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Parenting
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05/07/2010
IconDealing With Crybabies By Cheryl Gochnauer Since Karen and Carrie are now 13 and 9, you might think I'm out of touchwith mothers of newborns. No way. I have an excellent memory and I want youto know, my glassy-eyed, sleep-deprived, still-in-my-bathrobe-at-5 friend,that you will live through this. Poor Baby. I remember a particularly bleary day when Karen started screaming at 8 a.m.and didn't quit for six hours. SIX hours! About five hours into it, I wasstanding on my front porch, screaming myself (in my bathrobe, of course). Fortunately, all my neighbors worked, so no one was around to call the cops. Then again, I probably would have been grateful to be hauled off to a nice,quiet cell. Baby swings were usually helpful in getting my little ones quieted down. With Karen, I had one of those crank jobbies that would run out of steamjust as she was nodding off. Waaaaah! When Carrie came along, I got smartand bought a battery-operated swing and constantly kept a fresh supply ofAAs on hand. Babies cry, and for as little as they are, they're remarkably good at it. Since they can't talk, crying is their main means of communicating, and itwill help keep your temper in check if you try to view their bawling in thatlight. Approach their outbursts as you would a foreign language, spoken bysomeone you'd give your life for. It takes a relatively short time for Mom to decipher which cry means what.There's the "I'm hungry" cry. There's the "I'm tired" cry. There's theemphatic "I need a new diaper" cry. (Who wouldn't wail at that?) And inCarrie's case, there was the "My sock's on crooked and somebody's gonna pay!" cry. (Even at three months, she was a perfectionist.) If you're a stay-at-home mom, I can point out a silver lining surroundingthe up-all-night cloud: once you collapse in bed at 4 a.m., you don't haveto get up for work at 6 a.m. There were times when I was sure people in the next county could hear myredheaded foghorns. But read my lips: this too shall pass. Your baby willlearn to sleep through the night. You will wear makeup again. Both you andyour baby will learn to communicate in ways other than crying. Meanwhile, make sure you arrange for regular renewal time away from yourchildren. Days on end without a break sap energy and patience, and achronically tired mother has little to give her family. So take Grandma upon her offer to baby-sit; ask your husband to watch the baby while you get asoda with friends; build some mad money into the budget for a sitter so youcan get out a couple of hours a week. That's another thing I remember - how revitalizing a short break can be. Bythe time I walked back in the door, I was refreshed and swept my baby backin my arms, ready for our next adventure together. Give yourself somebreathing room, and there's a good chance you'll feel the same. (Comments? Email Cheryl@homebodies.org or visit her website at www.homebodies.org . Her new "Stay-at-Home Handbook", is available at yourfavorite bookstore or directly from Cheryl (autographed!) at www.homebodies.org . Copyright 2002 Homebodies.Org, LLC.) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconThe Fine Art of Paper Management Jill Savage 1/26/02 Pantagraph Hearts at Home column Do you ever lose your kitchen counter? Do you find yourself simply moving mail and school papers from one pile to another? Do you struggle knowing what wonderful art papers to keep and what to discard? Are you frantically searching for your child's field trip permission slip minutes before they leave for school? If you can answer yes to any of the above questions, you are not alone. Most mothers struggle with the hundreds of school papers that descend upon our kitchen counters every week. When you add in information about the soccer league, church programs, and kindergarten registration it becomes almost overwhelming. Then the mail comes each day and you are ready to throw in the towel. How can we handle all of the paper that comes into our home each day? What can we do to minimize the stress this adds to our life? With four children ranging from ages 5-17, it seems that paper management is one of my biggest jobs. By default, I'm a pile maker. My mom was a pile maker, too. Of course, she always seemed to know what pile that permission slip was in. I, on the other hand, found myself being stressed about not having the use of my kitchen counter. I didn't want to live simply moving one pile to another just to prepare dinner. I had to find a new way. Through the help of organized friends and Don Azlett's book "Clutters Last Stand", I finally began learning new strategies for handling the snowstorm of papers that blow in each day. Here are some of the tips I've learned over the years: When trying to decide what cute art papers to save, anything that has their picture on it or has been created using a handprint or footprint takes priority. When looking at a picture of a snowman that's been created with glued