling 1 year old girl. #147;My husband got laid off December 5th from his job, is freelancing, and looking hard for a new job. All my insecurities about staying at home bloomed as I thought about my extensive education and skills not helping out with the family income at this rough time. #147;But I have been praying about it, and did reach out for support to my sister-in-law." She said the following: "Your children are the warmest, kindest, happiest children because of your choices. They are so blessed to have a highly educated mother staying at home with them, guiding them through their lives' highs and lows. Thank goodness you have been there all these years, and not an indifferent daycare provider. You are doing a fabulous job!" #147;What she said rang true, but it was like water to a thirsty plant in the desert to hear her words just then,#148; Nisi remembers. #147;Sometimes it is necessary to hear the encouragement from others, especially in a society that puts so much importance into acquisition and material gratification.#148; As Nisi points out, a few well-chosen, kind words can immediately change someone#146;s perspective, providing a lift just when they need it. Life is hectic. We spend so much time stomping out fires, it#146;s easy to neglect sparking hope in others. Take time today to encourage a friend. If you#146;re not close enough to give them a hug, why not pick up the phone or shoot off a quick email? Let#146;s launch the New Year with a smile! Comments? Write Cheryl or Nisi at Cheryl@homebodies.org , or visit www.homebodies.org where you can interact with other at-home parents on the active messageboards. Copyright 2003 Cheryl Gochnauer. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
Icon"Cheaper By The Dozen" Movie Review The Movie Reporter Films Reviews from a Family Perspective by Phil Boatwright With the synopsis and content, you can decide if the new films are suitable for your viewing. Video alternatives contain the same theme, but lack the offensive material. Cheaper By The Dozen. Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hillary Duff, Piper Perabo, Ashton Kutcher. 20th Century Fox. Family comedy. W-Sam Harper, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow. D-Shawn Levy. This #147;update#148; of the 1950 Clifton Webb classic concerns a devoted couple raising twelve children. More like #147;Yours Mine and Ours,#148; this new version is a pale imitation of either of those earlier films, with holes in plausibility #150; make that canyons #150; and few memorable moments. Okay, that#146;s the critic in me. Now, just as a moviegoer who still likes theater popcorn, I had a good time with this film. True, it#146;s no #147;Life With Father,#148; but it had some very funny moments and a couple of touching ones as well. What#146;s more, it was like stepping back in time, for this is the cleanest movie I have seen all year. No bad language, no off-color humor, the husband and wife love each other, and get this, the family is religious. Not much is made out of their faith, but it is dramatized by the fact that the parents do not accept their grown-up daughter living with her guy outside of marriage. When the daughter comes home to help out during a crisis, the boyfriend sneaks over. When finding out that the young couple slept together, her folks are incensed, proclaiming #147;This is a G-rated house.#148; They love their daughter, but it is clear that their religious values are to be adhered to while under their roof. I haven#146;t heard that declaration in movies for quite some time. As a matter of fact, the last time I remember the praises of virginity until marriage upheld in a movie was in the very funny and warm #147;Yours, Mine and Ours.#148; In that film the father tells his stepdaughter, #147;It#146;s not going to bed with someone that shows you#146;re in love. It#146;s getting up with them in the morning and facing life together.#148; Here, the story has been time-warped from the turn of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st. Pops has been given his dream job, coaching the football team of his old alma mater, and uproots the family, something none of them are thrilled about. Poor dears, they move to an incredible home, and no longer have to wear hand-me-downs. Not exactly child abuse, but they behave like movie kids are supposed to, sullen and selfish. Mom also has an exciting career. She#146;s the author of a biographical novel entitled #150; oh, come on, guess the title. When she has to go on a two-week book tour and dad is left behind with a neighborhood of kids all living under the same roof, well, havoc ensues. For the sake of situation comedy, dad can#146;t get any domestic help because he has so many kids, and therefore he unsuccessfully balances a work schedule with a clumsy attempt at governing home life. The saving grace for this film is found in its two stars, Martin and Hunt. Bonnie Hunt, the star of TV#146;s #147;Life With Bonnie,#148; has a relaxed manner and a quick wit. And Steve Martin, nearly always funny, is sensitive and believable. The couple work well together. So, now back to being a critic, My main problem with this film is the kids. They are just a bit too bratty and too stagy. In a family that size, discipline and responsibility would be a forgone conclusion, working together expected. But while mom is off, none of the older kids do much to be supportive. They gripe about dad never being there for them, despite the fact that dad#146;s out making this great living for them. Other plot holes become somewhat annoying, but the leads come through and moviegoers are left with a fun, holiday family film. PG (I caught no bad language