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05/07/2010
IconA Letter to Moms from Hearts at Home Director Jill Savage In the past week I have found my emotions ranging from disbelief to grief. In the midst of it all has been fear as well. I'm not normally a fearful person, but when I reflect upon my role as a mother in the midst of a crisis like this, it brings about something within me that only another mother would understand. I remember a night, almost 17 years ago, shortly after we brought our first child home from the hospital. I found myself in the dark of the night weeping tears that I had never experienced before. As a new mother I suddenly found myself with a new perspective. I began to see the world in a different way. I no longer had only myself to consider, I now had the responsibility of another life. For the first time in my life, I began to see the realities of the world that I had brought this child into. Suddenly the report of a murder on the evening news brought with it a new emotional experience. A story about a child missing was almost too much to watch. And world news that included the talk of war or conflicts with other countries was very unsettling. As time continued and we added three more children to our home, I found myself coming to terms with the good and the bad in this world that we live in. Each time we added to our family, those old thoughts would creep in, but they would quickly subside as I became wrapped up with the daily responsibilities of motherhood. That is, until September 11. Suddenly I found myself back in a familiar place. Like a mother bear who protects her children I found myself feeling very protective with the lives of those I love. Each news report of the terrorist attacks bring about an emotional response in me that only comes from being a mother When carrying there responsibility of another life our viewpoint changes. We see death, destruction, and world conflict from the perspective of responsibility. It is a feeling that only another mother can understand. The events of the past week cause me to pause and consider what it is I need to equip my children with to live in this crazy world. What can I give them that will keep them strong when the winds of chaos, and even destruction, blow throughout the world What can I pass on to them that will keep their feet firmly planted in hope when hopelessness prevails around them? What gift can I give them that will allow them to find stability in an unstable world? I have only one answer to those questions. The answer is faith. It is faith that will calm their fears. It is faith that will give them peace in the midst of chaos. It is faith that will help them sort through the lies of this world. It is faith that will show them the next step when it seems too dark to walk ahead. You see it was faith that got me through that first night of tears when I contemplated this messed-up world as a new parent. My faith helped me replace my own fears with God's promises. My faith is what allows me to learn to let go as my children grow older. You see my hope for the future of my children can't be based on their relationships in this world, but rather their relationship with the God of the universe. If you've been considering what to do with all that has happened in the past few days, consider giving your children the gift of faith Open up the Bible and read it for yourself and then share with your children what you are learning. Make church a priority each Sunday. Pray for and with your children every day. When we give our children the gift of faith, we are giving a gift that will last a lifetime. Jill Savage is the author of a new book, Professionalzing Motherhood. She also serves as the director of Hearts at Home, an organization designed to educate, encourage, and equip women in the profession of motherhood. For more information about Hearts at Home call 309-888-MOMS or find them on the web at www.hearts-at-home.org Jill lives in Normal, Illinois with her husband and four children ranging in age from five to sixteen. Permission Granted For Use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWHAT MATTERS MOST By Cheryl Gochnauer Like every Tuesday morning, little kids were tossing a football around our front yard, waiting for the school bus to rumble up the street. Like every Tuesday morning, I smiled at them from behind the glass storm door, then turned toward the TV, clicked the remote, and caught the news. The second plane hit the World Trade Center. "Carrie, come here!" I yelled out the front door to my 3rd grader, making her miss the pass. "Wow!" she said, watching the instant replay. Then, "Can I go play?" Man - I wish I could go play. Instead, I'm transfixed in front of the TV, watching the rescue efforts, praying for the missing. My girls seem to be okay. Carrie did ask to sleep with me that night, but since then has been busy planning her birthday party. Her 8th-grade sister, Karen, is studying American History. "That book will have a new cover next year," I remarked. "It'll be a picture of the World Trade Center imploding." We lost more people Tuesday than from Pearl Harbor (2200), D-Day (1500) and the Titanic (1500), combined. It's