cottonballs and a picture of a turkey created out of Austin's handprint--the handprint picture is saved and the cottonball snowman is tossed. As children grow older, save one or two major school projects, papers, or essays that they particularly enjoyed doing. Toss school papers everyday unless they fit the above criteria. Make sure you toss them out of your child's sight to eliminate confusion for the child. Some moms choose to toss while the child is at school the next day. After all, new papers will be coming home in a few hours. If you struggle with tossing papers so soon, put their school papers in a hanging file each day and empty the file each Monday to prepare for the next influx of papers. Consider keeping a 9x12 envelope addressed to each set of grandparents. Rather than throwing away a child's work, put it in the envelope to mail to the grandparents once a month. This is a great way to keep grandparents involved in their grandchildren's daily accomplishments! Display artwork and good papers prominently. Many of us use the refrigerator as a makeshift bulletin board. In one home we lived in, I made a display for artwork going down the basement stairs. We draped a large fishing net on the wall and used clothespins to clip new artwork and school papers to the net. Remember each time you add one to the display, you remove one, as well. When the kids come home after school or preschool immediately ask for school papers. Fill out permission forms and attach checks, if necessary, and place back in their school bag for the next day. Don't let them sit and hope you remember them--just handle them once. Transfer dates and pertinent information for activities to a family calendar or your personal planner. Throw away newsletters and information pages as soon as the dates are transferred. Keep a hanging file system in the area where the papers seem to congregate. Make a file for each child for any papers that need to be kept for upcoming activities. Create files for bills and medical/insurance paperwork. Keep some revolving files on hand for seasonal projects. Are you planning a vacation this summer? Make a vacation file to keep brochures, maps, and travel reservations together. Is your child going to summer camp or participating in a summer mission trip? Make a file for it to keep correspondence, packing lists, and brochures at easy reach. Keep a file or an "inbox" for papers you have finished with, but dad still needs to see. Make sure your husband knows that he needs to discard the papers after he sees them. Learning to manage paper clutter has not been easy for me--but it's been necessary as the home manager. And the fringe benefit of reclaiming my kitchen counter has been worth it all! Jill Savage and her family of six live in Normal, Illinois. Jill is the founder and director of Hearts at Home, http://www.hearts-at-home.org and the author of "Professionalizing Motherhood". Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconAt-Home Vacationing Homebodies By Cheryl Gochnauer While lots of people love to travel, vacation time can still be a blastwithout leaving town. It's a perfect chance to re-fire friendships andremove hovering home projects from your radar. DE-STRESSING HONEY-DO'S. Relax the rest of your year by using vacation timeto get monkey-on-your-back duties done. The key is to approach vacationprojects as family fun, not work. Paint trim. While you're touching up the leaves, let youngsters slap somepaint on weathered outdoor benches. Or choose a new color for the frontdoor and shutters to give a fresh look without tackling the whole house. Clean closets. Sandra Felton, founder of Messies Anonymous, suggestssorting items into three boxes: "Give Away," "Throw Away" or "StoreElsewhere." Hold a garage sale, take things to a consignment shop, or calla charity to arrange a pickup. Plot plants. Gather the family in the yard to strategize landscaping.Pick a place for a festive kids' garden, where they can plant unusualvegetables and flowers. Visit a nursery, choosing a potted plant or two toadd life to your living room now. BOND WITH BUDDIES. Transform a vacation week into Friends and FamilyAppreciation Week. Some suggestions: Spend an afternoon exclusively with each of your children. Let themchoose a favorite snack spot and activity. Now hire a baby-sitter andschedule a "whatever-she/he-wants" day with your spouse. Revitalize relationships by meeting a different friend for lunch each day. Shoot hoops with neighbors in the driveway, or play volleyball in thebackyard. Invite friends over for a movie marathon, or to play cards and boardgames. Organize a progressive dinner. Everyone goes to one house for appetizers,the next for salads, another for entrees, and finishes up at your home fordessert. Hold an adult slumber party, or camp out in your backyard with severalother families. Whatever you decide to do over vacation, keep the tone light. "I like to dothings where there's laughter," says Ruth Strobach, who resides near KansasCity. "We live in such a serious world, under so much