during the film, with only a mild expletive from Ms. Hunt and a bleeped profanity from Ashton Kutcher during the outtakes during the final credits; some of the kids get a little smart-alecky, but they all pull together at the end and we are left with a strong family portrait; a vomit scene is a bit graphic; a young couple are seen nestling in bed the morning after, but they are later chastised for sleeping together, giving movie audiences a message they seldom hear in movies about chastity; a dog attacks a man #150; this is played for laughs, and it is more playful than vicious; positive lessons including the difficulty of #147;having it all#148;). DEFINITIONS Crudity - A word or action lacking in culture, tact Expletive - A mild obscenity or needless expression Obscenity - Objectionable or repugnant to acceptable standards of decency or morality; indecent; pornographic Profanity - Irreverence toward God Blasphemy - To speak contemptuously of God Adult subject matter - Situations or subjects unsuitable for or difficult to comprehend by children Download Boatwright#146;s book #147;How To Choose A Good Video Every Time!#148; FREE when you subscribe to his weekly film guide. For further information, visit www.moviereporter.com . "Know Before You Go" reg;Philip Boatwright, Editor Film/Video Reviews from a Family Perspective, Email: moviereporter@sbcglobal.net . Published by C. C. Publications, 835 Northstar Ct., Tonganoxie, KS 66086. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconThe Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Movie Review The Movie Reporter Films Reviews from a Family Perspective by Phil Boatwright With the synopsis and content, you can decide if the new films are suitable for your viewing. Video alternatives contain the same theme, but lack the offensive material. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies. D-Peter Jackson. Action/Adventure, Fantasy. This Ring is a flawed jewel. It suffers from the same problems found in chapters one and two. First, you must be somewhat versed in Tolkien ideology in order to clearly follow along. Concocted, otherworldly names of people, places, and things are bandied about in nearly every line. Reading the press notes, I flashed back to college exams I was ill prepared for: As the shadow of Mordor grows across the land, Aragorn is revealed as the hidden heir to the ancient kings. Gandalf miraculously returns and defeats the evil wizard, Saruman. Sam leaves his master for the dead after a battle with the giant spider, Shelob; but Frodo is still alive--in the hands of the Orcs. And while the armies of the Dark Lord are massing--and the one ring comes ever closer to the Cracks of Doom. You see what I mean? Collectively, the three #147;The Lord of the Rings#148; films tell the story of Frodo Baggins, who battles to save Middle-earth from the grip of evil. In their adventures across the treacherous landscape of Middle-earth, Frodo and friends attempt to rid the world of the One Ring #150; a ring that can only be destroyed by being thrown into a lake of fire. I understand that scholars of Tolkien#146;s mythic anthology find ethereal messages contained in the books, as if Tolkien was providing Christianity in code. In the film versions, you can find a good vs. evil theme. And I#146;ll grant there is an example of how good men can be tempted by evil. But I found the allegories overshadowed by one deafening battle after another, one gruesome and very frightening-looking ghoul after another, and a somber narrative that could have been told in 96 minutes rather than its three-hour, 20-minute length. And that brings me to the next problem. At the end of the year, we can always expect the Hollywood heavyweights to bombard us with epics that come close and often extend beyond the three-hour mark. Okay, so we have come to expect that. But this one at 200 minutes just doesn#146;t seem to know how to end. Indeed, there are several endings. To be fair to the filmmakers, they wanted to be true to the books, and respectful to those familiar with every subplot. And although there are many changes, the overall feel is faithful to the book series. It is a difficult thing adapting a book to the screen. The screenwriters should be congratulated for their efforts, but if you haven#146;t studied the books, you may question from time to time, or in my case, scene to scene, just what the heck is going on. Also troubling is the amount of violence in this film. Believe me, you#146;ll get no inkling of the film#146;s ferociousness from the family-friendly merchandising tie-ins. But it is one of the most violent films I#146;ve seen in quite some time. Not much blood, but there#146;s torture, duels to the death, main characters are killed, nightmarish sequences pop up every time someone puts that ring on, and there are hordes of demonic-looking villains bent on eliminating our little band of wood imps. And lastly, I never grew close to these characters. Barely a scene goes by where someone#146;s eyes don#146;t pool up, yet I was unaffected. Because it all seemed fantastical, I was unable to sense any real emotional depth. Perhaps a great performance rather than an adequate one would have conveyed that sensation. You have to be a fan of this genre to best appreciate this metaphor-laced action adventure. I freely admit that I do not share the enthusiasm that I#146;m sure many of my colleagues in criticism will lavish upon this production. But I also admit an admiration for the visual opulence director Jackson has brought to the screen. Although it#146;s not my cup of tea, there is no question that it is epic storytelling and grandiose filmmaking. The visuals in every scene