staggering. So is the response of Americans. I'm a political news junkie, and my stomach has been tied in knots more times than I can count over the past couple of years. Through impeachment, the election and the erosion of religious rights, I've shaken my head, convinced our country was headed for moral meltdown. Then came Tuesday. Amazingly, America leapt up, grabbed her flags and her Bibles and ran to help. Monday, we bickered about taxes and rebates. Tuesday, we flooded New York and Washington with volunteers, money and supplies. Politicians held hands and sang "God bless America" on the Capitol steps. There was an unexpected union of church and state, and our country was better for it. A sad silver lining, I know. But a silver lining none the less. Each of us are now making our way through the stages of grief (defined by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross as denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). We've all been jolted; we all understand how fragile life is, and how precious. Those who read this newsletter every week and visit the website and message boards do so because you love your families, and want to spend as much time with them as possible. Tuesday's events sharpen our resolve to live our lives in such a way that there will be no regrets. As we help others through this tragedy, let's also take this as a universal wake-up call. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. If your heart is calling you home, act. Pay off those bills; put away the charge cards. Bypass anything standing between you and your kids. Those who scoffed at your desire to be an at-home parent last Monday will support you today. As the phone calls from the towers reflected, family is what matters most. (Comments? Email Cheryl@homebodies.org . Or visit her website at www.homebodies.org where you can post messages about the attacks on a special discussion board. Copyright2001 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.) More >>

Tags: Adult Child-Parent, Character, Courage, Conscience, Character-Courage-Conscience, Family/Relationships - Adult Child/Parent, Morals, Ethics, Values, Read On-Air, Values
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05/07/2010
IconUntil Kids Do Us Part By Cheryl Gochnauer "I love being an at-home Mom," says Lee, a 30-something with a couple of boys, ages 2 and 5. "I love the rewards of children. But I feel like it will be an eternity before I get my husband back, all to myself. "We have a very wonderful and solid marriage, but with little ones around, all our conversations are hurried and interrupted." Lee misses quiet walks and spur-of-the-moment getaways, and when she heard some friends were going on an exotic vacation - again - her heart sank. "What I wouldn't give to spend a week all alone with my husband, to savor the joy of being married. I would revel in the opportunity to lay on a beachsomewhere and watch the sun go down, momentarily leaving the cares and worries of life behind." But she's a stay-at-home Mom. There's no money for exotic vacations. There's hardly enough money for a movie! "People tell me that this time passes quickly, but right now it feels like a life sentence," Lee admits. "I strive to find the joy in the little things that I do to serve my family. And most days I am successful." She still misses quality time with her husband, though. I'm sure there are lots of women nodding their heads as they read Lee's words. It's easy for our relationships to get off-balance, especially when children are very young. Babies and toddlers are so high maintenance! The good news is, it does get easier as they get older. Preschoolers are easier than toddlers; 6-year-olds are easier than 4-year-olds. The bad news is, it may be MONTHS before the current stage eases. So what to do? If I can't head to the islands with my lover, what's Plan B? "Bump time with your husband up on the priority list," suggests Nina, a Canadian stay-at-home Mom. "Keep him in mind as you survey the different areas of your life. Some things about having a busy, young family you can't change, but others you can. "It's said so much that now it's a clicheacute;, but PLAN IT IN! If you get too caught up in the day to day, you'll never have time to relax, grow, have fun, etc. You know in your heart that if you neglect yourself, you and your family will suffer for it." "Make sure the kids are getting to bed at a decent hour so that you and your husband have some time together in the evenings." Note Nina's key phrase "decent hour". Wait until you're exhausted, and you slip into a coma instead of into something comfortable. "Write notes to each other. I tape little notes inside my husband's lunch pail." Get out of the house and away from the kids. "When you visit relatives, take advantage of it," Nina advises. Let them enjoy the youngsters while you and your spouse go spend some time together. "Brainstorm with your husband about other ideas such as these that you can incorporate into your life to ease some of the struggles." Where there's a will, there's a way. Stand still in the swirling storm of diapers, tricycles and Beanie Babies. Look your husband in the eye, tell him you love him, and