stress. It's fun toget together with people where you can be yourself, laugh, relax and shutout the cares of the world for a little while." (It's April, and that means Cheryl's new "Stay-at-Home Handbook" is hittingshelves in a bookstore near you. If you'd like a personally autographedcopy, write Cheryl@homebodies.org or click on this link for moreinformation: www.homebodies.org/ordersahh.htm . Cheryl's other newbook, "Mom to Mom", makes a perfect Mother's Day gift. For orderinformation, go to http://www.homebodies.org/mom2mom.htm . Copyright 2002Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconAsking Great Questions By Patti Chadwick www.parentsandteens.com patti@parentsandteens.com Do you want to know what your teen is really thinking? Try asking great questions. Too many times we ask closed questions that require only a ?yes? or ?no? answer. Does this sound familiar: How was school? Good. Do you have homework? No. How was the game? Okay. We need to learn to ask specific questions that require thought and will encourage conversation. Why not try some of these: Was that test in Spanish as hard as you thought? What were some of the questions on it? Which question was the hardest for you? Who scored the highest in the basketball game after school? Were there any amazing plays? How many people came to Lindsay's birthday party last night? What kind of presents did she get. On a more personal level why not try asking things like: What do you think Heaven looks like? What kind of person would you like to marry? What's the nicest thing I ever did for you? What's the best thing you remember from your childhood? If you could travel anywhere in the world ? where would you like to visit? Why? The list could go on and on, and it should! Why not make your own and begin asking your teen questions that will lead to meaningful conversations. Patti Chadwick is the creator of Parents Teens found at www.parentsandteens.com . She is also the author ofMISSION POSSIBLE: RAISING GREAT TEENS! and LOOK UP! A 30-Day Devotional Journal for Teens. Both books are available on her website in both ebook and print formats. To purchase visit: www.parentsandteens.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMommies On The Web Homebodies By Cheryl Gochnauer Cheryl@homebodies.org Copyright 2002 If you're only using your computer to help your kids with their schoolwork, you're missing out on one of the greatest support systemsavailable to stay-at-home moms - a worldwide network of likemindedparents. Isolation can be a big problem for SAHMs, especially those who live insmall towns or out in the country. Surrounding yourself with friendlymoms, however, can be as easy as logging onto the Internet. Thousands of women visit the Homebodies website ( www.homebodies.org )each week, and many of them are headed for the message boards. There,our Homebuddies exchange frustrations and successes, encouraging andempowering each other with been-there, done-that advice. Although thewebsite offers columns, links and other resources for SAHMs, the messageboards truly reflect the heart of the site. So what IS a message board? I compare it to a regular bulletin boardyou pass in a hallway. On the physical bulletin board, someone can pinup a piece of paper, telling what they need. The next person comingdown the hall can read what the first wrote, then keep on going. Orthey can write their own message on that piece of paper for everyone,including the original writer, to see. Everyone walking down that hall benefits from reading the advice shared,and has the opportunity to share their own thoughts, too. That is whata message board is like, except you type your message on a special webpage and post it on a virtual board. For instance, you can access the Homebodies message boards by going to www.homebodies.org , then clicking on "HB Discussion". You will be givena choice of different message boards you can access, like "Finances","Education", "Pregnancy" or "General Discussion" (the most popularboard). Click on one of these links and a string of messages willscroll down the page. You can read and/or respond to these postingsanytime, day or night. The great thing about the Internet is that it really is a Worldwide Web.On any given day, Homebodies may have visitors from the United States,Canada, Australia, Japan, France or Zimbabwe. The next day, we may hearfrom Sweden, South Africa and Sri Lanka. It's eye-opening to see thatno matter where we live, all parents share similar concerns and hopesfor their children. I've pulled together some comments that past visitors have posted, togive you an idea of what's going on at Homebodies, where owners Mat andRegi Casner have done their best to provide a safe atmosphere for you. "I wanted to say thanks to everyone! I was just re-reading the repliesyou all sent to me awhile back (re: life w/a toddler). I wanted to letyou know how much I appreciated your input and support. It's nice toknow I'm in such good company as a SAHM! This board is one place I knowI can come to and feel validated as a full time