are breathtaking, often mesmerizing. Sir Ian McKellen is majestic in the role of Gandalf. And it is a film that luxuriates in the storytelling process. What#146;s more, there are spiritual ideals that can be gleaned concerning faith, honor, loyalty and man#146;s struggle with his inner nature. Tolkien#146;s themes deal with friendship, mercy, self-sacrifice, nature versus industry and, finally, redemption. Where I found these ideas muted in the first installment, dwarfed by the action sequences, both the second and now this final chapter leave a more thoughtful impression. Director Jackson is quick to point out, #147;What we are trying to do, as we adapt #145;The Lord of the Rings#146; into a film medium, is honor these themes. While you can never be totally faithful to a book, especially one over one thousand pages, we have tried to incorporate the things that Tolkien cared about when he wrote the novel, and make them the fabric of the films.#148; Actor John Rhys-Davies, who plays the courageous dwarf Gimli, adds to Jackson#146;s explanation, #147;Tolkien is aware of the presence of evil. Evil is a very unfashionable thing to talk about in our time. It makes everybody squirm. He#146;s also aware of the fact that civilizations can be lost. Tolkien knows that every hundred years or so, there comes a challenge to a generation where you can lose it all. Your way of life, your civilization. If you do not have unity, courage and a willingness to sacrifice yourself, you can lose it all.#148; Rhys-Davies, gifted with a commanding voice and a thoughtful use of language, continues by merging his own assessment of our times with Tolkien#146;s goals. #147;Our civilization matters. We take it for granted. Tolkien reminds us that there are things worth fighting for.#148; Buffs of the series should be delighted. And it will most likely satisfy most others. But it would help if you could first take J.R.R. Tolkien 101 before attending. And if you should attend, don#146;t exit until the end credits begin to appear, because just when you think it#146;s over, it isn#146;t. PG-13 (constant violence and a few sequences that may be nightmarish for little ones, but no inappropriate language or sexuality; the opposing warriors look demonic, as does Gollum, a schizophrenic creature who leads Frodo throughout the film; though the battles are fairly bloodless, they are intense and frequent #150; and do include brutalities such as decapitations; parents, be advised that there are moments and characters in this movie that may traumatize very little ones). DEFINITIONS Crudity - A word or action lacking in culture, tact Expletive - A mild obscenity or needless expression Obscenity - Objectionable or repugnant to acceptable standards of decency or morality; indecent; pornographic Profanity - Irreverence toward God Blasphemy - To speak contemptuously of God Adult subject matter - Situations or subjects unsuitable for or difficult to comprehend by children Download Boatwright#146;s book #147;How To Choose A Good Video Every Time!#148; FREE when you subscribe to his weekly film guide. For further information, visit www.moviereporter.com . "Know Before You Go" reg;Philip Boatwright, Editor Film/Video Reviews from a Family Perspective, Email: moviereporter@sbcglobal.net . Published by C. C. Publications, 835 Northstar Ct., Tonganoxie, KS 66086. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconHoliday Films Reviewed Compiled by Philip Boatwright, The Movie Reporter www.moviereporter.com . Animated: Dr. Seuss#146; How The Grinch Stole Christmas. In 1966, Dr. Seuss#146;s classic picture book was transformed into an animated TV masterpiece by Warner Brothers cartoonist Chuck Jones. The seasonal fixture featured the amiable voice of Boris Karloff as the rhyming narrator and the title character. It still holds up today as delightful family entertainment. The Little Drummer Boy. (1966). Family Home Entertainment. The very moving seasonal song comes to animated life with the capable voices of Greer Garson, Jose Ferrer, and Teddy Eccles. Opens with a quote from Luke 2, then segues into the tale of a bitter orphan who is kidnapped by a Fagan-like villain to front for the thief. The boy is full of anger until he beholds the Christ child. Lesson: Hatred is wrong. Ends with "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The Greatest Adventure #150; The Nativity. Hanna /Barbera. A respectful homage to the greatest story ever told. 3 young archeologists go through a time portal and find themselves in Jerusalem during the birth of Christ. Entertaining. Good animation. Voices of Roscoe Lee Brown, Darlene Carr, Helen Hunt (Mad About You), Gregory Harrison, Vincent Price. A Charlie Brown Christmas. (1965) A perfect animated tale by Charles Schultz with the "Peanuts" gang searching for the true meaning of Christmas. Great d ialogue, charismatic voice performances, and an award-winning jazzy score by Vince Guaraldi. One of the few Christmas presentations, either animated or live action, that pays tribute to the true meaning of the season - the birthday of our Savior. Mr. Magoo#146;s Christmas Carol. (1962) The myopic curmudgeon plays Ebenezer Scrooge in this delightful animated musical version of the Dickens' timeless classic. With the voice of Jim Backus, the superbly adapted teleplay by Barbara Chain and the music and lyrics of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, you find true children's programming doesn't have to be condescending. The Night Before Christmas And Best-Loved Yuletide Carols. (1992) Meryl Streep reads the classic Christmas Eve tale by Clement Moore with moving renditions of Christmas carols by George Winston, The Edwin Hawkins Singers and Christ Church Cathedral Choir set to breath-taking illustrations. Ms. Streep does a fine job singing It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. The highlight -The Edwin Hawkins delivery of Go Tell It On the Mountain , which is both stirring and reverential. A perfect bedtime video. Made by Rabbit Ears, a company committed to family programming. CHRISTMAS STORIES. Children's Circle Home Video. 