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Whenever our telephone rings later in the evening, I get a lump in my stomach and my blood pressure rises. I know that the caller is either going to be a telemarketer, a scammer or a family member telling me that a loved one is in the hospital or a car accident.

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As the year draws to a close, do you look back and wonder where the time went? It seems that the days are long, but the years are short. Really short.

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When I was young, I had a board game called The Emily Post Popularity Game. Its underlying theme was that proper etiquette and good manners won friends, which presented opportunities to attend parties, sports events and dinners. After all, who wants a party guest who blows his nose into his hands?

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Swedes have quite the sweet tooth. On average, they eat 35 pounds of candy each year (dailymeal.com). That’s roughly 1,418 more chocolate kisses consumed by Swedes a year than Americans.

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When I learned of John McCain’s death, I was surprised to also learn that his mother is still living. After all, Roberta McCain is 106 years old. Few Americans have the chance to be nearly 82 years old, as Sen. McCain was, and still have the blessing of a living, breathing parent on earth. F…

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A new school year is upon us. As much as it’s a time for students to turn over a new leaf and start the year off right, it’s a time for parents to start the year off right…with the teacher.

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I always thought that Mike Rowe should have spent a week with a toddler in potty training when he did the “Dirty Jobs” show. Cleaning out sewers and working on a mealworm farm have nothing over the mess and high emotions of potty training. Potty training can be messy, smelly and at times, th…

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If we hadn’t moved from the blistering hot sun to the shade at Wrigley Field last Saturday, my husband, daughter and I would’ve been just about an arm’s length away from Baez’s home run ball. Like the nearly 42,000 other fans, we arrived at the Friendly Confines hoping for that one-in-a-mill…

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These hot summer days welcome beachgoers for a cool dip in Lake Michigan. You can almost see the heat radiating off of the pavement these days.

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I never would have guessed that these words could come out of my mouth, but there is a thing as “too much ice cream.” Back in my younger days when I worked at Dairy Queen, my co-workers and I would tire of eating ice cream. While there was no official protocol as to how much ice cream we cou…

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a chilling fact from a 2014 report by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services: “If smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoki…

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The recent suicides of high profile names has incited public conversation about suicide. It’s a topic that is usually relegated to hushed tones.

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We are so blessed to live in a community that offers so many summertime activities: Zoos, hiking trails, beaches, picnic areas, museums, parades, farmers markets, art galleries. Don’t forget to look upward, because some of our finest summer attractions take place in the sky.

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Mother Nature unleashed her heat and humidity on Memorial Day weekend. While it looks like we’ll get a break from the inferno this week, those hot, hot days are sure to return before we’re blessed with a snowfall.

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Memorial Day marks the unofficial first day of summer. Regardless of where the mercury lies, lifeguards will be climbing their towers, teachers will be locking up their classrooms and many dads and moms will be gassing up their tanks – albeit wiping their brow as they wonder what possessed t…

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It’s a funny thing when your toddler realizes you have a real name, besides “Mom” or “Dad.” Repeating that real name is one of their early acts of independence, almost as if they are playing make-believe at adulthood. Maybe it’s an experiment in learning how far they can push the envelope. F…

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If you were wondering to yourself whether spring would ever return, you got your answer this week. As the lightning danced across Wednesday’s night sky, Mother Nature reminded us that it’s not always a peaceful transition from winter to spring.

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It’s generally understood that instilling respectable values in children is an adult responsibility. Sometimes, though, it’s the children who are reminding us of those values when we go astray.

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Whenever I need a good belly laugh, I pull out a Garrison Keillor story. One of my favorite Keillor tall tales is – “My father always said that you can’t plant corn and date women at the same time. It just doesn’t work. You can only do one thing at a time.”

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As England waits with bated breath for their newest royal baby to arrive, I can only think that every baby should be greeted with the same revelry. The pealing of bells and frenzied crowds of well-wishers shouldn’t be reserved for royalty. After all, every baby born has the potential to go o…

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There’s a certain allure to blue window cleansers and purple dish soap that draws young children to them. Perhaps it’s the tasty illusion of blue raspberry snow cone juice or the exotic scent of pomegranates. That same magnetic pull drew my sister and me into eating a handful of chewable vit…

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When my dad recently started telling me the story of his childhood friend who had a pet black crow, I knew it would be something extraordinary.