mom, in a society thatdoesn't always recognize the hard work we do each and everyday. You allare GREAT!" "I am still adjusting to my new lifestyle, but I can say that I trulyfeel that this is the right decision. I plan on reading these boardsdaily, and I would love a few ideas from experienced SAHMs." "Gracias. Thank you. Merci. Danke. I just wanted to thank you all forall your support and love and guidance over the past months. As youknow, I do this periodically so that you all remember how special youare and that you also remember that SAHM's ROCK! I just want you to knowthat I appreciate that you put up with all my wackiness andopinionatedness (I think I just made that word up but it sounds aboutright). I want you to close your eyes (not right now - keep reading)spread your arms out really wide and wrap them around yourself andsqueeze - that's a hug from me. ." There's no need to feel alone, Mom. Come meet some new Homebuddies at www.homebodies.org . "Mommies on the Web" is excerpted from Cheryl's latest book,"Stay-at-Home Handbook: Advice on Parenting, Finances, Career, SurvivingEach Day More" (InterVarsity Press, 2002). For order information,visit www.homebodies.org/bookstore/orderSAHH.htm or write Cheryl@homebodies.org Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconContentment Robbers Copyright 2002 Deborah Taylor-Hough http://hometown.aol.com/dsimple/ Someone recently told me that they were tired of being in debt and were ready to get their spending under control. But they were concerned about the fact that they still enjoyed spending money to pamper themselves. They were looking for inexpensive "luxury" ideas. I didn't necessarily have specific luxury ideas to suggest, but what I've found over the past several years is that my idea of what constitutes a luxury has changed greatly. When we started on a drastic debt-repayment plan, we had no extra money for anything but the absolute barest necessities for almost five years. I couldn't even shop at thrift stores for clothes -- that would've been too expensive for our severely limited budget. We learned to make things ourselves, accept hand-me-downs from friends and family, make do with what we had, or do without. It was either live like that or be forced into Bankruptcy by our impatient and increasingly nasty creditors. We chose to knuckle under and do what needed to be done, no matter how difficult, in order to pay off our creditors (mainly some huge hospital bills from three premature babies). One of the fist things I noticed when we started our debt repayment plan was the discontent that seemed to overtake me almost constantly. I started praying that I would discover where this discontent was coming from so I could overcome it and put it to rest. Well, it turned out (for me at the time) that the main Contentment Robbers were: Mail-order Catalogs The beautiful items in these catalogs were a constant reminder of all the "wonderful" things I couldn't have anymore -- I overcame this Contentment Robber by tossing all catalogs into the recycling bin as soon as they arrived without even glancing at them. Shopping Malls I hadn't realized how much "recreational shopping" breeds discontent -- I started avoiding malls at all costs unless I had something specific I needed to buy -- and even then I only went in for what was on my list and then I hurried back out before I got distracted by some new housewares store (my personal weakness). Commercial Television Seeing all the latest and greatest constantly paraded before my eyes bred discontent -- I turned off the TV except to watch videos from the library or PBS specials with my kids. Womens' Magazines I cancelled my subscriptions -- I didn't have many magazine subscriptions but the pages of the ones I did have showed perfect homes, beautiful clothes, pampering personal toiletries, etc., which really caused me to begin suffering from a form of lust (maybe "greed" is another word for it?). Shopping Channels / The Internet I've never watched Shopping Channels on TV but I suppose they're probably contentment robbers for some people. Also certain "malls" and "shopping" areas on the Internet would serve as contentment robbers, as well. But probably the biggest surprise of all to me was that the longer I practiced frugal living and read books on the topic, I found that I was more satisfied by the simpler pursuits I was discovering than I ever was by all the shopping and personal luxury items that I had previously considered such a treat. Well, we're no longer in debt (Hooray!!) and money's still tight (being a single income family of five means money is always tight), but I'm not discontent anymore. I have great satisfaction knowing that our debts are "Paid in Full." The accomplishment of paying off our debts is a great luxury in and of itself! Plus, through the process of getting our finances in order, I've gained a new appreciation for the beauty and joy of life's simpler pleasures. Shopping and acquiring new stuff holds little appeal for me anymore. Now I would much rather spend a day hiking a Nature Trail and picnicking in a meadow with my kids, than spending an expensive afternoon sauntering around the Mall eating designer cinnamon rolls and sipping gourmet coffees. But those weren't always my priorities ... I can honestly say I'm much more content since my priorities and ideas of luxuries have changed. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer, wife and mother of three) is the author of "A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity" and the bestselling book, "Frozen Assets: How to cook for a day and eat for a month (Champion Press). To subscribe to her free, twice-monthly email newsletter, Simple Times, subscribe-simple-times@ds.xc.org Visit Debi at: http://hometown.aol.com/dsimple/ Used with permission. All rights reserved. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconSo You Want To Be A Stay-At-Home Mom Homebodies By Cheryl Gochnauer Cheryl@homebodies.org Copyright 1997 (Note from Cheryl: Homebodies was born several years ago, after achecker at a convenience store refused to accept my home number as a"real work number". Infuriated, I wrote a 2500-word letter to the editorof our local newspaper, outlining why I believed deciding to become astay-at-home mom was as valid a career choice as any other. Reader response was so great, the editor asked me to write a weeklycolumn, which spread to scores of other print and online publications,sparked several books and the popular www.homebodies.org , and fired an e-zine currently read by35,000 subscribers and their friends. It's a perfect example of makinglemonade out of lemons. If that checker was still around, I'd shake hishand! I hope you'll enjoy this condensed version of that first letter to theeditor.) I have found the Promised Land, and it is in my own backyard. The honey flows sweetly, whether soft spring breezes are ruffling mychildren's hair, or the kids are splashing through summer's sprinklers,or I join them tumbling in autumn's leaves. Even smacked upside thehead with a preschooler's snowball, I love being a stay-at-home mom. I am a thirty-something, college-educated, work-oriented woman. Rankinghigh on my list of career priorities is providing the absolute best lifefor my children, my husband, and myself. I personally can best achievethat goal by putting my training and education into action on thehomefront. Organizational skills gleaned from the classroom and workplace serve mewell as I juggle my family's needs. In my role as Chief FinancialOfficer, I take our family's paycheck and stretch it in all waysimaginable. As Family Counselor, I untangle a web of relational challenges, fromsibling rivalry to deciphering a toddler's intricate code words. Iactually have the patience to listen to my husband's venting after ahard day, since I'm not just waiting for my chance to grind an axe aboutmy own frustrating experience at the office (although I may have a goodstory or two about the kids). Life is certainly entertaining as I juggle various roles at our FamilyIndustrial Complex. You've seen the hats listed before: teacher,interior decorator, gardener, chauffeur, cook, laundress, accountant,secretary, physician, etc. All rolled together, they equal astay-at-home mom. A classic Type A personality, I am sure that quitting full-time workoutside the home has extended my life considerably. I no longer feel myhead is about to explode as I rush to daycare, rush to work, rush toerrands at lunch, rush back to work, rush to daycare, rush to thesupermarket, rush home, rush supper, rush housecleaning, rush my kids tobed so I can have a moment's peace, rush to my pillow to rush in sixhours sleep before we start this all over again tomorrow. Instead, I can follow a flexible schedule just as vital as any I used tooutline in my Daytimer. I work for a smaller corporation now, a privateentity composed of me, my husband, and our two children. It hasn't always been this way. Although I sincerely wished I could behome with my two daughters, I didn't believe it was financiallypossible. But as I took a complete look at our finances, I found thatafter Uncle Sam, the babysitter, the car finance company and thefast-food diners took their cut, I was bringing home $39 a week. I was sacrificing my dream of being home with my kids for less than adollar an hour. According to the figures, I had been working for thismeasly amount for almost a year. I called my husband and asked if he could pick up $39 in overtime aweek, to which he immediately responded, "Yes." I turned in my noticethat day. It's true. It's not how much you make, it's how much you spend. Wesold our late model luxury car and paid cash for an ancient butwell-maintained auto. Do I miss my plush car? Of course. Am I willingto work full-time so I can have it? Of course not. So I live within my means, knowing that someday, when my children aregrown or more money appears in our household, we may choose to buy a newcar again. Instead of racing to the restaurant for a primo lunch - and watching theclock, cursing the slow waiter, then paying triple what it would