4 delightfully told bedtime stores. Entertaining and well illustrated. Stories include Morris's Disappearing Bag - a last present under the Christmas tree contains a bag that causes you to disappear, The 12 Days of Christmas - a long song with illustrations, The Little Drummer Boy - a simple gift from the heart is the most precious, and The Clown of God - a once famous juggler, now old and penniless, gives one last performance on Christmas Eve. For ages 3-10. Inspirational: Cotton Patch Gospel. (1988). A musical comedy/drama placing the Gospel of Matthew in modern-day Georgia, with Jesus being born in Gainesville. Funny, moving, inspirational, with lively music by the late Harry Chapin. Ask your Christian bookstore to order it from the Bridgestone Production Group. The Fourth Wiseman. (1985) Gateway Films/Vision Video. Martin Sheen, Alan Arkin and cameos by the leads' offspring and other well-known faces. Based on the Henry Van Dyke tale of a good magi seeking the birthplace of Jesus, but because of his duty to others, is delayed in the desert for 33 years, only to see (from afar) the Savior as He is being crucified. He spent his life searching for the Messiah in order to give valuable treasures, but one-by-one he sells his priceless gifts to help the needy. Full of illustrations of how our Lord would have us treat our fellow man. Arkin serves brilliantly as comic relief in his role as the magi/doctor's self-serving slave. A selfish man, the slave is finally moved by his master's constant self-sacrifices. Fun For The Entire Family#133; Little House On The Prairie; The Lord Is My Shepherd. Troubled Laura Ingalls learns a lesson in love from a kind-hearted hermit, who may be more than he seems. Prancer. (1989) Orion/Nelson Entertainment. Sam Elliott, Rebecca Harrell, Cloris Leachman. Rated G (3 "Oh my Gods" from different characters in the film). A precocious 8-year-old cares for a wounded reindeer she believes is one of Santa's flying helpers. Not just another film promoting the existence of Santa Claus. It's theme is about believing in things unseen. Contains positive lessons about faith, family love (although the father is a bit of a grump - a no nonsense farmer frustrated with financial problems and single parenting, but we see his love for the children by film's end), spiritual healing, and doing what you believe is right. Respectful church scene, including the singing of How Great Thou Art. Sentimental, engrossing. A Dream For Christmas. (1973) Hari Rhodes, Beah Richards. 100 min. Warner Home Video. Baptist minister moves his Arkansas family to L.A. in 1950. Unfortunately, the elders have neglected to inform him that the church he's to pastor has been set for demolition. The family must pull together to save the church. Written by Earl Hammer, Jr. (#147;The Waltons#148;). Family togetherness, faith, perseverance. Old St. Nick#133; Miracle On 34th Street. (1994). Richard Attenborough, Mara Wilson. The manager of a New York department store hires Kris Kringle to be the store Santa. Soon the old fellow has to convince the woman and her precocious daughter that he truly is Father Christmas. A delight and a rarity, as it is one of the few worthwhile remakes. Full of laughter, poignancy and charm, it is noteworthy for containing both visual and verbal Christian metaphors and points out that Santa is a symbol. Contains a great visual: A cross lit in Christmas lights on the side of a building, centered in the screen with decorated trees outlining the tableau. What an image! It places the true meaning of the holiday at the center of the screen and the story! There's even a Thanksgiving prayer - when is the last time you saw that in a Hollywood production? PG (one expletive; Santa is provoked by the villain, but he later repents). Although Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood have nothing to worry about, this newest Miracle is destined to become a classic. The scene where Santa communicates with a little deaf girl is worth the rental price. The Santa Clause. (1994) Tim Allen. PG (Santa falls off a roof; one or two mild expletives). When Santa is incapacitated, a divorced man trying to win back his estranged son takes over and soon finds himself the new Santa. It's both funny and imaginative and I found nothing objectionable as long as you don't mind the film's struggle to convince young ones of Santa's existence. And don#146;t forget - Holiday Inn, White Christmas and The Bishop#146;s Wife ! Classics with #145;nary a Reindeer in Sight#133; Stars In My Crown. One of my favorite films of all time #150; Joel McCrea stars as a pistol-packin#146; preacher who helps the citizens of a small western town cope with life#146;s frustrations. Sentimental, inspirational and very entertaining. This is not an easy one to find, but you can order it from The Dove Foundation. Call 1-800-968-8437, ext. 2 for details. Three Godfathers. (1948) John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz and Harry Carey, Jr. portray three outlaws who come across a dying woman and her newborn baby. The symbolism between the Christ child and this new foundling has a redemptive effect on the three bandits. Sincere performances, beautiful cinematography and the skillful direction of John Ford highlight this insightful western. Friendly Persuasion. Charming portrayal of a Quaker family caught in the Civil War conflict. President Reagan gave a copy to Mikhail Gorbachev. The Chestnut#133; It#146;s A Wonderful Life (1946) Republic Pictures Home Video. 