join forces. You'd be surprised how many creative ideas a motivated couple can develop in carving out time together. And the kids will ultimately benefit, too, as that primary relationship in the home - between husband and wife - is given the nourishment it needs to grow and shine. Comments? Email Cheryl@homebodies.org or visit her website at www.homebodies.org For a list of recommended resources for at-home parents, go to www.homebodies.org/recbooks.html. Copyright 2001 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconTREASURES ABOUND IN A MOTHER#146;S DAY by Dayle Allen Shockley When my daughter was born, I left my job to become a full-time mother. There were those who cheered and those who jeered. But regardless of which side of the fence my peers were on, the most frequent question I heard was: Don't you get bored? That question always puzzled me. What did they picture me doing most of the day? Sleeping? Staring into space? Watching the grass grow? If there is one thing mothering is not, it is boring. Certainly, there are times of frustration when you long for nothing more than a month of solitude or a week of socializing, but even if the offer came, few mothers would accept it. They know, as I do, that to do so would mean they would miss something of great value. For even the most ordinary day in a mother's life holds unexpected treasures #150; moments that are beyond price. I am sure you have favorite memories. One of my most cherished days as a mother occurred in 1993. It had been a stressful week. Everywhere I turned, hands were out, begging for more of my time or money or both. I did what I could, often without a simple thank you. That only left me feeling used and unappreciated. What had happened to good manners? It was while I drove home from church that I mulled these things over. Anna, then 7, sat beside me, pretty as a picture in her flowered dress and white patent shoes. Chestnut curls gathered at the crown of her head and dangled in soft coils above her neck. My heart ached as I studied her sweet profile. The last few days had found me working feverishly on projects for the ungrateful crowd, which often resulted in my being a disagreeable mother. More times than not, my daughter's requests had been answered with things like, "Just a minute." "I#146;m busy." "Please, don't bother me now." Yet there she sat without complaint, holding no grudges. Not me. Today, I was full of complaints, and I resented those who robbed me of my time and expertise with no mention of appreciation. Anna seemed to sense my mood and remained quiet on the drive home. As we rolled into the driveway, she said, "Since Daddy is at work, we can just have our own private time, can't we, Mama?" I wasn't sure what she meant, but it sounded good to me. "That will be great, baby. You can help Mama fix lunch, and then we can have our own private time." Through the course of preparing lunch, however, I forgot about her unusual offer. Now, I sat in my office, still brooding like a spoiled brat. In a minute, Anna joined me, settling into the wing-back chair beside my desk. She smoothed down her dress and crossed her legs. Suddenly, I remembered the "private" time and wondered if this were an indication that it had begun. I smiled at her, saying nothing. "Mama," she began, "I just want to tell you how good it is to have you and Daddy." I sat up straight. She didn't wait for my response. "You and Daddy do so much for me, Mama. You buy me clothes and give me food," she said, without hesitating. "You take me to a Christian school and buy me toys. And... I have a nice chair like this to sit in," she said, patting the arms of the chair. I noticed her lips began quivering. "You just do so much for me, Mama." Suddenly, she bolted from the chair and flung herself into my arms. For a long while, we just held onto each other, sobbing. It felt as if my heart would burst. Finally, she pulled away. "I just wanted to say thank you, Mama. Thank you so much." I can't express all of the varied emotions that welled up inside of me. There was joy at the fact that, even with all of my blunders, I must have done something right as a mother. There was grief, recalling the many times during the week that I had ignored my precious daughter's simple wishes, while rushing to satisfy the complex requests of virtual strangers. But perhaps more than anything, there was an intense gratitude that God had blessed me with the notable title: mother. Looking into the face of my child, I couldn't think of a single thing that I would rather be. This article first appeared under a different title in The Dallas Morning News. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. Dayle Allen Shockley is an author whose work has appeared in dozens of publications. Her editorials and essays are regular features in The Dallas Morning News and online at Jewish World Review and www.homebodies.org . Dayle lives with her family in Texas, and is a writing instructor at North Harris College in Houston. Contact her at dshock@family.org . More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMAKING ENDS MEET By Joanne Watson Getting By On One Income If your spouse's income alone doesn't cover all your expenses, you may havethought putting your child in day-care and working outside the home was youronly option. However, by lowering your expenses or raising your spouse's income (or acombination of both) you may be able to stay home with your child and stillmake ends meet. Expenses With the expenses of you working (daycare, a second car, work clothes,lunches out, a possible higher tax bracket due to combined incomes) you mayfind that the second job isn't bringing in as much money as you thought. By cutting back here and there, you may be able to make up for thedifference, and still stay home with your child. Money-saving tips: Your Mortgage You can check mortgage rates on-line at sites like www.Americanloansearch.com and www.Bankrate.com . If your current mortgageis at a much higher rate, you may be able to bring your bills in line byrefinancing at a lower interest rate. Groceries Plan meals ahead for 1 week, and only go to the grocery store after you'veeaten. You are much less likely to blow your budget on impulse buys. Take advantage of sales and coupons. Try to stock up when there is a greatprice, and check your pantry before going to the store. On-line coupons are available on sites such as. www.Coolsavings.com and www.Valupage.com that can help you lower your expenses. Major purchases Another great feature of the Internet is that you can comparison shopwithout running all over town. On major purchases, you may save asubstantial amount of money. Surf the sites you are familiar with, and don't forget to check the searchengines for new places to shop. Sites like www.Mysimon.com can help you findthe best bargains on larger items Car payments Can you do without the second car? If your husband works nearby, maybe hecan leave you the car if he takes the bus or if you drop him off. Whether you have one or two cars, if your payments are too high, think abouttrading in and reducing your payment. Keep track of spending. Those "helpful" ATM cards may be using up your freedom $20 at a time. It'seasy to lose track of spending when you don't register each purchase in acheckbook. Put away your ATM and credit cards. Try using only checks for 30days, and for smaller items, decide at the beginning of the month exactlyhow much money you want to spend. Take that out in cash and put it in anenvelope. Then, when it's gone-it's gone-you can't spend money that isn'tthere. A useful guide to cutting back is You Can Afford to Stay Home by MaliaWyckoff and Mary Snyder. Income Sometimes, no matter how much you cut back or how many coupons you clip, youjust need more money. By helping to raise your husband's income, he may be able to make up for thedifference in what you would be bringing home in after-tax (and afterwork-related expense) dollars, so you can stay home.. The just released book, Team Work: How to Help Your Husband make More Money,So You Can Be a Stay-at-Home Mom by Joanne Watson provides strategies on howto build your husband's confidence, help him negotiate a raise, find a new,higher-paying job, or build a business of his own, and how to use theInternet to help him succeed. Team Work tips include: Build his confidence - and you may build his income. Remind him of how terrific he is by asking himto tell you about the five accomplishments he is most proud of. Tell him youknow he is worth more, and his employer is lucky to have him Network Think about who you know. One of those people may be in a position to helpyour husband by introducing him to a potential employer. Employers oftenprefer to hire someone who has been referred to them by a person they trust.Also encourage your husband to join the trade association for his professionand add to his network. Find one at www.associationcentral.com Help your husband to learn new skills. Knowledge is power-and more money. Take advantage of sites that offer freeon-line training such as www.free-ed.net or www.webmonkey.com , and check outthe low cost management training from the American Management Association at www.amanet.org . Offer to watch the kids so he can study. Help "market" your husband. Make sure his resume shows him in the best possible light. You can get yourhusband's resume re-done professionally at a site like www.resume.com . oruse your local phone book. Ask to see samples of their work before choosinga resume writer. Find out if your husband is underpaid. Check out the salary surveys at www.salary.com or at the reference desk ofyour local library to find out what the average pay is for your husband'sposition. If he is underpaid, print out the survey for him to use innegotiating for a raise. Practice for success Help your husband practice asking for a raise or interviewing for a new job.By being prepared, he is much more likely to be cool, calm and collected inthe actual interview. Drill the possible responses and his come-backs to his raise request untilhe is comfortable and confident at it. Rather than let your financial situation dictate your decision about whetherto stay home or return to work, getting (and using) the right informationcan empower you to make choices based on what is right for you and yourfamily. Ed. Note: Tips from Team Work: How to Help Your Husband Make More Money, SoYou