havecost to make it myself - I can brown-bag a lunch of PBJ (the perennialkid's favorite) and go to the park on a time schedule I set myself. My luxury car languished in a parking lot when I worked. Now my oldercar patiently waits as my children and I brown ourselves under sunnyskies. We lay on our bellies, our faces inches above the microworldcontained in grass we once just trampled, discovering tiny treasures. Chubby fingers push back my hair and soft lips smack my forehead. "Ilove you, Mommy." No car is worth this. You probably instinctively knew all the pluses to staying home beforeyou started reading this article. Sounds like a great dream, but youcan't afford to quit work. Maybe. Or maybe not. Sit down with your spouse and determine your goals for your family.Don't just look at finances; include personal and spiritual goals. Whatwould be the ultimate situation for your family? What would betolerable? What is unacceptable? Cut out everything that is wasting your money, time and energies.Discover the difference between wants and needs. Are some of your wantsstunting an area of need? Your children are precious. What expendableitems stand between them and you? You may be proud of the beautiful house you have provided for your kids.However, if you find they spend little time there with you - that theyare instead at a childcare center while you make the money to pay themortgage, then there may be a problem in priorities. Same thing with the fancy car. If Mom's not there to drive to funplaces, why bother? There are universal truths, and one Truth is this: when given a choice,young children will always choose time with their beloved parents overtime with things. If after making all the cuts you can muster, you still don't see enoughroom in the budget to leave the office behind, consider the next bestthing: working part-time. It's not always possible for a woman to make the jump from full-timeworker to stay-at-home mom in one leap, even if she wants to. There aremany reasons she might choose to work part-time first. Maybe the budget won't allow a total break right now. Maybe herhusband's a little nervous. Maybe she's not sure exactly how she willlike being home all the time. Whatever the reasoning, going thepart-time route is a road an increasing amount of mothers are choosingto maneuver. Cutting back on work commitments benefits both you and your children.But you may be surprised at the change in your husband, too. Instead ofevenings filled with laundry and housework, you can schedule your choresso that you get off work when he does. Now the evenings are free forfamily fun. Deciding to stay at home is definitely an example of "less is more".Consider simplifying your life and realize the rewards of downscalingmaterial expectations. Like me, you might discover the Promised Land inyour own backyard. Want to read more by Cheryl? Stop by her page at Homebodies where you can read her columns and get info on her at-home parenting books, " So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom ", "Stay-at-Home Handbook" and "Mom to Mom". Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWhat Are They Selling? Helping Your Kids Say "No!" Copyright 2002 Deborah Taylor-Hough http://hometown.aol.com/dsimple/ Do you ever feel helpless in the face of the massive advertising campaigns directed at your children? While watching television, our family has found a way to educate our children about the advertising methods used in commercials. We play a game called "What Are They Trying to Sell Us?" Whenever a commercial comes on the air, we ask our kids to tell us what's being sold, and we also ask what methods are being used to convince us to buy the products. The kids love this game because the answer is not always obvious. Sometimes the commercials are subtle, and it can be challenging for young children to identify what's being sold. By becoming aware of the methods used, our children are finding themselves amused at attempts to convince them they will be more appealing, smarter, etc., by purchasing various items. Rather than passively watching television commercials, this game helps teach that commercials are trying to manipulate people's behavior through the media. By becoming aware of the subtleties of advertising, children and adults alike can become stronger to withstand the commercial onslaught in our daily lives. About The Author:--Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer, wife and mother of three) is the editor of the Simple Times join-simple-times@ds.xc.org and Bright-Kids join-bright-kids@ds.xc.org email newsletters. Debi's also the author of the bestselling book, "Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month", click here for more information .and "A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide for Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity" (Champion Press).Visit Debi at: http://hometown.aol.com/dsimple/ Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. All rights reserved. More >>

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