160 min. George Bailey wishes he had never been born. When the angel Clarence grants him that wish George is able to see what life would have been like for his friends and relatives had he not been around. I consider this one of the most important films Hollywood ever produced. James Stewart's George Bailey reminds us that we touch so many lives and can have a real influence on those souls. Full of Christian symbolism, It's A Wonderful Life reinforces the belief that our compassion and responsibility do make a difference in the lives of those with whom we come in contact. Not rated, it does contain one suggestive remark made by on-looking men as the town's wild girl walks by. But it is handled tastefully. The Masterpiece: When it comes to the famous Dickens#146; tale, here are three of the best renditions: A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) starring Alastair Sim; A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1984) with George C. Scott; and the musical version, SCROOGE (1970), with Albert Finney. Each is a well-acted parable with regard to redemption. After the little ones are snug in their beds#133; The Preacher#146;s Wife. (1996) Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance. Touchstone. PG (1 mild expletive; the grandmother smokes, but the angel chastises her, "Our stay here on earth is precious" - an excellent indictment against smoking; the Scrooge-like character drinks, but alcohol use is not glorified). An over-worked pastor gets help from a classy angel. In some ways it outshines the original, The Bishop's Wife, especially when it comes to proclaiming the gospel message (through songs), but it doesn't surpass that Christmas classic when it comes to charm. Whitney is a one-note actress, but for those who like her music, you won't be disappointed. Denzel is handsome and cool, and Courtney B. Vance is exceptional as the neglecting father and husband. Replete with moral teachings concerning marriage, home life, faith, and the fact that we can make a difference. One sad note; although the story is about religious people and takes place at Christmas time, the name Jesus is never uttered. Ironic, considering most every other movie of this era now uses, or should I say, misuses that name as a mere expletive. The Bishop#146;s Wife. (1947) Cary Grant and Loretta Young. An angle aids a struggling minister. I marveled at the ending sermon given by the Bishop, played by David Niven. Standing behind his pulpit, the Reverend reminded his parishioners to focus attention on Christ. #147;All the stockings are filled, except one. We#146;ve even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It#146;s his birthday we#146;re celebrating. Don#146;t let us ever forget that. Let us each ask what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share.#148; Wow. The Gathering. (1977) Ed Asner, Maureen Stapleton. This Emmy-winning TV movie focuses on a dying man's efforts to reunite his family. It reinforces the importance of family and presents positive Christian images including a believable prayer, the scripture reading of Jesus' birth, and a child's christening. Find of The Year: Saint Maybe. (1998) Blythe Danner, Edward Herrmann, Melina Kanakaredes, Thomas McCarthy, Jeffrey Nordling, Mary-Louise Parker. Hallmark When a ne#146;er-do-well finds himself the cause of his brother#146;s death, he seeks a reason for his life. He stumbles upon a church gathering and quickly turns his life around, living for others. This affecting Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of a family dealing with the loss of a loved one is a wonderful film suitable for the Christmas holidays. There are so many powerful messages and life lessons, none of which over-powers the entertaining drama. What a delight to find a film where scripture is quoted, the Christian lifestyle is not mocked, prayers are spoken and the gospel message is put into practice. Due to the adult subject matter and two deaths, the material may not be suitable for little ones, but older children and their parents will be nurtured as they see a family come together after tragic circumstances. I really liked this movie. But beware: have a Kleenex on hand. It will move you. Unrated (two women have a beer; a car crash kills a man #150; seen twice; an accidental death by drug overdose; the family pet passes away). From all of us atThe Movie Reporter, Merry Christmas THE MOVIE REPORTER I present the synopsis and content so you can decide if the new releases are suitable for your family's viewing. With this information, you can discuss "hot" new releases without financially supporting them. I also suggest Video Alternatives: films with the same theme or style as the new releases, but without the offending material. Go to my website for over 1,000 FREE past reviews. My site will give you my background as well as information on how to subscribe to the weekly guide. Every Friday I send out reviews of theatrical releases, made for TV originals, plus extras. For further information, visit www.moviereporter.com . "Know Before You Go" reg;Philip Boatwright, Editor Film/Video Reviews from a Family Perspective, Email: moviereporter@sbcglobal.net . Published by C. C. Publications, 835 Northstar Ct., Tonganoxie, KS 66086. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMorality of Radio and TV Bart Buskey www.Fatherville.com Here it is almost Christmas time. If it wasn#146;t for mywife we wouldn#146;t have most of our Christmas shoppingdone. I tend to wait until the last week to get allthe presents. The subject I want to talk about doesn#146;t have a lot todo with Christmas. Well, it could, depending on if youare considering buying music and movies for yourchildren as presents. I want to talk about our responsibility as parentsabout what we let our children hear on TV and radio.Mostly I want to talk about the #147;F#148; word. I know some of you are saying that you can#146;t say the#147;F#148; word on TV or radio. Starting in 2004 the FCC hassaid that the #147;F#148; word can be used on TV and radioduring prime time if it is used as an adjective andnot a verb. Yes this is true. I believe that this is sad andwrong. Here is their ruling: http://www.fcc.gov/eb/Orders/2003/DA-03-3045A1.html One of our responsibilities as Stay at Home Dads is toprotect our children from this trash. Isn#146;t itinteresting that when #147;I Love Lucy#148; was on that eventhough they were married they slept in different bedson the show. During this era they couldn#146;t even saythe word pregnant on TV. Today the morality of TV and radio has changed.Morality on TV has gone down. It is ok to say justabout any word over the airways you want. You can talkabout having sex with animals or watch a couple havesex on TV. Is this really what we want our children tosee? I know I don#146;t. There are no TV shows that we canwatch together as a family anymore. I remember when I was a child there were shows that weused to watch as a family: Happy Days, The Waltons,Little House on the Prairie, Hee Haw, and such. Myparents didn#146;t have to worry about what was on TV. NowI have to watch the cartoons on Saturday morning tosee if my boys can watch them. It is really sad sinceI used to watch cartoons like the Bugs Bunny RoadRunner Show, Speed Buggy, Hong Kong Foey, Scooby Doo,and etc. Cartoons today do not even compare to what wehad. My parents knew there was nothing to worry aboutbut they always kept their ears open just in case. I am not going to debate about good and bad morality.I am saying that what is on TV is not good for ourchildren to see. The morality of what is on TV hasplummeted. It is our responsibility to watch andscreen what our children watch. We need to takeresponsibility in letting our congressmen,representatives, and the five commissioners on the FCCboard be told that we don#146;t approve of what is beingallowed on TV and radio. If you want to tell the abovethat you disapprove of what is happening on TV I wouldsuggest going to http://capwiz.com/afanet/alert4124576.html Let#146;s see if we can clean up TV. Let#146;s tell them we nolonger want to see naked men and women on TV. Let#146;stell them we want to get rid of the raunchy words thatare on TV and radio. Let#146;s tell them we need cleanwholesome family shows and to keep out the bad words. I am taking a stance and I hope you will follow. Take responsibility on what your children are watching. If there is nothing but trash on TV or the radio play a family game or go rent a good family movie like #147;Swiss Family Robinson#148; or #147;20,000 Leagues Under the Sea#148;, #147;Veggie Tales#148; or some good cartoon movies. Give your children a hug and tell them that you lovethem. Bart Buskey is a stay at home dad and homeschools hischildren. Bart also writes for the website called Fatherville.com. Fathers supporting Fathers is at www.fatherville.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconThe Last Samurai Movie Review The Movie Reporter Films Reviews from a Family Perspective by Phil Boatwright With the synopsis and content, you can decide if the new films are suitable for your viewing. Video alternatives contain the same theme, but lack the offensive material. The Last Samurai: Tom Cruise, Timothy Spall, Ken Watanabe, Billy Connolly, Tony Goldwyn. Warner Bros. Action/adventure. W-John Logan, Marshall Herskovitz, Edward Zwick. D-Edward Zwick. Captain Nathan Algren (Cruise) is a man adrift. Once he risked his life for honor and country, but, in the years since the Civil War, the world has changed. Pragmatism has replaced courage, self-interest has taken the place of sacrifice and honor is nowhere to be found - especially out West where his role in the Indian Campaigns ended in disillusionment and sorrow. A universe away, another soldier sees his way of life about to disintegrate. He is Katsumoto (Watanabe), the last leader of an ancient line of warriors, the venerated Samurai, who dedicated their lives to serving emperor and country. Just as the modern way encroached upon the American West, cornering and condemning the Native American, it also engulfed traditional Japan. The telegraph lines and railroads that brought progress now threaten those values and codes by which the Samurai have lived and died for centuries. The paths of these two warriors converge when the young Emperor of Japan, wooed by American interests who covet the growing Japanese market, hires Algren to train Japan's first modern, conscript army. But as the Emperor's advisors attempt to eradicate the Samurai in preparation for a more Westernized and trade-friendly government, Algren finds himself unexpectedly impressed and influenced by his encounters with the samurai. Their powerful convictions remind him of the man he once was. #147;The Last Samurai#148; is a captivating action/drama, one that addresses issues of honor, redemption and the sanctity of life, along with a strong performance by the film#146;s star and an exceptional one by Ken Watanabe. A cross between Toshiro Mifume (#147;The Seven Samurai#148;) and Yul Brynner (#147;The Magnificent Seven#148;), Watanabe is intense, dynamic and sensitive. Expressing depth