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When asked about how much wealth he was going to pass onto his children, billionaire Warren Buffet told Fortune magazine in 1986, “I want to give them enough that they would feel they can do anything, but not so much that they can do nothing.”

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When a baby arrives, a parent’s world forever changes. Your heart swells bigger than you ever imagined possible, and you fall head over heels in love with your precious bundle of joy.

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When the clock springs forward on March 11, some children will struggle with having to go to bed an hour earlier. They can’t quite grasp the concept that morning will arrive 60 minutes sooner than it had the previous day. It calls for parents to summon all of their patience as the bedtime ba…

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While students are jumping up and down at the announcement of a snow day, the day off of school leaves parents scrambling to figure out what to do with them. Most grown-ups don’t have the luxury of a snow day. I know that when that cancellation call comes at 5:10 a.m., my jealousy sets in an…

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I finally found a term that describes the situation when an individual leaves the toilet paper roll empty, ignores the cats’ depleted food dish and refuses to discard the box after eating the final cracker. It’s “diffusion of responsibility.” This occurs when one thinks that someone else wil…

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If you’ve wandered up to the lakefront at Washington Park recently, you might have felt like you were transported to Greenland. The shelf ice along Lake Michigan’s lakeshore has again blessed us with a magnificent glacial-looking seascape. Almost as far as the eye can see is a blanket of whi…

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Growing up, New Year’s Eve was probably my second favorite holiday, right behind Christmas. If you count the day we set by our clocks each fall, New Year’s Eve is right behind it.

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I don’t quite have words for it, but there is something uniquely special about New Year’s Eve. It’s as if some kind of magical spell is cast upon us when the clock chimes at midnight. It’s a chance to start anew; the line in the sand separating what once was from what may be.

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For many of us, the time of year between Halloween and New Year’s Day brings unparallelled anticipation and excitement. Holiday baking, decorating, religious observances, shopping and gathering with family and friends consume every waking moment outside of work and school.

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Generations of children have grown up healthy and thriving despite drinking water from garden hoses, riding bicycles without hands on the handlebars and daring each other to eat dirt (or in my family’s case, cat food).

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During a recent fit of insomnia, I watched a late, late 1940s movie, “The Green Promise.” Despite its single star rating, I was drawn in to see its young star, Natalie Wood.

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I opened my “Column” manila folder to prepare for this week’s column. It’s a file bursting at the seams with a collection of news clippings and Post-It Notes relating to parenting and child development.

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Last Sunday, I enjoyed a typical Sunday with my family at church. As a special treat, my daughter and I went to lunch. We must have talked for an hour about anything and everything. Anyone with a teenager knows how few and far between those moments are. On the way home, we listened to Christ…

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A recent online news headline grabbed my attention: “How long $1 million will last in retirement in every state.” You may be thinking what I’m thinking — that I wish I had $1 million so I could see just how long it really would last.

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I remember being told before my oldest daughter was born that I would be able to distinguish her cries from all of the other babies’ cries in the hospital nursery. It was true. And, when I heard those cries, I just had to hold her.

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As a child, I always preferred to go trick-or-treating on a full stomach. That is, a full stomach of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Sweetarts and Milk Duds.

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It may seem that car seats naturally expire. After a car seat’s first resident baby has a few spit-ups and super soggy diapers during drive time, or expresses the lunchtime green peas, the car seat starts to look and smell like something from a musty, abandoned basement. It’s hard to believe…

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With the recent security breach of a major credit bureau, it’s a good time to revisit the topic of identity theft, and how our children may be vulnerable to this insidious cyber crime.

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I have to laugh when I ask my daughter to pick up her shoes, and she says, “I’m exhausted. You don’t know what it’s like to sit in school for seven hours a day.”

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Labor Day marks the unofficial end to summer. While the calendar still gives us three more weeks of the season, the heat and humidity of June and July made me wish it away long ago. I’ve been waiting patiently since February for a snowfall. I can’t wait for winter.

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Memories of a trip to the grocery store with my daughters from more than 14 years ago came flooding back to me this week, thanks to a story my husband shared.

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We wandered into this week with our eyes – albeit protected eyes – focused to the sky. Monday’s eclipse was a sight to behold. Equally intriguing, I believe, is the fact that scientists could pinpoint exactly when and where the eclipse would take place, as well as the percentage and length o…