Can Be a Stay-at-Home Mom by Joanne Watson are re-printed with permission from Family Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMOM THINKS I'M A SLACKER By Cheryl Gochnauer If your parents and in-laws support your decision to be an at-home mom, givethem a big hug. Not everyone is so blessed. "My mother never misses an opportunity to let me know how unimpressed she iswith my choice," Brandy says. "I left my dream job to come home to my twodaughters. The catalyst was my oldest starting kindergarten, which wasgoing to change the routine drastically. My husband and I decided thatafter all the years of thinking about it, we would go for it. "My mom tried to talk me out of it, and now that it's done, she keeps makingcomments. We'll be in a store together and I'll point out something I like,and she says, 'Well, if you had your own money, you could get it.' "She also said my five-year-old is 'suddenly getting so hard-headed. Whendid this start?' Maybe I'm oversensitive, but I want to say, 'On the day Itook over raising her!' I also want to say, 'Don't worry. She'll be inschool full-time soon, and I won't have as much of a chance to mess her up.'She hasn't yet mentioned the two-year-old backsliding behavior-wise, but I'msure it's coming. "Mom's always worked, and she doesn't really enjoy small children, so shecan't understand why I would want to 'isolate' myself from adults, blah blahblah." "All I have to say is, I look at my girls and my husband, and don't worry abit about what she thinks - or try not to, anyway." Hang in there, Brandy. Everything you're going through is normal. Theinitial resistance from some relatives, the kids acting up - many newat-home parents experience the same things. You mentioned that your daughter is getting "hard-headed". Just wanted youto know that this is a very common occurrence when moms first come home. Allthe boundaries have changed, and so kids go into testing mode. My own two-year-old followed me around everywhere that first month. I wasalways tripping over her. But she was simply curious as to when I was goingto leave. After a few weeks, she settled down. Let your mother know that, in the long run, your children will likely bebetter behaved than if you weren't home. That's because you're on the sceneas a loving parent to immediately protect, correct or redirect according toyour family's values. Overall I'm a strong advocate of passive resistance when dealing withunsupportive people. Don't snap back at irritating comments, firing theconflict. Instead say something like, "I see your point" or "thank you forsharing your opinion." Notice I didn't follow either of those comments with "but.". There's an oldsaying about not throwing your pearls before swine. Now I'm not callingyour mother a pig! I simply mean that it does no good to share heart-heldbeliefs with someone who will only trample them. Watch for opportunities to bridge the gap in those quiet times when you andyour mother are friendly and open toward one another. It's not necessary totry to win her over in one conversation. Instead, let time do that, as shesees positive changes evolve and watches your marriage and her grandchildrenthrive because of your decision to be home. (Comments? Email Cheryl@homebodies.org . Or visit her website at www.homebodies.org where you can read a sample chapter of her book, "So YouWant to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom" (InterVarsity Press). Copyright2001 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconTax Preparers Work Only Three Months Per Year (OR How To Improve Your Golf Skills) From www.mycoolcareer.com Wednesday, April 9 - Find out about the career of a Tax Preparer! Los Angeles, CA - April 4, 2003 - According to the IRS nearly 47 million individual tax forms were filed electronically during the 2002 tax filing season. More than 33 million of these taxpayers hired a tax professional to do the e-math, up from over 22 million in 2001. Many taxpayers continue to utilize the not-free services of tax professionals. The National Association of Tax Professionals ( www.natptax.com ) says that because of the experience and knowledge of the latest tax law changes that tax professionals have, "consulting a tax preparer not only pays for itself, but offers you a learning experience that will help you better structure your financial matters for future savings." Andrew Lewis, a veteran self-employed tax preparer in Santa Monica, California says he's got a great job, the three-month crunch from mid-January to April 15 and all. Lewis said, "I enjoy the people part of my career and I look forward to meeting my clients annually, finding out what's new in their lives, and making the tax season easy for them." Lewis says that one of the most amazing things about preparing for a career as a tax preparer is that it requires only a high school diploma, some training by a company like HR Block, and passing the licensing exams. Says Lewis, "It's one of the easiest careers to access." Lewis, who did earn a 4-year college degree and is himself a former IRS employee, adds, "It's not necessary to go to college and become a CPA in order to become a tax preparer. That's a myth!" Lewis talks about