and complexity, Watanabe gives filmgoers one of the best, most controlled performances of the year. As for the film#146;s violence; it is inescapable yet not exploitive. Definitely not for the squeamish or for little ones, the battles do become graphic, with samurai swords and spears doing what they do best. Artistically, however, I found the battle scenes incredibly well choreographed. Not cartoonish as in #147;Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,#148; here the dynamics of one-on-one battle is done in order to reveal the skill of a real warrior. Well, yeah, and to entertain us. For although this is an #147;eastern,#148; it#146;s really a western. And a very good western. Following in the steps of Akira Kurosawa (#147;Yojimbo#148;), director Edward Zwick intertwines the epic with the intimate, giving us an action-packed adventure that also makes statements. As for those statements, it#146;s the one area that caused my eyebrow to rise. While some were universal, others seemed to disclose the filmmakers#146; political and social views of America, indicating a belief that the white man of yesteryear and today is fueled by arrogance and aggression at the expense of other civilizations. White man bad, Indian good, or in this case, white man bad, Japanese man good. Unfortunately, these accusations cannot be denied. But once again, as with #147;Dances With Wolves,#148; this negative and rather myopic portrait ignores any positive qualities of the white settlers and founders of our nation. It glorifies another race as if it were faultless, as if its members had not committed the same atrocities in their history that liberal filmmakers love to remind us about our own founders. Interesting that while Mr. Cruise makes a point of belittling arrogance, he has managed to establish a rewarding career based on arrogance. That#146;s not meant as a knock towards his off-screen character (I understand he#146;s a pretty good guy), but can you name me one character he#146;s played that didn#146;t either start out arrogant or end up that way? I can#146;t tell you how glad I am to have Tom Cruise set me straight about American diplomacy, American history and the true character of the white Anglo Saxon protestant. Throughout the film, he belittles western soldiers, American ambassadors, statesmen, pioneers, military leaders and George Armstrong Custer. According to this film and evidently Mr. Cruise, because it#146;s his film, all white men are overbearing, haughty and destructive. Now see, I didn#146;t know that. Footnote: Hollywood has either romanticized Custer out of all proportion (#147;They Died With Their Boots On#148;) or vilified him (#147;Little Big Man#148;). A recent History Channel documentary pictured Custer somewhere in between those two conceptions. According to many true historians, he was not a madman, nor was he an idiot. Then again, Custer was no saint. While I wouldn#146;t attempt to defend General Custer, I would warn moviegoers not to get too much American history from today#146;s moviemakers. Years ago, when Mr. Cruise was making the film version of #147;Mission Impossible,#148; he gave an interview, exclaiming #147;We took a 30-minute TV show and turned it into a two-hour movie.#148; That statement made me suspicious that perhaps the star had never watched the series. For surely, he would have realized that it was an hour long TV show. My point: Although he#146;s handsome, rich beyond belief, gifted and has exquisite taste in women, Tom just might not know everything. R (2 profanities, 5 obscenities #150; each by gruff white men; a woman is seen after bathing, but she is covered but for her shoulder; there are no explicit sexual situations; the film gets its rating for the detailed battles of which there are several. The violence included depictions of severed arms and decapitations, a couple of suicides #150; out of shame, it is considered noble #150; it#146;s a samurai thing; there are several battles; this, however, is not just an action film, it does deal with ideas including honor, friendship and the sanctity of life). Video Alternative: The Ugly American . If you feel the violence in #147;The Last Samurai#148; is a bit much, then try renting this alternative. New on DVD, Marlon Brando gives a superb performance as an Ambassador assigned to an Asian country where he discovers that an old friend, who is now a formidable voice in that country, has become a communist. While the film does reveal a naive perspective we Americans have concerning interference in other countries, it does show a genuine concern that many US citizens have for suffering people around the world. DEFINITIONS Crudity - A word or action lacking in culture, tact Expletive - A mild obscenity or needless expression Obscenity - Objectionable or repugnant to acceptable standards of decency or morality; indecent; pornographic Profanity - Irreverence toward God Blasphemy - To speak contemptuously of God Adult subject matter - Situations or subjects unsuitable for or difficult to comprehend by children Download Boatwright#146;s book #147;How To Choose A Good Video Every Time!#148; FREE when you subscribe to his weekly film guide. For further information, visit www.moviereporter.com . "Know Before You Go" reg;Philip Boatwright, Editor Film/Video Reviews from a Family Perspective, Email: moviereporter@sbcglobal.net . Published by C. C. Publications, 835 Northstar Ct., Tonganoxie, KS 66086. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconGift Ideas to Keep You From Becoming a Basket Case! By Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper www.livingonadime.com Need Gift Ideas for Christmas but don#146;t want to spend a lot? Here are some tips from Tawra Kellam, author of Not Just Beans: 50 Years of Frugal Family Favorites. Buy items in sets and divide them among the baskets. Buy a four pack of nail polish for four ladies baskets or buy packs of whistles or other party favors for the kids. Take individual popcorn, coffee or cocoa packets out of their boxes. They will fill the baskets better. Shop garage sales and thrift stores for baskets and other containers Dollar stores have lots of great inexpensive gift ideas. Browse! Use cellophane bags to package your mixes. They are inexpensive when purchased at party stores or florists. A gift can be as simple as tea bags in a tea cup tied with a pretty ribbon. A large soup mug and saucer with soup mix or a small glass bowl with some potpourri might also make a simple but nice gift. Try making these specialty gift baskets: FOOTBALL FAN - (teenage boys, brothers, fathers and brothers-in-law!) Fill a large bowl purchased at the dollar store with candy bars, bags of microwave popcorn, sodas, chips, dips, a favorite football flag or hat, and a calendar of game days. FISHERMAN - In a tackle box or fish bowl put hooks, bait, line, hot chocolate or sodas, trail mix, gloves, fishing magazines and a fish pillow. DOG - In a dog bowl, place a ball, old sock with a knot tied in it, dog bones, rawhides, a leash, a name tag and a brush. You might include a picture of a mailman with "the enemy" written on it. CAT - In a cat litter box, place a catnip toy, cat food, a poop scoop, a leash, a name tag and a little rubber mouse.CAR - In a large bucket, place fuzzy dice, air freshener, wax, car wash, chamois ("Shammy"), tire cleaner, a car trash can, a key ring, ice melter for cars and an ice scraper. BABY BASKET - Spray paint a basket white and line it with a baby blanket or use a diaper bag. Fill with bibs, baby oil, baby lotion, baby powder, diaper ointment, a teething ring, burp cloths, wipes and a rattle. RELAXING BASKET - Line a basket with a hand towel. Add a lavender candle, bath oil or bubble bath, bath salts, a favorite magazine or book, a poof and scented soap, and a do not disturb sign (Make one out of a piece of cardboard.). COFFEE LOVER - In a basket, include flavored coffee packets, cinnamon sticks dipped in chocolate, wrapped in cellophane and tied with a ribbon, cookie mix or cookies, flavored powdered creamer and a coffee cup. BAKER#146;S DELIGHT - Line a large mixing bowl with a dish towel. Add cookie mixes, hot chocolate mixes, brownie mix, muffin mix, a package of walnuts, measuring cups and pot holders. ICE CREAM LOVER - Place tissue paper on the bottom of a basket. Add sundae dishes, an ice cream scoop, nuts, hot fudge sauce, butterscotch sauce, chocolate syrup, Maraschino cherries and a gift certificate for 2 frac12; gallons of ice cream. SOUP BASKET - In a basket, stock pot or bean crock, add large soup mugs, 7 bean soup, cornbread mix, cookie mix and oyster crackers wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with a ribbon. NAIL POLISH BASKET - In a pretty bucket or basket, add a variety of nail polish, emery boards, nail clippers, polish remover, cotton balls, hand cream, cuticle cream and a nail buffer. FAMILY NIGHT - In a large bowl, add a puzzle or game, popcorn, candy bars, soda, hot chocolate mix and mugs. FRUIT BASKET - Line a basket with tissue paper. Add apples, oranges, hot chocolate mix, various teas and dried fruits (like figs or raisins). Sprinkle nuts on top of everything. COOKIE DELIGHT -In a basket lined with tissue paper, add two cookie mixes in cellophane bags or jars tied with ribbons, Russian Tea (also in a cellophane bag or small jar tied with ribbon), cookie cutters, a teacup and two pot holders. CHOCOLATE LOVER - In a basket, add Hot Chocolate Mix, Brownie Mix , Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Mix, Party Mints, Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix and a small package of marshmallows. Hot Chocolate Mix 8 cups dry milk 4 frac34; cups powdered sugar 1 frac34; cups cocoa 1 frac12; cup non-dairy creamer 1 sm. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix Sift the ingredients into a large bowl. Place the mix into an airtight containers. Attach this to the jar: Hot Chocolate 5 Tbsp. (1/3 cup) Hot Chocolate Mix 1 cup hot water (not boiling) marshmallows or whipped cream Place the Hot Chocolate Mix into a mug. Add boiling water. Stir until Hot Chocolate mix is dissolved. Garnish as desired with marshmallows or whipped cream. Serves 1. Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix 2 cups flour frac12; tsp. baking soda frac14; tsp. salt 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. ground cinnamon frac12; cup raisins and/or nuts In a bowl, mix together first 5 ingredients. Place in an air tight container. Package raisins and nuts separately. Topping 3 Tbsp. sugar frac14; tsp. cinnamon frac14; tsp. nutmeg Mix topping ingredients in a bowl. Package in a small cellophane bag. Attach this to the jar: Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix To prepare, preheat oven to 350 degrees Mix together: Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix raisins and/or nuts 1 cup apple juice 2 Tbsp. oil frac12; cup applesauce margarine, melted Stir just until combined. Spoon into lightly greased muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. While still warm, dip in melted margarine and then topping. Makes 12-15 muffins. Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper are the editors of LivivgOnADime.com . For more free tips and recipes visit our web site at LivingOnADime.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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