the details of becoming and being a tax preparer (and his nine-month golf vacation), in the upcoming 30-minute web radio show webcast from MYCOOLCAREER.com on Wednesday, April 9th at 5 p.m. PT. MYCOOLCAREER.com , popular career exploration website for teens and 20's, features fun and info-packed 30-minute weekly career interviews. Jill Sanborne hosts the weekly webcasts, researches young adults and provides solutions to the challenges they face in planning for rewarding careers, and speaks to teens and parent audiences about how teens can prepare for an awesome future. The site is recommended by CareerProNews.com , endorsed by Barbara Sher and the Los Angeles Unified School District Counseling Services K-12. Contact Jill for more information about preparing teens for the workplace at jill@mycoolcareer.com Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWhy Are You Still At Home? Responses for Stay-at-Home Parents of School-Age Kids By Lucynda Koesters So you're a stay-at-home parent of kids in school. It's back toschool time and you just know you're going to get those questions andcomments from people, some well-meaning and some not. You know: "What areyou going to do all day now that the kids are in school?" "Are you goingback to work?" "Can't you get a part-time job?" "Aren't you going to getbored?" "Don't you feel guilty not working?" No matter how much you brace yourself for this onslaught, you stillcringe when the questions arrive. Part of it probably is a little guiltyou feel because you have no intention of returning to any work outside thehome. That's ok, because it is societal pressure that makes you feel thisway. Everyone is supposed to work at a job in this country. While we paylip service to the at-home parent of small children, it is somehow wrongfor a parent of school-age children to remain at home. Responding to these inquiries in a pleasant and non-defensive frameof mind is very hard to do, but it is not impossible. What's required is afirm belief in your chosen way of life. Why ARE you at home with children who are now back in school formost of the day? Why AREN'T you going back to work? What are thebenefits of being at home at this stage of family life? Sorry, but to successfully handle the inquiries, you must be ableto answer these questions in your own mind. The first step is getting ridof the guilt and gaining a firm belief in yourself and your chosenlifestyle. To help you get started, reflect on these benefits of astay-home parent: A stay-home parent is usually the last person children see and talk tobefore they leave and the first person to greet them when they arrive home.Children derive a great sense of security from knowing a parent isavailable to them immediately before and after school. Children have achance to get valuable words of encouragement in the morning and anopportunity to share their day in the afternoon. Children are also greatlysupported in the knowledge that mom or dad is at home and available duringthe day in case of a problem at school. A stay-home parent can get household chores, cooking and errands doneduring the school day, thereby freeing up the valuable afternoon hours tohelp with homework and creating true family time in the evenings. A stay-home parent often has the freedom and flexibility to volunteer atthe children's school during the school day. Seeing the parent'sinvolvement, children learn to value their education. The parent gets aninvaluable understanding of the inner workings of the school and how thechildren spend time there. Parents develop better relationships withteachers, school staff and other parents, increasing the children's senseof security. A stay-home parent is often a less-stressed parent, fully available tosupport the needs of the family in the after-school hours. Having a calmand content parent to anchor the family is a great benefit to all members. Now that you have reviewed a few reasons you are not going to work,what do you say to all these people who question your choices? Here are afew diplomatic and non-threatening responses: I plan to remain at home to be available before and after school for thekids, and to volunteer at school during the day. Between housework,homework and school duties, I will keep very busy. Our family really needs me to remain at home - it's worked out well sofar, and I plan to continue as long as possible. The children like the fact that I'm home. They like coming home afterschool instead of going to the after-care program. It gives us time tocomplete homework before going to soccer practices. During the day, there are a million things to get done at home; I'mreally very busy. But, I like to have afternoons and evenings free for thefamily, so I plan to stick to this schedule. So, the next time you encounter some well-meaning, or maybe not sowell-meaning friend or relative firing off questions about your lifestyle,remain calm and pleasant and answer them with quiet conviction that yourlifestyle is best for you and your family. Lucynda Koesters is a stay-home mom of two school-age kids and a free-lancewriter, concentrating on family issues. Write her at: lkoestrs@venus.net More >>

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